Celebrate the Day

It’s Friday… and not just any Friday (which is enough of a reason to celebrate)… it is the end of the Government Fiscal Year, and the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah (for those that observe two days). So, with a Happy FY11-12 to some, and a L’Shanah Tovah to others, let’s clear out those links. Note that I do plan a post on the excellent Erev Rosh Hashanah sermon given by Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik*, as soon as she puts it online.

  • Gezundheit! The VC Star has an interesting article on ACHOO Syndrome, which causes people to sneeze when exposed to sunlight. It is a condition found in 10-35% of the population, and does have a genetic basis. It is also something that can be disruptive or dangerous. They don’t know why it happens.
  • Gluten Free Everywhere! You may have noticed that gluten-free products are popping up everywhere these days (they used to be quite scarce). Reuters has an interesting article on the trend. According to the article, Euromonitor International forecasts 2011 gluten-free sales of $1.31 billion in the United States and $2.67 billion worldwide. Sales have more than doubled since 2005 and are expected to hit $1.68 billion in the United States and $3.38 billion globally in 2015. A number of examples are given. For example, in the donut chain “fonuts”, over half the sales are GF. General Mills Inc is a leader, having reformulated some Chex breakfast cereals, Betty Crocker cake and brownie mixes and Bisquick pancake mix to remove gluten. Anheuser Busch Inbev SA sells a gluten-free beer called Redbridge, which is sold in many mainstream supermarkets. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc for years has had a gluten-free menu and Subway, the popular sandwich chain, is testing gluten-free bread and brownies in Texas and Oregon. However, this could be a bubble. Trend chasers who have no medical reason to be on a gluten-free diet account for more than half of the daily consumption of gluten-free products, said Alessio Fasano, medical director at the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research.
  • A Hallmark Moment. Hallmark has introduced unemployment condolence cards. The article doesn’t mention whether there’s a version provided where you can tuck in a check, which is what the unemployed person really needs.
  • A Quiet Corner. Back in the early 1990s, I used to do a lot of travel to Washington DC… specifically to the McLean/Tysons Corners area. The Washington Post has an interesting article on the area, and its quest to become a real city. This includes moving beyond the business park, malls, and auto lots along Route 123 and Route 7 to a real walkable city core.
  • Keep That Allen Wrench. You’ve probably thought that the most ubiquitious and annoying things on Earth were cockroaches and politicians. Ikea wants to add itself to that list: Ikea believes that as long as there’s human life on Earth, a strong Ikea has its worth. Planet Money summarizes a New Yorker article on the chain, noting the tricks of Ikea store design (such as ‘bulla bulla,’ in which a bunch of items are purposely jumbled in bins to create the impression of volume and, therefore, inexpensiveness), the problems at US plans, and the corporate song.
  • College Planning. Lastly, something that makes me feel better for college app season. Seton Hall University is offering discounts for early applicants with strong academic credentials, giving them two-thirds off the regular sticker price for tuition, a discount of some $21,000. This is evidently part of a growing trend to go beyond need-based aid to where colleges give merit aid to get the students they really want. I hope this trend continues, for I know my daughter’s target colleges are going really want her!

*: For those who are curious: Rabbi Shawna’s sermon dealt with search engine results and how they are designed to give us what we want, and how that serves only to reinforce our beliefs, not challenge them. A really good subject, addressed well.