Category: Humor

AgingalumniCarroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious David

Can my old brain be (re)trained?

There are buildings on campus whose cornerstone bears a date before my birth. My father-in-law walked in some of these very buildings in 1936. Voorhees Hall was a women’s dorm when Walt walked this campus.

So many memories. Some converge; some change. Some researchers argue that memories change every time that they are retrieved.

With age comes my increased interest in the inevitable aging process. At one time or another I have written over 80 blog pieces (or drafts) about relationships between aging and memory.

Here are a few: (Clicking on all the links in each and viewing their contents might be a valuable brain fitness exercise!):)

  1. Thanks for the memories!
  2. I’m not sure that you will remember me but…
  3. Brain fitness training (Part 1)
  4. Brain fitness training (Part 2)

After consulting with my four student research assistants, I’ve decided to focus my Fall semester research seminar on the topic of “brain fitness”—fact and fad.  I am particularly intrigued by the promises of the program “BrainHQ.” Time to don my skeptical thinking cap:

 

BlinkistCurious DavidHumormyth of multi-tasking

Professor Hypocrite: Heal Thyself:)

dscn0048

Hhhh. There is some merit in the arguments made in that book I “read” on Blinkist. I think that I’d better view, review, read, and heed the following science-based advice about the myths of multitasking.

Carroll University USACurious DavidcurmudgeonHumorSelf-help

Resolving Pet Peeves: Life is Short

 

dscn4774It so easy to allow pet peeves to distract one and to engender a foul mood. Let’s see if I can exorcise them by listing some recent annoyances and thinking through a resolution while I proctor an exam.

  1. Leo the Great (pictured above) barks incessantly whenever I give Siri a command or use the dictation mode of my computers. This is also a nuisance when I proofread out loud. Solutions: Remove the dog (though he can at times be so angelic); don’t dictate; accustom him to my talking to myself:)p1080672
  2. Faculty colleagues who teach (loudly) with their classroom door open. Solutions: Close my door; close their door; put on sound reduction headphones
  3. Individuals who don’t differentiate between the reply and the reply all command. Solution: Send them a gentle correction: “Did you realize that you shared that slanderous reply with the entire campus community?”:)
  4. Bombardment by Bombastic Buzzwords (I’ve twice ranted to my one reader in the blogosphere about this peeve: here and here.). Solution: Think of the buzzwords as a specialized language unique to that marketing/corporate culture; update the buzzword bingo software; create a buzzword translator.
  5. Hmmm. Maybe I need just to lighten up or to consult Alex Blackwell’s eight step approach to dealing with pet peeves found here. Or at least to contextualize the irritation like this.

Or unwinding by playing in a pile of leaves.dscn4611Or listening to a beautiful piano recital.dscn4779Or snuggling up with some grand-nieces and grand-nephews.Version 2

dscn4694

Life is far too short to allow pet peeves to bother one disproportionately. Or as my dictation software once jabbered,”Hours longer we to bury was.” See the translation here:

 

 

 

Curious DavidHumor

Protected: Six Who Pass While the Lentils Boil—Revisited

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Decluttering Revisited


I seem to return to certain topics—like reducing virtual desk top clutter. I am once again in the process of reviewing “applications”—I’ve installed (first on my Mac, then on my Ipads, then on my PC’s).I read a thoughtful piece in the New York Times this morning suggesting that the urge to declutter or the perceptions of succeeding in the task may be misguided.And I just ordered a copy of a revised Stephen Covey book to assist in my reordering my priorities.

I have a goal of reducing the 37-years of accumulated office clutter by pulling together all the institutional research have done the past 37 years (thank you former research assistants) and combining it with present data collection processes. however, I am amused and annoyed to discover how technology sometimes makes data acquisition more difficult.

Right now two of my student research assistants are helping me pull together a blog piece dedicated to the Carroll alumni I have known as students across the past 37 years. Take a peak at a work in progress.

Let me know if you’d like a picture of you from year’s gone by. I’ll trade you for one of me OR of you today.

 

Carroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious DavidHumor

I’ve Been Thinking About Bagpipes Lately

 

A wonderful tradition on my campus both on the first day before classes and again at graduation is to have a group of kilted bagpipers majestically lead the students ion to campus. I wonder if my school would like to involve a different bagpiper to campus. He would provide a cross-cultural experience, be energizing, engaging, and quite memorable.

 

Carroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACommencementCurious DavidGraduation

Dear 2014 Carroll University Graduate…

My thoughts may be even fuzzier this Saturday morning as I sit here in my office—a little over 24 hours before your Commencement Day. I have just returned from a three hour meeting in my role of Faculty Observer at a Board of Trustees Meeting, and I was most impressed by the poise, courage, compassion, and intelligence of the remarks made by your Student Senate President. Now is a good time to gather together some last thoughts about and for you. Tomorrow will be a joyful and tearful day as relationships change. Because of my age seniority good looks  length of time at Carroll and rank of Full Professor, I march at the front of the line both at Baccalaurete (behind Dean Byler) and Commencement (following Faculty Marshall Pamela Pinahs-Schultz). That gives me an ideal seating position for seeing and hearing those of you in choir, but forces me to be on my best behavior (awake, disconnected from my Ipad, resisting wearing my Brewers’ or Carroll College hats). For those of you I have met, I have done my best to teach you well but I am only human. Every student I teach is different, special, and teaches me.  You have enriched my life and I welcome the opportunity as you become alumni to continue and perhaps to even expand upon our relationships. Thanks for the lessons. Many people (family, staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees)  have worked very hard, in addition to you, to try and provide you with the best education that Carroll can provide both within and outside of the classroom. I often think that we ought to set aside a time for recognizing those unsung “guardian angels” who have done their best to make Carroll a caring community and a better place.  As time and circumstances allow join them in giving back (without expectation of receiving “conovocation points”) your time, wisdom, networking resources, prospective student recommendations, and examples of skills or values developed here at Carroll that serve you well.  Give Carroll its due credit when it has earned it, but also offer constructive criticism when the institution has failed to meet your expectations for it. Seek out opportunities to do “a” right thing. Use your mind to think carefully and critically but don’t forget that there are indeed many times when it is appropriate to follow one’s heart. I envy your youth and the many opportunities that lie ahead to share your talents and to make the world a better place. Stay in touch. Oh, yes… Here is a final exam. With many fond memories, David Simpson, Professor of Psychology


Carroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious DavidHigher EducationHumor

What ELSE a professor does: On Being a Person of “Letters”

What does a professor DO? My answer to this question changes as a function of when you ask me—at different times of the academic year and developmentally at different times in my professional career.  I began to address this question in my first blog for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in October of 2007 when I was trying to explain to my father that a professor does more than sit in his office and read books (what a heavenly thought though). At that time I had the pleasure of being one of their online educational community columnists for a year.

One of the major demands on my academic life over and above teaching six classes per year, serving on committees,engaging in scholarly activity, academic advising, and mundane organizational responsibilities is writing letters of recommendation—an important task which consumes increasing larger amounts of my time. Having been a faculty member at Carroll for more than thirty-five years, I have gotten to know and be known by an increasingly larger number of students, staff, faculty, and alumni. I receive an unusually large number of requests from former students who graduated a number of years ago and who now are changing life directions (I truly welcome hearing from you—not only when you need something from me:)). The venue of these requests has changed from being asked in person and (in advance) to materials being placed under my office door, email, social media, telephone calls, Face Book messages, email forms from graduate programs–and occasionally via owl! I must admit I like staying in touch with former students, and the ways I keep connected with them have multiplied with the of use of email and the increased use of social networking tools such as Face Book  and Linkedin and David-in-Carroll-land.

There are temptations to streamline, to cut corners, become more efficient, achieve that elusive goal of an empty email box. I conservatively estimate that I was called upon to write 5-6 letters for at least 75 individuals this past year. Easy solutions which come to mind (some of which I have experimented with) include using a template or form letter, using a rating scale or check list, keeping the letter short, limiting the number of letters written per student, being very selective about for whom I write (—or just saying NO), limiting the amount of time written per letter, limiting the format to twitter restrictions of 140 characters, using a haiku format, and/or teaching students ways that they can make my letter-writing easier. Alas, I wish that I were able to follow my own advice!

There exists quite a literature of the art (how does one write convincing letter?) and science (how valid and reliable are they?) of writing letters of recommendations. One of my favorites that I return to time and again immortalizes some ambiguous phrasing I strive to avoid—but am often tempted to use.

Time to go to a meeting of the Board of Trustees in my capacity as a Faculty Oberver to the Board. This will probably be the last time I serve in this interesting capacity at Carroll. I’ve enjoyed getting to know and be known by these dedicated people.

Hope I can stay alert; it was quite late when we returned from the Brewers/ Yankees game at 1:00 a.m! Maybe I’ll plug into this song on my headphone.

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Canine Ruminations: Robin the Newf Helps Me Write a Blog Post

Robin

Robin the Newf is a guest collaborator tonight. Because of her presence (at my feet) I’ve been ruminating tonight about canine companions. My father-in-law, Walter G. Schmidt,  also loved dogs. In fact his love of dogs was extolled in his eulogy given by the Reverend Charles Valenti-Heine:

…”And that world, for Walter, included his beloved Canines. Lucy, Canis, Oaf, Chaucer, Trollope, and Freud, the last named because Walter was told that the companionship of a good dog was of greater worth to people than any other therapy! The one time I remember Walter speaking in church was when Trollope died, and he stood up during joys and concerns to opine: ‘If there is a place in heaven for Presbyterians, then surely there is a place for greyhounds.’

To which I add, amen!

Rudyard Kipling warned us of how dogs can capture your heart!

Do dogs match their owners in physical appearance? in personality? There is an interesting body of research dealing with these questions. Here is one citation. Here is another entire  article (Download Roy). Under what circumstances does pet ownership reduce stress? increase it? Why in the world did I spend $250 tonight on pet treats? Perhaps I still am affected by my first reading of Argos‘ blind enduring faith. Robin, the patient gentle giant, knows.

These might be questions to give my Introductory Psychology students to encourage them to conduct a scholarly literature review.  Perhaps in the process I’ll teach them about EvernoteDiigoDelicious,  Zotero, and  Google Scholar and have them help me compare the strengths and weaknesses of these tools in addition to comparing the kinds (and quality) of answers they get using Internet search engines versus library data bases.

Here is some anecdotal evidence provided by one of my playful students that owners like me (though there is a debate between Robin and me as to who is the owner) may start looking like their dogs!

Newfed

 Trivia question from Robin:

What was the name of the Newf who accompanied Lewis and Clark?

Answer is here if you fail to find out—and even if you do.

 



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An APP a day… Give me an “A”!

Today I explored the Apps on my Mac that begin with the letter  “A.”One of my favorite (but underused) apps( that I am glad I use since the advent of Heartbleed ) is 1Password. It allows me to quickly and securely access my myriad accounts and quickly find things, like this Animoto video of a year ago that I had forgotten I had made to celebrate the wonderful creative work of some of my students.

Another app I take for granted (behind the scenes but there when I need it)  is Adobe Reader. But do I really need AlarmClock Pro any more?—Perhaps, if I remembered that it has a time-zone converter and an uptime recorder that can embarrass me with a record of how long I’ve been sitting at my machine!

“How many different music players do I need,” I ask myself as I rediscover my AmazonCloudPlayer? How many flashcard makers are necessary (which one best suits my needs or those of my students) as I find Anki again, untouched, and with a new version:). And, heaven forbid,  there is always the temptation to visit the MAC App store especially since it is built into the Mac Mavericks Operating System.

I REALLY should learn how to use AUTOMATOR and its distant cousin, TextExpander—and their incredible capabilities for improving the efficiencies of my work flow and my commenting on student papers. To achieve that mastery I most likely shall first seek out the sage guidance of David Sparks and his incredibly well-written books, ebooks, and screencasts. Hmm, I see that he uses Vimeo for his screencasts. I’ll have to revisit it when I get to my “V'”‘s.How about—oh, the audacity of suggesting it, Audacity? I have several times attempted to master it because of an interest in creating podcasts and wanting to support open source software endeavors, but alas, because it just crashed my machine, it has been banished to the trash. Besides, if i ever reach the “W’s” among my apps, I suspect that “Wiretap Studio” will serve the same function—and better.

Enough, even though I hear the buzz of “B’s.”