Why knot?

Here’s a short explanation from NPR about why shoelaces come untied and what you can do to prevent it. You can read the article, and listen to the story with or without the transcript. To listen click on the “play” button you’ll see in the top-left corner of the article.

The last paragraph in the transcript has one vocabulary we used in Week 1’s class. And the bad joke which I used for the title of this post.

The article mentions this TED Talk about tying your shoes. This talk has been popular with past students, probably because it’s short and easy to understand. It’s also one of the very first TED Talks. Here’s the link to the TED site, where you can watch with a transcript.

Language usage question:

What does the word “nailed” mean in this context? (This is the second paragraph of the transcript.)

Clockwise or counter-clockwise?

I don’t follow figure skating closely, but I know a lot of students are huge fans of Yuzuru Hanyu.

“Hanyu still looks good for gold at worlds despite defeat” (from the Japan Times)

But have you ever thought about which direction skaters, ballet dancers, gymnasts and other athletes spin? Is it usually clockwise or counter-clockwise? (I hope past students remember those words, as we used them many times in class! And you may come across the word “anti-clockwise” too.)

See more GIFS here (from the Atlantic)

This article researched the question: “Why do ballet dancers turn clockwise?” (from Ballet Focus)

You can also see which way Michael Jackson spins when he does his moon-walk.  (Spoiler alert) there’s not a very surprising (or satisfying) answer, but it’s fun to watch the videos and it’s a great idea for a research project. Also, this is one article where the comments section doesn’t include a bunch of trolls.

And for people like me who look at the various ice skating jumps and think they mostly look the same (axel? salchow? toe loop? lutz? What’s the difference?), here’s an explainer. Next time you watch Hanyu and Mai Mihara, you can understand what they’re doing better.

Live like a surfer

It may help you stop procrastinating.

“The Unexpected Antidote to Procrastination” (from Harvard Business Review)

Why do we put off doing things? Fear of feeling (disappointed, sad, frustrated…). But:

More often than not, our fear doesn’t help us avoid the feelings; it simply subjects us to them for an agonizingly long time. We feel the suffering of procrastination, or the frustration of a stuck relationship. I know partnerships that drag along painfully for years because no one is willing to speak about the elephant in the room. Taking risks, and falling, is not something to avoid. It’s something to cultivate. But how?

Practice.

Many students will, I hope, remember the phrase “the elephant in the room”.

And speaking of surfing, see what Obama has been up to lately. He sure looks happy.

He’s also been busy on the phone. (Yes, this is a joke.)