Friday, July 31, 2015

Ron Howard, Paul Giamatti, and My Dad

What do they have in common?

Well, Ron Howard was one of the producers of National Geographic's "Breakthroughs," coming to the National Geographic channel in November.  Paul G. is narrating.  My Dad, John Schenck, (who, it must also be noted, is the dad of my brother and sister as well) will be featured in one of the six episodes for his work as a pioneering scientist in MRI.

We've always been proud of our Dad, of course. But now he's going to be on a fancy TV show and, well, let me tell you, let's talk about reflected glory. Kidding (sort of).  Actually, he's a got a great life story of dairy farm boy to the heights of science (not sure if they're telling any of that) and his work has probably made a difference in your life. You'll find out all about it this fall.

Here's the trailer.  There are just a couple of pictures in it of my dad (one shot of a silent guy in tie, another of a guy looking at a big brain) but if tune in this fall you'll see a lot more. I daresay the other scientists featured might also be kind of good at what they do.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Stanchion Workstation: Coming Soon?

Designers Tout Benefits of Employee “Stanchions”

Employers Agree

Space saving, production enhancing
Office workers may soon find a piece of equipment standard in dairy barns adapted for human use and incorporated into their own workspaces.

The designers responsible for the widely-used “open office environment,” which features low-walled cubicles arranged in “pods,” have designed an even more space-saving and employee-production-enhancing office model.

“Square footage comes at a premium in today’s office buildings,” said Gerhard Voldemort of Germany’s VolksBüroWerks. “Phones and computers are much smaller now. It’s time for the desktop to be re imagined. It should be much more compact.  A surface no wider than the average person’s width, calculated with arms akimbo, is more than adequate. Also, these new workstations can be arranged in simple, straight lines. We estimate that this new configuration will quadruple the number of employees that can be accommodated with no addition of floor space.”

Distraction Reduction Measures

The new workstations also include soundproofed side panels and a heads-up computer display that will occupy the entire field of vision of the user.  “Many of us older people remember with fondness the phone booths of yesteryear,” Voldemort said, “an island of privacy in a minimum of space.  That’s what we’re going for with this design: cozy, friendly, and ergonomically correct. It goes without saying, of course, that all our stations will be designed for standing as we now know that sitting equals death.”

One controversial aspect of the VolksBüroWerks design are the optional “focus enhancement” features.  These include foot straps and a “focus halo.” 

“Recent psychological studies have found that gentle pressure about the head increases eye-time on computer screens by as much as 78 percent,” Voldemort said.  He added that the foot straps are not designed, as one critic suggested, ‘to trap employees in these upright caskets’ but to prevent harmful “shifting.” “Shifting weight from foot to foot has a negative impact on focus and proper ergonomics,” Voldemort said, adding that the focus features are “a perfectly natural, non-chemical approach to enhancing employee productivity.”

VolksBüroWerks also recently announced that a nose-operated food pellet and water delivery system will be available as an upgrade on the stanchion units by early in the new year.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Now, In Other News

Hello Earth!

Sorry I've been away so long. When I started this blog in 2006 I'd never heard of Facebook or Twitter. They are the enemy of ye olde blogge.

 I do have a soft spot, however, for the Last House.  In fact, I spent a pleasant day-and-a-half there this week cutting grass.  This is what it looks like in the back fields just now. Those hills in the distance are in Quebec (which is why, for you uninitiated, I call it the Last House.  It's the last one in the USA at that particular point in America).

Nice, no?

It's June!

Though I waste most of my time on social media these days, I have been doing a little writing from time to time.  I'm working on the sequel to that book I've been going on about for years - but it's hard to write a book, and long.

When inspiration strikes for something offering more immediate gratification (like a tweet or a Facebook update) I fold up like a cheap umbrella.  Occasionally, I write something that falls in between 140 characters and a novel.   I started following a funny women's web magazine called The Reductress this spring and one day I gathered up my own ideas for some Reductress stories and pitched the editors.

They didn't like any of them. So much for gratification. 

But when I have let rejection stop me from foisting my writing on the public? Never, that's when.  

So, rather than leave all this comedy gold sealed up in  my Macboook, here it is for your reading enjoyment.  Thanks for coming by. 

Reductress Headlines, DOA, Revived Here:

Local Mom Finally Admits Go Pro Purchase was “Waste of Money” 

“All I’ve managed to get are videos of my own confused face,” says Shelly Jenks, 47. I can’t figure out how the hell to erase them. Neither of my kids can be bothered to learn how to use the damn thing and it has provided zero motivation for them to do fun sports anyway.

UK Researchers Locate Kate Bush Receptor Gene

Yowling cat or shimmering genius? There’s a basis in biology.

Paul of “Paul’s Pickin’s” Announces Restaurant Re-Branding Contest

“Every one knows I didn’t mean that kind of “pickin’s” said Paul Steptoe, a native of Tennessee. Steptoe says his dream of introducing “alt hillbilly” cuisine to Brooklyn has been sidelined by the fact that his restaurant has a gross name.  “You would think the very obviousness of the jokes would make people embarrassed to make them.  But no. I overestimated my potential clientele.”

Amy Poehler Coming to Terms With Fact that Tina Fey’s Book was Just Better Than Hers 

A source close to the pair says this has been a no-go area for months.

BRCA Gene Mutation Holders Enjoying Jolie “Prestige Bump” 

“I’m not saying I’m actually related to Angelina Jolie, said local woman and BRCA gene support group founder Lana Joseph, “but we do have the same gene mutation, and the same eyebrows, so who knows?“

[Lest you think that last one is just in terrible taste I have the BRCA2 mutation myself and I'm OK with a BRCA joke, obvy.]

Here's another Last House picture as a reward for reading to the bottom.

Maisy likes it there too

Monday, March 09, 2015

On My Way to the University Library...

True story...  (UVM = University of Vermont).

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Also Like Neil Diamond and Filet o'Fish Sandwiches

The new couch has arrived.

We're one step closer to living like the people on that space ship in Wall-E:


What can I say?  If cupholders and power-reclining home theater seating is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Free Gift

I like music from the 1920s.  Also, I had a great Aunt called "Margaret" who ruled the roost for the first half of the twentieth century.  (She was a school teacher from Indiana.  She never married.  She kept on eye on things.  You get the idea).  My grandmother finally relented and named her sixth girl child "Margaret" after this formidable sister-in-law.  ("Someone had to get stuck with the name," my beloved Aunt Margie told me).  My brother now has a little girl, also christened "Margaret" but who is known by all as Margie.  So, I have at least four reasons for me to love this fun old number, linked below for your listening pleasure.  I hope you'll like it too, however many Margarets you have in your life.

Black Magic