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Jared’s Top Tricks from 2012

February 25, 2013

For the past few years I’ve taken time each January to recap the major and unusual things I learned in the previous year.  I decided I would start sharing that list.

Dual n-back: Dual n-back training is probably the single most beneficial thing I did for my mental muscles in 2012.  As it turns out, you’re not necessarily stuck with what you’ve got when it comes to brainpower— the results of a study performed at the University of Michigan indicated that with 20 minutes of practice for 20 days, you can actually substantially increase your IQ.  Think of dual n-back training as working out with a celebrity trainer for your brain.  It may kick your ass, but the results are noticeable and totally worth the hard work. Afterwards, my mental recall had improved significantly and there was a clarity that helped me see solutions to challenges that had troubled me for years.

Microlending: I like helping people who are serious about helping themselves, but detest dependency-building handouts.  Kiva provides the connection with citizens in Third World countries who have almost no access to loans with reasonable rates and allows you to give them $25 microloans. With odds of repayment through Kiva reaching up to 98%, you get your “charity” back—or, even better, keep reloaning and changing lives with the same $25!  I will match any micro-loan you make to double the results.

Political betting: I turned a profit of nearly $5,500 during the 2012 presidential election cycle by placing bets on Intrade.com. People frequently allow their emotions to get the better of them where sensitive subjects, like politics are concerned, and the mainstream media aren’t helping. TV and newspapers have become sensational entertainment over real information in all areas, not just political campaigns. The downside of this “entertainment” is drawing illogical conclusions about the likelihood of certain events happening — like Mitt Romney winning the election.  The media asserted that it was a close race, and there was a near 50/50 chance that either candidate could win. When I did my own research and relied on dependable sources, I learned that the true odds were closer to 85+% Obama, 15% Romney.  Time to print some money.  I’m looking forward to another opportunity to make some money in the next election cycle (2014).

Modafinil: I broke down and tried the famous “smart drug.”  Considered one of the top body hacks available, two friends had tried it and encouraged me to follow suit, insisting that it would make me clear-headed—“like coffee without the jitters.”  My curiosity was piqued, so I gave it a whirl. Sadly, it didn’t have the desired effect for me personally. But it’s worked for many other people, so it might work for you.

Importance of uncharged honesty: It’s pretty common sense: trying to engage in meaningful conversation with an individual who is defensive or hypersensitive is unproductive and frustrating. This year I focused on being a more open communicator by challenging myself to speak with “emotionally uncharged honesty.” I found that this kind of neutral but direct communication – even when the topics of conversation had potential to be very charged –  allowed for a more exploratory, productive feel than they would if the communicators are defensive or sensitive.

Online dating made easier: I learned that in the world of online dating, it’s all about your profile. I used a professional picture as my main picture and allowed members of the opposite sex to select the rest of the pictures that I put on my page. I worked on an original, non-cliché summary of myself for the profile, and had the opposite sex edit it.  Afterwards, I found that the quality, attractive women I contacted were far more likely to respond, and that women were three times more likely to take the initiative to contact me.

Website design: By using a site called WordPress.com, I took my website from a slapdash collection of links on a webpage to a professional-looking blog in about 3 hours.  If you’re looking to soup up your site, WordPress makes you a pro. Either that, or you could always try to bribe your 7th-grade nephew who undoubtedly knows more about designing a legitimate-looking site than you ever will.

TheraKane: Need a massage?  This amazing self-massage tool ($35) has been a lifesaver—as if alleviation of pain wasn’t incentive enough, it’s less stressful for my bank account too. It’s great for people who sit at a desk or drive a lot and have issues with their posture or being hunched over for extended stretches.

AirBNB.com: This site is an incredibly easy way to score great accommodations from $20 to $35 per night. The rooms are fully furnished, have kitchen access, and all the amenities of your home.  I’ve found that the best prices can be found from listings that feature nice pictures but no ratings yet. Ask for a discount every time (20-50% off), and have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

Couchsurfer.org: This site allows you to get the inside track on a city before you arrive.  Couchsurfer.org has become the place to go to get reliable, useful information from locals who know and love their city. Incidentally, it has not become the place to go if you actually want to couchsurf unless you’re:

A foreigner or live in a highly desirable and/or expensive place others want to visit,

Hot enough that strangers will allow you into their homes, or

All of the above.

ExLax: Laugh if you will. But yes, this made the list.  Because I only throw up once every decade or so, food poisoning or that horrible icky feeling can have a lasting effect on.  Taking 3-4 ExLax as soon as I feel the chills set in allows me to rally and have fun in a few hours, instead of being relegated to my room to suffer in solitude for 2-3 days. I realize that it’s unorthodox, but it’s effective.

Open a can of whoop-ass: My appreciation for self defense increased significantly after I witnessed a friend nearly be attacked in a park one night. It prompted me to research the most effective ways to defend oneself. Pepper spray proved to be a very practical, useful self-defense weapon that offers less liability and a lower risk of disastrous outcome than carrying a firearm. Though some people feel safer packing heat, pepper spray seems to be heat enough for most situations. It’s less expensive, takes little training to use effectively, and can still disable an attacker.  The Fox 2oz Fog Spray is the product I found to be the most effective spray and costs about $15.

FreedomPop.com: This little device has saved my life more than once. My WiFi knows when I have something important to finish, because it chooses that very moment to crash. I found FreedomPop.com and was able to score free 500MB of high-speed wireless data (3-7MB speeds) on my laptop each month.  It’s a super handy free tool that helps me avoid internet fees or helps when the signal is weak in hotels and provides backup internet so I’m not at the mercy of my WiFi, and I can be productive when it matters most.

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