Wealth and orange goggles, a better night’s sleep is guaranteed

Friday, 17 April, 2015

There are many ways to enjoy a good night’s sleep, but a couple of new thoughts have come to light. First up, if you’re rich, well off, and generally not short of a dollar, you’ll probably sleep well.

Or, if you wear orange tinted goggles for a couple of hours before turning in, especially if you watch movies on your laptop, or use your smartphone a lot later in the evening, then it seems you also will have a good night’s rest. Yes, that’s right, orange coloured glasses:

Most evenings, before watching late-night comedy or reading emails on his phone, Matt Nicoletti puts on a pair of orange-colored glasses that he bought for $8 off the Internet. “My girlfriend thinks I look ridiculous in them,” he said. But Mr. Nicoletti, a 30-year-old hospitality consultant in Denver, insists that the glasses, which can block certain wavelengths of light emitted by electronic screens, make it easier to sleep.

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Oh how do ye stress out? Let us then count the ways

Thursday, 16 April, 2015

According to some recent research, when it comes to sweating the small things, British people are more likely to worry about losing important documents, having nowhere to park, a printer not working, or their phone battery going flat.

Australians of course are not immune from such niggles either, try waiting ten minutes for a take-out cup of coffee when you’re the only customer in the cafe, and you’ll see what I mean.

Otherwise there is no shortage of bothers, and while the Australian list thereof is based on anecdotal evidence, rather than actual scientific study, the inclusions are probably about right:

  • Paying bills
  • Visiting your mother-in-law
  • Doctor’s appointments
  • The dodgy office printer

Interestingly who might, or might not, win the cricket doesn’t seem to rate a mention in either Britain or Australia.

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So few meals, so many thoughts of food

Wednesday, 15 April, 2015

We may only eat three meals a day, but that doesn’t stop most of us thinking about food up to two hundred times a day. Many of these thoughts are unconscious apparently – however anyone is supposed to be able to count those, who knows – so I guess that accounts for the seemingly high number.

Research by Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and the author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” suggests that the average person makes more than 200 decisions about food every day, many of them unconsciously, including the choices made from reading menus.

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The colour of art has undergone a blueshift

Monday, 13 April, 2015

Painted artworks are increasingly featuring more of the colour blue, according to research conducted by Martin Bellander, a psychology student at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, who analysed over ninety-four thousand paintings that were created between 1800 and 2000.

Bellander considers a few explanations for the increase in blue. The most persuasive are that the aging of resins has changed the color of oil paintings over time; that the pricing of different pigments have changed over time, with blue getting less expensive; or that it represents an artistic trend in the use of color.

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Walking enhances creativity, walking backwards supercharges it

Thursday, 9 April, 2015

Walking has been recognised for a while as an active ingredient in the problem solving process, but if you really wanted to ramp up the effectiveness of pacing about in search of solutions, trekking backwards may in fact be the way to go:

The established routines and habits of everyday life can stifle our ability to think creatively. That’s according to a new study that’s based on the “embodied cognition” idea that performing bodily movements in a conventional manner encourages the mind to follow suit, and vice versa. The researchers say that by breaking out of physical conformity – such as by walking backwards instead of forwards – we can foster a more creative mindset.

Walking in reverse poses an obvious concern however, how to see who, or what, may be in your path, before some mishap occurs. Contriving of a solution to that quandary ought to therefore be the first order of business for anyone considering walking backwards so as to solve problems.

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Go time travelling by way of your old email messages

Wednesday, 8 April, 2015

I have emails, sent and received, going back almost thirteen years. That figure would be closer to eighteen, had I have not lost messages from the first computers I owned, lumbering desktop affairs, due to the backup discs they’d been stored on corrupting.

So if I wished to time travel as it were, by revisiting my earliest emails, to glean insights into the way my thought processes, and the way I communicated, may have changed over time, I may not draw quite the same conclusions, as Brooklyn based programmer Paul Ford, who did have access to eighteen years worth of correspondence.

It’s strange to see the conversations because we’re all still obsessed over the same things we were ten or fifteen years ago. We’ve gotten older, gotten married and divorced. Some of us are rich, some are poor, some like comic books, some are writing poems, some are writing novels, some are still wearing the same T-shirts. Children change us, and keep changing us. Divorce changes us, often for a while. We cling to life and resolve to do better and then just drift back to ourselves and the regular flow of life. Like a pile of rocks in a stream, time running around us. Occasionally it rains and a stone is knocked around. Change comes from without.

The thing is, it was the messages from those lost years, the late 1990s, that would make such a comparison meaningful, all the more pertinent.

I was making my first forays into web design, had become involved with the Australian Infront, a local web design community, and was contemplating the meaning of a certain chance meeting at a bar, of all things. Followed up by an equally (maybe) contingent… encounter, mere metres from said locale, just weeks ago, it should be added.

I expect I would cringe, a lot, if I could see those messages again, so I guess the test will come, if I’m able to review the emails I’m sending now, in eighteen years time. I may recoil a little, but maybe not so much.

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You might just live happily ever after if you win big in the lottery

Friday, 3 April, 2015

It has always been said that those who win big lottery prizes tend to end up miserable. I’ve always had trouble making that compute though. If you struck it lucky, and sought sound financial advice, surely you’d end up far better off than you might have been before?

Now it turns out these sorts of pessimistic conclusions were based on incomplete research, often carried over a relatively short period of time. A large windfall can in fact make a positive difference to your life, as you’d surely expect it to.

The curse of the lottery was further debunked in a survey of more than 400 Swedish lottery winners by Anna Hedenus, a sociologist at the University of Gothenburg. She found that most winners refrained from splurging, preferring to save or invest the prize money, and that most reported being quite content. “The story about the unhappy, squandering winner primarily functions as a cautionary tale,” Dr. Hedenus says. “But this is not the common reaction to the lottery windfall.”

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Some of us can profit from the gimmicks restaurants use on diners

Tuesday, 31 March, 2015

This article listing the ways restaurants find ways of making customers eat less, while paying more for the privilege, might make for useful reading if you’re thinking of opening a dining establishment yourself.

Time is money, but that principle means different things for different types of restaurants. Unlike fast-food and all-you-can-eat places, fine-dining establishments prefer customers who linger and spend. One way to encourage patrons to stay and order that extra round: put on some Mozart. British researchers found that when classical, rather than pop, music was playing, diners spent more.

What about when you want to close up shop, and go home? How do you encourage patrons to go, you know, pay up and get out? Change the music, of course:

Another study found that fast music hurried diners out.

That’s an old one, shops, especially supermarkets, often start playing up-tempo music as closing time approaches.

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Working while in motion, not standing, the way to get ahead

Monday, 30 March, 2015

Forget standing desks, if you want to boost your performance at work, it looks like treadmill desks are the way to go.

We’re told sitting is the new smoking and that we should consider working at standing desks, or perhaps better still, treadmill desks. Indeed, the health benefits of treadmill desks are indisputable, say neuroscientists in Canada, led by Élise Labonté-LeMoyne.

It makes sense, walking has been seen as a great way to arrive at solutions to problems. In fact I’m surprised someone didn’t devise a treadmill desk earlier. Unless they did.

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Children must master many skills, especially these seven

Thursday, 26 March, 2015

Reading, conversation, collaboration, engagement, flexible/lateral thinking, and well-being, are skills all children should acquire while they are at school, with perhaps, if you were to ask me, a particular emphasis on inquiry:

Children are born wanting to find things out. But schools have, by and large, done little to build on this valuable impulse. In fact, when children get to school, they ask fewer questions, explore less often and with less intensity, and become less curious. One of the great ironies of our educational system is that it seems to squelch the impulse most essential to learning new things and to pursuing scientific discovery and invention.

It seems to me if something’s not covered in the book as it were, that is, if there are no explicit instructions as to how deal with a certain situation, then there is little interest in trying to resolve the matter. A little more of the inquiry attribute might remedy this.

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