Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reflection: My Friend Mandy

I was looking up "Mandy doll" on eBay for a Squidoo page I was working on.  I looked at the ads at the bottom of the page.  Apparently they had Mandy's current page, current address, and telephone number.  Wow! And was Mandy on Facebook, too?

'My Friend' dolls sending friend requests to former playmates? They don't call them My Friend dolls for nothing.

What an advanced age this is! (Or is there something disingenuous here?)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reflection: Hey, Your Chocolate is in my Peanut Butter!

People often imagine it's easier for me to write than talk. No, one advantage to writing is that people don't have to sit around and wait while I do it -- but it's a more cumbersome.

It's not just a matter of being strategic or finding the right thing to say, though that is definitely a part of it in certain contexts.  But there's also the issue of putting it all together. And sometimes I would describe it as a cognitive thing more than a psychological one.  Words that go around and around my head before I type them -- that's obsessive compulsive, huh?  Not always.  Anxiety, perfectionism... those are not the only precipitating factors. One factor that seems to precipitate it is being tired.  And one thing that can help is a stimulant -- e.g. caffeine.

The more tired I am the more I seem to resist task switching: like switching back and forth between purely cognitive things (composing) to things that involved orchestrated motion.  I want to compose a whole paragraph in my head while lying down -- and rehearse it, too.  I might feel ready to type when I've got the paragraph to the point where... well, where it pours out almost as fluently as 3 x 3 = 9.

You know those old commercials where they go, "Hey, your chocolate is in my peanut butter!" It's like the part of my brain that orchestrates expression and the part that controls motion don't want any mixing.  There's a time for chocolate.  There's a time for peanut butter.  But not both.

And I may compose the "Hey, your chocolate is in my peanut butter!" quite fluently while having a conversation in my mind with a friend.  (Which is how I compose a lot of things.) But it can still feel less daunting to keep playing it in my head than to actually switch gears and it.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Reflection: Monotropism and Music

I understand the kind of pleasure that music gives: a pleasure that's built on emotion and repetition. I don't always quite grasp the notion of pleasure in variety.

I was writing to a friend and lamenting some of those same issues I talked about in "Making Sense of Monotropism":  The odd phenomenon of experiencing repetition and momentum as pleasure... and failing to experience it normally in novelty.

"You know what can be more difficult than two hours at a job I don't like?  Two hours at a movie.  If I am with someone I am attached to, it's no problem.  I can sit there and listen to them breathe.  That will keep me amused. So what if there's a movie going on in the background? It's okay. I can handle that it's there. I just won't... watch it."

He said he had a hard time focusing on most movies because they were "formula crock". (No, I didn't change the vocabulary there.)

Something was similar on the surface -- but something was opposite.  My response:

"You don't like formulaic crock? :)  Hmmm.  Formulaic crock is repetitive, but not repetitive enough for me. They change the characters and stuff from one formulaic movie to the next, yes?  I know they change the scenes.  So it's not repetitive to anywhere near the level that a song is repetitive. 

It takes so much time to get in-depth into... oh, caring about the plot and characters, I guess is part of it. I just can't focus much of my attention on it until I do.  But then sometimes I do kind of... by the time it's over.  So then I'd rather see the same one over again than see a new one! I am not the only person to experience that.  But I've known people to explain the phenomena from the outside and explain it in a way that doesn't fit my experience. In my experience it has nothing to do with wanting the world to have a safe, predictable structure.  Predictability, yes, is a part of it, but it's for the sake of pleasure, not safety.  Most people have some understanding of that type of pleasure -- music is based partly on predictability and repetition.  It can evoke pleasure on just a straight neural level when a word rhymes with one in the line before. And when the refrain... repeats.  And it can get even better after you know the song!  

But most people, most of the time, outside of a few little things like music,associate pleasure with novelty. That's one area where it's hard for me to understand the world.  And vice versa."   

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Reflection: A Farewell to Bags

Tomorrow is July 1st, the day plastic bags become illegal in Seattle check out lines.  Paper bags will still be available -- for a price. It wasn't that much earlier that a law was rejected that would have merely put a price on all shopping bags, plastic and paper.  That one wouldn't have even sent plastic bags packing.  Then they passed a tougher one. Times change. Seattle becomes.

At Trader Joe's today, there was a sign at the checkout, reminding people of the legislation that would go into effect July 1. There were no canvas bags sitting at the check out. So the sign was...?  A reminder to bring yours next time?  A reminder to stock up on paper bags while they're free?  (Traditionally, plastic has been for carrying out trash, paper for carrying out recyclables.)

Plastic bags for bulk items... I believe you will still see those.  But I took a picture of the canvas ones in Whole Foods.  The Squidoo-ing life. I've taken a lot of pictures inside stores. And inside my apartment. (Which keeps it cleaner...)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reflection: Auntie Histamine

Histamine is a brain chemical. Some people say it's an important one; others call it quack science.  It's interesting to me because so many things fit. I've read that the high histamine person tends toward obsessive, phobic fear while the low histamine person is more likely to be paranoid. I also read that the high histamine person can have an unusually still energy on the outside while on the inside their brain is going fast, fast, fast.

I imagine histamine is one of many neurochemicals that can have an effect on a person's functioning -- though of course that doesn't mean that a particular behavior is always associated with a particular imbalance. In my case, histamine does have an effect.  Some foods speed up my mind in a bad way.  Food that's past its peak will set my mind racing. I think about the food I ate during my years at the housing co-op: nearly spoiled produce bought at $2.00 a (large) box. Not so good!

The effects of caffeine?  Caffeine seems to calm my mind.  Antihistamines and caffeine can have similar effects on me.  Both can be somnolent.  And both, oddly, can be conducive to work... at least at extreme moments.  There was a point where I took stronger medicine, but I told the doctor the antihistamines worked better.

On histamine, my thoughts are like molecules in a solid.  They tend to move around in a tightly packed space. I can get to the point where it's hard to complete a sentence or action; those fast thoughts are repeating or going in circles instead of moving forward. On caffeine, they reach escape velocity.  There's forward motion.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reflection: State Boards

Writing articles that require me to spend a lot of time on state licensing boards... Occasionally, I laugh out loud. And it isn't just when one declares that candidates must meet the following "eight (9)" standards. State boards seem to have their own character; some become characters in my mind. One will give detailed instructions about the documentation that a person must send to prove a name change; another will treat the process much more cavalierly. One included, in the frequently asked question section, things like, "You mean you're evaluating the ability of my state to..." (I gather that out-of-state applicants were not always happy campers.)

Ah, but the state of Indiana has managed to come across as chipper and cheery. I see that they write 'copy':

The Behavioral Health and Humans Services Licensing Board is excited to offer this new testing opportunity to all future mental health counselors in the State of Indiana and as always, “we work to keep you working.”