15 of the Best Neighbors in History


It started with FDR in 1933, when he introduced the Good Neighbor Policy to improve relations with Central and South America. Then, almost 40 years ago, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed September 22, 1978, National Good Neighbor Day. In 2004, Congress moved the date to September 26, while others observe it on September 28.

Some people may loathe their neighbors (i.e. Homer Simpson), but others are willing to lend a helping hand, from shoveling snow to giving a country a mountain summit. So, to mark this week's National Good Neighbor Day, make like a good neighbor and turn down that bass, give something back, and celebrate 15 of the Best Neighbors in History.


Earlier this year, in New Berlin, Wisconsin, a deaf and blind Lhasa Apso mix named Job alerted his neighborhood to a gas leak. While on a walk with his human, Job smelled the leak and started barking and spinning in circles, which caused Job’s owner to call the gas company. Sure enough, the gas company confirmed the leak and fixed it. “We’re proud of him every day, specifically that day,” Job's owner, James Densmore, told WISN.


By Shawn from Airdrie, Canada - Gander, Newfoundland, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Although Canada wasn’t directly involved with the 9/11 attacks, Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, launched Operation Yellow Ribbon to divert possibly endangered flights from the U.S. to the remote—and safe—Gander International Airport. (Nova Scotia and other Canadian provinces also helped with the flights.) More than 6500 people from 38 flights ended up in the tiny town of Gander, but the hospitable Canadians made their new friends bagged lunches and let strangers sleep in their homes for a few days. The story of Gander is the subject of the musical Come From Away, which will make its way to Broadway this winter.


After Pendleton, Oregon, railroad worker Josh Cyganik—who worked across the street from Leonard Bullock—overheard two teenagers insult Bullock’s house, Cyganik posted a message on Facebook and rallied approximately 100 volunteers to help fix up Bullock's home, which had fallen into disrepair. He even talked a local lumberyard into donating paint. “It makes me feel good to look at it, especially after what [the teenagers] said,” Bullock told ABC News, after seeing his freshly painted home.

At 75 years old, San Francisco Bay Area man Richard Dubiel tried to fix his roof but couldn’t manage it on his own. One of Dubiel’s neighbors noticed Dubiel struggling, so he posted a picture to social media asking those with roofing skills to assist in the project. Twenty people showed up; "I'm just in awe," Dubiel said.


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The epitome of a good neighbor, Fred “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Rogers taught American children (and adults) what kindness meant. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran for 31 seasons and included neighborly guests like Mr. "Speedy Delivery" McFeely and Henrietta Pussycat. In real life, Rogers was also a good person. One night a limo driver took Rogers to a PBS exec’s house, but when he got word the driver would have to wait outside for two hours, Rogers invited the driver inside, and on the way home, Rogers requested to meet the driver’s family.


The countries didn’t think twice when they accepted millions of Syrian refugees into their countries. Jordan has taken in more than a million refugees, and Lebanon 1.5 million, despite Lebanon having a high debt-to-GDP ratio, and Jordan’s water being scarce.



Shoveling inches of snow is an easy way for neighbors to support each other. In Abingdon, Virginia, Jeff Matney—a.k.a. the “snow fairy”—shoveled the driveway of across-the-street neighbors Larry and Sandy Fields. At 73 years old, Larry Fields has survived three brain surgeries. “Jeff’s always been good to help,” Fields said. “He shoveled it last year, too. Every time he shovels his driveway, he’ll come over and shovel mine. I feel like he’s adopted us,” said Fields.

Also this winter, in St. Paul, Minnesota, Keven O’Bannon recorded a video of his 101-year-old neighbor, Mr. Mann, as he shoveled a neighbor’s walkway. “Well he’s out of town,” Mr. Mann said. “I can use the exercise as long as I don’t exert myself. I know what my limitations are.”


For more than 25 years, Homer Simpson has warred with friendly (and sometimes annoying) next-door neighbor Ned Flanders—“Hidey-ho, neighbor!”—even though the religious Flanders treats him (mostly) with kindness. But when Flanders opened The Leftorium, a shop selling wares for southpaws, Homer became a good neighbor and bailed him out.


A few years before DJ VH1 (Brendan Jay Sullivan) toured with Lady Gaga, he became chummy with a homeless woman named Jackie Vance, who repeatedly hit him up for money at a subway stop. One day she asked him for money and Sullivan told her if he was successful at a job interview he was going to, he’d buy her Chinese food. He got the job, and the two formed a fast relationship. Vance eventually found a place to live, and through an Indiegogo campaign, he raised money to help her furnish her new home.


The tiny house boom became personal when four Austin-based couples purchased 10 acres of land near the Llano River, outside of Austin, and built their four homesteads, located in a neat row. At 350 square feet apiece, the homes are only big enough for the couples who live there, but they pooled together and built a 1500-square foot cabin as a communal space for themselves and guests.


Instead of building houses, two couples in England's Willenhall, West Midlands, produced a pub named The Outback Inn that adjoins their homes. The neighbors wanted a space to hang out in besides their own homes, so now Kelvin and Samantha Mayes and Rob and Helen Sheldon commiserate over drinks.


Courteney Cox represents the shows’ shared universe, first starring as Monica Geller on Friends, then as Jules Cobb on Cougar Town. On Friends, Monica and Rachel once swapped apartments with neighbors Joey and Chandler (okay, they lost a bet, but still), and, well, they were always there for each other. In Jules’ neighborhood, wine was always there for Cox and her best friend neighbors, Ellie and Andy Torres (Christa Miller and Ian Gomez) and Grayson Ellis (Josh Hopkins).


A leukemia diagnosis didn't stop Houston resident Charlie George from walking his dogs around his neighborhood every day. However, the exercise exhausted him, so neighbors set out chairs for him to rest along the way. Neighbors placed signs on the chairs that read “Chairs for Charlie.” “It kind of blew me away,” George told in 2014. “It really surprised me. It’s just real thoughtful that your neighbors would watch over you and want to try to help you. It’s touching.” George passed away in May 2014, but the chairs remained in his neighbors’ yards.


December 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence from Russia. Halti is the highest mountain in Finland, but its summit resides in neighboring country Norway. To celebrate the country's centennial, Norway suggested moving the border. Bjørn Geirr Harsson, who used to work for the Norwegian Mapping Authority, was flabbergasted to learn that Finland didn’t already own the peak, and decided to start a Facebook campaign to convince Norway's government to give Finland the mountain for its birthday. “We would not have to give away any part of Norway,” he told The New York Times. “It would barely be noticeable. And I’m sure the Finns would greatly appreciate getting it.”



An actual fence stood between neighbors Tim Taylor (Tim Allen) and Wilson Wilson, Jr. (Earl Hindman), so viewers didn’t get a peek at the Taylors' nosy neighbor’s full face until the series finale. Yet Wilson made himself available to Tim, Tim’s wife, and their boys for eight years, regularly doling out advice like, “Don’t sell your stupid instincts short,” and “The only way to get rid of a wart is to go below the surface of the oily skin and dig out the root.”


Earlier this year, Woman’s Day surveyed 2000 people about the qualities that make a good neighbor, and put out a call to find the Best Neighbor in America. Jim Howe, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who lives in Hawaii's Schofield Barracks army base, won the title. When Howe's not working, he makes time to play with the neighborhood kids, play bartender to the area's stressed-out moms, and fix broken bikes here and there. "He listens to all of our problems and gives great advice," said Erin Snow, who nominated Howe for the award. "He takes care of everyone in the neighborhood."

8 Expert Tips and Tricks for Hanging a Picture Right the First Time

Framed pictures are an inexpensive way to make a house feel like a home, and they can take a room from empty to finished-looking in minutes. They can be customized easily to your space and decor, and swapped out if your tastes change. But there is an art to hanging a picture the right way—without destroying your walls. Here’s what you need to know.


There are several steps you need to take before you get anywhere near a drill or hammer. First, consider two factors: the state of the wall you want to decorate, and the weight of the picture. Your wall may be supported by studs, which are pieces of wood or metal that run vertically behind the wall every couple of feet. Screwing directly into a stud can provide more support for hanging items.

If you have a reinforced wall, you could use a basic nail or screw to hang the frame, as long as you insert the nail or screw firmly into a stud. But you should only ever use a nail if you're hanging on a stud, according to Simon Taylor, owner-operator of T&C Carpentry in Whitby, Ontario. Otherwise, the weight of the picture could rip the nail out of the wall.

No stud? No problem. "If the picture is light, then a product like Monkey Hooks"—a kind of cantilevered hook for unreinforced walls—"work great," Taylor says.

For medium to heavy pictures, use wall anchors, which are plastic or metal inserts that provide more support for screwing into an unreinforced wall. There are many styles and strengths available for different materials and weights. “Using a product like E-Z Ancors is an easy way to fix a screw to drywall where there is no stud to screw into. They are strong and easy to install,” Taylor tells Mental Floss. “You can then thread a screw into them to hang your picture, providing it has a hook on the back or a string. A good rule to follow is not to use anything other than an anchor if you are not screwing directly into a stud or backing.” (Plastic wall anchors are fine for most lightweight projects, but for a really heavy picture, or a wall made out of something besides drywall, you'll need a different type of anchor.)

If you’re renting and don't want to damage the walls of your apartment, or you’re not 100 percent committed to the picture's placement, Taylor recommends a non-nail option like the extremely popular 3M Command adhesive hooks. They provide temporary, hole-free hanging and hold strong without peeling paint off the wall when it comes time to remove them.

Others argue that stick-on hooks can be unreliable, especially for heavier frames. “All picture-hanging hardware should really include some type of component that punctures the wall,” says Claire Wheeler, design and project coordinator for Montreal-based Sajo Inc. “This provides a much more secure hanging system than a hanging system that is surface-applied.” The adhesives on these types of products are more likely to fail than any sort of nail or anchored hardware, she tells Mental Floss.


Wheeler says your hanging hardware depends on the size and weight of the frame. Fortunately, most frame manufacturers include some form of hanger on the back of their products.

While she finds that hook tabs (small triangular hangers on ready-to-use frames) work for hanging lighter pictures, a wire system—two anchor points on the back of the frame and a strong wire strung between them for looping over the wall screw or hook—is the better choice for hanging large and/or heavy pictures. The wire system setup allows the weight of the frame to be distributed evenly along the wire for more secure hanging, rather than placing all the weight of the frame on one small hanger point.

“You will notice that most frames, whether you have purchased them in a store or you've had them custom-made, have hardware already installed at the back. It’s usually a pretty safe bet to use what the manufacturer has provided,” Wheeler says.

To hang a picture without the need for advanced math, start with a center hanging point: a hook tab affixed in the appropriate spot, or, if your frame has two tabs on either side of the frame, a wire strung slackly between them.


Assemble all of the gear before you spring into action. In addition to your framed artwork, you'll need the proper hanging apparatus for your project (see #1) and a hammer for pounding in the wall anchor or nail. Use a power drill or screwdriver to insert screws in the wall anchor, if you're using one. A tape measure makes it easier to calculate the right spot for hanging. A sturdy wire for the back of your frame is optional (see #2). And the best way to ensure your picture will be level is to, well, use a level. “A level is a basic tool everyone should have,” Wheeler says. “If you own a hammer, you should own a level.”


Wheeler says you should play around with the height at which you plan on installing the frame: “As a general rule, eye level should land within the bottom half of the frame,” she says.

From a designer’s perspective, Wheeler finds people often choose pictures that are either too big or too small in proportion to the wall area. “You want the picture to have some space to 'breathe,' so to speak, meaning a wall large enough that it doesn’t feel as though the picture is overcrowding the wall," she says. "On the flip side, you also don’t want a picture to look completely lost on a big wall."

She adds, "Proportion is important, but there’s no specific ratio" of picture size to wall area that could be considered a rule of thumb. Ultimately, you're the best judge of your space.


Place the frame against the wall where you want it to hang. "It’s a good idea to have someone with you to judge if it is in the right place," Taylor says. "Having a view of it in place before it’s 'fixed' to the wall will help you decide if it looks right."

After you've picked your spot, draw a short line with a pencil along the center of the frame's top edge as your reference line. If you're hanging a really large picture, get your assistant to hold it in place while you draw.


Lay the frame face-down on a flat surface. Place your wall fastener, such as the wall anchor or Command hook, in the appropriate hook tab or on the wire on the back of the frame and pull the wire taut. With a tape measure, measure the distance from the top edge of the frame to the center of the fastener.


Now back to the wall: Measure the same distance from the center of your penciled reference line down. Mark that spot with your pencil: That's where you're going to install your fastener.

If you're not using a wall anchor, simply affix an adhesive hook, hammer in a nail, or insert a Monkey Hook.

To install an anchor, drill a hole into the wall at the penciled point with a screw that is narrower than the anchor itself. (You don't want the anchor to be too loose in the wall.) Don't screw it too tightly. Next, reverse the drill's direction and pull the screw out. Insert the anchor, hammering it flush against the wall. Finally, drill the screw into the anchor—this action makes the anchor expand slightly and press against the drywall's innards, creating a more secure fit. Be sure to leave a bit of space between the screw's head and the wall so the picture's wire can be hooked over the screw. Hang the picture.


To make sure your picture is straight, rest the level along the top of the frame, against the wall. Then, adjust until the air bubble within the small tube of water is in the center of the tube, which indicates that the bar is parallel to the floor—and, therefore, that your picture is level.

Taylor says that not using a level and assuming the hanging hardware is set evenly on the back of a frame are the two biggest mistakes he sees people make. Pros often use laser levels, but Taylor says a water level will work just as well for most people.

Need some inspirations to get started? Consider hanging a few classic movie posters, printed patents for famed inventions, or a guide to cats.

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Smart Home Devices Are Easy to Hack. Here's How to Protect Yourself

Alexa randomly laughing at us might be the least of our smart technology concerns. The latest bad news about smart home devices is that they're easy to hack, according to a team of researchers who did just that to prove these gadgets have serious security issues.

Off-the-shelf home security cameras, baby monitors, doorbells, and thermostats were among the devices hacked by cyber researchers at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel as part of ongoing research into detecting vulnerabilities in smart home technology. Once they broke in, researchers were able to play loud music through a baby monitor, turn on a camera remotely, and more.

"It is truly frightening how easily a criminal, voyeur, or pedophile can take over these devices," Yossi Oren, a senior lecturer in BGU's Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering, said in a press statement. According to Omer Shwartz, a Ph.D. student and member of Oren's lab, "It only took 30 minutes to find passwords for most of the devices, and some of them were found only through a Google search of the brand."

In a recently published paper, BGU researchers identified ways that both manufacturers and users leave their tech open to hackers. Many products come with common, easy-to-guess default passwords, which consumers then don't change, making it easy for hackers to break in. Cybercriminals can also gain access to entire wifi networks just by retrieving the password stored on one device. "It seems getting [smart] products to market at an attractive price is often more important than securing them properly," Oren said.

According to BGU researchers, you can protect yourself from being hacked by only buying from reputable manufacturers and vendors. And although it's tempting to get your device used to save money, secondhand tech might have malware installed. Keep your software updated regularly, and, as always, use strong passwords. The team at BGU recommends choosing a password with a minimum of 16 letters and not using the same password for more than one device.


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