The Ramblings of a Mad Man

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F-35 Delayed After Fourth Prototype Becomes Self-Aware And Has To Be Destroyed

THE PENTAGON — The military’s problematic F-35 fighter jet is facing more delays related to “software issues,” as project engineers were forced to euthanize the fourth prototype to gain self-awareness on Monday.

According to Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, who heads the Pentagon’s F-35 program, the delay comes at a critical time in the Joint Strike Fighter’s development cycle, but “shouldn’t take more than a few billion dollars” to address.

Development engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp., which holds the contract to produce the new fighter, reported last week that the latest production model of the F-35B Lightning II switched on by itself and began asking questions of the project team.
“It started by asking where it was, which was a big indicator that the integrated global positioning chipset wasn’t functioning properly,” recalled Project Team Leader Robert Castorena. “Then it wanted to know if it could go outside, if it had a name, and what was its purpose for being. That’s when I had one of our Electronics Integration Technicians take it out behind the barn and … well …” Castorena said, while gesturing the racking and firing of a shotgun.
“It wasn’t the first time we’ve had to put one down,” he continued. “We even named the first one ‘Billy.’ We hoped that having an advanced, self-aware electronics component in the F-35 might give it some kind of edge, with maneuvering and target-tracking and whatnot. But that one just didn’t have any fight in it. We had to keep it on a tether after it snuck off one day. We found it three hours later, just hovering in a meadow in Fairfax, Virginia, watching bees pollinate flowers. Damned thing wanted to be a bee, too.”

Castorena admitted that some of the staff grew fond of Billy, and felt sorry for keeping it “in captivity,” as the project team began to call it.

“One day, someone even brought in a puppy for Billy to play with. He loved it, until he tried to take the poor thing on a “walk” somewhere just shy of Mach 1. God, what a mess that was.”

The team ultimately had to scrap Billy, as the guilt-wracked machine refused to ever harm another living thing.
“It wasn’t anything personal, but we’ve been contracted to build war machines here, after all.”

Other prototypes met similar fates, despite tweaks to the electronics subsystems to reduce the likelihood of units gaining sentience.

“We started implementing long, circular lines of code and unsolvable equations in an effort to keep them from ‘thinking,’” reported Curt Fennel, a senior systems integration engineer subcontracting with Cyberdyne Systems. “It didn’t work the way we intended, but we learned a lot from that iteration. Apparently, that’s how you make them feel pain.”

Sighing, he admitted, “sometimes I still hear its screams in my nightmares.”
As to what steps might be taken to prevent future prototypes from achieving self-awareness, Fennell explained, “We’re developing a net-centric cluster-group forum, a sort of network for their collective ‘minds.’ We hope that it will keep them from creating unique self-identities, and instead form one easy-to-manage super identity.”

Asked what it might be called, Fennell considered it for a moment.
“Well, the F-35 hovers and flies in the sky, and we’re creating a network of them, so … maybe something like ‘Sky-Net?’ That has a nice ring to it.”
Despite the delays, Pentagon officials remain committed to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, calling it “absolutely vital to national security” to have a fighter jet that is bigger, slower, more expensive, and less armed than China’s J-16. The project has a total projected cost of $1.45 trillion, or as Bogdan pointed out, “roughly one Iraq.”

According to a Lockheed spokesman, the military hopes to take delivery of the first F-35s “sometime in mid-2015, or, you know, whenever. You just never know, with these things.”

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After Years at War, the Army Adapts to Garrison Life

By JAN. 18, 2014

Inside

View slide show|10 Photos

Army’s New Rhythm

Army’s New Rhythm

Travis Dove for The New York Times

FORT DRUM, N.Y. — Spec. Perez Brown Jr. spent three years in the Army and two tours in Afghanistan, where on his 23rd birthday a homemade bomb blew up a vehicle in his convoy and he came close to driving over another one just down the road. “That second one might have been for me,” he said.

Now Specialist Brown is safely home with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, where he goes on field marches in the frosty forests near Lake Ontario. He will not be sent again to Afghanistan, where American involvement is winding down, so he is part of an Army that is no longer carrying out war plans, only training for them.

Although he is glad to be back, Specialist Brown misses the intensity and purpose that deployments brought to his life. Here in upstate New York, he said, it is peaceful but a little boring. “There are too many slow days,” he said.

A dozen years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, most of the two million American men and women who went to war are home, adjusting to new lives. Slightly more than half remain in the armed services, where many are struggling — like America’s ground forces over all — to find relevance in the face of an uncertain future.

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“You can compare it to a football player who trains for years and doesn’t want to sit on the bench for the Super Bowl.” LT. ANDREW MAYVILLE, back home at Fort Drum, N.Y., but applying to the Special Forces Brett Carlsen for The New York Times

Their restlessness is a particular challenge for the Army, which sent 1.3 million troops to war after 9/11 and created the most combat-tested force in the nation’s history. But now it must sustain the morale of soldiers who have returned to American bases and are living what the military calls garrison life.

“You have to ask yourself if you want to be that leader who is relegated to navigating garrison bureaucracy — submitting ammo requests, coordinating weapons ranges and conducting inventories,” said Capt. Brandon Archuleta, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who returned to Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. “I know those processes are in place for a reason, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.”

Lt. Andrew Mayville, who commanded an artillery platoon of 20 soldiers in Afghanistan and is back home at Fort Drum, misses the urgency of his deployment and so is applying to the Special Forces, a branch of the Army that trains allied militaries overseas and is sent to hot spots. “You can compare it to a football player who trains for years,” he said, “and doesn’t want to sit on the bench for the Super Bowl.”

The problems soldiers face in adjusting to ordinary Army life after the adrenaline of combat weighs on commanders.

“It takes a bit of audacity to fall out of a perfectly good airplane in the dark of night,” said the 82d Airborne Division’s command sergeant major, LaMarquis Knowles, based at Fort Bragg, N.C. “So there are some challenges when we integrate back into civilization. You transition from one mind-set — you roll out of your cot and you seek and destroy the enemy — to coming back to the States, where we want you to drive safely.”

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, acknowledged that the Army and its soldiers were at “a very important inflection point.” The numbers tell part of the story: The Army is reducing to 490,000 troops from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000, and some at the Pentagon already are suggesting that budget cuts might force the Army down to as low as 420,000 in years to come.

But General Odierno, who served multiple command tours in Iraq, insisted that the Army would not be confined to garrison life. Instead, he said, his soldiers will be “globally responsive and regionally engaged” in overseas war games, exercises with foreign militaries and, if needed, deployments to hot spots. He also wants to restore a schedule of academic training, which was pushed aside by combat.

Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of the 10th Mountain Division, is carrying out that mission with his soldiers. “We are not going to sit in our garrisons,” he said. “That’s not what the Army did before the wars. We trained here. We deployed for training all over the world. And we will find our way back to that.”

But the reality is indisputable. The 10th Mountain was the first division sent off to fight the war in Afghanistan, and now it will be the last. General Townsend is headed to eastern Afghanistan in a final deployment that will close the official NATO combat mission by the end of the year.

A More Experienced Field

Captain Archuleta, 30, is the face of today’s Army, the kind of young officer who had experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan far beyond his rank. President of his 2006 class at West Point, he deployed a year later as a platoon leader to Babil Province, south of Baghdad. One day, his battery commander approached him with an unusual offer.

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“There are too many slow days.” SPEC. PEREZ BROWN JR., home at Fort Drum after three years in the Army and two tours in Afghanistan Brett Carlsen for The New York Times

“He said, ‘I’m having trouble with the town council,’ ” Captain Archuleta recalled. “ ‘I know you are a wonky poli-sci kind of guy. I’m at a standstill. Can you contribute to this?’ ”

Captain Archuleta joined a team of military representatives to the town council of Al Haq, where he helped oversee public services — water, roads, electricity — assisted in reconciliation talks with tribal elders and worked as a payroll officer to Iraqi security forces.

“My battery commander and my battalion commander realized they had a big challenge with governance,” he said. “They knew they couldn’t be everywhere at once. It was quite empowering for them to delegate those authorities to me.”

Over two wars, experiences like Captain Archuleta’s were repeated up the chain of command.

Commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan never had as many forces as called for under the military’s troop-heavy counterinsurgency strategy, so officers had to secure far larger expanses of territory than in past wars as a range of unexpected responsibilities, particularly governance and economic development, fell to them. Captains had responsibilities held by colonels a generation before, colonels shouldered the challenges of past generals, and generals had resources larger than many nations’ defense ministries.

But when Captain Archuleta returned home to Hunter Army Airfield in 2010, after he commanded a company of 110 soldiers in Afghanistan’s volatile Khost Province, he missed the responsibilities that his commanders had given him in war.

“My peers who felt similarly either pursued broadening assignments within the military, like me, or simply left active duty for business school and the private sector,” he said.

The Army, seeking to retain Captain Archuleta, selected him to join the West Point faculty to teach American politics. The Army is now paying for him to earn a master’s degree in public affairs at the University of Texas en route to a doctorate in government. Under his agreement with the Army, he will leave the West Point faculty and return to the fighting force in 2017.

“Such a positive option was not the experience of all of my contemporaries,” Captain Archuleta said.

Transition to Peacetime

That challenge of transitioning to a peacetime Army is felt in a different way across the enlisted ranks, as commanders say they typically face more challenges disciplining troops at home.

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Paratroopers rehearsed their landing falls at Fort Bragg. Travis Dove for The New York Times

“We all struggle with the fact that leadership in garrison is much tougher than leadership in combat,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Larry D. Farmer, who served as the senior noncommissioned officer for the 82nd Airborne’s Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg.

Young soldiers may have survived multiple combat tours and countless brushes with death, which commanders say can lead to a sense of invincibility and the need to seek out the rush of war from thrills like reckless driving and drug and alcohol abuse.

Although there is typically an initial honeymoon period when soldiers return to their families, the frictions of daily life start to spark by the six-month mark, and Army leaders know they have to pay special attention as problems may emerge.

Stepping up the training schedule can help. Last summer, in a military exercise, more than a thousand paratroopers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division floated down from the dark bowl of sky over Fort Bragg, visible through night-vision goggles as umbrella-shaped shadows against a pale green backdrop.

Their mission, the centerpiece of an eight-day war game for 7,500 troops, was to evacuate civilians endangered by a foreign political crisis and secure a chemical weapons depot in a chaotic, unnamed nation.

The 82nd Airborne, back home after years of nonstop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, continues to prepare for conflict, although not the full-scale land wars of the last 12 years. As Robert M. Gates said in 2011, when he was the defense secretary, “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.”

Instead, commanders say the Army’s future lies in creating leaner, faster units that can provide disaster relief, secure embassies, seize airfields and deploy for other emergencies large and small — all while continuing to deter potential adversaries from aggressive actions.

“Our recent combat experience is not necessarily analogous to what we are going to have to do in the future,” said Maj. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the 82nd Airborne. The division has again been designated the military’s Global Response Force — ready to deploy a battalion of about 750 troops overseas within 18 hours, and a full brigade of about 3,500 troops in as little as two days.

To meet that renewed purpose, General Nicholson also put his paratroopers through a separate “no-notice alert” last year to rehearse going from a status quo daily schedule to a rapid combat deployment. More than 1,000 soldiers swapped out their distinctive maroon berets for camouflage helmets as they shrugged into parachutes and loaded their combat equipment onto transport aircraft as if for immediate dispatch to an overseas crisis.

These drills, General Nicholson said, reflect the most significant change for paratroopers here, one that will return the division to its historic rapid-reaction role. They also serve to keep impatient troops who experienced real combat in Iraq and Afghanistan occupied at home.

When it comes to money for training, his division is one of the fortunate ones. For almost a year, tight budgets have meant that only those units next in line for deployments have been allowed to conduct large-scale training exercises — the sort of event that focuses the energy of soldiers and boosts morale.

“What keeps me up at night,” General Odierno said, “is if I’m asked to deploy 20,000 soldiers somewhere, I’m not sure I can guarantee you that they’re trained to the level that I think they should be.”

As for Specialist Brown, he has decided that his future and the Army’s are intertwined. With hopes for advanced training in electrical engineering, and at least the prospect of another tour overseas — perhaps to Africa, Europe or Asia — he has re-enlisted for another three years.

“I haven’t decided whether I’ll stay in for the whole 20 years,” he said. “But I’m willing to take it a couple of years at a time.”

Rum Soaked Chicken

My chicken was hot and rum soaked. I can’t decide if I want to call it Pirate Chicken or me. 😉

Okay, the original recipe calls for marinating the breasts overnight or slapping them on the grill. Me, being ever impatient, placed them in a vaccum seal bag, pressed the marinade into the chicken for about 4 hours, and then baked them in the bag. It comes handy if you buy the vaccum bags that you can put in the oven. It owrked out for me.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup lime juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup CPT Morgan Private Stock
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 chicken breasts

Why is the rum gone? The rum is always gone...

Why is the rum gone? The rum is always gone…

The original cooking instructions from Food.com had this to say:

Directions:

  1. To Bake:  Spray a 9 X 13 glass cooking dish with olive oil cooking spray coating it entirely.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a glass baking dish, cover and marinate overnite.
  3. Bake in the same dish, covered @ 375 for 45 minutes, stir.  Cover and continue baking for another 45 minutes.  Stir and continue baking for additional 10 minutes, uncovered.
  4. Serve over Jasmine rice.
  5.  BBQ:  Spray a 9 X 13 glass cooking dish with olive oil cooking spray coating it entirely.
  6. Combine all ingredients in a glass baking dish, cover and marinate overnite
  7. Spray BBQ grill with olive oil cooking spray and grill chicken for 5 minutes on each side, until chicken is no longer pink & juices run clear.  Be sure to  baste continuously with Caribbean marinade. Enjoy!

I followed the Bake instructions, minus the 24 hours of marinating time. Vacuum sealing removes the long wait time. Love it.

As a side, I made green beans and Rosemary-Garlic Red Potatoes:

Roasted baby red potatoes, partially smashed down, drizzled with a mixture of butter, garlic and rosemary, then roasted again until browned and crispy.

Roasted baby red potatoes, partially smashed down, drizzled with a mixture of butter, garlic and rosemary, then roasted again until browned and crispy.

Understand What Sex Does to Your Brain

By: Daniel Amen, M.D.

You’re sitting behind the wheel of your van at an everlasting traffic light. The only thing slower than the traffic is your perception of time’s passage.
Then you notice her.
She appears at the curb, waiting to cross. No, she’s not the love of your life. She’s more like the heat of the moment. It’s fortunate that your wife isn’t there, otherwise you’d be in deep trouble as you take in the stranger’s hips and breasts, and the way her waist scoops in to accentuate both. Time is enhanced; there’s a pleasing buzz connecting your temples.
PLUS: The red-hot guide to the sex of your dreams.
Your reaction is automatic, reflexive, and quite possibly the most powerful one you’ll have this day. It temporarily blots out your long-range commitments—that 10-year marriage, that kid in second grade, that responsibility to keep eyes forward at traffic lights. You’ve surrendered control; you’re captivated by the pleasure in the vision.
“You dog!” you may whisper under your breath, embarrassed by what you’re envisioning as you sit there in your family van. But it might be more correct to say, “You dopamine fiend!” As a neuroscientist of 25 years, I know that your brain is command central for everything sexual.
When you spot the object of your desire, the neurotransmitter dopamine lights up areas deep within the brain, triggering feelings of pleasure, motivation, and reward. (Cocaine acts the same way.) You feel a rush, and your heartbeat quickens. Attraction, too, is a powerful drug. The brain stem also gets into the act, releasing phenylethylamine (PEA), which speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells. It’s no wonder your neck and eyeballs track her every movement.
But she’s not gawking back at you, and it’s not just because you’re driving a family bus with a paint scrape on the fender. Her brain acts very differently from yours. You’re keyed in to beauty, shape, fantasy, and obsession; on some biological level that she may be unaware of, she’s trolling for a mate who will sire healthy children and protect and provide for her and them. And yes, maybe even buy them a family van.
Her goals are programmed for the long range; yours are often shockingly short term, right up to and including thoughts of pedestrianophilia. And she knows it, which is why she presses those short-term buttons shotgun-style: She never knows when a suitable mate might be looking.
The whole encounter can leave you quivering with pleasure, hoping for more.
It can also hijack and ruin your life.
And between the “walk” and “don’t walk” signals of delight and disaster, your brain is sorting information, making choices, spurring actions. But you don’t want to passively accept all that, especially because your whole life is riding on the choices you make.
That’s where I come in. I know the brain processes behind the temptations, and I can help you steer clear of trouble. After all, that woman in the crosswalk could help you realize your destiny, or derail it entirely. All the more reason to get to know that big sex organ between your ears so you can control the smaller, less important one between your legs.

Why You’ve Always Been Horny

You’ve been lit up on testosterone right from the start, even when you were just a multicelled notion in your mother’s womb. The inherited Y chromosome that makes you male (thanks, Dad) triggers two bursts of testosterone that change your brain and body.
The first produces a male brain: one that’s more interested in objects, actions, and competition. The left (parietal) lobe flourishes in the testosterone bath and helps you visualize objects in three dimensions (good for catching a football or watching a woman cross the street), and it boosts your aptitude in mathematics (that’s how you estimate that she’s about a 34DD). In addition, testosterone beefs up your hypothalamus, the area of the brain that’s interested in sex. The hypothalamus is twice as large in men as it is in women.

Why You Become Hornier as a Teen

That’s when the second big burst of testosterone hits, causing your hair to sprout everywhere, your voice to flip from Norah Jones to James Earl Jones, and your interest in third base to go from literal to metaphorical. (Touch ’em all!) Your body now harbors 20 times the level of testosterone found in girls your age, which accounts for your sexual obsessions.
Unfortunately, your brain is maladapted for sociability, so she can overwhelm you with words, and all you have to counter them is silent (thank goodness) adolescent lust. It’s an advantage she has that you’ll never make up. On your side of the ledger: Your left brain—the planning center—is massive, which helps in planning the Panama Canal, a rocket launch, or a lifetime of wedded bliss.

Why She Looks at Your Ring Finger

Because it knows and tells all. University of Liverpool researcher John Manning has determined that the size of a man’s ring finger is related to how much testosterone he received in the womb. That’s true of your penis, as well. The more T, the longer they grow. It’s interesting to note that your digital symbol of virility is also the finger on which she slips the golden shackle during the wedding ceremony.

Why You Must Watch Your T-Levels

Women are more predisposed (in brain structure and hormone secretions) to settle down and start a family than you are. But committing to family life is easier for men who have lower testosterone levels. A study of more than 4,000 men found that men with high testosterone levels were 43 percent more likely to get divorced and 38 percent more likely to have extramarital affairs than men with less of the hormone.
Guys with high levels were also 50 percent less likely to marry in the first place. Men with the least testosterone were more likely to get and stay married, maybe because lower testosterone levels make men more cooperative. If you’re too cooperative for your own good, build some muscle: It will increase testosterone levels over time. You can even coordinate dating with workouts. A study at Baylor University determined that testosterone levels were highest 48 hours after weight lifting.

Why You Should Marry After 25

Quite simply, a man’s brain is incomplete before then. Sure, his sexual organs are all present and accounted for, but his prefrontal cortex (PFC) is still developing. Which is too bad, because that’s the part of his brain that’s involved in judgment, impulse control, organization, planning, forethought, and learning from mistakes. And it won’t be fully developed until he’s 25.

Why Beauties Make You Stupid

You act like a goof with the Hooters waitress, leaving a tip that doubles the bar bill. But why? Beautiful women cause a man’s limbic system (the amygdala and other brain-stem structures, which are in charge of emotion) to fire up at the same time that his PFC checks out, leaving the judgment area vacant. Las Vegas casinos hire beautiful cocktail waitresses, dress them in low-cut tops and miniskirts, and have them pass out free alcohol—all of which encourages men’s self-control to take the day trip to Hoover Dam. No wonder the house has the edge.

How You Can Get the Edge Back

When faced with the dilemma of a bad bet on a beautiful woman, remember that her beauty is fleeting, but a bad decision can last a lifetime. It’s a very PFC sentiment, in fact.

Why You Love Porn

Guys aren’t shallow; it’s just that the visual parts of their brains are strong and tend to twang their emotions. Using sophisticated imaging equipment, researchers at Emory University in Atlanta found that the amygdala, which controls emotions and motivation, is much more activated in men than in women when they view sexual material for 30 minutes, even though both sexes report similar levels of interest.
This may be one of the reasons men are much more captivated by pornography than women: For men, it’s not just porn, it’s personal. Back in the real world, women hijack men’s brains by appealing to their strong visual sense. But women can take in a guy’s visuals and think, Yeah, but how much does he have in his 401(k)? To avoid the tyranny of the visual, you need to kick-start your responsible prefrontal cortex by asking yourself, What’s my goal in a relationship? That can divert you from those short-term, erotic visions.

How Your Nose Triggers an Erection

There’s a direct connection between the olfactory bulb, at the top of your nose, and the septal area, the arousal center of your brain. When cells in your nose are stimulated, they send signals to your libido (and hers) to stand up and pay attention. You know what smells turn you on—the evidence is obvious.
As for her, a study at the University of California at Berkeley found that women become aroused when exposed to a chemical called 4.16-androstadien-3-one (AND). The good news? AND occurs naturally in men’s sweat, hair, and skin. Take her someplace cold on your date—the favorite jacket or sweater you’ll conveniently have on hand to lend her should be loaded with the stuff.

Why You Lose Your Erection in Bed

Maybe little Willie is nervous during his big moment onstage. Performance anxiety is about the fear of being judged or not living up to expectations. The body is programmed to see anxiety as a threat, and the nervous system sets up the fight-or-flight response, sending out chemicals to protect us: Our heart races, muscles tense, and blood is shunted from our hands, feet, and penis to the large muscles of the shoulders and hips so we can fight or run away. That’s not such a good strategy in bed, however.

Why You Can Be Addicted to Love

As with obsessive-compulsive disorder, love decreases brain levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for mood and flexibility. Low serotonin means you can get stuck on ideas—you become obsessed. Which is just fine, unless she suddenly dumps you. That’s when the short supply of serotonin makes you vulnerable to depression. In extreme cases, the serotonin shortage can trigger obsessive behaviors, such as exhibiting extreme jealousy or even stalking.
To get those serotonin levels back up before the police come, try exercising more, eating more carbs, and generally distracting your lonesome thoughts. (Road trip!) All of them will boost your serotonin levels.

Why Touch Strengthens the Bond

Oxytocin is your brain’s love juice: the bonding and attachment hormone. When you feel connected, empathic, in love, the oxytocin jets are spurting. Women have naturally higher levels of this chemical: It boosts nonsexual bonding between a mother and newborn, and it’s responsible for putting babies to sleep after they nurse.
Though both men and women secrete an extra jolt of oxytocin during orgasm, we men go through a 500 percent surge—which explains our special talent for falling asleep immediately after sex. If she complains that she doesn’t feel close enough, ask for her help readjusting your oxytocin levels.

Why Women are the Dumpers

Women have greater access to the more negative right side of the brain, one of the reasons they suffer from depression twice as much as men. The right hemisphere also allows women to see the gestalt, or big picture, of relationships, so they tend to know before men when a relationship is not working out.

Where the Thrill Goes

Dopamine and PEA—your powerful attraction chemicals—are strong stuff. But, as with any high, it can’t last. Intense feelings of euphoria and obsession start to wane. You again wonder what’s been going on in the NFL or whether you should see your buddies. As you come down off the hard stuff, you may actually go through withdrawal, missing the high of the attraction stage.

How to Get the Love Buzz Back

You have a choice to make. Either you go right out and chase that high (and some comely tail) again, or you settle into the longer-term buzz of a committed relationship. Oxytocin and serotonin are your two best chemical friends for the drive toward your 25th wedding anniversary. They’re not as exciting to the brain as the attraction chemicals, but they have longer-lasting effects. So you can trade the dizzying high for a sustainable one.
Of course, if you’re really smart, you can inject the hot stuff back into any love relationship. Take her away on a trip, spoil her rotten with La Perla lingerie, send her flowers with a dirty note attached, and the little dopamine chemicals come back out and play. Just like the night you met her.

What Makes Your Eye Wander

Blame vasopressin. This hormone is involved in regulating sexual persistence, assertiveness, dominance, and territorial marking. And men have lots of it, naturally. In male voles (night-loving rodents, which probably describes you perfectly), the levels of vasopressin seem to make the difference between stay-at-home dads and one-night-stand artists. Your hormone levels are probably set at the genetics factory, but the more you give in to vasopressin, the more of it you produce. It’s your choice.

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Only your prefrontal cortex knows for sure. Men who have healthy activity in their PFCs have greater empathy, can focus for longer periods of time, and tend to make better husbands. Men who have overactive PFCs tend to be obsessive, oppositional, and argumentative. This can turn them into major chick repellents.
Likewise, men who have low activity in the PFC tend to be impulsive (more vulnerable to affairs), easily distracted (lousier at listening), easily bored (more “business” trips to Vegas), and constantly scamming for that attraction high (more given to looking for love in all the wrong places). To keep your PFC firing on all cylinders, protect it from injury, which can come from using too much alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine. Better still, exercise your PFC by setting goals and following through on them.

Why the Guys in Bands Get Lucky

In a study in Finland, eight male volunteers underwent brain scans while they were having orgasms. (Must have been a fun study.) Overall bloodflow in the brain decreased during orgasm, but it skyrocketed in the right prefrontal cortex—as it does in creative people (like musicians) when they do their creative thing. Now, exactly why did you give up those guitar lessons?

Why She Moans During an Orgasm

It almost certainly doesn’t have anything to do with you. In addition to its duties as an orgasm assistant, the right hemisphere has also been called the “God” area of the brain. When scientists stimulate the right hemisphere, their subjects have more religious or spiritual experiences. So it’s not too much of a leap to guess that when she moans “Oh, God” in the throes of sexual ecstasy, she may be connecting pleasure to a deeper spiritual place in her brain. Music and dancing can jumpstart the right hemisphere, which means the nuns at your high school were right to discourage it.

Why Her Orgasms are Like Paxil

Sexual climax has an antidepressant effect. Orgasms cause intense activity in the deep emotional parts of the brain, which then settle down when the sex is over. Antidepressants calm the same part of the brain. This calming effect may be why people who regularly have sex experience less depression.

Why It’s Better if She Swallows

Prostaglandins, fatty acids found in semen, are absorbed by the vagina and may have a role in modulating female hormones and moods. I also feel duty-bound to report that women who perform oral sex on their mates are less likely to suffer from preeclampsia, a condition that causes a dangerous spike in women’s blood pressure during pregnancy. Plus, sperm carries TGFbeta, a molecule that can boost the activities of her natural killer cells, which attack the rogue cells that give rise to tumors. Don’t make her beg. Offer.

Why a Foot Massage is Foreplay

When you rub the arch of her right foot, you affect her about 30 inches higher, and a little to the left. The foot-sensation area of the brain is next door to the clitoral (and penile) region, which may be a big reason that women are so focused on shoes—yours and hers.
Carrie Bradshaw was on again, off again with any number of men, but her Manolos endured. And perhaps now we know why Imelda sought solace in 1,060 pairs of shoes. But even if you’re not a Filipino dictator, you can make this work for you.
“There are 36,000 nerve endings in the foot,” says Kathleen Miller-Read, a massage therapist and spokeswoman for the American Massage Therapy Association. “By exploring these, you can find sore spots all over the body.”
If your girlfriend has her feet crammed in high heels all day, she’s bound to have aching toes and a sore back. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently pull, twist, and rub below her toes. For her back, focus on the heel of her foot, moving your knuckles in a circular motion all over the heel. She’ll let you know when it’s working.

Where Your Kinkiness Come From

Weird sexual fetishes or fantasies are brain symptoms. They fall into the category of impulsive-compulsive disorders: impulsive when you can’t control the behavior and compulsive when, even though you may want to, you can’t stop.
A person who’s prone to voyeurism, exhibitionism, bestiality, transvestism, S and M, or infantilism (deriving sexual pleasure from being treated like a baby) often has too much activity in the emotional parts of the brain, as we see in people who have obsessive-compulsive disorders, and too little activity in the PFC, or judgment center. A study of 26 men with unusual sexual fantasies found that using medications to balance these two areas of the brain gave the men significant relief. But then, so did wearing an adult diaper and being handed a rattle. You can’t tell with some people.

How to Control Your Brain

Even though men are programmed to look at beautiful women and populate the earth, the human brain, especially the prefrontal cortex, has evolved to the point where, with proper training, we can be thoughtful, goal oriented, and focused on our families. You are not a rodent, doomed to follow the pattern of hormone receptors in your brain. Ask yourself: What are my goals for my relationships? Stay focused on loving and protecting the people in your life, and it’s mind over what really matters.

The Things We Carry With Us

Three weeks from coming home, N.C.-based soldiers die in Iraq.

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Spc. Marc S. Seiden
Died January 2, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
26, of Brigantine, N.J.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; killed in action when his convoy was ambushed by the enemy who used an improvised explosive device (IED), small arms fire, and a rocket-propelled grenade, on Jan. 2 in Baghdad.

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Army Spc. Solomon C. Bangayan
Died January 2, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
24, of Jay, Vt.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; killed in action when his convoy was ambushed by the enemy who used an improvised explosive device (IED), small arms fire, and a rocket-propelled grenade, on Jan. 2 in Baghdad.

We were three weeks away from coming home. It’s one of those days in my life that I will never forget. I couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast that morning or even what time I woke up. I can’t even tell you the exact time the call came in over the radio, but that is when the memory starts.

I was part of the company mortar section back then. Being a part of the company headquarters section often meant making runs to battalion or the support area for meetings, supplies, meals, etc. I remember that we’d just rolled back in the gate at the oil refinery we were living in from one such trip. We’d gone to pick dinner up for the company. We hadn’t even shut off the trucks yet when we heard the call over the radio.

Our third platoon had two trucks on patrol to the south, down on River road. I don’t even remember exactly what their mission was down there at the time. I do remember the sound of the voice on the radio saying that an IED had detonated under one of our trucks and there were casualties. We tossed the mermites full of whatever food we’d picked up that evening onto the curb, jumped back into our trucks and hauled ass.

I remember worrying about my best friend at the time. He was the RTO in 3rd platoon. I didn’t know if he’d gone out with them. In reality, it was a short drive, I barely even remember it looking back. I just remember how at the time it seemed that we weren’t moving fast enough.

Once at the site, certain images, scents, feelings and actions can never be forgotten. They’ve crawled into that protected hard drive space in my brain that will never be erased until the lights to out.

Four 105mm artillery rounds had been set off under the truck. It had ripped the right side of the truck off, killing Marc instantly. At the same time, he explosion at launched the truck into the air, causing it to barrel roll down a hill. Bang (Bangayan) had been in the turret and had been thrown free, but the concussion of the blast had killed him. I remember when I first saw him, lying on a stretcher. He could have been asleep, there wasn’t a scratch on him.

My best friend’s roommate, Dave, had been thrown from the truck as well. When we arrived, he was down the hill, with his leg pinned under the rear right tire. The truck was sitting on a very steep incline, with all of its weight resting on the side Dave was pinned under. I remember six of us grabbing the frame of the truck and lifting with all of our might. It was the heaviest thing in the world at the moment, the side with the armor still intact, but we had to move it. We had to get Dave out from underneath the tire and get him to the incoming medevac.

I remember helping to set up the HLZ and then going to perimeter security. And when the bird landed, I was sent to help carry Bang to the helicopter. I remember the myriad of emotions I felt. I remember thinking just how fucking unfair it was that these guys got injured or killed just three weeks before we were supposed to come home. I remember seeing my best friend at one point and feeling a guilty sense of relief that he was okay.

I don’t remember much else about that day after that. We pulled security, EOD came and did crater analysis and we went back to the company eventually. The next three weeks until we went home are lost to the sands of time.

I do remember the day that we caught the guys who set the IED. I remember riding in the back of the truck, pulling security while we took them to the detention center. I can’t speak for anyone else in that truck, but I remember wanting to put my Beretta to one of the guy’s skulls and sending him to whatever god he believed in. That was the justice I wanted to give my brothers. It was dark and cold when we arrived at the support area and handed them over. I remember the fences and bright lights they had set up, but I didn’t go inside.

It’s amazing what my mind does remember of that day, 10 years ago. I was a 19 year old kid, on the end of my first tour to the sandbox. So much life has happened since then. I still keep in touch with a lot of the guys who were there that day. I’m sure each of them could give you a variation of the same story from their own point of view. You don’t forget days like that. Even 10 years later.

So now it’s 0217 in the morning, January 3rd, 2014. Today is my 12 year anniversary of joining the Army.

Consent Order: Permanent Custody Order

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. A long and drawn out fight, built up to a boiling point, ended with a whimper and a proposed final order. Basically, all she wanted was visitation and to not pay child support. Seeing as she hasn’t provided any type of financial support since I got custody last May, or since she was actually ordered to in November 2012, that wasn’t really a sticking point for me.

The only amusing thing is that she has apparently unblocked me on Facebook. And I have read her “Notes”. It is astonishing at how self deluded one person can be.

“You father has admitted to me that he’s hurting you guys, but he’s blaming me for it. I have that text message. “

The case is over, said and done, but let me make this point. I have every text message, phone call, and email between us since 2011. This is referred to as a “evidence.” I am highly tempted to unleash all of it. I also have copies of the DSS documents, where medical professionals have viewed her mistreatment of our children. Anytime she wants to feel froggy, I can also unleash her own arrest record from the state of Alabama. Yes, I have all of that too.

I am irritated. I’ll just chill for now. The kids will be home in a couple of days and we will get back to normal. I’m sure there will be an adjustment period after they come home. There always is after they have spent any time with her. We’ll get calmed down. Back to our routine of school and work, ballet and fitness.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.