How to get a Better Nights’ Sleep!

Do you suffer from insomnia? Have a hard time falling asleep? Have a hard time staying asleep? Do you toss and turn for hours, counting how much sleep you will get if you fall asleep “right now?” I use to be just like you, but not anymore. Sleep is something we all require. Like food, water, and air, it is essential to our survival. Although the scientific reasons for why we need sleep are still being investigated, we do know that without adequate sleep, humans can suffer from poor quality of life, as well as physical and mental disorders. Certain things do make sleeping (rather falling or staying), easier, and insomnia is something that can be managed, usually without the use of medication.

Insomnia is a common problem. You are not alone. It is especially prevalent in individuals who range in age from 18-25… college years. This is such a common age for individuals with insomnia because of the added stress of college, moving away from home, school work, and homesickness. But, do not worry, I have some suggestions for how you can achieve a full nights’ sleep, without taking any drugs.

Sleep comes in stages. We all know that falling asleep is easy when you are relaxed and in a peaceful state of mind. That’s the first step in falling asleep. Relax. Do not think about stressful things. Learning to mediate before bed may be helpful in this, especially if you are a college student and stressed about school work. Stage one of sleep is very light; you may have experienced this stage while slowly passing out on your living room couch. You are essentially still aware of what is going on around you.

Stage two of sleep is a little deeper, it is associated with the loss of awareness. Stage three of sleep is deeper still, and stage four  is the deepest sleep of all. Most people go through a sleep cycle; stage one-to stage two-to stage three-to stage four, back to stage one, that lasts about ninety minutes. As a person moves from stage four to stage one they enter REM sleep. REM sleep is characterized by dreams, and, scientifically, by the loss of muscle control, and rapid eye movement (REM). REM is also known as paradoxical sleep because of the bodies and brains increased activity, while muscle activity is pretty much non-existent. In order to achieve a full night’s rest, one must enter all of these stages for a period of time throughout the night.

If one suffers from insomnia, a quality night’s sleep sounds like heaven; I know. Let’s talk about some tips to get you there.

First and foremost: DICTH THE TV! If you have a hard time sleeping at night, it may be your TV keeping you awake. Turn it off. Even better, take it out of your bedroom. Read a book. A real book. Do not get on social media, do not get on your phone, do not read a book from your phone. Read a real book.

Second: BE CONSISTENT! Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day; even on the weekends. Try not to disrupt your circadian rhythm; stay on a schedule. Limit day time naps to only thirty minutes. Napping does not “make up” lost sleep, but a short nap can help to improve mood, and increase attentiveness and performance. Establish a bedtime routine; yes, just like what you had as a child. An example of a relaxing bedtime routine may include, a nice hot bath or shower, some stretching, maybe some meditation, and a good book. A bedtime routine helps your body recognize that it is bed time. Try to avoid anything that is emotionally upsetting before bed. Do not pick this time to talk about your deepest feelings with your significant other. The brain must be relaxed to fall asleep; save that conversation for morning. You’ll be happy you did.

Third: NO STIMULANTS BEFORE BED! Alright, this means do not eat fatty foods or greasy foods before you go to bed. Do not smoke, or dink carbonated or caffeinated beverages before bed. The food may cause heart burn, which will keep you awake. The caffeine and cigarettes can keep you awake. Stimulants such as alcohol or marijuana, both of which people associate with a good night’s sleep, may actually have the opposite effect. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but during the second half of the night, when your body starts processing the alcohol, it can disrupt your sleep; best to stay clear. Marijuana has been showed to have an effect on the amount of time a long term user spends in REM sleep. So, while marijuana may help, if you are an occasional user, after years of use, it will deprive you of dream time; disrupting your sleep cycle. If you stop using marijuana you may experience what is called REM rebound. REM rebound is where a person experiences exceptionally vivid dreams after quitting marijuana; this usually only lasts a short period as your body adjusts to having more time in REM sleep than it is used to.

Fourth: GET PLENTY OF EXERCISE AND SUNLIGHT! As little as ten minutes of exercise, especially if it takes place outside, can drastically improve one’s night of sleep. For most people, intense physical exercise right before bed doesn’t work, however, a brisk walk, or jog after dinner can have a tiring effect a few hours later. Exercise in the morning, can help wake you up, and help to tire you out at night. Experiment to see what works best for you.

Fifth: CREATE A PLESANT SLEEP ENVIRONMENT! I already said to ditch the TV, and I’m going to reiterate it here; DITCH the TV! If you are scared of the dark, or just want something to light the way, try a soft blue light in the bathroom, so it doesn’t disturb your sleep. Make your bed as comfortable as possible to best suit your desires. I, personally, like to feel like I’m sleeping on a cloud; we have lots of down pillows. The temperature should be between sixty and sixty-seven degrees for optimal sleep. Some people sleep best with a fan, this may be because the fan works as a white noise machine, and white noise machines have proven to help with insomnia. Consider trying black out curtains, eye mask, and/or ear plugs. Turn your smart technologies off or over so the light cannot disturb you.

Most people find that just a few minor changes in sleep habits can have a significant impact on their sleep quality. Experiment with these techniques and see what works best for you. If you are experiencing prolonged sleeplessness, consider consulting your doctor; you may have other psychological disorders that are preventing you from falling asleep; such as anxiety, PTSD, or depression.

The Benefits of Space Exploration


Mankind has always had an interest in exploring and discovering new things; this interest has spanned oceans, lands, and vast seas of stars and planets. From the very first mention of astronomy in ancient Babylon to the current race to Mars, space exploration has always been a fascination of the human race. In ancient times, astronomy was used to track seasons, predict future events, and in some cases, architecture. But, today mankind doesn’t just stand on earth and study the stars, they can now travel to the stars. With NASA and private companies such as Mars One, planning a manned mission to Mars within the next fifteen years, the debate on rather or not to send manned missions into space is a hot one. Some scientists claim manned missions into space are not only a waste of money but a dangerous waste of money and that robots can accomplish the same thing with less money and risk. Other scientists argue that the benefits of colonizing Mars, advancing the human race and the possibility of finding life out there, make the cost and the risk worthwhile.

Safe Travel through Space

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has always played an active role in the advancement of technology. NASA scientists have invented such products as LED lighting, memory foam, artificial limbs, cochlear implants, scratch resistant eyeglass wear, and insulin pumps for diabetic patients (John Jones, Dan Lockney, 2008). While these are all inventions most people are familiar with, they are all offshoots of other inventions meant to send manned missions safely into space.

NASA has been busy for the last fifty years, concentrating more on sending robotic missions into space rather than manned missions. Some of those missions include the Mars rover, the Hubble spacecraft, and the newest mission due to launch on March 12th 2015, Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS); which will study the reconnection of the magnetic field surrounding the Earth (NASA, 2015). However, with the manned mission to Mars on the horizon NASA, Mars One, and Inspiration Mars are now concentrating on safe travel for humans through space.

The first planned trip to Mars is Inspiration Mars, a two manned mission that is to be “… launched on a flight path that takes it looping around the Red Planet and then directly back to Earth” (Henbest, 2013, p. 2. para.2). The most dangerous part of the trip will be reentry when the spacecraft enters Earth’s atmosphere around 50,000 kilometers per hour, faster than any mission before it (Henbest, 2013). To combat the possibility that the astronauts will fry upon reentry, the scientists involved with Inspiration Mars are working with NASA to create a heat shield to surround the spaceship.

NASA is building the Orion capsule to send a manned mission to Mars’s moon, Phobos in 2025, but they lack a detailed plan (Henbest, 2013). The intent is to overview a robotically built planetary base on Mars with the astronauts due to fly there in 2031. However, by 2031, NASA may already be behind the Mars One mission, which plans on landing humans on Mars by 2025.

Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders, the founders of Mars One, have plans to colonize Mars by 2025. The flight to Mars will last four to six months, and the astronauts will never return to Earth (Henbest, 2013).  The largest dangers to the human body from spending so much time in space are muscle atrophy, bone density loss, and radiation damage from both just being in space, and from the sun (Henbest, 2013). Solar radiation (radiation from the sun) is much harder to shield against than the radiation that naturally exist in space. In order to protect the Astronauts on board the Mars One mission, Lansdorp has invented a spaceship that will have “… several thousand liters of water filling a hollow shell around the crews sleeping compartment” (Henbest, 2013, p. 3.para.12). As the best protection against solar radiation is organic matter, not heavy lead shields. As the first human colonization of another planet, Mars One will also face unique situations when they land on Mars.

Safely Living On Mars

Life on Mars will vary from life on Earth in many ways. The lighting on Mars varies from an amber color to a gray color, temperature varies from -225 degrees to 64 degrees Fahrenheit, the atmosphere is made up of primarily carbon dioxide (95%) and unpredictable dust storms that can be miles long and last for days can wreak havoc on infrastructures. Gravity on Mars is about a third of what it is on Earth and days are about thirty-nine minutes longer (Henbest, 2013). So, how will humans survive and prosper in such harsh conditions?

The dust present in the Martin atmosphere causes the sunsets and sunrises to have an opposite effect on what occurs on Earth; “… instead of our blue-sky with pinkish/red effects around the sun, Mars presents pinkish-red sunsets/sunrises with touches of blue in the vicinity of the Sun” (Discovery Channel, 2015, p. 1.para.7). Days and twilights will last longer, and astronauts will have to adjust to the longer days by wearing special watches designed to keep Martian time (Discovery Channel, 2015).

Since the gravity on Mars is 38% of the value of Earth, exercise, and special precaution will have to be taken to prevent muscle atrophy and bone density loss. Astronauts will carry exercise equipment with them to the Red planet, and they will need to develop a way to walk on Mars, such as the bunny hop the astronauts used on the Moon (Discovery Channel, 2015). “The effects of gravity on humans and living organism are not fully understood and need further study. Results to date have shown a profound effect on the health of humans. Thus, new methodologies and technologies need to be developed to keep humans healthy and productive and grow crops in this environment” (Krishen, 2009, p. 231. para.6). While the production of plants on Mars can be accomplished through hydroponics and artificial lighting; how will the first astronauts to Mars produce enough water to survive?

The first unmanned mission to Mars is a demonstration mission and it is set to prove the technologies needed to colonize Mars (Mars One, 2014). The Mars One probe, as it is being called, is charged with setting up a direct line of sight between Earth and Mars so the camera and satellite can communicate with Earth and so Earth can have a live feed of Mars 365 days a year (Mars One, 2014). It is also responsible for settling on a spot where water can be extracted from the Martian soil and for testing a variety of thin film solar panels, both experiments will prove the feasibility of human colonization on Mars (Mars One, 2014). Scientist believes that just under the topsoil of Mars is a thin layer of ice, and the Mars One probe will utilize that ice to make water for the human colony.

Human Verses Robot

Traditionally, robots are used in lieu of persons. They are sent on missions too dangerous or inaccessible to people, and the purpose has always been to prepare the way for humans. However, with the cost of one person being sent to Mars around 50 billion per; some scientist argues that it is too expensive and too dangerous to send humans to live on Mars. They believe robots can accomplish the same goals at a percentage of the cost and with no life lost (Discovery Channel, 2015).

The argument for robot versus human is a vast and highly complex case. Some of the reasons these scientists believe robot only missions would be best including; eliminating the risk of human error, eliminating the need for psychosocial and psychological evaluations, elimination of long-term health effects on humans, and the cost of sending robots to Mars is exponentially lower than manned missions plus return trips are not needed (Discovery Channel, 2015).

However, robots are not as independent or as functional as humans. They require constant supervision and direction from humans; if they are out of communication with Earth, they just sit and wait for further instruction (Discovery Channel, 2015). Whereas, humans can perform tasks and still maintain the mission if communications with ground control are lost (Discovery Channel, 2015). Humans can make independent decisions and do not require constant supervision.

The cost of sending humans into space is extraordinary, whereas the cost of sending robots is dependent upon the technologies used on that robot. “Humans are bulky, fragile and expensive to maintain” (Discovery Channel, 2015, p. 1. table 1. section 6.). Robots, on the other hand, are economical, expandable, and they don’t need supplies. However, some scientist would argue that “… the scientific gains of one human mission would be worth that of ten robot only missions” (Discovery Channel, 2015) as humans can continue advancing technologies and exploring space without direct instructions.


Although some scientists say that human space exploration is both a dangerous risk to our astronauts and a waste of money, the thought of exploring space has always been a fascination of mankind. From the very beginning of history, we see evidence of mapping of the planets, galaxies, and stars. Mankind will always want to travel beyond and reach higher than the moon, with the new plans to colonize Mars, mankind may soon have the answer to rather or not there is life out there.


Discovery Channel. (2015). Life on Mars: A travel brochure for the Red Planet. Retrieved from Discovery Channel:

Discovery Channel. (2015). Robots Versus Astronaunts. Retrieved from Discovery Channel:

Henbest, N. (2013, July 13). Life on Mars. New Scientist, 219(2925), 02. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from

John Jones, Dan Lockney. (2008). NASA Technologies Benefit Our Lives. Retrieved from Spinoff:

Krishen, K. (2009). Technology Needs for Future Space Exploration. IETE Technical Review, 26(4), 228-235. Retrieved Febuary 20, 2015, from

Mars One. (2014, Febfuary). Mars One – First Private Mars Mission in 2018. Retrieved from Indie Go Go:

NASA. (2015). Magnetospheric Multiscale. NASA. NASA. Retrieved from

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Psychological disorders are malfunctions in the mind that involve one’s thoughts, behaviors, or emotions that cause an individual significant distress and dysfunction over a period of time. Psychological disorders may interfere with a person’s ability to function in everyday life; they may be unable to meet their own personal needs, and/or be a danger to themselves or others. Generalized anxiety disorder is not considered to a dangerous disorder, however, it can cause some severe dysfunction in patients’ lives. In this paper, I will discuss generalized anxiety disorder from a neurobehavioral perspective.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition, (DSM-V), generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry and apprehension that last longer than six months and pervades every aspect of the person’s life, or nearly every aspect, and the individual finds it difficult to control these thoughts (DSM-V, 2013). This anxiety causes a variety of symptoms of which three or more must be present for more days than not over the six-month period; restlessness, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and/or sleep disturbances. These disturbances in a person’s life cannot be explained by either an addiction, such as a drug or alcohol addiction, or by another psychological disorder (DSM-V, 2013).

Biopsychosocial Theory

Generalized anxiety disorder is a disease that is caused by a variety of factors. Anxiety is generally considered to be a disorder that people are genetically predisposed too. Research has shown that generalized anxiety disorder has a heredibility factor, however, one’s environment will contribute a great deal to rather or not one develops generalized anxiety disorder (Brown, O’Leary, & Barlow, 2001). Although one may be predisposed to develop generalized anxiety disorder, evidence shows that stressful life events in childhood may play a contributing factor, events such as child abuse, the loss of a parent, or insecure attachments to caregivers (Brown, O’Leary, & Barlow, 2001). It is a comorbid disorder often occurring along with other disorders such as; autism, depression, sleep disorders, or substance abuse.

Evidence shows that the amygdala and areas of the forebrain are involved in generalized anxiety disorder. The basolateral amygdala complex (BLA), and centromedial amygdala complex, receive information about potentially negative emotions, activating the GABA neurotransmitters, leading to somatic manifestations of anxiety (Nuss, 2015).


Generalized anxiety disorder is not a rare disease. In fact, it’s prevalence in the US may range as high as five percent of the population. It is found to be more prevalent in low income families, white, adult, women, and within those social groups of people who are widowed, separated, or divorced (Weisberg, 2009).


Generalized anxiety disorder is more than just excessive worrying. It can impair one’s ability to think clearly, and concentrate on a task. It can sap a person’s energy, and make it hard for them to sleep. It can lead to a worsening of, or be the cause of other psychological disorders such as; depression, substance abuse, insomnia, digestive problems, headaches, and may even cause heart problems. Generalized anxiety disorder has also been linked to suicidal tendency, and some people who suffer from the disorder to manage to carry out their suicide (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016).

Treatment Options

The two main treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder are psychotherapy, or medication; usually a combination of both. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective therapy for generalized anxiety disorder, as it involves teaching the patient how to respond better to stress and negative emotions. Several different medications are used to treat generalized anxiety disorder including antidepressants, antianxiety, and benzodiazepines (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016).

Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), are usually the first choice of physicians when treating anxiety disorders. Antidepressants and antianxiety medications take up to several weeks to work, and the side effects can be drastic, to include suicidal thoughts; physicians are advised to carefully monitor patients, changing medications if severe side effects do occur. Benzodiazepines are only used on short term basis for patients who are suffering from acute anxiety attacks, and should not be used for patients with a history of substance abuse because they can be addicting (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016).


Generalized anxiety is a psychological disorder that is quite prevalent in the population of the United States. People who suffer from this disorder are likely to stress and worry over the smallest thing in an uncontrollable manner, and this stress is likely to affect their personal life increasing the likely hood of them developing another psychological disorder. But, anxiety can be controlled with the assistance of a physician, through the use of psychotherapy, and medications. I believe Juliana Hatfield described anxiety, and its symptoms, best when she said, “Sometimes I feel like a human pincushion. Every painful emotion hits me with ridiculously exaggerated force. And, the anxiety feels like hands inside of me, squeezing my guts really hard.”























Nuss, P. (2015). Anxiety disorders and GABA neurotransmission: a disturbance of

modulation. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment11, 165–175.

Brown, Timothy A., O’Leary, Tracy A., & Barlow, David H.(2001). Clinical Handbook of

            Psychological Disorders, Third Edition: A Step-by-Step Treatment Manual, Chapter

Four. Retrieved from:

Weisberg, Risa B. (2009). Overview of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Epidemiology,

Presentation, and Course. Journal of  Clinical Psychiatry 2009;70(suppl 2):4-9. Retrieved


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016). Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Complications. Retrieved from:


Juliana Hatfield. Retrieved from:

Evidence for Climate Change

Climate Change throughout History

To determine if the world’s temperature is increasing, several different methods are used, including data, where data exists, historical documents, glacier activity, sediment, tree rings, ice cores, corals, and carbon fourteen dating (Botkin & Keller, 2013). I will talk about only a couple of these. One way that scientist’s used to discovering the past climate and compare its changes throughout history, that I found interesting, is the use of historical documents.

Researchers can use historical documents such as paintings to reconstruct the climate. For example, “ships logs from the Spanish, Dutch, and English ships crossing the world’s oceans between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries, provide insight into weather patterns and how these change over time” (Oosthoek, 2015, pp. 1, pp.1). Another example, “is the painting of glaciers in the Swiss Alps, in some paintings the glaciers reached down into the valley below, indicating cold times, and in some painting the glaciers were high up in the mountains, showing warm eras” (Botkin & Keller, 2013, p. 482, pp. 1). Several other historical documents are used to include, “people’s written recollections in books, newspapers, journal articles, personal journals, ships’ logs, travelers’ diaries, and farmers’ records, along with dates of wine harvests and small grain crops”  (Botkin & Keller, 2013, p. 482, pp. 1).

Another method I found interesting was how scientists use tree rings to determine how the climate has changed over the centuries. Since the growth of trees is affected by the climate, the tree rings that trees develop over the years can tell scientists a lot about the atmosphere of that tree’s life (Botkin & Keller, 2013). When the tree rings are broad, it means climate conditions were suitable for growth; when the tree rings are narrow, it means climate conditions were not good for growth (Botkin & Keller, 2013).

The Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is the natural process by which the Earth’s atmosphere traps gases and warms the Earth, most is caused by water vapor (Botkin & Keller, 2013). It is called the greenhouse effect because the gases trapped in the atmosphere act like the window panes of a greenhouse, reflecting that warmth back to the surface of the Earth(Botkin & Keller, 2013). The natural gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and methane, provide a protective layer of gases from the Sun’s energy. Without that protective layer, the Sun could strike the Earth. Greenhouse gases catch the sun’s rays and reflect some of that warmth back to Earth warming the temperature (Botkin & Keller, 2013). However, human activity has increased the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere past natural conditions, causing Earth’s temperature to rise to never before seen temperatures (Botkin & Keller, 2013).

Greenhouse Gases

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and is emitted into the atmosphere naturally. However, human activity has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 396 parts per million (ppm), an increase of over a hundred ppm since the Industrial Revolution (Botkin & Keller, 2013).

Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere. Methane is naturally created by certain bacteria’s that live in oxygenless environments, such as the intestines of certain mammals. However, the emittance of methane into the atmosphere over the last two hundred years as increased due to human activity. “Humans contribute methane into the environment by landfills, the burning of biofuels, the production of coal and natural gas, and agriculture” (Botkin & Keller, 2013, p. 494, pp. 3).

“Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) are stable, inert compounds that are used in aerosol cans and refrigerators” (Botkin & Keller, 2013, p. 494, pp. 4). Scientists estimate “that 15% to 25% of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect may be related to CFCs” (Botkin & Keller, 2013, p. 494, pp. 4). The use of CFC was banned by the US government in 1978, which is a good thing because CFCs have the ability to absorb thousands of times more infrared radiation than carbon dioxide (Botkin & Keller, 2013).

Nitrous oxide contributes as much as five percent of greenhouse gases to the greenhouse effect. Human activity contributes this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere by using fertilizers in agricultural activities and by the burning of fossil fuels. Nitrous oxide stays in the environment for several decades (Botkin & Keller, 2013).

Evidence for Global Climate Change

Sea levels rise because of two contributing factors, the melting of land glaciers and the expansion of water. As the atmosphere warms up, much of that extra heat is taken in by our oceans and seas, causing the water to expand (NASA, 2015). Evidence shows that the global sea level has risen 6.7 inches in the last century and with the melting of land glaciers, that number is only going to increase. The rising of global sea levels has already affected some island nations, including the Marshal Islands, whose residents are living in the ocean now, and scientists predict that by the year 2050 seventeen percent of Bangladesh may be underwater (Davenport, 2015).

Impact of Climate Change in the Great Plains

I live in South Dakota, which is a part of the great plains of the United States. The great plains stretch across the United States from the border of Canada to the border of Texas and consists of a variety of environments and ecosystems. The effects of climate change on the great plains is many and varied (Environmental Protection Agency, 2015). As winters get warmer, crop cycles will alter requiring new techniques for farmers to grow their crops. The increase in global temperatures will increase the chance of droughts stressing the High Plains Aquifer, where most of the great plains get their water. With droughts will come changes in the water availability, causing challenges to crop irrigation and threatening wetlands (Environmental Protection Agency, 2015). Wetlands help to purify water naturally and are important in many respects. Climate change will impact the great plains in many ways, most of those ways will affect the United States food chain, to include the production of meat, and dairy (Environmental Protection Agency, 2015).




Botkin, K. a. (2013). Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet (Nineth ed.). Retrieved from!/4/4/2/2/1:0

Davenport, C. (2015, December 2). The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing. Retrieved from New York Times :

Environmental Protection Agency. (2015). Great Plains. Retrieved from United States Environmental Protection Agency:

NASA . (2015, November ). Sea Level. Retrieved from NASA :

Oosthoek, K. J. (2015, June 5). Reconstructing Past Climates. Retrieved from Enviromental History Resources :

No Point

I’m so sick of my life the way it is. I’m ready for some big changes. I’m not talking about self-discovery here, although that should always be a top priority. I’m talking about being finished with school, moving, starting my business, pursuing all the things Tim and I talk about every day. We’re so finished with this place, and ready to expand and grow. It’s become painful to be here.

Three years in college, and I’m almost finished. I can’t say it’s been particularly hard, because it hasn’t been. Do I plan on getting a doctorate? Yes, I do. Am I tired of doing homework everyday instead of pursuing my dreams, and spending time with my family? Yes, I am. Do I know that I need more education in order to pursue my dreams? Yes, I do. Hence, why I sit here and do homework every day. Why I devote all my time to this endeavor. Why I only go out once a week, to go hiking, instead of disappearing into the forest forever.

Tim is tired of his job. Every day it’s a challenge to drag himself out of bed, and go to work. He wants to start a business in San Francisco. He talks about it every day. I swear, we both spend more time daydreaming than anything else. We want to go exploring in the wilderness of Yosemite. We want to spend our days chilling on the beach. We want to bring our brother back, and take him with us. We want the memories we’ll never make. Still trying to talk the twin into going with us, but he seems intent on spending his days in the everglades.

Some day’s despondency gets the best of me, and I think, “we’ll never make it.” I’m use to poverty and disappointment. Then, the new positive, self-aware me, fights back against negativity. Someday, Tim and I will make all our fantasies a reality.

I know, that with the twin and soul sister in the Bahamas, not many will miss us here. Sure, there’s a few mamas’ who will, but the majority of our families are already elsewhere. For the first time in my life, all I can think is, “let time move faster.” Just not this week, as soon I will lose my oldest daughter. This summer has been rough; we all need it to get better.

This, of course, is just a series of random thoughts I had to express. I have no point.

Is World Peace Possible?


The world has had two world wars in recent history. World War I, which was fought between the Allies:  Britain, France, Russia, Italy and the United States, against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. World War I saw the destruction of over 38 million lives, including civilian and military personnel in the four short years it was waged from 1914 to 1918. The next big war in recent history was waged by Hitler, a notorious tyrant, from the years 1939 to 1945. It’s safe to say that the war started long before that in Germany, as veterans of World War I came home and looked to Hitler to lead them in the pursuit of the Third Reich. Hitler eventually took his message worldwide, trying to eliminate all Jewish people and other “impure” people from the face of the Earth. World War II saw the destruction of over 60 million people; however, some estimates place the number of lives lost could equal as many as 80 million. Today, many would call the war on terrorism a global war, and it has been being fought for about sixteen years and is still being fought today. These three examples of World Wars demonstrate that it is possible for the entire world to come together to accomplish a goal that they find necessary and for the good of the world. In this paper, I will discuss how the previous World Wars and wars in ancient history, can be used to demonstrate that a world built on global peace is just as possible as a world made on world wars.

Global Wars and their Impact

The age-old question of rather a war is a part of human evolution and, therefore, a human necessity is not an issue that we are going to concern ourselves with in this paper. Instead, we are going to skip ahead in history, from early war: unplanned tribal attacks, to more recent wars, involving planned attacks by military personnel. If we compare modern warfare to ancient Greece; we can see many similarities and many differences. One main similarity is that war is fought under the important notion of defending one’s home, and the military is made of civilians that arm themselves when their city-state is attacked (Bowden, 1995). However, war today is not fought only in defense of one’s nation, or in the hopes of expanding one’s territory. Global war today, and in the recent past, has been fought over resources, genocide, or terrorism, and the consequences have been much more devastating than in the past, with more people, and resources lost on both sides. With globalization comes the ability to defend countries half way around the world, and this can have far-reaching effects on all of the world.

The First World War in modern history, World War I, had far-reaching effects on many parts of the world. World War I saw the financial center of the world shift from England to the United States, as England consumed all of their credits on the global marketplace and became deeply indebted to the US. Shortly after the war, women worldwide gained the right to vote (where voting was allowed), and the working class people were given a higher social status than they had before the war. The United States, joining as they did, late in the War, suffered relatively minor losses and emerged as the great superpower of the world. The United States could be said to have benefitted the most from World War I, as it pushed forward industrialization. However, some argue that the United States was not prepared for this position of world leadership (Effects of World War One).

The end of World War I was the beginning, in Germany’s eyes, of World War II. Veterans from World War I, returned to Germany after the war to find an utterly defeated country; looking for a new leader to take them to glory and the Third Reich, and they found that leader in Hitler. Hitler became a Messiah to the World War I veterans, now called the Nazi’s, and they would have done anything to please him. Indeed, they did commit some of the most hideous war crimes upon humanity to please Hitler; following his orders blindly as he tried to eradicate any impure persons from Germany and the rest of the world (Redles, 2010).  Aside from almost complete genocide of the Jewish race, the effects of World War II on the world were also far-reaching, and some would argue that they are still being felt today.

One primary effect that is still being felt today was the dropping of the first atomic bombs, from the United States, devastating Japan. Indeed changing their DNA, so that their children and grandchildren are still seeing mutations today; mostly in the prevalence of leukemia found in the Japanese children (Center for Nuclear Studies, 2012). Germany, Japan, England, France, and Russia suffered immeasurably in lives lost and damage taken due to bombings during World War II, and world power shifted again, from England and France to Russia; making Russia one of two superpowers in the World along with the United States. In the United States, World War II stimulated the economy, and cemented the US as a superpower. Scientific discoveries, that were used to fight diseases during the war, would later be applied to benefit mankind; reducing the mortality rate and encouraging population growth. Other technological advancements, such as the development of the atomic bomb, would leave future wars more precarious, as now nuclear weapons were a possibility in every future war. While the development of nuclear weapons was a definite pitfall for the future of humanity, perhaps the biggest benefit to emerge from World War II was the creation of the United Nations. With the unification of the world’s superpowers, most considered the world to be entering a new era of peace (Effects of World War Two).

That new era of peace came to an abrupt end on September eleventh, 2001, when a group of terrorist attacked the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and killed over three thousand people (History Channel). The attacks on nine eleven caused, then President George W. Bush, to call a global war on terrorism, ending the hope of world peace, and creating a ripple effect of changes in the United States and worldwide. Since President Bush announced the global war on terror, the militia groups connected to or inspired by al-Qaeda, have increased as well as the number of attacks committed by the group, over twenty attacks that have killed over twenty people since 2001, and counting. Other terrorist groups have sprung up, accounting for more minor assaults, and more deaths worldwide; demonstrating that global terrorism is on the rise and not on the decline (BBC News, 2011). Perhaps, however, the global war on terrorism has caused the most internal change to the US and its citizens. It saw the decrease in personal privacy (with the government now able to pry by recording both phone conversations and internet history of everyday civilians), the militarization of the police force, and the formation of the National Security Administration, which now oversees all internal and foreign affairs, using recorded personal data disguised as intelligence to target civilians accused of ordinary crimes (Kane, 2013). Recently, with the attacks committed by ISIS, the global war on terrorism has increased the amount of discrimination toward Muslim people on US territory as well as globally. The global war on terrorism could easily be argued to have had the opposite effect of world peace, and may, in fact, be a significant contribution to a future World War; but that remains to be seen.

The Effects of World Peace

While it is safe to say that since the development of human communities and cities, as well as military arms, and the advancement of civilization, the world has never known peace. Some country, rather little or big, in human history, has always been at war. However, with the

Ending of World War I and the development of the United Nations, world peace could be a possibility in the future if the world’s governments and resources could be used to promote world peace instead of world war.

The United Nations (UN) was founded to foster global peace, prosperity, and justice, and since the time of its inception, it has prevented a third world war from breaking out; if one does not count the war on terrorism (United Nations, 2013). The UN could be said to have been tasked with an impossible mission; world peace has never existed, why would it now? Michael Mandelbaum, in his book entitled Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy, and Free Markets in the Twenty-First Century compares the pursuit of world peace to the search for a cure for cancer; it is done slowly over time, taking small steps in the right direction with the hopeful development of a “cure” at the end of the road (Mandelbaum, 2004). However, despite these difficulties, Mandelbaum maintains hope for world peace, through democracy, global government, and free markets that, he says, is the key to world peace at the onset of the twenty-first century (Mandelbaum, 2004). As Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the UN, “ With all the defects, with all the failures we can check up on it, the UN still represents man’s best-organized hope to substitute the conference table for the battlefield” (Sharp, 2011).

US Motivations to Continue the War Effort

While the initial, official stated reason for the global war on terrorism has remained the same throughout the last fifteen years (national security, God’s will, and eliminating evil from the world), after the death of the al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, many people have begun to question the necessity of the War on Terrorism. Since the evidence suggests that the War on Terrorism has created more terrorists, not less, why does America continue to fight this war; does America need war?

Since America’s economic system is built on a brand of capitalism, where the rich get richer, and the crumbs are left for the rest of society, it is argued that America needs a war every four years, or so, to maintain its economic system. The legitimate causes of war were justified, to begin with in the eyes of the American public, however while they were blinded with hatred and with the war in the middle east, the government levied taxes upon the poorer citizens of the country to pay for the war, thereby increasing the pockets of the already rich suppliers of weapons and other military necessities (Pauwels, 2003). It would be safe to say that the war on terrorism has become a war designed to make corporate America richer while devastating “enemy countries.” The fight on terrorism is abstract enough that it is a war that can continually be fought, for many, many years, without a clear enemy in mind, increasing the pockets of the rich in corporate America, while further decreasing the wealth of the middle to poor class of America.

The War on Terrorism also provides the American government the excuse necessary to monitor and invade their citizens’ rights, it allows the police force of the American government to detain anyone, terrorist ties notwithstanding, in a prison without outside contact for three days, and increased world democracy; pushing their ideas upon every country in the world, rather they want it or not (Higgs, 2005). It may well be that America continues the war on terrorism to push further their ideas while gaining political power across the world. Regardless of the American government’s justification for the continued War on Terrorism, the costs, in human lives, economic and governmental structure ships across the world, and important civil and economic liberties in America, are genuine and detrimental to most countries involved in the War on Terrorism (Higgs, 2005).

US Motivations for World Peace

According to a Gallup International survey, which polled 66,000 people in sixty-five countries, America is seen as the biggest threat to world peace (Bulger, 2014). Since America has technically been involved in some war since 1940, one is forced to ask, does America have any motivations to pursue world peace? As the world’s great superpower, one could argue that America, more than any other countries has a responsibility to use their powers responsibly, pushing world peace instead of continuing to wage war after war; up to this point in recent history, which has not been the case. However, the founding fathers of America brought about the world’s most prosperous, free, and peaceful country in world history; it stands to reason that if they could do it, so can the current governmental powers in America (Lohman, 2013).  Could it be that the only motivations the US government has for world peace are the spread of democracy or the pushing of their ideals? Could it be that the only motivating factor the US has for the establishment of world peace is even more political power throughout the world? It could be.

Perhaps if the American government were more straight forward and honest in their dealings with both their citizens and foreign nationals and governments, the complete distrust of the United States by most countries in the world would diminish, and the American military could stand a chance of spreading a peaceful democracy across the world, eliminating world wars altogether. They would have to practice real democracy here at home, as well.

Peaceful Societies in History

The view is that generally friendly societies do not exist in human history; caveman supposedly fought with caveman, and today one country fights another, or a group of people fights another group of individuals, all in the name of “God” or “peace”, even though neither has been seen or heard from in Western civilizations since at least 1940. However, there have been peaceful societies throughout the history of humankind, who not only did not engage in war or warlike behavior with outside societies; they also did not promote fighting or violence even within their societies.

The Paliyan Society of South India, for example, is a relatively nonviolent civilization, that practices avoidance when dealing with violent situations or people (Gardner, 2000). A study of the literature composed of twenty-four other peaceful societies throughout the world shows much of the same thinking in regards to warfare or violence. Peaceful societies do not view violence in the same light as westernized nations. They believe that violence is not inevitable, that punishment and armed forces are not the answer to all conflicts, both internal and external, that political structures are not a necessity to prevent conflict, and that war is not the answer to world peace (Bonta, 1996).

Instead, peaceful societies throughout the world and in human history, have no record of violence. They rarely punish adults and have no prison system. Conflict is often viewed in a negative light, and outside interference by governmental forces are not sought after or approved, rather a conflict is with an outside society or within their society. Conflict is instead resolved through various other tactics, such as self-restraint, negotiation, separation or mobility, intervention, or humor (Bonta, 1996). These ulterior conflict resolution skills could be universally applied, promoting world peace instead of world war.


The examination of previous societies throughout world history that have implemented conflict resolution without the need for violence illustrates the world’s capacity for world peace; it is possible. The same forces it takes to push a country to war could be used to drive a country to peace. World War I set the United States up as the superpower in the world and World War II cemented that position, since then, the US has been in one way or another, and all under the guise of accomplishing world peace. If monies spent on war, some upwards of 450 trillion dollars, so far in the 21st Century, could be devoted to bringing democracy to developing countries instead of more destruction and human suffering, the world would be a superpower that indeed does promote peacefulness, democracy, and freedom. I have shown throughout this paper that the love of power and money is what keeps the world’s superpower at war, and in the words of William Ewart Gladstone, I will end this paper with the hope that world peace is achieved within my lifetime. “We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace” (Gladstone, 1809-1898).


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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

This week in class, I read something I had never heard before; that Autism is a consciousness disorder. I have a nine-year-old with Autism, and had never heard or read that before; strange huh? I’ve heard autism be called a spectrum disorder, a neurophysiological disorder, and a sensory disorder. I’ve always explained it as, “his senses do not work the same way ours do.” That description is right, and wrong. Let’s take a closer look at autism.

Autism does not have one known cause, and the disorder can range from severe to high functioning, leading scientists to believe that there are probably many causes. (Autism is NOT caused by vaccines, and that is all I will say about that in this paper.) Because of the complexity of the disorder, researchers believe that the cause of Autism may be both environmental and genetic (Mayo Clinic, 2016). Post mortem examinations have brought about many discoveries in how autism effects the genes, and the brain.

Several different genes appear to be involved in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some children have mutations in their genes, that may be the involved in Autism. Some children who have Autism also have a genetic disorder, such as fragile X syndrome or Rhett’s Disease. Some mutations may be on the genes that affect communication, or determine the severity of symptoms. Some mutations may occur spontaneously, while others may be inherited (Mayo Clinic, 2016). One’s chances of having autism increase if one has a sibling or other blood relative with autism, however, scientists believe that many environmental factors may be involved in autism as well.

Environmental factors are currently being explored, and some causes that have been considered are; viral infections, medications or complications during pregnancy, air pollutants, and GMO’s (Mayo Clinic, 2016). All of these factors are considered to effect the baby in utero, evidence shows that around thirty-two weeks in utero, the baby’s brain stops developing normally.

The cerebellum, limbic system, and cortex appears to be affected by Autism. The cerebellum controls fine motor skills, balance, and coordination of the body, as well as, receiving sensory information from muscles, joints, and visual and audio input. Post mortem examinations of the brains of people with Autism has shown an under developed prefrontal cortex and a decrease of purkinje cells in the cerebellum, and that this mutation occurs around thirty-two weeks in vitro. This cell deficient in the cerebellum appears to increase the risk of seizures, and the risk of Autism (Blatt,2012). Many autistic patients also suffer from severe epilepsy.

Many neurotransmitters are affected in the autistic patient including dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and Acetylcholine. Dopamine plays a large role in regulating sensitivity and processing of information, perception of change, relying information, cognition, motivation, emotional responses, attention and focus, movement, and posture (Autism Couch, 2017). A decrease in dopamine levels can impair attention and focus, while an increase can cause the mind to race, and increase sensory processing causing an overload on the brain’s ability to process information. Studies have shown that individuals with autism have increased dopamine receptors on the mRNA expression (Autism Couch, 2017).

GABA is a neurotransmitter that contributes to calming a person down; prohibiting neurons from firing. Research has shown that individuals with autism have an imbalance of glutamate to the GABA receptors, causing over excitement, explaining why so many individuals with autism also have a co-morbid diagnosis of ADHD.

Acetylcholine is an excitatory neurotransmitter that contributes to the contraction of muscles, and stimulates the release of certain hormones. It is involved in wakefulness, attentiveness, anger, aggression, sexuality, and thirst, among other things. A decrease in acetylcholine may explain why so many on the spectrum suffer from issues with aggression.

Autism spectrum Disorder is an extremely complicated disorder, and individuals can range from low functioning to high functioning. What may affect one autistic person may not affect another. However, there are common characteristics that all patients with autism will share to one degree or another.

Social interaction and communication are issues for almost all individuals on the spectrum. They may fail to respond to their own name, after someone has called it many times. They may resist hugging and may not want to play with other kids, often times they will appear to be “in their own world.” They may lack eye contact when having conversations, and they may lack facial expression as well. Delayed speaking, or never speaking at all are common, as well as the inability to use words correctly, and some may lose the ability to speak. Conversations are hard for people on the spectrum, and often they may appear to be uninterested in what the other person is saying. They may speak in an abnormal tone, either sing songy, or robotic is common. Social interactions are complicated for autistic people, and they may approach a situation inappropriately by being passive, or aggressive.

As well as communication and social problems, people on the spectrum may have behavioral problems as well. Common behaviors found in ASD individuals include rocking of the body or flapping of the hands. They may self-harm, but not because they are emotionally damaged. They may bite themselves or hit their head against things. Autistic patients are very fixed in their routines and do not like change or surprises. They may be clumsy or have exaggerated body movements, as often they have a hard time with body coordination. (We know that this is due to the damage in the cerebellum.) Most autistic patients are unusually sensitive to light, and sound, but are indifferent to pain and temperature. Children on the spectrum tend to fixate on certain things, have very real food preferences (and that “let them get hungry” philosophy, does not work with autistic kids – they WILL starve before eating something they do not like). They participate in what is called “parallel play.” This means that, yes, they play with other kids, but only alongside them, not interacting or exchanging ideas with them – Jacob still does this.

Treatment for autism is nonexistent. I hate that some people do not care about a cure. I would love a cure for my son. Autism makes his life so hard, and he gets bullied every year because he has a hard time in social situations. Right now, he is in elementary school, and has a student aid that helps him; I’m scared for when he goes to middle school.  I hope they keep doing the research and find something, someday to cure autism. Many on the spectrum suffer from co-morbid diagnosis of epilepsy, ADHD, anxiety disorders, and sometimes OCD. Since the core symptoms of autism cannot be treated; treatment is focused on the symptoms, or what symptoms can be treated.

Jacob suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, and he takes an adult dose of Prozac to combat that. He’s been in behavioral therapy since he was diagnosed at age three. Behavioral therapy teaches him how to interact with his peers, and how to react in social situations. Jacob is high functioning, but when he was younger, and first diagnosed, the doctors told me that he would never communicate, and never have a life outside of my home. Well, he sure showed them! Jacob has many friends, and talks up a storm – he never stops, he even talks in his sleep! While I know that there is no cure for autism, some patients can be brought out of their shell, and can go from low functioning to high functioning. Jacob use to be non-verbal, and non-communicative (meaning no outward signs of communication, not even grunting and pointing), his IQ use to be a 70, now it’s a 92, and Jacob has come so far in his abilities to interact socially.  Jacob use to be in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy (all common therapies for autism), and now he is only in speech and behavioral therapy. I have no complaints.

Autism spectrum disorder is complicated and can take many different paths. This is not a complete list of all signs and symptoms. If you feel like your child may be autistic, please see your primary care provider.





Gene J. Blatt, “The Neuropathology of Autism,” Scientific, vol. 2012, Article ID 703675, 16

pages, 2012. doi:10.6064/2012/703675

Autism Couch, Neurotransmitters and Autism. Retrieved from: