Category Archives: life

On eased conveyance

Move Everything//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The first time you use a hand truck you will crash into a corner and run over your feet. It’s normal. The guy with infected knuckle tattoos lies when he howls his hand truck skills. But once you get the hang of manoeuvring around corners and avoiding others’ toes, you’ll discover a functional task that is remarkably empowering.

The hand truck has an obvious purpose: move lots of stuff from point a to point b without hurting yourself or the objects. Maybe you’re moving a couch or boxes of books. Regardless, the object or objects are heavy and unwieldy and it’s duty of these four-wheels to transform the item from intimidating to acceptable. With the hand truck you gain a powerful ally in negotiating space with the heaviest things.

Although the hand truck mitigates the threat of the large and overwhelming object, the truck itself retains an aura of intimidation. With it’s looping handle and stiff bars and corrugated metal bed it resembles a medieval torture device. And that’s when folded up. Open and ready to drive, hand trucks appear weather-beaten. The long metal bed hangs down a few inches while inexplicable scratches and loose screws punctuate the handle. Standing ten feet away you picture steering it with ease. Then you approach. And as you play Tetris to fit your couch or boxes of books on the bed, you realize that the hand truck isn’t a soft ally: it wants skill and attention in return for moderated conveyance.

You move. At first you push, forcing your body weight force against the hulking object to make pushing flimsy metal wheels less fatiguing. But after twenty feet you run against the wall. You switch tactics. You pull. The back wheels rattle ominously. Fifty feet later a corner blocks your progress. It doesn’t physically bar like the wall, but as you skirt the edge you realize the back left wheel is stuck. You push back a little, then push forward. Nothing. Standing there, slightly dumbfounded, you contemplate going behind the truck to heave up the back wheels. But, no, that won’t work as you could barely lug the object you’re moving onto the truck. So you drive back further and after manoeuvring and manoeuvring and manoeuvring you finagle a turn wide enough to slide the hand truck through the corner you newly perceive as narrow.

The first time you use a hand truck you will run into someone or something or both. And then you’ll use it again and again and again and at an undefined point your path will function with the vehicle’s. Through changing the way you move through space, the hand truck presents a new lens through which to view everyday objects and passages. All it takes is practice, patience and humility to understand this new outlook.

(Image via Flickr: Jeremy Brooks)

On the commute

Stockholm metro

I enjoy my commute. It takes approximately thirty-seven minutes: ten minutes walking to the subway, four minutes waiting, sixteen minutes riding the train (with three of idyllic Brooklyn Bridge views), seven minutes walking to work. During this spell the city fades away and I exist in my own orbit together with others existing in theirs.

Enjoying your commute isn’t a given: its daily repetition threatens to quash happiness. Commuting exists within a nebulous neither/nor time. You are neither working nor playing. You are neither productive nor unproductive. You exist. Commuting time is passive time. It shouldn’t be. Articles arguing for a better commute insist upon actively savouring your ‘me time’. But the word’s Latin root suggests otherwise. ‘Com’ means altogether while ‘mute’ signifies mutare, to change. Thus, commuting is a shared transitional activity. It’s a concentrated period during which individual citizens share time, space and routine to shape their city.

Commuting together forms a group identity. By moving in a specific way in a certain place, you assert your identity and build a shared one. Your non-relationship with the person you always see on the subway demonstrates how these different layers of identity form passively. You don’t speak and you don’t know their name, but you share a space, a time and a moment. You share the pole, the delays and the stench of other passengers. You make up stories about this regular traveller, recognize them and invent a name for them. Through sharing in time, space and routine you passively develop a relationship. This non-vocal relationship constructs your commuting persona.

Although these bonds shape how we feel about our routine movements, they form without recognition. Their hidden nature subordinates the commute in our daily movements. Riding the subway and walking to work aren’t inherently disagreeable, but ignoring the commute’s nuances turns these minutes into nebulous, so-called lost time. In a culture where “time is money” such undefined instances become evil through their lack of remuneration. If we adopt an active attitude toward our routine movements, we can acknowledge communal relationship we form and appreciate commuting.

I read. Through books I actively participate in the subway reading community and appreciate the role I adopt within it. Through these self-identity affirming actions, I perceive my thirty-seven minute commute not as lost time, but as daily moments of routine interaction with my city. These actions compose the fabric of my identity and work to form the fabric of a community. I enjoy my commute as shared active time and personally productive space.

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The Twelfth Floor Heterotopia

Arlanda Airport

The other day I was in a government building and asked a guard where I could find the bathroom. ‘On the twelfth floor,’ she grunted. Then she disappeared, turning on her rubber heel, keys clanking. Right, to the twelfth floor.

The twelfth floor signalled my entrance into a heterotopia of first world bureaucracy. Michel Foucault, the 20th century French intellectual, describes a heterotopia as an enacted utopia that expresses a vision of a societal ideal. A secular higher power directs meaning within these spaces. The power may be cultural or political or social as long as it illustrates the operation of a group. Some may enter the area while others are prohibited. These spaces reveal how we structure our world and respond to taboos. They possess both intellectual and practical functions. As I examined the limbo-esque twelfth floor, I better understood my community.

In addition to public rest rooms — so-called public, I had to show an appointment confirmation and passport to pass security and access them — the twelfth floor boasted a café (aptly named Café on Twelve) and empty locked rooms. I saw a man on his phone and a woman waiting for the elevator. The emptiness evoked the distance the building put between its functions and visitors. Although the visitors had been chosen to enter, they were shielded from the bureaucracy’s inner workings. Shades of pale and mossy green covered the walls like an alien’s living room. After seeing this sinister hue, the tenth floor’s plastic pink felt like the cheery. Whereas the public amenities floor intimidated me with closed doors and strange colours, the tenth floor distracted me with a bright, false cheer. Openness and restriction characterise government bureaucracy.

Foucault argues that access to space and spatial relations dictate modern life. The sites we visit define us. Frequenting a museum or being admitted to a hospital gives us a distinct social identity through which to perpetuate culture as reflected in a given area. Government buildings accomplish a similar function. Entering one of these guarded edifices associates the individual with a specific ideology, defines them according to the law and asserts their role as an ordinary citizen. The government building is a heterotopia in that it mirrors society and social relations while existing separately from the daily orbit of most citizens.

Myriad citizenship identities were being formed and performed during my visit. There were the deviants; arguing with the guards over phones and restrictions. Others acted as enforcers, upholding social norms. Some played the atemporal: they were waiting when you arrived and waiting when you left, casting them in a separate orbit from the standard 30-minute appointment. Our purposes impacted our roles. Some sought citizenship, others green cards renewals and others foreign visas. Although the heterotopia echoed the country in which we lived, our respective sections of the mirror corresponded with our social identity.

Despite our unique roles, we were all social others — individuals seeking to alter our citizenship status — in this heterotopia of deviation. A heterotopia of deviation collects individuals whose actions, and consequently identities, digress from the social norm. Foucault argues that the heterotopia of deviation has largely replaced the heterotopia of crisis (at least in modern cultures), which dominated in centuries when knowledge directed relations between groups and individuals. A heterotopia of crisis collected individuals in a critical mental, physical or emotional period. Foucault cites boarding schools, old-style honeymoons and military service as heterotopias of crisis that separated people in compromised states from routine life. Rather than cast out people in difficult periods, we rebuke people who exhibit a strange identity.

Time impacted the social and governmental interpretation of my national identity. Defining my identity as ‘deviant’ as opposed to ‘in crisis’ was a product of the 21st century’s loosened borders. Whereas immigrants to the US during the early 20th century were processed en masse on an island, modern migrants are processed in varying degrees of public view. Migration is no longer solely the product of a crisis — of money, of religion, of food, of family — that brings migrants to a new space. While contemporary migrants may be undergoing crises, the motivations are varied. I was a deviant: I was deviating from the path my country had set for me and, accordingly, entered into spaces that delicately pushed me away from others. They pushed me toward the desolate twelfth floor.

Crossing the threshold of the heterotopia ushered me into alternate temporal realms. My time within the building was sectioned: there was my appointment time; the queues, waiting for my number to be called; and my brief appointment. Time’s regimentation within the heterotopia foreshadowed the new demarcations I’d experience upon leaving: there would be the time to send my application; the window of time during which I could enter the country; the days when I’d be permitted to pick up a residence permit; the years for which I’d be allowed to stay within the country; the hours I’d be permitted to work; the day on which I’d be required to leave. My new experience of time within the heterotopia anticipated how I’d experience shared cultural time upon leaving.

But even as this heterotopia acted upon us visitors, it also acted with us. This was how I arrived at the twelfth floor. Although the building could have been closed in a fortress of hidden governmental rules, society’s insistence on viewing itself as a democracy required it to be at least partially open. So I had the terrace café and a toilet amidst an alien-green hallway of closed doors. My heterotopia of bureaucracy asserted that my society was open, even as it partitioned my time, directed my identity and determined my movement.

Three Lines, One Universe

La Garisenda, Bologna

“Dante, perche Virgilio se ne vada/ non pianger anco, non piangere ancora/ ché pianger ti conven per altra spada” 
‘Dante, because Virgil has departed,/ do not weep, do not weep yet– / there is another sword to make you weep.’

Canto 30, Purgatorio, Dante’s Divina Commedia. We’re in terrestrial paradise, the Garden of Eden. I’m particularly fond of lines 55-57. Virgil, Dante’s pagan guide up to this point, has just left and Dante is bereft at his departure. But Beatrice, the poet’s celestial love, won’t let Dante mourn for long. So — despite her indirect appearance in Inferno 2 — she utters her first words in the poem. They mark Dante’s first and only naming. Academic commentators eagerly dissect the tercet’s consequence. Should Dante’s name take precedence? Should Beatrice’s appearance? Should Virgil’s absence? Or should we abandon scholarly analysis and respond to them all? Together they articulate the mix of love, hope and loss that growth engenders.

You’ve experienced the emotion Beatrice describes. I call them Virgil moments, or ‘altra spada’ moments. Virgil moments portend change. They are the instances that reshape perception as we shift from one state to another. When Beatrice says Dante’s name; when she repeats ‘piangere’, to cry, three times; when she evokes the ‘altra spada’: she articulates ineffable feelings.

I’ve learnt that most feelings surpass language. Commentators will tell you that the triadic repetition of ‘pianger’ in lines 56-57 accents and admonishes Dante’s three invocations of Virgil’s name in lines 49-51.[1] They cite Virgil’s Georgics as the origin of the first formation, when Orpheus’s severed head calls out to Eurydice, his wife. Yet the parallel isn’t perfect. Dante’s appeal to Virgil approaches an anaphora that uplifts heathen Virgil to the heavens, while each instance of Beatrice’s ‘pianger’ evokes a unique meaning. We mustn’t weep but we may need to cry soon when we’ll shed newly painful tears. Beatrice reminds us that moments may alter our intents and emotions.

Airports and frequent departures trigger Virgil moments for me. My lingering gaze over the terminal invites others to share my sorrow. We don’t want to leave, but an unrelenting urge propels us toward the future we believe in — that we must believe in. We climb, releasing loved ones as new ideas and experiences guide us. I retract my gaze and scan my passport. These transitions, these Virgil moments, bridle us for the rivers of pain — of loneliness, of sorrow, of disappointment —so that we may benefit from rivers of joy — of success, of money, of fortune.

Beatrice calls the bad we encounter the ‘altra spada’. I prefer to treat Beatrice’s altra spada as a metaphysical symbol, but it has precise referent. Commentators agree that this ‘other sword’ is the Lethe River.[2] Drinking from its waters to earn passage into heaven, Dante instantaneously relives all sin. It’s painful; more painful than Virgil’s departure. The pilgrim then discovers sublime joy with a sip from the Eunoe River, which erases his memories of hurt and restores his faith. Dante took the former from the Bible but invented the latter, suggesting that divine words fail to describe human suffering. Thus, Dante urges us to interpret the ‘other sword’ beyond the boundaries of religion and of the character’s journey. Dante-pilgrim isn’t privileged to encounter this ‘other sword’; we all encounter it.

For me it’s the soap. After using up a bar in my last destination — or tossing it just as the logo has smoothed away — I forget about it until I arrive. Undressed and unpacking my toothbrush, I realise my soap is gone. I crave the scrubbed clean feeling I once enjoyed every night. Travel dirt lays atop my skin like an emotional scar, scoffing at my journey. ‘You thought you could reach the upper echelons?’ It hisses. ‘You’re the same person you were. You don’t understand.’ I throw water on my face. I swear to buy soap tomorrow. I do. Washing away days of travel, I rejoice in my novel routine. A bar of soap can be replaced. Still, my new one becomes a lifeline. Until, that is, it’s time move again.

Dante-poet articulates the struggle to integrate oneself into a new situation. Dante-poet articulates the burden of leaving and the catharsis of progression. In their specificity, these three lines rise above Dante-pilgrim’s journey and transcend Dante-poet’s fourteenth century Italy. In these three lines, the Commedia becomes universal. These three lines are The Divine Comedy.

[1] This quote isn’t important enough to break up your reading, but should your copy of Purgatory be buried under a pile of magazines: ‘Ma Virgilio n’avea lasciati scemi / di sé, Virgilio dolicissimo patre, / Virgilio a cui per mia saluti die’mi’ — ‘But Virgil has departed, leaving us bereft:/ Virgil, sweetest of fathers, / Virgil, to whom I gave myself for my salvation.’

[2] I shouldn’t play favourites with commentators, but I’m partial to Anna Maria Chiavacci Leonardi’s succinct description: “per qualcosa che ti infliggerà ben più dolorosa ferita” — for something that will inflict a much more painful cut. (Chiavacci Leondari 30.57)

How to Snowshoe for Beginners

Snowshoes

 

Go snowshoeing! All you need is a pair of shoes and the ability to walk!! This appeal reverberates throughout snowshoe literature, but — in my experience — a successful expedition requires more. You’ll need warm clothes and, if you’re the whinging sort, waterproof pants. You’ll want insulated gloves, a backpack, some water and trail mix, not to mention a pack of disposable hand warmers. Although snowshoeing may have once been a question of strapping on flotation-friendly shoes and walking across deep drifts, modern sensibilities have complicated the sport, evidencing a shift in how contemporary society moves.

Neither heroic age explorers nor intrepid mountaineers sparked my snowshoeing mania. Nancy Drew launched my desire to crunch over the white stuff. I was twelve, playing White Wolf of Icicle Creek. I sent the game gratuitously crunch-crunching over simulated snow in my artificial shoes. Even though snowshoeing starred in my winter reveries for years before I strapped actual metal frames onto my real-life boots, those dreams opened me to the sport’s unique pace and beauty.

As ice skating began as a way to converse energy in frigid Northern Europe, snowshoeing sprung out of necessity. Snowshoes helped those living in cold regions reduce the effort needed to cross areas blanketed in snow. Unfortunately, since early snowshoes were composed of wood, clues to the shoes’ origins have dissolved along with the snow they traversed. We may be momentarily sated by British archaeologist, Jacqui Wood’s assertion that Ötzi, a remarkably preserved corpse found near Bolzano in Northern Italy, died wearing his snowshoes. In the absence of a distinct origin, the modern snowshoe-r may freely transpose their understanding of the sport onto its history.

Despite the uncertain provenance, researchers have charted the snowshoe’s development in relation to the terrain in which the shoes were found. Given the distinct appearances of snowshoes in North America and Europe, nomadic Central Asian tribes are thought to have invented the shoe, taking their gear with them as they dispersed. Thus, the unique snowshoes in Northern Europe, Canada and Eastern United States arose from a common ancestor. The variations we see were subsequent adaptations to suit each terrain’s unique challenges. In the North Eastern United States, Native Americans favoured Bear Paw shoes. These shoes were wide and circular, perfect for manoeuvring in densely wooded areas. Maine Native Americans preferred a longer style, aptly called the Maine snowshoe, that allowed the user to move quickly across large expanses. Within each region, various shoes would be interchanged throughout the season, depending on the specific snow conditions. Although the snowshoe’s origins are up for debate, the relationship between the snowshoe’s local use and environment marked, and continues to mark, the shoe’s development.

Trees on the trail

Modern snowshoes seem the natural progression in snowshoe’s evolution, responding to today’s multi-purpose manner of sport as previous models responded to topographic particularities. Gone are the regionally specific, artfully woven foot beds. Today we enjoy zippy aluminium frames with waterproof neoprene foot beds and tough steel crampons. A standard pair of snowshoes can transition from backcountry terrain to rolling hills, reflecting the varied approach the modern sportsperson craves. We aren’t static in our practice; we move between regions, shifting landscapes and lengthening our hikes. Although certain subcultures cry the superiority of the traditional snowshoe, these old models are better at generating romantic fantasy than navigating trails. The contemporary snowshoe’s ability to shift between various terrains and purposes reflects spontaneous modern movement as the North Eastern Bear Paw or Maine-style shoe once mirrored local culture.

None of this was on my mind as I set out on that first nerve-fuelled snowshoe hike. After driving the six-hours from Brooklyn’s cement-grey to the Adirondacks’ snow dusted peaks, my legs itched to escape into the enticingly unblemished powder. But what was once routine for the region’s Iroquois population was, for me, an endeavour.[1] Shivering in the mountain chill, I hurried into my sweater, zipped up my vest, yanked on my socks and laced up my boots. With ceremonial pomp, I threw my backpack over my down-coated shoulders. Now came the rite of the first snowshoe fastening. Although these preparations might seem hopelessly modern — as distant from the Iroquois’ daily snowshoe jaunt as my subway commute — the process helped my speedy twenty-first century mind relate to the simple pastime.

If elaborate skis exemplify complicated contemporary winter sports, snowshoes are the no-frills throwback. Forget the instructor strapping on your skis, your own trembling hands can put on snowshoes. And forget skis punishing your curiosity as you stand up; snowshoes won’t slide in separate directions like wooden sticks will. I stood up, took a tentative first step, and felt the tight grip I had against the snow. One step became two and five the snowshoe’s steel crampons continued to support me. The shoe’s back remained loose like a flip-flop.[2] When I reached a slightly slick surface, the metal grips protected me from plummeting down. No matter your hiking style, there’s a snowshoe to support you. There are light shoes for running; mid-sized shoes for hiking on groomed trails; and large shoes for venturing into the backcountry. But I didn’t worry about the best shoe. I just fastened my rental shoes, handed to me without mention of a size, and began to stomp atop the snow.

Forget wobbling around on ice skates for years, snowshoeing is an instant gratification sport. But even instant gratification necessitates a revised outlook. For the flat hike, snowshoeing requires adapting your gait for a wider-than-normal base and adjusting your expectation from a brisk walk to a contented clomp. You walk and you wander and, if you arrive at a hill — steep or shallow — you pause momentarily taken aback by the incline. Look down at your feet and appreciate the ample base grounding you. Approach the incline at a slight angle then walk. Aha! The metal grabs earth and you enjoy a solidity no normal shoe could possess. Adjust your posture, maybe move forward a bit to prevent yourself from tumbling back. Poles might be helpful, but they aren’t necessary. Because, with a little focus, you’ll realise you’ve conquered your mini summit and are ambling to the pleasant rhythm of snowshoes thwacking against icy trails.

Like anything that excites people, snowshoe literature presents manifold techniques and competitions for zealous athletes. Magazines articles describe the fervid sub cultures that only snowshoe using traditional wooden shoes, the kind that decorate every serious lodge’s fireplace. Blogs profile the athletes petitioning to earn Olympic recognition for the sport. But you can abandon your competitive streak at the lodge, along with the ornamental snowshoeing gear. Meandering through the pristine terrain means wandering away from the present. Spotless trails offer a glimpse into what snow would look like if cars and foot traffic didn’t blacken it immediately. Routine concerns dissolve; just navigate from point A to point B without becoming a galumphing wet mess. Only now, if you do slip into soppy misery, there’s a warm room and a cup of hot cocoa waiting for you.

Light through trees

Whereas the production of superlative snowshoes was once an art, the modern preoccupation seems to concern techniques for a first-class expedition. This discussion displaced the location of art in snowshoeing. Before the industrialisation of snowshoe production, snowshoe making was a prized craft and way to interact with spiritual forces, in addition to being an essential survival skill. Although some traditional snowshoe craftspeople still exist, large companies manufacture the majority of footwear traversing the trails. We can personalise our hike by selecting from among a rainbow of colours and different frames. This consumerism bears no resemblance to art. But a peaceful walk through the wood does. When the discussion of gait and proper shoe disappear, we’re left with the same terrain the snowshoe-ers of yesteryear crossed. We may experience the journey differently — following packed trails bears little resemblance to marking freshly fallen powder — but the basic elements remain. As Native Americans remained mobile through harsh winters, so can our identities shift on a snowshoe expedition.

The trail’s peaceful atmosphere and clean landscape immediately enveloped me, but it was the calming rhythm of walking through snow that seduced me. Is this how Native Americans felt as they traipsed to their destination? What was it like when populations required snowshoes? These thoughts danced into my mind, then fluttered out as I admired a small, snow cloaked tree or listened to the sound of water running under a frozen over lake. Sometimes a song would pop into my head, disappearing when I arrived at the more absorbing rhythm of water flowing under a frozen stream. The sun filtered down through the trees, illuminating the snow with a gentle glimmer. A frigid winter breeze occasionally whipped through, but the consistent movement promptly warmed you. I imagine Native Americans felt similarly.

Snowshoeing shouldn’t be considered a niche sport: it is everywhere. It allows you to encounter the past and engage with your present. It can be a serious, Olympic-minded endeavour or a fun afternoon activity. It helped shape continents and cultures. Snowshoeing is modern and antiquated, and all the more exciting because it exists within this tension.

[1] It should be noted that neither the Iroquois nor the Algonquin, the Native American tries settled in New York, settled in the region. Instead, the used the mountains for warfare.

[2] This is not true of all snowshoes. Some strap to the rear of your foot as well, reducing the snow spray with each step, making it less likely you’ll need gaiters to keep snow out of your boots.

22 Things for 22

Copenhagen

I don’t know about you, but I’m not feeling 22.  But I am. (sorry, had to get that out of my system).

While my birthday this year doesn’t involve any Coffee Collective cortados, nor will it enjoy the end of exams as my 18th did, it seems wrong to let the day go by completely unnoticed.  Rather than celebrating, I’ll be sitting at university on a bank holiday that’s also my birthday, partially thrilled that there are no ‘cinco de mayo’ parties to attend.  Here’s a list of the 22 coolest things I did last year:

  1. 21st birthday in Copenhagen
  2. Get 30 lode on a literature exam in Italy
  3. Working social media for Sweet Lemon
  4. Finish reading the Divine Comedy
  5. Travel to Stockholm (on my own!)
  6. SKANSEN!!!
  7. Work at the British Library
  8. Attend an open day at l’università di scienze gastronomiche
  9. Work on my independent study
  10. Work with Epigram
  11. Drop Coffee
  12. Do a skype interview
  13. Bake the pistachio layer cake from Momofuku Milk Bar
  14. Drink coffee at Budin
  15. Go to Naples!
  16. Discover semiotics
  17. Eat countless ‘veggie omelette’ on a ‘multi-cereali’ bagel at The Bagel Factory (and return)
  18. Take a croissant baking class at Mille feuille
  19. Discover my go-to croissant in Bristol
  20. Read Into Thin Air (one of my favorite books. ever.)
  21. Made and ate hindbaersnitter
  22. Fourth year of university (and on that note…)

 

On Danish Radio

Copenhagen

Working in silence is depressing (and unproductive).  Especially when in a noiseless, aseptic library.  The white walls gleam menacingly.  Every pencil mark left on the plastic table from previous manic study sticks out, a threat of imperfection.  We all have our own toxic work environment.  It could be the hush of your desk at home.  Perhaps you find your office suffocating; with fellow employees mechanically clicking at their keyboards.  We shouldn’t have to despise where we work.

And that’s how I discovered Danish radio.  I was working staring at my computer at home in NYC in an intimidatingly silent living room.  My parents were out at breakfast and my mind could only think of what else I could be doing besides outlining an essay.  I needed some mental noise and Danish radio appeared.

You can listen to delightfully eclectic playlists filled with ‘recent’ pop music on P7.  MAMA probably means something besides the obvious, but I’ve no idea what it would be (though they do seem to play something akin to electronica).  You can listen to general talk shows on P1 and P2.  The language is such that your mind doesn’t fix on the meaning, rather it allows the words to pass through, some background noise to keep you company.

The best thing about Danish Radio is that, for me, it doesn’t exist beyond  work and study.  I’m not going to tune in just because.  I’m not going to go into a store and hear it playing.  When I put on P6 Formiddagen på p6 BEAT, I know that I’m working in the morning.  Nothing less, nothing more.  Danish Radio helps me find a productive mental space by providing concentrated distraction.  There’s no question as to what I should be doing when it plays.

Even the sterile library, with its precariously sorted books feels more like home when I can listen to Poker Face followed by a country song.  Now, let’s get working, positively.

How do you create a positive work environment for yourself?