Tag Archives: Grand Rapids Michigan

Here’s Why It’s so Important to Unplug ~ by Emma Bracy

Here’s Why It’s so Important to Unplug

It’s 2015, and there’s no denying it: We live in an era of hyper-connectivity. We are constantly being bombarded with information—text, image, and video sweep into our consciousness night and day, flowing at us from our many screens. We’re pinged for urgent emails and random miscellany alike. Every buzz has the potential to be the day’s most important message. Usually, though, it’s nothing.

No matter. Our devices are like technological extensions of ourselves, and as such, we have a really hard time putting them down.

RELATED: YOU NEED TO STOP TAKING YOUR SMARTPHONE TO BED

Young woman in a crowd checking her phoneFLICKR/SUSANNE NILSSON – FLIC.KR

Fifty-four thousand words: that’s how much textual information—in the form of digital content—is dumped on the average social media user per day.

When that measure is expanded to include emails, digital imagery, web browsing, and the like, it increases dramatically. According to a 2011 study reported by the Telegraph, we receive about 200 newspapers-worth of information everyday.

RELATED: HOW MUCH DO YOU CHECK YOUR PHONE EVERY DAY?

And how much information does the average person produce? About six newspapers-worth. Whether you’re sending messages via text or Tinder, it all adds up.

That same study also found that there were 295 exabytes of data floating around the world—that’s 29,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces of information. Three-hundred and fifteen times the number of grains of sand on Earth. That was in 2011; we’ve no doubt surpassed that count by now. Talk about information overload.

WHAT DOES THAT DO TO OUR BRAINS?

Graphic of the brain MACROVECTOR – BIGSTOCKPHOTO.COM

“Our brains were never designed to be always on and permanently connected with the amount of stimuli that we get [today],” Max Blumberg, a research psychologist from Goldsmiths, University of London, said in a recent interview.

“Our brains haven’t evolved to handle that level of high activity yet,” he continued. “And that’s a problem.”

The science of how always-on technology impacts human behavior hasn’t been extensively explored—maybe because we’re still in the dawning of the information age. But some studies have been done, and the results are distressing. Researchers have found that social media might promote narcissism, smartphones could be causing insomnia, and screens seem to be making our kids less empathetic.

“Our brains will always be seduced by the high stimuli [of constant connectivity] because of the dopamine that it provides,” Blumberg explained in another interview. “It’s really similar to having ADHD.”

“People with ADHD, their big problem is that their cortex—the outer part of your brain that does the executive function like making decisions—doesn’t function in the way that it is supposed to,” he continued. “Unlike animals, who are distracted by every stimulus they encounter, human beings have the cortex, which is supposed to help them weigh up whether what they are currently doing is more important than whatever the new stimulus is—whether it’s a Facebook notification, phone call, or email.”

Essentially, we’re over-stimulating ourselves. Constant connectivity makes it hard to sustain attention on one task at a time. It can make us get all willy-nilly with our focus, giving our attention to whatever is right in front of us, without thinking about whether or not what is in front of us is truly worth our time. As a result, it’s harder to engage in deep thought, critical thought, and creativity.

Blumberg thinks this is going to have a serious impact on society:

“In fact, what I think we’re going to see is a society that is even more divided into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. And we’re already starting to see that the kids from richer backgrounds are really restricted in the amount of TV and internet that they are allowed to use because their parents who built these big companies know that that is what is required to be able to achieve such things, so those kids are going to end up building the big companies of the future.

“And the kids from poorer backgrounds, who are online all the time and have a very reactive brain, will end up being the consumers and customers of the other kids’ companies. There will be a huge market where people will buy anything because the brand is flashed up without having any critical thinking about it because their brains are not used to deep thinking.”

BUT THERE IS A SOLUTION.

joshua-tree-landscapeFLICKR/DON GRAHAM – FLIC.KR

Sounds pretty bleak, but there is a solution: Turn off. Unplug. Go on a digital detox.

Daniel J. Levitin,* Ph.D., is the director of the Laboratory for Music, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University and author of the book “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.” According to him, unplugging is a practice, not just a one time special event. And it’s not as hard as you may think. He explained how to hit the reset button for your brain in an article for the New York Times last year:

“Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with.

“If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods.”

Levitin suggests doing your daily activities (even digital ones, like social networking and emailing) at designated times. Your brain—and output—will be better for it.

“Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes,” he wrote in the Times. And when you’re not plugged in? “Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.”

That’s helpful when the goal is being able to disregard a stimulus that isn’t that important. Even what might feel like doing nothing gives our brains the much needed break from technology required for problem solving and making an impact on the world. Levitin explains, “daydreaming leads to creativity, and creative activities teach us agency, the ability to change the world, to mold it to our liking, to have a positive effect on our environment.”

Picture of a guy using his phone before he goes to sleep MINERVA STUDIO – BIGSTOCKPHOTO.COM

Using unplugged time to pursue your hobbies or passions can have enormous benefits, too. Levitin says that “music, for example, turns out to be an effective method for improving attention, building up self-confidence, social skills and a sense of engagement.” You might want to reconsider those guitar lessons you’ve always wanted to take.

Music isn’t the only way. The ultimate goal is to increase our human potential, and to do that all we have to do is pause. Put down the iPhone, stop staring at the screen, and ignore the timeline for a bit.

RELATED: ONE APP IS TRYING TO UNDO YOUR SMARTPHONE ADDICTION

“Taking breaks is biologically restorative. Naps are even better,” Levitin concludes. “In several studies, a nap of even 10 minutes improved cognitive function and vigor, and decreased sleepiness and fatigue. If we can train ourselves to take regular vacations—true vacations without work—and to set aside time for naps and contemplation, we will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And to be happier and well rested while we’re doing it.” So go ahead. Give yourself a vacation. You deserve it.

Advertisements

Reality Should Count as Much as Anything

hill2016

“We just can’t trust the American people to make those kinds of choices……….Government has to make those choices for people.” ~ Hillary Clinton

But wait……………there’s more

Hillary Clinton states that she is named after Sir Edmund Percival Hillary.    Ms. Hillary Diane Rodham was born in Chicago on October 26, 1947.   Oddly the annals of history don’t seem to support that chain of thought.

Sir Edmund originally made application to the military at the outbreak of WWII , but due to religious objections withdrew his application, and was later conscripted to serve in 1943.  Shortly after that time, her supposed namesake was repatriated to New Zealand from Fiji and the Solomon Islands following a rather unspectacular stint as a navigator.  He had suffered burns in a non-military conflict boating accident in 1945 and was removed from the New Zealand Royal Air Force.  1Calder, Peter (11 January 2008). “Sir Edmund Hillary’s life”. The New Zealand Herald (APN Holdings NZ Limited). Retrieved 11 January 2008.

Sir_Edmund_Hillary_in_the_cockpit

Was this the man the Rodhams had hoped to honor and now the candidate wants to build her reputation on?  No.  If they supposedly wanted to highlight his fame and notoriety by the conquering of Mt. Everest – or quite possibly Hillary made this revelation herself – the fact remains that this feat of ascending the mount did not occur until 28 May 1953 – Well after the birth of Hillary Rodham.

In fact – there is no photographic evidence of the accomplishment and the 2 climbers – Hillary and Tenzing – went to the summit and only remained at the peak for 15 minutes.  The entire expedition consisted of over 400 and included 362 porters.  Pretty spectacular stuff, eh?

So the bottom line is:  You’re going to get what you paid for if you support Hillary in 2016.

boyfriends-wife

Wikimedia Cannot Be Bought

Open Source – Self-Governing WIKI Now Deals
With The Free Market As Hoped

Wikimedia_family

Promoting is sometimes sleazy, but you don’t have to lick the bottom of the ashtray when the product is truly quality.  Granted – there are a lot of Wannabees out there, but it is nice to know that they can be identified.

Check this recent report from IT News:  http://www.itnews.com/internet/95945/wikipedia-blocks-381-user-accounts-dishonest-editing

What is the BEST Marketing Tool around?  Word of Mouth.  The Valid Mouth.

The Wisdom of Kathleen Madigan

Kathleen Madigan Knows How to Write a Joke and Helps Us Level-Headed Keep Humor in Perspective

This is a picture of me and Newt Gingrich posing as Gap Models (meaning sad, hungry people staring into the distance away from one another). I like to take these because they make me laugh. A few weeks ago I was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and so was Newt. His staff people, or whatever politicians call their posse, seemed nice so when I met Newt I asked him if he would take a silly picture with me. He said “Sure. Tell me what to do.” So I told him what to do. He didn’t really get the “sad” part down, but he tried and was a good sport and quite friendly. I liked him.newt_100212 I don’t usually agree with him and I’m aware of just about every public fact about his not so stellar private life, but I liked meeting him. And I wanted to take a nap on his belly. He was soft, warm and snuggly. It was like being hugged by a Republican Teddy Ruxpin. So, I posted this picture on Twitter. For a laugh. I am a comedian. I am not a philosopher, politician or anything else to be taken seriously. It says “comedian” right there on my Twitter profile. Well, after posting it, I was slammed with hate posts from people on the left. They couldn’t believe I would pose in a picture with him and call him a good sport. Well, I did and he was. I was shocked that anyone takes anything I do seriously because I certainly don’t and I’m the one in charge of me. Even writing that sentence hurt my head. Nonetheless, people did take it seriously and reacted with the usual awful amount of hate social media can drum up. I think anonymity empowers people in the worst ways but I really couldn’t believe it.

But, let’s back up for a second.

I know relatively nothing about ‘celebrities’ unless they are comedians I am actual friends with. I don’t watch E! or any of the shows where I would get information regarding these celebrity people. I’m just not interested. I preferred the old days where we knew little about celebrities and what we did know was probably made up. Oh, Liberace is in love with and married a lady? Good for him. I doubt it . Whatever. Who cares. But at least up until about ten years ago, in order to become a celebrity you had to do something. Anything. Sing. Dance. Eat Fire. Juggle babies. SOMETHING. Now, ‘celebrity’ is an actual job. Whatever that means. Snooki and the Kardashians. I don’t know what any of them do but I’m assuming nothing because I’ve yet to see them do anything so I’m not interested in knowing more about nothing. If you like that kinda stuff, well then I’m happy for you. Seriously, good you for. We all have our thing. I’m usually watching people being murdered on the ID Channel, super weirdos on NatGeo, sports or politics. So unless you’re murdering someone, hunting alligators in a swamp, hitting or catching a ball or debating politics, I probably don’t know or care who you are.

So, when I was heading over to NBC, a friend texted me and said that Newt was one of the other guests. I was really excited. I’ve watched him for 20 years in every televised debate that he’s ever been in. As I said, I don’t usually agree with his positions but I respect him. I never voted for him but I loved that he was in the game. He’s played the game well and hung tough. He’s smart, and I’d bet he’d be the first one to tell you that, but I also admire that kind of confidence. I don’t have it. He’s old school and I like old school. His debate performances were always lively and his look of complete exhaustion combined with eye rolling whenever Michele Bachmann spoke was spectacular. He looked at her like a gnat that flew into his dinner party. I respect his love of history. I’m a history geek and it’s nice to know there’s other geeks out there. I like that he clearly likes a steak and not the gym. I couldn’t agree more.

I don’t understand exactly when and or why the division between ideas has become so personal. I have been friends with Larry the Cable Guy for 20 years. He is right leaning. Not a crazy person, just conservative. I am left leaning. Not a crazy person, just less conservative. For Christmas, he has given me Rush Limbaugh books and I have given him JFK biographies. We can agree to disagree and agree on more than people would think. I really think if everyone on congress picked someone from the other side and took a Gap Model picture with them, it might be the start of actual conversations. If we can start with a laugh, maybe we can build from there. If we don’t start somewhere, we will arrive nowhere. And that last sentence is the deepest thing I’ve thought of in 15 years so I should stop writing while I’m ahead of where I thought I could be. I say cheers to Newt for not taking himself too seriously and cheers to the people who did understand that is was for fun and a stupid laugh which I believe is what I’m supposed to be in charge of.

Brian Calley Supports Mental Illness Court Programs

Reprinted from M-Live and The Associated Press – Dec. 30, 2013

LANSING, MI — Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, the governor’s point man on mental health issues, signed legislation Monday that allows for the expansion of the state’s mental health court program.briancalley

Mental health courts have been successful in reducing the number of offenders with mental health or substance abuse problems who break the law, Calley said Monday.

“The most effective and humane way to deal with the problem of recidivism is through a comprehensive system of smart justice that recognizes the connection between enforcement and prevention,” Calley said in a statement. “Mental health courts play a critical role in that system. They have demonstrated their value by ensuring public safety, easing the strain on our corrections system and providing mentally ill offenders with needed treatment.”

One of the four related bills authorizes circuit and district courts to create mental health courts. It also authorizes the family division of a circuit court to institute a mental health court for juveniles. Other bills set criteria for a person to go into a mental health court and require people to comply with the courts’ orders.

Gov. Rick Snyder named Calley as chairman of the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission. Calley also chairs the Mental Health Diversion Council in the Michigan Department of Community Health. The council provides recommendations for ensuring that offenders with mental health or substance abuse issues receive appropriate treatment rather than jail time.

“Allowing for the creation of additional mental health courts is both compassionate and cost-effective. Breaking the cycle in which jail becomes a revolving door for mentally ill offenders means a safer, healthier Michigan,” Calley said.

Also Monday, Snyder’s office said the governor has signed 14 bills into law, several of them designed to improve government efficiency.

One bill dissolves the Osteopathic Medicine Advisory Board now that Michigan is getting a school of osteopathic medicine.

Other signed legislation also revises drainage districts, updates drain code language to repeal eminent domain property provisions and enables the sale of pharmaceutical-grade marijuana to people with pre-existing medical conditions. That bill is contingent on the passage of a similar federal law.

Snyder also signed bills related to Michigan’s public employee health insurance law. One new law requires elected officials to be counted as employees and raises the insurance cap on individual-and-spouse coverage from $11,000 to $12,500.

I´ve got 99 Words for Happiness, but the Germans only have One

I see the positive side of this in semantics as well.  All these American English words are based in Goodness. The word “Good” is based on several psalms and verses.  Some argue that it has roots in the word “God.”  Timothy 4:4 “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;”

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Goodness-Of

The-Goodness-of-God

Mappalicious

In earlier posts, I´ve shared with you my personal feeling that Positive Psychology and the German language seem to be a bit of a mismatch, as my mother tongue is impoverished with respect to words describing positive experiences and states of being. Later on, I shared a study that is able to demonstrate that some languages are indeed happier than others – in that they are able to “hold” more positivity.

Today, I stumbled upon another piece of evidence pertaining to that matter. Below, you´ll see screenshots of the two most important translation websites in Germany. On the left, you can see the English words, a wide array positive states (of mind). On the right, the German translations are displayed. As you can see, all those English words are translated into the same German expression: Glück.

If Wittgenstein was right, and “The limits of my language means the limits of my world”, then having only a single…

View original post 50 more words

“You Don’t Have To Push – They’ll Fall In By Themselves” ~ Thomas E. Urich (Sr.)

I Used to Live with a Narcissist!!

UPDATED 17 May 2015 from an earlier post

In some ways, everybody is a narcissist.  A little bit of pride – a little bit of boast – a little bit of bravado.  These people were in Band in the public school system.  They were cheerleaders or majorettes.  They were on the football or basketball team.

There were not, however, on the swim team.**

There is a difference.  A healthy amount of confidence not to be confused with self-worship or idolatry of a greater being or of a tuba or even a greater devotion to nothing. Or not.

I Love Me

I Love Me

WEIRE2

I Think

Sometimes people don’t even realize what they are doing.  They are so wound up that they become insensitive to what is actually going on around them.  They think evil is at work and they become so offensive (in a blindly stupid sort of way) that they begin to produce actual evil themselves.  They have been “hooked” by Satan.  Or Facebook.  Same thing.

Twitter to the Rescue!

Every kid on this city block has two facebook identities.  And one of them is a cop.  The other one has one leg missing (not a military vet but a bassoon player who fell out of the 3rd floor dorm window) and plays Angry Birds at least 3 hours every day.  Twitter Users – on the other hand – are flying across the country to a gig in a small town of sheep-herders and/or riding in a helicopter in Iraq with Lance Armstrong.

There is a big difference.

Tim Dick

Tim Dick

Facebook users get too narrow.  They think they are on a virtual soapbox that a Liberal Mayor from AnyTown Democrat USA proclaimed as Rainbow Required Reading Month has etched into your psyche and sealed it with hummus.  I see a trail of cashew crumbs (ignored by fuzzy cats) leading to a calcified pet drinking fountain next to the refrigerator – and next to that a stack of Sunday inserts dating back to The Hindenberg.  Focus.  Come on, people.

I really don’t care about your opinions because they are so beautifully displayed like a magical desktop publishing program from AOL using technology developed by Xerox in 1977.  Give it up. There are real IT people making real advances in computer wizardry who have to re-certify their skills every 6 months let alone try to get Pagemaker to run on X-Box.  Shut Up!

I'm a freaking Genius

I’m a freaking Genius

You know the ones.  They are smarter than you are because they listen to NPR.  They don’t drink alcohol.  Ever.  They are so broad-minded that they check only Snopes to form the basis of their doctoral dissertation and they have just re-modeled their kitchen to the tune of $16,000 and they don’t  cook but 4 times a year.  Gluten free.

It is a real disorder.  And 99% of you nut cases don't have it!

It is a real disorder. And 99% of you nut cases don’t have it!

Get a Grip on Yourself

If a person decides to engage in a creative writing experiment – a new form of entertainment which I will term “TXT Comedy” for lack of a better acronym (for now) – and it produces reactions like the threats of a SWAT Team coming to your house while you are away on vacation  – it is not because you are stupid, it is because you have placed your mind somewhere the sun does not shine.

Help Is Available

Please Remember God Loves You.  Whether you believe in Him or not – that is your freedom of choice and I won’t try to force legislation to make you bake me a Masonic birthday cake with swastikas on it – and enjoy Life and Be Yourself.  Don’t judge others.  And eat a balanced diet of grains that will return your bowel movements to normal and help divert your attention away from me for a bit.

**Apologies to my high school teacher buddy John Wieck (wherever you are) who was not the guy responsible for making so many of my graduating classmates’ homosexual in later life.  I’m okay with that.  Just ask Paco at Grand Coney.