Random Topics

Historical Smoking, Coffee Naps, and Blog Writing & Babysitting

As a blogger, I mine my daily life for topics to write about. I set out to find something timely and meaningful, something that my readers can relate to, a universal message or lesson to discover in my lived experience. Another option is to choose a subject from the news of the day to comment on, however sometimes current events are tragically overwhelming, as in the gun violence and murders this week at a community college in Oregon, or the suicide of loved LGBTQ activist-youth who lost his battle with depression right here in Madison.  In these cases I need time to sit with my feelings and formulate my thoughts before putting fingers to keyboard.

I’m often left to choose from the mundane or subjects that pique my curiosity. When this happens, the only common theme is the randomness of my choices. Today I offer three random topics with absolutely no connection or relation to each other at least that I’m aware of at the outset of this essay. Perhaps as I write, I may discover the subtle relationships that bind them together. Life is like that.

Historical Smoking

One of the achievements I’m most proud of is quitting smoking. I became a daily cigarette smoker at the age of 17 and smoked for twenty years. I had experimented earlier as a younger teen in Racine, Wisconsin, attempting to be “cool” in the vernacular of the day. I smoked my very first cigarette, inhaling deeply, as encouraged by my new friends who were sometimes referred to as the Pierce Woods Hoods.

We stood in the back stairwell of Elmwood Plaza Bowling Lanes. I got so dizzy from that first cigarette I almost fell down the stairs. We proceeded to parade past the lanes in the smoke-filled alley like we had just walked out of Rebel Without a Cause.


It’s by no coincidence that I reference a film. First, I’m a cinephile, and I take every opportunity to use a movie as a touchstone or mile marker in telling stories about my life. Second, filmmakers historically romanticized smoking, and most likely were one of the first industries to use cigarettes as product placement and consumer culture influencers.  Today, Scenesmoking.org, a project of Breathe California, is designed to increase youth awareness of the impact on smoking imagery in movies and rates current movies. Another project is the Hackademy Awards, which calls out actors, actresses and movie studios based on their portrayals of tobacco onscreen.

Superman2Since 2007, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) in their movie ratings have included smoking as a film-rating factor. Language has been added to movie ratings such as “glamorized smoking” or “pervasive smoking.”  Another recent example is 2014’s The Monuments Men which was released with a PG-13 rating for images of war violence and “historical smoking.”

Today e-cigarette brands, which are not currently bound by laws governing paid-product placement of tobacco products in media, are now appearing in starring roles in movies, television and commercials.  There are now efforts to ban vaping product placements in television and movies. For a comprehensive look at vaping and it’s potential dangers, read this Watchdog report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “Gasping for Action.”


Coffee Naps

Like nicotine in cigarettes, caffeine is an addictive substance, often portrayed as a “pick me up,” a stimulant, and a study aid for students cramming for an exam. A cup of coffee, or two or three, is how many of us start the day. Read my ode to a Cup-a-Joe, Good Morning.

Needless to say, I was surprised to learn this week about a phenomenon called a Coffee Nap.  In a story posted on The Daily Beast entitled, Opposites Attract: The Power of the ‘Coffee Nap’ Explained, the author, Dave Asprey from his blog, Bulletproof described a window of opportunity after drinking a cup of coffee when you can take a power nap. Who knew?

Coffee has long been a lightning rod for both its positive qualities and its health dangers. Earlier this week, Tuesday, September 29th was declared Coffee Day, or National Coffee Day, while October 1st is considered by some countries to be International Coffee Day. Throughout the week you could read new studies exhorting the benefits of coffee drinking, or the flip side — how coffee can harm your health — or in the very least keep you awake at night.

So what exactly is a coffee nap? From Asprey’s article:

Photo Credit: Brian A. Jackson

Photo Credit: Brian A. Jackson

 “A quick coffee nap is an incredible way to boost energy and productivity during your day because of what goes on in your brain as it’s happening.

When you drink caffeine, it passes to your small intestine and gets absorbed into your bloodstream. It then kickstarts your brain chemistry by blocking receptors normally filled by similar energy transferring molecules of Adenosine, a chemical compound in your brain known for causing drowsiness.

Adenosine makes you feel sleepy by slowing down your brain’s nerve cell activity; so when caffeine binds to your receptors instead of Adenosine, the reverse happens.

When caffeine takes Adenosine’s place in the receptors, it has the opposite effect; the nerve cells speed up giving us that jolt of caffeine energy and focus.

So, what does any of that have to do with a 20-minute power nap? The brilliance of the coffee nap is that sleep naturally clears Adenosine from your brain. From the moment you drink your coffee to the moment you metabolize it is about 20 minutes of pure opportunity to not only rest, but to open up those Adenosine receptors to the caffeine you just imbibed.”

Blog Writing & Babysitting

Lastly, as I skimmed job postings for freelance writing opportunities and/or part-time jobs, I stumbled across this Craigslist ad. What caught my attention was the interesting — and I guess it would be fair to say random coupling of job duties.

“…childcare for three very fun boys, 6-year-old twins and a 2-year-old. The remaining time will be divided between blogging about current events and light household tasks (floor sweeping, etc.).”

“The political writing will consist of short, tabloid-style blog entries about the news from a conservative point of view.”

Read the ad below in its original text. Things that make you say h-m-m-m!

From craigslist Madison:

Blog writing and babysitting (Madison)

compensation: $18 per hour

employment type: part-time

About 75% of this job is evening childcare for three very fun boys, 6-year-old twins and a 2-year-old. The remaining time will be divided between blogging about current events and light household tasks (floor sweeping, etc.). Candidates must be available to work 3 or 4 evenings per week from 5:00 PM until 8:30 PM. The political writing will consist of short, tabloid-style blog entries about the news from a conservative point of view.

The location is on the west side of Madison, near the Whole Foods, and the specific days can be determined (partly) by the candidate.

Experience working with children.
Licensed driver with good driving record: one of the duties is picking the kids up from daycare. Owning a car is a plus.
Excellent writing skills.
Strong references.


I asked myself at the outset of this post, if there was some relationship that bound these random topics together.  I discovered that in each case, the topic was contradictory with itself; the logic was in conflict:

  • Smoking is “cool” and glamorized in media, and we must warn youth about the historical depiction of pervasive and dangerous smoking.
  • One can drink coffee to stay awake and have a cup of coffee to facilitate a power nap.
  • One can babysit three boys (six-year-old twins and a two-year-old) and blog about tabloid-style news from a conservative point of view — and sweep floors.

Who knew?

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2 thoughts on “Random Topics

  1. Annette says:

    I’ll babysit while you blog… : )

  2. Linda, I always enjoy your ability to parse your world!

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