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What Should You Include in Your Home Security Package?

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More than 60 percent of all break-ins are residential. And if your home doesn’t have a security system, you could be up to 300 percent more likely to experience a burglary. If you’ve decided that it’s time to invest in a home security package, you’ll have several important choices to make when choosing what to include. While there is no one-size-fits-all home security system, there are some features and products you’ll want to consider including.

Smart Doorbells

An increasingly popular feature with home security systems is doorbells that have a small camera included. When someone presses the button, you’ll receive an alert that activates the camera on your phone, so you can see who’s at your door, even if you’re not at home at the time. Smart doorbells often include motion sensing capabilities, high-resolution video, and two-way audio so you can communicate with the person at the door to see who they are and what they want without having to open your door.

Easy-to-Use Panels

The control panel is the heart of any home security package. It’s where you can set up things like your surveillance range and how you prefer to get alerted if there’s an issue. Since many members of your family will likely need to access the control panel at one time or another, look for a system that includes a panel with a simple interface anyone can use.

Biometric-Based Systems

Usually, when a home security system is set up, you’re still able to access your home with locks and keys. Some newer home access control systems have adopted biometric technology that allows for entrance to your home with fingerprint-activated locks. Because access is based on each person’s unique fingerprints, it’s more difficult for your home’s locks to be compromised. You can still have an excellent home security system without this feature, but it’s worth considering if you don’t want to risk losing track of copies of your home keys that may be found by potential intruders.

Wireless Cameras

At one time, having a security system meant drilling holes into walls or finding ways to hide unsightly wires. Today, many systems use wireless cameras that incorporate Wi-Fi connections. Cameras that work without cables are also appealing because you’ll have more location possibilities since you don’t have to worry about finding room for a bunch of wires, although you’ll still need one cable for power. Receivers on cameras without wires can also be placed several hundred feet away from the main camera, allowing for even more placement options in and around your home. For instance, some homeowners prefer to put some of their cameras indoors near entryways so they can see when their children come home from school.

Motion-Activated Detection

With cameras placed outdoors, you don’t always want them to continuously record footage. In some situations, non-stop recording may be a violation of a neighbor’s privacy rights. One solution is to use cameras that only record when movements are detected. With some motion-activated cameras, detection ranges can be set to avoid activation issues when neighbors are on their own properties. Cameras with motion detection can also be wireless, which means not having tell-tale wires showing that possible intruders could attempt to cut.

Smart Thermostats

Another common feature in home security systems is thermostats that can be controlled remotely. As is the case with other home security features, smart thermostats can be linked to your home’s WiFi and accessed remotely via an app. You’ll be able to instantly see what the temperature is in each room of your house, which can help you make adjustments to save energy. Some of smart thermostats are capable of “learning” your preferences with temperature settings. Some apps linked to thermostats also send out alerts if your home suddenly becomes unusually hot or cold, which could suggest burst pipes or a fire. Some security systems also include options to remotely control and access lights and smoke detectors.

Price is a common concern with home security packages. However, advances in technology have made many of the components typically needed to provide sufficient peace of mind more affordable and accessible. And if you opt for wireless cameras, you can also avoid the expense of having to make extensive adjustments to your home’s existing wiring. You could even enjoy added savings with your homeowner’s insurance if you make your home more secure.

References:

https://www.alarms.org/burglary-statistics/

https://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/

https://www.securitychoice.com/adt-prices.html

https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/home-security-alarms/  

10 Herbal Supplements To Improve Your Health

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Herbal supplements provide people with many healing benefits. They help alleviate an array of ailments that people suffer from every day. The therapeutic benefits include reducing inflammation, detoxing the body of dangerous free radicals and even help in the prevention of serious diseases. Understanding the benefits of herbal supplements can help improve health in a natural and healthy way. The following ten herbal supplements are some of the most beneficial ones to be acquainted with.

Turmeric

A member of the ginger family, turmeric not only gives curries their rich color and flavor but also has a lot of health benefits. Turmeric is most effective against inflammation. This detrimental health condition afflicts many people, especially people who suffer from arthritis. Turmeric, according to the Arthritis Foundation, is effective in reducing and preventing joint inflammation. People who suffer from arthritis, and related diseases like rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, and bursitis will benefit from the positive results of turmeric supplements.

Rhodiola Rosea

Native to Arctic regions of Europe and Alaska, the rhodiola plant is used to alleviate lethargy and weakness. This golden root has been used as a traditional medicine in Scandinavia for hundreds of years and helps increase energy and stamina. Also known as an adaptogen, the rhodiola herb works by stimulating the body’s ability to resist environmental stress. This type of stress causes the adrenal glands to be continually stressed which wears down the body. Strengthening the adrenal glands that are located on the top of kidneys will help fatigue sufferers boost their energy.

Echinacea

This wonder herb is native to the United States and Canada and helps fight all sorts of infections. Echinacea works by boosting the immune system, the body’s natural defense against germs and infections. Clinical trials have shown that echinacea reduces the chances of a common cold from developing. Studies also showed that it reduces the duration of a cold from four days to one. Because echinacea has antiviral and antioxidant effects, it is also used to treat urinary tract and ear infections. While the effectiveness of echinacea continues to be discovered, it should be known that it is most effective at the onset of symptoms and infections. Considering the multitude of infections that echinacea fights against, it has become one of the most popular herbal supplements.

Garlic

Garlic is perhaps the most popular natural herb and taken by people around the world. It aids the cardiovascular and blood systems. It does this by reducing high cholesterol and also by increasing blood flow. Garlic also prevents the hardening of arteries which in turn reduces the risk of cardiac arrest. Garlic is also proven to reduce the risk of cancer including colon, breast and stomach cancers. Garlic supplements are most effective when they dissolve in the intestine. Therefore, it is important to take supplements that are properly coated so they don’t prematurely dissolve in the stomach.

Milk Thistle

Also called silymarin, milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant that detoxes the liver. The liver is the organ that assists the body in removing harmful waste. It is also the organ that is greatly overworked because of unhealthy diets and excessive alcohol intake. Overconsumption of fatty foods and drinking too much alcohol degrade the vitality of the liver. Milk thistle works by rejuvenating damaged liver cells. The heap-protective properties of milk thistle make it a good supplement for people desiring to improve their liver function.

Mimosa Pudica

This perennial herb is widely used in Ayurveda, a branch of traditional Indian medicine. It plays a prominent role in Ayurveda because it is used to treat various ailments including gynecological disorders, excessive bleeding, bronchitis and hemorrhoids. The extract of mimosa pudica also heals wounds significantly. The tremendous health benefits of this potent herb has led pharmaceutical companies to acknowledge its effectiveness.

Ginger

The number of health benefits of ginger is quite extensive, primarily because it is an effective antioxidant. Closely related to turmeric, this supplement can be taken in a number of ways including capsules and oil. One of the main reasons why people take ginger is to remedy nausea. It is also effective in containing the spread of fungi which causes yeast infection. Ginger has also been shown to relieve menstrual pain.

Asian Ginseng

Chinese and Korean people have been using ginseng to treat health symptoms for thousands of years. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is used to improve a person’s general well-being. This is attributed to ginsenosides, the natural pesticides that protect the ginseng from insects and bacteria. The Chinese also use it as an aphrodisiac and to promote physical vitality.

Berberine

Found in several plants including Oregon grape and European barberry, this chemical helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. There is clinical evidence that supports berberine lowering sugar levels in type 2 diabetes. It achieves this by reducing glucose production in the liver. Berberine is commonly taken by mouth during or after meals.

Valerian

Valerian is a perennial flowering plant, and a herbal supplement is derived from its root. Valerian is taken to improve sleep quality. The amount of time it takes to sleep, and quality of the actual sleep improve with this supplement. Valerian promotes relaxation by increasing GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain. It also decreases anxiety and lowers body temperature. These effects on the brain not only induce drowsiness but also aid in better REM sleep. People who have difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep throughout the night may benefit from this herbal supplement.

The benefits of herbal supplements continue to be discovered on a yearly basis as more studies are conducted. Many studies so far have shown that herbal supplements alleviate an array of ailments that affect people’s health. Among the many health benefits, they reduce dangerous inflammation, improve liver function, increase energy and even help prevent serious diseases. Herbal supplements are worth exploring, and the right one may very well improve your quality of life.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, you should check out the other articles in our Health column! You’re sure to find something entertaining.

References:

Dr. Lam

PennState Hershey

NIH

NCBI

Microbe Formulas

The Candida Diet

Mercola

Sleep Doctor

4 Reasons America’s Divorce System Is So Weird

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When you can’t seem to make a marriage work, it would make sense that you would go through a separation period before filing for your divorce. While this is how most people think about marital issues and the simplicity that should be the court system, there are a few reasons as to why America’s divorce system is so odd. If you plan on filing for divorce, make sure you know what you want because it’s often harder getting back together in the future than it is staying together in the first place.

One Year

In most states, you have to be separated from your spouse for one year before you can file for a divorce. This is where absolute divorces and limited divorces come into play. An absolute divorce is one that is finalized while one that is limited is simply a legal separation. If at any time during the year that you’re separated you share a bed together or have any form of intimate contact or try to reconcile the marriage, then you have to start the year over if you begin divorce proceedings in the future.

Against The Law

There are some states in the country where it’s against the law to marry someone again once your divorce is finalized. Kentucky is one of these states, although they only prohibit it once you’ve already been married three times. This means that you need to be sure that you want to proceed with ending the relationship because you might not have another chance to be together as husband and wife unless you move to a state where it’s not illegal to remarry someone.

Annulment

There are many reasons as to why you can have a marriage annulled. One reason in Delaware is if you were dared to marry someone else. If you actually follow through with a dare of this nature, then your marriage might appear to be legal because of the paperwork involved, but it won’t be valid and would be grounds for divorce.

Custody

Many couples who go through a divorce have children together. A visitation schedule is made so that each parent can see the children. However, there are regulations in place in some states that allow you to have visits with pets as well. Since pets are often considered a part of the family, they are taken into consideration during the divorce process.

Whether you’re tired of communicating or there are underlying issues in the relationship, filing for divorce can be stressful for everyone involved. Depending on where you live, you need to consider your decision carefully. You should also pay attention to the fine details of the divorce paperwork that is filed so that you receive any benefits or visitation rights that you have.

Looking for more information on divorce? Check out some of these articles.

Resources:

Coover Law Firm

Woman’s Day

Widener Law Blog

Animal Law

Ways to Help Your College Admission Chances

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Whether you’ve decided to pursue accounting or you want to teach geometry at the high school level, you at least know that you want to work in the mathematics field. With the serious competition for admission at many colleges, you’re likely wondering how you can improve your chances of acceptance.

Narrow Your Focus

Math is quite a broad subject. You could have many jobs with a degree in math, and determining what your preferred math area is can help you to get into the college of your choosing. When deciding, it would be wise to research and ask others for advice. You can ask your current math professors or career advisors about their own experiences or for recommendations on what they think you would enjoy. Also, plenty of college admission counselors are available to help, so should you be unhappy with the quality of advice that you get from your teachers and counselors you can always talk with them about your ideas and if they think their university would be right for you.

Boost Your Standardized Test Scores

While some colleges and universities have stopped looking at standardized test scores as a means of admitting students, plenty of them still do review this information. Taking a course to help bolster your standardized test scores, particularly in the mathematics-based areas, is essential. Find out when the next time is that you can take the test. Plan to work with a tutor until that time period. Most schools list their average standardized test scores on their websites, so you can set a goal that is above the average for the school.

Join Extracurricular Activities

It’s true that schools do want to admit students who excel in academics, but they also want to enroll individuals who are going to participate in the college experience at a broader level. In other words, joining extracurricular activities, particularly ones that are related to math, is important. For example, your school might have a math club or an organization dedicated to youths who want to go into your intended field. You may also discover an invitation to an honor society for math, and you could tutor students who are struggling with the skills.

Frame Your Essay

You shouldn’t assume that your numbers will speak for you just because you are looking to enter into a math-based field. Many schools note the importance of written communication, regardless of what your career plans are. In your essay, you can bring math to the forefront while still showcasing your strong writing skills. When you have a specific field of study in which you are interested, you can better shape your application materials to center around that topic. Also, you can include information about what is of particular interest to you about that program at that particular institution to which you are applying. Remember that it is important to be authentic in your essay and to discuss the specific school. You do not want to sound as though you just copied and pasted the same piece to dozens of different institutions.

Get a Job

Universities aren’t just interested in what you’ve done with school. They also want to see that you are well-rounded. Get a job can help you develop skills that will make it easier for you to succeed in college. Additionally, getting a job now means that you can start saving money for college. It’s not a cheap situation, so the earlier you start saving, the better.

Increasing your odds of getting into your desired college is important. After all, this decision is one that can significantly affect your future. So do your research both on the potential career path you want to take, and which school you think would be the best avenue to get you there. Once you know what you want, you can start working to achieve it.

 

5 Weight Loss Programs that Actually Work

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Modern life features an abundance of food with regular access. It can be hard to fight the urge to pull into the drive-through on your way home. TV commercials, billboards and radio ads bombard you with temptation. They keep chanting about sugary treats, salty snacks, and fatty foods. But you can buck your weight-gain trend for a healthier lifestyle with one of these proven weight loss programs.

Fasting

This program is called intermittent fasting (IF), alternate day fasting (ADF) or one meal a day (OMAD). The program is simple — don’t eat for a specified period of time. Eat for just eight hours per day on IF, every other day on ADF and once a day on OMAD.

Calorie Restriction

If longterm hunger isn’t your thing, then you can always fall back on traditional calorie restriction. You’ll just have to weigh your food and track calories. Research also suggests that your body lowers its metabolism in response to conventional calorie restriction to make it challenging to keep weight off. Just ask contestants on The Biggest Loser. Also, calorie restriction diets have also been proven to have some anti-aging results, which can be nice for those who are worried about looking older than they really are.

Xyngular

This program is a science-backed supplement program that can rev your engine. The supplements cleanse your body, reset your metabolism and allow you to burn fat quickly. According to reviews, you can choose from three different products that can all help you shed pounds and keep them off easily. There are separate systems to jumpstart your weight loss, burn fat and control hunger.

Keto

Eat mostly fat while avoiding carbs and reducing your protein intake to produce ketones. Your body then shifts its energy source to ketones which burns fat. Interestingly enough, Xyngular comes with a keto cookbook to accelerate weight loss. You can get two programs in one. However, there are many people who have done just keto and have had amazing results.

The Potato Diet

A famous example of this somewhat niche diet is Penn of Penn & Teller lost 100 pounds eating potatoes. He ate nothing but potatoes for two weeks to reset his taste buds. This allowed him to experience food naturally. Sugar was too sweet and burgers too fatty when he returned to normal eating. Unsalted corn now serves as Penn’s dessert because he thinks the vegetable is so sweet with reprogrammed tastes. There have been others who have tried this with similar results, so maybe it’d work for you!

Stick to any of these programs, and you’ll lose weight. It can be hard at first, but it’ll help you feel better about yourself, more confident, and you’ll actually be able to keep the weight off unlike some other programs.

Here are a couple articles about similar topics we think you might be interested in!

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Botox

How to Start Running, and Love It!

What Are Free Radicals and Why Are They Bad News?

7 Case Studies of Businesses Who Turned It All Around

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Capitalism can be a hard game to play. One day a business can be thriving and the next it can make a costly blunder that puts it at the edge of insolvency. It can be unpredictable who goes from successful to barely hanging on. The plus side is that it is just as unpredictable who can go from the brink of collapse to a position of strength again. Listed below are seven businesses who approached the abyss of failure and still made it to victory.

Marvel

These days, it would be hard to find someone who isn’t at least aware of the cinematic juggernaut that is Marvel Studios. Yet, before movies like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War was raking in planets worth of money, Marvel was not the most solid investment. In 1996, Marvel was still strictly publishing comics. In the early 90’s, the comics industry was experiencing a massive collectors’ bubble that popped in the mid-90’s. Marvel declared bankruptcy and was ready to completely fold. The company began to sell the movie rights of their prominent characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men which helped them pull the company out of the red. Since then, the movie model has been Marvel’s primary source of income and has made them among Disney’s more lucrative acquisitions.

Apple

Despite a reputation as a tech powerhouse of the 1980s and 2000s, Apple nearly fell into nonexistence in the 1990s following Microsoft’s meteoric rise. In 1997, Apple edged toward bankruptcy after losing $1 billion in a single year. Ironically, its salvation came in part from Microsoft who sent a $150 million investment presumably to keep Apple in business and prevent the headaches that come with becoming a de facto monopoly. Founder Steve Jobs then returned to the fold to build the iMac and the iPhone, leaving the rest to history.

GM

Perhaps the most famous of the victims of the 2008 economic recession, General Motors stood on the edge of absolute collapse. The problems became so egregious that President Barack Obama had to commit to a controversial bailout package to save the auto industry. Since then, GM has paid back the bailout in full and enjoy better than expected success in recent years.

SpaceX/Tesla

Thanks to Elon Musk, this entry is a two for one. Just like General Motors, Musk’s dual projects, SpaceX and Tesla, suffered hard from the 2008 recession. At one point, it was believed that Musk would have to cut one to save the other. Rather, Musk pulled a risky venture by refusing to sell off either one and banked on SpaceX’s deal with NASA to keep the two companies afloat. The gambit paid off and both projects are now synonymous with innovative tech companies.

IBM

Like Apple, IBM suffered heavy losses in the 1990s and a massive fracturing of the company seemed inevitable. Under this heavy cloud, Lou Gerstner came in as CEO to rescue the famous computer company. Gerstner underwent the unenviable task of massive layouts and a total restructuring of the company’s assets. After a complete transformation in culture and marketing, IBM came out on the other end as soluble again.

Chrysler

The American auto maker has actually tipped close to the end more than once through its existence. Chrysler suffered from the instability of the oil market in the late 1970s. At that time, the government bailed them out with $1.5 billion and saved the company. Chrysler then moved back into the black with inexpensive cars in the 1980s. The company then risked insolvency again during 2008 before Fiat took over the company’s reins, bringing the company back to viability again.

Best Buy

In the wake of retail stores such as Circuit City falling to the specter of 2008, Best Buy found itself on the line. In 2010, revenue was dropping, excerbated two years later by a sex scandal cover up involving the CEO. The company then completely reorganized the business, integrating online services into the customer service apparatus as well as introducing new exclusive products like Apple and Samsung. After innovative restructurings and shuttering struggling locations, Best Buy pulled back from failure and maintains a strong presence in electronic retail today.

Conclusion

Some of America’s greatest business monoliths can be vulnerable to insolvency. Whether through macro-level financial circumstances such as the 2008 collapse or industry-specific volatility, no private institution in America is immune to chaos. However, these same business are capable of bringing themselves back to stability and greatness. Circumstances may influence decisions but perseverance is what makes the decision.

References:

Thewrap.com

Digitaltrends.com

Businessnewsdaily.com

Yourstory.com

Gobankingrates.com

AntonyBatty.com

Which Countries are the Most Business-Friendly? You Might Be Surprised

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A great many people, at one time or another, have participated in, or at least have heard discussions about countries around the world, and how they fare economically in a business context. How their business climate and culture compares to others in the global market. Loyalists may always stand by their convictions that the U.S. consistently ranks at the top of business-friendly countries, what with our open trade policies, business relationships with other world economic powerhouses, and so on. But based on economic freedom data provided by Heritage Media, the U.S. doesn’t even rank in the Top 10 globally in 2018 (there are, after all, a lot of roadblocks and considerations  in starting a business in the U.S.). Some of the countries that do rank highly, who are exceptional in the listing’s metrics, may just come as a surprise to some people.

Economic Freedom equates to a Business-Friendly Culture

The more economically free a country’s overall climate is, the more prosperity residents and businesses within that climate and culture of that given nation can realize. The more freedom and flexibility businesses have in maintaining, developing, and consequently expanding their operations, the more “business-friendly” that nation emerges as a whole.

Heritage Media’s 2018 Index of Economic Freedom provides comprehensive data covering 12 freedoms citizens have in 186 countries. Readers can evaluate the very latest macroeconomic data and economic freedom scores of these nations individually, as well as detailed cross-country comparisons of two selected nations.

Looking Well Beyond Our Borders to See The World Leaders

Heritage based their rankings on a broad number of criteria, with countries scoring 0-100 overall. These countries were ranked by their total scores, placed into Free (100-80), Mostly Free (79-70), Moderately Free (69-60), Mostly Unfree (59-50), Repressed (49.9-40), and Not Rated classifications.

The top 6 nations, the only ones falling into the “Free” classification, are:

  1. Hong Kong (90.2)
  2. Singapore (88.8)
  3. New Zealand (84.2)
  4. Switzerland (81.7)
  5. Australia (80.9)
  6. Ireland (80.4)

Quite obviously, the metrics used to formulate these rankings are not skewed toward raw monetary earnings, size, or populations of world countries, among the seemingly countless variables and data that can be incorporated into a list. In this list of 2018 country rankings, the U.S. is ranked #18 (75.7).

When looking at the six nations in the Free category, the tiny country of Singapore really seems to stand out as perhaps the biggest surprise of them all. Here again, it’s clearly obvious this ranking list isn’t biased towards the biggest “players” in the world market. But in terms of Economic Freedom (again, equalling a business-friendly environment), the numbers simply don’t lie.

Singapore

There are many reasons why this tiny city, state, and island country in Southeast Asia is so prosperous on the world stage. At 277 square miles in size (roughly four times the size of Washington D.C.) and with a population of 5.6 million people (New York City alone has a population of over 8.7 million), it’s not the size that matters, but what the country does with what systems they have working for them that does.

With countries that struggle to lower unemployment rates to below 5% (the U.S. being one of them), their unemployment rate is at an astounding 1.8%. And while many of the (seemingly) most prosperous nations in the world take to many, many measures to curb their often spiraling, increasing inflation rates, their inflation (CPI) is at -0.5%.

Many people can relate to these numbers a little better when compared to U.S. figures. So regarding GDP (PPP) 5-year compound annual growth, they are at 3.3%, the U.S. at 2.1%. Singapore’s per capita – GDP (PPP) is $87,855. The U.S. is $57,436.

Why This Nation is Thriving Now

Their prudent monetary and fiscal policies, corruption-free and very open business environment, and a legal framework that is highly transparent lead to the country’s highly developed free-market economy. The government is proactive in implementing active industrial policies, which promote economic diversification and development. Business concerns are addressed through targeted fiscal incentives and significant public investments. Although keep in mind, if you register your business in Singapore, there is a law that demands you employ a Singapore company secretary.

Do Tax Rates and Government Spending Play Key Roles?

The nation’s top corporate tax rate is 17% (U.S.: 35%). Their overall tax burden equals 13.6% of total domestic income (U.S.: 26.4%). Their government spending has resulted in budgetary surpluses of 4.1% of GDP, whereas the U.S. has seen budget deficits averaging 4.0% of GDP.

Clearly, this little Asian powerhouse, with strong numbers in so many leading categories, indicate they are doing great things there to foster growth, development, and prosperity for their businesses, and in turn, their residents. Perhaps countries that are struggling with the economic and government problems they currently have should look to the course of action such prosperous nations take. When it comes to some things in life, bigger isn’t always better.

 

How Microbrews are Changing the Face of American Beer Forever

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Featured image credit: Vega Direct

Years before there even was an America, there was an American brewery. The year was 1587, and corn was being brewed into ale. Twenty years later, beer would arrive from England to the colonies. The first documented female “Brewster”, Mary Lisle, took over her dad’s Edinburgh Brewhouse in 1734. She would run the establishment until 1751.

Over the many, many years of this nation’s history beer has changed and evolved along with the tastes of those who drink it. From the need for near beer during the Prohibition years to the release of the first beer in cans, that evolution has meant that new companies, both big and small, have sprung up across America. Some have flourished; others floundered and died.

In 1977 the first craft beer was created at the New Albion Brewery. Several years later, Colorado would introduce us all to the Great American Beer Fest, which is still in existence as the oldest and largest beer tasting and competitive festival. Homebrewing became legal in 1978, and in 1982 breweries were finally allowed to sell their own beers on their premises and sell food giving rise to the microbrewery pubs.

How Microbrews are Changing the Entire Face of American Beer

American brew has the stereotype of being bitter or stale. Many of them are weak or watered down, and some people have complained that the major US beer brands have allowed their quest for greater numbers to turn their beers into a churning river of similar tastes. Whether any of this is right or wrong, it is impacting those big brands right in the wallet. According to CNN Money, the 4 US brands (Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Lite and Budweiser) are faltering with shipments decreasing by nearly 4%. This, coupled with the fact that microbreweries and craft pubs are opening in huge numbers, is definitely affecting the sales of the 4 largest US brands. Even the number of craft beers itself is climbing at a fairly steady pace. There were nearly 4,000 microbreweries in the United States in 2017, an increase of 19% from the previous year. For that same time period, craft beers rose to 6266 up 15.5%, and brewpubs are up to 2252 up 10%. At the same time, the larger brewers are closing breweries and distribution centers.

The Continued Evolution of American Beers

From that first corn-based ale, American beers have evolved over and over to reflect the demands of the consumers as well as other factors like politics and the climate. During the earliest years of Prohibition, brewers knew they needed to adapt or face bankruptcy, so “near beer” came to the rescue. In 1921 alone, more than 300 million gallons of this not-quite-alcoholic beer was brewed.

The first of the canned beers came along in 1935. Innovations to beer can sizes and openings were noted in ’54 and ’63. It wasn’t until 1969 that the cans would start outselling bottled beer. Brewers would continue making innovations to their cans, including special lining to prevent changes to the taste of the beer and other designs that made the beer as cold as possible. Good ideas in their times –but not good enough to prevent the onslaught of microbrews and the huge selection of craft beers that were starting to flood the market.

Every brewer takes a traditional recipe and then makes it his own in some way. He may adjust one or more of the ingredients. He may change the amount of carbonation or part of the brewing process. At some point, the brewer may have fudged with a recipe to the point that he has created an entirely new beer. It would be nearly impossible to list every type of craft beer because they are constantly evolving. The basic and traditional standards including ales, wheat beers, stouts, porters are getting new and interesting entries alongside the more traditional flavors. Specialty beers which can evolve based on the area of the country and the season are also popular. Hybrid beers are also incredibly popular, and sell very well in many regions.

When Brewers Meet up with Wine Makers

By estimate, the average American lives within ten miles of a brewery. Those same people may live that near to a vineyard as well. Non-traditional winemaking states are gaining in popularity and whether by design or by demand, some of those vineyards are also introducing microbrews or vice versa. Tours and tastings can help bring in more people while expanding the palates of everyone involved. Some of the craft brews are starting to adopt some of the traditional flavors and appearance of wine specifically to lure in some of the die-hard wine drinkers. There is even a hard cider/rose wine hybrid on the market now.

Festivals and Other Events

American festivals celebrating music, seasons, and local peculiarities happen in every region and in virtually every season. Most of those festivals have at least one beer tent with more and more of them welcoming microbreweries as a way of encouraging local business people. Some of these events are centered on the beer itself and can be a single day to many days in length. There might be a brewing competition, and all of the local microbreweries will vie for the title. They get great publicity, and everyone has a good time and some good beer.

Beer has long played a role in other events, including obstacle course races. Each of these races partner with a brewery, usually a local craft beer company if possible which is an incredible boost to that small brewer. Some of these races bring in thousands per race day, many from across the country so the publicity alone can be an astounding boost.

Some of these microbreweries end up with such a following that they ship their craft beers to other states. Some get a fan following based on their name, their logo, or their advertising materials even before that first beer is tasted. Larger bars might start selling the craft beers right alongside the big named guys, and as long as the micros are selling, they get to stay. You might even find your favorite microbrew’s wares in the local market or even in a grocery store.

Rather than diluting the market in any way, these new crafters keep the older ones on their toes. Everyone has to keep their product lines as fresh and interesting as possible, or they will fail just like the big guys are doing. The major brewers, some of them in business for hundreds of years, competed with one another and focused on things like better bottle styles or flashier TV ads to the point of neglecting the most important thing: the beer. Eventually, the little guys saw the opportunity and took it. Thousands of craft beers and microbreweries means that your perfect beer is out there. You get to taste and savor the different styles and techniques, and you get to find the exact beer you have wanted.

As in nearly every business, consumers drive the demand. As long as the IPAs, the dark ales, the pale India ales, and the specialty beers sell, the microbreweries will brew them, even the Pumpkin beer that crops up every fall and makes people fight like Mad Hatters over whether it is good, bad, or an abomination. There must be people who drink it because come October, it will be there.

Sources:

https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/101/history_american_beer/  

https://www.brewersassociation.org/statistics/number-of-breweries/  

https://money.cnn.com/2018/06/29/news/companies/bud-light-miller-lite-budweiser-coors-light/index.html  

https://www.craftbeer.com/beer/beer-styles-guide

It’s 2018, Why Are Millenials So Into Horoscopes?

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New age spiritualism has been on the climb, we know this – but a specific sector of that has blown up in popularity. According to a recent study by Refinery29, millennials have shown significantly more interest in astrology than generations before them. Between 2011 and 2016, the field of psychological services – which encompasses everything from astrology to tarot readings to palmistry – increased by two percentage points. That’s a significant climb, and it seems mostly spurred on by young adults in their 20s and 30s. But understanding why astrology has become so popular means recognizing the significant and sometimes radical shifts in attitudes and circumstances among the millennial generation.

Non-Religious Doesn’t Mean Non-Spiritual

Millennials seem to represent a shift away from orthodox religious practice in the general population. A seven-year period saw a decline of an astonishing 11% in a seven-year period, while those who didn’t affiliate with a religion saw a drop of 11% in a belief in God. While this could signify a move towards atheist or at least agnostic sentiments, the big picture tells a deeper story. One out of four Americans identifies as “spiritual but not religious.” But even as millennials decouple their ethical thinking from religious dogma, they’re still hopeful for a quasi-supernatural explanation for the sometimes chaotic world around them.

That distinction between ethics and impartial meaning is critical. Practically all the religions of the world are defined by the moral precepts at the heart of their philosophy. Whether it’s the karmic circle of life or seven testaments etched into stone tablets, these are philosophies that presume a moral framework that underpins our reality and is most often created by some form of higher power. While forms of spirituality like star charts and tarot readings implicitly suggest a higher power, they remain primarily distinct from one’s moral and ethical standards. This allows a generation disillusioned with organized religions, which often adopt ethical stances that run contrary to progressive-leaning millennials, to disregard the messy complications of religious law while still holding on hope for some variety of higher power. This is reflected clearly in the practices themselves. While astrology suggests that our personalities and characteristics are tied to the alignment of the stars, these characteristics are mainly neutral of hard ethical context. Palmistry and tarot reading, meanwhile, presume to predict future events without placing these tides of change at the whims of a discreet and known deity and without tying the consequences to negative or affirmative action on behalf of the parties involved. As the millennial population grows more spiritual and less religious, these practices offer the best of both worlds.

Instability Spurs a Desire For Universal Truth

The world that millennials exist in is quite different from that of the generation before. Between increasing political polarization, the looming threat of climate change, and dramatic technological revolutions, it can be hard to understand the shape of the world. When things are always changing, it’s that much more difficult to believe in a religion rooted in fundamental and unchanging principles. This uncertainty is equally reflected in the personal lives of millennials. A belief in stagnant wages and increasing reliance on the gig economy to survive an make members of this generation feel as if they’re always at the mercy of forces other than themselves.

In a climate like that, it makes sense that they seek out some form of soothsaying that helps them read the currents of those larger forces. Astrology provides a sense of meaning in a disordered world. The detailed parameters of natal charts offer millennials with prisms through which they can see themselves, and the changing signs of the planets and stars on a daily basis allow them to attribute some sense of cosmic pattern to both luck and misfortune. This is reflected in other forms of spirituality too. Aside from just horoscopes and natal charts, people are also turning to look at tarot cards as well. While astrology is primarily rooted in the present and the internalized self, the latter seeks to provide answers regarding one’s future. To a generation with a potentially lost understanding of where they’re going and what they can expect when they get there, tarot readings and palmistry can provide a distinct path to follow.

Prejudices Against Astrology Are Fading

This isn’t the first time that astrology has become a significant part of the popular consciousness. The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of the New Age movement, and with it came a turn towards an alternate route to traditional religions. This too was a time of significant political, social, and economic change, and the shifting values of the younger generation made them more amenable to notions of unorthodox spirituality. In the time between, astrology never went away, even though it partially faded into the background. It became something advertised on late night infomercials and a diversionary section in the back of the local newspaper, a novelty mostly disregarded.

But as sensibilities have started to change, so have attitudes towards the art of astrology. Part of this is due to the rise of the internet. Aggressive branding and outreach by online apps like Co-Star Astrology have re-centered astrology in the public sphere, and online personality quizzes, a sort of modern equivalent to star signs in the first place, have increased the popularity of natal charts and other astrological content immensely. Where astrological predictions were once pushed to the back of popular girls magazines, they now sit as some of the most prominent articles between the covers.

It’s a Universal Language

As the relationships of millennials change, so do the ways in which they communicate. Social media has expanded friendships out to vast networks of casual connections and acquaintances, and the online dating grind lends a new level of anonymity to the act of finding romance. Regardless of culture, political, or geographic differences, the fundamentals between astrology are the same. It can serve as both an icebreaker and a way to organize friends and acquaintances. And while astrology may be a truly miraculous science to some, part of the appeal of getting your tarot cards to read and evaluating your natal chart has to do with the pure, self-oriented fun of it.

References & Resources:

 

5 Most Dangerous Forms of Energy

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While technology and humanity move towards a more sustainable source of energy, some currently used forms of energy production can prove hazardous to human health, at the moment. In this article, we will discuss five types of current energy production and their possible effects on humans.

Coal

Coal is a dangerous source of energy. It is formed when dirt and sediment compressed plants that existed millions of years ago and is a black to brownish-black rock. There are four types of coal: anthracite (86% – 97% carbon), bituminous (45% – 86% carbon), subbituminous (35% – 45% carbon) and lignite (25% – 35% carbon). Emissions from burning coal result in the release of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulates, carbon dioxide, mercury, and other heavy metals. These emissions result in acid rain, smog, respiratory illnesses, lung illnesses, and greenhouse gas production.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is composed of hydrocarbon gas liquids and non-hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbon gases are alkanes (i.e., ethane, propane, butane, and natural gasoline) and alkenes (i.e., ethylene, propylene, butylene, and isobutylene). It is formed from plants and animals that have been covered with dirt and rock and compressed over time. Oil and coal are also formed by this process. Natural gas at low levels is not harmful to your health, but a severe leak can cause dizziness, fatigue, nauseousness, headache, and irregular breathing. Because it is a flammable gas, even a small spark can cause an explosion where there is a leak.

Oil

Oil is the third product of sedimentary processes. Crude oil is a fossil fuel, a mix of hydrocarbons. It exists in liquid form deep underground in reservoirs, and closer to the surface in tar sands. An oil spill can be hazardous to human health. People who clean up the spill are susceptible to skin and eye irritation, as well as neurological and breathing problems. Breathing in the vapor from oil can cause headaches, dizziness, nauseousness, and respiratory irritation. High levels of fumes can cause coma and death.

Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric power, generated by dams, is also dangerous to the communities around the dam. The dams cause high concentrations of methylmercury, which is toxic to humans. It can cause problems in developing fetuses, and in adults can cause an increased risk of heart disease, autoimmune effects, and paresthesia, loss of coordination, difficulty in speech and narrowing of the visual field, hearing impairment, blindness, and death.

Nuclear

Nuclear energy is produced when water is warmed by nuclear fission. The steam from this process turns turbines, which create electricity. Although considered a clean source of energy, when a nuclear power plant fails, it can cause severe problems for both humans and the environment. The radioactive waste produced in this way can be very hazardous to humans. It can cause cancer, DNA damage, bone marrow depression, radiation sickness, radiation dermatitis, and gastrointestinal complications. The radiation from meltdowns can make the environment unlivable for thousands of years.

In conclusion, although there are many forms of energy production, most have both pros and cons to them. We must carefully explore both pros and cons when we decide what type of energy we will be using for our fuels.

References:

http://www.energyjustice.net/coal

https://www.creativesafetysupply.com/articles/arc-flash/

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/11/human-health-risks-from-hydroelectric-projects/

https://study.com/academy/lesson/risks-of-nuclear-power-plants-and-radioactive-waste-safety-and-health-concerns.html