Catching up

By reviewing emails. Had to miss game day March 24th to go home and spend some time with family. Got to meet my to-be-step-sister’s new daschound puppies. Sooo cute! And I went to church to see mom play her flute, and it was good to say hi to people I’ve known since I was little. I also looked around a lot getting ideas for mom’s wedding & reception.

I found an online board game, but I suck at the mini games: http://www.gettheglass.com/

I’m having fun playing FF12 with my pirate, I like the stuff that bores him like running around talking and shopping, and he likes the stuff that frustrates me like fighting. It’s nice to actually get to follow a story all the way through. I think we might play FFX after we finally finish FF12.

MM suggested FFX and I couldn’t resist the Viera & bunny moogles in FF12. And since my pirate had never played any of the FF stuff it seemed like a decent idea for a present. I’m just glad he’s willing to do side quests when I’m busy so I don’t miss the story line.

Great line from a friend’s blog:
“She understood that a prayer was a projection of will, the wanting of a thing was like a wish, a desire, the focus of energy toward a goal or purpose or hope. It really didn’t matter what you called it, the substance of the matter was all the same.”

It really ties in to what I’ve been talking about with my dad. Some of the same principles in the book/movie “The Secret.”

Talking with my cousin about our pets:

Very cool! Mr. Tripudio Gecko! Trip for short. They’re pretty neat to watch when the shed too, my bio teacher used to have a pair of Gecko’s. Not the friendly sort sadly so we didn’t get to hold them.

lizards are great, but my cats would try to eat it if I got one.

Hamsters are soooo cute, but Khalua is way to evil to trust around anything small and crunchy.

I also found out my cousin and her husband are on the same WoW server as me:

funny enough I logged on with my new Draenei Adiala last night to look for you and /who’d your guild. Of the four on I randomly managed to pick the redhead who was one of your husband’s groomsmen to ask if you two were on. He asked how I knew it was him and I told him it was sheer luck.

Dad sent me an adorable card for my birthday. My pirate took me to lunch at Crepeville for a strawberry chocolate crepe (they changed how they make it and it isn’t quite as fabulous as before) I went out for drinks and dessert at BJ’s with a bunch of friends on my birthday, and mom and my brother came up on Saturday and took me and my pirate out for lunch (Sudwerk’s new menu is yummy!).

I’m really starting to get into the racquetball & climbing. Though we just do volleys with the racquetball and don’t worry about scoring. I can’t play for more than 30 minutes though before my head starts to hurt, so I think we’re gonna try out tennis soon if my pirate can find his second racket.

April 3 – House finally completely officially sold!

Random tidbit you really don’t want to know but I’m going to share anyway:
Saw on History Channel that castles sometimes flushed their waste into the moat to discourage invaders. GROSSSSS. I’d say that would discourage me! Moat monsters can be killed… but sewage is not something easy to remove!

My fingernails are turning blue from cold in my office today, but I’ve been getting stuff done. Though I just found this awesome game:
http://www.adultswim.com/games/fiveMinutes/index.html
But mute the speakers if you try playing it! It starts with music and even if you turn it of there are sound effects….

Actually electric fingerless gloves would be perfect, since my sweater keeps me reasonably warm, I just can’t type wearing gloves.

Sign up for your free scoop! I just got my coupon for mine yesterday. 😀
http://www.baskinrobbins.com/BDayClub/

I’m finally starting to get my product sale site together:
http://curlieq.com
Just working on linking to my cafepress stuff for now, then I need to take pictures/scan the stuff I have at home to list for sale.

Me + parties or any large groups of people:

I like parties, but parties make me tired/stressed/strung out/wound up/over stimulated.
To deal with the over stimulation I need to A) nap or B) be close to a friend
I prefer option A when at my own house or a friend’s that I’m comfortable in.
When I have to resort to option B, the more people I can spread that around to, the better. Otherwise I follow the one person I know around the whole time (and then worry that they’re are/will get bored or annoyed with me).

Many people = energy drain for me. It can be fun, but it’s always tiring. Anywhere there are lots of people. Most things are short enough that it doesn’t matter, but parties that last all day are hard. I just don’t like showing up late, or having to leave early when things are getting fun/relaxed later on, so I end up napping on the sofa or zoning out for a bit.

Until writing this I didn’t realize how often I really do use option A now. And it’s not really due to shyness, it’s that large groups of people are just really overstimulating for me. I’d follow my friend around for option B, but then I’d talk to whoever we ended up near with no problem.

Major thing for me to work on: I need to actually tell people my needs instead of just using people to fulfill them and get their permission. And two, I need to stop trying to do what I think people would want, without actually asking what they want.

This gorgeous weather is making it so hard to work, I want to go outside and lay in the grass.

trying to resist the evilly delicious birthday vanilla vanilla cupcakes with frosting & sprinkles Princess SP made and had JP sneak onto my desk before I got in this morning. I’ve already had two. I’m going to need to run up and down some stairs or something.

My pirate and I got some swimming and tennis in on Sunday, and I managed to get sunburned.

A cat that rides the bus, pretty amazing: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=447527&in_page_id=1770

[private]
Mystery cat takes regular bus to the shops

Bus drivers have nicknamed a white cat Macavity after it has started using the No 331 several mornings a week.

The feline, which has a purple collar, gets onto the busy Walsall to Wolverhampton bus at the same stop most mornings – he then jumps off at the next stop 400m down the road, near a fish and chip shop.

The cat was nicknamed Macavity after the mystery cat in T.S Elliot’s poem. He gets on the bus in front of a row of 1950s semi-detached houses and jumps off at a row of shops down the road which include a fish and chip shop.

Driver Bill Khunkhun, 49, who first saw the cat jumping from the bus in January, said: “It is really odd, the first time I saw the cat jumping off the bus with a group of passengers. I hadn’t seen it get on which was a bit confusing.

“The next day I pulled up on Churchill Road to let a couple of passengers on. As soon as I opened the doors the cat ran towards the bus, jumped on and ran under one of the seats, I don’t think any of the passengers noticed.

“Because I had seen it jump off the day before I carried on driving and sure enough when I stopped just down the road he jumped off – I don’t know why he would catch the bus but he seems to like it. I told some of the other drivers on this route and they have seen him too.”

Since January, when the cat first caught the bus he has done it two or three times a week and always gets on and off at the same stops.

Passenger, Paul Brennan, 19, who catches the 331 to work, said: “I first noticed the cat a few weeks ago. At first I thought it had been accompanied by its owner but after the first stop it became quite clear he was on his own.

“He sat at the front of the bus, waited patiently for the next stop and then got off. It was was quite strange at first but now it just seems normal. I suppose he is the perfect passenger really – he sits quietly, minds his own business and then gets off.”

bus cat photo
[/private]

April 10 – I woke up with a killer headache, that I haven’t managed to quite kill off. But I did order my dishwasher! I can’t wait till it shows up and I can give the kitchen a good scrub down.

Meow came over last night and we hung out for a while which was nice. I still miss seeing him every day. I can’t wait till they finish building the rest of the offices.

I finally got the batteries in my swiffer wetjet though, it’s awesome. Way less mess than a mop and bucket. I scrubbed down the master bathroom kitty stuff and floors this weekend.

I found a free staff development yoga class I’m gonna sign up for. I hope they have room!

Dance class last night was good. Then the teacher invited me to join her dance teacher certification program, which I would LOVE to do, but it’s $450 a month for 16 months. So I really can’t do it now. I’ll just have to hope that she has space and decides to run it again in a couple years when I have my debt paid off. I’m getting my dishwasher Monday though. Woohoo! And we’re going climbing again tonight. Oh, and since I had two hours to kill till class, Meow & I walked down to the farmers market, there is some stuff I want to go pick up on Saturday.

My boss took me out to lunch for my birthday since he missed it last week, so that was nice. Finally tried out Village Bakery’s pizza. It’s good, but it isn’t all that. That one in the bay area that JL loves is much better. I just can’t recall the name.

my psychiatrist called back, so I get to go see him tomorrow during lunch to see about changing up my meds. My night one is not working so well, and I don’t think I need my morning one, so I want to cut the one and double the other. Not sleeping well is pretty much the main thing left to mess with my head at this point.

I’m halving my morning one and doubling my night one and then gotta check back in two weeks.

I love shopping with my mom, it’s our #1 mother-daughter activity I think.

Well, that’s all the tidbits from email, from oldest down to newest. I should probably clean it up some if I ever get around to it.

Spring Catch-up

First a PSA: Pet food recall – see the list of products recalled.

Random tid-bits:

I forgot to link to the site after watching An Inconvenient Truth, so here is their Take Action page (the home page is noisy).

Laser engraving on laptops. Looks neat and sturdier than stickers, but not good for those of us who change their minds a lot. Plus it’s not cheap.

Mac Laptop = Cat Toy video. Thankfully my cats aren’t like this… I don’t think.

More of the monster/ugly dolls.

Uploaded 138 or 139 new photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/liata/


Mar 20:Went to dinner at Dos with one of HK’s coworker friends and then put away laundry and did dishes and HK took out the trash and recycling for me. So nice not to walk out and see the kitchen and go “Ugh!” I’m definitely putting some of the house profit toward a dishwasher, it’s just not worth the time and stress of hand washing everything. And I probably waste hot water doing it myself anyway. I really like how the new curtains on the sliding glass door turned out, though I think I want to add a few more panels at some point.Mar 19:This guy’s stuff has been around for a while, but since I can’t find the original video I saw, here’s another: http://studio.vpod.tv/loiclemeur/135867

Also, I hate the time changes, they always mess up my sleep schedule. Slowly getting back on track. I smelled brownies walking back to my office and now I’m craving them. Thankfully I have hot chocolate mix (and chili, nutmeg & cinnamon to add to it).

I got a lot done this weekend, cleaned up my piles of paperwork, finally got the curtains up with HK’s help and a few loads of laundry. That plus much napping & relaxing which is the main thing I needed. HK & I went to Johnny Carrino’s in Natomas after his haircut Friday, but we filled up on bread and soup and ended up eating the leftovers the rest of the weekend. The asthma pill (Singulair) is working hella good and my allergies seem to have settled down without taking the Clartin stuff, yippee!

And! Good news! My house might actually close before April after all which would be awesome. One less mortgage payment to pay. 😀

Mar 17:

This sounds fun: Spring Party on Saturday 4/14/07…All you can drink beer and Margaritas, Fresh Mexican food, Wonderbread 5, DJ Rigatoni, Mechanical Bull and Gladiator Style Jousting….all for $35 and all proceeds go to local children’s charities!! Go to www.awildnightincabo.com.

Mar 16:

My office is so cold. I’m thinking of bringing in a throw or something. Rugs would be good if I had any. I have a space heater, but I blew the circuit the time I moved it to another plug to get it under my desk. An electric blanket would work better. I wouldn’t lose all my warm air every time my boss pops in and doesn’t shut the door most of the way behind him.

Mar 15:

Painted my toenails pink at work during lunch, and managed to not smudge them, yay! Now I can actually wear sandals sometimes.

Mar 14:

Had a ton of weird dreams last night, which for me means I didn’t sleep soundly at all or I wouldn’t remember. Probably why I was so tired this morning.

I forgot to check the racquetball rules, so my pirate and I just goofed off hitting back and forth to each other since there was a free court last night. Good workout, but it did not help my headache. It was fun though, and my headache didn’t get too bad till the last 10 minutes ish.


Article stuffs
I used to read Psychology Today when I TA’d in my high school library all the time. Now I have it on my Google homepage so I’m back into reading it again. Just in case you’re wondering how I find this stuff:Hormones Got You Down?

Hormones may play a pivotal role in women’s maladies—including PMS, post-partum, and others.
By:Natasha Raymond”research shows it’s not just the psychological stress of aging, childbirth, or cramps that brings on the blues. It’s the physiological factor that ties them together—hormones.””Hormones released by the ovaries—estrogen and progesterone—actually seem to influence the neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, that are known to affect mood. Normally, estrogen blocks enzymes that break serotonin down, allowing more of the spirit-lifting substance to stay operative in the brain and act like an antidepressant. But before menstruation, after giving birth, and during menopause, when estrogen levels dip, serotonin levels plunge, too.”

Love Isn’t Blind

How to form an enduring bond. Healthy relationships are built on love and trust, commitment and intimacy.
By:Hara Estroff Marano

“These are the five bonding forces that form the glue of your relationship, he stresses. And here’s the catch—they must grow together in a balanced way. You must keep your heart and your head in harmony. So you never let one of the five forces too far ahead of your progress in any of the others.

* Know
* Trust
* Rely
* Commit
* Touch

In other words, says Van Epp, there’s a safe zone you need to stay within as your relationship grows. And the basic rule for staying in the safe zone is, never let the level of one bonding dynamic exceed the level of the previous one. “

Swallow Your Fear

Navigating risky situations teaches you about yourself, increases your self-confidence, and helps you better manage life’s inevitable uncertainties.
By:Jessica DuLong

“”It’s the heightened awareness in physical risk taking that’s so valuable,” says Michael Gass … “The limited stimulus field helps people weed out less important information.” In the face of danger, instinct takes over. Your attention becomes keenly focused on your body and your surroundings. ”

“Once you accomplish this, you realize that you are not a victim of your emotions, that you can override them if you want.”

“Just as shocking the muscles makes them grow stronger, confronting your fears makes you realize you can live with stress. “Any time you’re afraid to do something and you do it, it makes you stronger,” he says. “Even if you fail.””

“”Physical risk taking is beneficial because it’s a consequential, obvious statement of what you’re able to do,” says Gass. And the ability to handle adversity can generalize into the less dangerous—but no less fraught—realms of personal and professional life. It was Stanford researcher Albert Bandura who first articulated the idea that greater feelings of self-efficacy produce increased effort and persistence on a task and, ultimately, a higher level of performance.”

“Self-determination in the face of uncertainty helps develop a strong sense of self. ”

“”The more practice you have in situations where you have to make rapid decisions with great consequence, the more likely you are to be able to act rather than freeze,” says Cline.”


I find evolutionary psychology fascinating! I took a class on environmental psychology that covered some of it and really enjoyed the class. Article:The Orgasm Wars

Evolutionary biologists think female orgasms may pick the best sperm.
By:PT Staff”They discovered that when a woman climaxes any time between a minute before to 45 minutes after her lover ejaculates, she retains significantly more sperm than she does after nonorgasmic sex. When her orgasm precedes her male’s by more than a minute, or when she does not have an orgasm, little sperm is retained. “”In their studies, women consistently identify as most attractive males whose faces (and other body parts) are most symmetrical.””A large and growing body of medical literature documents that symmetrical people are physically and psychologically healthier than their less symmetrical counterparts.”

“those whose partners were most symmetrical enjoyed a significantly higher frequency of orgasms during sexual intercourse than did those with less symmetrical mates.”

“Of course, symmetry is a relative thing, and a relative rarity at that. No one is perfectly symmetrical, and very high symmetry scores were few and far between in this sample, as in others. In consolation, Thornhill and Gangestad point out that the differences they are measuring are subtle, and most require the use of calipers to detect.”

“Degree of women’s romantic attachment did not increase the frequency of orgasm! Nor did the sexual experience of either partner. Conventional wisdom holds that birth control and protection from disease up orgasm rates, since they allow women to feel more relaxed during intercourse. But no relationship emerged between female orgasm and the use of contraception.

Nor can the study results be explained by the possibility that the symmetrical males were dating especially uninhibited and orgasmic women. Their partners did not have more orgasms during foreplay or in other sexual activities. Male symmetry correlated with a high frequency of female orgasm only during copulation.”

“He points to the following results as among those we should take to heart:

o A woman’s capacity for orgasm depends not on her partner’s sexual skill but on her subconscious evaluation of his genetic merits.
o Women’s orgasm has little to do with love. Or experience.
o Good men are indeed hard to find.
o The men with the best genes make the worst mates.
o Women are no more built for monogamy than men are. They are designed to keep their options open.
o Women fake orgasm to divert a partner’s attention from their infidelities.”


Not terribly scientific, the comments are more interesting than the article:Female Gamers Have More Sex

“According to a survey conducted by Gametart, a game rental service in the UK, chicks who game get more lovin’ than those who don’t. Out of a sample of 200 ladies (or should that be “laid-ees”?), the ones who gamed got, erm, fragged 1.1 more times a week than those who didn’t.”


And from one of the columns I read that also happened to look at evolution’s effect:The Pig Picture
The Advice Goddess by Amy Alkon

“The truth is, as you suspected, straight guys just don’t have the filth and disarray vision that women and gay men do. Studies show gay men’s attention to environmental detail is similar to that of straight women, but in general, “the female brain takes in more sensory data than does the male,” writes brain researcher Michael Gurian in “What Could He Be Thinking?” How much more visual detail does the female brain take in? Well, in an object recall test by York University psychologists Irwin Silverman and Marion Eals, women remembered the name and placement of 70 percent more items than the men did.””Men can be obsessive about detail, explains Gurian, but their mental and visual attention is usually single-minded and achievement-oriented. “”According to Silverman, Eals, and other researchers, a guy’s tendency to let his home become a pizza crust wilderness refuge probably traces back to our hunter-gatherer past. Men’s current visual and attentional strengths correspond to what would’ve made them successful hunters: the distance vision and mental focus needed to track and bring home dinner — instead of being eaten by what was supposed to be dinner. Women’s superior peripheral vision and ability to process detail would’ve helped them spot the family’s favorite edible plants in a big tangle of vegetation — while making sure the children weren’t playing in wildebeest traffic.

Culture or training may mitigate the modern man’s natural crud-blindness.”

Happy Pie/Pi/3.14 Day!

HomeTech ApartmentTherapy: Feel the Geeky Love: Happy Pi Day! Today’s date matches the first numbers of the venerable number that never ends: 3.14.

Cool coffee table design (though way more than I would consider paying) coffee table

News: Digital TV Transition Subsidies

To aid in the Digital TV transition, households with at least one TV set will be able to request up to two $40 coupons meant to subsidize the cost of purchasing digital to analog converter boxes. The converters are expected to cost around $50, but make sure you get in line quickly, applications for the first wave of coupons valued up to $990 milion will begin January 1, 2008…..and continue until there is no more money available. Somehow, we think that won’t take long.

– via the New York Times:

U.S. Sets Rules for Digital TV Payments
By BLOOMBERG NEWS
Published: March 13, 2007

The government will offer households as much as $80 each to help convert televisions to receive digital broadcasts under a $1.5 billion program.

Households with one or more TV sets can ask for as many as two $40 coupons as long as the first allotment, of $990 million, is not depleted, according to Commerce Department rules published yesterday. If the initial amount is inadequate, an extra $510 million in coupons may be offered to households without pay-TV service.

The subsidies are intended to help consumers prepare for the end of analog TV broadcasts in February 2009. After that, TVs without digital receivers will not be able to show over-the-air broadcasts.

Sets connected to cable TV and satellite systems will not need converters, the Commerce Department said.

Converters are expected to cost about $50 each, according to Congressional testimony. Households can apply for the coupons starting Jan. 1, 2008, the Commerce Department said. Retailers who want to participate in the program must apply for certification by March 31, 2008.

Wonderful Wednesday

I’m feeling much better today thankfully. My nose shifted from runny to just stopped up so it doesn’t feel raw anymore, and my headache has finally gone away. I went over all the various questions I had with my doctor and he was nice enough to get me drug samples to try out first for free. He said the asthma stuff is even known to help with allergies and that I should just try that at first and only add the allergy stuff if I’m still having trouble.

I took the bus home and got a bit of a walk in by accidentally getting off one stop too early. I was feeling well enough that I managed to keep my momentum up and just drop off my stuff and grab my dance shoes and bike back to campus for dance class. Class was fun as always, and funny as it often is. Samba and salsa also are fast enough to really get my heart rate up, so I got some needed exercise in.

Papa is coming tomorrow so I’m looking forward to getting to spend some time with him.

I also found out that if my back is bothering me I can just tense my abs up and it helps, which is easier than having to stretch it out.

Khalua may be crazy & evil, but she’s so cute and warm when she’s laying on top of me purring and kneeding & sucking on the blanket. Kitties make wonderful heat pads on cool nights.

The western redbuds along Putah Creek are flowering, so there are patches of hot pink clouds along the bike path now. And the magnolia trees with their giant pale pink and white blossoms look like out of proportion cherry trees.

From the October 2001 O magazine article “Life at the Peak” by Suzanne O’Malley:
“Instead of sitting at my desk from 9:30am to 6:30pm – working at one-third efficiency all day long – Jim had me work three 90-minute chunks. That was it. I doubled my output. It made me believe this principle of sprint and recovery really works.”

And THAT is why I so much want to either be my own boss, so I can work that way – and reclaim 3-4 hours a day! – or at least not be in a union position where I’m forced to work hourly instead of salaried.

Also from that article about the LGE Performance System:
Habits of Champions

  • Go to bed and wake up early (preferably 10:30pm and 5:30am, respectively). Studies show that seven to seven and a half hours of sleep per night is optimal in order to build, repair, and maintain the immune system and to repair tissue.
  • Eat three small meals and three small snacks a day. (A meal should be between 400-600 calories; a snack, between 100 and 200 calories.)
  • Drink 48 to 64 ounces of water a day.
  • Exercise 120 to 180 minutes, spread over the course of the week.
  • Take a break from whatever you’re doing every 90 minutes. Even a five minute walk will do; the point is to change your rhythm and reenergize yourself.

Other great quotes from the magazine:
“Things are always falling apart. You could be alarmed about that. Or you could look at it another way and say that thinga are always fresh, continually new.” – Pema Chodron

“The average human being thinks that happiness lies in stability, in tying up all the loose ends and having things under control. But actually, happiness lies in being able to relax with our true condition, which is basically fleeting, dynamic, fluid, not in any way solid, not in any way permanent. It’s transient by nature.” – Pema Chodron

Considering I’ve just started to look at and consider my control issues, this is HUGE, and great timing. I keep telling myself that once I take of this thing or that thing I’ll be able to relax and be less stressed, and I’ve been noticing that it has been seeming like one thing after the other for… I dunno, ages now. But that’s life! Life is one moment after another, and each brings something new to learn or deal with. I just need to evaluate how I deal with things and maybe learn to live in and enjoy the moment more.

Speaking of which, Khalua wants my lap, so I’m done for now!

Touchy Tuesday

No word on the house yet. Had to wear my mules today since I kicked the tub faucet yesterday morning and sliced open my heel. Got my external drive and laptop back thanks to Meow picking them up on his way in. Just gotta reinstall my laptop, find a way of syncing my laptop and external drive and then start recovering my pictures. I grabbed the few I had up on cafepress. Flickr and Shutterfly will take longer since I have a LOT there. A lot of it is overlap, but not all of it. The only recipe I think I might have lost that I want to recover is the pepper cookie one from the Princess.

Some good articles on touch on Psychology Today:

You Can Touch This
A parent or infant’s touch can convey emotion as well as a facial expression or spoken word.

By: Matthew Hutson

“At birth, touch is the most developed sense. But scientists have always thought touch conveys only a general positive or negative affect. According to a paper in the journal Emotion, touch can communicate distinct emotions—about as well as faces or voices. People “expressed” 12 emotions to a stranger who had put his arm through a curtain. Recipients guessed six of the emotions well above chance, scoring between 48 and 83 percent. MC Hammer didn’t know what he was missing.”

Touching News
An interview with Tiffany Field, founder of Touch Research Institutes, explains why healing is all in our hands.
By: Nancy K. Dess

The good bits:

What are some of massage therapy’s important effects?

Babies gain more weight, sleep better and relate better to parents. Their brain waves indicate more alertness, and they learn faster. Kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism also become more attentive. MT alleviates depression, too. It decreases stress hormones and increases serotonin, the body’s own antidepressant. It also improves sleep. That relates, I think, to MT’s alleviation of pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia and migraine, which seem to be exacerbated by sleep disorders.

MT also alters the immune system. In autoimmune problems such as asthma, lung functions improve and asthma attacks decrease. Immune cell counts improve in people with HIV. In a breast cancer study, natural killer cells are increasing, which is good, because they kill cancer cells. The list goes on.

Any practical advice to offer?

Everybody needs to either get massaged by a therapist or a significant other, or self-massage by doing yoga or using a long-handled shower brush. Being touched in this way is as important as proper diet and exercise, and should be part of one’s regular daily activities.

What happens when people don’t get their share of touch?

Touch deprivation impairs development. Romanian nursery children, for example, were stunted, and MT helped them grow. Interestingly, nonhuman animals that are touch-deprived not only lose weight but become aggressive. In a study of 49 non-industrialized cultures, groups showing physical affection toward children had little adult violence; in groups that were less affectionate to kids, adults were significantly more violent.

Bonobos, an ape closely related to us, live in intimate physical contact with each other—and they’re pacifists.

That’s fascinating. This principle seems to apply generally. In a study, we found that there exists more physical affection toward children and less aggression among adults in France than in the United States. The power of touch in our lives seems rooted in our nature, as individuals and as social beings.

Picky Eating

The Grown-up Picky Eaters Club
Kids may palm off veggies to the dog, but some adults are still just as finicky.

The parts I relate to:

“Pelchat has found that certain textures are an even bigger turn-off than tastes for many picky eaters.”

“Others cringe at “inclusions,” such as nuts or raisins embedded in muffins—even if they enjoy eating such snacks in their pure form.”

“The adult picky eater was almost always a choosy child”

“And those who harshly punish non-plate-cleaning children … exacerbate the situation.”

Though the guy in the article is waaaaaaaay more extreme, I have none of the problems mentioned in on his site pickyeatingadults.com. I’m not at all bothered by or ashamed of my pickiness, and don’t care at all about others being surprised or annoyed. Plus I can almost always find something that I’ll eat at any event or restaurant. I know what I like and what I don’t, and why (taste and/or texture) and I see no reason to suffer by eating things I don’t like.

A related article:

Food: The Science of Scrumptious
Why do we loathe lumpy food, pick at our plates, and believe that chocolate will cure all ills? They say there’s no accounting for taste, but science is giving it a try.

“In short, we’re all weird about food. An anthropological analysis found that more than a third of us reject slippery food like oysters and okra. Twenty percent of us don’t like our foods to touch on the plate. The next time you wander a grocery-store aisle packed with jars of pickled jalapeños and boxes of instant scalloped potatoes, consider this: One-fifth of us eat from a palate of just 10 or fewer foods.

The rich blend of instincts and habits that shape our eating patterns has baffled biologists. Although, new knowledge of the neurological highways that connect gut and brain, combined with psychophysical studies probing the perception of flavor, has shed light on the gourmand within. The study of “hedonics”—the pleasure of eating—has determined that we are hardwired to prefer sweet and avoid bitter and that the love of fat seems to be an acquired taste. The flavors we sample while we’re still in the womb stay with us into infancy and perhaps well beyond. And, as anyone who has heard the call of a cream puff at 3 a.m. will not be surprised to hear, eating beloved foods stimulates some of the same neural pathways as addictive drugs like cocaine. Other research suggests that our stomachs may literally be thinking for us: A separate sensory system located in the gut sends subliminal messages to the brain about what’s good to eat and what’s not.”

Stuff and whatever.

Interesting article:

How Not to Talk to Your Kids
The Inverse Power of Praise.

By Po Bronson

I definitely can relate to the – I’m smart, this thing is hard, so therefore I should focus on the easy stuff and forget about the hard stuff “logic.”

So, hard drive is unrecoverable. But as upset as I was I managed to not cry about it, or do anything really stupid (like driving to Sac through nasty Friday rush hour traffic to get my external drive to start recovering data to) and just went home early to relax with the kitties.

At some point I realized that the stuff I cared about losing was the stuff I’d created – and really that stuff was just a part of me. And as my pirate pointed out, I could recreate it. It’s not like I lost a finger or an eye or something. So I managed to have a relaxing and productive weekend. Got more stuff done in the den, and the tree undecorated and put away. Projects left to do are get the curtains up and put the lights up in my bedroom.

I really want a dishwasher, so I’m looking into getting a free one via Craigslist possibly.

I also managed to pick up the bug spray I like from ACE about five minutes before they closed on Saturday. The other day I had to clean up an infestation of queen ants and their drones (they all had wings) that tried to get in my bedroom window. So definitely time to spray around all the doors & windows for bugs.

Thinking & Linking

I like the organization concept behind this medicine cabinet idea. Using stuff you’re storing anyway, to organize other stuff, thus saving space. Doesn’t look bad either!
medicine cabinet

I really like how this lamp looks, and was trying to think how to do something similar but cheaper involving a shaped hole puncher or three and heavy paper or light plastic sheeting. I can never find affordable lamp shades I like so I have a bunch of lamps with bare bulbs.
lamp shade

The same company has these great little mirrored shapes… or shaped mirrors to decorate with.
mirrormirror 2

I would love to use this adorable espresso set to serve tea in, or maybe even ama-zake. The saucer is petal shaped, and the cup handle is shaped like a twig. The spoon looks like leaves.
espresso set

I need speakers at some point for my computer/media center. These JBL Spyro‘s are soooo cute! The satellite speakers are shaped like flowers. I doubt I’d actually go with just a 2.1 system though.
speakers

Clocky runs & hides if you snooze the alarm! Now that’s a good way to get forced to wake up on time. You have to find it to turn it off!
clocky

I prefer the glide rocker I have (less chance of pinched kitty paws or tails – or kid’s hands for that matter) but this rocking chair‘s shape is just downright sexy.
rocking chair

This is a spiffy little bag cushion play thingy.
cushion

Happy Heartbreak – it’s funny, just watch the commercial. (And for those who are slow, no it’s not real.)

Still trying to sell my WoW trading cards.

Seven Things I Learned from World of Warcraft by John August

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Those who’ve seen my movie, The Nines, can infer that I had a bit of a World of Warcraft problem back in the day. “The day” being a period of about four months in which most of my waking hours were spent either playing the game or wanting to. The luxury and danger of being a screenwriter is an abundance of unstructured time. WoW can eat hours in a gulp.

Moderation just didn’t work. I had to give it up cold-turkey, canceling my account and throwing out the install disks. With my newfound time, I had a kid, wrote a couple of movies and directed one of my own.

I have few regrets about giving up Warcraft. But in retrospect, I did learn some valuable things from my time in Azeroth, lessons that have stuck with me. So I thought I’d share a few.
1. Kill injured monsters first

W When facing multiple bad guys, the temptation is to go after the one who’s hitting you hardest. This is often a mistake. That injured razorback, the one who is running away? He’ll be back in 15 seconds, likely with other baddies in tow. So take a few clicks to kill him now. Once he’s dead, you can focus completely on the guy who’s smacking you.

The real world may not have druids and paladins, but it’s chock full of monsters. They’re called “term papers” and “errands” and “mysterious car problems.” At any given moment, there may be one monster that looms larger than all of the others, who clearly needs to be attacked. But before you do, look around for injured monsters — the half-finished tasks that probably need only a few more minutes to complete. If you don’t deal with them now, they’ll be a constant distraction, and may eventually come back stronger.

This “injured monster theory” is why I try to return every phone call the day I receive it, and respond to every email within 24 hours. If a warning light comes on in my car, I go to the mechanic that day. Whenever I find myself thinking, “I need to remember to…” then I know I’ve failed. I don’t need to remember. I need to do. I need to finish.
2. Grinding is part of the game…

W In WoW parlance, “grinding” is the process of killing a bunch of fairly easy monsters, one after the other, strictly to rack up loot and experience. There’s no adventure to it, no real challenge. It’s tedious and mindless, but it’s often the fastest way to level up, which is why everyone does it.

Daily life is full of mindless tedium, but there’s an important distinction: grinding has a point. While the task may be dull and carpal tunnel-aggravating, there’s a clear goal. You’re doing X in order to get Y. You’re xeroxing scripts in the William Morris mailroom in order to get a job as an assistant. You’re proofreading your script for the seventh time in order to send it to your friend, who works for that producer. You have to be willing to do serious grunt work in order to move ahead.
3. …But grinding is not the game

W It’s easy to confuse what you’re doing with why you’re doing it. Just remember: you’re not paying $15 a month to kill the same set of spawning critters. Grinding is a means of achieving a specific goal, whereas the game itself is supposed to be entertaining. So once you level (or get enough deer skins to fabricate that armor), stop grinding and start exploring.

I worked for a year as a reader at Tri-Star, writing coverage on 10 scripts or books a week. It was good money, $65 a shot, but it was wearying. Most of the scripts were terrible. Apart from offering lessons-to-avoid, there wasn’t any point in reading them other than the money. But I convinced myself I was “working in the industry,” so I kept reading them, one after the other, dutifully writing up my synopses and comments. Executives would congratulate me on my witty notes, and there was some suggestion that I could get a job in development. So I quit.

In place of reading, I got a mindless internship in physical production at Universal: filing, copying, researching clearances. I didn’t use my brain once. That left me with abundant energy when I got home from work, and with it I finished two scripts.

Both jobs were quintessential “day jobs.” In theory, writing coverage should have been the better job, because it was closer to screenwriting. And truthfully, I did learn some valuable things–for the first month or two. After that, it was a whole lotta more of the same. The second job was a better fit because there was no confusing it with my true ambitions.
4. Give away stuff to newbies

W You start the game with almost nothing: a weapon and the shirt on your back. Each new piece of gear you accumulate is tremendously exciting. Cloth armor seems luxurious. But as you level up, that early gear becomes increasingly irrelevant and basically worthless. It’s not worth the trip to the store to sell it. So don’t. Instead, run back to the newbie lands, find the first character of your class, and hand him all the stuff you don’t want. It will take two minutes of your time, but give the newbie a tremendous head start. (Not to mention building your karma.)

This site, johnaugust.com, is really just me running back to the newbie lands and giving away what I can. There’s no financial incentive in it for me. I could certainly put my advice in a book and charge $15.95 for it. But I see it as the take-a-penny, leave-a-penny flow of information. On a daily basis, I find myself searching the web for answers on topics in which I’m a newbie (Flash programming, DC mythology, teaching toddlers to swim) and leaving thankful that someone out there took the time to write a tutorial on exactly what I needed. So in exchange, I write up what I know about screenwriting.

If everyone took the time to build a site about the areas of their expertise, the world would be significantly cooler.
5. Keep track of your quests

W WoW is refreshingly open-ended–you could spend all your time skinning bears, if you felt like it. In order to provide a sense of structure, the game helpfully provides quests: multi-step missions, generally to collect, kill or deliver something. While the system does a solid job tracking these official endeavors (”13 out of 25 tusks”), most of the time what you’re really trying to do (”find a better shield”) is frustratingly amorphous. The trick is to identify these unofficial quests and break them down into distinct steps:

* browse the auctions to compare prices
* pick preferred shield
* sell off unneeded linen to raise needed cash
* bid

At any given point, you may have 10 of these pseudo-quests, and unless you take charge of them, you’re liable keep running around, cursing your stupid shield.

GTD enthusiasts would label these WoW quests “projects,” and each of the bullet points “next actions.” That’s geekery, but it’s an acknowledgment that most of life’s work consists of a bunch of little activities in the service of a larger goal. You don’t write a script; you write a scene. You don’t design a website; you tweak the CSS so the navigation looks better. No matter what the project is, you can’t finish until you get started, and you can’t get started until you figure out the steps.
6. Storage is costly

W Perhaps sensing that messy teenage boys are a key demographic, World of Warcraft won’t let you leave something on the ground. If you don’t pick up that fallen warhammer, it will vanish, never to return. So one quickly learns the importance of storage: belts, bags, backpacks and chests. Unfortunately, there’s never nearly enough space, and adding more becomes ridiculously expensive. (That’s by design, clearly. The developers want to minimize hoarding.) So always keep in mind the carrying costs. If you never use that second bow, get rid of it, and use those slots for something you need.

Unlike World of Warcraft (or hard drives in the 90’s), digital storage is now cheap. Crazy cheap. I remember having to carefully comb through my hard drive, trying to figure out exactly what I could purge in order to install the newest version of Quark XPress. Today, I have 80 gigs available on my startup drive, and this was the first time I checked in over a year.

But while the cost of bit storage has plummeted, the cost of storing atoms is still huge. My neighbors just had a POD delivered, essentially a cargo container that gets trucked off. I’ve watched as they’ve filled it with furniture and boxes, all the time wondering, “Is all that stuff really worth keeping?” It’s like paying rent on things you already own.

Last year, we cleaned out our garage. Instead of a traditional yard sale, we did a virtual version. We took pictures of everything we were getting rid of, built a page in Backpack, and sent the link to all our friends. Whoever wanted something could email us and take it. They got a free desk, and we got a free garage.
7. Overthinking takes the fun out of it

W Remember, the game is supposed to be fun. Yes, you can spend hours pouring through the forums, finding exactly the right talent tree. Or you could wing it: explore some new lands and kill some big monsters. Obsessive planning won’t make the game more enjoyable. It will just make it more like work.

I’m often asked about outlines and treatments, and whether they’re necessary before sitting down to write a script. They’re not. Like a map, they can help you figure out where you’re going, but when you follow them too closely, you’re apt to miss a lot of amazing scenery along the way.

On a bigger level, as you look back at any period of your life, you don’t remember what a solid plan you had. You remember what you did. You remember the adventures, the scrapes, the unanticipated detours that turned out to fascinating. So don’t plan your way out of an exciting life.

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Sex by Schedule
The link between sexual behavior and your hormones, and why regular sex is good for you.
By:PT Staff

Biologist Winnifred Cutler found that regular sex is good for you. It orchestrates a woman’s body biologically, regulating the flow of hormones that make it fertile and, in turn, increase well-being. It also props up testosterone levels in men.

Embrace once a week. Weekly intercourse—but not less—tunes the menstrual cycle to 29.5 days, optimal for fertility and general endocrine health.

Here’s the tricky part: the findings mandate monogamy. Only committed relationships allow sex so regularly. If regular sex is not possible, then it’s better to abstain altogether. That’s because intermittent sex drives hormones wild, sending estrogen to lower lows (and higher highs) than the more moderate lows of celibacy. (Lows are responsible for bone loss, depression, and even heart disease.)

Banish the thought that you can keep yourself hormonally humming with your own hand. It isn’t the orgasm but the presence of another person, preferably male, that does the trick. Men add chemicals that fire off nerve signals to the brain and alter endocrine patterns.

Not for the Squeamish

I have something new to talk about with my therapist next week. I thought it was just a bad habit I hadn’t managed to break….

All from articles on: http://www.ocfoundation.org/

Compulsive Skin Picking (Neurotic Excoriations)

Exerpt from the
Jenike, Baer, Minichiello book,
“OCD: Practical Management”
(1998, Mosby)

Neurotic excoriations are lesions produced by patients as a result of repetitive skin picking (e.g., Gutpa et al., 1987; Stein et al., 1993). The behavior takes the form of an extensive cleaning ritual (Van Moffaert, 1992), and the patients intend to remove small irregularities on the skin. In more severe cases the habit is uncontrollable and may turn into an urge to dig deep into the skin. Unlike patients with dermatitis artefacta, those with neurotic excoriations usually admit the self-inflicted nature of their lesions (Gutpa et al., 1987). Skin picking occurs secondary to delusions of parasitosis, but these patients have a psychotic character and differ from those with typical presentations of neurotic excoriations.

… The lesions are in areas of the body that the patients can easily reach, such as face, upper and lower extremities, and upper back (Obermayer, 1955). They are usually a few millimeters in diameter and crusted, weeping or scarred (Griesemer & Nadelson, 1979, Obermayer, 1955). The excoriations are produced with fingernails or small instruments such as tweezers or pins. Picking occurs most frequently in the evening or at night (Freunsgaard, 1984; Zaidens, 1964).

Visual inspection and touching of the skin often precedes picking. Patients describe an uncontrollable urge to pick blemishes, and a temporary feeling of relief when blemishes are removed. This is soon replaced by a sense of disgust, depression or anxiety (Phillips & Taub, 1995).

Stressful circumstances usually increase picking behaviors. Some patients describe being in an almost trancelike state while picking at lesions. Patients often report that they try to resist the urge, but they usually find it difficult to control. A few of the patients we saw in our clinic looked somewhat disfigured because of scarring that resulted from skin picking. Most of them had mild acne. Patients were very embarrassed about their behavior and camouflaged the resulting lesions with make-up or clothing. Skin picking typically does not occur in the presence of other people. Occasional patients reported picking at other people’s skin. Several studies described patients suffering from neurotic excoriations as “perfectionistic or having obsessive-compulsive traits, depressive symptoms, anxiety, hysteria, hypochondriasis” (for a review see Gutpa, et al., 1986). The lack of modern diagnostic criteria limits the value of these studies. Skin picking has many similarities with OCD, since it is ego-dystonic, repetitive, ritualistic and temporarily relieves tension (Gutpa & Gutpa, 1993; Stein et al. 1993; Stout, 1990). The compulsive and self-destructive quality of the behavior also resembles nailbiting and Trichotillomania. …
Demographics and Course

No data is available on the rate of occurrence of neurotic excoriations in the general population, but the incidence is estimated to be 2% among dermatology patients (Griesemer, 1978). Prevalence is higher in women than in men (Freunsgaard, 1984; Fisher & Pearce, 1974) and the mean age of onset is in the range of 30 to 40 years. However, some researchers reported a peak in the 20s (Obermayer, 1955). The intensity of compulsive skin picking seems to fluctuate, and the mean duration of symptoms is reported to be 5 years (Seitz, 1953) with the majority of patients having symptoms for 10-12 years (Freunsgaard, 1984).

Treatment

Although dermatologic treatment may help to improve the skin condition, the treatment for neurotic excoriations is primarily psychiatric. Several case reports describe that these patients benefit from treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Gutpa & Gutpa, 1993; Stein et al., 1993; Stout, 1990). In our anecdotal experience, the patients responded well to the use of SRI medications and/or with behavior therapy. Sometimes, symptoms have been completely eliminated with these approaches.

—————–

Some disorders that closely resemble OCD and may respond to some of the same treatments. They are trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling), body dysmorphic disorder (imagined ugliness), and habit disorders, such as nail biting or skin picking.

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What if I feel as if I’ve failed because I need a drug to help me?

A way to think about the use of medication for OCD is to compare your illness with a common medical disorder such as diabetes. There is growing evidence that OCD is, a neurologic or medical illness not simply a result of some problem in the environment or of improper upbringing. As the diabetic needs insulin to live a normal life, some OCD patients need anticompulsive medication to function normally. Diabetics often feel angry and upset about having to take insulin. There is no evidence that OCD is a result of anything that the patient or their parents have done. It is best to consider it a chemical or neurologic disorder affecting a part of the brain.

Another Column Snippet

From: Free you, others of ill-founded feelings

Excerpt:

Have an emotional connection before you risk getting emotionally involved and hurt as a result of sexual interaction. This means feeling comfortable and safe with talking and touching.

Talk about “sexpectations,” i.e., “If we are engaged sexually, I expect to have a monogamous relationship.” In the absence of discussion, you can easily feel betrayed simply because somebody else has different expectations.

Follow the three rules of sex: 1. Get permission. 2. No pain, ever. 3. When someone says stop, stop; when someone says no, stop.

Develop your sexual voice to avoid emotional and physical pain AND get what you want.

– Dr. Darcy