Who would have imagined that someone would actually look into the origins of booing? The Explainer at Slate magazine did just that:

    While people have expressed displeasure publicly since ancient times, the English word boo was first used in the early 19th century to describe the lowing sound that cattle make. Later in the 1800s, the word came to be used to describe the disapproving cry of crowds.

So, now you know. If you have a bad speaker at a European or South American conference, don’t be surprised if they whistle instead, according to the article. Better yet, I’d get a clip of the speaker to make sure s/he’s not boo-worthy!

Like popping bubblewrap?

June 16, 2006

If so, you’ll love this site (try it in Manic Mode—it’s even more fun. Or you can try to draw pictures in busted bubbles. Excellent time waster all around.)

If you hold international meetings, you might want to take a gander at the 2005 Country and City Rankings compiled by the International Congress and Convention Association. The top countries are the U.S., Germany, Spain, the U.K., and France; top cities are Vienna, Singapore, Barcelona, Berlin, and Hong Kong. By “top,” they mean the countries and cities hosting the largest number of international congresses, according to its database.

It sounds like the airlines are looking to shorten the amount of time we stand, tapping our feet and cursing, as the woman in 31D fusses with her bag and takes forever to tuck her coat into the overhead bin. They’re developing new ways to board that would speed up the process. I love the names—”rotating zone system” and the “reverse pyramid”—sounds like something cheerleaders do, doesn’t it? From Airlines Try Smarter Boarding in Wired:

    “An airplane that spends an hour on the ground between flights might fly five trips a day,” he explains. “Cut the turnaround time to 40 minutes, and maybe that same plane can complete six or seven flights a day.” More flights mean more paying passengers, and ultimately, more revenue.

    Many factors contribute to turnaround time, including baggage handling, refueling and aircraft cleaning. But a 1998 Boeing study shows that passenger boarding plays a significant role.

And if they could come up with a faster way to de-plane, I’d be one happy camper. That seems to take even longer than boarding for some reason.

Nap time

June 13, 2006

For some reason, I keep running across things about sleep. Like these sleep facts: Did you know that “17 hours of sustained wakefulness can lead to a decrease in physical and mental performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 (legally drunk)”? Or that people who spend five or more hours a day at a computer are more likely to be insomniacs? (So that’s my problem!)

But really, it could be a problem, especially since people generally don’t sleep as well on the road (or at meetings—well, not at the meeting, but away from home for one. You know what I mean). Take those already sleep-deprived attendees to a reception and give them alcohol, and you could have a problem on your hands. I don’t know what we can do about it—maybe build in a nap time after the luncheon?—but thought you’d like to know, anyway.

What you see isn’t always what’s really there. Want proof? Check out this very cool optical illusion.

And think about it the next time you sit down to negotiate a contract ;-)

This satire piece, Terror Suspects to Receive Frequent Flier Miles from borowitzreport.com is, well, funny in a sad sort of way:

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today acknowledged that the United States often flies terror suspects to foreign countries to be interrogated by means not allowed in the U.S., but said that the government was instituting a new program by which the suspects would receive frequent flier miles for their journeys.

    Insiders say that the government’s new Terror Rewards™ program may be intended to make the practice of rendering – by which suspects are shuttled from country to country for the purpose of interrogation and torture – more palatable to the international community.

    “With Terror Rewards™, an innocent terror suspect can say, ‘I’ve just been held without being charged for the last two years of my life, but now I’m going to Disneyland,’” Secretary Rice said today.

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