Krislennen's Blog

There’s nought more clichéd than the annual pledge we make to ourselves that things are going to change, that somehow after one night of revelry all our flaws and bad habits will hence forth be gone… It’s a nice idea, but, really, is it worth it?

I mean. We all get caught up in the tide of self-improvement but are we not in slight danger of being dragged too far out to sea? For once we realise our pledges are unrealistic it can lead to a whole butt load of depression. We should be able to do this, right? Smoking isn’t so hard to give up, right?

So, what to do instead? In truth, I don’t know. I certainly see faults in myself –  a great deal many more than I think one ought to have. Yet, do I really want to change? Do I displease myself so much? Is it about changing or trying? Perhaps more success might be won by promising one’s self to try, to try a new way of life or try to gain a new skill etc.

Therefore! My list of things to try are:

  1. Improve my opera singing style.
  2. Improve my command of English.
  3. Work harder on my study of Mandarin.
  4. Be more patient.

FYI – the fourth is an ancient cliché, the same kind I debased only 3 paragraphs before… However. In my case I don’t feel it is an off the shelf ideal which can be applied to anyone.  So forgive me my hypocrisy ;p

 

Happy new year everyone.

x

Two of the titans of audio language learning, both have advocate followers and staunch critiques. Though from a newbie language learner’s point of view (mine!) this raises somewhat of a problem. There are no polyglots or education experts suggesting which is best for a particular style of learning; of course I only assume that one is designed for a particular mind, over another. Even if the manufacturers don’t seem to hold this view – a one size-fits-all scenario… Joy.

In the quest to find out what was right for me I tried both courses. The beginner Thomas and the first 30lessons of Pimsleur.

I must admit, I personally preferred the Pimsleur method to Thomas. Though there was nothing wrong with the instruction or content of the Thomas course, it is, woefully short. I mean, shockingly short. At 8 hours I learnt a good few words and began to get a handle on the grammar (from a theoretical point of view). Were the course longer – matching the Pimsleur courses’ 15hours (only for unit 1/3) I think I may have learnt much more.

One last critique on the Thomas course was that the content was a little irrelevant for me. I couldn’t see myself needing to know certain phrases or words, to survive in Italy. (Though in the Pimsleur course you spend about 3 learning how to pick up girls ¬_¬ how useful… Unless of course you can’t survive without female company. )

The Pimsleur method’s repetitive nature bored the hell out of me and I twice found that I didn’t want to use it anymore, but the words stuck, and in real life situations you don’t have time to think or consult a dictionary. You have to know it. The Thomas method of not trying to remember is a bit of a stupid angle. If you do not remember you will not learn. Period. Though it does make for excellent marketing…

Oh marketing, thou dost ruin our consumer lives…

PS. If anyone knows anything about neurolinguistics, please let us know what you recommend.

Peace xx

Dubai is a strange creature that crawled out of the undulating dunes, fully garbed in resplendent skyscrapers and nouveau riche. But how long before the glamour becomes a mirage?

Dubai, unlike many of it’s neighbours has no oil money. Its fortunes built on real estate and entertaing the great and the good. But with a crippling dept that the government is struggling to repay and the hoards of foreigners who kept the city’s hear beating, fleeing the city like rats in a sinking ship. What will become of Dubai?

The Palm island. The city’s illustrious triumph is sinking into the sea, the lavish villas upon it splitting in two – in my opinion this seems like an apt metaphor for a city living beyond its means.

What do you think?

OK, so I’m not the quickest learner of anything. Nature just didn’t think I’d need to adapt quickly ¬_¬ (gee thanks) anyway! I’ve always wanted to speak multiple languages. The title of polyglot being the most esteemed in my vocabulary.

So, I’ve been using Pimsleur Italian and I listened to Michel Thomas’s 8hour lesson. They’re both very good, I am learning. But, I don’t know… I can’t shake the feeling that I’m only memorizing the phrases they’ve given, in reaction to a very narrow scenario. I really have no idea of what I’m doing if I’m thrown a curve ball where I have to rearrange my existing vocabulary to say something new. It’s both frustrating and distressing.

Although I’m only 20 lessons into CD 1 of the Pimsleur course, I feel like I should be more linguistically agile by now.

Does anybody have some advice? Have you experienced the same thing? How would you best advise I learn Italian best and in the least amount of time?

Peace.

I was reading this link my friend sent me today, about a floating city called “freedom ship”. A colossal cruise-ship with permanent housing, stores, schools and offices. It’s all still only sailing in computer animations for wealthy investors and marketers, but it got me wondering: How close are we to “the life aquatic”??

With a ever expanding population and precious swathes of habitable land to be devoured by the rising sea – where is everyone going to live? The most obvious answer would be to build ever up until the concept of light reaching street level becomes a distant memory… The Japanese concept for Skycity seems exciting and surreal all at once. A person could live from cradle to coffin, without ever touching terra… Mad stuff.

But I digress, this is about the life aquatic, not aeronautic :P

Many futurologist have designed stunning and bizarre concepts for “floating cities” that glide serenely upon the ocean like monstrous jellyfish. Though I wonder about the logistics of such a venture. Conventional (land-based) cities require constant importation of goods and supplies to function, so long as the water-bound cities stuck to the coast I don’t see distribution to be an issue. However, the concept art and in fact the blurbs for these projects dream of the open ocean.The open ocean? O.o Getting fresh milk may be a problem in that case…

Also, would it not drive the residents mad to stare out to vast blue nothingness every day? The occasional sight of land in the horizon would become a thing of great conversation onboard. Think cabin-fever but worse ‘cos you’re onboard for years. Eesh.

Furthermore, how big would these cities be? The concept art doesn’t show them to be very big at all. No bigger than a mall or a small town… Hardly a city. Which is realistic I suppose. Where on Earth would all of the necessary steel and glass come from? How could such a behemoth float? Such questions could go on to infinitum.

I’m not sold on the whole idea of mega ships as cities. Even though they are a lateral solution to a real and immediate problem. Though I believe the true answers lie in Dubai’s new submarine hotel/mall – Hydropolis. The idea of undersea cities have not been short of subscription, also it negates so many of the difficulties of a floating, nomadic city and the views would be much more engaging.

But I suppose we’ll have to see how long Hydropolis lasts before it’s residents are eaten by the Kraken :S

Only the other week I was reading a white paper on the properties of colostrum ( something that deeply impressed me, a post shall come soon once I’ve learnt more) when I realised that I’d been reading this epically dense, complex research paper for just under 4 hours… Where had the time gone? I certainly didn’t notice it pass. The same is true when I study Italian – time does not seem to be a factor. I only pull myself away on the recommendation of experts.

All of this would be nothing surprising were I a particularly itelligent person, or a student in either of those respective fields. However I am neither.

During my school life I did very poorly. My grades were always rather low and my attention somewhere else. I recall during a remedial maths lesson I drove my poor teacher to tears with my apathy. So how can such a terrible student develop such a thirst for knowledge?

Choice, choice – a thousand times choice.

When one wants to do something, it ceases to be a chore. A child might know the entire Pokémon chart without even the slightest trace of effort and yet after years of chemistry lessons the periodic table can allude them.

So here’s my 5pence worth, note that this is entirely my opinion. I’ve not read up on the topic at all so forgive me if I come across as ill-informed. ^_^

I think that the educational systems world-wide have two intrinsic flaws:

1.Teaching things past social necessity. This is counterproductive. If a child is dyslexic then there’s little point in drilling them in spelling, until they leave college. If they can’t do it at 14, they can’t do it at 18. Particularly when there are so many good spell-checker and voice to text programs available. The same goes for mathematics, past being able to function and handle one’s finances, what purpose do many have for further maths? How often do many of you apply Pythagorean theorem or need to use algebraic equations? It’s an utter waste of time and resources for many. If a child has a particularly keen skill for languages for example, would it not be best to focus on that skill than waste time on skills the child does not have?

2.“One-size-fits-all” teaching styles. If one person is an audio learner how are power point presentations going to help? I know I’m no doubt going to get a lot of “But how much do you want to be spent per child in education?” Well, with greater attention and a more tailor made learning experience a child could learn much quicker and better. This could cut down the amount of years a person might need to be in education, to be considered educated. Also, a more efficient, happier person would join the workforce.

In my opinion, people are herded into “careers” which they may not even want or enjoy. I see hundreds of seminars, demanding outrageous sums of money, for a speaker to impart his wisdom to a depressed and beleaguered hoard. Why would all of these unhappy, unsuccessful, unfulfilled people need to spend so much money if they were given the tools they needed to do what they wanted? Imagine if in primary school, children were taught learning techniques, so that they could know how best to learn whatever they wanted. These children would have no problem in studying after school, because they’d know how and it wouldn’t be difficult. I could even be fun.

My favourite for the title of world’s greatest teacher: Michel Thomas, could teach a student Spanish over a weekend. Why? His mantra was that learning should never be hard. Sadly he was as shrewd as he was brilliant and kept his secrets to himself.

Anyway, that’s my gripe over.

Much love.

Peace

x

Estimated read time: 8 minutes

This all seems very appropriate seeing how this is my first ever blog post (The first of many lets hope). So, firstly HELLO!!!! ehem… Secondly, I wanted to discuss the topic of making a good impression .

“There’s no substitute for first impressions” – a pretty cliché quote, but it’s painfully true.
Can you think of any situations where, despite your best efforts, a persons/people just don’t shine to you. Contrary to what your mother will tell you, what a person thinks about you, right or wrong, can make a profound difference to your social life and prosperity.
Albert Mehrabian, after extensive research into body language and non verbal communication concluded that “60 and 70% of all meaning is derived from nonverbal behavior.”. This means that whatever you might say, it may only count for 40- 30% of what your audience will internalize. To make matters worse research has revealed that instant opinions of a person can be made entirely on their facial features – nature’s cruel I know.

I know this seems a little difficult to read -no matter what you do or say, people still won’t like you bwuhaha. However, there’s hope, for knowledge is power.

I myself have had quite a bad run of luck with getting employment. The economic downturn certainly didn’t make things easier either and I soon joined the 2million + unemployed (UK). As my confidence plummeted so did my results at the torrent of interviews I attended. Until one evening over a glass of wine (OK, many glasses), a friend of mine who was studying psychology told me about how the subconscious mind decides whether it likes or dislikes someone in less than 10 seconds.

I didn’t make much of it at the time, but in the following days I could think of nothing else and I began to observe it in situations around me. A man and a woman meeting for a coffee date, then the woman’s body language would go from open and friendly to closed and reserved, while her speech never changed – something had gone on in her subconscious.

With that I began to dredge the web looking for more information on the subject and I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of credible research papers available. So, I read through them all and practiced controlling my body in different social situations, making sure to always keep myself open and my posture relaxed. I found that new friends warmed to me much faster than normal and I was getting more interest at bars etc. Obviously there was credence to the science.

I then, for the first time in a month, after 4 months of continual rejection, went to another job interview. I must admit it was difficult to maintain all that I had learnt of kinesics (body language), it took up so much concentration that my speech stumbled or I didn’t quite understand what was being asked of me, as my attention was elsewhere… Yet, I got the job. It baffled me.Yet as I went back to the material I’d read, it was all so clear.
The conscious mind will forgive and make allowances for a person in, what it knows is a stressful situation. However, body language is not registered at a conscious level so no such rational can be applied. Therefore the answer is simple – don’t practice your speech, practice your stance.

So I suppose you’ll be wanting to know what you need to change about your body language… Very well then. :P

Since I don’t want to encroach on a scientist’s patch, by posting too much, I’ll keep things sweet.

1)Never cross your arms, it is one thing to rest them on your lap if you don’t know what to do with them, but by crossing them you put up confrontational signals. The act of crossing one’s arms is often seen as a way of putting distance between oneself and another; which is often the case. A subconscious mind will not waste time trying to befriend someone who is giving out anti-social nuences. This can also be explained on a primal level, many animals, when uncomfortable will keep their vital areas out of reach. Take dogs, they’ll only lie on their backs when they feel safe – food for thought.

2)Lean slightly into the person you’re speaking to. Not so much that you encroach on their personal space, because you will just annoy them. However, when someone is truly interested in something they will lean closer toward it.

3)“Look into my eyes, not around the eyes. Look into my eyes”- Little Britain. Always keep eye contact with the person you are talking with. Studies have shown that when a person is bored their eyes will cross slightly or dart to the side frequently. Though we do this without being bored or disinterested, it is always done when we are. It can also be a sign of disbelief or doubt, though opinions on this matter vary, and can be explained as simply another facet of disinterest.

4)This may offend some, but I hope you can take it lightly. If you have bad teeth or an awkward smile, it can be best not to smile broadly or at all. If your natural smile does not look relaxed it may be read as forced or insincere. This will get you nowhere. On the matter of teeth: A person’s physical health communicates not only with another person’s subconscious but also with their conscious and then back again. For things like bad teeth, whether out of poor hygiene or nature, they communicate low morals and connotates various vices. This links in with a further topic on a mental bias for beauty. So it may be best to smile with your eyes exclusively or to raise the corners of your mouth slightly without pulling too hard.

Anyway, that’s all I really have to say on the matter without publishing a paper of my own ( an activity for which I have no inclination). I hope you’ve enjoyed this little post and I’d be interested to read any of your opinions or any more information you might be able to impart.

Much love.

Moi

Cherp…

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