March 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 March:

Questions I Asked –

When Were Blinkers Put On Cars? – The creators of the turn signal wouldn’t be happy to learn that 57% of drivers do not use their invention.

What is Adele’s Last Name? – This is a question I have been wanting to ask for awhile. the wait is over.

Where Did The Name March Madness Come From? – Find out who came up with the popular name and when it was first coined.

Where did the term “Can on Corn” come from? – It is just one of many food-related sayings in baseball.

Things We Learned –

Why March Madness is The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – A poem dedicated to my favorite time of the year.

Everything is usable – Real advice from a real author.

This May Be The Most Important TED Talk You Ever Watch – This talk has it all…numbers, charts, pictures, hand gestures, and so much more.

Why a 12 seed keeps beating a 5 seed – It happens all the time, including twice this year.

Why we can be afraid to jump – It has a lot to do with why African impalas are easy to keep in a zoo.

Fun With Numbers –

5 Things We Can Learn From Superheroes – In honor of Batman vs. Superman, we look at capped crusaders and see what they may be able to teach us.

7 things we will never have to ask our doctor – There are many things we should ask our doctor. These seven things are not among them.

10 Great Lines From The Happiness Track – This new book by Emma Seppälä features great research on what makes us happy.

 

Advertisements

Can Of Corn Origin

Major League Baseball’s season begins this Sunday, April 3rd, when the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you are a fan of America’s Pastime, you are well aware of the sport’s many food related terms.

It is not uncommon to see a batter step up to the plate (home base) and be peppered with some high cheese (a fastball located high in the strike zone) featuring a little extra mustard (velocity). You may also see one team receive some home cooking (favorable calls while playing at their home ballpark), allowing them to set the table (get runners on base in front of the power hitters in the lineup) ahead of the meat of their order (batters 3, 4 & 5 in their lineup). The batter at the dish (home base) could hit a grand slam (not the Denny’s kind) or they could get robbed when the outfielder makes a snow cone catch (a catch made with the ball barely caught in the tip of a glove’s webbing).

This smorgasbord of baseball sayings has led me to wonder about another food-related term…

Wonder Why Wednesday: Where Did The Term ‘Can of Corn’ Come From?

One popular baseball term is the “Can of Corn.” This refers to a ball that is hit right to a fielder, creating an easy catch. It is also known as a lazy fly ball or an easy pop out, both of which make sense.

But can or corn? Where does that come from?

According to Baseball-Lingo.com, the phrase dates back to the 19th century when “old time grocers would access cans of corn high on the shelf by knocking it down with a stick and catching it ‘easily’.” The ball floating effortlessly into an outfielder’s glove resembles the can falling slowly off the shelf, into the waiting hands of the grocer.

Makes sense.

Frightened Men Can’t Jump

If African impalas ever figure out how to enter the Olympics, they are going to smash all the jumping world records.

These animals can leap over 10 feet high and 33 feet long. To put that in perspective, the current record for the long jump is 29 feet 4.25 inches. All it will take is one loophole and the world will be introduced to the Michael Phelps of medium-sized antelopes.

With such great soaring ability, you would think it would be difficult for zoos to house these animal-pogo sticks. Must take some very tall walls to keep an impala contained, right?

Wrong.

It actually only takes a three-foot high wall. See, an impala will not jump when it cannot see the landing place. Since it can’t see over the three-foot high wall, it doesn’t jump. It remains in place, even though it could clear a wall three times the size.

Any of my basketball coaches will tell you that I can’t jump very high, but I know how these impalas feel. Not being able to see over the wall is scary. There could frightening things over there like lions or girls.

I used to think that all we needed to do to be willing to take a leap was believe in ourselves. Believe you can accomplish something and anything is possible, right?

I am starting to learn that it isn’t enough to simply have belief in our abilities. I bet impalas believe they are capable of jumping over a short wall. We need to have belief in our ability to land (or crash and get up) in the darkness. If we don’t have this, we will remain on one side of the wall, paralyzed by the unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

H/T to Mark Batterson on the interesting information on the impalas.

5 Things We Can Learn From Superheroes

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. 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 the topic of the biggest movie of the year….

5 Things We Can Learn From Superheroes

1. We All Have A Beginning

All superheroes have an origin story. This is the back-story that tells of a journey which that person took to become a superhero. The story could involve: living as a mutant, being bitten by a spider, or inheriting a parent’s fortune. We may know this part of the story, but it is not the main thing that comes to mind when we picture someone super. We get caught up in the laser vision, the web-slinging, and the awesome gadgets, and forget that even the greatest of superheroes had to start in the beginning.

2. We All Have A Super Power

If you Google “What are the best super powers?” you’ll find over 15 million results covering everything from mind control to superhuman strength. You’ll find a wide range of articles from 25 Superpowers You Wish You Had to 15 Breakfasts to Super Power Your Day (okay, so maybe that second one doesn’t really fit, but I am a sucker for breakfast). The point is that there are a ton of superpowers out there. The key is to find and cultivate what makes each of us super.

3. We Can’t Do It All

Did you know that kryptonite was first introduced so that Superman could go on vacation? Seriously, it is true. In 1943, a mineral named “kryptonite” was used on The Adventures of Superman radio series because Bud Collyer, the actor who played Superman and Clark Kent, wanted a break from the series. Beginning with the episode, “The Meteor from Krypton”, the writers started including Superman’s one weakness. A stand-in groaned for several episodes until Collyer came back from vacation. No matter how super we are (or how bad we want to go on holiday), we all need assistance, and…

4. That’s Why It Helps To Have A Sidekick

Batman has Robin. Holmes has Watson. Potter has Weasley. Even Steph Curry needs Klay Thompson. If it is okay for superheroes to need an assist, it is definitely okay for us to ask for help.

5. Presentation Is Important

If superheroes have figured out one thing, it is presentation. From Ironman to Wolverine, superhero costumes are pretty darn sweet. They have a cool factor that makes the person wearing them seem unstoppable. There is a reason so many kids (and adults) want to dress up like them for Halloween. We may not need skin-tight clothes, but we all have a costume. If you are a blogger, your website is your costume. If you are a chef, your food is your costume. If you are a saxophone player, your Kenny G covers are your costume. We can all work on our presentation by spending some time on our costume.

Why Does That Keep Happening?

Minutes ago, Yale upset Baylor in the NCAA tournament. If this were the NCAA Test Taking Tournament, that result would not be much of a surprise, but in a basketball tournament Baylor is not supposed to lose to an Ivy League school.

Those of you who filled out an NCAA Tournament bracket are well aware that this game was a classic 12-5 upset. The #12 seed is almost always the underdog, but it has become a common March occurrence to see them beat the favored #5 seed.

Why does this keep happening?

Almost exactly one year ago I wrote about that very question. Here’s what I came up with & what it may mean for those of us who aren’t college athletes.

Where Did The Name March Madness Come From?

I know we are all busy making last minute changes to our NCAA tournament brackets today, so I will keep this short…

Today I’m wondering about the origin story of the name, March Madness. Who came up with it? When was it first coined?  Let’s find out in today’s Wonder Why Wednesday…

Where Did The Name March Madness Come From?

The back story of March Madness involves many of the elements that makes the NCAA tournament so popular. David taking on Goliath, a hotly contested battle & ruling decided in the court.

According to Slate, the term March Madness dates back to 1939 when Henry V. Porter, wrote an article called “March Madness” to describe the Illinois High School basketball tournament.  He wrote:

A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.”

Three years later, he followed up with a poem, “Basketball Ides of March,” which read in part: “A sharp-shooting mite is king tonight/ The Madness of March is running.”

The phrase went mostly unnoticed until 1982, when CBS broadcaster (and ex-Chicago Daily News sportswriter) Brent Musburger used it during his network’s NCAA tournament coverage.

In 1989, the Illinois High School Association applied to trademark “March Madness.”

In 1996, GTE, an NCAA corporate partner, distributing a CD-ROM game bearing the March Madness title. This caused a feud between the NCAA and IHSA. The IHSA sued to stop the NCAA’s use of the term. The NCAA argued that it had a common-law trademark on the phrase and was thus allowed to license it at will.

After a lengthy battle in court, the two sides agreed to form the March Madness Athletic Association, a joint holding company. The IHSA owns the name on the high-school level, while the NCAA has the license to use the phrase for the college basketball tournament.

Top 10 Lines From The Happiness Track

Every so often, I am lucky enough to get to write for Fulfillment Daily, a publication that features science-backed news for a happier life. With articles titled, “The Key to Living Like The Happiest People On Earth” & “Why Happiness Is Found When You’re Not Looking For It” you don’t have to look far to see that the site knows a thing or two about happiness.

That, in large part, is thanks to the site’s founder, Emma Seppälä. Not only does Emma frequently contribute to Fulfillment Daily, but she also doubles as Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

If there is anyone who knows how people can find happiness, it is her.

Lucky for us, Emma has written a book, titled The Happiness Track, where she shares what she has learned and teaches how we all can apply the science of happiness to accelerate our success.

I just finished the book and was blown away by the fantastic material. I encourage all of you to get the book and see for yourself. To whet your appetite, here are my favorite lines:

Top 10 Lines From The Happiness Track by Emma Seppälä

10. “But isn’t the point of all that hard work and suffering to be happy? Isn’t the idea that success will bring happiness?”

We rush though our lives and end up tired, stressed and unhappy. We think if we want to be happy, we need to work 24/7. Emma details why the thought that we can never stop accomplishing is one of the 6 myths of success.

9. “Just like a cat who chases a toy but loses interest as soon as he catches it, when we finally get what we want – receiving a big end-of-year bonus, finding the perfect job, or even winning the lottery – we often find that we are not as happy as we thought we would be.”

Science has proven that we are bad at predicting what will make us happy. But not all is gloom and doom. The Happiness Track discusses how we can avoid feeling like a cat chasing a toy by living in the present.

8. “It’s often not the things on your to-do list that lead to stress. It’s your worry about getting them done.”

As someone who creates many to-do lists, I can definitely attest to this. The longer an item stays on the list, the more I start to worry. And the more I worry, the more stressed I become. Emma explains how worry such as this is linked to fatigue. To combat that fatigue, she talks about how we can manage our energy by staying calm.

7. “Rather than thinking of work as work, reframe it by thinking of what you love about it.”

A great chapter in the book details why we need to remember the big picture and focus on the why, not the how. Our ability to do this will help us remember the reasons we care about doing this work in the first place.

6. “In a time and age when everyone is overscheduled and overfocused, creativity is more and more prized – it’s the key to your effectiveness and success, in life and in business, and it can be a never-ending source of joy and happiness.”

Believe it or not, Emma explains how doing nothing leads to creativity.

5. “If we don’t give our minds a break, they cannot engage in the kind of idle activity that leads to creative inspiration.”

Similar to #6, the book shows the importance of purposeful mind-wandering – choosing to take idle time to let your mind unfocus.

4. “Doing something boring to think more creatively sounds counterintuitive – but it works.”

Ever wonder why are we hit with great ideas in the shower? Emma writes that when the mind is partially engaged, its resources are not overly taxed. It is free to make connections and allow original ideas to bubble up to the surface. Makes me want to take a shower!

3. Our best work comes when we “can hear something deeper than the clatter of the world.”

Just as an artist needs to step back from the canvas, we need to spend time doing nothing and get away from the noisy world. Through research, we see why we should embrace silence and let ideas percolate.

2. “No matter what challenges are thrown our way, it is up to us whether we embrace the gifts that life brings to us and that we bring to it – or be blind to them.”

What can we do to avoid being blind? The Happiness Track says it is all about gratitude. Our ability to be grateful will make us happier and more successful.

1. “Research suggests that self-focus harms you in four ways: it creates blind spots, ruins your relationships, makes you weak in the face of failure, and damages your health.”

Rather than being self-focused, the book explains that we need to be other-focused. We can succeed through compassion. Sound hard? Science actually shows that we are naturally wired to be other-focused. This is because compassion benefits you and everyone around you. And because this book has it all, Emma offers ways we can increase our compassion.

Everything Is Usable

My dentist has a German accent. With his blinding lights and pointy tools, I like to pretend he is a super villain trying to get me to reveal the location of James Bond.

I know that is far fetched, but it definitely makes the fluoride rinse more exciting.

Remember that visual…I will return to it momentarily.

I recently attended an event at a local bookstore featuring author JA Jance. In talking about her writing process, Jance explained that her brain is like a blender – things go in one way, they spin around for awhile, and then they come out in a slightly different version.

Because of this blender-like brain, she has learned a very important lesson: everything is usable.

Jance tries to capture even the slightest details because she has found that almost anything she’s experienced has the potential to make an appearance in one of her books.

For example, one time her sister needed to move a cow around a farm. All alone and without a rope, the sister removed her bra and used it to pull the animal back to the barn.

Fast forward to a recent book where Jance’s main character is cornered without a weapon. How did Jance allow her character to escape? She had the heroine take off her bra and use it as a slingshot.

A rope-bra blended into a rope-slingshot.

Jance was in town promoting her new book, Clawback, which revolves around the main character Ali Reynolds as she tried to solve the murder of a man whose Ponzi scheme bankrupted hundreds of people.

Guess where Jance got the idea?

She and her husband were victims of a Ponzi scheme. They lost $500,000 in one of the biggest fraud schemes in the state of Washington. Before the first chapter in Clawback, Jance dedicates the book to the people who gave her 500,000 reasons to write a book.

Everything is usable.

That is great advice for all of us authors out there. We never know what events we can draw from that will add to, or shape, our stories.

Maybe we have a crazy uncle who would make a great character. Or perhaps we have an old car that would serve as the perfect getaway ride. Or maybe we have a German dentist who is a perfect super villain.

Nothing is too far fetching. Everything is usable.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

With selection Sunday just days away, I felt like sharing lyrics to a song dedicated to March Madness, the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With all the fans yelling
And every team telling you “the championship is near”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
There will be buzzers for beating and upsets in seeding
With so much college basketball
It’s the hap-happiest season of all!
There’ll be big men for posting
Guards coast to coasting
And highlight plays that make you say whoa.
There’ll be Cinderella stories
And tales of the glories of
Tournaments long, long ago.

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be Grant Hill a-throwing
To Laettner for showing
When Duke games are near
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
There’ll be great picks for boasting
Bad decisions for roasting
And Denzel putting on a show
There’ll be injuries that are gory
And tales of the glories of
Bryce Drew long, long ago
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much replays for showing
And tears will be flowing
When losses are near
It’s the most wonderful time
It’s the most wonderful time
It’s the most wonderful time
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!