Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekend Video: Agnostic Jewish Woman on the Koran



"Part of the problem is that we can't read the Koran like any other book"

"The Arabic has a hypnotic quality that begs to be heard rather than read"

Lesley Hazleton blogs at The Accidental Theologist.

I plan on reading her book “After the Prophet: the Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam”, as well as her upcoming book about the Biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A year older

I can tell that I’m getting older when I have to wait in a long line at a pharmacy to fill another prescription. It makes it worse that it’s a new prescription, which my doctor recently prescribed for me. This makes it two medications that I’m taking as an otherwise healthy individual (and I’m only 22).

I think I’m one of the few people that can actually feel a year older on my birthday. Four years ago, I was visiting my uncle and his family in San Jose. My birthday happened while I was still there. The day I turned 18, I had pain and swelling along my gums, towards the back of my mouth. I waited for days until my uncle persuaded me to visit a dentist.

When I walked into the dentist’s office, I explained what was wrong and he immediately said, “Those are your wisdom teeth coming out. They are expected to come out at around this age.”

“I’m getting old!”, I shrieked internally.

A year later, at 19, I was visiting the phlebotomist (the person that does the blood work) and fainted after having my blood taken out. I have been to a phlebotomist numerous times before and this has never happened. Ever since that day, I have fainted at every single blood withdrawal and vaccination. I’ve talked to nurses, doctors, and friends. They all say that maybe I’m scared of needles. But how come I suddenly became scared of something that never used to bother me at all?  I secretly think it’s because I’m getting older.

Three years later, while waiting patiently at the pharmacy, I had the same thoughts about my age. Thoughts about the age I used to be and the age that has entered upon me.

But a sudden epiphany overtook me while typing this:

Yes, I am getting old. I am a year older than last year. I will be a year older next year. But you know what? I might be 22, I might look like I’m 26, I might feel like I’m 30 sometimes, but I’m still young at heart. I do act more mature than most my age. However, I’m also much more adventurous, fun-loving, and I am proud of all that I have accomplished in my life thus far (and I didn’t feel conceited while saying that).



^ My pill cutter and medication

Thursday, October 28, 2010


A couple of months ago, I came across a website called NaNoWriMo and I immediately liked the idea. How many times have you thought of some wacky story in your mind and told yourself, “This would be a great idea for a book!” Then, you tuned it all out and got back to what you were doing. I know I have! I’ve concocted some insane plots in my head, only to shut them all out because I told myself, “Who has the time to write it out? I have other things to do.”

Well, NaNoWriMo has a solution for all of us creative geniuses out there! The name stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s a month dedicated to working on any crazy plot that we desire to pursue in the month of November. The goal is to write down 50,000 words, without worrying about the quality of your writing. It’s like when your high school English teacher made you do those journaling exercises in class and told you to write down whatever comes to your mind, without discriminating against any thoughts.

What’s the perk of doing this with the NaNoWriMo rather than on your own? Well, if you were going to do it on your own, you would have done it by now. You need some motivation to crunch out those 50K words and NaNoWriMo offers that. Plus, you can join a write-in where you live and make some new friends. If that wasn’t enough, winners can receive a free proof copy of your novel from CreateSpace. Isn’t that exciting?!

So, hurry up and sign up for NaNoWriMo because it starts in 3 days! You wouldn’t want to miss out on all the fun!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to eat with your hand

Howdy! Here’s a tutorial that might be useful if a spoon or fork is not in sight.

I had lunch at my friend’s house a couple of weeks ago and I saw that she wasn’t shy about eating with her hand. I almost always eat with my hand at home, but I don’t do it if there are guests over. I realize that I need to get over my shyness because I really do enjoy eating with my hand. I feel like I am more aware of what I am eating because I can feel the texture of the food.

Now you can experience the pleasures of feeding yourself with your bare hands too!

I lived the first nine years of my life in Pakistan, where it is quite common to eat with one’s hand (yes, they have spoons there-but some people prefer not to eat with them). I also knew that our neighbors in India do the same. I recently found out that it is common in Sri Lanka too. Now I think it must be a common practice in many other places as well, despite the availability of eating utensils.

So, here we go.

Let’s say you want to eat this:


And you want to use this:


(1) Form a shape with your hand as if you are holding a baseball. Here, you can see it from different angles:

IMG00367 IMG00368

(2) Now, shrink the imaginary baseball until it’s as big as the amount of food you want to stuff in your mouth:

IMG00371 IMG00372


(3) Now, take some rice and form a little mound with the hand that has the tiny, imaginary baseball:


This is how it will look like:


You can add some meat or whatever else you eat your rice with:

IMG00378 IMG00379

(4) Pack it really tightly between your fingers:


(5) Then, pick up the rice with your fingers and you are ready to eat:




Saturday, September 4, 2010

Prayer Desktop Gadget

This is a neat desktop gadget that tells you what time the prayers are in your zipcode, plus it gives you a countdown to the next immediate prayer. You can also go to the settings and get a short verse of the Quran recited both before and after the Azaan (the call to prayer recited immediately before the prayer starts). You can even choose where you want the Azaan recited from!!

prayer gadget

prayer gadget 2 

Here’s how to install it (I have Windows 7 starter):

Go to the Start Menu


Click on ‘All Programs’:


Click on ‘Desktop Gadget Gallery’:


Click on ‘Get more gadgets online’ on the lower right hand side corner:

(Your browser will automatically open a new window with the ‘Windows Live Gallery’)


Once you’re at the Windows Live Gallery in your browser, scroll down and click on ‘Get more desktop gadgets’:


Click on ‘Miscellaneous’ on the left hand side menu and look for Prayer Times gadget:


Click Download and follow instructions.

Happy Praying=)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Day At the Bay

Yesterday, I was a front desk volunteer at Upper Newport Bay.


I answered a phone call, guided some people around the center, reunited a mom and child, played a movie for the kids, and played cashier for a little bit.

At the end, before leaving, I decided to buy some of the cool things that were there. I bought two “Quick Guides”; one about birds in Orange County and another about wildflowers in the O.C.

IMG00513 IMG00514

Then, since my mom is finally coming back today (after two months in Pakistan), I decided to greet her at the airport with a red-headed woodpecker by my side (obviously it’s a stuffed animal) so I bought an Audubon bird (with a real woodpecker bird call).

Meet Mr. Woodsworth:


Isn’t he cute?

Here are some more pictures of the area for your enjoyment:

IMG00450 IMG00452 IMG00455

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ramadan Season 2010

Are you excited? Well, you should be. Ramadan is almost here.

I have a strange relationship with this month. When it comes near, I go on panic mode. I don’t know why, so don’t ask me. I just know that towards the end of Sha’ban (the month before Ramadan), I start to freak out.

“Oh no, Ramadan is almost here!”

“I won’t be eating from sunrise till sunset!”

“Will I be able to do it?”

And the thoughts keep coming. Maybe this would be a good place to tell you that sometimes my thoughts really get the best of me.

I am inspired by others who have such a positive attitude before this month. And that is how it should be. I don’t know if I will be alive for Ramadan next year and it’s a blessing to be alive to experience Ramadan for this year. Plus, the benefits of Ramadan are numerous; the main benefit being the self-discipline that one achieves.

Most problems can be remedied by the self-discipline approach. We should promote Ramadan as a beat-your-bad-habit-in-the-rear-and-become-a-new-person-in-thirty-days type of program. It really is a thirty-day boot camp that seeks to rid individuals of the spiritual and social toxins that  are ruining their relationship with not only God, but with other human beings as well.

And this last point brings me to the main reason I opened up a blank post (even though my post jumped from how ridiculous I act when Ramadan approaches to how some people don’t, to how that is a good thing, to how Ramadan is beneficial, and finally to my main point). How wonderful would it be if we could get our Non-Muslim buddies participating in this month, fasting side by side with us?

I recently posted on a community at blogfrog about Ramadan. Then, I asked if anyone wanted to participate in fasting from either food, water, a bad habit, or all three. Surprisingly, some people responded right away and said they would be willing to give up one thing for the month. I definitely think that’s a start.

Here’s my request from you. If you are a Muslim, would you like to make an agreement that you will try to recruit your Non-Muslim friends (from either online or not) to participate in this Holy Month? Wouldn’t that be a great opportunity to educate others about Islam? If you are Non-Muslim and reading this, would you like to participate with me. Just leave a comment or send me an email (whichever you are comfortable with) and let’s set goals together=)

"O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God" [2:183]

IMG00294 IMG00356

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eating Better (from Sisterswhoblog)

I wrote this post for Sisterswhoblog and wanted to share it here as well because I think a lot of us can relate to this (on a side note: please join this network. If you’re not a sister, then you should follow the blog).

I recently took a class titled ‘Neurobiology of Learning and Memory’ and one of the topics of the lectures was the connection between eating disorders and the brain. In earlier lectures, we had talked about Depression and Alzheimer’s. Both of the latter two are causes of either a decrease in activity of the brain, or death of neurons in the hippocampus (part of the brain involved in memory and learning), respectively. However, with eating disorders, it’s very different. The attitudes, emotions, and feelings that arise during an eating disorder are actually caused by the starvation, not by an underlying neuronal problem.

I do not want to bore the readers with any biological mumbo jumbo (even though I kind of already have), but the real purpose of this post is this next idea: Most anorexics and bulimics have a high recovery, as well as a high remissive rate when they follow the correct way of eating.

Basically, the idea behind a new treatment plan for patients with eating disorders is teaching them the difference between hunger and satiety. It’s like learning to eat like a kid again! Children will eat when they are hungry, and will let you know when they are done. As adults, we become ‘deaf’ to our bodies natural eating pattern. We eat when we’re hungry and continue to eat long after our body has reached it’s satiety level.
This new system was developed in Sweden and it uses a device called a Mandometer. This device is plugged in a computer and you place your plate of food on top of it. You eat while the plate is still on the scale. The mandometer will tell you your speed of eating and ask you of your satiety levels. Eventually, the patient’s goal is to adjust his/her curve to the ‘normal curve’ for eating. More information can be found here.

The reason I found this to be interesting is because of two reasons: 1) it resembles the way our Prophet (SAW) ate and 2) it works with other eating problems like obesity, as well. So, if any of you are ever in need of a diet plan, just read the Sunnah of the Prophet (and follow it too). This goes first and foremost for myself.

"No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath." – Prophet (SAW); narrated by Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’I, Ibn Majah

“It’s not what you eat, it’s how you eat it.”- Professor M

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Community News

Welcome to the first ever community news, where I will tell you what a few of my peeps are up to. This has been a very exciting week for so many. New challenges and adventures have made their way into the lives of many fellow bloggers.

Sister Is-za Jelass just had a new addition to her family. She is still in awe at this newfound happiness that her little Sultana has brought her. Go and congratulate her.

In the meantime, over in Alaska, Single Infertile Female is getting pregnancy-ready. She just had an implantation and now she anxiously awaits the results. This lady has been through so much and she holds it together like no one else. Get to her blog to give her some encouragement.

Now, lets plan out YOUR day for tomorrow.

For breakfast, head on over to Muslim Wife’s Kitchen for some great recipes. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make it special.

Before you head out the door, check out some advice from Little Auntie. Who knows? She might enlighten you with some great wisdom. Auntie might be little, but she’s got a lot to say.

Next stop, off to work. We all know that work can get boring. Especially if you have a job that is repetitious, your brain can get fried easily. If that’s the case, then check out some of Kanwalful’s ‘do and don’ts of grammar’.  If you happen to fall in one of the categories, then stop immediately.

Then, since you don’t feel like concentrating on your work anyway, check out Sisterswhoblog Network and join, if you haven’t already. It’s a great way to make new friends online and get some followers to your blog.

Now, you’re going to head home. If you’re a guy, go buy some flowers for your wife (if you’re married).

When you’ve arrived at home, sit back, relax, and read some advice that sister Nachida gives for Muslim converts. She has some great advice to share with y’all.

Finally it’s bedtime. You’re exhausted and just want to cuddle up in your bed with your favorite blankie. Before you do that, make sure to check out recommendations from Ummah Reads for some great books you can read to your children before you put out the lights. (My parents never read to me when I was little, but I strongly encourage you all to do that with your kids)

Now go to sleep! Sweet dreams!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


A month ago, I had chest pain on two different days within the same week. The chest pain was in the lateral left chest region. The pain wasn’t too bad. It was minor pain that felt a little tingly. However, a couple days later, as I made my way into the Microbiology final, two of my fingers went numb on my left hand: thumb and index finger. That scared the heavens out of me! I kept thinking, “I hope it’s not a pre-heart attack .”

I called in the next day to make an appointment and when I told the operator my symptoms, I was promptly connected to a nurse, who asked me some questions:

“Where was this pain?”

“Are you feeling it right now?”

“When was this?”

“Do you have difficulty breathing?”

“Do you have trouble standing?”

“Do you think you will pass out?”

“Are you in any pain right now?”

(Note: If I was really having some kind of emergency, I would have been dead and gone by now)

After the nurse made sure I was okay, I was connected to a receptionist. He asked me some of the same questions and then made an appointment with a doctor for the same day (in fact, just two hours later!). Usually, I have to wait a month for an appointment with a doctor, but I guess I said some keywords that prompted Kaiser to handle the case a little differently.

As it turns out, according to the doctor, it was not heart-related. Instead, he asked me some questions about my computer/typing habits and he speculates that it is probably related to a pressure on a nerve that runs the length of the hand.

Here are some tips he gave me on using the keyboard safely:

-Make sure your wrists are lying flat

-Make sure your fingers are not awkwardly curved like this:


-Sit at a comfortable distance from the computer. Don’t sit too close.

-Your fingers should be flat and slightly curved:


He then gave me a hand brace that I am supposed to wear at night to keep my hand in a neutral position. I loved the brace so much that as soon as I got home that day, I wore it around the house for the next couple of days. It made me look like an amateur gladiator, who could either not afford to make a hand armor out of metal, or ran out of metal because his body armor took too much material; hence the title of this post.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Ten Things

Here are ten things about me that you probably don’t care to know, but since Sister Zaufishan had tagged me in my comments, I couldn’t give up this opportunity.

1. I should be studying right now. In fact, when I am supposed to be studiously looking over my textbooks and filling my brain with information, I end up going online and either reading other blogs, or writing a post myself.

[I am taking Human Anatomy at a community college because I need this as a pre-requisite for admission into optometry school. And this class has become a real challenge since it’s a semester’s/quarter’s worth of material crammed into 6 weeks.]

2. I got lost yesterday. Actually, I have this innate capability to get lost, even if I have treaded those same streets since the day I was born.

[I have a blog called Destination Orange County and there is a Library challenge that I have signed myself up for. I’m supposed to be visiting all the libraries in Orange County in the year 2010. Yesterday, I went to Seal Beach branch and got lost on my way there.]

3. I volunteer at the Braille Institute of America. I basically assist the teacher in one of the classes. The Braille Institute of America is a non-profit organization that conducts classes for the visually impaired. These classes are meant to help these students develop self-confidence and awareness so that they can live independently.

4. I also volunteer with an organization called Hospice Touch. I get assigned to an elderly patient that is terminally ill and visit her once a while in order to provide her comfort as well as social interaction.

5. I have signed up to be a volunteer at the Upper Newport Bay, where I will be helping with tour groups, as well as with other cool things.

[I don’t know exactly what I will be doing just yet, but there is a training held in July which I will be attending.]

6. I help out at the Golden West College garden. Basically, I weed and weed and weed, but love every bit of it.

[I mention these volunteering responsibilities so that maybe others can realize that there are so many different ways to help out in the community.]

7. I miss my mommie. Yes, I didn’t think it was possible. My ammi is visiting Pakistan after 6 years and she went alone this time. She left at the end of June and will come back at the end of August.


8. I love to sleep. I can never sleep enough!!

9. I love to eat. I eat everything! (unless I don’t eat it due to religious restrictions) I love buffets. I love Thai, Chinese, Mexican, American, Pakistani, Indian, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Japanese cuisine. Note that these are what I could think of at the moment. Basically, I just love to eat.

10. When I become an optometrist, I want to work in either Vision Therapy, or Low Vision Therapy.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

In Simple Terms: Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease occurs when there is an increase in neuronal cell death in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is involved in learning, memory, as well as with emotional responses. If you are going to lose neurons in this part of the brain, this will obviously have an effect on your learning and memory. Brain imaging from Alzheimer’s patients shows atrophy (or degeneration) of the brain in areas that are involved in learning and memory.

Risk factors of Alzheimer’s include:

1. Age- risk increases after the age of 6o and doubles every decade after that

2. Genetics- if your relative has the disease, your chances of having it increase

3. Cholesterol-high levels of cholesterol are related to an increased risk

4. Injury- a head injury will likely increase the risk

5. Gender- this disease is more common in females than in males

6. Lack of mental stimulation

The critical and toxic molecule in Alzheimer’s disease patients is beta-amyloid, a protein that forms plaques in the brain. Beta-amyloid is formed when an Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) is cleaved into Ab-40 and Ab-42 (both beta-amyloids) by an enzyme called gamma-secretase. Of the two, Ab-42 is the toxic substance that forms plaques in the brain. An increase in Ab-42 causes degeneration of neurons in the brain. Drugs that inhibit gamma-secretase activity have been found to be effective in reducing the progression of Alzheimer’s.

The mechanism by which beta-amyloid induces death of neurons is through its interference with the reuptake of glutamate. Glutamate binds to the NMDA receptor in the brain, which in turn lets calcium ions flow into the channel. However, if too much calcium comes in, it induces activation of calcium-activated proteases, which leads to cell death. Drugs that inhibit NMDA activity (like Memantine) are also used as treatment for Alzheimer’s.

DNA damage within neuronal cells is also prevalent during the course of the disease.
Even though the Alzheimer’s brain increases DNA repair enzymes as well as BCL-2 ( a component that protects against cell death), the battle between damage and repair is ultimately won by the degenerative neuronal cells. Thus, there is more damage than repair occurring in the brain of these patients.

Here’s what YOU can do to slow this degenerative process:

1. Crossword puzzles. Sudoku. Anything that keeps your mind alive.

Learning and mental stimulation enhances BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), a neurotrophin that supports the cells and makes them ‘feel better’.

2. Take a hike.

Physical activity increases BDNF.

3. Eat healthy

Diets high in fats and sugars decrease BDNF activity.


Sleep enhances the activity of BDNF.

5. Quit stressing

6. Get your Vitamin E

Vitamin E slows the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Other interesting facts:

-Patients with rheumatoid arthritis that take Ibuprofen do not get Alzheimer’s because Ibuprofen affects the activity of gamma-secretase in such a way that it reduces the production of beta-amyloid.

-Bilinugals have a lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s

Reference Websites:

*Lecture at University of California, Irvine

Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Award

Kanwalful gave me my first blog award=)

Where will you be in ten years?

I don’t know. However, I know where I want to be in ten years. I want to be done with my Optometry Doctor degree (O.D. degree) and possibly have done my Masters in Microbiology. I want to be married to a financially, mentally, physically, as well as spiritually stable man, who is a couple of years older. I want to have already written at least one book on either overcoming depression as a disease, or maybe a fiction book about a Pakistani young man living in Mexico. I want to be a frequent contributor and an expert on eye-health issues for Prevention magazine. I want to have established an Islamic educational organization that deals with informing the Non-Muslims that are either elderly, deaf, blind, or homeless about Islam. Lastly, I’ll just throw in some cute little kids (no more than two) that I’ll be raising with utmost care. There is a LOT more that I want to do, but in ten years, this seems like quite a bit.

Ten people who deserve this award?
1. Amber Misk
2. Zaufishan Iqbal
3. Bubbli
4. NeverEver
5. Sister Safiyyah
6. Abez
7. The Gori Wife
8. Sister C
9. Banana Anne
10. Sadaf Farooqi

And I would like to include all my followers in this award as well. You girls deserve this award too=)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lucky Student

Getting added to classes that you are petitioning for is purely a matter of luck. During my time at  University of California, Irvine, the system for adding classes involved wait-listing myself online and hoping that others would drop so I could get in (It also helped if I was at number 5 rather than number 55 on the wait-list). However, for ‘classes-in-demand’, due to an easy professor or because it was a pre-requisite for Upper Division classes, the chance of getting in were almost 0 (at least with my kind of luck).

In Golden West College and possibly other community colleges, the system for adding is a little different. The teacher decides how he/she wants to add petitioners to the class. I’ve had an English Professor who had the students write their names on a piece of paper and then he did a draw, where he pulled out as many names as seats available (due to the absence of registered students).

Yesterday, I wanted to petition an Anatomy course at the same community college. I got to the 8am class at 8:20am. A huge line was neatly formed from one corner of the room to the other. At the beginning of the line stood the Professor with a Halloween ‘Trick or Treat’ bucket. Students were pulling out something from this bucket, and then moving along.

I asked a girl about this unusual scene and she told me that the bucket had little cards with either a smiley face or a sad face on each. Whoever got the smiley face could grab a chair and stay for the class, while the ‘sad face’ people had to leave. The ‘smiley face’ individuals would be given add-cards that they could use to add the class online. 

Considering my luck, I decided that I would probably not get the seat. Nonetheless, as always, I still had to try. I was the last person in line.

When I got to the ‘Sorting Bucket’, I pulled out a card that would determine my fate.

And guess what? 

I got in the class!!

My first quiz is tomorrow and my first exam is on Thursday, so I should probably be studying right now.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Join Sisterswhoblog!

If you’re a Muslim woman with a blog, you need to join sisterswhoblog network. It’s a great place to meet other Muslim sisters from around the world, and get more followers to your blog. It’s easy to join and very laid back. I’ve made many friends already in this past month.

Plus, there’s a competition that’s going on right now.

You enter your blog in the appropriate categories, and if you win, there is a possibility that you get to travel to Queen Rania’s palace in Jordan. How cool is that?
So, what are you waiting for? Please join NOW! There are about 73 followers when I last checked. However, the goal of Sister Amber Misk is to increase the membership to 1000 followers. If you’re a follower on my blog, or even if you are not, if you read this, then go check out sisterswhoblog network. GO!

Click here for their online magazine.

*all pictures taken from sisterswhoblog site.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tired of follower hunting?

Let me just answer the question plain and simple: Yes.

I am guessing a lot of people feel the same way. Let me explain.

Obviously, I am not going to get to the point right away. First of all, here’s a little history:

Roughly two years (or more) ago, I started a blog titled ‘Naina’s Dilemma’. I wanted to write about a fictional character Naina, and follow her story through blog posts about her post-graduation life and mid-nagging-mom-to-get-her-to-find-a-suitable-husband life (phew! That was a long one!). She was eventually going to get married during the course of the blog. I was new to blogging and wanted to see what it was all about. I secretly wished I would get many comments on the blog and my blog would become a hit with people from the same cultural background as myself. However, after a couple of months (like two months), I got tired. And I deleted the blog. I was disheartened and thought that this was the end of my blogging ‘career’. I was a failure, I thought.


Then, last year, I decided to start another blog after I had shadowed an optometrist. I wanted to write down all my shadowing/optometry experiences in one place and when I got interviewed (hopefully) at a optometry school, then I could tell them all about my blog. Who knows? Maybe they would be impressed. 

I had two posts on that blog when I decided to delete it and move all those posts to another all-encompassing blog, Rukhpar Mor. I had commented on a couple of blogs with this same nickname (which I had made up in a matter of a minute when I was commenting on a blog for the first time) and thought that it reflected a lot about where I was in my life. This new change of blog name and address took place in September 2009. A new blog had been born.

A few months into blogging at Rukhpar Mor, I decided that I really did want to have a separate blog for my optometry experiences because I didn’t want all my thoughts to get muddled together in one big mush of a mess. So the optometry blog (now called ‘The Ocular’) was reincarnated.

Two months ago, the blogging fever got the better of me and I started yet another blog called ‘Destination Orange County’. I have decided to blog about my adventures/dining/aimless-roaming-around in Orange County in one secure place.
With these new additions to my writing life (which previously only consisted of endless journaling and essay writing), I decided that I did not care about getting any followers. I just wanted to let out my feelings and share my thoughts/experiences/emotions/anything with whoever might be fortunate enough to come across my blogs. Secretly, however, I prayed. I prayed that I would fill my blog with great content that would attract readers. I prayed that my readership would grow to a vast number, the size of facebook users.

Then, one day, wham! I thought to myself: “I need to start commenting on, and following other blogs. Maybe that way I could grow my followership" But I was still too picky. I went around the internet and found a couple blogs that I thought were interesting and followed them. I started to comment regularly. I got some of my earlier followers that way. Everything was sunny and bright on my side of the fence.

Last month, however, I got frustrated again. I wasn’t getting anymore followers! So I looked around for ideas to grow my readership. I found out about two different networks-Sisterswhoblog and 20somethingbloggers. I decided to join and see if it would help. Luckily, I was able to increase my followers from 10 to 19!!!!!!!! ( yes, this deserved that many exclamation points). I was, needless to say, on the greener side of the grass once more.

But now, my dear reader, I am becoming a follower-holic. I have been spending hours and days on these networking sites and leaving comments along with my blog name for prospective followers. I am getting weary and tired, like a sailor caught amidst a storm. My head has been hurting from spending too much time in front of the computer screen (at first, I thought it was dehydration, but I have been chugging down numerous glasses of water to no avail).

I have decided that I am thankful to my Lord for the followers I have. I will focus on writing great content that will benefit my current peeps (followers) and maybe new followers will make their way to this blog. I will (at least for the time being) not stalk other blogs to get more followers on mine.

In the meantime, I want to send a message to all my lovely followers:

I really appreciate that all you women (yes, all my followers are women!) are following me. I want you to know how much it means to me. I also would like to ask you peeps to write me a comment and let me know what kinds of topics interest you. I want to write content that will be interesting to those that are following me, so that they can come back over and over again to leave comments. I love you all! :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What was I talking about? Memory.

Humans have an extraordinary capability to remember faces, interactions, emotional experiences, and ‘interesting’ facts. Notice the wording-‘interesting’.

However, most of the time, our brain is bombarded with information that is useless and dull-think Calculus and Physics-and it has no other option, but to go into a hibernation mode when we are trying to study. For example, think about college students pulling all-nighters. (First of all, I never understood that. Sleep is such a precious time for me. Why would I want to wake up all night, cramming useless, pathetic facts in my brain that I won’t remember after turning in the exam?) Almost all of these students, either on the exam and most certainly after the exam, will forget 90% of what they tried to cram in their brains.

Obviously, when the topic of a recent Neurology of Learning lecture was on memory, I was thoroughly excited.

The process of consolidation (compiling information from short-term memory and putting it into long-term memory) is what limits our memory to a large extent. The brain does not see all things as memorable and hence, filters out all unimportant information. This is a mechanism that the brain evolved that works efficiently in terms of energy expenditure and usage.

Certain events, however, are stored by the brain relatively easily. Emotional responses associated with a memory will be retained much more likely than the same memory without the emotional cue. Bad memories can be prevented from consolidation by blocking norepinephrine receptors. (Norepinephrine affects our responses to stressful situations by increasing blood pressure, constricting blood vessels, etc.) This hormone also induces better cognitive function. Cognition refers to the process of learning, memory, and judgment. (A better cognitive ability would be an advantage in such situations)

There are interesting cases of people, called savants, that have an extraordinary memory, but limited mental abilities.

A patient called S. had a limitless memory; he could remember a table of 50 numbers horizontally, vertically, as well as diagonally. However, in other times, this ‘limitless’ power proved to be a curse. He was unable to forget bad events and was eventually unable to discern fantasy from reality. This shows us that our brain has the capability to remember an infinite number of things, but  it might not be a benefit in the long term.
There are two kinds of memories: declarative (facts) and non-declarative (perceptual and motor skills). A patient called H.M. had recurrent seizures that could not be fixed by medications alone. Doctors decided to remove his temporal lobes. His case gave an insight into the parts of the brain responsible for consolidation of memories.

The hippocampus (located within the temporal lobe) is responsible for the conversion of short-term memory into long-term memory, which affects our ability to recall information.

Following are a few tips that will help you with memory retention in the long-term (courtesy of the Professor):

-Right after class, write down the whole lecture by yourself. Then, look over the notes you took in class.

-Repetition. Look over the notes every couple of days.

-Get emotional. Memories linked to emotional events are retained much more easily than other non-emotionally associated events/facts. You might want to try associating the concepts with something that you encounter everyday.

-Listen to ‘Sonata for 2 pianos in D major K.448” by Mozart while on the way to the exam. (The only musical piece that has been shown to help with cognitive improvement). The research was done at University of California, Irvine and an excerpt from the paper can be found here (courtesy of the guy/gal who uploaded the video).

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Star Blogger Award

I would like to award a star blogger award. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with a blogger who has been very kind and helpful to me. The new style of this blog is due to her generosity. She took some time out to design this new layout and I would like to thank her for this favor. I made this award for her. I don’t know how the blogger award system works, but this is my attempt at expressing my gratitude. Here you go, Johana:


* you can check out her AWESOME blog here.

P.S. The disqus commenting system is not cooperating. All the pre-current-template comments have disappeared from the blog. If someone knows how to fix this, do let me know:)

Monday, June 7, 2010

2010 Best Blog Award

Sisterswhoblog invites YOU to give your suggestions/ideas/whatever-pops-in-your-mind in order to make this award special. Any and ALL suggestions are welcome.

You might get one these for sharing your lovely thoughts:-)


*Organized by Sister Amber Misk.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fatima wants to fly!

Click here to be taken to a website that shows you how to make an animated film very easily. I have tried Windows movie maker, but this is much easier. Enjoy my pathetic attempt at an animated film:

For some reason, my animations never have that ‘clean’ finish. *sigh* Now, back to studying for Physiology…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Followers Update

Thank you my followers, for following me!!

*big giant teddy bear hug*


Oh and I would also like to thank my followers on this blog:) I love you gals!!

*Inspired by Johana Hill

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Twitter Maze

twitter maze
I made it past the twitter maze.

I joined twitter this weekend, after I deleted my Facebook account (which I sort of regret), and for the past couple of days, I have been sending out pointless ‘@messages’ to random people (on twitter)  just to figure out how it actually works. Don’t worry if you don’t know what these ‘@messages’ are-that’s why I’m writing this post.

I am happy to announce that I finally understand this world of twitter and want to share some basics with others who might still be confused.
Here’s the un-official Twitter Guide:

Twitter is a social networking site that keeps you in touch with your current as well as prospective friends, family, employers, employees, etc (?). It’s like facebook because you constantly update your status to reflect your current financial/emotional/mental/etc. state. However, there is a shorter word limit to these statuses (only 140 characters) and there is a new ‘code’ you have to learn in order to send your messages to specific people.

I just want to make some things clear before proceeding:

-If you want to send direct messages to someone, the recipient of that direct message needs to be following you in order for him/her to get that message.

-If, however, you want to send a ‘shout-out’ to someone, that person need not be following you (and you don’t need to be following them either).

Now, let me explain what each of the above means:

-A “direct message” is a message that only the recipient can see (i.e. it is not posted on their homepage, but they get it in their ‘direct message’ link on the right side of their homepage). It’s like the facebook’s inbox feature. If you want to tell someone something privately, you would use the inbox on facebook. Similarly, “direct messages” is twitter’s private messaging system.

To send a direct message, type: d username message. For example,
d rukhparmor I LOVE your blog!
-A “shout-out” is actually called an ‘@reply’ or ‘@mention’ in twitter. It’s like writing on someone’s wall on facebook.
To send an ‘@reply’ , type: @username message. For example,
@rukhparmor You are so AWESOME!
To send an ‘@mention’ , it basically means that you are mentioning that person’s name in the body of your twitter message. For example,
@rukhparmor did you know that @XYZ is single?
(the person with the username XYZ will also get this message since you have the ‘@’ symbol in front of their username)

Now you know how to send messages on twitter. You should also know how to find the messages you have received.

On the right side on your homepage, you will find a box with your username on top and ‘following’ and ‘followers’ right below it. If you look under that, there is a menu that has these options:

‘Home’, ‘@username’, ‘Direct messages’,  ‘Favorites’, ‘Retweets’

If you want to see who mentioned you in their message or if someone sent a ‘shout-out’ to you, click the ‘@username’ option.

If you want to see your direct (private) messages, click the ’Direct messages’ option, and so on.

I hear that there is a lot more to twitter, but this is where I’ll stop.

The above guide will hopefully make your journey with twitter a bit more pleasant and enjoyable. :) Don’t forget to follow me on twitter!

screenshot twitter

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