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Don’t go hungry


frustrationDid you ever wonder why dieters could seem so snarly? New research says that hard-to-notice blood sugar imbalances can be partly to blame for irritability and irrational frustration—including domestic quarrels.

Here’s the theory: Self-control takes energy to maintain, and that energy comes from burning glucose. If this energy supply is low, regulating emotions and unwelcome impulses becomes more difficult.

A team of scientists decided to test the relationship between blood sugar levels and domestic quarreling. They handed out voodoo dolls and glucometers to 107 couples, who had been married for an average of 12 years. Every evening for three weeks, according to their marital frustration, each partner pricked a doll that symbolized their spouse and measured their blood sugar level.

The results, posted online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists, showed that the lower a study participant’s blood sugar, the more pins they stuck in the doll.

Does the link between irritability and hunger seem intuitive to you? It does to me, too. But now you know it’s a scientific fact—there’s a reason you might reach for a cookie after a fight with your significant other besides that you need the comfort. You probably also need the glucose.

Happy munching!



Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Yawn


tinkerTailorI like spy stories, mysteries, caper plots, and thrillers, and a friend had strongly recommended this six-hour television mini-series from 1979. It stars Alec Guinness and Ian Richardson, and it looked great. I love those guys. Tonight I settled down to watch. The first hour: not much happenedWe got some backstory that had one pretty exciting scene, but it was backstory. When the credits rolled at the end, I thought I had misunderstood how the disk was set up, and I was getting intro credits really late into the show. Really late. Like an hour late.

But no. I needed to click again to get the second hour to start. Okay, so the producers/directors like long set-ups. The mini-series has a lot of characters, and they’re all white British men who wear trenchcoats, so maybe the producers thought we needed a long intro to get everybody straight. The second hour started. And again…waiting for something to happen. Waiting. Waiting. Then I fell asleep. When I woke up, five minutes before the end, I learned that Alec Guinness has been called out of retirement to find a mole in Britain’s secret service. Okay.

I plan to watch this mini-series to the end: the disks are here, after all. I think what’s making me yawn is the way the story is unfolding, in way too leisurely a style for what we’re used to these days. This mini-series was filmed 35 years ago, and I don’t think this story would be scripted this way today, no matter how John Le Carre had written the book. These days, most spy films seem to lead with a car chase or a scene that leads to a car chase–something that is big, bold, noisy, and fast—something that producers think will hook the viewer and make them sit up and pay attention. Just think of the recent Bond films with Daniel Craig, for example. A slower build doesn’t work that well any more.

That’s true for books, too. We’re taught that contemporary fiction, especially genre fiction, should begin in medias res—the beginning of the action. And that usually means literally—like the middle of an argument or a fire or burglary or some other central problem for the characters. Then the beginning of the problem—like the why of the argument or the fire—is layered in later as backstory, and then, writers hope, the ending will take care of itself.

I’m a big fan of old movies and old TV—and by “old” I mean from the 1930s and 1940s for film and 1950s for TV—and a lot of technique from those days looks dated today, even though the stories might still be fun. So I’m willing to cut Tinker, Tailor a lot of slack for what I think is a style convention of 35 years ago. Even with not a single car chase, Ian Richardson is deliciously evil, and Alec Guinness carries off his part brilliantly. Now in the next episodes, I know we’ll start to get some action. Even if it’s not car chases. Or fires.

Happy Boxing Day!


I’m too late to wish everyone merriness for Christmas, Hanukah, the Solstice, Kwanzaa, and no doubt many other December holidays, but I’m just in time for Boxing Day. The day after Christmas is celebrated by most countries in the Commonwealth—historically, by charitable giving. Today, though, it seems to be mostly about resting from the Christmas frenzy, and shopping. It’s a mystery why Americans haven’t adopted it.

The origins of Boxing Day are shrouded in mystery. One theory says that “Good King Wenceslas” was out surveying his land on St. Stephen’s Day — Dec. 26 — when he saw a poor man collecting wood in a snowstorm. Moved, the King gathered surplus food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant’s door, thus institutionalizing a tradition of alms-giving.

A second theory is that during Advent, Anglican parishes collected donations in a box, which was broken open the day after Christmas and its contents distributed among the poor. Also on the day after Christmas, the aristocracy traditionally distributed presents (boxes) to servants and employees.

Boxing Day has been a national holiday in England, Wales, Ireland, and Canada since 1871. Boxing Day fox hunts were held all over the English countryside for hundreds of years, but in 2005 Parliament banned the traditional method of using dogs to kill the prey. Hundreds of thousands of people still turn out at Boxing Day fox hunts around Britain.

The Irish refer to the holiday as St. Stephen’s Day, or Wren Day, which supposedly commemorates the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. The Irish tried to sneak up on the English invaders, but were betrayed by the song of a wren. Most historians find this story to be an excellent example of the Irish story-telling tradition.

The Bahamas celebrate Boxing Day with a street parade and festival called Junkanoo, in which traditional rhythmic dancers called gombeys, wearing elaborate costumes and headdresses, fill the streets.

So, my friends, have fun: hunt for a fox, parade with a wren, dance down the street, or even watch a bit of football on TV. It’s Boxing Day!

Thanks to Time Newsfeed for the info.


Okay, I lied


acrobat girlA while ago, I announced that I’d be dropping this blog to blog over at eightladieswriting, where I’ve joined seven other refugees — I mean, former classmates — from the romance writing program at McDaniel College. I guess obviously enough, we talk about writing over there. But it turns out, as infrequently as I post here, I don’t want to let go. So…look for me. Occasionally.

Expect more of the same!


Hanna gave me a great idea today–do a monthly notice/review of a book (maybe a free book, if I can find enough that I like enough, otherwise maybe paid but obscure, or paid and best seller, we’ll see how it goes). And–I just did that yesterday! So consider that post the first of a series. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open. I’m partial to genre fiction and literary fiction where the characters do things. I read other stuff, too.

This book here is available on Amazon for $9.72 at the current time. It has stellar reviews. I don’t happen to be reading it; I just like the cover and the concept. So that’s the story there.