linky goodness Archives
Deep calming games 2018
After receiving an alarming medical diagnosis mid-month in January*, I've been very actively using computer games to help manage my situation. This autoimmune disease manifests itself in scores of itchy bumps. The initial treatment is prednisone, the main side effects of which have been insomnia and mood alteration (primarily an increase in anxiety). Games have been enormously helpful in managing both, and in lowering my stress levels overall as I deal with this.
While many games can appear soothing in early stages, they are often designed to increase in intensity, which is counter to my goal of calming my system. Below are a few which I've found which do work, and which have interesting side benefits. There are three key patterns I leverage as I (and my meds) work to reduce inflammation.
1. Stillness as a Constant Option
The one absolutely vital quality of a deep calming game is that at any moment you can stop the game without penalty to take a deep breath, let your eyes focus on the other side of the room, or otherwise pause not only your hands but your mind. This can take the form of simply stopping doing anything—as in turn-based games where there is no ticking clock—or changing out of the game screen—as in games which pause and retain your exact position when you switch applications. Some games are mostly turn-based with brief sections that don't allow pausing; Another Case Solved is a good example of that non-ideal mix, but it is just calming enough to remain on my list.
2. Impulse Interference
It turns out when you're trying not to scratch, it's possible to divert the physical world pattern you shouldn't act on into a virtual pattern where relief is easily available. The game element you want here is a random or semi-random resource which appears and needs to be 'harvested' or otherwise responded to individually. Collecting the magic fountain energy in Sunken Secrets or the tax revenue in Townsmen are ideal examples. I found that my brain slipped pretty easily from "argh! itchy spot I want to scratch!" to "aha! another coin to collect!" and that, amazingly, the act of touching the resource on my iPad screen with my finger took away the urgency of a specific physical itch on my body. This trick was probably the key ingredient to my getting through the initial awful weeks while I waited for the corticosteroids to begin reducing my symptoms. It's highly likely I would have scarring if I hadn't been able to divert that scratching urge.
3. Sense of Positive Action
Maintaining an optimistic attitude during very gradual change is a challenge. When my body is less able and my mind is less focused that becomes even harder, especially in those grim grey hours of the night when prednisone wakes you all the way up after three hours sleep. Games offer a space where I can act toward both short- and long-term goals and feel less powerless. The difference with deep calming games is that this needs to take place within a low-conflict (or at least very low-consequences) mood. When managing anxiety and using mental imagery to reduce bodily inflammation are the goals, tough battles against powerful foes are definitely not my friends. Enter, therefore, games of constructive, peaceful acts which build upon each other. These can range from the very simple—growing my fish and expanding my pond in Zen Koi—to the more ongoing and epic—building my farm and improving things for my imaginary neighbors in Stardew Valley. The tough part here is finding a game with the expansiveness that makes it maximally calming and yet which doesn't require fighting off attackers. (I've got enough of that going on with my autoimmune system, thankyouverymuch.) I am a long-time fan of simulation games, particularly old Windows city-builders and economy-simulators like Pharaoh and Cleopatra, but there are very few around which don't involve (or allow you the option of turning off) combat as a major part of the game. Farming and house-building games are the dominant form now, but many of them are tainted by in-app purchase models which render the games less fun as you progress in an effort to make you spend money to make it easier again. That flaw is what led to my abandoning Gardenscapes and Homescapes, neither of which I can recommend anymore despite their fun aesthetic and sense of humor. For the moment, Stardew Valley, and to a lesser extent Townsmen, is best to fully engage my mind in creating and achieving goals.
*Thanks to corticosteroids this diagnosis is not life-threatening, but it is life-altering.
media I've enjoyed recently 2014
Advertising and Selling
- Morgan Spurlock: The greatest TED Talk ever sold (TEDtalks)
- Full Price Beats Penny Saved for Selling Some Items (60-second Science)
- Candidates Affect Viewer Reactions to Ads in Debates (60-second Science)
- Jacqueline Novogratz: Inspiring a life of immersion (TEDtalks)
- 100,000-Year-Old Art Studio Discovered (60-second Science)
- Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies (TEDtalks)
- Science Grad Students Who Teach Write Better Proposals (60-second Science)
- Doodles and Drawings Help Cement Concepts (60-second Science)
Food and Drink
- Student Researchers Find Secret Tea Ingredients (60-second Science)
- Molars Say Cooking Is Almost 2 Million Years Old (60-second Science)
- High-Pressure Food Treatment Can Kill Microbes And Up Nutrients (60-second Science)
Health and Growth
- Molly Stevens: A new way to grow bone (TEDtalks)
- Gamekeeper's Thumb Condition Outlives the Occupation (60-second Science)
- Test Tells Viral and Bacterial Infections Apart (60-second Science)
- Poultry Farms That Stop Antibiotics See Resistance Fall (60-second Science)
- Endurance Exercise Has Stem Cells Make Bone Over Fat (60-second Science)
- Carbon Nanotubes Impale Compulsive Cells (60-second Science)
- Online Gamers Help Solve Protein Structure (60-second Science)
- Health Data Could Spot Genocide Risk (60-second Science)
- City Cyclists Suck In Soot (60-second Science)
- Rapid PCR Could Bring Quick Diagnoses (60-second Science)
- Pathogen Genomics Has Become Dirt Cheap (60-second Science)
- Kid Scientists Show Medicines Can Be Mistaken For Candy (60-second Science)
- Fever Increases Numbers of Immune Cells (60-second Science)
Nature and Sexuality
- Mole's Extra Finger Is Wrist Bone-us (60-second Science)
- Full Moon May Signal Rise in Lion Attacks (60-second Science)
- Send Ants to College (60-second Science)
- Sea Lampreys Flee Death Smells (60-second Science)
- Toxoplasma Infected Rats Love Their Enemies (60-second Science)
- Modern Rivers Shaped By Trees (60-second Science)
- Upright and Hairless Make Better Long-Distance Hunters (60-second Science)
- Electrolyte Balancers Set Stage for Multicellularity (60-second Science)
- Flesh-Tearing Piranhas Communicate with Sound (60-second Science)
Politics and Philosophy
- Jody Williams: A realistic vision for world peace (TEDtalks)
- Martin Jacques: Understanding the rise of China (TEDtalks)
- El Nino Ups Conflict Odds (TEDtalks)
- Steven Pinker: Violence Is Lower Than Ever (60-second Science)
Technology and Physics
- Johanna Blakley: Social media and the end of gender (TEDtalks)
- Medieval Armor: Was It Worth the Weight? (60-second Science)
- Traffic Cameras Save Millions in Canceled Crashes (60-second Science)
- Juno Mission Gets Goes for Launch (60-second Science)
- Channeled Chips Can Spot Substances (60-second Science)
- Smartphone System Saves Gas (60-second Science)
- Sound Sends Electron to Specific Location (60-second Science)
- Moon Not Made of Cheese, Physicist Explains (60-second Science)
Posted on February 21, 2014 at 01:38 PM in creativity, Food and Drink, health, linky goodness, politics & philosophy, school, sex, the big room with the blue ceiling, warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)
A link, via Clay Shirky, serves as a reminder to me to explore poetry more often 2013
Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause To Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles
It seems these poets have nothing
up their ample sleeves
they turn over so many cards so early,
telling us before the first line
whether it is wet or dry,
night or day, the season the man is standing in,
even how much he has had to drink.
Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow.
Maybe it is snowing on a town with a beautiful name.
"Viewing Peonies at the Temple of Good Fortune
on a Cloudy Afternoon" is one of Sun Tung Po's.
"Dipping Water from the River and Simmering Tea"
is another one, or just
"On a Boat, Awake at Night."
And Lu Yu takes the simple rice cake with
"In a Boat on a Summer Evening
I Heard the Cry of a Waterbird.
It Was Very Sad and Seemed To Be Saying
My Woman Is Cruel—Moved, I Wrote This Poem."
There is no iron turnstile to push against here
as with headings like "Vortex on a String,"
"The Horn of Neurosis," or whatever.
No confusingly inscribed welcome mat to puzzle over.
Instead, "I Walk Out on a Summer Morning
to the Sound of Birds and a Waterfall"
is a beaded curtain brushing over my shoulders.
And "Ten Days of Spring Rain Have Kept Me Indoors"
is a servant who shows me into the room
where a poet with a thin beard
is sitting on a mat with a jug of wine
whispering something about clouds and cold wind,
about sickness and the loss of friends.
How easy he has made it for me to enter here,
to sit down in a corner,
cross my legs like his, and listen.
Source: Poetry (June 1999). [Via Poetryfoundation.org]
Cool poem 2013
by Jena Strong
give me the drag queens, dolled up and delicious
the two moms bickering over the dishes
the orphans, adopted, the chosen, the trannies
the witches, the protestors, tattooed laughing grannies
the boys wearing tutus and all the shirtless
daughters of the revolution playing basketball
on the broken courts of lost fathers
the failures, the forgotten, the throwdown, the freak show
the hurts and the heartbreaks, the hassles and headaches
the beggar, the baron, the shelter, the clambake
trade in the cynical, the stubborn, the splintering showdown
because it's time to unite now, yes it's time to ignite now
it's time to pick up the phone to say, It's me and I love you
This appeared in the Goodreads newsletter as the winner of their May poetry contest. It's tidbits like this that keep me subscribed.
Looks like there are a couple of her books of poetry on Amazon, but at least one of them is available through her site (linked above) and she probably gets better compensation if you order through there.
Media I've enjoyed recently 2012
History and Biography
- I have not yet begun to rot (The Memory Palace)
- The Sisters Fox (The Memory Palace)
- Babysitting (The Memory Palace)
One of my favorite storytelling pieces in recent memory.
- OMG!!! JKP!!! (The Memory Palace)
- Nee Weinberg (The Memory Palace)
- Looking Up (The Memory Palace)
- Distance (The Memory Palace)
- Anna Deavere Smith: Let Me Down Easy (SciAm Science Talk)
- Paul Davies: Physics Could Help Fight Cancer (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Malaria Mosquitoes Follow Foot Smells (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Rain And Temperature Predict Cholera Risks (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Fat Substitutes May Make You Fatter (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Gamekeeper's Thumb Condition Outlives the Occupation (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Tony Porter: A call to men (TEDTalks)
- Wisdom of Crowds Withers with Peeks (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Threats Drive Cultural Norms (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Debt Boosts Young People's Morale (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Snake Venom Viscosity Properties Help It Flow into Prey (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Most Interesting Discovered Species of 2010 Announced (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Multiple Mutations May Be Common (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Time to Stop Worrying about Invasive Species? (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Tiny Insect Makes Biggest Noise (SciAm 60-Second Science)
- Small Group of People Dominate Some Internet Discussions (SciAm 60-Second Science)
Media I've enjoyed recently 2012
(these words, forever) - The Memory Palace
Single Device Captures Sun's Light and Heat - 60-Second Science
(high above lake michigan) - The Memory Palace
(the moon in the sun) - The Memory Palace
(a brief eulogy for a consumer electronics product) - The Memory Palace
History & Politics:
(the messrs. craft) - The Memory Palace
Global power shifts - Joseph Nye (2010) - TEDtalks
(presidente walker) - The Memory Palace
(this ungainly fowl) - The Memory Palace
(you know you're sick) - The Memory Palace
Thomas Dolby: Never Never Land - The Moth Podcast
Eccentric Style - Put This On
Biology & Food:
Salamanders Provide Room and Board to Algae - 60-Second Science
Lawrence Krauss: Students Need to Learn Effective Failure - 60-Second Science
Simple signs, simple actions 2012
An easy way to save a life in hot weather. Great advice.
It's good to have an eloquent ally 2012
"you're afraid of that woman's voice & you don't think you can beat her intellectually without using a cheat code"
Let's keep focused on having the "what you did" argument with those who leave hateful comments, not the "what you are" argument.
It's a tough choice, that second to last question. 2012
And if you want to know more about what bath salts actually are, check this out.
This doesn't seem a strong selling position 2012
So now you know how it goes... 2012
Today's happy place: Watching Arlo's theme song again after all these years "A, a, a is for Arlo…" Hello!
Right. I've got my new workout video. 2012
fix the broken process 2012
Anil's posts are reliably worth reading, but I think this may be one of his best yet.
Another smart book review from my smartypants friend Gordon 2012
RT @gordonzola: "Black by Design"
Warning: zombie-like singleminded urges may result 2012
You have got to check out the game Rebuild. It's like Harvest Moon meets Shaun of the Dead. http://www.rebuildgame.com/games/rebuild/ Super cool.
“I want to know if my hair is just like yours” 2012
RT @BarackObama: The story behind a famous photograph
Measurability matters 2012
Fine, you want measurable results? Bloomberg’s BGOV Barometer study is quite clear. Jobs, GDP, income, # in poverty...
Not necessarily easy, but—all other things being equal—easier 2012
Analogies can be handy.
Linking to this article by John Scalzi provoked interesting responses:
Don Blais (@Waldolio) lashed out defensively, as many do when it is suggested that they might have some advantages in life: "@MetaGrrrl Living on easy mode. Sure. Go fuck yourself."
I responded "As the article says, it's totally possible to have a rough time playing & even lose on easiest setting. Read it again." Noting his interest in Magic the Gathering in his bio, I added, "in MtG terms, point is being white/male/straight is like owning more cards. Yeah, ya still gotta make a good deck & draw w/ luck."
My loooong time web pal Neale (yes, that Neale) retweeted my link to the article and we got a response to us both from Kenneth B (@ipadMTG): "@MetaGrrrl @wrongwaygoback This doesn't happen too often, but I've missed the point of this article."
That launched us into a long and lovely conversation on Twitter with Kenneth and I trading messages with Neale copied.
I replied, "It's often easier to perceive that one has had advantages with wealth, supportive family, height, looks (e.g.) than to realize advantage provided by being white, straight &/or male. Don't assume others had all same chances. The outcome of that realization being an awareness of hurdles others face. Empathy reduces oblivious asshattery."
Kenneth responded, "To summarize, white guys have it easier than everyone else? Generalizing, but to the point."
I said, "Not quite. Straight white guys, all other factors being equal, will probably face fewer setbacks than others. Not having faced a setback can blind one to possibility that others do, leading to inept 'why don't you just...' [statements]. That blind spot matters in assessment of accomplishment. Undervaluing by not knowing the current worked against."
He queried, "I might need to read [that] article again, but what setbacks would minorities face that SWM's wouldn't? or people that weren't SWM's"
Neale interjected, "Can we coin the term 'SWiMmers'?" When I said that was deliciously apt, he said (tongue firmly in cheek, I believe), "It's no 'blogosphere' but I'll take it."
I replied to Kenneth's question, "SWMs may only perceive the currents pushing them back & be unaware of others, often as strong, pushing non-SWMs. Which is of course where a lot of the angry responses come from in discussions of privilege. 'How can you say I have it easy? I had to work against poverty/health/dysfunctional family/etc' The comment thread on Scalzi's post exposes a lot of different perspectives including many of those challenges. And of course provides a certain amount of entertainment as he bashes trolls & the stupid with the admin hammer."
I said, "Loving @wrongwaygoback's coining of "SWiMmers" for straight, white males who don't necessarily know there's a harder current others overcome"
Kenneth said, "So me and my friends face a current that SWM's don't even see? (apologies for the generalizations) 140 chars etc." Adding, "And I'm not disagreeing with you, just trying to see a different POV from apparently the same side of the fence. Understandably twitter is not the best discussion area, but I'm curious what those challenges are."
At that point I had to leave, but now we have a much less constrained environment in the comment thread here to continue the conversation if desired.
(Note to anyone joining in: Please read Scalzi's post before commenting. At least skimming the comment thread on that post would also be a good way to see some of the issues, kneejerk reactions, reactions to those reactions, and new perspectives that this discussion can raise.)
RT @TransFeminism: @janetmock A friend (@avanavana) wisely points out, "the ones who get chosen to play 'easy' get to create the other difficulty settings"
The healing power of YouTube 2012
(& one for friends of Merlin & Eleanor only)
Nikola Goddamn Tesla 2012
RT @johannakoll: Tesla had a hard time differentiating between reality and his imagination. You must read http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla
Totally practical extra-terrestrial exploration gear 2012
A hero we can all get behind 2012
RT @EmmyCic: @SmallLindsay THAT is a superhero I would be ALL ABOUT. Lets write a comic book called "Internet Justice Man" or "IRL Consequences Man"
Media I've enjoyed recently 2012
Productivity and problem-solving
Lewis Pugh's mind-shifting Mt. Everest swim (TED video)
Bosses Who Work Out Are Nicer (60-Second Science podcast)
Gun-Toting Increases Bias to See Guns Toted (60-Second Science podcast)
Environment and climate
Lee Hotz: Inside an Antarctic time machine (TED video)
Politics and philosophy
Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index (TED video)
Carne Ross: An independent diplomat (TED video)
Technology and the Web
This was great. Really impressive piece of research. (It never occurred to me that fine bone china has actual bone in it.)
Sebastian Thrun: Google's driverless car (TED video)
Breathe Easier with Electric Car Charging Overnight (60-Second Science podcast)
App Turns iPhone Into spiPhone (60-Second Science podcast)
A non-health takeaway from this one: Corporations (or as more benignly referred to, "brands") will be analyzing and acting on our social activity in staggering detail in ways that are not automatically or even always possibly perceptible to us. Individual rights now and in the future will require people with an understanding of the technology and techniques of analysis who are working on our side. We will need watchdogs with deep understanding of advanced analytics.
Annie Lennox: Why I am an HIV/AIDS activist (TED video)
Sebastian Seung: I am my connectome (TED video)
Didn't enjoy his presentation style, but the content and its implications are impressive.
Wonderful projects and encouraging data on the power of psychosocial counseling to help break cycles of violence.
Hans Rosling: The good news of the decade? (TED video)
"The time has come to stop thinking of sub-saharan Africa as one place. Their countries are so different and they merit to be talked about in the same way that we don't talk about Europe as one place. I can tell you that the economy in Greece and Sweden are very different."
It's bigger than that, though:
"There is no such thing as a Western world and Developing world."
"You can clearly see the relation with falling child mortality and decreasing family size."
"Almost 50% of the fall in child mortality can be attributed to female education."
It's this kind of tight focus on the actual data—on what really works—that makes me love and respect Hans Rosling. It also reinforces my commitment to only vote for presidential candidates who place a high priority on the family planning and female education efforts which will drive that reduction in child mortality while at the same time slowing population growth.
Boys Who Lack Empathy Don't React to a Fearful Face (60-Second Science podcast)
Animal Production Practices Create Antibiotic Resistance (60-Second Science podcast)
Amateur Planet Hunters Find Exoplanets (60-Second Science podcast)
Monika Bulaj: The hidden light of Afghanistan (TED video)
Large Hadron Collider "Big Bang" Analogies Put Under Microscope (60-Second Science podcast)
Elephants Ask for a Helping Trunk (60-Second Science podcast)
Black Plant Life Could Thrive on Other Planets (60-Second Science podcast)
Box Jellyfish Eyes Aim At The Trees (60-Second Science podcast)
Bat Ears Deform for Better Ping Pickups (60-Second Science podcast)
Body Hair Senses Parasites While Slowing Their Blood Quest (60-Second Science podcast)
Boa Constrictors Listen To Loosen (60-Second Science podcast)
Bloody Mary Gives Up Its Flavor Secrets (60-Second Science podcast)
You Probably Get That A Lot (TMBG Podcast Video Bonus)
Augmenting my unreality 2012
Stocking my brain for dreams with @neb's talk:
Video streaming by Ustream
(Yes, my cold has reasserted my nightowl habits. Sigh.)
What an excellent piece of art:
Jennifer Rubell's Nutcracker at Frieze New York