Monday, February 8, 2010

Need to memorize something?

Here's some software that'll help you.

If it's a long passage (speech, poems, verse, etc...), try this:

If it's rote stuff where flash cards would be handy (State capitals, 2-letter scrabble words, days of the week, etc...), the best program out there seems to be Anki. The software seems to be originally designed for vocab, but the flash card design, a form of Hermann Ebbinghaus' effective coding techniques, and sharing and uploading with networks (or phones!) makes this a simple and accessible program for long term retention.

My new favourite blog

Barking up the wrong tree blog just asks really cool questions and then presents evidence toward an answer. Simple as that. Also, the answers usually have some research paper backing, so there's at least some credibility to them, theoretically.

For example:

How important is physical attractiveness to a happy marriage?
Physical appearance plays a crucial role in shaping new relationships, but does it continue to affect established relationships, such as marriage? In the current study, the authors examined how observer ratings of each spouse's facial attractiveness and the difference between those ratings were associated with (a) observations of social support behavior and (b) reports of marital satisfaction. In contrast to the robust and almost universally positive effects of levels of attractiveness on new relationships, the only association between levels of attractiveness and the outcomes of these marriages was that attractive husbands were less satisfied. Further, in contrast to the importance of matched attractiveness to new relationships, similarity in attractiveness was unrelated to spouses' satisfaction and behavior. Instead, the relative difference between partners' levels of attractiveness appeared to be most important in predicting marital behavior, such that both spouses behaved more positively in relationships in which wives were more attractive than their husbands, but they behaved more negatively in relationships in which husbands were more attractive than their wives. These results highlight the importance of dyadic examinations of the effects of spouses' qualities on their marriages. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)
Source: Beyond initial attraction: Physical attractiveness in newlywed marriage. By McNulty, James K.; Neff, Lisa A.; Karney, Benjamin R. Journal of Family Psychology. Vol 22(1), Feb 2008, 135-143.

Here are other good recent ones:

Yes, even Grandma had premarital sex:

Does feeling like a victim make you selfish?

Can living like you're young prevent aging?

How to make good experiences even more pleasurable (and bad ones even worse)? Hint? Interruption... just stop for a second and think. Refocusing on the task at hand really does the trick!

A silly trick I use all the time to remember the moment forever in and out of the moment. Thoughts, feelings, things left unsaid.

The Southwest, part 1

Playing with the idea for a year or so, Adam and I finally took the plunge and flew out to Vegas... only to drive to New Orleans, and back again.

Scheduled to take place over roughly 10 days, we stayed two nights in Las Vegas to kick off the festivities.

Milan booked us into the Mandalay there, conveniently right next to the airport..

Vegas is great, but these days, how much more than two nights does one need. In fact, if Milan wasn't there we'd surely be on the road after one night.

The building above look familiar? Libeskind strikes again.

I call this: Milan, looking sketchy on a cell phone. What a great dude.

We were then off on our first leg: Las Vegas, NV to Williams, AZ.

Approximately 216 miles, or 348 kms. A relatively easy early drive.

Speaking of sketchy, our Hyundai Sonata did not have plates for the duration of the trip. We had a 30 day temporary permit lacquered on our front windshield, and a Budget dude telling us "yeah, that's how it's supposed to be." While we were nervous this could cause some issues in Texas, it turned out that this isn't that far out of the norm down there...

First stop, El Pollo Loco.

Adam sent me this tidbit: Apparently Pollo Loco started in Mexico, and still has ambitions to conquer KFC. But I think this is the best part of its Wikipedia entry: The chain's most recent marketing efforts, featuring a Mexican playing a character named El Caliente (Spanish for 'The Hot One') (played by Matt CedeƱo), have drawn fire from Chicano advocacy groups who claim that the ads depict a stereotypical view of Latinos. Generally, however, El Caliente is seen as less offensive than previous Latino mascots, such as the Frito Bandito.

The meal was judged unanimously delicious. Honestly, it wasn't that bad at all.

For reference, it is here:

View Larger Map
It, ummm, obviously hadn't been built yet at the time of this photo, but when you see an A&W and a KFC, you'll know you're about to have a better meal than both of those.

For more pointless information about El Pollo Loco, please visit, as I just have,

Now, only about 40 miles outside Las Vegas was the Hoover dam!

Or, more specifically in this photo, the bridge above, The Hoover Dam Bypass, for those with too many dams in their lives.

An aerial shot of the project should help make this somewhat sensical:

On the other side of the dam we entered Arizona.

Take a look down...

Btw, doesn't the picture with Adam look so much better than the picture of the bridge and dam alone? Now, obvious the additional subject matter helps - hell, those shots from a $20/hour Hotel 6 bed in Amarillo look phenomenal - but, a photo with a person in it adds context and greater expression. I love taking photos of people. Front or back, side, alone, together. Body language, instant freezing of a thought expressed through every ounce of your body with an unlimited time period to read into it. Ugh... I get shivers.

Or, chalk it up to different exposures, angles, and colours. Your call ;)

The actual dam, not being done justice by the shot, and overshadowed by the bypass.

Back on the road...

It wasn't too late as we entered Williams, AZ. With a population of around 3,000 and about an hour from the Grand Canyon, this seemed like the ideal stop as it would be our first feel of old Route 66.

But before that, dinner and sleep, and explore tomorrow.

Hmmm... I'm sure I recognize her from somewhere...*

*The line I wish I thought of here? Before dinner, we decided to hit up the local wax museum where Adam decided to pose with his ex-wife. (Thanks Tyler!)

We get all the way down to Williams AZ and decide to eat at a place called "Pancho McGillicuddy's".

There will be more...

Jowi Taylor speaks tonight

MASS LBP is pleased to announce MASS Talk no. 8 with Jowi Taylor

During his decade-long tenure at CBC Radio, Jowi Taylor was host, writer and co-producer of such notable series as Global-Village, The Wire (winner of a 2006 Peabody Award, and AWESOME), The Nerve (currently re-running Sunday nights on Radio Two, and right up my alley) and Invisible Cities.

Jowi's independent project Six String Nation explores history, geography, identity and the shifting parameters of Canadian culture through the lens not just of music but of one very special guitar.

Please join host MASS LBP and Jowi Taylor in a discussion about what his work has revealed about the nature of Canadian identity.

Direct link to free tickets:

I've seen Jowi speak before when he released his Six String Nation book, and even shared the pleasure and privilege of a road trip down to NYC with him and his loving woman Sarah. I can guarantee you a special Monday evening here. Print your free ticket from the link above as space is limited, and see you there.