Getty Images
Getty Images

11 Signs April Really Is "The Cruellest Month"

Getty Images
Getty Images

T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" begins, "April is the cruellest month." And you know? Maybe he was right. Consider these terrible April events. Warning: They're really terrible.

1. April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King's assassination

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot while standing on the second-story balcony of a Memphis motel and pronounced dead an hour later. Conspiracies surround the tragedy, but James Earl Ray confessed and was sentenced to life in prison for the murder. Robert Kennedy announced King's death in a campaign speech that night, sympathizing with the King family and sharing his own feelings about his brother John F. Kennedy's assassination. Two months later, Robert Kennedy was also assassinated.

2. April 13, 1970: Apollo 13 oxygen tank explosion

Three days after launching, Apollo 13's oxygen tanks ruptured. The crew shut off the Command Module and used the Lunar Module as a lifeboat, a decision that ultimately saved their lives. The team never made it to the moon, but they miraculously survived, despite limited power, little water, and cold temperatures. So the mission wasn't another April disaster, but it was very close. Veryclose.

3. April 14, 1865: Abraham Lincoln's assassination

Five days after Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union general Ulysses S. Grant, President Lincoln was assassinated—the first U.S. president ever to be so—while watching a play at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. Actor John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators also planned to kill the Secretary of State and Vice-President, but were unsuccessful.

4. April 15, 1912: The Titanic sinking 

On its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, the "unsinkable" ocean liner hit an iceberg and sank within three hours. There are conflicting accounts of how many people died, but 1500 is a safe—and very tragic—estimate.

Not to make light of the disaster—but seriously, you're going to need some humor to get through this piece—years later, Celine Dion recorded the ear-wrenching "My Heart Will Go On" for James Cameron's 1997 film Titanic. Just sayin'.

5. April 15, 1955-Present: U.S. Tax Day 

April 15 has been known as "Tax Day" since 1955, but the date can vary. If April 15 happens to be a Friday in a given year, the deadline's extended to Monday. On a weekend, it's extended to Tuesday. Either way, it's in April. (And if you're wondering, it used to be in March.)

Of course, Tax Day's not so bad if you get a refund. That's why I propose we alternatively call it "Buy a freelancer a drink day." Who's in?

6. April 17, 1961: Bay of Pigs invasion

John F. Kennedy remains one of the most beloved U.S. presidents, but the failed Bay of Pigs invasion early on in his administration was a total fiasco. Under Kennedy's leadership (and Eisenhower's original plan), the CIA gathered and trained a group of Cuban exiles and then sent them to invade the Bay of Pigs and overthrow Castro. This way, they figured, the U.S. wouldn't technically be involved. (Uh, what?) The exiles were met and outnumbered by the Cuban fighter planes, tanks, and militia and had no backup from the U.S. They surrendered a few days later, after 118 exiles were killed and over 1,000 were captured.

7. April 19, 1993: Mount Carmel Center raid

On February 28, 1993, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms tried to deliver a search warrant at Mount Carmel Center, the Waco, Texas headquarters of the Branch Davidians led by David Koresh. Four agents and six Branch Davidians were killed in the gun battle that ensued. The FBI launched a 51-day stand-off and eventually raided the compound on April 19. An attack that was supposedly only going to use tanks and tear gas led to guns, grenades, and a fire that killed 76 Branch Davidians, ages 1 to 76. However you view the event, it's a tragedy.

8. April 19, 1995: Oklahoma City bombing

Incensed by the Waco siege and his proclaimed hatred of the federal government, Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh detonated a bomb at the front of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building two years after the Mount Carmel Center raid. The bombing remains the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, killing 168, including 19 children in a daycare center, and injuring more than 800.

9. April 20, 1999: Columbine High School massacre

Two Colorado high schoolers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire at their school, making their way through the cafeteria, library, and hallways. The attack left 15 dead, 21 injured, and millions scarred.

10. April 20, 1889: Adolf Hitler's birthday 

Heavy stuff, right? The Columbine Massacre was definitely planned to occur around the anniversary of the deadly events of years prior. But it's not certain if the perpetrators chose April 20 because that's the day of Adolf Hitler's birth. This piece isn't about getting political, but I think we can all agree that a world without Hitler would've been a happier one.

11. April 20, 2010: Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill

But wait, there's more April 20 terror! Sorry.

An explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico tragically killed 11 workers and injured 17. Two days later, the subsequent oil spill, the largest marine oil spill ever, made the news. BP reported a leak of about 42,000 gallons of oil a day and a 100-mile oil slick spanned the Louisiana coast. Eventually, oil and tar washed up on beaches. Wildlife died. The leak wasn't permanently sealed until September 19!

Ugh. Now that we're all thoroughly bummed out, let's try something else: What good things happened in April?

20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]

9 Healthy Frozen Meals to Keep in Your Freezer

Frozen dinners don’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to nutrition. Many of the pre-made meals you’ll find at your local supermarket are loaded with sodium, fat, and calories. But there are still a few nutritious (and tasty) options, as long as you know where to look. Here are a few frozen food brands to keep in your freezer for those times when you need something quick, painless, and yes, healthy.


Pescatarians rejoice: This Colorado-based company specializes in meals made from sustainable, farm-raised seafood. They have your traditional microwaveable meals—like the Baja-style fish taco bowl and the sweet and spicy Korean BBQ bowl—but they also offer oven-ready fish kits. Cooking is easy: Simply place the provided (heart-shaped!) parchment on a baking sheet with the filet on one side; put the frozen sauce cubes on top; wrap it up; and pop it in the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes. You can also throw in any veggies you might have in your freezer, and Love the Wild provides some tasty recipe ideas on its website. Even Leonardo DiCaprio is a fan: “LoveTheWild’s approach to sustainable, responsible aquaculture is promoting the development of a secure and environmentally-conscious solution to feeding our planet’s growing population," he said last year after investing in the company.


Who says pizza has to be bad for you? With Cappello’s naked pizza crusts, you can build your own healthy pie just the way you like it. The crusts are made from arrowroot and coconut flours and are gluten-free, grain-free, and paleo-friendly. The brand also makes pre-made pizzas, vegan cookie dough, and a few varieties of pasta, including lasagna sheets, fettuccine, and gnocchi. Cappello's recommends recipes on its website, and the summer pesto pizza with chicken breast, goat cheese, and arugula is a great, light dish to serve at outdoor parties this season.


Vegetarian burgers on the grill
Beyond Meat

The Beyond Meat team set out to create a vegan burger that looks, tastes, and even "bleeds" like a real beef patty (due to the beet juice used to make the patties red). Ethan Brown, the company's founder, insists that the patties aren't much different from meat burgers. "Our company observation has always been that you don’t need an animal to produce a piece of meat," he tells Forbes. "You can obtain all of the core parts of meat—the amino acids, the lipids, the trace minerals and of course water from non-animal sources. And you can assemble those in the same architecture as animal meat." Some of their products are sold in the meat section of grocery stores, but a few items are available frozen, including The Beast Burger 2.0. Bill Gates and DiCaprio are both investors, and the company just announced it will start selling its products on six continents this summer.


As the name suggests, you’ll find simple, wholesome ingredients here. Since it was founded in 2011, the brand has been on a mission to offer minimally processed meals that "add nothing unnecessary" by way of ingredients. The company abides by a long list of "unacceptable ingredients" [PDF], including a variety of hydrogenated oils as well as artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, and sweeteners. Although they originally dealt only in breakfast dishes for busy workers on the go—burritos, scrambled egg bowls, pancakes, steel cut oatmeal, and more—they later branched out and started offering ready-made entrées. Their egg white patties are perfect for making your own customizable breakfast sandwiches.


This subscription food service proudly wears the frozen food label. "For decades, the space has been dominated by unhealthy or pseudo-healthy products that are hyper-refined and preserved," Daily Harvest founder Rachel Drori told the Huffington Post. "We are working hard to tell a new story, about the potential in freezing unadulterated to solve the modern eating dilemma of wanting convenience without compromise." Daily Harvest points out that after three days, some frozen fruits and vegetables contain more antioxidants and vitamins than their fresh counterparts. Their produce is frozen on the farm within 24 hours of harvesting, and they offer everything from cauliflower rice and kimchi harvest bowls to chocolate protein and almond chia parfaits. The pre-portioned meals, which are delivered to customers’ homes, are backed by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Serena Williams, and chef Bobby Flay.


A burrito

Evol urges its customers to “think outside the microwave.” The brand’s burritos and quesadillas can be heated up in a panini press, on the stove top, or on the grill, allowing a level of customization that most frozen food brands don’t offer. A range of Asian, Italian, and Mexican dishes are available, all of which are free of antibiotics and preservatives. When asked by Dining Out why Evol has become so popular, the company's founder, Philip Anson, replied, "We built a brand rooted in love and farm-to-table values, but with some hipness to it in a category known as a cold and lonely place—legacy brands, uninspiring, mystery meat, sodium and fat." He said Evol's bowls—like truffle parmesan mac and cheese and butternut squash-sage ravioli—are their most popular dishes.


Luvo’s meals are based on what they call the 3-2-None policy. This involves balancing protein, whole grains, and veggies; limiting sodium and added sugar; and avoiding all artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and antibiotics. In addition to steam-in-pouch meals and pasta bowls, Luvo offers “power bowls” that are packed with at least two servings of vegetables. The company's emphasis on nutrition goes beyond its products, though: Luvo also partners with WhyHunger, an organization that's addressing the issue of hunger in America by tackling the root cause of the issue while recognizing "nutritious food as a human right." Luvo also partners with A Sense of Home, which helps foster children who have "aged out" of the system transition into a new home.


Organic frozen meals with simple ingredients are the name of the game for Beetnik. Their meals are free of preservatives, gluten, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, hormones, artificial colors and flavorings, and antibiotics. One of their most popular dishes is their Peruvian seasoned chicken stew, made with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and spices. The company's founder, David Perkins, is a chef; when asked by Paleo Foundation what his favorite Beetnik dish is, Perkins replied, "I love our flat iron steaks, our Peruvian chicken stew, and our sablefish, but tomorrow I might give you three different items. I eat our products regularly, which is how I got into the business. Start with great ingredients."


Like Daily Harvest, this subscription food service delivers frozen meals right to your door via UPS. Eatology meals combine aspects of both the paleo and zone (low-carb) diets, while also incorporating lots of lean proteins and healthy fats. In addition to being paleo-friendly, there are plenty of low-carb, Whole30, and vegetarian options available. Bad news for carb lovers, though: You won't find bread, potatoes, or pasta on the menu. Their dishes change daily, but past meals have included white chicken chili on a bed of yellow squash, ratatouille, cilantro jalapeno burgers, and chili cheese fries (using sweet potatoes and carrots).


More from mental floss studios