Archive for July, 2008

My psychic DJ is calling for happy tunes!

Friday, July 18th, 2008

I’m in spring cleaning mode of an abstract sort. I’m sprucing up my mental landscape, trying to reduce my exposure to stressors of all kinds, including virtual ones. Research suggests that human brains are unable to distinguish between physical threats, abstract threats, and representational threats. What that means is that to some extent, one’s endocrine system reacts the same way to:

  • being chased by a saber-tooth tiger,
  • being chastised by your boss at work,
  • and being engaged in a “thrilling” movie,

…releasing cortisol, adrenaline, and other fight-or-flight hormones.

Stress hormones are helpful in the presence of an actual tiger, enabling a speedy attempt to escape, but unless you run away from your boss or scary movies, stress hormones simply take a toll on your system. Research has linked chronically high levels of stress hormones to a host of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and infertility. So I would like to produce less of them.

I obviously cannot prevent all stressors, but I’m determined to eliminate ones I can. I started several weeks ago by adjusting my entertainment choices. On the telly that means I’m trading high-suspense cop dramas like “24” for feel-good shows like “Eureka” and “So You Think You Can Dance”. For flicks I’m trading action binges like “Bourne Identity” for romances and comedies like “Pride & Prejudice,” “Music & Lyrics,” and “Barefoot in the Park”.

Now I’d like to make similar shifts in my tunes. So many songs are filled with angst or sadness or anger or longing. They were great for a moody teenhood, but don’t fit my current agenda at all.

Trout Fishing Big TroubleYesterday, I swapped out Fall Out Boy’s “Infinity on High” for Trout Fishing in America’s “Big Trouble”. That had me laughing for an hour, and humming whimsical tunes for the rest of the day. Now I’m looking for more!

Do you have any favorite pick-me-up tunes that are boppy or funky or cheerful or whimsical, that will make me want to dance and/or sing along? If you do, please share your suggestions!

Fun on the Fourth!

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

In 2005, I decided I wanted hotdogs for the Fourth of July, but I didn’t feel like grilling. I convinced Bill that we could go to Sonic for dogs, tots, and slushies as long as we rode our bikes. We got drenched by a typical Houston thunderboomer, which felt fantastic while biking 8 miles in 95-degree heat. We biked to Sonic again in ’06 and ’07, joined by my cousin Sharon, and we got drenched two more times, which cracks me up! This year Bill and I weren’t up for the bike ride, but again we made the annual trek to Sonic with Sharon and Sean and again we got rained on! You can’t tell from this photo but we all had a good time. I just love summer in Houston!

Later, we went downtown for fireworks. Bill’s office is on the edge of downtown overlooking Buffalo Bayou Park.
Houston fireworks map
The 23rd floor wasn’t air conditioned but the conference room had a great view of the big fireworks show:

Houston fireworks finale

Houston fireworks finale

Houston fireworks finale

Houston fireworks finale

While the finale included an awesome array of color and noise, I’m more impressed with all of the myriad shapes they’ve designed:

Houston fireworks - cubes
Basic cubes…
Houston fireworks - atoms
Houston fireworks - wheat?
Houston fireworks - hearts
Houston fireworks - smileys
Houston fireworks - sea urchins
…sea urchins…
Houston fireworks - jellyfish
…and, new for this year, jellyfish!

I really struggle to imagine how they convince spherical mortars to make such interesting patterns when they go boom, but I wholeheartedly appreciate that they do. :D

Unexpected new gadget!

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Now that I’m spending time in an outdoor pool again, and in the interest of limiting how I braise, I need a waterproof watch. I was about to buy another basic Timex Triathlon when the shop agent showed me something more fun, on super closeout for the same price: a Triathlon that will control my iPod. Now I have a wet-proof watch, and when I’m on land, there will be no more fumbling for my iPod to start/stop my tunes. Sweet!

Timex iConnect for iPod watch