March 2012 Archives

Ready. Aim. Fire.

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After reading the prompt, i instantly knew this was the blog i had to do. I am a strong believer in the idea that in Western society, we tend to rush to conclusions and hurry to solve a problem without really thinking a lot about the long-term. I've always felt that America at least has always been okay with a short-term answer to a long term problem, and that in itself is a huge problem. I plan on addressing that throughly in my career, as it seems like it is going to the main problem facing not only Western society but the whole world. As an Architect in this current time and age, one where only now are we beginning to see the effects of our cheap short-term answers, as questions of sustainability are constantly brought forth every single day, me and my colleagues are going to need to adapt a more Eastern style of problem solving. There are questions involving the sustainability of our planet (global warming) and even society (how will we continue without oil in a world based around a car as transport) that simply cannot, for the sake of humanity, be answered with another quick, "we'll worry about that again in 20 years" answer. Its up to me and many others to consider new problem solving schema and approach old problems in new ways.

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Do you believe in true love? Or do you believe it is a concept that we have been taught to believe in since childhood, seeing it in movies all the time, but that it doesn't really exist? Well according to Chapter 6: Love and attachment from the book "The Happiness Hypothesis" by Jonathan Haldt there are 2 kinds of love:
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1-Companionate love: the kind of love that grows slowly over the years as people get attached and they take care of each other. This is the love that an old couple shares; it is a firm commitment to each other. It can never have the intensity of passionate love, but it can last a lifetime.
2- Passionate love: when you "fall head over heels" for someone. Surprisingly, passionate love is considered a drug because its symptoms can compare to those of heroin and cocaine! It causes the release of dopamine, which is released when something makes you feel REALLY good. By raising the levels of dopamine artificially, there is risk of addiction. As your brain adjusts to the high levels of dopamine, you become tolerant to the drug. If the drug is stopped, you will have withdrawal symptoms. Now I get why you feel so good when you fall in love and so terribly bad when you break up. Its like you were addicted to a drug and out of nowhere you suddenly stopped.
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So I think its safe to say that Kesha wasn't crazy or wrong when she sang "you're love is my drug". And Walt Disney, and basically all of Hollywood now, is not making us believe in something that doesn't exist, true love, it does exist, its just not passion that lasts forever.

The effects of divorce on children

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The effects of divorce on children vary between the children and the severity of the conflicts between the parents. The majority of children survive their parents' divorce without long-term emotional damage (pg. 391). The effects depend on the intensity of the conflicts prior to the divorce, and when the parents experience only mild conflict before the divorce, they are more severe than when the parents conflicts are more intense prior to the divorce. In some cases, no ill effects are produced because the constant arguing has subsided. However, in research studies of children of identical twins who have been divorced, their children had higher levels of depression, substance abuse, and poorer school performance compared to identical twins who hadn't divorced.

From personal experience, my parents' divorce is a blur of my memory because all I remember was my mom and dad yelling at each other and my older brother was covering my ears so I didn't hear what they were talking about. The main impact of the divorce was the absence of my dad, for a while after the divorce he was around, but as the years went on, his presence in my life has faded. Although I always wonder what it would be like if my mom and dad were still together, the entrance of my step dad gave me the father figure role that any kid could ask for.

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The Bond Between a Mother and Her Child

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Its amazing the bond between a mother and a child. For nine very long, tedious months a mother and her baby get to bond like no other human beings. A mother can soothe her baby while the baby is still in the womb. Once the baby is born it can distinguish its mothers voice from any other voice. In lecture this past week we watched a video about babies and how they reacted when they heard their mothers voice and when they heard a a strangers voice. Its was amazing to see how the baby's face would light up and they would smile when hearing their mothers voice but when they would a hear strangers they gave very little emotion, and when the baby would see their mother they would smile and giggle but when seeing a stranger they would sort of study that person and their actions as if they were unsure of that person. A mother's touch can instantly silent a crying baby which just enforces a mother and her child's bond that much more. A baby feels safe in their mother's arms which can make it very difficult for a mother to separate from her child when the baby is very attached.

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Problem Solving: Mental Sets

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The last problem that I had to try to figure out was for introductory Biology class. We were constructing evolutionary trees for a lab assignment, using multiple traits for 8 different flowers. The concept was simple- to draw a tree that showed the newly derived traits stemming from older ones- but to me, the problem seemed nearly undoable.
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Unfortunately, I quickly fell victim to a recently talked about obstacle in effective problem solving: metal set. Mental sets are defined as "becoming stuck in specific strategies, inhibiting the ability to generate alternatives." I was so consumed with using the same traits in the beginning stems that I was unable to look outside the box to try alternatives. I kept getting stuck with categorizing and labels that I quickly became frustrated and confused.
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Besides help from my boyfriend, I found that the best way to crawl out of this fix was to use an algorithm. As a, "step-by-step procedure used to solve problems," an algorithmic approach helped me to slow down, analyze more critically and lay out each trait to each flower and systematically clear out the situation. It was time consuming, but it eventually paid off, which I recommend for anyone before they become overly frustrated as I was.
One thing I am still wondering is, even though it takes more time, why would students still rather use heuristics rather than algorithms to solve a problem when algorithms almost always produce a correct result?
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Go Go Power Rangers!

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As we brought up in discussion this week was how watching a certain show or playing a certain video game can bring out a calming or "violent" behavior. When I was growing up the Power Rangers were one of my favorite shows and having a lot of experience with this topic, yes after watching the show I wanted to act out what the Power Rangers were doing, but that didn't mean that I went and punched a random person off the street. Children learn a lot by observing, but they also learn a lot when their parents tell them what's wrong and what's right. At a young age children need positive role models, like their parents or a family member, and I don't think that shows like the Power Rangers will make a child become violent. I do think that video games and T.V. shows have become more violent, but if the parents make it clear to their kids it's just pretend and there's a certain boundary you cross when you karate chop your sibling's arm. And the game of being a Ranger usually last for five minutes anyway before they get distracted by something else. There is nothing wrong with a little imagination.


The Terrors of Night Terrors

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Night Terrors
I found the topic of night terrors incredibily interesting, mainly because I have never experienced them (and am very lucky to not!) I always assummed that they were just nightmares, but the idea of waking up and screaming, sweating like crazy, being confused and not remembering any of it is actually really terrifying. I thought it was intriguing that even though the person who is having the terror appears to be experiencing an awful dream, it is more distressing to an onlooker. I think it is interesting that they can appear to be something really awful, yet not really be of any danger to the person at all except for showing that that person may be under huge stress. It makes me curious though to what extent a person can remember having terrors, and if their dreams are really awful because if they aren't aware of it happening, do they remember anything at all? I'm also curious as to how much of a physical strain they have on the body as well such as being more exhausted than normal, or any other "harmful" side effects.

Bad Mojo and It's cousin Insomnia

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In chapter five one section is on insomnia. Unfortunately they know less about this field than many other sleep disorders. Part of this is due to the fact that there is a huge spectrum of things that can cause you to lose sleep. When it's to the point that you take a sleeping pill stay away from Ambien and Lunesta. When you wake up in the morning with a black eye and two foot by one foot contusions on your body, and a couple cracked rib cartilige....it's time to change sleep meds. Attached is a link of people who have had all similar in one way or another but varied widely in what has happened to them on ambien. Bringing the Circadian Rhythm into this I wish we had a study not on ambien but on the level of hormones that the brain releases while on ambien as well as when in the cycles of sleep and comparing the eeg of of a normal sleeping person to that of one on ambien, how does it effect the cycles. The Biology of sleeping and wakefulness is pretty specific, what happens when and for how long etc. I have no reservation to jump on the bandwagon of banning ambien till they have fixed the side effects that can be dangerous to oneself and others (for example: sleep driving, or having conversations that you have NO idea you had!!!). http://healthquestions.medhelp.org/ambien-horror_stories. It might seem like an easy fix especially for us in school who encompass many of the things that disturb sleep: stress, being interactive with work just before sleep, up too late, up too early, depressed (F*&^ I can't believe I got that grade, what am I gonna do now!!), stressed, meeting new people aka relationships and dealing with them both positive unfortunately negative sometimes. My point is, unless your doctor can tell you HOW a drug works and if it's side effects are safe, stick to warm milk or chamomile or both (in my opinion of course).

Take a Picture, It'll Last Longer

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We all know the phrase, but did you know that it turns out, the idiom is correct. You can recall certain instances in your life where you know exactly what you were doing and who you were with, for example many of us know what we were doing when we watched the Twin Towers fall, I'm sure. When an emotional event really struck you and made this memory extremely vivid for you, it allowed you to recall details of it years later. This phenomenon is known as Flashbulb memory. This "snapshot" of your moment in time, as it turns out, isn't always as correct as a picture could be, despite how positive of the event you are. Our friend from the vlogbrothers explains an interesting little tidbit about a study of inaccuracies of in our memories here:

So there you have it, next time you're recalling a really vivid memory, you might not be 100%. It's a good thing we have camera phones now, so you can capture the moment, so you don't have to rely solely on your memory.

The Benefits of Bilingualism

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After doing some research on bilingualism, I am surprised at some of the pros and cons I have come across. From an academic standpoint, bilingualism is a very effective way of teaching students who have limited proficiency in English and allows people to engage in multilingual environments and obtain a better understanding of cultural differences. On the downside, bilingual education is extremely expensive and is no guarantee that children learning in multilingual environments will master all the languages they are learning.

For me, my family is Taiwanese and they did not want me to pick up their English accent so they decided to speak Chinese at home and had me learn English through school. I am very thankful for that because being bilingual has allowed me to connect with people from both cultures and it has made my life easier especially because of the second language requirements in most majors.

Although the research I found shows the pros and cons of being bilingual, I am curious to find out why being bilingual would make it easier for people to better understand things such as grammatical structures. I am also interested in what goes on in the brain when bilingual or multilingual people think because based on personal experience, I think in both languages. I am also puzzled by how the brain processes information in different languages also and how people are able to switch back and forth between two or more languages without any hesitation.

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Defining Language, Defining Us

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I believe that our mother tongue affects the way that we view the world to some degree. When I have talked to people who are bilingual, they always say how their different languages shape the world that they see. As was mentioned in our textbook some cultures focus on different parts of the pictures, memories etc. The Asian cultures will focus more on the exterior part of the world while the Americans and Europeans will focus on the "main character" the picture or memory. In addition some languages allow people to express their feelings, emotions, ideas in a more concise manner. Whenever I have a feeling that I just can't place a finger on, I always think "what if I spoke another language, would I be able to figure out this emotion?" When I have learned French, more often than not the teacher has talk about certain words in a more abstract manner because there is no direct translation for the word into the English language. This can prove frustrating because often times when we translate, the wording becomes too wordy and confusing. There really hasn't been much research on the idea of our mother tongue shaping our views of the world but Lera Boroditsky has attempted to research this hard topic in "How Language Shapes Thought." In the video, "Why 'Freedom Fries' Never Stuck", Boroditsky explains why we can't replace some words for others. Do you think that we should continue to research how language effects thought, or do you think that it is something that we'll never really be able to "figure out"?
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50 First Dates

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In the movie 50 First Dates, the main character, Lucy Whitmore, is an amnesiac who forgets everything from the day when she goes to sleep as a result of injury to her brain. The doctor in the film defines this as a lack of ability to convert short term memory to long term memory overnight. Unfortunately, this is not exactly the case. Short term memory only lasts from 10 to 15 seconds, not an entire day. If the memory isn't converted to long term memory by the end of those 10 to 15 seconds or if the person is not actively reviewing the information from that memory, the person will forget what was in the short term memory at the end of that time. Therefore, it is unlikely that Lucy has this problem. I am unsure, however, what exactly would be the mechanism by which Lucy doesn't remember any day after her accident. Someone in the movie that would have the problem that is associated with Lucy is Ten Second Tom, who only remembers ten seconds at a time. What is it that causes Lucy's anterograde amnesia? Does anyone know?50FirstDates.jpg

Alzheimer's Disease

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For this blog, I looked at some research for this disease. Alzheimer's isn't completely understood yet. Some of the causes are unknown, but it is clear that there are different environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors that contribute to the disease. All these factors affect the brain over time by damaging and killing brain cells. The common sufferer often experiences forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty with writing and speaking, and problems with judgement or problem solving.
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Some common treatments are drugs that help memory symptoms, and maintaining proper nutrition with regular exercise. Prevention of the disease is another area not completely understood. There's no proven way to prevent Alzheimer's, but it has been suggested that minimizing your risk of heart disease would be beneficial. Important factors to watch for are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess weight, and diabetes. Keeping active is helpful as well.
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I don't have any personal experience with the disease, but I can definitely see how it would greatly affect the sufferer and their family.

Bilingual Mind

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Being from a Mexican decent much of my family speaks only Spanish forcing me to learn it fluently since birth. My mother says that I learned both Spanish and English around the same time not one after the other making me fall under being "bilingual." Bilingual is defined as both fluent and proficient in reading, writing, speaking and understanding two distinct languages. Bilingual is to be able to communicate with others who are native speakers of the language.
It is important because understanding how people learn more than one language, aids in becoming bilingual. By being bilingual, trilingual or knowing many languages we are able to understand other cultures and connect with multiple groups of people instead of simply one. It helps us to understand not only the history of our own country or ethnic background but also that of many backgrounds.
The main question I have, is why is it easier for a person who speaks more than one language to learn another language, than it is for a person who speaks one? What in the brain makes it simpler for the mind to learn? Another question is why there is not a great influence of learning more than one language in the United States as there is on learning the "core subjects?"

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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