Tag Archives: Kitchen Floor

I (Heart) You, Babe

St. Valentine’s Day come round again, bringing with it the pure joy and sense of togetherness that is love.

It surely wouldn’t bring with it feelings of inadequacy, panic, anger, frustration, sexual frustration, crumpling under pressure, performance anxiety, fervent desire to be somewhere — anywhere — else. Surely.

Ha, don’t call it Shirley.

I’m not sure if it’s a difference between dudes and dudettes, but the men I know really have no special affection for Valentine’s Day. To us, it’s just a day where we used to get candy in school and (at least for me) that inadequate feeling when the only Valentines in your bag were the ones that got given out to everyone in the classroom.

Even when I ostensibly grew up, I never saw all that much reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I probably got it from my AlohaDoc, aka my dad.

I can’t remember how many times he told me the story of how, when he was a young dude himself, he used to break up with whoever his girlfriend was at the time right around the first of February. That way he didn’t have to go out and purchase a gift.

Women, on the other candy assortment, seem to love Valentine’s Day. I found this out during the first Valentine’s Day I spent with the lady who would become my wife, known to me then as She Who Must Be Having More Fun Than Anyone I’ve Ever Met Before.

We were about to swap presents when she said, “I love Valentine’s Day. It’s always been so special to me.”

At which point my heart crumbled to dust, sifted out my body and landed in a small, dry pile on the linoleum of her dad’s kitchen floor. Because, being an idiot, I’d managed to get her something remarkably unspecial. Heck, it was so unspecial, I can’t even remember what it was.

What I do remember is the look on her face, the sadness trying to hide behind a really bad poker face. I’ve learned since then. Valentine’s Day is a big deal.

Me? Still not so much. The way I see it, I would rather receive spontaneous recognition of someone’s love for me during the year than have one day where that display is mandated. I mean, is it really special when you’ve got to do it?

I’m not so sure about that.

Anyway, I don’t want to come off sounding all cynical and anti-love. I’m not. Well, not anti-love. I can’t help being cynical. I mean, after all, my eyes and ears do work and I pay attention to the world. How could I not be cynical?

But not cynical about love. Love is amazing. Love. Love will keep us together. It’s just Valentine’s Day I have a problem with.

That said, I still went out and got some very nice presents to hand over to my Sweetie. I’m not telling because she’ll probably read this before I have a chance to give them to her.

The hug’s going to be nice. As for anything else. . .

See you later, dudes.

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Freaky Friday: Ohm, Mahnee, Pahdmay, E=MCsquared

by Richard

Toss the coffee. Flush the energy drink. If you’re trying to keep up with those perpetual motors we call little dudes and dudettes, there might be a better way to help you think your way around those obstacles you love so much: It’s called meditation. No, really.

Scientists have found in a recent study that brief periods of meditation can help to improve your cognition, that is make your thinkin’ parts do more, um, thinkin’ better.

While past research using neuroimaging technology has shown that meditation techniques can promote significant changes in brain areas associated with concentration, it has always been assumed that extensive training was required to achieve this effect. Though many people would like to boost their cognitive abilities, the monk-like discipline required seems like a daunting time commitment and financial cost for this benefit.

Surprisingly, the benefits may be achievable even without all the work. Though it sounds almost like an advertisement for a “miracle” weight-loss product, new research now suggests that the mind may be easier to cognitively train than we previously believed. Psychologists studying the effects of a meditation technique known as “mindfulness ” found that meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day.

I dunno, but it sounds doable to me. Of course, I’m the idiot who thought it was a good idea to try and use dish soap in the dishwasher and didn’t expect to see all those bubbles flowing all over my kitchen floor, so I’m not sure if I’m the right person to start advocating this. Still. What the heck. Competence or lack thereof has never stopped me before, so why now?

The experiment involved 63 student volunteers, 49 of whom completed the experiment. Participants were randomly assigned in approximately equivalent numbers to one of two groups, one of which received the meditation training while the other group listened for equivalent periods of time to a book (J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit) being read aloud. Prior to and following the meditation and reading sessions, the participants were subjected to a broad battery of behavioral tests assessing mood, memory, visual attention, attention processing, and vigilance.

Both groups performed equally on all measures at the beginning of the experiment. Both groups also improved following the meditation and reading experiences in measures of mood, but only the group that received the meditation training improved significantly in the cognitive measures. The meditation group scored consistently higher averages than the reading/listening group on all the cognitive tests and as much as ten times better on one challenging test that involved sustaining the ability to focus, while holding other information in mind.

So, I guess what they’re saying is that one ring really doesn’t rule them all. Either that, or they found the Lord of the Rings as insufferably boring as I did.

The meditation training involved in the study was an abbreviated “mindfulness” training regime modeled on basic “Shamatha skills” from a Buddhist meditation tradition, conducted by a trained facilitator. As described in the paper, “participants were instructed to relax, with their eyes closed, and to simply focus on the flow of their breath occurring at the tip of their nose. If a random thought arose, they were told to passively notice and acknowledge the thought and to simply let ‘it’ go, by bringing the attention back to the sensations of the breath.” Subsequent training built on this basic model, teaching physical awareness, focus, and mindfulness with regard to distraction.

I love the irony here. In order to think better, you’ve got to settle down, clear your mind and do no thinking at all. I wonder if that’ll help me with the diet. To lose the weight, I’ve got to sample the food even more. Hmm. This might have possibilities.

Seriously, this does sound good.However, I have one teeny, tiny problem with this. If we’re going to be using this to help us outthink the little dudes and dudettes running riot through our house, when are we going to get the 20 minutes a day to train ourselves and then the time we need to settle down calmly and start doing the actual meditation?

I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not going to get up any earlier than I’m already forced to do just so I can do this. Maybe I can come up with a solution. Let me meditate on it for a while. Wait! What?

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The Guide: It’s All Fun Until Someone Loses An Eye

by Barry and Richard

Here’s a little more from the guide. Hopefully not quite as controversial as the last couple of installments.

A Dude’s Guide To Babies

We listened to our moms. We heard her tell us all the time that the world was a dangerous place and the only way to stay safe was to listen to her words of wisdom and do exactly what she said. Now, we’re not saying we did that all the time, but we’re still alive so that means we and she must have done something right.

Which brings us to our next point: safety.

When you first bring your baby home, she’s not going to be doing much aside from lying there, sleeping, peeing, pooping and screaming. Sure it’s a full schedule, but there’s not much room in there for getting around the house and into trouble.

Actually that was one of my favorite times with my boys. When they’re that little you can set them down in the middle of the floor and, if you have to run an errand in the house, you can do it. And, even better, when you get back, the baby will still be in the exact same place. But you can’t get lulled into laziness here. You’ve always got to watch your dude and check on him.

That will change as soon as she can start to crawl. When she gets mobile, then everything is fair game. That lovely vase on the table? Shattered on the kitchen floor. All those neat looking bottles of stuff with the skulls on them under the sink? She wonders if they taste as good as they look. Those enamel football helmets you just got from e-Bay? Missing, probably for good.

So, yeah, it’s probably a good idea if you start to get cracking on making sure your house is baby safe. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to cover everything in foam, place a fingerprint recognition lock on every door and brick up every stairway, but you do have some work to do.

The following is a safety checklist of things you’ll need to baby proof around the house. Like all of our lists, it’s not all-inclusive. This time it’s because we don’t know what your house looks like. You’ll have to take these basics and then apply some critical thinking to the rest of your house. We know, thinking hurts, but this will be worth it.

More on safety next week.

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