Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wasting Food Stinks

Wasting food stinks. That's why it's important to pay attention to various food products and be smart with their value. Adhering to the following strategies can personally prevent as much food waste as possible, for its a global issue that will hurt us all in the long run if we don't take heed.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

These Words Can Change Your Life Forever

Hi there. How are you doing?

Me? Well, I'm doing just fine, thanks for asking.

Say, I'd like to talk you about something, and it won't cost you a thing except a few minutes of your time. Care to listen?


So, what if I told you that you're missing out on your true calling in life? That a career, marriage, family, friends, and social status are no substitute for genuine happiness? That this life is nothing compared to the afterlife?

Would you call me jealous? Anti-American? Crazy?

Try none of the above.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rock On... Florida Governor Rick Scott's Merit Pay Plan

As I near the end of yet another semester in college, I feel liberated that roughly four months of tedious work will finally be over and a much needed summer vacation is just around the corner. That last day of a school year is always a joyous occasion. Its a day where nothing ever really gets done, with the exception of throwing a class party, signing yearbooks, and bidding peers and teachers a lovely summer vacation, as well. I guess the finality of it all warrants good cheer in everyone.

Well, almost everyone.

In a way, teachers are our unsung heroes in society. Its their duty to properly educate tomorrow's leaders, and its a task that goes vastly unappreciated. I don't know how or why teachers are taken for granted, but they are. Not only that, but at least in one state, their careers will be primarily graded on the results of their students on statewide tests in the near future.

What kind of person would put forth such a preposterous measure? Governor Rick Scott of Florida, that's who.

Governor Scott's legislation ought to be given an "F" for futile. Standardized tests are only one measure of assessing a student's progress and a teacher's effectiveness. In fact, the best teachers I've ever had, and the ones I learned the most from, went out of their way to make learning a lifelong adventure beyond the classroom. That motivated me to figure out why things were a certain way in the world. That made me a modern-day philosopher. And that's the kind of instruction sorely missed in this day and age.

What will happen erelong, if not already, is that teachers are going to base their whole curriculum around test taking skills with no value in the real world. I understand that reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic are still essential to any teacher's plan, but indoctrinating students on how to spot the right answer is no substitute for reasoning through the problem in the first place. That space in between the ears is there for a reason.

Furthermore, eliminating tenure at the elementary through high school levels will all but assure that teachers will come and go like employees in the fast food industry. The retention rate for new teachers after five years is barely over fifty percent, and that's just those who voluntarily stay. Deciding their fate at the end of every year will not make that number go up any time soon.

The teaching profession is simply too much work and too much stress for too little income. Yes, I agree they should be paid more, but tying down their earnings (and job security) to the performance of their overtaxed students is ludicrous. What if some of those students are poor test takers, but their grades and intelligence says otherwise? It's a scary proposition, and I fear for the future.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rock On... Carl Rogers' "Journey Into Self"

Seeing Carl Rogers put his person-centered theory in motion on the documentary Journey Into Self has changed my perspective on his practice, to a degree. My main criticism with his theory is that an imperfect counselor trying to prod his or her imperfect client(s) into self-actualization is similar to the blind leading the blind. However, I saw a different method play out. Instead of guiding each client through this group therapy session, Rogers just sits there and allows the client to be their own therapist, while he interjects on a few occasions to make a quick point or suggest a thought to continue the discussion for as long as it does. By letting the clients make their own assessments, repressed feelings are unearthed for everyone to see in each other's quest to root themselves in their own form of closure while Rogers looks on as a spectator.

Based on everyone's confessions regarding their own faults and discouragements, I personally felt they were all, in some way, looking for acceptance by disclosing their apprehension. For instance, a woman named Beth said that she shows more love for her cats than her husband because she doesn't feel the love that she used to from him. Her subconscious technique perpetuates the isolation she feels in marriage, and only after acknowledging this does she begin to feel sorry for the pain she caused. The Eurasian lady also remarked that she felt less than human because her husband (who was actually Rogers' second wife) kept calling her a "lotus blossom." She broke down, not because the flower remark was derogatory, but because she wanted to be appreciated as a fallible individual. I found this human element very touching.

The main point I took from this film came at its conclusion when Rogers said, "Learning is irreversible." I think this is a crucial maxim based on his train of thought because it implies that any backward or forward progress one makes in their psychological development is built upon learned stimuli. Using this logic, no psychological disorder can appear or vanish overnight. Thus, the decision to control or be controlled is a conscious effort to give meaning in one's life.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Epic Big Mac Journey is No Whopper

CORRECTION: Don Gorske will eat his record-breaking sandwich on May 17, 2011. Please disregard May 12 as being the big day. Hey, I'm human. Nonetheless...

If all goes according to plan, May 12, 2011 will be a historic occasion for the McDonald's corporation. That's the day Don Gorske of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin will consume his 25,000th Big Mac and gorge his way further into fast food folklore. You heard me right.

According to this picture taken last December, Gorske was at 24,710 Big Macs, presumably at day's end. At his current clip of two Big Macs a day, he would need to take an additional 145 days from the time of that photo to reach the next plateau of burger mania, which would be May 12, 2011. It's a milestone that's as gut-wrenching as it must taste.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How To Avoid Getting Into Debt. For Good.

Do you struggle to keep your finances in check?

Do you dread the sight of bills and credit card statements in the mail?

Does your bank account have only three digits? And two of which are behind a period?

If any of these apply to you, read on.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Biodiversity in South Carolina

As a native South Carolinian, I pride myself in anything and everything related to the Palmetto State. The following are some of my state's official animals. Whether by air or land or sea, they are all marvelous creatures.

Perhaps the most fragile of all the species here is the loggerhead sea turtle. Its scientific name is Cattera cattera, and they are distinguished by their reddish-brown carapace, a.k.a. the upper shell. Loggerheads are most known for their annual migration to coastal beaches to lay their eggs in the summertime, which typically lasts from mid-May to mid-August.

However, they have been a designated endangered species since July 28, 1978, and their nesting populations have decreased by 3% every year since 1980. This is due to poachers and other forms of wildlife killing off newborn loggerheads before and during their migration from the nest to the ocean. It is now both a state and federal offense to tamper with a loggerhead’s nest, 90% of which are in Florida. These are big animals that can live as long as, if not longer than, humans with a volatile future. Next time you get the chance to see them up close, look in awe but don’t touch.

The Eastern tiger swallowtail, which is the official state butterfly of South Carolina, is as colorful as its wings. Its scientific name is Pterourus glaucus, and they can be found all over the southeastern United States in various settings, from meadows to local parks, feeding off a variety of wild nature and garden plants.

Both sexes are differentiated by the color of their wings. Males tend to have a yellow and black design while females have predominantly black wings. These particular butterflies are known for their aesthetic beauty and many people plant flowers nearby just to entice the swallowtails. Their presence is both attractive and constructive for all.

Then there's the Carolina wren, the small bird with a big voice. Its scientific name is Thryothorus ludovicianus, and theirs is a grandiose lifestyle. These wrens are typically seen in pairs, monogamous to each other when breeding and the males "employ one of the loudest songs per volume of birds."

They seldom leave their habitat long term because they are loyal to their home base, no matter where it is. Like the aforementioned swallowtail, Carolina wrens are commonplace throughout the southeast. They stay within those confines because they can’t survive harsh winters up north and won't dare cross their own immutable boundaries. They know what they want and how to get it, which is punctuated by their shrill, harmonious cry.

Lastly, there's the white-tailed deer, a graceful, naturally shy creature. Its scientific name is Odocoileus virginianus, and they have a unique lineage to themselves. For starters, these deer are not indigenous to South Carolina or even the southeastern U.S. In addition, these animals are frequent targets of hunters, a threat none of the above species have to deal with. However, there are approximately 750,000 of these deer in South Carolina alone, and this particular population has been stabilized since the mid-1990s after years of rapid growth.

But whether or not they are hunted, people have taken a liking to these deer from both their natural setting and their placement as an ornament for some. The fact that white-tailed deer can be both appreciated and assassinated shows the two extremes of human emotion when confronted with raw, natural beauty.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Student-Athletes or Athlete-Students?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is perhaps the first thing you think of when college athletics comes to mind, and rightfully so. There are nearly 1,300 member institutions in three divisions that participate in 23 sports for a championship and up to 87 total sanctioned sports. For over 420,000 young men and women, their association with the Association is a mutual trade-off. They get to play the sport they love and, in exchange, the NCAA will pay for their college expenses via an athletic scholarship.

Open and shut, right? Not exactly.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Not Only Does Snickers Satisfy Your Hunger, It's Good For You, Too!

In our go-go world today, we're always in need of a quick fix for those times before and after lunch while at work or school. Whether they come from the home or the office, snacks provide us a temporary bridge over the dull roar of our stomach as the acids inside echo to be subsided.

But unless you bring (or buy) a fruit cup or small garden salad, most snacks contain "empty calories." I.e., they'll keep you satisfied but they have little nutritional value. From soda to chips, the real price you pay comes not out of pocket, but out to your abs and thighs. And depending on how regularly and consistently you've done so, expect a few less years to live, as well.

Hence the need for smarter snacking.

If there is one thing I will commend snack distributors for, it's their decision to make health-conscious choices for people to make. And at the very least, they've made basic nutritional information – like total calories and grams from fat – clearer for people to see, and they've put a greater emphasis on using all natural ingredients. Then again, if you select a candy bar from a vending machine, you ought to know what you're getting yourself into. Or so I thought.

When I walked by the lobby at a place I frequent this past Thursday, it came as a shock to me that Snickers was now a healthy snack.

Skeptical? Don't be. Here's why.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What's Your Five?

In another class of mine I'm currently taking, my professor gave out a take-home test to be returned earlier today. It wasn't for a grade and, more than anything, this was an opportunity to prove a point postulated just a few decades ago.

Psychology and personality go together like peanut butter and jelly. Psychology is literally the study of the mind, and personality is the inner character that drives people to do what they do. It's difficult, if not impossible, to isolate the two without acknowledging that both play a role in each other's development of the self. But because much of the science of psychology is subjectively theorized, the chance of accurately predicting one's personality was once thought of as slim to none.

Then along came Robert McCrae and Paul Costa Jr.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hot Dogs: UConn Basketball Wins Men's National Title

For a scrappy group of young men from Storrs, Connecticut, the University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies were itching to get into the Final Four and win the national championship from day one.

They had every reason to.

UConn had a disappointing 2009-10 campaign, going 18-16 overall and 7-11 in the Big East Conference before losing in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament to the Virginia Tech Hokies. Just the year before, in 2008-09, the Huskies were playing in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to the eventual runner-up Michigan State Spartans 82-73.

A fall from grace like that was due for a triumphant return at redemption.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Joke for April Fool's Day

So an Italian who speaks little English is applying for a job as a cashier. The store is looking for people who can think outside the box, and the Italian thinks he's a perfect candidate. During the job interview, the interviewer tells him that he's got to be proficient in basic math and a simple test will be given to prove his competence.

First, he tells the Italian to add three plus three plus three. The Italian takes a few seconds and, when he's done, shows the interviewer a picture he drew. The interviewer, puzzled, asks him what the picture stands for. The Italian replies,

"It's a tree plus a tree plus a tree. That'sa nine!"

The interviewer sighs, then asks him what thirty three plus thirty three plus thirty three equals. Using the same picture, the Italian shades the leaves in a few seconds, and shows it to the interviewer.

"It's a dirty tree plus a dirty tree plus a dirty tree. That'sa ninety-nine!"

The interviewer has now had it with the Italian's shenanigans. He then asks him to add up to one hundred using the same picture he drew, assured that the Italian couldn't do it. A few seconds pass, and a small dark oval is drawn next to each tree. The interviewer has no clue what it stands for when he's done, and the Italian replies,

"It's a dirty tree and a turd plus a dirty tree and a turd plus a dirty tree and a turd. That'sa hundred!"

Needless to say, he got the job.