What I’ve Ben thinking about today…

1.Alex Rodriguez needs a reality check. Or at least needs to stop expecting us to live in his.
2.You’re already taking pictures of what you eat and drink…now you can get paid for it.
3.Now you can (literally) see if you live in a ‘state’ of happiness.

1. The hammer finally fell on A-Rod – 211 games. Suspended through the end of the 2014 season. So naturally he was in the Yankees line-up last night. That’s right – he made his 2013 debut the same day he was suspended.

Of course he is appealing it so he can play. But before he took the field he conducted a press conference where he called the last seven months a nightmare. In those last seven months he went through rehab for a hip surgery. Faced allegations that he is involved in the Biogenesis case. And made $16M. Yes – $16 million. Which makes his press conference and how this whole thing has unfolded disgusting. As fans we have to watch this ridiculousness, with lawyers getting involved and tying up the process so a guilty party can get on the field and play. And that guilty party, who wants so desperately to be a good example for kids and younger players, doesn’t know how to tell the truth.

When asked if he denied using performance-enhancing drugs, he said: “We’ll have a forum to discuss all of that and we’ll talk about it then.” What does that even mean? Does that mean no? Yes? Maybe? That sounds like an answer I give my three-year-old when she asks if we can go chase a rainbow.

And A-Rod, who has made a career out of looking out for number one continues to do so. This is a guy who has made more than $350M for his career. Of course he’s going to do everything he can to protect that and keep earning. And if that’s a decision he’s made, so be it. But don’t act surprised or offended when you get caught. And don’t act like all of us baseball fans (Yankee fan and non-Yankee fans alike) are three-year-olds, waiting to be blessed with your answers, when you decide it’s time to give them. You would think these guys would learn from Lance Armstrong’s mistakes. Kind of reminds me of another professional athlete who was accused of steroids but never convicted.

2. 45 million photos a day are shared on Instagram. Many of them are of what you’re eating. And now it pays to take pictures of your food. Have you seen this SnapMyAd? I just learned about it – it’s a free app that works with your Instagram account. You sign in and find out what brands are offering rewards for snapping pictures of their product. And…your picture could be used in a future ad for that product or brand.

But does it work? Well, according to Mashable, “since its May launch, the app has more than 1,000 downloads, and 2,000 pictures submitted. The service doesn’t have in-app ads, nor do they sell user data to third-parties.”

This seems like a no-brainer. Thing about all the brands you take pictures of – from your favorite beverage, shoe, clothes, restaurant…you’re already doing it. Might as well get paid for it. Will you do it?

3. You’ve heard of the Bible belt. The snow belt. The sun belt. How about the ‘Sadness belt’, made up of states in the South with high levels of poverty and short life expectancies? Thanks to twitter (and some researchers) you can now see how happy (or sad) we are, by state.

Researchers at the University of Vermont scored more than 10,000 words on a positive-negative scale and measured their frequency in millions of tweets across the country, deliberately ignoring context to eliminate experimental bias. The result was this map/infographic showing the United States of Happiness.

Hawaii is the happiest, Louisiana the saddest. Ohio is in the lower half, probably because of the Browns, scoring a 5.95 on the Life Satisfaction Index (the United States is at a 7, as a whole).

(Photo source: Sarah Cucciarre)

I personally disagree as I love ya, O-H-I-O…our state has a little something for everyone, has a massive chip on its shoulder and is home to some of the best beers, wines and food around. (I think we just need to tweet more about it.)