Clear skies ahead

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Clear skies aheadOn 19 Aug 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Airtraffic control in the UK went through turbulent times in 2002, but theappointment of a new general manager signalled a change of fortune, and theNational Air Traffic Service is now firmly back on course. Ross Wigham reportsFlyingis supposed to be the ultimatefreedom and as your holiday jet cruises ataltitude, it can often feel like the only plane in the sky. It’s not. Onaverage, there are another 9,999 planes in the air somewhere around the world,with about 5,300 air movements per day controlled from the UK.Thereality is that the skies around the UK are filled with aircraft taking off,landing or en-route to somewhere else, all of which have to be controlled fromthe ground.Despitethe fact the UK has the largest amount of air traffic outside the US, theorganisation in charge of controlling the skies has been in crisis for the lastyear.TheNational Air Traffic Service (NATS) has been blighted by delays, poor employeerelations, recruitment difficulties, equipment problems and a continuallypostponed move to a new £623m nerve centre at Swanwick in Hampshire.Addingto its problems was a rocky transfer from public to private ownership.Eventsreached a nadir when staff threatened to go on strike over pay and a lack ofconsultation – a situation compounded by staff shortages, overwork and mistakeswith the new computer system.Thishad a direct effect on the public, with average delays of 2.6 minutes per flightand, at its worst, there were more than 900,000 minutes of delays in just onemonth.Theman brought in to resolve the situation was general manager Paul Louden, aveteran of the organisation with 35 years service – 19 spent as an air trafficcontroller at Heathrow airport.Onhis appointment a year ago, he immediately set about building closer links withthe main union, Prospect, to try to heal the rift with staff and get theorganisation moving in the right direction.”Weknew we had to fix our problems with the unions because as a company we werebleeding badly last year. Staff also needed to believe in the company morebecause we’re totally reliant on the staff to deliver,” says Louden.”HRalso had to start working with staff to re-build some trust and establishrelationships on an individual level.”Thefirst problem was the move to new Swanwick headquarters, which was 80 milesaway from the old centre (which is still in use) at West Drayton, near Heathrow.Loudenalso needed to regain the trust of the controllers as many had concerns oversafety following the installation of new equipment and NATS’ privatisation.”Wewanted to assure people that going through privatisation has had no impact onsafety. British Airways and the British Airports Authority are both privatecompanies and nobody questions their safety. There was a lot of resistance toprivatisation from staff,” he says.Togetherwith Prospect, he agreed a new approach to employee relationships conductedthrough a partnership approach called ‘Working Together’.TheWorking Together document stated exactly how the union and NATS should becommunicating – with a specific commitment to openness, honesty and discussion.NATSpromised to let the trade union representatives have more influence on thedecision-making process, problem solving, policy communication and training anddevelopment.”We’veworked hard with our staff and developed a partnership approach with the unionso we’re not in conflict. Working together is critical to us as is communicationwith our staff,” explains Louden.NATSalso built a new management team focusing more on the concerns of thecontrollers in the operations room, and used HR to communicate and negotiatewith the 1,200 strong workforce.”Allthe evidence shows that if you need to make major changes you [should] do itslowly. However, we built a new centre, introduced a new computer system andaltered the way people work. In hindsight, we should have done things moreslowly and the fact the project was late didn’t help,” he says.Becauseof the communications problems and the resentment that had grown around it, HRset up a graffiti board where staff could ask questions and raise issuesanonymously.Amanagement group was then set up to look at solutions and report back on whatwas being done to resolve matters.SharonJohnson, HR manager at Swanwick, says the idea helped get problems out in theopen and was a starting point for improving relations with the controllers.”Wefound that confidence soon grew and people were putting serious questions to usabout the organisation. This was the start of the improved dialogue,” shesays.HRalso worked on the organisation’s core values to see what the staff wanted fromthem. Staff from across NATS were put into groups to give feedback on what theyactually expected and needed.”Operationalstaff had been quite insular because their job is so important and safetycritical. It’s been good to get people together and get a broader perspectiveso they can contribute to the whole site.”Afterseveral meetings, the groups drew up literature to raise awareness and getfeedback on the changes within the company and its core values.However,there were still major problems around pay, conditions working patterns andstaff shortages, which Louden decided to handle with a new, conciliatoryapproach.”We’vemanaged to get rid of some conflict and the staff have bought into theseimprovements,” he says.”I’vetried to create an environment where staff can perform and they’ve done that inspades. Staff are the key element in the organisation.”Thenew centre provided a more comfortable environment to help staff deal with thechallenges of controlling aircraft  andLouden wanted the new management style to mirror this.”It’snot like in the movies where everybody is shouting and at each other’s throats.We’ve created a relaxed atmosphere where staff can concentrate and work in anincredibly focused way,” Louden says.Toreduce some of the shortages, NATS used the Working Together scheme to changethe way the UK’s 22 air sectors were operated and agreed a new overtime system.DavidLuxton, national secretary of Prospect, negotiated on the union side and agreedthe new overtime system that paid controllers an extra £500 per additionalshift.”Thiswas a breakthrough because it gave management the workforce flexibility itneeded and prevented the closing of air space,” he says.Italso helped reduce the delays from an average of 2.6 minutes last year to just1.5 minutes today. Although this was achieved following a reduction in flightsdue to 9/11, SARS and the war in Iraq, routes were becoming much more complexand budget airlines grew massively.”Thecloser relations have helped us to reach agreement and get results. Things likethe graffiti board helped because managers took ownership of theproblems,” he adds.Luxtonsays the talks have helped ease the atmosphere of distrust. Previously, many ofhis members were complaining about the prescriptive style of the managers andfelt there was nowhere to go with grievances.Althoughstaff also now feel more listened to, especially concerning safety andequipment, Luxton believes there is still much to be done.”Agood start has been made to addressing the issues, but we’re still working withNATS to address the problems of training, communication and trust betweenmanagers and staff.”Trainingis a particular concern as the current pass rate for new controllers is only 65per cent, which is adding to the staff shortages. However,NATS has just developed a much more sophisticated modelling system, whichshould improve this over the next five to six years.Recruitmentis still a major concern and Louden admits that even though around 100 newcontrollers are entering the service this year, he still needs more.”I’mconfident we have enough controllers to deliver the service, but I’m alsocertain we need to do more work on the way we select and train our new staff.”Facts–The new air traffic control centre at Swanwick cost £623m–Swanwick deals with more than2 million flights per year–The UK has the largest amount of air traffic outside the US–UK air traffic control deals with 5,300 air movements each day–London’s airports have 90 million passengers per yearWeblinkwww.nats.co.ukEmployeerelations at NATS before Louden’s arrivalNovember2002 – Staff threaten strike action after executives receive large bonusesdespite problems within the serviceNovember2002 – NATS admits passengers could face further delays because of staffshortages and computer problemsSeptember2002 – NATS is accused of sexism after placing a recruitment advertisemententitled ‘bird watching’ in lad’s magazine Loaded. It featured alongsideadverts for cannabis seed, sex lines and erotic websitesAugust2002 – Staff shortages intensified after it became clear just three newcontrollers would pass through training in 12 monthsAugust2002 – MPs attack the “cost-cutting and penny-pinching mentality” atNATSJuly2002 – The number of overload reports filed by staff doublesMay2002 – Staff admit to misreading the heights of planes and mistaking locationsbecause of confusing fonts on new computer systems last_img read more

Oxfored clinch warriors draw

first_imgBLUES RUGBY Worcester Warriors 26 Oxford 26 The Blues bid to regain their Varsity title looked decidedly promising on Monday night, as they forced an away draw with the Worcester Warriors at Sixways. Worcester, currently lying top of the first division, fielded a relatively strong side which included nine senior players as well as members of their development squad, while a series of minor injuries as well as World Cup commitments meant several key players were missing for the visiting team. Oxford were very quickly behind, as a combination of good passing by the Warriors and bad defence by the Blues led to two quick tries. Worcester winger Birchall’s pace exploited the narrowness of the Oxford back line, and after the first of several missed penalties for Oxford, Worcester fullback Hylton made it 14-0 in fourteen minutes. Far from beaten however, the Blues kept the pressure on, and their patience was rewarded when captain John Allen finished off a well-executed backs move with a powerful try. Having stopped the rot, Oxford’s defence seemed less shaky, and Adam Slade made an excellent tackle in the fortieth minute to prevent a third Worcester try. Fly half Jon Fennel’s last minute penalty ensured a creditable half-time score of 14-8. The Blues started the second half in style, with a quick try after a superb forward drive by winger John Bradshaw. A successful conversion would have handed Oxford the lead, but the score remained 14-13 as pressure on the Warriors’ defence increased. Another penalty took Oxford in front, before an excellent wide move in the sixtieth minute led to John Allen’s second try of the match, converted comfortably by Fennel. With the score now 14-23 to the visitors, the home side stepped up a gear, and a textbook dummy by Worcester winger Garrard gave Neil Mason an easy try. The conversion put the Warriors within two points of the Blues, when poor tackling by the Oxford defence gave Worcester captain David Officer another five points. Now three points ahead, the Warriors conceded another penalty, and Fennel’s conversion levelled the scores at 26-26. After a chaotic last few minutes, Worcester kicked for touch to take the draw. Far from being complacent, OURFC Chairman Martin Jackson was already focussed on progress and potential in the lead-up to Varsity: “We are testing the team at quite a high level, especially since a lot of players are new to the Blues squad. Our next match against Leicester will be vital, as they are also shortly playing Cambridge, so we’ll know where we are and what we want to do. A few silly mistakes cost us the game today.” However, with two consecutive draws against First Division teams, and an unprecedented sponsorship deal with Aggregate Industries, the atmosphere is optimistic.ARCHIVE: 1st Week MT2003last_img read more

Fire Engulfs Asbury Avenue Building

first_imgFlames shoot out from the second floor at 1059 Asbury Avenue. (Photos courtesy of the Marmora Volunteer Fire Company) By MADDY VITALE A fire that broke out late Thursday night at a retail and residential building at 1059 Asbury Avenue caused extensive damage to the structure and forced four residents to evacuate, according to a city news release.The Ocean City Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at the building at 11:56 p.m. Thursday and it took several hours to locate the fire and get it under control, officials said.Upon arrival, firefighters found a light haze of smoke in the upper floors of the mixed-use building.“The Ocean City crews worked extra hard because it was labor intensive to find out where the fire was,” Ocean City Fire Chief Jim Smith said in an interview Friday. “I believe the fire was in the walls. For the smoke to start — there was fire — and the crew had to find it. But the fire just kept going. It had a good head start.”Smith noted that it was fortunate that not only were there no injuries but that the residents were able to get out of their apartments themselves safely.A variety store was on the first floor and apartments on the second floor.The home was about 100 years old. The Ocean City Variety store was on the ground floor and apartments were above, Smith explained.Due to the age and construction of the building, the fire was able to spread rapidly, the release said.After further investigation, the fire was located in the exterior walls. The fire was under control and the site cleared by 4 a.m. Friday morning.In addition to no injuries, the work of the firefighters resulted in no loss to either property next to the burning structure.Starbucks is on the south side of the building and a century-old home on the other side, Smith said.The cause of the fire is under investigation.Fire companies from Marmora and Margate provided mutual assistance, with Somers Point providing backup at Ocean City fire headquarters.The blaze took hours to get under control.last_img read more

Tony Phillips – A tribute by Sylvia Macdonald

first_imgTony and Barbara Phillips met at a party, they sat on the floor together, and talked, and talked. Barbara says: “At the end of the party, I knew that was the man I wanted to marry.”Tony felt the same. He said not so long ago: “I love her so much. In conversations they have always built each other up, paid each other compliments. Sounds like a good recipe – for a happy marriage. At work Tony had outstanding business acumen, Barbara has wonderful creative talents. Their wit and humour always bounced off each other. And they never stopped holding hands, it was their trademark as a couple.Tony would always phone me up with the latest news and was so proud when daughter, Jane, recently got the MBE in the Philippines, and he immediately said – it was with the support of his other daughter, Andrea, over here.His big love, apart from Barbara and family, was business. He started up with a cheque in the form of £97.76p from the finance company where he worked, went to deposit it at the bank and walked out with a £750 loan to start his own business.He began by opening fabric shops, then a travel agency, a restaurant and a bar. He became a respected Tory councillor. Tony told me one day, chuckling, that he’d left the bar to be run by a manager. One day, the manager decided to hire strippers. Of course the press loved that one – and when then prime minister Margaret Thatcher came down to visit the local MP, she said: “What’s that dreadful man Tony Phillips doing down in Gloucester?”So Tony started again. He opened a bakery known as Jane’s Pantry. One shop grew steadily to 9 and, with the help of Barbara, his managing director Neville Morse and all the staff, it expanded into bakery catering, chocolate-making and also a food van delivery service. Janes Pantry has always prided itself on quality ingredients in all the baked goods. Tony would not compromise on ingredients or price. He monitored every penny of outgoings and income. He was brilliant at business. His mind was razor-sharp. Two of the things he really cared about were accuracy and truth.How did he become British Baker’s magazine’s columnist? I heard him speak at a National Association of Master Bakers annual conference. He was dissecting the balance sheet with devastating accuracy, but an equal amount of wit and humour. I thought: “If this man can write as he speaks, he’ll be a brilliant columnist for British Baker. And so he was. The Simple Country Baker, as he was known – was simply – the best! It would sometimes take him less than 20 minutes to write out a column. He’d sometimes read it to me first and I’d say: “Great” – or else “NO!, you can’t say that – it wouldn’t be ‘politically correct’.” Then I’d hear peals of laughter and he’d say: “Well it’s just right then!”He was proud, too, of Neville. He said: “ He’s marvellous in the bakery and no-one could work harder. He started with me 26 years ago, as a trainee baker, and is now the best MD the business could have.”It was extraordinary that, as well as becoming the Master Bakers’ president and chairman, Tony became the first-ever English president of Retail Confectioners International, comprising over 300 top confectioners in the USA. Years ago, Tony popped over to look at some equipment, was invited to their conference, then to become a member and last year ended up as president. When he became ill in September, they flew their flag at half-mast, brought it down, folded it and sent it here to Barbara and Tony. It was a mark of their great affection and respect. It moved Tony to tears. Although very kind, Tony pretended to have a stiff upper lip. It wasn’t real. He was actually quite an emotional man, full of love, who enjoyed making use of the talents God gave him.As a Christian I discussed faith with him. And, two years ago, he asked me to take him down a King James version of the Bible. He used to pray and recently he said he looked forward to starting to go to church with Barbara and Andrea as a family. But it was not to be. He was very brave towards the end, exhorting Barbara to pick up her life after her period of mourning. Finally, when Tony first launched personalised chocolate bars, he let people choose their own message, including. ‘Congratulations’, ‘Thank you’, ‘I love you’. Those are exactly the words he would want to say to you, his family, friends, and readers who have worked hard in life and have your own special memories of A Simple Country Baker and his comment in BB. Sylvia MacdonaldEditor.last_img read more

Aulds to keep its eight remaining stores open

first_imgScottish bakery business Aulds is to retain eight of its stores after last month liquidating its retail division.In August, the business announced the division would be placed into liquidation after a drop in financial performance and increasing ingredient, distribution and wage costs.Joint liquidators from RSM Restructuring Advisory were appointed to the group’s retail arm, Thomas Auld & Sons Limited, and formally closed that business. Aulds is continuing to operate its two other companies, fresh and frozen bakery business Aulds Bakeries Limited and Aulds Delicious Desserts.With the news that Aulds is to retain its remaining eight stores, staff in those sites (listed below) and the headquarters admin and distribution team will be offered new jobs as part of a new retail arm of the group.Seventy-five jobs will be saved as a result, located in the eight remaining shops and at the company’s Greenock HQ.“It goes without saying that we deeply regret the jobs lost and do not underestimate the impact that will have on the individuals involved and their families,” said Aulds managing director Alan Marr. “We only embarked on this course of action after exhausting every other possibility, but we were simply unable to sustain the losses being made by the retail business.“We’re extremely pleased that we’ve been able to preserve 75 roles as part of this process and keep the Aulds brand on the high street. The response and support from our customers has been very encouraging and we’d like to thank them for their loyalty during a difficult period for our business.” Aulds’ remaining retail storesThe Piazza, PaisleySt Enoch Centre, GlasgowHamilton Way, GreenockBrisbane Street, GreenockWest Stewart Street, GreenockKempock Street, GourockHigh Street, JohnstoneAitken Street, Largslast_img read more

Destination space

first_imgWhen Jessica Meir was in first grade, her teacher asked the students to draw pictures of what they wanted to be when they grew up.Meir drew an astronaut.Three decades later, Meir has stepped into that picture. In June, she was selected from more than 6,100 applicants to be one of eight in NASA’s latest astronaut class, the first selected in four years. This summer, she took a leave from her post as assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to head to Houston for two years of astronaut training.Those who know Meir say the leap into space is not much of a stretch.She’s a scientist who spent 10 years investigating how animals survive in extreme environments, going to extremes herself to find out. She’s an accomplished scuba diver, a pilot, a backcountry skier, and a researcher dedicated enough to spend months with newly hatched goslings to make them willing partners in an investigation of oxygen consumption during flight.“Does she have the right stuff? Of course she does,” said Warren Zapol, the Reginald Jenney Professor of Anaesthesia at HMS and MGH, who recruited her to the hospital.“Does she have the right stuff? Of course she does,” said Warren Zapol, the Reginald Jenney Professor of Anaesthesia at HMS and MGH, who recruited Meir to the hospital. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerHer selection makes Meir just the newest member of the Harvard community to tread the path toward space. Stephanie Wilson, an engineer who graduated from Harvard College in 1988, flew three trips to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle, in 2006, 2007, and 2010, and served as the chief marshal of last spring’s Commencement ceremonies. Other members of the Harvard community have walked on the moon, flown space shuttle missions, and repaired the Hubble Space Telescope (which was launched with a mirror aberration that, uncorrected, would have short-circuited what has since become one of NASA’s most successful orbiting telescopes).Those who know Meir think “of course” when hearing about the NASA selection, but the news was something of a shock to her. It was the jolting, life-altering return of a long-held dream of which she had reluctantly begun to let go.Meir had worked for many years on the goal, from space camp as a high school student to space-focused experiments while an undergraduate at Brown University. There was a master’s degree in space science from the International Space University in France, and three years of working at NASA itself, providing scientific support for astronauts performing experiments in space.But with the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet and NASA’s reduction of its astronaut classes, Meir began to realize that there were so few slots available that even many more years of dedication, focus, and hard work could still leave her earthbound.It was at about this time that Meir was asked to join a NASA program aboard Aquarius, a permanent undersea outpost operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). To NASA managers, Aquarius offered the opportunity to simulate some important aspects of space flight: a small team, close confinement, isolation, and the need for life-support equipment in order to venture outside.The undersea experience got Meir, who had become a certified scuba diver in college, thinking of career paths that might not lead to space. The journey on which she subsequently embarked led her away from NASA in 2003 and back again, through MGH, a wind tunnel at the University of British Columbia, and the frozen, glaring landscape of a Scripps Institution of Oceanography research camp far out on the Antarctic sea ice.The girl from CaribouMeir grew up in Caribou, Maine, a community then numbering roughly 10,000 in a rural corner of the state whose claim to fame, according to the city website, is that it is “the Most Northeastern City in the United States.”Meir’s father was a general surgeon in town, and her mother was a former nurse with plenty to do raising the family’s five children. Meir, the youngest, recalls an active childhood that had her on cross-country skis by the time she was 2.“I think maybe it was because of where I grew up, but I feel really content and relaxed when I’m in the woods,” Meir said.Meir recalls being enamored with space from an early age, though she disputes her brother Jonathan’s joking claims that he was the one who gave her the idea.“He said, ‘It was my space-themed Lego set,’” Meir said, “but I don’t think that that’s true.”After high school, Meir went to Brown, where she earned her undergraduate degree in 1999. By then she had already begun space-related scientific investigations, and was part of a team that won a student competition to fly on NASA’s “vomit comet,” a plane that simulates weightlessness through a series of climbs and dives that, at their peak, suspend passengers in the air. She and her teammates devised an experiment — using pigs’ feet as an analog for human flesh — to test surgical glue against sutures for closing wounds in space.After graduating, Meir spent a year at the International Space University, studying policy, law, orbital mechanics, biomedical physics, and other space-related topics.After earning a master’s degree in 2000, Meir got a job at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. She worked in the human research facility, acting as a liaison between scientists on Earth and the astronauts who would conduct experiments on the shuttle or the International Space Station. During flights, she and colleagues sat in the control room and worked with astronauts to ensure that experiments were conducted properly. She also took advantage of her time in Houston — and the steady paycheck — to earn her pilot’s license.Wrangling at the penguin ranchIn 2003, Meir applied to a doctoral program at Scripps at the University of California, San Diego. She was interested in the research of Paul Ponganis and Gerald Kooyman, who had pioneered techniques to study the physiology of animals that had adapted to a most extreme environment: Antarctica’s emperor penguins.Meir’s project examined physiological adaptations to extreme oxygen deprivation, focusing on both the penguins and elephant seals. The work involved sedating napping elephant seals on California’s beaches so they could be equipped with monitoring instruments, and several long trips to Antarctica to study penguins.The Antarctic research site, dubbed the “penguin ranch,” was miles out on the ice, in an area with no cracks or holes. Researchers set up camp, fenced in an area, and then drilled a hole through the 9-foot-thick ice. The hole would give penguins access to the water and the fish they feed on but would force them to return to the ranch to climb onto the ice. That setup, Ponganis said, would allow researchers to outfit the birds with instruments to monitor their physiology while diving and retrieve the data on the birds’ return.Of course, once the ranch was set up, the researchers still needed penguins.Researchers took helicopters to visit groups of non-breeding penguins on the ice’s edge. The birds’ curiosity worked in the humans’ favor, as the penguins would sometimes approach on their own. When the researchers edged closer, though, the birds turned to walk or toboggan away. That’s when researchers wrapped them in a bear hug from behind, out of reach of their sharp beaks, though not entirely safe from the bruising slaps their wings can deliver.“She never balked,” Ponganis said of Meir’s penguin-catching skills. “She always wanted to do it, whether scuba diving down there or catching birds. Whatever we were doing, she was … very interested in it, and wanted hands-on experience doing it.”Back at the ranch, the penguins were equipped with small backpack monitors to correlate variables like heart rate and blood oxygen levels with time and depth of dive.“How can they dive so deep and for so long?” Meir summed up the research question. “They’re air-breathing, breath-hold divers just like us, but an emperor penguin can dive for almost 30 minutes. An elephant seal can dive for two hours on a single breath.”Researchers have known for some time that diving animals have enhanced oxygen storage in their blood, through both higher blood volume and higher concentration of the oxygen-carrying molecule hemoglobin. They also store more oxygen in their muscles, through high levels of a molecule called myoglobin.Meir’s work showed that the animals’ bodies also use what oxygen they have very efficiently and that the animals can tolerate far lower blood oxygen levels than humans can.“We’d be unconscious, and they’re still down there catching fish. They’re totally fine, and they do it all the time,” Meir said.Meir said she enjoyed working in an environment that tested her physically as well as mentally. A day spent digging out from a storm was repaid times over with the view of a 13,000-foot volcano smoking in the distance, dives under the ice, and time spent in the ranch’s observation tube thrust through the ice, she said.“You could stay down there for hours. The penguins are putting on an underwater ballet,” Meir said. “It’s crazy how graceful and agile they are.”Meir received her Ph.D. in 2009 and signed up for a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, where zoology professor William Milsom was also researching physiological adaptations to low-oxygen environments.Meir focused her postdoctoral work on the world’s highest-flying birds: bar-headed geese. During their twice-a-year migrations, the geese use the costliest form of animal locomotion — flight — to cross the planet’s highest mountains, the Himalayas, where oxygen levels are between a third and half that at sea level.While bar-headed geese had been studied before, they hadn’t been examined while flying in-low oxygen conditions, an omission Meir wanted to remedy by using UBC’s wind tunnel.Imprinting on a flock of geeseSince wild geese wouldn’t cooperate with such an experiment, Meir decided the best course was to imprint a clutch of goslings on herself to create study subjects that would be easier to train.She contacted a breeder in North Carolina and went though the slow process of becoming mother goose. Meir made sure she was the first thing the goslings saw when they hatched and spent hours each day with them as they grew. When she moved, the goslings moved, following her obediently and piling onto her lap when she sat down.“They grow up so fast,” Meir said. “That’s what all mothers say, but in this case it’s true.”When the geese had grown enough for the experiments to begin, she brought them to Vancouver, only to find the wind tunnel broken. So she began their training outside, riding on a bicycle as they flew along behind. They soon outraced her and she had to borrow a scooter to stay ahead.“They’d fly so close that the wingtip is brushing your shoulder, and you’re looking in the eye of a flying bird,” Meir said. “That was really amazing.”As with the penguins, Meir trained them to fly with small backpacks containing instruments to measure physiological variables. She also trained them to fly with facemasks that allowed her to monitor the air breathed in and out and to alter its composition, adding extra nitrogen to simulate the thin air at high altitudes.Though Zapol was thousands of miles away at MGH, Meir’s work caught his attention. Zapol, the hospital’s former anesthetist-in-chief, had long been interested in how animals adapt to low oxygen environments because of potential applications to anesthetized patients. One possible future use, he said, would be to minimize intubation, a risky, invasive procedure used to keep airways open. The need to intubate might be lessened if insights gleaned from diving animals, for example, allowed patients to hold their breath for extended periods.Zapol has conducted research on deep-diving Weddell seals, which live in the Antarctic and can stay under for as long as 90 minutes. He is collaborating with scientists at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT to decode the Weddell seal genome, a development that will help in understanding the animal’s physiological adaptations. He recruited Meir to MGH in the fall of 2012 for a new study on the animals.“When I heard about Jessica, I was thrilled to see someone else interested in deep diving,” Zapol said. “Now would be the time to focus on the adaptations the seals have.”Zapol described Meir as “attractive” in a way that makes people interested in what she’s thinking and that naturally draws people to her. “NASA has made a very good choice,” he said. “She’s going to be a great ambassador for science.”Meir worked on the seal project with Emmanuel Buys, assistant professor of anesthesia at HMS, who was struck not only by Meir’s research skills, but also by her infectious enthusiasm and ability to communicate complex topics.“We recently pitched one of our projects to a potential collaborator who seemed rather unenthusiastic when we walked in,” Buys said. “Jessica’s enthusiasm and knowledge quickly turned the tide, resulting in what is currently developing into a very interesting collaboration.”Meir talked about her acceptance as an astronaut candidate almost nonstop in the weeks after it was announced, and gave numerous interviews to the media. Still, the reality of it was slow to sink in.“It’s just so surreal that this could come true, that this childhood dream could actually happen,” Meir said. “It sounds trite, but hopefully it will inspire people that your dreams actually can come true.”Meir moved to Houston in August and is now amid astronaut training, which includes, among many other things, Russian language lessons, a land survival course, and additional training at the U.S. Navy flight school in Florida.“The vision I’ve always had, the thing I’ve always wanted, was that feeling of looking back at the Earth, with the entirety of everything you ever knew below you,” Meir said. “I can’t imagine how that would feel.”last_img read more

Homegrown BLT.

first_img Wayne McLaurin is a professor emeritus of horticulture with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Mulch and stake Make sure your garden gets 1 inch of water per week. (In excessively hot weeks, make that 2 inches.) If you get a half-inch of rain on Tuesday, give the garden a half-inch later in the week. Water early in the day to cut down on evaporation losses and to give your plants plenty of time to dry out, too. Wet foliage overnight may help trigger some diseases. With drip irrigation or soaker hoses, which deliver water right at the soil surface and not on the leaves, you can water almost anytime. Watch the fertilizer! Keep diseases down by placing the plant up on stakes or cages, and mulch around the plant to place a barrier between the plant and the soil. Mulch will also keep the soil moisture more uniform, which helps the tomato plant grow best. Tomatoes need it, but they need it in the right amount and at the right time. You should be side-dressing now, and timing is critical. The fertilizer you put out originally was enough to carry the plant until the first fruits “set” and the little tomatoes are the size of a dime to a nickel. Then, and only then, you should side-dress with more fertilizer. If you put out more fertilizer sooner, the plant will slough off the blossoms. It will grow vegetatively and not reproductively — it won’t produce tomatoes. Mind pests and diseases Wayne J. McLaurin Experts/Sources: Remember how great that first bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich was last year?The bread was toasted just right and slathered with mayonnaise. Then came bacon cookedto perfection, leaf lettuce just picked from the garden and the final crowning of yourfirst homegrown tomato — sliced ceremoniously, piled high with some hanging over the edgeof the sandwich. With a glass of iced tea and chips on the side, it was close to heaven.Well, the makings of that sandwich are within your grasp right now in the garden.Please handle the tomato plants carefully in anticipation of “The Day.”Tomatoes are 95 percent water Keep a lookout for insects and diseases. Check your plants as often as you can — at least two or three times a week. Get down on the bugs’ level and look at the underside of the leaves. This is where the insects hide and do their damage. If you keep these points in mind as you tend your garden, the “Day for That Sandwich” will come.last_img read more

New Stern Center Staff

first_imgThe Stern Center for Language and Learning has recentlyexpanded the staff at their Williston facility. Kim Johnson-Lesny, M.Ed.,has joined the staff as an Educational Diagnostician. Amy Davis, M.Ed.,and Gregory Martin, M.A. are Cinical Instructors. The Stern Center isnon-profit literacy organization with a satellite facility in White RiverJunction.last_img

Lake Grove Man Shot Twice, Cops Say

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Suffolk County police are looking for the person who shot a Lake Grove man twice Friday night, police said.Marvin Gonzalez, 33, was standing outside his home on Stony Brook Road just after 8:30 p.m., police said, when he was shot once in the head and once in the leg. Police said the bullet grazed his head.Gonzalez was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding this shooting to call the Fourth Squad at 631-854-8451 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.last_img

OpEd: Despite Pandemic, LIRR’s Future is Bright

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York As difficult as this year has been, there’s another side to this story that we can’t lose sight of: the progress and success we’ve made at the Long Island Rail Road, delivering critical infrastructure work resulting in improved service delivery for our customers.Several of the innovations our teams here at LIRR have conceptualized, tested, and executed with success have led the way in the global railroading industry. We know we have to continue to think outside the box and adapt to problems and issues that arise so we can continue to deliver the service our customers deserve, no matter what Mother Nature or a global pandemic throws at us.The finish line is in sight for Positive Train Control that already covers 98% of LIRR’s 305 route miles. Remaining implementation is in the area between Jamaica and Penn Station which is expected to be finished ahead of schedule before the end of the year. Positive Train Control enhances train safety behind the scenes by reducing the potential for human error to contribute to train-to-train collisions, trains traveling into zones where railroad employees are working on tracks, and other types of accidental mishaps.Last year we piloted a first-in the-world laser train to combat leaf fall season, which has historically been a major source of delays during autumn. This year we added a second laser train and increased the speeds. In conjunction with our improved pressure washers, we’ve hit record on-time performance figures this fall. So far this year, trains were on time 96% of the time, 3.6 percentage points higher compared to the same period last year. This shows what we’re doing is working. Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters here. Sign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here,Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters here. Sign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here And as part of LIRR Forward, we made several delay-causing issues a priority. Take a look at these figures relating to just one element: we had 86 track circuit failures that led to delays in 2018; decreased to 44 in 2019; and so far this year, 17, more than a 77% reduction from 2018. This means less delays and more on-time trains for our customers. A promise made and a promise delivered.If you haven’t already, download our free newly revamped TrainTime app that includes features serving as critical tools as we ride the rails during this pandemic. These industry-pioneering features can help you plan your trip to take the least crowded trains, while providing real-time information about your travels to help you stay informed.As our workforce has shown day-in and day-out this year, I know we have the talent among our ranks to get us through these dark times. But as we take some time this holiday season to remember what we do have and what we are thankful for, let’s remember how vital our public transportation network and our employees are to the fabric of society.From all of us here at the railroad, we wish you and your families the best in health this holiday season. Know that we’re gearing up for another successful year in 2021 to serve all of you.Phil Eng is president of the MTA Long Island Rail Road.This OpEd first appeared on amNY.comcenter_img For more opinions visit longislandpress.com/category/opinions.last_img read more