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Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales
11,250 followers -
Social Media Coordinator at NWUAV and RP Advanced Mobile Solutions
Social Media Coordinator at NWUAV and RP Advanced Mobile Solutions

11,250 followers
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Alexandra's posts

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Oh look, it's #NationalDogDay  

Guess what that means?! Excuse for dog pictures :D :D :D The #cattledog  is Tigger (deaf and partially blind). The #Malamute  Husky mix is King (he's gained quite a few pounds since that picture). The #goldenretriever  is Sandy. And the #pitbull  is Rex.
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2015-08-26
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It's #BringYourDogToWorkDay !

Since I work in a dog-friendly office, every day is bring your dog to work day ... So Sandy came to work with me today :) She was on crash patrol duty this morning! She kept a watchful eye on me while I learned how to fly a drone ... Just in case I had a crash she was there to retrieve! 
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Friday rituals 
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The seduction of secrets and conspiracy

I see what +David Amerland​ means about secrecy and conspiracy in today's #sundayread and why we have them:

"These few, just like lottery wins (https://goo.gl/l3ZWtG) feed into the psychology of our brain (https://goo.gl/vKgT1w) triggering specific neurological pathways (https://goo.gl/2WSKbV) that deliver a ‘reward’. A sense that we actually have done something substantive, when really, we have done nothing."

But I'd take it one step further and say it's not just about reward ... It's about, for lack of a better word, boredom. I think so many of us are bored with our lives that rather than dig into the terrifying topic with who we are and shy away from our responsibility of that boredom, we seek distraction. What better distraction than digging deep into how another human being is lying. Digging into another's faults so we must not look at our own.

Do you ever think about the typical American​ life?

I often try to imagine it and I sincerely worry it goes something like this: _Wake up. Rush to get to work and the kids ready for school. Dribk coffee. Work 8-10 hours doing something that feels monotonous at this point. Eat a lunch that's filled with processed foods, which make you feel lethargic around 2pm. More coffee or switch to an energy drink. Rush home to make a dinner for the family with more processed foods. See each family member as they come into the kitchen to collect their food and leave. Watch TV until your eyes get tired and you're ready for bed.

If every day feels like the same day over again and every day doesn't offer an opportunity that we take to self reflect and explore ... Yeah, we're probably insanely bored with our lives. Which gets us asking, there has to be more right? But because we haven't been trained to look at ourselves and ask more of ourselves, we look at others. And we ask "what are you hiding" instead of "what more could you too be doing with your life."

Secrets are sexy

They're enticing. They offer us opportunity to completely forget about ourselves and dive down a rabbit hole that has a foreseeable end. They're a distraction, and a damn good one. But, as tempting as it is to dive down that rabbit hole, I think we should first ask: Has figuring out secrets and proving conspiracy theories actually made anyone happier? Because that's what most of us seek, happiness. I'd wager it really hasn't. But I've also decided I'm too busy with developing my own being to deal with someone else's secrets. Maybe my busyness is my own personal conspiracy ;) 
Secrets

The idea that there are nefarious powers, hidden in plain sight, capable of self-organizing to such a highly disciplined degree that they can actually play a long game to the detriment of the rest of us is something that has never fallen out of favor with the public at large, giving rise to conspiracy theory (https://goo.gl/AQsduj) after conspiracy theory until there is a seemingly endless list of them that reflects the complex gamut of human bias and our capacity for delusion (https://goo.gl/D12LaV).

Now the past few years have produced quite the conspiracy theory trove (https://goo.gl/VvV0MU) and pop-culture has assimilated a great many more (https://goo.gl/cV79Qb) with even ‘experts’ joining the frame and fueling the fire (https://goo.gl/0mVm).

This begs the obvious question: why? Paradoxically, conspiracy theories, both of the left and the right and every political and religious hue in between are a psychological response to our sense of helplessness. They are an attempt to believe that somehow, even incredibly complex events over which we have zero control, have an agency we can affect: https://goo.gl/11rk3e. They persist because we always seek to exert control over the world (https://goo.gl/dhrCuF) and they become less prevalent as we find other ways to do so.

Interestingly, just like the 1997 film “Conspiracy Theory” (https://goo.gl/NcWnRY) where a crazy story is found to be a shot in the dark that finds its mark (https://goo.gl/iJ8WU2) some conspiracy theories have turned out to be true: https://goo.gl/Y7ClA6. These few, just like lottery wins (https://goo.gl/l3ZWtG) feed into the psychology of our brain (https://goo.gl/vKgT1w) triggering specific neurological pathways (https://goo.gl/2WSKbV) that deliver a ‘reward’. A sense that we actually have done something substantive, when really, we have done nothing.

When it comes to belief, facts seem to hold zero value as a TED Talk by Michael Shermer suggests: https://goo.gl/ySU2ZX. Our willingness to deceive ourselves, obviously, has an evolutionary link to traits that were designed, in the very distant past, to actually help us: https://goo.gl/0fLI3K, even though, today, it is mostly being used to manipulate us: https://goo.gl/i5zd53.

We feel that we lack control when secrets around us abound, when transparency is lacking. And secrets affect us psychologically (https://goo.gl/8Zq44b), eroding our inner balance (https://goo.gl/5cqfyT) pushing us to “come clean”.

As you’d expect, conspiracy theories (and too many secrets for that matter) have a detrimental effect in society: https://goo.gl/K6a58Y. We were never meant to keep secrets in societal structures of the scale we have harnessed today. As a result we appear to be tearing ourselves apart (https://goo.gl/IRlRcn).

So, what do we do? Is there a solution? Are there things each of us, at the level of the individual can do to wrest back control, gain a sense of order in our lives? Feel that what we do and who we are makes sense again? Apparently having a purpose helps: https://goo.gl/SbCKrw. A lot.

Creating a community that is nonjudgmental, welcoming and supportive, also helps. (https://goo.gl/QBSiFK). Caring (https://goo.gl/0bYn5g), alongside thinking, is a critical ingredient. The sense that we have been cast adrift, that the world we knew, or felt we knew, no longer applies is not new. People have experienced it since the very beginning of time, the moment they felt the impact of change. The change we feel around us is accelerating. We really have one of two choices. We allow ourselves to become trapped by the ancient heuristics (https://goo.gl/EOZVEy) of our mind, or we find new ways to matter. Fresh means of re-acquiring control. And the strength to connect with each other at a level that, once more, begins to work for each of us. For all of us.
OK now. Coffee? (You’d better be able to say “Check!”). Donuts? Croissants? Cookies? Ice-Cream and Chocolate cake? (“Check!” again. You’re all set then. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

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We're not all that we seem ... It's just the hidden pieces aren't super powers

Or maybe they are? I've never really been big on super heroes. Every time someone asked me the expected "if you could have any super power" I'd say "I don't really want the responsibility of powers." Sure, heroes get glory. But most of them remain anonymous. And think of the guilt that comes with such responsibility!

But then again, how often do we contemplate our responsibility without powers?

Are we even doing as much as we can with the powers we have? In today's #sundayread +David Amerland​ writes:

"Despite the obvious additional responsibility that comes with having great power (Spiderman fans, rejoice: https://goo.gl/HqU7XH) there is always a yearning it seems for us to be more than we appear to be."

I think we already are more than we appear to be. And I think rather than consider the power and responsibilities we already have, we choose to dream about other powers ... And maybe ignore the responsibility that would come with it. 
Superpowers

I grew up steeped in superhero mythology (https://goo.gl/E4EeZU) my mind frequently playing “what-if” scenarios in which stark moral dilemmas were presented in impossible situations and action still had to be taken. It was a useful pastime that informed some of my understanding of a world which back in the 70s was fragmented into geographically isolated regions linked only by television and music.

The time afforded me to day dream (which is what it was really) also allowed me to explore mental concepts (https://goo.gl/Bf2Vgl), determine the dynamics that govern them (https://goo.gl/YW0CJ4) and look for the reasons they occurred in the first place (https://goo.gl/oDqpUH).

In a series of superhero posts I put together some time ago (https://goo.gl/m2JZaj), others chimed in with incredibly deep thoughts, including +Bruce Marko (https://goo.gl/ryqn8f) whose exploration of the subject raises some incredibly valid points.

Superheroes are so deeply embedded in our culture that we frequently don’t think about the impact they have (https://goo.gl/d7zr3e) nor the fact that from a purely semantic point of view, the various attributes that make them possible (https://goo.gl/QGD0uJ) are a yearning we have towards the better version of ourselves.

Of course, I frequently played the game where I would ask myself the question. “If you could have any superpower you wanted, which would you choose?” Upon consideration each one individual superpower, however great, always left me feeling that I was missing out which is why my choice (which I will divulge a little later) was both a little more pedestrian, maybe, and directly telling, given what I now do for a living.

But first, since we are talking superpowers and since we now know a lot more about physics and science and the way the human body interacts with the world than the 70s, let’s take a look at Joy Lin’s TED-Talk mini-series where he explores the feasibility of flight (https://goo.gl/Ki0uwu), invisibility (https://goo.gl/wXRKDA), immortality (https://goo.gl/Aq4dPx), super strength (https://goo.gl/zrKSP), super speed (https://goo.gl/EAOI21) and body mass manipulation (https://goo.gl/bB18r6).

Lin’s factual take on this process kinda punctures the “I wannabe a superhero bubble” but it takes nothing away from the catalytic power superheroes have in modern culture: https://goo.gl/RLkcky.

These days I still spend a lot of time following Dragon Ball (https://goo.gl/5H5Ai) where its main character, Goku (https://goo.gl/4A3b1Y) embodies the consistency of character and moral approach that we identify with in the superhero genre (and for Goku fans here are some superpowers you might not know he has: https://goo.gl/utAmlx).

Like always, superheroes allow us to safely explore the interstices in our social fabric in ways that no other means can do with the same effect: https://goo.gl/5eSdxU. They allow us, again, to dynamically explore our morality: https://goo.gl/vh4xQa.

Despite the obvious additional responsibility that comes with having great power (Spiderman fans, rejoice: https://goo.gl/HqU7XH) there is always a yearning it seems for us to be more than we appear to be: https://goo.gl/3iWfkk.

Over the last three years I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time, deep in a universe where certain superpowers appears to be within our grasp: https://goo.gl/x47LOu. It resulted in a book that teaches us how to be the better version of ourselves we frequently yearn for: https://goo.gl/ECaMt0.
But back to that time, so many decades ago now, when I was asking myself the question about superpowers. The one that made most sense to me back then was to be able to know everything by simply focusing on it.

We are not quite there yet, but in the digital age, when search, the web, social media and interconnectivity have resulted in a highly networked hybrid mind of sorts we are all becoming smarter (https://goo.gl/IYZsPS) more knowledgeable and, with a little search ‘magic’, capable of finding out almost anything about anything we want.

In that regard, at least, the superpower I craved when I was 13 seems to be firmly within my grasp. I hope yours is too (choose wisely).

And speaking of wisdom I hope you’re reading this with a river of coffee and a mountain of donuts, croissants, cookies and chocolate ice cream (coz it is summer now), within easy reach. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

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Today was Sampson's first day as an office dog!!

He did great ... And now he's out like a light lol

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Are we still fighting for freedom?

+David Amerland​ chose a very sensitive subject today so I'm going to accept the challenge and use my words very carefully. But I want to preface this with I have the utmost respect for every single man, woman and animal (horses, dogs, etc) who has given their life so I can live with the rights and freedom I have today.

I want to take us back a little more than 15 years...

To the tragic day of the 9/11 attack. I was 11 years old. So I was told what had happened and I watched the footage of the towers coming down and the rescue attempts ... But I didn't really understand the severity of it all. And the next thing I knew we were at war. And I thought we were at war because of the attacks on the twin towers. But then I was told it was because of "weapons of mass destruction." And then I was told, no we were lied to, it was about oil. And since that day, the day of the attacks, we've been in a war that to this day I struggle to understand the purpose of.

What are we fighting for?

After everything that happened following the 9/11 attacks, my generation has grown up in a time of distrust. Think about it. From the time I was 11 I've had to grapple with the notion that our government can lie to us ... And they can lie so severely that our brave men and women will go to war thinking their fighting for the American ideal of freedom, but are in fact going to war for very different reasons. And you can see in the US right now, this distrust has escalated to the point where our current President is not a politician in the traditional sense of the word... And it's argued he currently holds office because of his lack of government experience.

David writes in today's #Sundayread

"With each passing phase and each passing moment we learn more and more about how our national and global systems work. We hope that at some point we shall have the conditions in place that will allow us to re-evaluate the loss/gain equation that makes war inevitable and change it to the point that war becomes an impossibility."

As much as I hope for this, my distrust in our system and the amount of power we afford single individuals to misguide us, makes me think this peaceful future is a dream world rather than an eventuality. I worry our wars will continue, amazing individuals will continue to be lost ... And my biggest worry is at the end of the day we'll never really know why we lost such wonderful people. I will always honor and respect those who have given their lives so I have the rights and freedom I have, because I know that's what they think they were fighting for. But I will always question if what we think we're fighting for and what our government is fighting for are one and the same.
War

As you’re reading this, if you’re in the USA you’re celebrating Memorial Day weekend (https://goo.gl/zxlbpW), in memory of those who have paid the ultimate price. Proportionately the total number of deaths in all American wars is just 1.1 million men (https://goo.gl/ODn3fm), a number dwarfed by the number of automobile deaths between 1899 and 2013 (https://goo.gl/yRdns4) or the number of people who die from heart disease or stroke, globally (https://goo.gl/b3572P) each year.

Faced with such statistics war suddenly appears to be a relatively low-cost activity whose ever evolving nature makes increased use of technology to minimize the loss of human life while maximizing the amount of damage that can be caused in a very short time.

Indeed this loss/gain assessment is (and always has been) the primary reason for wars between rational actors (https://goo.gl/h2fw8p). While the act of war, in its own right, is a study in premeditated insanity its reasons are subject to a very rational analysis: https://goo.gl/Qb8Udb.

There are two additional dimensions to war however. One that is as old as the act of war itself and another, much newer which we have yet to completely comprehend. The newer one is that the interconnectivity of the world and the complex web of interests that one country has in another can lead to a sequence of events triggered by unintended consequences (https://goo.gl/2RTXn) that can escalate things beyond anyone’s ability to fully control: https://goo.gl/Qb8Udb.

The other, the more primal one, is that war, which I would say it is arguably the result of total failure in human cognitive, social and cultural processes, represents such a stark black & white choice of options to its immediate participants that it hugely simplifies life and living and, perversely perhaps, becomes a welcome attraction in itself.

This is a notion that Sebastian Junger explores in his TED Talk on the subject: https://goo.gl/4Og39k where he suggests that in experiencing the psychological change brought on by war we crave what we could not have in peace time.

The argument has come merit, as indeed does the more overall analysis of the reasons wars happen offered by Rizwan Asghar (https://goo.gl/XLgdn5 and https://goo.gl/Z2mReI).

All of this brings us to the moment. Today, a day away from an American holiday intended to honor American dead. This is no longer last century, or indeed any other century before it. We stand at the cusp of history. Each of us armed with unprecedented power to find, understand, share and disseminate information. In getting to here, each of us has undergone a long journey of learning, unlearning, and relearning that has taught us that we can redefine who we are, that we can forge our own communities, that we can buy into our own brand of an ideology without needing to be told what to do and how to do it by the State.

With each passing day and each passing experience we learn about the bonds of humanity that binds us: https://goo.gl/g9k1WF. With each passing phase and each passing moment we learn more and more about how our national and global systems work. We hope that at some point we shall have the conditions in place that will allow us to re-evaluate the loss/gain equation that makes war inevitable and change it to the point that war becomes an impossibility. As relatively rare and stigmatized as the “failed state” (https://goo.gl/nTYhY) label in international politics.

America’s dead are no different to the dead of any other country. Each passing represents a lost universe. Countless of lost hopes and dreams that will now have to be rediscovered by those left living. In celebrating Memorial Day it may appear that we’re all taking part in the unique, national holiday of a country. It’s more than that, however. It is the opportunity to reflect upon our own countries and cultures as well and to remember our own dead. Each moment that has brought us here, to this point, has been paid for by the blood of others. The price demanded for the collective mistakes that lead to our mutual states of madness.

We owe it not just to ourselves but also to future generations to work hard to put a stop to the cycle. To say, at some point, that “No. We will not do that” acknowledging the madness of military action and actively seeking other ways to make the points we have, felt.

I hope you have your coffee pot full and your donut tray replenished. Cookies, croissants and chocolate cake are what make weekends feel different from any other day. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

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"You're either really brave or really stupid..."

"Maybe I'm just curious."

Watching my nephew grow up has already been an eye opening experience about how we as adults have changed from those early stages of life. The moment he began crawling was the moment he began getting bumps and bruises that he seems to notice the moment they happen and then he forgets about after a few soothing, sympathetic coos from my sister ... But those bumps and bruises haven't kept him from crawling everywhere he goes. Those new foods that don't taste good haven't kept him from trying other new mashed up foods. Those inedible items haven't kept him from trying to put everything in his mouth.

As our awareness develops does that mean we must lose curiosity?

That's what we all say right? Now that we're adults we're aware of the risks of trying something new. What if the be food we try is disgusting or worse we're allergic to it? We'd love to explore another country but it's so dangerous! We don't know their language, the lay of the land, and have you heard their crime rates? We'd try an Iron Man or even a 5K but do you know how high the odds are of getting injured?! And who has time to train for that? All of these statistics ... Let's call them what they really are: Excuses. They're reasons to not take risks and try new things. They're excuses to stay in our safe little bubble of what we "know."

What if, for a moment, we just decided to be that person who is either stupid or brave?

What if, for a moment, we decided screw the statistics? What if, for a moment, we chose to be curious. +David Amerland​ writes in today's #sundayread :

"As a species our story is far from told. How far we go. What we eventually do, I suspect, will hinge upon the amount of curiosity we can leverage in life."

Rather than just read it and say, yeah that's probably true...

Go be curious. Push yourself beyond what you thought was your potential. I'm not saying run an Iron Man tomorrow. Start small. Try a new food. Try a new hobby. Learn about something you've always been curious about but claimed you never had the time to discover. Use today to launch yourself forward with just the tiniest act of curiosity.
What Killed The Cat?

Of all the things that motivate us, curiosity is the least acknowledged and most poorly understood. A 1994 study (https://goo.gl/LEUd54) mentioned as its salient characteristics: “intensity, transience, association with impulsivity and tendency to disappoint when satisfied.”

Richard Wurman, who cofounded TED Talk, cites as one his main motivations (https://goo.gl/QDYC6b) and Kevin Jones, in a TED Talk, says it’s the key to science and medicine: https://goo.gl/VINRUU. Yet, we frequently admonish each other (and our children) that “curiosity killed the cat” (https://goo.gl/TJCleM) as a warning not to exhibit or even give in to the temptation.

Yet psychologists say it can “light up our lives” - https://goo.gl/Ef95ja, while still debating whether it is something that originates within us, or a response of our minds to the outside world: https://goo.gl/HWHIhy.

Curiosity certainly has some very strong practical effects. Google sees it as key to creativity (https://goo.gl/MWTnO7) and, of course, it also leads to conversions in selling: https://goo.gl/2rq0QX. In other cases, curiosity has led us to pursue scientific research that has provided surprising insights about our past: https://goo.gl/uyy9Id.

With the help of neuroscience we are beginning, by degrees, to get a better handle on it, though it is still very early days: https://goo.gl/lsEMd5. Now, obviously, for something so universally acknowledged as to be part of the human condition curiosity has to be a trait that confers some evolutionary advantages: https://goo.gl/tjkOg. As a trait in children (https://goo.gl/3dy27A) the argument goes, helps in their cognitive and psychological development: https://goo.gl/d8AoTr.

Being curious, it would appear, changes the way the brain behaves and how it then structures itself: https://goo.gl/gbnGXP. And it can make us link up some of the most unlikely sources of information, to our benefit. It was curiosity, for example, that led to The Sniper Mind coming about: https://goo.gl/PD8yG0.

We’ve began to understand that the curiosity we exhibit as adults is different from that of children: https://goo.gl/DtDdQ4 but still a complete definition defies us, and our understanding is far from detailed. Nevertheless we continue to try to cultivate curiosity: https://goo.gl/89pX7a and are only just now beginning to understand the full scale of its effects in philosophy: https://goo.gl/5sJrqn.

And amidst all this scientific evidence consider the opinion of a seemingly ordinary person, like +George Kozi who can so accurately encapsulate what the psychologists and researchers are trying to measure and quantify, in a simple, ruminating, self-reflective post: https://goo.gl/BVOuhg.

Do we lose our curiosity? If so does it have other, much deeper effects? People at Quora are trying hard to define this: https://goo.gl/zUet0t even as evidence emerges that curiosity is as important, at least, as intelligence: https://goo.gl/5G9wSa.

I have always been curious. About everything. It was something that people in my youth tried to warn me about. Following my curiosity, they said, would make me lose focus. It would leave me chasing a thousand rabbits down as many rabbit holes. They were right. The world, I realized soon enough, was full of rabbits and rabbit holes and each of them contained delights of the mind and heart that I was simply unwilling to not experience.

As a species our story is far from told. How far we go. What we eventually do, I suspect, will hinge upon the amount of curiosity we can leverage in life.
I hope you’ve been curious enough to chase down every link and follow all the little trails each unfolds for you. You have, of course, plenty of coffee and chocolate donuts, cookies, croissants and chocolate cake. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are. 
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When in Texas ... Find out what an armadillo jockey is and take a picture with the armadillo when you don't win.
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So we had way too much fun in the marketing department today :D 
Because engineers never pass up the chance to nerd out!

#MaytheFourth of our NW-44 Engine be with you today!

#MaytheFourthbewithyou
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