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Friday, December 30, 2005

Yet another reason the British are better than us:

From the British Medical Journal's annual Christmas Cheer edition (full articles are currently free). Also, check out BMJ.com for a "Interventions for preventing and treating a hangover", and "Epidemiology and prognosis of coma in daytime television dramas".

The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute

Objectives
To determine the overall rate of loss of workplace teaspoons and whether attrition and displacement are correlated with the relative value of the teaspoons or type of tearoom.

Design Longitudinal cohort study.

Setting Research institute employing about 140 people.

Subjects 70 discreetly numbered teaspoons placed in tearooms around the institute and observed weekly over five months.

Main outcome measures Incidence of teaspoon loss per 100 teaspoon years and teaspoon half life.

Results 56 (80%) of the 70 teaspoons disappeared during the study. The half life of the teaspoons was 81 days. The half life of teaspoons in communal tearooms (42 days) was significantly shorter than for those in rooms associated with particular research groups (77 days). The rate of loss was not influenced by the teaspoons' value. The incidence of teaspoon loss over the period of observation was 360.62 per 100 teaspoon years. At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a practical institute-wide population of 70 teaspoons.

Conclusions The loss of workplace teaspoons was rapid, showing that their availability, and hence office culture in general, is constantly threatened.

and

Shape of glass and amount of alcohol poured: comparative study of effect of practice and concentration

Objective To determine whether people pour different amounts into short, wide glasses than into tall, slender ones.

Design College students practised pouring alcohol into a standard glass before pouring into larger glasses; bartenders poured alcohol for four mixed drinks either with no instructions or after being told to take their time.

Setting University town and large city, United States.

Participants 198 college students and 86 bartenders.

Main outcome measures Volume of alcohol poured into short, wide and tall, slender glasses.

Results Aiming to pour a "shot" of alcohol (1.5 ounces, 44.3 ml), both students and bartenders poured more into short, wide glasses than into tall slender glasses (46.1 ml v 44.7 ml and 54.6 ml v 46.4 ml, respectively). Practice reduced the tendency to overpour, but not for short, wide glasses. Despite an average of six years of experience, bartenders poured 20.5% more into short, wide glasses than tall, slender ones; paying careful attention reduced but did not eliminate the effect.

Conclusions To avoid overpouring, use tall, narrow glasses or ones on which the alcohol level is premarked. To avoid underestimating the amount of alcohol consumed, studies using self reports of standard drinks should ask about the shape of the glass.

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