Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Heard it on the Podcast - August 31, 2022

Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we'll do every Wednesday to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:

S2E36: What's Your Superpower?

Special thanks to the following:

Creative Audio Tech

Music and sound design, recording gear, consulting

Red Door Studios

Gear rental

Rimshot Graphix

Logo design


Monday, August 29, 2022

How to Easily Become an Evil Villain with Superpowers

This week on the podcast we are discussing superpowers and which superpower we would like to have.  I want to preface this with the fact that each time we record a podcast, it is 100% organic and free flowing discussion. This conversation was a great example of how we might have an idea about how the topic will go, but then it takes a turn in another direction. We have fun and have good laughs for the most part on the podcast. Sometimes we do have some heart to hearts and get to the root of issues and emotions, too. This time, we thought the conversation would be lighthearted since we are talking about fictitious superpowers, but after the recording was over, we each felt that the conversation took a darker turn than we had anticipated.

I can say that I was probably the main reason for the pessimistic point of view. I tend to view scenarios from many points of view, and not just pessimistically. I am often a realist, but I can stretch the boundaries. I don’t really see myself as an optimistic person, even though many people tell me that I have a bubbly personality. I can understand the outcomes, but still hope for the best. I can get really dark sometimes though. I enjoy the macabre, dystopian, and surreal elements of society, fiction, and in our cultural diversity. 

After some thought on the discussion, I realized that I would not be a good person if I had a superpower. I may start off as sweet bubbly Christen, but I would inevitably use my powers for evil, or wrongdoing, even if that was not my intention. It is not that I find enjoyment in being evil, it just became very evident to me that having superpowers would allow me to use people for personal gain. 

My first thought was that it would be great to have a superpower where I could make people do my chores for me. Most of the superpowers that I wished to employ were ones that used people’s free will, or took their power from them. I had never thought of myself as evil or cruel, however, envisioning myself using obedience manipulation, whether it is for simple tasks like folding my laundry or something more sinister, is quite evil as it is a form of slavery. If you know me then you will understand that my vivid imagination is running wild and keeping me up at night in thoughts about this. Seeing that darker side of myself made me sick to my stomach, and I have been quite rattled by my revelation.  Why couldn’t I be simple and enjoy a superpower that allowed me to swim underwater, or change the color of fabric with touch of my finger? There is more to this that I would like to explore; some call it shadow work. That is where you delve deep into your psyche and deconstruct your negative thoughts (among other things). I think that we should venture into this discussion more at another time. 

My comfort has been knowing that I did recognize that tendency is wrong and I am able to learn from that. I can only imagine that someone who does not have the ability to look introspectively at themselves in that way would be susceptible to becoming an evil villain. Maybe my real superpower is knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do the right thing. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Video Games: Are They a Beneficial Stress Reliever or a Dangerous Addiction?


In the podcast, I talked about my family’s love for gaming of all kinds, but one of the things I really wanted to talk about never came up in the conversation because we simply ran out of time. Video game addiction is a growing concern worldwide, and has (I believe) afflicted my own family. 

According to a 2021 report by the Entertainment Software Association, 227 million Americans play video games at least weekly. That’s ⅔ of all adults and as many as ¾ of children and adolescents under the age of 18. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) estimates that more than 160 million adults play internet games, and 97% of children and adolescents aged 2-17 play at least one hour a day. In 2020, consumers spent upwards of $57 billion on gaming, more than 27% higher than in 2019, and it is rising, largely due to the global pandemic. Projections for 2023 are more than $217 billion.

Most gamers report that playing games bring joy to their lives (90%), and often claim that they are inspirational (79%), help with mental stimulation (87%), and relieve stress (87%). In fact, video games are credited with helping people stay connected with family and friends during the pandemic (53%), and many parents (66%) claimed it helped their children make the transition to distance learning. In fact, video games are linked to increased attention span and visuospatial skills, and, according to the APA, can improve cognitive skills, problem-solving abilities, mood resilience, motivation, social skills, and overall well-being.

Unfortunately, there is also a darker side to gaming. In an article posted by the Mayo Clinic, Edward Luker, L.P.C. describes how too much screen time of any kind can cause a surfeit of problems like poor sleep or insomnia, behavioral problems, loss of social skills, eye strain, neck and back problems, anxiety, depression, obesity, and difficulties with work or school. This is due, in part, to the way our brains process and react to sensory input. In the case of video games, our brains interpret this input as if it is happening to us – as if it were real.

“While playing a video game, the person's brain processes the scenario as if it were real. If the game depicts a dangerous or violent situation, the gamer's body reacts accordingly. This "fight-or-flight response" to that perceived danger is triggered by exposure to intense stimulation and violence in the game. Excessive video game use can lead to the brain being revved up in a constant state of hyperarousal.”

In time, this hyperarousal can become an addiction. Whenever we experience pleasure or hyperarousal, our brain releases dopamine. With repeated occurrence, the brain comes to associate the dopamine with the activity, so that we then have an increased desire to repeat the activity again and again. The more we experience the behavior, the more dopamine is released, and thus the more we are driven to want to repeat it.

So, how do we know if it is an addiction? According to Luker, it becomes an addiction when a person is no longer able to control their activity and it damages their health and relationships. Some symptoms and signs of a potential video game addiction include: 

  • Intense urges to play that block other thoughts

  • Cutting down social or recreational activities in favor of video games

  • Continuing to play even though it is causing problems in life (work, school responsibilities)

  • Mood changes like depression, irritability, increased anger, poor tolerance, or aggression

  • Poor hygiene, lack of self-care, reduced exercise

  • Impaired attention in other areas, procrastination, and/or neglect of other tasks

  • Fatigue

  • Lying about the amount of time spent playing games

  • Game-related spending beyond what you can afford

  • Conflicts with family over video game use

MRI and PET scans of video gamers show more dopamine in the ventral striatum – the motivation and reward region of the brain. The patterns are similar to those found in gambling addiction. Video gaming has also been associated with other structural and functional brain changes, including attention, cognitive control, cognitive workload, impulsivity, and more. All of this leads to poorer mental health and less impulse control. Even worse, those with ADHD, depression, anxiety, and low social skills are most at risk. It’s not hard to see how it can happen.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that I believed video gaming addiction had affected my family, and although I feel it would be a breach of their privacy to name them, I can tell you a little bit about how it has affected someone I love very much. This person learned to play video games at a very young age and was quite proficient at it. A friend of the family shared professional knowledge explaining how very young children (under the age of 5) actually developed video gaming and computing skills in the language center of the brain. This was supposed to be a good thing, so the parents of this toddler allowed the gaming to continue throughout the child’s life. This family member grew to be an excellent student with a high IQ and continued on to college and a bachelor’s degree in a very challenging scientific field. There were a few hiccups along the way, but nothing really to worry about except maybe a little too much time spent playing online video games. After college came a good job with excellent pay and an apartment in another city, but with that independence came fewer people to answer to and more time to play video games. And then the global pandemic happened. Our family watched as this bright individual with a promising future became debilitated by depression to the point of not showing up for work, not answering phone calls, and not participating in family gatherings. When confronted about it, there is always a handy excuse and plenty of denial about the excess of gaming. It is all very reminiscent of other family members with addictive personalities – a common hereditary trait in this particular family line. It’s all very sad, because while alcohol and drug addiction are recognized by society as true disorders, there’s still a lot of disagreement about video gaming, and for most people, it’s probably completely harmless.

I probably could have become addicted to video games, too. In the early days of Nintendo and computer gaming, my husband and I would spend hours playing various games. Some of the hardest to set aside were the simulation-type games like SimCity, SimFarm, and SimAnt, where there were no “levels” to master or “bosses” to kill, and thus no natural “stopping” point. We both loved to play, but with only one computer, we had to take turns, and the “turns” kept getting longer and longer. We eventually settled on using what sci-fi author Larry Niven called a “droud timer”, allowing only short, 20-30 minutes windows of play before handing the controls over. The timer kept us honest, and the technique kept us from extending our use in search of more dopamine. Eventually, we moved on to other things, and it never was an issue. Little did we know that this kind of timed exposure is actually a common therapy for gaming addictions.

Where do we draw the line? How do we manage our video gaming so as to reap the most benefits in attention, visuospatial and cognitive skills, problem-solving abilities, mood resilience, motivation, social skills, and overall well-being without it disrupting our lives or leaving us isolated, anxious, depressed, or dysfunctional? And how do we help those who are struggling with these issues? 

Let us know what you think by commenting below or joining the Facebook conversation on our MMC Chat group.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

This game is cooler than it looks!

Hey everyone, in light of our discussion on the podcast this week, I thought I would share one of my favorite mobile app games - Evony: The Kings Return. I actually stumbled across this game while I was playing a free game on my phone, and an advertisement came up to play a different game. This game ad showed a character trying to get to a pile of treasure and you have to pull the pin to solve the puzzle. I was intrigued because I enjoy solving puzzles. 

The funny part is that I downloaded the game, played a few of the puzzles and then realized that the game was far more involved than just simple puzzles. Other people who play the game often joke in the game forums that they only joined the game for the puzzles, but they stayed because they got hooked on the part of the game that is not advertised. Now that I’ve been playing the game for almost three years, I hardly even bother with the puzzles.

The premise of the game is that each player represents a historical monarchy or dynasty. A castle and everything within its walls are at the player's command. Level up by upgrading the castle and the various buildings within your castle. Upgrading increases powerfulness. Players from all over the world join in on a server and share a large map where everyone’s castle is placed randomly on the map. Players can join an alliance and team up to increase their overall power. There are monsters, bosses, and other keeps that can be attacked on the map. A player's resources increase by harvesting from resource tiles, stealing them from other players, and by gaining them as loot from attacking bosses and monsters. Quests, daily activities, and special events can be completed during gameplay to gain other special resources. Players use the resources to increase the capacity of their castle by upgrading the castle and buildings within it, training troops, building traps, and researching in the academy.  By increasing the  power level, the player also increases their ability to successfully attack higher level monsters, bosses and other keeps on the map.

There are three features that I really like about this game that make it even better, and they have nothing to do with the puzzles.

Join an Alliance and interact with others:
Evony is not just for killing bosses and attacking other players. While in gameplay, players can network with other players and talk in the chat forums within the game. Although one could play the game alone and do just fine, adding the element of teamwork and friendship makes the game more enjoyable. In order for the alliance to be successful there must be structure, order, and leadership as well as team players. Players can send other game members mail messages, private chats, recorded audio, pictures, and links to outside websites. Alliances will typically have players from all over the world, so it is easy to learn about other cultures while having fun together. The game will translate just about any language, so anyone can play without worry of any language barriers. In my Alliance, we have sent each other pictures of what we’re having for dinner, we’ve shared our photographs of our dogs, and we’ve all shared in our troubled times. This game was definitely something that helped me get through COVID lockdown; I could connect with people without having to look at all the negativity on Facebook and other social media platforms. We were all stuck at home together, playing our game, to keep ourselves busy. The players in my alliance kept me company when there was a snowstorm and I lost power intermittently for several days. Several of the game members checked in on me to make sure that I was OK.

Team up and fight in a server war:
Another cool thing about this game is that it hosts server wars. Every other weekend from Friday through Sunday each server will go against an opposing server. Teaming up with your enemies to fight another enemy is not an easy task, but the winning server will advance in server rankings. Within the game platform, there are over 200 servers with thousands of people playing on each server, therefore there are many players and different personality types. Every server war is a separate challenge because each server may have their own war tactics. Some servers have not learned to play as a team and will lose more often than win. The server wars take massive coordination, as there could be anywhere from 500 - 1000 people playing at any given time. During the server war, a player can teleport their castle onto another server's map and attack the monsters, bosses and other players for server war points. There are other types of battles going on simultaneously, like a throne war, and challenges to gather the most resources within a 24 hour period etc. In the end, the winning server receives rewards, and the losing server receives punishments, like slower military marches.

Customize your General to your liking:
Another one of my favorite features of this game is the individualization within the game. Unlike games like Farmville where the player grows crops and clicks to harvest them only to grow more crops, continually doing the same act over and over again, there are some elements of this game that allow the player to customize their game play. For example, players can recruit and collect historical generals like Queen Boudica, Li Jing, or Winfield Scott. The generals lead the troops to battle and guard the keep. The player can create armor for the generals and modify their skills as well as train an elemental, such as a dragon, to fight alongside them. The complexity of the general enhancements really allows the player to strategize and use their resources wisely. In order to enhance a general, upgrade skills, or place better armor, the player will have to spend resources that have been acquired from fighting battles. 

I am glad that I decided to go ahead and check out Evony and give it a try. The puzzles looked like fun, and yes, I did get the old bait-and-switch, but I am okay with that. I have made friends, won challenges, and been a part of leadership opportunities that I would not have been able to partake in without the gameplay. 

Have you ever been tricked into downloading a game only to find out that it was not what the ad portrayed it as? Are there any similar strategy games that you like to play on your mobile device? Be sure to check out our extensive list of games that we enjoy on our Heard it on the Podcast post

Heard it on the Podcast - The GreenMan Cruise



Hey there! This is Cindy, and in case you missed it, Modern Musings and my travel agency, Crafty Neighbor Travel, have partnered with Arthur Graye, owner of The GreenMan Studios to present a GreenMan Holistic cruise. We are very excited about this collaboration and we hope you'll consider joining us for a fun and exciting metaphysical cruise. If you'd like more details, click the link below to go to the cruise website, and don't forget to come out to the GreenMan Holistic Faire this weekend!

The GreenMan Holistic Faire
Sponsored by Events @ Sneaky Petes
August 27th & 28th
11:00 AM-6PM
Sneaky Petes
2 Eagle Point Road
Lewisville, Tx 75077

And don't forget to visit 

771 East Southlake Blvd Suite 130
SOUTHLAKE, Texas 76092

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Heard it on the Podcast - August 24, 2022

Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we'll do every Wednesday to share any links or information from the podcast. We'll also keep a running post on the "Links from the Podcast" tab so you can refer back to any previous episode. Here's the links for this week:

S2E35: What's Your Favorite Game?

Here are some of the games we mentioned on the podcast. You should be able to search them on your favorite search engine. We tried to remember them all, but if we missed one, please let us know!




Black Jack

Card Game


Card Game

Can You Escape

Video Game - Mobile

Cards Against Humanity

Card Game - Specialty Deck

Clash of Clans

Video Game - Mobile


Board Game

Cosmic Encounters

Board Game

Deal or No Deal

Game Show



Dominoes: Mexican Train



Board Game


Video Game - Computer


Video Game - Mobile

Family Feud

Game Show

Farkle/Rats Ass



Video Game - Facebook


Board Game


Arcade Games

Gardens of Time

Video Game - Facebook

Hand and Foot

Card Game


Game Show

Joking Hazard

Card Game - Specialty Deck

Legend of Zelda

Video Game - Console

Let’s Make a Deal

Game Show

Magic the Gathering

Card Game - Specialty Deck


Card Game


NTN Trivia

Multiplayer Online Trivia


Board Game


Card Game



Card Game - Specialty Deck

Pokemon Go

Video Game - Mobile


Card Game

Settlers of Catan

Board Game

Sim City

Video Game - Computer


Card Game

Texas Hold ‘em

Card Game

Texas Pinball Festival

Arcade Games

The Price is Right

Game Show

The Wall

Game Show

Ticket to Ride

Board Game


Roll Playing

Trivial Pursuit

Board Game


Board Game

Wheel of Fortune

Game Show

Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?

Game Show

Who Wants to be a Millionaire

Game Show

Word Brain

Video Game - Mobile

Words with Friends

Video Game - Mobile



Oh, and the game Christen was trying to think of at the end of the podcast was Kings in the Corner.

5 Ways to Manifest Your Best Life

Hi there, and welcome back! Since we have been heavily focusing on goals and planning, I thought we should discuss manifesting. I love this ...