Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why I Haven't Blogged in Awhile, or What Has The Weather Been Doing for the Past Month, or Some Information about SSAD

I will admit that I am a person of excuses. If given the opportunity to give an excuse for a failure, shortcoming, or fuck-up I am entirely comfortable with explaining away whatever problem has cropped up by introducing an external factor or three. For example, if someone were to ask me why I haven’t devoted any time to this stupid information blog in the past two and some weeks the answer would be “SSAD” and also “Fuck you” (it is a two-part answer). The second part is easier to understand, so I’ll give you some information about the first.

To start, I did not make a typo. Most people have heard of SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, a mental situation where you have depression because of the winter. SSAD, or subsyndromal seasonal affective disorder, is like SAD Lite. In terms of excuses it is a much more reasonable, believable, and comforting than a disorder whose acronym is tragically self-descriptive. There are two main problems that accompany psychological problems trendy enough to have wikipedia pages and television commercials. The first is that they often cause arguments between people who accept the prolem's existence while only holding a dim understanding of what the problem entails, and people who reject their existence because they refuse to believe that chemistry is a pretty viable explanation for everything that has ever happened anywhere, ever. The second is that the first kind of people mentioned will all the time believe they have a problem they don’t actually have because they do not understand the problem.

Having SAD is like having Bad Depression for some time of the year due almost entirely to the fact that it is is a certain time of the year. Bad Depression (expensive books and professors who would be upset if they read this would call it Major Depressive Disorder) is a problem (not the preferred clinical word) that makes people kill themselves, gain weight, lose weight, do mistakes, and not do anything, all while feeling terrible all the time no breaks. They have to do this for six months before they are allowed to go around bragging about their problem (not recommended), which makes it hard to do on a seasonal basis. Some time ago, however, people from Alaska and Finland complained and suicided enough to get the psychiatric world’s attention for long enough to come up with an official problem to give these people, and thus SAD was born.

The trouble with SAD is that everyone thinks they have it because people think that depression is eating a whole bag of chips and then calling your friends to tell them that your day has not been good enough (for the record this is a symptom of someone who should be suicidal but who opts instead to just be a huge fucking pain). The truth of the matter is that a lot of people feel lousy a lot of the time, and during the winter most people feel lousy some of the time, and during winters that seem to keep going on and on forever with no end in sight some people start to feel like shit. But they don’t want to kill themselves and they can get out of bed if you give them long enough and they don’t just listen to this on repeat. So they don’t have SAD, right? Right, they have SSAD, and so they start keeping snack food in their desk drawers instead of pencils, and they don’t return calls or emails, and they forget to take a shower every day, and they have a hard time preparing meals that are any more complicated than just a starch and peanut butter, and they don’t have as much motivation to write blog posts explaining everything in the fucking universe to the 8 people who read it. Now you know you're welcome.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How do Cavity Fillings Work?

Recently (that is to say, between now and when I last blessed you with Information) I made a trip to the dentist to have a cavity filled. Now before you assume that I’m some kind of low life who doesn’t brush his teeth every day, I’m not. I’d like to make it clear that this cavity was discovered at a recent dental appointment, my first in nearly two years (the last of which resulted in the discovery and subsequent treatment of between 3 and 6 cavities - I do not remember the exact number, only that it was the worst spring break ever ever). Before you try to tell me that biannual and not biennial checkups are the norm for educated and insured people in this country I’d like to make it clear that I’m not the kind of person who makes appointments as a measure of preventative physical upkeep, which is why I have not been to a doctor in two years and four months. I’d argue that, factoring in my Coke consumption and general failures at providing myself “good nutrition” on a regular basis, developing only one cavity over the course of two years is a victory in a battle that’s part of a war that only ends when I die or have everything in my mouth replaced with titanium. One or both of these things will happen. Regardless, I am not here to complain to you about how terrible a dental procedure having a cavity filled is, because it’s really a kind of entry-level affair in terms of its brutality and pain. If comfort and convenience were monetary assets then having a cavity filled is like being pick-pocketed (to clarify this metaphor having braces is getting swindled in a long con and having teeth pulled is like being mugged by a guy with pliers and a vendetta). Regardless, I’m sure you will be relieved to know that aside from a half-hour wait in a chair post-lidocaine administration the procedure went off without a hitch, but one part of cavity-filling always made me curious - what the hell is the deal with the UV ray gun?

Maybe it’s best to describe how having a cavity filled works. I assume incorrectly that everyone in this blog’s meager readership has had to deal with situations like this one because I come from a line of people whose teeth immediately begin to turn to dust as soon as they breach the gums. So here’s the short version: the dentist puts some topical anesthetic goo on the gums, then injects (yes with a needle) the gums with a local anesthetic - usually lidocaine - and then everybody waits around for about ten minutes. After you, the patient, are (hopefully) numb in the face-area a drill is administered to your decaying tooth, the purpose of which is to remove all the shittiness that you have let happen because you haven’t been flossing. Usually this doesn’t hurt more than a little bit, though the smell and sensation of ground bone fragments flying into one’s cheeks can be extremely off-putting, and sometimes it does hurt, especially if the rot is far along. Back when I was like seven or eight years old and was having my first batch of cavities dealt with the dentist had two drills, one of which made a low and terrible noise, while the other made a much higher pitched terrible noise. Being a pediatric dentist he liked to personify the drills to his child-patients, and their names were Mr. Bumpy and Mr. Whistle, respectively. This has stuck with me for fourteen years because it is so, so terrifying. I did not have to have parlance with Mr. Bumpy in this most recent procedure, which is always encouraging. Anyway, after the trouble’s been routed a filling is put onto the tooth. This is where I used to get confused. Back in old times, and still occasionally in this modern age, gold or silver were used as the topmost part of the filling. More common now are teeth-colored fillings, made of some kind of science-paste. You see, as best as I can tell the filling material is of some kind of malleable consistency when it’s being shoved into one’s tooth. Then (and this is the science part) the dentist or lowly assistant tells the patient to close their eyes while some kind of futuristic light-gun zaps the newly-placed filling. After this the materials is solid. I’m pretty sure the same stuff is used on braces in some capacity, as I have memories of the orthodontist buzzing my teeth with a similar instrument, but my recollection of those dark times is foggy at best, both from chronological distance and the brain’s natural middle-school-amnesia defense mechanisms. Regardless, this technology has always baffled me. How can exposure to ultraviolet light change something’s consistency so dramatically in a matter of seconds? Well, twenty seconds on Google nets a lot of answers, and apparently I am the only person in the world to be confounded by this kind stuff. According to wikipedia the whole affair is a bunch of chemistry well beyond the scope of anything I’m willing to understand, but the fact remains that it’s very cool. I am happy to have solved this mystery that had been nagging at me. I am glad to have this Information.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Here is 2008

Author's note: It has been a while since I spent any significant amount of time crafting a New Year's Blog Entry. Please enjoy this afternoon's endeavors.

A lot of the internet is busy listing things from 2007: best-of lists, most important this or that’s, lists of authors who died, etc. Stuff like this is all well and good, and merits existence inasmuch as it makes it easy for amnesiacs and the absent-minded to review what it is that's happened since last January 1st, but they do very little in the way of preparing us for the upcoming year, and it’s always been this website's job to present some things that are urgent, and some that are not. Well, the future is urgent, and the past is not.

In the interest of preparedness I will go ahead and give you the main important information of the upcoming calendar year.

Best Movie:
The Brothers Bloom

Why will this movie be the best movie of 2008? A lot of reasons. The first is that Rian Johnson directed it. If you’ve been paying any attention to living your life you’ve already seen his first movie and spent a lot of time figuring out how the hell he accomplished this. Furthermore, The Brothers Bloom has Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo and Nora Zehetner (who, you might be interested to know, won a grammy for Best Shoulders in 2006, 2007 and will again win in 2008). Also, it is about con men.


Best Album:
The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride

A year from now all the music blogs and the seemingly-informed will be collecting their best of 2008 album lists, and there’s a good chance that this album won’t show up on those lists; this is because most (though by no means all) people who run sites of the aforementioned types are the kind of mistake-makers who put the lackluster, the lousy, and the downright annoying on their best-of lists this year. Why will Heretic Pride actually be the best album of 2008? Because it’s fucking awesome, that’s why.


Best Video Game:
Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii

This does not require an explanation. What’s more, I’m aware that, save for a few, the audience to whom I’m writing is not one that is particularly interested in video games. Those interested don’t need this choice explained to them, and those who aren’t don’t want to have to read about it.


Other Things That Will Happen:

America Gets a New President (this doesn’t happen until November, but everyone seems pretty set on broadcasting every detail about the stuff that leads up to it starting last month. Some stuff has to happen before we even know who we’ll get to vote for, so don’t worry about it right now.)

NASA Sends Another Thing to the Moon or Whatever

California will have a natural disaster

I will get tired of doing this blog and abandon it

Now you know, plan accordingly. And you’re welcome.