Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

My Playlists II

Over a year ago, I wrote a post called My Playlists that went on to describe my affinity for obsession with music playlists. After rereading the post, I thought I could add more to it in terms of what other kinds of playlists I have, and the reasons I created them. Since it’s for my Freedom Friday series, I might as well have some fun along the way.

Musical notes
Musical notes

In my original post, I talked about mixtapes and what made them so special back in the day when cassette tapes ruled media. A perfectly designed mixtape is a form of expression that captures the essence of a feeling or of a moment in time. Nowadays, the mixtape is a playlist on a music player tailored with songs that have a connection with each other. In other words, a playlist brings together songs that mean something to someone when played together in a certain order.

For instance, I have a playlist dedicated to my college years. These are songs I was listening to while in college that if I played them today would spark those memories of my trips in and out of class, the school library and study hall. I also have a playlist called High School that I love playing whenever I want to remember the times when I sat on the football field with my friends, looking at the sky while dreaming of who we wanted to be someday.

Recently, I’ve added a slew of new playlists to my collection that I could only describe as representing a feeling:

Lounge—A series of smooth jazz songs that transport me to a lounge at the top of a luxury hotel, minutes before midnight while I take in the sight of the city lights below. Yeah, pretty specific, huh?
Autumn—Songs that have a nostalgic, melancholy vibe that remind me of the reflection I go through when fall arrives. Whenever I find myself in this playlist, I’m instantly walking through the leaves as the rain pours.
Winter—I came up with this playlist as a way to enjoy the solitude of the season. Those cold winter days when the wind is blowing and no one’s around makes for a peaceful time. These songs bring those moments together in a way that enhances the frost of the season.
Love—Ah, yes. It’s all about love. My choice of songs vary, but the theme remains the same. On this playlist I’ve added songs for the tender heart.
Sports—Unlike the name of the playlist, the songs evoke inspiration. It’s the one playlist I can go to for a “You can do it!” jolt of adrenaline to spike my productivity.
Summer—Fun tunes featuring Beach Boys and anything with the word summer in its title. I’m playing this now as I write. They’re the songs that epitomize youth, fun in the sun, and explode with energy.
Power—This playlist features tunes with only one thing as its purpose—to blow away anything in its path. I mixed soundtrack songs from various superhero, car and summer blockbuster flicks in one neat little package that would evoke a big sense of adventure. I came up with this playlist as a way to kick me into action. A couple of these songs is all I need to press me to running with the bulls.

Anyway, I love my playlists. I really do. Whenever I need to focus on a certain period in my life or take an emotional journey, my music has been there for me, saving the day and pulling me to keep creating.

What about you? Do you have playlists that inspire you?


Do you create playlists? If so, what kind of playlists are they?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

The Human Brain

My wife recently introduced me to a series of CDs by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology specializing in Neuropsychology. In the series, she talks about the development of the human brain. My wife and I had an hour to kill in the car on our way for a weekend jaunt, so she thought I might enjoy listening to it. Boy, was she right.

The Human Brain
The Human Brain

I’m taking a moment for my Freedom Friday series to talk a bit about the human brain. By no means will I pretend to know everything about the human brain—but I’ll mention what I’ve learned.

What interested me was the idea of learning. How does the brain learn? Is there a physical change in the brain when someone decides they want to learn a subject? Or does that knowledge somehow get there because some people are smarter than others?

The brain has two hemispheres, right and left. Both hemispheres work together. Past science once suggested the two hemispheres worked independently—the left dedicated to logic (eg. science, mathematics, etc.) and the right dedicated to creativity (eg. music, art, literature, etc.) . Science has now discovered the brain works as a complete unit with both hemispheres working together. They’ve also discovered an interesting interaction that takes place between the two hemispheres they didn’t understand before.

The right hemisphere processes information from detail to big picture. The left hemisphere processes information from big picture to detail. The brain works best when the information it needs to process has a logic to it. If the information lacks organization, the brain goes into a default mode and shuts down not accepting new information. The only way I can describe this default mode is a person becomes unresponsive to the knowledge and would rather be out surfing with Beach Boys music playing in the background.


The brain also contains what’s called dendrites. Dendrites makes it possible for the brain to remember. Healthy dendrites have an actual physical appearance in the brain that is stalky, thick and branch-like. If you’ve ever seen a head of broccoli, that is what the human brain looks like underneath. Obviously the color of the brain wouldn’t be green, otherwise it would be a) weird, b) make us zombies. The thicker the dendrite, the more powerful a memory.

Short dendrites are known as floppy cells. Floppy cells occur when the brain absorbs a piece of information but then discards it. We all know the condition as short term memory. When the brain needs to remember five minutes’s worth of info, it creates floppy cells.

You must be wondering, what happens to the floppy cells when we don’t need them anymore? Good question. This is where sleep becomes comes to the rescue. When a person sleeps, the brain cleans away the floppy cells and stores them in an inaccessible part of the brain. The storage capacity of the brain is about 300 million years. I’d place a winning bet that we have enough capacity in that noggin of ours to store five minutes worth of garbage in there, don’t you think?

All right, having said that, what is the result of this brief discourse regarding the human brain?

When a student is in the process of learning a new subject, there’s an actual physical change in the brain that takes place in order to retain the new knowledge. As the student learns, dendrites grow thick. Anything not needed, the brain cleans away during sleep. As the student continues to learn, the student becomes smarter. The physical changes in the brain allow that to happen. Barring disease, the brain is the only organ that continues to grow in spite of getting older.

In other words, don’t let anyone say to you that you’re too old to learn. You’re never too old to learn.


Have you ever studied into the human brain? If so, what do you like about it?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Lucy Whitmore

How would you feel waking up every morning and not remembering what happened the day before? Some would find it scary. Not to Lucy Whitmore. To Lucy, it’s such a part of life that she accepts it as normal. Only, she doesn’t know it.

Drew Barrymore as Lucy Whitmore
Drew Barrymore as Lucy Whitmore

This week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday series features a girl with a problem remembering things. If you haven’t seen 50 First Dates, I’ll try not to spoil it for you. Then again, perhaps you’ll read this post and not remember anything by the time it’s all over.

The movie 50 First Dates is Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore’s second venture on the big screen. The first being The Wedding Singer where Barrymore plays Julia, a waitress who meets Sandler’s character at a wedding hall and soon become friends. In this film, Lucy (Drew Barrymore) forgets. I won’t reveal how or why, but she can’t remember from one day to the next what she did, and everyone around her feels the burden, including Henry Roth (Adam Sandler).

An interesting tidbit about the movie is it reveals the twist ending to the film The Sixth Sense. I’ll tell you, I laughed the first time watching Lucy blurt out the details, because if you hadn’t watched The Sixth Sense, it would have been the biggest spoiler ever. At the time, I’m sure I could’ve heard the Hollywood executives curse up and down Beverly Hills for Sandler’s reckless inclusion of the horror flick’s most guarded secret.

And if you haven’t watched The Sixth Sense, then consider this your warning. You’re welcome.


Getting back to Lucy, her lack of remembering serves to protect her from bad memories, but also proves to make annual gatherings, such as birthdays, repetitive for everyone else except Lucy. She manages to make her daily routine always something fascinating to watch, especially after Henry comes into her life.

Despite her situation, Lucy manages to brighten a room with her smile and her paintings. An avid artist, Lucy paints a work of art every day and makes it her homage to her father, who patiently keeps her from getting hurt from external influences.

Lucy also sings whenever she is happy. She sings The Beach Boys, and she brings joy to everyone around her. If anything is true about Lucy, she’s a fresh burst of happiness and shows that happiness any way she knows how.

If you really enjoy characters who have a zeal for life, Lucy is it. Every time I watch this movie, she never ceases to put a smile on my face. I’m hoping she will do the same for you.


If you’ve seen 50 First Dates, what did you think of it? What did you think of Lucy?