Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, March 20, 2021

For a while now, I’ve noted that we’re living in the Age of Distraction: Multiple televisions/monitors, phones, iPods, outdoor displays, radios, etc. are ubiquitous and nearly impossible to avoid, and so are guaranteed to keep people’s attention divided — like it or not.

All this distraction only enhances the human mind’s predisposition to wander — like it or not.

“The mind is always trying to wander, every chance it gets,” [University of British Columbia researcher Jonathan] Schooler said. In his view, the mind has not only the goal of achieving whatever task we’re focused on, but also personal goals simmering outside of our immediate awareness. These are things like making plans for the future, working out everyday problems, and better understanding oneself. Sometimes, one of these goals hijacks our attention. And so our mind wanders.

Brain-scanning evidence links mind-wandering to basic operation of the brain. Malia Mason of Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues recently reported that mind-wandering taps into the same circuitry that people use when they’re told to do nothing — when their brains are on “idle.”

… Oh, sorry. I was thinking about something else.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/20/2007 11:21 PM
Category: Science, Society
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Who’d figure the most active community of eBayers would be found in a dinky little south-central New Jersey town?

But that’s the distinction that Lumberton, 20 miles east of Philadelphia, has achieved. We are talking about per-capita basis here: Lumberton has only about 12,000 residents. You’d probably find more than that total of buyers/sellers in the San Francisco Bay/Silicon Valley area, which, owing to its tech image, I’d have guessed as holding the eBay demographic crown.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/20/2007 10:55 PM
Category: Internet
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large denominations
With the calendar edging into April, this relocated Floridian has no desire to see any more snow come down on New York.

But I suppose I could tolerate one more dose of snowfall — provided it came in the form of freakishly large flakes, measuring anywhere from 2 to 6 inches wide.

For instance, weather officials in Berlin reported a winter storm of January 1915 that produced snowflakes up to four inches wide.

The big flakes, German officials said in The Meteorologischen Zeitschrift, “not only fell more rapidly than the small flakes, but also did not swirl about to the same extent.” The officials added that “most were shaped like round or oval bowls or dishes with upturned rims. They did rock to and fro in the wind but at no time were they observed to turn over completely so that the concave side would face downward.”

[British weather observer Williams S.] Pike also reports on a winter storm that hit Laramie, Wyo., in September 1970, producing flakes up to three inches wide. A witness watched two relatively small flakes collide and merge to form a large snowflake. Using a stopwatch, the observer also found that the big flakes fell more than twice as fast as smaller ones.

Mr. Pike, generalizing from the reports, concluded that the big flakes tended to form when the temperature was just above freezing, making them wet and sticky. “Ideally,” he wrote, “winds should also be relatively light to avoid ‘bunches’ disintegrating.”

It sounds like the amount of snow is actually the same, it just comes earthward as bigger individual packages. If it’s going to fall anyway, I’ve got no problem with a super-sized crystalline presentation. I wouldn’t stick my tongue out to catch these extra-larges, though.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/20/2007 09:18 PM
Category: Science, Weather
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As a signoff for my recent St. Patrick’s Day post, I offhandedly mentioned that I would seek out a McDonald’s Shamrock milkshake to cap off the holiday.

In fact, I did venture out to McDonald’s later that day, specifically for a green shake (I have no other reason for stopping into said establishment). I also hit another store on Sunday. Both times, to no avail, because there was no Shamrock beverage to be had — by design:

“New York region no longer stocks the Shamrock Shake,” Jennifer Nagy of McDonald’s regional marketing told me. “Our branches can vote region by region,” and in New York City, the five boroughs and surrounding areas, they’re not voting green.

Not so outside the Empire State. “We have it,” a worker at a Boston McDonald’s told me when I called. “We’ll have it for the whole summer!”

“Oh yeah,” said a rep for McDonald’s in Philadelphia. “And our area extends into southern Jersey.”

Based on an extensive telephone survey, I discovered that New York is the only dry spot on the Northeast coast.

What kind of fool decision is that? Are New Yorkers so averse to mint-flavored dairy products that every franchisee figured no one would miss this seasonal treat?

I know they had them last year; I loaded up on four or five in the days immediately before and after St. Patty’s. I probably would have done the same this year too. Heck, on the day itself, I might have even indulged in a spiked mixture. It would have been an improvement over the traditional green beer.

Anyway, here’s my shout-out for St. Patrick’s 2008: Re-stock that Shamrock Shake, New York McD’s!

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/20/2007 08:55 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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