Where have all the teaspoons gone?

Have you ever lost some cutlery at work? You’ve possibly got some sort of communal kitchen area with a sink, a boiler and somewhere to make a cup of tea but your company won’t provide you with any teaspoons. You bring your own in and before you know it some bugger has filched it.

Well, you’ll be pleased to see that someone has actually done some research into this mysterious activity. Have a read of this study, catchily called “The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute“.

Objectives To determine the overall rate of loss of workplace teaspoons and whether attrition and displacement are correlated with the relative value of the teaspoons or type of tearoom.

This is essential stuff and important for workplace harmony. So, where do they all go? Well, without reading the whole thing I’m not really sure that they know. They’ve worked out some interesting facts about the whole situation though:

Results 56 (80%) of the 70 teaspoons disappeared during the study. The half life of the teaspoons was 81 days. The half life of teaspoons in communal tearooms (42 days) was significantly shorter than for those in rooms associated with particular research groups (77 days). The rate of loss was not influenced by the teaspoons’ value. The incidence of teaspoon loss over the period of observation was 360.62 per 100 teaspoon years. At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a practical institute-wide population of 70 teaspoons.

Conclusions The loss of workplace teaspoons was rapid, showing that their availability, and hence office culture in general, is constantly threatened.

They’ve even linked in some similar cutlery-related articles for further reading, including a French letter (fnarr!) that suggests that this whole disappearing teaspoon thing might be a worldwide phenomenon plus another letter confirming that teabags and forks are “confounding factors”.

I think that more research should be done in this important field of science. Clearly there’s a problem that the government isn’t addressing.

Via Newsvine.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

I’ve not really read many Science Fiction novels even though my interests suggest that I’d enjoy them. I’ve read a lot of horror and fantasy stuff but have never really got around to reading much Asimov and the like.

The stuff I have read has been excellent, especially The Gap Cycle by Stephen Donaldson. I’ve not read any Heinlein at all, among a whole host of excellent authors in the genre, but it’s Heinlein that is of most interest with the author of my most recent read: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

I’d managed to acquire this book as a free PDF download by signing up for the Tor Newsletter last month. Tor are an interesting-looking book publisher with a whole host of talented authors signed to them. They’re sending out download links by email to people that sign up for their newsletter and there are a whole bunch of other free books to come, so if you’re interested in free Science Fiction then you have no excuse to not go and sign up yourself.

I’ve never attempted to read an e-book before and I don’t have a mobile device to read them on so I had to do it while sat at my iMac, or some other computer. Old Man’s War is only about 310 pages long so I figured it’d be a good introduction to the author.

I started reading it and I was hooked within a few lines. I could barely peel myself away from my iMac to head off to work, but as I’m paid to turn up that’s what I had to do. Lucky for me that I could also download the book there (don’t tell the boss!).

Apparently, Old Man’s War is heavily influenced by the writings of Heinlein. The only work of Heinlein’s that I’ve experienced is Starship Troopers (the movie) and I can see why Scalzi (and a whole host of other Sci-Fi authors apparently)  is linked to him. There’s a whole bunch of beautiful soldiers fighting bug-like aliens while flying around the universe in large space-ships.

However, I really couldn’t care less about his influences – his book is bloody excellent.

The premise of the novel is centred around some future earth where the space-bound Colonial Defence Force recruits soldiers on their 75th birthday. They’re promised rejuvenated bodies if they’re prepared to defend Earth’s colonists for 2 years of their lives. Those that join up are a little surprised by what happens to them once they are blasted into space.

I won’t spoil the plot-line but you’ll probably guess some of the twists early on. The lack of surprises really doesn’t affect the story though, as Scalzi has a fantastic knack of writing with large doses of humour. It’s very-much a boys’ own story with lots of guns, battles, sex and people with computers in their heads.

John Scalzi writes with barely a spare word to be found and the story clatters on at a fair rate of knots. I’d use that old cliché “bodice-ripping page-turner” but that’s, er, a bit of a cliché, and there aren’t actually that many ripped bodices. Well, there are plenty of ripped bodies.

I got through the whole thing in no time and I would highly recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in Science Fiction novels. It’s not exactly Asimov but it’s no worse for that – get it for yourselves. I shall be getting some of his subsequent novels for certain.

10 ways to make it through the flu season

Mark’s Daily Apple has an interesting blog post detailing some remedies and other methods used to help people get through the flu season. He offers advice on the correct foods to eat, vitamins to take and even the best way to blow your nose.

The very best thing about the article, of course, is that he’s used one of my most charming self-portraits from last year as a visual aid:

It's Red Nose Day! Day 84 (by rutty)

What a handsome guy eh?

Stuffed. Good and proper

Wednesday afternoons sees me lugging this old frame around a football pitch for an hour. You’d think that at 38 I’d have had a good bash at playing football but, sadly, I’ve never really played it for any decent length of time.

I’m probably too old to start now but most of the people I’m playing with are about the same age as me. These are all people from work and it’s usually about 7 or 8 a-side.

This is the fourth week of my most recent fitness regime and it’s a lot of fun, although it’s showing up my complete lack of stamina. No doubt that’ll improve over time but I think that I need to be getting back onto the cross-trainer too, along with going for a few runs too.

I was on the bibs team today and we got utterly slaughtered. On paper we didn’t seem to have a too bad team – some decent players (not me!) – and it should have been fairly even, but we got massacred 9-2. My lack of skill and fitness really got shown up and I did an insane amount of running around, getting left behind by some of the younger and fitter players on the other team.

It’s good fun, if a little disappointing today. I need to be more confident in my challenges and learn to pass the ball more accurately. Well, learning to pass the ball to my own team would be good.

Roll on next week!

Shakin’ all over

Well, this is all over the UK news at the moment but we had the biggest earthquake for 25 years last night. We were woken up just before 1am by our apartment block shaking.

As earthquakes go it was a rather mild 5.2 on the Richter scale but the epicentre wasn’t too far away in Lincolnshire and it made quite a big impression. Everything tends to be pretty average over here and this was no different – no deaths reported and hardly any damage to anything, although some chimney pots fell off and some poor bloke in Barnsley was injured by some falling masonry.

Of course, this does give me the chance to mention a proper earthquake I experienced back in 1998. This wasn’t in the UK though – I was serving with the RAF in Turkey at RAF Incirlik near Adana and we had a “moderate” earthquake of around 6.2 on the Richter scale. That’s ten times the power of the one last night.

A moderate earthquake (Ms = 6.2) occurred in the Cukurova region in the southern part of Turkey, on 27 June 1998. It resulted in loss of 145 lives and significant damage particularly in the settlements close to the epicenter at the south of Ceyhan town.

If you thought that last nights earthquake was scary you should have been in that one, and even that pales into insignificance compared to others in fairly recent history that have been ten times the power again and claimed thousands of lives.

Mother Nature is a powerful thing, although not so much in the UK it would seem

Getting the snip

If you were having a vasectomy would you blog about it?

Would you blog about it while it was happening? This guy did.

3:47 procedure begins. much pulling on scrotum and squeezing to identify vas. warning the local anesthetic will sting. two injections into cutaneous tissue-slight sting. injections directly into vas felt deeper and radiated into lower abdomen but honestly not as bad as I antciapted

heard snip of 3-5 mm, pulling on innards (pressure but not pain). doc started asking about worlplace. told him about [controversial proprietary work] not being popular – he was not amsued and asks why anyone is opposed to such a thing. man has now exposed my vas deferens and is cutting it. I will not argue. smell buring flesh from cauterization. elapsed time for firs t ball: 7:48

Now that’s dedication to the blogosphere!

Found via Pharyngula

Are we being Greenwashed?

The BBC has a very interesting opinion piece from Rebecca Swift, the Director of Creative Planning at Getty Images. She’s written about the recent trends in advertising for businesses to make their products appear more environmentally friendly by using green images.

As a company that generates imagery for the news wires and the world of advertising, we could not help but notice a global shift in interest towards “green” iconography.

Photography has its fashions like everything else, but once in a while something “mega” comes along that touches nearly everything we see.

As we all go about our daily business we probably don’t give it much thought, but after observing what is being transmitted over days, weeks and months, a trend starts to appear.

Our research team spent a year wading through all commercial imagery from around the world relating to the environment. We found that, in relation to what companies say they are doing versus what they doing, there has been a great deal of “greenwashing”.

The fascinating thing is how many ads actually recycle the same narrow range of the colour green in an attempt to raise their eco-profile.

I’ve noticed this trend and it’s been going on for quite a while. I always wonder how environmentally friendly these companies are. My inherent  scepticism suggests that most of these adverts are just paying lip-service to a passing fad.

Rebecca makes some interesting points about the use of colours in previous advertising campaigns, which as an amateur photographer I find rather interesting.

Eventually this green fad will die off and another colour will take its place. Which colour that is will depend on the current hot topic. I hope it’s black!