Daily Duolingo Sessions

My streak as of March 17, 2022

As of today, April 12th, I have completed a 567 day streak on Duolingo, and I have every intention of continuing my daily language practice on the user friendly app. I began this streak with Japanese and Spanish as my daily languages, and added Portuguese at the beginning of March because I want to have some familiarity with the language when I visit Portugal in May. Duolingo is an excellent app for brushing up on languages or even learning a new one, and Duolingo Plus is only $84 per year. For that price, you can practice as many languages as you’d like.

I have practiced a bunch of languages, besides the ones I mentioned previously, on Duolingo over the past several years (French, German, Hungarian, Latin, Italian, and Hawaiian), and I love the fact that I can jump back into practicing any of those languages if I’d like. Though I took French and Latin in high school, I am rusty in those languages, and I only know a small amount of Hungarian, German, Italian, and Hawaiian. It is important for me to polish my Spanish speaking and reading skills constantly, not only because I was immersed in it when I would visit my dad and his children from his second marriage, but also because I don’t want to lose the skills I learned from Spanish classes I took throughout grade school, high school and college. I also feel a responsibility to learn as much Japanese as I can, since I am half Japanese, took Japanese in college, and intend to visit Japan again in the future.

Duolingo truly is a fantastic way to learn any language which is in their system. I highly recommend it!

Ten Words You Need To Stop Misspelling

https://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling

https://theoatmeal.com/

Check out Matthew Inman’s amusing blog post which covers ten words he believes people should stop misspelling. I must say that I agree wholeheartedly with Matt regarding the issue of misspelled words. For those who are interested, you can even purchase a poster of the blog post, which could serve as a not-so-subtle reminder to those afflicted with spelling and grammar faults to pay attention.

Why I Hate The Phrase, “It Is What It Is”

“It is what it is.’

I cannot understand why this phrase has become so popular, because it is incredibly stupid and redundant. I cringe every single time I hear someone utter it, and am dismayed by the number of people I know who have adopted this into their current communication behaviors. Why has it suddenly become so trendy to state the obvious in this manner? I can’t help but think that everyone who utters this string of words either hasn’t given much thought to the circular reasoning buried in it, or has developed a pathological and resigned attitude towards life in which circumstances are shrugged off. Come on guys, take a little responsibility, would you?

Copyright: rnl

If we look at res ipsa loquitur logic, this legal term indicates that someone is presumed to be negligent if that individual had control over what caused the injury. But since I took two years of Latin in high school, I am more intrigued by the original semantics and logic of this particular phrase. If we apply this idea of negligence to the statement, “it is what it is”, does that mean that people are blaming fate, or the lockdown, for the unraveling of society which has occurred in the past year and a half, or are they simply resigning themselves to fate when they utter that? All I know is that I have heard it far too often since spring of last year, and it is raising my ire.

I truly enjoy and appreciate what Ethan Ryan from The Fiddleback has to say about this idiotic statement:

“It is what it is” is a waste of words, a waste of breath. I mean, sure, I get it. It expresses the same sentiment as the French “C’est la vie!” But still, it irks me. It’s just a repetitive series of defeatist monosyllables. Why not just say “It is,” or for that matter, “It’s”?

Of course it is what it is! How could it be anything but it?

The only context in which that phrase would be appropriate would be if somebody asked “Is it what it is?” and you said, “Yes, it is what it is.” Presumably you’d have this conversation in an assisted living home with a demented loved one attempting to categorize an ice cream cone.

When you write “It is what it is” as a mathematical algorithm it looks like this:

it = it

In logic, this is called the law of identity, which states that an object is the same as itself. “A is A” is a tautology. Here are some more:

1 = 1

pineapple = pineapple

J = J

☺ = ☺

poop = poop

X = X

Those are analytical facts, verified by their consistency within the rules of a symbol system. But they’re also stupid and irrelevant. They’re true under all possible circumstances, and they demand little of the world for their truth. You don’t need evidence to back up the claim “Poop is what poop is.”

Here’s another tautology:

Formula_Ryan

Seems logical, right? I don’t know, I’m not a logician.

What concerns me are rhetorical tautologies such as:

“I am what I am.” ~ God talking to Moses

“I yam what I yam.” ~ Popeye talking to Olive Oyl

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” ~ Gertrude Stein

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course.” ~ the Mr. Ed theme song

“It is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is.” ~ this essay

It is it. A is A. But redundancies are redundant, aren’t they? Be succinct. Next time your umbrella breaks, or your toilet gets clogged, or your house burns down, just shrug and say “It’s.”

That’s obnoxious advice, I know. Defeatism gets us nowhere. Life is hard, but that’s no excuse to spout meaningless clichés. There are so many fantastic adjectives and nouns and verbs out there, humming in a deep pocket of your brain. Use your words. Don’t just say “It is what it is.” We already know that.

Wittgenstein said philosophy is the headache you get from banging your head up against the limits of language. When I came across that line I decided I was done studying philosophy. Years later, my head is still hurting. Philosophy is dangerous.

Whatever.

It’s.

——–
Ethan Ryan

Why Some People Ghost

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 52651500
Copyright : Nebojsa Markovic

 

Has someone ever just completely disappeared from your life, without any explanation?  It is an incredibly confounding experience, and has occurred more than once for me.  What blows my mind is that older adults, people in their forties and fifties, have exhibited this bizarre and rude behavior in recent years, so the phenomenon of “ghosting” cannot be pegged as a young person’s habit.

I honestly think that when a person ghosts anyone for reasons such as, they’re not feeling the same way about the other person (usually a dating scenario), or they have become bored with someone, the act of ghosting is truly a sign of immaturity and lack of emotional availability, which means that the ghostee is actually lucky to be cut loose.  However, when someone completely disappears without an explanation, whether it’s a dating situation, a more serious relationship, or a friendship, the person being ghosted often grapples with extreme mental anguish because there is no closure.

Even if the explanation for the person’s ghosting on another might be painful to hear, I bet most individuals would prefer to hear that explanation instead of scratching their heads in bewilderment, thinking, what in the world HAPPENED? I completely understand that feelings can change, but I also was raised to believe that you should offer a reason why you no longer wish to talk to or associate with someone.  If you don’t respond to texts, etc., and the ghostee can clearly see that you are doing fine, you are basically indicating to that person that they aren’t even worthy of any bit of respect. And while there are situations in which the ghostee might have done something egregiously wrong, in most situations, the person doing the ghosting is merely fickle, disrespectful, and narcissistic.  That’s been my observation in every situation in which I have been ghosted.

What are your thoughts on being ghosted?  If you have ghosted someone in the past, why did you choose to ghost someone instead of providing a reason why you wanted to discontinue communication?

 

 

 

A Great TED Talk On Clutter

“Clutter is postponed decisions.” – Barbara Hemphill

I absolutely love this brilliant quote by Barbara Hemphill which Kerry Thomas mentions in this TED Talk video, because it is completely true. No matter what type of clutter plagues you, it may be impeding you in a profound way from living a free and peaceful life.

I hate physical clutter and fight it all the time by conducting purges throughout the year. But physical clutter is only one type of clutter, and Ms. Thomas breaks down the different types into the following:

Physical
Mental
Emotional
Digital
Spiritual

Although I feel that I have a good handle on physical clutter in my environment, the other categories are more challenging. I control digital clutter by going through my email inboxes on a daily basis, consolidating images and deleting old text messages on my phone. I also think I have a decent handle on spiritual clutter because I meditate daily, take meditation and yoga courses, and also practice breathwork. I try to forgive those who upset me, and I also make sure to avoid toxic people.

The areas where I get hung up (and I suspect many others do) is with mental and emotional clutter. Ms. Thomas states that mental clutter consists of fears one might have, and it also could stem from the judgmental words of others, while emotional clutter consists of negative thoughts and behaviors. The thing is, I have fears which keep my mind racing, and I also fall into the trap of negative thinking from time to time, especially when I am in the middle of a crisis. So by no means am I completely free of clutter. However, I constantly strive to clear up anything which is depressing me or slowing me down.

It’s incredibly liberating to get rid of items which are damaged, unused, or worn, and it’s also wonderful to let go of all the mental blockades to happiness and freedom. One thing I always try to remind myself is that worrying about things will never bring about a solution. The only thing worry ends up doing is eroding one’s demeanor and sparking anxiety.

I suggest that you think about the different areas in which clutter might be adversely affecting your life, and adopt behaviors which counteract such clutter.

Are There Really 52 Genders?

Back in the day, the topic of gender boiled down to biology, defined by one’s sex chromosomes. XX, and you were female, XY, and you were male. Chromosomal disorders such as XO,XXX, XXXX, XXXXX resulted in individuals who possessed female genitalia, while XXY, XXXY, XY/XXY, XYY aberrations resulted in the expression of male genitalia. True hermaphroditism (1), in which both female and male genitals or a hybrid of them exist, is exceedingly rare, so much so that there has never really been a pressing need for a third gender box.

In recent years, however, there has been so much debate and confusion regarding gender versus sexual orientation and identity, that surveys are jumping on the bandwagon to appease to this new crop of outspoken individuals. Biology has abruptly taken a backseat to sexual identity, with all its permutations and definitions. And don’t you dare try to argue biology with the new sexual order, either.

Call me old school, but if we are talking about biology, then there are MALES and FEMALES. For the purposes of the general human population, such genetic definitions accommodate the vast majority of individuals. So if a questionnaire or survey asks someone to check off a GENDER box, it shouldn’t be an insult to a person to mark one of those two boxes. Yet the new millennial order has eschewed biology, turning the query into a chance to declare specific social-sexual preferences. I have never been offended by the standard gender question, and cannot understand how some people insist on applying flawed logic and getting bent out of shape over it.

If gender is such a difficult issue in today’s society, then why do so many couples post gender reveals on social media? It’s either a boy, or a girl, period. Traditionally, when a survey asked for your gender for classification purposes, it wasn’t asking about your bedroom habits. Now it’s a wide open door for people to declare their defiance and independence from a staid society which has been sexually repressed for far too long. It’s suddenly cool when gathering demographic information to inquire about a person’s whole social identity.

I was prompted to write about this topic when I was asked to complete a profile for a social influencer platform. When I reached the gender section, I saw that it was FIVE PAGES LONG. There were 52 different gender choices. I was stunned. This wasn’t a gender question. This was a social-sexual labels question. And it truly annoyed me. It’s not like I have a problem with the labels, I just have a problem with them being referred to as genders. I also don’t quite understand how transgender people suddenly became so ANGRY at the world.

Honestly, many of the labels are redundant, and one in particular should not be used by the majority of the nonbinary public. Say someone identifies as the following:

AFAB (assigned female at birth)
Female to male
FTM
Trans male
Trans man
Transgender male
Transgender man
Transmasculine
Transsexual male
Transsexual man

Guess what? They all (except for AFAB, which already implies that the individual has rejected their biological origin) say the SAME THING.

Also, anyone who refers to themselves as Two-spirit has no right to use that label unless they truly are members of the indigenous Native American community from which the phrase originated. Here’s the description of “Two-spirit”:

Two-Spirit (also two spirit or, occasionally, twospirited) is a modern, pan-Indian, umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe Native people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender (or other gender-variant) ceremonial role in their cultures.

The term two-spirit was created in 1990 at the Indigenous lesbian and gay international gathering in Winnipeg, and “specifically chosen to distinguish and distance Native American/First Nations people from non-Native peoples.” The primary purpose of coining a new term was to encourage the replacement of the outdated and considered offensive, anthropological term, berdache. While this new term has not been universally accepted—it has been criticized by traditional communities who already have their own terms for the people being grouped under this new term, and by those who reject what they call the “western” binary implications, such as implying that Natives believe these individuals are “both male and female”—it has generally received more acceptance and use than the anthropological term it replaced.

“Two Spirit” is not interchangeable with “LGBT Native American” or “Gay Indian”; rather, it was intended, despite being in English, to carry on the traditional meanings of the terms in Indigenous languages for the culturally-specific ceremonial roles that are recognized and confirmed by the Elders of the two-spirit’s ceremonial community. Opinions vary as to whether or not this objective has succeeded. Often incorrectly used as a synonym for “LGBT Native”, the term and identity of two-spirit “does not make sense” unless it is contextualized within a Native American or First Nations framework and traditional cultural understanding. However, the gender-nonconforming, LGBT, or third and fourth gender, ceremonial roles traditionally embodied by Native American and FNIM people, intended to be under the modern umbrella of two-spirit, can vary widely, even among the Indigenous people who accept the English-language term. No one Native American/First Nations’ culture’s gender or sexuality categories apply to all, or even a majority of, these cultures.

Oh, and Two-spirit is NOT a gender per biological standards either.

It’s fine if someone doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into a stereotypical gender description, and identifies as being transgender. In fact, there is legislation which aims to designate X as a gender marker for nonbinary and transgender individuals, and apparently, this option is available on birth certificates issued in the Canadian province of Ontario. However, I rail against the idea that the standard gender question on surveys and other forms must add a whole mess of redundant descriptions of sexual and social behavior.

REFERENCES:

1. A Human Intersex (“True Hermaphrodite”) with XX/XXY/XXYYY Sex Chromosomes
Fraccaro M.a · Taylor A.I.b · Bodian M.b · Newns G.H.b. Cytogenetics 1962;1:104–112
https://doi.org/10.1159/000129719

When Your Arms Are Too Short…

 

As someone who grew up with myopia (nearsightedness), I never imagined that my reading vision would fail me.  Yet I have spent the last four years holding menus at arm’s length to make it easier to read the food selections.  Within the past year, I adopted the habit of grabbing my reading glasses first thing in the morning when I grab my phone.  Do you know why?  Because my close-up vision has become so dim that if I dare to construct a social media post without my glasses, I end up finding typos on my caption or hashtags.  I’ve even gotten to the point where I wear my glasses when sitting at the computer and reading a considerable amount of material, because it reduces eye strain.  

The end result is that I either grab glasses, or wish that my arms were longer.  I also wish that restaurants filled with romantic ambience would scrap the low light conditions in favor of slightly brighter light which would make it possible for all but the most elderly and vision-challenged to see.  

Presbyopia (the age related stiffening of the lens of the eye, which interferes with its ability to contract and diffract the light) has reared its ugly head and taken up residence permanently in my daily life.   And despite the fact that I had the knowledge base to realize that presbyopia would color my life after the age of 50, I am still surprised at how sudden and noticeable the vision changes have been.  

I went from not being able to see the big E on the Snellen eye chart from my childhood into my late 40’s, to struggling to read receipts in my 50’s and wondering,  “Is that a 6, or an 8?”, or, “Is that a 3 or a 5?”  It’s pretty frustrating.  There have been instances in which I have picked up products with the intention of reading the product ingredients, but I often cannot read them at all.  

What’s really strange is that it makes me feel a bit disconnected from the world, since once sense is noticeably dulled. Who else feels that way as a result of having age-related loss of near vision?

People Who Say These 5 Words Have Very Low Emotional Intelligence

Please check out the post at:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/mind-and-soul/people-who-say-these-5-words-have-very-low-emotional-intelligence/ar-AAyz0K5?ocid=spartanntp

I have copied and pasted the article here for you for convenience.

Who agrees with Bill Murphy’s assessment? Who disagrees?

Most people would probably agree with both Bill Murphy and Justin Bariso, and bristle when someone makes the statement, “I know how you feel.” No one truly knows how you feel, because your experience is unique and important. Such a statement does nothing to communicate empathy, but instead alienates the listener. Remember that sharing your particular experience in an effort to comfort the other person detracts from his or her own experience. It’s best to either keep your mouth shut, or just say, “I’m sorry that happened.” Be an ear to bend, not a barometer by which the other person must measure his or her own troubling experience.

By Bill Murphy Jr. of Inc.

They mean the exact opposite of what you think. But only emotionally intelligent people understand why.

The words hit me like a hurricane: “I know how you feel.”

They’re right there on pages 80 and 81 of my colleague Justin Bariso’s new book about emotional intelligence. They’re simple words, and real–and yet as Justin writes, they’re also absolutely the wrong thing to say to those who confide in you with their problems or fears.

These situations are tough, sometimes. You’ve been trusted. You want to develop rapport. You want to act the way somebody with real emotional intelligence would act.

You want to help.

Yet, rather than creating a connection, “I know how you feel” and other phrases like it build a wall between you and the other person.

The phrase suggests that you don’t truly understand what the other person feels at all. (Really, how could you?) It suggests that you feel the need to turn the conversation toward your experience, not his or hers, and that ultimately you don’t really care about that person’s concerns after all.

In other words, this five-word phrase sends a message that’s 100 percent the opposite of what you intend.

So don’t say, “I know how you feel.” Here’s what to do instead.

Shift vs. support

If you’ve read this far, I suspect you really do care about people. But like me perhaps, you don’t always realize the true effects of your words.

The solution, as sociologist Charles Derber suggests, and Celeste Headlee summarizes, is to gauge your responses in real time, and ask yourself whether you’re offering a “shift response” or a “support response.”

What’s the difference?

A shift response involves an attempt to guide the conversation toward your life experiences, and away from the experiences of the person you’re ostensibly listening to and perhaps even trying to help.

A support response sets aside your ego, and instead keeps the focus on the other person’s feelings and experience.

Conversational narcissism

A few examples will make this very clear. In each case below, just imagine that a friend or colleague opens a conversation with the highlighted statement. Then think about how each response would make him or her feel.

1. “My boss doesn’t respect me.”

Shift response: “I went through the exact same thing last year. I wound up leaving and finding a better job.”

Support response: “I’m sorry to hear that. What makes you feel that way?”

2. “If I could just get organized, I’d have the world on a string.”

Shift response: “I know–I have the same problem.”

Support response: “What do you think stops you from being organized?”

3. “I’m so sad since my breakup.”

Shift response: “You just need to get back out there and start dating again.”

Support response: “What do you think stops you from being able to move forward?”

Derber calls the whole phenomenon, at least the part in which well-meaning people shift the discussion to their own experience, “conversational narcissism.”

Is that a $20 phrase to describe a $1 problem? Maybe. But it does make it clear.

“I can imagine…”

As Justin puts it in his book, the successful strategy to communicate effectively and leverage emotional intelligence requires avoiding phrases like these:

“I know exactly how you feel.”

“I’ve been through this before.”

“I completely understand; or, I get it.”

And replacing them instead with things like the following:

“I’m sorry that happened.”

“I can imagine how you may feel.”

“Thanks for sharing this. Tell me more.”

Actually, I might take issue even with “I can imagine how you may feel.” But we’ll leave it in.

Just remember that the whole point here is to acknowledge how hard it is to really put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and instead make clear that you have empathy.

You’re trying to understand–even as you acknowledge that full success might not ever be possible. The true connection that you’re both looking for comes with the well-communicated attempt.