OPINIONATRIX…because my opinions dominate

{July 26, 2008}   Sticker Shock…

It has now been about a week since the law requiring all fast food chains in NYC to post calories on their menu boards went into effect, and I feel pretty safe in saying that many New Yorkers are experiencing “sticker shock.” 400 calories in a low fat muffin?! Are you kidding me? YIKES!!!!

I don’t really know how I feel about this particular piece of legislation. On the one hand it aims to help people make healthier choices, but I would argue that those of us who care, are already aware that a double quarter pounder with cheese is not a healthy dinner. Sure, I have spoken to many friends who have abstained from a Starbucks pastry after finding out it had enough calories to count as a meal, but I can’t help but feel that there are other things that need to be done in addition to help all New Yorkers achieve better health.

Research has shown that Obesity tends to affect those in poorer neighborhoods. This is obviously due to the fact that fresh and healthy food is often unavailable, while fast food restaurants are overly abundant. Perhaps a better place to start would have been finding a way to get produce into these areas at affordable prices. California is now trying to enact legislation that forbids any new fast food restaurants to open in poor neighborhoods – this seems like a much more direct approach, no? I honestly believe that children (and adults) from poor backgrounds often eat fast food out of necessity. I think anyone would be hard pressed to argue that the best food around can be found in a Burger King! Fast food chains are cheap and easy. Faced with the decision to buy apples at $2.39 per lb. or taking the kids to McDonalds where they can get a meal for under a dollar, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the real problem here.

All that being said, I have found the hubbub and water-cooler conversations that this law has inspired to be pretty interesting. I hope that faced with a downturn in sales chain restaurants may add some healthier fare to their menus. Starbucks recently added healthy, protein packed smoothies and even though they taste pretty gross (in my opinion) I have to applaud their efforts.

So I guess I straddle the line on this one. I like the opportunity to be informed about my food choices, but I think that this has to be just a first step in a long journey in order for real effective change to occur. Hear that Mayor Bloomberg? OK, now get on it!


Among all this talk of political campaigns, the climate crisis, and a downward facing economy, you’ve gotta love NY Magazine for this awesome little article. The basic gist of the article is they interviewed a bunch of different kids who run lemonade stands about “the lemonade business.” The kids give the absolute greatest answers to the reporters’ questions. I think the following is my favorite exchange:

How did you lure customers? WILL: We made up a word that was Oreo and lemonade: OREONADEOL!
Does it work? WILL: Sort of. We have a lot of customers, and a few were hobos. SAM: No customers were hobos.
How did you know what to charge? SAM: My personal financial advice is 25 cents, because everyone can afford it. Even if your allowance is $1, you will be able to afford four glasses. Also, you can make a classy combo with Oreos, or do three glasses for 50 cents.
Do you have advice about giving good customer service? SAM: You might want to joke with them. WILL: But not a lot. Sam does it too much. SAM: You know it’s good if they point their finger at you, “Ahahahaha.” Laughing is contagious.
Do you enjoy having lemonade stands? SAM: If there’s a definition of fun, that would be the definition of it.


I don’t think I ever successfully ran a lemonade stand (or any business for that matter), but my sister and I did once try to sell a concoction we cooked up in our kitchen called “sweet milk.” Essentially we took some milk, added any other ingredients we could find and stirred… not surprisingly, no one stopped to buy any. Not even my mother would try it (she used the “I’m on a diet” excuse). Come to think of it, I don’t even think we tried any. Clearly we were not natural chefs (or businesswomen).

My only other experience with “sales” were the toy sales my siblings and I would hold in which we tried to sell each other our old toys. I was actually VERY good at this, though I must admit that by being the oldest I probably had the upper hand. I once managed to sell my sister 2 one dollar bills for 1 ten dollar bill, which I later got in trouble for and was made to “refund.” Stupid parents! They ruined everything…

I guess the real reason I love pieces like this is because it’s so much fun to read a humorous article that triggers memories that I have somehow managed to forget. I truly believe there is nothing more important than our pasts (and by association our memories) because it is those experiences that have shaped who we become. Granted, I don’t know how much can be learned from my unsuccessful foray into the “sweet milk” business or my underhanded money making schemes at the expense of my siblings, but nonetheless at least I learned at an early age that perhaps business just isn’t my thing.

With all the media coverage and superstar status that has been bestowed upon the 2008 presidential candidates, it is sometimes hard to remember that they are just regular people. It is for this reason that I loved this article published in the Sydney Morning Herald. In it Malia – Barack’s 10 year old daughter – talks about how her dad embarrasses her by shaking her friends’ hands. Malia then goes on to say:

“You really don’t shake kids’ hands that much … You just wave or say hi.

This is so endearing, and it brings Obama back down to earth. It makes him look like more of a real guy, rather than a superstar politician.

I can totally relate to Malia! My Dad was SO embarrassing, it sometimes seemed he went out of his way to humiliate me in front of my friends. Seriously, I could write a book. And in true embarrassing style, he always made sure he went the extra mile. For example: it wasn’t bad enough that he collected dollhouses (which he displayed all over the house) – he insists on calling them folk art – he was also profiled in an article written in Miniatures Magazine. Also, not only did he own various “classic cars” throughout my childhood, but he drove me to school in them while blasting music from yesteryear and singing along – loudly. Sure people thought he was funny, if not somewhat eccentric, but can you imagine how mortifying this is for a teen? (If you have trouble imagining, trust me it was truly awful)

So to all the 10 year olds out there, I wish I could tell you that things will get better and your parents will mature along with you. Sadly, I am currently in my mid 20’s and my father continues to find ways to make me cringe… the upside though? As you get older, you start to care less and less. Dare I say, the things I used to be embarrassed by, I now find almost cute. Almost.

{July 7, 2008}   This is unbelievable

South Dakota has just passed a new law REQUIRING doctors to inform women that come in requesting an abortion that their fetus is a whole individual, and that abortion leads to a higher rate in suicide (a statistic which has never been proven).

Abortion always brings up mixed feelings for me. On the one hand, I am all for womens reproductive rights and whole heartedly believe that the right to an abortion is important and should not be abolished. However, on a personal level, it is not something I would ever be able to do. Of course never having been in the situation, I cannot say for sure, but I feel pretty confident in saying that for me abortion would not be an option.

What so angers me about this piece of legislation is that it serves to brow beat and apply pressure to women who have already come to a very hard decision. Furthermore, to require a doctor to tell a woman that

“the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being,” and that they have “an existing relationship with that unborn human being”

is infringing on a doctors’ freedom of speech. What if that doctor doesn’t believe a fetus is an unborn human being? Or what if the doctor thinks that an abortion is medically the best route for the mother, and has to first espouse this literature to in essence try to get the woman to change her mind?

This whole things just feels so wrong. Could you imagine if the same law were required for vaccinations? I know if my doctor went on about all the possible side effects that could result from each vaccination, I would definitely think twice about getting them, and that doesn’t even take the guilt of “terminating and unborn human being” into account.

I sincerely hope that this is not the beginning of a trend. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to force others to espouse it for them.

{July 4, 2008}   Time for a vacation?

Summer brings upon us a general desire to kick back, relax and take it easy. That’s why it’s called summer vacation! Technically I guess only students and teachers get a “real” summer vacation, but the rest of us can dream right? Or at least take a week or so to get away from it all and enjoy the season.

This year, with the economy being in the toilet you might think a vacation is out of the picture. I mean after all, the dollar is now so low I fear we may soon have to dig for it. Luckily there is another way to get away, see another country and really broaden your horizons. How? VOLUNTEER VACATIONS… that’s how.

There are now a number of companies that offer cheaper travel options in exchange for your volunteer service. There is truly something for everyone, from cleaning up the amazon trail to working on a kibbutz in Israel.

This is awesome! The fact that you are guaranteed an eye opening experience coupled with the opportunity to give back makes the vacation extra special. Sure beats sitting on a beach huh?

For more info on volunteer vacations click here.

{July 4, 2008}   HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

Happy Birthday America

{July 3, 2008}   OH NO!

Say it ain’t so!

According to the New York Times, Starbucks is going to close 600 stores in the coming year. This is horrendous news for a few of reasons:

1) Starbucks is my home away from home (free air conditioning and a friendly face – sign me up!)

2) Starbucks is my drug, addiction and lifeline

3) So many people are going to lose their jobs in an already difficult economic time (12,000 people to be exact)

I have always admired Starbucks – of course for their delicious coffee and yummy treats – but also because Howard Schultz (Pres. and CEO) strikes me as a truly genuine guy. I have heard him interviewed on countless occasions, and he really seems to care not only about his bottom line, but about the thousands of employees who work for him. Starbucks employees enjoy perks such as stock options and health care. I like that they are called partners, even if it’s just a moniker it is one that denotes respect (which they so deserve for dealing with difficult and demanding people all day).

I for one hope (and pray) that this is not the beginning of the end for Starbucks… I seriously have no idea what I would do without my daily coffee. And I am SERIOUSLY praying that my “home base” location is not one of the many affected stores – I am too attached to handle a change like that in my life at the moment.

et cetera