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July 28, 2011

"Attack the Block" Opens Tomorrow

There are those who think this is a fantastic film.

Based on the trailer, I'm down for it.

Alas, it doesn't appear to be coming to my Podunk town mañana.

Real soon now, though.

July 28, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Peach Wood Comb

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Hand made; 16.5 cm long.

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$8.

July 28, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Why Vacations Fail

Marta Zaraska's Washington Post story looked at recent studies about vacations.

She wrote, "Do vacations make us happy for long? According to studies published in recent years, not really. Not only are the positive effects of holidays on our well-being weak, they also fade very fast. Once the traveling was over, researchers found, those who had gone away didn’t feel any better than those who had stayed home."

And: "Jeroen Nawijn of NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands found a holiday happiness curve: Our mood tends to be lowest through the first 10 percent of a holiday and quite high during the 'core phase,' which spans about 70 percent of the vacation time."

Below, the abstract of Nawijn's study, published in the May/June 2010 issue of the International Journal of Tourism Research.

The holiday happiness curve: a preliminary investigation into mood during a holiday abroad

We take holidays for pleasure, but how well do we actually feel during our holiday? This question was addressed in a study of 481 international tourists in the Netherlands, who answered questions about their mood of the day and about their satisfaction with life in general. Average mood appears to be high. Mood was somewhat lower among people who were in the first "travel phase" of about 10% of the holiday duration. Mood was highest during the "core phase," which covers about 70% of the holiday time. Mood then declines slightly, but increases during the last part of the holiday.

A second study by Nawijn found that vacationers' benefits "had all but vanished within the first week of everyday life."

Below, the abstract of that paper, published in the March 2010 issue of Applied Research in Quality of Life.

Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday

The aim of this study was to obtain a greater insight into the association between vacations and happiness. We examined whether vacationers differ in happiness, compared to those not going on holiday, and if a holiday trip boosts post-trip happiness. These questions were addressed in a pre-test/post-test design study among 1,530 Dutch individuals. 974 vacationers answered questions about their happiness before and after a holiday trip. Vacationers reported a higher degree of pre-trip happiness, compared to non-vacationers, possibly because they are anticipating their holiday. Only a very relaxed holiday trip boosts vacationers’ happiness further after return. Generally, there is no difference between vacationers' and non-vacationers' post-trip happiness. The findings are explained in the light of set-point theory, need theory and comparison theory.

"Philip Pearce of James Cook University in Australia studied tourists visiting tropical islands along the Great Barrier Reef and discovered that their moods were particularly negative on the second and third days of their holidays, the time during which they also seemed to develop the most health problems. These ailments included skin rashes, tiredness, allergies, ear infections and asthma."

Below, the abstract of Pearce's paper, published in the June 1981 issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

"Environment Shock": A Study of Tourists' Reactions to Two Tropical Islands

The usefulness of links between tourism research and work in social psychology was considered. A diary-based study of tourists visiting tropical islands in North Queensland was discussed and changes in the day-to-day moods of tourists on the islands were reported. Some determinants of these mood changes were demonstrated using log linear analysis. Negative moods were more frequent on the second and third days of holiday, particularly during the evenings. It was argued that tourists experienced "environment shock" in visiting these resorts. Self-report health data confirmed this suggestion. Furthermore, tourists appeared to increase the number of self-initiated as compared to other-initiated activities during their holiday. It was concluded that the shift in activity patterns and the "environment shock" health problems were possible explanations of the day-to-day mood patterning reported in the study.

A fourth study, led by Ad Vingerhoets of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, coined the term "leisure sickness,"in which people develop symptoms of illness during weekends and vacations, even thought they rarely feel bad at work.

Wrote Zaraska, "Vingerhoets believes leisure sickness — the inability to relax and adapt to the pace of life outside work — to be more prevalent in people living in big cities. Those affected suffer from headaches, muscular pains, nausea and flulike symptoms just when their free time begins, whether it’s a weekend or holiday."

"I feel that there is a strong connection with workaholism. Men and women with responsible positions in management and much work pressure may suffer from this condition," Vingerhoets said.

Below, the abstract of Vingerhoets' study, published in the November/December 2002 issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

Leisure Sickness: A Pilot Study on its Prevalence, Phenomenology, and Background

Aim: To explore the prevalence, phenomenology, and background of leisure sickness, i.e., the condition of people developing symptoms of sickness during weekends and/or vacations. Method: In order to obtain an estimate of its prevalence, a representative Dutch sample consisting of 1,128 men and 765 women was asked to indicate to what extent they recognized themselves in our description of weekend and vacation sickness. For the investigation of the phenomenology and background of this condition and the characteristics of the patients suffering from it, questionnaire data were collected in new samples consisting of 114 cases and 56 controls. Questions referred to symptoms, onset, duration, appreciation of weekend and vacation activities, and appraisal of work and workload. Results: In the case of male respondents, 3.6 and 3.2% recognized themselves in the description of the weekend and the vacation syndrome, respectively, compared with 2.7 and 3.2% women. Most frequently reported symptoms were headache/migraine, fatigue, muscular pains, and nausea. In addition, viral infections (flue-like, common cold) were often reported in relation to vacations. Cases had generally suffered from leisure sickness for over 10 years and the onset was associated with stressful conditions. They attributed their condition to difficulties with the transition from work to nonwork, stress associated with travel and vacation, as well as workload and personality characteristics. There were no significant group differences in the appreciation of weekend and leisure activities or lifestyle during days off. Most striking differences were found with respect to experienced workload, sense of responsibility, and inability to relax. Conclusion: Leisure sickness is a relatively common condition. Specific lifestyle factors or leisure activities seem to be less relevant for its development. Concerning risk factors, the data tend to point to high workload and person characteristics, namely, the inability to adapt to the nonworking situation, a high need for achievement, and a high sense of responsibility with respect to work. Future studies should be designed for testing specific hypotheses concerning the underlying mechanisms and evaluating the effectiveness of psychological and/or physical activity interventions.

Finally, a fifth study, published in the Journal of Leisure Research, concluded that people shouldn't come back on a Sunday but instead should do so on a Thursday or Friday, so "we can insulate ourselves from the shock of job demands and prolong the holiday happiness boost."

I'll bet you could use a vacation right about now, huh?

Go ahead, take as long as you like.

July 28, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Marcel Wanders Crochet Table — Episode 2: Price Break

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Back in 2007 when I featured this table (in black) it cost $3,400.

Four years later it's in white for less than half the price.

Handmade cotton crochet and epoxy resin.

A cube measuring 11.8" on a side.

$1,563.

July 28, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Expert's Expert: Maria Callas teaches Sung Kil Kim

Listen as "Maria Callas teaches Sung Kil Kim how to sing the gorgeous baritone aria, 'Nemico della Patria,' from Giordano's 'Andrea Chenier' with greater emotion and Italian style."

The session occurred on February 28, 1972, part of her now-legendary 1971-72 series of Master Classes at Juilliard.

Wrote Anthony Tommasini in yesterday's New York Times article about the current staging on Broadway of Terrence McNally's 1995 play, "Master Class," "There were 23 two-hour sessions in all, and Callas worked with 25 students whom she had selected after listening to some 300 young singers in audition."

More: "To judge from the critic John Ardoin's excellent 1987 book, 'Callas at Juilliard: The Master Classes,' and especially the classic three-disc EMI recording 'Maria Callas at Juilliard,' which includes long extracts from her coaching of 10 student singers, Callas was not much like the imperious, self-absorbed prima donna of Mr. McNally’s play. At Juilliard she was frank and demanding but unfailingly patient and encouraging. Above all, she was impressively precise in her technical and interpretive critiques."

And: "Even though Callas’s career was all but officially over at the time of these classes (she last sang onstage in 1965), she sang continually as she worked with the students, illustrating her points even when her voice wobbled and her sound was raw."

"There are many flashes of the great Callas on these revealing recordings. Still, it took courage to expose herself as she did. Working with a soprano on an aria from Cherubini’s 'Medea' (sung in Italian), she demonstrates the quality of tragic calm she thinks the magisterial phrases should have. Her singing is strained yet somehow noble."

"A play that hewed closely to Callas's detailed teaching during the Juilliard classes might not be great theater. But there is great drama in listening to Callas at Juilliard, so vulnerable and giving as she works with a new generation of singers, pushing aside for a while any thoughts about her own future. She died just five years later [at 53]."

July 28, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

iPhone 4 Personal Cooling Device is Thickest iPhone 4 in the World

Absolutely charming video (above) extolling its merits.

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"It's three times thicker than Apple's iPhone 4 —

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but who cares?"

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Indeed.

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"Rinse the blue cheese and squeeze it hard"

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could become a meme on par with

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"All your base are belong to us."

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Official iPhone 4 Personal Cooling Device of Ned Vizzini.

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$9.90 (iPhone 4 not included).

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[via idownloadblog and Micgadget].

July 28, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Life in a Day"

The YouTube caption: "What happens when you send a request out to the world to chronicle, via video, a single day on Earth? You get 80,000 submissions and 4,500 hours of footage from 192 countries. Producer Ridley Scott and Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald took this raw material — all shot on July 24, 2010 — and created "Life in a Day," a groundbreaking, feature-length documentary that portrays this kaleidoscope of images we call life. National Geographic is bringing it to theaters this week."

From Rachel Dodes's July 22 Wall Street Journal story: "It took more than two months for 25 multi-lingual research assistants just to watch all of the footage. A large chunk of the film's $2 million budget went to paying the salaries of the team — made up mostly of film students in London — which coded the videos by topic, translated them, and rated them all from 1 to 5."

"Mr. Macdonald watched 350 hours of the most highly-ranked footage. Based on the patterns that began to emerge, he wove together a story. For example, he says he realized that, coincidentally, there was a full moon on July 24, 2010, so he decided the film would begin with various shots of the moon taken from all over the world."

Interview with the film's director here.

Can't wait to see it.

July 28, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

3M Precise Optical Mousing Surface

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Most of the time I use my Air while sitting at an old wooden table.

I noticed that my Magic Mouse wasn't working very well with the Air even though I'd Pledged the wood as best I could.

So badly was it tracking that I had to switch to a wired mouse which worked just fine.

But who wants that?

So I had my Crack Research Team™ (I've decided to become proprietary about it again, at least for the time being, what with TechnoDolt™ poised to go viral any decade now) drill down and see what they could find to make my wireless mouse work the way it's supposed to.

After only a week of searching they came up with this tool.

It arrived yesterday and I put it to the test, first mousing around without it and then with it.

Bottom line: works perfectly, does what it says, tracks precisely and effortlessly, and thus consigns my backup wired mouse to the utility drawer.

Details: it's a 7-inch x 8.5-inch piece of thin plastic with some sort of specialized texture akin to a diffraction grating engraved on the top.

The reverse side has a repositionable backing that keeps the surface in place and lifts off without damaging furniture or leaving any residue.

The package shows some guy removing it from the top of his laptop, which would be an easy way to take it with you.

Also works nicely with a wired mouse, by the way.

Bonus: On the front of the package it says "Extends battery life up to 75% for wireless mice*."

On the back in really tiny print it says, "*Our lab testing has shown that these surfaces draw less current and thus offer 75% more battery life. The lab tests were done using mice from the leading manufacturers in the marketplace (Microsoft and Logitech) in conjunction with batteries from the leading battery manufacturers in the U.S. (Energizer, Duracell and Rayovac). Our battery saving mousing surfaces feature the 3M micro-textured technology used to make 3M™ Precise™ Optical Mousing Surfaces."

You'll have to take 3M's word for the battery life extension but even if it's wishful thinking, the improved mouse function makes this an excellent addition to your batterie de computer.

Highly recommended.

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$6.88.


July 28, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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