Here's how Wikipedia defines "seasonal affective disorder": a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or, less frequently, in the summer, spring or autumn, repeatedly, year after year.
That part about having "normal mental health" most of the time notwithstanding, it's an affliction from which my father and I both suffer.
His own "SAD," as it's known (how cute), worsened considerably when my dad moved to Sweden after remarrying a native Nordic. They'd been living in Manhattan when their first child was born, a girl named Heather, and a year later the three of them moved to Stockholm and another kid was born, a boy named Patrick.
Dad's letters and electronic missives from Sweden take dark turns in the winter months. Now that he's divorced again and living on his own, they are full of morbid self-analysis and disdain.
But back in the happy days of his marriage to Nina, my ex-stepmom, his "SAD" thoughts often were directed at her.
One of his best lines came when Patrick was just a toddler, during a rant about Nina's bossiness and how she and Swedish culture generally exact a sort of spiritual castration of males. He wondered how Patrick would develop ... "God knows what awaits Patrick," he wrote to me. "Probably some neo-Caligula, Michael Jackson-type drag queen."
Patrick is now 13 years old, and he's managed not to do these things: sleep with other men's wives, order crowds of Romans to be devoured by tigers, sleep in a hyperbaric chamber or purchase John Merrick's remains.
In fact, Patrick appears to me - I've been to Sweden four times to visit the family and dad brings the kids here to the New York City area every summer for two or three weeks - to be very well-adjusted.
One of his real passions is soccer, and I'm especially looking forward to this summer when we all sit down to watch the World Cup, which starts the second week of June ....
The big news out of the BBC today involves a documentarian who has been arrested following an on-air admission that he once smothered a friend to death who was dying of AIDS.
For our purposes, the relevant news out of the BBC this week has to do with the venerable news agency's announcement that it's core public services and BBC Sport will become available for a wide range of smartphones, including the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android mobile devices.
At a keynote speech during the Mobile World Congress, BBC Director of Future Media & Technology Erik Huggers said that the BBC is planning to release mobile applications for BBC News and BBC Sport on a wide range of smartphones, starting with a BBC News application for iPhone in April 2010.
"The app will focus on providing quick access to the BBC's existing journalistic content, which will be repurposed for the devices," the news agecy reports. "The BBC is also considering BBC iPlayer applications for release later in the year. All applications will be available free of charge.
Specifically, a BBC Sport application will be available in The App Store for iPhone and iPod touch in time for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The live match experience will be at the heart of the application.
"For the World Cup, football fans will be able to access live match video, whenever it's being broadcast on TV by the BBC, and on-demand clips of every goal scored in the tournament," the agency says. "Users will also be able to enjoy more of the BBC's other unique content on mobile, such as BBC Radio 5 Live, authored live text commentaries from BBC presenters and blogs.
Later in the year, the BBC will create even more value from its sports rights, by adding Formula 1 and coverage of other sports. Applications will follow on RIM (Blackberry) and Google (Android) operating systems later in the year."
We're now accustomed to this kind of real-time content on the fourth screen - though the ability for content providers and carriers to deliver real-time video to smartphones is something new. Back when the 2008 Summer Games were underway in Beijing (and game citizens of the free world suspended all problems they may have had with the communist nation's domestic policies), we were hearing more about live updates through text-messaging than video.
I'd expect that, by the time Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2016 Summer Games (sorry Barack), we'll all have smartphones and 4G technologies will deliver real-time video to our devices in HD clarity.
By then, Patrick will be 19 years old - an age by which Caligula had come under the personal care of Tiberius - a man who reportedly had poisoned Caligula's father, Germanicus - and lived on the Italian island of Capri. During the next six years, it is said, Caligula developed an uncanny and ultimately frightening ability to detach emotionally and act calmly outwardly while disguising his passions.
At the same age - 19 - Michael Jackson was preparing for his role as the scarecrow in "The Wiz" and was just a few years away from releasing "Thriller," the watershed pop album that catapulted the already-famous singer/dancer to entertainment immortality.
My hope for Patrick, and I hope this isn't offensive, is that our father isn't poisoned and that he avoids a career in pop music. Though if he ends up an insane emperor or addicted to drugs, I would imagine we could conduct live Skype chats on our smartphones through moats and prison walls.