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The following message came ’round the local nets this morning:

CBS Paramount television is filming a pilot titled “Washington Field.” For the filming, there will be a simulated explosion on Wednesday, March 25 between 9:30 a.m. and noon near the Key Bridge in the District. The explosion will produce a 20 to 30 ft. fireball that will last for approximately 2 minutes.

The explosion will take place on the Potomac River just north of the Key Bridge and Jack’s Boathouse (K & Water Street, N.W. under the Whitehurst Freeway). In the scene, there will be six sculling boats on the Potomac River and one of them blows up.

“Death Scull: 2009” – I love it.

UPDATE: Whoops! I see Mr. FLG already got the memo.

An interesting little piece on tracking the changes in the way the braim works on hitting adolescence:

Between ages 11 and 17, children’s brain waves reduce significantly while they sleep, a new study found. Scientists think this change reflects a trimming-down process going on inside teenagers’ brains during these years, where extraneous mental connections made during childhood are lost.

“When a child is born, their brain is not fully-formed, and over the first few years there’s a great proliferation of connections between cells,” said physiologist Ian Campbell of the University of California, Davis. “Over adolescence there is a pruning back of these connections. The brain decides which connections are important to keep, and which can be let go.”

Scientists call this process synaptic pruning, and speculate that the brain decides which neural links to keep based on how frequently they are used. Connections that are rarely called upon are deemed superfluous and eliminated. Sometimes in adolescence, that pruning process goes awry and important connections are lost, which could lead to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, the researchers think.

Brain pruning

Synaptic pruning is thought to help the brain transition from childhood, when it is able to learn and make new connections easily, to adulthood, when it is a bit more settled in its structure, but can focus on a single problem for longer and carry out more complex thought processes.

All I can say is that this gives one hope.  In the space of the past ten days or so, the gels have managed to lose the tee vee clicker, the key to the basement door and a sand dollar I keep on my dresser.   When I have tasked them with the whereabouts of these items, they’ve simply looked at me with a wild surmise, as if I’d asked them the specific gravity of cottage cheese when it’s singing “Batti, batti, o bel Masetto” at low tide on Thursdays.

And speaking of giving hope, I am encouraged by this as well:

In addition to changes that affect how they think, teenagers’ brains also undergo developments that affect how they feel. For example, during adolescence people begin to empathize more with others, and take into account how their actions will affect not just themselves, but people around them.

A 2006 study found that the teenage medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with higher-level thinking, empathy, and guilt, is underused compared to adults. But as adolescents mature, they begin to use this region more when making decisions, indicating that they increasingly consider others when making choices.

I have begun to fret recently about my own 11 year old’s apparent lack of sympathy or consideration for those around her.  (It’s a long story, but one of her classmates is having some issues.  The gel and her friends are responding with what can only be described as cruel harshness and my remonstrances seem to fall on deaf ears.)  I suppose I am especially touchy about this because the gel’s grandfather – who she resembles in so many other ways – never really shook this blindness.   It isn’t so much that I suffered for it but rayther that he did, and I don’t want to see her go down the same path.   Articles like this serve as a useful reminder that perhaps I am jumping the gun a bit in my concern.

I think I’d better lay off reading about geology in the evenings.  Last night I had another complex dream.  The only part I can recall had to do with diamond deposits and the forcing of kimberlite and lamproite to the surface of the earth from the magma core via thin “pipes” that literally spray the material like milk being blown out of a straw.   (Diamonds are made out of this stuff and apparently can only form due to the rapid cooling entailed in this process.  I was amazed to read how relatively unstable a mineral they are.)

Anyhoo, for some mysterious reason, our cat was pointing out just such a kimberlite pipe to me in the distance and telling me where to dig.


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March 2009