The Positive Man

Is it really possible to change the course of our lives just by thinking?

One of the best bits of running a storage operation such as Admiral is the huge range of people I get to talk with.

Not that I bother or hassle them, you understand.   Many have important business matters to attend to and don’t want to sit around having a natter with me for a few minutes.  They come in, put in or remove something from storage, and they are on their way.

Of course I utterly respect this, but some people do welcome the chance to sit down and talk.

Thus it was that I found myself talking with a long term client who I have watched change and grow over the years.  Not grow in terms of height (obviously), but rather in terms of personality and, if I can put it this way, “style”.

It’s not so much that he wears sharper suits or has his hair cut more often, but rather that he seems much more assured in his life and much happier with himself.  Plus I also know that his business has thrived over the years.

So when the opportunity came along for me to talk with him recently in a relaxed way, towards the end of the working day, I slipped in a comment about how well he was looking, and how good it had been to see how his business has grown.

He thanked me for the compliment – although that made me feel a little guilty for I had meant it as much as an enquiry as a compliment – and then he agreed that yes things had gone well for him over the years.

“Tell me,” I ventured, “what do you put your success down to?  I mean, I see lots of people in business using our facilities.  Some do well, some don’t, some always seem to stay pretty much the same.  Do you have a secret for your success?”

“Actually I do,” he replied, somewhat to my surprise – for normally if I ever try and ask people about their success they tend to be very vague, or put it down to luck, or simple hard work.  “But if I tell you, it is going to sound very weird, and you won’t believe it.”

Now that did intrigue me and I certainly wanted him to continue, so I assured my customer that I would certainly take whatever it was that he was going to tell me very seriously, and I would not doubt a single word he said.

He nodded, thought for a minute, and then continued.

“People get success in life through various different routes,” he said.  “Some are lucky – they are in the right place at the right time.  Maybe they win the lottery.  Maybe they happen to have one idea that just works perfectly.    Likewise some people are unlucky, and suffer a terrible accident which could have happened to anyone but happened to them.

“But a few people believe that it is possible to create your own luck.   And that is what the philosophy of ‘positive thinking’ is about – creating your own luck.   The trouble is ‘positive thinking’ is now a phrase that is often laughed at, because the notion that you can change your luck just by thinking seems ludicrous.

“Curiously though it does work – and it has worked for me, and for many other people I know.”

This really did interest me, for my customer is certainly not a man that you would associate with some vague generalisations or half-baked pseudo psychological mumbo jumbo.  He is a successful businessman.  So was he saying he had achieved all that he got simply by thinking positively?

“It is slightly more than that, but positive thinking is the key.  What many people who don’t understand positive thinking do, is say, ‘All right, I don’t believe it, but I will try it.  I want to win the lottery.   Then they don’t win, and they say, ‘I knew that positive thinking was a load of rubbish’.

“What they should be doing is three things.  First, taking a much more general point, second really believing this is going to work and third giving it time while staying positively focussed on the idea.   After all, if positive thinking gives you what you want in six months, it is still better than never having it at all.   And it hardly takes any effort just to think about it.

“May I ask,” I then said, rather hesitantly, “what sort of things you use positive thinking to get?”

“I focus on the vaguest improvements of all.  I think when I first started, I tried specifics, like ‘I will get this job’, or ‘we’ll sell more than ever before this week.’  But then I read a book on positive thinking and realised what I should be saying to myself was ‘Something good will happen this week.’  Gradually I changed that to ‘Something good will happen today’.   And finally, I got to ‘Something amazing will happen today’.”

“And does it?” I asked, trying to keep the incredulity out of my voice.

“Most of the time, yes.  The something amazing can be different each time, but yes it happens.”

“But how can that be?” I wanted to know.

“Search me,” said my customer.  “Maybe because I do positive thinking, I have a positive demeanour or a positive look, or a I remember to smile more, people find me a nicer person to do business with, so I get more business.  Maybe the positive thinking encourages me to go out into the world more, to listen to people more, to do different things, to take on new experiences, all of which give the option for something amazing to happen.  Maybe it gives me an open mind, rather than a closed outlook on life.

“What I really think is that it just makes me a nicer sort of guy, the sort of guy people like to do business with, because the positive thinking makes me appear more open.

“But here’s the real point.  I don’t mind telling you this, because I know that 99 percent of the people I tell, will never do anything about it.  They won’t change their lives, and so they don’t give positive thinking a chance.   So I guess positive thinking only works for a small number of people – the people who are willing to change their lives by thinking something wonderful will happen, and then allowing themselves to accept the ‘something’ and benefit from it.

“So telling people about it makes no difference because most of them won’t take up the option, thus leaving the tiny minority of us to benefit.

He put down his coffee, and stood.  “I leave it with you.  As I say, only one in a hundred do it, but by and large they are the one’s having a great time.”

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125


The secret

What is the secret of being a brilliant painter, and what’s the easiest way to annoy such a person?

One of the great benefits of running a storage facility is that one gets to meet so many different people.

Of course, I suspect this is true in terms of lots of different lines of business, but over the years I really have felt this is a great bonus in my line of work.

For example, one of my clients is an artist.  As such he draws hundreds of sketches as preliminaries for the art that he finally exhibits in galleries, and, as he explained to me, for many years he just kept them in his studio attached to his house.

That approach was disrupted when he had burglars. They weren’t after his creative works, it seems, but they did turn everything upside down and knocked over various items, destroying a valuable collection of original work.  Not his best works, of course, which were in galleries or had been sold, but still important elements in the development of these works.

As a result he decided to store his sketches, bringing in a new collection of items every few months and adding them to the store.

I have been watching this continue for some time, but it was only recently that I was able to talk to him about his life as an artist. Indeed I had feared that my questions would be horribly naive and might upset my customer through being the sort of thing that everyone asks all the time, but in fact he was most happy to answer me.

“The point,” he said, “is not that people ask how I work, but rather they tell me that they have done some painting or drawing.  Here am I earning my living as an artist and they imply that they could do it, but haven’t really bothered.  As if I were to tell the garage mechanic that I have used a spanner.

“But they are not the worst. The worst ones are the people who tell me their aunt or their grandmother or someone has done a few paintings, and would I like to see?  It drives me mad.  When I go to see someone else’s pictures I go to the Royal Academy exhibition in the summer.  I don’t go and look at the work of a person’s grandmother.”

I sat quietly for a moment and allowed my customer to calm down.  I was interested – but first and foremost he is my customer, and I didn’t want to say the wrong thing which might make him remove his work from my facility.

But then, as is my wont, I pushed on. “I’ve often wondered,” I said, “how an artist like you works.  I mean, how do ideas come?  How do you decide what to paint and what treatment to give it.  I guess above all, my real fascination is what you do each day.  Do you get up at 7.30, have breakfast and settle down to a day’s painting?  Or do you wait for inspiration?”

He looked at me with a quizzical half smile on his face, and I wondered if despite my efforts I had gone too far with my questioning, but eventually he said, “You want to know what the life of an artist is like?”

I said that, yes, by and large that was the question I was stumbling towards.

“Artists,” he told me, “are people who wear funny hats and go to unusual places.”

I looked at him bemused, but then a broad smile broke across this face.  “It really is true – the choice of headgear is not obligatory although most people working in the creative arts do tend to have their own style of clothing.  But going to funny places helps.  And really it is a symbol – we are interested in things beyond the everyday.  Even if we paint the everyday we paint it in a different way with a different vision using different lenses.

“What most artists do – and this applies to poets, painters, writers, actors, composers… what we do is keep our eyes and ears open while everyone else stops seeing the world.  Most people don’t look, in order to get through each day without being worn down by the humdrum nature of it all.  What artists do is look at everything – even pieces of dirt.

“And to do this we go to unusual places, which means above everything else, we go somewhere and then admit much of the time that we are totally and utterly lost.  Some artists then struggle against the situation, but most of us (those who tend not to chop off bits of our anatomy or drink ourselves to death) accept being lost, and then explore the strange country we are lost in.

“I can go for a walk across the fields near my house, where I have been a thousand times before, and still be lost because I see something I have never seen before.

“I have a musician friend who can play the same few bars of music over and over and over.  It drives everyone else in the house round the bend, but I know he is lost in that sound, and eventually out of it will come something new.”

“And is that the key to becoming an artist?” I asked as he paused for breath.

“That and flying in the face of expectation, because if your art gives people what they expect, then it is no longer art.”

And with that he thanked me for the coffee and bid me good day, leaving me perhaps a little wiser, and certainly a lot more bemused.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125


Nerds of prey

How reading the wild ramblings of everyday people on blogs is the cheapest way to get a doctorate in psychology

Although thankfully my regular jottings here have escaped the attention of folk who like to disrupt other people’s ramblings in blogs and newsletters, this is something of a rarity.

A friend of mine who writes a regular blog is endlessly being attacked when he talks about, well, most things.  Football, politics, leaving the EU, cats, religion… anything in fact.

In view of some of the really awful things that are said back to him, I asked him why he keeps at it.

“In fact,” he told me, “writing a blog on contentious subjects has become the simplest way of doing a doctorate in psychology.  If I write a little piece about why Jeremy Corbyn is like a blast of fresh air, then I get this torrent of abuse.  If I write a piece about why it is a good thing that Mrs May should continue to run the country, I get a torrent of abuse.  If I write something about why the Liverpool manager should retain his job, I get a torrent of abuse.  If I write about the need for stronger legislation on sugar, I get a torrent of abuse.  If…”

I managed to stop him at this point fearing he might go on for months with the same theme, and instead interjected a question.

“Don’t you find this all a bit depressing?” I asked.

“Not at all,” he replied.  “It gives me access to the inner workings of these people’s minds which would otherwise take me years to obtain through interviews and even then I would have to get everyone’s permission to use them in my thesis.  But when someone posts something openly on an internet forum such as a blog under a pseudonym, as most of them do, they are effectively giving everyone else the right to quote their words.”

Now I must admit I do follow a few blogs and have seen the sort of febrile rubbish that my friend is referring to, but I still didn’t quite get where he was going with this.   “What on earth do you learn from these rants?” I asked.

“It gives a real insight into these people’s minds,” he said.   “They are revealing their real selves in a way that most people never do in an interview.  Gather enough examples and clear patterns start to emerge.”

I asked for some examples.

“First off, what becomes clear is that for these people, opinion is everything and evidence is nothing.  When a person says that Politician X is a total idiot, that is all there is: opinion.   I have challenged a few bloggers to give me evidence to support their views and the reply (when it comes at all) is ‘the evidence of my own eyes.’

“That is to say, in their world, there is no notion of independent analysis or the gathering of data.  One hears a politician say one thing, or a footballer make a mistake and that is that.  A total judgement can be made.

“One can also of course make judgements based on the way these people write.  For example, as I believe Terry Pratchett once said, ‘Five exclamation marks at the end of a sentence is a sure sign of an unstable mind’.”

“So these people have no understanding of the notion of evidence,” I said, “but that seems a bit harsh as a way of making judgements on their psychological well being.”

“But that is only the start,” my friend said.  “These people lurk on the internet all day and night.  They will read an article that might be quite an erudite exposition of an issue over maybe 1000 words and then reply, ‘Sadly the writer seems to have no understanding of this issue.  ’.

“When I first spotted this sort of phrase I thought that maybe the writer had actually read the piece and really thought it was a second rate work, but then by chance I found him positing this self-same comment all over the internet, no matter what the subject.

“And all this is before we get to those people who get angry with the fact that the article was written at all.  These are the ones who start out by saying, ‘Not another idiotic pro-Corbyn article’, (or whatever the subject matter is) and then say what a total waste of time reading the article was.”

“So why do these people keep reading the article?” I asked.

“Exactly the point.  If you meet someone who watches a TV programme that they don’t like, and then instead of turning the TV off, or changing channels, they start shouting at the TV set, you might wonder about them.   These people on the internet are doing the same thing only to an audience who often shout back.”

“And what do you call these people?” I asked.

“Nerds of prey,” he said.  “Sadly I didn’t think of that phrase, but it is what they are called.”

“And you are analysing their rantings to get your PhD?” I checked.

“That’s right.  The thesis goes in next week.”

Which means, I suppose, a lot of people who have been ranting on line are going to find their words examined by psychologists and used as a basis for considering the way certain minds work.  I wonder what they’ll make of that.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125


It seems that one of the biggest industries in the world of literature is making up quotes from Einstein.

I have a customer who has space in our storage facility for what he calls his Einstein collection – autographs, first editions, rare original copy photographs, letters, lecture notes with handwritten corrections on them – I am sure you know the sort of thing.

As I am not much of a physicist I have not really had the nerve to delve into conversation with my client, but recently over a coffee we finally got to talking, as one does, and I discovered that within the collection is a set of notes on things that Einstein did not say.

“You see the problem is,” my client reported, “that what with Einstein being dead, and much of his work (not to say his handwriting) being impenetrable to the average reader, there is a great temptation for people who want to promote a crazy idea to call upon Einstein’s name as the source.

“One of the early statements attributed to the great man was, ‘If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would have only four years left to live.’  It seems an unlikely statement since the man was not a biologist or an ecologist and besides no one can cite where or when he said or wrote it.  And that’s apart from it not being true.

“Another highly prevalent saying is, ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.’  Again with Einstein not being a psychiatrist it seems a strange field for him to drift into, and likewise no evidence exists that he ever said this.

“Indeed it turns out that even on his own territory, it seems Einstein didn’t say much of what has since been attributed to him.  Even one of his most famous supposed sayings isn’t him either: “God does not play dice with the universe” (a put down of the theory of quantum mechanics).  No one is quite sure who said it first, but it wasn’t Einstein.

“Like many a genius Einstein wasn’t much involved in politics either, and so didn’t say, “International law exists only in textbooks on international law,” a phrase much seized upon by politicians tending away from what the United Nations says.

“In fact when it comes down to it Einstein didn’t even write (or say) E=mc².  He actually concluded that m=L/V².”

Thus, I learned, Einstein seems to have suffered from being one of those men whom everyone wants to have said something that boosts their cause.  I asked for more examples and was given a few.

“’Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart’,” I was told with a shake of the head.  “Or, ‘It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.’  Definitely not Einstein, it seems.

I also learned that some quotes given to Einstein come from sources that one might not at first imagine. “Information is not knowledge” turns up in all sorts of places, with Einstein endlessly quoted, but in this case the source is well known. It was Frank Zappa, the progressive rock musician much beloved by people who thought that it was possible for popular music to have more (or fewer) than four beats in a bar.

Here’s another that arose in our conversation, “Drinking a decent bottle of red wine will help everybody to understand general relativity.”  I actually wish that could be Einstein, my client said, adding quickly, “not that I over indulge, of course.”

“But some of them,” my customer went on, “are actually rather encouraging, especially for people who will never understand Einstein in a million years.  Take for example, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  That can make people feel good.

“And then there is ‘Two things inspire me to awe: the starry heavens and the moral universe within’.”

“So what did he say?” I finally asked in desperation.

“That’s the great irony,” I was told, “because what he said was generally far more inspiring that the sort of things people make up.

“Give me a few,” I urged, anxious to take something positive out of the conversation.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school,” my client said.  “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

“Did he really say that?” I asked.

“Sort of,” came the reply which was, I must admit, a little less convincing a comment than I had hoped for.

As my customer rose to take his leave I asked, “what do you call your collection of things that Einstein didn’t say?”

“General errortivity,” I was told, and I guess you can’t go further than that.

I’m not a doctor but…

Storing things you want is good for you.  Becoming obsessed with keeping things isn’t.  Same with vitamins!

Now I hope you will forgive me if that headline above seems more confusing than most of my headlines (if that is possible) but please allow me a couple of moments to explain.

I run a storage facility and over the years I have tried (among other things) to convey the notion that storage is not just a case of putting things that you don’t have room for, somewhere else.

Storage of the type my company offers has a multiplicity of purposes ranging from keeping original copies of manuscripts as a security against someone else copying your work, to keeping old photographs in an environment that is a lot more conducive to preservation than the average attic.

But, of course, for a tiny minority it can become an issue in itself.  Storing thus is good; too much storing is not so good.

It was that thought that reminded me of a couple of articles I recently wrote here on the topic of popular misconceptions relating to staying healthy.

You might recall (if you are a regular reader) that I questioned the notion about drinking a gallon of water a day, the notion that sugar makes children hyper, and that the occasional detox is good for staying healthy.

All of these have been advocated as medically sound when at best the evidence suggests that they are irrelevant and at worst can lead to all sorts of secondary issues.

At the time I thought that was enough about health, and that it was now time to go onto other topics, but one reader recently reminded me of another great health myth which was actually propagated by a Nobel prize winning chemist without any evidence at all.

This story surrounds antioxidant pills, which are supposed to make people live longer.

Now let me confess from the start that I have a great interest in people living longer, not just because I am a nice guy, and actually don’t go around hoping that people will pass away, but also because some of my clients are of the older variety.  I don’t want to lose them either as friends or as customers.

And so it was when I saw one of my valued customers, not yet properly within the classification of being “older”, taking some antioxidant pills with his coffee.  I asked him what they did.

He explained that the food we eat is self-evidently broken down and used by the body to help us stay alive and well.  But as a by-product some nasty items (apparently called free radicals, although I don’t know why) are released into our systems.  They build up in our bodies and cause all sorts of nasty effects.

But there is a way out – eating vegetables seems to reduce the risk of getting the diseases, so by and large most people who started reading this who have had the occasional carrot will survive long enough to get to the end.

Then Linus Pauling, the Nobel prize winner, said that if antioxidants are good, it must be a good idea for us to swallow pills full of antioxidants.  Especially if we don’t like veg.

It was 20 years before the results of proper studies of this idea came in, and they found that not only did these pills have no benefit at all, but on the contrary, they also increased mortality.  In short quite a few of the people who were taking these pills every day, died younger than might otherwise have been expected.

The reason seems to be our defence against free radicals has nothing to do with vegetables as such.  But rather it is the free radicals themselves which tell the body to build up our own defences.  When the body has its free radicals removed by taking antioxidant pills this mechanism is switched off and the body stops building up defences against poisons.

Worse, since there are poisons in tiny levels within all natural products (vegetables seem to be a particular source) the body needs a solid, working anti-poison agent to keep mopping the nasty bits up.  But for people taking antioxidants, the mechanism for building up our own defences has been permanently removed.

All of which tells us that sudden fads, even if backed up by a Nobel Prize winner, may not always necessarily be the right thing to follow.

On the other hand, storing things for a good reason is not a sudden fad, and therefore is clearly good for you.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125


Strange goings on in Canary Wharf

Why the nation’s economic forecasters have been relieved of their jobs, and why  it doesn’t matter.

Now I don’t have anything particular against bankers and their chums. That is not to say that some of my best friends are bankers. In fact the reverse is true; none of my best friends are bankers.  But I have always assumed that by and large, as with every other industry and trade, there are your good bankers and your bad bankers.  For the last 30 years our country has fallen under the spell of Bad Bankers.

But I must admit I started to look upon bankers in a different light when I recently took a friend on a tour of docklands using different modes of transport.

We used the Docklands Light Railway (the train with no driver), Emirates Airline (the cable car that takes you over the Thames), the standard Underground, the Greenwich Tunnel which allows a gentle stroll under the river from the Isle of Dogs to Greenwich, and the ferry from thence back to Westminster.

In between our travels I decided to take in lunch at Canada Square and it was here that I discovered that bankers in Docklands now have their own free newspaper: The Wharf.

Nothing wrong in that of course – there is all the latest news on the financial district, some sports information (mostly about sports I’d never heard of, but I think these people have a different lifestyle from me), lifestyle comments (ditto) and then, to my absolute surprise a page called Witch of the Wharf.

This was indeed a full page which covered mystical readings and prognostications, although not including, I was sorry to see, anything related to which shares were worth buying pending their rise the following week.

There were, however, lots of tips and hints relating to how one could make one’s particular way in the world as, I suppose, a financial wizard.

Their prime recommendation seems to be to the placing of a lump of fire agate on a business proposal, leaving it overnight (presumably protected by a bevy of armed guards) and then retrieving it (while, I guess, returning the fire agate to the vault).

In case you are not familiar with fire agate it is a gemstone found in Mexico, Arizona and California.  As such it is rather valuable, which is why the notion of leaving it out overnight probably sends shivers down the spines of insurers.

The page also has some rather dubious advice for certain people telling them whom to be aware of and whom particularly to avoid.

Reading all this I began to wonder if there wasn’t some sort of underhand, underworld and quite possibly under the table, financial dealing going on here, the sort of thing that involves shady characters, armed escorts and bank accounts in Panama.

Turning back to my table as our food arrived I then found that the waiter had left me with a leaflet advertising a meeting of the Canada Square coven, and this really did begin to spook me a little.

I do know that we hold a small collection of witchcraft paraphernalia in our storage facility for one of our clients, but I took this in on the basis that none of it was actually real or likely to have any effect.  But if our nation’s esteemed financial experts are getting involved in the dark arts, I wondered whether I should not be questioning what exactly is being stored within.

So I called my customer, and he agreed to pop round to put my mind at rest.

Over a coffee he said, “There is an expression to the effect that economic forecasters only exist to give fortune tellers a good name.”  As I pondered this, he went on…

“The economic forecasting industry has been responsible for more financial disasters than any other branch of the fortune telling industry.  While Gypsy Rose Lee might tell you that you are coming into a large sum of money, or your daughter might meet a tall dark handsome stranger, the economic forecasters predict the route of the entire economy – and always get it wrong.

“Thus following the stock market crash of October 19, 1987, known as Black Tuesday the Venerable Guild of Economic Forecasters gave up their learned studies and took up astrology instead.”

“Does it work?” I asked.

“The results are much the same as before,” he admitted, “but it does mean that the economists get out more and spend less time in the pub at night.  Anyway, in return for giving the banking industry free advice, the astrologers and other luminaries are given space in The Wharf to advertise their wares.”

“Hasn’t anyone noticed that economic forecasting is in the hands of a load of fortune tellers?” I asked.

“I am sure they have,” he replied. “But I think by and large the fortune tellers tend to charge less than economists, and since the accuracy of the results is pretty much the same as it was before, everyone is happy.”

He bade me good day, and I was left pondering.


Storage isn’t just about bringing items into our facility.

 It’s something our bodies do all the time!

I wrote a little note recently about some of the myths that surround food and as a result had several people ask me if my comments to the effect that you don’t need to drink eight glasses of water a day and that sugar does not make children hyper were actually true.

I was, of course, deeply miffed that anyone should disbelieve any of my words, but having at last overcome my bout of miffedness I can return to the theme and say, yes, both were true. The notion that sugar leads to observable hyperactivity in children and the notion that we need to drink all this water, are simply inventions of the fake news industry.

And since I have returned to this theme, in order to answer that point I have decided to go a little further.  This piece of fake health news is, I must admit, one I didn’t know until recently, but it was pointed out to me following the last article – and I’ve checked it out, and again I can assure you, what I write below is indeed true.

The notion that our bodies should go through an occasional or even regular periods of “detox” is a load of bunkum.

What is true is that most of us living in Western societies have lots of undesirable stuff inside us.  There is a truly exciting volume (well, no, actually a rather boring volume) called the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, which is published in the US, which shows that virtually everyone has a body packed with nasty things.  If you think about the poisons, pesticides and pollutants in the atmosphere it is easy to see why.

The notion of the detox in order to get rid of all this seems fairly logical and reasonable.  But beneath it hide two questions: do any of the popular methods of detox work, and even if they do work, do they actually do us any good?

We have inside us things called the liver, the kidneys and a rather nifty operation called the digestive system – all of which are incorporated into the human body in order to help us break down food and get rid of any bits that we shouldn’t have ingested in the first place.

Indeed if one thinks about it for a moment, although industrialisation brought us within reach of many new toxins, there were plenty enough in the environment of stone age people, and for them the walk to the chemist to get a remedy when something went wrong was a bit of a problem (what with there being no chemists).

But the problem arises with some items we ingest known as “fat soluble chemicals” which can take a while to be processed by the body – and so can build up inside us.  They can hang around for up to ten years in many cases.

So, surely it must be a good idea to get rid of these nasties.  And yes it is. But the problem is that doing what the detox diets suggests (such as having a spot of time only consuming liquids) has no effect at all.  Rather boringly the best way to get rid of “fat soluble chemicals” is to stop ingesting them for six to ten years.

And unfortunately, that is not only boring; it is also impossible.

Worse, the notion that one can go on a diet (i.e. have a period of significantly reduced food, rather than switching to foods which are better for you) can actually have the opposite effect than the one you want.  Sudden changes to our diets can raise the level of such things as pesticides in the blood dramatically, which is why many people actually feel far worse during and after a period of attempting to lose weight quickly.  It is also why some people eat so much when the diet is over.

In short, sudden dieting can cause far more problems than the detox programmes claim to be getting rid of.  The reason for this is that the body is programmed to react to sudden shortages of food and drink and to adjust accordingly.

Unfortunately, that adjustment programme was built into us as we evolved several million years ago when food supply was erratic. It was highly relevant then, in the era when food supply could be erratic.  It is not relevant now.  But the adjustment programme is still there.

Sadly, the most common toxic chemicals around in our society (nicotine and alcohol) are the ones that people either can’t give up or return to quickly after giving up for a while.

The only way forward to a healthier body is to get your body weight to an appropriate level by having a balanced diet, taking serious exercise at least four days a week, and cutting out the nicotine and alcohol.  If that seems too much, then start up the exercise regime, cut out the nicotine, and reduce the alcohol.  It’s not perfect but for most people it is good enough.

But, of course there is still a problem with this.  Taking a detox programme for a week or two and then going back to normal just seems so much easier.

Meet the Debunkist

Should we really drink a gallon of water a day, and does sugar make children hyperactive?  I meet the man who knows.

I recently met a gentleman who called himself a “debunkist”.  It was not a title I had ever come across before, so I naturally asked him what exactly a “debunkist” did.

It turns out that he specialises in finding advice that is propagated through the popular media and which is total bunkum. He then writes articles and appears on TV and radio programmes telling people not just that it is rubbish advice but also why it is rubbish.

He takes the whole process very seriously, and indeed I found that he considered himself a modern day equivalent of those great luminaries of the past, such as Galileo and Copernicus, who overthrew the notion that the Earth was the centre not just of the solar system but of the entire universe.

Naturally I asked for an example of the modern bunkum that he debunks.

Settling in his chair he looked me in the eye and said, “Drink eight glasses of water a day.”

I was taken aback. “Is that bunkum that needs debunking or are you giving me advice?” I asked as I carefully removed my plastic cup of coffee from the table and placed it in the bin.  I could see where this was going.

But I was wrong.  “Total bunkum,” he said.  “Everyone now believes they need to drink more water, and thus bottled water has become the most popular drink in many countries including our own, but the eight glasses a day stuff is silly.

“It comes from a leaflet in America in the 1940s that said we should drink a certain amount of water for each calorie of food we take in – but it omits the fact that virtually all food is made up of mostly water.

“Added to which the liquid we need doesn’t have to be pure water.  Tea and coffee contain lots of water.”

“But I thought coffee dehydrates people and makes you lose more water than you drink,” I said, bringing my mug of the liquid back to the table and taking a sip.

“Rubbish!” he announced.  “Even the occasional glass of beer – but no more than one mind – will hydrate you, rather than dehydrate.  And don’t start telling me water is better for you.  As long as you are drinking enough tea, milk, juice, etc, taking lots of extra water just makes you go to the loo more often.

“What’s more there is another myth that says that you are really thirsty long before your body tells you that you are in need of water.  That’s bunkum too.  How would our species have ever survived if the “drink now” mechanism was so laggardy in its delivery of such a vital message? It is the reverse – of course. We get thirsty long before there is a need to replenish our liquids, so that we have time to go searching for the nearest stream to stick our head into.

“Worst of all, drinking lots of water that you don’t need can actually be bad for you.  If you are dehydrated you will get a headache.  If you are getting headaches try drinking more water. That’s it.”

I nodded feeling that this was indeed profound advice. Looking at my watch I realised I had to move on in a moment, but felt I probably had time to hear one more gem from the debunkist.

Upon hearing my request the self-styled debunkist solemnly announced, “Sugar makes children hyperactive.”

“Does it?” I asked naively.

“No of course it doesn’t,” he replied impatiently. “There have been lots of studies in which hundreds of children are given something that might or might not contain sugar and then their behaviour is watched, and no one can ever tell the difference in terms of which ones have had the sugar.

“Even children who are registered by their parents as “sugar sensitive” can’t be found in that sort of test – it is all in their parents’ minds. Parents who think their children are sugar sensitive then watch their children’s behaviour and claim they are being hyper-active, while in fact they are just being… children.”

“So does sugar not affect children?” I asked.

“Obviously it makes their teeth rot, and the level of extractions for children is quadrupling each year because of excess intake of sugar.  And it affects their brains.”

That sounded pretty horrifying so I asked why and how, carefully picking up the sugar bowl from the table and dropping it into the bin.

“In the serious studies done on schoolchildren, it was found that after having a glucose drink most children were able to concentrate better and got better scores in memory tests.”

Carefully picking the sugar bowl out of the bin I said, “so that is the opposite of hyperactivity, isn’t it? It means my memory improves with more sugar.”  I edged my spoon closer to the bowl.

“Not really. The sugar boost from glucose doesn’t last very long.  Better to lay off the sugar and have a well-rounded diet. Fruit is a good place to get sugar.”

I noticed an apple in my bag left over from yesterday’s packed lunch and carefully dusted it down and began munching, nodding all the while in what I thought might be a sage-like manner.

“Perhaps you could give me some more advice next time, once I have taken these notions on board,” I suggested.  As he got up and left he nodded and waved in a manner that I took to suggest that yes, indeed, he might deliver some more debunkificationalism the next time we met.


Boiled Ariel Fog

From Cyan Lotus Out Of Blue Water to lots of things done with uranium

You will know, of course, that one of the most important issues facing our country is the fact that we currently have an ever-increasing number of people who have reached retirement age.  And indeed, despite the fact that the government is trying constantly to contain this by increasing the age at which we can take our state pensions, the number of people reaching the age at which they can take their pensions is still going up.

And I have noticed of late that I am getting a growing number of customers coming to the facility who might well themselves be of a certain age.  And some of them do discuss with me the fact that they are putting things into storage because, having reached that age, they find themselves downsizing their living accommodation (or possibly downsizing their part of their living accommodation) as their off-spring move back into the family home, no longer being able to afford the rents that are now being demanded by the local letting agents.

Of course, what people choose to store with me is their business, and I never interfere but I do on occasion get into conversation with my customers, including, of course, some who have reached retirement age.

For some of these people time is sometimes no longer of the essence.  But that is not to say that such customers are sitting around all day with nothing to do.  While I am sure that such a fate does befall some members of society who have stopped the daily grind of having to go to work, most of the retired people I see find themselves ever more busy.

Some, of course, are helping out with the grandchildren, collecting them from school, doing a spot of baby-sitting and so forth, while some enjoy walking the dog.  But others, as far as I can see, will take on a multiplicity of activities and can end up far fitter than the people who find themselves still in work.

Now these activities are not all physical by any means, and indeed a mix of mental and physical activity is always emphasised by medical people.

And so it was that I recently discovered that one of my older customers not only does his spot of walking with a local group, but he also occupies a small part of every day searching the internet for the whackiest things he can find.

And this week he brought me in print outs of two items, asking me if I would like to choose which was the oddest.

The first item came from Amazon.  Now I must admit I do like Amazon – that is the supplier of all sorts of things by post rather than the river, although I am sure the river is a good place to go as well.

And today, and as my customer pointed out, it seems Amazon has an advert from a supplier of a product priced at £11,895.  Which might seem a lot but does come with free delivery so that is all right.   And there are apparently only two left in stock so one needs to hurry.

“But what is it?” I hear you ask.  Or I would if you were closer by.

Well, it is a SweatEvaporating / Sauna / HealthyUrn / NanoAnion / NegativeIon / FarInfraredRay / Hyperthermia / Fumigate / PulseMagneticField / Porcelain / Underglaze Blue And White-glazed—Cyan Lotus Out Of Blue Water made by Sungao.

Now I know that is a bit of a mouthful so with the aim of being ever helpful I decided to delve deeper and discovered that, “Known as air vitamin, nano anions are dissolved in vapour by healthy urn. Through human lung into bloodstream, nano anions can promote human body metabolism and strengthen physiological action.”

A little later we are told “Healthy urn can fumigate with boiled aerial fog.”

My customer asked me if I had any boiled aerial fog in storage.  I told him I would have to check, and carried on reading.

The advert went on like this for quite a while but I was still left wondering what it was all about, and so I skipped to the end, looking for a helpful summary, only to be told that “After stimulating human body, pulsed magnetic field therapy of healthy urn has regulating function for blood circulation, facial, detox, endocrine and even the whole body.”

Now no one has thus far brought one of these healthy urns into the Admiral storage facility but, apparently, you crawl inside the thing and it makes you better – and prevents senility.

So we had a jolly laugh about that one, and decided that neither my customer nor I would buy the thing until it went on special offer.  But I was keen to add what the second odd thing was that he had found.

Here he handed me a print out of a news page with a quote from President Trump.  I read it and laughed, but didn’t believe it was true. So together we looked it up, and seems it was something the President said.  Here it is…

“We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium. Including some bad things. But nobody talks about that.”

My customer then asked me if I had any uranium in the Admiral storage facility.  I confirmed that as with aerial fog, I did not. We both agreed that was probably for the best.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125



Why we need physical storage

Is there a limit to how much time people will spend on Facebook?

If you are of a certain age and remember the first office computers that were widely available (complete with 5.25” disks) you will readily appreciate just how much more information we have packed into computers as the years have gone by.

And what is rather amazing is that instead of getting bigger, the more information these computers have held, the smaller they get.  So now the average mobile phone has far far far far (multiplied by 10000) more processing power than the computer that was used in the first moon landing.

Of course, that computer actually crashed and the astronauts had to land the craft manually, but even so, if only they had had a Samsung Galaxy they would have landed on auto.  Unless the battery caught fire, of course.

What I wondered, however, was whether this ability to hold more and more and more data in smaller and smaller objects will continue forever.  So in a moment of madness I decided to look up the limit to the amount of data one can put in a memory stick, and whether there is an absolute limit.

The answer I got was


where AplApl is the planck area ∼10−70m2∼10−70m2. For a 1cc1cc volume this gives Smax∼1066Smax∼1066 bits

I have no idea what any of that means, but the long and the short seems to be that there is an absolute limit as to how much data one can squeeze into a chip.  Our technology has been increasing year on year but ultimately we will reach a natural boundary that means we can’t get more information in a specific space.

That could then mean that instead of getting smaller, phones will start to get bigger, and indeed so could computers.

This made me wonder if I ought to increase the capacity of Admiral Storage Facility so that we can then start storing all the things that people can no longer store digitally.

However, when I put this to a couple of colleagues (who maintain the habit of storing copies of their original research with me in sealed and signed envelopes, just to prove that they did the research long before anyone else), they said that I was looking at the wrong question.

Apparently instead of that convoluted set of equations I wrote above, I should have been thinking about Moore’s Law which says that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

Actually I don’t know what that means either, but it has the suggestion built into it that this also can only continue for a set amount of time.

All of this led me to think about Facebook (although now I come to look at this sentence I am not sure why).  Every day (at least according to the web site BrandWatch) Facebook adds 500,000 new users.  Now that is 182 million new users a year.

From this I was just about to work out how long it would be before everyone on the planet had a Facebook account when I also read that 81 million of Facebook’s accounts are fake accounts – that is people pretending to be someone they are not.

Which means that quite possibly the number of Facebook accounts will go on growing forever and it will not be long before we reach the stage that there are more fake Facebook accounts than real accounts.

Now the average amount of time that people spend on Facebook is around 20 minutes a day – but that number is affected by the fact that there are huge numbers of people who have set up a Facebook account but really don’t do anything with it, while there is another group who seem to spend all day on Facebook.

Indeed walking along the pavement near where I live has become a dangerous activity because most of the people walking the other way are looking down at their phones rather than looking forward at where they are going.  (I also read that in some cities traffic light indicators are now being put on pavements to stop pedestrians stepping straight into traffic because of their focus on their phones.)

What’s more, if there is a limit to the amount of data that we can store, with Facebook and Google growing at an incredible speed, there is every chance we will reach that in the near future – at which point everything will stop.

Over a cup of coffee I put this doomsday scenario to one of my customers who seemed completely unphased by the news. Carefully putting his cup back on its saucer (we do have cups and saucers here, not mugs, I like to keep up standards), he looked me in the eye and said, “Why do you think I store things here?”

A fair answer I thought, and one which I shall bear in mind when creating future advertising.

Admiral: for the moment the internet gets full.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125