January 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 January:

Questions I Asked –

What Do You Wonder? – I want to hear what you wonder about. What have you been dying to know? Is there a question you want to know the answer to? Let me know in the comment section below and I will add them to my list of questions that I will answer this year.

Why Are Water Bottles 16.9 Ounces? – The answer was not what I expected.

Who Invented Rock-Paper-Scissors? – At some stage of our development, we all learn the game rock-paper-scissors. It happens somewhere after we become potty trained and before we start texting on the toilet. Find out where it all started.

Things We Learned –

Why We Make Resolutions On New Year’sHere’s why. – We should want to make these changes at any given time, but we typically wait to make the decision to improve these areas of our lives until January. Here’s why.

What A Clean Slate Looks Like – To say the Virginia Tech men’s basketball season started with a thud, would be an insult to thuds. But then something changed.

When It Is Time To Panic – The answer is simple.

There Are Some Struggles We Do Not Remember – If we can handle this task, we can definitely handle starting a new job, or public speaking, or figuring out iTunes.

This Has To Be Deadpool’s Worst Nightmare – Finding out right audience makes a huge difference.

Fun With Numbers –

5 Things We Can Learn From Calendars – The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere. Even with calendars.

1 Way To Set Ourselves Up For Success – If you don’t believe me, take it from Mitch Hedberg.

10 Things You Must Do To Write A Book – I think you will really like #7


Who Invented Rock-Paper-Scissors?

There are certain things in life that we just accept, even though they don’t make any sense. Like why the grading scale has letters A, B, C, D & F, but no E. Or why we yawn just by reading the word yawn.

One similar confounding custom is how a powerful rock could ever lose to a piece of paper.

At some stage of our development, we all learn the game rock-paper-scissors. It happens somewhere after we become potty trained and before we start texting on the toilet.

The game is simple…two players, three choices (rock – a fist, paper – a flat hand, and scissors – a fist with the index and middle fingers together forming a V) and one winner. Rock breaks scissors, scissors cuts paper, paper somehow beats rock.

Where did this game come from? Let’s find out on today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

Who Invented Rock-Paper-Scissors?

The first reference to Rock-Paper-Scissors came in the year 1600 when it was mentioned in the book Wuzazu (not to be confused with the bird from The Lion King) by the Chinese Ming-dynasty writer Xie Zhaozhi. Zhaozhi wrote that the game was called shoushiling, which means hand command, and dated back to 206 BC – 220 AD during the Chinese Han dynasty.

The game was imported to Japan and was called sansukumi-ken, meaning fist games, where A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A. Sansukumi-ken games took many forms, including frog-slug-snake and fox-villiage head-hunter.

The rock, paper, and scissors hand gestures were introduced in the 17th century in the game “Jan-ken.” This become the most well known variation of sansukumi-ken, and by the early 20th century, the game spread beyond Asia. The English-language name  comes from a translation of the names of the three Japanese hand-gestures for rock, paper and scissors. However, in Asia the flat-palm sign signifies cloth rather than paper.

This Has To Be Deadpool’s Worst Nightmare

I knew it wasn’t a normal trip to the library the second I stepped out of my car. I hadn’t even made it out of the parking lot before I spotted blue hair, green masks & red capes. I was there to return a book, but hundreds of others had shown up for the library’s version of Comicon.

The place was full of Trekkies, Cosplayers & Fizzleknots (okay, I may have made up that last one). There were men dressed as women, women dressed as zombies, and zombies dressed as homeless people.

All the hoopla caused me to pretty much sprint to the book drop off, as I was looking to get in and out as quickly as possible. As I was leaving the library, a man dressed in a full red and black costume walked up to the library’s automatic sliding doors. Two kids sitting out front started waving and yelling, “Hi Spiderman! Hi Spiderman!”

Only one problem…the man wasn’t wearing a Spiderman costume. He was dressed as Deadpool.

He turned to the kids and replied, “Deadpool.”

The kids kept on yelling, “Hi Spiderman! Hi Spiderman!” They weren’t giving him a hard time, they just didn’t know the difference between Spiderman & Deadpool.

And who can blame them. Look at the two pictures below. If you are not a huge comic book fan, it is easy to see how you can mistake the two.

spiderman deadpool







But the man was none too pleased. It was clear that he spent a lot of time and money on his Deadpool costume. He was covered from head-to-toe and was even carrying pretend swords (at least I hope they were pretend). “Deadpool,” he kept repeating, but to no avail. The young kids either couldn’t hear him through the red mask, or had already made up their mind that he was Spiderman.

After a few more seconds of basically shouting “Deadpool!” at the kids, the man gave up and went into the library. I didn’t stick around to see what happened next, but here’s my guess…

The man entered the library and was instantly showered with compliments on his awesome Deadpool costume. He may have even won best costume for all I know, his gear was that good.

The man was finally in front of his right audience. And I am certain that those people, the ones who know the difference between Deadpool and Spiderman, would truly get him.

Our message won’t be received by everyone…and that is okay. Some people just aren’t the right audience. Often, like in the case of the Deadpool dilemma, we can do nearly everything right and our first impression can still be a dud. Spectators may think we are something else, or maybe they are confused by our message, or maybe they are just too young (or old).

For Deadpool’s sake, I hope the kids’ confusion didn’t ruin his afternoon, because I am sure he was a big hit with the rest of the Comiconers. He just needed some time to get in front of the right audience.



A Big Struggle We Don’t Remember

The other day I was coloring with a very young boy named Ben. Ben was having a blast sloshing red, green and blue markers around on a piece of paper. I had no clue what he was making, but boy was it colorful.

When we were finished coloring and ready to move onto a new activity, Ben wanted to help put the markers away. He grabbed the red marker in his left hand, and the marker’s cap with his right.

After about a minute, the cap was still not on the marker and Ben’s right hand was covered in red ink. He was trying his darnedest to get that cap on the marker, but it just wasn’t happening. He was like Shaq shooting a free throw — he could hit the rim, but just couldn’t get the dang thing to go in.

We all have been in Ben’s shoes. As kids, each one of us struggled to put a cap on a marker or the square block in the right hole. Manual dexterity is a big, and often frustrating, part of our physical development.

But we probably don’t remember that. That was so long ago, and the struggle seems silly when we are texting with one hand and gripping coffee with the other. We have such command over our heads, shoulders, knees and toes, that we wonder how we ever failed at putting a cap on a marker.

Our ability to coordinate our hand and finger movements to grasp and manipulate objects is no small task. It is a challenge that we struggled with and overcame.

If we can handle that, we can definitely handle starting a new job, or public speaking, or figuring out iTunes. In the midst of any struggle, we think we will never advance. Our confidence is shot, our future is clouded and our hands are covered in red marker.

But hope is not lost. We learned before and we can learn again. And again. And as we learn, the pain of the struggle will dull until eventually we will all but forget that we struggled in the first place. Much like we did when putting a cap on a marker.



10 Things You Must Do To Write A Book

Surveys suggest that around 80% of adults dream of writing a book. Unfortunately, far fewer than 8 out of 10 adults will actually write a book.

If you long to pen a book of your own, here are 10 things you must do…

10 Things You Must Do To Write A Book

  1. Sit and start writing
  2. Repeat step 1
  3. Repeat step 1
  4. Repeat step 1
  5. Repeat step 1
  6. Repeat step 1
  7. Repeat step 1
  8. Repeat step 1
  9. Repeat step 1
  10. Repeat step 1


There is very little magic needed to write a book. It is more about forcing yourself to make time to write. Sure, it helps to have a vision, an outline, or at least some basic idea of what you are going to write about, but unless you actually sit down (I guess you could stand, but that seems like it would be uncomfortable) and write, you will never have a book to call your own.

I Wish I Wrote It: Everything You Need to Know About New Year’s Resolutions

Many times, I will read something online and immediately think, “that was great, I wish I wrote it.” I may not have written it, but I can still share it. Here’s the latest…

Everything You Need to Know About New Year’s Resolutionsby Carolyn Gregoire 

In case you missed it, I have written about a lot about New Year’s resolutions recently. I’ve talked about why we make resolutions in January, what we can learn from a calendar, and one way we can set ourselves up for success.

I have covered many things about New Year’s resolutions, but I haven’t covered everything. Enter this story from DailyGood.org. Okay, so maybe the article doesn’t actually cover everything, but Carolyn Gregoire offers six psychology-based insights to help us make better resolutions — and actually keep them.

  1. Ask, don’t tell.
  2. Stop to consider any potential obstacles.
  3. Get intrinsically motivated.

Click here to read the rest of the list. I like #6.


1 Way To Set Ourselves Up For Success

“I like an escalator because an escalator can never break, it can only become stairs. There would never be an escalator temporarily out of order sign, only an escalator temporarily stairs. Sorry for the convenience.” – Mitch Hedberg

As comedian Mitch Hedberg humorously points out, convenience is a big deal. We have convenience stores that carry everything from bags of ice to ice scrapers. But it doesn’t stop with stores or stairs, we even want our milk to be more convenient.

One study found that people drank 42% more milk when the milk machine was 12 feet away than when it was 25 feet away. Another study used a mess hall to test how much water soldiers drank depending on the location of the water pitchers. The closer the pitcher, the more hydrated the soldiers. Soldiers drank almost twice as much water with pitchers on each dining table than when the water was off on a side table.

And these studies aren’t just limited to beverages. They also feature important things, like dessert. A cafeteria tested the importance of convenience with a cooler full of ice cream. On some days, the researchers kept the lid open and on other days, they closed it. The location of the cooler remained the same. All that changed was how much effort was needed to get to the sweet treat.

Sounds like not much effort to lift a lid, but the results were surprising. If the lid was closed, only 14% of the diners decided to dig in. When the lid was open, 30% of the people helped themselves.

If we can learn anything from milk, water & ice cream, it is that we do not like obstacles. When we think of road blocks, we don’t typically think of lids and limited water options, but even the smallest hindrance can detour our plans.

If we want to set ourselves up for success, we need to limit the obstacles. If our resolution is to visit the gym more often, we should pick the gym nearest to our house. If our goal is to write more, we will want to keep a notebook and pen close by. If we want to eat more ice cream, we need to keep the cooler lid up.



Why Are Water Bottles 16.9 Ounces?

Many of us have made New Year’s resolutions that involve our fitness. We want to lose weight, get in shape and lead a healthy lifestyle.

One way we can do that is by drinking more water. According to one report, 2/3rds of Americans do not drink enough water. We know we should be drinking more water, but for some reason we do not. To increase our water intake, we may keep track of how many plastic water bottles we drink.

If you keep a tally of how many plastic water bottles you drink, you will be marking down your water consumption 16.9 oz at a time. Which leads me to today’s Wonder Why Wednesday question.

Why Are Water Bottles 16.9 Ounces?

When I began researching this topic, I expected an elaborate answer. I thought that maybe the inventor of the plastic water bottle had two lucky numbers, 16 & 9, so he made his bottle big enough to hold 16.9 oz. There has to be some crazy reason that it is 16.9 and not an even 17 or better yet, a nice sold 20oz, right?


Turns out the answer is simple…if you know your oz to liter conversions.

16.9 oz = 0.5L.

So while 16.9 oz may not be a nice even number, half a liter is. Seems simple enough.