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“It’s a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

orloj-1102369_960_720Time, of course, does not really change pace but our subjective experience of time does.

If time seems to be speeding up to you, it is because you are not getting as much done as you want to in the time that you have.

How you manage what you need to do determines whether time is your enemy or your friend.

The most powerful tool that I know of at OSU for managing your time is the academic coaching program available at the Academic Success Center in 102 Waldo Hall.

At no cost students may meet with an academic coach in order to organize tasks, priorities and schedule, then meet regularly to maintain progress.

Many time and task management systems are available on paper and online.

The Uncalendar from People Systems is a 53 week calendar book without pre-set dates so that you can start today with templates for recording objectives, tasks, priorities, resources, notes and much more.

I track my due dates and tasks on both a paper date book and online because entering twice forces me to double-check which catches errors.

Trello, my favorite online project-management application, works as a list-making tool with capabilities for check-lists, due dates, reminders, labeling, and sharing.

Cross-platform mobile apps include the richly featured MyLifeOrganized to the simpler Wanderlust and Any.do.

Important as it is to organize time and activity many people experience the frustration of consistently running up against deadlines; where does the time go?

Figuring out how you use your time is crucial to effective self-management and there are many time-use tracking applications, most of which are oriented toward business contexts but a 556656621_ba9e8c870f_zclever student could use any of these to produce an analysis of personal time and resource utilization.

Some cross-platform apps for desktop and mobile are Klok, RescueTime, ManicTime

For iOS there are Atracker, Eternity, Timely; Android users may look for Toggle, Yast and Timesheet.

Windows phone 8 supports ONTRACK, TimeSheet Tracker, and Time to Harvest.

Time trackers only work if you are consistent and honest with your time-logging, which if done for a month will give you the general patterns that allow for deliberate change; consciousness leads to control.

When you know what you need to do and how much time you have to do it, you may apply a powerful productivity technique called “Pomodoro.”

To use this technique you will need a simple timer with an alarm.

Here is how to apply Pomodoro:

1.Choose the task to be done

2. Set the timer to 25 minutes

3. Work on the task until the timer rings

4. Take a short 3 minute break

5. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 twice more

6. Take a 15 minute stretch break

7. Start back at 1

At the end of this you have worked 2.5 hours plus 24 minutes break time, so it all took 3 hours – repeat the process or move on to another task.

ancient-1246694_960_720Several mobile and desktop applications help apply Pomodoro technique to different situations; look carefully at apps before committing to one as some are multi-featured and some are just timers.

Do Pomodoro every day and your productivity will increase.

Anxiety and the speed of subjective time are related and you can gain time by worrying less about it.

A 2015 study, “Mindfulness Meditation and the Experience of Time,” shows that practicing mindfulness leads to an overall perception of lengthening time.

As the study’s main author Sylvie Droit-Volet explains;

“Mindfulness training has two major goals. The first is to access a deep state of calm. The second is to focus attention and awareness on what is happening in one’s own body and mind as it happens, that is, in the present moment. Mindfulness therefore changes the relationship with time by focusing individuals’ attention on the present moment.” (P.89).

If you have time to worry and feel anxious, then you have time to practice mindfulness and there are numerous opportunities to do so.

Community colleges, Universities, recreation centers, and community health organizations offer workshops, classes and sessions focused on mindfulness.

Spiritually-oriented organizations such as Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, Tibetan Meditation and others offer instruction.

Books and audio guides address mindfulness techniques.

The Great Courses offers The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being on video or audio along with other self-directed high-quality spiral-544400_960_720_trcourses.

Some educators have embraced mindfulness and meditation as teaching/learning strategies, generally called Contemplative Learning.

Oregon State University has a Contemplative Studies Program in which courses within the general curriculum are taught using mindfulness techniques.

You can take courses in writing, psychology, philosophy, religion, and natural resources management that use mindfulness techniques in the class.

These are not courses about mindfulness, rather they use mindfulness methods to teach academic subject matters.

In other words, you can practice mindfulness, learn a topic, and satisfy degree requirements all in one classNow that is an effective use of time.

All of the techniques mentioned above take some time to discover and do. Perhaps you feel that you simply don’t have time enough to bother.

Therein lies the puzzle, when you are running out of time it is a sign that it is time to compel yourself to walk.

“When in doubt, I find retracing my steps a wise place to begin.” J.K. Rowling, The Prisoner of Azkaban.

Image Acknowledgements

7192766626_0711b4248c_b.jpg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdbaskin/7192766626

556656621_ba9e8c870f_z.jpg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bogenfreund/556656621

spiral-544400_960_720.jpg
https://pixabay.com/en/spiral-words-thoughts-mindfulness-544400/

dangerous-software-1200_croppedImagine that you are working to meet a midnight paper submission deadline.

Suddenly your computer freezes. Reboots don’t help. The Engineering major down the hall can’t help. Midnight passes helpless. The next day the repair specialist tells you that a wicked virus trashed your machine and only a total reformatting of the hard drive will save it. It is expensive.

Even worse, all of your data including your paper, drafts, research and earlier works are just plain gone.

This heartbreak is a genuine possibility, but the odds against it can be radically shifted in your favor.

“OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year.”

To understand how we may ward ourselves against digital catastrophe at OSU I spoke with Lois Brooks, Vice-Provost of Information Services (IS), and Dave

lois_brooks

Lois Brooks


Nevin, Chief Information Security Officer for the Office of Information Security.

These guardians of our networked community had two salient calls to action for you: be aware and compute safely.

dave_nevin

Dave Nevin

 

Being aware means paying attention to the daily changes in our network ecosystem in order to take appropriate action.

For example, are you aware that this week OSU Information Services is recommending an Apple computer patch and device update in order to address new security risks to the Apple OS?

If you are not aware of this current threat, then you are not network secure, no matter what operating system you use.

“Criminal hackers seek to access your personal information (e.g. SSN) and sell sell it to high-end information identity thieves.”

Nevin is blunt about the risks to the inattentive; “OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year. The hostile attacks are from criminal organizations seeking personal information and intellectual property. OSU can prevail against this assault only if students, faculty and other members contribute by safeguarding their computers and devices against the hostile hackers.”

I was like; “Did I hear that right? 16 million attacks per day? Why would anyone even do that?”

The answer is that your Social Security number and other personal information is stored digitally at OSU which criminal hackers can immediately sell it to high-end information identity thieves.

Nevin observes; “It’s tough. We’re out-numbered. The people we’re fighting against to protect that information are smart, and have a lot of resources available to them. But we have smart people too, and we’re working together to do everything we can to prevent t1hat from happening.”

norse_map

NORSE Attack Map

To see a live display of network attacks around the globe, see the NORSE Hack Attack Map (do check this out because it is amazing!)

Brooks is OSU’s chief information officer and is ultimately responsible for the University’s information technology (IT) policy and budget.

She explained to me in detail the delicate balance between security, safety and privacy at the large scale of the university enterprise.

“All OSU members participate in a social compact with one another to ensure a secure community of trust and shared resources. It requires that every individual take personal responsibility to meet that overall aim.”

Do your part by keeping all of your devices fully patched using current anti-virus and anti-malware available to you for free from Information Services.

Sometimes safety goes beyond network hacks and enters the realm of physical threat.

Brooks and Nevin affirm that OSU cooperates with law enforcement to protect public safety.

osu_recommended_software

On occasion this involves accessing information from the accounts of individuals.

Brooks emphasizes how extraordinary such instances are; “Even though we need to be able to respond when there is a problem, we at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Ours is a culture of respect and I speak from experience to vouch for the integrity of our university leadership in upholding these values.

For you, dear reader, there follows from this balance of privacy and safety a principle based in the wisdom of discretion.

That is: do not use OSU network resources to post information that potentially puts you and others at risk.

Create your own balance of safety and privacy by keeping your machines full patched against hacking and by maintaining intellectually responsible content.

This is what it means on Overheard at OSU when someone posts; “Keep it classy Beavers.”

“We at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Here are two simple steps that you can take to do your part in upholding safety and respect at OSU.

Be Aware: Build your expertise about the OSU’s security ecosystem at “Be Aware!”

is.Oregon State.edu/accounts-support/be-aware

Free Software: Turn your computer and devices into a personal anti-hacking fortress by installing the free and essential software at:

“Anti-virus is a requirement while you are at the university as it is part of the Acceptable Use of University Computing Resources agreement.”

Nevin invites all OSU members to contact him about network security and privacy issues: Dave.Nevin@oregonstate.edu.

Brooks has an open door policy concerning all OSU IT matterantivirus-icon[2]s: Lois.Brooks@oregonstate.edu.

You can always write to me about anything.
drtech@oregonstate.edu

I promise to make sure that your comments get to the appropriate people and I will write you back.

Have a great start to Spring term, invest some time in your network awareness and safety and keep it classy, Beavers.

Resources

OSU Office of Information Security

OSU Antivirus Software

OSU Campus Civility and Inclusivity Campaign

 

Image Acknowledgements

dangerous-software.jpg
http://is.oregonstate.edu/office-information-security-created

Dave_nevin.jpg
https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-nevin-a9a9b2

lois_brooks.jpg
http://is.oregonstate.edu/adminserv

norse_map.png
http://map.norsecorp.com/#/

osu_recommended_software.png
http://oregonstate.edu/helpdocs/security-and-tuning/computer-viruses/antivirus

antivirus_icon.gif
http://oregonstate.edu/helpdocs/security-and-tuning/computer-viruses/antivirus

HIV_StructureSince it was identified in 1983, HIV has infected 78 million people world-wide.

Half of the people infected with HIV have died from AIDS.

For three decades researchers have been seeking effective treatment for AIDS and a vaccine to prevent HIV infection.

These objectives are high aims given the challenges that the HIV virus poses.

HIV is as sneaky a virus as it is deadly.

One of the infection strategies of the HIV virus is to establish hiding places in the body in which it may lay dormant ready to re-emerge as a persistent infection.

Since HIV attacks the immune system, disabling the body’s defenses, infected cells do not produce HIV antigens making them indistinguishable from uninfected cells.HIV_Epidem

These research and medical challenges are well described in an article by Genevieve Martin, Hidden Menace.

Yet, in 2015 there appear to be several breakthroughs that some scientists characterize as a “renaissance in HIV vaccine research and development.”

Treatments have improved to the level that many with HIV may live decades without developing AIDS.

Medical trials have demonstrated individuals who test negative for HIV after5425951169_1a17b23c46_o experimental treatments.

Researchers have reached a level of collective understanding about HIV that a vaccine is a practical objective.

The best article that I have read about these recent advances is Defeating the Virus by Wayne C. Koff.

As knowledge in science and medicine grows it is critical that intelligence people generally stay informed.

Death may come to all, but you and I may soon live in a world where HIV/AIDS is not the deadly cause that it has been for so long.

Image Acknowledgements

HIV_Structure.jpg
http://www.biocab.org/HIV_Structure.jpg

5425951169_1a17b23c46_o.jpg
https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5051/5425951169_1a17b23c46_o.jpg

HIV_Epidem.jpg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/HIV_Epidem.png

I am deeply troubled by the recent tragedy in Roseburg and recent atrocities in Yemen and Afghanistan, so I want to share with you ways that I have been exploring for responding to horror without becoming numb to its significance.

I am learning to implement a technology by which you too may sustain yourself while also acting effectively in a tragic world.

First consider how we commonly respond to news of a horrible event.

When I heard of Thursday’s Umpqua massacre I felt a cold weakness in the middle of my chest.

Shortly after I stood before a class of first-year students, some of whom I knew were from Roseburg, all of whom reminded me of the dear people we had just lost.

It seemed apparent to me that they did not yet know what had just happened and I struggled with a sense of unreality as I reached for something meaningful to say.

After that class I wept.

Perhaps you also have physical reactions to awful news.

Next I did what many parents do when we hear of a disaster; call our children just to make sure they are ok.

Then come a series of predicable messages from predictable sources.

People start sharing rumors and reports as if possessing the latest bit of information can impact the gravity of the incident.

Leaders hold press conferences and send email denouncing and consoling.

Some people immediately seize the shock of the moment to advance or defend their political and personal agendas, often in ways that increase the harm.

Then comes a barrage of angry and speculative verbiage about who to blame.

Experts weigh in with analyses, statistics and opinions.

That evening people with gather with candles, put personal items at the site of the harm and set up memorial scholarships, every detail shared by constant repetition through many media.

Then we go on about our business in wait for the next appalling event.

In our present age all of this reaction happens with blinding speed and tends to race past the reality of the moment, as if the attendant information and spectacle is more significant than the event itself.

This set of reactions may be called a “viral cycle” because the activity builds on itself and has a predictable path as social phenomena.cue_routine_reward.fw

Do you recognize the parts of this viral cycle and most important, your roles in it? Do you have characteristic reactions to news of a horrible occurrence?

If you do, and I think that we all do, then there is a habitual pattern in you that guides your reactions automatically.

What concerns me about these habitual patterns is that they typically leave us individually and collectively in a negative mental state and with a sense of impotence about effecting any change for the better.

When there is nothing that we can do about suffering except feel bad, it is natural to seek emotional distance and I suspect that much of transpires in the social viral cycle are various ways of gaining that distance.

Yet we really can do something to make things better in the face of horror and it starts with our remarkable ability to modify our own habits.

There are techniques – a technology – for changing our own habits. By using those techniques we can teach ourselves to react with care and kindness in the face of horror.

This capability matters because increasing care and kindness in the world is the effective means to preventing future tragedies and because acting with care and kindness sustains your self when the worst happens.

Here is how you may modify your gut reactions to tragedy (and any other habits that you want to change).

Learn the technique of habit modification such as that developed in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (2014) by Charles Duhigg. the_power_of_habit

In Duhigg’s analysis every habit consists of a cognitive/behavioral loop in which a cue triggers a routine which elicits a reward.

Think of the cue as an event that happens to us, the routine as a behavior pattern that we perform in response to the cue, and the reward as a perception that the routine was successful.

Habits are self-reinforcing and habit change is most effective when we associate the cue and reward with a different routine.

When we learn of a horrific event it is a cue that triggers routines (such as those listed above) which reward us by reducing negative feelings.

Following this analysis of habits, the effective means to changing your reactions to shocking events is to associate the cue (horrible events) and the reward (feeling less badly) with a new routine (patterns of action).

A routine that is relevant to the cue of horrible events is to increase your feelings of care and expressions of kindness

I am serious that expressing kindness from a feeling of care provides an effective counter to shock and frustration

Treating others with kindness from care through words and actions will change how you feel.

I’ll not suggest how to be caringly kind because in order to effect personal change those feelings and behaviors must be uniquely yours.

I will show how to develop those feelings and behaviors for yourself.

Step 1: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for yourself and turn them into a habit.

You already know how to be mean to yourself and maybe have a strong inner critic.

Now add to that self-judgment an inner advocate that throughout the day acknowledges positively you for simple accomplishments and voices value for you as a person.

In second week scan the news for a horrific tragedy, it won’t take long, and when you find it make yourself aware that the fact that you care about it is reason enough to be kind to yourself (just some inner kind words are enough).

Step 2: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for others.

People are all round you so opportunities for care and kindness abound.

Start with people whom you know and tell them what you value about them, then expand into kindness to strangers.

Repeat the news-scan activity in step 1, this time responding to tragedy by increasing your caring kindness to others.

Step 3: Every day for two weeks practice caring kindness for people whom you dislike or who irritate you.

Caring for enemies may be as simple as wishing them well in your mind instead of wishing them harm; i.e. that they suffer the same as they cause.

Replace signals of irritation (scowls, gestures and words) with quiet patience until you are practiced enough to muster a smile.

Repeat the news-scan activity in steps 1 and 2, this time responding to the tragedy by increasing your caring kindness to people who irritate you.

Now put the three steps together so that you perform all of them at least once per day and please note that in order to work you need to make this a practice in action, not merely a thought.

I base this formula upon the psycho-spiritual technologies developed and taught by Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Śāntideva, King and Gandhi among other luminaries.

I believe that using the technology of habit modification to transform your feelings of hurt and frustration into actionable change will benefit you because the resulting patterns of behavior make you more effective and positive in dealing with tragedy.

I also believe that this practice will contribute to preventing some horrific events because as the practice of care and kindness grows – by you joining it – the people who potentially cause harm will encounter care and kindness.

The killers at Umpqua, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Northern Illinois and so many others expressed their perceptions of social isolation as a partial motive for the horror they inflicted.meditation-651411_640

If a potential killer experiences even momentary kindness from strangers, their path of destruction may be altered.

We have the technology to change ourselves, our actions and the people around us.

You and I are not helpless in the face of horror and tragedy as long as we have the will to become the change that we want to see in the world.

 

Oregon State University Support Resources

OSU has resources for students, staff, and faculty for addressing grief and stress.  The centers of these resources is:

CAPS
http://counseling.oregonstate.edu

Student Health Services
http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu

 

Image Sources

Sépulcre_Arc-en-Barrois_111008_12
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadness#/media/File:S%C3%A9pulcre_Arc-en-Barrois_111008_12.jpg

cue_routine.reward.png
jon dorbolo

the_power_of_habit.jpg
http://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/

meditation-651411_640
https://pixabay.com/en/meditation-compassion-presence-love-651411/

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the following individuals who contributed to this essay.

– Jennifer Knaus

Social Media, Ebola and the Flu

HealthMap-300x189Infectious disease is a social phenomenon because it is transmitted among people.

Now we can use information transmitted among people via social media to track, contain, and prevent disease.

A key part of our public health system is surveillance which is the collection and interpretation of health-related data in order to plan, implement, and evaluate public health practices.

You can become part of the health surveillance system and doing so may help you avoid infectious disease.

The resources referred to in this article with annotations and more are available at Dr. Tech’s Bookmarks.

Crowdsourcing is the use of social media to produce resources from contributions from self-selected members of a population.

An amazing instance of crowdsourcing health information is HeathMap, http://healthmap.org, which openly tracked the 2014 outbreak of a ‘mystery hemorrhagic fever’ more than a week before any official announcement of an outbreak.

HealthMap works by aggregating data about disease incidences from its members.

Anyone can join HealthMap and contribute information to it.

Enter a report illness symptoms and HeathMap will plot that data in time and space and correlate it with other reports.

A similar project from the same group at Boston Children’s Hospital is Flu Near You, http://flunearyou.org, which collects and displays incidences of influenza.

Both HealthMap and Flu Near You apps are available at no cost for iOS on App Store and Android on Google play.

Another technological approach to disease surveillance is Google Flu Trends which analyzes search terms such as “flu,” “cough” and “Mucinex” in order to track the spread of influenza, google.org/flutrends.

So how does Dr. Tech know so much about infectious disease?

I don’t.

Instead I  visited Dr. Jeff Bethel, Assistant Professor of the OSU School of Public Health.

He has a Doctorate in Epidemiology (2005 UC Davis), worked for the Center for Disease Control and teaches graduate courses in epidemiology.

Jeff and I talked about what people typically believe and know about Ebola,Ebola_virus_virion influenza and other infectious diseases.

There is a lot of misinformation about infectious diseases.

While talk radio and other anxiety-based media raise alarms about an Ebola pandemic in the United States, Jeff says this is unlikely because the US health system is prepared to contain it.

Ebola is not a respiratory disease; it is contracted through direct contact and bodily fluids, not through the air.

The chances of Ebola mutating to become airborne are very, very small.

As Jeff observed; “It would take a significant amount of mutations to become airborne. We never have seen a virus that is transmitted through direct contact and bodily fluids like Ebola is, then switching to become airborne.”

Jeff said that the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS ) “is our most recent frame of reference for global pandemics and viruses like SARS have the potential to do some harm in the United States because respiratory diseases spread more quickly than Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers.”

Put in perspective, the 2003 SARS pandemic resulted in 8,273 cases world-wide, 775 of whom died from the infection.

170px-H1N1_influenza_virusCompare that to the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic in which 50 million people died world-wide.

Reviewing such histories underscores the importance of public health and the contributions of information technology to it.

Crowdsourcing technologies such as HeathMap and Flu Near You are changing the way that our species responds to disease.

Equally important is the quality of the information sources that we use to guide public health policy.

I asked Jeff what are the top 5 sources of information about infectious disease for OSU students; he answered;

1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the best source of information on public health, hands-down, http://cdc.gov.

2. World Health Organization (WHO) for global perspectives, http://who.int/en.

3. State Public Health Se such as Oregon Health Authority, http://public.health.oregon.gov.

4. County health agencies such as Benton County Health Serviceshttp://www.co.benton.or.us/health.

OSU Student Health Services – http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu.

Jeff reminds us that the most powerful technology for staying healthy is your own brain; make the choices that keep you healthy from infectious disease.

1. Get a flu vaccination every year; it is never too late to get your flu shot.

2. Use effective hand hygiene; wash your hands frequently and keep your fingers (pencils, etc.) out of your eyes, nose, and mouth.

3. Practice safe sex, which is all about direct contact and body fluids.

I hope that you will join me in using Flu Near You regularly.

It will be fascinating to see how our campus community may respond to the flu season when informed by our collective reporting.

Dr. Tech says, get the Flu Near You app, share the sites on Facebook and stay healthy.

Image Sources

http://vectorblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/HealthMap.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus_disease#mediaviewer/File:Ebola_virus_virion.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swine_influenza#mediaviewer/File:H1N1_influenza_virus.jpg

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