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Tips for a good holiday, rock audiences thinner, more blasted horns Add to ...

Tips for a good holiday

"Psychologists and economists have looked in some detail at vacations," Drake Bennett writes for The Boston Globe. "… They have advice about what really matters, and it's not necessarily what we would expect. For example, how long we take off probably counts for less than we think, and in the aggregate, taking more short trips leaves us happier than taking a few long ones. We're often happier planning a trip than actually taking it. And interrupting a vacation - far from being a nuisance - can make us enjoy it more. How a trip ends matters more than how it begins, who you're with matters as much as where you go, and if you want to remember a vacation vividly, do something during it that you've never done before. And though it may feel unnecessary, it's important to force yourself to actually take the time off in the first place - people, it turns out, are as prone to procrastinate when it comes to pleasurable things like vacations as unpleasant ones like paperwork and visits to the dentist."

Earth? No worries

"The millions upon millions of gallons of oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf of Mexico every day are a crude reminder of the many ways humans are fouling the planet," Jeremy Hsu writes for LiveScience.com. "… Can Earth survive? The simple answer is a resounding 'yes.' When humans are gone, as the fossil record suggests will happen eventually, Earth will clean itself up and take on yet another new look, just as it has done many times in the past. In many ways, Earth's existence has been tested far more dramatically in the past than by anything humans have thrown at it. From its origins as a giant lava ball to an epoch that engulfed the entire planet in ice a mile deep, this planet has seen it all. Our planet was even purple for a while, scientists say."

Do I look fat?

"Scientists have discovered that the body image a person projects in their own brain is 'massively distorted' and can be up to two-thirds wider than it is in reality. The brain's own 'body model' is also around a third shorter than the body actually is, according to the study at University College London," The Daily Telegraph reports. "Researchers believe the findings could explain why slim women look in the mirror and see themselves as fat. They may also help explain the cause of some eating disorders."

Rock audiences thinner

"Over the past decade, rock stars have become accustomed to lucrative tours making up for a fall in record sales," The Sunday Times of London reports. "This summer, Live Nation, the biggest tour promoter in America, has quietly scrapped nearly 10 per cent of its arena shows as audiences failed to materialize. The phenomenon afflicted not only vintage rock and pop bands, such as the Eagles and the Go-Go's, but also, according to Billboard magazine, 'hot' younger acts such as Christina Aguilera, Ludacris, the rap star, and the teen idols the Jonas Brothers."

When HR is not enough?

"A growing number of [U.S.]companies are offering the services of chaplains in the workplace," Sue Shellenbarger reports for The Wall Street Journal. "Managers say many employees who wouldn't think of calling a therapist or an employee-assistance program will willingly turn to a chaplain. Executives at Tyson Foods Inc., which employs 120 chaplains serving a work force of 117,000, say they believe the service reduces turnover. Other companies contract with chaplain-placement services to handle workplace disruptions that managers can't."

Where credit is due

"South Africans may have embraced the vuvuzela - the horn that, when sounded by thousands of soccer fans, has irritated people the world over - but it's the Chinese who have made them for about 30 cents apiece and shipped them overseas," David Pierson reports for the Chicago Tribune. "Industry officials say about 90 per cent of the world's vuvuzelas are produced in two Chinese coastal provinces: Guangdong and Zhejiang."

More blasted horns

The vuvuzela is not the only horn in a South African fan's weaponry. There is also:

- Kuduzela: This wind instrument, shaped like the twisting horns of the kudu antelope, is larger than the vuvuzela and sounds like a trumpeting elephant. It was banned from the World Cup because it is large and heavy enough to be used as a weapon. However, thousands are being made in a lighter plastic.

- Momozela: It "sounds like a baby crying," says the All Africa news agency. "While many may find it irritating, soccer fanatics love the sound it makes."

- Babazela: The instrument has been described as the "stepchild" of the vuvuzela.

Other sources: The Sunday Times of London, News of the World, The Daily Telegraph

Thought du jour

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort. … The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."

- John Ruskin (attributed)

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