With COVID-19 vaccines now available and society seemingly reopening for business, at least some of us are ready to say that things are going back to normal after the pandemic year.

According to Gallup, 66% of adults in the U.S. say their lives have “somewhat” or “completely” returned to normal, while 34% say normal life has yet to come back.

Complicating the return to normalcy is the finding that 52% of respondents say their life is still being disrupted because of the pandemic—14% say “a great deal” and 38% say “a fair amount”. That might not change soon, as 39% expect the disruption to continue through the end of the year, and 16% feel the impact will last longer.

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Did you know that Ellis Island closed as an immigration facility in 1954 and reopened as a museum in September, 1990? Annie Moore, a 17-year old girl who arrived with her two younger brothers from Ireland, was the first arrival processed through the station in 1892, followed by more than 12 million other immigrants before the station was closed in 1954.

Around 2.3 million people came through the Island just between 1924 and 1954, although the busiest day at the former immigration center was on April 17, 1907 when 11,747 people were processed. Over the years, Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Irving Berlin and Frida Kahlo all passed through the immigration station during its useful years. At its peak, the station had its own power station, hospital, laundry facilities, and cafeteria.

Today, the Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island is home to a vast archive of approximately 65 million searchable records of immigration documents. People can locate connections to their own ancestry there, as well as add their contributions to an ongoing catalog of family stories.

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We’re often told to “follow your passion” in choosing a career, but that’s not necessarily the best advice. Forbes explains why:

You can have more than one passion. Few of us have a single, overriding goal in life—and that wouldn’t necessarily be healthy. Think through what interests you, the kinds of tasks and activities you enjoy, and find one that’s both motivating and appropriate for a long-term career.

Passions change. What dazzles you as a teenager may not interest you as an adult. As you grow closer to retirement, your goals for life may change. Don’t lock yourself into a single path you can’t get free of, should the need arise.

You may not know what your passion is. Most of us have many different interests. Not all of them get us excited, though. You may have to spend some time doing jobs you don’t enjoy before discovering what you really want to do with your life.

• Passion doesn’t automatically translate to skill. You can spend years trying to master what you’re passionate about, only to find you don’t really have the talent to do it professionally. Be realistic about your skills before committing to a lifetime of disappointment.

Passion can fade. Over time, that thing you once loved may turn into just a job; a series of tasks that doesn’t bring you any joy. Be sure your passion can sustain you over the long term, or be prepared to take on something more stable even if you’re less enthusiastic about it. You can always find fulfillment off the job.

Passion may not pay the bills. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that many worthwhile endeavors don’t pay very well. Choose something you can do well, even if you don’t love it, so you don’t have to scramble to make a living forever.

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Summer has always been special. Wouldn’t you agree that August is extraordinary?

The heat is omnipresent, but at the end of summer there is a cumulative effect of having worked (and played!) so hard that there is a wealth of memories and joy to keep us warm... even as fall approaches and we begin to cool off.

I hope you are having your best summer ever; filled with friends, family, food, and fun.

For now, as the days burn hotter, I hope you enjoy every moment of free time. As we start to lose the last hot days of summer and look forward to seeing leaves falling all around us, it's a vivid indication that we are turning a corner in life. And as the nights cool off, I hope you collect memories and accomplishments that keep you and the people you care about warm for the rest of the year.

Yours,

Gino Pezzani

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According to an anecdote, Thomas Edison had a summer residence he was very proud of. He enjoyed showing visitors around the property and pointing out various inventions. At one point, people had to pass through a heavy turnstile to get back to the house.

One visitor asked Edison why, with all the other clever gadgets around, he had such a heavy turnstile. Edison replied, “Well, you see, everyone who pushes the turnstile around pumps eight gallons of water into the tank on my roof.”

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World Water Week is August 23 to 27. In an effort to develop a water-wise world, individuals and organizations from around the globe meet in Sweden annually to brainstorm sustainability issues and preserve access to our planet’s most valuable natural resource.

This year’s theme is Building Resilience Faster. Visit www.worldwaterweek.org/ to learn more.

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Technology has enabled a paralyzed man to communicate on a computer screen almost as fast as texting on a smartphone, according to the Science Focus website.

A Stanford University team used artificial intelligence (AI) software and a brain- computer interface implanted in the brain of a man who had lost movement below his neck after a spinal cord injury. The interface consists of two chips, about the size of a baby aspirin, implanted in the man’s motor cortex in the region that controls hand movements. The electrodes in each chip send signals from the neurons to a computer, where the AI software reads the motion of the patient’s hands and fingers.

The scientists instructed the man to imagine he was writing with a pen on a sheet of paper. Although more tests of safety, longevity, and effectiveness have to be conducted before the technique can be used more widely, the interface translated the mental visualization of handwriting movements into text, ultimately reaching a writing speed of about 18 words per minute, with 94% accuracy.

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The pandemic changed everything about the modern workplace, and pushed managers and worker bees alike to rethink what makes for a successful workplace. A vision statement, even one modified for newly learned lessons in diversity and inclusion, can guide your team or organization, but it needs to stimulate real action. Don’t waste your time on vague, feel-good catchphrases. Try this approach for project management:

Recruit a diverse team. Don’t start crafting a vision by yourself, and refrain from including only your usual group of friends and colleagues. Your vision-building team should include people from outside your department, and include employees who work closely with current customers and suppliers, and people from the top, middle, and lower levels of your group or organization. Or, if you work solo, be sure to include freelancers who embody different ideals for a wide scope of insight.

Define your process and purpose. What’s your objective in creating a vision? How do you plan to go about the task? What will the final vision look and sound like? Setting this out ahead of time minimizes the chances that you’ll fall prey to “mission creep” and try to accomplish too much with your project.

Take your time. A vision that inspires people to action doesn’t come out of a single afternoon brainstorming session. Everyone involved with your latest project needs to spend time asking questions about your industry, customers, competitors, trends—everything that affects the success of your vision. You have to build a foundation of learning before you can go forward.

Base your vision on principle. An effective vision isn’t about processes or products, but principles— guidelines for action and behavior. Explore the values that guide the organization: What’s their impact on what people do? Rely on principles that are timeless and easy to grasp, even if they’re sometimes difficult to live up to.

Think from a future perspective. Don’t base your vision on where you are today, but on where you want to be in five, or 10, or 50 years. Pretend you’re writing a history of the organization and talk about the directions you took and the obstacles you had to overcome in order to succeed.

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