Monday, 28 November 2011

The Zoo.

Even though we were supposed to go about a month ago, we finally made it to the zoo yesterday. It was a long day, as the zoo is huge and requires a lot of walking. As you can imagine I used my camera a lot, so be prepared for a very photo-heavy post! It was wonderful weather and husband and I caught the ferry out to the zoo from the city. Here are some snaps I took of some Sydney landmarks that we went past in the ferry:

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House
And of course, I took a lot of photos of the awesome animals. Here are some of our favourites...

Friday, 18 November 2011

That's boring. You're boring everybody. Quit Boring Everyone!

Well now that I've prepared you for what may be a potentially boring post I will continue (though hopefully I haven't biased you towards viewing it as boring by saying that - am I over thinking this? Have I had too much caffeine? I'd say so). Anyway...

A while ago I read this article about nesting in the office. Some argue that having a clean and clutter-free work desk leads to more productivity, while others suggest that 'nesting' (having personal items, and work organised in a way that is however you want) can make you feel more comfortable and at 'home' and therefore that is more productive. I personally agree with the latter. I am so glad in the PhD office that we each get our own little cubicle that we can decorate however we want. Here's mine in case you're interested: 

Astute/regular readers will notice my 'motivational' Productive June Poster - Sleeping is for Unproductive Losers.
Much to my surprise, that plant (named Artemis Esq.) has been alive in my care since 2008!
This is Percy. He is my favourite solar-powered toy. His little head and feet move and everything!

As you can see, when it comes to decorating I am a seven year old child. I like lots of bright colours and toys. Some people may find it distracting to have all this stuff on their desk, but it just makes me feel like it is my place. Most of the time I forget it's there while I'm working, but it's a good quick mental break (and eye exercise people!) to look around at a variety of fun things.

What do you think? Is 'nesting' productive or unproductive? 

P.S. Thanks to those of you who submitted questions for my valuable 'advice'. I will work on answering some soon! There's still time to ask questions also - HERE!
P.P.S. I have a facebook methingy now! Take a look and be my friend please :)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Is your hand an alien?

No, not like ET. [via]
Is it weird that I have a favourite syndrome? I really don't wish to make light of what I'm sure is a difficult situation, but I truly find Alien Hand Syndrome (AHS) fascinating. It also probably doesn't help that there are documentaries about it that have terrible/amusing re-enactment scenes (I love dodgy re-enactments). So what is it and how does it happen?
I should note this is really quite rare; according to this BBC article in 2000 there were at that time approx 40 people with an Alien Hand. Basically, although it can occur due to brain damage (and possibly even a prion disease), it is most well known for occuring following a surgical procedure called a corpus callosotomy. Some people have seizures that are so severe that medication does not help. As a last resort (though to be honest I'm not sure how often this happens now), surgeons will sever the two brain hemispheres at the corpus callosum - the part of the brain that allows the two hemispheres to communicate with each other. Doing this means a seizure will only be localised to one hemisphere and the seizure can no longer spread to the entire brain. This means the effects of the seizure will be far less debilitating for the sufferer. However this often brings with it a curious side effect: sometimes parts of one side of the body will at times no longer seem to be under the person's control. As the left side of the brain generally contains most of the language functions, and the right side does not, when they are separated it is hard to consciously understand what occurs on that side - hence the behaviour of the left hand seems inexplicable and disobedient (yes I said left hand - this is because the hemispheres of the brain control the opposite side of the body). As such their hand appears 'alien' to them and does all sorts of bizarre behaviours. 

No, not like Thing either.
Anecdotes include a person with one hand trying to get dressed and doing up buttons, with the alien hand simultaneously trying to undress them; one hand trying to put a cigarette in their mouth and light it, while the alien hand slaps it away "I guess he doesn't want me to smoke!"; and enter the terrible re-enactment - the alien hand trying to drive the person off the road (at ~5 min of this youtube clip of an AHS documentary, though consider watching the whole thing, pretty interesting). 

What can be done about this 'wayward' hand? In case of brain injury, it is possible that with time and recovery it will gradually come back under the control of the person. However in other cases where the connection has been permanently severed, this may be less likely. There has also been a study that tried antipsychotic medication and botox injections to control 'limb leviation' frequency in the alien hand; however the antipsychotic was found to cause a psychotic episode (yes strangely that can happen), and I'm a bit unsure what I think of the botox idea - isn't it just paralysing the arm? As such management techniques may be better: for example, occupying the hand with other tasks such as grasping an object.

I remember seeing some of the abovementioned documentary when I was younger, and it further cemented my love for psychology and neuroscience. Also with AHS comes some intriguing philosophical questions: Does the less dominant right hemisphere actually have a different (potentially more primal) personality that is usually under the control of the more rational left hemisphere? Does AHS refute free will /are we really in control of our own actions? Do you love poorly-acted re-enactments as much as I do? Ok the last question isn't so philosophical but important nevertheless. 

P.S. If you're interested in more information please feel free to ask me, as I obviously love talking about it! This 'stuff you should know' clip on AHS is cool too. 

P.P.S. For no real reason I can think of except all the cool kids are doing it, I now also have a facebook page. So please 'like' it for updates and special extras*!

*content may not be special or extra.  

Friday, 4 November 2011


I pride myself on giving un-asked for, un-wanted, un-professional advice. I have no real basis for a lot of my opinions; besides the fact that I'm doing a PhD in Psychology, I have no actual clinical training. Even still, I think I'm a fairly persuasive person, so at least some people go away thinking the advice I gave was useful (whether it was or not really is an entirely different story). Though now I think of it, there was this one time my advice was voted the top answer on yahoo! answers (true story). That's got to count for something, right? 

So with that caveat, I have decided that if you would like to ask me for random advice, I am happy to tell you what I think. There is a contact page you can go to, where you can ask anonymous questions. If enough people (i.e., more than one) have questions, I will go about answering them. If not, well please join me in pretending this whole venture never occurred.

Just so you can be astonished at my advice-giving powers, I have provided some example (read: pretend) questions, so you can see my extremely wise answers.

Question #1: Dear Lozzz123, I'm extremely sad of late, because I have begun to realise that there is no way I will ever be as awesome as you. Please give me some awesome tips, or some ways to deal with not being as awesome as you. Regards, Depressed.

Dear Depressed. I'm sorry you're so unhappy, but at least you came to this realisation sooner than later. There's no reason to live in denial. With that being said, you'll be happy to know your condition is not entirely without hope. While of course, you can never be as awesome as I am (NEVER), you can try to copy me in every way. People will then at least give you credit for not only recognising my brilliance, but choosing the right person to emulate. Otherwise, I hear there's a tribe in the Amazon or somewhere which has had no outside contact, ever. They've possibly never heard of me, so you could go live with them, without fearing the constant reminders of my awesomeness.

Question #2: Dear Lozzz123, do you think I should do a PhD? Thanks, Wondering.

Dear Wondering, Yes. On the other hand, probably not. One of those.

Question #3: to lazz123 ur hott. 

Dear Anonymous, spelling and grammar can be your friends. I suggest you introduce yourself to them. (See what I did there? They didn't actually ask for advice, but I gave it anyway - and see how much I will enrich their life if they take this on board?)

So there you have it. Ask away! 

P.S. I'm may answer serious questions also.
P.P.S. Disclaimer: advice may not be useful or helpful and could potentially make your life worse. Just sayin'.
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