Archive for December, 2011

Wednesday we gathered for our annual night of happy caroling at Main Street Cafe. As always, Darin & Daphne made the whole night a wonderful experience.

This year we were joined by local rock musician, VanceB, home from his road gigs. His vocals & guitar work gave us rhythm to follow, which improved our singing dramatically. Here are a few photos of the happy carolers:

              Merry Christmas Everyone!

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Winner: Pluto

Tonight’s game was all about Christmas with some pretty esoteric questions. Pluto showed that shuffling cards to get the right answer can sometimes be the best strategy. He was closely followed by Droppin’ and Rosebud. We had no real camera tonight so the magnificent sweater that BillyR wore to liven up things does not show up in all it’s glory. Take it from me – that sweater was something else, even if it didn’t have the flashing lights.

Good Question: In “A Charley Brown Christmas” what does Lucy want for Christmas?

Answer: Real Estate

A Charlie Brown Christmas is the first of many animated television specials based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schulz. It originally aired on CBS on December 9, 1965 (46 years ago!). In the program, Charlie Brown questions the meaning of Christmas. On their way to join up with the rest of the Peanuts gang all skating on a frozen pond, Charlie Brown confides in Linus that even though the holidays are approaching he is starting to feel depressed despite all the presents and cards and tree decorating. His depression and aggravation only get exacerbated by the goings-on in the neighborhood.

Ultimately Charlie Brown visits Lucy in her psychiatric booth. On her advice, he gets involved in directing a Christmas Nativity play. She also sympathizes with Charlie Brown about holiday depression, always getting “a lot of stupid toys” instead of what she really wants; real estate. (this was way before the real estate bubble crashed in 2007, maybe Lucy was a leading indicator).

Much better viewed than described:

On the way to the theater, Charlie Brown is drawn to Snoopy, who is frantically and gleefully busy decorating his doghouse. Demanding an explanation, Snoopy hands Charlie Brown a flyer about a neighborhood Christmas lights and display contest. Charlie Brown walks away in frustration at his own dog having being bitten by the Christmas commercialization bug.

He then gets accosted by Sally, who wants Charlie Brown to dictate a letter to Santa. Sally ultimately asks Santa to “just send money,” particularly tens and twenties, causing Charlie Brown to run away in exasperation of even his sister’s secularization.

Fortunately, Charley finally gets the Christmas spirit, and it all ends well with the gang singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” as the end credits roll and the snow begins to fall.

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Winner: Droppin’ Dave

Following close behind Dave were Sheena and Mady. Reports are that Droppin’ was glad that 2 time defending champ Rosebud was absent tonight. Everyone was glad that smilin’ Jack WAS  there. Jack had been fortunate to win the MNF pool #2 this week (my pool!). After being repeatedly serenaded by one and all that he was a jolly good fellow, he stepped up and bought the bar a drink. So the losers were 2 time winners tonight and I wasn’t even there!

Looking at the questions, it was not an easy night. I mean who knows that a syzygy is the nearly straight line configuration of 3 celestial bodies or where Bert & Ernie of sesame street fame got their names.

Good Question: What is the name of the fifth and final stage of the sleep cycle, in which dreaming occurs?

Answer: Rapid Eye Movement

The invention of the electroencephalograph allowed scientists to study sleep in ways that were not previously possible. Studies of human sleep have demonstrated that sleep progresses through a series of stages in which different brain wave patterns are displayed.

The Beginnings of Sleep

During the earliest phases of sleep, you are still relatively awake and alert. The brain produces what are known as beta waves, which are small and fast. As the brain begins to relax and slow down, slower waves known as alpha waves are produced. During this time when you are not quite asleep, a very common event is known as a myoclonic jerk. If you’ve ever startled suddenly for seemingly no reason at all, then you have experienced this odd phenomenon.

Stage 1 is the beginning of the sleep cycle, and is a relatively light stage of sleep. Stage 1 can be considered a transition period between wakefulness and sleep. In Stage 1, the brain produces high amplitude theta waves, which are very slow brain waves. This period of sleep lasts only a brief time (around 5-10 minutes). If you awaken someone during this stage, they might report that they weren’t really asleep.

Stage 2 is the second stage of sleep and lasts for approximately 20 minutes. The brain begins to produce bursts of rapid, rhythmic brain wave activity known as sleep spindles. Body temperature starts to decrease and heart rate begins to slo

During stage 3 sleep, deep, slow brain waves known as delta waves begin to emerge. Stage 3 is a transitional period between light sleep and a very deep sleep.

Stage 4 is a deep sleep that lasts for approximately 30 minutes. Bed-wetting and sleepwalking are most likely to occur at the end of stage 4 sleep.

Stage 5. Most dreaming occurs during the fifth stage of sleep, known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is characterized by eye movement, increased respiration rate and increased brain activity. REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because while the brain and other body systems become more active, muscles become more relaxed. Dreaming occurs because of increased brain activity, but voluntary muscles become paralyzed.

Before we go further, let’s have  a little of Aerosmith’s classic ” Dream On”:

The Sequence of Sleep Stages

It is important to realize, however, that sleep does not progress through these stages in sequence. Sleep begins in stage 1 and progresses into stages 2, 3 and 4. After stage 4 sleep, stage 3 and then stage 2 sleep are repeated before entering REM sleep. Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. Sleep cycles through these stages approximately four or five times throughout the night.

On average, we enter the REM stage approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. The first cycle of REM sleep might last only a short amount of time, but each cycle becomes longer. REM sleep can last up to an hour as sleep progresses.

Dreams can be fascinating, exciting, terrifying or just plain weird.

Everybody Dreams

Men do it. Women do it. Even babies do it. We all dream, even those of us who claim not to. In fact, researchers have found that people usually have several dreams each night, each one lasting for between 5 to 20 minutes. During a typical lifetime, people spend an average of six years dreaming!

But You Forget Most of Your Dreams

According to estimates by dream researcher J. Allan Hobson, as much as 95 percent of all dreams are quickly forgotten shortly after waking. Why are our dreams so difficult to remember? According to one theory, the changes in the brain that occur during sleep do not support the information processing and storage needed for memory formation to take place. Brain scans of sleeping individuals have shown that the frontal lobes, the area that plays a key role in memory formation, are inactive during REM sleep, the stage in which dreaming occurs.

Men and Women Dream Differently

Researchers have found a number of differences between men and women when it comes to the content of their dreams. In one study, men reported more instances of dreaming about aggression than women did. According to dream researcher William Domhoff, women tend to have slightly longer dreams that feature more characters. When it comes to the characters that typically appear in dreams, men dream about other men twice as often as they do about women, while women tend to dream about both sexes equally.

You Can Control Your Dreams

A lucid dream is one in which you are aware that you are dreaming even though you are still asleep. During this type of dream, you can often “direct” or control the content of the dream. Approximately half of all people can remember experiencing at least one instance of lucid dreaming, and some individuals are able to have lucid dreams quite frequently.

Negative Emotions Are More Common in Dreams

Over a period of more than forty years, researcher Calvin S. Hall collected more than 50,000 dream accounts from college students. These reports were made available to the public during the 1990s by Hall’s student William Domhoff. The dream accounts revealed that many emotions are experienced during dreams including joy, happiness and fear. The most common emotion experienced in dreams was anxiety, and negative emotions in general were much more common than positive ones

You Are Paralyzed During Your Dreams

REM sleep, the stage of sleep during which dreaming occurs, is characterized by paralysis of the voluntary muscles. Why? The phenomenon is known as REM atonia and prevents you from acting out your dreams while you’re asleep. Basically, because motor neurons are not stimulated, your body does not move.

In some cases, this paralysis can even carry over into the waking state for as long as ten minutes, a condition known as sleep paralysis. Have you ever woken up from a terrifying dream only to find yourself unable to move? While the experience can be frightening, experts advise that it is perfectly normal and should last only a few minutes before normal muscle control returns.

Many Dreams Are Universal

While dreams are often heavily influenced by our personal experiences, researchers have found that certain themes are very common across different cultures. For example, people from all over the world frequently dream about being chased, being attacked or falling. Other common dream experiences include school events, feeling frozen and unable to move, arriving late, flying and being naked in public.

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