Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Such Cruelty?

Dogs bound for markets in Vietnam intercepted by a Thai navy patrol on the banks of the Mekong this month

Business booming for the dog smugglers of the Mekong

Saturday, January 28, 2012

For Those Who Multitask

Train Your Brain to Focus

1:32 PM Wednesday January 18, 2012 
by Paul Hammerness, MD, and Margaret Moore

Next time you are sitting in a meeting, take a look around. The odds are high that you will see your colleagues checking screens, texting, and emailing while someone is talking or making a presentation. Many of us are proud of our prowess in multitasking, and wear it like a badge of honor.
Multitasking may help us check off more things on our to-do lists. But it also makes us more prone to making mistakes, more likely to miss important information and cues, and less likely to retain information in working memory, which impairs problem solving and creativity.
Over the past decade, advances in neuroimaging have been revealing more and more about how the brain works. Studies of adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using the latest neuroimaging and cognitive testing [PDF] are showing us how the brain focuses, what impairs focus — and how easily the brain is distracted. This research comes at a time when attention deficits have spread far beyond those with ADHD to the rest of us working in an always-on world. The good news is that the brain can learn to ignore distractions, making you more focused, creative, and productive.
Here are three ways you can start to improve your focus.
Tame your frenzy.
Frenzy is an emotional state, a feeling of being a little (or a lot) out of control. It is often underpinned by anxiety, sadness, anger, and related emotions. Emotions are processed by the amygdala, a small, almond-shaped brain structure. It responds powerfully to negative emotions, which are regarded as signals of threat. Functional brain imaging has shown that activation of the amygdala by negative emotions interferes with the brain's ability to solve problems or do other cognitive work. Positive emotions and thoughts do the opposite — they improve the brain's executive function, and so help open the door to creative and strategic thinking.
What can you do? Try to improve your balance of positive and negative emotions over the course of a day. Barbara Fredrickson, a noted psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, recommends a 3:1 balance of positive and negative emotions, based upon mathematical modeling of ideal team dynamics by her collaborator Marcial Losada, and confirmed by research on individual flourishing and successful marriages. (Calculate your "positivity ratio" atwww.positivityratio.com). You can tame negative emotional frenzy by exercising, meditating, and sleeping well. It also helps to notice your negative emotional patterns. Perhaps a coworker often annoys you with some minor habit or quirk, which triggers a downward spiral. Appreciate that such automatic responses may be overdone, take a few breaths, and let go of the irritation.
What can your team do? Start meetings on positive topics and some humor. The positive emotions this generates can improve everyone's brain function, leading to better teamwork and problem solving.
Apply the brakes.
Your brain continuously scans your internal and external environment, even when you are focused on a particular task. Distractions are always lurking: wayward thoughts, emotions, sounds, or interruptions. Fortunately, the brain is designed to instantly stop a random thought, an unnecessary action, and even an instinctive emotion from derailing you and getting you off track.
What can you do? To prevent distractions from hijacking your focus, use the ABC method as your brain's brake pedal. Become Aware of your options: you can stop what you are doing and address the distraction, or you can let it go. Breathe deeply and consider your options. Then Choosethoughtfully: Stop? or Go?
What can your team do? Try setting up one-hour distraction-free meetings. Everyone is expected to contribute and offer thoughtful and creative input, and no distractions (like laptops, tablets, cell phones, and other gadgets) are allowed.
Shift Sets.
While it's great to be focused, sometimes you need to turn your attention to a new problem. Set-shifting refers to shifting all of your focus to a new task, and not leaving any behind on the last one. Sometimes it's helpful to do this in order to give the brain a break and allow it to take on a new task.
What can you do? Before you turn your attention to a new task, shift your focus from your mind to your body. Go for a walk, climb stairs, do some deep breathing or stretches. Even if you aren't aware of it, when you are doing this your brain continues working on your past tasks. Sometimes new ideas emerge during such physical breaks.
What can your team do? Schedule a five-minute break for every hour of meeting time, and encourage everyone to do something physical rather than run out to check email. By restoring the brain's executive function, such breaks can lead to more and better ideas when you reconvene.
Organizing your mind, and your team members' minds, will yield a solid payoff in the year ahead. Adding "high-quality focus" is a great place to start. Try holding a no-multitasking meeting and see what happens when everyone in the room gives their undivided attention. Have you ever tried this in your organization? If not, do you think it would fly?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Learn From A Dog: 15 Life Lessons From Your Pet

We've all heard that people tend to look like their dogs (hey, there's even research to back that one up), but act like them? Hey, maybe it's time to consider it.
Dogs tend to be happy, active and well rested -- things we could all stand to learn. Read on for those and other tail-wag-worthy life lessons from your pooch.

Clean Your Plate

All too often we let our food go to waste, throwing out wilted vegetables and days-old leftovers. No canine worth his or her chunks and gravy would ever let such a thing occur! Learn from your pooch and lick that plate clean. Just make sure you portion properly before eating every last kibble and bit!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

TWG Tea Salon & Boutique

 Ever since I saw this quaint tea place in Marina Bay Sands, l wondered what it would be like to spend an afternoon there. Come the Christmas season I traveled back with my family and didn’t hesitate to try the ever-so-famous TWG (which stands for The Wellness Group).

At 5’o clock in the afternoon with 2-3 TWG stands in the hotel my cousin and I was second in queue waiting to be seated.

The menu was given and I thought to myself  “Oh, so this is their tea list.” 
Overwhelmed by the different kinds of tea, right of the bat I took what I said back.
I enjoyed reading this one before the “MENU” page. 
This green tea with summer fruits & calendula is delicate and very refined like its given name: Geisha Blossom Tea.
Camelot Tea & Praline Macaron has the perfect chewy texture and flavor! I wanna try all their macarons! 

Served warm together with tea jelly and cream, my first time to try a scone, specifically a Raisin Scone was phenomenal.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sweet Spot

My cousin and I decided to grab macarons from Sweet Spot, our hotel's dessert/pastry bar, so we woudn't starve on our way to our next food destination. (As if it were somewhere extremely far. HA-HA!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pizzeria Mozza

After arriving at the hotel from the airport we decided to go straight to Pizzeria Mozza for our dinner reservation at 6 (even with our big hand-carry bags and free water bottles from the hotel). Tired and sleepy from the long flight, we were widely awakened by the well-lit, cozy, wine-cellar type ambiance of our dinner room fit for 17 people.

(Photo from my brother's iPhone)

(Photo from my film camera)
The utensils are kept in a cute Pizzeria Mozza envelope together with the napkin & a cute cardboard which you can write a letter on.

The menu

To begin such  a wonderful Italian fare trip these Parmesan and herb crisps are served inside a little brown bag paper bag as you sit.

Boy is this addicting! I could barely stop myself from getting hence this 2nd parmesan crisp photo.
This melt-in-your-mouth Arancine alla Bolognese is a fried risotto ball fille with cheese and ground pork on a Bolognese sauce.
Even if the Tricolore with Parmigiano Reggiano & Anchovy Dressing only contained vegetable leaves, its brackish anchovy dressing made the salad savory. 
When the Calamari al Forno with Salsa Calabrese came out I was surprised that it was paired with chickpeas and white beans. It was my first time to eat calamari with beans, oregano, and lemon drizzled olive oil but it turned into my top-pick appetizer.