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Leisure sickness, bloodsuckers' favourites, wrong-footed Add to ...

Leisure sickness

"Can't slow down? Even on vacation? You've got plenty of company," Melinda Beck writes for The Wall Street Journal. "Only 53 per cent of working Americans say they come back feeling rested and rejuvenated after vacation, and 30 per cent say they have trouble coping with work stress while they're away. … Attempting to relax even makes some people sick. Some 3 per cent of the population suffers from 'leisure sickness' when they go on vacation." For some people, the withdrawal of stress can be similar to withdrawing from steroids - including changes in glucose metabolism and dramatic mood swings, says Conor Liston, a psychiatry resident at Weill Medical College in New York, who was the lead investigator of a brain study on stress. Ms. Beck adds: "Other people get so addicted to the adrenaline rush from stress that they gravitate to high-pressure jobs and keep piling on new challenges; some subconsciously push deadlines and complicate projects, creating stress unnecessarily. Put someone like that on a beach for a week, and it's no wonder that they can't relax. For them, the best vacations involve physical or mental stimulation, anything from hang-gliding to culinary classes."

Retire? What for?

As early retirement appears to be on the upswing, a new study investigates the factors that precipitate the decision to leave the work force, Psych Central News reports. Researchers discovered poor health is the most important reason why workers decide to take early retirement, but factors such as high work pressure and low job satisfaction also play a role. The study is reported in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Added support and changes in leadership style might help to delay retirement in highly skilled older workers, according to the study by researchers at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Lub-dub, lub-dub, it's me

The beating of your heart could soon be used to unlock mobile phones and other electronic devices, under plans revealed by computer giant Apple, The Daily Telegraph reports. "A patent application filed by the California-based computer manufacturer has revealed that the firm is developing heartbeat sensors to put into portable electronic devices such as the iPhone. While the technology in an iPhone might be used simply to monitor the heart rate of people such as cardiac patients, the patent states that it could also have wider uses such as allowing the owner to unlock the phone or authenticating financial transactions. Apple claims that placing the device in a jacket pocket could enable it to detect the unique electrical patterns produced by a user's heart. … Subtle difference caused by heart size, heart rate and muscle strength can produce unique electrical patterns that distinguish individuals."

A senior moment?

Police in Hampshire, England, were called in to guard an unlocked main-street bank after a member of the public found the door open, Orange News U.K. reports. Officers were called to the HSBC branch in Tadley and remained on guard until the key holder arrived, according to a report. Police said everything inside the bank appeared to be in order and nothing had been taken. A police spokesman said: "There was nothing suspicious about it apart from the fact that the door was open."

Bloodsuckers' favourites

"Mosquitoes find some people tastier than others," Anahad O'Connor writes for The New York Times. "But a widespread notion is that women, to mosquitoes at least, are the sweeter sex, supposedly because estrogen is a strong attractant. In reality, gender does play a role, but not in the way most people think. As one report in the Annals of Internal Medicine pointed out, men are more likely to be attacked, primarily because of their greater body size. 'Larger persons tend to attract more mosquitoes,' the study said, 'perhaps because of their greater relative heat or carbon dioxide.' " A study of pregnant women and their non-pregnant counterparts found that the pregnant women attracted twice as many mosquitoes. Such women exhaled more carbon dioxide and had higher body temperatures, allowing mosquitoes to detect them more easily.


Responding to a Social Studies item about the origins of soccer (Why call it soccer? June 14) Mervyn Fox of London, Ont., responds: "The Americans had nothing to do with it. It is an example of the late nineteenth century Oxford and Cambridge slang usage of ending abbreviated terms in '-er,' as in 'Maggers Memogger' for the well-known Martyrs Memorial in Oxford. Charles Wreford-Brown is usually credited with the coinage 'soccer,' … Soccer was also often known as 'footer.' "

Thought du jour

"Good and quickly seldom meet."

- George Herbert

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