Lifestyle

Testing the water: Floater wetsuit helps non-swimmers overcome their fear of taking the plunge

October 1, 2020

A wetsuit called the Floater is getting people into the water after decades of living in fear. Invented by surfer and entrepreneur Mark Okrusko, the Floater wetsuit keeps non-swimmers buoyant with a patented flotation panel attached over the chest area

 “All wetsuits may look similar; however, [this] wetsuit stands, or floats, above the rest because of the added flotation device in the front panel.” Orusko recently told The Good News Network.

Traditionally, there are flotation belts, but they can be difficult to use—with a tricky center of gravity that can leave the wearer face down in the water. Life jackets often ride up on the neck and can be uncomfortable and bulky.

Donna Mudge, a resident of Santa Barbara, needed something special to conquer her fear. Now in her mid-fifties, she never had learned to swim. “Every time I was swimming, I feared that I would sink. And when I panicked, I would sink,” Mudge told GNN.

Swimming lessons from a lifeguard friend did little to alleviate Mudge’s fear. After one bad incident in the deep end during her swimming lessons, Mudge said, “I gripped the edge of the pool so tight, my friend couldn’t get me to let go.”

But, after trying the Floater, “I felt I could get in the water without someone watching me,” said Mudge, who now has the confidence to go boogie boarding by herself for the first time ever.

Sandra Brodeur of Nashua, New Hampshire, also has overcome her fear of water, using the floatation wetsuit. For as long as she can remember, Brodeur always feared not being able to touch the bottom, which made it difficult to learn to swim. “I tried everything—including private lessons, and could never get over the panic when I couldn’t touch the bottom of a pool or ocean floor,” said Brodeur.

Then her boyfriend, an avid sailor, wanted to take her to the British Virgin Islands for a sailing and snorkeling vacation. “He found the Floater wetsuit online and we ordered one. I felt so safe and confident at all times from the buoyancy of the suit that for the first time in my life I could relax in the water and enjoy it. At times, I was in 30-40 feet of water without fear! To me, that is a miracle.” said Brodeur.

“People write to us all the time about how they can now do activities in the water they never felt confident to do before, from children to young adults to seniors,” said Ruth Wishengrad, VP of the new California-based company., called Airtime Watertime.

The suits cost $149.95 for women; $169.95 for men; and $89.95 for the children’s style.

Research contact: @atwtfloater

How could Trump deduct $70,000 for his hair? Stylists say the answer is not ‘cut and dried’

September 30, 2020

A recent bombshell New York Times report revealed that President Donald Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017—but an almost equally “hair-raising” part of that report had to do with the price he paid for his signature bouffant ‘do .

The Times exclusive, which drops several huge bombshells—including the fact that Trump is in debt for $421 million—also reveals that he wrote off a whopping $70,000 on hairstyling expenses while he hosted of “The Apprentice.

On behalf of those Americans who have overdrawn their bank accounts shelling out $300 for highlights, on September 28, the Huffington  Post asked: How?

A request from HuffPost writer Jamie Feldman for answers from professionals on a beauty and style page on Facebook left her with some answers she expected: It’s possible but not probable; it could be due to a high day rate or medical procedure (like hair plugs); or perhaps some of that money goes toward NDAs that prevent stylists from disclosing details of their services. But the general consensus appeared to be that it would be pretty difficult to get to that number on salon services alone.

Joey Silvestera, founder of the Blackstones and Five Wits salons in New York City, said he believes there are one of two scenarios at play here, but only one seems to him to be in the realm of possibility.

When you do the math over a 12-month period, even if he went to a top stylist and colorist and went every four weeks, which most males do, it’s virtually impossible to hit those numbers,” he told HuffPost over the phone. “Unless there was some sort of medical treatment that year like hair plugs ― which still would be under $20,000 for one treatment—I don’t think it’s very likely.”

The less cutting and more logical explanation, Silvestera said, is that Trump had a hairstylist on retainer, working for a salary of $70,000.

“That’s a normal salary for a mid-level hairdresser in places like New York City or Los Angeles, where it’s high fashion and a hard cost of living,” he said. “If he has a hairdresser who follows him around for photos, appearances, to make sure his hair is OK …. It would include styling daily, haircutting, coloring, it sounds about right.”

Silvestera pointed to hairdressers he knows who work for morning news programs and make between $80,000 to $100,000. So while he said it’s easy to see how social media would twist it, the amount doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

However, if that’s not the case, Silvestera called the fees “the most expensive hair services I’ve ever heard of on the planet.”

Ashley Watts, a professional hair and makeup artist based in Raleigh, North Carolina, who also does commercial and editorial work, agreed that the amount is feasible. Her calculations, however, break it down in a slightly different way.

“On average for a political appearance, I make $500 to $1,500 for styling depending on the job, the person, the amount of time I need to be there, etc.,” she said. “But typically stylists who do this type of work are paid per day, on location, and most of us in the political world have to have high clearance to even be in the same room with politicians―something also common with celebrities.”

According to that logic, Watts said she would guess the stylist is being paid $1,000 minimum per appearance. Calculate that out weekly for a year and you get $52,000 for the stylist fee alone.

Watts also made an educated—but unfounded—guess that Trump may wear a hair piece, which could contribute to costs.

“I would assume Trump would only want the best hair piece, made from quality material billed back to the beautiful taxpayers,” she said. “A custom hand-woven lace-front piece made with real human hair would cost about $2,000. He probably had someone who maintains keeping the specimen along with any custom pieces in his wardrobe. So, for the sake of the article, let’s say it’s cleaned once a month and repaired as needed―that’s around $750 per month. So $9,000 for wig-keeping. Plus, let’s assume he has five pieces in rotation at $2,000 each. Would you look at that? $10,000.”

According to Watts’ guesses, $52,000 for styling, $9,000 for maintenance on hair pieces and $10,000 for “a couple of good custom pieces” total out to $71,000.

“As you can see, it’s pretty easy to come up with that total if he’s using freelance personnel for this type of service,” she said. “Actually, if this is what he’s paying, he’s probably getting a decent deal!”

We may never know for sure how Trump landed on a $70,000 hair write-off (in addition to reportedly written-off payments of close to $95,000 for “a favorite hair and makeup artist of Ivanka Trump”). These professional opinions are just that—opinions.

But it’s clear that Trump thinks that hair makes the man.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Going long: Study finds both Biden, Trump likely to be ‘super-agers’

September 29, 2020

Both 2020 presidential candidates—former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, and President Donald Trump, 74—are likely to maintain their health and cognitive functions beyond the end of the next presidential term, according to findings of a recent study published in the Journal on Active Aging, University of Illinois Chicago, Medical Xpress reports.

Indeed, longevity researcher S. Jay Olshansky and his colleagues have concluded that chronological age and fitness should not be factors in the 2020 election.

“It is our conclusion that chronological age is not a relevant factor for either candidate running for President of the United States,” the authors write. “Both candidates face a lower than average risk of experiencing significant health or cognitive functioning challenges during the next four years.”

To evaluate each candidate’s likelihood of surviving a four-year term in office, the researchers scientifically evaluated the candidates’ health status based on publicly available medical records and confirmed publicly available personal information. The medical records of each candidate were independently evaluated by three medical doctors with experience in aging and a team of research scientists with expertise in epidemiology, public health, survival analysis, and statistics.

This is the first time, Medical Xpress reports, that the medical records and personal attributes of presidential candidates have been scientifically evaluated by physicians and scientists in the field of aging.

The key findings of the study:

“We see chronological age as a topic of discussion time and again during elections, even though scientific and medical evidence tells us that biological age is far more important,” said Olshansky, professor of epidemiology and biostatics at the UIC School of Public Health.

Biological age is reflective of how rapidly a body is growing old—this occurs at different rates, Olshansky said. “Biological age is influenced by genetics and behavioral risk factors. Some people can be biologically old at age 50 while others can be biologically young at age 80.”

In prior research, Olshansky conducted the first scientific evaluation of presidential longevity; he sought to understand if being president causes an individual to age more rapidly and die sooner than expected. In that study, Olshansky concluded that most U.S. presidents actually live beyond the average life expectancy.

Research contact: @xpress_medical

Chadwick Boseman mural inspires Downtown Disney

September 28, 2020

A powerful tribute to beloved actor Chadwick Boseman, who died in late August at the age of 43, has been unveiled in California’s Downtown Disney District.

The mural, entitled “King Chad,” was created by former Disney Imagineer Nikkolas Smith and depicts Boseman, who played King T’Challa in “Black Panther,” giving a Wakanda salute to a child wearing a hospital gown and a “Black Panther” mask, ABC-TV’s Good Morning America reports..

Boseman, who succumbed to colon cancer, had famously visited with children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

“This one is special. My King Chad tribute is now on a wall on display at Downtown Disney,” Smith wrote on Instagram on September 24. “It is a full circle moment for me: My final two projects as a Disney Imagineer last summer were working on the Children’s Hospital project and the Avengers Campus.

“To millions of kids, T’Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman,” Smith added, noting,. I’m so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick’s life and purpose in this way.”

Disneyland is not yet open to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Downtown Disney reopened in July, GMA reports,  with capacity restrictions.

Research contact: @GMA

Back in style: If you want to get ahead, get a headband

September 25, 2020

They were everywhere in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wore them frequently, as did Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, Selma Blair in Legally Blonde—and the ultimate queen of headbands and venomous remarks, Leighton Meester as Gossip Girl ’s Blair Waldorf .

And they were almost single-handedly resurrected in 2018 by Chrissy Tieigen, who upped her social game with a new Instagram Storie series called “Headband of the Day”  (or #HBOTD) while on vacation with husband John Legend and their two children. Legend even penned a song about her

Before the pandemic, the hair accessory featured largely on the catwalks of top brands. Prices varied widely, with a Tom Ford glass-crystal version coming in at a cool $1,960, while Asos and Topshop versions start at $6.25

“Headbands are driving sales on jewelery, which are up 70% in the last year,”  an Asos spokesperson told The Guardian. “We are seeing really good reactions, particularly to florals. We have sold out of animal and geo print styles, and last week vintage prints were our bestsellers. We have 73 new styles about to drop online.”

Experts say the look is definitely making a comeback. “The headband is a key accessory that designers are embracing, and it’s a quick fix that keeps hair chic and tidy for the summer,” said Tina Outen, a stylist used by Vogue.

The trend is back in fashion because of its nostalgic feel, the Guardian notes. “A thinner band that sits further back on the head brings a 1960s vibe, while a piece of colorful patterned fabric knotted on the side evokes the 1970s girl look,” said Outen. “The huge 1980s revival sees polka dot hairbands ruched to imitate a scrunchie, and the 1990s look is a wide band worn low on the hairline.”

Caryn Franklin, fashion commentator and professor at Kingston School of Art, told The Guardian that she agrees. “From Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy onwards, the headband has had so many key moments. Wearing one allows us to channel the energy of grace under pressure,” she said.

Social media platforms have also helped, in part because headbands photograph well. Hannah Almassi, editorial director of Who What Wear UK, said: “In a super-visual age it makes sense to add to an outfit with look-at-me headgear. Floral headbands peaked due to their overuse at festivals, but tweak them a little and you have something that can feel entirely current.”

Research contact: @Guardian

Study: Hawaii is the happiest state in America

September 24, 2020

During a pandemic, the grass is always greener on the other side: Wherever you live, you wonder whether somewhere else—anywhere—might offer a safer and more stable lifestyle.

So where’s the best place to live in the United States? Not on the mainland, according to results of a WalletHub study released on September 22—which ranked the naturally socially distanced islands of Hawaii as the Happiest State in America.

Filling out the top ten on the list were Utah, Minnesota, New Jersey, Maryland, California, North Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, and Connecticut, according to a report by Travel+Leisure.

“Happiness is a feeling of joy, contentment, and overall positive emotions,” Dr. Chieh-Chen Bowen of Cleveland State University’s Psychology Department is quoted in a WalletHub press release.. “Happiness is a universal goal. We all want to be happy and want such feelings to last.”

To attempt to best measure happiness, WalletHub used three dimensions on a 100-point scale, weighting “emotional and physical well-being” with 50 points and “work environment” and “community and environment” with 25 points each.

While Hawaii ranked number one overall, it came in second for “emotional and physical well-being,” after New Jersey; and third for “community and environment,” following Utah and Idaho. Meanwhile, it snagged the number 16 spot for “work and environment,” with Utah and Idaho also topping that category.

The study also revealed top rankings in subcategories, with Minnesota coming out on top for the highest adequate sleep, New Jersey with the lowest share of adult depression, North Dakota with the lowest long-term unemployment rate, Utah with the highest volunteer rate, and Maine as the safest.

While WalletHub has been doing its Happiest States study since 2014, the financial site notes the particular circumstances of the year making a difference. “In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life as we know it, causing sickness, limiting social interactions, and leading to widespread job losses,” WalletHub’s Adam McCann wrote. “During these trials, which have had a strong negative impact on Americans’ mental health, WalletHub searched for the states where people can stay positive despite the circumstances.”

The bottom of the list starts with Missouri in 40th place, followed by Oregon, Alaska, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and West Virginia, which landed in the last spot.

Before lockdowns started spreading in March, WalletHub also released the results of its Happiest Cities in America study, which used similar metrics. Fremont, California; Plano, Texas; San Jose, California; Irvine, California; and Madison, Wisconsin made the top five. The top-ranking Hawaiian city was Pearl City in the tenth slot, with Honolulu also on the list at number 56.

As a state, this isn’t the first contentment study that Hawaii has topped. For seven years, it also placed first in Gallup’s overall well-being rankings.

Research contact: @TravelLeisure

Color me beautiful: Don’t wear this shade on a first date, researchers say

September 23, 2020

It’s the color of any number of good things—the sun, canaries, school buses, corn bread, rubber duckies, lemons, bananas, egg yolks—but it’s definitely not the color you should wear on a first date.

Indeed, findings of a poll conducted by vouchercodespro.co.uk among 1,128 females and 1,232 males across the United Kingdom, wearing the color yellow can instantly make you appear less attractive to a prospective suitor.

Both men and women find yellow to be among the least attractive color options: 39% of men and 31% of women said it was likely to be a sartorial put-off, Best Life reports.

First impressions are superficial, but they have lasting effects on the way in which we are perceived. A 2010 study published in the journalEvolutionary Psychologyfound that men and women both ranked the opposite sex as the least attractive when they were clad in yellow duds.

Plus, a survey conducted by U.K.-based clothing company Buyshirtsonline found that yellow once again ranked near the bottom alongside brown and orange as the color least likely to inspire confidence. Additionally, it was one of the colors that “exudes arrogance,” alongside orange and red.

Finally, would the color of a date’s outfit be sufficient reason to turn down another meeting with that person? Best Life reports that fully 38% of women and 27% of men said yes.

Research contact: @bestlife

The toast of the town: A Japanese artist makes delectable art during lockdown

September 22, 2020

During quarantine, many of us picked up a new hobby—baking bread, putting together jigsaw puzzles, painting by numbers. But it’s Japanese artist Manami Sasaki who found the ultimate distraction du jour: toast art.

In her Tokyo kitchen, Sasaki concocted chic culinary creations on a carb canvas—think homages to Picasso and Mondrian, recreations of Japanese Edo-period (1603-1868) paintings, abstract nods to Mickey Mouse, and even an edible take on American comic book art. Then, she posted the stylized results on her Instargam account, @sasamana1204.

“The reason I started doing toast art was lockdown. I was spending an hour and a half commuting to work, but working from home led me to wake up late and get lazy,” Sasaki told Vogue Magazine recently. “I wanted to get up early in the morning and create a morning routine that would excite me. That’s when I started the toast art for breakfast.”

Why toast? “I’ve eaten bread every day since I was born, so expressing it on toast was a natural progression,” Sasaki says. She saw an opportunity to both show off not only her talent, but also that of other Japanese creators—in a way that everyone would connect with. “Most of the su

Art source: #sasamana1204/Instagram

bjects I’ve painted on bread have been from Japanese culture. Since 80% of my Instagram followers are international, I’m motivated to introduce Japanese culture and artists. So I use bread and text to show off the appeal of the subject matter.”

Each piece, Sasaki says, takes around three hours to make from start to finish. After deciding on a concept, she walks to her local supermarket to shop for ingredients. She’s cognizant of which materials change color and shape when applied to heat (an important factor to consider when a toaster is involved). Recently, she used prosciutto to represent the orange slickness of a goldfish, and purple cabbage to illustrate the regal feel of a kimono; blueberries served as a centerpiece of a summer flower.

And lest you think this is merely an aesthetic exercise, Sasaki makes sure each work tastes delicious. That aforementioned flower toast? In addition to blueberries, it was made of sesame cream, sour cream, and chervil, topped off with honey drizzle. If she doesn’t think through her concept, she notes, “My breakfast time will be a disappointment. I’m determined to avoid it!”

Research contact: @voguemagazine

And this little piggy is photogenic

September 21, 2020

A newborn piglet “hogged the camera” recently—and the resulting photos are being greeted with oohs and aahhs all over social media.

Oklahoma-based photographer Cashlie White, who typically takes photos of families, newborns and weddings, photographed the piglet—who is named Dynamite and is just a wee bit over two weeks old.

“I usually don’t do pictures of pigs,” White told ABC-TV’s Good Morning America, noting this was her first pig photoshoot.

The 34-year-old photographer and mom of two said she got the idea to do a newborn piglet photoshoot after seeing a photo of Dynamite shared by her friend, Connie Hamilton. Hamilton breeds pigs like Dynamite for competitions.

White said taking photos of the piglet was just like taking photos of a newborn baby.

“She got a bath before the shoot and I used all of my newborn ‘shoosh-ing’ and swaddling tricks, just like a reg

Photo source: Cashlie Joy Photography

ular newborn session and she went to sleep in my arms!” White wrote on Facebook. “We kept her warm and the room quiet and she was OUT and in Hog Heaven! After the shoot she woke up and was on the run back to momma!”

“With any newborn session, I have a small little space heater … kind of just keep them warm and cozy. And that’s what I did with the pig,” White said.

White shared the photos on the Cashlie Joy Photography Facebook page and said she didn’t expect to receive such a positive reaction.

White said she hopes to keep spreading smiles with more photos of baby animals soon.

Research contact: @GMA

Prepare to feel old: American Girl’s latest ‘historical’ doll evokes the 1980s

September 8, 2020

If you haven’t felt your age in a while, wait until you hear the latest toy industry news: American Girl has announced the release of this season’s “historical character” doll—and it’s Courtney Moore, a 1980s-era cutie-pie who loves arcade games, The Huffington Post reports. 

On September 15, the brand unveiled Courtney, whom it describes as, “a total ’80s girl who’s changing the game to find her inner hero.” Courtney joins an illustrious line of historical characters from American Girl, including Edwardian-era Samantha Parkington, Felicity Merriman from the time of the Revolutionary War, and civil rights activist Melody Ellison.

According to the press release, Courtney’s story takes place in 1986 and “reflects the pop culture of the decade from sky-high hair, neon-colored fashions, music television, and video gaming to major historical moments surrounding women in government and space exploration, as well as larger cultural shifts around blended families and emerging technology.”

As for Courtney, HuffPost reports that she is one of the top-scoring PAC-MAN players  at her local arcade in the fictional town of Orange Valley, California; and dreams of one day creating video games with more female characters. She has a blended family, her mom is running for mayor; and to make things super meta, she loves playing with her American Girl Molly doll―the World War II-era character that the brand debuted in 1986. In fact, Courtney has her own mini version of the Molly American Girl doll.

In addition to her Molly doll, Courtney’s accessories include a cassette player and tape, colorful bangle bracelets, fake Lip Smacker balm, a hot pink bunk bed with rainbow bedding, a see-through phone, Care Bears and Caboodles ― basically all of the cool products that ’80s kids remember fondly.

American Girl enlisted classic 1980s girl band The Go-Go’s to help announce the new character. Through a new partnership with Girls Who Code, the brand will also match customer donations dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000 through December 31 and provide four computer science-related scholarships to support the nonprofit’s mission to close the gender gap in technology.

Research contact: @HuffPost