To someone who doesn’t hoard, stuff is just stuff, nothing else

Wednesday, 10 December, 2014

Hoarding, or the desire to keep as many possessions as is possible, appears to be the rise in the US, if the increase in self-storage units since the late 1990s, is anything to go by, that is.

Chris Ziegler however is probably one person who does not own a storage locker… why would he need one after all, given that the possession of possessions appears to be a concept he struggles to comprehend.

I’ve found that the struggle lies in the wide rift between the anticipation of owning a gadget and the reality of actually owning it. Rarely does anything really pay off. There’s an adrenaline rush in buying neat things, and certainly those of us who’ve ever made or watched an unboxing video understand that basest kind of materialistic thrill – the peeling of the protective wrap, the smell of new plastic, the first boot-up. But eventually, you move beyond the honeymoon and struggle through the morass of owning something of value, be it $5 or $500, that doesn’t necessarily contribute a whole lot to your life.

That makes sense to me…

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Why do some people feel the cold more than others?

Tuesday, 9 December, 2014

If I’m in a group of people, I’m probably one of the last to notice the cold, if temperatures are on the cooler side. Of course everyone is different, and somethings effect people in varying ways, but I’ve always wondered about temperature, so a little light on the subject is always welcome.

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Me? I always listen to the music of Beethoven, didn’t you know?

Wednesday, 3 December, 2014

Is there a connection between the sort of music someone prefers, and how smart a cookie they might be? For example, could someone like Albert Einstein have listened to Radiohead, had they have been around in his day? Using data collected through Facebook, US developer Virgil Griffith, went about finding out.

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The midlife crisis… analysed

Wednesday, 26 November, 2014

The midlife crisis exists, the midlife crisis does not exist, the midlife crisis does exists… here’s the latest in a long line of thinking on the subject:

Long ago, when I was 30 and he was 66, the late Donald Richie, the greatest writer I have known, told me: “Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.”

Then I thought, well if you didn’t say have that much to begin with, how could you ask “is this all” later on? I think somehow though you may come back to that same feeling of emptiness, if for other, obvious, reasons.

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Debunking myths, a new role for private investigators possibly?

Monday, 24 November, 2014

Possibly out of work private investigators could find a new role as myth debunkers. It would, after all, suit their analytical skills perfectly.

That’s not to say the job would be easy… once someone believes a certain sequence of events, no matter how absurd the circumstances may be, changing their mind is by no means straightforward. That’s not to say someone shouldn’t try.

The first thing their review turned up is the importance of “backfire effects” – when telling people that they are wrong only strengthens their belief. In one experiment, for example, researchers gave people newspaper corrections that contradicted their views and politics, on topics ranging from tax reform to the existence of weapons of mass destruction. The corrections were not only ignored – they entrenched people’s pre-existing positions.

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Introverts, the life of the party, no really

Thursday, 20 November, 2014

Introverts are not hermits, or snobs.

Their minds however are churning out thoughts and ideas at an alarming rate sometimes, distractions that can make focusing on a room full of people rather difficult. But not all the time. I’m not sure though that I’d kill to have a great time at a party however

Sorry I murdered everyone at your party, but as an introvert, I prefer one-on-one interactions to group gatherings.

This, you realise, is humour of course.

Some famous introverts include Albert Einstein, Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, and all of your friends are dead.

We should also add Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, Emma Watson, Warren Buffett, Nicole Kidman, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan, to that list.

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Sleeplessness, great for writers and creatives at least

Monday, 17 November, 2014

It’s no secret, it would seem, that sleeping for a straight eight hours each night, is not what we’re wired to do. Indeed in ages passed, it was the norm to slumber for a few hours, get up, do something, anything, in the middle of the night, and then snooze again another couple of hours.

If nothing else, it’s a routine that might suit the writers, and creatives, among us, says Scottish author Karen Emslie:

And, even though I am a happy person, if I lie in the dark my thoughts veer towards worry. I have found it better to get up than to lie in bed teetering on the edge of nocturnal lunacy. If I write in these small hours, black thoughts become clear and colourful. They form themselves into words and sentences, hook one to the next – like elephants walking trunk to tail. My brain works differently at this time of night; I can only write, I cannot edit. I can only add, I cannot take away. I need my day-brain for finesse. I will work for several hours and then go back to bed.

And what threw out this once innate sleep pattern? The advent of artificial lighting of course. Followed later by the internet and smartphones of course.

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Song sung sad makes me so… happy

Thursday, 13 November, 2014

Listening to “sad” music seems to evoke a range of feelings and emotions – not just those that are melancholy – including well being and nostalgia, something then that goes some way to explaining the appeal of somber tunes:

The results reveal that sad music brings up “a wide range of complex and partially positive emotions, such as nostalgia, peacefulness, tenderness, transcendence, and wonder,” the researchers report. Nostalgia was the most frequently reported emotion evoked by sad music (although it came in number two among Asians, behind peacefulness). “The average number of emotions that participants reported to have experienced in response to sad music was above three,” they write. “This suggests that a multifaceted emotional experience elicited by sad music enhances its aesthetic appeal.”

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Just because a song is catchy, does that mean it is good?

Wednesday, 12 November, 2014

Just because a song is catchy, that is easy to recognise and name, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good song, right? With that in mind, researchers at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry recently identified ten of pop music’s catchiest tunes, but aside from that, I’m not sure I’d have too much else to say about them.

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Is the art of not working at work really an art?

Wednesday, 12 November, 2014

Always a subject that interests me. I – and I’m guessing I’m not alone – have known of workplace colleagues who simply had no work to do.

In some cases workers were relieved of their duties in a bid to precipitate resignations. In such instances, the company believed it was cheaper to retain the employee, rather than make them redundant, particularly where the worker was older, and whose original employment contract contained especially generous severance clauses.

One person I knew, who was approaching retirement age, was up for a potential payout of near on a quarter of a million dollars, but the company didn’t want to write out the cheque.

Instead they made him turn up each day, in the hope, I imagine, that he’d get tired of the situation and resign, presumably foregoing the entitlement to a redundancy payment in the process. He passed the time reading newspapers cover to cover, and chatting with anyone who seemed to have a few spare minutes.

I later heard he’d toughed it out, and ultimately walked away with the money due him, had they have only let him go years earlier.

Then, somewhere else, there was the situation of a much younger person, who simply had no, or very little, work to do. Bizarrely everyone seemed to know, but appeared to turned a blind eye. He complained of boredom, sometimes, but usually occupied himself playing computer games.

It struck me that he was missing an opportunity though. If an employer is dense enough to retain a worker who has nothing to do, they no less than deserve to pay for their stupidity. The same really goes for the worker in question as well.

Instead of wasting valuable time, he could have started a business, written a novel, or engaged in some other productive enterprise, which would have been underwritten by his generous, if senseless, employer. But no, computer games, and moaning, it was.

How could anyone call that an art?

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