Brain Goals

1. Read 30 – 45 minutes a day of Spanish.

2. Work on grammar books.

3. Read 30 books for reading list and class.

So you want one of those sexy well folded and crinkled brains?  You know that ladies find the gray matter between your ears irresistible?  And ladies, you know there is nothing hotter than a woman with a well developed cerebellum.  As I used to say, when it comes to an intellectual woman I medulla oblon-GOTTA get to know her!

Well since I am no longer single that kind of reasoning doesn’t have much effect on me.  But that is fine since I was long ago convinced of the need for a well-developed brain.  Sadly that realization came after I wasted my freshman and sophomore years of college far more interested in learning how to meet women (something I was quite successful at) than in the general acquisition of knowledge.  However, thanks to a wonderful public speaking professor and the threat of academic suspension (not to mention the loss of financial aid) I got my act together and went from a less than sterling 2.3 g.p.a. to a 3.7 g.p.a. in one semester.

Aside: If only there were as big a market for brain growth pills as for erection enhancers- both would be equally useless, but at least I wouldn’t be so pessimistic about humanity.

Click on the picture to try some more great brain teasers over and Funny Bone Productions.

1. Grammar.  My apostrophe usage is abysmal.  They come and go as they please with little regard for the rest of any given sentence.  I can’t tell the proper time and place to use lay or lie, who or whom, etc.  My colons and semi-colons are rarely used (correctly) and my hyphens are overtaxed to the nth degree.

2. Citation.  There is no way around it, my citation skills stink out loud.  I will admit to loathing the Turabian manual and spending way too much time trying to get my citation right, only to forget proper citation a day later.

3. Foreign Languages.  I got C’s in French in high school and C’s in German in college.  I took French to meet girls and took German- well, I don’t remember why I took German.  Now it is 8 years later and I have to have a level of reading competency in a foreign language to advance in my Ph.D. program.  Problem is I don’t remember a lick of french (well I do remember the kissing), and I don’t remember even a noun in German.

My Reading List- listed by problem area/topic

I. Learning Spanish in Five Months or Less

Jarvis, Ana C., Raquel Lebredo, Franciso Mena-Ayllon.  Hola Amigos.  4th Ed., Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

Prado, Marcial.  Practical Spanish Grammar: A Self-Teaching Guide.  2nd Ed., New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997.

Wild, Susana.  Spanish for Dummies.  Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2000.

II. Grammar

Good, C. Edward.  A Grammer Book for You and I…oops, Me.  Sterling, Virginia: Capital Books, Inc., 2002.

Strunk, William, E.B. White.  The Elements of Style.  New York: Penguin Books, 2000.

Truss, Lynne.  Eats, Shoots, & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.  New York: Gotham Books, 2003.

III. Filling in the Gaps

Bauer, Susan Wise.  The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had.  London: W. W. Norton & Comp., 2003.

Novobatzky, Peter, Ammon Shea.  Depraved and Insulting English: Words to Offend and Amuse.  San Diego: Harcourt, Inc., 2001.

IV. Intellectual Oddities and Miscellanea

Chown, Marcus.  The Quantum Zoo: A Tourist’s Guide to the Neverending Universe.  Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press, 2006.

V. Reading List/Class Books

Curtin, Philip D.  The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History.  2nd Ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

————.  The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census.  Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.

Landers, Jane G., Barry M. Robinson, Eds.  Slaves, Subjects, and Subversives: Blacks in Colonial Latin America.  Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

Scott, James C.  Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

The book contains this Ethiopian proverb in the first few pages: “When the great lord passes the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts.”

Solow, Barbara L, Ed.  Slavery and the rise of the Atlantic System.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, W. E. B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University, 1991.

Vinson, Ben III.  Bearing Arms For His Majesty: The Free-Colored Militia in Colonial Mexico.  Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001.

  1. Edgar says:

    Buena suerte con tu español.

    Que Dios te bendiga!

  2. Neil says:


    Let me know how that Spanish book works for you. I’d really like to learn more, especially living in Texas. My youngest has been teaching me a couple dozen phrases for our trip to Honduras, but they are just starter phrases (“This is my daughter, she translates for me . . .).

    That is a great list, by the way.

  3. Teresa says:


    I have the “Chinese for Dummies” book. It is good. I also have the Rosetta Stone for Mandarine.

    After a year with the book, and a few months with the program, I went from recognizing one or two words from the Jet Li movie, Hero, to being able to recognize about one in ten words, and fully understand a couple of sentences.


    I recommend both. Also, if you are looking for a good start to conversational use of the language, Pimsleur is really good. I got my Arabic tapes used on Amazon for about $10.

  4. Teresa says:

    Before anyone challenges my American-ness for learning Arabic…I learned it because I do volunteer ESL tutoring from time-to-time and I like to have a passing familiarity with the student’s language. It helps me understand their mistakes, puts them at ease and sometimes facilitates explinations.

    Plus, it is sometimes helpful for a student to hear their tutor making “dumb’ errors in a second language. It is less discouraging. 🙂

  5. And who would challenge your American-ness Teresa?

    Also, I only need to learn to read the language, not speak it. I have no clue if that makes it easier or not.

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