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Health

19 musicals that are not only catchy—they could help with dementia, according to science

Back in 2013, researchers in the U.S. stumbled upon a novel new treatment for dementia patients: listening to show tunes. Seriously.

musicals, theater, art, dementia, treatments
Photo by Jordhan Madec on Unsplash

A picture taken of the Broadway street sign in New York City.

Back in 2013, researchers in the U.S. stumbled upon a novel new treatment for dementia patients: listening to show tunes. Seriously.

A study of nursing home patients found that residents who sang show tunes — specifically from "Oklahoma!" "The Wizard of Oz," and "The Sound of Music" — demonstrated increased mental performance, according to a report in the New York Daily News:

"Researchers working with elderly residents at an East Coast care home found in a four-month long study ... that people who sang their favorite songs showed a marked improvement compared to those who just listened."

A similar study in Finland, cited in The Guardian, demonstrated that singing not only helped dementia patients feel better and focus, but actually improved certain types of memory as well.

Even better? There are tons of classic show tunes specifically about remembering.

Here are 23 tunes every Broadway fan needs to memorize for the day when it's not so easy to remember. It'll help to start brushing up now.

1. The one about remembering the good old days.

"Those Were the Good Old Days," "Damn Yankees"

If you're the devil in "Damn Yankees," that means the Great Depression, the Black Plague years, and when Jack the Ripper was running around. Good times!

2. The one about remembering a parade that probably never happened.

Any playlist of show tunes about memory has to include this standard from "The Music Man," in which Professor Harold Hill remembers the best day of his life, when "Gilmore, Liberati, Pat Conway, The Great Creatore, W.C. Handy, and John Phillip Sousa all came to town."

Whether or not any of it actually happened is ... up for debate, to put it mildly.

3. The one about remembering a really fun trip you took to a medium-sized Midwestern city.

"Kansas City," "Oklahoma"

"Oklahoma's" Will Parker is so psyched about his Kansas City vacation he can't help bragging about it to all the other cowboys. And why not? It's a neat city! Have you been to Joe's Kansas City Barbecue? Neither has Will Parker, since he was there in 1906, but you should totally go.

4. The one about remembering how fun it was to murder that guy that one time...

"Cell Block Tango," "Chicago"

...while glancing nervously over your shoulder to make sure Queen Latifah isn't around.

5. The one about remembering the questionable choices it's too late to go back in time and not make.

"Where Did We Go Right?" from "The Producers"

Looking back doesn't always go well for characters in musicals. It definitely doesn't for "The Producers'" Bialystock and Bloom, as they tear around their office wondering how their incompetently directed, poorly acted, aggressively pro-Hitler musical wound up becoming a massive hit despite their every attempt to make it fail.

6. The one about remembering the little things.

"I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It," "Phantom of the Opera"

Perhaps the greatest testament to how emotionally transporting "Phantom of the Opera" is: Christine, removing the phantom's mask for the first time, can just straight-up claim to remember mistlike, one mist in particular — and no one calls her on it ever.

7. The one about remembering the worst day of your life.

"The Barber and his Wife," "Sweeney Todd"

No character in musical theater is more nostalgic than Sweeney Todd, who, just moments after we meet him, croons this delightful ditty reminiscing about the time he was framed for a crime he didn't commit and banished from England so that an evil judge could rape his wife who subsequently poisoned herself.

A tune you can hum!

8. The one about remembering things differently than everyone else around you.

"Satisfied," "Hamilton"

Not sure if you've heard, but "Hamilton" is good, you guys.

After Alex and Eliza Schuyler meet and fall in love in "Helpless," Angelica Schuyler basically goes "Wicked" on her sister's song, recalling how agonizing it was watching her sister and the man who she herself is super into get together. But she sucks it up and buries it! Older siblings are the best.

9. The one about remembering that cute girl you just met like five seconds ago.

"Maria," "West Side Story"

A classic from "West Side Story." Sure, it's about remembering a meet-cute that literally just happened — Tony and Maria's orchestral-swell-assisted gaze across a crowded gym — but Tony is super jazzed about it, so it makes the list.

Gosh, I sure hope those crazy kids work out!

10. The one about remembering all the worst things from when you were a kid, and one kind-of-OK thing.

"At the Ballet," "A Chorus Line"

The ballet isn't that great, but it's better than devastating childhood trauma. Score one for the ballet! Thanks, "A Chorus Line!"

11. The one about remembering old hobbies.

"Dentist!" from "Little Shop of Horrors"

"Little Shop of Horrors'" Orin Scrivello, DDS, is just misunderstood. I mean, who among us didn't "shoot puppies," "poison guppies," or "take a pussycat and bash in its head" now and again as a kid? The '50s were a simpler time!

12. The one about remembering watching a dude die on the battlefield and feeling feelings about it.

"Momma Look Sharp," "1776"

47 years before "Hamilton" brought us the swaggery, ass-kicking side of the Revolutionary War, "1776" tore our guts out with this song, in which a courier to the Continental Congress recalls watching a mother comfort a young soldier as he dies at the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Hercules Mulligan does the guest rap. (Just kidding. There is no guest rap. It's just gorgeously somber for a while and then over.)

13. The one about remembering the best four years of your life.

"I Wish I Could Go Back to College," "Avenue Q"

Of course the sad-sack puppet man- and woman-children of "Avenue Q" want to go back to college! Who among us doesn't long for the days of term papers, humiliating romantic encounters, and crushing, debilitating debt? And meal-plan ice cream, too!

14. The one about remembering some A-plus advice from your best friend.

"Cabaret," "Cabaret"

Ladies and gentlemen, Sally Bowles from "Cabaret" is no fool! No matter how many lovers leave, or how much her career nosedives, or how nutty local politics get, she always remembers this important life lesson she learned from her good friend Elsie.

If only you had such a great, wise friend, maybe your outlook would be as good as Sally's. You could be so lucky!

15. The one about remembering last Christmas.

"Halloween," "Rent"

When it comes to the science of memory and cognition, "Rent" asks the big questions:

"Why are entire years strewn on the cutting room floor of memories? When single frames from one magic night forever flicker in close-up on the 3-D Imax of my mind?"

Poetic? Pathetic? We report, you decide.

16. The one about remembering everything and realizing how terrible it all was.

"Rose's Turn," "Gypsy"

Ah, yes. "Rose's Turn." The 11 o'clock number to end all 11 o'clock numbers in "Gypsy," the most musical of all musicals. Truly, there aren't many things more enjoyable than listening to Mama Rose replay the events of the last decade and change inside her own brain in a slow-motion nervous breakdown as the notion that her entire life has been completely worthless gradually dawns on her with ever-increasing dread.

Did I mention how fun musicals are?

Trivia time! You know that thing in music where trumpets go, "Ya da da da daaaa DA. Da DA da DA!" You know that thing? This is the song that thing comes from.

17. The one about remembering the first time you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up.

"Ring of Keys," "Fun Home"

There's nothing better than a song that makes you want to shout: "I am so glad I'm watching a musical instead of a basketball game right now." This moment in "Fun Home," where Alison recalls seeing a delivery woman — the first person who looked like the woman she felt like — is really, really one of them.

"This is a song of identification that is a turning moment, when you think you’re an alien and you hear someone else say, 'Oh, me too,'" composer Jeanine Tesori told Variety. "It’s a gamechanger for Alison. And that’s just Musical Theater 101."

...And the entire audience bursts into happy tears forever.

18. The one about remembering a nice dream you dreamed.

"I Dreamed a Dream," "Les Misérables"

When your life isn't going so great, it's good to remember the positive! Things didn't exactly go super well for Fantine in "Les Mis." But, hey, she had a pretty good dream once!

19. The one about remembering your single greatest regret and vowing to never remember it again.

"Turn It Off," "The Book of Mormon"

What's the ticket to living as fun-loving and guilelessly as the Mormon elders in "The Book of Mormon?" Don't just bury those traumatic, scary, impure memories — CRUSH THEM, OK?!

20. The one about remembering a really successful first date.

"Sarah Brown Eyes," "Ragtime"

Ah, young love. Even in "Ragtime," a musical that features racism, state violence, attempted child murder, and terrorism, at least we have this song, in which Coalhouse Walker Jr. recalls how he got his beloved Sarah to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with him with his peerless piano skills? So romantic.

Gosh, I sure hope those crazy kids work out!

21. The one about remembering a scary dream.

"Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat," "Guys and Dolls"

With, perhaps, only a smidge more credibility than grifter-from-another-mother Professor Harold Hill, "Guys and Dolls'" third-most-degenerate gambler Nicely-Nicely Johnson recalls a terrifying dream where he had to convince a group of skeptical evangelical crusaders that he's decided to give up the dice once and for all.

Side note: People in musicals are unbelievably good at remembering dreams. This is, like, full detail. I'd be like, "Um, I was at the Statue of Liberty, and you were there? I think? It wasn't really you, it was like a combination of you and my dad. And we were in prison. But at the Statue of Liberty."

22. The one about remembering how it used to be when you were young and full of hope instead of old and bitter and jaded.

"Our Time," "Merrily We Roll Along"

The closing number of "Merrily We Roll Along" is actually the first chronologically, since the musical goes backward. It's the play's happiest moment — Frank, Charley, and Mary on a roof watching Sputnik go by, giddily talking about how thrilling, perfect, and successful their futures are going to be. It's so hopeful! But so sad, 'cause you already know all the achingly bittersweet stuff that's going to happen.

Ach! So poignant! I'm dead from poignant.

23. The one about remembering.

"Memory," "Cats"

"Cats." The OG.

All right team, what did I miss?

This article originally appeared on 02.26.16

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

@skylerleestutzman/TikTok

People were shocked to find out how much Skyler Stutzman earned as a UPS driver

People are seriously considering switching careers after finding out how much can be made as a UPS delivery driver.

Back in October, Skyler Stutzman, an Oregon-based UPS delivery driver went viral after sharing his weekly pay stub on TikTok.

In the clip, Stutzman showed that for 42 hours of work, and at a pay rate of $44.26 per hour, he earned $2,004 before taxes, and ultimately took home $1,300 after deductions.

This both shocked the nearly 12 million viewers who saw the video…not to mention it stirred their jealousy a bit.


Several couldn’t help but compare Stutzman’s salary to their own—especially those in professions requiring degrees and certifications.

“Not me realizing that a UPS driver makes more than I do. 20 years in my field with a degree!” one person lamented.

Another added, “$44? I’m a dang nurse only making $32 🤦♀️”

@skylerleestutzman UPS Driver Paystub Breakdown… #upspay #upswages #teamsters #ups ♬ original sound - Skyler Stutzman

Many even joked (or perhaps half-joked) about applying to become drivers themselves. But as Stutzman pointed out in multiple follow-up videos, earning his rate takes patience.


According to one of those clips, it took almost six years before he was offered a full time position, followed by a four year progression of wage increases until he started earning what he earns today. That’s around a decade, which one person pointed out was around the same time it takes to become a doctor.

Stutzman added that, depending on the location, you would be required to work in a UPS warehouse before working as a driver. So while his paycheck might have you considering taking on the job yourself, just know that it’s not exactly taking the easy route. And we haven’t even touched on the amount of manual labor that goes into the job…rain or shine.

Stutzman also said that he shared his current paycheck in the spirit of transparency, which is a value that the teamsters upheld as they fought for increased wages and better working conditions earlier this year.

@skylerleestutzman Here are my THEORETICAL thoughts… “Why would you show your paystub like that?” #upsdriver #ups #upswages #teamster #upspay ♬ original sound - Skyler Stutzman

After months of tense negotiations, as well as a threat to enact what would have been the largest single employer strike in U.S. history, disrupting deliveries across the country, the postal workers union reached an agreement with UPS.

The deal included air conditioning and ventilation improvements to delivery vehicles as well as full-time UPS drivers earning an average of $170,000 in annual pay, plus benefits. By the end of the contract, part-time union drivers would also make at least $25.75 per hour while receiving full health care and pension benefits,” according to UPS CEO Carol Tomé.

From Stutzman’s perspective, his earnings shouldn’t cause envy among those in other industries, but reflect a shared need for increased wages across the board to keep up with inflation.

Big takeaways here: earning good money doesn’t always require a degree, unions are powerful, don’t underestimate the value of skilled labor…and UPS drivers deserve respect.


This article originally appeared on 12.12.23

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Health

Research shows that spicy foods may help you live longer

Breakthrough research is great news for buffalo wing addicts.

Chicken wings at Anchor Bar in Buffalo-Niagara Airport.

There's an arms race happening at your local wing joint. According to QSR, it's because Americans have strayed from eating traditional fare and are embracing spicier ethnic foods such as Mexican and Asian cuisine.

A 2013 Consumer Flavor Trend Report found that a majority of Americans (54 percent) prefer hot or spicy foods, including sauces, condiments, and dips, compared with 48 percent in 2011 and 46 percent in 2009. Now, a new report out of China shows that this new trend in American eating habits could prolong our life spans.


Researchers discovered the connection between spicy food and longevity after studying the results of a survey of 500,000 Chinese people taken from 2004 to 2008. The survey asked people about their dietary habits, including the amount of chili they consumed on a weekly basis. When researchers checked back in with respondents seven years later, those who consumed spicy foods once a week had a 10 percent lesser chance of death. And those who ate spicy foods three to seven times a week had a 14 percent lesser chance of death.

"We know something about the beneficial effects of spicy foods basically from animal studies and very small-sized human studies," Lu Qi, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Time. Studies have shown that capsaicin, the active ingredient in spicy foods, is linked to a lower risk of cancer as well as heart and respiratory diseases. It also has a positive effect on metabolism, weight, and gut bacteria.

"It appears that increasing your intake moderately, just to one to two or three to five times a week, shows a very similar protective effect," Qi said. "Just increase moderately. That's maybe enough." So, if you want an extra dab of Tabasco on your tacos, go for it. But you might not want to eat a dozen fried, greasy buffalo wings every night—that will probably cancel out the positive effects of the chili.

This article originally appeared on 09.19.17

Joy

6 states where the minimum wage and cost of living offer the best bang for your buck

The highest state minimum wage in the U.S. is now $16.28 per hour, but some cities are even higher.

State minimum wages range from $7.25/hr to $17.00/hr in 2024.

Public discourse about minimum wage and living wages has been ongoing for years, with people debating whether the government should mandate a minimum hourly pay for workers.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first federal minimum wage law in 1938, setting the lowest wage a worker could be paid at 25 cents per hour. Nearly a century later, the federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr, holding steady since 2009, with people lobbying to raise it to at least $15/hr for over a decade. However, in addition to federal law, each state has its own laws, a handful of which establish a state minimum wage higher than $15, a handful of which don't have a set minimum wage at all and everything in between.

Cost of living has also been a hot topic as inflation has squeezed everyone's wallets and certain cities and states have become utterly unaffordable, especially for people in low-wage jobs or who who are just starting out in their careers. So how do minimum wage and cost of living correlate state-by-state? Are there any sweet spots with a high(er) minimum wage and low(er) cost of living?


While there’s no perfect storm of super low cost of living and super high minimum wage—for instance, Washington, D.C. has the highest state minimum wage at $17/hr, but housing costs 140% more than the national average—there are some states where the ratio is far more favorable than others. According to Insider Monkey, here are the top six states where you can get the most bang for your minimum wage buck.

6. New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment offers a relatively decent living for its $12/hr minimum wage thanks to the state's below average cost of living. According to Rent Cafe, housing in New Mexico is 8% lower than the national average, monthly utilities are 9% lower, food is 4% lower, transportation is 3% lower and healthcare, goods and services are 2% lower.

According to Smart Asset, Albuquerque, New Mexico ranks as No. 10 in U.S. cities where minimum wage goes the furthest.

5. New Jersey

The Garden State's relatively higher-than-average cost of living is counteracted by relatively solid minimum wage of $14.13/hr. Most of the cost of living in New Jersey is wrapped up in housing, which is 30% higher than the national average, according to Rent Cafe, and utilities, which are 12% higher. Goods and services are 5% higher, but healthcare is 2% lower than the national average. Food and transportation are 1% and 2% higher, respectively.

4. Connecticut

With both a cost of living and minimum wage slightly higher than New Jersey, Connecticut rolls in at No. 4 with a $15/hr minimum wage. Where the Constitution State hits hardest is in utilities, which Rent Cafe places at 30% higher than the national average, and housing, which is 24% higher. Healthcare and goods and services are both 9% higher, while transportation and food are just 1% and 2% above average.

3. Missouri

The Show-Me State says, "Show me the money!" with its somewhat respectable $12/hr minimum wage, which goes pretty far with its relatively low cost of living. Housing is the biggest cost benefit Missouri offers at 18% lower than the national average. But utilities, food, healthcare, and goods and services are also all below average, with only transportation landing right at the national average.

Additionally, St. Louis clocked in at No. 5 for a minimum wage real-world value of $13.68 when adjusting for the city's lower-than-average cost of living.

2. Washington

With the highest state minimum wage in the nation (unless you count Washington, D.C.), Washington's $16.48/hr puts it in second place when accounting for cost of living. Make no mistake, Washington isn't cheap overall, with a cost of living 15% higher than the national average. Housing and transportation hit hard at 29% and 27% higher than the national average, respectively. Healthcare is pricey as well at 20% higher than average. Food costs 12% more, but utilities clock in at 7% less than the national average.

Two cities in Washington hit the top 15 for highest real minimum wage value, though, with Seattle at No. 13 and Spokane at No. 2.

map of united states with these states highlighted in green: Washington, New Mexico, Missouri, Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut

These six states offer the best minimum wage to cost of living ratio.

Created with mapchart.net

1. Illinois

If you want the best bang for your minimum wage buck, head to the Prairie State with its $13/hr minimum wage and 8% lower than average cost of living. Housing in Illinois is 22% lower than average and utilities are 10% lower. The only expense that comes in higher than average for Illinois is transportation at 3% above average, which isn't enough to keep it out of the top spot.

However, there are some minimum wage sweet spots in certain U.S. cities that aren't reflected in these state rankings. According to Smart Asset, Denver, CO, is the city where minimum wage goes the farthest in the nation. Colorado comes in at a respectable 7th place in state minimum-wage-to-cost-of-living ratio, but Denver has its own mandatory minimum wage of $18.29/hr.

A citywide minimum wage is part of what puts Seattle at the No. 13 spot on that same list. Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S., but its $19.97 minimum wage for most workers changes the ratio in its favor.

Other cities in the top 10 include Buffalo, NY; Minneapolis, MN; Tucson, AZ; St. Paul, MN; Phoenix, AZ and Stockton, CA.

The minimum wage conversation may vary widely across the U.S., with different costs of living and different state laws on the books. But if you're looking to move someplace where your wage will go the furthest, these six states will likely be your best bet to check out first.

Joy

Weird jobs most people don't even know exist that can actually make good money

There's a person who's whole job is just to take care of plants on movie and TV sets.

There are people who make a living smelling and tasting things.

When people ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, some common career themes usually emerge—doctor, firefighter, teacher, artist, computer programmer, architect, pilot, journalist and the like. These jobs are familiar to everyone, and even if we don't fully know the ins and out of what each job entails, we have a solid picture of what they do and why their job is important.

There are also less obvious jobs that we might not think of as dream careers but still know exist and are important, like mortician, plumber, garbage collector, truck driver or postal delivery person.

But there's also a whole world of jobs that most people have never heard of or even imagined—and some of them even pay surprisingly well. Here's a handful of weird jobs that people do without most of the world knowing.


Escort (but not that kind of escort)

The movies make much of "escorts" in our nation's capital, but this is a different kind of escort that involves having security clearance and being physically present. That's it.

"When you work as a government employee or contractor with a top secret clearance, after you retire or get laid off, you can work as an escort within classified facilities called SCIFs. Escorts are needed when an uncleared person needs to work in the SCIF. For example, it might be a top secret data center that needs an air conditioner repair. All the escort has to do is watch the repairman and stay with them throughout the visit. They usually just drag a chair over and sit there while getting paid damn good money." – BaconReceptacle

"One of the most quietly-frustrating months of my life was doing hard labor on a government building site as a construction worker, going like ~80 hours a week, and realizing the annoying escort I had who was sitting around all day watching us was making a significant amount more than me." – Few-Metal8010

Tasters and smellers

Some people get paid just to taste or smell things. Even pet food. (How does one get this job? Genuinely curious.)

"I used to be friends with one of Heineken's official tasters. She literally drank every day for work. Don't know how the pay was but she didn't seem broke." – curiousvegetables

"My sister in law is 'the nose' for yankee candle. When a vat of scented wax is ready, she sniffs it." – Loreo1964

"My mom used to work for a sensory company that was outsourced by huge brands to do taste, smell, texture testing. Once many years ago I got in on a hot pocket panel because their target market was teens. I made $20 and got a free hot pocket. She made good money though!" – brownbostonterrier


woman hanging a piece of art

Hanging art is an art in itself.

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Professional picture hanger

Yep, the thing all of us do in our own homes for free (with varying levels of success) is an actual paid job for people in the art world. And some of them can make a pretty decent living at it.

"An old neighbor of mine was a picture hanging specialist contracted by many museums. He made 75K a year at the time (about 150K adjusted for inflation)." – Schwarzes__Loch

"A buddy of mine does this and makes great money. Most of the clients are rich people with private collections. They also pack and transport the artwork." – frankyseven

Flavorists

On the other end of the food business are the magical chemists who create the yummy flavors we enjoy in candies and other treats.

"My dad was a master flavorist. He made artificial flavors for candy, beverages and lots of other things. He made a LOT of money during his career." – Whoru87

"I'm an analytical chemist for a flavor company who (among other things) reverse engineers competitive flavors to give the flavor chemists insight lol.

Indeed they make bank.

Finding out how you can make a naturally derived ie citrus flavor taste the same every time when you have to source your extracts and oils from different places in the world, at different times of the year, while the stock might be a different age due to supply issues can be a lot more complex than one might think." – die_lahn

"It is my absolute dream job to be a certified flavor chemist/flavorist. Used to work under a couple at a very niche company (could only make fruit/menthol flavors), and recently moved into food industry thinking I’d be able to gain more experience in savory applications. Unfortunately that has not been the case for me so far. Wish they had more flavor houses hiring in Norcal! Learning directly under an expert is the only way to do it." – Successful-Ad5488


set of hobbiton from lord of the rings

Someone has to keep the plants on set thriving.

Photo by Neha Godbole on Unsplash

Greensperson on film sets

There are actually a lot of jobs on film sets that people aren't aware of, but taking care of plants on sets full time is certainly not on most people's radar.

"I’m a greensperson in the film industry. I’m responsible for building and maintaining the plants and trees on a set." – Prospector_Steve

"In general many people sleep on behind the scenes jobs in Hollywood. It’s a good way to make money and you get to meet celebrities." – Immediate_Revenue_90

"A lot of filming locations are chosen based on the tax breaks the studio can get for filming there, and not on the 'correct' climate or biome. And sometimes, an outdoor scene will be shot on an indoor stage if an appropriate location can't be found which is safe, accessible, meets the needs of the camera positioning, etc.

A film/TV production is a massive, expensive machine, and often small details have to be sacrificed in order to keep it oiled and running smoothly. This isn't just true of the greens department, but all of them, really (costumes, props, etc.)" – ethacct

Organ runner

More commonly known as a "medical courier," this job entails transporting human organs (or tissue or blood) from place to place. Time is of the essence with an organ being transplanted, so this job requires being on call and knowing how to safely transport the goods. But according to at least one person on Reddit, it's a pretty sweet gig:

"I worked as an 'Organ deliverer.' Forgot the official title for around a year.

Job was simple I was stationed in the biggest hospital in my state. If an organ donation was received that needed to go to another hospital for a transplant it was my job to move it.

I was paid $40 an hour to most nights sit on my ass in the break room and watch TV or play on my phone. I'd probably only have to deliver something once a week at most. It was an okay job except that it was boring as shit, since the hospital I was 'Stationed' at did 95% of all the organ transplants in my state. And the other major hospital that did them was around 3 hours away and you wouldn't ever have to go up to north to it.

Lots of pay to sit around but well I wasn't exactly feeling fulfilled career wise." – Larcya

bats flying

Bat tracking (and other urban wildlife tracking) is an important ecological job.

Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash

Batman (or urban bat tracker, to be precise)

This might be the most poetic job description ever written:

"You ever heard of an urban bat tracker? That's me. I'm the guy who steps into the night when the city sleeps, tracking the unseen ballet of bats against the backdrop of empty offices and starlit skies. My job is a blend of science and solitude. Armed with detectors that translate bat echolocation into something audible, I map their flight, study their behavior, and contribute to research that's vital for urban ecosystem conservation. It's not just a job it's a commitment to understanding these misunderstood creatures of the night. The experience is surreal. As the world winds down, my work begins. I walk through parks and alleyways, under bridges and alongside rivers. The citys nocturnal pulse becomes my soundtrack - a car horn here, a distant laughter there, all underlined by the constant, rhythmic clicking of my bat detector. Each night is a lesson in patience and awe. Bats, these tiny, agile creatures, dart and dive in the darkness, almost like shadows flitting at the edge of my vision. There's a poetry in their flight, a kind of silent music that fills the night air. The pay is decetn, surprisingly. It's a niche field, and expertise in urban wildlife ecology can be hard to come by. But it's not the money that keeps me here. It's the moments of connection, the feeling of being a part of something bigger and wilder, right in the heart of the city. Sometimes the most extraordinary things are hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered in the quiet symphony of the night." – Local_dog91

There are so many more interesting jobs, from testing medical equipment to felting mini-golf courses to taking care of rich people's cars, homes and horses. If you're looking for work, keep your eyes and ears out for unusual opportunities. You just never know what kinds of careers you might stumble into.

Science

When these drones zoom in over elephants and rhinos, they stop horrible things from happening

A shepherd watches over sheep. Watching over elephants and rhinos? Not so easy.

via The Lindbergh Foundation

Drone footage from the Aerial Shepherd.


This is a story about something really exciting.

Before I get into it, let me set the stage by explaining the terrible problem it's solving.

10 years.

That's how long it'll be until the last wild elephants and rhinoceroses are gone.

100 of them are killed every day by poachers.

Even though elephants and rhinos are legally protected, the amount of money that can be made from the ivory in their tusks is just too much for some people to resist.


So poachers go after elephants and rhinos in secret. They kill them in out-of-the-way places that are hard to patrol, and they do it at night under the cover of darkness.

Every hour, another elephant or rhino family is broken forever.

Now the Lindbergh Foundation has come up with an idea about how to stop poachers.

They've been testing their idea for two years now, and it really works.

Air Shepherd uses drones and computers to watch over elephants and rhinos the same way a shepherd protects his sheep.


It's an amazing international, hi-tech system.

The drones in Africa are decked out with normal and infrared cameras that see where the animals — and the poachers — are. Even in the dark of night.

That imagery is sent to computers in the U.S. Using special software, they send back flight plans to the drones that predict where the animals are headed, which keeps the drones on top of the poachers.

Local rangers are notified, and they sweep in on the poachers.

During the 600 tests they've run so far, precisely zero poaching has occurred.

It's a fantastic system.

Seven African countries have already requested help.

The Foundation has provided the seed money. They need contributions, though, so head over to the Air Shepherd site to see how you can get involved in this amazing project.

Please let your animal-loving friends know about this breakthrough program that could keep elephants and rhinos from going extinct. It's so exciting.

(Unfortunately, the Lindbergh Foundation's video has been removed from YouTube. But here's an NBC News report about the project.)


This article originally appeared on 03.12.15