Geneva, Monday 23 March 2020
I promise to be more upbeat today. Yesterday’s post was a bit glumpsom. It was posted before the evening’s public applause that was, as always, uplifting and gets longer, louder and more inventive by the day. (Can anyone tell us how the equivalent for the UK’s NHS is going?) The highlight was the noise generated by our young neighbours who are music students. We heard this burping sound that sort of belched out a sort of tune; “Sweet Caroline” maybe. Francesco and Marianna had actually manufactured bagpipes from two PVC tubes and a beach ball. Brilliant!
A trip to the Coop this morning was wonderfully uneventful. There was great music to get us hoofin’ around the aisles. This morning’s blast-from-the-past was Cindi Lauper’s “Girls just wanna have fun.” When I got home, there were two pigeons on our balcony having sex. I thought “Attagirl, just have some fun!” Although the flappy-feathery cloacal contact did seem a bit brief.
We decided that over the days we would undertake a deep clean of the apartment. We have discovered what many will already know. It’s hard work! Indeed, it is very good exercise especially mopping the floor. There are websites galore that promote using domestic chores as exercise. But one bit of science in this domain caught my eye. Harvard researchers Alia Crum and Ellen Langer (1) set out to test how we perceive our activities and how this perception can change the outcomes. Specifically, they wanted to test different perceptions of household work as exercise on weight loss. They looked at hotel housekeepers who are generally very active throughout the day. However, 67% of the maids claimed they never took any exercise at all. Measurements of their body fat, waist-to-hip ratio and body/mass index indicated outcomes similar to their perceptions that they tended to be overweight and out-of-shape. The researchers divided the 84 housekeepers into two groups. One group was told how much their daily activities count as exercise; specifically, how many calories were burned for each type of activity they do. The other group received no information and served as the control. The maids were then measured one month later. Those who were told their work counted as exercise lost body fat, body weight, and had better waist-to-hip ratios. Indicators of blood pressure were also improved. Fascinating!
I have a lockdown challenge that might keep you amused for all of two minutes. It’s called the one-letter-film-title-change-game. The rules: take a film title and change, remove or add one letter. You can then have a little chuckle about an imagined fusion of the original movie with it’s new title.
Here’s a few we came up with this morning. “The Jam Busters.” “Barman and Robin.” (Ha!) “Shaving Private Ryan.” “None Flew Over the Cockoo’s Nest.” “Paws.” “Breaking Bald.” “The Mild Bunch.” “Oldfinger.” And for motorcycle enthusiasts in New Zealand “The World’s Fattest Indian.” Go on, give it a go!
Today’s putting match: She wins 1 Up. Stats: Her 18/18 (100%); Him 17/18 (94%.) Overall matches: Golfing Goddess 4; the Mere Mortal 3.
Reference 1. Crum, Alia J., and Ellen J. Langer. 2007. Mind-set matters: Exercise and the placebo effect. Psychological Science 18, no. 2: 165-171.