March 30, 2010

What would you do for $5? Whatever it is, now there’s an online marketplace to do it. Fiverr.

Fiverr lets you sell your stuff or services for $5.

Here are some of the ones I’d do:

* I will teach you to play any 30-second song on the recorder (via Skype)
* I will teach you how to hug a girl in a non-creepy way (I was just talking to some people about a friend of ours who really needs this lesson to alleviate his problem of making his female acquaintances hug him with full contact from shoulder-to-thigh, ugh)
* I will give you $4.95.

Thanks to Peneycad for the tip.

Dew on insects

March 30, 2010

Amazing photos of sleeping, dew-covered bugs by (amateur!) photographer Miroslaw Swietek. A few more here; via Mefi.


March 26, 2010

Sometimes I find more info about a story I posted on this blog. When that happens I usually go back to the original post and add an update. I’ve done this a few times recently- for the Chatroulette piano guy, the lost Olympic camera, and the story about race in online dating. All these conclusions are worth reading, I think- and if you’re interested, they’re all here.

Scott Pilgrim Traaaailer

March 25, 2010

Online here!

Awake endotracheal intubation

March 24, 2010

Dr. Michael Bailin performs an awake entodracheal self-intubation (ie, puts a tube into his throat through which a machine will be able to keep breathing for him if he stops).

I’ve had a scope down my throat once (not this deep) to check for vocal nodes, because I performed the voice of a talking televised hamster for a few years and the character’s high-pitched scratchiness eventually took its toll. It was a somewhat unnerving, uncomfortable procedure which I certainly didn’t handle with quite as much rodeo glamour as this guy. I’ve also been intubated for surgery, and woke up with a barking, busted voice, like this guy’s at the end of this video. I think that’s my favourite part, actually, when he goes back to teaching and sounds like a giant teenaged boy. Fun.
Thanks to Greg for the tip.

Babies: The Movie

March 23, 2010

Babies follows four babies (from rural Namibia, urban Japan, rural Mongolia, and urban US) through their first year of life. Beautifully shot, and looks so adorable. Comes out in May. Trailer here; be sure to watch it full-screen.
Thanks to Hill for the tip.

A question about learning.

March 22, 2010

When you were a kid, what was that thing that took you extra-long to learn? For me, it was telling time. For some of my friends, it was reading. I am very curious to know about that thing. Why didn’t you understand it? What was it that you were doing wrong? What was the one simple “key” that an adult could have given you to unlock the mystery?

Until I was 10, I had no idea how a watch represented time. I saw numbers and understood that they referred to the time of day. I did not understand why there were two different hands pointing to those numbers. If someone had said to me, “The little hand points at the hour number. The long hand is not pointing at any numbers- it’s marking off fractions!”, then I would have understood. Although I was also confused about the fact that there were so many ways to say the time (15 minutes = quarter past, etc). I guess I needed to start with 60=hour, 30=half, 15=quarter… I don’t remember anyone ever explaining that to me. I do remember sitting there in a fog and staring at the two hands and mentally adding together or multiplying the numbers each hand pointed to, trying in vain to get numbers as big as 15, 30, 45. So confusing. I was always a pretty good student, but while my peers learned to tell time in first grade, I was clueless until about fifth grade. I like to think this is the reason I’m usually late.

A friend who’s been diagnosed as dyslexic told me that she learned to read by memorizing the overall shapes of words. So to her, the word yellow was coded basically by its silhouette, as “dangly-normal-tall-tall-normal”. She didn’t really look at the individual letters, but rather at their relative heights. Obviously this is not helpful when you’re later presented with Yellow or YELLOW. She memorized the overall shape-variations of a zillion words instead of learning to look at words as being made of individual letters, inefficient system that leaves you lost when you encounter a new word, which will of course snowball into anxiety for a child who’s learning to read so much slower than her peers.

Another friend said she thought that the important parts of letters were the negative space inside of them, not the line itself. So to her, a capital B was two stacked semi-circles, not a straight line and two curved lines. When she wrote, she would carefully draw the negative space instead of the line, which means her printing didn’t translate naturally into handwriting. This also made word recognition tough for her when she encountered new fonts and handwriting.

I think these little learning quirks are really interesting. I bet they’d be worthwhile considerations for teachers, too- I always think it’s important to learn not only that I’m doing something wrong, but why it made sense to think that wrong thing, and how the wrong-yet-intuitive answer relates to the real answer. Do you remember the things you took forever to understand? What was the key that led to your AHA! moment?