Good News Monday #45: Smarty Pants, Athletes, and Cotton Candy

First, I must acknowledge the bad news: COVID-19 is officially the Number One cause of death in the United States.

I never thought we’d get here.

A vaccine is our cavalry, and it is on the way. But, it’s not here yet. So take cover and stay safe.

While we wait, here’s some really good news I found this week.

TIME announced a “Kid of the Year”

She’s a 15-year-old girl! Gitanjali Rao is a Colorado high school student and a scientist. So what did she do?

She created artificial intelligence and apps to tackle contaminated drinking water, cyberbullying, opioid addiction and other social problems. Holy Moly! She’s interested in a whole gamut of things.

Her interest in pure drinking water came from the very area where I grew up. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan!

Here’s what she told TIME:

I was like 10 when I told my parents that I wanted to research carbon nanotube sensor technology at the Denver Water quality research lab, and my mom was like “A what?”

Northwest Herald, 05Dec20

Gitanjali almost sounds like every teenager I know. Almost.

I was always someone who wanted to put a smile on someone’s face…my everyday goal, just to make someone happy. And it soon turned into, How can we bring positivity and community to the place we live? – Gitanjali Rao (TIME Kid of the Year)

What an inspiring person. Forget that she’s just 15 years old. She’s inspiring at any age. To read the full interview between Angelina Jolie and Gianjali Rao click here. I promise you will be flabergasted.

Masking while competing

More good news and inspiring, too.

DePaul and Creighton University take the recommendation to wear masks seriously. They don’t just wear masks on the bench. They wear them at practice and during the games.

The NCAA recommends masks on the bench and social distancing. Coaches Jim Flanery and Doug Bruno wanted to take a more protective approach. (Or maybe their eyebrows raised a bit when they tried to envision a basketball game with social distancing.) Doug followed the school’s medical staff. Jim left it up to his players; a majority of them wanted to wear the masks.

“The first week I complained every day, but now it’s normal and we wear them every day in practice,” said Deja Church, a senior guard for DePaul. “It’s kind of normal now. I don’t like it, but whatever keeps us and the coaches and everyone safe is what matters most.”

Coach Jim said it really helps lessen the chance of a pause in their schedule.

Click here for one of many articles about the teams’ decision.

In the meantime, back in the spring, these dancers convinced me that I didn’t need to worry about getting enough oxygen through a mask!

Cotton Candy or N95 Mask?

Oh my gosh! I just wrote about the feeling I sometimes get when thoughts weave together so fast I feel like my head is full of cotton candy.

Mahesk Bandi a graduate student of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University can create face masks more cheaply and faster than any other currently utilized industrial process with a re-purposed cotton candy machine. And they have the same filtering ability as N-95 masks.

That’s phenomenal. But, wait, there’s more. He can use plastic from old water bottles and shopping bags. What a wonderful way to recycle!


Leave it to Young people to get out there and do something. Us old fogies can stop wringing our hands and trust the next generation.

I feel so inspired by this week’s stories.

So remember, don’t despair. Good things are happening.

Those good things could be where you least expect them. Maybe I should look at junk through a different lens.

In the meantime, practice the four Ws:

  • Wear a mask;
  • Watch your distance,
  • Wash your hands, and
  • Work together.

What’s on your good news radar this week? I’d love to hear. More is always better.

Remember as you plan your holiday shopping, get-togethers, and other festivities, there’s a tool to help you figure out whether travel is worth it.

The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool is a collaborative project led by Prof. Joshua Weitz and Prof. Clio Andris at the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with researchers at the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory and Stanford University, and powered by RStudio. Description of the method and analyses available at Nature Human Behaviour.