The effect of blogging on the Cicada rhythms

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...
Image via Wikipedia

WordPress directs us today to On Techies’ “Blog More. It’s Good for Your Health.

For scientific details, On Techies directs us to Scientific American’s Blogging–It’s Good for You: The therapeutic value of blogging becomes a focus of study.

The latter article cites research done by neurologist Alice W. Flaherty, author of The Midnight Disease, which was the subject of yesterday’s Tuesday Teaser. Despite the quotations I used–I displayed them because I liked them, not because they reflected content–the book reports serious scientific research. And it’s fascinating.

Flaherty, who studies hypergraphia and writer’s block, notes “‘that drives are involved [in blogging] because a lot of people do it compulsively,’… Also, blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running and looking at art.”

The article also cites the work of University of Texas professor James Pennebaker, who for nearly twenty years has been studying the link between writing about personal emotional trauma and a strengthened immune system as well as an increased sense of well-being.

Now. Do I have to be told all this about writing? No. I’ve known about Dr. Pennebaker for years. I’ve known about Dr. Flaherty for years (fewer than about Dr. Pennebaker, but still years). I didn’t know about the finer points of the articles, but I believe what they say.

I question the part about blogging improving memory and sleep, because I tend to do my blogging between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., and all that adds to is sleep deprivation. Nothing good comes of sleep deprivation, sleep debt, disordered sleep patterns, or messed up Cicada rhythms (to use my husband’s phraseology). I am a living example, and if you don’t believe me, you can look it up.

In addition, while I was blogging every day, I still spent a disgusting amount of time trying to remember why I’d opened the refrigerator.

But overall, I agree that blogging helps the blogger. When I posted daily, I had more energy–at least mentally–and I got more writing done. I had to produce a post a day, so I had to think. Even if I ended up  inviting Emily Dickinson to guest, I had to find the appropriate poem and a photograph to go with it.

Having to think is not a bad thing.

Furthermore, I was more fluent. Pressure of a deadline required me to come up with a topic and the words to follow. Practice increased my ability to come up with more words, and faster.

What happens when I slack off? More slacking off.

What can I write about? I can’t think of anything to write about. If I don’t have to write today, I’ll leave it until tomorrow. Or the day after.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I sound as if I’m back in junior high.

I even start to slack off in my reading and commenting on other blogs.

Stopping the daily post seemed, at the time, the right move.

But I had concerns.

Sure enough, eschewing has led to more eschewing.

I received an e-mail today from NaBloPoMo reminding me to add my blog to its April blogroll if I intend to post every day.

So I suppose it’s time to resurrect the obsession/compulsion/addiction/hypergraphia and see what happens: Improved sleep or no sleep, plus T-cells or minus T-cells, arhythmical Cicadas and all.

It’s already 1.75 hours after my bedtime.

But I’m wide awake.

All this dopamine is doing wonders for my mental state. Five more minutes and I’ll progress from cheerful to ecstatic and I might make it to the border of downright manic.

Now. What in the world will I write about?

Tuesday Teaser 6

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author too, so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

My teasers:

Cover of "The Midnight Disease: The Drive...
Cover via Amazon

“As Eyler Coates puts it, ‘We’ve always heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually produce a masterpiece. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.'”


“It turns out that problems such as procrastination are usually better treated by putting the writer in the appropriate limbic or motivational state than by cognitive strategies such as making To Do lists. Most procrastinators are very aware of exactly what they are not doing.” ~ Alice W. Flaherty, The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain

Fish Tales

The poor, half-eaten fish to the left graces the cover of Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology.

Guppies is a chapter of Sisters in Crime, an organization dedicated to the promotion of mysteries written by women.

Guppies is short for The Great Unpublished.

The title is misleading: a number of Guppies are very published, but they remain in the chapter to school the rest of us.

Fish Tales, a collection of twenty-two stories written by Guppies, was recently released as an ebook. A hard copy will soon be available.

I don’t have a story in the anthology, but one of my critique partners, Kaye George, does. It’s titled, “The Truck Contest.”

Kaye’s first book, Choke, will be published by Mainly Murder Press this May. Its protagonist, Imogene Duckworthy of Saltlick, Texas, aspires to be a private investigator.

Immy has written two articles for Hotshots!, the Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter newsletter. The article in the November 2010 issue explains how to qualify as a private investigator. In the February issue, Immy discusses advice she will give if her three-year-old daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, ever stops playing with Barbie dolls and asks how to be a PI. The November article is informative, but if you really want to know how Immy approaches her cases (she isn’t a private eye yet, but she still manages to have cases), read the one in the February issue. It’s Immy in a nutshell.

But back to Fish Tales. The ebook is available from several major vendors. I’m getting ready to purchase one to read on my computer. I’d like to wait for the print version, but I’m in a bit of a rush. There’s a slim possibility that “The Truck Contest” might be about Immy. I’m becoming addicted to her. She’s a hoot.

Tuesday Teaser 5 (on Thursday)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author too, so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

My teasers:

She said, “You play your cards quite close, don’t you, Thomas.”

He said, “I have no cards at all.”

Elizabeth George, This Body of Death

Technical Difficulties

Surge and noise protector. Most hV6.
Image via Wikipedia

WordPress reports technical difficulties and has given postaday2011 bloggers a pass for today.

Since I fell off that wagon several weeks ago, I wouldn’t feel right accepting it.

I’ve had technical difficulties, too.

The laptop periodically slips off the network–who knows why–and I have to reconnect it. Usually I can get by with turning off the wireless switch, finding a job that doesn’t require web access, and turning the switch back on.

Sometimes I have to reboot the router.

Today neither of those remedies worked, no matter how many times I tried them. Rebooting everything else didn’t work either. Before I was through, I had no Internet access at all.

Somewhere between router reboots 15 and 19, I realized the little On/Off switch on the surge protector the router was plugged into displayed the same color in the On position as in the Off.

I was ever so glad I hadn’t summoned tech support. I’ve heard they can be rather sharp with customers whose  malfunctions result from inadequate juice.

That’s where glad ended, however.

Loss of connectivity transported me mentally to the post-network days at the library. Every time we went offline, staff members deflated. We sat, arms at our sides, hands in our laps, eyes empty and glazed, and said, “The Internet is dooooowwwwwwwwwwwn. We can’t doooooooooooo anything without the Internet.”

Before we got back online, someone generally remembered that processing and shelving books, running overdue notices, reading reviews, and a host of other activities didn’t require web access, and we hauled ourselves up and got busy.

But the trauma lingers. Eight years later, flashbacks persist.

This afternoon, after diagnosing the problem, I made my way to Office Depot, purchased a new surge protector, brought it home, unplugged and replugged, and prepared to live happily ever after.

But I didn’t.

Half the problem had gone away, but the other half–my half–was still there. My network wasn’t even broadcasting.

So when David arrived home from work–after he had lugged the new box of paper from my car to the house–I apprised him of the situation. He reinstalled the router. I reconnected.

End of story.

Except for these addenda:

1. I haven’t always been a technology wimp. I once had charge of a covey of computers, and while my knowledge was horrendously incomplete, I fixed things now and then. I knew how to back up a server and run utilities and jiggle a lot of things to make them go. I even had a week of Microsoft training. It went in one ear and out the other, but I had it. Now, however, my best effort at tech work is hollering, Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-vid. Something must be done about that.

2. I feel no animosity toward WordPress. Things happen. They give me this lovely platform to exercise my freedom of speech and expect nothing in return. And when I have a problem, they fix it and send me a polite e-note. I wish them well and pray they have everything securely backed up.


Image of surge protector by Paranoid at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.

The Clearest Language Possible

“Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!” ~ Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Image by twm1340 via Flickr

“We live in a Newtonian world of Einsteinian physics ruled by Frankenstein logic.” ~ David Russell

What is the right thing to do?

Continue to write light commentary on librarians, parodies of legal codes, angst-ridden essays on being a writer who too often chooses not to write?

War in Afghanistan, revolution suppressed in Libya, fighting in Yemen. Today there was a report of hundreds wounded in Sana’a. I have an Internet friend in Sana’a.

I cried through the national news yesterday: Japan devastated by earthquake and tsunami, death and destruction, now a nuclear power plant ready to blow. When they showed the dog that brought rescuers back to its wounded friend, I had to escape to the kitchen to cook dinner.

As a child, I worried about Sputnik and Kruschev banging his shoe on the table, and Cuban missiles hitting San Antonio, sixty miles from my home. We always seemed to be on the brink, but the things that went over the edge did so out of my line of sight. The world has since gotten smaller and considerably more volatile.

My view is that God and Nature are telling us in the clearest language possible to stop wasting our resources on war and to start taking care of each other.

Frankenstein, after all, isn’t the monster. He’s the man who created something he didn’t understand, treated it shamelessly, and then ran away to escape the consequences.

But back to the question: What is the right thing to do?

Writing light seems heartless. But steeping a blog in depression doesn’t help one victim. Sharing sorrow is part of healing. Depression is a contagious disease.

So. What is the right thing to do? Send what practical aid I can. Pray. Be mindful. Light all the figurative candles imaginable.

Light, too, can be contagious.


Image of Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster, Marilyn Harris as Little Maria, 1931 by twm1340 via Flickr. CC BY SA-2.0.

Tuesday Teaser 4

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author too, so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

My teasers:

“When I was growing up, girls in the South were–and are still today, I think–oftentimes raised to be fitting into some sort of a ladylike mold where they are not supposed to express feelings and they are not supposed to stand up for things. I just think of girls in the South being squashed as they’re being raised.”

~ Lee Smith, in Mary McDonough Murphy’s Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of “To Kill a Mockingbird”




Technically, it’s Wednesday, but so what.


HM Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kin...
Image via Wikipedia

For Christmas, I received a solar-powered action figure of the Queen.

She wears a blue dress and white gloves and carries a purse.When her little solar panel is exposed to light, she waves.

I put her on the mantlepiece beside  my china teapot from Stoke-on-Trent and my red ceramic London phone booth.

Since visiting England and Scotland in 2002, we’ve become confirmed Anglophiles. (And, I suppose, Scotophiles as well.) Or David has. I think I was born that way.

I also have great respect for a woman who went through the Blitz when she could have been holed up in Oklahoma, and who can, or at least could before computers invaded, operate on automobiles.

My Queen reminds me of the Nancy Pearl action figure. Ms. Pearl is the librarian, author, and literary critic whose Book Lust was a best-seller a few years ago. The main difference is that, instead of waving, the Nancy Pearl figure raises her index finger to her lips and says, “Shhh.”

It’s nice when you can have fun with stereotypes.

Not that librarians don’t say, “Shhh.” They do. Just the other day, one of them said that to a certain party I know. I said the same thing to that party a week later before the same librarian could say it again.

I like to stay in practice.

But librarians have gotten a bad rap in this country.

Buns. Old-lady shoes. Granny glasses before John Lennon made them the thing to wear.

And every year at Christmastime, here comes It’s a Wonderful Life, reminding us that if George Bailey had not been born, Mary Bailey wouldn’t have been a Bailey at all. She would have been Miss SomebodyorOther, a–gasp–librarian. With a bun.

I will not stop to mention that the best continuing education classes I’ve attended over the years were taught by librarians. That Dr. Kenneth Ferstl’s workshop on updates to the Dewey Schedules kept a roomful of women laughing for six solid hours. That when Margaret Irby Nichols taught reference workshops, it sounded like a roomful of women listening to Dr. Ferstl. That…Well, I’ll leave the rest for another post.

I will say something about that most famous of librarians–Marian Paroo of River City, Iowa.

Marian the Librarian is generally described as a stuffy, straight-laced, Puritanical, rigid, inflexible, smug, goody-goody, Victorian, prim, prudish, prissy piano-playing prig.

She does all she can to discredit Professor Harold Hill without knowing a thing about him (except that he tried to follow her home before they were properly introduced, or introduced at all).

Marian gets all the bad press.

I see Marian in a very different light. To wit:

Marian Paroo does, indeed, try to discredit Professor Hill. She (rightly) suspects that he is a flim-flam man, out to con the residents of River City into buying band instruments and uniforms but with no intention of creating the boys’ band he promises.

She is, of course, the best person to find information on the professor. She knows how to research Gary, Indiana, in the Indiana State Educational Journal. And she finds evidence that the professor is a fraud.

When she sees how happy her brother Winthrop is with his cornet, however, she rips the page from the book and lets Professor Hill go on with his con. She sees that under the spell of his Think System, River City comes alive. At the sound of the pitch pipe, even the feuding school board members fall into harmony.

Marian watches and encourages, and when the inevitable comes to pass, she engages an anvil salesman in a tango on the sidewalk in front of her house, to give Professor Hill time to flee.

And she’s a darned good dancer.

Finally, when a shackled professor–so charmed by Marian that he refuses to board the train–appears before the enraged populace, Marian hands him a baton and tells him to direct the band.

And the townsfolk are amazed at what humming the “Minuet in G” all summer can do to teach a boy to play a brass horn.

Professor Hill is amazed as well.

Everyone is amazed. Except for piano teacher Marian Paroo.

And at the end of the show, they march down the street, trombones, cornets, reeds, horns, everybody, happily ever after.

And why?

Because a librarian had the good sense to know a good thing when she saw it, to tell herself, “Shhh,” and to take her own advice.

That is my statement on the subject of librarians.

To anyone who thinks differently, I can only say: Shhh.


The Nancy Pearl action figure appears at


Image of Queen Elizabeth II by Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls[see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

Newt, Dr. Johnson, Reasons, Excuses, and…

Newt Gingrich
Image via Wikipedia

I’m home from an overnight trip to Dallas with a friend who was kind enough to let me go along–a mini-vacation that leaves me physically tired…but mentally refreshed…but physically tired.

And incapable of coherent thought.

So I’ll toss out just a brief observation.

Yesterday a Facebook friend posted that former U. S. Representative Newt Gingrich said his passion for his country contributed to his marital infidelity.

My first reaction was, This must be fiction. The friend is, after all, a writer.

But I googled Mr. Gingrich and discovered via the Chicago Tribune that my friend was engaging in plain old fact.

I recalled Samuel Johnson’s declaration: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Portrait of Samuel Johnson commissioned for He...
Image via Wikipedia

The exact meaning of that statement had always eluded me, but I believe I now understand it. Perfectly.

Since we’re dealing in pithy statements, I’ll volunteer another: A minister friend defines excuse as “the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.”

Not quite so elegant as Dr. Johnson’s, but in this instance, it’ll do quite nicely.

Mr. Gingrich is now married to the person who enabled his infidelity.

And I want to know: What’s her excuse?

Image of Newt Gingrich by Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Image [portrait] of Samuel Johnson by Sir Joshua Reynolds [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Dear March

A close up of a daffodil.
Image via Wikipedia

Dear March — Come in —
How glad I am —
I hoped for you before —

Put down your Hat —
You must have walked —
How out of Breath you are —
Dear March, Come right upstairs with me —
I have so much to tell —

I got your Letter, and the Birds —
The Maples never knew that you were coming — till I called
I declare — how Red their Faces grew —
But March, forgive me — and
All those Hills you left for me to Hue —
There was no Purple suitable —
You took it all with you —

Who knocks? That April.
Lock the Door —
I will not be pursued —
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied —
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That Blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame —

~ Emily Dickinson


Image of daffodil by Nanda93 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Teaser Tuesday 3

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author too, so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

My teasers:

“I barely had time to flinch before I saw Grace’s body tossed in the air. She flew several feet, then landed in a heap as the unicorn charged again, horn lowered, teeth bared, at the crumpled figure on the ground.”

~ Diana Peterfreund, Rampant




Eschewing Eschewing

Human tongue, taste buds for sweet are marked
Image via Wikipedia

The trouble with eschewing is that there’s no way to know when to stop.

I posted on Tuesday. On Wednesday  I eschewed.

I continued eschewing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Now it’s Sunday, a half-hour before I should retire. Thirty minutes isn’t enough time to finish this. I may eschew by necessity.

And then what?

Tomorrow an’ tomorrow an’ tomorrow.
How slow dey movink! Almost cripps!
Soch a pity de pace!

Forgive me. I’ve been wanting to quote Hyman Kaplan for years.

But you get my drift. What if eschewing does not end?

More than once this week, I pulled up the New Post screen and began to write.

But you know how that works.

Three- or four hundred words in, you stop and skim over what you’ve done. You realize it stinks.

You forget that everything you write starts out the same way–stinky–and that if you persevere, cut it by about half, rewrite what’s left, you can get the reeking to cease, mostly.

At least that’s the way it works for me.

But it works that way, obviously, only when I’m in practice.

Go without writing for several days, and what happens? The connection between the brain and the hand weakens. The personal lexicon diffuses. Words spring loose, leak in to the spinal fluid, slog through the lymphatic system, and end up stuck somewhere near the tip of the tongue.

And what appears on the screen is just “‘a tale told by idjots, dat’s all, full of fonny sonds an’ phooey!'”

At least that’s the way it works for me.

Sad, isn’t it?

More than once this week, I scrapped what I’d written. That cannot continue.

If I’m going to blog, I must set aside public opinion and the slings and arrows of outrageous critics, and, as my husband would say, put my nose to the brimstone, and blog.

I’ll stop now before this gets any worse.


Quotations from Julius Scissor (or, possibly, from Macbeth) are taken from “Mr. Kaplan and Shakespeare,” in The Education of Hyman Kaplan, by Leo Rosten.


Image of the tongue: This faithful reproduction of a lithograph plate from Gray’s Anatomy, a two-dimensional work of art, is not copyrightable in the U.S. as per Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.; the same is also true in many other countries, including Germany. Unless stated otherwise, it is from the 20th U.S. edition of Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body, originally published in 1918 and therefore lapsed into the public domain.


I have been fiddling with the preceding 420 words for the past 2.5 hours. That includes the 30 minutes I gave myself to write it. Lesson: Nocturnal individuals should leave blogging to the daytimers.

Teaser Tuesday 2

I didn’t post yesterday.

My resolutions for 2011, as I stated in an earlier post, are

  • to blog every day; and
  • to eschew perfectionism.

Yesterday I was busy eschewing.


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author too, so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

My teasers:

“A woman with morals,” Carl said. “I like that.”

~ Karen MacInerney, Berried to the Hilt: A Gray Whale Inn Mystery