“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Source: https://goo.gl/5EbPBX

Samuel Becket, an Irish writer, born in the year 1906 explores the foundations of human life in his writing. A famous quote from his writing is: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”. Becket in his quote simply puts that failure is not as negative as society makes it out to be. Failure is a part of life, and the accumulation of failures leads to learning. This is important because of the increasing societal stigma over the fear of failure. The fear of failure comes from the need to be socially accepted, and society has shown that it favors those who succeed. However, how does one succeed without first failing? Each time one fails, one fails slightly less. Lets call this a successful failure. Successful failing leads to overall success because the more you fail the more you learn from those mistakes and know not to repeat them.

Becket writes this quote in a very simple form, which I think is to express how simple the issue actually is. How are you going to get better if you don’t practice and fail? One is not born successful, you must take the steps to get there and one of those steps is failing (repeatedly). One should not be afraid of failing because just like you everybody fails, it’s simply a part of life.

Caffeine Overdose

The New York Times Magazine published an article by Mali Wollan titled How to Keep Your Hands Steady. In her article Wollan talks about how to keep yourself calm when overdoses of caffeine cause your body to tremble. She gives four main behavioral rules: Get sufficient sleep, limit alcohol consumption, eat regular meals, and to keep a calm psychological state. Now lets apply this to college students. Some of us, like me, had never shown much interest in coffee pre-college (even though our parents are coffee fanatics that need a fix of coffee to start the day).

Central, visual, auditory, muscular, respiratory, urinary, systemic, gastric, heart, and epidermal symptoms of a caffeine overdose.

However, college brings a pile of responsibilities that all have deadlines and for us that don’t have much of a tolerance for caffeine have probably experienced a coffee overdose. Yes, there is such a thing. In the image titled: Main Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose the common symptoms brought from way too much caffeine can be seen. Common symptoms include: physical trembling, nausea, dehydration, anxiety/restlessness, and ringing of the ears. I remember when I experienced my first coffee overdose it went much like this meme:

A meme describing the stages of overdosing on caffeine. Credit here.
Source: goo.gl/pskKZu

I remember experiencing nausea, trembling, and extreme restlessness which overall caused me more stress because I could not get any work done. You may be thinking, simple don’t drink coffee there are other alternatives to increase alertness, little does everyone know that many of those drinks are caffeine based.

Popular energy drinks that contain caffeine. Source: https://goo.gl/VhkwW3

Energy drinks like JOLT Energy, NOS Energy, Monster, Red bull, Mountain Dew, and even Coca-cola contain different percentages of caffeine.

Now lets look again at the behavioral rules one should follow when intoxicated on caffeine: Get sufficient sleep, limit alcohol consumption, eat regular meals, and to keep a calm psychological state. These rules don’t seem hard to follow right? Most college students, including myself, find them very hard to follow. For college students sleep has become a series of power naps, three meals a day are reduced to maybe two and unhealthy (cheap) snacks, alcohol consumption is amplified instead of limited, and our psychological state is one of constant stress. What does this mean in terms of caffeine? Nothing good.

The average college student.

These subpar or even unhealthy living conditions mixed with way more than the recommended amount of caffeine (that we consume to try to compensate for them) yields to sleep disorders, addiction, extreme anxiety, cardiac problems, stomach ulcers, etc.

In summary, I believe Wollan’s four behavioral rules to not be applicable to college students. I know that for me overdosing on caffeine only increases stress levels because all you can do is sit and wait for the caffeine to leave your system.

 

 

A Numberless World

An article published by Caleb Everett Andrew in the newsletter Live Science talks about anumeric cultures or cultures where numbers are non-existent. It starts out by telling the reader that as one reads the article one is probably aware of: the date, the time, your age, weight, bank account balance, etc. This is our social reality, numbers and quantities play a big role in our lives. However, the use of numbers for quantification is a social mutation, making numeric cultures the abnormal ones, at least in a historic sense.

A picture of the Piraha (culture without numbers) who live along the banks of the Maici River in the Amazon. Credit here.

If means of quantification are seen through the lens of abnormality then these numberless cultures become normal. Societies whose cultures have numbers had to give their children these cognitive tools, which makes sense since all of us spent the better part of elementary school learning what numbers were and how to use them. To further solidify this a research paper by Susan Carey published by the National Institute of Health explores the concept of the natural number and concludes that natural numbers are a human construction as a response to allow for the representation of thoughts that are unthinkable without them (science and theory). This means that as natural as numbers may feel to you, they are not.

Naturally, our brains are wired to recognize abstract quantities. For instance, we know the difference between two apples and twenty apples. Cultures without numbers ‘quantify’ things by saying theres a few, some, or a lot. Studies have shown that adults in anumeric cultures have difficulty recalling and differentiating quantities as low as four.

Anumeric cultures gives insight into how diverse our global linguist culture is and how things we believe to be universal truths are not.

The Proximity Effect

It’s funny how much of childhood is about proximity. Like who your best friend is directly correlated to how close your houses are; who you sit next to in music is all about how close your names are in the alphabet. Such a game of chance… Allie and I stayed friends until she moved last year, but there was always something just a little bit humiliating about it, like we were two leftover heels of bread and together we made a dry sandwich.

In Jenny Han’s Chapter 8 of her book “To All the Boys I’ve Love Before” the main character, Lara Jean, talks about the formation and duration of friendships. Lara Jean talks about how when one is a child the friends you make and keep are based on proximity, in other words the people that you are with often. Even though I agree that this is true I also believe that this is not exclusive to childhood. I think that proximity is directly correlated to friendship duration in adulthood as well.

Think about your friendships or even past romantic relationships, what brought you together? For most people the top answers are: school, lived near each other, or some common activity. Being in close proximity with people allows you to get to know them and find common factors that make them more appealing. Psychologists: Frank w. Schneider, Jamie A. Gruman,

Book Cover of Frank w. Schneider, Jamie A. Gruman, and Larry M. Coults book “Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems”.

and Larry M. Coults call this the proximity effect in their book “Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems“. They describe the proximity effect as the idea that psychological and physical nearness increases interpersonal liking between individuals. The book later discusses the applications of the proximity effect, the psychologists write that by incorporating spaces into ones routine that bring us in contact with a lot of people the frequency of your interactions increases and so does the probability of friendship formation. They then define this as using the power of situation because by manipulating the locations one frequents you can enjoy the benefits of situational influence.

Example of how proximity causes people to get to know each other and find mutual likings that brings them closer together.

This makes one think about the nature of your own relationships and how proximity has affected them. For example, in Han’s book Lara Jean talks about how proximity formed her friendship and the lack of it caused it to dissolve. Another relevant example is me, during my freshman year at college I have lost and made friendships. I have lost friendships from back home that I attribute to the lack of proximity. People I used to see everyday I don’t anymore. Even people that I took classes with and was friends with first semester, when second semester came and we no longer shared classes our contact slowly decreased. However, I believe that these friendships are salvageable as long as the individuals regain proximity. For example, when I went back home during Winter Break I rekindled a lot of the friendships I thought I had lost because we were able to physically come in contact with each other. For these reasons, I am excited and nervous to go back home. I fear that the relationships I have built this year will not hold over the summer; but I also look forward to seeing all my friends and reconnecting. In conclusion, I believe that the increase of contact is what increases the likeliness of communication and therefore a relationship.

 

 

Winter Storm Stella

The Washington Post published an article by Chris A. Pabon titled About Winter Storm Stella and weird, variable weather about the winter storm Stella that hit northeast United States during the week of March 13, 2017. The article says that regions in northeast Pennsylvania received from three to five feet of snow and that nearly three days after the blizzard some streets were still waiting to be plowed.

Snowfall map and NESIS rating of Winter Storm Stella (National Centers for Environmental Information/NOAA)
Me outside of my aunt’s house in Reading, Pennsylvania.

This blizzard came during American University’s Spring Break which was from March11th to March 18th. During my Spring Break instead of returning home to the warmth of Puerto Rico I decided to spend it with my family in Reading, Pennsylvania, which was a victim of the blizzard. Coming from the Caribbean, where we have no changing seasons, I had never experienced a blizzard or winter storm before, so the experience was novel. The first two days were fun to see the snow fall and cover every surface available to it, however, after the third day the cabin fever set in. That afternoon my aunt sent my cousins and I out to plow the driveway before the snow solidified to the point where it cannot be plowed. I had never seen that much snow and even less held a snowblower/shovel. I only lasted a half hour shoveling before my muscles gave up from shoveling, who knew snow could be so heavy? I sure did not. I left my male cousins to shovel away while I sat next to the fireplace and tried to regain warmth in my body. All in all, I enjoyed my first blizzard; but, now that I can say I’ve experienced one I do not wish to experience one again.

DA: Exterior and Political #5

Snippet from Eric M. Weiss’s article in The Washington Post, “NW Businesses Fear Skyrocketing Taxes Will Push Them Out” that gives different stories of local business owners being pushed out by chain retail stores.

Eric M. Weiss published an article in the Washington Post called “NW Businesses Fear Skyrocketing Taxes Will Push Them Out“. In this article Weiss using local business owner interviews exemplifies how local businesses in the District of Colombia are slowly being replaced by chain stores. In this archive the story of Rosemary Reeds, ex-owner of  the dress store that was in Dupont Circle: Toast and Strawberries, is most pertinent to our complex local system, The Dupont Circle Club, in Dupont Circle.

Advertisement flyer of Rosemary Reed’s boutique Toast & Strawberries. Fashion Blog “Ooh LaLa Blog” writes a short post about Rosemary Reed and the closing of her iconic boutique.

 

 

An in depth article of the story of Rosemary Reed and her boutique can be found in Washington Post Staff writers, Michael Barbaro and Mark Chediak, article “Fixture of Dupont Retail to Close”.

DA: Exterior and Political #4

Snippet of a section of the DC Retail Action Strategy Document that highlights the problem with increasing rents in Dupont Circle.

The Office of Planning released a SWOT analysis of Dupont Circles Retail Market that highlights the growing problem of the decrease in local business population due to increasing rents. The Dupont Circle Club (DCC) is a local business whose previous local neighboring business have been replaced by retail chains over the years (this can be seen in posts #1, #2, and #3 of the exterior and political digital archives). This will serve to support my prediction that the future of the DCC is in danger.

DA: Exterior and Political #3

Street view of the building 1623 and its neighbors on April of 2014 (taken from google maps).

The street-view of the Dupont Circle Club (DCC) residence (building 1623) April of 2014 shows the addition of another retail chain stone. As can be observed the building 1623 is now sandwiched between two retail chain shops, Comfort One Shoes (as seen in 2011) and Lou Lou, a fashion boutique. Also, the local shop next to Comfort Shoes has also been replaced by Capital Teas, a big American tea company.  A change in the nature of the retail shops can be seen and this change will help foresee the future of the building 1623 and thus the DCC.

DA: Exterior and Political #2

Street view of the building 1623 where the Dupont Circle makes it residence in June of 2011 (taken from google maps).

This is a street view of what the Dupont Circle Club (DCC) local looked like in June of 2011. As can be observed the building 1623 is no longer in between two local retail shops. One of the shops called Lambda Rising, popular and iconic LGTB bookstore, was replaced by the retail chain store Comfort One Shoes. This archive, taken from google maps, will help establish context into how the system the building is in has changed over the years. Determining this change will help predict the future of the building 1623.

DA: Interior and Cultural #4

Demographics as of 2016 of the religious affiliations of the population of Washington, District of Columbia.

These are the demographics on the religious affiliations of the individuals that reside in the District of Colombia as of December of 2016. The District of Colombia (DC) houses a big diversity of religious institutions that cater to the large variety of cultures that DC attracts. Although the majority of individuals identify with a denomination of Christianity they allow for a peaceful coexistence with individuals of other religious affiliations. As can be seen in the previous interior and cultural digital archives (#2 and #3). The Dupont Circle Club (DCC) takes on a Christian approach to rehabilitation, using a connection with God as the road to recovery. Even though DC is multi-cultural the fact that 51.14% identifies with a Christian denomination allows for the DCC to successfully use a Christian approach.