Why Teens Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Drive.

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The legal age to get a driver’s license in my state is 16. Any parent giving a child that kind of freedom at the age of 16 is ridiculous and irresponsible. Some very smart people I know made a rookie mistake and gave their kids cars as soon as they got a license. Full-time access to an automobile is the ultimate freedom. The average 16 year-old is nowhere near ready for that kind of freedom.

Actually, I know a bunch of older idiots who shouldn’t be allowed to drive. Anyone with a pick-up truck. And anyone over 80-years-old. As a matter of fact, no one should be allowed to drive. Hurry up and get those self-driving cars on the road, Tesla!

Plus, have you checked into the insurance rates for a 16 year-old male child? Better sit down before making that inquiry.

A car is many things. Primarily, it is an expensive and convenient mode of transportation. But please don’t be so naïve. It is also a potential weapon. It is an escape from authority and proper guidance. It is a vehicle for adolescent irresponsibility. It is a private place for sexual experimentation. Come on, you were 16 once. You must remember what it was like. Better kiss that dream of saving virginity until marriage goodbye.

In a 2005 article in USA Today, reporter Robert Davis cites findings from brain researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The weak link: what’s called “the executive branch” of the teen brain — the part that weighs risks, makes judgments, and controls impulsive behavior. Scientists at the NIH have found that this vital area develops through the teenage years and isn’t fully mature until about age 25. It is possible that one 16 year-old’s brain might be more developed than another 18 year-old’s, just as a younger teen might be taller than an older one. But evidence is mounting that a 16 year-old’s brain is generally far less developed than those of teens just a little older — still relatively immature and continually experimenting with sensual arousal and risk.

The main issue with children driving is there are more distractions and peer pressure than ever. A child’s brain is worried about all kinds of temporary non-essential crap, including image and standing, and less concerned with the more serious consequences of life and death, especially of others they don’t personally know. Perhaps television and movies have desensitized today’s children from the injury and death of strangers, but that’s a whole separate argument.

There are laws in some jurisdictions that specify there should be no cell phone usage and no passengers until a certain point, which is a good start, but these rules are often broken or irrelevant. As soon as you’re not looking, teenagers alone with their friends in a vehicle will be joking, laughing, singing, rapping, scheming, drinking, and doing other things with the radio way too loud and not devoting their entire attention span to the hunk of metal surrounding them that, in a single instant, could change or end their lives. You were probably guilty of the same thing, but you got lucky. You probably didn’t have a smartphone, a GPS, or in-dash entertainment or navigation system to pull your eyes off the road.

There is a growing movement towards graduated drivers licenses, or GDLs. One of the limitations applied to GDLs is night driving. Finally, legislators have come to terms with the combined factors of immaturity and darkness causing a disproportionate amount of unfortunate incidents. A violation of the state law is considered a misdemeanor in most states, and the lack of teeth in these laws results in them being ignored by many teens and their parents.

Limiting driving is one of the most important things you can and should do for any teenage boy or girl. In most cases, there are alternatives to driving to get to school and work. Remember walking? How about bicycles? School busses serve most suburban districts. And most urban areas have public transportation too. I didn’t get my own vehicle until I was almost 19, and it didn’t kill me. Riding my bicycle about 3 miles each way to school was great exercise, and I remember it was an enjoyable way to start my day.

Nighttime driving is insanely dangerous for inexperienced and immature drivers. For their own protection, and for your own sanity, man up and offer to drop them off and pick them up until they’re at least 18. If their stupid friends give them a hard time, they’re hanging out with the wrong people. Tell them to find better friends.

Defensive driving courses are critically important to teach a new driver how to avoid potentially deadly situations. A certificate may qualify you for a discount on your insurance. Here are the best things I learned from my drivers’ ed class:

  • Just because the Speed Limit is 45 does not mean you need to travel exactly at that speed. Note the word “limit.” Contrary to popular belief, you could legally drive 43 MPH in that zone and still keep up with the flow of traffic.
  • There is a real area known as your “blind spot” along the side of your vehicle, where you cannot see another vehicle, or they cannot see you. Always double check before switching lanes or passing someone, especially if they’re in a truck.
  • Never assume people are always going to stop in time, move out of your way, or do the right thing. Everyone screws up and makes mistakes at one point or another.
  • Most importantly, if you’re stuck on a railroad crossing and a train is approaching, get the hell out of the car and run away. The train is not going to stop regardless of your calculations or how much you pray.

Remember, driving is a privilege. Since you’re probably paying for the car, gas, and insurance, and you’re ultimately financially liable for any teenage stupidity, you’re the boss. Don’t hesitate to take those keys away if chores aren’t done, in any case of disrespect towards you, or if something simply doesn’t feel right. You could end up saving lives.

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How NOT To Raise Children of Divorced Parents.

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In a perfect world, everyone would pair off and marry to their soulmate. Til death do us part wouldn’t be a Julia Roberts movie. Families would remain as cohesive units, always striving to protect and nourish each other. Children would have the benefit of parents acting as a united front for the best possible outcome.

But our world is far from perfect. More than half of those married get divorced. And many of those divorcees split custody of their offspring. I’ve done it twice. Once has already proved to be disastrous. And the second time looks like it’s heading down the same road. I’m not pointing any fingers. I’m only pointing out facts. If you’re divorced with kids, or thinking about it, use my misfortune as a lesson to avoid your own.

Before you judge me, know me. I’ve worked two or three jobs at a time since I was 16. I’m generous to a fault. I’m the person who elevates the needy, comforts the sick, and compliments the downtrodden. I’ve given blood a hundred times, provided days upon days to help others, and donated countless dollars to charity. I’ve never once asked for a single thing in return. Those of you who know me know I didn’t cause this mess. But I am guilty in-part in allowing it.

My daughter’s mother has a substance abuse problem. She has had this issue for as far back as I can remember. Being a clean-cut straight-A student and the son of immigrant parents, I was insanely naive and didn’t know the signs. She played me for quite a while. We had a child (I think it was mine – although she has mentioned twice in a fit of rage that it wasn’t), and I insisted on a shotgun wedding so our baby wouldn’t grow up shunned by society. Silly, I know. Shortly after we wed and moved in together, strange things began to happen – things I recognize now as the telltale signs of addiction. Chronic lies. Missing monies. Irrational behavior. It took me a couple months to figure it out. Before I had a chance to confront her, she threatened me with a knife when she discovered I changed the PIN to my debit card. I disarmed her and offered to talk. She went to the bedroom and called the police, telling them I was an intruder. With a fat cop’s foot on my head and my hands shackled in handcuffs on the front lawn with all the neighbors watching, I knew it was over.

I tried to be a great father. But offspring has been so poisoned by offspring’s mother that offspring believes it’s all my fault. The truth is I was blocked from attending every important event in her life. Either I wasn’t informed about the event, or the ex made a huge fuss if I showed up that made it uncomfortable for offspring, ruining it for everyone. Yeah, we’re talking complete sociopath. I’m going to write a book. I’ve already started.

Fast forward 20-some years. And guess who else developed a substance abuse problem? Only the offspring had decided to put needles in offspring’s arm. Offspring has almost died twice, or so I hear. Offspring is in some recovery program, and they forced offspring to come out of hiding and reach out to me as part of the recovery. Some crap called amends. I will do my part as best I can. It has not been pleasant for either of us. I am glad offspring is doing better, but that won’t make up for the countless years she cashed my birthday checks, accepted my gifts, and ignored me.

Let’s jump to today. My next offspring recently turned 16. Offspring #2’s mother (whom we’ll call Voldemort) decided she didn’t want to be married anymore when offspring was about 4. Voldemort had a horrible change of life soon after offspring was born and became a different person. Honestly, this was some Sybil crap. Even her parents remarked how strange she had become, to the point of wondering if she was a lesbian. We divorced, and made a deal to work together and never let anything affect our offspring negatively.

So much for that. She shitcanned that deal several years ago. The result? She’s buying  affection. I insist on working for things, because that’s how the world works. She gives him things for nothing. Which would you choose if you were 16? Exactly. My problem is this conflict is causing a serious fissure in the relationship between my offspring and I, and I am losing badly. I had this same exact feeling when my first kid hit this age, and you know how that worked out. Offspring #1’s mother did the same exact thing.

I could just suck it up and just give the kid everything for nothing. Shoot, I could do it better than Mom and start a war to buy my kid’s love. But here’s the thing. Buildings, towns, nations, and people – everything begins with a solid foundation. A child needs a solid foundation on which to build responsibility. I have always believed that. I have lived that. Do good in school. Get into a good college. Surround yourself with smart people. Develop options for yourself so you’re not pigeonholed into a job you’ll despise. Common sense, right?

Not according to Voldemort.

She grew up in a different world. On suburban Long Island 30 years ago, neighborhoods were filled with hard-working people. Neighbors still talked with each other. There was no social media. Everyone watched the same six or seven channels available on broadcast television. If you had cable, maybe you watched MTV too. You had to go to a library to look something up. Sure, there were clusters of bad kids, but they were more difficult to find. The ex was a nerdy bookworm with no friends. She kept to herself for the most part. And she did alright in life as a result.

What’s confusing AF is that she believes her offspring is her. She believes that offspring will keep the nose clean, do the right thing, and fall into some cushy job with little effort. Except – she wants offspring to be cooler than she was. Offspring was an online gamer, but she’d rather offspring went outside and tooled about on the $10,000 ridiculously jacked-up golf cart she bought. Although I offered several times to handle the entire shebang this year, she decided to spend $1,500 on school clothes so offspring would look cool. And now, offspring has figured out how to cheat from some of the “cool” kids he now hangs out with. Offspring copies test answers from some online thing and watches Netflix at school, chewing through our data plan. She doesn’t think that’s a problem (probably because I pay the cell phone bill). She got offspring a learners’ permit shortly after offspring turned 15. That’s where the poop hit the fan. I insisted on waiting until 17 or even 18, for many reasons we’ll discuss later. I was rudely overrode without so much as a conversation or even a single text.

Voldemort isn’t being a parent. She’s trying to be offspring’s best friend.

And now, because Voldemort had a job at a supermarket when she was 16, she wants offspring to work at the local supermarket so he can develop some “responsibility.” That’s my second no-no. School is your full-time job right now, kid. It should come first and foremost, before anything else in the universe. That foundation thing, remember? Look, there’s nothing wrong with working a job. But if you don’t really need to work for income at this point, why take an entry-level job sweeping floors when you could be dedicating those hours towards your own future?

She already f-ed me with the driving thing. Supposedly, the job is to pay for car insurance, so offspring can get to work. Well, here’s my point. If you don’t need to get to work, you don’t need car insurance. And whatever nonsense job you’re gonna get today probably isn’t going to cover the $400 a month car insurance is going to run for an inexperienced 16-year-old driver. You’re already in a hole. You’re working for nothing.

I was pretty much screwed already, so I needed an alternative plan to save the foundation. But it needed to address the damage already done by the enabler.  I thought and thought, and… eureka! I came up with a plan. Here’s the letter I sent.

I am pleased to offer you the part-time position of Assistant Social Media Manager. Your skills and experience will be an ideal fit for our client services department.
As we discussed, your starting date will be Monday, March 12, 2018. You would be scheduled for 10 hours per week, two hours per day every weekday, with all services performed at the company headquarters. The starting salary is $9 per hour and is paid on a bi-weekly basis. Direct deposit is available.

[Company] offers a flexible paid-time off plan which includes vacation, personal, and sick leave. Time off accrues at the rate of one day per month for your first year, then increases based on your tenure with the company.

Car insurance for a 16-year-old is over $5,000 – that is $400 a MONTH. And that’s with a spotless driving record. That’s ridiculous. You would be working simply to pay car insurance. That’s known as “spinning your wheels.” You use up a lot of energy and never get anywhere. You’ll be taking time away from your REAL job – which is SCHOOL. And for no good reason! I have done this. I don’t want you to do it too. Besides, you have a golf cart at your disposal. There is absolutely zero need for a license or a car right now. Car insurance would be a hideous waste of money.

Again, with this offer, I GUARANTEE transportation to and from dual-enrollment classes for the next two years. You can even drive my car with me in it – as long as you do NOT have your license. My insurance company will not allow you to drive our vehicles once you have your drivers license.

And – as a separate offer, if you get straight As during every semester in school during your junior and senior year (you must take any available honors, AP, or dual-enrollment classes), I will pay for a NEW car when you graduate high school. There are no exceptions however – B and Cs will not be tolerated or excused for any reason. YOU CAN DO THIS!

Remember, I don’t benefit from any of this. This is all about you, your personal development, your future, and your potential opportunities. This is one of the most selfless things anyone will EVER do for you.

In the interest of full disclosure, if you choose not to accept it, I will hire an outside intern and post this letter and its story on my parenting blog. Why? Because refusing this amazing offer would be among the biggest mistakes of your life. It’s a great story, and it may help other parents in a similar situation. There may also be other repercussions, including some dealing with Netflix and your cellphone. As much as I love you with all my heart, I don’t spin my wheels any longer. When you’ve lived a full life and made the mistakes I’ve made, you develop something called wisdom. You begin to know when you should keep fighting — and also when to give up.

There are a thousand kids who would give their left arm for an offer like this. I’d really rather have you. I think you’d be really good at this.

I waited a few days. Offspring thought about it. It really is a great offer. Offspring consulted with Voldemort. Sadly, offspring declined my offer. Said something about needing to develop real responsibility, and you can’t do that if you work for your dad. I called BS. Henry Ford Jr. worked for his father. Nelson Rockefeller worked for his father. The President of these United States worked for his father. Thousands of offspring eventually take over successful family businesses. Most of those peeps were pretty darn responsible. It was then I realized Voldemort’s poisonous spell was already fatal. It’s human nature to side with an enabler.

No ding meant against grocery stores, but any job where teens congregate can form long-lasting friendships. But more likely, they form detrimental collusions. Especially in retail positions. There’s always the troublemaker who will never do anything else with his or her life. He or she looks like fun, and becomes a confidant. And that confidant destroys whatever foundation you’ve tried to build. That’s exactly what happened to my oldest offspring’s mother. She was lean and clean and on the right path until she met Kim, the coke dealer’s girlfriend, at a shoe store in suburban Philadelphia. I fear my own offspring will meet a Kim too. That’s much less likely to happen if offspring wasn’t exposed to that opportunity because offspring was working closely with me.

You can’t control everything, but you can certainly control the potential for derailment.

I reached out to Voldemort one last time. Offered to put everything on the table and have a civil discussion for the best of the child. My request was summarily declined.

So I’m reaching out to you. Asking for ideas, because I’m fresh out.

Oh – and about teen driving. Here’s that tirade.
https://angryfather.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/why-teens-shouldnt-be-allowed-to-drive/

A Stepdad’s Ode to A Single Mother.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit, mothers will forever do a whole helluva lot more that fathers will in raising a child. Most fathers don’t give a crap about raising kids. I learned that cold, hard fact when my book, Diary of an Angry Father, failed miserably in its first release. Didn’t rank high in the evolutionary process I suppose. Ironically, I rewrote my book under a female pseudonym and a different title and it’s kicking ass. It’s the same damn book. Whatever.

What’s troubling is how unappreciated many single mothers really are. During the past decade, I’ve witnessed two teenage girls reach adulthood. They’re basically wonderful kids, but the mental abuse they’re inflicting on their mother is taking a horrendous toll. I’m sure her daughters cannot comprehend what they’re doing to her. So let me lay it the f*ck out for you, because I know you’re listening.

Although Child #1 pulled most of the same shit, child #2 is the worse offender. Once she turned 18, she must have magically blossomed into some full-grown, self-sufficient adult. She now comes and goes as she pleases, and conveniently forgets that Mom still stays up late awaiting her safe arrival home. When Mom asks about her whereabouts, she offers patronizing comments and few answers.

No, the world does not mysteriously change and bend around you upon your eighteenth trip around the sun. No, you are not smart enough, wise enough, or wealthy enough to live on your own. No, you are not mature enough to make smart decisions about things that will affect the rest of your life. That’s why eighteen still has the word TEEN in it. And guess what? So does nineTEEN. No matter how bad-ass you think you are, you’re still a goddamned child.

Little darlings, your mother is one of the finest, most generous, most caring and considerate human beings I have EVER met. You learn a whole lot about people after being in three wrecked marriages. I was incredibly cautious before asking her to be my fourth. She passed all my tests with flying colors. Ten years later, she still shines like a diamond. You have no idea how lucky you girls are. I have seen a perfect example of an awful mother. She’s so far gone that I now don’t expect the phone call telling me her now heroin-addicted daughter didn’t survive her last overdose. It truly breaks my heart, but I refuse to let it take me down too.

Mom made huge sacrifices you may never understand. Since today’s youth are lazy and don’t read anything except texts and Snap Chat messages, I’ll compartmentalize them for you in a few succinct bullet points.

  • She gave up her career for you. Mom decided against the career path that would have her in senior management right now. Why? She wanted to be there for you. Upward mobility requires a lot of travel.
  • She gave up her body for you. Every mom knows her body may never be the same after giving birth. Stretch marks, gained weight, and crazy hormones take a tremendous toll on some women. But she decided you were worth all that.
  • She gave up her happiness for you. Countless sleepless nights. Forgoing amazing vacation opportunities. Spending money on your tuition rather than massages and ritzy dinners. She always thought you were more important.
  • She’s giving up her health for you. It’s been medically proven that stress takes a horrible toll on your body. It creates high blood pressure, lower resistance, and ultimately a lower life span.

What’s most amazing is that she has absolutely no regrets. And I know she means that.

Children don’t realize that everyone has their limit. When you treat someone like shit for a long time, eventually, she’s gonna pop. And one day, when you figure out that you need Mom for something, she’s not going to come running. You’ll be on your own, Princess, and that’s gonna suck.

When she said “I love you to the moon and back,” she meant it. It’s your fault that distance now may only get you half-way across the block.

Stupid All-American Wastes of Time, Money, and Energy.

I made the mistake of watching and reading the news last weekend. I try to avoid it because it’s entirely depressing. Our current domestic issues are terribly embarrassing and troubling. But that’s not what gets me. It’s the constant barrage of shit that doesn’t matter. The promotion of time-wasting activities that do nothing good for society or its inhabitants. The prolonged delay of the maturation of our species from a rampant and wasteful adolescence to an enlightened populous that I am now convinced I will not see in my own lifetime.

We trust the shrinking number of supposedly free yet curiously well-funded news outlets to be the barometer of our society. Humans, by their very nature, are biased. And we always will be. And until we’ve become smart enough to develop a safe and unbiased artificial intelligence, humans will skew the readings of society’s barometer in a manner that benefits a particular person or a certain group. We have been conditioned not to ask questions and to blindly accept what we read and hear from those frighteningly powerful entities. Those who rise up and question authority are socially ridiculed and financially ruined.

Let’s begin with what is perhaps the single largest sexist atrocity against females — The Miss America pageant. We parade scantily clad women who have what we have been conditioned to see as attractive features and perfect bodies across a stage, completely ignoring intelligence and anything else that matters. Meanwhile, at home, the other 99% of the female population watches this spectacle on television. Most of that majority actually embraces and appreciates the contest and its lack of morals. A smaller percentage becomes depressed and rejected, realizing she can never aspire to the physical attributes of what the rest of the world considers beautiful. Beauty or lack thereof should be considered a form of discrimination. It’s obviously more subjective than someone’s gender or the color of of a woman’s skin, but I am sure we could come up with some sort of consensus. How liberating would that be for the other 99% of women worldwide?

Next, let’s take a look at Jeebus, or Yeebus, or whatever Kanye Omari West is calling himself today. The fact that an angry musician, if you can even call him a musician, who talks over a drum beat (I can’t call them “songs”) to offensive nonsense titled “Niggas in Paris” and yells at people in wheelchairs at his concerts is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 21 million albums, more than 60 million digital downloads, and earned over 20 Grammy Awards, is fucking disturbing. Where is the musical value in these songs? Keeby’s rhymes are monotone and devoid of emotion, and the words are barely cognizant. Apparently, none of that matters, because the national media and the recording industry’s association constantly lauds Mr. West with coverage and awards. And the consuming public has made him extremely wealthy. This is the new breed of hero we have engineered in our misguided society. This is what children aspire to become. Most will never make it. No worries, because the prison industrial complex will welcome their frustrated asses with open arms.

USA Today reports that the Blue Angels were scheduled to fly over Baltimore. The Blue Angels is the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron. Basically, six pilots fly six fighter jets in formation and do all kinds of aerial acrobatics to appease thousands of spectators who revel in the demonstration of military might. Although there are relatively few incidents, the practice is ridiculously dangerous. Twenty-six Blue Angels pilots have been killed in air show or training accidents. If that wasn’t wasteful enough, let’s consider the amount of time involved in planning these shows, money spent on modifying non-combat aircraft, salaries of support staff, benefits, marketing and advertising, transportation costs, and fuel costs that are expended that don’t do one damn thing in the defense of this great nation. I thought our government had finally come to its senses in 2013 when sequestration quashed these performances. But former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in his infinite wisdom, regards these shows as important for non-draft recruitment of underprivileged teenagers, so a “lite” version of the show was re-instituted in 2014.

Finally, as if a weekly schedule of 16 NFL football games weren’t enough, men who tend to avoid their wives and families on Sundays can now continue to do so during the rest of the week as they manage a fantasy football world. Fantasy football is an interactive online competition in which users compete against each other as general managers of virtual football teams built from the imaginary drafting of real players. Time that could be spent cooking, cleaning, learning, improving the house, parenting, bonding with children, or volunteering in the community is now unavailable because Mike is very busy playing with his imaginary fucking friends.

What the hell is happening here, my fellow Americans? I haven’t even broached the subject of the jobless losers who have the spare time to participate in reality television, not to mention the millions of women who follow those shows, and I am certainly hoping I don’t have to. How have we become such a placated, zombie-esque, and lazy society over the past fifty years? And what can we do to fix this idiocracy?

Thankless.

Parenting is the single most thankless job in the entire universe. I wish someone had told me this as a child. Maybe they did, but I was too much of a dick to listen. Who knows.

I tried to explain to my kid that good grades, decent standardized test scores, and demonstrated leadership are no longer enough for a white kid to get admitted to a decent college. College admission officers are now looking for you to stand out and be “interesting,” whatever the fuck that means. As I attempted to have an adult discussion about a number of ways my own son could be interesting, he informed me that he was “getting tired of standing here” and wanted to retreat back to his boy cave. Words lost to the universe. Ideas completely ignored. Heart completely shattered once again.

Then I thought about it. I understand why some women have kids. Inbred narcissistic tendencies create a need for attention. Society is trained to make an immense fuss over pregnant women. Then the kid grows up and repeatedly breaks Mom’s heart. For men, it’s much more simple – the male orgasm is our own form of narcissism. There is nothing in this world (that I’ve tried anyway) that feels as good as an orgasm. It’s addictive! I’m sure the male orgasm has some sort of correlation with an opioid high.

But, come on. Is all that fuss worth the pain?

I wondered why we couldn’t genetically engineer sex to feel like shit. What if every time a woman had sex, she’d become weak and puke for three days? Actually, I think my last wife used that excuse. How about us men – what if we came down with a case of acid diarrhea that burned the rim of our sphincters every time we came? Nasty, right? Or worse yet, what if we just died after the orgasm? This way, if you wanted to have sex (or children), you’d really have to suffer to prove it. Talk about a deterrent… there’d never be a case of rape again.

I’ve prayed for this change, but God and I aren’t on the same page lately. Now I’m heading to my bio-engineering friends. Eight billion people are way too many – especially when 60 million zombies voted for a man like Trump to lead the “free world.” And they’re still supporting that idiot. And they’re still having kids. I can’t imagine those parents feel any less thankless – or they just don’t care.

So I’m a “podcaster” now.

DAFHEAD

I withheld. For YEARS. I mean, I’m a busy guy. Three businesses and a family. I ain’t got time for no parenting podcast! It took me months to finish the Diary of an Angry Father audiobook. I sure as hell didn’t want to do that again.

But then this guy at WDN tells me about a similar guy and his potential reach, and how many other fathers and mothers my words of wisdom might help, and… whatever. I’ve probably been snookered again.

But I did it. And it’s hot. It’s bad-ass. It’s honest. It’s snarky. It’s real. It’s me. And it’s here:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/parenting-angryfather/2017/07/25/top-10-jobs-for-potheads

We air twice a week, at noon on Tuesday and Friday. But supposedly, you can download a podcast and listen to it whenever you want, so I suppose that’s a plus. Please listen, download, like, favorite, idolize, or do whatever it is people do with podcasts. Share it with someone you love. Or hate. Thanks again for your support.

-MG

Top 5 Documentaries To Save Your Life.

When I embarked on my search for truth in everything, I thought a good place to begin was with what I put in my mouth. Yeah, yeah, heard that one before, jackass. My cholesterol was high. My heart began to do strange things. And I was beginning to look like I was pregnant with a “food baby.” Not a good look for anyone. Before I committed to a lifelong date with statins, I decided I was going to see if there was another way to get healthy instead of masking my symptoms.

That research changed my life. My cholesterol is down. My heart is behaving. And I delivered my food baby through my ass. It’s not there any longer. My physician was blown away. Of course she was – medical school all but ignores nutrition, despite Hippocrates’ famous quote: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Like me, you might have a difficult time starting out in your research. I mean, come on – we’re Americans. It’s not cool to sit in a library or write research papers, right? A great place to begin is on your fat ass, on your comfy couch, armed with a remote control and the cheapest Netflix account you can afford. See them in this order if you have a choice.

1. Supersize Me (2004, Morgan Spurlock)

Oscar-nominated Morgan Spurlock endeavors to use his own body as a human guinea pig in a dangerous game of supersizing. Supersize Me follows a 30-day period from during which he ate only McDonald’s food. The film documents this lifestyle’s drastic effect on Spurlock’s physical and psychological well-being, and explores the fast food industry’s corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit. As a result, the then-32-year-old Spurlock gained 24 pounds; increased his cholesterol to 230 mg/dL; and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and fat accumulation in his liver. It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose the weight gained from his experiment using a vegan diet supervised by his then-girlfriend, a chef who specializes in gourmet vegan dishes. This is a terrific place to begin your own journey to healthy living. It’s what got me started.

2. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (2010, Joe Cross)

100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310 pound man with one foot already in the grave. With doctors and conventional medicines unable to help long-term, Joe turns to the only option left, the body’s ability to heal itself. He trades in the junk food and hits the road with juicer and generator in tow, vowing only to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for the next 60 days. Across 3,000 miles Joe has one goal in mind: To get off his pills and achieve a balanced lifestyle. At a truck stop in Arizona, Joe meets a truck driver who suffers from the same rare condition. Phil Staples is morbidly obese weighing in at 429 lbs. As Joe is recovering his health, Phil begins his own epic journey to get well. This is step two towards believing food is the cure.

3. Food, Inc. (2008, Robert Kenner)

This documentary addresses the issue of corporate farming in America—and as you’ll find out, it’s a very big problem to tackle. TThe film’s first segment examines the industrial production of meat (chicken, beef, and pork), calling it inhumane and economically and environmentally unsustainable. The second looks at the industrial production of grains and vegetables, again labeling this economically and environmentally unsustainable. The film’s final segment is about the economic and legal power, such as food labeling regulations, the heavy use of petroleum-based chemicals in pesticides and fertilizers, and the promotion of unhealthy food consumption habits by the American public. This film will begin to introduce you to the American food business game.

4. Forks Over Knives (2011, Lee Fulkerson)

What has happened to us? Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure. Two out of every three of us are overweight. Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population. About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug. Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels. Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. A top surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, found that many of the diseases he routinely treated were virtually unknown in parts of the world where animal-based foods were rarely consumed. You’ll begin to see that we are what we eat.

5. Food Matters (2008, James Colquhoun)

Food Matters is a 2008 film about nutrition. The filmmakers interviewed several world leaders in nutrition and natural healing who claim that not only are we harming our bodies with improper nutrition, but that the right kind of foods, supplements and detoxification can be used to treat chronic illnesses as fatal as terminally diagnosed cancer. It tends to label the medical industry as a “sickness industry,” which profits more from treating the symptoms of illness than curing.

This is just the beginning. There are many more documentaries that all seem to spread the same message. Makes you wonder. Made me healthier.