Archive for the ‘Studies’ category

Scholarly Gainz

February 16, 2019

A while back I cleaned up my desk at home and found these white papers. I printed them like four or five years ago. At that moment, I realized I had implemented and have made sum scholarly gainz.

Congratulations Alicia!

March 22, 2015

“The nurses were all
angels in my eyes.”
~~~~~Randy Castillo

Yesterday I went to Albuquerque to attend a Pinning Ceremony for the 2014 Pima Medical Institute graduates. The ceremony honors the newest people entering the nursing profession. My brother’s girlfriend has worked so hard and we are all very proud of her. Alicia literally spent thousands of hours studying and working. I can even recall one night last summer…she studied while we were night fishing (see Night Prowl).

I was also proud of my brother for making sure she would feel special yesterday. He had me make her a handheld arrangement of two dozen roses. He insisted that the arrangement featured Stargazer Lilies because she loves them. I took the time to hand glue jewels to the base for a sparkly touch. She looked so beautiful holding it and the ceremony was very touching. Congratulations to a woman with the tenacity to make it through!

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•Alicia & Thomas•

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•Alicia, Thomas, Isaiah & Ryan•

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•The Pinning/Candle Ceremony•

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•The flowers I made for Alicia from my brother•

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•Alicia with her Dad, Sister & Son•

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•Alicia with Our Family•

A Nutrition Myth

February 7, 2015

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What an awesome read! I love the Physical Culturist web site. This was the post from today. I’m an email follower and I received the email this morning. This article is so true. The “science” is simple…good food matters.

A Nutrition Myth that Keeps
us Fat, Sick and Tired
Posted on February 7, 2015
by Physical Culturist
Article by Mark Hyman,
Elephant Journal

Inducing Strength: The Musical Drug

January 15, 2015

I’m ten minutes away from driving into the gym parking lot. The music is pushing through my overly used iPod connector, through my overly used car stereo, into my soon to be deaf ears, and then into my hell bent mind. Lucky the windows on my runner are tinted because anybody who saw me on my way to the gym would surely think I have lost it! This week, all I needed to hear from the time I left work until the time I left the gym floor was “All is Fair in Love and Brostep.” Skrillex did the trick…flipping me out…getting me loc…putting me into that fiery zone.

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The zone. It’s that place where I become unapproachable. It’s the place where music makes chills course through my body and mind like one thousand steeds. I feel powerful and in complete control. I feel strong. I look angry, but it is the happiest time of my day. If there was a hidden camera in my vehicle, you could see me making tough faces and roaring to psych myself out for the iron. It works. I actually don’t need pre-workout supps. Only music. Tonight I discovered that it is indeed a biochemical reaction that I’ve been using to my advantage for years. The reactive chills make me push it harder.

For several years, scientists have published papers in scholarly journals such as Current Biology and Nature Neuroscience on this very topic. Why am I not surprised that there is science behind my reaction to sound? MasHerrero, Zatorre, Rodriguez-Fornells, Marco-Pallares, and Salimpoor have been studying the heck out of music. I wonder what they actually listen to? They are researching the effects of music on our bodies and minds. Their latest studies are reward based, but these researchers have actually documented and graphed how music can change us in mysteriously scientific ways!

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The biochemical mechanisms at play (no pun intended) really trigger a curious high with a release of dopamine. Dopamine is the lovely neurotransmitter which is pleasure based and is associated with food, drugs and sexual arousal. Salimpoor says that “dopamine is important because it makes us want to repeat behaviors. It’s the reason why addictions exist, whether positive or negative.” No wonder I keep on wanting to bench press a car ha!? Haha… He also said “it’s not the music that is giving us the ‘rush.’ It’s the way we’re interpreting it.” I love music and can’t live without it!!

And so…I leave you with this tune that gets me super pumped. “All Is Fair in Love and Brostep” features the Ragga Twins. The song was produced by Skrillex and was written by Sonny Moore, Trevor Destouche and David Destouche. Pure awesomeness!!! It’s all about “da energy an de powa.” Turn it up and feel it!

Unique Identifiers: A Closer Look at Biometric Technology in New Mexico

December 3, 2014
Biometrics_by Felicia Lujan_December2014

|Biometrics~ A digital composite by Felicia Lujan. This composite is composed of 13 layers, 8 masks, 3 color overlays, and a Gaussian blur. The composite includes images of binary code and components of ocular, palm vein, and voice recognition scans.|


**NOTE: This research was
not intended to promote or
renounce the use of biometric
systems, though I do find the
technology extremely interesting
and useful in most cases. I
understand that the use
of this technology is considered
controversial by some. I intend
to continue my exploration into
how biometric technology is
being used around the world
for the greater good.

________________________________
I am an archivist with a deep love of technology, which is one reason I pursued a masters level certification in digital information management. A little over a week ago, I was in a meeting that reignited my interest in biometrics. I must admit that I was naïve in my assumption that my state was not a pioneer in this industry. First off, I didn’t know that the central nervous system of New Mexico state government (aka the State Data Center at the Department of Information Technology) utilizes biometric technology as a method of security. After that meeting I came home curious about how involved New Mexico is when it comes to biometric research and implementation. The writer, the researcher, the analyst, the special agent in me took over and that night I added biometric engineer to my list of dream jobs that I would love to have. So…what type of education does a biometric engineer need? Most commonly, a biometrics engineer has: a computer science degree; a computer language certification like Java or C++; and good problem-solving, people, and technical skills.

I found an informative link online titled “Become a Biometrics Engineer: Education and Career Roadmap.” Hum? Well, according to this plan, there are only 7 “popular schools” specializing in advancing a career in biometrics. The page said that “biometric technologies include complex equipment designed to analyze personal identification markers unique to each individual, such as fingerprints, ear lobes, vein patterns, voices, and iris shapes.” Through this research, I discovered that the technology is not limited to “individuals” or people here in New Mexico. I did know that biometric engineers were software developers, but there was a lot that I didn’t know before I embarked upon this research over the Thanksgiving break. Ear lobes? Veins? Hum? Didn’t know those were used as unique identifiers? We are all well aware of the TV shows touting the sexy use of biometrics, like CSI and most recently my beloved Scandal, but that’s just on TV right? A dead guy’s index finger couldn’t possibly be used to confirm his identity? Could it Shonda? Maybe I should ask Chien Le?

The most information dense white paper I discovered was written by Chien Le of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Washington University in November of 2011. Le wrote A Survey of Biometrics Security Systems and his research introduced biometric security systems. It also outlined application fields for biometric technologies, solutions, middle-ware and software, advantages and disadvantages, acronyms, and the future uses of biometrics. Damn! Chien Le beat me to the punch didn’t he?! Here it was…all laid out for my thirsty mind. Le’s paper says there are “seven basic criteria for biometric security systems.” These are “uniqueness, universality, permanence [hummm?? Do I hear digital preservation?], collectability, performance, accessibility and circumvention.” I don’t completely understand some of the criteria, but it was very useful to read over the types of biometric solutions outlined by Le. Current technologies include: facial recognition detectors, fingerprint readers, voice recognition, iris scanners, vein recognition, DNA biometric systems, and 2D barcode scanners, among others.

This technology can have good uses, but there are many privacy advocates who are against the use of any biometrics. In December of 2013, Scientific American published Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks by Oliver Munday with a byline which read “without explicit safeguards, your personal biometric data are destined for a government database.” The article starts with the sentence “security through biology is an enticing idea.” Yeah it is. Is that all it is though? An idea? I think not. Maybe I’m not worried about privacy as much as I should be? The article is basically a call to United States Congress for “lasting protections against the misuse of biometric data.” Munday quoted an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who seems to fear that biometric data will be used genetically to test for criminal predisposition. I’m actually not sure that’s a bad thing? I guess my only concerns at this point would be relative to health information and insurance coverage. When it comes to physical security and data security, personally, I think that biometric technology is necessary. It is a way to uniquely protect data, which in the end equals the preservation of knowledge and heightened security.

Over the weekend I started whittling through what I found. I read a great deal of articles and a few white papers before I started to look at projects going on closer to home. The more I researched this topic, the more information I found. I was most interested in how biometric systems actually work, so I focused my mind on the technical aspects. I had questions like…what are the major components of a biometric system? Who uses these systems? One of my questions was answered in Le’s paper. I have a sore throat now, so last night I wondered…what if a person needed to use voice recognition and something was wrong with their voice? How is that accounted for in designing a successful system? According to Le, there was no solution. A voice recognition system will not recognize a hoarse voice wave. So now that we have some background on the basics of biometrics, let’s take a look at what I found going on right here in my state. I was able to locate information on at least ten concrete areas where biometric technology is being used in New Mexico from at least 2003-2014. I’m sure there are many projects I missed, but frankly, this could be a thesis and maybe even a dissertation. This is just a quick look at highly visible projects I came across over the last week.

We will start with the New Mexico Department of Information Technology (DoIT) since it is a meeting with this office that rekindled my interest in this technology. DoIT is “responsible for infrastructure IT services provided 24x7x365 which includes: the State’s telecommunications system, two-way public safety radio, digital microwave, the State’s core data network and internet connectivity, and the State’s Data Center.” It is here, in the State Data Center where biometric technologies are being used for data security. I felt impressed with my state when I learned that and tomorrow I will get a tour of the center. “The State’s Data Center provides a secure facility with redundant power and cooling which houses many of the State’s critical IT systems including the State’s mainframe and agency servers. This division also provides enterprise system services which include the State’s consolidated email system…” It will be interesting to see what type of biometric security the agency is using as of late. I am guessing a finger or palm scanner?

The two strangest projects I found information on were tied to the use of biometrics on kids and animals in New Mexico. On April 3, 2013, there was a news release put out by KOAT (channel 7) titled Los Lunas School Offers Biometric Scans at Lunch. What? Seriously? Yes. Seriously. The school apparently tried to implement a palm vein scanner in the lunch room instead of good old meal tickets or cards. Parents were not happy about the suggestion of using infrared wavelengths (electromagnetic radiation) during the lunch hour to ID their children. The parents fought off the proposal which would have allowed scanners to recognize a unique vein pattern in the child’s palm and they won. I wasn’t sure which seemed stranger…scanning kids or scanning animals? I also read about how the New Mexico livestock industry is using Retinal Vascular Pattern (RVP) for livestock identification. RVP is the pattern of blood vessels at the back of the eye. It’s is being called the new way of branding animals. I wonder how ranchers feel about that since they must prefer the old burn and freeze methods? What’s a brand without cowboy symbology right?

I discovered that the national labs and the air force bases are also using biometrics. Of course, this was no surprise. I read a white paper Chris Aldridge prepared for Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in June of 2013. Sandia Report No. SAND2013-4922 is titled Mobile Biometric Device (MBD) Technology: Summary of Selected First Responder Experiences in Pilot Projects. This report was concentrated on the use of MBDs to enroll individuals in databases and perform “identification checks of subjects in the field area,” for “military, law enforcement, and homeland security operations.” The report was a multi-agency/multi-state project with 3M Cogent Systems and involved: Iowa, Colorado, California, D.C., Texas, Washington (Seattle), Arizona, Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Idaho. I think the most interesting part of this study used a “mock prison riot” for first responders out of West Virginia. We all know how critical that information is given New Mexico’s prison riot history. Many of the agencies studied for this report are using “Fusion devices.” Fusion was developed by 3M Cogent Systems for the Department of Defense. A large part of studies in this field are tied to law enforcement, but currently the technology trend is leaning towards cyber security.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) says biometrics are important because they: secure facilities, protect access to computer networks, counter fraud, screen people at our borders, and fight crime. The NIST says this technology is used to manage identities for: first responders at the scene of a natural disaster, border patrol, soldiers in theater, and police officers on the street. It makes sense that the following projects are closely related to the projects cited in the Sandia report. In New Mexico, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uses the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to support criminal justice DNA databases. The National DNA Index System or NDIS is part of CODIS. The FBI uses biometrics to analyze data from DNA databases and for latent print analysis. Holloman Air Force Base is using the 49th Security Forces Defense Biometric Identification System which is comprised of hand-held scanners. The scanners are used to screen people entering the base to verify the access authorization. Identity is established using barcode technology and fingerprints. In February of 2011, it was announced that Santa Fe County was using biometrics to “remove aliens convicted of a crime.” It can also be noted that between 2003 and 2005, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) researched the use of biometrics in handgun grips while working with a New Mexico biometrics company. The NAE was interested in developing biometric grip sensors, but a 2005 report declared the tests a failure.

I also located evidence of the health care systems in New Mexico using biometric technology. The University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) offers Biometrics Screening Services as part of Employee Health Plans. These screenings are said to align with recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Ommmm…Maybe this is where my privacy fears rest? In 2013, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine released a Joint Consensus Statement on Biometric Health Screening for Employers. According to the “statement,” the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines biometric screenings as “the measurement of physical characteristics such as height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and aerobic fitness that can be taken at the worksite and used as part of a workplace health assessment to benchmark and evaluate changes in employee health status over time.” I am a fitness freak, but that seems crazy? What if something is wrong with me and I don’t know? The statement outlines the “purpose of screenings” and I found it kind of scary. What if they find out I experience shortness of breath or I’m genetically predisposed to cancer? Will they drop me from my insurance plan?

In New Mexico health circles, I also located a “Fingerprint Techniques Manual,” which was prepared by the New Mexico Department of Health. The manual had very interesting graphic illustrations on the fundamentals of fingerprints. This training tool covered from patterns to arches to loops to lines to deltas to cores to whorls to scars of the fingerprints. The machines can read all these intricate things. The Division of Health Improvement uses this technology as part of the Caregivers Criminal History Screening Program. Makes more sense than the biometric screenings. I feel comfortable with this use. This type of use can protect people from abuse or other forms of criminal activity. I was rather impressed with the 36 page manual. It reminded me that about 15 years ago I applied for a finger print technician position with the Department of Public Safety. I was crushed to learn that these people don’t make very much. I don’t know…I guess you have to be a biometrics engineer to make it out there!? What I do know is that I found a great deal of information about how New Mexico is actively participating in the biometric industry.

I gained useful knowledge through this research into biometrics and then regurgitating what I learned. My son just asked me what I was writing about and when I told him he looked at me with the curiosity that I love and see in myself. I told him “I’m writing about biometrics. Do you know what that is?” I explained with words and then decided it was easier to show a nine year old a catchy tech video with visual candy. Together we learned about the future of biometric systems. Between October and November of this year there were several videos on the use biometric technology. The National Science Foundation released information on a project by a young man studying the use of ocular biometrics in the video game industry for disabled people. In October the Telegraph out of the United Kingdom released a video declaring that we would simply kill passwords with biometrics and CBS news declared that biometric palm scans will help keep hospitals secure.

The future of biometrics is here. It is everywhere and happening all around us. Biometrics is about identifying who we are and not who we say we are. Tonight I learned that the most accurate method for a biometric reading is the heartbeat or an electrocardiogram (ECG). Makes sense ha? It’s symbolic actually. Symbolic because the heart is at our biometric core. It is the giver of life. The heart represents how we feel and who we are. That beat is indeed is a unique identifier.


Sources:

News release, Santa Fe County and All New Mexico Now Benefit from ICE Strategy to Use Biometrics to Identify and Remove Aliens Convicted of a Crime, released on ice.gov, February 15, 2011

White paper, A Survey of Biometrics Security Systems by Chien Le, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Washington University, November 28, 2011

News release, Los Lunas School Offers Biometric Scans at Lunch, released on koat.com, April 3, 2013

White paper, Mobile Biometric Device (MBD) Technology: Summary of Selected First Responder Experiences in Pilot Projects by Chris Aldridge, Sandia Report No. SAND2013-4922, prepared by Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, June 2013

Article, Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks by Oliver Munday, released on scientificamerican.com, December 17, 2013

Publication, Fingerprint Techniques Manual, prepared by New Mexico Department of Health, Division of Health Improvement, Caregivers Criminal History Screening Program, no date

Various internet searches for basic information in articles and videos

Fog: Mysteriously Scientific

November 18, 2014

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~Fog by Felicia Lujan. The digital composite includes 4 images, 10 layers, 2 masks and 1 screen.~

The Fog
by Mary Meixner

Seurat would have gone forth
on such a night
walking the mist-hung streets
dour silence
wrapping his world
in thin recessions
immediate
frames of form.
How he would chew this vapor
like a food
tasting distinctions
when all cats are grey
already in his hand, the touch
veiling in layered chalk
this passing woman
as a monument.
Each windowed structure lost
in a broad stroke
that makes perfection
of the mood of home
cubic, irradiated,
finding more truth
the more that it obscures.
_______________________

A couple of weeks ago on my drive into work, the fog was thick. I wanted to stop and take a photograph, but I didn’t. Fog rarely visits Santa Fe, but when it does, it is beautiful and eerie and magical and mysterious all at once. I started wondering what people thought about fog centuries ago when they didn’t understand what it was. I started wondering things like… What is fog exactly? What causes fog? Why does the smoke-like cloak evoke such contradictory feelings in me? Tonight I explored historic and contemporary research about the science of fog. I can’t possibly cover everything in one night. In the coming weeks, I would like to learn more about fog.

The earliest scientific account of fog I could find was published in an 1889 volume of Science. The article was titled Fogs, and the piece wasn’t very scientific in my opinion. That year in January, there was an anniversary meeting of the Royal Meteorological Society. The president of the society, Dr. W. Marcet delivered a keynote address about fog which was laced with “interesting lantern-slides.” Apparently, the address declared that “fogs and clouds are one in the same thing.” The article goes on to say “a cloud is a fog when entered into; and a fog seen from a distance, suspended in the air, becomes a cloud.” Isn’t that so scientific? No…not really.

While I didn’t get much from the article in that volume, a few months later, a very interesting piece was published in Letters to the Editor. On May 24, 1889, H.A. Hazen (love how that surname is perfect for a study of fog) sent a letter to Science. It opens… “A great deal of discussion has recently taken place on the properties of fog and its causes.” This letter delivered some concrete facts about the composition and causes of fog. He or maybe she calls theory “entirely inadequate” and noted percent, degrees, height, and weight measurements. Hazen says “fog, it is admitted, is simply cloud composed of water-dust or solid minute spheres of water from 1/7000 to 1/1000 of an inch in diameter.”

So how did Hazen conclude the letter written from Washington, D.C.? I was curious as I read on. Hazen concluded by outlining the circumstances surrounding the formation of fog.

“The cause of fog is briefly as follows: 1. It is essential that there be no wind. I do not mean that the wind does not blow the fog right after it is formed, but there must be little or none while it is forming. 2. The sky must be clear. We often notice a cloudless sky after a fog is dissipated. On weather-maps, “fog” is entered as “fair,” for, through not a particle of sky is visible, yet it is almost a certainty that the sky is clear. 3. The air must be saturated, or nearly so. It is very surprising how rarely the last condition occurs at inland stations. A relative humidity of 95 per cent has been noted in the air, in which rain is falling, and had been falling continuously for seventeen hours. This condition almost always can occur only to the south, south-east, or north-east of a storm. At nightfall, whenever these conditions combine, there is a rapid radiation from the earth to the sky, which speedily supersaturates the overlying air; and after that, radiation from the upper surface of the fog continues the process, and extends the fog upward until the action ceases with the rising of the sun.”

The letter was a very interesting read. Will you notice any of the things Hazen pointed out next time you encounter fog? I will. I find pleasure in the fact that one thought or maybe a few thoughts can spur my mind into a foggy haze! Hazen seemed to take some of the first concrete steps to define fog scientifically.

What about what can’t be defined scientifically like the emotions and feelings associated with fog? How do writers and artists use things like fog as a tool to evoke a feeling in the reader? I have a little bit more research to do and then you will see a part two with a focus on my interest in the mystery of fog.

Sources:

The Fog [Poem] by Mary Meixner
Art Journal, Vol.25, No.1, Pg.25 (Autumn 1965)

Fogs
Science, Vol.13, No.315, Pg.116-117 (February 1889)

Fog
Science, Vol.13, No.330, Pg.429-430 (May 1889)

Diplomatics and Its Use in Archives Today

November 17, 2014

Great read!
~~~F

saa@cua

Guest blog by Rachel James

According to the Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, diplomatics is “the study of the creation, form, and transmission of records, and their relationship to the facts represented in them and to their creator, in order to identify, evaluate, and communicate their nature and authenticity.”[i] Diplomatics as a study enables archivists to confirm authenticity of archival records, and in turn helps the records to be viewed as reliable sources for users. Luciana Duranti points as that some of the characteristics that are studied include “…the presence of different hands or types of writing in the same document, the correspondence between paragraphs and conceptual sections of the text, type of punctuation, abbreviations, initialisms, ink, erasures, corrections, etc.[ii]

Dom Jean Mabillon (Archives de France) Figure 1. Dom Jean Mabillon (Archives de France)

Dom Jean Mabillon, a French Benedictine monk, wrote De re diplomatica, consequently creating the study of diplomatics…

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Ambitionz of a Ridah

September 28, 2014

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This month marks the anniversary of the death of Tupac. Yesterday I bought a “Hail Mary” gym tank in his honor. It features a photograph of Pac in his well known prayer pose. I listened to the man and had on my tank while I killed back today. His music still gives me chills and gets me going in the gym…putting me in a zone where it’s best to stay out of my way.

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I loved that a couple of days before Tupac’s anniversary, @TheRock noted that he was training with 2Pac. Today The Rock tweeted… “Sometimes real greatness isn’t always what you do with your life – but what you inspire others to do with theirs” #Solid. Yes! Indeed! Inspiring others is so important. If you can move people in ways that they have never been moved, that is truly great. I’ve spent almost half of my life listening to him.

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Think you are 2 good for 2Pac? His lyrics pierce the essence of what it means to be human. There hasn’t been another like him, and I doubt there ever will be. At just 25 years old, he could express himself with remarkable depth. He was an awesome writer and lyricist. Don’t take my word for it. Scholars everywhere have studied the life of and interpreted the lyrics of Tupac. Harvard University is not alone in the development of a symposium based on the life of a hardened, yet intelligent man.

Are Pre Workout Supplements Harmful or Helpful? : Creatine

September 27, 2014

The Pharmacy Brute

We discussed in the last two articles about beta alanine and l-citrulline and their benefit in pre workout supplements. Now lets take a look at one of the most known white powders used by beginners and pros alike; creatine.

If you missed the last two articles you can find them here:

http://pharmacybrute.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/are-pre-workouts-harmful-or-helpful-beta-alanine/

http://pharmacybrute.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/are-pre-workout-supplements-harmful/

Creatine is a chemical that is primarily located in human muscle. It helps the formation of ATP in the body which is our main source of energy. It is this energy that we all need to do anything and everything. Without ATP we die. Period. If we weren’t able to create ATP even for a couple of minutes, we’d fall over and probably die. That’s how crucial it is.

Creatine has been popular for several years and no doubt if anyone has been to a gym in recent memory you might have seen someone sucking down creatine…

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Trust in Health

September 4, 2014
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~Evil fast food worker LoL~

This recent research has been all over the news since late August because it is so interesting! For the normal peeps who need easy reading, there is this article published on Science 2.0~Mom Was Almost Right: Junk Food Will Spoil Your Appetite, Except Permanently.

If you aren’t scared of scholarly words, check out the real journal article published by Frontiers in Psychology. This is what all other articles are based on. Cafeteria diet impairs expression of sensory-specific satiety and stimulus-outcome learning by Reichelt, Morris and Westbrook is an informative read.

Yes…maybe some people can justify the “new school” diet methods which allow the consumption of junk food to grow abs. I’m not saying getting abs eating greasy shit and cake isn’t possible. In the end, the “old school” way is indeed best. Eating junk food will make you sick, lower your energy level, make you moody, and clog your heart and veins.

Organic whole foods are always best for your body and mind! Premium fuel baby! Trust me…it’s organic.

Banshee: Exploring the Origins of a Witchy Woman

August 22, 2014
Banshee by Felicia Lujan

~”Banshee” a Digital Composite by Felicia Lujan~

What is a banshee? Is she a spirit? Is she a figment of our imaginations? Is she a monster? Is she a being of light or a lover of the darkness? Something I read recently sparked my curiosity with regard to the origins of these mysterious women who are supposedly supernatural. The dictionary defines a “ban·shee” as “an Irish legend” and “a female spirit whose wailing warns of an impending death in a house.” Banshee appearances and accounts have largely been captured and passed on through oral traditions; however, there are a handful of documented accounts and attempts to make sense of the stories.

A Princeton University web site defines the banshee as a “woman of the side” or a “woman of fairy mounds” or a “seer.” She is said to be a “female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.” This messenger or “fairy woman” is often “keening at the death of important personages.” Important personages? Yes…that is a word! Many believe the banshee can predict death. Many have heard the “mourning call” of the banshee in the late hours of the night when a person is going to die. This happens most often around woodland areas, though there are some accounts by water. A tale from 1437 says that King James I of Scotland had an encounter with a “banshee who foretold his murder…” Her cries may have been “so piercing” that they were able to shatter glass.

The university web site says that “the banshee can appear in a variety of guises. Most often she appears as an ugly, frightening hag, but she can also appear as a stunningly beautiful woman of any age that suits her. In some tales, the figure who first appears to be a ‘banshee’ is later revealed to be the Irish battle goddess, the Morrígan. The hag may also appear as a washer-woman, or bean-nighe (washing woman), and is seen washing the blood stained clothes or armour of those who are about to die.” I would like to learn more about the Irish battle goddess. The banshee is also rumored to appear in other supernatural life forms. She may appear as a “hooded crow, stoat, hare and weasel.” In Ireland, these are animals which the locals associate with dark arts and witchcraft.
Syracuse Herald_1.2.1898_Syracuse_NY
In an 1898 column titled The Easy Chair, the Syracuse Herald said that “a genuine Irish banshee is a little old woman in a red cloak…” A little old woman doesn’t seem that scary, but maybe? The column was spurred by the review of a play titled Number Nine. In numerology, the number nine symbolizes karma, spiritual lightening and awakening, mysticism, and divine wisdom in addition to other things. It is not clear who reviewed the play, but it was apparent that their curiosity was spurred by the mythology shrouding the banshee. The column goes on to say that…“she appears only to announce unpleasant events, such as one’s demise” and that “she does not always appear.” According to the author of this column, the banshee may make an appearance only in sound by wailing.

By 1929, the story of the banshee seems to be associated with the death of important people. If you recall the 1898 column and the number nine, this may be due to a growing association of the banshee with karma. The Buffalo Center Tribune ran a short piece titled Believe in Banshee as Herald of Death with regard to the death of Baron O’Neill. Neighbors of the family mogul “declared they heard the wail of the banshee the night before near the ruins of Shane’s castle on the shores of Lough Neagh. The castle was formerly the O’Neill residence.” Maybe people used the banshee as a way to understand the death of corrupt officials? “Baron O’Neill was eighty-nine…” Really? The number nine shows up again? The article says he “had had a long career as judge and member of parliament” from 1863-1880. Maybe he was a bad man?
Buffalo Center Tribune_1.10.1929_Iowa
In 1942, Virginia Moore published a poem titled The Banshee in the scholarly Poetry journal. Her poem captures the darkness and the light of banshee mythology, which may be seen by writers as a deep symbol of both death as well as the afterlife. Moore wrote…“Lightly, lightly, Ever brightly, Moves the banshee, certain death. Cry and call out, Death will fall out. Hold – you cannot hold – your breath.” It is interesting how she frames the poem with light. When you read about the banshee in historical news articles, she (not he) is always fixed as a creature of straight darkness. This is one reason I love writers. We see deeper than the dark. Moore closes her poem with…“Brilliant yellow, Is this fellow, Is the banshee, plumed and bright. Lovers hearing. Listen, fearing. Hark! Who treads the plushy night?”
Elyria Chronicle Telegram_6.28.1935_Elyria_OH

Patricia Lysaght studied banshee folklore in the mid to late 1970s. In her white paper titled Irish Banshee Traditions: A Preliminary Survey, Lysaght took an in-depth look at the folklore of this mythical apparition based on manuscripts from the 1930s in the archives of the Department of Irish Folklore with the University College in Dublin, Ireland. This female scholar went straight to the source. She says that “the explanations of how the banshee came to be are not only few; they also seem to have a limited distribution, or even to be individual fabrications.” That was interesting to learn. It confirms that more often than not, the early origins of these oral stories were not recorded. She did locate an account of a local custom by Co. Tipperary. Tipperary said that “long ago people used to pay women to moan in the corpse house just when the corpse would be leaving for the church.”

Could this be how the mythology of the banshee started? Were women paid to wail and moan when someone died? Maybe we will never know if a banshee is a spirit or a figment of our imaginations or a monster that encompasses the light and darkness? What I do know is that my unending curiosity associated with the origins of mysterious things will never die, much like the tales of the banshee.

Santa Fe New Mexican_10.31.1976_Santa Fe_NM

Sources:

Princeton University Web Site (Accessed August 21, 2014)
https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Banshee.html

The Easy Chair~ Syracuse Herald~ Syracuse, New York (January 2, 1898)

Believe in Banshee as Herald of Death~ Buffalo Center Tribune~ Buffalo Center, Iowa (January 10, 1929)

How it Began~ Elyria Chronicle Telegram~ Elyria, Ohio (June 28, 1935)

The Banshee a poem by Virginia Moore~ Poetry (Vol. 59, No. 5, 1942, Page 247)

Irish Banshee Traditions: A Preliminary Survey by Patricia Lysaght~ An Cumann Le Béaloideas Éireann (The Folklore of Ireland Society), (Page 94-119, 1974-1976)

Down the Old Santa Fe Trail~ Santa Fe New Mexican~ Santa Fe, New Mexico (October 31, 1976)

Failure: Misadventures of a Hopeful CRM through the Eyes of Deadpool

August 14, 2014

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Nothing can make you feel smaller than failure. Failure can make you feel so small that you forget about those things that make you big. Our success somehow gets lost in the hopelessness. We all fail. It’s part of life. Even though we are all alike in that sense, our individual failures can make us feel alone…left to absorb the pains in solitude. Though it is heart wrenching, without failure we couldn’t appreciate success.

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“Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.” I guess if becoming a CRM was easy, everyone I know would be one. Like Steve Austin recently said on an episode of Broken Skull Ranch… “you didn’t think this was gonna be easy did ya?” I didn’t think it would be easy, but I felt some confidence after studying really hard. I failed my first exam…but I tried.

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There is no excuse for failure. I will own that. I will say that I read every book. I studied every night and took a ton of notes. I have over 15 years of experience and determination. I still failed! It was upsetting. It seemed like the test didn’t cover much of what I read and in all fairness, the educational focus isn’t really what I expected. Ratios, percentages, formulas, budget and management theory likely got me. I haven’t had the heart to really look at the results. 

I went from being sad, to being mad, to feeling sorry for myself and now I’m trying to reclaim the negative energy for positive use. Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought? Maybe I’m just good at lifting things up and putting them down? Maybe the main reason I went into this was the wrong reason? Maybe I should become a professional poet and live off the grid in an Earth friendly home? I did get 45 likes and counting, 3 reblogs and 2 comments on my free verse poem The Dark Horse. I wrote it last night on a creative study break. 

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Nothing can make me feel smaller than failure. Failing makes me feel so worthless that I forget about my worth. I somehow felt lost in the hopelessness until my son saw me with tears in my eyes and said… “don’t worry about it. You’re a great mom.” Yes!! I am! Thank you son. We all fail. It is a hard part of life. Though we collectively experience failure, when we are faced with personal or professional failure, it is important to remember how we are successful.

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Knowledge and Migraines

August 7, 2014

Loved these two pages from the project management book I’m reading now. This graphic depiction of knowledge transfer is awesome. I thought the Chapter 2 title was straight comedy…from best practices to migraine headaches or neahhhh?

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See the Light

August 4, 2014

Moving on to book no. 4 tonight. It is a fat project management book. Yeayyyyy! Haha…It is almost time for my first exam. I’m already scheduled to take the test this month. Of course I am working the exams in order. I like planning and a solid order. I have been studying and taking notes for at least an hour every night. Feeling ready for my first CRM Exam. We’ll see how it pans out. I see the Part 1 light!!

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Professional vs Nonprofessional

July 27, 2014

ProfessionalsI embedded a short video I uploaded to my YouTube channel below. The clip captures a few seconds of a hail and rain storm which swept Santa Fe, New Mexico at about 2:30pm today. The extreme weather has been wacky all day and now there are flood warnings for the night.

When I saw rivers of water rolling down the streets, the first thing that popped into my head was the building where I work because we have important records there. This concern comes from years of loyalty to my agency and respect for the importance of all records.

Tonight, I continued trucking along on my studies for the first CRM exam. While I was reading, this paragraph captured my interest. It is about being a professional. It has taken me many years and dedication to get where I am today. I don’t just have a job. I don’t just pay the bills. I make a difference and so do the people I work with.

A little under two decades ago, I had worked so many different jobs. They were just jobs. I will not knock any of them because each one of them helped make me the woman I am today. I learned people skills along the way and that has helped me. It is no joke when I say I have done it all.

Why is any of this important to me? How do extreme weather, my evening studies, my old jobs, my career, and my thoughts intersect? Well today I was worried about the Archives and Records Center because I care. I took the time to thank God for leading me to a meaningful profession.

The last thing I ever wanted was to get stuck in a job. I never wanted to get stuck not caring…to get stuck sacking groceries or working the floor in some food dive serving french fries. If I had to do that to pay the bills, I would. But…until God takes my drive away…until my heart stops beating…I will own my career.

Until the day my heart stops, I will respect having the opportunity to make a real difference. I will care about things with intrinsic value. I will remain a driven professional who leaves her office to get a hamburger at the local food dive after a long day of meaningful work. (Ommmm…no…everything except for the second piece of that last sentence! Haha)
~~~~~


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