Fun, Amazing, Etc.

This is the official blog of indie author / adventure writer Andy R. Bunch, author of the fantasy book, "Suffering Rancor." As always, I'll post funny or amazing things I find in my travels or from poking around online. This is a great place to kick back and relax a bit. You may note that I’m not too clean or too dirty. For more information on my book, go to Here are links to first two books and

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Here's another great post from Sam

   by Sam Williamson, 22  April  2014
Many years ago, a young man was transferred to my department. During his first annual review, he asked me why his raises had been consistently lower than the company average. I said,
"Well, you're kind of a jerk."
And he was. If a colleague asked a question about our software, he'd sigh, look at his watch, and then bark, "Don't you know that by now!" If a client inquired how the software worked, he'd huff, "Didn't I explain that just last month?"
But he was smart. He dissected software bugs with scalpel-like sharpness. His technical keenness took the edge off his social rudeness. But just barely. His low annual raises reflected the mixed feelings his previous boss had toward him.
When I told him he was "kind of a jerk," he seemed stunned and simply squeaked, "Really?" Then he read several books on human relationships, and he began to change. Something really seemed different.
Different enough, that he got a huge raise the following year. He then asked his former boss (a Christian) why the boss hadn't been honest and direct. The boss admitted, "I didn't want to hurt your feelings." My new employee retorted,
"Damn it! Your cowardly Christian niceness cost me thousands of dollars. Thanks for nothing." (Hey, he was a recovering jerk; I never said he was cured.)
   [...]     Read more...  

Friday, April 18, 2014

I'm geeking out man

I know I post this sort of thing a lot on Friday's but I love it. I'm a nerd.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fun with English part 5

This one is long but interesting.

Marc EttlingerPhD, Linguistics, UC Berkeley.
Votes by Mark A. Mandel (PhD U Calif. Berkeley 1981. Linguistic Data Con...)Joshua EngelJoseph HeavnerStephanie Vardavas, and 886 more.

Pretty much all of them.

One of the first things you realize, when you study linguistics, is that language every language—is filled with an amazing amount of complexity andregularity to the point of defying description. And I mean that literally. There is not one single natural language that has been completely formalized at all levels of description in any way. 

Think about that for a second. 

Even English grammar, the ins and outs of which have been studied by thousands of people for centuries, has not been completely described.You can't go anywhere and pick up a book or look up a computer program that has all the rules of English. Thus, there is no documented list of the rules an English speaker is supposed know and so most native speakers don't really "know" most of the rules of English.

So what are English teachers teaching you in school and what are William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White (Strunk & White, The Elements of Style) getting all in a huff about?

Elwyn White's gonna get all up in ur grammar 

The rules people talk about—in blogs, in English class, in ESL classes and so on —are:

1) Rules that are in the process of changing, e.g., How do I stop being annoyed by people using literally as an intensifier?

2) Rules that carry inordinate weight as social signals (e.g., gonna, or 
dangling participles: Where you ator even Where are you from? instead ofFrom where are you?)

3) Rules that are particularly confusing to newcomers (e.g., adjective order, the example mentioned in the original question)

4) Rules that are cool and/or funny (e.g. the other answers here)

The fact of the matter is that almost everything we know about our native languages is what's called implicit knowledge. Stuff we don't know that we know, or stuff that we can't really describe, but we can do anyway. Like maybe riding a bike, or walking.

So what are some examples?

Let's start with one of the most basic examples I can think of: 

Phonetics: How do you pronounce the letter p?
Easy, right? Well, there are actually a number of different ways is articulated in English.
Compare, for example, spot and pot. They sound the same to an English speaker, but put your hand an inch from your mouth when you say the two words and you'll notice a much bigger puff of air for the in pot
Indeed, in other languages, they're two completely different sounds.
Aaaannnnddd if you cut the off the word spot you're left with something that actually sounds like bot, not pot.

Native English speakers never make a mistake here, but don't even know they're doing this complicated articulatory gymnastics, saying differently in different contexts; "it's just p," we think. 

The same holds for pretty much every phoneme (sounds letters) in something called Allophony: The phonemes and also adhere to this Aspirationrule; is also involved in a flapping rule (the t in duty is d-like, which speakers may actually know because: doody!!!!!!!); is different in the onset vs. coda of a syllable (look vs. cool) and so on and on and on.

Indeed, we can go through all the levels of linguistic description: phonetics, phonology, morphophonology, morphosyntax, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and pick out some of the most basic rules and pinpoint discrepancies in explicit knowledge.

Phonology: What makes something sound like an English word?
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of rules governing where sounds can go in a word, i.e., Phonology, that most speakers are not aware of. If I ask you doeszbashk or sneeld sound more like a real word, every native English speaker would answer the same way, Russian speakers would answer differently, but without much insight into why. (The reason I say this is not because it means native English speakers are ignorant, but even linguists haven't figured out the precise details of how people make word-likeness judgements).

Morphophonology: How does pronunciation change when you add affixes to a word?
The stress in parent is syllable 1, add a suffix, -hood, and it's still syllable 1,parenthood,  but add -al and it shifts: parental.  Why the difference?

Another one: you may know why some words are un- and other words are in-as in unable but incapable (hint: it's primarily word origin). You might have even noticed that in- assimilates to the follow sound (e.g., illegible, impossible, irregular). But why not umbelievable? Or ullimited? 

The answer has to do with whether there are serial levels, or strata, of processing in morphophonology—a debate still raging today—with in- being in an earlier stratum (before consonant assimilation) and un- being in a later stratum.

Morphosyntax: When do you use accusative case pronouns?
To provide an example of something that we think we know, but we actually don't: When do we use the accusative form of pronouns in English (me, him, her, them)? When it's the object of the sentence, Object Pronouns Grammar Rules, right? Well, not quite. Consider the following:

Q: Who wants cake?
A: Me

Me and John went to the store

She thinks I am smart
She considers me to be smart.
She considers me smart.

The rules of case assignment just got real.... complicated. link to video

So real that linguists still aren't quite sure how it works. (I bring up this question mainly because it was on my Master's orals exams and is one of those deceptively hard questions. More in the comments!

Syntax: What is English word order?
How about something as basic as  can be: word order? 
English is subject-verb-object, right? 
Well, that rule I don't like so much. (interjection, objectsubjectverb, adverbial phrase).

Semantics: How do you interpret words like some and every?
Semantics, I know the least about, but consider these two sentences:

There is someone who loves everyone.
Everyone is loved by someone.

The second sentence can mean what the first sentence means, but it can also mean that everyone has some person that loves them, but it can be all different somebodies. 

(Lame, I know, but like I said, I don't really know semantics (: )

Pragmatics: Who gets talked about next in a discourse?
Conversation is complicated. If you actually listen to recordings of your conversations it's any wonder that anyone understood anything. One of the really hard parts is reference resolution (e.g., Page on Nyu). When you sayhe or she or her or his, who the heck are you talking about? 

Well, one "rule" that I explored with a colleague (Rohde & Ettlinger, 2013 
Page on Northwestern) is that certain verbs implicate certain arguments as the topic of conversation. So, in John annoyed Tom because he ... you presume he refers to John whereas John admired Tom because he ... means you're more likely to then talk about Tom. 

Without these little rules of conversation, we'd be lost when talking to each other. But they are rules that you aren't generally taught and they are rules we generally aren't aware of.

And they are rules that we haven't even pinned down particularly well. Reference resolution is one of the hard problems for natural language processing. 

Wait, Dave, are you talking about John or Tom?

Indeed, if we knew the rules of English, it wouldn't be so hard to program a computer to follow them. But we don't, so we can't.

So, in this small selection of rules, I actually tried to pick the most mundane things I could: How do you pronounce p? What is English word order? When do you use accusative case? How do you figure out who pronouns refer to? How do you add suffixes to a word?

Not the funniest or trickiest, but the ones that show that even the most fundamental aspects of grammar, the rules that allow us to communicate in even the most basic ways, fly below the radar of our awareness.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A fitness double header

I stole both of these from Dr. Mercola. I do search for other resources but by and large this guy is right on track and timely with his information. Link to original story.

Story at-a-glance

  • Even if you are a fit athlete who exercises regularly, you may still endanger your health simply by sitting too much
  • Researchers warn that the combination of sitting too much and exercising too little can more than double the risk of heart failure in men. These risk correlations held true no matter how much they exercised
  • The act of standing up from a seated position has been found particularly effective at counteracting the detrimental health effects of sitting
  • Based on double-blind research, the minimum number of times you need to interrupt your sitting in order to counteract its cardiovascular health risks is around 35 times per day
  • There are plenty of ways to get movement in during your work hours. Included are tips from several sources, including video demonstrations of a sample at-work exercises you can do every 15 minutes or so

At-Work 'Workouts' — A Practical Health Intervention

The easiest and simplest strategy is to merely stand up, and then sit back down. But the evidence suggests you'd be wise to go a little further—especially if you only exercise a few times a week, or not at all. There are plenty of ways to get movement in during your work hours. The following videos, featuring Jill Rodriguez, offer a series of helpful intermittent movement beginner exercises you can do right at your desk. For a demonstration of each technique, please see the corresponding video in the table below. I suggest taking a break to do one set of three exercises, anywhere from once every 15 minutes, to once per hour.
Technique #1: Standing Neck-Stretch: Hold for 20 seconds on each side.
Technique #2: Shoulder Blade Squeeze: Round your shoulders, then pull them back and pull down. Repeat for 20-30 seconds.
Technique #3: Standing Hip Stretch: Holding on to your desk, cross your left leg over your right thigh and "sit down" by bending your right leg. Repeat on the other side.
Technique #4: The Windmill: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then pivot your feet to the right. Push your hip out to the left. Raising your left arm skyward, and your right arm toward the floor, lower your body toward the floor while looking up, then raise your torso back to standing position. Repeat on the other side.
Technique #5: Side Lunge: Starting with your feet together, take a medium step sideways, and bend down as if you're about to sit. Use your arms for balance by reaching out in front of you. Return to starting position, and repeat 10-20 times. Repeat on the other side.
Technique #6: Desk Push-Up: Place hand a little wider than shoulder-width apart on your desk. Come up on your toes to make it easier to tip forward. Do 10 repetitions.
Technique #7: Squat to Chair: With your feet shoulder-width apart, sit down, reaching forward with your hands, and stand back up in quick succession. Do 15-20 repetitions.
Technique #8: Single Leg Dead Lift: Place your right hand on your desk, and place your weight on your right leg. Fold your torso forward, while simultaneously lifting your left leg backward. Do 10 repetitions on each side.
Technique #9: Mountain Climber: Get into a push-up position on the floor. Pull your right knee forward to touch your right wrist or arm, then return to push-up position. Repeat on the other side. Try to pick up the pace, and do 20 quick repetitions.
Standing Neck Stretch

Shoulder Blade Squeezes

Standing/Seated Hip Stretch


Side Lunge

Push up

Squat to Chair

Single Leg Dead Lift

Mountain Climber

Story #2

6 Fitness Myths to Avoid to Get the Body You Want

Myth #1: Crunches Are the Key to Flat Abs
Crunches will provide some toning of your abs, but you'll get "flat" abs only by burning off fat. This means fat-burning exercises are going to be essential. In fact, research has shown that doing abdominal exercises alone—even when performed five days a week for six weeks—has no effect at all on subcutaneous fat stores and abdominal circumference.1
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is among the best fat-burning exercise out there, but even core-building planks and bridges will burn fat (and work your abs) far more effectively than crunches. You can find six more tips to burn your belly fat here (and five of them don't include any exercise at all).
Myth #2: More Sweat Equals a Better Workout
Virtually any type of intense exercise will prompt you to sweat, but theamount of sweat isn't an indication of how many calories you've burned. Remember, sweating is a natural, essential body process designed to help your body stay cool, so exercising in warm weather (or in a heated room, such as in Bikram yoga) will create more sweating.
While you can't use your amount of sweat as a gauge of exercise intensity, you can assume that if you haven't broken into a sweat at all your exercise is probably not intense enough. Additionally, sweating in and of itself may be beneficial (independent of its association with exercise), as it can facilitate toxin excretion. And many with untreated hypothyroidism have a hard time sweating at all.
Myth #3: Running Is Bad for Your Knees
Running will not necessarily "ruin" your knees, as you may have been told. In fact, research shows that osteoarthritis of the knees is no more common in older adults who engage in long-distance running than in those who don't.2
That being said, women are up to six times more likely to suffer from a knee injury due to running, compared to men, because they may have an imbalance in strength between their quadriceps and hamstrings. Regular strength training, including of your legs, is therefore important if you're a runner.
Personally, I was an avid runner for over 40 years, but I now prefer HIIT for my aerobic exercise, as it is safer, more efficient and more effective. If done appropriately, however, running can be an effective part of your overall fitness plan and may even help you to live longer.3 But you must keep it moderate, and find your own "Goldilocks Zone."
Dr. James O'Keefe, a research cardiologist and former elite athlete, recommends running no more than 20 miles per week, spread out over three to four days, at a speed of about five miles per hour. If you run farther or faster than that, you may lose all the benefits, and the associated health riskscan rise to the magnitude of the couch potato—literally—according to the science.
Myth #4: Stretching Is Essential for Recovering Faster
Stretching does little to influence blood lactate levels (a measure of muscle fatigue) after a high-intensity workout, according to recent research.4 So while post-workout stretching may help you to build flexibility, it's not necessary for recovery.
In fact, cooling down at all after a workout is more of a personal choice, rather than a necessity for reducing muscle pain or improving recovery. As far a pre-workout stretching goes, the best type of stretching to do before a workout is dynamic stretching, as opposed to static stretching (which is what most people do).
Myth #5: You've Got to Exercise for at Least 45 Minutes
Conventional aerobic exercise performed for long periods at a steady, moderate pace was long considered the "gold standard" of a good workout, but in recent years research has refuted such notions.
Instead, high-intensity interval training (which requires but a fraction of the time compared to conventional cardio) has been shown to be FAR more efficient and effective, compared to longer, slower cardio workouts. There are many versions of HIIT, but the core premise involves maximum exertion followed by a quick rest period for a set of intervals.
My Peak Fitness routine uses a set of eight 30-second sprints, each followed by 90 seconds of recovery done after a proper warm up and followed by a short cool-down period. When you use HIIT, the elliptical machine is a very useful exercise tool, although you can also do HIIT using a recumbent bike or even without any equipment at all (using exercises such as push-ups, burpees, and jumping squats, for example).
Ideally, you'll want to perform HIIT exercises two or three times a week for a total of four minutes of intense exertion. You do not need to do them more often than that, however. In fact, doing it more frequently than two or three times a week can be counterproductive, as your body needs to recover between sessions.
If you want to do more, focus on making sure you're really pushing yourself as hard as you can during those two or three weekly sessions, rather than increasing the frequency. The video below is a few years old now, but you can get an idea of the intensity used. I have modified my application to only doing it twice a week. However, the intensity is identical. The other change is that I now breathe through my nose. I discuss more of the benefits of Buteyko breathing in a recent article.
Myth #6: More Exercise Time Is Better
Most people do need more exercise time, but taking time for recovery is crucial. It is important to realize you can sabotage your fitness efforts by over-exercising. In this case, your body goes into an elevated stress response, keeping your cortisol levels too high. Cortisol, also known as "the stress hormone," is secreted by your adrenal glands and is involved in a variety of important metabolic functions, such as regulating your insulin and glucose levels, and controlling inflammation. Elevated cortisol will cause your body to store fat instead of building muscle.
Recovery is absolutely crucial to your long-term success. You simply must provide your body with the opportunity to rebuild and restore itself after you stress it with intense workouts. Regardless of what type of exercise you do, always listen to your body, as it will give you important feedback about whether or not you are overexerting yourself.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A quick post about blog planning

Not a long one, I just wanted to post a link to a great resource for planning your blog.

Friday, April 11, 2014