Monday, July 10, 2017

Relax Harder

Rink Rats issue number 350, cool!

·         Canada Dry unveiled its new “Relax Harder” campaign — encouraging consumers to relax as hard as they work and play in their daily lives, with the help of the soothing and refreshing qualities of Canada Dry Ginger Ale. The new “Work Hard. Play Hard. Relax Harder.” tagline is intended to reflect Canada Dry’s position as a trusted brand with consistent taste and soothing and refreshing qualities, allowing consumers to move past their busy work and social schedules to achieve the ultimate relaxation.

·         Relax Harder! The Secret of Tai Chi Power: We often hear skeptics say, “I can see how tai chi can be useful for relaxing the body and calming the mind. But I don’t see how something so relaxing can be useful as a martial art.

The response from experienced martial artists is, “How can it NOT be useful as a martial art, if it cultivates a relaxed body and a calm mind.”

In fact, if you are not learning to relax the body and calm the mind, then you are not learning a martial art.

·         Tommy Bahama the upscale clothing retailer encourages you to relax harder with their t-shirt campaign.

Corporate America is urging us to get on the bandwagon to relax harder if you are working harder. Many of our Rink Rats readers are constantly under stress from the pressures of everyday life. How should you handle the stress of stress?

Stress is not a useful term for scientists because it is such a highly subjective phenomenon that it defies definition. And if you can’t define stress, how can you possibly measure it? The term “stress”, as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. Selye had noted in numerous experiments that laboratory animals subjected to acute but different noxious physical and emotional stimuli (blaring light, deafening noise, extremes of heat or cold, perpetual frustration) all exhibited the same pathologic changes of stomach ulcerations, shrinkage of lymphoid tissue and enlargement of the adrenals. He later demonstrated that persistent stress could cause these animals to develop various diseases similar to those seen in humans, such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis. At the time, it was believed that most diseases were caused by specific but different pathogens. Tuberculosis was due to the tubercle bacillus, anthrax by the anthrax bacillus, syphilis by a spirochete, etc. What Selye proposed was just the opposite, namely that many different insults could cause the same disease, not only in animals, but in humans as well.
Selye’s theories attracted considerable attention and stress soon became a popular buzzword that completely ignored Selye’s original definition. Some people used stress to refer to an overbearing or bad boss or some other unpleasant situation they were subjected to. For many, stress was their reaction to this in the form of chest pain, heartburn, headache or palpitations. Others used stress to refer to what they perceived as the end result of these repeated responses, such as an ulcer or heart attack. Many scientists complained about this confusion and one physician concluded in a 1951 issue of the British Medical Journal that, “Stress in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself.”

Unfortunately, Selye was not aware that stress had been used for centuries in physics to explain elasticity, the property of a material that allows it to resume its original size and shape after having been compressed or stretched by an external force. As expressed in Hooke’s Law of 1658, the magnitude of an external force, or stress, produces a proportional amount of deformation, or strain, in a malleable metal. This created even more confusion when his research had to be translated into foreign languages. There was no suitable word or phrase that could convey what he meant, since he was really describing strain. In 1946, when he was asked to give an address at the prestigious Collège de France, the academicians responsible for maintaining the purity of the French language struggled with this problem for several days, and subsequently decided that a new word would have to be created. Apparently, the male chauvinists prevailed, and le stress was born, quickly followed by el stress, il stress, lo stress, der stress in other European languages, and similar neologisms in Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic. Stress is one of the very few words you will see preserved in English in these and other languages that do not use the Roman alphabet.

Because it was apparent that most people viewed stress as some unpleasant threat, Selye subsequently had to create a new word, stressor, to distinguish stimulus from response. Stress was generally considered as being synonymous with distress and dictionaries defined it as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension” or “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” Thus, stress was put in a negative light and its positive effects ignored. However, stress can be helpful and good when it motivates people to accomplish more.

As illustrated above, increased stress results in increased productivity – up to a point, after which things go rapidly downhill. However, that point or peak differs for each of us, so you need to be sensitive to the early warning symptoms and signs that suggest a stress overload is starting to push you over the hump. Such signals also differ for each of us and can be so subtle that they are often ignored until it is too late. Not infrequently, others are aware that you may be headed for trouble before you are.

Any definition of stress should therefore also include good stress, or what Selye called eustress. For example, winning a race or election can be just as stressful as losing, or more so. A passionate kiss and contemplating what might follow is stressful, but hardly the same as having a root canal procedure.

Selye struggled unsuccessfully all his life to find a satisfactory definition of stress. In attempting to extrapolate his animal studies to humans so that people would understand what he meant, he redefined stress as “The rate of wear and tear on the body”. This is actually a pretty good description of biological aging so it is not surprising that increased stress can accelerate many aspects of the aging process. In his later years, when asked to define stress, he told reporters, “Everyone knows what stress is, but nobody really knows.”

As noted, stress is difficult to define because it is so different for each of us. A good example is afforded by observing passengers on a steep roller coaster ride. Some are hunched down in the back seats, eyes shut, jaws clenched and white knuckled with an iron grip on the retaining bar. They can’t wait for the ride in the torture chamber to end so they can get back on solid ground and scamper away. But up front are the wide-eyed thrill seekers, yelling and relishing each steep plunge who race to get on the very next ride. And in between you may find a few with an air of nonchalance that borders on boredom. So, was the roller coaster ride stressful?

The roller coaster analogy is useful in explaining why the same stressor can differ so much for each of us. What distinguished the passengers in the back from those up front was the sense of control they had over the event. While neither group had any more or less control their perceptions and expectations were quite different. Many times we create our own stress because of faulty perceptions you can learn to correct. You can teach people to move from the back of the roller coaster to the front, and, as Eleanor Roosevelt noted, nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. While everyone can’t agree on a definition of stress, all of our experimental and clinical research confirms that the sense of having little or no control is always distressful – and that’s what stress is all about.

Go ahead and have that early evening glass of wine, an early morning jacuzzi, scream “I’m mad as hell, and I cannot take it any more”, eat a pizza, sit in a dark closet, watch “The Real Housewives of Orange County”, or better yet just understand your stress and then relaxing harder is a breeze.

RINK RATS QUIZ – the first to get this month’s quiz correct will receive a Rink Rats T-Shirt, please send entries to

            Canada is considering stress tests for a surprising new group. Who are they?

A.         Psychiatrists
B.         Mortgage-seekers
C.         Gamblers
D.         Dentists

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - The Education Department may soon stop publishing a weekly list of colleges and universities under investigation for allegedly mishandling sexual violence claims - a list that started with 55 schools when it was first published in 2014 and has since ballooned to nearly 240 as of this week. Candice Jackson, the acting head of the department's Office for Civil Rights, called it a "list of shame" this week at the National Association of College and University Attorneys conference in Chicago where she said it's high on the list of things the Trump administration may soon do away with.

Colleges would be thrilled with the decision to stop publishing the list. Higher education leaders have been unhappy with it since the Obama administration first started publishing it three years ago. "Given that colleges and universities are placed on the list merely because they are under Title IX investigation, the list unfairly casts institutions in a negative light, not to mention the fact that investigations are taking so long," Daniel Kaufman, an attorney who represents colleges and universities and a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, told Morning Education. "Ending the publication of the list is a positive development for colleges and universities."

Three schools were added to the list - which the department did publish - just this week. They are: The New York College of Health Professions, State University of New York at Buffalo and Saint Norbert College in Wisconsin. The list now includes 339 investigations at 239 colleges and universities. Some of the investigations date back as far as 2011 (at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst). Some of the schools on the list are targets of multiple investigations. Cornell University, for instance, has six open investigations.

SIGN OF THE TIMES - In the new media world, five companies are crushing everyone else. This year, two-thirds of all global ad dollars will go to the Big Five: Google, Facebook, Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba, according to the latest PriceWaterhouseCooper's Entertainment and Media Global Outlook.

Roughly 50% percent of ad dollars flow to to Google and Facebook, America's "Duopoly." Together they are expected to take 83% of every new ad dollar, according to calculations from Digital Content Next, the premium publishers association.

Three companies in China — Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent — control over 60% of the Chinese ad market and now account for 15% of all global advertising.

Google's ad revenue has almost caught up to all print ad revenue globally and Facebook's ad revenue is quickly approaching all radio ad revenue globally.

The 12 companies behind the Big Five — Yahoo!, Microsoft, Linkedin, IAC, Verizon, Amazon, Pandora, Twitter, Yelp, Snapchat, Sina and Sohu — bring in roughly half of what Google brings in annually in ad revenue.

WEIRD APPS – “Screamers”: Screamers are apps that place voice level controls on games in which the speed of a player's run is controlled via the volume of the player's voice. In May, there were 94 screamers in Apple's App Store. Apptopia's Adam Blacker calls it the first "weird fad" of 2017.

“Fidget Spinners”: The virtual versions of these mind-thumbing gadgets are exploding on Apple and Google, with 118 different ones in app stores now.

“Chat fiction” apps: These apps are hot among teens for telling fictional stories through text messages. On any given day, Hooked and Yarn, two of the most popular chat fiction apps, both rank ahead of Amazon's Kindle and Amazon's Audible in the store books category in the Apple app store.

RANSOMWARE - Get used to the kind of ransomeware attack that crippled critical infrastructure and shut down major corporations last Tuesday. It was an escalation of the kind of cyberattack that's becoming a regular occurrence worldwide with a reach that's threatening key elements of national security.

Following a similar attack in May, the fresh cyber-assault paralyzed some hospitals, government offices and major multinational corporations in a dramatic demonstration of how easily malicious programs can bring daily life to a halt. Ukraine and Russia appeared hardest hit by the new strain of ransomware - malicious software that locks up computer files with all-but-unbreakable encryption and then demands a ransom for its release. In the United States, the malware affected companies such as the drugmaker Merck and Mondelez International, the owner of food brands such as Oreo and Nabisco. Its pace appeared to slow as the day wore on, in part because the malware appeared to require direct contact between computer networks, a factor that may have limited its spread in regions with fewer connections to Ukraine.

These kinds of attacks are affecting more people as the physical and digital worlds converge, and the attacks spill out of the cyber realm and into the real world of hospitals, power grids, and multinational corporations.

Consumer anxiety about security is at an all-time high, according to the recent Unisys Security Index. EY's Global Capital Confidence Barometer shows cybersecurity concerns are delaying business deals.

Eastern European systems are more likely to be running unpatched and could be more vulnerable to this type of attack. He says the "bulk of the U.S. capability in cyber security is in its offensive operations. We are in a very vulnerable place when it comes to defenses. 

Can you say Blackboard.

POLITICS 101 - Kamala Harris goes to Washington: Prior to arriving in Washington earlier this year, Senator Kamala Harris was known, mostly just among her fellow Californians, as the two-term district attorney in San Francisco and two-term state attorney general, heralded for her stylish wardrobe and reliably progressive-if low-key-policy positions. Harris has now represented the Golden State for only a few months, but the glamorous 52-year-old is already among the top tier of potential Democratic nominees for the 2020 presidential race ... Given her scant national experience and rookie status in the Senate, does the ambitious Harris have a chance?

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Susan Ford Bales (60) Alexandria, VA.; President George W. Bush (71) Campbell, TX.;  Yousef Daneshbod …famous father, husband, and teacher; Tom Hanks (61) Calabasas, CA.; Kevin O’Leary (63) Manhattan, NY.; Anna Quindlen (65) Cambridge, MA.; Donald Rumsfeld (85) Bethesda, MD.; Jimmy Smits (62) Las Vegas, NV.; Ringo Starr (77) London, England.

80th BIRTHDAY - For the world's oldest emergency telephone number, the British 999 first introduced in London and a forerunner of today’s 911 in the United States.

TWO HOURS TWENTY-SIX SECONDS - The story last week on how Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, at Italy's Monza Formula One racetrack Italy, tried to break the two-hour barrier for running a marathon:

Nike, which had spent millions of dollars applying the most advanced technology and sports science to get a marathon runner across the finish line in under two hours. Kipchoge was nervous because he simply didn't know how his body would react to the stress of running so fast for so long. The fastest anyone, ever, had run a marathon was 2:02:57.

Kipchoge wanted to run nearly three minutes faster, a 2.4 percent improvement, which might sound small but represents a giant leap in human performance. And when the body fails in the marathon, it can fail dramatically and painfully. Millions of people across the world were tuning in to watch livestreams of the event. His final time: 02:00:26.

SUMMER TRAVEL - Paris has 37 bridges across the Seine, of which 5 are pedestrian only and 2 are rail bridges. Three link Île Saint-Louis to the rest of Paris, 8 do the same for Île de la Cité and one links the 2 islands to each other. A list follows, from upstream to downstream :

Pont Alexandre III
Pont amont (carrying the Boulevard Périphérique, situated at the river's entry to the city)
Pont National
Pont de Tolbiac
Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir (pedestrian), inaugurated 13 July 2006
Pont de Bercy (made up of a railway bridge carrying the Line 6 of the Paris Métro and another stage for road traffic) ;
Pont Charles-de-Gaulle (1996)
Viaduc d'Austerlitz (railway bridge used for Line 5 of the métro), directly followed on the Rive Droite by the viaduc du quai de la Rapée,
Pont d'Austerlitz
Pont de Sully (crosses the eastern corner of Île Saint-Louis)
Pont de la Tournelle (between the Rive Gauche and the Île Saint-Louis)
Pont Marie (between Île Saint-Louis and the rive droite)
Pont Louis-Philippe (between Île Saint-Louis and the rive droite)
Pont Saint-Louis (pedestrian zone, between Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis)
Pont de l'Archevêché (between the rive gauche and Île de la Cité)
Pont au Double (between the rive gauche and Île de la Cité)
Pont d'Arcole (between Île de la Cité and the rive droite)
Petit Pont (between the rive gauche and Île de la Cité)
Pont Notre-Dame (between the Île de la Cité and the rive droite)
Pont Saint-Michel (between the Rive Gauche and the Île de la Cité)
Pont au Change (between the Île de la Cité and the Rive Droite)
Pont Neuf (crossing the west corner of the Île de la Cité, Paris's oldest bridge, built between 1578 and 1607)
Passerelle des Arts (pedestrian)
Pont du Carrousel
Pont Royal
Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor (1999) (pedestrian, formerly the Passerelle de Solférino, renamed in 2006)
Pont de la Concorde
Pont Alexandre III
Pont des Invalides
Pont de l'Alma
Passerelle Debilly (pedestrian)
Pont d'Iéna
Pont de Bir-Hakeim (crossing the Île aux Cygnes, comprising one stage with a railway bridge carrying Line 6 of the Paris Métro and another for road traffic)
Pont Rouelle (rail viaduct for line C of the RER crossing the Île aux Cygnes)
Pont de Grenelle (crossing the Île aux Cygnes)
Pont Mirabeau
Pont du Garigliano
Pont aval (used by the boulevard périphérique, at the river's exit from the city)

MLB Game of the Week (July 11) – 88th Major League Baseball All-Start game, Miami, Florida. National League has the stars this year, they win 7 - 4.

Season to Date (44 - 22)

ON THIS DATE – This week marks 71 years since the bikini went on sale, after debuting at a Paris fashion show.

MARKET WEEKFed Chair Janet Yellen appears on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and Thursday. The central bank is widely expected to begin to chip away at reducing its $4.5 trillion balance sheet in September. A third interest rate hike this year is seen as possible in December.

DRIVING THE WEEK – President Trump to France: Trump heads to France at the end of the week for meetings with President Emmanuel Macron, who is going out of his way to build a rapport with Trump. They'll celebrate Bastille Day together on Friday.

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations: Trump's Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt travels to Israel tonight to meet with U.S. ambassador David Friedman and others. "This trip is an interim visit as talks continue about potential next steps," in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a White House official said.

Congress returns with three weeks to go before the August recess. Not much to do between now and October except deal with the intractable health care issue, raise the debt limit and pass a 2018 budget to avoid a government shut down and set the stage for tax reform. And all of it with the Russia story getting red hot yet again. ... Yellen testifies before House Financial Services on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. and Senate Banking on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. ... House Financial Services subcommittees hold hearings Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. on reg relief for community banks, Thursday at 10:00 a.m. on the fiduciary rule and Friday at 9:15 a.m. on bond market structure ... House Ways & Means subcommittee has a hearing at 10:00 a.m. Thursday on tax reform.

Next Blog: Tipping and Dear Rink Rats.

See you on July 17, Adios.

Claremont, California

July 10, 2017

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Frank and Ernest

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