Former NASA Engineer Mark Rober Shares Moving Video About Son With Autism

Mark Rober discusses son with autism
(YouTube/Mark Rober)

In more ways than one, Mark Rober is a freaking genius. He worked as an engineer for NASA for almost a decade, loaned his talents to Apple for over five years, and then turned his attention to projects he wanted to pursue personally. If you’re new to the well-practiced prankster’s YouTube channel, you’re in for one mind-blowing treat. Rober covers everything from myth-busting to creative anti-theft devices, but for the first time, Rober gave us a touching personal look into his life as a father.

For over eight years of video-making, Rober’s YouTube channel has focused entirely on his love of science and technology. In fact, many of his 18.1 million subscribers probably didn’t even realize he was a father. In his recent video titled “The Truth About my Son,” Rober shares a bit about why he’s so protective of his 12-year-old – and two years after filming the poignant video, he’s ready to tell the world.

“I’m fairly private and protective when it comes to my family on my channel,” Rober begins. “The reason I’m so protective of him is because he has special needs. He’s on the autistic spectrum, and this is the internet. So even as I make this video, I’m incredibly terrified – but this is something that my wife and I feel really strongly about.”

In addition to sharing his love of fatherhood with the world, Rober aimed to dispel some common misconceptions about autism in his video. Rober discusses the false belief that every person with autism has some sort of savant-like skill or ability, and explains why people with autism are vulnerable to frequent sensory overload. Rober discusses the importance of schedules and routines in his son’s life, both of which help reduce anxiety.

“As a dad, his love of repetition is the best because my same jokes totally kill every time,” he laughs.

The proud dad goes on to share a unique way his son spends some of his free time, an ongoing project that delights those around him. When meeting new people, Rober’s son asks a few important questions before writing his new acquaintance a letter. One side is covered entirely in marker, whatever color the person listed as their favorite, while the other side contains a sweet letter which his parents dutifully mail to the note’s subject.

“His biggest thrill is interacting with others,” Rober explains. “His ‘superpower’ is making other people happy.”

The conclusion to Rober’s heartwarming video challenges the traditional view of success, driving home the idea that getting good grades and bringing home a paycheck don’t equal a life well-lived. Instead, Rober explains, success means leaving the world better than you found it.

“By the best definition of success I can think of, him and his special needs buddies and everyone out there like them are giants living amongst us mere mortals. They make the world a better place,” he says as his voice shakes with emotion, “and we’re lucky to have them.”

Watch Mark Rober and Jimmy Kimmel as they team up with celebrities like Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Mark Hamill, Paul Rudd, and many more for a livestream event benefiting NEXT for Autism. The Color the Spectrum even will take place on April 30 at 4:30 p.m. PST on YouTube.

Paws Whatever You’re Doing, The Golden Retriever Experience Is Open Fur Business

Soak up some puppy love at the Golden Retriever Experience
(Instagram/thegoldenretrieverexperience)

Adopting a dog is an enormous responsibility, one that unfortunately isn’t feasible for everyone. During the beginning of quarantine, people flocked to adopt animals before realizing their pre-COVID lifestyle wasn’t necessarily compatible with pets. As a result, shelters were flooded with animals once people returned to work – a sad situation to be sure, and one that the Golden Retriever Experience (GRE) is trying to mitigate.

Located in the English West Somerset district lies every dog lover’s dream – a haven filled with a pack of trained golden retrievers who eagerly await their many visitors. Nicolas Grant-St James and his daughter Lauren would do anything for their dogs, but after realizing not everyone had the opportunity to own dogs themselves, they set out on a journey to fill that void.

Nicolas is known as the UK’s dog whisperer, and his passion for understanding and training dogs was fundamental to the GRE’s early days. Initially, the duo formed a training program to help others understand dog psychology as well as train their canine companions. Their own pack of Golden Retrievers helped clients work through the training process, and understandably, the pups quickly stole the show.

With encouragement from friends and clients alike, the father-daughter duo opened their very own “Disneyland for Dogs” in 2017, a place where everyone is welcome to soak up all the puppy love they could possibly want.

“The GRE has been built on the life-long love and dedication we’ve felt, and continue to feel, for the countless Golden Retrievers that have graced our lives,” the GRE’s website explains. “It is this love that we want to share with the world, especially those who aren’t fortunate enough to own a dog themselves, by inviting people to join our incredible pack of goldies for some much-needed doggy cuddles.”

The fluffy getaway even welcomes dog-friendly pups to visit with their owners, making the whole experience a family affair. Accommodations for guests with disabilities are also available, ensuring the park is open to any and all dog lovers. If you find yourself desperately missing some canine companionship, there may be no better place than this slobbery safe haven.

Father Figures: Just Us Guys

“Ever since I can remember, my dad has always given me everything I’ve ever wanted.

That may sound like I’m gloating but I’m really not. I think it shows the never ending love he has for his son.

My mother passed when I was 9 years old, after that it was just him and I for a while. Just us guys.

I’ll never forget eating Papa John’s pizza every Monday night watching WWE RAW. I am still a big fan to this day and he is a big reason for that.

I love you, Dad.”

– Chase Brooks

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Columbia Pictures’s Aquaverse in Thailand Will Feature Movie-Themed Rides and Attractions

Columbia Pictures Aquaverse opening in 2021
(Facebook/Columbia Pictures Aquaverse)

Few things feel better than fully immersing yourself in your favorite movies, escaping the real world for a while and embracing another reality entirely. While escapism through movies, TV shows, video games, and books is something we’ve relied upon heavily over the years, some of our favorite franchises are inviting us to take things a step further. Last year we learned about Super Nintendo World, a theme park with a Disney World feel but filled with all things Nintendo. Now, Columbia Pictures is following suit with a water park based around some of our very favorite movies.

The newly-announced Aquaverse water park is coming to Thailand thanks to Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amazon Falls. Rather than building the entire thing from the ground up, an existing Bangsaray water park is being given a real-life movie makeover.

Though other parks such as Universal Studios in Orlando have attractions based on movies from Sony-owned Columbia Pictures, Aquaverse will be the first to draw all of its inspiration from the production company’s films.

“We are creating opportunities for all audiences around the world to immerse themselves deeper into our stories through water parks, touring exhibitions, and theme park attractions,” Jeffrey Godsick, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s executive VP of global partnerships and brand management and head of location-based entertainment told Variety.

The park is set to open this coming October and will include both land and water attractions for the ultimate wave of family fun. Here’s just a preview of what you can expect from the one and only Aquaverse, courtesy of Variety:

A Men in Black water coaster includes a 12-meter free-fall, a fully-enclosed Ghostbusters-themed water dome where you can dodge ghost traps via raft, an outdoor neon Bad Boys-inspired go-kart track, and even a Jumanji jungle adventure.

You’ll also encounter rides and attractions inspired by classics like Surf’s Up and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to round out your movie-magic adventure. With nearly six months to go before the park opens, you have time to watch them all again before diving in IRL.

Disney’s Immersive Star Wars Resort Features Real Lightsaber

Rey holding a new Disney lightsaber
(Slashfilm)

Before the pandemic hit, Disney’s Star Wars themed park, Galaxy’s Edge had just opened, and promised to give visitors a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s so much like being in a Star Wars movie, one dad and his kid even filmed their own in between rides. But, then the park closed along with the rest of the world, and we’ve had to wait a whole year to spend way too much money pretending to be a Jedi Knight.

But not anymore! For May (the) 4th (be with you), the unofficial “Star Wars Day” Disney didn’t miss the opportunity to hype their newest draw to Galaxy’s Edge, Their Galactic Starcruiser… hotel? Ride? LARPing Convention?  It seems like it’s all that wrapped into one, and next summer, promises an even more immersive experience, complete with this:

Reportedly that’s not a camera trick. That’s a new kind of lightsaber -an apparently real one, created by Walt Disney Imagineering Research and Development for the Starcruiser experience. No word on if it can cut and cauterize wounds. But otherwise, during a stay on the Starcruiser, passengers will board a pod and “travel” to the Halcyon, the Galactic Starcruiser that will be their home/hotel for the 2-night adventure.

The Disney blog describes the whole experience, which sounds like living in a Star Wars movie, complete with familiar characters,  lightsaber training, secret missions and some terrible musical numbers courtesy of George Lucas’s refusal to stop messing with success.

According to the Disney blog, “This isn’t storytelling – it’s storyliving, where you’ll see, feel and live Star Wars in a whole new way.” It’s also story-goingbroke, as I’m sure you’d have to rob Jabba the Hutt to afford it.

James Vanderbeek Opens Up About the Pain of Miscarriage

Vanderbeek Opens Up About the Pain of Miscarriage
(Instagram/vanderjames)

In recent years, society has been making big strides in destigmatizing mental health issues, especially when it comes to men. Traditionally, men have a harder time being open and honest about their struggles, despite the fact that we often struggle as much as women.

One particular area that men are becoming more open about is the pain of losing a child through a miscarriage. Most of the time, the sympathy is with the woman who was carrying the baby, but the pain of a miscarriage is not isolated to that potential mom. Dads feel it too, and it’s time we acknowledge that.

Nothing does more to help legitimize this reality than when men who’ve experienced such loss speak out, especially men in the public eye, who have a platform not all of us do. One such man is James Vanderbeek, the actor and former star of Dawson’s Creek.

Vanderbeek has 5 children with his wife, ranging from 9 years old to just one, and they were trying for another when they lost the baby. Late last year Vanderbeek took to his Instagram to discuss the pain of the loss, and to explain how and why he told his children about it.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by James Van Der Beek (@vanderjames)

“One year ago today, I had to explain to my then 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 year-old a late-term #pregnancyloss while @vanderkimberly was still in the hospital,” Van Der Beek wrote. “I’m not sure there’s any one way to do it, since every kid is so different – one bawled immediately, one had questions, one tried to make jokes, one tried to avoid by acting crazy.”

In the video he posted, he shows himself answering his daughter’s questions about their loss, which was the 5th miscarriage they’d suffered over the past nine years.

His wife, Kimberly, also posted about the loss on her IG.

It can be understated how devastating these losses are, for both men and women, nor how brave James and his wife Kimberly are for sharing their grief with the world.

Hopefully, their openness and honesty will help others feel less alone.

5-Yr-Old Uses Make-a-Wish Request To Help Hospitalized Kids Sleep Comfortably

5-year-old uses wish to buy comfortable sheets for hospitalized kids
(YouTube/FOX 2 St. Louis)

The Make-A-Wish Foundation has been granting wishes to critically ill children for over 40 years, creating lasting memories for families who truly need them. Most kids wish for experiences – visiting theme parks, meeting their favorite celebrities, about half of all Make-A-Wish requests even involve Disney in one way or another. When you present a kid with seemingly endless possibilities, the vast majority zero in on things they want for themselves – but 5-year-old Grayson Nunley is not your average Make-A-Wish recipient.

Grayson was recently hospitalized for nearly three weeks due to his battle with leukemia, but the quiet warrior isn’t one to complain. Fortunately, the 5-year-old is nearly finished with his weekly treatments and doctors are hopeful that he’ll be able to ring the “chemo bell” within the year signifying the end of his chemotherapy.

Grayson’s mom, Ann Nunley, was recently approached by the Make-A-Wish Foundation who extended an offer to her young son. Though Nunley previously believed wishes were reserved for terminally ill children, the life-changing foundation uses medical criteria to determine eligibility. Once Make-A-Wish confirmed Grayson was in fact eligible, Nunley explained the possibilities and asked the 5-year-old what he wanted to request.

A world full of possibilities in front of him, but Grayson knew exactly what he wanted almost immediately: he wanted to use his wish to make life more comfortable for other kids in the hospital. Rather than take a trip to Disney World or split a pizza with his favorite celebrity, Grayson chose to give cozy sheets to every kid in the hospital.

Likely recalling his own time in the clinical rooms, nearly three weeks of sleeping in the hospital-grade sheets, Grayson wanted to make sure the kids who aren’t yet lucky enough to go home have a more pleasant stay.

“He understands the wish could be for him. He knows and understands how important it is to give back,” Ann told FOX 8. “We’ve asked him a million times if this is what he wanted to do and that he’s happy and that’s what he wanted to do.”

Move Over Air Bud, Dog Jumps Into High School Track Meet and Wins

Dog Wins Track Meet
(YouTube/KSL News)

Air Bud flew so this track bud could run. A high school track meet got escalated to the next level when a dog ran onto the track and joined in a 4×200 meter relay. It happened during a high school track meet in Utah and in the final leg of the race, a dog comes out of nowhere to enter the fray.

And this dog doesn’t just run around aimlessly. This dog starts to BOOK. He soars down the track, catches the leader, and in a photo finish, beats out high schooler Gracie Laney to earn the major victory for canines everywhere. Just an incredible flex by this dog.

The dog even wins over the crowd, which begins to go crazy as she gains steam towards the end. Laney said she couldn’t believe she lost to a dog and started to run faster because she thought the dog was the runner behind her. Nope, instead, it was just Holly, the Goldendoodle who had gotten away from her owners so she could show the world what she was capable of.

“I honestly am just glad that we didn’t get hurt,” the human who *technically* won the race said. “It’s a fun experience.”

If this proves anything, it’s that high school sports are WAY more fun to watch when a dog is allowed to compete.

Parrot and Puppy Go Viral on Tik Tok Because Animal Friendships Rule

Parrot and Puppy Friends
(TikTok/TheParrotLady)

Sometimes you’re having the type of day where you just need to see animals doing stuff.  Whether it’s dogs delivering beers, or a special needs puppy finding a forever home,  or just the classic “Dad who didn’t want a pet falls in love with new pet” routine, pet content gets a lot of people through a lot of days.

And if Tik Tok is good for anything, it’s an extremely efficient delivery system for this feel-good content. To make things the internet will enjoy, a good starting formula is “anything, + a puppy.”  In this case, its’ a runaway hit, as the viral video of a parrot meeting a puppy and saying “I love you” has had nearly 40 million views on Tik Tok.

Idaho pet owner Wendy Albright made a Tik Tok for her parrot Sweet Pea and quickly found some traction. But it wasn’t until Sweet Pea met Albright’s black lab puppy (see?) that things really took off.

@theparrotlady🥺 SP Meets Puppy #puppy #puppytiktok #fyp #lab #cute #cockatoo #parrot #baby #love♬ original sound – The Parrot Lady

Tens of millions of views later, she’s continued to churn out that sweet animal friendship content. There’s the parrot and puppy together after it gets a name (Copper).

@theparrotladyReply to @ne0nskyy This brought everything into a name for me! Thank you! 💕💕 ##puppy ##parrot ##baby ##love ##fyp ##foryou ##foryoupage ##lab ##puppies♬ original sound – The Parrot Lady

 

We even get more of the original hit, with more “I love you”s.

@theparrotladySuch pure love ❤️❤️❤️ ##puppy ##parrot ##baby ##lab ##fyp ##dogsoftiktok ##puppytiktok ##cockatoo ##cute ##truelove ##foryoupage♬ original sound – The Parrot Lady

Let’s face it; before this is all over, Sweet Pea and Copper should probably have a buddy-sitcom on Disney+. And your kids are going to watch it. Every. Single. Day. But that’s OK, because cute animals never disappoint.

Albright told a local news station why she thinks the pet duo became a social media sensation. “In this time we live in, people saw that video and just loved the unadulterated love of two animals just caring about each other,” she said.

Stranger Things Season 4 Trailer Has Major Shining Vibes

Teaser for Stranger Things 4
(YouTube/Movie Trailers Source)

Finally, after a long delay, Stranger Things is coming back.

It has been nearly two years since season 3’s summer of Strange, and now that the world is opening up again, Netflix is getting ready to bring the show back. The last time we saw the kids from Hawkins, Indiana, they were getting split up, with Eleven moving out of town with the Byers family after Chief Hopper sacrificed his life (not quite) to save them, leaving boyfriend Mike and the rest of the gang behind.

Since then we’ve learned that Hopper is alive, somewhere in Russia, and that the show will leave Indiana, and the U.S. to track the fourth season’s storyline. We may delve into Hopper’s past, and judging by the new teaser, which brings back Eleven’s sinister “dad,” Matthew Modine, Eleven’s past as well. The season will also reportedly feature Robert “Freddy Kruger” Englund in an unknown role.

They’ve just released a new teaser trailer for the new season, and while the star of the Nightmare on Elm Street series may be a part of the cast, the teaser gives off major Shining vibes, showcasing what seems to be the hospital or lab where Eleven was “created.”

Season 4 won’t drop until 2022, and this intense trailer won’t make that wait any easier.