Published September 30, 2011
by Get-It-Done Guy
I’ve recently taken on more than I can possibly handle (this is a case of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do). It happened for a simple reason: there are lots of tasks that take time, but that don’t make it into my planning. My schedule appeared to have a lot of free time, but it turns out that it had far less … because many of my uses of time aren’t the sort that get put on a calendar.
Before scheduling something new, take a moment to mentally imagine everything that will happen during your day. Pay close attention to the things that you don’t put on your calendar. Some people forget travel time, others don’t write down meals, and others don’t plan for sleep. Make sure you either put them on your calendar or leave enough blank space so they actually get handled. I now try to put them all on my calendar, so I keep time not only for the visible tasks, but also all the invisible ones.
For tips about the invisible tasks and how they affect being on time, check out my article about how to be on time.
I’m Stever Robbins, host of the Get-it-Done Guy podcast. I help executives reclaim their time by providing focus and accountability around their most important goals. If you want to have one of your most productive days ever, try one of my Do-It Days™:
By Math Dude
So, nature has bountifully embraced the golden ratio, artists have displayed its exquisite proportions, and now you might be wondering: Can I use it too? Absolutely. Here’s a quick and dirty tip for improving the composition of your photographs using the golden ratio!
First, when taking a picture, imagine placing the Fibonacci spiral on top of the scene you’re shooting. Then, the idea is to position the most important element of your shot—perhaps a person’s eyes—not at the overall center of the image, but at the off-centered eye of the Fibonacci spiral. It’s simple, but this technique really does make for more interesting pictures—search the web for examples and see for yourself.
This trick of using the golden ratio to lay out your image is related to the well-known “rule of thirds” you may have heard of. The idea here is to divide your image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, and then to place important elements at the intersections of these lines. The rule of thirds is really just a simplified version of the golden ratio method—after all, it’s a lot easier to mentally picture dividing an image into thirds rather than a Fibonacci spiral. Either way, if you follow this rule when taking your pictures, your friends will soon be begging you to teach them your secrets—and now you know the math to do it!
How to Take Great Family Photos
How to Write Grammatically Correct Photo Captions
Published September 29, 2011
Tags: grammar, marketing
by Grammar Girl
At the 24-second mark in this Mercedes commercial (after some stunning images), a man informs us that the car has “less doors.”
There are times when “less” may be appropriate with a count noun (for example, some people think “one less [count noun]” works, and I’ve seen more than one grammarian defend “10 items or less” signs), but the Mercedes commercial is not one of these times. It’s not an idiom and “doors” has no underlying sense of being a mass noun. In simple cases in which you’re choosing between “less” and “fewer,” “fewer” is for count nouns (like “M&Ms,” “doors,” and “forks”), and “less” is for mass nouns (such as “water,” “furniture,” and “homework”).
Mignon Fogarty is the author of Grammar Girl’s 101 Words Every High School Graduate Needs to Know.
By The Winning Investor
The first Friday of every month, the government releases what’s called the “Jobs Report” or the “Non-Farm Payroll” number. It gives us a sense of whether we’re gaining or losing jobs in the economy and what’s happening overall with employment.
We can also look at the rate of job growth or loss by comparing this month’s numbers to those of previous months. Sometimes the rate of job losses or growth can be more important than the actual number itself. If the rate is low, the market might still rise even if the Jobs Report shows losses of hundreds of thousands of jobs since the previous month.
But why should you care? The fact is if fewer people lost their jobs than last month, or if it was reported that fewer people lost their jobs than the analysts forecast, then the market can rise. On the flipside of the coin, the market can take a bath and fall if the opposite occurs. If the economy added fewer people this month than last month or if the report shows fewer people than expected were hired that can be a real downer to investors.
Published September 28, 2011
by Grammar Girl
When I was researching the regionalism “needs washed,” Bill Bevington recommended that I look into “spendy,” which means “expensive” or “extravagant.” Here’s the resulting map:
A blue pin represents one person who had heard or used “spendy” in the region. A red pin represents one person who has never heard “spendy” in the region. A purple pin represents someone who has heard “spendy,” but only rarely or only from a transplant from another region. n=430+ (Go to the interactive map.) Not shown on the map: one person from the UK, one from Dublin, one from the Philippines, and four from Australia who reported that they don’t hear “spendy” where they live. Apparently “exxy” is used like “spendy” in Australia.
“Spendy” Is Most Common in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest
Clearly, “spendy” is common in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Since those regions are not contiguous, I first investigated whether there was some reason a lot of people would migrate from one region to the other. That was a dead end, but I did discover that both regions were centers of immigration for Norwegians starting in the mid-1800s. According to Wikipedia,”today “55% of Norwegian Americans live in the Midwest, although a large number (21%) live in the Pacific States of Washington, Oregon, and California.”
This is what scientists call correlation and not causation. That the states with a lot of Norwegian immigrants roughly matches the states in which people say “spendy,” doesn’t prove that “spendy” is of Norwegian origin. It’s just a correlation–a hint–but certainly not an answer.
“Spendy” Originated in 1911
The Oxford English Dictionary dates “spendy” back to 1911 and says it originated in the United States, so it seems unlikely its use would be driven by historical immigration trends. On the other hand, it could be that those historical immigration trends mean there are still a lot of people of Norwegian descent in Minnesota and Wisconsin with relatives and friends in Washington and Oregon and vice versa, and “spendy” usage could have spread through these communities.
A Little Help? Continue reading ‘Spendy’
Published September 28, 2011
Modern Manners Guy , Uncategorized
By Modern Manners Guy
It can be confusing figuring out how to address someone, be it in writing or personal interactions. So here are a few tips to help with addressing other people.
- Parents of a friend or spouse: Address them more formally at first. Use the appropriate title (Mrs., Dr., Mr. or Ms.) and their last name until you are invited to do otherwise.
- Workplace: Depending on the atmosphere, either address coworkers by their honorific to demonstrate how seriously you take your work, or take the casual approach of addressing all by their first name to show your friendly and collegial attitude (most workplaces are adopting the latter attitude, becoming more and more casual).
- *Note: A workplace situation where you should be more formal is when you are addressing customers or clients of your company.
via Tim Patterson/Flickr
- Boss in a social situation: If you generally call your boss by her first name, it is acceptable to continue doing so unless he or she is with a client and the casual address would somehow diminish his or her stature in the client’s eyes.
- Abroad: Be aware of the local customs because many countries are more formal than the U.S.
- Email: When emailing, use the same title you would in face-to-face interactions, unless the message is going to be circulated to a broader and more formal audience, in which case you might consider using the recipient’s proper title. In formal communication, one should use a colon after the opening salutation, while a comma is commonly used in personal and casual communication.
by Grammar Girl
The Quick and Dirty:
“Comprise” means “to contain” or, less frequently, “to include,” with the whole preceding the parts in the sentence order (e.g. “America comprises 50 states”).
“Compose” means “to make up” and the parts come before the whole in the sentence order (e.g. “Many ethnic groups compose our nation”).
America "comprises" 50 states, but license plates "compose" this map. via Kevin Hutchinson/flickr
But what about if we want to say that something “is composed of” or “is comprised of” something else? Is one more right than the other? Short answer: Yes! You can’t use the passive voice with “comprise,” so you must say that something “comprises” something else. It’s fine, on the other hand, to say that this blog, for instance, “is composed of” many different voices.
If you forget this tip, you can always just say “makes up” or “made up of” instead and sidestep the grammar confusion.
That’s all for now!
Published September 27, 2011
Modern Manners Guy
by Modern Manners Guy
My episode on what happens when someone crowds in line received a great response — probably because we’ve all had to suffer a stranger standing so close that they could count the freckles on your neck. I can’t stand it! I encountered this the other day and thought it deserved revisiting.
Waiting in line brings out the worst in people (via Getty Images)
The undisputed, undefeated champion of improper line etiquette is The Crowder. Unless I’m stranded on the top of Mt. Everest, I don’t want someone pressing up against me as if we’re keeping warm to survive. Here are 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for better line etiquette:
Tip #1: Ask Politely
If you’re on the receiving end of The Crowder, kindly ask them to step back a foot or two. Don’t be rude when you do this; just give them a heads up and let them move back.
Tip #2: Use Your Inside Voice
When in line, you need to use your inside voice. Shouting on your cell phone as if you were stuck in a wind tunnel is not necessary. And if your call is that important then step out of line and return when you are done.
Tip #3: Try a Little Tenderness
This next tip is best put to use in grocery or clothing stores. There is always one person in line with one item, while the person in front of them has 20. If you are the latter, try a little tenderness and allow the person with just one item to go ahead of you. Think of it as paying it forward.
Have you had an encounter with The Crowder? Tell us about it in Comments.
Published September 27, 2011
by Math Dude
Have you ever needed to convert from miles to kilometers or vice versa? Perhaps you’re from the US and you were traveling in Europe. Or maybe you use kilometers at home and you were traveling in the US. Either way, it can be confusing. But the good news is that it’s easy to do the unit conversion in your head…and this post contains everything you need to know.
To convert distances in miles into distances in kilometers (or speeds in miles per hour into speeds in kilometers per hour), simply multiply the number of miles by 1.6 (which, completely coincidentally, turns out to be close to the value of the golden ratio that comes from the Fibonacci sequence):
(distance in kilometers) ≈ 1.6 * (distance in miles) Continue reading ‘How To Convert From Miles to Kilometers’
By Nutrition Diva
Have you ever tried to cube an avocado for a recipe and ended up with a slimy, green pile of misshapen, half-mashed blobs? Never again. Here are 3 Quick and Dirty (and tidy) steps to a perfectly cubed avocado:
Tip: This works best on an avocado that’s fully ripe but not too mushy.
Run a knife around the avocado lengthwise, cutting down to the pit. Cup the avocado in both hands and twist the two halves in opposite directions to separate. Remove the pit by (carefully!) spearing it with your knife and twisting gently to pop it free.
With the cut side up, slice each avocado half in both directions, gently cutting down to—but not through—the skin to create the desired cube size.
Hold the avocado, cut side down, over a bowl and gently invert the skin by pushing down in the center and pulling up gently on the edges. Your perfect avocado cubes will pop right out. (Use your fingers to gently free any sticklers.)
Now that you know how to cube an avocado, make sure you know how to properly store that other half if you’re not planning on using it all at once.