Stuffy Offices Can Halve Cognitive Scores

The best way to tackle a tough task at work may be to crack a window and breathe deep.

Compared with inhaling fresh air, gulping down the stale air found in conventional office buildings can stifle cognitive function by half, researchers report in Environmental Health Perspectives. The finding suggests that improving the performance, productivity, and health of many office workers could be done with just a fresh breeze.

Source: Stuffy offices can halve cognitive scores

Ugh, those dry erase markers need to die.  And cube farms are nothing less than soul-sucking vortexes of seething hatred and broken dreams, sprinkled with shattered aspirations and tears of lament.   Cue up Office Space

Cycling: Why I Pack CO2 Cartridges

I didn’t always ride with CO2 cartridges.

I started riding a commuter frame, and packed a medium size pump that has a rudimentary pressure gauge.  It is medium size – there are smaller and lighter, and there are bigger without going to a floor pump.  But it was too big to go in my back pocket, and the mounting bracket took up the spot that a bottle holder would.

On the recommendation of a bike shop employee, I got a smaller & lighter pump.  It fits in my back pocket, and I still pack it to this day.  But it was on an evening at dusk that I came to understand how underwhelming the pump was.  I was at a local cyclocross event (not a race – no points, no tracking, just fun) when I flatted.  Likely the rear wheel, I can’t remember.  What I do remember is swapping the tubes while watching numerous mosquitoes feasting on me (blame your parents!).  The short stroke of the pump meant that very little volume was being transferred into the tube, and it got more difficult as the pressure in the tube increased.  There was also no locking mechanism, so I had to physically maintain the connection on the valve.  I got enough air in the tube to ride, barely.  It was a squirrelly ride, but luckily a gas station with an air hose was not far.

I promptly the Planet Bike Red Zepplin CO2 inflator.  Unlike some inflators, it has two valves that are worked by hand/finger.  One is for threading onto the valve stem, while the other valve controls the rate of flow.  It’s also incredibly tiny.  Controlling the rate of flow is a huge advantage because there are various sizes of CO2 cartridges, so you can blow the tire off if you aren’t careful.  The size of the tire also matters – smaller the tire, less CO2 you need to reach a desired tire pressure.  There are numerous charts on the internet that provide rough ideas of what tire pressure you can accomplish for the size of cartridge and wheel.  Transferring CO2 into the tube can freeze the valve on the valve stem – having a pair of gloves can help if it proves difficult to remove the inflator using bare hands.  The Zepplin provides a foam jacket for the CO2 cartridge for when it is too cold to handle, but I haven’t found much need for it.  I’ve generally found the Zepplin to make a good seal – I’ve been able to get some CO2 out of a cartridge after months.  I can’t promise everyone will have that experience.

What people usually don’t mention about CO2 for inflation is that it is not air (the air we breath is not pure oxygen).  That means that the tire will deflate as the gas in the tube transfers out of the tube, into the air.  So don’t be surprised if you find a flat tire after a few days.  I recommend deflating the tube of CO2 within 24 hours of inflation, to refill with air.  Who wants to wonder if they need to patch another tube?

I regularly pack two CO2 cartridges, in addition to a pump.  The speed to inflate a tire is good for you, as well as a courtesy to those who are riding with you.

Brain Damage Occurs After 6 Minutes, But the Holding Breath Record is 22?

The air you inhale is ~21% oxygen, and the air you exhale is 13-16% oxygen. Hold your breath for a minute with a blood oxygen meter on, and you find that there is zero change in the amount of oxygen your blood is carrying. Hold for another minute and your blood oxygen level will only drop a few percent. The urge to breath becomes intense very quickly because your body doesn’t actually know the amount of oxygen in your blood. But your body senses the build up of carbon dioxide (CO2)…  As your oxygen level drops, your body starts to restrict blood flow to the extremities and this (not the actual lack of oxygen) is what causes your fingers or lips to tingle when you are extremely out of breath.

Our bodies can also power many systems anaerobically (without oxygen) – your muscles can use more energy less efficiently and with more waste (lactic acid) for quite some time.  The only vital part of you that lacks this ability is your brain. Now all this adds up to the ability to hold your breath for ~8 minutes with proper training…  Some use hyperventilating to suppress the breathing reflex – this is extremely dangerous, and thousands of people drown/die that way every year!

The record referenced is a pure O2 record, where the diver holds their breath after breathing pure medical grade oxygen.  The grade of oxygen doesn’t matter – it doesn’t reduce the feeling of needing to breath at all, it just allows someone to hold breath much longer.

Fun fact: Kids can have breath-holding spells.  They generally grow out of it by the time they’re 5 or 6 years old.  I haven’t seen anything to support it, but I was told that the theory was that the carbon dioxide feedback loop isn’t foolproof at that age.  My brother was far worse – he could trigger a nosebleed when he wanted.  My poor mother…

Study: Crop Change Atmosphere – CO2 Increasing

There’s a lot more to consider when looking at climate change in future models than meets the eye. Yes carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels plays a part, but so can the simple changes in the agricultural practices that feed a growing world. And a new study published this week in the journal Nature reveals that levels of carbon dioxide will likely be on the rise, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, as summer heat and the tail-end of the growing season will spark major crop plants to release CO2 in parts of the growing season.

While the team of researchers from Boston University found that corn, soybeans, wheat and rice are the four leading crops that account for maximum CO2 release in the atmosphere of the Northern Hemisphere, the likely culprit will be corn. And how much could a corn plant affect our planet, you might ask yourself? The researchers revealed that agricultural production is likely to account for up to a 25% surge in the seasonal carbon cycle – far more than what humans are capable of.

Source: How Crops Will Change the Atmosphere of the Future—CO2 On the Rise

Study: Does Guinness Taste Better in Ireland?

After the Institute of Food Technologists asked tasters to sample the so-called “black stuff” in 71 bars, 33 cities, and 14 countries over the course of a year, they gave it an average rating of 74 points out of 100 on the Emerald Isle, about 20 points higher than it got anywhere else. “This difference remained statistically significant after adjusting for researcher, pub ambience, [and] Guinness appearance,” the researchers noted.

Source: Does Guinness Taste Better in Ireland?

Why can’t I be hired to do research like this?