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The inspirational story of an SAP employee who lost both her legs to a mysterious illness


SAP Felicia Shafiq

Here's an uplifting story to start your weekend: SAP employee Felicia Shafiq just found out that she'll be part of the Canadian Paralympics Volleyball team taking place in Rio this summer concurrently with the Olympics.

As we previously reported, Shafiq is a senior support engineer who lost both of her legs a few years ago due to illness and now walks with prosthetics.

Here's what happened: She had just come back from vacation in Fiji when she felt ill. By the evening, she had slipped into a coma, suffering from blood poisoning, its cause unknown.

Doctors almost amputated both of her hands and her feet while she was unconscious in an effort to save her life. Her family wouldn't allow it and, fortunately, she survived and her hands at least partially healed, though they still have nerve damage. But her legs never recovered.

Before the illness, she loved to play volleyball. Her therapist suggested she try out for the para-sitting team and things took off for her from there. She became the first double amputee to make the national team.

The team won a bronze medal in the Toronto Parapan Game, which qualified the team to play in Rio. But individual members still had another round of qualifying to do to earn an official spot.

A SAP spokesperson tells us that Shafiq just heard that she's made it on the team.

The company couldn't be more happy for her. She was sick for about three years but was put on leave and able to return to her job when she recovered.

In addition, through SAP's volunteer program, Shafiq also spends her time teaching kids with disabilities to play sitting volleyball.

And, when not playing volleyball, she's also good at Call of Duty, Foosball, and building stuff. "I have a diamond tufted headboard in the works," she once told us.

SAP put together an inspirational video about Shafiq's life journey that sort of doubles as a recruitment video, with a rather in-your-face message of SAP as a company that cares about its employees.

Jaded reaction aside, illness can happen to anyone. Shafiq's story shows even that kind of tragedy doesn't have to stop a happy life.

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This is why New York City summer has that nasty stench


Smog over NYC

For travelers with the gleam of the Big Apple in their eye, nothing seems better than New York City in the summertime.

Restaurants have outdoor seating, there are festivals all over town, and you don't have to worry about bringing your jacket to Top of the Rock.

But long-time city dwellers know the horror behind the mystique: those awful smells that dominate every daily commute to and from the office.

Here's why it's hard to escape the stench of the city in the heat of summer.

New York City has the highest population density in the US, and with 8,550,405 people roaming the nation’s melting pot, it’s bound to get smelly.

A census conducted in July 2015 showed that the city had a population density of over 27,000 people per square mile. To put that into perspective, the US, on average, holds only 80 people per square mile. That much combined body odor alone could be enough to scare anyone away.

With such an insanely huge number of people living in just one city, it should come as no surprise that there is also an insanely huge amount of garbage produced.

Although residents of the city produce 12,000 tons of waste every day, New York City doesn’t have any of its own landfills or incinerators. Garbage piles up in dumpsters until it can all be taken across the Hudson River to be incinerated in New Jersey, or, if possible, recycled locally and overseas.

But even after most of this waste has been incinerated across the river, strong winds can still carry the stench back over to the city on a hot day.

The sheer amount of garbage isn’t the only problem. There also has to be a way to get all of it out of the city. Diesel trucks carry garbage out of Manhattan 7.8 million times each year. Let this sink in: That’s the same as driving around the earth 312 times, and that's just for one city.

Halal food truckAll this driving only adds to pollution and the greenhouse effect, causing the city to become warmer and smellier as time continues.

You may also be wondering why those subway vents on every block smell so much more putrid on a steamy summer day. Or how it is possible to smell a food cart from all the way down the street.

It turns out the combination of heat and humidity allow bacteria to grow faster and smells to travel further. Increasing temps mean molecules move faster, resulting in enzymes speeding up metabolism and cells quickly increasing in size. Heat is bacteria’s best friend.

So when you get stuck with one those incredibly humid days, smells become only more potent. The water in the air causes these odors to dissolve, trapping them longer than if it were a dry day outside.

To many, New York is the city of dreams, but you have to be willing to accept it for the good, the bad, and the smelly.

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There's really only one reason you're losing your hair


Hair loss

Hair loss is a tricky subject for most men who suffer from it. They don't like to talk about it, fearing that drawing attention to the problem will only make it worse.

The most important thing to remember is that it's not your fault — it's genetic. If you're suffering from hair loss, and you don't already know the source, it's likely male pattern baldness, according to hair scientist Dr. William Yates of Dr. Yates Hair Science.

Yes, there are other causes of hair loss, but they're exceedingly rare. Stress? Unlikely. Infection, chemotherapy, medication, or disease? You'd probably know what the cause was before your hair even started falling out. Could it be a vitamin deficiency? Very doubtful. 

"If you live in the United States, there's hardly anyone that's really vitamin-deficient enough to lose hair," Yates told us. "To lose hair from vitamin deficiency, you'd have to be so deficient in some vitamin that you'd have other problems than your hair."

Another major cause of hair loss is traction alopecia, but if you don't wear a hat or put your hair in tight buns, braids, or ponytails, that won't affect you.

So put down the vitamin supplements, and stop worrying. There are four things that can treat or prevent the hair loss we're dealing with here, and the sooner you get treated for the right cause, the better off you'll be.

SEE ALSO: How you should wash your hair if you're starting to lose it

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Rare behind-the-scenes photos show Muhammad Ali training for one of his most historic fights


Ali 5

In August 1974, photographer Peter Angelo Simon ventured to Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, to document Muhammad Ali at his remote training camp, "Fighter's Heaven." At the time, Ali was prepping for what would be one of his most historic fights: the world heavyweight championship against George Foreman. Ali had dubbed the fight "The Rumble in the Jungle." 

Simon wasn't sure what to expect. "I had never been to a boxer's training camp," he wrote in the intro to his upcoming book "Muhammad Ali: Fighter's Heaven 1974." It's an especially timely piece given Ali's passing June 3.

"While a global audience was fixated on his fate, I was able to record aspects of Ali virtually unknown," Simon said in a press release for the book. Ahead, see some of the intimate moments Simon captured of one of the world's most famous boxers.

SEE ALSO: 22 of Muhammad Ali's greatest quotes of all time

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"If there's a secret to my fights, it's how I prepare," Ali told Simon.

On his very first day, Simon was up at 4:30 a.m. with Ali, who was running down a remote road in his army boots and grey sweatpants.

At the end of his more-than-five-mile run, Ali warned Simon to get his camera ready. "Get this," Ali told him. Ali pulled his sweatshirt up, as well as the rubber liner inside it, and water poured out. "It's called letting out the sweat," Ali said.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's how much the dieting industry has changed over the years


lard be gone pic 3

The dieting industry has changed dramatically throughout the years.

Once-successful companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are now seeing sales plummet, as consumers shift away from diet plans and instead embrace body positivity, according to a Mintel report cited by NPR.

"'Dieting' is not a fashionable word these days," Susan Roberts, a nutrition and psychiatry professor at Tufts University, told NPR. "[Consumers] equate the word 'diet' with deprivation, and they know deprivation doesn't work."

But consumers are still inundated with images and information about "lifestyle trends" — or newfangled versions of diets — that mesh better with today's obsession with health and wellness.

Here's how the dieting industry has changed.

People have long sought ways to be thin. Here's an old advertisement on reducing 'surplus flesh' and improving your figure.

Sometimes they resorted to taking pills.

Companies have been body-shaming women for years. This ad flat-out tells women to 'stop eating.'

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Scientists found something strange when they looked at the brains of stoners


girl smoking marijuana weed

Marijuana's official designation as a Schedule 1 drug— something with "no accepted medical use" — means it is pretty tough to study.

Yet numerous anecdotal reports, as well as some studies, have linked marijuana with several purported health benefits, from pain relief to helping with certain forms of epilepsy.

Still, experts say more rigorous scientific analyses are needed. Use of marijuana, a psychoactive drug, can come with risks, especially in people who may be prone to addiction or mental illness. 

And now, for the first time, researchers have found a link between daily decadelong weed use and a difference in how the brain processes reward. 

Addiction and the brain

For years, researchers have suggested that such a link exists — and if it does, that it could play a powerful role in addiction. An important part of this line of thought is that addicts, far from amoral individuals incapable of making intelligent decisions, simply respond differently to drugs— neurologically, psychologically, physiologically — than people who are not addicted.

And this response is probably the result of many factors outside the person's control, including genetics, behavior, and environment.

marijuanaSo for their study, published on Wednesday in the journal Human Brain Mapping, researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas, Dallas, took a look at the brains of 53 daily long-term pot users (14 of whom met the American Psychiatric Association's criteria for addiction) and 68 people who'd never used the drug daily. Then the researchers showed them a series of objects meant to test their reward response. The objects included one type of fruit (the "natural cue"), a pencil (the "neutral cue"), and either a bong, a pipe, or a joint (the "cannabis cue"), depending on which one the participant said they preferred.

Importantly, this study did not look at so-called recreational users — those who use the drug every few weeks or months. Instead, it focused on people who used the drug every day for an average of 12 years, several of whom met the criteria for being addicted to the drug, and many of whom displayed some signs of past or present problems with weed.

Why? Because the researchers wanted to tease out how changes to the brain's reward pathway might affect who used the drug every day for years — and, more importantly, why.

Not surprisingly, when the chronic users were presented with either the bong, pipe, or joint, they displayed a stronger response in several parts of their brain linked with reward than they did when they were shown the fruit cues. In contrast, the nonusers did not show a significantly greater response to either the weed or fruit cues, and some parts of their brains showed a greater response to the fruit than to the bong, pipe, or joint. 

"We found that marijuana disrupts the brain's natural reward circuitry, making marijuana highly salient to heavy users," Dr. Francesca Filbey, the director of cognitive neuroscience research of addictive disorders at the Center for BrainHealth and an associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, told Business Insider.

"In essence, these brain alterations could be a marker of transition from recreational marijuana use to problematic use," she said.

Marijuana and the brain

OFC.JPGIn another 2014 study also by Dr. Filbey, she and her team found that, compared with people who didn't use pot, long-term, heavy users tended to have a smaller orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region critical for processing emotions and making decisions.

And, interestingly enough, the heavy users also appeared to have more cross-brain connections. Scientists think regular users may develop these links as a means of compensating for the difference in size. The regular pot users also had lower IQ scores overall when compared with the people who didn't use the drug.

To arrive at their results — one of the first comprehensive, 3-D pictures of the brains of adults who'd smoked weed at least four times a week, often multiple times a day, for years — the researchers used a combination of MRI-based brain scans.

Still, that study did not show that chronic weed use caused certain regions of the brain to shrink, or that pot use caused lower IQ scores — it simply showed a relationship among those factors.

"We cannot honestly say that that is what’s happening here," Filbey told Business Insider in 2014.

Similarly, the latest study does not show that chronic pot use causes a change in the brain's reward response; the reverse could also be true, that the changed reward response influenced the chronic pot use.

SEE ALSO: What marijuana does to your body and brain

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The ultimate fast-food genius reveals his top 10 concoctions



Have you ever wondered about deep-frying pizza or contemplated putting mac-and-cheese on a taco? Dude Foods is a blog that does it all.

The blog, founded by Nick Chipman in 2010, is an ode to some of the least healthy — but some of the most delicious — food in the world. 

"The blog began because I would always just create crazy stuff at home and then just take pictures of it and send the photos to my friends or post them on Facebook and they seemed to get a kick out of the stuff I was making," Chipman told Business Insider. 

Here are Chipman's 10 favorite concoctions of all time. 


SEE ALSO: The most popular items at Trader Joe's

The Double Decker Mac & Cheese Stuffed Bacon Weave Taco

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"The perfect DudeFoods post — or at least the ones that seem to get the biggest reaction — always involve either bacon or deep frying," says Chipman. 

The Racing Sausages Corn Dog

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Today, Dude Foods receives more than 80,000 unique visitors per month, racking up more than 175,000 page views with creations like this corndog that combines bratwurst, chorizo, hot dog, Italian sausage and Polish sausage.

Macaroni and Cheese Crust Pizza

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This creation was inspired by Chipman's Sweet and Sour Chicken Pizza, made with a crust of deep-fried white rice. 

"The inspiration for creations sort of just comes to me," says Chipman. "After that it's sort of just a weird stream of consciousness thing where whenever I'm making something four or five new ideas will spawn from that one thing. Also, if I'm being totally honest, a ton of my ideas just come to me after a long night of drinking."


See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Yes, you can get drunk eating food made with alcohol


fish stew lawton cooking

If you've ever been told that cooking "burns off" any alcohol in the food you're eating, be forewarned: That's entirely untrue.

Sure, you're not likely to get wasted nibbling on a small slice of tiramisu, but it's time to toss out that old story that you can eat foods with alcohol and ignore any of their effects on your blood alcohol levels.

As it turns out, many popular foods cooked with wine or liquor still contain alcohol.

But how much, you ask?

New Scientist deputy editor Graham Lawton decided to experiment on himself to find out. In a video, he eats several dishes, all of which have been sautéed, flambéed, or baked with booze. After each plate, he uses a hand-held breathalyzer to measure his blood alcohol content.

Check out his results:

Course no. 1: Chorizo flambéed with rum

Before he starts eating, Lawton breathalyzes himself. He's already at a 0.2 (0.02 in US measurements) thanks to having sampled some of the dessert he'd made earlier — a trifle with a touch of sherry.

Then, he dips into the appetizer he made, a rum-flambeed chorizo. It looks pretty tasty:

rum flambeed sausage chorizo

When he finishes the sausage, he tests his blood alcohol levels again by blowing into the breathalyzer. Here's his result:

sausage breath

Clearly, his blood alcohol level has gone up. Since it's too high for his BAC meter to calculate accurately, the device simply reads "HI." (We're not sure what kind of meter he was using or how accurate it was, but his readings jibe with a US Department of Agriculture report on alcohol retention levels using various cooking methods.)

"Believe it or not," says Lawton, "I'm already over the drink-drive limit, simply by eating that flambéed chorizo."

While that might seem extreme, we're assuming that Lawton also has an empty stomach when he starts the experiment, meaning that his gut was able to absorb the maximum amount of alcohol from whatever he consumed. That would explain why his BAC went up so fast. Plus, adding alcohol to a boiling liquid and removing it from heat, a process frequently used in making reductions for meat dishes, leaves close to 85% of the alcohol added to the dish intact, according to the USDA report.

Course no. 2: Fish stew cooked with white wine

Lawton explains that his next course, a Portuguese fish stew, used 180 milliliters of white wine. The dish was then covered and cooked for 30 minutes.

"You might say surely then that there's none of the alcohol left," says Lawton. We'll see.

fish stew lawton cooking

Again, he finishes the meal and takes a pause to test his blood alcohol levels.

To his surprise, his BAC has actually decreased, measuring in at a 1.3 (0.13 in US measurements). That's because now that he has food in his stomach, he's has begun absorbing the alcohol at a slower rate. Still, this level is still far too high to legally drive.

Of all the cooking methods you could use, baking or simmering (as was likely done with this fish stew) removes the most alcohol overall, according to the USDA report. But 30 minutes of baking still leaves you with a little over a third of any alcohol you added to the mixture.

bac lawton cooking fish

Course no. 3: Sherry trifle with a silybum topping

Lawton says the last course is a traditional dessert made with sherry, but with an added twist: A whipped topping made with cream and silybum (milk thistle) liquor.

lawton cooking dessert alcohol

After a serving of the creamy dessert, he measures his blood alcohol levels again. Not surprisingly, they've shot back up to "HI."

silybum desert blood alcohol level reading

At this point, Lawton has food in his stomach, but not nearly enough to keep up with all the alcohol he's eating. Despite the obvious effects that his three-course-meal has on Lawton, it's important to remember that everyone processes alcohol differently. Everything from how much you weigh to how much you've eaten that day can affect how your body breaks down booze.

Looking for a cooking method that removes the most alcohol possible? Cooking or simmering a dish for 2 and 1/2 hours or more, the USDA report found, removes the majority (but still leaves a small amount). Keep in mind, too, that you can always substitute other liquids for alcohol if needed. Ginger ale works great instead of white wine, for example; tomato juice can be swapped for red wine.

Watch Lawton's full video below.

SEE ALSO: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-does-long-term-marijuana-use-affect-the-brain

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Bananas give you more radiation exposure than living next to a nuclear power plant


People are often concerned about how radiation exposure may be affecting their health. It's true that extreme exposure can do terrible things to your body, but most of the radiation we absorb is in trace amounts from unexpected sources. 

Produced by Alex Kuzoian

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I tried the plant-based meat that Google wanted to buy and I never want to eat a 'real' hamburger again


Impossible Foods

In my head and in my heart, I know I should stop eating meat.

Environmentalists have described beef consumption as the "new SUV" for its effects on climate change, and I've heard the horror stories about livestock mistreatment.

But ... every so often I still find myself caving to the craving for a juicy cheeseburger or beef burrito.

That's why Impossible Food's mission struck me immediately.

"We're making meat for uncompromising meat lovers, but with a fraction of the environmental impact," founder Patrick Brown explained on stage at Vox Media's recent Code Conference.

The secret: Plant burgers that look, smell, sizzle, and taste like beef.

So can these patties really replace the real thing, especially for someone who enjoys meat? Here's what I found in my first taste test:

SEE ALSO: The CEO of a startup that makes fake meat explains why he didn't sell to his company to Google

Brown (the guy on the right) started Impossible Foods in 2011 after coming up with the idea while on sabbatical for his teaching gig at Stanford.

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"I wanted to pick the most important problem in the world to work on and I decided that, without question, the biggest threat to the global environment right now was the use of animals for food," he said on stage at Code. "And I thought it was a solvable problem."

To come up with its answer, the company has reportedly raised about ~$180 million from the likes of UBS and Bill Gates. 

Google tried to buy the company last summer, but a deal didn't work out.

At the company's shareholders meeting last week, executive chairman Eric Schmidt highlighted fake meat as one of the top technologies that will change the world in the next five to 10 years. 

Uncooked, Impossible Foods' plant meat looks a lot like regular ground beef. Its major sources of proteins are wheat, potato, soy, and yeast. The major fat source is coconut. It also has a couple of plant-derived fibers and micronutrients, with a molecule called "heme" as the magic ingredient that gives it its meaty characteristics.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

9 daily questions that could improve your life forever



Benjamin Franklin began and ended each day with a question: "What good shall I do this day?" in the morning, and "What good have I done this day?" in the evening.

In fact, many great thinkers embraced the idea of constantly questioning things.

As Albert Einstein reportedly said, "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning."

Of course, getting into the habit of self-reflection is easier said than done, as we often prefer to avoid asking ourselves the tough questions. As philosopher and psychologist John Dewey explained in his 1910 book, "How We Think," reflective thinking involves overcoming our predisposition to accept things at face value and the willingness to endure mental unrest.

But enduring this discomfort is well worth the effort, as it can result in the confidence boost necessary to perform better in our work and daily lives.

To help kickstart your habit of self-reflection, here are nine daily questions you can start asking today:

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'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?'

In 2005, about a year after he received his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs told Stanford's graduating class that, for 33 years, he would look in the mirror every morning and ask himself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"

If the answer was "No" for too many days in a row, he says he know he needed to change something.

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important," Jobs explained. "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

'How do I see myself?

"This questions gets at your likely unspoken beliefs about who you are," writes Wanleo.com founder and CEO Deena Varshavskaya on Quora.

She says that changing how you see yourself in various situations can also change your actions and, ultimately, who you are.

"An example: if you see yourself as an unproven entrepreneur, the focus of your actions will be to prepare for later when you are more proven. By changing this to start looking at yourself simply as a hard working and capable entrepreneur, you can change what actions you take, who you chose to speak to, and so on," she writes 

'What is my biggest strength?'

VaynerMedia CEO and cofounder Gary Vaynerchuk writes on Quora that asking this question is the key to loving your job.

As he explains, so many people have jobs they hate because they haven't found their true passion yet. "They are good at a few things, so that's what they do here and there, but they aren't sure what that one big thing they want to do forever could be," he says.

"Stop doing stuff you hate. Nail down your strengths so you can discover your passion," he advises.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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