Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chocolate is closer to sinnlessness

Last night, I finally got around to doing what I have been meaning to do for an entire year. The problem with my intentions, is that they can only be done once (maaaaybe twice) a year, otherwise it is simply too late and you must let it weigh on you for an entire school year, until the start of the next... This task is meeting my neighbors! I'm so embarrassed to announce that last year, I never ONCE met anyone living, not only directly around me, but on my entire floor! Absurd! The problem, though, is that knocking on doors after the first month of school just to meet your adjacent inhabitants will make people think you're the weirdo-neighbor, because, why do you care to know who I am now? We've been here for many moons already!

Anyway, this year, I was not going to let that happen to me again. Last night, my roommate and I made oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies, and though we sampled a cookie from each pan that appeared from the oven with lovely chocolatey-gooeynesses, we still had enough to knock on every door in our hall and give away several. Now, hopefully I'll be able to at least recognize my neighbors next time I see them.

On a related matter, I recently discovered that there is no caffeine in chocolate! How Marvelous! This is just one more reason why I shouldn't feel guilty about eating my favorite consumable object :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Smarts is all in your head

Here is an excerpt from Leadership is a muscle that I would like to share.

"Earlier this year, Dweck and two colleagues, Kali Trzesniewsi of Stanford and Lisa S. Blackwell of Columbia, ran an experiment on junior high schoolers. If they trained the students to have a growth mind-set, would the kids' math grades improve? In less than two hours over eight weeks, they taught the students concepts such as: Your brain is like a muscle that can be developed with exercise; just as a baby gets smarter as it learns, so can you; everything is hard before it gets easy--never give up because you don't master something immediately.

The results were astonishing. The brain-is-a-muscle students significantly outperformed their peers in math, many showing dramatic turnarounds, such as the student who went from a failing grade to an 84 on her next exam. Dweck's work shows that a pure idea intervention can have a substantial effect. "The brain is a muscle" is an idea that stuck."

Something I've always thought to be true. Glad to see it get verified. :)

Similarly, I remember reading something as an undergrad, for an education class, about another study where they tested expectations of teachers and quality of learning. I don't remember the specifics exactly, but basically, the experimenters gave a teacher 3 bunches of randomly chosen students and told the teacher that one group was the most exceptional students in the school, one group was average, and another was below-average. After teaching the three groups for some time, the students' knowledge or ability was rated somehow and the best results came from the class the teacher believed to be exceptional and the worst from the group thought to be below-average. I wish I knew where this study was... If I come upon it, I'll for sure post it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Keep the government out of my light

One of my very best friends from high school sent me an interesting, though a bit long,
article about light pollution. I definitely agree with their idea of encouraging people/institutions to adjust their outdoor lighting to promote less light pollution, particularly after taking an astronomy class my freshman year at Brown and having to strain our eyes to find the big dipper through the Providence lights... but do they really need the government to become more involved? It seems to be clear that the benefits are for us scientists and star-enjoyers as well as the light-fixture "up-keepers", as these improved lights use much less energy and perform just as well, if not better than the old alternatives. I think their money would be better spent simply educating people who install outdoor light fixtures rather than letting our government, who has already shown themselves incompetent in oh-so-many-ways (no child left behind as only one recent example), stick another foot into our business. If it really saves money, light providers should need no government enforcement, it's just a smarter solution!

It seems funny to me that so often when the government screws up, people seem to be right ready to let them do something else to "fix" their mistakes. I say, if they can't fly the plane, quit riding with them!

On an unrelated note, there is a quite interesting correlation pointed out between breast-cancer and employees who take night-shifts. Apparently, messing with ones' (is that wrong to pluralize one?) circadian rhythm can affect amounts of what is normally produced during sleep- in this case, melatonin. However, could there also be a confounding variable of lower-income employees who are willing to take night shifts?

I can't help but point out, though, that if their findings are correct, this is just one more example of how amazing and ahead of his time Joseph Smith was. (Doctrine & Covenants 88:124) I guess he did have quite a bit of help from above though, eh?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why do we love babies?

Well, now that I'm married, I'm starting to feel the pressure (mostly from mom) about having babies. Has anyone else noticed that when you finally feel relieved that you'll never have to deal with being asked "so when are you going to get married?" suddenly you become bombarded by "so when are you going to have little *insert your and your spouse's name here*s running around?" Consequently, this has gotten me thinking...

Why are we all so enamored with babies? I won't deny that I think they are the most adorable thing that humans (with some major help from God) can make, but really, why?

I recently (while on the honeymoon) read through this great art book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, in hopes of saving my futile attempts at putting recognizable objects on paper. Though I'm by no means the next Degas, I feel like a learned a lot about seeing things differently and placing them on paper in meaningful ways. Anyway, I bring this up because it talked a lot about proportions and overcoming your symbolic left-brain tendencies to draw symbols that represent objects, versus how they actually appear. The author also helps with common mistakes drawing human faces, and helps you look at certain proportions more clearly and relatively. I have some pictures posted of my 4 nieces/nephews (all under the age of 3) and quickly realized that baby's are completely out of proportion by comparison to someone we would consider to be handsome, beautiful, or even cute! Their heads are HUGE compared to their bodies, their arms and legs are very short, they have chubby bellies and cheeks... not to mention the smells and screams they are capable of creating. I don't think I'll ever understand what we find so delightful about their appearance, I just know that I'm excited to have one of my own :)

In light of all this, it's hard for me not to remember that episode of Seinfeld where someone (I can't recall now) had an ugly baby, of which us viewers never get a glimpse. Has anyone actually ever seen an ugly baby?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hiatus Explanation

Although my posts have been absent for quite some time, my thought have been with blogging almost every day. The past three weeks have been probably the most blog-worthy of my life, which is why I did not have (or rather make) time for blogging. Isn't that just the way sometimes?

For all those who care, my wedding(s) went dazzlingly well, and I have posted pictures in an album on facebook of the Utah celebration. Mass ones are still to come. My surprise honeymoon ended up in Sedona, AZ with beautiful scenery of the red-rock formations from our hotel room. I am positive that this was the most relaxing vacation I have ever taken. There was literally nothing to do (besides hiking, which we opted out on since we were there only to relax) except watch movies and read and lounge around by the pool, which we had pretty much to ourselves (everyone else was out hiking). Now my body is making up for lost time and stressing out over my first week of school that starts tomorrow.

I have many more interesting things to write about (at least I think so) and I took note of them in random spaces in my "real" journal, and sticky-notes on my personalized homepage, so hopefully I will be blogging more frequently to get to all of them out in cyberspace. I can tell you people are hankering for some entertainment. (so perhaps you should seek elsewhere?) For now, I go to bed to prepare for the chaos that is figuring out how to shop 3 classes that meet at the same time. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Odorant Boycott

As a self-proclaimed scientist, I am all for pursuing experiments to further my understanding of my surroundings, and especially my hygiene. For example, it took years of experiments for me to be able to get my hair to go curly in a way such that it isn't frizzy, nor crispy, yet bouncy. I think my biggest beauty problem has been my over-zealous (brace yourself, all who fear TMI) under-arm sweat glands. One of my most annoying woes has been dealing with this fiasco-- particularly the ring-stain left on my shirts which is caused by the deodorant, NOT the sweat. However, I have always feared too much the consequences of not wearing deodorant, to try it out. Luckily, earlier this week, I somehow managed to skip over the part of my morning routine that involved my "deodorant" application and I have made an amazing discovery. Wearing deodorant not only does nothing for the amount of sweat I produce, but I believe that I actually sweat LESS when I don't wear it! Not only that, but I can't smell anything! (and yes, folks, this is fiance approved. Keep in mind that he has an incentive to be truthful, because if he says I don't stink, and I in fact do, then he is the one who has to smell me for the rest of our married lives together) So I have decided that deodorant does not deodorize my pits, but in all actuality, gives them an odor. Yes, perhaps it is a pleasant "powder fresh" or "shower clean" smell, but it's not worth it for the stains and sometimes awkward marks it leaves on your shirt if not put on carefully enough. So I have decided to boycott this so-call "deodorant".

However, for all of you who are not so brave (and I don't blame you) you may find this useful. I have not tried any of these yet, but perhaps I will try to revive some of my old stained shirts.

PS 3 more days!