Blog Posts by Alix Finkelstein

  • After Hurricane Sandy: Lending a Hand in the Rockaways

    Fire and water has utterly devastated the communities of the Rockaways in Queens.

    In my historical neighborhood of Brooklyn brownstones, my friends and I resumed our lives the day after Sandy easily, suffering nothing more than intermittent internet service and a smattering of downed trees. But just a few miles away, there was utter devastation. My fifteen-year-old daughter attends school with the sons and daughters of many residents of the coastal towns of the Rockaways, an 11-mile peninsula that is part of the city's borough of Queens. She grew increasingly alarmed by the frantic messages and tragic photos of gutted bedrooms filling up her Facebook page.

    "Mom," she pleaded, "we need to do something."
    "What do your friends need?" I asked.
    "Everything," she answered.

    The minivan loaded with donated goods soliciting from friends in less than 3 hours.

    I sent out an email that day to a dozen moms in my neighborhood asking for water, contractor bags, bleach, peanut butter, blankets, propane. The essentials needed to survive and facilitate clean up. My best friend Eliza agreed to do the driving. Heading down Flatbush Avenue toward the Rockaways, we

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  • A Purrrr-fect Way to Boost Productivity at Work

    Do you feel guilty for sneaking peeks of You Tube's latest kittencam feed while at the office? Don't! Researchers at Japan's Hiroshima University say that staring at images of kittens and puppies actually improves work performance, which means that the internet's endless stream of adorable baby animals may hike-- not highjack-- productivity.

    In Japan, "kawaii," which loosely translates as "cuteness," is a well-regarded trait. Its popularity has transcended cultural and geographical boundaries through the country's most famous imports: Hello Kitty and Pokemon. But researchers at Hiroshima University wanted to find out if the infantile features that the Japanese find so adorable could serve a purpose beyond their attractiveness.

    For a double dose of "kawaii," meet Mango and Milkshake!

    They asked study participants to perform manual tasks after looking at images of baby animals, adult animals, and delicious foods and then compared the results. For tasks that required diligence and

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  • Drinking Dangers: 5 New Facts Your Teen Needs to Know Right Now

    There has been some encouraging news about the ongoing effort to combat teen-age drinking. Government statistics show that more teens are heeding warnings about the dangers of alcohol abuse and since 1991 there has been a gradual decline in the age of first-time use of alcohol, frequency of use, and binge drinking. At the same time, health experts who study the risks of teen-age alcohol abuse continue to find important new evidence of alcohol's threat to adolescent mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Use these latest findings, published this month by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, to help convince your child to join the growing number of teens who abstain.

    1. Alcohol harms brain growth. In a recent study comparing the brains of youth ages 14 to 21 who did and did not abuse alcohol, researchers found that the areas of the brain that handle memory and learning were about 10 percent smaller in drinkers than in those who did not drink. Similar

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