Huey Lewis's "Back To The Future" Cameo!

I might just be the last person alive in the 1980s to learn this!

But do you remember that pivotol scene in Back To The Future, where Marty's band, The Pinheads, is trying out for their school's Battle of The Bands? And they are doing a great cover of Huey Lewis & The News' "The Power of Love"? And the stiff nerdy adult judges stop them to say "it's just too darn loud"?

In case you need a reminder!

As it turns out, the judge with the megaphone is Huey Lewis, my brother informed me on Christmas day! What's a fun ironic part for him.

That movie is brilliant. :)


Original Titles For Classic Novels

Sometimes authors go through several novel names before landing on one. Below are some examples of title "first drafts" of books whose names have become part of our culture.

Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

1. The Strike by Ayn Rand

2. The High-Bouncing Lover by F. Scott Fitzgerald

3. Atticus by Harper Lee

4. The Last Man In Europe by George Orwell

5. Fiesta by Ernest Hemingway

6. First Impressions by Jane Austin

7. Catch-11 by Joseph Heller

8. Mistress Mary by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I would imagine some of our slang would have been much different if some of these titles ended up getting published. Would we call a no-win situation a "Catch-11", you think? :)


Your Left Side Is Likely Your "Good Side"

Straight from September's issue of Reader's Digest:
Your "good" side is more science than pose. Scientists at Wake Forest University showed research subjects photographs of 20 male and female faces taken from opposite angles. The participants uniformly found the left side of the faces more appealing than the right. 
Since the brain's right hemisphere is better at signaling emotion than the left - and controls the left side of the face - facial expressions tend to be stronger on the left. 
Perhaps that's why iconic paintings like Vermeer's Girl With The Pearl Earring lead with the left side.

Which photo of Angelina do you think looks better? 
Science says the one on the right!


Lions And Ligers And Liligers, Oh My!

I just learned today that not only do "ligers" (half-lion and half-tigers) exist, but now so do the babies of lions and ligers: "liligers".

This little girl was born in a zoo in Siberia, and is thought to be the first liliger in existence. It's the first one in captivity at least. She's too cute! And she has a pretty great name.

And if that's not cute enough, she's being raised by a common domestic cat, since her mother stopped producing milk. Can you imagine her cuddling with her adopted cat-mama? My heart just exploded. :)

source: abcnews.com


How Many Spaces To Use After A Sentence?

Apparently the answer is ONE. I can already feel myself wanting to use two spaces after each.  sentence.  I.  write!

According to an article on The Atlantic, the only reason that we ever used two spaces after the end of a sentence was because of a flaw in typewriters, and now every major style guide recommends just one space. Why did typewriters lead us to use two?

Well, with typewriters, all letters, numbers, and symbols all occupied the same amount of space (called "monospaced type"). So an "i" would take up the same amount of space on a line as a "W", thus leaving much more white space on the page. With more white space, it was harder to detect when a sentence ended, so the standard became to use two spaces.

Here's a great example from The Skilled Workman (which has a ton of typography tips for publishing):

Now, and since the 1970s, besides the little-used "courier" font, we use "proportional fonts" where the letters only take up the space they need. As a result, it's much easier to see where sentences end and begin. So the extra space has been dubbed "unnecessary".

To read the entire explanation from The Atlantic, click here. And for an interesting counter-argument, click here. :)

Typewriters didn't only affect our sentence-spacing, but the beginning (and arguably modern misuse) of the "Caps Lock" key. Check out a great article about that, too, on Slate.com: Click here!


Make Decisions When You Have To Pee!

Okay friends, our time with solely Reader's Digest facts has come to an end for now. But don't fret! I am sure that we'll be learning more from it as the year progresses. I am just going to go back to posting tidbits from all over. It'll be fun, okay?

For the last in my Reader's Digest series, I wanted to include this gem from an article in their June 2012 issue called "4 Wacky Health Tips That Work":

Tip 1: Eat Sugar, Act Sweeter

Tip 2: Smellier Foods Help You Slim Down

Tip 3: Curse To Kill Pain [Faster]

Tip 4: Make Important Decisions When You (Really) Gotta Go
"People with full bladders may be better at making decisions, according to a Dutch study. If you show self-control in terms of a bodily function (such as going to the bathroom), you're more likely to show self-control in decision making, holding out for a long-term reward instead of jumping on an impulse."
So, if you felt discouraged with last week's post about decision fatigue, maybe this will help you know what to do when you're fatigued, but still really need to make the decision!

I'm curious to test the theory. I bet you get different results, though, if you tell the person "you can go to the bathroom as soon as you make this decision." In that case, the impulse may win!



Other Uses For Dryer Sheets

Who knew that dryer sheets could be used for so much more than fluffing your towels?  Reader's Digest did, of course!

From their June 2012 issue, you can use dryer sheets to:

"Remove Fur": Rub a sheet over furniture and upholstery to eliminate pet hair

"Perfume the Room": Put a sheet in your vacuum cleaner bag to add a fresh scent while cleaning

"Degunk Pots": Drop a sheet into a dirty pot or pan, fill with hot water, and let soak overnight to help get off grime

"Scent Your Stories": Place a sheet in an old book and place in a ziplock bag for 3 days to remove the musty odor

"Keep The Car Bug-Free": Dip one in water and use to wipe away dead bugs on your windshield and grill

"Discourage Deer": Tie one-inch strips of the sheet on trees or plants to repel deer

If that's not enough, check out these 10 uses for dryer sheets from Real Simple: click here!

Isn't it nice to fix problems with stuff you already have?


Hospital Emergency Codes

Have you ever wondered what the classic "Code Red" means when you hear it announced in the background of your favorite hospital television show? Or maybe you've actually heard a "code" announcement at your hospital?

Reader's Digest to the rescue! Below are the definitions of the common hospital codes that they published in their May 2012 issue (although codes can vary).
RED: fire
BLUE: adult medical emergency
WHITE: pediatric medical emergency
PURPLE: child abduction
GRAY: combative person
SILVER: combative person with a weapon and/or hostage
YELLOW: bomb threat
PINK: infant abduction
ORANGE: hazardous-materials spill
BROWN: bed full of excrement
Actually, those all sound awful! Let's just hope and pray that we all only reference this guide because we hear them on tv!


"Decision Fatigue"

According to the May issue of Reader's Digest, "Decision Fatigue" has become a catchphrase. In their words:
[The definition]: The notion that the mental work of making decisions over and over again can warp your judgement and lead to poor choices. In one example, an Israeli study found that judges granted more parole requests early in the day than they did after making a series of rulings. According to the New York Times, "the more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain."
Of course, does everyone agree that granting parole requests is the "better" choice? :)

Luckily, it's all explained more thoroughly in the New York Time's article. To read it, click here. Lots of good learning to be had there! It seems like we probably all can relate to feeling worn out after using a lot of mental energy. Check it out!


Why Is A Marathon 26 Miles?

From the "Word Power" section of the April issue of Reader's Digest:
A marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards. The word and that oddly specific distance date back to the 490 BC battle of Marathon, Greece, in which the Greeks defeated the Persians. A messenger carried news of the victory to Athens across some 26 miles. Centuries later, in the 1896 Olympics, the footrace debuted and adopted the name marathon in honor of the runner.
Is anyone else wondering how long it took that messenger to carry the message? :)


Vinegar: A Dieter's Friend?

For those of you just joining us, I am recapping some of the things I've learned this year (so far) from my favorite little magazine Reader's Digest.

Today's fact comes from April's issue in an article about their new book, The Digest Diet. It explains the health benefits of eating vinegar (their example was in a salad dressing):
[Why do salads at the beginning of meals starves off hunger?] One reason is that salads are a great source of fiber: lettuce greens, carrots, tomatoes, and the like all have plenty of this macronutrient. Fiber's effects on increasing feelings of satiety are well documented. 
The surprise here? The vinegar that comes along for the ride in salad dressing also helps you feel full. Research has shown that vinegar can lessen the glycemic effect of a meal (meaning it tends to not spike your blood sugar), which has been linked to satiety that reduces food intake. Vinegar may also prevent body-fat accumulation, according to a 2009 animal study by Japanese researchers. Mice that were fed acetic acid, the main component of vinegar, for six weeks accumulated less body fat.
Not a bad condiment! Especially paired with something with fiber, it appears.

If you don't like salad, though, snacking on pickles or pickled things can accomplish the same goal. Or there is a long list of vinegar-based recipes on homecooking.about.com if you're interested!


Words That Should Exist In English 3

I am always on the lookout for words that can save me time and energy. Oftentimes, unfortunately, the most "efficient" new words I learn only exist in other languages. Maybe if we all work together, we can popularize them in the melting-pot English language?

Reader's Digest appears to share my love for these words. Last year, I posted some they found. In their April 2012 issue, they published some more in an editorial humor section written by Andy Simmons, so I thought I'd pass them along to you, too:

Cotisuelto: One who wears his shirttail outside his trousers.
(Caribbean Spanish)

Bakku-shan: The experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.

Kummerspeck: Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, "grief bacon".

Pesamenteiro: Someone who joins a funeral party just for the refreshments.

Zeg: The day after tomorrow.

I am sure these will save you tons of words when texting, as you probably use these phrases all of the time.

ie. Dale, a contisuelto, was so upset about the bakku-shan, he became a pesamenteiro and gained a ton of kummerspeck. He's going to another funeral zeg!
words saved: approx. 39



Teens WANT Braces?

Yeah, I think I am over braces.

From March 2012's issue of Reader's Digest:
"Today's teens are opting for braces even if their grins are good to go. Dr. Paul Siu, a Manhattan dentist, is fitting straight-toothed teens with non-movable braces just for the look. 'When I've done it for one kid, all his classmates get it,' he says. 'There's a demand because of peer pressure to look like everyone else.'
source: New York Post
Part of me understands - I definitely wanted braces as a kid, but my teeth were a mess - but this also seems really sad to me. If kids that young are going through all of that pain just to fit in (although the non-movable braces are likely to be unarguably less painful), I can only imagine what they'll do when they are older if they stick with that mindset.

Let's just hope this just stays a pre-teen fad!


Babies' Super-Grip!

This is a "Stuff I Just Learned" favorite, from the March 2012 issue of Reader's Digest:

Stronger than it looks?
"Using what's known as the palmar grasp reflex, many infants can squeeze a finger or small object tightly enough to support their body weight if they were lifted. Experts think the reflex, which lasts until a baby is about six months old, may have originated with young primates who needed to hold tight to their mothers while they moved from branch to branch."
Did you catch that? When your friend's baby grips your finger with his little hand, this says that if you lifted your hand, the baby could hang from your finger on his own strength! I am just not sure if I believe that, although I know that babies do hold on tight. I wonder if my brother will let me try with his new baby... :)

Dr. John B. Watson & Rosalie Raynor studying a newborn's grasp reflex, 1916-1920
(via WeirdHistoryPix)


How To Remove Wax From Cloth

From Reader's Digest, March 2012:
"Remove candle wax from a tablecloth, carpet, or couch by gently rubbing the spot with a plastic bag full of ice until [the wax] hardens. Then gently tap the splotch with a hammer and vacuum the chips."
And now if you'll excuse me, I have some stain-removing to do... ;)


How Long To Cook Hard-Boiled Eggs?

Reader's Digest recently answered this question for us thankfully. Making hard-boiled eggs is one of those things that seems like it should be common knowledge, but is it? :)

From March's issue, here are their simple hard-boiled-egg cooking instructions:

1. Place eggs in a pot large enough to hold them comfortably
2. Fill the pot with water until it's about 2 inches over the eggs
3. Bring the water in the (uncovered) pot to a boil over medium-high heat
4. Remove from heat
5. Cover

Then, based on the amount of time you leave the eggs in the hot water, you'll get different levels of "boiled"ness. They offered this handy guide:

3-Minute Soft-Boiled Egg
The yolk is completely runny and barely warm; the white is still slightly liquid.

5-Minute Soft-Boiled Egg
The yolk is cooked but runny; the white is soft.

7-Minute Medium-Boiled Egg
The yolk is partially hardened; the white is fully cooked and almost solid.

9-Minute Hard-Boiled Egg
The yolk is firm but not too dry; the white is also firm.

11-Minute Hard-Boiled Egg
The yolk is edible but "a little chalky"; the white is firm.

Also, they recommend replacing the hot water with ice-cold water in the pot right away to prevent the yolks from having a green "skin".

Hope that helps all of you hard-boiled egg and deviled egg lovers!


Avocados Help Prevent Depression

Hey friends!  Back to the Reader's Digest facts. Doesn't time fly? ;)

Today's tidbit comes from the February 2012 issue about "Nature's Best Stress Soothers". It lists superfoods fish, dark chocolate, and black tea as food that help to lower blood pressure and relax. Then it had this to say about avocados:
The flesh of these delicious green fruits is loaded with two powerful stress fighters: potassium and monounsaturated fatty acids. Both nutrients can lower blood pressure, and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) may play a part in helping ward off depression. In a large 11-year study, the more MUFAs Spanish participants ate, the less likely they were to be depressed. Researchers think the fats may improve how the brain absorbs the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin.
So scrape your avocados well when making your guacamole! Getting more of the "flesh" may be a healthy way to eat your way through rough times. :)

Other foods high in MUFAs, according to livestrong.com: olive oil, seeds, and nuts. Eat away!


Ann Arbor Karaoke

We're taking a Reader's Digest Break this week - don't worry, though, I have more fun facts to share!

In the meantime (and this may not apply to many of you) I wanted to make a list of places that offer karaoke in the Ann Arbor area, since I am having a very hard time finding that succinctly on the web. Maybe you also have that problem?

Here's what I can find (as of today):
(this does not count the places that only do karaoke: Blue Karaoke, Friends Karaoke, etc)

couldn't find any!

           Aut Bar
Good Time Charley's
Banfield's Westside Grill
            Blue Leprechaun
BTB Cantina
Tower Inn Cafe (Ypsilanti)
Powell's Pub (Ypsilanti)
The Arena Bar & Grill
Bel-Mark Lanes
Circus Bar & Billiards
Fenders Bar & Grill (Milan)
Katie's Food & Spirits (Dexter)
Bel-Mark Lanes 
Circus Bar & Billiards
Dan's Downtown Tavern (Saline)
Hamburg Pub (Hamburg)
Thompson's Bar & Grill (Saline)
Bel-Mark Lanes
Circus Bar & Billiards
Hamburg Pub (Hamburg)
Powell's Pub (Ypsilanti)
Tap Room (Ypsilanti)
Places that may have karaoke, but aren't answering their phones:
- Blue Leprechaun
Rick's American Cafe
Places that no longer have karaoke:
- The Blind Pig
- Conor O'Neill's
- Elbow Room (closed)
- The Heidelburg Restaurant
If you know of any others or changes to this list, please let me know so my list can be more complete!
And please call ahead to make sure this info is accurate for the night you want to go.

Hope this helps all of you brave singers in Washtenaw County. :)


Sleep Sunglasses

Also in February's issue, Reader's Digest did an article called "Energize Your Life!" They interviewed a bunch of health professionals to get their tips for feeling better.

The neurology expert had a potential solution for a common sleeping problem that people have now that digital devices are such a big part of our lives:
Pick up some sleep shades 
The blue light emitted by your computer screen, smart phone, and television stimulate your brain, making it hard to fall asleep. But even insomniacs typically aren't willing to give up screen time for the recommended hour or two before bed, says Lisa Shives, MD. So she's found another solution: blue-light filtering glasses. Put them on if you're using the computer before bed, and you'll sleep much better, Dr. Shives says. Find them at: safetyglassesusa.com/amberlens.html
Hopefully this will help you still get enough sleep after catching up on "Stuff I Just Learned". :)


Customer Service App

In the "Money Digest" section of February's issue of Reader's Digest, it suggests this app if you need to talk to a customer service representative and are fed up trying to get through the automated system:
FastCustomer is a free iPhone and Android app that calls customer service numbers, navigate those maddening phone trees, and notifies you when a service rep is on the line.
Almost makes me want to get an iphone!


Cleaning Tips & Tricks

For their February issue, Reader's Digest interviewed housecleaners and collected their best ideas for getting houses spic and span.

Here are a couple that may be particularly useful:
- The best way to clean blinds: Close them, then wipe up and down with an old dryer sheet. It'll create an antistatic barrier that helps prevent dust from building up again. 
- To clean glass and mirrors: Use coffee filters, not paper towels. They leave no streaks or lint -- and they're cheap. 
- A great nontoxic all-purpose cleanser: Just put two squirts of Seventh Generation dish liquid in a spray bottle and fill it with water. 
- To clean your microwave oven: microwave a cup of water with some baking soda in it until it boils. That eliminates odors and makes it super easy to wipe away all of the stuck-on stuff. 
- To clean cobwebs: Use a yardstick covered by a tube sock. That also works for cleaning under stoves and refrigerators. 
- Shine your bathroom tiles: Use lemon oil. It also helps prevent mold and mildew. 
- To eliminate that ring in your toilet: Drop in a bubbling denture tablet, and leave it for at least 30 minutes. The stain will come off with just a few swishes of the brush.
Also, the housecleaners said that their "biggest secret weapon" is a product called Bar Keeper's Friend. It apparently can be used on almost anything (glass-top stoves, counters, toilets, sinks) and leaves a great shine after easily cutting through grime.

Hope it helps!


Homemade Ice Packs

From the Reader's Digest December issue:

How To Make a Better Ice Pack
Pour 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol in a ziploc freezer bag (quart size); seal the bag and throw it into the freezer. The alcohol will keep the water from freezing solid, leaving you with a moldable slush that conforms perfectly to knees and foreheads.
That sounds like a much easier and cheaper alternative to running out to the store to buy an ice pack next time you get hurt!


Texting Acronyms

The next in our Reader's Digest series, the "Texting Cheat Sheet" from their October issue.

I am a frequent texter, and I definitely didn't know most of these - I have been using so many characters unnecessarily! :)

*$: Starbucks
B4N: Bye for now
BCNU: Be seeing you
BG: Be good
DQMOT: Don't quote me on this
HMU: Hit me up
IDC: I don't care
IDK: I don't know
IMHO: In my humble opinion
IMNSHO: In my not so humble opinion
ILY: I love you
IMY: I miss you
IRL: In real life
JK: Just kidding
KWIM: Know what I mean?
LQTS: Laughing quietly to myself
MYOB: Mind your own business
NMU: Not much, you?
ROFL: Rolling on the floor laughing
TTYL: Talk to you later
UW: You're welcome
W/E: Whatever
WYWH: Wish you were here

Hope this helps improve your texting efficiency!


When To Use "Lay" vs. "Lie"

Hello, all! Long time no see. Don't worry, I haven't stopped learning things. I've simply run out of time to share them. :)

To catch you up, I am going to make a flurry of posts describing a couple of the things I've learned over the past six months from my favorite little magazine, Reader's Digest. It's always jam-packed with interesting facts. Hope you get to learn something, too!

This first post is about something I know I get wrong all of the time: using "lay" and "lie" correctly.

Here's an excerpt from Reader's Digest's "Word Power" from last summer:
This month, we revisit lay and lie, specifically in the phrase lay/lie low. Lie low is the correct present-tense form. Why? Standard usage still applies: Lie doesn't require an object ("go lie down"); lay does ("lay your head down"). In the past tense, lie becomes lay; lay becomes laid. So a wily predator might lie low as it stalks its prey.
To further this point, I found these rules on The Grammar Curmudgeon website:

1. Lie: "to recline" or "to rest", with no object.
present: lie
past: lay
present participle: lying
past participle: lain

2. Lie: "to tell an untruth"

present: lie
present participle: lying
past/past participle: lied

3. Lay: "to put" or "to place", with an object.

present: lay
present participle: laying
past/past participle: laid

Examples the site gives:

- Once you lay (place) a book on the desk, it is lying (resting) there. 
- For your vacation, you spend your time lying (reclining) on the beach [to get a suntan]. 
- You lie down (recline) on the sofa to watch TV and spend the entire evening lying (reclining) there 
- If you see something lying on the ground, it is just resting there; if you see something laying on the ground, it must be doing something else, such as "laying eggs".
I think I just need to make myself some flash cards. :)


Adele's "Someone Like You" = A Perfect Recipe For A Tear-Jerker

Michaeleen Doucleff, Scientific Editor at the Cell journal, claims that there is a scientific formula for writing songs that are "tear jerkers". A recent Wall Street Journal Article explains her take on why Adele's "Someone Like You" fills people with such deep emotion.

In the 1990s, a british psychologist John Sloboda did a study where he asked people to name parts of songs that affected them or drove them to goosebumps, tears, etc, and then analyzed the properties of that music. He found that 18 of 20 of the songs contained "appoggiatura", defined by the article as:
An appoggiatura is a type of ornamental note that clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound. "This generates tension in the listener," said Martin Guhn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia who co-wrote a 2007 study on the subject. "When the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves, and it feels good."
Putting multiple appoggiaturas in a row creates and releases tension in the listener, and may eventually drive them to tears.

Adele's "Someone Like You" has small appoggiaturas throughout, but there is a point in the chorus where she modulates her pitch to create "mini-roller coasters of tension and resolution". Adele also has sincere lyrics and a soulful sound to help, too!

The article is fascinating and has examples of Adele's and other music that does this. To read it: Click here. Maybe you can write your own chart-busting emotional hit!