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?


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.

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.

Playing Secretary

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3, 4, ESV)

Yesterday a friend of mine asked me to transcribe his handwritten copy of a graduation speech for a phlebotomy certificate at a nearby community college.  We both agreed to have him deliver the message orally (as opposed to copying the speech from a print form).  As a primarily visual learner, this took me out of my comfort zone, yet the work was fantastic.

As he recited the words, I copied them down in Microsoft Word, and being a native English speaker (as opposed to him), I was persistent, and observed grammatical rules that would be best understood by one (in this case, me) whose top language is English.  His thick West African (Ghana) accent was another obstacle, but I still tenaciously continued to “break the barrier.”

To polish it off, I double-spaced and printed it.  He did the proofreading, which (slightly embarrassingly) led to awareness some of my own grammatical errors.  But they were minor, and I corrected them, printed the typed speech, and presto!  It was complete.

As they say, no man is an island.  This was one exercise of me going out of my comfort zone.  Whether we like it or not, this can be necessary.  And auditory input, I assume, might have been sharpened.  But I would check with a psychiatrist or psychologist on that.

April Showers Bring…

Not just May flowers, but many awesome milestones.  I will name a few.

  1.  Watching the “Met” on PBS
    Notice I didn’t say “Mets,” as in the baseball team.  This is the opera company (namely, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City).  This time it was (I think) in Italian, but it was derived from the work of one of the Anglosphere’s greatest playwrights, the one and only Shakespeare.  The opera itself, supplied with subtitles, was Romeo and Juliet.  Subtitles can drive you crazy, but my mom, a fan of opera, she thinks the musical component of an opera takes precedence over the mere dramatic component.
  2. Potential college admission
    I hope to transfer from 2 community colleges (and some other places) and the credits earned therefrom, to West Chester U in, (you guessed it), West Chester, PA!  A rather distant suburb of Philadelphia, West Chester proper is a quaint town, with a variety of homes.  I will definitely study Biology, with a potential minor or double major (still disputed).  If they don’t accept me, I’ll just keep on testing certain options.
  3. Reading novels
    Until recently, they were (or at least from my perspective) for taking, without use (if so, not thoroughly.)  Yet, believe it or not, “pleasurable” non-fiction, including the Web, layman books, encyclopedias, and in my case, textbooks, tended to offer no better stamina than fiction.  Fiction, however, has a storyline and plot, which is a whole different dimension from nonfiction.  In the final analysis, many (if not most) nonfictional books that I have designated for enjoyment weren’t really that enjoyable.
  4. Watching (fictional) movies and long TV shows
    Like novels, they have a plot, etc.  Thus, see #3

Bottom line:  My apparent weakness has nothing to do with a learning disability (e.g., dyslexia) that you may think is the case, for I’m not learning disabled (unless you count dysgraphia).  I’m not even sure if it is from high-functioning autism spectrum disorder(which is my core diagnosis).  So,  what is this weakness?  It’s attention span issues.  I’m not going to “play psychiatrist” and decide what it is.  I leave that up to the actual doc in this case.  And while doctors may know more than you do about such issues, they are not you.  But no worries, I’m still got quite a life ahead of me, and I should do the best that I can.

Yet as a Christian, I believe anything is possible with God (Matt. 19:26)