Monday, March 31, 2008

A Meditation on Sleep & Some Interesting Facts About It

Over the past year or two, I’ve come to realize, more and more, the importance of sleep. In youth, sleep is hardly a large concern and is often taken for granted in most cases. But once you grow older and things start to slow down with job, stress, and age, sleep becomes that silver lining that highlights the twilight clouds of later life.

Those with sleep apnea have it harder than others. Those with insomnia can take their situation as either a gift or a curse, depending on how they see it. For me, who happens to have a little bit of each, I see it this way—in any place that you might be, in any age that you happen to be, the simplest things that you take for granted now will hardly ever remain that way in the future. Because, although God didn’t need to rest on the seventh day of Creation, He did it anyway, not only to enjoy Himself, but also to be an example for us.

To have needs is to be a part of creation, but to rightfully cherish those needs is to ultimately acknowledge the Creator beyond it.

Sleep Facts (Taken from “The National Sleep Research Project”)

-The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

- Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you're sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you're still tired enough to sleep deeply, but not so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.

- REM sleep occurs in bursts totaling about 2 hours a night, usually beginning about 90 minutes after falling asleep.

- Dreams, once thought to occur only during REM sleep, also occur (but to a lesser extent) in non-REM sleep phases. It's possible there may not be a single moment of our sleep when we are actually dreamless.

- REM dreams are characterized by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery - obsessively returning to a suspicion you left your mobile phone somewhere, for example.

- Some scientists believe we dream to fix experiences in long-term memory, that is, we dream about things worth remembering. Others reckon we dream about things worth forgetting - to eliminate overlapping memories that would otherwise clog up our brains.

- Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain's sleep-wake clock.

- Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.

- The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a role.

- Tiny luminous rays from a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle even if you do not fully wake. The light turns off a "neural switch" in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.

- To drop off we must cool off; body temperature and the brain's sleep-wake cycle are closely linked. That's why hot summer nights can cause a restless sleep. The blood flow mechanism that transfers core body heat to the skin works best between 18 and 30 degrees. But later in life, the comfort zone shrinks to between 23 and 25 degrees - one reason why older people have more sleep disorders.

- Ducks at risk of attack by predators are able to balance the need for sleep and survival, keeping one half of the brain awake while the other slips into sleep mode.

- Ten per cent of snorers have sleep apnea, a disorder which causes sufferers to stop breathing up to 300 times a night and significantly increases the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Too Much Coffee Man Installment - Unrequited Love

I know exactly what he's talking about it, but somehow, I still don't get it. How's that for irony?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Brief Update- Samuel Godfrey George's Blog

Just a brief update to everyone regarding one of the blog's links in the "Links" section. For those interested in viewing the poetry and thoughts of Samuel Godfrey George, he's changed his blog title from "Relish the Cognitive Process" to "The Voice".

Yes, the address is still the same, nonetheless, at, but the title is just different. Please note this.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Short Movie Filler Day - The Life and Death of a Pumpkin

This film, which is the winner of the Best Short Film and Best Concept in the 2006 Chicago Horror Film Festival, portrays the life and death of a pumpkin during Halloween.

Personally, it sent a fair amount of chills down my spine as I watched it and I'm convinced that it'll do the same for you.

It's amazing how much perspective can effect our thinking.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Artist's Showcase - Samuel Godfrey George

Today's going to be another installment of "The Artist's Showcase" and, today, I've included a fairly familiar face here at "The Mad Hermit".

In the past, I've posted some of his other works on the blog, including one of his other poems (which is actually the sequel to this one), which I've used as a complimentary piece in my reading of C.S. Lewis', "The Great Divorce."

Samuel Godfrey George is not only a very skilled speaker, but he is also a very natural poet and for those of you who wish to explore more of his work, feel free to visit his youtube channel at:

The poem below, which is both written and recited by Samuel, is on the subject of lust, but it also covers a wide range of other topics, including Christianity, love, mortality, man's relationship with one another and with himself.

I found it to be a very profound and spiritual poem and it's also wonderfully written in a very meditative, very stream of consciousness manner. The artwork that Samuel includes greatly enhances the feel of the poem's subject and, if you're curious about the art that he uses, he even gives reference to all of them at the end of the video.

So sit back, enjoy, and feel free to comment!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Possible Explanation for the Voices in "LOST"

For those of you who follow LOST, I recently received an email from a friend, regarding a possible explanation for the disembodied voices that happen every now and then throughout the TV show.

According, to a news article that he read, the voices could come as a result of the "Frey Effect", which essentially occurs when near range microwaves signals are transmitted directly into a person's ear, giving them a kind of schizophrenic "voices in head" sort of thing.

For the actual article, feel free to follow the link below:

Oh yeah, and the actual article about new military technology is also cool!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Six Good Reasons Why Every Writer Should Have a Blog

1.) A blog allows your writing to gain public exposure.

2.) A blog helps you maintain the discipline of writing on a regular basis.

3.) A blog allows you to open connections with other writers, whether if they stumble onto your site or if you meet them through a blog community.

4.) A blog can also help you with some extra supplemental cash, when the writing market runs low (e.g. Adsense, payperpost, etc.)!

5.) A blog is a wonderful way to advertise yourself, whether for the purpose of getting yourself hired as a freelancer or for selling self-published works.

6.) Sanity: If you're one of those people who write fragments of stuff that can't add up to a complete work, but you don't wanna keep it to yourself, a blog is your next best thing. It scratches the brain itch.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Too Much Coffee Man Installment - A Possible Answer to the Last Post

For those of you who read the last post, the subject of today's TMCM installment could be a possible answer to all those questions. But technically, I don't really agree with it, so technically it might not be an actual answer for me. But enough rambling.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why Questions

Why do we concern ourselves so much with the lives of celebrities, when we constantly struggle to have control over own?

Why do we idealize possibly non-existent virtues onto strangers we're infatuated with, instead of actualizing them within ourselves?

Why do we insist that we're not influenced by commercialism when we find ourselves using commercial slogans to explain ourselves when we could simply use our own words?

Why do some people consider themselves non-conformist even when they're part of a crowd that dresses alike, acts alike, and talks alike?

Why do all personal blogs eventually end up asking the same questions with the same ideas that were probably asked and answered many times over on countless other blogs?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Short Movie Filler Day: Herringbone - Little Hands

Found this interesting short film on Youtube. Though there seems to be very limited information regarding the film's production and purpose, something tells me that this film might actually be a well produced commercial.

However, despite its "ad-iness", everything else about it rings true to the simple artform of the short film.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Perfect Metaphor for Blogging

Just a few nights ago, I realized how much blogging's like the proverbial "message in a bottle"--unless you activate the privacy command, whatever you write, you seal into a "blog bottle" and toss it into the digital ocean of information, hoping that somewhere out there, a stranger would pick it up and read your message.

It's kinda like the old "BC" comic strip, when one of the cavemen characters would chisel a message on a slab of stone and send it adrift in the ocean to communicate with his pen pal who would, likewise, send a message back.

It's strange, really, how it all works out--how something that I write today, at my desk in NJ can somehow end up on someone's screen somewhere in Tokyo or Singapore or wherever else. And it's also ironic in that, even though technology has advanced so far beyond the quill and paper, age old concepts can still be as relevant today as they were hundreds of years ago. Some things never change.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Asian Holocaust Heroes

I recently published an article on Associated Content about Asian heroes of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, for some apparent reason, AC chose not to publish the picture that I submitted to them for my article (above), even though the picture's considered to be public domain. That made me a little upset and I've already contacted AC about it. But, hey, as long as the word gets out about the heroism of these individuals, I could be happy with that.

The picture above, by the way, is of Chiune Sugihara, the first and only Japanese to have received the title "Righteous Among the Nations".

For those of you who want to know more, the actual article is found here:

Asian Heroes of the Holocaust

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Meditation on Handwriting

Several months ago, because of some unusual circumstances, I found myself without any access to a computer for roughly a month. So, throughout that one month, I was reduced to relying on the two things that I've neglected for many years--the notebook and the pen.

Without a computer, without Internet, but with a head full of ideas, I found myself writing in a notebook almost each night. But you know what? That one month without a computer was one of the most relaxing months that I ever had, not just because I had less distraction, but because of the feeling I got when putting pen to paper.

It's been a long time since I used only one hand to write. But the feeling of writing against that paper was almost like the organic feeling you get when you carve a piece of wood and see its features slowly conform to the image in your mind. Yes, it wasn't the neatest writing in the world and, yes, there were a few cross-outs here and there, but the feeling was well worth it--even the left over ink smudges on my hand left a sense of accomplishment.

As long as there are college lectures and the need to take quick notes in meetings, handwriting will always have its place. And although handwriting won't die out anytime soon, the sheer "art" of it, along with the recognition of its organic beauty, will eventually come to extinction without either the care or the heart of sentimental antiquity.

Every now and then, we should teach ourselves to write without the keyboard. At least all writers should try it if they haven't already. And when such homage is paid it shouldn't be in simple notes, but in whole letters or even short stories. Because when homage is given to an art that's as old as civilization, it should be given the amount that's due.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day from the Mad Hermit

To celebrate the festivity of one of my most favorite holidays, here's a spectacular little piece that I found over YouTube. The song that's played is "The Blood Of Cu Chulainn" by Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna.

For those of you who want to know more about who Cuchulainn is, here's a wikipedia link for you:


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Too Much Coffee Man Installment - Coffee is Beautiful

All you coffee drinkers know what I mean.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Piggy Bank

Just today, I watched a public television special on the history of food and its relation to the history of cultures ("Burt Wolf: What We Eat"). While watching, I found this interesting segment in it regarding the history of pork.

Supposedly, in the past, because the pig was the easiest acquirable source of protein for the poor, most poor families would have the habit of "banking" on their pigs.

In the spring they would acquire them and, from summer to fall, they would feed them and allow them to grow to their maximum size. By the winter, the pigs would hopefully be large enough to feed the entire family throughout the season after they slaughtered them. And once the winter was over, the family would then sell the left over meat, giving them enough money to purchase more piglets for the following year.

So, in short, there was a lot of "banking" and hoping going around for many poor families throughout the time. And the pig was essentially the "poor man's bank". Therefore, as a result, that's supposedly how the idea of the "piggy bank" was started. Quite interesting if you ask me.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Short Movie Filler Day - Prey Alone

This seems like a typical action, super-spy thriller, but it's actually something a little more than you think. As you watch, you might find yourelf starting to say, "Oh come on!" (I know I did). But the twist ending did actually explain a lot and it did make the entire movie worth it in the end. In fact, you could say that the ending was quite brilliant.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Book Review - "Kingdom Come"

Below is a review of DC's "Kingdom Come".

Cut to the chase: This graphic novel's an excellent read, especially with its rich ideas and thought provoking drama. Its artwork is absolutely breath-taking. Additionally, "Kingdom Come" brings all the classic superheroes to life with a new twist and brings in new heroes without adding too much clutter to the story. The ending, however, was weak and somewhat confusing. Its rating is a 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Making a Living Online is HARD

A little confession to everyone out there who's curious about a freelance writing career, namely a career in publishing online--it is HARD work. I'm not kidding you. Even with my best work, I can barely make any living doing it, let alone doing it part time (which I'm currently doing right now). Is it impossible to make a living online? No, but for those of you who think it's all about relaxing at home and just knowing a few parlor tricks, think again. Right below is an article that I found at that sums it all up.

For those of you who might be considering going full time into freelance writing, here's my best advice to you:

1.) Do research and I mean a LOT of research.

2.) Start saving up money from your day job.

3.) Try to focus first on writing some articles and getting them published somewhere and anywhere (doesn't have to be fancy) just to get some clips into your portfolio.

4.) Try to apply for and complete some small writing gigs BEFORE you quite your day job. That way, you can not only get some backing on your writing resume, but you can also get some initial experience to see if freelancing is right for you.

5.) Be realistic, expect the worst, but, at same time, don't obsess about the worst.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Theoretical Question: If You Found Out That Monsters Existed

If, one day, you suddenly discover that monsters existed and are in the process of corrupting/doing harm to humanity, what would you do?

Possible Options:

1.) Go look for a good therapist.

2.) Actively “hunt” the monsters. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

3.) Lay-low and pretend they don’t exist. Maybe this will all pass and maybe the monsters might destroy themselves or get destroyed by something else. Besides, I have my own life and the life of my loved ones to worry about.

4.) Try my best to tell someone or convince the world that monsters exist.

5.) None or all of the above.

What I Would Do:
First, I’ll go with Option 1 just to find out if monsters really did exist or if I’m just going crazy. If I found out that they do exist, I’ll try to find out if anyone else out there already knows about their existence besides me. If I do find others like myself, I would try to go about sharing with them what I know about the monsters and then I’ll try to find out what they know. From there, with the same group of people, I might be able to do other things (find more “knowers”, find out more about the monsters, or find ways to subvert/destroy them).

If, however, I discover that I’m alone on this, I’ll probably:

1.) Lay low and make sure that the monsters don’t notice me.

2.) Gather as much information as I can about them (the extent of their influence on humanity, their nature/origin, their “threat” level, etc.) from a safe distance.

3.) When the time is right, I’ll then try to convince maybe my family and a few close friends of what I “know”.

4.) Depending on how well I do with gathering information about the monsters and, convincing others, I’ll then try to focus on subverting the monsters and, ultimately, revealing their existence to the rest of the world.

What I Won’t Do:
1.) Unless the monsters are attacking me or my loved ones, I will NOT actively “hunt” them. I will NOT go Boondock Saints on them.

2.) I will not go around telling everyone in public about their existence.

3.) I will not go up talk to one of them, unless I'm cornered and forced to do so.

What say you?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Too Much Coffee Man Installment - Motivation

Just one of those know what I mean.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

German Longsword Fencing

Did a little research the other night on German Long Sword Fencing. For a while, I always suspected that medieval Europe had its own martial arts for their weaponry. Unfortunately, with the over-romanticization of Far Eastern martial arts and the over-deification of the Samurai, the European style of long sword fighting kinda got lost in the mix. When I first saw these videos, I was really impressed by how enormously practical and efficient the German style is compared to how most would imagine the fighting style of medieval knights. To many, they would tend to quickly stereotype knights as being clumsy, crude, and barbaric when it comes to sword play. But as you can all see from the videos below--that wasn't the case at all.

In the second video notice the variety of grabs that they use. In other videos that I've seen, they also have a variety of "take-down" moves that they use to bring down an opponent during a sword-fight.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Short Movie Filler Day - "The Sounds of the Fight"

The short movie that I have for you today is movie about an old man who discovers a radio that forces him to recount his haunted past. What happened and how it all happened rings with tragedy on every level and this short film beautifully portrays this using only music and action. This movie was inspired off the poem "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. The actual poem is included beneath the movie.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

-Maya Angelou

Thursday, March 6, 2008

In Honor of Ernest Gary Gygax

Well, about two days ago, Ernest Gary Gygax, the co-founder of Dungeons & Dragons passed away. As a gamer and as one who played DnD throughout his childhood, Gary will surely be missed by me. Meanwhile, in his honor, I'm gonna post this light-hearted article that I found on the Denver Westword Blogs entitled "25 Gaming Euphemisms for the Death of Gary Gygax" by Teague Bohlen. I know some of you might wonder why the use of humor to honor someone's recent death, but personally, I think Gary would have preferred it that way. For the actual article, please visit this link (click "link").

When referring to Gygax's death, you can say he:

1) Started a new character sheet.
2) Is looking for a ninth-level cleric.
3) Failed his save vs. death magic.
4) Is food for purple worms.
5) Immediately became an NPC.
6) Finished the Doritos.
7) Has gone pips up.
8) Is pushing up shriekers.
9) Cashed in his gold pieces.
10) Took the first step to lichdom.
11) Went ethereal.
12) Kicked on the end of a spear.
13) Didn't make his system shock roll.
14) Bought the farm in Hommlet.
15) Is taking a dice nap.
16) Has gone to meet Zagyg.
17) Rolled his last natural 20.
18) Went against the giants.
19) Joined the gaming table invisible.
20) Is sleeping with the sahuagin.
21) Drew the Void.
22) Ended the campaign.
23) Kicked the dice bag.
24) Retired Mordenkainen.
25) Got screwed by the DM.

-Teague Bohlen

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Artist Showcase - Dennis Hopper Reciting "If" by Rudyard Kipling

I found this excellent minimalist reciting of Rudyard Kipling's "If". This famous poem is recited by the actor, Dennis Hopper, who's simple use of a straight-forward tone gives this poem a wonderful "everyman" feel to it. Though some people have complained that he didn't recite the poem "correctly" (i.e. didn't give much regards for the poem's original meter) and even though he does miss the fifth line of the poem, I really didn't mind it. Either way, this short is an excellent example of how acting can merge beautifully with poetry. Enjoy!


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling

Monday, March 3, 2008

Is Too Much Information Killing Us?

We have the Internet. We have Wikipedia. We have Youtube. And we have more websites and blogs than anyone can count. And each and every day these "sources" grow, most of the time, exponentially.

But can all this someday destroy us? I'm not talking about information bringing about inevitable Doomsday with bombs and large explosions and stuff (though it could), but what I'm trying to say is this: can the overflow of information end up doing humanity more harm than good?

Some of the possible detriments that I could see arising, in the near future, from the overflow of information include:

1.) An increased sense of apathy towards discovery and exploration. This may lead to less enthusiasm for scientific advancement if the younger generations become less motivated to discover and explore.

2.) A decreased appreciation for knowledge for the sake of knowledge. People may become less willing to learn for the sake of learning and they learn only when their situation necessitates it. This could possibly lead to cultural detriment.

3.) Knowledge would become more of a commodity rather than an inherent right. With knowledge being pumped out each day, there's always cases where companies and corporations attempt to "red tape", legalize, and put a price tag on everything. This could lead to a more "tied up" legal system where most of the government's legal assets are spent on sorting out messes caused by increased information rather than towards more legitimate cases.

4.) Plagiarism and academic dishonesty may become rampant if left to itself (it's pretty rampant as it is now).

5.) As knowledge continues to grow, more knowledge will inevitably become available to the masses, including to the criminal elements present within the masses. If specific pieces of knowledge fall into the wrong hands (bomb building, weapons making, nuclear device production, etc.), dire consequences would no doubt follow.

6.) An increased “docile-ness” and gullibility among the masses. With too much information to handle, less people would bother to investigate products or pieces of information, because it would be too much trouble or too overwhelming to look into facts. People would, therefore, grow to mindlessly accept what they’re told out of both convenience and apathy, even if the information's wrong or misleading.

Overall, I believe that there's nothing wrong with acquiring and having information. It's just a matter of why and how you got that information and what you end up doing with it that makes it either "wrong" or "right". But where should we draw the line with this? Or should we draw a line at all? What say you?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Too Much Coffee Man Installment - No Man's Land

You know that feeling you get where you feel like doing something, but you're just too lazy or tired to do it? Well, this comic kinda summarizes that.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Interesting Facts About Caffeine and Its Products

A few years ago, I bought this National Geographic issue devoted to caffeine. Found out some interesting stuff about it. Today, as I sit here drinking a large cup of French Roast, I couldn't help but think about the impact caffeine has over our daily lives (namely mine). Below are just some of the interesting facts about it from the January 2005 National Geographic article. To say the least, it was a real eyebrow raiser when I first read it and continues to be even when I flip through it, today.

- Studies suggest that extroverted people are less sensitive to caffeine's effects than introverts.

- Pain relievers fortified with caffeine have proven more effective than the analgesics used alone.

- The robusta coffee beans used in less expensive brands contain almost twice as much caffeine as the arabica beans favored by coffee connoisseurs.

- Military studies of subjects who hadn't slept for 48 hours showed that 600 mg of caffeine improved alertness and mood as much as 20 mg of amphetamine.

- Going without caffeine for a day and a half increases blood flow in the brain, which may explain why people get headaches when they first give it up.

- Caffeine is so acrid that it's used as a standard for "bitter" in training professional food tasters.

- The caffeine extracted from coffee beans to make decaf is sold to drug and soft drink manufaturers.

- Caffeine is being developed as a pesticide for slugs and snails.

- A university student in Wales committed suicide in 2002 when he deliberately swallowed caffeine pills equivalent to 100 cups of coffee.

- Black tea, green tea, and oolong are all made from the same plant; the differences in taste and color come from their processing.

- One of the newest products to wich the stimulant has been added: "Coffee tights" are panty hose with caffeine woven into their threads to supposedly help shrink thighs.

- Vietnam is now the second largest producer of coffee worldwide, but it's largely a nation of tea drinkers.

- Cigarette smoking nearly doubles the rate at which the body metabolizes caffeine.


Distributed by Blog Templates