Everyday Prepping for Everyday People

Empty grocery store shelves in March 2020

I’ve been drafting this piece in my head for nearly two years now, and with the new year upon us, it seems like as good a time as any to get it written down. This post is about everyday things people can do to be prepared for emergencies. It’s not end-of-the-world prepping, it’s no-power-for-two-weeks prepping or have-to-get-out-of-town-before-the-hurricane-hits prepping. Or even burnt-myself-cooking prepping or blew-a-fuse prepping. The goal isn’t to be prepared to rebuild civilization [Continue reading]

A Zune Tip

So after three years of telling everyone in my family that all I really wanted for Christmas was an MP3 player, this year someone finally stepped up to the plate and delivered. My partner, bless her, bought me a Zune.

“A Zune?!” I hear you sputtering.

And after a moment’s thought, I her you thinking, “OK, well, those new Zunes are pretty cool, what with the squircle and all.”

Except I didn’t get a new Zune.  I got one of the old, 30GB models.

“Well, OK,” you’re thinking.  “The white and black ones are kinda OK-looking.”

Except I didn’t get a white or black one.  I got a butt-ass ugly, Soviet-era design, monkey-crap brown (with baby-crap green highlights!) Zune.

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This Week on lifehack.org

Another interesting week at lifehack.org! This week’s posts were:

Design Better with CRAP, an introduction to basic design principles for writers, business people, and anyone else who needs to present information in the most effective way possible. A Basic Guide to Thrift Store Shopping, a guide to making the most out of thrifting. [Continue reading]

This Week on lifehack.org

Here’s what’s new from me at lifehack.org:

Becoming a Great Step-Dad Don’t Be Eeyore Advice for Students: 10 Steps Toward Better Writing

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Best Practices for Students #5: Know the System

Universities are complex. Needlessly complex. The modern university represents an accretion of over a thousand years of tradition – why else do you think you are expected to dress like a medieval scribe for graduation? [Continue reading]

Best Practices for Students #4: Outline

My, my, we do hate the idea of outlining, don’t we? Most people think of an outline as a rigid straightjacket hampering the flow of true creativity. But guess what – the writers you admire most for their creativity almost without fail are outliners (and those that aren’t are lying – they most likely keep an outline in their heads and trust their memories to keep it straight). The reason is simple – an outline takes most of the work of organizing and structuring their writing off their shoulders, which means they are free to actually be creative. [Continue reading]

Best Practices for Students #3: Spell-check Is Not Your Friend!

A conspiracy is afoot, my friends. Microsoft is in on it, for sure, but they’re only the public face of what may be the vastest, most insidious plot to undermine America’s credibility ever carried out. I’m pretty sure the North Koreans are in on it, and the Teachers’ Union. And MTV, definitely. Their plan: through the cunning manipulation of word processing software, particularly the spell-checking function, they hope to make Americans look stupid and awkward in front of the rest of the world. And it’s working! [Continue reading]

Only the Strong (Verbs) Survive

Here’s a bonus tip I left out of my recent post on proofreading. One of the most common words used in the English language is “is” and its variants. Unfortunately, “is” signifies only existence, a quality of being, and not anything interesting about the nature of the existence being described. So it’s important to use verbs that convey more meaning, that carry forward the action or ideas that make up our work. [Continue reading]

The Art of Proofreading

One of the greatest frustrations that professors face is the lack of solid writing skills among some of our brightest students. To see a student who we other wise know to be smart and even articulate bury their written ideas under poor grammar, bad spelling, awkward colloquialisms, and misconstrued logic is painful, even heart-breaking. I’ve come to believe, though, that a big part of the problem is not so much that students are inherently lazy writers or that they simply don’t care enough to do well, but that they do not proofread their work, at least in part because they haven’t learned how to do it well.

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