Student Reading: Bill Murray awesomeness

I love Bill Murray. It’s hard not to. It’s hard to even find the right words to describe his comedic genius. I think Groundhog Day, I think Royal Tenenbaums, I think of his around the country tour of parties, I think even of his interviews. For another peak into the life of Bill Murray, I offer you this interview from Esquire, arguably the best source of interviews out there.

Bill Murray on Acting in a Wes Anderson Movie, by R. Kurt Osenlund in Esquire.

Fun fact: Did you know Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson were freshman roommates in college?


Test Prep Strategy: Winning Ugly

In tennis, we often use a phrase called “winning ugly.” I’ve heard it used elsewhere, too, but not as much as in the tennis world. Winning ugly is exactly as it sounds: win despite how you look, win even if you play uglier than your opponent. Now this doesn’t imply cheating or breaking the rules in any way, let’s be clear about that. Instead, it implies hitting the ball back one more time than your opponent, even if it’s an ugly backhanded chip shot that barely makes it over. It implies not caring what you look like, sound like, or feel like, so long as you win.

Applying that to the SAT or ACT, what does this concept mean? It means not always doing the question “the right way.” Maybe you’re staring down a question in algebra that you only half remember. You can get the first step or two, but then you’re stuck. At this point, you think maybe you should move on. 

But this isn’t winning ugly. This is actually just losing. You now only have a 1/5 shot of guessing that question correctly now, 20%. Not very good odds.

Winning ugly is about forcing yourself in there to see if you can eliminate some of those answers. It means reasoning through the possibility of a few of them. It means trying a few of the answers out, if you can. Even if you eliminate one answer, we’re looking at a 25% shot now. But if you eliminate it down to two answers, you have a 50% shot! Do that for a couple questions and your score could be in a completely different band than if you hadn’t. There are actually quite a few questions on the math test that you can work your way into the right answer by elimination alone. I’ve seen students bump up their scores 4 points on this willingness alone.

If you can do any given problem the “right way”, then by all means, go for it. But if you can’t, make sure you win anyway. Given the choice between losing pretty and winning ugly, choose to win every time.


Student Reading: Why You Look Like Your Dog

Happy Monday, students!

As most of you all have dogs, I assume you’ll like this one. The article provides some explanations as to why you (or someone in your family) looks like your dog. It’s not just a saying, it actually holds. I just google-imaged the phenomenon, and it’s pretty entertaining. I encourage you to do so as well!


Why You Look Like Your Dog, by Sarah Yager in The Atlantic


Student Reading: A Better Jet Lag App

Howdy students,

I just caught wind of a better jet lag app that will tell you exactly what schedule to adhere to when traveling between time zones. Actually, I didn’t know there even were apps for this, but now that I do, this one’s the best out there because of its reliance on math and rigorous testing.

This will be perfect for all of you on your spring break trips.

This Jet Lag App Does The Math So You’ll Feel Better Faster by Linda Poon in NPR


Student Reading: San Francisco Cuts ‘Cruising’ for Parking in Half With Market-Clearing Prices

Hate parking in congested downtown areas (by the beach, Del Mar, PB, etc)? San Francisco has been trying out a new theory to reduce congestion and virtually always have parking spots! I’m pretty jazzed that someone is actually trying this out.
As always, please read at least the first paragraph. But feel free to read more.


San Francisco Cuts ‘Cruising’ for Parking in Half With Market-Clearing Prices


Student Reading: California Endangered Species: Plastic Bags

Today I bring you a strongly worded article from the other coast on our slow march towards the complete eradication of plastic bags. You might not agree with everything it says, but it’s worth a read.


Fun fact from The College Board: the vocabulary on the SAT is supposed to be at a New York Times reading level. See my earlier post here on other insights into the SAT. 


California Endangered Species: Plastic Bags, by Ian Lovett in The New York Times


Student Reading: The Amazon Mystery: What America’s Strangest Tech Company Is Really Up To

Hello and welcome back to another posting of Student Reading! Sorry to leave you wanting last week, but the technology gods did not favor me.

A bit of mystery for your April Fool’s Day, an article on Amazon:

The Amazon Mystery: What America’s Strangest Tech Company Is Really Up To, By Derek Thompson in The Atlantic

Sounds intriguing, no? Give it a read, at least the first paragraph, eh?



Student Reading: 74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza

Hi there students,

Rough week for me and my computer, so I’ve only got these two short articles to share this week. But they’re cool ones. And because we’ve only got two articles for the week, I’d suggest you read them both in full (don’t worry, they’re short). But really, why wouldn’t you want to? It’s not as easy to convince your friends that the bigger pizza is the better deal when you don’t know why that’s the case. Nor is it as easy to justify why you shouldn’t if you haven’t read the second one. So read on, find the magical reason why you support either side, and use it for the next few decades of your life.


74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza, by Quoctrung Bui in NPR

One Reason To Get Whatever Size Pizza You Want, by Jess Jiang in NPR


Student Reading: Review of Ford GT40

A special interest of one of my students: the Ford GT40.

Feel like reading about cars, content with the knowledge that you’re actually doing your brain a favor too?

Sweet, here’s your chance.

Ford GT40, by Frank Markus in Car and Driver