[390/441] Morning writing

Last night, I read an interesting blog post by Lidiya, whose blog I read on occasion.  How can writing for 10 minutes each morning change your life?  Well, although it has not been a part of my morning routine as is, this may become something that I try to adjust with my morning routine.

Continue reading

[M.M.X.I.V. 98] Magnitude of emotions

Sometimes, my blog posts can be motivated by comments that I leave on other blogs, and this is an example.

Yesterday, on Alienora’s blog, she posted about her favourite comment so far of all comments posted on her blog.  It was by an anonymous poster, interestingly, which led me to the question:

Which gives a larger magnitude of emotion?  To the positive: an uplifting ANONYMOUS comment like that? OR: to the negative: a purely negative, ad-hominem comment?

That is really an interesting question that I have posed, and I am not the best person to answer it, frankly!  Research has suggested that there are six basic emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust.  Some people may have spectra of each of these emotions that can combine to create more complex emotions.  But, not only do I tend to be largely unaware of my emotional state, I also consider my emotional spectra rather to be discrete lists.

I have a feeling that my relative unawareness of emotion is a part of my Asperger syndrome.  Although I have improved my awareness over the last few years due to emotional events like Birthright, the death of a grandmother, or emotional investment in radio shows, it is still something with which I cannot fully comprehend.

I think that each person has a different “neutral” (i.e. baseline) emotional state.  For me, it would probably be moderate to high happiness, low sadness, low anger, low to moderate surprise, moderate fear, and low or no disgust.

CAUTION: Mild mathematical argument ahead!

Any stimulus that “perturbs” the neutral emotional state from this equilibrium moves the sliders on the dials for each of the basic emotions.  In whatever direction this changes the emotions (to a personally-positive or personally-negative direction), the overall “magnitude” of the change (e.g. the “distance” as the crow flies from the equilibrium state) may be different for each stimulus.


I have not had any “Anonymous” comments on my blog, although for many intents and purposes, since I don’t know many of the bloggers that I follow in person, they are essentially anonymous to me.  Most of the comments on my blog have been positive, so that I have never really had a strong reaction to comments on my blog.  This is based off the fact that since I think that I am difficult to provoke, positive comments do not change my emotional state that heavily.

One case when an “anonymous” negative comment created a large magnitude of perturbation in my emotional state happened a few months ago.  On a message board, I had mentioned on a pre-game thread for the Iowa/Northwestern men’s basketball game that I would be unable to attend the game due to leading services that day.  One of the comments was basically a religious persecution, and although I did not defend myself, the other posters who know me in person rebuked this comment.  My reading of this comment created a large perturbation in my emotional state, because I do not take well to personal attacks.  I think that changes in my anger or disgust tend to have a larger effect in the magnitude of my emotional change than changes in happiness, sadness, surprise, or fear.

Readers: what are your emotional spectra and baseline emotions like?

P.S. Thank you, Ali, for your post that inspired this idea from me!


Today is the ninety-eighth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes fourteen weeks.

[M.M.X.I.V. 92] Prep coaches

When reading the Chicago Tribune on Monday, one of the articles by Dawn Turner Trice stuck out to me.  It was the story of Jim Maley, a basketball coach at Kenwood High School in Chicago, who was recently relieved of his coaching duties.

=====Article summary=====

After basketball seasons with 15-13 and 15-12 records, Maley was dismissed as basketball coach, although he continues to be a teacher at the school.  Maley emphasized grades and academic success for his students, even if it potentially came at the cost of picking up more “L”s on the basketball court.  He had more stringent GPA requirements of his players than the general requirements of Chicago Public Schools.

In addition, he used basketball as a method to motivate the students to achieve more, as well as to be on their best behavior.  As Maley coached, there was a significant improvement in the players’ grades and academic achievement.  Players would also be suspended for off-the-court troubles besides grades.  One of these players that was suspended for an altercation reflected, “…I knew the coach wasn’t just looking at this from a basketball standpoint.  He cared about where we would land afterward.”


Of course, the article probably does not tell the whole story of why Maley is no longer the basketball coach at Kenwood.  But, if I take the article at face value, it definitely shows a troubling trend of decisions being made primarily on a win-loss record on the court.

Especially at the youth and high school levels, coaches have bigger fish to fry than winning games.  Playing well as teammates is a transferable skill that encompasses much more than just a sports team–people rarely work alone in the “real world.”  Being an athlete means learning how to juggle time–in addition to practices and games, they are student-athletes, with the emphasis on “student.”

As mentioned in the article, there is a minimum grade point average for the student-athlete to even be eligible to play.  I feel, especially at the prep level, one of the coach’s responsibilities is to encourage the student-athletes on their academic work, particularly if it is challenging to the student.  Playing a sport is a privilege, and should be earnt based on success in the classroom.  As the NCAA commercials say, “Almost all student-athletes will be going pro in something other than sports.”

Yet, even at the prep levels, winning is king in the eyes of the coach’s superiors.  It is a sad commentary on the priorities of lessons of sports, as I mentioned above.  Winning does not necessarily promote character, academic success, or life lessons.

In fact, sometimes I think that losing builds more character than winning–it teaches humility, resilience, and learning from mistakes.  And it is better to learn from mistakes made in a safe environment!


Today is the ninety-second day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes thirteen weeks and one day.