Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Saturday is FREE museum day!

Some of my best childhood memories are of going to museums (thanks Mom and Dad!). I absolutely loved going to the California Academy of Sciences to see the albino alligator, two-headed snake and the San Francisco Earthquake machine. While I am really pleased with the new Cal Academy (especially the butterflies in the rain forest exhibit), I really miss that earthquake machine.

I think museums are great ways to spend time with your children and a wonderful way to expand their mind in a fun way. That's why I'm really excited about the Smithsonian Magazine's free museum day on Saturday, Sept. 26. For one day only, over 1,200 museums and cultural institutions across the country will celebrate culture by offering FREE admission.

You can visit to find participating museums in your area.

Here's a list of places you can visit for free in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento:

Bedford Gallery - Walnut Creek
Blackhawk Museum - Danville
California Automobile Museum (formerly the Towe Auto Museum) - Sacramento
California State Military Museum and Resource Center - Sacramento
California State Railroad Museum - Sacramento
Cartoon Art Museum of California - San Francisco
Chabot Space & Science Center - Oakland
Contemporary Jewish Museum - San Francisco
Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education - San Mateo
Crocker Art Museum - Sacramento
Exploratorium - San Francisco
Explorit Science Center - Davis
Hiller Aviation Museum - San Carlos
Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles - Berkeley
Lindsay Wildlife Museum - Walnut Creek
Maidu Interpretive Center - Roseville
Museum of Craft and Folk Art - San Francisco
Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) - San Francisco
Point Arena Lighthouse - Station #496 - Point Arena
Sacramento Zoo - Sacramento
San Mateo County History Museum - Redwood City
SF Camerawork - San Francisco
Sonoma County Museum - Santa Rosa
Sonoma League for Historic Preservation - Sonoma
Sun Gallery, Hayward Area Forum of the Arts - Hayward
The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts - Sacramento
Zeum: San Francisco's Children's Museum - San Francisco

~ Nicole

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soda drinkers 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese

While health officials have long suspected the link between obesity and soda consumption, new research provides the first scientific evidence of the potent role soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages play in fueling California's expanding girth.

In their landmark study, Bubbling Over: Soda Consumption and Its Link to Obesity in California, researchers from the UCLA Center for Healthy Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy discovered a strong correlation between soda consumption and weight.

Key findings:

- Adults who drink a soda or more per day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who do not drink sodas, regardless of income or ethnicity

- Over 10.7 million Californians over the age of one drink one or more sodas per day

- 41 percent of children (ages 2-11), 62 percent of adolescents (ages 12-17) and 24 percent of adults drink at least one soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages every day

"The science is clear and conclusive: soda is fueling California's $41 billion a year obesity epidemic," says CCPHA Executive Director Dr. Harold Goldstein, an author of the research brief. "We drink soda like water. But unlike water, soda serves up a whopping 17 teaspoons of sugar in every 20-ounce serving."

Can you imagine trying to eat 17 teaspoons of sugar?!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just What Does That Gold Medal on That Bottle of Wine Mean?

Jerry Hirsh reported in Friday’s LA Times about some research that Robert Hodgson has conducted about the medals that are awarded at wine competitions.

Hodgson, a retired professor from Cal State Humboldt looked at the results for more than 4,000 wines entered in 13 U.S. competitions in 2003 and found little consistency in what wines won gold medals. You can read the entire article at

Hodgson appears to have done his homework and waded through a ton of data to report on what every winery owner/winemaker has secretly known for years - enter enough contests and you’ll get gold medals.

Nobody every says, “I entered my wine in 10 contests and won a single gold medal,” they just say, “Look at the gold medal my wine won.”

Once again it underlines that consumers should not let other people tell them what is and isn’t a good wine for them.

From personal experience, there is a well know wine merchant that I buy my French wine from. I have never bought a red wine from him I didn’t love. However, on the other side of the coin, I have also never bought a bottle of white wine from him I liked. So does that mean he sells bad white wine? No – just that he and I have different tastes when it comes to white wine. The same can be said of the wine competitions. Just because a wine wins a medal doesn’t mean you’ll like it.

Explore, taste, enjoy and don’t let what others say keep you from finding some great wines on your own.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why I’ll Never Buy Another Sears Kenmore Appliance

So… a few years back we decided that our Sears Kenmore washer and dryer of 20 years should be replaced. Both had been real work horses. I grew up with good old Sears Kenmore appliances and so did my wife. So we bought a new Kenmore washer, dryer plus a fridge.

The fridge broke after five years. I called Sears for service and it was going to be 5 days before they could get someone out to look at it with a charge of $175 for the visit. I looked in the phone book, called a local guy who was there in 30 minutes. He replaced the broken part and the fridge was running again. Cost $80. He told me that the part that failed was cheap and not meant to last very long. He replaced it with a much better heavy duty part.

Then a year or so later the drum on the washer went out. The repair guy told us it was our fault because we must had been using too much soap. Yeah right… My wife uses low sudsing soap, as recommended by Kenmore. Although the part was covered under the warranty the repair cost wasn’t – chalk up another $400. Now three years later the drum is broken AGAIN. I’m not even going to try to repair it. We are going to get another washer and it won’t be from Sears and it won’t be a Kenmore.

We aren’t going to buy a Kenmore just from our experiences, but I’ve talked to friends and co-workers and I’ve heard very similar Kenmore horror stories. I guess this is just an example of another good old American name that isn’t worth a darn anymore.