10 (un)American Icons

1. Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
You’ve likely seen the Anheuser-Busch commercials that were shown during the Olympics. You know, the ones that are oozing with everything American – football, tailgating, the Statue of Liberty, riding motorcycles, playing in a garage band, and, of course, a fat slice of apple pie. In case you didn’t get the hint, they’re reminding you that their All American Ale is still All American. But it’s not American at all! Earlier this year, Anheuser Busch Inc was bought by InBev, the Belgian brewer. The deal, soon to close, will make the new combined company “Anheuser Busch InBev” the largest beer company in the world.

2. The Chrysler Building
In July, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council’s sovereign wealth fund bought a 90% stake in the Chrysler building for an estimated $800 million. The building management will remain under Tishman Speyer Properties, who owns the remaining 10%. Prior to Abu Dhabi’s purchase, the majority (75%) of the building was owned by TMW, a German real estate fund.

3. The Plaza Hotel
The Plaza hotel, near Central Park, is co-owned by Prince bin Alwaleed bin Talal and Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva’s El-Ad Group. The hotel’s ownership passed through the hands of the Hiltons and the Trumps until Trump sold to the partnership for $325 million in 1995.

4. Essex House in Manhattan
This landmark hotel was bought by the Dubai Investment Group in 2005 and is under management by the Dubai based hospitality group, Jumeriah. Jumeriah operates the only 7-star hotel in the world—the Burj Al Arab in the UAE.

5. 7-Eleven
Yes, 7-Eleven is a subsidiary of the Japanese company Seven & I Holdings. The company faced financial difficulties in the 80s, and was rescued by one of the franchisees in Japan. In the 90s, Seven & I bid for and received a controlling share of the company.

6. The Chicago Skyway
In 2005, the city of Chicago sold a 99-year lease on the eight-mile Chicago Skyway for $1.83 billion to the Skyway Concession Company, which is jointly owned by the Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Sydney, Australia, and the Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte of Madrid, Spain. Chicago used the money to pay off debt and fund road projects.

7. Indiana Toll Road
“The Crossroads of America” is owned by the crossroads of Spain and Australia. Like the Chicago Skyway, the Indiana Toll Road is owned by Macquarie Infrastructure Group.

bull1.jpg8. Merrill Lynch
The iconic bull down in Battery Park may no longer represent United States’ economic fortitude. In January, ML raised $6.6 billion from the sale of its preferred stock to three foreign investors: Korean Investment Corporation, Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group Inc, and the Kuwaiti Investment Authority.

9. Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe, a manager of Rexall drugs, bought the Rexall store chain, changed the name and began offering exotic, environmental, and healthy food. In 1979 ALDI, a German company, bought out the company.

10. Genentech
The largest biotech firm in America is actually owned by the Swiss. In fact, they just made an unsolicited offer to acquire the 44% of the firm that it does not already own for about $44 billion.

[Source: mental floss by Diana floss]

Top 3 Most and Least “Fee Crazy” Airlines

Most Fee Crazy Airlines:

[Source: Consumerist]

  1. U.S. Airways: Not only does U.S. Airways have the distinction of being the only US airline to charge for water, they were also the first to discontinue free snacks. They’ve also decided to do away with in-flight entertainment. So what will you think about while you’re bored, hungry and thirsty? How about that $15 first checked bag fee, the $25 second checked bag fee, the $5-30$ fee to choose your favorite economy class seat, and the whopping $250 fee you paid to change your ticket. Oh, yeah, and remember when they made everyone crazy by charging a $5 fee to book a ticket… with their own website?
  2. United Airlines: United is following U.S. Airways lead with a combination of cutting amenities and introducing fees. They’ve done away with snacks and are selling “snack boxes.” Soon, United will be raising the prices for these items and economy class passengers will be expected to pay $9 for a sandwich. While you’re munching on that overpriced nonsense, you can add up the following fees: $15 to check your first bag, $25 for the second bag, and $125 for the third. Then there’s the $25 you paid to book your ticket over the phone, the $125 you paid for the privilege of traveling with your pet in the cabin, and of course, the $349 per year that you pay to be able to “stretch out and relax in comfort in seats located at the front of the Economy section,”..”if available.”
  3. (tie) Delta Airlines & American Airlines: American was the first airline to charge for the 1st checked bag, and Delta has managed to resist that fee — but Delta’s other fees are just so darn expensive that we had to call this one a tie. Ultimately, it costs more to check two bags with Delta than it does with U.S. Airways, United, or American. American currently charges $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second, and from $3-6 for snacks. Delta charges nothing for the first checked bag, but if you’re thinking of checking two bags, get ready to pay $50 for the second bag, and $125 for the third bag. Ouch! Delta’s snacks are complimentary, but they charge from $1-10 more for certain special items.

Least Fee Crazy Airlines:

  1. Southwest Airlines: Southwest is the only major airline that isn’t charging a fee to check two bags, and the third checked bag will only cost you $25. There is also no fee to change your ticket. Instead, you’ll get a flight credit that is good for one year. They don’t charge a fee to book over the phone or in person, and they don’t charge a fee for an unaccompanied minor.
  2. AirTran: AirTran has fees but they’re lower than a lot of its competitors. For example, the 2nd checked bag is $10 and the third is $50. The ticket change fee is $75, and unaccompanied minors will only cost you $39, as opposed to $100 on Delta, United, etc. You will pay $6 for an advanced seat assignment and $20 to sit in an exit row.
  3. JetBlue: JetBlue keeps threatening to go over to the dark side with new charges for things that used to be free (headsets $1, blankets and pillows $7) but they still have some of the more reasonable fees in the industry. There is no charge for the first checked back, and the second bag will cost you $20. Changing your ticket will cost you $100, and expect to pay from $10-20 more for their mini-business class “extra legroom” seats. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are plentiful and free, however. Love those blue potato chips.

If you’re looking for an easy way to compare fees, check out this excellent PDF from the folks at SmarterTravel.com, Airfarewatchdog.com, and SeatGuru.com.

Dealing with Difficult People

[source: Think Simple Now ]
Can you recall the last time you had to deal with a negative or difficult person? Or the last time someone said something with the intention of hurting you? How did you handle it? What was the result? What can you do in the future to get through these situations with peace and grace?

No matter where we go, we will face people who are negative, people who oppose our ideas, people who piss us off or people who simply do not like us. There are 6.4 billion people out there and conflict is a fact of life. This fact isn’t the cause of conflict but it is the trigger to our emotions and our emotions are what drive us back to our most basic survival instinct; react and attack back to defend ourselves.

In these instinctual moments, we may lose track of our higher selves and become the human animal with an urge to protect ourselves when attacked. This too is natural. However, we are the only animal blessed with intelligence and having the ability to control our responses. So how can we do that?

I regularly get asked “How do you deal with the negative comments about your articles? They are brutal. I don’t think I could handle them.” My answer is simple, “I don’t let it bother me to begin with.” It wasn’t always this simple, and took me some time before overcoming this natural urgency to protect myself and attack back.

I know it’s not easy, if it was easy, there wouldn’t be difficult or negative people to begin with.

Why Bother Controlling Our Responses?

* Hurting Ourselves – One of my favorite sayings is “Holding a grudge against someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The only person we hurt is ourselves. When we react to negativity, we are disturbing our inner space and mentally creating pain within ourselves.

* It’s Not About You, It’s About Them – I’ve learned that when people initiate negativity, it is a reflection of their inner state expressed externally and you just happen to be in front of that expression. It’s not personal, so why do we take it personally? In short: Because our ego likes problems and conflict. People are often so bored and unhappy with their own lives that they want to take others down with them. There have been many times when a random person has left a purposefully hurtful comment on TSN, and regularly checked back to see if anyone else responded to their comment, waiting eagerly to respond with more negativity.

* Battle of the Ego – When we respond impulsively, it is a natural and honest response. However, is it the smart thing to do? What can be resolved by doing so? The answer: Nothing. It does however feed our ego’s need for conflict. Have you noticed that when we fight back, it feels really satisfying in our heads? But it doesn’t feel very good in our soul? Our stomach becomes tight, and we start having violent thoughts? When we do respond irrationally, it turns the conversation from a one-sided negative expression into a battle of two egos. It becomes an unnecessary and unproductive battle for Who is Right?

* Anger Feeds Anger. Negativity Feeds Negativity. – Rarely can any good come out of reacting against someone who is in a negative state. It will only trigger anger and an additional reactive response from that person. If we do respond impulsively, we’ll have invested energy in the defending of ourselves and we’ll feel more psychologically compelled to defend ourselves going forward. Have you noticed that the angrier our thoughts become, the angrier we become? It’s a negative downward spiral.

* Waste of Energy – Where attention goes, energy flows. What we focus on tends to expand itself. Since we can only focus on one thing at a time, energy spent on negativity is energy that could have been spent on our personal wellbeing.

* Negativity Spreads – I’ve found that once I allow negativity in one area of my life, it starts to subtly bleed into other areas as well. When we are in a negative state or holding a grudge against someone, we don’t feel very good. We carry that energy with us as we go about our day. When we don’t feel very good, we lose sight of clarity and may react unconsciously to matters in other areas of our lives, unnecessarily.

* Freedom of Speech – People are as entitled to their opinions as you are. Allow them to express how they feel and let it be. Remember that it’s all relative and a matter of perspective. What we consider positive can be perceived by another as negative. When we react, it becomes me-versus-you, who is right? Some people may have a less than eloquent way of expressing themselves – it may even be offensive, but they are still entitled to do so. They have the right to express their own opinions and we have the right and will power to choose our responses. We can choose peace or we can choose conflict.

15 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

While I’ve had a lot of practice dealing with negativity, it is something I find myself having to actively work on. When I’m caught off guard and end up resorting to a defensive position, the result rarely turns out well.

The point is, we are humans after all, and we have emotions and egos. However, by keeping our egos in-check and inserting emotional intelligence, we’ll not only be doing a favor for our health and mental space, but we’ll also have intercepted a situation that would have gone bad, unnecessarily.

difficult-people-dealing.jpg
Photo by Kara Pecknold

Here are some tips for dealing with a difficult person or negative message:

1. Forgive – What would the Dali Lama do if he was in the situation? He would most likely forgive. Remember that at our very core, we are good, but our judgment becomes clouded and we may say hurtful things. Ask yourself, “What is it about this situation or person that I can seek to understand and forgive?“

2. Wait it Out – Sometimes I feel compelled to instantly send an email defending myself. I’ve learned that emotionally charged emails never get us the result we want; they only add oil to the fire. What is helpful is inserting time to allow ourselves to cool off. You can write the emotionally charged email to the person, just don’t send it off. Wait until you’ve cooled off before responding, if you choose to respond at all.

3. “Does it really matter if I am right?” – Sometimes we respond with the intention of defending the side we took a position on. If you find yourself arguing for the sake of being right, ask “Does it matter if I am right?” If yes, then ask “Why do I need to be right? What will I gain?“

4. Don’t Respond – Many times when a person initiates a negative message or difficult attitude, they are trying to trigger a response from you. When we react, we are actually giving them what they want. Let’s stop the cycle of negative snowballing and sell them short on what they’re looking for; don’t bother responding.

5. Stop Talking About It – When you have a problem or a conflict in your life, don’t you find that people just love talking about it? We end up repeating the story to anyone who’ll listen. We express how much we hate the situation or person. What we fail to recognize in these moments is that the more we talk about something, the more of that thing we’ll notice. Example, the more we talk about how much we dislike a person, the more hate we will feel towards them and the more we’ll notice things about them that we dislike. Stop giving it energy, stop thinking about it, and stop talking about it. Do your best to not repeat the story to others.

6. Be In Their Shoes – As cliché as this may sound, we tend to forget that we become blind sighted in the situation. Try putting yourself in their position and consider how you may have hurt their feelings. This understanding will give you a new perspective on becoming rational again, and may help you develop compassion for the other person.

7. Look for the Lessons – No situation is ever lost if we can take away from it some lessons that will help us grow and become a better person. Regardless of how negative a scenario may appear, there is always a hidden gift in the form of a lesson. Find the lesson(s).

8. Choose to Eliminate Negative People In Your Life – Negative people can be a source of energy drain. And deeply unhappy people will want to bring you down emotionally, so that they are not down there alone. Be aware of this. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands and do not mind the energy drain, I recommend that you cut them off from your life. Cut them out by avoiding interactions with them as much as possible. Remember that you have the choice to commit to being surrounded by people who have the qualities you admire: optimistic, positive, peaceful and encouraging people. As Kathy Sierra said, “Be around the change you want to see in the world.”

9. Become the Observer – When we practice becoming the observer of our feelings, our thoughts and the situation, we separate ourselves away from the emotions. Instead of identifying with the emotions and letting them consume us, we observe them with clarity and detachment. When you find yourself identifying with emotions and thoughts, bring your focus on your breathe.

10. Go for a Run … or a swim, or some other workout. Physical exercise can help to release the negative and excess energy in us. Use exercise as a tool to clear your mind and release built up negative energy.

11. Worst Case Scenario – Ask yourself two questions, “If I do not respond, what is the worst thing that can result from it?“, “If I do respond, what is the worst thing that can result from it?” Answering these questions often adds perspectives to the situation, and you’ll realize that nothing good will come out of reacting. Your energy will be wasted, and your inner space disturbed.

12. Avoid Heated Discussions – When we’re emotionally charged, we are so much in our heads that we argue out of an impulse to be right, to defend ourselves, for the sake of our egos. Rationality and resolution can rarely arise out of these discussions. If a discussion is necessary, wait until everyone has cooled off before diving into one.

13. Most Important – List out things in your life most important to you. Then ask yourself, “Will a reaction to this person contribute to the things that matter most to me?“

14. Pour Honey – This doesn’t always work, but sometimes catches people off guard when they’re trying to “Pour Poison” on you. Compliment the other person for something they did well, tell them you’ve learned something new through interacting with them, and maybe offer to become friends. Remember to be genuine. You might have to dig deep to find something that you appreciate about this person.

15. Express It – Take out some scrap paper and dump all the random and negative thoughts out of you by writing freely without editing. Continue to do so until you have nothing else to say. Now, roll the paper up into a ball, close your eyes and visualize that all the negative energy is now inside that paper ball. Toss the paper ball in the trash. Let it go!

How do you deal with difficult people? What has worked well for you in the past? How do you cool down when you’re all fired up and angry? Share your thoughts in the comments. See you there!

Iconic Noodle Celebrates 50th Anniversary

In January 2007, media the world over noted the passing, at age 96, of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. When I found out that Ando’s funeral would be held at a baseball stadium in Osaka, I used frequent flier miles to get there. Everyone there was in black suits and ties.

Inside, the stadium had been decorated to look like outer space. Blue lights twinkled in the bleachers, and galaxies twirled on video monitors. Six thousand people sat in the dark on folding chairs facing the home run wall, where rows of Buddhist monks framed a long white stage. The theme was an homage to Space Ram, the instant noodle that Ando developed for astronauts, but also to Halley’s Comet, which showed up in 1910, the year Ando was born. Ando had brought ramen from the heavens, and now he was returning home.

[source NPR]

Deeper Beijing Pool Responsible For Tumbling Swimming Record?

The Beijing pool is 3 metres deep, a metre deeper than standard competitive pools. As explained in this week’s issue of New Scientist magazine, the extra depth helps dissipate the turbulence caused by the swimmer’s movement, causing less resistance. In other words, they are being helped by the architecture.

You could argue that technological “fixes” like this diminish the value of modern sporting records, making it unfair to compare the performances of this year’s athletes with those through history. Some critics have suggested, for example, that since the reduced friction suits used by runners and swimmers give them an undeniable advantage over previous competitors, their race times should be adjusted downwards to reflect this.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that there is no end to it. Technology – science too – has always been part of sport, from the design of runners’ shoes and aerodynamic bikes to the development of improved training regimes and performance-enhancing diets.

[source]