Monday, February 27, 2012

Time: Better Perspective?/ Greater Distortion?

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BRAINTENANCE borrows from the TAKING COMMAND! Blog...

Dear Braintenanciers [which is how they should be spelling and pronouncing it en Francais]: It appears that we have opposing views regarding the effects of the passage of time during the course of one's life. On the one hand, many believe that the passage of time gives one a clearer perspective; on the other, many believe that the passage of time creates distortions.

What do you think?

The answer, I believe, is a combination of both. Neither view is false, but neither view is complete of itself.

Regarding the first view, with the passage of time comes the acquisition of experience and knowledge, and a broader data base upon which to construct comparisons, qualitatively and quantitatively. As this base increases with time, our ability to measure, to understand, to see against a greater backdrop of different and similar experiences heightens.

This is a gift of perspective. A person who has lived only five years has a much smaller base from which to draw a more precise perspective than the same person an additional five years hence. A first experience of the intoxicating and totally absorbing rush of youthful first love (perhaps "infatuation" would be a better term), is very different after one has experienced loving interaction in several relationships over a course of time. Love may be love, but it feels different given our wealth of love's history, if we are fortunate.

Regarding the second view, time does allow us, with failings of mental capacity, defensive reconstruction of personal history, protective patches of selective amnesia, the compounding of emotional weight (much like interest accumulating on invested principal), the inadvertent interweaving of dreams with experiences and upon certain particularly positive or negative recollections [where we build epics, legends and romantic tragedies in our imaginations, reconstructions and re-thinkings] to develop great distortions in our recall of many things.

The most interesting thing is that these two effects do not offset or counterbalance each other -- they co-exist within the same mind. A person can actually experience distorted childhood memories and yet have a clear situational perspective at the exact same time.

Think about this. Go back to a book, or poem or picture that effected you profoundly some time ago. Does it elicit the same sentiment now?

Your mind is a conflictory bundle of abilities and levels or types of consciousness. Why do you think that NLP, hypnotherapy, EMDR, EFT and cognitive therapy can effect us? It is because of the amazing compartmentalization of the Human Mind.

And as if things were not sufficiently complicated, sometimes these compartments work cooperatively and synergistically, and in other cases, they are either completely unaware of each other, or they actually work at crossed purposes in direct contradiction or conflict.

The mind is the most mysterious muscle of the collection that comprises us.

Keep exploring and experimenting -- (I'm grinning), both within your mind and without your mind. The sentence seems to make sense [structurally], but you can never do anything without your mind. More comforting perhaps, is that no matter how far you wander, you can never literally be out of your mind.

I'm somewhat relieved.

Douglas E Castle for The Braintenance Blog








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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tongue-Twisters? Brain-Builders!

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Brain scanning technology is quickly approachi...Image via Wikipediaabout brain-scanning (fMRI)technology.Tongue-twisters provide an entertaining way for us to refine and strengthen our elocution. They are also used therapeutically by speech pathologists and others [remember Bertie and Lionel in "The King's Speech"?] help overcome a variety of speech impediments, including the most troubling one of all: a lack of self-confidence.

Tongue-twisters are not childish, and they are not merely speech exercises. They are certified (*by some organization which does not currently exist, but which should be formed) brain-builders. In speaking them, your mind must clearly identify each word and its proper pronunciation, and differentiate it from the rest of the  words. This does several things:



1) It forces the mind to ascribe some meaning or sense to the riddle. It pushes the imagination and creativity;

2) It increases the ability to focus because of the inherent need for precision;

3) It improves visual discernment and reading skills;

4) It develops a better bridge between the speaking function and the reading or listening/repeating functions. It's a neural path-maker; and

5) The more that you engage in this entertaining exercise, the better you become at it... not just in terms of your ability to rapidly recite the ones you've already practiced, but the speed with which you are able to master newer, longer and more challenging ones.

Perhaps, my fellow (and lady) Braintenancers, we might try a few of these. Try them alone. Observe your improvement. Try them out on your unsuspecting friends as a way to break up the workday. Forward this article (with my compliments) to everyone whom you feel needs a bit of a creative distraction and a quick brain tune-up!

Here are a few from me to you [courtesy of http://thinks.com] and several other miscellaneous sources:

---------------
 A     

Amidst the mists and coldest frosts,
With stoutest wrists and loudest boasts,
He thrusts his fist against the posts
And still insists he sees the ghosts.

Are our oars oak?

Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran.

B    

Betty and Bob brought back blue balloons from the big bazaar.

Betty better butter Brad's bread.

Betty Botter bought some butter,
"But," she said, "this butter's bitter.
If I bake this bitter butter,
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter -
That would make my batter better."
So she bought a bit of butter,
Better than her bitter butter,
And she baked it in her batter,
And the batter was not bitter.
So 'twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better butter.

A big black bug bit a big black bear, made the big black bear bleed blood.

A bitter biting bittern
Bit a better brother bittern,
And the bitter better bittern
Bit the bitter biter back.
And the bitter bittern, bitten,
By the better bitten bittern,
Said: "I'm a bitter biter bit, alack!"

Black bug's blood.

The blue bluebird blinks.

The bootblack bought the black boot back.

A box of biscuits, a batch of mixed biscuits.

Brad's big black bath brush broke.

C   

Can you imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie?

Cedar shingles should be shaved and saved.

A cheap ship trip.

Chop shops stock chops.

Comical economists.

Cows graze in groves on grass which grows in grooves in groves.

Crisp crusts crackle crunchily.

The crow flew over the river with a lump of raw liver.

D     

Don't pamper damp scamp tramps that camp under ramp lamps.

A dozen double damask dinner napkins.

Draw drowsy ducks and drakes.

E     

Ed had edited it.

The epitome of femininity.

F     

Fat frogs flying past fast.

A fat thrush flies through thick fog.

Flash message!

Flee from fog to fight flu fast!

Fred fed Ted bread, and Ted fed Fred bread.

Freshly fried flying fish, freshly fried flesh.

Friendly Frank flips fine flapjacks.

-------------

Enjoy these superb supplemental mental mettle maintainers. See you soon.

Douglas E. Castle

p.s. Please follow us on Twitter. We have a fine folio of fabulous facts, exercises and commentary... just visit the Twitterlinks Hubspot Blog and choose as many nifty Twitter feeds as you'd like to follow.






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Friday, February 17, 2012

We Learn Viscerally And Mentally

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If you were to ask everyone whom you chanced to encounter if the following two statements were true, you would mostly get answers in the affirmative. And yet, despite conventional wisdom, they are only partial truths:

1. The MIND is the seat of intelligence and learning, and,
2. The MIND controls the BODY.

-- Just ask any ordinary person. He or she will likely confirm it (and perhaps even grin gratuitously).

One would think that our bodies were robotic; that they are merely slaves to our minds. When meeting a challenge (i.e., running a race, lifting weights, making a presentation in front of a group, somebody's well-intended uncle invariably chimes in with, "You can do it, kid! It's just mind over matter!"

If that were completely true (and I'll confess that I believe it to be partially true),   then how is it possible that:  Physical pain profoundly affects how we think and feel?  We can walk down a familiar flight of stairs with our eyes closed? We can sense the gaze or presence of another individual upon us or in our proximity?  An electrical current can produce a spasm when passed through a physically dead body?  An individual will involuntarily vomit to purge a poison from his system, even if tastes delicious, and even if he has been told by his trusted spouse that it is quite healthful? When my body is cold, I begin to shiver? A victim in a deep coma may physically respond to the touch of a loved one?  Someone can study a piano book for a year, and, when invited to sit down and play, absolutely be at a loss? People often sleepwalk without hurting themselves? A ballerina can execute a series of thousands of moves during the course of a ballet? An accomplished martial artist can perform a series of  moves in the same manner as a ballerina? Muscle fibers can grow stronger as a result of mere physical exercise? We have many spontaneous reflexes? Our bodies can heal themselves when cut or bruised?

And how about this...

 That each and every cell in our bodies "knows" the role that it is obligated to play in order to sustain us? And that certain cells or tissues, if moved from one part of the body to another, can actually adapt and assume a new function???

Combined, out minds and bodies are like interactive holographs. Each cell contains the code necessary to re-create the entire body from which is was drawn, but each cell is 'willing' to a assume a specific role as determined by engineering and circumstances. And each cell has enough plasticity to "morph" into another type of cell to carry on a function which is not being addressed by some other injured or diseased cell.


I am most fascinated by scientific reports of patients who have had hearts and other vital organs donated to them through life-saving transplants, and who subsequently developed memories, or sensations or cravings that were known to be associated with the deceased donor -- a complete stranger.

Well then...

OUR BODIES LEARN, TOO. From cell, to organ, to system, to the whole being...OUR BODIES LEARN. Our cells and systems remember. Our cells and systems adapt to change, and can, if need be, actually transform themselves to survive the environment!

The seat of intelligence and learning is not exclusively in the MIND. The seat of intelligence and learning is not exclusively in the BODY. THE SEAT OF INTELLIGENCE AND LEARNING IS IN OUR ENTIRE BEING.

The infinite recursive interplay between mental (mind) learning and visceral (body) learning creates the means of realizing our greatest potential.  And I believe that that potential is unlimited.

Just relax and let yourself imagine the wildest of  possibilities for a moment:If MIND and BODY are both consciously trained and are taught to work in harmony, the result could be extraordinary synergy and unparalleled achievement.

Looked at in this way, we are not merely creatures -- we are cooperate, collaborative colonies of "blood" relations. Each cell learns. Each cell instructs or teaches its neighbors or the tissues in which it is subsumed. We are mental (conscious) and visceral (conscious and subconscious) collections of miniaturized minds, each one compacted, yet each, like a computer chip, loaded with information and a mysterious sentience.

Douglas E Castle for BRAINTENANCE

p.s. We'd like for you to follow us on Twitter. Here are the feeds which you'll probably find most interesting:


You can find an entire collection of available Twitter info streams at http://TwitterlinksHubspot.blogspot.com.







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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Expand Your Mind - Paradoxes Of Faith

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Is there a God? And if there is, why is He making me ask this question?

There are some wonderful logical and paradoxical questions and sayings that have emerged through Humankind’s quest for a definitive answer to the troublesome problem of proof about the existence of God. Each of them gives one some pause for thought, and all of them are mind strengtheners. Here they come:

1. “My belief in God is based on faith. With absolute faith, a person can know, with complete certainty, that which cannot be proven. Faith is a God-given blessing.”

2. “If God created the universe, and if every effect is preceded by some cause, who or what created God?”

3. In one of my most doubtful moments, following a great tragedy in my life, I told my college roommate that I had lost my belief in God. My roommate replied, putting his hand gently on my shoulder, “Just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean that he doesn’t believe in you, and care about you and love you.” I remember these words being a great source of comfort at that time.

4. An old quote from an episode of the breakthrough television sitcomAll In The Family,” uttered by Archie Bunker's self-righteous son-in-law, Michael: “Arch, when I think of all the things that have been done in the name of religion, it makes me thank God that I’m an atheist!” Hysterical, hmmm?

5. If you look up at the sky with clenched fists and yell (either out loud, or in your mind’s voice), “If you exist, God, how could you have let this [tragedy] happen? I don’t believe in you!” – It means that you are, in fact, a believer, but with some serious questions about His reasons and actions. The premise of a dialogue (as opposed to a monologue or a soliloquy), is that a second party is listening – but that second party may or may not respond. The difference between a dialogue and a monologue is that in a dialogue, the second party may not only listening, but that the presumed listening second party may in fact, respond.

Faithfully,

Douglas E. Castle
http://Braintenance.blogspot.com








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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cubit Conundrum - Cubit's Rube*

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 "Lord...um...excuse me. What's a 'cubit' ? "
---------------
Notes of enormous importance:

1)“Cubit’s Rube” is a sloppy spoonerism for “Rubic’s Cube.”
 
2) Years ago, when I had a legitimate job in the fascinating field of accounting – fiscal voyeurism – my  boss said to me (in anticipation of a confrontation with a dissatisfied client who had just learned that he owed the Internal Revenue Service a large sum of money), “Geez, Doug. The ‘fit is going to hit the shan!” If you cannot figure that one out, you must turn off your computer, go to the supermarket, and purchase a copy of The National Enquirer and a large box of bon-bons immediately. You are exempt from reading any further. Congratulations.
 
3) A friend once asked me (in an attempt to be witty and engaging, despite his chronic halitosis and repellent reptilian skin condition), “Hey, Dougie! What’s the difference between a rooster and a lawyer?” When I failed to answer, he said, grinning, “A rooster clucks defiance.”  On reflection, I realized that while this sophisticated spoonerism was indeed cute (albeit obscene), it was, when translated, undeniably true. But I digress….



We should have an article here. Okay.

Question: What is the height, in cubits, of a man who is exactly six feet tall?

Answer:
You’ll have to be patient…

First, a few clues about the unit of measure (very popular in ark-building) known as the CUBIT excerpted from the all-knowing Wikipedia:

“A cubit is the first recorded unit of length and was one of many different standards of measurement used through history. It was originally based on measuring by comparing to one's forearm length.

Cubits were employed through Antiquity, the Middle Ages up to the Early Modern Times, especially for measuring cords and textiles, but also for timbers, stone and volumes of grain.
The Egyptian hieroglyph for the unit shows the symbol of a forearm, but it was rather longer than any actual forearms.

The Egyptian cubit was not subdivided into centimetres or inches, but into palms and digits. The Egyptian cubit was subdivided into 7 'palms' of 4 'digits', making 28 parts in all, and was between 52.3 and 52.4cm in length.”

But this is all just speculation and estimation…we need something more definitive. So, let’s settle on this average: 

          1 cubit = 45.72 centimeters, according to Douglas E. Castle of Braintenance       


And let’s settle on this Metric to British conversion factor so that we can convert feet to centimeters to cubits:



          1 centimeter = 0.032808399 feet, according to Douglas E. Castle of Braintenance   


Computation:  If a man is six feet tall, this means that he is 6 feet tall divided by 0.032808399 feet/centimeter, or approximately 183 centimeters tall.

Then, if we take his height (in centimeters) of 183, and divide it by 45.72 centimeters/cubit, we find that our six foot tall man is also approximately four cubits in height.

Douglas E. Castle [http://aboutDouglasECastle/blogspot.com]








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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Blackboard In Your Mind - Part 3

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We can all safely admit (even to ourselves, if we are not in a confessional or a crowded subway car) that doing arithmetic computations with eyes closed, from memory and using sheer brain power is a challenge, but one that is a worthwhile undertaking. Here are the answers, as well as some observations, regarding the last posting. That makes this post, which are reading, a post-post posting. Or worse, it could be considered a commentary on a past posting. Alliteration and irony combined tend to produce an excess of spittle...an effect which I enjoy witnessing in others but which I try to avoid inadvertantly engaging in myself.
---------------

The following embedded image (although the subject appears wide awake), exemplifies irony:


It's now back to the exercise with some answers in RED.

Here's a new set of operations to work on in the same manner as you did on the previous set, except that now we will use multiplication and division. Never mind about your third-grade teacher's order of operations lecture....simply do the operations in the order indicated, ONE AFTER THE NEXT. I'll give you an answer to check your work within a day or two.

5 x 6 / 2 + 7 x 3 -5 = 61

Other things to think about:

1) Might these problems be easier/ more difficult if presented in a multi-row format, with a small number of operations per row? Why? A: Multiple rows are generally easier because they are easier to memorize and visualize and because they are seen as smaller, less 'intimidating' problems.

2) Might these problems be easier/ more difficult if presented in a vertical column instead of in a horizontal row? Why? A: It is generally easier to memorize things (words, numbers, shapes, and the like) in columns than in rows, based upon an orientation to data presentation taught to us [habituation] while in school.

3) Please follow some of our Twitter postings. For a complete listing (-phew-), simply visit http://TwitterLinksHubspot.blogspot.com.

Douglas E. Castle for Braintenance
[http://aboutdouglascastle.blogspot.com]
[http://Braintenance.blogspot.com]







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Monday, February 6, 2012

The Blackboard In Your Mind - Part 2

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English: Arithmetic numeration coordinate tabl...Image via Wikipedia In our last thrill-packed episode of Braintenance, we discussed the benefits of doing arithmetic calculations ("chain calculations") without the assistance of computers or any extrasensorial visual aids. The problem in the re-posting of the last show, yielded an answer of 28 [or at least it should have]. Most people's biggest challenges are not the arithmetic at all -- the challenges are 1) memorizing a string of data, and 2) recalling the string in "pieces" ("fractional recall") when going back to check or reaffirm our computations.


One hint which might prove helpful is to visualize the entire string as if it were placed at the top of your mental blackboard for reference, and to do the individual calculations below. In this way, you can trick your mind into having a source of embedded reference to go back to. By doing this, you'll have less problems worrying about 'losing your place,' during the computational process. And as we brain-builders know, worrying is the seed of some nasty self-fulfilling prophesies.

Take a look at the last drill, and then, we'll continue with a new challenge...
---------------

When we utilize computers and other visual aids to do arithmetic calculations, several of our cognitive and computational abilities atrophy. We must exercise them in order to keep them strong. The simple process of doing arithmetic in your head allows you to visualize and to memorize. Many studies have shown that this rather simple exercise is one of the best ways to delay the onset of dementia and a number of other physiological manifestations of diminished mental capacity.

Do the following example in your head...no using fingers to draw in the air, or using of any other external physical processes (especially whispering the numbers to yourself0. I'll get you your answer tomorrow. Go ahead. Try this simple one [by the way, you'll actually find it confusing to look at the numbers on this page at the same time you visualize the computations in your head. With practice, this problem can be eliminated by simply taking a mental "photograph" of the numbers, closing your eyes and dedicating your mind to doing all of the work internally.

3 + 8 - 5 + 9 - 2 + 12 - 4 + 13 - 6 = ?   ? = 28
---------------

Here's a new set of operations to work on in the same manner as you did on the previous set, except that now we will use multiplication and division. Never mind about your third-grade teacher's order of operations lecture....simply do the operation in the order indicated. I'll give you an answer to check your work within a day or two.

5 x 6 / 2 + 7 x 3 -5 = ?

Other things to think about:

1) Might these problems be easier/ more difficult if presented in a multi-row format, with a small number of operations per row? Why?

2) Might these problems be easier/ more difficult if presented in a vertical column instead of in a horizontal row? Why?

3) Please follow some of our Twitter postings. For a complete listing (-phew-), simply visit http://TwitterLinksHubspot.blogspot.com.

Douglas E. Castle for Braintenance
[http://aboutdouglascastle.blogspot.com]
[http://Braintenance.blogspot.com]







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Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Blackboard In Your Mind

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When we utilize computers and other visual aids to do arithmetic calculations, several of our cognitive and computational abilities atrophy. We must exercise them in order to keep them strong. The simple process of doing arithmetic in your head allows you to visualize and to memorize. Many studies have shown that this rather simple exercise is one of the best ways to delay the onset of dementia and a number of other physiological manifestations of diminished mental capacity.

Do the following example in your head...no using fingers to draw in the air, or using of any other external physical processes (especially whispering the numbers to yourself0. I'll get you your answer tomorrow. Go ahead. Try this simple one [by the way, you'll actually find it confusing to look at the numbers on this page at the same time you visualize the computations in your head. With practice, this problem can be eliminated by simply taking a mental "photograph" of the numbers, closing your eyes and dedicating your mind to doing all of the work internally.

3 + 8 - 5 + 9 - 2 + 12 - 4 + 13 - 6 = ?

See you tomorrow, Braintenance Barons (and Baronesses).








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