Saturday, June 14, 2008

World's Sexiest Beaches 2008

1 of 18
Riviera Maya, Mexico: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

by Jason H. Harper

You know the saying: Put two people together and let nature take its course. Well, put two people together in a locale with sunshine, sand, and turquoise waters…and watch the clothes come flying off. Whether this summer finds you and your Pucci two-piece looking to break a few hearts, or whether it's a matter of you and your mate defrosting passions after a long, cruel winter, we've got the surefire solution. These beaches, quite simply, bring the heat. We're not responsible for what happens the morning after.

(Not enough to sate your desires? See our picks for the world's most sensual strands of 2007, 2006, and 2005.)

NEXT: Toga party >

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41 Secrets Your Doctor Would Never Share

If You Only Knew ...

Reader's Digest offered two dozen doctors a chance to tell it like it really is, and general practitioners, surgeons, shrinks, pediatricians, and other specialists took the challenge. Some wanted to be anonymous; some didn't care. But all of them revealed funny, frightening, and downright shocking things that can help you be a better, smarter patient.

We're Impatient

• I am utterly tired of being your mother. Every time I see you, I have to say the obligatory "You need to lose some weight." But you swear you "don't eat anything" or "the weight just doesn't come off," and the subject is dropped. Then you come in here complaining about your knees hurting, your back is killing you, your feet ache, and you can't breathe when you walk up half a flight of stairs. So I'm supposed to hold your hand and talk you into backing away from that box of Twinkies. Boy, do I get tired of repeating the stuff most patients just don't listen to.
--Cardiologist, Brooklyn, New York

"Hospitals want physicians to send patients home faster, so some doctors are given bonuses for getting their patients out of the hospital quickly."

• I was told in school to put a patient in a gown when he isn't listening or cooperating. It casts him in a position of subservience.
--Chiropractor, Atlanta

• Thank you for bringing in a sample of your (stool, urine, etc.) from home. I'll put it in my personal collection of things that really gross me out.
--Douglas Farrago, MD, editor, Placebo Journal

• One of the things that bug me is people who leave their cell phones on. I'm running on a very tight schedule, and I want to spend as much time with patients as I possibly can. Use that time to get the information and the process you need. Please don't answer the cell.
--James Dillard, MD, pain specialist, New York City

• I wish patients would take more responsibility for their own health and stop relying on me to bail them out of their own problems.
--ER physician, Colorado Springs, Colorado

• So let me get this straight: You want a referral to three specialists, an MRI, the medication you saw on TV, and an extra hour for this visit. Gotcha. Do you want fries with that?
--Douglas Farrago, MD

• I used to have my secretary page me after I had spent five minutes in the room with a difficult or overly chatty patient. Then I'd run out, saying, "Oh, I have an emergency."
--Oncologist, Santa Cruz, California

• Many patients assume that female physicians are nurses or therapists. I can't tell you how often I've introduced myself as Dr. M. and then been called a nurse, therapist, or aide and asked to fetch coffee or perform other similar tasks. I have great respect for our nurses and other ancillary personnel and the work they do, but this doesn't seem to happen to my male colleagues.
--Physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, Royal Oak, Michigan

• The most unsettling thing for a physician is when the patient doesn't trust you or believe you.
--Obstetrician-gynecologist, New York City

• It really bugs me when people come to the ER for fairly trivial things that could be dealt with at home.
--ER physician, Colorado Springs, Colorado

• Your doctor generally knows more than a website. I have patients with whom I spend enormous amounts of time, explaining things and coming up with a treatment strategy. Then I get e-mails a few days later, saying they were looking at this website that says something completely different and wacky, and they want to do that. To which I want to say (but I don't), "So why don't you get the website to take over your care?"
--James Dillard, MD

• I know that Reader's Digest recommends bringing in a complete list of all your symptoms, but every time you do, it only reinforces my desire to quit this profession.
--Douglas Farrago, MD

Pills, Pills, Pills

• Sometimes it's easier for a doctor to write a prescription for a medicine than to explain why the patient doesn't need it.
--Cardiologist, Bangor, Maine

• Those so-called free medication samples of the newest and most expensive drugs may not be the best or safest.
--Internist, Philadelphia

• Taking psychiatric drugs affects your insurability. If you take Prozac, it may be harder and more expensive for you to get life insurance, health insurance, or long-term-care insurance.
--Daniel Amen, MD, psychiatrist, Newport Beach, California

• Ninety-four percent of doctors take gifts from drug companies, even though research has shown that these gifts bias our clinical decision making.
--Internist, Rochester, Minnesota

Bills, Bills, Bills

• Doctors respond to market forces. If the reimbursement system is fee-for-service, that results in more services. If you build a new CT scan, someone will use it, even though having a procedure you don't need is never a good thing.
--Family physician, Washington, D.C.

• I really do know why you're bringing your husband and three kids, all of whom are also sick, with you today. No, they are not getting free care.
--Douglas Farrago, MD

• Doctors get paid each time they visit their patients in the hospital, so if you're there for seven days rather than five, they can bill for seven visits. The hospital often gets paid only for the diagnosis code, whether you're in there for two days or ten.
--Evan S. Levine, MD

• Twenty years ago, when I started my practice, my ear, nose, and throat procedures financially supported my facial plastic surgery practice. Today, my cosmetic practice is the only thing that allows me to continue to do ear, nose, and throat procedures, which barely cover my overhead.
--Ear, nose, throat, and facial plastic surgeon, Dallas/Fort Worth

Free Advice

• Avoid Friday afternoon surgery. The day after surgery is when most problems happen. If the next day is Saturday, you're flying by yourself without a safety net, because the units are understaffed and ERs are overwhelmed because doctors' offices are closed.
--Heart surgeon, New York City

• In many hospitals, the length of the white coat is related to the length of training. Medical students wear the shortest coats.
--Pediatrician, Baltimore

• Often the biggest names, the department chairmen, are not the best clinicians, because they spend most of their time being administrators. They no longer primarily focus on taking care of patients.
--Heart surgeon, New York City

The Darker Side

• It saddens me that my lifelong enjoyment and enthusiasm for medicine has all but died. I have watched reimbursement shrink, while overhead has more than doubled. I've been forced to take on more patients. I work 12- to 14-hour days and come in on weekends. It's still the most amazing job in the world, but I am exhausted all the time.
--Vance Harris, MD, family physician, Redding, California

• In many ways, doctors are held to an unrealistic standard. We are never, ever allowed to make a mistake. I don't know anybody who can live that way.
--James Dillard, MD

• Not a day goes by when I don't think about the potential for being sued. It makes me give patients a lot of unnecessary tests that are potentially harmful, just so I don't miss an injury or problem that comes back to haunt me in the form of a lawsuit.
--ER physician, Colorado Springs, Colorado

• Doctors often make patients wait while they listen to sales pitches from drug reps.
--Cardiologist, Bangor, Maine

• It's pretty common for doctors to talk about their patients and make judgments, particularly about their appearance.
--Family physician, Washington, D.C.

• Everyone thinks all doctors know one another. But when we refer you to specialists, we often have no idea who those people are. Generally, we only know that they accept your insurance plan.
--Pediatrician, Hartsdale, New York

• In most branches of medicine, we deal more commonly with old people. So we become much more enthusiastic when a young person comes along. We have more in common with and are more attracted to him or her. Doctors have a limited amount of time, so the younger and more attractive you are, the more likely you are to get more of our time.
--Family physician, Washington, D.C.

• Plan for a time when the bulk of your medical care will come from less committed doctors willing to work for much lower wages. Plan for a very impersonal and rushed visit during which the true nature of your problems will probably never be addressed and issues just under the surface will never be uncovered.
--Vance Harris, MD

• At least a third of what doctors decide is fairly arbitrary.
--Heart surgeon, New York City

• Doctors are only interested in whether they are inconvenienced -- most don't care if you have to wait for them.
--Family physician, Washington, D.C.

The Sensitive Side

• When a parent asks me what the cause of her child's fever could be, I just say it's probably a virus. If I told the truth and ran through the long list of all the other possible causes, including cancer, you'd never stop crying. It's just too overwhelming.
--Pediatrician, Hartsdale, New York

• Most of us haven't been to see our own physicians in five years.
--Physical medicine specialist, Royal Oak, Michigan

• When a doctor tells you to lose 15 to 20 pounds, what he really means is you need to lose 50.
--Tamara Merritt, DO, family physician, Brewster, Washington

• If a sick patient comes to me with a really sad story and asks for a discount, I take care of him or her for no charge.
--Surgeon, Dallas/Fort Worth

• Though we don't cry in front of you, we sometimes do cry about your situation at home.
--Pediatrician, Chicago

Shocking Stats

60% of doctors don't follow hand-washing guidelines.
Source: CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

96% of doctors agree they should report impaired or incompetent colleagues or those who make serious mistakes, but ...

46% of them admit to having turned a blind eye at least once.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine

94% of doctors have accepted some kind of freebie from a drug company.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

44% of doctors admit they're overweight.
Source: Nutrition & Food Science; Minnesota Medicine

58% would give adolescents contraceptives without parental consent.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

Anatomy of a Doctor's Bill

Just how much of the $100 your doctor charges for taking 30 minutes to investigate your stomach pain goes into his pocket? After paying the bills, he gets less than half. The breakdown, according to Robert Lowes, senior editor at Medical Economics:

$3.50 for malpractice insurance

$3.50 for equipment, repairs, and maintenance

$6 for supplies, including gowns, tongue depressors, and copy paper

$7 for rent and utilities

$11 for office expenses, such as telephones, accounting fees, advertising, medical journals, licenses, and taxes

$28 for secretary, office manager, and medical assistant salaries and benefits

$41 Amount that goes into the doctor's paycheck

Over the course of a year, that adds up to $155,000, the annual salary of the average family physician. That number rose just 3.3% between 2002 and 2006, while expenses increased nearly 25% over the same period.

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Never Satisfied? Try These Six Negativity Busters

By: Alexandra Levit (Little_personView Profile)

I am one of those people who has the tendency to never be satisfied. It is like a disease. When I was in college, I wanted a communications job in New York City. Once I had that job, I wanted to get ahead quickly. A couple of promotions later, I decided I didn’t like working in Corporate America and started my own marketing business. I got that business going fairly easily, but found I was spending too much time attracting and servicing clients and wanted more time to write. Now I write full time, and I miss the daily people interaction!

I inherited this trait from my dad and it’s reinforced by my equally unsatisfied husband. But no matter. The way I’m headed, this will go on and on until I’m dead. And in heaven, no one gives you a gold star because you were successful in a variety of endeavors. I think that in the end, what really matters is if you were happy or not. And if you’re never satisfied with your lot, it sure is hard to be happy. I’ve asked some people for advice on how to become more satisfied, and here are some of the gems I’ve heard and tried myself:

  • Don’t always “one-up”: It’s annoying when an acquaintance does it to you in a bar, so don’t do it to yourself. When you meet a goal you worked hard for, take a moment to celebrate the achievement instead of immediately focusing on what you can, or should do next.
  • Live in the moment: As Ferris famously said, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” People who get bogged down in the past or are always looking ahead to the future miss the small joys of life—like eating a perfectly well-done burger or seeing their baby smile—that are right in front of them today.
  • Find a positive angle: Everyone experiences setbacks, but be careful not to allow a negative turn of events to color your view of the world. Look for something in the scenario that will help you learn and grow, and focus on that as you weather through.
  • Look for the good in people: It’s easy to ruminate on your friends’ and family members’ flaws, as I’m sure there are many of them. But by having unrealistic expectations of what people should do or how they should act, you’re setting yourself for disappointment. The truth is that most people mean well, even if they screw up every now and then.
  • Be thankful for the big things: In my house, we have a tendency to “sweat the small stuff.” But come on. I have a great career, a stable family, a roof over my head, and a healthy body. Do I really need to fret over the fact that Bass didn’t take my expired coupons?
  • Beware of the “grass is always greener”: You don’t know the intimate details of other people’s situations, so it’s irrational to be jealous of them. And remember that you can be satisfied without being perfect. Even if you have your dream job or your dream family, you’re bound to have bad days. That doesn’t mean you should overhaul everything because you think you can do better someplace else.
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Flip-flops linked to skin cancer

Wearing sandals and flip-flops can put people at risk of developing skin cancer on their feet, doctors have warned.

Specialists say that wearing open-toed footwear can increase the chance of getting lesions as the skin becomes exposed to intense sunlight, a key cause of skin tumours, or melanomas.

Cancer that affects the feet is known as "acral melanoma" and typically occurs on the sole of the foot, between the toes or under the toenails.

Research shows that only half of patients with foot melanomas survive, compared with four out of five people who develop cancer elsewhere on their legs.

Doctors advice applying factor 15 sunscreen or above to feet, including the soles.

One clinic has seen at least two patients with sun-related foot cancer in the past three months.

Anthony Kontos, head of the clinic at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, said patients often mistook skin cancer on the feet for bruising.

The podiatric surgeon said: "With the increasing popularity of open-toed sandals and flip-flops, feet often have a sudden blast of intense sunlight.

"Our feet are enclosed in shoes most of the year and then we pack our sandals for a holiday in very hot temperatures. This means feet are particularly susceptible to sunburn.

"People are generally aware of checking other parts of their body for suspicious moles but they're unlikely to examine their feet" he added

Exposure to sun in childhood is the biggest risk factor for melanomas.

Initial discomfort is hard to spot and is often diagnosed at a late stage which by then has spread to other parts of the body.

A British Skin Foundation spokesman said: "The fact is that all types of skin cancer are on the rise.

"Women especially are susceptible because any lotion applied to the bridge of the foot gets rubbed off by sandals."

Bob Marley, the reggae singer, died from a melanoma on his foot he believed was a football injury. The singer refused to have his toe amputated for religious reasons and died when the cancer spread.

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Guilt-Free Beer Guzzling: Top Five Sustainable Suds

Who’s thirsty?

Between the barbecues, national holidays and beach vacations, cold beers become a necessity in many households over the summer months. As we pay more attention to the way our food is grown, harvested and transported, perhaps we owe it to the environment to be as vigilant with our beer. But how easy is it to find environmentally-conscientious breweries?

Beer brewing is not the most environmentally-friendly of activities, particularly regarding water usage. On average, six gallons of water are required to brew one gallon of beer - a ratio that must be drastically reduced in dry areas. Wastewater, carbon emissions and huge energy generators also contribute to the environmental sins of the industry.

But more breweries are taking notice of the eating public’s environmental awakening. While the biggest multinational breweries are beginning to make structural changes that promote sustainability, most of the greenest beers are (unsurprisingly) local and regional ones. Microbreweries are great agents of change because they interact with the communities that surround them. Their smaller size and community feeling make them more amenable to change, so it is easier to petition them and request more sustainable practices. Below are the top five eco-minded, North American mid-sized breweries:

1.New Belgium Beer (Distribution: Western U.S.)

This small-scale Colorado brewer takes a multilateral approach to its greening. The brewing kettles trap steam energy during the brewing process and reuse it. The facilities use solar and compressed florescent lighting. Shelving and other building materials are made from trees killed by invasive beetle species rather than virgin wood.

The company has also implemented a wastewater treatment process to reclaim used water. The methane generated from the treatment is then collected and used as an on-site generated alternative energy. In addition to steam and methane energy, New Belgium was the first wind-powered brewery back in 1999. They continue to use wind-powered energy today. As if all of this weren’t enough, New Belgium donates 1% of all revenue to environmental causes.

2.Steamwhistle (Distribution: Canada)

This Canadian brewery wins for recycling and material waste-reduction efforts. Their logo is etched onto the glass bottles, freeing the facility of paper-wasting labels and toxic paper dyes and glosses. All packaging is made from recycled materials and the bottles themselves are recyclable. They can be returned to the facility via drop-offs at beer stores, washed and reused up to 30 times. Even the grains are recycled: spent hops are sent to local farmers to be used as animal feed.

Energy efficiency is also a priority. Steamwhistle uses primarily steam heat and fuels its delivery trucks with 100% biodiesel. They recently built a new brewhouse with 30% more efficiency. Additionally, Steamwhistle participates in an alternative refrigeration method that is specific to the Ontario area: deep lake water cooling. Ice cold water from the bottom of Lake Ontario is piped throughout the facility and then back into the lake, providing enough chill to forgo air conditioning.

3. Long Trail Brewing Company (Distribution: New England and Mid-Atlantic)

Vermont-based Long Trail makes a line called Eco-Brew that is created using a multilateral approach much like Breweries #1 and #2. The “spent mash” from brewing is sent to area farmers as cow feed. The kettle steam is recovered and stored for energy and heating. Wastewater is treated and recycled, reducing water usage. Their on-site vehicles are powered by biodiesel from their pub’s kitchen grease and they invest in local alternative energy cooperative, Cow Power, which - in addition to providing alternative energy - provides financial support to independent dairy farmers who suffer from competition with corporate farms.

4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Distribution: U.S.)

Sierra Nevada uses fuel cell technology to power their brewing and has won California’s highest award for waste reduction. In 2006, their website says, they diverted 97% of their total waste from landfills through a combination of waste reduction and creative recycling. Sierra Nevada also recovers both steam heat and carbon dioxide for reuse in the facility. Like the other eco-minded breweries, Sierra Nevada treats and reclaims its wastewater and sends its spent mash to local farms.

5. Brooklyn Brewery (Distribution: Eastern U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Turkey, Japan and Hong Kong)

The Brooklyn Brewery was the first New York City company to convert to 100% wind-powered energy back in 2003. They continue to fuel their brewing with wind.

Honorable Mention: Lambic Beer

Made in the Senne Valley of Belgium during the time of year that wild yeast travels in the wind. Instead of brewing with an industrial kettle, this beer is crafted by allowing giant barrels of hops to sit outside during the wild yeast season and letting nature take its course. Truly, a naturally-brewed beer.

Original here

How to Chill a Hot Beer or Soda in 3 Minutes

warm beerSo my father and brother-in-law were over this weekend for a barbecue. My fridge was stuffed with appetizers and salads so I was only able to fit a 12-pack of beer. Normally, this would have been enough so I didn't worry about it. After a couple hours, the stash was depleted.

I did have some more beer in the garage but the 90+ degree Chicago heat had rendered it useless for at least an hour. Now what? These guys all had designated drivers and, in all honesty, they wanted more beer. Little did I know, the old man had a trick up his sleeve that I had never heard of. If I had a video camera ready, I would have taped this because it was pretty cool (sorry, no pun intended there).

Here is how he took beer from 80+ degrees to (seemingly) 40 degrees in about 3 minutes.
  1. He took 6 hot beers from my garage and he placed them into a steel pot from the kitchen

  2. He tossed in enough ice cubes to completely cover the beer

  3. He then filled the pot with water

  4. Next, and this is the trick, he tossed in (what must have been) 2 cups of table salt.

  5. He took a large wooden spoon and stirred this thing up to be sure the salt dissolved.

  6. He placed the concoction into the freezer and in 3 minutes we had ice cold beer.
Frankly, I wish I knew about this little trick years ago. Apparently this works for wine, soda, or anything. The addition of the salt does something that I am admittedly not qualified to explain. If we have any experts that want to weigh in, feel free. I do however know that this works.

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How to Live With Just 100 Things

Donald Nausbaum / Photographer's Choice / Getty

Excess consumption is practically an American religion. But as anyone with a filled-to-the-gills closet knows, the things we accumulate can become oppressive. With all this stuff piling up and never quite getting put away, we're no longer huddled masses yearning to breathe free; we're huddled masses yearning to free up space on a countertop. Which is why people are so intrigued by the 100 Thing Challenge, a grass-roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items.

"Stuff starts to overwhelm you," says Dave Bruno, 37, an online entrepreneur who looked around his San Diego home one day last summer and realized how much his family's belongings were weighing him down. Thus began what he calls the 100 Thing Challenge. (Apparently, Bruno is so averse to excess he can't refer to 100 things in the plural.) In a country where clutter has given rise not only to professional organizers but also to professional organizers with their own reality series (TLC's Clean Sweep), Bruno's online musings about his slow and steady purge have developed something of a cult following online, inspiring others to launch their own countdown to clutter-free living.

Bruno keeps a running tally on his blog, of what he has decided to hold on to and what he is preparing to sell or donate. For instance, as of early June, he was down to five dress shirts and one necktie but uncertain about parting with one of his three pairs of jeans. "Are two pairs of jeans enough?!," he asked in a recent posting.

That's not the only dilemma faced by this new wave of goal-oriented minimalists. One of the trickier questions is what counts as an item. Bruno considers a pair of shoes to be a single entity, which seems sensible but still pretty hard-core when you're trying to jettison all but 100 personal possessions. Cait Simmons, 27, a waitress in Chicago, takes a different approach. Although she has pared down her footwear collection from 35 to 20 pairs, she says, "All my shoes count as one item."

Daniel Perkins, 34, a graphic designer in New York City, isn't working toward a quantitative goal but says he and his wife have instead pledged "within a year to have only things that we use daily in our apartment." Ten years ago, "I wore hats, and we made crepes every Sunday," he says. "But that's not who we are anymore." So he sold the fedoras and crepe pans on eBay.

But what about Christmas ornaments? Family heirlooms? Those skinny jeans you hope to--but will probably never--wear again? "It's a very emotional process," says professional organizer Julie Morgenstern. Her new book, When Organizing Isn't Enough: SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life, lays out a plan for clearing out both physical and sentimental clutter. "Often these are things that represent who you once were," she says. "But once their purpose is over, they just keep you stagnant." SHED, by the way, is an acronym for "separate the treasures, heave the trash, embrace your identity from within and drive yourself forward." Which is a handy little guide to Dumpstering your way into a state of Zen.

"It comes down to the products vs. the promise," says organizational consultant Peter Walsh, who characterizes himself as part contractor, part therapist. "It's not necessarily about the new pots and pans but the idea of the cozy family meals that they will provide. People are finding that their homes are full of stuff, but their lives are littered with unfulfilled promises."

Walsh isn't surprised that decluttering is so popular these days. Between worrying about gas prices and the faltering economy, people's first reaction, he says, "is often, 'I need to get some control over my life, even if it is just a tidy kitchen counter.'"

When Walsh helped homeowners purge their belongings on Clean Sweep, the weekend-long project would end with a huge garage sale. Off camera, good riddance is usually a good bit slower. Simmons has given herself a six-month deadline to winnow her stuff to 100 things--or at least 100 categories of things. (Hey, I'm not knocking her. I've got more than 100 things in my purse.)

Bruno hasn't set an end date for his purging project, which so far has claimed, among other items, his guitar, an iPod and a baseball jersey signed by Pete Rose. He's ignoring all the stuff he shares with his family, things like the house and the car and the pantry. Yet he's still not sure he can let go of all but 100 of his own possessions. Right now he's down to one nice pen, one mechanical pencil and one spork, although he counts that last utensil as part of a camping cooking set that includes two pots. And his current tally of 97 items doesn't include his toy trains, woodworking tools and a few other things he says he still needs to think through. But his daughters' doll collection remains off limits. Turns out that clearing the clutter makes you focus on what really counts.

Original here

McDonald’s lettuce growing billboard is actually kind of cool.

This is definitely a unique and creative way to sell some salads. The advertising folks over at McDonald’s came up with this billboard near Chicago that actually grows it’s message in lettuce and judging from this picture were quite successful. Fresh lettuce growing from a billboard probably can’t last long, but it’s still a cool idea and looks really appealing. I’m almost tempted to go there and buy a salad myself, ok not really, but if you find your self stuck there a salad is probably the way to go.

“McDonald’s came to us with a specific assignment,” said Avery Gross, a writer and creative director who worked on the salads billboard. “It’s an ad that celebrates freshness.”

Leo Burnett’s creative team worked closely with a horticulturalist to create a billboard that could start with 1½-inch spouts and grow into lush leaves. The garden appears to be safe from being plucked apart by birds because there is no place for them to perch and peck.

More from this at

I’m sure the birds could get to it if they wanted, they could easily perch on the lettuce itself. I wonder if it is organic?

Check out this video of the billboard’s message growing in.