Curious George

A fountain of material and immaterial information - Things that I spend my days wondering about... and perhaps you have been too? Check out for more curious questions (and answers to them)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

An exception

I usually write about topics I or other friends are curious about.
I am willing to make an exception today to plug this amazing video!

I urge you to see it in full quality and do not miss behind the scenes video.
I have done alot of stop motion film in my life and can honestly say that the making of this movie would be my dream! (as time consuming as it must have been)
Except for taking away the plank in the pool and some other minor changes, all the edits appears to be in photoshop and no CGI... nothing less than awesome!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

7 days in a week... unquestionable truth

The other day I got into a talk with some friends about why we have 7 days in the week. Seeing that none of us could come up with a good answer, I realized it was a case for curious George.

The seven day week as we know it was developed by the Babylonians over 3000 years ago. The Babylonians were avid astronomers. They based many of their mathematical systems (including their calculations of time) on the movement of the heavenly bodies. The first convenient division of time to be devised (after the day) was the month because it could be tracked by observing the cycles of the moon. It was at some point deemed convenient by Babylonian scholars to find a division of time greater than the day and shorter than the month. The big problem was that a cycle of the moon lasted about 29 and a half days. No round number of days divides evenly into 29 and a half - 4 was the best division they could find. So they went with the seven day week and worried about the loose change of extra days later.

Throughout the world various systems for the week had developed. The most popular competition for the seven day week was the 10 day week. Adoption of the seven day week by the Hebrews would ensure its longevity over other forms; during the early Christian Era it grew in popularity with the popularity of both Judaism and Christianity. The Christians converted the Romans and the Romans forcibly converted the remainder of the civilized world. In this way, the creation story, where God creates the universe in six days and then rests on the seventh, became a model for the activities of all mankind.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Words Words Words... and more words (and some greeks)

Scotoma refers to an individual's inability to perceive personality traits in themselves that are obvious to others

Eloquence is a great word - rolls off the tongue so smoothly. It mean fluent, forcible, elegant or persuasive speaking in public

Beware the Greeks:
While “beware of Greeks bearing gifts” is the usual English phrasing, the original quotation from Virgil is quite different: “Whatever it is, I fear Greeks even when they bring gifts.”
It is Spoken by Laocoon, “Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.”
The Aenid is the only written account we have of the fall or Ilium, or Troy as its also known. The Illiad only leads up to the burial-games of Hector.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Push the Envelope

Thanks to my Danish friend Thorsten for waking me up. I use it every now and then and and know it means to push borders in term of how far you can go; to innovate - but I never thought where the expression came from. So here´s what I found out.

It turns out one of my favorite authors came up with this. Much like saddle bags and big swinging dick, not to mention "the electric cool-aid acid test" - he created this one too.

Its from his book "the Right stuff" from 1979 about the space program.

"One of the phrases that kept running through the conversation was ‘pushing the outside of the envelope’... [That] seemed to be the great challenge and satisfaction of flight test."

Technically Wolfe didn't come up with the term, although it's appropriate that he used it in a technical and engineering context, as it was first used in the field of mathematics.

The envelope is in this expression the mathematical envelope, which is defined as 'the locus of the ultimate intersections of consecutive curves'. In a two-dimensional example, the set of lines described by the various positions of a ladder sliding down a wall forms an envelope - in this case an arc, gently curving away from the intersection of the wall and floor. Inside that envelope you will be hit by the ladder; outside you won't.

The point is that an envelope is that which envelops. The phrase has something in common with an earlier one - 'beyond the pale'. Inside the pale you were safe; outside, at risk.

In aviation and aeronautics the term 'flight envelope' had been in use since WWII, as here from the Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, 1944:

"The best known of the envelope cases is the 'flight envelope', which is in general use in this country and in the United States... The ‘flight envelope’ covers all probable conditions of symmetrical maneuvering flight."

That envelope is the description of the upper and lower limits of the various factors that it is safe to fly at, i.e. speed, engine power, manoeuvrability, wind speed, altitude etc. By 'pushing the envelope', i.e. testing those limits, test pilots were able to determine just how far it was safe to go. By 1978 the phrase was in use in print. In July that year, Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine had:

"The aircraft's altitude envelope must be expanded to permit a ferry flight across the nation. NASA pilots were to push the envelope to 10,000 ft."

The following year, Wolfe picked up the phrase and it went from a piece of specialist technical jargon into the general language.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Elevators - all you ever wanted to know

This is a rather lengthy posting by Curious George this time, but its a whopper!

It will tell you a whole lot of interesting stuff about the elevator business.

- How high can an an elevator go?
- How many people die annually from elevator deaths and how to they die? (not from the car falling down)
- Does the door-close button actually work in an elevator? (if its a post-90s built elevator, it probably doesn't)
- How many people can comfortably fit in an elevator in Europe/US vs Asia? (No big surprises there)
- Can you really escape through the roof-hatch when a bomb is about to go off, and there is no Keanu Reaves around?
- Can you survive a freefall by jumping up at the very last second?

If you have asked these questions (and obviously you have), then keep reading.

Traction elevators are the ones hanging from ropes (as opposed to dumbwaiters, or mining elevators, or those lifted by hydraulic pumps) are typically borne aloft by six or eight hoist cables, each of which, according to the national elevator-safety code (That´s the US codes obviously- and the code determines all), is capable on its own of supporting the full load of the elevator plus twenty-five per cent more weight. Another line, the governor cable, is connected to a device that detects if the elevator car is descending at a rate twenty-five per cent faster than its maximum designed speed. If that happens, the device trips the safeties, bronze shoes that run along vertical rails in the shaft. These brakes are designed to stop the car quickly, but not so abruptly as to cause injury. They work. This is why free falling is so rare.

People dying in elevators:

An average of twenty-six people die in (or on) elevators in the United States every year, but most of these are people being paid to work on them. That may still seem like a lot, until you consider that that many die in automobiles every five hours. In New York City, home to fifty-eight thousand elevators, there are eleven billion elevator trips a year thirty million every day and yet hardly more than two dozen passengers get banged up enough to seek medical attention.

An estimated two hundred people were killed in elevators at the World Trade Center on September 11 - some probably in free-fall plunges, but many by fire, smoke, or entrapment and subsequent structural collapse. (the counterweight, which aids an elevators rise and slows its descent, is typically forty per cent heavier than an empty car)

How high can an elevator go?

A single elevator can climb no higher than seventeen hundred feet. A hoist rope any longer is too heavy to be practical; at thirty-two hundred feet, it will snap, like a stream of spit in a stairwell. A decade ago, Otis developed a prototype of a conveyance called Odyssey, which could slide out of its shaft and travel on a horizontal track to another shaft, with the help of a linear induction motor. It was scuttled by the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101 Tower, which has the fastest elevators in the world rising at more than fifty-five feet per second, or about thirty-five miles an hour. The cars are pressurized, to prevent ear damage.

The basics of getting people from Ground level to 48th floor
In elevatoring, as in life, the essential variables are time and space.
There are two basic elevatoring metrics. One is handling capacity: your aim is to carry a certain percentage of the buildings population in five minutes. Thirteen per cent is a good target. The other is the interval, or frequency of service: the average round-trip time of one elevator, divided by the number of elevators. In an American office building, you want the interval to be below thirty seconds, and the average waiting time to be about sixty per cent of that. Any longer, and people get upset. In a residential building or a hotel, the tolerance goes up, but only by ten or twenty seconds. In the nineteen-sixties, many builders cheated a little accepting, say, a thirty-four-second interval, and 11.5 per cent handling capacity and came to regret it. Generally, England is over-elevatored; India is under-elevatored.

A probable stop table applies probability to the vexation that boils up when each passenger presses a button for a different floor. If there are ten people in an elevator that serves ten floors, it will likely make 6.5 stops. Ten people, thirty floors: 9.5 stops. (The table does not account for the exasperating phantom stop, when no one gets on or off.) Other factors are door open and close time, loading and unloading time, acceleration rate, and deceleration rate, which must be swift but gentle. You hear that interfloor traffic kills something to mutter, perhaps, when a co-worker boards the elevator to travel one flight, especially if that co-worker is planning, at days end, to spend half an hour on a StairMaster. Its also disastrous to have a cafeteria on anything but the ground floor, or one floor above or below it, accessible via escalator.

Engineering feats and developments
In 1973, the designers of the World Trade Center introduced the idea of sky lobbies. A sky lobby is like a transfer station: an express takes you there, and then you switch to a local.

The other was the destination dispatch system that the Marriott introduced, a few years ago, becoming the first hotel in North America to do so. You enter your floor number at a central control panel in the lobby and are told which elevator to take. The wait in the lobby may be longer, but the trip is shorter. Also have lights lighting up a bit of time ahead of the elevator actually arriving is used to play with the psychological waiting time. Its like a nod of acknowledgment from a busy bartender.

There is no control panel in the destination dispatch car; the elevator knows where you are going. People tend to find it unnerving to ride in an elevator with no buttons. In most elevators, at least in any built or installed since the early nineties, the door-close button doesn’t work. It is there mainly to make you think it works. (It does work if, say, a fireman needs to take control. But you need a key, and a fire, to do that.) Once you know this, it can be illuminating to watch people compulsively press the door-close button. That the door eventually closes reinforces their belief in the buttons power. Its a little like prayer. Elevator design is rooted in deception to disguise not only the bare fact of the box hanging by ropes but also the tethering of tenants to a system over which they have no command.

Where to stand in an elevator (and how tight can you stack them)

Passengers seem to know instinctively how to arrange themselves in an elevator. Two strangers will gravitate to the back corners, a third will stand by the door, at an isosceles remove, until a fourth comes in, at which point passengers three and four will spread toward the front corners, making room, in the center, for a fifth, and so on, like the dots on a die. With each additional passenger, the bodies shift, slotting into the open spaces. The goal, of course, is to maintain (but not too conspicuously) maximum distance and to counteract unwanted intimacies a code familiar (to half the population) from the urinal bank and (to them and all the rest) from the subway. One should face front. Look up, down, or, if you must, straight ahead. Mirrors compound the unease. Generally, no one should speak a word to anyone else in an elevator. Most people make allowances for the continuation of generic small talk already under way, or, in residential buildings, for neighborly amenities. The orthodox enforcers of silence the elevator Quakers must suffer the moderates or the serial abusers, as they cram in exchanges about the night, the game, the weekend, or the meal.

The concept of the body ellipse is a birds-eye graphic representation of an individuals personal space. Its essentially a shoulder-width oval with a head in the middle. He employed a standard set of near-maximum human dimensions: twenty-four inches wide (at the shoulders) and eighteen inches deep. If you draw a tight oval around this figure, with a little bit of slack to account for body sway, clothing, and squeamishness, you get an area of 2.3 square feet, the body space that was used to determine the capacity of New York City subway cars and U.S. Army vehicles. Fruin defines an area of three square feet or less as the touch zone; seven square feet as the no-touch zone; and ten square feet as the personal-comfort zone. Edward Hall, who pioneered the study of proxemics, called the smallest range less than eighteen inches between people intimate distance, the point at which you can sense another persons odor and temperature - involuntary confrontation and contact at this distance is psychologically disturbing for many persons.

The standard elevator measure is about two square feet per passenger intimate, disturbing. Elevators represent a special circumstance in which pedestrians are willing to submit to closer spacing than they would normally accept, Fruin wrote, without much parsing the question of willingness. The book contains a pair of overhead photographs, part of an experiment conducted by Otis, of elevators loaded to capacity (by design, cabs are nearly impossible to overweight, unless the passengers are extremely tall). In one, a car is full of women, each of whom has 1.5 square feet of space. In the other, there are men as well as women, and each passenger gets 1.8 square feet per person: men are larger, and women, in their presence, try to claim more space, often by crossing their arms.

There´s a higher tolerance in Asia than in the United States for tight rides and long waits. In China, you´ll get twenty-five people in a four-thousand-pound car. Thats unheard of in the US. Otis does about eighty per cent of its business outside the United States, especially in the high-rise boomtowns of the Gulf states and in China. (Prestige aside, the super-tall tower jobs are basically loss leaders for the elevator companies: Very few high-rise jobs are money makers. You give´em away for the maintenance contract.)

Weird Elevator facts:
The escape hatch is always locked. By law, its bolted shut, from the outside. It´s there so that emergency personnel can get in, not so passengers can get out.

Loading up an empty elevator car with discarded Christmas trees, pressing the button for the top floor, then throwing in a match, so that by the time the car reaches the top it is ablaze with heat so intense that the alloy (called babbitt) connecting the cables to the car melts, and the car, a fireball now, plunges into the pit: this practice, apparently popular in New York City housing projects, is inadvisable.

The timed jump:

To the age-old half-serious question of whether a passenger thundering earthward in a runaway elevator should jump in the air just before impact: you cant jump up fast enough to counteract the rate of descent. And how are you supposed to know when to jump? As for an alternative strategy lie flat on the floor he shrugged: Deads dead.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Close but no Cigar

For some reason I have taken the expression above to heart and it seems to pop out of my mouth from time to time.
A good friend of mine the other day called me on it, and was wondering how the expression had originated. I had to admit a gaping hole in my knowledge, and obviously have to share my findings with all y'all.

The expression originates from the US, more specifically the fair-ground stalls; where they gave out cigars as prices for a win. Some claim its the sledge-hammer one specifically (Where you "bang the bell" if you are strong enough), but perhaps it was also from other challenges.

The phrase first appeared on paper in the film-script 1935 filmed version of Annie Oakley
"Close, Colonel, but no cigar!"

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Invinvible cats

For those of us who like cats, we are of course mostly fascinated by their ability to scratch and kill at their will.
Yet their most impressive skill they keep secret from us (until we fling them out of an aeroplane)

Cats always land on their feet, and they survive pretty much no matter how far they fall (assuming they don´t die from asphyxiation - or in other words: Suffocate)

Discovery channel has a special on this, and it turns out that cats can fall as far as they want and still survive the fall (assuming they dont land on a rubble of cut glass, a pointy sword, a church spire or the likes...).
Once they get their bearings they use their body as a parachute. There have been registered incidents of cats falling 20 stories or more without coming to harm.

No way right?! Way!!

A 1987 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association study, examined 132 cases of cats that had fallen out of high-rise buildings. Average fall was 5.5 stories, and 90% survived (though in truth many did suffer serious injuries).
But here comes the real rub. Turns out the broken bones and damages ratio went up and up once you got the 7th floor. After that, the injury rate actually declined sharply!!
So the higher the fall, the better the chances of walking away clean.

When you combine this with retractable claws.... come one! Who cant think cats are cool?!

My disclosure is as follows; I think cats are cool, so I might give them a bit more credit than they deserve. This study for example does not really go into detail about the potential of alot more cats dying and having gone straight into the dumpster. It doesnt quite discount the fact of higher survival rate above 7th floor, but it does leave the study open to discussion.

The confusing moon - ebb and tides

So we all know there is a high tide twice a day - and that it has something to do with the moon. I sometime pretend that this makes perfect sense even though the moon just rotates around the world ones a day. And am quite happy nobody has called me on explaining why this makes so much sense... because it really doesnt...

There will also come a follow-up blogg-article on the concept of not only the water moving, but also the earths crust moving around and being attracted by the moon. But firstly lets figure out the water movement.

The pull of gravity is reduced dramatically with distance. So lunar gravity pulls on the side of the earth thats facing it, aswell as pulling somewhat on the other side of the earth too (But very much less so). So the high-tide that occurs when the moon is closest to that side of the earth is one of the high-tides, where the high tide on the "other side" is a result of the moon´s tug on the earth, "leaving the ocean behind".

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What's in an hour....

For would it not by any other name be as long?
Turns out that an hour has not always been an hour...
The division of day into 24 hours dates back to Mesopotamia and Egypt. With basis in the moons 12 cycles in a year, the day and night was each given 12 hours. The only problem is of course that an hour was dramatically different in Mesopotania than in England or Norway. An hour was also very different in summer and in winter.
Today, we have defined an hour as 60minutes times 60 seconds, where 1 second is 9 192 631 770 oscillations of the Cesium atom 133Cs.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Economic or Economical?

So I was reading this research report that was claiming that a shipyard would run out of business for economical reasons... I felt it was wrong, but couldn't be certain about there grammatical rules, so here goes:

Economic means "having to do with the economy or the study of economics."
Economical means "careful or prudent in managing finances, money- saving."
Economically is the adverb form of both words.

Put differently: The adjective economic means “dealing with finances, money matters, or wealth” and “having to do with meeting material needs”: We spent money only on economic necessities that year. Economical means “saving, thrifty, not wasteful”: This new car has a much smaller, more economical engine

Monday, March 24, 2008

All the air and water on earth - Illustrated

Been a long time since I´ve posted anything, so here comes two posts in the same day to compensate
Found a fascinating computer modeling of all the water on our earth and air in our atmosphere illustrated as spheres on top of the earth.

The water on earth is the sphere to the left, and the air is the one to the right. This includes all the water in the oceans, seas, ice caps, lakes and rivers as well as ground water, and that in the atmosphere.
You can either be shocked at how little water and air there is, or just how big the earth is. The air sphere has a diameter of 1 999km, while the water is only 1 390 across
And for those of you who want to see a little bit of rogue theory on how the earth is actually expanding, tune in here:
Very cool graphics on the tactonic plate movements

And finally: The sphere of our human mass (with some assumptions)

6.7 billion humans in the world

Average mass of a human is approx 65kg (Wikipedia says that the mean for the UK and USA is around 75kg; I assume most of the world is lighter than them)

The mean density of a person is 1g/cm3
So humans mass a total of 6.7 billion people x 65kg/person = 4.355x10^11 kg.
At 1g/cm3 this mass takes up 4.355x10^11 litres = 4.355x10^8 cubic meters.
Now we plug this value into the formula linking the volume of a sphere with its radius:
Volume = 4/3 * radius^3
Radius^3 = Volume / ( (4/3) *pi)

Radius^3 = 4.355x10^8 / (1.3333333 x pi)

Radius^3 = 1.0397x10^8

Radius = 470.21 meters
Diameter = 940.43 meters
The sphere of all living human bodies would therefore be a puny 1.8KM across – wouldn’t even be seen on the map I found.


Ears popping in train tunnels

A friend of mine recently went to Japan and the took the bullet train. Going several hundred km/hr he experienced a fairly considerable popping in the ears (or propper i ørene as we like to say in Norway).
Now why does this happen?
Curious George took the dive and the easiest way to think of it is imagining that the tunnel is filled with water. When the train enters the tunnel, the water has no-where to go, and is pressed in front of the train, while some escapes "backwards" - this creates a suction in the train, just like what happens when you open your windows going 90 mph - your ear pops and maps and papers go straight out the window.
So when a train hits a tunnel, the accelerated air-flow around the train creates a vacum causing your airs to pop. Just like it would when you are on an ascending airplane.
An air-tight train would solve it, but this is costly and dificult to make. You can also design the tunnel to reduce this effect - ex through air-vents (though if the airvents are too big and too far apart it would feel like you go in and out of a tunnel all the time) or just a bigger tunnel, so that there is less pressure-buildup infront of the train.
The english channel tunnel is an excellent solution to this. Being 30 miles and under water, the "Chunnel" is actually two seperate tunnels connected by cross passages. This greatly improves the air pressure problem.
George says Hona sainara and good luck on ear train popping

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Sovereign wealth funds are being increasingly debated. The rising price of oil and huge trade surpluses in Asia–Pacific countries has made them increasingly powerful. Therefore Curious George thought to supply an overview of the top 5.
The largest ones are:

Funds under ManagementAbu Dhabi Investment Authority US$875bn
Singapore Government Investment Funds US$438bn
Norwegian Government Pension Fund US$330bn
Saudi Arabian Funds US$300bn
Kuwait Investment Authority US$250bn

Friday, September 07, 2007

After my recent near death elevator trip from hell (oK. I admit this is a slight exaggeration.... Read all about it in my "one year in Singapore" blog), fully realizing that man often over-estimates the probability of large disasters occuring, I became very curious about how many people ACTUALLY die from elevator deaths each year.
In the US it turns out to be around 30 people, where half actually works as elevator service/repairmen.The few unfortunate who die most often fall down the chute or get squeezed in some way.Only once in the USA (until 9/11) has an elevator plumeted from having its wire cut. This happened when a military plane crashed into empire state building several decades ago....Guess I can continue stepping into the broken elevator with some comfort that I have the odds on my side of actually surviving the ride.
Worth mentioning that it did happen again just 2 days ago. The elevator started falling fast until a calm nice voice informed us there were "technical dificulties"Read more of what I found out below:
New York's lifts make around 30 million journeys every day. And duringthose billions of trips, last year there were just 139 "serious"accidents
Really, lifts in New York are among the safest places to be. There areabout 63,000 pieces of elevating equipment in the world's tallest city- that's lifts, escalators, dumb-waiters and amusement rides - morethan in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas combined.Altogether, New York's lifts make around 30 million journeys everyday. And during those billions of trips, last year there were just 139"serious" accidents, which either required a passenger to see a doctoror caused more than $100 of damage to the lift and its passengers'property. So far this year, with just weeks to go, the running totalis 132.,,18391-1390913,00.html
Elevators are the safest form of mechanized travel when measured by trips taken: Only about a dozen passengers die in 200 billion trips made annually in 600,000 elevators in the USA. Most deaths are caused by falling down shafts.
Despite common fears, only once before had a passenger elevator had all its cables severed and fallen to the ground, according to Elevator World. That happened in 1945 when an elevator fell 78 stories after a military plane hit the Empire State Building. The woman inside lived.
[RAF: This is important to know if you are inside an elevator of a collapsing building]
The elevators at the World Trade Center trapped people three ways:
Door restrictors dropped a steel rod, like a deadbolt, into the mechanism that opened the elevator's doors. The lock was activated when a properly working elevator left a landing. If the elevator stopped suddenly or lost power, the restrictor made it impossible to open the inside door more than 4 inches. The lock could be released — and the doors opened fully — only from the elevator car's roof.
On all elevators, both those with and those without door restrictors, pressure from the motors kept doors closed until elevator cars were near a landing. Several strong men could overpower these motors. A loss of electrical power also could free the doors.
All of the outside or hallway doors had locks called "interlocks" that prevented opening the doors. This made it difficult for bystanders to help people stuck in elevators. But it was possible for people in an elevator to release this lock, if they had been able to open the inside car door first. The release mechanism for the interlocks was on the shaft side of the door.
Door restrictors proved the most deadly of the three locking devices. In elevators without door restrictors, a few people managed to overcome the other two locks. In two cases, people escaped from elevators whose doors were shut by doorway motors. In another case, passengers overcame the interlock on the hallway doors indirectly by using wire cutters to cut a cable that held the doors shut. into detail about the elevator deaths of 9-11)
Here's a freaky elevator double death
Caught scarf led to womens’ lift deaths
A disabled Greek woman died of a heart attack after her Ukranianhelper choked to death when her scarf got caught in the elevator of anapartment block in central Athens on Sunday night, police saidyesterday.
The women, both aged 46, were leaving a party taking place in aKolonaki apartment when the lift in which they were riding becamestuck between the second and third floors. Residents called the firebrigade immediately but both women were found dead when firemen wereable to gain access to the elevator.
And here are some further research links for those of you interrested:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Myth Vs. Legend

In short, myth gives a religious explanation for something.

A legend, on the other hand, is a story which is told as if it were a historical event, rather than as an explanation for something or a symbolic narrative.

Thus, examples of legends are the stories about Robin Hood, which are set in a definite period, the reign of Richard I of England (1189-99), or about King Arthur, which were perhaps originally based on the exploits of a Romano-Celtic prince who attempted to resist the expansion of the Anglo-Saxons in what was to become England.

While myths and legends may be transmitted orally or in writing, folk tales tend to be transmitted orally, and although they are transmitted from generation to generation and so their origin or author is unknown, they are more definitely felt to be stories, i.e., fiction. Many European folktales were written down in the 19th century, and some at least were transformed into fairy tales, which tend to be more consciously literary productions with a definite author, such as Hans Christian Andersen


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I have often heard and cited statistics about how many Americans actually have passports.

I wont bother to throw in my two cents on whether they need it or not what with the vastness of the United States and all, but NY Times now published some statistics that are up to date so I thought I would share it

73% of Americans DO NOT have passports
Doesnt say if the remaining 27% who do have it actually us them to travel, but I would think so.
The article ran January this year (2007) so I gather the stats are up to date.

Link to Article

Friday, June 29, 2007

Most expensive cities in the world - most recent ranking

Norwegians always love rankings that show that we have the highest quality of life, and when they are released (yearly or so) the newspapers always love to make big stories about it as they guarantee sales.
Here is a recent list by Mercer of the most expensive cities in the world.
In a few weeks I will be moving from the 10th most expesive city in the world to the 14th... every penny helps I guess
Secondly is a list of the quailty of life in the various cities (also by Mercer)

Most expensive Cities
1. Moscow

2. London

3. Seoul

4. Tokyo

5. Hong Kong

6. Copenhagen7. Geneva8. Osaka9. Zurich10. Oslo11. Milan12. St Petersburg13. Paris14. Singapore
15. New York

Quality of Living in the cities
1. Zurich

2. Geneva

3. Vancouver

4. Vienna

5. Auckland

6. Dusseldorf7. Frankfurt8. Munich9. Bern9. Sydney11. Copenhagen12. Wellington13. Amsterdam14. Brussels15. Toronto

Thursday, June 07, 2007

How businesses stay profitable in NYC

New York Business Margins

Very interresting NY Magazine article made an in-debth analysis of various businesses in NYC - what makes them tick -
I have presented below some of what I thought was the most interesting

* H&M - retailMost profitable (margins): Jewelry (50-70%), Hats and Scarves (50-70%)Formal clothing (50%)

LEast profitable: Bathing suits (2-3$) and intimate apparel (10-30%) - lots of H&M marketing signature is bathing suits - with cheap prices on this, people will spend longer at the store, and spend more.(roughly 20% profit margin in store)

* Yellow CabsMost profitable: Low traffic city trips (make 2.5$ on the meter just for a person to get in - thereafter: 40c per 4 block or 1min standing) - also midday airport runs. 3pm - flights come in as well and no limits for traffic. Good round-trip fare

Least Profitable: Borough trips in traffic. Empty returns in traffic from the suburbs can be a killer.

Rental of cab: $120 per 12 hours - pocketing all rev after gas costs

* DinerDiners etc are most profitable.Specific items with high profitability are Eggs, Hamburgers, home-made cake and liquor

Least profitable items are such as Steak Dinner, Lox, Fish Dinner and Veal dinner

So low-market food/diners would seem to have the higher profitability

That said, for an upscale restaurant, one of the most important factor for whether you live or die is what type of lease you have locked in.

* Copy Shop

All the small copyshops in NYC can be put up with a minimum of seedmoney. The equipment is leased and rent needs to be paid. That's it.Walk-in customers are only a minuscule percent of the business - nearly all of it comes from local offices.Assumed overhead costs: 1c per B&W copy, 10c per Color copy

Most profitable are restaurant flyers - local restaurants will order 1000 new flyers every 3rd day!Price of printer cartridges makes this profitable still for the clients.

* Piza Place50% of revenue is food in restaurant, 30% is food delivered, and 20% is alcohol served.Majority of income comes from the fancy pizzas (huge markup on the sauces etc)Wine has a 200 to 250% margin

(roughly 10% overall profit margin)

*Yoga PlaceMost profitable yoga studios will need to fill four to five classes daily, and most hope to be profitable within 2 years.Best ways to make money are through private classes, but "packs of classes" also sell well where you count on people not showing up and part of the classes expiring. "People have big eyes"Few studios in Manhattan survive past 3 years, and fewer turn more than a 10% profit.Consider the non-financial aspects: People are willing to work for less to be a yoga guru (compare to a drug dealer who needs an additional pay to cover for the inconvenience for possible jail and death by shooting)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Do bakterier på tannbørsten

Og når vi først er inne på bakterier så er en annen urban myte at det finnes massevise av do-bakterier på tannbørsten din

Og denne urbane myten er desverre sann....

Heldigvis er det såpass lite at du burde heller være redd for å ta på servanten eller kjøkken-kosten. Det sagt, så er det vel ikke så ofte at du stikker vann-kranen eller kjøkken-kosten i munnen.... Noen fakta er kanskje like greit å ikke vite om....

As Professor Gerba's research would later determine, however, the bathroom was hardly the most dangerous part of the house, microbe-wise. The real pesthole: the kitchen sponge or dishcloth, where fecal coliform bacteria from raw meat and such could fester in a damp, nurturing (for a germ) environment. Next came the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, and the kitchen faucet handle. The toilet seat was the least contaminated of 15 household locales studied. "If an alien came from space and studied the bacterial counts," the professor says, "he probably would conclude he should wash his hands in your toilet and crap in your sink."

**** Den Fulle Historien:
Ive heard that when you flush the toilet with the lid open, a plume of contaminated water droplets is ejected into the air and lands on everything in the bathroom, including (yuck) your toothbrush. Women I mention this to nod knowingly, but among men it is met with scorn, the common view being that this is another female scare story intended to "get us to put the top down." Knowing your ability to rise above petty considerations of gender, I turn to you

You remembered right about toilet plume, although I think toilet "aerosol" is probably the more accurate term. No doubt you saw something about Charles Gerba, a professor at the University of Arizona who specializes in environmental microbiology. For those of you with a romanticized picture of the academic life, I should tell you this means he spends a lot of time crawling around public toilets and has had the cops called on him twice.

In 1975 Professor Gerba published a scientific article describing the little-known phenomenon of bacterial and viral aerosols due to toilet flushing. The more you learn about it, the scarier it sounds. According to Gerba, close-up photos of the germy ejecta look like "Baghdad at night during a U.S. air attack." The article ominously depicts a "floor plan of experimental bathroom with location of gauze pads for viral fallout experiments." A lot of virus fell on those gauze pads, Gerba found, and a lot of bacteria too. In fact, significant quantities of microbes floated around the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush. As Professor Gerba's research would later determine, however, the bathroom was hardly the most dangerous part of the house, microbe-wise. The real pesthole: the kitchen sponge or dishcloth, where fecal coliform bacteria from raw meat and such could fester in a damp, nurturing (for a germ) environment. Next came the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, and the kitchen faucet handle. The toilet seat was the least contaminated of 15 household locales studied. "If an alien came from space and studied the bacterial counts," the professor says, "he probably would conclude he should wash his hands in your toilet and crap in your sink."

You think a guy's apartment is bound to be germier than a woman's? Uh-uh. Single men tended to have lower bacteria counts, since they never cleaned and thus didn't spread the crud around. (Remember this, lads, it may be useful ammunition someday.) Women's public restrooms contained twice as much fecal bacteria as men's, probably because the women were accompanied by sanitary napkins, grimy small children, and babies in need of a change. Another thing. You think maybe the laundry room is germ free? Feh. The place is a sty due to fecal matter on underwear. Despite what some believe, however, doorknobs and handles in public restrooms are relatively clean. Perhaps you think this talk of contamination is just paranoid squeamishness. You wish. Fifty to eighty percent of all food-borne illnesses originate in the home. Food-borne pathogens cause 6.5 million cases of gastroenteritis and 9,000 deaths per year. Home contamination is blamed for 20 percent of food-poisoning cases, more than any other source. What to do? Most guys will happily go on wallowing in filth, but Professor Gerba offers these tips for everybody else: Wipe down sinks and drains each day with a cleanser containing chlorine bleach. This will knock out 99.9 percent of fecal organisms. Countertops, appliances, and faucet handles should get the treatment two or three times a week, and toilets, tubs, and showers once a week. Use separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables, lest you transfer germs from one to the other. Throw cutting boards, kitchen sponges, and dishcloths in the dishwasher (or, in the case of the latter items, the washing machine) after use. Alternatively, soak them for five minutes in a sink full of water containing a cup of bleach. When doing laundry, make underwear the last load. Don't sort by colors (or at least don't put colored underwear with other colored items). Use chlorine bleach, which will clean both the clothes and your washing machine.

Luft Hånd-tørkere (og bakterie-problemet)

En velkjent urban myte er at du blir mer skitten på hendene ved å bruke luft-tørkere på do.
En lengre forskrings-rapport er gjort på emnet, og sammendraget er vedlagt under.
Det er 40-75% mindre bakterier i luften som blåses UT av varm-luft blåseren i forhold til den generelle luften som er inne på et hvert offentlig toalett.
Så dersom du tror du er lur ved å la være å bruke luft-tørkeren så tar du veldig veldig veldig feil (nevnte jeg at du tar feil???!!)

A finger rinse technique for counting micro-organisms on hands showed no significant difference in the level of recovered micro-organisms following hand drying using either warm air or paper towels. Contact plate results appeared to reflect the degree of dampness of hands after drying rather than the actual numbers of micro-organisms on the hands. In laboratory tests, a reduction in airborne count of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus of between 40 and 75% was achieved from 600 readings comparing inlets and outlets of warm air hand driers. In washroom trials, the number of airborne micro-organisms was reduced by between 30 and 75%. Air emitted from the outlet of the driers contained significantly fewer micro-organisms than air entering the driers. Drying of hands with hand driers was no more likely to generate airborne micro-organisms than drying with paper towels. Levels of micro-organisms on external surfaces of hand driers were not significantly different to those on other washroom surfaces. This work shows that warm air hand driers, of the type used in this study, are a hygienic method of drying hands and therefore appropriate for use in both the healthcare and food industry

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Grown-up conversations as imagined by kids

This is absolutely hilarious - not a curious fact really, but fun non-the-less.
Its from the New Yorker by simon rich

I. A Conversation at the Grownup Table, as Imagined at the Kids’ Table

MOM: Pass the wine, please. I want to become crazy.
GRANDMOTHER: Did you see the politics? It made me angry.
DAD: Me, too. When it was over, I had sex.
UNCLE: I’m having sex right now.
DAD: We all are.
MOM: Let’s talk about which kid I like the best.
DAD: (laughing) You know, but you won’t tell.
MOM: If they ask me again, I might tell.
FRIEND FROM WORK: Hey, guess what! My voice is pretty loud!
DAD: (laughing) There are actual monsters in the world, but when my kids ask I pretend like there aren’t.
MOM: I’m angry! I’m angry all of a sudden!
DAD: I’m angry, too! We’re angry at each other!
MOM: Now everything is fine.
DAD: We just saw the PG-13 movie. It was so good.
MOM: There was a big sex.
FRIEND FROM WORK: I am the loudest! I am the loudest!
(Everybody laughs.)
MOM: I had a lot of wine, and now I’m crazy!
GRANDFATHER: Hey, do you guys know what God looks like?
ALL: Yes.
GRANDFATHER: Don’t tell the kids.

II. A Day at UNICEF Headquarters, as I Imagined It in Third Grade

(UNICEF sits on a throne. He is wearing a cape and holding a sceptre. A servant enters, on his knees.)
UNICEF: Halloween is fast approaching! Have the third graders been given their little orange boxes?
SERVANT: Yes, your majesty!
UNICEF: Perfect. Did you tell them what the money was for?
SERVANT: No, sir, of course not! We just gave them the boxes and told them to collect for UNICEF. We said it was for “a good cause,” but we didn’t get any more specific than that.
UNICEF: Ha ha ha! Those fools! Soon I will have all the money in the world. For I am UNICEF, evil king of Halloween!
SERVANT: Sir . . . don’t you think you’ve stolen enough from the children? Maybe you should let them keep the money this year.
UNICEF: Never! The children shall toil forever to serve my greed!
(He tears open a little orange box full of coins and rubs them all over his fat stomach.)
UNICEF: Yes! Oh, yes!
SERVANT: Wait! Your majesty! Look at this! Our records indicate that there’s a kid out there—Simon—who’s planning to keep his UNICEF money this year.
UNICEF: What?! But what about my evil plans? I was going to give that money to the Russians so they could build a bomb!
SERVANT: (aside) I guess there’s still one hero left in this world.
(He runs out of the castle, sobbing.)
SERVANT: Thank God Simon is keeping his UNICEF money.
SECOND SERVANT: Yes, it’s good that he’s keeping the money.
THIRD SERVANT: I agree. Simon is doing a good thing by keeping the money from the UNICEF box.
SERVANT: Then we’re all in agreement. Simon should keep the money.

III. How College Kids Imagine the United States Government

—Did you hear the news, Mr. President? The students at the University of Pittsfield are walking out of their classes, in protest over the war.
—(spits out coffee) Wha— What did you say?
—Apparently, students are standing up in the middle of lectures and walking right out of the building.
—But students love lectures. If they’re willing to give those up, they must really be serious about this peace thing! How did you hear about this protest?
—The White House hears about every protest, no matter how small.
—Oh, right, I remember.
—You haven’t heard the half of it, Mr. President. The leader of the group says that if you don’t stop the war today they’re going to . . . to . . . I’m sorry, I can’t say it out loud. It’s just too terrifying.
—Say it, damn it! I’m the President!
—All right! If you don’t stop the war . . . they’re going to stop going to school for the remainder of the week.
—Send the troops home.
—But, Mr. President! Shouldn’t we talk about this?
—Send the troops home.

—Mr. President! Did you hear about Woodstock?
—Woo— Woodstock? What in God’s name is that?
—Apparently, young people hate the war so much they’re willing to participate in a musical sex festival as a protest against it.
—Oh, my God. They must really be serious about this whole thing.
—That’s not all. Some of them are threatening to join communes: places where they make their own clothing . . . and beat on drums.
—Stop the war.
—But, Mr. President!
—Stop all American wars!
—(sighs) Very well, sir. I’ll go tell the generals.
—Wow. It’s a good thing those kids decided to go hear music.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

US Just passed population of 300m (The stats behind)

This is a great piece of information from a recent NYT article:

"The US Census Bureau has been recording the steady march to the 300 million mark with an online polulation clock that adds one person every 11 Seconds. The bureau calculates that one person is born every seven seconds, one dies every 13 seconds, and one immigrates every 31 seconds."

I just love that kind of stats!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

To sweat like a pig

Since pigs dont have sweatglands, I have often wondered why we use the expression "to sweat like a pig" or in Norwegian; "Å svette som en gris".
I have not been able to get any closer to the origin of this expression, but at least I have been able to confirm my suspicion that this has somehow been started by one of the other farm animals (possibly the "cute" sheep?) to somehow heighten their own worth by lowering that of the pig?
The excerpt below is in Norwegian and can be found in the link below, but the main gist is as follows:
Because the pigs cant sweat they roll around in mud to cool down. The process of vaporizing the water in the mud requires energy and thus reduces the temperature for the pig. It's basically the same as we do, but we dont need mud in order to do it.
So why mud you might ask yourself - well mud cools/vaporizes more slowly than water; thus prolonging the cooling process for the pig.
So we might in fact say "clever as a pig" from now on.

The next qustion is whether the pig mafia of the east has anything to do with the spreading of the expression "dumb as a sheep". All the pigs in question refused to comment.

Når vi mennesker blir litt varme i trøya begynner vi å svette, men å si at man svetter som en gris er ikke bare en fornærmelse for svinet, men i tillegg en blank løgn. Griser svetter nemlig ikke i det hele tatt, og det betyr at de ikke har noen innebygd måte å kvitte seg med varme på. Men svin er ikke tapt bak noen vogn må du tro! I stedet for å gjøre huden våt med svette, ruller de seg på fuktig mark og blir våte likevel. Idet fuktigheten fordamper stjeler vannpartiklene energi fra huden, og grisen blir kvitt den overflødige varmen.

Det er heller ikke noen tilfeldighet at svina velger å velte seg i gjørme. Vannet i mudderet fordamper nemlig saktere enn rent vann, og dermed får grisen en passelig langtidskjøling i stedet for superkjapp pangkjøling

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Expression of the day - Nothing Doing

Read it in a cartoon today; never heard it before in my life.
Evidently "Nothing Doing" is an expression of refusal meaning no hope of sucess.

Here's another expression I have always been wondering about.
"the situation was all but tense" - when does it mean that the situation really is tense, and when does it mean that the situation is everything BUT tense?

I am sure I have some better example written up somewhere on a chewing gum paper or something, because it has been riding me for years, but I cant come up with a better example right now - will edit back when I find the appropriate post-it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Noteworthy information learned from Physics

* The breadmystery: To everyone's woe (at least everyone who likes bread as much as I do-people who lived with me and my breadmachine and a loaf per day can testify that) open faced sandwiches (Us Norwegians like those best) like to fall with the spread face down. And its not just bad luck - its simply physics. With the average height of a bench, a sandwich manages to roll exactly half a round before it hits the ground - so the next time your liver-paste sandwich (or fish-roe? Mmmmmm) lands face down, don't swear yourself for bad luck. Its happens to all of us.

* When you burn the inside of your mouth on a slice of pizza - have you ever noticed that the tomatoe spread burns much worse than the meat filling? This is due to the content of water in tomato-paste, and water has a great capacity to receive and give heat.

* During fall, it is often 32F/0C around small lakes in the forest. This is because the lake will give off heat to the forest - not until it is frozen will it equal out. Thus you will often find if it is a few degrees below freezing in the forest, it will be a little bit warmer around a lake (though more humid, so percieved temperature might be colder - this last inset is just a theory of my own, so take it for what it's worth)

* Toilet and bathtub running counter-clockwise south of the equator.... though this is true on a pure statistical basis, there are many other factors that are much more important than the earth's rotation. Minute movements in the water can remain long after you got out of the bathtub or finished your business on the loo - those have a much stronger effect than the earths rotation.

* Except for Hydrogen and Helium, all the elements in and around us originally come from nuclear reactions through explosions of stars - flung across the universe and now part of us.
Now where does Hydrogen and Helium come from then? I really dont know, so if you do-please let me know.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year Traditions - Liquer and fireworks

As I spent new-years in Scotland this year, I was curious to hear of their "First footing" tradition.
You visit friends and neighbours and bring a bottle of whiskey, a piece of Coal (For the Fire - not because you are bad like in the States) and some food (sometimes the host will have the food instead) - this tradition has somewhat fallen in popularity when the police have been stricter on drinking and driving laws, but a girl I talked to said she could remember being dragged around all night (starts at midnight) to see friends and family.
First footing obviously comes from being the first to set foot over the threshold of someone's house, and one question that comes up in my mind is; if everyone is out visiting someone else, how can anyone be at home?
But somehow it all seems to work out.

In the US of A I know you like to throw confetti around and kiss alot.
In Norway we like to combine massive ammounts of Liquer with serious fireworks. Always a good combination....

Please comment if your country has a special tradition or if you know something further about the First Footing tradition.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Very cool ways to trick your body

Christmas time is here, and since the doctor is off on vacation you need to take care of yourself.
Let Rasmus' friendly guide lead the way to health (and wealth - if you are a pearl diver that is)

* How to cure a tickling throat - dig into that ear
When the nerves in the ear are stimulated, it creates a reflex in the throat that can cause a muscle spasm," says Scott Schaffer, M.D., president of an ear, nose, and throat specialty center in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. "This spasm relieves the tickle."

* How to cure a toothache
Just rub ice on the back of your hand, on the V-shaped webbed area between your thumb and index finger. A Canadian study found that this technique reduces toothache pain by as much as 50 percent compared with using no ice. The nerve pathways at the base of that V stimulate an area of the brain that blocks pain signals from the face and hands.

* Clearing a stuffed nose - no cleenex or sudafed required
A good way to relieve sinus pressure is by alternately thrusting your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then pressing between your eyebrows with one finger. This causes the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal passages to the mouth, to rock back and forth, says Lisa DeStefano, D.O., an assistant professor at the Michigan State University college of osteopathic medicine. The motion loosens congestion; after 20 seconds, you'll feel your sinuses start to drain.

* Curing your dizzy head
Put your hand on something stable. The part of your ear responsible for balance -- the cupula -- floats in a fluid of the same density as blood. "As alcohol dilutes blood in the cupula, the cupula becomes less dense and rises," says Dr. Schaffer. This confuses your brain. The tactile input from a stable object gives the brain a second opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom.

* How to cure that stich (or "hold" as we say in Norwegian) when running
If you're like most people, when you run, you exhale as your right foot hits the ground. This puts downward pressure on your liver (which lives on your right side), which then tugs at the diaphragm and creates a side stitch, according to The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Men. The fix: Exhale as your left foot strikes the ground.

* How to relieve that side stich (or "hold" as we say in Norwegian)
When you run, you exhale as your right foot hits the ground. This puts downward pressure on your liver (which lives on your right side), which then tugs at the diaphragm and creates a side stitch, according to The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Men. The fix: Exhale as your left foot strikes the ground.

* Curing that Freezing head
We've all been there, eating your Ben And Jerrys while watching lost and suddenly at the end of the bucket you realized you ate too fast and too much and your head is pounding frost! Here comes the solution to all your troubles.
Press your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, covering as much as you can. "Since the nerves in the roof of your mouth get extremely cold, your body thinks your brain is freezing, too," says Abo. "In compensating, it overheats, causing an ice-cream headache." The more pressure you apply to the roof of your mouth, the faster your headache will subside.

* How to cure that sleeping limb (In norway we call this having "ants")
If ex your hand falls asleep, rock your head from side to side. It'll painlessly banish your pins and needles in less than a minute, says Dr. DeStefano. A tingly hand or arm is often the result of compression in the bundle of nerves in your neck; loosening your neck muscles releases the pressure. Compressed nerves lower in the body govern the feet, so don't let your sleeping dogs lie. Stand up and walk around.

* Here's the portion that will make you rich
So you are diving for pearls, but all the other boys stay down much longer than you and take all the nice ones... here is the trick to outsmart them all!
Take several short breaths first -- essentially, hyperventilate. When you're underwater, it's not a lack of oxygen that makes you desperate for a breath; it's the buildup of carbon dioxide, which makes your blood acidic, which signals your brain that somethin' ain't right. "When you hyperventilate, the influx of oxygen lowers blood acidity," says Jonathan Armbruster, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at Auburn University. "This tricks your brain into thinking it has more oxygen." It'll buy you up to 10 seconds.

* And Finally; A Party trick
So you have solved all your problems and are ready to go to the party. This is how to really impress the host (and ALL the other present) (if someone who is a CSCS says so, this has to be right... and NO - I will not tell you what a CSCS is....)
Have a person hold one arm straight out to the side, palm down, and instruct him to maintain this position. Then place two fingers on his wrist and push down. He'll resist. Now have him put one foot on a surface that's a half inch higher (a few magazines) and repeat. This time his arm will cave like the French. By misaligning his hips, you've offset his spine, says Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Results Fitness, in Santa Clarita, California. Your brain senses that the spine is vulnerable, so it shuts down the body's ability to resist.

Now that I have prepared you for the christmas season (and pearl diving) - go out you curious monkeys and put knowledge to practise.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Baluba - a peculiar Origin

This is primarily going to be interresting for Norwegians, but just in case anyone else is curious, I'm posting this in English.
Many Norwegians use the word "Baluba" - it used to describe disarray and chaos.
The funny thing is that the word does not exist in any dictionary - neither Norwegian nor German, English, French.... and yet it is used both in oral speach as well as in the written word (newspapers and books alike).
The expression probably refers to the Baluba tribe in Zaire - as far as I can understand it is their history of fighting that has brought about this expression's origin.
But how it made its way to this remote portion of the world is beyond my understanding.
Does anyone outside of Norway know of this expression? Please comment or email me.
Recently when I raised this issue it was even guessed that the expressions is particularly used in Bergen - since my family is from Bergen, it is not impossible that I picked it up that way.... Another person at the table who grew up in Oslo had never heard of the expression.
If anyone has any thoughts on this I would love to hear it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Cowtipping - Mythbuster

This is great!
I remember at camp how some kids over breakfast said they had been out cowtipping during the night....
Guess not so much after all.
I've always wanted to tip one myself though, so I am also slightly dissapointed at this news....
Great illustration of force needed in the actual article - link at bottom.

Cow-tipping myth hasn't got a leg to stand on
By Jack Malvern

IT IS the kind of story you hear from a friend of a friend — how, after a long night in a rural hostelry and at a loss for entertainment in the countryside, they head out into a nearby field.

There, according to the second-hand accounts, they sneak up on an unsuspecting cow and turn the poor animal hoof over udder.

But now, much to the relief of dairy herds, the sport of cow-tipping has been debunked as an urban, or perhaps rural, myth by scientists at a Canadian university.

Margo Lillie, a doctor of zoology at the University of British Columbia, and her student Tracy Boechler have conducted a study on the physics of cow-tipping.

Ms Boechler, now a trainee forensics analyst for the Royal Canadian Mounted Corps, concluded in her initial report that a cow standing with its legs straight would require five people to exert the required force to bowl it over.

A cow of 1.45 metres in height pushed at an angle of 23.4 degrees relative to the ground would require 2,910 Newtons of force, equivalent to 4.43 people, she wrote.

Dr Lillie, Ms Boechler’s supervisor, revised the calculations so that two people could exert the required amount of force to tip a static cow, but only if it did not react.

“The static physics of the issue say . . . two people might be able to tip a cow,” she said. “But the cow would have to be tipped quickly — the cow’s centre of mass would have to be pushed over its hoof before the cow could react.”

Newton’s second law of motion, force equals mass multiplied by acceleration, shows that the high acceleration necessary to tip the cow would require a higher force. “Biology also complicates the issue here because the faster the [human] muscles have to contract, the lower the force they can produce. But I suspect that even if a dynamic physics model suggests cow tipping is possible, the biology ultimately gets in the way: a cow is simply not a rigid, unresponding body.”

Another problem is that cows, unlike horses, do not sleep on their feet — they doze. Ms Boechler said that cows are easily disturbed. “I have personally heard of people trying but failing because they are either using too few people or being too loud.

“Most of these ‘athletes’ are intoxicated.”,,2-1858246,00.html

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Polyandry - Today's word

Picked up a new word today.
It's when several men share one wife.
I thought it was usually the other way around, but evidently it survives in some mountainregions in Nepal.
Seem's practial too! The wife at least is happy; "My husbands can take it in turns to go out for business, so I'm happy,"
Further - it is great because brothers don't have to split the land they have inherited... they do have to share their wife though.

"A 22-year-old man in Barauntse, Chakka Lama, told the BBC he was absolutely committed to the wife, 10 years older, whom he shares with his one younger and two older brothers, even though he cannot even remember the marriage ceremony."

I guess threesomes aren't frowned upon in these communities - Probably save on heat that way too! The more the merrier.

Here is the newsarticle if anyone is interrested.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Trafikantens nye reiseplanlegger - for de som liker å gå....

Var nysjerring på hvor lang tid det ville ta å ta buss evt trikk til
jobben - så jeg gikk på og brukte deres nye fine
Tastet inn adressen min og ønsket ankomst-sted, og ut kom svaret:
Bruk beina din late sabb (for de av dere som lurer, så er en Lat Sabb
litt lik en latsabb, men ikke helt.....)

"Fra: Pilestredet 53 (Oslo) 17. oktober 2005 - 08:10
Til: Aker brygge [båt] (Oslo)
Gangveg fra Pilestredet 53 til Nationaltheatret [T-bane] ca . 13 minutter.
Gangveg fra Nationaltheatret [T-bane] til Aker brygge [båt] ca . 11 minutter.

Sammenlagt reisetid: 24 minutter
Maks gangavstand er satt til ca. 20 min eller 1400 meter."

Kjekt å vite hvilket enorm tilbud som Trafikanten har å komme med.
Hadde jeg bare kunnet slippe å gå innom Nationaltheatret og heller
gått rett til Aker Brygge gjennom slottsparken så kunne jeg vel spart
noen minutter.... men men - Trafikanten vet best.

Oslo - Bergen er 2 ukers gange....... (hvis man husker å gå innom alle
togstasjonene på veien)

(For you English readers out there, this is just a result of a "mapquest by public transport" query - evidently there is no good way of using public transport for the route that I wanted to go, because I got the message back that I should walk instead (but went slightly short of calling me a fat pig that needed exercise))

Monday, October 10, 2005

Why do men have nipples

So who DO men have nipples you might ask yourself?
I obviously do all the time (I mean seriously - who doesnt)
The research I've found is slightly differing, but this seems to have been the most detailed as of yet.
Key words I have found out are Autosomes and sex hormones - write it behind your ear (or next to your nipple if you must)

Nobody really knows why men have nipples. Nipples aren't a sex-linked characteristic. In other words, nipples are just one of those sexually neutral pieces of equipment, like arms or brains, that humans get regardless of sex.

As you may know, every human being gets a unique set of 23 pairs of chromosomes at conception. These fall into two categories. One pair of chromosomes determines sex--the XX combination means you become female, the XY combination means you become male.

The other 22 pairs, the non-sex chromosomes (they're called autosomes), supply what we might call the standard equipment that all humans get. These 22 pairs constitute an all-purpose genetic blueprint that in effect is programmed for either maleness or femaleness by the sex chromosomes. The programming is done by the hormones secreted by the sex glands.

For example, the autosomes give you a voice box, while the sex hormones determine whether it's going to be a deep male voice or a high female voice. Similarly, the autosomes give you nipples, and the sex hormones determine whether said nipples are going to be functioning (in females) or not (in males).

One interesting consequence of the developmental set-up just described is that during the very early stages of fetal life, before the sex hormones have had a chance to do their stuff, all humans are basically bisexual. Among other things, you have two sets of primitive plumbing--one male, one female. Only one set develops into a mature urogenital system, but you retain traces of the other for the rest of your life.

It's tempting, therefore, to say that male nipples are yet another vestige of your carefree bisexual youth. Trouble is, male nipples are hardly vestigial. They're full-sized and fully equipped with blood vessels, nerves, and all the usual appurtenances of functioning organs. Why this should be so nobody knows--in some other mammals, such as rats and mice, male nipple development is completely suppressed by the male sex hormones. (Incidentally, don't start thinking that at one time our human male ancestors must have suckled their young. So far as anybody knows, male lactation has never developed in any mammalian species.)

Human nipples appear in the third or fourth week of development, well before the sex characteristics. (The sex hormones start to assert themselves at seven weeks.) As many as seven pairs of nipples are arranged along either side of a "milk line," a ridge of skin that runs from the upper chest to the navel.

Normally only one pair amounts to anything, but on about one baby in a hundred you can detect some vestige of the other ones, usually on the order of a freckle. There are cases of women who ended up with an extra breast, which made them freak show candidates not so many years ago. Luckily today the women can avail themselves of corrective surgery while the rest of us can watch Jenny Jones.

Anyway, both male and female babies are born with the main milk ducts intact--the gland that produces milk is there in the male, but it remains undeveloped unless stimulated by the female hormone, estrogen. Occasionally, a male baby is born with enough of his mother's estrogen in his body to produce a bizarre phenomenon known as "witches' milk," with the male glands, suitably stimulated, pumping away at the moment of birth.

In the adult male, the dormant glands can still be revived by a sufficient dose of estrogen. Actual lactation is rare--only a couple cases have been recorded. But at least one writer (Daly, 1978) has suggested that the "physiological impediments to the evolution of male lactation do not seem individually surmountable." Meaning we may yet see the dawn of the truly liberated household.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Poison Ivy - Brennesle

Why does poision Ivy (I believe this is the same as the Norwegian "Brennesle") grow places where people have urinated alot?
Fine - it grows near outhouses so it could come from the nitrous soil of manure - but it also grows in urination areas
(for you forreign readers out there, in Norway; many cabins have outhouses and also particular urination areas where the guys get to go when they need to go.
Well in these areas there grow alot of brennesle/poison ivy

So why is this?
Any of you out there know why this is?

Added: I looked up in the dictionary and it turns out the correct translation is "stinging nettle" - does anyone know the difference between stinging nettle and poison ivy?

Sweat Like a pig

Sweat like a pig - even in Norwegian; Svette som en gris
This is a completely illogical expression.
Since pigs dont have sweatular glands, how was this expression born?
Pigs dont sweat?!
Any suggestions from you people out there?

Drink urine or seawater?

Long time no hear, but now I am back with more random knowledge

I just bought a great book called "why do men have nipples"
I have decided to write up/albeit sometimes summarize when I get tired of writing/ some of the greatest points in the book.

If stranded on a desert island, should you drink seawater or your own urine?
Seawater is more than three times as concentrated as blood. Drinking saltwater forces your body to to deal with a more concentrated solution than its own fluids. As a result, your body must excrete it through the kidneys as urine. The kidneys can only make urine that is less salty than salt water, so if you drink seawater, you'll be peeing alot and losing an excess of water. This would cause your body to dehydrate, leaving an excess of sodium in your bloodstream. This again causes your cell to shrink and malfunction.
Muscles would become weak and ache, the heart would beat irregularly, you become confused and then you die...
Drinking urine is probably safer, but but the catch-22 is that you dont have any water to drink, you will become dehydrated and not produce any urine.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Controlled Explosion

With ref to everything that has happened here in London lately, we keep hearing the word "Controlled explosion" - sounds to me a bit like an oxymoron...
The police blocked off several blocks radius around my office yesterday and told us to stay inside as they were were doing a "controlled explosion" on a car along Picadilly.... never heard any sound of an explosion though....
Here at least is a runthrough of what it is.- Also I have included a short text blurb I received from a friend of mine who is in Baghdad.
I invite anyone with more information on the subject to post comments.

In the news, you will quite frequently hear about a "controlled explosion", especially in connection with "suspicious packages" and other fears of terrorism. However, it is only very rarely explained what one of those controlled explosions actually does, nor how it is planned or executed.

* How bombs work
Anyone who has ever seen a thriller film, will have seen a couple of sticks of dynamite, a huge, visible timer, and a red, blue, and green wire. In real life, however, a bomb-builder would never make such a device. A serious, self-respecting terrorist will create a device that is as simple as possible, but also tamper-resistant, through using a motion sensor (which sets off the bomb in case of a change in acceleration (G-force) such as being picked up), a pickup switch (A physical switch that gets activated if the device gets moved), a power loop (that sets off the device if the power from the main battery is cut - the classical "red wire, blue wire" thing you see in films) or a combination of the above. Particularly serious terrorists might use a proximity or light sensors, and would definitely use duct tape or similar around the entire device to make sure that none of the actual mechanics are visible.

Most non-suicide-bomber explosive devices will be either on a remote controller or a timer - or a combination of both. When a terrorist wants to set off the device, they can do so via a pager or a mobile telephone. The advantage of this - for the terrorist - is that the device can be detonated from anywhere in the world. Other forms of remote controlling can be done with radio signals (such as used in remote controlled planes etc) etc. Timed devices can be set to go off at a particular time (like an alarm clock) or after a particular time (countdown timers). If a timed device is used, however, the terrorists will almost certainly disable any read-out: There is no way they are going to give the anti-bomb-squad the benefit of being able to see how much time they have to defuse the device.

* How a controlled explosion works
The first port of call for the police or army bomb squad is to see if they can defuse the bomb. This is often done by a remote-controlled robot, who will try to remove or disconnect either the ignition system (this might be a primer charge such as a blast cap) or the timing / remote control device. The remote-controlled robot can have a series of cameras (infra-red, colour, etc), sensors (geiger-counters, swab sensors etc, to find out what the explosive device consists of) and remote-controllable tools etc.

If the defusing succeeds, the device might still be dangerous, in case the terrorists have installed secondary detonation devices, such as movement sensors etc. If the defusing fails, even more danger is present. In both cases, the bomb experts will want to conduct a controlled explosion.

"Controlled explosions" is not actually an overly precise term, as explosions can be extremely difficult to control, because they - well... they explode. The "controlled" part, then, describes the act of controlling one or more aspects of an impending explosion.

One of the aspects that can be controlled is the timing. Some of the remote controlled robots can be fitted with a shotgun, and shooting at the explosive device is a form of controlled explosion. Especially when dealing with high-explosives, shooting at the actual detonation mechanism might actually disrupt the explosive device, meaning that while the primer charge might go off, the main (and most dangerous charge) might not go off. The "controlled" element of this type of explosion is the timing: Because the bombs squad know when they are planning to shoot the device, they can make sure that all civilians are out of the area at the time of the potential explosion, which would minimise casualties.

Another aspect that can be controlled in some cases, is location. If the bomb is suspected to be inside a van parked next to a structural pillar of a large building, for example, they can move the actual van away from the hot-spot which would cause the most damage. If the bomb is in a bag or hold-all, using a remote-controlled robot to move the bag away from a high-risk area (such as in the basement of a building) into a lower-risk area.

In other cases, a controlled explosion can be done by putting a second explosive device next to the suspected bomb. The bomb squad can then place a heavy, damping material around the area, and set off the secondary device. The hope is that the secondary device will either disable the main bomb without setting it off, or set it off, and hope that the explosion will do only minimal damage.

In a final scenario, a heavy metal shield can be used to deflect the explosive force away from sensitive areas.

Often, bomb squads will use a combination of two or more of the techniques above. If a controlled explosion has to be used, damage is unavoidable, but the idea is to limit the damage and eliminate the loss of life as far as possible.

And here is the info from my friend:

They do a lot of controled detinations here. Basically, they find
something suspicious and they blow it up in place rather than moving
it. The term also applies to when they blow the doors off someone's
house. Controlled Detting a car (it can be a verb) in downtown london
would be intense, as the blast would be so big. it would probably
shatter windows 20 meters away.

Explosions also tend to be very,
very loud. What's breaking the windows is the sounds wave. Hiding
behind a brick wall, fourty feet from a controlled debt on a door, I
can often feel the wave of pressurized air reaching me. And the
explosives for that are like two cigarette packs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

LOOP – Louisiana Offshore Oil Port

The LOOP has been importing about 1.2 mb/d of crude oil y-t-d 2005.

Average discharge is about 60,000 bbls per hour depending on the type of crude (faster for light crudes, slower for heavy crudes) for the average VLCC.

The single day record for discharge is just under 2.0 million barrels in a single day, but this is not a sustainable rate. A more realistic expectation is in the 1.5 mb/d to 1.6 mb/d range

Monday, July 11, 2005

Joke of the day

The Captain called the Sergeant in. "Sarge, I just got a telegram that Private Jones' mother died yesterday. Better go tell him and send him in to see me."

So the Sergeant calls for his morning formation and lines up all the troops. "Listen up, men," says the Sergeant. "Johnson, report to the mess hall for KP. Smith, report to Personnel to sign some papers. The rest of you men report to the Motor Pool for maintenance. Oh by the way, Jones, your mother died, report to the commander."

Later that day the Captain called the Sergeant into his office. "Hey, Sarge, that was a pretty cold way to inform Jones his mother died. Couldn't you be a bit more tactful, next time?"

"Yes, sir," answered the Sarge.

A few months later, the Captain called the Sergeant in again with, "Sarge, I just got a telegram that Private McGrath's mother died. You'd better go tell him and send him in to see me. This time be more tactful."

So the Sergeant calls for his morning formation. "Ok, men, fall in and listen up." "Everybody with a mother, take two steps forward." "NOT SO FAST, McGRATH!"

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Some new words I like

Vexed Bother, Puzzle, Annoy, Distress
Affable Easy to speak with, Approchable
Magnanimity Courageously Noble
Panacea A Cure all
Anemic Lack Vitality
Spurious Lack authenticity
Meandering (River)
Puer Aeternus Den evig unge

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Oil supply/demand picture over next 5 years

Let's take a conservative 4% depletion rate.
And let's take a conservative 80-mm b/d consumption/production base. And let's say demand doesn't grow at all. That's 3.2-mmb/d X 5 years or 16-mmb/d.
So the surge in production takes care of depletion and Opec is in charge of meeting any incremental demand.
Then put in a conservative 1.4-mmb/d demand growth scenario per annum. Opec needs to add 7 mmb/d net new output in five years.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Medical Fact of the day

This is one of those tidbits of information I really don't understand how I lived without before I knew it!
One of my friends - who is a doctor - told me that a persons pubic hair is not decided by a persons "top-hair"(you know what I mean - head hair); ok - No big shocker there.

BUT she also told me you CAN tell a persons color by looking at their eyebrows!!
Betcha ya'll never look at a persons eyebrows the same way again!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Today's word of wisdom

For the lack of a nail, the shoe fell off

For the lack of a shoe, the horse fell down

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Chinese folk saying

The farmer realized he could finally see the beauty of the moon once his barn had burned to the ground.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Mind your Ps and Qs

In the spirit of word origins and history of expressions (as anyone who knows me will attest that I love) I bring you the expression of the day.

This phrase has more possible origins than any other -- and nobody knows just what to believe. The only thing everyone can agree upon is that the idiom was first cited by the Oxford English Dictionary in 1779 with the meaning of watching your step and being polite.

One simple explanation is that it's a childish abbreviation for minding your "pleases" and "thank yous." Considering how often kids are told to "mind your Ps and Qs" with the goal of being more polite, this explanation makes sense.

Two popular theories revolve around the mirror-image quality of the two letters. The phrase was recorded in 1830 as meaning "to learn one's letters." It was aimed at children learning to hand-write the lowercase letters p and q, which are quite similar. Another explanation along the same lines comes from the world of printing. Typesetters used blocks of type that were mirror images of the letters, so it would be easy to mix up lowercase p and q. This origin would give "mind your Ps and Qs" a connotation of being careful and paying sharp attention.

Another oft-mentioned source of the phrase is old pubs where beer and ale was served in pints and quarts. The barkeeper tracked patrons' drinking totals by marking "P" for pints and "Q" for quarts. Both the barkeeper and the drinker would want to keep careful track of those Ps and Qs so they knew what the final bill would be. Also, the drinker might want to pay attention to how much he drank so as to keep his own behavior under control.

World Wide Words notes that this puzzling and quirky idiom has inspired some fanciful explanations. In the 17th century, the expression "P and Q" meant "prime quality," which might have influenced the Ps and Qs phrase. Some suggest the saying came from a French dancing master's instructions to perform the dance figures pieds and queues properly. Or it could be an admonishment to sailors to keep their navy peacoats clean around their tarred queues or pigtails. But these derivations seem pretty far-fetched.