All Smiles

“Rejoice with those who rejoice…” (Rom 12:15 ESV)

I’m getting addicted to smiling, and loving it.

It all started today watching PBS’ show “Nature,” this time about monkeys.  But it was not the scientific aspects that thrilled me the most.  It was the smiles of the people (and especially children) that I just love to see.  I don’t know where the it was, but probably in Southeast Asia somewhere.  And their smiles just light up my life.  Throughout the program, they just light up the jungle.  As I watched it (and beyond) I did the only logical thing: smile!  And I just love doing it so much that there’s no reason (at least at this point) to hold a long face.  It also keeps me quiet, as it curbs the notorious self-talk that I’ve gotten myself into.  But as we all know, there’s times not to do it, so I must use discretion.

Say “cheese!”

20160822_105456
Me Smiling!

The Scientific American Library

As one who loves creation (and of course, its Creator) I love to learn science topics, whether in school (as we approach such, for summer is wrapping up and we soon enter the fall semester),  or just by reading and personal self-study.

The Scientific American Library, while now out of print, is still an awesome way to learn a number of topics on science.  You can find them in the Amazon Marketplace (Amazon’s department for sellers not part of Amazon) and cost a minimum of $4 per book (actually, a cent plus $3.99 for shipping)

There are many neat topics in this series.  They usually don’t demand too much scientific background, but if they do, it may be enough to Google certain points that you find murky.  Moreover, they are often interdisciplinary, so you see connections among topics.

Best of all, they include some historical and cultural background and practical applications; to support the info (instead of the in-your-face science of typical textbooks made for scholastic use).  While a layman series, it can be semi-technical at times, so again, have Google ready in case you’re stumped.

And since no book, let alone no series of books, has all knowledge on its topic, there’s always more to learn, through the internet, etc.

While I have abandoned some titles because I was “finished” with them, I may get them back (with the hope I can get the whole series and perhaps devour them).  Also, they may make good reference, even though I may have additional college textbook material.  But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

 

Why Textbooks Don’t Cut It On Their Own

Since high school, I’ve had a draw to college textbooks of many kinds, especially in the sciences.  Even though a given subject is of interest, the truth is, I’ve never felt confident to finish a text front to back.

Perhaps the main reason for such is the fact that without any instructor, you can’t guarantee your getting the right information.  Even if you can comprehend the writing with no problem, textbook material needs that actual power imparted by the professor in order to know exactly what is going on. This is especially true when you consider a college’s prerequisites for a given subject.  Reading such a book (and usually, thus taking such a class) warrants previous knowledge.

Moreover, especially in the natural sciences, you need labs, field trips, and many other practical exercises to truly learn concepts.  And of course, the lecture is at the center of it all.

Also, the fact that textbooks are constantly updated means inevitably that, as you grow older, you will miss newer material taught long after you graduated.  But again, you should be content with the position you are in now.

Now if you are out of college and wish to use a textbook for additional learning (e.g., when your school didn’t offer  a given class), I don’t see anything wrong with that.  But I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there, as I would have to test that statement.

So I must resist spending money on texts that have nothing to do with my coursework, and just take “baby steps” toward the goals I may aspire to achieve.  And I’ll leave the choices of texts to the professors.  And ultimately, all of it is in God’s hands.

So until then, just Google things, or if you dare, use Wikipedia.  LOL

Slouch, Yawn

Whenever I sit upright, say, when reading, I can usually stay alert.  But when I slouch on a bed or couch, I start yawning when I read or do something similar.

Of course, it makes sense, but is there something scientific behind it, at least in general?

In fact, there is.  I learned it in Psychology last fall.  In the 1890s, Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, discovered the concept of classical conditioning.  He used a dog as his subject.  Dog naturally salivate at food, for it is internally wired into their brain.  They don’t need extrinsic commands. Then, Pavlov rang a bell to draw the dog to the food.  After then, the food was no longer necessary.

So, how do we explain this?  The bell, when combined with the food, takes precedence.  Thus, what was once irrelevant to the dog (the bell) has been incorporated into the dog’s repertoire of behavioral stimuli.  This incorporation is known as classical conditioning.

Now for my situation.  Keep in mind I’m no doctor or psychologist (and probably not planning to be either one), so I’m not trying to develop a direct theory of why slouching on a couch causes yawning or drowsiness when reading.  Just the correlations are enough.  Yet again, correlation does not mean causality.  But hey, at least it’s something quite practical from the course, that can be easily applied to us humans.  I guess I could do without the causality.  At least for now.

Source:  McLeod, S. A. (2013). Pavlov’s Dogs. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html

Putting Flavored Plain Oatmeal to the Test

OatsFor many years, I couldn’t stand the smell of plain oatmeal.  I preferred the instant flavored packets that were enough to mask the odor.  According to the book pictured below, however, flavored packets contained “a bevy of excess sugars and other ingredients that don’t belong in your breakfast bowl.”

So, as a person who should watch his diet, last night I tried using the oats (pictured above) as a snack to put plain oats to the test by adding to apples and cinnamon to it.  While it didn’t “mask” the overall oat taste, at least it’s better than no flavor at all.

Cookbook
This is the cookbook I plan to use as a dieting tool.

So, let’s just say it’s an acquired taste.  One test probably just isn’t enough.

Guess What? I Might Make a Good Tutor!

Well, with some experience so far with currently tutoring an illiterate young man how to read, and helping another girl get her GED a few years ago by tutoring her on the math portion of the test, chances are I might as well pursue tutoring (after college, that is) as a professional position!

By the way, I adjusted my major choice.  The application to West Chester University, my intended school after Community College of Philadelphia, has a “primary” option, i.e., your first choice of major, and a “secondary,” or backup, option.  I relegated the general biology to the secondary option, and for the primary option, changed it to the Biology Education.  In case you didn’t know, most of the Pennsylvania “state schools,” now comprehensive universities, started out as teacher’s colleges.  (I am still focused on biology because I have read so much collegiate material on such but have never taken any biology class so far in college, but will starting this fall.  In other words, “over-read, under-taught.”  But I can definitely build my repertoire beyond biology later on!)

But don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT saying I’m necessarily going to be a real teacher.  Today’s teachers must deal with many administrative issues and must keep obnoxiously organized.  But I still am capable of one-on-one tutoring.  Tutoring is very rewarding work, especially if you, like me, love sharing your knowledge (as well as learning new things and keeping up with the times), helping students in need and getting to know them, and can try to condescend your mind to the student’s level.  It is surely a “labor of love.”

Once I finish college and enter into the workforce, a potentially perfect option is “Tutor Delphia,” a Philadelphia-based tutoring consortium.  If you wish, check the website out at www.tutordelphia.com.

In any case, I trust all plans to God’s will, and whatever path He leads me to, I will follow.

Putting God In Charge of All Intellectual Pursuits

Our individual lives are a tiny fragment of all time.  Yet God gave us a mind to learn, reason, analyze, and create.  We must therefore come to terms with certain areas of our transient lifetime, and let our intellect follow suit.

1.  Unlike God, knowledge always changes.

Consider great minds like Newton, Descartes, Franklin, Jefferson, Pasteur, Einstein, and sundry others.  Some were Christians, some were not, the important thing to remember is that we have moved far beyond the potential of their time.  Yet they never got to see this later activity and development.  Not to get too morbid, but all people should consider what they have achieved and leave the achievement of future generations to God.  In the case of Christians, we could care less what happens on earth once we enter and eternally enjoy the overwhelming and magnificent heavenly fellowship with God and his people.  That’s at least how I see it.

For practical consideration on this earth today, we must accept the fact that we will never know everything.  As a budding scientist (and most likely a biologist of some sort), I understand that people in my bunch may make discoveries (or at least participate in such activity), but those discoveries always change.  A college textbook used when one is say, age 20, will be a dinosaur (no pun intended) when one is 50.  Yet people aren’t chasing after newer editions.  Instead, they keep up to date with scholarly periodicals focused on their field.  While some people love holding onto their textbooks, others would rather limit it to those books that are relevant as a reference, especially in the courses most pertinent to your current job.  The rest might as well be rubbish.

2.  Only God is omniscient and only He knows the “exact truth”

Earthly information is not only subject to change, it is also really only a shadow of the exact truth.  Whether antiquated or cutting-edge, all human knowledge is fallible.  Even the Bible, God’s Word, is subject to interpretation.  (This causes splits in churches, but that’s for another post.)  In any case, what is quite commonsense today was highly arcane at one time.  Newton was quite intrigued by the falling apple, which we now know as the law of gravity, which is now a mere staple (unless you wanted to study it in detail).  Same thing with living cells (the name came from the resemblance to a prison “cell”).  And let’s not forget Franklin’s kite, which could have put his life in jeopardy.  Copernicus and Galileo were the first heliocentric proponents, yet they got some pretty nasty treatment from the Inquisition, etc.

Whatever it is, science is an interpretation.  Hypotheses and theories change over time, and they are the backbone of science.  Another type of scientific statement, the law, is a more stable, observational principle, e.g., Newton’s three laws.  Even they could occasionally be modified.

Conclusion

All human endeavors (including science and many others) are imperfect.  Thanks to Jesus, we now enjoy the freedom of exploring our world, sometimes to a scientific extent.  And that includes people like me.  As Thomas Aquinas put it, if faith or reason need to be chosen, pick faith.  There is nothing wrong with reason, but it is always secondary to faith.  God created our minds, not vice versa.

Because knowledge is a creation of the Creator, it should never be worshiped.  It may very well be fruitful to detach from books that it would be time to move on from, as you have learned many of the main principles, though perhaps not all the details, and certainly not verbatim (hardly anyone can do that!)  I think God is in action when “pruning” the knowledge that is not needed.