Monday, December 21, 2015

ANXIETY: Stop Saying "TAKE A DEEP BREATH" or "CALM DOWN"


On behalf of those of us who suffer with ANXIETY, do you know what is worse to us than the anxiety?—Being told to “calm down”, “relax” or, my all time favorite, “Take a deep breath”.

I think this woman sums it up quite well in her blog post here http://www.xojane.com/relationships/i-will-not-calm-down-at least in terms of how it effects her when people want to quash her excitability.

My own Thoughts....

But…

 if you’re interested in trolling someone who has anxiety, or, you simply get your spikes of dopamine via sociopathic maneuvers, by all means, go ahead and tell an already-anxious individual to simply “Take a deep breath”.  Problem solved. People with anxiety have never once thought of these suggestions on their own and I’m sure they would appreciate hearing your clever advice.

When interacting with someone who appears funny, “off”, nervous or jittery—or any behavior that isn’t an exact representation of your own behavior, it is always a good idea to point this out to said individual in a public setting and start lecturing. This will put your anxious friend at ease. Make certain that everyone else is aware of this person’s deviant behavior. The person who suffers with anxiety will no doubt feel reassured by your caring, public gesture. Now that more people are glaring at this person, more people can offer their assistance and proceed to tell this person to “relax” or “take a deep breath”. It always helps when more than 2-3 people tell the anxious person the same thing. The more times they hear it, the more likely it will work, right?

You could even step it up a notch and tell your anxious friend, “Go find a corner, count to ten, and then take a deep breath.” People with anxiety always appreciate knowing that you really care. And, even if you were being intentionally patronizing, they would not be able to tell anyways. Never.

I’m only kidding, of course. People who suffer with anxiety are not actually trying to bother you. I know it may seem like it, but they’re not. We do know, however, that our behavior is deeply infuriating to you.  It isn’t, you say? Then why must you keep on commanding us to “Take a deep breath”? It certainly isn’t solving our anxiety. Let me tell you something—your antics are worsening our anxiety, not helping it. We get that you’re a control freak and haven’t expanded your social encounters to approve of those of us who violate what is normal in even the slightest degree. We get it that you’re a Type A, standing for Asshole-Type-Person.

We fully understand that we have our own idiosyncratic personalities. Furthermore, many of us have done everything in our powers to develop mindfulness; a self-aware stance so that we can behave in a manner that puts others at ease. But apparently, after all of these years of self-monitoring…of constant efforts to stay within the straight jacked of normalcy, we have failed.

I’m here to finally say “Knock it Off”. If our composure, mannerisms or the intensity in how we act or express ourselves makes you uncomfortable, then that is your problem, not ours.

I have never once corrected anyone for how they “should” compose themselves—in my entire life. I might argue with ideas or words that are said, but I don’t make commentary on body language. I realize that how people act and compose themselves is largely a product of their brains chemistry and structure. While innate patterns of behavior can be altered and improved upon, many of the individuals who have these patterns are already fully aware that they have them and are making strenuous efforts to overcome them or act in ways that fall within the normal range of acceptable behavior (whatever that is).

The next time someone tells me to “Take a deep breath”, I’m going to tell them “Why don’t you take a deep breath? Why don’t you go to the corner and count to ten?” After all, you’re the one who appears to be affected by me enough to want to manage my behavior and assert your control over me. Next time I won’t even allow your dictates to enter my consciousness and I will ask you “Is everything okay with you? You don’t seem to have any kind of authority on “balance” or “mindfulness” either.

 Commanding someone to “Take a Deep Breath” isn’t helpful. It is equivalent to telling someone to “Calm Down!” or “Lower your Blood Pressure!” Telling someone to calm down has never once helped someone calm down but has instead served to increase their level of agitation. In fact, if you really want to stir up someone’s wrath, just tell them to “Calm down” or “relax” when they are already in a vexed state. Just see what happens…

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Common Theme Between Christianity and Buddhism...?


 I find it interesting that both Buddhism and Christianity have negative things to say about the notion of “desire”. According to Buddhist teaching, the idea of desire or “wanting” is a condition of the mind that should be overcome and banished. Desire is an unbalanced state. It is the feeling of being unfulfilled or “needing something more”. It is from this mental state of desiring something that we experience unhappiness, unsettling thoughts…anxiety. Desire is the root of all the unhappiness that we experience. Nirvana is the condition where desire is placated, pacified. Nirvana is the absence of desire. Nirvana is the state where we will feel whole; but, ironically, through (almost?) self-annihilation. 

In Christianity there is a scripture verse that comes to mind about desire:

“But each one is tempted when, by his own DESIRE, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after DESIRE has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown gives birth to death.”  James 1:14

Another verse comes to mind regarding this "losing of the self".

"Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."
Matthew 10:39

So, according to Christianity, it is also desire that leads to sin, unhappiness…a corrupt nature. Adam and Eve desired the fruit in the Garden of Eden. They acted upon their desire and it led to their downfall. This led to the Fall of the human race. Heaven is like Christianity’s Nirvana, where there is no more desire or sin and where those who end up there feel complete--and we do this by losing the self for Jesus.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Me Blathering with My Mom about Christianity



Recently I had quite the lengthy discussion with my Mom about Christianity. As usual, I don’t know how it came about. It seemed to unfold before me so quickly that I became decidedly assertive in my responses.

Perhaps it started with her telling me that “I should be reading my Bible more” and that “My Biblical understanding was “PITIFUL”. She insisted that I must “Look to God for guidance.”

While I usually brush her suggestions out of my mind and off my shoulders, today I decided to engage. I told her that I have read the Bible. I understand most of the basic premises and doctrines threaded throughout the text. To that, she scoffed and said, “You don’t know anything!” She started laughing uncontrollably. The thought of me merely “thinking that I had a basic understanding of even one verse in the Bible” made her cackle.

I asked her, “Okay then. Please tell me exactly what it is that I don’t know or understand about the Bible. Be precise here. Is it that I don’t understand Salvation enough? Propitiation? Justification? Communion? Baptism? What underlying theme or doctrine do I not understand according to Protestant, Fundamentalist Christianity?

She was hesitant to respond but said, “You don’t understand that Jesus is in every book of the Bible!”

“Let me tell you what I do understand”, I said. “Christians believe that Jesus is symbolically interwoven into every book of the Bible—including most books in the Old Testament.  For instance, in Genesis Christians will suggest that Adam was a “precursor of Christ”…a symbol of Christ. I understand the Christian idea that “Jesus was the second Adam”. Adam’s sin ushered the world into the spiral of sin and damnation. Jesus—the Second Adam—brought the ultimate solution—his act of death on the cross would restore the relationship humans would have with God. Unlike Adam who sinned, Jesus would lead a sinless life. At the end, he would lay down his life as a living sacrifice for the sins of the world. All humans could be reunited with God again. We would now have access to eternal life instead of divine retribution in hell. This is where “free will” comes into play. Humans would have to exert their own free-agency to accept Christ into their hearts in order to be redeemed back to God.
Please tell me what I’m missing here? Yes, I think I understand Christian doctrine…theology.”

 I understand how Christians think and their interpretations of scripture. I took both Old Testament and New Testament Survey in college back in 1999. Remember?

Furthermore, I understand that Christians want to get to the heart of the issue—that Jesus is the centerfold of the Bible—and that everything comes back to him. “It’s not about knowledge and intellect it’s about the state of the heart” Christians will repeat endlessly. Christianity is the only belief system which has “God looking out to man” instead of “Man looking out to God”. I also fully understand this.  I know these basic premises of Christianity but I reject them based on the idea that I first, and foremost, do not see evidence for a God—and certainly not for the Christian God or Muslim God.

 She proceeded to tell me that I should, “Open my heart and stop rejecting God!”

I said, “You’re looking at this the wrong way! I’m not rejecting God or Jesus. I am no longer within the confines of your world-view. I think very differently now. I have a hard time rejecting something that I don’t believe in.”

I could just as easily say “You’re rejecting Mohammed” but to that you would reply, “I don’t believe in Mohammed (and his claims). You see how that works?”
  “Guess what?” My Mom interjected, “Mohammed was a real person and he believed that Jesus was a real prophet of God.”

“Okay then, fine.” I said.
“You’re rejecting the leprechaun who wants you to embrace him.”  Why do you keep on bringing up the subject of Leprechauns?” My mother said, incredulous.  There is no organized, developed system of belief with regards to Leprechauns. There is no text. The Bible has been around for millennia, the beliefs from it have sustained themselves over centuries and it is still one of the most quoted books of all time. It has been influential in many aspects of human history. “Yes”, I agreed. But it still doesn’t mean it is true. Supernatural claims require extraordinary evidence.

The conversation continued until I finally asked her if she would ever be willing to admit that she could be wrong. She insisted “Never. I would never give Satan a foot-hold by allowing the possibility for doubt.” At that point I said, “And that is where we differ. I will admit that I could be wrong. I will always be open to changing my mind.” This is where intellectual humility and honesty starts. If you can’t admit that you could ever be wrong, then…where can we go from here? You are, at the beginning, already asserting that you are right, THAT YOU ARE CERTAIN. The truth is, neither of us can be justifiably certain in our metaphysical positions of reality.



Monday, October 19, 2015

I'm Attending a Christian Women's Book Club


I recently began attending a CHRISTIAN WOMEN’S BOOK CLUB. Three-dimensional, corporeal female friends can sometimes be hard to find and I realized that this was the best I was going to get. My good friend hosts the book club. She is exceptionally intelligent, creative and an extraordinary communicator. She is married, has a degree in Architecture, her husband is a successful Oncologist and she has a two- year old son. Like me, she is pregnant with a baby girl and we both happen to be in the same trimester.

The moment I met her I could see that she enjoyed the pursuit of intellectual discussions, controversial ones…challenging ones. She wasn’t your typical boring woman who would talk incessantly about movies and television shows or “what she did yesterday” or “how funny her dog/cat is”.  She liked ideas. She would discuss world events and hypothesize about their effects. She wasn’t opposed to seeing things from a different angle. Furthermore, she composed herself with kindness and humility and had a “free-thinking” flow to her thoughts.

 I DID NOT introduce myself to her as an atheist, though I did mention that I was “no longer religious”. I didn’t want to excommunicate myself from the get-go.

We became friends almost instantly and have spent time together going to Flea markets or having tea in her kitchen. She is ambitious and has amassed quite the cohort of female friends—many of them pregnant or with young children and all of them are devout Christians.

We are currently studying the book, “The Envy of Eve”. This book exposes a common vice of women: Envy, Covetousness…Jealousy.  The book is written from a Christian woman’s perspective.  The general thrust of the book is that having these negative emotions steals your contentment in life.  The resolution for the negative trait of envy, of course, is to be more appreciative of what you do have. It is harder to let discontentment and jealousy seep in if you remain grateful for the wonderful things in your life—like having two working legs, being able to use your (limited) brain and having clean water to drink.

Abolishing jealousy comes back to mindfulness—approaching situations and navigating your feelings about them by being continually mindful. While feelings of jealousy can be easily aroused it is important to stop and recognize these emotions as they appear…and then dispense of them. Jealousy comes when we are constantly comparing ourselves to the success of others and then feel bitter that we are no where near as successful.

 Of course, this book is written from a theological standpoint and is drenched with scripture verses and the insistence to “stop and pray”. As usual, it seems that prayer and Biblical meditation are the prescriptions for having a jealous, covetous mind-set.

What struck me most about this Christian book study was how practical and useful the message was. From my vantage point as an atheist, I see things like jealousy and covetousness from a psychological or biological perspective and no longer from a Biblical perspective.

A major reason why jealousy exists among women comes back down to our human (biological) desire to find a long-term mate and reproduce with this person. Women can be jealous of other women because they are in competition with other women to secure a long-term partner and push their genes into the next generation.Thus—there are biological—not theological—reasons why women are jealous of other women. Women are also jealous of other women who are more successful in their career than they are. Competition begets jealousy—I think.

Anyways, it will be interesting to learn more from these women at the book club. I will just have to start reading the book. HA!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

"Sorry Ladies, there really is a Man Shortage" Article


Just stumbled upon an interesting article:

http://nypost.com/2015/08/25/hey-ladies-here-are-8-reasons-youre-single/

I posted my own thoughts on this issue (somewhat related) in my most popular blog post (based on # of views) here:

CHRISTIAN MAN SHORTAGE-- MY OWN THOUGHTS HERE  :)

Dating is a Numbers game-- My other blog post

I don't have much more to say on this--well I do--but I'll spare you them today. The only thing I will say is this:

Many young women (under the age of 35) still want to get married (or, at least find a long-term monogamous companion). Conversely, the percentage of young men who wish to do the same is far less. This trend only seems to be getting worse especially as we consider the statistics of who wants to get married in today’s world compared to who wanted to get married in previous decades. 

See additional links below:

Yes, statistics reveal that fewer men want to get married while women's interest in finding a long-term partner (especially as they get older) has increased.https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/young-men-giving-up-on-marriage-women-arent-women-anymore

Is it because of the job scarcity for men in America?http://www.businessinsider.com/a-simple-reason-why-fewer-americans-are-getting-married-2014-9?IR=T

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Socialism/Economics...Thoughts today....



I do not think socialism is a viable economic system for America—especially not right now! If we consider the demographics of America at present I just don’t see how it will work. The U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders embraces democratic socialism and seems to highly appreciate the kind of socialism that exists in Scandinavian countries.

I am American and have spent some time traveling (and living) in different regions of the United-States. I traveled to Norway a year ago and had the opportunity to wander through a variety of Norwegian cities from the southern tip of Norway to the northern tip. The cities that my husband and I visisted included: Bergen, Alesund, Valdal, Molde, Trondheim, Bode, Rorvik, Narvik, Ornes, Narvik and Tromso. We spent a lot of time walking all around these cities. We also briefly spent time in Oslo, but only at the luxurious airport—perhaps the most opulent I have seen—it has real hard-wood floors! We gained a bird’s eye—big picture—look of this country and can attest that the demographics of Norway are much different than those found in the United-States.  

One of the first things you will notice about Norway is its homogeneity of culture and ethnicity. Almost every person who you walk by is a blonde-haired, fair-skinned Norwegian. Another thing that makes Norway different from the United-States is its population. Norway has a much, much smaller population than the United-States. While in Norway, we encountered very, very few immigrants from developing nations and not very many from other wealthier nations in Europe either.

One thing that almost came as a shock for us was the hotel housekeepers.  At every single hotel that we stayed at the housekeepers were young, college-age Norwegian women. This was a site we had never seen before! I am no longer under the persuasion that ONLY immigrants from poor nations would be willing to “do certain kinds of physically demanding jobs”. Citizens, within their own countries who need work will indeed take these kinds of labor and housekeeping jobs if they are available.

The crime rate in Norway (likely due to the small population size) is very low while the crime rate in the United-States is comparatively high.

I think that a socialist economic system in the US would ultimately lead to its collapse. There are just too many people in the U.S. There is too much crime in the US. Also, there are too many people in the US who are not working and/or contributing to the economic system. An economic system where there are so many people taking from the system is not going to last very long.

Yes, I do agree that extremely wealthy individuals in America should be taxed highly and this money should be distributed to individuals who are disabled, sick or otherwise unfit to work. However, I am hesitant about the idea of taxing the rich. I do not think that individuals who are successful in their creative/inventive, academic or business adventures should be punished. There should be some sort of a reward to working hard in a career or business venture. However, if you are just receiving donations or if you simply won the lottery—you should be taxed in a higher tax bracket and this money should be distributed to poor people who are disabled or veterans—what are you contributing to society by asking for donations or by out of luck “winning the lottery”?

A capitalist system is imperfect but so is a socialistic system. Practically speaking, people appear to be highly motivated by the idea of acquiring money. If you think this is false, then please explain why so many people make an effort every month (or week) to buy lottery tickets. Why do they do this? Why is so much time and money spent towards this? It is because people are motivated by the idea of wealth attainment. Yes, you might say “Well, people are actually motivated by the idea of easy wealth attainment”. Yes, this is true—but it is still wealth attainment nonetheless.

 Behavior is the best indicator of what people are motivated by. Some people make diligent, consistent efforts to buy lottery tickets. Others dedicate a good portion of their time to starting a business or attending college in pursuit of a specific career path that will ultimately yield better financial prospects for their future. Still, others do the best they can in whatever sector they find.

Like sex, people like money. This is an undeniable fact. A socialistic system is an idealistic system but it isn’t practical and it doesn’t take into account the psychology of human beings. If you see that human beings are motivated by money and also that without the reward of money, that simply being given it—they will have a disposition to be lazy—then capitalism is the more economically feasible option.

In almost every capacity people seem to be highly motivated by just the idea of wealth acquisition. We can see this with youtube. Youtube creators slowly become big and the money they make through adsense revenue and donations from their viewers encourages them to keep on making videos.

 One area of society that I see no problem taxing highly is in the area of entertainment. Superstars like Tom Cruise, Snooki and other actors, actresses and pop-star musicians who render nothing to society’s progression should be put in the highest tax bracket possible. These individuals come a dime a dozen. The only thing required in the industry of entertainment is youth and/or looks. Acting skills are important too, but once a woman passes her prime she is no longer in demand--unless she is an extremely talented actress.  I hate to be blunt, but that’s it. We all know it. Where is Catherine Zeta Jones now? Where is she?   

Instead, we should be placing more importance on individuals who are contributing to the welfare of society—educators, college professors, doctors, engineers, scientists, inventors and comedians. We need a meritocracy. We need a society where the people who contribute the most earn the most. If a person is incapable of contributing—well, it does suck to be them.  Socialism places (near) equivalent importance on every vocation—whether janitor or doctor. According to this view, who is to say that a doctor is significantly more valuable than a janitor?  Sure, a doctor will still earn more than a janitor, but not significantly more. In a capitalist system, a doctor earns significantly more than a janitor.

 My opinion is that we need an economic system that rewards individuals who are the major contributors to the advancement of society. May the best ideas win and may they be richly rewarded!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

MY INVENTION LAST NIGHT was already taken


Last night I apparently invented something that was already (just in the past couple years) invented! Have you ever had that experience?

I happened to be vacuuming the house using one of those vacuums with a hose and an attachment piece. I had a sudden epiphany, what if I could use my own, home vacuum as a microdermabrasion machine? As someone who has worked in the aesthetics industry for several years—at both spas and at a dermatology clinic—I know how important suction is in the field of skincare. I also know how expensive these machines cost! These machines cost a minimum of $5,000- $10,000 a piece! In addition to working at the hospital, I have been tinkering with the idea of starting my own Home Spa business sometime after the baby is born. Equipment would be my big business expense and so this was currently on my mind.

I have worked with several pricey skincare machines that utilize different degrees of skin suctioning. These machines are effective in pore cleansing, improving skin texture, reducing acne scars and they also have anti-aging benefits like stimulating fibroblastic activity in the dermis which helps with collagen regeneration. A few of these machines include: the hydrafacial machine, the microdermabrasion machine and the Isolaz Laser machine. Another field where suctioning is used is in nursing; nurses use wound vacs to help expedite the healing of wounds. 

As I thought about all the possibilities I decided that I wanted to use my vacuum as microdermabrasion machine. I thought about designing a prototype attachment to apply to the tip of the hose that could then be used on the skin. All I would need would be a plastic attachment and then the diamond-head microdermabrasion tip that could be applied to the attachment. I found a funnel in my kitchen that would temporarily serve as my first rough “prototype attachment” to the vacuum cleaner hose. I applied it to the vacuum hose—it fit perfectly! Next, I turned the vacuum on medium-low and then tested it out on my skin. The degree of suctioning was perfect! In fact, it worked EXACTLY, if not BETTER than the expensive microdermabrasion machines that I had been using at the spa all along!

I was ecstatic! I told my husband about my idea and he looked at me kind of funny. I didn’t care, for some reason I knew I had a good idea. But then, my exuberance faded dramatically as I searched the internet and saw that SOMEONE ELSE HAD ALREADY INVENTED EXACTLY WHAT I HAD JUST INVENTED IN MY HEAD!!!!  GRRR

Here it is available on Amazon:

Here is a youtube video that basically shows exactly the model that I had envisioned:


 Yeah, I know. This kind of thing has happened to us all before. We're just a bit too late. This is just a reminder that your idea might not be as dumb as you (or others) think it is—especially when you see that someone else has a pending patent on it and is starting to sell it on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

IN DEFENSE OF SLOW LEARNERS/TIPS TO HELP SLOW LEARNERS (LOWER IQ)



“The better you know something, the less you remember how hard it was to learn.”  Steven Pinker, “The Sense of Style” 2014


In his book, “The Sense of Style” Steven Pinker goes into detail about “The Curse of Knowledge”. The Curse of knowledge according to Pinker is, “A difficulty in imagining what it is like for someone else not to know something that you know.”

I see Pinker’s concept demonstrated over and over again in training seminars or in one-on-one teaching sessions. That is, it is difficult for the teacher to put themselves in the position of the student. It is even more difficult for the teacher to understand the learning processes of a slow learner and the method they require to learn the material. As someone who has, at times, struggled with the learning process, I wanted to take a moment to defend the slow learner. In this post I mention what you as the educator can do to assist the slow learner.

(These are simply my own “Learning Tips” which I believe are absolutely essential to helping slower learners. I’m not referring to individuals who have been legally deemed “Learning Disabled” by a psychiatrist and now receive special treatment and accommodations for their disability. I’m referring to individuals who do not fit the criteria for this label—yet receive just as much derision and contempt from society, but get none of the accommodations. In other words, I’m referring to individuals who are smart enough “To get by” (IQ’s between 90-105) but often have a difficult time deciding what they want to do in life, securing a steady, decent-paying, long-term job and/or successfully completing a college degree. It is my thought that being a slower learner makes it hard to achieve such things.)



TIPS TO HELP THE SLOW LEARNER (My personal list)

1.  Please don’t try and reassure us by saying, “You’re thinking too hard”. THIS DOES NOT HELP!  While it may be true that we are putting a lot of mental effort into the thinking process, understand that this is the level of energy we require! Processing information takes more work for us. By parroting such a statement, you are making this assumption: that we haven’t tried the route of “not thinking so hard” before. Believe me, we have, and this hasn’t worked. Not once. In the past, when we tried making less effort and “didn’t think so hard” we were even farther away from grasping the concept. In other words, we do need to think hard and long (and many times over) to get an accurate—or near-accurate response/result on something. Telling us to “Stop thinking so hard” is not only getting old, but is dismissive and it totally misunderstands the intense mental effort that slower learners require to even keep on track, or, much more, comprehend the idea or skill.

2.  Please don’t rush over information quickly—especially when there are a lot of steps in a sequence or a lot of depth to the concept. Also, expect us to bring a pen and pad of paper to write down the directions that you are giving us. For those of us who are slower learners, we struggle with a poor working memory. We can’t temporarily hold a lot of disparate information while at the same time encode it, store it and then retrieve it as needed. We must first refer to the “step-by-step” list that we have written down. This serves as a memory cue until we have consolidated the sequence of steps into our long-term memory.

3.  Please do not tell us to “Calm down” or “Take a deep breath” as we attempt to learn something. This will be interpreted as you trying to “Control our behavior”—and will inadvertently create more anxiety which gets in the way of learning. Sometimes the mannerisms and/or behavior that we employ help us learn the process. We have enough to focus on as it is—like the specific task or concept at hand. Telling us to also “compose ourselves” in a rigid demeanor (as defined by you) is just one additional thing to bog down our memory as we are trying to learn the important task or skill.

4.  Please don’t say “Slow Down” or “Sit still” when we are completing a series of physical tasks. Notice how you always tell us to “slow down” when the task is physical but you tell us to “speed up” when the task is mental? I can’t quite articulate this conundrum other than: Sometimes, believe it or not, in order for us to keep up mentally we end up overcompensating physically; this results in our physical bodies moving more quickly and appearing to have more rapid, out-of-sync, shifting, jerky movements. Children might rock around in their chairs or have a hard time standing or sitting still as they try to learn. Adults will have their own flavor of this kind of behavior. Don’t worry! This physical response will weaken over time, especially as we master the skill. Just give us time. If you think anyone needs to slow down—well, it is probably you!

5.  When we are learning a new task, step back and let us perform it in front of you to help us consolidate the process into our memory. Please do not “Rush us along” or “Offer pointers/tips” or “Jump in and complete aspects of the process for us.” We understand that normal/fast learners have a hard time being patient, but this is critical to our long-term learning. If you want to help us consolidate a memory where we won’t have to rely on you so much for additional prompts in the future, you should let us get the general concept under our belt first. In time we can add on extra details and/or refine the technique. What we need from you is to “watch us” instead of “jumping in and taking control of the process”. You can offer a few, specific pointers after we have finished the demonstration.

6.  Do not assume that we know something without our ability to independently “Teach you the concept” or “Demonstrate the skill” back to you WITHOUT PROMPTS!

7.  Please refrain from constantly talking to us or adding on novel information as we are attempting to demonstrate the skill.  Shut up for a moment. Offering “additional pointers” is NEVER helpful as it ends up being an extra distraction that we have to filter out. We are already struggling with the general skill at hand and the fewer instructions the better. Once we have the rough idea or “template” of how to do something, THEN, and only THEN can we add on the new pieces to refine our technique. We just need to get there first.

8.  Please be patient and encouraging as you help us learn the skill or concept. Do not resort to ridicule—or worse—being a patronizing bigot. Make sure and offer positive feedback when we complete a task correctly.

9.  Showing your impatience towards us interferes with our learning process. We get it, we have an average or slightly below average IQ while you’re working with at least a 110. We are using different mental software than you are—what do you expect?

10.  Give us a moment to think, reevaluate and correct ourselves independently before you “Burst in with the correct answer or technique”.  We get it, you already understand the concept.  Many times we will correct our mistakes or adjust our thinking pattern if you give us a few moments. By giving us a moment to reevaluate the process on our own (without your feedback) we will better encode the concept/skill into our long-term memory. It is also rewarding to know that we have accomplished something independently; this also helps raise our confidence.

11.  Understand that we are going to interrupt you as you are teaching us something. You should ABSOLUTELY expect this! Sometimes we will need to clarify something with you ON THE SPOT and if we don’t resolve our misunderstanding at that exact moment, we will forget to mention it later. Furthermore, we will be stuck on the concept we misunderstood and not be able to move on, and follow your additional instructions.  It really comes down to a poor working memory and what we can hold. If you skate on by or suggest “Ask questions at the end” please know that we will have forgotten many of the things that we wanted to ask you about during each step of the process.  There is a reason why we occasionally interrupt—and it has nothing to do with being impolite—and everything to do with the fact that we will probably forget what we wanted to ask you by the end of the teaching session.

12.  Many slow learners are very intent on learning things and often try much, much harder than fast learners who take their learning speed for granted. We are not lazy but very earnest. Please give us the benefit of the doubt.



OVERPOPULATION and IMMIGRATION in AMERICA? And, OH I'm pregnant!?!

“Immigration is the chief reason that U.S. population is still growing—native born Americans reproduce below replacement level…”  (source indicated near end of my post)   


“When it comes to climate change, there is no shortage of scientists willing to speak out about the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So if humanity is breaking “planetary boundaries” and imperiling, in the process, humanity’s future, why aren’t more scientists speaking publicly about the population trajectory and its implications?”
(source indicated near end of my post)   


 I was the kind of person who wasn’t going to reproduce unless my personal circumstances were appropriate. I didn’t want to be a single mother knowing full-well the amount of work and stress it would entail. Also, at one point I had researched the statistics of children raised in 1 parent vs. 2 parent households and I came to the conclusion based on the data, that 2 parent households were generally better. Overall, this is certainly true when considering a number of variables related to the long-term wellbeing of a child. (There are obviously exceptions to this rule, but I like large samples and large studies because they offer more predictability than relying on exceptions to rules). I am old-fashioned and think that a father-figure is essential for children—despite the current views in popular culture.

There are over 9 million single mothers in the United-States https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/. 45% of single mother headed households live below the poverty line. For single father households, 21% live below the poverty line.  I am fully aware that single mothers usually do not set out on a course to “become single mothers”. Many of these individuals are dealt a bad hand and through unfortunate circumstances end up having to raise their children alone.

I knew that I wanted to be in a stable relationship, married, and in the right position financially and emotionally to care for the needs of a baby—especially when their brain development was at its most plastic and vulnerable.  For these reasons I had been on birth control for the past 10 years—waiting for the right time and right person—if this was ever to happen. Thankfully, after two long-term relationship attempts, I did meet the right person.

With a year of marriage under my belt and both mine and my husband’s schooling complete, we decided that I should quit birth control. We both realized that I was no longer at the fertile age of 28—indeed, several years past this—and that fertility rates begin to decline for women in their mid-thirties. We were open to having children but also knew that we would never resort to expensive, extensive medical procedures to “make it happen” if it didn’t happen naturally. We decided that we could be happy either way.

To our surprise, we found out that we were pregnant one month after I stopped taking birth control pills! We are both ecstatic to welcome the arrival of our baby in October 2015! 

 My pregnancy has been very rough. This past year I have been plagued with almost constant nausea and vomiting, baby brain, radiculopathy that radiates down my right leg and intense, constant pressure in my abdomen that it feels like I’m wearing a corset cinched up so tightly that I’m going to explode. I feel uncomfortable most of the time and my motivation has sunk to an all time low. Thankfully, my husband has been very supportive. Also, I got a bunch of tests done and found out that my chances of having a healthy baby are high—Down Syndrome risk is 1/10,000 (as a woman hits her mid-thirties, she has to start being concerned about these things).

Since becoming pregnant for the very first time, I have, ironically, found myself attuned to any headline, article or study that deals with overpopulation. I have always been concerned about overpopulation and overconsumption by human beings on our planet. I still maintain my stance that humans should be conscientious in their decision to procreate.

My opinion is that a woman’s reproductive choice must be guided by facts and information—she must be socially and ecologically conscious in her choice. In other words, it isn’t a good idea to procreate with a sociopath (not socially beneficial) and not a good idea just to procreate because “My clock is ticking” or “I think having children will fulfill me”.  It isn’t a good idea to procreate on a whim or procreate thinking, “The Government will pay for my hospital bill, my child’s school lunches, my apartment rent etc.” One must think through this BIG decision first and make sure they have adequate means to take care of their little creation. 

I’m a big fan of family planning! If you have found the right person with whom to raise your child—and you are responsible, well, I have nothing to say against your choice.

Yes, I fully realize that adding more people to the planet will have an impact. This is something that I’ve had to grapple with and come to terms with. I had been averse to overpopulation, but look at me—here I’m contributing to it!

OF COURSE….THOSE ARE JUST MY OPINIONS WHICH ARE ALWAYS SUBJECT TO CHANGE….

Anyways, so my husband is subscribed to the secular humanist magazine “Free Inquiry” that Center for Inquiry puts out. My husband has been receiving it for 5+ years now. We both love this magazine so much that we find ourselves fighting for it over the breakfast table. The July 2015 issue is controversial and deals with “Population, Immigration and the Global Future”.  After reading some of the articles in this issue, I must say that I have been deeply ignorant about the status of overpopulation and immigration in the United-States.

 I had been reading articles on the internet about the declining birth rate in the United-States but I didn’t realize that this statistic was almost exclusively tied to the reproductive habits of native born American women (women who are born in the U.S. whose parents were born in the U.S. whose grandparents were born in the U.S. and so on and so forth).  This statistic is not true for immigrants—at least according to the article.

According to the article:

“Most Californians are barely reproducing themselves, but many immigrant families are averaging as many as three children. Now with 38 million people, at the current rate of growth, the California Department of Finance, Division of Demography, projects population will be 54 million by 2040. In 1970 the state’s population was less than 20 million. Nearly all of California’s population growth in just the last ten years was due to immigration and births to foreign-born women.” --- U.S. Immigration and the Limits of Supporting Earth Resources (CFI July 2015 excerpt from article)

The articles in this CFI July 2015 issue deal with immigration and overpopulation and seeks to show the inextricable link to human population and environmental/ecological issues that our
planet currently faces. From carbon emissions to decreased fertile soil and a reduced water supply, overpopulation is a major culprit. The concept is extremely easy. With more people on the planet, the more we will be affected by the consequences of too many people; too much waste and not enough space!

I thought it was interesting (and highly controversial) that this secular humanist, liberal magazine suggested that the American government consider the factor of overpopulation as a reason to make its immigration policies more stringent. It is quite bold to pose such a suggestion—especially for any media portal that considers itself to be liberal (I usually think of liberals as being more tolerant of immigration and diversity).  However, after reading all of these articles, I see that it is very difficult to argue with the evidence.



Sunday, August 16, 2015

MY NEW TRAVEL BLOG!!!


I have finally opened up a new Wordpress blog for family and close friends to visit. I have many family members who are intrigued by my travels but are less interested in reading my controversial pieces. I wanted to provide a streamlined blog focused on travel and adventure. This blog is certainly still in its rudimentary stages and it needs a ton of work. You will find posts from this blog inserted into my new blog. You will also find other posts that I am still working on or that I might not have shared on blogger.

MY NEW TRAVEL BLOG!

Yes, I will continue to use my blogger account for expressing my thoughts/opinions etc.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2002 Random Journal Entry



A random journal entry I wrote back in 2002

There was a beautiful luscious tropical area that spanned the way from Lome to Cotonou. The sides of the road were replete with coconut palms lining the sides of the road but once we hit the city all bets were off.


We are in transit to Nigeria. We arrived in Cotonou Benin at about 9:30 pm. I am totally disgusted with the appearance of both Lome (Togo’s capital) and Cotonou (Benin’s capital). They are tantamount to garbage heaps. The roads are heavily used dirt roads. They are stained with ash, oil and dirt. People are everywhere. Cement side walks are rough, cracked and paint is peeling from every wall of every house and city building. Tacky, cheap paper signs are posted everywhere. The air invades your space as its’ humidity confines you and creates an extreme discomfort between your skin and clothes and on the palms of your hands. 

Your face drips with sweat. Car and motorbike exhaust saturate the air. Your makeup drips off your face and stains your clothing. Everything you touch is sticky and tends to adhere to your skin. The traffic is in one of the most extreme states of chaos as motorbikes veer into your lane coming from the opposite direction and then head across the road in any which-way to make it to the other lane of traffic. There are no traffic lanes for cars; cars and motorized bikes will pass you on the shoulder as if it is a lane. People are walking everywhere and it always seems as though you could just accidentally run over them with your car.  The population is booming with children everywhere and almost 1 out of every 3 women has a child wrapped up and mounted on her back.

On Your Deathbed


“A life making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing at all.”  -- George Bernard Shaw


On your deathbed you will spend a lot of your time wishing that you had worried more in life. You’ll think, “Why didn’t I spend more of my time worrying about what other people thought of  me?” and “I should have spent more of my time beating myself up because I was never very popular in high school.”

You’ll even say to yourself, “I should have taken fewer risks and let other people push me around more.”

You’ll wish that you had buried yourself in a cave.

You’ll reflect on your life and say “I should have spent more of my moments listening to preachers or bullies or anyone else tell me “You’re just not good enough to get into heaven or the popular crowd without their patronizing forms of approval.”

You’ll think, “I should have spent more of my time feeling guilty and ashamed of myself for being me.”

You only have one life to live and all the traces of your inconsequential existence will be forever gone anyway; So, why didn’t you spend more of your time fretting about the fact that you’re imperfect—like everyone else? 

At the end of your life, you’ll wish that you had never lived.



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Why is Marriage on the Decline?



In recent times I heard a lot of hypothesizing as to why marriage is on the decline.  I have heard several prominent individuals express their thoughts as to why this is happening.  Sometimes an individual in popular culture—on the news or even on YouTube—responds to a commentator and expresses their own reasons why this is happening.

Often, I will hear in the response to a commentator’s opinion “So and So DOES NOT speak for me.” Next, they proceed to speak about the situation expressing their own point of view.  Might I suggest that this individual doesn’t speak for everyone (or anyone) else either? Every time I hear someone say something akin to “This person should stop speaking for me or on my behalf” I also want to chime in—Good point, but NEITHER DO YOU. THAT person has just as much right to express their opinion as you do. Also, since there is no single absolute way to determine the reason (or reasons) why marriage is on the decline, WE ARE ALL FREE TO SPECULATE.

We all express our opinions on the internet and we should realize that we are not the official representative for any particular group or idea (whether women, men, feminist, antifeminist, black, white—these are just examples).  I say these things as a disclaimer before I proceed to discuss my own opinions in this post.

Marriage is NOT on the decline because people don’t have/make enough money. Sure, a wedding costs money. I’m not denying this. My wedding cost $4000-$5000—an expensive ceremony, indeed.  I will freely admit that this was absolutely unnecessary. In our case, we were both ecstatic to invest this much on a day that symbolized our life-time commitment to each other.  This being said, I would have also been fine with a simple court-house wedding.  Court house weddings cost less than $100.  When you consider how cheap a courthouse wedding is and then you consider that in most cases a marriage is between two individuals who are working and can now SHARE THEIR EXPENSES, marriage seems like the most financially prudent way to go. Unless an individual is already living with their parents, a roommate, or luckily receiving welfare from the government or donations from other people, living on your own and NOT having anyone to share expenses with is what is actually financially debilitating. In a marriage relationship both parties work hard towards securing a better future for themselves, as if they were a solid unit.

It could be argued that this doesn’t take into account the possibility that two very different personalities could be involved in this (marriage) union. One person could be a spender and the other person could be a saver. Or, both individuals could be spenders.  The spender could create deep, lasting financial havoc in this relationship resulting in debt, a falling credit score, and worsened financial prospects for both parties.

While some of the above scenarios are possible, my opinion is that there are plenty of financially responsible individuals in society who could find love and a marriage relationship together. Why isn’t this happening though? There must be several things interfering with this age-old pursuit of marriage (or, even long-term cohabitation with a single person).


I take a very pragmatic stance on marriage. I think marriage is a good thing primarily because of its influence on reducing poverty in society.



        My list of reasons why Marriage is declining:



  1. More and more people in society simply do not want to get married.  The reason why people are not interested in marriage is due to selfishness. People prefer to just focus on themselves than have to deal with the interests of another person. If people do want to get married they are looking for the “perfect” person instead of being willing to sacrifice a little and be with someone who may not be as financially fit or as attractive as they would prefer.

  1. The internet has made it so that 3-dimensional people are unnecessary. You have so many options on the internet now. You can use these people as your source of pleasure, entertainment…the list goes on. These internet people end up replacing 3-dimensional human beings that you could form a bonded relationship with. Time that is spent on one activity is time taken away from another activity—in this case, pursuing a physical, 3-D (non-pixelated) partner.

  1. Initiating an in-person, 3-dimensional relationship is difficult and time consuming. To get one, this means you have to leave your phone or your computer screen for at minimum 30 minutes a day to initiate physical contact with the other sex (or same sex, depending on your biology).
  

To Be Continued as I have more time. There are plenty of links, statistics etc that I have found that prove that it is more financially beneficial to be married than to be single or be a single parent.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Addiction Thoughts...just a quickie


Another way to succeed in life is to manage your time wisely and cut out any addictions from your life. Addictions are bad for many reasons but we often forget why addictions (of any kind) are bad in the first place. 

Addictions are bad because they eat away at the time available to live. There are many far more productive things that could be accomplished with the little available time that you do have (like getting a college degree or starting a business). Also, many addictions cause havoc in the brain. If they don’t actually cause deterioration of gray matter they most certainly hijack centers in the brain as you become used to the dopamine rush. The brain/reward system responds by producing less dopamine. Since dopamine is the pleasure or thrill chemical and now you have less of it due to your addiction, you end up getting less pleasure in activities you previously enjoyed.

In many cases what starts out as a feel-good drug/high turns out to be a recipe for long-term depression, anxiety and lack of motivation. Now you have even less motivation to do things that you previously enjoyed simply because initially, these activities will probably produce less dopamine in your brain than the addiction that you are currently subdued by.

At this point you will have to entirely reprogram your brain and start a new cycle. This process is indeed very hard.

The end

Great website on this topic! Thanks Les for sharing this with me.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

KARMA ISN'T A BITCH



FOR THOES PEOPLE WHO SAY... "Karma is a Bitch"

Ever have a conversation with someone and the two of you are discussing a bad situation? The situation could have happened to your friend or maybe to someone else. Suddenly, out of nowhere, your friend resorts to the hackneyed cliche “Karma is a bitch”. Every time I hear that platitude I usually let it pass without a response, but inside, I’m seething with infuriation because it occurs to me that they lack a basic understanding of reality.  Yeah, yeah, I know it’s simply an expression and no one really cares about what it (actually) means.

But sometimes I’d like to say:
Do you honestly think the universe arranges itself around your behavior (and actions) and the behavior of others? Are you so deluded and grandiose in your thoughts about yourself that you think the physical laws of the universe react to your emotions and behaviors?

Do you think the space-time curvature of the universe repositions itself in such a way to retaliate against the individual who steals pastries from the local bakery?

If Karma exists—if people are in their current state of (natural) existence due to behaviors and actions from their past or from their previous lives-- we should rightly fault the children who are suffering from starvation. After all, wouldn't their current fate be determined by a past life, one in which their behaviors were evil or malicious?

People might use the word “Karma” in a practical sense. For instance, the phrase “You reap what you sow” comes to mind.

Yes, if you treat another person kindly, the chances are greater that they will treat you kindly in return. If you judge someone immediately and you haven’t even had a single conversation with them—you don’t even know them---expect them to judge you in the same rash response and don’t count on being their friend (you’ve already proven your judgmental attitude). There isn’t anything magical or mystical going on here. These are just the practical consequences of behavior.

As much as we would like to think the universe revolves around our ego and personalities-- as past scientists have thought that the sun and every other celestial body revolved around the earth—it doesn’t, and I am glad for this.

Karma isn’t a bitch because it doesn’t exist. It is just an eastern idea that has now become an annoying nonsensical phrase uttered by almost every thoughtless drone I encounter.

Perhaps it is time to deflate our egos and realize we have very little control of the world around us—that our behaviors good or bad—may not affect the trajectory of the universe or even our own petty lives. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that we just so happened to be lucky to be born in a developed nation and not have suffered from a water borne illness as a child. Perhaps, if you are one of those people who is often reminded that “you’re super smart” or “super talented/competent” you should just realize that you’re lucky and your life would be an entirely different experience if you didn’t have these preferential traits.

Instead of  saying"Karma is a bitch", how about “Being human is a bitch”. We make poor decisions regularly and we often act in ways that are self-serving—whether they are statements to hurt or diminish the importance of someone else (to feel better about ourselves) or whether they are physical acts of harm towards others.  Being human means you are, at times, going to piss others off. Sometimes your behaviors will be an intentional acts to harm others, other times, your acts will be purposeless and will hurt others.

But either way, the universe doesn’t care about your actions. There isn’t a physical force that is going to balance things out or push for (social) justice in the real world. It is us, and our tiny brains, who have to works towards that. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

VIDEO for MOM-- Remembering Old Times...



video


I grew up in a lower-middle class, Caucasian household. My mother was a full-time housewife and my father made a meager living as a salesman. Neither of my parents have college degrees.  Food stamps were never applicable to my family’s income but we lived happily and never with too much luxury. In the summer time, eastern Oregon can be very hot; we never had an air conditioner. I grew up with fans.  In the winter we used firewood chopped from the forest to heat our house. I always woke up freezing cold in the mornings and headed straight towards the wood stove on the other side of the house.

We didn’t have a lot of extra cash to pile our cupboards with expensive, highly processed goodies and snacks. The high price tag of Doritos, packaged cookies, soda and hostess cupcakes meant that such items rarely, if ever, made it into our cupboards. Instead, we had a flourishing vegetable garden with several fruit trees. We had grass-fed cows in our pasture which would be butchered once a year. We had a chicken-house full of hens that would lay eggs year round. Our animals were treated kindly and humanely.  Our property was sufficient in size to host a sizable variety of barn-yard creatures.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Social Rejection and Bullying WORSE than CHILD ABUSE



 A recent study (above) suggests that it is WORSE to be bullied and/or EXCLUDED by peers than to be abused by adults. Obviously, this shouldn't abate our natural outrage for children abused by adults or make it sound less severe. I just find it interesting that studies are finally showing something that I have parroted for years!

 As someone who never, ever made entrance into any single popular group in highschool (or even an upopular one)—and tried really hard to do so—as someone who never even made it into the auspices of 2-3 close friends during that time, I can definitely identify! As someone who was bullied from time to time during highschool, I can certainly agree with this--especially as I consider my own current levels of anxiety.

See my blog post below where I go into more detail about why I think bullying and social exclusion are so harmful. (Yes, I know this is nothing original, but at least I made sure to mention the factor of social rejection/exclusion here--sometimes people forget this aspect of bullying).

My "Social Exclusion/Bullying" blog post.




Monday, April 27, 2015

Gospel Message is like the Abusive Boyfriend/Girlfriend!!


One of the things that I always found to be off-putting about Christianity (the Gospel in particular) even as a child was the suggestion that I as a human being was somehow “sinful”, or  “wrong” in some manner. This is the idea that there is something fundamentally in error or “corrupt” about my person or nature.

I would listen to my Pastor every Sunday. I would listen to my Sunday school teacher about how marred, imperfect and sinful I was as a human and I would reflect upon this mantra on a daily basis.  I grew up thinking this way. Now I find myself detesting this kind of thinking—this style of thinking that presses itself upon my brain and makes me feel lowly and unworthy. This kind of thinking that teaches you to hate who you are—your personal characteristics, the way you think, your mannerisms and every minutiae of your person that you have little to no control of anyway. The Gospel message is like the girlfriend or boyfriend who psychologically abuses their partner by telling them, “You’re only good with my help/advice/support…you only can be good/worthy/important because of me! You’re only good if you could just be like me!”


I have a problem with the gospel message in the same way that I have a problem with other human beings in society who arrogantly tell others, how awful or “wrong” (i.e. sinful/imperfect) they are. These are the individuals who always resort to giving advice to others about “how they should change their mannerisms, style of dress, personal quirks/characteristics” simply to align with their own subjective preferences. It is one thing if an individual is committing crimes that are deserving of a prison sentence, it is an entirely different thing when a person is admonished by someone’s thought-policing; that is, when someone begins interjecting their own subjective standards on others to make them feel “not good enough”.

Friday, April 17, 2015

STOP SAYING "PEOPLE are so STUPID!"


I had to do a really quick blog post on this--because this is infuriating me! One thing I've noticed—time and time again—on facebook, in casual conversation, on various websites, in comments and in so many discussions is a very common phrase “Why are there so many stupid people?” or “Why are people so stupid?”. 

These kinds of expressions have become so old I want to throttle the person saying them. I wish for once that someone would post something like, “Why am I so stupid?” It would be quite shocking and interesting for change.  Everyone seems to think that everyone else is stupid (or, at least most others who don’t think exactly as they do) but not them. Kind of like how Christians think that everyone else is going to hell but not them. This is the exact same mentality. I’m getting tired of it and found another blog on this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

MEETING MICHAEL MOORE IN MUNICH



This past weekend my husband and I had the exquisite pleasure of taking a weekend trip to Munich—the famous party-city in Germany.  The last time I entered Bavaria was in 1998. At the time, I was with my family and we stayed in the city of Garmisch. Like the average tourist who visits Southern Germany, we had made a day trip to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle. However, since I was with my family and relatives of non-drinking Protestant sort, we never did make it into the beer-guzzling city of Munich. I wonder why.

My husband and I were looking for a short, frivolous getaway. Thankfully, transportation in Europe is done with supreme ease. Even if you book a train at the last minute, it seems you can still find options to go anywhere—provided you are willing to stand. We caught the Ice train in Mannheim which took us straight to Munich. We even passed through the village of Ulm, the town where Einstein was born.

We arrived in Munich in the early afternoon which gave us plenty of time to explore the city square. Once off the train we walked our way through the bustling train station and out onto the streets of Munich.  Munich is a large city—roughly 150,000 in population. I learned that the people of Bavaria proudly see themselves as almost separate from the rest of Germany—think Texans and the United-States—only that Bavarians are not Protestant Bible-Thumpers.  In Bavaria the locals are patriotic, conservative and largely Catholic.  Their unique cultural heritage is a result of being separate from Germany until only 100 years ago.

Women with model-looking bodies are seen on all corners of the streets. Everyone is toned, youthful, glowing and smiling.

Thankfully, our hotel was located walking distance from the main city square. After dropping off our bags in our hotel room, we wandered into the city center. We passed gangs of tourists and locals all jostling their way into the town-square for Friday-night escapades.  We walked by countless trinket shops and clothing stores specializing in dirndls—the traditional dress of German women. I even found a sushi spot nestled in the heart of the city—not too bad!

I would highly recommend walking by the Munich Rathaus.  Architecturally, this building stuns with richly ornate flare and at times, seems almost gothic. Like Notre Dame, it has gargoyles peeping out from all corners; definitely a captivating visual experience! Also, in the square you will come across several fountains with erected stone statues in the middle. I randomly notice that a Merman statue sits in the middle of one fountain and squirts water at a little boy.
 There are also a couple accessible cathedrals in the town-square that are free and absolutely worth a peak inside!


Munich Rathaus


That night we found our way into the Augustiner Keller and Biergarten—an authentic hot-spot that you must visit while in Munich. Once you enter through the gate you weave your way through the sprawling Biergarten full of Friday night locals all sitting on picnic tables in this outdoor garden. My eyes were grabbed by the variety of sparkling amber brews and assortment of beer glasses positioned all over the tables.

We decided to eat indoors. The beer hall was enormous! We sat at a long, wooden picnic table and then ordered typical Bavarian fare. In less than 40 minutes the beer hall filled up and became a rowdy, cantankerous joint though sans an accordion player. It was a fun place to observe the locals clanking their beer glasses with each other and having a good time.

The next day we made a short trip to Salzburg, Austria. For music lovers, this place is famous for being Mozart’s hometown and for many an American, it is famous for its various scenes in the 1965 musical, “The Sound of Music”.  WE LOVED SALZBURG! It is definitely my favorite smaller city that I have visited in Europe.



In the old town section of Salzburg, Austria. 



The old town of Salzburg is of delightful, quaint beauty. The streets are narrow and the buildings and storefronts are packed tightly together. There is an old graveyard in the center of the old city and above the city stands a fortress (Hohnensalzburg Castle) which we never made it to.

Beautiful graveyard in Salzburg, Austria. The Hohnensalzburg Castle stands in the background.



MEETING MICHAEL MOORE

After our Salzburg day-trip we headed back to Munich. We were just entering our hotel when we saw a group of 4-5 people standing in the lobby, checking in.  As we passed my husband muttered under his breath, “Looks like Michael Moore”.  How random could that be that a famous, controversial documentary filmmaker would be staying in the same place as us? I turned around, taking a closer look and exclaimed, “That IS Michael Moore”.  Michael Moore, hearing his name, turned around and glanced at us. Sure enough, it was him. We made a dash for the elevator. Neither of us are major Michael Moore fans but it was quite random (and surprising) to see that he was staying in the same hotel that we were and on the same weekend.

That night we secretly hoped to pass by him again but of no luck. My husband and I went downstairs so that he could get a drink at the restaurant bar. The bar maid accidentally spilled beer all over his pants and shoes.

In the morning we were offered free breakfast in the hotel since the bar maid soaked (and stained) my husband’s shoes in beer. Free food is free food.

Coincidentally, I stood right behind a GIANT (Michael Moore) in the breakfast buffet line who was heaping himself to lots of eggs and bacon. He had a specialty glass with orange juice and 2 sliced oranges adorning the rim. He was wearing a black t-shirt, sweat pants and an old ratty baseball hat. It felt odd that no one else seemed to recognize who he was. Then again, it seemed like we were the only Americans at this hotel.  My husband hadn't noticed my location yet, when he caught site who I was standing by, he smiled brightly.

Confidently he walked right up to Michael Moore and asked, “So when can I be expecting your next documentary?”.  Michael Moore seemed very enthusiastic that finally someone recognized him. He even pulled us over to the side of the breakfast room and told us that he was in Munich filming a documentary that will be entitled something like “Invade”…forgot the exact title.  His documentary will highlight "Some of the things that Europe does right...and should be incorporated into America (trains, health care etc)" He was quite affable, down-to-earth and actually, rather sweet. He was more than willing to talk to random strangers like us.

I wanted so badly to make a YOUTUBE video where I interviewed Michael Moore but I was too timid to ask. (He actually talked to my husband for quite a while). He was very approachable though and not pretentious or "I'm better than you" in the slightest! Next time I will be more apt to take up this kind of an opportunity, so beware!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

OLD PEOPLE, BLAH BLAH BLAH



MY PREDICTIONS ABOUT OLD PEOPLE



“In my opinion there is no aspect of reality beyond the reach of the human mind.”
 Stephen Hawking

For a long time I agreed with many of the current-day populizers of atheism. I thought that abolishing religion and cultivating a world without any religion was the solution to ALL the world’s problems. Though I still find myself agreeing with this sentiment—especially with regards to very problematic ideas like Islam—I’m not sure I have the same anti-religious fervency I once did.  Perhaps I’m just going through a phase. I do tend to wax and wane when it comes to religion.

I see a lot of problems in the world but I think that these issues ultimately stem from inequality. These inequalities that we observe in the human population, across the globe, are not, in my opinion, 100% due to nurture or to one’s environment. Many of the inequalities come, quite frankly, from differences in phenotype which arise from genotype (genetics). The qualities that give some individuals an advantage (and others a disadvantage) are how equipped they are to survive and/or reproduce. An individual’s intelligence, their physical capability, as well as their external façade, will help or hinder their own survival. Besides racial inequalities, I also notice major inequalities between young people and old people.

We need to work towards a world where everyone can have nearly the same opportunities as well as an equal chance at immortality. I think that science is on this pursuit already. It will help diminish the inequalities in society and level the playing field. I predict that along with a chance to become immortal, our external façade—our appearance—can be upgraded. One day, there will be technologies that can integrate with human skin, making it permanently durable. Perhaps organic face masks will be synthesized in the medical field and these can be merged and integrated with the skin of your face, creating an entirely new visage.  The world will one day say goodbye to unattractive faces or to haggard, aged faces. Basically, I think that we humans will integrate with technology--helping us become immortal and also less affected by attrition. 

 In fact, in this world the oldest people (based on the number of years they have lived) will appear just as young and healthy as someone in their 20’s; the difference will be that these older individuals will finally get the respect they deserve.  Not only will these folks appear just as youthful and physically fit as the younger generation, they will have a much deeper wisdom, understanding and knowledge about the world. They will have far more experience and insight to offer the world, to brag about on their resume or to work their way up the corporate ladder.

The younger citizens of earth will no longer be propped on pedestals in society. They won’t be the sensations on the internet, on television, in movies, anchors on Fox news or all over the media. Simply being youthful with symmetrical features and glowing skin will not give you an edge in attaining an acting role or becoming popular. Instead, a person will have to compete with all of the other equally attractive and youthful individuals who have varying levels of talent, originality, creativity, wisdom, intelligence, experience and insight. The people who have lived longer will finally have an edge on the younger generation.

One might be reading this and think—“See, then there are still inequalities in this new society. How bout if everyone could be granted the same IQ…the same mental software? Only then could we abolish inequality between human beings. We could all think and reason with the same efficiency. We could all pull ideas and knowledge out of our memory just as rapidly as the next person.”  This is true, but this doesn't take away from the fact that people who have lived longer have more experience and wisdom than those who haven’t lived as long.

I am excited to think about all the exciting and wonderful things that science can usher into the world!



Monday, February 23, 2015

MAKE PEOPLE LOVE YOU!!!!



Rummaging through my old word-documents and found this gem that I wrote a while ago. Not sure what I was thinking...


  1. When you first meet someone, repeatedly refer to them by a catchy nick-name that you thought up yourself despite their insistence that you use their real name.

  1. Walk up to a Mother who is having a difficult time with her child and explain to the Mother the “Correct way to parent the child” in a smug manner.  Forget the fact that you’ve never had children yourself.  You’ve had years of experience babysitting.

  1. If you suspect someone is feeling down or is in pain, start talking to them in a babyish voice “pretending to sympathize” and say “Oh, I’m soooo sawwie!” Make your sarcasm very apparent.

  1. Have an extensive monologue with someone that you meet—don’t allow the person to speak for a moment.  At the end, tell the person “It was great getting to know you!” Sound very enthusiastic.

  1. Tell someone that you speak five languages fluently and then proceed to list off the 6 or 7 words that you *actually* know from the five different languages.

  1. When you cannot challenge a person’s argument with logic or evidence, attack them as a person or threaten to delete their comment.  If this doesn't get them to stop presenting their evidence, suggest to the person that “They might want to reconsider what you say or else they’ll burn in hell for all eternity.”.  

  1. While in a discussion that is getting polarized, tell the other person that they are not an authority on said subject and then proceed to present your opinions in detail about the subject at hand, despite the fact that you, too, have no authority on said subject (i.e you don't have a doctorate either).  You’re lengthy opinionating obviously trumps their lengthy opinionating.

  1. Talk about someone’s mistake over and over again to someone else while forgetting the 17 mistakes you made earlier today.

  1. After someone makes a mistake, make the comment “Everyone makes mistakes” in that annoying voice. Say it like you think the other person hasn't heard it before.