The Price is Wrong

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Mat 6:24, ESV)

Greed.  People, especially Americans, too often develop an insatiable appetite for it.  And one daytime show has always celebrated filthy lucre on American TV, for 45 years and counting.  That show is none other than “The Price is Right,” a late-morning staple on the CBS television network since 1972, which serves the US, both in the eras of radio and TV, and has been a leader in ratings (which also have a greedy connection, but that’s for another post).  It has also aired on the other two major US networks (NBC and ABC).  But their power had nothing like CBS has had.

Procedure

First, when the show opens, four contestants are called to “Contestants’ Row.”  They are presented an item to bid on.  (This “bidding” is quite different than that at auctions, also for another post.)  Whoever has the highest bid among the four without going over the actual retail price.  If all four go over, they try again.  One strategy that contestants use is to bid a mere dollar, the ultimate way to avoid overbidding, which will work if the other three have overbid.  The winner of that item then is in for more, using a “pricing game.”  There are a truckload of them, but their central aim is to get prizes (two of their major prizes are cars and trips, and an occasional money game.)  There are three pricing games.  After each game, another contestant is called to fill in the missing seat.  Even if you lose, you still are entitled to “Showcase Showdown,” when you spin a wheel, which in itself can give you cash occasionally.  The wheel must not go over $1.00, but as close as possible.  The entire cycle repeats: bids, pricing games, and then the second showdown.

The “Showcase”

The climax of the game is known as the showcase.  This gives two contestants from the game (one of which is the “winner,” which I think is the one closer to the dollar in the showdowns.). The showcase is a complex of prizes, often with a theme.  When one of the two views the showcase, s/he can decide to bid or pass.  Now if you bid, the next contestant is stuck with the other prize, and you the originally designated one.  If you pass, the other contestant is stuck with your prize, and what s/he would have bid on is now yours, and you can’t get away with it.  The winner also has a privilege:  if the difference between the actual price and his or her bid is less than a certain amount, you’ll win both showcases.

So this double showcase winner, euphoric as he may be, combined with all the different prizes he has accrued, I assume he will be terribly miserable in just a few short weeks.  Alas, it’s a luck of the draw.  It’s your problem now.

Conclusion/Advice

You can see Satan’s cunning schemes here, can’t you?  Joy does not come from physical property.  It is part of the “fruit of the Spirit” that Christians enjoy.  Sure, you can enjoy the physical items for their purpose, but you must remember we are nothing without God.  So I think it may be time for “The Price is Right” to bid farewell (pun intended) to the airwaves.  And yes, keep a low profile in the Los Angeles metro.

If I were you and seriously couldn’t do anything but watch TV at 11:00 AM (when the Price is Right airs), try ABC’s the View, a talk show that makes controversial topics (e.g., politics) funny, or whatever NBC offers in your area.  And don’t forget cable/satellite, if you have it.  The new over-the-air “bonus” channels offer programs of all kinds (which rival cable’s heyday), often annexed to traditional stations.

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Okay, I’ve Had It With Textbooks Used as Self-Study Aids!

The text on invertebrates is (physically and mentally) falling apart, not to mention my tendency against regular order in reading textbooks “for fun” as well as factors in past posts.

I’m not condemning college texts themselves.  They serve as the compass for college (or other) instruction.  But they certainly aren’t light reading, and certainly things you wouldn’t take to the beach.  Moreover, essentially being scholastic course manuals, they are to be read in order, or how your professor would organize it.  He may even add important topics not included!  But without a course to follow it?  It’s just like oil and water!

And yes, there are alternatives.  General-subject encyclopedias, like the immortal Encyclopedia Britannica as well as specialized ones (in this case, a single main subject yet geared to the lay public), let you pick and choose what you want to learn.  Confused on a topic?  Cross-reference! And with today’s Internet technology, that is a simple as a click.  Many of them, if not in print, are unfortunately either part of your county library system, or your own bill.

While textbooks, on the other hand, give a more thorough understanding of an entire subject, and do walk you through the subject in sequence, may not always provide you with the appropriate breadth and/or depth you are seeking.  From a perspective of a textbook, if you are strictly looking for a given topic, for instance, transpiration, you may be perplexed due to inadequate knowledge on plant vascular structure.  And due to the fact they intend such a book for students, the author will put substantial detail that is not-so-practical to your “average Joe”

And of course, there’s Google.  But you must be prudent, especially when it comes to the site’s domain.  “.edu” and “.gov” are the best, “.org” can be iffy (after all, Wikipedia uses such a domain), and “.com,” while generally suspicious, can have nice morsels of fact.  There are exceptions to all.

So entire textbooks may not be the best way.  But I am fervent for learning, always have been and always will be.  After all, since much of your knowledge in college becomes useless, perhaps except for a relevant course or two for your current job, you’ll likely forget most of it.

The next post will be a sequel to this.  Until then, enjoy any learning you may encounter for its process — and product.

Invertebrate Study Update

I discovered there is a Catch-22 in reading a book and taking notes from it.

On one instance, when I read a book, I may hope to sell it, and keep my notes as a remnant.  On the other hand, I may want to keep the book, as a reference, which may have some details that weren’t recorded in the notes, for they may have not been important at the time.  But sooner or later, from a reference standpoint, those very facts may gain relevance.

So the best resolution to this dilemma, fortunately, is simple.  My invertebrate textbook works equally well as a reference as well as an actual college “textbook.”

As a result, I therefore will keep it indefinitely, and always available right on the shelf.  Since the first 4 chapters, pun intended, are the backbone of the rest of the book, they are the only chapters needed to be read in order.  The rest can be read whenever wanted or needed.  Best of all, as discrete units depending universally (for the most part) on the first four “master” chapters, the other chapters can be read individually, without regard to sequence!

There are a number of other textbooks on the subject, which indeed may be better suited to actual semester college courses (which may, or may not, be in my future; I might as well take it if offered and ace it!).  But this one is quite a leader in the subject.

So, from sea to shining sea, and everywhere in between, invertebrates are “in!”

My Summer 2017 “Invertebrate Investigation”

Invertebrates
Invertebrates may not have a backbone, but this self-study (using this textbook) will need one from me!

A few months ago I obtained the above textbook from Amazon.  As someone who enjoys biology, especially as one of the natural sciences that explains (to the best degree possible) God’s wonderful creation, I think this will be a great summer to explore it.

This will probably the last text I will buy; in the future, I will use Amazon’s rental function.  You can read it, and summarize the information in a note-taking program (whether it’s the old-school Windows Notepad, or slicker ones like MS Office OneNote or the Mac Notes).  By the end of the period, you can return a textbook to its source, and move on to the next!  And do the same over and over again with future rentals.

Since not many people read true collegiate textbooks (due to their “heavy” nature and thus demanding deep concentration), my job is to summarize the info and trim out such details such as the actual jargon (often mere Greek compound words which may be well, Greek to many people), taxonomic boundaries.  Also, I will burn a CD-R (or DVD-R) whenever I finish covering a text, so you have the main notes just in case you need them.  And it is a good way to share facts with people whenever appropriate.  Using a banking metaphor, the notes allow you to deposit and withdraw information when needed or wanted.  I might also be able to add some other details from more sources, e.g., Britannica.

Rentals generally span the fall and spring semesters and summers.  While this follows the rule that college students primarily use them, me as well as some other heavy readers, are a key exception.

Maybe I can even market them someday.  I may need a lawyer’s advice on that, though, concerning copyrights, but I’ll worry about that then.  If I ever learn to code, that is also a way of making an “encyclopedia” of sorts.  Again, a lawyer may be helpful.

Well, when this study is over, hopefully around Labor Day, there will be another book to choose.  Something to pray about, as well as previewing the next book (in Amazon) for the fall.  Whether I go to college or not, this can be beneficial.  In the former case, you’ll have an ahead-of-the-pack edge in a relevant class (if, the is, your school offers it).  Otherwise, often with the help of preparatory materials, you can learn it on your own.  If I do compile notes, of course, you would even need the original text (LOL).

A relevant Biblical relationship is Philippians 2:3, 4, where it is written that we should be humble and prioritize the needs of other above ourselves.  Making summaries from complicated sources can potentially help the world, little by little, appreciate the wonder and awe they are missing due to the knowledge they miss out on, for it may be too technical for them.  Therefore, I would be a “middleman” of sorts in this transmission of knowledge.

Anyway, wish me luck on my taxonomic travels!

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.

Why Biology?

Each program [at ESU] helps students to think. But when a student chooses a program, it is a choice of what to think about. A physics major thinks about different things than a psychology major.  A math major has different matters on her mind than an art major., Dr. Peter Hawkes, Dean of Arts and Sciences at East Stroudsburg University.

While you will always learn new things beyond your college major in your lifetime, college gives you a trajectory for your career and other areas of adult life.

 

img_0250
My introductory biology textbook.

For me, that number one thing is biology.  It has a beauty of both unity and diversity.  Contradictory as they may seem, it is a reality.  Diversity in all the life forms on Earth manifests God’s beauty in their habitats and niches, yet their unity in all the core systemic processes equally shows what a wonderful and providential Creator He is.  (Evolutionists claim that all life is not from a common creator, but a common ancestor.  But what is that ancestor?!?)  Remember the idea that cells come only from other cells, and so forth.

And even at the moment, before transfer to a university, I love looking at numerous websites concerning biology.  These can be about animals, plants, neural processes, you name it.  Of course, God made all these structures and processes; the scientists among us just named them.

So to all my fellow undergraduates, whatever your passion, biology or otherwise, go for it!