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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cardiologists need to unite

If you ever doubted that we need restaurant menu labeling, the Heart Attack Grill makes our case. The Arizona restaurant claims to serve "food worth dying for." And you just may if you finish one of their Quadruple Bypass burgers. Each one has a whopping 8,000 calories.
I hope Heart Attack Grill doesn't expand to my neighborhood. What do you think?








~ Paula

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's Voting Time

Seeing that Election Day is 7 days away, it might serve us well to familiarize ourselves with the propositions that will shape California. Thanks to the Sacramento Bee, they have listed California's ten largest papers' complete list of editorial endorsements with links that work so you can read the propositions. This is where they stand but what's important is that you educate yourself on the issues and vote! See you at the polls.

(Published online as SacBee Webblog on Oct. 28, 2008)
All the newspaper editorials fit to link

Los Angeles Times editorial page endorsements

Proposition 1A
Yes
Proposition 2
No
Proposition 3
Yes
Proposition 4
No
Proposition 5
No
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
Yes

San Francisco Chronicle editorial page endorsements
Proposition 1A
Yes
Proposition 2
No
Proposition 3
Yes
Proposition 4
No
Proposition 5
No
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
Yes

The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial page endorsements
Proposition 1A
No
Proposition 2
Yes
Proposition 3
No
Proposition 4
Yes
Proposition 5
No
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
No

The Sacramento Bee editorial page endorsements

The Bee took the unusual step of announcing its opposition to all the ballot measures - save one - in a single full-page editorial. Read all the endorsements there.

Proposition 1A
No
Proposition 2
No
Proposition 3
No
Proposition 4
No
Proposition 5
No
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
No

Orange County Register editorial page endorsements

Proposition 1A
No
Proposition 2
No
Proposition 3
No
Proposition 4
Yes
Proposition 5
Yes
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
No

The (San Jose) Mercury News editorial page endorsements
Proposition 1A
Yes
Proposition 2
Yes
Proposition 3
Yes
Proposition 4
No
Proposition 5
No
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
Yes

The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise editorial page endorsements
Proposition 1A
No
Proposition 2
No
Proposition 3
No
Proposition 4
No
Proposition 5
No
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
Yes


Bay Area MediaNews (Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune, among others) editorial page endorsements
Proposition 1A
No
Proposition 2
Yes
Proposition 3
Yes
Proposition 4
No
Proposition 5
No
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
Yes

The Fresno Bee editorial page endorsements
Proposition 1A
Yes
Proposition 2
No
Proposition 3
Yes
Proposition 4
No editorial found
Proposition 5
No
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
Yes

Los Angeles Daily News
Proposition 1A
No
Proposition 2
Yes
Proposition 3
No
Proposition 4
No
Proposition 5
No
Proposition 6
No
Proposition 7
No
Proposition 8
No
Proposition 9
No
Proposition 10
No
Proposition 11
Yes
Proposition 12
Yes

~ Muriel

What consumers really think of green


(Reposted from Catching Flack)
Here’s a quiz for anyone interested in environmental issues:

Which of the following environmental terms resonates most strongly with consumers?
a) Conservation
b) Green
c) Energy Efficiency
d) Sustainable

If you said "b) Green" are you surprised to learn that you're wrong? The right answer is "c) Energy Efficiency," according to
Suzanne Shelton of Shelton Group, who conducts annual surveys of consumer attitudes toward environmental issues.

Shelton’s research indicates that only 61.5 percent of consumers have a positive association with the word “green,” 63.5 percent feel positively about “sustainable,” 74 percent feel positively about “conservation” and a whopping 88.2 percent feel positively about “energy efficiency.”

Why is "energy efficiency" more popular among consumers than "green?" Turns out "energy efficiency" is a term people can understand. To consumers, "energy efficienty" means turning off the lights, lowering the thermostat, buying a hybrid car, planting a tree and so on — things consumers can actually do. But what does “green” mean? It can be all things to all people, Shelton says, and consumers already see through the hype — that “green” is mostly a marketing buzzword designed to boost sales.

This should remind all of us that just because a word or phrase appears to be popular, we should really take a moment to consider if it communicates effectively with the audience we are trying to reach rather than leaping onto the buzzword bandwagon without a second thought.

~ Nicole

Monday, October 27, 2008

Voter Empowerment - What Would you do if you Were Turned Away?


I've been seeing report after report online where voters are getting turned away from polling places or receiving mysterious letters saying they aren't eligible to vote. This kind of stuff is really starting to freak me out. My worst fear is showing up at my polling place next week and being told, "Sorry, you can't vote." I did a little digging and found a Voter Empowerment Card put together by the ACLU.

Here are your rights as a California voter:

PROBLEMS AT THE POLLS


What if I go to the wrong polling place?
Go to the right polling place. You can ask a poll worker to help you find the polling place where you’re registered, or you can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE for assistance. If you can’t figure out where you’re registered, go to the polling place that you think is most likely to be the right one, and if you’re not on the registration rolls at that polling place, ask for a provisional ballot. You have the right to cast a provisional ballot even if you’re not at the right polling place.

What if someone challenges my right to vote?
A poll worker will ask you some questions and rule on the challenge. Cal. Elec. Code §§14243-14247.

What if someone tries to intimidate or harass me?
Tell a poll worker right away. If the poll worker is the problem, tell a poll watcher, call your county elections office, call one of the election hotline numbers listed at the end of this card, or make a complaint online at http://www.votingrights.org/.

What if I’m not on the voter list?
First, ask a pollworker to check the list again and to confirm that you’re at the right polling place. If you’re at the right polling place but your name isn’t on the voter list, ask for a provisional ballot. You have the right to cast a provisional ballot even if your name isn’t on the voter list, as long as you’re willing to swear that you believe you’re registered to vote. Cal. Elec. Code §14310.

What if I make a mistake on my ballot or the voting machine malfunctions?
Tell a poll worker before you cast your vote. If you spoil a paper ballot, you have the right to up to two replacement ballots as long as you catch your mistake before you cast your ballot. If your voting machine malfunctions, you can request a different machine. Cal. Elec. Code §14288.

How do I make a complaint?
First, ask for an election supervisor at your polling place. He or she can handle most routine complaints that arise on Election Day. Candidates, political parties, and nonprofit groups may also have poll watchers at your polling place who might be able to assist you. In the alternative, you can call 1-866-OURVOTE to report any problems you encountered. If any of those people ask you who you voted for, or if they can’t resolve your complaint, call your county elections office or the California Secretary of State.

TIPS FOR AVOIDING PROBLEMS


  • Check your voter registration status at least 15 days before the election.

  • Vote before Election Day, using a vote-by-mail ballot.

  • If you plan to vote at the polls, locate your polling place at least 15 days before the election.

  • Vote early in the day to avoid the last-minute rush.

  • Bring some form of identification even if it’s not required.

  • Read all instructions carefully.

  • Ask for help if you need it.

  • Take your time. You have up to ten minutes to complete your ballot.

What ever your political leanings, everyone should go vote and no one should be turned away!

~ Nicole

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Food for thought . . .


"In every crisis there is a message. Crises are nature's way of forcing change - breaking down old structures, shaking loose negative habits so that something new and better can take their place."

- Susan L. Taylor, Essence editor

An interesting perspective to keep in mind when dealing with any crisis, especially one in business.

~ Nicole

Monday, October 20, 2008

BMC takes to the race track

One day each year, BMC has a play day. It's our chance to celebrate another anniversary (21 years on the 17th!) and spend some time doing all important team building. The day ususally involves getting some, if not all, of us out of our comfort zone and having a great meal to celebrate that we all survived. In past years we've sailed on the bay, climbed up a giant rock wall and taken a cooking class.

This year we went GoKart Racing! Although there was a minor fender bender (and by minor I mean Ken got t-boned by both Tasha and Sharron after spinning out on the track) , a couple of us crashed into the wall and one of us barely made it through the race after a breakfast of spicy beans and a latte, I'm happy to announce that everyone survived.

In case you were taking bets, here are the results of the BMC Grand Prix . . .

1. Mike "Green Around the Gills" Miller - 32.54 Avg. Lap Time

2. Tasha "T-bone" Rassuli - 32.77 Avg. Lap Time

3. Nicole Stivers - 34.12 Avg. Lap Time

4. Ken "I Brought my own Helmet" Freeze - 36.30 Avg. Lap Time

5. Muriel Miller - 37.44 Avg. Lap Time

6. Sharron Faaborg - 44.70 Avg. Lap Time

And thanks to Paula for braving the noxious gasoline fumes to document our exploits on the track.

~ Nicole

P.S. You would NOT believe how sore GoKart racing makes you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An amazing tale of the human mind


I recently read the most incredible story about the powers of the human mind - a shining example of technological advances, as well as determined survival.

Following a serious car accident, Erik Ramsey suffered a stroke in his brain stem. Now 25-years-old, Erik has been suffering from a rare and permanent condition known as locked-in syndrome for the past nine years. Erik is completely paralyzed - the only thing he can control is the up and down movement of his eyes. A speech therapist realized that Erik could use these eye movements to answer yes or no questions - up for yes and down for no.

It's hard to imagine what type of life Erik can lead, but thanks to breaking edge computer technology, determined researchers and an even more determined individual, Erik could one day make his thoughts audible. That's right - he could speak through a computer using only his thoughts.

Erik is working with Dr. Philip Kennedy, a pioneer in the field of brain-computer interface research who is on the fore-front of developing technology to generate speech through brain activity. Kennedy worked with neurosurgeons to thread thin wires into the speech center of Erik's brain. While these wires are hooked into a computer, Erik thinks about making vowel sounds. As he does, the vowel sound comes out of the speaker. The next step is developing the technology to allow Erik to form consonants. The team's goal is for Erik to "speak" full sentences within five years.

This story just blows my mind. The perseverance of the human spirit and the ingenuity of the human mind never ceases to amaze me.
~ Nicole

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cheers!


As consumers, is there a point when we cross the dependency line?

I think I found it.

My best friend Gmail, a glorious email service brought to us by my other best friend Google, recently introduced the new feature Mail Goggles

To prevent users from regretting sending those messages that Pinot Noir encouraged, Mail Goggles offers guidance that some friends can't. Once installed on your computer, the application alters its settings to prevent users from sending any email without first having to complete a series of math questions. By default, the application activates on Friday and Saturday nights, but you can customize it if you need more. Oh and have no fear. You can also choose your difficulty level.

I'm sure after the sixth, seventh or maybe 20th time of using this application, the program tends to lose its purpose. And wouldn't you agree that this application would be most useful if you could install it on your phone?

I'm willing to bet that next year at this time the new IPhone will have a wingman feature.


-Tasha

Monday, October 6, 2008

NYC Health Dept. Ad Campaign Supporting Menu Labeling


One of the arguments we heard over the last two years in our drive to get calories onto menu boards, is that the menu boards won't make a difference if people don't even know their daily calorie requirements.

The New York Health Department launched an educational campaign today to make sure people know what those requirements are and how fast food meals fit in. The ad campaign, which is simple and straight forward, runs through January. This is definitely something California's Health Department should do.

~ Nicole






(H/t to John Del Signore at the Gothamist)


Friday, October 3, 2008

2008 Ig Noble Prize Winners Announced


The Annals of Improbable Research magazine has announced the winners of this year's Ig Noble Prize, given for oddball but often surprisingly practical scientific achievements. I'm all for scientific advancements and creativity but these are pretty funny . . .

  • Peace: The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.
  • Biology: Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert and Michel Franc for discovering that fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than fleas that live on a cat.
  • Cognitive science: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero, Akio Ishiguro and Agota Toth for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles (report in Math in the Media).
  • Economics: Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tyber and Brent Jordan for discovering that exotic dancers earn more when at peak fertility.
  • Physics: Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith for proving that heaps of string or hair will inevitably tangle.
  • Chemistry: Sheree Umpierre, Joseph Hill and Deborah Anderson for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and C.Y. Hong, C.C. Shieh, P. Wu and B.N. Chiang for proving it is not (report at Snopes.com). Another fact that makes me question if we should really be drinking this stuff.
  • Literature: David Sims for his study “You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations” (report from The Boston Globe).
~ Nicole

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Tipping Point Tipped!

You push, and push and push, and suddenly the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

With Governor Schwarzenegger’s signature yesterday, California became the first state in the nation to require fast food chains to post calorie information on their menu boards. Huge victory for health and consumer information advocates!

Ah but then today we learn that Yum Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC), seeing the way the winds are blowing, is going to extend the mandate and post calorie counts on menu boards in their restaurants all over the nation. For their sudden concern for consumer rights and health, Yum Brands was rewarded with an immediate 21% jump in their stock! 21% admist one of the greatest stock market turmoils in history!

Hard to imagine McDs, Jack and the Burger King will let Yum Brands hold on to that highly marketable distinction for long. I expect, within a year, it will be common place to find calorie counts on menu boards in every state in the nation. I'm Loving It!

Mike

Who wants a simple tool to help them build a healthy diet?


I just read about a recent survey of 1,019 adults in the United States that indicates public health campaigns should focus on the total nutrient value of food.

The survey (commissioned by Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition) showed that 61 percent of respondents were interested in learning about both the positive nutrients and the nutrients they should limit when they are trying to select healthy foods. And, 78 percent of survey participants said they are looking for a simple, practical tool that would help them build a healthy diet based on getting the most nutrients from their food choices.

Some interesting statistics to keep in mind, especially with Yum! Brand's announcement of putting calorie-labeled menu boards up in all their U.S. restaurants and not just California. Hooray for change not taking place at a snail's pace for once!

~ Nicole