4 years, 5 months, and 15 days. Be bored. Let your mind wander. It helps you grow.

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/5629e-animals-dancing-only-boring-people-bored.jpg?w=656

The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: “When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

“But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen “tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-21895704

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It’s summer time.  Remember our last summer together when we visited as many waterways as we could?  We caught fish and crawdads at Scotts Mills, remember?  The water was cold, wasn’t it?  But, it was so much fun!  Even Little V waded into the water.

That’s what summers are for … exploration, trials, and growth.  Reduce your screen time, boys.  Remember, spend no more than 2 hours of screen time TOTAL!  That includes television as well as video games, computer, etc.

Why?  It’s simple: your brain needs down time to process information about the world around you, about you, etc.  Years ago, during a psychological experiment, researchers examined the brain activities of people under MRI as they were told to focus on certain stimuli.  However, during the brief period in between the experiments, when there was a lull, the entire brain lit up.  That was unexpected.  What where learning now is that there might be organized into two separate systems: one system (extrinsic) that operates when we’re actively focusing on a task, and an intrinsic or default system that operates when we are at rest.  Scientists now believe it is when our brain is at rest (during down time, when our mind wander) that the brain works on the self, on defining who we are, etc.

Dr Josipovic’s research is part of a larger effort better to understand what scientists have dubbed the default network in the brain.

He says the brain appears to be organised into two networks: the extrinsic network and the intrinsic, or default, network.

Image caption Dr Josipovic has scanned the brains of more than 20 experienced meditators during the study

The extrinsic portion of the brain becomes active when individuals are focused on external tasks, like playing sports or pouring a cup of coffee.

The default network churns when people reflect on matters that involve themselves and their emotions.

But the networks are rarely fully active at the same time. And like a seesaw, when one rises, the other one dips down.

This neural set-up allows individuals to concentrate more easily on one task at any given time, without being consumed by distractions like daydreaming.

“What we’re trying to do is basically track the changes in the networks in the brain as the person shifts between these modes of attention,” Dr Josipovic says.

Dr Josipovic has found that some Buddhist monks and other experienced meditators have the ability to keep both neural networks active at the same time during meditation – that is to say, they have found a way to lift both sides of the seesaw simultaneously.

And Dr Josipovic believes this ability to churn both the internal and external networks in the brain concurrently may lead the monks to experience a harmonious feeling of oneness with their environment.

Self-reflection

Scientists previously believed the self-reflective, default network in the brain was simply one that was active when a person had no task on which to focus their attention.

But researchers have found in the past decade that this section of the brain swells with activity when the subject thinks about the self.

The default network came to light in 2001 when Dr Marcus Raichle, a neurologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in the US state of Missouri, began scanning the brains of individuals who were not given tasks to perform.

The patients quickly became bored, and Dr Raichle noticed a second network, that had previously gone unnoticed, danced with activity. But the researcher was unclear why this activity was occurring.

Other scientists were quick to suggest that Dr Raichle’s subjects could have actually been thinking about themselves.

Soon other neuroscientists, who conducted studies using movies to stimulate the brain, found that when there was a lull of activity in a film, the default network began to flash – signalling that research subjects may have begun to think about themselves out of boredom.

But Dr Raichle says the default network is important for more than just thinking about what one had for dinner last night.

“Researchers have wrestled with this idea of how we know we are who we are. The default mode network says something about how that might have come to be,” he says.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-12661646

Be bored, boys.  Let your mind wander and your imagination roam.  Don’t buy into the false gods and false promises of electronics.  The answers to life’s major questions do not lie there.  They lie out in the world.  Go explore.  Live.  Use your imagination.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 5 months, and 11 days. Keep your eyes on the prize. Stay focused on your path to success.

https://bkc.name/wp-content/uploads/EnjoyLife-Series-033eyes-on-the-prize.png

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I sit here and wonder where you are, what you are doing, whether you are having a good or bad day.  It’s hard.  I wish it weren’t so.  But, in life, we play the cards we are dealt.  Control is only an illusion.  As the saying goes, “Man plans.  God laughs.”

https://i1.wp.com/photos-ak.sparkpeople.com/2/4/b248359398.jpg

Plan anyway.  Plan for your future.  Work hard to achieve it.  Success is 95 percent sweat.  You must work hard to prepare yourself and be ready whenever opportunities for success present themselves.

Focus on schooling and on getting into the best colleges you can.  Better colleges create better first opportunities for you.  In other words, you can still be successful if you do not attend a top-ranked college, but your road to success would be made more difficult.  Others are more likely to invest in your future if the likes of Harvard, Stanford, Duke, etc., have already vetted you and found you desirable.  Success breeds success, my sons.

Look at your cousins.  Which ones have a brighter future?  Those who studied hard and have achieved a good college education, or those without?  Your cousins on your mother’s side are roofers, paintbrush makers, fast food workers, etc., while your cousins on my side are engineers, designers, executives, etc.  Success rarely comes by accident.

Aim for success.  Keep your eyes on that prize, and work towards it.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 5 months, and 7 days. Choose good friends: they’ll enrich your life.

https://jwagslife.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/image-7.jpg

https://i2.wp.com/quotepixel.com/images/quotes/friendship/quote-friends-are-treasures_17381-2.png

Do you believe that blood is thicker than water? That your family relationships are more important than friends? Well, think again. Research from Michigan State University suggests that friends may make you happier and healthier than your relatives.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/12/does-family-make-you-happier-than-friends

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I apologize for the long absence.  It has been busy and I have been exhausted by day’s end.  Even though I have neither strength nor mental clarity to write you, my thoughts do not stray far from you.  There is a place in my heart where only you can reside.  It will never be filled by anyone else.

The days may be long and exhausting, but I am at least slightly happier because I have supportive friends.  Don’t ever underestimate the importance of friendship, my sons.  Good friends are the spices that add flavor to your life, the winds that lift you to dizzying heights and the safety lines that catches you should you fall, and the mirrors that truthfully reflect back how you are presenting yourself to the world.  They will be there with you through thick and thin.

But, beware false friends.  They may tell you what you want to hear, but their hearts do not belong to you.  They may be fair weather friends, who will only be there with you during the good times to share a laugh.  That’s fine, but know that is their true aim and purpose.  Don’t be disappointed when they abandon you during difficult times.  These are not true friends, but are more like acquaintances.

I find it best to find and surround myself with good people and true friends who inspire me to be better.  Such are often hard to find, but they are worth their weight in gold.  Treat them with kindness and respect, and care and feeding.  Cultivate those friendship and protect them as you would treasure — for that is what they are.

Good and supportive friends bring you as much health and happiness as you do them.  On the other hand, bad people are never worthy of the label friends.  Stay away from them.  They are not the harbinger of joy and good health, but of their opposites.  For example, a recent headline states:

Guilty Verdict for Young Woman Who Urged Friend to Kill Himself.

This is a misuse of the much coveted label of friendship.  That woman was never a friend.  She was anything but a friend.  Beware of the likes of her.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 4 months, and 12 days. Think critically.

https://i1.wp.com/selectedreads.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Critical_Thinking_Infographic-e1345139343418-1.jpg

My dearest dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I miss you so much!  Your absence weighs heavily especially when I see kids struggling with problems and worry whether you face similar.  Be strong my sons!

Remember, your mind is your greatest asset and your best tool.  Use it well.

Think critically.  Always explore the truthfulness of what you think you know and what others tell you.  What is the source of the information?  Is it trustworthy?

Even if the source is trustworthy, is there a reasn the person giving you the information may not wish to tell you the truth, or the WHOLE truth?  What is his or her bias?

What’s information is missing — because it was left out on purpose, because the person giving you the data doesn’t have the complete story, etc.?   Does the missing piece matter?  Think of the blind men and the elephant.  Each touched a different part of an elephant, and, depending on which part he touched, the individual blind men thought an elephant was like a fan (ear), a rope (tail), a snake (trunk), a tree (leg), etc.  Here, obviously, the missing information mattered.

I wish I could be there to guide you through life’s challenges.  For now, we have this.  Until we reunite, I send you

all my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

4 years, 3 months, and 16 days. Be nice.

https://i1.wp.com/www.todaysthebestday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/The-real-test-of-your-character-is-how-you-treat-the-people-you-dont-have-to-be-nice-to.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/livehappy.livelifehappy1.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/be-nice-to-people.jpg

 

In one study, Dr. Prinstein examined the two types of popularity in 235 adolescents, scoring the least liked, the most liked and the highest in status based on student surveys. “We found that the least well-liked teens had become more aggressive over time toward their classmates. But so had those who were high in status. It was a nice demonstration that while likability can lead to healthy adjustment, high status has just the opposite effect on us.”

Dr. Prinstein has also found that the qualities that made the neighbors want you on a play date — sharing, kindness, openness — carry over to later years and make you better able to relate and connect with others.

In analyzing his and other research, Dr. Prinstein came to another conclusion: Not only does likability correlate to positive life outcomes, but it is also responsible, he said, for those outcomes, too. “Being liked creates opportunities for learning and for new kinds of life experiences that help somebody gain an advantage,” he told me.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/education/edlife/be-nice-you-wont-finish-last.html?_r=0

My Dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Be nice, my sons.  It costs you little, but the impact on others may be great.  Everyone has his or her own cross to bear.  Why worsen the burden when it could be lightened with kind words?

Our forebears say, “Twirl your tongues seven times before you speak.”  That is sound advice.

Don’t worry about being the most popular.  Studies show kids who peaked in popularity in primary and secondary schools tend to be stuck at those stages and do worse later in life.  Be nice.  Learn to work with others.

Help others.  You’ll find that it will make you happier.  This is why I have often volunteered when I have time.  My one regret is that I didn’t involve you in my volunteerism while I had the opportunity.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

 

4 years, 3 months, and 11 days. Caveat Emptor.

https://i1.wp.com/wordpress.thebunnysystem.com/comics/2005-03-21-Caveat_Emptor.jpg

https://mlambert890.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/caveat-emptor-sign.jpg?w=540&h=409

caveat emptor

 noun

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

In commerce, as in life, the burden is on YOU, as the consumer, to always be wary of what you’re being sold — be it a thing, a service, or an idea.  The job of whoever is selling you the thing/service/idea is to sell that thing/service/idea.  The sale is his goal.  In making the sale, he can but he doesn’t have to be truthful, ethical, or humane.  For example, he doesn’t have to tell you

The burden is on you, the buyer, to make sure what you’re buying is of high quality and useful for your purpose.  If you don’t watch out, once you’ve bought his ware, the problem becomes yours to own.

Caveat emptor is of greater significance in this day and age when we are constantly bombarded from all sides by information — good and bad.  It is more important than ever for you to be educated consumers.

Unless you can trust the person with your life — and even then — always check to verify the truth of what the person said.  Among other things, always ask yourself the following:

  • What do I know about this subject that confirms or contradict what the person just said? 
  • What can I verify, using reliable and reputable sources such as well-reviewed articles published in reputable journals and peer-reviewed academic studies?
  • What does the speaker have to gain from me buying what he said? 
  • Is his gain also my gain, or do our interests conflict?
  • Even if the seller has nothing to gain personally from my buying his ware, does he have one or more biases that blind him to the objective truth?
  • What’s the harm if I buy his good, service, or idea — is the harm significant and permanent or is it slight and temporary?

The last is important because we live in an imperfect world.  We don’t always have the time or energy to verify everything.  Sometimes, if the cost is slight (meaning the harm is negligible and temporary), then it may not be worth spending a lot of time on the investigation.  Regardless of the consequence, you should always engage in the analysis.

This is true of the “news” you hear daily, the textbooks chosen for you by your schools and your teachers, and certainly the sales pitch anyone throws your way.

I love you always, and forever,

Dad

4 years, 3 months, and 8 days. Embrace your heritage and your bicultural background.

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/896e2-beingbilingualbetterforchildren.jpg?w=533&h=526

https://i1.wp.com/www.bhlingual.com/wp-content/uploads/How-the-brain-benefits-from-being-bilingual.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/dana.org/uploadedImages/Images/Content_Images/Cerebrum-bilingual-Fig1-L.jpg

 

It has long been known that there are many advantages to being bicultural such as having a greater number of social networks, being aware of cultural differences, taking part in the life of two or more cultures, being an intermediary between cultures, and so on. Recent research shows that biculturals are also characterized by greater creativity and professional success.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-bilingual/201304/advantages-being-bicultural

 

One advantage of being bicultural may be the ability to take the “best” of both cultures. A 2003 study showed that pregnant Mexican-American women who were more “selectively bicultural” – adopting specific health-related beliefs and practices from both cultures – were less stressed overall.

If that’s not enough, here’s one more benefit of being bicultural: creativity. Research published in 2012 found that people who identified with both their “home” and their “host” cultures scored higher on several measures of creativity compared with those who were were either assimilated to or separated from their host culture.

https://blog.allpsych.com/the-benefits-of-biculturalism/

 

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It always make me sad when I see people deny who they are.  I cannot help but think they must carry such shame of themselves that it forces them to deny their own heritage.  Your bi-racial cousins, for example, appear to have deleted from their social media almost all traces of their dad’s side of the family.  Unfortunately, one but has to look at them and know they are bi-racial.

Don’t be like that.  Embrace who you are.  You come from good stock and are  well-raised.  Our culture is thousands of years old, and your forebears had held high posts within the country.  We now have also gained a measure of success in America.

You are the product of all that history and culture.  You now have the benefit of picking the best from each culture and being better than each.  Further, as the above graphics demonstrate, being bilingual gives you concrete benefits that give you advantages today and in the days ahead.

Embrace your special gifts.  Don’t ever deny who you are.

All my love, always,

Dad