Category: Personal

378 in a row – Starbucks drive-through customers pay for next person’s drink

A random act of kindness at a Tampa-area Starbucks set into motion a chain of giving that lasted for nearly 400 customers…Around 7 a.m. a woman ordering from the coffee house’s drive-through paid for her own drink and said she’d like to pay for the customer behind her. Moved by the stranger’s generosity, that customer returned the favor for the next, who did the same.

The chain grew so big that employees began keeping a tally of consecutive customers who chose to “pay it forward.” The tally was over 250 by 1:30…

As the afternoon rush hour came and more and more customers kept the streak going, the baristas entertained hopes of it continuing until closing and perhaps using a gift card to extend it to the following day.

But around 6:00 p.m., customer number 379 crushed their hopes of a fairy-tale ending. An unknown woman driving a white Jeep Commander refused to pay for anything but her own drink — even though it had already been paid for. Starbucks employee Vu Nguyen explained the special circumstances but the woman was unmoved and, in Nguyen’s opinion, visibly unable to understand the concept of paying it forward.

Oh, it would be so easy to identify the politics, personal philosophy of someone who doesn’t comprehend good works. Tempting. But, not enough data.

Now, imagine trying to get the same thing started at a corner liquor store or cigarette shop! Phew.

Not-so-incidentally, this really is a Starbucks tradition. The record was set last December’s holiday season with 1468 customers in Newington, Connecticut…and ran from Tuesday morning the 24th through Saturday evening the 28th.

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ERRATIC POSTING – The next few days

Between going to town for annual physical, back again to town for lab work associated with the checkup, assisting in the changeover from traditional hot water storage to an on-demand system, catching up with weekly Wednesday bread-baking – figuring out [this morning] how to remove a bluebird unharmed from our cold woodburning stove after he clambered down the chimney – attendance to my personal blog [and all others] will be irregular for a couple of days.

Eideard

Gorilla Reunion

After raising a Gorilla in an English zoo, Damian Aspinall ventured out to the jungle where it was released to try to catch a glimpse of him, five years later. Not expecting the Gorilla, “Kwibi”, to recognize him, he was in for a major shock when they crossed paths.

What happened next was an amazing display of affection and shows that love can transcend boundaries, whether it be size, shape, race, or even species. If it put a smile on your face, as it did to me, share this amazing reunion between father and “child”.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Real Madrid and Manchester United shatter American attendance record for proper football

Michigan Stadium
Click to enlargeLeon Halip/Getty Images

A small town in Northern Michigan had the eyes of the soccer world watching it with the largest crowd in American history on hand to witness Real Madrid and Manchester United at Michigan Stadium. A grand total of 109,318 were in the stands to witness the event. The game was broadcast around the world in up to 40 countries, with an estimated economic impact of $15-20 million on Washtenaw county…

As expected, the atmosphere inside the stadium was even louder and more energetic than the one created outside of it leading up to the match. Fans had descended onto Ann Arbor from around the world, and once the game kicked off, it was easy to forget that the match was only a part of a preseason tournament. Nonetheless, Manchester United, only needed a point to reach the final in Miami, and Louis Van Gaal wanted his team to be there…

The game on the pitch was rather action packed, but it was those watching the match in the stands that really made it such a special occasion. Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor was proof that soccer has made it in North America.

Major League Soccer continues to grow in strength, reputation and competitive level. Reflecting not only the growth of proper football in the United States; but, the reputation and ability of teams throughout our regional association CONCACAF.

Today’s record attendance broke the existing record by almost 10% – and that was a match between Brazil and France. Not in Michigan.

The match was fun BTW. Man of the Match was Mr. Potatohead – which is not a negative in my mind for Wayne Rooney from Man U.

The costs of NSA snooping are greater than just the loss of personal privacy

There is no doubt the integrity of our communications and the privacy of our online activities have been the biggest casualty of the NSA’s unfettered surveillance of our digital lives. But the ongoing revelations of government eavesdropping has had a profound impact on the economy, the security of the internet and the credibility of the U.S. government’s leadership when it comes to online governance.

These are among the many serious costs and consequences the NSA and those who sanctioned its activities—including the White House, the Justice Department and lawmakers like Sen. Dianne Feinstein—apparently have not considered, or acknowledged, according to a report by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute…

The Foundation’s report, released today, outlines some of the collateral damage of NSA surveillance in several areas, including:

Economic losses to US businesses due to lost sales and declining customer trust.

Deterioration of Cybersecurity

Undermining U.S. Support for Internet Freedom

“As the birthplace for so many of these technologies, including the internet itself, we have a responsibility to see them used for good,” then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a 2010 speech launching a campaign in support of internet freedom. But while “the US government promotes free expression abroad and aims to prevent repressive governments from monitoring and censoring their citizens,” the New American report notes, it is “simultaneously supporting domestic laws that authorize surveillance and bulk data collection.” The widespread collection of data, which has a chilling effect on freedom of expression, is precisely the kind of activity for which the U.S. condemns other countries…

The report makes a number of recommendations to address the problems the NSA’s spying has created. These include strengthening privacy protections for Americans and non-Americans, developing clear policies about whether and under what legal standards it is permissible for the government to secretly install malware on a computer or network, and working to restore trust encryption systems and standards.

RTFA for the details, cause and effect, intelligent response to corruption.

All make good sense. All reflect standards advocated for generations by United States constitutionalists and progressives. All get lip-service from the two political parties we’re allowed – and secretly, privately, subverted by elected representatives from both.

Yes, there are degrees of difference. The truly fascist-minded generally gravitate to the Republican Party,.e.g., Dick Cheney or Ted Cruz. The language of liberty is so thoroughly ingrained in our culture they adopt the simple-minded convention that military security and secret police are defining characteristics of the liberties they blather about.

Leaving the rest of us the task of getting Big Brother off our backs by the few legitimate means we can access. Like voting for the lesser of two evils over and over again.

Thanks, Mike

Be true to your school

Barrowford

A letter sent to pupils at a Lancashire primary school along with their key stage two test results has gone viral on social media sites.

The letter to pupils at Barrowford Primary School in Nelson told them the tests do not always assess what makes them “special and unique”…

Head teacher Rachel Tomlinson said she had been “absolutely astounded” by the reaction in social media and elsewhere.

Mrs Tomlinson said she found the letter on a blog from the US posted on the internet…

Letter to pupils:

Please find enclosed your end of KS2 test results. We are very proud of you as you demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried your very best during this tricky week.

However, we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you… the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do.

They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture.

They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day.

They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school.

They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends.

They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best… the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.

So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart.

The head denied the letter was telling pupils that test scores did not matter.

“We never give pupils the message that academic attainment isn’t important – what we do is celebrate that we send really independent, confident, articulate learners on to the next stage of their school career.”

Right on, right on, right on!

Richard Dawkins & Neil deGrasse Tyson in a dialogue about alien life

I’ve been fortunate over a number of segments in my life to witness – even take a small part in – conversations like this. Not in front of an audience. Not as part of a public dialogue; but, in the context of what historically has been called a “salon”.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away. Well, New England, actually. Where the talent pool for discussions like this is more accessible than most of the country.

Thanks, Mike

1 in 4 Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it

Three million more people have been diagnosed with diabetes since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last took count in 2010. That brings the total number of Americans with diabetes to a whopping 29 million…Though large, the numbers aren’t all that surprising; the rates of diabetes 1 and 2 have been rising for several years now.

But the 29 million figure, featured in a CDC report published this week, is just the people who have been diagnosed. Many more likely have the disease but are unaware — and undiagnosed.

The CDC estimates that of the estimated 12.3 percent of the adult population with diabetes, one in four don’t know they have it. That’s not to mention some 86 million people who have prediabetes, 15 to 30 percent of whom the CDC says will develop type 2 diabetes within five years…

The resulting medical complications from diabetes and prediabetes total more than $245 billion in healthcare costs each year.

The CDC’s Ann Albright says one of the only ways Americans can chip away at these worrisome trends is to improve dietary habits. Even those with prediabetes can avoid the fate of an official diabetes diagnosis by making simple changes, like losing weight and eating healthier.

“Some of the strongest evidence suggests that small changes — like losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight if you’re overweight — can make the biggest difference,” Albright explained.

“Invest in foods that are nutritious,” Albright added, “like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.”

I probably qualify as prediabetic – though much less so than I used to. A couple of sedentary gigs last few years before retirement left me a lot heavier and getting less exercise than was customary most of my life. Fortunately, my better half does a serious job of encouraging not only sounder nutrition; but, more exercise. I grew new habits as simple as portion control, deriving self-satisfaction from managing a small and useful part of diet oversight.

Steadily, consistently, I lose about 6 pounds a year. Have been for about a decade.

I don’t understand people who whine that a healthy diet is twice as expensive as fast food. Yes, it’s difficult if you’re living on the road as I did for a number of years. But, if you’re home for breakfast and supper, you’re sensible enough to brown bag it for lunch – we ain’t all organic; but, we also spend less on food than we did even a few years ago. And, nowadays, I’m home at lunchtime which allows for a hot meal prepared by me.

Here’s a link to the CDC’s report [.pdf]. Graphic, simple, useful.