virtualDavis

\ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs\ Blogger, storyteller, flâneur. G.G. Davis, Jr's alter ego…
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iPad Insomnia: The Study My Bride’s Been Anticipating

English: A 1st generation Apple iPad showing i...

Apple iPad w/ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. (Wikipedia)

“I wish you wouldn’t take your iPad to bed.”

“My dear, we’ve been through this before…”

“It’s not good to watch a backlit screen before bed. You’re not going to be able to fall asleep.”

“Except it doesn’t seem to bother me. Remember?”

Unless waking up early the following morning is the symptom, I don’t suffer from “iPad insomnia”. I read on my iPad. I turn off the light. I go to sleep. And usually I sleep solidly for 4-6 hours and wake up, ready to start a new day. Except when I’m super tired. Or sick. In other words, empirical evidence would suggest that I’m not susceptible to iPad insomnia. Unless it accounts for a lower-than-average sleep appetite.

A year or two ago I wouldn’t have believed that my pre-sleep reading preference would ever be an electronic gadget. Today, I honestly prefer my iPad before bed to most anything else. I love books, I mean, really love books, but my tired eyes love the iPad. And I can dim the screen or reverse the text so that the screen is black. Life is good.

And yet, it looks like the good folks down at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute‘s Lighting Research Center agree with my bride that backlit screens can suppress melatonin.

RPI found that looking at a backlit screen, like those on iPads and other tablets, can lead to sleeplessness.

“Our study shows that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22 percent,” said Mariana Figueiro, the lead researcher.  “Stimulating the human circadian system to this level may affect sleep in those using the devices prior to bedtime.”

In the study, 13 subjects read, watched videos and played games on tablets with backlit displays for two hours. The subjects were equipped with devices to measure the light their eyes were receiving, and some wore goggles that filtered the light they saw. (latimes.com)

Aside from the itsy bitsy teeny weeny test group, it’s worth noting that the study was not limited to reading. Videos and interactive video games strike me as a much more likely to interrupt natural circadian rhythms. But videos and video games are not my daily nightcap, so I’m not terribly concerned. As for my Kindle Fire, my experience with pre-bed reading is similar to the iPad and ink-and-paper books. No experience reading the old school Kindles before bed, but I suspect they’d fall into the same group.

In short, iPad insomnia be damned! My melatonin loves the backlit screen.

Georgina Goodwin: Kenyan Journalist

Georgina Goodwin, Kenyan photographer

Georgina Goodwin, Kenyan photographer

My bride and I met effervescent Nairobi, Kenya based photographer/journalist/adventurer Georgina Goodwin when we eloped in 2005. Sheer luck. She was the photographer we serendipitously hired to photograph our traditional Masai rites in the Mara bush. We were instant fans and friends, and our lives have been intertwined ever since.

Ms. Goodwin is singularly beguiling, and not just for those hazel eyes and winning smile. Her bold images are trumped only by the stories they tell.

My work on THE WORLD OF WOMEN looks at… the way women manage and balance the system despite oftentimes difficult and compromising situations. Being the only young white female Kenyan photojournalist in the world this makes my view of the stories I photograph unique, a bridge of understanding between worlds… I must do my best to honor them their stories. ~ Georgina Goodwin

Ms. Goodwin’s bravery and compassion inspire, awe and worry us again and again. Discover her photographs and connect with the woman behind the lens here:

Today is your final opportunity to help Ms. Goodwin win the One Life Photography Competition which would accelerate her already meteoric rise.

This project is presented by Artists Wanted and PDN Magazine. Since 2007, Artists Wanted has distributed over $1.5 million in grants and awards to creatives like you, while PDN has been a leading photography publication for over 30 years.” (see.me)

If Georgina Goodwin wins the One Life Photography Competition she will receive a gallery exhibition in New York City; a showcase at PDN PhotoPlus Expo 2012; a $25,000 grant; a feature in PDN Magazine; and a photo essay in the One Life Catalog. And it will validate her fearless adventure. I sincerely hope that you’ll help propel her to winning the One Life Photography Competition. Thanks!

A Place to Relax

Calm.com "A Place to Relax"

Calm.com “A Place to Relax”

Sometimes (like this morning) I need a reminder to unplug, unwind, untether, and drift.

Mindfulness meditation. A bike ride. Windsurfing. Pruning fruit trees. Gardening. Walking. Alone. Maybe my dog. And whatever critters I happen upon.

But sometimes I push it back. Again. And again. Until I finish this project. This phone call. This email. This errand.

Calm? Relax? Are you kidding? When? Where? How?

Sometimes it’s challenging to leave time for calm. Time to relax. Time to drift…

A Place to Relax

There’s no longer any excuse. Two minutes. Or ten if you’re feeling decadent. That’s all it takes at calm.com, “a place to relax”.

Simple.

Try it now.  Find your calm.

Update

Curiosity got the better of me. Who are the good folks behind calm.com? No About Us page and no hint of a link to any company or person kind enough to help me uncrank. My dear friend, Twitter, offered some help where @calmdotcom is engaging in dialogue with fans including this exciting update.

@ hi guys, I love your website, why don't you make also a 20 min relaxation? thanks for your work
@paolo_roganti
Paolo Roganti
@ hi, we are going to add a 20 minute session really soon - hang tight!
@calmdotcom
calm.com

That’s good news indeed. Although twenty minutes is probably a bigger slice of time than most visitors will dedicate. Quick calm. Calm on demand. These are the sizzle in the steak for an online meditation coach. Twenty minutes is enough time to de-velcro my posterior from my desk chair and head out into real nature, birds, water flowing. But it’s nice nevertheless, if for no other reason than it shows they’ve been receiving positive feedback and encouragement to roll out a longer format meditation.

A few other recent accolades to pass along via Twitter to reinforce the good vibe before I ask an innocent question that might be perceived as cynical. It’s not, of course. ;-)

Any morning that is insanely hectic leads me to http://t.co/8rGnSwAs for a break to restart and recharge.
@NationHahn
Nation Hahn
You have to appreciate a CEO sending a company email telling everyone to take a few minutes off with http://t.co/klFPTTSe
@nateknox
Nate Knox
Just finished a double session on @. It's amazing. I can still see and hear nature even when I've been too busy to go for a hike.
@K4tycakes
Katy Elizabeth
http://t.co/cC8Y6rBe could be a way for people to build a meditation habit while at work, the place where most people need it most.
@VictorMathieux
Victor Mathieux

Hmmm… Lots of calm.com love. Now time for my question: Is there a connection to bcalm wellness drink? Not sure. A few suggestions, but no confirmation.

Mashable‘s Stephanie Haberman believes that calm.com is the most relaxing 2 minutes you’ll spend online:

In the frenetic, crazy, digital world we live in, sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and smell the roses. Calm.com, a relaxation therapy website, gives the stressed-out masses a place to relax… Try it. Your sanity level will be glad you did. (Mashable)

And The Inquisitr ‘s James Johnson suggests that calm.com is designed to do almost nothing but offers a lukewarm review:

I actually did find the gentle music to be rather relaxing… Was I rejuvenated and ready to go about my day for another 10 hours? No. However I could definitely see where a writer stuck on a paragraph or a stressed out computer programmer could find solace in a few relaxing minutes involving a website that asked them to do absolutely nothing after making their selection. (The Inquisitr)

In short, calm.com is a clever idea. Well executed. Simply. Elegantly. With no shilling. And yet… I can’t help but wonder, is this a marketing concept for a consumable of some sort? Or is it the gift of a benevolent tech geek with a meditation habit? Either way, thanks. Great concept. I’m hooked.

Monday Blues? Mini-Golf!

There are days and there are dazed days, Mondays and weeks full of Mondays.

For times like these, when the burly blues blot out the best, I turn to Improv Everywhere for an emergency dose of sunshine. This morning’s synchronized swimming flashback was just what the doctor ordered!

Improv Everywhere performs a 16-person synchronized swimming routine in the fountain in Washington Square Park. Posing as the official New York City synchronized swimming team, the Olympic-hopefuls compete in three inches of dirty water in this unauthorized event. Will the judges reward their effort? (Improv Everywhere)

Although this is a digitally snazzified rerun from 2004, the London Olympics timing is perfect. And as good things often lead onto more good things, I couldn’t resist the temptation to wander from synchronized swimming to the Mini-Golf Open which smeared a grin across my mug so wide sunrise mistook it for the horizon. And I don’t even like golf! Well, not like golf anyway…

Thank you, Improv Everywhere.

 

Demolition Derby

Dauntless Driver

Dauntless demolition derby driver

I haven’t been to the Essex County Fair yet. In fact, given the number of concurrently scheduled commitments, it’s likely I won’t make it at all this year.

It’s a pity. I love it. Less perhaps for the events themselves, and more for the top rate people watching. Good stuff. And I do have a weakness for fried dough and meditating on fuzzy baby ducks which — if I keep lobbying my bride — I may some day even get to raise myself. (So far she’s dismissed the idea as inhumane, basically raising coyote fodder.)

I’ve gotten excited about the idea of raising ducks. I did some research, found a catalog, ogled the pictures, read the descriptions, circled my favorites and told me wife. Emergency brake! “What? Raise ducklings so the coyotes and foxes can eat them? Are you crazy?” Needless to say, she’s not too keen on the idea. There’ve been a couple of heated conversations. I’ve demurred but repressed the desire. At least for now. (Rosslyn Redux.)

One of the most anticipated Essex County Fair events each year is the demolition derby competition. That should probably be all caps: Demolition Derby. It’s big.

I ruminated a bit on my love/hate relationship with the event over on the Essex on Lake Champlain community blog in an unimaginatively titled post, “Demolition Derby at the Essex County Fair“. I’ve paired it down even further for this post. Two powerful words. Destructive. Competitive. Celebratory. No need for fluff or drama on my part, “Demolition Derby” says it all!

Here’s the crux of my reflection, though it took me a little more beating around the bush to find what I really meant to say first time round. If you waited for the abridged version, you win.

It’s hard to imagine Elkanah Watson who first launched the fair in 1848 anticipating the demolition derby or the rollover show. Half a century before automobiles debuted, oxen and horse powered wagons and carriages would have been the rural Essex County equivalent to the gas powered vehicles that are now ubiquitous. Certainly there would have been little desire to smash or flip and effectively destroy horse drawn vehicles while risking life and limb in the process. And yet we are fascinated with the brazen competitors in their windowless jalopies sporting spray painted taunts, “Hit me hard!” and “Fear this!”

Although I admitted earlier that attending the demolition derby conjures all variety of highway horrors that I’d rather abandon in the dusty recesses of memory, I admit an almost morbid intrigue. I drive slowly by houses where demolition derby cars are being fine-tuned and decorated with war paint. I’ve spent hours talking to demolition derby veterans, trying to understand their experience. And I’ve stopped at the fairgrounds the day after the demolition derby more than once to snap photographs or to watch the crusher flattening the wrecked cars and stacking them on the bed of a tractor trailer for recycling. Morbid. (Essex on Lake Champlain)

I reread the post before publishing and realized a couple of things.

  • I sound like a sissy.
  • I sound like a major sissy!
  • I sound like I’m being condescending or derisive even though it’s not the way I feel. Just perplexed. And conflicted.

I’m simultaneously intrigued and horrified by the demolition derby. Ever since I was a peach lipped lad, back when I called it the “Smash’em Up Derby” and attempted small-scale facsimiles in the driveway with my brother and sister on tricycles and Big Wheels, the demolition derby competition has provoked a complex reaction in me. The sort where a visceral cringe is immediately followed by a sneak peak.

In particular, I’m fascinated with the cars and drivers before the demolition derby. And then again afterward. The preparation for battle, and the detritus of battle. The howling engines and belching smoke and shuddering car carcasses and flames and sirens and medics trigger an irrepressible wave of adrenaline (good) followed by an equally irrepressible fight-or-flight response. So I skip the middle and savor the before and after!

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