Meditate With Me

2020 has thrown a lot of uncertainty our way.

We don’t know when we can film with our hosts in our studio again.

We don’t know when the air will clear from the fires in LA so we can enjoy the outdoors again.

We don’t know when we’ll be able to go to conferences and see our colleagues again.

We don’t know when we can visit friends and loved ones again.

It’s so easy to fall into patterns of thinking like this, agonizing over the time we’ve lost and worrying about the future. Meditation is really the cure for what ails us, because it helps you focus on the here and now.

Meditation/ Mindfulness has become a bit of a fad lately, especially in Silicon Valley. But meditation has been around for thousands of years, as part of the Hindu and Buddhist traditional practices. It’s hardly a new invention, but if it helps people to treat it like a new discovery, I don’t have a problem with that. Maybe by making YouTube videos and meditation apps, more people will discover meditation as a way to find peace.

Are you reluctant to try meditation?

Whatever it is holding you back, I’ll bet you anything it’s not a good reason. You don’t have to practice the religions that include meditation in their traditions. You don’t have to do meditation the way it’s shown on TV and in the movies. You don’t have to be in good shape or have a peaceful outlook on life already. You don’t have to look a certain way or act a certain way.

Anyone can do meditation.

It’s all about finding what works for you.

Meditation just requires you to do one thing: pick something to focus on. If you get distracted (and you will, that’s natural, and it’s kind of the whole point), you re-focus. That’s it. That’s all there is to it! Meditation is a way to exercise your mental muscles, developing your ability to focus.

I’ve noticed that in most videos and apps that teach meditation, they start with breath work. This is the technique used in “Zazen” meditation. You sit in the lotus position and focus on your breath – inhale, hold, exhale, hold. This works just fine for me, until my broken-down knees start barking. But I know that for many people, focusing on their breath actually causes anxiety. So they give up and think they can’t meditate.

You don’t have to meditate in this exact way. There are other forms of meditation that don’t focus on your breath at all!

I’m very curious about Transcendental Meditation (TM). This is what the Beatles studied with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and is championed nowadays by any number of movers and shakers. David Lynch has started a foundation to spread the word about this practice. TM is based on the ancient practice of Vedic meditation, which involves silently repeating a mantra to yourself.

TM (the branded version) requires you to meet with a specially trained instructor, who gives you your personalized mantra. Ooh, do I ever want a personalized mantra! But there are no funds in our kitty to try such a venture. Maybe one day.

So instead, I usually do Yoga Nidra. This probably isn’t what you’re picturing. I do yoga every day, with postures and breathwork. But this is something different. I think of Yoga Nidra as a kind of mind-body integration. It involves a “body scan,” where you concentrate on increasing your awareness of all the parts of your body. You wouldn’t think that would do anything, but I feel calm, conscious, and not distracted by worries about the past or the future.

If you’d like to try this method of meditation, please watch our video:

There’s a brief introduction, followed by a relaxing meditation for you to try.

We’ve also made the mp3 recording of the Yoga Nidra practice available to download for free, so you can take it with you anywhere and continue to practice, even when you’re offline and can’t watch our video on YouTube. Sign up for the free download here: http://bit.ly/GetMeditationRec

I hope you’ll meditate with me, Socratica Friends!

KHH

We recommend the following books and goodies (affiliate links that support Socratica):

Meditation Pillow https://amzn.to/3kXezCq

Muse – a brain-sensing headband that trains you to meditate https://amzn.to/3ill28C

The Miracle of Mindfulness: an Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh https://amzn.to/33mAcpy

Meditation Gong https://amzn.to/34kFykw

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How to Work From Home

Learning all about this the hard way!

First, it must be understood that we don’t know what we’re doing. Nothing wonderful can come from this unless this is made perfectly clear.

Are you working from home? We are. Or we’re trying to.

Because of the Covid Pandemic, we can’t film together in studio. So we’re finding things to work on that we can do solo, like our website Socratica.com and our new podcast Socratica Reads.

We’re also doing our best to keep our spirits up by watching movies, reading books, playing games, and doing a little creative cooking.

Liliana and I made this video via video chat so you could get an idea of how we’re handling this very strange time.

Stay well, Socratica Friends!

KHH

Easy ways to support Socratica:

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Socratica Quarantines with Met Opera

We’re under quarantine here in California, due to the Covid 19 Pandemic. That means we can’t film at Socratica, at least for the time being.

So how are we spending our time? We’re still writing scripts and editing videos. But we’re also taking time for cultural enrichment, thanks to a generous gift from the New York Metropolitan Opera.

The Met is streaming an opera every day, for free. 

We’ve always loved opera here at Socratica.

Believe it or not, when I was a kid, most of grownups in my life loved and embraced opera. It wasn’t thought of as some kind of elite art form, only for the wealthy. It was easy to understand even as a kid, often bawdy and over-the-top. It was digested into simple acts, with well-known stories and musical themes. I defy anyone to watch “Marriage of Figaro” and say it is inaccessible.

But as I entered adulthood in the 90s, something started to change. People started to think opera was something fancy.  Was it because of “Pretty Woman?”  A wealthy man takes a prostitute to the opera and opens her eyes to refined culture. I prefer the depiction in Moonstruck – we see an everyman who lives for the opera.

Moonstruck love opera

Ticket prices started to rise uncomfortably. I still got to go to the opera a lot because when I was in grad school, Princeton would give poor grad students FREE tickets and a FREE ride to the glorious opera house in New York City, the Met. I saw everything they did for five years.

Met opera at night

 

But when I moved back to LA in 2003, by then, ticket prices were out of control. Even with two of us working good jobs, we couldn’t, in good conscience, spend a couple of hundred dollars on two hours’ of entertainment. That’s more than two week’s groceries in our house.

Thankfully, the Met started streaming HD recordings of their operas. You can rent a gorgeous production for $5. They’re beautifully made videos –  it’s like the best seat in the house, complete with subtitles.  It’s really a wonderful resource. And now, during the pandemic, they’re making one of their operas free to stream each day. Thank you, sincerely. What a lovely, lovely gift.

If you’re hesitant – you don’t think opera is for you – we have a gift for you, too. When we first started our channel, we made a playlist to give an introduction to this incredible art form.

 

 

You can tell these are some of our earliest videos!  The lighting is crazy hot (we were using powerful ARRI Fresnel lights). We were just learning how to edit using Adobe Premiere.  But I look back on these early videos with great affection.

Our playlist of opera terms is here: https://bit.ly/SocraticaOpera

Opera is for everyone!

KHH

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Multiple Choice Tests, defanged.

 

 

Do you think Multiple Choice tests are unfair?

Is this because you don’t do very well on them? Be honest, now.

Wouldn’t you like to know how to do better on these tests? Socratica can help.

The truth is, that while multiple choice tests can seem tricky, they really can be the best way to test for certain kinds of knowledge. Namely – can you draw distinctions between closely related ideas?

Answer sheet

To do well on Multiple choice tests, you have to stay calm and proceed through the test without getting too hung up on any one question. Don’t waste your time fretting if you don’t know the answer right away. This is easier to do if you prepare well.

In this video, we share some of our best strategies for doing well on multiple choice tests. Our number one tip is to take a practice test, and then use it to figure out what you DON’T know. Then, study only the material you don’t know! This can feel uncomfortable, but it really is the most efficient use of your time. After studying, then re-test yourself, only on those topics you previously missed. Now, you have a much better chance of success on the real test, and you haven’t wasted precious study time on material you were already going to get right on the test.

Try our techniques on your next multiple choice test, and see for yourself!

More Excellent Study Tips Here (YouTube Playlist)

~ KHH

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Where did the year go? Socratica in 2019

I was about to make a Happy New Year post, when I noticed the last real post I made was for the New Year, January 2019. Where has the year gone? In a word: PROJECTS.

2019 was the year of 3 major projects for Socratica: SQL, VR180, and Python Kickstarter. 

SQL

We were tapped by the YouTube Learning Initiative to create a “Learning Playlist” about SQL – Structured Query Language. The Learning Initiative was a major undertaking by YouTube to create a new way for people to interact with educational videos. This new system allows you to subscribe to a learning playlist (as opposed to a channel). YouTube presents these videos in a distraction-free environment, and keeps track of your progress. We hope YouTube continues developing ideas like these to help educational creators and viewers who want to learn!

Introduction to SQL (Computer Science)

 

VR180

VR has finally gone mainstream, with the arrival of HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, etc. But while there are a number of Virtual Reality games available, VR content on YouTube remains sparse. Socratica was once again chosen by YouTube to represent educational creators on their platform as part of their VR Creator Lab. We were invited to attend a special hands-on course with ten creators, including Patrick Starr, Big Cat Rescue, Invisible People, the LA Times, and Titanic Sinclair/ Poppy.

We learned how to use a special VR180 camera, which captures a 180-degree hemisphere in 3 dimensions. Filming like this poses special challenges, including deciding how close to stand to the camera (not as close as you’re used to, or it feels scaryclose!), how to move it (very carefully), and how to enhance the 3D experience. Then we learned how hard it was to work with 8K files! Our poor computers got a real workout. As a result of this project, we also learned about how to use render farms.

We made 3 videos to explain how VR works (we are an educational channel, after all) – The Science of VR, The Math of VR, and The Tech of VR.  Then, as a bonus fun (but also highly educational) reward, we made a VR180 Tour of the Solar System.

 

 

 

 

 

PYTHON KICKSTARTER

Our last major project of the year involved you, all of our Socratica Friends. We took stock of the progress on our channel, and also all of your comments and requests. Our most popular playlist was Python, but we had only made about 30 videos over the course of 5 years. You kept asking for more, but we just didn’t have the resources to make them any faster. So we decided to ask you for help!

Working on the SQL project and the VR180 videos allowed us to see just how much we could get done when we had reasonable funding and a chunk of time set aside. We drew up a careful budget and asked if you would like to support us making 20 Python videos in 2020. And you said yes!  Our Kickstarter was successful. We begin production in January. That is…NOW!!

We’ll be writing, filming, and editing Python for the next several months, thanks to your support. We can’t thank you enough. Soon we’ll have our new Python videos to share with you. In the meantime, here’s our Python Playlist:

 

Happy New Year, Socratica Friends.  

KHH

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Happy New Year, Socratica Friends!

We took an unprecedented 12 whole days off for the holidays. We’re back in the Studio, refreshed and invigorated and ready to make more educational videos for you! Our New Year’s Resolution is to grow our channel so we can make more videos faster, while maintaining high quality. Easier said than done, but we think this is the year we’ll be able to bring on some part time help, especially with editing.

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year? How’s it going so far?

We always make resolutions, but half the time (or more) we start cheating a little, then a little more, and pretty soon we’ve forgotten all our plans for self-improvement. Has this happened to you?

We wanted this year to be different, so we researched the best ways to MAKE successful resolutions, and the best ways to help you KEEP your resolutions.  We put it all together in the latest video in our Study Tips series:

New Year’s Resolutions for Students

 

 

If you value the work we do, and would like to support our efforts to make the most beautiful educational videos free for everyone on YouTube, please consider becoming our Patron.  Thank you!

KHH

Socratica Patreon

Subscribe to Socratica on YouTube

Socratica Shop on Amazon

 

 

 

Socratica Dialogue is here!

We’re happy to announce the launch of a new Socratica Publication!

Socratica Dialogue:

Dialogue issue 1 masthead

It’s a monthly newsletter available exclusively to our patrons on Patreon. You get it with your $10 and up monthly support of Socratica. It’s where we collect the most interesting tidbits of ideas we’re mulling over during the month. What are we reading? Where did we go? What are we working on at Socratica? We figured it’s something that our most dedicated fans would be interested in…that’s why it’s part of our Patreon.

We named it Dialogue for two reasons – first, as a play on “Socratic Dialogue” because we just can’t help ourselves. But also to tell our viewers that we’d love to open a dialogue with them – to let them know more about ourselves and our process.

If you value the work we do, and would like to support our efforts to make the most beautiful educational videos free for everyone on YouTube, please consider becoming our Patron.  Even the smallest donation makes a big difference to us. Thank you!

KHH

Socratica Patreon

Subscribe to Socratica on YouTube

Socratica Shop on Amazon

 

 

 

Socratica is now an Amazon Influencer

Socratica doesn’t have any beauty recommendations for you. 

Beauty-influencer-zoella-youtube-10-13-17

It’s fun, we just don’t have anything to contribute here.

 

And we don’t do Follow Me pictures.  We’re mostly sitting at our desks, working. 

follow me field

Kudos to Murad Osmann for popularizing this new style of photo.

 

But we can recommend great books ALL DAY LONG.

 

cornell library

THIS we can do!

 

I thought “Influencer” was a term only used for YouTube vloggers and the beautiful people on Instagram.  I’m happy to learn I was wrong!

Amazon has opened the doors of its Influencer Program to a wide variety of YouTube channels. This is an opportunity for these channels to share their favourite products, and for all of us to buy from their storefronts as a way to support these channels. The creators receive a small percentage of every purchase made through the links on their storefronts.

And now… Socratica is an Amazon Influencer. Did not think this was going to happen. But here it is, our new storefront:

 

Some clear pros and cons:

PROS:

  • Easy to Use – I got this up and running in under 5 minutes.
  • Easy to Update
  • Includes pictures of items

CONS:

  • Not customizable – we’d love to break this into sections (Math, Chemistry, Film Equipment)
  • No place to write blurbs. Let us say WHY we’re recommending a product.

 

I’m all for exploring alternate revenue streams, since YouTube ad revenue is not nearly enough to support a business.  So we set up our shop, and we’ll start sharing the link, and we’ll see what happens.  Let us know what you think (or if you have any other ideas to fund our scicomm work at Socratica).

Please share this link with your friends!   https://www.amazon.com/shop/socratica

KHH

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Send Socratica to SXSW EDU!

Socratica might go to SXSW EDU…with your help!

sxsweduspeaker

SXSW (“South by Southwest” or just “SouthBy”)  is a HUGE conference held every year in Austin, TX. You may be more familiar with the arts side of the conference, but did you know there’s an education component? It’s called SXSWEDU, attended by thousands of teachers and administrators.

sxsw talk picture

Socratica has applied to give talks there in 2018 – but it really depends on our panel ideas getting “upvoted.” That’s where you come in!

votenow

You can register and vote for panels for free, no obligation. This is a way for the organizers to gauge interest. We’d love for you to show your support for Socratica, so we can share our channel and our experiences with thousands of educators.

Kim is proposing a Case Study of the pathways to becoming an online educator. She and two fellow EduTubers will be discussing their journeys from Scientist, to Teacher, to YouTuber.  Her panel is here: Scientist-Teacher-YouTuber: Paths to Online Edu

Michael is proposing a Workshop about how to make higher quality educational videos. He’ll be running the workshop with two other EduTubers who make great looking videos without spending a ton of money. His panel is here: Taking Your Educational Videos to the Next Level

You can see our founders at SXSWEDU in 2018! Please register (free) & vote!

After you register, it’s easy to get lost in the website. You can click these links to go directly to our panels to vote for them!  And please upvote other panels that look interesting to you. You don’t have to attend, but if you do, we’ll see you there!

Kim: http://bit.ly/2ujW2tW
Michael: http://bit.ly/2vgeCST

Here are the instructions from SXSWEDU:

On Monday, August 7, the greater online community is invited to vote and share its input on your session idea through Friday, August 25. The community’s input will amount to 30% of the total score for your proposal. Your proposal will also be evaluated by the SXSW EDU Advisory Board (40%) and SXSW EDU staff (30%) during this time.

The community will have the opportunity to “Vote Up” or “Vote Down” on all session ideas (votes will be kept private) and add comments to each page. We encourage you to use this commenting feature to expand on your session idea, make notes of any updates or changes and even engage with the voting community.

Anyone with internet access can cast a single vote for as many proposals as they would like upon creating a PanelPicker account.

We really appreciate your helping to send us to this conference!  It’s a great opportunity to meet other educators and let more people know about the work we do at Socratica.  Every bit of awareness helps our channel stay in business.  Hope we see you next year in Austin! THANK YOU!

KHH

PS You’re Subscribed to Socratica, right?