I have always found dreams to be extremely interesting. To many people, dreams are just outlandish stories that our minds make up while we sleep, but dreams are much more than the nonsensical ramblings of a dormant mind. I have always wondered if dreams are happening in slow motion, or if dreams give us the ability to somehow tell the future. I figure we maintain some sort of conscious connection to the outside world while we sleep, because there are some dreams that include events that occur concurrently with external stimuli that have a direct effect on the dream. If you have ever had a dream in which you found yourself falling or sky diving, often times you end up waking up during an actual fall from bed, only to find yourself confused and possibly a little frightened. I know everybody has not had one of these falling dreams, but for those who have, it can be quite strange and interesting. It calls to question whether you started to dream as you were falling this short distance, or if the fall was because of the dream, either way, the dream was interacting with what was happening in the conscious world. I would love to believe that dreams can give us super sensory abilities, but unfortunately I simply don’t find that possible. My best explanation and guess for what is happening during dreams is that our minds are acting very quickly, and due to the quick change from being sleeping to being awake, we have a momentary delay between the dream world and reality. Perhaps we aren’t falling in real life, but just reliving the memory of a fall as we wake from a falling dream. I would love to be able to run tests on my ideas of the dreams connection to the actions of the body, but unfortunately I don’t have the funds or equipment for such a venture. I will just have to keep my wild ideas about dreams in my sleep where they belong, until somebody decides to fund my research.
Today, I had an interview with a growing startup company in New York, and since this was not my first interview with a startup, I was able to noticed great similarities in how these companies operate. Everyone is aware of the Internet beast that is Google, and how they treat their employees, but many are unaware of just how many companies try to emulate the “culture” of Google. In a startup company, culture is everything, and that basically starts with who you are. These companies are looking to hire people who they can be friends with outside of work, as well as people who will work well with the team. Aside from culture, history is a big part of getting to know a startup, the employees of these companies have usually grown within the company and watched the company grow. Whenever I asked an interviewer about their time with the company and its changes, they seemed to answer the question with the same vigor and affection one would use when describing their childhood puppy. It is easy to see that the employees of these companies love where they work, and they are intent on making sure everyone who walks into those doors will fit into the family that they have become. I am confident that I did well in the interview, but for those who may have an upcoming interview with a startup, I will leave a few nuggets of advice. The first thing needed to ace an interview is to do your research, this should be a given with any interview, but delve a bit deeper with startup research. The HR managers are looking for someone who fits, and is capable of loving the company as much as they do, so the new hire should at least care enough to check out the company blog. The next bit of advice goes along with researching the company, and it can go a long way in your ability to nail the job, that is to know how to dress for the interview. The best advice I can give is to ask the recruiter or hiring contact what you should wear, there is really no shame in doing so, and you will usually be told to go with a corporate casual or casual look. I understand that common procedure dictates wearing a nice suit or business attire, but many managers may give negative marks for not knowing the culture of the company, purely based on clothing. The best and final advice I can give anyone applying for a startup job is to be yourself. As long as you are genuine and excited to be part of what a company is building, they will generally be glad to allow you to join their work family.
Tumbleweeds are more interesting than they are generally portrayed. If you have ever watched an old western, a cartoon, or even read a picture book as a child, you might have noticed that tumble weeds often show up in boring or dull situations. The plants are usually shown to amplify the lack of action or excitement in any given situation. I have never really wondered much about tumbleweeds since they were always just part of the scenery, but these rolling balls of crabgrass are actually in a sense the fruit of a plant. Tumbleweeds are a part of a plant that breaks off at the stem, and rolls about with some help from the wind. These rolling weeds spread about seeds or spores in order to propagate its species over a large area. Tumbleweeds are interesting because of the fact that, unlike many other plants, they are a group that is quite active in its reproduction process. Tumbleweeds aren’t the only plants that use wind to aid their reproduction, but the way spread over vast regions with their rolling methods, is an ingenious way to stretch the usefulness of a gust. Tumbleweeds are probably not the most interesting types of plants, but they are certainly not as boring as they are regularly shown to be. As a child, I always thought a tumbleweed was just a big useless ball of dirt and grass rolling in the desert, I now know that, while they may not be much, they are still useful, and very important to the life of a plant.
Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.
– William Faulkner
One of the most important aspects of writing or mastering any skill, is to study the works of those who have already gone before you. If you want to be a great film maker, then you need to immerse yourself into film, so you can become a walking encyclopedia on the topic. Many people these days want to reach success all on their own, they feel as though they have to rely fully on their own talents and make their own mistakes, while forgetting they have the entire history of mistakes made by mankind at their disposal. In this quote Faulkner is basically saying study everything available in order to hone your craft, you should even be able to use terrible works in your pursuit for perfection, as they can only help you recognize what is actually worth while. This quote should be a motto to anybody who wants to succeed, you can not build anything without a plan, and an example can only strengthen the final product.
Yesterday I was having a little debate with a friend about the role physicality plays in attraction with men and women. My friend was firmly in the camp that men are always physically motivated when searching for a mate, while women are exclusively emotionally motivated. Before I get into my rebuttal to that claim, I must state that this friend of mine is also a male, so I was somewhat shocked that he wouldn’t give his own kind the benefit of the doubt. I understand that throughout history men have been seen as only motivated by what they see, but as times have changed I have to argue that women are almost just as physically motivated as men when it comes to looking for a partner or mate. I have several female friends who have openly mused about the height and appearance of their optimal mate, and while that may not be as sexual in nature as what men dream about, I feel it is just as relevant to the argument that women care about what they see. There is a common phrase that states “sex sells,” and while I understand that many commercials and movies geared towards men prod at that factor of the male psyche, women are also the target of many sexually based advertisements. For every hooters commercial geared towards men, we have a superhero movie in which the male protagonist is inexplicably shown partially nude. The fact of the matter is that human beings, as a whole, are drawn to things and people based on what they see. With the advent of gender equality it is no shock that many women are just as open to express their sexuality as men have seemingly always been, and I feel as though that point on its own makes my argument. Both men and women are largely driven by sight, and while many may believe that women are solely drive by emotion, I think they are somewhat misinformed and their data is completely outdated.
I told a couple of friends that I was looking to lose a bit of weight in a short time and they all recommended the Atkins diet. I decided to start the Atkins diet, and it is much harder than I expected. Atkins is a low carb diet that basically eliminates 90% of my average diet, as I have stopped eating bread, cereal, potatoes, and every tasty snack known to man. The function of the Atkins diet is to lose weight at a rapid pace, and if an individual is healthy enough to maintain the stress on their body, this is one of the best ways to trim down quickly. The diet works by depriving the body of carbs, and forcing it to search for a new energy source, the body then turns to using fat as energy. During the first couple of days on this diet I found myself extremely tired, I really don’t enjoy the feeling, since I am not one who is a fan of lethargy, but I have since found different foods that I can use to boost my energy. I don’t expect to see instant results but this is a diet that is difficult to adhere to, so I hope I notice something eventually. I haven’t been on this diet long, but I really wouldn’t recommend it, I have been told that the first few days are the hardest, but I can’t see how anyone with an active lifestyle can be content with the lack of energy. A positive takeaway I have from going on this diet is the fact that my cooking ability has increased immensely, the lack of bread in my diet has shown me just how much I rely on it for sustenance. I will continue to give Atkins a try, but if it starts to adversely affect my daily life, I will have to stop and just modify my workout schedule.
There has been quite a bit of talk lately about standardized testing in the school systems, it seems as though almost every other commercial during the news is a political ad bashing standardized tests. Many of these commercials involve parents sitting in meeting room, speaking about how their child is stressed, or about how these tests are taking up a disproportionate amount of time that could be allotted to learning more important things. One of these commercials truly struck me, it involved a father speaking about how his first grader came home drained and depressed from the amount of learning he had to “endure” in school, all due to these tests. That commercial is extremely upsetting to me, not because the child was “drained” from school, but the fact that learning too much at school is considered a bad thing. Maybe it’s just me, or due to my upbringing, but I was always taught to treat school as my job, and I did my best to learn and excel at everything I was taught. If something at school was too hard, I asked my parents for help or did extra research, but I can honestly say I was never so heavily burdened by the amount of work given at school that I felt like quitting. I understand that everybody learns at a different pace, and I feel as though schools are doing their best to work with everyone, but this commercial made it seem as though this child was just going to school for fun, then he happened to be blindsided by the necessity of learning. As for standardized testing, I don’t agree that it should be used to grade teachers, I think it should be used as a benchmark for student growth. Students should be required to take a test at the start and at the midpoint of each year to assess their growth, and teachers should be rated on the overall growth of their students, as well as individual grades. The United States is already falling behind other countries when it comes to math, science, and even reading, so I find it hard to believe that lightening the workload will help us catch up. I am not fully sure of what will come out of these standardized testing debates, but one thing I do know is that the actual learning aspect of school must stay the most important, in order for the United States to stay intellectually relevant in this ever changing world.
I am a huge fan of exotic plants, especially carnivorous ones. There is just something intriguing about how an organism that is at the bottom of almost every food chain can still be a predator. Plants in general are known to thrive on water and sunlight. Most animals that are eaten, eat plants or seeds, so being a plant is quite a disadvantage, but carnivorous plants such as the Venus Flytrap and the Pitcher Plant, have adapted in such a way that they can no longer be considered the bottom of the totem pole. Carnivorous plants grow in soil that is lacking in nutrition since they generally get most of their nutrition from the bugs and animals that they eat. These plants use the major weakness of their prey, a desire to find sustenance, to devour them. It is an awesome sight to see, when the Venus Flytrap closes on its prey and begins the process of digestion, I was so enamored with these plants that I actually purchased a few just so I could observe them more closely. These remarkable carnivorous plants grow in wetlands and bogs of the United States, and around the world, so if you are interested in seeing one in person, check out your nearest park or nature preserve.
I was having a discussion with a few friends today, and I came to the realization that I no longer enjoy naps. When I was growing up, my enjoyment of napping came in waves, as a child I took a nap because I was told, as a college student I enjoyed taking naps because I was quite active during the day, but at this age I just feel like I am wasting time when I nap. The way I look at napping today is as a way to lose time in the day, when I take a nap I end up with insomnia and generally less productive for the day. Whenever I am tired enough to take a nap, I end up groggy, a bit disoriented, and completely unable to finish my set tasks for the day. Maybe the length of my naps is the problem, but I can’t seem to enjoy them much at all. When I think about it, I can honestly say I haven’t taken a nap in the past couple of years without being sick. I always wondered why napping is actually an activity that many people enjoy, so I looked into it and learned of the many benefits the short midday sleep has on the body. Studies have shown that napping 18 – 20 min a day can increase cognitive ability and even have positive effects on the heart over several years. I really don’t like losing time in my day, and I am not sure where I will find the time to take 20 minute naps everyday for the next few years, but I will attempt to take a short nap each day this week in order to see if I can gain any of these positive effects and possible a more positive view on the subject.
Spring is just around the corner and I can just feel the happiness in the air. One of the major things I love about living in New York City is how much the city changes during the different seasons, and due to the changes in seasons I regularly find myself longing to do activities I don’t even like, just to escape from the current weather. During the cold of winter, I start dreaming of being able to enjoy the beach again, yet I don’t really like the beach at all. I don’t hate the beach but I just really hate the feeling of sand on my feet so I tend to stay away, cold weather makes the beach seem way more enjoyable than it actually is to me. The same thing happens with hot weather, when it is too hot I can’t wait for the first snowfall, I almost dream for snow until I am knee deep in it, sorrowfully shoveling and clearing it off of my car. It is said that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and changes in weather show just how true that phrase is. I am almost envious of individuals who get to live in one type of climate all year, but they too have to deal with the weather woes of their region. To be completely honest there is only one type of weather I would be able to live with all year round and that is the cool autumn temperatures, but if I can’t have that I would gladly continue to live with the seasonal northeast weather. I look forward to an enjoyable three months of spring, I will gladly deal with the occasional storms as I await the blistering heat of summer.