Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Think You're Good at Multitasking? Think Again.

Visual Academy recently released a graphic outlining the pitfalls of multitasking.

According to the studies they reviewed only 2 percent of us can multitask with any credibility.

Here's something I bet you didn't know - you will actually spend LESS time doing any set of activities if you do them one at a time AND that includes studying and homework.

Do you know that the majority of students spend over an average of 100 minutes per day on Facebook?!  I know we like to stall as long as possible instead of actually studying, but  that's almost two hours extra time spent "doing homework"!

AND...worst of all studies connect a correlation between dropping GPAs and increasing time spent on Facebook.  The average non-Facebooker has a GPA of 3.82 while you Facebook junkies have an average GPA of 3.06. Yikes.

Not to mention Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, Google+, etc., etc., etc.

Oh, and when you're finished looking to see what your "friends" are doing, how about texting?!

Students send an average of 97 texts per day.  What?  That extends your "homework" time even further.

As Visual Academy says, "It's one thing to be doing laundry and listening to music" it's something quite different to be reading your textbook, texting with your friends, looking at social media, and writing a paper.  Why?  For one reason it seems that those activities are all done with the same part of your brain.

What should you do?  What do you think?  Turn off your cellphone, shut down Facebook, and read your textbook and then write your paper.  Do one thing at a time and you'll get done faster AND get better grades.

Do you have to fight off texting and social media when you study?  What strategies would you suggest to your fellow students to resist the multitasking temptation?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Much Will Your College Loan Payments Be?

It is amazing how many college students, 1) Don't know their total student loan obligation; and, 2) Don't know the amount of their loan payments.  This is especially puzzling since students will be repaying their loans for TEN years!

Don't get me wrong, I understand how it happens:  students borrow a little or a lot each semester and between school, part time jobs, and homework fail to keep track of all those loans--and they add up!

According to Forbes Magazine, "College graduates with the average $27,000 in student loan debt can end up making payments of over $300 a month for 10 long years. There are only so many dollars to go around, and because of the student loan burden, these are people who have difficulty carving out funds to save, pay down debt and invest for retirement. They may have to delay purchasing a home because they are paying up to 15% of their incomes for the college degree that landed them the job."

"Oh, well," you say.  "I have to go to college to get a decent job and it's expensive."  But does that expense relate to prosperity across a lifetime?

"The research found that students who graduate with debt wind up with significantly less wealth in the long term than those who didn’t. In fact, the researchers estimated that a combined $53,000 in student loan debt would result in a loss of $208,000 for a dual-headed household over its lifetime, since they’d have less to save and invest while trying to pay down their student loans."

If you're a current college student, track your debt and think about how much you have to pay per month once you leave school - and you better hope the job immediately upon graduation.

One student I know spent $108,000 going to school to be a social worker.  Her loan obligation for the next ten years:  $1242.86.  Do social workers even make that much a month?  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a social worker can expect to make $42,480 per year.  That's $3540 per month before taxes.  Yikes.  BTW, The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a great resource for researching careers.

If you want to find out your monthly debt obligation, click on this link for a loan calculator that will tell you exactly what your student loans will cost you each month once you finish school:

What advice can you give college students to keep their student loans to a minimum?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Need to Get to LA Fast?

Try the hyperloop and get there in 35 minutes-at least that's the proposal of Elon Musk, creator and founder of Paypal and Tesla Motors.  According to Musk, his proposed system would cost $6 billion compared to the high speed rail now being taxpayer funded for a whopping $68.4 billion.  Best of all a round trip ticket would cost $20.

How does it work?  According to Visual News, "Musk and his team think that by pumping much of the air out of the tube and creating an atmosphere equivalent to that at 150,000 feet (45,720 meters) the drag within the system would be lowered to such a state that near supersonic speeds are attainable with little resistance. Wheels at this speed are no longer an option (due to stability and drag issues) so instead an ‘air bearing’ would be employed. These would be extremely strong metal plates on the bottom of the pod that blow air through their center; supporting the pod much like the puck on an air hockey table."

Passengers would travel in pods that hold 28 people (see figure 4).  The tube would be outfitted with solar panels in order to power the "electric motors much like those used on a modern roller coaster, and because the air-based drag within the tube would be so low, only 1% of the distance would require power. The solar panels would be mounted atop the systems tubes, providing continuous day and night operation."

Musk admits that  "Much research and testing needs to be done on the Hyperloop idea to see if it will really work, so he’s making the idea open source and calling for all the help he can get. Read more about the highly interesting project at where you can find a fascinating 58 page PDF with tech details."

What would it feel like?  "A cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table." 

Who's going to create and build this system?  Current college students - that means YOU.  Speaking of careers, what's your major?

Monday, August 19, 2013

7 Valuable Lessons We Can Learn From Superheroes

Any reader of comic books knows that superheroes represent something bigger than ourselves, people (or beings) that live to right wrongs in a society that doesn't accept their superpowers.  Huffington Post has a nice slide show about the seven most valuable lessons you can learn from superheroes.

No. 1 - We all have alter egos. Like Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man "we too have alter egos—different sides of ourselves that come out, depending on the context and the people we are with. We may think, feel, and act differently when we’re with our parents than when we’re with our children," our friends, professors, or bosses.

No. 2 - The Costume Counts."You don’t have to wear tights or a cape to understand that what you wear affects other people: Whether you’re wearing a unitard, a police officer’s uniform, grungy jeans and a Jack Daniels T-shirt, or a three-piece suit, your 'costume' counts. Based on how you appear, [people] make inferences about you (which may or may not be true). And those inferences will affect how they treat you, which will in turn, consciously or unconsciously, affect you."  This is so true, especially in your working life.  Oh, and you goths don't scare me anymore, but change your "costume" for your job interview.

No. 3 - We are all different.  "Every superhero is unique. The same is true of us. We share qualities with others—our ethnicity, religion, and gender, as well as psychological qualities such as our temperament, interests, motivations, 'issues'.” It's that difference that makes it fun to meet new people.

No. 4 -  Being different can give you power.  "Superheroes teach us to use our 'differentness'—to treat it as a gift and to put that gift to good use by serving others."  You may have to start with yourself, yes this is where I say stay in school and become the first to graduate college in your family!

No. 5 - Adversity can be overcome.  "Adversity induces us to challenge our beliefs about ourselves and the world, and then to develop new meaning, fulfillment, and connections to others as a result."  Having it easy isn't always the best way--trust me.

No. 6 - No matter what your abilities life can be frustrating. "For many heroes—particularly the human superheroes such as Batman, Iron Man, Green Arrow, and Buffy (yes, she’s a superhero in my book)—the ability to persevere in the face of frustration is a superpower. One we can all try to cultivate."  Again, having it easy isn't always the best way.

No. 7 - Running toward danger.  Overcoming your fears.  "When we’re afraid of something, we try to avoid it, but in doing so, our lives may become narrowed and, in some cases, too narrowed. When this happens, we can take a page from a superhero book, take a deep breath, learn some new skills, and face our fears."  You may not feel like a superhero right now, but think of yourself as a super student and you're half-way there.

How can you become a superhero? What makes you a super student?  Which of these lessons would you like to apply to your academic life?  What excellent mistake have you made when running toward danger?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shakespeare Meets Science Fiction

If the Bard of Avon had written Star Wars, here's how it would have started:

"In time so long ago begins our play / In star-crossed galaxy far, far away."

At least that's how Ian Doescher imagines it in William Shakespeare's Star Wars.

For those of you stumped by Shakespeare's language this may be a good way to launch into a galaxy some find so far away, a fun way to develop your ear for Shakespeare. William Shakespeare's Star Wars is available at Amazon and as one reviewer put it, ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

"Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for."
Luke Skywalker poses like Hamlet in this black-and-white illustration by Nicholas Delort.
Here's the perfect gift for your special 501st Legionnaire or anyone who appreciates science fiction OR Shakespeare.

What other works can you see Shakespeare re-imagining?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Skinny Jeans: Gotta Have it? Make it Stop?

Going to the Oscars?  Top your skinny jeans with a sequin top.

Going to a business meeting?  Wear a jacket with your skinny jeans.

Going to a ball game?  Your Giant's cap will look stunning with those skinny jeans.

Going to a funeral?  They make black skinny jeans.
If you watch TV, read magazines, or shop at the mall you would think that everybody from pregnant women to your boyfriend wears skinny jeans.  As a Professor I get to go "back to school" shopping too.  All I want this year are a couple of pairs of slacks.  BUT if you go to Macy's, Target, KMart, Ross, T.J. Max, Old Navy, Sears, or Nordstrom's you would think that everybody wears blue denim skinny jeans.

Here's some images you'll never scrub from your brain:  Grandma in skinny jeans!  How about your mom in skinny jeans? Skinny jeans with a muffin top.  Skinny jeans where the crotch is so low you get a moon shot.  And what's up with drop-crotch skinny jeans? Don't even get me started on jeggings!

I know this is a bit off topic for this blog, but do you think it would be appropriate for your professor to show up to class in skinny jeans?  Yikes, there's another one of those images.  Do you think it would be appropriate to show up for a job interview in skinny jeans--unless of course you're going for that super model job you've always dreamed of.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Birth of an Intolerant Nation

D.W. Griffiths' Birth of a Nation is billed as the first full-length narrative motion picture.  The story line depicts the Klu Klux Klan as a sympathetic misunderstood organization and African Americans as, at the very least, ignorant, while southern whites were victims.

A big part of the problem (at least for Griffith's) was that during Reconstruction African Americans came into political power.
Nowhere else in the South did blacks become the dominant force in gaining equality through self-governance than in South Carolina, the only state to have a black majority in the legislature during Reconstruction.
 Here's how D.W. Griffiths depicts that august body:

Today we wouldn't put up with this kind of overt racism and in 1915 when this movie came out many people didn't put up with it either.
The NAACP protested against the film’s fabrications and inaccuracies. Riots broke out in Boston, Philadelphia and other major cities. And Griffith’s legacy never recovered, even if he tried to atone (some say) in 1916 with the release of Intolerance, another masterpiece of the Silent Era.
"Intolerance featured massive sets, extravagant period costumes, and more than 3,000 extras, and, in grand fashion, it wove together 'four distinct but parallel stories that demonstrated mankind’s intolerance during four different ages in world history.'”

You can watch Griffiths' 3-hours of Intolerance at

Do current films portray and encourage intolerance?  How and why do you think filmmakers create these films?  To create controversy?  To get the public chattering abut their movie?

Are you a film or art major?  What do you want to show or tell the world through your art?