A man in Texas is suing his date for texting during Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. The man is looking to be reimbursed for the price of his ticket: $17.31. I know, that’s way too much to pay for a movie, but it was in 3D afterall, which is generally a waste of money. The only good 3D movie I’ve ever seen is Harold and Kumar’s Very 3D Christmas.
Anyways, if we wanted to pay even more to see a movie, we could adapt a program where cell phones are locked up by the movie theater staff and can be picked up anytime during or after the movie. But since that’s not happening we all have to put up with people who don’t understand that the use of their phone bothers moviegoers because in a nearly pitch-black theater, a cell phone is like a road flare.
For me, as a film graduate, I find cell phone use during the feature completely disrespectful not only to your fellow moviegoers but to the filmmakers as well. If you’re not going to consider your fellow moviegoers as neighbors who are taking this visual and auditory adventure with you, consider how many people worked hard to bring you this entertainment you pay $17.31 to enjoy and escape your miserable life.
You millennials out there who are connected to your phone like an Army Ranger is to her rifle could benefit from powering down every once in awhile. Why would you want to indulge in your miserable life when the one on screen is so much more interesting? In the words of Tyler Durden, “You are not special. You are not beautiful or unique snowflakes. You are the same decaying, organic matter as everything else. You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.” So make like the rest of the courteous crap and shut off your damn cell phone during the film!
People texting during the feature brings me flashes of that scene from God Bless America where a man with nothing to lose and a high school girl with nothing to do shoot everyone being annoying during a movie and leave the person who wasn’t with, “Thanks for not talking during the feature. Thanks for turning off your cell phone.”
Now I’m not about to pull a Dark Knight premiere on people using their cell phones during a movie, but I will sternly ask them to shut off their cell phone immediately. If they continue to use their cell phone or talk during the feature, I will ask the usher to remove them and give me a refund for having to leave the theater during the movie for which I just paid $17.31.
If the usher isn’t willing to do either, I’ll speak with a manager who will. While movie theater owners don’t want to lose the millennials who think seeing a movie is a social event, they’d rather lose customers who aren’t interested enough in the film to turn off their cell phones than a regular moviegoer who is. It’s imperative that you let the manager know they’ll lose you as a customer if cell phone use during the movie isn’t addressed with no tolerance.
If I had it my way, I’d make it illegal to use cell phones or any technological device in a theater, and issue an insane fine, so if people do it once they never do it again. Actually, instead of a fine, make those people sacrifice a day of their lives to see what filmmakers go through to make the movies they disrespect. That could be up to 17 hours. My film school had to enact guidelines limiting the length of shooting days to 12 hours because one of my classmates was killed in a car accident after working 16 hours on a shoot. He fell asleep at the wheel, and they called it “12 hours on, 12 hours off,” meaning for every 12 hours on set or location you need 12 hours off set or location to rest. That’s not the case on most films.
There are few products that require the work of as many people as a feature film, and if you’re watching a film in English, there’s a good chance you’re supporting 1.9 million American jobs. So if you feel you need to message your friend during the feature like the Texas man’s date, I hope you get more than a lawsuit. I hope you’re never allowed in a theater again.
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The success of the Republican Party depends on certain people not voting, and now that the courts are striking down laws suppressing black votes with “surgical precision,” Conservatives need a new way to make sure they don’t vote. Enter Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission.
Donald Trump seems to think he won the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential Election due to illegal ballots. He did not. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School measures voter fraud, and incident rates of voter fraud are between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than come across someone impersonating a voter, and most instances of “voter fraud” are really just clerical error.
In order for Donald Trump to have won the popular vote, the voter fraud/clerical error rate must have increased nine times to .0222 percent given his 2.9 million popular vote deficit to Hillary Clinton. Of course, Donald Trump’s complete lack of evidence in support of his claim is no reason not to spend taxpayer dollars looking into voter fraud.
While it was reported by White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that the commission will look into voter fraud and voter suppression, the people Donald Trump is putting in charge of the commission have not shown an interest in voter suppression, but are obsessed with voter fraud despite it being nearly nonexistent.
Donald Trump’s new commission to investigate voter fraud is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, who cheered the actions of state police and the secretary of state's office to shutdown a major voter registration drive in Indiana. The vice chair of the election commission is Kris Kobach, who as secretary of state in Kansas pushed for a proof-of-citizenship requirement to prevent illegal immigrants from voting. You can expect this sort of legislation to continue being passed in Conservative states in an effort to make it harder for the impoverished, minorities, youth and the elderly to vote, and now that Donald Trump has an opportunity to appoint judges who will uphold even stricter voting laws, you can expect fewer people to vote, which gives Republicans an edge.
While states with strict voter ID laws offer voter IDs for free, there is still a high cost associated with obtaining one. A Harvard Law report found that obtaining a “free” voter ID costs between $75 and $175. The author of the report, Richard Sobel, wrote: “paying the cost needed to meet voter ID requirements means spending the equivalent of more than a week’s worth of groceries.”
Republicans know better than anyone that there’s no such thing as a free anything. There are documentation, travel, loss of work and waiting time expenses associated with obtaining a voter ID. Hell, if Republicans really wanted people to vote, they’d make Election Day a holiday like Bernie Sanders wants to so most Americans wouldn’t have to take off work to vote. The fact this bill wasn’t passed by Congress immediately is indicative of how little Republicans want Americans to vote. The original bill was introduced on Nov. 12, 2014, and the Senate Judiciary committee, consisting of 11 Republicans and nine Democrats, has not allowed the bill out of committee, which is the easiest way for the majority party in Congress to kill bills. The majority party always has a majority in every committee, which is a big problem with Congress. These committees should be half Republican and half Democrat so something is accomplished every once in awhile. I trust Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission will also feature a majority of Republicans and minority of Democrats.
So Donald Trump has created a counterfeit commission designed to uphold the integrity of the American election process that will secretly suppress voting in key states for Conservatives by enacting legislation forcing expensive voter IDs on people who could just as easily provide a combination of a birth certificate, social security card and mail to their address in order to prove their citizenship. Frankly, all that should be required is a tax return with the dollar amounts blacked out, because if you pay taxes in this country you should be allowed to vote. But we all know how Donald Trump feels about tax returns.
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Obesity is an epidemic in America. Overall, 38 percent of U.S. adults are obese and 17 percent of teenagers are obese, the Center for Disease Control reported in 2016. More than two-thirds of Americans are at least overweight. There is a difference between obese and overweight, though.
The obese are less likely to be physically active or are physically unable to be physically active, which is why this complete nutrition guide is for the immobile. You can lose weight without exercising. Use the following tips to start losing weight without knowingly altering your calorie intake and without exercising.
When overcoming obesity, you have to start somewhere, and if you have trouble moving, you have to start with the way you eat. I’m not talking about a diet or counting calories. There are things you can do before, during and after consuming food that will help keep you from overeating.
America’s obesity problem stems from increases in portion size since the 1980s, and those portions continue to grow as body weights increase. It’s corporate food taking advantage of an addiction it created, much like the tobacco industry. Don’t be a pawn in their game.
A serving of meat is three ounces, which is the size of a bar of soap. A hamburger serving is the size of a hockey puck. A serving of pasta is the size of your fist. A serving of vegetables is the size of a baseball, and a serving of fruit is the size of a tennis ball. A serving of peanut butter is the size of a ping pong ball. If you guide your portions based on the recommended serving sizes, chances are you’ll end up consuming less and losing weight. If you use smaller plates, you’ll also end up eating fewer calories, and research shows that people eat less off red plates than white or blue plates.
Plan what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for an entire week. Having a plan keeps you from replacing potentially nutritious meals with fast food and puts you in control of your nutrition goals instead of some high school kid inside a drive-thru window. Having a plan will also help you avoid skipping meals, which isn’t good for you either. I log my meals for the next day using the MyPlate app from Livestrong. Logging meals a day in advance gives me an idea of my calorie, fat, sugar and sodium wiggle room for snacks throughout the day. It also helps me save money because I’m less likely to eat out when my meals are already planned.
Impulse buying contributes to the American obesity epidemic. If it never seems like the healthy foods are on sale, it’s because they seldom are. But if you enter the store with a list of foods you know you need, and you don’t waver from that list, you’ll leave having saved some calories and some money.
Drink a glass of water before every meal and more water in general. Are you drinking half a gallon of water each day? Chances are you’re not. The daily recommended water intake is eight, eight-ounce glasses. With one before every meal that’s just three per day, so be sure to stay hydrated. It’s literally the easiest way to lose weight.
Eating in the proper environment can help prevent overeating. A study conducted by a Cornell researcher found that people eating in fast food restaurants where the lighting was dimmer and the music more soothing ate 175 fewer calories than those who ate in the same place with the lights brighter and the music louder. And don’t eat in front of the television, as you’ll be more likely to forget how much you’ve eaten.
It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to send a message to your brain that you’ve eaten enough, so eat slower and you’ll be less likely to overeat. And chew your food thoroughly.
People who eat more in the morning and less at night lose more weight, and starting your day with warm food high in protein helps you feel fuller and less hungry later. Consume 350 to 400 calories and 25 grams of protein every morning and you’ll be on your way to losing weight.
Eggs are my go-to breakfast food because they’re cheap, quick to make, high in protein and are delicious when mixed with vegetables. Non-fat Greek yogurt is also a great breakfast food if you’re on the go. Mix it with granola and fruit for the perfect parfait.
If you have a blender, a plant-based, protein shake is a great way to get a serving of fruits and vegetables along with protein without the fat. I use hemp-based protein because it improves heart health, and BodyBuilding.com put together multiple lists of delicious shake recipes here and here so you never get sick of them. If you can push back your breakfast to later in the day, it lowers the amount of time you’ll have to eat throughout the day, too. This way you’re less likely to consume too much in one day.
Another reason obesity is a problem is the amount of time Americans have to actually sit down and eat. It’s very important that you sit down to eat, and that you actually eat more often. You just want to tone down the size of your meals and spread them out throughout the day so your metabolism stays high and you burn fat throughout the night. Eating smaller meals more frequently also keeps your appetite in check so you don’t wake up starving. Try to eat five smaller meals per day instead of three large meals.
Eating foods that satisfy your hunger is a key to eating fewer calories and overcoming obesity. WebMD put together a chart with examples of satisfying foods, as well as unsatisfying foods. I bet you can guess where Twinkies, Snickers, potato chips, cheese puffs and french fries fell. A turkey sandwich on wheat bread topped the list of satisfying foods, with oatmeal on its heels and bean burrito coming in third. A vegetarian refried bean burrito is an even healthier option.
Avoiding food before bedtime can actually keep you from losing weight. Just don’t overeat before going to bed and make sure you’re consuming protein instead of carbohydrates and fat. Your body burns more calories digesting protein than carbs and fat. Another protein shake is perfect before bed because it might boost your metabolism, according to a Florida State study. Adding a cup of rooibos tea could reduce stress hormones that trigger fat storage and hunger. Some of the best midnight snacks are turkey and cottage cheese, because they’re both high in protein and contain tryptophan, the amino acid that puts you to sleep on Thanksgiving. Speaking of sleep…
Fitbits wouldn’t monitor sleep quality if it wasn’t important to fitness. It’s incredibly important to get at least seven hours of sleep each night because people who get more sleep have the proper balance of leptin and ghrelin hormones that help control appetite. If you create a routine that you do an hour before sleep each night, like brushing your teeth and then reading for an hour, your body will be better prepared to sleep, and you won’t be counting sheep.
If you can’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, leave the bedroom and do something unstimulating. That doesn’t mean watch television or stare at your phone or tablet. Looking at a screen before bed not only makes it harder to fall asleep, but can make you more tired and less alert in the morning. If you still struggle sleeping or can’t seem to breathe while sleeping, get checked for sleep apnea. Oh, and the colder you can handle the bedroom while sleeping, the more calories you’ll burn in your sleep.
If you’re looking to overcome obesity and aren’t physically able to be physically active, week one of the “Overcoming Obesity” nutrition guide for the immobile can help you become mobile. We still won’t advocate exercise in week two, either, because you don’t need to exercise to lose weight. Week two of the “Overcoming Obesity” program will focus on nutrition -- not a diet.
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Online banking has all but made the checkbook register obsolete. You can check your balance on your smartphone, view it online or even print it, but the lost science of registering debits and credits hasn’t gone away, and it shouldn’t.
The importance of logging your debits and credits hasn’t changed. They still teach it in middle school family and consumer science courses, but fewer people stick with it. My sister still keeps her checkbook register up-to-date despite writing two checks per month for rent and utilities. Everything she buys with her debit card gets logged in the checkbook register, and it’s no surprise she’s better with money than her brother who doesn’t -- until now.
I don’t write checks. I pay my rent in cash and my bills online. I setup automatic payments for all my bills, so I never spend time with my money. This is a big mistake. It’s the number one easiest way to save money according to CNBC guest contributor Brittney Castro. Just sitting down with your money once per week to monitor debits and credits and budget for the week can put you in a better place financially.
If you’re like me and don’t have a checkbook but want to log your debits and credits on paper, you can print blank registers here. I’d rather use my phone to manage my money. I am logging my debits and credits on my iPhone using the Spending app. It’s also available for free on Android devices. It allows you to log debits under the following categories: eating out, clothes, entertainment, fuel, general, gifts, holidays, kids, shopping, sports and travel. You can also add a category of expenses and income. I added my Airbnb income for example.
You can view your debits and credits over the week, month or year. The best part is, turning your phone sideways reveals a pie chart of your expenses. This way you can see what’s costing you the most money and where you can start saving. Hit the cash flow tab and a graph reveals your income, so you can see those weeks you took some time off from work, or in my case, hosted more or fewer Airbnb guests. This is much more helpful than a checkbook register because it allows you to more easily see where you’re wasting your money. I’m a sucker for eating out, but since I’m new to my city, I think it’s only natural to be trying restaurants to see what you like and what’s worth the money you’re paying. Still, if I want to save money, I’ll have to cut out some of that spending.
Using the Spending app to budget for your week or month isn’t the only way to better manage your money. It takes a lot more than monitoring your debits and credits to reach your financial goals. After I get my check today, I’m heading to my bank to withdraw some money to put in an online savings account. Remember those days your money in your savings and checking accounts actually made you money? Well, those days aren’t all gone. You just have to do more research and move your money around more often. Luckily, Jeff Rose has already found the top online saving account interest rates for you. Some online savings accounts require a large deposit to open the account, but many can be started for as little as $25, and while 27 cents doesn’t sound like much, it’s still 27 cents you didn’t have before, and will be a few bucks by the end of the year.
Cutting your transportation costs is the easiest way to save money if you commute 12 miles or so to work everyday like me. I intend to start riding my bike to the bus stop to save even more money this summer, and, eventually, I’ll do the entire 25-mile commute on my bike to get in great shape. But the gas rewards card is a thing of beauty. I keep two of them on me at all times, so regardless of what gas station is nearest I have a way of earning points and saving money. That moment after you swipe your card and the screen on the pump reads “We’re lowering your prices,” or “Use $2.96 in rewards?” I get all warm and fuzzy inside. It feels like you’re cheating the system, and speaking of…
Sign up for every free, rewards program you can find. My favorite is Ebates, which I’ve been using for almost 10 years. During that time I’ve been paid $113.72 just for shopping at my favorite stores online. You can even install an extension for your browser, so anytime you happen upon a store that’s an Ebates partner it will ask you if you want to enable Ebates cash back. Just click the button and you’re on your way to free money for every purchase you make.
Another extension I’ve attached to my browser is Honey, which scours the internet for coupon and promo codes that apply to the store you’re visiting. It’ll tell you how many coupon and promo codes are available for that store, for what they can be used, and allow you to save money on your order right there and then. There’s no need to open a new tab and search those ad-happy coupon and promo code search engines anymore. Just install Honey.
If you travel a lot, open an Expedia account and start earning rewards points worth airline miles and discounts on hotel rooms and car rentals. You can even find discounted tickets for activities on your trip. The other day I was offered a free flight if I booked a hotel along with my flight through Expedia. I don’t book through anywhere but Expedia now, because Ebates gives me 10 percent cash back on top of any discounts I get with my rewards points.
If you travel for business, a travel rewards credit card will probably be a good thing to have in your wallet. Nerd Wallet has put together a fine list of the best available travel rewards credit cards, but if you intend to apply, be sure to note whether the credit card has an annual fee. If you travel enough to accumulate enough miles to use during the fee-free, introductory year, you can jump ship after just one year and move to another travel rewards card. If not, just pick one that doesn’t have an annual fee.
Finally, the most rewarding and money-saving rewards program and credit card are with the same company: Amazon. I buy a lot of books, technology and vinyl records. Most of my birthday and Christmas gifts are purchased on Amazon. In fact, I just sent my mom her Mother’s Day gift using Amazon (they do gift wrapping for $4 if you’re wondering and include a short, personalized message on a card). I also sent my sister her birthday present using Amazon, and neither of those gifts cost me a dime. Here’s why:
I got hooked on Amazon at a young age. I was really into Ebay when I was in high school, but when some of the items I purchased came with defects and weren’t returnable, I started using Amazon pretty regularly. I’m pretty sure the first credit card for which I ever applied was my Amazon Rewards Visa Credit Card through Chase.
My new, shiny Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Credit Card came in the mail just a few weeks ago. Since I’m an Amazon Prime member, I get five percent cash back on every Amazon purchase to be used on future Amazon purchases. I also get two percent back on purchases at restaurants, gas stations and drugs stores, and one percent back on all other purchases. While the interest rate is high, it doesn’t matter because I pay it off each month. So that’s how I ended up taking care of my sister’s birthday and Mother’s Day without spending a dime of my own money.
I cannot stress how rewarding Amazon Prime has been for me. I became a member when I was a sophomore in college because I was tired of paying way too much for textbooks at the bookstore. Instead, I managed to save a ton of money buying them on Amazon and had them shipped in two days for free thanks to my Prime membership, so I rarely fell behind in classes because I didn’t have a textbook. I even made a bunch more than most of my classmates selling my textbooks because I used Textbook Wheel, now First Class Books, instead of selling them back to the bookstore. Never buy textbooks from or sell textbooks to your university bookstore. We live in a global economy. Your campus is not the best place to get the books you need for classes or the money you need to celebrate passing your classes.
I’m just now taking advantage of Prime Pantry -- Amazon’s online store for mostly non-perishables. Here’s a breakdown of what I got:
The best part is all of it will be delivered for free to my apartment within four days. The real value is I got to compare prices from the comfort of my computer desk and didn’t have to stand in line at the grocery store checkout. Oh, and did I mention that my Amazon Prime membership includes video streaming of movies and shows and free, two-day shipping on any Amazon warehouse-fulfilled item?
So keeping a checkbook register is all well and good, but the internet and smartphones allow for so many more ways to save money, whether it’s by logging your debits and credits, transferring money to an online savings account that actually pays interest, saving money through online rewards programs or buying the things online you already buy at the store. Welcome to the online banking and shopping era and enjoy the savings.
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Unless you live in a nudist colony, you’ll likely need clothes to make it in America. If you’ve been following along with our “Made in America” series, you’ll know that we’ve already covered American-made forms of transportation, including shoes, home decor and appliances made in the U.S.A., the all-American home, home-grown food and energy, and even American-made vices like alcohol and tobacco. We haven’t forgotten about clothing, which is one of the hardest things to find with “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag. Chances are slim what you’re wearing now has “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag.
Clothing keeps us warm, dry and covered, but if Americans made all the clothing purchased in the world, no one would be able to afford it. That’s why it’s so common to find clothes made in Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and, of course, China.
The American clothing market is the largest in the world, totalling $359 billion in 2016, which is why it’s so important to keep those dollars here in America. Employment has nearly doubled in apparel manufacturing, textiles and clothing since 1990, because with more people comes more clothes. But just 1.8 million Americans are employed in the fashion industry, with 79 percent of them working for apparel retailers mostly selling imported products. Just 232,000 are employed to manufacture textiles for apparel and other fashion items (purses, handbags, backpacks, etc.).
In order to change the growing trend of outsourcing fashion and clothing manufacturing, more Americans need to buy more American clothes, and there’s plenty of places to start.
American-made men’s underwear is pretty easy to find. Brad Bennett at the Well Spent blog put together a nice list of American options. Keep in mind that just because a company has an American-sounding name, like Duluth Trading Company (mostly made in Vietnam, but they do have a “USA Made” section) or American Eagle (made in China, Guatemala, India, and Vietnam, with some made in America) doesn’t mean it’s products are all-American. Do your research. The only thing that touches American skin should be American-made.
There are plenty of options for American-made women’s underwear, too, including lingerie. HerRoom and HisRoom allows you to search multiple companies’ catalogs for American-made products. For a complete list of American-made underwear companies visit here.
During the spring, winter and autumn months, there’s no more important stitch of clothing than dry socks. I don’t wear socks for most of the summer unless it rains, but when it comes to keeping my feet warm and dry, I’m a wool man. Wool is the absolute best fabric ever, but the U.S. doesn’t produce much of it. If more people bought more wool, though, maybe it would make a comeback in America.
As I stated earlier, Duluth Trading Company makes some of its products in the U.S.A., and the most common item on their “USA Made” page is socks. If there’s a place that knows cold, it’s Minnesota, but if you’re looking for the best socks on the planet, I’d suggest Darn Tough socks. I recommend them because I have a friend from Vermont, where Darn Tough socks are made, who maintains trails in Glacier National Park, and he swears by them. If there’s an environment that requires darn tough socks, it’s Vermont. It’s the seventh coldest state in America and can be one of the wettest in the spring. Plus, Darn Tough socks are guaranteed for life, so if you manage to put a hole in them, you can return them for another pair. You’ll never buy socks again.
If you’re looking for more fashionable options for men and women, Fox River is the oldest performance sock brand out there. What started as a sock company for lumberjacks 116 years ago is now an all-purpose, sock supplier. They sent out a pair of their Peak Series Lightweight Multisport ankle socks for me to try, and except for them being a little long in the sole, they very comfortable for both the office and the bicycle commute. The "helix fit" as they call it provides volumetric compression around the foot between the ankle and toes. The mesh ventilation zones allow your feet to breathe, and the EverWear Durability Shield on the back of the sock above the heel is a neat feature that should prevent holes in the area that rubs against your shoe. For women’s socks visit here, and if you’re seeking hosiery, tights or leggings, No Nonsense provides an ample supply of American-made products for women. If you’re a man in need of dress socks, look no further than Dapper Classics, which also produces American-made shirts and ties for the office.
There is a plethora of men’s pants and shirts, women’s dresses and blouses, children’s clothes and even maternity wear made in America. The easiest thing you can do to find American-made options from your favorite retailers is enter “Made in the USA” in their catalog’s search bar. Most online stores like Nordstrom, Lulu’s and Orvis, understand the importance of catering to patriotic purchasers and have a dedicated page for American-made products. If you’re into sportswear, and specifically throwback baseball uniforms and caps, Ebbets Field Flannels is one of my new favorite American stores. There you can buy jerseys you didn't know existed.
USA Love List put together a great list of American-made outerwear for women recently, and if you’re a leather man, Schott NYC has everything from jackets, belts and boots made in America. Woolrich also provides a page of outdoorsy, clothing products made in the U.S.A. If you’re more into designer trends, The Good Trade put together a list of 15 American-made clothing brands that will turn heads, and GQ has a list of American clothing brands just for men. The most complete Made in America men’s wear list is likely this one by Gear Patrol. Here’s a recent list of more than 100 brands that produce 100 percent of their clothing in America.
So now you have no reason to purchase clothing that isn’t made in America other than cost, but wages in areas where clothes are made are increasing, while American wages remain stagnant, which means American-made clothing will at least be more competitive with imported clothing in the future. So don’t be the typical cheap American when it comes to clothing. I guarantee if you buy the brands listed above, you’ll get more life out of your clothing and more satisfaction for creating American jobs, too.
Next up in our “Made in America” series we’ll look at the best brands for recreation equipment, including guns and ammo, ATVs, tents, backpacks, sleeping bags and the like.
It happens almost everyday during my commute to work: someone fondling a phone and not looking at the road while driving. Today was no exception. It’s infuriating, and it’s dangerous.
Distracted driving deaths grew 8.8 percent between 2014 and 2015 -- growing faster than deaths due to unrestrained passengers, speeding or drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In response, many states and even municipalities are enacting distracted driving laws. But it’s impossible for police to enforce every instance of distracted driving.
The City of Chicago made the mistake of allowing distracted driving citations to be enforced like all other traffic citations, forcing police officers to appear in court when drivers attempt to get out of the ticket. What’s resulted is a complete lack of enforcement of the law, with distracted driving ticketing falling 99.6 percent in the city from 2014 to 2016.
There’s never a reason to be fondling a phone while driving, but people do it. So what’s the solution? Well, if you have a newer car with hands-free technology, you already have a solution. But not all of us can afford to buy new cars this very minute. There’s a cheap solution for us, too.
For less than $20, you can equip your car with hands-free technology as long as you have a working 12-volt socket and radio in your car. These Bluetooth devices allow you to take calls with the push of a button, which is the equivalent of changing the radio station. You’ll never fumble around for your phone while driving again, and you can listen to your music library during your commute. I actually own one of these, and they are literal lifesavers.
If you’re one of these people who doesn’t know where they’re going and use your smartphone as a GPS while driving, spend a few bucks on a caddie for your smartphone and mount it to your dash. Even if you enter your destination before you start driving, if you don’t have a caddie for your smartphone, you’re looking down at your phone and not at the road. So put your smartphone in a place where you can still see the road. For less than $30 all told you could potentially save a life.
Both iPhone and Android devices allow for voice activated email and text messaging, too. You can activate “Hey, Siri” when the screen is locked in your iPhone settings, and there’s even a workaround for using “Hey, Siri” when you’re not connected to power. Before starting your car, just hold the home button for a second to enter the Siri screen and don’t say anything. You’ll remain in the Siri screen and will just have to say “Hey, Siri” to go hands-free. On Android devices, the lock screen is even easier to work around. All you have to do is turn on “Trusted Voice” in your Voice settings (unless you have a Nexus 6, Moto X, Galaxy Note 4 or Note Edge).
New drivers are the ones most at risk of being ticketed or lost to distracted driving, though. I hope there’s a focus on that in driver's education courses. Some school districts are just getting around to changing drivers ed curriculum now. Smartphones didn’t exist when I went through drivers ed, but cell phones were starting to become more prevalent. The videos we watched looked like they were created for the first drivers ed course in the 1950s, so I hope distracted driving education is taking place in those courses, because I know these drivers, and they are as dangerous as drunk drivers, or even more so.
If you’re a parent of one of these new drivers, buy them the products mentioned above. You could save their life, and the Bluetooth device makes a great gift, especially if your new driver’s car has nothing but a radio, or worse yet, a CD player. CDs were the distracted driving of my generation.
This isn’t rocket science, folks. It’s not even car science. If you’re still fondling a phone while behind the wheel of a car, just stop it. You’re going to end up killing someone -- maybe yourself. Just take these simple steps to not only avoid a distracted driving ticket, but save your fellow motorists from frustration and harm.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: Free Talk Live, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, American Survival Radio, Jim Brown’s Common Sense, Auto World, Auto World AM
The Minnesota Wild stumbled into the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs and ran into the hottest team in the Western Conference at the time, falling 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, led by former Wild coach Mike Yeo. Despite a .925 save percentage and 1.86 goals against average, Devan Dubnyk was bested by Jake Allen (.935 SV%, 1.96 GAA) and may not have done much better against Pekka Rinne, who had nearly as many points as goals allowed in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (two assists and three goals allowed).
There’s no denying the Wild lost something on both sides of the puck when general manager Chuck Fletcher made a trade deadline deal on Feb. 26 with Arizona, sending a 2017 first-round pick, 2018 second-round pick, a 2019 fourth-round pick and minor league center Grayson Downing to Arizona for Martin Hanzal, a big, two-way center, tough forward Ryan White and a 2017 fourth-round pick. Both are unrestricted free agents and will clear $4.1 million in salary, but it won’t be enough to get what Minnesota needs.
The Wild dominated every aspect of the series against the Blues if you look at traditional statistics. The Wild led in shots on goal in every game except the game they won (the Wild and Blues both had 28 shots on goal in Game 4). The Wild had higher quality shots in every game but the clincher, shooting from shorter distances than the Blues more often, so they were getting the puck in the right places. The Wild had four fewer penalty minutes and two more power play goals than the Blues. The Wild even led in hits in every game except Game 3, although the quality of hits is more important than the quantity, and the Blues had a size advantage almost everywhere on the ice (unless Martin Hanzel was on the ice). The Wild possessed the puck more often, which isn’t surprising. The only thing the Blues did better was block shots, which is also unsurprising given Mike Yeo’s zone defense that reminds me of the late Dennis Green’s “prevent” defense used when the Vikings had a lead back in the 1990s.
So the Wild had quality opportunities to score and Jake Allen was standing on his head, right? Wrong. If you look at the analytics, there were plenty of Wild players that performed poorly in the playoffs. Let’s start with the worst first.
In 24 minutes on the ice, Folin had a plus/minus of -2, but his relative Corsi and relative Fenwick numbers were just terrible. Corsi measures shot attempt differential while at even strength and includes shots on goal, missed shots on goal, and blocked shot attempts towards the opposition’s net, minus the same shot attempts directed at your own team’s net. Fenwick, or unblocked shot attempts, only counts shots on goal and missed shots. Blocked shots are not included, and might be a better measure of performance given the Blues’ focus on blocking shots.
Folin’s Corsi was -10.1, and his Fenwick was -14.8 because he only got one shot through to goal in three attempts and obviously allowed more shots than one. Folin is a restricted free agent at 25, will be subject to the expansion draft, and might not be back.
Charlie had two points in the playoffs and a plus/minus of -1, but his relative Corsi was -5 and his relative Fenwick was -7.8 -- second worst on the team. Coyle got 60.9 percent of his shots through to goal, though. Coyle is signed through 2019 and is set to make merely $3.2 million per year, but will likely be subjected to the expansion draft.
Stewart, 29, tied the captain, Mikko Koivu, for the lowest shot-through percentage on the team at 28.6 percent. He got two shots on goal in 39 minutes, and his Fenwick was third worst at -7.3 and his Corsi was seventh worst at -4. He’s signed through 2017 for $1.15 million and won’t be selected by Las Vegas, which means he’s back with the Wild.
Scandella peppered Jake Allen with 10 shots in 113 minutes for a plus/minus of -1. His Corsi was -4.5, and his Fenwick was -5.7. Scandella is signed through 2019 for $4 million annually, so at 26, he’ll likely be subjected to the expansion draft, as all his regular season numbers were down this season.
Dumba’s big shot was a non-factor in the playoffs. He had no points in 119 minutes and a plus/minus of -1. His relative Corsi and relative Fenwick numbers were identical: -4.7. His through percentage was just 36.8 percent. A great slap shot isn’t any good if it doesn’t get on goal, but Dumba trails only Nate Prosser when it comes to scoring chances allowed, so he’s limiting the big mistakes for which he’s been known. He’s signed through 2017 for just $2.55 million, so Chuck Fletcher probably wants to protect him, as Dumba’s just 22.
Neiderreiter had just 80 minutes of ice time in the playoffs and one point for a plus/minus of -2 after impressing with his best regular season by far. His relative Fenwick was fourth worst (-7) and his relative Corsi was -2. Expect Chuck Fletcher to attempt to resign him, as he’s a restricted free agent at 24. He’ll be tough to replace regardless of his playoff performance.
This one hurts, as Parise is signed through 2025. Parise took a goal right out of the net in Game 1, and he didn’t get any better. While his shot-through percentage was tops on the team at 79.2 percent, his Corsi and Fenwick numbers were -4.6 and -4.5 respectively. There’s nothing the Wild can do but move him down the lines.
In 62 playoff minutes, Haula had one point and a plus/minus of -2. His shot-through percentage was 60, but his relative Fenwick was -2.7 while his relative Corsi was 0.1. Haula’s a restricted free agent and won’t be protected from the expansion draft at 25.
Staal absolutely exceeded expectations in his first year as the Wild’s top-line center. He played every game and logged a plus/minus of 17 -- the highest of his career. His Corsi and Fenwick numbers took big dives from last season, though. His regular season relative Corsi dropped from 5.8 to 3.8 and his relative Fenwick fell from 4.6 to 3.2.
Staal was worse in the playoffs, with a relative Corsi of -4.6 and a relative Fenwick was -1.6. He’s only posted a positive plus/minus in the playoffs in his first season in the playoffs with Carolina and will be 33 next season. That’s why I think Staal is a good trade piece, given his $3.5 million-per-year contract over the next two seasons. He’d be a great veteran presence for a young Las Vegas squad, and Chuck Fletcher should be able to get late-first- or early-second-round pick for him. Staal has a 20-team, no-trade clause that could be a problem, but he doesn’t necessarily have to go to Las Vegas, either. He’d be an upgrade for the Blues and Montreal.
That brings me to what Chuck Fletcher should do in free agency this offseason. With the already allocated salaries for 2017-18, the Wild are spending a little over $59 million, but Neiderreiter and Granlund will likely get raises as restricted free agents. Say Chuck Fletcher gives them $8 million per year to split. That puts the salary cap figure at $67 million of the $73 million salary cap.
Now say Chuck Fletcher trades Eric Staal to Las Vegas for picks. That would free up another $3.5 million in cap space to give Fletcher around $6.5 million to spend in free agency, which could be enough to grab T.J. Oshie -- the best center on the market.
Think about what the Wild are missing -- a guy who can score on his own. The majority of the success Minnesota had during the regular season relied on goaltending, precision passing, breakaway and power play goals. They don’t have a player who can score from distance in traffic, and it showed against the Blues.
Oshie has 12 points in 12 playoff games with the Capitals so far. His relative Fenwick is 10.3 in these playoffs and was 16.1 in last year’s playoffs. His relative Corsi in this year’s playoffs is 6.6, and it was 14.7 in last year’s playoffs. He also had regular season career highs in both relative Corsi (8.1) and relative Fenwick (9.6) this year. So trading Staal after his best season and signing Oshie after his best season should be the focus of Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher if he wants to retain his job and take the Wild to the Stanley Cup.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: View From The Couch
It’s no secret that Americans pay more for healthcare than anyone in the world, and it’s increasingly less of a secret that a better system would result in fewer infant deaths, fewer preventable deaths, fewer uninsured people, and less expense for Americans. What does that system look like, though? Well, it’s not privatized health insurance.
The problem with privatized health insurance is that it allows or forces people to go uninsured due to cost, which is why President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is so important. It lowered the number of uninsured to an all-time low of 8.6 percent by forcing affordable coverage options upon them (if you live in a state that expanded Medicaid) or forcing them to pay a fine so the insured wouldn’t have to flip so much of the uninsured’s bill. And while healthcare costs are still increasing (they always will), they are increasing at a slower rate than they were prior to the ACA.
The biggest reason socialized healthcare is difficult for Republicans to stomach is because they don’t trust the federal government to handle healthcare. You hear them say that over and over, and that the states can do it better. I don’t disagree, but if India can provide free healthcare to roughly 276 million Indians living under the poverty line, the American government can certainly do it for 43.1 million impoverished Americans. States should not be allowed to opt out of this coverage. It should be mandatory because those with private insurance would be paying for fewer uninsured visits to the hospital, meaning hospitals wouldn’t have to increase costs for everyone because of the $900 each uninsured visitor costs them annually.
But socialized healthcare is not going to be passed by this Congress or any other unless the Democrats manage a supermajority at some point, and even then it’s no certainty given the bad, yet unwarranted, reputation the word “socialism” has in this country. (Hint: it’s not fascism.)
The House Republicans’ American Health Care Act won’t be passed by this Congress, either. At least not how it currently stands. But minimum wage legislation should appeal to constituents and politicians of both parties.
The biggest problem for Americans isn’t increasing health insurance premiums. The biggest problem is stagnant wages, which is why passing minimum wage legislation is so important. Back in February, the U.S. inflation rate was at its highest since 2012. An item that cost $20 back in 1997 would cost $30.38 today. That’s a cumulative rate of inflation of almost 52 percent in 20 years. Middle- and low-wage workers’ incomes grew just over five percent during the same period. When the value of the U.S. dollar decreases 10 times faster than incomes increase, people struggle to pay for everything. My father and an entire district of a machinists’ union didn’t get a raise for the eight years Ronald Reagan was President. Imagine working for the same wage for nearly a decade while the cumulative rate of inflation increased 36.4 percent over that time. By the end of the eight years your 1981 U.S. dollar was worth just 63.6 cents in 1989. The lack of union membership in America has a lot to do with the increased income for the top 10 percent of earners, too.
While the globalization of the economy makes executives more valuable, a lack of union membership and lack of collective bargaining allows executive salaries to inflate. And while the affordability of commonly used items like refrigerators, ovens, etc. has increased according to the CATO Institute, that doesn’t necessarily offset the ever-increasing cost of energy. Between 2005 and 2015, residential energy costs increased 34 percent despite prices of natural gas delivered to electric utilities declining nearly 60 percent and coal prices remaining essentially flat, according to the Institute for Energy Research. And we all know that gasoline is more expensive. Today’s average price for gasoline is 54 percent more than the inflation-adjusted price of 1998, when oil prices reached an all-time low of $18.13 per barrel.
Secondary education continues to be an increasing expense, which increased on average at a rate of nine percent at four-year colleges, 11 percent at two-year colleges and 13 percent at private colleges since 2011-12, according to CollegeBoard. “But you don’t need a college education,” you might say. Sure, you might not need it, but the value of of a secondary education was double that of an equal investment in the stock market back in 2011, according to the Brookings Institute, and USA Today reported that a New York Fed study determined the net present value of a college degree to be at an all-time high of $300,000 back in 2014.
Education isn’t the only thing that’s steadily increased in cost, either. The median cost of rent has increased 64 percent since 1960 and 12 percent from 2000 to 2010 despite median wages falling seven percent during that time, according to ApartmentList. The Consumer Price Index for food is also 2.4 percent higher than it was just a year ago, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
While Republican politicians have no interest in socialized healthcare legislation or minimum wage legislation, they should if their goals entail more American jobs and a flourishing American economy. Socialized healthcare legislation, like Rep. John Conyer’s Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, and minimum wage legislation, like Rep. Al Green’s Original Living Wage Act, would allow Republicans to create more jobs and allow Americans to further stimulate the economy with expendable income.
No Conservative who is struggling to pay for necessities can successfully argue that they don’t deserve a raise, and no Republican politician can successfully argue that his or her struggling constituents don’t deserve a raise and keep his or her job. This is something Congress can pass and something Donald Trump should be proud to sign. It would be quite the blow to his predecessor if Trump managed to increase wages for all American workers making minimum wage. It would certainly make the numbers look better if Trump and the Republicans are successful in passing their healthcare bill, as more Americans would be able to afford health insurance.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: USA Prepares, Building America, Free Talk Live, The Easy Organic Gardener, American Survival Radio, Jim Brown’s Common Sense, Good Day Health, MindSet: Mental Health News and Information, Health Hunters, America’s Health Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, The Dr. Bob Martin Show, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Drew Pearson Live, Drop Your Energy Bill
Most people think losing weight has to be a drag, but there is a way you can enjoy losing weight and keep it off. You don’t even have to commit an hour per day to exercising, which is another myth about losing weight. You don’t have to join a gym. You don’t have to leave your home. You can even lose weight at the office with some simple changes to your furniture and habits. So here’s how to enjoy losing weight and keep it off.
How to enjoy losing weight starts with the proper mindset, as do all things worth doing. You have to really want to lose weight. If you don’t really care to lose weight, you’re more likely to give up after a few weeks or be discouraged when the scale gives bad news. Understanding that sculpting a body comes with peaks and valleys will make losing weight more enjoyable. There will come a time when you “plateau,” and it will seem like you can’t lose anymore weight. The best thing you can do is prepare for the plateau. It’s going to happen. Accept it. If we all lost two pounds per week forever there’d be no weight left to lose eventually.
Dr. Daliah Wachs says keeping before-and-after photos of yourself can provide motivation to continue pursuing your weight loss goals. She advises to keep the before photo in places you frequent, like the office, the bathroom mirror, in a gym bag or on the refrigerator.
It is imperative to know your body and what you’re putting in it if you’re going to enjoy losing weight. This is a great activity for the first week of your weight loss program. Download the free MyPlate app from Livestrong on your Apple or Android device and start logging everything you eat and drink for a week. This food diary is your first step to losing weight, because eating nutritious meals is more important than exercise. The free version of the MyPlate app logs your calories, carbs, fat, protein, sodium, cholesterol, dietary fiber and sugars, and it will set goals for each given your current weight, height, gender, daily activity and weight loss goals. I’m five-foot, 10-inches, around 185 pounds and a moderately active male looking to lose 1.5 pounds per day.
You’ll immediately notice your problem areas, and if you’re in tune with what you eat currently, you probably already know. I knew my problem was empty carbs. I enjoy craft beers and Animal Crackers dipped in tea, so getting six-pack abs for the first time will obviously require giving up six-packs of microbrews. (I’ll never give up my Animal Crackers. In fact, I’ve given up bread because I’m poor and eat a lot of pasta.) But by monitoring my food intake (I refuse to call it a diet, because it’s not) I know exactly what I should consume throughout the day.
For instance, given my age, height, weight, gender and goals, the MyPlate app sets my daily calorie goal at 1,725 calories and my carbohydrate goal at 173 grams. I was around my calorie goal yesterday (1,783 calories) but way over my carbohydrate goal (248 g). My protein intake was also well below the recommended level of 129 grams per day, which means I’ll be picking up protein powder at GNC today and replacing my breakfast of cold pizza with a protein shake full of fruit. Protein shakes don’t have to be chalky and terrible, either. Here are some delicious recipes that will make you enjoy losing weight. (Hint: cottage cheese is key.)
The MyPlate app also links to the Health app on Apple devices and Google Fit on Android devices, so it will count your steps and calculate your calories burned. It also allows you to track your water consumption. Two-thirds of us don’t drink enough water, and it’s a key to losing weight Wachs informs.
“Drink a glass of water before you eat your meal. That works,” she said, adding later that eating the vegetables of your meal first, which are mostly water, also fulfills your appetite while providing proper nutrition. Wachs thinks this a great tactic to keep kids healthy, too.
While I’m trying to help you enjoy losing weight, there is a lot of dedication involved in achieving your weight loss goals. Your body is the only thing you take to the grave, so you should be dedicated to it. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.
You must continue logging every food you eat, every drink you drink and every rep of exercise you complete. This is your body diary, and it is as important to your physical health as an actual diary is to your mental health. Once you stop logging that information on paper or in the MyPlate app, you’re starting to accept your body as it is. Don’t do that. Every time you don’t want to log a meal or even a beverage, just think of your weight loss goals. Envision your body as you’d like to see it, and pick up your phone or notebook and log that meal or drink. Speaking of drinking...
I told you that you’d enjoy losing weight. Even light beers don’t come close to beating the caloric content of most liquors, and the carbs are killers. Jose Cuervo tequila consists of just 96 calories per shot and has no carbohydrates. While Miller Lite also has 96 calories, you have to drink three of them to get the same effect as the shot of tequila. Every 12 ounces of Miller Lite comes with 3.2 grams of carbs, too. If you’re into microbrews like me, giving those up sounds difficult and certainly not enjoyable, but I assure you, you’ll not only shed pounds drinking liquor, you’ll save money, too.
If you’re a whiskey drinker like me, Crown Royal Special Reserve has just 96 calories per serving, as does Pendleton. Most gins and vodkas will also have 96 calories or so. Rum and bourbon will have a few more calories, but are still better for you than beer despite having trace carbs. I suggest you drink all liquor straight, on the rocks or with 100-percent juice. Soda, even diet soda, provides no nutritional value whatsoever. It is literally empty calories and sugar and doesn’t even quench your thirst. That’s why I’ve mostly given it up since 2004, but I’m committed to never letting soda touch another ounce of alcohol for the rest of my life.
When your coworkers go out for a 15-minute smoke break, that doesn’t mean you have to keep working. (Oh yeah, if you want to look good quit smoking. It’ll make exercising easier.) While just nine states require rest breaks by law, the 15-minute smoke break happens almost everywhere. Most employers understand that their employees will be more productive if they get away from their desk or work space every few hours.
The best thing about the MyPlate app is that it provides exercises you can do at home, at the office or in the gym, with videos of proper form and even a timer and voice letting you know when to start and stop each exercise.
I did MyPlate’s seven-minute, cardio sculpting workout for the first time, and I can tell you it works. Not only is my body telling me what muscles I haven’t been using enough, but the app says I likely burned 235 calories in just seven minutes.
If you don’t have enough room at work to do the MyPlate exercises, there are still a couple of ways you can burn calories. The simplest thing you can do, whether you sit or stand all day, is work your core muscles. It’s as easy as crunching up your abs and breathing deeply.
Replacing your desk chair with a stability ball makes your entire day a core workout that can burn up to 350 calories. The Varidesk is also a nice contraption because sitting all day is still not good for you, regardless of your seat. The more you can get up and move around during your workday the better, and the more you’ll enjoy your work, too.
One of the reasons people don’t enjoy losing weight is the daily trip to the gym, where they’re judged by those around them or, if you’re a woman, hit on incessantly by bros and former frat boys. The internet has totally changed the way people workout, though. More and more fat-burning exercises can be streamed to your television, computer, tablet or phone, either for free or for a nominal fee.
You can even get paid to meet your fitness goals! Pact pays those who meet their weight loss goals with the money of those who don’t, and HealthWage allows you and a team to collectively work toward weight loss goals. I told you that you could enjoy losing weight. Now you can enjoy the money that comes along with it!
I catch just about every home Minnesota Twins game, and I take public transit to get there and do at least one lap around Target Field while I’m there (150 calories burned). If I go out for trivia or a freeroll poker tournament near my home, I ride my bike (650 calories burned per hour). I’m surrounded by lakes in the land of 10,000 lakes, which works out great for me because I love to swim (around 585 calories burned per hour swimming breaststroke, depending on weight). There’s a yoga studio by my house I’m considering joining (between 135 and 550 calories burned per hour plus improved flexibility).
Lean meats and seafood have just 45 calories per ounce. Fish has significantly less saturated fat than other meats, though. The American Heart Association recommends you eat fish at least twice weekly, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, trout and herring.
Skinless chicken is also a great way to lower your fat and caloric consumption while keeping protein levels up, so chicken wings are perfectly okay to eat on football Sundays as long as they’re eaten in moderation and prepared without a bunch of hydrogenated oils or butter.
I’m not advocating you stop eating red meat. I could never do it myself, but you should find the leanest cut of beef, pork or lamb available and prepare it without adding oils, butter or salt. In fact, 75 percent of the sodium you consume is already in processed foods or from restaurants. You shouldn’t be adding salt to anything. Most foods come with more than enough salt as it is.
Eating salad might not sound enjoyable, but I assure you, a good salad can be a great way to enjoy losing weight. You can’t tell me poached salmon and watercress salad with dill-yogurt dressing doesn’t sound delicious, or that shrimp with feta, radish, watercress and mint salad wouldn’t be delightful. Grilled panzanella with arugula, burrata, summer squash and olives makes me want to eat bread again, and I might make Moroccan lamb salad with carrots and mint when I get off work.
So there’s 10 ways to enjoy losing weight, and hopefully, you enjoy it so much the weight stays off. I’ll be checking in to update you on my pursuit of six-pack abs in the future.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live
Americans consume. Whether it’s food, energy, cars, second homes or home furnishings, Americans consume most of the world’s supply. Americans waste 30 to 40 percent of our food supply. America also has an entire city dedicated to sin, so it felt wrong to leave out things Americans obviously don’t need but buy anyway, legal or otherwise. America was built on tobacco after all, and still is a leading producer of tobacco leaves, producing 766.6 million pounds in 2012.
While cigarette use is declining in the United States, e-cigarette use is way up. Disposable e-cigarette sales increased an incredible 320 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who would never consider smoking cigarettes smoke e-cigarettes instead. Smokeless tobacco sales were also up over the same period. Despite smoking-related illness costing the U.S. $300 billion each year, Americans were third in cigarette consumption globally (albeit a distant third to China).
The upside of using an addictive, cancer-causing product, if there is an upside, is If you’re buying cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in America, then you’re supporting an American company. It’s that easy. Virginia’s Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris and parent company of the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, raised $25.43 billion of revenue in 2015. Vector Group, owner of Liggett, headquartered in Durham, N.C., raised $1.6 billion in 2014. Reynolds American, parent company of RJ Reynolds and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, makers of American Spirit cigarettes, raised $8.236 billion in 2013.
American-made e-cigarettes, however, are harder to find. White Cloud, ProVape and Hana Modz are apparently American, but ProVape has closed. If you’re going to smoke or vape, and I nor GCN Live advises you do, smoke or vape American.
Like Scotland and Scotch whisky, and France and champagne, America has places known for alcohol -- most notably bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. While the two are grouped together for international trade reasons, producers of Tennessee whiskey don’t label their product as bourbon, which is why I drink bourbon. I also drink “sparkling wine,” which is champagne made anywhere but France using the exact same method. I can’t afford Scotch.
Like tobacco, alcohol misuse costs Americans a pretty penny -- $249 billion in 2010 according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And Americans are consuming more alcohol than in the past, but aren’t in the top five as far as nations go.
It’s pretty easy to determine whether or not your alcoholic beverage is American-made. Just check the label. Thrillist ranked the top 25 American craft distilleries recently. A few of my favorites -- Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark -- are owned by Japanese company Suntory Holdings, Ltd. I know, it reminds me of Lost in Translation, too, and kind of makes me want to cry, but both are still made in Kentucky, with Maker’s Mark being the oldest operating bourbon distillery in the world.
Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice amongst Americans, though, accounting for 85 percent of the alcoholic beverage market. If you’re into microbrews, you’re pretty much in luck if you live in America. You’re not only drinking American, but shopping locally. All that money you spend goes right back into your community’s economy. There’s over 3,000 American breweries and over 2,500 American breweries on this map. You can find one near you here.
If you drink Budweiser, Busch or Miller beer, your money goes to Belgium. Anheuser-Busch owns Miller now. If you drink Coors, your money stays in the U.S. and Canada. If you drink Sam Adams, your money goes to Boston. If you drink Old Milwaukee or Pabst Blue Ribbon, your money goes to California.
Speaking of California, the American wine industry is buoyed by California’s Napa Valley, and 90 percent of all American wine comes from the West Coast. Again, figuring out if your wine is American-made is as easy as reading the label. Wineries aren’t shy about it. Constellation Brands, the largest wine company in the world, started in the Finger Lakes region of New York. If you drink Barefoot, your money goes to California. If you drink Franzia, your money goes to California. Keep in mind that trying wines from different places is like tasting the place itself, so don’t let an American bias stop you from trying an Argentinian Malbec or Italian Chianti. That would be a shame.
Only Icelanders smoke more pot per capita than Americans. A Gallup survey in 2016 found that 13 percent of Americans were using marijuana regularly, up from seven percent in 2013. Marijuana has become a $6.7 billion industry in the United States, according to Forbes.
It’s a pretty good bet the weed you’re smoking is American if you’re smoking it within American borders. The closer you get to a border, the worse chance you have of coming across un-American marijuana, but with the public opinion of marijuana changing and legislation legalizing the drug increases, supply and demand also increase. Business Insider was nice enough to put together a list of the 25 best marijuana dispensaries in every state in which it’s legal, either medically or recreationally.
If you’re in Colorado, visit The Farm in Boulder or Doctor’s Orders in Denver. Each place has a great deal every day. If you happen to be taking a tour of wineries in the Columbia Basin of Washington, stop by Green2Go in Prosser.
Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s opiate pain pills. That’s what we call an epidemic, and Donald Trump has put Chris Christie in charge of solving America's’ addiction to pain pills. It’s personal for Christie, too. He lost a longtime friend to an opiate overdose.
That’s right, cocaine can be prescribed by a doctor. America is third in the world when it comes to cocaine consumption and second in consumption of prescribed stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. The U.S. is fifth in consumption of amphetamine-type stimulants, so a lot of Americans are amped up.
Cocaine is expensive and hard to find in most places, but most people can easily get a prescription for ADHD medication and quickly move up the scale from the extended release capsules (which contain beads that are designed to keep people from crushing and snorting them) to the immediate release pills (which are not).
I actually suffer from adult ADHD and take 15 mg of immediate release Adderall most workdays. It has increased my production immensely. I’ve gone from working with 30 tabs open in my web browser to 10 or less, but before you schedule an appointment, check out this list to see if you actually suffer from ADHD symptoms. And when you take the test given by your doctor, take it honestly. In the words of my best friend, “It’s a tool, not a lifestyle.”
If you’re already using a generic stimulant, which most people do, it’s likely produced by New Jersey’s CorePharma.
America is ranked eighth in consumption of Ecstasy or MDMA. Unless you have a test kit, it’s almost impossible to determine whether your MDMA is pure let alone made in America. If you’re taking Ecstasy you’re likely taking meth as well, so unless you’re one of the people using the drug for PTSD in clinical studies, just steer clear of Ecstasy until it’s legal and regulated (as early as 2021).
So there are the most common vices of Americans. In order to assure your consuming American-made, though, check your labels and do some research into the companies providing the products.
Next up in our Made in America series we’ll look at American-made firearms and compare them to foreign firearms.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live