Category Archives: research

About That Kneeling Thing….

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The REAL Patriots are the protestors.

Donald Trump says that he supports a peaceful protest because it’s an American right….but not the protest about black oppression and racism…..and this is the problem.    Any protest that he, or any conservative, does not agree with, is, according to conservatives, a protest that should be stopped.

Martin Luther King should have marched across a different bridge.  Young black Americans should have gone to a different college and found a different lunch counter, and college kids in the 60’s had no right to protest an immoral war.

People who served in the military during the Vietnam war ….some of them with injuries that our President would have claimed disqualified them from doing so.  They served anyway, because they loved their country.  Their friends were killed in combat….their brothers. Those people did not die so that you could decide who is a patriot and who loves America more.

The young black athletes are not disrespecting America nor the military by taking a kneel during the anthem.  They are respecting the best thing about America.   It’s a dog whistle to the uneducated, racist rednecks among us to say otherwise.   They, and each one of us, should protest how Black Americans are treated in this country.  And if you don’t think white privilege is a fact, you simply don’t understand America.

The comedian, Chris Rock, says it best.  There’s not a white man in America who would trade places with him….and he’s rich.  It has not gone unnoticed that trump has spoken out against the Mexicans who want to come to America for a better life, against the Muslims, and now, the great black athletes.   However, he keeps his mouth shut for days, about the white men who marched under a Nazi flag in Charlottesville, except to remind us, there were “good people” there.   And when he finally tried to say the right thing, NOT ONE of them was called an S.O.B., nor did he say they should be fired.

We have white men in America who wave the Nazi flag or the Confederate flag, and he’s concerned about taking a knee because it “disrespects” this flag.  We use that flag to sell mattresses and beer. We wear it as swimsuits, and wrap our bald heads in flag bandanas, and stick it in our pants, because we disrespect that flag every single day.

Perhaps we all need to read the Constitution again.  There has never been a better use of pen to paper.  Our forefathers made freedom of speech the first amendment.  They listed 10, and not one of them says, “You have to stand during the anthem,” and I’m pretty sure that those men respected the country that they fought for and founded, a great deal more than the self-proclaimed patriots who are simply ignorant hypocrites, because they want to deny the basic freedom of this great country, a country they supposedly value and cherish so much.

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Here Are A Bunch Of Ways Americans Disrespect Our Flag Daily–And No One Complains About It

CLICK HERE

Retreats, Yoga….and

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I went location scouting for a place to hold my first retreat yesterday and ended up at a cool place in Damascus, Oregon.  Scenic location…beautiful sanctuary, dining hall, great vegetarian catering…many many good features.  This might be the place.  Still looking. screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-12-53-49-pm

Started a new yoga class last night that was unlike any I’d participated in previously.  Really enjoyed it.  The theme was focused on gratitude, which we talked a little about as participants, and tried to integrate it into our practice.   I have so much to be grateful for in this life, and it seems to just get better and better, as I settle into this heartfelt happiness.  All areas of my life have improved over the last year.  My friendships/relationships/the family I have here….all so good and better and   best.  Really. I am so thankful.

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The yoga was an hour and a half, and by the end of it, I had begun to feel slightly nauseated. Thankfully, I live nearby, so rushed home and no sooner walked in the door when I got very sick. I investigated why that would have happened after yoga, and it said that sometimes the liver is prompted to release toxins during yoga. I threw up because I was poisoned by these toxins. Today, I feel a little “meepy” (as my old friend, Peggy Spott used to say), but better.

So today was a productive day, work-wise.  I fulfilled some interesting writing orders about various subjects….”the dangers of Aspertame”, “coping with loss,” “how drones can be used in the construction industry…” Just enough to earn a few bucks and get my brain charged up.

Anyway….namaste….and until next time…be sweet now.

Happy Leap Day…well, I think…

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On this, the last day of February, I recall how I used to pity those poor kids who could only celebrate their birthdays on the actual date, every couple of years.  I felt uncomfortable about the ambiguous nature of the leap year birthday. I mean, those poor kids had to hesitate and figure out an understandable response to the question, “How old are you?”.

I have always had a distaste for ambiguity.  Therefore, I ask a lot of questions.  (Liars HATE it that I ask a lot of questions.  I catch them off guard, it seems…)  I ask people a lot of questions, not because I’m nosy but because when I have all the facts about a given situation, I can make better decisions for myself.  It isn’t a judgement issue.  It’s more like:  “If you’re going to do this….then I’m going to do that.”   “If you are going to call back later, I’ll leave my phone on.  If not, I’ll turn it off so I won’t be disturbed while I work.”  It isn’t that I’m asking someone TO call back.  Whatever their decision about this is, will be fine with me.  I just want to know one way or the other so I can take action accordingly.

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Turns out that science has now substantiated why ambiguity bugs me ( or all of us) as much as it does.   The phenomenon  actually screws with our heads.   According to a study published in the Journal of Science, the reason lies in how the brain responds emotionally, and sometimes, even illogically, when forced to make decisions based on conflicting or little evidence.   These so-called ambiguous decisions are different from decisions that we think of as risky decisions.  No wonder the person who is being lied to, for example, appears so nutty to the rest of the world. That person is being fed conflicting information.   The heart hears what it wants to hear, but the head says, “Um….hold on there just a minute….That doesn’t make sense!”

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Wait….If it looks like a duck…then, it IS a duck….but it also looks like a rabbit.  Which do I choose?

When faced with a risky decision, one  is not sure about the outcome of a particular choice but can have a notion about the probability of success. In an ambiguous decision, a person is ignorant of both factors.  Thus, the uncomfortable feeling….the uncertainty, and sometimes illogical and absurd behaviors.

Brain specialists  would say ambiguity is the discomfort from knowing there is something you don’t know that you wish you did.  This probably stems back to the fight or flight area of the brain, the hippocampus, and is a matter of survival.   In the previously mentioned experiment,  subjects were given the opportunity to place  ambiguous bets while their brains were scanned using a functional magnetic resonance imager (fMRI).  In this part of the experiment, participants  were given the choice between placing a monetary bet  on the chances of drawing a red card from a “risky” deck that had 20 red cards and 20 black cards…that is, where the probability of choosing either color was 50-50, and making the same bet with an “ambiguous” deck where the color composition of the cards was unknown.

In the majority of  cases, the participants  decided  to place the risky bet. Logically, however, both bets would have been equally good because in both cases, the chance of pulling a red card on the first draw was 50-50.

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The brain scans taken during the experiment revealed that ambiguous betters were often accompanied by activation of the parts of the brain known as the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC).  These are  two areas of the brain that are involved in the whole emotions processing thing.   The  amygdala has been found to be closely associated with fear, which, again, harkens back to being in survival mode.   If you think about it, a correlation between aversion to ambiguous decisions and activation of emotional parts of the brain makes  perfect sense from an evolutionary point of view.  Do I go into that dark cave or don’t I?  Well, first, I need to know if a saber toothed tiger is in there, right?  And I’m going to be a little nervous about it until I find out.  Should I leave my boyfriend or not….Well, first, I need to find out if he really IS cheating on me.  In the modern human brain, this translates into a reluctance to bet on or against an event if it seems at all ambiguous.

The results of this study could help those of us in the field of Psychology,  understand how humans make decisions in the real world, because the choices people make are often based on very limited information.  (i.e…..All signs point to cheating, but he denies it….or I’m not going to walk into that dark cave if there’s a tiger in there, because it will eat me alive. )

Makes sense to me.

Anyway….Happy Birthday, Leapers…er…Leap Yearlings…um…people whose birthdays are on leap year.  Here’s a nice mug.  Have some coffee.

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No, Jimmy Carter does NOT endorse Trump!

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I opened Facebook this morning and saw about 6 claims from  right wingers, saying that Jimmy Carter now endorses Donald Trump.

It isn’t true.

Jimmy Carter was asked which he would vote for, Trump or Cruz, if he were FORCED to vote for one or the other. He said that under those circumstances, he would go with Trump, because Trump is the more malleable (easily influenced) (as opposed to Cruz being so rigid.)  This was not intended as a compliment toward Trump.   It was meant to infer that Trump is so wishy washy and wants so badly to give the appearance of “winning” (when he actually isn’t winning…) that he refuses to take a firm stand on any issue.   He does back and forth, depending on the demographic to whom he is addressing a given statement.

So NOW, the right wingers have taken those words, twisted them and are misrepresenting what Carter said as an ENDORSEMENT of Trump. Jimmy Carter does not endorse Trump, my friends. I am amazed by the stupidity of the many claims to the contrary that I am seeing across the Internet this morning.

Jeeze! Ain’t lack of education purty?!

Read the whole story HERE.

George Carlin says it best…

 

The Writing Life

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The Mills Brothers  released their hit  “Too Many Irons in the Fire” in 1946.  70 years later, this song could be designated my theme song. Yet, how many irons are too many?  I suppose that much is subjective.

I live a multi-faceted existence and always seem to have a lot of irons in the fire.  With the onset of the new year, however, I find myself busier than ever, but I am also happier than ever, and with great hope for the future.

I am working on opening a new business and have been developing workshops and programs for that, gathering partners and finances, and creating a dynamic endeavor that may take a couple of years to get off the ground, so  I continue to work on other things as I focus on getting this done.

A friend, who is a former celebrity client from a decades-ago stint I did with an entertainment law firm, contacted me over the holidays to ask if I would be part of a $25 million capital raising campaign with a view toward producing 5 new independent films.  I will be working in the capacity of a consultant, designing social media promotions and campaigns, but won’t know many details until some time next week. This will be my first MOIP-related, salaried work I have done since I received my masters degree, and while I’m excited about the work, this is not what I’ll be doing professionally, in the long run, but that is another story for another time.

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In addition to my art work, a large part of my vocational time is spent writing.  I have my various creative writing projects going on….my cookbook, my novel, my poetry and short stories, all of which take the back burner too often in favor of the writing work that I get paid for.

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Over the last 48 hours, I have written essays on the world-renowned Monte Pascoal cigars, Missouri fly fishing, eyeliner, the Bakken oil fields, Maternity photo shoots and the merits of portable ballet barres.  I have written essays for a graphic design company, two criminal law firms, a judge, an artist and a physician whose specialty is the treatment of diabetes.  I have a long list of articles to complete today, and another list of articles that I will have to complete from our retreat at Lake Tahoe.

I have honed article writing down to a fine art and can knock out what my editors designate as “high quality” writing in a very short period of time.  My research skills were honed to perfection while I was in graduate school, and I am able to produce many articles in a short period of time.  All this, is in addition to writing the Chinese fashion catalog that provides an endless stream of work.

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Admittedly, I do not feel a lot of passion about the paid writing that I do.  My heart lies with my creative work, but the paid work provides a good income, and I rather enjoy it.  It isn’t what I intend to do over the long run, but for now, it is fine.

I work through a number of different agencies.  Over the years, my ranking has risen to the top with many of these agencies, and I have received a more noteworthy status than I once had as a hack writer.  Today, I am frequently notified by editors and former clients, so that the majority of the work I do is for private clients or special projects.

My work involves long hours and intense concentration, and, therefore, results in my having to make a special efforts to exercise and stay healthy.  This work can be all-consuming, and it is as easy to forget to eat and exercise as it is to breathe.  There have been days when I have started work before the sun came up, and ended it well after midnight.

In this new year, I shall endeavor to moderate my writing into a more manageable enterprise.  I vow to place my health first, and to exercise twice a day, beginning each morning with  yoga and a long walk, and doing a concentrated aerobic effort each afternoon. I have been doing this three times a week, but I am going to up the ante.

This freedom to arrange my schedule as I want it is the primary reason I continue to pursue the writing life.  This freedom to travel.  This freedom to begin and end work when I want.  The freedom to take off a half hour when my best friend calls, or the freedom to stop what I’m doing to pick Ingrid up from school.  These are the reasons that I write.

Tomorrow, as my friends go to their offices and get snagged in rush hour traffic, I will be departing for Reno/Tahoe.  THIS is why I engage in the writing life.  This freedom to leave when I want or to sleep as late as I want …..although I am an early riser….this freedom is why I write.

 

 

 

It’s Official! 

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There is no greater feeling in life than accomplishing a goal that one has worked hard to achieve….well, maybe seeing my daughter receive HER masters degree was a greater feeling, but this is a significant personal milestone and I’m feeling pretty good about it today.  Congratulations, me. 😀  

Lavender for Migranes

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Lavender has been studied recently for several purposes including treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as a number of other things. Its analgesic effect, however, its painkiller effect, is one of the widely studied properties. Surprising, then, that there hasn’t apparently been a single documented clinical trial to study lavender for the treatment of migraine headaches that affects tens of millions of Americans every year. Until now: “Lavender Essential Oil in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.”

Migraine sufferers were asked to—at the early signs of headache—rub 2–3 drops of the lavender essential oil onto their upper lip and inhale its vapor for a 15-min period of time and score the severity of their headache for the next two hours. In the control group they did the same thing except they used drops of basically unscented liquid wax. Neither group was allowed to use any painkillers. In the lavender group 74% of patients had an improvement in their symptoms, significantly better than placebo. Though in the study lavender wasn’t directly compared to more conventional treatments, lavender appears to stack up pretty well compared to typical drugs. Lavender helped about three quarters of the time, high dose Tylenol only works about half the time, and Ibuprofen 57% of the time. The #1 prescription drug, generic imitrex, is effective 59% of the time, and then the hardcore treatment they use in emergency rooms where they inject you under the skin, 70%. All of these work better than the original migraine therapy, known as trepanning, where doctors drilled a hole in your head to let the evil spirits escape.

Conclusion: The present study suggests that inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches.

You can buy pharmaceutical grade lavender for $21 HERE.

Day #17 – Home

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Guns Are Created to Destroy….children…women…men.

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 That’s what they are for.   They are made to kill human beings and other living creatures.  Far too often, those human beings are innocent children. STOP GUN VIOLENCE!  …and yeah, you redneck pansy mama’s boy…I know it’s your RIGHT to carry one.   That doesn’t mean you have to.  EVOLVE beyond your redneck mentality.
Obama hasn’t taken one single gun away from anyone, as your fear based existence has claimed.  He is only trying to stop the senseless violence like the murder of all those Sandy Hook children.
Target practice is fine.  Hunting is, too, although I don’t agree with it personally.  It is this endless, senseless killing that has to stop.  It just has to.
STOP GUN VIOLENCE.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's photo.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's photo.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's photo.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence's photo.
 

This is gun fetishist Evan Hernandez of Florida, who likes to dress his kids up as shooters and etch Biblical inscriptions into his gun gear. On Sunday he was playing cowboy in front of a mirror with a loaded gun and it went off, killing his 6 year-old daughter Izabella, a leukemia survivor. Please call Florida 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Glenn Hess at (850) 872-4473 or (850) 472-4461 and tell him you want charges brought against Hernandez immediately.

Nepal

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Click HERE to learn how to offer relief effort to the victims of the earthquake in Nepal.

(Thank you, Karma Hallmark)  xoxo

Let’s Get Physical! (and smell better!)

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Between yoga and visits to the Green Gym, my energy levels have really gone up and I’m feeling very good, particularly after a largely sedentary winter or heavy school and work/work.   All of my senses have sharpened, which is but one of many benefits of increasing physical exercise. But this leads to a less pleasant aspect of working out.

Body odor. 

When I was at the gym this morning, I had to exit the treadmill because the man lifting weights next to me STANK so badly!  I’m not a prima dona.  It’s a gym. You’re SUPPOSED to break out into a sweat….but this particular man smelled so vile that I could not stand it….

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Which leads to this:

Since that nasty smoking vice was outlawed in  clubs and other public places, customers began to complain about unpleasant smells, such as body odors.  This prompted researchers in Europe to try to find ways to cover them up. They measured the effects of peppermint, for example on dancing activity,  and asked people to rate their energy levels from calm and quiet to fervid and frenzied…. and indeed people felt more cheerful, danced more.   So environmental fragrancing, such as the essential oil diffusers that I keep writing about,  may be expected to have a positive effects on future club revenue.   I recently read that some  innovative nightclubs are already inviting aroma jockeys to smell the places up.  Good move, so long as pure essential oils are used, and not heavy, ugly perfumes.

The business community caught whiff of this and thought, “Perhaps  we can get our secretaries to type faster.”

And it worked!

Improved performance on clerical tasks associated with the administration of peppermint odor. They also used an electronic memory device to measure memory, Milton Bradley’s Simon game.  Do you remember that?   I loved that game…BUT…the experiment didn’t work.

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Still, the researchers figured that if the scent of peppermint can increase typing performance, it might be able to do the same with athletic performance…..so the researchers threw some collegiate athletes onto treadmills and exposed them to  different smells.  The ones that were exposed to peppermint reported feeling less fatigued, more vigorous, less frustrated, and just felt they performed better. But did they REALLY perform better?

The first study was just about the psychological aspects of athletic performance. This study measured actual performance, and participants were able to squeeze out one extra pushup before collapsing and cut almost 2 seconds off a quarter mile dash with an odorized adhesive strip stuck to their upper lip. Interestingly there was no significant differences in basketball free throws. They think the reason is that free throws actually require some skill, and all the peppermint can do is really improve athlete’s motivation. If an athlete does not have the skill to make the free-throw, increasing the level of motivation will merely result in a more motivated athlete who still does not have the skill to make the free-throw.

Unfortunately follow-up studies were not able to replicate these results, showing no beneficial effect of smelling peppermint on athletic performance…… so how about EATING peppermint?  Well….the effects of peppermint on exercise performance, measured before and after almost 2 weeks of drinking bottles of water with a single drop of peppermint essential oil in them. And all their performance parameters shot up, churning out 50% more work, 20% more power, and a 25% greater time to exhaustion!!  Wow!  Powerful stuff!   With improvements across the board in all those fancy physiological alphabet soup parameters that all the exercise geeks love, indicating increased respiratory efficiency. They attribute these remarkable results to the peppermint opening up their airways, increasing ventilation and oxygen delivery.

A word of caution, however.   You can actually overdise on the stuff. However, a few drops are ok and shouldn’t be toxic. I’d rather see folks blending fresh mint leaves in water rather than using peppermint OIL….sort of like a mojito without the rum and sugar.  The bad news is that may lower one’s libido. There are studies out there of men drinking four or five cups of day of spearmint or peppermint tea and losing their sex drive.  Then again, as any good coach will tell you,  THAT  may improve athletic performance even more.  Because of the antiandrogenic, researchers decided to try it out on hairy women, and in a matter of just 5 days were able to drop their free testosterone levels by about 30% with two cups of tea a day.

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There’s actually a syndrome called PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can result in abnormally high testosterone levels in women, which can successfully be brought down with mint tea.

So there ya have it.

Go to the gym.  Do yoga.  Drink tea.  Chew peppermint gum.  Use deodorant.  Any questions?  🙂

References:

H N J Schifferstein, K S S Talke, D J Oudshoorn. Can Ambient Scent Enhance the Nightlife Experience? Chemosens Percept. Jun 2011; 4(1-2): 55–64.

S Barker, P Grayhem, J Koon, J Perkins, A Whalen, B Raudenbush. Improved performance on clerical tasks associated with administration of peppermint odor. Percept Mot Skills. 2003 Dec;97(3 Pt 1):1007-10.

B Raudenbush, B Meyer, B Eppich. The effects of odors on objective and subjective measures of athletic performance. North American Journal of Psychology, 2003, Vol 5 No 2 181-192.

B Raudenbush, N Corley, W Eppich. Enhancing athletic performance through the administration of peppermint odor. JSEP Volume 23, Issue 2, 156-160.

P Pournemati, M A Azarbayiani, M B Rezaee, V Ziaee, P Pournemati. The effect of inhaling peppermint odor and ethanol in women athletes. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2009;110(12):782-7.

A Meamarbashi, A Rajabi. The effects of peppermint on exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013; 10: 15.

S S Nath C Pandey, D Roy. A near fatal case of high dose peppermint oil ingestion- Lessons learnt. Indian J Anaesth. 2012 Nov-Dec; 56(6): 582–584.

M Akdogan, M N Tamer, E Cure, M C Cure, B K Koroglu, N Delibas. Effect of spearmint (Mentha spicata Labiatae) teas on androgen levels in women with hirsutism. Phytother Res. 2007 May;21(5):444-7.

M Akdogan, M Ozguner, A Kocak, M Oncu, E Cicek. Effects of peppermint teas on plasma testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone levels and testicular tissue in rats. Urology. 2004 Aug;64(2):394-8.

P Grant. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):186-8.