Another Example Of Great Writing

The world is full of great writing. So I have decided I will highlight some examples whenever I stumble on them.

Here’s one I came across from Adam Grant & Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B.

Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity, and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.”

The book features many things that Sandberg learned after the sudden death of her husband. She learned how to find strength in the face of adversity, how to rebound from life-shattering experiences and how to help others in crisis.

One of my key takeaways from reading this book is her line about strengthening the muscles around our backbone. Sandberg doesn’t mean we actually need to up our back exercises if we want to be able to bounce back from devastation. No amount of pull-ups would help us from crumpling to the floor if we found out our spouse had died.

But the image she uses is one we can understand and remember. We have all heard about the importance of having a backbone. We need to stand up for ourselves and not let others walk all over us. We associate it with being strong.

One way to be strong in the face of hardship is to start building our resilience now. The book uses studies done by Grant to show that our level of resilience isn’t fixed. It is something we can grow.

What a great way to show this by using something we all associate with being strong (a backbone) and painting a picture of how we can add to that backbone (building up the muscles around it).

A great line in an awesome book. I highly recommend you check it out.

What Are Nooks and Crannies?

Have you ever searched all around your house looking for something? Perhaps you lost your keys or your wallet. Did you turn over the entire house? Did you look in every nook and cranny?

Did you?

Does your house even have a nook? And a cranny?

I am not sure if mine does, because I don’t know what those words mean. But that changes today…

What Are Nooks and Crannies?

Wow. Nooks and crannies are old. Especially nooks.

Nook, which refer to “an out-of-the-way corner” have been round since the mid-1300s. Crannies aren’t quite as old, but the word, which has meant “a crack or crevice” date back to around 1440.

So how did two things that didn’t grow up in the same era end up together (that is known as the Catherine Zeta-Jones / Michael Douglas question)? We have a man by the name of James Cririe to thank for that.

In 1803 Cririe published Scottish Scenery, Or, Sketches in Verse, Descriptive of Scenes Chiefly in the Highlands of Scotland : Accompanied with Notes and Illustrations : and Ornamented with Engravings by W. Byrne from Views Painted by G. Walker (yes, that is the full title), where he said:

Nook and cranny

Of all the words in that quote, I am surprised “nook and cranny” was the one that became a famous saying? My money would have been on “the dread artillery of God.”


Sources: &

The One Coin Loophole

Do little actions add up? Do the small things we chose to do, or not do, even make a difference?

A similar question was asked in one of the most notable works of the Renaissance, Desiderius Erasmus’ The Praise of Folly:

If ten coins are not enough to make a man rich, what if you add one coin? What if you add another? Finally, you will have to say that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him so.”

Erasmus seemed to think that little things add up. And so does author Gretchen Rubin.

Rubin uses the lesson from The Praise of Folly to explain what she calls the One Coin Loophole. “Often, when we consider our actions, it’s clear that any one instance of an action is almost meaningless, yet at the same time, a sum of those actions is very meaningful,” says Rubin.

Skimping on your diet for one day may not seem like much. Just as one coin may not seem like the difference between rich and poor. But say you skimp on your diet one day a month. At the end of the year you ignored your diet for nearly two weeks worth of days.

At the same time, the One Coin Loophole can be positive. It may not seem like writing once a week for an hour could be that beneficial. After all, it is such a small chunk of time, what difference could it make, right? Not so fast. After a year of following that little pattern, you’ve written for 52 hours. That feels like a much bigger chunk of time, doesn’t it?

As Rubin points out, for good or bad, the sum of our actions add up.

In this world where bigger is better, it is important to be reminded that even the smallest actions have meaning.

5 Things We Can Learn From Seat Belts

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or locations. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something that I hope we use everyday…

5 Things We Can Learn From Seat Belts

1. Good Ideas May Not Come As Fast As We Think

The very first car was invented in 1886. The first car crash was reported to have taken place in 1891. You’d think seat belts would have come shortly after. You’d be wrong.

It wasn’t until 1955 that a patent was submitted for an automotive seat belt. And it wasn’t until 1968 that it became a law at required all vehicles (except buses) to be fitted with seat belts. We put humans into outer space before we required cars to have seat belts. And it wasn’t like the delay was because the problem was new. Car accidents had been happening for 77 years. Sometime it just takes a little longer than we may think to come up with a good idea.

2. Common Sense Isn’t Always Common

Seat belts save lives. Research has found they are 50% effective at preventing fatal injuries for drivers. If we don’t want to die, it makes total sense that we would wear seat belts. Yet some people still do not wear them. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 88.5 percent of drivers and front seat riders buckle up. While that is a high percentage, that still leaves 11.5 percent that apparently do not want to be safe. I guess that is a good reminder that no matter how good your product is, you just can’t convince everyone to use it.

3. We Are Always Influencing Our Kids

If I haven’t thrown enough facts at you, here’s another one…children are likely to be buckled 92% of the time when adults in the car use seat belts, as opposed to 72% of the time when adults are not using them. Even when we think they aren’t watching, we are influencing our kids. I guess we should make sure we are doing the right thing.

4. Thing Don’t Work As Well When They Get Twisted

I’ve never really understood how a seat belt gets so twisted. It is in the same place every time I use it, but somehow it gets tangled up from time to time. Unless you make Twizzlers, this is not something you want to happen to your product.

5. There Can Be More Than One Way To Do It

According to Wikipedia, seat belts come in the following different types:

  • Two-point
  • Lap
  • Sash
  • Three-point
  • Belt-in-seat
  • Four-point
  • Five-point
  • Six-point
  • Seven-point

Apparently there are almost as many types of seat belts as there are Oreos. Speaking of which, I am actually a little surprised that there isn’t a type of seat belt called double stuffed. Sounds like a good business opportunity if anyone wants in…

Why Is 1000 Called A Grand?

If you are Mark Zuckerberg, it is a piece of cake to give away one thousand dollars. But if you are broke, one thousand dollars is better than cake.

How great $1000 is depends on how much money you have, but either way we call it a grand. Why is that?

Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

Why Is 1000 Called A Grand?

According to Word Detective, the use of “grand” in reference to money dates back to around 1915. It came from American underworld slang, as in a grand sum of money.

So there we have it. At the time $1000 was a lot of money. If you had it, you were feeling grand. But it wasn’t the only slang for a specific amount of money. Here are a few others:

  • C-note (or century note) – one-hundred dollar bill, from the Roman numeral “C,” which is 100.
  • Sawbuck – a ten-dollar bill, from the resemblance of the Roman numeral “X” (ten) that once appeared thereon to a sawhorse
  • Double sawbuck – a twenty-dollar bill


Something To Know If You Can’t Get Your Dream Job

Back before the National Championship, before the 500+ wins, and before the 9 Coach of the Year Awards, Jay Wright couldn’t even get a job working the Villanova summer basketball camp.

When Wright first got into coaching he applied to work the 1985 Wildcat basketball camp. He viewed this as something that would further his career — an opportunity to learn and grow as a coach. But it was more than that. Wright grew up a big Villanova fan and saw this camp job as a dream position.

His application was rejected.

Villanova had just won the NCAA Tournament and the camp was booming. Every coach wanted to work the camp and, new to the profession, Wright’s resume was buried well below more qualified coaches.

Wright saw his dream come and go.

But it didn’t go for long.

The timing was just not right (pun intended). Wright didn’t give up and let his dream die. With a lot of hard work and a little bit of good fortune he was able to work his way onto the staff of a future Villanova basketball camp.

And then he upped his dream.

Fast forward to 2016 and that same guy who was rejected by Villanova was leading the school to their second National Championship.

Good thing for Villanova he didn’t give up.

5 Good Things

Having a rough start to your week? Feel like there is nothing but negative stories online, on TV and in the newspaper? Looking for a little pick me up?

Here are 5 good things going on in our world…

  1. Umpire Stops Woman From Committing Suicide – 36-year-old John Tumpane has been been a baseball umpire for more than half of his life – but a recent game in particular was one that he would never forget.
  2. Driver Makes Every Kid on Her Route Feel Special, Hand-making Each a Toy – 43-year-old Trudy Serres is a bus driver for Summit Elementary School in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Her second job – which she does for free – is crocheting special toys for every single one of the children on her bus route.
  3. Strangers Buy Car For 20-Year-Old Man Who Walks 3 Miles Each Way To Work – Hard to believe, but it is true. A group of strangers pitched in to buy a car for a 20-year-old Texas man who walks three miles each way to his job at a fast food restaurant.
  4. Mickey and Minnie use sign language to make a little boy’s day – One little boy’s Disneyland dream came true when Pluto, Minnie and Mickey communicated with him through sign language — a moment that 3-year-old Phoenix Fox’s family won’t soon forget.
  5. Police officers mow lawn of disabled veteran – A pair of Texas police officers are being recognized for their good deed after a neighbor snapped a few photos of them mowing the lawn of a disabled veteran.

Why Do We Say “Cup of Joe”?

One of the most common ways to encourage someone to save money or donate to a charity is to use the phrase, “for just the cost of a cup of coffee…” You’ve heard that right? You’ve probably even said it yourself. This works because we are so connected to coffee that our brains don’t have to think much to easily summon up the price of the steaming beverage.

While the phrase works, it is a little wordy. If they ever wanted to shorten it to fit on bumper sticker I would recommend the tagline, “say no to Joe!”

Other than sounding like a 1950s presidential campaign slogan, the phase would work because any coffee drinker knows that their beverage is commonly referred to as a cup of Joe.

Everyone has heard of a cup of Joe, but who knows where that phrase came from? Who is this legendary Joe?

Let’s find out in today’s Wonder Why Wednesday

In order to find our answer, we need to flash back to the 1914 U.S. Navy. At the time, Josephus Daniels was secretary to the Navy under president Woodrow Wilson. Apparently, the Navy was a mess back then.

In order to clean things up, Daniels decided to increase the number of chaplains and reduce the number of prostitutes (yes, you read that correctly). In addition to all that, Daniels also banned alcohol.

The service men and women were none too happy about the ban of booze (no mention of how they felt about the chaplains or prostitutes). To replace their missing wine, they started drinking the next strongest drink they could find…coffee.

The sailors nicknamed the drink after the one responsible for forcing everyone to change. They started calling it a “cup of Joe” in regards to their chief Josephus Daniels.

Now we know where the phrase “cup of Joe” comes from. We also know that the Navy used to be full or drunk philanderers.

Learn something new (and discouraging) every day.

June Recap

In case you missed a post or two this month, here’s a quick recap of what I wrote about during the month of June:

Questions I Asked –

How Does A Calculator Work? – They rely on chips and string. Throw in a random penny or two and you would have the exact same thing I find when looking between my couch cushions.

How Are Social Security Numbers Assigned? – Answer: Randomly. But that wasn’t always the case.

Who Was The 1st NBA Draft Pick – On the eve of the NBA Draft we look back to an old Wonder Why Wednesday.

What Is New Car Smell? – The answer is very complex answer, but I have come up with a way to simplify it so we can always remember. It uses a comparison to the Fast and the Furious movies.


Things We Learned –

How much we would pay to avoid regret – Imagine a life where fear is not a problem. You are not looking back, so the last thing you worry about is regret.What do you think that experience would cost? How much would you pay to avoid regret? Dr. Hi Po Bobo Lau from the University of Hong Kong set out to find that answer.

Why now is a good time to start – There is a workout class I attend every week and every week one woman, let’s call her Betty White, shows up 30 minutes late. The class is one hour long, so she misses half of the workout. The class begins at 5pm. She gets there at 5:30pm. Always. Here’s what I learned about that.

More evidence that now is a good time to start – A client once gave me the task of reading through all the reviews of their products. No, they didn’t want to show off with how many five stars they had received. They wanted me to search through the reviews and mark which ones would be helpful to others who were looking to buy their basketball DVDs and training videos. Here’s what I learned about that.

What the NBA Finals would look like if it were a Disney movie – I came up with some examples of who the NBA Finals stars would be if they were Disney characters. Check it out.

Forgetting things may not be a bad thing – But if this is true, why am I not Albert Einstein.

Maury C. Moose needs your help – Find out how you can lend a hand to your favorite pun-loving moose.


Fun With Numbers –

5 Famous Sayings Reworked With A Modern Twist – Which one is your favorite?

10 Things I Would Tell My High School Self – What would you tell yourself back in high school?

5 Good Things – Having a rough week? Feel like there is nothing but negative stories online, on TV and in the newspaper? Looking for a little pick me up? Here are 5 good things going on in our world.

3 Greater Good Lessons from the Golden State Warriors – The latest thing I wish I wrote.

5 Things We Can Learn From The Internet – Turns out the internet is pretty impressive.