Wednesday, February 1, 2017

From The Adventure Journal of Ollie Bug, Spider of Adventure: Happy February, pals!

Today we have a story for you that can be found on your calendar.  If you don't have a calendar, that's okay, we posted the image here for you to see with the story.  However, if you do want a 2017 Ollie Bug Adventure Wall calendar, you can get one here on special clearance:  Ollie 2017 Adventure Calendar.

It was one of those problems that only gets worse the more you try to fix it.  The Altitudinal Rotator on the Moonwater Observatory Giant Telescope needed replacing because, well, tacos and science don't mix.  Someone, we won't mention who (Ticklebit) was showing off by juggling three tacos and a burrito when he spilled enchilada sauce all over the console and blew the rotator.  Now the telescope is stuck in one position.  This is a big problem because in two weeks, over Valentine's weekend, the Kirkenspock Meteor Shower will be visible over the meadow for the first time in 20 years.  Naturally, Ollie wanted to see and capture this rare and beautiful phenomenon.

Ollie and his team had just two weeks to fix the telescope.  

Artemouse, knowing what happens when they attempt to fix things themselves, suggested ordering a new one from Scopes-N-Such but there was no money in the budget.  That's what regular taco parties do to a budget.    Ollie figured he could easily fix it in the time he had left.  The first attempt involved some old chewing gum and a wooden gear set he got from a cuckoo clock.  That ate up most of the week cleaning gum and splintered wood out of the complicated mechanism.  

Undefeated, Ollie dug out the manual and took the mechanism apart.  That project came to an abrupt halt when, upon removing the access panel, a number of springs and screws escaped with the force of a herd of charging elephants.  

That left only one week to repair the telescope or he'd miss the Kirkenspock shower.  No pictures and no new exhibits for the observatory.  

Just then,  Bearly There Bear arrived with news that the one hundred lip balms that he was told to order had arrived.  Ollie didn't remember ordering lip balm when it struck him that he trusted Bearly There Bear's barely there brain.  Ollie wanted one hundred bath bombs, not one hundred lip balms for the upcoming Annual Moonwater Giant Fizzy Bubble Bath Party.  Now he had another dilemma, no bath bombs, too many lip balms and a telescope that didn't work.  

Ticklebit suggested a lip balm party but who ever heard of a lip balm party?  

Spoon and Artemouse were already planning a Valentine's Day Observatory Buffet Dinner and Dance when Clownley Bear suggested a Smooch Booth outside where visitors could buy a lip balm, hot chocolate and a smooch from one of the members of the observatory.  Who would be the volunteer?  Everyone looked around at each other....  

And that's how it came to be that Ollie sat in the Smooch Booth, sold lots of lip balm, lots of hot chocolate and lots of smooches.  That's also how Moonwater Observatory got its brand new Altitudinal Rotator in time to capture the beauty of the of the Kirknspock Meteor Shower.  

If only Ollie remembered to keep one of those lip balms for himself....

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23d is National Reading Day

Borrowed from the Adventure Journal of Ollie Bug, Spider of Adventure...
Calamity Approacheth...

Ahoy there, pals! Today is National Reading Day. Here's a little info for you:

National Reading Day is an annual event which celebrates and encourages reading by younger children. It is celebrated in thousands of schools all around the United States. This literacy event is designed to help Pre-K through Third Grade students develop the literacy foundation they need to become lifelong learners. Schools, libraries, nonprofit groups, and parents participate in a variety of activities with younger readers on National Reading Day.

Take your little buddies for a read today, it's Spider Approved.

Find more fun at

Bedtime Device Time, How Your Electronic Devices Are Slowly Hurting You

The problem is we love our devices.  We feel connected to the entire world all the time.  Everything is right there at our fingertips and on our screens, always surfing and posting and commenting and reading.  And we can't put them down.  That's the problem when it comes to interrupted sleep.  If you've been waking up unrested and in a semi-catatonic state lately, there may be a reason for that.  We take our devices to bed with us and surf until we put out the light.  The eyes close but the brain still runs.  

Many sleep experts are now saying it's very important to disengage from our devices at least an hour before bed time.  I already know what you're thinking.  You're thinking that's just not possible.  There's always one last check of social media or even simply catching up with an e-book.
Let's take a look at a study published in 2014 in  the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  

The study followed two groups of 12 participants; one group read with an iPad for four hours before bed each night for five consecutive nights. The second group read printed books in dim light, and after a week the groups switched. The iPad group showed lower levels of melatonin, a hormone linked to sleepiness. They also experienced shorter restorative REM cycles, delayed circadian rhythms, and felt sleepier the next morning despite getting eight hours of sleep. The blue light from many devices, not just the iPad, can have a negative effect on our melatonin levels because this type of light tells our body to stay awake and alert. In short, it tricks your brain into thinking it's still day time.  

Bear in mind, this is not a psychological phenomena.  This has very profound effects on biology.  The effect isn't unique to iPads, by the way.  Other products produce similar blue-light emissions, including tablets, e-readers, smart phones, laptops and LED monitors.
When you cozy up to your electronic device before bed your body is not getting the proper recuperative effect of sleep.  Chronic suppression of melatonin has been linked to increased risk of prostate, colorectal and breast cancers. And a persistent lack of sleep has been associated with obesity and diabetes. 

Now think on this; your children are even more hooked on these devices than you are.  If you feel blown out during your work day imagine how this affects their school day.  Not good.  Nearly 90 percent of adults and 75 percent of children reported having at least one electronic device in their bedrooms, and many reporting having multiple devices, such as televisions, laptops and tablets.
From the Washington post; The sleep-disrupting effects of such devices might be even more significant for older teens, ages 15 to 17, almost all of whom reported having electronic devices in their bedrooms and were far more likely to use them at night than younger children, even when an early school morning loomed.

The solution is to turn yourself away from these devices at least an hour before bed.  If that seems like a lot them start with a half hour.  Work your way up to an hour.  Seriously, read a book.  A Real book in soft light to tell your brain it's almost bed time.  


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

From Ollie Bug's Adventure Journal...January 17, Wear Potato Chips In Your Shoes Day

Today in Ollie's home of Moonwater Meadow is a special holiday; Wear Potato Chips In Your Shoes Day! Nearly everyone participates which makes potato chip makers very happy and school teachers and librarians very annoyed.

All around the meadow crisp crunching can be heard from the tiniest shoes of the tiniest ants to the giant shoes of the biggest elephants.   Sometimes the noise is so loud that no one can hear what anyone else is saying. 

Certainly, there's no sneaking up on anyone for a harmless fright.

I thought I'd share the origins of this special day in the photos enclosed.

So, did you wear potato chips in your shoes today?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Pineapple Ahoy!

Today's articles were culled and edited for you from
When you think of pineapples you think of tropical beaches, fruity tiki drinks with little umbrellas and warm waves lapping at your toes.  Or maybe it's where you think pine nuts come from.  Pineapples are also a powerhouse health food.  Among the numerous health benefits a cup a day of delicious pineapple is a strong anti aging component.  If your reading this that means you're alive which also means you're aging so read on and discover...

Nine Reasons to Start Eating Pineapple
Posted on Dec. 14, 2016

1. Magnesium and Vitamin B are two nutrients that gradually decrease over the years, and eating some pineapple daily can help to counteract these deficiencies. Thiamine, potassium, riboflavin and antioxidants help to support heart and brain health are nutrients also found in the fruit. 

2. Testosterone is the hormone that is responsible for the development of male characteristics. While both men and women have testosterone, it is much higher in adult males. Sometimes men have testosterone levels that are inadequate, so their libido and strength levels are too low. This deficiency could be improved by adding pineapple to the diet since the nutrients it supplies supports healthy testosterone levels.

3. A full daily dose of Vitamin C that supports a healthy immune system is found in one cup of pineapple. This essential nutrient helps to reduce inflammation and swelling after surgery, and also helps to alleviate pain and swelling caused by injuries. Healthy skin requires the support of antioxidants and Vitamin C to prevent damage from free radicals, and pineapple promotes collagen production to keep the skin plump and flexible.

4. Certain illnesses such as heart disease and cancer become more likely with advancing age, but the antioxidants and health promoting nutrients found in pineapple fight free radicals that are responsible for age related conditions.

5. A digestive system that works properly is essential for optimum health, and the bromelain in pineapple works to break down proteins while the fiber provided helps to cleanse the colon and relieve constipation. Pineapple is the only natural source of bromelain.
6. Few conditions negatively affect a healthy lifestyle more than respiratory problems. The bromelain in pineapple can relieve asthma symptoms and also help to prevent people from developing the condition.

7. High blood pressure is a common ailment that can be hereditary, age-related or caused by obesity. Bromelain is a natural blood thinner that can be used to replace aspirin with a doctor's approval.
8. Pineapple boosts fertility for couples who are planning to have a child. The fruit is high in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, folate, zinc and copper which are all known to increase fertility in both males and females.

9. Pineapple is high in phosphorous, a mineral that is necessary for the growth of healthy bones and teeth. Most people believe that getting enough calcium ensures their bones will be strong and healthy, but the combination of phosphorous and calcium is required for great bone health.

Now, let's talk about that super enzyme, Bromelain.  

Bromelain (Pineapple enzyme)
Posted on Dec. 30, 2005

Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme (an enzyme that digests proteins) found in fresh pineapple. It is often used to treat muscle injuries and as a digestive aid.

Bromelain is a natural anticoagulant that works by breaking down the blood-clotting protein fibrin. This may help to explain why results of at least two clinical trials suggest that the enzyme can help to improve the symptoms of angina and thrombophlebitis. As well as thinning the blood, bromelain also thins mucus, and thus may be of benefit to asthmatics and people suffering from chronic bronchitis. There is also evidence that bromelain can trigger beneficial changes in white blood cells, and thus may improve immune function. However, whether or not the enzyme would be beneficial to immunocompromised people has not been established clinically. Bromelain has potent 

anti-inflammatory properties and therefore may be useful in promoting the healing of minor muscle injuries such as sprains and strains. Results of one study also found evidence to suggest that it can help to improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. When applied topically it may help to speed wound healing. There has also been some suggestion that bromelain has anti-cancer properties, although this has not been proven. Several recent studies have linked chronic inflammation to cancer, thus any anti-cancer action of bromelain could be due to it anti-inflammatory properties. The enzyme may also enhance the effect of the antibiotics amoxicillin, erythromycin, penicillamine, and penicillin. In a study of people with urinary tract infections,100% of participants given antibiotics in combination with bromelain and another enzyme called trypsin were cured of their infection, compared with just 46% who received antibiotics alone.

Bromelain aids digestion by enhancing the effects of the digestive enzymes trypsin and pepin. It can also help to prevent heartburn by ease diarrhea, if either are caused by a deficiency of digestive enzymes. Bromelain supplements often contain a plant pigment called quercetin. The two substances are found in combination simply because they enhance each other’s antiinflammatory actions, and that bromelain appears to improve quercetin absorption.

Bromelain is generally regarded as being safe and side effect-free when taken as directed. However, some people may be allergic to bromelain as it is derived from pineapple. Bromelain is not recommended for people with active gastric or duodenal ulcers. People taking anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin should not take supplementary bromelain without consulting their physician.

As you can see, pineapples are great for so much more than fun little drinks on faraway beaches so have yourself a tiki party and add a cup a day or at least every few days to your diet to reap the benefits of a nifty superfood.  


Monday, January 9, 2017

For the New Year Trade In Your Resolutions For Habits

Every year it's the same thing;  a new slate, a new chance at a better us.  We declare a bunch of resolutions;  some probable, some possible and some downright ludicrous.   By March we sorta remember a list somewhere.  By summer we forgot we even made resolutions and by the end of the year we berate ourselves for forgetting all the amazing things we were going to get done in the previous twelve months and start all over again.

I've been thinking about this as I make note of the things I want to achieve this year.  I want to idiot-proof my list so I can look back in December and be happy with my progress.  I looked into some reasons why resolutions fail and found a pretty nice summary in an article posted on Psychology Today's site on December 27, 2010 called Why New Year's Resolutions Fail.   

Summarized, the reasons include a false sense of motivation, unrealistic expectations and a false hope similar to a positive affirmation in which you really don't believe.  The result; failure to resolve.  

"Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, says that resolutions are a form of "cultural procrastination," an effort to reinvent oneself. People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves. Pychyl argues that people aren't ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. Another reason, says Dr. Avya Sharma of the Canadian Obesity Network, is that people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions.

Psychology professor Peter Herman and his colleagues have identified what they call the "false hope syndrome," which means their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves. This principle reflects that of making positive affirmations. When you make positive affirmations about yourself that you don't really believe, the positive affirmations not only don't work, they can be damaging to your self-esteem.

The other aspect of failed resolutions lies in the cause and effect relationship. You may think that if you lose weight, or reduce your debts, or exercise more, your entire life will change, and when it doesn't, you may get discouraged and then you revert back to old behaviors."
It occurred to me that a resolution is just a statement that, if not backed by deliberate meaningful action is really nothing more than a wish.  Instead, I'd like to put forth not the making of resolutions but the forming of habits. 

 Indeed, the article confirmed my thought;
"Making resolutions work is essentially changing behaviors and in order to do that, you have to change your thinking and "rewire" your brain.  Brain scientists such as Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you're faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by "not trying to do it," in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking."

So rather than offering suggestions on how to make better resolutions I'd like to explore a few ideas on how to create lasting habits.  I found lots of articles that are so thick with science that you will fall asleep and drool on your desk, which in itself is a habit.  

Let's take fitness as an example.  I shouldn't have to say this but there is no such thing as an end goal with exercise.  To foster that idea is irresponsible.  We get goals in our heads like a six pack by summer or lose 10 lbs in five weeks.  It suggests a fixed amount of time and effort are required to reach your goal and then you can stop.  Being fit is not something that conforms to a time schedule, it is something that must be permanently incorporated into your life as a matter of routine.  Said another way, you don't ever stop working out, you alter your goals as you progress.  It's that simple.  And so it is with habits, to make a change you must incorporate deliberate action into your daily life - all the time.   

 It has been said that to form a habit it takes 21 days.  I've never believed this as it puts a time limit on the task.  Once your 21 days are up it should be done and no more work is required.  

Entire books have been written on how to form habits.  The internet is bloated with habit-related articles and everyone has a different take on where to start.  You can easily look all this up but allow me to offer a few suggestions to get started.  Remember, we aren't making resolutions as wishes, we are making an effort to make a desired behavior stick for a desired lasting result.  

This is a long slow process that requires planning and effort.  Let's take fitness again.  If you decide you're going to start your gym membership on January 1st with a resolution to go five days a week with no plan other than to lift heavy stuff then gloat over your new rippled abs, you're going to be disappointed.  Soon, the comfy bed, the extra slice of pizza, the more important something-or-other will erode your resolve.  

From a Huffington Post article called:
How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science) dated June 10, 2014:

Have a realistic plan.  On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. It can take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. 

In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process.

Also from this article:
Finding Inspiration in the Long Road: Before you let this dishearten you, let’s talk about three reasons why this research is actually inspiring.  First, there is no reason to get down on yourself if you try something for a few weeks and it doesn’t become a habit. It’s supposed to take longer than that! There is no need to judge yourself if you can’t master a behavior in 21 short days.  Embrace the long, slow walk to greatness and focus on putting in your reps.

Second, you don’t have to be perfect. Making a mistake once or twice has no measurable impact on your long-term habits. This is why you should treat failure like a scientist, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and develop strategies for getting back on track quickly.

And third, embracing longer timelines can help us realize that habits are a process and not an event. All of the “21 Days” hype can make it really easy to think, “Oh, I’ll just do this and it’ll be done.” But habits never work that way. You have to embrace the process. You have to commit to the system.
Understanding this from the beginning makes it easier to manage your expectations and commit to making small, incremental improvements — rather than pressuring yourself into thinking that you have to do it all at once.

How long it takes to form a particular habit doesn’t really matter that much. Whether it takes 50 days or 500 days, you have to put in the work either way. The only way to get to Day 500 is to start with Day 1. So forget about the number and focus on doing the work.

Even though the study only ran for 12 weeks, the researchers were able to use the data to estimate the longer timelines (like 254 days) to form habits. Again, the exact time depends on a variety of factors and isn’t nearly as important as the overall message: Habits can take a long time to form.

What's our takeaway?  If you want lasting changes don't make resolutions, make habits.