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 one of the directors.  Bret Ratner is directing the episode featuring 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 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.