Favorite teacher I never met

How many teachers made a lasting impact on you? Who’s helped you understand the world’s influential literature?

Cliff Hillegass was a person who helped me greatly. Maybe he helped you, too. Ever heard of Cliff’s Notes?

His books offered plot summaries, and helped high school and college students better comprehend the classics. And they also reminded students that “A thorough appreciation of literature allows no shortcuts.” That’s why I always tried to read the original book first.

For me, Cliff’s Notes offered me an added dimension. They let me examine a book through different eyes. They made me appreciate what I’d read even more, by listening to the perspective of others.

Today, whenever I’m asked to write a report, I try to present it two ways. First, I offer a detailed viewpoint. But at the end, I include a brief summation to make sure the reader grasps the most important points.

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Attention spans, bathroom breaks

Did you know that our water supply faces a minor crisis every month or so? The reason might surprise you.

If there’s a big sports playoff game – or a popular TV series – viewers wait until commercials to take a bathroom break. Multiple flushes at about the same time strain local sewage systems. A bathroom break lasts approximately two minutes.

During those two minutes several commercials run. Some last 15 seconds, some last 30, some last a minute.

Once, I sat down to randomly record commercial length. Here’s what my semi-scientific survey found:

If you count “commercial programming” as anything that’s NOT the show you tuned in for, the average break is TWO minutes. Some are slightly longer, some shorter, and some – in addition to commercials – carry “tease” promotions of shows to come.

Why two minutes? My guess is, that’s the maximum attention span a viewer is willing to commit before focusing on another subject.