Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

“Can you super-size that please?”

At the risk of sounding un-PC and reinforcing a stereotype, it struck me as funny when a largish person (I think obese is a term with some stigma, although I’m confident she would fit the technical definition) who’s visiting the office for a week asks her nearest cube-mate whether there’s anyplace that will deliver lunch.

In San Francisco, most people who work in downtown office buildings go out for lunch to one of the many, many restaurants, delis, etc. that are squeezed into nearly every crevice that isn’t occupied by a Starbucks or office space. There are probably three or four dozen eateries within easy walking distance (a block or three) of our office, offering everything from cheap soup and sandwiches to exquisite dining.

All I could think when I heard this person ask about delivery was, “Perhaps if you walked a little more each day you would be in better shape. After all, you’re visiting one of the most walkable cities in the country, a city with more restaurants per capita than almost anywhere else, and it’s not even bloody raining or anything.

Since I’m already probably offending people, I might as well just go ahead and add that this woman was a Southerner. Now, before you cry foul and nail me to a piece of wood for my wanton sterotyping, let’s just reflect that nine of the ten states with the most obese Americans are Southern states, and yes, she was from one of those states.

In fact, I’m always struck by the astonishing difference when we travel to Missouri (#12 most obese state) and suddenly notice that we’re the thinnest people nearly everywhere we go, sometimes the only thin people!

I wonder if people who live in the South experience a similar wonder when they travel to the coasts and see more thin people.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Top 5

We Are Hunted
Interesting new music discovery site I happened upon.

Our Dream of Living Streams
A short video about some of the issue facing South Bay creeks from Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition.

Flowers Feed the Soul
A truly amazing Flash-based site for a flower service in Singapore.

Now here’s some yoga I could actually do

Sharing Information With Executives
A good read covering the following Executive Pet Peeves: 1) Numbers That Don’t Tie Out, 2) Misaligned Objectives, 3) Loyalty, 4) Errors, 5) Agenda. Written especially for analysts in the tech world, but containing some good advice for many workplaces. And indicative of many of the reasons to hate the corporate world. Or just people. [via MJ]

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Top 5

Quimby The Mouse by Chris Ware
An animated short produced for the recent “This American Life – Live!” broadcast. Best viewed in fullscreen mode. [3:30 min]

Bill O’Reilly Flips Out
Who ever said Bill O’Rielly has anger management issues? I guess he’s not a Sting fan.

Bathtub IV
A video using the tilt shift photography technique which makes the subject look like miniatures models. Combined with timing that makes it look like stop-frame animation, this makes a particularly interesting short film. Watch it in fullscreen, it’s really cool.

GoodGuide is a recommendation service focused on “safe, healthy, and green products.” It will tell you what chemicals are in your toothpaste, or if your socks are made with sweatshop labor. There’s an iPhone app as well, so you can check on items when you’re out shopping.

E Magazine’s Earth Talk column
The site’s design is atrocious, but this has long been one of the most informative columns around. It’s a Q&A format, so you send in an environmental question and their experts track down the answers for you, almost always in great depth. Very informative.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Top 5

History of the Internet
A good infographic-style history. Slightly lengthy, but really informative and visually compelling. Even I learned stuff I hadn’t known.

Lucas in Love
Well this explains a lot.

An Image Was Worth 1,000 Statistical Tables
Doctors don’t have a great record when it comes to properly washing their hands. I found this article on ways to change the behavior of doctors fascinating.

Wild Light
Very nice nature photography, all from the guy’s back yard in south Michigan. He’s got separate galleries of birds, bees, assorted bugs, ants, and even mosquitos. The bee shots alone are incredibly cool.

Achieve Your Big Goals With Incremental Persistence
I’m a real fan of this thinking: Chip away at it. I have tons of little side projects, some of which I’ve been working on for years. Some people roll their eyes and just walk away thinking I’m spreading myself too thin and I’ll never accomplish anything, let alone all of them. I disagree.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An alternative to normal antibacterial soaps

Velma had been trying to get me to stop using antibacterial soap for a while. For starters, some of the main bacteria-fighting ingredients in these soaps, such as Triclosan, can create dioxins, chloroform gas, and have other harmful effects. Triclosan may also be harmful to downstream inhabitants we humans so often forget. There is also an argument that regular use of antibacterial agents may cause some bacteria to evolve resistance, making one susceptible to "superbugs" that can't be beaten by our normal treatments.

My counter-argument has always been that there are some things you occasionally get on your hands that you want every possible weapon in your arsenal to help get off. So maybe you do want to minimize or eliminate your use of antibacterial soaps, not use them for everyday use. But hell, if I'm gonna clean up cat vomit, or wipe dog crap off my boot, or...worse (*shudder*), then I want something just short of an acid dip for afterwards.

Finally I found an alternative product that claims to be antibacterial and protect the environment. I've been using it for a few weeks now, and while I certainly haven't tested it in any scientific way (sorry, my lab's been disassembled by government fiat), it seems to clean just as well as your average Dial of SoftSoap. I should note that I'm generally a skeptic when it comes to the claims of so-called "alternative" health and cleaning products, because I've tried so many of them over the past 10-15 years and far too many have failed utterly to work in the slightest perceptible way.

CleanWell claims its ingredient Ingenium "kills 99.99% of germs including MRSA (staph), E.Coli, and Salmonella on contact." The soap is kid-safe (no ingestion risk), and claims to be 100% green, 100% biodegradable, and is not tested on animals. It meets EPA and FDA standards for germ killing efficacy and contains no alcohol, nor the dreaded Triclosan. It's even made from plants on which no pesticides, irrigation, or fertilizers are used.

CleanWell's products include hand sanitizer and foaming soap, and it's still pretty new, just emerging in health food stores and the like. They have a list on their website of stores that carry CleanWell, but use my experience as a guide and call ahead to make sure they have the item you're looking for. I went to three places looking for the soap and they only carried the hand sanitizer in the first two. I finally tracked it down at Rainbow Grocery in the Mission.

CleanWell makes three soap fragrances: orange vanilla, lavender, and ginger bergamot. The labels peel right off if you want your soap dispenser to look more aesthetic (although I think their packaging design is far superior to most commercial soaps). When Jenny washed her hands at our house recently, she called CleanWell "so refreshing!" So I guess that's an endorsement ; )

If you're interested in further reading on the issues, science, and politics surrounding the efficacy of such health and cleaning products, CleanWell's Chief Technology Officer Dr. Larry Weiss writes a blog with voluminous amounts of information aimed at parents, kids, consumers, et al.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's allergy season

As if the pounds of dust and cat hair kicked up by moving wasn't bad enough, I've begun having sinus headaches and major sneezing bouts that are usually indicative that there's something in my environment that's disturbing my allergies.

The worst part is when the roof of my mouth itches. Painfully itches.

It was so bad this morning that I could barely keep my nose from running long enough to go to the drugstore for some Claritin, and after buying it I had to sit around on Mission Street waiting for it to kick in, so I could come to work without having to walk into the building with a handkerchief stuffed up both nostrils.

Now I just have a dull sinus ache in most of my head. Hooray for allergies.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The toilet plume

I’ve been telling people about this for over ten years, but nobody listens to me. When you flush the toilet, a plume/flume of about 750,000 germs get sprayed into the air in an invisible, aerosolized spray, and they land on every surface in the bathroom.

“One hundred years ago, infectious disease was the leading cause of death. By 1980, it had fallen to number 5, but about 10 years ago, it managed to climb its way up to number 3. And, according to Professor Charles P. Gerba of the University of Arizona Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, it’ll most likely find its way back to the number 1 spot...”

Put the seat down. Cover your toothbrush or put it in the cabinet (or both). Don’t leave your drinking cup on the bathroom counter. Wipe down all surfaces in your bathroom regularly with disinfectant.

“Gerba has made quite a name for himself by studying public toilets and other places where germs lurk. In 1975, Gerba published a scientific article describing the phenomenon of bacterial and viral aerosols due to toilet flushing. When this aerosol of contaminated water is ejected into the air, it lands on everything in the bathroom, including your toothbrush. According to Gerba, this isn’t just another scare tactic to get men to put the top down...”

Read this article [Edit: Old link went 404. Read this Straight Dope column]. It might make you feel a little ill, but it also might prevent you from getting sick.

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