Schuh Column: A potpourri of news around the nation
By Jim Schuh
In my attempts to keep you both entertained and informed, I spend a good deal of time searching for material. Most items I come across are at least somewhat newsworthy, although not essential to everyday living. Still, you may enjoy some of it.
Take, for example, a Wall Street Journal report awhile back detailing a National Association of Broadcasters survey that revealed 29 percent of Americans didn’t know they can receive local TV station signals for free. Many of us grew up in an era of free TV, but somewhere along the line it appears the concept of free TV slid into the shadows. Many younger people don’t know anything about it.
If we have cable or satellite service, we’re paying a monthly fee to get those stations. But with an investment of $20 to $25, viewers can purchase an antenna that pulls in local channels for free.
With an antenna, they’ll not only receive the local stations, but also the stations’ sub-channels – each local station like WSAW-TV, WAOW-TV and WHRM-TV, has secondary and tertiary channels of programming.
All you have to do is decide whether to keep your current pay service or spend a little on a one-time basis to get an antenna and have free service once it’s installed. But you might miss getting CNN, FOX and other popular cable-only channels, although you can sign up for many cable channels for viewing on your computer.
A good number of folks have dumped pay TV service. Analysts predict the trend will continue, as viewers tire of high monthly charges and find they can live without so many channels. The average cable subscriber watches only 16 or 17 channels and doesn’t need the rest.
Next item – I guess we shouldn’t complain about what we pay for automobile insurance. Insure.com’s annual state-by-state comparison of average annual premiums for auto coverage shows Wisconsin ranked 37th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Wisconsin’s coverage averages $1,154, meaning we save $164 annually. That’s not bad.
Here are some comparisons – the national annual average for auto coverage was $1,318, down one percent from a year ago. The most expensive coverage was in Michigan — $2,394. The cheapest – Maine at $864. After Michigan, the other most expensive states for coverage are Louisiana, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Florida.
Among Wisconsin’s neighboring states, Minnesota ranked 29th ($1,241); Illinois was 36th ($1,159) and Iowa was 46th ($1,017).
Vacation time is here. So where do Wisconsinites like to go on vacation when they travel abroad in summer? Canada and Mexico top the list, but some other spots are unusually popular.
The New York Times reported that Badger State residents most frequently go to Ireland. The next four spots they chose were Canada, Macedonia, Germany and Norway.
Still on the topic of travel, more than 20 percent of us either knowingly or unknowingly smuggle prohibited items aboard aircraft.
A survey by Stratos Jet Charters found younger people to be the worst violators. The survey revealed the most common items whisked past TSA agents on purpose were food and liquids. Then came knives and illegal drugs.
We’ve been to the moon and discovered cures for many maladies, but until recently, nobody’s tackled the problem of what makes us cry when we’re peeling or slicing onions.
Researchers discovered that when a person cuts an onion, the vegetable releases a compound called lachrymatory factor (LF), which makes the eyes sting and water. I’m not sure what we do with this information, but now we at least know why it happens.
Perhaps we need to import “tearless” onions from Japan – they don’t produce LF. But I do recall some advice that claims if you slice onions under water, you won’t tear up.
Another vegetable report – Wisconsin now has a law that aims to help stop the spread of late blight in potatoes. Late blight is the disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine, and potato growers in our area keep watch for development of the disease in their fields. So far this season, so good.
Two area legislators — Senator Patrick Testin of Stevens Point and Representative John Spiros Marshfield – authored legislation on how growers must deal with late blight.
Last fall, Governor Walker signed the legislation requiring growers to treat late blight infected plants within 24-hours when ordered by the state. The law also contains a provision that requires growers to destroy those plants within 72-hours of receiving a state order.
Another law says that potato seed growers who plant five or more acres in one year must use seed certified by the University of Wisconsin-Madison or an equivalent program. The law will help ensure that the seed is late blight-free.
On the lighter side, if you use a gun to hunt armadillos, you need to be extra careful. The animal, encased in an armor-like shell, has been spreading its habitat down south, causing grief among land owners.
One fellow in Texas decided to act around 3:00 AM., when he spotted an armadillo in his yard. (Do you suppose alcohol was involved?) He fired three shots at the critter. One ricocheted off the creature’s hard shell and struck the fellow in the jaw.
The local sheriff said the man was airlifted to the hospital where doctors wired his jaw shut. The sheriff says they never did find the armadillo.