Sunday, January 30, 2011

Are You A Right-Brain Or Left-Brain Thinker?

The two sides of the human brain have distinct abilities unique to either the right side or left side. An individual's strengths and weaknesses are often based on which side of the brain is dominant. It's always been presented to me as left-brained being the logical, methodical, and pragmatic side and right-brained is the creative side. There have been books written on this phenomenon.

At least that's the way I've always understood right vs. left brain.

The first thought is that writers must be right-brained since writing is a creative effort. And many writers are also involved in other creative endeavors such as various forms of the arts and music. For myself, I do photography.  But it seems to me that writers being right-brained is only partly true.

As a writer, I certainly deal with my right brain creative side. But as a writer, I also need my methodical, logical, and pragmatic left brain as part of my creative effort. I would consider research as being methodical left-brained. And then there's the switch over from right brain creative to left brain logical and pragmatic when writers go into edit mode. And that edit mode is necessary in order to take a creative effort and hone it into a marketable effort.

I recently came across a ten question quiz to test whether someone is a right brain thinker or a left brain thinker. Not sure I agree with all the conclusions, but I found it interesting.

Are you ready?

1) Are you better at math and science than art and literature?

If your answer is YES: People who are left-brained thinkers (logic) are often better at math and science over art and literature.
If your answer is NO: People who are right-brained thinkers (creative) are usually better at art and literature than math and science.

2) Do you love playing sports outdoors over reading indoors?

If your answer is YES: Right-brain thinkers (creative) enjoy the great outdoors and athletics.
If your answer is NO: People who are left-brained (logic) usually prefer staying indoors and reading.

3) Do you prefer verbal communication over physical communication?

If your answer is YES: Left-brain thinkers (logic) love to work things out by talking.
If your answer is NO: Right-brain thinkers (creative) believe actions speak louder than words.

4) Would you rather draw pictures freehand instead of putting together a model airplane?

If your answer is YES: Those who are right-brained (creative) are not fans of tremendous structure and prefer having some creativity at work.
If your answer is NO: Those who are left-brained (logic) are in need of structure and prefer having specific guidelines at work.

5) Do you like being in groups more than being alone?

If your answer is YES: Group oriented people are usually right-brained (creative).
If your answer is NO: Loners are usually left-brained (logic).

6) When given instructions, are lots of pictures easier to understand than text?

If your answer is YES: Right-brained (creative) people love picture explanations.
If your answer is NO: Left-brained (logic) people much prefer text explanations.

7) Have you noticed that you're better at providing the details and necessary information for a project than coming up with the initial idea?

If your answer is YES: Left-brained (logic) are more into processing information and details than being involved in the creative process.
If your answer is NO: Right-brained (creative) are more interested in the initial creative process rather than the information gathering.

8) Do you need a quiet environment when you are working?

If your answer is YES: Left-brain (logic) people usually need quiet environments.
If your answer is NO: Right-brain (creative) people don't mind a bustling background as they work.

9) Would you enjoy helping someone solve a relationship problem more than a math problem?

If your answer is YES: Solving relationship problems is a natural for right-brain thinkers (creative).
If your answer is NO: Solving math and technical problems is right up the alley of the left-brained (logic).

10) If you were a writer, would you prefer to write non-fiction books instead of fiction?

If your answer is YES: The left-brained (logic) are obsessed with details and truth.
If your answer is NO: The right-brained (creative) are more imaginative.

That's the end of the quiz.  As I said, I'm not sure I agree with all the conclusions.  I had a friend who was totally disorganized in everything and would continually justify it by saying she was right-brained so she didn't relate to anything else.  I think we all need a little left-brained common sense in our lives.

Do any of you have hobbies or other outlets where you use your right-brained creativity (other than writing)?  Left-brained pragmatic day jobs demanding a right-brained creative outlet as balance?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Useless Information -- Part 3 of 3

This is the final week of my three trivia blogs featuring bits and pieces from The Book Of Useless Information, an official publication of The Useless Information Society with a copyright of 2006. I'm picking some items at random from the last few sections of the book. And there is one fact that jumped out at me as being absolutely wrong…I have attributed it to a typo that was missed by an editor rather than misinformation. I'll share this with you in a little while.

So…I'll pick up here where I left off last week.

AMAZING DISCOVERIES: Construction workers' hard hats were invented and used in the construction of Hoover Dam in 1933. Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, was afraid of the dark. A normal raindrop falls at about seven miles an hour. An inch of snow falling evenly on one acre of ground is equivalent to about 2,715 gallons of water. A cubic mile of fog is made up of less than a gallon of water. Meteorologists claim they're right 85 percent of the time. Buzz Aldrin's mother's maiden name was Moon. The Apollo 11 had only twenty seconds of fuel left when it landed. A manned rocket can reach the moon in less time than it took a stagecoach to travel the length of England. Stars come in different colors—hot stars give off blue light and the cooler ones give off red light. Earth is traveling through space at 660,000 miles per hour. By weight, the sun is 70 percent hydrogen, 28 percent helium, 1.5 percent carbon-nitrogen-oxygen, and 0.5 percent all other elements. A bolt of lightning can strike the earth with the equivalent of one hundred million volts and generate temperatures five times hotter than those found on the sun's surface. In 1949 Popular Mechanics said computers of the future would weigh no more than five tons. The shortest commercial intercontinental flight in the world is from Gibraltar in Europe to Tangier in Africa, a distance of thirty-four miles and flight time of twenty minutes. A large flawless emerald is worth more than a similarly large flawless diamond. A jiffy is an actual unit of time the equivalent of one-hundredth of a second.

WILD KINGDOM: A baby blue whale is twenty-five feet long at birth. In 1859 twenty-four rabbits were released in Australia and within six years the population grew to two million. Human beings and the two-toed sloth are the only land animals that typically mate face to face. An estimated 80 percent of all creatures on Earth have six legs. A square mile of fertile earth has thirty-two million earthworms in it. The original name for butterfly was the flutterby. Grasshoppers have white blood. A single strand from the golden spider's web is as strong as a steel wire of the same size. Contrary to common belief, reptiles are never slimy, their scales have few glands and are usually silky to the touch. The gecko lizard can run on the ceiling without falling because its toes have flaps of skin that act like suction cups. Alligators cannot move backward. The only continent without reptiles or snakes is Antarctica. A group of frogs is called an army. A group of kangaroos is called a mob. Male monkeys lose the hair on their heads in the same manner men do. It is physically impossible for pigs to look up at the sky. Bats are the only mammals that can fly. Time and erosion have erased 99 percent of all dinosaur footprints. Reindeer like to eat bananas. Moose have very poor vision, some have even tried to mate with cars. The night vision of tigers is six times better than that of humans. Jaguars are scared of dogs. Walking catfish of Florida can stay out of the water for eighty days. Sharks' fossil records date back more than twice as far as those of the dinosaurs. Sea otters have the world's densest fur—a million hairs per square inch.

STATISTICS: It would take more than 150 years to drive a car to the sun. More than 10 percent of all the salt produced annually in the world is used to de-ice American roads. Most fatal car accidents happen on a Saturday. The world record for carrying a milk bottle on your head is twenty-four miles. You're more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than a poisonous spider. About 6 percent of murdered American men are killed by either their wife or girlfriend…or their wife who caught them with their girlfriend. Experienced waitresses say that married men tip better than unmarried men. You are more likely to get attacked by a cow than a shark.

And on the last page of the book it says: approximately 97 percent of all statistics are made up. :)

And that error I said I caught? It was in the first section of HALL OF FAME. It said, "In 1812, after being shot in the chest, Theodore Roosevelt finished a speech he was delivering before he accepted any medical help." The incident is true, but Teddy Roosevelt wasn't even born until 1858. The reality is that it happened on October 14, 1912. As I said, certainly a typo that was missed in the editorial process.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Useless Information -- Part 2 of 3

This is week two of my three weeks of trivia blogs featuring bits and pieces from The Book Of Useless Information, an official publication of The Useless Information Society with a copyright of 2006. I don't personally vouch for any of these facts as I have not verified them. :)

So…I'll pick up here where I left off last week with some samplings.

AROUND THE HOUSE: A deck of cards should be shuffled seven times to properly play with them. Playing cards in India are round. On the new U.S. $100 bill, the time on the clock tower of Independence Hall is 4:10. The Australian $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes are made of plastic. More people use blue toothbrushes than red ones. Alaska has more outhouses than any other state. There are more Barbie dolls in Italy than there are Canadians in Canada. Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

HISTORY'S MYSTERIES: A Virginia law requires all bathtubs to be kept in the yard, not inside the house. Persia had a pony express many years before Christ where riders delivered mail across Asia Minor. Ancient Egyptians shaved off their eyebrows to mourn the death of their cats. When some mummies were unwrapped the bandages were a total of 1.5 miles in length. In ancient Greece, women counted their age from the day they were married. The Roman goddess of sorcery, hounds, and the crossroads is named Trivia. The Chinese ideogram for trouble depicts two women living under one roof. On July 28, 1945, a B-25 bomber airplane crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building. Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States in 1789. In 1890 New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote. You could buy insurance against going to hell in London in the 1700s.

ROAM IF YOU WANT TO: The Frankford Avenue Bridge built in 1697 in Philadelphia crosses Pennypack Creek and is the oldest U.S. bridge in continuous use. In Washington, D.C., no building can be built taller than the Washington Monument. There are more than six hundred rooms in Buckingham Palace. Los Angeles' full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula. Harvard uses Yale brand locks on their buildings and Yale used Best brand locks. It is forbidden to fly aircraft over the Taj Mahal. Central Park opened in 1876 and is nearly twice the size of the country of Monaco. The San Diego Zoo has the largest collection of animals in the world.

HOLY MATTERS: The color of mourning in Turkey is violet, while in most Muslim countries and China it's white. In the early eighteenth century 2/3 of Portugal was owned by the Church. The youngest pope was eleven years old. Snow angels originated from medieval Jewish mystics who practiced rolling in the snow to purge themselves of evil urges.

BUSINESS RELATIONS: Japan's currency is the most difficult to counterfeit. The largest employer in the world is the Indian railway system, employing more than a million people. The sale of vodka makes up ten percent of Russian government income. In most advertisements, including newspapers, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10.

THE SPORTING GOODS: A baseball has exactly 108 stitches. Bank robber John Dillinger played professional baseball. In 1936 American track star Jesse Owens beat a racehorse over a one hundred yard course, and the horse was given a head start. It takes three thousand cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year's supply of footballs. Before 1850 golf balls were made of leather and stuffed with feathers. Boxing is considered the easiest sport for gamblers to fix. Tug-of-war was an Olympic event between 1900 and 1920. Professional hockey players skate at an average speed of 20 – 25 miles per hour. Karate originated in India.

Next week is the third and final week of my trivia blogs. Make sure to stop by and see what other bits of useless information I have for you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Useless Information--Part 1 of 3

Part one of three

While looking for something else, I came cross a book I had forgotten about…a book I purchased about four years ago—The Book Of Useless Information, an official publication of The Useless Information Society. It has a 2006 copyright date.

I'm a long time (as well as big time) trivia fan, so I stopped what I was doing and started randomly flipping through the book. Half an hour later I was still standing in front of the bookcase thumbing through the pages.

Since I hadn't written today's blog yet, I decided to share some of this useless information with you. The contents of the book are broken down into thirteen categories which I'm going to break up into three blogs, continuing next two weeks. I'll share a few items from each category.

HALL OF FAME: Thomas Jefferson anonymously submitted design plans for the White House, they were rejected. Andrew Jackson was the only president to believe that the world is flat. James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other—simultaneously. Gerald Ford was once a male model. Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer. Adolph Hitler was Time magazine's Man Of The Year in 1938. The shortest British monarch was Charles I, who was four-feet nine-inches tall. When young and impoverished, Pablo Picasso kept warm by burning his own paintings. Christopher Columbus had blond hair.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT: Tom Hanks is related to Abraham Lincoln. Tommy Lee Jones and Vice President Al Gore were freshmen roommates at Harvard. Elizabeth Taylor appeared on the cover of Life magazine more than anyone else. Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest. In high school, Robin Williams was voted the least likely to succeed. Mick Jagger attended the London School of Economics for two years. Parker Brothers prints about $50 billion worth of Monopoly money in a year, more than issued annually by the U.S. Government. Kermit the Frog is left-handed. Peanuts is the world's most read comic strip. Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots. Alfred Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for directing.

THE LITERARY WORLD: During his entire lifetime Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick only sold fifty copies. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen. Tom Sawyer was the first novel written on a typewriter. Arthur Conan Doyle never had Sherlock Holmes say "Elementary, my dear Watson." The word cop came from the English term "Constable on Patrol." The most used letter in the English language is E with Q being the least used. The oldest word in the English language is town. The only fifteen letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable. Bookkeeper is the only word in the English language with three consecutive double letters. In England in the 1880s, pants was considered a dirty word. Polish is the only word in the English language that, when capitalized, is changed from a noun or a verb to a nationality.

ON THE MENU: On average, there are 178 sesame seeds on each McDonald's Big Mac bun. Coca-Cola was originally green. A full seven percent of the Irish barley crop goes to the production of Guinness beer. The first man to distill bourbon whiskey was a Baptist preacher in 1789. Almonds are a member of the peach family. You use more calories eating celery than there are in celery itself. The oldest known vegetable is the pea. Tomatoes and cucumbers are fruits. There is no such thing as blue food, even blueberries are purple. The only food that does not spoil is honey.

This is only a small sampling of the first four sections of the book. Anyone have any interesting trivia bits that fall within these four categories?

Next week I'll continue with some samples from the second group of four sections. And the week after that I'll do the final five sections.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

In 2010 We Said Goodbye To...

We lost many celebrities in 2010—some expected, others not really a surprise, and some a true shock. A couple of my personal favorites whose talent is no longer with us are Peter Graves and Leslie Nielsen.

But in addition to people, many companies and products bit the dust this past year. Here's a list of twelve that departed from our daily life during 2010. I came across this list, certainly not a complete list of products and companies that we waved goodbye to this past year, but an interesting cross-section of those who called it quits.

AIR AMERICA: Talk radio with a decidedly progressive, liberal agenda in a forum usually associated with and dominated by conservatives. It went dark in January 2010.

PONTIAC, MERCURY, AND HUMMER: With the downward spiral of American auto manufacturers, several car brands were laid to rest. General Motors' Pontiac line began in 1926 with its most famous car being the GTO. Mercury was made by Ford and was basically the same as several of Ford's models with some added extras and was priced between the most affordable Ford and the Ford's luxury Lincoln line. Hummer was originally a military vehicle. GM bought the rights to the name and produced a street legal vehicle which they retired in 2010 as part of their reorganization.

U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: When started in 1933, the news magazine came out weekly. It eventually became a monthly publication. And now they have ceased publication of a paper edition and have become an online publication with the occasional special edition in print.

MR. GOODWRENCH: Starting in 1974, Mr. Goodwrench became the representation of quality service for all brands manufactured by General Motors. This year GM retired Mr. Goodwrench in order to concentrate on service tied to each specific brand.

THE SONY WALKMAN: Back in the dark ages before there were iPods, smartphones, and MP3 players, Sony provided music lovers with a means of listing to their favorite music wherever they wanted by means of the Walkman cassette portable player which also started the headphone revolution. In 2010, Sony made its last Walkman.

McRIB SANDWICH: As it has done on previous occasions, most recently in October 2010, McDonald's gives the public a taste of the menu item just long enough for it to become popular, then pulls it off the menu. How much longer is this yo-yo act going to last?

BUELL MOTORCYCLES: This small company made motorcycles that appealed to the sport-racing crown. They were purchased by Harley-Davidson in 2003 to fill a niche that their road cruisers over-looked. In 2010, Harley-Davidson was forced to shelve the line.

MICROSOFT KIN: In spite of its computer industry dominance, Microsoft hasn't had much success in selling its own manufactured hardware. It designed its own phone, sold through Verizon and oddly not using their own new Windows Phone 7 software. With poor reviews and sales lagging far behind Apple's iPhone and phones using Google's Android program, the company withdrew the Kin from the market after only a few weeks.

WINDOWS XP: When Microsoft launched the Vista operating system, most companies decided to stick with Windows XP. Microsoft provided support for the Windows XP system and continued to sell it for use in low price computers until late 2010. Even though they will continue to support XP, it's no longer available for sale.

B. DALTON BOOKSTORES: At one time B. Dalton had 798 stores in shopping malls and other locations across the country. The chain was owned by Barnes & Noble at the time it was shut down.

MOVIE GALLERY: Renting a movie, taking it home to watch, and returning it to the store…a competitor of Blockbuster Video in the days before Netflix and streaming video. Movie Gallery, at one time having more than 4,500 outlets, also owned Hollywood Video. In 2010 the company filed for bankruptcy for the second time and closed all of its locations.

GOOGLE NEXUS ONE: Google has been successful with many bold new ideas. However, their venture into the smartphone arena with their Nexus One was a major flop. The phone itself simply mimicked other smartphones. Google's innovation was the marketing. They attempted to sell the phones directly to consumers at full cost rather than going through a cell phone provider. The full price of the phone all at once rather than over a two year contract period put off many customers and direct sale was discontinued after a few months.

Any particular favorite of yours that's no longer available?