Nimble Not

This morning I decided to eat my breakfast with my left hand instead of my right. I was under the impression this would stimulate the right side of my brain and help me be more creative in my thinking. But all it really did was slow me down.

You can’t go fast when the spoon goes in your nose instead of your mouth. Thankfully, I wasn’t using a fork! But really, anything up your nose is bad. Trust me.

After the last bite, I wanted to scrape the bowl clean. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the dexterity to do this. I tried and tried but things just kept falling off the spoon. Finally, in a bout of frustration, I switched back to my right hand. Immediately I was overcome with grief and depression like that time I learned what veal was.

I had failed both myself and the right half of my brain, which, on reflection are kind of the same thing. Does that lessen the sadness or compound it? It doesn’t matter. A failure is a failure. For the rest of the day all I could do was analyze old grocery receipts and worry I had overpaid.

How to Spell Check Your Online Writing

When I write a blog post I have to choose what platform to type it on. Many times I’ll use word processing software Like Word or LibreOffice. I do this for two reasons. First, I can save a hard copy of the post to my local machine. Second, I get a robust and powerful spell checking functionality that I don’t always get online. 

But it can be a pain to type in one application and copy/paste it into my blogging software. Sometimes I just want to type out a one-off post right in WordPress. That can be an equal pain because WordPress doesn’t have out of the box spell check. You have to add a plugin and then maintain that plugin as it gets updated (assuming its author actually updates it)

I started looking around for a better solution. Eventually, I (re)discovered Grammarly, a free online writing tool. It lets you write an entire post (or whatever you’re writing) online. But that’s not what I like about it. My favorite part is that there are browser extensions (Chrome, Firefox, and Edge) for the app that put Grammarly’s spell checking power into every browser-based app you use.

The extensions apply to any page you’re on including WordPress and Gmail. That means you get the benefit of a spell checker without any additional add-ons or plugins. It’s been a great tool for me when I’m typing something up outside of a desktop app.

Grammarly has a lot of great uses. If you go with one of their paid plans you can benefit from cloud storage of your writing, advanced writing feedback (more than just spelling and punctuation), and team use. But if you’re just looking for a handy online spell checker, this is definitely one to check out.

Felix Krautbenschlasser

No one has been more ignored by history than Felix Krautbenschlasser, the inventor of the intermission. Felix never sought to give relief to sedentary opera goers. He was just looking for an excuse to leave boring shows without angering his wife, Hilda.

His first experiment came during a showing of Rigoletto when, during a lull in the singing he made a scene by crying out, “Oh, my thighs ache, I might have a clot!”

It was actually his only experiment because later that night he died from a pulmonary embolism. But after reading his obituary, people started taking breaks during shows.

A 10 Step Guide to a Horribly Inefficient Shopping Trip

Why would anyone want to make sure their shopping trip is inefficient, clumsy and painful? Why not? Don’t be stuck up and think you have to get in and out, only buy what’s on the list and get home quickly to take care of life’s other responsibilities. Whatever! How’s the store supposed to make any money if you don’t buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need?

So, what’s the most inefficient way to do your grocery shopping? Here’s a list of the top ten methods to ensure things don’t go your way:

  1. Go at the busiest time. This one is obvious so I thought I would get it out of the way first. The more people at the store the more crowded the isles. It’s a sure bet that every isle you turn down will be packed and you’ll quickly move on to the next one hoping it will be better. It won’t.
  2. Don’t make a list. Where’s your sense of adventure? Live a little. Don’t go prepared or you’ll be bored and will miss all of the great products that you don’t need or like but are such “great deals”.
  3. Shop at a store you’ve never been to. This way you’ll be totally unfamiliar with the layout or even the product offering. If you’re lucky, this might even cause you to have to go to a different store for the one item this one doesn’t have.
  4. Use a full size cart when a short cart or hand basket will do. The bulk of the cart will slow you down, make navigating isles more difficult and encourage you to buy more than you actually need.
  5. Use a short cart of hand basket when you know you need a full size cart. When your basket is full and you’ve only visited the deli, you’ll have to take the time to go get a bigger cart and transfer all of your items into it. You can also start with the smallest basket available and stair step your way up until you’ve reached what you actually need. See, isn’t this fun?
  6. Don’t ever ask for help finding things. That would be insane. Store clerks typically know where things are located. At the very least they would be able to point you in the general direction. But then you wouldn’t be able to waste ten minutes looking on the other side of the store where you think the item “should” be.
  7. At checkout, choose the longest line. Need I say more? Actually, I do have more to say. If you see a checkout line with only one person in it and every other line has ten, go to that line! The person is either arguing with a manager about being overcharged ten cents for a pineapple or they’re an extreme couponer who has crashed the register. Either way, this will be an excessively inefficient line.8.
  8. Wait in your long line until you’re the second person, then inconveniently forget to have bought a kumquat. Leave the line to go get it. Alternatively, if you have every item from the store in your cart, hop out of line and go to a closed lane muttering “this one looks much better”.
  9. Question the price of everything that’s scanned. Additionally, you can hand the store’s coupon book or ad to the clerk and ask them to find everything that will save you money. Even if the clerk refuses, you can probably spend an inordinate amount of time arguing about it.
  10. Finally, even if you’re a healthy 25 year old male buying only some bananas and bottled water, ask for assistance carrying your groceries to the car. The employee pressed into service to help you will almost assuredly move slowly and hold you up.

So there you have it, a ten step plan to have the most inefficient shopping trip possible. And here’s a bonus tip if you want to go pro. Wait until you’re just pulling into the garage before realizing you forgot the key ingredient for dinner tonight. Happy shopping!

How to Reach the Top of Your Game

World Champion Chess Player Reveals Performance Secrets

I recently sat down with world champion chess player Sergei Lobatomov as he explained his five secrets for reaching the top of his game. Although he comes from the world of chess, Sergei’s insights can be applied to any endeavor.

Here is Sergei in his own words:

Set your goals appropriately

The top of your game is a subjective term. If you set your “top” to be 10 year olds who don’t play chess, you’ll reach your goals faster.

Fake it ‘till you make it

Identify the worst players near you and beat them over and over again. This will make you feel much better about yourself. You’ll feel like you’re at the top of your game even if you’re not.

Use leverage

Pay off opponents who are better than you. You could waste time by practicing but these days, who has the time? A few extra numbers in someone’s account makes for a stress free match. Pro tip: Use a low interest credit card to take out a personal cash advance. Don’t worry. Look at it as an investment in your future.

Always be improving

Learn what the queen can do. After 17 years of playing chess I finally asked someone and it has revolutionized the game for me. I was like, really? Any direction?

Think ahead

Learn to think several steps ahead of your opponent. For example, when I think my opponent is catching on that I’m cheating by moving his pawns when he’s not looking, I anticipate his anger and subsequent reaction of punching me in the face. This allows me to excuse myself to go to the bathroom where I slip out of the window and order an Uber.

Stay in shape

Even mental athletes need physical exercise. I went to the gym last month and won a game yesterday. Aside from my expert level skill in chess, I attribute the win to my superior physique. I’m not entirely sure why though.

Manage your time

Try playing speed chess. Speed chess is a unique version of the game where players have to make their move in a certain amount of time. Playing with a time limit gives you a built-in excuse for losing. You never want to admit you opponent is a better player than you. Doing so dilutes people’s perception of you being the best.

It’s better to blame it on the stress of an arbitrary time limit. Explain that your mind works best unfettered by such constraints. And if it weren’t for that constant ticking, you would have run away with the match.

Onlookers will be impressed by your insightful self-analysis. They will assume that everything you said is true (chess players are all brilliant) and will eagerly await a rematch where you can prove your true abilities. Of course you should never show up for rematches because the potential for humiliation is too high.

In conclusion

Before I end I want to leave you with this final question. Why do you want to play chess anyway? You have so much to live for. But who am I to judge? You do what you want. Just remember you must be motivated to achieve great heights in the game of chess.

Your motivation should come from a deep seated desire to be a top competitor. That, or the need to pay back your bookie with tournament winnings so he doesn’t break your legs.