Self-Help Blog Archive - Dec 2008

Posts Below
12/12/2008 - If You Can't Do Something Hard, Try Something Even Harder (Tip)
12/25/2008 - Free Samples from


   ▲ Top  ▼ Bottom  △ TOC   ↓ Down
If You Can't Do Something Hard, Try Something Even Harder
Friday, December 12th, 2008
03:41:03 GMT


Programming is really difficult and tedious for me. It's often hard for me to do, and often hard to even force myself to start struggling to do. But one good thing about programming (aside from it enabling me to create unique and utterly customized tools I never could have obtained in any other way) is the fact that it makes a majority of everything else I might ever want to do seem tremendously easy in comparison.

For instance, years ago, I was interested in learning Japanese. Of course, I gave up on that - mostly because of losing interest, but also because of having too many obstacles such as little money for books, no computer with good Japanese dictionary software, no convenient transportation to the library, little internet access except at night and in the early morning when it wasn't clogging my family's phone line, etc. (I know it's pathetic that I let such things stop me, but my excuse is, I was a teenager who was not very resourceful and crippled with shyness).

And on top of that, Japanese itself was hard to learn. All those blasted thousands of characters, and multiple pronunciations for each. Arrghhh!!

Recently, though, something drew my attention back to the idea of learning Japanese, and I ended up looking through some of my old books. Whereupon, to my surprise, I discovered that just sitting there reading a book and passively absorbing even something as ridiculously overcomplicated as Japanese seemed blissfully, wonderfully easy compared to all the frustration and torment of having to constantly wrack my brain to figure out the next logical step in the process of writing and debugging a program. It was truly a nice change of pace - just reading stuff and not having to really think about it, just soaking it up like a sponge.

So, in summary - if you're having trouble doing something hard, force yourself to do something tremendously harder for weeks or months on end. (I recommend programming). You might end up running back to the original difficult task with open arms.

(Not that I'm now studying Japanese again - not yet, at least. But, I really might go back to learning that, sometime. I already am dabbling in French again. Something language-related might actually be a much better career for me than programming. Learning languages seems to come more naturally to me, it's less of a struggle. I have never yet become fluent in any language besides English, but, I was good at French in high school, at least.

If I do start studying Japanese again, I plan on attempting to learn Chinese at the same time, because both use many of the same characters with the same meanings, and it appears Chinese might be less hard to read than I thought, because apparently, each character has only one pronunciation, unlike Japanese. Also, Mandarin Chinese is one of the most commonly-spoken languages in the world, so, it's bound to be useful. I always wonder what cool stuff in other languages I'm missing out on.)

   ▲ Top  ▼ Bottom  △ TOC   ↓ Down

   ▲ Top  ▼ Bottom  △ TOC   Up ↑
Free Samples from
Thursday, December 25th, 2008
08:40:31 GMT is a website which provides very abbreviated summaries of popular self-help books in PDF and MP3 formats.

Currently, is offering 25 free MP3s and PDFs. You can sign up to get those at this page.

This appears to be a holiday gift, so I assume it's only a temporary offer. So, if you want them, sign up while you can. (Edit, 1/9/2009, 4:30 AM: Actually, they're still available now too). Once you sign up, you'll be able to download the MP3s and PDFs until the end of 2009.

(Edit, 4/26/2009: The original offer has been expired for a while now, but, happily, you can still hear the first few minutes of each MP3 and see the first page of each PDF.)

By the way, the MP3s aren't just a verbatim reading of the PDFs. There are often little variations thrown in.

I recommend getting both the PDFs and the MP3s - the PDFs are great for a quick overview or review, and the MP3s are great if you're working on some kind of mindless task like cleaning or driving but want to learn something at the same time.

   ▲ Top  ▼ Bottom  △ TOC   Up ↑