Auxiliary Brain

February 14, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — probablyghosts @ 7:11 pm


DCS 101 NewsHour: New Urbanism

Filed under: Uncategorized — probablyghosts @ 6:57 pm

February 12, 2009

ARS 270: Shiny people

Filed under: Uncategorized — probablyghosts @ 6:34 am

February 10, 2009

ARS 270: Today in Photoshop

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Using the Patch tool to reduce oily shine without sacrificing skin texture


Studying for Psych Exam

Filed under: Uncategorized — probablyghosts @ 2:05 am

Focusing on the extent to which personality is influenced by motives outside one’s own awareness is most relevant to the psychodynamic perspective.
(How behavior springs from unconscious drives and conflicts. ex: How can someone’s personality traits be explained in terms of sexual and aggessive drives or as the disguised effects of unfulfilled wishes and childhood traumas?)

Studies of the relative impact of nature and nurture on human differences in aggressiveness best illustrate the research efforts of behavior geneticists.

Norepinephrine is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone.

Visual information is processed by ganglion cells after it is processed by rods and cones and after it is processed by bipolar cells.

Damage to the basilar membrane is most likely to affect one’s audition.

The rubber-hand illusion best illustrates sensory interaction.

The way in which you quickly group the individual letters in this test item into separate words best illustrates the principle of proximity.

The vestibular system, which contributes to our balance and our sense of spatial orientation, is the sensory system that provides the dominant input about movement and equilibrioception.

Kinesthesis/Proprioception (pronounced /ˌproʊpriːəˈsɛpʃən/ PRO-pree-o-SEP-shun); from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own” and perception) is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body.

The blind spot in the eye is located where the optic nerve meets the eye.

Roadsa and cones are the eye’s receptor cells. Cones are especially sensitive to bright light and are responsible for our color vision.

The Young-Hemholtz theory shows that the eue contains three types of color receptoprs, and the Hering theory accounts for the nervous system’s having opponent-process cells.

Opponent-process theory: opposing retinal processes (red-green, yellow-blue, white-black) enable cplopr vision. For example, some cells are stimulated by green and inhibited by red. vice versa.

I am job?

Filed under: Uncategorized — probablyghosts @ 12:12 am

February 5, 2009

Fat Al from Dallas

Filed under: Uncategorized — probablyghosts @ 4:51 am

SBS 399 SaveFirst Reflections 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — probablyghosts @ 4:42 am

            Training day passed over in a slow landslide of information, leaving behind about 3/4 the information I needed to pass the test. The state of alarm brought on by this sudden glut of information didn’t entirely lift until today, when I decided to CHILL OUT. This was brought about by the realization that delays due to technical glitches and knowledge gaps are entirely normal for SaveFirst. Luckily, we have time to get comfortable with the system before tax season hits full swing, and the more experienced volunteers are as helpful as they have any time to be. I look forward to the opportunity, as a class, to offer our feedback to SaveFirst once tax season is over.

            This afternoon, I spent my entire shift at the New Hope site troubleshooting a return whose numbers wouldn’t behave. The client explained that the same problem had occurred the previous year, and explained that she “I didn’t have to file an Alabama return,” but I didn’t want to go ahead without verifying the correct procedure. The client asked several times for a volunteer she’d worked with in 2008; she spent a good deal of time looking over my shoulder and asking what this or that meant. (Caroline and several other volunteers tracked down the problem, which was essentially a software glitch that caused retirement benefits to show up on line 7 of the 1040 (Wages) rather than line 16 (Pensions and retirement.) This caused the Alabama return to register taxes owed on income that is non-taxable.) The client was right: she didn’t have to file an Alabama tax return. (I was so flustered that I neglected to photograph the tow truck taking away the repossessed white limousines from the Credit Union parking lot.)

            Not having the expertise to complete all returns creates embarrassing situations, particularly when dealing with an existing client who has already had some (second-hand) experience with TaxWise. Several clients did not know that I was a volunteer, and expressed surprise that I would be willing to work unpaid. (“What, you think I get paid for typing this slow?”) I’m not holding grouchiness against anyone, but it’s easier to work with someone who cheerful. When someone is a “backseat driver” and questions my ability, it undermines my confidence; although I cannot fault them for their concern, my discomfort affects my performance. Paradoxically, it’s those clients with whom I most enjoy talking whose returns seem to take the least time. This should level out as I become more familiar with TaxWise and its many quirks. I look forward to being able to multitask; but for now clients will have to watch me squint at forms and mouth words to myself.

My first shift, also at New Hope, was conducted with ample assistance, and 2 volunteers per return – but apparently this was only for the first week. It was enough to ease me into it, although I was so nervous filling out my first client’s return that I barely had a chance to talk to her (she was one of the grumpy ones.) Filling out returns is becoming second nature, although I look forward to finally being at ease enough to carry on conversation simultaneously – for now, I am too distracted.

Never mind the minutiae of filing! SaveFirst is important for as an opportunity to observe communities from one end of the scale to the other: both collecting data about Alabamians, and meeting them face to face. Despite what were described to us as rocky beginnings PR-wise, participants were on the whole enthusiastic about the program (although 2 mentioned a concern about identity theft and didn’t want to leave the site until their return file had been saved and closed.) Most had heard about the program through word of mouth, though some were referred by the IRS. Out of 6 returns prepared, 2 or 3 (sorry, bad notes) had filed through SaveFirst in 2008. One had filed through H&R Block and had not received EIC which she qualified for; several others (not previous SaveFirst clients) had also not received EIC.

5 were single female Head of Householders, one Married Filing Jointly.  3 or 4 clients had paid for childcare in order to work. All were black, except for one woman who had two children by a Black ex-husband (I didn’t ask, but she had beautiful mixed-race children – what is the politically correct term these days?) One was a grandmother raising her 1 year old granddaughter.

            At the Bessemer site, I was troubled by the physical punishments and threats which were doled out to children as young as 1 year old  by mothers and relatives. I was troubled – though not enough to intervene, as it wasn’t severe and I was wary of insulting the women. Several mothers were very impatient with their small child’s playful behavior, one chastising her 3 year old boy for minor infractions such as peeking through the curtain at the elderly couple in the next partition. It wasn’t the violence per se that bothered me, but the inconsistent parenting methods which obviously confused the children, and the intolerance of normal infant and child behavior. Another young woman whose return I prepared, 4 years my junior, although I tried to reassure her that it wouldn’t interfere with my work, tried to reason with her one-year-old baby to get her to stop yelling (happy yells), alternating pleading (which didn’t work) with slaps on the hand (also didn’t work, made her cry instead of happy noises.) On the other hand, she responded positively to her baby’s vocalizations when they fell within an acceptable decibel range, and beamed with pride when I complemented the child’s sense of rhythm.

            Tax prep is a stressful environment for children, who are forced to sit in respectful silence, or as near as they can manage, for indefinite periods of time. It’s also stressful for mothers, who are no more happy about having to make their child sit still for so long. I understand that I am not seeing them at their best parenting behavior, but I can’t help but be troubled by the evidence of “toxic stress.” Mothers from my socioeconomic, uh, “class” background, such as the one that raised me (upper middle class, read Piaget in college) are more tolerant of childlike behavior and less likely to use violence in word or deed; on the other hand, they can afford a babysitter, and probably didn’t spend the day on their feet behind a cash register, and for that matter they can afford to hire a tax preparer.

            At some point during my shift at Bessemer, when the only remaining returns were beyond my qualifications, I stepped in to amuse a 3 year old girl whose mother (grandmother?) had been there for over an hour. I noticed her playing with her relative (her aunt, it turned out, nine years old) doing acrobatic things, climbing on eachother. They were watched by two older relatives (aunt, mother/grandmother) who spent most of their time on cellphones, paying little attention other than to tell her occasionally to be quiet. The little one was not at all shy – when I first came into the site she greeted me, “Hi, girl!” I brought the kids out into the hall (deserted hallway, night time, Tech college) and we ran up and down the hall, did some exercises, then went back in and gave the little girl a pen and a highlighter to color with, which she did avidly. I took pictures of her drawing and told her aunt that she was a lucky kid to have a cool older aunt who liked to play with her. What I didn’t go into was that having a playful, engaged, caring relative is crucial for that little girl to stay bright and inquisitive and socially adept despite what could possibly be a stressful home life (judging from the behavior of the woman who was probably her mother.)

            Over the years I have gathered from various readings and observation that Black families are more tightly knit on the whole than white, with greater participation on the part of aunts, cousins, and especially grandmothers, who often take a major role in raising their grandchildren. This participation on the whole favors women over men, the reasons for which register in the unfortunate statistical prospects of Black men. One topic I would like to broach in more conversations is that of extended family relations, particularly childcare by relatives – who are the children spending time with, and how is it affecting them? I would like to learn more about how children raised, from both parents, and from the grandparents – who are always happy to talk about their grandchildren!

            The first few shifts have been bumpy, but I feel that I am getting the hang of the TaxFirst system, and look forward to being able to carry on actual conversations with participants in the program, but of course, that big ol’ grin of “$4000 refund” makes it all worthwhile.



DiRT – Digital Research Tools.

Filed under: Uncategorized — probablyghosts @ 2:30 am

 Check it out.

Tough guy, eh

Filed under: Uncategorized — probablyghosts @ 2:17 am
The famous Borat singlet, seen here on a man who wishes he'd covered his nipples

The famous Borat singlet, seen here on a man who wishes he'd covered his nipples

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