Meet Betty Reid Soskin, the Country's Oldest Park Ranger

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There’s no age limit for enjoying the outdoors, switching careers, or speaking out against injustice—and Betty Reid Soskin is living proof. As Travel + Leisure reports, the 96-year-old California resident is the nation’s oldest active national park ranger, a late-in-life vocation she embarked on just over a decade ago.

Soskin, who originally hails from Detroit, works at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. The national park preserves the history of the U.S. home front during World War II, including the businesses, innovations, and people that helped make victory possible. (Richmond was once home to more than 56 different war industries.)

Today, Soskin gives interpretive tours of the park. But long ago, she worked as a World War II file clerk for the all-black Boilermakers A-36. Soskin—the great-granddaughter of a freed slave—gained local prominence as an activist, and fame as a songwriter, during the Civil Rights Movement. But history ended up being just as important to Soskin as current political events when she served as a consultant with the National Park Service for the Rosie the Riveter Park in the early 2000s.

Soskin was the only person of color at the planning table, according to NPR. She ensured that the historic park didn’t erase memories of the segregation that had once existed at factories and shipyards, as doing so would also erase the history of the area’s African-American population.

Word of Soskin and her activist efforts spread, especially when she publicly denounced the 2013 federal funding crisis. In 2015 she was formally recognized by President Barack Obama, who gave her a silver coin with the presidential seal. Sadly, Soskin’s presidential coin was stolen in 2016 in a violent home invasion, but she returned to work three weeks after the attack, saying in a press conference that she “wanted to get back into routine life.”

Fans of Soskin can keep up with her via her blog, where she’s written about her life and job since 2003. You can also learn more about her, in her own words, in the video below.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The Federal Government Is Organizing a Task Force to Examine UFO Sightings—Because Aliens

No word yet on whether Amy Adams will be a member of the task force.
No word yet on whether Amy Adams will be a member of the task force.
maxime raynal, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Earlier this year, the Pentagon released three videos that show unidentified flying objects—yes, UFOs—spotted by military aircraft near U.S. coastlines. Though they’re officially calling them “Unmanned Aerial Systems” (UAS), which essentially translates to drones, the message is clear: nobody knows what they are or where they came from.

This week, two unnamed officials in the U.S. Department of Defense told CNN that the Pentagon is organizing a task force to get to the bottom of the mystery (and other similar sightings). All we know so far is that Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist will be one of its leaders, and the Pentagon is supposed to officially reveal the new organization sometime in the next few days.

Hazard reports for the three sightings disclosed that two of the UAS were white, and they were all visually similar to drones. One of the reasons it’s so important to investigate them is that the random appearance of an unpredictable aircraft poses a threat to U.S. military personnel.

“I feel it may only be a matter of time before one of our F/A-18 aircraft has a mid-air collision with an unidentified UAS,” one official explained in the report.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of national security; naturally, the Department of Defense wants to know if other countries are developing new surveillance technology or even weaponry that’s hovering over U.S. soil.

And, finally, everybody wants to know if aliens have finally landed on Earth. This is far from the government’s first endeavor to find out. In 2007, the Pentagon launched its most recent classified program (that we know of) to study UFO activity, which ran until 2012. The details of their investigation are still under wraps, but program head Luis Elizondo told CNN in 2017 that they “found a lot.”

“My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone,” he said.

While you’re waiting for the Pentagon to debut its shiny new task force, amuse yourself with 12 wild UFO stories from history.

[h/t CNN]