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7WAYS

TO OUTWIT
APPETITE
PROVEN TACTICS TO
POWER UP YOUR DIET

Q
4-LEGGED HEROES
ANIMAL LIFESAVERS

REAL-LIFE CRIME

A FAMILY OF
BANK ROBBERS
THE GOOD PIT BULL

n HOURS OF PLUS
GREAT READING
TANGLE IN THE JUNGLE
n PAGES OF
GREAT JOKES BRYCE COURTENAY
ON WHAT WORDS CAN DO
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great reading
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Contents FEBRUARY 2015

Food and Diet


32 7 WAYS TO OUTWIT YOUR APPETITE
Would Batman eat hot chips for dinner? You’ll be
surprised how easy it is to curb cravings when
you think like a superhero.
B R I A N WA N S I N K F R O M S L I M BY D E S I G N

Extraordinary True Tales


40 AMAZING ANIMALS
Whether you’re fending off blubbery bullies
or enraged bovines, help is at hand.
J E N N I F E R S . H O L L A N D F R O M U N L I K E LY H E R O E S

Hero Pets
48 THE GOOD PIT BULL
As her owner faces a deadly situation, Lilly
the pit bull rewrites the story for her breed.
A N I TA B A R T H O L E M E W
P. | 48
Living Language
54 WORDS
Much-loved Australian novelist Bryce Courtenay
on his love of language. F R O M S I LV E R M O O N :
R E F L E C T I O N S O N L I F E , D E AT H A N D W R I T I N G

wo
nursrds that
What It’s Like…
60 LOVE REIMAGINED
e the
Jane Whitehead found love again – with the most
unlikely suitor.
ego and
heal
the
AS TO L D TO E M I LY C U N N I N G H A M F R O M T H E G UA R D I A N
t
ar

First Person
he

64 THE TERRORIST’S SON


His father chose a path of bigotry and hate. This

54
son followed his mother and chose peace.
Z A K E B R A H I M F R O M T H E T E R R O R I ST ’ S SO N P. |

February•2015 | 1
Contents
FEBRUARY 2015

Cheat Sheet
74 INSTANT ANSWERS: EBOLA
The latest outbreak of this deadly virus has
spurred anxiety and confusion. Here’s what
you need to know. H A Z E L F LY N N

RD Interview
76 SIR WORLD WIDE WEB
When he created the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee
had no inkling of its impact. M O H A N S I VA N A N D
Drama In Real Life
82 LOST ON THE VOLCANO
Far from the surfing beaches and hula girls,
an experienced hiker discovers Hawaii is full of
surprises. A L B E R T SA M A H A FROM THE VILLAGE VOICE
P. | 82 90
Who Made That?
NIGERIAN SCAM
The lure of a fortune has been around for a very
long time. DA N I E L E N G B E R FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

104
Against the Odds
P. | 92 THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T BREAK
Not even a rare genetic disorder can stop Jessica
Bernstein from following her dreams.
A N I TA B A R T H O L E M E W

Environment
98 TANGLE IN THE JUNGLE
Climbing plants are choking tropical forests –
and the outcome could be disastrous.
W I L L I A M L AU R A N C E FROM THE NEW SCIENTIST

True Crime
104 THE FAMILY THAT ROBBED BANKS
Getting involved in the family business has
its pros and cons. Some more than others.
S K I P H O L L A N D SWO R T H FROM TEXAS MONTHLY

2 | February•2015
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U NLO TO ● Sheepish Travel Encounters

T TO NOW ● The Forgotten Felon


N E Medical Pros on the Road
WA CRIB

● Can Meditation Slow Ageing?
BS
S|U108
P.
● Test of Love

REGULARS HUMOUR
4 Letters 38 Laughter, the Best Medicine
7 Editor’s Note 58 Life’s Like That
8 Staff Pick 72 All in a Day’s Work
10 My Story
12 Kindness of Strangers
14 Unbelievable
THE DIGEST
63 That’s Outrageous 16 Health
81 Quotable Quotes 22 Food
114 Smart Animals 24 Home
122 Puzzles, Trivia & Word Power 26 Work
28 Travel
CONTESTS 30 Etc
116 Movies & Books
4 Caption Competition
6 Jokes and Stories

February•2015 | 3
Letters
READERS’ COMMENTS AND OPINIONS

Lessons from the Playground


“Let Kids Take Risks” (December)
should be translated into every
language and a copy given to all
parents on the birth of a child. Only
then will we manage to get the
message across.
I was fortunate in growing up:
there was a surf beach at my front door, mountains at my back door
and a free-flowing creek to the side. From about age three, I spent
many hours playing in all areas. I recall being very scared while climbing
over large rocks in the creek but pushed on and learnt a safer route the
next time. Kids need to make a lot of decisions for themselves in order
to make sensible decisions later in life. ROSS TAYLOR

I completely agree with the author Reader’s Digest since 1966 and
of “Let Kids Take Risks”. How blessed although I’ve moved house seven
my siblings and I were to be raised times I have taken all my Reader’s
in the ’40s and ’50s, before the Digests with me. I even remember
madness of “protection” became the some of these stories! MARIANNE FRASER
norm. JOAN SMITH

“The Little Boat That Sailed Through


I was very unsettled by Hanna Time” (RD Classic Reads) has real
Rosin’s assertions. This article left
me feeling like I was doing my WRITE TO US
children a disservice by taking care
If you are moved – or
of them. BETH HEADLEY
provoked – by any item in
the magazine, write to us.
Classics Collection Refer to page 6 for the
Thank you so much for this special
editorial contact details
collection (RD Classic Reads, in your region.
December). I have been receiving the

4 | February•2015
lessons. By being self-dependent, we
can enjoy life’s blessings without
being held back by the tears it also
thrusts in our eyes. I made both my
children read the story so that they
could absorb the resilience of the
little boat. B. JINDAL

A Pope For Our Time


I recently had the pleasure of
meeting Pope Francis (“The Pope Caption Contest
WE ASKED YOU TO THINK UP A FUNNY
Who Burns With Joy”, December). It CAPTION FOR THIS PHOTO.
is an experience I will never forget.
He greeted all the disabled (myself Christmas at the Cheapskates.
included) individually and asked us CAROLINE ANNE KELLY

to pray for him. He is the Pope the


The Halitosis Anonymous year-end
church has needed. LAURA GALBO
function. MICHAEL GOATHAM

Scary Summer Days ‘’Who has the sports page?’’


Halfway through “Terror at the SIVALINGUM THAVER
Beach” (November), I was almost
afraid to continue reading for fear of The Feast of the Last Letters.
the next scare! SARA BALIGH PIERRE DU PLESSIS

“I think something was lost in


translation: I said, ‘The service sucks’,
not, ‘Suck the serviettes’.”
ROBIN PALMER

Yeah, I tried Atkins, but the Napkins


Diet really works. SARA CALMAN

Mmmm... a bit bland if you ask me.


WIN! BRAYDEN EVA
P HOTOS: THINKSTOCK

CAPTION CONTEST Where is that dog when you need


him? How much more homework is
Come up with the funniest there?! SCOTT CRUMLIN
caption for the above photo and
you could win cash. To enter, see
details on page 6. Congratulations to Sara Calman.

February•2015 | 5
Vol. 188
CONTRIBUTE
No. 1115 FOR DIGITAL EXTRAS AND
February 2015 SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS, SEE PAGE 17.

Anecdotes and jokes


EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Sue Carney
Send in your real-life laugh for
Editor RD Asia Siti Rohani Design Director
John Yates Managing Editor Louise Waterson
Life’s Like That or All in a Day’s
Chief Subeditor & Production Editor Donyale Work. Got a joke? Send it in for
Harrison Deputy Chief Subeditor Melanie Egan Laughter is the Best Medicine!
Designer Luke Temby Photo Editor Judith Love Smart Animals
Digital Editor & Humour Editor Greg Barton Share antics of unique pets or
Subeditor Hannah Hempenstall Editorial
wildlife in up to 300 words.
Coordinator Sally McMullen Contributing
Editors Hazel Flynn; Helen Signy Kindness of Strangers
Share your moments of
PRODUCTION & MARKETING
Production Manager Balaji Parthsarathy
generosity in 100–500 words.
Marketing Director Jason Workman My Story
Marketing Manager Gala Mechkauskayte Do you have an inspiring or
life-changing tale to tell?
ADVERTISING Group Advertising Director, Submissions must be true,
Asia Pacific Sheron White Advertising Sales unpublished, original and
Manager Darlene Delaney 800–1000 words – see website
REGIONAL ADVERTISING CONTACTS
for more information.
Asia Kahchi Liew, liew.kahchi@rd.com
Australia Darlene Delaney, Letters to the editor, caption
darlene.delaney@rd.com competition and other
New Zealand Debbie Bishop, reader submissions
debbie@hawkhurst.co.nz Online
South Africa Michéle de Chastelain, Follow the “Contribute” link at the
michele@iafrica.com Reader’s Digest website in your region.

PUBLISHED BY READER’S DIGEST Email


(AUSTRALIA) PTY LTD AU: editor@readersdigest.com.au
Managing Director/Publisher NZ: editor@readersdigest.co.nz
Walter Beyleveldt South Africa: editor@readersdigest.co.za
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6 | February•2015
Editor’s Note
Making a Choice
I FIRST HEARD OF ZAK EBRAHIM last March when he stood on stage
at a TED conference in Vancouver. Also talking at the sessions were such
luminaries as Bill and Melinda Gates and Sting. Yet the audience of 1900
or so watching live, and the more than two million people who have since
downloaded Zak’s talk via ted.com or the TED app, were awed by a gently
courageous individual who could so easily have chosen not to step up
into the spotlight. This issue we are pleased to bring you an extract from
Zak Ebrahim’s book, The Terrorist’s Son (page 64).
When Zak was seven his father shot and killed a rabbi in New York
City. Then from his prison cell, the extremist helped organise the 1993
bombing of the World Trade Center that killed six people. Eventually
Zak’s mother demanded a divorce, she changed the family’s last name,
moved, and mother and children carved out a new life.
But Zak can’t ignore the truth that he
has his father’s blood in his veins. Zak
spent years coming to terms with what
that means. He admits wrestling with
anger, fear and self loathing. Now
through his unique perspective, he has
decided that although he can’t choose
what he is – a terrorist’s son – he can
PHOTOGRAPHED BY TIM BAUER

choose who he wants to be. And that is


someone who speaks out against bigotry,
zealotry and violence. Zak Ebrahim is a
force for peace. Don’t miss his story.

February•2015 | 7
STAFF PICK

The Best Story Is...


One of the great things about putting together the
magazine is that the staff get to read all the stories first.
Needless to say, animals featured high in our favourites

I had so much fun working


on the “Amazing Animals”
piece (page 40). All
animals are amazing in
their own ways, but some
of these stories are truly
extraordinary. My
personal preference would
have to be the inspiring
tale of Alyna, the real-life
Energiser bunny!
SALLY MCMULLEN, editorial coordinator Gimpy the seal won our admiration, too

“Love Reimagined” (page My favourite story in February is “The


Good Pit Bull” (page 48). I love that
60) is my fave for this animals can sense when a human is in
month - a beautiful love danger and that they go out of their
story told by a lovely, way to help them. Lilly is the epitome
of a selfless, loyal dog who puts her life
patient, compassionate on the line to save her owner. Makes
human being. my heart melt.
JUDITH LOVE, photo editor HANNAH HEMPENSTALL, subeditor

8 | February•2015
I really enjoyed “Sheepish Travel
Encounters” (Subscriber Bonus, print
edition). I love all kinds of animals but
sheep have to be one of my favourites.
Maybe that’s because my Mum has a
small flock of her own on her farm.
They are surprisingly intelligent,
friendly animals! LUKE TEMBY, designer

It isn’t easy to write about As a keen walker, I found “Lost on the


Volcano” (page 82) to be terrifying and
losing a loved one, but this inspiring in equal parts. It was
month’s My Story (page 10) frightening to see just how easy it is for
even well-known territory to become
tackles this subject unrecognisable as bad weather rolls in.
beautifully. With delicate My only comfort was the professionalism
insight, the author portrays and dedication of the rescue teams who
tried to find the lost walker.
his own loss by drawing on DONYALE HARRISON, chief subeditor
the story of a pair of birds
he’d come to observe and My favourite story this month
whose calls he’d enjoyed is “7 Ways to Outwit Your
hearing. It’s magical. Appetite” (page 32). I found
LOUISE WATERSON, managing editor
myself nodding a lot when
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the reading the article and I’m
world wide web (page 76), recognised the starting to put some tips into
potential of sharing the power of millions
of computers. Eschewing material gain, action, specifically the one
instead he made a commitment to that says you should rearrange
improve people’s lives and maintain
an open, free web accessible to all. As he
your fridge to make sure that
the first visible foods are best
PHOTO: THI NKSTOCK

says, “I think everybody who’s been


involved in it has a large responsibility to for you. So I’m banishing
make sure that the web really does serve
the needs of humanity.” snacks to hard-to-reach
MELANIE EGAN, deputy chief subeditor places! SITI ROHANI, Asia editor

February•2015 | 9
MY STORY

A husband learns some valuable lessons about life, love


and loss from a pair of songbirds

Birds of Paradise
BY E RIC P R OV I S

ERIC PROVIS , IN MANY WAYS, some bird species are like human beings.
90, lives in They mate for life and they miss their partner when tragedy
Inverell, NSW,
strikes. As a boy living on a farm near the township of Tumby
and has
a strong Bay, on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, I was
appreciation privileged to see a variety of birds in their natural habitat.
for wildlife. I soon became familiar with their various calls of danger,
songs of happiness and laments to their loves. I stayed on
the farm until I married my wife Colleen in 1949 and moved
to a smaller farm in the same district.
When my son Ross left school and showed an interest in
farming, I sold our farm and bought a larger property for the
two of us to work on. At the same time, I leased another
property close by which became home to Colleen and myself.
Close to the homestead was a patch of bushland that was
inhabited by many species of birds, including a beautiful pair
of western thrush. The male’s joyous song could be heard
throughout the day and I always thought it was a proclamation
of the happiness he felt with his partner by his side. One day,
I noticed the female fly out from the pine near the garage.
Curiosity got the better of me and, on inspection of the tree,
I found a nest with four tiny eggs in it. No wonder the male kept
singing his happy song as he was to become a father.
PHOTO: TO COM E

Several days after I found the nest we experienced an


extremely windy day. This was unusual for that time of year in
early October, when the weather is usually very pleasant.
A few days after this windstorm, I realised the male had

10 | February•2015
He must have missed
her because in the
following days, the
male thrush continued
to call pleadingly for
her. Eventually, there
was silence.

I NEVER HEARD the


thrush again. Did he
leave that area of the
bush to seek another
mate, or did grief
overcome him to the
stage that he could not
sing anymore? I will
never know, but I do
know that area of
Western thrush
bushland was never
generally remain the same without his
together for life joyful song.
Recently, I lost
Colleen, my dear wife
stopped singing his cheerful song and loving partner for over 60 years.
and was now producing a more And though more than 30 years have
distressed call for his mate. He kept passed since that little bird lost his
calling for her over the next few loved one, during my time of grief, my
days and I decided to check the nest. thoughts often turn to him. Like him,
To my distress, I found the female I also feel the loss of the one I cherish
thrush dead in the nest with her most. I would like to believe that
wings outstretched covering her Paradise has a place for birds and that
newborn chicks in an attempt to the pair of western thrush will one
shield them from the heat and wind. day be reunited, and once again we
Unfortunately, her effort was in vain. may hear his joyful song.
Saddened, I left it as I found it. I
Do you have a tale to tell?
couldn’t help but ponder that she We’ll pay cash for any original
could have abandoned the nest to and unpublished story we print.
seek protection in the bush, but See page 6 for details on how
realised a mother’s love is too great. to contribute.

February•2015 | 11
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

Two very different people who reached out to help


feed those less fortunate – in very different ways

Pay It Forward
BY SA L LY M C M U L L E N

AS RYAN LEE COX was waiting to pay helping school students pay off their
for his coffee order at an Indiana, US delinquent school lunch accounts.
fast food drive-through, he decided to Sometimes because of economic
try something he’d seen on a TV news hardship, the accounts fall into
show – he paid for the coffee order of negative balance and the kids suffer.
the driver in the car behind. The She got the idea after hearing that a
small gesture made the young Utah student was denied lunch.
Indianapolis entrepreneur feel great, So the following week Ryan visited
so he shared his experience on his nephew’s school cafeteria and
Facebook. An old friend suggested asked if he could pay off some
that rather than paying for people’s accounts, and handed over $100.
coffee, Ryan put that money towards Overwhelmed by his generosity, the
supervisor began paying off fines
before Ryan asked what the entire
An Indianapolis man’s “paying school’s balance for lunches was. It
it forward” organisation is
was $1261.98. “I’ll see you next
PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES; THIN KSTOCK

helping kids in need enjoy their


school lunches Friday,” he told the supervisor.
When he got home, Ryan shared
what he had done on social media,
and that he intended to help Lakeside
Elementary have no lunch accounts
in the negative. He set up a PayPal
account and encouraged people to
donate. Their target was reached in a
matter of days. With more than
enough money to pay off Lakeside,

12 | February•2015
Ryan contacted another school.
Within two weeks they had raised
$4142.82 and were able to help four
schools. Inspired by people’s
enthusiasm, Ryan organised a non-
profit called Feed The Kids, Inc., which
offers a website, www.kidslunches.org,
for people to start campaigns for
specific schools or to set up recurring
payments to sponsor a student. Today,
this “paying it forward” organisation is
onto its fifth school.

The Midnight Run


BY K R I STO P H E R E VA N S
CANBERRA WINTERS are notoriously
cold, and 2014 brought some of our partners were rough-looking and
coldest days, with minimums often shabbily dressed, with bushy facial hair
at -5°C or below. A habitual and faces etched with hardship. But
procrastinator, one weekday night they listened to the man with rapt
I found myself trudging off to the attention, not just obligatory gratitude
local supermarket before it closed for the food they had been given. With
at midnight. no charity van in sight, this old man
As I approached, I noticed a group was only representing himself and
of six or seven people sitting by the sharing his midnight zest with those far
supermarket entrance. Aware of less fortunate.
the dangers of late-night walking, After I finished shopping, the group
I made sure I paid attention. The scene was still there, food consumed, but all
ahead looked unusual. laughing. If a frail old man can give
And unusual it was. Expecting to see to others in the freezing cold at
a group of potential troublemakers, I midnight, what excuse do we have?
found a frail, well-dressed old man Kristopher Evans lives in the Australian
distributing items of food to a group of Capital Territory and has a passion for
homeless people. Rather than just European travel, writing, politics and
feeding them, he was also engaging philosophy.
them in a circle of warm discussion, Share your story about the kindness
gesticulating broadly and flashing a of strangers and win cash. Turn to
wise, friendly smile. page 6 for details on how to
Compared to him, his conversation contribute to the magazine.

February•2015 | 13
Unbelievable
TRUE TALES TOLD TALL

The Importance of
Overreacting
ILLUSTRATION: AN DREW JOYN ER

More is definitely more, according to Nury Vittachi


A COLLEAGUE ACCUSED me not convinced. I learned the
of having a tendency to overreact. importance of overreacting from a
I immediately threatened to burn former boss, who is now a very
down his house and curse his family successful man. He used to yell this at
for seven generations. least once a day: “Some moron has
I know many people think moved my [object] and when I find
overreacting is a bad thing, but I’m out who did it, God help me, I am

14 | February•2015
going to TEAR that person limb from sodium polyacrylate complained
limb with my bare… oh, there it is.” about his class? A: You guys always
After much research (read: scanning overreact.” OK, but I prefer jokes that
news stories sent in by readers), I work without the listener having to
found that we’re in good company take a quick science degree between
because the police have a tendency to set-up and punch line.
overreact, too. A reader sent me a In the interest of balance, I must
video of a dramatic police chase in also state that there are instances
Michigan, US, where a man on where overreacting is not advisable.
a moped was pursued by Over in Norway, residents
at least ten patrol cars. For of a building called the
those who don’t know, a police when they heard
moped is a motorbike Residents called loud screaming coming
powered by an electric the police when from an apartment. When
toothbrush. I had one they heard loud police officers responded
once, but gave it up when screaming … it to the call, they expected
I realised it was faster for to find a gruesome scene.
me to walk.
turned out to be What they found was
Within days, the US’s screams from a much worse. The
northern neighbours had man who had lost screaming came from a
got in on the action. a game of chess man who was unusually
Heavily armed tactical angry at his computer for
officers were sent to a constantly beating him at
block of flats in Ontario, after residents chess. I don’t blame him. I hate it
complained of loud noises that when inanimate objects are better
sounded like gunshots. It turned out to than me at things.
be a resident who was repeatedly However, I still intend to follow the
slamming his heavy door. Canadians example of my former boss, so this is
are so mild-mannered that the sudden aimed at my subeditors: you changed
noise caused residents to call the a word in my column. I will now have
police, not knowing whether it was a to hurt you and scatter the cubed
door slamming, a gun being fired, or pieces of your corpse over a wide
somebody hitting something with area of remote scrubland. Success,
something else, such as a portion of here I come!
poutine [hot chips with gravy and
[Careful, Nury, our hobbies include archery and
cheese curds].
random adjective deletion. Love, the subeditors]
One reader helpfully contributed a
joke on the topic. “Q: What did the Nury Vittachi is a Hong Kong-based
chemistry lecturer say when H2O and author. Read his blog at Mrjam.org

February•2015 | 15
THE DIGEST
HEALTH

HOT TOPIC

Q: ADHD - Should We Be
Medicating Our Kids?
With the continuing negative publicity about using drugs to treat kids with
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), making a decision about
medication can be difficult for families. Here are some facts:

WHAT IS IT? ADHD is a behavioural appetite and weight loss, insomnia,


disorder that removes the ability stomach problems and irritability,
to concentrate or control depression and anxiety. In
impulses. extreme cases, side effects
can include hallucinations
THE CASE AGAINST and psychosis.
Although stimulant There’s also concern
medications, such that children are kept
as Ritalin and on the drugs for too
amphetamines, long, and that some
have been used doctors rely too
to treat ADHD heavily on medication,
since the ’80s, we instead of suggesting
still do not know psychological
much about or behaviour-
PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

their long-term management


side effects. In counselling.
the short term, Much of the
they can cause anti-ADHD
decreased medication

16 | February 2015
SHARE THE STORY

Talk About It
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Every month we
hear from readers
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South Africa: READERSDIGESTSOUTHAFRICA @readersdigestZA

January•2015 | 17
HEALTH

hype is centred on their over-use, reviews. “The debate on whether


especially in pre-schoolers (three- medication is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is
to five-year-olds). In the US, there unhelpful,” says Associate Professor
are reports that drugs like Ritalin Michael McDowell, a Queensland
and Adderall are given to about three paediatrician. “The more important
million children a year. question is how best to use
medications, when they are necessary,
THE CASE FOR A few doctors in to assist children towards achieving
countries such as Australia, New personal best development and
Zealand and South Africa believe wellbeing.”
that ADHD is under-diagnosed and
under-treated. Medication – often CONCLUSION A management plan
in combination with counselling for children with ADHD should
and coaching – may be the only include coaching to help manage
way some children with ADHD can symptoms, a coordinated approach by
develop into productive, confident parents and schools to set structure,
and happy adults. The key is to get routines and clear boundaries – and,
the right dose and to have regular if necessary, trialling medications.

GOOD HABITS

SIMPLE WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR LUNG POWER


1. Breathe from your abdomen at eight years, the optimists had much
least five minutes a day. This is better lung function and a slower rate
diaphragmatic breathing, which of lung-function decline than their
involves training and strengthening pessimistic peers.
your diaphragm so that it requires 4. Read the small print on household
less effort to take in each breath. cleaners Some products, such as
2. Eat apples A study found that oven cleaner, can be toxic if inhaled.
people who crunched into more than If the instructions say open a window,
five a week had improved lung be sure to follow them.
function, less wheeziness and fewer 5. Have a glass of white Wine –
asthma-like symptoms. particularly white wine – seems to
3. Look on the bright side of life help your lungs, possibly because of
Harvard researchers followed 670 high antioxidant levels. But you can’t
men with an average age of 63. After substitute other tipples.

18 | February 2015
DIY CHECK

3 Ways to Keep Tabs


on Your Weight
WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO Measuring WAIST MEASUREMENTS. Your
your waist-to-hip ratio is an accurate essential organs – liver, spleen, heart,
way of monitoring changes to your kidneys and lungs – are located just
body shape. How do you do it? Grab above the waist region. Carrying any
a tape measure and wrap it around extra weight around your waist brings
your middle, where your belly button additional burden to these organs,
sits. Then do the same around your making it harder for them to work
hips’ widest point. Then divide the efficiently. How big is too big? For
waist measurement by the hips men, try to stay under 94cm and for
measurement. A ratio of above 0.8 women 80cm.
indicates you could be carrying an
unhealthy amount of abdominal fat.

BODY MASS INDEX (BMI) It’s


thrown around a lot these days
– but your BMI is a number
that indicates your weight
in relation to your height. A
healthy BMI is between 18.5
and 25. A BMI above this can
mean an increased risk of heart
disease and type 2 diabetes, both
common weight-related conditions.
PHOTO: THI NKSTOCK

What’s your BMI? Simply divide your


weight in kilograms by your height in
metres squared. Easier still, Google
“BMI Calculator” and enter your
measurements.

February 2015 | 19
HEALTH

NEWS FROM THE

World of Medicine
Back Pain Myth self-esteem preferred supports who
Patients commonly believe weather acknowledged their situation was
affects back pain, but a study difficult. “If your attempt to point out
conducted by researchers at the the silver lining is met with a sullen
University of Sydney and published reminder of the prevailing dark cloud,
in Arthritis Care & Research found you might do best to just acknowledge
otherwise. Over a one-year period, the cloud and sympathise,” said lead
993 patients who consulted a GP were author Professor Denise Marigold.
asked to report any instances when
they experienced sudden, acute back Music Can Make You Strong
pain. Researchers then matched A study conducted by Northwestern
patient reports to weather conditions and Columbia Universities in
for a week and a month before the the US investigated the effect of
onset of pain. They found no link to power-related music on our psyche.
changes in weather conditions, such Participants who listened to bass-
as temperature, humidity or rainfall. heavy music reported feeling more
powerful than those who listened
When Optimism to the same tunes with
Backfires a reduced bass. The
People with low self- “bass-heavy” listeners
esteem don’t want a pep also selected more
talk during hard times, power-related words in
according to researchers a word-completion task
at the University of “Empowering music
Waterloo, Canada. might be used strategically
Researchers discovered to get us in the right frame
PHOTO: ADAM VOORHES

that young adults with of mind,” says study leader


low self-esteem did not Derek Rucker. Previous
find encouragement research found that
to see the glass as half feelings of power lead to
full helpful. Rather, better performance in
participants with low interview situations.

20 | February 2015
TRENDING

Coconut Oil and


the Heart: Is It Hype
Or Healthy?
BY HE L E N S I G N Y

COCONUT OIL is the new “heart- oils. Like other saturated fats, coconut
healthy” fat, claiming to make you oil raises cholesterol (though not by
slimmer, stop sugar cravings and as much as butter). He says switching
even reduce fine lines. Too good to be to coconut oil is likely to lead to less
true? Possibly. With the popularity of favourable lipid profiles and potential
coconut oil surging, the New Zealand increased risk of coronary heart
Heart Foundation carefully analysed disease. Research often quoted to
the scientific literature. support the use of coconut oil was
largely based on animal studies or
THE HYPE Coconut oil is marketed interpreted from research on MCT
as a healthier fat because it contains oils. But the triglycerides in coconut
medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), oil could not be classed as MCTs,
which are not as bad for you as meaning the research quoted was not
transfats and are metabolised quickly relevant, he says.
to make energy, rather than being
stored in the body as fat. It’s claimed SO WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE?
that adding a few teaspoons to your While the occasional use of coconut
daily diet will help with weight loss oil is fine, if you’re using it a lot
as well as staving off diabetes and because you believe it to be healthy,
reducing sugar cravings. you should either cut back or blend
in some unsaturated cold-pressed
WHAT DOES THE SCIENTIFIC oil such as olive, avocado or canola.
LITERATURE SHOW? “Traditionally, coconut oil hasn’t been
PHOTO: THI NKSTOCK

An academic paper commissioned for recommended because it is extremely


the New Zealand Heart Foundation high in saturated fat. This advice
by Dr Laurence Eyres, says all the remains, despite the large number
research shows that coconut oil is not of marketing claims to the contrary,”
as good for you as unsaturated plant says Eyres.

February 2015 | 21
FOOD

Packed with antioxidants, fibre, vitamins – and no hype

Everyday Superfruits
Every so often little-known fruits Blueberries: One cup (150g) of
are plucked from obscurity to be blueberries supplies 24% of your
acclaimed as the latest nutritional daily vitamin C needs and about 14%
miracle. Think acai berry and goji of your fibre needs. It also contains
berry. Studies suggest that more vitamin K and the trace mineral,
readily available fruits have equal or manganese – all for only 250kJ.
superior powers. Here are some: Blueberries also contain a diverse
group of phytochemicals that help
Apples: French research reveals decrease inflammation that leads
that two substances found in to chronic diseases. Research has
apples – boron and a flavonoid linked them to heart, cognitive and
called phloridzin – may increase eye health benefits. Raspberries,
bone density and protect against blackberries and strawberries also
osteoporosis. Other studies suggest qualify for superfood status.
that eating apples may greatly reduce
the risk of developing cancers of the Citrus Fruits: All these fruits are
lung, colon, liver and breast. low in kilojoules and packed with
helpful nutrients. UK research in 2011
suggested that the flavanones in citrus
fruit may protect against stroke and
heart disease. Studies also show that a
high intake of citrus fruits can reduce
the risk of stomach cancer by 28%.

Kiwifruit: This is one of the most


nutritionally powerful fruits. A single
large kiwifruit contains a day’s worth
of vitamin C, and is one of the few
fruits to contain vitamin E. Kiwifruit
also offers fibre and potassium.

22 | January•2015
Food-Storage Tricks the
Package Won’t Tell You
BROWN SUGAR Store the sweet material. If you don’t have cheese
crystals with “friends” to prevent paper, parchment will also work.
hardening. Transfer to an airtight Avoid tinfoil and tight plastic wrap.
plastic container and include items Failing to expose cheese to enough
like marshmallows, a slice of bread, or oxygen will cause it to dry out
apple slices; the sugar will soak up the quickly.
moisture and stay soft. Or, invest in a
Brown Sugar Bear. Soak the reusable BUTTER You can freeze bars you
terracotta teddy in water for 20 don’t plan to use quickly. In the
minutes and store with your sugar to fridge, unopened butter should last
prevent hardening or to soften about four months. It can stay in
sugar that’s become a brick. the freezer for about a year. Leave
in the wrapping, then enclose in
FLOUR Keep whole-wheat double plastic freezer bags.
flour chilled. High oil levels
in the wheat germ can RED SPICES Stash red spices in
make this baking staple the fridge. Paprika, cayenne
go rancid if kept in the powder, and chilli powder will
pantry too long. If you stay fresher and keep their
use it frequently, store in colour – which can be dulled
an air-tight container in by light and heat – longer.
the fridge, where it can
last two to six months. OLIVE OIL Stick to small
Sniff to check freshness bottles unless you’re heavy-
– it should be almost handed. Once opened,
completely odourless. olive oil can go rancid in as
Toss it if it smells sharp or little as three months (even
bitter. Regular white flour though the bottle might say
PHOTOS: THIN KSTOC K

can last about a year in it will last longer). Fresh


the pantry in an airtight olive oil smells like green,
container. ripe olives and has a bright,
peppery taste with a kick; be
CHEESE Let it breathe. wary of a putty-like odour,
Wrap cheese in porous which indicates spoilage.

February•2015 | 23
HOME

Cut Kitchen
Cleaning
Time in Half
Save time with these tips on cleaning
common kitchen items:
DISHWASHER Load small things in
BLENDER Fill it one-third full with the dishwasher first. If the big things
warm water and a few drops of like pots don’t fit, it’s easier to hand-
dishwashing liquid. Run it for ten wash a few of them than loads of
seconds. Rinse and dry. small ones.

EGG, MILK AND CHEESE RESIDUE


Rinse dishes with cold water first;
then wash with hot water. Hot water
can “cook” foods onto surfaces,
making them harder to scrub.

BOX GRATER Clean soft cheese from


a grater by rubbing a raw potato or
cut lemon over the grater openings.

PLASTIC CONTAINERS Wash with a


solution of 4 tablespoons bicarbonate
PHOTOS: THIN KSTOC K

of soda to 250ml warm water to


remove oil stains. Rinse and dry.

GREASY DISHES Add a couple of


tablespoons of white vinegar to the
rinse water to make dishes sparkle.

24 | February•2015
Extend the life of your soft furnishings

How to Keep Upholstered


Furniture Looking Good
REMOVING STAINS FROM thoroughly before wiping the leather.
UPHOLSTERY Allow the furniture to dry, then buff.
n Remove residue and vacuum any
spills at once. Remove stains by MAINTAINING UPHOLSTERY
working from the outside towards the n Clean upholstered furniture
middle to avoid leaving an outline. regularly with the vacuum cleaner,
n Sprinkle fresh grease and oil stains but reduce the suction to avoid
with talcum powder or cornflour. damaging the under padding.
Leave it to set and absorb the grease, n Clean synthetic covers by dipping
and then brush it off. a cloth dampened with water in a
n Dab older grease stains with an little bicarbonate of soda and gently
ammonia solution or cologne, then rubbing the cushion with it. Go over
carefully rub with water. it again with a water and soap
n Treat milk spots immediately with solution. Test this on the reverse side
cold water or moisturising soap and (or a corner) first.
lukewarm water. To finish, pat dry. n Remove water-soluble stains from
n Clean washable leather with a soap leather upholstery with a damp cloth
solution (1 teaspoon liquid soap in and moisturising soap foam; wipe
1 litre of water). Wring out the cloth with warm water.

February•2015 | 25
WORK

Turn a negative review into positive results

How to Survive a Bad


Performance Review
Getting a negative review from your boss is never pleasant. Here’s how to
react to the bad news so you can move onwards and upwards.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH Maintain reveals more than their choice of
your composure, at least until the words. Take their mood as much as
review is over and you are outside the the content of the review into account.
office. You can let your boss know you
are surprised or disappointed, but SAY “THANK YOU”. YES, REALLY
don’t get emotional or defensive. It is always important to thank your
boss for their feedback. If you don’t
ASK FOR SPECIFIC WAYS YOU CAN agree with their assessment, you can
IMPROVE Don’t only ask “what can say, “Thanks so much for taking the
I do to improve my performance?” time to speak with me. I really
Instead, focus on specific examples to appreciate your feedback.”
get as many useful tips as possible.
ASK TO REVISIT THE SITUATION
LISTEN FOR FEELINGS, NOT JUST Before you leave, say something like
WORDS Often a person’s emotions “You’ve given me a lot to think
about, and I’d like to continue with
the conversation after I have some
time to reflect on this.”
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN KACHIK

MAKE NEW GOALS Determine both


a long-term objective and short-term
goals. If you have a clear idea of what
you want to accomplish in a month
and how you want to get there, you’ll
have a greater sense of focus when
trying to improve your performance.

26 | February•2015
Five steps to making meetings better

How to Run a Meeting


“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason the human race has not
achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be
meetings.” These are the words of humorist Dave Barry, with which many of us
would agree. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Some tips for having a good one:

1. Start and end strongly. Running


productive meetings boils down to
opening with an objective, sticking to
a purpose and closing with a plan for
what happens next.
2. Pick a leader. Assign someone to
lead. “The worst thing you can do is
go into a meeting with no-one in
charge,” says top executive Charles
Hyle. “It turns into a shouting match.”
3. Think small. Be realistic about
what you can accomplish. By the
same token, keep the number of
attendees manageable to stimulate
discussion.
4. Direct, don’t dominate. “People
hate it when they can’t get their work
done because they have to go to
somebody else’s meeting,” says a bad thing. “It means there isn’t
Columbia Business School professor enough dialogue or debate,” says
Michael Feiner. So encourage others Feiner. “That’s the lifeblood of any
to speak up and get involved. innovative organisation.” Jon Petz, the
P HOTO: THI NKSTOCK

5. Lay down the rules of author of Boring Meetings Suck,


engagement. Everyone should suggests assigning follow-up tasks
understand who will take notes and during the final five to ten minutes,
how decisions will be made. then reiterating them later in a group
Remember that consensus is typically email so there’s no confusion.

February•2015 | 27
TRAVEL

It’s time for an upgrade

How to Travel Five-Star on


a Three-Star Budget
You’ve been backpacking, stayed in hostels and bunked on the sofa of some
distant relatives. Now it’s time to travel in style. Sally McMullen suggests
different things you can do to ensure you have the holiday of your dreams

ASK ABOUT HOTEL UPGRADES If BECOME A HIGH-FLIER The best way


you want something, ask for it! When to get a flight upgrade is to earn status
you arrive at your hotel, ask the front credits, as opposed to frequent flyer
desk what the price would be for a points. For example, Qantas has five
better room. You can often get an levels of status (Bronze, Silver, Gold,
upgrade at a heavily reduced price if Platinum and Platinum One) and you
there are nicer rooms sitting empty. get credits every time you fly. The
When booking, ask for inclusions at higher the status, the more chance
the resort, such as credits at the hotel you’ll be upgraded. If you haven’t
spa or drinks at the bar. This works earned a high enough status, there’s
especially well during the off-season, no harm in asking for an upgrade
when even premium resorts are when checking in.
fighting for your stay.
TRAVEL IN THE OFF-SEASON Avoid
school holidays and public holidays.
You’ll have a better chance of scoring
reduced rates at luxury properties in
Thailand during winter or Bali during
the wet season, and try May or
PHOTO: GETTY IM AGES

September when travelling to Europe.

GET SOCIAL Follow your favourite


travel companies and airlines on
social media and wait as great deals
land on your Facebook feed.

28 | February•2015
Common Travel Booking
Mistakes
Mistakes can easily happen and often end up costing you the money you’ve
saved by booking online. According to a recent survey of almost 10,000
Australians, it was revealed that one in four have made massive blunders
when booking online. Most of the top five errors were innocent mistakes:

1. Not reading the fine print After


surfing the web for hours to find that
perfect holiday deal, reading the fine
print is probably the last thing you
want to do. However, it could be the
difference between a stress-free
holiday and a complete disaster.

2. Booking the wrong dates Make


sure to always have a calendar at
hand when booking your flights and
hotels. “If you’re travelling between 4. Entering the wrong name You may
different time zones, make sure to laugh, but this is a common mistake
double check your arrival date with many online travellers make. If you
the airline before booking your hotel know you experience butter fingers
stay,” says Adam Schwab, CEO of while typing, it’s best to re-read every
www.LuxuryEscapes.com. detail a few times before confirming
to avoid embarrassing phone calls to
3. Not checking validity periods, rectify the mistake.
surcharges and black-out periods
In order to evade unexpected costs, it 5. Working solo It’s easy to become
is important to pay special attention overwhelmed by all the dates and fine
to double-check these three things. print so before you confirm your trip
P HOTO: THI NKSTOCK

“Pay extra attention to validity have your partner or friend read


periods, extra person surcharges, kids’ through all the travel details before
policies, transfers costs as well as booking and paying, suggests Schwab.
cancellation and amendment policy,” Chances are, they’ll pick up anything
says Schwab. you may have missed.

February•2015 | 29
ETC

We wear some weird and wonderful labels, here’s why

How Your Favourite


Sneakers Got Their Names
BY SA L LY M C M U L L E N

When Converse had modest sales antelope that was the perfect
with the All Star sneaker in 1917, inspiration for their company. Turns
the company employed Chuck Taylor, out Foster had won a South African
a former basketball star to revamp dictionary, so they went with the
the design. After adding a patch to Afrikaans spelling of “reebok”.
support the ankle, the CONVERSE Global sales 2013: US$1.9 billion
CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR became
uber-popular. Taylor didn’t receive a ADIDAS is a combination of Adi and
bonus or commission – he just spent Dassler, the German businessman
40 years working with Converse. who started the company in 1949.
Global sales 2013: US$1.45 billion Global sales 2013: US$22.76 billion

REEBOK In 1958, J.W. Foster & Sons ASICS In 1977, Onitsuka Co. merged
decided to create an athletic shoe with two other sports shoe makers to
company. Searching through a form ASICS, an acronym for the Latin
dictionary that Joe Foster had won in phrase anima sana in corpore sano,
a running race as a boy, they came or “healthy soul in a healthy body”.
across the rhebok, a speedy African Global sales 2013: US$21 billion

Sneakers was the name given by advertising guru Henry Nelson McKinney to
rubber-soled shoes sold by Keds in 1917. The shoes made it possible for
people to sneak up on unsuspecting friends and family.

30 | February•2015
Explore, Interact, Inspire
Available now, everywhere
LY
IFICAL
SCIENT
EN
P R OV

7
WAYS TO
OUTWITYOUR
APPETITE
32 | February•2015
FOOD AND DIET

Renowned food psychologist Brian Wansink


has spent 25 years researching offbeat and
innovative ways to help us eat healthier. Here
are seven of his most revealing insights
F ROM THE B OOK SLIM B Y DE S I GN

MOST NUTRITION education isn’t very effective. People know that


an apple is better than a chocolate bar, but they often eat the chocolate
bar anyway. After conducting hundreds of studies on the psychology of
how and why we eat, I’ve seen that it’s good to understand nutrition, but
it’s much better to change your eating environment. Doing so can help you make
FOR HALLEY RESOURCES; P ROP STY LIST: ANGELA C AM P OS FOR STOCKLAND MARTE L

better choices without even thinking about it.


PHOTOS: THIN KSTOC K; (A PPLE) LEVI BROWN; (AP P LE) FOOD STYLI ST: MATT VOHR

1 What Would
Batman Eat?
Millions of parents take their
happy kids to fast-food restaurants
every day. Most of us don’t even try
or fries at a fast-food restaurant. The
first week, 20 of them ordered fries,
and two ordered apple slices. But the
next week, we asked, “What would
Batman eat: apple slices or fries?” After
to get our kids to order the apple they answered for Batman, we asked
slices instead of the French fries or them what they wanted. This time,
the milk instead of the juice. We’re the number of kids who ordered apple
there because we don’t have the time, slices jumped from two to ten – almost
energy or motivation to cook – or to half of them.
argue with our kids. We’ve done this in differ-
We all know children can be stub- ent ways, and here’s what’s
bornly habitual in what they want to crazy. It doesn’t matter who
eat. If kids had fries yesterday, they you say: Batman,
want them again today. We came up Joker, the kids’
with a simple way to interrupt this teacher, or their
default. Instead of asking kids what best friend.
they want, what if we ask them about Simply having
someone they admire? to answer for
To study this, we treated 22 primary anyone makes
school-aged children to apple slices them think twice

February•2015 | 33
SLEEPLESS IN SEVILLE

a piece of yellow duct tape across the


middle interior. And suppose a sign on
the trolley recommended that you put
all the fruits and vegetables in front of
the tape and all the other foods in back.
This dividing line doesn’t moralise or
lecture. It just encourages shoppers
to ask themselves whether the food in
their hands goes in the front or back –
they’re simply sorting their food.
We made a few dozen of these
divided trolleys to test and found that
shoppers who used the trolleys bought
23% more fruits and vegetables than
those who didn’t. They spent twice as
much on produce and also spent about
– and often upgrade their order. It also 25% more time at the store. Not only
doesn’t matter what they answer. They did this fruit-and-vegetable divider
could precociously say that Batman or make them think twice about what
their teacher would eat French fries, they bought, but it also made them
but they’ll still order apple slices half think that buying more fruits and veg-
the time. etables was normal.
OUTSIDE THE LAB: If you ask yourself OUTSIDE THE LAB: Put something
before deciding between the salad down the middle of your trolley – a
and the cheesy bacon fries, “What bag, a scarf, a coat. Claim the front
would my role model choose?” you’ll half for whatever you want to pur-
be a lot less tempted. Thinking about chase more of (eg, a shopper with high
what a well-liked person would do blood pressure might want more low-
makes us less indulgent. sodium food). If that target space isn’t

2
full, you’ll tend to buy more to balance
The Duct-Taped things out.

3
Shopping Trolley
What’s the right amount of Groceries and Gum
PHOTOS: THIN KSTOC K

fruits and vegetables to put into a Most of us know it’s bad to go


shopping trolley? We don’t really know. food shopping on an empty
When most of us grocery shop, fruits stomach. We think it’s because we buy
and vegetables take up 24% of our more food when we’re hungry, but
trolley. But suppose your grocery store in our studies, starving shoppers buy
divided each trolley in half by putting the exact same amount of food as full

34 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

shoppers. They don’t buy more, but in my lab did – at 11 Chinese buffet
they buy worse. When we’re hungry, restaurants.
we buy things that are convenient to Here’s the first thing we discovered:
eat right away and stop our cravings, 71% of slim diners scouted out the
such as biscuits, chips or sweet things. buffet before they picked up a plate –
Our imagination is the problem. they scanned the salad bar, the steam
Hunger leads us to dream about what trays holding 14 seemingly identi-
a food would feel like in our mouth cal chicken dishes, the sushi station,
if we were eating it. So we tested and the dessert bar. Only after they
whether chewing gum could interrupt had figured out the lay of the land
these cravings, making it too hard to did they grab their plates and start
imagine the sensory details of crunchy cherry-picking.
chips or creamy ice-cream. Heavier diners, on the other hand,
A colleague and I gave gum to food were twice as likely to charge ahead
shoppers at the start of their shopping to the nearest stack of plates and start
trips; at the end, they rated them- filling up. They also sat at tables that
selves as less hungry and tempted were on average 4.8m closer to the
by food. In another study, shoppers buffet and were three times more
bought 7% less junk food than those likely to sit facing the food, which
who weren’t chewing gum. could remind them to take second
OUTSIDE THE LAB: If you shop for and third helpings.
groceries when you’re hungry, make OUTSIDE THE LAB: Our researchers
sure the first thing you buy is gum. have a saying: “If you want
Our early findings show that sugarless to be s k i n ny, do w hat
gum or mint might work best. sk i n ny people do.” I n

4
our study, slim people
Chinese Buffet also were more likely
Confidential to use chopsticks and
Some people say there is only smaller plates, and
one way not to overeat at a buffet: don’t chew each bite
go. Yet here’s what’s strange – visit any more than
buffet restaurant, and you’ll see a lot of heavy people
slim people. What do they do at buf- did. Survey
fets that heavy people don’t? When we the spread
ask, they almost all say, “I don’t know.” before filling
Most people eat the way they eat with your plate. Sit
very little conscious thought. You can as far away from
find out their habits only by care- the food as
fully watching them. So researchers possible.

February•2015 | 35
7 W AY S T O O U T W I T Y O U R A P P E T I T E

5 The Case for


Half-Size Portions
Why are restaurant portions so
huge? Restaurants think that the more
food they give, the more likely we’ll eat
the restaurant, and more total main
courses (including half-size options)
were sold. They also sold 435 more
side orders of salad per month than
they had before.
there and not across the street. But this OUTSIDE THE LAB: Ask for a half
can backfire. When burritos become portion for “a reduced price, so I’ll have
as big as their head, reasonable people room for a starter or a drink.” It’s sur-
either split one or they don’t buy any prising how often this works – even at
side dishes or desserts. big chain restaurants. If this isn’t pos-
We did a test at a Minnesota high- sible, you can always have them pack
way truck stop. We suggested they up half the main course in a takeaway
offer half-size portions of popular container (before it arrives) and order
dishes. They did it, but instead of a side salad.

6
losing money, they made more. Here’s
how. Whereas a couple named Lester The Warm
and Grace would regularly visit the Can Solution
restaurant and split a $10 chicken A man was referred to our lab
breast main course because it was once for advice on how to break what
“big enough for two”, they now each his doctor called a “Pepsi addiction”
ordered their own half-size main – 12-plus cans a day. He was on the
course. And they still had room to express train to diabetes. He even had
order a starter or side salad. Within one of those mini refrigerators in his
three months, more people went to office – fully stocked. Telling him to
get rid of his refrigerator and go cold
turkey, or even just to drink half as
many, wouldn’t work. He would have
resisted, cheated or obsessed about
how many he had left in his stash.
PHOTOS: LEVI BROWN; THI NKSTOCK

Instead, we told him he could drink


all the Pepsi he wanted if he agreed
to one thing: he could keep only one
can in the refrigerator at a time. When
we made him decide how badly he
wanted to drink a warm Pepsi, he
trimmed his consumption down to
about four or five a day. Without much
thinking or self-denial, he sliced his
addiction by almost two-thirds.

36 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

OUTSIDE THE LAB: Make your trigger


foods as inconvenient and unattractive
as warm Pepsi. An ice cream container
mummified in aluminium foil looks a
lot less tantalising than when it radi-
ates chocolate fudge goodness. It’s a
third less likely to be eaten within the
first week of being wrapped up.

7 The Slim
Person’s Kitchen
If we knew what a skinny per-
son’s kitchen looked like, we could set
up our own kitchens in a similar way.
We chose the US demographically rep-
resentative city of Syracuse, New York,
for our study. (It’s commonly used as
a test city for billion-dollar compa-
nies with huge markets at stake.) Once
we got into people’s homes, we took than their neighbours who didn’t. “In
pictures of everything: their dishes, sight, in stomach.” We eat what we see,
sinks, refrigerator shelves, benchtops, not what we don’t.
snacks, pet-food dishes, tables, light- OUTSIDE THE LAB: Rearrange your
ing – even random items held up by cupboard, pantry and refrigerator so
magnets on their refrigerators. Nothing the first visible foods are best for you.
went unsnapped. Then we spent eight You’re three times more likely to eat
months coding these kitchens to see the first food you see in the cupboard
what thin people do differently. than the fifth one. In another study, we
We wondered if big kitchens turn asked people to move all their fruits
us into big people. But it turns out and vegetables from the crisper bin to
that kitchen size isn’t the problem. It’s the top shelf and put less-healthy foods
what you see in the kitchen. The aver- in the crisper. After one week, they
age woman who kept potato chips on reported eating nearly three times as
the benchtop weighed 3.6kg more than many fruits and vegetables as the week
her neighbour who didn’t. Those who before. (Produce might keep longer in
had even one box of breakfast cereal the crisper, but the goal is to eat it – not
that was visible weighed 9.5kg more to end up composting it.)
SLIM BY DESIGN © 2014 BY BRIAN WANSINK, IS PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM MORROW,
AN IMPRINT OF HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS, WWW. HARPERCOLLINS.COM.

February•2015 | 37
Laughter
THE BEST MEDICINE

MESSAGE RECEIVED
A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each
other the silent treatment. After a week of silence, the man realised he’d need his
wife to wake him at 5am for an early morning business flight.
Not wanting to be the first to break the silence, he wrote
on a piece of paper, “Please wake me at 5am.”
The next morning the man woke up, only to discover that it
was 9am and he’d missed his flight. Furious, he was about
to go and see why his wife hadn’t woken him when he
noticed a piece of paper by the bed.
It said: “It’s 5am. Wake up”. Source: cheergiver.com

PUSHOVER
A loud knocking on the door wakes “Yes, please,” comes
a man and his wife in the middle of the reply.
a stormy night. The man opens the “Where are you?” the husband
door to a stranger, who asks him for calls out.
a push. “No way!” says the husband, “Over here,” the drunk replies.
slamming the door shut in the “On the swing.”
stranger’s face. SUBMITTED BY TRACY DAVIDSON
“Who was that?” calls his wife.
“Just some drunk asking for a BREAKING NEWS
push,” he answers. “It’s 3am and Accordian to a recent survey,
pouring with rain out there!” replacing words with the names of
“You should be ashamed,” his wife musical instruments in a sentence
replies. “Don’t you remember that often goes undetected. Source: reddit.com
time we broke down and those two
guys helped us out? You should go THIRSTY WORK
and help him.” Sighing, the man does Max the baby camel walks into his
as he’s told, pulls on his coat and parents’ room at 3am and asks for
heads out into the pouring rain. a glass of water.
“Hello?” he calls out in the “Another one?” says his
dark. “Do you still need a dad. “That’s the second glass
push?” this month.” Seen on the internet

38 | February•2015
A hotel minibar allows you than he thought so
he runs off.
to see into the future and Up in a tree,
find out what a can of Pepsi a monkey had
will cost in 2020. seen the whole
COMEDIAN RICH HALL thing and decides
to tell the lion what
VOICE PROFILING happened. The monkey perches on
Men are attracted to women with the lion’s shoulder and leads him
a raspy voice. We think: Hey, maybe back to the dog.
she’s all done yelling. As he sees the two heading
COMEDIAN MOODY MCCARTHY towards him, the dog has another
idea. “You’re late, monkey!” he
CRIMINALLY INCLINED shouts. “I told you to bring me
A policeman pulled me over last another lion hours ago!”
night. He said, “You’ve got a SUBMITTED BY HANNAH WILKINS
headlight out, your rear tyre is
completely flat, you’ve got an open COLD CALLER
drink in your hand and you’re not A market researcher phoned and
wearing a seat belt!” said, “Can I ask you ten questions?”
I said, “I’ll see you I said, “Go on then.”
tomorrow then.” She said, “Question number
“What’s that one: have you ever experienced
supposed to mean,” a blackout?”
he demanded. I said, “No.”
I said, “Hang on She said, “And finally, question
a minute, pal. I’m on number ten.” COMEDIAN LEE MACK
the phone.” Seen on the internet
THINK BEFORE YOU ANSWER
KING OF THE JUNGLE I love to go to bookstores and say,
A lion stalking through the jungle “Hello, I’m looking for a book called
spots a lost dog and thinks he’ll be Rejection Without Killing. Do you
easy prey. When the dog sees the have it?” COMEDIAN STEWART FRANCIS
lion he starts to run, but suddenly
has an idea. He stops near some Sometimes I crouch on
bones and says loudly, “Mmm, that
was a tasty lion.”
the floor, tuck my head in
Stopping in his tracks, the lion and lean forward. That’s
realises this dog is a lot tougher just how I roll. Seen on the internet

February•2015 | 39
EXTRAORDINARY TRUE TALES

From a seal with attitude to a bunny who helps sick


children, it’s time to acknowledge our love for

Amazing
ANIMALS BY JE NNIFER S . H O LLAND

P HOTO: F ROM UNLIK ELY HE RO ES, WORKMAN PUBLI SHI NG, © HUGH RYONO
F R OM T H E BO O K UNLIKELY HEROES

The Elephant Seal Who Battled Bullies


Although they may appear cute, elephant seal cubs can be very aggressive.
Hugh Ryono experienced this first-hand while working as a volunteer at the
Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California.
A year earlier, Hugh had spent a lot of time helping a newcomer named
Gimpy. She was suffering from head trauma that paralysed her left side and
caused partial blindness. Although unlikely to ever recover completely, she
had managed to heal somewhat and had developed a liking for Hugh.
One day, Hugh entered the seal pen to clean up after six very
rambunctious one-year-old pups. Without warning, he slipped on a
sardine. As soon as he fell, three angry pups lunged for him, eager to try out
their new canine teeth. Out of the corner of his eye, Hugh glimpsed another
mass of blubber, a particularly big one, coming to his rescue. It was Gimpy.
After putting herself between Hugh and the feisty adolescents, Gimpy gave
them a silent, open-mouthed warning, with her head bobbing up and down
and teeth prominently displayed. This ended the pups’ charge. Threatened
by the bigger animal (Gimpy outweighed each of them by about 90kg), they
began to back off and Hugh was able to scramble to safety.

40 | February•2015
Gimpy in her
early days at
the centre.
A year later
she weighed
about 140kg
November•2014 | 41
A LMEAEZPI LNEGS S
S ANIN
I MSAELVSI L L E

PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION CREDIT

Koshka the cat


was a friend
indeed for Jesse
Knott
42 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

The Infantry Kitty


During wartime, the littlest forms of pleasure are true gifts.
For Jesse Knott, who joined the US army in 2006, his gift was a
scrappy kitten he befriended in Afghanistan. When he first arrived
at his outpost near Maywan in 2010, Jesse noticed a few feral
cats in the area and was immediately taken by a green-eyed tiger
kitten that would soon be known affectionately as Koshka (or cat
in Russian). Someone had been mistreating him and Jesse noticed
sore spots where the cat had been nicked by a razor. While keeping
an eye out for the culprit, he took the cat in to care for it himself.
The kitten proved to be a delightful distraction for the soldiers,
P HOTO: FROM UN LIK ELY HEROES, WORKMAN PUBLI SHI NG, © JESS E KN OTT

although he would have an even greater impact on Jesse. That


December, a suicide bomber killed two of Jesse’s friends. “I felt...
done. I couldn’t handle it and truly wanted to check out… I wanted
to die,” says Jesse. As Jesse’s emotions took hold of him, Koshka
sensed his friend’s distress and seemed to know what to do. “He
kept coming up and head-bonking me – he wouldn’t leave me
alone,” Jesse recalls. “And he was purring. I’d never heard him do
that before. He kept patting my face with his paw, swiping me with
his tail, and then he curled up in my lap, rumbling away.” This was
enough to pull Jesse back to his senses. He realised that he had
other responsibilities and needed to pull it together. “He saved my
life that night,” Jesse says. “And after that, it became my mission to
get him out of that country, no matter what.”
After endless calls, Jesse found an interpreter who was taking
a dog to Kabul and agreed to carry Koshka, too. It was a long
journey on buses and planes, but finally Koshka made it to Kabul,
and then to New York, and lastly to Jesse’s parents’ home in
Oregon. After everything Koshka had done for him, nothing made
Jesse happier than seeing the kitten bond with his family and get
the home he truly deserved.

February•2015 | 43
AMAZING ANIMALS

The Mare Who Stopped an Angry Cow


Although Fiona Boyd has a life-long fondness of horses, there is
one mare that will always have a special place in her heart. On a
summer afternoon in 2007, one of the cows on her dairy farm had
recently given birth and Fiona needed to move mother and baby to
a building where calves are kept during their first days. There were
six cows in the field, plus the calf. Ignoring the adults, Fiona went
straight to the young animal, prodding it to move toward the farm
buildings. And that’s when the trouble began.
“The calf started bellowing for its mother,” Fiona says, “which
encouraged all the animals to come over and investigate.”
Although cows are usually quite passive, they can become
aggressive, especially when defending their young. One minute
Fiona was walking beside the calf, the next she was being head-
butted in the side by a very unhappy mother. The animal hit her
hard, knocking her to the ground, kicking and butting her. Fiona
could see the electric fence, and she knew she had to get behind it
to be safe. But getting away wouldn’t be easy. The angry cow stood

PHOTO: FROM UNLIKELY H EROES , WORKM AN PUBLI SHI NG, © MURDO MACL E OD
directly over her, straddling her body, ready and able to crush her
with its full weight. “I curled into a small ball, waiting for it to be
over,” Fiona recalls.
And then Fiona’s saviour, her favourite chestnut Arab mare named
Kerry, burst onto the scene. When Fiona heard the animal neighing
and snorting nearby, she felt a shiver of hope. “The next thing I know,
there she is, and she’s lashing out at the cow with
her legs!”
Fiona was amazed. The 15-year-old mare kept
at it until the cow ran away, “then she stayed
with me as I crawled a few metres to get behind
that fence.” Once Fiona was safe, the horse went
back to munching on grass as if she hadn’t just
PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION CREDIT

saved a human life.


Fiona doesn’t blame the cow for her actions, but
FEATURE EXTRACTED
after the attack, whenever she or her sons went FROM UNLIKELY
HEROES © 2014
into that field, Kerry would canter over and walk BY JENNIFER S.
HOLLAND. PUBLISHED
beside them like a bodyguard. Fiona had always BY WORKMAN
PUBLISHING, NEW
believed that if you love and treat your animals YORK AND HARDIE
well, they will love and protect you in return. “I’d GRANT BOOKS,
AUSTRALIA
say Kerry proved me right.”

44 | February•2015
Kerry, Fiona’s READER’S DIGEST
Arab mare,
viewed herself
as her owner’s
bodyguard

February•2015 | 45
AMAZING ANIMALS

The Real Energiser Bunny


When Riki Yahalom Arbel began her career as an animal-assisted
therapist in Jerusalem, she wanted to help broken kids to feel
whole. And along the way, she found an unlikely partner. Alyna
was the tiniest rabbit in a litter of nine at a petting zoo. Riki noticed
that Alyna was dragging her back legs and soon realised that they
were paralysed. This didn’t stop the bunny though. “She was so
motivated, right from the start,” Riki says. “She would run around
the cage despite her legs. She was quick and so tough!”
But all the dragging created wounds on Alyna’s rear legs and Riki
was worried about infection. With help from the lab head at ALYN
children’s hospital, a paediatric and adolescent rehab facility in
Israel where she worked, Riki designed a special wheeled mobility
frame to help Alyna move. Although she struggled at first and
wasn’t thrilled at being strapped into the scooter, Alyna was soon
rolling around at top speed. “She seemed really happy,” says Riki.
That’s when Riki had a fantastic idea. Alyna, in her scooter, could

P HOTO: FROM UN LIK ELY HEROES, WORKM AN P UBLISHIN G, © ALY N H OSPITAL


provide a special service to the hospital in return for the help she’d
received there. Alyna soon became part of the everyday world of the
hospital, zooming down the halls, accepting treats and pats, helping
patients to forget their pain and why they were there. When Alyna
was around, Riki says, “There was a lot of laughing and giggling.”
Most importantly, as the kids struggled with their therapies,
hospital staff would remind them that Alyna didn’t like her therapy
either but she got better with practice, and it was clear to all how
much her life improved with her new mobility. So the young patients
worked harder, to be more like Alyna. “Talking to them about Alyna’s
struggles seemed to help the kids feel less afraid and less frustrated.
They really felt that Alyna understood them.”
Over the years, Alyna has inspired hundreds of children, showing
them how strong they could be; making their rocky paths seem a bit
less daunting. After all, there was a little bunny on the same road,
wheeling along beside them.

Do you have a tale to tell about a farm animal, pet or zoo creature
that has done something unusual or brave? We’d love to hear from
you. Send your stories to Smart Animals. See page 6 for details.

46 | February•2015
Despite her
READER’S DIGEST
small size, Alyna
made a big
impression
working at the
children’s
hospital in
Israel

February•2015 | 47
HERO PET

The soft-eyed brown pit bull tugged at David’s


heart – and set off a life-changing chain of events

Good
The

Pit Bull BY ANITA BARTH O LO M E W

D
AVID LANTEIGNE NEVER INTENDED to adopt another pet
when he visited an Animal Rescue League in March 2009.
His golden retriever Penny was as much as he could man-
age in his cosy East Boston apartment. But, he figured, he
could still volunteer to walk the shelter dogs, and make
them feel cared for.
Touring the facility, the then 25-year-old Boston police officer spied a
sweet brown five-year-old pit bull named Lilly in a kennel at the back, and
knelt down to say hi. “She had the prettiest eyes,” he recalls. As he reached
in to pet her, she pushed her neck up to the grate. He noticed some scars
on her head – had she been abused? She so craved the little bit of warmth
and affection he could offer through the cage door. Something about her

48 | February•2015
Gentle and friendly,
Lilly caught David’s
attention through the
bars of her kennel ➸
November•2014 | 49
THE GOOD PIT BULL

tugged at his heart. He hated having to And David was right : they were
leave her there. good for each other. Devoted to her
He thought of his mother, Chris- care, Christine took Lilly everywhere,
tine Spain, who, in her own way, was cooked her special meals, cuddled
as trapped by forces beyond her con- beside her at night. She even came out
trol as Lilly – and in as much need of of her shell a bit, chatting with people
someone to love. Christine had bat- she and Lilly met on their walks. All
tled alcoholism and mental illness all seemed well at last.

O
her adult life. She’d lost everything
as a result – even her children. David n May 3, 2012, David started
and his sister were sent to live with his shift at midnight, walking
their grandparents when he was just a beat in the rough and tumble
six years old. He never gave up on his Boston neighbourhood of Mattapan. In
mother though. He’d ride his bike the his six years on the force, he’d seen it
8km to visit her in the next town. And all. Nothing, he thought, could shake
it was so wonderful to share loving him – until a text came in from a friend
moments with her, he could forget the who worked as a paramedic in Shirley,
times he found her unconscious on a 80km away.
floor scattered with empty beer cans. “Your mother almost got hit by a
But that was the past. He felt a train,” reported the friend. “She’s un-
mixture of pride and relief knowing hurt, but the dog with her wasn’t so
she’d given up drinking more than lucky. Seems it lost a paw.”
two years before. Still, anxiety and A quick call to the local police
depression kept her from going out, gave him the details. A freight train
meeting new people. was steaming past the Shirley station
Having a dog to care for would give when the engineer spied a woman
her a reason to get out and socialise. up ahead, passed out on the tracks,
And his mother would be a lifesaver a brown dog by her side. The dog
for Lilly. pushed and pulled, frantically trying
He brought Christine to meet Lilly to move her. The massive engine’s
the following week, and she was just brakes screeched. Just before the train
as taken with the dog as her son had stopped, the engineer felt a thump.
been. So Lilly joined the family. On Racing back on foot, he expected to see
David’s days off, Lilly would stay with two dead bodies.
him and Penny, her new best friend. But Lilly had somehow pulled
But mostly, she lived with Christine in Christine off the track just in time.
the rambling white house across from Still incoherent from drink, Chris-
the train station in the New England tine had been arrested. Lilly had been
town of Shirley, Massachusetts. taken to an emergency veterinarian.

50 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

David left his shift and sped


west to Shirley, choking back
sobs, furious at his mother for
putting herself in danger, and
tormenting himself about letting
her adopt Lilly.
David arrived to find Lilly still
in the animal control officer’s
car. Though battered and bloody,
when she saw him, her tail began
to wag. As he picked her up, a
makeshift bandage fell from her
mangled leg. David gently placed
Lilly in the back of his SUV, then
raced back the way he came.
At the Angell Animal Medi-
cal Center in Boston, doctors David immediately fell for Lilly. He also knew
told him Lilly’s right front paw she would be good for his mother
had been “degloved” – the skin,
P HOTOS: PREVIOUS SP READ AND THI S PAGE: BETH ORAM P HOTOGRAP HY

muscle and connective tissue sheered start earning the extra money he’d
away. But there was a possibility that need to pay the vet bills.
her leg could be saved – the doc- No more than an hour into his
tors wouldn’t know for sure until the shift, the hospital called. Lilly’s front
X-rays were completed. right leg could not be saved. Of more
As Lilly was wheeled into intensive concern were her hindquarters. She
care, David applied for a US$4000 had multiple fractures of her left hip
loan – the estimated cost of the am- and pelvis. She’d need major surgery
putation, if it had to be done. At last, to repair the damage.
done with the paperwork, he was able First, Lilly had to survive the ampu-
to visit her. She had a multitude of tation, the doctor explained. If she did,
tubes and IVs in her. She whimpered they’d wait a day or two, operate on her
despite the pain medication. But she hindquarters, and insert a steel plate to
was stable. And she seemed to take help her support her weight.
comfort in his presence. David’s spirits sank as he absorbed
Too soon, as the city stirred awake the news. If she lived, he asked, would
to another morning, he had to leave she be able to walk? The doctor
her. Hustling home, he had just couldn’t guarantee it.
enough time to shower before report- Would it be fair to put her through
ing for an overtime shift so he could more pain, only to have her die on the

February•2015 | 51
THE GOOD PIT BULL

But she’d made it through.


Now, there was one big test
left: would she walk again?
Word spread around An-
gell Animal Medical Center
about the hero dog who’d
rescued her owner from the
train tracks. Rob Halpin, An-
gell’s public relations director,
asked David if he’d be willing
to share Lilly’s story with the
media. It would, Halpin told
him, help counter the unfair
stigma pit bulls face that often
prevented them from being
adopted.
David agreed. At first, he
sat down with local inter-
viewers but once the news
Today, Christine is ever more dedicated of Lilly’s heroism spread, An-
to Lilly – and to her own health gell started getting calls from
reporters around the world.
operating table? What if she was left Halpin set up a fund for Lilly’s care.
with just one good leg out of four? Within four days about US$76,000
He didn’t want Lilly to suffer any had been donated, more than enough
more, but she’d made it this far. It to cover Lilly’s hospital bills as well as
shouldn’t be for nothing. Lilly had her the extensive physical therapy she’d
right front leg, including the shoulder, need. Angell would set aside the
amputated the following morning. balance of donations to help other
Through the steel grate of her cinder animals whose owners could not
block kennel after the surgery, David otherwise afford their care.

F
saw a shaved, bruised dog, tubes and
needles everywhere, and stitches inally, a little more than a week
PHOTO: LDA NCY DES IGN

where her leg had been. “She looked after the accident, Angell’s
like Frankenstein.” doctors decided she could go
On Saturday, May 5, surgeons home. She couldn’t yet stand, but she
operated on her hip and pelvis. So had started to move her back legs. It
damaged was the top of the hip joint, seemed a good sign.
it had to be cut away. At home, completely helpless,

52 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

Lilly needed round-the-clock care. Christine diligently helped Lilly do


Christine moved into her son’s apart- the stretching exercises prescribed
ment and committed herself to Lilly’s by Starr. Together, mother and son
recovery. She cooked her special learned how to “walk” her. With one
meals of boiled chicken, sweet pota- person at Lilly’s front and the other at
toes, and rice. Lilly needed a multi- her back, they carried her in a specially
tude of pills – antibiotics, painkillers, designed dual harness.
anti-inflammatories – which Christine One sunny June afternoon, David
conscientiously administered. Lilly brought the two dogs to a park in
couldn’t move by herself, and Chris- downtown Boston. Lilly was loung-
tine didn’t want her to have to sleep ing in the grass in her harness, Penny
alone. She snuggled in with the dog at nearby, when a woman stopped on
night on the hardwood floor. the sidewalk and stared, evidently
Though they never spoke about recognising them, thanks to all the
what happened that night on the rail- media attention Lilly had gotten.
road tracks, David overheard Chris- The woman began walking towards
tine call Lilly, “my little lifesaver,” and them, beaming a warm, inviting smile,
her dedication to the dog said more then opened her arms wide and called
than words. out: “Lilly!”
And yet, it would all be for nothing Lilly’s face lit up as it always did.
if physical therapy couldn’t get Lilly But as David watched, stunned, Lilly
back on her feet again. pushed herself up and, wobbly as can
Several days after her discharge be, took half a dozen steps on her three
from Angell, David carried Lilly into remaining legs to greet the woman.
the Paws in Motion rehabilitation Reacting quickly, he reached out to
centre, and gently placed her on the support the dog, frightened that she’d
floor. The most physical therapist collapse. And just as quickly, joy swept
Dr Suzanne Starr could do with Lilly away the fear.
that first day was to massage, flex and Everything was going to be all right.
extend her legs. Lilly was going to make it. She would
At her next session, Starr placed Lilly walk again.
onto the underwater treadmill. And,
for a few brief moments, the buoy- Lilly still divides her time between her two
ancy of the water allowed the pit bull homes in Shirley and East Boston, happily
to stand and walk upright on her own getting around on her three legs. She also
makes appearances for a charity, Lilly The
without falling. But outside the water, Hero Pit Bull, that advocates on behalf of
Lilly was as immobile as before, unable pit bulls, raises money for their medical
to bear her own weight on her remain- expenses, and helps them find new homes.
ing three legs. Christine is again sober and doing well.

February•2015 | 53
LIVING LANGUAGE

words that
nurs
e the
ego and
heal
the
t
ar
he

54 | December•2014
In the last few months of his life,
one of Australia’s best-loved
authors reflected on his passion for

Words
the simple things, including…

BY BRYCE CO URTE NAY

I GUESS AS A WRITER I care about words more than most and


while it’s natural that the new technology such as Facebook and
Twitter and the by now almost universally used email encour-
ages us to use a bunch of words that are colourless and often cut
to verbal ribbons – “How R U”, “Luv U” or similar – it seems to be
a process that is squeezing the life out of language.
I am aware that language is a constantly changing medium –
new words and forms arrive, old ones die out. Like life, a great
many common words have a brief lifespan before passing away.
But English is a beautiful and expressive language that more than

February•2015 | 55
LIVING LANGUAGE

most languages can explain through while others can set your blood
idiom our society to ourselves. pounding. Expletives are a part of
Truncating words into small, our language and they too can be
common, lifeless little objects, used well or simply wasted, thrown
meaningless phrases as if what we together in a sentence to denote little
have to say and therefore we ourselves but an inability to think or pause
are unimportant and worthless seems meaningfully in an attempt to find an
to me to be a tragic transgression into appropriate adjective.
nowhere. Someone once said we are There are words so rounded at
known by the words we use. the edges and softened by wear
Allow me to talk a little about words, that they are no longer words at all
those lovely, jumping, laughing, eager but the sounds that people make
little marks we make on paper or tap for confusion, despair, joy or anger.
onto a screen. There are words that are randy (old-
Words gather around a proposition fashioned word) or sexy but not dirty
or an idea or story willingly. Some wag or foul. And sacred words that have
their tails, others stand back a little shy, become expletives, their meanings
but they’ve come to work, some shuffle soiled with improper unthinking and
as they stand in line, others stand to careless use.
rigid attention while you can almost Some words stick like burrs and
hear some of them tap dancing. But punish at a touch. They are words we
the big ones and the small ones, the never forget, insults and denigrating
extroverted words and the shy words words that destroy our egos and
all want to be part of the action, part sometimes even our lives.
of your narrative. They all want to get But then there are also words that
into the act, all are anxious to make nurse the ego and heal the heart.
your writing just the very best it can be. There are words joined together in
If you love words they force you common phrases we barely notice as
to use them intelligently, they don’t we employ them in everyday use, yet
merely want to show off – in fact, they if you pause a moment to think, they
love working hard. Nothing echoes are so beautiful that they elevate the
more loudly than a hollow word or human race. For instance, here is a
lacks meaning as does a lazy one. phrase so common we use it without
Some words run softly, on tippy- a moment’s thought, yet it is a miracle
toe, almost soundless, others clump of invention. How it ever came into
around like an under-14 football being is a marvel and a mystery. Who
team milling around on the cement was it to first use our language with
floor of the dressing shed. Some such finesse? The phrase: “Beyond
soothe like cold cream on sunburn a shadow of a doubt”. Just pause for

56 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

a moment. Beyond meaning a way invented. It means you can possess


ahead, a shadow a dark area covering an opinion that can reach around
light, a doubt, a hesitancy in belief. the world without the media or the
How blithely we employ this phrase, government putting a spin to it.
yet how exquisitely beautiful it is in its Your opinion coupled with countless
thought and structure. Our language others can stop wars and destroy
contains hundreds, tyrants. Use it, and if you
perhaps thousands choose the right
of similar miracles words, inequity
of expression that a n d h a rd s h i p
lead to deeper There are some – even poverty
understanding – can be solved
words that remain
or emphasis. forever.
Though there forever unspoken, The choice
are also phrases clamped in a is ours, words
that clunk, or do throat that aches s p o ke n , o n t h e
for me. Here is one, screen, recorded,
to let them out
“I mean this from the written, lyrics. If we
bottom of my heart.” use them well and care
In my mind’s eye I see a how we put them together,
heart with a large bottom and if we think before we open
anything, even a sentiment, our mouths, tap the computer
coming from it is not to be trusted. keys or unclip a pen or compose a
Any person “heart-bottoming” me is lyric or write a poem or even a note
suspect. to the supermarket, we will do more
There are also phrases that smack than simply rescue language, we will
you in the mouth. “He was found stone begin to communicate meaningfully
cold dead.” Whack! with each other as a collective force
There are even some words that that can’t be stopped. When we talk
remain forever unspoken, clamped in with purpose and pleasure to each
a throat that aches to let them out … other in this marvellous language we
and often they are the most meaningful have been given as our birthright then
words of all. anything is possible and most of it will
Words are the most of what we be very good.
have to solve just about everything. You are a person with a point of view
The new social media is the most that counts – use it! Find the right
powerful medium for words ever words and change the world.
EDITED EXTRACT FROM SILVER MOON: REFLECTIONS ON LIFE, DEATH AND WRITING BY BRYCE COURTENAY.
© 2014. PUBLISHED BY VIKING AUSTRALIA. RRP A$24.99 OR AS AN EBOOK RRP A$9.99

February•2015 | 57
Life’s Like That
SEEING THE FUNNY SIDE

From the Archives

A special treat for our February 2015 chest, sobbing, “I’ll make you pay
readers: this charming letter from for this!”
58 years ago is also accompanied by After the dramatics had calmed
the original February 1957 down I went my way and forgot
illustration. about the whole thing. About a
month later I saw a picture in the
There was a loud crash, and when I
paper of this same man and woman.
rushed outside I saw that a woman
The caption read, “Newlywed
had banged into a man’s car ahead
Couple Enjoying Seaside
of her. Unhurt, she jumped out and
Honeymoon”.
inspected the damage to her own
I couldn’t help thinking she had
car. Then she ran up to the man
made him pay – plenty!
and started beating him on the SUBMITTED BY BERNARD J. SMITH

NOT AS ADVERTISED SPITTING IMAGE


My husband and I were relaxing I was showing off my
on lounge chairs on a Jamaica drawing skills to my four-
beach, half listening to a couple year-old one day. I would
walking ankle deep in the clear sketch different things and
water. The woman was extolling the then ask him to recognise them. My
beauty of the island when suddenly boy was doing really well until I drew
she let out a scream. an angry face and he shouted, “It’s
“Oh!” she shrieked. “There are fish Mummy!” My wife was not amused.
in here!” SUBMITTED BY JANET DAVIS SUBMITTED BY ABHISHEK VERMA

58 | February•2015
DEFACED LEGS
My five-year-old nephew
visited his grandma with me
one warm summer’s day. As The Great Tweet-off:
it was so balmy, she wasn’t Wisdom Edition
wearing her normal thick Time to check in with teenage
stockings. The little boy was wide- wunder-tweeter @SixthFormPoet.
eyed as he carefully examined the His musings have been enjoyed by
varicose veins threaded along her millions since he joined Twitter in
legs. February 2011, and he now has a
Looking concerned, he leaned book, The Sixth Form Poet: Deep
forward and whispered, “You’ve been Thoughts and Wise Words. Enjoy.
really naughty, Nana. Mummy will go l Clapping
mad when she sees what you’ve done between push-ups
with that felt-tip pen.” is a cool way to
SUBMITTED BY MARGARET FIELDER applaud yourself
for managing
something
RETURN TO SENDER
asthmatic ten-
Spotting an enormous year-olds can do
snail feasting on one with minimal effort.
of my plants,
I “accidentally” lobbed “My bed is half full.”
it towards my neighbour’s – Lonely optimist
garden. It sailed through the air –
l Just so you know, kissing
closely followed by my pretty bracelet
someone mid-sentence works
that became detached from my wrist. better in films than when a bus
With my tail between my legs, I was conductor is asking why you don’t
forced to go and confess to the have a valid ticket.
neighbours, stressing that I’d only
l Just found the worst page in the
thrown the snail “towards”, not “at”,
entire dictionary. What I saw was
their garden. disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest
We went into their garden to search and disingenuous.
for the bracelet, but had no success.
l Life is a gift. You never get the
However, two days later my
one you really wanted.
neighbour called over the fence:
“Guess what?” he said. “We didn’t l It’s odd that Thelma and Louise
find your bracelet, but we found your spend an entire film challenging
snail – so we’ve thrown that back!” sexist stereotypes, then die at the
end because of their terrible driving.
SUBMITTED BY DIANE TURNER

February•2015 | 59
WHAT IT’S LIKE ...

An old boyfriend rang and said he had


a favour to ask. Jane Whitehead found it

Love
hard to believe what he said next

Reimagined
AS TOL D TO E M I LY C U N NINGH AM FR O M T H E GU AR DI AN

WHEN THE PHONE RANG and it days and would walk past his house
was my childhood sweetheart on the hoping to catch a glimpse of him. But
other end, my first reaction was suspi- I didn’t see him and had no choice
cion. Why was Kevin ringing me? He but to get on with my life.
had dumped me unceremoniously So when he rang I wasn’t bowled
eight years earlier, preferring to play over to hear from him. Something else
football with his mates than spend unnerved me, too – Kevin sounded
time with me. completely different. Older, yes, but
We were 14 when we met, and also hesitant and unsure of himself,
although it was just a light-hearted not like him at all. He explained that
teenage relationship, I was heartbro- he was ringing because he had had
ken when Kevin finished with me over a brain injury and lost his memory.
the phone after six weeks. I cried for His therapist had encouraged him to

60 | February•2015
Jane Whitehead: a leap
of faith changed her
whole future

contact childhood friends who might he came out of a two-day coma, he


help him patch together his past. My couldn’t recognise anyone – not even
name stuck out when he was browsing his mother – and he had spent eight
through Friends Reunited. He thought weeks in hospital having to relearn
we might have known each other. even simple day-to-day tasks such
“Known each other?” Was this as using a knife and fork. Gradually,
a wind-up? I found it hard to believe his memory was returning, but there
PHOTO: MARK CHILVERS

Kevin’s story and I was more than were still massive gaps that he hoped
a  little wary. I got a friend to ring I could help him fill.
his mother to confirm it and, yes, My feelings towards him softened.
he had been knocked off his motor- I didn’t feel attracted to this anxious,
bike by a  lorry and been thrown in vulnerable person, but I wanted to
the air, landing on his head. When help him, so we began to email and

February•2015 | 61
LOVE REIMAGINED

talk on the phone. He found that talk- him of that. When he asked to kiss me
ing about one recollection triggered again, I was delighted.
others and he was gradually piecing I was due to go on holiday with
together the jigsaw. friends, and before I left Kevin asked if
After a few weeks we met up. I would be his girlfriend. The formal-
The boy I’d known with surfer-style ity of the question made me laugh, but
hair was long gone – the man who I agreed and our relationship began
answered the door was stocky, with for the second time in a decade. At
a shaved head. During times it was very hard
our meal out, he was for both of us: Kevin
quiet and withdrawn, str uggled w ith dark
and we were both re- The awkward moods and would cry
lieved when I dropped silences weren’t often. He questioned
him off afterwards. I due to social why I would want to be
later discovered that it with him and said he
had been his first night
tensions, but would understand if I
out in months. because he was broke it off, but I could
The brain injury had trying to control never do that to him.
shattered his confi- a panic attack Before the accident he
dence, almost literally. had been about to move
During the accident, to Spain – he had his
Kevin’s brain was knocked violently whole future mapped out, but it had
against his skull, leaving a deep gouge come crashing down. I knew I was
on the area that controls emotion. one of the few things that buoyed him
Kevin’s personality had been radi- up during this time.
cally affected and as his brain slowly As the months passed, Kevin’s
rewired itself, he struggled with his mood stabilised. He didn’t need my
feelings. So the awkward silences support so much and our relationship
we’d had weren’t due to simple became one of equals. We married in
social tensions, but because he was 2007 and we had our twins, Louis and
struggling to control a panic attack. Olivia, in 2010. Kevin’s memory is
We continued to email and phone, back to normal; if he forgets some-
and took to driving to old haunts. As thing, like everyone does, we laugh
I grew to understand him, my feel- that he can’t blame the accident, just
ings changed. How could I not warm old age. I would never say I was glad
to this sensitive, kind man? Once we Kevin had his accident, but I am so
visited the place where we had first happy to be with the man he became
kissed as teenagers, and I reminded because of it.
THE GUARDIAN (22 JUNE 2013), © 2013 GUARDIAN NEWS AND MEDIA LIMITED

62 | February•2015
That’s Outrageous!
IT’S A NUMBERS GAME

700 The number 419.99 The mile


of church-bell tolls marker Colorado put
a Rhode Island man on Interstate 70 after
had to endure in one the old one – 420, which
week, which put him in is linked to marijuana –
a bad mood and kept being stolen.
contributed to the Source: newser.com

demise of his marriage,


according to his lawsuit 78 The number of anti-
against said church in riot vehicles bought by
Florida, US. Source: The Week German police. During
a public exhibition, one
24 The number of of the 33-tonne vehicles
puppies in the largest litter ever – which was advertised as withstanding
recorded. They were born by caesarean missiles such as bricks, stones and
section on 29 November, 2004, in the Molotov cocktails – was damaged by
UK and their mother, Tia, was a tennis balls, eggs and plastic bottles
Neopolitan mastiff. The litter consisted filled with water. Source: The Daily Mail

of 9 female pups and 15 males: 21 of


them survived. Source: guinnessworldrecords.com 3600 The approximate total number
of spider species that you’ll find in the
1,079,952 The amount in dollars Amazon. The largest of these is the
lost when a member of the cleaning Goliath bird eater, which can live for
staff at a German museum mistook almost 30 years. Source: thinkjungle.com
ILLUSTRATION: NI SHANT CHOKSI

a piece of art for garbage and threw


it out. Source: The Guardian 911 The number called by a Texas
woman requesting that someone
73 The percentage of the vote that the bring her cigarettes. Source: nbcdfw.com

government of Azerbaijan stated the


president had received during the past 4,800,000,000 The divorce
election. Note: the results were judgment in dollars against Russian
accidentally leaked a day before billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.
anyone voted. Source: huffingtonpost.com Source: The New York Daily News

February•2015 | 63
FIRST PERSON

Son
The
Scarred by the hatred and violence of his
father, a boy becomes a force for peace

Terrorist’s
BY ZAK E B R A H I M F R OM T H E BO O K T H E T E R RO R I ST ’ S SON

ILLUSTRATION BY JOE MCKEN DRY; PH OTO COURTESY Z AK EBRAHI M


November 5, 1990
CLIFFSIDE PARK, NEW JERSEY

M
y mother shakes me awake in my bed: “There’s
been an accident,” she says.
I am seven years old, a chubby kid in Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles pyjamas. I’m accustomed to being
roused before dawn, but only by my father and only to pray
on my little rug with the minarets. Never by my mother.
ZAK EBRAHIM is
It’s 11 at night. My father is not home. Lately, he has been
an advocate for
nonviolence, staying at the mosque in Jersey City deeper and deeper into
tolerance and the night. But he is still Baba to me – funny, loving, warm.
empathy. Just this morning, he tried to teach me, yet again, how to
tie my shoes. Has he been in an accident? Is he hurt? Is he
dead? I can’t get the questions out, because I’m too scared.
My mother flings open a white sheet – it mushrooms
briefly, like a cloud – then leans down to spread it on the

64 | February•2015
Zak visited his father at
the Attica Correctional
Facility in 1994. The house
in the background is
where the family stayed
for a weekend on the
prison grounds

November•2014 | 65
THE TERRORIST’S SON

floor. “Look into my eyes, Z,” she says, mosque, desperate to reach him. “He’s
her face so knotted with worry that I not here,” my mother says.
hardly recognise her. “You need to The phone rings again.
get dressed as quick as you can. And This time, I can’t figure out who’s
then you need to put your things onto calling. My mother says, “Really?
this sheet and wrap it up tight. OK? Asking about us? The police?”
Your sister will help you.” She moves A little later, I wake up on a blanket
towards the door. on the living room floor. Somehow, in
“Wait,” I say. It’s the first word I’ve the midst of the chaos, I’ve nodded off.
managed to utter. “What should I put Everything we could possibly carry is
in the sheet?” piled by the door. My mother paces

My mother saw footage of the Arab gunman, and


her heart nearly stopped: it was my father

I’m a good kid. Shy. Obedient. around, checking and rechecking her
My mother stops to look at me. purse. She has all our birth certificates:
“Whatever will fit,” she says. “I don’t proof, if anyone demands it, that she
know if we’re coming back.” is our mother. My father, El-Sayyid
She turns, and she’s gone. Nosair, was born in Egypt. But my
Once we’ve packed, my sister, mother was born in Pittsburgh. Before
brother, and I pad down to the living she became a Muslim – before she took
room. My mother has called my the name Khadija Nosair – she went by
father’s cousin in Brooklyn – we call Karen Mills.
him Uncle Ibrahim, or just Ammu “Your uncle Ibrahim is coming for
– and she’s talking to him heatedly, us,” she tells me when she sees me
clutching the phone with her left sitting up and rubbing my eyes.
hand and, with her right, nervously Here is what my mother is not
adjusting her hijab. The TV plays saying: Meir Kahane, a militant
in the background. Breaking news. rabbi and the founder of the Jewish
My mother catches us watching and Defense League, has been shot by an
hurries to turn it off. Arab gunman after a speech in a ball-
She talks to Ammu Ibrahim for a room at a Marriott hotel in New York.
while longer, her back to us. When she The gunman fled the scene, shooting
hangs up, the phone begins ringing. an elderly man in the leg in the pro-
It is one of Baba’s friends from the cess. He rushed into a cab that was

66 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

waiting in front of the hotel but then charges. The family endured years of
bolted out and began running down death threats, nomadic living, and
the street, gun in hand. A law en- poverty. Tragically, Nosair’s career as a
forcement officer from the US Postal terrorist was not over yet.
Service, who happened to be pass-
ing by, exchanged fire with him. The February 26, 1993
gunman collapsed on the street. The JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY

I
newscasters couldn’t help noting a ’m about to turn ten, and I’ve
gruesome detail: both Rabbi Kahane been bullied at school for years. I
and the assassin had been shot in the can’t pretend it’s just because of
neck. Neither was expected to live. who my father is. For reasons I will
Now the TV stations are updating probably spend my whole life trying
the story constantly. An hour ago, to unravel, I seem to be a magnet
while my sister, brother, and I slept for abuse. The bullies’ latest trick is
away our last seconds of anything to wait until I’ve turned to open my
remotely resembling a childhood, locker and then slam my head against
my mother overheard the name Meir it and run. Whenever this happens,
Kahane and looked up at the screen. the principal says he wants to be “fair
The first thing she saw was footage to all parties”, so I usually get sent to
of the Arab gunman, and her heart detention along with the bullies. The
nearly stopped: it was my father. anger and dread have made a perma-
nent nest in my stomach. Today’s a
◆ ◆ ◆
Friday, and my mother has let me stay
Nosair survived his injuries, while home from school to recover from
Kahane did not. Awaiting trial in what we agree to call “a stomach bug”.
prison at Attica State Prison in New I’m camped out on t he couch,
York, Nosair insisted on his innocence, watching Harry and the Hendersons,
and his wife and children desperately a movie about a family who’s hiding
wanted to believe him. During this a Bigfoot-t y pe creature from t he
time, US federal agents raided the fam- police because the police won’t un-
ily’s home, but it would be years before derstand how kind and gentle he is.
they translated all his papers. Mean- In the middle of the movie, there’s
while, Osama bin Laden, unknown breaking news: an explosion beneath
to most of the world at that time, was the North Tower of the World Trade
among those contributing to Nosair’s Center (W TC). Law enforcement
legal fees. In 1991, a jury found Nosair agencies are on the scene, the early
not guilty of murder. He was sentenced theory being that a transformer has
instead to seven to 22 years for crimi- exploded. The wreckage is horrific.
nal possession of a weapon and other Later, hundreds of FBI agents comb

February•2015 | 67
THE TERRORIST’S SON

through the rubble. They abandon the the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the
theory about the transformer when George Washington Bridge and a fed-
they discover remnants of the rental eral building housing the FBI in New
van that carried the explosives. The York.
FBI traces the van back to Moham- For practical purposes, though,
med Salameh – the deliver y man the WTC operation was run by the
who’d promised to marry my sister Kuwaiti-born Ramzi Yousef. He had
when she came of age – and arrests studied electrical engineering in Wales
him on March 4, when he returns to and bomb making at a terrorist train-
the rental company to report the van ing camp in Pakistan. He entered the
stolen and demand that he get his United States using a fake Iraqi pass-

My mother barely has the money to pay for my father’s


collect calls. I don’t want to talk to him anyway

$400 deposit back. In the months that port and, upon being detained, played
follow, America shivers at the previ- a get-out-of-jail-free card by requesting
ously incomprehensible thought of asylum. A court date was set.
terrorism at home, as well as at the And because holding cells were full,
fact that its government agencies had Yousef was released on his own recog-
been caught unawares. nizance in New Jersey, whereupon he
and his team began collecting the

A
STARTLING FACT EMERGES: ingredients for the bomb. Just hours
my f a t h e r h e l p e d s t ra t- after the attack, Yousef left the country.
egise the attack from his I wish I could do more to honour
cell at Attica, using visitors as go- the six victims than just repeat their
betweens to associates back home. names, but I’d be ashamed if I didn’t
One of those associates was his old do at least that much. Robert Kirk-
mentor, the “Blind Sheikh” [Sheik patrick, William Macko and Stephen
Omar Abdel-Rahman], who not only Knapp were all maintenance super-
encouraged the WTC plot, according visors at the WTC. They were eating
to the government, but also signed lunch together when the bomb went
off on a plan that would have been off. Monica Rodriguez Smith was a
far more deadly, had it come to pass: secretary. She was seven months preg-
five more bombs detonated within nant and doing clerical work when she
ten minutes at the United Nations, was killed. Wilfredo Mercado worked

68 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

for the restaurant Windows on the goes to hug my mother, she pulls
World. He was checking in deliveries. away for the first time, so repulsed
And John DiGiovanni was a salesman that she thinks she’s going to vomit.
who specialised in dental products – For many years, she will try to con-
he was just parking his car. sole us by saying that we have a father
who loves us. But she will always re-

B
Y THE AUTUMN OF 1995 , the member the visit to the MCC as the
government, having finally day that her own heart finally gave up.
translated the contents of the My father is shipped off to a series
47 boxes taken from our home after of maximum-security prisons around
Kahane’s assassination, determines the country. We can no longer afford
that the killing was part of a conspiracy to visit, even if we wanted to. My
and retries my father for the murder as mother barely has the money to pay
well as for his part in the World Trade for my father’s collect calls. I don’t
Center bombing. want to talk to him anyway. All he
My father still insists that he is in- ever says is, “Are you making your
nocent of everything. I believe him prayers? Are you being good to your
because – well, because I am 12 years mother?” And all I want to say is, “Are
old. My mother has doubts. My father you being good to my mother, Baba?
rants to her about the conspiracy Do you know that she’s crying all the
against him, and he barks orders: time?” But, of course, I’m too scared
write to the judge! Call Pakistan! Go to to say any of this. So my father and I
the Egyptian embassy! Are you writing keep having the same pointless con-
all of this down?! My mother yesses versations, and I twist the phone cord
him quietly. tighter and tighter around my hand
On October 1, my father, along with because I just want it to stop.
the Blind Sheikh and eight others, My mother wants it to stop too. She
is convicted of 48 out of 50 charges, demands a divorce, and we all change
and later he is sentenced to life plus our last name.
15 years without parole. The murder We’ve seen my father for the last time.
of Monica Rodriguez Smith’s unborn
◆ ◆ ◆
child is considered in the sentencing.
After the new round of convic- After years of moving around the coun-
tions, we see my father once – at the try and even living briefly in Egypt,
Metropolitan Correctional Center the family moved to Tampa, Florida.
(MCC) in New York. My mother is Zak got a job at Busch Gardens, a
terrified about what will become of theme park, when he was 18. There he
her and her children. Even now, my made friends and came to appreciate
father will not admit guilt. When he people from all different backgrounds.

February•2015 | 69
THE TERRORIST’S SON

I
’VE SPENT MY LIFE trying to based on what they were – Muslim,
understand what drew my father Jewish, Christian, gay, straight – and
to terrorism and struggled with the that starting right then and there, I
knowledge that I have his blood in my was going to judge them based only
veins. It was many years before I inter- on who they were. She listened, she
nalised the full horror of what he did. nodded, and she had the wisdom
I carried fear, anger, and self-loathing to speak the six most empowering
in my gut but couldn’t even begin to words I have ever heard: “I’m so tired
process them. of hating people.”
I now understand that there’s a Everyone has a choice. Even if
reason that murderous hatred has to you’re trained to hate, you can choose

Everyone has a choice. Even if you’re trained to hate,


you can choose tolerance. You can choose empathy

be taught – and not just taught but tolerance. You can choose empathy.
forcibly implanted. It’s not a naturally To be honest, I still feel some-
occurring phenomenon. It is a lie. It is thing for my father, something that
a lie told over and over again – often I haven’t been able to eradicate –
to people who have no resources and some strand of pity and guilt, I guess,
who are denied alternative views of the though it’s as thin as spider’s silk.
world. It’s a lie my father believed, and It’s hard to think of the man I once
one he hoped to pass on to me. But he called Baba living in a cell, knowing
could not fill me with hate from jail. that we have all changed our names
And he could not stop me from coming out of terror and shame.
into contact with the sorts of people he Every so often, I’ll get an e-mail from
demonised and discovering that they the federal penitentiary in Marion,
were human beings – people I could Illinois, saying that my father would
care about and who could care about like to initiate correspondence. But I’ve
me. Bigotry cannot survive experience. learned that leads nowhere good.
My body rejected it. Rabbi Kahane’s assassination was
My mother’s faith in Islam never not just hateful but a failure as any-
wavered, but she, l i ke t he vast thing other than simple murder. My
majorit y of Muslims, is any thing father intended to shut the rabbi up
but a zealot. When I was 18, I told and to bring glory unto Allah. What he
her I could no longer judge people actually did was to bring shame and

70 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

suspicion unto all Muslims and to in- shut one’s ears to hatred and violence
spire more pointless and cowardly acts and simply choose peace.
of violence. After my talk, a handful of agents
One of the upsides to not speak- formed a line to shake my hand.
ing to my father anymore is that I’ve The first few agents offered polite
never had to listen to him pontifi- words and firm grips. The third one,
cate about the vile events that took a woman, had been crying.
place on September 11. He must “You probably don’t remember me,”
have regarded the destruction of the she said. “But I was one of the agents
Twin Towers as a great victory for who worked on your father’s case.” She
Islam – maybe even as the culmination paused awkwardly, which made my
of the work he and the Blind Sheikh heart go out to her. “I always wondered
and Ramzi Yousef had begun years what happened to the children of El-
earlier. Sayyid Nosair,” she continued. “I was
In April 2012, I had the surreal afraid that you’d followed in his path.”
experience of giving a speech to a I’m proud of the path that I’ve
couple of hundred federal agents. chosen. And I think I speak for my
The Bureau wanted to build a better brother and sister when I say that
rapport with the Muslim community, rejecting our father’s extremism both
and the agent in charge of the cam- saved our lives and made our lives
paign had heard me advocate for worth living.
peace at his son’s school, so there I To answer the agent’s question,
was – feeling honoured but nervous. I here is what happened to the children
proceeded to tell my story and to offer of El-Sayyid Nosair:
myself up as proof that it is possible to We are not his children anymore.
THE TERRORIST’S SON, BY ZAK EBRAHIM WITH JEFF GILES, © 2014 BY ZAK EBRAHIM, IS A TED BOOK
AND PUBLISHED BY SIMON & SCHUSTER, INC. WWW.SIMONANDSCHUSTER.COM.

OVERLY HONEST OUT-OF-OFFICE REPLIES

l I’m away from my computer but still available to chat if it’s not
about work.

l I’ll be checking email sporadically in between cycling through


all these tabs I have open to compare shoe prices.

l If you’d like to contact me, please post your email directly to my

Facebook page, where I will be spending the remainder of the day.


SOMEECARDS.COM

February•2015 | 71
All in a Day’s Work
HUMOUR ON THE JOB

DEADLY DIET
At a conference I attended recently, a doctor was addressing
a large audience. “The material we put into our stomachs should
have killed most of us sitting here years ago,” he said. “Red
meat is full of steroids and dye. Soft drinks corrode your
stomach lining. Fast food is loaded with additives. High trans-
fats diets can be disastrous, and none of us realises the long-
term harm caused by germs in our drinking water.
“But there’s one thing that’s the most dangerous of all, and
most of us has, or will, eat it. Can anyone here tell me what
food it is that causes the most grief and suffering for years
after eating it?”
After several seconds of quiet, an elderly man in the front
row raised his hand and softly said, “Wedding cake?”
SUBMITTED BY ROBERT THOMPSON

KNOCK KNOCK rush over and explain in case his


When I worked in the post office, friend went home and told his parents
a lady barged in and started what he’d been told.
complaining that she’d got home “I do not ‘sell drugs’,” I assured him,
to find a note from the postman – “but I do work in a pharmacy!”
he’d tried to deliver a package but SUBMITTED BY AMELIA BARNES
nobody was in.
“My husband was home all day!” AFTER-DINNER DRINKS
she fumed. We recently ate at a restaurant and as
After I gave her the package, she we paid our bill the waitress asked our
P HOTO: (COUP LE) THIN KSTOCK

said, “Oh, I’m so excited – it’s my small son what we


husband’s new hearing aids!” were going to do
SUBMITTED BY LUCY BRYN next. Excitedly,
Jamie said, “We
BACK PEDDLER have whisky in
I was listening to my son and his the car, you
friend discussing what their parents know.”
did for a living, when I had to quickly The waitress

72 | February•2015
BE VERY AFRAID
SCENE: A second-hand DVD shop…
ME: Do you have the DVD of Sharknado?
SHOP ASSISTANT: Is that a documentary?
SUBMITTED BY LYNETTE COMBS

glared at me and walked off before INGRATE


I could explain to her that our dog – I recently visited a local restaurant
Whisky – was indeed waiting for us to for a spot of lunch. I ordered a ham
return to the parking lot. salad, and the waiter soon arrived
SUBMITTED BY JOANNE AITCH with my meal.
“Do you know what kind of cheese
THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS this is?” I asked him, pointing at my
(HALF) RIGHT plate. Off he went into the kitchen to
I was really pleased with my purchase find out from the chef, and a few
of a new pair of shoes from a major moments later he returned.
retailer. About a week later, on a rainy “It’s grated cheese, sir,” he replied.
day, I was in a rush and quickly SUBMITTED BY KENNETH ROBERTS
grabbed my shoes from the rack and
made my way into town. To my horror, FLAMEOUT
I felt a wet sensation I was assisting a teacher
inside my right shoe – who was tutoring a class of
it was leaking. 14-year-olds who’d recently
I returned to the been on a trip to Italy.
shop to complain When the teacher asked for
about the leaking any questions relating to their trip, one
right shoe. At pupil raised his hand and asked, “Sir,
customer service, the why are the underground stations
assistant looked at both called ‘Fumare Vieto’?”
shoes and said, “Yes, sir, After a silence, the teacher replied,
you’re correct – the right shoe leaks, “The translation is ‘No Smoking’.”
but unfortunately only the left shoe SUBMITTED BY ROCHELLE COHEN
was bought from this store.”
My apology was as swift as my  Got a good joke, anecdote or real-life
gem to share? Send it in and you could win
departure. cash! See page 6 for details on how to
SUBMITTED BY PHILIP CARROLL contribute.

February•2015 | 73
CHEAT SHEET
I N ST
A N SWA N T
ERS

EBOLA
START AT THE BEGINNING:
Not everyone who catches Ebola virus disease
BY HA ZEL FLYN N

will die, but it kills at a far higher rate than many


other diseases. Africa is currently
experiencing a headline-making outbreak
of the disease, which is spread by
person-to-person transmission. In
previous epidemics, 50% of affected WHAT ARE ITS
people died but without medical ORIGINS? The first
treatment this can rise as high as outbreak of 602 recorded
90%. The WHO has reported cases was in 1976 in Sudan
a fatality rate during and in the Democratic Republic
the current of Congo (formerly Zaire), near
epidemic in the Ebola River. It may have
West Africa been initially spread as a
of about result of handling bushmeat
72%. This (wild animals hunted for
drops to SUDAN
food) or contact with
60% for infected bats. The

ILLUSTRATIONS : THINKSTOCK; GETTY I M AGES


patients in GUINEA current Ebola
hospital. SIERRA outbreak, mainly
LEONE
LIBERIA in the West
“As we African countries
of Guinea, Liberia
work to help the DEMOCRATIC and Sierra Leone,
REPUBLIC
communities affected OF CONGO began in March 2014 and
is the worst so far. By
by this virus, we must not
December, there were
let our fear outweigh our more than 17,000
compassion” people infected and
Dr Tom Frieden, Director of US Centers more than 6000 deaths
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded.

74 | February•2015
TELL ME MORE: Symptoms appear anywhere from 2-21 days after
exposure, but most commonly show up in 8-10 days. Unlike, say, chickenpox,
a person with Ebola cannot spread the disease before their symptoms appear.
The virus passes from one person to another only by direct contact with blood
and bodily fluids, which may enter the body through mucous membranes or
breaks in the skin. It is not spread through the air. People caring for the sick or
handling the bodies of people infected with Ebola are particularly exposed.
At first, Ebola seems much like the flu, causing headaches, pains and fever.
Vomiting and diarrhoea and sometimes a rash follows. More than two-thirds of
sufferers will then experience a severe decline as the virus
causes them to haemorrhage; they may pass blood
in urine or vomit, or from the eyes or mouth. Death
is usually caused by organ
failure and septic shock
following the drastic loss
of blood pressure when
blood vessels leak fluid.

6070:
Deaths in the first nine months
of the current outbreak
IS THERE ANY
Source: WHO, December 3, 2014
GOOD NEWS?
Yes. Ebola is not nearly
as contagious as you might Ebola is a filovirus, with a
fear. Each person with Ebola threadlike structure. Its spiky
passes it to 1.5 to 2 others. In surface helps viral particles
comparison, measles is far attach to cells and proceed to
more easily transmittable (an enter them and replicate
average of 18 contagions),

US$1.3m:
but does not have the same
high mortality rate. Also,
hospital healthcare measures
such as fluid management
and blood transfusions can Cost of two Ebola patients at Nebraska
greatly increase survival Medical Center, US. A 70-bed purpose-
rates. Finally, several potential built Ebola unit in Bong, Liberia, costs
vaccines are now in active $1m/month to run and an average
development. Liberian centre spends $1200/patient.
Sources: Washington Post; Forbes.com; Samaritan’s Purse

February•2015 | 75
Sir Tim Berners-Lee,
59, invented the web
26  years ago

SIR
WORLD
WIDE
WEB
76 | February
01•2015 •2015
THE RD INTERVIEW

Mohan Sivanand speaks to the gallant knight who


made it possible for anyone to share information with
anyone else, anywhere
OVER LONG YEARS, it took innumer- transmitted by light bet ween the
able people to develop the internet, two, so there was no actual [wired]
which for decades was used only by connection, and I could try out my
professional boffins and highly skilled terminal.”
geeks – not you and I. But the world
wide web (W W W), created for the BY 1980, BERNERS-LEE was a 25-year-
internet in 1989-90 by one man, Tim old computer consultant posted at
Berners-Lee, changed everything. the giant European organisation for
Growing up in England, Tim and nuclear research known as CERN,
his two schoolmates Nicholas Barton where he went on to develop software
and Chris Butler – who also became to archive and link his own notes and
scientists – spent time in the play- documents, calling it “Enquire”. He
ground just talking about science was also confronted with a battalion
or making electrical gadgets. While of CERN physicists and their docu-
he was studying physics at Oxford, ments. Berners-Lee expanded on
Tim built his own computer termi- Enquire for a solution, using random
nal with a broken-down television links to easily access all information
set for the screen and a discarded stored in CERN’s computers. His next
adding machine for the keyboard. step, in 1989, was to link information
Using an early microprocessor chip on computers across the world by cre-
for his terminal to work, he took it ating a virtual mesh. It was the killer
into the college physics laboratory to app the internet badly needed.
test it out. So why didn’t he call it The Mesh?
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

“The lab technician,” Berners-Lee It sounded much like “mess”. He even


recalls, “was so suspicious of it, he considered TIM, short for The Infor-
didn’t want to connect my electronics mation Mine. But TIM seemed too
to his computer in case his com- self-important for the soft- spoken,
puter blew up. So I built an optical unassuming Tim. It was finally chris-
isolating device, where the signal is tened the world wide web. In 1990, he

February•2015 | 77
SIR WORLD WIDE WEB

came up with the first “WorldWide- When you put that first website online,
Web” browser and the first ever web- how many people did you imagine
site (info.cern.ch/hypertext/ WWW/ would use the internet one day?
TheProject.html, which is still out Oh, there was no time for science
there amid some 985 million others). fiction. I just spent a lot of time trying
The WWW took off despite the to make sure the system didn’t break.
sceptics, partly because its inventor I wanted to get people involved.
never sought any patent rights or I’d written a web browser editor,
royalty, in order to which ran on the NeXT
ensure its free expan- machine, a black mag-
sion – something he’s nesium-alloy machine
still striving to achieve “Everybody made by Steve Jobs,
through the World Wide involved has a which was very cool
Web Foundation he
launched in 2009. The
responsibility to but not many people
had them. So I needed
foundation’s website make sure that to persuade people to
(www.webfoundation. the web really write them for other
org) has also become a computers. I had to
forum for human rights, does serve the persuade people to
online privacy issues needs of put information on the
and for the openness web, so I had to go to
and neutrality of the humanity” conferences, I had to
internet. write documentation,
teach people about how to use it, and
CONSIDERED TECH ROYALT Y, Sir write software.
Tim Berners-Lee, knighted by the
Queen in 2004, answered Reader’s When you see Facebook or Wikipedia
Digest’s questions about the present, today, what do you think?
past and future of his cyber creation. To a certain extent, the original [idea]
I had for the web was that it would
What made you create the web? be a very read-write medium [like
I needed it. The internet had been Facebook or Wikipedia]. Imagine
there for 20 years, so computers were you are in a working group design-
connected to each other. Many docu- ing something, whether it’s a bridge
ments on disks were going round and or writing a book, or an article, that
round between computers, which you could share all your ideas in
were connected to the internet, but
it was impossible to get at them. I put * Text stored in a computer system that
these things together. contains links to other texts, documents, etc.

78 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

a web of hyper text*,


which is read-write. So
whenever you think, Oh,
this connects that, you
can make a link. The
original browser I wrote
allowed you to edit. I
thought that it was very
important that every-
body could edit. But for
many years before the
Wikis were invented,
most browsers did not
allow you to edit.

But why? The old NeXT computer used by Berners-Lee at CERN


I think that was partly
because the initial Isn’t that quite a lot?
growth of the web was fuelled by the It’s quite a lot, but it raises the question,
adaptation of lots of existing docu- “What about the other two-thirds?” It
mentation systems. They were read- means that the gap between the rich
only, so most people imagined that’s and the poor has now been increased
what the web should be. to include the gap between the infor-
mation-rich and the information-poor.
Now that people use the web every-
where, what do you have to say? How exactly will your foundation’s
I think everybody who’s been involved work help people?
in it has a large responsibility to make I’ve been pushing for people and
sure that the web really does serve governments to put data on the web.
the needs of humanity. The web is When the Indian government, for
becoming crucial to humanity. But example, puts its data on the web,
it being an artificial system, we can people in India and outside can see
PHOTO: Z UMA PRESS/ALAM Y

change it. If we think it can do better, the state of India. They can see where
we can design it better. So I think we the buses run, they can see what’s
have a strong responsibility to make the state of the roads, the state of its
sure that the web is optimal, as good education, and so on.
as it can be in terms of its design. Having data out there is important
Though just one-third of humanity for disaster preparedness. When the
actually uses the web. [2010] Haiti earthquake struck, there

February•2015 | 79
SIR WORLD WIDE WEB

weren’t really any good online maps rural village, who only speaks the
about [the capital] Port-au-Prince, local dialect, needs to use the web
but then something very interest- to try to understand why their crops
ing happened. A satellite company have got a disease, for example? So
released high-resolution photographs we have a duty to make sure that we
and amateur mapmakers all over the include people who at the moment
world went to www.openstreetmap.org, speak languages that are not very
which is like Wikipedia for maps, where well represented or may not be repre-
anybody can go and edit a map. They sented on the web. We want to make
just flocked to the map of Haiti and it’s sure that the web actually extends to
amazing how they filled in the roads, people in rural communities, even
they filled in the earthquake damage, to urban poor communities. At the
they marked blocked roads, hospitals moment, because the web is very
and refugee camps, even a floating hos- much text-based, the foundation is
pital which had been brought in. looking at what we can do to involve
So, within a very short time there people who are illiterate and also
was a very reliable map and there help with their literacy.
was a testimonial from some member
of the Red Cross saying that when he The web you created has changed
downloaded it on to his GPS device, it the world. But it’s also brought
was invaluable for getting around the about access to pornography, hack-
damaged city. ing, internet scams and whatnot.
Does that trouble you?
S o y o u r f o u n d ati o n w a n t s t o If you look at the web what you see
promote this kind of work? is humanity connected. When you
While not specifically into crisis look at humanity, you see good and
management, the foundation wants bad, you see all kinds. You see ups
to get involved in trying to acceler- and dow ns, you see wonder ful
ate people’s getting on the web. For things and boring things. Humanity
example, most of the web started is very rich and very diverse. But for
off in English. Now there is a lot of me today, when it comes to human-
Chinese but what if somebody in a ity, I’m an optimist.

WORDPLAY
I saw a guy spill Scrabble letters on the road, I asked him; “What’s
the word on the street?”
REDDIT.COM

80 | February•2015
Quotable Quotes
HOW’S ANYONE EVER GOING TO COME UP WITH A BOOK
OR A PAINTING OR A SYMPHONY OR A SCULPTURE THAT
CAN COMPETE WITH A GREAT CITY? YOU CAN’T. WHEN
YOU LOOK AROUND, EVERY STREET, EVERY BOULEVARD
IS ITS OWN SPECIAL ART FORM.
G i l P e n d e r, a n o s t a l g i c s c r e e n w r i t e r p l a y e d b y OW E N W I L S O N
i n M i d n i g h t i n P a r i s (2 011)

HOW DO YOU SPELL CHILDREN IN A FAMILY ARE


LIKE FLOWERS IN A
“LOVE”? - PIGLET BOUQUET: THERE’S ALWAYS
YOU DON’T SPELL IT... ONE DETERMINED TO FACE IN
AN OPPOSITE DIRECTION
YOU FEEL IT. - POOH FROM THE WAY THE
A . A . M I LN E
ARRANGER DESIRES.
I N WI N N I E -TH E - P O O H M A R C E L E N E COX , h u m o u r i s t

I never knew anybody ... who found life simple. I think a


life or a time looks simple when you leave out the details.
URSULA K . LE GUIN, a uth o r

The most AND IN THE


wasted of all END, THE LOVE
days is one YOU TAKE IS
without EQUAL TO THE
laughter. LOVE YOU MAKE.
E .E . CUMMINGS, poet J O H N LE N N O N A N D PAU L M CC A R TN E Y
P HOTOS: GETTY IM AGES

I believe that the best measure of whether


a nation is going to be successful is whether they
are tapping the talents of their women. BA R AC K O BA M A

February•2015 | 81
DRAMA IN REAL LIFE

LOST ON THE

82 | February•2015
Hiker Alex Sverdlov
trusted his experience
and fitness to keep
him safe, until a surprise
snowstorm stranded
him on Mauna Loa

VOLCANO
B Y A L B ER T S A M AHA
F R OM T HE V I L L A G E V O I C E
WITH A D D I T I O N S BY
TH E AU T H O R

February•2015 | 83
LOST ON THE VOLCANO

AT 7AM ALEX SVERDLOV PARKED his rented white Ford Focus


near the start of the trail on Mauna Loa. The January sky was
bright blue, the sun mellow, and he felt grateful to be on the
island of Hawaii instead of home in New York, where the
forecast predicted snow. He’d landed in Hawaii the previous
day and immediately signed up with the National Park
Service for a permit to hike and stay overnight in the remote
Mauna Loa area, starting today, Sunday, through to Wednesday.

The hike to the summit of Mauna Loa, in, at 3000m. The incline increased. At
or “Long Mountain”, is about 40km. the top of the slope, the trail opened
The biggest active volcano on Earth, it onto a reddish plain. At the base of a
rises gradually from the sea to 4169m, hill sat a wooden cabin with an orange
but its flat terrain and gentle slopes roof, Red Hill Cabin, where he spent
can deceive. The climate at the top is the night.
fickle and the weather is unpredicta-
ble, but the forecast for the area called M O N D A Y. Sverd lov h it t he t ra i l
for mostly sunny days. around sunrise. The terrain changed
Sverdlov strapped on his backpack, often at this altitude: wav y, light
which held his sleeping bag, food, brown dried lava, brick-red stone
extra-thick down jacket and other fields, charcoal-grey volcanic rock.

(P REVIOUS PAGE) PHOTO-ILLUSTRATI ON BY JOHN RITTER;


supplies, and walked towards the trail, It was a landscape shaped by count-
pausing at a tall warning sign: “Freez- less eruptions, the last of which had
ing conditions may occur at any time occurred in 1984. The trail curved
of year… Beware of deep earthcracks, around depressions and cracks in the
(THIS PAGE) COURTESY OF ALEX SVERDLOV
loose rocks, and thin lava crusts”. ground more than 3m deep. Every
But the 36-year-old hiker knew 100m or so, rocks stacked into hip-
what to expect – he had climbed the high towers delineated the trail.
volcano alone a year ago. The three- The trail veered away from the
and-a-half-day hike was peaceful summit to Mauna Loa Summit cabin,
and not steep, but it was challenging where Sverdlov stopped for the night.
enough that he decided to summit the Tomorrow he’d hike the 8km to the
volcano again. Strenuous adventures summit, then trek directly down to
appealed to him. Red Hill by nightfall. He’d be back on
The ground was rocky and dusty at Wednesday in time to meet friends
the start of the trail, 2000m above sea for dinner. His hiking trip was going
level. By early afternoon he was 11km perfectly.

84 | February•2015
The rocky trail to
READER’S DIGEST
the summit –
before the snows

TUESDAY. Clouds had rolled in over- wind blasted the flakes into his face,
night, dropping thick fog and, un- partially blinding him.
expectedly, a light speckle of snow. Before long the snow was up to his
Sverdlov wasn’t concerned; the walk shins. Should have brought snowshoes,
to the summit had taken him only Sverdlov chided himself. Just then, his
three hours last time. He pulled on hiking boot punched through a thin
sweatpants, a face mask that covered crust of dried lava beneath the snow
his mouth and nose, a skullcap, a wool and he tumbled onto his back. His
undershirt, a fleece layer and a wind- right knee hurt, but he felt lucky: the
breaker. fall should have broken his leg.
Halfway to the summit, he stopped He marched on. Snow continued to
at Jaggar’s Cave to stow his heavy fall and the wind gusts blew stronger.
backpack. For this final stretch, he’d But his legs were strong and his con-
need only a water bottle, two granola fidence stronger. What an adventure,
bars, and his camera. he thought. He stopped to take a drink
It started to drizzle, then 800m from only to find the water in his bottle had
the summit, the rain turned to snow. frozen. Despite his thirst, he knew
Sverdlov considered turning back, but better than to eat snow, which would
the snow was light and the scene was lower his body temperature and has-
PHOTO: I MAGEBROKER/ALAMY

beautiful. ten dehydration.


When he reached the summit at At dusk, Sverdlov passed a wooden
about noon, a white curtain of fog sign that showed he’d descended 3km
shrouded the vista. He’d planned from the summit: another 800m to
to stay an hour, but he knew the Jaggar’s Cave, then 16km to Red Hill
snow would slow him down. A min- Cabin. But the world had turned grey.
ute or two after he began his de- Snow and sky were indistinguishable.
scent, it started snowing harder. The His phone was useless, so he turned

February•2015 | 85
LOST ON THE VOLCANO

it off. The trail markers were hard to He was no longer on the mountain.
make out as his surroundings faded He was floating. It felt good. He dazed
into blackness. in and out of hallucinations. Then he
Where was the trail marker? Sverdlov snapped back to reality.
looked around, but it was nearly pitch “I’m still here, damn it!” he shouted.
black. For the first time, it occurred to At some point he fell asleep.
him that he would not make it back to
the cave tonight. He was exhausted. JOHN BROWARD, Hawaii Volcanoes
The thought of rest consumed his National Park’s search-and-rescue co-
mind. ordinator, arrived at the Visitor Emer-
His watch said 9pm. He sat down, gency Operations Center near Mauna
hugging his legs and tucking one Loa’s southern base at about 8am.
fleece sleeve into the other to keep Tuesday. He picked up an advisory
his hands from freezing. He coughed from the National Weather Service.
violently and it hurt to swallow. A storm was on the way that would
In the thin air, less oxygen reached hit the summit with 30cm of snow,
his brain. This, combined with the temperatures to –6°C, and wind gusts
lack of water, made him dizzy, light- up to 80km/h. A check of the park
headed, his thoughts in a fog. With permits showed that Alex Sverdlov
his body no longer in motion, his core would be at or near the summit.
temperature began to drop. Broward had handled more than
Sverdlov had never been in this 150 searches in his career, which in-
much trouble on a hike, and he’d cluded parks in Oregon and Florida.
gone on scores of them. Growing up To date, Broward’s team had found
the only child in a single-parent fam- all but one hiker alive. Only once had
ily in New York, Sverdlov often went a hiker gone missing in the snow,
hiking in the Catskill Mountains. though, and he was found safe.
After graduating from Brooklyn Col- When lost hikers are caught in a
lege, he got a job there as a computer- snowstorm, Broward thought, some
science professor and consulted on curl up on the ground, some keep
the side. In his free time he went on marching. Some hide in caves. The
a dozen long hikes a year. Hawaii mountain encompassed more than
was an annual destination. He’d con- 5000km²; if Sverdlov hunkered down in
quered Mauna Kea in 2012, Mauna one of Mauna Loa’s many caves, they
Loa the following January. And now might not find him for years. The body
here he was back for a rematch, and of the last person to die on Mauna Loa,
the mountain was killing him. a park employee about 20 years back,
As the hours passed, he felt was never found.
enveloped by warmth and comfort. Broward filed an affidavit with

86 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

Sverdlov’s phone-service provider. Late in the morning, he spotted three


Even when a phone has no bars, it trail markers clustered in the distance.
emits a faint signal, and the company His backpack!
can triangulate its location. Of course, He pulled the backpack out of the
the phone must be switched on. snow, set up the stove and scooped
A search-and-rescue mission could snow into the pot. He hadn’t had a
begin only after a hiker was overdue. drink of water in nearly 24 hours, but
Sverdlov wouldn’t be officially missing the snow boiled down to less than a
until his scheduled return on Wednes- cup of water and cost much of his fuel.
day night. For now he was on his own. After eating a trail-mix bar, he tugged
out a down jacket and thick mittens,
WEDNESDAY. When Sverdlov awoke, and strapped on the headlamp.
he was relieved to have survived Now equipped for the cold and
darkness, Sverdlov started for Red Hill
Cabin shortly before noon. The snow
was deeper than yesterday, almost
His pace slowed. knee high in some stretches. His pace
Cracks in the ground slowed. Cracks in the ground tripped
tripped him, him, snowdrifts swallowed him to the
snowdrifts shoulders. He focused his mind and
swallowed him to the energy on each step, methodical and
shoulders cautious.
When night fell, the headlamp was
not powerful enough to illuminate
trail markers in the distance, but at
the night. It had been cold but not least he could see more than shad-
much below freezing. The storm had ows. Then he saw three or four tents
calmed enough for him to see a desert at the edge of the headlamp’s beam.
of white powder at least 30cm deep, And people! Then he blinked and they
even deeper in the drifts. disappeared and only snow lay ahead.
His confidence returned. The trail The night went on the same way.
couldn’t be far. He was sure he would To his eyes, he was walking through a
reach Red Hill today. If he made it white-walled tunnel. When the halluci-
early enough, he’d keep going and nations came, he felt as if his mind had
reach the bottom of the mountain in split in two, one looking through the
time to meet his friends for dinner. tunnel, one drifting into the abstract.
Sverdlov came to a tower of stones Sometime past 11pm, he approached
cloaked in snow. Guessing the trail’s another trail marker. Coming closer,
path, he soon passed another tower. he noticed that it was not a tower of

February•2015 | 87
LOST ON THE VOLCANO

stones but a rock protruding from A F T E R T H E snow stopped falling


the ground. How many snow-covered on Wednesday, John Broward sent
rocks had he mistaken for markers? a ranger up the Mauna Loa trail.
As he retraced his footprints, he Another left a note on Sverdlov’s car.
coughed. He’d been coughing at a If Sverdlov didn’t turn up by night-
steady rate for two days now. The thin fall, the search would begin. Broward
air and nonstop marching had worn gathered his half-dozen staff in the
on his lungs. He hadn’t had water dispatch centre and laid out the plan
since morning, and his mouth was for the next day: several rangers would
dry and his throat aching. His face fan out from the start of the trail and
burned. He was very tired. work up the mountain; Broward
would search from a helicopter.

THURSDAY. Unlike on Tuesday and


He had made it this Wednesday, Sverdlov didn’t awaken
far without a serious with the confidence that he’d reach
injury, but it was Red Hill Cabin on this day. His legs
only a matter of time were sore, his head hurting, his whole
before the elements body exhausted.
defeated him He found the trail shortly after sun-
rise. He trudged forward more slowly
than before. The wind had calmed.
By now he was almost used to fall-
Around midnight, unable to find ing through snowdrifts. Sometimes
the trail, he unrolled his sleeping bag, the snow was hard and supported his
slid inside, and zipped it. He turned weight, sometimes it held for a second
on his phone to check the signal. before giving way.
Nothing. He turned it off. He felt the powder and crumbled
Two days of struggle, and Sverdlov it through his fingers. Scooping up
was barely 5km from the summit of a handful, he patted it into a melon-
Mauna Loa. At least 14km to Red Hill. size ball and gently placed it on the
Perhaps this situation was beyond ground. He sculpted two more balls,
him, he thought. He had trusted that plunked them on top, and took a few
his hiking experience would get him moments to stare at his snowman
through, but he still was far from the before continuing on.
cabin. He had made it this far with-
out a serious injury, but it was only I T WA S T H E T H R I L L of the res-
a matter of time before the elements cue that had drawn Broward to the
defeated him. job when he was at Florida State

88 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

University in the early 1980s: the idea for a lost hiker to wander into. Broward
of spending days enjoying nature’s saw nothing but unbroken snow.
beauty and protecting people from its “He’s right there!” the pilot said
cruelty – jumping out of helicopters, suddenly.
fighting fires, rappelling down ravines. “Where? I don’t see him.”
But Broward felt no thrill on Thurs- “Right in front of us. Twelve o’clock.”
day morning, just nerves. The heli- Catching sight of Sverdlov, Broward
copter lifted off at 8.30. He looked out felt the tension leave his body for the
the window to the right. The pilot, a first time in two days.
private contractor who’d flown more
than 70 rescue missions with him in S V E R D L O V heard a faint buzzing
Hawaii, looked out the left side and noise before he spotted a grey speck
ahead. The helicopter hovered above moving across the sky. A helicopter!
the trail. An experienced hiker might He waved his arms, as if the people
locate the snow-covered path, Broward in the helicopter might not see him.
thought. The helicopter soared past Then he realised: they’re here for me!
the volcano’s 3350m marker. The chopper landed and a man in a
It moved slowly enough for the two green jacket and white helmet hopped
men to scan for clues: footprints, an out. They met halfway.
object, or movement. To Broward, the “Are you search and rescue?” Alex
snow was now a blessing. The unin- asked.
terrupted white landscape that made “Yes.”
it easy for a hiker to get lost also made Sverdlov hugged him. Aboard the
a lost hiker easier to spot. The farther helicopter, sitting in the back row, he
up the mountain they flew, the more noticed the red letters on the back of
barren and uniformly white it got. his rescuer’s helmet: “BROWARD”. It
Past 3700m. Still nothing. Not a glove was then Sverdlov realised that he had
or a hat or a hiking pole. This was a just experienced the happiest moment
massive mountain – plenty of space of his life.
THE VILLAGE VOICE (MARCH 11, 2014), © 2014 BY VOICE MEDIA GROUP, INC., BLOGS.VILLAGEVOICE.COM

FOOTBALL PUNDITRY AT ITS MOST INCISIVE


“[Everton are] a team of men”.
JAMIE REDKNAPP, SKY SPORTS

“I think one of these teams could win this.”


COMMENTATOR ANDY TOWNSEND, BEFORE THE UEFA SUPER CUP FOOTBALL FINAL

February•2015 | 89
WHO MADE THAT?

illo
approx
124 mm wide
x
84 mm high
+3 mm bleed

Nigerian Scam
Money transfer fraud has been around longer than email
BY DA N I E L E N G B E R F R O M T H E N E W YO R K T I ME S

THE NIGERIAN SCAM may seem like fraudsters aimed their grifts at locals.
a scourge of the internet age, but it One scheme was the “wash-wash”, a
predates email. Before we started get- literal money-laundering in which the
ting all-caps proposals in our inboxes, mark is shown a suitcase of supposed
con men in West Africa plied their bills blackened with Vaseline and
trade by fax and paper letter. Some iodine and promised a cut if he pays
of the first scams to make their way for an expensive cleaning agent.
ILLUSTRATI ON: MATT C HAS E

to Western Europe arrived by telex in Advance-fee or 419 scams, known


1989 and 1990, when British business- by the section of the Nigerian crimi-
men started hearing that a wayward nal code that outlaws fraud, took on
tanker of Nigerian crude could have a global character when oil prices
its cargo claimed for bargain prices crashed along with the national econ-
– in exchange, of course, for some omy. A newly installed military ruler,
cash upfront. Before then, Nigerian Ibrahim Babangida, cut salaries for

90 | February•2015
civil servants and the military and The advance-fee scam itself – whereby
ended currency price supports. The payments are extracted from a sucker
English-speaking, entrepreneurial who hopes to gain a treasure – seems
class found itself with little buying to have originated elsewhere. Accord-
power and in need of foreign money. ing to historian Robert Whitaker at the
“Some guys started perpetrating fraud,” University of Texas, an earlier version of
says Andrew Apter, an Africa historian the con, known as the Spanish Swindle
at the University of California in Los or the Spanish Prisoner trick, plagued
Angeles. “They used the language, Britain during the 19th century.
insignias and letterhead of financial These days, a Nigerian address may
offices to lure people in.” even aid some scammers. In 2012, a
Apter has traced this sort of misuse researcher with Microsoft tried to
of official iconography as far back as a model the con artist’s behaviour and
century. When Nigeria was established concluded that a clear tip-off – an
as a British colony in 1914, its first gov- email address in Nigeria, for example
ernor cracked down on scammers in – could, by scaring off the web-savvy or
fake uniforms who claimed to be col- more suspicious sorts, enable them to
lecting taxes on behalf of the empire. focus on the most gullible victims.
THE NEW YORK TIMES (JANUARY 3, 2014) © 2014 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES CO., NEW YORK

SCAMMING THE SCAMMERS


In 2003, Mike Berry was a computer engineer in Manchester when he started
replying to and “baiting” Nigerian scammers over email for fun. His website,
www.419eater.com, is a forum and archives funny “scambaiting” stories.

RD: It sounds like a success, either a long at the end of the scam-
full-time job. time keeping the guy bait, when he realised
MB: It’s not really that busy, or a trophy like what had happened,
tricky. A lot of a funny picture. he offered to pay me
scammers will twig RD: It sounds as if US$12,000 a month for
straightaway. You may you’re even better at ten passports. You’ve
only get ten per cent this than they are. got to think of what
who will stick with you. MB: I do remember I this guy must have
RD: Your success rate sent a scammer a fake been earning to offer
is ten per cent? passport, and it was me that kind of
MB: That’s for a decent such a good fake that money!

February•2015 | 91
AGAINST THE ODDS

Girl
The

Wouldn’t
Who

Break
Jessica’s bones might be fragile
but her spirit was fighting fit – and
PHOTOGRA PHED BY ERIN PATRICE O’BRIEN

her body responded

BY ANITA BARTH O LO M EW

92 | February 2015
November•2014 | 93
J
THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T BREAK

ESSICA BERNSTEIN’S PARENTS LIFTED HER from her


wheelchair and hustled her into her mother’s deep blue
Honda SUV for the trip to the hospital. Distraught, the
elfin 15-year-old begged them: “Don’t take me. Please, I
don’t want to go.”
She’d had more surgeries than birthdays; spent more
time racked with pain, recovering from fractures and
operations, than she’d spent just being a kid. She
couldn’t do it any more. Yet, even as she pleaded to be left alone, she
knew she had no choice.
A few months earlier, in the winter of arms, her grandfather built a scooter
2009, Dr Jenny Frances, her surgeon at to place under her belly so she could
the Children’s Center at Manhattan’s zip around the house.
Hospital for Joint Diseases in New In second grade, Jessica was fitted
York, had given her a reprieve. One with leg braces that extended from
of the supporting metal rods inside her hips to her ankles. Thrilled to be
Jessica’s leg bones had shifted position. walking on her own for the first time in
But when she begged off getting it cor- her young life, she wore them 24 hours
rected, Dr Frances agreed to wait until a day. But the following year, as she
Jessica felt ready. walked through a doorway at school,
But now sharp pains in Jessica’s right Jessica’s foot caught on the threshold.
leg told her something was very wrong. That slight misstep – she didn’t fall –
Treatment could wait no longer. was enough to break both her legs.
Jessica had been born with osteo- Three surgeries and 18 months later,
genesis imperfecta (OI), a rare genetic something had changed in the spunky
disorder also known as brittle bone little girl. Until then, Jessica had always
disease. So fragile was her skeleton been determined to push herself
that both her legs had broken and beyond expectations. But now, she sat
healed again before she was even in her wheelchair, reluctant to do the
born. Countless more fractures fol- gruelling post-surgery physical ther-
lowed, almost always to her legs. apy that could help her get onto her
As a tot, Jessica wanted to do every- crutches and back to school. She loved
thing her older sister Marisa did. When that her friends came often to hang
other kids were toddling, she pulled out with her, but she envied them, too.
herself along on her bottom. Fear- They were free to play outside and do
ing the pressure would fracture her all the things that everyone else could

94 | February 2015
READER’S DIGEST

do. She wanted to be just a regular kid, BACK IN HOSPITAL, the 15-year old
but even more than that, she wanted to imagined her efforts had been for noth-
be safe from more pain. ing. From experience, she knew post-
By the time she returned to school surgical recovery would be long – six
in the fourth grade, she cautiously months or more – and painful.
got back to using two crutches, but But she had a pleasant surprise. This
decided not to even try to get around current operation would be somewhat
on just one, as she’d done in the past. simpler than earlier ones, Frances
She didn’t want to fall again. As a little explained, as they reviewed her X-rays.
girl, she’d braved the frequent blood Because the bone had broken at the top
tests her condition required. Now she only, they could use a smaller incision
cried and begged the nurses to leave to pull out the old rod and insert a new

THRILLED AT HOW MUCH BETTER SHE FELT


AFTER SURGERY, SHE STARTED TO GET
BACK SOME OF HER OLD DETERMINATION

her be. No more surgeries. No more one, instead of making the usual long
blood tests. No more – period. She’d incision from the top to the bottom of
had enough of it all for a lifetime. the leg.
By the time she was 14, she’d reached A few days after the operation,
what doctors expected to be close to Jessica was surprised to find herself
her full height: just 1.07m. But with- able to sit up in a wheelchair. By the
out much physical activity, her weight end of her nine-day hospital stay, she
had ballooned. She wanted to wear the tentatively hefted herself onto her
sparkly tops and flowery dresses that crutches – an even bigger undertaking
all her friends wore. It was especially – being careful to keep the wounded
important to look her best now that leg from touching the floor. Thrilled at
boys were suddenly on her radar. So, how much better she felt than she had
she challenged herself to lose weight anticipated, she started getting back
and started to exercise more. some of her old determination.
The excess weight dropped away Early stage physical therapy usually
and she felt better about herself than involved very little movement. “But
she had in years. Then came the pain in I realised I could do a lot more,” says
her right leg. Something was seriously Jessica. Experimenting with new exer-
wrong. cises, relying on her own sense of how

February 2015 | 95
THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T BREAK

far her body could go, “I kind of just friends as they began their first year of
made it up on my own.” high school together.
Using her walker for support, she But Jessica had a dream.
practised lifting her body up with her Her family lived just four houses
arms, and swinging her legs back and from an idyllic beach on the Rocka-
forth. Within six weeks, she could bend way peninsula’s Atlantic shore. Jessica
her knee. That, too, was the soonest longed to stroll the boardwalk like her
ever. To ensure she didn’t lose muscle neighbours but had never been nim-
in the leg, with Frances’s blessing she ble enough on her crutches, or “sticks”,
wrapped a small weight around her an- as she called them, to navigate the
kle and did leg lifts. She taught herself wooden slats. She decided it was time

THE CLACK OF HER “STICKS” ON THE


BOARDWALK WAS THE SOUND OF
INDEPENDENCE. LIFE SUDDENLY FELT RICHER

yoga poses. “It helped. I wouldn’t get so to try. Trekking to the end of the street,
stiff.” She spun on an indoor exercise she took the ramp up to the wooden
bike, each day getting stronger and walkway, delighting in the scent of the
more confident. Frances was stunned, sea and the call of the gulls. The clack
but pleased, that a teenager with OI of her “sticks” on the boardwalk was the
could become an “exercise fanatic”. sound of independence.
Her 15-year-old body cooperated, up Life suddenly felt richer, more com-
to a point. But soon it was clear that her plete. The boardwalk stroll became
calf wasn’t healing properly. Doctors part of her daily routine.
would have to go back in to do another Then in late October 2012, Hurricane
repair. And Jessica would start from the Sandy struck and the massive waves it
beginning again. caused ripped the boardwalk from its
But now, she knew something she moorings. With the boardwalk gone,
hadn’t before. Her bones might be frag- Jessica couldn’t stroll along the beach.
ile but her body was capable of more. Her crutches would be useless on the
And her spirit was fighting fit as well. soft sand. The thought saddened her
It was getting easier every time to until she realised this setback didn’t
get back to where she was before the have to stop her. She had an idea: what
operation. if I could walk without sticks?
She’d healed well enough to join her With renewed resolve, hanging onto

96 | February 2015
READER’S DIGEST

When Jessica first One February afternoon, when the


walked on the sun was low in the sky and the winds
sand, it was an calm, Jessica dressed in her workout
amazing feeling clothes – pink sneakers, grey sweat-
of freedom
shirt and leggings – and left the house,
single crutch under her arm. Neigh-
bours ambled along the beach, some
walking their dogs.
She headed in their direction, step-
ping for the first time beyond where
the pavement ended. Her stick, more
impediment than help, sank in the
sand. Stopping a moment, she lifted
the crutch until it rested across her
arms. She took another step. The sand
didn’t feel the way she’d imagined, but
it was wonderful: soft and yielding, yet
demanding. She adjusted her stance to
find her balance, then coaxed herself
along, watching all the other people
who took this simple act for granted.
To walk freely – they had no idea how
furniture for balance, Jessica practised amazing it all was.
getting around the house with a single “I felt so proud,” she says. “It was like
crutch. It was less difficult than she’d I’d given birth to the sand.”
imagined. “So, then, I started to do it
quicker.” Soon, single stick under her Jessica recently began classes at a
arm, she was walking around the yard. nearby college. She loves to bake and
although it means long hours of standing
After a few weeks, she was able to walk – something she might not have dreamed
around the house with no crutch at she could do a few years before – she’s
all, holding onto anything that could decided to follow her heart and study
stabilise her. the culinary arts.

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February 2015 | 97
ENVIRONMENT

Vigorous woody vines


– called lianas – can
smother mature trees
and cause their death

98 | February•2015
Tangle
Jungle
in the

Giant vines are beginning to


strangle Earth’s tropical forests.
It’s a down-and-dirty war

BY WILLIAM LAURANC E
FR O M N E W S C I E N T I S T

November•2014 | 99
G
TA N G L E I N T H E J U N G L E

aze out over a tropical rainforest and the scene


looks idyllic – a kaleidoscope of trees festooned
with colourful vines, orchids, ferns and lichens.
Don’t be fooled. Myriad ecological battles are
being fought beneath this tranquil surface.
None is more embittered than that between trees and their
ancient enemies, the vines.

BIOLOGISTS like myself who study instead taking advantage of the trees’
these jungle ecosystems are now investments to scramble up to the top
seeing a shift in this war. Until a decade of the forest and produce great flushes
or so ago the two adversaries were of leaves that bask brazenly in the sun.
evenly matched, but vines now seem to Francis Putz, professor of biology
be on the march. If that continues, the at the University of Florida, high-
face of our forests – and of our planet lighted this fraught relationship in a
– could be changed irrevocably. We 1980 paper entitled “Lianas vs Trees”.
are left scrabbling to unearth the root Lianas, or woody vines, can grow to
cause. be hundreds of metres long, with
If the forest were a stems over half a metre
financial system, trees across. Trees pay a high
would be its old money. price for their presence.
Deeply rooted, they grow Trees bearing Lianas can strangle and
slowly, investing heav- lianas usually deform a tree’s branches,

PHOTOS: (PREVI OUS SPREAD) CORBIS ; GETTY IMAGES


ily over time in woody their dense foliage robs
trunks and branches
grow more trees of life-giving sun-
to support their leaves, slowly, light, and their roots
and providing homes reproduce less scarf up vital nutrients
for a zoo of other spe- and water. Trees bear-
cies. Vines, on the other and die sooner ing lianas usually grow
hand, would be the than those more slowly, reproduce
flashy junk-bond trad- less and die sooner than
ers. Representing up to without those without.
half of the plant species Once lianas reach the
in a typical rainforest and producing canopy, they often climb laterally, ef-
up to 40% of all leaves, they are down- fectively roping trees together so that,
and-dirty competitors. They invest when one falls, it can drag down others.
almost nothing in supportive tissue, This is why loggers hate them: if they

100 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

don’t cut every liana


linked to a tree before
felling it, another may
be yanked down on top
of them. “Loggers call
them ‘widow-makers’,”
says Putz.
There are obvious
re a s o n s w hy s o m e
vines are becom-
ing more prevalent.
Humans have intro-
duced invasive spe-
cies, such as the rubber
vine to Northern Aus-
tralia and kudzu to
the south-eastern US,
that smother native
forests, grasslands and
waterways. Most vines
are light-loving, and
increase rapidly in
forests that have been
fragmented by agri-
culture or selectively
logged. Small, regener-
ating trees on the edge
of disturbed forests
provide ideal trellises Vines climb, scramble, reach and
for climbing quickly into the canopy. drape: linking different forest layers
A decade ago, my colleagues and I
revealed much higher liana abun- Amazonian forests. Trees in these
dances in fragmented than in intact areas are beleaguered, dying two to
three times as fast as normal.
William Laurance is a distinguished
research professor and Australian Laureate
at James Cook University in Cairns,
Dynamic Drivers
Australia. He holds the Prince Bernhard But vines are also proliferating in
Chair in International Nature Conservation undisturbed forests. Oliver Phillips of
at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. the University of Leeds in the UK and

February•2015 | 101
TA N G L E I N T H E J U N G L E

his colleagues revealed the affected areas, yet


in 2002 that lianas had Several studies there is little evidence
increased sharply at the for such an effect.
expense of trees at sites suggest that Instead, a more subtle
across western Amazo- vines, with driver seems to be at
nia. Something similar play: rapidly rising levels
has been seen in nearly
higher photo- of atmospheric carbon
a dozen other intact synthetic rates, dioxide. CO2 fuels photo-
forests in Central and are poised to synthesis, and the more
South America. “It was there is, the faster plants
controversial at first,” take advantage grow. Faster growth
says Phillips, “but few of rising CO2 creates more compe-
doubt it now.” tition among plants
What’s happening? for light, space and
A likely cause is that tropical forests nutrients, which in turn drives higher
around the globe are becoming more rates of tree death and regeneration.
dynamic, with trees dying and regen- Rising CO 2 could also favour vines
erating more rapidly – conditions that directly. Several studies over the past
strongly favour vines. It is possible few years suggest that vines, with high
that global warming is intensifying photosynthetic rates, an abundance
windstorms that increase tree fall in of energy-producing leaves and little
costly supportive tissue, are primed to
Vines attach take advantage of rising CO2.
themselves to
their supports Diversity destroyers
using loops, fine This isn’t to imply we know everything
aerial roots or about the onslaught of vines. So far the
adhesive pads trend has been spotted in undisturbed
forests only in the Americas. Long-
term studies are needed elsewhere
to ensure this isn’t a coincidence of
geography. I wonder, too, about the
fate of remote forests I have studied
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

in the Congo basin. Vines there are


naturally abundant because of distur-
bance by forest elephants. Yet elephant
populations are collapsing from over-
hunting. Might vine numbers in these
forests actually begin to decline?

102 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

Most evidence, however, suggests many animals in the rainforest canopy.


that Earth is heading for a viney A few species have mutualisms with
future. This worries ecologists like aggressive ants that attack encroaching
Stefan Schnitzer at the University of vines, but most are not so lucky.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Vines can The biggest worry is that proliferat-
change forests in a lot of ways,” he ing vines could reduce carbon storage.
says. “They hit big, slow-growing Forests lock up billions of tonnes of
trees far harder than smaller, faster- carbon in woody tissue, and when
growing species, meaning they can vines kill or suppress trees some of
probably change the entire compo- that carbon is released into the atmos-
sition of the forest.” phere. Studies in Panama and Amazo-
It’s not just trees that are at risk. nia suggest rampaging vines replace
Ainhoa Magrach, a postdoctoral col- just a small fraction of the carbon they
league of mine at James Cook Uni- cause trees to release. That could
versity in Cairns, Australia, has found induce a positive feedback, with still
that plants that live on trees, such as more greenhouse gases and a warmer
ferns, tend to be excluded in regions future for us all. If that goes too far, we
where vines are dense. These ferns are really could be heading for a planet of
little islands of biodiversity, sustaining the vines.
NEW SCIENTIST (OCTOBER 2, 2013) © 2013 REED BUSINESS INFORMATION, UK

FAST FACTS ABOUT VINES


l Most vine species have evolved to fill an evolutionary niche. They climb by
using other plants for support, which allows them to reach the forest canopy
with comparative ease. In a stable ecosystem, they help animals move from tree
to tree, keeping them safe from predators. Lianas are simply woody vines.
l Even native vines can kill trees through strangulation, excessive weight,
damaging the tree’s bark and out-competing the tree for resources.
l Introduced vines can have devastating effects on forests. Kudzu is native to
Eastern Asia. It is an edible legume and farmers planted it to increase soil fertility
and stop erosion. Unfortunately, it is now a serious problem in the US, Vanuatu,
Fiji and Northern Australia. Rubber vine is native to Madagascar, but became
popular as an ornamental plant and is now naturalised from Indonesia to Latin
America. It is a widespread weed in Northern Australia.
l The Amazon and other major old-growth tropical forests are vital carbon
storage systems that help mitigate the effects of climate change, despite current
concentrations of atmospheric carbon having reached about 400 parts per
million. With the rapid increase in lianas, the tropical terrestrial carbon sink may
shut down much sooner than current scientific models predict.

February•2015 | 103
Neighbours said
the Catts were
“regular, everyday
people”. What
happened?
TRUETRUE CRIME
CRIME

SUBSCRIBER
BONUS

The
Family
That Robbed
Banks
Widower Scott Catt had a
secret life as a bank robber.
But when he wanted
accomplices, he turned to
the two people he trusted
most in the world: his kids
BY S KIP H O LLANDSWOR TH
FR O M T E X AS MO NT H L Y

PHOTOS: JOHNNY MILLER November•2014 | 105


J
T H E F A M I LY T H A T R O B B E D B A N K S

UST AFTER SUNRISE ON AUGUST 9, 2012, in the


Houston suburb of Katy, Scott Catt, a 50-year-old
structural engineer, was awakened by his alarm clock
in the apartment he shared with his 20-year-old son,
Hayden, and his 18-year-old daughter, Abby.
Scott took a shower, dried off, got dressed, and
walked into the living room. Abby and Hayden were
waiting for him on the couch.
“OK, kids,” Scott said. “You ready?”

Abby and Hayden nodded. The drove to the alley behind it. Minutes
family headed out the door and later, her dad’s voice crackled through

PHOTOS: (PREVI OUS SPREAD) COURTESY S HERI FF ’S OF F ICE, FORT BEND COU NTY, TE XAS
walked towards Abby’s 1999 green her walkie-talkie.
Volkswagen Jetta. Scott was big, 1.92m “We’re going in,” he said.

R
and 108kg, and he squeezed himself
into the passenger seat. Hayden, OBBING A BANK is the most
1.87m and 91kg, crammed into the traditional of crimes. It’s a
backseat. simple act with an immediate
Abby started the car, and five min- payoff. All sorts of criminals have tried
utes later, she pulled into a shopping it. “If you’re in law enforcement long
centre and parked about 45m from a enough, you’ll eventually come across
Comerica Bank. bank robbers of every shape and size,”
Scott grabbed a black garbage bag said Troy Nehls, sheriff of Fort Bend
from the floorboard and took out two County, which includes part of the
pairs of white painter’s coveralls, two Katy area. “But I’m not sure there has
painter’s masks, two pairs of latex ever been a bank-robbing family.”
gloves, and two Airsoft pistols (which The Catts were as unlikely a set of
look like real guns but shoot plastic robbers as one could imagine. They
pellets). He and Hayden put on their had no pressing financial issues and
disguises in the Jetta. Scott clipped no obvious personal problems. Scott,
a walkie-talkie to his coveralls and a widower, worked for an energy
handed another to Abby. company. Abby was a sales assistant
It was 9.30. They sat for the next 30 at Victoria’s Secret, and Hayden was
minutes, until Scott said it was time to hoping to be a hotel concierge.
make their move. Abby dropped them Around their apartment com-
off a few stores from the bank and plex, the Catts were regarded as

106 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

“regular, everyday people”, one of their a breath and blew it out. “I did it for
neighbours said. Yet when it came to the family,” he said. “I swear to you, I
robbing banks, said Nehls, “they were would rob banks only for my family.”

T
very bold, very daring, and very risky.
They’re lucky they didn’t get caught HE STORY BEGINS in
up in a shoot-out.” McMinnville, Oregon, south-
The Catts pulled off two robber- west of Portland, where Scott
ies: the first being the Comerica heist was born and raised. His father was
and the second being the robbery of a a loan officer at First Federal Savings
credit union, two months later. They and Loan. At McMinnville High
were getting ready for a third when School, Scott played football and fell
they were arrested in November 2012. in love with Beth Worral, a star of
Reporters tried to find out why a the swim team. They married after
father and his two children would graduation. After Beth had Hayden
turn to bank robbery, and Abby, the Catts
but the Catts weren’t built a house in
talking. Then, late last Dundee – “our dream
year, the three agreed
“I didn’t feel hous e,” S cott told
to plea deals, and they like a criminal. me. But in 1995, Beth
consented to let me I didn’t load my was diagnosed with
interview them. breast cancer, and she
I was allowed to pistol. Who was died two years later.
speak to only one Catt being hurt?” Hayden was five, and
at a time. Abby was the Abby was two.
first to be escorted to said Scott Catt At that point, Scott
PROP STYLI ST: SARAH CAVE FOR EH MANAGEM ENT

the visiting room. She told me, “life sort of


sat on a chair, ducked came to a halt.” He
her head, and said after a silence, began drinking heavily. He had a brief
“Sometimes I feel so embarrassed second marriage. He went to rehab.
about what’s happened that I just want He fell behind on house payments,
to disappear.” and the family moved in with Scott’s
Hayden came next. “Every night I mother. He went through a couple of
stare at the ceiling, and I ask myself, jobs. His car was repossessed.
‘What were we thinking?’ ” he said. Between 2000 and 2002, he began
Then Scott walked in. He gave me thinking about how to make extra
a firm handshake, sat down, and money. He remembered one day his
pushed his fingertips together. “All I father had come home and said First
can tell you is that I thought it would Federal had been robbed. When Scott
help us as a family,” he said. He took asked why no-one had stopped the

February•2015 | 107
T H E F A M I LY T H A T R O B B E D B A N K S

thief, his father replied that the tellers Oregon.) “I didn’t feel like a criminal,”
were trained to comply with robbers he told me. “I didn’t load my pistol. I
– because the money was insured, the knew I wasn’t going to shoot anybody.
bank would get it back. And I kept telling myself that whatever
One morning, after dropping off the money I got was insured, so who was
kids at school, Scott drove to a branch really being hurt?”

M
of his dad’s old bank. He strode in
wearing a baseball cap, black track- E A N W H I L E , S C O T T was
suit pants, a white painter’s mask, and a devoted single father. He
sunglasses. He was carrying a trash cooked dinner for his kids
bag and an antique pistol – unloaded. almost every night and took them on
He went up to a window, demanded vacations. When they got interested
the teller’s money, and ordered her in competitive swimming, Scott drove
not to add bait bills or dye packs. She them to training every day.
dumped around $2500 into his bag. Abby and Hayden never once sus-
Scott walked back to his truck, drove pected that their father had a secret
around for a while to see if he was life. “He’d be up and gone to work
being followed, and went home. by 4.30 or 5 in the morning,” Hayden
A couple of days later, the local said. “He didn’t make great money,
paper published a but we always ap-
g ra i n y b l a c k- a n d - preciated how hard
white frame from a There was no he worked to keep us
video showing the afloat.”
robber. “My mother accomplice “Dad was a great
said the man looked Scott could trust motivator,” Abby told
a little like me, and I me. “At the begin-
just laughed,” Scott
to stay quiet – ning of each [swim]
said. “And that was it.” except his season, he pushed
Scott did his next children me to work hard and
h e i s t a y e a r l at e r set goals. He told me
after falling behind I could be somebody.
on bills, and he got The night before every
$1500 from another small bank. Then swim meet, he would cook us pork
he landed a full-time job with an en- chops, noodles, applesauce, and a
gineering company, earning $25 an protein shake. I loved it.”
hour. Still, once a year he’d pull off One time, Hayden qualified for the
a robbery, hauling in between $5000 state meet, and there was talk about a
and $10,000. (Authorities believe college scholarship. But by the age of
that he robbed at least five banks in 17, he said, he was drinking too much

108 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

behind financially.
By 2010, it was time
for another robbery.
Scott knew that
if he had accom-
plices, he could get
cash from several
tellers’ drawers and
perhaps even get to
the bank’s vault. But
there was no-one he
could trust to stay
quiet – except his
children. Maybe he
should talk to them
about joining him.
He rationalised
the idea. As long as
they did what he
said, they wouldn’t
get caught. And
he would use the
money to start a
small business they
could run. “They
were floundering,”
he told me. “I could
see the despair
in Hayden, and I
thought he could
and quit swimming. Abby lost inter- use – I don’t know – some inspiration,
est in the sport when she was 15. She some excitement. Same with Abby. All
started running with what she called I can tell you is that I thought doing
“the drinking, partying crowd”, and it would give us all a little boost in
she ended up in an alternative school. our lives – that it would help us as a
After graduation, Hayden found work family.”
as a hotel bellman and as a weekend He approached his son. “We were
tour guide, and he was still drinking sitting at the kitchen table,” Hayden
too much. And Scott was again falling recalled. “He said he had something

February•2015 | 109
T H E F A M I LY T H A T R O B B E D B A N K S

important to tell me. He said he had a 2012, he’d found work in Houston
second job as a part-time bank robber. and relocated there. Abby moved in
The way he looked at me, I knew he with her grandmother in Oregon, and
wasn’t kidding.” Hayden went to Hawaii and got a job
Scott said he would be the “muscle”, at a hotel. It seemed like a new era.
leading the way in and scaring the em- Scott’s job paid well, and he hoped
ployees and customers, and Hayden he’d quit thinking about banks. But
would be the “bag man”, ordering there were just so many in Texas.

B
tellers to put money into his bag.
They’d wear disguises, go to the bank Y M A RC H, S C O T T had per-
early in the morning before there were suaded Abby to move to Texas.
many customers, and be out within She landed a job at Victoria’s
three minutes. Scott told his son they Secret. (She proudly announced on
could easily grab $40,000 or more. her Facebook page that she was a
On the morning of the robbery, Victoria’s Secret “Pink Girl”.) A few
Hayden was scared. Scott did the months later, Hayden joined them,
robbery by himself, getting a few and it wasn’t long before he began talk-
thousand dollars, and came home ing to his father about a bank robbery.
before lunch. “He did it so quickly He wanted money for college.
and so easily that it planted a seed,” Scott picked out a nearby Comerica.
Hayden told me. “I thought, My dad He began walking past it in the morn-
really does know what he’s doing.” ings with the family’s yellow Labrador,
Then Scott was laid off. By January Bella, to see when it got busy, and he
had his son go in
to learn the layout
of the lobby. But
they needed a geta-
way driver – and
there was only one
person who came
to mind.
Hayden spoke to
Abby. “I need to tell
you something,” he
said. “Dad’s a bank
robber; I’m going
to become one, too,
and we want you to
join us.”

110 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

The next day, Scott talked to Abby, out. Scott took a ride on his motorcy-
promising her that all she’d have to cle, Hayden went shopping, and Abby
do was drop them off, wait for them got a manicure. That night Abby was
to return, and drive home at a normal still nervous – “I kept looking at the
speed. She agreed to participate. “This door, waiting for the police to walk in,”
was something I felt like I had to do, she said – but Hayden was overjoyed.
to protect them, to make sure they got “I felt exhilaration, the most intense
out of the bank and didn’t get shot high I’ve ever experienced,” he said. “It
or something,” she told me. “I didn’t changed my life. I’ll be truthful about
want to let Dad down.” that.”
In the apartment, Hayden and Scott Scott paid off his bills. He bought
practised bursting into a bank and a second motorcycle and a $17,000
yelling at everyone to get their hands Tahoe for Hayden and a $12,600 Ford
u p. Th e y s c h e d- Focus for Abby (the
uled the robbery for Jetta had engine trou-
August 9, when Abby ble). He and the kids
had a day off from
At home, the split the remainder,
Victoria’s Secret. The family stared but by late Septem-
night before, Scott wide-eyed at the ber, all the money was
had the kids steal li- spent.
money, close to

S
cence plates from a
car at another com- $70,000 – a COTT AND
plex and put them Hayden de-
over the Jetta’s plates. stunning haul cided to rob
The robbery went the First Commu -
off as planned. Out- nity Credit Union.
side, Abby gave them time updates Because there was a construction crew
over the walkie-talkie. At the three- working nearby, Scott sent Hayden
minute mark, Scott and Hayden or- and Abby to Home Depot to buy
dered the manager to unlock the back two orange safety vests for disguises.
door, and they jumped into the Jetta. Hayden also went to a costume shop
Abby drove to another neighbour- to buy a fake moustache.
hood, and Hayden and Scott threw On October 1, Abby took the day
their disguises, pistols, stolen plates, off from work and drove Hayden and
and gloves into a dumpster. In their Scott to the credit union. The men
apartment, they stared wide-eyed at entered at about 1.50pm. Their size
the money, close to $70,000 – a stun- and guns terrified everyone, and they
ning haul from a little branch bank. were in and out so fast that no-one got
They heard sirens and decided to go a good look at them. As Abby drove

February•2015 | 111
T H E F A M I LY T H A T R O B B E D B A N K S

them home, police cars came scream- from where they’d been folded. He
ing from the opposite direction. Not found that Home Depot sold that style
one officer gave her a second look. All of vest and got a subpoena to review
they heard over the radio was that two purchases at area Home Depots. Just
tall men had committed a robbery. before the robbery, two vests had been
The Catts got $29,953, a decent sum. purchased in Katy with a debit card be-
A few days later, Abby told her father longing to Scott Catt. Security footage
she couldn’t handle the stress. She showed a young man and a blonde
wanted to take her cut and move into teenage girl buying them. After doing a
her own place. Scott promised her an check on Scott, Martin learned he had
apartment but begged two children, Hayden
her to remain their and Abby, whose
wheelman. He had photos matched the
decided to quit his job “My dad should customers.
and make a living as a have protected Ma r t i n d e d u c e d
full-time bank robber, that Scott and Hayden
and Hayden would
me instead of were the robbers, and
join him. the other way Abby was the one
“ Th e g re e d ha d around,” said whom tellers heard
s n o w b a l l e d ,” r e - counting time over
called Hayden. “I had Abby Catt a walkie-talkie. His
become consumed case was bolstered by
with money: spend- video of Abby apply-
ing it, getting more. It was all I thought ing for an account at the credit union
about, like an addiction.” a few days before. (Scott had sent her
On November 8, Abby drove them to scope the layout.) He had the Catts
to another bank, but there was too arrested and placed in separate inter-
much foot traffic, so they called it rogation rooms.
off. The next morning, as Scott and Martin decided to first talk to Scott.
Hayden prepared to try again, the He assumed that he would declare his
police came knocking. innocence, claiming a case of mis-

W
taken identity. But Scott confessed all,
HILE STUDYING VIDEO even talking about his Oregon robber-
of the credit union rob- ies, which Martin knew nothing about.
bery, veteran detective Jeff The detective was dumbfounded, and
Martin had noticed that the safety vests he was equally dumbfounded when
worn by the robbers weren’t tattered or Hayden and Abby confessed.
dirty at all. He could even see creases A l thoug h th e g et away dr i ver
TEXAS MONTHLY (JUNE 2014), © 2014 BY TEXAS MONTHLY, TEXASMONTHLY.COM.

112 | February•2015
READER’S DIGEST

in a bank robbery is liable under me, instead of the other way around,
Texas law for the same punishment having me protect him,” Abby said. A
as the bank robbers, the police few minutes later, she mentioned that
and prosecutors felt sympathy for she had run into her father a day or so
Abby and gave her a mild five-year earlier in the infirmary. “He told me
sentence. (She’ll be eligible for parole he loved me, to be strong, and to be
in seven months.) Hayden received patient. And then he said he was so
a ten-year sentence (his parole will sorry. I broke down and started crying.
come up in about four years), but I mean, like I’ve said, he is my dad.”
Scott was hit with a 24-year sentence. Abby plans to become a nurse

W
when she’s released. Hayden wants
HEN I TALKED to Scott, to get a degree in advertising,
he’d lost 31kg since his architecture, or engineering – “that’s
arrest, which he attrib- right, engineering, like my dad,” he
uted mostly to “a lot of remorse” said, smiling.
for what he’d done to his children. Scott told me his one hope is that
“When I look back on what I did, his kids will visit him after they’re
what led to this place, I would have free. He’ll be 62 when he’s eligible for
been better off – we all would have parole. “If I get out, I want to have a
been better off – if I had gone on wel- homecoming dinner that night, me
fare and been a stay-at-home dad.” and the kids,” he said. “We’ll go to a
Abby and Hayden didn’t seem to good restaurant, tell stories about the
know what to think of their father. old days.” He paused. “About the days
“He should have been protecting when we were a family.”

Puzzles See page 122


Pick a Card, Any Card Blockbuster Number Cruncher
60 There are multiple solutions.

J A K Q
One straightforward solution is
35 25 (25 x (9 + 7 + 5)) + 3 - 1 = 527
20 15 10
7 13 2 8

K Q J A 1 S T A R V E Dicing with Words


2 E D I T O R
3 I G N O R E
Q K A J 4
5
S
M
I
A
L
T
V
U
E
R
R
E
6 O R I G I N Hidden Meaning
7 L I A B L E A. Foreign language

A J Q K 8
9
O
G
R
E
D
N
E
I
A
A
L
L
B. Look out below
C. Abandon ship
10 Y E A R L Y

February•2015 | 113
Smart Animals

Some animals are better at sensing certain things than humans;


others are just plain observant

Kelly the Hero Kelly always walks in front, but


ILLUSTRATION: BEN SANDERS

LORNA BOYD that day she suddenly stopped and


The daily boundary walk to check whined with a worried look.
the fence of our property had Kelly, As I started to ask her, “What’s
our five-year-old kelpie-heeler cross, wrong?” a massive tree branch
and I on a narrow track, with our snapped. It crashed and plummeted
neighbour’s fence on one side, and heavily to the ground onto the track
one very steep 10m drop to the creek just in front of us.
on the other side. Then, further along another

114 | February•2015
boundary walk she again stopped used at our holiday house, and
suddenly, this time staring slightly dropped it on the lawn next to her.
ahead into the dry grass. After While Sue readily admits that
inspecting what the hold-up was, Elke was highly intelligent, she was
I could see a not-so- still in a state of
friendly brown snake. disbelief as she related
My dog is truly my the story of the
lifesaver and best
If it wasn’t for flowerpots to me.
friend. Bonnie, I’d hate
to think what Wired For Smell
Potted Wisdom BARBARA HOFF
GRAEME PERRYMAN could have While visiting my
My daughter Jenny happened to daughter Dianna,
owned a beautiful I noticed Bonnie,
German shepherd them both. She’s her two-year-old
called Elke. As my wife one smart Doberman, pacing
Sue and I have a around the lounge room
holiday house on two
Doberman back and forth in front
hectares of land, we of a power point. Then,
often took Elke along for short all of a sudden, she started to bark
breaks so she could exercise in the incessantly at it.
extra space and enjoy the change of “You had better check that power
environment. She also liked to be point,” I said to my daughter.
with us and particularly liked to walk “Something is not right.” Dianna
us around the firebreaks each day. switched off all the power and undid
A couple of years ago, Sue was the power point and found that the
weeding the back lawn at the holiday wiring was smouldering.
house and placing the weeds in an We immediately called an
old plastic flowerpot. As is usually electrician to not only fix the power
the case, the dog was following her point, but also to check the wiring
around the lawn and watching her in the rest of the house. If it wasn’t
carry out her weeding. for Bonnie, I’d hate to think what
A couple of weeks later, Elke was could have happened to them both.
back home in her city setting when She’s one smart Doberman.
my wife noticed some weeds in the
lawn. So she got out her weeding
fork and commenced work. The dog You could earn cash by telling us about
the antics of unique pets or wildlife. Turn
disappeared and returned with an to page 6 for details on how to contribute
old flowerpot similar to the one Sue to the magazine.

February•2015 | 115
MOVIE DIGEST

JUPITER ASCENDING Sci-Fi


Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis, pictured above) was born under a night sky, with signs
predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown and living in a
universe where human beings are placed at the bottom of the evolutionary
ladder, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the reality of a job cleaning
toilets and a life of endless bad luck. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum, above),
a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down
does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along.
From the creator of The Matrix trilogy, Jupiter Ascending promises to be one of
the biggest sci-fi movies of the year.

BIG EYES Biographical Drama


Imagine your life’s work received international praise, but no-one Forgotten artist:
knew you were behind it. That’s what happened to Margaret Keane Amy Adams as
(Amy Adams), whose artwork became phenomenally successful in Margaret Keane
the 1950s. In a time when women artists were
rarely celebrated, Keane’s husband Walter
(Christoph Waltz) added his signature to the
bottom, then received international fame for the
works. The film tells the story of their divorce
during which Margaret accused Walter of
stealing her paintings. Directed by Tim Burton,
the film is both visually and mentally stimulating.

116 | February•2015
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC
MARIGOLD HOTEL Comedy Drama Evelyn (Dench)
and Douglas
It’s time to join in more adventures at the (Nighy) dance
infamous Indian retirement resort. A sequel to the night away
the acclaimed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
(2012), the film follows ambitious hotel owner-
manager Sonny Kapoor’s (Dev Patel)
expansionist dream to open The Second Best
Marigold Hotel for the “Elderly and Beautiful”.
Joining the existing residents Muriel (Maggie
Smith), Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill
Nighy) are newcomers Guy (Richard Gere)
and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). A wedding and
more of the laughs that made you fall in love
with the first instalment makes Second Best
Exotic Marigold Hotel a great feel-good film.

Did you know?


In the The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Evelyn (Judi Dench) claims Muriel
(Maggie Smith) is only 19 days older than her. In real life, Maggie Smith
(28/12/34) is in fact exactly 19 days younger than Judi Dench (9/12/34).

WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY


Comedy
The McLeod family are on an epic road trip to
the Scottish Highlands for sick grandfather
Gordy’s (Billy Connolly) 75th birthday. Recently
separated, Doug McLeod (David Tennant) and
Abi (Rosamund Pike) decide to keep up a
charade of married bliss to avoid upsetting
Gordy. Naturally, with three demanding and
outspoken young children in tow, plans go
awry. From the writers of the hit BBC-TV
comedy Outnumbered, this has the same sharp
British wit, crafted through partially improvised
dialogue, inspired casting and an off-beat plot.

Q: What is the name of the Austrian family


featured in the musical The Sound of Music?
MOVIES

LAND OF THE
BEARS DVD
Filmed over 12 months in the
rugged and remote terrain
of Russia’s Kamchatka
Peninsula – famed home to
brown bears – this 3D film Avatar), it is one of the first nature
follows the stories of a number of bears, documentaries shot using 3D cameras.
each at a unique stage in their lives. Entertainingly educational, it follows the
Using technology supplied by co- cycle of the bears’ year as they struggle
producer James Cameron (Titanic, to survive and thrive.

Expensive Movie Threads A: The


von Trapp
Film costumes can be as memorable as the actors who wear them. family.
We found some iconic outfits that have proven to be almost as
lucrative as the films they appeared in:
Cleopatra (1963): Cleopatra Wig
Made from real human hair, the wig worn by Elizabeth Taylor is valued at
US$16,000.
My Fair Lady (1964): Ascot Dress and Hat
Designed by Cecil Beaton, the outfit worn by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady
was originally bought for a cool US$100,000. This ensemble has really retained
bang for its buck – it was sold in 2011 for a cool US$3.7 million.
The Wizard of Oz (1939): Dorothy’s Dress and Ruby Slippers
Judy Garland’s blue-and-white dress sold at US$480,000 in 2012.
But the ruby-red slippers are real gems: of the five known
surviving pairs, one sold at US$660,000 in 2000, another at
US$510,000 in 2011 and a third is valued at US$2 million.
PHOTO: (S HOES) GETTY IM AGES

The Seven Year Itch (1955): White Subway Dress


The white dress from the subway scene in The
Seven Year Itch is currently worth US$5.6
million and sets the record for the highest
priced Marilyn outfit. The earlier record
for a Monroe dress was US$1.26 million in
1999 for the dress she wore in May 1962,
when she sang “Happy Birthday” to
President John F. Kennedy.

118 | February•2015
BOOK DIGEST

More than six decades and more


than ten million vehicles after the first
model rolled off a production line, Susan
Redman celebrates MY DREAM KOMBI
(HarperCollins): “… Whether hippie love bus,
surfer’s dream machine or family wagon for
happy campers, the iconic Kombi is a vehicle
that has always enjoyed universal appeal. From
Britain to Brazil, Australia to America, Turkey to Thailand, this classic German
auto embodies a freewheeling spirit and retro romanticism. If the Volkswagen
Beetle was the car for the people, the Volkswagen Kombi was the van for the
people. Kombi’s not short for Kombinationskraftwagen (German for
‘combined-use vehicle’) for nothing!”

February•2015 | 119
BOOKS

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, only way I could cope


the batsman with the most runs in test with the weight at
cricket (and in one-dayers) than any that age was to hold
other player, says in PLAYING IT MY [it] right at the
WAY (Hodder and Stoughton): bottom of the handle. Some coaches
“… People have often commented on suggested changing my grip, and I did
my grip, which is very low down on the experiment, but it never felt right. I had
handle. It all goes back to when I got used to feeling the end of the
started playing cricket when I was 11 handle pressing against the inside of
with my brother Ajit, who is ten years my forearm and if I gripped the  bat
older. As I didn’t have a bat of my own, further up I didn’t have that, and
I had to use Ajit’s full-size bat and the batting just didn’t feel natural.”

In EXTREME FOOD (Bantam Press), survivalist and TV


personality Bear Grylls describes what you can eat when
your life absolutely depends on it:
“… Termites have a bad name in built-up areas because of their
tendency to consume and destroy wooden structures. But for
the survivor, termites are awesome. ... Pound for pound they’re
more nutritious than vegetables and have
a higher protein and fat content than
beef or fish. ... Because termites have
such a high fat content, you can put them in a dry
pan and fry them in their own fat. If you have
winged termites, you’ll want to remove the wings
before adding them to the pan, then fry them
gently over your fire until they’re brown and crispy.”

120 | February•2015
Music industry maverick
Media scientist Dr Karl Amanda Palmer in
Kruszelnicki in HOUSE OF THE ART OF ASKING (Piatkus)
KARLS (Pan writes about her early career as a
Macmillan): living statue street performer:
“… Cursing is “… What I hadn’t anticipated was
universal. the sudden, powerful encounters
Profanities with people – especially lonely
exist in every people who looked like they hadn’t
single connected with anyone in ages.
language ever I was amazed by the intimate
studied. Every moments of prolonged eye contact
language, happening on the busy city sidewalk
dialect or as traffic whizzed by, as sirens
patois had blared, as street vendors hawked
‘forbidden’ or bad words. ... Swear their wares and activists thrust flyers
P HOTOS : GETTY IM AGES; THI NKSTOCK: EXTRACTS M AY BE EDI TED FOR SPACE AND CL ARITY

words do have power. Merely at every passerby, as bedraggled


hearing profanities will change the transients tried to sell the local
electrical conductance of your skin. homeless community newspaper to
Your pulse will quicken, the hairs on rushing commuters… where more
your arms will rise and your than a second or two of a direct
breathing will become shallow. But silent gaze between strangers is
languages evolve. So the power of usually verboten.
swear words can change over time. My eyes would say:
Nobody today would be bothered Thank you.
by the word ‘golly’. However, I see you.
originally, that word was a very And their eyes
obscene and profane contraction of would say:”
the phrase ‘God’s body’.
Sometimes it goes the other way.
Nobody
Neutral words can become ever sees
uncomfortable to use. For example, me.
the word ‘coffin’ originally meant ‘a Thank you.”
box’. But once it
became linked to
the concept of
death, people
stopped saying
‘let’s see if there’s
anything to eat in
the bread coffin’.
I think that’s a gosh
darn shame.”
BRAIN POWER
TEST YOUR MENTAL PROWESS

Puzzles
Challenge yourself by solving these puzzles and mind stretchers,
then check your answers on page 113

Pick a Card, Any Card

J Q Can you place the remaining


12 court cards (Jacks,
Queens, Kings and Aces) so
that every row, column or
main diagonal contains

Q exactly one card of every


denomination and suit? We
have popped in the first four
court cards to help you.

1
K 3
7
5
9
25
Number Cruncher
Blockbuster 60 Make a calculation that
Each block is equal equals 527 using some or
to the sum of the all of the numbers in the
two numbers circle and any of the four
beneath it. Find all standard mathematical
20 10
the missing operations: +,-,x and ÷.
numbers.
2
...................... = 527

122 | February•2015
PUZZLES
V
1
Hidden Meaning
T A
Identify the common
R G words or phrases above.
2 3

E D O E
V A I
4 5 6
LANNNNGUAGE
L S R U O N
B D A R
7 8 9 10 A
E A E O G L E Y

Dicing with Words


The dice blocks each have a six-letter word written
on them, but, unfortunately, you can only see three
sides. When you have solved the clues, the first
column will reveal a word or phrase.

CLUES
1. Go hungry 6. Source
2. Magazine boss 7. Inclined
3. Disregard
4. Valuable metal
8. Trying experience
9. Friendly
B LOOK
5. Grow up 10. Annually

1
2
3
4
5 BAND
6 SHIP
7
8 A

9
10

February•2015 | 123
BRAIN POWER

TEST YOUR GENERAL KNOWLEDGE

Trivia
1. What’s the only vowel not on the top 10. What
row of a standard keyboard? 1 point nationality was
2. Known to locals as Chomolungma the inventor of
or Sagarmatha, what is the English Lego? 1 point
name of this landmark? 1 point 11. This month
3. This year marks 40 years since the marks:
first Cricket World Cup. Which team l 30 years since the
has played in every cup and reached first broadcast of
the final three times but never won? what British soap?
1 point l 50 years since the
4. What country is the farthest north assassination of
that penguins live? 1 point which black Muslim
5. What four things did Dorothy and leader?
her friends want from the Wizard of l 85 years since the
Oz? 2 points discovery of what
6. Name the three alliterative island space object by Clyde Tombaugh?
nations in the Indian Ocean. 3 points 3 points
12. Frames, spares and turkeys are all
7. What colours are the two circles that
make up the logo of Mastercard? terms used in which competitive
2 points
recreation? 1 point
13. Bristlecone pines growing in the
8. Frontal, occipital, parietal and
temporal are all parts of US have been dated at 5064 years old.
what organ? 1 point Were they alive when Tutankhamun
COM P ILED BY GAIL MACC ALLUM

was born? 1 point


9. What country’s 14. What’s the third largest species of
silhouette is cat in the world, after tiger and lion?
this? 1 point 1 point

16-20 Gold medal 11-15 Silver medal 6-10 Bronze medal 0-5 Wooden spoon
10. Danish. 11. Eastenders; Malcolm X; Pluto. 12. Ten-pin bowling. 13. Yes (born 1341BC). 14. Jaguar.
a heart, courage and to go home. 6. Mauritius, Maldives, Madagascar. 7. Red and yellow. 8. Brain. 9. Mexico.
ANSWERS: 1. A. 2. Mount Everest. 3. England. 4. Ecuador (The Galapagos Islands, on the equator). 5. A brain,

124 | February•2015
BRAIN POWER
IT PAYS TO INCREASE YOUR

Word Power
A-List The letter A is so much more than the
alphabet’s leader: music note, blood type, Nathaniel
Hawthorne favourite, mark of excellence, and even
stardom vehicle for Mr. T. In its honour, a quiz
devoted to words whose only vowel is A. Answers
on the next page.

B: black olive. C: boat with two hulls.


11. balaclava n. – A: knit cap.
B: Greek pastry. C: Russian mandolin.
1. banal adj. – A: disallowed.
12. avatar n. – A: mythological
B: uptight. C: trite.
sibling. B: incarnation of a god.
2. annals n. – A: catacombs. C: computer language.
B: chronicles. C: long johns.
13. spartan adj. – A: desertlike.
3. arcana n. – A: mysterious or B: marked by simplicity and lack of
specialised knowledge. B: travel luxury. C: of classical theatre.
BY EM ILY COX & HENRY RATHVON; ILLUSTRATION S BY JILL CA LDER

journal. C: rainbow.
14. allay v. – A: refuse. B: take sides.
4. masala n. – A: Chilean wine. C: calm.
B: Indian spice blend. C: Italian
15. lambda n. – A: Greek letter.
antipasto.
B: Brazilian dance. C: college degree.
5. lama n. – A: an alpaca or vicuña.
B: heroic escape. C: priest or monk. THEY MADE THAT A WORD?!
6. bazaar n. – A: weird event. Speaking of all things “A”, Merriam-
B: marketplace. C: wailing siren. Webster recently added to its
7. paschal adj. – A: of computer Collegiate Dictionary the term aha
moment – “an instance of sudden
languages. B: in a Gothic style.
realisation” – made popular by
C: relating to Easter.
Oprah Winfrey. Other modern lingo
8. amalgam n. – A: mixture. added to the latest iteration: man
B: volcanic rock. C: back of the throat. cave (“a room designed according
9. plantar adj. – A: vegetative. to a man’s tastes”) and earworm (“a
B: paved with asphalt. C: of the sole of song that keeps repeating in one’s
mind” – especially annoying ones
the foot.
like “Gangnam Style”).
10. catamaran n. – A: Bengal tiger.

February•2015 | 125
WORD POWER

Answers
1. banal – [C] trite. “Whenever
the teacher says something too
banal, Dorothy can’t help but
roll her eyes.”
2. annals – [B] chronicles. “In
the annals of sports idiocy, that
was the most bungling sequence
of passes I’ve ever seen!”
3. arcana – [A] mysterious or
specialised knowledge. “I’d
rather not know all the deep Nelson now that he has won the
arcana of your arachnid research.” marina’s annual catamaran race.”
11. balaclava – [A] knit cap. “Hang
4. masala – [B] Indian spice blend.
“Easy on the masala – Sarah doesn’t your balaclava in the foyer and grab
have the stomach for spicy dishes.” some stew.”
12. avatar – [B] incarnation of a god.
5. lama – [C] priest or monk. “Yes,
even the Dalai Lama has a website, “In Hindu mythology, Rama is the
Facebook page, Twitter feed, and seventh avatar of the god Vishnu.”
YouTube channel.” (And yes, James Cameron, an avatar is
also a being representing and
6. bazaar – [B] marketplace. “During
controlled by a human.)
her hunt at the bazaar, Sally found a
13. spartan – [B] marked by
turn-of-the-century compass that
used to belong to her great- simplicity and lack of luxury. “We
grandfather.” didn’t expect such spartan conditions
in the honeymoon suite.”
7. paschal – [C] relating to Easter.
14. allay – [C] calm. “Yesterday’s
“Terri spent hours on her paschal
bonnet – it started as a flowerpot!” board meeting did more than allay our
fears – it gave us a sense of hope!”
8. amalgam – [A] mixture. “Our team
15. lambda – [A] Greek letter. “Invert
is a strong amalgam of raw youth and
seasoned leadership.” a V, and you’ve got a Greek lambda –
or Bob’s moustache.”
9. plantar – [C] of the sole of the foot.
“I treasure the plantar prints from VOCABULARY RATINGS
5 & below: An ambitious attempt
when Billy was a baby.” 6–10: Amazing achievement
10. catamaran – [C] boat with two 11–12: A Plus!
hulls. “Jack thinks he’s Admiral 13-15: Word Power wizard

126 | February•2015
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