bLog: 0000001

Hello blogosphere. I have returned.

I assure you that my recent hiatus was justified; however, based on my “retrospections” over the past day, it was easily avoidable. Let me explain.

To date, my blog has covered a number of themes including politics, poetry, parenting and my personal pontifications on the Baha’i Faith. But this approach to blogging, i.e., waiting to be inspired by some creative muse, has developed into a stumbling block. For instance, over the past two months I’ve been immersed in the psychological literature, preparing for my honours year beginning this September. I’m sure you can understand how difficult it is to mobilize cognitive resources for creative writing while your mind is slowly being devoured by scientific literature! (If you don’t understand, just read this Article and then write a 500 word creative piece on happiness).

I was just having a creative slump, that’s all. I can’t blog if I’m not feeling creative…but that’s where you’re wrong, EMAD!

The Wikipedia entry for “Personal Blog” is as follows:

The personal blog, an ongoing diary or commentary by an individual, is the traditional, most common blog. Personal bloggers usually take pride in their blog posts, even if their blog is never read. Blogs often become more than a way to just communicate; they become a way to reflect on life, or works of art. Blogging can have a sentimental quality.

My blog is obviously a personal blog, yet all this time I’ve been treating it like a “genre” blog. It’s time to get personal, it’s time to start bLogging. That’s right, bLogging. I need to be less concerned with impressing the reader and more concerned with reflecting on my day-to-day life. In hindsight, I should have spent the last two months reflecting on the progress of my honours thesis and discussing the joys and difficulties of engaging in scientific exploration.

I thank my brother for nudging me back into the blogosphere. Thanks Husayn (don’t be jealous Samira).

So let’s begin.

Honours bLog: 0000001

What’s the difference between imagination and remembering? When I remember an event from my personal past and then think of myself doing the same thing in the future, am I using different cognitive processes or am I simply stamping an existing memory with a new temporal label (e.g. past, present, future). What is qualitatively different about memories from my personal past and imagining novel events in my personal future? What happens cognitively when I move further away from the present in both temporal directions?

Questions like these are at the forefront of cognitive psychology research, and, thanks to my gracious and ever-patient supervisor, I too have entered the front lines to face the enigmatic battalions of Chronesthesia, or “Mental Time Travel.”

The general aim is this: To isolate the similarities and differences between Episodic Memory (EM) and Episodic Future Thinking (EFT). Of course, I haven’t come up with a specific question yet. But I’m working on it.

Progress has been steady to say the least. The first few weeks involved trying to wrap my brain around the various concepts and theories…

Then I hit the crossroads of ambiguity and clarity! Actually, my supervisor sent me this email:

When you are doing literature research, you need to be a detective and find the often hidden information you need to find answers. If you are investigating a question that hasn’t been directly addressed before, then the answers to your questions will not be nicely, neatly, obviously presented to you. You have to hunt and dig for relevant info and you have to stick to your questions (e.g., imagine you were hired to answer the question “are there differences in the amount of time it takes to generate an EM compared to an EFT?”). Try not to get sidetracked. If you do it this way. You will be more efficient and it will take less time.

I was so overwhelmed with the refreshing breezes of “focus” that I decided to…photoshop.

Building an Honours project is a process fraught with crests and troughs, but the opportunities for learning are endless. For example, I’ve learned not to let myself drown in the ocean of research literature; rather, it’s important to surface once in a while to check your bearings, i.e., to remind yourself as to the purpose of your quest. I’ve also learned that tables display patterns that explode in your face:

Lastly, while writing a thesis it’s always a good idea to waste time by redecorating your desktop. I’ve gone for the LCARS Operating system look, which was developed by the United Federation of Planets (a.k.a. the Star Trek production team). Pretty much everything on my desktop is functional (i.e., weather, clock, computer information, rss feeds, and picture feed), which means that I’m pretty much the hottest nerd in town. I know you want me 😉

End bLog.

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