Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Learn EQ with Handrew (part 2)

Hi, it's me again! You know, Andrew Girardin. I won a prize for having the most Emotional Intelligence. But I wasn't born like this - I had a good teacher.

My mentor and life coach Handrew wants to teach you some stuff about Emotional Intelligence so that you, too, can live each and every day to its fullest.

In today's lesson you'll learn how to stop feeling bad about all the things that happen.

Handrew here! In lesson one you learned your personality type. That's very important. Today we're going to step into a submarine, shrink it to tiny size, and swim around your brain. Like in that movie!

I'm being injected into my own brain?

Fasten your seatbelt, buddy. Your brain is a dangerous place. If your personality type was RED, we'll be injected into your medulla oblongata. For all other types, we'll be going into the occipital lobe. (Don't worry about the difference. It's just to validate the personality testing we did, to show it wasn't pointless psychobabble.) 

Once we're inside, we're going to head right towards the part of your brain that our sensors indicate is fucking up your shit. Scanning... target locked. Stand by for launch in 3, 2, 1...

The injection seems to have gone smoothly - we're in. Let's just test all the systems before we press on. Don't think of a pink elephant. See all those lightning bolts? That's you thinking about elephants! The sensors all seem to be working. Let's move on.

We should be getting near - Whoa! Shields up! Achtung, baby! We're getting interference from that memory cloud on the left. The last porn you watched, I assume. Why is that dwarf holding a -? Look, can you try to think clean thoughts for now? - we're burning 18 acres of rainforest every second to power this machine.

Oh! Oh! This is the place. 

No, it's not supposed to look like that. You know when someone doesn't come to your party and you think they hate you? You know when you're talking to someone and they look at their watch and you think you are boring them? Assuming the worst all the time has opened this horrid black hole thing in your brain. Doctors call it a 'Spazzy Assumption Place.'

Don't be a SAP! We can make you all better.

Let's use the scenario about someone checking their watch while you're yapping away. Why are they doing that? Order these from most likely to least likely:

s) because he hates you
b) because he wants to know the time (for any of a billion reasons)
b) because the watch is actually a Geiger counter and he thought he smelled some radiation
o) because he's written your name on his wrist and wants to use it when he asks you on a date
o) because he wants you to notice his Patek Philippe

The correct sequence is, of course, b-o-o-b-s.

Which stands for:

Next time you find yourself assuming the worst, stop and think about what you learned today. Boobs.

Now let's get out of your brain before the smell overpowers us. Maybe we'll come back one day and see what else we can find.

Coming soon - part 3.

Note - I don't like redirecting people to other blogs because everything you need is right here. But if you want more advice on this topic, here's a post called '16 Things Emotionally Strong People Don't Do.' Other than the annoying click-bait title, it's actually good.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How to Write a CV

So you're struggling with your CV and google, in its robotic wisdom, has brought you here. Well, sir, you're in luck. I recently updated mine and have decided to share my methods with you.


Important note 1 - Because of this blog's graphical limitations, I can't show you my CV as an A4-sized image. So I've broken it down into readable sections. At the end I'll show you how it all fits together.

Important note 2 - My whole CV is only one page. Writing more than that would be like splitting The Hobbit into 3 movies - preposterous and tiresome.

Section 1 - "About Me"

Here you should sell yourself in a few concise sentences. Imagine your CV is a review of a movie - this is where you write the bits that go on the posters. There's no point being modest. Being modest isn't how Megan Fox got her big break. Look how it's done:



Notice that I mentioned teaching two times. That's coz I was applying for a teaching job. I could easily change it to 'laying carpets' or whatever. That's called 'tailoring your CV to the job you want'. Of course, it helps if you have some related experience, which is where the next section comes in - Employment History. 

Section 2 - "Employment History"

This is a list of relevant jobs you've had. Unrelated jobs come in a separate section. We don't have much space, so just describe the most awesome things you did. Like so:



That's a ridiculously impressive teaching CV. What if you don't have such a background? Pfft. Just make it up. Don't lie exactly, but if you've ever straightened a rug or rolled your toes on a bathroom mat you've got carpet laying experience. If you're really struggling, write some vague aspirational fluff and extend the next section.

Section 3 - "Other Employment" and "Education"

Here you can take some liberties, smooth over gaps in your employment history, and exaggerate the value of free online courses you did.



Section 4 - "Andrew is a God Among Men"

In an elegant column on the left of my page, I've added some genuine feedback from students. You can write whatever you want on yours, because there's no way anyone could ever check. 

(I suppose in a job interview someone might ask for the original, but you can just well up with tears and say 'she died'. That should be an end to it.)

Here's mine:



And now a look at how it all fits together.

Notice the clean lines, the subtle use of negative space. If its harmonies aren't resonating in your brain like the first time you saw a Yin/Yang symbol, there's something desperately off about your neurology.

(Photos on CVs are normal in Switzerland. If you live in a more modern economy, you can use that space for a graphic that represents your personality, such as a picture of a tree. Or just write the word YES three times in Comic Sans.)

There's my guide to creating the perfect CV. Go, ye, into the job market, and prosper!


Friday, August 08, 2014

Andrew's True Reviews: Brother HL-3140CW Laser Printer

Some time ago, I reviewed the HP Officejet 6700. A friend who works at HP complained that I had been unfairly negative, but after pouring two beers into him he admitted that among HP employees the Officejet 6700 has the nickname 'the Voldemort'.

The fact that I paid for that object gives me a greater sense of shame and remorse than anything I've ever done in my wicked life. If I could go back in time, I wouldn't change what I said to that babe I later realised wanted to bang me, nor would I try to forestall the incident I call 'Andrew Buys a Chicken' (don't ask). No, I'd persuade myself not to buy that printer, even if it meant creating a time paradox (you know, from future me slapping past me in the face).

Anyway, after I tried to remove the dark spirits that lived inside it by means of a screwdriver, it stopped working. Jen insisted I buy a new device so she could continue to print pictures of sleeping kittens and sloths in buckets.

After some research I decided to take a punt on a Brother laser printer. Here are my findings:


* The HL-3140CW is not possessed by the horcrux of a Dark Lord
* It doesn't download 'updates' every time you want to print a quick page before work
* As far as I can tell, it doesn't report that it's out of ink when you know the cartridge is 1/3 full (I haven't had to replace the toner since I bought it)
* It goes into 'deep sleep' mode soon after you've finished printing, so it's really quiet and doesn't invade your consciousness (unlike certain other objects I could mention)
* It can do modern wifi printing stuff. You know, print from your iPhone and all that


* When you connect it to the wifi the first time, you have to input the password in a really slow, fiddly way (there's no keyboard, just the left, right, up, down keys). So you'll want to choose a short, simple wifi password
* It doesn't give you a lot to complain about, so if you're the sort of person who thrives on drama and strife, this might not be the printer for you
* If you print specialist things you might need something with better quality. I wouldn't know - I only print pages of text, and Jen only prints sloths, which come out just fine.


My name is Andrew Girardin and I approve of this product. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

70 Days of Happiness

For my own mysterious reasons - which are plainly laid out here- I'm taking photos of things that make me happy. One a day for 100 days, in the style of the 100HappyDays project.

Day 64

I've become too expository - always explaining everything to the Nth degree. I've lost that air of mystery.

So today I started a mini-project aimed at rediscovering the sexy enigma I used to be.

"Jen," I said, "I've decided I need to be more mysterious."
Her whole body seemed to sigh. She had a pleading look in her eye as she said, "No you don't."
"So I'll be randomly refusing to answer some of your questions. I'm thinking thirty percent."
"This is not a good plan."
"Ask me some questions."
"Do you want to know the nice thing I said about you in class today?"
"I'm not playing. Leave me alone."

Later, I pretended to be on a phone call when Jen came into the flat. "Yeah, they're back together!" I said into the receiver. "I know! But he really, really apologised." I let that hang in the air. It's pretty much the most fascinating thing you could ever hear. "Yeah. Jen's back. Gotta go."
Jen's eyes were wide. "Who's back together? Who apologised?"


Day 65

Today was the World Cup semi final. You know what happened. Germany beat Brazil 7-1. As the following graphic shows, that's like scoring 107 points in the Superbowl.

Watching the spectacle unfold made me feel good. Why? Well, I'm partly responsible for the dominant state of German football.

Most of the beer I buy is German. That fuels the Bavarian economy, makes more cash available for workers to buy season tickets at Bayern Munich etc, which helps clubs invest in young players, who develop in a stable environment with great coaching. Then they produce one of the most complete sporting performances of all time.

You're welcome, Germany.

(Here's a picture of some beer.)

(No, look again. There really is beer in that picture.)

Day 66

TV serves one of two purposes - familiar background noise, or a sedative for Jen (she's a bit more docile when asleep).

There are very few shows that deserve and demand full attention - The Wire is one. Another is Jeeves and Wooster.

A typical episode involves Bertie Wooster trying to help a chum marry a girl by hatching a scheme which ends up with the girl engaged to Bertie, then turning to his valet's ingenuity to extract him without lasting damage.

It's very silly, very British, and perfectly performed by Stephen Fry and House Laurie, for whom was created the phrase 'born to play the role'.

And the very best thing is that Jen loves how they talk, so her English is now peppered with delightful phrases such as 'toodle-pip' and 'what-ho!'

Day 67

The best part of today was eating Spanish food prepared by my gourmand friend Josu (he who fathered a baby on Day 15). It was really delish and nice in every way.

"You know what my favourite part of the meal was?" I asked Jen on the way home.
"No. What?"
"Ah, it doesn't matter," I said, before sighing and staring into the distance.
"Tell me tell me tell me."


Day 68

The World Cup final. Germany won. Thanks mostly to me, it's fair to say.

(Meanwhile, Jen learned to stop asking me about the cryptic notes I'd been leaving around the flat. They said things like 'student electrodes' and 'the higher, the fewer'. Jen has developed a nervous twitch in one eye from all the mysteriousness.)

Day 69

So, the World Cup was over and I could get back to writing my book. Fame, fortune, and millions of happy children!

I opened my laptop to get started but found that Nick had sent me a link - the same link he'd sent me twice before. What was so damned urgent? I clicked it and stared at my screen, puzzled.

What was it? A Harry Potter fanfiction written by someone with a stupid name. And the story had a stupid name, too. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Lame. Lame as.

Just to humour Nick and say 'yeah I tried it but it didn't grab me' I started reading the first chapter.

The next time I blinked, four hours had passed, and my eyeballs were dry as sandpaper. The story is Harry Potter, but reimagined so that Harry was raised by a scientist. It's hilarious and brilliant and if Nick wants me to write a classic children's book he should stop sending me these excuses to procrastinate.

Day 70

When I was about 6 years old, my mother sat me down and initiated a 'serious talk'.
"Andrew, remember I told you where babies come from?"
"Yes. You told me that Santa brings them once you've grown a cake in your belly big enough for him to eat. A spurious claim which I soon debunked."
"Right. Well, you're going to have a baby brother or a baby sister."
"Am I to understand," I said, "That I'm supposed to share all the affection and attention I presently get with some undeserving newcomer?"
"Sort of."
"And when will this event take place? For how long have you been gestating?"
"Your baby brother or sister will be born in a few months. I was thinking you could choose a toy."
"Oh you're bribing me to accept a division of my birthright. Your strategy is obvious, but commendable."
"Have a think about what toy you want if it's a baby boy and what toy you want if it's a baby girl."
"Sigh," I said. "It's futile to do anything but accept your proffer. And I know what I want. I want a TRANSFORMER."

This memory came to my head while watching the premiere of the new Transformers movie. Bang! Crash! Explode! Autobots transform! Yeah!

Progress after 70 days:

Mood: Enigmatic.

Compliments: "I read your blog. It's funny." "Your blog was funnier last week." "I like coming to your English lessons. It's much more relaxing than real life."
Optimism: Hmm. What? Oh, I was thinking about something strange that happened to me today. What? Oh, I think I probably don't want to talk about it. Sigh. (Stare into the distance.) 


Friday, July 18, 2014

63 Days of Happiness

For my own inscrutable reasons - which you can scrutinise here- I'm taking photos of things that make me happy. One a day for 100 days, in the style of the 100HappyDays project.

Day 57

Exciting times! First lesson with my new private student, and a tiny but important step towards financial freedom. I got up early, filled a thermos with hot, sweet tea and hopped on a train.

The thermos is my favourite recent acquisition, for three reasons. First, it was free (swag for helping a friend move). Second, it keeps drinks hot for an infinite amount of time (because of science). Most importantly, it's from Starbucks.

Starbucks may be tax scallywags but they do have convenient locations and comfy chairs. With the thermos I can sit there, pretending to be consuming their beveripoffs, for hours.

This guy's taken it to the next level

Anyway, I got to Starbucks a couple of minutes before the lesson was due to start, couldn't see my student, and made myself comfortable. Knowing that I'd soon be earning money while stealing warmth and shelter made me feel great. Ten minutes later he still wasn't there.

I checked my diary and realised I was a week early.

That put a dent in my mood, but at least one person I know is happy to hear tales of my stupidity. "Jen," I texted, "I did a spaz." "Yay! Details details details!" Typical me: always spreading happiness.

Day 58

My friend Kevlar Vezt (not a pseudonym) is always trying to drag me to dangerous places to do dangerous things. "Andrew," he'll say, "let's go and strap sticks to our feet and slide off a mountain!" Or "I'm going to run about four times farther than humans are designed to run. By the end, my body will have started digesting my gums in a desperate bid to stay alive. Would you like to join me? They give you a hotdog at the end."

Or most recently: "Have you ever swum in Lake Zurich? It's safe - no-one has seen a giant squid there for ages!"

Weirdly, I didn't say no. (Possibly because the happiness experiment has altered my brain chemistry in a detrimental way?) And after checking the weather forecast, I thought, 'why the devil not?!'

So there I was, my foot hovering about a foot above the lake. "It's cold!" I whinged. "The water's 21 degrees," said Kevlar, "way higher than what I normally swim in." 21 did sound like a lot. That's like Tenerife in September, right? I touched my toe against the surface and it froze into an ice block and fell off. "My toe! I need that for counting."

"Look," said Kevlar. "See that platform? That's about 30 metres away. Swim to there, and if you're still cold, I'll buy you a nice hot tea."

So I nearly got hypothermia, but scored a free drink. On balance, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Day 59

My school is one of the few institutions in the world which understands and respects the concept of the Birthday Month.

All the June-born teachers are invited to lunch at the end of the month. (It's the same in other months, but for people who are not me, so I don't consider it noteworthy.)

It was my first restaurant meal since I started saving for retirement. My boss chose to bring us to Bar Basso, which is really nice and does superb pizzas. All washed down with lashings of prosecco.

"Ahhh," I said after a post-meal burp. "That was very heaven. And to think there are people in third world countries who don't even have a birthday."

Day 60

Today I started an online course from a top Russian university. The course is called Neuroeconomics, which is a word you've never even heard before. That's just the kind of thing I do. No big deal. Whatever.

What? You're in awe of me and my insatiable desire to learn new things? Oh, you're too kind. But why don't you go and learn something new, too? Don't let me hoard all the insufferable smugness. I'll put a link at the bottom.

Meanwhile, here's a neuroeconomics joke, which I understand because I study things like neuroeconomics.

Day 61

Recently it feels like I got a lot of stuff for free, and when I counted up the results of my 'Best at Savings' game I had saved about 200 francs compared to what I normally spend. In about ten days. With zero drop in quality of life. Quite eye-opening!

July is one of my worst months in terms of income. At best I break even. But what if I didn't spend anything at all? I decided to make it into a project and put it on the blog. Projects are fun!

I'm calling it 'My Miserly Month' unless I think of a better name by then.

Day 62

Jen was extremely supportive when I told her I planned to slash my spending in July. She showed her supportiveness by becoming furious and walking around in a stress bubble for an hour. (No, I don't understand it, either. I guess she thought I wanted to spend a month in the woods foraging for mushrooms while growing flax in a bum bag.)

The effort of raging at me seemed to tire her, and she collapsed, spent, on the sofa. To show there were no hard feelings, I began piling things on her. I got this far before I lost my nerve:

Day 63

Remember I joined the library? Today I went to get some books. They have so, so many books! And you're free to choose whichever ones you want. (Although as you know from neuroeconomics, you have to choose the one your brain chose for you 8 seconds ago. LOL.)

"Sir would like to borrow Harry Potter... again?"

As I was looking around - get this - I found a whole aisle full of audiobooks. New ones, too!

I borrowed one book that seems fun, and one audiobook, which I instantly ripped into mp3 format for me to listen to anytime I want! Ever!

By the end of the year I'll have mp3s of about 150 audiobooks. AhahahahahHAHAhahaha!

Progress after 63 days:

Mood: Good.
Compliments: "I dreamt you died so I went to the South Pole to live with the penguins." "I don't hate you." "That was a very nice thing to do, Andrew. Jen is lucky to have you."
Optimism: High.

Learn something for free.