Monday, January 30, 2012

Digital Detox

This writer has become tethered to e-mail, BlackBerrys, iPads and other electronic devices. The constant use of digital media seems to be taking a toll on my hair color and my ability to focus. New research is showing that such immersion can cause multitaskers to have more fractured thinking and trouble shutting out irrelevant information, and that even when they are offline, those problems persist. A lot of Americans feel stress from juggling too much incoming information, but have to be online for work.

With strategic thinking being in play these days: What are some strategies for unplugging from the demand of digital devices? Is there such a thing as too much multitasking?

The only way to stop is to stop – to turn off the BlackBerry and the iPhone, to check e-mail two or three times a day rather than every three minutes, to spend a few hours reading a novel or immersed in a hobby or having a real conversation. If you regularly give your brain an opportunity to relax, by concentrating on one thing instead of a dozen, the cognitive and emotional costs of multitasking will decline. Cutting back sounds easy, but of course it’s not. It’s really hard. If your boss and your colleagues expect you to be connected all the time, your career may suffer if you go silent. And if your friends are texting, tweeting, and Facebooking around the clock, going offline can leave you feeling socially isolated.

Then again, the only way to change social norms is for individuals to change their behavior. If you lead, maybe others will follow. At the very least, you’ll probably feel calmer, sharper and more in control of your thoughts.

One additional suggestion, every hour or so turn off all your gadgets and go low-tech, whether it’s writing a letter, having a brief conversation at the water cooler, or taking a stroll in the park or the parking lot. It will help minimize stress, maintain mental focus, and improve the quality of your life.

Finally, my best suggestion, GET A LIFE!!!!!

BULLETIN: ROMNEY TAX RATE 13.9 PERCENT IN 2010 - "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released tax records on Tuesday indicating he will pay $6.2 million in taxes on a total of $45.2 million in income over the years 2010 and 2011. ... [T]he former private equity executive released tax returns indicating he and his wife, Ann, paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent in 2010. They expect to pay a 15.4 percent rate when they file their returns for 2011. Romney's tax rate is below that of most wage-earning Americans because most of his income, as outlined in more than 500 pages of tax documents, flows from capital gains on investments. ...

"Romney advisers stressed that the holdings in the Caymans -- along with those in a Swiss bank account that was closed in 2010 after an investment adviser decided it could be politically embarrassing to Romney -- were reported on tax returns and were not vehicles to avoid taxes. They also stressed that Romney, whose holdings are in three blind trusts, makes no decisions as to how his money is invested. Regardless, the emerging picture was of a man of great means who contributes mightily to charity. The documents showed he and his wife contributed $7 million in charity over the two years, much of it going to his Mormon church."

OTU: OBAMA RIPS BANKS; SAYS RICH SHOULD PAY MORE - President Obama surprised some in the banking industry by going even more sharply populist than expected in his re-election year State of the Union address. The president announced a new "Financial Crimes Unit" populated by "highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people's investments." (Sure sounds a lot like the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force he created in 2009, but never mind that). ...

Obama also said he was "asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans." ... The new unit will be headed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

FED RATES LOW UNTIL 2014 - "Federal Reserve officials said they expect to keep short-term interest rates near zero for almost three more years and signaled they could restart a controversial bond-buying program in yet another campaign to rev up the disappointing economic recovery. ... Officials hope that by signaling their intentions on short-term interest rates, long-term rates will fall, spurring investment, spending and growth. Since August, the Fed had been saying rates would stay near zero at least until mid-2013. A bond-buying program-also meant to push down long-term interest rates-could be the next step. Mr. Bernanke said there would be a 'very strong case' for even more action by the Fed 'if the recovery continues to be modest and progress on unemployment very slow and inflation appears to be likely to be below target for a number of years out.'"

The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace since the first-half of 2010 during final three months of last year, but the improvement was tepid compared to past recoveries and points to only modest growth in 2012.

The nation's gross domestic product -- the value of all goods and services produced -- grew at an annual rate of 2.8% between October and December, the Commerce Department said Friday. The reading was up from 1.8% annualized growth in the third quarter, but below economists' forecast of 3.0% growth.

For the year, GDP grew 1.7% as economic growth improved slightly in each quarter after a very sluggish start to 2011.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Ernie Banks (81), Christie Brinkley (58), Sara Evans (41), Gene Hackman (82), Bill Murray (58), Graham Nash (70), Dan Quayle (65), Nolan Ryan (65), Roger Staubach (70).

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 2/4, 7:30 PM ET, CBS College Sports; #17 ranked Miami Redhawks (15-11-2) visit Yost Ice Arena and the University of Michigan Wolverines, #8 ranked (15-9-4). Red Berenson’s club has been playing excellent hockey of late, too much for the boys from Ohio. We go with Big Blue in this one. Season to date (2-3).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Rink Rats last pick of the NFL season, as you can see by our record a very mediocre season. February 5, 6:00 PM ET, NBC the New York Giants (12-7) vs. the New England Patriots (15-3). We think defense is going to decide this one, the defense that survives. Tom Brady’s last real shot at being the greatest QB of all-time. Rink Rats pick New England in a close one in Indy. Season to date (11-10).

SUPER BOWL HYPE - ESPN will have "more than 110 hours of television and radio programming originating live from Pan Am Plaza ... in downtown Indianapolis," per a release. (The game is on NBC.) Chris Berman is covering his 30th Super Bowl.

NBC Sports coverage on Sunday begins @ 3:00 PM ET, this will be the 17th time NBC broadcasts The Super Bowl, equaling CBS for most broadcasts by a network.

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – New England 35 New York 32, Michigan 4 Miami 3, CMS 60 Whittier 54 (men hoops). Season to date (7-5).

DRIVING THE WEEK - Welcome to jobs week! The slightly sluggish Q4 GDP figure and its reliance on inventory build tamped economic excitement a bit. ADP number out Thursday is expected to come in around 180K after December's big 325K (a clear overshoot). ... The government number out Friday is also likely to ease off from December's 200K. Consensus is a gain of 150K and the unemployment rate remaining at 8.5 percent. Won't be a surprise if it rises to 8.6 percent (and won't be bad if it's due to more people looking) ...

Next week, Academy Awards picks and a mid-winter recipe.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
January 30, 2012

#II-40, 93

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