Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Mason’


Computers and Health: How Staring at a Computer Can Literally Cause Your Eyelids to Twitch


Over the past few months, I’ve taken on a number of new responsibilities at work including a promotion to the position of Social Media Director — meaning that all things social media go through my desk first.  It’s been an exceeding rewarding and enjoyable experience, but one that has come with its own stresses and challenges, many of which are new to me.

Why do I bring this up now?  Two words: eyelid twitches.

For the past week or two now, the corner of my right eyelid has been twitching uncontrollably off and on throughout the day.  No idea why.  I just assumed that it would go away as some random occurrence, but still it continues.  Then today I mention it in passing to a co-worker who says: “Oh, I get that, too.  It’s stress.”

A-ha! That makes some sense.  I have been more on edge lately, more tired lately, having more difficulty getting up in the mornings.  She could be onto something here.  Naturally, I Google “eyelid twitching” to see what the ole Internets have to say about it.

Here’s what All About Vision had to say:

Stress: While we’re all under stress at times, our bodies react in different ways. Eye twitching can be one sign of stress, especially when it is related to vision problems such as eye strain (see below). Reducing the cause of the stress can help make the twitching stop.

Wait a minute: vision problems? I suppose it would make sense that an issue with one’s eye could indicate vision problems.  But not me.  I have 20/20 vision in one eye and 20/15 (that’s better than perfect) in the other (not sure which one is which, maybe my right eye is merely perfect, hence the twitching).  Although, the last time I had a vision exam I think I was still counting the number of hair follicles emerging from my face.

Okay, what else:

Tiredness: A lack of sleep, whether because of stress or some other reason, can trigger eyelid spasms. Catching up on your sleep can help.

It’s 1:33pm as I type this very sentence on a Monday and I could most likely doze off for a 45 minute nap right now without much trouble.  Tiredness? Check.

What else?

Eyestrain: Vision-related stress can occur if, for instance, you need glasses or a change of glasses. Your eyes may be working too hard, triggering eyelid twitching. Computer eye strain from computer use is also a very common cause of vision-related stress.

Computer eye strain, you say?  Well, I haven’t done an actual count, but if I had to guess, I’d say I spend 12 of my 16 average waking hours in front of a computer — 13 hours if you count how often I’m looking at my iPhone.  Does that count as computer eye strain?  Laugh at me, shake your head and scoff all you want: I’m just being honest; doing social media isn’t exactly something you can do with a hammer and nails.  I’ve also noticed that when I go outside and look out into the distance, I have trouble focusing my eyes.

Anything else?

If your eyelid twitching is persistent and very annoying (like the problem experienced by my patient’s wife), you should have an eye exam, because you may need vision correction. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, you also should consider talking to your eye doctor about special computer eyeglasses.

Special. Computer. Eyeglasses.

Sounds wonderful.  I hope they look more like goggles than actual specs; that’d be very appropriate.

Other possible causes are allergies, dry eyes, and nutritional imbalances. I haven’t switched up my eating habits in a while and while I’ve never been tested for specific allergies, I figure I’d have experienced this eyelid phenomenon before were that the cause.

Conclusion: my computer addiction is causing my eyelid to twitch.  Since I have a negative chance of declining my computer usage, looks like this is just something I’ll have to get used to.  Maybe it’s evolution at work.  Perhaps this is making me most effective at absorbing content through this glossy, bright screen than other humans.

Or, I’m just going to be blind soon.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.


Pointless TV Survey Offers Only More Polarization in Current Political Climate


Much has been said already about the recently released Experian Simmons survey that shows which TV shows are most popular according to the political affiliation of their audiences.

If you know me, you know I don’t put much stock in surveys or polls.  Blogs and articles aplenty have done their own parsing of the data to come to their own conclusions about the average psyches of Democrats versus Republicans.  I’m not going to continue it here — look at the chart and form your own opinions on what it all says.

To read into this, I think, is a colossal waste of time.  Almost more of a waste than actually bothering to survey people with these questions to begin with.

In fact, I find it extremely unhelpful in taming the absurd polarization in our current political climate.  Instead of focusing on our differences – yet again! – why not illuminate that middle section of the Venn diagram where Republicans and Democrats agree?

I know, I know: a tall order these days, but it’s not.  It just seems that way when all we do is point out where we appear to be vastly different species. And it will only continue if we indulge in actually giving topical, shallow, pointless crap like this honest discussion as if it means anything worthwhile.

Then again, it’s a survey about people’s television-watching habits — not exactly a medium which promotes deep thinking. Sigh.  I guess I’ll go back to watching Countdown with Mad Dexter Taking on 90210’s Private Brothers’ 30 Good Damages to Community Law – Episode 13: Friday Night Parks Breaking… Bad.


So, Government Can Create Jobs?

Official seal of the United States Department ...
Image via Wikipedia

According to Farheed Zakaria, the government can create jobs.

Not by directly setting up businesses or hiring people to work for the government, necessarily; rather, through investment in new technology.

CNN: Should they be government investments?

Zakaria: That’s what’s produced the semiconductor industry, it was government investment. That’s what created the internet. Al Gore may not have created the internet, but DARPA certainly did. That’s the Defense Department venture capital group. And GPS, the technology that’s now fueling the next internet revolution, the mobile revolution, that was also a U.S. Defense Department project. Those are now producing hundreds of billions of dollars for the private sector, all started by government funding.

Not all governmental spending is bad.  To make a blanket statement like that prevents you from adjusting to unique scenarios.  Life, and the global economy, don’t always adhere to one particular ideology.

And people inherently get this.  For all those screaming that they want government to stop spending, a strong percentage want them to do just that:

On spending priorities, 40 percent favored deficit-reduction, 35 percent “spending to create jobs,” and 19 percent cutting taxes.

Will be interesting to see what happens now with the divided Congress.  I, for one, am very curious.  I just hope that the American electorate won’t tolerate pure oppositionism as the sole GOP political theory for the next two years.  Americans deserve better than that.

I think the major issue is that people are out of work.  Decrease the unemployment rate, and the worries about the national spending will go down.  Not that we can ignore a $12+ billion dollar deficit; quite the opposite.  But, something needs to be done in the short term to get our consumer-based economy moving again.  Plus, we can reform the entitlements while at the same time investing in job growth.  We could, in theory, cut spending and also spend at the same time.

Because, like I said: not all spending is bad.

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Vote, Vote, Vote: Do Your Civic Duty in the General Election Tomorrow


I just got done researching the nine different measures on the ballot in tomorrow’s general election — it takes some work to do your civic duty right.

For those of you fellow Californians, check out this online resource for learning about each of the propositions, both sides of the story, so that you can form your own opinion on whether or not to vote yes or no.  It puts the onus on you, the voter, to read up on what the proposition actually stays and decide for yourself.

It also tells you which groups and/or companies are supporting and opposing the measure and how much they spent on the campaign, as well as which side the different newspapers took — which can be helpful if you’re on the fence or just completely unsure.

From the same link, you can check out information on the other races, the main one being for governor.

Whichever way you vote on any of the measures or races, just voting is the important factor. Especially for us blowhards on the Internet who love to espouse our opinions to the masses via blogs which sure can be productive in creating dialogue, it isn’t exactly the most effective way to change things.  Voting is.

There’s a recent thread on The Daily Dish which goes back and forth between a liberal notion that our freedom to vote is more crucial than property rights while a conservative notion values the opposite.  Both are strong arguments and I’d prefer to not have to choose either — but, being able to own my own property yet not be able to vote could allow the government to tax my property so high that it would render it nearly worthless.

Long story short: go vote.  Tomorrow.  Election day.  Make your voice heard.

Image courtesy of wallyg’s Flickr Photostream.


Romance is Dead: Price of Love Set at Two-Months Salary


I’ve been to a number of weddings.  All have been wonderful celebrations of love and friendship — good times had by all, absolutely.

That said, and no disrespect to any one, but I’ve never been quite sure that it was for me.  Not the commitment part — the whole ceremony part.  The whole blind tradition of it.

It all starts with the engagement.  You get on one knee.  Why? Because you just do! And you pull out a little box and pull it open to reveal a – gasp! – diamond ring.  Why? Because you just do! (Forget about the Africans and the DeBeers cartel: we want something shiny because that means we’re in love!) And then you have a wedding and you have a Best Man and Groomsmen and she has a Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids — why?

You get the idea.

Now, I know: this is the Judeo-Christian ideal and it’s what I’ve grown up as being the norm.  I’m not even talking about the religious aspect since it’s become way more universal than that; it’s just a cultural standard.  You see this exact script in countless romantic comedies, many times without a hint of religion thrown in.  By the time we’re five years old, I’m sure we already know the formula:


To make sure you all don’t hate me: If all of those previous steps toward marriage made you ridiculously, honestly happy, I’m stoked for you, zero snark in my voice fingers.  Honest.  No judgment at all. They just never struck me as being the symbols of love and happiness or the ways to get to the ultimate showing of commitment.  And I hate the society pressure that comes with what’s expected of you as the way to show that you truly love someone.

The kind of pressure that isn’t always overt.  It’s just always right in front of us through those fairy tale rom-coms, sure, but also just in our daily life.  Like, going to for instance.

Chris Chase:

A quarter-million dollars is a whole lot of money to spend on a ring, but considering how much money [Los Angeles Lakers star Sasha] Vujacic makes a year, he may have gotten off easy. As my mom constantly reminds me, a man is supposed to spend two months salary on a ring.

Thanks for the solid advice, Mom!  Wow.  Seriously, how fucking grotesque that this symbol of love – that’s all it’s supposed to be, a symbol – is expected to be directly proportional to the amount of money you have in your wallet rather than love in your heart. Two months worth of your annual salary.  That’s what it boils down to.  I guess since you can’t quantify love scientifically, the next best way is monetarily.

Since Vujacic is scheduled to make $5.5 million this year with the Lakers, that would equate to buying a ring worth $912,000. Of course, that two-month rule probably doesn’t apply to celebrities, or else Bill Gates would have had to have given his wife a diamond the size of the Rock of Gibraltar.

Instead of taking this example to point out the absurdity in his mom’s advice that shows maybe there should be a different way to gauge just how serious a man is about his proposal than the number of carets in the rock, Chase makes a joke about how the rich can’t afford it, which then assumes that the rest of us can and should abide by this bullshit parameter.

I know that love and marriage are simply what you want them to be and what you bring to the table together.  It’s personal.  It’s between you and your soon-to-be spouse.  At least, that’s how it should be.  What pisses me off is that our society still has way too much interest in focusing on the most worthless, soulless, vapid part of it all: money.


The Republican Party Still Has No Interest in Actual Governance


Sure, if you read this blog, you probably have several notions of why I dislike the current Republican Party.

But leave it to GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to so eloquently explain it for me:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Seriously? That’s the single most important thing the country needs right now? That’s the single most important thing on the minds of Americans right now?

What a total joke. People can complain about the policy choices of the Democrats in power, but at least they’re focused on actually fixing things, on making our country better.  You might not agree with the health care law (too big, too socialist?) but it’s goal is to help Americans without insurance obtain health care without risky bankruptcy.

What do the Republicans want to do?  They want to get rid of Obama.

That’s it!  9.6 percent unemployment? Not nearly as important.  The war in Afghanistan? Wasn’t a big deal when we invaded Iraq and still isn’t a big deal now.  Climate change? God has that figured out already for us.  Immigration? A wall or a fence or just kick em out I guess… we’ll worry about it later.

Just know that if you vote Republican in the Senate race next week, the possible-future Senate majority leader has already declared what the number one priority is.  And if you’re one of those few who – despite rational thought and factual evidence to the contrary – think that Obama is a socialist, Muslim who was born in Kenya and wants to usher in Sharia law and instill a New World Order with the Amero as the global currency… well, I suppose you should be stoked to hear that your represenatives in Washington are listening to you after all.

As for the rest of us…

(H/T The Daily Dish)


Politicians Avoiding the Press: If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get out of the Election


Many politicians are shying away from doing interviews with press anymore — sometimes only doing so if they get the questions ahead of time so they can be prepared or only sitting down with people from specific networks that tend to be favorable to candidates of their party.  (I’m looking at you, Sharron Angle.)

There are all kinds of issues with this — especially in Angle’s case of wanting the press to report the news how she wants it reported (the very definition of bias).  But, I’m going to focus on one that just hit me today.

If you can only handle pressure and adversity if its scripted and handed to you before hand so you can be prepared, how in the world are you going to deal with the constantly changing conditions and situations that come with actually winning an office seat?

Life doesn’t come at us in a way that gives us time to always be prepared to face whatever it throws at us.  Especially for politicians, you have to be quick on your feet.  So while I get the dangers associated with avoiding the press — the increasing demonization of the press (it’s true: not all reporters are cynical and biased) and the lack of knowledge about the candidates themselves — it seems like this would be an issue that should worry people on both sides of the political aisle.

Shouldn’t a political candidate be able to handle the heat that gets thrown at them, even if its unsavory and unprofessional, and especially if its critical and policy-related? Even if the press had some sort of ulterior motive by a shadow conspiracy to take down a particular party, wouldn’t it behoove the candidates to take them on and be seen as the sane, rational voice instead of vice versa?


Bank of China Credit Card: America’s Love/Hate Relationship with Borrowing and Spending


Why is it such a huge, vital, cut-all-spending-now situation with regard to our nation’s economic woes?

I get it: being in debt is bad. You end up paying a fortune for something because of all the interest that you then owe to your lender. (Trust me: I have credit cards, I know how it works.)

And there’s a lot of talk about how we’re “running up the credit card” with regard to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the bailouts, and TARP. But it’s not really on a credit card. Right? We don’t have creditors actually knocking down the doors of the Capitol Building.

I’m being snarky here on purpose because people (myself included) talk about the debt as if we know to whom this debt is owed — China, right?  My point is that the way our government spends money it doesn’t have is different from how you or I spend money we don’t have. And the repercussions are different.  I don’t imagine that Hu Jintao is on the phone every month calling up President Obama saying, “Yo, Barry, you didn’t make the minimum payment last month of $233,588,838.35.  Do you know when you’ll be able to pay that?”

Also – we’re in a society that is based on borrowing. The reason our economy is still sluggish is because there isn’t much lending going on to small businesses (some banks being very tight with their lending practices and people not wanting to borrow money to expand/start their businesses at this point in time), therefore not many new hires.  (Well, it’s a reason.)

But, it’s rather bipolar to want the economy to get going through increased spending and borrowing while at the same time blaming spending and borrowing as the reason why we’re in this whole mess to begin with.  So spending and borrowing is both good and bad — but right now, all we hear about how bad it is to spend, how bad it is to keep borrowing.  No wonder the economy is still moving at a snail’s pace!

I have no answers.  I’m merely positing issues that I’m seeing and issues that I’m dealing with in my head.  I would love some clarity on the economics of this because that’s one subject on which I’m not very knowledgeable.


3 Reasons Why the Tea Party Might Not Be a Game-Changing Movement


The Tea Party movement has been sweeping the nation for most of the past 18 months since President Obama took office. 

Much of the lead-up to the November 2nd election is not about if the Republicans will gain seats in Congress, but how many — and if they’ll actually win back both houses.  Much of that is owed to the Tea Partiers, who have won a number of GOP primaries.

Now, I’m not denying that there is a vocal segment of Americans who are fed up with… well, everything right now.  The economy, the unemployment, the spending, the taxes… the health care bill, the bailouts, TARP, Pelosi, Reid, Obama.

But is it nearly as big of a movement as our 24-hour news cycle would have us believe?

Here are a few reasons why I’m not so sure:

  1. The Tea Party haven’t (really) won anything yet. Sure, they’ve beaten out some incumbent Republicans in primaries.  But that’s about it.

  2. The Tea Partiers are more of a threat to the GOP than the Democrats. Tea Party candidates have knocked off some solid, traditional GOPers, most notably Rep. Mike Castle who lost the Delaware primary to Christine O’Donnell, who has a slim shot at defeating Chris Coons (D), while Castle (speculation) may have had a much better shot.  In that case, the Tea Party could end up being a liability to the GOP to re-take the Senate.

  3. No Tea Partiers are running for office as Democrats. It’s pretty clear that the country sways back and forth between Democrats and Republicans in waves.  Republicans dominated the 80s and the 00s while Bill Clinton handled the 90s.  In 2008, Americans voted heavily in favor of the Democrats, giving them majorities in both houses and the presidency.Now, I get that many of the issues on which the Tea Partiers are campaigning aren’t traditional Democratic Party stances: lower taxes and cutting entitlements. 

    But if the movement truly were all-encompassing the country, if it were truly capturing the sentiments of a strong majority of voters, it seems like it would’ve drifted into the Democratic Party even a little bit. It’s not like conservative-leaning Democrats don’t exist — I could see Sen. Ben Nelson running in accordance with some of the same ideas as other Tea Partiers.  There have been a number of Democrats who have voted in line with the Republicans on the major bills of the past nearly-two-years — why didn’t any Tea Party candidates emerge to challenge those seats?  Why are they only Republicans?

While much has been said about whether or not the Tea Party will defeat the Democrats in the general election in less than two weeks, it seems like not enough has been said about what this means for the Republican Party.  The Tea Party has gained a ton of traction due to the anti-incumbent mentality going around (natural when the economy is in the dumps — easy to blame those who are in charge even if they may not be the ones who are to blame); but that’s mainly hurt Republicans so far, not Democrats.

What the Tea Party represents are just Republicans in new clothes.  They’ve taken the anti-establishment, anti-elite tropes and run wild with them, riling up the base en route.  But they’re not new, as in converted from being Democrats.  And I think that’s why this is being misinterpreted.  Unless the Tea Party is convincing the moderates with their ideas to vote Republican this year — which I’m sure they have to some extent — they’re not going to be a game-changer at the polls.

Then again, it’s all speculation right now.  We’ll see in 11 days when the people vote.  I just wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not as revelatory as some think it will be.

Image courtesy of Fibonacci Blue’s Flickr Photostream.


Proud Mary vs. Bad English: Which Version of “Missing You” is Better?


I’ve been saying for a while that this whole “agree to disagree” theme of my opinionated blog doesn’t have to only speak about politics.  In fact, there’s plenty to have opinions about that doesn’t involve the economy, elections, and policy.

So, I’m going to start tackling other polarizing topics.  Starting this week with music.

Yes, music.  Everyone has an opinion on this one.  Just ask someone: Beatles or Stones?  That person will most likely answer nearly instantaneously one or the other… unless you’re like me and you respond with, “Metallica?”

But that’s not what I’m arguing today, nor most likely ever in the future because that’s just a pointless discussion for me as I don’t really care either way on that one.  No, today I’m arguing something much more pertinent in our lives: the better version of the timeless classic: “Missing You.”

In one corner we have John (The Babys, Bad English) Waite who wrote and originally performed the tune as a bitter, heartbroken anthem in the 80s about a jilted lover determined to put on a face of being over his ex despite being a total mess inside.

In the other corner we have Tina (Tina Turner) Turner‘s cover from 1996, which was a literal take on the main lyric “I ain’t missing you at all,” and became more of a female empowerment F-you to the idiot who dumped her (Ike?).

Perhaps this isn’t as big of a deal as I think it is, but I’ve had numerous conversations (yes, seriously) with people who seem to prefer the Tina Turner version.  What!?  First off, most people don’t know who John Waite is or that he did the song originally.  (C’mon, people.)  Second, his version is empirically better — as in most art, it’s better to use not hit things directly on the nose, to let the listener develop his own feelings and interpretation of the song.  In Turner’s version, there’s no gray area — she seriously ain’t missing you at all.  But the way that Waite’s bitter, quick tongue snaps off the lyric, you know that he’s hiding behind a shell of bitterness and is determined to come across strong while inside, he’s a melted, weeping sack of heartache.

And lastly: the 80s just ruled. Sorry, 90s, but when it comes to cheesy love songs, the 80s has you beat.

Look — Tina Turner rocks.  I will forever love “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” because my dad would play her record (yup, vinyl) on Saturday mornings.  Plus, she was in Beyond Thunderdome.  But, sorry, Proud Mary, John Waite’s version is more layered and, therefore, more affecting than yours.

Winner: Waite.

Photo courtesy of rwoan’s Flickr Photostream.