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Putting Humpty to Shame: How to Have a Great Fall (and Survive)

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What's the furthest you've ever fallen?

Humpty Dumpty was a big wuss. While he was busy incurring mortal breakage from falling off a dinky little wall, people have been falling off of skyscrapers and out of planes -- and surviving. Heck, it even happened to someone I know: my friend Sara's dad worked construction in the 80s, and one unfortunate day (or fortunate, depending on how you look at it), he fell off the top of a six-story work site -- and landed on his feet. Some nagging pain aside, after a lengthy hospital stay he was more or less fully-functional, and every year on the anniversary of the accident, his family throws him a tongue-in-cheek "fall party." As cool (and scary) as that is, however, it's small potatoes compared to the following Guinness-worthy fallers. Take a page from their book, Humpty:

The faller: Alcides Moreno, a Manhattan window washer
He fell off of: the side of a 47-story Upper East Side apartment building after the safety ropes on his 3-foot-wide window washer's platform failed, last week.
Putting him back together: is going much better than expected; despite extensive injuries, he's awake and talking, and doctors expect he'll walk again, too.

What we can learn: well, Moreno was certainly lucky: according to staff at the New York-Presbyterian hospital where he's being treated, fewer than 1 percent of people who fall more than 10 stories survive. Falls from much shorter distances can be fatal if the victim hits his or her head. (When Moreno is feeling a little better, maybe he'll share his technique.)

vesnavulovic.jpgThe faller: Vesna Vulovic, a stewardess, in the winter of 1972
She fell: 33,330 feet from an airplane over the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) after a terrorist bomb ripped it to pieces, earning her a place in the Guinness Book: "Highest Fall Survived Without a Parachute." She was the sole survivor -- 27 others died -- and was found on a snowy mountainside by a German hiker, a serving cart pinned against her spine.
Putting her back together again: She never walked again, but aside from that, Vesna made a full recovery. She even went back to work for the airline (though she took a desk job), and claims to have suffered no psychological trauma as a result of the accident, because a month-long amnesia erased it from her memory.

What we can learn: it's hard to know what Vesna's falling technique was, thanks to her memory loss. It's thought, however, that her low blood pressure helped her survive the initial shock of the 500 mph wind and -45°C temperatures (her heart may have burst otherwise), and that the snow cushioned her landing somewhat. The best way to survive a fall from an airplane is to fall into a body of deep water with your body extended into as neat a line as possible -- though deep snow also provides some cushion.

bomber.jpgThe faller: The Royal Air Force's Sgt. Nicholas Alkamede
He didn't fall so much as he: jumped, seeing as how it was World War II and his plane was on fire during a not-so-successful bombing mission over Germany, which turned out to be a good move. He fell 18,000 feet to become the luckiest parachuteless bailout of the war, falling through tree branches and into a snowdrift, where his worst injuries were scratches, bruises, burns and a twisted knee. Not so luckily, he was then captured by the Germans.

What we can learn: aim for the trees, and cross your fingers that ski conditions are primo.

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Live Smarter
Need to Calm Yourself Down? Try This Military-Approved Breathing Technique
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Whether you’re dealing with co-worker chaos or pressure to perform on a project, it’s difficult to excel at work when you're extremely stressed. Can’t escape the office? Take a cue from real-life soldiers and try a technique called tactical breathing—also known as combat breathing, four-count breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing—to lower your heart rate and regain control of your breath.

“It’s one you can use when things are blowing up around you”—both literally and figuratively—“and you need to be able to stay calm,” explains clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, who demonstrates a version of tactical breathing in Tech Insider’s video below.

Vranich is the author of 2016’s Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health. Watch, learn, and—of course—inhale and exhale along with her until you feel zen enough to salvage the remainder of your workday.

[h/t Business Insider]

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10 Creepy Candles to Get You in the Halloween Mood
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Candles are always a handy household accessory, but they're especially useful around Halloween, when they can be used to light jack-o'-lanterns, summon spirits, or simply brighten a long, dark night. These spooky lights are more suited for tabletops than pumpkins, or soirees than seances, but they'll still make your upcoming costume shindig extra festive (and fragrant, to boot).


PyroPet’s cat-shaped Kisa candle looks like an ordinary wax feline. But as it melts, a hidden surprise reveals itself: a macabre metallic skeleton with charred bones and bared fangs.

The Kisa candle costs $34 and comes in three colors: pink, gray, and an ultra-spooky black. Not into cats? Additional PyroPet offerings include birds, bunnies, reindeer, owls, and dragons, all with the same silver framework.


Brain candle by Creepy Candles
Creepy Candles

This specimen-inspired candle by Etsy seller Creepy Candles would look equally at place in a mad scientist’s laboratory as it would at a Halloween soiree. A wax brain is suspended in green-tinted gel that resembles formaldehyde, but the candle itself thankfully smells like grapefruit. The Brain Candle costs $25 and is handmade to order.


Beeswax human spine candles, set of three, by Grave Digger Candles
Grave Digger Candles

Grow a spine this Halloween—or at least buy one. These notched beeswax pillar candles are inspired by the Victorian Era, a period in which physicians created detailed wax models of flayed corpses to teach medical students the literal ins and outs of anatomy. Etsy seller Grave Digger Candles sells them in sets of three for $76.


LED battery-operated Ouija board candle by Twisted Nightmares
Twisted Nightmares

This Ouija board-inspired, LED battery-operated candle probably won’t summon spirits, but it’s still spine-tinglingly spooky. Sold by Etsy user Twisted Nightmares, it costs $20 and requires three AAA batteries, which aren’t included with purchase.


Bleeding Heart Candle by Cozy Custom Candles
Cozy Custom Candles

Love guts, blood, and Gothic romance? Your heart might bleed for this candle, which turns into a gushing heart when lit. Sold by Etsy seller Cozy Custom Candles, the heart-shaped light source has a white outer shell made from a high-melt point paraffin wax, while its core is made of a red-colored wax blend with a low melting point. The candle hemorrhages vital fluids as it burns, making it the perfect accessory for a bloody good time.

The Bleeding Heart Candle costs $17 and comes in multiple autumnal scents, including caramel apple, pumpkin pie, and sweet cinnamon-pumpkin.


Pick Your Poison candle by Mr. Toad's House of Wax
Mr. Toad's House of Wax

The “Pick Your Poison” candles by Etsy seller Mr. Toad’s House of Wax appear to have been snatched from the shelf of a Victorian apothecarist. But while labeled “Poison Hemlock Oil” and “Tincture of Wolfsbane Poison,” they smell like fresh fallen leaves, pumpkin spice, and other autumnal scents when lit. Both candles cost $21, and are embellished with a sparkly jewel and black velvet ribbon.


Woods & Earth candle by Geeky Girl Scents
Geeky Girl Scents

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of trees and fresh graveyard dirt on a fall night. With hints of wood and earth, this candle by Etsy seller Geek Girl Scents will make your living room smell like a haunted cemetery. An eight-ounce jar costs $15, and a 16-ounce version is also available.


Witch Farts Scented Soy Wax Candle by The Candle Crate
The Candle Crate

If you’ve ever wondered what witch gas smells like (who hasn’t?), you can find out by purchasing The Candle Crate’s flaming ode to supernatural flatulence. The Etsy seller’s “Witch Farts” candle is more Glinda the Good Witch than Elphaba, with top notes of peach, apricot, and blackberries and middle notes of mandarin, cinnamon, and rose.

The soy wax candle costs $12, and is sold alongside other witchy, Harry Potter-inspired products like “Number 12 Grimmauld Place” and “The Leaky Cauldron.”


Ghost Repellent candle by Nola And Neighbors
Nola And Neighbors

Even if you ain’t afraid of no ghosts, you can still keep them at bay with this “Ghost Repellent” candle by Etsy sellers Nola And Neighbors. It smells like lavender and sage, and comes with an instruction label informing owners to light it “at dusk or dawn” for best results—although the ghost’s removal is “not guaranteed.” At $17, it’s still way cheaper than hiring the Ghostbusters.


Zombie Golden Girls prayer candle set by The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame

Golden Girls devotees who’d follow the Fab Four to the grave and beyond can light up their lanais with these zombie prayer candles by Etsy shop The Eternal Flame. They come in sets of four (one for each Girl, naturally) and cost $40. Color choices include white, orange, and purple.


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