Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Air Fares are rising... and here's what to do...

We are getting to the holiday season -- and that means holiday travel -- and, unfortunately, rising air fares.  Air fares are generally higher than they were just a few years ago, and with the demand of holiday travel, air fares seem to be rising every day!  Here is an excerpt from a good article on what to do:

By now you know to expect high fares for Christmas and Thanksgiving travel, but there are a few booking secrets you can employ to get ahead of the pack. Here’s what you can do to score to best deal on holiday flights 2013.

So How is 2013 Shaping Up?

Once again, airfare is up and by all analysis the 2013 holiday season will have higher fares than 2012.
Hotwire found that fall airfares for 2013 are up 4 to 5 percent for domestic travel. This fall, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Toronto, and Vancouver represent the best airfare deals for 2013.
Over the holidays, fares are on par with last year according to FareCompare. The site noted that prices are up just 1 percent over 2012, however 2012 prices were at an 8-year high.
Orbitz also noted a fare hike. On average, flights to the top 10 destinations over Thanksgiving are up 9.4 percent. Over the Christmas holiday flights are up 8.6 percent, and flights during New Year’s Eve are up 2.4 percent.

When to Book

calendarIf you’re thinking about Thanksgiving travel, it’s probably too late to take advantage of this year’s lowest fares.
FareCompare CEO and co-founder Rick Seaney claimed last week that you can add $5 every day you wait to book your Thanksgiving ticket. If you wait until October 31, you can expect to pay $140 more.

Read more here: 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shopping for Air Fares

Here's a short article on how to shop for good air fares -- by people who help to set the fares...  

1. Book early-ish. Hardly an exact metric, Brunger concedes, but it means not waiting too long, hoping that an airline will have too many empty seats on the flight you want three to four weeks before departure and get desperate to sell them. (That’s exceedingly rare, and means something went wrong for the revenue manager.) The closer you get to the advance-purchase deadlines, the more clarity airlines usually have on their pricing forecasts. When it works as planned, revenue management means an airline has sold exactly the number of seats at each fare level that it had intended—closer to departure, the seats that are left cost far more.

2. Book at a price satisfactory to you. If you can live with the cost and it seems decent, take the plunge. “If the fare feels like a fairly good fare, I would buy,” Nason said.

Read more here:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Eleven Common Grammar Errors

With school back in gear, we thought this article was appropriate:

You might consider grammar an annoying technicality, a minuscule detail of speech and writing not worth much effort.
But a study last year from the Society for Human Resources and Management shows that 45% of employers plan to increase training for grammar and other language skills (meaning they're unhappy with the levels now). 

Read more:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Powerball and Lottery Math

The Powerball jackpot has reached $400 million.  At this level, does it make sense to buy Powerball tickets??!  When the jackpots for lotteries get up to certain levels, some people think that it makes sense to buy tickets.  However, the math in this article shows that taxes and the odds of multiple winners makes the expected value iffy -- on buying Powerball lottery tickets -- even at these levels.  Good luck!

Powerball winner probability

powerball lottery expected value

Source: W. Hickey

Read more here:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

7 Ways to Boost your Metabolism

Many of us have a sluggish metabolism. This can make it really difficult to lose weight and extremely easy to gain weight. A slow metabolism can also make you tire out easily so you don’t get to enjoy all that life has to offer. However, there is good news. You can easily boost your metabolism naturally if you know how. Below, you will find 7 ways to increase your metabolism:

1. Early Morning Intense Exercise – A short burst of intense exercise when you first get up can do wonders for your metabolism. Dr. Oz has advocated for this method of speeding up the metabolism. The best part is you only have to do about five minutes of intense exercise to reap the benefit all day. The exercise you do can be really simple. Examples would include running in place, jumping jacks, and lunges. Of course, if you have a stair master or a jogging machine, that would work too. Just get your heart rate up for five minutes and cool down for two minutes.

2. Eat More Spicy Foods – Hot spices like curry, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cumin, and turmeric all help the body speed up your metabolism. There are other “hot” spices that you may not think of as hot but they react in the body in this way. They include cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Try adding these tasty spices to your soups, stir-fries, casseroles, and other dishes. Curry goes great in some type of salads like quinoa salads. Some people love the taste of cinnamon in their coffee. Just add it to the grounds before you brew it.

3. Drink Lots of Water – Water is magical in this way. Drink a lot of water and your metabolism will magically increase because the metabolic process needs water to fuel it. It’s even better if you make sure you are drinking alkaline water.

4.Keep Your Thyroid Healthy – To work efficiently, the thyroid needs selenium, zinc, copper, and iodine. However, the American diet is notoriously low in these important minerals. To get more of these minerals, eat more seafood and nuts.

Read more here:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Words and Phrases that Ruin a Resume

Here are some good examples of words and phrases to avoid.  In today's action-oriented world, people want "action" words...

1. “Salary negotiable”

Yes, they know. If you’re wasting a precious line of your resume on this term, it looks as though you’re padding -- that you’ve run out of things to talk about. If your salary is not negotiable, that would be somewhat unusual. (Still, don’t put that on your resume either.)

2. “References available by request”

See the preceding comment about unnecessary terms.

3. “Responsible for ______”

Reading this term, the recruiter can almost picture the C-average, uninspired employee mechanically fulfilling his job requirements -- no more, no less. Having been responsible for something isn’t something you did -- it’s something that happened to you. Turn phrases like “responsible for” into “managed,” “led” or other decisive, strong verbs.

4. “Experience working in ______”

Again, experience is something that happens to you -- not something you achieve. Describe your background in terms of achievements.

5. “Problem-solving skills”
You know who else has problem-solving skills? Monkeys. Dogs. On your resume, stick to skills that require a human.

6. “Detail-oriented”

So, you pay attention to details. Well, so does everyone else. Don’t you have something unique to tell the hiring manager? Plus, putting this on your resume will make that accidental typo in your cover letter or resume all the more comical.

7. “Hardworking” 

Have you ever heard the term “show -- don’t tell”? This is where that might apply. Anyone can call himself a hard worker. It’s a lot more convincing if you describe situations in concrete detail in which your hard work benefited an employer.

For the rest of the article, please click here:

Friday, June 7, 2013

One Thing to do at every Interview

Here's a very good article by Dave Kerpen on LinkedIN.  Click here for the entire article.

I recently interviewed an excellent candidate for a position at our growing startup, Likeable Local. The woman had an incredible resume, an infectious personality, and, seemingly, a good work ethic. She was dressed for success, with a style fitting our culture. She answered my questions well, and seemed like a potential fit for our company. Yet, despite all of this, she didn’t receive another interview, and I we chose to not consider hiring her. What went wrong?
When I asked her what questions she had for me, twice, the job candidate replied, “None, really. I’ve been following you guys online for awhile and feel like I know everything already.”
That was a fatal error, of course. By not asking questions, she told me she wasn’t truly interested in learning more, in creating value, and in our company. She wasn't interested enough in learning more to find out if we were a fit for her. I couldn’t hire an otherwise well-qualified candidate because, in her lack of questions, she displayed a lack of passion for, interest in, and curiosity about our company, the position, and the fit.
The most important thing you must do in every interview is to ask great questions.
The key is to ask great questions- not to ask questions that you should know the answers to already (“What does the position entail?) or questions that make it all about you (“What is your vacation policy?”)
Don't ask questions to check a box. Ask questions out of authentic, genuine curiosity.
Here are 9 great questions you can use or make your own on your next job interview. Of course, don't ask all nine, but choose a couple and tailor them based on your unique circumstances:
1) Who would make the ideal candidate for this position?
2) How will the work I’ll be doing contribute to the organization’s mission?
3) What were the best things about the last person who held this position?
4) What are three ways I can contribute to the company beyond the job description?
5) How can I best contribute to the department’s goals?
6) How do you see me best contributing to the corporate culture and morale?
7) What do you see as the biggest challenges of working here and how can I overcome those challenges?
8) What is your vision for where the company or department will be in one year? In 3-5 years?
9) How can I best help you and the team succeed?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Health Tips: How to Live to 102

Some good health tips: Forbes reports:

  • Eat grains, veggies & fish
  • Avoid soda
  • Indulge - but just a little (snacks; wine)
  • Stay active
  • Do puzzles (keep the mind active)
  • Avoid negativity.

How To Live To 102

Photo credit: Forbes Magazine of Daisy McFadden, age 102.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Noteworthy: Sandwich (Bag) Art


Check it out:

Friday, May 3, 2013

College Expenses - and Teaching as a Profession

Some interesting thoughts from a VP of finance at a top college:

Why College Costs So Much
As high-school seniors around the country open their mailboxes looking for thick envelopes from colleges and universities, their parents are undoubtedly thinking, "Why does college cost so damn much?"—particularly if those children are headed to elite private institutions. Based on my experience as the vice president for finance and administration at a prominent college in the early 2000s, I suggest that the answer is simple: Top private institutions charge what they do because a substantial number of people will pay it.

Setting College Costs

... at the beginning of my tenure as an elite school's chief financial officer, I was surprised to learn from my colleagues that tuition and fees were not set by analyzing budget projections. Instead they were set by looking at a chart of the prior year's tuition charges at comparable schools and then trying to predict their increases for the next year. The goal was to maintain the college's position in the pecking order of total charges. I learned that the most prestigious and desirable institutions have a good deal of information about the shape of the demand curve for the families seeking to obtain elite higher education for their offspring. These schools have the capacity to estimate with some precision how many applicants will go elsewhere for each additional dollar they charge in tuition and fees. Each sets its tuition so as to produce a targeted "yield"—the percentage of accepted students who actually enroll there. If in any year we over- or under-estimated the price changes made by the other schools, and we had moved up or down in rank, we corrected the following year by raising or lowering tuition by more or less to compensate. We essentially followed the price leadership of the wealthiest, most prestigious institutions.

Teaching: A Good Idea?
The results of this market pricing power are straightforward. First, and most significantly—given that 60% to 75% of college costs go to salary and benefits—is handsome compensation for senior faculty and administrators. In the not-so-distant past, the stereotypical scholar was a tweedy professor in a worn sports coat who did underpaid but satisfying work. Today, most junior faculty continue to receive relatively low pay. But senior, tenured faculty at elite schools are firmly entrenched in the well-compensated professional class (top salaries at elite schools often exceed $150,000; and for scholars in economics, business and law schools, earnings can be substantially in excess of that) with superior benefits, such as university-subsided housing, lifetime heath care and seven-figure retirement accounts. Once tenure has been achieved, generally after less than ten years of work, top college teachers face no professional risk and, by and large, teach three or fewer courses a semester. Also, college faculty members usually receive free or highly subsidized higher education for their children—making them even less sensitive to the burden that college tuition and fees impose on other families.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Presentations: Hook an Audience in First 30 Seconds

“When you advertise fire-extinguishers, open with the fire,” says advertising executive David Ogilvy. You have only 30 seconds in a TV commercial to grab attention. The same applies to a presentation. The first 30 seconds of your talk is crucial. This is the time your listeners form an impression of you, and of what’s to follow.
Like a fine thoroughbred, you need to hit the ground running by starting strong. Instead, many presenters are more like old, tired workhorses—they start weak by wasting those first precious seconds with platitudes and pleasantries. Brain research shows that we don’t pay attention to boring things. Surprise your listeners with a hook that immediately grabs their attention.

Read more here:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New U.S. $100 Bill coming out in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it will begin circulating a redesigned $100 bill this fall, more than two years after its initial target.
The Fed has set a target date of Oct. 8. The redesigned note incorporates added security features, such as a blue, 3-D security ribbon and a disappearing Liberty Bell in an inkwell. The features are designed to thwart counterfeiters.
The revamped bill had been expected to go into circulation in February 2011. But in December 2010, officials announced an indefinite delay. They said they needed more time to fix production issues that left unwanted creases in many of the notes.

Read more here:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Job Search Cover Letter

Here's a good article on top 10 things NOT to do:

1. Next to Nothing 
While writing something that's too long is a common cover letter mistake, what can be even more damaging is a cover letter that's too short.

7. Arrogance
It's one thing to promote yourself favorably in a cover letter, but watch that it doesn't degenerate into overt bragging.

This is especially true when it comes to ambiguous skills, says Jennifer Fremont-Smith, CEO of Smarterer, a Boston-based tech startup aimed at helping IT applicants improve their resumes.

"People claim to have things like, 'superior Internet skills.' What does that even mean?" says Fremont-Smith. "I saw an application from a Web developer about a month ago where he described himself as a 'rockstar in design tools,' and an 'expert in developer tools.' 

Read more here:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pernambuco and Carbon Fiber Bows

Carbon fiber bows have been making good headway in the design and manufacture of carbon fiber bows for musical instruments.  Here's a good article:

For over 250 years, pernambuco wood – harvested from the Pau-brasil tree in Brazil – has been the only material found suitable for constructing bows for string instruments. The springiness, strength, and workability of pernambuco wood is unmatched by any other species of tree. 

Carbon fiber is a synthetic material that is both lightweight and super-strong. It consists offibers, thinner than human hair, which can be woven and molded into a permanent shape. Significant advances have been made in the science of carbon fiber over the past several decades. More and more bows (and instruments!) are being made from this material that meet or exceed some of their wooden counterparts. 

Read more here:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ouch: $20,000 Bow broken during travel

article image

Famous German cello soloist Alban Gerhardt claims that his cello bow, valued at $20,000, was damaged by TSA inspectors at Washington's Dulles Airport on Feb. 6.

The bow, which Gerhardt places in a travel case along with the instrument, arrived in Chicago snapped in half and possibly damaged beyond repair.
“My bow must have moved out of its cover, and instead of putting it back in, they just slammed the case shut and broke the bow that way over the bridge,” Gerhardt told Strad Magazine.

Gerhardt was on a trip from Berlin to Madison, Wisconsin, where he was scheduled to perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
After checking the instrument in Berlin, Gerhardt rechecked it in Washington  D.C. as he passed through customs. It was okay at that time, but he discovered the damage upon arriving at Chicago's O'Hare airport, along with an inspection notice from the TSA.

Read more here:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Caffeine in Tea & Coffee

Here's some good information on tea and caffeine -- and coffee.

Caffeine is one the component of tea and all types of tea (except for herbal) contain caffeine. However, the amount of caffeine varies according to type. In general, Green tea contains the least caffeine, Black tea the most, and Oolong falls in the middle range.
  • A cup of Green tea (6 oz) contains 8 to 36 mg of caffeine.
  • A cup of Oolong tea contains 12 to 55 mg of caffeine.
  • A cup of Black tea ranges from 25 - 110 mg.
  • Coffee generally contains 60 - 180 mg of caffeine.
  • Caffeine is not all bad. In moderate quantities, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and promotes blood circulation. It stimulates the process of elimination and acts as a diuretic promoting better kidney function. There is some evidence that regular tea drinkers have a lower incidence of kidney ailments and gallstones. Caffeine has also been shown to speed reaction time, increase alertness, and improve concentration.

  • Read more here: 


    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Webcams -- can check out the Weather & Storms

    With Winter Storm Nemo bearing down on New England, we wanted to check out the current status of weather in NYC.  Check out the webcams, thanks to

    NYC Times Square

    NYC Fifth Ave

    Top Ten

    Enjoy the snow -- but be safe!  

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    Mayor Koch: One of the Greatest New Yorkers

    The passing of former New York Mayor Ed Koch led us to create a new label on our blog: great people.  Mayor Koch was one of the greatest New Yorkers, in a city of great New Yorkers!  This quote by Ed Koch, himself, says it all:

     "I think my personality was helpful in this job. I always had a great sense of humor, though I am also pretty reserved personally. I mean, I don't go to chichi parties; never did. I don't like going to dinners other than small dinners at the homes of people. But I realized that if I was to harness the energies of the people of the city of New York and give them back their pride, I would have to become bigger than life. And I did."

    It's always good to have a sense of humor...  Rest in peace.

    CNN reports: 

    Friday, January 18, 2013

    Parenting: 3 Things NOT to do for your Child

    This is an interesting article that is a good topic of conversation.  From the article's ratings, many people don't agree -- but nevertheless, these are issues parents should think about:

    As parents, we only want the best for our children. But sometimes our judgment is clouded, and our actions can actually impede our kids' progress. By nature, we want to see our children succeed, even if it means giving them a gentle nudge. Unfortunately for some parents, that nudge often turns into a huge push, and before we know it, we're actually doing things for our children that they should be doing for themselves.

    Read more here:

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Oddball Interview Questions

    Here are some interesting interview questions compiled by

    ...Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions for 2012:
    1. “If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?” — asked at Forrester Research, research associate candidate
    2. “How many cows are in Canada?” — asked at Google, local data quality evaluator candidate
    3. “How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State building?” — asked at JetBlue, pricing/revenue management analyst candidate
    4. “A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?” — asked at Clark Construction Group, office engineer candidate
    5. “What songs best describes your work ethic?” — asked at Dell, consumer sales candidate
    6. “Jeff Bezos walks into your office and says you can have a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea. What is it?” — asked at Amazon, product development
    7. “What do you think about when you are alone in your car?” — asked at Gallup, associate analyst candidate
    8. “How would you rate your memory?” — asked at Marriott, front desk associate candidate
    9. “Name 3 previous Nobel Prize Winners.” — asked at BenefitsCONNECT, office manager candidate

    Read more here: