Unplug and Carve Out Some Free Time

We’re all just so busy.  Working, studying, raising kids, planning for the future.  Sometimes, for those of us tethered to all these activities by the computer, it can seem like we just don’t get enough time to unplug – literally or figuratively.  Here are a few tips on how to reclaim the spare time you may recall having once had to spend on yourself.  These come courtesy of Kari Henley and you can read her whole article about Reclaiming Spare Time here.  Kari says: Email Self-Control — Declutter your inbox by unsubscribing to anything you don’t need or read regularly, and try not to continue long email conversations that aren’t necessary. One of Therese Borchard’s tricks is to take weekend breaks from her computer. Imagine! This is a great way to scrounge up a ton of free time — think of it as email Sabbath, (Reading this column, however, is an acceptable exception). Social Networking is junk food, plain and simple. Let’s face it — Facebook is the Doritos of friendships and Twitter is a super size box of Fries. Both are tempting, and both are ultimately not all that healthy. Take the time for some “slow food” — home-cooked friendships that require face-to-face time. If you are IM’ing someone in your office, get up and try walking over for a change. Facebooking your best friend? Pick up the phone or stop by; imagine how you look from space, hunched over terminals sharing the daily chatter. Find the “in-between” moments of the day to embrace as spare time. Driving is a great opportunity to do some deep breathing, turn off the noise in your head, and notice the scenery around you, rather than listening to talk radio, eating, or talking on the cell phone. Find the moments in the shower, doing dishes or walking the dog to flatten out as buffer zones of nothingness. Force yourself to be bored. Remember being bored? It is the MacDaddy of spare time. Kids today think five or six seconds of spare time equals being bored, and many adults’ tolerance for unfilled moments is not much better. Set aside several hours once a month with nothing particular to do and see how it affects you.

Never Give Up

The old saying goes, “I used to complain I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”  Regardless of how tough your believe your circumstances to be, there is always a way to persevere.  If you’re struggling with unemployment and making ends meet while you study to get your medical billing and coding certificate, keep up the fight.  Take a cue from this courageous, young, Chinese man on “China’s Got Talent” (the Chinese equivalent of our “America’s Got Talent” TV program).  He plays piano WITH NO ARMS.  Yes, you read it right.  Pianist with no arms!!!  The English subtitles are a little jilted, but you’ll get the point.  This video will renew your resolve to overcome whatever challenges you face.

Are You a Bird Brain? You May Wish You Were!

Alex the African Grey ParrotOn those days when you start to feel that your coursework is taxing your brain, take a moment to think about Alex, an African grey parrot, who was the subject of a thirty-year (1977-2007) experiment by an animal psychologist named Irene Pepperberg, initially at the University of Arizona and later at Harvard and Brandeis University. Before her work, scientists believed that a large primate brain was needed to deal with complex problems related to language and understanding and that birds were not intelligent and only used words by mimicking. Pepperberg’s accomplishments found that birds may actually be able to reason on a basic level and to use words creatively. She reported that Alex had the intelligence of a five-year-old human and the emotional level of a human two-year-old at the time of his premature death (from an unexpected catastrophic event associated with arteriosclerosis) when he was about thirty years old (the average life span for African grey parrots is fifty years). At the time of his death, he could identify 50 different objects and recognize quantities up to six and could distinguish seven colors and five shapes. He understood the concepts of “bigger,” “smaller,” “same,” and “different,” and was learning “over” and “under.” Among a number of his skills, he had a vocabulary of 150 words and appeared to have understanding of what he said. He could label an object when asked about its shape, color or material. He could also add to a limited extent, and understood the concept of zero, answering “none” when asked the difference between two objects if there was indeed no difference! When the bird was tired of being tested, he would indicate that he wanted to go back to his cage by saying, “Wanna go back.” If he said, “Wanna banana,” and was offered a nut instead, he would stare in silence, ask for the banana again, or take the nut and throw it at the researcher before requesting the item again! And talk about “famous last words,”Alex’s last words to Dr. Pepperberg were, “You be good. I love you.”

You Can’t Make it Up on the Weekend

Like many people busy with life, work, studies, family and what have you, I frequently burn the midnight oil, staying up past my preferred bedtime to complete some obligation or another.  Yet, I still must awaken the same time the next day to go to work.  As a result, I am frequently getting less than 8 hours a night on weeknights.  Sometimes, I make up for the deficit by sleeping a few extra hours on the weekend.  But recent studies indicate that it doesn’t work that way.  Click here to read why it is important to make time for sufficient sleep on a regular basis and how “playing catch up” on the weekends is not the solution.

I Want One

Ok, so this isn’t exactly cheap, but neither was the CD player, the cellular telephone or the personal computer when they first hit the market.  Once more and more people buy a new product and demand grows, the price of the item  drops for all consumers.  This product, a very simple renewable energy generator/converter (solar or wind) requires virtually no installation and makes electricity for your home.  I think I will save up for one and help drive the price down for everyone.  (It costs $600-$900 for the smaller ones and up to $3500 for the larger one.)  It is so simple, I cannot imagine that this product would not be in every home within 10 years.  Whattya think?  Could you plug your laptop into this and do your Allen School Online coursework?

Surgical Hand Transplant Technology Takes a Step Forward

Did you know that more than 40 people have successfully completed surgical re-attachment of their lost limbs with new human hands provided by deceased donors?  Its true.  The French first accomplished this miraculous medical feat in 1998 and since then more than 40 have been given back the use of a lost hand or hands.  10 in the US alone. Well, it seems that UCLA has announced plans to open a hand transplant facility in the US soon.  They are seeking volunteers – returning war veterans or others who have recently lost their hands – to participate in this still very experimental procedure.  Click here to read more about this amazing medical story.

Five Online Job Hunting Mistakes

Most of our reporting on how to succeed in the job hunt has focused on resume writing and interview skills/practices.  However, as many of you online students are all too aware, there is a lot of job hunting that goes on over the Internet.  Wouldn’t ya know it, there are etiquette mistakes to be made in the online job hunt just as sure as there are in the real world.  Here’s a link to a great article about how to avoid common online job hunting gaffes, SNAFUs and faux pas.

Spell Check Isn’t Enough to Avoid These Grammar Blunders

Kaboodle.com had this great list of common grammatical blunders that you really should avoid when writing resumes and cover letters.  The takeaway message here is that spell check is not enough because sometimes misspellings form other actual words that are not spelled wrong, but mean something entirely different.  Here (over the fold) are some examples from the Kaboodle.com article. Continue reading…

Manpower Report Names top 5 Strongest Job Markets

Manpower, a leading staffing services organization, released its report on the top 5 strongest job markets in the US.  This year, with unemployment at very high levels, it is even more critical than ever to know where the jobs are.  The top 5 markets are: No. 1 Strongest Job Market: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va. No. 2 Strongest Job Market: San Antonio, TX  No. 3 Strongest Job Market: Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, S.C. No. 4 Strongest Job Market: El Paso, Texas No. 5 Strongest Job Market: Raleigh-Cary, N.C. For the details on each market including information on what sectors and individual organizations are hiring in each of these metro areas, click here to read the full report.

An Attractive Market to Consider

If you’re a recent graduate and considering a move to a different market to kick off your new career, consider South Florida.  Now I know what you’re saying.  Yes, South Florida has been one of the hardest hit markets in the US.  But according to an article from Bloomberg, the excessive build up of luxury condo towers in the vibrant, multicultural gateway that is Miami – the build up of inventory that was in part to blame for the collapse of that metro market – has had an unexpected consequence.  It seems that the owners of those lavish, extravagant (but empty) towers are getting tired of taking a beating.  Knowing they will not sell them anytime soon, many have taken to renting these beautiful, often ocean-view apartments at fairly affordable rates.  As a result, the downtown area of Miami is experiencing a rebirth.  Whole communities of renters have reinvigorated the neighborhoods there and the tropical lifestyle one can lead there is absolutley wonderful.  I know because I have been spending time in the Miami metro area since 1975.  It is a paradisical place to spend time.  Why not consider renting a luxury condo unit and working amidst the azure waters of a tropical paradise?