Does Anyone Talk On The Phone Or In Person Anymore?

It drives me nuts when my wife or kids spend 10 minutes texting or messaging back and fourth about questions or subjects that I believe would take just one or two minutes to clarify and answer if they would only call or do it in person. The other problem I’m finding is that many of today’s younger kids are having a tough time communicating once out in the real world. Lets just say sustained, confident, coherent conversation is becoming a lost art. I challenge you, the next time you interact with a teenager, try to have a conversation with him or her about a challenging topic or debatable subject. Ask him to explain his views. Push them to go further with their answers. Below are some crazy but interesting facts, we truly are transitioning into a society that is using less and personal, or should I say, traditional forms of communications. (Source: Pew Research; The Atlantic; and Text Request)

According to the Pew Research Center, one in three teens sends over 100 text messages a day. More than half of teens use texting to communicate daily with friends, versus only 33 percent who regularly talk face to face.

Global Texting: In June of 2014, 561 billion text messages were sent worldwide. That’s the most recent number we’ve got. Obviously that’s a rounded figure, but it brings us to roughly 18.7 billion texts sent every day around the world. At that time the U.S. was sending about 45% of the world’s texts, which is interesting when you consider we only account for 4% of the world’s population.

Texting In The U.S.: Roughly 85% of the American population now uses texting. In fact, Americans now text twice as much as they call, on average. If you use the data above, you can conclude that Americans sent roughly 255 billion texts a month in 2014. If we extrapolate that out we can conclude that roughly 8.5 billion texts were sent every day. 33% of American adults now prefer texting to all other forms of communication.

Texting by Age Group: In 2013, Experian Marketing Services released this report, breaking down text usage by demographic. Again, it’s been a few years since their report, which might mean the numbers are dated, but it’s the best public information we’ve got. Per their report, those between 18-24 years old sent and received an average of 3,853 texts messages per month. In a 30-day month, that’s just over 128 messages per day.

App-to-App Messaging: App-to-app messaging, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, is not included in this. Those two combine for over 60 billion messages every day, in case you were curious.

Speed: 95% of texts will be read within 3 minutes of being sent. Average response time for a text is 90 seconds. 99% of all texts are opened and read. Response rates from text are 209% higher than those from phone calls. The average adult spends 23 hours a week texting.

Smartphones: About three-quarters of U.S. adults (77%) say they own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011, making the smartphone one of the most quickly adopted consumer technologies in recent history. Smartphone ownership is more common among those who are younger or more affluent. For example, 92% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they own a smartphone, compared with 42% of those who are ages 65 and older. From 2013 to 2016, the share of adults 65 and older who report owning a smartphone has risen 24 percentage points (from 18% to 42%). 97% of all smartphone users have texted within the last week.

Shopping: The smartphone is becoming an important tool for shoppers. While around half of U.S. adults (51%) report making online purchases via their smartphone, many are also turning to their phones while in a physical store. In a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 59% of U.S. adults say that they have used their cellphone to call or text someone while inside a store to discuss purchases they are thinking of making. Just under half (45%) have used their phones while inside a store to look up online reviews or to try and find a better price online for something they are thinking of purchasing. (12%( of Americans have used their cellphones to physically pay for in-store purchases.

Crop Progress w/e 7/16/17

Weekly condition data now shows 64% of the corn crop rated in “good-to-excellent” condition, compared to 65% the previous week and 76% last year. USDA shows 40% of the crop as “silking”, up from 19% last week, but still running behind the 5-year average of 47% for the week. I remain a bull, believing the current crop-conditions will pressure production more than the trade is anticipating. Below are some specifics regarding current corn crop-conditions and comparisons to last week and last year:

States Where Conditions Improved Last Week 

Pennsylvania improved +8% to 89% vs 71% last year
Texas improved +5% to 72% vs 63% last year
Colorado improved +1% to 67% vs 83% last year
Missouri improved +1% to 69% vs 73% last year
Ohio improved +1% to 54% vs. 64% last year
Tennessee “unchanged” at 91% vs 78% last year

States Where Conditions Deteriorated Last Week   

North Dakota lowered -7% to 45% vs 78% last year
South Dakota lowered -7% to 30% vs 63% last year
Iowa lowered by -6% to 71% vs 81% last year
Kentucky lowered -3% to 84% vs 72% last year
Wisconsin lowered -3% to 66% vs 86% last year
Kansas lowered by -2% to 59% vs 69% last year
Nebraska lowered -2% to 65% vs 80% last year
North Carolina lowered -2% to 80% vs 69% last year
Illinois lowered by -1% to 62% vs 80% last year
Indiana lowered by -1% to 47% vs 74% last year
Michigan lowered -1% to 66% vs 59% last year
Minnesota lowered -1% to 79% vs 82% last year

Weekly crop-conditions now show the U.S. soybean crop rated at just 61% “Good-to-Excellent,” down -1% compared to last week and down -10% compared to last year. Data shows 52% of U.S. soybeans are blooming, up from 34% last week and slightly ahead of the 5-year average at 51%. We also learned that 16% of U.S. soybeans are now “setting pods” vs. 7% last week vs. the 5-year average of 13%. 

States Where Conditions Improved Last Week 

Michigan improved +3% to 68% vs 60% last year
Missouri improved +3% to 65% vs 67% last year
Tennessee improved +3% to 84% vs 76% last year
Louisiana improved +2% to 81% vs 74% last year
Mississippi improved +2% to 67% vs 67% last year
Arkansas improved +1% to 71% vs 56% last year
Illinois improved +1% to 67% vs 76% last year

States Where Conditions Deteriorated Last Week  

North Dakota lowered -7% to 40% vs 72% last year
Kansas lowered -5% to 59% vs. 60% last year
South Dakota lowered -5% to 29% vs 66% last year
Iowa lowered -4% to 63% vs 80% last year
North Carolina lowered -4% to 75% vs 71% last year
Nebraska lowered -3% to 63% vs 77% last year
Ohio lowered -3% to 50% vs 66% last year
Wisconsin lowered -3% to 71% vs 85% last year
Indiana lowered -1% to 49% vs 72% last year
Kentucky lowered -1% to 77% vs 70% last year
Minnesota lowered -1% to 72% vs 78% last year 

Farmers In Space…

Apollo 11 landed the lunar module “Eagle” on the moon, July 20,1969. With this being the anniversary, I thought it was only fitting to run a related story. This is somewhat interesting as it deals with farming in space. Since its earliest missions, NASA has been focused on food, something astronauts need whether they are at home or thousands of miles out in space. Over the years, the administration has tried a series of solutions: John Glenn had pureed beef and veggie paste, other flight crews used new-age freeze drying technology. More recently however, NASA’s been trying to figure out ways its astronauts can grow their own food while in orbit. NASA’s first plant growth system in space was called “Veggie”. The newest system is called the “Advanced Plant Habitat”, is the size of a mini-fridge and is making huge strides. Instead of storing soda, it carefully records every step in the growth of plants aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This allows researchers on the ground unprecedented insight into how plants are shaped by microgravity and other forces at work in outer space. Though it’s small, the new habitat is equipped with over 180 sensors and three cameras. The sensors record data about temperature, moisture and oxygen. All of the data is processed by a computer named with NASA’s characteristic humor, “PHARMER” — Plant Habitat Avionics Real-Time Manager in Express Rack. Except for installation, the system runs with very little input and cuts down on the cost of shipping food to the station. Reports circulating say it costs more than $10,000 a pound to send food and other supplies into space. That means a typical 14 ounce loaf of bread can costs somewhere in the ballpark of $8,000 to send into space. Plus, the freshest stuff doesn’t last long. One of the habitat’s most interesting innovations is its light. The sun emits about 2,000 micromoles to Earth. NASA’s new habitat will put out 1,000 or half the light of the sun inside the growing chambers. That’s become a huge source of light for the plants, which need the glow to grow. Ultimately, the habitat is more of a research project than a bonafide space farm. But many experts in the field see it as a first step in a larger mission to make human life sustainable in space and perhaps on another planet. (Source: NASA)

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Brandless Has All Your Household Staples For Just $3

You are probably paying way too much for your everyday essentials, at least according to a new startup called “Brandless.” The company has launched an online store that sells everything from pantry staples to beauty products for a flat $3 each. You did not misread that – every item is priced at just $3. Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler brainstormed the idea about three years ago. Since then, they’ve been building a collection of products that cover numerous categories of consumer packaged goods, or as Brandless describes their offerings, “things you reach for every day.” Food items include non-perishable items like cereals and condiments. Basic cleaning supplies like dish soap and toilet cleaner are covered. They carry hand soap, lotion toothpaste, cotton balls and lip balm. You can even purchase porcelain dishes, kitchen knives and craft paper notebooks. Sharkey and Leffler have taken out something they have dubbed the “BrandTax™” (yes, they trademarked it). This is the “hidden costs” consumers pay for a national brand. Brandless estimate the average person pays at least 40% more for products of comparable quality as what they are offering. On some items, like face creams, for instance, they estimate the BrandTax™ can be as high as 370%. By stripping away all the underlying costs that come with the traditional consumer packaged goods distribution model and going straight to the consumer, Brandless says their goods cost an average of 40% less than comparable products. Another way they are able to keep prices so low is by offering only a limited number of products. They worked with a development team run by Rachael Vegas, who oversaw Target’s grocery business of 15 years. Together they have come up with what they believe to be the basic household essentials, with a few “trendy” items thrown in for good measure. They also plan to offer seasonal items around the holidays. Brandless also keeps costs down by opting for extremely simple packaging. As their goods are only available via the Brandless website, they have no need for labels or containers that can stand out among the 50 other similar products sitting on a grocer’s shelf. Orders over $72 ship for free, while anything under that amount ships for a flat $9. They also offer an annual B.More membership for $36 which will get you free shipping on orders over just $48. On the philanthropic side of things, the company has partnered with Feeding America, a hunger-relief organization. The partnership donates 10 meals with every new B.More signup, and another two meals every time a B.More member shops. Non-member orders garner 1 meal donation. While the direct to consumer approach is not a new one, it is rather rare in the grocery sector. Trader Joe’s is probably one of the most widely recognized companies in that space, but they rely on physical storefronts. Brandless is online only and aims to completely disrupt the traditional grocery business. If you’d like more info, check out the website HERE.

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Remembering Sergeant Stubby, One Of America’s Great War Heroes

Our family loves dogs, so I couldn’t help but pass this one along… One of America’s most celebrated soldiers of WWI was known as Sergeant Stubby. He was presented with a gold medal personally by General John J. Pershing, commander of the American forces in Europe during the war, for what the general described as “heroism of highest caliber” and “bravery under fire.” The award was not a formal U.S. military commendation, but it symbolically confirmed Stubby as the greatest war dog in America’s history. In total, Sgt. Stubby earned 3 Service Stripes, a Yankee Division YD Patch, a Purple Heart, the 1st Annual American Legion Convention Medal, a New Haven WW1 Veterans Medal, a Republic of France Grande War Medal, a St Mihiel Campaign Medal and the Chateau Thierry Campaign Medal. According to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, he was the first dog ever given rank in the U.S. Army. Stubby was found on the grounds of the Yale University campus where the 102nd Infantry was training. Soldiers became fond of dog, which is believed to have been some type of Bull Terrier mix. As the legend goes, Corporal Robert Conroy hid Stubby on board the troop ‘ s ship before they were shipped out. When discovered by the commanding officer, Stubby supposedly saluted him as the troops had trained him to do while at Yale. This won over the commanding officer and Stubby was allowed to remain on board. Adopted as the unofficial mascot of the 26th Yankee Division, he served in the trenches of France for 18 months, participating in seventeen battles on the Western front. During that time, he is credited with warning his regiment of surprise attacks, locating wounded soldiers in no man’s land and overall improving morale and comforting the wounded. A story in the Times once described how one morning, while most of the troops were sleeping, the division was assaulted by an early morning gas launch. Stubby first smelled the gas then ran up and down the trenches barking and biting soldiers, working to rouse them and getting them to safety. It is also said that he once caught a German spy, grabbing him by the seat of his pants and holding him until American soldiers reached him. It was the capture of the spy that prompted the regiment’s leader, Col. John Henry Parker, to nominate Stubby for the rank of sergeant, though whether he was ever “officially” promoted is a matter of debate. It’s worth noting that the 26th Division would come out of the war as one of the most battle-scarred, seeing more fighting than any other American division, and Stubby was there through it all. Stubby was well known to the American public, having become a favorite of correspondents covering the front. He was the star of many reports sent back to the states and maintained his celebrity status after returning to America. He marched in parades across the country, met three U.S. Presidents and became the Georgetown Hoyas’ team mascot when he followed Conroy there in 1921. Stubby’s exact date of birth is not known, but it’s believed he was born sometime in 1916. He found his Army family in July of 1917. Stubby died in his sleep in Conroy’s arms in 1926. Today, his taxidermied remains are on view at the Smithsonian. (Sources: Smithsonian, Wikipedia, Slate)

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