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Friday, October 21, 2011

Truly a San Franicsco Treat

Each year, we here at BMC take a day off from the flood of emails, ringing of phones and tapping of keyboards to spend some quality time together. Very Kumbayah I know, but all of us look forward to the adventure each Play Day brings. This year, after some intense whining from me when ziplining was initially suggested (I have an out-of-control fear of heights), it was decided that we would spend our Play Day exploring San Francisco. The catch was that everyone had to pick a location to visit (and keep it secret until the actual day), and we had to use public transportation to get around.

This is how our day unfolded . . .

1. Amtrak from Martinez to Jack London Square

2. Alameda/Oakland Ferry to the Ferry Building in San Francisco

3. Tour of Acme Bread Company

4. Streetcar to Pier 45 to visit the Musee Mecanique

6. Hike to the San Francisco Art Institute to view the Diego Rivera mural and one of the best views of the city I’ve ever seen

7. Hike to the Russian Hill neighborhood for lunch and some ridiculously tasty frozenyogurt

8. Walk to Fort Mason to see the community garden and the haunted Haskell House

9. Muni bus ride through Chinatown

10. Walk to Union Bank in the Financial District to check out the Museum of Moneyof the American West. Note: There's no picture for this stop because we were yelled at by security guards at the bank at least three times for trying to take pictures.

11. Happy Hour at the Omni Hotel before heading home via BART


Some of you may have noticed the wheelchair in some of the pictures. Navigating public transportation, busy sidewalks and insane hills while pushing a wheelchair gave us all a new perspective on getting around the City. Many people were very accommodating (thanks to the streetcar operator and the lady on BART who kept Paula from rolling away), while other situations were incredibly frustrating (the ladder left in the middle of a narrow walkway, and broken and raised sidewalks). I will never again take my legs for granted!

This was definitely one of my favorite Play Days. Why did I like it so much? It was so enjoyable to spend a gorgeous day being introduced to new places in one of my favorite cities and to do so for little to no cost. It was a great reminder that being a tourist in your own backyard can be just as fun as being a tourist abroad – and no jet lag!

 ~ Nicole

Monday, October 10, 2011

We're Not Buying It! Neither should you.

Childhood obesity? It's the fault of bad parenting, blame the vituperative Nannygate crowd. In every balanced article about overweight and obese children, the accompanying online comment section is filled with nasty messages about parental responsibility. 

Far too few comments talk about the environment in which our children are being raised. How can parents counter the relentless clever marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages by junk food and soda companies?

These companies claim to care about our kids, but do they?

"We're not buying it!" is the Prevention Institute's compelling new video. I bet if you watch it you won't buy the food and beverage industry's arguments either.

The same industry that bombards our children with billions of dollars of deceptive advertising each year is currently fighting against legislation that would ban fast food commercials during children's programming.

At the end of the video is a link to a petition you can sign if you want your voice to be heard.

~ Paula

Six Weeks is Long Enough

Are you tired of it yet? Tired of what you ask? Take your pick. You have the presidential campaigns and Christmas decorations.   Both have been going on too long already.

First off there is Christmas. When I was a kid the day after Thanksgiving signaled the Christmas shopping season. Now, Christmas starts in August!  That’s approximately 21 weeks of stores decorated with Santas, Joy to the World and reindeer.  And don’t even get me started on the ‘seasonal’ music.  Plus the mix of Christmas with Halloween is just a bit eerie.

Then there is the presidential campaign. OMG! Just how long do we have to watch presidential hopefuls make fools of themselves while beating up on their fellow party members?   Oh the humanity!!

So I’d like to make a proposal.  For both Christmas and presidential campaigns, the good citizens of our country should set a six-week limit on both the Christmas shopping season and presidential campaigns.

For Christmas, that would mean no Christmas decorations and ‘seasonal’ music until about the second week in November. While that is before my preferred date of the day after Thanksgiving, I’m willing to make that sacrifice. For presidential campaigns that would mean no debates, mudslinging or personal attacks by the candidates until roughly Labor Day. In fact, perhaps make Labor Day the first day that a presidential hopeful could file the official paperwork to run.

So what’s the down side of all this? None that I can see.  Americans have come to have a fairly short attention span, so I believe shortening the times for both would be a big plus. For Christmas it would bring some of the “it’s that special time of the year” feeling back. And for our presidential elections, it would perhaps help people to be less jaded and more focused on a process that elects the most powerful person in the world every four years.

Seems like a win-win for everyone.


Monday, October 3, 2011

A 21st century advantage

The entertaining movie Moneyball shows how Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane took a cash-strapped franchise and created winning teams by looking at data differently than everyone else. He went against the prevailing recruitment philosophy and predicted what combination of players would make great teams. 

To be successful in the 21st century you have a "predictive brain" to see the future just before it happens.

That's Wayne Gretzky secret of success, according to Vivek Ranadive co-author of a fascinating new book, "The Two-Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future...Just Enough."

Gretzky wasn't a particularly great athlete in a physical sense. He says he did poorly on all the tests for endurance, strength, relexes and flexibility. As Ranadive writes, "Gretzy didn't get so good in spite of his unimpressive physical attributes, he became so good because of them...He truly was able to understand what was going to happen an instant or two before everyone else on the ice and skate to where the puck was going to be."

That ability to see the future a few seconds ahead is the one common denominator of consistent success in the 21st century.

It works in sports, in commerce, in sales, in education, in technology, in every field. Getting just a little bit of the right information just ahead of when it's needed is a lot more valuable than all of the information in the world a month or day later believes Ranadive. 

Check out his book. I predict that you won't be able to put it down.  

~ Paula