QUOTE MOMENT: A problem is an opportunity

 

Everyone hates problems. I do. You do. Hell, even your pet cat probably does. But in the name of positive thinking, it doesn’t hurt to think of a problem as an opportunity to learn, to self-improve and as a challenge to conquer. As strange as it may seem, encountering a problem gives you a chance to consider things from all angles and to find solutions to a) solve said problem; and b) get it out of the way and go back to living and enjoying life. Just as they say you should seize opportunities by the horns, so you must prepare to kick a problem in the rear end, as so to speak. Consider every problem that comes your way as a chance to really do your best and prove yourself. Remember, you may have 99 problems, but being the best certainly isn’t one of them.

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Burton Brown Sr.‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/BurtonBrown

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PUBLIC SPEAKING: Ways to overcome the jitters

There comes a point in most people’s lives where they will have to do a bit of public speaking, Whether you end up being the best man toasting the groom during a wedding, or having to do a ‘make-or-break’ presentation for your university degree, public speaking is like jury duty, it is hard to get out of. For many of us, the very thought of standing in front of people, talking and showing things, is enough to leave us in a cold sweat. Paranoid fears of messing everything up or making a verbal faux-pas and embarrassing yourself in front of a whole bunch of people paralyse you, and in a slightly ironic self-fulfilling prophecy, those jitters and fears end up making you screw up the big talk. Big time.

For many people, it is preferable to be buried alive than to get up on stage, but public speaking, such as presentations of quarterly results, speaking at conferences and of course, those cringeworthy wedding speeches, are an important part of becoming successful in both our professional and personal lives. You only have to think of great figureheads such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Malala Yousafzai to understand that many of these people get their message across because they are great orators.

 

A Peruvian non-verbal language analyst and biology expert in human behaviour and neurocommunication, Miguel Figueroa, had published a book “Rompe el miedo y habla en público”, whose English title translates as Breaking Fear and Speaking in Public, late last year, in which he advises on ways to vanquish the trauma associated with public speaking, especially for first-timers. In a special tete-a-tete with Spanish-language online magazine GrandesMedios.com, Figueroa suggests techniques you can adopt to master the fear of speaking to an audience, as well as improving your expression skills.

  1. Bare your sole.

When sitting down for interview or presenting at conferences, for example, you may notice people touching or holding their feet. That is because, in an unconscious way, we instinctively protect the soles of our feet, due to their perceived vulnerability. According to Figueroa, placing the bottom of your feet and holding your feet can help relax you and dissipate any nerves. This is due to a ‘hormonal chain reaction’ that encourages relaxing mindsets, according to Figueroa.

2. Sit down and stay down!

While it is not always possible at all public speaking occasions, taking a seat can help you feel more comfortable and less ‘exposed’. Sitting helps provide mental and physical stability and, according to Figueroa, imparts a sense of confidence and authority of the speaker in the audience’s eyes, like a monarch proclaiming to their court from the throne.

3. Go walkabout and let your feet do the talking

Figueroa advises that public speakers should move around on their feet. At first this may seem strange advice. Surely, you might be thinking, trotting around the stage is the surest sign of nervousness. But Figueroa says that it is in the way you walk. You should take measured steps, first placing your heel on the ground, then bringing the arch down, followed by the toes. By doing this, you will avoid the quick rushed steps associated with someone who is frightened out of their wits, helping you feel more in control of the situation and again, upping the confidence levels, in both your and your audience’s perception.

4. Put your feet up!

Another foot technique to help you relax. Figueroa advises that a few minutes before you go out there and wow them with your wise words, you should find somewhere a bit private where there is a table or desk and literally put your feet up. Doing this will tell our brains that we are relaxed and calm, helping quell the  flight-or-flight feelings currently whizzing through our minds. This tip is especially useful for people attending interviews or auditions, who can do this in the waiting room or lobby before they go. However, do not do this in a public area and especially not in front of your audience. I do not have to tell you that it is the height of bad manners.

5. Do a little striptease

No, we are not advising you to do a sweaty nerve-wracked Full Monty in front of your audience, but Figueroa explains that hiding your hands when speaking is not a good idea as it tells your audience that you are nervous or insecure. To maintain your look of confidence, the best thing to do if you are wearing a long-sleeved garment, is to simply roll up your sleeves, ideally to your elbow.

6. Pose like an Egyptian

The ancient Egyptians saw the pyramid as an important cornerstone in their respect for the dead. It is this humble shape that can also help you bury the feelings of awkwardness in your public speaking. Figueroa suggests placing your hands together with palms slanted towards each other, fingertips touching so that your hands make a sort of pyramid. This hand position suggests balance and intelligence, and is an ideal gesture for saying concrete things, giving messages in depth and when concluding a speech or a negotiation dialogue.

7. Stretch Armstrong

Extending out our hand and fingers, such as when you move your hands when talking, has the advantage of telling you brain that you are in tiger mode, ready to pounce and actively engage the audience. In the audience’s eyes, constant and passionate movement of the hands suggests you want to get their attention and have important mission critical things to say. It also conveys confidence and engagement. A familiar gesture used by expert public speakers is the ‘what to do?’ position.

8. Barriers up!

The last technique Figueroa suggests is to use an object that will act as a barrier and help keep fear away. By holding an object, such as a pointer or a pen, the object serves as a ‘safety placebo’ which will trick the brain into thinking that everything is safe and calm. It is a comforting crutch on a psychological level, and is something that is a legacy of our childhoods from when we would take a stuffed toy to bed before sleep to keep away the big bad monsters in the dark. The barrier can also act as a distraction from negative thoughts or worries, and can be useful for the practicalities of pointing out things to an audience in a presentation.

SOURCES:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Trinadores, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Trinadores

“8 técnicas para superar el miedo a hablar en público” –  GrandesMedios.com/Grandes Medios (18 November 2016) https://www.grandesmedios.com/tecnicas-hablar-en-publico/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Speaking Out – Public speaking made easy” – Christian Heilmann, Flickr (10 February 2010)  https://www.flickr.com/photos/codepo8/4348899776

CHURCH OF THE APES: Scientists think chimps may have religious beliefs

London – VIJAY SHAH via ANDREW GRIFFIN and The Independent

Scientists are studying footage shot by the Chimbo Foundation and PanAf of strange behaviour by a group of African chimpanzees, which they may think indicate the chimps are performing rituals, which may indicate belief in a religion, according to Britain’s The Independent newspaper, and first reported last year (2016).

The footage shows chimps in a forest clearing in an unnamed part of West Africa, carrying stones and arranging them in little ‘cairns’. Mainly though, the chimps, including a mother carrying her baby, are seen hurling rocks against the bases of certain wide-bottomed trees, while screeching loudly. Other apes have been seen throwing smaller rocks into holes in the trees, creating deposits of material. It is surmised that this unusual behaviour, which has only so far been among this West African band of chimps, could be the beginnings of ritual behaviour. The participation of the mother and younger apes means the stone-throwing is highly unlikely to be mating behaviour, and the throwing does not also point to territorial marking.

 

Scientists studying the apes say their strange activities can give an insight into early human rituals and religious beliefs. Ancient humans constructed cairns and other rock formations as part of nature worship, one of the most famous and advanced examples being the UK’s Stonehenge monument. Chimps and other great apes have already shown the kind of intelligence associated with humans, for example in using sticks as tools to extract grubs and ants. Yet the stone-throwing in West Africa does not fulfill a functional purpose, such as finding food.

The researchers, whose institution was not mentioned in the Independent report, but described in the video above as being from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Biology, wrote in their report abstracts on the chimp rituals: “This represents the first record of repeated observations of individual chimpanzees exhibiting stone tool use for a purpose other than extractive foraging at what appear to be targeted trees,”

“The ritualized (sic) behavioural display and collection of artefacts at particular locations observed in chimpanzee accumulative stone throwing may have implications for the inferences that can be drawn from archaeological stone assemblages and the origins of ritual sites”

Interestingly, the scientists also found in their research that people in West Africa who follow traditional religions also enact similar rituals involving the construction of cairns at sacred trees.

In a piece written around the findings, researcher Laura Kehoe described the experience of watching the chimp look around and then fling a rock at the tree trunk.

Nothing like this had been seen before and it gave me goose bumps,” she wrote.

Marking pathways and territories with signposts such as piles of rocks is an important step in human history,” wrote Kehoe. “Figuring out where chimps’ territories are in relation to rock throwing sites could give us insights into whether this is the case here.”

SOURCES:

The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentOnline/

“Mysterious chimpanzee behaviour could be ‘sacred rituals’ and show that chimps believe in god” – Andrew Griffin, The Independent (4 March 2016) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mysterious-chimpanzee-behaviour-could-be-sacred-rituals-and-show-that-chimps-believe-in-god-a6911301.html

VIDEO CREDIT:

“This Could Be First-Ever Observed Ritual Practice Among Chimpanzees” – Hjalmar Kuehl and team/Scientific Reports/MPI-EVA/PanAf/Chimbo Foundation/GeoBeats News, YouTube (1 March 2016) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEQOThqq2pk

 

NATIONAL BLOOD WEEK: NHS encourages blood donors to come forward

London – VIJAY SHAH

As National Blood Week (19-25 June 2017) reaches its end, the U.K National Health Service is encouraging people to come forward and donate blood to help those who need it most, with an online strategy covering websites and social media such as Facebook, HEM News Agency exclusively reports.

The NHS Blood and Transplant division launched National Blood Week with a campaign to get more people visiting their local blood donation centre with a series of advertisements and even a hashtag #ImThere. The campaign was set up to celebrating new and existing blood donors making a difference and helping save people’s lives, according to the NHSBT website.

 

 

Blood donors are being encouraged to proudly announce they have donated via social media to help overcome the reluctance of other members of the public to donate and to solve shortages of certain blood groups, particularly those associated with ethnic minorities.

The NHSBT is particularly keen to get on board more donors of black African and Afro-Caribbean heritage, who are currently vastly underrepresented in the blood donation pool. An appeal was launched to increase the number of black British donors by 40,000, to help fight the effects of sickle cell anaemia among the African and Afro-Caribbean communities. The agency has received support from television presenter Scarlette Douglas, whose brother was a blood transfusion recipient. She spoke with sickle cell sufferer Aaron Thomas on the BBC One Show about the condition and the need for more donors from this community.

Donors are being encouraged to add frames to their Facebook profile photos and special ‘Twibbons’ to their Twitter pages. They can also take a selfie at the blood donation centre and use the #ImThere tag, to get their friends and family to join in and donate too.

NHSBT is also keen to reach out to more people with blood group O- as stocks of this blood type are running very low. The agency runs twenty three permanent centres and visits thousands of venues across England.

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

NHS Blood Donation, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/givebloodnhs/

“Give blood” – NHS Blood and Transplant https://www.blood.co.uk/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=paidsocial&utm_campaign=Junejuly&utm_content=emergency

“National Blood Week 2017” – NHS Blood and Transplant https://www.blood.co.uk/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/national-blood-week-2017/

SULLEE J: “Who Am I” with Don Streat

 

After the successful release of his hit single “Slangin Knowledge” in February of this year, acclaimed Baltimore rapper Sullee J has once again linked up with fellow musician Don Streat to release a brand new track in the past week. Their latest collaboration, “Who Am I” also features the talents of Vietnam & Alyson Blaire. The music video was produced by Profitt Productions Films. It features the rappers in a tough and gritty urban scene of dereliction, interspersed with footage of children labouring in a Congolese mine and news footage of the recent riots in the US and disturbances in Italy. The song talks about the harsh realities of life and of those who went to make it big, only to get dragged deep under in a world of crime, drugs and destitution. Each of the artists comes forward to tell a story in powerful words to make you think about life’s struggles and blessings, while getting you to be awake and conscious, while Alyson Blaire provided the backing chorus, asking the inevitable question that every individual facing the struggle asks…. who am I?

Sullee J (a.k.a Sullee Justice) has announced that he and Don Streat are also commencing work on a new project called The Reprogram, and have been actively recruiting other musicians from the Baltimore hip-hop/rap scene to produce music with a greater purpose. Who Am I is one of the first fruits of the new project’s labour, and has given a platform for upcoming artists like Vietnam and Alyson Blaire to show the world about themselves in their respective verses while  displaying several realities across the globe that cover famine, police brutality, corruption and more. The Reprogram is now opening more opportunities for local artists to become involved with Sullee J and Don Streat and bring out meaningful messages in their bars.

 

officialsulleej.com

SOURCE/IMAGE CREDITS:

Sullee J Management.

PHOTO MOMENT: An intelligent ability

 

If you are fluent in the English language, then even if the letters in a word are jumbled up, then you would still be able to make sense of the correct way to spell it. In scientific terms, this is known as typoglycaemia. In the photo above, the man is sporting a t-shirt with a quote attibuted to the mastermind Stephen Hawking. The trouble is, the t-shirt printing shop was short on letters, so substituted in some numbers, SMS-style. Can you figure out what the garment is saying? Answers in the comments. Enjoy!

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

Sarcasm, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/sarcasmLOL/

Collin Fisher.

PASSENGER PLANES: The story

VIJAY SHAH (writer) and SUNNY ATWAL (contributor)

From the earliest days of human civilisation, people have dreamt of taking to the skies. Our ancestors watched birds, insects and bats dominate the world above us, and imagined that one day, they too could travel above the ground and above the clouds.

The desire for flight was a dream of many ancient peoples. The Hindu epics of ancient India, particularly the Vedas, mentioned flying machines known as vimanas, airborne chariots of the gods. The Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus, prisoners of the island of Crete who made a bid for freedom with wings made from eagle feathers and wax, only for Icarus to fly too close to the sun, melting his wings and falling to his demise. The Saqqara bird, a bird-shaped model made from sycamore wood, dating from 200 BC and found in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian Pa-di-Imen in 1898, is in the shape of a falcon, but with wings uncannily similar to that of a modern glider aircraft.

However it was not until the technological awakening that accompanied the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century did flight by humans become more than just the stuffs of whimsical legends. At the turn of the 20th century, the skies above Europe and North America were dominated by the dirigible, also known as the airship or Zeppelin. These huge balloons, filled with hundreds of tonnes of hydrogen, became the first commercial success of the new aviation industry, ferrying both passengers and cargo across the world. The airship was prominent enough by the 1910s, that during the First World War, the Germans fitted out fleets of Zeppelins with bombs for attacks on cities in the U.K.

 

 

Sadly the popularity of airships as passenger transportation came to a sudden end with the Hindenburg disaster of 1937, when the passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg, which was on a Transatlantic route from Frankfurt, Germany, to New Jersey, USA, crashed as it moored at the Lakehurst Air Naval Station. The Hindenburg burst into flames and was burnt to a shell, killing 36 people. The ill-fated aircraft, which had previously undertaken several journeys across both Atlantic Oceans, was carrying 36 passengers and 61 crew. For a long time, this was the worst air disaster in history.

As the use of airships declined, a new beast was taking to the skies. The first manned flight was the simple wooden biplane flown by the American Wright brothers in 1903. The brothers, Orville and Wilbur, first began experimenting with gliders at their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio in 1896, and by 1902, had made more than 700 successful flights with their homemade glider, using the gentle winds at a beach in Kitty Hawk. On December the 17th, 1903, Orville Wright sat in the cockpit of his biplane in North Carolina, about to make aviation history. Though the flight was small in both elevation and duration, with the pilot travelling for 12 seconds at 20 feet height for a distance of 120 feet, an important milestone in human flight was marked for ever more.

Eleven years later, the first ‘airliner’ appeared. The Sikorsky Ilya Muromets, which was a large model of biplane built by Russians, made its maiden flight on December 10, 1913. Historians largely consider the Sikorsky the first definitive passenger plane, as it has a separate cabin for travellers, with on board facilities such as toilets, bedrooms, and even a set of wicker chairs. It was frequented by the wealthy elite of pre-Soviet Russia but its time was cut short by the outbreak of the First World War, otherwise Russia would have probably become a world leader in intercontinental aviation.

The United States, now a dominant force in commercial aviation in terms of plane manufacturing, quickly picked up where the Russians left off. The first U.S. commercial plane was a Curtiss JN 4, operated by the Elliott Air Service, which was used as a touring plane as well as for training.

Commercial flights for tourists began to appear by the 1930s, with the establishment of national airlines with their own fleets of branded planes, as well as the first full-scale construction of airports for handling holidaymakers and their cargoes. Flights at that time though were incredibly expensive, with only the very rich being able to afford the fares. A transatlantic flight from London to New York costed in the region of £300,000. Nevertheless, new airlines began to spring up, such as Imperial Airways (the forerunner to current flag bearer British Airways) in the U.K., Lufthansa (which still operates) in Germany, KLM in the Netherlands, and America’s United Airlines. Planes moved into having multiple engines which allowed for larger craft carrying more passengers.

By the end of the 1940s, the first true jet, the de Havilland Comet (DH 106 Comet) was developed and flown here in the U.K. in Hertfordshire. Debuting in 1952, the early jet became renowned for its comfortable and quiet passenger cabins, however its success was impeded by numerous faults, flight problems and Comets falling apart during test flights. The Comet was however the first multi-passenger aircraft bearing a strong resemblance to today’s planes, with a separate cockpit, galley, washroom facilities and seats separated by a central aisle for passengers and crew to walk down.

The Fifties and Sixties saw not only the consolidation of the modern airline industry as we know it, but also the appearance of the first ‘package holidays’ offering people on more modest incomes to travel to holidays, opening their world to a luxury previously only afforded to aristocrats and flight engineers. In the U.K. tour operators started offering cheap breaks to places like Spain and Italy.

The Seventies saw the dawn of the aircraft we know and love today, the Boeings and Airbuses. The Boeing company, with roots dating back to the wooden biplane era of the 1910s, began constructing airliners in 1958, with its first model christened the 707. In service until 1979, the Boeing 707 could carry up to 219 passengers. It beacme a hit commercially and dominated the nascent air travel industry, ushering in the ‘Jet Age’.

Planes began to get a lot more interesting when Concorde landed in March 1969. The Anglo-French creation was the world’s first supersonic jet, with a maximum speed over twice the speed of sound at Mach 2.04 (1,354 mph or 2,180 km/h at cruise altitude), with seating for 92 to 128 passengers. Frequented by British Airways and Air France, who were the sole permitted users, Concorde, with its distinctive pointy nose and highly aerodynamic wings, could reach the US in half the time of a competitor airliner, and it became a by-word for airborne luxury. The plane last flew in 2003.

 

 

Nowadays most commercial jets are from the Boeing hangar, comprising 777s, 727s and 767s. The European consortium Airbus has recently challenged Boeing’s supremacy, and is also the company that has heralded what could be the biggest change to the jet industry since the Jet Age began.

Airbus is the firm behind the A380, which is quite unique among modern plane in that it has two floors, a double-decker structure, similar to buses like London’s Routemasters. The A380 was born from top-secret plans first begun in the 1980s for a future series of ultra-high-capacity airliners (UHCA). At a cost of €8.8 billion, the first delivery of a live A380 took place in 2007, with Singapore Airlines the buyer, and the 200th was sold in 2016. Most of the main parts of the aircraft’s fuselage and operational elements are constructed in four countries (France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom) and many of these parts are so large that special transportation equipment had to built to carry them to various plants.

The A380, which resembles a chubbier version of a normal Airbus jet, can carry up to 888 passengers and can fly from Hong Kong to New York non-stop. The wings alone are an impressive feat of engineering, with 32,000 major parts, 750,000 rivets, 23 miles of wiring and, when assembled, a pair will have a span wider than a football pitch. Each plane costs USD $436.9 million (£359 million). It is much quieter inside than other commercial airliners, with fifty per cent less cabin noise, and has fifty per cent more space and legroom too. This fits up to 10 seats across in economy class. The two levels of the A380 are connected by wide stairways. Many are said to be equipped with bars, restaurants and duty-free shops. Planes owned by Emirates airlines come with showers and Qantas A380s are equipped with relaxing bar lounges. The plane’s wide aisles and plentiful space make it much easier for passengers to mingle and socialise, with 220 or so windows, providing a lot of natural light in the plane. It is also the greener alternative with the lowest cost per seat and the lowest emissions per passenger of any large aircraft. The planes also spend less time occupying runways in comparison to older models.

The A380 and its descendants could well be the future of air travel, drastically opening up international journeys to a wider audience and making an already small world seem even smaller.

SOURCES:
“Saqqara Bird” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saqqara_Bird
“Hindenburg disaster” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindenburg_disaster
“The Wright Brothers – First Flight, 1903”, EyeWitness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2003). http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/wright.htm
“Airliner” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airliner
“de Havilland Comet” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Comet
“Boeing” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing
“Boeing 707” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_707
“Concorde” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concorde
“Airbus A380” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A380
“Top 10 Most Commonly Sold Commercial Jets to Airlines” – Sammy Said, TheRichest (24 May 2013) http://www.therichest.com/business/technology/top-10-most-commonly-sold-commercial-jets-to-airlines/
“Wings of desire” – Aida Edemariam, The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited (23 February 2006) https://www.theguardian.com/business/2006/feb/23/theairlineindustry.travelnews
“The 10 best features of the A380” – Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi – Innovation Hub/Etihad Airways (14 November 2014) http://innovation.etihad.com/the-10-best-features-of-the-a380/
IMAGE CREDITS:
“Wright Brothers’ First Flight” – David Erickson, Flickr (8 August 2007) https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-strategycom/1053324103
mrminibike, Pixabay (20 July 2008) https://pixabay.com/p-788573/?no_redirect

QUOTE MOMENT: Sharing sweets

 

 

A Facebook post I shared five years ago. It reads “When people ask me to share the candy I’m eating, I give them the flavor I don’t like” and comes with a forever alone type meme. Truth be told, I just share the sweeties regardless of flavour, unless I’m eating Quality Street, and they’re someone I don’t like, then in that case, they get all the toffees!

 

IMAGE CREDIT:
I finally stop laughing. look back over at you and start all over again, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/laughingclub/

PHOTO MOMENT: Foxy Bear

 

 

A furry and fluffy blast from the past. On the 8th of January, 2013, a friend and former colleague of mine received this teddy bear as a gift. With his chunky paws and smart tartan bowtie, Foxy Bear, as he came to be called, took pride of place on our bank of desks in Fitzrovia, while doing sweet-all work himself. Sadly the bear went walkies some time later and his current location is unknown, although I suspect he took off with another ex-colleague. Farewell, Foxy Bear.

P.S. You might spot someone familiar peering at Foxy in the background.

IMAGE CREDIT:
Andreea Frasinescu.