JUNE 2014

Reasons To Start Learning Chinese

by: Frank Middleton (reading – 5.5. - 11.5.)

1. Chinese, is one of the Sino-Tibetan languages, or more accurately it is a group of different dialects of which Mandarin (Putonghua) is one. Taken together there are more native speakers of Chinese than any other language. To put this in perspective there are approximately 915 million speakers of Mandarin (without including any of the other dialects such as Cantonese), compared to Spanish, the fourth most widely spoken language in the world with around 400 million speakers.

2. You don't have to learn Chinese characters to learn to speak Chinese. Pinyin is a method of writing Chinese in the roman alphabet. Hanyu pinyin spells the sound, and includes tone marks to help give the correct pronunciation.

3. Chinese literature. The dialects are not mutually intelligible but the written language is shared between them all. Although you do not need to learn to read Chinese characters to speak the language, by doing so you open the door to an enormously diverse and rich literature. In fact, the earliest record of writing was in Chinese characters although very different in form from modern characters (of which there are many thousand).

4. The Chinese economy is the fastest growing economy in the world, and so in the work environment even speaking a little Chinese will give you a competitive edge, if your company invests in China or is considering doing so.

5. Language and culture are linked and learning something of the Chinese language will help give an appreciation of the cultural heritage of China.

6. China is accessible to the foreign visitor in a way that it has not been in the past and travel to and within China is becoming easier, but to make the most of this opportunity for travel, language at a basic level is important. Mandarin is spoken throughout China.

7. China is becoming increasingly important in the world and may be the dominant economic power in the not so distant future.

8. Food. You can eat in tourist restaurants in hotels but if you want to see more of China it is much better to try food and experience the culture in local restaurants.

9. Like any other language, it is possible to learn a few words and phrases in Mandarin, enough to be polite without spending years in further education. Linguata would help.

About The Author

Frank Middleton is a freelance author and writes occasional articles for www.linguata.com a site with a practical realistic and fast approach to learning words and phrases in a foreign language, using a combination of sophisticated testing and simple games.



Right Brain Left Brain

by: Steve Gillman (reading – 12.5. - 18.5.)

The concept of "right brain left brain" refers to the two hemispheres of your brain. Some amazing experiments involving people who have had the corpus callosum cut taught us most of what we know about the differences between the two sides. The surgery is performed on epileptics to reduce the incidence of seizures, and it isolates most of the right hemisphere from the left hemisphere.

For a typical experiment, a divider allows a participant to see two objects - say, a cup with the right eye and a lemon with the left. When asked what they see, they'll say they see a cup, and nothing more, because most people process both language and information from the right eye with their left brain (left hemisphere). However, when they write down what they see, using their left hand, they'll write "a lemon," because both the left hand and eye are controlled by the right side of the brain.

Of course, you have only one brain, and the two hemispheres work together normally. These split-brain experiments show how distinct the two sides really are, though. When the corpus callosum is cut it's as if there really are two brains. What have we learned from these experiments then?

Left Brain

For more than 90% of right-handed people and 70% of left-handed people, the left hemisphere:

- Processes things more sequentially.

- It is more rational, logical, analytical, and objective.

- It looks at the parts.

- It handles normal speech.

If you want to stimulate and strengthen the thinking processes of your "left brain," talk about things as logically as you can. Also, picking apart an argument or something you read can exercise this part of the brain too. While there is little hard evidence as to the effects of specific exercises, talking or working on your analytical skills are safe things to do, so experiment freely.

Right Brain

Again, the following is true for most people. The right hemisphere:

- Handles thing in more random and subjective manner.

- Is responsible for "hunches" and other intuitive processes.

- Looks more at wholes, and is best at pattern-recognition.

If you want to exercise your "right brain," sing. Stutterers find that they don't stutter when they sing, because it is handled differently than regular speech. Writing or reciting free-form poetry and studying maps may help as well. Again, these are not proven by scientific studies yet, but there is no danger in experimenting in these areas.

Right Brain Left Brain Dominance

Most of us seem to favor one style or another of thinking, and this may be an indication of the dominance of one or the other hemisphere. For example, it seems likely that the choice between joining the debating team or the art class in school has something to do with which side is dominant. You have probably noticed that left-handed people, who presumably have a more developed right hemisphere, are more often artists.

If you want to be more "whole brained" in your approach to things, you can start by working on your weakest areas, using some of the tips above. Also, you can bring both sides into whatever you do. For example, metaphors, a right-hemisphere process, can be used in logical (left hemisphere) debate. Artistic work can include more analysis. Can this really help balance your thinking? Probably. Time and more research will tell. In the meantime, it can't hurt to more fully use your right brain and left brain.

About The Author

Steve Gillman has been studying brainpower and related topics for years. For more on How To Increase Brain Power, and to get the Brain Power Newsletter and other free gifts, visit: www.IncreaseBrainPower.com .



Ten Amazing Brain Facts

by: Steve Gillman (reading – 19.5. - 25.5.)

What part of you is only 1% to 3% of your body mass, yet uses 20% of all the oxygen you breathe? Your brain! Here are ten more brain facts.

- Your brain needs a continuous supply of oxygen. A 10 minute loss of oxygen will usually cause significant neural damage. Cold can lengthen this time, which is why cold-water drowning victims have been revived after as nuch as 40 minutes - without brain damage.

- Your brain uses a fifth of all your blood. It needs it to keep up with the heavy metabolic demands of its neurons. It needs not only the glucose that is delivered, but of course, the oxygen.

- Your brain feels no pain. There are no nerves that register pain within the brain itself. Because of this, neurosurgeons can probe the brain while a patient is conscious (what fun!). By doing this, they can use feedback from the patient to identify important regions, such as those used for speech, or visualization.

- The cerebellum is sometimes called the "little brain," and weighs about 150 grams (a little over five ounces). Found at the lower back side of your brain, you need your cerebellum to maintain posture, to walk, and to perform any coordinated movements. It may also play a role in your sense of smell.

- The human brain weighs an average of a little over three pounds, or 1.4 kilograms. Albert Einstein's brain may have been smaller than yours, because he was smaller than average. There is a general correlation between body size and the size of our brains.

- An elephant's brain is huge - about six times as large as a human brain. However, in relation to body size, humans have the largest brain of all the animals, averaging about 2% of body weight. A cat's brain? It weighs about one ounce, a little over 1% of body weight.

- There are about 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the brain. If they were stretched out (there's a nice thought!) they would circle the earth more than four times.

- If you have an average sized brain, you have about 100 billion neurons up there. You'll be happy about that after reading the next item.

- Approximately 85,000 neocortical neurons are lost each day in your brain. Fortunately, this goes unnoticed due to the built-in redundancies and the fact that even after three years this loss adds up to less than 1% of the total. Oh, and look at the next item.

- Recent research proves that your brain continues to produce new neurons throughout your life. It also proves that it does so in response to stimulation (do those brainpower exercises). Scientists refer to this as brain plasticity or neuro-plasticity. You may find this one the most encouraging of these brain facts.

About The Author

Copyright Steve Gillman. For more on How To Increase Brain Power, and to get the Brain Power Newsletter and other free gifts, visit: www.IncreaseBrainPower.com



Pasta Perfect

by: Lisa Paterson (reading – 26.5. - 1.6.)

When you go shopping it can be easy to be overwhelmed by the number of different pastas available. There is the all time favorite spaghetti but there are also rotelle, bavette, penne, linguine, fettuccine ... Well the list goes on.

Let’s take a look.

The long, thin pasta shapes like spaghetti, bavette and linguine are best used with light sauces, like thin bolognese and carbonara sauce. Use sauces that are based on cream, tomato or oil and without large chunky pieces. This allows the sauce stick to the pasta, and you don’t end with a big bowl of sauce at the end.

The long ribbon shaped pastas such as fettuccine, tagliatelle and pappardelle are suited best to the cream or butter based sauces. These sauces will cling to the pasta and yum.

When cooking chunky meat or vegetable sauces it is best to use pasta with hollows and grooves so that the sauce clings to the pasta. Try penne rigate, conchiglie (shells), fusilli (spirals) and macaroni for a hearty family meal.

And when it comes to soups use pasta about the same size as the other ingredients. Try ditali rigati in chunky meat or vegetable soups.

For salads you need pasta that will hold some of the dressing and vegetable. Our favorites are the ones with hollows such as conchiglie (shells), rotelle, fusilli (spirals) and farfalle (bows). Use the different colored pastas for a more colorful salad.

Of course the stuffed pasta like tortellini and ravioli are great with most sauces, just ensure the sauce complements the stuffing.

And well, lasagna sheets are used for lasagna or anything else that requires layers. As for cannelloni tubes, they are great for stuffing with cheese sauces, my favorite being ricotta and spinach.

Now that we have chosen our pasta, we need to ensure we store it correctly.

For dried pasta keep it sealed in a cool dry place and it should keep well for a couple of years. The egg varieties will not keep as long, so it is best to check the label. Fresh pasta, which is my favorite, on the other hand should be used within a few days.

Until our next cooking tip together.

Enjoy!

Lisa “The Crock Cook”

About The Author

Lisa along with husband Neil, loves cooking and shares their own Crock Pot Pasta Recipes (Yes, you can cook pasta in your crock pot) with you at www.a-crock-cook.com/crock-pot-pasta-recipes.html .