Today's collection of good news nuggets from around the world to help ensure it's a sunny Saturday.
The Wander Women
Kristy Burns, Annette Demel and Lynn Edmiston, aka: the Wander Women. These three sold their homes and left the rat race for the adventure of a lifetime. That adventure was to complete hiking’s triple crown: Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. That's a total of about 8,000 miles and they're two down and one to go! “We wanted to write a new chapter of our life. To have as many experiences as we could before we die,” says Kristy. “Our sense of home, our sense of stability is not tied to a place. We have that in ourselves,” added Annette. “It’s never too late to start. Get out and do what you can do. I didn’t do any of this until I was in my fifties,” shared Lynn.
Japan’s annual cherry blossom (sakura) forecast has been released, putting the Japanese into a state of high excitement. Tracking the ‘cherry blossom front’ is a national obsession, and forecasts of the dates when cherry blossoms will start to flower (kaika) and reach full bloom (mankai) are religiously checked and re-checked as the season gets closer. When the blooms arrive, millions flock to parks and city streets to enjoy harami – picnicking under the blossoming trees. Sakura season will begin in the warmer, southern part of the country from 24 March.
India Tree Planting
During the last few years there have been some monumental tree planting efforts undertaken in India - sometimes in mere hours. In 2016, Indians planted 50 million trees in a single day in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which broke a world record set by Pakistan by around 49 million.
A year later, volunteers in Madhya Pradesh planted 66 million trees, another world record. On top of that, the country’s forests have grown by 870 square square miles of forest cover over the last three years.
Bald eagles have been removed from Vermont’s list of threatened and endangered species after 35 years of restoration work in the state. In 1987, the state labeled them as endangered. Vermont conducted a reintroduction program from 2004 to 2006, releasing 29 eagles and it remained the only state in the continental U.S. without successfully breeding eagles until September 2008, when an adult pair finally raised an eaglet. During Vermont's last survey in 2021, biologists observed at least 44 bald eagles, 25 adults and 19 immatures. Enough for the 'national bird' to come off the danger list.
Every flea-market aficionado dreams of the day they find a true treasure. Not so long ago, that day came for a collector at a flea market in Bucharest, Romania, who found an intact German Enigma machine, the super-secret coding gadget used by Third Reich during World War II. After paying roughly $114 for the machine, Reuters reports that the cryptography machine sold at auction for roughly $51,620 to an anonymous online bidder. The seller was no ordinary thrift-store shopper. “It belonged to a mathematician who has spent most of his life decrypting codes,” said Vlad Georgescu of Artmark, the auction house that sold the machine. While the flea-market vendor thought the machine was a unique typewriter, the mathematician knew exactly what he was buying, and felt “compelled to purchase it.”
Belgium 4 Day Week
Workers in Belgium will soon be able to choose a four-day week without a loss of salary. The reform package will also give workers the right to turn off work devices and ignore work-related messages after hours without fear of reprisal. Belgium's prime minister, Alexander De Croo, said the goal of the labor market reforms is to create a more dynamic and productive economy. "We have experienced two difficult years. With this agreement, we set a beacon for an economy that is more innovative, sustainable and digital. The aim is to be able to make people and businesses stronger," he said. Four-day working weeks were trialed in Iceland between 2015 and 2019, and it has since become the choice of 85 percent of the country's working population.
Quote of the Day
“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat. So people who don’t know what they’re doing, or who on earth they are, can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self.”
Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail
On this Day
19 February 1878: American inventor Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.
Dive in Deeper
25 hours in the making, using 15,000 colourful dominoes, for a mesmerising 2 minute chain reaction.