Archive Page 2


Why I Put Egg Shells in My Coffee, Don’t You?

Well, it finally happened.  Like Job, what I feared came upon me.  That dreaded ulcer or GERT or whatever.  What it meant is that when I drank my beloved coffee, I paid for it.  It became painful.  Did that stop me?  Of course not.  But thank God, I found an answer in something that I have been throwing away.  Yes, the egg shell.

The egg shell neutralized the acid in the coffee.  If I am making instant, I just put a piece of egg shell into the coffee with the powder.  You may want to crush the shell first.  For regular coffee, put the crushed egg shells with the coffee.  By the way, the coffee and the egg shells are great for your garden.

To store egg shells:  Wash the egg shells with warm water and soap.  Rinse.  Put out to dry.  They are ready to use.  You can also grind them in your coffee grinder and store in a container.

You can use egg shells when making soups, etc.  In this way, you can get the calcium that’s in the egg shell.  Put the egg shells in a net and drop in the soup.  When the soup is finished, you can take out the net.


What to do when a bomb hits

In light of the Boston Marathon bombing, I called my friend in Jerusalem and asked if she could give me a few pointers:

1.  Hit the ground. Pull anyone around you to the ground.  Avoid glass fragments.

2.  Stay away from shops with glass windows.

3.  Don’t run down the street.  You may be running  to another bomb.

4.  Option: Run into a building and go to the far end.  Try to get to the bathrooms.

5.  Option: Be in the middle of the street and away from building with glass windows.

6.  Stay away from waste bins, trash cans, or any luggage unattended.  There may be another bomb.

7.  Be observant for what doesn’t look right, and stay away from it. Go with your gut.

8.  Help the wounded. Don’t move them unless necessary.

9.  Cover yourself with your jacket, and cover children and babies.

10.  Cell phones may not work.  Try to use a phone booth and leave a message at your home phone that you are ok.

How to prepare before hand:

1.  Keep your land line.  Cell phone may not work in an emergency situation.

2.  Always keeps coins on you to use in a pay phone.

3.  Take a First Aid course.

4.  Train your family to keep together in crowds.

5.  Coordinate with your social groups–clubs, synagogs, churches–to develop a disaster management plan.

This is a rough draft.  Would like to get feedback.


Chicken Soup and Shabbat from the Digital World

As an instructional designer, I have to live inside of my computer.  In a way, I would much rather be teaching a live class.  But then again, I’m too much of a geek and like my graphic design options.  As any independent contractor knows, you are your most exigent boss.  I work myself hard–glued to this light box–finding beta testers, researching, designing and redesigning.   Then, Shabbat–let go.  Walk away from the computer.  I am not in the borg. 

I had lived in India for over 12 years where I had a full-time cook.  Now back in the UK, I am cooking again.  Also in the UK, it is freezing, cold, and damp.  It is time to make homemade chicken soup.  Just one more time at the computer to google just how to make chicken soup.  As I go through the process, my husband put on the movie about Coco Channel’s life.  I also lived in France for five years.  I am feeling very French.  There is nothing like making a chicken broth to cure you of cyber virus.  All that boiling water and steam and smells kills the two-dimensional  life that I have been living all week.  And then, just because, I made home-made bread. 

You don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy the Shabbat.  It mentioned in the scriptures before Abraham or Moses.  The Shabbat reminds us that we are not slaves.  That we are humans and not cyborgs.


Spring is Here in the UK!

We have had a dreary winter so far.  After Christmas I felt like I was living in Finland but without the snow plows.  The rain makes life damp here and you feel it in your mattress when you go to bed at night.  But, somehow, Spring is here!  Well, virtually anyway. I am a lonely instructional designer who is holed up in my bedroom-office.  I am trying to get our business going since that is about the only way you can get work now in the UK–you got to do you own thing.  But of course, I’m in a Catch-22–no work–no money–no money–no business.  But then came iSpring to give me the leg up that I need.

You see, I am developing a new type of language learning concept — for Hebrew.  Since I am still learning Hebrew myself, and I’m doing the graphics, and I’m doing the IT, my mind is juggling quite a lot.

Once I got some prototype modules done for beta-testing, I needed a platform.  Who would host a powerpoint presentation and keep all my little animations and click when you’re done pages, and my sounds, and still give me quality.  And, who could keep it private for me?  For free.  Like I said, Spring came.  iSpring.

Not only that, when I had some technical difficulties, some one actually wrote right back THE VERY SAME DAY!  Yes, I said some one, meaning a real person like Helen.  A real personality.  No automatic email.

This is all for free.  Thank you, iSpring, for shedding a little bit of sunshine on the rainy UK.


What they don’t tell you that could help you learn a language

When you wonder why you have difficulty learning a foreign language, before you beat up on yourself, consider this: a lot of language learning programs are not just stuck in the 20th century, but they might even be in the Middle Ages.  Try some of these techniques and let me know how you get on:

1.  Listen.  Before you try to talk, listen–a lot.  The first thing you want to do is to learn how to hear the music of the language.  Just sit back, relax, listen, and let it roll into your ears.  Have fun with it.  Notice the funny sounds.  Listen for about ten minutes every day for a week.  See if you can pick out your target language from other languages.  Listen to a two minute recording over and over again.  See what works for you.

2.  Get movies in your target language with English subtitles.  Maybe some of the foreign films from the Academy Award nominations will help you. Enjoy the movie.  Get to know the culture of your target language.   If you can get a dubbed version of your favorite TV show like Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, or The Office,  that helps too.

3.  If you want a tutor to help you, plan your own lessons.  What do you want to know how to say?  Do you want to know how to order at Starbucks? Write it down.  Give the list to your tutor.  Sometimes the best tutor is someone who knows your target language and will be willing to follow what you want.  Sometimes, the best tutors are the ones who had to painfully learn the language like you did. Their accent will be easier for you to understand.  A native speaker is good as you get further along.

4.  Don’t repeat what you hear.  Just learn to listen.  There is no rush to repeat.  Ask your tutor to teach you different commands to which you can respond–like the game “Simon Says.”  You only obey the commands without speaking.  It gets your body involved.  The language is real to you.  And you don’t have to say anything.  You just want to know how to start learning how to recognize words:  Close the window.  Open the door.  Can I have a glass of water please?  You don’t have to understand every word.  You succeed if you do what your tutor asked you to do.

5.  After you have listened to the language for a few weeks, have been able to fulfill requests, now you may want to talk.  But again, make sure that you have listened to what you want to say enough times.  Sometimes, you may need to slow it down.  Sometimes you may need to hear it many, many times–especially in the beginning.

6.  Do not repeat it aloud.  First, repeat your responses in your mind.  Don’t repeat them aloud until you are happy with what you hear in your head.  Each time you listen for it in your head, you are creating synapses which will help you be more successful when you say it aloud.  For instance, take a phrase that you want to learn how to say.  Listen to it three times at least.  Then listen and repeat it in your mind.  Do this three times.  Now you are ready to repeat it aloud–even if it is only to your golden retriever.  He’s very non-judgmental.

7.  Make sure that your tutor only corrects you if you cannot be understood–not if your articulation is not perfect.  You are just beginning.  Remember pronunciation is caught not taught.  It comes over a long period of time.  Be patient with yourself.


Steps to avoid the flu

There are some common sense steps you can take to help you avoid the flu.

1.  Get plenty of sleep.  Getting a good night’s sleep is the best way to keep your body’s immune system strong.  The flu season is not the time to pull all-nighters at work or at play.

2.  Eat right.  If you know how to use a computer, the internet, google, then you know how to eat right, right?  The flu season is not the time to have the chocolate cake.  Kill the sugar for now.  Don’t have the extra cup of coffee.  Try putting cinnamon in your coffee.  Choose fish instead of red meat for now–or at least chicken.

3.  Eat Indian food. This is the time to go vegetarian.  Order dahl.  It’s lentils.  All the spices in Indian food are good for your immune system and fight germs.  Eat yogurt, especially if it gets too spicy for you.

4. Eat yogurt and raw honey. This is the time to shell out and use raw honey.  Forget the sugar substitutes during flu season.  You need what is good for you.

5. Avoid alcohol.  Flu season is not the time to drink a lot, or at all.  Let your immune system get what it needs.

6.  Avoid stressors.  Stressors are as bad as anything.  Avoid people who stress you out if possible.  Be nice, but find excuses.  You can talk to them after the flu season.  Know what you can handle.  You don’t have to have a two-hour conversation with your girlfriend and hear how she broke up with her boyfriend for the fifth time if it really stresses you out.  You have permission to cut short the conversation with your mother-in-law, over-chatty or bombastic co-worker.

7.  Don’t overdo anything.  Flu season is not the time for extra exercise to get rid of what you ate during Christmas.  Yoga and stretching however are good.  Really avoid jogging outside in the cold.

8. Lemon zest.  This is just me.  But there is some research that indicates that the lemon peel might help against the flu.  I’d appreciate further comments on this.  But it can’t hurt.  Put some lemon zest in your tea, etc.  Use the juice too.

9. And garlic and onions.  Raw garlic is best.  Throw it in your soups at the last minute.  You can cook your onions.

10:  You can be creative with soups.  If you feel that it is too cold for salads, then do soups.  Just throw the vegetables you have into a pot of boiling water. In this way, you save all the vitamins that you usually throw down the drain.  Add chicken stock for flavor.  Add tomato puree for color.  Experiment with beans.  Once you got the soup you like, make lots of it so you don’t have to cook a lot.  People will think you are incredible.

11.  Minimize your use on the computer and tv.  Flu season isn’t the time for marathon video games, hours on Facebook and twittering about the flu.  It eats at your immune system.  Same for TV.  Radio is better.  Order some audio books.

12. Leave cyberspace and get to know your real neighbours.  If you get the flu, no matter how many friends you have on Facebook, they can’t help you.  Especially if you live alone, you may need some help.  Don’t wait until you are sick.  Get to know your neighbours now and make nice nice.  They don’t have to be your best friends, but try to work out an alliance.  Get to know the medical people who live around you–those who know how to fix things–those who have connections, etc.  If you have made good relationships in your neighbourhood, then you are living with less stress, and…well you get it.  Now if they are too chatty, bombastic, depressed, see number 6.


Knowledge Management: Avoiding the Rumor Mill

Knowledge Management in New Terms

We think of knowledge management in these terms:  how to manage data, how to maintain information in categories that can be easily accessed by employees.  But consider another type of knowledge management:  how to manage vital information with their employees about bad news.  Although the content of this vital information may be strikingly simple, its access to employees can be incredibly complex, leading to a distortion of the facts, and breaking trust that is hard to repair.  Even if the information is correct, complete and accessed by all, if it is not dispersed in a timely manner, management has served up a stale meal to its employees.  In other words, when managers hesitate, procrastinate, and can’t decide, they have in fact made a decision:  they release the uncontrolled power of the rumor mill.  

The rumor mill is not the process that good leaders want to employ for managing knowledge for their employees, yet they use it more often than they would care to admit.  Leaders are less and less inclined to take risks.  If the rumor mill is allowed to operate, no one has to take responsibility for the information.  No one has to take responsibility if the information turns out to be wrong.  And no one has to take responsibility if the information is bad news.

If the information is bad news, employees might be disturbed, full of questions, and want to vent their comments at someone.  For some team leaders, their worst nightmare would be to moderate a meeting with these employees.  Some are not skilled in handling such a situation.  For many others, fear and insecurity leave them paralyzed behind their desks in their offices, hiding the yellow streak down their backs.

What do they fear? They are afraid that they won’t have the correct answers to questions.  And even if they do have the answers, they fear the employees won’t find them justifiable.  They fear that if they don’t handle the meeting effectively, then productivity will plummet.  In the pit of their stomachs, they fear for their own jobs. Perhaps they made the mistake that led to the bad news.

These are all justifiable fears, but these are challenges that leaders should be trained to master.  There are a number of ways that a good leader can quell such fears and be able to have a meeting.

  1. Plan and prepare beforehand.  Don’t wait until there is a crisis to communicate with your employees at large on sensitive issues.  Communicate with them regularly on issues that matter to them.  You will build up trust and credibility.  
  2. Be honest with your employees about small problems by having real communication at meetings where there is a give and take dialogue.  Don’t lecture and leave.  Together, if you have learned to work out the small problems, you will have the foundation you need to tackle the more serious ones.
  3. If you are communicating with your employees regularly, if a crisis starts to brew, they will have been apprised of the early stages and will not be caught off-guard.  
  4. Show your employees respect.  When employees don’t think you respect them, you have broken the bridge of communication and any genuine truth you give them won’t reach them.  Employees don’t feel respected when they are not told the truth in a timely manner.  
  5. Learn how to say, “I’m sorry.  I was wrong.  Here is where I made a mistake…”  Employees always know more than you think.  They might not have all the facts, but they have some pieces to the puzzle.  Sometimes all they want to hear is for you to admit that you were wrong.  Never estimate the power of an apology.  
  6. Be down-to-earth.   When some managers become nervous, they wear their authority as a mask to hide their feelings.  Take off the mask.  You’ll be surprised.  Employees will be more sympathetic to what you have to say if they can identify with you.  
  7. You don’t have to have all the answers.  Learn how to say, “I don’t know.  I’ll try to find out for you,” then write down their question and follow through.
  8. If there are a few employees who are emotional and vocal, you can offer to speak with them alone.  
  9. Let your employees vent; listen, and don’t interrupt unless necessary.  If they can communicate to you what they’ve been going through, how frustrated they’ve been, you would have met one of their needs:  management gave them an ear, treating them with respect.  You might actually learn something by what they say.  
  10. Be ready to be the scapegoat.  Be steeled to take the impact of unwarranted verbal blows after the announcement of bad news.  A good boss knows that these immediate responses are not necessarily personal.  Employees may have received news that will change their lives and the lives of their families.  


Yes the manager could have been a wimp and avoided all this.  He or she could have let the information leaks fuel the rumor mill, causing an avalanche of misinformation, but instead, this manager took a risk as a genuine leader.