rhcrayon: The Blog!
Sep. 10th, 2012
We interrupt our regularly promised post to say, Listen to this TED talk:
Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability
Amazing. Freakin' amazing. We know these things to be true, but when you hear it, you can use it in a new way. Especially if it ties into your book. But your book comes from your life, too. So we really have to
know what we're doing. embrace not knowing what we're doing? Something like that.
In order to do it.
Kind of like what M.T. Anderson once said at a past SCBWI Summer Conference: "The experiment is the piece of literature, not the preparation for the piece of literature."
So with life!
P.P.S. With thanks to Irvin Lin at Eat the Love for leading me to this talk, after an amazing weekend of Irvin and AJ hosting me in SF. Love you guys so much.
Jun. 20th, 2008
In order to clean my apartment (and restore order), I must expend energy and heat, which increases total disorder in the universe. In order to not contribute to world disorder, I need do nothing.
My apartment is very peaceful right now. We are spinning along together—it and I—through the universe, through time—disturbing no one.
A disorderly desk is a sign of a peaceful mind. Happy. Working.
I was doing well with the kid-level science books. I made the quantum leap to Stephen Hawking, however, and now I understand nothing. But I am wiser about my apartment.
I think Stephen Hawking also just told me that even if our universe began contracting tomorrow, my apartment would still get messier. (As opposed to cleaning itself up, which is what he thought could happen before.)
I'm having great nonsensical fun with all this, since it’s all one to me.
Stephen Hawking also just told me, in so many words, that the mere effort of trying to learn has already, apparently, also increased world disorder by at least ten million million million times the amount of any information—correct or incorrect—I could have possibly gained.
The question thus becomes, Why try?
Ah. Why indeed . . . That’s like asking what makes us human . . . (she says as she climbs into her rocket ship and fastens her seatbelt, revving the engine and undoing the earth),
I wrote this a few hours ago, before picking my husband up from his week-long business trip. As soon as we got home, I told him exactly what I just told you. I was all, “Tonight I learned that any effort I put into creating order in this apartment would only give off heat and energy, which would contribute more to the total disorder in the universe.”
He said, “So we should never clean the apartment.”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “Well, we knew that. It’s the Law of Entropy. You write it with a big S.”
Why do people know these things???
(And does the fact Damon has all this science information lodged so readily in his brain that—as far as I know—he hasn't used ever—explain why he can’t remember who told us which funny anecdote at which dinner party how long ago?? And is the fact I don't have this knowledge the reason that I can??)
I've also been thinking a lot about this old entry.
Jan. 31st, 2008
It's been eight months since my last round-up of wacky highlights from around the Web.
Once again, in reverse chronological order from how I received them, I bring you the "best" of what my friends have sent to me. These are filed under the tag "Links You Don't Need But Oh Man." Because, Oh, the humanity! You guys have gotten really good at only forwarding stuff I like.
To be read at your leisure (or never)
Cheeseburger In A Can
Says my friend Irvin, "I'm in the mood for a cheeseburger. Perhaps I will just open up this   can   then . . . "
This was soon followed up by another link from Tony E, who found pictures of someone actually eating one:
(Warning: there may be occasional strong language at the latter forum. But, if you have a strong stomach [haha], go ahead and look!)
(Forwarded by Irvin and then Tony E on Jan. 30th and 31st, 2008, respectively.)
A link from the above led me to discover a further curiosity, by the way: Bacon Salt. If you liked Cheeseburger in a Can, you will love Bacon Salt!
Thumbs Race as Japan's Best Sellers Go Cellular
Incredible! Unbelievable! Five of Japan's ten bestselling novels last year were written on cell phones via text msg-ing installments! The cellphone novel is apparently huge in Japan, with previous non-writers and non-readers writing and consuming a gajillion novels written, uploaded, and downloaded via cell phones! For the cost of sending/receiving a gajillion text msgs ("only"), with no publishing/sales money exchanging hands between reader and writer. And the biggest blockbusters go on to get (re)published in traditional form by traditional publishers—to phenomenal sales! And get made into movies! And, and . . . check it out!
Regarding these "non"-writers and "non"-readers—
that's how the cellphone novelists and readers were described in the article, but I'm not convinced. This is the first generation to grow up on text msg-ing, so who's to say these budding creatives didn't have readers/writers waiting inside them? (I say this in spite of the fact an expert in the article totally testifies it is the medium that has made them so.)
(Fwd'ed by Lee on Jan. 20th, 2008, and there are some amazing other details to this story—like the bestselling cellphone novelist who had to switch to a computer because of her bleeding thumbs.)
Point Break: Live!
Oh. Oh. My life was made wonderful last fall when I got to watch Point Break: Live! on my birthday with a group of super-game friends: a stage play adaptation of my all-time favorite action adventure movie from 1991. And you can still watch it now! The run in L.A. keeps getting extended!!
I blogged about this once before. Basically, the show casts a new "Keanu" (Johnny Utah) out of the audience every night, who then reads his lines off cue cards while the cast acts out the entire movie around him. Sky diving, surfing, special effects, you name it. (Bank robberies! The 50-Year Storm! Fake blood!) If you love this movie—or if you have an inner Keanu waiting to be discovered (which, apparently, a gajillion people do)—this play zings to your soul.
The night we went, the original writer of Point Break was in the audience, too. I went up during the break with fellow Point Break groupie Mondona to shake his hand. I told him I still have the movie poster in mint condition. He seemed almost not to believe me.
I have a couple stories about Point Break's influential role in my life, but that's coming in a near-future post. :)
(Link fwd'ed by Damon, because he is now on the Point Break: Live! mailing list. Haha!! The show also has a MySpace page here.)
Damon auditioning for the part of Keanu. He made it to the top three out of a long line of hopefuls—along with the original Point Break writer. But that guy in the brown hoodie beat them both. And was awesome.
How to Charge an iPod using Electrolytes and an Onion
I love this. Please send more cool science tricks my way!!
(Via Emmie on Nov. 20th, 2007.)
A Taiwanese, TOILET-themed diner (actually CHAIN of diners)
The most amusing thing about this story to me is that the ice cream shown in the lead photo does not, as the captioned article suggests—look like "faeces." It looks like regular soft serve ice cream. But Asian artists have always—since time out of mind—rendered cartoon poo to look like super-cute soft serve ice cream—almost inevitably dropped on a sidewalk and steaming. Now someone has taken that idea and run.
(Forwarded by Emmie on Nov. 14th, 2007. Our friend Irvin, in particular, has long been mystified by the phenomenon that is Asian cartoon poo.)
Update from Jan. 29th, 2008: I just found out from a friend that this "popular" chain has already closed nearly all its locations. Ah, Taiwan; how your fads come and go. I also hear there's a new place that's jail-themed. You eat your meal . . . in jail.
Right Brain vs. Left Brain
This link created a huge stir among my friends, and maybe it has among yours, too. In addition to everyone updating each other on whether they could "flip" the dancer, we also debated whether this was truly a left-brain/right-brain test; a neutral illusion along the lines of the faces/vases or transparent cube; or whether it was related to the stroboscopic effect.
For a moment, Damon convinced me the emperor had no clothes. Neither he nor I could flip it, and when we finally both did, it was at the exact same moment. Damon thought the Web site changed, not us.
My brother's reply cracked me up. Quoth he,
I'll research this some more tonight, but I'm pretty sure the girl changes direction whenever she wants to.
(Sent by Julie on Oct. 17th, 2007, followed by my brother's response the next day.)
Okay, you totally do not need this link, but it made me laugh so hard. Star Wars fans, take note.
(Spotted on Barry Lyga's blog last fall—not that I know him or anything. :) )
Little Asian DJs
These guys cheer me up so much; I love watching them bop and grin! Not only did I revisit this a few times, I even eventually clicked on their side links—like this one and this one.
(Forwarded by Julie and Kevin on Sept. 26th, 2007.)
P.S. Also this link.
Says my cousin Amy, "[A]s their parents, I would be afraid."
Is this truly a Cadbury Chocolate commercial??
I . . . cannot account for this. Neither could Felisa when she sent it. But it is mesmerizing and . . . yeah.
(Via Felisa on Sept. 7th, 2007.)
La Palma is the 16th best place to live in the country
That's my home town! Hahaha!! La Palma was the only city in all of Orange County to make the top 100; it's the best small city to live in, in Orange County, according to CNN.
When I first met my college roommate Meg, freshman year, she introduced herself as coming from "the second best place to live in the U.S." We were all, "Really?? Where??" Except for one guy who beat her to naming it—because he came "from the number one place to live in the U.S." I forget what obscure town that was, but Meg totally knew.
Now I can say, "I'm from La Palma—you may have heard of it. The 16th best place to live in the country?"
(With thanks to Vicki, who forwarded the article at my request. See the full Top 100 list here.)
"Check it out! It's genius!"
The Baker's Edge brownie pan
That was the email subject line when Emmie sent me this. And she's right. It is.
(Forwarded by Emmie on July 13th, 2007. The woman knows what I like.)
The (Other) Secret
The inverse square law trumps the law of attraction
Scientific American tackles The Secret, a book and DVD that has gotten much attention from my friends this past year. What I enjoyed most about this article was that I (a somewhat science-defunct person) had just learned the inverse square law in my photography class. I had no idea the same law governing how to use my flash could also calculate the power of my mind.
(So, if the thing I want is twice as far from me as I want it to be, I should think about it four times as hard. Thanks!!)
This is also the best use of the word risible I have ever seen. I want to use this same phrase now—perhaps in a Victorian novel featuring a character named Maude.
"Such risible twaddle!"
(Forwarded by Chris on June 13th, 2007.)
If I hadn't married into a Japanese American family, I would only find this bizarre. Because I have married into a Japanese American family, however, whenever I see a Japanese game show, I find it bizarre, relevant, and mindblowing. To think: there is an entire country of people out there that think just like my husband!
(Forwarded by Benji on June 12th, 2007.)
The Encyclopedia of Life
This, my friends, is the book we have all been waiting for. And it is real, real, real.
(Forwarded by Emmie on May 9th, 2007.)
Death by Caffeine
Just the info you needed. If you choose the caffeine vehicle of your choice from the pull-down menu (coffee, soda, Red Bull, etc.) and then enter your weight, this calculator will tell you how much of that product will kill you.
(Discovered during some online "research" on April 30th, 2007.)
Chocolate 'better than kissing'
When it comes to tongues, melting chocolate is better than a passionate kiss, scientists have found.
Completely sensible findings about all the ways in which chocolate is better than everything, even kissing. My favorite quote:
The research used a new 60% cocoa dark chocolate from Cadbury, and a spokeswoman for the chocolate makers said: "You'd think people would be shy about kissing in a laboratory, but that wasn't the case at all. We're not talking about a quick peck here."
Well. I mean. If you put a pile of the most wonderful dark chocolate on the one hand, and Damon, puckered up, on the other . . . I would at least think about it.
(Via Emmie on April 16th, 2007.)
If you still haven't had enough, click the "links you don't need but oh man" tag below for past highlights. :) I like the long delay between these posts. I think I'll wait until next January to do another.
May. 1st, 2007
12:29 pm - My First Red Bull
Wow Red Bull tastes worse than Monster Energy. Similar, but worse. Same bubblegum initial taste; really strong orangey second taste that goes into your nose the whole time swiftly follows; but always that sickly sweet flatness underneath. And tart!
My heart is burning. More than it does with coffee.
Wow it gets worse with every next sip.
Some Reading Comprehension Questions For You
How often (if ever) do you drink “energy drinks” (Red Bull, Monster Energy, Full Throttle, Sobe, etc.)? Which ones? Do you have an opinion which ones are better than others? Do you drink them in addition to, or instead of, coffee or tea? Do you know anyone who drinks them regularly? If you don’t, who do you imagine does?
What is your take on them? If I put one in front of you now, would you drink it?
No need to re-reply if I’ve already asked you these questions personally! (Though you’re welcome to!!)
Also, check out this link:
Choose your caffeine vehicle of choice from the pulldown menu and then enter your body weight. The calculator will tell you how much of that stuff will kill you.
Jun. 20th, 2006
06:17 pm - Love and Dementia
So I just read this National Geographic article (February 2006) randomly, at D's stepbrother's house this past Father's Day, all about how love has been proven to have striking chemical similarities to mental disorder.
I love articles like this. They hook me so fast.
It was the cover story. Look:
So what, really, is this thing called love?
Scientists say that the brain chemistry of infatuation is akin to mental illness—which gives new meaning to "madly in love."
One of Fisher's central pursuits in the past decade has been looking at love, quite literally, with the aid of an MRI machine. Fisher and her colleagues Arthur Aron and Lucy Brown recruited subjects who had been "madly in love" for an average of seven months. Once inside the MRI machine, subjects were shown two photographs, one neutral, the other of their loved one.
What Fisher saw fascinated her. When each subject looked at his or her loved one, the parts of the brain linked to reward and pleasure—the ventral tegmental area and the caudate nucleus—lit up. What excited Fisher most was not so much finding a location, an address, for love as tracing its specific chemical pathways. Love lights up the caudate nucleus because it is home to a dense spread of receptors for a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which Fisher came to think of as part of our own endogenous love potion. In the right proportions, dopamine creates intense energy, exhilaration, focused attention, and motivation to win rewards. It is why, when you are newly in love, you can stay up all night, watch the sun rise, run a race, ski fast down a slope ordinarily too steep for your skill. Love makes you bold, makes you bright, makes you run real risks, which you sometimes survive, and sometimes you don't.
You can't read the whole article online, cuz it's in the magazine. But I'll tell you: the upshot is (forgive my inaccuracies here) that in addition to this dopamine factor, people in love and people who are clinically offbeat (specifically with obsession compulsive disorder) both show a 40% serotonin deficiency in common. Prozac, zoloft, and paxil can nicely manage one's serotonin levels and make one a more-balanced person all around, yet inhibit one from feeling mad love.(!) And further, the article says, the likelihood of a couple to stay together (forever and ever, a long, long time) once this mad-love phase is over (over??) seems linked to a different chemical: the levels of oxytocin in both partners. Oxytocin promotes long-term stability (and its production can be encouraged through activities like physical massage).
The article also explores some experiments currently being conducted on how to "induce" love via these natural, biochemical channels, like this one studio class session in NYC that people can sign up for, wherein single strangers come in and make themselves go through the assigned exercises of looking into each other's eyes for two full minutes, massage, etc. By the end of the class, these people all felt attracted to each other, and two went on to get married.
(Also, that bit regarding the location/"address" in the brain for love reminded me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. heh.)
I wonder if people like my brother and me, who both hooked up with our significant others early in life (and have since married them), are born naturally high in oxytocin? Damon, too. He was a serial monogamist long before he joined forces with me.
Also, here is a separate article on how oxytocin makes us more trusting with our money:
Investors who smelled a dose of oxytocin before playing the game were far more likely to hand over money than those in a control group who received a placebo.
Notably, the effect was not seen when the trustee was replaced with a computer. This suggests that oxytocin makes people more willing to engage in social interaction and not just more likely to take risks.
. . .
"In first analyses we see that a single dose of oxytocin enables patients with severe social phobia to … reduce anxiety," Heinrichs said.
The role of oxytocin could also help scientists to better understand disorders that cause some people to display too much trust. Children with a rare genetic disorder known as Williams syndrome, for example, approach strangers indiscriminately. The children's high level of trust could be due to excessive oxytocin release, scientists speculate.
"This is the beginning of understanding human trust and positive social interaction from a biological point of view," Heinrichs said.
Of course, one could also imagine more dubious uses for the "trust potion"—say, if car dealers or investment bankers sprayed their offices with oxytocin.
There are many, many more articles of similarly interesting nature all over the National Geographic Web site. Like this article, and this article, and even this one, which says, among other things, that cheese is likely to be a far more effective aphrodisiac than chocolate. Quote:
"Cheese actually contains those same components but ten times more of them," she said. "You could realistically get that hormone rush from cheese."
Cheese also has some heavyweight historical proponents. The 18th-century Italian playboy Casanova is said to have sworn by the combination of red wine and stilton.
Reiley herself favors ginger. The fiery root has long been esteemed as an aphrodisiac in Asia but is little known as such in the West.
Basically, I could fill this post up, on and on, quoting articles from all over this Web site.
Maybe I should subscribe.
Feb. 27th, 2006
06:32 pm - The Magic Ratio of LOVE
Check out this thing I just read online (while googling the word negativity). This biopsychiatry site says our brains are wired with a very well-documentedly, scientifically proven "negativity bias." Perhaps for survival reasons, we process bad news far more fully than good.
Then, the article veers toward the topic of marriage:
Numerous researchers have found that there is an ideal balance between negativity and positivity in the atmosphere between partners. . . . What really separates contented couples from those in deep marital misery is a healthy balance between their positive and negative feelings and actions toward each other. Even couples who are volatile and argue a lot stick together by balancing their frequent arguments with a lot of demonstrations of love and passion. . . .
Here's the tricky part. Because of the disproportionate weight of the negative, balance does not mean a 50-50 equilibrium. Researchers have carefully charted the amount of time couples spend fighting vs. interacting positively. And they have found that a very specific ratio exists between the amount of positivity and negativity required to make married life satisfying to both partners.
That magic ratio is five to one. As long as there was five times as much positive feeling and interaction between husband and wife as there was negative, researchers found, the marriage was likely to be stable over time. In contrast, those couples who were heading for divorce were doing far too little on the positive side to compensate for the growing negativity between them.
Other researchers have found the same results in other spheres of our life. It is the frequency of small positive acts that matters most, in a ratio of about five to one.
Taken from http://www.biopsychiatry.com/depres
sion/negbias.html (emphases mine)
Wow! Five to one!
Based on this, I immediately conducted my own experiment. I imagined Damon saying to me—and I said out loud while counting on my fingers—"I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I hate you."
That did not feel nice.
If Damon said he loved me five times and then said he hated me, that would not make up for it, yo.
Based on my own scientific experiment, I have concluded that Damon and I must operate at a far higher positive-to-negative ratio than the daily recommended value of five to one. In fact, I would venture to say (just pulling a number out of my ear for a moment) that we probably operate somewhere closer to 95% positivity, or a ratio of 19 to 1. Hm.
That feels about right.
Is this like the Golden Mean? Or the Golden Rule? Eh??
But what if D said "I hate you" first and then said "I love you" five times? Hold on. Let me try that.
Actually, that's better.
Perhaps by the
Damon just got home as I was posting this. I tried to get him to conduct the experiment with me, by telling him to say the sentences above prescribed. He got all bashful/shocked. I let it go.
Do you know, I just read this over, and it's all I can do not to add italics to the word hate wherever it appears. I refrained because italics would suggest I'd said "hate" more emphatically than "love," and I didn't. I kept them all neutral (for the purposes of science). But it's true: the word hate does jump out at you. Our brains are totally messed up.