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

If you’re registered to vote, Samuel L. Jackson will enroll you in his Masterclass on that art of cursing

September 17, 2020

He may be a scholar, but is he a gentleman?

F**king register to vote, says Samuel L. Jackson. The swear-happy actor and producer, 71, is offering to teach an epic, multi-language course on the art of cursing, if enough people double-check that they’re registered to vote, The New York Post reports.

“Listen up — if 2,500 of you click a voting action below to make sure that you’re #GoodToVote, I will teach you to swear in 15 different languages,”  Jackson tweeted on Monday, September 14.

The tweet also includes a link to his page on voter registration website HeadCount, which offers red, white, and blue buttons that will help Americans to:

  • Register to vote,
  • Check your registration status, and
  • Make your “vote plan.”

Jackson is well-known for being among the Hollywood actors with the most prolifically dirty onscreen mouths—although a survey conducted earlier this year found that The Wolf of Wall Street star Jonah Hill beat Jackson for the top slot, according to the Post. While Jackson has sworn onscreen 301 times in his career, Hill has sworn 376 — mostly in the swear-heavy Martin Scorsese flick.

In addition to cussing on-screen and using obscenities to encourage Americans to vote, Jackson also produced a profane PSA in April. “Stay the f ** k home,” the Pulp Fiction actor said during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in response to quarantine orders designed to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also riffed on the book Go the F ** k to Sleep during the appearance, presenting the 2011 kids bedtime story as a public order that people should not leave their homes, including the verse:

“Stay the f ** k at home
Corona is spreading; this s -** t is no joke
It’s no time to work or roam
The way you can fight it is simple, my friends
Just stay the f -** k at home

Research contact: @nypost

It’s a tough year. So, a Wisconsin farmer planted 2 million sunflowers just to cheer us up

September 16, 2020

We can’t say everything is coming up roses this year. But, at the Thompson Strawberry Farm in Bristol, Wisconsin, everything is coming up sunflowers—two million sunflowers, in fact.

And that’s enough to make most people smile, which is just the reaction that the family farmers who own the property were seeking, according to a report by USA Today.

Scott Thompson, a fourth generation berry farmer, said it was his wife’s idea to bring blossoms of sunshine into the mix this year. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, they knew they wanted to help people—especially those in nearby urban areas—with an escape “to get away from their reality for a little bit,” Thompson told the news outlet.

So, over five weeks, Thompson progressively planted sunflower seeds across 22 acres. The grand number of two million wasn’t originally in his head—but the result allowed visitors to experience (and Instagram) a six-week to eight-week bloom instead of a typical 10 to 14-day stint.

“It just keeps going and going — and I think that’s really captured the hearts of people,” Thompson told USA Today.

“Every single day has just become busier and busier.”

Thompson Strawberry Farm is about an hour outside Chicago and a 35-minute drive to downtown Milwaukee. The establishment offers “Pick-Your-Own” strawberries, raspberries, pumpkins, and now sunflowers.

“You get to walk through these beautiful fields,” said Thompson.

“It’s just a naturally, socially-distant activity,” he said. “[People want] an hour … to be outside, and just kind of feel a little sense of normalcy in our lives—so it’s had a lot of positive impact.”

“And whether we made a dime or not, we’ve sure had a lot of fun doing it.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

Steve Martin reveals a major problem with face masks—and his hilarious solution

September 15, 2020

Celebrities are the one group of people whom you might think would be just fine with wearing face masks. After all, they seem to spend most of their time covered in hats and sunglasses—supposedly seeking to elude the swarm of paparazzi that follows them everywhere.

With fewer people on the streets these days—and that means both fewer photographers and civilians—you would think there would be joy in Hollywood, Malibu, the Hamptons, and other celebrity hangouts. But you might be wrong.

According to a report by NBC-TV’s Today show, some stars are actually starting to appear indistinguishable from the designer-clad bourgeois—not a good look, they would say.

Steve Martin is one celeb who actually has a problem with not being recognized, so much so he created a hilarious solution for himself to circumvent that apparent issue.

“I always wear a mask when I go outside,” he wrote on Twitter to his 8.6 million followers. “But something about it was leaving me anxious and unsettled. I thought about the problem, addressed it, and here is the solution.”

(See photo above.)

Give it a shot: Why you need to get the flu shot during the pandemic

September 14, 2020

Even if you usually would be as likely to get a flu shot as to get shot out of a cannon, 2020has become the year for you to step up, grit your teeth, put on your favorite face mask, and get vaccinated, Bustle medical expert Dr. Julia Blank, a board-certified family physican in Pacific Palisades, California, tells us. :

Never done it before? Make this year a first, Dr. Blank advises.

Why? Because the 2020-21 flu shot is expected to be effective at keeping people from getting the flu—and is our best bet, if we want to keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed by flu and COVID-19 patients at once.

“It’s important to get the flu vaccine this year for several reasons,” Dr. Blank recently said during an interview with Bustle.. For one, she says, immunity from the previous vaccine wanes in about six months, so it won’t protect you from year to year.

“It’s important to boost your body’s production of antibodies each flu season,” she says. On top of that, the flu itself evolves season to season; last year’s vaccine won’t protect you as well against this year’s strain. “The flu vaccine is updated each flu season to better match the surveillance data about which strains of flu virus are currently circulating and predicted to circulate during the coming season,” Dr. Blank says.

In the winter of 2018-19, around 490,600 people in the U.S. had to be hospitalized for flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. As of September 8, over 380,000 people had been hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States, according to the COVID Tracking Project. 

“If we see a large rise in serious flu and COVID cases at the same time, this fall and winter, our health system may become overwhelmed, and this in turn may lead to greater morbidity and mortality,” Dr. Blank says. Getting vaccinated is also useful for diagnostic purposes. If you’ve had the flu vaccine and then later wake up with a fever and a cough, your doctor can send you off for a COVID-19 test quick smart.

The most common flu vaccine is quadrivalent, Bustle reports—meaning that it targets four separate strains of flu. Each quadrivalent vaccine protects against two A-types of flu and two B-types. A-types are found in both humans and animals, while B-types affect only humans.

Dr. Blank says three of those vaccines have been updated for the 2020 flu season, based on what strains have developed over the past 12 months. (If you’re allergic to egg, you’ll get a slightly different type of flu shot, but your doctor will talk you through what that means for your immunity.) 

Five centers for flu surveillance around the world—in London, Beijing, Atlanta, Melbourne, and Tokyo—coordinate twice a year to pool their research on emerging flu strains in order to develop the vaccine for the following season. They coordinate flu shots for both hemispheres, based on the strains that are popping up.

How effective the 2020 flu shot is likely won’t be known until later in the season, once it’s had time to do its thing. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study in 2019 found that the vaccine that year was 39% effective for all age groups, and 42% effective for people over 50. The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that vaccines for the most common A-type and B-type flus are between 30 and 60% effective every year on average.

Getting the flu shot isn’t a 100% guarantee that you won’t get the flu. It only targets the most common varieties, and if a less-common strain starts circulating, you’re not protected against it. But even if you do get the flu after getting the vaccine, research shows that it reduces the likelihood of severe symptoms by 40 to 60%, making it a good investment for your health.

Research contact: @bustle

Kould it be true? ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ is ending after 20 seasons

September 11, 2020

After a 20-season, 14-year run marked by marriages, divorces, births, deaths, affairs, plastic surgeries, gender-change surgery, world travel; and selfies of every variety, as well as tears and laughs, Keeping Up With the Kardashians announced on September 7 that the TV show’s last season on the E! Network is scheduled to start in early 2021.

 “It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’ ” the network said in a statement in conjunction with Kris Jenner, the Kardashian siblings (Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, and Rob), the Jenner sisters (Kylie and Kendall); and, naturally, Scott Disick. “We are beyond grateful to all of you who’ve watched us for all of these years — through the good times, the bad times, the happiness, the tears, and the many relationships and children. We’ll forever cherish the wonderful memories and countless people we’ve met along the way.”

The family thanked E!, the production team at Bunim/Murray; and Ryan Seacrest, who has been an executive producer on the show since the beginning.

E! released an official statement to Variety, regarding the ending of the monumental show that helped define the network as a destination beyond entertainment news.“E! has been the home and extended family to the Kardashian-Jenners for what will be 14 years, featuring the lives of this empowering family,” the network’s statement reads. “Along with all of you, we have enjoyed following the intimate moments the family so bravely shared by letting us into their daily lives. While it has been an absolute privilege and we will miss them wholeheartedly, we respect the family’s decision to live their lives without our cameras.”

“KUWTK” has been a massive hit globally for the network, which airs repeats of the franchise constantly — and pays a pretty penny for those rights. In 2017, E! inked a mega-deal with the family for a three-year extension, taking the show through 2020, valued at nine figures. At the time, insiders told Variety that the renewal deal was worth “below $100 million,” although other reports stated that the deal was worth up to $150 million.

The show turned the Kardashian-Jenner family into international superstars—with a multimedia empire complete with clothing lines, cosmetics companies, apps and never-ending tabloid interest in their every move. When the show debuted, Kris Jenner, now known as one of the savviest businesswomen in the industry, was known to the public as the ex-wife of O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian. Her former spouse, Olympian [Bruce] Caitlyn Jenner also ended up starring in her own E! spinoff, “I Am Cait, which documented her transition into a transgender woman.

According to Variety, when the show hit the air, the family was best known for Kim Kardashian-West’s sex tape, which brought worldwide attention to the socialite—whom previously had been Paris Hilton’s sidekick. Today, Kardashian-West is one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, and has taken her power to the White House with her passion for criminal justice reform. Meanwhile, Kendall and Kylie Jenner were just kids when the show first started airing, and now are two of the most powerful—and lucrative—influencers in the world.

At the time of the series’ 10-year anniversary in 2017, Kris Jenner spoke to Variety about the show’s milestones and futures. In that interview, she spoke about when the time might come to end the show, saying, “I used to just joke and say it’ll be when Kylie gets married in 20 years, and here we are 10 years later. Who thought a decade later we would still be going as strong as we are?”

The famous family members posted about the show ending on their social media accounts, which reach hundreds of millions of fans.

Kardashian-West posted to her 188 million followers: “Without ‘Keeping Up with The Kardashians,’ I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who has watched and supported me and my family these past 14 incredible years,” she wrote. “This show made us who we are and I will be forever in debt to everyone who played a role in shaping our careers and changing our lives forever.”

Research contact: @Variety