Thursday, October 27, 2011


Doc says I've got to reduce my stress, so I did some research. Stress can kill brain cells, add fat, unravel chromosomes, shorten telomeres (increase aging), cause low IQ and mental disabilities in offspring (yes offspring, this is SCIENCE)(when fetus is exposed to high stress levels), and shuts down nonessential body systems (digestion, immune). Top ways to reduce stress? Social interaction, especially connecting with and helping others. (Check) Taking on leadership roles. (Check) Taking action and producing change. (Check) SO. I've formulated the Better World Hypothesis: Work towards creating a better world, help others, take action, be creative, and TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE. Stress will be reduced. Health will be better. Awesomeness will be at maximum. If everyone does this: World Peace. As long as we can all reach a consensus. (Studies on Baboon societies prove this -- I think it could work for our species too.) I'm a scientist. I can handle this.

Side note for Occupy crew: In baboons it took six months to reach a consensus with the rest of society, hang in there!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Connecting People with Decision Makers

It seems to me that one of the biggest issues today is finding ways to connect decision makers with citizens.  While citizens should take personal responsibility for maintaining their knowledge of and taking action on today's issues, the great majority do not.  This standard of ignorance has begun to shift, one example being the Occupy Wall Street protests and the anti-occupy groups that represent the opposing opinions.  This shift, from a largely apathetic nation to one with increasing public awareness, brings forth a question:  Who is responsible for the continued education of the nation?  Yes, the responsible citizen seeks out an unbiased source of knowledge and will make decisions based on their own opinions.  But precious few seem to take the time to do this.  Americans want easy answers to difficult questions, this is due in part to our evolution into a low context culture.

Is it then, the responsibility of government to present the information?  If so, how can that information be presented in a way that is cost-effective, simple to manage, and easy to access?

There are several issues linked to this problem, the country's failing school systems, for example. If students graduating high school can barely read, how can they process and understand the importance of complex issues?  How many will vote based on advertising alone?  How many will not vote at all?

I don't have all the answers, and I know that there will always be the apathetic, I only hope that it will become an apathetic few.  Fixing the school system, enforcing transparency in government, eliminating corruption, and finding the dynamic, intelligent, and honest few who have the ambition and vision to lead this country is a difficult task.  Keeping those decision makers connected to the people is even more difficult.  Social networking and other technologies are the future of communication.  Design must meet government, and find a way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

13 Things

I am:

1.  Starting an environmental education outreach program with a student group on campus.
2. Volunteering twice a week as a "Conversation Partner" in an English as a second language assistance program.
3. Working 20 (really closer to 25) hours a week as a tutor, structured learning assistant, and success coach.
4. Going to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History twice a week to database my 2010 insect collection.
5. Statistics class.
6. Learning how to run.  Slowly.
7. Being an awesome dog-mom.
8. Reading two papers a week on parasitoid wasps, urban ecology, urban entomology, and/or other cool science.
9.  Getting materials together for my doctorate program applications (eep)
10. Getting materials (DATA) together for the Entomological Society of America conference in Reno, NV, November 13-17.
11. Figuring out football and trying (really) to be interested.
12. Reading my new American Entomologist.
13. Trying to not lose my mind.