Tag Archives: Interview

My Life, The Movie: An Interview with Patrick Muldoon

By Lizzy Sebuck

Sometimes the staff at Occam’s Taser just gets really, ridiculously lucky (it’s probably because of our dashing good looks). This week we were fortunate enough to speak with Patrick Muldoon, a Chicagoan who works in the film industry. For this interview we picked at Patrick’s noggin about his experiences helping to create some of the most known films of the past ten years. Working as a Locations Manager, Patrick has worked on the sets of major blockbuster films including the masterpiece The Dark Knight. Want to know how Patrick got into the film industry? Would you believe us if we told you paper products and copy machines played a small role? Read on.

Occam’s Taser: So what exactly is your job, Patrick?
Patrick Muldoon:  I am a Location Manager in Chicago. I work as a freelance employee and I work with the Illinois Film Office on some projects.

OT:  Where did you go to school, and what did you study?
PM: I graduated from Loyola University and worked at Xerox right out of school selling copiers. I ended up going back to school to get a 2nd degree in television from Columbia College and from there I started working on independent films here in Chicago.

OT: What have been your favorite projects?  A little birdie told me you’ve worked on some pretty cool sets…
PM: I was fortunate enough to work on projects such as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Public Enemies, and most recently Transformers 3.

OT: Xerox to The Dark Knight? Awesome transition. So what was your role in producing those films?
PM: Basically, when a studio plans to do a movie in Chicago they put together a crew and the Location Department is the first on the project. They send me a script and I breakdown the locations and start scouting for them. I will give the Production Designer and Director pictures of various locations and they pick a few possibilities. For example if a scene calls for a house I will scout 10-20 houses and send them pictures. They would pick a few to see in person.  I would take them to the locations and they would decide which one to film in. From there I negotiate a legal agreement and location fee with the owner. During these negotiations I develop a relationship with the owner which will help when the preparation and filming of the location occurs.

OT: Whoa! Your job is all over the place. Any other responsibilities?
PM: Many times it will take weeks for the Art Department and Set Decorators to make a location ready for filming. When it gets close to the shoot day I am responsible for obtaining permits from the city, hiring security to watch the trucks and equipment and hiring Police to assist with the shoot.  I also have to find a place for the crew members to park and rent out a nearby space for the caterer to set up for lunch. As you can see there is a lot that goes into my job and I am usually part of a department (5 or 6 of us split up the work). There are many other things that come up that are unique to each location.

OT: What do you consider to be the best part about your job?
PM: It’s interesting to be part of the creative process and scouting the city with different directors. They all have different styles and processes. The most rewarding part of my job is to see a movie I worked on and see the different locations I found.

OT: Patrick, you have the coolest job ever. Any current projects you want to let us know about?
PM:  I am currently working on a television series called The Chicago Code.  It is shot entirely in Chicago and will begin to air on Fox in February.

Working in the film industry isn’t reserved for the Landsberg-theorists of the world. Patrick Muldoon has done a pretty awesome job making a career out of something he clearly loves to do. From helping pick out set locations, to working with the Art Departments on designing the ideal atmosphere for each scene, Patrick Muldoon has helped shape some of the highest grossing films of the past decade. Let’s just hope that he’s not left with any twisted prosthetic memories from his work on films like The Dark Knight keeping him up at night. “Why so serious?”, you ask? We have a hard enough time sleeping at night remembering Heath Ledger’s performance, let alone the repressed memories of him in a nurse’s outfit.


Interview: An Insider’s Take On Tanning

By Daniella Lee

Vitamin D is the secret steroid that provides benefits such as a longer, healthier life and overall happiness. But when the sun sets and the winter cold creeps up, the recommended intake for Vitamin D might be a little difficult to reach. A possible solution: tanning salons. Now, we’re not suggesting you turn into Snooki, but she may be onto something. This week, we sat down with Melina Vincent, an employee at Halsted Tan and Spa to find out if tanning salons can provide you with that extra vitamin D you need to get through the winter.

Occam’s Taser: What tanning services are offered at Halsted Tan and Spa?
Melina Vincent: We offer UVA tanning (helps eliminate burning), UVB and UVA, and our spray tan which is called Versa.  All the UV beds we have include base level, mid level and high level and both stand ups and lay downs in each.

OT: Tell us about the different levels of tanning?
MV: Base level is equivalent to a level 3 or level 4, it will give you a good base color tan without making you too dark.  Mid-level is the next up and includes more intense face and shoulder tanners.  It’s a stronger voltage and has more bulbs in the bed so you get a deeper tan and after a few visits you look like you came back from vacation.  Our high-level beds are a good way to get color right away that stays for a few days without doing the versa spa.  It’s a higher voltage than both the base level and mid level and has more beds than all of them.  We have two beds imported from Italy that are Strictly UVA so if someone who is fairer complected and wanted to go in a high level bed they can go in one of these beds and still receive all the benefits of the high level bed without burning.

OT: How does your salon offer Vitamin D?
MV: Because each bed is the newest technology it makes sure to give you a safe tan with your daily amount of Vitamin D.  We also offer deals like $2 tan coupons, $5 tans every Tuesday, and $10 on any bed (including our $32 high level bed) after 9pm Tues-Thurs. to promote UV tanning and Vitamin D Nutrition.

OT: What are the major side effects of tanning?
MV: To much exposure or burning is something we see very often, people will come in and want to do a strong bed for the full time and they haven’t been in the sun so their melanin is still “sleeping” and although we warn them they still tend to burn.  Also, a side effect could be wrinkles at an early age ONLY if you abuse your tanning privileges and have been doing it for many many years.

OT: What are the benefits of tanning?
MV: Vitamin D is the biggest benefit because studies have shown that people who have the required amount of vitamin D daily and or weekly are healthier than those who are not.  Also, you get a nice color and look healthy.

OT: What do you recommend at your salon?
MV: I recommend trying the UVA bed because it’s very uncommon for a salon to have it. If you have an upcoming special event, try the Versa Spa Spray because it is the newest spray tan technology. It’s a sugar based solution, not an iodine base,  so it won’t turn your skin orange.

OT: How does Halsted Tan and Spa promote tanning?
MV: We promote tanning in the safest way possible, we make sure every client goes into the room with eye-wear and we encourage them to have lotion to moisturize their skin. We also have many many options, so between packages and specials and beds a customer can really come in and customize exactly what they want to do. We advertise a healthy glow during the winter and promote Vitamin D benefits.

Tanning salons can be your resource for that healthy glow and your vitamin D fix. Now, we aren’t recommending that you turn into an Oompa-Loompa, but the occasional drop-in won’t hurt. Before you head into any salon, get to know all the facts. Melina and the tanning world like to look at the benefits of the tanning bed, but there is a dark side. UVA rays go deep into the skin creating that nice golden brown tan, but provide no Vitamin D production. UVB rays are the ones that stimulate the vitamin D production, but also burns your skin easily. And we all know that tanning increases your risk for skin cancer. Halsted Tan and Spa does offers great deals, if the tanning bed is suddenly calling your name, so you can glow even in the winter snow.

The Composed Composer: An Interview with Nikolas Lund

by Margo Ruter & Peter Muller

Music has a special effect on our emotional landscape. The Swedes uncorked that mystery for us earlier this week. When we hear music, we adjust our feelings to the mood of the song, but not all of us remain on the receiving end of the treble clef. Nikolas Lund for example, performs, composes, arranges, produces, and promotes music while also running a recording studio and dabbling in acting. Occam’s Taser stole a meter of his time and asked him how he felt on the matter of mood, emotion and music.

Occam’s Taser: I guess we’ll start with the obvious. How did you initially get into music?
Nikolas Lund: I come from a family with a lot of music in it. My Dad played the guitar professionally, performing with a number of bands in Champaign, Illinois while I was growing up. He was able to jump between a lot of different styles of music, so I was able to see the same musician function in many different capacities. Now that I’m older, I understand the level of talent needed to be able to do that, but at the time it seemed like a very natural progression between different styles. It exposed me to a lot of difference within the field at a very early age.

OT: Did he pass down any specific knowledge?
NL: Besides exposing me to a lot of different musicians and records, he taught me to play the guitar. I remember him helping me strum through the Pink Floyd song “Wish You Were Here.” I still remember it exactly as I learned it too.

OT: Have you had formal musical training?
NL: Not really. When I was 16, I moved from the guitar to playing the piano. It was a primarily self-guided study. I had a few odd tutors here and there: a man who taught purely via what I’d call “poetics”; and another that wouldn’t even have me pick up an instrument during lessons. Again, being older now I understand what they were trying to teach me: that playing music is a much deeper experience than just knowing how to read music and learning the notes.

OT: So you do know how to read music?
NL: Yes. And more importantly even: How to notate it with precision. I’ve made it a point to hone the skill. It’s proven an extremely helpful ability to have while interacting with all these different types of players. My mother also had a musical background, and she was actually the first one to write out the notes of the treble and bass clefs for me, onto an index card which I still occasionally reference.

OT: Your parents seem to have been a major inspiration for your musical career. How about the rest of your family?
NL: I’d say both sides of my family are very musically oriented. They all really like music. When we get together, the discussions often involve music, new artists, recent concerts, etc. Certainly not all my family members are musicians, but they all seem to have an affinity for music on a broad scale.

OT: Did you always know you wanted to be a musician?
NL: Definitely not. I went to Trinity College (in Hartford, Connecticut) so that I could, as I stated it at the time, “learn how to write.” I played the piano frequently in my time there, sometimes just messing around, sometimes writing songs, but a career in music never really occurred to me. In my senior year, I had a substantial epiphany that put it all into perspective. In short, I finally realized that no matter what I pursued, I was dependent on music for my very understanding of the world, and that I would always return to it. I finished my degree in Philosophy and Modern Languages (French and German) and then moved directly to NYC to be a “starving artist.” Nevertheless, I wound up “eating” a little too much of the buffet, lasted 2 years, and then moved to Chicago in 2007.

OT: What have you been up to since returning to Chicago?
NL: Well, a little or a lot of everything: performing, composing, arranging other people’s music, running a recording studio, producing, promoting, and some acting. Much of my time now is devoted to my work in an artist’s collective called APTPA. It stands for: Artist Public Trust / Thinking Power America. We’re working to establish a broad network of artists, musicians, and performers, through the staging of elaborate events. Our last show was in an old house in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and it was quite lively. I had a photographer at my feet while I was playing and others huddled around the piano. Sort of wild. I’ve got a show coming up now that’ll have me playing at a cabaret.

OT: Would you classify your musical work as belonging to a certain genre?
NL: It’s definitely not concerned with or indicative of any genres that I know about. I’m just trying to take everything that seems important into a new world.

OT: We recently featured a study that discussed the alteration of a listener’s emotional landscape based on the music they listened to. Do you consider emotions and music to go hand in hand?
NL: When you’re dealing with emotions and music, it’s everything vs. nothing. Once you allow a few emotions to come through, you’re dealing with them in relation to the rest of your feelings or you’re not dealing with them at all. On a good day, I can have a one-on-one correspondence between the, let’s say, “soul” and the piano. Some days, I feel like I barely know anything. One thing to remember is that mood is different from emotion. Mood is primeval. Mood determines the frame for the experience of emotion, which leads somewhere else in the same stream. If that makes sense?

OT: Does your music tend to express a current mood?
NL: To a certain extent, yes. In order to learn and progress, I usually record myself practicing. When I go back and listen, I can often pinpoint events in my personal history that influenced how I was feeling at the time. There are sometimes unexpected correspondences between the mood and the state. I’ve written some fairly bright and affirmative music in periods of extreme personal upset or misery. Of course, I’ve also written some stuff in that sort of state that comes out sounding upset and miserable.

OT: You have that degree in English. Do you ever put lyrics to your music?
NL: Oh yeah, all the time. But it’s so hard to write lyrics in English! For example, in French, the word “love” rhymes with over 50 other words, but in English, it only rhymes with four. How am I supposed to work with that?

OT: It’s commonly thought that musicians express a lot of emotion in their music. Are you able to understand emotions and moods in the music you listen to?
NL: Well, I’ve come to the realization that I’m on a long journey and that I’m going to continue to find myself in a lot of new and different places. I think that “getting better” at making music, for me, actually has a lot to do with the ability to control my emotions; or better yet, with the ability to be more comfortable with them as they are being experienced. In a “for good or for bad” kind of situation, I simply prefer the “for.” Otherwise I feel paralyzed. I think I’ll write much better music as I become less and less ego-heavy. With that in mind, I should be getting “good” any day now!

OT: Any favorites?
NL: I think The Beatles had more fun in the 20th Century than anyone. They were the quintessential “band”. John Lennon suffered from extreme emotions, but was capable of writing very emotionless music. And then there’s Paul McCartney. A cooler character seemingly, but the one who wrote “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude.” Aside from that, it would be a vast understatement to say that there’s a lot of different stuff I’m into. The new Sufjan Stevens album is absolutely extraordinary.

Nikolas’ artist collective, APTPA (www.aptpa.com) is doing some pretty amazing stuff. We suggest going to see them perform if you’re in the Chicago area. The Arts rely on the support of fans. Between his unique training and professional expertise, Lund helped us compose a perfect coda to this week’s research.

How To Stand Out In Your Career: An Interview With Someone Like You

By Katie Gangloff

Emotional intelligence: the next big thing to have when trying to stand out to potential employers. How do you figure out how much emotional intelligence you have? When you figure that out, how do you know if you’re using it for the right reasons? Jonathan Rosenthal is a young professional trying to start a career in this tough economy. Recently graduating with a Master of Healthcare Administration degree, Jon tells us about his hopes and dreams and we find out what he wants to be when he grows up. Although Jon is not an expert on emotional intelligence, or EI, it is always great to get some insight from the average Joe about using emotional intelligence to our advantage.

Occam’s Taser: What type of job are you looking to get with your degree?
Jonathan Rosenthal:  Ideally, I’d love to obtain a manager or supervisor position dealing with operations or quality and safety within a large healthcare system in Chicago; however, realistically, I’ll be glad to have an entry level position in any field at any healthcare venue within the Chicagoland area.

OT: Are you willing to take any job in this economy, or are you still sticking only to fields within your degree?
JR:  My graduate program prepared me for a mid-level position in the industry, but with the economy still recovering and full-time jobs at a premium, I’ll settle for anything at this point.  With several applications out to various organizations (not all are degree related) for a variety of position types (entry level and mid-level) and no responses after months of waiting, I may have to consider less attractive options to remain employed for the time being.  I won’t be selling myself short though, because I’ll still pursue a more permanent (career-focused) job in the meantime.

OT: What other areas are you interested in? Given your background, do you think you can find a job in a different field?
JR:  I have a secondary passion for student affairs/academic affairs at a higher-ed institution (such as universities and colleges).  For the past 4 1/2 years I’ve been heavily involved in the New Student and Parent Orientation Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).  In addition, I’ve participated in numerous other student development groups/programs/positions at UIC broadening my scope and boosting my interest in the field.  With so much of my undergraduate and graduate life spent working for these areas, I have a strong background in student affairs and academic affairs, and feel confident that I could find a job in this field.  In fact, I have submitted applications for full-time permanent positions in this industry just in case my pursuit of a healthcare career falls short.

OT: This week we learned about emotional intelligence in the workplace. EI is the ability to control your emotions and utilize them when working in groups toward a universal goal. Is this something you are aware of in your current job?
JR:  This is something that I regularly do, whether I’m conscious of it or not. I never really thought much of it until you posed this question, so I guess I wasn’t aware of it in my current job.  However, when someone in one of my working groups is unable to control their emotions, the impact of that is definitely felt and it is always negative.  Being emotionally intelligent seems very necessary and professional, so having this ability will only enhance work performance and team effort.

OT: Do you think you are doing a good job of controlling your emotions and utilizing them for a common goal?
JR: Due to my student development mindset and work setting, it is essential for me to foster and maintain an environment that is motivational, supportive, and team centric.  To do this, I must be emotionally intelligent and set the example.  I think that I do a good job of controlling my emotions in the work place and using them for the common good.  However, I’m generally a calm, cool, and collected person, so being emotionally unrestricted would be out of character for me.

OT: You mentioned that you are applying for jobs right now. How do you think you stand out in the job pool with your high level of EI?
JR: I find it difficult to translate emotional intelligence into meaning on a resume or cover letter, but it is very useful during an interview.  Emotional intelligence will help candidates exude confidence allowing them to shine in an interview.  Controlling your emotions and focusing that energy into well constructed, honest, real responses speaks volumes in an interview setting.  Candidates who can present themselves professionally and profoundly without losing meaning or emotional connection will definitely have a one-up on other candidates.  This is what I strive to do in my application package. Constructing powerful and purposeful resumes and cover letters coupled with a personal touch during an interview is a great way to snag a job.

All in all, the ability to control your emotions and understand those of your co-workers tends to result in better job performance and, more importantly, can help you dominate in the workplace. Setting an example is easy if you are emotionally intelligent. For Jon, being emotionally intelligent is a necessity. Being aware of your emotional intelligence can get you ahead in the workplace and help you stand out. If you are an aspiring careerist fresh out of school, don’t forget to outwit fellow applicants with your sharp emotional intelligence.

A Word With The Wise

By: Daniella Lee

in the Parlor

Words: We combine them to form sentences, paragraphs and papers in order to convey meaning and emotion. Some of the best word nerds, authors, poets and the staff at Occam’s create stories with words. Would writings be as memorable if they were written using “textism”? We’ll never know. But if Shakespeare wrote “2b er naw 2b tht iz da ?” we doubt anyone would take him seriously. Patricia Harkin’s interest in the power of language led her to pursue Ph.Ds in English and Communication. Currently a Dean and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Patty took time out to sit down with Occam’s Taser to discuss the importance of formal writing skills and language in the classroom.

Occam’s Taser: How did you know you wanted to study English?
PH: I was a teenager when John Kennedy was inaugurated, and his best speeches–or, as we now know, Ted Sorensen’s, were profoundly moving to me. “Ask not what your country can do for you; rather ask what you can do for your country” and phrases like it were a rallying call for my generation. Those stirring phrases gave way to more pithy ones:  “make love not war,” for example. Such political uses of language really did change things for me. Witty, apt, use of language can have political effects. They prompted people to join the peace corps and/or to protest the (Vietnam) war. I became an English teacher and a writer because I wanted to be part of that. Even today, when people quote me in print, it’s a thrill.  Language is an instrument for moving people. That’s why I keep doing what I’m doing.


OT: What do you think is the primary difference between formal and informal writing?
PH: The situationally appropriate use of formal language makes it likely that the discourse will achieve its purpose.  But not every piece of writing tends ALWAYS to be perfectly “correct” and “formal.” “Hell, no, we won’t go” was pretty effective as anti-war rhetoric, too.  It’s important to me that when and if a piece of writing DOES break convention, it does so self-consciously, rather than simply through carelessness.

OT: What kind of changes have you seen in writing practices?
PH: I noticed after email became prevalent was a tendency to condense messages, especially by omitting context.  For example, a traditional business letter might say “In response to your inquiry of November 1”; an email might just answer the question, e.g., “yes, go ahead.”  Such practices might cause confusion.  But people got used to them pretty quickly.

OT: Have you noticed changes in writing skills due to the growing popularity of texting?
PH: The absence of punctuation. Students have pretty much always chosen not to bother with (say) semicolon/comma conventions, but until recently, they’ve pretty much always ended sentences with periods. Not any more. So, since context might already be missing, the lack of punctuation can really cause confusion. And that confusion calls for more email messages, to correct the misapprehension of the first message.

Now, what bothers me most in emails from students is an absence of context–why is this message being sent?  What’s the problem it’s intended to solve? My sense is that the immediacy of electronic communication tends to encourage people to write or text BEFORE they think a problem or a question through. We’ll all probably get used to sentences that don’t have terminal punctuation.  But the absence of context is a question of writing ABILITY.  If you’re gong to be clear, you need to establish a context.

OT: Do you think this will affect how we communicate with one another?
PH: It may be that our fast changing world will soon make “context” dispensable as well.  If the context is likely to change in seconds, it may not be necessary to establish one.  But I think it will be a while before that happens, because there are economic and political consequences of misunderstanding.

OT: “A recent study found that more texting can  have negative impacts on formal writing skills. Have you noticed a change in our generation’s formal writing skills?”
PH: Yes, but not so much BECAUSE of electronic communication practices as because of the desire for speed that these practices reflect.  And speed almost certainly leads to what Fredric Jameson calls “depthlessness.” In other words, I don’t mind at all if somebody says that she thinks a situation is gr8t.  But I am bothered if she doesn’t think about whether it’s great for everybody or just gr8t for her, at the moment.

OT: The researchers suggest because of the findings, a new form of writing in the English Language will form. What do you think about this statement?
PH: I think they are absolutely right. We’ve seen these changes before.  It used to be considered inappropriate (if not “wrong”) to use contractions.   And we used to be much more particular about pronouns (who/whom, for example) than we are now.  I truly believe the the age of the semicolon is basically over.  Language changes.  There’s no point in trying to stop those changes.  First, we can’t.  Next, we shouldn’t.  Language needs to change.

OT: What aspect of writing papers do students struggle the most with?
PH: Sentence structure–absolutely!  But, to be honest, I wouldn’t call what my students do “struggling”; I’d call it not bothering. Here, too, texting conventions probably do play a part. Linguists make a distinction between written (formal) language and spoken language.   For example, when you’re waiting at a bus stop, you can say”coming” and most of your audience (the other folks at the bus stop) will grasp your meaning.  But if you’re writing to an absent audience, a one-word message like that will not get the job done.  Texting, I think, collapses the distinction between spoken and written messages.  It’s a written message that acts like a spoken one. Hence, students who are used to texting have a diminished awareness of context.  They now tend to write more run-on sentences and produce more misplaced and dangling modifiers.  These constructions are not a problem, usually, in spoken language, but they really can hide or change meaning in important written messages for multiple, absent and varying audiences.

Whatever your career, the context in your writing needs to be clear for your reader. Texting has changed the way we communicate with each other and we tend to lose substance because of it. Next time when you’re sending an e-mail make sure you use your periods and your words to get the message across. Text lingo may be great with your friends, but never in professional settings. Wuld any1 tke u sriusly if u wrte lyk dis?

To Shop, Or Not To Shop: An Interview with an Expert

by Lizzy Sebuck

We all go a little crazy during the shopping season. Have you been wondering why you felt like you needed to spend $400 on that hot pair jeans last week? There really is no excuse for spending that much, and we’re here to tell you why. If you need an intervention, you’re about to get one; meet Nicole Tarandy-Whalen; a school psychologist with over twenty years of experience in the field of Psychology. Nicole took the time to sit down with Occam’s Taser and discuss Cohen-Zada and Sander ‘s research findings in their study about the relationship between materialism and unhappiness. In this special interview, we get a further understanding of why our emotions go into a frenzy as soon as we start swiping that Mastercard, or better yet, why we can’t stop swiping. In this interview, Nicole explains why shopping can be destructive to the psyche and how the holiday season can effect moods and behaviors.

Occam’s Taser: What kind of emotions do people experience when they shop, or furthermore, when they earn and spend money?
Nicole Tarandy-Whalen: I think people feel a great deal of pride and accomplishment when they earn money and spend money. People feel generally happy to be able to buy the things they need or want. On the other hand, many people buy things they can’t afford and often end up in debt. This can cause negative feelings due to anxiety and stress from owing money and not being able to pay bills.  This is a two sided question with no correct answer as some people just LOVE to shop and would go shopping everyday if they could, while others HATE shopping and avoid it at all costs.  So I guess it really depends on the personality of the shopper and if they generally enjoy the task or dread it.

OT: Are the findings by Cohen-Zada and Sander just a unique case or is there really a correlation between money and unhappiness? Why/Why not?
NTW: I don’t believe there is truly a correlation between money and unhappiness. First of all, people who do a lot of shopping don’t necessarily have lots of money. If they just looked at net income and overall happiness then they might be able to conclude the correlation between money and unhappiness.

OT: So is it more so money and/or materialism that brings unhappiness or is it other behaviors that stem from having money that leads to unhappiness? ‘Cause the boy with the cold hard cash is always Mr. Right.
NTW: I believe that materialism is what leads to unhappiness not necessarily money. By and large, money buys happiness only for those who lack the basic needs. Once you pass an income of $50,000, more money doesn’t buy much happiness.

In fact, the more money you make doesn’t necessarily make you happier.  It is extremely difficult to escape materialism in our society. Often people purchase items they can’t afford.  There are so many loan stores and so many living on credit no wonder those who shop (and appear to have money) are unhappy. Most people are living way beyond their means which is extremely stressful leading to unhappiness and depression.  (There are some good tips in the link above to help one escape materialism. )

If a study really wants to look at the correlation between money and happiness they need to look at how much money one has (not how much shopping they do) and determine how happy they are.  I like this study because it does just that AND it looks at 2 types of happiness, day to day happiness and happiness with overall life satisfaction.

OT:What about shopping for others and not for yourself (it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas), does that influence the shopper’s individual moods and behaviors?
NTW: Well it depends. There is no simple answer and differs from person to person.  Some who feel content with their bodies love to shop and get new and fun clothes. Others who are not so happy with their bodies dread shopping.  Some people are inclined to shop and LOVE to shop for others. They enjoy trying to find the perfect gift that another would just love and appreciate. Again others dread having to shop for others as it is a burden.  If you are shopping for a spouse or boy/girl friend, one might enjoy shopping. Yet that same person may hate shopping for an office mate or family member.  So depending on who and why you are shopping your mood and behavior is definitely effected.

OT: Most women love to shop, is shopping more negative when it is done alone or in a group? Are there any emotional pros/cons to shopping alone or with a friend? (Say shopping again. Shopping.)
NTW: I think it could be more negative when done as a group. If you are alone, you can go where ever, when ever and take your time without someone rushing you or taking extra time in one store when you just want to move on.  Sometimes others will give you their opinion when you really don’t want it. I think shopping alone is best so you can “worry about yourself” and no one else. If you want another opinion then you could bring someone back another time to get their opinion. Group shopping could be fun for younger people as it is a social activity but when you have a purpose and an idea of what you are looking for, a friend or a group can slow you down and actually disrupt the situation. Although there could be some bonding especially with young girls/women, there are more cons to shopping with a friend or a group than there are shopping alone. If you are alone, you can do exactly what you want.

OT: So can a person have a lot of money and still be truly happy? What is the difference between this kind of person and the unhappy shopper Cohen-Zada and Sander researched?
NTW: Definitely a person can have a lot of money and still be truly happy.  Also, there are people with very little money who are truly happy, right?   It seems in the study those who were truly happy attended church more often and those who were unhappy attended church less and possibly shopped instead.  Just because they shopped doesn’t mean they had lots of money either.  Often people who shop and buy lots of things, shouldn’t as they don’t have the means to pay for their purchases, often causing more stress and unhappiness.  Also, I think they said or something I read said that purchasing things and shopping may cause happiness for the moment/day (immediate gratification) whereas going to church and not shopping lead to more sustained happiness in the long run.
OT: So what they say is true, money can’t buy you happiness?
NTW: I would have to say NO money can’t buy happiness.  Think of one of your not-so-joyous negative friends.  Now think of them with lots of money.  Either way, they are still your not-so-joyous negative friend just with some money now.  That may boost their spirits for a bit but if they don’t change their thoughts and behavior, money won’t change it either. I wonder if “money can’t buy you love”.  Now I am going to look at some research about that

OT: With the holidays approaching, do you think a person’s emotion, mood, or behavior could have a heightened effect with extra shopping looming ahead?
NTW: The holidays definitely have an effect on a persons emotions, mood, and behavior.  Although the holidays seem to be associated with happiness, especially in children, stress also is prevalent primarily in adults.  The “holiday blues” often refers to feelings many adults feel around the holidays.  Stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over commercialism, inability to be with family and friends (or even the ability TO be with your entire family), and inability to be two places at the same time, all effect ones emotions and feelings.  This definitely has a physiological effect on your thoughts and your body responds.  These thoughts and situations directly change your bodies chemistry.

OT: So Nicole, how can we survive the holidays and the mayhem that is holiday shopping?

  • Set realistic goals for the holiday like what you can feasibly do and can’t do.
  • Leave “yester-year” in the past and look only toward the future.
  • The holidays aren’t always about being with people but also spending time for yourself. “Worry about yourself”, I love that saying!
  • Limit drinking and overeating to keep your mind and body fresh and healthy.
  • Sleep consistently and enough but not too much.  Get up at a regular time on the weekends even if you don’t have to work to keep your body’s clock regulated.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people and avoid those who bring you down.
  • Meet a new friend or contact some old friends you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Find some time to relax.  Everyone is so busy especially during the holiday season.  We need to put the to-do list away for a bit and find some time to just relax.
  • Focusing on your social, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being is the key.

So there you have it. Nicole believes that the research regarding happiness and shopping don’t exactly go hand in hand. Shopping can be an enjoyable activity, but it is pre-developed personality traits that determine how a person will react to wealth and material goods. To really be happy and survive the holidays you’ve got to take care of yourself physically and mentally to maintain sanity Sorry ladies, but if one of your biggest worries is that you’re just in like with your Sketchers, but in love with your Prada backpack, we’re here to tell you that neither will really bring you happiness anyways.This time of year can make just about anyone a little loopy, and at Occam’s Taser we’re here to remind you; try not to turn into a greedy Grinch this holiday season and to just keep it cool; it’s the best way to stay smiling.

Add Some Muscle To Your Mind: An Interview With An Occupational Therapist

by Katie Gangloff

Occupational Therapist

This week we learned how exercise increases brain activity. Everyone always makes a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, which most of the time falls out shortly after Valentine’s Day. Some people even start to exercise right before beach body season. Now, you have a good excuse to exercise, come on, who doesn’t want to have beauty and brains?

This week we interviewed Amanda Rosenthal, an occupational therapist who specializes in pediatrics. She’s a certified Peak Pilates instructor and a work-out fanatic. She finds the time to workout because it makes her feel good and gives her energy to go about her day. She certainly needs the energy because she recently had her first baby girl, Annabelle. As we talked we discovered some of the benefits of working out, and found out Amanda’s favorite ways to get fit.

Occam’s Taser: Tell me about your work-out regiment.
Amanda Rosenthal: I have been working out all my life.  My mom is a fitness instructor and personal trainer so she kept us all active while we were growing up and I was in sports in high school. I really got more into working out when I was in college. I was inspired to be in better shape just to look good in a bathing suit. So that is when I started making it a daily habit and now I am addicted. Working out gives me energy for the busy days and makes me feel good. I feel more positive when I work out which is actually the endorphins kicking in but the positive attitude lasts all day!

OT: What types of working out benefit you the most personally? Cardio, Pilates, Yoga, etc…
AR: All together! I need the Pilates for strengthening and lengthening, yoga for strength and detoxing, cardio for endurance and detoxing. You cannot just do one type of work out and expect to be in good shape.

OT: Do you do anything out of the ordinary or have strange workout habits or strange exercise tips?
AR: Not really strange just mixing it up. There all sorts of fun workouts from dancing like Zumba, Pilates with the reformer, Birkram Yoga (Hot Yoga), spin classes to burlesque workouts! So I think it is a great idea to have fun working out!

OT: Are there any exercise tips you tell your kids to do that might benefit the older generation?
AR: Exercise is so important for kids. Mostly I talk with parents about giving their kids more opportunities to be active.  Don’t carry them, let them walk! Go to the park, take walks, ride bikes and so on. Don’t let your children sit on the couch for most of the day. Their bodies and brains grow and learn while they are moving. I also highly recommend a version of the sun salutation for those children, and adults, with a lot of energy. They do this routine a few times before they have to sit for a long period of time to increase focus.

OT: What is a good workout regimen for people of all shapes and sizes?
AR: Doing strength exercises 3 times a week and cardio 2 to 3 times a week for a half an hour each. New research is showing that you don’t have to work out long to get in shape. The optimal way to do cardio is to do 30 seconds of high intensity aerobics with 90 seconds of recovery for 7 cycles. That adds up to even less than a half hour! Don’t forget to do strength, when you have more muscle you burn more calories.

OT: This week we found out that cardio improves brain function. Have you heard that before? If not, why do you think it is true?
AR: Yes. Of course you are improving blood flow to every area of the body when you exercise, including the brain.

OT: What are some benefits of a treadmill versus an elliptical. We’ve all seen those elliptical commercials about walking on sand!
AR: Both can be a great way of working out. Treadmills provide impact which can assist with building stronger bones but could also cause joint injury. The best way to work out on a treadmill is to do a brisk walking on an increasing incline. So go from and incline of 2 to 4 to 6 to 8 to 10 and so on and back down. This gives you great cardio and is less harsh on your joints than running, just don’t cheat by holing on while you are walking! The elliptical takes out the impact and adds in the arms.  You have to move at a good pace on it though in order to get a good workout. Going slowly while watching TV is not going to do much.

OT: For someone with a busy schedule, how do you suggest they fit an effective workout into their day?
AR: It’s easy to slip it in throughout the day. Park at the back of the parking lot, go up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, sit on a ball instead of a chair when you are working or on the computer. I like to slip in some push-ups, squats and leg lifts while I am waiting for the washing machine to fill. Then when you have a half an hour do a quick video, or do the cardio cycle I suggested earlier.

Work Out

OT: Could you elaborate on the pros or cons of working out with a buddy versus working out alone?
AR: Buddies are great! If you have a hard time getting motivated, pair up with someone who likes to work out.  People who have a work out buddy may find they are more willing to work out more often. However, your buddy has to be there to work out not to chat. If you are too busy talking, you are not working hard enough! Some people may find that they can work out harder and faster without someone else slowing them down.  So it is definitely a personal preference whether your workout buddy is another person or your i-pod! Another good option is to join in a group fitness class like spin, Zumba or Pilates. They are motivating and make the work out go by faster.

Workout Friend

OT: Did you ever enter the aerobic craze of the early 90s?!
AR: I was pretty young at the time but my mom was all about it! She actually did teach a children’s fitness class which I was a part of. We worked out to “Vogue” by Madonna! Good times.


OT: What are some benefits of cardio that people may not know about?
AR: Cardio has been found to be very effective in helping with depression and anxiety. So if you feel down or stressed, instead of grabbing a movie and some ice cream, go for a walk or turn up the music and dance. You will feel better for it. Even though working out can use a lot of energy, you will actually have more energy throughout the day and then sleep better at night if you make exercise a habit.

There you have it; cardio gives you energy, makes you happy, can be done with a buddy, or your iPod, and increases brain function. If you’re looking for an awesome song to workout to and are looking for a throwback, check out “Lets Get Physical” by Olivia Newton John. And don’t forget, squats, push-ups,  and leg lifts are awesome exercises to do while waiting for the laundry or even while your watching your favorite T.V. shows. Zap!