Heat by Rob O’Neill

Being the Girlie

I’ve been a bit disillusioned with magazines recently. I can go into a newsagency and ferret around for a quarter of an hour and still come out empty-handed, which is strange as I used to love them. Is it them or is it me?

I’m occasionally tempted by a Vanity Fair, but never buy Loaded or FHM or any of that lad stuff any more. I don’t think it’s me. I think there is another type of magazine out there waiting to be invented, like Loaded in the 1980s, that will speak to us in some new way and engage us again.

The current crop just doesn’t cut it for me.

Anyway, I was doing a sweep of the stands the other day, on business mainly looking for the latest BusinessWeek, as it was proclaiming “E-biz Strikes Back”. I need to read that sort of stuff. Anyway, to my great surprise I came out with three magazines, the BusinessWeek, a copy of Time and a Wired, which I’ve never bought before.

I bought Time because it had a cover story on the teenage brain and how it works – or, more accurately, doesn’t work. Wired I’ve avoided over the years. While a brilliant mag in it’s early incarnation I couldn’t stand its salvationary tone and later it wasn’t brilliant any more. I bought this one because Peter Jackson was on the cover and that was enough to make me want to dip in – not that I particularly want to read yet another story about PJ.

Anyway, back to the alleged teenage brain.

The article explained why the Girlie spends so much time in bed. It isn’t because she’s a lazy little sod at all, it's because the teen brain secretes melatonin later at night. They stay up late and wake up late. There is also a theory teens require a lot of sleep to to enhance learning! This from PBS in the US:

Other experiments supplied more direct evidence that sleep is crucial for learning. Human subjects were trained to identify letters that appeared for a blink of an eye on a computer screen. Then, half of the subjects were sent home to sleep, while the other half were deprived of sleep for the entire night, and only then went home to rest. Two days later when all the subjects were already rested and refreshed, the scientists checked their ability to read the flashing letters. None of the participants were tired, and yet the people who went to sleep right after the training performed much better than the ones who went to sleep a day later. This suggests that the night sleep immediately after the activity was crucial for gaining the most from the training session. Without it, the training was much less effective.

Some reckon teens need 9 hours of sleep a night, and not the 7 and a half they now average. Needless to say this was a revelation to me as the Girlie regularly throws in fourteen or fifteen hour stretches in the sack.

She must be a genius!

Also teens don’t have the control mechanisms of adults. This is because the back of the brain matures first and the control centers last. These can still be maturing up to the age of 25 according to some scientists. Looking at most of my mates, they may want to stretch that one out to 45.

Anyway the article was fascinating and the conclusions explain a lot of stuff any parent knows intuitively. I’m looking forward to more research that will reveal the biological roots of needing to be surrounded by piles of dirty clothes and dishes that never find their way back to the kitchen. Perhaps there is a part of the brain or a hormone that controls this behaviour as well.

Anyway I've scored some tickets to the Bledisloe in August so the Girlie is happiness filled.

Last Saturday was spent down the Rose, a great little pub in Cleveland St between Glebe and Newtown, watching the Tahs bow out of the Super 12 in the traditional manner - losing to Queensland. there were a lot of kiwis about supporting the Queenslanders to keep the Blues up in the top four. In fact these included some Cantabrians, but I won't mention any names in case they want to go home some day.

Coming soon: Being Gordon King.