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Fifth Grader Contacts the Police for Help—With Her Math Homework

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Members of Ohio's Marion Police Department recently went above and beyond the call of duty, brushing up on their elementary school math skills in the process to help a fifth-grader with her homework.

As ABC News reports, 10-year-old Lena Draper was stymied by problems that involved a combination of addition and multiplication, so she sought assistance on the local police department’s Facebook page. The student left a message, along with a few questions that left her scratching her head, including “(8 + 29) x 15.”

The police messaged Draper back, and briefly explained the mathematical order of operations to her (refresher: PEMDAS, which stands for "parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction"). “Do the numbers in the parenthesis first so in essence it would be 37 x 15,” they instructed. Draper followed up with a more difficult question—"(90 + 27) + (29 + 15) x 2"—and the officers gave her additional help.

While their hearts were in the right place, their numbers weren’t: Draper ended up getting the second problem wrong, her mother later noted, as her math mentors mistakenly instructed her to solve the addition problems in both parentheses, and to multiply that answer by two. (Instead, she should have added the numbers in the second parentheses, multiplied that answer by two, and then added the result to the numbers in the first parentheses.)

The jury’s still out on how Draper did on her homework overall, but the Marion PD received props for their willingness to assist with community issues big and small. They received the praise with modesty, and in a Facebook statement, explained that they try to give back to the community in whatever way they can. This type of incident is “really just who we are as a Police Department," the statement noted. "We are deeply connected with our wonderful citizens and they are incredibly supportive of their Police.”

“We really wondered what first made this child think to call upon us for help with homework,” the Marion PD continued. “We don't mind and it's not unheard of but still pretty rare. I believe the answer is simple ... she was made to believe that we are good people who are worthy of her trust and who will be there for her in a pinch. That kind of thing does not happen by accident.”

You can hear an account of the story in Lena's own words below, courtesy of Inside Edition.

[h/t ABC News]

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Animals
Orlando Animal Shelter Sorts Dogs Into Hogwarts Houses

Harry is a Gryffindor. Draco is a Slytherin. But what is Fido? An Orlando, Florida animal shelter’s sorting ceremony will decide. As The Dodo alerts us, the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando has started sorting its adoptable dogs into Hogwarts houses to make it easier for potential adopters to get a sense of their personalities.

For lack of a magic hat, the shelter came up with a test to sort dogs based on their behavior. According to the Pet Alliance:

For example, a dog who takes to learning obedience cues or quickly figures out a puzzle has the KNOWLEDGE of a Ravenclaw. A small dog who has the determination to climb the agility A-Frame possesses the AMBITION of Slytherin house. Our affectionate happy-to-know-you dogs embody the FRIENDLINESS of a Hufflepuff, and a dog who embraces change and new things has the BRAVERY known to all Gryffindors.

A banner labelled “Pawgwarts” shows the Hogwarts houses’ arms with dog silhouettes on them.

Once they’re sorted, the dogs get a banner for their cage that announces their respective house. (Not a lot of dogs are Ravenclaws, which I guess means that puzzle toy is really hard.) The fun promotion has brought in plenty of adopters looking to add a new canine wizard to their own house.

"For many guests visiting our shelter, there is an instant recognition for our 'Pawgwarts Houses,' based on the overwhelming popularity of the book series," Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando communications manager Stephen O'Neal tells Mental Floss. "People come in knowing what their personal house is and are so enthusiastic about our Potter-inspired sorting process." The sorting quiz on the shelter's website has been taken more than 30,000 times, he says.

A sign with a badger printed on it reads "Hufflepuff House Values."

Besides being a very social media-friendly way to advertise dogs, the sorting is a helpful way to show off a dog’s personality traits while avoiding any talk of breed. Since DNA research shows that a huge number of dogs in shelters are labeled as the wrong breed—particularly dogs labeled as pit bulls—the Pet Alliance has stopped listing breeds altogether. And Hogwarts houses describe how a dog acts instead of what its parents looked like, making them far more useful for finding the perfect new pet. At least for Harry Potter fans.

Most of the shelter's cats haven't been sorted (probably because most cats refuse to wear cute clothes) but Cody, at least, deigned to wear his Hufflepuff scarf.

[h/t The Dodo]

All images by Art Faulkner, courtesy Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

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Food
This Couple Has Spent the Past 30 Years Visiting Every Cracker Barrel in the U.S.

Ray and Wilma Yoder are probably America's foremost amateur experts on Cracker Barrel restaurants. As Eater reports, the Indiana couple is on a 30-year quest to eat at every single Cracker Barrel in the U.S. And they’ve almost completed it.

Ray Yoder of Goshen, Indiana, first started going to Cracker Barrel regularly when he worked delivering RVs across the country. Soon, Wilma was coming along, too, and the couple began hunting down Cracker Barrel locations in earnest, a pastime they’ve pursued for the past three decades.

Cracker Barrel got its start in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1969, and according to Ray, visiting the restaurants while on the road felt like being at home. “It has a down-home spirit, and everybody is friendly,” he told the Lebanon Democrat. He told the paper that stopping at Cracker Barrels helped relieve boredom when he was on the road.

Ray and Wilma Yoder stand in front of two RVs outside a Cracker Barrel.

Now, he and Wilma are celebrities to those in the Cracker Barrel know. Cracker Barrel’s corporate leadership invites them to opening day at new stores. Employees know of them, and sometimes they receive gift baskets when they come in to cross a new Cracker Barrel off their list. People ask to take their picture when they visit.

The 80-year-olds have just two rules for their visits: At each location, they always buy something, even if it’s just a cup of coffee, and leave a tip. There’s no limit on how many Cracker Barrels they’ll go to in a single day, though. They once visited 10 different locations on a drive along the East Coast. Overall, their Cracker Barrel adventure has taken them more than 5 million miles across 44 states.

The Yoders recently visited their 644th Cracker Barrel, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new location in Lavonia, Georgia, in early July. They’re hoping to hit up the last Cracker Barrel on their list—until the next one opens, that is—by heading to Tualatin, Oregon, sometime later this year.

Update: Portland news station KGW reports that the Yoders have now completed their quest, stopping in at the Tualatin Cracker Barrel on August 28. The company flew them to Oregon for the occasion, which marked the end of their 645-restaurant journey. For now, at least.

[h/t Eater]

All images courtesy Cracker Barrel

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