My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stay Puft Deferred Gratification

In 1972, psychologist Walter Mischel, then of Stanford University, created the marshmallow task to test deferred gratification in children. Simplified, a marshmallow was offered to each child. If the child could resist eating the marshmallow, they were promised two instead of one. The scientists analyzed how long each child resisted the temptation of eating the marshmallow, and whether or not doing so was correlated with future success. Following up with the kids years later, that they found that the longer kids had managed to wait, the better they did socially and academically as teens. The new update to this study was released this week and now includes an expansion to a child’s beliefs about the reliability of the people around them and how that can dramatically shape their willingness to wait for a better payoff. The more stable the environment, with consistent, honest interactions and, most importantly, tangible rewards overwhelming lead to the most favorable outcomes. What I found most interesting was the study’s finding of how substantive compensation over ethereal, from dependable authority figures, had such a long-term and profound impact. Having your child earn a new bike by doing specific tasks was quantifiably more valuable in their long-term success than telling them that the potential for acquisition of a bike included some sort of supernatural force. So Santa bringing them a new bike may make them happy, but having them earn a new bike (with Santa bringing them a new helmet) has a much higher probability of producing an adult who understands what it takes to be successful. Ultimately, the study’s findings made it very clear that, in order to give a child the best chance at future success, parents, teachers, guardians and family are strong encouraged to base their long term rewards in reality and not resort to otherworldly threats or rewards.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Entry for October 22, 2012

My Grandmother turned 97 this year, and although realize world is a different place than when she was younger, it never really hit home until she made an offhand comment while watching the news the other day. It was during some generic story that they showed kids playing in a ball pit. Not knowing what that was, she asked my son Sebastian. For the ten minutes following his explanation, she explained what it was like being a young child in the 1920s. It was absolutely fascinating and really drove home how much has changed in such a short period of time. It warmed my heart and made me sad that someday, almost 100 years from now, my little four-year-old son could be explaining his current childhood to his own Great-Grandchild and what life was like in the long forgotten days of the 2010s.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Entry for October 20, 2012

I had a dream last night that the house was swallowed up by the earth, only to reemerge 1,000 years from now, almost unchanged. A team of scientists was tasked with trying to learn about this by-gone era and formulated all sorts of hypothesis about why there were dirty dishes in the sink and a pile of clothes on the bedroom floor. The shoes casually tossed next to the shoe-trees, the broken PS3 remote that still hasn’t been thrown away, and the tools I left on the table from fixing one of my son’s toys were all important clues and caused great debates as to their significance. Our bodies, still undisturbed in beds, were not freshly bathed, nor had our teeth been properly brushed the night before. The overall conclusion that they were able to extrapolate from our century old lives was not a favorable one. When I awoke this morning I felt remorseful for being a bad representation of our time and immediately took a shower, brushed my teeth, and cleaned up the house a bit. Now that I’m done and can reflect on the entire experience I realize that, yes, we would have been an accurate description of the now. So if the house is swallowed up later on this morning, you can thank me for not making all of you look like the slobs you truly are.