Posted in Culture, Marmoset, sociology

Superstition Part II – Black Cats

Charles Piscitello Ed.D

Happy Black Cat Day!  According to

Cats in ancient Egypt were revered highly, partly due to their ability to combat vermin such as mice, rats. Cats of royalty were known to be dressed in golden jewelry and were allowed to eat right off their owners’ plates. The goddess of warfare was a woman with the head of a cat named Bastet.


Alternatively in American Culture, it is bad luck if a black cat crosses your path.  Around Halloween time we see cartoon witches usually accompanied by their trusty black cat.  So the superstition behind the black cat isn’t entirely alien to us in America.

I began to wonder about the superstition surrounding our furry little friends a four years ago, when my sister was kind enough to host my first child’s baby shower.  Sicilians love gatherings because it gives black-catthem the opportunity to make cookies, and they love making cookies.  My sister, also loves pets, including her two black cats.

One lady refused to attend the baby shower because she heard that my sister indeed owned a couple black cats.  The lady refused even when she was ensured that the cats would be in cages in another room.

So, why are cats at the very least viewed as bad luck if they cross your path or even highly taboo for some people? lists a couple reasons why Italians would fear black cats, here are a few:

At one time the Catholic Church considered cats to be witches’ familiars or
transformed witches, always up to no good.

This is consistent with the Italian witch superstition  illustrated in Italian Superstition Part I – Toccare le palle, since witches had the power to curse a family with the “evil eye,” which rendered the males sterile.  Furthermore, the article states:

During the Middle Ages there was a flurry of superstition and cats were hung from trees and immediately killed on sight because they were suspected of being witches or witches’ familiars. This ultimately was a primary cause of the wide spread of the Black Death or Bubonic Plague in Europe because the rodent population boomed due to the natural predators of the rodents having been killed.

And specifically:

In Italy long ago if a black cat lay upon the bed of a sick person it meant that person would die.

According to which stated that in the middle ages anyone who saw a cat cross their path would

threw rocks at the furry feline until the helpless injured creature scurried out into a woman’s house, who at the time was suspected of being a witch


The belief of witches transforming themselves into black cats in order to prowl streets unobserved became a central belief in America during the Salem witch hunts. Even today the association of black cats and witches holds strong during Halloween celebrations, despite the holiday’s religious beginnings.  Thus, an animal once looked on with approbation became a symbol of evil omens in some parts of the World.

So an association with death, illness, and witches (sterility) created the superstition with many ethnic groups which brought the superstition here to the states.

It is always interesting to see the origins of superstition, we can see a link between word events, religion, values, and culture through how people perceived what is good or evil, lucky and unlucky.

Posted in Culture, education, Marmoset, sociology

Cyber Hybrid Culture Ground Rules

Charles Piscitello Ed.D

After writing my first post about the cyber hybrid culture – all hell broke loose on Facebook as it usually does.  A close friend posted a sensitive political topic about something one of the candidates “said.”  People replied with angry polarizing political posts which triggered more angry polarizing responses, and a Facebook war ensued.

I was easily sucked – posting a derogatory comment about one of the political parties “Sucking at life” because their politics was anti-life.

This triggered a young man who I don’t know personally in the face-to-face world spending the rest of the day attacking my comment (and me).  Other people began attacking him and so on.  This of course translated to people discussing these online interactions in the real face-to-face world.  Most of the people who approached me told me that they enjoyed my comments, thought they were funny, and “wanted to give me a hug for speaking up.”  But I’m sure there were many other people who avoided me because of those same comments.

In reflecting with another groups of online students through their online discussion forum, I decided that social media does not have a set of etiquette ground rules or a “netiquette” policy as it is commonly referred to in distance education.  So with that, I decided to brainstorm a set of social media ground rules:

a.) Avoid trolling, don’t start trouble because not all people know you, your personality, or sense of humor.

b.) Don’t answer attacks with anger, just present logical points or refuse to answer.

c.) Unfollow people you don’t want to see, unfreind people who are not your friends, and block people who are nasty to you.

d.) Use social media to share, network, and interact – avoid the rest of the junk.

I’m sure that much can be added to this list, but it’s a nice start in my pursuit in bridging the gab between our face-to-face world and our cyber world.  Many of these social media wars create real life social divisions in business, schools, church, and anywhere else people congregate.  It is important to understand that these worlds are connected and we must act accordingly.

Posted in Culture, education, sociology, Uncategorized

Cyber Hybrid Culture (Part 1)

Charles Piscitello Ed.D

When reading my students’ discussion responses to “how social media brings us together and tears us apart,” I began to think about how we now must live in a cyber hybrid culture.

By cyber hybrid culture, I mean that in our culture we must live life in our face-to-face world while living on social media, email, and online courses.  I’ve noticed inconsistency in our presentation of self between the real world and our cyber world.

Similar to my teaching and instructional design experience in creating a hybrid/blended courses where online time supplements face-to-face time, we attempt to create the right balance between the face-to-face element and the online element.  Inexperienced hybrid/blended instructors simply try to squeeze their face-to-face course into a smaller amount of time with the same content online.  In this case, students feel that the online content is pointless busy work.

Instructors must learn to provide adequate content in the online portion and utilize the face-to-face time in a new and unique way to deliver a dynamic learning experience with knowledge of the content provided online.

smartphone-and-coffeeWe see this with exposure to social media, many times I see a classmate from college or high school, and the conversation is awkward and short.  We already know all about all the important news, babies, jobs, education, and other big life events.  With that, there is simply nothing new to talk about and we lose out on a key part of being a social being.

When done correctly, social media provides information which triggers discussion, talk radio hosts poke and prod their audience for topics and ministers can gain insight about their congregation.  At a quick glance of my smart watch, I learn a morsel of news and can tie it to face-to-face class discussion.

But most of the time, social media creates awkward social interaction, by removing an individual from the room as everyone is interacting with people who are not in the room.  We replace face-to-face conversation at the dinner table with people poking at their phone, for the same Facebook content that they’ve already read a number of times already.


As a society we are still in our infancy in blending our face-to-face and online worlds.  We must find ways to better utilize the online world without compromising our face-to-face real time interactions.

Literature review coming soon.



Posted in arnoldfest, arnoldfest2016, Culture, Health and Fitness, supplements

Suplement Sample Test – Ion

After the 2016 Arnold Fest I received this text message from my friend who attended with me.   So of course, this was moved to the top of my supplement test list.


Warning, if this is in your stash from this year’s Arnold Fest, please note, there are two servings.

With that being said, I used it twice, for my leg day on Wednesday, and back day on Friday.  I don’t think I felt the same kick as my friend, I felt a mild boost before both workouts.  I feel that there was an also kick of endurance as I continued with my workout.  The product description on states:

PERFORMIX ION embodies the PERFORMIX promise. ION uses the most advanced Multi-Phase Bead nutrient delivery system, precision engineered with ballistic Terra Intelligent Beads to disperse hard hitting ingredients in stages throughout your workout. Unlike any other pre-workout, ION releases a 2nd wave during your workout with a flood of additional anti-catabolic and metabolic energy stimulants to push you through. This innovative multi-phase system is designed to get you started, keep you going and finish strong when all others fail.*

Which is how a marketing team would write my review in their attempt to sell this product.  I would like to try a whole container to see if these continues after a few weeks.

I feel that all pre-workout supplements feel great at first and then we simply become immune to the effects of the new latest and greatest ingredient.   I did like the small servings, which you get 45 in a container, with an option of four flavors.  But with a regular price of $69, and a current sale price of $59, this stuff better work.

We’ll see what pre-workout wins my love this year.  Back to my pile of supplement samples.


Posted in arnoldfest, arnoldfest2016, Culture, Health and Fitness, Marmoset, supplements

Arnold fest 2016

Yet another Arnold fest, and another stash of supplement samples, as always, I will attempt to share my opinion about each sample via this blog.

Pretty nice stash, we went on a Sunday this year, which helped with the crowd issues this made the experience much more pleasant.  There were still many annoyances like people with babies in carriers and people with oversized backpacks.  Not to mention the little guys showing off their new “muscles,” with the best in bodybuilding and powerlifting in the room is silly – put a shirt on!

Best Vender Booths 

I’ve received millions of shirts before at Arnold Fest, never socks, I really love my MusclePharm socks and shaker bottle.

  I liked that bodyfortress    used the sign in process to test their product using one of the biggest R&D labs you can find, giving us two flavors of protein – Peanutbutter and Jelly vs. Mango Habanero (which was fantastic) to choose from having the testers vote for their favorite.  The also gave us weight belt key chains and “swole mate” tee shirts for you and a friend.

But overall, the best booth was Optimum Nutrition  which gave away tons of Gold Standard and Isolate protein packets, pre workout samples, BCAA samples, and a t-shirt, I was tempted to go back through again.

Sample Review: 

VPX Redline 7 hour shots are usually the first things I try.  I love them, I made sure to wait for the morning because I know how powerful these things are.  Always a great pick-me-up provides endless energy.  This specific energy shot caught my attention because there was no added color.

I paired the Optimum Nutrition Protein Water with my morning energy shot.  On face value seems like like a good idea, easy to drink, people who have issue with whey can take this product without issue, and an easy source of 20 grams of protein and 4.5 BCAAs.  But with any non-whey protein isolate, the odd, tongue numbing aftertaste is there.  These are okay sometimes, but by no means would this replace my whey protein on a daily basis.


Posted in Culture, education, iPad, sociology

Haiku Deck and Sociology

Piscitello, C. (2013, Summer). Teaching/Learning Matters ASA’s Newsletter for the section on teaching and learning sociology, 42(1), pp. 9-10.

 Technology is growing at a rapid pace.  Since the time I graduated from college, we’ve seen great advances in computer technology, specifically, the ability to make technology mobile. In, I was the only student with a laptop computer, taking notes, cross referencing what my professors taught on the web and maybe, some less productive activities when class seemed boring and endless.

Now, technology is everywhere and can take you anywhere.And students have a variety of hardware and software options from laptop to tablet to smart phone, from email to twitter to Facebook, to Google chat. This article will examine the use of the Apple iPad in an Introduction to Sociology classroom. In particular, I am interested in discussing the ways in which the mobile application Haiku Deck, an intuitive presentation application, helped support a learner-centered environment and initiate creativity,group discussion and interpersonal communication skills in learning and brainstorming complex sociological concepts in a learner centered environment.

In the classroom, teachers must compete with new advancements in technology. We can either ban the use of smart phones, tablets, and computers from being used in
the classroom, or we can find interesting and productive ways to employ these new forms of technology and actually improve learning in the classroom. Many school systems, colleges and universities are beginning to realize the potential opportunity in integrating technology into the classroom, allowing students the chance to learn using their mobile devices as opposed to banning their use altogether.

Many of us would prefer having a classroom of students learning, taking notes, researching ideas and collaborating with peers, as opposed to playing games.

As stated above, there are many options for both teachers and students when deciding on what technology fits an individual’s specific teaching or learning needs. I have chosen the iPad and Haiku Deck since my specific college has fully integrated iPad technology into the classroom, each student and teacher has access to and uses the iPad for pedagogical and personal reasons. It is important to understand that this is only one example of the use of technology in the classroom, and that there are many options to consider when integrating technology. In terms of choosing
a best practice of what works best in the classroom, an educator must assess the needs of the students. But, as mobile technology becomes more prevalent, more options will be available to both Apple and Android users.

Haiku Deck is a free iPad app that allows users to create visually stunning presentations quickly and easily ( The biggest attraction to using this software in a classroom is the built-in picture database that allows the user to search pictures that are mentioned in the presentation text, creating an aesthetically pleasing slide with very little time searching the Internet for pictures.

In introduction to sociology, an elective class popular in many colleges and universities, the information can become dry for many students who choose not to continue as sociology majors. It is important for a sociology instructor to initiate class discussion and collaboration to ensure that the complex theory can be applied to everyday life. A student centered approach can be utilized to ensure that the students are the focus, applying the importance of the content to each student with hands on approach brought to life with the use of mobile technology in the classroom (Brown & Green, 2005). The specific assignment in my own classroom is given in two parts. First, the students are given a homework assign- ment to research a specific sociological topic to be covered in the class, “How popular culture defines American culture,” “How social control oversteps our freedoms,” or “How do you define family and how has it changed in your lifetime.” The students are instructed to break into small groups, and share their findings with each other, and to collaborate on a short Haiku Deck presentation that they will share with the class. The students quickly compile the presentation and share with the rest of their peers.

The use of mobile technology and the right applications allow students to utilize technology already familiar to them. As educators we can stifle their abilities by  emanding that they “turn off their toys,” or we can create a student centered  earning environment where they can learn from not only the teacher, but they can learn from each other. The iPad is a wonderful tool if used correctly, teachers
must keep up with the fast paced world of technology to stay connected to our  students.

Brown, A., & Green, T. (2005). The essentials of
instructional design: Connectiong fundimental principles
with process and practice (1st ed). NJ: Prentice Hall. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23rd, 2013, from
Haiku Deck Home Page:

Posted in Culture, education, Health and Fitness, Marmoset, sociology

Supplement “Guinea” Pig


Once a week, my co-worker Aaron and I, work out heavy, so I felt that this is the opportunity to do the Vpx stack along with a random protein shake, in this case a monster milk. I did cut out using friction with all of this in fear of a heart attack.

I will use the same stack next week and see the gains from week to week. But, the first week using this supplement stack made me feel jittery, but it was nicely counterbalance with the complex carb supplement. Next week I will mix the carbonox and the power shock.

We’ve been exercising this way for more than a month now, so any net gains I’m sure come from work and dedication, but the supplements provide a nice kick in terms of energy, motivation, and a little placebo effect, any advantage helps really.

You can find information on these supplements at

Posted in Craft Beer, Culture, Honey Badger, Marmoset, Writing

Listen….nononon…shhhhhh. listen!!!


Approximately ten years ago, my good friend Thomas Stockman (to the left) and I (to the right with the stupid hat and ugly shirt) wrote a screen play Fathill Drive.  Reflecting back, it was a story about a couple of bored college students, at a commuter college, who observed some strange behavior, added a little imagination and began writing.  The writing wasn’t the best, the story was relativity funny, and we didn’t make a million dollars, but, as Tom stated a couple of days ago, possibly the coolest thing we’ll ever do.

Since then, both Tom and I found jobs in our perspective careers (me a teacher/sociologist, Thomas a chemical engineer), but we always find creative outlets like writing short stories, or making beer.  With all of this being said, I feel that we may start an alpha5marmoset (name of our production company) podcast, because I still think we’re relatively entertaining people with maybe a little too much to say.  To accompany said podcast, I will keep up this random blog, about random things I’m interested in, in the realm of American culture, food and beer.  So, give me feedback, what would you like out of a podcast, blog or anything of the such.

Ora ho finito

Continue reading “Listen….nononon…shhhhhh. listen!!!”