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Supermarket Cashier Finds WWII Love Letter in Lost and Found

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While sorting through junk mail and coupons destined for the shredder, a cashier at an Asda supermarket in England made an extraordinary discovery. Shuffled in with the papers in the store’s lost and found bin was an envelope date-stamped 1945. Stacie Adamson saved the parcel when she realized it had been written during World War II, and now she’s on a mission to return it to the original owner, Manchester Evening News reports.

The love letter was sent by a British woman named Dorothy to her sweetheart, Harry Hughes, while he was stationed in what is now Sri Lanka as a pilot for the Royal Air Force. In the message, Dorothy writes of voting in the General Election earlier that day and about her dreams of marrying Harry when he returns home.

Jump forward 71 years later, and the romantic memento somehow ended up in the lost property bin of the Greater Manchester Asda. The store workers aren’t sure how it got there, but they’ve since turned to Facebook to spread the story.

Thanks to some online sleuthing, Adamson was able to track down old footage of the same Harry Hughes mentioned in the letter. The video belongs to a series titled Calling Blighty, which was filmed in India and Southeast Asia during the war. You can visit this link to watch Harry give a shout-out to his mom, dad, and his girl Dorothy back home.

Adamson reached out to the website that posted the video and they’ve agreed to join her search for Harry or someone close to him. She said in a news statement from Asda, “My ultimate goal is to hand the letter back in person to Harry—that would be absolutely amazing. If that isn’t possible, giving it to a member of his family would be the next best thing.”

[h/t Manchester Evening News]

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Aflac's Robotic Duck Comforts Kids with Cancer
Aflac
Aflac

Every year, close to 16,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer. That news can be the beginning of a long and draining battle that forces kids and their parents to spend large amounts of time with medical providers, enduring long and sometimes painful treatments. As The Verge reports, a bit of emotional support during that process might soon come from an unlikely source: the Alfac duck.

The supplemental insurance company announced at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that it has partnered with the medical robotics company Sproutel to design and manufacture My Special Aflac Duck, a responsive and emotive sim-bird intended exclusively for children undergoing cancer treatment.

When a child cuddles the fuzzy robotic duck, it can cuddle back. It reacts to being cradled and stroked by quacking or moving its head. Kids can also touch special RFID chips emblazoned with emoji on the duck's chest to tell it how they’re feeling, and the device will mimic those emotions.

But the duck isn’t solely for cuddling. In “IV Mode,” which can be switched on while a child is undergoing IV therapy, the duck can help the user relax by guiding them through breathing exercises. Accessories included with the toy also allow children to "draw blood" from the duck as well as administer medication, a kind of role-playing that may help patients feel more comfortable with their own treatments.

Aflac approached Sproutel with the idea after seeing Sproutel’s Jerry the Bear, a social companion robot intended to support kids with diabetes. Other robotic companions—like the Japanese-made seal Paro and Hasbro's Joy for All companion pets for seniors—have hinted at a new market for robotics that prioritize comfort over entertainment or play.

My Special Aflac Duck isn’t a commercial product and won’t be available for retail sale. Aflac intends to offer it as a gift directly to patients, with the first rollout expected at its own cancer treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia. Mass distribution is planned for later this year.

[h/t The Verge]

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Animals
Want to Recycle Your Christmas Tree? Feed It to an Elephant
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

When the holiday season finally comes to a close, people get creative with the surplus of dead Christmas trees. One San Francisco-based artist transformed brittle shrubs into hanging installation pieces. Others use pine needles for mulch, or repurpose trees into bird sanctuaries. For the average person, sticking it into a wood chipper or "treecycling" it as part of a community program are all eco-friendly ways to say goodbye to this year's Douglas fir. None of these solutions, however, are as cute as the waste-cutting strategy employed by some zoos around the world: giving them to elephants.

Each year, zookeepers at Tierpark Berlin—a facility that bills itself as “Europe’s largest adventure animal park”—feed the elephants unsold pine trees. The plants are reportedly pesticide-free, and they serve as a good (albeit prickly) supplement to the pachyderms' usual winter diets.

A bit closer to home, the residents of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee rely on local residents to take part in their annual Christmas Tree Drive. In addition to being nutrient-rich, the tree's needles are said to help aid in an elephant's digestion. But beyond all that, it's pretty adorable to watch.

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