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August 2012 (129 posts)
Words are so wonderful. We use them all day long, and everybody knows what they mean. What always surprises me, though, is when you really try to sit down and describe what a word is, it's incredibly difficult. For example: cat. We all know what at cat is. But how to explain it? A short furry animal that—uh—will scratch the freckles off your face if you attempt give it the pill prescribed by the vet?
This is why the dictionary is such a glorious invention—its ability to precisely explain the complexities of our seemingly simple language. And as of yesterday, one of our favorite phrases, "Aha Moment," has made it into Merriam-Webster's Collegiate version, where it's described not just as a noun but as "a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension."
USA Today spoke with the Merriam-Webster's associate editor, Korry Stamper and found out that "aha moment" was first introduced into the lexicon almost 75 years ago and was cited in a 1939 psychology textbook. But we know who brought it into our lives:
Now when are they going to put bing-bing-bing-bing in the dictionary?
See Rihanna on Oprah's Next Chapter this Sunday
Nora Ephron's Aha Moment
The Aha Moment Hall of Fame
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Four guys go fishing for albacore off the coast of Santa Cruz. They catch some tuna, but the real action must be seen to be believed. (Vimeo)
* Ernest Hemingway was a lousy spy. (Foreign Policy)
* Over at the Classical, Tom Breihan has written a terrific essay that is partly about the pro-wrestling's reigning giant, The Big Show, but mostly about what it is like to be really, really tall. (The Classical)
* Explore Tombstone, Arizona's Boot Hill cemetery, wild resting place for gunslingers and cowboys. (NPR)
Four years ago, Zach Balle had a successful real estate career in Phoenix, which earned him an impressive paycheck but left him unfulfilled. "There was a sense that I'd made it," he says, "and yet I couldn't ignore this empty feeling in my stomach." After a colleague offered some unorthodox advice—"Book a flight to a country you've never been to"—Balle found himself in a small Guatemalan community where many children received their lessons outdoors. "If it rained, they didn't have class that day," says Balle, now 28. "I decided I wanted to build them a school—which was totally unrealistic. But I knew if I could figure out a way to include the townspeople in the project, we could make it happen."
Armed with newfound inspiration, Balle quit his job and started researching his plan. He was dismayed to discover that even a simple structure would cost nearly $15,000 for supplies and labor. When he explained his dilemma to a contact in the Peace Corps, she told him about a method of construction she was using that transforms trash into building material. Balle decided to help her build a school in the Guatemalan community of Granados. His friend Heenal Rajani, 31, who had been casting about for a more meaningful endeavor, decided to help out as well. After local children collected empty soda bottles and stuffed them full of chip bags and candy wrappers, the resulting "eco-bricks" were placed between chicken wire panels and covered with cement to create the walls of the structure.
Their two-room schoolhouse, completed in October 2009, used more than 5,000 plastic bottles and 2,053 pounds of trash, cost less than $6,000 to build, and now serves roughly 300 of Granados's students. In 2010 Balle, Rajani, and three other friends, including Joshua Talmon, 31, officially established the nonprofit Hug It Forward to fund more eco-brick schools across Central America; so far they've built 17 in Guatemala and one in El Salvador. The San Diego–based organization, which finances the school projects partially through eco-tourism trips (volunteers can sign up at ServeTheWorldToday.com), now publishes a free online manual to help others replicate their model elsewhere around the world. "Being a global citizen isn't about swooping in as a superhero," says Talmon. "There are more wins if we all work together."
A top choice for your late summer revelries, fried chicken is a classic—but to many of us, it's also...complicated. But making fried chicken from scratch means you can customize every step of the process, which allows you to get as creative – and healthy – as you want.
Enter Dante Gonzales, the Los Angeles-based chef and fried
chicken master whose upcoming cookbook, Ride
or Fry, will be out this November. Gonzalez recently hosted a luncheon where guests got a chance to taste his perfectly seasoned signature crisped fowl. We had to ask how to
achieve the same results at home.
His advice? Check out these 5 easy steps...
Q: Is it safe for me to use self-tanner lotion year-round?
A: Those long, lazy weekend afternoons, the balmy evenings, the flattering fake glow—I, too, find it hard to relinquish the joys of summer. And I'm happy to tell you that as far as your tan goes, you don't have to. There's no health-related reason to quit using self-tanner lotion after the beach has closed, says Ava Shamban, MD, author of Heal Your Skin. The active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone, is simply a sugar that reacts with amino acids in the skin's outermost layer, darkening it; the color fades gradually as that skin sloughs off. Just be sure, if you're using an aerosolized self-tanner rather than a lotion, that you protect your lips and eyes and avoid inhaling the product, says cosmetic chemist Mort Westman, president of Westman Associates.
Keep in Mind: If you have psoriasis or rosacea (or another skin condition), test a small area before you apply self-tanner; the color can concentrate on the affected skin, making it look more pronounced.
The power of pink: Prolong your glow for good
A safer tan than ever
The secret to eliminating your sunspots for good
Every Christmas, Marianne Russo bakes muffins for her elderly neighbors. Last week—it's August, mind you—she tweeted that she'd found this in her mailbox:
Russo does a lot of good things for the world—she happens to be the host of a radio show for families with children who have special needs. But how lovely, to see how small gestures ripple out and return, so that if someone comes across a muffin cookbook in the dog days of summer, they think of you. (As an aside, I love pointless presents. I always think I'm going to do this, give someone a present just because I found it and thought of them, holidays be darned, but somehow I forget. Note to self: Do this more.) These moments of neighborliness create a culture of community, a current of generosity, a Christmas-less season of giving.
Either that, or Muffin Lady's neighbors are really tired of her standby muffin recipe. (Kidding! I'm sure it's not that!)
35 Little Moments of Kindness
Performing Random Acts of Chocolate
Why are J.Crew's "Minnie" pants so cute on every body? (It's true! Our whole team tried them on.) The pants have contouring stretch twill in an array of colors; sleek, pocket-free design; and an ankle length that makes them both heel- and flat-friendly. What makes them even better? They're available in sizes 00 to 16. ($90 each, J.Crew; JCrew.com)
The conversation that followed is notable in many ways, not the least of which was the advice Mr. Invented the Computer offered: "Nothing is withheld from us which we have conceived to do." This, from an innovator before there was an internet full of innovators, from the man who, among other notable accomplishments, scanned the first image (in yet another instance of this man's foresight, the photo is, like so much of the Internet today, a picture of an adorable baby). The other advice Runyon shares? "Do things that have never been done."
Yes! Don't you love when inspiration comes from unlikely places? Like that person sitting next to you, maybe, who you've been ignoring while you read?
Beating Your Creative Blocks
The Invention That Makes Everyone Smile