Blog Posts by Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff

  • Titanic Survivor's Revealing Letter Sparks Interest on Reddit

    Page 1 of Icard's moving letter, written in French. Photo: ImgurWe’ve had compelling Titanic survivor accounts from the likes of Molly Brown and Elizabeth Shutes and, of course, Kate Winslet’s fictional (though adored) onscreen character. Now comes one from French passenger Rose Amélie Icard, whose letter containing eyewitness details of the disaster has emerged on Reddit, causing a stir among history lovers.

    More on Shine: Lee Harvey Oswald's Wife Auctions Off His Wedding Band

    “I’ve always been fascinated by the Titanic, ever since my dad took me to an exhibit on it when I was 13 years old. It really struck a chord with me,” Mike Delgado, the owner of Icard’s letter, which is penned in French, tells Yahoo Shine. He posted images of the pages on Reddit on March 20 with the request, “I would love to have it translated so I could have them framed.” The post generated more than 44,000 views, hundreds of comments, and a page-by-page translation written out by multiple users.

    Delgado, a 29-year-old U.S. Marine based in Florida who also owns Icard’s

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  • The Weird and Wonderful Tricks to Selling Girl Scout Cookies

    Selling Girl Scout cookies is not child's play. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Girl Scouts of the USAGirl Scouts may look innocent, but underneath, many of them are fierce, silver-tongued devils, preying on Thin Mint addicts near and far to sell several thousand $4 boxes of cookies a year. And who isn’t grateful for that? This week, the world met Katie Francis — the Oklahoma City sixth-grader who shattered previous Girl Scout cookie records by selling a remarkable 18,107 boxes during 2014’s seven-week sales period. And so, in her honor, here are some nuggets of sales advice from the best scouts in the biz:

    Treat Everyone as a Target
    "There are three ingredients to the cookie sale. It takes lots of time, commitment, and asking everybody I see,” Francis told Oklahoma City's KOCO. She’s also always prepared—the family's SUV is stuffed with boxes of cookies so Katie can make a sale anywhere.

    Don’t Be Afraid to Guilt Trip
    “A man from the USO bought four cases. But another lady I had to push and push and push. Sometimes they try to sneak past you and you look them in the eye and make them

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  • Girl Who Shaved Head to Support Pal With Cancer Is Allowed Back In School

    A 9-year-old Colorado girl who shaved her head to show support for her best friend battling cancer, was barred from attending school because her baldness violates its dress code. But on Tuesday night, following an outcry about the situation on social media, the Caprock Academy charter school in Grand Junction plans to hold a special meeting to determine if an exception will be made for the empathetic third-grader, Kamryn Renfro. (Update: At that meeting, board members—who had already allowed Renfro to return to school for one day on Tuesday—voted 3 to 1 to approve a waiver allowing Renfro to return permanently, according to KJCT.)

    More on Yahoo Shine: Would You Shave Your Head For a Friend With Breast Cancer?

    “Caprock Academy does have a detailed dress code policy, which was created to promote safety, uniformity, and a non-distracting environment for the school’s students. Under this policy, shaved heads are not permitted,” the school noted in a community statement, released to parents

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  • Will Publicly Shaming Drivers Who Text Save Lives?

    One of the texting drivers as caught by Singer. Photo: Brian SingerTwits who are guilty of TWIT (texting while in traffic) can really make your blood boil. But what can you actually do about these drivers who are putting your life in danger? Join San Francisco artist Brian Singer’s quest to shame the menaces, for one. He’s heading up an ongoing project that takes photos of the offenders in action (snapped only by passengers or pedestrians, of course), and posts them on Facebook and this blog. As of this month, he has been blowing them up and paying to have them slapped on billboards.

    More on Yahoo: Texting, Dialing While Driving Raises Crash Risk

    “It’s nothing against the people themselves. I think we’re all sort of guilty of texting and driving at some point,” Singer tells Yahoo Shine. His aim is to grow the project to the point where it could both raise awareness and “change behavior.”

    More on Yahoo Shine: Bus Driver Fired for Helping Hungry Student Fights Back With Lawsuit

    A TWIT billboard in San Francisco. Photo: Brian SingerSinger’s other social commentary projects over the years have focused on

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  • Radio Station Burns $5,000 Cash in Publicity Stunt

    A popular radio station in Canada is under fire — pun intended — for reducing $5,000 in cash to a pile of ashes on Friday as part of a publicity stunt. The contest, “Bank It or Burn It,” run by 90.3 AMP Radio in Calgary, asked listeners to weigh in through social media on whether the stacks of bills should go to a lucky listener or be set on fire. Morning cohosts Katie Summers and Ryan Lindsay say they were left with no choice but to follow through when 54 percent responded with the hashtag “#BURN” via text.

    More on Yahoo Shine: Oregon Radio Station Behind Mystery Cash Prizes in Grocery Stores

    “This city made a conscious decision, and we had to stick with what they said because that's what we said we were going to do,” Lindsay tells CTV News. On the air Monday morning, he scoffed at critics who say the money should have been donated to a charity, saying they wouldn’t have donated the cash anyway had they won it. “So many spend so much time b----ing and complaining, instead of voting,”

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  • The Truth About What Happens to the Old Clothes You Donate

    Your old shirts could wind up at a market like this one, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images) Cleaning out your closets and getting organized for spring is a great feeling — and so is seeing the piles of old clothes you've ignored for years bagged and ready for donation. Between the space you’ve just created in your own life, and the perfectly good clothing you’re about to bestow on others through a charity like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, it’s pretty much a win-win situation. Right? Not necessarily. That’s because the castoffs you think are doing so much good are more likely being sold at a profit in Africa — part of an elaborate overseas resale system that’s effectively snuffing out other countries’ own vital textile industries.

    More on Shine: Foster Mom Gets More Donations Than She Can Handle Thanks to Facebook Posting

    “Most Americans are thoroughly convinced there is another person in their direct vicinity who truly needs and wants our unwanted clothes. This couldn’t be further from the truth,” writes Elizabeth Cline in “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap

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  • The Strangest Playground on Earth

    The Land. Photo: Courtesy Erin Davis
    There’s a playground in the U.K. that’s such a far cry from the primary-colored plastics and rubbery safety floors we’re used to that many parents (and kids, for that matter) might easily mistake it for a town dump. But it’s precisely that parental-nightmare quality of danger — with its ragtag collection of broken chairs, piled tires, dirty mattresses, loose hammers and nails, and tin-drum fire pits — that makes this place, called The Land, so thrilling to the children who flock here.

    It opened two years ago, in North Wales, a throwback to the 1940s, when the idea of “adventure playgrounds” first took hold. But lately the novelty, staffed by “playworkers” who try hard to not intervene, has become a subject of renewed interest, part of a growing trend to take today’s overprotective, obsessive “helicopter parents” to task for sucking all the fun out of childhood. 

    Another shot of The Land from Davis's documentary. Photo: Courtesy of Erin Davis“Today, these playgrounds are so out of sync with affluent and middle-class parenting norms that when I showed fellow parents

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  • How Companies are Listening (and Changing) Because of Your Tweets

    Jennifer, left, and daughter Kinsey. Photo: Courtesy Jennifer OuelletteWhen Jennifer Ouellette read about a high-end line of thin-framed sunglasses playfully named “Anorexxxy” earlier this month, she was not only outraged, but — as the mom of a recovering anorexic daughter — personally offended. So the Californian did something about it, rallying her social-media troops to swarm designer Thierry Lasry with tweets and Facebook messages until, lo and behold, Lasry announced a product name change, effective immediately.

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    “We never wanted to upset anyone,” read a statement from the designer, released on Monday. “However, it seems like we recently have with this name so we’ve decided to rename this style. The frame will, from now on, be stamped on the inside left temple ‘AXXXEXXXY.’”

    Though the company isn't attributing its name-change decision to Ouellette’s social-media campaign (“We have no idea who the people behind all those messages are,” a Lasry spokesperson tells Yahoo Shine), one thing

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  • 7-Eleven Clerk Who Lost Job Over Good Deed Gets a Better Offer

    Ava Lins on the first day of her new job. Photo: FacebookIn a striking example of poetic justice, a Massachusetts teenager who says she was fired from 7-Eleven for giving a cup of coffee to a homeless man has landed a new job within days—at a homeless-services organization.

    More on Yahoo Shine: How Going Undercover as Homeless Changed These Men

    “My lesson learned is that good deeds pay off,” Ava Lins, 19, tells Yahoo Shine. “Do what you believe is the right thing, and stand up for what you believe in. Only good things will come of it.”

    The story began last Thursday, when Lins, a clerk at 7-Eleven in Salem, says she began chatting with a customer about how he didn’t know where he was going to sleep on that freezing night. Lins, who immediately empathized given her own recent struggles with being homeless, gave him a small cup of coffee. “It directly influenced my decision,” she says. When storeowner Romany Youseff appeared and allegedly accosted the man, demanding to know if he had paid for it, Lins lied and told her boss that he had. She

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  • Teen Heroes Save 94-Year-Old Woman (and Her Dog) From Fire

    A trio of California high-school students scored big points for oft-maligned teens everywhere on Monday when they rushed into a burning house to rescue a 94-year-old woman and her elderly dog, heroically saving their lives.

    More on Yahoo Shine: Hero 13-Year-Old Saves Sisters From Burning Van

    “Basically, they just reacted,” says Mark Corti, principal of California High School in San Ramon, California, where the three boys are seniors in the sports-medicine program. He tells Yahoo Shine that when he initially spoke with them about the dramatic incident, the friends, still smelling of smoke, shrugged it off as no big deal. “But as we continued to talk about the details,” Corti adds, “I think they were able to understand a little bit better that they had risked their own lives.”

    It all began late morning on Monday, when Kirill Yantikov, Garen Kissoyan and Peter Kravariotis, all 17, were driving through a residential neighborhood near their school, reportedly skipping class to go to

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