Monday, October 20, 2014

School Transition Update Week 6

I decided to do a weekly update. This is about week six which was a couple of weeks ago.

I last reported that we had a productive meeting with the math and science teacher at the end of week five. Some tweaks were planned and review on exponents at home was planned. Husband and I were optimistic. Son loved his teacher.

In week six the school changed math teachers for my son's class. The teachers flip-flopped classes. In this week my son complained that the new structure was not working and some negative things were going on. My son missed the former teacher.

Based on things said Thursday night and on Friday my husband was angry and asked me to meet with the Headmaster. I scheduled a meeting for Monday of Week 7.

I want my son to learn and don't want to be one of those pain in the neck parents.

I am also aware that gaps in his math or shall I say having forgotten things he really did learn are the issue and I feel badly that he is struggling but await the school to tell me what to focus on.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Article Link: Amazon Vine Reviewing Club Sabotaged My Book

Article: Amazon Vine Reviewing Club Sabotaged My Book

by: Margo Howard

Published in: The New Republic

On: 10/16/14

This is the daughter of the beloved newspaper columnist Ann Landers. She states here she has once received a seven figure advance on a book she authored. So this millionaire is whining that it was a small number of book reviewers who "ruined her book"? Give me a break.

The first issue is in New Republic she fails to explain that her publisher CHOSE to participate in the Amazon Vine program. Vine policies are not fully disclosed and some question if publishers pay a fee for this service.

Second, her book was released on September 30, 2014, less than three weeks ago. She has a 3.7 out of 5 rating average which is not bad considering some of the rankings I have seen at GoodReads, where the reviewers seem more willing to rank with lower star ratings.

I took two minutes to do a little analysis of the rankings:

5 star: 21: 0/21 Vine
4 star: 0
3 star: 1: 1/1 Vine
2 star: 3: 1/3 Vine
1 star: 8: 3/8 Vine

So let me get this straight there were a WHOPPING 5 Vine reviews for this book. That is 5/33 are Vine reviews and she complains that they have "ruined her book". A more accurate term would have been "ruined my book's pre-publication publicity".

I passed on the offer for me to read this book when I saw it on Amazon Vine's list. I love memoir but I like memoirs with a bit more of a struggle or something more meaningful than something like divorcing three times before finding the one they are happy with for number four.

As a little girl I read Ann Landers' column religiously and I learned a lot of common sense and logical thinking, and a lot about etiquette and social situations that my homebody introvert parents never taught me. I can only think that Ann Landers would not have been happy with this sort of bratty whining from a 74 year old woman.

And if Margo Howard were more concerned with her publicity she would have updated her Amazon author page, which today shows she has authored two books not three.

It seems to me that Margo Howard is a wealthy elitist who out of one side of her mouth wishes more people would read books and buy her books but when those lowly readers have an opinion that is not as flattering as she'd hoped she insults them. How rude.

Here is a 1 star, NON-Vine review by Nathan Rabin:

"The unbridled arrogance and sense of entitlement on display here is absolutely ridiculous. I have rarely encountered anyone so deeply unaware of how they come off, or so deeply enamored of themselves or their literary voice."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Teenage Brain: Chapter 11 Chapbook Entry

Title: The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults
Authors: Frances E. Jensen M.D. with Amy Ellis Nutt
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-296874-5

Chapter 11: Stress

Teens are mercurial. Mood swings.

"Teenagers are usually up or they're down, and they are very rarely something in between." pg. 171

Need to explain what emotions are in general before can discuss stress and emotions of teens. pg. 171

Teens are driven by emotion not reason. pg 171

Amygdala: most primal feelings, fear, anger, hate, panic, grief. Less activity in teen's frontal lobes makes it harder for them to handle their emotions especially in a crisis. pg. 171

"Because teens are not fully accessing their frontal lobes, other areas of the brain can get a little out of hand and create more extreme impressions of an external threat. Primal feelings, like fear, are produced by what's called the hypothalmamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). Faced with a stressful situation, the amygdala is the first to respond, and when stimulated, it releases stress hormones that signal the pituitary gland to release certain chemicals, which then prompt the adrenal gland to release adrenaline (also known as epinephrine)." pg. 172

Fight or flight response is triggered.

"The effect of stressful experiences and emotional trauma on adolescents can have serious consequences for mental and emotional health later in life. Stress in adolescents works differently than stress in adults." pg. 173

"Effects of stress on learning and memory in teens can predispose them to mental health problems, including depression and PTSD." pg. 173

Little stress affects learning and the brain. Freezing up when performing. This a malfunctioning of the hippocampus caused by surge of cortisol supresses memory. pg. 174

School can be as stressful as a rat in a cage experiment. pg. 175

One incidence of stress affects an adult's memory for 10 days but teens took three weeks.  pg. 175

Teen male brains fare worse than female teen brains with damage from stress. Study showedstress  decreases synapses and myelin, frontal lobes and hipoocampi functioning is impacted. Stress hurts the brain development process. pg. 175

Stress can cause hippocampus to get smaller and amygdala grows larger, this causes an exaggerated response as seen in PTSD. Prolonged stress in teen can cause PTSD.  pg 176

Without PTSD treatment, teens can get crippling fear and anxiety for the rest of their lives. PTSD signs: sadness, anger, loneliness, low self-esteem, inability to trust others, fear, anxiety. Behavior problems of PTSD: social isolation, poor academic performance, aggression, hypersexuality, self-harm, drug abuse, alcohol abuse.  pg. 177

Health care workers often overlook signs of PTSD. pg. 178

Child abuse caused PTSD and brain development changes. Study cited. pg. 179

Teens who are abused suffer brain damage. Study cited. pg. 179

Bullying in person and online is another cause of stress. pg. 180

Teens are also resilient. pg. 181

Advice: encourage teens to take control and take time out from online activity or stressors, eat right, sleep well. Access to good adult mentors to confide in, open channels of communication, people who will listen. pg. 181-182

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on their website. I was not paid to read or review it nor was I under obligation to blog about it. If you link through to Amazon from the above link and buy anything you add to your cart within 24 hours I will earn a small commission. Thank you.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Teenage Brain: Chapter 10 Chapbook Entry

Title: The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults
Authors: Frances E. Jensen M.D. with Amy Ellis Nutt
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-296874-5

Chapbook Notes: Chapter 10: Hard-Core Drugs

One use of a hard-core drug can result in death.

What these do to the brain and to which brain area is discussed. To read details, read the book,

Ecstasy, "E", "Molly", MDMA,  raves: pg. 160

Regular  use of E impairs short-term memory, produces serotonin. Regular use damages white matter's ability to mature, interrupts hippocampus development. pg. 161

Teen brains get more damage than adult brains from E. Toxic to serotonin cells, disrupts memory and mood. Teen E exposure impairs working memory and prefrontal cortex function all throughout adulthood! Did not happen to adult use of E only. pg. 161-162

Teen brain structure prohibits the negative physical effects of drugs so it is easier to use more to a dangerous level. Therefore teens are more at risk for reaching a worse level of use but not realizing it in the moment. If no negative side effect felt during first use they are likely to choose to use it again. pt. 162

MDMA synapse changes affect every body function: serotonin production, depression, stress response, learning problems, memory problems. pg. 162

Research: Teens brains' are more susceptible to lower doses of cocaine. Easier to get addicted, hen find it difficult to abstain from substances they are addicted to. Become addicted harder and faster than adults do. pg. 162

Cocaine processed differently in the teen brain than the adult brain: releases more dopamine. Dopamine triggers the reward center (nucleus accumbens) and dorsolateral striatum, the habit formation area. pg. 162

Changes in dopamine in the adolescent brain make permanent changes in the brain, leaving them more susceptible to addiction issues in adulthood. pg. 164

Legitimate use of prescription pain killer medication leads teens to addiction to hard-core drugs. Easy and fast to get addicted to a pain killer after a sports injury. pg. 166

"Adolescent addiction is particularly pernicious because over a long period of usage, the brain responds to the hyperactivity of dopamine by reducing dopamine receptors, and a loss of receptors means less stimulation. The result is called tolerance. The addict must take increasingly larger doses of the drug to obtain the same high he or she experienced the first time around." pg. 167

Immature prefrontal cortex = less control of impulses, less understanding of consequences, andless abiliity   to stop the behavior. Teens seek out high-risk, high-reward behavior. pg. 167

Substance abusing teens need aggressive action and they need more empathy. pg. 168

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on their website. I was not paid to read or review it nor was I under obligation to blog about it. If you link through to Amazon from the above link and buy anything you add to your cart within 24 hours I will earn a small commission. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Good News on My PVD Eye Problem

Yesterday I had my one month recheck. It was 30 days from the incident of Posterior Vitreal Detachment in my right (dominant) eye.

I don't recall if I shared here that on the second visit to the retina specialist he said, "If you don't get a retina detachment from this PVD then you never will. The next 2-3 months are critical." My husband took that as great news that I would possibly never get a detached retina in my lifetime. I took it to mean the PVD was really bad and that a retina detachment was highly likely.

The report yesterday was fantastic. There were no changes and my various types of floaters are going away. One spot of blurry vision remains which makes it hard to read text on a page. The doctor does not want to re-examine me again until six months.

Of course I must call immediately if a new incident of floaters, curtain-blackness or blindness occurs.

I am greatly relieved and appreciative of all the prayers and positive thoughts I received from everyone ranging from my closest friends to Facebook acquaintances to strangers who read my blog.

I am going to continue with the plan of priorities I laid out in yesterday's blog post.

Thank you for listening to me vent.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Decisions About the Priorities

I came to my decision. I thought I'd share since I was thinking out loud here last week.

My first priority is my health. To that end I am not lifting any boxes or doing much bending over for another two months. I really do not want a detached retina. My PVD is the same, I have a recheck in two days for the one month check. Yes I have hired someone to do the packing up of stuff. I don't know when she will start, maybe next week.

Second priority is the harmony in the home and adjusting to changes this fall with younger son in private school and with the older's senior year stress. I have decided to not create chaos this fall by fixing the floors. I am not going to disrupt everyone until after Christmas. I'm not sure if we'll begin December 26 or wait until they start the new semester at school and community college.

I am undecided if I can swing getting the walls and ceilings painted before on or about January 1. To me, the whole project is stressful and should just wait, probably.

This fall, I am going to slowly and surely go through homeschool books, board games, and science kits to cull them.

I am going to list some books for sale on as a Marketplace Seller. Whatever is not sold by January 1 is being donated and getting out of this house. Period.

I have decided to pursue applying late for holiday markets to sell my soap and body care products. I am behind on updating my etsy shop and need to fix the inventory numbers. I have many more soaps here at home ready to sell but have not listed them on etsy yet. I make most sales locally so all the work to list them is sometimes for naught. However show organizers do look at my etsy shop to judge my products and my company so it is important. I have one show in October and would like a show near Thanksgiving and one in December if possible.

I made some decisions on furniture in this house this weekend. The uncomfortable but expensive chair (that we bought used from the former owner of this house) has been removed from my bedroom. I moved the love seat from the Connecticut couch into the bedroom. The color is not great but it is comforable for a reading spot. It's where I sat with my older son to teach him to read. Memories. I have the reading lamp there. It's great.

The heirloom antique desk from my husband's great grandfather will move to the family room from it's spot stored in the garage. The desk that is there now we bought used from the former owner of our Connecticut house and it's an antique but nothing special. We will donate it to the foster kids' home, a nonprofit organization.

We may just be able to park in the garage someday!

Monday, October 13, 2014

My St. Louis Art Museum Square Photos

In April 2014 I was in St. Louis to be the travel chaperone for my homeschooled son who competed at the FIRST Robotics World Championships. On practice day I went to the St. Louis Art Museum. It's a great place with free admission.

I went crazy with the iPhone taking photos. Here are some square format photos, some edited in Instagram. It is fun to crop artworks down to show just a portion of the art. I cannot resist selfies with cool contemporary art as my background either. I was thrilled to see a whole room of Gerhard Richter's giant paintings after first seeing the documentary: Garhard Richter Painting. I'd rented it on Amazon Instant Streaming.

As I walked around alone I thought about how in the past with homeschooling our museum trips were a family affair. Now my oldest was in grade 11 and was busy working with his team on robotics at an important event. And here I was alone in the museum. The transition to end homeschooling and to parenting young adults is just that, a transition.

Note: The upside down painting is intentional, it is the flip side of a painting by Paul Cezanne.