Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 14-20, 2017

A little bit of this and a little bit of that, all to get your mental corn popping 🙂

SOS Safety Magazine lists four signs of a person with high-functioning depression. This is me.

How stress changes the brain and body (with helpful TED-Ed video). Mindful

ASAP Science shares seven ways to reduce your stress right now.

 

Wendi looks at the dark side of empathic people. Parhlo

Jesse Menayan shares what he and the Casper research team discovered about how couples affect each other’s sleep. Yeah, it’s a big ole advertisement, but the research is interesting and sleep is important. Medium

Dom Galeon: our brains might be 100 times more powerful than we thought. Futurism

Heidi Priebe profiles the personal hells of each Myers-Briggs personality type. My personal hell? Learning how everything I’ve said or done has hurt someone else, intentional or otherwise. Yup. Writhing already. Thought Catalog

A wee clip from Michael Moore on Finland’s school system.

 

Simon Parkin: teaching robots right from wrong. 1843 Magazine

Etan Vlessing covers the creation of A World without Canada, a dystopian series narrated by Dan Ackroyd and featuring Robert J. Sawyer. The Hollywood Reporter

Richard O. Prum writes of duck sex and the patriarchy. Though it’s hard to tell from the title, this is an amazing article. The New Yorker

Gaze in awe at these colourized photos of Russian women snipers, who terrorized the Nazis in WWII. Julian Robinson for Mail Online.

Alex Tizon tells the heart wrenching story of his family’s slave. The Atlantic

Chris Jones shares footage of how narwhales use their tusks. IFLS

Skandinavian folk on nyckelharpa, by Myrkur:

 

And your kawaii for the week: Ozzy, the desk weasel.

 

See you Saturday for my wrap up post about Writing the Other. Tasty, tasty!

Be well until then, my friends.

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 26-August 1, 2015

Interesting stuff this week. Veeerrry interesting 😉

Controversial feminist Camille Paglia lectures on Shakespeare’s evil women. CBC’s Ideas.

Don’t know what the ‘vocal fry’ is? Faith Salie demonstrates:

Naomi Wolf advises young women to eschew the ‘vocal fry.’ The Guardian.

In response, Erin Riley calls shenanigans. The dislike of the ‘vocal fry’ is just an excuse to ignore young women’s voices. The Guardian.

Loneliness is on the rise in the age of connectivity. CBC’s The Current.

The Heart and the Bottle is a modern fable about denying difficult emotions. Brainpickings.

The Crossroads of Should and Must, an intelligent illustrated field guide to finding your bliss. Brainpickings.

What the best education systems in the world are doing right. TED.ed

I know I’m usually more about the astronomy than the astrology, but July 31st was the second full moon in the month, also called a blue moon. Apparently, it had astrological significance as well (!)

Brainpickings introduces us to Beatrix Potter, mycologist.

Carbon engineering. IFLS.

There is a two billion year old, natural, nuclear reactor in Africa. IFLS.

The Smithsonian introduces us to the bejewelled skeletons of Catholicism’s forgotten martyrs.

Water intoxication in dogs is another summer hazard to watch out for. The Huffington Post.

Why are dogs so insanely happy to see us when we get home? i09.

Discarded images presents this list of the top ten Medieval butt-licking cats. Thanks to Diana Gabaldon and her daughter for this 🙂

Kawaii! Watch a baby pygmy hippo have a swim. IFLS.

Now . . . since I’m heading out of town on the weekend (for two and a half weeks), I’m going to take me a brief break from the weekend posts. It’s just a bit much while I’m on the road. I will continue to curate Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday, though, so come on back and check it out next week.

Thanks for your understanding.

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 26-May 2, 2015

Finally! Pakistan jails 10 of Malala Yousafzai’s attackers. BBC News.

Jon Krakauer: If you’re not a feminist, then you’re a problem. Penguin Random House’s Medium.

Teachers in the secondary school board are striking right now. Here’s a couple of posts that deal with the issues they’d like to see addressed.

11 ways Finland’s education system shows us that less is more. Filling my Map.

Schools should teach kids to think, not memorize. The documentary Most Likely to Succeed. Gotta watch this. The Huffington Post.

Ok. So, Sudbury was nominated the happiest city in Canada. Here’s 17 things you should know about us 😉 Buzzfeed. (Yes, we made Buzzfeed!)

Studies link social anxiety to empathic ability, high IQ, and sentinel intelligence. Spirit Science and Metaphysics.

The secret weapon that prevents anxiety and depression? It’s not what you think. The Creativity Post.
“When we attempt to divorce ourselves from pain, we end up feeling nothing pleasurable or meaningful at all. When we better understand, tolerate, and harness distressing thoughts and feelings, and become aware of the situations when they are helpful, we become empowered. We gain vitality. We become whole.”

Depression can alter your DNA (!) IFLS.

Veritasium: just knowing about learned helplessness can help you free yourself from its clutches. (Plus a bonus Sudbury tie-in with a mention of the Neutrino Observatory 🙂 )

LifeHack lists 20 signs that you’re succeeding, even if you don’t feel like you are.

Scientists turn pancreatic cancer cells into normal cells. Now . . . how close are they to releasing this treatment? IFLS.

Why are some people left-handed? (I like to say that we’re the only people in our right minds – LOL). IFLS.

Audi makes diesel fuel from water and carbon dioxide. IFLS.

i09 presents seven lesser-known but fascinating Victorian inventors.

A man knocked down a wall in his basement and discovered a hidden underground city. SlipTalk.

Here are the winners of the 2014 Smithsonian photography contest. Amazing and beautiful photos. The Atlantic.

And that’s your thoughty for the week.

Be well.

Thoughty Thursday

Training trainers in Toronto

This past week, I was out of town.  The purpose: to teach a bunch of trainers the content of Business Writing Made Easy, so that they, in turn, can teach others.

The class was composed of three trainers from one business line and 6 from the other.  BWME Nov 19-22 001Though I may, as I mentioned last week, be returning to the training team in September, there are several possible alternatives that might prevent this from taking place.  I have to be prepared for the possibility that I won’t be able to help train staff much or at all in the future.

This was my fourth time co-facilitating the course, and I’ll be training it one more time this week coming.

The course is 15 hours, or two days, spread over three.  I added a day onto the end so that the participants could adapt portions of the course, present them, and get some focused feedback from the rest of the class.

The class is very participant-centered, that is, there are a lot of activities and the facilitators are constantly using questioning techniques to engage learners in their own learning.  This last is a challenging bit for me, because I’m a word-nerd and a total grammar-Nazi.  I have to restrain myself from talking about the things that I love.

The course went well.  I was able to help one of my colleagues get some experience co-facilitating the course because she may be turning around and delivering it to her business line in the future.  I also got the trainer’s high that come when you see the participants getting enthusiastic about the subject matter.

I think they’re all going to be brilliant 🙂

As I’ve mentioned before, the course involves learning a business letter writing model, tips on clarity, concision, and readability in writing, and a final module on grammar review.  The practical component is a letter that the participants draft as part of their pre-course work and revise as the course progresses.

Actually, looking back, every time I’ve blogged about BWME, it’s been about the process surrounding the course, not the course itself (eeps!).

I learn, or have something confirmed for me every time I teach this course.  I hope that my newly-minted business writing teachers feel the same way.

I still get nervous every time I have to train too, but I hide it well.  I’m introverted (as all get out) and training, though enjoyable, tires me.

I’m reading Susan Cain’s Quiet right now, and will likely post about introversion in the future.  For now, let’s just say that I’m learning a lot about myself 😉

Just yesterday, I saw a post on Facebook by the wonderful Nancy Kress, who said that in preparing for a 4-hour workshop, she was nervous, even after her many years of writing and teaching.

One of the comments that followed mine was that, if you care at all about the subject you are teaching, or presenting about, you will be nervous.  Every time.

I do find this to be true.

Getting back to the course, since it’s only two days, I can’t teach anyone who to write properly or how to use the principles of grammar.  The course is a combination of review and resource-building that we hope will give participants the tools to continue improving on their own.

Practise makes perfect.

bunch of starsThe participants seem to enjoy the word pairs exercise most (affect/effect, practice/practise, principle/principal, further/farther, etc.).  The “snowball” fight is a great energizer, and the subject/verb agreement and punctuation exercises tend to confirm that most participants already know a lot about grammar, it’s just not something they’re aware of in their everyday work.

The key with BWME, as with so many other topics, is to cultivate that awareness, and promote its continuance on the job.

 

Have you had the opportunity to learn or teach something that you’re passionate about? How was the experience?  Do you practise after the fact?  What stayed with you most?

 

Caturday Quickies: Business Writing Made Frozen, er Easy

The road to certification

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Timmins to deliver the second of three sessions of Business Writing Made Easy.

BWME Nov 19-22 001The first delivery was back in November and in the much warmer Toronto.  At that time, I was observed by the person who designed the course and who was, at the time, one of the leads in the trainers certification program.

Then, my hope was to certify in Timmins.  My observer told me, point blank, that I wouldn’t pass.  We then made plans for another delivery of BWME.  Timmins would be a practice run, to let me become more familiar with the material and more practiced in my participant-centered training delivery methods and techniques.

My mentor was unable to continue coaching with me and my observer volunteered to take over.  An opportunity arose for me to co-facilitate Introduction to Participant-Centered Training Delivery in January, further cementing my skills.  My co-facilitator, a recently certified trainer herself, said that I was ready.

In February, however, things began to devolve.  My observer-turned-mentor was assigned a project and could not continue to coach me.  No one would be able to take over.  In a final meeting, we whizzed through the remaining material we had to cover.  I was again told that I was ready for assessment.

My own workload did not lessen and as I started to prepare for my delivery in Timmins, I realized that I was within the six-week deadline to arrange my observation.

Frantically, I contacted the certification program lead.  I had to complete an assignment on the 18 trainer competencies, showing how I’d been working to develop each one, and complete a pre-evaluation interview to ensure that I was, in fact, ready.  She felt confident that I was.

While I worked on Joining Instructions, pre-course assignments, and prep for the delivery, I waited on pins and needles to find out if assessors could be located for my certification run.  Just before I left for Timmins, I was informed that I had one more assignment to complete.  I did, and was propmtly introduced to my certification team.

The drive up to Timmins was lovely.  It was a bright, brisk, winter day and we made excellent time.  We set up the room and started organizing the activities.

That night, the weather grew stormy.  10 cm of snow, followed by another 20 or so the next day.  Then the deep freeze descended and for the rest of the week was less than pleasant.

The training went well, thankfully.  There were a few rocky places, but there always are.  No training ever goes perfectly.  I firmly subscribe to the good enough theory of life, the universe, and everything.  I wonder if good enough = 42 😉

The weather improved for our journey back to Sudbury on Friday.

Sunrise over downtown Timmins, Ontario, Canada

Sunrise over downtown Timmins, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week, I strove to catch up on my regular work and still conserve some time to prep for next week’s delivery.  The certification program lead emailed me to once again offer a few words of support, and here I am, with a skimpy weekend between me, a six and a half hour journey, hasty room and activity set up, and a full 8 hours of solo assessment of my facilitation skills.

My main goal?  To remain mindful in the moment.  Yes, training is a Zen kind of thing.

Will let you know how the certification attempt goes, but I won’t know anything for a while after.  The earliest I can have my debrief is April 4 (!)  While the report should be released within a couple of weeks, I’m not certain if they’ll give me a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ before the debrief can happen.

The nerves come and go in waves.

Keep me in your thoughts trainer types.

What the heck is a MOOC?

If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that I used to play Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs, or just MMO’s).  But what in the heck is a MOOC?

I was first introduced to the term last October, immediately following the course I’d taken on course design.  One of my fellow learners was a guest blogger on a corporate blog the following week.  The topic was MOOCs.

MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course, and they are the latest trend in education.  I’ve already written about participant centered training, and, on the surface, the MOOC would be the ultimate in PCT.

Here’s another fun view of what a MOOC is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW3gMGqcZQc

By and large, MOOCs are free, and consist primarily of presentations on weekly topics, usually delivered via Webinar, and supplemented by social media (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.), but participants are expected to make the course their own and take charge of their own learning: researching, Googling, diving into the deep end.  Reporting these efforts could be done via discussion groups and blogs.

The learning material is aggregated by the learning community and made available on a Web page or other central point of online distribution.  The link to Wikipedia (above) will provide more information regarding MOOCs and some examples, including Change.MOOC.ca, the MOOC that my colleague was participating in this past year.

I’ve been following her since on her learning blog: Connecting the Dots.

By the time I found out about MOOCs and Change.MOOC.ca, several weeks and learning topics had already elapsed.  I have a personal preference for beginning at the beginning and work demands are such that I would feel extremely uncomfortable putting myself into the MOOC arena now.

I can always look forward to participating in one next year.

Some other thoughts on MOOCs:

Does the idea of a MOOC interest you?

Going “rogue”

Thanks to the colleague who helped me to introduce my idea, I started to attend free training and learning Webinars that were offered by various magazines and firms.  I was doing this at work.

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

It was professional development, and I didn’t doubt, question, or waver a bit in my decision to take advantage of them.  Since March 2011, I have been attending, on average, about two of these Webinars a month, and they’ve been most instructive.  I’ll even chat about some of the things I’ve learned from them in this blog from time to time.

Then my manager got me signing up for some eNewletters, essentially subscription feeds from some very interesting blogs by learning and development professionals.  I’ve linked to some of my favourites under Learning Blogs 🙂

Some of the articles I receive are fascinating, and the links to other resources within them have often led me on a merry chase over the Interwebz, yielding even more resources, sites, and blogs of interest.

When I signed up to attend a course to become a certified trainer in my organization (I know, I’ve been training for three years, and now I’m getting certified …) I picked up a few more resources.  And so the catalogue grows.

I’ve become a social learner, a rogue learner, a mutant learner, and I’m in charge of my learning, by and large.  There are still formal courses to attend, and hoops to jump through, but I’m getting so much more from reading a handful of interesting articles regarding learning theory and design and attending the odd Webinar, than I ever did from institutionalized education …  Mind = Blown 😉

Not that I’m knocking formal education.  Entirely.  It’s gotten me where I am today, but social learning is going to take it from here.

“… second star on the right, and straight on ‘til morning.”  J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

So … what has the world of social media brought you?  Any surprises?

An idea that didn’t go anywhere …

"Here Lies a Good Idea. Don't Let Your Id...

“Here Lies a Good Idea. Don’t Let Your Idea Die. Put it in the Suggestion Box Today” – NARA – 514482 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So last year I had this idea for a way to evolve training for both our clients and our staff.

Essentially, the idea was to have online, self-study, or asynchronous, courses for our client groups, to teach them about our business, what we could do for them, and how to make the most of our service offerings.

A secondary tier, or phase, of the training would have introduced clients to the way we do our work, a kind of insider’s guide, which I termed a certification program.  Taking some of these more advanced courses could have been an asset for our hiring group, so that when jobs were posted, the links to these courses could be included, and completing them could give applicants an advantage, because they would have some knowledge of our business and the work that we do.

Internally, our training products could be converted to online, self-study materials as well, designed to harmonize with the public ones, and in conjunction with informal learning strategies like coaching and mentoring, replace the costly and time-consuming, in-class training we now provide.

I contacted a colleague to get her opinion, and she graciously offered to give me a venue to discuss the concept and get some feedback.  I had never written a proposal in our business before, nor did I know how to go about gaining approval for my idea.

While the session was great and I got some serious validation for the idea, I didn’t get much with respect to next steps.  There was a plan in the works for a kind of online suggestion box for employee ideas, but that wouldn’t be up and running until sometime in the next fiscal year.  Aside from that, I really didn’t have any kind of internal platform to promote the idea, gain support, and move forward with it.

I did follow up with some key management figures from other departments, and tried to escalate the idea through my own management team, but didn’t get much response with respect to who I could approach next, or support with respect to how I could present the idea.

I had to be set it aside for the time being.

Though the suggestion box was eventually launched in September of 2011, and I submitted my idea in early October, I haven’t heard anything since.

Maybe my employer isn’t ready to enact my idea yet.

Still, I think it was pretty good, and even if it doesn’t go anywhere, I consider it to be one of my accomplishments.

Have you had an idea that you weren’t sure how to promote or what to do with?  Who did you approach and where did it go from there?

A born storyteller …

Storyteller is just another name for liar.

In grade one, I think all my classmates (and teachers) thought of me as a silly giggler, a liar, and cat-lady-in-training.

I didn’t even know how to write properly yet, so I exercised my creativity by telling my classmates in “show and tell” about the latest stray cat that I picked up on the way home.  They’d always run away after a few days and so I could show the class a different picture from the cat book I’d checked out of the library and tell them that my latest find looked just like that.

Daydreaming was also a preoccupation.  Because my dad had epilepsy, it was thought that I might too and that my habit of totally “zoning out” was actually petit mal seizures.  Later in life, I was formally tested for epilepsy and there was absolutely no sign of it.  I’d just delve so deeply into my fantasy world that there was nothing could tear me away.

If I was born 20 years later, I’d probably have been diagnosed as ADHD and drugged into submission.  As it was, I was “spoken to” and ignored.  I was deemed enthusiastic but disruptive by different teachers for different reasons.

Can you see the mischievious? Just call me “wee devil” 🙂

Really, I was painfully shy, and the giggling was a way of deflecting uncomfortable situations, which meant pretty much everything.  To this day, I still laugh when I offer a thought or suggestion to my colleagues or manager at work.  If it’s too radical, my suggestion can always be dismissed as a joke, right?

The daydreaming-at-inappropriate-times thing stayed with me until my mid-twenties, and then I started to get clever about it.  I’d restrict my mental ramblings to my “alone time” so no one would be put off by my apparent disinterest in whatever it was they were saying.  Now I cultivate solitariness.  As I writer, I have reason to, but as a creative soul, I simply can’t do without.

As for the telling of stories, I’ve always wondered what might have happened if someone had recognized what it was I was trying to express and encouraged me to turn those imaginary powers to something else.  If I’d started writing my dreams and stories down earlier, where might I be today?

Ultimately what-ifs and might-have-beens are only intellectual exercises.  None of us have do-overs.

A few months ago, one of the writers I consider to be a mentor, Barbara Kyle, presented this TED talk (via Volconvo) to her creative network: http://www.volconvo.com/forums/content/226-do-schools-kill-creativity.html

It is 20 minutes well-spent, trust me.  Sir Ken is incredibly funny, but his message is dead serious.  Currently, it is not the business of schools to nurture creativity, but to create useful/functional members of society.  I rather agree with Sir Ken, that only by nurturing the creativity of our children will schools produce truly valuable members of the human community.

I’ve also been disturbed by the resurfacing of the ADHD debate.  Are children being over diagnosed/incorrectly diagnosed?  This debate has been around for decades and it still hasn’t been resolved.

Some food for thought:

Were you a creative child smothered by a school system that didn’t recognize what your “acting out” meant?  How did you come to understand your creativity and who helped you through that sometimes agonized and agonizing process?  Did you ever feel less valued or less intelligent because you were more creative than academic?