Fears – A different and useful perspective

Fear is a emotion we all are perhaps more familiar than we wish. This TED presentation offers, in my opinion, a perspective which seems useful and productive. Use the link below to access the presentation.



One Man’s Solution for River Erosion

Here is an impressive story about how a man single handed succeeded in fighting river erosion of an island. He started this work in 1970’s and managed to grow a forest that effectively ‘fights’ river erosion. It is still work in progress since he is still continuing his effort!

Use the link below to read about his approach and the almost unbelievable results. A short video telling his story is included.


Airline Travel – Safe Meals

Do read before your next flight. I have no easy way to verify these claims but I am packing ALL the necessary “meals” from now on for my airline travels.


Steve Derebey, Captain, Major Airline. Boeing 777 International Operations.
We have “special” meals. Our crew meals are, by contract, allegedly the same as a first class meal, but in reality, they are nowhere close. After 35 years, and at least 6 cases of food poisoning, other than in extreme and controlled circumstances, I won’t consume a “crew meal.” I have no doubt that the kitchens are safe, but, once the meal leaves the kitchen, all bets are off.
The “chillers” on our airplanes rarely chill to a “safe” temperature of 41 degrees F. More often, they range from 50F to 70F. I know, because I’ve taken a restaurant-grade thermometer, and measured, myself. When I have written them up, maintenance just “defers” them.
International meals are somewhat better, but still sorely lacking in quality. Before each flight, I make sure that I am properly nourished, and have with me enough “back up” food so that, if the crew meal is spoiled or inedible, I can survive until I get to the destination. You would think that this would be a high priority, as blood sugar and proper nutrition are such a huge part of pilots’ lives.
The safety of the flight is at stake but, after all, it does cost money to feed people properly.
Janice Bridger
A few years ago, the major carrier for whom I work decided that they could save a lot of money by catering two, three and sometimes four legs at once.  If, for example, an aircraft was going from San Francisco to Chicago and on to Newark, they could cater meals for both legs in San Francisco, thereby eliminating the need for catering (as well as the catering jobs) in Chicago.  It was much cheaper.

Sounds good, (except for the part about eliminating jobs).  But the problem is that the food is prepared in the kitchen hours before the plane leaves San Francisco.  It sits on a catering truck that is loaded with meals for several different aircraft.  That truck has to drive from the offsite kitchens to the airport, clear inspection before being admitted onto the tarmac, and then cater several flights.  By the time the food gets put on the airplane, often up to an hour or more before takeoff, it has already been sitting in the truck, in the hot sun, on the highway or on the tarmac, for several hours.  Now, imagine how long it sits before it gets heated on the plane and served, particularly after the 4½ hour flight to Chicago, the hour or two that it takes to unload the plane, clean it, do a security sweep, board the passengers for Newark, close up, push back and take off.

Chillers are cooling units on the aircraft designed to blow cold air through small air vents into a cart full of food.  Ideally, the cold air should be at 40°F (5°C) or below.  But often the chillers aren’t working properly, and blow warm air… sometimes as warm as 60°F (16°C).  Or, the cart is so overstuffed with food (remember we’re catering multiple legs here) that the cold air can’t circulate properly.  Frequently, the chillers aren’t even working at all.  Instead of taking the aircraft out of service to get them repaired, the problem is simply deferred until regular scheduled maintenance… often months in the future. 

(You see, an aircraft that is on the ground isn’t making money.  It’s more profitable to keep the aircraft flying, and if someone gets sick, well… they can’t really prove that it was airline food that made them sick, can they?)

Remember that space in an airplane galley is extremely limited.  So in order to cater two, three or four legs at once, everything has to be consolidated.  Often, serving a meal requires “unpacking” a cart that may have thirty or more or meals stacked into a space meant for ten meals.  The food must be separated and redistributed among the trays so it can be served.  With such limited space, there’s no counter space to unpack.  So we use the tops of carts (unwashed and unsanitary), oven shelves, jump-seats, and even the floor to stack trays, dishes and wrapped food; there simply is no other option.  I used to use linens as a “buffer” between the dirty cart tops and the food, but in the interest of saving money on laundering, linens are no longer boarded on the planes.

As a Flight Attendant, I always warn pilots if the chillers aren’t working properly, or if their food has already traveled on two or three legs before they get it.  Indeed, most crew that I know don’t often eat the airline food.  (Years ago, it was a different story; the food was much better quality, fresh.  But now, kitchens give us the “throw away” food, the cheapest stuff they can get away with.  Often the containers of hummus, sauces, dips, salad dressing, fruit, etc. are past the expiration date!)

My suggestion, even for First Class passengers:  Eat before you board.  If you think you’re going to need food, bring some with you.  I am always happy to heat up your sandwich, pizza or even a full meal that you bring with you.

After all, it’s an airplane, not the Ritz Carlton.  You’re not missing anything by bringing your own.  Lower your expectations and play it safe!

That’s my input.  If you’re interested in reading more, the following is an anecdote that deals with this whole food issue.  

I’m sorry if I sound cynical or even bitter.  The safety of the food issue (or lack thereof) has been a particularly sore point for me… one that I and many other Flight Attendants have complained long and hard about, ranted about to management and tried to get resolved.  We’ve gotten nowhere.  In fact, I’ve been admonished for my efforts, and told that my job is to simply serve the food.  Believe me, there isn’t a restaurant in the country that would be allowed to do what airlines regularly get away with and still remain open.

I remember a 4-leg trip a few years ago from Denver to Seattle and on to Anchorage, where it “turned” and flew back to Denver, also through Seattle.  The aircraft was catered in Denver for all four legs.  When I boarded the aircraft in Anchorage, the inbound crew advised me that the chillers were inoperative, they had been deferred the week before.  The meal was a “midnight snack” of cold prawns, deli slices of cheese and meat, hummus and pickled vegetables.  When I opened the warm carts, the food had obviously ‘turned’.  It smelled sour and ‘off’, particularly the prawns.  So I decided not to risk the health of the First Class passengers, and I explained to them why I wasn’t serving it.  Some wrote complaints to management, not about me but about the broken chillers.  One passenger was pretty clear in how she felt about an airline that would so readily endanger the health of their passengers to save a couple of bucks.  As a result, I was severely reprimanded.  I was told that I’m not a food expert, and have no business determining what food is fit or not fit to eat.  I was advised to keep my “opinions” to myself and do my job… that is, just serve the meal and let the company deal with any backlash or fallout.

Music and the Brain

I came across this interesting article that describes beneficial effects of music on our brain! The music mentioned ranges from classical to simple prayer chants. So, if you want an excuse to justify your listening/playing music and your ‘musical choices, this article will probably provide necessary justification.:)

Use the link below to read the article.



Do you ever think about consciousness; what it is, what it means to be conscious, etc.? Then, this TED presentation will enlighten you. It may not fully satisfy you, but I find that it provides a “new” way, and perhaps a better way, to understand consciousness. For me, it is quite a revealing explanation of consciousness and its implications can be far reaching!

Use the link below to watch the presentation.


AI and Photography

Stories about how AI (Artificial Intelligence), technology, etc. will impact our lives, job opportunities, etc. have now become a regular feature in news media. Here is one story about how Google has used AI to produce professional quality photographs from its Street-view panoramas. I have no idea about the level of human intervention and effort involved but the results are quite impressive. Use the link below to read this story (and view the photos).


Arm-chair Traveler’s Dream Comes True

If you like amazement {and time to be amazed:)] here is a technology produced wonder that permits you to tour the world sitting in your favorite chair. Nice thing is that you can pick and choose the location and the time you want to devote to it.:)

Use the link below and start your journey.

Alzheimer’s Disease – Counter Measures

First the bad news. The way the things are today everyone among us, who hopes to live a long life, has a good chance to become a victim of Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, the good news. Researchers have identified some counter measures that would minimize the harmful effects of this disease.

Note that I said counter measures and not a cure or means of prevention. For that we will have to wait.  I think it is worthwhile to take time to learn about these counter measures. They seem to be easy to adopt without seriously compromising ones life style.

A lot is now in press about these research findings but that does not take away anything from this fine TED presentation.  It is well done and offered in a very simple and understandable format.

Our Fast Changing World – A Key for Success

I believe no one needs to be told that ALL aspects of life around us are changing and at ever increasing speed. The natural outcome is that one finds that nothing is certain in such a situation. That brings up a key question, “Is there anything one can do” to ensure a happy life in these conditions.

In his last monthly Q&A session, Swami Sarvapriyananda at The Vedanta Society of New York, provides in his answer a method for ensuring happiness in our current times. The question and answer, starting at 58 minute point, in the following video states the current conditions and a solution.



What an Exciting Presentation!!!

I must admit that this TED presentation by the President of the World Bank made me jump. No, not in fear.:)

This just about the most exciting and inspirational presentation I have listened to in a long long time. It is about 20 minute long and I sincerely wish that you will find the time to watch it. My hope is that of the hundred who watch it, there will be ten who may get sufficiently motivated to do something beneficial to the poor among us.

Use the link below to watch this TED presentation.