Sunday, December 15, 2013

Soapbox Saturday #5

So another Saturday on a Sunday. I did write most of it yesterday...but maybe I should change it to Sundays...

This past week has been going by so very slow. I leave back for the states next Thursday which is only a couple of days away, but it feels like forever. I suppose that's natural. But I am still annoyed at my course coordinator for not letting me miss the poster presentation even though there are 9 other authors and only 2 of us need to speak and if I had left Wednesday (the day of the presentation) I could have saved a ton of money. Ah well. I will get home eventually and that's all that matters.

Today, I am currently trying to get up the motivation to get up and dressed and out the door to print out some journal articles that I need to take with me over the break so that I can spend my month at home studying. I know that doesn't sound particularly cool, but trust me, it's much cooler than it sounds. 

Anyway, onto the soapbox. *grabs the soapbox*

You may have seen some of the memes that have been floating around Facebook and other social media websites which I have lumped into two groups; the "real women have curves" group and the "puberty" group. The "real women have curves" generally either depict thin women and curvy women asking why people find those thin women attractive or a, quite honestly, overweight woman trying to justify the fact that she's overweight because "real women have curves". And the puberty ones all depict a well known actress at a young, pre-pubescent age next to one of her (or him but those aren't as common) as an adult and commending puberty for "doing it right".

In an age where young peoples are under constant pressure to look perfect and "sexy" I cannot even begin to tell you how angry these memes make me. I know this may sound a little contradictory to my last post where I said that I firmly believe that we should talk to children about sex when they hit puberty. But not in a way that would teach...sexiness or the mechanics just telling them what happens, what the consequences are, and what a big decision it is to encourage them to think about their actions.

Anyway, I'll start with why these puberty memes make me angry because it's fairly easy. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is funny looking when they are between the ages of 13-15. I think it's terribly disgusting to go around pointing out that we all turn into gorgeous people from awkward teenagers. Especially young people. It's tough enough for them out there in high school in that sea of hormones and cattiness without telling them that they look funny. It's just wrong.

Now we get onto the "real women have curves". There are a multitude of reasons why these make me angry.

Here's the thing. I am 5 feet and 6 inches and 120 pounds (125 pounds on a good day). I eat healthy most of the time but do definitely indulge myself with chocolate and other goodies, I exercise a little every day and fairly intensely two times a week, and I do on occasion sit around all day in my pajamas watching TV. I do not have Marilyn Monroe curves. I do have curves, but they are petite curves because I am petite person. And nothing I have done changes the fact that I am small. So, here's the other thing. I AM A REAL WOMAN. Imagine how infuriating it is for me to have my womanhood called into question just because I am petite. Imagine how angry I get when I'm told that I'm not as beautiful as other women because my curves are small.

Quite honestly, it makes me...just angry. Not frustrated like a lot of other things do. This one actually makes me angry. I don't get actually angry often, but when I do I turn into a not so nice person. Seriously, there are some pretty mean things I have said about these women in the memes who are clearly overweight and just trying to justify the fact and all of them involve twinkies. Seriously, bragging about having big boobs when you're massively overweight doesn't count.

Do the people who make these memes realize that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that it's not up to them to decide which body type is beautiful and which isn't? Seriously, it's just so frustrating to see these pictures floating around which basically tell some women that they are beautiful because they have curves and other women that they aren't because they don't. AND I am sick and tired of being the butt of jokes because of my size, especially when it comes from people who are obviously insecure about their own weight because that means I have to be the bigger person and just let the jokes slide over me when I could tear them to shreds like they were trying to do for me. *sigh* And sometimes I don't want to be the bigger person.

Let's get one thing straight. I am beautiful. I am smoking hot. I am dangerously attractive even though I don't have curves. And it took me years and years and years to finally be able to tell myself that I am beautiful. And I don't need anyone telling me that I'm not because I don't conform to their standards. No one needs that. Beauty doesn't come just from the person's body type. All body types can be beautiful so long as the personality is beautiful. The hottest person on the face of this earth is ugly if their a horrible human being.

These memes are terrible and send an awful message to people.

*gets off of soapbox*

Start being nice to others people. We all have to live in this world together. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Soapbox Sunday #4

Ah, another Soapbox Saturday being posted on a Sunday. Yesterday was a pretty busy day. I had to up and out early to get to Peterhead for the tae kwon-do grading (at which I got an A pass and won the grading trophy for the day...not that it's a big deal or anything). It was an all day event and then I had friends coming over for some wine and chatting. So, not much time to get things written. Anyway:

*grabs soapbox*

No seriously. Why don't we talk about sex? Why has it become such a social stigma to talk about sex? I'm not talking about nitty gritty details. I mean, I have to business in anyone else's sex life and no one has any business in mine. But why do we hide the concept of sex? I argue that we should be frank and open about sex especially to our children.

My first point is that teenagers are already thinking about sex. I've heard a lot of people argue that they don't want their kids to have sex so they don't talk to them about it because that means that their teenager won't be thinking about it. I really hate to burst people's bubbles, but *gets out monogrammed bubble bursting needle* your teenager is already thinking about sex. It's not like there's a 'sex mechanism' in the human brain (ok, there is a sort of sex mechanism in the brain located near the brain stem, but that's not the point) that only turns on when sex is mentioned for the first time. If this were true then humans would have died out long ago because we wouldn't be having babies. We are biologically programmed to start thinking about sex when we hit puberty because it used to be that we wouldn't live past the age of twenty-five if we were lucky so we had to procreate as soon as we were able. There's a widely accepted social psychological phenomenon commonly known as the pink elephant phenomenon. And I can prove it. DON'T THINK ABOUT A PINK ELEPHANT! ... You're thinking about a pink elephant aren't you? The more you tell yourself not to think about something, the harder it is to get it out of your brain. Besides that, if you never talk your son or daughter about sex he'll still get erections and she'll still bleed once a month. The only difference is that if you don't talk to them, they won't know what's going on. And I think all teenagers deserve to know what's going on with their body because otherwise it's pretty scary.

Secondly, since we've already established that teenagers are already thinking about sex, wouldn't it be better for them to hear the true facts about sex instead of rumors they hear at school? Things like sex can lead to pregnancy and if they aren't ready to be a parent then they shouldn't be having it or that there are such things as sexually transmitted diseases which could ruin their lives or even that your first time will NOT be magical even if you wait until marriage like all the stories seem to imply. Something that absolutely shocked me is that there are some young girls out there that don't know how babies are made. This terrifies me. Their bodies are able to create life and NO ONE has told them how it happens? I mean, that's a huge commitment and no one had told them how to avoid it except to say this?! Seriously, we've already covered the Pink Elephant phenomenon so do we really think that tactic is going to work? Especially since there are plenty of ways of having sex. Wouldn't it be a good thing to tell a young woman what not to do in order to not get pregnant?!

*storms out of the room and comes back a couple of minutes later*

I'm sorry, it just gets me so angry sometimes.

Thirdly, while I have desire whatsoever to think about how I was procreated, because my parents talked to me about it, it made it more real. It just wasn't this thing that wasn't to be mentioned because it was a big grown up secret. It made it something more which made me think about what the implications and consequences would be if I were to have sex. It made me think how I would handle it if I were to have sex and get pregnant and if I was ready for that responsibility. Because they took the mystery out of it, I wasn't interested in it because it is a lot of responsibility. (Now, I know the whole 'heat of the moment' thing but it might be something to think about.)

Here's my last argument, if you don't talk to your kids about sex then you don't trust them to make smart, informed decisions. I don't care if you want to teach your kids abstinence or not. I'm not telling you that you should tell your kids that it's alright to have sex before marriage. Everyone is different so different life choices will be right for different people. I'm saying that teaching abstinence would be much, much more effective if you told your kids the truth about sex and what a big decision it is. Did you know there is a higher rate of teenage pregnancy in states which teach abstinence only?

Listen, I'm not trying to tell anyone how to live their lives or what is the best path for them to follow. But give your kids the tools to make those smart and informed decisions. You know that School House Rock video? Knowledge is power? While it's a silly song, it's also true. Knowledge is what gives us the power to make smart and informed decisions. Without knowledge, we have a tendency to make absolutely stupid decisions.

*gets off the soapbox* 

Again, this isn't me saying that having sex before marriage is OK and that we should tell our kids that but I am saying that teenagers deserve to know the truth. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Soapbox Saturday #3

I guess this is really Soapbox Sunday. I started writing this yesterday, but I got pretty busy and didn't get a chance to finish it. But the alliteration still works. Anyway, on to the soapbox.

I'm a little ashamed to say that I come from a family of smokers. I don't even care if any of them are reading this, because they know my feelings. Don't misunderstand me, I love them very much and I don't know where I would be without them. I don't know anyone else who would take my calls at ridiculous o'clock at night (or in the morning) when I'm in tears or frustrated and just need to yell. So, I'm in no way ashamed of them because they are pretty great people. I'm just ashamed that they smoke. And here's why.

*grabs the soapbox and hops on up*

Smoking in the most inconsiderate of bad habits. Seriously, no matter how hard you try, you are going to affect someone with your smoking. I honestly don't care what you do to yourself, as long as it doesn't affect me in way that I don't want to be affected (this is, incidentally, how I come about many of my political and personal views, but those are other soapboxes). Let me explain this a little more.

I live in Scotland right? And smoking is a little more socially acceptable here than it is in the States. At least, I see more smokers here but that may be because walking is more of the social norm than in the states. In any case, I come into contact with someone smoking everyday walking into town or walking to campus. And, as much as these people seem to think that smoking outside means that the smoke will just rise up into the atmosphere and disappear which means that no one else will be bothered by it, that's not how it works. The smoke lingers. So, if I'm walking behind someone who is smoking I will inevitably get a good whiff of cigarette smoke. Which, I don't think is fair to me to be honest.

Let's take another example. Like I said, most of my family smokes and a couple of times of the summer my brother and I were in the middle of a conversation inside hiding from the heat when he would want to go outside for a cigarette. Which left me to make the choice, continue the conversation outside in the heat where he would also be smoking or end the conversation there and wait for him to come back inside which could be anywhere from 10-30 minutes. A couple of times I would choose to wait and a couple I would choose to go outside. While I am aware that I was the one to make the choice to go outside where he was smoking, it still put me in the position where I had to make that decision because he wanted to smoke. And my brother tries to be courteous. He goes downwind of me because he knows that I don't like the smell or the feeling or anything. But still, I get a little of it. But then it's MY choice.

And what about my dogs. Smoke is bad for them just as it is bad for us, but they can't do anything about it if someone decides to smoke around them. And they love to be around their people. So even if they decide to go outside the dogs will follow which means that they get some of the smoke which could cause a lot of health problems.

Oh, oh! And what about babies? It makes me the most angry, I mean properly angry, when I see a mother or father smoking around their children. THE MOST ANGRY. It doesn't matter if your leaning out of the car or house window. The smoke still goes around your child and affects their health and well being.

Getting away from all the ways that even if you try to be considerate you really aren't for just a minute, it's unhealthy. Extremely unhealthy. If it were just tobacco leaves, it wouldn't be so bad. But has anyone actually read what are in those things? Someone once told me that breathing in cigarette smoke is just like sitting over a campfire. First of all, if I just sat over a campfire and breathed in the smoke then I would die. Secondly, no it's not. That's just a wrong statement. Campfire smoke doesn't contain rat poisons and tar. Thirdly, when I sit around a campfire I move away from the smoke because I don't like breathing it in. Go figure. If you smoke you are letting those toxins into the world for other people to breathe in even if they don't want it.

My point in all of this is, I respect smokers' right to want to smoke. Really I do. If people want to breathe in toxins which make it more likely to develop lung, throat, and mouth cancer and give them a higher chance of heart disease and high blood pressure then that's their choice. They know the dangers of smoking and if they want to take the risk then that's not my choice. The problem is, that a vast majority of smokers do not respect my right to not want to be exposed to those toxins. Seriously, I once asked a guy if he could please not smoke in the enclosed part of the bus stop because it was getting hard for me to breathe and he said no because it was raining and that I should be more considerate and respect his right to want to smoke. Really? I mean come on! I should not have to stand out in the rain so that I can breathe while YOU smoke. If you have this incredibly unhealthy, bad habit you should respect my right to not want to be exposed to it and you should be the one to stand out in the rain not me. Plus, you're not supposed to smoke in the enclosed bus stop. It's the rules!

If you are walking down the street smoking, even though you are outside, that smoke is still making its way to someone who doesn't want it. And that is disrespectful to them. I have bad asthma which has only gotten worse in this past year and when I walk down the street I don't want to have any more trouble breathing than I already have.

I can respect their right to smoke, but I can't respect their right to smoke while walking down the street right in front of me so that I have to breathe it in. Because they aren't respecting me.

What I'm trying to say is that if you're going to smoke, think about other people and whether or not they want to breathing in that filth. Chances are, there is someone walking around you who doesn't want it so wait to smoke until you are in a designated smoking area. At least then people who don't want to smoke can avoid it. They can't avoid if you're just walking down the street and I think that's pretty rude.

*steps off of soapbox*

I'm not trying to say that everyone should stop smoking. Like I said, it isn't my choice if they want to put that stuff in their bodies. But it should be MY choice if I want those toxins in MY body and it's hard to do that sometimes. And I shouldn't be the one to make compensations for YOUR bad habit. YOU need to be the one to think of other people. If you're going to smoke, try to do it where you aren't affecting anyone else or affecting them very little.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Just in Case

So, just in case you thought I was lying about having some pretty good friends I just wanted to reinforce what I said in my last post with a picture. 

Plate of chocolate cupcakes with a "Happy Thanksgiving" sign and a tiny American flag on a toothpick sticking out of the center one. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. This is my fourth Thanksgiving away from home and might possibly be my last. It's hard to believe actually. It's just one of those things that makes me realise what little time I have left here in Aberdeen. 

So, what am I thankful for?

I'm thankful for wonderful friends who put up with me and have gotten me through some hard times this past year. I'm not an easy person to deal with. I'm obsessive, I'm tense, and I tend to freak out over little things. And yet, my friends have stuck with me and have comforted me when things got a little rough for me last year. And for that, I will always be thankful. I've even started to rekindle some friendships which means I have even more to be thankful for. The past year and a half has been a tough one for me (and this, my final year, is proving to be stressful) and I would never have gotten through it if it weren't for them. 

I am not celebrating by stuffing my face full of delicious food, though I did have a piece of pumpkin pie left over, instead I will go to taekwon-do, tire myself out, and go to sleep before having to spend another couple of hours in the visual lab tomorrow. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Soapbox Sunday #2

Another week has come and gone. As I sit down to write this week's soapbox I have a 9 week old puppy snoring and snoozing in my lap. He's pretty much just what the doctor ordered after a week that week by too fast, but too slow at the same time and was more than pretty stressful. This is Marco. 

Along with being the cutest thing you've ever seen times about ten, he is also a Guide Dog puppy. My 3rd here in the UK and my 7th overall. I love being a puppy raiser/walker. It gives me a sense of fulfillment, it's brought me out of me shell, and I get a constant stream of cute puppies. Sure, it does make me cry...but I do love it. It isn't an easy job and it is sometimes made harder by the public.

Which brings me to today's soapbox.

*grabs the soapbox* I'm not going to get on it because that might wake Marco, but I will rest my feet on it like a foot rest. Same thing right?

The Problem with Fake Service Dogs

Before I begin I just want to say that under ADA regulations service dogs are not legally required to wear any sort of identification when out. That means that they don't have to wear a jacket, harness, leash sign, bandana, or anything saying that they are a service dog. And their handlers are not legally required to carry identification. So, it is hard to tell which are the fake and which are the real and you shouldn't just presume. But, sometimes it's terribly easy to tell who has just slapped a vest they bought over the internet on their pet dog.

You see, it's so easy to buy a vest and fake identification over the internet. All you have to do is type in "Service Dog Vest for sale" in google and you'll find plenty of websites selling them for fairly cheap. Go ahead. Try it. I'll wait.

You see what I mean? It's...terrible really. Fully trained service dogs go through years of training so that they will behave appropriately in public. Being a service dog is a tough job and not every dog is up to the stresses and demands of the job. That's why organizations don't just pass every dog that comes through them. And that's why people have no place parading their pets around as one. Not only is it bad for handlers who use actual service dogs, but it's bad for their pets.

I get it more often than I want to admit. "Hey that's cool! Where can I get a jacket for my pet? I'd like to take him/her everywhere too!" It takes every fiber of my being and every ounce of willpower to speak calmly and not smack them upside the head. As a representative of GDB I can't, but I really, really want to. Even in this post, I'm going to stick to mostly polite terms and stay away from some things I really want to say. I know I said I wouldn't do that during Soapbox Saturdays, but I am a representative of GDB here so I should try and be a little polite.

You see, passing of your pet as a service animal makes my job as a puppy raiser hard, makes the formal trainers' job hard, and makes it hard for handlers who use actual service dogs to lead independent lives get the access they so deserve. Most of the time I am asked to leave somewhere with my puppy it's because, "we had a service dog in here once and it was awfully behaved so we don't allow them anymore." Service dogs are required under ADA regulations to act with a certain decorum in public and a lot of the time, when someone uses one of these internet service dog vests (which they don't need anyway), the dog isn't able to meet those behavioral standards. And they include things like not pestering other patrons, sitting clam and still with their handler, being quiet, not being aggressive, etc. But you get one aggressive pet dog passed off as a service dog and that ruins it for a bunch of people who actually use service dogs.

Or imagine this. You've slapped a cheap service dog jacket you bought over the internet on your chihuahua who has never really been that good around other dogs, let's call her Muffin, and decide to take her into a store. So you're sitting there with Muffin and, because she hasn't been trained since she was 9 weeks old she's a little rambunctious. Maybe barking a little. And in walks in a real service dog and you think, "Ah, doesn't matter. I don't feel guilty because I've got my jacket and Muffin isn't being all that bad." when all of sudden little Muffin bites the real service dog. Now a couple of things could happen. You could have just costs the school or handler hundreds of dollars in medical bills and the dog could shrug off the attack. Or you could cause medical costs and the dog has to retire because the attack traumatizes the dog so much that he/she has to retire which leaves their handler without a service dog.

So, because YOU were SELFISH you have caused access rights problems for people who use service dogs to lead independent lives. Because YOU were SELFISH you caused an actual service dog to retire.

But what about your dog. Real service dogs are usually trained from a very young age to go onto become service dogs. Marco is 9 weeks old and arrived in Aberdeen two weeks ago. Then he won't qualify until he's about 2 years old. That's years of socialization and training which means that he will be used to all kinds of sights and sounds and will know that he's suppose to lie down and go to sleep under the table in the restaurant. And if he's scared of anything, we won't make him be a Guide Dog. But most pet owners don't realize that things like coffee makers, cars, noises, book carts....ANYTHING can be scary to a dog who isn't used to it. Which means, for all you know, you are forcing your dog who is scared out of their mind into a stressful situation because YOU don't want to leave them at home. How fair is that to the dog? NOT AT ALL!

I definitely think that education is a big part of the problem. People don't know how much work goes into being a service dog so they think that any dog can do it. And they can't. That isn't me saying that dogs who are bred from organizations like Guide Dogs for the Blind or Canine Companions for Independence are superior. No, I'm all for self training your own service dog provided that the dog is comfortable with being in public and that the dog has to prove that they can maintain that decorum in public. But, back to education. A lot of store owners think that just because they are a service dog means that they can't kick them out. Untrue. They can't kick them out if the dog is behaving itself, but if the dog is overly pestering other patrons or being aggressive or defecating inside the manager is within full rights to ask the handler to remove their dog from the premises.

And if that's not enough for you people, it is also a FEDERAL OFFENCE to pass off your pet as a service animal.

My honest opinion is this. If it were just people who had outstanding dogs (like my Career Changed "Hilly" would be excellent in stores and restaurants because she was dropped for severe dog distractions...which isn't good when you're entrusted with someone's life) who were passing off their dogs as service animals then I don't think I would care because it wouldn't matter. If every pet out there who was being passed off as a service dog behaved like a service dog should then really, who cares? The problem is that people are stupid and selfish and don't realize that Muffin's growling isn't a friendly hello. So yeah, they've pretty much ruined it for anyone. I don't pass Hilly off as a service animal? Why don't I even though she's got the temperament and the training for one? Because she isn't one!

To sum up, don't pass your pet off as a service animal. Just don't do it. You are making the lives of people who train and use real service animals harder because of your own SELFISHNESS. And if that's not enough for you, it's also very ILLEGAL.

Anywho, CCI is holding a campaign to try and get government involvement in shutting down online stores which sell service dog equipment with proof that the dog is fit for public. I've posted the link below. If you could all please head on over and add your name that would be great.

Oh, and one thing more before I get down off my soapbox. GDB posted this to their facebook page and people got all high and mighty thinking that CCI an GDB were saying that only dogs who came from service dog organizations were fit to be service dogs and that there were trying to make it so that people couldn't self train their own dogs anymore and who did they think they were trying to call other service dogs fake and that it was arrogant and stupid of them to say that they were the only ones who had the power to call a service dog fake.

Ok people, first of all nowhere in the video does it say anything about how only dogs who were bred from organization are fit to be service dogs. No one is saying that and no one at GDB or CCI or any of the other service dog organizations out there want to stop people from self training their own service animal. This campaign is only to help stop the selling of fraudulent service animal equipment to anyone who has $100. Will that make it harder to self train? Damn straight. And it should be hard to get a service dog. People at GDB don't just let anyone waltz in and get a Guide Dog. You need to prove that you're a good handler and then they'll find you a dog which has proven him or herself to be fit for public. You shouldn't be able to just pay some guy $100 and instantly have a service dog. It's a big decision and you need to work for it, the dog needs to work for it, and you need to think seriously about if it's the right lifestyle choice for you. being able to get one so easy makes people forget all of those things. There are plenty of places out there where you can self train your dog by going through the right steps, not just handing over a couple of bucks. I guess that actually clears up all the other points too. No one is claiming to want to "police" the public and say which service animal is fake and which one isn't. We simply want to make it harder for people to pass off their pets as service animals.

Oh and, there was this one person who said that her daughter had some emotional issues and she had a therapy dog and there shouldn't be a need for training because no one trained that dog to be a therapy dog, it just was. And no one brought this up because we were focused on other things and we didn't really want to offend her bu I feel this should be mentioned...those kind of dogs (i.e. emotional support dogs) are not yet covered under ADA regulations (though there are efforts to make such dogs in some circumstances covered). Service dogs are defined as a dog who has been trained to perform a certain service for their handler. Such as guide me, pick up things low to the ground, open doors, etc. Now, I think that maybe the person might not have been explaining it right because some emotional support dogs are covered. Dogs which are paired with veterans with PTSD for example. But they have been trained to help their handler in the case of a PTSD episode. The way this person explained it was just that having the dog there provided comfort and hadn't been trained to do anything but be there, and that unfortunately is not covered in ADA regulations. Like, I've heard of some dogs who are trained to help in extreme panic attacks by making sure the person gets out of the area, sits down, and cuddles them so their heart rate goes down. But they were trained to do that. If it were the case that just having the dog there made you feel better and safer, then I'd bring Hilly everywhere with me because she is my rock. Seriously, I probably wouldn't have some of the panic attacks flying like I currently do if Hilly were with me. But "therapy dogs" are not service dogs and are not covered under ADA regulations.

*gets off soapbox*

Sorry that was a little long, but it's something that is near and dear to my heart. And I hope I was polite. I really tried to be. Really I did. And I'm always much more polite (but firm and authoritative) when I'm out in public, but in the safety of my own blog (which I don't think many people actually read) I felt I could let my blood boil a little more. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Soapbox Saturday #1

As I sit here on this lovely, sunny Saturday morning with my large bowl of oatmeal (making enough for just one is hard) and my homemade cappuccino I I reflect on this past week and ask myself;

What made you angry?

You know, so angry that I wanted grab my little soapbox and get on up and speak to the masses. One thing comes to mind and it's a topic that allows me to kill two birds with one stone. It didn't make me angry per say, but it is an interesting debate. So, without further ado...

*grabs my little soapbox*

Food Addiction does not exist. Every time you say "I love chocolate so much. Seriously, I'm addicted." or justify your eating habits with the simple statement of "I'm addicted." you're wrong. Food addiction isn't real. And here's why.

A hallmark of addiction is dependence. While I'm very well aware of the fact that we all depend on food to live, someone who claims to be "addicted" to a particular kind of food does not need that food to function. I love chocolate. I love it a lot. But I can goes days without eating any without noticing. Another hallmark feature of addiction is the feeling of a loss of control. This one kind of goes hand in hand with dependence. At some point, the substance of abuse will start to run your life; you will no longer have control over dose amount. The only case where this feeling has been reported is in bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. Both of which are already classified as eating disorders. And finally, there is no evidence that withdrawal from a specific food causes any withdraw symptoms. You don't get headaches, the shakes, vomiting, etc. when you stop eating chocolate or sugar or fat.

Now, that's something that has always bothered me. No one says, "I'm addicted to brussel sprouts." The only foods people tend to say they are addicted to have a high sugar and fat content. Evolutionary wise, we are programmed to crave foods that are high in sugar and fat and to find them rewarding when eaten. Why? Because food was not as readily available as it is now. There were no supermarkets. People had to work for their food and sometimes, there wasn't nearly enough to go around. Foods that are high in sugar and fat came around very rarely and when they did it was a good idea to eat them because you were never too sure when your next meal would come around. So, in a survival setting, it's good thing that we find these food rewarding.

This brings me to my next point. I don't believe that food addiction is real because addiction is a fairly serious neurological disorder and I don't think that throwing the term around willy nilly is safe or a good idea. But in the long run, people use the term to excuse over eating and explain the obesity 'epidemic'. And to be honest, it doesn't matter. Using the excuse, "I'm addicted, that's why I over eat." is as bad as saying, "I have big bones."

Now, I may have absolutely no place in this conversation being the teeny tiny person that I am, but even if food addiction exists it doesn't fully explain why the rates of obesity have been growing in recent years. I said above that our bodies are programmed to want foods that are high in sugar and fat because eating those foods would help our bodies in times of food scarcity. But we don't have food scarcity anymore (seriously we don't; in recent years there has never been a time where enough food for everyone has not been produced...but that's another soapbox). Food, not just highly palatable food, is available everywhere at any time in developed countries for absolutely no work.

So, our bodies are programmed to want these highly palatable foods but they are not programmed to be able to handle the amount of them we are eating because they were originally meant to be rare treats. We also don't have to go out there and burn calories to get our food anymore. We don't have to hunt, to go out and gather, to farm. So instead of burning calories to get calories, we as a society are just getting calories.

For me, "food addiction" is just a simple way to explain and justify over eating when we have no real proof of the existence of food "addiction".

*steps off of soapbox*

That's my soapbox for today. I'm not saying I'm right, I'm just saying that there isn't nearly enough evidence to classify food as an addiction and I think it makes light of "real" addictions to just throw around the word. Actually, it does make me angry. But again, I'm no expert so don't believe me if you don't want to or let me know your opinion. I'm just someone who is learning about this in a University course so it's very possible that I'm wrong.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Half Way of Half Way

So, here it is at the tail end of week 7 of classes. Each semester is 12 weeks of class, so that means that I'm half way done with the first half of my last year as an undergraduate student. (OK, technically it means that I'm more than half way done, but you all understand what I mean right?) So, what have I been doing these past 7 weeks? Actually, that's a pretty good question. I'm not sure I even know.

I know I've been going to class. I have two core psychology classes; Vision & Action and Advanced Topics in Language. The first half of the vision lectures were all about visual impairments due to brain lesions (really cool stuff guys...the brain is amazing) and we'll be getting into the 'action' portion of the series next week. And we've just gotten through with dyslexia and other language disorders and have moved onto sign language in the psycho-linguistics class. All in all, I'm enjoying my lecture choices in psychology. What is either a hit or a miss depending on the lecturer is my "extended studies" class; An Appetite for Food and Health. It's all about food...and health. I guess the topic itself is pretty interesting, but some of those lecturers were pretty bad.

I also know that I've been working on my undergraduate thesis. I can't really say what it's about just yet as I don't know if some of my friends who have agreed to take part in the study are reading, but I can say that it's visual psycho-physics. It's a dense topic, but I'm slowly understanding it and should get my ethics in today (fingers crossed) which means that I can start testing next know, as long as the ethics committee approves it.

And I've started up with tae kwon do. I wanted to join up in first year and then for some reason, never did. So, I did this year. I'm having a good time with it and it means that two times a week I get to punch a pad repetitively which I've found to be a great relaxer.

Oh, something that did happen last week was that I got pretty sick. It was terribly. I hate getting sick and I hate it even more, I've discovered, when my parents aren't around (I know, almost 3 1/2 years in Scotland and I've only been sick once). Unfortunately, I was unable to get to the bathroom in time and ended up ruining a bunch of journal articles and notes for both my critical review and my thesis which I had been reading before bed and mistakenly left on the floor...never again. It's actually the worst feeling in the world waking up the morning after having terrible food poisoning or the worst stomach bug of your life, being ordered on bed rest, and then realising that as you were cleaning up the night before those paper you threw away were ALL notes for large pieces of work. I may have cried a little. Or a lot. You know. I'm still chasing down some of the articles I had for my thesis, but think I've mostly got the Critical Review covered. At least I hope it's covered.

Oh, what's my Critical Review on? Well, that's a post for another day as it's pretty long. Probably Monday when I really start writing it all down. That way I'll know if I can explain it properly.

Also, I've decided to start something called "Soapbox Saturdays". You see, I'm a highly opinionated person. I may not always have the time to research issues that come up on a daily basis so I tend to stay pretty quiet about my own ideas. I don't often grab my soapbox and start a speech because I know that I don't have time to research these issues so I don't want to say something stupid, but also because I have an obsessive personality. I don't let things go (hey, at least I admit it right?), so on those rare occasions I do grab my soapbox, I find myself unable to sleep at night because I'm thinking about what I said. So, I've decided to grab my soapbox once a week and post it up here. Not a lot of people read my blog so I figure I can get my rants out there without offending too many people. Not that the point of this is to offend anyone. I'm of the opinion that everyone is entitled to their own...well, opinion and I'm pretty open minded and love hearing other people's points of view. So, this won't be to tell anyone that they are wrong or stupid or ignorant, it's just a way for me to get my ideas out there so I can stop obsessing over them.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Peach Body Wash

Unfortunately, we lost one of our flatmates this year. She decided to move out of our house and into a flat with some different friends. I won't say that I didn't see it coming, but I will say that I am sorry at how it all turned out.

But we thankfully found a new flatmate, a friend of ours. She's very sweet and is technically in our year, but because she had to spend a year in France for her degree, she has to do third year here as well.

She had moved in her stuff to the bathroom in a nice basket on the windowsill. In Marlene's words "she was nosy and happily poked through the basket". She said she found some peach body wash in the basket from The Body Shop which smelled amazing. Now, I just though this was Marlene being hyperbolic albeit she isn't hyperbolic all that often. But Marlene has a poor sense of smell so I just figured that it was strong enough for her to smell, but not so strong that it was overpowering. I thought nothing of it for a couple of days.

Then thee was a knock at the door and I receive not one, but two parcels from The Body Shop online store. One was for Marlene and the other for Alice. Marlene talked about the peach wash and said that after she smelled it she just had to have it. Again, I thought little of this. I mean, how good could a body wash smell right? Really, couldn't be that good.

That night Alice took a shower.

I think that evening our bathroom turned into heaven. Seriously, that smell must be what heaven smells like. It was like...raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. It was like all the familiar and comfortable things from your childhood in one small bottle of body wash.

I had to have this shower gel.

I've been a little lazy lately. Haven't been sleeping well, the whys are of little importance. What is important is that this means that weekends have been particularly slow for me (and that I have had to rush to class and work, but I'm sure this next week I'll be better). So, for a week I have been dreaming about this smell just waiting for the day that I would be able to smell it again. Today, I was able to get up and out and take a trip to The Body Shop.

But, I couldn't find the peach stuff when I got there! I was sad and disheartened at the prospect that I had missed the limited edition peach scent. But I did find some lovely massage oil and I've had this horrible crick in my neck and tight knot in my shoulder that I just can't get out. So, a ten pound bottle of massage oil was small change if I could make my back feel better. When I got to the till, they told me that it was buy 1 get 1 half off on body care. I had to ask. Did they have any of the peach!?

They did! *cue the happy dance* They brought up all the peach products, but because I didn't want to spend my whole paycheck on peach body care stuff, I had to choose. So I got myself some lovely, overpriced peach body scrub. I don't even care that it was overpriced because I have that smell.

Three out of four of us have something peachy from The Body Shop. Surely we'll convert the fourth soon.

Been A While

It's been a while since my last post. Last year wasn't my easiest of years, emotionally or mentally. So I've been a little MIA online recently. But, a nice rest at home for the summer and I'm...well I'm getting better.

I did fairly well on my exams last semester. I could have done better overall in the classes if I had been completely present, but I did well enough to be comfortably sitting on a 2:1 if this year goes well and a 1st if I do extra amazing this year. I'm definitely going to try.

I'm currently working on my undergrad thesis in visual psychophysics. I unfortunately can't explain much about the experiment itself because I'm still working on the ethics to begin running it and I can't have people read this then take part in the experiment. But I can say that I am looking more into S-cones. I love S-cones. They are weird, quirky, little things. Much different that L- or M-cones. Anyway, I'm excited about it and my adviser is really proactive and helpful. I've hear of a few classmates who keep trying to get in touch with their supervisors and mine responds to my emails within a couple of hours at the most. Long story short: she's awesome.

Can't believe that I'm already 1/6th of the way through my first semester of my final year at University.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Ah, I can't believe my idea of posting once a week just sort of fell apart. Ah, well. I suppose that's what happens when you become unbelievably busy.

I am just at the end of my first week of spring break and it's been fairly relaxing so far. Within this next week I hope to start making notes for two of the exams. I know that exams seem like they are forever away, but in reality after these next two weeks I only have four weeks of class and another two weeks of exam digest. So, eight weeks in all. And for four of those weeks I will be busy with school work. It really seems like the best idea.

My practical this past semester was a lot of fun. I mean, it was dense and difficult to understand at times, but it was fun. And my adviser was so helpful. A big difference from last semester. The report was due in the day before spring break started (along with another essay; thank you psychology department) so now I'm just waiting on my grade. I'd like to think that I put in a lot of effort and might get a decent grade. But again, dense subject.

The funniest thing about this practical is that I'm seriously considering doing this kind of thing for my dissertation. Mostly because I really enjoyed working with the adviser and think I could work well with her on my dissertation. Even if it is a dense subject, having an adviser that is a good communicator makes all the difference.

That's right. I am official choosing dissertation advisers. It's a fairly scary prospect especially when I look at how quickly this past year has gone. I wouldn't say it's been the best year, in fact it's been difficult for multiple different reasons. But it's almost over and my last year is about to begin. I don't know, I'm ready to be done with University. I'm ready to start looking at what I want to do with my life. But the thought of leaving here is a little daunting. But nothing is holding me to the UK...ah, I suppose I really have a whole year to think about where I am going to live. Still, a year isn't that long.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Final Exam and First Week Back

My last exam went just like the first two. I walked out feeling confident that I had put everything that need to be mentioned in the essays and I wrote for 45 minutes straight for each one. So, I had three exams where I think I passed with firsts and one where I'll be happy if I passed. 

My first week back made this semester look much better than last semester. The reason I believe I didn't do well in my Methods exam was because the lecturer really didn't lecture. Now, I grew up with two University lecturers/professors. I learned from a really, really young age that teachers don't hand out grades, the students earn them. So, I never blame the teacher for a grade (I do expect them to tell me how I can do better in the future though). I don't believe that it's the job of the lecturer to teach us I believe that it's their job to give us the tools to learn. To give us the foundation to build upon. This lecturer didn't give us the foundation...he barely gave us the nails. Plus, have I mentioned that I don't like multiple choice? Especially since I don't believe that we were taught in a way that would allow us to do well in multiple choice. Anyway, this is a long winded way to say that the Methods lecture on Monday was much better than last semester. 

I'm also pretty excited about this semester's practical. I'm in the practical group for colour vision! It's one of my favourite subjects. While it's really thick and researching it is pretty hard, it's still pretty cool. Should be fun.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Third Exam

Oh, my third exam did not go well today at all. I studied for it for about two hours a day for five days. That's ten hours. Plus about 8 hours of lecture in class and another 4 hours of lecture outside of class. Along with the 23 hours of SPSS tutorials. And yet, with all of that I sat down in the exam and everything must have just fluttered away from my little brain.

Half the time I was thinking, "What in the world does he want from me?" Along with the fact that I just don't do well in Multiple Choice Exams, the wording of the questions were really...wordy and thick. I just wanted to shout, "Ask me a straightforward question!" I went through all of the questions at the beginning of the lectures, you know those questions about what you were suppose to learn during the lecture, and answered all of them more in depth than the answers online. And yet, I am not confident. There were three...maybe four questions that I know I got correct...out of 60.

It happens every time I go in to do a multiple choice exam. I second guess myself instead of just jotting down my first impression. *sigh*

I don't want a good grade on this one. Not anymore. I just want to pass.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2 Down 2 To Go

As it turns out, my second exam was moved to today after I looked up the date, time, and place in the first week of January. I never thought to look again because I had it written down in two places. I'm just really, really thankfully that it didn't get moved to Tuesday at 9:00am since I would have missed it.

So far, I'm feeling pretty good. So good in fact that I am a little suspicious. You know when you think you've done really well, but then you get the final mark and feedback and it turns out you totally and completely misunderstood the question? That's the kind of feeling I'm having right now. On Monday when I flipped over the paper and looked through the choice of questions I had to answer...I knew them. And I walked out feeling like there wasn't anything else that I could have added into the essay. I put in what they said in lecture and even a few things that they didn't say in lecture and that I had read in background reading. And I felt the same today! I'm cautiously optimistic.

My next two exams are Thursday and Friday of next week. And oh am I having trouble studying for these. They were my two least favourite courses. I wish that they had stacked them differently so that at least one of my favourite courses would force me to study for the not so fun ones.

Well...I'm on a sort of streak and I don't want to ruin that. I suppose that could be my motivation.

Monday, January 14, 2013

First Exam of Third Year

Here we are. The morning of my first exam of the year and what am I doing? Sitting and playing a computer game. Well, I guess right now I'm writing this blog post (been a while huh?). My plan was to do some last minutes studying this morning before heading off to the exam hall for my exam that starts at noon...but I can't bring myself to do it. Last night between 5:30 and 6:00 I just thought, "I can't do this anymore." and put down my writing implements, put away journal articles, and closed the Blackboard webpage. I know I probably should have pushed through and done a few more hours of work, but I was just so...done. I will do a little before going in, but I'm not going to scramble around trying to cram a while bunch of facts into my brain. At this point, I know it or I don't.

My confidence level is abysmal. These exams are worth 75% of my grade for the course and I'm pretty sure that I have to get between 16 and 18 depending on the course to get the grades that I want this year. Fairly nerve wracking. Especially for someone who doesn't test well and who sometimes forgets things as soon as she reads them. Everyone keeps telling me that I'll be fine and I'm choosing to believe them, but I wish I could tell myself that everything will go smoothly.

I'm off to make sure I understand the different models of memory...maybe somewhere in there I'll discover why I don't remember so well.

4 exams:
January 14: Biological Psychology
January 15: Perception
January 24: Methods A (Statistics basically)
January 25: Psychological Assessment