Ten New Year’s Resolutions You Never Thought Of

Drum roll please. Here are ten New Year’s resolutions you, being a sane adult of above-average intelligence, never thought of. Which is a good thing.

  1. Adopt a new vice – Why all the bull about trying to stop a vice, like smoking or junk food? Everyone knows you’re not going to do it. Instead, go out and get a new vice. Start snorting Kool-Aid or hijacking school buses full of penguins.
  2. Eat as many weird meats as you can – You can define weird any way you like. Frogs, turtles, snakes, lizards, worms. Nah, those aren’t weird enough. Chicken embryos, fish excrement, maggots, and testicles of just about any animal. That’s more like it.
  3. Read every street sign you see out loud – Whether you’re walking down the street by yourself or on a crowded bus, read those street sounds loud and proud. Articulate each and every one. Some may thank you for the reminder, others will punch you in the face.
  4. Fart downwind – Not as easy as it sounds, especially in a building with no wind. To rectify that situation, keep a handheld fan on your person at all times. Every time you fart, fan it downwind. Fart, fan, fart, fan, fart fan, just like that.
  5. Set the World Record for Most Times Abducted by Aliens – Might be tough to carry this one out. Unless you start carving mountains out of your mashed potatoes or invent warp drive technology or [insert your favorite sci-fi/alien reference here].
  6. Learn to play the accordion – Weird Al Yankovic played one, so why can’t you? The key is to practice, practice, practice. Especially late at night, when you can’t sleep because all the weird meats you’re eating are causing massive downwind farts.
  7. End all discussions with “To be continued…” – Leave everyone hanging. Extra points if you can end on a cliffhanger or an especially important point.
  8. Spit generously – Nothing says “manly” like lodging a good, healthy loogie from the gullet and landing with a satisfying blop. And chicks totally dig it.
  9. Start ending sentences with a preposition – You know you want to. This includes blog posts, of course. Ending with prepositions is where it’s at.
  10. Suck less on a daily average – Since the opposite of suck is blow, then to carry out this resolution, you can thusly and simply, blow more.

And no, I am not resolving to do any of these. If you would like to, then, please stand upwind of me.

How to Speed Read

With an easy schedule, I can read about a book a week. I haven’t had an easy schedule in a while unfortunately, but I can still complete a book relatively quickly.

This is because I speed read. Now, I’m no lightning-fast reader. I won’t be winning any speed reading competitions anytime soon. But I’m guessing a book a week is faster than the average reader.

Interested in speed reading too? Speed reading is a “collection of reading methods which attempt to increase rates of reading without greatly reducing comprehension or retention,” according to Wikipedia (and if Wikipedia says it, it must be true, ha ha). There are many speed reading methods out there, such as minimizing distractions, skimming, meta guiding, subvocalization removal, and schematic processing. Let’s go over each one.

Minimizing Distractions
It is easier to comprehend a piece of information if there are few or no distractions around. If you’re at home, turn off the TV, laptop or radio. If you’re commuting to work on a noisy bus or train, try noise cancellation earphones with easy-going music.
Skimming
This involves scanning a paragraph to get the gist of its meaning. Many authors use filler words and sentences that don’t add to the message. Even words like “a,” “and,” and “the” can be skipped. In other words, don’t read and think about each & every word — glance through the text to pick up just the relevant words. If you get good at this, you can even read by common phrases instead of individual words. This is my preferred method.

There is a technique similar to skimming called the Z method where you read one line, diagonally sweep across the second line backwards to the beginning of the third line, then read the third line. This doesn’t work for me though.

Meta Guiding
Some people find it helpful to use some kind of visual guide, like a finger or pen, to follow the passage of text. By moving the pointer under the sentence you are reading at a brisk pace, you aid your eye in skimming the sentence. I do this when there are distractions I can’t minimize, though I do it more for comprehension and not for speed — meaning I move my finger slowly under the text.
Subvocalization Removal
If you sound out each word in your head as you read, you are subvocalizing. Doing this can slow down your pace. There are techniques to remove this habit, such as chanting a repetitive phrase like “A-E-I-O-U” or counting “1, 2, 3, 4″ over & over again as you read. I don’t do this either, though I sometimes subvocalize key words as I’m skimming. Perhaps slows me down, though it doesn’t bother me.
Schematic Processing
This method involves training your mind to read familiar words and concepts more efficiently, while employing specialized study skills for unfamiliar material. I don’t know much about this method, except that it’s based on the work of Malcolm Knowles and his theory of andragogy.

The drawbacks of speed reading are comprehension and lack of sentence appreciation. Comprehension is probably the main detriment for most people. Being an aspiring author, I appreciate a well-constructed sentence. Whenever I’m reading a great author, I will purposefully slow down so I can take in each sentence. However, I have to consciously do this; otherwise I will automatically speed-read my way through the book.

To combat loss of comprehension, I sometimes pause after an important paragraph or chapter and think about it critically. I will visualize the author’s message and find ways to relate it to my life and experiences. Sometimes I’ll conjure up other examples to support the author’s thesis. Other times, I’ll discover conflicts and holes in the author’s argument. In either case, this act of critical thinking significantly aids my comprehension of the material.

So that’s my formula for speed reading and comprehension: minimizing distractions, skimming, and thinking critically about what I am reading.

Do you speed read? If so, how do you do it?

Duck Evolution

“What do you think life would be like if we evolved from ducks?”

She looked up into the sky and, without missing a beat, replied, “There would be a lot more going on in the sky, that’s for sure.”

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The Inland Empire

When I first heard the acronym “IE” I thought it meant “Internet Explorer.” That’s because I am a web geek and IE in the web world means Internet Explorer.

Now I know better. The initials IE can stand for many things. A web browser that has frequently frustrated many a web developer. A Latin abbreviation for “id est,” which corresponds to “that is” and not “for example.” Or a hot, dry, wasteland of a Californian desert with the occasional pocket of life and delicious food.

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I’ll Be Right Barack

A Girl:
“I’ll be right Barack.”
A Boy:
“Wait. What? What did you just say?”
Girl:
“I said I’ll be right back.”
Boy:
“No you didn’t. You said you’ll be right Barack.”
Girl:
“Yea, you’re right, I did.”

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Text Messaging Etiquette

Have you committed a text faux pas recently? Texting, the short-hand for “text messaging via a mobile device,” is such a common communication method now that a whole new set of manners and etiquette has arisen.

How many of these do you break regularly?

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Ode to Commode

Here I sit,
broken-hearted.

Came to shit,
only farted.

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Mr. Cornne in Brazil

Background:
A series of vignettes of Mr. Cornne, a young American high school teacher working in a small town in Brazil. Based on a true story. All dialogue is in Portuguese.

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Turtle Snack Attack

“Awww, what a cute little turtle!” he marveled. The baby turtle, about the size of his thumb’s fingernail, wiggled on his finger. Its tiny legs struggled to climb and move somewhere.

“It’s so cute it looks almost good to eat! Hmm… maybe…”

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The Little Lemur

It was a fine sunny day when I took a stroll through the zoo with my stuffed puppy. Because, c’mon, who wouldn’t want to stroll through the zoo with their stuffed puppy?

I passed by the lemur cage and heard a rattle. A lemur was staring up at me with wide, round eyes.

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