Do something – anything – large or small.  Small is all I have time for at the moment.  Then share!

I wrote a quick blogpost, and I refused to let myself get sucked into a long mental blogpost on why the parenting book I’m reading is problematic . . .

Posted by harp on Friday, May 16, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Edit
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Sorry, I can’t resist. Notice the bold I highlighted from the IRS site.


4. Submit copies of filed FBARs for the last six years for which an FBAR is due. (You should file delinquent FBARs according to the FBAR instructions and include a statement explaining that the FBARs are being filed as part of the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures for Non-Resident, Non-Filer U.S. Taxpayers. Through June 30, 2013, you may file electronically ( or by sending paper forms to Department of Treasury, Post Office Box 32621, Detroit, MI 48232-0621. After June 30, 2013, you must file electronically ( If you are unable to file electronically, you may contact FinCEN's Regulatory Helpline at 1-800-949-2732 or (if calling from outside the United States) 1-703-905-3975 to determine possible alternatives for timely reporting.

NOTE: Taxpayers filing FBARs electronically do not currently have the technological ability to include a statement explaining that the FBARs are being filed as part of the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures for Non-Resident, Non-Filer U.S. Taxpayers. Until such time that they have the ability, it is not necessary to include the statement. (July 18, 2013)


Okay, quit whining and Do Something!  Then share!

Posted by harp on Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 10:58 am | Edit
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Jesus was the only one with a perfect score.  We won’t achieve that on earth.  So why is everyone obsessed with it?


The language software I’m using to improve my German and brush up my French, DuoLingo, gives you three mistakes before you have to start over again.  They make a big deal of how long a streak of daily practice you can keep up.


New Year’s Resolutions usually come in the form of absolutes.  One missed day, and it’s all down the tubes.


Perfect SAT scores, 365 days of consecutive piano practice, no red marks on your math test, the list could go on.  The fear of losing just one little bit looms large in our subconscious.  I recently read that people are more motivated if they are afraid of losing something than if they stand to gain something.  Why?  It’s backwards!


If I don’t speak a word of German, I’ve made no mistakes but I’ve learned nothing.  If I speak 20 and make 10 mistakes I still get to eat my fresh bakery croissant and I’ve learned how to overcome my fear, I’ve felt the rush of satisfaction of a job completed, and I’ve likely learned from one or more of my mistakes.


So why the obsession with a perfect score?


I love Annie Dillard’s idea that a schedule is a net for catching days.  The power of a little every day is enormous.  But the power of almost every day is just as great, and probably better.

At first I thought about how I could justify doing DuoLingo on Sunday, our day of rest.  Then I thought, hang on, I am the master, not the servant of DuoLingo.  Their streak incentives don’t have to enslave me!  I choose to ignore them because I think they are counterproductive.  If instead, I choose to practice most days but not Sundays, I will likely hit about five days a week, or 260 days, subtract for vacation and other events, and that’s 200.  If I only do 20min. a day it would be equivalent to a two-week intensive course (based on the 3hour class, 2hours homework model generally offered by language schools).

Those 200 days strung together as a streak would indeed be quite impressive, but the learning would be about the same, and maybe a bit worse.  Imagine the pressure of losing a day in that streak – you’d be so close, and then it would all go up in smoke!  You might also make the stupid decision to not hang in the mountains one weekend because of no internet.  Oh don’t worry, you can cheat on DuoLingo.  You can buy yourself patch that makes it look like you have a long streak when you really missed a day!!!!

Language learning, as with most learning, actually benefits from a break now and then, and in fact I’ve read somewhere that the pace of every 7 days is scientifically proven to be helpful (sorry, don’t remember where.)  Why put on the extreme pressure to achieve something that doesn’t matter?  Why risk losing your motivation to push on because one tiny mistake destroys you’re ridiculous goal?

Going for a long streak is the prefect recipe for quitting.

Going for perfect is the perfect way to spoil the fun and increase your chances of making a mistake.

I hear our friend the 80/20 rule calling . . .

So next year, why not resolve to go on a diet 80% of the time?

Why not do 10min a day of DuoLingo and defy the “keep up your streak” notices.  Not the perfect language software?  Not enough investment to get anywhere?  Only like an imperfect 1-week intensive course, but with better retention.  That’s a whole lot better than 0 (which is how much I’ve studied French in the past 3 years), or even a 50 day streak.

So there DuoLingo.


Do Something Challenge:

Why not break a big, challenging goal that you don’t have time to work on now but wish you did, and pick a super tiny habit you can do really easily most days without thinking hard about it, then adding to it, ity-bit at a time until it starts to bear fruit in a month or a year?

For a silly example, I forget to take my vitamins.  So I’m thinking of breaking it down like this.

After I clean up the breakfast dishes, I will think about taking my vitamins.  Go me!

I’m guessing after a few days I’ll be ready for step two.

After I clean up the breakfast dishes, I will locate my vitamins.

After another few days I’m guessing I’ll be getting into the habit enough that I can go on.

After I clean up the breakfast dishes I will put a vitamin on the counter and put away the vitamins.

I’m guessing I’ll eventually eat the pill sitting on the counter, and it will be a habit.

Because we’re taking a tiny, tiny, step, it doesn’t have to be a perfect one, and it doesn’t have to be your biggest goal.  Spend your effort finding the simplest trigger to do a task so easy you can’t make up an excuse not to do it (that’s why I started with thinking about my vitamins.)

Then share, share!  I have to think about what I want to do with this challenge myself!

Posted by harp on Monday, April 28, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Edit
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