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Archive for July, 2018

SLEEP ON IT

If the average person was asked what trace mineral in the body…

  • Is found in muscles, eyes, the brain, and other major parts of the body
  • Plus, helps regulate our body’s immune response, and is essential to brain development
  • Plus, helps promote sleep
  • And, is the second most common trace element in the human body

…probably not many would confidently answer, zinc.

An article in the current edition of Psychology Today discusses some of these various contributing factors, which make the presence of zinc in the body so vital, including normal growth development; but it is the mineral’s contribution to positive sleeping experience which dominates the commentary.

Perhaps most notably, while not the trigger for sleep, “…adequate levels of zinc in the blood shorten the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency), increase the amount of overall sleep, and assure sleep quality and efficiency”.  The conclusion of researchers is that “…once a certain blood level of zinc is reached, it crosses into the brain and activates signaling pathways to promote sleep”.

Zinc enters the body through supplements or certain foods.  The latter is a tricky issue of limited access and palate: the main sources of high levels of zinc include oysters, red meat, and wheat germ.  These are non-synergistic for many from a lifestyle perspective.

Perhaps it would be helpful to explore other, non-elemental options for inducing sleep, such as:

  • Acts of fellow citizens which can induce one’s desire to escape wakefulness; an example is a case this week in Ontario of a woman wanting to take a barber of nearly 50 years experience to a human rights tribunal over his refusal to cut her hair, something he has never felt comfortable with doing for a woman in his shop (note: many women strongly support his position)
  • Binge watching formulaic reality or crime shows
  • Counting the number of times the same commercial appears in the same episode
  • Waiting for politically motivated promises or assurances to actually take place
  • Recalling episodes, in real time, of filtering through political pontificating
  • Recalling episodes, in real time, of holding on the phone for customer service
  • Reliving the exasperation in trying to get what you wanted when you reach customer service

Certainly there are many more examples to be had.  All one has to do is to sleep on them.

Insightful(?) Dichotomies

A brief article in the August issue of Psychology Today looks at the current state of affairs of personality tests.

The inconsistency of some of their standards has given rise to doubting the value of results.  Indeed, popular ‘Temperament Sorter’ and ‘Type Indicator’ programs include undesirable features such as “ambiguous language and false dichotomies”.

For example, one question asks the test taker if it feels better to have one’s head in the clouds or to feel like one’s in a rut?  Such questions are likely to trigger uncertainty in how to respond, especially given the alternative meta-meanings of each; although in this particular case, the answer might be affected by whether one is looking up or looking down when considering it.

Many participants do feel that legitimate probing can be valuable; moreover, rating questions as having higher difficulty tends to connect them “with greater perceptions of depth”.

However, challenging does not equate with enlightening: a ‘type indicator’ can result in different personality categories each time such a test is taken.

Assessments which focus on major traits are likely to reveal that aspects such as agreeableness or extraversion come in degrees, not packable absolutes.  It’s the consistency of scores when participants retest which conveys more meaningful revelations.

Given some of the volatility in current societal relationships and expectations, there are no doubt many other paradoxical comparisons one could construct to generate insight…

  • Which is worse, driving on the wrong side of the road or yelling out one’s window in the middle of traffic?
  • Are politicians who lie as expected better than those who lie unexpectedly?
  • Is corruption involving safety worse than corruption involving the pubic purse?
  • Is refusing to help a long-time neighbour worse than refusing to give to charity?
  • Is it better to lead by example or follow with fortitude?
  • Which is worse, a broken fingernail or a broken toenail?
  • Is it easier to handle raining on your parade or dealing with a flat tire?
  • Is a salesperson who omits information to help close a deal worse than a developer who derails information which would stop a deal?
  • Is it better to come to aid a stranger in an emergency or to babysit for an in-law in distress?
  • Is it better to confront a bully at a beach or at a playground?
  • Should one feel right to leave no tip, or is it better to ask for additional free helpings?
  • Are there smarter rules for recycling or for obtaining a driver’s license?

Life Lessons from ‘The Intern’

In September 2015 a comedy-drama film called “The Intern” was released in theatres.  Starring Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway, it told the story of a retired, 70 year-old widower (de Niro) who returns to the work-force as part of a new senior intern program launched by a highly successful, internet clothing company, run since its start in her kitchen 18 months earlier, by its hyper-active founder (Hathaway).

The film’s overall box-office gross overall was close to $200 million (budget approx. $35 million).  It was a financial success, but tended to be overlooked by many in the industry because of its being tagged as something of a ‘chick flick’, and which didn’t feature IMAX worthy special effects. (more…)

What is More Fun than Hot & Humid Weather?

It’s early July, and the times (i.e. morning and night), they’re only limited respites from hot and humid.

What could be more fun?  According to some pundits in the media in Canada, we should be grateful for whatever we get, because it’s much better than the cold of mid-winter.  Indeed, they consider the extremely uncomfortable conditions in eastern Canada this past week, outside the protection of air-conditioning, are simply part of the price to pay. (more…)