Maximizing Mental Agility

One of the advantages of working for a Tier 1 public university in the U.S. is the access to excellent (and inexpensive) professional development opportunities. I’ve been attending seminars offered by the Human Dimensions of Organizations program at UT Austin[1]. I’m usually skeptical of any self-help seminars or talks but these are led by UT faculty from the Department of Cognitive Psychology and all material is backed by solid field-tested academic research[2].

Anyway, this post is mostly for my reference in transcribing and collating my handwritten[3] notes from the latest seminar I attended, Maximizing Mental Agility led by Dr. Art Markman. So this may be long but here goes:

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  1. I do four of the one-day seminars and I get a certificate. But even as stand-alone programs, they’re excellent. []
  2. As an aside, check out the Two Guys on Your Head podcast on our local NPR station led by one of the HDO professors; its a fun and educational seven-minutes every week. []
  3. Apparently handwritten notes are better for memory retention than ones taken on your laptop (I knew it!). Behaviorally, since you can’t write as fast as the presenter talks, you try to summarize in your head first and write next whereas on your laptop, you’re basically transcribing []

Never Forget a Face

While explaining why women tend to remember faces better than men, David Geary says: “Remembering details of personal experiences is important for monitoring and maneuvering relationships, including disrupting the social and romantic ties of other women who are competitors” [via]. No comment :)

Happy Birthday, Pat

I am very bad with remembering dates. A lot of people equate remembering dates to the how much a person means to them. I feel that’s BS and don’t even get me started with remembering things like first date anniversary, first time we held hands anniversary or the best one that happened to one of my friends ( i swear it didn’t happen to me) was “first time I wore this dress after we started dating” anniversary.. I mean c’mon.

But all that apart, one should remember dates of their family members (but I’ll give some leeway to the Kaurava family). Once I got a call from P at about 5 PM asking me how my day was etc which was a bit strange since brothers don’t ask each other how their day was. There is a whole chapter on things a brother can ask his brother in the brother relationship handbook. (I am kidding, don’t Google up “brother handbook”.) A sister can ask you that question but its not expected from a brother. I digress . So after a couple of minutes of small talk, P says “Sotya*, I called you because it’s my birthday today so please wish me.” Ever since, he gives me a call on his birthday so that I can wish him!!

*Sotya \so-tya\ noun : The word means nothing in particular. I guess the origin could be traced back to Mathya which stands for dumbass in marathi (slang). But the transition of Mathya to Sotya is unknown.

But since that day, I started doing few things to remember important dates. Let me also tell you that I subscribe to all these services at the same time just to be on the safer side.

  • BirthdayAlarm : This is an online service which sends email to your friends and they put in their birthday, anniversary date. The site then send you an email two days before the actual date.
  • iCal/Outlook integration : I get an exportable file of all the birthday’s which I import in iCal and then i can set up iCal to send automatic emails! I think the same can be done on Outlook.
  • Orkut/Facebook : I am currently active on only one Social networking site – Pownce (I have invites, let me know if you need one) but the coolest feature of orkut and facebook (which I hate) is the birthday reminder. I use this feature quite often.
  • Plaxo : I mainly use this site to backup my mobile phone contacts but recently I discovered that Plaxo also has a great feature to send you emails about your contact’s birthday or anniversary. Plaxo also has a great feature that’ll important this data to your Cell phone.

If you are like me, I highly recommend using a birthday reminder service not only for your friends but also for your professional well being. Your boss will love you for remembering his birthday but don’t try remembering his wife’s or daughter’s birthday. Results may vary!!

I almost forgot to tell you the reason for writing this post….

Its P’s Birthday today (18th Sept)..

Housecleaning Mess

Damn! I have done it yet again. In all my enthusiasm to cleanse my poor laptop, it totally missed me to take a backup of my bookmarks and I have lost my neatly organized, ordered according to the-way-I-like-to-read blog list. Though while I was “backing up” (another one of those damn verbizations) everything under the sun, I knew I was forgetting something. Anyways, if you do not see your name on my blogroll (on your right…my blog’s right, dumbo!) and have seen me frequenting your blog, please leave your *latest* blog URL in my comments section. Even if I don’t come to your way too often, this is a chance to fool me that I do. I have a memory of a goldfish. So drop in your blog URL if you consider it readable and if you see me around in the next few days, we can agree our opinions do coincide and we can take things from there.

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