Monthly Archives: October 2013

Crazy Cat Lady Theory

For some, cats are more than just household pets that you occasionally pet, but cats are more of companions and more human-like in some aspects. These people are often referred to as the “crazy cat ladies” of the world. Stores such as Urban Outfitters has recently started a trend in cat apparel, mugs, pins, or anything else you could think of. Could this be because cat ladies are on the rise? Or is this just another marketing scheme to make the already crazy even crazier?

Recent studies have been blaming the toxoplasma parasite on this cat lady phenomena. We had recently talked about this in class, however nothing was said of it causing a love of cats… As crazy as this sounds, when I searched toxoplasma and cat ladies many things appeared, it was also said here that over 60 million people in the U.S. alone have this parasite. If you weren’t in class when we talked about this parasite then here are a few facts, the parasite needs a host, only able to live in the gut of a cat in order to reproduce, the parasite forms eggs that pass through the animals fecal matter. This then can come into contact with mice or even humans. The toxoplasma controls the Amygdala in the brain which controls things like your emotions. This makes the rat or mouse become somewhat “attracted” to cats and easier for the cats to prey on. Then this forms a cycle of cat eats rat, and parasite lives in cat’s gut producing eggs, then the cat produces fecal matter that rat eats. So what happens when toxoplasma gets into a human? We can’t exactly be killed by cats so what would it make our brain think to do?

Here’s where the science gets a little shaky. Studies are all over the place in explaining what actually the parasite makes us think, if anything at all! There were no studies on whether or not you can become a cat lady from this parasite, however I found many other interesting studies on this parasite. 

This study tells us that women exposed to the parasite were 54% more likely to attempt suicide compared to non infected women, this percentage went up depending on how high the levels of infection were, creating a positive correlation between level of infection and suicide. However this article is clearly stating that correlation does not equal causation and they aren’t ruling out reverse causation in this case either. Did they take into consideration other variables? The study was fairly large of 45,000 women in Denmark who were infected. However, according to abc news, about 10 million people attempt suicide every year and 1 million succeed. I think a better observational study would be to test the suicide victims to see if they had the parasite when they died.

Also, studies such as this one have shown a link between traffic accidents and the parasite. It states that infected people are 3 to 4 more times as likely of being in car accidents due to reckless driving. The parasite is known to impair reaction time which would explain why if you’re infected, you’re more likely to get into a car accident. It’s also known to make people more of a risk-taker which can be linked back to the suicide studies.

Many of these articles also believe that the majority of people pick up the virus from uncooked or undercooked meat.The CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say that eating undercooked meat or accidentally ingesting contaminated meat is a main way to get infected. Also coming into contact with contaminated cat feces is a way to get infected. So people don’t necessarily have to have a cat to pick up this parasite.

There are many crazy studies out there on this parasite and the effects it has on our bodies and minds. However, there is no scientific evidence that being infected with toxoplasma makes us more attracted to cats. It is a very interesting thing to think about, but as of science now, there is no link. To clear up this problem, and possibly to save lives of the infected, we could conduct more observational studies comparing people that are affected and their everyday actions with the non infected. Even more experimental animal studies could be done to better explain the effects toxoplasma has on other creatures rather than just mice. I believe that something could be going on in our brains when infected, the main question being what? 

Ending on a few last questions, do you think toxo controls our mind? Do you think it can make us suicidal when no other factors are involved? Could this explain why some of us are poor drivers compared to others? Are we in danger of all being crazy cat ladies if infected?


Lightning Strikes

As a result of Tuesday’s class, I decided to look into something that brings about risk.  Being struck by lightning is a common fear that results in the delaying of sporting events, golf game delays, and even forest fires.  For some people, the idea of being struck by lightning is a truly daunting fear and involves an ample amount of risk, but upon furthers examination that should not be the case at all, at least in my opinion. 


According to an article by National Geographic, the chances of a single person being struck by lightning in the United Sates in any one year is 1 in 700,000.  This is a very low chance; however, the chance of getting struck by lightning in the United States in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000 which is a pretty substantial increase in chance.  With that sad, when examining the risk of getting struck by lightning you must look into the aspects of exposure and hazard.


When looking into the actual percentage of getting struck by lightning in your life time it works out to about 0.0003.  The average amount of people that die from being struck by lightning per year is 84.  This works out to a percentage that is quite frankly too small to even be mentioned.  When calculating the overall risk, I took the 0.0003 (exposure) and multiplied it by the very minuscule hazard number.  Let’s just say that the amount that was calculated has many, many zeroes in front of it.  This number with the many zeroes is the overall risk.


Through the examination of the article, I concluded two things: there is a very small risk of getting struck by lightning and dying and Americans have a poor understanding of what risk actually is.  Through my experiences, people seem to be more concerned about getting struck by lightning while in the shower than dying in a car crash which as we stated in class is a pretty high risk.  The idea of risk is something that is examined every day; however, the perceptions of it are often times far off.


Does money = success?

We always think that if you’ve made a lot of money in your lifetime that you are now magically a successful person and have achieved your life goals. Whenever you see someone with an outstanding amount of money they usually have nice cars, homes, vacations, jewelry etc. But the question I’m asking today is does money really equal success?    

      The USA is known to be a country full of material things and materialistic people. I know myself and I love getting a new pair of shoes or dress, I mean who wouldn’t? We all want to be rich and make lots of money, but many people who have a lot of money seem to think of themselves as “successful”. However, success is not based off of the check you receive each month, but rather the relationships your form and the feeling of satisfaction within yourself. The money you earn is simply an object or material, but what are important is the people you share it with. According to NASDAQ,  “In a new study commissioned by American Express, most survey respondents said you don’t need to have a lot of money to be successful. Instead, good health, good relationships and agood job were deemed by respondents to be more indicative of a successful “


      You need to step back, and realize that happiness and success aren’t about how much money you make but the experiences you make of them. “Research shows experiences provide more happiness than material goods in part because experiences are more likely to make us feel connected to others “Haven’t you ever noticed celebrities start off being extremely humble and kind and once the money gets to their heads (because they have too much of a good thing) it changes them completely. According to Business Insider, “This is the sad reality of the human experience: The more we’re exposed to something, the more its impact diminishes”. 



Does a college education bring hapiness?

            I was doing some research about college education, and came across an article that really came to my interest. I found an article that found a link between having a college education and happiness. It is said that people who are more happy are more likely to at least attain a bachelors degree.


            According to the dean of students in Grand Valley State University, a college education is a personal growth tool to open doors for many other positive experiences in life. It is said that having a college education improves the quality of your life. When the quality of your life is improved, it makes you happier and content. When you are happier and content, it translates into better relationships and being able to have fun easier.


            The median income for someone without and with a college degree is very different. Thus, many people seem to believe that money brings happiness. An individual with a bachelor’s degree earns almost $1000 more then one who doesn’t.


            On the contrary, there may be many other factors while getting a college education, that can hep an individual become happy. The stability of a college degree can also play a role when determining happiness.


As said by someone in the article, “People who don’t pursue a college education are at a competitive disadvantage. There is a higher need for more education for the skills to do work in this advanced economy”.


Overall College Education brings happiness because:

1.     Competitive Advantage

2.     Feel Sucessful

3.     Make more money

1.jpg4.     So many more reasons

Get Those Laptops Off Your Laps, Boys!

Laptop-cooling-pad.jpgFor years, my mother has been constantly telling me to separate my laptop from my stomach or lap via a pillow. She claims that the radiation could seriously affect my chances of conceiving a child when I am older. Of course, I have obliged to make her happy, but to be honest I’ve also continued to do it out of fear. However, I have learned that it is simply not true.

As stated on, the heat from a laptop cannot seriously affect the fertility of a woman. The heat is external, while a woman’s ovaries are internal. The distance between the two is too vast for their to be any serious connection or correlation between the two.

However, this does not particularly excuse males from resting their laptop on their lap or stomach. Since both the laptop’s heat and a male’s genitals are external, the chances of a laptop’s radiation affecting sperm production is much higher. The heat raises the temperature of the testicles which could negatively affect the production rate, or production at all, of sperm.

In a study published in Fertility and Sterility, researchers obtained 29 male’s semen and exposed it to Wi-Fi radiation for four hours. 1/4th of the semen was no longer swimming, in comparison to 14% of the semen (not exposed to Wi-Fi) that were also no longer swimming. The researcher came to the conclusion that laptop radiation does in fact affect a Male’s fertility.

For now, this hypothesis has been strongly supported & not condemned. So males, what do you think? Will laptop radiation eventually be found to not be a source of male infertility? If you’re more interested in learning about how laptop’s might affect fertility, click HERE.

Until then, if you plan on having children, try to keep those laptops of your laps!

How to stay warm!


                I am
extremely amazed by how quickly State College manages to get cold in the
winter. Just last week the weather was beautiful and warm. The weather was
almost like tanning weather and I did not need a jacket. Now, I am in desperate
need for my mom to send up my long winter jacket coat. I really do not want to
get sick this winter, so I began researching simple ways on how to stay warm in
the winter.
thing that is recommended is to drink warm drinks and foods. By doing this, it
is getting your blood circulation going. The article also explains that if you
take a warm bath before you go to bed, this will help you stay warmer the next
day. Not only that, but it will help put you to sleep faster. On the other
hand, you would never believe this but eating nuts can help. Since nets are
high in fat, the fat will help you regulate your body temperature.
article also talks about how cuddling will help keep you warm, sound stupid but
it has a scientific explanation/ From cuddling, you are getting extra body
heat, releasing a feel good hormone (oxytocin), and reducing stress. It is
known that when you reduce stress, you are also reducing your blood
                It is
very important to keep your exercise up in the winter, exercise releases
endorphins. Endorphins ar essential to keep you mood and maintain a healthy
body weight.  If you in cooperate spices
into your meals, this also helps get the blood circulating.


                In the
case that there is snow, it is important to cover most of your body. Bundle up,
make sure your toes are covered. The most important thing is to also make sure
most of your face is covered and your ears.


All of these tips will:


Help you stay warm


Keep you healthy


Keep you feeling good


Get the Blood circulation going


Hope this helps!

Birth order and Awesomeness

I’m a psychology major and recently learned that birth order has an affect on a child’s overall upbringing. After being fed only one Powerpoint slide-worth of information, I still wanted to know more. I’m the oldest child of two, and, in all honesty, I find myself to be much more cooperative and respectful than my younger sister. However, I always figured this was just due to her lack of maturity, and that with time, those gaps would fill out just as they did with me.

However, after researching a bit, I now understand! This website explains it all.

A couple’s first child becomes a “trial and error”. Couples have the tendency to be strict, assertive, and attentive to this child, being that it is their first. However, when having their second, parents tend to become more lenient and less reactive. This may seem like no big deal to them, and many may believe that since the first child turned out fine, the second will simply follow in those footsteps. However, that is clearly not the case. Firstborns normally take on characteristics such as cautiousness, control, and reliability. They tend to be a bit more driven due to their upbringing. Last born children, however, inherit different traits. They tend to be more manipulative, fun-loving, and attention-seeking. This describes my younger sister and I perfectly. I don’t think she is in anyway rebellious or disrespectful, but I am clearly the overly-cautious while she is clearly the free-spirit.

I continued to research this topic and found an informative video breaking down the roles of each child. 

I also found an article  on CBS news’s website that shows how birth order could potentially affect relationships. This is fascinating to me, but I cannot say I’m too surprised. The article and video go into detail of the best and worst “matches” as well as prime examples. Take a look!

My concern is, even if parents tend to be less restrictive, if a younger sibling has older siblings that can guide them, do the younger siblings still embody those traits? For example, I try to help my sister as much as possible in all aspects of her life. I motivate her to do well in school and sports, I make sure I’m available when she needs to talk, and I try to set good examples for her to follow and demonstrate her right from wrong. Although I am not actually her parent, would these guidelines and protective manners help avoid the negative characteristics that younger children are in a sense “prone” to? 


^^ My not-so-little sister & I 

The Curse of the Hiccups

“Just hold your breath!” “No let me scare them out of you!” “Drink water upside down!” “Stop eating so fast!”

For those of you who suffer from getting the hiccups a little more often than you would want, those sayings sound all too familiar. As someone who eats way too fast for anyone’s own good, it’s strange for me to go a day without getting those dreaded hiccups. Sometimes I’m lucky and they go away within a minute, other times, I try every single trick in the book and yet I still find myself helplessly convulsing and making those weird hiccup sounds. So why does our body put us through this torturing, annoying sensation? 
Since I am no hiccup expert or specialist, when it comes to what hiccups actually are this article says it best, “There are over 100 causes for hiccups, but the most common is irritation of the stomach or the oesophagus – the food tube that leads to it. The “hic” noise comes when the breath is cut off by the snapping shut of your glottis – which is like a fleshy lid or trapdoor that separates the food and air tubes in your throat.” There are a lot of technical terms in that description, but basically a hiccup is a disruption in our breathing process.
Eating or drinking at irregular pace is probably one of the most common ways to get hiccups, but have you ever heard of getting them from certain emotions or even a drastic change in temperature? According to another article, both of those things can be responsible for a person getting hiccups. How do we know this? That’s a great question that I couldn’t seem to find any good scientific evidence on. 
Probably one of the most scary things when getting the hiccups is if you’ll ever get rid of them. We all hear horror stories of people being stuck with hiccups for months, even years. One man, Charles Osborne, had hiccups for 68 years! Obviously this is a very rare case, but there are different levels of hiccups people can suffer from. The five groups they can be classified into are: common, persistent, acute, intractable and diabolic. It has been recommended that if you have the hiccups for more than 48 you should go to the doctors ASAP because they could be the cause of a more serious health issue. 
So that’s hiccups in a little bit more detail, but do you think there has ever been a purpose for them? Scientists have debated that in the past hiccups helped animals swallow large food. Do you have any reasons as to why hiccups come about? Do you have any special remedy that always helps you get rid of hiccups? If it were possible to test if hiccups help or hinder our bodies, how do you think we could go about that? To me, it seems like hiccups will forever be one of those annoying things that we just can’t seem to do anything about. 
Photo courtesy of
Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 2.59.04 PM.png

Take 3: The Last Blog Period

So you’ve made it to the final blog period. You can finally breathe that sigh of relief. If you’re happy with one of the grades you received in a previous blog period, the good news is that you don’t have to frantically post any last minute blogs (which you shouldn’t be doing anyway, but I understand it’s a stressful time). For those of you that haven’t gotten satisfactory blog grades, you have this entire period to change that. Many of you are concerned with posting more blogs, but that’s only a small portion of what makes up your grade. You also want to make your final shot at blogging good.

So how, during that final stretch, do you write an A-worthy blog?

Andrew has posted plenty of examples of well-written, well-thought blogs that you can model your posts after. But it’s also essential to look back at the comments you received alongside your previous blog grades. Maybe your comments say you need to cite more sources. Or that you need a question at the end of your post. Putting those suggestions into action can highly affect your grade.

You may also want to look at your previous blogs and compare them to the grading rubric on ANGEL. Go through each category and try to look at your posts objectively. Your strengths could lie in the quantity section of the rubric, but if you’re lacking in the content section of the rubric, your whole grade will suffer. Look at your blogs from a professor’s eyes: Does this show that I put time and effort into my research, that I care about the topic?

As always, feel free to ask me or Ethan questions. I’m happy to look at drafts (if sent well in advance before the blog period ends) and send you back some feedback.

Good luck, and happy blogging! 😀

The importance of sleep

Recently I took part in a 24 hour marathon for the video game club in which we play games in the HUB for 24 hours to raise money for charity. I personally did attend most of it, but I did not stay up the full 24 hours of the event and went to sleep for a few hours. Even though the event was for charity, staying up 24 hours without any sleep is not the best idea.

Staying up for 24 hours is not something that is easy to do, since fatigue and lack of energy start to set in when you are active and awake for so long. But sometimes we all stay up later then we should whether it be for an event such as the one I mentioned, or pulling an all nighter for the a big exam the next day or working on a project that is due the next day. But if you stay up for a 24 hour period and you are already a bad sleeper or you don’t get good nights of sleep, you are putting yourself and maybe even others at risk.
This article talks about how a mixture of lack of sleep and then staying up for a long period of time (such as 24 hours) without sleep can be produce a cocktail of trouble in a way. It talks about a certain study that looks at this sleep deprivation: “Staying up for 24 hours straight is bad enough, but the study shows that if you do that on top of having gotten less than six hours of sleep a night for two to three weeks, your reaction times and abilities are 10 times worse than they would have been just pulling an all-nighter” (Weise, 2010). So if you are a person who has trouble getting a good nights rest, staying up for 24 hours only makes your situation worse. 

This is a major problem if you work in specific fields of work that require you to be awake for long periods of time. Without sleep, work performance suffers and the person doing the work can not do it to the best of their ability or in worse case scenarios could be a danger to the people around them. In fact, the article also says that staying awake for 24 hours in a row for multiples days can impair a persons performance that is almost or just as bad as being under the influence of alcohol if you are driving.

So make sure to get some Z’s before you get yourself into some trouble.