It’s no secret that attending a Major League Baseball game is expensive despite being the cheapest option ($31) when compared to the NBA ($55.88), NHL ($62.18) and NFL ($92.98). I’ve been to 16 of the first 24 Minnesota Twins home games, but just experienced my first pair of doubleheaders over the last four days -- one a split doubleheader and one a traditional back-to-back. I doubt I’ll see many more split doubleheaders, as taking a break between games tends to leave seats empty during the second game.

Getting into the ballpark isn’t prohibitively expensive. You can get into Angels Stadium in Anaheim for less than $10, and standing room only tickets at Target Field in Minnesota are usually $11. But eating and drinking beer, liquor, soda or water at the the ballpark is expensive.

The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies have the most expensive beer in baseball, followed by Minnesota in second, according to Fortune. That doesn’t include tip. My research revealed that you can buy 16 ounces of Bud Light, Miller Lite or a Bud Lime-A-Rita for $7 at Target Field. You can expect to pay close to $5 for a water and more for soda.

Doubleheaders don’t have to be doubly expensive, though. I enjoyed two games, a meal and three drinks for less than $35. Here’s how you can save money at the ballpark.

Don’t Exchange Your Ticket for a Different Game

When your game gets rained out, don’t exchange your ticket for a different game. Generally, if you have tickets to the makeup game, you’ll get free admittance to the second game of the traditional doubleheader. That’s not the case for split doubleheaders, though. Do your best to make it to the makeup game because they tend to be attended by fewer people, making for a more intimate game, shorter lines for the concession stands and bathrooms, and you’re more likely to get a foul ball, an autograph, or a chance to meet Tony Oliva, which happened to me Thursday.

You’re also more likely to win something if you attend the second game of a doubleheader. Professional sports organizations give away free stuff every game. At Minnesota Twins games, the big winners are those who get scratch-off tickets from the Minnesota Lottery. But there’s plenty of other door prizes to be had. I won a large, two-topping pizza from Papa John’s on Thursday.

The organization will say you can exchange your ticket for a ticket of equal value for another game, but equal value is what they declare, and face value of tickets changes depending on demand. So, if you have a ticket to see the last-place Royals play the Twins and exchange it for a game against the Yankees or Red Sox, don’t expect to get the same seats or even the same section. You are at the discretion of the corporation at that point, and you never want to be in that position.

Check the Promotions Schedule

If you are going to exchange your ticket for another game, check the promotions schedule first. You can get something free like a shirt, hat or bag just for showing up early, or take advantage of discounts on food. You can get a hot dog for a dollar at Target Field every Wednesday. Here’s every team’s promotions schedule ranked for 2017.

Pack a Bag

Although you’ll spend a few more minutes in the security line on your way into the ballpark, the wait is negligible when considering the value of having a bag with you at the ballpark, especially during a doubleheader. I take my laptop to the game in case I want to work (like I am now), a microphone in case I want to do a live broadcast (I do live, uncensored play-by-play of select games), a solar charger for my phone and computer and my preferred scorecard and pens to keep score.

I recommend taking a backpack to the ballpark as opposed to a satchel or purse. Your lower back will thank me if you do a lot of walking to or around the ballpark, as side-swinging bags tend to cause more back and hip pain. Backpacks also have plenty of hidden pockets, and security guards aren’t going to take the time to investigate every interior pocket, which brings me to my next point.

Don’t Drink the Beer

Beer is the biggest ripoff at the ballpark. While you’re getting 20 ounces of beer for around $8 at Target Field, you can get a hefty shot of liquor for $9 that will pack a bigger punch. My biggest suggestion is to not drink beer at the ballpark, and you can avoid doing so by packing your own booze.

While outside liquor is not allowed at any ballpark, I say you risk it. The worst that could happen is security discovers your stash and throws it out, but it’s highly unlikely if you use a backpack. You can use those interior pockets of your backpack to sneak in a flask of liquor. You generally won’t have to worry about your bag being scanned for metal, so your flask doesn’t have to be plastic unless you’re keeping it on your person. I forgot to finish all the water in my water bottle before entering Target Field on Sunday, and the security guard didn’t even take notice. That could have been filled with vodka, as it was visible on the outside of my pack. If you’re using interior pockets, though, you can bring in anything you want, including a pre-mixed cocktail. Just don’t drink too much or give your fellow fans a reason to have you removed.

Pack a Lunch and a Water Bottle

You can bring your own food to the ballpark, so you never have to spend money on peanuts, sunflower seeds or hot dogs (unless it’s $1 dog day at Target Field). I usually pack a snack for every game, but for doubleheaders, I pack a cold lunch like a protein-rich sandwich.

You’ll burn a lot of calories and give your legs a workout just walking to and from the ballpark and your seat, and you’ll most likely sweat, so having a water bottle will allow you to take advantage of the free tap water at the ballpark instead of paying nearly $5 for bottled water.

If you fail to pack a lunch and/or liquor, I suggest getting both in one drink. Most ballpark bars will make you a Bloody Mary with a few fixings like olives, celery, a pickle and, perhaps, beef sticks and cheese. The Twins offer a Bloody Mary with either a cheeseburger slider or slice of pizza at Hrbeck’s Bar for $24, and it will fill you up thanks to an eight-ounce, Bud Light beer back.

If you don’t drink Bloody Marys, order liquor on the rocks. It’s the best deal you’ll get at the ballpark, especially if you order doubles. Bartenders tend to pour heavy drinks (about three full shots) when you order doubles, which run around $15 for bottom shelf liquor before tip. The more games you attend the better you’ll get to know the bartenders, and them you, so despite the expensive price I recommend you tip your bartenders. They’ll remember it, even if you don’t tip 20 percent. I do a dollar per shot as a base and go up from there.

If you intend to eat at the ballpark, try these recommended dishes so you know you’re at least getting something unique or well-received for the insane amount of money you’ll spend.

Don’t Pay for Parking

The easiest way to avoid overpaying to see a baseball game or doubleheader is to not pay for parking. The closest parking garage near Target Field costs up to $25 for event parking and the most expensive parking in baseball is in Boston and New York for $35.

If you don’t live near public transit or need your car after the game, use apps like Park Whiz or Best Parking to score cheap deals on parking. I can park half a mile from Target Field for $6 during every night game, and a few blocks further away I can score parking for $4. I’ve parked for free at public parks and walked 25 minutes each way as well. If I pack my bike in the trunk of my car, I can cut my time to the ballpark down to 10 minutes or less and lock it up at one of the many bike racks available right outside the ballpark.

Taking public transit is my favorite way to get to and from the ballpark, though. For $3.50 I can get dropped off right at the ballpark and returned a block away from my apartment. I can read or work on the way to or from the game instead of driving, so I can actually make money during my commute. It’s also safer than driving, and if I want, I can take in a few drinks at a nearby bar before boarding.

My entire day for two games at Target Field on Sunday cost me a total of $29. Since I purchased the Spring Ballpark Pass for every home game except Opening Day for $99 in advance, my average price per ticket was $6.60 and will continue to fall for each game I intend through May (six more games brings it down to $4.71 each). If you buy tickets to the rainout, you got a free ticket to the second game of the doubleheader, so that’s $11 for both games at Target Field. Add a double (really a triple) bourbon on the rocks for $17 including tip, and I’m right around $30 and you’re under $30. My transportation puts my total at less than $35, and if you don’t pay for parking or are willing to do some walking, and now you can save money at the ballpark, too.

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So, I totally buy the argument that there is a lack of knowledge in proper tipping etiquette. There was a time when I was unaware that people didn’t tip. It never occurred to me to not tip and it never occurred to me that others wouldn’t do it. And then in 1992, when I was twenty years old, I watched Tarantino’s, Reservoir Dogs.

You know the scene I am talking about. The tipping scene. Steve Buscemi, as Mr. Pink has this exchange with the others at the table:

 

NICE GUY EDDIE

Alright, everybody cough up some green for

the little lady.

[Everybody whips out a buck, and throws it on the table.

Everybody, that is, except Mr. Pink.]

 

NICE GUY EDDIE

C’mon, throw in a buck.

 

MR. PINK

Uh-uh. I don’t tip.

 

NICE GUY EDDIE

You don’t tip?

 

MR. PINK

No. I don’t believe in it.

 

NICE GUY EDDIE

You don’t believe in tipping?

 

MR. BLUE

Do you know what these chicks make? They make shit.

 

MR. PINK

Don’t give me that. She don’t

make enough money, she can quit.

 

NICE GUY EDDIE

I don’t even know a fuckin’ Jew who’d have

the balls to say that. So let’s

get this straight. You don’t ever

tip, huh?

 

MR. PINK

I don’t tip because society says I

have to. Alright, I mean I’ll tip if somebody really

deserves a tip. If they

really puts forth the effort, I’ll give them

something extra.

But this tipping automatically,

it’s… for the birds. As far

as I’m concerned, they’re just

doin their job.



It goes on from there but you get the point. Society doesn’t get to tell me who is tip worthy and who is not! My eyes were opened! From this point on I would never tip! Ever!

Unless she, “really put forth the effort.”

I think that lasted a week. Maybe a month. Holy hell were the guys in Reservoir Dogs overly nice to Mr. Pink because I tried that not tipping thing one time in front of a group of people. I was pretty sure none of them had seen Reservoir Dogs and I pulled my own Mr. Pink. They were maaaaaad at me! A couple of them ended up throwing in extra money on top of what they were already tipping because I was such an asshole for not leaving anything. One of them stopped talking to me forever. I literally never heard from her again. That was twenty five years ago and that was first and the last time I decided not to tip. It was made pretty clear to me that if you did not tip the service staff -- you were pariah douche bag number one!  

But that was when I was twenty years old and most twenty year old men are still pretty stupid. I mean, to be honest, I didn’t really believe Mr. Pink’s arguments. I didn’t really want to not tip that waitress. But the scene in Dogs played out funny. I mean, really, really funny.

And if it played out like that in real life then everyone would laugh when I said it and we’d have a super funny conversation. Starring me! And then everyone would like me more! Because that’s how twenty year olds think -- dear God I just want everyone to like me!

Imagine my shock when it had the exact opposite effect.

I would never try and pull anything that stupid now. Now I tend to believe that if you tip less than fifteen percent you’re kind of a prick.

A story from two years ago:

A long time acquaintance of mine, Anna, is working a bartending shift at The Saloon, downtown Minneapolis. I am standing at the bar talking to her. Two men stand next to me and order drinks. She makes their drinks, tells them the cost. Each one pays for their own drink. The exact amount in cash. No tip.

She doesn’t say anything. She just comes back to me and rolls her eyes. We chat for another ten minutes. The two men have finished their drink and signal her for another round. She makes them both another round and drops them off to the two men. Again, each pulls out a roll of cash and pays for their own drink. The exact amount in cash. No tip. She takes their money and puts it in the register. They put their cash away.

Ten minutes later, this happens a third time. She takes their money. Exact cash for the cost of the drinks. She hands them their drinks. They both put their cash rolls away. No tip.

But this time --- as they reach for their drinks, Anna snatches the drinks away from their hands and puts them down in the sink behind the counter -- way out of their reach. She snaps at them, “If you can’t afford to tip your bartender then stay at home and drink!”

Both men, angrily protest (because men are really, really good at becoming angry -- especially when they drink) and demand their money back. Which I thought was fair but Anna doesn’t back down and they end up calling her “bitch”, “cunt” and “whore” as they are escorted out.

Then she gives both of their drinks to me!

True story.

You can apply her sentence to any form of food service employee. If you can’t afford to tip your waitress / bartender / delivery driver / cab driver / barista / bellman / valet than you can’t afford to go to their establishment and / or use their service!

Stay at home!  

I don’t want to stay at home! And what’s with all that racist stuff about black folks not tipping?

I’ve read several studies and articles. And they all kind of say the same thing -- there is some validity to specific groups of people not tipping well. And it’s not because they are cheap. First let’s discuss who gets tipped, who does not and how much.  From www.waitbutwhy.com -- they conducted an informal interview process with hundreds of tipped professions in NYC and compiled data from several hundred people that responded to their online survey. Their chart:

Tipping Statistics

There doesn’t seems to be anything too out of the ordinary here. I appreciate the additional notes -- all of which seem to be valid points. I’ve still never understood why I should have to tip a bartender for opening a bottle of beer and handing it to me -- something which took all of five seconds. That’s worth a one dollar tip?   

Maybe. Maybe not. I still do it, though. Bottle of beer - one dollar tip. As for the apartment doorman, that’s NYC thing. Well, maybe it’s a very large metropolis thing. But tipping at Christmas definitely happens.

Anyway, everything else I’ve read on tipping seems to support the general finding on the waitbutwhy site. But who are the non tippers? Who are the under tippers? 

Sadly, there seems to be some validity to the stereotypes of specific groups, including ethnicities, tip less than would be "expected." A polling survey of 1000+ servers across the country concluded the tipping scales look like this:

 

 

That looks to be par for the course with the other articles I've read.  Teenagers tip the worst (they don't have a lot of money), all male dining parties the best (men are insecure and want to show off to everyone).  Some surprising details, such as -- Christians and smokers?  Who knew smokers were above average tippers? 

But of all the maligned tippers, blacks seem to have the worst reputation. I always found that to be a bit racist. And so I thought, I'll write an article about tipping and debunk that racist shit! But then -- I couldn't really find much information to back up that theory. I read Ebony's great article: Are Black People Really Bad Tippers?   He offered some anecdotal evidence and sources some surveys and articles but his general conclusion, as a black man, was -- well, yes, we kind of are bad tippers. But his general breakdown of why is what's important. Basically:

1) Insufficient education about tipping.

2) People seek to confirm beliefs they already hold.

3) Bad tipping = an opportunity to stick it to, "the man."

4) Black folks get less than good service because of their tipping rep.

There are fair points. I just recently found out that it would be nice if one tipped housekeepers at hotels. This never occurred to me before. Which is an ignorance about tipping, a lack of education. So I totally buy number 1. I know the same is true with a lot of foreigners. I once had a meal with a few Greek ladies, a Chinese man, a Japanese woman, two people from India and a few Americans. After the meal, almost all the non Americans went out to smoke. I noticed that each and everyone of them left a single dollar bill on their plate. I went out and told them that they all under tipped by a few dollars each. They were pretty shocked and embarrassed about it. One of them, the Japanese woman, mentioned she had been told by her mother to tip everyone one dollar because -- that's what you do in America

The Washington Post did their own research and found similar results about insufficient education:

From the WP article, "...indicates that black people tip less because they believe servers expect lower tips, and they underestimate the tip amounts that others leave. Whereas roughly 70 percent of whites identify the customary or expected restaurant tip to fall within 15-20 percent of the bill, only about 35 percent of blacks do. In addition, black respondents, on average, believe that the typical restaurant customer tips about 13.4 percent of the bill, while whites believe that the typical restaurant customer tips about 14.5 percent. Together, these differences in perceptions of “what is expected and typical” explain about half of the black-white difference in tipping."

Mr. Young, from his Ebony article, explains his second point: "It's very possible that the perception is driving the stereotype, instead of it being the other way around. Basically, if I'm aware Black people are thought to be bad tippers, I'm going to be more sensitive to any example of Black people tipping badly—evidence that would confirm thoughts I already had. It's really no different than the person who swears all Black men are dating White women, and takes the three interracial couples they see at the mall as proof—ignoring the 25 Black-on-Black couples they also walked past."

 

Fair enough.

His third point -- ummm -- seems unlikely. And Mr. Young agrees calling it the "least likely (point) to be true" but adds, "it would be disingenuous to ignore the possible racial politics that could be at play here.  

His final point, I feel, pulls his punch a bit. I think it should read, "Black folks get less than good service because of their tipping rep and also because some folks are racist pricks." Though, to be fair, he elaborates in the article: "It's no secret that Black people are thought to be bad tippers. You know what's even less of a secret for the last, I don't know, 400 years or so? That Black people have been on the receiving end of some pretty bad treatment ... we still often get treated differently than our White counterparts."

Yes. One hundred percent true. And that really made me think that each group of "under tippers" probably has equally valid reasons beyond the stereotypical, "they're cheap" for not tipping as well as society would expect. The same goes for folks that over tip,which is a trait I find to be a general sign of insecurity. There are mitigating factors in each and every case of tipping and I only singled out black folks because I was 100% positive I would be able to debunk the "bad tipping" stereotypes as outdated and biased. Instead what I found was that -- what a shock -- lots of people are shitty tippers for lots of different reasons.

While it's true that I was able to find some dissenting opinion to the black folk not tipping well stereotype but, to be honest, most of it read like bad fiction. Take, D. Watkins's piece, "Yes, black people do tip - even when we shouldn't have to" on Salon. It makes fine points. But if you read the article it hits every single trope you could possible imagine. Too good to be true (in other words). Remember, the easiest way to lose an argument is to grotesquely over state your opinion. The Watkins story was probably based in some truth and in writing was exaggerated for effect but as it hits every single perfect racist note and response, it stretches the imagination a bit. 

But that's just one dissenting opinion. I'm sure there are thousands of valid bits of evidence both anecdotal and researched. I read several studies and published papers (the ones I didn't have to pay for anyway. Seriously, academia, like I'm going to pay $39.95 to read your twenty pages of research?) and they seriously all pretty much said the same thing. Don't take my word for it. Check it out yourself.

But, speaking anecdotally, I have two close friends who have been in food service for 20+ years.  The first, Brad: a tall, built black man in his forties. The second, Robin: a short, firecracker white woman almost fifty years old. As I've known them a long time I've heard dozens of stories about shitty customers. Asking each of them flat out, "Over your twenty years of food service employment, which group of people, or ethnicity -- tips the worst?"

Brad, the black man, responds, "Oh, man! I'm embarrassed to tell you. But it's sisters. I can not count the times where I've had a group of sisters stay in my section for hours and spend hundreds and hundreds only to tip me, like, five dollars total."

Robin, the white woman, responds, "Moms on "kids eat free" night. Sorry. It's true. Moms bring their kids and all their kid's friends. It's a shit show. The moms drink like fish (then drive all the kids home). And don't tip at all. Half of my mom customers on "kid's eat free" night tip zero."

For what that's worth. 

Hey, you never really tackled the point of, "I shouldn't have to tip because society tells me I must do so. Mr. Pink is right - if servers don't like their jobs they can quit!"

Mr. Pink is wrong. To see how wrong, check out, "15 of the worst "tippers" that will make your head spin." It's nothing but hypocrisy, ignorance, assholery and completely feigned "slights" against the tippers, "honor." In other words, bullshit.   

There are some restaurants that are experimenting with paying higher wages and cutting out the need for tips. It's a totally fine plan that may or may not work. But for the most part, restaurants pay a wage much lower than their state minimum because employees are expected to make more money through tips. It doesn't matter if you like that fact or not -- that's the way the overwhelming majority of American restaurants work. If you hate it then do something to get more "high wage, no tip" restaurants into your neighborhood and frequent them. But enough with the childish "I don't believe in tipping" attitude. Seriously, when you say something that idiotic, you should like an ass-hat. Just stop.

I'll let Chelsea Fagen wrap it up. Her opening point from, 16 New Rules for Tipping at Restaurants, over at www.thoughtcatalog.com:

"First and foremost, if you are a person that doesn't tip or -- whatever this is supposed to mean -- doesn't "believe" in tipping (as though it were a figure in Greek mythology), you are not allowed to go to restaurants. You cannot afford to eat out, either financially or ethically, or both. Spare the restaurant staff your presence." 

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: Cooking with the Cajun, The Food Chain, Free Talk Live.

 

 



 

The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the GCN Live newsroom. A guest editorial follows.

 

“I once sent a dozen of my friends a telegram saying 'flee at once - all is discovered.' They all left town immediately.” ―attributed to Mark Twain

When one looks at the quote above, one might ask, to what does this apply? It is simple. It applies to those who have been exposed for crimes who were found out (Luke 12:2) and fled.

In America, the culprits in the Church and in the government have been found out again and again. Yet, they do not flee.  They are encouraged to continue on.  Strength is simply added to their tyrannical ways by those who tolerate their crimes (Jeremiah 9:6; 18:12).

"The greatest sin of our time is not the few who have destroyed but the vast majority who sat idly by."  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Church in America Took the Bait

My columns are not about magnifying the crime, but rather magnifying the law (Psalm 94:16) against the crime to bring forth righteousness and peace, like that of the good police officers that we have in this country.  They have painted on the side of their cars “Peace officer.” Peace officers enforce the law against the crimes to maintain order. Law and Order:  America, you are the Law!

“Hearken unto Me, My people; and give ear unto Me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from Me, and I will make My judgment to rest for a light of the people.” (Isaiah 51:4)

If the people in this country are sick and tired of being sick and tired, which I believe they are and rightly so, then it is time for Americans to stand up and defend what has rightly been entrusted unto each and every one of us.

“The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the Constitutional rights secure.” ― Albert Einstein

Thomas Jefferson, who was one of the architects and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, which 75% of that document shares with the world the crimes of King George who would not rule in the fear of God and was thrown off by those who would not be ruled by a tyrant, once said:

“[Bear] always in mind that a nation ceases to be republican only when the will of the majority ceases to the law. …”

God Given Rights

America, it is for your enemies within to understand in this life what the Brits felt like when they warred and fled before our American forefathers (Isaiah 56).

Mercy vs. Judgment

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Back when I sat on the edge of my theater seat with clenched fists for almost two hours during Life, I tweeted immediately after that the film was the Alien of a new generation. I Tweeted that because like the original Alien film, the beauty of Life is that you don’t see much of the alien. It’s thrilling because the alien is growing quickly, and you don’t know what to expect the next time you see it. Neither do the characters, which better allows their fear to infect you.

GCN’s resident movie critic, Charles Karel Bouley, called Life an Alien “ripoff,” and I agree wholeheartedly. But I appreciate that the makers of Life utilized the successes of Alien and those suspenseful thrillers before it. But what I appreciate most about Life is that it’s at least a partially original story, with motivated plot and character arcs and an original, twisted ending that utilizes parallel editing pretty well. Life is an Alien movie with a new alien, just as Alien was Jaws with a new shark, and Jaws the Psycho with a new psycho.

It’s just too bad Alien: Covenant did its best to ruin Life’s opening weekend and gross earnings. Life has made just under $80 million worldwide, while Covenant moved up its release date, forcing Life into a crowded month and weekend. Logan and Get Out were both R-rated films still pulling strong numbers, and that’s two too many. Covenant did $4.2 million in Thursday night preview screenings at about 3,000 locations. As of this writing, Life is currently rated five points lower than Covenant on the Tomatometer and audience score.

So there’s another Alien movie. That’s six if you don’t count Alien vs. Predator. But you can tell Covenant is not a true Alien movie by simply comparing the trailers. Remember the Alien trailer? Well, I guess I don’t either. It was before my time, but I do remember watching effective trailers in film school, including that of Alien. It’s an effective trailer because the alien is never revealed. They start with the suspense right out of the gate and leave you wanting -- no -- needing to go to the theater to see that damn alien!

Covenant attempts to build suspense with its trailer but throws it all down the drain with the last shot. Sure they wait until the very end of the trailer to reveal the alien, but I’d argue they never needed that final shot of the alien. Almost everyone knows what the alien looks like by now, but the revelation used to be reserved for those who paid for a movie ticket. Now Hollywood just puts the revelation on the poster like a brand, but the art of making a great trailer has gone by the wayside as well.

Karel said Covenant doesn’t offer us anything new regarding suspense, “but it goes back to the same cinematography, the same type score, the same lighting that the original did oh so many years ago. BUT that had things we had not seen before.”

So Life can’t be an Alien ripoff with a mostly original story, villain and ending, and things we haven’t seen, but we can remake the same damn movie over and over as long as it shares part of the name of the original film? I might be in the minority, but I’d rather see someone attempt a film that’s even partially original than see the same film with the same shots and same music I saw 20 years ago with better computer graphics. Speaking of exactly the same...

The trailer for Life is almost an exact replica of the Alien trailer and is equally suspenseful. You never see the alien in its grown form -- only the faces of its victims -- which is plenty. The trailer doesn’t give too much away, and neither does the poster. The last time I was that excited to see a film (besides 2017’s Get Out for obvious reasons) was Dark Knight Rises five years earlier (and that’s because I’m a Batman freak). I just had to see that alien! And I am in no way comparing Life to either Get Out or Dark Knight Rises. I’m merely commenting that the feeling of excitement I had going into the film was piqued thanks to the trailer and movie poster. I was sold, and the people responsible for creating those marketing materials should get mad props.

As a fan of film and not necessarily of the Alien franchise, I appreciated what Ridley Scott did with the Alien prequel, Prometheus. He made it like the first Alien movie. The Xenomorph in Alien had just four minutes of screen time and didn’t appear until an hour into the film. That’s how you build suspense. The only horror or thriller villain to win an Academy Award spent 20 minutes onscreen. That’s all the role required thanks to Anthony Hopkins.

The Prometheus trailer never reveals the alien and neither does the poster. If you had never seen an Alien film you could have gone to the theater not even realizing you were going to see an Alien film. Then, after the most gruesome, on-screen c-section ever, that newborn alien just sits in that locked room. You almost forget about it while waiting for the big payoff -- the fight with the “engineer.” And when those doors open, the alien does not disappoint. It’s suspenseful more than it’s scary, and suspense is better.

But moviegoers have made things easier on filmmakers these days by turning out in droves for horror flicks and action movies that aren’t nearly as dedicated to cinematic and thematic quality as thrillers and dramas. I mean, a handheld-shot, horror movie made nearly $250 million. And while Covenant looks to be on its way to good payday, it’s also surrounded with the likes of a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a third animated movie about talking Cars, a sequel to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and a remake of The Mummy with Tom Cruise (which I find to be incredibly disturbing).

My point is the standards of moviegoers have fallen tremendously, likely due to the lack of originality and variety available at movie theaters these days. Hollywood is getting away with it and will continue to do so until people stop paying exorbitant amounts of money to see bad films.

“Ridley knows how to terrorize us...but when Scott discovers that we can be terrorized again with less, instead of more, and when the writers can innovate instead of capitalize, the next great horror film will be made,” Karel said.

I would venture to say horror isn’t a genre that lends itself to originality, and if writers want to innovate, they wouldn’t write horror or action. They’d write suspenseful thrillers, which require new monsters and new stories like Life has given us. I so hope there's a sequel called After Life and a sequel to the sequel called Life After Life. Given the ending of Life, I'd say the future of the franchise is brighter than the box office numbers indicate.

I have no problem with the Alien franchise continuing. It’s a fantastic story and now a fantastic pre-story. But if you’re going to make an Alien movie, make an Alien movie -- trailer, poster and all. Leave some wiggle room for the imagination to fantasize prior to throwing the alien in our face. That’s what made Alien so great, and while Life and Prometheus are contrived by design, at least they stayed true to the inspiration. If Alien: Covenant stays true to its inspiration, it’ll be contrived from the sci-fi, action movie Aliens, which, by design, means it can’t be as cinematically or thematically entertaining as Life or any of its predecessors.

Editor’s Note: An update will follow with my review of Alien: Covenant.

Editor's Note: I finally watched Alien: Covenant, and since it's been almost four months since this was originally published, you are right to assume that I didn't see it in a theater. I'm glad I didn't, because the latest Alien movie isn't even worth renting. While I'll appreciate the franchise continuing tradition and making a woman the film's strongest character, that's about the only thing I like about it besides Daniel McBride's performance. Michael Fassbender returns as David and also plays Walter -- an updated version of David. But Walter is duller, too, and for good reason. The humans don't want him to create anything for fear of what he's capable. This doesn't allow Fassbender to carry the screen like he did with David in Prometheus, but the film does do a good job illustrating the potential hazards of artificial intelligence, leaving you wondering for how long you'll be atop the food chain -- and not because of the aliens.

The plot is oh so predictable from beginning to end. Upon introductions of the Covenant crew, I knew exactly who would live and who would die. But even their deaths weren't especially entertaining or creative, with one crew member slipping on blood and injuring her leg to make things easy for the newborn alien. The biggest problem I had with the film was how almost everyone panics (and unrealistically at that) the moment something goes wrong. It might be just a colonizing mission, but they're in outer freaking space. If this crew had any training whatsoever, most didn't show it. And whether or not you're aware aliens exist, you must assume aliens exist, and have a plan in case you make contact. Apparently, NASA doesn't have a protocol for dealing with aliens, either, but that's because they're not even close to getting far enough from Earth to find any. Covenant, however, is en route to a planet that could sustain human life, and therefore other life, and the crew awakes seven years from their destination. I'm sorry, but anyone who boards a spaceship and falls asleep for a decade while roaming outer space and awakes with the assumption they're still the only intelligent life in the vicinity is either incredibly vain or incredibly stupid, or both. Alien: Covenant is equally as stupid. The entire film exists because Prometheus was so good and revived the franchise. They certainly didn't need Ridley Scott to make and sell this garbage. Prometheus did that. Life, however, is a fresh take on the alien story and far more entertaining than Covenant. It might not be as introspective and thought-provoking, but Life is more suspenseful, offers believable performances, and has a much better ending because I didn't see it coming when the movie started. The only thing I was wrong about is Covenant wasn't as scary as Life.

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During my commute home, listening to 105 The Vibe as I always do, I learned that more than 40 percent of all litter and 28 to 33 percent of all litter in America is cigarette butts. That’s 1.69 billion pounds of non-biodegradable, toxic trash, and over 65 percent of cigarette butts end up littered. I was immediately disgusted because while I now know cigarette butts account for more than 40 percent of all litter, there’s still a couple billion pounds of litter on top of those cigarette butts.

Thankfully, tax increases have been effective in decreasing the number of smokers in America, from roughly 21 percent of the adult population in 2005 to 15 percent in 2015. The same approach should be taken with litterers.

Littering is bad for everyone. No one wants to live in a dump, so why do people leave garbage on the streets and sidewalks? Well, because no one likes to carry trash with them. I have a solution, though, that would end America’s litter problem once and for all. Littering should be added to the list of federal misdemeanors, and litterers should be fined an exorbitant amount or forced to do an unreasonable amount of community service picking up litter.

Think about it. Littering literally affects everyone in the nation and world. We all breathe the same air and share the same water, so making littering a federal offense makes sense, especially if 81 percent of all littering is done with intent. If tampering with mail is a federal offense, littering can be a federal offense, too. Littering would also be more likely to be enforced if it was a federal offense rather than a municipal ordinance or state statute.

Cities and states don’t issue enough littering citations and don’t collect nearly enough in fines for littering. While Maryland has a maximum fine of $30,000 for littering, that’s for over 500 pounds of litter. I guess that would apply if you left a broken-down car on the side of the road. Very few states have minimum fines in place. In Colorado the minimum fine is just $20. In Delaware it’s $50. In North Dakota and Utah it’s $100. In Alabama the minimum fine is $150.

State and municipal littering laws are all well and good if enforced, which they’re not. The one time I’ve seen them enforced was on the night of my friend’s 21st birthday. With his sober girlfriend driving, he saw a cop car drive by and screamed the lyrics to a popular N.W.A. song out the window, and followed that up by throwing a gallon of water out the window. Well, the very next car (and the one after that as a matter of fact) was a cop car. We got pulled over, and my friend did his best not to puke on the hood of the cop car. He was issued citations for littering and...littering and….invalid registration. I think he said the littering ticket was $20, and he got out of the registration ticket because he renewed it immediately.

But how many people would litter if they were required to pay a $500 fine to the federal government on top of the state’s fine or do an equivalent amount of community service cleaning up litter along interstate highways? I’d venture to guess you’d rarely see someone flick a cigarette out of a moving car or throw a fast food wrapper on the ground. Even though cops can’t be everywhere at once, just the idea of paying for a DUI keeps people from driving drunk. Why would littering be any different?

You might be thinking the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Well, there are a lot of punishments that don’t fit the crime in this country. In Minnesota, a seatbelt violation can cost you over $100, and that’s a law enforced to protect you. Why should a law enforced to protect your health be any different? Both laws are technically improving the safety of all Americans.

If you’re a smoker littering is probably a part of your DNA at this point. You don’t put your cigarette butts back in the pack to throw away later, which is exactly what you should do if you’re not near a trash can or ash tray. You should treat every street in every part of the world like a trail in a national or state park. If you don't litter in a national or state park, why should any other place be any different? Just because a national or state park has natural beauty that hasn’t been destroyed doesn’t mean you should destroy the places lacking natural beauty. One way to get around this is to start rolling your own cigarettes. Unlike pre-rolled cigarettes, roll-your-owns are biodegradable and filter-less. Cigarette filters pose the biggest risk to our environment. If you’re worried about tar and need a filtered cigarette, just get a few reusable filters. TarGard makes good products. I’ve tried them, and they work. They also make the cigarette filter made famous by Hunter S. Thompson.

Most smokers have a specific brand, though, and getting them to change is like asking them to stop smoking. I have a friend who has been smoking Camel filters for over a dozen years, and he couldn’t tell you why. It was just the first cigarette he tried.

There are items that can keep you from covering your community in litter, though. The Bell automotive “Butt Bucket” is a cigarette butt receptacle that looks a little too much like a coffee cup, but it keeps butts off the streets. My friend has one of them in his truck, and the smell is surprisingly subtle.

So if you’re going to smoke, please make sure your butts end up in the trash. Gutter butts collect in storm drains and then into waterways, and can clog storm drains and sanitary sewer systems, leaving the streets covered in toxic, cigarette-smelling water. Worse yet, that toxic water kills the transparent crustacean Daphnia, a planktonic animal that occupies a key position in aquatic ecosystems.

Basically, until everyone stops smoking, we have to stop littering cigarette butts, because it’s the easiest way to nearly cut the litter in half.

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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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Dr. Sam Chang of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, reported in an American Urological News release, “We’ve known traditional smoking raises bladder cancer risk, and given the surge in popularity of e-cigarettes, it’s imperative we uncover any potential links.”

Chemicals in cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, such as nicotine, are excreted through the urine. Researchers examined the urine of e-cig users vs. those of non-smokers and found 92% of those who vaped had at least two of the five chemicals tested.

The University of Minnesota in 2015 identified chemicals commonly found in e-cig vapor to include:

Formaldehyde (human carcinogen)

Acetaldehyde (carcinogen related to alcohol drinking)

Acrolein (highly irritating and toxic)

Toluene (toxic) NNN, NNK (tobacco carcinogens related to nicotine)

Metals (possible carcinogens and toxicants)

In a second study, researchers looked at bladder tissue to see what nicotine and some of the chemicals in vapor could do. They found nicotine, nitrosamines and formaldehyde not only damaged lining but blocked the DNA repair, hence increasing risk of bladder cancer.

Although exact causes of bladder cancer are unknown, tobacco smoke has been the single greatest risk factor.  Other risk factors for bladder cancer include diets rich in fried foods, arsenic, radon, occupational exposure to aromatic amines in textile, rubber and paint plants, and some medications such as pioglitazone used in diabetes. Being exposed to a worm causing schistosomiasis can also put one at risk for bladder cancer.

Symptoms of bladder cancer include blood in the urine (hematuria), difficulty urinating due to obstruction, pain/burning with urination (dysuria), and sometimes no symptoms at all.

Bladder cancer is treated by surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or immunotherapy.  The earlier it's diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

According to the American Cancer Society they project for 2017:

  • About 79,030 new cases of bladder cancer (about 60,490 in men and 18,540 in women)

  • About 16,870 deaths from bladder cancer (about 12,240 in men and 4,630 in women)

How many of these being related to electronic cigarettes is unknown.

LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00am-2:00pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00pm (Central) at GCN.

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.

Week One: Change the Way You Eat

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.

Know Your Serving Sizes

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 Your Meals for the Week

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.

Make a Grocery List

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 More Water

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.

Prepare Your Eating Environment

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.

Eat Slower

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.

Eat a Big Breakfast

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.

Eat More Frequently but Eat Smaller Meals

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.

Eat More Satisfying Foods

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.

Don’t Avoid a Midnight Snack

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…

Get at Least Seven Hours 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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Three people have died, and nineteen suspected to be infected with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the outbreak of Ebola after receiving reports of a cluster of cases.

The first case occurred April 22nd when a 39 year old symptomatic male traveled a great distance to reach a medical facility who tested him for Ebola.  By the time the results came back he was deceased and had exposed multiple people who assisted him with his travel and then medical care.  According to the CDC, six others had fallen ill in the same village and were taken care of by individuals who most likely did not wear protective gear.

The DRC had not seen any cases since 2014.  The West African Ebola epidemic spanned  from the end of December 2013 to 2016 infecting over 28,000 people and killing over 11,000.  The epidemic was one of the worst in Ebola’s history and its high mortality rate took countries such as Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia by surprise. A vaccine was not available, and medications such as Zmapp were experimental and not in great supply.  Hospitals were not stocked with protective clothing able to prevent the minutest of exposure to the deadly virus.  Travel bans were difficult to institute and top that off with a lack of education on what we were dealing with and it was unfortunately the perfect storm for one of the deadliest outbreaks in recent history.

Ebola however emerged far before this.  Ebola was named after the Ebola River in Zaire and was first recognized in 1976 when it caused two outbreaks affecting 318 and 284 people respectively .  Multiple small outbreaks occurred since then according to the CDC:

1995           Democratic Republic of Congo          infected 315

2000           Uganda                                             infected 425

2007          Democratic Republic of Congo           infected 264

And multiple smaller sporadic cases occurred in the years between.

In January 2016 health officials declared the Ebola outbreak had ended, however cases continued to smolder.

Why this occurs is the virus may not leave the body completely.  Its been found to live in semen up to a year and some survivors can suffer a reinfection months later.  For example, in 2015 Dr. Ian Crozier successfully fought Ebola but two months after discharge, suffered a severe eye infection which turned out to be Ebola lurking in his eye.

A study in 2015 found Ebola be able to survive outside a human body for days and longer if within a liquid such as water or blood.   Mosquitoes are not known to transmit the virus however it can live in bats as well as monkeys and apes.  Pets have not been known to contract Ebola from  their sick owners put its been postulated that pigs could if in contact with a victim.

Ebola is a virus from the Flavivirus family that causes a hemorrhagic fever with symptoms of sudden fever, myalgias, headache and sore throat and then progressing to nausea and vomiting, liver and kidney issues and internal and external bleeding.

 

LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00am-2:00pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00pm (Central) at GCN.

 

 

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