A recent survey by AAA had some shockingly dangerous results.
From the wire: "Six in ten U.S. drivers admit to unsafe behaviors behind the wheel, according to a survey out this week from the Triple-A Foundation for Traffic Survey. Nearly 23 percent admitted excessive speeding, with the survey finding that speeding has the lowest perceived social disapproval. Other dangerous behaviors included texting while driving, running red lights, generally aggressive driving and driving while impaired."
According to Utah's page on the highway safety website reveal these scary facts:
- Utah crash data between 2017-2021 shows that 27,514 distracted driving crashes resulted in 15,004 injury crashes and 83 people dying in 74 distracted driver fatal crashes.
- Crash data indicates drivers under the age of 20 are involved in 31% of distracted driving crashes, more than any other age group.
- The highest percentage of fatal distracted driver crashes occurred on Fridays, followed by Saturdays and Tuesdays.
- 48% of all fatal crashes occur between 12:00 pm and 7:00 pm, with the most significant occurring between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm
Some interpretation of these facts bring it home.
- Utah is driving distracted -- Need proof, just drive to Salt Lake City and back and count how many drivers you see that are on their phones while operating a 3,000-pound missile at 85-miles per hour.
- We know it's wrong, but do it anyway -- Sixty percent even admit to it, according to that AAA survey. Officials say only when we are confronted with the reality of death do we even think twice about it. Sad.
- Young people, especially teenagers, think they're invincible -- About 1/3 of the distracted driving crashes are by teenagers.
- Evening rush hour crashes are deadly -- Even though nearly as many crashes occur in the mornings, evening rush hour crashes account for nearly half of all deaths on the road. In a hurry to get home, I suppose.
Speed and distracted driving are the deadliest, but we also have a problem with running red lights, driving aggressively and there's even a percentage of those polled who admit (anonymously) to driving while impaired.
Those are some sobering numbers.
St. George's Ugliest Sweater?
Dave Cordero, who works for the City of St. George entered and won the ugly sweater contest Monday night during St. George's Christmas celebration kickoff and tree lighting.
But is Dave's ugly sweater, which features a cartoon Dwight Schrute from "The Office" saying "Fact, Xmas is Here" really the ugliest sweater around?
I've seen some doozies in my day, and even owned a couple that were, well, aesthetically displeasing.
So what makes a sweater "ugly" anyway, and who in the heck started this tradition?
Ugly Sweater 101
According to anythinklibraries.org, "an ugly Christmas sweater by definition is any sweater with a Christmas theme that is considered in bad taste, tacky or gaudy. The more embellishments (or the better themed, depending on who you ask), the better. Reindeers? Santa? Christmas trees with blinking ornaments? A light up menorah? A Star Wars Christmas tree with Yoda? All these tacky little details point towards winning the prize for best ugly Christmas sweater at parties."
And with "Ugly Sweater Parties" totally the "in" thing to host nowadays, it would behoove us all to grab an ugly sweater as part of our Christmas party arsenal.
Ugly Sweater History
It seems Ugly Sweater contests have been going on for more than 40 years.
Christmas sweaters, ones designed specifically for the season, have been around since the 1950s, but making fun of them, at least in the form of a party/contest has been happening only in the last 20 years.
Again, anythink says, "Through the 90s, ugly sweaters disappeared for a while, replaced by other ugly fashion (hi, overalls, I miss you), but they would pop back up in the 2000s, when ironic fashion became a thing. Fueled by memes and their love of hilarious, social media worthy stories, millennials awesomely brought back ugly Christmas sweaters by doing something unexpected: they threw parties around them."
Ugly sweaters are so trendy and even have their own hashtag: #uglychristmassweater.
Here are a few from out there:
Wait, Utah Puts What In Their Cheese Balls?
If you've been active on social media in recent times, you've probably noticed that a lot of folks are getting pretty excited about cheese balls.
I'm not talking about the crispy cheese puffs you can buy at the store (trust me, there's a whole debate on whether they should be called cheese balls or cheese puffs).
No, I'm talking about the roughly ball-shaped globs of cheese food served at parties with crackers and (for some strange reason) seem to have slivered almonds stuck to the outside of them.
Don't get me wrong, I love a good cheese ball, especially if bacon is invited to the party.
But some of these recipes floating around Facebook, InstaGram and Pinterest are just, well, wrong.
Here's a sampling:
- Walnut-pomegranate cheese ball -- Apparently this just seasoned cream cheese with chopped walnuts, with those nasty little pomegranate seeds stuck to the outside of it.
- Pumpkin cheese ball -- Apparently this is a favorite in Utah. This doesn't actually have any pumpkin in it, but your supposed to mold it to look like a pumpkin. The ingredients include ranch seasoning and crushed Doritos, with a baby dill pickle as the "pumpkin's" stem.
- Chocolate chip cheese ball -- OK, we crossed the line from savory to sweet on this one. Better swerve it with animal crackers, not Ritz.
- Utah cricket cheese ball -- The author of this recipe swears the crickets are deep-fried and perfectly healthy, but that's a hard pass from me.
- Beer pretzel cheese ball -- Beer in the recipe and pretzels stuck to the outside. It would take a lot of cheese to get buzzed off of this one.
- Severed foot cheese ball -- Shaped to look like a severed foot (complete with black olives for toenails), who wouldn't want commemorate a severed limb and eat olive toenails. Am I right?
- Maple-garlic cheese ball -- Mom always told to "Don't knock it until you've tried it," but those two flavors just don't go together.
- Braunschweiger cheese ball -- Looks like a shot from a sci-fi/horror flick (see picture below), I just couldn't. Shouldn't. Wouldn't.
- McDonald's cheeseburger cheese ball -- Apparently this is a thing: Grind up a McDonald's cheeseburger (bun and all) and mix it with cream cheese. Some adventurous types have McDonald's fries poking out of the finished product.
I didn't include recipes or links to them because none of these creations should ever see the light of day.
Guilty! Southern Utah Opens Up About Guilty Pleasures
OK, OK, we're talking about food here, so get your mind out of the gutter.
I recently asked through social media some of the food people in Southern Utah secretly love that they'd just as soon everyone not know about. As per their requests, the names have been changed to protect the over-indulgent.
But as a show of good faith, I will go first.
- Pop Tarts -- Frozen, room temperature, toasted, whatever, I love 'em. They have no real nutritional value, won't fill you up and are probably made from cardboard or concrete. Doesn't matter, I eat them up when I can -- my wife is very anti-Pop Tart -- Andy in St. George
- Dipping pizza in ranch dressing -- I try not to do it in public, but when we order pizza at home, out comes the ranch. The creaminess, combined with the savory pepperoni and sauce ... so good. -- Jamie in Washington City
- Dipping french fries in a Wendy's Frosty -- I don't think there's anything wrong with this, but I've had people sneer at me when I do it. OK, maybe ice cream and potatoes don't go together, I don't know. -- Melanie in Santa Clara
- Peanuts in my Dr. Pepper -- I call it my morning protein shake. And by the time you finish the Dr. Pepper, the peanuts are all dissolved. It tastes kind of like a Snickers bar. -- Celeste in Cedar City
- Peanut butter and apple slices on bread -- It's just basically a PB & J with the apples acting as the J. -- Candy in St. George
- Melted cheese on my apple pie -- I get funny looks when I eat this, but you should try it. It is absolutely the bomb! -- Mark in St. George
- Sweet potato fries dipped in maple syrup or cinnamon/sugar -- It's like Thanksgiving yams, only with fries. So good. -- Gena in Hurricane
- Milk with Coke -- It's like a milkshake or a Coke Float, only so much easier and quicker. Make sure the milk is really cold -- Michelle in Mesquite
- Bacon with ice cream -- I love bacon so much, and it can go with anything. I'll put it on grilled cheese, peanut butter sandwich and even vanilla ice cream. Hey, don't knock it until you've tried it. -- Terry in Washington City
- Raw spinach in place of lettuce on everything -- I guess this isn't that weird, but I love raw spinach and if anything I eat calls for lettuce (burgers, salad, sandwiches, tacos) I'll put spinach instead. -- KG in St. George
As they say, to each his own. Or as my Dad always says -- woolen underwear (to itch his own).
S. Utah: How To Not Get Scammed While Shopping Online
We talked about Cyber Monday and keeping scammers and thieves at bay this year as we do our online shipping today on the Andy Griffin Show.
Here are some of the tips we came up with:
- Only use sites that you're familiar with -- Amazon, BestBuy, Fanatics, Lowes, etc. If you're not familiar with the site, do a little research. Type the website's name and then scam in the search bar to see if they have many complaints.
- James Mackay from MetaBlog.com says: "Before entering any information into a website, you should always check that the site is safe and secure. The first step is to hover your mouse over the URL and check the validity of the web address. You should look for a padlock symbol in the address bar and check that the URL begins with a ‘https://’ or ‘shttp://’. The ‘S’ indicates the web address has been encrypted and secured with an SSL certificate. Without HTTPS, any data passed on the site is insecure and could be intercepted by criminal third parties.
- Don't use a debit card for online shopping. If a criminal steals your debit card details, they can clear out your personal account and it can be more difficult to reclaim the money. But credit card companies monitor for theft all the time.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is offering a deal that is way below what all others are offering it for, well, Mom was right, it's usually too good to be true.
- Be wary of gift cards. They are the currency of choice for scammers, who will often sell gift cards with little or no value left on them.
- If they want too much information, that's a red flag. From Webroot.com: "Expect to provide some method of payment, shipping address, telephone number, and email address, but if the merchant requests other information, walk away. You never want to give them your bank account information, social security information, or driver’s license number."
- Don't reuse passwords. Never use the same password from one of your "regular" websites. Scammers will try to log on as you and you're basically giving them permission.
- Make sure to see the transaction all the way through. A lot of shopping sites will add exorbitant shipping fees right at the very end.
- Read the fine print. It's a pain, but know what sort of contract you're entering into.
Dangerous 'Super Pigs' Could Be On Their Way To Utah
There's a new breed of pigs in the world -- dubbed "Super Pigs" -- and experts say it's only a matter of time before they find their way to Utah.
If you Google "super pig," dozens of entries come up in the search, plus questions like "How fast can a super pig run?" and "How dangerous is a super pig?"
The new breed, descended from feral razorbacks or boars mating with domesticated pigs, can grow up to 400 pounds and run up to 30 miles per hour (!), about 10 MPH faster than YOU can run.
From the website a-z-animals.com: "Super pigs are hybrid species resulting from mating or breeding between wild and domestic pigs. In Canada, wild pigs from Europe were introduced in the 1980s. Super pigs resulted when farmers began to breed the already existent population of feral Canadian pigs with those from Europe of recent introduction. Farmers decided to breed the two groups in this way because they believed that super pigs would provide more meat and be easier targets to shoot."
They were wrong on both accounts. "Another fact about super pigs is that they are highly intelligent. Super pigs can recognize when they are being hunted or threatened, allowing them to change their course of action to survive. For instance, if a super pig realized it was being hunted, it might become nocturnal or hide in brush, forests, or dense wetlands to evade capture or death."
According to CBS News, "Ryan Brook, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and one of Canada's leading authorities on the problem, calls feral swine, "the most invasive animal on the planet" and "an ecological train wreck."
While these animals rarely attack humans, what they do attack is ecosystems.
Imagine Utah's mountain populated not with deer, elk or rabbits, but feral pigs that eat everything they can as fast as they can.
From CBS News again: "Pigs are not native to North America. While they've roamed parts of the continent for centuries, Canada's problem dates back only to the 1980s when it encouraged farmers to raise wild boar, Brook said. It turned out that the pigs were very good at surviving Canadian winters. Smart, adaptable and furry, they eat anything, including crops and wildlife. They tear up land when they root for bugs and crops. They can spread devastating diseases to hog farms like African swine fever. And they reproduce quickly. A sow can have six piglets in a litter and raise two litters in a year."
So what are the odds they'll be in Utah anytime soon?
Well, witnesses have already spotted the super pigs within a few miles of the US-Canadian border, while others say they're already in some northern states, like Montana.
Utah and Montana are only about 400 miles apart in some places.
As they reproduce and continue to search for compatible climate and land, these super pigs will keep migrating south. It's only a matter of time, really, before super pigs are here.