Archive for the ‘Mary Ellen’s Meanderings’ Category

ACI-NA NextGen Working Group white paper on NextGen Implementation at Airports

Monday, March 4th, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

The ACI-NA NextGen working group has just published a white paper entitled “Airports’ Role in the Development and Implementation of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Flight Procedures”.

The focus of the paper is on PBN as a critical element of the NextGen architecture. PBN will bring new capabilities to airports across the nation. However, leveraging this technology through successful implementation will require the active and sustained involvement of US airports in the procedure design and implementation processes. Maximizing the benefits of PBN will depend on inclusive collaboration among all stakeholders including the FAA, operators, and airports.


The Quiet Car

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Those of you who like the Acela Quiet Car will appreciate this piece posted in the New York Times Sunday Review section this weekend.  I’ve had similar experiences – in fact, during my last trip on the Acela, and I was compelled to post on facebook (quietly typing) that a fight was about to break out on the Quiet Car.

Is it just the last refuge that those of us seeking quiet are holding on to so desperately?  Is it because we feel empowered because of the signs?  And most importantly, how do we get a “quiet car” on airplanes??

Quiet car sign

Quiet car sign

Report from 2012 ACI-NA/World Conference & Exhibition

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I’m just back from the 2012 ACI-NA/World Conference in Calgary, Alberta.  Highlights of the weekend’s Environmental Affairs Conference included the following:

The ACI-NA/World Conference and Exhibition kicked off with the Calgary White Hat Ceremony, a symbol of the Western hospitality and good cheer that made everyone feel very welcome.  Somehow I’m having trouble imagining that happening with a bunch of Red Sox hats…

Calgary White Hats Ceremony

Monday’s keynote speaker was Zanny Minton Beddoes, Economics editor for The Economist. She had some great things to say about her predictions for the economy, some of which was actually reassuring (for a change).

The Exhibit Hall was the usual mélange of consulting firms, concessionaires, and airport engineering products and services – everything from carpets to trains.  The Hall is always a great chance to catch up with folks – see who has switched companies, grab a latte, check out who has the best swag, etc.

Finally, I must say I was disappointed not to get a chance to explore Calgary, which seems a vibrant city, awash in oil and gas money. What little I did see (see photos below of the Family of Man and The Famous Five) was beautiful. Next time!

Family of Man, Calgary

Famous 5 Statue (not Clint Eastwood!), Calgary


Having it All

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

by Mary Ellen Eagan

The ongoing culture war about working women has been renewed by an article by Anne-Marie Slaughter (former director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department) in the July Atlantic Magazine, and the announcement this week that the new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, is pregnant.  This is a topic (minefield?) I normally avoid:  while I am very proud of the fact that my pregnancy did not sway the HMMH Board of Director’s appointment of me as President of the firm in 2004, I also have dear friends who have chosen to stay home while their kids were infants, toddlers, teens, and even adults.  When people ask (as the often do) how I manage to balance work and home, I tell them there is no such thing as “work-life balance”.  It’s all a scramble, something is always behind schedule, and someone is usually frustrated with me because he or she is not getting enough of my attention – if not at work, then at home.   My favorite pin reminds me.

Working mom pin

However, I also tell them that I am incredibly fortunate to have the choice to attempt this balancing game, as my friends are fortunate to have the choice to stay at home.  I think about the vast majority of women around the world who can’t afford this choice for economic reasons, or some of my male colleagues who don’t feel as though they can afford this choice for cultural reasons.  I think about how fortunate people like Marissa Meyer and Ann-Marie Slaughter – and yes, even Mary Ellen Eagan  – are to be able to have the resources – wonderful spouses, families, and nannies – to support this lifestyle.  It takes a Village. Finally, I think that if people spent less time judging, and more time finding ways to be supportive of the entire range of working families, there’d be real progress in this debate.

The Cocktail Party Effect

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

by Mary Ellen Eagan

First, I must admit that it was the photo that caught my eye – we don’t have cable at home, and it’s killing me that I’m missing Mad Men Season 5.

What cocktail parties teach us

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article on “the cocktail party effect” which talks about the role of background noise on our ability to focus, especially in settings such as cocktail parties.  Apparently when we focus on a single conversation, our auditory cortex boosts the signal of that conversation to prioritize what’s most important.  Pretty cool.

The focus of the article really, though, is about attention, and how the findings of the cocktail study demonstrate why people aren’t very good at multitasking:  namely, our brains are wired for “selective attention” and can focus on only one thing at a time.   This has important implications for distracted driving, walking, and other forms of multitasking.   And yet, our kids seem to be pretty good at it.

BTW, a related condition is “selective hearing” – that’s when you ask your mate to take out the trash (or any other “yes, dear” chore) and it doesn’t happen.  Hint:  ask for a “read-back” (works especially well with pilots).