March 2, 2012
On becoming a Viking - 4
The heart of an Explorer
I've been studying viking-age history in preparation for participating in a viking-age reenactment camp at the end of June. I have patterns for and plan to make my own period-authentic clothes, shoes, tent, bedding, weapons, armor, shield, woodworking, furniture, and hand-crafted items to sell and trade.
So in the last few weeks I've been mostly researching, studying and reading. I am becoming fascinated by Archeology! I am amazed that they can even determine what some of the 1000+ year-old items are, let alone determine it's age and origin. For instance, in an excavation of an ancient sod long-house in Iceland, they lifted out and sifted the entire floor of the house one little section at a time, and found gold and glass beads that the ancient residents had dropped and couldn't find in their own dirt floor! And, it is reported that some of those glass beads were created in China! We know that the northern people were primarily farmers, fishermen, and traders, using their versatile ships to fish and transport goods. We know that they had established trade routes and towns via the sea and their boats well before what we call the beginning of the Viking age (when the pillaging started) It's also been dawning on me that exploration was well under way for the Northern Germanic people prior to and during what we call the viking age.
I've been researching the development of the Norsk people's ship-building, fishing, trading expeditions, and exploration. They wanted to know and see. It started by sailing around their own coastlines and seeing what they could see. It started by younger men and their boats moving up the coastline to find better fishing and fertile farmland, and then plopping down their roots.
I ask the question, how did they start expanding their trade? I can only imagine the scenarios. A lot of it has to do with migration of Germanic people. But a lot has to do with the heart of an explorer. We know the Vikings assimilated great knowledge from other people into their culture and made it their own. The only way they could do that is to boldly go out, with a great self-confidence and learn from observation and from other people. What is evident, according to the Authors of 'Viking Art,' David M. Wilson and Ole Klindt-Jensen, is that traders in the Viking age knew what they liked and what their customers liked and many foreign objects became study pieces to assimilate into their own style. And they were hungry to understand the outside world, and to gain more of their goods.
At a time when the known world was small, and the Romans had advanced as far north as they were going to go, the Vikings were busy charting the unknown and communicating that through their network of ships and trade. Their only boundaries were their own safety as they traveled, traded and fought off people who would plunder their wares. In some places like Novgorod and Kiev, they established strongholds, fortresses, to protect their storehouses and trade goods, and keep the trade route itself open for their own use.
There are also stories, or sagas passed down verbally of vikings who sailed out just to explore and see what was beyond. They had a confidence in their sailing abilities and were not afraid of going beyond their knowledge. It's evident in their stories they were cautious of attack from hostile tribes, but that's more an indication of what life was like for everyone in the early Viking age.
Jumping forward to now, thousands of years later, I acknowledge that my own life is more fulfilling when I'm learning and exploring. I got to know the Geography of the entire Twin Cities on my bicycle. And I brought back memories, such as the Fox on the edge of the Fort Snelling State Park, watching me bike by one foggy morning. And frequently when my wife and I are driving somewhere obscure, I'll say something like, "Oh, turn here, I know where we are!" because it turns out, I've biked there. Everywhere from Blaine to Hastings, from Stillwater to Hopkins and Eden Prairie. Bicycling changed my attitude and my life. I met a lot of people on bicycles who have the heart of an explorer. People who want to see and experience life around them and beyond their own house, family, and jobs. Last year I took a long bike ride from the Farm up North of Hinckley, about 90 miles and I learned some very interesting things.
So, In my quest to become a Viking, I'm re-instituting my bicycle exploration and I'm taking notes. A bicycle is a great way to explore, and like the ancient vikings, be out in the elements and really see the natural world around me. Just like seeing that Fox on the edge of the park, watching me.
I'm planning on making my own rope from the inner bark of a tree, like people in the Viking age did. The heart of an explorer is learning and experiencing new and foreign things. Even if they are ancient technology, lost in Modern times. Thor Heyerdahl taught me something about experiential archeology. He built a straw boat of the ancient world to prove that it could have happened and to experience it happening. By experiencing he also shed light on what it must have been like and what those ancient people went through to accomplish what they did. "Thor Heyerdahl (October 6, 1914, Larvik, Norway - April 18, 2002, Colla Micheri, Italy) was a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a background in zoology and geography. He became notable for his Kon-Tiki expedition, in which he sailed 8,000 km (5,000 mi) across the Pacific Ocean in a self-built raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands in 1947." - Wikipedia.
My first expedition by bicycle this year was to the library to check out a book called the Bicycle Diaries, by David Byrne. "Byrne's choice was initially made out of convenience rather than political motivation, but the more cities he saw from his bicycle, the more he became hooked on this mode of transport and the sense of liberation, exhilaration, and connection it provided. This point of view, from his bike seat, became his panoramic window on urban life, a magical way of opening one's eyes to the inner workings and rhythms of a city's geography and population." - from his book.
I hope to learn from Byrne's heart of exploration, and develop and record my own version of experiential archeology, and feel part of what life was like in the Viking age and experience life which I do not yet see, right now.
Category "Journal in a Jar"
February 21, 2010
What do books mean to me?
Irrelevant as some material may seem, it's still something to read. Why do I read anyway? Today I am writing about what books mean to me. I read because there is relevancy in the words we write as human beings. There is relevancy in the act of expressing ourselves because we are relevant. The book, the paper, the font, and the language used are not the relevant part of the story. Susan Weinstein wrote in an article, "We are English because English isn't about books; it's about us..." It's about our conversations, debates, stories, beliefs, criticisms, poems, loves, losses and joys. Our books reflect our human lives as we see them or can imagine them. Books are relevant to me because people are relevant.
Sometimes insolent is a better word to describe some of the books I read. The author's contempt is so thick it can be cut with a knife. But that comes from somewhere and that author may be coming from a position of fear, anger or a belief in something so strongly that it is expressed with insults and force. Do I have to read this kind of material? No, but sometimes I do and I find it relevant to the human experience. Maybe if I am too shocked or insulted by the writing it is my own insolence that is preventing me from seeing the source of it.
When books, irreverent or praising march before my eyes, they are useful to me. In the case of satire pieces, paying proper respect is not desirable and rather inhibits our sense of humor. I am a big fan of satire because I think we take ourselves too seriously sometimes. I love comic strips because of this. I love reading the Onion newspaper too because they don't hold any idea or person too high to laugh at. And I don't want to take my ideas so seriously that I cannot laugh about them.
Digging into my ideology is a key endeavor for me. Books are like mirrors on what I believe and don't believe. We all form our own ideas about human life around us. Sometimes our ideology is the same as what we are taught by our religions or teachers. But I own my own beliefs because I have systematically built them over my lifetime. When I read a book I get a chance to see what I believe about how things are and how I came to where I am at.
And digging leads to introspection about my life. I am a very reflective person and I meditate on the thoughts presented in books and on my own attitudes. Books are great for bringing attitudes to light so I can look at myself. I definitely feel a certain way and react a certain way to the things I read. I experience emotions like anger, sadness, joy and surprise. Books help me to see what I believe and think about and then examine my beliefs.
All that thinking can be insightful. It can lead to solutions to my perceived or real problems. Especially when I read something that changes my mind. For instance, when I'm struggling with how to approach a problem at work or with the people in my other activities, I find that reading helps me understand and solve my problems. I recently read a book about organizational structure and it helped me understand why the top-down hierarchical model was unsustainable in our type of non-profit organization. This was a change from my normal way of thinking about leadership and decision making. Seeing and understanding why something works the way it does is a key to solving problems.
And there can be such good information available to us in books, coming out of people's real experiences. It would be a shame if the flow of information is somehow turned off, inhibited, directed or restricted. That's one thing that happens in dystopian books like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. The internet also is a huge source of new and old information. More and more information is being put online with greater access by a broader range of people. And the format of information is changing as I type this. The time it takes new information to get to the masses is decreased to milliseconds instead of months. And this also leads to greater collaboration and better information.
As a result of reading books, my intelligence is greater than it was last year and certainly greater than it was as a child. I credit books with that. I learn a great deal from books. How could I not learn if I continuously read?
Whether a book proves good, bad, or ugly, inspiration can be sparked and I will be on fire. I wrote two novels using bits and pieces of things that I have read. And the material presented in arts and crafts books invariably weaves it's way into my creative new work. I don't believe most of the conspiracy theories I read, such as those in books like the DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown, but that doesn't stop me from being inspired by that book.
After all, my world reflects my vision and my imagination. What I create in life comes out of me. And in every paragraph and step in my life, my eyes give me meaning.That is what books mean to me.
"A room without books is like a body without a soul."
Gilbert K. Chesterton
January 20, 2008
A new skill, a new bag
Over the past month I've been learning a little how to sew things on our sewing machine. It's really an amazing machine. whoever invented this is a genius!
My first project was a simple pocket bag with the top edges folded over and sewn so there are no ragged edges. I used some old scrap flannel material. Now I keep my art cards in there.
My second project was another bag made from a portion of an old curtain. It has a draw string to one side and a loop at the top back to hook onto a belt or something. The loop was already on there to hang on the rod. So I basically folded the material over, creating a bag around that one loop. Call it creative reuse or something.
And my third sewing project is the grandest bag of all.
I sewed this bag with a double draw-string and gray-colored liner, with no raw edges showing. Basically its a bag inside of a bag. That was tough trying to figure out which side to sew together and which order to do it all in. But it worked and it's very cool.
Now I'm having dillusions of grandeur and thinking I that it's possible for me to sew my own clothes! Hats, costumes or something, someday, with a little more practice.
Sewing is fun! And it has tangible, useful results.
September 27, 2007
To Kill a City - My current reading list
I live in the city and have seen some ugly things happening. Then just the other day I read an article in a newspaper which quoted Jane Jacobs. Her ideas resonated with me. I felt a connection. As the community bike shop gets uprooted and forced to move to a different community, to serve a different community, to be part of the growth and learning of a different community, I feel kind of sad.
Basically the change occurred like this:
The owner of the building defaulted on his loans and had to sell. Run.
Developers built condos in the sea of parking lots all around it and are planning more.
New Condo owners complained about our type of business in their new upscale neighborhood.
Now the good 'neighbors' are fighting the new owners because the building is planned for work-force low-income housing. They don't want that in their neighborhood.
This got me thinking that I should learn more about what kills a city, pits 'neighbor' against neighbor. So here is my new reading list:
All three Jane Jacobs books
City Politics - Private power and public policy - Dennis R. Judd and Todd Swanstrom
Seduced by Hitler - Adam LeBor and Roger Boyes
The failures of Integration - How race and class are undermining the american dream - Sheryll Cashin
Urban Injustice - how ghettos happen - David Hilfiker, MD
and a book by James Howard Kunstler.
December 12, 2006
I finished my card game
I finished making a special deck of cards for my Korean Hangul/Hanja studies. Due to this project becoming extremely complex quickly, I narrowed the focus to the dual number systems, Pure Korean and Sino-Korean. Now I have a set of mock-up cards I can play with to further test and develop learning games for myself and others. Hey, just making the cards I learned most of the characters by heart, so maybe the making of the game is a good way to learn. Just wait until I start playing games with them! I may never be able to forget these Hanja characters. ever.
So I ended up with 21 sets of three cards for a total of 63 cards. With this deck I can play games like rummy, go fish, matching games like concentration, solitaire (putting the numbers in order?) etc. Each set contains three cards, one for the Native Korean word, the Hanja character and the Hangul pronunciation of the Hanja. I combined two different card designs I found into one to make the cards more versatile. Each card shows the other cards in the set along the side. There is no english language anywhere on the cards.
I need a good catchy title in Korean for my numbers game cards so I can make the back. Maybe something simple like the Hanja for the word "Number(s)."
Since I don't have a language partner, I have to design games I can play by myself but also that I can teach to others quickly so If I have the opportunity to play with someone else studying Korean, the barriers are low.
December 8, 2006
Driven to Learn and understand
I just finished reading the book, "Leonardo, the first scientist," by Michael White. It's a great book! I loved the writing and the clear logical appraisal of Leonardo's work and life. For sure, Leonardo had the motivation and energy to learn. Sometimes though our own attitudes and beliefs get in the way of true learning. Leonardo knew this. According to this book Leonardo held many of the beliefs of Aristotle and the ancients when he began his artistic and scientific life in Florence. Many of the ideas held as fact by the philosophers he abandoned when the truth was revealed by experience and experimentation. For example, Michael White writes about Leonardo's studies of the eye and optics. It was once believed that the way sight works is by our eyes sending out beams of light to objects and bouncing back. Through some simple experiments Leonardo proved that it cannot happen in this way. Otherwise we would not be able to see near and far things in the same amount of time instantly when we open our eyes.
It seems Leonardo understood just how vast the chasm and how incomplete human knowledge really is. This was one of his motivators for discovery. Even today, after all of the scientific wonders discovered and the vast amounts of shared knowledge, we still haven't scratched the surface of what's available to discover. If we have a desire to know.
December 3, 2006
Liebig's law of the minimum
This morning I started applying the scientific method to my learning of languages. First I gathered 6 books I have on language learning as resources. I listed the references and made notes about them. Then on another page I created a list of problems or 'bottlenecks' in my learning, such as retention. (Theory of Constraints, TOC.) And then tonight when I was researching process change and TOC for work, I ran across a name for one thing I intuitively noticed this morning about my language learning; That in my list of bottlenecks to learning Korean, or even improving my language learning process, the amount of resources available to me were not a limiter. After all I had six books on just language learning sitting in front of me. I have shelves full of language materials in several languages and I rented one Korean video out of thousands available this past week.
Liebig's law of the minimum states that growth is controlled not by the total of resources available, but by the scarcest resource. Increasing the overall amount of resources does not increase the learning. Only by increasing the amount of the limiting resource, the one most 'scarce' in relation to need, can the learning be improved. Several of those are Study time, a good multi-track learning plan, practice, memory and motivation. Language materials alone do not guarantee we will learn and retain and recall later when needed.
Barry Farber in his book, How to learn any language, made a good point. Many people spend a lot of money on books and cassettes and they end up on the shelf or in the closet getting dusty. Liebig's law of the minimum says that the availablilty of materials are not limiting my acquisition of knowledge or growth in my learning abilty, but something else is needed more.
At work, Liebig's law of the minimum applies equally. I list out the resources available and the bottlenecks and realize that it's not the availability of resources holding up the production. Throwing more software at it won't solve the problem. Knowledge of how to use the software effectively is part of the problem but not the scarcest resource.
And so I learn to learn.
November 29, 2006
The Sceintific Method is what I need
I am thinking that in order to do and learn everything I wish to do and learn, I must apply a logical, methodical, detailed approach and progress based on experimentation and advancing knowledge. In other words, I need to learn from my mistakes and alter my perceptions and theories until the truth is uncovered. Science is really the uncovering of truths that already exist. So if truth is found there can be no argument. If there is argument, then truth has not been found and there is no science. So Leonardo tells me.
So now my quest begins to apply scientific method to my learning in all areas of interest. I will start notebooks and track my experiments and conclusions.
And since I started a new job, I did already start a work journal from day one. I now have 6-1/2 weeks of daily notes, which have come in handy already for formulating theories and strategies. Now I need a new method to use my observations and discoveries.
In language learning I have not progressed as I hoped, and partially it's because I do not apply the language learning principles I had already discovered and learned. I have not found better ways to learn. I have not found better ways to retain language information. So now I start a fourth journal - language learning. Did you know that in addition to this blog I have also kept a journal for the last several years that I carry around with me. In studying Leonardo di Vinci, I find I can really relate to him. I have so many interests, and so much I'd like to know and experience, there is no limit to what I could occupy my time with.
So I need better methods.
April 30, 2006
Hanja as a motivation tool
I did not know it would happen this way, but it has. This is the brief story of how I regained my motivation to study the Korean language, and languages in General...
First I met a man my age intensely studying Japanese at the coffee shop. He studies daily and has been fun to talk to about linguistics and language learning, AND the commonalities between Japanese and Korean. So we've been talking since about January off and on. His enthusiasm and determination is inspiring. It's catchy you know?! He has the same attitude toward language learning I had in the first two semesters of Korean at the U. In the third semester I lost much of my motivation for learning. I like my new friends attitude. "Can't" is not part of his vocabulary. He's methodical and experimental. When one thing doesn't work, he tries another. He uses both traditional flashcards and watches newscasts and movies. He also listens to audio and practices speaking out loud. Many of these language learning techniques prove to be useful.
He's been studying Hanja, or Chinese characters. He has all of radicals memorized and can look things up in the character dictionary. It was very interesting for me. Yesterday I went to Half-Price Books in the Highland Park business district and ta-da! I found a Korean/Hanja book. It covers the 1800 chinese characters taught in Korean schools, along with the corresponding Hangul. Very cool. My task for today was to learn the Hanja characters for the Korean days of the week. Sun, Moon, Fire, Water, Tree, Gold and Earth. As an additional learning tool, I stopped by a local store where the Chinese shop owner wrote the actual Chinese equivalent of the days of the week, which turns out are the numbers one through seven with the addition of the character for the word 'day', ie. 'day one,' 'day two,' 'day three,' etc.
Anyway, after studying Hanja for a day, I can write these seven characters fairly well by memory. It's motivating and encouraged me to study more. I like it. I think my motivation has been building, because languages really are fun. The thoughts and feelings of people are shared with others through language. I don't think it was the Hanja itself that motivated me but it definately pushed me over the top. Learning the history of Chinese characters was very fascinating and interesting. There are over 50,000 chinese characters, but really only about 4,000 are necessary to be fairly fluent in the common every day language. One thing that is interesting to me is how about 60 percent of the Korean vocabulary is borrowed from Chinese. I love practicing and writing these very specific symbols, that have very specific writing directions. One of my goals with this is to make an artistic calendar of the days of the week in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Hanja using symbology and imagery related to the meanings of the characters. Fun. I am excited by the possibilities and the creative side of learning.
April 28, 2006
What I am currently reading
I think it's good to read widely and don't settle for less. Sometimes I read a lot, sometimes not so much, but in all I keep reading and am not afraid to read different points of view or ideas from different cultures. So just for you insight into my current life, here is what I am currently reading:
The Book of Masks, by Hwang Sun-won, a master of Korean short stories.
Conquering Depression, by Wina Sturgeon
To Celebrate a Time, by Mary Virginia Micka
The Path of Power, by Sun Bear
What every person wants to know about Prayer, by Marilyn Hickey
Frank Lloyd Wright, Writings and Buildings, by Kaufmann and Raeburn
Never Before: Poems about first Experiences.
No matter when you graduate, or even if you don't, continue learning. Continue learning because it's what we do as human beings. Don't settle for less.
March 21, 2006
Priorities and Blessings
Over the years I've become more aware of one of the 'purposes' of our lives. That is to better manage our gifts, talents and resources, setting priorities. Think of it this way... Let's say we all keep getting more intelligent, wiser, and more 'God-Like' as we get older and grow. Hopefully we gain wisdom and learn from our mistakes. With knowledge comes responsibility. We have the power to destroy millions of people with an atomic bomb, but is it such a good idea? We have to use restraint and also don't want proliferation of these weapons and don't want to have to use them. It's a scary thought. We'd like to continue to live. On a more basic level, knowledge requires that we act and think more responsibly. We also have a duty to do things that we know are right. For instance, if you have never been trained in surgery, you can hardly be expected to start cutting to try to solve an artery blockage. But if you are a trained surgeon, and you know you can save a life, isn't it your duty to do what you can do? It creates quite a burdon to do the right thing regardless of how much it interferes with our own lives or enjoyment. The more power we have to do something, the more important it becomes for us to make better and better choices about how to use our time, talents and resouces. I can't do everything at once so what is most important to do?
This leads me to priorities...Tonight I decided it was more important to help a friend with writing an important letter. We worked on clarifying what he meant, grammar, and other things. I knew that whatever I did would be a big help to him because he has a slight language barrier, at least more than I do. At the same time, I have a presentation to give tomorrow, which I'm not ready for. I decided it was more important to help my friend first, right after work. That took two hours. Then I worked for another 2-1/2 hours on my presentation and rode home. I was going to do some artwork tonight, but that never happened. I only have so much time in each day, and too many things I want to be doing, so I have to make priorities.
One advantage though to this process tonight was that I was all alone at work tonight and I was very productive! No interuptions and no distractions. I'm nearly ready for my presentation. Tomorrow morning I'll wrap things up and go do it. Now I'm off to bed. I have lived part of my purpose in life, to learn to make good priority choices. To me another human being's need is greater than my artwork. I'm learning. :-)
March 11, 2006
I received schooling today
With humble gratitude I learned a lesson today. That is that I have a lot to learn about the bike business. Especially the value of old bikes. What happens when I get a bike donated that is worth way more than I know? I agree to sell it to the next person who walks in the door that wants an inexpensive bike to ride.
I have a lot to learn about bicycle collecting. But I don't want to know about that. I just want to get people back on bikes, not hang bikes on the wall, though they look like art sometimes. So today I learned something. Collectors want the authentic thing, even if it's non-functional and they'll pay for it. But people who just want to ride don't really care if it's authentic parts or not, as long as it's safe and functional. It's still nice if it looks cool, but it better function.
I'm all for functional art that doesn't cost too much. If there is such a thing. I learned a lesson that I have to research bike and component values some though, so I have the basic bike business knowledge necessary to do this as a business.
Sometimes the best learning is by making mistakes, don't you think? I'm thankful for the friend who pointed out my error.
March 31, 2005
1963 Raleigh Sports Menís 3-Speed
As I mentioned, I was trying out eBay to buy a bike. Below is a history of the bidding that went on. It only shows the others outbidding me and all of my counter bids are not listed. My limit was set to $50 dollars, which in my opinion was more than the bike is really worth. Iíve seen similar bikes that are in near-perfect condition that are selling for $120.00. This bike needs a LOT of work and cash to remove the rust, repaint and restore it to that kind of condition. If I had actually won this bid at 50.00, the minimum it would have cost me would be $80.00 with shipping, maybe a little more. How much does it cost to strip and paint a bike frame, two fenders and a chain guard and have it look professional? Letís say conservatively $100.00 for that whole process. That puts the cost of this bike for me at $180 dollars and rising. New cables maybe, or possibly $10.00 for new brake pads? Maybe the tires are dry-rotted. If I buy standard road tires for this bike at $30.00 for both, then my cost of ownership just became $220.00. Is this rusty old bike really worth $220.00 to me? And then the current high bid is at $66.00 so if I happened to be able to hold on to a $70.00 bid, that cost would actually be $240.00! No. Iíll let someone else restore this one. I donít think even a collector would spend that much for this bike in the poor condition that itís in. As a collectorís item even repainting detracts from the value as an original specimen. Anyone have an old English-made menís 3-speed they want to give to a good home or sell to me for a reasonable cost? I might start looking at all the thrift stores and garage sales.
So far I have not had much luck with eBay. I have only tried it two times before and both times someone bid all crazy-like on items I thought were not worth as much as they were bidding. Either they know something I donít about the value of an item, or they want it no matter how much it costs. And they will get it.
robisama ( 0 ) US $66.00 Mar-31-05 12:29:36 PST
aloyse_2 ( 0 ) US $65.00 Mar-31-05 12:20:11 PST
aloyse_2 ( 0 ) US $60.00 Mar-31-05 12:17:10 PST
robisama ( 0 ) US $55.53 Mar-31-05 10:32:57 PST
robisama ( 0 ) US $53.53 Mar-31-05 10:31:28 PST
robisama ( 0 ) US $50.53 Mar-31-05 10:28:51 PST
MY HIGHEST BID: ( 0 ) US $50.00 Mar-28-05 19:27:59 PST
robisama ( 0 ) US $40.53 Mar-31-05 10:27:59 PST
robisama ( 0 ) US $30.53 Mar-31-05 10:25:43 PST
robisama ( 0 ) US $23.53 Mar-31-05 10:24:57 PST
robisama ( 0 ) US $18.53 Mar-31-05 10:24:25 PST
robisama ( 0 ) US $15.53 Mar-31-05 10:23:38 PST
bbburke ( 31) US $10.00 Mar-29-05 22:46:22 PST
bbburke ( 31) US $5.00 Mar-29-05 22:00:46 PST
bbburke ( 31) US $2.00 Mar-29-05 22:00:21 PST
Some observations about my experience with eBay shopping:
1. It encouraged compulsive behavior in me, checking the site more frequently than I really had to in order to see if I was still winning the bid. But having someone surpass my highest bid solved that problem! ;-) Now I donít have to check anymore.
1. The cost of shipping is stated in most cases, but it is something to consider when bidding. Depending on the item it could be more expensive than the item itself.
2. Because Iíve been outbid a few times now and my upper limit has been too low, Iím going to find a way to check the actual value of items before I start bidding on it. Maybe Iím wrong about my reasoning, but it would help me to know this value so I donít feel bad about sticking to my highest bid number.
3. I was getting kind of excited about doing a bicycle restoration project and rebuilding something from frame up. But now I have to put that on hold until I find the right bike. I donít need to do it, but the experience would be good for me, and it would give me a piece of history to ride around on for nice leisurely day trips in the English touring style, purposefully making as many stops as possible and sharing the company of other riders. Even if it takes all day to go 30 or 40 miles! Haha. But now that the bidding is over and I donít have a bike that needs restoring that daydream will have to wait.
4. If people are so willing to spend their money on eBay items and pay for shipping, I should try selling some things up there. My sister does it all the time, and she says itís easy. One of my co-workers does it and he says itís easy. So all that stuff I didnít sell at the garage sale thatís taking up space? Ebay? Anyone want an old electric typewriter? To me it sounds like more work than taking my things to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. If they donít want it, then itís probably not worth anything to someone on eBay. But then again, someone wanted to spend $66.00 for a really rusty Raleigh 3-speed that I was hoping to buy for .99 cents plus shipping.
Honestly I did feel kind of a let down when those other two bidders out-bid me. Itís ok, it was an experiment for me anyway, but I did still feel like I lost a contest or something. Iím actually glad I did not have to spend what I put down for a maximum bid, because I was feeling like that was even too high for that item. But then when I saw someone over-bid that maximum, I did think about raising my bid. That would have been irrational though, I think, so it was a fleeting thought.
I wonder if there are people who do not control themselves on eBay and end up getting a bad deal? Iím not saying this bike wasnít worth what it will go for because I donít really know the collectorís value of a bike in this condition without somehow looking it up. I guess any object is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.
This experience was valuable to me and I didnít actually have to buy anything. How nice is that?
March 5, 2005
Why the Ďwet testí is not very accurate
So Iíve been looking for running shoes and have done a fair amount of research into what I really need. Several people I know have told me to just go to a running store that has knowledgeable staff that can find the right shoe for me. But in my reasoning I felt like I should know what I needed before buying expensive shoes that may or may not be better for me. I looked online and in the Runnerís World magazine and asked people that I knew what they thought of the things I was learning.
In the Runnerís World magazine they rate shoes and even give advice on how to select the proper shoes for our foot types. According to them there are three basic foot types, based on your arch: 1. Normal (medium) Arch, 2. Flat (low) arch, and 3. High Arch. Normal Arch people are normal pronators, Flat-footed people are Over Pronators and High Arch people are underpronators. This has to do with how the foot rolls when it strikes the ground. According to the running experts, each shoe is designed with a particular type of body and stride in mind. But really thatís mind washing because all the sales people, and the magazine articles really look at is your arch.
There are motion control shoes, neutral-cushioned shoes, stability shoes and performance training shoes, each designed with a particular arch in mind. Runnerís World magazine had this test online to determine what type of arch you have. Following their guidance, I put my bare foot in water then stepped on a brown grocery bag to make a print of my foot. This shows how much of your foot strikes the paper. After reading all about pronation and arch types and shoe types, I thought I was wise enough to go into the store and know if they were selling me any old shoe. I thought I had normal arches with normal pronation, which should mean I would wear a Stability shoe. According my Ďwet testí I have normal arches, neither high nor low.
When I got to the store, the place was really busy. I was told this store in particular was run by runners and they really knew what they were talking about. It makes sense that if they have a lot of experience, they should be able to help me better than a more general sporting goods store where they sell everything and their salespeople donít actually use the products. I waited for help, mainly because I didnít want to select any old shoe just by appearance, and I wanted to hear what they were going to recommend. When it was my turn I told the saleslady that I wanted a running shoe that had more cushion than my current shoes because my legs felt like they were getting pounded. Then I made the mistake of mentioning that I took the Ďwet testí to check my arches already. She wasnít impressed or remotely enthused. She was probably thinking, ďOh God, hereís another one that reads something in a magazine and thinks they are an expert runner.Ē She insisted I take off my shoes and she would check for herself. She informed me that the Ďwet testí is not really accurate because you have to look at the arches to see how high the arch is off the ground, not just whether it touches. I thought, ďYeah, that makes sense. A really low arch could be off the ground but low enough that it needs extra support. A high-arched foot could have more surface area on the ground, but the arch could still be very high.Ē So what I thought were normal arches, she said were flat. That means that I should be an over-pronator and require a motion-control shoe to control that excess pronation. According to my research these shoes are better for runners who are flat-footed or strike hard on their heels and for heavier runners who need support and durability. Iím not heavy and I donít strike hard on my heels. Also based on the wear on my shoes, my feet are rolling off in the center of the toes, which means my pronation is very normal, not over or under rolling. But I saw her point about how low my arches looked. So I just let her bring on the shoes that were supposed to fit my arch type.
After trying on about 7 pair by several manufacturers I finally eliminated the Nikeís, Adidas, New Balance and some other shoe and settled on one pair of Asics. Out of all of these, this one pair seemed like what I was looking for. It felt good. According to my research though, She should have been selling me a Motion Control shoe, when what I ended up with was a Stability shoe. Thatís what I originally determined I needed for a normal arch. I donít actually think there is much difference between these two shoe types anyway, but it did leave me wondering how much knowledge is enough. I got some new running shoes that feel good and have good cushion and arch support, so I guess I can keep running. I could have just skipped my research and took the advice of the experts and bought what they told me, and saved myself hours of reading time.
This reminds me, another one of my daughterís journal topics was, ďHow much education should a person get? Why? This question sounds like itís asking for a grade level or how high of a degree a person should achieve, and if thatís the case I think the question should be rephrased to something like, ďWhen should a person stop learning?Ē I think we all are perpetual learners and can never assume we know everything, because there is always more to learn. I didnít waste the time I spent learning about shoes, because I learned more by having a basic understanding already. I also learned that even the experts donít know everything and sometimes contradict each other. In these cases the only recourse is to either take their advice or leave it. When I get out and run with my new shoes Iíll learn even more about the construction and function of specific shoe types, by experience. How much learning should we do in our lifetime?
The 'wet test' is not very accurate because it's not enough.
February 11, 2005
Today I tried to study Korean again. It was difficult. And then I return home. Now I have to sleep.
오늘은 한국어를 다시 공부해봤어요. 그렇지만 어려워요.
затем возращаются домой. Jetz mŁss ich schlaffen.
Here are three sentences in foreign Languages, with the translation in English above. I wrote in Korean, Russian, German and English and easily switched between the four.
I can do this for other character sets also. I discovered that in order to type with one of these alphabets, I have to have a keyboard designed for it, or map my keyboard to one of them. To do this I downloaded the Microsoft Global IME. Once installed, you can select multiple languages to use with it. Then to figure out which keys on my keyboard type which character, I just had to experiment in a blank document by typing each key. I can type right into this blog entry edit box or in any Windows program like Microsoft Word. When I post this blog, the characters are automatically converted to unicode characters so there really is nothing to it.
I used a sharpie marker to write the characters for Korean and Russian on my keyboard, but they keep wearing off. After the letters dried, I put some fingernail polish over the letters and that works for a long time. You might have to reapply it every so often. But make sure the marks are really dry before applying the fingernail polish or the letters will run and not look very sharp/clear.
I lost the site to download the Global IME, but it should be easy to search for. To practice Korean and Russian, I'll be adding some comments in those languages and character sets in my blog, but I'll always give an English translation for whatever I write.
Writing practice is a good learning tool.
January 31, 2005
A different approach to language learning
Yesterday at lunch was my last meeting with my language partner. Iím really sad to see him go. I'm going to really miss our conversations and friendship. Because my language learning motivation has stalled, I havenít been very productive with him lately. I have learned to do just what is necessary in the language class to get a grade. I realized that doing what it takes to get a grade is what most students do. That is exactly what I thought I would not do. The attitude I approached my classes at the U with was, ďIím on a mission to really learn the language.Ē Except in the classes they teach a series of grammar lessons in a row. I call it Ďgrammar on parade.í Each lesson comes and goes and the students move on to the next, forgetting about the vocab and grammar from each previous lesson until the final exam, at which time they attempt to cram everything back in. The pressure and volume of homework and quizzes throughout the course prevent really learning the material thoroughly. There is little repetition. I vowed that this semester I am getting back to my original motivation and attitudes. That is to have fun with these languages. Iím a lifelong learner and had planned to learn several languages the rest of my life. But I know it can get really frustrating when taking a class, with all the pressures and demands of it. The burden of learning is still on the student, but the methods of teaching modern language courses sometimes resemble the dark ages and could sap the life out of any learning process until itís back to rote memorization. Thatís what teachers know how to test. And even if they want to break from tradition, they are not capable of developing an individual learning plan for each student. Itís not feasible for most instructors to tailor their learning materials and change or develop whole new curriculum when one is not working. Most curriculums are selected and used but that doesnít mean they are perfect or well suited to a particular group of students.
As you might know, Iím currently reading a book called ďHow to think like Leonardo da Vinci.Ē In the book there is a section on learning a foreign language. This material is not new to me, because Iíve read several books on how to learn foreign languages, but it is a fresh reminder to me about how to bring the joy back into language learning.
Here is the advice the book gives and how I think the University classes contradict these ideas of language learning, mainly to show what is missing and what I need to include in my language learning to not only survive the course, but really learn something (keep in mind that their example is for learning Italian, but substitute any foreign language):
∑ ďBe willing to make lots of mistakes. Bambinos do not worry about looking cool or instantly achieving perfect pronunciation and grammar; they just dive in and speak. Your progress in learning will correlate directly with your willingness to play and to embrace feelings of unfamiliarity and foolishness.Ē The University classes discourage mistakes and grade harshly for mistakes. The current classroom process intimidates most students. Especially when there are much more fluent speakers taking the same class as beginning students. Playing with the language and not worrying about making a fool out of ourselves is not practiced in the classroom, where grammar lessons are written on the board and students practice completing the sentences using the grammar. Students feverishly write down the examples on the board for self-study later.
∑ ďHave you ever noticed how babies will find a word or phrase and repeat it over and over? Do the same: repetition is the simplest secret of recall.Ē In the University class, there is the Ďparade of grammar,í one lesson passing by at a time, until the semester is over. Repetition is minimal. Even during class, new examples and vocab are used with new grammar each class period. So students end up memorizing vocab only for the quiz they face during that class period, then move on and forget previous vocab until the final at which time they cram it all in again, or at least try.
∑ ďIf possible, start your learning process with an ďimmersion course.Ē Just as a rocket needs most of its energy to launch and fly out of our atmosphere, you will get the most from your learning if you launch your efforts with a concentrated program. Your Ďintensiveí will Ďjump-startí your brain circuitry to start rewiring for your new language.Ē The University classes are far from immersion courses. There is little audio and visual instruction, and even though the classes load the students down with intense textbook work, teaching is done primarily in English and students talk to each other primarily in English and directions are written in English and there is no graduated progression into all-immersion. Students are still speaking English with the teacher and other students at the end of the semester. My language partner suggested to me once, that I forget about the University class and come to Korea for a month. He said it would be a better education than 4 semesters at the university. That may be a little harsh, but immersion is motivation to learn faster.
∑ ďIf you canít find a formal immersion course, then create your own by listening to audiocassettes, watching Italian-language movies with subtitles, learning the lyrics of great Italian songs like ďRondini al NidoĒ and ďSanta Lucia,Ē singing along to Pavarotti recordings, sitting in Italian espresso bars and just listening to people talking, and going to real Italian restaurants and ordering in the native tongue. If you tell the waiter that you are trying to learn the language and ask for help, you will usually get a free Italian lesson, even better service, and sometimes extra antipasto!Ē When I tried to get help with translating some popular Korean and Russian songs, the teachers told me not to do that at this time, it was too advanced. I say we need to do all of these things regularly because we donít get it in class. Thatís one reason I go to Korean groceries and restaurants. Even if I just practice saying hello and goodbye and thank you, and please give me ...
∑ ďLearn words and phrases related to areas of passionate interest. Many language programs are a bit boring because they focus on necessary but mundane matters such as ďWhere is the station?Ē and ďHere is my passport.Ē In addition to these everyday matters, aim to learn the language of romance, sex, poetry, art, fine food, and wine.Ē That sounds like the classes Iíve taken at the University and other places. I started doing this on my own, but somehow lost my energy for these things.
∑ ďPut Italian translation Post-it notes on everything in your house.Ē I did this with Russian but not with Korean. I have a picture on my wall in the dining room with two autumn leaves in it and to this day when I see a leaf I now immediately think ĎLeestí in Russian. I still donít know that word in Korean.
∑ ďMost important, open yourself to the feeling of the language and culture. When you speak, pretend you are an Italian (I recommend Marcello Mastroianni or Sophia Loren, for starters). Adopt the expressive gestures and facial expressions that go with the language; you will have more fun and learn much faster.Ē I donít even know who the famous Koreans are and havenít been exposed to them enough to imitate them. Our listening comprehension practice in and out of class has been minimal. During class pronunciation and feeling were not emphasized.
∑ ďBuild your own lexicon.Ē Leonardo da Vinci defined over nine thousand words in his notebooks and said, ďI possess so many words in my native language that I ought rather to complain of not understanding things than lacking for words to express my thoughts properly.Ē Even though I made flashcards for learning words each day, I only at the end of my last class started writing down lists of related words and memorizing phrases using each word. This is a great building of a working lexicon that expands our vocabulary at a faster pace.
My goal is to visit Korea next year, in 2006 right after the spring semester is over. I have a lot of work to do to prepare myself for that experience. Using the above guidelines as well as previous ideas I had, like journaling in these languages, and watching news broadcasts online in Korean, I will be ready.
Learning is la bella lingua! The beautiful language!
January 24, 2005
Bringing back the Joy
I know this is not encouraging to some of you language learners out there, but Iíve completely stopped learning all languages. As I explain, I hope you will understand. I talk a lot about motivation and some of you who know me well, know that I am extremely busy, and never lack things to do. To do as much as I have been doing, Iíve had to give up some things and have had to motivate myself to do things I didnít really care to do. Regardless of what we get ourselves into there seems to be some things we donít enjoy about it, but we have to do it anyway.
Well, I didnít completely give up on Language learning, because over the last couple of weeks Iíve been sipping on some really awesome yoo-ja cha (Citron preserve tea) Itís a Korean product and itís healthy. It contains about 3 times the amount of vitamin C as a lemon. (so Iíve been told) Also a couple of weeks ago, my Russian friend showed me again how to make Turkish coffee. To me itís like making espresso on the stovetop in a funny bell-shaped pot with a wide bottom and narrow neck. We also talked about making Tvor-rog, a Russian homemade cottage cheese. To me these are some of the fun parts of languages. Yes, food is part of our language. Itís part of the real language in each of our daily lives. When I learn languages Iím not just learning words, Iím learning lives. Iím learning lifestyles and hobbies and how life is for the select people I come into contact with or read about.
This last Fall Semester at the UoM killed my enjoyment of the Korean Language and even of learning any language. I havenít pinpointed the source of my troubles yet, but Iíve been thinking about it a lot. Regrettably, I wonít be taking the fourth semester of Korean this year at the U. Iím taking a year off. Many people donít agree with my decision, for various reasons, but it really came down to how much money I have available. I simply wonít be able to afford it this Semester. Itís really sad news to me, because I would have found a way to do what I had to do to finish my two years of Korean for the language requirement, even if it was drudgery. This last semester proved to me I could do that. Now I have to wait a whole year to take the fourth semester of it. So in spite of tough talk about motivation and attitude, I end up making a tough decision. Quitting anything is extremely hard for me.
But maybe itís for the better, because I will attempt to get the joy back into learning languages as I restudy all of my previous material and play with the languages I love. (making more food is part of the plan and visiting more with my friends in the various languages Iím learning.)
I quit something else recently also, which was really hard for me to do. My good friend Cecilia talked to me and consoled me on that. Thatís also related to money. Iíve been supporting several people around the globe for several years and due to my current financial condition, I had to finally stop it all. It was not easy. This morning I got a call of despair from one family in India who Iíve been helping. I felt like crap. But as Cecilia told me, maybe this is for the better too, because what I was doing was not helping them live for themselves, but was enabling them to rely on me. My original goals were very specific and were enabling to all of these people, like buying medicine for a sick baby that would have died, or paying tuition and living expenses for someone so they could finish their education. But then in some cases, I just continued the support them even after the initial purpose was met. What I was doing was not sustainable. And I kept adding people to my list without increasing my revenues available for this purpose.
But I was still sad and that phone call this morning was heart wrenching. I could do nothing for my friends who called me this morning except tell them I was sorry. But I canít help my situation immediately. There are some good reasons why I am having financial trouble, but it has nothing to do with my willingness to work hard. Iím already working seven days per week. I have higher heating bills this year, I have unexpected college expenses from my son, I have a daughter who just started driving Ė insurance costs are staggering, I have expenses for my wifeís business that she is trying to get going, and other specific things. Itís all cumulative. I know I have to work at improving how I handle these parts of my life also. So thatís part of my challenge moving forward.
Now that you know the real reason Iím not taking the Korean class this semester, I want to talk about the loss of joy in my language learning over the last year. Even though I got an A in every class Iíve taken at the U of M since returning to college, I felt like I didnít learn anything this semester. To me real learning is being able to apply what I learn to my life. Information is just information until it becomes experience, knowledge. I felt like this semester and part of the previous one, I wasnít really doing that, at least not in my language studies. I felt like I was going backwards in my progression. Somehow I managed to do well enough on the quizzes, homework and exams, but my retention was getting worse. Gradually I was losing my joy for languages. As I learned a while ago, joy is an integral part of language learning.
In a Cadalyst Magazine article from August, 1999, Mark Middlebrook, the author of ďCoping with CAD burnoutĒ wrote about job burnout. In the article he stated that ďIt helps to recognize two characteristics of human nature:
Sharp people need to be challenged.
Human endurance has its limits.
Burnout is usually a result of violating one or both of these principles for an extended period of time. That is, people burn out because they are bored, overworked, or both.Ē
Although I think burnout is a real problem, there is also something missing from this explanation. That is the lack of Joy and enthusiasm for what we are doing. For many years I worked in a very high-stress computer consulting job doing sales, training, technical support and programming related to Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software. I spent a lot of time working overtime and loved it. I loved what I was doing and the difference I was making in other peopleís lives. To me it was the most rewarding job I have ever done. Unfortunately the company didnít make it and I moved on to something less demanding. In this case I did need something to challenge me, but without the joy in what I was doing, without having it matter to me, the job would have been impossible to maintain. I was overworked but didnít feel like it. The same is true with my work now. I work a lot, but burnout wonít make me quit, because I love what Iím doing. The difference is in the attitude. What will kill this part time job for me will be the day when I no longer find joy in doing the job (or if something happens with the company I cannot control, which I doubt will happen in this case, since it seems like a well-managed company.) Also, my other interests might move up higher on my priority list and then I would have to make a decision about what to cut out. Marks second principle has an application here also because even given the proper motivation I realize I cannot do everything at once, due to lack of time, resources and physical energy. I have to sleep too. Haha. So, even though Mark is right, I need to be challenged and I have my limits, the missing principal is that human beings need to find joy in what they are doing. Without it, itís drudgery. Itís a chore that we resist mentally, emotionally and physically. We will burn out for sure if we are lacking joy.
Markís answer to this burnout is (written from a managerís perspective):
1. Keep them learning
2. Challenge them
3. Donít isolate them
4. Protect them and fight for them when necessary
5. Remember that you canít win Ďem all (despite your best efforts some people will still leave)
6. Know yourself (so you donít ruin it for others by your own burnout)
And Iíll add, Ďfind the things that make it joyful to do in the first place and reinforce and encourage those things.í
Two examples of this:
In Star Trek, Captain Kirk was promoted to the rank of Admiral, which removed him from what he really loved doing, exploring the galaxy, making a direct, hands on difference. Also, one of my former co-workers was promoted to manager from a drafter and it removed him from doing the drawings he loved doing. He only lasted one year as a manager and had to quit. His energy and enthusiasm was sapped. He no longer had joy in his job. He wasnít over-worked. His job was challenging but he didnít like doing it. He liked the hands on drawing and creation process in drafting.
So, how do I bring the joy back into my Language learning? Find what I love about languages again and do more of it, nurture it, reinforce it and encourage it in myself.
December 13, 2004
One thing I noticed tonight while practicing speaking Korean with my language partner is that when he uses a word that I don't know, I tend to focus on that word and it stops me in my tracks like a road block. I lose all comprehension of the rest of the sentence. Tonight the example was the word, "about, concerning (something)" I learned a different word for that and now he uses something I don't know and I'm lost. Another one was the word for "having interest in (something)" These are kind of critical parts of the sentence as far as meaning is concerned and not knowing them I sit there speachless, not knowing how to respond.
November 17, 2004
Leonardo Da Vinci in his notebooks, (pg.622) talks about proportion in all things. He was a master of studying physical proportions for his artwork and illustrations, but also for other things.
He said, "Proportion is not only found in numbers and measurements but also in sounds, weights, times, positions, and in whatsoever power there may be."
I wonder how that applies to language learning. I know the number of hours I spend studying is proportional to the grade I get on my exams. haha.
Also I wonder what proportion of words for instance of a total vocabulary are used in daily communications.
Also I wonder how proportion is present in our spiritual lives. If we think about Karma, there is proportion and direct correlation between actions and consequences. If we think about sin, there is a direct correlation between sin and the consequences of sin. It's difficult to measure unless we are very observant and unless we experience it I think.
This morning on the bus there was a proportion of 17:3 of Women riders to men riders. I found that interesting.
November 9, 2004
I don't want to discourage you
Today my instructor told me that I should hold my serious questions for during a break or after class. She said that because I am viewed by other students as an A student, I'm discouraging them when I'm stuck on one issue. ???? wow, I thought that when we have questions, that's the appropriate time to ask them. I tried to tell her that if I'm frustrated, then think what it's like for the rest of the students. Anyway, what's discouraging is a teacher who discourages questions.
November 8, 2004
I met with my Korean language partner tonight and had a great dinner at Phoí 79. I love that soup! In Korean Style, we ate the soup contents with chopsticks and used a spoon for the broth. After dinner we went back near the University Campus to a nice coffee shop on Washington Avenue. We stayed there until about 9:00pm and talked about the Korean Language and learning problems. One of the subjects that came up was memorization. In Korea the main style of education was based on rote memorization of facts and words and expressions. Now things are changing. A broader context and getting students to think and problem solve in learning is stressed more. My language partner said that memorization has itís limits. Often we memorize things for tests but then promptly forget them. Then when it comes time for the final exams we have to learn everything all over again. I have experienced this myself. Pure memorization of words in foreign languages is great for adding items to our short term memory. But if not practiced and used in different contexts, words that we memorize are lost after a short time.
My memory is challenged. I really have to work hard at remembering things anyway and working with languages Iíve had to come up with better methods of learning or it just wasnít working.
In any case, there are a couple of things that Iím discovering about memory that are highlighted in some of the articles listed here. First, memory is a physical, electrical, chemical function of our brain. Information is not only stored in our brain, but also processed and organized and recalled on demand. So, proper functioning of our brain for memory is important. Treating our brain properly is therefore a good strategy to improve our memory. This includes the fuel for our brains and the proper rest.
Secondly, we can change and improve our memory. Attitude makes a big difference in our memory capability.
So, along these lines of thought, below are some articles I found very informative and useful. To read the full article, please click on the link at the end of each excerpt. Also on the website that these articles came from, you can do a search for specific topics, like ďMemory Retention.Ē This kind of search will result in many articles that are related to ĎmemoryĒ or ďmemory retention.Ē The oneís listed here are just a sampling from this wonderful database:
Emotions Affect Memory Retention
NEW YORK, Feb 22 (Reuters Health) -- The emotional impact of a particular image or event appears to have a profound influence on its place in long-term memory, researchers conclude.
The amygdala -- a part of the brain that plays a role in emotion -- "is important in modulating memory for events according to their emotional importance, regardless of whether the nature of the emotion is pleasant or aversive," conclude Dr. Stephen Hamann and colleagues at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Their findings are published in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience...
Testosterone Tied to Memory
Prostate cancer patients who were deprived of it forgot things faster than healthy men
THURSDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDayNews) -- Men who are given testosterone-deprivation treatment for prostate cancer forget things faster than healthy men, says a study by Oregon Health & Science University researchers.
The researchers found that word retention among men undergoing testosterone deprivation decreased rapidly only two minutes after they learned words, even though they were able to initially learn words as well as healthy men.
This rapid decline in memory suggests that the lack of testosterone impacts the function of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls learning and memory...
Sleep Replenishes the Memory Bank
Studies find a good night's shut-eye revives verbal, motor skills
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDayNews) -- If you want to improve your recall, try getting more shut-eye at night.
Two studies appearing in the Oct. 9 issue of Nature found human memory improves after sleeping.
Each study looked at memory for different tasks -- one tested participants on motor skills and the other on speech memory -- but participants performed better after sleeping in both studies.
"A full night of sleep is critical to enhancing learning," says an author of one of the studies, Matthew Walker, an instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "It's almost as though at night an editor comes in while you're sleeping and reorganizes and enhances your memories to prepare them for the next day."... http://www.personalmd.com/news.jsp?nid=515450
Research confirms the virtues of 'sleeping on it'
Recent studies show that both slow-wave and REM sleep are important for consolidating learning and memory--and perhaps even for solving intractable problems.
Researchers have increasingly recognized, in recent years, that sleep serves many functions, including providing an opportunity for the body to rest, facilitating metabolic and endocrine function, and enabling "offline" memory processing...
...In the case of sleep's effect on learning and memory, for example, studies have produced conflicting results over the years, with some linking REM sleep, in particular, to improved memory, and others failing to find such effects. But recent investigations have yielded new insight into sleep's role in memory and learning. The research confirms what some sleep experts have long theorized: that sleep is critical for firming up the learning that took place during the day--a process known as memory consolidation...
How to exercise your mind
(HealthDayNews) -- If you've been lamenting that your memory isn't what it used to be, take heart. Memory is a skill that can be sharpened and improved at any age, according to Connecticut College.
Give your brain a regular workout by:
Want a Better Memory? Practice, Practice, Practice
Mnemonic techniques the tool of choice for memory masters
MONDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthScoutNews) -- Ever been envious of a friend who knows everyone's telephone number by heart? Or of your partner's ability to never forget a name?
Having an excellent memory may not be as elusive as you think.
People with superior memories don't have brains different from those less successful at remembering, a new study by British researchers has found. Rather, people renown for their memory have trained certain parts of their brain to store and retrieve information, a feat that others with less proficient memories have not yet mastered...