J Simens.com

Bicultural: Comfortable with two worlds


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 The next chapter of my life includes rainforests and orangutans.

 

Hello Borneo!

I am excited that I will be able to visit the centers that help rehabilitate ex-captive orangutans to free forest life. 

Did you know that some of these orangutans became bicultural, comfortable with both human and orangutan worlds. It turned out that these ex-captives can do a multitude of prodigiously intelligent things. They can take canoes for rides down the river. Orangutans were also taught to made fires, washed laundry, unlocked doors with keys, weeded paths, untied the most complex knots humans could make, hung hammocks up and played in them, cooked pancakes and brushed their teeth. These feats are impressive in and of themselves. I am not saying I agree to making animals learn tricks, I am just saying this is more than some children learn to master in a timely fashion.

Orangutan minds also show qualities not found elsewhere —exceptional reflectiveness, mechanical genius, and unexpected socially astuteness for a species known for solitude. That makes orangutans even more like us than we believed, and even more important to our understanding of human nature.

Captured orangutans have psychological scars that are as serious as physical ones, if often less obvious. Perhaps the worst psychological problems affect the infants. You could see why people wanted them — they are among the most charming creatures imaginable, little balls of cuddly, orange fluff. But the only way to get an orangutan infant is to kill its mother, then take the baby off her dead or dying body. So all captive infants are orphans.

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For orangutans, that alone is tragic because like humans, their mother is the center of their world for many years. It is mother that provides protection, nourishment, comfort, play, knowledge, and guidance. Mother cannot be replaced, scars from captivity cannot be erased, and years lost to imprisonment cannot be relived. At best, we can help orangutans compensate for the losses. Even that takes years of intensive support.

Orangutans may be lightning learners compared to other species, but it still takes them years to acquire the expertise to survive in the forest — after their health, emotional, and motivational problems have been solved.

Yesterday as I re-tried my Bahasa Indonesia skills (the official language of Indonesia sort of like Malay) I found I was comfortable in a language where I know about 500 words and I have not been using them in the last ten years.

Slowly my brain started to reconnect some of the sounds to words. I was able to understand the language spoken by my husband’s co-workers.  As an expat, I am not searching for something to compensate me for my losses. I am ready to re-connect with my years lost – being away from Indonesia.  This does not mean I didn’t love my time in Nigeria or Thailand, it just means I am once again back to an area that will seem more comfortable,  allow more play and I have more knowledge of… Moving On!

notes:

http://www.flicker.com/photos/hisgetti/7109564287/

Trying to find the contact for the original resources on this article, I will post it as soon as I can locate it from our moving boxes.

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Worldwide: Why Expats can make a difference in the world


There are so many expats that travel around the world and they make it a better place because they care about their “new home land”.  Many of these expats we know because of the impact they have had on the world but there are countless other expats we have not heard about.  Please comment on them so we can build a bigger data pool of these wonderful expats.

Here are just two expats that cared for lands, people and animals in a different part of their world.

Dian Fossey – American protecting gorillas in Rwanda

Joan Root – British protecting of african wildlife

Who do you know that have help the world or her people and animals in a big way or in a small way?

This movie is a non-commercial attempt from http://www.sanctuaryasia.com/ to highlight the fact that world leaders, irresponsible corporates and mindless ‘consumers’ are combining to destroy life on earth. It is dedicated to all who died fighting for the planet and those whose lives are on the line today. The cut was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (http://www.sanctuaryasia.com/).

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SpongeBob, Heart Attacks, and Dogs: Three things I learned about the USA


Are your kids (and you)  having too much TV time this summer?

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I am never sure if it is fascination of seeing USA TV for the first time in a long time of if it is the issue of jet lag but when I first hit the USA, I watch too much TV.  I have seen three things this summer that amaze me.

First: Who would have thought SpongeBob might harm  children?

If you’ve been watching the news  you’ve probably seen the popular kids cartoon SpongBob SquarePants is under fire for potentially causing short-term attention problems in young kids. A  study suggests that watching just nine minutes of the program can cause learning and attention problems in children as young as 4 years old. YIKES!

The study took 60 children and randomly assigned them to watch nine minutes of ‘SpongeBob”, a slower paced show called “Caillou”, or simple draw pictures for the allotted time period. Immediately after these nine-minute assignments the kids took mental function tests. The children who were randomly selected to watch SpongeBob did measurably worse than all the other children.

There have previously been research studies that linked TV watching to long-term attention problems in young children, but this new study suggests a more immediate problem occurring after just nine minutes of exposure. You can read more in the article here.  This is not my favorite video about this topic but it does cover the groundwork about attention span and  Spongebob and kids.

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Second: Who would know that something we have done for ages now hurts us?

Research study now has  linked calcium supplements to heart attacks. Doctors and health professionals have told women for years that they should supplement their diets with extra calcium to prevent bone loss (osteoporosis) and fractures, and many of us  have taken their advice.

My mother and all of her friends take calcium supplements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 61 percent of women over age 60 take calcium supplements regularly. Now these same patients have been thrown for a loop by this study.  Their pills cause heart attacks. You can read more in the article here.  Or watch a video here.

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Third: Our best friends are more dangerous in summertime?

Dogs are known to be a man’s best friend, however be careful.. Dogs can be very dangerous to children because children have a tendency to hit or roughly pet dogs, not meaning to hurt them. This may upset a dog or set them off which can lead to dog bites or attacks.

A study published  found that young children are more likely to be bitten by a dog in the summer. Why more kids suffer dog bites in the summer is unknown, but possibly it’s because they spend more time outside playing around dogs, researchers suggested, or because dogs are grumpier when it’s hot. You can read more in the article here.  Or watch a video here.

As is all new research be careful of where the results came from and who is funding the research.

Remember research needs to have large enough sample sizes that they count and have enough data to make the real connection. I am always eager to learn more about what they are discovering by research when it comes to family life.

This was a very interesting article on TV and children.  The research, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity on Sunday, found that children who spend more time in front of a screen as preschoolers tend to have larger waistlines and worse muscular fitness as they grow.

I just wish I wasn’t doing all of this at 3 AM.

Notes:  Excerpts from

http://parenting-source.com/mommy-tips/could-spongebob-be-making-our-kids-stupid/

http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/New-evidence-about-calcium-pills-and-heart-attacks-3700526.php

photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yoshi2000/4275946395/

Large vitamin pills and tablets

Baby & Dog

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How aware are you, socially?


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World Party Band

I spend a large amount of my time trying to help children see how they fit in with their peers and how to understand what social clues are out there to know what behavior is acceptable. It is a fun but challenging job.

Some kids are quick to see the benefits of being socially aware others could care less. Children who come into my office are there to get help and support. It is not the branch of school that deals with punishment. So often, kids think my office is fun and we celebrate their strengths. I think about my work as a ‘party’ most days. In the recent conference in Washington DC, I told them I had the best job in the world.

Since 1996, April 3 has been declared World Party Day. Did you celebrate? I did not, I was involved in two of my least favorite things in the world…travel in economy class and phone notification that my mother was in the emergency room.  Yikes, not a celebration of any sort.

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Parenting: Never easy – my refrigerator lost it’s usefulness


One thing I love about receiving mail is that sometimes envelopes have real photos in them!

I just received a wonderful card that had recent photos of my sister’s family. There are four kids in the family and they are all so cute (Proud aunt – I hope many of you can relate). I am 100% behind electronic information but nothing screams “family” more than putting photos on the refrigerator.

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A refrigerator tells so much about you …

This brings me to two concerns, why did someone invent stainless steel refrigerators and why are families getting smaller in size?

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Amygdala on Over Drive: How a co-worker can have ineffective default behaviors


I had a peer call me to talk over a recent meeting she had attended. She wanted to try and understand how her co-workers thought and reacted. I love skype, it allows us to keep in touch with others in such an easy and fun way. Distance seems smaller with Skype. (not a commercially minded soul but a fan.)

Yikes -he/ she is speaking loudly. He/she is high jacking a meeting.

You know who I am talking about. The person who is becoming more commanding.

He/she is trying to be more controlling. And he/she is  becoming more demanding.

I wish I was brave enough to tell that person that he/she has ‘Ineffective Default Behaviours’  that are getting in the way of being a well-respected member of their committee.

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What is your tap code . . . ?


How do you communicate? What is more important one good friend or someone to share something with?  With many people staying around their homes in Bangkok, they are using communication on line to stay connected.  Twitter at #ThaiFloodEng is very popular.

Social support is key to become resilience.  Everybody needs a way to communicate with others.

My concern is how will we stay connected if things get worse.  What will be our tap code?

Imagine how it would be to be in isolation for almost three years. Would you be able to keep your joys or dreams in your mind?  Would you be resilient?

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Untold Stories – Never Say Should Have


Flooding in Thailand… everyone helping everyone.

Morally this is the right thing to do. Waiting for a crisis or a non event brings out the best in most people. As I watch neighbors help lug items up to higher grounds for the family next door, we have to join in and help them.

Most people will not want to say:

We should have helped those old people . . .

We should have helped that family with just the young kids . . .

We should have helped our neighbors . . .

Thailand is doing all the “shoulds” this Sunday.

It is not in the same magnitude but both stories have the theme of water so there is a connection.

An untold tale of 9/11 Resilience one radio call and 100’s of boats came to help.

My school made CNN news by donations of boats for Thailand.

Even though the characteristics of a hero may be different from one person to another, the underlying theme of heroism is uniform throughout in the sense that they are all admired. Heroes define our aspirations and expand the perceived limitations we have of ourselves. They remind us of who we want to be and how we’re going to get there.

Read more: http://www.jsimens.com/?s=9%2F11#ixzz1au2GNZtP

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Grandma or Grandpa’s stroke: What we all need to know about aging


Having an aging parent can be hard on you. Sometimes you will need to have a medical degree to understand what is really happening to your aging parent. Then throw in having younger kids who you have to explain what happened to “grandma or grandpa” and you have a headache!

Being in the sandwich generation can be hard, but it is even harder when you are in the part of the sandwich that still has young kids! My hat goes off to my younger sister.

Children are often mad and scared. These are normal reactions to any type of illness. What is helpful is when a child has the ability to express their emotions so clearly. Therefore, it is very important for the adult to tell the child the truth. If children aren’t told the truth, their imaginations are likely to conjure up the worse case scenarios. Did Grandma get sick because I didn’t sit on her lap when she asked me to? Am I to blame for my Grandpa’s sickness?

Remember when a child isn’t told what’s happening but they can see the evidence all around them- they will not be able to express how they are feeling.

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