What happens when an orchestra eats the world’s hottest chili pepper?

Pain. Tears. Hurt. Agony. Numbness. Burning hell. When an entire orchestra decides to make the questionable life decision to all eat the world’s hottest chili peppers at the same time and then perform a song, all of that and more happens to them. For us watching though? It’s just funny as hell.

Here’s what happened:

3 Cultural Problems That Cause Good Employees to Go Bad

We like to think of character as stable. ‘I’d never do X bad thing!’ we tell ourselves, but a parade of findings in psychology and behavioral economics shows that our choices are often a lot more malleable than we’d like to admit. Change the surroundings in which you make a decision and you can usually “nudge” people towards changing their behavior–for good or ill.

That’s useful to know if you’re trying to improve enrollment in your company’s 401k or get more people to become organ donors, but it’s also an important reality for business leaders to keep in mind as they build their company culture, asserts marketer and psychology buff Gregory Ciotti in a recent Medium post.

“In his book Behavioral Ethics in Organizations, Dr. Muel Kaptein gives an astute summation of the scientific literature that evaluates how different surroundings can affect decision making,” Ciotti reports. “His findings show that the leadership of the company, the values employees share, and the interaction among teams, if handled poorly, can all cause otherwise good people to make bad decisions.”

So what sort of barrels spoil even the best apples inside? Here are a few of the dangerous cultural issues that Ciotti flags up. [read]

Tackling The Real Unemployment Rate: 12.6%

Imagine being served your poolside drinks by a lawyer, or getting your chicken sandwich delivered by an experienced marketing professional. The first is a friend of mine, the second my waitress a few weeks ago. Both lost jobs due to economic downturns at their organizations. Both took available work to pay the bills while looking for new positions in their chosen professions.

My friend and the waitress are victims of a massive but hidden problem called underemployment. Watching falling unemployment numbers being reported at 6.2%, down from nearly 10% four years earlier, is simply misleading.

Despite the significant decrease in the official U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) unemployment rate, the real unemployment rate is over double that at 12.6%. This number reflects the government’s “U-6” report, which accounts for the full unemployment picture including those “marginally attached to the labor force,” plus those “employed part time for economic reasons.” (read)

Karōshi – A Really Scary Reality

sad_womanToday, while editing some audio for a client, I heard a word used that I was not familiar with.  The word was Karōshi.  A scary word indeed.

There is so much in the news, on social media, even talk around the watercolor about the stress people are under.  Most are working harder than ever before and have less to show for it.  Prices are rising faster than salaries. So many are living month or less, accumulating debt just to survive.  That is if they can even find work, or enough work.  Under-employed has become a common work today.

Sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and the like, are becoming commonplace.

Earlier this year I found out about 4 friends who had ended up in the ER with, what they thought, were either heart attacks or strokes.  All for were stress induced.  No strokes. No heart attacks.

So, back to the word Karōshi. It can be translated from Japanese as “death from overwork.” It is occupational sudden death.

People are working themselves to DEATH – literally.  Young people as well as old.

Here’s the Wikipedia information, take a read. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kar%C5%8Dshi

Our answer, up to this point, has been self-medication or doctor prescribed medication.  But, as I see it, the problem is not getting better, it’s just growing.  We, as a society, have to make some serious decisions.

What say you?

The #1 Secret You Don’t Know About Outlet Shopping

Do you like outlet shopping? What you think is a deal may be no deal at all because of a secret that the outlets keep closely guarded.

Outlet shopping moves from exurbs to the suburbs

Outlet centers had their origins in rural mill towns. They were typically attached to factories and were a dumping ground for irregulars, factory seconds, and unsold inventory from manufacturers.

Then in their next incarnation, they moved closer to mid-sized and bigger cities. Though they were always careful to stay 50 miles or more away from the city core.

Yet the outlet business model has become so key to retailing that now outlet centers are often in the suburbs. They’re no longer in the exurbs 50 miles away. [read ClarkHoward.com]

Sarcasm Could Be Ruining Your Relationship

Who doesn’t love sarcasm?  That’s what most sarcastic people think. I found this article very interesting.  Even though it’s aimed at marriages, there are points that you can apply to any relationship – work, friends, or…

Like many people, I have the gifts of sarcasm and snark. OK, maybe they aren’t really gifts, but I’ve got them, and they work when I’m with my buddies at the gym or mountain biking or hanging out. I’m always good for a witty comment followed by some friendly chuckles.

While sarcasm and snark are often acceptable communication strategies used among like-minded peers, they are not really a great fit for building intimate relationships among engaged and married couples.

In three decades of marriage, it’s taken focus and hard work (amid many failures) to restrain my “gifts” in the presence of my wife, Cathy. Any time I “express these gifts” it hasn’t been good for our marriage. [read]

Forty Portraits in Forty Years

Nicholas Nixon was visiting his wife’s family when, “on a whim,” he said, he asked her and her three sisters if he could take their picture. It was summer 1975, and a black-and-white photograph of four young women — elbows casually attenuated, in summer shorts and pants, standing pale and luminous against a velvety background of trees and lawn — was the result. A year later, at the graduation of one of the sisters, while readying a shot of them, he suggested they line up in the same order. After he saw the image, he asked them if they might do it every year. “They seemed O.K. with it,” he said; thus began a project that has spanned almost his whole career. The series, which has been shown around the world over the past four decades, will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art, coinciding with the museum’s publication of the book “The Brown Sisters: Forty Years” in November.

Who are these sisters? We’re never told (though we know their names: from left, Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie; Bebe, of the penetrating gaze, is Nixon’s wife). The human impulse is to look for clues, but soon we dispense with our anthropological scrutiny — Irish? Yankee, quite likely, with their decidedly glamour-neutral attitudes — and our curiosity becomes piqued instead by their undaunted stares. All four sisters almost always look directly at the camera, as if to make contact, even if their gazes are guarded or restrained. [read]

The U.S. Forest Service Wants to Fine You $1,000 for Taking Pictures

FineThis week’s most profoundly wrongheaded display of nonviolent press infringement comes from an unlikely source: The U.S. Forest Service. New rules being finalized in November state that—across this country’s gloriously beautiful, endlessly photogenic, 36 million acres of designated wilderness area administered by the USFS—members of the press who happen upon it will need permits to photograph or shoot video.

And yes, it does sound like one of the dumbest things you’ve ever read.

“It’s pretty clearly unconstitutional,” said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Alexandria, Va. “They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can’t.”

Wait! It gets better.

[Liz Close, the Forest Service's acting wilderness director] didn’t cite any real-life examples of why the policy is needed or what problems it’s addressing. She didn’t know whether any media outlets had applied for permits in the last four years.

The slap you just heard was of more than 34 million American hikers hitting palm to forehead. And the clicks you heard came from nature photographers from coast to coast ignoring those new rules. [read]

Relonch camera case brings APS-C sensor, f/2 lens to iPhone

Would you pay $499 for this camera iPhone case?

“It would be really hard to make a trashy photo.” That’s the actual tagline for a company called Relonch, which just launched (correct spelling) a camera case for iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 at Photokina today. Normally we’d dismiss such a product as vaporware, but this could end up being a pretty nifty gadget, if it ever makes it to market. Once you slide your iPhone into the $499 jacket, you’ll have access (via the Lightning port) to an APS-C sensor and a permanently affixed f/2 (or better) lens. The version above is just a mock-up — we did see a working prototype (it performed very well), which is simply a hodgepodge of “parts from different cameras.” The final version will also serve as an external battery for your smartphone, enabling more than four hours of use. [read]

Don’t Put iOS 8 On Your iPhone 4S

Apple has made it so that that iOS 8, which goes out to the public today, will work on iPhones reaching all the way back to the venerable 4S. Which is good! But as Ars Technica found out the hard way, subjecting your elderly iPhone to new software may not be worth it. At least not yet.

The 4S, which first hit the streets nearly three years ago, does its damnedest to keep up with the software designed for its bigger (and even biggerer) younger siblings. But it just plain doesn’t have the hardware to support some of iOS 8′s biggest features, like Touch ID, AirDrop, and the Metal graphics API.

And even with the stuff it can handle, the poor 4S gets winded pretty quickly. Ars points out that the phone’s guts offer about a quarter of the performance of the iPhone 5S, and an even smaller fraction compared to the newest iPhone 6. Apps launch more slowly—sometimes taking 50 percent longer to load—with herky-jerky transitions that hang and hesitate. [read]