Look at Spider go! In this short movie from 1970, we see an energetic short order cook experiencing full-blown Csikszentmihalyi flow state as he prepares dishes for a late-night pre-hangover crowd at a small diner in New Hampshire. Spider's movements are unpredictably explosive and accompanied by bursts of discordant whistling. He reminds me of Tex Avery's cartoons and Raymond Scott's music.
Kenneth S. "Spider" Osgood died in 2012. Here's his obituary.
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In his youth, Mr. Osgood was a Golden Glove boxer. He was an amazing short order cook who got his nickname of "Spider" from his ability to multi-task while working at the Shore Diner and Paul's Diner. He was an antique clock repairman for several years and was owner of Osgood's Clock Repair.
On New Year's Eve, a patient bouncer wore a GoPro at a nightclub to show how hard he works dealing with drunk people who plead, lie, and threaten to let them in. Read the rest
UK retailer Tesco is hiring "Christmas Light Untanglers" so they can provide this new service at their stores.
Ideal candidates are "able to untangle 3 meters of Christmas lights in under three minutes" and "passionate about Christmas."
From the job description at Tesco Careers:
Your roles and responsiblities will include: • Man and managing the Christmas Lights Untangling stand • Taking time to listen and help out wherever you can: Every little helps • Check lights and bulbs for signs of breakage / broken bulbs and report findings to the customer • Handle customers Christmas lights carefully to keep everything in tip-top condition • Talking to colleagues, sharing your enthusiasm and helping to create team spirit • Getting to know your customers, greet them with a smile and serve them with pride. • Give a brilliant customer experience, making sure you deliver only the best service and put a smile on customers faces • Successfully untangle customers Christmas lights neatly, quickly and efficiently and in an orderly fashion • Abide by our Health and Safety policies • Always be there on time and properly presented • Be passionate and knowledgeable about the service you are offering
Max Plenke has a nice roundup of the things that are destroying your body at this very moment, crushing the husk of your corporeal form even as your soul is stapled firmly to it with each mind-sapping click.
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You don't have to be on your feet all day to avoid turning into a puddle of office-casual mulch — but you do need to be proactive.
"Those exercise fads of the week don't work," Taylor told Mic. "Get on a cardiovascular program that doesn't cause you pain, and do 30 minutes four to five times a week."
Get up and out of your seat. Take a walk. Go pick up lunch instead of ordering in.
It's the historically-emergent standard for good reasons, because the quality of work simply goes to shit when people work too much. Burning out workers "destroys their personal lives and gets nothing in return," writes Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz.
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Many people believe that weekends and the 40-hour workweek are some sort of great compromise between capitalism and hedonism, but that's not historically accurate. They are actually the carefully considered outcome of profit-maximizing research by Henry Ford in the early part of the 20th century. He discovered that you could actually get more output out of people by having them work fewer days and fewer hours. Since then, other researchers have continued to study this phenomenon, including in more modern industries like game development.
The research is clear: beyond ~40—50 hours per week, the marginal returns from additional work decrease rapidly and quickly become negative.
Over at Backchannel, I wrote about how brain tech could transform how we work in the future, from displays that react to our mental state to offices that respond to our brainwaves.
Stanford and University of California neuroscientist Melina Uncapher is currently leading a pilot study with a large technology company to use mobile EEG tracking to study how the office environment — from lighting to natural views to noise levels — impacts the brain, cognition, productivity, and wellness of workers. Prepping a room for a big brainstorm? Maybe it’s time to change the light color.
“If you want to encourage abstract thinking and creative ideas, do you pump in more oxygen or less?” says Uncapher, a fellow at Institute for the Future. “Do you raise the ceiling height? Do you make sure you have a view of the natural environment, simulated or real? And if you want people to be more heads-down, is it better for them to be in a room with a lower ceiling?”
The goal, she explains, would be to develop a “quantified environment” that you could precisely tune to different types of working modes.
"Our Highest Selves?" (Backchannel)
(Illustration by Anna Vignet) Read the rest
India's traditional roadside ear de-waxers, called kaan saaf wallahs, are known by the red handkerchiefs on their heads. They charge around 15 cents per ear, and one ear cleaner interviewed by the LA Times says he gets about 12 customers per day. He lives in a room shared by 15 men.
The deluxe treatment can include daubs of lotion, coconut oil and a dark liquid that Mehboob described as an ayurvedic tonic, and costs 50 rupees, or 80 cents.
"That's if the ear is inflamed, or if it's really red," [Sayed Mehboob] says. "The lotions provide a soothing effect."
His method is to dip the cotton-tipped pin in hydrogen peroxide and scrape the outer ear canal before proceeding to the inner canal. An old pair of tweezers helps pick out stubborn bits of dirt and wax.
Jessamyn West is a freelancer, and that means that she has to talk on the phone to earn her crust. This sucks. Read the rest
Yes, this is a review of a nursing bra. No, this is not me getting all mommyblogger. If you are a woman with a new kid and you work, then milking yourself is a weird and frequent part of your work schedule. It's also obnoxious. So I want to make sure you know about two ways to make it a little less obnoxious. One is a Kickstarter-funded product (i.e., a handy solution to an everyday problem created by an inventive Maker). The other is a simple hack you can do at your desk for $1.50. In other words, this is about boobs and babies. And it's also very BoingBoing. Read the rest
I was a judge on this year's Science Seeker Awards, which honor great science writing being done online. The winners were just announced and you should really check out the whole list. It's full of great writing, including some names and blogs you've probably never read before.
I also want to draw your attention to a runner-up post that made a big impact on me. It's a piece by Jalees Rehman about what happens when scientists (and science journalists) settle for easy work and quick rewards instead of pushing themselves. The post introduced me to the concept of der innere Schweinehund, aka "the inner swine-dog", a fantastic German metaphor for the part of ourselves that prefers laziness over productivity, comfort over challenge, and routine over achievement. Everything is a battle against our own inner swine dog. It's a terribly German way of looking at things, but it resonated with me — and will probably resonate with anyone who has ever had to decide between checking Facebook and finishing an important task.
More importantly, reading about it in the midst of judging some really good science writing reminded me of how important that daily battle is. These Science Seeker Award Winning stories will educate you, scratch your itch for curiosity, and help you question your world. Those are incredibly important goals, and the only way we reach them is by fighting off the inner swine-dog.
There is a statue of the Innere Schweinehund in Bonn. Norbert Schnitzler took this photo of it for Wikimedia Commons. Read the rest