Going viral

This subway performer’s videos have gone viral at least a few times in recent years. You wonder (well, I wonder) why some arguably less talented singers go viral. Piko Taro said last year that he had not made much money off his “song” and Mike Yung, if you look at his Twitter feed, hasn’t either.

This was funny (he means “front page”):

A student last semester did a research project about what it takes for people to become famous. He never really found a secret formula (and if he had, we’d all know him by now, right?). But what do you think? Why do some people, or videos, go viral and others don’t? (writing prompt). And another writing prompt can be: Explain what Reddit is to Mr. Yung.

Anyway, I could listen to “A Change is Gonna Come” over and over again. Not something I can say about PPAP.

Read more about Mike Yung here: “Searching the Subway for Mike Yung, the Viral Singer that Time Forgot” (from Pitchfork)

Filling in those boxes

The New York Times crossword puzzles are celebrating their 75th birthday. Here’s an article about why these puzzles are so popular and relaxing: “Crossword-Solving: A Search for Connections and Answers” (NYT)

“Human brains are hard-wired to fill in blanks when they see them. In difficult times, when life begins to feel out of control or when faced with an emotional dilemma, working on something that has finite answers can provide a sense of security.”

On the NYT website you can play the Daily Mini puzzle. It’s pretty easy. And there are plenty of other online puzzle sites you can play for free.

I remember spending a weekend once in graduate school making a bilingual crossword puzzle.

crossword-1 crossword-2

It was fun to make, but it took a lot of time. If I had known about this website then, I may have used it:

Crossword Labs

create puzzle

Here’s their example:

example

Type in the clues and answers, hit “generate” and you’ve got a crossword puzzle. The password you use to create it will give you access to the answer key.

There are lots of ways to use crosswords for language study. Use it to introduce key vocabulary to your discussion partners. Make a bilingual puzzle in English and another language you’re studying to help you remember your new major language and review your English. Create a puzzle around a theme or a person you’re interested in, like this one, about Lady Gaga:

lady-gaga-puzzle

Using the Find a Crossword menu, you can only browse the latest 10 puzzles, but you can search for puzzles using key words.

Other ideas? You could try creating your own game app or software. This crossword puzzle maker was created by a university student at Washington State University.

Writing prompt: Do you play games on your phone when you commute? Do you prefer games like Candy Crush or whatever is popular right now, or games that make you think a little more, like crosswords or sudoku? Do you think that both the more mindless (to my thinking) games are actually just as good for you as more challenging games? (see this quote from the NYT article above)

“When you do a puzzle, the mind becomes completely absorbed in the task at hand. There is total focus on what is happening in the moment, which is the definition of mindfulness. And we know that mindfulness results in all sorts of positive changes in the brain.”

1000 Awesome Things

1000 Awesome Things is a list by Neil Pasricha dedicated to “the simple universal pleasures that we all love but we just don’t talk about enough.” (Quoted from his TED Talk — here’s the transcript) Practice your reading and listening comprehension and getting inspired to make your own list.

Watch his TED Talk:

A sample from the 1000 Awesome Things:

#967 Illegal naps

#122 Using nature as a fridge

#194 When insects are struggling to do something and you help them

#912 Hanging your hand out the window of a car

Zzz…

This is a place called Chillazy, in Hong Kong. You can go there and pay $6 for an hour of peace and quiet.

Read about the two young entrepreneurs who started the company, why they choose to put in hammocks instead of beds (to avoid a hospital atmosphere), and more.

“Paying To Be Lazy: Chillazy Startup” (from Youth Time Magazine)

I think we need at least one of these rooms on campus. Where should we put it? Should it be free? If not, how much would you be willing to pay per hour? What furniture and other things would you put in it? Should it be completely quiet or have some calming background music?