Archive for December, 2009

New Year’s Eve and I’m Not Ready!

New Year’s Eve tomorrow night, and I’m still not ready!

My BFF Sarah and I are both home from our respective schools, so I’m going over to her house to celebrate. They’re having a medium-sized party.

Neither of us has a date, but I still want to wear something nice just in case. And I have no idea what.

2010. Amazing. I was just getting used to it being 2000, and now here we are. The big year, of course, will be 2011: graduation. But for now, let’s just kind of ease into 2010.

Let’s see. 20 + 10 is 30, and there are four digits in the number, so adding four to the total makes 34. Three plus four adds up to seven, which is a lucky number. So 2010 will be a lucky year for all of us! How’s that for logical reasoning? ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, yes, I know it’s all bulls***. But that’s how life is. You make up some bulls*** that makes you feel good, and that’s your personal truth. We all have our own bulls***. Now you know some of mine.

2010 will be a good year for all of us. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Happy New Year to all my friends, readers, and fellow bloggers!

Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.

Categories: Life Tags: , ,

Flirting with Facebook

I’m flirting with Facebook.

It’s true that I’d rather be flirting with Michael Cera from “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” or Penn Badgley from “Gossip Girl,” but they’re unavailable.

A lot of my friends spend hours on Facebook, writing status updates, playing games, taking quizzes, and “friending” people they’ve never met. A few family members are on. Even some departments at my school have Facebook pages. If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth-largest country in the world. So I decided to give it a try.

I put up a profile and played a few games, but that’s about all so far. Between school, studying, and having fun with real-life friends, I don’t see where some people get the time. Of course, if it makes them happy, then I guess it’s a good thing.

The current issue discusses how social networking sites affect us.

The current issue of Scientific American Mind questions how good or bad online social networking really is. As usual, some studies say it’s fine for some people, while other studies say it’s harmful to other people. But a few interesting facts came out:

  • Spending time online doesn’t make you lonely or depressed if you aren’t already. A 2008 study at California State University, Los Angeles found that “Neither total amount of time spent online nor time spent communicating online correlated with increased loneliness.” A 2006 study in Australia found that “the amount of time spent interacting online is unrelated to higher levels of anxiety or depression.”
  • But if you’re already lonely, going online might not help. Because there is no face-to-face contact, people tend to take online relationships less seriously. To someone who is already lonely, “Insults, snubs, alienation, and gossip all elicit much higher levels of stress. The effect is amplified online …” If you are insecure, it can hurt to have only a few people in your “friends list” while you see other people who have hundreds. It can also hurt if you say the wrong word to someone and get abruptly “de-friended.”
  • Social networking is best when it supports real-life friendships. “The social networkers who fare the best are the ones who use the technology to support their existing friendships.” An Australian study in 2007 found that “using social networks diminishes loneliness when online social contacts are also offline contacts.”

Rinth’s Rules for Social Networking

So here are my rules for social networking. I hope they make sense to you:

  • Don’t expect online friendships to substitute for real, face-to-face friendships. It rarely works. Online friendships work best when they supplement real-world relationships with the same people. We evolved to need face-to-face encounters with other people. Our biological and psychological needs for human contact are left unsatisfied by relationships that consist only of words flashing across a computer screen. If you’re lonely, go out and meet some people. If you’re shy, it will be harder but you can do it.
  • Don’t expect an “online life” to substitute for your real life. It won’t work. We aren’t built that way. You can spend 24 hours a day online, but it won’t make you happy. It will just make you empty and sleepy and in serious need of a shower.
  • Don’t expect to be a different person online. You are who you are. And that’s good enough.
  • Don’t base your self-respect on how many people are in your friends list. Those people who have 500 “online friends” barely know any of them. Are those real relationships? Remember the old saying: “Friends will help you move. Real friends will help you move bodies.”
  • Don’t spend so much time online that it takes you away from your real life. No matter how bad you think your real life is, it won’t get better if you run away and hide in Facebook. Live your life, make real-world friends, study for your classes, work, play, and have fun.

Oh, and one more thing:

  • Nobody cares that you just brushed your teeth. Give it a rest with the minute-by-minute status updates. Nobody’s life is that interesting. Mine sure isn’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.

New Airport Security. Oh, Goody.

I understand the need for security, but I just dread flying back to school at the end of December recess.

Last week, a would-be terrorist tried to set his pants on fire during the last hour of a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Because of that, all airline passengers will face even more restrictions on what they can do and what they can carry.

I’m not very worried about terrorists. That’s just a microscopic possibility, like getting hit by a meteor or winning the lottery. But it’s absolutely certain that getting on a plane will be even more of a pain than it has been already.

Look at the latest terrorism attempt. It didn’t succeed. Neither did all the airport security measures that supposedly keep us safe but which, sometimes, seem to require extra-special attention to college-age women. (That’s the nicest way I can put it.)

Beat the Holiday Blues

December 25, 2009 1 comment

Are you depressed?

It seems like a strange thing to ask at Christmas time, when we see our families, exchange presents, and eat too much. But some people do get depressed. Contrary to popular myth, the suicide rate doesn’t go up at Christmas, but there’s no doubt that it can be stressful.

Depression doesn’t have to mean crying all the time or jumping off a bridge. Some of the other symptoms are fatigue, sadness, hopelessness, or an inability to find pleasure in normally enjoyable activities (called “anhedonia“). And that’s no way to spend your holidays.

Here are some things you can do to beat the blues:

Get enough sleep

Yes, I know it’s difficult. But inadequate sleep is one thing that can cause depression. Avoid bright light in the evening hours, especially blue light, because it can interfere with your sleep. Avoid caffeine or chocolate after 6pm (unless you’re a college student like me ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Don’t exercise too late in the evening, because it speeds up your metabolism and makes it hard to wind down for sleep. Go to bed at about the same time every night. Keep your bedroom just a little cool. All those things will help you get more sleep and better sleep.


Exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which promote feelings of happiness and well-being. Try to do it for at least 20 minutes. Just don’t do it late in the evening, which can make it hard to sleep. (The usual warnings about checking with your doctor if you have a medical condition that affects your ability to exercise, blah blah blah.)

Get Busy

Activity is another natural antidote for depression. The paradox is that when you’re depressed, you don’t feel like doing anything. But if you can use sheer will power to overcome that inertia, you might find yourself feeling better. It almost doesn’t matter what the activity is: taking a brisk walk in the park, playing cards with friends, going to the gym, or going to the mall and window-shopping.


When you’re depressed, you don’t feel like smiling. That’s the basis of the trick. Grandmothers (and psychologists, if there’s a difference) have known for centuries that if you smile and act happy, you can often fool your brain into thinking that you are happy. It’s the psychological version of “fake it till you make it.” So don’t hang your head, slouch, or walk slowly. Raise your head high, straighten your shoulders, stride energetically, and smile!


Forgive yourself and others. Nobody (around here) is perfect. We all mess up sometimes. We all do and say things we regret. Failing to forgive means you are holding onto past hurts so that they keep hurting you. Let them go. Turn away from the hurt and turn toward happiness.

If none of that works …

Those are all remedies that you can try without drugs or psychotherapy. Everyone feels sad or stressed at times, and that’s normal. If you have a more severe problem that keeps you from enjoying life or even makes you think of hurting yourself, then you should talk to your doctor, religious leader, or to a psychotherapist.

But for now, smile and enjoy Christmas! You are special, you are loved, and you are important. Merry Christmas!

Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.

Fashion Made Simple

What makes an outfit beautiful?

If you asked me (not that you did, but I’m going to tell you anyway), I’d say that the same principles of beauty apply to fashion, makeup, sunsets, symphonies, and poetry. If you asked my younger brother, he’d probably say that they also apply to computer games and monster trucks.

I got to thinking about it because Teen Vogue just published a “Fashion Faceoff” between TV actress Nina Dobrev of “The Vampire Diaries” and heiress Nicky Hilton, younger sister of Paris Hilton.

The faceoff compares side-by-side photos* of Nina and Nicky, each wearing a monochrome Alice & Olivia mini-dress by designer Stacey Bendet. It asks Teen Vogue readers which they like better. (To see the side-by-side photos, click here.)

The mini-dress is solid white and solid black. Nicky left it at that, adding only black heels and a white clutch. But Nina added a layered silver chain necklace and sheer black leggings.

Which looks better? I like Nina as an actress, but Nicky won the fashion faceoff.

Why did she win? It seems to me that whether we’re talking about an outfit, a painting, a symphony, or a play in football (I included the football reference just for any male readers who made it this far), all the parts have to fit together harmoniously. Any clashes should be planned and carefully controlled. Colors can clash, musical notes can clash, and so can styles. But if you’re going for simplicity, it’s safer to stay with simplicity.

Nina went wrong because she tried to combine a simple, solid color mini-dress with a layered necklace and leggings that were visually complex and didn’t even match each other. You can combine simple with complex elements in an outfit, just like you can combine different colors and styles, but it’s tricky. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. A little bit of clash is good, but it has to be just the right kind and the right amount.

Nicky won by starting with the simple mini-dress and keeping the whole look simple. She took no risks, but the reason they’re called “risks” is that they can blow up in your face. Nicky wasn’t in any danger from that. Nina took a risk, so she deserves credit, but it didn’t work out for her this time.

So here’s my philosophy of the whole thing, and please forgive me if I ramble because I spent most of the day in airports and flying home from school. You’re always much safer if you keep it simple. That applies to fashion, friendship, sports, music, and almost everything else.

Complexity is the frosting on the cake: it’s fine but it should be used sparingly. A cake that’s mostly frosting will make you yak.


* I’d like to include the photos on my blog, but I don’t want Teen Vogue to get mad at me.

Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.

Neuroscience, Hinduism, and “Avatar”

Scene from Avatar

I really enjoyed the movie “Avatar,” which I saw on Sunday. News stories say that it cost $310 million to produce, and it’s easy to see where the money went. It’s right there on the screen.

As spectacular as the movie was, the story seemed to borrow ideas from a lot of places. I noticed two cases of that: one from neuroscience and one from comparative religion.

At one point in the movie, the chief scientist (played by Sigourney Weaver) says that each tree in the planet’s forest connects via its roots to 10,000 other trees in the forest. As it happens, each neuron (nerve cell) in the human brain connects to between 5,000 and 10,000 other neurons, although the number of connections can go even higher. So it seemed to me that by referring to 10,000 connections, the movie suggested that the forest was a giant brain and was conscious.

The indigenous people on the planet were called the Navi. Their most intimate greeting to each other is “I see you.” That seemed to have been suggested by Hindu religious beliefs. In Hinduism, darshan is a spiritual experience in which a person sees and is seen by God. To see or be seen is very significant.

Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.

Done with Exams

Time to sleep. Or go have a Thai Chicken Salad or something. Not sure if I’m more tired or hungry.

Categories: Life, School Tags: ,