Poochie Power

It’s a happy day when a lost dog finds its way home, but how does it get back? A New York Times article offers two explanations:

It could be that a dog’s hypersensitive sense of smell allows them to create a map
of scents around their neighborhood, using gardens or grocery stores and human aroma as markers.

Or, it could be that they are sensitive to magnetic orientation. One study of dozens of canines observed that dogs tend to adopt a north-south orientation when they relieve themselves outside in an open area, but that preference vanished when the magnetic field around them was disturbed.

Icy Hot News

Making ice is easy, right? Just pour some water into a tray, pop it into the freezer, and wait a few hours… Actually, as an article on the Popular Mechanics website points out, there are many different kinds of ice.

The ice we use in drinks is called Ice I. Other types of ice— almost two dozen varieties— are created by applying pressure to ordinary ice. Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, hoping to create an exotic new form of ice, conducted an experiment: They trapped a droplet of
water in a tight space and then blasted it with six lasers.

The lasers heated the droplet to approximately 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which compressed it by creating a pressure a million times higher than the Earth’s atmosphere.

The result, Ice XVIII, isn’t found on Earth outside of the lab, but scientists believe it could be formed on icy worlds like Uranus and Neptune, watery planets whose size might be capable of producing the same heat and pressure sustained in the laboratory. If so, this new ice could help astronomers better understand the worlds in our solar system and across the galaxy.

Dream On

Some people think daydreaming is a waste of time, but it can be a powerful tool for sharpening your creativity. Entrepreneur magazine website spells out why:

• Motivation. Daydreaming about something you’d like to do can increase your motivation to go out and pursue your goals, and also helps structure your thoughts.
• Visualization. Use your daydreams to go into detail about your goals so you can identify possibilities and options. You can mentally narrow down ideas.
• Problem solving. You can’t always attack a problem with logic and brute force. Spend some time letting your mind roam. Daydreaming relaxes you and reduces stress, so it might help you spot a solution you’d otherwise miss.
• Productivity. This may seem counterintuitive, but daydreams can help you focus. By daydreaming about a problem or opportunity, you give your brain a chance to concentrate on your goal without clutter or pressure from the world around you.

A Tingling Idea

A mild dose of electricity might improve memory in older people, according to an article on the U.S. News & World Report website. Working memory declines as we age because brain regions fall out of sync with each other.

Researchers at Boston University devised a special EEG cap that delivers
electrical stimulation to the neocortex and frontal lobes to synchronize brain waves, which play a big role in working memory. They tested the caps, which produce a slight tingling sensation, in 42 participants age 54–76 who were asked to perform working memory activities on separate days, sometimes with the cap and sometimes without it.

With the caps delivering electrical stimulation, participants’ working memory improved to the level of a control group of adults 20–29. The scientists tracked participants for about 50 minutes after the electrical delivery, but believe the results last longer. Electrical stimulation is already used on patients with Parkinson’s disease, but doctors caution that more research is necessary before anyone can walk into an office and get a dose to the brain to improve his or her working memory.

Housing Demand Improves in July

Vancouver, BC – August, 2019. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,930 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in July, an increase of 12.4 per cent from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in the province was $684,497, a decline of 1.6 per cent from July 2018. Total sales dollar volume was $5.43 billion, a 10.5 per cent increase from the same month last year.

“BC home sales climbed higher for the first time in 18 months on a year-over-year basis in July,” said BCREA Chief Economist Cameron Muir. Housing demand has also trended higher since March, rising 21 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis. “Households appear to be adjusting to the tighter credit environment as the shock of the B20 stress test dissipates.”

MLS® residential active listings in the province trended lower in July, down 3 per cent from June and 6 per cent from April on a seasonally adjusted basis. Active listings were up 12.4 per cent to 41,621 units on a year-over year basis, while overall market conditions remained unchanged from 12 months ago with the sales-to-active listings ratio at 19.1 per cent.

Year-to-date, BC residential sales dollar volume was down 18.9 per cent to $30 billion, compared with the same period in 2018. Residential unit sales decreased 14.4 per cent to 43,612 units, while the average MLS® residential price was down 5.3 per cent to $687,413.

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For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

Music and Convergent Thinking

According to an article on the Pacific Standard website, reporting on research conducted by psychologists at the University of Central Lancashire in England, listening to music may help you relax, but apparently it can impair your creativity.

In several studies, participants were given three words, such as “dress”, “dial,” and “flower,” and asked to come up with a fourth word that paired naturally with each. For example, “sun” compliments each of those words. Thirty university students did the exercise while listening to a pop song that had been translated into Spanish while the other performed in silence. The group working without music solved significantly more problems. In a similar experiment, subjects listened to instrumental music, or nothing at all. Again, those working without music performed better.

The study appears to contradict the results of an earlier experiment, in which fast-paced, uplifting classical music like Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” appeared to enhance divergent thinking— the ability to come up with new concepts or hybrid ideas. That study, however, found no musical effect on convergent thinking, or the ability to narrow down ideas until finding one that works—an important part of the creative process.

Consider putting your headphones away to stimulate creative thinking when looking for innovative ideas.

Canadian Employment – August, 2019

Canadian employment declined by 24,200 jobs in July with the largest decline reported in Alberta. The national decline was evenly split between full-time and part-time work, notably in private sector employment in the service sector (retail and wholesale trade). The national unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 5.7 per cent, as more people were looking for work in July.

Meanwhile in BC, employment held steady for the second consecutive month in July. The unemployment rate was also little changed at 4.4 per cent.  Compared to one year ago, employment in BC is up 4.8 per cent.

For more information, please contact: Gino Pezzani.

July 2019 Vancouver Housing Market Insights (Video Update)

Please take a look at the July 2019 housing market for Metro Vancouver with REBGV President Ashley Smith.

Do Pets Make Us Happy?

Almost 60% of U.S. households have at least one resident dog or cat, reports The Washington Post. Do our pets make us happy, though? The General Social Survey asked questions related to that in 2018. The results may be surprising to dog and cat owners.

Dogs and cats don’t necessarily make us happier, for one thing. The survey found that among pet owners, slightly more than 30% in both groups identified themselves as “very happy,” while the number describing themselves as “Not too happy” was in the mid-teens for both groups.

However, dog owners are about twice as likely to say they’re very happy than cat owners, making dog owners slightly happier than people without any pets. People who are owned by a cat understand that the cat is not-so-secretly in charge and are generally very happy with that situation. All jokes aside, people owning both dogs and cats tend to fall in between the two camps, enjoying the benefit of both pets.

What creates the difference? The General Social Survey notes that dog owners tend to be older, married and own their own homes, which can contribute to overall happiness and satisfaction with life in general.

Stats Centre Reports July 2019 for Housing in Great Vancouver

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