The Tastiness of Taste

Outside the human race, the primary function of taste is to acknowledge the nutritive value and/or danger of food an animal eats, depending on the concentration of the constituent substances.  For humans, though, God gave us a bonus – to value the food to enjoy it.

Humans get to taste five “classes” of tastes (and yes, you probably noticed there is a newly contrived one!)  We all know sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, but you perhaps never heard of a recently discovered one – “umami,” a “meaty” taste.  Let’s discuss how this works and what is represented:

-First of all, taste is principally a quality, not a quantity.  Salty foods are salty, sweet ones are sweet, etc.  Yes, there are degrees of taste, especially due to the chemical nature of what is tasted.  But the fact that one sweet taste is sweeter than another does not make either one cease to be sweet.
-Nutrients may or may not be tasted.  Proteins and lipids, are often derived from carbohydrates.  Proteins themselves cannot be tasted, though their constituents (namely, amino acids) can allow for tastes, e.g., sweet or sour.  Yet, one such amino acid, glutamic acid, and a derivative of such (namely, MSG, a commonly-used seasoning), elicits the umami taste.  Furthermore, reception of umami taste can be differentiated for different foods eliciting that sensation.
-Foods with multiple substances or quantities thereof can construct a unique taste to a certain food, say, an apple.
-“Mineral” nutrients, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and chlorine, can be consumed in the diet, but of course, in smaller quantities.  Because they are nutritionally borne as salts, they can be tasted as such, to avoid excesses.  There is also an apparent craving in deficient conditions, but the sensory component is still murky.  And in everyday human society, potassium and calcium get much honor, but sodium is a four-letter word (due to its blood pressure increase factors)
-Vitamins generally bear no taste, since most food has all the vitamin content they need.  Yet, it may be a different story for those who take vitamin supplements, LOL.
-All substances, except those that are bitter, typically dissolve in water.
-Different people have different numbers of taste buds

Moreover, with our power of reason and understanding of the science behind nutrition, we humans actually can understand nutrition much more thoroughly, especially with the help and advice of professionals like doctors and dieticians.

Finally, I leave you with this:  while olfaction (detecting odors) is less important in humans than certain other animals, it is a key complement to taste.  In fact, when odor and taste team up, the phenomenon is called flavor.  If you have a cold, for example, food will have the same taste per se, but less flavor.  So now you break the subtle confusion of “taste” and “flavor.”  Humans have a modest, if substantial, potential for odor detection.

This is yet again a feature that makes us unique, namely, in the image and likeness of God.  We are stewards of God’s world, both for our good and everything else in it.

 

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Some Ways To Power Your Learning Potential

Here are some interesting ways that you can learn things quicker, and sharper.  Indeed, it attests to the modern theory of “neuroplasticity,” which is very comforting, for even as brain cells die (at least from what I’ve heard) they can re-route easily.  Moreover, in the real world, people young and old alike can learn by awesome tricks.

One method is known as the mnemonic.  For example, “HOMES” represents the Great Lakes of North America (i.e., Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).  Another is “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally,” namely, the order of math operations, comprising parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.  Mnemonics are everywhere, and can even be cleverly invented.

Moreover, an even more powerful memory trick is to associate concepts using a “bridge.”  This is known as associative learning, and the method is known as conditioning.  In fact, this can be used just as appropriately (and perhaps more so) on behavioral research.  You may have heard of Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov’s immortal experiment on the dog that connected a two-step process into one (i.e., the dog no longer needs the powdered meat for a salivation response, as it has been overridden by a bell, which was earlier rung almost simultaneously, and now the bell is sufficient).

To place this concept in the human race, I will give you a few facts I know by using this method (and perhaps any close kin):

-Muhammad, the top Islamic prophet, was born in AD 570.  I know this thanks to a Pennsylvania telephone area code.  See?  That’s the power of associationfor Muhammad had nothing to do with phones or Pennsylvania.
-The very date (May 18th) of writing this post in 1980 was when the first “true” eruption of Washington State’s Mt. St. Helens.  Its dress rehearsal, a steam eruption, was actually on my birthday (March 27th) that same year.  (I was not born until 1988, not to mention I live on the US East Coast).
-When dialing phone numbers (and to help memorize them), I dissect them into the three parts:  area code, exchange (the first three digits of the phone number proper), and the last four digits, a number of ways can be useful (no pun intended).  Among them are the geometric pattern your finger traverses on the keypad, or comparing actual numeric details such as digit order, etc.  Of course, this is the case only in the US, Canada, and most Caribbean islands.
-Same thing with any scholastic procedure, whether through the grades, in college, grad school, whatever, one level is preparing you for the next, often known as a prerequisite.

There are also many reverse cases, wherein knowledge learned elsewhere may have a golden opportunity for application.  Especially in fiction.

-A few years ago, on the long-running American TV crime drama “CSI:  Crime Scene Investigation” (2000-2015)  In one scene of an episode I noticed the mention of an opening in the rear eye socket.  This right there, shows you that you’ll never know when an application of a previous fact may sneak out at you.
The Genesis Code, a novel I am trying to read but have been displaced from (as it is with many books) involves a Roman Catholic office in the Vatican, which is a remnant of the atrocious Inquisition many centuries ago.
Eaters of the Dead, by the late, great Michael Crichton concerns Arab encounters with the Swedish Vikings.  (Crichton’s overall style is quite compatible with the scientifically-conscious, including me.)

One more comment I should make is that even if you are encountering the same facts you have before, with knowledge input between then and now, it can truly enrich the original knowledge.  Yet, more than anything else, this dynamic concerns Christians and the Bible, especially because its intent is more than information, but transformation.  In other words, not just knowledge, but wisdom.

I could go on and on, but, long story short, using your existing knowledge, you can easily enrich and compound on it.  And as everyone’s situation is different (e.g., intelligence, age, areas of expertise), be kind to help others depending on their needs.  This includes controlling breadth and depth to keep them interested.

“Long live MacGyver”

Reference Nostalgia

Generations before the Millennials may remember striving diligently through library materials, such as encyclopedias, atlases, almanacs, etc., especially for school projects.  Unfortunately, this diligence has surrendered to convenience.  The wave came first through computer software, then through the internet.  And as many have tried to “surf” the web, rip tides are inevitable.

Let’s start with Google.  It has been synonymous for quite sometime with searching the web.  Or maybe even searching, period.  In any case, let the searcher beware.

And now you have an “encyclopedia,” known as Wikipedia, which, being a public entity in which people try to look things up, there is little or no assurance of scholarly backup.  Sure, the sources in the references may be scholarly.  And there are varying differences of technicality among Wikipedia articles.  But the contributors (read:  writers) are responsible for what goes in and out of it (along with a few “bots”).  And, whether you consider it a blessing or a curse, articles constantly change!

Alas, I must confess, I am prone to using Wikipedia myself.  Therefore, I want to avoid preaching about it, but just follow your heart.  Besides, in scholastic situations, instructors advise their students not to use it (or any encyclopedia) for projects assigned.

Ok, moving on.  Yesterday I felt I had the dilemma of keeping either the print set (1981, though most content seems to been written in, say, the early 70s), and the more modern computer program (2012). But since they work as a team, there really was no “dilemma” to begin with!  Some libraries, in fact, may retain multiple editions of a reference source.  Though in the 21st century, many libraries have purged much of their reference material.

And there is much potential in that.  Back to Google (or any of its rivals, e.g. Bing), you can get even more content.  Or if you prefer print, consult a number of references.  Or even websites!  See, there is a good element to the web.  It just requires wisdom.

Until you’re satisfied with a topic, the more references, the merrier.  Think of them as a team, whether separate works and/or different editions of one work. And if you’re totally puzzled in one source, try another.  Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

An Encouraging Word for Aging Minds

Disclaimer:  Information only.  Not medical advice.  Check with your doctor for more on this.

Like all people leaving their 20s, the monitoring of their health — in all aspects — is paramount.  And it will continue to be such for life, not to mention more so.  WebMD said (in a quiz on the site) that memory in different forms declines in the late 20s!  This is a wakeup call for me, already 29 years old.

This evening, in my beloved Britannica set, I decided to investigate aging and its impact on memory.  While the set is quite dated (1981) and research has increased since then, the article said, overall, the primary aspects affected are short-term memory and response timing.  On the other hand, cognitive decline is trivial concerning skills, facts, and vocabulary.

In other words, the aged actually learn just as well as younger adults.  Here’s the catch.  They tend to learn the material more slowly.

This provides some good news here, in case a senior citizen wants to learn something. But a younger person should teach it slowly, so the elder will retain it well.  In other words, go easy on them!  Don’t pressure them too much.

Also, while there are exceptions, the rule of thumb is that people in their, say, 30s, tend to make major contributions in science, math, etc. more often that 60-somethings.  This rule of thumb is reverse for religious, political, and administrative personalities, wherein experience is the principal factor.

And, despite their tendency to “keep to themselves,” due primarily to past experience, older adults are happiest when accompanied by those younger than them, and would rather stay in their communities rather than in institutions for seniors (e.g. nursing homes and assisted living facilities).  Good income and health contribute as well.

Of course, there’s Alzheimer’s and similar dementia disorders, but they are beyond the scope of this post.  This is focused chiefly on the brain power overall aged population.

Keep in mind that as one reaches the end, while learning is lifelong by nature, it becomes less and less important, namely concerning applications of such.  In another post sometime, I would like to discuss learning theories.  But this will suffice for now.

But again, like many others, age is what it is — a number.

Source:  Encyclopedia Britannica, 1981, v. 1 (Macropedia)

Will American TV’s Big Three (or Four) Face Extinction Several Years from Now?

Networks

Whether you are mostly a fan of the Alphabet, the Peacock, or the Eye, referring to, respectively, the US networks of ABC, NBC, and CBS, let me tell you, in ten or 20 years they most likely will no longer be the leaders, if they are even alive at all.  The same fate for Fox, which after 30 years or so, still hasn’t quite matured as the Big Three have.  Despite having sports for many years, their primetime is only 2 hours, and there is no 6:30 pm newscast to compete with the other Big Three’s national news programs.  And just like foxes, the company that owned Fox was sly enough to create an entire cable network over 20 years ago.  As to quality, well, let’s just say it reports outside the typical pale of the media.

People would rather go to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and countless other platforms that present movies, shows, etc. (typically exclusive to a given service), come through the internet.  But this wastes a lot of moolah, because to get a full range of entertainment, I would recommend a digital cable, satellite, or similar service to get the potential for one to watch more.  Even if you don’t frequent key cable channels, they’re there for you, lest you want to watch one of their programs.

Even PBS has a rival of sorts now:  Curiosity Stream.  Yet, just like the other online TV platforms, this online TV service is of course, for profit.  Takes the “public” out of “Public Broadcasting Service,” doesn’t it?  LOL

At the other extreme, still others “cut the cord.”  They stick to the tradition of the airwaves, with some bonuses:  namely, a number of specialists in certain areas like movies, classic TV, etc., in addition to the master networks.  (read: the Big 3 or 4)  While it is not a clone of cable, it has some interesting programs that could be competent enough.  In a sense, it could be called “the poor man’s cable.”  And all you need to access the treasures thereof is a digital TV and antenna, or an analog TV with a “converter box,” as a “middleman” to re-process the signals into an analog format.  Even though analog TVs are no longer on the market (they left it in 2009 due to government order), they are able to attach directly to connections through non-broadcast TV systems, including cable, satellite, and others.

Whatever quality or quantity of television you watch, be a smart buyer.  That’s it in a nutshell, the decision is yours.

The Chicken “Raw-volution”

Obviously, no meat comes cooked (or frozen) from the start.  Neither should it be.  Barber Foods (as in the picture) and other companies make amazing stuffed chicken meals, containing such delicious fillings such as cordon bleu, Kiev, broccoli & cheese, and yum…Crème Brie with apples and cranberries.

stuffed-chicken
Mmmm…heaven on a plate.  The dessert of chicken.

They typically come boxed in pairs.  But these aren’t Hot Pockets. They are, in a word, raw.  Don’t dare nuking these, or you’ll be sick as a dog.  They take roughly about 30 to 45 minutes in your conventional oven.  But there’s no denying that the wait is worth it.  As always, patience is, decidedly, a virtue.

Check your grocer’s freezer today!

Race for the Bachelor’s

So, as we have just entered May, I am hoping to be accepted by West Chester U.  However, while I am a step away from admission, we still need one factor to be settled.  And it’s quite goofy.

Goofy, you may think.  Yes, this is due to an incident at a community college 5 years ago (2012).  I won’t describe it, but it could put some restrictions (if not a total ban of admission) on me at West Chester U, despite it being well past.  By the way, that very same behavior did not truly cause expulsion from the community college, but an odd “permanent suspension” from the campuses.  So while I couldn’t physically attend the classrooms, I did manage to complete an online course.

Thus, to get this issue settled, which apparently may seem trivial due to great progress in coping with issues and not using assaults to communicate (especially by putting an end to a 13-year series of assaults earlier this year, which started in high school), I must defend my eligibility at an interview at the university.  If not, I could go elsewhere.

But Here’s the Catch…

As a product of the special education system, due to my mild autism and the behaviors that came forth through that, I had little college-preparation.  All throughout middle and high school, I did little homework and similar academic activities (and the stuff I did was far less challenging than a true college-prep high school student).

Later, when I started attending that very community college mentioned above, I never finished a semester with any more than one course complete.  At a later community college, I successfully completed no more than two per semester.

So, is the prospect of a bachelor’s impossible?  Well, I’ll see.  I will probably change my proposed full-time status (12+ credits, roughly 4 courses) to one that is part-time (11 or lower).  Then I can ease my way into the Biology curriculum, especially since I already have 33 credits down (and thus a sophomore status).  Their contribution to my college progress depends on where they fit into the curriculum.

And a Brief Addendum…

Eureka!  I know why I hardly ever completed reading a textbook without an instructor.  While I have looked at textbooks for just the enjoyment of it, time and time again, they have always backfired.  A textbook is chock full of facts, and unless you don’t have a professor as your compass, you will (metaphorically) drown in that factual sea!  Personal reading of textbooks is a sink-or-swim deal, for you won’t know what facts are important and what are not.  In fact, in most courses, I understood why certain things in their corresponding texts didn’t matter so much, not to mention some information that was included in the lectures had relevance.  It’s also a matter of your school’s curriculum in a given area, as well as its strength at it.

So I’ll probably stick to more “popular press” stuff for now, especially for things outside my prospective major (namely, biology).

“Reading textbooks for fun”…nothing but an oxymoron.