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MOTOACTV successor: TomTom announces Spark GPS sports watch lineup, two with music support

tomtom-spark.jpg (Image: TomTom) While some runners prefer the sounds of nature while running, rock and roll motivates me to go faster while keeping my mind off the miles going by under my feet.

TomTom announced its new Spark GPS series. These four new devices all provide GPS tracking, 24 hour activity tracking, automatic sleep tracking, Bluetooth for connecting to your smartphone, and 5 ATM water resistance. Two models provide an integrated heart rate monitor and two models provide 3GB of storage for offline music playback.

Back in 2012, I was banging out the miles with the MOTACTV GPS running watch with integrated music player. I still have it, but the battery only lasts a couple hours and it’s not easy to get your GPS data from the old MOTOACTV system into RunKeeper or other modern tracking service.

Few others have tried to provide this same GPS capability with offline music support since the MOTOACTV set the bar. Adidas has one, but it has horrid review ratings and is not a device I would consider. I thought my Sony SmartWatch 3 might replace the MOTOACTV, but I found the GPS a bit limited and there is still no compelling running application for Android Wear.

Lately, I’ve been running with my Apple Watch on one wrist and the Polar V800 on the other. The Apple Watch has no integrated GPS so I’m just using it to provide music while the V800 provides extremely accurate GPS tracking. I’ve also been known to run with my smartphone, but as they continue to grow in size this becomes more of a hassle and running with a single wrist-mounted device is the most convenient. As you can see, I have yet to find a true MOTOACTV replacement, but that may soon change.

Corinne Vigreux, Managing Director, TomTom, stated:

We know that music plays an important role when it comes to motivating and improving sports performance, but relying on a smartphone is all too often an uncomfortable experience. The unique combination of an integrated music player, built-in heart rate monitor, 24/7 activity tracking, multi-sport functionality and GPS in TomTom Spark makes it easier than ever for people to get more from their workout, and improve their overall fitness level.

I’m still hoping to see Garmin, Suunto, or Polar release a GPS sport watch with integrated music, but at least we finally have TomTom stepping up first to offer this support.

The four new models from TomTom include the following:

TomTom Spark: Base model GPS watch that provides GPS, daily activity, and sleep tracking.TomTom Spark Cardio: Adds an integrated heart rate monitor to the base model.TomTom Spark Music: In addition to the features of the base model, 3GB of storage is available for offline music. TomTom Spark Music + Cardio: Top-of-the line model that includes 3GB of storage for music and a heart rate monitor.

The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music, the one that might finally replace my MOTOACTV, is priced at a reasonable $249 and will be available for pre-order on 1 October. Pricing for the other models has not yet been announced, but they should be available to order in mid-October. In the past, there was a difference of $100 between the models with and without a heart rate monitor.

TomTom will also offer up two retail packages of the Spark Music models that includes a set of headphones. An update scheduled prior to the end of 2015 will add smartphone notifications to all four and continuous heart rating monitoring to the two watches with an integrated monitor.

TomTom previously used a heart rate monitor with proven Mio technology so it remains to be seen how accurate this new monitor will be. I personally don’t mind running with a chest strap if it provides more accurate data so if that saves some money I may choose that option.

I enjoyed using the previous TomTom Multi-Sport Runner, but desktop software stopped working for me so I gave up on it. Fortunately, TomTom makes it easy to export data to various services, including RunKeeper, and I am hoping that its new desktop software is improved.

View the original article here


17-Year Brood II Cicadas Emergence Update: They’re Nearly Heeeere!


17-Year Brood II Cicadas Emergence Update: They're Nearly Heeeere!

The red-eyed chittering horde that is 2013’s Brood II cicada swarm has been busy since we lastchecked in on them at the start of May.

Back then, the first bugs had mostly been spotted along the I-95 corridor, as if they were headed into the office in the world’s grossest commute. Look at the insectoid explosion that’s occurred in just the past few days, as visualized by the Magicicada Mapping Project:

Each virtual critter on this map marks a place where somebody’s spotted a nymph or adult cicada or the skin that the bugs throw off like divas jettisoning threadbare robes. There are cicadas waving stumpy antennae as far south as Tampa, cicadas thrumming tymbals way out west in Omaha and Austin, and cicadas absolutely crawling over the face of the East Coast. Check out this blown-up view of New York and its surroundings:

And here’s the even buggier lands around Washington, D.C.:

The six-legged horde will only spread more and grow larger as ground temperatures coax it from stasis. The soil in eastern America is reaching prime warmth for cicada-birthing, as shown in this temperature map from New York Public Radio:

If you own a dog in infested burbs, chances are it’s eaten at least three cicadas right before it last licked you. (Just my scientific guess.) In New Jersey, where the creatures are just now beginning to emerge, the ground is squirmy with boisterous young cicadas crawling from their subterranean dens:

Imagine trying to sleep through this wall of noise in Columbia, Maryland. Some TV journos have likened the sound to a “zombie apocalypse,” showing once again the media’s woeful ignorance of the sound flesheaters make (it’s RAAAWWGGH, for the record):

What should you do when these things come out in your neighborhood? Probably not whisk bunches of them into muddy water to make a delicious “soup,” as I did with childhood play-pals. (Kids can be so evil.) It’s best to let them go about their business, which boils down to having sex and dying soon after. You might even grab one of the harmless bugs to verify a Fun Cicada Fact: Between their bulging crimson eyes – which give them a goofy, Buscemi-esque expression – there are actually three more eyes, called ocelli, arranged in a trigon:

And if you’re the kind of person who refuses to go outside during cicada season for fear that one might fly into your hair, please satisfy any curiosity you have about these insects with this lovely montage from Cicada Mania. (It depicts a 2008 swarm in Ohio.) Warning: video contains grody footage of bugs missing body parts you’d assume are critical to life:

Top photo courtesy of Reuters/Nancy Hinkle/University of Georgia

John Metcalfe is a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities

35 Ways To Build Your Personal Learning Network Online


Personal learning networks are a great way for educators to get connected with learning opportunities, access professional development resources, and to build camaraderie with other education professionals.

Although PLNs have been around for years, in recent years social media has made it possible for these networks to grow exponentially.

Now, it’s possible to expand and connect your network around the world anytime, anywhere. But how exactly do you go about doing that?

Check out our guide to growing your personal learning network with social media, full of more than 30 different tips, ideas, useful resources, and social media tools that can make it all possible.

Tips & Ideas

Get started developing your social media PLN with these tips and ideas for great ways to make use of social tools.

  1. Actively make ties: It’s not enough to just follow and read, you need to connect. Leave comments, reply to questions, and start your own conversations.
  2. Join Twitter chats: Educators can chat, collaborate, and connect through Twitter chats like #edchat and #edmeet.
  3. Share your lesson plans, presentations, and documents: Use services like Tumblr, Edublogs, or Facebook to share lesson plans with your learning network.
  4. Crowdsource ideas: Turn to your PLN to crowdsource ideas or perform social searches.
  5. Use Twitter resources to discover more people to follow: Check out following/follower lists, RTs, #followfriday suggestions, and Twitter lists of the people you admire to find even more great resources to add to your PLN.
  6. Discover new people to add to your network: Lots of educators use social media as a passive way to check out people they’d like to add to their personal learning networks. Analyze the quality of their posts, point of view, and signal to noise to decide if they’d make a good addition to your network.
  7. Start conversations: Use your social media accounts to ask questions and spark conversations that encourage new thinking.
  8. Find new blogs and resources to follow using social bookmarking: Social bookmarking services like Diigo and Delicious can help you not only find great blogs and resources, but also get your connected with other educators to add to your network.


Check out these guides to find out how other educators have used social media and other tools to grow their personal learning networks.

  1. How Technology Helps You Build a Personal Learning Network: Explore technology’s new role in building personal learning networks through this guide.
  2. 50 Great Ways to Grow Your Personal Learning Network: Our very own guide to growing your personal learning network has lots of great ideas for tapping into social media.
  3. The Innovative Educator: 5 Ways to Build Your 1.0 and 2.0 Personal Learning Network: Check out this post from the Innovative Educator to see how you can use blogs and other social media to build a personal learning network.
  4. How to Use Twitter to Grow Your PLN: Here, Edutopia shares an insightful post on why educators should use Twitter to grow their PLNs, plus a great list of chats to join.
  5. 21st-Century PLNs for School Leaders: Take your PLN into the next century with this guide for using social media tools like Twitter and blogs to grow your PLN.
  6. How to cultivate a personal learning network: Chuck Frey’s post explains how you can cultivate a strong personal learning network, through social media and beyond.
  7. Tools for Building Your Personal Learning Network: Check out this LiveBinder to find several great tools for building a personal learning network.
  8. Using a Twitter Chat Channel to Support a Personal Learning Network: Check out this guide to see how one Texas school district is using a Twitter chat channel to support a PLN.
  9. Using Social Media to Develop Your Own Personal Learning Network: This presentation from Sue Beckingham and David Walker is a great resource for learning about the many ways you can use social media to grow a PLN.
  10. Nuts and Bolts: Building a Personal Learning Network: Jane Bozarth’s article on building a personal learning network hits on the need for interactivity in PLNs.

Tools & Resources

Want to really make the most of your PLN? Use these popular social media tools for learning to grow and take advantage of your network with the latest technology.

  1. Classroom 2.0: In this networking group, you can get connected with other educators who are interested in Web 2.0, social media, and more in the classroom.
  2. Ning: On Ning, you can create your own social website to bring your PLN together all in one place.
  3. Diigo: Collect, highlight, remember, and share all of the great resources you find online with your PLN on Diigo, and annotation and online bookmarking tool.
  4. Google Reader: With Google Reader or any other great RSS tool, you can subscribe to blogs and stay on top of it all.
  5. Slideshare: On SlideShare, you can upload presentations to share with your personal learning network.
  6. Twitter: Perfect for finding people to add to your PLN, participating in chats, and sharing what you’ve found, Twitter is one of your most powerful tools for growing and maintaining a personal network.
  7. Facebook: Another powerhouse for PLNs, Facebook is a great place to connect, share, and grow your network.
  8. Scribd: Read, publish, and share documents on Scribd with your PLN, whether you’re sharing classic novels or lectures you’ve delivered. Plus, you can find documents and get connected with their owners.
  9. Yahoo! Answers: Find and share information, connect with others, and build upon your personal learning network on this popular answers site.
  10. LinkedIn: The gold standard in professional networking, LinkedIn is a great place for education professionals to get connected.
  11. Quora: Similar to Yahoo! Answers, Quora offers a professional place to share your knowledge and grow your network.
  12. Google+: Often overlooked in favor of Facebook and Twitter, Google+ is a growing network that offers lots of great possibilities for developing PLNs.
  13. Pinterest: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ get a lot of love from personal learning networks, but Pinterest offers a great way to find other educators, and great resources.
  14. Delicious: One of the most popular social bookmarking sites on the web, Delicious makes it easy to share what you’ve found and find new followers for your PLN.
  15. Using, you can curate and share your favorite PLN tweets on a daily basis.
  16. Like, is a great tool for curating an engaging PLN magazine based on resources from your network.
  17. AddThis: Become a sharing machine with the AddThis toolbar, a great way to immediately share web resources on the web’s most popular social media tools.

This is a cross-post from  Online College.

35 Ways To Build Your Personal Learning Network Online

Education Is Key – Education Is A Key To Success

10 Emerging Education Technologies You Should Know About

With educational technology, social networking and agile apps are all the rage. Whether it’s a group of students collaborating on a project or a research team seeking out resources around the globe, today’s EdTech essentials are all about keeping in touch. The emerging products, companies and high-tech tools on our list are all designed to make life easier for online teachers, students and researchers. Take a look.

  • Knowledge Transmission: This Cambridge-based team aims to deliver the best social learning experience in the world. To do that, its developers are hard at work on mobile products, like Kigo Apps, designed to prepare students for TOEIC practice tests. The company creates a number of digital products for online learning and boasts a powerful back-list conversion, which makes it simple for you to bring many of your low-tech tools into the digital age.
  • Scholrly: Where do you go when you’re looking for solid research? Scholrly founders hope you choose their brand-new search site. Co-founder Corbin Pon says, “When we talk about neighborhoods, we know that there are communities of related research that are not always easy to see and explore.” The creators of the engine, currently in beta, hopes to revolutionize the way scholars and garage inventors alike find data.
  • Instructure: Online learning veterans know that organizing a web-based classroom requires a complex system. That’s why Instructure created Canvas, a features-rich platform featuring a speed grader, an online testing manager and other simple-yet-powerful pedagogy tools. Based in Salt Lake City, this Learning Management System (LMS) newcomer is led by CEO Josh Coates and co-founders Brian Whitmer and Devlin Daley.
  • Skitch by Evernote: You already love the note-taking powerhouse. Now meet Skitch, the sketching tool that makes it simple to make your point using built-in arrows, shapes and quick sketches. The tool moves flawlessly from phone to desktop to tablet. Evernote’s team — including CEO Phil Libin and founder Stepan Pachikov — are banking that their products will help the world communicate easier.
  • Desire2Learn: Simple meets sophisticated; that’s the Desire2Learn philosophy. Their Learning Suite 10 offers an intuitive user interface, beautiful course homepages and an easy way to make podcasts and downloadable presentations. Desire2Learn was founded in 1999 and — through partnerships with companies like IBM and Adobe — aspires to stand at the forefront of advance educational technology for years to come.
  • Udacity: How many robotics engineers does it take to reinvent education? At Udacity, the answer is three: David Stavens, Mike Sokolsky and Sebastian Thrun, who use their unique backgrounds to think big with distance learning. (How big? Think 200,000 students per class.) The system includes Google’s moderator service, which allows students to vote on the best questions for instructors to answer.
  • The SNAC Project: Believe it or not, there were social networking sites before Facebook. Their remnants — newspapers, corporate publications and personal histories — are scattered across manuscript archives and libraries around the world. The Social Networks and Archival Context Project hopes to change that, creating methods and tools for matching and combining records, creating timeline-map histories, accommodating languages other than English and more. Before long, you could find the menu from a picnic in 1950s Idaho without leaving your deck chair.
  • Mendeley: Manage your research, collaborate with other academics and bring your bibliography online with the tool designed to make life easier for grad students and professors alike. The site, co-founded by Dr. Victor Henning, Jan Reichelt and Paul Föckler, already boasts over 1.7 million users and above 242 million documents. And, unlike EndNote and RefWorks, Mendeley’s basic software package is free.
  • Moodle: This user-friendly course management system from Australia is designed for both purely online schooling and blended courses. Moodle is open source, and volunteers take charge of much of the development process. The end product is easy to customize for large and small courses alike. Martin Dougiamas, the creator of Moodle, thinks of his LMS as an infinitely-customizable Lego-world for educators.
  • SlideShark: Love your iPad, but hate having to switch to a laptop in order to view presentations? SlideShark offers an elegant solution. The free app retains the fonts, colors and graphics of your PowerPoint presentations, allowing you to show on the go and work anywhere. The app is made by Brainshark, a company founded in 1999 by Joe Gustafson and designed to change the way students and businesses work on the road. SlideShark looks to be the perfect solution for online college presentations on mobile devices.

The tools above have one important thing in common: they’re all designed to evolve and adapt with emerging technology and shifting student and teacher need. You’ll find new innovations in the EdTech space every day, but it’s safe to say that the minds behind our list are a good place to watch for the next generation of smarter schools.

This is a post from Online Schools.

Education Is Key – Education Is A Key To Success

My preventive mastectomy: Staying alive for my kids

By Allison Gilbert 

Allison Gilbert and her mother, Lynn, in 1995 on the day Gilbert got engaged. Her mother died two months later from ovarian cancer.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Author Allison Gilbert shares why she chose to undergo a double mastectomy after testing positive for the breast cancer gene.

I’m not a helicopter parent and my children would tell you I don’t bake cupcakes for their birthday parties. But I’d readily cut off my breasts for them — and recently, I did.

Removing breast tissue uncompromised by cancer is relatively easy. It took the breast surgeon about two hours to slice through my chest and complete the double mastectomy seven weeks ago.

The time-consuming part was left to the plastic surgeon who created new breasts out of my own belly fat so I could avoid getting implants. Total operating time: 11.5 hours. And I don’t regret a second.

The decision to have surgery without having cancer wasn’t easy, but it seemed logical to me. My mother, aunt and grandmother have all died from breast or ovarian cancer, and I tested positive for the breast cancer gene.

Being BRCA positive means a woman’s chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer is substantially elevated.

“Patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have 50%-85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to approximately 60% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer,” according to Karen Brown, director of the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Gilbert at age 5 or 6 with her mother on a ferryboat.

By comparison, the lifetime risk of breast cancer for the general population is 13% and 1.7% for ovarian cancer.

CNN iReport: Tested for the breast cancer gene?

At my gynecologist’s urging, I tackled the threat of ovarian cancer first. Because the disease is hard to detect and so often fatal, my ovaries were removed in 2007, a few years after my husband and I decided we were done having kids.

The most difficult part of the operation came in the months that followed: I was thrust into menopause at 37. Despite age-inappropriate night sweats and hot flashes, I was relieved to have the surgery behind me and wrote about it in my book, “Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Mothers and Fathers Impacts the Way We Raise Our Children.”

The emotional release was short-lived. Less than a year later, my mother’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and died within four months.

Aunt Ronnie’s death set me on a preventive mastectomy warpath. I had already been under high-risk surveillance for more than a decade — being examined annually by a leading breast specialist and alternating between mammograms, breast MRIs and sonograms every three months — but suddenly being on watch didn’t seem enough, and I began researching surgical options.

Gilbert, her husband, Mark, and their children, Jake and Lexi, at a birthday celebration.

Regardless of my family history and BRCA status, I still went back and forth on having a mastectomy. I vacillated between feeling smug and insane.

Over the years, I’d read too many stories like the one in the Wall Street Journal last week, on doctors who make fatal mistakes (up to 98,000 people die every year in the United States because of medical errors, according to the Institute of Medicine). I was anxious about choosing a bad surgeon and a bad hospital.

The stakes felt even higher after I decided to go an unconventional route to reconstruction. Implants generally offer a quicker surgery and recovery, but they’re also known to leak, shift out of place, and feel hard to the touch and uncomfortable.

I would also likely have to replace them every 10 years — not an unimportant consideration, since I’m 42.

Ultimately, on August 7, I underwent double mastectomy with DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) flap reconstruction. The benefits would be that my new breasts would be permanent, made from my own skin and flesh, and I’d be getting rid of my childbearing belly fat in the process.

Gilbert and her husband, Mark, near their home in Westchester County, New York.

I had multiple consultations with surgeons who explained every reason not to have the procedure. They warned me that I’d be under anesthesia unnecessarily long and I’d be opening myself up to needless complications.

While every concern was valid, it wasn’t until I was six doctors into my investigation that I realized the likely reason why I was getting such push-back. The plastic surgeons I was consulting, despite their shining pedigrees and swanky offices, couldn’t perform a DIEP. The procedure requires highly skilled microsurgery and not every plastic surgeon, I learned, is a microsurgeon.

It also requires a great deal of stamina. The doctors I interviewed who perform DIEP flaps were generally younger and fitter than those who didn’t. On average, a double mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction takes 10-12 hours, while reconstruction using implants can take as little as three.

In total, I met with 10 surgeons before choosing my team, and while I am now thrilled with the outcome, all the years of research and worry took a toll on me.

The worst moment came one night when my husband and I were in bed. I began to cry uncontrollably and wished I could talk with my mother and aunt about which procedure to have, which doctor I should choose, and whether I should even have the surgery.

Gilbert's Aunt Ronnie and Gilbert's daughter, Lexi. Her aunt died from breast cancer in 2008, four months after the diagnosis.

Then a moment of bittersweet grace clarified what I needed to do. It struck me that the reason I couldn’t speak to my mother and aunt is exactly the reason I had to have the surgery.

Undergoing a prophylactic double mastectomy was a great decision for me. It’s clearly not a choice every woman would make, but I’m convinced without it I would have been one of the estimated 226,000 women the American Cancer Society says is diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year.

I could have tried to eat my way to a cancer-free life, but even Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the popular vegetables-are-key-to-health book “The China Study” admits diet may not be enough to protect BRCA patients from cancer.

Gilbert and her husband, Mark, at a basketball game.

“We need more research,” Campbell told me. “Conservatively, I’d say go ahead and have the surgery, and eat a plant-based diet after.”

I also could have waited for a vaccine, a pill or some other medical advance to come my way that would have made such a radical decision avoidable.

Perhaps MD Anderson Cancer Center’s newly announced war on cancer will produce positive results for patients who are susceptible to triple negative breast cancer, the type of aggressive disease likely to afflict BRCA1 patients and the kind my aunt most likely died from.

Gilbert's children, Jake and Lexi, in Tikal, Guatemala -- the last family vacation before Gilbert's surgery.

But every surgery substitute seemed locked in hope, not statistics. And as I’ve told my husband and children, I wasn’t willing to wait. I love them more than my chest.

My preventive mastectomy: Staying alive for my kids

Lil Wayne Mocks Mitt Romney In New Song

Nicki Minaj got the headlines for saying she’d be “voting for Mitt Romney,” but another track on Lil Wayne’s Dedication 4 ridicules the GOP candidate, too. “Nigga call me Mitch Romney!”

By Michael Hastings

Nicki Minaj made headlines when she sort of endorsed Mitt Romney in a remix of the hit song “Mercy” on Lil Wayne’s new album Dedication 4, released earlier this month.

But another song on the album — called “Cashed Out” — also mocks Romney, taking shots at the GOP candidates strategy of stashing his money in off-shore bank accounts in Bermuda, the Caymans, and Switzerland, to name a few.

The song begins:

As another election year upon us. This last four years has been good to me. A couple of dollars in a couple different bank acccounts. Some here, some off shore. Nigga call me Mitch Romney!

In recent days, questions have been raised about whether the hip-hop community still supports Obama. The answer appears to be: yes.

President Obama with Jay-Z and Beyonce at a recent New York fundraiser.

Lil Wayne Mocks Mitt Romney In New Song

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Nobody Else Can Do What I Want You To Do. That’s Why I Created You

By Lana Moline

Post image for Nobody Else Can Do What I Want You To Do. That’s Why I Created You

Perhaps you are growing weary as the person who everyone looks to for encouragement or a kind word. I know I’ve certainly seen those days but here’s what I know. Only you can be you. I had the privilege of speaking to a friend who is gifted in hospitality but over the years she had grown tired for various reasons. Along with that she became a little unhappy and couldn’t figure out entirely what the source of it was. After honest soul-searching she discovered that it was in part due to not doing what it is God designed her to do. She shared with me that by giving in to those feelings of weariness she realized that she was punishing herself.

I hadn’t thought about it that way but that is so true. That spoke to me because I am quick to offer a word of inspiration as often as I can but I will admit that sometimes it doesn’t always make its way to my door exactly when I need it, it takes its sweet time but it does come. It was comforting to hear that someone else experiences the same thing I do because we often feel like we are on a deserted island but that’s not true. So I too have decided not to punish myself and continue to offer as much encouragement and kindness as I can as often as I can because that’s how God created me. There’s a Tramaine Hawkins song where she sings “nobody else can do what I want you to do that’s why I created you.” That reigns true for both you and I. Continue to do you!

Lana Moline is a freelance writer and poet who lives in Ft. Worth with her three kids and husband Emile. Married 11 years, both media professionals have vowed to maintain integrity in all aspects of print and broadcast journalism.Visit her at

Texting & Driving: Teen Drivers Don’t Necessarily Practice What They Preach

texting while driving

Texting & Driving: Teen Drivers Don’t Necessarily Practice What They Preach

by James M. Flammang

“Do as I say, not as I do.” Plenty of parents and other adults have long been criticized for delivering this argument to youngsters. Now, it appears that teenage drivers are adopting that same illogical stand when it comes to texting and driving and other high-risk driving.

According to a recent national survey conducted by State Farm and Harris Interactive, teenagers riding in a car are actively discouraging the driver from texting while driving. But when they’re behind the wheel themselves, it’s a different story.

While in passenger mode, 78 percent of surveyed teens claimed they “spoke up and pointed out a driver’s distracted behavior.” Having done so, 84 percent insisted that the driver listened to their objection and ceased the distracting activity.

State Farm cites the comments of an 18-year-old Pennsylvania driver, Navea Frazier. “When I’m in a car with my friends,” Frazier reported, I say, ‘Hey, don’t do that. I’ll text for you.’ I’m the designated texter. And they always stop driving distracted.”

Of the 16 percent of teens who chose not to point out the troubling behavior, nearly half said, “they felt the driver could handle the distraction.”

Most distressing is the response from 34 percent of the surveyed teens: While they might ask friends or others not to text and drive, they continue to engage in texting themselves when behind the wheel. “Research tells us that texting while driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving,” says Chris Mullen, State Farm’s director of technology research. Teens need to “understand that no one can handle driving distracted.”

teen texting and driving

Another study, by the National Safety Council, reveals a troubling disparity between attitudes about drowsy driving versus driving while intoxicated. “Drunk driving is universally viewed as dangerous,” says Janet Froetscher, president/CEO of the Council. However, “young people especially don’t understand the very risks associated with drowsy and distracted driving.” They often believe sleep-deprived driving is “understandable” rather than “wrong.”

According to the Council, sleep-related and alcohol-related crashes “occur predominantly among young drivers.” Furthermore, during long highway trips, drivers under age 30 are more sleep-deprived than those in other age groups.

texting and driving

As for those respondents who claim the distracted teenage driver always stops texting when warned by a passenger, we’d bet that a bit of exaggeration is going on. Either that, or teenagers have changed considerably in the 21st century. A few decades back, suggesting from the back seat that a young driver tone down his antics was more likely to result in snickers and derision from other passengers than immediate cessation of the dangerous misbehavior. Are you a teen or adult who thinks texting and driving at the same time is a distraction you can handle?

Learn more about driving safety and improving your driving skills in autoMedia’s Drive Smart section. 

Texting & Driving: Teen Drivers Don’t Necessarily Practice What They Preach


6 Other Types of Life Insurance Every Policyholder Should Know About

life insurance

Knowing about the basic types of insurance out there is a great start towards finding the perfect solution. Usually, an insurance agent will talk at length with any new customer to discover their particular needs so they can suggest a policy that makes the best fit.

There are a few other types of life insurance out there that provide specific solutions. In certain cases, it just makes sense to go with these prepackaged plans.

Here are 6 special-need types of life insurance everyone should know about before making an insurance decision.

1. Mortgage Life Insurance

One of the main concerns of insured people is what the loss of an income stream can mean for their family in the event of their passing. This is particularly true if they have costly bills to worry about, and for most that means the mortgage.

One unique form of insurance offered by life insurance companies, mortgage life insurance, can provide enough to pay off an entire mortgage in the case of the policyholder’s death.

The death benefit is paid directly to the beneficiaries and does not have to be used to pay off the mortgage.

Keep in mind that these policies are form of term insurance. It is not a permanent benefit.

2. Senior Life Insurance

If the policyholder is concerned about a beneficiary’s ability to handle a large cash payout directly after the occurrence of death, senior life insurance might be the answer. Instead of paying the entire death benefit at once, small amounts are released in the early years preceding the policyholder’s death. After a set period has passed, the entire amount is released.

3. Juvenile Life Insurance

For those who want to get their child off on the right foot with their insurance, juvenile life insurance policies are available. This is a way to build up cash value early in a child’s life while leveraging their low risk of death to access a low premium.

This provides a head start for the insured, building up a good deal of interest over those additional years.

4. Family Life Insurance

Losing anyone in the family can be financially devastating – not just the breadwinner. If the insured wants to cover the entire family, including the children, family insurance may be the answer.

This type of insurance is sold in units per person and allows for those who bring in the highest income stream to be insured for the most, reflecting the realities faced by the modern-day family.

5. Family Income Life Insurance

With family income life insurance policies, an income amount is agreed to be paid out for a certain number of years after the insured (usually the breadwinner) passes away, allowing the family time to prepare for a new standard of living.

6. Credit Life Insurance

Most people take on debt for a reason and accept the risks associated with that debt. But there’s one risk no one likes to create – the risk of leaving all debts behind for a grieving family.

Credit life insurance provides an answer. Like mortgage insurance, it pays off the balance of loans, whether they are car loans, education loans, or even credit cards.

Unlike mortgage insurance, however, credit life insurance is purchased through the financial institution orchestrating the loan in the first place. Payouts are made directly to the lender rather than the family of the deceased.

Do any of these life insurance types seem to be the perfect match for what you’re looking for in a policy? Get in touch with a seasoned professional today to discuss more or find out if there is something else you don’t know about.

6 Other Types of Life Insurance Every Policyholder Should Know About

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Spotlight on Safety for Shows Outdoors

The scene at the Indiana State Fair, where a stage collapsed on Aug. 13, 2011.


Jim Digby, the tour manager for Linkin Park, knows better than most how dangerous a rock ’n’ roll show can be. In 1983 he was a 19-year-old technical director at a new nightclub outside Philadelphia when a piece of equipment he was operating came off a faulty overhead track, plummeted toward the floor and killed a young woman standing just a few feet from him.

“My finger was on the button,” he recalled. “That memory has been buried inside me for years.”

That moment flashed through his mind, he said, when stage rigging collapsed at the Indiana State Fair last year and killed seven people waiting to hear the country duo Sugarland. The accident was one offour that summer in which stages collapsed in high winds. Then this June a drum technician for Radiohead died in Toronto when a stage roof fell before a show, this time in fair weather.

For Mr. Digby the Indiana disaster was a turning point. During the past year he has organized a campaign to improve safety at outdoor events, and, though his group’s efforts are in the early stages, he has garnered support from AEG Worldwide, one of the nation’s largest promoters, as well as from stage manufacturers and leaders of the IATSE, the stagehands’ union.

Mr. Digby’s organization, the Event Safety Alliance, is pushing the outdoor concert industry to adopt national standards not only for stage construction but also for emergency procedures during bad weather and other crises. Those standards would be based on a guidebook published by British workplace-safety authorities that has become widely used in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

“These things always boil down to dollars and cents,” Mr. Digby said. “I don’t think any show has ever intentionally caused an accident that put somebody in a body bag,” he added. “But because the industry doesn’t have any standards and practices, because it doesn’t have a catalog of best practices, because it isn’t regulated, any cowboy can do anything.”

He and a handful of like-minded tour managers have also begun taking unilateral action. Linkin Park and a few other bands, among them Heart and Phish, are now demanding guarantees in their contracts that promoters build stages to stringent engineering standards and draw up emergency plans, spelling out who is responsible for shutting down a show.

These tours have begun hiring meteorologists as well. Last month Linkin Park became the first rock band to have its touring operation receive the National Weather Service’s StormReady seal of approval after the band hired a consulting company, Weather Decision Technologies, to provide warnings on weather hazards. The band has also drawn up thorough plans for weather emergencies, federal officials said. “We are really hoping people will follow their lead,” said Richard Smith, a warning-coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The disaster at the Sugarland concert threw a spotlight on the lack of uniform standards for outdoor events. An independent investigation by an engineering firm found the overhead stage rigging that collapsed was shoddily built and did not meet the standards recommended by Plasa, an association representing stage manufacturers and dealers. A second consultant’s report found the accident was exacerbated by a lack of emergency planning: communications broke down and it was unclear who was in charge during the critical minutes before the storm hit.

For decades outdoor-concert promoters have been largely self-policed, and regulations for temporary stages vary widely from state to state and city to city, promoters say. Some cities, like Chicago and New York, have stringent engineering requirements and inspections by local buildings officials. Even in states with strong regulations enforcement can be spotty, especially at fairs and events put on by small-time promoters.

The Event Safety Alliance grew out of discussions Mr. Digby had with promoters, stage companies and tour managers after last year’s accidents. Besides recommending safety clauses in show contracts, the alliance is drafting standards and practices for outdoor concerts to be put in place by early next year. They are based on the British standards, known as the “purple guide.” Those 200 pages of standards by the Health and Safety Executive are not law, but during the past two decades they have become the de facto template for negotiations between local authorities and promoters over concert permits.


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