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Archive for July, 2014

“It’s What We Do.”

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Annually Expedia conducts a Vacation Deprivation Study, which analyses a global disparity in the “work-life balance.” The most recent study found that 76% of American bosses are supportive of vacation time, higher in comparison to the global average at 65%. That said, collectively Americans failed to take an estimated 577,212,000 vacation days last year. What’s the hold-up? Americans explain that they are stockpiling the days to take a bigger trip.

It may be a fair assumption to think that all of these Americans are saving their vacation days for a once-in-a-life time trip to a new destination; an adventure out West through the National Parks, a journey overseas to see a new country, or a visit to a picturesque coast – the options are endless for excursions that can be both relaxing and invigorating. However, the majority of travelers aren’t out to discover a new place – they visit a destination they have visited before. The annual repeat summer vacation is a quite desirable trip for people all over the world.

Richard L. Gitelson and John L. Crompton conducted a study on the repeat vacation phenomenon in Texas. The two professors created a questionnaire for use at Texas Highway Visitors Centers, and then led in-depth personal interviews to a small sample of respondents. The study found that a majority of participants were returning to a place that had been visited before. Typically, the repeat vacationers tended to be older individuals and families, either seeking relaxation or visiting friends/family. The repeat vacationers cited five factors that influenced why they returned to a familiar destination:

  • A reduced risk of an unsatisfactory experience
  • An assurance that they’d find “there kind of people” there
  • Emotional or childhood attachment
  • Experience an aspect of the destination that had been omitted on a previous occasion
  • Expose others to an experience which the respondents had enjoyed

Tradition has been a key factor in making these repeat summer vacations so popular. Redundancy has a lot of value for both travelers, and the travel business. A favorite vacation spot can feel like a home-away-from-home. Places can be a way for family memories to stay alive for generations to come; it becomes “unexpectedly, yet unchangingly, What We Do.” One example is a group of friends who took their first trip together when they were in high school. Over the past 30 years, they have made the same trip every five years, creating a tradition and maintaining their friendship. Even the First Family has created a vacation tradition – annual trips to Hawaii and Martha’s Vineyard.

Whether or not you are a wanderlust traveler or enjoy the annual trip to the same destination, it’s vital to take vacation days for work-life balance.

Pomp and circumstance

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 9.05.47 AM

The formality of it all. Gold leaf, artisan quality carpet, antique furnishings and a grand, very grand piano.

Shot on an iPhone by Jackie Danicki.

Adding a Picasso To Your Online Shopping Basket

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Online art sales are projected to increase to $13 billion by 2020.  International art auctioneer Sotheby’s strategy? Bidding Wars – à la eBay. Sotheby’s and eBay are creating a web platform to allow viewers to bid and buy high-end and museum quality art. The newly designed site will live stream auctions, tailored for both collectors and first-time buyers, allowing real-time bidding from anywhere around the world.

This is not the first collaboration attempt between the auction powerhouses, but both parties believe now is the right time for success. Partnership talks between the two first started in 1999. In 2002, Sotheby’s and eBay announced a partnership where appeared within eBay’s site, to take advantage of eBay’s bidding technology. Just over a year later Sotheby dissolved, citing a failure to generate any profit. Flash forward eleven years and the two are ready to get back on board. What will make it work this time? The smartphone revolution.

Deloitte’s Art and Finance report claimed, “the art world is moving towards the Internet…a development from which the industry can only benefit.” Online art growth has greatly accelerated, with over 70% of all art collectors having purchased a work of art online. In 2013, the debut of Amazon Art and Google’s Open Gallery initiative brought online art mainstream. Artsy, a well-known online art platform capitalized by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, launched an app with over 50,000 hi-resolution images from more than 600 museums, galleries, art fairs, and estates.

New Board Member of Sotheby’s, Daniel Loeb, activist Hedge Fund Manager and serious art collector, stated Sotheby’s previous board of directors was in “dire need of fresh insights,” calling for more investment in online sales. And Sotheby’s must be listening. The New York Times reported that beginning this fall Sotheby’s New York auctions will be broadcast live on a new section of eBay’s website. Art aficionados and eBay shoppers alike will be able to browse the mega Internet retailer’s site for antiques, jewelry, original artwork, fine wines, and more.

By early next year, the online marketplace, featuring sales from Sotheby’s New York location, is expected to open. Airing live auctions from other sales rooms across the world is in consideration as a future project. Competitor, Christie’s International said their sales of art and collectibles rose $4.6 billion in the first six months of the year. In the past three years, Christie’s has spent $50 million building its online platform.

Dreams of sugar, spice and everything nice.

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Orange trees

What if heaven were an orange grove ?

Shot on an iPhone by Clare Whitaker.

69% of the nation’s population is overweight.

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Being fat was not an option throughout much of human history. The active demands of simply maintaining life – hunting, gathering, and harvesting food – naturally produced slim individuals. As food became more stable, having enough to eat wasn’t a concern amongst the wealthier class and overindulgence was a common practice. A plump figure was a status symbol for excess and wealth.

In the 18th century, people first started worrying about the health effects linked to their obesity. Obesity belts, weight loss formulas, and special rubs were some of the early remedies for the fat struggle. Shortly there after, men became fitness and diet obsessed, with Lord Byron popularizing the ‘celebrity diet,’ in 1803. However, throughout this period women were actually encouraged to fill out, as a fuller figure was more desirable. Much changed for women in the 1920’s; shorter skirts, no corsets, and looser styles came on the scene. By the 1960s, Twiggy made super-skinny the ideal – just as the battle to stay slim was more challenging than ever before.

In the years that followed, waistlines kept growing, as did new diet fads. From the Grapefruit Diet to Slim Fast, Atkins to Weight Watchers, Liquid Diets to Low-Fat-Only options. The world was on a weight roller coaster, with no signs of slowing down.

Recently, gluten-free has become a nationwide diet and lifestyle trend. The option was first introduced targeting those with celiac disease. Celiac disease occurs where gluten consumption (found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye) causes inflammation in the small intestines. Celiac disease affects 1% of the population, but a quarter of Americans say they are cutting down on gluten or eliminating it entirely. Why is everyone hopping on board? 1 out of 3 people suffer from some form of food intolerance. Avoiding highly processed grains is known to help people who want to lose weight, reduce inflammation, and curb fatigue, and cure other health ailments. Gluten-free and its counterpart, the Paleo Diet which follows an eating plan based on what our Paleolithic ancestors would have eaten, are transforming eating as we know it. Just this past week, Taco Bell announced The Cantina Power Menu, which delivers high-protein options based off the gluten-free and Paleo diets.

Does the gluten-free trend have what it takes to help curb obesity? Maybe. Wheat drives weight gain and disease. Dr. Mark Hyman says modern-day wheat contains super starch, super gluten, and a form of a super drug. These are super fattening, super-inflammatory, and super addictive. Extracting wheat from our diet, or at least cutting back, could be the most effective and healthiest “diet fad.”