Hello and welcome to a great new site. This is a classmate of mine from last year’s Master of Positive Psychology program, and he is a wonderful person. He has a super blog about positive psychology and applications to law and to education.

Here is Dave Shearon’s blog! I’m a big fan of Dave’s blog. It’s very descriptive and very detailed and very alive! Check it out yourself!

One of Dave’s last posts was a summary of Positive Psychology Books that he recommends. Great, great summary. I especially like Dave’s summaries of these two books, which are absolutely among my favorites:

The Happiness Hypothesis, Haidt (2005) It’s not just intelligences that are multiple! Try multiple brains! Or, at least, multiple relatively independent systems in the brain. Haidt’s metaphor of the rider and the elephant is worth reading the book. Great writer. Sound insights.

The Paradox of Choice, Schwartz. Are you generally a “maximizer” or “satisficer”? Should you care? Good book not only for consumers, but for achievers. Since nothing’s ever “finished”, what does “do your best” mean?

And here is an absolutely delightful little entry called “Poof!” that I find myself recalling with a smile!

Here is a positive psychology study that Dave created for high school students along with two other classmates of ours: high school study.

And here is the positive psychology section of Dave’s blog that I really, really enjoy.

Just because I read him for the positive psychology, don’t think that you shouldn’t tune in for the education, how to run schools, and law discussions! Nice, nice insights. ENJOY!

p.s. I specifically meant to post this on August 30!

NEWER NEWS: There are 8 planets, and Pluto isn’t one of them.

    In a stunning reversal, astronomers who were ready to expand the solar system by three planets just last week voted to shrink it yesterday instead, stripping Pluto of its status as the solar system’s most distant and quirkiest planet. (From Baltimore Sun).

    The decision by the prestigious international group spells out the basic tests that celestial objects will have to meet before they can be considered for admission to the elite cosmic club…. Much-maligned Pluto doesn’t make the grade under the new rules for a planet: “a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a … nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.” … Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune’s. Instead, it will be reclassified in a new category of “dwarf planets.” (From Detroit Press).

    “It could be argued that we are creating an umbrella called ‘planet’ under which the dwarf planets exist,” [Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a specialist in neutron stars from Northern Ireland who oversaw the proceedings] said, drawing laughter by waving a stuffed Pluto of Walt Disney fame beneath a real umbrella. (From Detroit Press).

OLDER NEWS: You’ve probably heard the news. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) got together last week and proposed a new definition of “planet” that would mean that we have 12 planets instead of 9. Here is an excerpt from the article on space.com:

    The definition, which basically says round objects orbiting stars will be called planets, is simple at first glance:

    “A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet.”

    “Our goal was to find a scientific basis for a new definition of planet and we chose gravity as the determining factor,” said Richard Binzel, an MIT planetary scientist who was part of a seven-member IAU committee that hashed out the proposal. “Nature decides whether or not an object is a planet.”

Here is a very enjoyable NYTimes essay by Dennis Overbye about the twelve planets. The essay notes that several potential mnemonics are coming out for kids to memorize the order of the “planets”: “My Very Excellent Mother Could Just Serve Us Nuts, Pizza, Carrots ’n’ Xylophones!” (by David Sturm). The essay also discusses the controvesial “No Ice Ball Left Behind” policy. :)

Note: I’m actually glad about the reasoning for the new definition. I’ve been reading a bit of Feynman recently, and he says to keep questioning things. The Binzel quote above outlines gravity as the scientific basis of the definition. That makes a lot of sense to me. What do you think?

Speaking of self-assurance in a musician…

One of my favorite musicians, the young and experienced way beyond his years Josh Ritter, is appearing on the Conan O’Brien show on Friday. This is Josh’s first national TV appearance. About 2.5 million people will see him. Here’s Josh’s bio. I highly recommend his CDs.

Time and Place: NBC. Just past midnight on Friday night, Aug 11 (as it becomes Saturday). 12:35am.

Because I recently wrote about expertise being trainable with a major component of the article I referenced being about chess, I want to show you this: David Cowan writes a hilarious post about playing chess online and the im-bots that attempt to simulate a teenage girl on the online chess site. Here’s a segment from his blog:

Unlike other AI engines, the Yahoo! bots do not even incorporate the human being’s questions into their responses. Rather, they exploit the disjointed nature and shallow personae of adolescent chat to spoof a teenage girl, as demonstrated by these pearls of wisdom recently quoted–typos and all–from A_busty_babe_cc_32 (interjected with comments from armandolinares001, a naive suitor):

can any guys beat me?
you play good
19/f bored with pics in profile
can i see?
Hi… 19/f :-) Pics in my profile
do you have a profile?
yeah, in my profile
armandolinares001: hi
tee hee
armandolinares001: wat?
are you married?
armandolinares001: no u?
I love cheesy poofs
you play good
19?F/Cali web cam and pics in my profile!
I’m feelin gfrisky
thats hot

See David’s full post here.

Hello, today is the seventh day of the seventh month. This is one of my favorite holidays! TANABATA, meaning “Star Festival.”

If you make a wish, as long as it doesn’t rain where you are, your wish will come true. Here’s the story from this site:

    Two stars, Weaver Princess Star and Herd Boy Star were in love. The Weaver Princess Star was very good at weaving, and her father was a heavenly king. Although the Herd Boy Star was a boy of lowly birth, the king, kind-hearted, let them marry. But because they were in love so much, they forgot to do their work. The Weaver Princess Star did not weave the cloth and the Herd Boy Star did not take care of the herds of sheep. The king became so angry, that he decided they must be separated. They were told to live at the opposite sides of the Milky Way, the Sparkling River of the Heavens. They were only to meet on the night of July 7th, when they cross the sky.

If it rains on July 7th, then the two stars, Orihime the weaver princess and Hikoboshi the herd boy, will not be able to meet for another year. So children and adults in Japan write down their wishes on this day on colorful origami paper and hang up their wishes on bamboo trees.

Tanabata Tree

If it does not rain on this year, then the two stars meet and everyone who made a wish has his wish come true! But if it rains, then the Milky Way, the river of the heavens, overflows, and the two cannot cross to meet each other on this one day of the year. People in Japan also wear the summer yukata (see further down the page here) and dance for the festival.

The particular two stars that this story describes are Orihime the princess weaver star called Altair in the constellation Aquila and the Hikoboshi herd boy star called Vega in the constellation Lyra. Altair and Vega are two of the three vertices of the Summer Triangle, which can be seen best in the summer months when it is almost directly overhead. Here are some other Tanabata sites: a children’s version, probably the most in-depth description, the full version, and a simple great description.

WHERE: Japan
WHEN: July 7th, every year.

This gym is a reason to climb in the Westchester and Stamford, CT area. If you were ever considering climbing, this gym is why you actually should. The Cliffs at Valhalla.

Cliffs at Valhalla

* It’s NEW!!! So great – everything is clean. The holds that you use to hold onto while you’re climbing are not chalked up – you can still feel their ridges.
* It’s safe. Mike the owner has done a great job of making sure the folks that work there know what they’re doing in climbing, and they won’t do what they don’t know very well. The mats on the floor for regular climbing are great. It’s not too cold or too warm.
* It’s thorough – there are two elliptical machines upstairs and one rowing machine for warming up; there’s a shorter wall upstairs for beginners, there’s bouldering, of course a chin up bar, and there’s regular climbing and a good number of lead routes too. You can borrow the gym’s ropes. Continue reading

Have you ever thought about trying Trapeze? WOW! Just wow. We went for a friend’s birthday to a place near Boston, the Trapeze School Beantown in the building where Jordan’s Furniture has a major store.

(I once read somewhere that John Lennon wanted to write a song about Yoko Ono, but that there was just too much to write, so the whole song ended up being something like “She’s so deep, she’s so deep” (maybe “she’s so hot, so hot.”). If you can find that song, please let me know! Thanks.)

In any case, Trapeze is so wow; it’s so wow. You know even before you start that it’s going to be high up and that you will probably be a little wavering up there. Ok, you know that logically. But still you think, “What if it’s fine? What if it’s not that high?” In any case, it is! The instructors make you feel pretty comfortable in advance by having you practice a couple of times tucking your legs up towards the bar and hanging from your knees. It’s on a bar that’s hanging just over your head, but whoa!, it’s different once you stand up there, high and by yourself!


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