The only furniture you need is a single smooth stone that reminds you of your mother

Mallory Ortberg expertly skewers the weird de-cluttering dogma of Marie Kondo's bestselling Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: "It’s important to be very rich but have almost no items in your home." Read the rest

Video escape: Lantern-floating ceremony to honor the dead, Honolulu, Hawaii

A beautiful way to honor loved ones who have died.
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5 strangely comforting gifs

Some days are harder than others. And on the harder days, you need GIFs. Read the rest

Video: The Pinky Show, "The Desert is Quiet"

[Video Link] Hard to explain this web series, and this particular episode. Cats. Philosophy. Emptiness. Best to just watch. (via Andrea James) Read the rest

Zapping the brain into "expert" mode

The "flow state" is how neuroscience researchers describe that zone you can get into when you're doing something that you've become highly skilled at. It's a zen-like place in your brain — that state where you lose track of time doing something that you enjoy doing for its own sake, and where the job of doing the task seems to become something you don't even have to think about. You just do it, and you do it right.

The catch, of course, is that usually it takes a lot of heavy work to get to the point where the flow can take over. This is where Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours of practice comes into play. But, over the years, scientists have learned that there are some ways around that 10,000-hour rule. Some people just seem to pick up on the flow easier than others, for instance.

If your brain isn't just naturally inclined toward the flow, though, there is the option of zapping it into line. This is called transcranial direct current stimulation—basically running a very small electric current through specific parts of the brain. In some studies, and for some tasks, it's been shown to induce a feeling very much like a flow state, and possibly make it easier for people to get to a high level of skill faster. Last spring, Pesco wrote about some of the research that's being conducted on this intriguing but still-not-proven technique. Recently, New Scientist reporter Sally Adee tried it out, and saw a significant short-term improvement in her ability to spot and hit targets in a video shooter game. Read the rest

Mariachis serenade beluga whale

There. Just enough happiness to get you out the door to work this morning.

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Big thanks to Mr. Nathan Chervek!

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