10 February 2013

Computers and Melancholia

I've been trying to reach some terms of agreement between my brain, my soul, my housework, and my beloved networked devices. I suspect I'm not the only one. For me, social media is really the least of it. I am an information glutton.

In any case, it has come to light recently that screen use can have a very definite effect on our moods. If we use the computer too much in the daytime, we can't sleep at night. If we use it at night.  after the sun goes down, our bodies actually secrete a messenger protein that tells our cells we're sick, and turns on inflammation to try to make use well.

Which makes us sick. Usually, as in depressed, but it can also cause or exacerbate bodily inflammation such as arthritis, allergies, asthma, and the sorts of effects we see from oxidative stress. Actually, I think it is oxidative stress. Computers at any time of day, but especially in the hours after sundown, interfere with our melatonin levels (which may even have implications for cancer, particularly breast cancer), leaving us without enough of nature's sleepy-time substance to let us sleep at night, and sometimes too much of it to feel really alert in the day time.

Also it makes us dumber. The little dendrites that extend from neurons in our brains to the axons of adjacent neurons wither away.

Fortunately, it's reversible. Limit computer use to 6 hours per day and turn it off (as well as your handheld device or tablet) shortly after the sun goes down. Within a short period of time, the dendrites grow back and the inflammatory proteins go back home. Melatonin gets its groove back. We sleep at night and feel awake during the day, feel happier, and hurt less.

We might keep all this in mind when we're making decisions about screen time for our children, too.

Here's my Storify about the way computers affect our brains - you'll find articles that document the above details embedded.

Storify - Technology and Mood


17 January 2013

The Suburbs

In the suburbs I, I learned to drive
And you told me we'd never survive.
Grab your mother's keys we're leaving.
You always seemed so sure
That one day we'd be fighting
In a suburban war.
Your part of town against mine
I saw you standing on the opposite shore
But by the time the first bombs fell
We were already bored.
We were already, already bored

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling again

The kids want to be so hard
But in my dreams we're still screaming
And running through the yard.
When all of the walls that they built in the 70s finally fall,
And all of the houses they built in the 70s finally fall.
Meant nothing at all?
Meant nothing at all,
It meant nothing.

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling
And into the night.

So can you understand
Why I want a daughter while I'm still young?
I want to hold her hand,
And show her some beauty,
Before this damage is done.
But if it's too much to ask
If it's too much to ask
Then send me a son.
Under the overpass
In the parking lot we're still waiting
It's already past
So move your feet from hot pavement
And into the grass
'Cause it's already past
It's already, already past.

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling,
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm moving past the feeling again
I'm moving past the feeling
I'm moving past the feeling
In my dreams we're still screaming
We're still screaming
We're still screaming

Writer(s): Richard R Parry, Jeremy Gara, Tim Kingsbury, Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, William Butler, "The Suburbs", The Suburbs, Arcade Fire

(Copyright: Emi Music Publishing, Inc.)

Posted from a house built in 1977.

14 January 2013

Being 5

There's nothing better than playing under a big blanket on the floor. I don't know why. It's part of being 5. I used to do the same thing. I had this calico sleeping bag that I would put stuff in - a book, a favorite doll, a candy bar, a coloring book and crayons - and pretend it was my house, staying in it for hours on a Saturday. I thought, "This must be what it's like to be a turtle," and somehow it just seemed so cool. It's fun to watch my kid do the same sort of stuff I did. At first, sometimes, it seems like he's just acting crazy, but then I remember how awesome it was when I did it. Who knows what goes on in his imagination that makes it so much fun.

Long Gone and Moved On

When’s the day you start again
And when the hell does you’ll get over it begin
I’m looking hard in the mirror but I don’t fit my skin
It’s too much to take, it’s too hard to break me from the cell I’m in

Oh, from this moment on
I’m changing the way I feel, yeah
From this moment on
It’s time to get real

'Cause I still don’t know how to act, don’t know what to say
Still wear the scars like it was yesterday
But you’re long gone and moved on, but you’re long gone
But I still don’t know where to start, still finding my way
Still talk about you like it was yesterday
But you’re long gone and moved on, but you’re long gone, you moved on

So how’d you pick the pieces up, yeah
I’m barely used to saying me instead of us
The elephant in the room keeps scaring off the guests
It gets under my skin to see you with him and it's not me that you’re with

Oh, from this moment on
I’m changing the way I feel, yeah
From this moment on
It’s time to get real

'Cause I still don’t know how to act, don’t know what to say
Still wear the scars like it was yesterday
But you’re long gone and moved on, but you’re long gone
But I still don’t know where to start, still finding my way
Still talk about you like it was yesterday
But you’re long gone and moved on, but you’re long gone, you moved on

No I can’t keep thinking that you’re coming back, no
'Cause I got no business knowing where you’re at, no
And it's gonna be hard, yeah, 'cause I have to wanna heal, yeah
And it's gonna be hard, yeah, the way I feel that I have to get real

I still don’t know how to act, don’t know what to say
Still wear the scars like it was yesterday
But you’re long gone and moved on, but you’re long gone
But I still don’t know where to start, still finding my way
Still talk about you like it was yesterday
But you’re long gone and moved on, but you’re long gone, you moved on
But you’re long gone, you moved on
Eh eh, oh oh
Eh eh, oh oh
But you’re long gone, you moved on

Glen Joseph Power, Daniel John O'Donoghue, Mark Anthony Sheehan, The Script, "Long Gone and Moved On", Science and Faith

04 May 2011

May will bring change . . .

. . . and some of them I can't talk about just yet, but most of them I'm looking forward to. Of course we will be sad that Grandmama will not be living in the apartment downstairs after about mid-month, but we believe she'll enjoy the social environment at Shannondale.
Robyn will graduate on her birthday this month, and come back home to live with us the following day. I think I'm ready - she has grown up a lot during the past year under her daddy's care. I look forward very much to having her return. It will be the start of a process of rehabilitating and reworking our relationship into a healthier form that will serve us both well in the coming years as she pursues her education and I pursue my career and (with luck and help) furthering my education, and as we both participate in varying ways in Alexander's upbringing.
I've already been given a little bump forward in my situation at Smarthinking in being named one of perhaps 15-20 new "Senior Leads" -- it doesn't mean an increase in my wages, but it's an increase in my hours and, most importantly, comes with benefits, including health insurance. That's a big plus for the whole family.
And bigger things are yet to come.

27 November 2010

With Gratitude Comes Confidence

If you feel gratitude – really feel it – you find yourself subtly relaxing on the inside. You know you have the things in life that will sustain you, whatever happens. You feel confidence. You feel peace.

I have a son who will calmly and articulately say what needs to be said in a timely manner.

I have a friend who has always and will always be there to do just what I need, just when I need it.

I have another friend who truly cares, and who doesn’t need to be right by my side to know when and how to make me laugh.

I have a home in a city where a skillful surgeon is an easy drive away.

I have a cousin who knows what “keep it on your end of the grapevine” means.

I have the knowledge that I am loved.

I have a cell phone.

I have a sweet daughter who knows what is important in life.

I have the ability to sweep the unnecessary thoughts and feelings out of the way and get things taken care of.

My Thanksgiving came a day late this year, and with it came a bit of the confidence that I’ve lost in the last two harrowing years of my life. Thanks be to God, and to those named herein, for the things I have which will sustain me. Thanks be to God for a fresh, precious little fragment of peace.