Confluence Culture

Wall of light

Posted in Uncategorized by oliverhulland on November 20, 2011

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Posted in Uncategorized by oliverhulland on November 18, 2011

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Standing Desk: Week 2

Posted in Uncategorized by oliverhulland on January 20, 2010

Standing 8 hours at work probably seems like misery to most people who sit at a desk all day. I have heard people relate to me that their feet hurt after standing for an hour. So it is with some surprise that I can report that switching to a standing desk is virtually painless. I have experienced absolutely no negative side effects since switching over a week ago, and I would argue that it has improved my posture, my focus, and how I work.

The first thing I read about when researching standing desks is that it will cause lower back soreness and foot pain. While I experienced mild discomfort in my heel for a few hours last week, that has all but subsided now. Without  consciously realizing it my body has adapted several ways to deal with the experience of standing up for so long: shifting weight from left to right, standing on one foot, taking a wider stance, walking more around the office, and taking the occasional 5 minute break while sitting down.

I no longer feel sluggish at the office, and if this article in the LA Times about sedentary behavior has anything to say about how we live than there may be some significant health benefits outside of improving focus and managing energy levels.

What I must reiterate though is that everybody is different. I am 23 years old with relatively little wear and tear on my body. If I was 40 and had significant back pain I don’t know if the switch would have been as easy. In addition to being young, I started a fairly rigorous workout routine about 3 months ago that has supplemented my muscle development. No doubt this has influenced my body’s ability to adjust to standing, but how  this has influenced how much pain or soreness I experience is questionable.

Finally, at the same time I switched to a standing desk I also switched to wearing Vibram Five Fingers, a minimalist shoe that mimics walking barefoot. These factors all lead to this experiment being incredibly unscientific. I haven’t controlled any variables and so I can’t say with any certainty that the standing desk alone has improved my work experience. All I know is that I am now a happier more productive person at work.

Despite not being terribly scientific, I do believe standing at work has been more than a worthwhile change, and I would whole heartedly recommend people give it a try.

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Crying Wolf: Or How Photographs Lie

Posted in photo, Uncategorized by oliverhulland on January 20, 2010

This photograph by Jose Luis Rodriguez won the Veolia Environmental Wildlife Photographer of the Year. But it seems even photographs don’t tell the whole truth as he is being stripped of the award due to the possibility that the wolf in the picture was a trained animal.

More information here and from the BBC here.

Ear Irrigation

Posted in Uncategorized by oliverhulland on January 15, 2010

Or the weirdness of having hyper-acute hearing abilities immediately after warm water is shot into your ear at a hundred miles an hour.

I swear I can hear individual hairs talking to each other while my beard sounds like it is screaming as it brushes the fleece on my jacket.

Does the brain help the ear over compensate when it is clogged up? How does that work? Does that mean we could all have super human hearing abilities if we just walked around with cotton balls in our ears most of the time? Taking them out only when we needed to hear somebody whispering under their breath a hundred feet away?

How has the internet changed the way you think?

Posted in Uncategorized by oliverhulland on January 14, 2010

John Brockman’s yearly salon in Edge poses a question that occupies a lot of my time whether I like it or not. Every hour I spend surfing the web or perusing Reader is an hour where I have to grapple with this question. Not surprisingly, the 170 answers Brockman received from some of the worlds most interesting characters are well worth the hours it will take to get through them all.

So far, my favorite is Clay Shirky’s response.

More here

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My favorite graph

Posted in Uncategorized by oliverhulland on January 14, 2010

This is the graph that makes my job meaningful. More here.

Things I didn’t think were possible: auto-appendectomy

Posted in Uncategorized by oliverhulland on January 13, 2010

Leonid Rogozov’s story is a testament to humanity’s ability to survive. The Russian doctor, feverish with appendicitis, decided to perform the appendectomy on himself at an Antarctic Russian base cut off from the rest of the world because of the extreme weather during the Polar winter. Next time I feel like complaining about work I am going to remind myself that at least I don’t have to cut myself open and remove an enlarged and totally useless organ during a blizzard on the most inhospitable continent in the middle of 6 months of complete darkness.

A highlight from one of the Russian’s who stood by and watched:

When Rogozov had made the incision and was manipulating his own innards as he removed the appendix, his intestine gurgled, which was highly unpleasant for us.


Read the whole story here.

Discovery of the Week: How to properly eat a kiwifruit

Posted in Uncategorized by oliverhulland on January 12, 2010

Eating kiwis whole. Also known as eating them with their skin still on.

It’s tangy and delicious. And you don’t notice the fuzziness.

Also, they aren’t originally from New Zealand. In fact, they are from China and were called Chinese Gooseberries but because of marketing difficulties during the Cold War had their name changed in American markets.

Here is a list of rough translations from Chinese:

  • Macaque peach (獼猴桃 Pinyinmíhóu táo)
  • Macaque pear (獼猴梨 míhóu lí)
  • Vine pear (藤梨 téng lí)
  • Sunny peach (陽桃 yáng táo)
  • Wood berry (木子 mù zi)
  • Hairy bush fruit (毛木果 máo mù guǒ)

Another gem from Wikipedia:

The kiwifruit skin is edible and contains high amounts of dietary fiber. In a fully matured kiwifruit one study showed that this as much as tripled the fiber content of the fruit. In addition, as many of the vitamins are stored immediately under the skin, leaving the skin intact greatly increases the vitamin cconsumed by eating a single piece of kiwifruit when compared to eating it peeled. As with all fruit, it is recommended that if eating the skin, the fruit be washed prior to consumption.

Standing Desk: Day Two

Posted in Uncategorized by oliverhulland on January 12, 2010

So I mentioned that I would update y’all on the conversion to a standing desk, so here goes.

In terms of helping me manage my daily energy levels it is a complete success. I feel more awake, have more energy, and in general just feel more attentive and focused. It seems that just by standing I am more aware of what needs to get done. It’s kind of hard to explain but I think it has something to do with the complete lack of effort while sitting as compared to the minimal (but sustained) effort of standing. There is just a greater sense of environmental awareness that helps me keep track of various goals throughout the day.

One of the most noticeable differences has come about from being able to see who is coming in and out of our office. Throughout the day people come in to ask questions about energy efficiency or how to apply for certain rebates, and by standing up at a desk the process of greeting has become that much easier. I can clearly see the front door (that was previously blocked by my computer screen), and so I believe I am now in a much better position to react to anybody who comes in.

Another benefit I hadn’t expected is how it helps me interact with colleagues. When people go to get coffee or are walking out they are much more likely to stop and chat while I am standing. I haven’t moved one foot from where I was last week so it isn’t because I am in a new location. I believe that by standing I have just made myself far more approachable (which is a good thing as long as these new social calls don’t become distracting).

In terms of the downside of standing desks I have yet to come across one significant enough to make me reconsider. Yes, your feet will get sore, but that’s why we have two of them. I switch how I stand every few minutes to take pressure of a given foot. And if that doesn’t work I take a quick walk around the office or outside for a breath of fresh air. My back doesn’t hurt, and there is no noticeable fatigue from standing all day. In fact, sitting at lunch was amazing because I think it signaled my body that I was no longer working and could finally unwind for a bit.

And in case you think that I might be lying about it make me feel energetic, after work I did a full 50 minutes of spinning followed by weight lifting and a 2 mile run (not something I would want to do if I was tired after work). Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever go back to a sitting desk unless there is something very specific that has to be done while sitting.