Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ignite Seattle celebrates the tenth anniversary of its five-minute talks

On November 15th Clare McGrane had an article posted at GeekWire describing how Ignite Seattle marks 10th anniversary, a decade after accidentally launching a global phenomenon. It is unintentionally hilarious for ahistoricism (lack of concern with history). 

The format for a five-minute long Ignite talk involves 20 slides with auto advance after 15 seconds. The similar format for a Pecha Kucha talk (from back in February 2003 in Tokyo) also involves 20 slides but with auto advance after 20 seconds for a 6 minute and 40 second talk. Ignite and Pecha Kucha customarily ignore each other. For an example, see Sandy Rushton’s September 19th blog post at BrightCarbon titled Lessons from PechaKucha Night.

Pecha Kucha and Ignite both are constrained versions of a Lightning Talk (about five minutes, perhaps from 1997). But brief speech formats go back almost a century to the April 1917 first talk by the Four Minute Men, which I blogged about back in August 2010 in a post titled The power of brief speeches: World War I and the Four Minute Men.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What I’m thankful for today - recovering from a broken fibula

 One of my favorite episodes of the four decade old TV show M.A.S.H. was titled Out of Sight, Out of Mind. In it surgeon Hawkeye Pierce (played by Alan Alda) lost his sight but then got it back. He got to temporarily experience the world in a completely different way. So have I.  It’s a topic for speeches about keeping a positive attitude. But it has reminded me of that bumper sticker that says Oh No! Not another learning experience!

On a late afternoon early in the fourth week of July I broke my fibula. That’s the smaller of the two lower leg bones, behind the tibia (as shown above). My wife and I had taken the Wallowa Lake Tramway to the top of Oregon’s Mount Howard (8,256 foot) and hiked around on a loop trail. About 100 yards from getting back to the station, while going downhill, I slipped on some loose gravel and fell. My right ankle was dislocated, but thankfully I immediately popped it right back into place. The tramway staff put me into a trailer behind a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle, drove me back to the station, gave me some Advil, and helped me into the back seat of my Honda Fit.

My wife drove to the emergency room of the hospital in Enterprise, Oregon. They x-rayed my leg, told me my right fibula was broken, put me in a cast, and gave me a set of crutches and an ice bag for the swelling. By the time we got to La Grande, Oregon and I-84 it was too late to head back to Boise so we stayed in a motel. The next morning she drove back to Boise with me sitting sideways on the rear seat.

While waiting for orthopedic surgery I wound up getting three blisters growing under my cast. Fracture blisters are an uncommon complication. We found out when one burst, so we went to my nearby urgent care clinic. They removed the cast, took photos, and called my surgeon. He said that fortunately the blisters wouldn’t interfere with either of his incisions, so just dress them and put on another cast. They’d  take care of the blisters during the surgery.

On the afternoon of August 2nd I had orthopedic surgery at Saint Alphonsus hospital in Nampa. The surgeon installed a metal plate with a dozen screws to hold my bone together, a “rope” to pull my ligaments back into alignment, and put me in another fiberglas cast. They gave me a prescription for painkillers, but I needed them for less than two days. 

Then there were twelve weeks of couch potato time without me being able to put any weight on my right leg. I rolled around the house using office chairs both on the ground floor and second floor. Since I’m retired I watched a lot of TV, listened to the radio, and used a laptop computer to read and blog.

To go up and down stairs I sat facing downhill and used both arms and my left leg to lift my torso and right leg. In the kitchen I could still reach the stove, refrigerator, sink, and dishwasher. But only the front of the over-the-stove microwave oven was reachable from my sitting position. The back of the microwave and top cabinet shelves were more difficult - I had to stand on my left leg while bracing myself on the stove or counter with one hand. Then I could use the other hand to reach for things.

We also adapted by fitting our shower stall with a Moen shower chair and hand shower on a seven-foot hose. For showers my cast went into a clear plastic protector like a Christmas stocking with an elastic top. We had the low, round toilet replaced with a taller, elongated ADA-compliant one. I can roll the side of my office chair up to the toilet and easily transfer to the seat.

For going outside we got an inexpensive Blue Streak wheelchair from Drive Medical (at Amazon) with an 18-inch wide seat. We can get around with me in the right front seat of my wife’s minivan and the wheelchair in the back. Shopping at the WINCO supermarket or COSTCO store looks much different (and less friendly) from a wheelchair than it does standing up. The two-inch high threshold at the entrance to Golden Star, our favorite Chinese restaurant, now was an obstacle I had to go over backwards. That wheelchair was chosen based on it being narrow enough to go through our bathroom doors. But it was too clumsy to use for getting on the toilet since the front wheels get in the way.

After six weeks they removed the cast, x-rayed my leg again, and switched me to a knee-high Aircast XP Walker Extra Pneumatic brace (as shown above) that is worn over a 22-inch long tube sock. It has air chambers on the front, rear, and sides that can be individually inflated (arrows) or deflated using a squeeze bulb. The Aircast could be removed for taking showers, so I was much more comfortable than I was with the nonremovable fiberglas cast. But it still is very warm, and has to be removed twice a day because sweat winds up on the rubber under my foot. Also, the Aircast only came with two socks, so we ordered another six at Amazon. 

Twelve weeks after surgery  (at the end of October) I was done with the Aircast, and could put weight on my right leg again. But my right foot had swollen from a size 11 narrow shoe size to a size 13 medium. I know that because we got a used pair of athletic shoes at the Idaho Youth Ranch store. Elevating my leg and applying an ice pack didn’t seem to help reduce the swelling. Over a weekend it wouldn’t go down. Monday I went to my local urgent care clinic. The doctor said it might be an infection or perhaps a blood clot. To rule out a potentially serious clot, she sent me for an ultrasound scan of my leg at Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Boise. So my wife and I waited in the emergency room for most of the afternoon. Thankfully it wasn’t a clot, so I didn’t need to take blood thinning medications. The next day I had a follow-up appointment with the physician’s assistant to the surgeon. He gave me an antibiotic to take care of any infection. He also prescribed compression stockings. When I went to Norco to get them, they said my foot was swollen to where a sock that would be useful for my ankle would not fit. So, for now I’m instead using six-inch and three-inch wide elastic bandages to apply compression.  

Currently I am getting physical therapy, doing exercises, and learning to walk again starting with crutches. My leg muscles are in sad shape from disuse. I can stand, but not walk without crutches or another support. We have a stationary exercise bike facing the TV in the living room that will help with my calf muscles.  But last Wednesday I managed to walk up the stairs using the handrail for support. So, I can see an end to my immobility and am in reasonably good spirits. Medicare and my supplemental insurance has covered the vast majority of my expenses.

It is likely I can recover completely, so the only leftover from this adventure will probably be getting hand searched every time I fly. That plate will set off metal detectors at the airport. I am planning on carrying images of my X-rays in my cell phone to show to TSA, and also perhaps a couple of 8-1/2 x 11” hard copies laminated on a page. 

Images of a leg and a wheelchair came from Wikimedia Commons.

December Holiday Update

My present for the holidays is that I actually can walk around the house for short periods without a cane or crutches. My gait is pretty lousy - not much better than a zombie at 1:20 in this clip from the movie Night of the Living Dead.

At Harbor Freight for $60 I got a four-wheeled walker with 7” wheels, a seat, and a basket. It works well for getting around outside. (The list price is $70 but there always is a coupon for 20% off on one item). 

I tried again at Norco and got a pair of  $75 prescription-grade compression stockings - sized by them based on my normal left foot. They turned out to be uncomfortably tight, and I couldn’t stand wearing them for more than an hour or so. But in the AAA travel catalog I saw Sockwell+ non-prescription socks. I got three pairs of their over-the calf Circulators for $25 each from their web site, and can wear one on my right leg for up to about five hours.  

I moved the Moen hand shower and shower chair from the master bathroom to the bathtub in the hall bathroom. Now I can get in and out of the tub and take a sit-down shower all by myself. I also can remove the chair and take a tub bath. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Please don’t change the defaults on my web software without asking me

I have an ancient free Hotmail email account (that Microsoft currently calls which I use almost solely for getting a daily Google Alert on the topic of public speaking.    

Recently they changed their Sign In screen to that shown above (recolored to green) - so now I have to enter my email name on one screen, click Next, and then enter my password on another. They used  to have one screen where I could complete logging in by pressing the tab key to go from the email name to the password.

They never asked but also split up my inbox into two categories labeled Focused and Other. Very weirdly they put my daily Google Alert into Other, although it’s where I’m Focused. I looked up how to undo those settings, and reset to a single inbox.

 Even more weird is that when I go to sign out they first show a short menu (above, recolored) which then changes to a longer menu (below, recolored). I don’t look at my email on my phone, so I haven’t figured out if the short menu is for mobile users with small screens.

Monday, November 21, 2016

I don’t want to buy a doorbuster on Black Friday or any other day

Once again the Christmas shopping season has begun with ads for big sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Yesterday USA Today had an article titled 4 things to know before shopping for Black Friday doorbuster deals. Doorbuster is tired marketing jargon for a deal so great that customers will lay siege to your store, and then break the door down to get in.

Business jargon keeps on growing. The front page to the Small Business section of today’s Wall Street Journal has an article by Chana R. Schoenberger titled Can you speak startup? with a multiple-choice quiz that asks you to pick definitions for the following twenty jargon words or phrases:

Demo Day
Customer-Success Associate
Subprime Unicorn
Hockey Stick
Next Level
Green Meadow
Growth Hacker


I knew Prezi was presentation software, but missed most of the rest.

The image of a doorbuster was adapted from a battering ram found at Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Are there hashtags in cave art?

Not really, but the crosshatch (or pound symbol) did show up on cave walls long before people ever knew how to write. There is an eight-minute YouTube video posted in September 2016 from National Geographic by Genevieve von Petzinger titled Ice Age Cave Art: Unlocking the mysteries behind these markings. At 3:40 there is a chart showing 32 different geometric signs. There also is a 12-minute TED talk video of hers from 2015 titled Why are these 32 symbols found in caves all over Europe?

An article in the November 12th issue of New Scientist magazine by Alison George titled Hidden Symbols had more charts indicating the crosshatch symbol also showed up in East Africa, Southern Africa,  North America, Australia, and India. You can find more in Genevieve von Petzinger’s May 2016 book The First Signs: Unlocking the mysteries of the world’s oldest symbols.

We don’t really know what the crosshatch symbol means. A reasonable guess is that it represents a net or a trap, and signifies that we are hunters, trappers, or fishermen. Or, it could indicate that back in the Ice Age people amused themselves around the fire by playing Tic Tac Toe

Where are these markings found, and how old are they? A web page from the Bradshaw Foundation on Geometric Signs & Symbols in Rock Art says:

“Out of the 27 sites where this sign type is present, 22 of these are from the Magdalenian. With only one site each in the Aurignacian, Gravettian, and Solutrean, it is hard to know what made people choose to keep reproducing this sign in such a small percentage of the sites. The Magdalenian explodes on the scene with nearly one in three caves from this period including the crosshatch symbol. There is a clear grouping of sites along the Pyrénées using this sign, as well as a strong presence in SW France. There are also two sites in the north with crosshatch signs from this period, but none in the SE region. The Late Magdalenian displays a sharp drop in frequency, with only two sites from this period having crosshatch signs present. When I see such an abrupt change in popularity, both before and after the Magdalenian, it makes me quite curious as to whether this trend would become any clearer if there was a larger spatial dataset to work with. Moving into nearby countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy may allow some better patterns to emerge. As well, there are quite a few examples of crosshatches on portable pieces of art, so doing a cross-comparison with this other form of Ice Age art could help to explain this distinct, but slightly mysterious pattern of use.”

The Aurignacian was  from 43,000 to 26,000 years ago, the Gravettian was 29,000 to 22,000 years ago, the Solutrean was 22,000 to 17,000 years ago and the Magdalenian was from 17,000 to 12,000 years ago.

The cave painting image (minus the hashtag) came from Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Is every fear really the same fear? Of course not!

That’s just intellectual monkeying around. On October 27, 2016 Alan Henry tried to scare us for Halloween with an article at Lifehacker and a YouTube video both titled All Fears Are the Same Fear. He claimed:

“Whether you’re afraid of public speaking, tiny enclosed spaces, or massive crowds, they can all be traced back to one, truly specific fear: the fear of death. They may be nuanced, and have their own diagnoses, and they may be treated differently, but at the end of the day, it’s all the same fear.

You likely already know that when you’re confronted with something you’re afraid of, it activates your brain’s fight-or-flight response, often overwhelming your better judgement—even if the thing you’re afraid of poses no threat or danger to you whatsoever. Fears like heights, flying, or even snakes or spiders make sense in a survival context, but even fears that don’t seem to present mortal threats make sense too when you remember how social human beings are, and how social rejection can be a life or death issue.

The video explainer above goes into more detail about this, and traces a number of these fears, like the fear of losing a relationship, the fear of losing loved ones, or yes, fear of public speaking, back to their very psychological roots.”

Wow! Is this a brand new revelation about the Grim Reaper? No. It is a an oversimplified pile of poop from pop-philosophy and pop-psychology. Perhaps he actually got it from a 2013 YouTube video by Deepak Chopra which said all fear is the fear of death in disguise. Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) similarly had said:

“Whenever you are afraid, try to explore and you will find death hiding somewhere behind. All fear is of death. Death is the only fear source.”

Psychologists currently distinguish between specific fears and social fears, and over two decades ago the U.S. did a very serious national mental health survey that included determining how common they were. See my  2011 post on Putting the fears puzzle pieces together: social and specific fears in the National Comorbidity Survey.

They also distinguish severity between fears and phobias, as I blogged about in another  post from 2011 on What’s the difference between a fear and a phobia? And ‘Fight or Flight’ has been replaced by fight or flight or freeze or fawn (but that’s a topic for yet another post).

When you start seriously looking for where ‘all or every fear is fear of death’ came from, you will find that psychologists had discussed this topic over a century ago, as had early psychoanalysts. In the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis for September 1922 (Volume III, part 3) Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939) discusses a paper by Granville Stanley Hall (1846 - 1924) from 1915 titled Thanatophobia and Immortality that had appeared back in October 1915 in the American Journal of Psychology. He says:

“Hall first points out how much the psychology of death has in common with that of love, especially from the new psychogenetic standpoint. 'There is a sense in which all fears and phobias are at bottom fears of death or of the abatement or arrest of vitality, and also a sense in which all desires and wishes are for the gratification of love. The one is the great negation, and the other the supreme affirmation of the will to live'.”   

On October 10, 2015 I blogged about Hall having done A study of American childhood fears from way back in 1897.

Wilhelm Stekel (1868 - 1940) also has been quoted as saying similarly that every fear is fear of death. He had said it on page 378 of Volume 16 in his book Conditions of Nervous Anxiety and Their Treatment:

"Every fear is fear of death."

In E. James Lieberman’s 2010 biography of Otto Rank (1884 -1939) titled Acts of Will: The Life and Work of Otto Rank page 135 (at Google Books) says about Sigmund Freud and his friend Wilhelm Fliess (1858 - 1928):

“He remarked that both Weininger and Swoboda regarded intercourse as partial dying, and quoted Fliess: 'All fear is fear of death.' Freud contradicted Fliess, saying that ‘any anxiety is fear of oneself, of one’s libido.’ We can see in this debate the precursor of Rank’s theory of life fear and death fear.”

A flipped 1888 drawing of a monkey came from the Library of Congress.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A TED talk parody from This is That

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has a satirical program called This is That which is:

“...a current affairs program that doesn't just talk about the issues, it fabricates them.”

In June they posted a 4-1/4 minute parody of a TED talk by Pat Kelly titled ‘Thought Leader’ gives talk that will inspire your thoughts. I ran across the CBC version of it yesterday in a post on the SlideMagic blog by Jan Schultink. 

This is That has other YouTube videos of their deadpan parodies, such as First there was the Driverless Car, Now there is a Riderless Bike, Artisanal Firewood (hand rubbed with ginger) and Canada rolls out a universal car horn language.

They also have audios like Ontario busted for ‘staging’ provincial parks to make them more Instagrammable which also has a segment about a Kelowna policeman told to quit patrolling on a unicycle.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How big does the moon look?

Yesterday at his Bad Astronomy blog Phil Plait posted So, About Today’s Supermoon... and posed a question:

“The Moon is pretty small on the sky, far smaller than you think. Let me ask you this: If you held up a dime, how far away from your eyes would it have to be to appear the same size as the Moon?  Here’s the answer, and it may surprise you.”

It’s a trick - that dime would have to be six feet away, but your arms aren’t that long. For me that brought to mind the title from a 1976 Broadway musical, Your Arms Too Short to Box with God.

My arms are about two feet long, so instead of the 0.705-inch diameter for a dime I’d need to hold up something almost three times smaller, like a paperclip. The comparison is a good example of how to describe a number in a way that a nontechnical audience can easily understand.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A colossal conspiracy called the Mandela Effect

Some people have very curious beliefs. The so-called Mandela Effect is a belief originated by Fiona Broome. She remembered that Nelson Mandela died in prison back in the 1980s rather than in 2013 (after having become much more famous because he was elected President of South Africa in 1994 and served for five years).

Wikipedia hasn’t bothered with a separate page for the Mandela Effect. It instead appears as the last heading in the page on Confabulation that says:

“An internet meme related to confabulation is known as the Mandela effect. This is a situation where a number of people have memories that are different from the available evidence. The term was coined by paranormal enthusiast Fiona Broome, who says she and other people remember Nelson Mandela dying in the 1980’s rather than in 2013. She argues that common memories which appear mistaken could be explained by the existence of parallel universes that are able to interact with each other. A common thread of discussion regarding this ‘effect‘ is misremembering the Berenstain Bears being spelled as ‘Berenstein Bears‘. “  

The first few moments of a YouTube video by Dr. Druanna Johnson titled What is happening to our current reality! Mandela Effect?? gives some other examples, like at 1:05 that department store J. C. Penney was originally spelled Penny, and at 1:20 that Oscar Mayer originally was spelled Myer. Did either name really change? No!

I looked in the EBSCO databases on my friendly local public library web site, and instead found a .pdf file of an article in the April 1930 Harvard Business Review by  David R. Falk titled Central Buying by Department-Store Mergers which referred to the J.C. Penney Co.

When I searched in Wikimedia Commons, I found both a 1936 photo of an Oscar Mayer  Wienermobile, and a 1948 ad from the Ladies Home Journal for Oscar Mayer Wieners.

On July 24, 2016 Snopes had an article by David Emery on The Mandela Effect that said The Glitch Is in Your Memory, Not the Matrix. There also is a web site about Debunking Mandela Effects, and an article at the Rational Wiki.   

I know that my memory isn’t always reliable. Ask any prosecutor or forensic engineer what they think of eyewitness testimony, and watch them chuckle. For example, here in Boise there is a personal injury law firm that often runs TV ads (which I typically don’t pay close attention to and mute). If you’d asked me I’d have told you their name was Lister Frost, but it actually is Litser Frost.  

An image of a mandala found at Wikimedia Commons was colored in.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Remembering Leonard Cohen

The great Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died on November 7th at age 82. Before he created 14 studio albums he had published both poetry and novels.

Rolling Stone has an article about him. Entertainment Week has another article on The 20 greatest Leonard Cohen songs, and Haaretz has yet another article on Leonard Cohen’s 5 Most Jewish Songs.

An interview by David Remnick of the New Yorker describes (at 5:15) how Leonard suffered from stage fright. He eventually mostly got over it. 

One of my favorite performances is his Live in London version of Tower of Song shown above, that ends with him playfully revealing The Answer. (You need to know that over a decade before Tower of Song appeared on his eighth studio album I’m Your Man he’d worked with Phil Spector on his fifth studio album, Death of a Ladies‘ Man).   

The image of a soldier playing a guitar was adapted from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Should we do as you say or as you actually do?

On November 7, 2016 at his Manner of Speaking blog John Zimmer posted about Don’t join Toastmasters? Seriously? He was responding to an article by Jonathan Li at Entrepreneur on May 9, 2015 titled 10 Mistakes Successful Speakers Never Make Again. Those ten were:

 1] Feeling terrified before speaking in front of groups
 2] Joining Toastmasters
 3] Having a voice that shakes
 4]Avoiding humor
 5] Practicing in front of a mirror
 6] Picturing audience members ‘in their underwear’
 7] Worrying about what to say during the Q & A
 8] Designing PowerPoint slides that are dry and boring
 9] Starting your remarks with ‘Good morning everyone. Today I will talk about...”
10] Stopping efforts to improve your public speaking skills

Under 2] Joining Toastmasters Jonathan said:

“Successful speakers don’t go to Toastmasters, because the organization's forced-to-clap environment is unrealistic. Successful speakers practice public speaking in front of live audiences that provide constructive feedback. The realistic environment helps them grow and succeed faster.”

John discussed why he thought what Jonathan said was bad advice, and I agree.

But I thought I remembered that Jonathan was a Toastmaster. He was. Look at the announcement for May 27, 2015 at Wayfoong Toastmasters Club. Jonathan also appeared on the Toastmasters Podcast #88 with Bo Bennett, where he was introduced as an Advanced Communicator Silver and Competent Leader.

On November 12, 2015 Jonathan had another article at The Huffington Post titled 7 Secrets to Speaking with Confidence. They were:

1] Prepare for the best and the worst
2] Know when to close your mouth
3] Smell a lovely smell
4] Sing your favourite song
5] Talk to your audience as friends
6] Look your best
7] Practice with feedback

Under 7] Practice with feedback he said:

“I practiced my talk at Toastmasters and got useful feedback from live audiences. With quality feedback, we delivered our best TEDx talks.”

You can watch a YouTube video of Jonathan's  12-minute TEDx Hong Kong talk on How to Speak with Confidence. So, please do as Jonathan actually does, not as he sometimes says.

The 1903 image of Translating a love letter came from the Library of Congress.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

There’s a big difference between a pledge and a question

Yesterday on her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog Jane Genova posted about how Drudge Report - Pledges Never To Post Another Hillary Photo Again. She claimed:

“The conservative Drudge Report's signature became posting unflattering photos of Hillary. They ranged from Sick-Hillary to Wicked-Witch-of-The-West-Hillary.

Well, the news website headlines with a neutral photo of Hillary and the pledge that this will be the very last photo of Hillary that it will post. The text screams that it is the end of the Clinton Inc. dynasty.Here is the link to the media coverage.”

Actually she got it completely wrong by missing a question mark at the end of their headline. On Twitter it instead said:

That was no pledge. What tabloid web site ever would rule out posting yet another unflattering celebrity photo? 

UPDATE  November 27, 2015

Back to the same old yellow journalism! Jane Genova hilariously blogged that Drudge Report Breaks Pledge to Never Again Post Photos of Hillary.

Monday, November 7, 2016

An interactive infographic shouldn’t make you yawn

Back on September 15th the Bloomberg web site featured an interactive infographic by Evan Applegate titled American Fright. It listed the top 42 fears from the 2015 Chapman University Survey of American Fears - in four columns and eleven rows. Each fear was represented by an image with a brief caption below it. When you pointed your mouse at an image, the percent of Americans that were Very Afraid or Afraid was shown at the right, beneath a skull icon. Yawn!  

I was not impressed by that infographic. It is harder to use than the ranked list shown in the Chapman blog post titled America’s Top Fears 2015, that lets you look at all the percentages at once and compare them. (The list also provides an alphabetical index). That infographic  incorrectly describes the survey:

“Chapman University asked 1,541 American adults what they fear most, then ranked the answers by the share of respondents who indicated “afraid” or very afraid” for each.”

The Chapman survey questions really were “How afraid are you of...?” not “What do you fear most?” and, there were four possible answers:

1 Not Afraid

2 Slightly Afraid

3 Afraid

4 Very Afraid

Then on October 31st Bloomberg did it again for Halloween with another similar infographic showing all 79 fears from the 2016 Chapman Survey in four columns. This one was created by Peter Jeffrey and titled What Americans Fear Most: Corruption, Reptiles, and Death. Of course that title instead should have been What Do the Most Americans Fear? Yawn again!

How much better and more useful could an interactive infographic from a survey be? On September 23rd I blogged about how Public speaking is not the most common fear for adults in British Columbia. Look at the infographic in an article published on June 17, 2016 by Insights West and titled Terrorism, Heights, and Snakes are Top Fears in British Columbia. It lets you build a stacked bar chart showing any of the fear at up to five different levels, and to choose either the whole sample or sub-samples based on geography or ethnicity.

An image of a yawning Japanese macaque came from Bruce1ee at Wikimedia Commons.    

Friday, November 4, 2016

A double-wide landscape format flip chart - the KING from Italy

Almost any product can be changed - made bigger and better. Recently I ran across the new KING flip chart (Watch a 30-second Youtube video here). Traditionally flip chart paper has a narrow page format, which in PowerPoint jargon would be called Portrait. But there also is a wide page format called Landscape. (For projectors there is the standard 4:3 horizontal format where the height is 0.75 of the width, or widescreen 16:9 where it is 0.56).     

According to the KING description, the Standard Italian paper size is 27.6” (70 cm) wide by 35.4” (90 cm) high, as is shown above. (The U.S. 3M Post-It size is 25” wide by 30” high, and the UK ‘A1’ size is 23” wide by 32” high).

The new KING chart paper size is much larger - 44.9” wide by 34.3” high. Compare that with the U.S. 3M Post-It landscape paper size of 30” wide by 23.5” high.

Flip chart paper comes in what are called easel pads. A chart compares pad sizes for various formats. In Europe and elsewhere paper sizes often follow the ISO 216 standard, where the ratio in the Landscape orientation always the square root of two (~1.414), and common paper sizes are A0 (46.8” wide by 33.1” high) and A1 (33.1” wide by 23.4” high). (See the downloadable pdf four-page FACT SHEET SERIES on Paper from the Print & Copy Bureau at the University of Leeds). Curiously, the KING paper size is not the same as ISO A0.  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

My letter to the editor about the Meridian library bond

I wrote a letter to the editor of the Idaho Press-Tribune that was published on October 31, 2016. It was about the upcoming bond issue for the Meridian, Idaho public library district.
It said:

Meridian residents should consider voting for their library bond issue

Ron Johnson’s Oct. 21 letter to the editor, 'More Library Buildings? Why?' and Wayne Hoffman’s Oct. 21 guest opinion 'Big Tax Proposal In Meridian Includes Unneeded Library Projects' offer the silly excuse that people don’t need any more library facilities since there now are ebooks (so people needn’t go there), and anyhow it’s all out there for free on the Internet. Some research would show that’s not right.

Look up the latest fiscal year 2015 Idaho Public Library Statistics report from the Idaho Commission for Libraries. For Meridian, page 41 shows a total physical circulation of 1,063,788 items. The annual electronic materials circulation was just 97,372 — or only 9.2 percent of the physical total. Annual total attendance was 485,102, and just for reference 43,645. For a city of about 90,000, that’s over five visits per person, so people still are going to the library and physically are taking out almost 12 items per person (or roughly one per month).

My opinion is that public libraries are worth expanding. I have lived in Boise, and live in Ada County. I’ve been to the Meridian library a few times when I needed to borrow a book and couldn’t wait for it to come via interlibrary loan. In my Joyful Public Speaking blog I have written a lot about research, such as my post titled Going Around Pesky Periodical Paywalls By Using Databases From Your Friendly Local Public Library.

Richard Garber, Boise”

In that letter I made the circulation figure of about a million items per year relate to residents of Meridian. It is equivalent to everyone in the city taking out an item each month. (In a blog post on July 12, 2016 I had discussed How to make Statistics Understandable).  

Wayne Hoffman had said:

“I grew up in a rural town in Arkansas, where there were no libraries.”

My childhood was far different from his deprived one. I grew up in Pittsburgh, a mile and a half from the main Carnegie Library. It was one of that city’s cultural jewels. Their Science and Technology department had a stellar collection of reference books and magazines, particularly about the steel industry.

When I was a graduate student studying metallurgy at Carnegie Mellon University, I remember finding a reference to an article in a 1918 issue of a Swedish magazine published in Stockholm about iron and steel called the Jernkontorets Annaler. The Carnegie Library had a copy, so I put in a call slip for that volume and waited for it to be retrieved from the closed stacks. A few minutes later I looked with awe at a series of high-magnification optical microscope photos that revealed the branching tree-like structure of pearlite.      


The Meridian library bond was defeated. 59% voted for it, while 66.7% would be required to win.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Proofread carefully - because typos make you look unprofessional

Today I got a good laugh when I read a post by Jane Genova on her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog titled Appearance Is Everything - That Includes Cover Letters because she didn’t follow here own advice. The last heading said (my capitals and italics):

Proofread. A typo makes a bad impression. Usually when we keep editing the LATTER, there will be typos. That means we have to give it one last read.”

The same mistake also appears on a version at her Over-50 blog titled Cover Letters - Appearance Is Everything.

Am image of a woman reading a letter is from a painting by Thomas Kennington found at Wikimedia Commons.