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So, have y’all heard about this game, Boomshine? I’m telling you, DO NOT play it. No seriously. Don’t click on that link. If you do, you’ll be sorry! If you’re not already completely addicted, you should run screaming. SAVE YOURSELVES!!

You clicked the link, didn’t you? Don’t say I didn’t warn you… So anyway, the thing about Boomshine is that as I play it (for hours on end), I find myself focusing on the tiny dots and trying to guide them toward the bigger dots with my mind. And I genuinely believe that this makes a difference. It’s like wearing the same outfit every time I go to a basketball game. In my mind, I know that my outfit has absolutely NO bearing on the outcome of the game. But I just can’t stop myself from believing it has some kind of magical power.

The funny thing about Boomshine is that it reminds me of sophomore year in college, which I spent working in a parapsychology lab. You know in Ghostbusters, where Venkman (played by Bill Murray) is testing the people for psychic abilities with cards that have weird symbols on them? Those were developed by Dr. Rhine, founder of the Rhine Research Center for Parapsychology. The Rhine Center used to be a part of the Duke University Psychology Department, until they got too embarrassed and kicked them off campus, where they sat, just across the street from East Campus for many years. They’ve since moved on, but while I was a student, it was a 5 minute walk, and they paid pretty well, so I did my work-study job with them.

Now, actually, I need to back up for a minute, and tell you all about how I found the Rhine Center. Freshman year, I took a research methods course in psychology, because I was convinced that I wanted to be a research psychologist (Calculus would later derail those plans). My incredibly smug professor thought it would be hilarious if our entire class participated in a study put on by the Rhine Center, and then compare (or really, contrast) it to a Duke study. So, our whole class signed up to participate in the research. We had to go in pairs, and since I was the only freshman in the class, no one wanted to be my partner, so I got stuck with the incredibly geeky loser junior boy with no friends. (That sounds really mean. And if he had been sweet but geeky, I would never have called him that. He was more smug than the professor and acted as if he was so much better than me, even though he was the most painfully socially awkward person I’ve ever met. And I’ve met a LOT of painfully socially awkward people.)

GB (Geek Boy) and I went over and did our duty, and here’s how the experiment worked. I was the “receiver” and he was the “sender”. For his part, GB had to sit in a room on the other side of the building and stare at a picture on a TV screen. He had to “send” this image to me in another room. He got the easy job. I had to go into another room and sit in a reclined position in what looked an awful lot like an old dentist’s chair. The research assistant came in and fitted me with a microphone and headphones. Then, they put ping-pong balls which had been cut in half over my eyes (to keep me from being able to look at other things in the room), then used lab goggles to hold the half-ping-pong balls in place. Next, they turned on a red light, because apparently pink light is soothing and is a conducive environment for receiving psychic messages. Next, I had to listen to a relaxation tape to cleanse my mind. After that was over, I was to concentrate on receiving my partner’s vibes from across the building. I was also supposed to talk about the images I saw, but I was silent for so long after the relaxation tape ended that the research assistant thought I fell asleep. Really, I wasn’t talking because I didn’t see anything—just white, blank space. As time went on (I was given nearly an hour to do this), I saw other things, like houses on a lake. Near the end of the time period, I had a quick flash of a very wrinkly brown face. I was convinced this was the image I was being sent. At the end of the time period, I was shown 4 pictures on my own TV screen (after I removed the ping-pong balls and goggles, of course), and asked to choose which picture I thought was transmitted to me. I only remember two of the pictures. One was a National Geographic photo of an African tribeswoman, with a bunch of metal rings around her neck. Though she was young and not wrinkly, this was the closest thing to the flash of the wrinkly brown face. I chose that picture, which was the wrong one. I remember the other picture because it was the right one. It was called “Snowy White Egret” and the title bird was standing in a lake, with little houses far in the background. See, I thought psychic visions came to you as a well-edited blockbuster movie, not like some crazy experimental student film. (If only Allison DuBois of Medium fame had been around then to teach me in the ways of psychicness.)

Now, in the words of the legendary Ron White (“You caught me! You caught the Tater!”), I told you that story to tell you this… When I worked for the Rhine Center, I was charged with transcribing the tapes of the receivers babbling, so that researchers could analyze them to see if others had experiences similar to mine. I sat in a tiny room with two computers. I wore headphones and typed what I heard on one of them. Occasionally, a “test subject” would come in and sit at the other computer. He or she was supposed to watch a tiny pixel-dot move across the screen and use their parapsychological powers to make the dot move upwards. The pixel-dot was programmed to move randomly up or down, and the concept of the study was that, probability-wise, you should get a fairly straight line. If the line went WAY up, or WAY down, then the test subject was able to control the pixel-dot with his or her mind, obvs.

Well, after a few months of this, the researchers noticed that the line was (supposedly) a lot more likely to go up if I was in the room than at other times, and that possibly I was the one making the line go up. (My smug professor was right, and their research methods were total crap.) So first, they moved me to a different room. Then, they started harassing me about being a test subject myself. This intensified when they realized that I had participated in the pink ping pong balls test, as well. That happened in the late spring, so I resisted until summer came, then I got a new work-study job for the next year. (Incidentally, that new work-study job was in the office where I now work!)

I’m really not sure how I feel about the existence of parapsychological powers. I think that our brains can do amazing things, and that it’s entirely possible that there are things we don’t yet (and maybe never will) understand. I also think that most of the people who claim to be psychic are fakes. What I do know for sure is that, if parapsychology researchers keep using crappy research methods, they won’t be able to get anyone to buy into their findings.

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Sorry, I love alliteration. 🙂 So over the weekend, I was tagged by Melissa to do this meme… I’m supposed to write seven random things about myself… And I’m going to try to write seven that you may not already know about me. So let’s see…

1. I feel guilty about things that have nothing (or very little) to do with me. Like yesterday, when Duke fired its football coach, I cried like a baby while watching interviews with some of the team’s seniors. I feel bad because they deserved better–they deserved to be able to say that their best memory from their 4 (or 5) years on the team was that they learned how to be men or that one time they beat a team. And at the same time, I feel really bad for the coach because he is a really nice guy, and I hate to see him go. But I also really want to watch a winning football team. And I feel guilty about all those things.

2. I cry at EVERYTHING. It’s ridiculous sometimes. I teared up while watching figure skating the other day. Actually, I cry during sports more than anything else, but earlier today I got a little teary while watching Martha stuff a turkey with Russell Crowe. Like I said, ridiculous!

3. I don’t want kids. I decided this about 5 years ago, and the decision seems to have stuck. I actually love kids–other people’s kids. I like to give them back when they get too fussy or need a diaper change. Plus, when my aunt had her last baby, my uncle showed me the video, and that shit looked like it REALLY hurt!

4. I never say never. Or at least I try not to, because if I say never, then I always end up doing it. When I was in college, I said I’d never move to Texas. I went to grad school at UT-Austin. In grad school, I said I’d never live in California. Right after, I took a job at UC-Santa Barbara. I don’t regret these experiences at all–but I’ve learned to stop saying NEVER!

5. I used to have a pierced eyebrow. I actually really liked it for about a month, and I liked the fact that it seemed really out of character/out of context with the rest of me. But as my 28th birthday got closer and closer, I became convinced that the extra weight of the ring was making my eyebrow droopy and it was making me look old. So I had it taken out.

6. This weekend, I helped my mom make Balsamic Truffles. They are really amazing, especially if you like dark chocolate. They have an odd bite, but they’re really delicious. If you want the recipe, you’ll have to go look it up on the Food Network site (it keeps crashing my browser). It’s one of Giadia de Laurentiis’ recipes.

7. I just put up my Christmas tree. In my family, it’s traditional to wait until the first Sunday in December. But since I’m leaving to go to California on the 12th, I figured I would put it up early. I left lots of spots on the front for all the ornaments I’ll be getting in the big SWAP!

Now I’m supposed to tag someone else… About the only person I know who hasn’t done this one recently is my darling dearest over at Immaculate Malaise. Go ahead, click that. Is that not the new hottness? (Ok, really, the too-skinny new hottness. But I heart him and would want to make babies with him if either of us were into that kind of thing.)

So close! I was SOOO CLOSE! Ok, so I had missed a few days earlier, but always because of Time Warner Cable, who hates me.

But over the weekend, I totally missed two days of posting. The first was because I lost track of days… All week, I could never remember what day it was. So on Friday, I thought I had already posted before my family went to a movie that night… And if I hadn’t already thought that, there’s no way I would have remembered after…

We went to see No Country for Old Men. My mind was completely boggled. I can appreciate it as a film. If Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t win an Oscar for it, something’s very wrong. But MAN I was not expecting that. My mind is still boggled.

When I got home, no internets, and I had a heck of a time making it work long enough to get this post up. You know, because TWC hates me.

Ah, but I will get back on track. Starting tomorrow, when I do Melissa’s 7 Random Things Meme… (I had planned on doing it tonight, but I’m too exhausted after mopping and vaccuuming the whole apartment.)

Junior year in college, James Cameron and his Titanic movie took over the world. I went to see it, liked it ok, and bought the soundtrack. Now, hearing Celine Dion’s voice makes me almost have an aneurysm, but then, I really liked her*.

Of course, this was also the same time that every girl in the world was going psycho over Leo DiCaprio. Not me, though. He was a little too pale and skinny for me. (I’ve never been into emo boys, even pre-emo.) But my roommate that year, who I shall, henceforth, refer to as Best Roomie Ever** (BRE), decided that I should have a crush on Leo. Or at least that it would be HILARIOUS if I had a crush on Leo.

I would come home from class every day to a new Leo photo on the background of my computer or pictures taped to my door or desk or loft or even inside the closet. Once, she even downloaded a Leo screensaver. I didn’t discourage her because she seemed to be having fun with it, and it really was pretty hilarious.

One night, it was a weekend night and we’d been drinking, there were probably 4 or 5 of us crowded around my computer as BRE tried to find new Leo pictures. Then there was a pop-up ad that said, “Hottest Leo Pics! Click here!” So we did.

OH MY GOD, Y’ALL. That click took us to the nastiest porno site I have ever seen (not that I’ve seen a lot). We all screamed in horror and backed away from the screen. BRE was bright red and completely traumatized. (At the time, she was about the most innocent person I knew.) I made one of my more tech-savvy friends go in and delete that site from my history (I didn’t know how to yet. Come on, I’d only had the internet for 2.5 years at that point.) because I absolutely did not want to ever see that site again.

So the lesson, boys and girls, is that skinny, greasy white boys who become overnight idols are excellent bait to get innocent girls to look at horrible, awful porn.

************

*Now, I highly prefer the New Found Glory and Barenaked Ladies versions of the Titanic song.

**Because she really was! We had similar habits and we were both ridiculously overly polite, which really helped us get along well. Also, she’s the only roomie I’ve ever had that I wasn’t friends with first. I think that made a huge difference.

Title: Red Death
Author: Walter Mosley

Comments: This is the second book in the Easy Rawlings series. (I wrote about the first, Devil in a Blue Dress, earlier.) It was just as fantastic as the first. Easy’s investigational skills get better in this book (I love the way Mosley is developing this character so realistically), but the story gets much more complicated. The setting (just barely post WWII Watts in LA) is lively and thrilling and so interesting historically. Most of all, the mystery part was just so fantastic that I couldn’t wait to see how Easy would make everything work out in then end (since it wasn’t the last book in the series, I felt sure that he would). In fact, I was so involved in the story, that I finished the book in less than a day! (I was on vacation, so I had the luxury of reading for hours at a time.) I can’t wait to read the next one–which I plan to do over the Thanksgiving holiday, since my dad owns all Mosley’s books.

I love the site LOLTheist.  I pretty much love all LOLs, but this one gives me the added bonus of the “naughty factor”.  If you are offended by jokes about religion (mostly Christian, but some others), please don’t visit this site.  But if you realize that sometimes the religious (myself included) sometimes take themselves too seriously, please take a gander at this

I really wish I could send this to everyone who ever put a “God is my Copilot” license plate on the front of their car.

Today, I was in a meeting at work where we were discussing a global initiative that will take our programs to India, for students in the most disadvantaged classes there.  There was this sense of, “Yes, this is a good thing to do–there is no question about that.  But does it fit in to our overall mission?  And should we be helping these children half a world away when we haven’t even figured out how to help the children two blocks away?”

It got me to thinking…  We see so much on TV about how children in other countries are starving to death, begging in the streets, living in shacks.  No doubt, they are much worse off than most children in the United States.  But people seem to ignore the fact that there is real, abject poverty right here in the US.  I grew up knowing kids who lived in houses that looked like abandoned shacks (and had the heating and electrical capabilities of said shacks).  There are millions of children who survive on the free school breakfasts and lunches, and are lucky if they get a meal over the weekend.  (This is particularly disturbing if you think about the fact that these children are about to have a 4-day weekend, and many of us will be gorging on the traditional fare.)

I grew up in a small, rural, and exceptionally poor area of the country.  I knew these kids, I saw these kids, I sat next to these kids in school and played with them after.  Growing up, I thought we were rich.  It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized we were probably lower-middle class at best.  I was amazed by the amount of disposable cash, clothing, cars, video games, whatever else, that my friends had.  I was even more amazed when I found out that only a handful of us were on financial aid.  Because I thought my family was rich, I couldn’t even conceive of the kind of family income it would take to pay for a Duke education.

Lately, it seems that celebrity culture has taken over, and luxury goods are more attainable for even average consumers.  I think that makes it easy to forget that starvation and poverty can happen in our own country, just two blocks down the street.  So, with the upcoming holiday, I am thankful for all the blessings I’ve received:  a warm home, a good education, loving parents who went out of their way to hide when we ourselves were poor.  And I’m also thankful that I understand that true poverty doesn’t just occur in India or Mexico or the African country that is being taken up by celebrities today.  There is poverty in Durham, North Carolina, and all over the US too.  We cannot help them all, but we can try.

Time Warner is determined that I will not make a post every day. My internet was out all night until 12:02. UGH.

I also hate it when people have 85 thousand items at the grocery store, and still insist on going through the self-check. (Which in and of itself is awesome.)

And I hate it when people go on the attack mode in staff meetings before the meeting even gets started, talking in an exceptionally loud voice. Or when those same people, who have been caught playing video games at their desks, tell you that they can’t look up 15 email addresses because “it would interfere with my other tasks”. Ridiculous.

Plus, I hate Spencer Pratt on the Hills. He is an icky, disgusting weasel.

On Thursday and Friday of last week, Oprah did two shows on this woman who was a hoarder. Her entire house was filled with crap, piled as high as she could reach. There were paths through the stuff that were only about a foot wide, and there was even stuff on the bed, with only enough room for her and her husband to lay down. It was really bizarre.

When they went in to clean out the house, they found all kinds of crazy mold, food that had rotted into the carpet, and enough stuff to fill a 10,000 square foot warehouse and make it look cluttered (even though their house was less than 1400 square feet).

At the end, Oprah looked meaningfully at the screen and said, “It’s really easy to judge the people you see here, but it could happen to any of us.” And that’s when I realized that I totally judge all the people Oprah has on her show.

I mean, I realize that this lady had serious mental issues, but what about her family? Her husband was just like, “Ok, honey, go out and buy 14 umbrellas and then stash them somewhere in the house.” One of her kids would rather just never visit than try to get her help. I don’t necessarily judge the woman who was hoarding, but I totally judged her family.

A few weeks ago, there was a show with Suze Orman, the financial specialist. This one lady was like, “My kids don’t have health insurance, and they have health problems, and we can’t take them to the doctor. And we haven’t paid our mortgage in months. But I still totally get pedicures every week and drink Starbucks daily.” And I judged her too. I thought she was maybe the most selfish person I’d ever seen in my life.

So, yes, Oprah, I totally judge all the people Oprah has on to talk about their problems. But so do you—and worse, Oprah, you judge your best friend Gail, single parents doing the best they can after a divorce, and transgendered people. So we’re at least even.

I’ve been a busy, crafty bee today. Not much time for writing, but I did get a chance to take a picture of my favorite project today…

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This is a barette that I sewed a fabric cover for… Cute, right?