Why Accessibility?

What even am I looking at? I owe my entire career to my son, and to Homer Simpson. I’m not even joking. My oldest son was born with a disability that causes his left eye to track about half a second slower than his right eye. If he reads too Read more…

Snow covered mountains at sunset

Winter Driving Tips

Winter Driving Tips Items to keep in your car at all times Blanket(s) First Aid Kit Emergency Jumper Cables Kitty Litter/Plywood/Improvised Traction Device Flares or Emergency Reflectors Brightly colored cloth or duct tape (Reflective) Phone Charger Before you drive… Make sure your tires are properly inflated. If they are underinflated, Read more…

A collage of my children.

The Importance of Co-Parenting

Today is my ex-husband’s birthday. Some people give me odd looks for remembering something like this. I actually have a great relationship with my ex-husband, Jerimiah and his wife, Elizabeth. When Elizabeth went into labor with their second child, I watched their oldest for them. Their oldest couldn’t pronounce ‘Laurie’ Read more…

A pitbull snuggling with some kittens

The Argument for Altruism in Natural Selection

An illustration of Charles Darwin in black and whiteCharles Darwin formed the theory of Natural Selection in 1859, and it has infuriated and confounded many people since then. The concept was fairly simple – under the compounding pressure of a dynamically growing population of a species, the increasing lack of the surrounding resources would inevitably end in the survival of the fittest. This phrase would inadvertently become rather misused as a mantra for people who found compassion and charity as ‘prolonging the inevitable’ and ‘carrying dead weight’. The man who assisted Darwin in the formation of Natural Selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, ultimately felt genuine dismay at the concept that people had so badly misunderstood their concept – Natural Selection was never intended to encourage ‘cutthroat competitive fitness’ (Shermer, 2009).

It is easy to understand where the confusion originates from. Darwin himself was quoted as saying that ‘Altruism between species would annihilate his theory of Natural Selection’ (Wyatt, 2013). The theory refers to fitness as it pertains to genetic evolution, such as the example of the Dairy Farmers (Wade, 2010), when Dr. Robert Boyd and Dr. Peter J. Richardson hypothesized that lactose intolerance was not just spontaneously adapted to by the European descendants of ancient dairy farmers. They believe that lactose intolerance was evolved out of the genome when the human bodies recognized the benefits of the added nutrition from drinking raw milk. How fast the concept went from ‘This milk will help you live longer’ to ‘If you wanted this milk, you should have been tougher than me’ is a disheartening thought. Especially since it took less than two decades for Wallace to publicly address the issue (Shermer, 2009).

If this is the case, if it really is this cutthroat, merciless, bleak, hopeless existence in nature, why are there so many examples of interspecies altruism? Is it that hard to grasp? If two killer whales can jump in and protect an injured seal from a pod of other attacking killer whales and secure his escape (Brethel-Haurwitz & Marsh, 2016), what does that say about the case for compassion?

If we look at the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, king of the dinosaurs, and look at how that species natural selected to survive through evolution, we have the animal that is the very epitome of cowardice – the chicken.

Masha, a stray cat in Russia, kept a 2 month old abandoned baby boy warm in freezing temperatures before being found. The baby survived.Interspecies altruism is so widely demonstrated on a daily basis, dogs saving abandoned human babies (“Dog protected abandoned newborn, doctors say”, 2008), or even a parrot alerting that a two-year-old was choking (Holland, 2014) that it provides much-needed levity to the stark contrast of modern problems.

It is not implied here that Altruism is simply a genetic trait. Altruism is not just a reaction or an evolutionary response. Altruism in itself is also a tool that helps lengthen lifespans and quality of life, and not just for the recipient. Mahatma Gandhi said “the best way to find yourself is by losing yourself in the service of others”, and there is research to back that up. Larry Dossey states that volunteerism has been documented to help ‘health and longevity’ (2009).

How does altruism fit into the concept? The ‘cross-effect’ of the mental health influences upon the physical health of the human body may be more detailed now than ever (Ohrnberger, Fichera, & Sutton, 2017), whether they be direct or indirect. Emotional and mental health, such as the emotional stimulation and bonding that happens between mother and child was also suggested as a contributing factor among older women (Helle, Lummaa, & Jokela, 2005), contradicting more conventional logic that younger reproduction was more beneficial to human females. In their study, Helle, Lummaa, & Jokela suggests that it is not how early a human female reproduced, but how late in life that they continued to reproduce contributed to the overall longevity in historically Sami women. This study utilized path analysis but did not include the offspring or maternal survival considerations, mostly focusing upon the lifespan of women who continued to bear children well past their 40’s or 50’s.

Ryukyu Lantern Festival on Okinawa Island, 2017.

Ryukyu Lantern Festival on Okinawa Island, 2017.

The island that contains the highest concentration of centenarian, Okinawa, has long been studied for their near legendary long life spans (Bendjilali, et al., 2014). The island was originally the Kingdom of the Ryukyus until 1879 when it was invaded by a rebel clan in Japan and forced to form an agreement for protection by the Tokugawa Shogunate, the ruling class of Japan at the time. This fact is important to this topic for multiple reasons. In the chaos of WWII, most historical documents surrounding the long ago Ryukyu citizens were destroyed or lost. The majority of the background came only from word of mouth and memories of the elders.

There are multiple factors that have been reported upon as causes for this longevity, but something that is not widely discussed is the moral and ethical focus of the island’s own religion. Even if it is not practiced by each individual, it is highly unlikely that any of the islands native inhabitants are unaffected by its teachings within their upbringing.

Nubi – a ceremony where the year’s first water drawn from Hedo in Kunigami is presented as an offering, was held in the afternoon of December 24 at Shuri Castle in Naha. (From Ryukyu Shimpo).

The Okinawan religion does not have an official name that it has taken upon itself – nor does it have a central command or head of the faith. It is locally known as Ryukyu and is lead by the matriarchs of the home. Each family becomes its own ‘church’ and each family has its own rituals. The High Priestess for each home is the eldest capable female in the multigenerational home. It is an amalgamation of different faiths and is almost shamanistic in its growth. The Anima of their faith is their ancestors and the family is the central unit upon which all actions are considered. The strong protect the weak, the young care for the old, and there is never any mention of any member of the family being of less value than others. This is not limited to their own family – the value system continues on into the rest of the community.

The presence of the polar opposite of cutthroat tactics and merciless self-preservation so deeply held among the people with the longest lifespan on the planet may just be an outlier of the spectrum of human biodiversity. Then again, it may be a rudimentary and unpolished example of replicable evidence that disproves a nearly 200-year old theory.


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Fan art for Avicii, DeadMau5 and the Chainsmokers

Auditory Adventures in ADHD

I don’t have my ducks in a row. I have squirrels and they are hosting a rave. My GPA, like my last car, is being held together with hopes, dreams, unicorn dust, and duct tape.

CGI dancing bears flailing their limbs on a digital dancefloor

A view inside my head at any given moment.

 

Hi! I’m Laurie and my brain is made out of spare parts! I say this a lot but in all honesty I happen to like my weird little brain. I was really frustrated with any form of education when I was younger, but I just had to figure out how to use it. It’s pretty awesome – it just took a little extra effort to figure out how to utilize it.

When I was in high school, anything that was a portable music player was not allowed in class and I consistently struggled with focus. I would either drift off into my thoughts during class or I would get so bored that I couldn’t make sense of what I was reading. I remember that sixth and seventh grade were particularly difficult for me. I felt that I must be dumb and that I had no business attending school or pursuing any further education.

I grew up in the 80’s, just as ADD/ADHD was beginning to be discussed and diagnosed.  Most everyone I knew wrote it off as just teachers wanting to be lazy and trying to medicate their students into submission. My dad told me that this was only for kids who were ill-behaved and that I was just a daydreamer, so there was no need to label me as a problem child. There was this massive stigma surrounding being diagnosed as someone with a learning disability, and having a child with a diagnosis like that was considered failing as a parent for many people.

The only commonly known treatment back then was Ritalin. Like other new forms of treatment, it had not ironed out all of the bugs. Meditation, mindfulness, dietary contributors… these were all either not widely known or considered to be hippie hooey.

I was a military kid and transferring schools multiple times didn’t help. Try telling a career-military,  Vietnam-War-Vet that you are having a hard time finishing things because you can’t focus. Failure was not an option. Picking up a new curriculum in every state we moved to was very confusing.  I really hope at some point the Department of Defense integrates an online school for the military kids so they aren’t constantly playing catch up and leapfrog academically. I dropped out of high school at sixteen and received my GED at 18.

I had toyed a bit with the concept of going to college but I never emerged successful. I had taken a handful of classes but as a young mom with young kids, priorities had to be chosen. My little kids quickly became big kids and before I knew it – I was looking UP at them and they no longer needed as much direction as they did when they were younger.

After a lot of encouragement from my kids –  I applied to Baker College in Muskegon. My stomach felt like it was hiding in my throat when they mentioned that I would have to take placement exams. I was positive that I was going to bomb. To counter this, I told myself that it didn’t matter. It wasn’t an exam, this was not a test, this did not matter – this was just something I needed to check off of my requirements to step forward. That was it. I could walk in and just spell ‘ABACADAB’ all the way down if I wanted to. When I convinced myself that I didn’t care, I was actually able to relax and I asked if I could listen to music while I was testing. The proctor had no problems with it and off I went.

My mentor called me personally a few weeks later to give me the results. In Math, I scored at the college algebra level – even though I never passed pre-algebra in high school. In English – I tested above the college level, and was placed straight into college-level English without any need for pre-college level classes. I need to thank DJ Snake and Skrillex for that. I actually won a small scholarship that I had no idea about until I went to pick up my books on campus and make sure everything was ready for me to start class. I remember while accepting the scholarship in the business office that they must have had the wrong girl. There was another Laurie Lamb out there and she was gonna be MIFFFFFFED.

Deadmau5 Fanart by Laurie Kamrowski-Lamb

While I was there, I met a classmate named Rachel who was going to major in Music Therapy. I had never heard about this before, but oh my goodness I am so glad that I asked.

Music Therapy is using music to help train your brain. You know how when you’re alone in your car, you have your music blasting and you just feel so energized? That’s the effect that the music is having on you. If other songs are playing, sometimes you have to turn the music down to be able to focus? According to the American Music Therapy Association, Music Therapy is “…the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals…”, (2018).  It’s quite literally ‘hacking’ your brain – and it is awesome. 

So, my classmate Rachel showed me this study – particularly the image of different MRI scans. The first MRI showed a normal brain. The second showed a non-medicated brain with ADHD. There were subtle but definite differences. The amygdala of ADHD children showed less functionality than those without the condition.

In the subsequent MRIs – children were scanned while listening to EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Classical, and even Heavy Metal. The amygdala in these scans more closely resembled the non-ADHD scans.

Avicii Logo Fanart by Laurie Kamrowski-Lamb

Before you laugh that off as half baked pseudo-science, take this into consideration: Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona senator that survived a point blank gunshot wound to the left temple that left her unable to speak – retrained her brain to speak through the use of Music Therapy. “She was able to sing a word before she could speak a word, and the damaged areas of her brain were circumvented through music,” says Concetta Tomaino, executive director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (as cited by Rodgers, 2018).

I have never been to a certified Music Therapist, but I do know that I have had much better grades and retention of the material that I am studying while listening to my personal favorite genre for studying – Dubstep. Also known as EDM or electronic dance music. The more obnoxious and loud, the better I am able to concentrate and push stray thoughts back out of my focus.

I know that both of my sons have been diagnosed with ADHD. I know that if I put a set of earbuds in their ears while they are working, not only are they able to focus and process what they are trying to do, but they are also less anxious and able to enjoy their work. It is so hard to watch my children struggle with it. They’re not being lazy. They’re not trying to dodge work. They’re honestly so frustrated that it makes them want to avoid the situation altogether so they don’t feel like they are failing. No kid deserves that. It’s not just unfair, it’s also going to alter their career possibilities as they get older.

Chainsmokers Logo Fanart by Laurie Kamrowski-Lamb

Now I’m at Mid and I still have my go to playlist ready. I have been listening to some of these songs for well over ten years, but they never cease to help me out. Got some other stuff I need to hear? Send me the link.

I know some people study better to Slayer than to Deadmau5, but that’s another playlist for another time.

 

Click here for my EDM Study Playlist on YouTube!

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Happy Father’s Day!!!

In honor of my dad, who I cannot name or show because he values his privacy and his military career, so I from here on will refer to lovingly as Captain CrankyPants McWindbag, I present a post in the spirit of what I truly believe is his greatest gift to Read more…

In the name of love

Pride Month!

It’s Pride month!!! WOOO! My Happy Stuff Its a time for everyone to not just celebrate freedom, family and love – it’s also a time to reflect upon the road that has led us here. What does this all mean? Is it okay for me to celebrate if I’m just Read more…