A flash mob wedding proposal in Baltimore

Today's proposals aren't like the old days.  So it should be no surprise that when a boy wants to propose to his best girl, he might want to pop the question with a little pizzazz.  Enter Albert Smith and his flash mob marriage proposal.



A beautiful young girl walks down Thames Street in Fells Point, tricked into being on camera. As she walks, the Turtles’ classic love song, “Happy Together,” blares on a boom box behind her. People holding up homemade props pop out around the corner. Waiting at the end of the street is a handsome boy with a ring.




Sounds like a John Cusack movie being shot in Baltimore right?




Turns out it’s an elaborate flash mob wedding proposal staged by Albert Smith for his girlfriend, Lauren Hutcheson.




“I knew when I wanted to purpose to Lauren, I wanted to do something with music,” Smith said. “I knew it had to be bold, it had to be creative. So I tried to figure out how to do that and I settled on a flash mob proposal music video. It would make a really great story and she would be excited to retell the story for years to come.”




In November, Smith started coming up with ideas. He and Hutchenson had been dating for a little over two years and Smith knew she was “the one.” He decided on the flash mob proposal over his other ideas, and it took him another week to find the perfect song, The Turtles’ “Happy Together.”




“Believe it or not, I grew up listening to that song,” Smith said. “It’s one of my favorite songs. I grew up singing it and honestly any time that song came on I thought about singing it to my future wife some day.”




In late December, Smith recruited friend Jason Denney and they began working out details for a flash mob proposal. They invited friends and friends of friends to help with the “mob” aspect of it. There were 40-plus people who showed up, Smith said.




After two test runs, Smith was ready for his March proposal.




“I didn’t want it to feel so rehearsed or so perfect, that it would feel stale,” Smith said. “We wanted the fun and the chaos of the moment.”




Meanwhile, Hutcheson had no idea that her boyfriend was proposing. She had just finished band practice when Denney approached her about being in a video project filming people walking down Thames Street.




“If anyone else had asked that, I wouldn’t think that’s real,” Hutcheson said. “But because it was Jason, I did it. He likes to do random stuff like that. But it was kinda odd that they asked me to walk first.”




At first she felt a little awkward, Hutcheson recalled, as the “filmmakers” followed her down the street with cameras.




“When the music started playing, it took me a good 15-20 seconds for it to set in … this was a love song. I know this song. I like this song,” said Hutcheson, pleasantly surprised that this would turn into a proposal, when friends popped out along the way with props.




Smith met her at the end of the street with a crowd.




“When I realized what was happening, I zoned in on Albert,” Hutcheson said. ” We had that moment. Time stood still, I know that’s cliché but it did. I think it was really nice of him to think those kinds of details through.”




Among the reactions to the couple’s proposal story, perhaps one of their most favorite comes from Smith’s dad.




“My dad actually wanted to fly up here to see it,” Smith said, “the first thing he said was ‘we didn’t do things like this when I was your age.’”




The couple plans to wed on Sept. 22nd.






Baksh, Stokely. "So Happy Together: A flash mob wedding proposal in Baltimore". Baltimore Sun. 15 May 2012. Web. 

View original article at baltimoresun.com:



Endangered poison dart frog gets sanctuary in Colombia

The golden poison dart frog, which is arguably the world's most poisonous animal, is now residing in the first ever sanctuary established to save the deadly, yet endangered, amphibian.

The poison of this frog is so toxic that even coming into contact with a paper towel that has touched the frog can be fatal. A single 2-inch-long frog has enough poison to kill 10 adult people within minutes.

"Death by frog," in this case, is pretty horrific too. Its bright orange skin is covered by a secretion of deadly alkaloid poison (batrachotoxins). The toxin prevents nerves from transmitting impulses, leaving muscles in a constant state of contraction, leading to heart failure. Death comes within minutes.

So why save it, you might ask.

The frog has its place in the ecosystem. Our ancestors somehow managed to use the poison for hunting, maybe permitting their own survival. It just uses the poison for defense. And, you have to admit, the frog is pretty cool, in a James Bond-weapon kind of way.

As journalist Simon Barnes wrote in The Times of London newspaper in September 2011: "Astonishing: we are on the edge of wiping out one of the most extraordinary and thrilling creatures on the planet. No matter how well a creature is protected by nature and by evolution, it is always vulnerable to humans. There's nothing we can't do when we put our minds to it. Still, at least we are now beginning to put our minds to saving the golden poison frog: we would all be much poorer without such a creature to give us nightmares."

The new sanctuary for the frog, located along the Pacific coast of western Colombia, will also provide refuge for several key bird species, including the endangered baudó guan, a medium-sized game fowl whose worldwide population is estimated at 10,000-20,000 individuals; the vulnerable brown wood-rail, a medium-sized, mostly rufous-brown rail whose population is estimated to be between only 1,000 and 2,500 individuals; and the vulnerable great curassow, a large, pheasant-like bird whose population is estimated to be between 10,000 and 60,000 individuals.

The new sanctuary, consisting of 124 areas of threatened Chocó forest, is named the Rana Terribilis Amphibian Reserve. That comes from the Spanish word for frog -- rana -- and the frog's Latin name,Phyllobates terribilis.

The land, in one of the planet's wettest tropical rainforests, was purchased with the help of the World Land TrustAmerican Bird Conservancy and Global Wildlife Conservation. The reserve is owned and managed by Fundación ProAves, Colombia’s leading conservation organization. This is the second amphibian reserve owned by ProAves in Colombia; the first is the Ranita Dorada Reserve.

"The support from our partners made the creation of this critical new reserve possible, and one of the world's most amazing creatures, the beautiful and deadly golden poison frog, is now protected," Lina Daza, executive director of Fundación ProAves, said in a press release.

George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy, concluded, "We need to halt the continued, rapid disappearance of rainforests and the resultant loss of wildlife that depend on them."



Viegas, Jennifer. "DEADLY FROG GETS NEW SANCTUARY". Discovery News. 11 May 2012. Web. 

View original article at discovery.com:


Endangered Peregrine falcons hatch

For the 16th year in a row, the Mid-Hudson Bridge is home to newly hatched Peregrine falcons.


The chicks, known as eyas, are the 42nd, 43rd and 44th birds fledged from the nesting box on the bridge.


"It's an annual tradition," said Joseph Ruggiero, executive director of the state Bridge Authority. "We are fortunate that our facilities have been so successful in helping re-establish such a beautiful and important species."


The bridge authority hosts nesting boxes on each of its five Hudson River vehicle bridges. The boxes were installed in the late 1980s as part of an effort to restore the endangered Peregrine in the Hudson Valley.


The Peregrine is the fastest bird on the planet, soaring to heights of half a mile then diving at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. The top speed recorded for the falcon is 243.3 mph.


The northern-nesting bird are among North America's long-distance migratory species, traveling as much as 10,000 miles a year. Peregrines mate for life and usually return to the same nesting spot each year. The birds grow to about 15 to 21 inches long and have a wingspan of more than three feet. The name Peregrine means "wanderer."


The authority and state Department of Environmental Conservation provides live snapshots of the nest at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/53052.html.




Valdez, Chris. "Endangered Peregrine falcons hatch on Mid-Hudson Bridge" Poughkeepsie Journal. 11 May 2012. Web.

View original article at poughkeepsiejournal.com:


Tupac Hologram Surprises Fans

Attendees of the Coachella Music Festival (http://www.coachella.com/) were surprised (and some spooked :) when a very lifelike hologram of the deceased rapper, Tupac appeared on stage.  This was great news for Tupac fans who had the opportunity to experience a very real performance by one of the most popular artists of all time.

This "hologram" was actually not really a technical breakthrough or even a real hologram.  It was actually based off of what is called a "Pepper Ghost" effect which was created by John Henry Pepper in the 1800's! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepper's_ghost

It is a really neat effect which made many fans happy.  That's why this is good news.  It made fans happy and gave them an opportunity to "see" and artist that they would not normally have the opportunity of seeing.  This does brings some new questions to mind:


1.  Will the Tupac Pepper's Ghost go on tour?  

2.  Will more deceased artists go on stage? Bob Marley? Michael Jackson? Elvis? Whitney Houston? Jimi Hendrix?

3. Will other artists go on tour exclusively as holograms?


No matter what happens after this, it was still really wonderful for fans to "see" an artist that they never had the opportunity to see in person.


The video of this surprise performance is below.


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