Monthly Archive for September, 2018

How large is the broad side of a barn, anyway?

Of course you know the idiom “can’t hit the broad side of a barn” of someone who has poor aim. That’s from 1852.

But how large is the broad side of a barn, anyway? Would you be surprised to learn that scientists have actually worked that out? And why do I know this??

Some time ago, I was trying to find a way to remember my license plate that ends with the letters “FB”. I don’t like a particular social media site so I was googling for other things that use those letters and discovered that it is also a unit of measurement used in particle physics: fb means femtobarn. I immediately chose that as my mnemonic simply because of its nerdy obscurity.

What I want to share here is its ridiculous back story: what the hell is a femtobarn?! Continue reading ‘How large is the broad side of a barn, anyway?’

Achievement unlocked: maintain “inbox zero” for a year

“Inbox zero” means having no messages in your “IN” tray (and keeping it that way). This is not meant to be a goal in itself, but it’s a clear sign of whether you’re staying on top of things, and it lowers the general stress level. That’s remarkably easy with Outlook, even without any fancy add-on gimmicks.

Without trying very hard, I have managed to keep my email inbox at work at zero every day. It’s not because I don’t get any mail – it’s because Outlook makes it so easy to track open tasks with one or two clicks, even when the email itself is moved to a subfolder.

It’s easy enough to clear out the inbox – just dump everything into a subfolder, or just straight up archive or delete it. Gone. Done. See? Yay!

Not so fast – the real challenge is the “keeping it that way” part. Since I joined SDS last year I have enjoyed getting back to using Outlook again instead of Lotus Notes for almost two decades straight, ugh! I am frankly amazed at myself because with Outlook I have finally been able to maintain “inbox zero” all this time. I feel it’s worth sharing my method in the following. Continue reading ‘Achievement unlocked: maintain “inbox zero” for a year’