Thursday, May 22, 2014


I read an article called "Why Do Millennials Not UnderstandRacism?" the other day. My kneejerk reaction for most articles that have "Why Millennials ______" in the title is blind hatred-- I've seen a few too many op-eds about how we're ruining the earth with our technology, or whatever-- but in this case, I was pleasantly surprised.

The article hits on the fact that most people of my (or our-- I don't know your life) generation believe in something called "colorblindness," or claiming that they "don't see" race, and how this is actually detrimental:
"Compared with previous generations, they’re more tolerant and diverse and profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness. At the same time, however, they’re committed to an ideal of colorblindness that leaves them uncomfortable with race, opposed to measures to reduce racial inequality, and a bit confused about what racism is.
 Seventy-three percent believe that “never considering race would improve society,” and 90 percent say that “everyone should be treated the same regardless of race.”
From these results, it’s clear that—like most Americans—millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, justified by race, that you solve by removing race from the equation. If we ignore skin color in our decisions, then there can’t be racism.The problem is that racism isn’t reducible to “different treatment.” Since if it is, measures to ameliorate racial inequality—like the Voting Rights Act—would be as “racist” as the policies that necessitated them. No, racism is better understood as white supremacy—anything that furthers a broad hierarchy of racist inequity, where whites possess the greatest share of power, respect, and resources, and blacks the least.Millennials have grown up in a world where we talk about race without racism—or don’t talk about it at all—and where “skin color” is the explanation for racial inequality, as if ghettos are ghettos because they are black, and not because they were created. As such, their views on racism—where you fight bias by denying it matters to outcomes—are muddled and confused.Which gets to the irony of this survey: A generation that hates racism but chooses colorblindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it."
I don't have the knowledge or authority to speak on the subject, but it's certainly worth thinking about. The problems with colorblindness were something I was already familiar with, but I was really impressed that  my physical anthropology class covered it-- we learned that race is an entirely societal construct, but also that ignoring it serves to ignore how it's perpetuated structurally. Which I feel is a really rare thing for a lower division class to talk about. Though that may just be because my English teacher last semester made us read articles on how the ideal future is one in which we just claim whatever ethnicity we think is cool, as though that's a solution to anything.

Stay classy,


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Physical connection

Yoga can be used as a great measuring stick for our personal development. If we can slow our movements to the point where our attention is equally divided between our movement and our breathing, we can begin to notice how the two are connected. Then, we can begin to notice what happens when we alter our breathing; we can notice the difference in our movement.

Take sixty seconds, five times a day, to breathe calmly. If we get accustomed to that, eventually we will begin to spontaneously breathe calmly under stress.

If we notice our breathing, we can begin to control it. When we're upset, chances are our breathing has become shallow. If we notice this, and consciously try to move our breathing down to our belly, we can begin to control our emotions. Practice breathing smoothly while exercising. Control of breathing leads to control of emotions.

The physical body can be taken as a metaphor for our entire bio-psycho-social being. If we learn methods of relaxation, balance, and focus under pressure, we can tap into psychological states.

All exercise generates energy; yoga unlocks that energy, and makes it available for use.

Yoga realigns our muscles, tendons, joints, etc., correcting the micro-traumas our exercise inflicts.

Breathing, motion, and alignment. The three components of movement. They are interrelated. If any one changes, the other two change. Stress tends to dis-integrate the system, causing shallower breathing, tightened muscles, bad posture. The more sensitive we are to our body, the more we can manage stress.


Dave Roel.
The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.
- Morrie Schwartz

Monday, May 19, 2014

Olla podrida

If you set goals in all three areas of health, career and relationships, your demons will attempt to distract you away from your path. You need to have some form of emotional processing practice in place to handle them.

Take fifteen minutes in the morning to visualize your goals in all three areas, five minutes each. You might consider taking fifteen minutes at night, to do the same, bookending your day.

The reason yoga, tai chi, or other forms of body-mind/breathing disciplines are important is because they help manage energy, providing us with the fuel to work toward our goals.

Learn how to apply an appropriate amount of time and energy and attention to given tasks. When time is limited, focus on the tasks that are critically important to to our long term goals of maintaining health in body, finances and interpersonal.

Find others. No matter what you are trying to do, someone else has done it before. Find them, and learn from them.

The conscious mind is a wonderful tool, but a lousy master. Although it tries to convince us that it is in charge. The conscious mind alone cannot get us to our goals. Learn to access the subconscious mind: meditation, yoga, therapy, etc. The real work is always done beneath the surface.

All our work in life must rest on a solid foundation of love. Love of self, love of others, love of the world.

We are beings designed to evolve, to grow, to heal, to move, to love.


Dave Roel.
Every action (or non action) has a reaction. Keep that in mind and choose your steps wisely.
- Jennifer Cusano

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sanctification of the platypus

Do you change the way you appreciate a work depending on what you learn about the artist? Or do you just take every work on its own terms, and judge it independently of anything you might know or learn about the artist? Does knowing the background of the artist make our enjoyment of the art richer? Will a bad work become a good work? Do we judge a work solely by how it affects us? Does knowing about the the artist’s ethical lapses make a good work bad? Does knowing the great qualities of the artist make a bad work more favorable? Do we disqualify a great work when we learn that the artist was immoral? Do we eagerly read a bad novel when we learn that its author lived an exemplary life? Jean Genet was a criminal, a thief, a rapist, yet wrote novels and poetry and plays of such beauty and splendor that Sartre called him a saint. Artists are human; flawed and problematic. There are few artists who don’t have some skeletons we would find troublesome; as there are few humans who don’t. If you remove all art from consideration from artists we would find objectionable, we would be left with few works. If you limited yourself to food from countries whose politics you agreed with, you’d starve. We are all compromised. We are all flawed. None of us exempt. We accommodate as we can, to get by in this world. Perhaps we can do no else.


TOTEM from caleb wood on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
Listen a hundred times; ponder a thousand times; speak once.
- Turkish proverb

Thursday, May 15, 2014


As I'm rushing to do my final projects, I'm realizing that there's a lot of potentially academic tools that I haven't been taking full advantage of until recently. These things are making the process a whole lot easier:
  • Google Drive. This one is... the most obvious, I know, but I really hadn't been using it until this year. If you're unfamiliar with it, Drive is like a combination of a flash drive, collaborative Skype, and accessible Word documents. My debate group did our entire project on Google Drive. I've been typing and saving my notes in Google Drive. I even put an electronic copy of one of my textbooks on Drive (the legality of which I now realize is a little questionable), so I can access it from any computer. It's fantastic.
  • Prezi. I hadn't even heard of Prezi until recently. While it's a great alternative for people who don't have Power Point (i.e. people with Macs), using it honestly sort of annoys me. It allows you to create more dynamic presentations and gives you TONS of options for modifying the look of it.  My roommate, who is much more of a perfectionist than I am, loves it. So it really depends on how much control you want to have over these things. Google Drive also has a Power Point feature if, like me, you find Prezi to be overwhelming.
  • OmmWriter. I've been using this for a while just for some of my own writing projects, but it recently occurred to me that I could be using it for school, too. It's free writing software that, when you open it, engulfs your entire screen so as to block out distractions. It even has some ambient, near-yoga music noises going on, if you find that soothing.

Stay classy,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What you got to have

Here's what you got to have:

You got to have goals. You're just bobbing along in the ocean of life without definite goals.

You got to have belief that your goals are possible, will bring you pleasure, and will contribute to society. Also, you got to believe you have the resources (in your self, in your allies, companions, community, nation, higher power, etc.) to accomplish your goals.

You got to act, put forward the actions that will bring about your goals.

You got to be enjoying the process, be able to be happy with the way things are right now, today, as you work toward your goals. That’s called gratitude.

You got to have every one of those. Without one, you’re not going to make it.

No goals? Like playing chess without knowing the goal of the game. Eventually, you lose, because you weren’t trying to do anything other than move the pieces around.

No belief that the goals are possible or that you have the resources for them? You won’t have the morale to stick it out when it gets rough.

No action? No results.

No gratitude? You’re carrying pain around, and then you’re not going to do your best work, and you’re going to find it hard to partner up with the allies that you’ll need (you’ll always need allies).

This formula applies to our four quadrants of mind, body, spirit and self (career/finances, health, relationships and emotional processing). Every important area of life deserves this approach.


Dave Roel.
The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.
- Oprah Winfrey

Monday, May 12, 2014

Kinds of people 2

Part 1

I asked him, "Of these four, which one is right? Which is the right way of being?"

"They are all right, in their own contexts," he answered. "Each one of these worldviews emerged for the people who hold them due to their life conditions. They are appropriate worldviews for people to hold, depending on their circumstances. There is no one right way for all people to be, universally. Some ways are good at certain times, in certain situations."

"Shouldn't we be trying to encourage people to adopt that last one, the one concerned with others, and the health of the system?”

“No,” he answered. “That should not be our goal. It’s not necessary, and largely a waste of time. People can grow into being other types throughout their lives, but they only do so at their own pace, in their own time. We don’t want to eliminate any of the types. They all have something to contribute.”

"I'm not sure I can see how that only-out-for-themselves type can be any good," I said.

"That drive can actually be very useful, if it's channelled appropriately. It can be a drive to succeed, spurring us to accomplish great things," he said.

"Ah," I said. "I think I'm beginning to see. In order for there to be a healthy society, there needs to be a way for these four types to work together."

"Exactly," he said. "If any one of the types becomes dominant, it can lead to grief. A healthy society needs the balancing energy of all of them.”


Dave Roel.
Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.
- Marin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Angela Davis

I apologize for the brief inactivity! It's been an incredibly busy week, between all the final projects and everything else.

Yesterday, for instance, I had the privilege of seeing Angela Davis speak at UCLA! The gist of the talk centered on feminism and prison reform, and how they can benefit each other. I was so blown away by Angela's presence; physically, she's not very big or imposing, but she commands an enormous amount of power, and I think part of that may come from the easy eloquence she has even when speaking to a room packed with hundreds of people. There's even a certain cadence to her voice, like she's reading poetry instead of a lecture-style speech on prison reform. She's also unexpectedly hilarious, with a very dry sort of wit. It was super interesting to witness.

After her lecture, her and a panel of UCLA professors-- mainly from the gender studies department-- had a 
short discussion, which was genuinely amazing. I kind of want to go to UCLA now, but I don't want to live in the area. Tough decisions.

Afterwards, my friend who goes to UCLA showed me around the sort of downtown area of Westwood, and took me to get Persian ice cream and Lebanese food. I'd never had either before, but now I'm compulsively scouring Yelp for Lebanese bakeries closer to where I live (which, there are actually a LOT).
I went on a college tour of UCLA once before, when I was a high school senior, but I think your perspective on school changes a lot once you've actually been to a university. So in a way, I'm grateful for the experience I had with UCSD, because now I know what to look for in schools.

Stay classy,

Languishing parabolas

And with the emailing on Wednesday of my final assignment, I don’t have to come to campus until the final. I’m done, effectively. I still ought to do the studying thing, to ensure a good grade on that final. But Excel and PowerPoint aren’t that difficult. It was cool to learn PowerPoint and update my Word skills; I can use those. And I learned about some cool websites I didn’t know about. And I did enjoy the whole taking a class online thing. I thought it worked extremely well. I hope more classes become online.

I have enrolled in English 201 for summer. I took a class last summer and it was a very good experience. Hopefully, this will be, too. Summer classes are massively concentrated. There’s a whole lot of material to get through in such an accelerated timeframe. That can be pretty intense; requires a lot of focus for those few weeks. English 201 is supposed to be a pretty heavy writing and research class, so that’s a little worrying. Well, how bad can it be? People must be able to do it. If I have to stay late at the library, I can do that. If there’s going to be a lot of reading, that might be an issue. I don’t read that fast. Writing papers has never been a problem for me.

In Fall, I should be taking that Food class. That’ll be an experience, never having been much into food, historically. But I’m always open for learning new things.

Cartoon time!


Dave Roel.
You live that you may learn to love. You love that you may learn to live.
- Mikhail Naimi

Monday, May 5, 2014

Choosing our response

You get to choose your response to things. There are things in life that we can't control, certainly. Sometimes, completely unexpected things happen out of the blue that we could never have predicted. But we can choose how we want to respond to them.

When something bad unexpectedly happens, we have an immediate reaction. How to respond without reacting? First, breathe deeply. Good, calming, rhythmic, deep breathing is a great help in calming ourselves. The calmer our mind, the more choices we have available to us. We may be able to choose a response that comes from a higher version of our self. We have more choices than we initially think we do, with a mind that is in the middle of automatically reacting.

Now that we see our options, we can decide if there's something about the situation that can be changed. When things can't be changed, we can still frame it in a positive way, and begin to make a plan to negotiate the situation with skill and grace.

We never have to accept a situation that doesn't serve us. If we see the situation with clarity and understanding, we can deal with it skillfully, and begin to take the steps to make things different.

When we look at our previous responses to things, it can be useful to analyze what the results were. What responses worked, brought us desirable results, and what responses brought us unfavorable results. Knowing that can certainly inform our choices.

Rather than just letting the problems of life get us down, we can use them to make us stronger.


Dave Roel.
The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.
- Sonya Friedman

Saturday, May 3, 2014


We have a debate due in my archaeology class. The topic is supposed to be interesting and controversial, so, inspired by some pottery I'd seen at a museum (which I don't recommend googling unless you're fairly desensitized), I suggested homosexuality in ancient Greece. Narrowing down the debate to two clear sides, we decided on debating whether same sex relationships in ancient Greece were an expression of freedom or of deviancy, since many such relationships involved young boys with older men.

Obviously, this is fairly controversial and should make for a fun debate. But it's also important to recognize that the way we go about framing this debate-- or any controversial topic common to speech classes, like abortion, same sex adoption, or affirmative action-- has real life consequences. It could reinforce my classmates' potentially harmful preconceptions about non-heteronormativity, if we're not careful to argue for deviancy in a conscious way.

We've barely started writing up our points, but I've already learned quite a bit about how to debate on a controversial topic without using damaging or hateful arguments. My debate partner and I, who are arguing on the side of deviancy, talked about maybe reframing our title to be less negatively charged, since homosexuality is already still viewed as a deviant act. We also decided that our argument shouldn't demonize same sex relationships, even if it's just for the sake of a debate. Instead, we're doing a little more research and finding ways to argue that such socially acceptable relationships in Greece were not freedom, but an institution of male dominance, since women weren't necessarily given the same privileges in that regard. We're also looking into ideas of consent and maturity, since those are also key to our topic.

Interestingly, it also turns out that the ancient Greeks didn't identify as homosexual. They allegedly didn't even have a word for it, since it was just an accepted part of life. So with that in mind, I suggested to my group members that we frame our arguments in such a way so that we're not making assumptions about how the ancient Greeks identified, or imposing our modern western conceptions of sexuality onto another culture.

Typically, I shy away from debating topics like these because for many people, they're not just debates. While the debate teams could use whatever rhetoric they liked or "play the devil's advocate", go home, and forget about these issues, the people those issues impact can't just forget about it. But I think it's good that we're finding ways around perpetuating that problem with debates.

Stay classy,

Friday, May 2, 2014


Hey, I went to the Worldfest yesterday. There was some impressive stuff there.

I didn’t see any of the cultural dancing; there was a lot of swing dancing when I was there (which I guess is cultural of a kind). But I did see some people in traditional indigenous peoples’ dress.

The chalk art was pretty darn impressive. There’s some good artists there. There was a whale and a Walter White that really knocked me out. Wow.

There were booths that covered particular cultural regions, either by continent or culture.

There was a Francophone culture in the Americas exhibit, telling the history of the various french-speaking areas of North America; I heard the story of Evangeline, which I had never heard before.

There was an exhibit covering the Japanese Irezumi tattoo traditions. They were markings for the bravest of fighters and warriors and public servants. Today, the tradition continues, but with far less reverence, becoming associated with gang activity.

There were other exhibits, covering sexual assault, student health, social issues, etc. The health booth had a meditation poster that I dare say was better than the presentation I gave last week.

A lot of food. Food is always a big cultural identifier.

It’s good to learn about other cultures. It’s good to learn about different worldviews, different perspectives.

At the end, there was a band. They were good, I thought. But then, I’m always impressed by musicians, not being one myself.

If I owned a camera, I would have taken pictures.

Lo, a cartoon!

BULB from Dupont Andy on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
Seeking love keeps you from the awareness that you already have it—that you are it.
- Byron Katie

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Final Stretch

I can't believe it's already almost-May! The thing about having been on a quarter-system schedule is you forget about the most difficult parts of semester schedules: the end of them. I have a giant paper due within the next few weeks, plus a group project, PLUS finals. I've totally forgotten how to do in class essays. It's all kind of a mess.

I feel like everyone's got a giant mess of things to do as well, and I don't really have any suggestions. Budgeting your time and getting into the groove of a schedule is always helpful, though I wish I actually practiced what I preach in that regard. But here's some things I've been doing to release stress, and they might be helpful to others as well:
  • Playing an instrument. I've decided that whenever I get too frustrated with something, I'm going to practice bass. That way, I calm down while doing something productive. It's sort of a win-win, unless, you know, I get frustrated with bass.
  • Playing video games. Same idea, slightly less productive. I feel like Mass Effect is definitely a good option here, unless the idea of a choose-your-own-adventure game scares you.
  • Hiking. I've been meaning to do this more often, but just taking the time to walk for miles with a friend or two in nature is actually pretty therapeutic. Typically, you know what you're getting into and you can decide exactly how much you want to exert yourself.
  • Cleaning? This one surprised me. Maybe it's because I have my own apartment now, but I've actually started... stress cleaning. It definitely is beneficial though, because once you actually get down to do your work, you have a clean, organized environment. It makes the process a little less hectic.

Stay classy,

Monday, April 28, 2014


Managing stress is certainly a big part of personal wellness. With everything that we do in our modern world, it can be easy to neglect ourselves and our needs. If we don't spend a necessary amount of time on ourselves, we won't be as effective in our activities. If we’re constantly frazzled and harried, then we won’t be giving our responsibilities and obligations our best self—we’ll be giving them a self that’s running at half-power or worse. It's very important for us to pay attention to self-care, to maintain our balance in living healthy and well, internally, as well as being externally accomplished.

There are many techniques that we can use to practice good self-care. Exercise is certainly very beneficial to help maintain our mood and energy. Meditation is a tremendous tool, as well. Diet certainly is. Maintaining a supportive network of friends and associates, who we can rely on to provide us with good resources when we need them, or just to lend a sympathetic ear, when that's needed. Having a spiritual practice of some kind can be a great source of comfort and a calming presence in our lives. Even owning a pet can be a helpful way to maintain good self-care.

Make sure to set aside an amount of time out of every day to do something that is just for you. Not for your job, not for your friends or family, not for your schoolwork, just something you enjoy. Even five minutes can be enough to maintain balance and centered-ness. An hour a day is even better.


Dave Roel.
Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
- Joseph Addison

Saturday, April 26, 2014

San Francisco spring break!

So over spring break, I (and, it turns out, at least three other people in my archaeology class alone) went to San Francisco! I’d never been before, so it was kind of an experience.

  • I took more public transit in the span of two days than I’ve ever taken in my life? Their transit system is so great. I’m used to LA/Long Beach, where it’s inconvenient, infrequent, and kind of gross, but transit in San Francisco is the complete opposite (although, yeah, it can still be gross).
  • I think the first day there, my friend (who lives there) took me literally almost everywhere in the span of eight hours. I arrived at eight in the morning and by three or four, we’d gone to SFSU, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Union Square, the downtown area/financial district, the ferry building, and some places along the pier.
  • The second day, we went to Haight-Ashbury and did some window shopping (as it was close to 4/20, a lot of smoke shops were having sales? which I didn’t know was a thing),  then Golden Gate Park, then went back to Union Square, and then to the Mission District for beignets.
  • There’s also apparently a lot of old-timey soda jerk places. Also macaroni places. Both of which my friend has an extensive knowledge of.
In sum, I really enjoyed myself! I definitely think I liked Seattle more, but SF is so much closer and not as much of a shock in terms of differences, so it was fun.

Stay classy,


Friday, April 25, 2014

Situational verisimilitude

So Dan calls me up, and tells me there's a show happening tonight. Cool, I say. What is it. It's a poetry slam. Cool, I like those. It's on a boat. Okay, that's weird. Wasn't expecting that. So we go to it. We get there. It seems to be some kind of birthday party for someone. The boat was smaller than I thought it would be. The gathering was a bit smaller than I thought it would be, too. But you know, new friends, cool. Some of the folks there had instruments and were playing. There was actually a lot more music than there was poetry read. But that's fine. One poem was about battleships in desert, and something about pastries. No, I don't drink, thanks. So, you're into meditation? Yes. What do you know about aroma therapy? Well, not much directly, but that can certainly be a useful technique for some people. You were at KUCI? I used to do a show there. Oh, cool. Foot bath? That sounds interesting. Yeah, I've looked into alternative health stuff, actually, I've interviewed several people from various alternative health fields on my podcast. Would you be interested in coming on sometime? Cool. Hey, have you heard of this author? Check him out, I think you’d dig him. I’ve got a lot of resources on my website. Yeah, give me your email. I’m on Facebook, I’m on Google+, I’m on Skype. What kind of keyboard do you play? Yeah, let’s keep in touch.

Yes, it is a cartoon!

TimTom from Romain SEGAUD on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much.
- Bessie A. Stanley

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fact Checking

You've probably seen plenty of articles that sound something like "Lorde Gives Anti-Capitalist Speech at the Grammy's", "How GMOs are Doing _____ and We're All Going to Die",  or "Something Nuclear Happened and We're All Going to Die." And while some of them are at least partially true (for instance, nuclear particles from the Fukushima meltdown are supposed to hit the west coast by, well, now and allegedly it won't have any negative impacts on humans or sea life, but maybe stay out of the water just in case?) a lot of them are exaggerated, misinterpreted, and sometimes straight-up fear mongering. Some articles are easy to disprove-- the Lorde example, for instance, was posted on a parody news website-- but when it comes to science-related things, it can be hard to tell what's correct if you yourself are not really scientifically (or statistically) educated. I'm obviously no expert, but here's what I look for when I try to fact check things beyond my scope of understanding:

Check the sources, author, research, etc. If the news comes from a website called something to the effect of "The Daily Sheeple", "Only Organic Foods", or anything referencing conservativism or liberalism, it's probably a biased, unreliable source. If the article got its information from something that has very little to do with what they're writing about, it's probably inaccurate. If the author is writing about the effects of nuclear waste but they're a nutritionist rather than a nuclear scientist (which has actually happened when I tried to fact check something), they probably can't be trusted to write about it accurately. And so on.

Google it. Not that this necessarily yields better sources, but I've found that a lot of scare articles were written based on misunderstandings or exaggerations by googling things. Or I've found mainstream news articles (which aren't necessarily much better) addressing the same subject and alleging to have consulted actual experts on whatever topic, which suggests that their story may be more accurate. If nothing else, googling certain headlines allows you to see what kind of news outlets are reporting the story-- and, if a majority of them are from places like The Daily Sheeple, you pretty much have your answer.

Snopes. I actually doubt that Snopes is the best way to fact check things, but generally Snopes gives you a definitive answer with lots of reasoning and sources. So you can always just fact check the fact checking.

Check the chart. There are a whole bunch of scientific/statistic procedures that may be completely meaningless to you if you haven't studied either subject in much depth, but the gist is that these procedures have a HUGE impact on the results. So, if they're not followed correctly, the results could very well be inaccurate. For the sake of convenience, I found a chart that pretty much outlines them.

Stay classy,

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pressure per unit area vs. deformation per unit length

So we're getting to the point in the semester when stress starts to get to us. Do you know the origin of the concept of stress? Hans Selye was an endocrinologist who developed much of the way we conceive of stress today. He was the first to study and describe the physical effects of stress. Selye was fluent in at least five languages, and chose the word "stress" to describe the process he was observing. It is said that, much later, he came to realize that, in his rough facility with English, he had made a bad choice. He was unaware that the word stress was used in physics, in dealing with elasticity. When a force, or stress, is applied to a surface, deformation, or strain, results. Selye realized that he had mixed the terms, and what he had called stress should rightly have been called strain. The term has stuck.

Stress should properly be considered as the pressure put on something; strain is the deformation that results. Stress comes to us (speaking on a mental/emotional level, not physical) in the forms of our obligations, responsibilities, our jobs, our schoolwork, or relationships, friends and family, unexpected emergencies, etc. Stress can affect us in many ways, and can have a negative effect on our health. It's important to remember it's not the pressure that hits us—it's whether that pressure bends us out of shape. Stress isn't the problem—strain is. Stress is a trigger for growth. As long as the stress is handled gradually, our mind and bodies can adapt to it, and grow stronger as a result. It's when the stress happens too quickly that we don't accommodate it, and we get strain. The system under strain breaks down.

We all need to learn how to manage our stress, to prevent it from becoming strain. Breathing exercises, physical exercise, meditation, yoga, massage, journaling, healthy eating, calming music, a trip to a favorite environment, etc. All good techniques for unwinding and decompressing.


Dave Roel.
Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.
- Stephen R. Covey

Friday, April 18, 2014

Stay or go

I posted an article of ten signs you should leave a relationship. Someone commented that one should try to work it out, rather than give up. Sometimes it can be worked out, and sometimes it can’t. There are some cases where getting out is the right call. Sometimes it really is time to quit. Sometimes it can’t be fixed. Knowing when that’s the case, and when it’s taking the easy way out is not a science, it’s a judgement call. There's no blanket prescription for anything. Everyone has to make a judgement call on their situation. I have known some people who have been in truly terrible abusive relationships. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how strong your own drive to fix it is; if the other person is unwilling to work towards or is incapable of working towards improvement, then there is no possibility for fixing it. A relationship can’t be fixed by just one person. Sometimes the person you’re with can't be worked with. Sometimes all you can do is get away from them.

Sometimes people stay in a bad situation out of fear, out of lack of self-agency, lack of self-esteem, financial constraints, fealty to commitment, out of shame, etc. Unhealthy thinking leads to bad decisions. If we’re in a healthy, supportive place, mentally and emotionally, we can use that as a solid foundation from which we can make positive, healthy choices.

″Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

It’s a cartoon!

Bibo from Anton Chistiakov on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.
- Epictetus

Monday, April 14, 2014


Whenever I’m asked about whether I believe in something, I always say the same thing. I say that it makes no sense to believe in anything. When you say you believe in something, you are saying that you are 100% certain that this is the case. We can’t be 100% certain of anything in this existence. There’s always some room for doubt, no matter how small. Godel proved that with his incompleteness theorem (that says that we cannot know 100% of the information of a given system), as did Heisenberg with his uncertainty principle (that says that we cannot know 100% of the information of a particle). There’s always some amount of incompleteness or uncertainty in our knowledge, and since we can never be 100% certain of anything in existence, it makes no sense to say that we believe in anything. We have our best guesses and our best stories and our best bets on what’s going on, but they are just guesses and stories and bets. We can always revise those theories upon the receipt of new information. This is the scientific approach.

When I say this, sometimes someone responds that that is a depressing worldview. I don’t see it as depressing in any way. I see it as a sane and rational way to approach the world. It leaves us open for new information, and prevents us from falling into mental traps of rigid, orthodox thinking. It seems to me to be a better way to live, anyway.


Dave Roel.
Basic human contact - the meeting of eyes, the exchanging of words - is to the psyche what oxygen is to the brain.
- Martha Beck

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Scientific Literacy

One of the reasons I liked my physical/biological anthro class so much this semester is because it stressed the importance of having some degree of scientific literacy. I knew that was important to have, but I never really realized to what extent. And I myself wasn't-- and still am not really-- scientifically literate.

There's a lot of benefits to knowing at least a little bit about how science works. I think mainly, if nothing else, it's important to know how the scientific process works. As in, while its aim is to be objective, it doesn't always succeed in that. It's also correctable; what may be the accepted theory now could change drastically, as more tests are done and new technology aids scientists in figuring things out. Science also strictly applies to things that can be tested/repeatedly retested and (dis)proven. So if there's no real way to test it (i.e. palm reading, ghosts, creationism), it's not scientific.

(That doesn't mean belief in those things is wrong, by the way. That just means it's incompatible with science-- for instance, my teacher compared religion and science to oil and water.)

The important thing to take from that is how to distinguish science from pseudoscience. The ability to do that ensures that you'll most likely be getting the most accurate information available at the time, rather than fall prey to misinformation, which often relies on fear-mongering.

The other important thing is that you realize how important knowing even a little bit about science is. It can inform your opinion on a wide variety of topics-- anything from vaccinations, to GMOs, to global climate change, to sex ed. So many of the decisions we make have something to do with science, and knowing how to educate yourself and get the most accurate information in order to make the best decisions is immensely important.

Stay classy,

Friday, April 11, 2014

Benevolent intricacies

Dig the use of the “Verb all the nouns” Hyperbole and a Half meme on the Job Fair sign. Allie Brosh would be pleased, right before siccing the copyright monster on us.

Holy wow, are the chairs in the computer lab hurty on the spine. Think I ought to bring a pillow.

My nomination for most under-used bathroom: science building, second floor.

I’m giving a small (and by small, I mean tiny, negligible, paltry, limited, meager, microscopic, minuscule, modest, short, slight, diminutive, little, sparse) presentation at the Personal Wellness Symposium on April 23 at CSUF. My presentation is an introduction to meditation. Although I’m really not going to say anything that different from what I usually talk about on my podcast, and I don’t promote that on this blog. Why is it different when it’s in person? There seems to be some kind of gravitas and weight and formality to speaking on a stage, in front of an audience of people physically present in the room. Seems more important, somehow. I don’t think it is. The information is the important thing, and it’s the same information regardless of the medium it’s delivered in. And yet, here I am promoting it anyway, like it is something different. I guess I’m just a slave to my culturation, as indeed we all are. Well, anyway, come and learn some things about personal health, wellness, general life improvement, etc. It really is a good line-up of speakers, despite my inconsequential presence on the bill.

More extensive details than the above link.

Feel like a cartoon?


Dave Roel.
No matter what's going on, or how unusual the problem, somebody else dealt with it before you. Find and learn from them.
- Daniel Keys Moran

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


It's weird, because since entering college (and ruling out environmental engineering, which I am so not cut out for) I've been pretty dead set on becoming an urban planner. The introductory courses I took at UCSD-- which really were more like urban sociology/economics/history than urban planning-- absolutely fascinated me. I didn't consider myself to really be a science-minded person, so I thought urban planning would be perfect.

My plan was to do anthropology for undergrad and then go to grad school for urban planning. That may well still be my plan, but in the course of preparing for my anthro degree, I took  a biological anthro class this semester and it's totally caught my interest. I can't put my finger on why I never liked science before-- though I suspect it has A LOT to do with my high school teachers-- but I guess when it's applied to human history and cultures and current socio-environmental issues, I suddenly become fascinated. I totally didn't expect to come out of that course with a undiscovered passion for biology and evolutionary theory.

I'm fortunate in that biological anthropology is still applicable to urban planning, or I'd probably have to make a decision between the two. Which would be scary, because while I know I'm probably cut out for learning about urban planning, I don't know how good I'd be at doing it. Alternately, I might be interested in biological anthropology now, while I'm just reading/writing about it and no labs/chemistry/physics are involved, but were any of those things to be introduced, I don't know if I'd really grasp it.

So, I mean, I was trying to come up with advice for people who might be in similar situations, or situations where they HAVE to choose between their interests, but I honestly don't have any. Except maybe that's it okay to go for something more broad but still applicable to whatever you may want to do. That's the advice one of my urban planning professors gave to me, which is partially why I'm majoring in anthropology.

Stay classy,

Monday, April 7, 2014

Short term vs. long term

Actions reveal priorities. If we say that today, we're going to exercise, but we end up spending all day watching television, that reveals our priority. Basically, we like pleasure, and dislike discomfort. Exercise or studying can be boring, difficult, uncomfortable. Playing video games or watching television is enjoyable, pleasant. We go towards pleasure and away from pain, as any organism does. Makes perfect sense, right? And it is true, as long as you view it in a short term perspective. For this afternoon, playing video games or wasting time on Facebook is pleasurable, but if you did that every day for ten years, in the long term, you'll have a whole lot of pain. You won't see it immediately, but you're building to it. And exercising or studying may be uncomfortable now, but in the long term, there will be pleasure to come from it. It’s like those studies with kids where they give them the option of taking a marshmallow now, or waiting for a while and getting more marshmallows later. Some take the immediate marshmallow, and some wait, knowing that there will be greater pleasure if they wait. We’ll want to be the kid that understands that what is short term pleasurable now will lead to long term pain, and what is short term uncomfortable now will lead to long term pleasure. And if we’ve got that, if we’re able to correctly see what leads to pain and what leads to pleasure, it won’t be difficult to have our priorities in a good place.


Dave Roel.
The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind.
- Wayne Dyer

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The (Book) List

So I'm making another list, one that I will (hopefully, eventually) actually complete this time. Except now with books-- I've read some things by some of these authors, and I already highly recommend them. If you have any suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments!

Jamaica Kincaid - I've read her short piece Girl and decided to check her out. She was born in Antigua and moved to New York to become an au pair, and a lot of her writing has to do with the subsequent experiences she had.
  • A Small Place
  • Annie John
  • Lucy

Gabriel Garcia Marquez - He writes a sort of absurd brand of magical realism, which totally appeals to me.
  • 100 Years of Solitude
  • Love in the Time of Cholera

Marie Howe - She's a poet, and I've read "Practicing" (which is sort of explicit) and "What the Living Do" (which is not-- it's also the poem one of her collections is named for) and thought both were really well-written and emotionally impactful.
  • What the Living Do

Virginia Woolf - I've never read anything by her, but lots of people have suggested her to me.  I was told to read her works in order of their publication, since the evolution of her writing style is amazing in itself.
  • To the Lighthouse
  • The Waves
  • The Years

Octavia Butler - She's a female African-American sci-fi writer, which is unfortunately not something that ever seems to happen with sci-fi. She's also amazing, so there's that.
  • Patternist series
  • Lilith's Brood series

James Baldwin - I don't know much about him, but he was a civil rights activist. I read his short story Sonny's Blues and got really into it.
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain

Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favorite books, but I never ended up reading anything else by him.
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Dandelion Wine
  • The Martian Chronicles

Junot Diaz - I've only ever read some quotes of his on activism, but he's incredibly well-spoken  and powerful.
  • This Is How You Lose Her
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Haruki Murakami - I don't actually know anything about him, but he's been recommended to me loads of times.
  • IQ84
  • Norwegian Wood

Catherynne M. Valente - Ditto with Murakami.
  • Deathless
  • Palimpsest

Friday, April 4, 2014

Reticulated observancies

So I think it's become pretty obvious that Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, etc., have no compunctions about being colossally intrusive to our privacy or handing over our information to anyone who asks. Which is fine, I'm not particularly enamored of any of those guys. Actually, I'm kind of sick of all of them. I still use their products and services, but I don't trust them. I keep my identifying information to a minimum, and I don't post anything particularly personal. I put up with them. But I won't be sad to see any of them go. Which will be history's final laugh on them, of course. They think they are irreplaceable. They're not. In a matter of a few decades, they will be history and dust. As all things eventually are.

Gigantic media and data empires will never give us a satisfying way of life. They are designed to keep us complacent consumers. I wouldn't mind throwing out every electronic device I own and replace every one with open-source, self-built Arduino stuff. I wouldn't mind living surrounded by fab lab furniture and open-source utilities. I wouldn't mind being a fringe eccentric, living on the outskirts of society's game. That can be a very fulfilling way of life.

The great philosophers, Heidegger, Nietzsche, etc., have usually told us that the modern world has turned in unhealthy directions. Our potentiality is being blocked. We have unwittingly been sent on a track; we are following programs that have been laid out for us by historical cultures — Platonist, Socratic, etc. We're repeating pre-fabricated, pre-designed, pre-configured projects that were laid out for us before we were born. This limits our potentiality — we might be something different, the philosophers tell us. We can choose to be in the world in different ways.

How about a cartoon?

The Reward from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
There comes a point in life when you realize everything you know about yourself, it's all just conditioning.
- Brian Buckner

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Staying on track

If you're taking online classes, keeping up with them can be difficult, especially later in the semester. I know for me, I have the most trouble with them at the very beginning of the semester-- when I'm still getting used to having to do actual work-- and towards the middle, when I've started to lose all motivation. Here's some tips for staying on top of your classes, online or otherwise:

  • Schedules. I've started making spreadsheets in Google Drive (or you could do them in Excel, or whatever else) of all the work I have to do for each class and when it's due. Even just updating it, I feel productive. Everything's all color-coordinated. It's much cheaper than a day planner and much more organized than a simple to do list, but it provides the satisfaction of both.
  • Set aside time. If you get into a weekly rhythm of, say, Do Class A & B's homework Monday and Wednesday, Class C's homework Friday morning, Class D's homework on the weekend, it's really easy to stay on track. Assuming, of course, that nothing unexpected bumps you off your schedule.
  • Keep track of your grades. I mean, it's good in general to know where you stand in a class so you know what you need to do to get the grades you're okay with (and whether you may need to consider withdrawing). But what I learned to do in high school is to calculate what scores you need on tests in order to pass the class and study however long you feel you need to meet that minimum. Ideally, we'd all devote our full attention to all the classes we're taking, but it often doesn't work out that way. So it's definitely helpful to know which classes you can afford to wing your way through, especially by the time finals roll around.

Full disclosure: I don't devote as much attention to school as I should or as I'd like to, but I think that's the case for a lot of people as well. Many people just can't afford to, with jobs and other responsibilities. But my point is, these tips are pretty much the minimum-- as in, even I do these things, so clearly they don't require that much effort. In my experience, they work, too. As long as you know what amount of work you personally need to put in to get passing grades.

Stay classy,

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tools to make use of

Wolfram Alpha is not as well known as it should be. Statistics, chemistry, math, physics, biology, literature, this thing can help you no matter what you're studying. Why aren't you using it? I was going to post some screen shots to show you how to use it, but just go and check it out. Click on the examples, that'll show you what WA is capable of.

Here’s some websites that you can use:

I don't have Photoshop at home, so I use online image editors for whatever Paint can't do. I use an online OCR to get text from a scan. I call myself, and read some text to my own Google phone number, to get the transcript, to get speech to text. I can upload audio to YouTube to use the closed caption feature, to get audio to text. Windows’ Snipping Tool is a daily use for me. Bitstrips or ToonDoo can create customizable cartoon-like graphics.

With all these tools, available to anyone with an internet connection, there's no shortage of ways to get your content to an audience, in a usable, manipulable format. The only consideration the tools can’t help with is the worth of your content. As Edward R. Murrow famously said, “The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.”


Dave Roel.
Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission.
- Zig Ziglar

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Another museum trip

I have another museum paper due for my art history class, so this time I decided to go to the LACMA.


I mean, the main reason I went to the LACMA was because I heard there was a Kehinde Wiley piece on display, and I've sort of been stalking him (ARTISTICALLY, not literally) ever since I saw one of his piecesat the Seattle Art Museum, but that actually ended up being one of the less interesting aspects of the trip (possibly because this piece was soccer-themed).

First off, when I went last week, it was Iranian New Year. Which I had no idea LACMA would throw a celebration for, but there was music and food and a TON of (attractive, well-dressed) people. So that was exciting, except I hate crowds and the parking was about as smooth as it is at school.

Second, they have a bunch of stuff from literally all over the world. Like, the first building I walked into had a Polynesian art/artifact section. And then my friend and I went directly to the Latin America building, which had everything from ancient Mayan weapons to some of Diego Rivera's and Frieda Kahlo's pieces on display. That section also had this GIANT piece (it took up an entire wall) called "Burn, Baby, Burn" which the artist had made in response to the Watts Riots. Super cool.

They also had a section for South/Southeast/Islamic art. Which is amazing to me, because usually when museums have anything Middle Eastern, it has something to do with Mesopotamia-- and anything they have from other parts of Asia is usually Chinese or Japanese. And while I'm fascinated by the art/artifacts from those places as well, it's always nice to see something new.

Anyway, this is the first thing my friend and I saw when we arrived on that floor. So naturally we stared at it for about fifteen minutes and gushed to one of the docents about it, who proceeded to tell us all about the artist-- Hassan Hajjaj-- and how she had initially been so excited by that piece that she spent about two hours researching Hajjaj's work online.

The rest of that floor was absolutely amazing as well. They had Cambodian statues, Indian daggers, pages from the Quran, and a lot of tapestries. Everything they had on display from Iran-- usually everyday items, or things like doors and tile flooring-- was beautiful and ornately decorated. And then they had this

which I thought was ingenious.

So what I'm saying is, go to the LACMA. It's completely worth the admission fee.

Stay classy,

Friday, March 28, 2014

Reconsidering openness

Self-promotion: I will be giving a small presentation at the Personal Wellness Symposium on April 23 at CSUF. My presentation is an introduction to meditation.

Personal Wellness Symposium

An article became popular this week about how the internet has become a massively corrupted personal information and privacy breach, and that we should consider replacing it with a more secure version, one that cannot be penetrated by government surveillance, giant corporation data-mining advertisers, or cyber criminals. I’m not sure I’d agree that those are our only choices. I don’t think there’s much we can do to prevent giant powers from finding out whatever they want to find out about us, but I think there is one thing we can have to make the playing field even: two-way transparency. Us seeing them, and their activities as well as them seeing us. If we can see what is happening on their end, then there is accountability. This has always been a traditional means of holding the powers that be in check. The worst activities of massive, impersonal collectives are always mitigated when subject to media or legal scrutiny. The great accomplishments of the post-enlightenment modern world are founded on reciprocal accountability — science, capitalism, democracy. The basic idea at the core of each of these is that the more information that is freely available, the healthier and stronger the game. This is the core idea of modernity, and has constructed our civilization. When everyone has the information and ability to hold everyone reciprocally accountable, the result is a free, healthy, strong society.

This week’s cartoon!

Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty from Darragh O'Connell on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.
- Henri Frederick Amiel

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Female Characters

A while back, I overheard someone in one of my classes talking about how Frankenstein has a very "feminine" feel to it, despite that Mary Shelley was writing from a male character's perspective. It sounded like he was complaining about it, but that might just be the way I interpreted it.

I kind of froze for a second. What does that even mean?

Here's the thing. I've heard variations of that complaint about a lot of things. I was playing Just Dance at my friend's house once, and she had some of her other friends over. So her friends, these two twin guys, are trying to play, but one of them would have to be a female character for that particular song. And he threw a minor tantrum over it, as though having a female icon for, like, three minutes of a game would completely emasculate him.

I think at that point, I shouted out at him,"Seriously? Because if I want to play a video game, I have to play as a dude all the time."

And it's true. I wouldn't call myself an avid gamer, but most of the games I play-- and all of the games I grew up on-- featured male protagonists. And when games do have female characters, it's still from a "male" perspective, being that game creators are usually straight men. Meaning they're either a) hypersexualized, b) useless/helpless/boring/whatever else within the context of the game, and/or c) a one-dimensional plot device. I've linked to her before, but Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency does a great job of breaking down a lot of the stereotypes of women in video games and in pop culture in general.

But back to Frankenstein. What I wanted to ask my classmate was: "Have you read a book about women written by a man?"

He would say yes. We all would say yes. And maybe you have to very socially-conscious to notice, but books about women written by men are generally horrifying. At best, many of them are cliched and stereotypical; at worst, the reader gets a very distinct sense of just how much the author hates women, which can be incredibly damaging on both an individual and a societal level (as is the case with the Beat Poets and Charles Bukowski-- in my experience, anyway).

I'm not the best judge of whether or not Frankenstein is a convincingly "masculine" character, but I think at worst, it's just not believable. It's not damaging; it won't make male readers hate themselves, or female readers see men as inferior. It's just unrealistic.
Junot Diaz, a Dominican-born writer and activist, actually has a great quote on the subject:

If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst woman writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherf--.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
The full quote is slightly inappropriate for this blog, but you can google it-- I think it's much more impactful.

Just something to think about.

Stay classy,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Researching tips

When you're combing through the resources, trying to find an article that will help you with your subject, some of the results give the option of viewing the articles in html or pdf. If it's html, most likely it means that someone scanned the journal pages, and used OCR to put the text into html. That probably means that there's going to be errors, and very likely means that you will just be getting the text — if there were any charts or graphs or pictures, they won't be included, probably page numbers won't be, either. So, if you have the choice, always take the pdf, which will likely be a direct scan of the pages from the journal.

There’s two ways academic journals do their page numbers. Some journals number their pages every issue starting with page one. Some journals count the first page of the first issue of the year at page one, and then continue that numbering, adding onto that page count, every issue, until the end of the year. That’s why some journal articles seem to be on page twelve hundred and something. That might trip you up, if you’re not paying attention.

If you need to put in a “Work Cited” page, NoodleBib is your friend. NoodleBib is a bibliographical, citation-generating tool, does all the work for you perfectly. It will generate an MLA Works Cited list or an APA References list you can import directly into Word. It's highly editable and configurable, to your requirements. Definitely keep it in mind as a go-to when writing your papers.


Dave Roel.
No one else "makes us angry." We make ourselves angry when we surrender control of our attitude.
- Jim Rohn

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thesis Statements

I got a really unexpected amount of hits on my post about essays the other week, so I thought it would be helpful to write a guide to something else I know people have a lot of trouble with: thesis statements.

Thesis statements are kind of complicated things. The only reason I'm any good at them is because my teachers in high school constantly drilled us on them until we more or less understood how to go about them. 
I'm no expert, but these are some guidelines-- specifically for English essays, but they can be tweaked to fit any topic-- from what I've gathered over the past four or five years.

1. You don't need to include the title/author/genre. In general, most teachers expect that to go in the introductory paragraph itself, so there's no need to try and cram it into the thesis statement.
2. Your thesis statement should only be one or two sentences long. Ideally, your intro paragraph will set up the context for your argument; that way, the thesis statement should be the heart of what you're trying to argue. It generally goes towards the end, or as the last sentence of, your intro paragraph.
3. Your thesis statement should be specific, but not too specific. If that makes sense. You want your thesis statement to be specific enough that what you're arguing is clear to the reader, but it needn't be much more specific than that. The actual narrowing down and elaborating on your evidence is where your body paragraphs come in.
4. Your thesis statement should connect to the topic sentences of your body paragraphs. I don't mean that you have to literally use each topic sentence as an elaboration on whatever points you mentioned in your thesis statement, but it should be clear that they are relevant to each other. A lot of people use topic sentences as a means of jumping right into the argument when they should-- at least from what I've been taught-- be used to show how the topic of the body paragraph will relate to your argument/thesis statement. 
And then you use the rest of the body paragraph to back up that claim and elaborate on your argument.

These guidelines have generally worked for me for any kind of essay. If you're not specifically writing about a book, you can skip #1, since title/author/genre generally only applies to analysis of books in English classes. 
If you're looking for examples, Google can probably be of assistance. If you give me a topic in the comments, I will also consider giving my own example of what I think would constitute a good thesis statement (provided you're not just trying to trick me into doing your homework for you).

Hope this helps!

Stay classy,

Friday, March 21, 2014

Some wonderings

I apologize if this comes across as a rant or controversial. But I just kind of randomly wonder about things. Like, why does anyone think that it’s okay to allow a baby to “cry it out”, just be left alone for hours to cry until it’s exhausted? Why does anyone think that’s okay? Why does anyone think that’s healthy? Or, why does anyone think that formula is as good as or superior to natural breast milk? How could anyone think that? Or separating newborns and their mothers for hours after birth (“for observation”). Why do newborns have to lie alone during their first hours after birth, crying, untouched, obviously hungry for human contact? Why does anyone think that’s a good idea? Why are C-sections so routine? Far more than in any other country? It’s very hard to believe that these are healthy practices. I also wonder why these issues are even considered to be controversial in the first place. I mean, these are really issues that have more to do with science than with religion or politics. Why do people get passionately worked up about these things? I also wonder why someone can’t bring up these issues without getting considered a crackpot, or why you can’t have a reasonable, civil, mature conversation about these issues without the conversation dissolving into a bunch of lame jokes. I wonder why people get worked up or uncomfortable about these matters.

(I actually know the answers to these questions. But you should think about these matters yourself.)

Yeah, watch a cartoon.

Skip Pitts from Loaded Pictures on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.
- Nietzsche

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Alto Assistance

I started taking voice lessons recently and it turns out I'm an alto, which-- if I'm not mistaken-- is the lowest female voice range. It also turns out that most of the music I listen to involves a female singer who's way out of my range (i.e. Bjork). Or a male singer. Which, while it's totally still great music, can be a little frustrating to practice with. So I've started looking into female artists with a classifiably "alto" range and my search has yielded some pretty great things:
  • I'll start with the more obvious/popular findings-- Amy Winehouse and Adele are both altos. I've never really been into their music, but that's a thing.
  • So is Lady Gaga, but personally I lost interest in her beyond The Fame Monster.
  • Lorde is an alto. This is probably most evident on "Ribs".
  • Haim are, collectively, altos. Which is most evident on "My Song 5".
  • Solange, who you may know as Beyonce's sister-- and who has a way more attainable vocal range-- is an alto.
  • St. Vincent is probably also an alto, and she has really cool hair.
  • Marina & The Diamonds is-- well, based on her first album, I feel like she's an alto with a really strong head voice/falsetto, but I could absolutely be wrong about that.

If anyone's interested in taking voice lessons but can't afford it, in terms of time and/or money, there's a surprising amount of Youtube videos that provide free singing lessons. It's obviously not the same as having someone in the flesh telling you what you, specifically, are doing, but it's a start.

Check out St. Vincent's newish alto-friendly video below.

Stay classy,


Monday, March 17, 2014

Beyond the internet

Not everything's on the internet. The research that was done for decades is still largely out in those ink-on-paper journals, untransferred to any searchable electronic format. That means for some assignments or some papers, we'll have to hit those databases to find some of the references. These resources are available to us as students.

EBSCO is available to us with a wide array of databases to be mined for useful references. Academic journals, with resources and references for literature, English, consumer issues, health, business, history, etc., are all available. If your research has anything to do with education, you'll want to hit ERIC, Education Resource Information Center, with 1.3 million records and 323,000 full-text documents, dating back to 1966. LexisNexis is an enormous legal and journalistic resource. All these databases and more are available through the library or through the links on My Gateway, comme ├ža:

You'll notice that the top link there is ask a librarian. That's always a can't-miss way to get what you need: "This is what I'm looking for, where can I find it?" If you’re stuck, not finding exactly what you need, that’ll clear the logjam.

Books and articles are labeled with subject terms which can be searched. Knowing the right terms is important in searching. Some terms are pretty esoteric and unfamiliar. EBSCO uses the Library of Congress subject terms, of which there are hundreds of thousands. The librarian can direct you to subject terms that might be more efficacious.

The resources we have available reaches far beyond the internet. Be sure to make use of them.


Dave Roel.
Change is inevitable; growth is optional.
- John C. Maxwell

Friday, March 14, 2014


Every one of the main players in the current technological scene will vanish within your lifetime, vanish as definitively and totally as MySpace, GeoCities or Bell Telephone. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft — these giants will not last forever. They will doubtlessly not last another two decades. They will be replaced by others, who will, in their turn, be replaced by others, still. They will be replaced by products and services that we currently don't even have names for or concepts for. Nothing lasts forever, and technology moves at an ever more quickening pace.

Everything you own and use and work with regularly will be destroyed. Devices and software and apps are obsolete the instant they are available. The churn is increasing. There is no longer any stability or security in any area of life. The future is impossible to predict or prepare for. Every field is disrupted, every hot development and technology and phenomenon will eventually be abandoned, often within a decade. For better or for worse, that’s our legacy.

The friends I know who work in technology or communication tell me that basically, it’s all completely new stuff every seven years. Whatever you were doing seven years ago is all completely gone, and everything you’re now dealing with is all stuff that’s been introduced in the last seven years.

As a society, we need a better relationship with our past, with our detritus, with our refuse, even our digital garbage. We need better ways of recycling and composting.

Here’s a cartoon.

Rubix by Chris Kelly from Dezeen on Vimeo.


Dave Roel.
The original purpose of government and religion was to create a world where they were no longer needed.
- R. Talmadge Lacy