March 31st, 2012 by Richard
I’m going to call what I just went through for the last couple of weeks a major first-world problem. All right with you dudes? Sure it is. You know what I’m talking about.
For those of you who don’t, a first-world problem is something that’s really — in the grand scheme of things — only something to worry about because we’ve got so much else buffering us from the harsh realities of life that so many other people have to struggle with every day just to survive. For instance, having your favorite nail polish stop making the color you’ve been using for the last year or so and it was just the right color and now you don’t have anything to match it. Or, the hi-def channels aren’t working and you’ve already got all the beer cooled and the snack foods left out and all the dudes over and the game’s about to start.
These things are annoying, sure. But they’re not something we should be making a big deal over.
Neither, of course, is not having access to your own personal washing machine for more than two weeks. But I still just about had a hissy fit until we got it back, let me tell you.
The washing machine started to go bad a couple of days before the apocalyptic ending in which it spun and shook and spun and shook and made more noise than the last Kiss concert. Although, to be fair, it was slightly more rhythmic. It was toast.
So I called the Sears repairfolk and they sent someone over. He looked it over and said, “Hmmmm.” Then he printed out a receipt, said he had to order some parts and would be back in a week. Before the week was up, I got another call that the parts were backordered and it would be a while longer.
Finally, this week, it got fixed. I just about fell to my knees in thanks.
I’d been having to make these long trips to the local coin laundry, lugging heavy suitcases of clothing along with soap and fabric softener and lots and lots of quarters. Sure it was fun, in that I got to sit there and watch some TV talk to the other folks haunting the waiting area until we heard our ding and all that. The thing is, though, it made it so I couldn’t do anything else but wash. Stuff got put off. Which meant I put off doing the laundry. Until it was a huge mess. Which made it more difficult to do. Which meant I put it off. . .
You get the point. Definitely a first-world problem. At least I had clean clothing, and a place to wash them that wasn’t filled with swimming, eating and pooping fishy creatures. And nothing wanted to eat me while at the watering hole.
Yes, I’m probably spoiled. Just like you dudes, but I gotta tell you, I like it. I like being able to do laundry any time and however much I want.
Thank you Sears repairfolk for finally getting the job done. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to do go some laundry.
And, of course, I’ve run out of the liquid soap so I’ll have to use that dry powder and it’s all messy and I’ll have to have one of the young dudes vacuum it up. Ugh. It’s just going to be terrible.
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March 30th, 2012 by Richard
The love drug is more than just a slang name for the already slangy Spanish Fly. (Dude, does that date me.) Love acts just like any other drug in that it can cause your brain chemistry to change, which, in turn, forces your emotions to change and alters your behavior.
The only difference is that you can’t get love in a pill. Yet.
So, we’re talking about love and all the stuff it can do to you. This conversation got started when I read a nice opinion piece by Diane Ackerman in the New York Times the other day. Some good stuff.
As imaging studies by the U.C.L.A. neuroscientist Naomi Eisenberger show, the same areas of the brain that register physical pain are active when someone feels socially rejected. That’s why being spurned by a lover hurts all over the body, but in no place you can point to. Or rather, you’d need to point to the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex in the brain, the front of a collar wrapped around the corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibers zinging messages between the hemispheres that register both rejection and physical assault.
Whether they speak Armenian or Mandarin, people around the world use the same images of physical pain to describe a broken heart, which they perceive as crushing and crippling. It’s not just a metaphor for an emotional punch. Social pain can trigger the same sort of distress as a stomachache or a broken bone.
And that’s just social anxiety. Imagine the feeling magnified many-fold when it’s rejection by the person you love. Of course, there’s also the reverse, in that the feeling of joy you experience when you’re loved and in love is something amazing and wonderful. It also can act as a painkiller.
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James Coan, a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, conducted experiments in 2006 in which he gave an electric shock to the ankles of women in happy, committed relationships. Tests registered their anxiety before, and pain level during, the shocks.
Then they were shocked again, this time holding their loving partner’s hand. The same level of electricity produced a significantly lower neural response throughout the brain. In troubled relationships, this protective effect didn’t occur. If you’re in a healthy relationship, holding your partner’s hand is enough to subdue your blood pressure, ease your response to stress, improve your health and soften physical pain. We alter one another’s physiology and neural functions.
To me, that’s the most amazing thing about love: that a simple emotion can actually make physical changes in our bodies. A feeling can change the mechanism by which the feeling itself is generated. That’s pretty cool stuff, dudes.
You know? Wait. I lied. That isn’t the most amazing thing. The most amazing thing is that I am in loved and am loved.
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March 29th, 2012 by Richard
I’m taking a break from talking about your brain on love to talk about a brain I love. Yeah, that’s right. It’s time to celebrate another birthday. This time, it’s my namesake, my pater, my dad, the last man in the Jones line to have some play on a slang word for penis as his nickname. Well, his intentional nickname.
(His grandkids all call him Dickey Doo [because he says he's too young to be a grandfather.] and even that’s going to fade with him. Even though he’s an awesome granddad, I have the feeling no one’s going to want to call themselves that nickname once he gives it up.)
Dickey Jones is a pretty amazing dude when I stop to think about it.
When I was growing up, he was just my dad; the guy who worked late, liked to run around in tight jogging shorts for no reason and who introduced me to the joy that is the Hawaiian shirt.
I had no idea this dude was a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, one of the most respected teacher/physicians in the country, an inventor, a former major-college football player and track star, a valued scientific researcher and a wanna-be hippy. Okay, that last part I did know. Far too well. But the other stuff was a mystery to me until I got older.
We haven’t always gotten along well. Being a father, he suffered a near-terminal diminishment of intelligence when I was between the ages of 15 and 25, but he managed to survive. No matter what was going on between us, though, my dad always approached things with a calm joy that has come to characterize his life.
Dad is a man who enjoys the finer things in life. One of his greatest joys, though, isn’t keeping that fine thing to himself, but sharing it with others, people who might not have a chance to experience something like that. He and his wife are major parishioners at a Catholic church in Dallas where most of the people attending are at or below the poverty line. They have offered a hand out to many of the people there just because they can.
That’s as good a definition of good Christian as I’ve ever heard. And it’s describing someone who used to describe himself as beyond gods and devils. That was during the ego years back in the early 1970s. I blame the drugs. No, not ones he took, ones others took and led them to believe just about anything said with a modicum of passion and coherence.
He gave me a lot of things. My love of argument came from him and my mom, as did my love of reading. They taught me to always stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves and never let anyone do without if you can help them.
I’m proud to call this dude my dad.
Happy birthday, Dad.
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