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How I Avoid Burnout: Julian Woods, Merchant Seaman

Social isolation, stress, and claustrophobic spaces are the norm for Julian Woods, a merchant seaman for 15 years. These days he sails on a commercial barge transporting fuel—for three weeks straight, with just one other crew member. He’s on duty from midnight to noon, and his shipmate works the other 12 hours. At docks, he loads or unloads 50,000 barrels of fuel through a hose. “There’s plenty of horrifying scenarios to imagine, like the boat hitting something and sinking, or the fuel exploding,” Woods says. “We’re basically on a giant stick of dynamite.” He spends his off-hours in a noisy space below deck. “You don’t necessarily have 12 restful hours,” he says. Here are his tips for staying calm and centered:

Look alive. Be “alert and mindful,” not “stressed as hell because I might die. You shouldn’t be too relaxed, but it shouldn’t feel like you’re at war.”

Find friends. Choose five people to stay in close touch with—not dozens. “It’s good to have a few people that expect you to call and will check in on you to see how you’re doing. Because when you’re stressed out, it won’t even occur to you to reach out.” With one friend, he exchanges news articles and discusses them; a psychologist friend offers advice. “She grounds me and can help me see the big picture. She’s a very helpful person to have in my pocket, kind of like a personal therapist.”

Get perspective. Woods, who is black, has logged multiweek stints alone with a racist shipmate. “I’ve worked with guys who were like, without question, racist—using racial slurs in front of me, just truly not caring.” Your current lockdown situation is likely rosy by comparison, no matter how difficult some family members or colleagues might be. “I think about people’s upbringings, and how people are a collection of their experiences and the influences of their families, and that perspective helps calm me down and remember that it’s not personal—no one is actually out to get me.” He credits the documentary Accidental Courtesy with helping him adopt this perspective.

Try meditation. Woods took a transcendental meditation course through the David Lynch Foundation. “It’s been life-changing, to be honest.” He meditates for 20 minutes twice a day, before and after his shift, often with the Waking Upapp.

  • Look forward. Woods’s longest time on the water was 40 days. “It was as horrible as it sounds. Nerves start to get frayed, and people start snapping at you, isolating and making mistakes.” But long trips involve fun ports, like in Japan, Hong Kong, and India. “Having that to look forward to helps manage the stress in a lot of ways.” Create events you’re excited about each week, even if it’s just that Thursday afternoon nap or a virtual co-watching movie night.

Woods figures that if he can acclimate to those conditions, you can adapt to working from home in social isolation during a pandemic. “I think,” he says, “you can get used to anything.”

posted on Bloomberg “ Working From Home”

Green Valentines Day

What’s the best green Valentine’s Day gift? With apologies to all the rose lovers out there, but roses aren’t green. 

That may be surprising. After all, flowers are natural and compostable. But when we examine climate and flowers, the biggest issue is transportation. Valentine’s Day occurs in the middle of winter for most of the U.S., and Valentine’s Day bouquets have to travel a long way to get to your loved one’s arms. Most of the roses given for Valentine’s Day in the U.S. come from overseas and, particularly, Latin America– especially Colombia and Ecuador, the world’s second- and third-largest exporters of cut flowers after the Netherlands. In fact, Colombia alone shipped more than 4 billion flowers to the U.S. in 2018.

In total, it’s estimated that more than 15,000 tons of flowers are delivered in less than a month to fill Valentine’s bouquets from Ecuador alone. And, because roses are particularly fragile, they have to be flown and trucked in temperature-controlled planes and trucks which has significant consequences for the climate. 
So, what’s a responsible green Valentine gift? 

It’s 100% clean, renewable energy from wind and solar farms.
Take a look at: CleanChoice Energy 

Lunar New Year 2020

LNY is a public holiday in China, which lasts for several days. It is also a public holiday in several countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. The Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a twelve-year cycle, each year in that cycle related to an animal sign. These signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. The start date is calculated according to Chinese lunar calendar.

History. Most of the top traditions of Chinese New Year observed during the 15-day holiday serve one purpose: to usher in a year of good fortune and prosperity. The ancient Chinese lunar calendar, on which Chinese New Year is based, functioned as a religious, dynastic and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records indicate that the calendar existed as early as 14th century B.C., when the Shang Dynasty was ruling. THIS YEAR: Chinese New Year is on Saturday, January 25, 2020.

Traditionally, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are reserved for family celebrations, including religious ceremonies honoring ancestors. Also on New Year’s Day, family members receive red envelopes (lai see) containing small amounts of money. Dances and fireworks are prevalent throughout the holidays, culminating in the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the last day of the New Year’s celebrations. On this night, colorful lanterns light up the houses, and traditional foods such as yuanxiao (sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), and yusheng (raw fish and vegetable salad) are served.

We make our own lanterns at work. It was a fun craft, and we also transplanted “lucky” jade plants to put on our desks.

The Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival, also called Yuan Xiao Festival. It honors deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month (Yuan) of the lunar calendar. The Lantern Festival aims to promote reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness. The holiday marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and the end of the Chinese New Year. During the festival, houses are festooned with colorful lanterns, often with riddles written on them; if the riddle is answered correctly, the solver earns a small gift. Festival celebrations also include lion and dragon dances, parades, and fireworks. The Lantern Festival may originate as far back as the Han dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE), when Buddhist monks would light lanterns on the 15th day of the lunar year in honor of the Buddha. The rite was later adopted by the general population and spread throughout China and other parts of Asia. A legend concerning the festival’s origin tells the tale of the Jade Emperor (You Di), who became angered at a town for killing his goose. He planned to destroy the town with fire, but he was thwarted by a fairy who advised the people to light lanterns across the town on the appointed day of destruction. The emperor, fooled by all the light, assumed the town was already engulfed in flames. The town was spared, and in gratitude the people continued to commemorate the event annually by carrying colorful lanterns throughout the town.

Parade Route in SF

The 2020 Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is on Saturday, February 8. It starts at 5:00 pm at the corner of 2nd and Market Streets in San Francisco, and is one of the largest in the world. There will be lots of fun events for the lunar new year in both February and March. There are hundreds of lively parade entries! The parade also includes several floats, the largest and most popular of which is the 28-foot-long Golden Dragon. It takes a team of more than 100 people to operate and move it through the streets of San Francisco. It then weaves its way through Chinatown and ends at Jackson and Kearny Streets. The parade usually ends around 8pm. Here is a map of the full route. You can watch this wonderful parade in person or on the local station: KTVU Channel 2.

Happy Lunar New Year

We are celebrating the Year of the Rat for 2020! This is a fun activity at work, we gathering together to enjoy a catered lunch (the cost is about $10) and with a group we get more variety of tasty treats, vegetable dishes and even a roast pig! We have tea tasting, displays, and even Lion Dancing.

Year of the Rat began January 25, 2020. Legend has it that a great race determined the order of the 12 zodiac animals. The wise and clever Rat was the first to finish. This Lunar New Year, we celebrate the Rat by retracing its journey and sharing its wisdom for success, happiness and prosperity. Lunar New Year is considered one of the most important holidays for the Asian population. While customs and traditions vary, many consider Lunar New Year as a new beginning and a time to express wishes for good fortune and prosperity throughout the year.

 There are 12 Chinese zodiac animals each with different characteristics and personalities. This upcoming new year is the Year of the Rat and they are known to be adaptable and clever. Each animal in the  Chinese zodiac has different characteristics. Look below for your birth year. If you are born in January, usually you are the animal from the year before.

Rat: 2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960   Adaptable and clever

Horse: 2026, 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966   Enthusiastic and dynamic

Ox: 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961  Reliable and resilient

Goat: 2027, 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967  Compassionate and serene

Tiger: 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962   Courageous and assertive

Monkey: 2028, 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968  Inquisitive and cunning

Rabbit: 2023, 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963   Graceful and attentive

Rooster: 2029, 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969   Punctual and prideful

Dragon: 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964  Bold and vibrant

Dog: 2030, 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970   Loyal and friendly

Snake: 2025, 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965  Strongminded and astute

Pig: 2031, 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971 Sympathetic and kind-hearted (2019 animal)

Plunk a Park in a Lot

A neighborhood feels more friendly with a park. You’ll see more dog walkers, kids zooming on scooters, tots playing and parents watching youngsters play. More is better for the community. In our neighborhood there are lots is parks, and many people using them. This is where I bump into my neighbors. I love our parks and spend a few hours a month picking up trash in our closest parks. It is great to see a small green oasis near where I live.

There are several groups and resources to do this! If you need encouragement, just imagine that trash filled lot turning into a small slice of heaven.  In our local parks we have organizations like FUF – Friends of the Urban Forest, Habitat for Humanity that has a group devoted to making play structures for a low cost, completed by their volunteers. Done in a Day!  We volunteer as a group for our company – a great team treat!

There are more than 43,000 vacant lots in Philadelphia, but if you want to turn one into a park, it’s not as easy as it should be. There are endless delays from the city, and once you get it, park equipment and construction work is often too expensive for a community to afford themselves. So professors at local Thomas Jefferson University found a better way: a simple kit of design elements and easy-to-assemble items that locals can pick from and have delivered in a van and install themselves. They just download the schematics and go to work. And after a few days, they have a new park that they designed and built themselves. Read more.

Even if a park doesn’t fit or there are other obstacles, you and your local friends can consider a community garden.  A couple benches and a tree in a postage stamp sized lot can be quick improvement on a busy street.


A Re-Use Mindset for Companies

Learning Resilience is a goal of many corporations and many small companies. Following the demands of customers is a big win. It is NOT confined to one industry, but a goal for all. Grocery Stores send excess fruit / veg to shelters and food distribution sites. Clothing stores like H & M recycle worn out clothes – keeping those fibers from the landfill and giving their customers a bonus coupon. Restaurants and Caterers give left overs to shelters. There is a giant surge in recycling and reuse in many industries. How do you get prepared? How to you launch a campaign like this?  Look at how North Face does this!

The North Face Reuse Think Tank: One potential area of inquiry is how to extend the life of garments that are too worn out to be repaired. In a pilot workshop of the Renewed Design Residency, which took place in October 2019, four North Face designer had access to a pile of garments that were beyond repair, and each of them created a one-of-a-kind piece from these scraps. These “renewed” pieces include hooded sweatshirts and jackets that have a familiar North Face silhouette, but they also look like they were inspired by bricolage. My favorite piece from the line is a kimono sweater made from an old puffer coat: it’s chic, with clean lines, giving new life to a garment that would have ended up in the trash. Starting today, four pieces that came out of the inaugural Design Residency will be auctioned on the North Face’s Renewed website, and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the North Face Explore Fund, which gives money to environmental nonprofits.

North Face’s Renewed website

CAKE wins Design Award

Everyone in SF is riding bikes, to work, to beat the car traffic and for exercise. In response there are bike lanes where there used to be parking spaces and a large part of our main thoroughfare on Market St. has been closed to traffic.

What does this have to do with CAKE? This is a Swedish company that designs beautiful lightweight electric off-road performance motorcycles.

“It´s truly rewarding that CAKEs most recent and most evident contribution, towards zero emission, the Ösa has been awarded the iF DESIGN AWARD. No matter what the individual need is, in terms of what to bring, the modular multi clamp system serves sustainable transportation, whether in a city or in the outback, exploring. Off the grid independence acknowledged by a world class jury is encouraging!” Says: Stefan Ytterborn, CEO & Founder of CAKE.

About CAKE CAKE is a Swedish company that develops uncompromising high performance electric off-road motorbikes. CAKE’s mission is to inspire towards a zero-emission society, combining excitement with responsibility. All components are made from scratch to optimize the riding performance in this new category. Every little detail is elaborated for perfection, while considering the perspectives of sustainability. It’s all about the outdoors. Explore with respect. Learn more about CAKE at ridecake.com/osa/

Shout out to Habitat!

Habitat for Humanity is one of the best places to volunteer. I’ve helped build homes with the owners. That is exciting! We both learn new skills!

I’ve installed windows on the 3rd floor outside. I learned how to be braver! And is was done safely, so I was grateful to overcome my fear with a great, knowledgable team.

I’ve recommended this organization to friends who also LOVE this experience of doing good and having fun.

Getting Organized with ShareGate 10

Do you use SharePoint extensively? Then you need to use this product. WHY? 

  • You can copy objects from Testing environments to Production
  • Reorganize SharePoint Architecture
  • Copy SharePoint Workflows to a new location
  • Promote a Site to Site Collection
  • Bulk upload and assign Metadata
  • Bulk edit Metadata Tags and Replace Users
  • Move documents but keep properties and version history
  • This tool comes in handy for Business Reorganizations, Platform reorganizations, technology changes and when you are leveraging new technology / features and moving content

Best Practices:  Start here>> Clean up your existing environment before you move data. Determine which sites need to move; look for orphan sites, clean up permissions and access, check-in all documents that are checked-out.  Most important get the naming conventions standardized, ensure the versions are organized correctly as you clean up lists and libraries.

Teach Kids to Code the Fun Way!

I first found out about Piper Computer Kits at Pepcom, and was enthralled. They now have a new version  – it’s made for kids 8 and up. This kit is even cooler with a speaker that you build, and a 9″ monitor.

Here is the kit and blueprints

Kids can actually build a cool computer that really works! The basic idea is that kids start with the basics and build and succeed on small projects. They connect the components and wires, switches and even learn to use Google Blockly and Piper Code.  there are “blue-print” instructions that help you complete the tasks.  Hands on learning is the way to go! Imagine the “bragging rights” at school, I DID THIS!

Teachers: take a look at the projects and details! Your school may be using Piper, you’ll want to get involved.