Dislike of Slang

How often have you heard a slang word that just sounds so stupid to you? Why do other people think it’s cool? Clearly your slang is much cooler than theirs. Right?

What is slang anyway? Why do we have it? Why does it change so much?

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“We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know”

Yesterday I attended a Leadership conference meant to provide helpful, tips for social change, social justice, and general leadership. I’d say it was quite successful in that area. Some of the topics discussed were sexual assault and bystander intervention, gender bias in the work place, understanding poverty, leadership strengths and weaknesses, and engaging group members. While there were no groundbreaking discoveries, it was interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on these issues.

One thing that stood out to me, and really made me think, was something said during the workshop on poverty. Have you ever heard someone say something and you think, wow, that’s a really interesting thing to say and you sit there and think about it for a few minutes, trying to apply it to your life and experiences? And then you miss the next few things they say, but it doesn’t bother you that much because you’re still interested in the first thing they said.

Anyway, the speaker on poverty said, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” I immediately went into the thought process described above. At first, I agreed with the statement. On one hand, we can’t know about a thing if we don’t know that the thing exists. So from that perspective, yes, I agree, we don’t know what we don’t know.

On the other hand, just because we know that something exists, doesn’t mean that we know all about it. I’m willing to bet that 90% of you reading this don’t know much about quantum mechanics, but you do know that it’s a thing. In this situation, you do know what you don’t know. So here, no, I don’t agree. We do know what we don’t know.

In the workshop, the speaker was trying to say that we don’t understand poverty if we have never experienced it. But to say that we don’t know what we don’t know, in this context, is just an excuse to ignore it. We do know that we don’t know what living in poverty is like. Being a social science student, I’ve studied many aspects of poverty, so maybe I have a little better idea of what it’s like compared someone who hasn’t studied it. But, still, I have never experienced it, so I cannot say that I know what it’s like.

Anyway, if we don’t know that we don’t know something, we can’t do anything to change that something. So, if we didn’t know that poverty existed, we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. But, just the fact that we do know about it, means that we can do something about it.

In the case of poverty, we do know what we don’t know. To say that we don’t is to say that we don’t know that poverty exists, and, unless you’re living under a rock, i think it’s fair to say that we all know that poverty exists.

Don’t use your lack of experience with something inhibit your ability to affect change on it. Just because you’ve never been discriminated against, doesn’t mean that you can’t do something to change discrimination. Just because you’ve never experienced poverty, doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.

)O(

Thoughts About Success

In procrastination, I’ve been thinking about success.

Success is not something that you achieve, and keep forever. It is something that you gain and lose. Success is not an award you win and display on your shelf, its more like a state of being that you fall into and out of.

Success is what you have when you feel satisfied with your actions. It could be a promotion at work, or a goal you finally reached. But neither of those things are permanent. You’ll feel happy, or satisfied with your promotion, but eventually you will want more. You’ll see yourself as successful again when you get your next promotion. Until then, you will fall into a state of contentment with your current position.

Or maybe you’ll lose that job. Then what? Are you still successful? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s okay to not be successful.

People also define success differently. For some it’s their job, others it’s charity work, family, money, etc. If you are truly happy, then you are successful.

I refuse to buy into the idea that success is the amount of people who know your name. That’s not success, that popularity. Being famous, or infamous, is a goal for a lot of people who feel that they need to make some big impact on the world. Movie stars, musicians, politicians. These people are all famous because they do something that gets discussed in the media. But they aren’t the only successful people in the world. What about all those people who help those in developing countries. You don’t know all of their names, but does that make them unsuccessful? I don’t think so.

Having tons of money doesn’t mean anything about success, either. Sure, if you have a lot of money you can buy nice things for yourself; a nice car, a big house. But what are those things if you have no one to share them with? Maybe you like being alone. That’s fine. I’m not here to judge your lifestyle. I’m just saying that there are more important things than money.

Some people feel that success requires people to know your name long after you die. That’s a goal for a lot of people. We all know George Washington, Isaac Newton, and Martin Luther King Jr. We consider them to be successful. But they aren’t the only people who have been successful. What about the man or woman who spent their time and money feeding the homeless. They touched the hearts of a whole bunch of people. You don’t know their name, they probably didn’t have a luxury car or huge house, but they were still successful.

The goal of being remembered forever is a ridiculous goal. Forever is a really long time. The earth won’t be around forever, just about four and a half billion more years. People will probably not even last that long. There will come a day when there is no one who remembers anything about humans. Every thing you do in your life will eventually be forgotten, so trying to be remembered is both unattainable and pointless.

This may be kind of disheartening, but not if you think about what it means. You don’t have to be some huge star, just be happy with what you are doing in your life, and don’t give up just because your success is gone.

 

)O(

The Color Orange

Noun Challenge: July 22, 2014

Today’s Noun: Orange

I understand that the color orange is not actually a noun, and this post should actually be about fruit. However, I am taking advantage of the English language’s lack of originality in naming fruit (or maybe naming colors? Which came first?) because who wants to blog about a piece of fruit? Okay, there are probably some really amazing fruit bloggers out there, but I’m not one of them!

So, what exactly is more interesting about the color orange?

Not everyone can see it. I’m not talking about color blindness. I’m talking about entire cultures of  people who cannot see the color orange. I’m sure there are other cultures who cannot see other colors, but we’re talking about orange today.

One of my anthropology professors told us (multiple times) about a village he visited somewhere in (east?) Asia. I don’t remember exactly where it was, but they could not see orange. He thought it was pretty bizarre. This is yellow, this is red, this is orange. It seemed obvious to him. The people in the village said, no, that’s red. To these people, orange was just another shade of red.

So? What’s the point of this story?

In our culture, every four year old knows that orange is a color. That’s common knowledge to us. But that’s only because that’s what we were taught. To that Asian culture, it’s common knowledge that there are a bunch of shades of red before you get into shades of yellow.

This little story makes me wonder what we can’t see, that other cultures just know to be true.

Just a little something to get you thinking!

Have a spectacular day and I’ll see you tomorrow!

)O(

Art Therapy

Noun Challenge: July 19, 2014

Today’s noun: Paint

Today I want to talk to you all about another type of creative outlet. Painting. I know that if you’re reading this, you probably have a blog to run, and you may be thinking ‘I suck at art’. But that’s okay. Just read.

Last year, a friend of a friend had to do a six week art therapy class. So I, and a few other people decided to take the class to help her. The focus of the group was to relieve stress and anxiety since it was right around finals time.

My only thought going into this was that I was a terrible artist. I’m one of those people who can’t even really draw a stick figure. But I went to the group every week anyway. I debated whether going to the group actually relieved any anxiety, or just created more. After a few weeks, I was leaving the group feeling much more relaxed than when I went in, so I decided to continue.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that I’m no artist, but I felt more relaxed after making art. I stuck mostly to using markers and crayons, just drawing whatever I felt for the activity of that meeting. Other people chose to use paint or charcoal. Some people actually said that using paint relaxed them more than markers.

Next time you’re feeling overly stressed, try drawing a picture, even if you’re as stick figure challenged as I am. There’s no harm in giving it a try!

Have a voluptuous day and I’ll see you tomorrow!

)O(

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic (July 11)

Noun Challenge: July 17, 2014

Today’s noun: Photograph

Since today’s noun is photograph, I figured I’d do the photo challenge (like I said I was going to start doing again and then didn’t). If you’re a new follower, I used to do the Weekly Photo Challenge every week, but I eventually got distracted by school work. Click here to see my other photo challenges! If you are here because this is a photo challenge post and you are very confused about the first two lines, I am doing the Noun Challenge this month. Click here to see previous Noun Challenge posts!

So, photo challenge. View the prompt here! Okay, no more links, I promise!

The prompt this week is Relic. I thought for a while about what relics I have, and nothing popped into mind. So, like the lazy person I have been recently (I’ve been using all old pictures for photo challenges recently), I went through all of the pictures on my computer.  Well, I got nothin’. So I though about some more. Somehow I thought about all of the old religious books we have in our family library. So, here we have some old prayer books from 1928, and 1939. I assume they belonged to a relative.

There you go. It’s pretty cool that these books are completely in Hebrew (Prayer books now, have the English translation underneath the Hebrew). Also cool, these are from WWII era. Just a fun little note.

Have a beautiful day and I’ll see you tomorrow!

)O(

Types of Attraction

Noun Challenge: July 16, 2014

Today’s noun: Attraction

I thought this was an interesting topic. I thought, briefly about using pictures of attractive celebrities, But decided to go the educational route. Although posting pictures of celebrities would probably get me a good amount of traffic, I know that one of my most popularly viewed posts is an educational piece on sexual and gender identities (shameless self-promotion? Why not? That post can be found here). So, let’s get on with the types of attraction.


 

Sexual Attraction

This is the type of attraction that causes one person to desire sexual interaction with another. When you want to perform sexual acts with another person, you are experiencing sexual attraction.

Sensual Attraction

This is the type of attraction that causes one person to desire sensual interaction with another. When you just want to cuddle or hold hands with someone, but have no desire to perform sexual acts with them, you are experiencing sensual attraction.

Romantic Attraction

This is the type of attraction that causes one person to desire romantic interaction with another. When you desire to be with a person as more than just a friend, but do not want to have any physical (sexual or sensual) interaction with them, you are experiencing romantic attraction.

Platonic Attraction

This is the type of attraction that causes one person to desire friendly interaction with another. When you want to become friends with someone (also called a ‘squish’), or are currently and want to continue to be friends with someone, you are experiencing platonic attraction.

Aesthetic Attraction

This is the type of attraction that causes one person to find another visually pleasing. When you find someone to be handsome, or beautiful, you are experiencing aesthetic attraction.

Crush

This is the type of attraction that causes a person to “like” another. It is thought to be temporary (lasting less than four months). When you feel any type of attraction toward another person, but do not act on those feelings, and eventually ‘get over it’, you are experiencing a crush.


 

So there are the six most widely accepted types of attraction. Many of these are experienced simultaneously. Most often, sexual, sensual, romantic, platonic, and aesthetic attraction are experienced together when a couple enters an exclusive relationship. Though, many couples may not experience all five.

Attraction is a different experience for everyone. Some people experience certain types of attraction more than others. Some people do not experience certain types of attraction at all.

I hope that you learned something from this post. It is important to remember that different people experience different things, and that it is completely normal, and okay.

Have a wonderful day and I’ll see you tomorrow!

)O(

Hobbies and Stress

Noun Challenge: July 9, 2014

Today’s noun: Hobbies

When I took my statistics class last year, my professor was working on a study about hobbies and their effect on stress. Now, before you start asking why a statistics professor was working on a study about stress, understand that my class was Statistics for Social Science. In other words, it was only the parts of statistics that social scientists (psychologists, sociologists, etc.) would need to use to analyze the results of a study.

Now that that is cleared up, back to the study. He was trying to figure out if having a hobby increases or decreases stress levels. If you think about it, you’d say that they probably decrease stress because its something fun to do to take your mind off of the stressful things in your life. But, some hobbies can potentially be stressful themselves. If your hobby is collecting seashells, (I think it’s fair to say that that is a pretty low stress activity) then you probably wont have much added stress from collecting. If your hobby is a skill, you could have some added stress from not being able to master something.

Does that make sense? Just think about ways that a hobby can cause stress. Maybe you like sports. If your favorite team loses, you know you’re probably going to put up with your buddies making jokes the next day. Maybe that doesn’t bother you (my teams always win, so I wouldn’t know. Hehe), maybe it doesn’t. If you like playing sports, a lost game might cause some stress as well.

Okay, enough examples, I think you get it.

I bet you were expecting me to end this post with the results of the study. Well, sorry to disappoint. The study wasn’t completed when I left school for the summer. So, I don’t actually know the results. I don’t even know if the study is completed yet.

So why did I tell you all of this, and then not give you any answers?

Well, I wanted you all to think about it. Do your hobbies cause stress in your life? If so, and you were using that hobby as a stress reliever, maybe it’s time to find a new way to get away from that stress. Not that you should drop your hobby, just make sure that you have a good way of relieving your stress.

As always, sorry for typos and grammatical errors! Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow!

)O(

Imperial vs. Metric

Today’s noun: Fahrenheit

I’m going to give a little background first, then I will tell you why Fahrenheit is stupid.

First of all, Fahrenheit is a temperature scale created by Daniel Fahrenheit in the early 1700’s. The scale defines the freezing point of water at 32 degrees, and the boiling point at 212 degrees. The Fahrenheit scale is used today in only five countries: The United States (and it’s territories), Belize, The Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, and Palau.

Okay, so that’s Fahrenheit. You get it, right? Good. Now I’ll tell you why I hate it.

Generally temperature scales are based off of the freezing and boiling point of water. On the Celsius scale, that’s 0 and 100 degrees. That makes sense. That can be easily divided. at 50 degrees,  water is half way between freezing and boiling. But in Fahrenheit? What’s half way between 32 and 212? It takes a minute to do the math there. It’s 122, by the way. What an arbitrary number. Not to mention, converting Fahrenheit to Celsius is a real pain. You’ve got to add numbers and multiply by fractions. We all hate fractions; they just make everything so much more difficult.

And it doesn’t end with temperature. Look at the metric system of measurement versus the imperial system. What a mess that is. The metric system makes sense; you just add or subtract a 0 from the end of the number (or the beginning if you’re working with very small numbers). There are 100 centimeters in a meter, 1000 meters in a kilometer. The conversions are easy. Then we have the imperial system. 12 inched in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, 5280 feet in a mile. What? Why? Who came up with these numbers? No one can easily convert any of that in their head. And when it comes to measuring ingredients while I’m cooking, I don;t even know how many cups are in a quart or gallon or whatever. It’s just a bunch of random numbers.

It might not have been as bad if the American education system didn’t decide that they were going to try to convert us to the metric system, but still put all measurements in the imperial system. I remember briefly being taught the Imperial system in 5th grade. Then in middle and high school, all we learned was the metric system. But then, out in the real world, everything was imperial. Street signs are in miles per hour. Food packaging is in ounces, pints, and gallons. But no one ever learned any of that in school. But everyone knows what a gallon of milk looks like. We just don’t know how many ounces or pints it is. No one can convert. Do you see the problem?

I would love to see America switch to the metric system. It’s easier and makes more sense. I’m not just going to complain and then tell others to fix the problem. I hate when people do that. So, I will propose a method of switching that won’t confuse Americans. First, I will quickly explain how this was previously handled. When it was first proposed that America switch systems, food labels still put measurements on the labels using Imperial units, but in small print under it, they put the metric conversion. They still do this, by the way. Btu clearly that isn’t working (Probably because people see the measurement they are familiar with and don’t bother reading the small print, as usual). so, I propose that we switch them, put the metric units in the larger print, and the imperial units in the smaller print. That way, people will first see the metric units, then be forced to read the smaller print. This way they will associate a 4 liter jug of milk with being slightly over the gallon they are used to. After a while, they will remember that 4 liters is about a gallon and they won;t need to read the smaller print. We can eventually stop printing the imperial system on food labels. At this point, we will be mostly converted to the metric system.

Yes, I am aware that Americans spell things funny. Sorry.

So, that was my rant, and proposal about systems of measurement. Now, what are the chances that someone important will read this, use my method, and give me a prize after its success? Hm?

Again, sorry for typos and such. You all know I’m too lazy to revise. Have a fantastic day, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

Author’s Message Isn’t Important!

First, I’m going to need all of the English/Literature teachers to sit down and hear me out.

Okay, so we all remember being forced to read some book that didn’t sound at all interesting to us. But on top of that, we were expected to figure out what the author was trying to tell us. Personally, I always hated that. Now that I think back on it, I probably would have enjoyed some of those books a little more if I wasn’t being forced to psychoanalyze the author through a story they wrote. While that may be a fair way to figure something out about the author, 12 year old, middle school me was not educated in psychology, or at all interested in dissecting anyone’s brain.

Anyway, now that I’m a few years out of being forced to read things, and can read for my own enjoyment, I’ve discovered something. Critical reading can not really be taught in the same way that math or history can be. It’s something that the reader has to want. Anyone can read a book and understand the plot. But there has to be a desire to go deeper, and let me tell you, when you’re forced to write a report on what the author is trying to say, students will just Google it, and that requires only a desire to get a good grade. Being able to look passed the words on the page and find that subtle symbolism comes from the reader, not the teacher.

I am certainly not saying that we should stop teaching these critical reading skills, but maybe we need to teach them differently. This is where I get back to the purpose of this post. I hate author’s message. It’s completely unimportant to the story, or the the reader’s ability to understand it. I’m not saying that we should abandon the idea that there is a message within the books that we read. Not at all. But I am saying that there are many messages, and some are more important than others.

So which ones are important, and which ones are not? Well, as you might have guessed, the author’s message didn’t make the cut. This is where things get a little blurry. Truth is, there are infinite messages is books; it all depends on who reads it. Okay, let me explain. When the author wrote the book, they had some idea of what they wanted to get across to the reader; the author’s message. But as soon as the book is picked up by a reader, the interpretation becomes completely the reader’s. In other words, the same book can mean something different to every one who holds it, and what the author was trying to say is irrelevant to what the reader learns from it.

Basically, it doesn’t matter what the author was trying to say, just that the reader got something out of reading the book.

My suggestion? Stop asking students what message the author was trying to convey, and ask them what they learned from the book. With this, you are still asking the reader to take away a lesson from the book, but now it is their own, not the author’s.

On a side note, I want to talk a little bit about symbolism. If you aren’t trying to find symbolism for your own reasons, a couch is just a couch and a name is just a name. But if you are personally interested in finding deeper symbolism, a couch is the characters connection to family, and a name can be a symbol of health (both of these are examples from books and television that I enjoy, try to figure out which ones if you want). If you are being forced to find symbolism, a couch is just a couch because a couch is more comfortable, and a name is just a name that the author liked. What I’m saying is, if you don’t want to look for the symbolism, you aren’t going to find it. So, forcing someone to find symbolism in an object will never work. For teaching, the most you can do is encourage the students to want to look for it, and that has to come from your own passion for critical reading.

In conclusion, critical reading can not be taught. Critical reading skills can be taught. The author’s message isn’t important. What the reader learned is important. Forcing someone to look for something they have no interest in finding isn’t going to do anything but make them avoid finding it. I like to stress these things because reading can be incredibly fun and enjoyable if you do it for yourself.

)O(