Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Digital Dilemma

My word of 2018... You'll have to read to end for that......

It's come to the point of feeling like my mind is fractured. Like split into a hundred pieces and I'm not even me anymore.
I noticed a few months ago as I was spending my mornings doing projects around the house or yard that I was feeling good, like a normal person. (Or what used to be a 'normal' person.) You see, I had succumbed to the digital age trap and was 'losing' myself.
A few years back I can honestly say it took me on a journey of self-discovery but now it was to the point that I had let a monster consume me. I had days that I felt like a zombie and had accomplished nothing that whole day.
I read this last week in an email and thought... Yes, you hit it on the head! (If you care to read..)
If your cellphone dominates your life – if, like most people, you carry it everywhere and you check it continually – this little device could be making significant changes inside your brain.
Smartphones were introduced just a little over ten years ago. Now they’re a universal distraction and obsession. According to the Pew Research Center, 46 percent of all Americans say they are so dependent on these devices they cannot live without them.1      ..............
A study performed in Asia that involved young men who are “addicted” to their phones and the Internet found significant chemical changes in brain tissue. The researchers peered into brains using an MRS (Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy), a type of MRI (Magnetic Resonance imaging) that categorizes the brain’s chemical composition.
The study also measured to what degree the participants were hooked on surfing the Internet and compelled to spend time on their phones.
The first finding was disturbing: those who displayed the highest degree of addiction also suffered the most intense depression, insomnia, anxiety and impulsivity.2
And when the scientists measured levels of neuro-chemicals in the brains of these young men, they found elevated amounts of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) – a neurotransmitter that slows down and restricts the signals exchanged among neurons. GABA is also part of the brain’s system that influences vision and muscle control as well as regulating anxiety.
Plus, the tests revealed reduced amounts of Glx (glutamate-glutamine) – a neurotransmitter that excites and stimulates neurons.
In these smartphone “addicts,” the ratio of GABA to Glx was significantly higher in the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex. That’s an area of the brain that is involved in the moderation of heart rate and blood pressure while also taking part in decision making and emotional changes.
The researchers say the increases in GABA can cause an increase of anxiety and fatigue. They think that having extra GABA in the anterior cingulate gyrus can also affect your ability to learn new information and process memories properly.  It goes on to talk about how the light effects your lack of melatonin production in the evening too.
Now I can honestly say that on days I've let my computer and other devices take a back seat I am WAY less stressed, anxious and seem more focused. Since Thanksgiving, I've spent more time doing mixed media projects, drawing and painting and have been a lot more calm. I posted way less on Instagram in December than any month (which is unusual for me.) Hardly looked at Facebook since then, although that's never been a daily thing. And I've barely done any editing of photos on my iPad in 2 months. I am trying to shoot at least one Hipstamatic shot a day for a 365. (which will end up being 30 if I'm lucky. And I've already cheated.)
Yes the internet has enriched my life but it's also taken it over. And I've let it. I have quit striving to live up to what I think others expect of me. So I guess that mean I'll be 'quitting' a few things. Some are hard to do though. It's hard because it feels like I'm either giving up or I've failed. But they just aren't worthy of my precious time.
Which reminds me.... my word for this year is TRANSFORMED. I didn't pick it, it picked me last November. I knew the minute I heard it that was my word. And if it wasn't I wouldn't have remembered it. ha, ha, ha, ha!
So who really knows what this year will bring, but I'm ready.

Thursday, January 4, 2018


It’s that time of year again to turn the page. Out with the old, in with the new.

I started my cleaning out early this year. In fact, I started on Christmas morning. I discovered mouse droppings in the corner of the pantry behind a cooler. And I didn’t dare stop until I made sure he had not eaten any of our food!

The beginning of October we heard some scratching in the wall and discovered mice had sneaked into our attic. It was just five days before we were to leave on a three week vacation. We managed to catch five before we left and enlisted our neighbor for mouse patrol while we were gone. And..... by the time he finished the grand total was 18. Creeps me out.

Back to purging. I have a packrat side of me, then I have a ‘throw it out quick before you can think’ side also. I spent nearly 2 full days on the bedroom. I have a desk in there that’s just used as a catchall so it was piled quite high. (and even higher during the holidays.) every time it’s cleaned I’m tempted to move my laptop/external monitor set up in there. Where I have it now, in the dining room is much more cheery and bright and I can look out the windows and watch the world go by. It would be nice however to get my dining room table back. Although we would seldom eat on it. I would really like to paint that table and chairs and recover the chairs. Right now that seems a daunting task.
OK, back to purging again.

I have a lot of nice cleaned off spaces in the house now. I also have several boxes of orphans, those things that don’t seem to have a home.  You’re not sure where to put them, store them or display them. And you’re not ready to throw them away. Perhaps today will be their day to find a home.

A daily site overhead.
Taken in Hipstamatic. I finally updated my app and now I need to sit down and figure out all the changes. While transferring from my phone I discovered an annoying thing. Hipstamatic names images files crazy. This one is JXIM6881 and the numbers are totally random so they are not in numerical order at all on my computer. If I arrange by time created that doesn't totally jive either. I'm determined to find a solution. To be continued.......

Monday, November 6, 2017

Thirty Days of Leaves 06

The stately Sugar Maple. 
Taken in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Canon, very little edit) ISO100, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/500sec

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thirty Days of Leaves 04 & 05

This was a new species of tree for me. They do not grow where I grew up or where I live now. The scarlet red color amazed me. 
Flowering Dogwood, Ohio
Canon ISO100, 135mm, f/6.7, 1/500sec
Preset by Kim Klassen, Autumnal 6 Drama

Canon ISO100, 135mm, f/6.7, 1/350sec
Preset by Kim Klassen, Autumn Copper with some extra adjustments.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Thirty Days of Leaves 03

And one more Honey Locust from Nashville at the Courthouse.
I had decided to put my long lens on that day and was glad I did. 70-300.