Archive for December, 2018

Service of the Race to Add Electric Scooters: Who Gets the Bike Lane? Where do Pedestrians Walk Safely?

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Photo: qz.com

It doesn’t take much to inadvertently kill someone. A few weeks ago a man in his 80s was knocked to the ground exiting a subway run into by another passenger dashing to catch the train. He hit his head and died a few days later.

That—and the fact that pedestrians and bicyclists haven’t yet learned to play well together in Manhattan at least—means that the addition here of electric scooters, that go 15 mph, has zero appeal to me.

Photo: executivestyle.com.au

There are too many accidents with good old bicycles: nine deaths and 1,260 injuries to biclcylsits in 2017 according to nyc.gov. That year one pedestrian was killed in a bicycle crash and 172 people were injured by bicycles according to police reports. These stats may be conservative. Read on.

Another website, nationswell.com, reported “dozens of bicyclist are killed by motor vehicles every year in NYC.” While I’m most concerned about pedestrians, the numbers of people opting for electric scooters will clearly add insult to injury for all.

Photo: cycle-space.com

And how many people didn’t report their confrontations? Daily either I or other pedistrians shriek at bicyclists who don’t bother using the [intrusive bicycle lanes] and chug by in a car lane; ignore traffic lights; ride in the wrong direction or zip by on sidewalks.

Scott Calvert wrote “States Race to Catch Up With Electric Scooters California– lawmakers passed bill on new two-wheeled vehicles; more states planning legislation.”

Quoting “Douglas Shinkle, transportation program director at the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “Only about 10 states currently have laws that apply to vehicle categories that appear to include e-scooters, he said, and only California’s legislature has passed a bill specifically addressing them….. ‘These e-scooters are being used. That tells you they’re filling a need.’”

The electric scooter discussion in venues such as curbed.com is focused on pilot programs and safety by rejiggering street design with repaving programs. Shouldn’t there also be a safe pedestrian lane? And who gets the bike lane—electric scooters or bicycles or will already stretched avenues and streets give up yet more space to alternative vehicles to cars? What are your thoughts about electric scooters in cities?

 

Photo: thelocal.fr

Service of So Much Cheese When Many Have Nothing to Eat

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

Photo: myrecipes.com

I have never understood why in all these years someone hasn’t figured out how to take a surplus of cheese in this country to feed the hungry here and all over the world. Wouldn’t this be better than to toss the cheese once it is no longer edible?

According to Heather Haddon in The Wall Street Journal, “About 1.4 billion pounds of American, cheddar and other kinds of cheese is socked away at cold-storage warehouses across the country, the biggest stockpile since federal record-keeping began a century ago.”

Her headline covers it: “America Can’t Move Its Cheese–U.S. stockpiles of American, cheddar and other varieties continue to set new records as trade slows and tastes change.”

We still like and buy plenty of cheese. Haddon reported that last year we each ate about 37 pounds of it. “I don’t eat any cheese,” say you. That means someone else eats even more than 37 pounds! Wow.

Photo: italianfoodforever.com

As her headline indicates, trade tensions—retaliatory tariffs—have “tamped down demand” especially from Mexico and China. At the same time Americans favor more sophisticated varieties accounting for an additional reason for the glut. “Per capita consumption of mozzarella has topped cheddar since 2010. Consumption of processed cheese spreads per capita is about half what it was in 2006.” Robust pizza sales account for mozzarella’s taking the top spot.

Nevertheless, if you’re hungry, a piece of tasteless orange cheese can be welcome and lifesaving.

Photo: alltech.com

Cheese makers aren’t alone to suffer. “Milk prices are down around 40% from a 2014 peak that encouraged many farmers to expand their herds. Now dairies are going out of business as prices crash. More than 600 dairy farms have closed this year in Wisconsin alone.”

Do you eat cheese? What is your favorite? Can you figure out how the cheese surplus here might be put to good use before it spoils, especially to feed the hungry? Have you noticed that milk prices have decreased at the grocery store?

Photo: about-france.com

Service of Hidden Talent & Passion—Just Look Around You!

Monday, December 24th, 2018

Photo Hiddentalents-uk.com

I’m in awe of the talents and interests of people I know that stretch well beyond their day jobs. Here’s a preliminary list:

Elizabeth, a former newspaper reporter and office administrator whose dance card is currently filled with countless charitable projects is also a master bridge player.

Martha, who owns a Boston art gallery, speaks Italian, Greek, Portuguese, French and Japanese. She is also a news junkie.

Photo Personalcreations.com

Homer, a retired international banker, has been a skilled genealogist for 40+ years with several books under his belt. He has also become a talented and inspired cook.

Barbara, a retired physical therapist, is an accomplished baker and an expert at all things stitch-related from cross and tailoring to a range of crafts.

Nancie, one of her industry’s crack publicists, is the first to know about and attend blockbuster exhibitions, cultural, sports and fun events in NYC and around the globe.

Marketing and communications specialist Erica is a culture vulture. You’ll see her weekly in theaters and at concerts, ballets, movie houses and exhibitions.

Daniel is an administrator, pet caretaker and actor.

Photo: Joshua M. Cintrón

Edward, auto body shop owner, is active in local politics, an avid Facebook poster and remodeler of distressed properties.

David, the principal of his PR agency, is a jazz aficionado.

Josh, an IT-expert, has many passions in addition to his day job. He is also a photographer, [photo above], and amateur radio operator whose fascination covers  trains, especially subways.

Can you add to this list of remarkable people? How do they find time to work while nurturing their other talents and interests?

Photo: windowsreport.com

Service of Perspective: No Right to Complain, Things Could Be Worse

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Photo: guywithbowtie.com

It was only lunchtime and I’d already had one of those days in which bad news was followed by disappointment and I figured nothing else could go wrong but it did not only for me, but for several friends. I was paying for lunch at my favorite deli next to my office and the young cashier asked me “How’s everything?” and I replied with a sad sack expression, “Could be better.”

Photo: infinite-beyond.com

She smiled and said, “You are alive and you are in good health. That’s all that’s important.” I thanked and agreed with her. Her job was to stand in a drafty spot for hours, she spoke with a strong accent so she was most likely living in an unfamiliar city and I was complaining? I felt ashamed.

Some believe that everything happens for a reason and I have a vivid example to illustrate it. When a large antique desk didn’t sell at auction, we had it delivered back to our apartment. [Wood is “out” don’t you know.] We’d tried to sell it for lack of space but nevertheless found a place for it and kept it empty. When we subsequently moved boxes of belongings to the apartment we had just the place to store the contents–in this desk!

The same day the conversation at the deli happened a friend sent me this photo of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. [Photo below]. Looking at all those names and recognizing that I was to enjoy another Christmas with my dear husband and family my predicaments and frustrations shrank into perspective.

It is in this spirit that I will end the week.

Does it help you to pull yourself out of a glum mindset by acknowledging others have it much worse than you ever will?

 

 

 

 

Service of Employee Behavior: It Reflects on a Company’s or Organization’s Image

Monday, December 17th, 2018

Photo: perfect.image.co.uk

Brearley girls date unknown. Photo: fadepop.top

Most organizations diligently protect their images but it’s not always clear to members or employees how important each person can be.

I was first aware of this as a young child. We wore school uniforms. Students were asked to behave  in public to reflect well on the school. “You represent us out there.” Made sense to me. [Many of us graduated from the school bus and took NYC public transportation as early as 5th grade.]

What about corporations? Just last week a friend told me that she’d had a few good job interviews via Skype with various people at a company and never received a response when she followed up with one of the staffers to see if she was still in the running. Such thoughtlessness on the part of a company’s employees reflects poorly on it.

Photo: careeraddict.com

How difficult is it for someone to draft a simple note–approved by the appropriate entities–to send any candidate the  moment they are no longer being considered for a position? It took less than one minute to write this rough draft: “Hello________. Our job search took a different direction since we spoke. We enjoyed meeting you, thank you for your time, and have kept your resume on file. We look forward to being in touch again should the right position open up. We wish you all the best.” It’s important to keep up the spirits of anyone looking for a job and to make every candidate feel good about themselves. It costs little to do and reflects well on a company if its employees show empathy.

Photo: psychologies.co.uk

In my line of work following up is my middle name.  I don’t expect to hear from people I pursue in my PR and fundraising efforts unless they are interested in my client’s product or event or in participating in a fundraising project. If the answer is “NO,” I am grateful to be told and think well of the person [and by extension, their company] for taking the time because they have been mindful of mine.

Are there other subtle ways that employees and students can boost—or detract—from the image of the company or organization they work for or attend? Is caring about such details passé?

Perfect image. Photo: richardaustinimages.wordpress.com

Service of Taking All the Credit: When Your Boss is a Glory Hog

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Photo: projid.com

I recently wrote about humble bosses. This post is about a different kind.

Many bosses don’t realize—or don’t care–that they are doing themselves a disservice in the long run to take credit for or steal their staffers’ ideas. It doesn’t cost anything to give due credit but some can’t help themselves. That was the topic of Sue Shellenbarger’s article in The Wall Street Journal, “Hey, That’s My Idea! When Your Boss Steals Your Work.”

Photo:work.chron.com

Eventually, the people who report to such a superior ask for a transfer, leave the company or save their ideas, divulging them only at an opportune moment, such as when they walk out of the office with the boss’s boss or when they substitute for the boss at a meeting.

A close cousin of this behavior is what has happened to women in meetings for generations and still does. They’ll propose an idea, nobody reacts and a few minutes later a man makes the same suggestion. At this point the team leader goes bonkers with praise and the strategy is added to the “to do” list. Joanne Lipman, author of “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together,” addresses it.

Photo: money.usnews.com

If you’re chairman of a volunteer committee and you pull either stunt you’ll eventually find yourself to be a committee of one.

How have you handled a credit-grabbing boss? Have you manipulated such a boss into proposing something that benefited you? Do you think it’s the boss’s prerogative to take all the credit for a good idea as he/she would be given the blame should a project in the department go south?

Photo: plaidswan.com

 

Service of Two Marketing Home Runs & a Third That Strikes Out

Monday, December 10th, 2018

I am gleeful when I see a clever marketing campaign and am almost offended when what I thought was a smart organization falls short.

Here are two good ones and one not so.

Poster Perfect

I enjoyed a witty set of advertising posters on the Lexington Avenue express subway produced by Seamless, a food ordering and delivery service that’s part of the GrubHub family. It reminded readers that it knows its neighbors and what they most like to eat.

The campaign, written in a New York-y voice is eye-catching, and a mini relief for passengers in uncomfortable circumstances, inspiring them to smile.

Some of the headlines were:

  • “The Most Potassium-Rich Neighborhood –Murray Hill– based on the number of banana orders. No one’s cramping here”
  • “The Loudest Neighborhood–Park Slope Brooklyn –based on the number of chip orders. Your neighbors can actually hear you crunching”
  • “The Neighborhood in Most Need of a Vacation–Dyker Heights Brooklyn– based on the number of tropical smoothies ordered. Just take one already.

Subway Smiles

Another subway campaign hit the spot. Coca-Cola: Happiness starts with a smile – YouTube was produced by a Belgian agency. An actor looking at something on his tablet on a crowded train begins to laugh and his giggles are contagious. The tagline is “Happiness starts with a smile.” Towards the end of the ride people wearing red tee-shirts with the Coke logo hand passengers cans of soda and a postcard with the theme.

The Long and the Short of It

Photo: politico.com

The second Obama Foundation Summit produced a lame campaign as far as its outreach to me is concerned. It came via email. The subject line “I want to hear your story Jeanne.” The theme: “Common Hope Uncommon Stories.”

Janelle Monáe, who signed the email, wrote: “No matter how different each of our tales are, we must do what we can to help each other achieve the extraordinary. When someone shares their story, we see the world through their eyes. That’s why I’m reaching out today. I want to hear your tale. Tell me your story in 10 words or less: How do you work towards a better future?”

I can be succinct but 10 words on a serious subject doth not a serious request make–even for an elevator pitch. Think that was a typo? Its impact on me: I stopped reading well before the bright red DONATE link at the bottom. I can think of some snarky 10 word retorts, such as “Get rid of the president,” though I’m not sure that they reflect me and my story. How many personal stories “work towards a better future?” Am I being persnickety and too literal? Have I lost my sense of humor?

Have you seen any clever ad campaigns on public transportation—trains, busses, subways? Was the Obama Foundation’s communication a fundraiser for the hip and therefore way over my head?

Photo: usatoday.com

Service of I Love New York… But Don’t Push It

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

I was born and grew up in NYC and consider it a beloved relative that makes me glow with pride sometimes and bristle other times. On my walk to work my eye caught a menorah installed right next to a Christmas wreath [photo above] illustrating the comfortable diversity I admire. I turned around to see a homeless person huddled in the cold on a nearby bench, [photo right, below], striking my heart, but in the opposite way.

The New Year will bring with it two ham-fisted decisions that impact transportation and will punch the Big Apple in the gut. Worse: Nobody seems to be directing the big picture.

Congestion Pricing Will Give Yellow Taxis the Flu

The January 1, 2019 $2.50 congestion pricing fee will help destroy the already limping yellow cab industry and hurt citizens of modest or microscopic means who rely on traditional cabs. Many can’t manage busses or subways, can’t afford limos or don’t have smartphones to hire car services like Uber or Lyft. The fee impacts “any yellow cab, e-hail or other for-hire vehicle trips that start, pass through or end in a designated ‘congestion zone’ below 96th Street in Manhattan,” Vincent Barone wrote in amny.com.

Photo: ny.curbed.com

What’s the destination of the some $400 million the tax man anticipates collecting? According to Barone, it will help the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA]  which is “financially strapped.”

Services like Lyft and Uber are charged a $2.75 fee but because they can fiddle with their basic price which yellow taxis can’t, they could make rides cheaper than traditional cabs—another stab to the financial heart of their competitor.

Photo: canacopegdi.com

Barone reported: “‘The fact that it will cost $5.80 to step into a taxi cab now is going to be devastating for the taxi industry,’ TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said after a City Council oversight hearing on the surcharges, referencing the existing fees on taxi trips. ‘The other sectors … have more flexibility. They have to add $2.75 on but they’re not bound to a metered fare, so they can reduce the price of the trip so that the passenger doesn’t feel the effect of the $2.75.’”

Pay More Get Less on Trains & Busses

nypost.com

And what about the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] that, in addition to benefiting from the congestion pricing taxi fee is fighting to get a 4 percent increase in subway and bus fares next year? Here are highlights of its cost-cutting proposal, according to 710 WOR radio new: “Among the plans is to change the temperature on subway trains, providing riders with less heat in the winter and less air conditioner in the summer. The proposal would also result in fewer trains and buses on some lines that could lead to overcrowding.  Trains would also be cleaned less frequently.” Good plan: Charge more, give less.

What and/or who is to blame for the MTA’s financial woes? Fare beaters according to Andy Byford the president of NYC Transit.

Who’s Running the Place?

Bill de Blasio. Photo: en.wikipedia.org

William Neuman in a New York Times article may have hit on a reason for the shambles hitting transportation and, I suspect, other sectors in the city. He reported that New York Mayor de Blasio “rarely meets with many of his commissioners, according to the schedules, at times making it difficult for department heads to advance new ideas at City Hall, or to inform the mayor about problems at their agencies.”

Worse, his City Hall attendance record shocked me. Neuman reported that he averaged 19 days a month in the office in 2014; 17 days a month the next year falling to 14 in 2016 and last year, 9—only 5 in July! It’s up to 10 on average this year. Further, wrote Neuman, he “was at City Hall just four of the first 39 Fridays this year, according to the schedules.” [Remember when Mayor Bloomberg was creamed for being out of town once, for a major snowstorm?]

Will congestion pricing to hit cabs positively impact the city’s severe traffic challenges? Is the potential increase in public transit fares along with a decrease in comfort for riders badly timed? Do these moves tell citizens “If you can’t afford the city and can’t handle a nasty subway ride, get out” even louder than ever before? Would strong leadership avert or lessen the transportation tangle? Do you live in a town or city that works seamlessly?

Photo: Newberg.k12.or.us

Service of Cashless Restaurants

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Photo: time.com

A recent Facebook conversation I followed was about coins. The writer said coins drove him nuts and suggested they should be canned. Most of the respondents disagreed for reasons ranging from saved coins helped pay for vacations to fondness for them. I pay for less and less with cash but am nevertheless on the side of saving coins if only for nostalgic reasons.

As I use my credit card a lot I’m fine with paying for food or anything else with mine. But plenty of folks are paid in cash or don’t have one for whatever reason. They also might not own a smartphone to access digital payment via Apple Pay for example.

Photo: infobarrel

Ritchie J. Torres, a New York City Council Member, says “the [cashless] business model is classist and racist,” according to Chris Fuhrmeister on eater.com. Torres said he sees the trend “as a way to gentrify the marketplace.”

Some 22 million Americans don’t have a bank account Furhmeister reported. An early adopter whose restaurant is now closed told him that if customers didn’t even have a debit card they most likely didn’t have a bank account and shouldn’t expect to eat in his [now defunct] restaurant.

Photo: shakeshack.com

Celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer gave up the model in his Shake Shack burger chain because of customer complaints according to Fuhrmeister. His pricey Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants such as Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern remain cash-free.

The impact goes beyond the poor. Furhmeister wrote: “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter and critic, and former Eater NY editor, Melissa McCart made a salient point in her report on the topic earlier this year: ‘[I]n an era when an increasing number of restaurants no longer accept legal tender, it’s useful to think about who this system benefits most: the businesses and banks, at the expense of consumers.’ Do businesses and banks really need more power? It’s a question more local governments may want to consider.”

Photo: freecreditreport.com

There are other issues to consider, good and bad. A cashless retail business won’t be robbed. Also, many people pay the restaurant bill by credit card and leave tips in cash so that the right person gets the money. Would this continue or would the restaurant owner continue to control the tips? [Meyer, mentioned above, runs tipless restaurants as well.] The government must love the concept as there’s no revenue to hide from the tax man.

Do you pay for things mostly in cash, credit card or digitally? Do you like coins? Would you miss cash if it no longer existed? Do you agree with McCart that big time beneficiaries of the credit card/debit card only model are businesses and banks–Uncle Sam too–with consumers the losers? Will the cashless trend spread to other retail industries if it’s not stopped? Should the cashless retail model be outlawed?

Photo: freepik.com

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