Defining Sanity and Humanity

31iQzpiE6HL._BO1,204,203,200_

I’ve been away from my blog for some time. Knowing it exists, and that I would return, was always a comforting thought. I am pages from completing a fascinating, enlightening, true story and could wait, no longer, to share it.
I am grappling with the term “forever changed” by this book. Instead, I think it is more accurate, in my own case, to say “finally aware” or “forever defined”.
This is a firsthand story of a brain scientist’s stroke. There is a wealth of science about symptoms and perceptions, from the victim’s view. It is an essential part of the story and, really, not hard to learn and appreciate but the overall message and “insight” into the human psyche will “blow you away”!
We are a single being which operates, through our world, by using two separate, yet connected, brain hemispheres. The story exposes the purpose and function of those hemispheres in enlightening detail. The author’s conclusions about the necessity for both to function in unison in order to offer a life “rich” in a common conscientiousness are extraordinary, possibly, life changing.
As I read this book, I was thankful for my years with children for my primarily hopeful perspective about living “in the moment”. Jill Bolte Taylor hits the “nail on the head”, in my opinion, about how much of our own happiness is a matter of how we CHOSE to perceive the world. Embracing how ordinary events make us “feel” (emotionally and physiologically) just may be the biggest tool in the counteracting of everyday depression and sadness.
The author does not disregard the fact that our mental health is subject to chemical reactions beyond our control. The awareness that we CAN control much of it, though, (beyond brain damage and illness) offers a primer in a more fulfilling, happy, existence.
Incidentally, the carefree, forgiving, nature of man’s best friend seems to further explain why our Left Brains (containing speech and ego) can be our worst enemy if left to control too much of our time. On the other hand, who wants children, or dogs, making critical decisions?
As with everything we learn about life, balance is the best medicine.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the wisdom between the covers of this book!

  • How to recognize a stroke.
  • How to treat stroke victims.
  • The recuperative power of sleep.
  • How our brains interpret the world.
  • The importance of patience and kindness.

I give this book 11 stars out of 10.

Advertisements

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks…Book Review

51fQ2i0cc+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
An amazing story that needed telling!

This book is a non-fictional glimpse of scientific advances and the horrid racial inequality in our “not very distant” past. It is a riveting read. The story chronicles the struggles of poor black folks during the 50’s and 60’s, in a way, that will leave you forever changed. The sacrifices of those who advanced medical research are present, along with, the greed which always follows the money.

Many of the legal, and ethical, dilemmas, exposed in this text, are unresolved to this day. The author does not attempt to decide the “right” from “wrong” but, very effectively, invites the reader into the lives of real people. I laughed, I cried, and I feel enlightened by this book. A must read for those who endeavor to be educated and informed.

Broader Horizons: Brain Development in Kids

Early virtual world: Ultima Online

Early virtual world: Ultima Online (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It occurred to me, as I watched my day care friend (age 10) navigating through Minecraft this morning, that our kids are guinea pigs. For those of you who aren’t aware of Minecraft, it is an interactive, online world of adventure which is very popular with kids. My granddaughter (age 7) also plays this game.

As I watched, the 3-D images twisted and turned in a fascinating array of viewpoints in a virtual world. The 10-year-old was able to follow the images with amazing speed. I felt slightly dizzy. This made me wonder how this generation may bring new tools to viewing the real world from this early 3-D training. I am neither qualified, nor interested, in making a pro or con judgement.

I’m willing to bet, though, that the visual art world will definitely have some amazingly fresh, new expressions in the near future that will come from this early exposure.

My generation was the first group of kids who spent Saturday mornings watching TV. We experienced a new kind of visual stimulation and I believe it gave us a new way of processing our world. For better or worse, we learned a new perspective.

I frequently hear grandparents, and great-grandparents, exclaiming, “Kids are so much smarter today.” I don’t, for a second, accept that statement as true. What kids DO have is an earlier exposure to more information in unique formats. This does ultimately offer real “mind altering” potential.

Anyone who studies brain functions has this current generation of guinea pigs to study. There will be discoveries, both positive, and some negative, specifically pertaining to modern ways that children’s brains are wired from technological exposures during brain development.

Gosh, I find this a very interesting scientific field of study. I believe our newest generation will definitely, “Go where no man has gone before.”

NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Giant Leopard Moth

new stuff 2012 007pointsMy previous Nature Knowledge post, from today, inspired me to look through my photos of caterpillars. I made another great find that I will probably keep next time that I encounter one. Above, is a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar. This prickly fellow is not poisonous like the Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar, although he looks formidable. In fact, Giant Leopard Moths feed on broad leaf plants, rather than, decimating trees. I had found this caterpillar at my camp doorstep in New York State. I’m sorry, now, that I did not identify it sooner. It must have been coming out from an eave where it had wintered.

English: A baby moth that hatched from cocoon,...

English: A baby moth that hatched from cocoon, raised the larval state black fuzzy caterpillar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a lovely moth to behold! (Personally, I prefer moths to butterflies but they are nocturnal and are harder to find.) The photo specimen above, was an actual successful rearing of a caterpillar to adult.

Here’s another borrowed photo:

Giant Leopard Moth

Giant Leopard Moth (Photo credit: cotinis)

Interesting Facts

  • It might look dangerous when it is a caterpillar but it is not poisonous and hence can be an easy pet for children.
  • They get attracted to electric lights during the night, but some experts conclude that more than the females, the males can be seen doing so with the beginning of summer.
  • Since they navigate effectively in moonlight, electric lights can baffle them, causing them to hover around them.
  • The caterpillars can roll itself like a ball to mislead its predators, in which it exposes its spines and the orange segments lying between.
  • These moths are often regarded helpful in controlling invasive plant species.
  • On being alarmed, glands located in the thorax region can produce a stinking liquid to ward off predators.

My caterpillar photo was from last Spring. Hey, I’ve got some searching to do this weekend! The kids may enjoy raising one, almost as much as, I. 😉

Survival: A Balancing Act

The Olympics made me consider the age old formula of having balance in our lives. Even our food choices are best when there is balance. The Olympians were outstanding! Yet, I always wonder about their “inner” health when I realize how much of their existence is focused upon a few days, sometimes seconds, of time.

So, I created a chart of what, I believe, is true of life for human beings. As I was creating the chart, I couldn’t help but think of examples of extremes. As for Olympians, they are dedicated people who make sacrifices that I do not understand but who make me endlessly proud.

First, and foremost, our need is for survival. Whatever we do, survival comes first because everything else simply counts upon it.

There is wealth. I define wealth as anything tangible in excess of what we need to just survive. We all want comforts and wealth is not a bad thing at all. Wealth makes for prosperity and, often, longevity. You may call wealth, “comforts and currency”. Greed is at the center of those who lopsidedly surround themselves in wealth but no one should be ashamed of pursuing wealth. Wealth inspires innovation and progress which, most often, benefit humankind. We can easily name world leaders and professionals who specialize entirely in the pursuit of wealth and they are, in my mind, detrimental to us all.

There is discovery. It could be subtitled adventure. Ah, what would science be without the hunger to discover. Many of our forefathers came to this country from the need to discover. And we continue to question and learn everyday of our lives from the engrained human impulse for discovery. The Olympians fall primarily into the “overindulging in discovery” crowd. Their mission is to discover the limits of the human body and to test its endurance. Although many of them become wealthy, I believe that their excessive commitment belongs to a zeal for personal discovery. On the down side, scientists who ignore the ethics of scientific study are guilty of placing way too many “eggs” in the discovery “basket” and are my example of a dangerous group. I think arrogance is their primary motivation but greed also plays a role.

Finally, there is enlightenment. Religion and philosophy are the tools in this search for answers. Most often religion and philosophy are at the center of what separates us from our id of savagery. Generosity, forgiveness, and introspect all come from our search for enlightenment. When enlightenment outweighs the two previously mentioned needs, we have the jihad. Holy wars even misplace the human need to survive. Suicide bombers seem the best current example of the danger to humankind from weighing too heavily upon enlightenment.

So balance is still the key to the “good life”, and in my estimation, the spread of imbalance is a direct danger to our survival.

Lawsuits VS Education

I have always loved science. One of my favorite Christmas gifts was a Geology set. I felt like a pro with my official rock hammer and samples that I could touch.

My interest peaked before my options did. There were no geology units, in elementary school, that delved deeply enough for me. How I wish that we had a Discovery Channel then.

Kids are offered many samples of information with TV and the internet. It is exciting to think their blooming interests will have “vines” to grow on. Alert teachers and caregivers have avenues, to offer their prodigies, that were not available in my day. Kids are not getting smarter, their choices are better.

I am a big proponent of the Montessori method in education. Reading, writing and ‘rithmatic can be taught in combination with any interest. It is the interest that must guide the learning not the other way around.

That said, the key in our schools, revolves around small class sizes. In a perfect world, I’d like to see no more than 12 kids in one class.(Ideally, 8) The primary teacher must have an assistant too. Then,and only then, the kids would be able to explore and learn to their own “tune”.  The teacher would have a better handle on classroom discipline and a familiar feeling for what makes each student “tick”.

Alas, theory is much easier than application. Home schooling is a very good alternative but unaffordable to most.

The Boy and Girl Scouts, as well as, 4H organizations are very helpful to our future scientists. If not for liability issues, I’m sure communities would offer playground camps in the summer. Individual citizens would be more inclined to offer instruction too. There are Beekeeping clubs, gardening groups, bird-watchers etc. who could share their knowledge and excitement for specializing.

This rant is just that, a rant of frustration. The US is not capitalizing on our young peoples’ interests at the peril of our future. Liability and lawsuits are ruining us. I don’t know how to fix it. I’d like to see big penalties for bogus lawsuits. BIG PENALTIES. I’d like our kids to play together without hearing,”I’ll sue you!” on the Kindergarten playground.

Those who really have grounds for lawsuits are equally injured in the environment of  “easy money”.

I started this post with happiness and hope. Where it lead me was beyond my first consideration. I think I’ve stumbled upon our real crisis…anyone got ideas how to resolve it?

(Rounding up unethical lawyers and putting them together on a remote  island just may be a good start. Ha!)

Friction rubs me Right

Friction is not unfriendly
In fact it takes two.
If we did not have it,
I’d need a lot of glue.

A back rub turn to tickle,
My tires would just spin.
I’d drop my OJ every time.
Gram’s teeth would not stay in!

The zip lines would go crazy,
There’d be no “stops” just “goes”,
If I tried to take one step
I’d fall right on my nose.

When two things come together
There’s heat,  resistance too.
Lightening and hugs be lost.
The world would turn to goo.

The force that we call friction
Does not mean to “fight”,
A grip is better than a slip
Yes, friction rubs me right.