Thursday, 25 March 2010

Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber, Nelly Furtado, Nikki Yanofsky and many more in Canada's answer to Band Aid

In the same vein as Band Aid's Do they Know it's Christmas, a huge number of Canadian singers including Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber, Nelly Furtado and Olympic star Nikki Yanofsky have come to record a charity single to raise funds for Haiti's relief efforts.

Support Haiti by buying the single, video or T-shirt at Young Artists For Haiti. And be sure to pass it on so others can help too.

Posted via web from Bowyer's Bite-size Blogettes


Saturday, 20 March 2010

Travel Bite #4: Hotel Avante, Mountain View

I'm currently spending a couple of days relaxing in the Bay Area after attending the Cloud Connect conference. Usually I'd write about places I've been and sights I've seen, but I thought for a change I'd blog about the hotel I am staying in - Hotel Avante in Mountain View. I got my stay here through the cheap hotel site hotwire, for a very reasonable $59 (39GBP) a night. One of the things about Hotwire is you get cheap prices but you don't find out the hotel until after you book (by area) - so I would never have known about this place - but boy am I glad I did. It's probably the best hotel I've ever stayed in!

So, what makes this hotel so special? The first thing you notice is the lobby, with comfortable sofas, reading tables stacked with copies of Time and Wired (this is Silicon Valley after all).

There is a sort of postmodern ambience about the place - retro typewriters and old cameras nestle alongside light orbs and funky modern art. The elevator doors are even a work of art in their own right.

I checked in and was very impressed on entering my hotel room. I flipped on the light switch by the door and was pleased to see a centre ceiling light which really illuminated the whole room - none of this running around the room to switch lamps on like most dingier hotel rooms.

And then I saw the desk... It has two glass panels to see into the drawers below. One drawer contains stationery and practical items.

The other is chock full of "executive toys" - a Slinky, an Etch a Sketch, some transparent playing cards, a Rubik's cube.

The hotel notepad says "IDEAS" over the top, with a stylized human brain. As someone who likes to get creative and innovative, I love this!

Everything about the room has been carefully thought out. There are two surge-protected power strips, so none of the usual contest for sockets.

The bedside table has a recessed area right by the pillow holding another ideas pad - perfect for late night inspiration or dream recording! 

I've been here over 24 hours now, and I'm still discovering new things.. A shelf in the cupboard contains some stick magnets and ball bearings to play with.

A hi-fi with a library of CDs you can borrow from the front desk. Toothbrush and toothpaste provided. The bedside table, as well as the requisite Holy Bible, contains a torch/flashlight and emergency flare - how random! The hotel TV is HD, and swivels around so you can watch it while working at the desk.

Speaking of which, the wi-fi is complimentary and fast. In fact there are four different wi-fi networks to choose from! This includes Google's free wide area wi-fi network serving the whole of Mountain View. We are in the home of the Googleplex here!

There is a great little outdoor swimming pool and hot tub/jacuzzi.

And a fitness room, and a relaxation lounge.

The bed is a very comfortable king-size, with more cushions and pillows than you could ever wish for. Every evening there is a complimentary happy hour bar, and the hotel lobby has a wine rack and every room has a corkscrew - no need to go out for supplies! This morning I had breakfast, which was a buffet with everything I could have wished for - eggs, sausages, bacon, pancakes, fresh fruit, bagels, toast, yogurts, cereals, pastries, juices & hot drinks. And what's more - it's free! This is almost unheard of in the US in my experience - most free breakfasts are continental and most cooked breakfasts cost extra.

The hotel is well located too - with plenty of stores, restaurants and bars in walking or driving distance along the road - the hotel is located on El Camino Real. And there's plenty to see in the area.. Silicon Valley, NASA Ames Center, the Computer History Museumthe Star Trek exhibition at The Tech in San Jose, Stanford University, and lots of great open spaces and countryside.

So why is this hotel so good? There is a sign outside the elevators with the hotel motto - they aim for your stay to be "Better than Expected".
And trust me, it really was! This is a great example of applying "Made to Stick" principles - making a clear, concise message for the employees to hold on to.

You can see some more photos at a higher resolution on my Flickr page.

Here's some more links to find out more:

Posted via email from Bowyer's Bite-size Blogettes


Friday, 19 March 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is about to hit the USA - great to see social change in action!

You may have seen my earlier post about Jamie Oliver winning the TED prize with his campaign to teach every child about food. I've just watched the UK campaign, the TV show Ministry of Food (in the UK you can watch it online via that link) and it blew me away. It tells the story of the struggles and successes of how one man went to Rotherham, where hardly anyone cooks, and educated and inspired hundreds if not thousands of people to cook, and to teach others around them. Not to mention transforming a few individuals lives along the way. It's really quite inspiring to realize that one person can make a difference, especially if we all just do it instead of imagining failure. And it's great to see a celebrity use their influence as a force for good in the world.

Watching the show you really do get the sense that this is the beginning of a grassroots cultural revolution. People are starting to wake up to how badly we've been treating our bodies with the food we eat.

The campaign has already taken root in cities across the UK, with a new food education centre opened in Bradford, and the campaign is starting in Australia too.

If you're in the USA or Canada be sure to watch Food Revolution, where Jamie goes to the unhealthiest town in America - Huntingdon, West Virginia, and tries to start the revolution there. Trailer above, it starts on ABC next Friday 26th March with a preview this Sunday.

And if you want to get involved, and especially if you can't or don't cook, then just watch some of these simple video recipes, try them and most importantly, pass it on.

You can support the campaign here (for Americans) or here (for Brits).

Get involved, and maybe we really can solve the world's obesity problems, if not for this generation, then at least for our children.

(And I hope I am not being to preachy, but it's rare that you see something that is so overwhelmingly a good thing. I feel everyone should know about it!)

Update: You can also check out the things we can learn from this from a career perspective in this article.

Posted via web from Bowyer's Bite-size Blogettes


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Teach every child about food - Jamie Oliver's call to action (#TED)

Please, watch this video, and pass it to everyone you know.

Jamie Oliver has been awarded the TED Prize 2010 to help make his mission to re-educate society about the importance of home cooking, fresh food and eating well.

This is a solvable problem, which every one of us can help with. Sign up to help our children and our children's children - in the USA, the UK and around the world.

Posted via web from Bowyer's Bite-size Blogettes