Restaurant Hosts Smartphone-Free ‘No Technology’ Night

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One Florida restaurant has launched a recurring “no technology night,” where guests are forced to leave their smartphones at the door.

Sorry incessant Instagrammers: One Florida restaurant has launched a recurring “no technology night,” where guests are forced to leave their smartphones at the door. Local news station WPTV reports Sonny’s BBQ launched the initiative to “reconnect families” who distractedly stare at their phones while eating dinner: According to a reporter, “the manager is even leaving comment cards at families’ tables in case they have trouble unplugging and finding things to talk about.” (Suggested topics include “Who are you going to the prom with?” and “What college are you going to?”)

Sonny’s BBQ plans to host its no-smartphones night on the third Thursday of every month, meaning the smartphone-obsessed will only go into withdrawals one night a month. Of course, it’s not the first time a restaurant has tried to discourage smartphone use among diners: Restaurants from Beirut toLos Angeles have offered diners discounts for checking in their phones at the door. And the gimmick benefits restaurant employees as well, as smartphones have been blamed by some restaurateurs for slower service and longer meal times.

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Design Watch: ‘Badass’ Black Invading Kitchens

Black kitchen

The kitchen has evolved from being just a “place to cook” to a major entertainment area and considering the fact that kitchen is the most used space of the home, owners are trying to design the kitchen to their own comforts and fancies.

One of the latest trends that have been catching on is the “Black Kitchen”. A feature on The Wall Street Journal reveals that the color black has slowly been creeping into the cooking area and has now totally taken over the space.

Younger home owners are now opting for deeper, darker shades of gray and black licorice to do up their kitchens and are moving away from the usual sterile white French kitchens their mothers or elders would prefer.

“Black is the new white,” and apparently its “badass” the feature notes.

But it isn’t just Black. Deeper shades have now become a fad in kitchens, be it dark greens, blues or shades of purple. Take it from the designers.

“People aren’t afraid of the dark,” Maria Stapperfenne, the 2015 president-elect of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, told The Journal.

“Dark materials create atmosphere. They are a corrective antidote to the antiseptic quality of the 20th-century white-enameled kitchen or the ‘professional’ stainless steel kitchen so recently in vogue,” added New York architect Richard Sammons, who is also a partner at design firm Fairfax & Sammons.

Kitchen designing has become as important as designing any other room. In a recent webcast with DirectBuy, Monte Young of Norecraft Caninest said that Americans are sourcing kitchen décor ideas from Houzz, Pinterest and HGTV.

Also, more Americans are putting 41 percent of their kitchen remodel money into designer cabinets and only 6 percent on countertops, which indicates storage and ease of usage is of utmost importance to today’s homeowner.

“As the hub, it becomes a consumer’s dream to design these elements together with function, practicality, and flair,” designers said of new kitchen design trends to Big Builder.

Vern Yip’s Fashion-Forward Decor Ideas Inspired by 2015 Trends

Maximizing Functional Living Spaces and Sourcing Sustainable Materials a Priority

TORONTO, ON and NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – September 22, 2014) – As designers turn to self-renewing materials that are both stylish and environmentally friendly, and 2015 décor trends favor functionality, the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR) approached celebrity designer Vern Yip to offer practical design and décor tips with a look towards the new year.

Atop Yip’s list of 2015 décor trends are eco-friendly materials with a fashion-forward appeal, as well as turning to design and décor to maximize living spaces.

“The variety of stylish product choices available to today’s environmentally-conscious consumers is remarkable,” says Yip. He points to the many color choices of no-VOC paint, new agave plant and sisal fiber area rugs, as well as advances in cork flooring finishes as great examples of the intersection between style, functionality and environmental responsibility.

Yip offers these practical tips to achieve a stylish and functional space in 2015:

  • View the floor as an extension of the living space. Opt for materials that are both stylish and comfortable such as cork flooring. Warm, soft on the feet and eco-friendly, cork’s natural ability to insulate against heat, cold, noise and vibration make it an ideal choice for “on-the-floor living”.
  • For open concept homes, mix and match old with new, high with low or light with dark. Using timeless and resilient materials, or those that can be used and reused, allows homeowners to be eclectic and bold.
  • Geometrical and angular designs are making a comeback so think of zigzag, herringbone or chevron patterns to bring mid century flair back into your home.
  • Living outdoors is a great way of maximizing living space. Make it cozy with pillow, tiki lights or a bonfire pit. In cold temperatures, use heat lamps positioned around the boarder of the patio.
  • Look at the floor, which is a home’s largest surface area, as a canvas. It offers ample opportunities to add visual interest and achieve a unique look. Think about combining textures and/or colors. Create a pattern of alternating colors and/or grain.
  • Break away from a sea of neutrals by replacing old pillow covers, throws and/or lampshades to reflect the hues and tones of the season. Or, create an accent wall with a printed wallpaper or painted design. Do keep your larger items white or neutral, so that you can easily mix and match seasonal colors with permanent pieces.

Yip, who has just completed a makeover of his New York City apartment, points to his choice of patterns, colors, materials and design as an example that ecologically responsible and functional choices can result in inspired designs.

About the Portuguese Cork Association

The Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR) is the only national trade association representing the cork processing industry. It was founded in 1956, in the north of Portugal, in Santa Maria de Lamas, at the heart of the cork industry.

APCOR currently has over 270 member companies which together account for 80 per cent of the national cork production and 85 per cent of cork exports.

The objectives of APCOR are to promote and provide value to cork and its products, as well as represent and support the industry in various fields.

Flagler Beach may shut out some farmers market vendors

A typical Friday at the Flagler Beach Farmers Market. The city wants to get rid of certain vendors whose products clash with brick and mortar businesses.

The Flagler Beach Farmers Market has, in one form or another, been a mainstay in that beachside town for more than three decades.

But the future for some long-time vendors may be up in the air — and they have very little control over it.

Zoee Forehand is busy this Friday morning.

She’s checking on all the vendors who have gathered in the middle of Flagler Beach, making sure this day’s farmers market is running smoothly.

She’s also handing out petitions, trying to get support for her efforts in shutting down a proposed ordinance change.

Forehand tells us “some of our vendors received notices saying they would have to cease operations if this new proposed ordinance were to pass.”

City commissioners here have been on record as being in strong support of local brick and mortar businesses. It appears that’s what this ordinance change is all about.

In a nutshell, the new ordinance would ban certain vendors the city feels is in direct competition with local, established businesses.

Maria Ferra, an Albanian immigrant, has been selling her homemade breads and pastries here for eight years. She got one of the letters.

“They said even if you paid the license, we gonna kick you out because we are…I hurt other business here,” Ferra said.

We were able to talk with Ferra in between the constant stream of customers who line up every week to buy her breads and baked items.

Ferra doesn’t mince words at the allegation that her presence here for six hours a week hurts local businesses. “I’m upset because this is [a] joke.”

Forehand said it’s important she take a stand for the handful of vendors on this list because, as she puts it, “today it’s a bakery. Tomorrow it may be other things: jewelry, lemonade. It could be olives. You just never know.”

Forehand plans to ask city commissioners to withdraw the proposed ordinance change at their meeting next Thursday.

The Flagler Beach Farmers Market was recently named one of the top 100 markets in the United States by TheDailyMeal.com

Millennials: Tech Not Only Health Solution

There are a lot of stereotypes out there about the millennial generation: they’re disengaged and hyper-focused on technology.

But someday, these 80 million Americans born between 1980 and 1999, will be needing health care. And a lot of it.

That’s why the second MediFuture conference this week in Tampa asked a panel of college students for some insight. While the five men and one woman say they may not be using the health care system much now, it’s important medicine doesn’t assume that technology is all they care about.

These students say they are typical of many college students: they’re educated, have health insurance and work out regularly. And they live a healthy lifestyle – give or take a few extra drinks on the weekend. Most go to the doctor only when needed, say when a shoulder pops out of place or a sinus infection knocks you down.

They say they definitely don’t embrace what they describe as today’s model of health care, where you have a designated primary care physician and wait days or weeks for an appointment. Phil Michaels is getting his MBA at the University of Tampa. He says he wants a relationship with a doctor to be convenient, and on demand.

“I can’t speak for all millennials but this is how I would like to communicate with them. I don’t want to spend two hours of my day driving to the doctor’s office, waiting, seeing the doctor, you know, waiting to check out,” Michaels said. “I can text him, I can Skype with him – show him the bruise on my arm – send him a picture message. And I know it’s being done right now, but we need to make sure it’s reaching a mass audience.”

That concept isn’t far fetched. Concierge medicine and is an option for people able to pay for the exclusive service.

But some say that convenience shouldn’t diminish the personal interaction between patients and their health care providers. Klaus Grim is a student at the University of Tampa. He says that connection is why he is studying to become a physician’s assistant.

“I kind of disagree. Because I think that’s kind of where medicine exceeds is the patient, the patient doctor relationship,” Grim said. “And it’s part of being human and talking to someone face to face.”

His need for the human touch is an important reminder to the nearly 600 professionals in health care and tech industries attending the three-day MediFuture event. Participants were wowed by the high-tech, consumer-centered gadgets featured in ballrooms throughout the conference hotel.

Tech company Jawbone pitched its JawboneUP fitness tracker link with a clips on your dog’s collar — called Whistle — and a interactive food scale called Prep Pad, done in partnership with the Orange Chef Co.

GuideWell, the parent company of insurer Florida Blue, set up mock bathrooms, workplaces and storefronts to highlight its gadgets. One garnering a slew of questions was an interactive bathroom mirror, where computerized health reports pop up as you start the day.

University of Tampa graduate student Keven Jenkins said technology may be second nature to his generation. But they won’t embrace health apps unless they make sense to the individual, and if they work well.

“I do think there is a lot of opportunity for improvement in regards to that kind of technology,” he said. “I use it, but I’m not a tremendous fan at the moment. I think there is still a lot of room still for improvement, as with much technology when it first goes live. “

Dionte Madden, a senior at the University of Central Florida, told the crowd that the fitness tracker his parents gave him as a present goes unused.

He and other panelists said they prefer to go old school – working out with a familiar exercise routine, and using friends and family as accountability buddies. Madden says apps are great at tracking health data, but it’s no fun living by the numbers.

“I’d rather just go and work out because that’s what I’m used to doing. From the student athlete’s perspective, the apps really aren’t that useful because you already know your body and what is best for you,” he said.

And don’t assume these young adults are enamored by scientific advances. Many on the panel said they’re reluctant to undergo genomic testing, which breaks down DNA to predict their chances for serious and potentially deadly disease.

Grim, the aspiring physicians assistant, would rather focus on being well, than worrying too much.

“I wouldn’t want to know… I just think if I find out I have something, I’m not living the life I want to be living beforehand,” he said. “…Say I know I have something, I’m going to change my whole life around. And I think life is just so full of surprises.”

He wasn’t alone. When it came to that question, only one of the six students was eager to find out what the future held.

Unemployment takes dive in Volusia, Flagler

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Last Modified: Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 12:23 a.m.

Volusia and Flagler county businesses have hired thousands of new workers during the past year and the number of unemployed has dropped dramatically.

Koby Kobussen tightens the wheel nut on a portable pump on the shop floor at Thompson Pump in Port Orange. Kobussen was hired in August in response to an increase in the company’s export business.

News-Journal/PETER BAUER

That said, August’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate ticked down in Volusia to 6.5 percent from a revised 6.6 percent in July, snapping a three-month rise. The rate is the 41st highest among the state’s 67 counties, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Flagler’s August unemployment rate inched up to 9.5 percent from a revised 9.4 percent in July. It’s the county’s fourth consecutive monthly rise and ranks as the second-highest rate behind Hendry County at 13.1 percent.

“The numbers compared to the prior month are not remarkably different, but the changes year-over-year continue to reflect the economic improvements and the job seekers are feeling that and reaching out and finding employment. The number of unemployed is down accordingly,” said Rob Ehrhardt, Volusia County’s economic development director.

Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.3 percent in August from 6.2 percent in July, but that is down from a year ago when it was 7.1 percent.

Volusia County’s unemployment rate was 7.4 a year ago and Flagler’s 10.5 percent.

Since then, Volusia businesses have hired 6,358 additional workers and the number unemployed has dropped by 1,912. The workforce has grown by 4,446 to 258,395.

Flagler businesses have added 1,119 jobs while the number of unemployed has fallen by 282. The workforce has grown by 837 to 35,973.

“Looking at the big picture, we are definitely better than we were a year ago when we were first,” said Helga van Eckert, executive director of the Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity.

Thompson Pump in Port Orange added four workers in August to increase its local manufacturing plant’s labor pool to 123 and wants to hire more.

“We’ve seen a drastic increase of 35 to 40 percent in our export business from a year ago,” said Dale Conway, vice president of engineering for Thompson Pumps. “We’ve hired assembly workers, testers and inspectors to keep up with our increased work flow.”

Exporting has more than made up for flat domestic sales, Conway said, caused by a difficulty of finding diesel engines that meet new federal emission standards and match with the company’s pumps. Foreign countries in South America and Africa do not have those same emission requirements.

Economic development officials acknowledge a flattening out of the local unemployment rates in recent months with the traditional summer rise when new high school and college graduates enter the workforce and the unemployed numbers increase with temporarily displaced school staffs.

However, they expect the rates to come down slightly in the fall and more so in the future.

“I think we are seeing steady improvement. I look at the August numbers and don’t see anything that really worries me,” said Robin King, president and CEO of CareerSource Flagler Volusia, the regional workforce development board. “We’ll see more businesses hiring. The future looks good with the various growth projects.”

Future projects with potential significant job creation include Blue Coast Bakers on North U.S. 1 in Ormond Beach with 300 jobs, Trader Joe’s distribution center at Interstate 95 and Dunn Avenue in Daytona Beach with 400 jobs and 50 jobs with Moving Minds, a global strategic marketing and web consultant in Palm Coast.