Monday, January 09, 2017

Can smiling increase your happiness?

Smiling is my favorite thing!
Yes, three separate studies dating back as far as 1987 indicate that the physical act of smiling can have a psychological impact on how you feel.

Studies at the University of Michigan, University of Kansas, and an independent clinical study arrived at similar conclusions using three different methodologies.

In the most comprehensive study at the University of Kansas in 2012, 169 people were assigned one of three different facial expressions; a neutral expression, a typical mild smile, or an extreme smile lifting the cheeks known as a Duchenne smile. Then researchers used chopsticks to physically hold the expression in place. Participants were then asked to do a series of multitasking tasks, some of them quite stressful.

When asked about their mood and emotional state, the participants forced to smile were dramatically less stressed and happier.

It's quite possible that the physical act of smiling, as well as the extremes to which you smile, can have a psychological effect on your mood and your ability to manage stressful tasks.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

What is Brain Freeze or Ice Cream Headache?

Brain Freeze is actually a mistake by your brain.
“Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia” sounds like a terrible disease, and, certainly, it can be painful. But for most of us, sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia is a punishment worthy of the crime— the crime of eating ice cream. 

Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia is the affliction better known as “brain freeze” or “ice cream headache,” the stinging sensation one feels at the top/front of the head after eating too much ice cream too quickly.

Many of us have experienced it— one study in the British Medical Journal (yes, there’s a study on ice cream headaches) suggests as many as one-third of the population has been so afflicted.

Why does it happen? The most common explanation suggests that, in a sense, brain freezes are caused by our brains malfunctioning. Your face has a nerve called the trigeminal nerve that contains three parts. One of the three parts carries sensory information from your forehead to your brain while another one does the same for the roof of your mouth. (The third one focuses on the lower mouth, but that’s not relevant to conversations about ice cream headaches.) 

Eating ice cream causes the blood vessels in your face to contract quickly and, when the ice cream leaves your mouth, those same blood vessels get warm and dilate, or expand. If you eat ice cream too quickly, the blood vessels expand rapidly, and that’s where the trigeminal nerve takes over. The part of the nerve in the roof of your mouth sends a signal to your brain, telling the brain that something’s wrong. The brain screws it up. 

This “mistake” is a phenomenon called “referred pain,” in which the brain misplaces the source of the sensation. It’s not very common, although it’s also seen in heart attacks, during which the brain incorrectly places the pain in the shoulder instead of the chest. In the case of brain freeze, instead of “understanding” the signal for what it is— a change in temperature in your mouth— your brain instead thinks that the signal is coming from the forehead. The brain reacts by turning that signal into a migraine-like headache, although a short-lived one, thankfully. 

Why this referred pain phenomenon occurs is unknown. But we do know that if you do not want to experience it, there’s an easy solution: Slow down when you’re eating a frosted treat.

Credit: Lewis, Dan. Now I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind the World's Most Interesting Facts (p. 198-199). F+W Media. Kindle Edition.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Predictions on President-elect Trump (Video)

Okay, this isn't a Trump versus Hillary issue, nor is it meant to bash anyone for their point of view. This is simply a prediction. It's written to be funny, a bit, particularly if it comes true.

A federal judge has ruled that Trump University will be heard on charges of fraud. At that point a Democrat will push for impeachment, and a Republican will request a closed door session.

The Republicans, who like being in charge, but don't like Trump will be able to impeach without voting publicly. One will seal the record citing "national security" issues. They will make a deal with the Democrats, let the inauguration go forward, and we will kick him to the curb. They will appease the Democrats who could sue for a special election if it happened prior to inauguration.

Trump will resign citing a witchhunt, elevating Mike Pence to POTUS, and he will quickly appoint Paul Ryan to VP. Trump will go quietly, and in exchange Pence will pardon him for crimes he "may or may not have committed", effectively nullifying the upcoming fraud trial which will certainly have had several postponements.

Trump will be our President, for at least a weekend. The GOP will try to get its act together. They will try to put together and lock down a ticket for 2020.

The Dems, on the other hand, won't make a stink because a Republican will offer a variation that keeps Obamacare alive, although certainly it will be known by another name, and be touted as a bipartisan solution.

Sen. Ted Cruz will whine about how he should have become VP because he had the most Republican delegates after Trump, and he is the "People's choice". All of Washington will collectively roll their eyes and ignore him, once again.

Meanwhile, a mysterious accident causes the simultaneous death of the former FBI Director and the Guy who wrote "Clinton Cash". The New York Times and Washington Post will both put the story on page 3 of the local section.

Rush Limbaugh will die of a heart attack and his body won't be discovered for 72 hours, minimum.

Meanwhile Kanye West will say something stupid and Meghan Markle will be snapped by paparazzi with a blurry nipple exposed. Both will become Internet memes, restoring Facebook to its glory days.

Let's see how many I get right.