Saturday, January 29, 2011

Filling The Gap

The Gap in Sydney, Australia

As seen above, The Gap is a cliff at the top of Sydney Harbour. Aside from it being a breathtaking sight to see, it is also Australia's most famous suicide spot. That being said, Don Ritchie has made it his mission to decrease the number of jumpers. Don, a retired life insurance salesman, lives near the The Gap and for the past 45 years has officially talked 160 would-be jumpers out of attempting suicide (unofficially, the number is close to 400 people).

Believing in the power of a smile, kind words, and an invitation into his home for tea has not only saved the lives of many but earned him the following awards:
- Medal of the Order of Australia (2006)
- Citizens of the Year by Woollahra Council (2010) -- This included himself and his wife
- Local Hero Award by the National Australia day Council (2011)

Many of Don's experiences both successful and not are documented in a diary and/or his memory. Saving a remarkable amount of lives, he is truly a special man and living proof that a little can go a long way.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Picture Perfect

National Geographic has announced the winners of its 2010 Photography Contest. Over 16, 000 photographs were submitted from 130 countries! The grand prize winner (also won the nature category) received $10, 000 as well as a trip to Washington, DC to visit National Geographic's headquarters for their photography seminar. There are 3 categories: Nature, People, and Places. I present to you the winners of each category, starting with the grand prize winner!

Nature Winner: "Eruption of Gunung Rinjani" photographed by Aaron Lim Boon Teck

People Winner: "Buffalo Race" photographed by Chan Kwok Hung

Places Winner: "Ship Breakers of Chittagong" photographed by Jana Asenbrennerova

The next batch of photographs were voted the Viewers' Choice winners for each category:

Nature: "Smile Please" photographed by Sanjeev Bhor

People: "Manog Giri" photographed by Bill Watson

Places: "Ki Gompa" photographed by Natalia Luzuriaga

I strongly encourage you look at the honorable mentions for this contest. The photography is mind blowing! Click here to go to the website. You can learn about the story behind each picture (it's quite fascinating)! Also, to look at 2009's contest winners click here to check out my FactSnack from last year!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Endangered Species: The New & Improved Trojan Men

With the rapidly growing human population increasing the difficulty for endangered plants and animals to survive, custom made condoms were designed to help the cause. Not only do the clever slogans and pictures on the packages create awareness about endangered species, but by using the condom you are doing your part to control the rise in human population.

"Because New Year's Eve is one of the most popular days of the year for condom use, 50 000 of the Endangered Species Condoms were sent to volunteers to hand out this Friday" - The Huffington Post

Since the first Earth Day (1970) the world's population has doubled! At 6.8 billion people (and growing) I think the least we can do is put these clever condoms to some good use. I mean, we are using 50% of Earth's fresh water AND 50% of its landmass.

Personally, I think this is an incredibly creative and brilliant campaign to create a buzz around the harmful effects of overpopulation and overconsumption with respect to these animals and their habitats.

It just goes to show that [safe] sex sells!

According to their official website:

Human overpopulation is the driving force behind the current mass-extinction crisis, endangering:
- 12% of mammals
- 12% of birds
- 31% of reptiles
- 30% of amphibians
- 37% of fish

Endangered Species Condoms in 2010 distributed 350,000 of their condoms in all 50 states as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. To learn more please click here to check out their website.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Is it just me or have you lost weight?!

Old: 64 oz.
New: 59 oz.
Difference: -7.8%
Reason: Last winter's freeze in Florida.

In the February 2011 issue of Consumer Reports (yes, it's January... yes, my dad subscribes) a particular article jumped out at me. The focus is on the remaking of products and packaging in order to lessen the quantity of goods without lowering the price. The article explain "ways manufacturers hide their handiwork: indenting the bottom of containers (a favorite trick among peanut butter processors, making plastic wraps thinner, or whipping ice cream so that you pay for air instead of ingredients." Take a look at some of the pictures I took from the article. (I apologize for the picture quality, they were taken on my phone as they are not "googlable"...yet)

Old roll: 115.2 sq. ft.
New roll: 104.8 sq. ft.
Difference: -9%
Reason: Strength improvement increased fiber by 10%. Company also realigned the roll to match other companies (alternative to price increase).

Yoplait Original: 6 oz.
Yoplait Whips:4 oz.
Difference: -33.3%
Reason: Product full of air bubbles due to the whipped consistency. When stirred it does not fill the container

Old: 96.2 sq. ft.
New: 85 sq. ft.
Difference: -11.6%
Reason: " 'It's a good question. I will look into it and e-mail a response.' (We never got one)"

Kraft Mac & Cheese Elbows: 7.25 oz.
Kraft Mac & Cheese Spirals: 5.5 oz.
Difference: -24%
Reason: A shape is more expensive, difficult, and involved than an elbow. The company also makes much more of the elbows (so they can be sold for less).

Old: 30 0z.
New: 24 oz.
Difference: -20%
Reason: 30-ounce discontinued in smaller stores due to increased costs for raw materials.

Classic Roast: 11.3 oz.
French Roast: 10.3 oz.
Difference: -8.8%
Reason: Weight difference based on roasting process and amount of moisture removed from beans. The darker, the roast, the more lightweight the coffee. The containers should provide the same number of brewed cups.

These are just some examples featured in the article, others include (but are not limited to) Classico Pesto, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and Jessica Simpson's favourite... Chicken of the Sea "Pink Salmon".

Here are some tips and tricks from the lovely people at Consumer Reports:
- Look at different brands (Minute Maid still sells OJ in half-gallons and Ben & Jerry's packs its ice cream in pints)
-Compare unit prices
- Try store brands (cheaper and still taste good)
- Buy in bulk

and when all else fails...

- Contact the company. "When we asked customer-service representatives why a product had been downsized, we were often given coupons toward our next purchase."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The DOUGHMAN: Eat, Bike, Run, Swim

Described as similar to an Ironman... but "doughier", the DOUGHMAN is a Team Relay Quadrathlon. It essentially is a combination of competitive eating and a triathlon, because who doesn't like to physically exert themselves after a big meal!?

The DOUGHMAN is a charity race held annually to raise awareness and money for locally grown food and Durham, NC charities. In the past 2 years over $13,000 has been raised!

There are not many rules and regulations when it comes to The DOUGHMAN, but they do make the following statement clear on their website:

"Two vegetarians or one vegetarian and one vegan can be included per team. If your team has a vegan, they must be able to swim, and your biker must be able to eat pork."

To see this quadrathlon in action check out this video from one of my favourite shows Man v. Food.


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