Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Weighing the Odds on Cancer

Well another strike against obesity has been recorded, with scientists announcing that there's "convincing" evidence connecting a person's being overweight and subsequently developing cancer. Not good news for many folks.

Allow me, if you will, to toss one possible reason for this link into the mix:

The more fat, i.e. the more body cells you have, the higher chance you have of some of those cells becoming abnormal or cancerous.

Right? It's a game of chance really. The odds increase that you'll develop cancerous cells if there's more cells that could potentially be affected.

Add in the fact that overweight people tend to eat poorly to begin with, regularly devouring meats cooked in harmful smoke, or foods made with lots of questionable chemicals in them certainly doesn't help.

Dare I say that being heavy tips the scales against your favor?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rules of the Road: 7 Reminders of How to Drive!

After driving for three hours on New Jersey highways this past weekend, I'd like to provide a public service and remind people how to drive! Call it "Plunge into Driving School 101".

I bore witness to numerous annoyances, instances of dangerous driving, and general ignorance for the road, from people of all backgrounds and a variety of states. (Teenagers and new drivers, feel free to print this out and paste on your dashboard for future reference!)...

1. If it's dark and pouring, or even just drizzling, put your lights on! I drove through a serious downpour and there were still drivers that didn't bother to flick their headlight switch on. It's the law in the New Jersey-- "Wipers on, Lights on" but in reality should just be a matter of common sense. Without your lights on you make it extremely difficult for others to see you. Ummmm....not good.

2. If you choose to drive the speed limit or slower, that's fine, I appreciate your respect for the law and for safety. But out of courtesy for other drivers, move on over to the right lane. People who want to drive faster than you are driving will find a way to pass you. You make it 10x more dangerous if they have to pass on the right or tailgate you into submission. It's just not worth it. Please move over.

3. Cell phones... just put 'em down while you're handling a two ton machine. Please. Bluetooth earpieces or speakers are a much better alternative.

4. Just because you made a mistake doesn't mean you should make everybody else around you suffer. If you get into a turning lane by accident, and other cars are near or rapidly approaching you... just turn, unless nobody's behind you and you can safely get over to the correct lane. Don't try to cut back into the other lanes real fast.

5. If you're stuck in a line of traffic on the right side and want to get over to the left, don't cut out the approaching cars; just wait until they pass. Once you cause those cars in the left lane to break for no reason other than to let you in, you're just asking for trouble.

6. Learn how to park. Be it parallel parking or parking between the lines, do it right so as not to foul things up for everybody else. Nothing worse than a busy parking lot or tight city street where some moron is taking up two precious spaces for no reason other than s/he's being lazy and inconsiderate.

7. My last pet peeve... keep your cigarette butts in the car! Despite what you may believe, the world is NOT your ashtray (or trashcan as the case may be for those people who like to toss out their gum wrappers, soda cans, and the like). Keep your refuse in the car and take it out later.

Follow these rules and we can all live in highway harmony! Class dismissed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Keeping Up with Social Media

So I just joined LinkedIn at the behest of a friend. Apparently it's a good networking site and at this point in my life, it couldn't hurt to network a little more for various reasons.

But now the challenge is-- what's the best way to maximize my time using it?

I've been on MySpace for a couple of years now and hardly ever use the thing, other than to poke my head into the virtual lives of some friends every so often. But otherwise, it's become more of a headache trying to read people's pages with all kinds of clutter and stuff going on.

And I've started a Facebook page but hardly ever touched it.

And then there's other sites which I've barely even dipped my toe into, like Twitter or Friendster or chat rooms or SecondLife.

How can people possibly keep up with all these things?!?

To me, it just seems like too much time and effort that can be spent dabbling with these sites, tweaking and prodding your profile, trying to meet new people, when in reality I'm not so sure that meeting people face to face isn't still the best way to go, though that can involve a lot more time and effort. But it's a lot more real too. Obviously.

Maybe I'm a throwback kind of guy, but I just don't have the patience to keep up with these sites like some people do.

I'll throw up a blog post every once in a while, but quite frankly I've got too much of life to explore to dive into the social media world and sit around and imagine what other people are doing all day!

Ok, that's about all the time I have... time to go read a book.

(Do people still do that?)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bringing Food to an Office

Bringing food to your place of work will undoubtedly create some interesting sociological case studies that always fit into the following laws of office food consumption:

For starters, the magical 80/20 rule applies here: it's only the same 20% of workers who voluntarily bring in food, while the same 80% of the office workers who always devour it.

Secondly, you will notice that nobody really cares who brought the food in, nor do they bother to thank the food-bearer or even acknowledge his/her existence. Instead, the slightest brush of the brownie plate on formica in the break room results in a merciless stampede of scavengers to attack the fresh goodies. Watch out!

But lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, there's a very distinct sequence of events that follow the rush to the trough. It goes a little something like this: The initial 75% of the food (be it pie, cookies, donuts, etc.) will be gone in roughly the first 10% of the food's life of sitting on the counter, while the remaing 25% of the food will last for 90% of the food's counter-lifetime. Allow me to explain with an example:

Sweet Mary brings in a fresh sheet of brownies to work one dreary Tuesday morning. As soon as she eases off the plastic wrap, a squadron of vultures pounces to get a piece of the action. Within minutes, 75% of the tray has been ravaged, leaving a thin row of brownies and a smattering of crumbs. Elapsed time of the brownies' life on the break room counter so far: 6 minutes. Percentage of brownies eaten: 75%.

But now the slow death of the remaining brownie tray begins. Once the room clears out, Timid Timmy from accounting will happen by the chocolatey chunk of brownies on his way to the coffee machine. He'll look around and take a sliver and slink off back to his cave, errr, desk. Elapsed time: 10 minutes. Brownies devoured: 80%.

After a while passes, Slick Steve from sales will stumble upon the sweet treat and get himself sugared up for his next rush of cold calls. Elapsed time 20 minutes. Brownies devoured: 90%.

Tara, Sara, and Lara, the inseparable pack from payroll charge in once they see Steve eating his slice of brownie goodness and they each eat small little morsels at a time, crumbs included ("because crumbs have less calories"). Elapsed time: 19 minutes. Brownies devoured: 95%

Bored, Bob the boss bumbles his way into the break room and fixes upon the remaining corner of brownies on the tray. He can't resist, but is courteous enough to leave a sliver for someone else; or perhaps he doesn't want to be the jerk boss who ate the last piece. Elapsed time: 36 minutes. Brownies devoured: 98%

Pumped from his slam-dunk sales call, Steve returns to the break room to celebrate with some more good-luck sweetness. He sees only a tiny chunk left. He pauses for a minute and strokes his chin. He thinks about how much he really deserves it, and goes and sidles up to the counter, cutting off a piece and leaving only a pencil thin portion for someone else. Elapsed time: 47 minutes. Brownies devoured: 99.3%

Over the course of the next 12 minutes, 10 people will stroll in hoping to get one last bite before the brownies go bust, but opt not to take that last piece because they want to leave some for someone else, and don't want to be seen as the person who took the last brownie slice. Elapsed time: 59 minutes. Brownies devoured: still 99.3%

Finally, sweet Mary returns to the break room to see what's left of her delivery and to sneak a small piece of her delicious creation. Shocked and dismayed that only a tiny sliver remains (this being the only piece Mary has had a chance to eat because she wanted to give everyone else first dibs and decided to actually do her work and come back later) she dejectedly takes the last bite. Elapsed time: 60 minutes. Brownies devoured. 100%

To add insult to injury, someone else drops the guilt trip on Mary because she took the last piece, and, her mouth being full, she can't even explain that she was the one who brought them in in the first place and had every right to take the last piece. To top it off, Mary then spends 15 teeth-clenching minutes scouring the plate clean with wet napkins drenched in pink handsoap because there's no other cleaning supplies, and nobody else will bother to clean the dish. Not such a sweet deal for sweet Mary now, is it? She says she'll never bring in another thing because nobody else does and she never gets to eat what she brings in. But, inevitably, she still winds up bringing her food creations to work because, well, she's a sucker, and of course nobody else brings food in anyway, so she feels like she should...

And that's what you get when you bring food to an office.

Monday, October 8, 2007

One Gym, Two Gym, Old Gym, New Gym

Let's face it, there's a lot of competition for gyms, fitness centers, and other workout venues to attract new clients. People are eating more yet burning off fewer calories as they (we) sit behind desks most of the day. So anybody looking to get a workout in will likely consider joining a gym. But how do prospective customers know which one to attend? Well based on my experience with going to gyms (4 different ones in the past 5 years in fact), here are the main determining factors, as far as I can tell:

-Equipment quality
-Friendliness of staff members

Now consider this comparison, as I switch from my current gym to a new gym:

Old gym: costs twice as much as new gym, always has musty/sweaty gym smell, is located 5 minutes further from my house than new gym, equpiment is fair but noticeably used, the staff members there generally don't even acknowledge me, and even the temperature can get really warm inside during the summer and stay really cool in the winter making for a less pleasant workout.

Yet oddly enough, in some ways, I feel bad about leaving my current gym. I probably would have kept going there if this new gym (which really is new... it opened today) never opened, but when I see what a high-quality competitor has to offer, how can I pass up this new opportunity?

Just goes to show... as a business, you can't depend on maintaining the status quo and continue to please people.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Milking the System from Two Points of View

I always hear people complaining about people who "live off of the welfare system" or who "milk the handouts that the government gives," so we should stop with these programs altogether.

Indeed, there are people who do these things. And indeed it bothers me when somebody is cheating the system unnecessarily. But at the same time, if the programs are helping a vast amount of people while a few take advantage of them, then I can live with that. Any incentive out there that's worth getting, somebody will find a way to beat the system.

But interestingly I also find that the same people who are complaining about the people who are out there "milking the system" are the ones who openly brag about how they know the tricks to bending their taxes, or who try to haggle down every penny from a business, or who are forever squeezing every dime from tips at a restaurant.

In my eyes, these are two opposite ends of the same character trait... being a system milker.

I guess the old saying applies here... "Takes one to know one."

Monday, October 1, 2007

From the Big Screen to the Blog Screen

I had the privilege to interview Sharon Pinkenson of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office on September 27, 2007, before she spoke at a board meeting for Golden Slipper Club and Charities at the Downtown Club in Philadelphia. She's the organization's executive director and is largely responsible for getting a slew of producers to shoot their films in the Philly region. Pretty cool stuff.

If you've got a minute, take a look at the Slippertalk blog for my review of our conversation and her speech. And be sure to give it two thumbs up...