5 years, 3 months, and 10 days. Living a good life is challenging. Live well anyway.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Today is a hard day.  Actually, it’s been a hard week.

But, no one promised you life would be easy.  If anyone did, he or she lied.

Life is a struggle … to do the right thing, to do the best you can under the circumstances, to be true to yourself despite pressures from all sides to conform to the wishes and demands of others, etc.  As Anton Chekhov said, “Any idiot can deal with a crisis; it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.”

Live well anyway.  What choice have you?  You could lie, cheat, steal, and boot-lick your way up, but there is no honor in that.  Further, you will find that path unpleasant on the way up and that it never ends.  Change is a constant, and you must constantly kiss ass to remain in the position.  Is it really worth it?  Would you rather live honestly or would you rather be a two-faced, back stabbing bootlicker who’d sell his own mother for profit?

Be true to yourself, my sons.  It’s a tough road, but it is one that will enable you to look back on your life with pride.  It will give your life meaning, and will give reasons for those who matter in the world to celebrate your life instead of long for your death.  See, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/us/barbara-bush-dead.html; and, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/04/18/southwest-airlines-victim-jennifer-riordan/527363002/.

Buck up!  There will always be difficult days. But, strive to live such that more of your days are pleasant than unpleasant.

We are surrounded by ankle-biters, who will never amount to much.  But, that is the nature of ankle-biters: they are often of low- or poor-skills, will never make much of their lives, and are best at pulling others down to their levels.  Ignore them if you can, deal forcefully with them if you must, but spend most of your time pursuing your goals and dreams.  Your success is what they fear most … because it makes more stark their failures.

Be you.  Be the best you.  Find joy wherever and whenever you can.  Make it a priority to spend time with friends and people who love you.  Make friends.  Let nature nourish your body, heart, mind, and spirit.  Experience life.

Love with all you heart and soul because that is the only way to love and live.  To hedge your bet or to reciprocate only the feelings of another is to empower your mind to cage your heart and imprison it in fear.  Don’t do that.  Experience life.  With great love may come great loss, but at least you would have loved and lost rather than to have never experience such miracle and exquisite beauty.

https://quotefancy.com/media/wallpaper/1600x900/2008601-Alfred-Tennyson-Quote-It-s-better-to-have-loved-and-lost-than.jpg

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All my love, always.  You are the best of me.

Dad

P.S., don’t buy the “fake news” crap that the dishonest espouses.  Reputable newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post build their reputations over decades, and have processes in place to protect the hard-earned good-will and reputation they cultivated.  They make mistakes, as all humans are want to do, but they try to be fair and accurate.  That is a lot more than others who won’t even bother to be fair, accurate, or even truthful.

Congratulations to the New York Times, Washington Post, Arizona Republic, and others on their Pulitzer Prizes.  http://www.pulitzer.org/prize-winners-by-year/2018.

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5 years, 3 months, and 8 days. Make a good first impression: be well-informed.

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A Harvard study revealed that it typically takes eight subsequent positive encounters to change another person’s negative opinion of you.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2015/02/10/the-do-over-how-to-correct-a-bad-first-impression/#3dece3f055f6

 

 

Recognize that changing someone’s perception will take time. As stated earlier, no matter who you are, you will inevitably make a less than positive impression on someone. While some have suggested that it can take months or even years to erase a bad first impression, a Harvard study suggests that it will take eight subsequent positive encounters to change that person’s negative opinion of you. In this context be persistent and patient.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140424005629-3411076-how-to-overcome-making-a-bad-first-impression

 

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

People are often full of shit.  Many will bluster or drone on and on about that which they know little.  They may cite one study or one source to validate their point.  Be not like them.

Be well-informed.  Read voraciously.  Read from diverse sources from different continents to combat biases and to gain greater perspective.  Think deeply and critically about what you read, see, and hear.  Never swallow wholesale what someone pitches; everyone has his/her biases.  Figure why they’re saying what they’re saying (e.g., are they paid to say it?), what they are omitting, what their assumptions are, etc.

One of my favorite dialogues are from the movie, The Negotiator, with Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey:

Now you're a history buff?
                 
I generally read histories and biographies.       

Don't believe everything you read.              

I didn't say I read just one book.                

I try to read all books on a subject.  You know, try to get all the facts...                

...and then decide for myself what really happened.

http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/n/negotiator-script-transcript-kevin-spacey.html (emphasis added)

Too many people are careless with their reputation.  They say or repeat nonsense and expect there to be few consequences for spouting crap.  They are wrong.  People of caliber notice.  They, then, give wide berth to the uninformed for, except as sheep and mindless consumers, not much good come of being uninformed.

Remember, everything we say and do reflect well or poorly on us, as individuals.  Everything about us communicates something about ourselves.  Thus, strive to make a great impression.  Speak well.  Be thoughtful.  Be well-mannered.  Exude confidence.

Bad first impressions are extremely difficult to correct: people rarely give you eight chances to counteract that one bad first impression.  Their impression of you will color their view of all you do.  If they think you are smart, they will pass off a mistake as a one-off event and not let that affect their judgment of you.  Conversely, if they think you are an idiot, they will think something you did well is but a fluke and you remain an idiot.

Life is hard enough as it is.  Why would you choose to make it harder on yourselves by giving bad first impressions?  Don’t do it.

Be well-read, thoughtful, well-mannered, and kind.  Make a great first impression.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., all is not lost if you made a bad first impression.  It just means you have a lot of hard work ahead of you to correct it.

The Do-Over: How To Correct A Bad First Impression

 Last year I wrote about the nature of first impressions. We’re continually told of the importance of making positive first impressions, especially given how quickly we determine them. Some research suggests that first impressions can be so powerful that they’re weighed more heavily than fact. We know that making a good first impression is critical to success in both our jobs and personal lives, but the fact is that sometimes we flub them. Whether because of pressure, nervousness, a wrong approach, or distraction, we don’t always show up the way we intended.

The question then becomes, how do we correct a bad first impression?

Here’s the good news: impressions evolve over time. You may not get a second chance to make a first impression, but you can create an opportunity to correct one. Here are five ways to do so:

Realize that an initial impression is just that – a beginning.

We’ve all changed our opinion about someone the longer we’ve known them. Consider a colleague that you initially thought was standoffish, but after sharing a project realized was someone who just took a while to warm up.

If we look at first impressions as make-or-break opportunities, then it’s easy to make excuses for not trying to correct them. Instead, consider that impressions continuously evolve with multiple touch points. If you want someone to get to know the real you, then put yourself in front of them. Ask the person to lunch or volunteer to help them. By witnessing your skills and personality over a longer period of time, their perception of you can grow.

 Remember that repeated, small interactions build trust fastest.

A Harvard study revealed that it typically takes eight subsequent positive encounters to change another person’s negative opinion of you. So be persistent and play the long game.

Further, small, predictable interactions increase trust greater than a one-time splashy event. Take the pressure off yourself to knock someone’s socks off, and instead focus on demonstrating your value over an extended period of time. Strive to be consistent, follow up, and follow through.

Ask for a chance to correct.

Being straightforward can help minimize misunderstandings and reframe the discussion. Consider simply saying, “I feel like we got off on the wrong foot. Can I take you to lunch?”

Honesty can be a game changer in any relationship and goes a long way toward changing someone’s perspective. If you feel that there’s a failure to connect interpersonally, provide your view of the situation and then vet it with the other person. Admit what caused your behavior that may have led to a wrong impression. If you have a family issue that caused you to be disengaged during a meeting, then say so. If the other party is as open minded as most people hope to be (more on this next), then they should give you the benefit of the doubt.

Remind the other person how open-minded he or she is.

Many people have what psychologists call an egalitarian goal, which means that they work hard to be open minded and fair in their interactions with others. Research shows that when you remind someone of their fairness, they will more conscientiously work to live up to that assessment.

Practically speaking, this means that after a less than stellar first interaction, you can send a follow up email and compliment the other person on their open mindedness or fairness in evaluating people. Or recognize how their perspicacity must be a real asset in their job. Reminding the other person of their egalitarian goal will help them remember to be more open minded in their perceptions of you.

Ask them for advice – on anything.

According to Wharton School professor Adam Grant, asking for advice is a smart way to be influential. Grant discusses one study in which researchers asked people to negotiate the possible sale of commercial property. When the sellers asked the buyers for advice on how to meet their goals, 42% were able to come to an agreement that made both sides happy.

“Asking for advice encouraged greater cooperation and information sharing, turning a potentially contentious negotiation into a win-win deal. Studies demonstrate that across the manufacturing, financial services, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries, seeking advice is among the most effective ways to influence peers, superiors, and subordinates,” Grant writes.

If you feel that you didn’t make a positive impression, follow up and ask the other person for advice on some aspect of work. This also allows you to get in front of the person again and make a new impression. Psychologist Robert Cialdini says that by asking for advice, you suddenly “have the basis of an interaction.” Advice can always be returned, as can a thank you.

Comment here or @kristihedges.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. She blogs at kristihedges.com.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2015/02/10/the-do-over-how-to-correct-a-bad-first-impression/3/#7bbbb0f874de

 

5 years, 3 months, and 6 days. Be kind to your audience.

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Pity the readers.

https://kmh-lanl.hansonhub.com/pc-24-66-vonnegut.pdf (emphasis added)

http://kmh-lanl.hansonhub.com/pc-24-66-vonnegut.pdf

My dearest and most precious Shosh and Jaialai:

Kurt Vonnegut said it best and most succinctly:  “Pity the readers.”  Be kind to your audience.  They occupy not your life and live not in your head; thus, they have the difficult task of trying to follow your thoughts — be it in written or oral form.  Help them.

First, know your audience.  Who are they?  What do they want out of the interaction with you?  What are their interests?  What are their levels of education?  What is their frames of reference?  For example, if you were talking to high school graduates who are sports fanatics, and you peppered your conversation with quotes from a philosophy book, do you think your audience would be hooked by your presentation or bored?  Know your audience.  Speak their “language” — be it words, anecdotes, imagery, etc.

Second, as the speaker or writer, IT IS YOUR JOB to communicate your thoughts clearly to your audience.  Don’t shirk your duties.  Worse, don’t blame your audience for your failure to do your job.

For example, your job as the writer is to help your readers understand what you are saying by clearly giving them roadmaps and textual clues for them to follow along.  Thus, use signals – such as commas, and words like “but” – to tell readers what to expect and to better help them understand your points.

Shosh, when you were a toddler, you visited me at the office and scared my staff.  Ms. T asked why you liked construction equipment or something that simple.  You responded with, “Well, I like them for three reasons.  First, …”  Your detailed analysis as well as clear and organized thinking freaked them out.  Mr. D said he’d rather have kids who are not as smart since they would be easier to teach.

In life, you will find that if you care about your audience, they will care about you in return.  Do the hard lifting and complicated analyses for your audience and explain complex ideas in simple terms for your audience, and they will knock down your door to get to you and your services.  I promise.

Be well, my sons.  Live well.  Be happy.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

5 years, and 3 months. You can do well by doing good. Strive to do good well.

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My dearest and most precious sons, Shosh and Jailai:

You often hear it said that the good guy always loses.  I beg to differ.

Although the bad guy — who is willing to lie, cheat, and steal — may get ahead in the short run by skirting the law and morality, he/she loses in the long run.  First, note recent reports of the downfall of the mighty, e.g., Samsung’s chief and heir face prison time for their corrupt practices, a former president of South Korea has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for corruption, and a former president of Brazil has been sentence to 12 years in prison for corruption.  Crime catches up with you partly because you make enemies.  That leads to my second point: bad guys live in constant fear of being exposed or on the receiving end of their misdeeds.  A thief, for example, fears being discovered and thinks everyone is out to get him.  Thus, he must constantly be on guard and trusts few .  Is that a good way to live?  Are those the makings of a good life?  No.

You can do well by doing good in the world, by helping to make the world a better place.  For example, at a time when computing was limited to the few, Steve Job envisioned a world where there is a computer in every home and that technology is accessible to all.  As a result of his efforts, most homes today have one or more computers.  At the time of his death, Mr. Job’s net worth was $10.2 billion.  https://www.investopedia.com/university/steve-jobs-biography/steve-jobs-net-worth.asp.  He did well by doing good, wouldn’t you say?  (Now, reports are that Steve Job is not the easiest man to get along with and has his own issues.  But, who among us is perfect?  Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Acknowledge his contributions to the world, but hold him accountable for his less stellar aspects as appropriate.)

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The undergirding of today’s lesson is the same fundamental lessons I’ve always harped on:  be you but be the best you can be, and try to leave your corner of the world a little bit better than when you first found it.  I leave you with another wise word from one of my favorite people.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d5/18/3b/d5183b71ded68d0fad10373cfc36bfea.jpg

Go forth, do good, and do well.  Live a purposeful life.  Happiness lies therein.

All my love, always,

Dad

5 years, 2 months, and 29 days. Don’t be monkeys: don’t vape, use e-cigarettes, or smoke pot!

When Irfan Rahman talked to young vapers, some complained of bleeding mouths and throats. And these bloody sores seemed slow to heal. Such reports concerned this toxicologist at the University of Rochester in New York. So he decided to investigate what the vapors inhaled from electronic cigarettes might be doing to mouth cells.

Last October, his team showed those vapors inflame mouth cells in ways that could potentially promote gum disease. That gum damage can destroy the tissues that hold teeth in place. So severe gum disease could lead to tooth loss.

But that’s hardly the end of it.

Vapers inhale those same gases and particles into their lungs. Rahman wondered what effects those vapors might have on cells there. One gauge would be to test how long any lung-cell damage took to heal. And his latest data confirm that e-cigarette vapors also make it hard for lung cells to repair damage.

Students as young as 12 or 13 are now more likely to vape than to smoke. Many are under the impression that because e-cigs don’t contain tobacco, they pose little risk to health. Wrong.

Over the past few months, research has turned up evidence that vaping can pose many brand new risks. The vapors mess with immunity, some studies show. “Smoker’s cough” and bloody sores have begun showing up in teen vapers. The hotter a vaped liquid gets, the harsher its effects on human cells. And a relatively new vaping behavior called “dripping” ups the heat. This threatens to intensify a teen’s risks from those vapors.

Some new data even suggest that e-cig vapors may contain cancer-causing chemicals.

https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/concerns-explode-over-new-health-risks-vaping (emphasis added)

 

[I]t would be fallacious to conclude that because the chemicals in marijuana have been found to present fewer dangers than some very harmful substances, the medical or recreational use of marijuana is perfectly safe. In a recreational context, marijuana has been shown to affect health, brain function, and memory. And in a medical context, marijuana is like any other powerful prescription drug: it has potentially dangerous side effects, and the decision to use it to treat patients must involve the same balancing test as the one required for chemotherapy or AZT: do the therapeutic effects of the drug outweigh its harmful effects? Though there are many more studies to be done on this issue, current data shows that the answer to this question may not always be “yes.”

EFFECTS OF HABITUAL MARIJUANA USE ON THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

The most potent argument against the use of marijuana to treat medical disorders is that marijuana may cause the acceleration or aggravation of the very disorders it is being used to treat.

Smoking marijuana regularly (a joint a day) can damage the cells in the bronchial passages which protect the body against inhaled microorganisms and decrease the ability of the immune cells in the lungs to fight off fungi, bacteria, and tumor cells. For patients with already weakened immune systems, this means an increase in the possibility of dangerous pulmonary infections, including pneumonia, which often proves fatal in AIDS patients.

https://cyber.harvard.edu/evidence99/marijuana/Health_1.html (emphasis added)

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Dangers lurk around every corner.  That’s the reality of life, and we cannot insulate ourselves against every risk, known and unknown.  Examples  abound.

Authorities in Toledo, Ohio, have charged four boys with murder after a sandbag they allegedly dropped from an interstate overpass killed a passenger in a car.

https://www.ksat.com/news/national/boys-charged-with-murder-after-sandbag-thrown-from-overpass-kills-man

9. John Bowen, 1979.

Mistake number 1, attending a Jets football game at Shea Stadium. Mistake number 2, staying in his seat during the half-time show. In this case, the show was a demonstration of a remote control 40 pound flying lawn mower (we do not make this stuff up!) which was not under control after all, and struck the New Hampshire resident causing head injuries that he died of 4 days later. Should have gone to a Patriot’s game…

8. Humberto Hernandez, 2007.

Mr. Hernandez proved that walking is an unsafe form of transportation as he was walking on a sidewalk in Oakland when a car struck a fire hydrant, breaking it free. The water pressure sent the hydrant flying right into Humberto’s face, killing him.

7. Jon Desborough, 1999.

A gym teacher at Liverpool College, Jon was hustling out to retrieve a javelin stuck in the ground after a throw, tripped and fell into the (blunt) end of the javelin causing the shaft to penetrate his eye socket and skewer his brain, killing him.

https://www.historyandheadlines.com/10-fatal-freak-accidents/

However, just because risks exist, it doesn’t mean we throw caution to the wind and engage in every stupid idea and fad that comes along.  One of the stupidest fads these days is the condom-snorting nonsense we discussed recently.  Others include vaping, using e-cigarettes, and smoking pot.

Smoking sucks.  It doesn’t matter if you smoke cigarette, e-cigarette, or pot.  Smoking pumps chemicals into your body, ruins your gum and teeth, destroys your lungs, etc.  Wow, smart move, right?  Kids are foolish to copy others.  They think it makes them look cool.  It doesn’t.  It makes them look like monkeys and sheep who are unable to think for themselves and who are easily persuaded by marketers and others who have no love for them.

Be of strong character.  Never allow anyone to pressure you into doing something stupid or something bad that you don’t want to do — or pressure you out of doing something smart or something good that you want to do.  Be you, but be the best you.

As Catholics, we believe our bodies are God’s temple, where His Spirit resides.  But, even if you are no longer practicing Catholics — on the Sundays where you were with me, I took you to mass, but your mom did not on weeks when you were with her — remember that you have but ONE body to last you a lifetime.  Do you really want to destroy or weaken it with chemicals and unhealthy habits?

Take care of your body, and it will take care of you when you need it.

https://kerricox.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/outrun-the-bear.jpg?w=656

Exercise daily.  Go outside and get fresh air.

Be well.  Your brain and your health are your greatest assets.  Protect them at all costs.

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All my love, always,

Dad

5 years, 2 months, and 24 days. Monkeys see, monkeys do. Don’t be a monkey. Think for yourself.

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IN 2010 at a mate’s party, strapping 19-year-old rugby player Sam Ballard swallowed a garden slug as a dare.

A group of young friends was sitting around at a table drinking red wine when a slug was produced and one of them said: “Eat it, I dare you”.

Sam swallowed the slug.

Prior to this, Ballard’s mother Katie had thought her son as a “larrikin” but “invincible”, that nothing could ever happen to him.

She described him as “my rough-and-tumble Sam”.

But the teenager’s life was to take a devastating turn.

Sam, from Sydney’s north shore, fell ill and was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital where he was diagnosed as having been infected with rat lungworm.

The worm is found in rodents, but snails or slugs can become infected when they eat the faeces of rats with the parasite, known as Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

Sam Ballard was a cheeky ‘larrikin’ before the devastating effects of the infection from a garden slug.

Sam Ballard was a cheeky ‘larrikin’ before the devastating effects of the infection from a garden slug.Source:Supplied

Sam (above, with mother Katie) now needs 24/7 care and his family are in debt after the NDIS slashed funding.

Sam (above, with mother Katie) now needs 24/7 care and his family are in debt after the NDIS slashed funding.Source:News Corp Australia

While most people develop no symptoms, very rarely it causes an infection of the brain.

Sam contracted eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis, which many people recover from and which Sam initially seemed to be rallying.

But he then lapsed into a coma for 420 days and became a quadriplegic.

Sam’s mother maintained a positive attitude and in late November 2011, posted her hopes on Facebook that Sam would “walk and talk again” and still had the same cheeky attitude.

But as Katie Ballard would later say of her son’s life: “It’s devastated, changed his life forever, changed my life forever. It’s huge. The impact is huge.”….

Now aged 28, Sam suffers seizures and cannot control his body temperature, the Daily Telegraph reported.

He has to be tube fed.

Katie Ballard applied to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) when Sam became eligible for a $492,000 package in 2016.

But last September without warning, the NDIS texted Ms Ballard to say a review of his plan had slashed his allocation to around $135,000.

The massive funding cut was without explanation and around-the-clock care means the Ballard family are heavily in debt.

They owe a nursing service $42,000.

The NDIS told the Daily Telegraph it had been “working closely with the Ballard family” to find a resolution and increase Sam’s support package.

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/teenager-who-swallowed-garden-slug-as-a-dare-fights-government/news-story/7ada8f58d03de391055b13e9dade320d

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

For a country that prides itself on individualism and the power of the individual, we sure have a habit of blindly following trends and whatever happens to be hot and hip at the moment.  Sometimes, it scares me.  Actually, it scares me often.

For instance, the latest wave of idiocy has to do with condom-snorting.  Even the sound of that is disgusting.  Yet, numerous idiots and jackasses are doing it, and thinking it would make them popular.  Fools.  Even if you get 1,000 likes, will it add brain cells to make you smarter? add features to your face to make you more handsome? add minutes to your lives?  No!  In fact, given the dangers of this moronic trick, most likely, it will take minutes from your lives because it could cause you serious injuries and illnesses.

The party trick could cause you to choke on the spot. But it has other, potentially more long-term consequences, too.

Your nose is designed to be the body’s air filter, cleaning the air you take in before it lands in the lungs, and adding moisture to it along the way. It’s a delicate system that’s not designed to take in condoms.

In 2004, doctors in India documented a case of a 27-year-old woman who accidentally inhaled a condom through her nose, didn’t get it out, and wound up with a partially collapsed lung as a result. She spent six months with a fever and a cough before doctors finally surgically removed the condom.

http://www.businessinsider.com/condom-challenge-snorting-condom-long-term-damage-2018-4

Look, I get it that teenagers’ brains are not yet fully developed; thus, they cannot fully appreciate the risks they are taking.

Jensen is a Harvard expert on epilepsy, not adolescent brain development. As she coped with her boys’ sour moods and their exasperating assumption that somebody else will pick up their dirty clothes, she decided to investigate what neuroscientists are discovering about teenagers’ brains that makes them behave that way.

Teenage Brains Are Different

She learned that that it’s not so much what teens are thinking — it’s how.

Jensen says scientists used to think human brain development was pretty complete by age 10. Or as she puts it, that “a teenage brain is just an adult brain with fewer miles on it.”

But it’s not. To begin with, she says, a crucial part of the brain — the frontal lobes — are not fully connected. Really.

“It’s the part of the brain that says: ‘Is this a good idea? What is the consequence of this action?’ ” Jensen says. “It’s not that they don’t have a frontal lobe. And they can use it. But they’re going to access it more slowly.”

Think of it as insulation on an electrical wire. Nerves need myelin for nerve signals to flow freely. Spotty or thin myelin leads to inefficient communication between one part of the brain and another.

A Partially Connected Frontal Lobe

Jensen thinks this explains what was going on inside the brain of her younger son, Will, when he turned 16. Like Andrew, he’d been a good student, a straight arrow, with good grades and high SAT scores. But one morning on the way to school, he turned left in front of an oncoming vehicle. He and the other driver were OK, but there was serious damage to the car.

“It was, uh, totaled,” Will says. “Down and out. And it was about 10 minutes before morning assembly. So most of the school passed by my wrecked car with me standing next to it.”

“And lo and behold,” his mother adds, “who was the other driver? It was a 21-year-old — also probably not with a completely connected frontal lobe.” Recent studies show that neural insulation isn’t complete until the mid-20s.

This also may explain why teenagers often seem so maddeningly self-centered. “You think of them as these surly, rude, selfish people,” Jensen says. “Well, actually, that’s the developmental stage they’re at. They aren’t yet at that place where they’re thinking about — or capable, necessarily, of thinking about the effects of their behavior on other people. That requires insight.”

And insight requires — that’s right — a fully connected frontal lobe.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124119468

While science may explain why kids act stupid, through the millennia, society has found ways to off-set this temporary deficiency.  We provide supervision and guidance to help teens through this phase so that they would survive intact.  Teenagers in America today have fewer boundaries and more freedoms of expressions.  Unfortunately, this greater freedom also imposes greater responsibilities … which kids may not be able to handle.

Thus, listen up, boys: don’t do stupid stuff for the sake of popularity, ok?  Just don’t.  It’s not cool when the party trick failed spectacularly and you end up being injured for life.  Where will your party buddies be then?  Ask Sam Ballard.

My sons, use your head.  Stick to the good hygiene I taught you when we were together.  Brush and floss twice daily.  Wash your hands and mouth before and after meals.  Don’t snort condoms.  Don’t swallow Tide pods  — it’s poisonous, and “can cause seizures, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma and even death,” https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2018/02/08/procter-gamble-tide-pods-detergent/320229002/.  Don’t do anything you know I’d tell you not to do if I were there.

Stay well.  Stay alive until I get back to you.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

5 years, 2 months, and 20 days. Be true to you and worry not about others.

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Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
— ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I apologize for the long silence.  It has simply been a very difficult spell.

Other than you boys, what I miss most of our home is the small community in which we lived. For the most part, our neighbors were well-educated and well-mannered.  I have had the fortune of reaching a level of professional success which enabled us to live far from the ghettos and the accompanying filthy environment and vices. Being refugees now, we are no longer as fortunate.  (A friend, who was a judge on the appeal panel for refugee and immigration determination, advised us that what happened to us qualified us as refugees under international law.)

Today, I simply want to touch on two things. The first, I think, is the most important.  As per Abraham Lincoln and others, it is

[b]etter to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

Many forget this lesson and speak of things about which they know little or nothing.  By doing so, they prove themselves fools and erase all doubts that may have been accorded them before they opened their mouths.

Be disciplined.  Avoid saying things that cannot be validated with documentary or testimonial evidence.  This strategy ensures you do not overspeak and protects your reputation.

Furthermore, be given to action rather than words.  It is better to do and show people what you can do than to tell them about how great you are … unless you are pitching to a potential client and telling him/her what you can do for his/her company.  Even then, the successes of your past projects speak louder than any words you may use in your pitch.

My second lessons to you, my sons, is to choose your battles wisely.  Let not anyone and everyone provoke you.  The world is full of ankle-biters who can never reach the heights for which you are destined; thus, they take to nipping at your ankles to annoy.  Ignore them.  Use your God-given talents to make positive changes in the world.  You will have to account for your talents when you meet your Maker.  Let the others account for the talents with which God entrusted them.  If they failed to live up to His expectations, that’s a problem between them and God, not you.

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Focus on doing your best and being your best.  Don’t worry about what “others” may think.  Why should you give them such power?

Regardless of whether others are showering you with praise or vitriol, would your believing in those praises or vitriols add minutes to your life? brain cells to your head? beauty to your face? dollars to your bank accounts?  No.  Either way, thank them for their input, put it aside, then refocus on doing your best and being your best.

Remember the wise words of Teacher Mary, Shosh: you have control only over yourself and not others.  Thus, don’t worry about others, don’t take ownership of the foolishness of others, don’t let others live your life, etc.

All my love, always, my sons,

Dad