This actually exists: Amazon’s Dash Button

While browsing through Amazon recently, stocking up on some items for the house, I came across a product that at first appeared to be a joke.  Actually, I thought it was a product metaphor used to promote the item it was selling (think Staples’ “Easy Button”).  In this example it was promoting Tide laundry detergent, a flash drive looking device with a button on one end and the Tide logo across the face of the item.  Ohhhh…now I get it, I need Tide so I’ll push the button and shazam, it will be at my door.  What better way for me to add Tide to my shopping cart than to make it look this easy.  Awesome marketing.

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Well, it wasn’t pure marketing per se, Amazon was actually trying to sell me a button.  What?  Yes, my friends, Amazon is now selling, product specific “Dash Buttons” that you connect to your home’s wireless network.  In this case, the button was placed on a washing machine and the user noticed they were running low on detergent, they hit the button, and two days later Tide showed up at their door.  Look below, I have proof:

Amazon Dash button for Tide
Amazon Dash Button for Tide

I’m trying to determine if this truly is the greatest thing since sliced bread or is this quite possibly the laziest technological instrument I have ever seen.  I’m torn!  You see, when I was growing up, the only place people had electronic buttons were around their neck, when they were old, and they had “fallen…and can’t get up”.  However, the thought of simply pressing a button when you’re running low on detergent, coffee, toilet paper (yes, you can stick one of these bad boys on the toilet) does seem like a handy concept.  They even have a short video clip of how it works on the Dash Button page.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Do you already have one, if so, do you like it?

Charlie Update: Is that a hole?

Charlie has been doing great and is healing very well. Since the drainage stopped his left eye area has been healing up without issue. However, about a week ago we noticed what appeared to be a small scab where one of the sutures had been after surgery. Well after further investigation, we came to the conclusion that it was a tiny hole. It was quite odd, his skin had healed all around his left eye area, even healing completely around this apparent hole. There was no redness, no drainage, nothing.

I immediately thought about Charlie’s well being and asked if we could get him a diamond stud earring for the hole. If you have to have a tiny hole, why not bling it out. Well, my wife thought that was a bad idea and I was immediately overruled. I think Charlie was disappointed but he never said anything to me so I let it go.

Not knowing if this was normal, we called the vet and they asked us to bring him in. Guess what…it’s not normal. Our wonderful vet stated he’d never seen this before and that he’d like to open it up and take a quick glance to make sure everything looked ok on the other side. Soooooo, our trooper of a dog Charlie went under the scalpel again. Luckily everything looked ok from inside and they loosened up a little skin when sewing him back up to make sure we had a solid suture line with no tension on the wound.

Charlie was in great spirits when I picked him up today and the vet felt good that this would take care of our problem. Good news for the Charlie dog!

“OCD Is Not a Quirk” – Article from “The Atlantic” magazine

I recently came across this article in “The Atlantic” magazine written by Fatima Tipu titled “OCD Is Not a Quirk”.  It was a nice piece highlighting the misconceptions of the disorder and why it is important that we stop using OCD as, how Tipu puts it, “jokey shorthand”.  As someone who has been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I know first-hand the paralyzing effect it can have on your life as your brain runs around in circles looking for a corner to hide in.  It’s not pleasant and, if left untreated, can be debilitating.  I’ve had it all my life, as have most people with the disorder, since it’s not something that you “catch” like a cold or the flu.  While many have OCD all their lives, it is not normally diagnosed until an individual is in their mid-twenties.  It is no coincidence that this is also the first time that many adults move out on their own and start to have many of life’s responsibilities placed squarely on their soldiers.  These new responsibilities tend to exacerbate the existing issues which create many more opportunities for their Obsessions to come out in full, triggering the accompanying Compulsions.

Luckily there is treatment readily available.  It normally involves medication and therapy.  The extent depends on the individual, but you can normally start to see positive changes in the first few months of treatment.  Since OCD is ultimately a physiological disorder involving the chemicals of the brain, medication is used to help regulate this process.  Therapy comes along to help provide emotional support, as well as many tools and perspectives to help you better understand the disorder and how to identify and handle the Obsessions and Compulsions.

The question now is what’s the harm in joking about OCD?  Personally, I try to make light of the subject because I think laughter is great medicine and I’m not embarrassed about a health condition completely out of my control.  However, retardation, schizophrenia, and many other diseases and disorders are out of an individual’s control as well, but it is a faux pas, and rightfully so, to use these terms as slang, or worse, insults.  I want to make it clear that I’m not stating that OCD is equivalent to mental retardation or physical deformities.  What I am saying though is that I think we’ve reached a point where the term OCD is so commonly used as a pun or joke, that the disorder itself is getting lost in the discussion.  I hear things like, “I’m having an OCD moment right now”, “forgive me, I’m a little OCD when it comes to my blah blah blah”, and so forth.  Let me put it this way, being a little OCD is like being a little pregnant; it simply doesn’t work that way.

While I don’t want to get militant on its use, I would like to bring caution to its overuse in common, everyday discourse.  The more it’s used in trivial circumstances the more that the population as a whole becomes desensitized to the fact that OCD is a very REAL disorder, which causes very REAL pain, to very REAL people.

ASMR: What is it and why am I a fan?

When I was a young boy I would often find myself mesmerized by a how-to painting program on PBS called “The Joy of Painting”. Its host was a uniquely recognizable figure, with a tall, skinny frame, a 1970’s style, and his most identifiable quality – a white man’s afro. The man was Bob Ross, and his basic, half-hour, instructional painting show became a regular addition to my Saturday afternoon viewing schedule. His soft voice, super-positive attitude, and the sound of his brushes sliding across the canvas had such a relaxing and calming effect. Some times I would get these little tingles at the base of my skull that would seem to flutter down my back as I slowly sank into an afternoon nap. I never had any idea of what these “tingles” were or truly thought much about them. I just knew that I liked the feeling and the calming nature of clearing my head and putting me at ease.

What I didn’t know then, that I found out in my mid-twenties, was that I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What “The Joy of Painting” did for me when I was a kid, and now as an adult, was to calm my brain and give it a chance to rest. As I better understood my health, and the anxieties of adulthood grew exponentially, I searched out other Bob Ross style antidotes. It was this search that led me to ASMR.

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. What is it…well you’ll find an array of answers, but to me, I call it the “Bob Ross Effect”. I like my definition because, like ASMR, it’s as scientific of a definition as it is anecdotal. There is no overwhelming scientific body of evidence on ASMR one way or the other. It’s also not something that everyone can experience just as some “triggers” affect people in different ways. A trigger is the commonly used term for the sounds/actions/whatever that induces tingles or the experience of ASMR. What I do know for sure is that the phenomenon of ASMR is absolutely real. I’ve experienced it just like many others have. Is ASMR the right term, is it actually something else, is it all just in our mind (no pun intended)…maybe, but I’m not sure that an “official” answer is what the end goal should be. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see more scientific research on the topic, but at the end of the day, when I’m trying to shut my brain down and just need to chill and relax, that’s not what I’m concerned with. I’m concerned with the fact, that for me, there are avenues available for me to experience ASMR and drift off to sleep versus staring at the ceiling all night.

A note of caution, there are some who would argue that this is sexual in nature. For me, this argument is fairly ridiculous since the phenomenon is rooted in an inherently relaxed state and, for those who experience them, tingles, are not carnal in nature – in fact just the opposite. It’s a case where correlation does not equal causation. For example, I enjoy the calming sound of whispering and soft-spoken voice. Are there experiences and videos of a sexual nature that have whispering and soft-spoken voice in them…absolutely. Does the human body and brain act differently when it is preparing for sleep than it does when it is gearing up for a sexual experience…absolutely. While the vast majority of ASMR videos would never be confused with sexuality (crinkling paper, painting on canvas) I can see how it would be easy to misinterpret the meaning of some ASMR videos if taken out of context (whispering to the viewer). I actually hate to even spend time on this paragraph because taken in context this is absolutely a non-issue, but hey, there are also warning labels on chainsaws telling you not to touch the blade while it’s running, soooo….

The best way to figure out what ASMR is, what’s it about, and to see if it’s interesting to you is to check out some of the videos. Below are some of my favorite ASMRtists:

  1. Gentle Whispering
  2. Massage ASMR
  3. ASMR Requests
  4. Relaxing ASMR
  5. Whispers Red ASMR

There are many other people making ASMR videos, podcasts, albums, etc. so if you find that it might be something you’re interested in but the ones above aren’t for you, I encourage you to seek out others that might be more up your alley. Between YouTube and Google there is absolutely no shortage. Happy Tingles and Relaxing!

Movie Review: “Dark Places”

Dark Places” is the movie adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name and stars Charlize Theron. You may remember Flynn as the author of “Gone Girl”, which was also made into a movie starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike (who received an Oscar nomination for her performance).

In “Dark Places”, Theron plays the current day, adult version of the main character Libby Day, whose family was murdered in a small Kansas town when she was eight years old. The tragic event became national news and was highly publicized because of the nature of the crime and the fact that Libby’s older brother Ben was found guilty of committing the murders, largely based on the coaxed testimony of eight-year-old Libby who stated she saw Ben commit the crimes.

Years later, with Libby hard up for cash, she accepts an invitation from Lyle Wirth to attend a meeting of The Kill Club, a group of individuals obsessed with true crime stories. Lyle, an active member of the group fixated with the murders involving Libby’s family, pays Libby to come and talk to the group and answer questions. Needless to say, the members of the group are not convinced that Libby’s older brother Ben is the killer and are eager to talk to Libby to help fill in, what they believe are, holes in the case. Libby though is not buying the conspiracies thrown at her and sticks to her original story that Ben committed the murders. However, Libby is still broke and Lyle is willing to pay her even more to reach out to long-lost family members. Libby takes the money and the story takes off.

I enjoyed the movie and was glad to see the movie do its best to stay true to the book. The problem though with “Dark Places” the Movie had little to do with the Movie itself.

  1. The book was SO good. The detail and arrangement of the book, with its flashbacks intertwining so well with current events, made it impossible for a movie to represent. After the first twenty minutes of the movie it was already on the downhill slope of the story. The movie never had a chance to build up because it was two hours long…it needed about 15 hours.
  2. “Gone Girl”. “Gone Girl” was such a good movie that the expectations were absolutely unattainable with this movie. The twists and turns hit you when you weren’t expecting them so you were primed and ready when watching “Dark Places”.
  3. Libby Day was played by Charlize Theron. Now don’t get me wrong, Charlize Theron is a great actress and has the physique and beauty of a model. However, Libby Day was a short, strange, odd, small, troubled woman. Charlize did the best she could but it was never believable if you had read the book. Libby Day is an amazing character and Charlize Theron is an amazing actress, but those two things are not always synonymous.

Overall, it was a good movie but it was hard not feeling somewhat let down. If you’re thinking of watching this movie, and it is worth watching, read the book first. One, the book is just an awesome story and well written; one of my favorites. Two, I think you’d have a hard time following the movie if you didn’t have the base of the story already in your mind. At least make sure that if you haven’t read the book you watch the movie with someone who has.

Quick Update: Carter

I realized that it’s been a while since I provided an update on how Carter is doing.  He is approaching seven months old now and has gotten so big.  Here is a link to the post from his first day with us.

His eyes are doing great and his personality is starting to flourish.  He is not afraid to bark when he wants any of his brothers’ toys/treats/whatever.  The area near the back of his mouth scrunches up to form a small downward angle to his mouth…making him look like an “old man”.  We have been joking that when he looks at us and just randomly barks, it’s like the old grandpa yelling at kids to get off his lawn.  We of course get in on the fun and let him know that we aren’t on his yard and to stop being rude.  It’s so cute!

Here is a picture of him taken just a few days ago.