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The Quick 10: 10 Unexpected Places to Give Birth

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Well, I'm a week away from my due date, and it doesn't look like our bundle of joy is going anywhere anytime soon. But that hasn't stopped me from having horrifying visions of getting stuck on an elevator and going into labor or being otherwise unable to make it to the hospital 10 minutes away from our house. Maybe it was a bad idea to research these unexpected places to give birth"¦

1. In a subway station. I can't think of a less sanitary place to give birth, can you? In 2008, Francine Alfontent and her husband were at the East Broadway stop headed to the hospital when the baby decided it was done cooking. The mother gave birth among a circle of New Yorkers who donated clothing, helped time contractions and gave up a cheer when the baby came out healthy.

2. In an airplane. This was one of those, "Is there a doctor on the plane?" situations, and thankfully, there was. A doctor and two nurses, to be exact. In December 2009, a woman about a month out from her due date gave birth on a Southwest flight from Chicago Midway to Salt Lake City. When the baby was born, it was announced it to the 122 other curious passengers on board: "We now have a new passenger," the pilot said over the intercom before making an emergency landing in Denver.

3. In a mechanic's shop. This one just happened! Earlier this month in Cambridge, Mass., a woman went to an instant oil-change Valvoline shop to check some routine car maintenance off of her to-do list before the baby came. Instead, she ended up giving birth in the backseat of her SUV. Police and paramedics were called to the scene where the baby had already made its debut. It wasn't breathing. Policeman Steve Allen hit the baby on the back twice and cleared its mouth of blockage, which cleared things right up. Everyone is reported to be doing well now. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking free oil changes for life.

4. In a Port-O-Potty. What is it about Cambridge? In the same town as the Valvoline baby but nearly a year earlier, a 44-year-old woman retreated to a Port-O-Potty to have her baby"¦ and then dropped the newborn little girl in the tank and left to smoke a cigarette. When someone else approached the toilet, the new mother told them to stay out because she had just given birth. When the man called 911, she retrieved the baby from the toilet. She was charged with first and second degree child abuse and reckless endangerment and later told officials that she didn't know she was pregnant. The baby survived and social services took custody of her when she was allowed to leave the hospital.

5. In a tree.
In 2000, about a million people in Mozambique were forced from their homes when floodwaters ravaged the country. Or make that a million and one. A Sophia Pedro lived in a treetop for four days, waiting for her rescue and hoping that it would come before her baby did. Rescue did come, but it was moments too late "“ just minutes after the woman gave birth in the treetop, medics descended from a helicopter to retrieve them and cut the umbilical cord. Sophia and her daughter both recovered just fine.

6. At Sesame Place. But she wasn't exactly surrounded by Elmo and Big Bird. A woman from Manhattan was visiting the Sesame Street-themed park in 2008 and had only been there for about 20 minutes when her water broke. "It happened so fast. I didn't have pain, just shock," Takia Mann said. Sesame Place gave Mann and her family (she was there with her other two children) season passes and sent Elmo and Abby Cadabby to visit the newest little Mann at the hospital.

7. In a rickshaw. A Pakistani woman got caught in a traffic jam in February when President Asif Ali Zardari's motorcade went through Quetta. The woman's brother hired a rickshaw to get her to the hospital and pleaded with police to let them pass because his sister was due to give birth at any second. They declined the request, and the baby was born in the rickshaw.

8. At ESPN Zone. A 24-year-old woman was visiting the ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney in Anaheim in 2005 when she had the sudden urge to go to the bathroom. Bad. Turned out it wasn't bad chicken wings "“ she was in labor and gave birth in the second-floor bathroom at the eatery.

9. At Wal-Mart. It sounds like a MacGyver episode, but when a woman went into labor at a Lake City, Florida, Wal-Mart, employees sprang into action and used items from the store to assist her. And you can watch! Don't worry, it's not graphic "“ it's interviews with the employees who were there coupled with some grainy security footage.

10. At the post office. Maybe it's not just Cambridge, Mass. "“ a woman in Cambridgeshire, England, gave birth to a baby girl named Dulce last year when she stopped at the post office to get more minutes on her cell phone. The baby was weighed on a postal scale where she topped out at 5 pounds, 15 ounces. "We worked out that's the equivalent of an £8.22 first class parcel," postmaster Paul Childs said.

OK "“ hit me with your most horrifying tale. Did your sister give birth in a taxi? Do you know someone from your hometown who went into labor while standing in line at McDonald's? Let's see who has the best story, and I will do my best to have the most boring, unimaginative birth story ever.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
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Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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