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Archive for November, 2011

Attention Flight Attendants: Consider an Attitude Adjustment

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Those of us who travel frequently for work or pleasure have grown accustomed to inconveniences, from the minor irritation of removing one’s shoes at security to the stressful, tear-inducing delays and cancellations that throw our plans entirely off course. As passengers, we may dig our heels in the mud at the demands, whine here and there, and perhaps have words with baggage claim attendants from time to time. Overall, though, passengers have learned to deal with it. But there is one group of people who seems to be particularly incapable of going with the flow: flight attendants.

Of course, there are exceptions. Exceptional flight attendants out there ‘ thank you, from the bottom of our road-weary hearts.

But sadly, there seem to be more flight attendants with bad attitudes giving the great ones a bad rap. Sure, we’ll grant them a grace period for lamenting that theirs is the glamour job of yesterday. But things have changed. They have for most of us. Customer service today is critical for staying ahead of the competition and most of us can’t get away with that kind of attitude on the clock.

Attention cranky flight attendants: Your passengers are also your customers. Without customers, you’re out of a job. So the next time you want to bark at us to tuck our carry-ons under our seats, or roll your eyes if we request water, or snap at us when we can’t shove our swollen luggage into your infinitesimal bin space overhead, think again. Customers don’t put up with poor service. Thank you, and enjoy the flight.

Midtown Garden of Eden

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, set within New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), is an absolute delight to the senses. Artfully designed, and filled with light and sculpture, the garden features Aristide Maillol’s The River. Maillol’s twisting, larger-than-life female figure is perennially dipping her hair in the water to the delight of visitors.

Shot in existing light on an iPhone.

Photo by: http://www.cryptogramink.com/

Christmas on Thanksgiving? Black Friday is now Black Thursday

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Black Thursday is the new Black Friday.

Each year Thanksgiving is increasingly swallowed by Christmas and the season-long celebration of consumerism. This year, big-box retailers like Target, Wal-Mart and Toy-R-Us are opening their doors as early as 9:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Retailers defend these strategies, claiming they are due to customer demand for more shopping opportunities’ — or are they?’ It’s really more about the tenuous economy and the business strategies of retailers to gain every possible shopping hour in the most prized retail quarter of the calendar year.’ Eager Christmas shoppers may be happy to have more options to shop, but retail employees may have to leave their own Thanksgiving gatherings early, or miss them entirely. We’re wondering ‘ is shopping mania going too far?

While mainstream retailers continue to bend to the will of the nation’s shoppers, others are showing a bit of spine. Nordstrom, for example, posted signs in stores nationwide, notifying that their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving and declaring their stance against premature Santa fever. “At Nordstrom . . . we won’t be decking the halls until Friday, November 27. Why? Well we like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.”

Who’d have thought that it would be a retailer, who stands to gain extra hours of sales generation, to call out the madness to these methods? Bravo, Nordstrom.

Still a great wonder.

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Discussed and studied profusely over the ages, Stonehenge still continues to baffle scientists and researchers. Were UFOs responsible? If not, how on earth did human beings carve and move these massive stones? What did it all mean? It’s definitely something to ponder and appreciate that even with all of our kick-ass technology, no one can figure it out.

Shot on an iPhone, converted to black and white.

Photo by: John Keeling

http://www.keelingphoto.com/

http://www.riverimaging.com/

Gratitude is an Attitude

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

We hear it all the time ‘ a positive attitude is essential for a better quality of life. But with high unemployment, massive national debt, and the omnipresence of those insufferable Kardashians ‘ there is no shortage of reasons to feel downright grouchy. Recent scientific studies have emerged, however, revealing that our brains can be trained to achieve greater overall happiness.

Our Piehole post earlier this year on the “Brain Gym” phenomenon examined the concept of “neuroplasticity” ‘ or the ability for the brain to rewire its physical makeup. Some psychologists are taking this concept beyond improving mental acuity, asserting that neuroplasticity may allow people to get more out of their positive experiences, and in turn feel happier and be healthier. The key? Gratitude.

This isn’t just peace pipe fluff. According to psychologist and best-selling author Rick Hanson, our brains are hard-wired with a “negative bias” to look for, react to, store and recall negative experiences over positive ones. But last week the Huffington Post reported that several psychological studies have found that people who express genuine gratitude on a regular basis were 25% happier, had better marriages and more fulfilling relationships, and fewer health complaints than those who don’t. Hanson explains that practicing gratitude actually alters neurological pathways to make the brain more responsive to positive forces in our environment ‘ and overcome its negative bias.

As the holiday season (read: chaos and pain in the neck in-laws) approaches, gratitude may be your best weapon against stress and depression. Tell your spouses why you love them. Show co-workers appreciation. Give yourself a real pat on the back for your own successes, large or small. There is real science backing this up. Besides, why should hippies have all the happiness?