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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Like many of you, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Everyone always gets along, which wasn't necessarily true with other longer holidays when I was growing up. There's always plenty of fabulous food, great friends, spirited conversation and no pressure to buy gifts.

As a former newspaper food editor, Thanksgiving always presented a challenge. It's the one day of the year when people who never cook face their fears and go into the kitchen. They would call with questions about every little thing. Some people called all day long. But the calls I hated to answer came on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Here's a typical exchange:

"I forgot to put the leftover turkey away. Can I still serve it?"

"How long was it out of refrigeration?" The answer was usually the same.

"Well...all night," generally came the sheepish reply.

"No. It's dangerous to serve perishable food that has been out of refrigeration for more than four hours."

"Well, then can I serve it to my dog?"

Each year food editors dig deep to come up with interesting new recipe and menu ideas. The problem is that no one really wants to make anything different. Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday. My favorite cover story was the time I interviewed a wide range of people, mostly chefs and sports celebrities, and pretended I was inviting them to a pot luck. "What is the must serve Thanksgiving recipe for your family?" The answers were deliciously different. Fanny Farmer Cookbook author Marion Cunningham enthusiastically said, "Watermelon pickles!" Al Attles, former coach of the Golden State Warriors, replied, "Macaroni and Cheese and I always make it myself!"

For our family, the recipe is Carrot Ring. I don't remember ever sitting down to a Thanksgiving dinner without enjoying Carrot Ring, a cross between a carrot pudding and a not-too-sweet carrot cake. This year I'm going to bake two of them.

What is the essential dish for your holiday table? 

Best wishes to you and your family for a happy, healthy holiday season.

~ Paula

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

California Childhood Obesity Rate Falls, but Some Counties Struggling

Click here to download this infographic
A new study released today offers hope that the state may finally be getting a handle on its 30-year battle with childhood obesity, but also showcases a patchwork of progress that leaves the majority of counties in the state still registering increases in obesity rates among California’s school-age children.

According to the study, A Patchwork of Progress: Changesin Overweight and Obesity Among California 5th, 7th and 9th Graders, 2005-2010, prepared by our client, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the percentage of overweight and obese children in the state dropped 1.1 percent from 2005 to 2010. However, 38 percent of children are still affected – a rate nearly three times higher than it was 30 years ago when the obesity epidemic began. Improvements are not being seen statewide, with 31 of California’s 58 counties experiencing an increase in childhood overweight over the five-year period from 2005 to 2010. Want to know how your county measures up?  

The progress being made statewide is encouraging, but there is still work to be done. Implementing policy and system changes to make schools, communities and worksites healthier places for everyone is the right way to go in reversing the childhood obesity trend.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Don't Take My Candy

In the spirit of Halloween, Jimmy Kimmel asked parents to play a trick on their kids by telling them that they ate all their candy. As you can imagine, this did not go over very well. In all the hilarity of the video, it is a bit disconcerting to realize that most of us are still that little kid crying about our candy.

Our gut reaction when people tell us no is to kick and scream and complain (Tea Party, Oakland's Occupy Wall Street). There's nothing wrong with a good protest or a good yell every now and then, but notice the kids at the end who approach their parents with humility and reason.  Those are the kids I'd want to talk to. Those are the kids who deserve their candy.

The PR world is a tricky game of navigating around those who shout and cry, those who use reason and others lost in the middle. Unfortunately, the loudest (or wealthiest) one seems to win out more often than not. While I'd much rather give the candy to those kids who can shrug it off, I'd probably throw it all at the one screaming just to get it to go away. 

This started as a small rant, but now I'm finding I could probably write another 20 pages on the parallels of this video to the modern psyche of America. Instead, just enjoy this video of children crying. It really is funny.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Boost Emplolyee Morale

Want to boost the morale of your employees? Ask them to don their scariest, most fun Halloween outfits and see what happens. For Halloween, BMC staff came to work decked out for the holiday. We had a cowgirl, Little Red Riding Hood, Count Dracula, a pirate, a Mad Men ad man, a very quirky rabbit and one of our co-workers came as “comfortable.” Admittedly, some of the costumes were a little distracting during the Monday morning staff meeting, but the great boon to the office is that we were all able to let our hair down and have some laughs together.

Planning fun things as a group brightens the atmosphere around the office and makes working together even more enjoyable. So, if you see that your employees have that hang-dog look, think of something fun to do, like dressing up for Halloween. I think you’ll be very happy with the results you get.