Before you tuck in to your gravy-drenched, slow-roasted turkey this Thanksgiving, you might want to give thanks that you’re not circling above the earth at 17,500 miles per hour. Forget for a moment that you probably couldn’t even keep the food down in microgravity – would you be willing to trade those creamy mashed potatoes or Grandma’s green been casserole for something freeze-dried and wrapped in plastic?
For six astronauts currently working more than 200 miles above the surface of the earth, that choice is easy, as freeze-dried, irradiated and thermostablized food items are their only options. Luckily for them, food scientist Vickie Kloeris and her team at NASA have developed shelf-stable Thanksgiving meals to celebrate the holiday on the International Space Station. First though, they had to figure out a way to make the food taste good in space.
“One of our biggest challenges is that crew members in orbit do report that they feel like their taste buds are somewhat dulled,” Kloeris told CNN from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Bill Cosby sits in the shade of his own shadow, a large mural painted in his likeness on the wall outside Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington D.C.
Cosby's still got a sharp mind and a sharper sense of humor, but he's starting to show his age: It's hot outside, and despite the sticky August weather, Cosby is wearing white socks with his brown leather sandals.
The 76-year-old comedy legend has been visiting the D.C. eating establishment since 1958 and is perhaps its most famous patron - so when the restaurant decided to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it was fitting that Cosby hosted the festivities.
This week, the restaurant turns 55, so it's no surprise he's back.
A visitor to the United Service Organizations building on the Bagram Airfield base in Afghanistan could easily mistake the place for a civilian home.
Brown leather couches beckon tired soldiers to sit back, relax and kick up their dusty boots. A wrap-around kitchen bar tempts hungry servicemen and women with lollipops, candy bars, chips and trail mix. Sports memorabilia and framed artwork cover the walls, and kitchen cabinets, stuffed to the brim with DVDs, add to the relaxed vibe.
But despite all the comfy trappings, soldiers serving abroad can still fall victim to homesickness. That’s where meals come in.
Growing up, Fred Yoder always wanted to be a school teacher, but when his father fell ill during Yoder’s early twenties, Yoder set aside his dream of lesson plans and chalkboards to take up the family business - a 1,500-acre farm that grows corn, wheat and soybeans. A fourth-generation farmer, Yoder knew his way around a tractor but still asked his dad for advice when he first took over the daily crop duties.
“He told me, ‘The only thing I ask for from you, son, is that you leave the land in better shape than you found it,'” Yoder said.
Now, after nearly 40 years tilling the earth near Plain City, Ohio, 58-year-old Yoder has made good on his promise – so much so that he was honored this week by the White House as one of its Champions for Change, a weekly honor given out to 12 citizens for their contributions to the community.
According to the White House press release, this week’s honorees were brought to Washington D.C. because of their work in preparing their respective communities for the consequences of climate change.
"As we take action to reduce carbon pollution and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy, we must also take action to prepare for the impacts of climate change we are already seeing, including more frequent and severe extreme weather," said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Editor's note: April 2, 2014 is World Autism Awareness Day, and we're sharing this story to continue the conversation about autism in public spaces.
Things are not always as they appear to be. Our recent story "The waitress, the autistic girl and the broken hamburger" shared the experiences of Anna Kaye MacLean, a young woman who was deeply touched by the kindness of a Chili's server to her seven-year-old sister Arianna, who has autism.
While many people interpret Arianna's behavior - sometimes involving violent tantrums and grunting - as uncontrolled brattiness, her older sister will take the time to explain the condition if asked. Occasionally, fellow restaurant patrons will ask to be moved to other tables, give dirty looks, or criticize MacLean's handling of the situation. While the family has never been asked to leave a restaurant, they're keenly aware of other patrons' comfort and will leave of their own accord.
Scenes like this play out in public every day, as evidenced by the over 650 comments that poured in when we posted the story. In observance of National Autism Awareness Month and April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, we're sharing insight from some of our commenters who have experience weathering the minefield that is a restaurant meal.
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