Linguistic Taboos

Posted under: education, philosophy, school.
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Wicked Pissah ShirtSkye came home on Friday very upset about reactions she received from some of the staff members at her middle school regarding a t-shirt she’d been wearing which simply said “Wicked Pissah,” a common phrase in New England, which means really awesome or really crappy. Her teacher thought the word “pissah” might not be considered appropriate for school and sent her to the office. The lady in the office reprimanded Skye for wearing a shirt with this phrase, considering “piss” to be a “bad” word. She said it would be a distraction, as well as offensive to others. She ordered Skye to either turn her shirt inside-out, zip up her sweatshirt, or change to a shirt provided by the school. Skye was unable to work the zipper on her sweatshirt, so she turned her shirt inside out. The office administrator told Skye to come back afterward to make sure that she’d fixed it.

Skye later told me that Harry Styles, member of the English-Irish pop boy band One Direction, turned 19 that same day, February 1. Teenage fans at her school celebrated by drawing whiskers and black noses on their faces to represent Harry and his fondness for cats. I found it interesting that none of these kids were reprimanded or asked to remove their face paint, even though Skye mentioned how much of a distraction it was in her classes and that several of the teachers seemed annoyed by it. However, not one classmate complained about or was distracted by Skye’s shirt, nor did any teacher (except the one who sent her to the office) comment negatively about her shirt. One, in fact, thought it was quite humorous. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (6) Feb 03 2013


Finding Truth Through Fetal Cells

Posted under: education, health, philosophy, science.
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I enjoy listening to Radiolab, a podcast about science, philosophy, and human experience. In the episode “Fetal Consequences” (which can also be read on the NPR blog), hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich discuss how fetal cells remain in the mother for decades, possibly having effects on her body. Originially it seemed that that fetal cells were solely beneficial to the mother. The hosts shared a story about sheets of fetal cells turning into healthy liver cells and healing the mother’s damaged liver. It was later proposed that perhaps fetal cells might actually be harmful to the mother in some cases due to a variety of causal factors.

I found the study about fetal cells fascinating, but what I thought was especially significant was what Tufts University professor and scientist Kirby Johnson said regarding his personal stake in the work:

Of course I wanted to help out, but if I find out that’s not the case [that my fetal cells made no difference when my mother was ill], well, that’s the truth. And as a scientist, I want to find out the truth; whether or not the truth is wonderful or the truth is horrible…at least I know what the truth is, and both as a son and as a scientist, that would be of value to me.

This is true science. The scientific method can, and should, be applied to all aspects of life. Too often people stop asking the questions when they find the answers they are looking for. Any new evidence or ideas that challenge one’s beliefs, or cause discomfort or uncertainty are discounted or completely dismissed. As skeptics, scientists base their opinions on good evidence, and are not afraid to have that evidence challenged.

The strength of the scientific method is found in its ability to detect error as well as its ability to detect truth. It describes a way of obtaining knowledge that is based on observation, repetition, transparency and correction. It would behoove everyone–individually and as a society–to value and engage in scientific thinking: Deep curiosity about the world, rigorous and critical examination and testing, unbiased and objective scrutiny, and openness to new ideas and perspectives–regardless of the palatability of the outcome.

Comments (0) May 28 2012


What I Learned in Nursing School

Posted under: education, health, nursing, philosophy, school.
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I made it! Today I graduate from the University of Southern Maine with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. It is time to begin vigorously studying for the NCLEX and to find a job. There are so many things that have interested me. Now that I have finished my clinicals I am most drawn toward mental health and neurology.

One of the biggest challenges with nursing is connecting everything together. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the minutiae and consequently missing out on the big picture or other significant details. Throughout nursing school we have been assured that with time and experience, we will move from being task-oriented and routine-focused to seeing everything as an interconnected, fluid process, and being able to anticipate and manage rapidly changing non-routine events. I feel that I’ve gained extensive knowledge and learned valuable skills throughout my lectures and labs. However, until interacting with actual patients in a real clinical environment, I could not fully understand, appreciate, and apply all those concepts. My clinicals significantly increased my understanding and have hopefully prepared me for the complexities of nursing practice. I have included some excerpts from my journals of my various clinicals throughout the nursing program:
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Comments (6) May 06 2012


Book Review: The Grand Design

Posted under: book review, education, science.
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In their book The Grand Design, Hawking and Mlodinow explain the way theories about quantum mechanics and relativity came together to shape our understanding of how our universe (and possibly others) formed out of nothing.The Grand Design

Hawking is eloquent in the way he describes and explains the workings of the universe.

Orbital eccentricity is a measure of how near an ellipse is to a circle. The degree to which an ellipse is squashed is described by what is called its eccentricity, a number between zero and one. The earth’s orbit has an eccentricity of only about 2 percent, which means it is nearly circular. Circular orbits are friendly to life, while very elongated orbits result in large seasonal temperature fluctuations. On Mercury, for example, with a 20 percent eccentricity, the temperature is over 200 degrees F warmer at the planet’s closest approach to the sun (perihelion) than when it is at its farthest from the sun (aphelion). (p. 150-151)

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Comments (0) Aug 06 2011


Summer Reading 2011

Posted under: education, philosophy, psychology, science.
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I had half the summer off from school, so naturally I took this opportunity to do some leisure reading. I read some interesting books, all covering my favorite subjects: Neuroscience, psychology, forensics, economics, and science in general.

For nearly every book I read, I take copious notes in Evernote so that I can refer back to the most significant and fascinating things I learn and want to remember. I’ve selected some excerpts from my notes for the books I’ve read the past couple of months, and will post them with reviews for each book.

I enjoy reading. I especially love when my reading prompts further questions and inspires me to study a subject further. I still have a stack of books to tackle before classes start. Yes, I’m a book nerd. :-)

Comments (0) Aug 06 2011


Book Review: Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Posted under: book review, education, philosophy, video.
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Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Brent has been participating in a science book club. I love reading books about science; however, going to school in addition to working full time makes it difficult for me to find the time for leisurely reading. Fortunately I had a week of vacation from work scheduled simultaneously with a break between semesters of nursing school. I eagerly picked up this month’s assigned book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo from the library.

Author Sean B. Carroll discusses evolutionary developmental biology which is the relationship between embryonic development and evolutionary changes. He explains how “tool kit genes,” a small number of genes which emerged 600 million years ago, are the primary components for building all animals. He discusses how the amazing diversity in the world is controlled by “genetic switches” which instruct these tool kit genes where to act and what to do.

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Comments (0) Jan 08 2011


A Know-Nothing Nation

Posted under: philosophy, politics, psychology.
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Light, With Intermittant Heat, Likely
Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic, January 1, 2010

I have long been disturbed by the sensationalism and bias of the media in our country. I read this article by Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic.

Cohen states:
Media Monkeys

The lines between television news and entertainment haven’t just been blurred; they have been obliterated by a terribly divisive and destructive mix: the cynicism and greed of television executives and the concomitant apathy, ignorance, and lack of curiosity on the part of the American people. Which came first? Even if you argue “the people” and not “the media” it still doesn’t excuse the glee with which television news has embraced the fashionable at the expense of the important.

Our family has not had cable or satellite t.v. for years. We don’t watch television and do not miss it. The only reason our girls know anything about celebrities such as Hannah Montana is through their friends. A copius amount of reality shows and celebrity gossip pervades the airways and consumes the minds and lives of the American people. I constantly hear people discussing the latest shows and can’t imagine wasting my time that way. When Tiger Woods’ “indiscretion” is the top news story for weeks, I know our media has failed us.
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Comments (1) Jan 03 2010


A New Direction

Posted under: school.
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I wasn’t accepted into the nursing program at USM. The number of nursing applicants is increasing substantially everywhere. The academic advisor of nursing at USM informed me that the program is highly competitive; they only accepted 90 applicants for this year. Many were already matriculated, which gave them an edge. She said that the applicants who had already taken many of the courses required in the nursing program also had an advantage. Finally, my 4.0 GPA from last semester probably did not bring up my GPA from Ricks College (now BYU Idaho) quite enough. I’ll always regret that I was so lackadaisical back then. I expect to have a 4.0 again for this past semester, which will boost my GPA for the future.

The news disappointed me, of course. But as it prompted me to consider different options, I saw it as an opportunity to pursue a career in science and research. This is something with which I’ve always been fascinated. Sure, I could see myself as a nurse, making good money and having job opportunities everywhere; however I don’t think I would be truly happy. I could be passionate about science and research, and that is ultimately more fulfilling.

I will probably pursue an undergraduate degree in biology. I am interested in toxicology and pathology (possibly with a forensics focus), marine biology, oceanography, and geology. Brent has been incredibly supportive. I appreciate his love and encouragement, and I know he just wants me to be happy. He is especially excited about marine biology. However, he warned me that if I go into pathology and work in a morgue he will NOT come visit me for lunch. :-)

OK, so I need to narrow it down a bit, but I’m excited to go after my dream.

Comments (0) May 10 2009


All American Children Are Above Average Act

Posted under: philosophy, politics, psychology, school.
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Liberal education is a vanishing ideal in the contemporary West. The aim of liberal education is to produce people who go on learning after their formal education has ceased; who think, ask questions, and know how to find answers when they need them. People who are better informed and more reflective are more likely to be considerate than those who are – and who are allowed to remain – ignorant, narrow-minded, selfish, and uncivil in the profound sense that characterizes so much human experience now.

Since the No Child Left Behind Act has been instituted, it has been counterproductive. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires public schools to administer a state-wide standardized test annually to all students, holding them accountable and withholding federal funding if they fail to meet requirements. I am infuriated and bewildered by this law.NCLB: A+

Many opponents of NCLB, including teachers and parents, do not like the idea of the testing that is provided in NCLB. They claim that “standardized testing, which is the heart of NCLB accountability, is deeply flawed and biased for many reasons, and that stricter teacher qualifications have exacerbated the nationwide teacher shortage, not provided a stronger teaching force.”

Deborah White

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Comments (6) Mar 19 2009


Algebra

Posted under: school.
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Algebra begins with an unknown.
To solve the problem, work must be shown.
Parentheses are added to make problems look harder,
but you can still do it, because you are much smarter!

The next day you learn coefficients and terms.
You get confused, and say you’ll have to adjourn.
When you get back, you have a new mission:
properties of numbers, using addition!

Exponents and factors are the new step,
but all of a sudden you came down with strep!
The day you return, you feel like trying
properties of something called multiplying!

Dispersing of candy is done very proud;
little do they know, one was missed in the crowd.
The distributive property was explained very well.
By the blank looks on faces, you could certainly tell!

Equations of numbers were taught left and right,
finding the unknown, which was clean out of sight!
Adding the opposite, or something diverse–
every second that passed, the problem got worse!

Much anguish we just could not avoid,
because the amount of homework really got us annoyed!
Solving more equations, ended the frivolity.
No matter what, there was inequality!

Combining like terms, and variables on each side,
searching absolute values, we looked far and wide.
Positive, negative, then drawing a graph!
By the end of the year, I’ll have had enough math!

~Keri A. Hanson, Learning Algebra

I’ve been dedicating a full day to each of my classes (on the days I’m not working).  I don’t look forward to the day I have to do my Algebra.  Dosage calculations is a breeze, English literature is enjoyable, psychology is interesting; and anatomy and physiology is fascinating.

Algebra, well…let’s just say I’ll be glad when it’s over.  Brent was wicked excited about my taking algebra (he actually enjoys math and is very good at it).  He likes to help me when I’m stuck, which is nice.  As for me, I don’t like putting such an obscene amount of time and effort into something so uninteresting and frustrating.  I thought math was supposed to be rational and straight-forward.  So what’s with imaginary and irrational numbers? Next semester I’m taking statistics.  Now there’s a math class for which I am actually excited!

Comments (6) Dec 04 2008