Homeless Man Wants More Than Food on Thanksgiving, He Wants a Family – and Places an Ad

A deluge of love and compassion has reached a 54-year-old homeless man who had the courage to put into action the Christian tenet, “Ask, and it is given.”

Neil Shytles posted an ad on the Facebook pages of local television stations around his hometown of Virginia Beach asking for someone to invite him for Thanksgiving dinner.

I was very alone last Thanksgiving and really would not like to go throughout that this Thanksgiving… PLEASE, if you have room in your home and in your heart to share your Thanksgiving, I not only (would) be thankful, but would also consider myself blessed to spend this time with you.

Shytles has lived in the Norfolk, Virginia Union Mission shelter for a year. He pays a small amount of rent from his monthly social security check, according to WTKR-News Channel 3, who interviewed him on Tuesday about the ad.

Even before Channel 3 aired the full report Tuesday evening, he began receiving offers from viewers volunteering to adopt him for the day.


The very first call he got came from a young military family, The Maclemores from Newport News, 30 miles away. They offered to pick him up, and said that another military couple with children would also be coming, fulfilling his wish for a “family atmosphere” at the table.


“The girl is a sweetheart,” he said of Mrs. Maclemore, who called the mission and spoke with Neil Tuesday morning. “I’ve been so blessed. I love the people here at the Christian mission, but I just wanted a home to go to.”

Both the mission and the television station were flooded with calls following the story that aired later that day.

Invitations Flooded In

“I’d like to donate a turkey and corn and potatoes to whoever takes him in, wrote Tanner Doerr‎ on WTKR’s Facebook page.

Shay Shannon Blankenship‎ from Chesterfield, VA, wrote, “For the wonderful man that wants family for the holidays: I’m in Chesterfield, and I’m willing to pick him up on Wednesday and he can hang out for thanksgiving with my family for a day or two. And then I will return him to where he stays. How do I reach him?”

“I want to send him a Christmas package,” commented Joe Walls‎.

A television station in Ohio said they would send a care package, and had set up a fund for him that people were already donating to.

Neil is trying to take it all in stride, but told the Good News Network, “I cried all day yesterday. I’m a big guy, but then the reporters were reading all the letters to me that they’d gotten.”

“Sometimes you don’t see the hearts of people until something like this happens,” he said after a long pause. “People do have big hearts.”


In a sense Neil has become the new face of homelessness for the many thousands of people around the country who have seen his story. He received a lot of offers from Wisconsin. A man in Sioux Falls, South Dakota offered to fly in Neil for the holiday and a family in Arkansas who owns a trucking company even offered to have their truckers pick him up and bring him back again. But, Neil, who has not traveled outside of his state except to DC, said he was already committed to the Maclemores. “Maybe Christmas!” they responded.

Neil hopes he can get some of the other guys from the mission placed with a family. “I know they are responsible.”

“Last night, Paul, who works here but is also homeless, said, ‘Oh my gosh, that is such a good idea. I wish I would have thought of it.'”

Perhaps Neil’s story has planted seeds for the future, like when Kimberly Kelly posted at WTKR, “I’m starting a program called Home for the Holiday in the Charlottesville area to help others get adopted! I would love this program to spread.”

As often happens when stories of homeless people go nation, two of Neil’s relatives contacted him.

“My cousin saw it in south carolina, and they got kinda mad because I never told them my situation. they saw it and said, ‘Why didn’t you tell us about what was going on?’ It was really important to me that someone who is actually family, showed me they cared. They were really upset. They asked me if I needed anything.”

“I texted my best friend who lives in Detroit, telling him about the media reports. He said, ‘See, people do want to help. All you have to do is ask.'”

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Trans Fat Linked to Worse Memory


Trans Fat Linked to Worse Memory

CHICAGO — In yet another reason to avoid trans fats, researchers are reporting that high trans fat intake is associated with deficits in word memory among working-age men.

Researchers found that each gram of dietary trans fatty acids intake per day was associated with an estimated 0.76 fewer words recalled, or 11 fewer words with the highest intake vs none from a mean of 86 words.

Previous studies have already shown adverse effects associated with trans fat consumption, including higher rates of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and these same researchers have also linked trans fat consumption to aggressive behavior.

"Our findings also support an association between higher trans fat consumption and worse memory performance in young adults, that is, those under age 45 who are in key career-building years," said senior author Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego (UCSD).

Despite regulatory moves to limit trans fat intakes, the authors noted, these findings "remain relevant because US regulations do not extend worldwide, and presumed dTFA [dietary trans fatty acids] mechanisms have relevance to other exposures."

The results were presented here at the American Heart Association (AHA) 2014 Scientific Sessions by study lead author Alexis K. Bui, MS, also at UCSD.

Alexis Bui (left) and Dr Beatrice Golomb (right. Photo courtesy of Janis Ritchie

Trans Fats Bad, Chocolate Good

Dietary trans fats are found in such foods as packaged baked goods, some shortenings and margarines, and fast food.

Dietary industrial trans fatty acids have pro-oxidant and cell energy harms, the authors point out. Conversely, foods with antioxidant and cell energy benefits have been favorably linked to word memory in younger adults, before major age-induced variance, they write. For example, a recent report from this group showed that chocolate consumption was associated with better word memory in this same study population (Circulation. 2012;126:A16156).

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5 feng shui tips to make your home a haven of calm


By Lindsey Rothfeld

You have papers strewn across your living room floor, the cupboards aren't properly organized and you're in dire need of redecoration — basically, you're living a cluttered life. This is where feng shui comes in. An ancient art of balancing energies in your physical space to create inner harmony, the Chinese philosophical system may be the breathe of fresh air you've been hoping for

Mashable spoke with Dana Claudat, who writes about everyday feng shui on her blog The Tao of Dana, and asked her to spill some design and style tips for bringing feng shui to your home.

First, a little more about the art and science of feng shui: According to Claudat, space affects us in big ways, even though we may not realize it. “Feng shui principles explain how our lives are a mirror of our environment, and how

if you re-arrange your space, you change your life. if you re-arrange your space, you change your life.” Essentially, feng shui is the art of arranging your environment.


We're all too familiar with the horrible anxiety-provoking feeling that seeps in as we enter a messy home. And the moment we clean up that clutter, those ill feelings turn to clarity and peace. Feng shui creates this feeling by connecting us to nature. “Whereas thousands of years ago, that connection was easier to make, in our hyper-developed world we often need to make effort to connect to nature and bring plants, moving water, crystals and even trees into our homes to create that natural, calming balance,” Claudat says.

1. Add plants wherever you want to grow



Image: Dana Claudat

If growth is something you're craving in your life, think about greening your home by adding indoor trees or plants — avoid the cactus, though, as dangerous spikes are considered bad juju when grown inside. Try placing them in places where you spend (or would like to spend) productive, positive time. Let's say your goal is to cook healthier food more often: Put a plant in your kitchen. Or, if you' like to be more productive at work, plants on your desk or home office can bring positive, creative energy to your work environment. The "chi," or life-force of the plant, will energize the space.

2. Add some motion to a space that is stuck

A "stuck" space" usually reflects a "stuck" life, so whether you're struggling with writer's block or are generally in a slump,

moving things around the room can help liven the atmosphere moving things around the room can help liven the atmosphere. Feng shui has a magical number to help guide you through this process of getting unstuck: 27. Twenty-seven is a multiple of nine (a lucky number in traditional schools of feng shui), and when the single digits two and seven are added together, the result is nine as well. Just by moving 27 things around the room — whether it's a paper clip or a desk — you can bring energy to a room that was previously lacking it.


"I've totally reorganized the furniture in 'stuck energy' rooms to get them [to exude] excitement, while sometimes I only need to reorganize the junk drawer. Feel your way through this process, moving things around until you feel that you feel refreshed and re-inspired," Claudat suggests.

3. Highlight your personality, make your own art



Image: Dana Claudat

Just because feng shui is an ancient tradition does not mean there's no room for personalization. As Claudat points out, Tao, the ancient principle underlying feng shui, means "connection."

"The strongest way I've found to forge a connection between a person and the place they live is to display art that has that sense of connection. When people make their own art, you can imagine how that energy of connection is just off the charts."

So, hang beautiful pieces of artwork on your walls — and parents are encouraged to display children's art, too. But there are still some guidelines you should follow when decorating your home with art:

  • Welcoming, uplifting art should be hung in gathering spaces like a living room.

  • Try to keep "solitary" art out of the bedroom. Pictures of one person reinforce the idea of being alone, which is not great when you're seeking a relationship or you are currently in one that you're building with a partner.

To take the idea of connection even further, the more that you can personally connect to your space, the more your home will help you empower your life. Displaying your collections, your trophies, your favorite art, photos or even patterns and colors you love will help forge a strong bond between you and your environment.

4. Add gravity to your space


Image: Dana Claudat

In order to make a room look and feel magnificent, you must think about adding gravity and balance to the space. We often hear people describe personal clarity and balance as feeling "their own center of gravity." Think about your home as a living, breathing entity that wants to feel the same. A dining room with a naked table and some art on the walls feels very different from a dining room table with a big centerpiece on it, for example. The centerpiece creates visual focus that organizes the room in a new way, helping it to appear more settled.

Similarly, a glass coffee table can feel flimsy until you style it with some books and flowers to create more of a weighty presence toward the center of your space, organizing your living room.

5. Create a meditative space

We all need a bit of sanctuary in our lives, and in the art feng shui, this doesn't necessarily mean creating a religious space, but rather a safe haven in your home where you can slow down, restore clarity and release stress. Claudat often designs meditative spaces for busy offices and small studio apartments. "Whether it is a small fish bowl that you can admire and get lost in, a chair and window focused on a view that is spectacular and spacious, a gorgeous bathtub "bubble bath" set-up in your bathroom filled with essential oils and natural suds or a literal meditation space with pillows on the ground, these are vital spaces to recharge our own energetic batteries. We forget this, but we are electrical beings."



Image: Dana Claudat

There’s a lot to the practice of feng shui, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. It doesn't have to be “woo-woo or far-out-magic type stuff,” Claudat explains. “There is a lot of biology, psychology, sociology, color theory and a spectrum of studies across many disciplines that support many of these ancient principles.” The more your space can mirror your most open, energetic self, the more magnificent your home will appear, and the more you will gain from the synergy. "By keeping you energized, optimistic, confident, relaxed, focused and inspired, your home can literally help you to make your dreams come true."

And remember, chi enters through your front door, so make sure yours is well-lit, easily accessible and clean.

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The Surefire Way To Eat Healthier


The Surefire Way To Eat Healthier

Why cooking cuts calories

There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence to suggest that cooking at home is better for our health. It’s also well known that eating convenience food is associated with poorer nutrition, obesity, and other metabolic diseases. Food experts, ranging from NYU professor Marion Nestle to author Michael Pollan and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, have long argued that homemade meals belong at the center of a healthy diet.


Yet little research to date has focused on the relationship between how often people cook at home and the quality of their diets. A new study presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting and published in the journal Public Health Nutrition provides strong evidence to support the connection.

“If a person—or someone in their household—cooks dinner frequently, regardless of whether or not they are trying to lose weight, diet quality improves,” write authors Julia Wolfsonand Sara Bleich, researchers in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This is likely due to the relatively lower energy, fat, and sugar contents in foods cooked at home compared with convenience foods or foods consumed away from home,” they explain.

Wolfson and Bleich analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) to find out whether the link between healthier diets and frequency of home cooking can be documented scientifically.

As part of the NHANES data gathered between 2007 and 2010, approximately 9,500 adults 20 and older were asked about their cooking habits. Researchers found that households that reported cooking dinner at home most frequently (6 to 7 times a week) consumed “significantly fewer” calories and ate better than those who relied more heavily on restaurant meals and frozen foods.

The researchers found that 8 percent of adults lived in households in which someone cooked dinner no more than once a week; 44 percent cooked dinner 2 to 5 times a week; and 48 percent reported cooking dinner 6 to 7 times a week. Compared to the low-cooking category, those in the high-cooking category consumer significantly more fiber, fewer carbohydrates, and less sugar.

“From first-hand knowledge, I know how much fat and salt can be in restaurant food, whether it’s fine dining or fast food,” said Wolfson, who worked for 10 years as a chef in restaurants in New York and Los Angeles. “The food is formulated for flavor, so health is not at the top of a list of concern.”

The same is often true for processed and pre-packaged meals, as Michael Pollan noted in his recent book Cooked. “Corporations cook very differently from how people do…” and “tend to use much more sugar, fat, and salt than people cooking for people do,” he writes.

What the study doesn’t reveal, Wolfson explained during her APHA presentation, is what people mean by “cooking.” While the NHANES data includes questions about frozen meals, including pizza, it doesn’t ask about other prepared ingredients, including those now available in most major supermarkets.

The researchers also found no significant relationship between cooking frequency and body weight. As they note, “not all cooking is healthy.” Additional questions remain about what obstacles might be keeping some cooks from cooking with fresh, whole ingredients.

At the APHA meeting, Wolfson presented some follow-up research suggesting that when it comes to cooking with fresh fruit and vegetables, income is a significant piece of the puzzle. Their research to date shows that people of lower income are buying and eating less fresh produce regardless of how often they cook at home.

While these findings are not necessarily surprising, the data will be important in improving “access to high quality ingredients and circumstances that allow people to cook,” and to how cooking is used as a strategy in combating obesity, Wolfson said.

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Look up tonight for the Leonid Meteor Shower

AUSTIN -- The Leonid Meteor Shower is expected to peak from midnight to dawn on Tuesday morning.

According to NASA, a waning-crescent moon will provide dark enough skies to view the meteors, which were also visible early Monday morning.

During peak times, there are expected to be as many as 15 bright, colorful meteors per hour, and they travel at about 44 miles per second, some of the fastest meteors ever viewed, according to NASA.

So where do the meteors come from? They're actually leftover comet particles and bits from broken asteroids, according to NASA. The Earth passes through the leftover dust from comet trails every year, allowing the bits to collide with Earth's atmosphere and creating streaks in the sky.

How to watch:


  • Start viewing after midnight.
  • Find an area away from city or street lights.
  • Bring a sleeping bag and/or plenty of blankets (the Austin area is expected to freeze tonight). Hot cocoa probably won't hurt either!
  • Lie flat on your back with your feet facing east and gaze up at the sky.
  • After less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adjust, and you should start seeing the meteors.

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