Dinner and Your Phone Don't Mix

A new study says having your phone at the dinner table makes you feel bad. Published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, the two-part study was designed to determine how looking at one's phone affects happiness. Having tech on the table causes diners to feel more distracted and less socially engaged. Those who had been engaged in a face-to-face interaction with someone else while simultaneously using their phone reported a greater sense of unhappiness than those who were face-to-face without a phone in hand. Elizabeth Dunn, one of the study co-authors, told Food & Wine that using a phone at the table is contagious. People are more likely to do it when they see others doing the same: "By putting your own phone away, you might be creating a positive domino effect." Study co-author Ryan Dwyer suggests setting phone-use boundaries: "Have a rule that if you're going to go out to dinner with some friends or family members, you'll put your phone on silent and leave it off the table. Try to stick to these rules so you can form new habits." We may all be social media addicts and information junkies, but it's still important to remind ourselves that the world will continue to go on, even if we aren't checking in every five minutes. (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology)

Robbery Beyond Words

TLC reality show My 600-lb Life profiles the efforts of the extremely obese to lose weight, but viewers were given heartbreaking news in this week's episode: Robert Buchel, a New Jersey man who weighed 842 pounds at the start of the episode, did not survive filming. The 41-year-old, who went on a strict diet for months and lost more than 200 pounds before surgery to lose more weight, died suddenly of a heart attack. Buchel, who moved from New Jersey to Texas with fiancée Kathryn Lemanski for the treatment, was addicted to painkillers and he became depressed after the surgery, at one point tearing out his stitches in a bid to be given more drugs. Buchel is the first person to have died during filming for the TLC show, which is now in its sixth season. In a Facebook post, Lemanski called the death a "robbery beyond words," saying that after a hard life, Buchel had finally started having hope for the future. (New York Daily News)

College Sues 32-year-old Who Won't Leave Dorm

In New York City, Hunter College is trying to evict Lisa Palmer, a 32-year-old former student it says is illegally squatting in her dorm room. The college has filed a lawsuit against Palmer, saying she owes more than $94,000 in unpaid residence hall fees since she dropped out in 2016. Palmer was apparently denied summer housing in 2016 but she refused to leave despite the school sending several notices that she would be charged $150 a day if she stayed. Palmer, a former geography major, says she plans to stay in the dorm while she fights the case. She rejects the school's assertion that she dropped out saying the college refused to allow her to register for classes in 2016 after she contested her housing and tuition fees. "I felt that it was a miscommunication initially, but after I met with the dean I felt that they were starting to treat me unfairly," she said. "It was like, 'Get out.'" She now works for an architectural firm. (New York Post)

Brain Trust

Next time you need brain surgery, maybe avoid Kenya. Doctors at a Kenyan hospital were two hours into brain surgery to remove a patient's blood clot when they discovered to their shock there was no clot - because they had opened up the wrong patient's brain! That guy had come in simply for some non-invasive treatment for swelling. Both patients were brought into the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi unconscious last Sunday. Reports blame the patients' identification tags being switched around for the mix-up. Hospital CEO Lily Koros says the hospital "deeply regrets this event and has done all it can to ensure the safety and well-being of the patient in question." But the doctors' union says blaming "overwhelmed" staff isn't the right response. Union head Ouma Oluga says, "Doctors are overwhelmed. You find one doctor could be doing 10 to 19 operations [in a day]." There was public outrage over the incident at the hospital, which was already under scrutiny after new mothers claimed they were sexually assaulted there. Regulators are planning a hearing. The patient who underwent brain surgery is recovering. In an ironic twist, the patient who actually has a blood clot may not get surgery after all because his condition has improved. (Daily Nation)

Talk About Your Bridezilla

A wedding photographer whose business was ruined by one of the most vengeful brides since Kill Bill has been awarded almost $90,000 in damages. A Canadian judge decided that bride Emily Liao was motivated by malice when she launched a furious online campaign against company Amara Wedding and owner Kitty Chan. Judge Andrew Weatherill said that after a dispute over the quality of pre-wedding photographs, Liao spent a year attacking the company on English and Chinese-language forums, blogs, and social media platforms, saying it was "a major scam shop and deceitful photography mill business engaged in extortion, dishonesty, unfair practices, bait and switch, and other dirty tactics." Chan says her formerly successful wedding services firm in Richmond, BC, relied on word of mouth within the Chinese community and it closed down in January 2017 after business collapsed. Weatherill, who described the case as "an example of the dangers of using the Internet to publish information without proper regard for its accuracy," said Liao had "failed to prove that her displeasure was justified." He ordered her to pay damages for wrecking the business with her campaign to harm it in an "egregious, accusatory, and vitriolic manner." Chan tells the CBC she hopes the case will "prove to people that they have to face any consequences when they say something on the Internet." (BBC)

Are You a Millennial?

Can't quite decide if you're a millennial or not? Well now you can be sure. The final word on who is and who isn't a millennial has been issued, courtesy of the Pew Research Center. Pew's ruling: individuals born between the years 1981 and 1996 - meaning those who are currently between the ages of 22 and 37- are officially deemed members of the gang sandwiched between Generation X and Gen Z. The beginning and end points for millennials, as well as for other generations, has shifted over time. Authors Neil Howe and William Strauss, who are given credit for coming up with the term "millennials" in their 1991 book Generations, originally had individuals in this demographic as being born between 1982 and 2000; subsequent deviations had the millennial generation starting as early as 1978 and ending as early as 1994. Pew chief Michael Dimock acknowledges nailing down these timelines isn't an "exact science" - and that even this official designation could change yet again. "Perhaps, as more data are collected over the years, a clear, singular delineation will emerge," he writes. "We remain open to recalibrating if that occurs." (Pew Research Center)

Catholics Un-Catholicing

More and more very young Catholics are leaving the church and that's the focus of a new national study. While the median age for leaving the church is now 13, the fastest growing demographic leaving is age 18 to 29," said John Vitek, president of Saint Mary's Press in Winona, which commissioned the study. The survey found that the biggest reason young Catholics bailed was that they no longer believed in God. Others were put off by the church's stance on social issues such as same-sex marriage and the role of women. One teen explained, "I believe in birth control. ... I am a complete supporter of same-sex marriage. I'm fine with priests being married. This whole being married to Jesus or God thing is kind of ridiculous." Once they leave the church, more than a third report no religious affiliation and 29 percent switch to another Christian denomination. (Star Tribune)

What the What?

Hope you didn't have a flight to the nation's capital this weekend. A powerful storm moving along the East Coast caused winds so strong that they made people sick. One plane landing at Dulles International Airport outside Washington during the heavy winds reported that nearly everyone on the flight had lost their lunch or whatever else they were eating. The tweet sent out by the National Weather Service's Aviation Weather Center read: "... Very Bumpy on Decent. Pretty much everyone on the plane threw up! Pilots were on the verge of throwing up. Just miserable." More than 4,500 U.S. flights had been canceled as of Friday mid-afternoon. (Huffington Post)


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