I’ve replaced the timekeeping battery in the trail cam and now the time stamp is accurate on these photos. The first thing I noticed: Mr. Hedgehog is a man of routine. He leaves his pad a little after 8pm and returns a little after 6am.
Also, is it mere coincidence that two mice appear at 04:20 and a cat at 04:40? (Can you find both mice?)
We don’t have a pet: the closest we get is our BeeHome for solitary bees. (If you’re looking into getting one, I’d vote for the classic version, not the Observer we got. While we’ve seen a bee or two cuddle up in the drawer for the night, none has ever laid any eggs in there.) Researching other ways to provide for wild animals that struggle in urban and suburban areas, I came across several options. Bat lodgings seemed neat, but the bats need two meters of free space beneath their dwelling to launch into flight. A sparrow hotel sounds interesting, but I’m still shying away from drilling through our insulation into concrete to hang it up, because I haven’t figured out how to get it down again easily to clean it. Hedgehog houses, on the other hand, avoid a lot of these problems, so that’s what we built.
And here’s how we did it:
Next, put the thing in the cellar as you mull over getting shingles for the roof and mull over how on earth to make the shingles work. But finally, one fine summer’s day, a day off thanks to it being our national holiday, pull it back out and work on the roof.
So with the smaller volume (just under the ideal 30x30x30 cm) and the missing newspaper floor and the slightly smaller entrance, this HedgeHotel isn’t 100% to spec, but it should still pass muster, if indeed a hedgehog comes looking.
Wish us luck—and a boarder!
Update August 18, 2019: In the meantime, the straw has been moved—twice! We know someone’s gone in there, but was it a hedgehog? Now I’m starting to consider a game camera…
Not me, myself, but our lab has a 1000 kN tensile testing machine. That is the metric equivalent of the 220 kip tensile testing machine shown in this Slow Mo Guys video of a tensile test on a roughly 600 MPa rebar. What did I learn from their video? First, what we do is cool, and second, there is a unit out there called kip, and it’s not for measuring hotel capacity.
This is not a question most people ask of themselves, and those that should don’t think to ask it. It’s left to us parents to wonder: How many Crest commercial brushloads can my kid eat before I should worry about the fluoride? Here’s a calculation to help answer that.
The safety data I’m using is from the 2013 article by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for fluoride. They state that regardless of age and condition, the adequate intake is 0.05mg per day per kg of body weight. For a 20-kg person (44 lbs), that works out to 1mg per day.
How much toothpaste to get to 1 mg? It depends on the toothpaste. Most toothpastes have an indication of fluoride ion content. We have a children’s toothpaste (Elmex) which states 500ppm fluoride ion, and a regular toothpaste (Crest) that indicates 0,15%. Our fluoridated table salt contains 0,025% fluoride. This works out to 2g of toothpaste for Elmex, 0,7g for Crest, and 4g of table salt.
That’s all very well, but few people visualize grams well. For the salt, an online converter tells me we’re looking at 0,7tsp. My not terribly precise kitchen scale indicated that for the Crest toothpaste, it corresponds roughly to one TV commercial brushload; for Elmex, to three such brushloads.
And then there’s tea… which weighs in at anywhere between 1.5mg/liter to 4mg/liter, perhaps even more, depending also on whether your water is fluoridated. AcneEinstein has a more detailed treatment of the tea question, which also links to WHO guidelines that seem to only partially square up with the EFSA guidelines.
The upshot: monitor and train your kids, but don’t freak out if they eat a little toothpaste. And don’t raise them exclusively on iced tea…
LinkedIn led me to an interesting article on teamwork and how to assemble a great team. It’s long (compared to the average internet attention span), but worth reading in full – if you have the time.
For those who don’t, here’s the summary: Personality tests are not enough, nay, they are even misleading, because humans are rarely consistent enough in their actions across time and different social settings for the tests to have any useful predictive power. A pretty good predictor on how well a team will work is what the author calls Factor C, which is in turn made up of three measures of the individual members. Those are fairly simple: People who can read non-verbal communication (body language, eyes, etc.) well strengthen a team, as do women. People who dominate the conversation drag down team performance.
Remember, them be stats. I’m sure you can find counter-examples of great male team-players or women who make teamwork trying. I can without hardly thinking. And the author cautions that the gender advantage may simply be another way of pointing out that on average, women are better at reading non-verbal communication. He also points out that this Factor C matters most in face-to-face interaction, and far less in remote collaboration on projects that can be divided into chunks of independent work.
So it’s all more complicated, as you might have expected, but one thing seems certain: Myers-Briggs stinks.
Usually, WordPress updates work without a hitch. This time, however, the update somehow thought it had to install a new blog, create new blog database tables within my blog database, and show a lousy “Hello World” post instead of the videos I had just painstakingly uploaded. And within two minutes I was getting roughly an e-mail a minute notifying me of my Chinese spammer friends.
Fixing it wasn’t that obvious, so I’m taking notes here as a reminder for future muck-ups. First, I exported my database before updating – a good idea for my peace of mind, but, if I’m not mistaken, not necessary for saving/restoring my blog. (20/20 Hindsight Tip™: empty spam before exporting, that’ll save a lot of MB.) I had to do three things to restore my database to visibility:
In wp-config.php, change the value for $table_prefix from “wp_” to “myprefix_”. (Insert real prefix for “myprefix”.)
In wp-config.php, change the character set to latin1.
In the newly restored admin panel, change the permalink settings first to default and save the change, then change back to my custom permalink structure (I was smart enough to copy-paste the custom bit beforehand).
Finally, I also deleted the new tables that the new installation had created, which took care of the spam comments in a hurry. And WordPress had to update my database when logging in after step 2, which made my heart skip a beat, but that worked fine.
I do wonder if the update hiccup came from being logged in to the admin panel and the hosting service at the same time, but that seems strange. It’s the only distinction to previous updates, however, that comes to mind.
TED talks take around 20 minutes, and you’re welcome to watch the talk in its entirety, but for my own benefit I’ve jotted down his four steps for learning a new skill here.
Deconstruct the skill: break it down into pieces and practice the most important ones.
Learn enough theory to self-correct, and then start practicing as soon as possible.
Remove barriers to practicing (distractions, “activation energy,” etc.).
Practice for at least 20 hours total: this commitment helps overcome frustration.
Adam Leipzig is another guy who’s held a TED talk that I’ve watched. His is half the length of Josh Kaufman’s, which gives him a leg up. His contention is that the happiest people focus outward, on serving others, and he suggests thinking about the following set of questions:
Who are you?
What do you do? Put differently: what is the one thing you feel supremely qualified to teach people?
Whom do you do it for?
What do those people want and need, and how do they change as a result of what you do? (This question forces me to be outward-facing in my reflection.)
Once you’ve gone through these questions and answered them to your satisfaction, Leipzig suggests changing your answer to the ubiquitous question “What do you do?” from a description of your job to a description of how others change as a result of your work. So, for instance, replace “I head the metallography lab in a steel mill” with “I make sure our customers have reliable data for their safety-relevant car parts” or something along that line. It’s still not perfect: the “change” component is still missing, so I’ve still got some work to do…
Over on sursumcorda’s blog, there’s a post about noticing the numbers we read. I’ve recently noticed wrong numbers in two otherwise excellent books – errors that I think are frequent enough that mentioning them here won’t hurt.
The first instance comes in “Switch,” the Heath brothers’ fascinating examination of what helps and what hinders change both in personal and organizational practice. In their tenth chapter, “Rally the Herd,” they discuss how apt reporting of peer behavior can be used to spread proper behavior. They tell the story of a review time turnaround at a peer-reviewed journal called MSOM:
When Gerard Cachon took over MSOM, most peer reviews were taking from seven to eight months… …Cachon announced that MSOM would review papers within sixty-five days – that was 72 percent faster than its previous average!
Now, the 72 percent don’t appear out of nowhere: 65 days are roughly 28 percent of seven to eight months, so it’s correct (albeit oddly accurate) to say Cachon wanted to reduce the average review period by 72%. However, “faster” implies speed, not duration: and then the Heath brothers understate their case. The original review cycle ran at a speed of about 1.6 reviews per year; Cachon wanted to raise the speed to 5.6 reviews per year. The difference – 4.0 reviews per year – is a whopping 250%!
Of 113 chief executives for which we have data in the visionary companies, only 3.5 percent came directly from outside the company, versus 22.1 percent of 140 CEOs at the comparison companies. In other words, the visionary companies were six times more likely to promote insiders to chief executive than the comparison companies [emphasis theirs].
While it is true that 22.1 is roughly six times 3.5, that factor represents the relative likelihood of hiring an outsider, not of promoting an insider. For insider promoting, the factor is far less majestic: 96.5 percent is only 1.2 times more than 77.9 percent, making the visionary companies only a good fifth more visionary than their peers…