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 –

Why do we say “play it by ear”? – Find out why, when we begin to improvise, we use our ear and we do not play things by say, our knee or elbow?

Why Do We Throw Rice At Weddings? – Your drunk uncle throwing out his back out during the Electric Slide, isn’t the only thing thrown at weddings. Find out why.

Why Do We Say “Right Off The Bat”? – Find out if the bat is of the animal, or baseball variety.

Things We Learned –

Why I Would Not Be A Good Football Coach – Forget the fact that I would always run the fumblerooski, there is a new type of scouting that I know I would struggle with. (Here’s a follow up to the original post)

Why I Write My Goals In Crayon – Not just because I am a child trapped in a small adult’s body.

How to get some luck on Friday the 13th – And any day, for that matter.

A Writing Tip For The New Year – Turns out this trip can not only help us with reading books, but also writing books.

The side effects of giving up on your New Year’s resolutions in January – Consult your doctor is your resolution does not last longer than 4 hours.

An example of great writing from Stephen King – See how he paints a perfect picture of what the crowd looks like — race & emotions included — in just 16 words.

Fun With Numbers –

5 Things We Can Learn From SilverwareClick here if you want to learn from forks, knives and spoons.

5 Good Things – If you are having a rough day and need a pick me up, here are a few good things going on in the world.

10 Puzzles – Try these puzzles and let me know how many you solve. I got 6 right.

10 More Strange But True Facts – #10 is important for all men to read.

9 Weird Habits That Famous Writers Formed to Write Better – I want to try #5.

9 Weird Habits That Famous Writers Formed to Write Better

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…

As I have written about before (here & here) we can all use a few writing tips. We can benefit from pretty much anything that helps us get into the habit of writing better and more frequently. No matter how weird it may seem.

Amber Stanley from Lifehack has complied a great list of strange habits that famous writers have formed to improve their writing. The list includes everything from laying down to standing up. I want to try #5.

Click here to check it out.


10 More Strange But True Facts

1. Swedish Fish are made in China and distributed by a company based in New Jersey. I am starting to question just how Swedish those things really are.

2. Mice sometimes cry red tears. Sounds terrifying. I am glad that my only interaction with mice takes place in the happiest place on Earth.

3. When animals wake up from hibernating, they need to sleep for days. I feel the same way on nights when I go to bed at 8pm.

4. A hummingbird’s heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute. Or about the same rate as my heart while I am ordering a milkshake.

5. A box turtle’s heart rate can slow to about one beat every five to 10 minutes. Or about the same rate as mine after I have had a milkshake.

6. Reports have found that the checkout line is the most profitable area of a grocery store. You mean it is not the aisle with the pickled ginger and chicken liver?

7. There are approximately 3.3 billion customer loyalty memberships in the United States. I think my dad accounts for roughly 1 billion of them.

8. Americans eat more than 2 billion slices of frozen pizza each year. I think my younger brother accounts for roughly 1 billion of them.

9. It is an Alaskan state law that a person may only carry a concealed slingshot if he/she has received the appropriate license. To apply for a license, I assume you have to contact the cowabunga dude department.

10. The word hussy used to mean housewife. Piece of advice to all the guys out there…don’t tell your girlfriend you want to make her your hussy.

Why Do We Say “Right Off The Bat”?

Earlier this month I discussed about how I write my goals for the year in crayon. In the post I said:

Right off the bat, the goals are energizing. The fresh-start effect motivates us from January 1st until about January 10th. We hit the gym, stick to our budget and all is golden.

As soon as I wrote that I started thinking about the phrase “right off the bat.” Where did that come from? Is it referring to bat the animal or the baseball?

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

Why Do We Say “Right Off The Bat”?

When we do something right off the bat, we do it without delay. Our response is immediate.

KnowYourPhrase.com explains that the saying can be attributed to baseball. When the bat strikes the ball, the ball is now in play and the team in the field must react. So, the fielders are forced to make a quick decision when a ball is hit…wait for it…right off the bat.

The phrase can be traced back to around the 1880s. In 1883, an example from the Albion New Era newspaper is talking about baseball when it says:

A person unused to it would net catch one ‘fly’ out of fifty, and as for stopping and holding a hot liner right off the bat, he might as well attempt to gather in a solid shot fired point blank from a Parrot gun.”

It appears that the phrase quickly spread outside of baseball, as evidence by an 1888 article from the Biddeford Journal which states:

Let me hear that kid use slang again, and I’ll give it to him right off the bat. I’ll wipe up the floor with him.”

Side Effects May Include…

If you’ve ever seen a commercial for prescription drugs you are aware of the term, “side effects may include.” The commercial spends 20 seconds covering the many reasons why we should ask our doctor about their product. But the last 10 seconds feature the phrase “side effects may include” and then a laundry list of ridiculous things that might happen when starting the prescription. Many times the side effects outweigh anything that can be helped by the drug.

A similar thing happens in other aspects of our lives. In order to help, I will be offering 10 seconds of warning in a new segment called “Side Effects May Include…”.

When You Give Up On Your New Year’s Resolutions Before The End of January, Side Effects May Include…

– Chronic swelling of excuses.

– Abnormal ability to avoid the gym.

– Enlarged growth of regret.

– Increased risk of saying, “I will definitely be able to do it next year.”

– Decreased appetite for goal setting.

– Strange tendency to convince yourself that the year actually ends in January.

– Uncontrollable urge to start back up again in May and not tell anyone you took 3 months off.

– Unstoppable shrinking of your grit.

– Strange tendency to sweat more while walking up stairs.

– Plummeting number of goals achieved.

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 Stephen King’s book 11/22/63

That group was a Martin Luther King dream come true — 50% black, 50% white, 100% happy. “

In this part of the book, King is talking about a group of betters who are lined up to collect their winnings. Rather than a long paragraph describing the scene, he paints a perfect picture of what the crowd looks like — race & emotions included — in just 16 words.

An average writer would have said something like, “the bettors, were equally black and white, and happy.” A good writer would have said something along the lines of, “what’s black and white and glad all over? That line of bettors.”

King topped both of those in a creative, culturally appropriate, and concise way. Something that is not easy to do with just a line about a line.

That is some great writing!

A Writing Tip For The New Year

Have you ever been interrupted while reading a book? Perhaps you got a phone call and you had to put down the story right in the middle of a page, maybe right in the middle of a sentence.

If that has happened to you, chances are you couldn’t wait for that phone call to end. Your mind was focused on finishing that sentence, that page, that chapter.

This feeling is similar to what psychologists call the Zeigarnik Effect which states that we more easily remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks than completed tasks.

We didn’t finish reading the page or the sentence, so we easily remember that we need to go back to the book. Whereas, if we finished the chapter and set the book down uninterrupted, hours or days may go by before we think to pick the book back up.

Turns out, the Zeigarnik Effect can not only help us with reading books, but also writing books.

One of the biggest obstacles to writing a book is actually sitting down and writing. I can find a dozen excuses as to why right now is not the best time to write. I should watch TV. I should make lunch. I should watch a TV show about people making lunch. I do not have the drive to take action and start writing.

One way to get over this hurdle is to use the Zeigarnik Effect to our advantage. When we have to stop something because we are interrupted, we feel uncomfortable because we experience a lack of closure. We want to take action to stop that nagging feeling that arises because we were not able to finish.

We can create this need for action in our writing by interrupting ourselves in the middle of a writing session. Next time you are writing and you are getting near the end of your allotted writing time, stop yourself in the middle of a sentence. You may know exactly how you are going to finish that sentence, but don’t finish. Walk away.

I bet that voice inside your head that needs closure will start talking to you. It will tell you that as soon as you can, you must go back and keep writing. This creates all the drive you need to want to keep writing. And next time you thinking about whether now is a good time to write, that voice will be much louder than the one that says it is time to watch a TV show about making lunch.


HT – Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini

10 Quick Puzzles

Author Richard Wiseman has a fun list of his 10 favourite puzzles (he is British, thus the u in favorite) (<– that made me think of a cheesy new pick up line, feel free to use it…”When I am around you I’m British, because I’s put u in my favorite”) . Anyways…

Check out the following puzzles and post your score in the comment section below to let me know how many you got right. I got 6 right.

1) A rope ladder is hanging over the side of a ship, with the bottom rung just touching the water. The rungs are 25com apart. How many rungs will be under the water when the tide has risen 1 metre?

2) How many calendar months have 28 days?

3) If you are running in a marathon and you overtake the person in second position, what position are you in?

4) I have many keys but few locks. I have space but no room. You can enter, but you cannot come in. What am I?

5) You enter a dark house in the middle of the night. Inside is an oil lamp, a gas fire and a stove full of wood. You only have one match. What do you light first?

6) What gets wetter as it dries?

7) What is as light as a feather, but even the strongest man cannot hold it for more than a few minutes.

8) What sport begins with a ‘T’ and has 4 letters?

9) What occurs once in every minute, twice in every moment, yet never in a thousand years?

10) The maker does not need it, the buyer does not want to use it, and the user doesn’t see it. What is it?

Click here to see the answers. How many did you get right?

5 Good Things

Having a rough start to the 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. Photographer Gives Kids in the Hospital A Magical Christmas Surprise – Australian photographer Karen Alsop took pictures of kids with Santa in front of a green screen at Monash Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Click here to see what they look like with a little Christmas magic!
  2. Butler Men’s Basketball Turns Court Storming Into A Fundraiser – Fans rushed the court in celebration when Butler knocked off top ranked Villanova. Only problem is that a court storming is grounds for a $5,000 fine from the Big East Conference. In a great twist, the school will be donating that money to a charity, Be The Match.
  3. J.J. Watt Surprises Football Fan Who Lost Favorite Jersey After Car Accident – 8-year-old Noah Fulmer was in a scary car accident on New Year’s Eve and to make matters worse, the emergency response team ripped open his JJ Watt jersey to tend to Noah’s injuries. The Houston Texans star found out about this and stopped by the hospital to give Noah some brand new gear.
  4. Teen Carries Brother With Cerebral Palsy On Back For 111-Mile Walk – I love my brothers, but I don’t know if I could do what one teen did for his brother. See what he did.
  5. Dad’s Special Lunch Bag Drawings Help ‘Shy’ Son Come Out Of His Shell – Dominick Cabalo saw that his son Nicholas was shy and having a hard time making friends. He decided to use his art skills to turn Nicholas’ lunch bags into the talk of the school. Check out how cool these are