R-Values do not reflect reality


So this is really interesting. This company constructed two identical boxes, one with Glutex wood fiber insulation rated at R-5.7 and one with XPS foam insulation rated at R-10 and monitored the internal temperatures over a month. And if you are still reading you’ll probably guess what happened, the Glutex wood fiber insulation performed better, even though it is almost half the r-value of the XPS foam!

Part of the issue is how the r-value is determined:

Standard tests for R-value use a steady-state temperature (ASTM 2018), but our enclosures exist in a world of highly variable temperatures. Furthermore, R-value tests typically only include conductive heat transfer, missing any influence of radiant heat transfer, and are conducted under unrealistic conditions, such as 50 degrees F at the interior with 100 degrees F at the exterior (Bailes 2013).

This scenario actually happens almost all the time. Someone notices a difference in how things perform (in this case insulation) and comes up with a way to measure the difference (the r-value). This method of measuring the difference is almost always optimized to be cost effective to test which means it usually is quick to do and/or is based upon a limited number of variables. (i.e. testing at a steady state temperature, ignoring radiant heat) Based upon this new way of measuring the difference, companies come up with new products that are optimized for profit based upon that measurement (i.e. highest r-value/inch) and given enough time, these products take over the marketplace, even though they do very poorly outside of the test conditions.

Another great example of this is Polyisocyanurate insulation which has the amazing feature of being less effective at resisting temperature the colder it gets!

Why time management is ruining our Lives


Here is a great article on the other side of time management. I’m a huge fan of the productivity movement but it’s good to read something like this once in a while to provide some context to what we are deciding to do when we focus on productivity as our top priority.

Think about what you could do

Thinking about what you should do narrows the options down, instead try to think about what you could do in this situation to widen the potential options and come up with better solutions.


A year of progress

A year ago (2018-01-11)
Last week (2019-01-09)

It’s pretty amazing what can get done in a year! We went from a dirt path to a two storey space.

Self Control Psychology Myth

Interesting article on self control.

The paper stumbled on a paradox: The people who were the best at self-control — the ones who most readily agreed to survey questions like “I am good at resisting temptations” — reported fewer temptations throughout the study period.


Landscaping Underway

Landscaping underway at my Montcrest School project. The sidewalk has been widened based upon the City of Toronto’s requirements and there is a substantial amount of permeable paving going in to deal with the storm water on site. Photo taken on 2019-01-09.

Miserable staff don’t make money

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/nov/05/firms-switched-four-day-week-increase-efficiency-health-happiness

Article about how some companies are moving to 4 day work weeks. And not 4 ten hour days, just 4 normal days and still earning the typical 5 day salary.

The company began with a six-week trial and found that they achieved just as much – and there were even signs of growth. The key to the scheme’s success, Leigh says, is how happy his employees now are. “There are two ways to make money in my line of work,” he says, “retain clients and get new ones. Miserable, tired staff can’t do either.”

Price is also concerned by the sentiment behind the movement, which he says is, in part, “the assumption that work isn’t good, so you should do less of it”. He points to the phrase “work-life balance”, which “implies that life is not work”, and argues that rather than concentrating on the quantity of work we do, we should focus on the quality.

For Peebles, the time is right to reassess. “Business is different today than 30 years ago, when I couldn’t send an email, couldn’t shop online, had to use a fax machine. So why are we working the same way?”

The Long Game

How much of your success do you attribute to luck? This article makes the case that a lot of success comes from playing the long game and making regular investments in yourself. Worth the read.

How To Design Workplaces For Humans, Not Generations

Here is a great article from Work Design Magazine on how to design your work space based upon the tasks being performed, not the age of the occupants.

One of the most interesting takeaways that came out of analyzing these Workplace Archetypes was that they crossed lines of age, tenure, and title throughout the organization. Instead, what differentiated the Workplace Archetypes were the roles, responsibilities, and tasks of individuals and departments. 

Meredith McCarthy

HBR: A 4-Step Plan to Make Your Q&A More Audience-Friendly

Here is an interesting article from the Harvard Business Review with a helpful framework for presentations. The title of the article is targeted at Q&A sessions but I found the content to have a wider application than that.

Despite how effective interviews can be in theory, however, they are often difficult to execute in practice. As a result, audience members are often left feeling disengaged and unsatisfied while guests struggle to inform and engage in a way that resonates.

A good Q&A invites the audience into the experience.  Two effective ways to do this are by (1) using inclusive language and (2) polling the audience.

link: https://hbr.org/2018/09/a-4-step-plan-to-make-your-qa-more-audience-friendly