Category: General

Quel Temps Fait-il?

I like rains in the afternoons, but not when I’m about to take my commute from work. I like rains in the evenings, but not when I have to compete with Manila’s 15 million other commuters to get a taxi. I like rains in general, but not when it causes horrible traffic jams or when it means getting my shoes soaked in grimy waters.

I guess people are just as fickle when it comes to liking and disliking the weather, and I can tell from their status updates on Facebook, but it has very little effect on people’s moods, according to a Humboldt University study. As CNN weather reports of more wet days to come, bring out your raincoats or umbrellas; stock up on “bed weather” food; find good books to read within the comforts of your room. For this weekend, I’m reading Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda.

One day to go before TGIF.

How You Hold Your Glass Reveals Your Personality

How do you hold your glass of drink or your beer bottle?

Just like pretty much of everything else in life, how you hold your glass says a lot about your personality or your character. According to British psychologist Glenn Wilson, there are eight personality types based on the way people hold their glasses. The study was made through observations of 500 people at a London bar. I’m Ice Queen, apparently, but that’s before the buzz kicks in.

How to Save New Brain Cells

It is possible to grow new brain cells in adulthood, but the challenge lies in keeping these cells, which are produced mostly in the hippocampus when people learn new cognitive or practical skills. However, not all new knowledge acquisitions are equal: as people (or in the case of laboratory experiments on the topic, dogs and mice) get accustomed or conditioned to their newly acquired knowledge or skills (i.e., things become routinary) new cells that were produced in the course of their learning die out. But the flip-side is that some cells actually stay around if the learning or the mental exercise involved is, remains, or becomes more challenging. It’s basically a case of learning begets more learning; new brain cells are produced when one learns more, but for them to stick around longer or permanently, one must challenge one’s cognitive capacity or aptitude continuously. So if you think that your intellect has taken a nosedive lately, this is the right time to maybe learn calculus, a new language, or enough economics to figure out why the world is in such a deep financial mess.

“If you watch TV, read magazines or surf the Web, you have probably encountered advertisements urging you to exercise your mind. Various brain fitness programs encourage people to stay mentally limber by giving their brain a daily workout—doing everything from memorizing lists and solving puzzles to estimating the number of trees in Central Park.

“It sounds a bit gimmicky, but such programs may have a real basis in neurobiology. Recent work, albeit mostly in rats, indicates that learning enhances the survival of new neurons in the adult brain. And the more engaging and challenging the problem, the greater the number of neurons that stick around. These neurons are then presumably available to aid in situations that tax the mind. It seems, then, that a mental workout can buff up the brain, much as physical exercise builds up the body.

“The findings may be particularly interesting to intellectual couch potatoes whose brains could benefit from a few cerebral sit-ups. More important, though, the results lend some support to the notion that people who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or who have other forms of dementia might slow their cog­nitive decline by keeping their minds actively engaged.”

Read the rest of the story on Scientific American.

A Room with a View

What would have been a long, cozy, relaxing, and stress-free Christmas in my hometown turned into a frenzy of packing our stuff, scheduling, rescheduling, going back and forth between Cabanatuan and Manila, and finally moving to the new apartment. Our lease on the previous place expired and couldn’t be renewed because the landlord decided to sell the unit. I received the news quite late, so there was a mad scramble to find a new place lest we wanted to be homeless come the new year. Good thing, my sister’s contact gave us a slot in one of the rental condo units she (I think) owns. We cut our vacation short by two days to move in to the new apartment, a 25th floor affair which we share with other renters. Think of it as a flat–everyone has her own room (or share rooms), but there are spacious common areas. I love the view and I love my own room so far, with its huge window overlooking the Makati CBD skyline. It’s not exactly EM Forster, but the phrase does come to mind, considering the cave where I spent the past year and a half. I had nice memories of the place, though. I enjoyed the pizza-and-beer get-togethers with friends back in November 2007, the dinners with my sister, just hanging out watching Mega Thursday and Plane Crash Investigation on NGS, and my newfound way of coping with stress: scrubbing the apartment squeaky clean, you could perform surgery on the floor. OK, I’m exaggerating.

With a bit more of furnishing, the place should be all set. Sky cable transferred my connection to the new address with a pay-through-the-nose fee of P1K just for the 15 minutes it took to connect the cables. At least I can watch the Australian Open next week (good luck, Rogi!). I still have no internet connection, as I have given up my old internet service for a hopefully better package. I don’t want to have to cough up P1,450 just to have my antenna transferred. Plus, network connection has been absolutely horrible since November.

So anyways, writing gigs are slow and it’s only this week that I’m working on the backlog that has been on my plate since the start of Christmas break. So dear clients–please bear with me. I will send you all the lovely writings and grandiose plans for world domination within the week.

What top executives and athletes have in common and the evolutionary factor in winning

The way athletes express victory–chests puffed out, arms in the air, head tilted back–may have been a result of evolutionary programming, according to research from University of British Columbia and San Francisco State University. Comparisons of photographs of sighted athletes, the congenitally blind, and those who lost their sights later in life show similarities in reactions to winning. This is especially notable among people who have been blind all their lives who express body gestures of winning similar to their sighted counterparts. The study also suggests that similarities in expressions of winning cuts across cultures, and might have been a product of social communication of early humans. By appearing to be larger than the rest, the alpha humans give the impression of dominance and power.

I wonder if Nadal’s grunts have anything to do with his new ranking. Read the article on Live Science.

Top-performing executives and athletes have a lot of things in common, according to Richard F. Gerson’s The Executive Athlete: How Sports Psychology Helps Business People Become World-Class Performers:

  • They prepare themselves for the upcoming event and make sure they are ready to perform.
  • They plan their activities so that they know what they will do, when they will do it, and what will be expected of them.
  • They have a purpose for what they are doing in business, sports, and life.
  • They show a passion for what they do. They love what they do so much that they would probably do it for free if they could afford to; and even do it forever if physically and mentally capable of doing so.
  • They are persistent and committed to achieving success.
  • They are patient as performers because they know that success and high achievement do not always come quickly or easily.
  • They practice diligently, consistently, and continuously, with specific objectives in mind.
  • They perform “as if” when they are not quite ready to be the best they can be.
  • They use personal mastery to help them develop confidence, increase self-esteem, and overcome fear.
  • They are proactive performers, rather than passive observers or reactive actors. They more often than not take the lead to get the job done, and they do it well.