Leave Alec Baldwin Alone

Yet another “news” story that drives me nuts. What is the fascination with Alec Baldwin’s marital and family problems? I am all for knowing a bit about the entertainers that show up on the big small screens, but diving into their problems is not what I consider news or even remotely entertaining.

Are we just so enthralled by peeking into these famous peoples’ lives? Do we get a kick out of seeing that yes, even famous people have problems? Maybe deep down (or perhaps not so deep) we want to see these people that seemingly have more than us in life, at least in money and fame, get knocked of their pedestal? Whatever it is, the media loves to run with it because obviously people are eating it up.

I wonder what gets said in the entertainment news editors office when a new tidbit of hurtful gossip blossoms into something they consider newsworthy. “Hey, looks like the Baldwin divorce is heating up. How can we exploit this and make their lives that much worse?”

Not that I condone what Alec said in his voice mail to his daughter; I don’t. I ask you though, who hasn’t said something anger that they later regret? Especially when dealing with kids! We are all just lucky no one cares enough to post our recording online and have it make national news. Give the guy a break and let them deal with their problems behind closed doors, in counseling, or however they need to; not in the public headlines. This coverage is definitely not helping things.

Will the media mongers feel a sense of accomplishment if they get Alec to finally get off 30 Rock as he has tried in an effort to focus on his family issues? Or, will it take Alec losing completely custody rights of his daughter to get that thrill they need? Why do we feed these animals the hits to their articles that get them looking for this kind of trash?

Hey, life isn’t always a rosy, but we don’t need to make it worse either. I too check out the accident as I drive by, but I don’t stop in the middle of the street and throw out insults to make them feel worse. Find ways to help the broken family deal with their hurt, not throw salt on the wound and tug at it to make it worse.

Winter Driving Isn’t Rocket Science

Winter has finally arrived in full force where I live. Some of you may have already had some big snowfalls, but yesterday was the first here in the Rocky Mountains for us. I enjoy all seasons really, so winter is neither good nor bad for me. I like the cold, I enjoy snow and I even enjoy driving in snow. I know, something is off in my head you are thinking. What I don’t enjoy is the drivers that have no sense about how to change their driving styles for the road conditions.

How hard is it really to recognize that when their is some snowfall and the temperatures drop that road conditions just might be a little less favorable than normal? Ice is not your car’s best friend, trust me. No amount of engineering into the roads and snow removal equipment efforts is going to completely remove the patches that can send your car a flyin’. I leave of the “when you least expect it” purposely here – because you should, EXPECT IT! If you allow for a little extra time in your commute to wherever you are headed, you can drive like a sane sharer of the road and avoid sliding your car around me, which is what I really care about.

Oh, I know, you have that wonderful SUV that makes you feel big and important, and impervious to any road conditions being a problem. Trust me, you are the worst ones on the road. You think 4WD is going to help you stop any faster? Little tip: nope. In fact, you have such a high center of gravity and bigger tires to go with that mammoth weighing tank you drive that you actually need MORE distance to stop than a smaller car. Uh oh, did I break your happy SUV owner bubble? Hey, I like enjoy 4WD on my truck too, but I also drive with some sense to keep that paint job intact.

As I said, I enjoy snow and the winter season. I have fond memories of sledding, snowball fights and forts, and playing in the snow throughout my childhood, and into my adulthood for that matter. I grew up in Washington State where snow was a plenty. Washington also has a lot of country road with big ditches for the regular rainfall we were so famous for. I also have fond memories of going out with my dad at each fresh snowfall and pulling cars out of those big ditches with our 4WD vehicles. And if you are from the Northwest, you know that most of those drivers were recent imports from California who didn’t realize you needed to slow down when there was snow on the road. Huh. I would have chalked that one up to common sense, but then I grew up in a state where we had “weather” 85% of the year.
So if you live in states that receive snow and ice, do us all a favor. Go find a big parking lot and do some practice driving. Get up to speed and put on your brakes, hard. Yep, you slide. Get used to the feeling and learn how to turn into that slide, pump your brakes and leave enough room to stop without sliding. Learn how to drive a little slower if the conditions require it. Save yourself the heartache of dinging up your fenders, or worse getting into a major accident. You’ll appreciate it, and if you live around me, so will I.

Creative Statistics Revisited

The top headline on CNN today made me feel the need to revisit my comments about how statistics are creatively used, primarily in popular news reporting.

First, I need to ask you to put aside your feelings about the war in Iraq – this is not a discussion on whether we should be there or whether we should have ever gone there in the first place. I am not asking your opinion of whether troops should be pulled out right away or any of that. What I am asking is that you evaluate what is being said in this headline and decide whether it was skewed according to the agenda of the reporter and likely CNN in general.

Creative Statistics Revisited

The headline states that “Most” what the withdrawal by 2008 or sooner, which is seemingly a fair statement. Read the first line of the summation next: “Nearly six in 10 Americans…” What exactly does nearly mean? Typically close to or so close that you could assume it has reached that number. If you read the article, there are plenty of other statistics quoted for various points, but we are never given the exact number that justifies their statement of “nearly.” Update: They have now added that it is 58% to the inside headline.

What bothers me is that a slim majority in a poll that likely has a margin of error that could drop it under 50% majority does not constitute the claim of “most.” Most indicate a vast majority such as 7 in 10 or higher. Again, this is not a question of your stance on the war and political situation, but on the slanted reporting habits that are clearly aimed at laying the groundwork to a political party change in the white house in this coming election. CNN has a clear agenda, just read between the headlines each day and see how things are reported. Every republican or independent party or individual has a negative spin regardless of the meat of the item being reported, and the opposite is typically true of anything from the Democrats.

Creative Statistics Revisited

I like to think of myself as a conservative independent, so this type of reporting always bothers me. I never vote by party and I try to be educated and vote for candidates that most closely represent my opinions on important issues. Unfortunately, I don’t have the general public makes enough effort to get to the facts and often takes headlines at face value. That belief pains me because news agencies so clearly have lost all ability to report in an unbiased fashion. This goes for news agencies on both sides of the fence.

So, once again, read carefully any time you see stats quoted or referenced to justify a point. Expect that most reporting may be a bit shady, and you will likely be closer to the truth.

Traveling Long Distance With Kids

I am currently traveling to the merry land of Disney for a family vacation, so we are getting plenty of “quality” time in the car on the trip there. Quality, of course, is a loose term to describe the periodic calm between the kid’s grumpy phases from so many hours in the car. I really have nothing to complain about, and I have a new appreciation for what my parents went through.

These days we have electronic crutches to help get us through the long distance drives with kids. Sure, we still deal with repeated “how much longer” and “are we there yet” whines from the back seats, but creating quiet distractions is much easier these days. We have the portable DVD player and a video iPod to keep the two middle kids distracted. The youngest has been better than we could have dreamed for such a long drive.

This makes me think back to what it was like 25 years ago when I was as young as some of my kids.

First, we drove a 1974 Toyota Corolla station wagon that my dad paid $500 for used and we did a little work on it to get keep it running. This was the compact style, so no backward seats in the rear (thankfully). Because there were three of us siblings, that meant we were packed in the rear set, and someone had the “hump.” You know what I am talking about. Knees shoved up high and uncomfortable, or spread to the side causing constant complaints from your brother or sister that you are in “their space.” My family today drives a Dodge Grand Caravan, meaning plenty of seat space, room to spread out the legs and plenty of storage for the luggage.

Next was the temperature issue. I have some discomfort where the AC is currently not hitting the back of my legs, but overall it is a pleasant 70-75 or so in the car while 102 degrees outside the car. No complaints here. Sure, we had AC in that car as a kid, but of course, dad didn’t turn it on. No, back then the AC took too much power from the engine, cost too much in gas, and in general could cause the engine to overheat if we left it on too long. Thus the phrase was often coined, “we have 4-40 AC”¦open up all 4 windows and go 40.” So, this meant we sweated our”¦well, let’s just say it was hot and miserable. Long vacation driving trips in the summer were usually dreadfully hot. Along with the heat, with the windows open driving 60 was also loud and headache forming. I am sure we contributed to the headache factor in other ways as well.

Here is one to add to that whole mess. I remember as a kid going on a scouting trip that required a few vans to transport kids and gear. I happened to be in a van that was not only sans-AC but also had problems overheating when going up long hills. The only remedy was to turn on the heat, full blast when going up the hill. That’s right, on top of the already sweltering heat from outside, we had to turn on the heater to pump it away from the engine directly into our hot box. Needless to say, we looked like a bunch of dogs with our heads out the window and tongues out traveling down the road.

Now back to the distraction topic. My kids get the luxury of surprise toys, games, books, and some added electronic time wasters; they have it easy. My parents did the old fashioned car version of just some books and homemade travel games to keep us occupied. I have nothing against what they did, in fact, we still throw those in the mix, just that they didn’t last all that long. Halfway into the trip, if we were lucky, all that was boring and we were looking for something more to pass the time. We still deal with the kid boredom, but I swear by the ability to show movies; it simply just passes the time. Definitely a luxury. Definitely just plain awesome.

Here ‘s another big difference, the speed limit. I know that 65 and 75 mph is not as fuel efficient as the old standard of 55 mph. Guess what, even the semi-tree hugger that I try to be I’ll give up a little fuel economy to get to the destination faster. Shaving off an hour or two from a long trip makes a huge difference. Don’t believe me? You must either a) not have kids, or b) have kids much older now and your memory is failing!

Here’s one difference that is admittedly “better” in the sense of safety, but was nicer before seatbelts. We are stringent enforcers of our kids (and us) always wearing our seatbelts. It’s simply not worth the risk. Back as kids, we were much looser on this necessity. We wore them, but we also took breaks while traveling to stretch out or get things out of the back. My wife remembers driving in the family VW Vanagon on long trips where kids would take turns sleeping on the floor. Now that could be nice, but I can’t bring myself to loosen up the seatbelt rules to let it happen.

Ever had sick kids in the car? Now that is a joy of all joys. Avoiding the gory details, along with a whiney, upset kid, car sickness is a mess that we would all be happy to pass on. Nothing beats the persistent odor of spew permeating the car for hours after the event as well. We have gained some wisdom from past experience and include a “sick bag” near the kids”¦just in the case; especially when traveling anywhere winding roads.

At this point I have to give myself a virtual pat on the back; there is one way I am different from the “old” generation of guys. I can handle taking frequent stops to make the ride more do-able. Jeff Foxworthy, among many comedians, has a great bit about guys and their need to make record time from point A to point B. I like to get to the destination as quick as the next guy, but I also am willing to sacrifice a little time in the interest of empty bladders and happiness. We plan strategic park visits along the way for kids to stretch their legs and work out the wiggles. See, we men can learn some things.

These are just a few differences I can remember between traveling in days past and now, but I am sure there are many, many more. I am thankful for the improvements, believe me. What can you remember from days gone by that was pain or simply unbearably difficult?

Lowering the Legal Drinking Age?

Rach, the “teen”

My hall has had five kids go to the hospital in the first six weeks of college. Everyone who lives in this hall is underage. Still, every weekend a group of us meet in the common room and we all walk together to the frat that’s having the best party. Clearly, underage drinking is a problem on my campus. But we’re not alone, this happens at almost every college.

We have had lots and lots of meetings and assemblies on how to take care of a drunk person, the signs of alcohol poisoning and when it’s time to call 911. But we haven’t had a single meeting on how to drink responsibly. This bothers me, not everyone experiments, but those who do, are not told how to manage themselves. Those who don’t drink are taught how to manage the drunk kids. Besides being unfair, this sucks for those of us who want to be responsible.

Lowering the Legal Drinking Age?

I’m angry that I went to a school that has greek life and a partying culture. The thing is, a lot of college presidents want to lower the drinking age. The president of my college isn’t on that list. He might or might not want to lower the age, I don’t know. But what I do know, is that drinking is a huge culture at my college, and yet the frats and sports houses are open every weekend letting freshman in. And that makes me regret my decision to come here. To be honest, the fact that there was a Greek life here had no effect on my decision, I didn’t even think about it.

So “mom” and “dad,” what do you think about the drinking age, the college presidents who want to lower it, and schools that have such a huge culture of drinking?

Mary, the “mom”

I have such mixed emotions about this.

I wonder why your college spends time teaching about how to take care of a drunk person instead of how to drink responsibly. I expect that their lawyers tell them that it’s unacceptable to lecturing on how to drink responsibly to an audience of students for whom drinking is illegal. That’s a shame, given the reality.

I wonder if those kids would drink so much if it wasn’t taboo – if there was a pub and having a beer or two was no big deal. Maybe the “greeks” still would, but at least the rest of you would have something else to do on the weekend.

I wonder how “we” can let an 18-year-old risk their lives serving in the military, but not allow them a beer.

Lowering the Legal Drinking Age?

I wonder how “we” can consider 17-year-olds old enough to marry and have a child, but not old enough to toast with a glass of champagne. (Of course, alcohol may well be how they got in the mess in the first place and, given the pregnancy, they shouldn’t be toasting anyway.)

I wonder how “our” system could actually charge nice kids like you with a crime if the authorities caught you having a beer with your friends.

Then I read what Stephen Wallace, Chairman of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) has to say on the issue and I think my wonderings are outdated. I was in high school (17 years old) at the time when the states were raising the drinking age. Having grown up with the drinking age being 18, I resented the change. I guess I still harbor that teenage resentment. But, as a parent, I have to take Mr. Wallace seriously. His statistics are eye-opening. The driving fatalities stat is the one that bothers me the most. The thing is, even if you trust your own kid to not drive drunk, what about everyone else on the roads? And, there is no way I think high school kids should be drinking and the lower the drinking age, the easier access to alcohol becomes for the high school set.

So, while I have some reservations about it, I think the legal drinking age needs to stay where it is. And, bottom line, I have trouble believing that this effort is going to get any real traction. As, for the culture of drinking, I have no idea how we fix that – maybe I’ll ponder it over a glass of wine later.

Lowering the Legal Drinking Age?

Brad, the “dad”

Really interesting, Rachel – and really disturbing. Because the Valkyrie came home from college just this weekend and told me about the three boys that live right across the hall from her in their co-ed dorm, and how two of them are drunk pretty much all the time, and the third about half the time. And that’s not really very unusual in college c. 2008, she tells me. La, la.

So I’m worried. Plenty worried.

I have to be honest: I was a pretty enthusiastic drinker in my twenties (post-college in my case, but so what?), and boy howdy, I was good at it. Lots of parties, and lots of stupid decisions. Inexplicably, I survived, and for some reason I lost the ability to function with alcohol in my system right around the age of 30 – apparently I’d used of all my Get Out of Hangover Free cards in less than a decade – so alcohol was a relatively rare thing in our house by the time the Valk and the Elf came along (they actually don’t believe my “back when I was drinking like a fish” stories; that’s just not me, they say.). But I know how easy it is to fall into, even for smart and stable kids; Frankly, I know how much fun it can be – at first when you’re young and bullet-proof. So yeah: it worries me.

But the Valk’s college isn’t quite like yours. The Chancellor has openly, repeatedly stated that he’s against lowering the drinking age – he thinks it’s just a ploy to avoid taking responsibility – and a big part of the school’s (apparently highly ineffective) orientation program was about not drinking, as well as dealing with the drunks you’d run into. They’re trying to cope by putting policies into place that isn’t quite ‘zero tolerance’ – and I agree with them, I think zero tolerance is a stupid, modern-day variation on Prohibition, and doomed from the outset. But they have already suspended one kid (for a first-night-at-college binge that resulted in alcohol poisoning) and said “Al-A-Teen or expulsion” to two others (including one of the guys across the hall) in her dorm alone. And AA has meetings right on campus, every night. What’s more, the RA’s have no trouble confronting the drinkers directly, and the Valk swears that these drinking kids, and others like them, are being ostracized from most activities. Binging is hugely popular with a small group, it seems, but avoided and even shunned by the majority — including, by the way, the majority of Greeks on campus.

So she says. And so I believe. Because I have absolutely no alternative but to trust she’s not into it. After all, at this distance, there’s nothing I can do. And as for changing the culture that says, “Drinking until you’re so hammered you throw up and fall over in your own sick is FUN!”…heck, I don’t know how it got to that point in the first place, so how can it be fixed? We just have to shiver in our jammies and hope that even the semi-healthy students will see just how dangerous and stupid binge drinking is, and take a step back into the Land of the Occasional Beer.

But truthfully? Confidence is low, Ground Control. Confidence is low.

Another gold mining project gets environmental approval in Burkina Faso

Canadian-junior Roxgold (TSXV: ROG) jumped another hurdle in its pursuit to become a gold miner in Burkina Faso with approval of its environmental and social impact assessment of the Yaramoko gold project.

Another gold mining project gets environmental approval in Burkina Faso

It’s not a shocker but nonetheless importantly pushes Roxgold closer to construction of its Yaramoko gold project in Burkina Faso, where near 10 mines have been approved and built in as many years.

Yaramoko increasingly looks like it will add another notch to Burkina’s pro-mining permitting performance in the past decade or so.

John Dorward, Roxgold President and CEO, told Mineweb that so long as it wrapped up an agreement for Burkina Faso’s right to a 10-percent free carried interest in the project and got its exploitation permit in the coming months it would as long planned break ground by year end, possibly in November.

“We still think we’re on track for breaking ground in the forth quarter,” Dorward said.

Finances

Roxgold is in a healthy cash position. With about $30 million at hand, and also a $75 million debt mandate, it looks to have basically covered expected capital costs of the Yaramoko project.

In a recent feasibility study Roxgold estimated pre-production capital costs of $107 million to build and develop Yaramoko as an underground mine forecast to produce about 100,000 ounces gold a year from a high-grade gold deposit with reserves of 759,000 ounces gold @ 11.83 g/t gold.

It seems reasonable to expect Roxgold to bolster its finances with a cash cushion, however. Dorward said if Roxgold raised cash it wouldn’t be much, and it wasn’t looking at funding sources such as gold streams or royalties.

Another gold mining project gets environmental approval in Burkina Faso

“Taking some of the cream and giving it to another party is inappropriate for us at this stage,” Dorward said, noting he believes the Yaramoko property has the potential to yield more ounces gold for possible mine feed. For example, Roxgold is expanding a gold discovery in the Bagassi South zone, also on its Yaramoko property.

Roxgold shares are in a strong position relative to its peers and considering a harsh market for juniors, albeit one that favours near production gold stories like Roxgold’s. It’s easy to see that were it too want to, Roxgold could build a cash cushion through a share issuance without heavy dilution. It’s marketcap is C$191 million, which is very notable among pre-production juniors, and at current pricing it could raise, for example, ~C$20 million with around 10-percent dilution (which is not to say it is planning to do so, only that it likely could do so quite easily).

Mine

Dorward expects an 11-month mine build, putting possible first gold next year.

The deposit is a high-grade vein deposit hosted in granite. The average width of the vein is about four metres and it extends to some 900 metres below surface. Reserves are within 400 metres of surface.

The economics of mining the deposit – using primarily long-hole stoping – give a net present value of $250 million, after taxes and discounted at five percent assuming $1,300/oz gold, and a 48.4 percent IRR.

Total cash costs are set at $467 an ounce gold or $167 a tonne, life of mine, with the bulk of that accounted for by underground mining.

In this it will be interesting to see if, assuming Yaramoko goes to production, Roxgold can tease out more juice from project economics by managing dilution. The reserve includes 21 percent external dilution – that is essentially rock either of the gold mineralized vein.

Of course the less it takes of this near waste rock (there’s some gold in it), the better cash costs will be, all other things being equal.

Another gold mining project gets environmental approval in Burkina Faso

Dorward struck a balanced position on this possibility, saying he was “comfortable where we are.”

But he did note that the contact, as you would expect, between granite and gold-bearing quartz vein was stark and that given differential strength between granitic host and gold bearing vein, “We anticipate we’ll have a nice preferential blast.”

That is, ore will separate from wall rock nicely.

But, cognizant of the bumpy nature of most all mine ramp-ups, especially underground ones, Dorward emphasized caution and gave no promises.

“We need to learn to crawl before we walk.”

Hot Air Balloons, the Internet and the Future of Your Business

Let’s go on a journey down the proverbial rabbit hole to the not-so-distant future of telecommunications– a future where network servers float in the clouds (I mean physical, made-from-water-vapor clouds) on hot air balloons, flying drone Internet access points whiz overhead in third-world countries, privately-owned satellites receive and transmit every “like” and “follow”, and a cackling Mark Zuckerberg is swimming in a vault of gold coins like a hoodie-loving Scrooge McDuck. This is the future that has been laid before us.Hot Air Balloons

(Seriously. Google and Facebook actually have plans for these things in the works).

But let’s climb back out of the rabbit hole for a second and see how and why we get to these ends, and what it means for you.

The Internet of Everything

The point has been said so many times it’s almost lost all meaning, but I’ll say it again: the growth and expansion of communications technology is almost unfathomably exponential. And the growth in the number of users of this technology is just as astounding. All of this exponentially astounding growth is forcing everyone and everything to operate on and from the place where we tend to shove every rambling thought, ill-conceived photo and haphazard money-making scheme: the Internet. And the more you need the Internet, the more everyone else needs the Internet, and when people need more Internet, they have to make more Internet (make sense?); hence the Google/Facebook Air & Space Program mentioned above.

Hot Air Balloons

Telecom’s role

Not to be left out, the world of telecommunications is slowly but surely doing the same, with carriers phasing out landlines and unified communications looking like the hippest thing since The Charleston. Both of those realities mean the Internet, and VoIP and SIP technology specifically, will be the singularity from which a vast majority of communication — business and residential — emanates.

How to prepare

First, it’s important to remember the future we realize is usually some compromise of the one envisioned by dreaming architects and the limitations of practicality and reasonability. But while we may not know the specifics, we do know this is the path our society is walking/running down, and there are things businesses can do to ease the transition into this bold new world:

Social media & application integration. Not just for marketing and PR, Google, Facebook and other third parties are developing apps that will be critical for internal and external communication. Think baby steps!

Hot Air Balloons

  • Device integration. Cisco and other companies predict there will be 50 billion devices connected Internet by 2020, and you can bet those people will want to be able to use their devices at work. Work with your IT team to get necessary infrastructure in place to support truly personal devices.
  • Communication integration. Where can your business streamline communication processes? Are you using one platform for instant messaging, one for email, one for voice, and one for video? Consider consolidating communication by looking into a unified communications platform. The more varied your programs/software, the more difficult integration and upgrading become.
  • Stay informed. Just because you don’t need a certain technology now doesn’t mean you won’t need it in the future. Look ahead and draw informed conclusions about news and trends; do that and you’ll rarely find yourself or your business unprepared for change.

Do these four things (there are probably a few other steps you can take that would help as well), and you’ll find the future isn’t such a scary place after all. Plan right, and you may even find yourself with a leg up on your top competition!

Neither Shaken Nor Stirred, How Bond’s Brand Stayed True While Changing

We’ve been on a James Bond kick recently, and with Skyfall breaking the record for biggest Bond film opening weekend, it’s worth discussing how the brand has evolved.

More than once in my relatively brief advertising career, I’ve heard the words “It should be sort of… sort of James Bond-ish.” or “You know Double-O seven s%@*, man.” The iconic character that became a brand has evolved into an adjective. And this is the greater truth. After almost 60 years of being in existence, the James Bond brand is one of the most easily recognizable and desired the world over.

Neither Shaken Nor Stirred, How Bond’s Brand Stayed True While Changing

Class. Style. Technologically-advanced elegance with an edge. Women love him and men want to be him. So why wouldn’t companies want to hitch a horse to Bond’s proverbial wagon?

In fact they have been doing so for decades. Bond has hawked everything. From cars to cell phones, and airlines to eyelash curlers, big brands have been picking up the tab for Bond films since the conception of product placement.

Still, the premier of the new Bond film “Skyfall” this past weekend will mark a seemingly momentous occasion. And NO, not because it’s the first time Bond has reached for a beer instead of his classic vodka martini (It’s not by the way…Stay tuned.), but perhaps due to the sheer mass of the product placement agreement between Heineken and the movie’s producers.

All told, the deal netted a reported $45 million for the film, and some have speculated that without the influx of cash from the Dutch Beer Brewery, the movie never would have happened.

So with all that being said, it would be obvious why the film’s producers would risk shunning one of the most iconic facets of their character. “Shaken, not stirred” gets traded in for “In a chilled pint, please,” much to the chagrin of Bond purists. And all you need to do to figure out why is to follow the dollars, right? Well maybe there is a larger lesson to be learned here…

Even the biggest and best brands should be malleable

Neither Shaken Nor Stirred, How Bond’s Brand Stayed True While Changing

Truth be told, the Bond brand is unique in the way that it is ALWAYS evolving. Each actor who has portrayed Bond brought their own special touch to the collective Bond persona. The move from Pierce Bronsan to Daniel Craig saw the brand go from “Hokey and Charming” to “Full-on Badass” But the brand has always had its pillars intact. Maintaining integrity is vital to keeping a strong consumer base, but sometimes in order to reach new customers, it can be appropriate to delineate from the norm.

A terrific brand always brings with it feverish loyalty, which can be a double-edged sword. In this case, the film’s producers took a calculated risk (albeit, one with a lot of zeroes on the end of it). Essentially, they gambled on potentially compromising an aspect of the Bond brand and alienating the core base in order to acquire the necessary means to make a quality film…One that would be worthy of attracting new fans to the franchise. Still, in 1962’s “Dr. No” Sean Connery ordered a Red Stripe. And the world didn’t explode. Imagine that. If nothing else, the announcement of a tactic like this got the online world conversing about both Heineken and the movie. We’ll have to wait and see if it pays off…but I’m guessing for a substantial opening weekend.

Like any good Bond storyline, this one has it’s own dose of mystery and intrigue. Did the influx of cash allow the film’s producers to make the movie they dreamed about? And will the image of James Bond holding that green bottle influence people the world over to opt for a new drink? Time will tell.

Personally, I’m more of a whiskey guy anyway…. But only because that’s what Don Draper drinks. Obviously.

Kraft Sizzling Salads Review

How you tried Kraft Sizzling Salads yet? If not, you don’t know what you are missing.

Kraft Sizzling Salads are uniquely Canadian entree salads from Kraft Foods.

Winter holidays are the perfect time to try these delicious entree salads to keep your cravings at bay and the holiday weight loss to minimum.

Kraft Sizzling Salads are convenient salad kits that come with cooking sauce for your chicken or other protein and perfectly paired salad dressing for your greens and vegetables.Kraft Sizzling Salads Review

The salad entrees come in 4 great varieties:

  • Asian Chicken Sizzling Salad kit includes Teriyaki Ginger Cooking Sauce and Toasted Sesame Dressing
  • Chicken Caesar Sizzling Salad kit includes Cracked Black Pepper Cooking Sauce and Classic Caesar Dressing
  • Southwest Sizzling Chicken Salad kit includes Spicy Fajita Cooking Sauce and Barbecue Ranch Dressing
  • Greek Chicken Sizzling Salad kit includes Lemon Oregano Cooking Sauce and Mediterranean Feta Dressing

To make delicious warm salads all you need is 12 minutes and 4 easy steps. Each Sizzling Salad kit makes up to 8 tasty entree salads.

Each package includes ingredients per salad and the preparation steps.

For this review I received from Kraft Canada two Kraft Sizzling Salad kits to try with my family.

First we tried Chicken Caesar Sizzling Salad.

We prepared two salads. Once as suggested with chicken and the other one with large shrimp. Both salads were equally delicious.

Second Sizzling Salad kit we tried was Asian Chicken Sizzling Salad.

Kraft Sizzling Salads Review

This time one salad was prepared again as suggested with chicken. The other salad was prepared with beef.

We enjoyed both Sizzling Salad kits, but my personal favorite was Asian style chicken with snow peas, mandarin oranges and spinach.

With the holidays coming I can’t wait to try new recipe from Kraft using their Caesar Sizzling Salad kit called Festive Turkey Caesar Sizzling Salad.

For Festive Turkey Caesar Salad You Will Need:

  • ½ lb. (225 g) boneless skinless turkey breasts, cut into strips
  • ½ tsp. oil
  • ¼ cup Sizzling Salads Cracked Black Pepper Cooking Sauce
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • ¼ cup croutons
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup Sizzling Salads Caesar Dressing
  • 1 Tbsp. Kraft 100% Parmesan Grated Cheese

Cook and stir turkey in ½ tsp. hot oil in large skillet on medium-high heat 6 to 7 min. or until done.

Add cooking sauce; stir on low heat 30 sec. to 1 min. or until turkey is evenly coated.

Combine remaining ingredients. Toss with dressing. Place on 2 plates. Top with turkey.

Substitute boneless, skinless turkey with leftover turkey from your holiday feast.
Simply toss the meat in the cooking sauce to coat and warm over low heat.

Special Extra:

Add 2 Tbsp. crumbled cooked bacon to salad.

The best part of the Sizzling Salad entrees is the flexibility and choice to customize your salads to your liking.

Kraft Sizzling Salads Review

You can replace the chicken in the Asian salad kit with pork, beef, shrimp or tofu.

Caesar salad kit will be delicious not only with chicken, but also with shrimp, Portobello mushroom or steak.

Customize the Southwest salad kit with Chorizo sausage, ground beef or steak instead of chicken.

Add more OPA! to the Greek salad kit with pork, steak or salmon.

So next time you are grocery shopping don’t forget to pick up one or two Sizzling Salad kits and give them a try.

Kraft Sizzling Salads are available at major grocery stores across Canada and the suggested retail price is $4.29

BELGIUM

Belgians are well known throughout the world for their chocolate. The first tales of this now famous Belgian chocolate date back to the 17th century, when the country was under Spanish ruling, and the cocoa, imported from South Africa, was only available to royalty. Presently chocolate is the most popular sweet on the globe, Belgium being the world’s 1′st chocolate exporter.

BELGIUM

Another aspect Belgians are famous for is their love of chocolate, waffles, beer, cheese and French fries, which they ofentimes consume together. This is actually a myth, no actual Belgian having regularly eaten all of the above at the same time. It is also said that the locals greatly value social etiquette, bringing flowers or chocolates for the host when visiting being expected. When it comes to how Belgians see themselves, the people tend to have a funny, self-deprecating sense of humor. A large number of movies, books and songs that exaggerate the clichés having been produced in the past years.

BELGIUM

There are three official languages in Belgium, each of them being prevalently spoken in different parts of the country: Dutch (spoken in the north), French (in the south) and German (in the north – east). Because of cultural pride, addressing someone from the south in dutch or someone from the north in french is considered to be somewhat offensive. One thing all Belgians have in common though is the appreciation of good beer, it is said that here are produced over 800 different types of beer, the average native drinking about 150 liters of the liquor each year. Other interesting facts about Belgians are the ones regarding proper etiquette, it is very important, if receiving a written invitation to an event, to also respond in the form of writing, as well as arriving on time and waiting for the host to direct the guest to his or her seat.

BELGIUM

One of the must-see tourist attraction in Belgium is “La Grand-Place”, the central square of Brussels, surrounded by architecturally impressive public and private buildings constructed mainly in the 17th century. The central square, measuring 100 meters in length and 68 meters in width, has been included in UESCO’s World Heritage Sites, among the buildings located here being Brussels’ Town Hall and the Breadhouse. Another interesting place to see in Belgium is the town of Durbuy, the smallest town in the world. The beauty of Durbuy lies in its beautiful old stone houses as well as in the pedestrian flowered and cobbled streets.