2.27.2008

Morgan Spurlock is a Genius

I've been spending some time at hulu.com while working on my homework. I stumbled across 30 Days, which I'd heard of before, on the site. I watched all the episodes posted there and am fiending for more. The show is poignant, edgy and provocative. I'm also impressed at how the producers seem to want to enlarge a person's perspective, rather than simply shift it to fit theirs. This episode is a great example.

A conservative Christian guy from Michigan lives in San Francisco with a gay guy for a month. There doesn't seem to be a lot of agenda-setting as much as watching a person with limited experience recognize that there may be more to life than good and bad. If you'll pardon the pun, it turns black and white into a rainbow. (oh snap)

Anyway, here's the episode. It's worth a watch. Also, I don't know if hulu's still invite only or not, but if it is and you want an invite, email me and I'll see if I have any more to give away.

2.24.2008

It's as Frustrating as it is Disgusting

This morning was spent designing a careful plan to bath, apply medicated lotion, and get the hell out of our house for 72 hours. Ani has scabies, and it's spreading. So far, Jen and I haven't seen any evidence on ourselves, but Ani's hands and feet are not looking good. We treated it a week ago, but it continued spreading. So this time, we're not going near our place for 72 hours, which is apparently the amount of time it takes scabies to die without a human host.

So, Jen and Ani are in Davis with her brother and sister-in-law. I'm at my folks' house. We've got to beat these little &^%$#s or we're gonna go crazy.

We spent the morning bathing strategically, just before the clothes in the dryer were finished, so we could go straight from towel to fresh clothes, out the door. Hopefully, this'll do it.

2.21.2008

Surprise, Surprise: Technology Can be a Tool For Learning

Teachers at Sitting Bull Elementary school have discovered that employing technology during teaching can be a helpful tool for learning. More than half the teachers are using an Interwrite Pad. This pad allows them to make notes and have the notes projected onto a big screen in front of the class. This is a step in an obvious direction, like a paratrooper jumping out of a plane and deciding to head for the ground. Read more here.

But couldn't there be so much more? In nearly every aspect of life from making phone calls to driving, hi-tech gadgets are becoming ubiquitous. Today a person can admit to being "computer illiterate" and still probably function on a reasonable level, but not without some hardship. In less than ten years, technology will be the new literacy. Having some aptitude with various (they're all so similar anyway) user interfaces and navigation menus will be not only necessary, but expected.

So why does one of my instructors at Fresno City College still insist that I may only use my laptop if I'm not "out surfing the web" during her lecture? Little does she know that as soon as she mentions a new important media figure and begins to ask pseudo-rhetorical questions about what we think that person may be known for, I've already got the Wikipedia entry in front of me as well as some pictures of the person and a list of links pertinent to them thanks to my friend, Google. Granted, she may not be the best example as she has a powerful desire to see that all thought and comment in her classroom is controlled by her, but it's a great example of an old mindset that's crippling the educational process in America.

In my previous job, I was privileged to attend part of a class in a Master's of Divinity program, that my friend Eric was enrolled in, taught by Earl Kreps. Earl not only encouraged the use of laptops during class, he understood that learning isn't encouraged by forcing feigned interest in every word an instructor utters. His goal was to encourage and facilitate discussion, often speaking very little himself. This glimpse into post-graduate studies is a light at the end of my scholastic tunnel - hoping that not all instructors will be so enamored with their words as a couple I'm learning from now.

In fairness, the subject matter in a post-grad divinity course is more conducive to shared learning than a mass-media class. However, with a classroom full of laptops equipped with internet access, an interactive learning experience could go a long way to drawing in fringe participants of the class, as well as revealing information that may not otherwise be covered. It also offers a foothold for future study, should a particular subject prove noteworthy to a student. This possibility exists either way, but with in-class technology, a quick bookmark and outlook reminder can ensure further study as opposed to the fleeting thought that "this sounds interesting."

Think about it, America. It's time we pulled our heads out of our hall passes and embrace this internet fad. Encourage interaction and further study in the classroom, while increasing engagement. Plus, I could finally catch up on facebook friend requests & check out digital daily.

2.17.2008

First New Song in a While

I wrote these lyrics this morning and added some music this evening. It's rough, but it's something.

2.12.2008

Online Offerings Worth a Watch

Thanks to a post over at newteevee.com I just discovered 2/8 Life, a series by the Independent Comedy Network (ICN). It's a spoof on another series that got thrashed by Karina at newteevee, but I haven't had time to watch it in between classes too. (Incidentally, I did do some research for my upcoming journalism paper too. It's not like I just sit around watching funny videos all day so leave me alone. Geez!)

Anyway, 2/8 Life is one of the funniest shows I've seen in quite a while. It does a great job satirizing self-indulgent drama like My So Called Life and even Lonelygirl15. While neither of these are as bad as Karina claims quarterlife to be in this article, 2/8 Life includes similar elements to those shows but, obviously, comedic and very well-written. It still feels like a homemade webisode, but i don't think that made me laugh any less. I definitely had to work hard not to disturb my fellow computer-lab users during my outbursts.

2.04.2008

I Just Wanted to Prove That I Haven't Been Slacking, Just Busy

Below you'll notice a long post that will be of little consequence to the average reader. Truthfully, as I read this chapter I found the information enlightening and would be happy to discuss any of this, but if I hadn't written it I don't think I'd read it. (That's some debilitating self-talk, which is one of my specialties)

So I haven't been neglecting my blogotory duties out of any malicious intent or sloth but have simply been busy with other priorities like school, studying and trying to work enough hours to ensure the most basic of Mr. Maslow's ascribed needs are provided for my family this month.

Enjoy the outline.

Looking Out, Looking In Chapter 4 Outline

I. How can we define emotions?

A. Physiological Factors: measurable bodily changes

i. If someone feels fear they may experience a rise in blood pressure, increased adrenaline secretions, elevated blood sugar, slow digestion, etc.

B. Nonverbal Reactions: observable changes

i. Blushing, sweating, facial expression, posture, vocal tone, etc.

ii. Not always caused by emotions. Research has found that specific nonverbal reactions can created physiological changes.

C. Cognitive Interpretations: the mind plays a crucial role in determining emotional states.

i. The physiological reactions to many emotions are similar so we give certain symptoms a label at a given time.

1. Elevated heart rate in a romantic situation means attraction

2. Elevated heart rate resulting from being robbed means fear

ii. Exaggerated or inaccurate attributions of emotion may be problematic

1. If I feel nervous speaking publicly I may say, “I feel a bit shaky but that’s to be expected.”

2. I may also say, “I feel nervous. I’m a nervous person.”

3. Attributions of physiological symptoms can have lasting consequences.

D. Verbal Expression: there are times when one can’t rely on perceptiveness to understand emotions.

i. Verbalizing helps to clarify intensity of feelings

ii. May also clear up misconceptions due to a person’s overuse of specific words

1. If chocolate chip cookies are “fantastic” then how does it feel to fall in love?

iii. Inability to talk about emotions constructively can lead to problems

1. Social isolation

2. Unsatisfying relationships

3. Feelings of anxiety and depression

4. Misdirected aggression

E. Influences on Emotional Expression: most people prefer not to express their emotions

i. Personality

1. Extroverts report more positive feelings in everyday life

2. Introverts report more negative feelings in everyday life

ii. Culture

1. Our responses to situations are influenced by our surroundings and traditions.

2. Americans say “I love you” more frequently and to more people than other cultures.

iii. Gender

1. Women tend to be more “in-tune” with emotions than men by 10-15%

2. Emotional sensitivity governed by several factors

a. Whether communicating with same or different sex

b. Power balance in the conversation – less powerful person is better at reading powerful person than vice versa

iv. Social Conventions

1. Unwritten social rules govern our emotional expression

a. Salespeople smile at obnoxious customers

b. Students are rewarded for being submissive and respectful

v. Fear of Self-Disclosure

1. Revealing emotions can be scary, especially when bucking social conventions

vi. Emotional Contagion: the process by which emotions are transferred from one person to another.

1. We “catch” each other’s emotions like some social virus

F. Guidelines for Expressing Emotions: Learn to express emotions constructively

i. Recognize your feelings

1. Being aware of and identifying one’s emotions allows one to learn to manage those emotions

ii. Recognize the difference between feeling, talking and acting

1. Understanding the difference between having feelings and acting them out can help one to express oneself constructively in tough situations

G. Expand your emotional vocabulary

i. Expand your emotional vocabulary by:

1. Using a single word “I’m angry”

2. Describe what’s happening to you “my stomach is tied in knots”

3. Describing what you’d like to do “I want to run away and hide”

H. Share Multiple Feelings

i. Despite the commonness of mixed emotions we often express only one – the negative one

I. Consider When and Where to Express Your Feelings

i. It may be worth waiting until you’ve processed your feelings and rehearsed your response

ii. You may choose never to express certain feelings

J. Accept Responsibility For Your Feelings

i. Instead of “you hurt my feelings” say “I feel hurt when you do that”

K. Be Mindful of the Communication Channel

i. Email, face-to-face, text messaging, blogging, etc.

ii. The channel used to communicate makes a difference in how others interpret our message, especially in communicating emotion.

II. Managing Difficult Emotions

A. Facilitative and Debilitative Emotions

i. Facilitative emotions lead to effective functioning

ii. Debilitative emotions detract from effective functioning

iii. One difference between the two is intensity

1. A certain amount of anger can be constructive

2. Rage usually makes matters worse

B. Sources of Debilitative Emotions

i. Physiology

1. Temperament

2. Involuntary responses

ii. Emotional Memory

1. Seemingly harmless events can trigger debilitative feelings if they bear even a slight resemblance to troubling experiences from the past

a. Example: Ever since being teased when he moved to a new elementary school, Trent has been uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations

iii. Self-Talk

1. What we tell ourselves about interpersonal exchanges directly influences what they mean to us

2. Rumination: dwelling persistently on negative thoughts that, in turn, intensify negative feelings.

C. Irrational Thinking and Debilitative Emotions

i. The fallacy of perfection: the belief that a worthwhile communicator should be able to handle every situation with complete confidence and skill

ii. The fallacy of approval: it is vital to get the approval of virtually every person

iii. The fallacy of shoulds: the inability to distinguish between what is and what should be.

iv. The fallacy of overgeneralization:

1. The first type happens when we base a belief on a limited amount of evidence

2. The second type happens when we exaggerate shortcomings

v. The fallacy of causation: based on the irrational belief that emotions are caused by others rather than by one’s own self-talk

vi. The fallacy of helplessness: satisfaction in life is determined by forces beyond your control

vii. The fallacy of catastrophic expectations: if something bad can possibly happen, it will.

D. Minimizing Debilitative Emotions

i. Monitor your emotional reactions: recognize when you’re feeling debilitative emotions

ii. Note the activating event: figure out what event triggered your response

iii. Record your self-talk: analyze the thoughts that link the activating event and your feeling

iv. Dispute your irrational beliefs: this is the key to success in the rational-emotive approach­­