Snow in London two weekends in a row was a lovely impromptu present. It brought out some creative folk who deemed snowmen terribly passé: instead there were creations like a “Snowasaurus” and a giant turtle. Then as if being a leap year wasn’t enough, February this year decided to give us early sightings of spring with daffodils in bloom.
1. What do you think has more of an influence on our health and longterm happiness: conditions under which we were born with or decisions we make in mid life? Happily, a study had shown that we may indeed have more say in destiny.
The study of normal adult development at Harvard, one of the longest studies at 74 years, has shown some surprising and obvious answers. It turns out that having a difficult childhood matters a lot in early adulthood but less so as the years go by. Education is more important in determing life success than income or social status. The big revelation to have come out of the study so far is that your situation at 50 is a bigger indicator of your health and happiness at 70 than the earlier years.
2. I once saw a documentary on Pixar, the animation company that made some of my all time favourite movies including Toy Story (1, 2 and 3) and Up. From great fun, open spaces to employees using kick scooters to get from one department to the other, it seems like a wonderful place to work. Silicon Valley has always had a long tradition of being geekily cool, which is probably what keeps their creative juices going. Therefore it should come as no surprise that companies like Google and Twitter offer their employees acupuncture as “antidote to staring at computers all day” and to benefit wellness.
4. A chain of restaurants in the States has come up with a limited edition milkshake… bacon-flavoured. Yes, it left me speechless as well.
5. Finally, do you get enough sleep? A look at the most sleep-deprived and well-rested occupations in the US shows that there isn’t much much difference between the most rested and the most sleep-deprived: they still get less than the recommended 7-9 hours).
The events of the past few days in London (and now in the rest of the country) have been shocking and alarming. It has been somewhat disconcerting to see how ill-informed I was. From being a news item over the weekend it quickly became a lot more real when I went to the local supermarket and found it closed. Tesco closed on a late Monday afternoon? My brain immediately thought there had been a fire alarm but no, it was to remain shut.
Twitter was the source of information for me that evening and later on into the night. After getting the latest update from BBC when I got home, I made the conscious decision to turn it off and only allow written liveblog updates. Much later in the night it became clear that people on Twitter were not always factual and tweets about this and that on fire were just rumours. Sirens were ringing in the darkness and helicopters raged overhead (although these were most probably news helicopters).
Overload of information does nothing to help the situation, instead I believe it increases the stress and panic for the individual. Images have such a higher impact than what our brains could ever see with the written word and that is why I disagree with today’s 24 hours news channels that play five minutes of footage on a loop. I only read enough to stay informed and no more. I don’t want to be crippled by fear or consumed by anger. I generally enjoy the banter and information on Twitter but I eventually turned that off as the graduation from shock to anger to harshness to blame to jokes just didn’t seem right.
Many people seemed unable to tear themselves from their TV screens and computers and smartphones and became increasingly jittery. The next day heart-warming news came through of the cleanup teams in different neighbourhoods. I was greeted by a quiet high street that had left every single independent shop unharmed, although most were in the process of boarding up their windows as a precaution. Some shops looked unrecognizable without their usual display of fresh fruit and vegetables that often spilled out and covered half of the sidewalk.
It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday and yet in my part of London, things were eerily quiet save the few children playing right outside their houses. At 6:24pm I heard the ice cream van pass by with his little jingly-jangly tune and it was the most wonderful sound.