Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Worth A Repeat: Top Ten Reasons Not to Text While Driving

10. Your knees are actually not the best appendages to use for steering.

9. How can you talk to your dog (who's riding shotgun) when you're texting someone?

8. When you get slammed into, it might ruin your phone. And your nails and your outfit and your brain.

7. While you're trying position the screen to avoid the sun's glare, you might miss that train approaching.

6. Laughing at auto-correct might make you laugh until you wet yourself.

5. You don't need to know you missed an incoming text to tell you your friend is currently standing in line at the DMV while chewing gum and texting you.

4. The phone doesn't realize that you only get one lane to drive in

3. Just because you enjoy the little tune it plays when you receive a text, doesn't mean you can't be just as happy listening to an entire song on your radio.

2. There is just something wrong about texting someone who is sitting in the back seat of your car.

And the #1 reason not to text while driving:



Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
Talking on a cell phone while driving can make a young driver’s reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old.
About 2600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in car accidents were attributed to texting and driving last year.
4 out of every 5 accidents (80%) are attributed to distracted drivers. In contrast, drunk drivers account for roughly 1 out of 3 (33%) of all accidents nationally. Please do not do either!
Almost 50% of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are texting while driving. And there are plenty of drivers older than that who are texting and driving as well.
According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, drivers talking on cell phones are 18% slower to react to brake lights. They also take 17% longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked.
Check this out at the government Dept. of Transportation website about distracted driving:

More about It Can Wait:

Still not convinced that being distracted while operating a 2000 pound weapon is a bad idea? Read these: http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stories/

What will it take to make you stop?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Memorial Day: Arlington, Poppies, Taps, and the Cost

Memorial Day this year is on Monday, May 27. What do you know about it?

The first Memorial Day, on May 30, 1865,  was called 'Decoration Day,' because it was designated as a day to remember the dead of the Civil War and to decorate their graves. However, did you know that at that time, a number of southern states refused to participate? Some still hold separate days of remembrance: January 19 in Texas; April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 in Louisiana and Tennessee.

For some interesting facts about the Civil War, visit: http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/war/facts.html

Did you know that the land where Arlington National Cemetery is located, was originally the home of General Robert E. Lee? Lee was married to a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, named Mary Anna Custis-the property was inherited by Mary Anna. The mansion on the property is still sometimes referred to as the Custis-Lee Mansion. The Union seized the property and used it for a headquarters. As the war continued, there was a huge demand for burial space (see the number of casualties below), so they converted the grounds into a cemetery. The first graves were very close to the mansion so that Lee would see them every time he looked out his window, should he ever return.

It has expanded over time to include 624 acres with more than 400,000 people buried there. There are many separate memorials within the cemetery, including one for military nurses, two Space Shuttles, and the National Park Service, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. To be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, you must be either a veteran or someone on active duty at the time of death, or the spouse or minor child of a serviceman or woman, or have held elected office, including Chief Justices of the Supreme Court.

Visit the Arlington National Cemetery website for more information and pictures:
How did the custom of wearing the red poppy flowers for Memorial Day come about?
It started with this poem written by a Canadian military doctor  serving in France in World War I in a part of France known as Flanders (Flanders is an area in the north of France close to Belgium)---and by the way, he threw the poem in the garbage because he didn't like it, and it was taken out of the garbage and submitted to a newspaper by one of his soldiers:

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Memorial for WWII soldiers--France
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A lady named Moina Michael came up with the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who had died during their service to the country in wartime. She sold poppies to her friends and used the money to benefit servicemen in need. Eventually, the VFW began to sell them, developing a program where disabled vets made artificial poppies to sell.

A thoughtful video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qt57c7rnHM
The song was written by Pete Seeger.

24 Notes Everyone Recognizes
What do you know about "Taps," played at the end of every military funeral? It's called "Taps" because years ago in wartime, at the end of the day the bugler sounded some notes and then tapped three times on the drum to signal Lights Out (or Extinguish).

The composition of Taps used at military funerals was written by Daniel Butterfield, a Civil War veteran.
  • It was first used officially in July, 1862.
  • Taps is often played by members of your local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) at funeral services.
  • Taps was played as a quieter alternative to a cannon volley, which had been done at Civil War funerals:  if the service was held too close to enemy troops the noise of a cannon would tip them off.
  • There are words to Taps. Here is one verse:
                Day is done
                 Gone the Sun
                   From the lake, from the hill, from the sky
                     All is well
                       Safely rest
                         God is Nigh.

  • At a military funeral where there has been a gun salute, the casings from the spent shells are collected by the servicemen who did the salute and are presented in a pouch to the spouse or other survivors. The bugler and marksmen silently march away from the site when they are finished.

Number of Americans killed in war:

Revolutionary War                 4,435*
War of 1812                            2,260
Mexican War                         13,283
Civil War                             364,511
Spanish-American War           2,446
World War I                        116,516
World War II                      405,399
Korean War                          36,574
Viet Nam Conflict                 58,209
Gulf War                                    382
Afghanistan                             2,031
Iraq                                         4,487
War on Terror                         6,280

*did you know that the Revolutionary War lasted more than 6.5 years?

Remember someone who has served our country, not just once a year but all year.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Keep On Graduating: Life is a Do-Over

Your graduation date is coming up soon. Congratulations! You are probably thinking in terms of the future: what job will you get? How much money will you make? When will your student loans be paid off?

How soon can you take a paid vacation?

You have accomplished an admirable feat by completing a phase of your education.

Now what?

It's funny how we keep re-adjusting our lives, isn't it? Every part of life has an end that leads to a new start. A few years ago (maybe more than that), if you were starting high school, you thought: this is scary and new-how will I find my way around? What will the classes be like? Who will be friends with me? Will I like the teachers?

What if I can't open my locker???

Starting college, in small ways, resembles starting high school-again, in that you don't know the surroundings, instructors, or fellow students. Otherwise, college is refreshingly different: This time, you get to re-invent yourself: what you wear doesn't matter, everybody is 'college poor,' you're all seeking what to do with your lives. Nobody has any history with you. Cliques are gone. At the same time, college can be a sort of cocoon that shields you from the outside world until you're finished.

And a bonus: no lockers.

If you are getting ready to graduate from college, now you're thinking: I'm done with school, now I'm going to have my career. Your career will present a new set of people to know and new surroundings as well. It seems that life is just one 'do over' after another...almost like 'graduating' again and again.

Isn't that great?

Think in terms of 're-inventing yourself.' You are probably going to do this several times in your life. It doesn't only mean in your career/what you do to pay your bills, although that will likely occur more than you think: you may find yourself bored with a job, you may get promoted to a different job, you may have your job eliminated. You may pursue higher education in order to move to a new level of your career or to make a change in it.

It also applies to your personal life: you may get married, you may have a child, you may part ways with various people. There will be negative experiences and difficult times as well as plenty of good times. You will certainly make new friends and have new experiences; you'll have lots of learning opportunities. Each time, you have a chance to start over and re-invent yourself: you can see your world through a different lens.

Isn't that great?

The key to re-inventing yourself successfully is the way you react to it. There will be times when graduating from something is not what you really wanted. You can decide to complain about it endlessly, or you can feel sorry for yourself briefly and then see the 'up' side. What opportunities does this open up for you? If you are free from the last phase, what can happen next? What do you want? And how will you get there?

After all, what if you never graduated? Who wants to stay in the same place doing the same things and knowing only the same people you know right at this minute?

Education gives you a good toolkit: In it, you'll find all the things you learned, but also: self-esteem, responsibility, goal-setting, accountability, initiative, accomplishment, and pride. Break out the toolkit often and bring out the things you need. They're in there. You earned them---use them.

And that is a great thing.

Keep graduating your whole life, and enjoy the do-overs!

In the words of Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ramen Noodles, Mac & Cheese, Cereal, and Peanut Butter

College students have some standards. When it comes to eating cheaply, they know all about the staples that can tide you over when you have about $1.73 to your name until the next paycheck/care package/free cookie offer finally shows up.

The classics are noted at the bottom of that pyramid: Ramen Noodles, EasyMac. Of course, there are also things not noted like cereal, peanut butter, soup, and hot dogs.What do these food manufacturers have in common? Careers! Look at the list of positions you might be interested to know more about in the food industry:

Research and Development (creating and testing new products)
Engineering (yes, engineering-I have seen a reference to 'food engineering' a number of times)
Flavor chemists (I did not make that up) to test products for flavor and aroma
Food Safety
Packaging design
Marketing and sales
Production Line and supervising the production line
Quality Control
Accounting; company stock; communicating with shareholders
Legal advisors
Consumer product evaluations (taste tests and their results)

Models of wheat molecules

Let's think about a few of these careers:

Someone working in the food manufacturing industry will have had plenty of science in his or her background and education: Chemistry/chemical engineering, physics, biology, computer science, and also psychology, economics, social studies.

Food manufacturers need people to ensure their production facility is handling the food safely. Our government has standards in place that food manufacturers must obey. There are careers both in food inspection and in the plants where food is made to be sure it's handled safely.

 Carrot Cells

Food manufacturers employ dietitians and nutritionists. These employees look at the ingredients in the foods and assure the food labels are accurate (calories, carbs, etc.). If the manufacturer seeks to produce something that could be deemed 'healthy' or 'light,' or if it is an entire company based on 'health foods,' recipes need to include some things and exclude others. Have you noticed how, as people become more aware of a particular 'food fad,' it is reflected in foods we've had for years? Think 'whole grain' Alpha-Bits or 'anti-oxidant cranberries' in Great Grains cereal.

Changing the form of food into cereal, fruit bites, chips, or other pieces requires engineering of the ingredients, including what to add to the food to make it stay fresh. You might work on the food itself. Otherwise, you might be an engineer who could build a machine to use to produce that product.

What about marketing the product? You might design a cereal box, which might involve drawing, designing a logo, or taking photos: Think of the Wheaties box with the Olympic medalists. Learning about marketing will let you see which colors typically attract people more (red and yellow), which lettering, what size parts of the ad or the container should be.

Someone who works with statistics could determine future buying trends by recognizing what people want to buy. You might work directly with the manufacturer of the food or for a company that does research including polls and taste tests to record the results. Or, you might work on existing products to see what is selling and what is not.

If someone asked you to describe a box of Cheerios, you would probably think immediately of the yellow overall color of the box and the classic lettering of the name. The same is true for Coke (all red with classic lettering) and Campbell's Soups (top half white, bottom half red, gold 'medal' in the center). You can picture the basic packaging with no problem, right? Someone designed that years ago, and it's still the way they package that product. Slogans that stick with a product for years also help with customer recognition: "The best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup" or "M&Ms melt in your hand, not in your mouth or "The Incredible, Edible Egg" are all phrases that help sell products.

You might be involved in writing commercials that appear on television. You may design the entire ad, or may work with computer graphics or with humans who will 'act' in the ads. These usually involve music as well. Can you remember the 'theme' to Rice-A-Roni? Klondike Bars? "My bologna has a first name..."? And by the way, you're welcome: now one of those is going to stay in your head the rest of the day.

Accountants will be needed in the food industry, as will legal advisors in terms of product liability (we hope nobody finds a mouse in their bottle of ketchup, but you never know) and in case of mergers with other companies.

What do these foods have in common?


These foods are all manufactured by Minnesota-based companies: Barrel O'Fun, Hormel, Pearson Candy, Haagen-Dazs, Green Giant, Totino, Yoplait, and General Foods. Minnesota is also home to Schwan's, Progresso Soup, and Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants (these are subsidiaries of General Foods).

Consider a career in the food industry---you never know what you're going to get.

"Health food may be good for the conscience, but Oreos taste a lot better."
-Robert Redford