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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

OK, so there I was, sitting at my other café, minding my own business…

I was alternating between going through my emails, doing a bit of writing and checking out the other patrons. I noticed a particularly lovely young lady at the counter along the window… gorgeous silhouette against the light of the late afternoon. Her back was to me but I noticed her long dark brown hair and pale skin. Quite a vision.

The waitress, Krista (more on her in another blog), came over to me and struck up a conversation. No sooner had my voice wafted over the café airwaves than the pretty girl at the window turned my way.

It was my dear friend Wendy!

She brought over her soup and drink and plonked herself at my table. I couldn’t have been happier. I introduced Wendy to fellow-loony, Krista. They’d met. Of course, they’d met. Loonies have a way of gravitating to one another.

A few words about my dear friend Wendy. Young, pretty, spiritual, fun… bit of an intellectual but in a good way.

We share many of the same odd interests. For example, we’re both zombie and vampyre nuts. We can, and have, spend long periods of time discussing various aspects of The Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse, especially the physiognomy of the living dead.

We also share an almost unnatural passion for grocery shopping (more on that in another blog).

Wendy’s long hair is quite something. Thick, rich… fantastic. She has a habit of playing with it that makes it even more attractive.

We promised each other to set up a grocery shopping date. The only thing better than doing groceries is having someone I like to keep me company. I can think of few people with whom I’d rather shop for groceries than Wendy.

It’s a real advantage that Wendy is eccentric. It takes the pressure off in that neither of us feel we have to ‘act normal.’ We can be ourselves. Such a relief in these trying times.

It really helps when friends share quirks and compulsions. A lot fewer explanations are required.

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Here are some science stories we’ve missed over the last month!

How Darwin Can Save Your Marriage

Sex isn’t such a big deal, says Christopher Ryan, author Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, which he coauthored with Cacilda Jethá. So why do we let sex get in the way of all the other important things?

The point of marriage, after all, is to grow old with someone and develop a sense of trust. Infidelity happens in half of all marriages. Many end in divorce. The institution of marriage seems to be in big trouble, but Ryan says an understanding of the way humans evolved can help us cope.

Ryan points out that we are hardwired to crave novelty, and that’s what leads to infidelity. Ryan says the way culture responds to this “natural behavior,” however, causes more problems than it solves. Therefore, Ryan argues we need to take a “harm reduction approach” over an “absolutist approach.”

5 Crazy Inventions from the Mind of Nikola Tesla

Earthquake machines! Death rays! Those far-fetched gadgets are part of a plan to build a museum dedicated to one of history’s most famous mad scientists.(Photo: Herbert Barraud/Getty Images)

Early 20th century inventor Nikola Tesla was ahead of his time with concepts that ranged from x-rays to robotics.

Fish play video games at Princeton

Researchers have used a video game projected into a fish tank to study the behaviour of predatory bluegill sunfish.

The team at Princeton University developed a simulation based on the type of prey favoured by the species.

Yes, Algebra is Necessary

When I first saw yesterday’s New York Times op-ed, I mistook it for a joke. The title, “Is algebra necessary?” had the ring of Thurber’s classic essay, “Is sex necessary?”, a send-up of psychological sex manuals of the 1920s.

Unfortunately, the author, Andrew Hacker, poses the question in earnest, and draws the conclusion that algebra should not be required of all students.

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I’ve given this a lot of thought and have come to two conclusions.

One: most people don’t know how properly to flirt. This is because…

Two: most people don’t know what flirting is.

Flirting is as complex as it is fundamental.

Flirting is about communicating with a person through a careful procedure that involves a little curiosity, a bit of brevity and laughter, and some meaningful glances and smiles. While it can be aggressive and obvious, I personally put this overt style of flirting in the ‘hitting on someone’ category.

To me, flirting is quiet and subtle. A look that lingers a moment longer than it otherwise would. The tiniest of smiles. The most seemingly innocent double entendre or Freudian slip. A meaningful exchange of glances in reaction to what a third person says. The most subtle of body language. Ideally, only the most observant of bystanders would even know there was any flirting going on at all.

One popular fact that gets tossed around a great deal is that scientists believe there are as many as 52 “flirting signals” used by humans around the world.

I don’t know how or where the scientists picked up such information but speaking strictly for myself the Number One Undisputed Capital of Flirting, bar none, is The South.

There is something about the flirting that goes on south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Flirting is not merely a skill way down yonder in the land of cotton… it has been elevated, refined and transformed into an Art!

It is through the art of flirtation that people in The South experience the pleasures of interacting with the opposite sex.

Flirting can be a means by which to get into a relationship, of course. It is certainly an enjoyable way to get to know someone initially.

But to me, flirting is an end in and of itself. It doesn’t have to lead anywhere else. To me, flirting is its own reward.

And when flirting with a Southern Girl… the rewards are immeasurable.

It’s been 12 years since I went down to The South. It’s been 12 years since I’ve experienced Flirtation as Art.

Nothing compares. Nothing comes close.

I miss it.

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The folks over at UnitedAcademics.com Magazine pose an interesting question…

Should We Be Optimistic?

If ignorance is bliss, then optimism must be euphoria. Thanks to a mechanism called the optimism bias, humans are pretty much incapable of applying basic risk statistics to their own lives. We know smoking causes cancer, but we don’t expect it to happen to us. We find a lump on our body  and we tell ourselves it’s probably nothing. 

In his 2011 book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman notes that “people tend to be overly optimistic about their relative standing on any activity in which they do moderately well.” This ‘optimism bias’ generates the illusion of control [1]: the idea that we are in control of our lives. Bad things only happen to others.

You can see where this bright outlook on life can cause trouble. Wearing seatbelts? Not necessary.  Opening a savings account? Maybe later. Being overly optimistic in life puts us at risk. In addition, people who show cheerful, optimistic personality traits during childhood, have a shorter life expectancy than their more serious counter parts. On the other hand, optimists are more psychologically resilient, have stronger immune systems, and live longer on average than more reality-based opposites. So who’s better off in life; the optimist or the pessimist?  And who’s reality comes closest to the truth?

According to the “depressive realism” proposition, people who suffer from (moderate) depression actually have a more accurate perception of reality.  They are less affected by the illusion of control and therefore better capable of estimating their chances in life. In other words, people with depression are not pessimists, they are realists.

(Hey! Looks full to me!)

When you tend to attribute positive events to yourself and negative events to others, that is called a self-serving bias [2]. This is the case for most people. When you believe you are responsible for negative events rather than positives ones, you show a non self-serving bias – something that is often seen in people who suffer from depression.

Humans, apparently, have developed a way to better cope with negative emotions. Their rose-colored glasses cause them to view the world just a little better than it actually is. But without them we would never get anything done, says neuroscientist and author of “The Optimism Bias” Tali Sharot: “Optimism pushes us to take chances – attempt a new job, a new relationship. It also acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, as believing a goal is attainable makes it more likely to be.”

Being optimistic is necessary in order to get anything done in life. Without the belief we can accomplish anything, we will not even try to do so. Still, holding on to the belief that everything will be OK in the future does not mean that we should ignore the things that are shitty today.

That, I think, is truly being realistic.

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[1] The tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency of people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way that is beneficial to their interests

[2] The tendency to overestimate one’s degree of influence over other external events.

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Ran into this recipe over at Paula Deen’s website.

I love simple home cooking and this recipe does it for me!

Old-fashioned Meatloaf (a.k.a. Basic Meatloaf)

(Paula Deen’s Old-Fashioned Meatloaf)

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1   egg, lightly beaten
8 ounces canned diced tomatoes (without juice)
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

Topping:
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix all meat loaf ingredients well and place in a baking dish. Shape into a loaf.

Topping: 
Mix ingredients for topping and spread on loaf.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour.

Servings: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 1 hour

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From Paula Deen’s Facebook page:  “Y’all made this meatloaf recipe one of the top recipes on my site last week! Do you have a “standby” meatloaf recipe?”

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I love this article which I read at United-Academics.org.

Babies are healthier when there is a dog at home.

Why? Simple!

Germs!!

New research published in Pediatrics suggests that children living with a dog are significantly healthier than those living without it. The researchers followed up 397 Finnish children, asking their parents to fill in weekly questionnaires about their health until they were 1 year old. Scientists believe that this is so because dog contact helps the babies build up their immune system.

The results showed that children with a dog at home were healthy for about 73% of the time, while the percentage on children without a dog was of 65%. According to the study, the former ‘had fewer respiratory tract symptoms or infections’, as well as ‘less frequent otitis and tended to need fewer courses of antibiotics’ than those without dog contacts, according to Eija Bergroth, the study’s lead author and a pediatrician affiliated with Kuopio University Hospital in Kuopio, Finland.

Moreover, when dogs spent most of their time outside the home, the babies were healthier.

Why? Simple!

Dogs that spend a lot of time outside are likely to bring more dirt and bacteria inside the home compared with dogs that spend more time indoors. Researchers believe that exposure to dirt and bacteria builds up babies’ immune systems.

The study emphasizes the benefits of exposure to animals, at least when it comes to the so-called ‘man’s best friend’. The researchers also analyzed cat contacts, but it seems that the influence of cats on the baby’s health was weaker.

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Source: The Wall Street JournalMedical Xpress

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With about 7 billion people on earth, it’s hard to imagine that human populations were once incredibly small.

Recently, scientists ‘counted’ people who lived 1.2 million years ago by analyzing the human genome.

Some of the information in our DNA has been passed down from those times: over 48,000 generations.

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