Friday, October 25, 2013

Brainwashing Anyone?

The news this week carried an article about research done right here in my back yard. Well, not really my literal back yard, but a few miles up the road at the University of Rochester. The study showed that when a person sleeps, the brain is actually washed, by cerebral-spinal fluid, removing toxins that have accumulated during the day.

This brought back memories from when I was a young boy. I was fascinated with the concept of “brainwashing”. It seems to me that the concept appeared in a few shows that I watched. In those shows, brainwashing seemed to sometimes be accomplished by hypnosis and at other times complex machinery was used to plant suggestions for the brainwashee to act on, when stimulated by a specific stimulus. In more extreme cases, brain washing wiped a person’s memories and replaced them with new ones, creating a whole new person.

In fact, as a child, I wanted a pocket watch so I could hypnotize people. After all, it would be totally stinking awesome to get my brother and sister to do my chores for me. Then one Christmas, my brother and I got toy stop watches that I could run a string through and use to hypnotize my siblings. 
My evil plan was about to commence.

I tried to hypnotize my brother first, by spinning and swinging the plastic watch, dangling on the end of the string in front of his eyes. In as deep a soothing monotone as I could muster, I said “You are getting sleepy, very sleepy”.  It didn’t work. Then I tried my sister. This time i turned the lights down, to create a relaxing atmosphere. Once again, slowly swinging the watch, I chanted soothingly, “Sleepy, you are getting sleepy.” It still didn’t work. For a long time the three of us went back and forth, each of us trying to hypnotize each other, without success. No hypnosis, no brain washing, no getting our siblings to do our chores for us.  

Perhaps it was because the watches weren’t real pocket watches; they were toy stop-watches. Or maybe it was because they were plastic and not shiny silver or gold disks that beautifully reflected the light. Or maybe it was the string, rather than a fancy chain, we used to suspend the watches from our hands.

Years later, I took a psychology class, and the professor actually spent one class period teaching about hypnosis and demonstrated it in class. It was then I realized how complex the concept of hypnosis really is and that what you see on TV is not quite proper, because they don’t want little children hypnotizing their siblings and planting  the hypnotic suggestion of doing another person’s chores. 

Now that I have a better understanding of hypnosis, as well as three daughters, and lots of chores, if anyone is looking for a present to gift me for Christmas, I could use a nice shiny, metal pocket watch, with a real chain.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Government is Shut Down? What Ever Shall We Do?

The biggest news of the week has been the shutdown of the Federal Government, at least the non-essential parts. This, of course, screams to have the question asked, “Why do we put up with any portion of our government being non-essential?” With a national debt into the trillions of dollars, why do we pay for things we can do without?

Of course, people have differing views on what is essential and what is not. This is usually divided along lines of personal priorities. Those visiting national parks believe that after months of planning and hundreds of miles of travel, it is essential that they view the wonders of God’s creation, although the Government seems to think that adoring  and basking in the glory of creation is non-essential.

And people are arguing over who is to blame for this shut down. Democrats are pointing the finger at Republicans, who in turn are retorting, “When you point a finger at me, there are three others pointing right back at you.”

To which the Democrat’s reply, “Well, you are a big doody head.”

From Facebook timeline, not sure who to attribute it to.

Then we turn our attention to the furloughed federal workers. These fine men and women insist that their jobs are quite essential if they are to feed their families. Still the entire federal government, from the President on down, points at each other and shouts, “It is HIS fault.”

While our esteemed legislators are reluctant to take responsibility for the mess we are in, they are eager to remind us that they are powerful and benevolent leaders, and the country would be in a mess without them, and that without their amazing leadership we would hardly be able to survive.

What is lost in all of this noise is the individual American. The furloughed worker, the grieving widow of a soldier waiting for her loved one’s casket, the harried mother separating fighting children and scolding them for calling each other doody heads. 

The key to America being great is not found in our government, it is in each individual American, getting up and treating the day as an opportunity to be productive, ignoring the TV and the lack of contact with reality that seems to come with living in Washington, and doing what it takes to survive, and provide, and be productive, despite the government’s best to stop all individual forward progress.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dreaming is Hard Work

I must confess that September caught me flat footed. Most months actually do that. However, the start of school brings crazy hours of work for me, and with crazy hours of work comes crazy hours of sleep. I have found that it takes me a couple weeks to get my feet back under me. At least that is the excuse I am giving you, dear reader, for my lack of blog posts.

The good news is that with the weird hours of sleep come weird dreams (at least weirder than normal) which in turn has made for inspiration for this week’s rambling.

In the opening sequence of my dream, I showed up for work at the third job at the bright early time of 10:00 AM.  This may sound rather late, but when the presses don’t normally start until between 11:30 PM and 12:00 AM, my arrival in the late morning is rather ghastly.

Shortly after I arrived at work, I left again. I don’t know why I left. This is a dream folks and things do not always make sense in dreams. As I was driving down the road, I decided to stop and get coffee. My preferred purveyor of the caffeinated elixir of the gods, is Tim Horton’s. In our family we refer to Tim Horton’s as Tim’s . Tim’s is an invention of Canada and exported to select areas of the North Eastern United States. Not only do I like their coffee, but they sell donuts, and muffins, and bagels, and ice cream. And I am gaining weight just thinking about it.

Back to my dream. I was driving towards Tim’s and I realized that I should check with my co-workers and see if they want coffee. I pulled out my iPhone and opened up the texting app. Texting while driving in New York State is illegal, but I, apparently was unconcerned, since I was in a Dream State.

My phone had decided to update itself to iOS 7, without consulting me. This was  troublesome. In my dream, iOS 7 had taken on a retro look. The screen background was black and all of the characters were a lovely shade of green. Just like the old cathode-ray tubes from the early 1980‘s.  

To make bad things worse, everytime I tried to text my co-workers the simple phrase, “want coffee?” my dream phone decided to tell me that I had taken new pictures and asked if I wanted to share them via text message.

In the midst of all this craziness, I missed the entrance for Tim’s and ended up in an apartment complex, completely contained underneath the bridge of a superhighway. This was an unfortunate place for the apartments.

By this time, I decided to stop the car. Now in real life, I would have sat in the car and texted my co-workers to get their coffee orders and when I got their orders I would have driven to Tim’s , purchased said beverages, returned to my car, and driven to work.

Did I do that in my dream? No! That would be much to mundane. I parked the car, opened the trunk of my Toyota Corolla, pulled out a ten-speed bicycle, put on my helmet, and started to randomly pedal around the complex, dodging things splatting on the ground from the highway over head, getting nauseous from the smell of the engines roaring and still tried to text my co-workers.

At this point in my dream, I woke up....exhausted.