Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oxygen Mask

I recently found Big Think, and at the moment it's my favourite site to visit when I have a few minutes to fill with something awesome. I love watching the videos of smart people (sadly, mostly smart guys) talking about things they are passionate about, and sometimes it's useful or affirming, like this one, where Tal Ben-Shahar, a psych lecturer from Harvard, talks about Five Ways to Become Happier Today...

As I was watching this, I realised that I'm already doing some of this stuff... I'm getting better at separating out and naming my negative emotions instead of trying unsuccessfully to pretend that they don't exist. It's far easier to mitigate loneliness, money worries and fear that I can't cope, for example, than an un-named and dreadful turmoil pressing in on my mind. And not-so-strangely, I really am much happier...

... And I exercise most days, for at least half an hour and I do Jenni's TiLT and I do try to make sure that, at the end of the day, I spend some time really appreciating being with my boys, cuddling and reading and talking and making sure that they go to sleep knowing I adore them... which has the fabulous side effect of making me feel adored too!

And thinking about all that I was reminded of this...
...which arose out of a conversation with my friend A, after he visited from the UK 18 months ago (just after I changed jobs) and came on holiday with me and the boys. I think it's fair to say that he was pretty worried about me at the time... He compared my situation to a incident on an aeroplane where I should put on my oxygen mask before helping the kids with theirs. I didn't (and don't) believe things were catastrophic, or my behaviour was life-threatening, but he made some pretty accurate observations about my mental state and some recommendations for weekly goals, which I wrote down (there were some other goals too... getting divorced and moving to Wellington, but they aren't relevant here). I started exercising more regularly and by the middle of last year had begun habitually exceeding 30 minutes/day. I don't always manage the requisite dose of 15 minutes of Karen time (which has to involve intellectual activity... ideally something that would make me say "Hmmmm"... A assumed a Thinker pose as he explained this) But, realising that A is right, and that thinking about cool and interesting things does make me happier, I am going to try and generate a new habit. 'Dr Bunny hops and hops and hops and...' started as a blog about learning to cope as a single parent, but when I lost my job and during my divorce it became a blog of failures and self-indulgent whining about bad choices.

I haven't felt comfortable here in recent months. I've even been considering starting a new blog, but I think I should 'own' my bad times as well as my good ones! So, instead, I am going to reclaim this one and try and establish a new habit. In the spirit of 'history has expired due to inactivity' (which has expired due to inactivity, but some people may remember), I will don my oxygen mask, seek out and blog about at least two things each week that I think are cool or interesting or thought-provoking. Let's see how it goes...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Finding Reality Thrilling

I find it harder to stay motivated in winter and I've been a bit lonely and sad lately, so I've been spending more time trawling for inspiration or meaning or something... Apparently this could be a symptom of depression! But anyway, here's some cool stuff, mostly science to help keep you going through the dark and cold...

First up, some good news in the fight against climate change apathy and denial... A Dutch enquiry and a British review have both confirmed what we already knew, that the science behind the IPCC report was sound. Now hopefully we can put our effort into doing something about it?!

Symphony of Science
is a project that is putting the wonderful words of some of the world's greatest science communicators to music. My favourite is 'Our Place in the Cosmos', but the others are really worth listening to... the vids are amazing too!

I found this via Clear Science which gives nice simple explanations of scientific concepts and phenomena, with some history of science thrown in... and I got to that from Fake Science which never fails to make me giggle (thanks [info]adrexia ).

Depleted cranium is a skeptical blog that exposes bad science. It usually gives me something to think about.

[info]exiledinpn affirmed my world view by sending me this article about how the science career path is broken. I think I should expand on this at some stage... I think, for example that it is still more broken for women than men... but I'm encouraged by Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn winning the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine last year for discovering the structure of telomeres (the caps on the end of chromosomes)... and tonight is not a night for grizzling!

It isn't science but I want Andrea Bocelli to come and sing beautiful bedtime lullabies at my house!

I'm waiting for the earthquake I just felt to appear on geonet so I can see how big it was. I'm enjoying putting numbers on things at the moment, so size mattters :-) Yup... here it is, really close and I've put in my tuppence worth :-)

This Short Sharp Science blog entry links to the incredible chromoscope... view the universe in gamma rays, then check out the European Space Agency's annotated map. Next stop the Galactic Centre on our way to a winter holiday in the Aquila Rift...

But because we're not there yet, here's a beautiful reminder from Carl Sagan that this incredible Pale Blue Dot is the only home that you or I will ever know.