Blog of Sara Jakša

What Food To Eat?

There are a lot of polemics concerning food. Our choices of food are influenced from different sources. Our intermediate family, our friends, the media, schools, governmental institutions, advertisements, food industry, books and probably many more.

The whole food polemic is really hard to navigate for most people. And most of the arguments go into the really small details. How long after eating a meal can a person starts eating fruits? Drinking water with a meal or not?

In reality, the problem is much simpler. We could start listening to our own bodies.

It is similar to the exercise. For some of the people martial arts is the best sport ever. The others can’t stand the pain and concentration. For some people running comes easily, for some of us, it is a struggle.

That is also why some people prefer science subjects to study and others the humanities.

Also, I think the body is the main adviser of our diet. If you subtract something from a diet, and even after a week or two you still have crawling, than the body most probably needs this food. Or you are really addicted to it. It is different from a person to person, so you should know for yourself, which reason applies more.

But after a month or two, most of food addictions disappear. If after that a person have craving for a certain type of food, it is what the body needs.

I had heard way too many stories about vegans, that suddenly craved animal product, but were too ashamed to start eating them again.

I think in this case they would do the most for their body if they did. The whole point of healthy eating is to have more energy, getting more attuned to the body and live longer.

But the problems is not questioning what to eat. There are always going to be reasons for and against any type of eating. And the information will always be contradictory and incomplete.

So try a new diet and see the difference. If there is no difference, that your body probably doesn’t care. If you feel better, that you would probably help the body more to stick to it. And if feeling worse, you would probably do more harm than good with continuing it.

Start with one thing and test it for a month. Subtract or add something to your diet for a month. And no matter what anybody thinks if you body says no, simply stop. It is your body and your life. It is your responsibility only.

Should Everybody Become Vegan?

I recently posted the 7 day vegan challenge (link below). I tried to spreaded the world about the challenge for everybody that is interested.

But do I think, that everybody would be better, if we all become vegans?

I actually do not think we would be better of. We would have needed a massive amount of control.

Like brainwashing and hypnosis, since people are usually afraid of change. Or changing every single language is accordance to this ideal, and then we end up as in Orwell's book 1984.

None of this two ways are really depicts a society, where I want to life.

The world where I want to life, would be the world, where every person can make informed decision. The facts about the food would be ambiguous and there would be less contradictions. The informations would not get hidden or filtered through different points of view.

The people there could make a choice, based on their values. If they think, that eating meat does not goes against their values, that go and eat it. If it goes, then don’t eat it.

There is also a question of our bodies.

I do not believe, that each and every single person on the world needs the same kind of food. It is cited a lot of times, as why Chinese study is not 100% relevant to Europeans, Americans and Africans. Even a lot of Asian people can take them with the grant of salt.

But we have a fine tuned instrument, that have a way to tell us what kind of food to eat, if only we would listen to it. It is our own body.

There are interference from habits, mental associations and so on. But trying a way of eating for a month or simply learning how to filter responses, to concentrate only on what the body is telling are two ways to overpass that.

There are also economical reasons, but they could be overcome, if shifting takes decades. Or more likely, at least 2 generation.

So should everybody become vegan? No. If your priorities are not the ones, that would prefer eating vegan food, then do not eat it. If you body is telling you to eat that fish, nobody is stopping you.

But if nothing is stopping you, you could give it a try? It is not a choice, that you have to adhere to for the rest of your life. You can stop at any time you wish.

You can read about the challenge here.

The Lack Of Information

I had come across an interesting site. It only have two short quizzes, and it asks you to make a choice, then tells you what did you choose.

I have to say, the first thing that came to my mind, as I was reading the questions was, that there is a definite lack of information. I was a little confused, why did they want to make us choice with so little information.

But that I realized, that thing like that happens all the time. We make choices every day, and not having all information. Sometimes we have none, and sometimes we have contradicting informations.

Some of our choices are banal and not having all the information will not change anything. Like deciding, if today is the day for the white shirt, or will that light blue one be better.

Some of our choice are similar to the above one, when looked at the short term perspective, but looking long term, they become more important. The choice of what to have for a meal is like that. The choice of one meal will not affect much, but the choice of 1000 meals or 100.000 meals can be the decision between health and sickness.

With some of our choice the effect can be big, but there are not relying just on us. The voting for the next president or prime minister of your country is a choice like that. Even non voting is a choice. The choice that to you, it does not matter or not having a good choice.

Some of our choice can breach walls between life or death. The fireman, that are risking their life saving others are great example of that. Or surgeons, where one mistake can mean life or death.

Everyone can be put in the situation like that, where his decision can decide the life of himself or somebody else.

Some of our decision, we know that they are going to be long term. Marriage used to be a sure long term solution, but with the divorce rate rising, that is no longer the case.

We have to accept, that no matter what, we will never have perfect information for making our decisions. But that can not stop us. We have to still make decisions, no matter how large they seems to us.

Because in the scale of history, the decisions are really large. But looking on the scale of the universe, they are probably all unimportant.

But not unimportant to the people living there, so do what your intuition tells you it is right. Even if there is a lack of information to support it.

After all, the child in the first question could be Beethoven. But he could also be Jack the Ripper.

To try the quizzes yourself, go to the this site.

Kids Being Bullied For Humor

There was a BBC article title Bullied children using ‘wrong jokes'. It basically says, that kids, that use self-defeating jokes are more likely to become the victims of bullying. The self-defeating jokes are defined as ‘saying something funny about things that are wrong with me or mistakes that I make’.

There are objections that I have with that article.

They did not tell as if jokes were a symptom or an underlying cause. They discovered, that people making self-defeating jokes tend to be in a realm of the kids with self-esteem problems. But then, the cause could be, that people with self-esteem problems get to be bullied more, and the jokes are just a way notice, who has a lack of self-esteem.

The pack usually works, that they pick up on the weakest member. Either to drive him away or to make him stronger.

I don’t know if it is a culture thing, but people, that can laugh and make fun of their own mistake are usually a lot better accepted. Better than trying to pretend, that you are the best in the world, and ending up fake.

A lot of world renown public speakers use it, when something goes wrong on the stage. A lot of stand-up comedians can made their own routines base on only that.

Also, the article was written in a way, like the child makes himself a victim of a bullying. While it might be true, that appearance or behavior can trigger the bullying, the victim is not responsible for it. It is like saying, that the abandoned dog was responsible for the act of his owners - throwing him away.

But in reality, some people enjoy some activities more and some less. Just like some people could never abandon the animal, some people can not take care of it. The same with kids. There are always going to be kids, that will bully people, just like there are always going to be kids, that are not going to be bullying others.

Even if most of the kids are not the extremes on the upper scale, there are still differences between them.

So even if the bullied kid would not be there, somebody else will probably be bullied instead. Or saying differently, a person bullied in one environment does not mean, he is going to be bullied in a different environment.

You can read an article BBC article title Bullied children using ‘wrong jokes’ here.

7 Day Vegan Challenge

For his 40 birthday, Leo Babauta from the blog Zen Habits is giving us a gift. A seven day vegan challenge.

It is a challenge, to change the diet for a time of a single week. There is no need to sign, to do it, but you can add your name to the list as well.

The challenge only propose, to remove meat and meat products, seafood, dairy and products from dairy and eggs. There is no need, to check, if they use the bones to produce sugar or anything similar.

The challenge is not timed. It can start at any time and it finishes 7 days later. You can even get the email reminders.

I have been thinking of going vegan for some time. I am aware, that being a full time vegan can actually be a little constricting from time to time. I am a vegetarian, so I know. It mostly happens, when other people invite me to the restaurant. to eat. Sometimes I have troubles finding anything on the menu, that I would be able to eat. Then I actually have to like the thing. Vegan diet can be even more of a problem.

But I do not mind cooking and there a a lot of really easy recipes, with only a couple of ingredients, that can be quickly done. The vegetables has gotes such a nice taste. Comparing the taste of a carrot from my meat eating days and now, it is uncomparable.

It discounting the restaurants and other people expectation, I wasn’t a giving up anything at all.

But I want to go further. To see, if the positive effects of the vegetarian diet can be even more pronounced by starting with vegan diet.

Quite a lot of information was written on the challenge website, so you could just check it out, and decide then.

So try it. It is only for 7 days. After that, you can return to the previous eating habits.

I probably won’t. And I am probably going to enjoy every single minute of it.

Here is the challenge website.

Language Learning Techniques - Extensive reading

In the language learning process, having the power to read can boost the process of language learning by a lot. Since people are be able to read quicker than listen, the units of language processed in the time unit increase. If I remember correctly, the normal speaking speed is about 175 words per minute, and the average reading speed is 250 words per minute.

But some of you are like me, that have even better reading speed. Mine is moderate, with average reading speed at 400-500 words per minute range. Some of you are a lot better than that.

This is where extensive reading comes in place.

The extensive reading simply means, reading as much as possible. It usually does not involves rereading, but some people reread after a certain interval, in order to get encouragement, about how much better they had become.

When doing an extensive reading, I never look any words. I just read and try to get as much meaning as possible. It does not matter, if the texts is completely integrable and I don’t understand anything. The only time this would be a problem, is if a person would get discouraged, that they will never understand that.

I sometimes get discouraged by it, but then I usually remember, how much progress did I already made. I usually return to something, I had read a month or two ago and compare the ease back there, when I read it for the first time and now.

There are two ways to approach the extensive reading.

The first approach is doing the extensive reading in incrementing stepps. Starting with the simplest texts, a person can find. Like the picture books. As one level becomes easier, they the next one came. Like simplified novels, one at the time, than literature for children, than young adults novels, then newspaper and then the real literature. Depending on the language, newspaper might be easier than young adult novels, and there are also a lot of texts on the internet, that can be thrown to the mix.

The second approach is to start with native level material. In this case, the starting point is usually the book, that was already read in more understood language. Simply trying to read it and understand it from the contextual clues.

The second approach is only for really patient or really stubborn learner. This way can get most people discourage. I know it did get me discouraged from learning French.

I use the hybrid approach. I do not look at the level of the text, but if the text is too difficult, I will probably stop reading it and found something simpler. That does not mean, I go to simple text at every difficulty. I just don't read the texts, I can not understand anything from.

But sometimes, just for fun, I pick the random book and try to read it. Or one of the free newspapers, that are in every major city, I had visited so far. I just try to read anything that captures my eye. It is interesting, that some articles are completely understandable, and for some I can’t even get a gist of what they are talking about.

It is a technique, that helps mostly with the fluency of the reading, but the lower the level, the more it helps with the knowledge of the language as well.

Language Learning Techniques - Intensive Reading

The reading is one of the four main skills in the language. It is also the one, that can help the language learning the most.

Why do I think that? Because the reading is the quickes way to get input in the language, and the only way to produce a language, is if that was already heard or read as an input.

Intensive reading is the type, where the greatest advantage is the leaps of knowledge, that happens with it.

When reading intensively, I check every word, I am not completely sure of the meaning. I sometimes check the grammar rule, that was used in the sentence. Even more frequently, I try to deconstruct the rule from the sentence, and then note it down. If I am across the same structure in the text again, I can check my hypotheses.

I do vocabulary intensive reading every day. That means, where I only check the words, I am not sure about.

Only sometimes I do the grammar intensive reading. Checking the grammar of the sentence or seeing the rules, or looking for the structure, that I recently learned about.

Sometimes I do, what I like to call the style intensive reading, but is not really about the style. I just work through the text, noticing how the words are used together. Or if there is some phrase or sentence, that I think was really masterful written. Or some clever vocabulary.

All of the above are some form of intensive reading. As long as the text is processed with goals in connecting with the language itself, it can be called intensive reading.

I hear about the people, that go through the text, checking for everything at the same time. I find it too slow, so I tend to concentrate on the one aspect. Usually the aspect, that I think is stopping me from advancing.

For vocabulary intensive reading, I am using the program called Learning with Texts (link on the end). It is a program, that remembers the words, that are saved and I can use it to see how much of the language I understood. If the word is white, I had marked it as well known. If the word is dark read, than I marked it not understood. The blue means, I had not encountered it in the intensive reading yet.

What I did found out is, that intensive reading helps with the fluency only at the lower levels, and then the advantage of the fluency diminish. But in case of vocabulary study and grammar, it can be helpful even in my mother tongue. The vocabulary did increase in all 5 of my language with it. Also, sometimes I I used this one native texts in all the languages that I know on the regular basis. But I am doing it more, if it is the language I am concentrating on right now - and that right now is German.

Here you can get to the Learning with Texts webpage.

Language Learning Recommendation: Learning With Texts

The reading part of the language learning. For me, the one that carries the most insights and can bring us to the country, even if we do not live there.

The reading is always defined by the culture and the culture shapes the writing, and with that the reading material in, as a consequence the thinking process.

That is why reading in a foreign language can be such a rewording experience. It is like walking the shortcut into the collective mind of the people.

The program I find most useful in this journey is Learning with Texts.

Learning with texts is a program, that helps with the reading of the texts. By importing any electronic text, the reading is made much simpler, by color coding the knowledge of the words and by having a a dictionaries at hand. There is also a possibility, to build the dictionary by yourself, using all the different online dictionaries and then taking advantage of that with the pop up translations of the words.

The first step in using the program is installing it. The instructions for Windows and Mac are on their site. The gist is, that a computer have to have a local server with PHP and MySql installed. There are packages, that can install everything at the same time, but you will need to search the internet to find them.

After installing them, open a local host page in a browser. It is 'http://localhost/lwt/' or 'http://127.0.0.1/lwt'. It opens the index page of the program on the local server.

Go the the language areas, and input the languages, that you are studying. There are nice explanations on the LWT page.

The only thing left to do, is to go to the Text tab, and start importing texts and reading them.

There are two thing, that make this program indispensable to me.

The first thing are the dictionaries. The easy access to the online ones and the local one. It really helps, that if I already saw the word, I had saved the translation and now I can only hover on the words, that is giving me problems, and I will have that same translation. If I didn’t see the word before. It makes looking up the words so easy, that there is no excuse, not to do it. Or excuse, to not be able to read at the certain level, since the words look up is so easy, it normally doesn’t derail you.

The online dictionaries can also be changed in the language section. There is a place for up to two online dictionary and the third is always google translate.

The second point is color coding. The unknown words are colored red and then the colour is lighter and lighter, until the words in white are the well known words. The words not in the database are blue. Just by seeing, how much red and white is in the text, I know, how easy it is for me. I almost never see the colours in between, because by the time I partly remember the word, it quickly ascend to the well known words.

The keyboard shortcuts can save some time in certain circumstances, but I found out, that I am usually not using them.

I do use the statistics, to see how well am I progressing. To think, that a language, that I hadn't even started learning a year ago have over ten thousand know words is encouraging. I even know, that not all the words that I know are there, so that make it even better. I can also see, how much progression did I make in the last month, to see if I am falling behind in any language.

There is also a space repetition subprogram in there, but I am only using it, if I am bored and have nothing better to do. Like on a rainy day and with no internet. But it can be useful, for people that use this kind of thing. It is crude, but it takes into account the level, at which the words are. The more they are marked as known, the longer interval they have.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this program to anybody, that one day wants to read better in the language. Even if the only language is the mother tongue of the person.

Here is a link for Learning with Texts webpage.

Are Extraverted People Really Good In Sales?

I have come across new research from Adam Grant in the University in Pennsylvania. He wanted to explain, why the correlation between extraversion on sales success is almost zero. Meaning, why extraversion have no effect on the sales success.

It is interesting, because most people imagine a sales representative as a highly extraverted people. After all, people need to have the extraversion to start selling to others.

That does not mean, that introverted people are better off. According to Grant’s research, introverted people tend to be even worse off than extraverted people.

So how is left? Actually, the more person is extremely introverted or extremely extroverted, the worse off they are.

On the middle of them are ambiverts. They are the group, that are not even highly extraverted, neither highly introverted. The people in between. That can act in the both directions.

And these people are the best salesmen and saleswomen. The more people were ambiverts, the better seller they were and the more profit they brought to the company. They on average made 25% more sales than extraverts. The middle ambiverts, the ones really in the middle of extraverts and introverts made on average 66% more than highly extraverted people and 73% more than highly introverted people.

But what could be the reason for them to be so much better?

One reason could be, that introverted people aren’t really aggressive enough and only the people that really want to buy something will buy it. They are a lot less successful in convincing people. But they made the good listeners and they can be better in really making a costumer special and happy, making a better chance of them buying again. They can also use that ability to really sell, what the customer needs.

On the other hand, extraverts can be a little too aggressive, but they can make other people excited. They are good at explaining and they project more sincere picture to most people. But they are not really that good at listening and they can lose an opportunity, to make even better offer or figuring out, if a customer have any other problems.

Ambiverts do not lean on any of the above extremes. They can be encouraging and aggressive, when needed, but they can also sit back and just listen to the customer. They actually get the best of both worlds.

And I think that is why, his research proved, that ambriverts are the best sellers.

How Do We Recognize A Shortage Of Workers

In some industries, we hear it all the time. We need to let more of the foreigners in, because there is a shortage is workforce.

But what they are forgetting, that in a market based system, things life shortage show themselves in many different aspects.

If we start with only demand and supply theory. If the demand is getting bigger, and the supply is not changing, then the wages of the workers are going to go up. Because the wages went up, there are more people, that want to deliver a supply at that price. The end results is, that more people are employed and have higher wages.

On the long run, there are going to be people, that are willing to learn the skills, and we will have people, to fill in every position that is in demand. Because there is more people than before in the work market, the wages go down, but the number of people employed is higher.

The only recent information I could find was from Canada and for specifics jobs. In that definition, the shortage is shown in the next jobs: oil drilling supervisor, transportation supervisor, geologist, school counselor and metal-forming supervisor.

But these are percentages. That means, if the job market for that job is small, than even a small shortage will bring a bigger increase in salary, than if the job market is bigger.

That was a simple model. But we should not forget, that in reality, job markets are more complex. The salaries can change also based on the union organization, the salaries of the workers outside of the country, how easy is it to outsource, how many foreign worker can came or will come or how necessary some jobs are.

Unions can negotiate with either companies or government, depending on the country, about the salaries of the people involved. They usually want bigger salaries for their workers, even if that leads to bigger unemployment.

But the unions can sometimes work for bigger employment, even if the end result are smaller salaries.

If the salaries outside of the country are lower, than the company can keep the salaries of domestic workers, by importing some of the foreign ones, if they are ready to work for a smaller salary. Here the regulations about the foreign workers, made by the government play a big role. The harder it is, the less likely they will go this way.

Or they can simply move a part of their production or company in the different county. Using the workforce in the lower costing country can also keep the shortage of jobs to the minimum and with that the salaries do not increase.

For the last thing, if the job is not necessary, it is still possible, that the salaries can go up a lot, but only in the time of economic growth. In the recession, this jobs are one of the first to go.

But while past can be a good indicator of the future, changes, that nobody can predict can happen. That is why it is so hard for economist to predict anything right. So take analyses like that with just a tiny grain of salt.