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Trust yourself – recent things I’ve learnt about learning

12 Jan

These few days have been very interesting as I’ve come across a few disparate nuggets about learning:

Time management: read Two Awesome Hours by Josh Davis. I tend not to spend my time on self-help books as I find a lot of it written by people whose careers are based on the self-help consultancy. This book was recommended as offering neurology-based practical advice. I found the first portion of it amazing, and the end basically a recap. But a few takeaways I found particularly useful:

  1. Take the time to consider your next move: this is something my husband does. He’s amazingly efficient at entering fields he has previously little knowledge about and learning the job. Part of this is due to his strategic use of time: instead of just taking the tasks that he comes across (such as slogging through 80 unread messages in his inbox), he actually tries to be aware of what would be the best use of this next segment of time he has coming up. This is probably why he finds my way of working around the house rather bewildering – I would stop on my way to do something I had determined as important – to do a little cleaning up here, a little crafting there – and leave partially finished projects all over the place, whilst my main work is disregarded. My husband actually plans ahead what he’s going to use this segment of time to do (ex: “I need time to cleanup X’mas tree + tie up loose travel plans for vacation Saturday evening”). This has also made our partnership easier as I am informed that this time I’m expected to mind the kids.
  2. Notice what effects your energy level and mood: If I do small crafts and chores in the morning, when I’m more alert after coffee, I hit an energy lull that pretty much dumps my afternoon for productive mind work down the toilet. However, if I study in the morning, I can do small crafts and chores when I hit my energy lull, because it requires much less alertness, and at that point I’m usually buzzing with the studying endorphins I got in the morning. I’m also becoming more aware of how social media taps my attention so that I might feel falsely refreshed whilst physically being really exhausted. Plus, that’s also a large segment of time that I’m not actually making progress in the things that matter. Besides social media, there are other rabbit holes I have to be aware of: I now know that reading about child abuse and mass murders can be very emotional and absorbing for me, so now I’m consciously trying to avoid clicking on these headlines or looking into the history of these things. If I know I’m going to be picking up the children next, I have to make sure that I’ve achieved something in the day so I don’t (irrationally) resent them for interrupting my time, and the things I do just before I pick them up have to be something I can just drop at the moment.
  3. The environment: Sitting upstairs vs sitting downstairs. I’ve always found myself more alert when there’s good lighting. Turns out the color of the lighting also matters: lightbulbs on the blue spectrum foster productivity, lightbulbs on the yellow spectrum foster creativity.

    Info from other sources I found useful:

  4. Staying challenged with new material/hobbies/levels: As a child, I’ve been pretty lackadaisical about practicing, because I was required to. Now that I realized I actually want to play piano, I’m finding out that I need to make sure I’m working on something harder while recapping pieces I’ve become more fluent at. This keeps me challenged and wanting to keep practicing.
  5. Recapping things to oneself instead of simply reading. Simply reading, underlining, and making notes from the book only gives one a sense of accomplishment. When I was studying for Organic Chem and Biochem, I was drawn to sitting in front of a blank note pad (interestingly, I even found that it had to be a certain size and placed horizontally), where I would recap what I had learned. I was particularly inspired by how this lady presented the information. It’s definitely something she learned well enough to explain so methodically. A delight to listen to.

    When studying for Immunology, I was drawn to making my own flashcards to test myself. And I wouldn’t be writing the flashcards out from the textbook, but from what I’d recalled I’d just read. After finishing a ‘set’ of flashcards, I would then refer to the textbook to make sure I’d gotten everything right. Usually by the time I’d prepared the flashcards, I only needed them for as refreshers when I felt I had gone foggy on the specifics. Writing out the flashcards on a notebook format was so slow though that I stopped doing it after a few chapters. Recently, I read about two online programs that let you create your own flashcards for free! Will have to try them out next time! ( & )

    Recently playing with duolingo, I’ve found myself gradually drawn to writing new vocab down, from memory, as I find my recall of new vocab slipping when I simply learn from the program (what I’ve heard people call the saturation point for new information). It’s a pretty awesome program btw. Which brings me to:

  6. Not telling people about your big goals: You know as a kid you often get asked what your dream is? When you’re applying to programs? My parents have often found me “noncommittal” when I chose not to tell them about certain goals that I was actually working for. It appears my instincts were right. The more you tell people, the more gratified you feel about it in the moment and the less likely you will work towards your goals.

    So Imma gonna go shut up now. : )



And why do they matter, these folks of no consequence?

27 Oct

Was reading The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum. It is so nice. You know, they used to believe that you could tell whether a book was written by a man or a woman. I do feel it sometimes too – when a book is written by a very sloppy man, or a rather effusive woman, or an angry confused, and it shows. It does.

And sometimes you can feel the author is trying to hold her gender in check. And writes in intentionally clinical tones. This particularly refers to women. We do have a good deal of baggage on that front. Such as – we still apparently test poorly in maths when in co-ed situations. And it is indeed a biological need, for us females to be aware of men, and of power, and how best to gain favor and care for ourselves and offspring. We are aware even in our sleep. But this is another topic.

Anyway. This is one of those fine books where I was not even aware of the author’s gender or preferences, until I looked for the author’s name to note it here.

In the chapter concerning arsenic, a little story cropped up concerning a 16 year old boy who was filling cans with benzene solvent in a small garage in the Bronx. He expired from the fumes. The city toxicologist had invented a means to extract benzene from various organs of the dead boy. Due to this evidence, a public warning was issued that garage owners should ventilate their building when handling benzene.

I wondered idly whether people in the year 1923 should have been in any way bothered over the death of an unnamed 16 year old working in a garage.

And then, I realized with shame, that yes, indeed they should be. Ought to be.

It is hard to care, for one or for millions, when we are constantly bombarded with news of tragedies. It is hard not to feel numbed. It is hard not to want to put one in one cubby hole and the other into a lesser cubby hole.

But if the folks of no consequence were never given consequence, even in their death, why, what a stinking hellhole we all would be living in.

Public discourse/discussion: What is not profitable

25 Jun

Madame Josse: Paloma, tu es une petite fille très intelligente, mais on peut être très intelligent et très démuni. Très lucid et très malheureux.

Paloma: Je ne vois que la psychanalyse pour concurrencer les religions dans l’amour des souffrances qui durent.
Père Josse: Qu’est-ce qui te fait dire ça?
Paloma: Que ma mère nous annonce comme si c’était un motif pour faire couler le champagne à flot que ça fait dix ans pile qu’elle est en analyse.
Père Josse: Ben oui. Oui. C’est très bien, non?
Paloma: Non. Ce qu’elle ne dit pas, c’est que ça fait aussi dix ans pile qu’elle prend des antidépresseurs. Mais visiblement elle fait pas le lien. Elle fait le lien entre ses dix années d’analyse, ses trois heures par jour à pulvériser des plantes vertes et son impressionnante consommation de substances remboursées par la sécurité sociale.
                                                                             from  L’Élégance du hérisson , FILM
Madame Josse: Paloma, you’re a very intelligent girl, but you can be intelligent and helpless. Very lucid and very unhappy.
Paloma: Only psychoanalysis rivals religion for love of suffering.
Father Josse: Why do you say that?
Paloma: My mother wants to break out the champagne to celebrate ten years in therapy.
Father: But yes. Yes, that’s good isn’t it?
Paloma: No, she’s been on antidepressants for ten years too. But she doesn’t see the link. Between ten years in therapy, her love of her plants, and her mass consumption of prescription drugs.
Psychoanalysis is not profitable for solving problems of the public sphere.
(perhaps try Adler).
Paloma, from the Elegance of the Hedgehog

Paloma, from the Elegance of the Hedgehog

Edit: Recently came across a book by Julian Barnes that may illustrate a similar issue as above, called Talking It Over.

where hope for man continues

28 May

There are gentle giants among us

whose height we do not see

who haul the great work of our civilization

and tend the gardens of our humanity

We hope to see them often

we long for ones to laude

but the gentle giants among us

their worth is in their love

their work is quiet tending

they do not long for thrones

but all their wish and yearning

is in the others height

And to grow a human is to

let yourself subside

so that we are not aware

when we’re tended, by and by

Who are these giants, that save us

from the chaos of our vice?

How do they rise? What made them be?

Where is the gentle giant in me?

Should I let my child use an iPad? A response

15 May

When the diaper leaks

Recently read this article from Children’s MD blog. They usually have very good posts, but I disagree with this mom doc’s opinion on allowing children to use ipads.

Children’s short attention span and immature working capacities often make it difficult for adults to do the tasks that need to be done. Offering them a distraction may seem like the way to go. I am sure there are electronic programs/apps that are quite good, I have simply not met any yet that I have found truly challenging in a way that has helped me learn in a lasting manner.

As archaic as it is, our minds are used to learning by doing, by feeling the rough grooves in the alphabet blocks….etc. Children feel and remember these sensations much more strongly than we as adults do. It is the building blocks of their memory and their connection to our world and humanity…

View original post 1,021 more words

2 Feb

The Idealogue

Dear Ms. Hussey,

I was reading your paper ‘Are Social Welfare Policies ‘Pro-life’? And I have a question concerning the distinction of the efficacy of the policy.
I believe there is a distinction between basic welfare and more advanced social assistance. As in: there may be stages in women’s economy of their choices that can be reflected by the amount, and kind, of social assistance available.

Hypothesis of stages:
1. Women who do not regularly use contraceptives (reflection of lower access/awareness or greater masochism) who do not abort due to lack of abortion resources and/or hope for planning of future (such as Emily Oster’s study of how awareness of AIDS does not lower risky sexual behavior due to low prospective of future life quality in certain communities )

2. Women who do not regularly use contraceptives but abort to increase future prospects.

3. Women who regularly use contraceptives and…

View original post 188 more words

But We have Everything To Lose.

12 Oct

Yesterday when we went to try to see the National Holiday Performance in front of the Presidential Building, a middle-aged man, fairly respectably dressed and clean shaven, went up to Mike to speak to him.


Among the things he said, are:


“This is your wife? Oh, I cannot find girlfriend/wife… it is too late for me.”

“I am a genius.”

“I belong to the Impeach President Ma campaign. We need to impeach Ma and make me president.”

“I can save the nation.” (Does superman pose)

(points at my mouth) “I can fix your teeth, I am a dentist.”


at this point I was became aware that he is not just a friendly guy who wants to talk to us, but that he may be a friendly guy who is not very sane.

I feel sad that, in many cases here in Taiwan, sometimes the imagery we have of protests are of those led by the mentally deranged. The lone rickety truck coming down the road covered in handwritten white banners, loudspeakers proclaiming to people that “Taiwan is a democratic nation, a land of freedom, and because of that we shall reclaim DiaoYuTai Islands and unite with our fellow countrymen across the border. WE ARE THE GREAT CHINESE PEOPLE.” along with patriotic Maoist music blaring. The men waving banners at the police that said “Preserve the Chen Shuei-Bien Spirit, make Taiwan independent.” (Not the popular mascot: Chen is currently being charged for gross corruption/siphoning of national funds) . The guy on our facebook page claiming “To support renewable energy is to act as the mouthpiece of the Energy Bureau. It would be making the mistakes of our grandparents – THEY thought petroleum was a panacea to humanity’s needs. Now it is running out. WHAT IF WE SHOULD USE UP THE SUN?”


I’d like to think that they have sacrificed their brains due to the ills of our societal structure, that they have broken under the continuous barrage of injustice that was rained upon them, that they are trying to be the harbingers of truth, and somehow tipped so far into the truth that they came out into the other side – into paranoia. The reality may be more unfortunate. That we are such sheep, that those who work the hardest, who employ the most drastic moves, to get their voices heard, are those who have nothing to lose.


I should take a page from their book, perhaps.


Back to the man we met. I pointed in the direction where the crowd was going and made that we had to go see the parade, I went up to a police officer to ask for directions. Thankfully he drifted away to gestulate at other people. We were not successful in getting near the presidential building to view the performance, so we took some pictures of cops blockading the throughfares and then, went to have breakfast.


22 Mar

台灣知識普及率很高,衛教宣傳做的很完善,大部份的國民都知道氣候變遷這回事,也知道人奶是對寶寶最好的營養。不過我最近常聽到親戚朋友說:”奶不夠,沒辦法,要補充奶粉。“ 還有 “要給小朋友喝水。” ,一個新手媽媽往往會在各意見下感到氣餒,而不在繼續哺乳。可是天生奶量少的人真的是非常少數,錯過寶貴的機會給寶貝最好的是件遺憾的事。國外哺乳協會行之有年,他們的網站上有很多很棒且有科學根據的哺乳知識,在此我希望可以跟大家分享一些我讀到對我最有用的知訊,打破一些迷失,幫助我們台灣的新手媽媽成功哺喂自己的寶貝!

  1. 奶量不夠,快用奶粉!    剛生完小baby到第二,三天漲奶,雖然感覺漲很大,這個時候奶還是沒有通暢,出來只有一點點,寶寶又在學習吸,往往會吸不到很生氣。這不代表妳奶不夠!還是要讓飢餓的寶寶努力吸。我有個朋友小朋友有黃疸,醫院看得時候會給小朋友餵奶粉,媽媽用集乳器吸吸的很少,這時候她的醫院就說她奶不夠,要給小朋友餵奶粉。這是不對的!這時候該給乳房的刺激給了奶瓶,就是告訴奶頭它沒有被需要,我朋友把寶貝接回家的時候奶量就很少,很緊張寶寶吃不夠所以繼續用奶粉補充,結果就繼續奶量不夠 … 這時候媽媽要信任自己,還是繼續讓寶寶練習吸。習慣喝奶瓶的寶寶容易偷懶(因為奶瓶奶量出來較多較快),有時在媽媽奶頭上會生氣不努力,這是正常,可是如果不讓他練習小寶貝就不會學習吸奶頭了!這個時候媽媽有可能會很不舒服,因為妳的奶頭在被“雕塑”,且剛出生的小嬰兒還在學習吸,有可能姿勢不正確,請不要氣餒!熬過這一關的正常哺乳將不會痛,且相當美好的!如果非常不舒服可以考慮找哺乳門診請醫生幫妳看看是哪裡有問題(可能乳腺堵塞,感染,乳頭龜裂…等等)。* 另外,研究顯示,剛出生的黃疸喂母奶可以幫小朋友狀況好轉。
  2. 要給小朋友喝水!    母奶裡面含有小朋友所有需要的養分,包括水分!如果妳喝喝看自己的奶,會發現它比牛奶還要稀,所以水分含量絕對比牛奶還要高。完全喝母奶的嬰兒不需要另外補充水分。(喂奶粉的才可能需要。)
  3. 媽媽要遠行,暫時幾天不喂奶    我有個朋友的老婆生完不久回去娘家幾天,寶貝給先生看著,然後她回來的時候奶就枯掉了! 沒有刺激就沒有奶啊!遠行的時候至少還是要吸奶喔!*電動吸奶器通常會比手動的能力較強,不過單純用吸奶器喂母奶的媽媽會有較高比率奶量後來漸漸下降,所以如果容許還是盡量一天有時間是讓寶寶實吸妳的乳頭。
  4. 乳房漲的才給小朋友吸    小嬰兒是很動物的,餓了需要喝奶就應該讓他喝,他可以藉此調節媽媽的奶量,調節到適合他的量。所以不是看妳,是看他。
  5. 喝奶一定要給小朋友限制時間,不然他會無理取鬧    如上,小朋友是很動物的,他真的是餓了所以想喝奶,真的不舒服希望人照顧。在他需要照顧的時候不理他,小朋友哭久了也不會哭,有人說是他放棄了,不相信大人會照顧他的需求。這是不信任關係的開端!

Some tips:

  • 一邊乳房吸軟了再換邊:奶是持續再製造,不會吸到完全空,可是會吸到流量變很少,這時候乳房呈現“有點空”的狀態,會告訴身體要再製造更多, 滿滿的乳房會告訴身體:”不要再製造喔!“ ,所以把一邊乳房吸軟,再換令一邊,可以維持乳量。 我都是自己大約估計至少六個小時要換邊,以防乳房覺得沒有刺激就量產不力!
  • 胸部有一邊硬硬的,可能有點紅有點痛,寶寶吸這個奶頭特別容易生氣,這是什麼回事?這有可能奶腺堵住了,這樣下去容易發炎,細菌感染,會讓媽媽胸部很痛喔!這個時候可以用溫熱毛巾敷,硬塊以外向內(朝乳頭)的方向按摩,並努力讓寶寶吸那邊(如果已經軟了,可以剛吸的時候讓寶寶吸那邊,再換邊,因為寶寶剛開始吸的時候最用力)。另外,感染的胸部還是可以繼續哺乳,不會對小朋友的健康造成影響。
  • 胸部好像有一邊大一邊小?我剛開始哺乳的時候右邊乳腺堵住了,我沒有馬上察覺,只是覺得寶寶吸右邊比較容易生氣,所以不知不覺我就讓他多吸左邊。沒想到因此造成大小乳!這個後來矯正是讓寶寶吸右邊到軟還是繼續多吸一點,盡量讓左右吸的時間一樣或右邊更多,一個月漸漸矯正回來。不過據我所知這個現象不是永久的,可以放心。斷奶之後乳房還是會回到原來小小的罩杯啦!(啜~)
  • 壓力會使奶量下降:澳洲最近Christchurch地震,許多家庭都流離失所,澳洲的哺乳媽媽們這時候面臨強大的壓力,許多提到奶量在這個時段驟降。另外有的也是忙著整理房子沒有時間經常餵奶,造成奶頭沒有足夠的刺激,奶量再受打擊! 所以如果妳奶量突然降,也可以考慮是不是有事情讓壓力最近突然很大。這個現象是暫時的,請不要氣餒!





  • 寶寶會比較聰明喔!
  • 有研究顯示,寶寶生病的時候,不用等到媽媽生病,吸奶的過程就會把病菌的消息傳給媽媽的奶,媽媽的奶就會製造抗體幫寶寶抵抗病毒,縮短病程!
  • 寶寶會跟媽媽的關係更親密,很幸福喔!
  • 可以省很多很多奶粉錢!
  • 跟寶寶外出的時候隨時都可以有東西給寶寶吃!不用找地方消毒奶瓶裝熱水等等。(在環境衛生條件不佳的地方母乳更好用!)


  • 台灣法律規定母親在公共場所哺乳不得遭驅離。
  • 用嬰兒背巾或背袋裡哺乳人家往往是看不到的!若擔心可以用圍巾稍微遮一下。我都邊走路邊哺乳呢!



  • 不一定需要買哺乳衣才可以哺乳。而哺乳內衣盡量試穿拉拉看角度再買,我有網路上買到一個非常難扳下來露出乳頭,寶寶等著我喬好都生氣了!
  • 有很多百貨公司,大眾運輸系統和公家機關都漸漸有哺乳室了!有些環境還蠻優的!







感謝我的Doula Angie Chang 給我們夫妻上的產前課程,我老公的支持鼓勵和願意一直學習新知,台安醫院給我們在醫院生產後良好哺乳環境的堅持,還有青年診所楊醫師的溫暖叮嚀照顧,也感謝台灣政策對哺乳媽媽的支持!



7 Jul

Imagine a set of stairs leading to heaven. Have you got that in you mind already? A set of stairs that leads to heaven. Hold that image in your mind. Now think about it, what does it look like? Don’t scroll down just yet, think about it.






















I would bet that your stairs are narrow and either go up at more than a sixty degree angle, or spiral upwards. The steps are not wide – at most as wide as a man’s foot, and two people across. It might be made of transparent material, something that makes it appear ethereal and impossible…

Now why is that? Why would the first image that comes to our minds be steps that are narrow instead of wide? Going up at sharp angles instead of in gradual inclines? Because our minds are economical machines – we naturally calculate what is most efficient. What would be most efficient are stairs that do not take up too much air space over earth and do not use too much material. Uncomfortable climbing, yes, but who said the path to heaven is easy?

Invalidating time travel into the past

24 Nov

Suppose it is possible for a device that allows time travel into the past. It is in its preliminary stages so understandably scientists are wary of using human subjects. Instead, they use an object – a ball, for example. Now, in these initial testings the traveling can only go as far back as a few minutes. What should conceivably happen is this – the ball would appear in its future position a few minutes before the experiment is initiated. How can the scientists involved prove that the ball in the past is indeed the ball from the future? For example: The ball is ‘sent out’ at 10 AM and appears in the room at 9:54 AM, going back six minutes. A very primitive method of confirmation (as they do in magic tricks) would be to ask one of the audiences for an object to attach onto the ball at 9:58 AM. A ribbon from a woman’s head, for instance.

Now comes the complication. The ribbon should appear before it has been decided as a piece for evidence. There are two reasons why this is impossible.

1. The ribbon would be present in the room the same time the ribbon is on the woman’s head. This would require the object to be present twice in the same moment, going against the Lavoisier’s law of conservation of mass.

2. Human choice is as capricious as chance. As far as we know the universe cannot predict our behavior, not to say the vagaries of the choice of a single ribbon (suppose she had many?) So to have the ribbon confirmed as an object from the future requires that the choice in the future is already set in stone, or else we could be facing a ping pong situation in which time is constantly on a standstill fluctuation due to the indecisiveness of the future individual. Either that, or it’d all just split into separate universes and take care of itself that way. That is a fanciful aberration, however. In all rationality, for the ribbon to be proven necessitates the chance of human choice. There is also the question of future actions influenced by past occurrences. What would happen if the ball were later decided not to be sent in tot e past after seeing the ball in the past already? Would we (a). Forget it because it never happened.(2). Be forced by some supernatural power to send the ball back (thus erasing human will or becoming hostage to our earlier choices?)

After contemplating these impossibilities mankind often comes to the conclusion of fairness – the human idea of fairness, that is. In a way, traveling into the past presents an unfair advantage to the party concerned in contrast to the other elements of the universe, so a punishment must be exacted. A scenario like the hopelessly bad future in The Butterfly Effect, perhaps. (Which I absolutely hated because I abhor sad endings) Punishment as a balancing element, however, is a fairly human concept that can in no way be judged for absolute fairness according to the standards of nature that we have observed so far. (For example, we punish people for crimes they commit, and that seems to create a measure of equality in situation – having them ‘pay’ for their crimes. This system, however, in no way assures that people really ‘get what they deserve’. Prison is not an equal punishment for people of all temperaments; some stand it better than others.)

Ps: This is a purely theoretical work that just came to my mind while I was staring into space in class. I have nearly no understanding of time theories in the world of physics or the land of science fiction, so please excuse me if this comes out sounding amateurish. I would very much enjoy it if someone could correct me.