Friday, December 16, 2005


The winter solstice is fast approaching and I wanted to remind everyone to eat their cheese.

Because the earth is tilted on its axis, the northern and southern hemispheres do not enjoy equal access to the sun’s light and heat year round. So we have to SHARE. If only the folks in the Middle East could work on the same principle, there’d be a whole lot more peace. Half the year Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, the other half the year it belongs to the Muslims. See how the earth does it with the sun? It’s easy!

But back to our place in the cosmos. While one half of our spinning orb is blessed with extra sunshine this time of the year, the other is cursed with bonus darkness. And that added darkness can really add up. In fact, a lot of people end up suffering from something called Seasonal Affective Disorder this time of year. It’s a condition caused by lack of exposure to natural sunlight…combined, of course, with all the normal shit that makes this time of year suck: long lines, bad traffic, crappy customer service, slush, sub-zero wind chills, retail stampedes, strollers at the mall, annoying commercial jingles playing over and over and over again, advertisers trying to convince me that giving a Lexus as a gift is a good idea, etc. Never mind the decrease in sunlight, rampant seasonal consumerism is depressing enough!

But Seasonal Affective Disorder is real, and people suffering from it report having many of the symptoms of clinical depression:

- Constant buzzkill sensation
- Excessive sleeping
- Excessive eating
- Weight gain
- Craving for strarchy, sugary foods
- Lack of motivation
- General intolerance for Ben Affleck

If this short list describes you, fear not – the symptoms typically subside come March. That's when panic usually kicks in as you realize you've got just 60 days to squeeze into a bathing suit.

So why is S.A.D. such a common phenomenon? As the seasons change, so do our circadian rhythms. Circadian Rhythms are the body’s normal changes over a 24-hour period. Most of these changes are automatic, controlled by a biological clock we aren’t even aware is ticking. Your clock helps regulate things like body temperature, hormones, sleep patterns, feeding patterns, cell regeneration, and much more. As our exposure to sunlight changes, our biorhythms adjust accordingly. For example, the body’s level of melatonin typically increases with darkness, making us feel naturally drowsy. If it gets darker earlier, we get sleepier earlier as a result. That’s one of the reasons we feel so damn lethargic in the dead of winter. As the sun goes down, we find ourselves POOPING out instead of going out.

Here’s an interesting side note. Through light deprivation experiments, scientists have learned something I find creepy. Our biological clocks actually operate on a 25-hour cycle, not 24. So it’s only natural that we’re gong to be off from time to time. Or is it? Why are we set to a 25 hour cycle when our days are and always have been 24 hours? Is that a magic number of some kind? There’s a screenplay in this – I can feel it.

Anyhow, for those of us stuck in the northern hemisphere this time of year, we’re fast approaching what will be our farthest point from the sun. It occurs every year between December 20 and 22 and is called the winter solstice. You and I know it as the shortest day of the year. In Chicago, there will be just 9 hours and 20 minutes of sunlight on that day. Just remember to eat your cheese and you'll be fine. I recommend Taco Bell. In fact I'm rewriting the lyrics to Silver Bells to pay tribute to the fast food palace.

Taco Bells. Taco Bells. It's feeding time for my belly.
Nachos please. Extra Cheese. Soon I will be very full.

Hark to the Bells!

Here comes old man winter! Hide! No - don't hide. Hit him with a snowball in the head. Yeah! Fuck you, old man winter!


barnyardfriend said...

I can't believe that you still believe in this soltice bullshit. It gets cold in the winter b/c the sun is mad at us. Next you'll tell me that you've also still believe in the myth of the female orgasm!

AYNtK said...

The female orgasm is NOT a myth! I know firsthand. I had one this afternoon and I highly recommend it. Way better than those chintzy male orgasms I usually have. I'd tell you the secret, but I fear the knowledge would be wasted on you - NON-BELIEVER!

barnyardfriend said...

The flying spaghetti monster says that such talk is blasphemy. Now I have to take you out back and stone you (not in the good way either).