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Catching up with my Train of Thoughts

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TED Talk

Try to do something for 30 days

Ever try to get rid of a bad habit? Or try to create a good habit?

Right around the same time that TED Radio Hour posted their 100th episode “A Better You”, I started to challenge myself to break a bad habit for the month of June. In the episode, one of the speakers mentioned that changing a habit requires anywhere from 15 to 45 days. So far, it’s been 27 days *cue small cheer*. 

But I’ve found that trying more than one action at the same time, especially when both are bad habits, can be quite chaotic. I’ve found myself being extra extra conscious of everything and then find myself relapsing (breaking the streak) of the other action that I’m trying to adjust. 

Since it’s the end of June, I’m thinking of shifting my focus to the second bad habit that I’m trying to break since the first is not that much of an issue anymore (but I’ll still keep an eye out for it). 

To keep track of it, I’ve started using a small journal to track the days – a sticker for every good day, a sad face + crossed stickers for when I break the streak. Persistence is key!

Too much!

Ever find that you bought way too much stuff? Or that you want everything possible? And then the moment when you can’t find the one thing among the many many things that you already have?

Hi world, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Since the last post, I’ve been spending a good portion of my time looking and searching for very specific things in very broad areas. I often found myself complaining that I can’t find anything, yet I don’t think to take a moment and actually organise things. I have a Google Account, Microsoft, Trello, Dropbox, Canva, Adobe…. I’ve got way too much stuff!

That’s when I remembered the podcast episode Simply Happy from NPR TED Radio hour. The host, Guy, talked to the founder of founder of LifeEdited, Graham Hill. In the interview, they talked a lot about minimalistic thinking – the kind of thinking where you keep what you need, not what you want, and for everything to have more than one purpose.

Then, I thought of a plan to do over the summer. While I don’t have the budget to build/buy a tiny house, I can definitely start on the minimalistic thinking with my lifestyle.

I’ll go through everything I have and sort through what can be deleted/archived and unsubscribed from. Hopefully, it’ll relieve a little stress and just make me a little bit happier.

“I am old, but not obsolete.” (Review) (spoilers)

Ever wonder what would happen if androids were to come into existence? Ever wonder what would happen if time travelling were to come into existence? Now, ever wonder what would happen if both come into existence?

Cue…. TERMINATOR: Genysis. With the classic Terminator theme, this film takes a different angle on the time-travelling dimension. Trying to explain it would cause lots of confusion, so I won’t go there (not now, anyways).

The bond between Terminator Shwarzenegger (labelled as “Guardian” or “Pops”) and Sarah Connor reminded me a lot of those same kind of connections that we look for on a daily basis. To have that kind of inseparable bond is like being part of a family or to be part of a tight knit group.

In a TED Radio Hour Episode called “Do we need humans?” There was one speaker who voices her concerns about humans being replaced by the machines, despite the good that it can do for us. In that podcast, a self-learning robotic seal was among several elderly in a retirement home, one of which poured her heart out to it. The speaker mentioned that while the seal nodded its head in response to the woman, it might not have understood anything she said.

Back in the movie, Sarah is really attached to him/it, as many of us would be if & when we shared a bond that lasted that long. What’s interesting is that, on a normal basis, it can be anyone or anything that we can grow attached to. As soon as we face the possibility of losing it/them, it becomes devastating because we’ve had it for so long.

As the plot moves ahead, and more time travelling is added to the already-confusing story, the “guardian” ages even more. It’s at this point when he looks like a parent to Sarah. He’s been with her for decades and makes protection a first priority. While it could be argued that it’s in his programming, maybe us humans can’t help but want to believe that it’s something more than simply his programming… Especially when he tells Reese “Protect my Sarah.”  (Feels!!! Why must you give us these feels?!?!?)

In the end, the bond between Pops and Sarah seemed to be a theme throughout the movie. While one was a robot designed to kill and the other an ordinary human to give birth to the significant figure in the future, it was much like a bond that we share with our family and friends. While some are old relationships -lasting years- it doesn’t mean that it’s ever time to simply throw it away. In cases like these, time makes things, people – yes, that might include the occasional terminator – more valuable than making a hundred of them.

I’ve got nothing to hide… or do I? *Ominous music plays*

Ever hear someone say that they have nothing to hide? Ever discover something about someone that was unfamiliar? Ever see/hear anyone ask for the login information for a website? Ever see anyone write a diary out in the open? Ever see anyone talk to someone on a phone in a quiet place?

I think we’d all like to say that we have nothing to hide, but I also think that, if we were asked to tell everything to any one person – and I mean everything – that there would be… a long……… awkward…………. silence.

*crickets*

…..

*Shoos crickets*

Anyways, after listening to TED Radio Hour Podcast episodes “Keeping Secrets” and “Why We Lie”, I was reminded that as much as we might say that we’re open and honest, we’re not. I think that there’s one part of ourselves that we hide from everyone, maybe because we’re afraid to be judged, because we all want to have connections.

In the episode “Keeping Secrets,” Frank Warren collects hundreds – if not thousands – of letters that arrive literally at his footsteps. The idea of writing something kept within, something that is never said aloud, and to send it to another part of the world and to a stranger’s house – it’s terrifying, even if it’s anonymous. Glen Greenwald asked anyone, who says that they have nothing to hide, to email him the password to their emails so that he could look at all of the emails… and he has yet to get a reply.

In the episode “Why We Lie,” Jeff Hancock had a study that suggested that people tend to lie more often over the phone while people tend to lie the least via emails. He and the radio host, Guy Raz, said that maybe it was because emails could be tracked, that if there was a lie, it could be proved in print.

In the show “Person of Interest”, a machine with artificial intelligence has any and all access to technology and the internet in order to be able to identify possible threats big and small. There are episodes in which people’s iPhone are used by the machine to track a target. When finding out about an individual, there is nothing of which cannot be found by the Machine (unless it’s only printed).

Sometimes, what remains hidden is smile and has reason to be joked about. There are some people who, when they’re alone, would dance to their favourite song, beating their pillows to the beat of the drum. There are some people who, when they’re alone, would sit in an odd position to study. There are also some people who could be found wearing two very different fashions, depending on who they’re with or where they are.

Other times, what remains hidden… well, I’ll leave that to your imagination (and to the TV & Movies) (*cough Cough*)

To be completely honest is hard, for many reasons. Sometimes, we’re afraid to be judged, to be laughed at, to be taken advantage of. Sometimes, we are fully aware of all the secrets that we have in our heads. Sometimes, our minds have found ways to keep it a secret from our consciousness.

Maybe, as an experiment, take out a bunch 4X6 papers (or just cut out a bunch of papers into 1/4 size). On each, write a secret, something that no one has heard or seen. After that, cut it up and put them together in random order. Be creative. You never know, maybe all those secrets could sum up to something worth showing to the world.

More languages, more angles

How many languages do you recognize? How many languages do you speak? How many do you speak fluently? How about reading & writing?

So, what’s the answer? 1? 2? 3 maybe?  

When I ask friends, they often tell me that they are fluent in English in the oral sense, but not so much in the reading or writing sense. Moreover, being in Quebec, where the signs are almost always in French, many have a fraction of an understanding of French. Among some of my friends, they tell me that they can read French, but writing and speaking is a whole other story. 

For those who are brought up in a place where there are multiple common languages in the region, they often learn multiple languages. In Quebec, it seems to be common for people to know English, French and their native language (similar case for other parts of Canada). 

From Psychology, I remember that knowning different languages can actually be beneficial for the individual. From the podcast TED Radio Hour, I learned that different cultures have different perceptions of the world (I.e. Time, gender, age, etc.). From Concordia, I’m frequently reminded that languages allow for connection with others who might have a similar background. 

English seems to allow for the creativity to take hold, inventing words when nothing else seems to be sufficient. French seems to demonstrate the precision of words, having a different meaning for almost any possibility. And Mandarin? While I’m limited in such a language, my impression is that it’s simple in nature, yet carefully articulated, with the meaning depending on the pronounciation. 

Someone told me that to be fluent in a language is to be able to carry a discussion, to read a text and to be able to properly write a text. It seems to remind me of the high school criteria in my French class, but it seems accurate since those are the three crucial areas. 

If you were to follow that statement (or maybe that would be a theory?), would you be able to consider yourself fluent in English, with confidence? How about the other languages?

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