Moderating a Community

I recently took up the job of moderator on a fairly big, renowned peer-to-peer support site. Despite my previous experience of moderating and administering my own (admittedly small) website some years ago, I’ve discovered most of what I learned does not directly translate to this new site.

I’m a member of a team whose job it is to basically discourage and take purposeful action upon unsupportive and inappropriate discourse and, to some extent, help people feel welcome into the community.

I struggle to find a balance between my views and the guidelines we follow. The guidelines are not always rules; there is often wiggle room, which results in the guidelines being rich in ambiguity.

It’s early days yet, so hopefully I’ll get better at it in time. Luckily, it seems I’m not the only one. Despite being part of the community for a very long time, I still need to get a feel for the community with this fresh new perspective.

As I’ve implied above, it’s an actual team and not a bunch of rogue moderators doing whatever they see fit. Admittedly, I’m not used to this. The site I ran some years ago was built, moderated, and maintained by pretty much just me, and it was tough. This went on for a couple of years.

In the end, I closed down old Bessie due partly to personal reasons—oops. I know for next time to keep my personal life well and truly out of a project like that. I also just felt as though it weren’t going anywhere; I was a fool.

The site was sort of successful, given it had no fancy domain and no money was put into advertising. The site had fans, regulars, and some people were somewhat obsessed with it. My amateur approach to web development and management was a good start.

Unfortunately, I can never resurrect the site or its community. Due to lost data on a HDD, the site’s entire backup was lost. This was a very sad day indeed. Two years of passion and work down the virtual drain. A lesson learned.

I’m hoping, with the smallest glimmer of hope, that the skills I take from this new “job” will allow me to build upon that foundation I laid down all those years ago. Maybe one day I’ll start something up again. Maybe it’ll be bigger and better.

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How I Feel about Police Officers

I got to thinking about police officers and how they may behave with civilians. In some places, POs have a bad reputation for abusing their power and bullying the innocent. Is it all bad?

If someone is unnecessarily impolite and aggressive to me, as I often see POs being in the media, then I would want to return in kind, special clothes or not. I really, really don’t like feeling threatened, pushed, or cornered at all. Who does?

That said, I tend to be tactful most of the time and would simply state why I don’t like whatever they’re doing, and that I won’t tolerate it, or words along those lines. If a PO doesn’t have the sense to realise that’s a fair, honest warning, then tough titties, I suppose. Afterall, I’m sure they want their job to go smoother.

Admittedly, I’ve always had a problem with authority—perhaps I got pushed around too much as a kid—but I also have a problem with people not respecting the outfit but instead using it to bully people around.

I tend to be logical about things. If I screw up, it’s OK, and I understand why they would be a certain way (to a point) however, if I’ve done nothing at all wrong, then that changes things. If I’ve done nothing wrong, I reserve the right to stand my ground, as I fully believe we all should. Then again, I guess it’s not all black and white.

With that in mind, the dealings I’ve had with the UK police over the years (mostly helping others) have been pretty good. Some have been friendly and tactful, so I respect their approach. As a result, I was very cooperative and respectful.

I don’t tend to even put myself in situations in which I would need to be treated aggressively, so that’s a plus. I’m usually a very careful and honest person.

I think the media tends to portray POs as nasty, vindictive bullies on a power-trip, but in actuality, there are some really good coppers out there.

I used to want to be an officer, but maybe I have the wrong mindset.

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Screw You, Technology

I’m so sick and tired of technology.

How is it, after all these fantastic years of discovery and advancements, we have computers so smart they get sent into space, yet here on planet Earth, this Toshiba laptop refuses to use official drivers from two official locations, both Toshiba’s site and AMD’s site, on an operating system with which it was originally sold?

I’m fed up of Windows troubles. I’m sick of Skype not working; dying on Android then dying on my PC for seemingly no reason with no decent help to be found online, for others too. Messages not getting sent or received, calls being dropped, video failing to show, and surely more issues have plagued my various Skype installations for too long.

I’m sick of Microsoft with their questionable business decisions and obnoxious software changes, forcing us into some crap for which some of us frankly don’t give a shit. What exactly was so wrong with Windows Live Messenger with Plus! which worked so well, looked fantastic, and was so popular? Don’t even get me started on the initial XBOX One fiasco!

I’ve had enough of troubleshooting; having to test, remember each and every setting in-case the computer implodes at any given moment, and trying to figure out just how technology has somehow screwed me.

I’m sick of companies like Google sticking their noses up something that was perfectly fine the way it was! Sure, because we really needed Google+ and Google’s interference with what was a perfectly fine and dandy system on YouTube. Yeah, I said it.

Use Linux! I hear you shout. Well, I’ve ran into arguably more issues there than I ever have with modern Windows (7 and 8.1) so I have no clue what the hell to think of Linux. Crash after freeze after failed installation mixed with a terminal and computer jargon with which most probably don’t care to deal—not fun.

I’m tired of technology advancing so fast, making you spend so much money just to play games in a stable and pleasant way, despite having spent a sizable chunk of dosh to have a decent experience. Assuming, of course, the damn companies don’t make a complete and utter, dire, joke of a mess of these so-called AAA games; stutter, horrendous FPS on solid machines, CtDs, freezes, errors, corrupted saves, and so much more await many a modern PC gamer.

Technology, kindly go home, because you’re well and truly wankered.

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The Gender War

I can actually foresee a gender war in the not-too-distant future. I don’t mean all the silly bickering, but guns fired, and lives taken; all-out war.

Go back far enough and you have women being mistreated to the max. Eventually, women rose up and made themselves heard. Only now, years later, the tables are turning, causing many men to be bullied and ridiculed by women, giving us crap if we so much as breathe their way. How long before it turns into a true, violent, world-wide battle?

The idea of a physical war between genders is quite a scary one that would no doubt lead to the destruction of human life. I expect I’ll get laughed at for suggesting such an event could ever occur, and don’t get me wrong, I certainly hope this is just me overthinking.

Here I am, like so many men, just going about my business, trying to get on with my damn life, yet I keep getting bombarded by equal rights this, feminism that, men can’t do this, political correctness that, disguised by what sometimes feels like the desire to put us down and raise some of these women nice and high up on that fancy horse of theirs. I’m getting sick of it.

I’m all for women not being treated like dirt, but I do feel it’s getting far out of hand when even simple gestures are blown up into something huge. There are even plenty of women who’re getting sick of it.

Today, just now, I was told that offering a woman a cup of tea apparently means you want to bone her, not only that, it’s apparently a punishable offense. Whether this is nonsense or not, and I sure hope it is, I can actually believe this to be a straight-up possibility; that’s how silly it’s getting.

Before you know it, it’ll be wrong to love a woman because it’s demeaning to her as a fellow human being. Maybe we’ll one day have to stop using words like “her” and “she,” since it distinguishes the gender, and thus shows we’re not equal! We’ll no doubt have to say things like peoplekind and huperson.

Oh deary me, it appears I cannot open the door for you, for it is sinfully immoral and undoubtedly offensive to all the women out there. Nevermind that it’s something I would perhaps do for a man or woman, be it family, a friend, or a stranger; it’s a simple courtesy and does not necessarily have to be related to your vagina.

Before you rage at me, I just want to apologise if this truly offends you. The content is quite blunt, but it’s also honest and genuine. Unless otherwise stated, when mentioning the female gender, I was not referring to every single woman on the planet.

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Dear Extraterrestrials

I’m having a rather interesting evening sucking up all sorts of information via the interwebs. A thought occurred to me: what would I say to alien life should they come a-knockin’?

I’m probably going to sound like my deck has been replaced with soggy toilet paper shoved into a pack that once housed cards, but I have always wanted to be taken away.

There have been occasions in my life when I’ve looked up at the night sky full of undiscovered mystery, and then damn near begged the sky for someone to show me something more; something better. At first it was God, but as I got older, it became the stars; them.

Let’s assume these remarkable beings are not inherently aggressive, and are a lot like humans, but of course still completely alien. Let’s also assume these outlanders speak English, or are at least so massively smart that they can grasp such a language with ease.

“Hey there, martian. What brings you to my planet?”

I want to tell them we can be awe-inspiring; the compassion we can have for one another. At the same time, I rather desire to show them the bad side to humanity; the gluttony, the abhorrence, and the jealousy; to show them our blemishes in the hope that perhaps they have the answer, or at least some helpful wisdom.

I want to tell these sentient life forms that, together, we have felt deeply alone for such a long time. How many of us can be surrounded by others like us, yet still feel unheard, unseen, unappreciated, and even unloved.

I need to show them our strength, courage, and persistence. How one single person can fight tooth and nail for those he or she holds dear. How just one human being can stand tall for what it believes to be true and just. How one couple, despite all odds, can make their union work; to show the world that they will not be defeated.

I long for them to show me what exists out there. Who are they? Where are they from? What is their planet like? I want to learn from them and communicate with them. The possibilities are endless.

I don’t ask for much, do I?

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What if we’re smaller than we think?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in space. I’m no astronaut, I’m no astrology nerd. I’ve never really had the opportunity to pursue such an interest, and to what end anyway? It’s not like I’m going to solve any giant mysteries. All I can do is what we can all do, and that’s wonder.

One freaky idea that crossed my mind tonight, is this: what if we’re all just a tiny part of something much, much bigger? Turns out this question has already been asked and scientist are apparently already considering it—typical.

Basically—not that anything about space is basic—what if the universe (and not just the observable universe) were just some microscopic spec on the back of an unthinkably big creature on an unimaginably big world? What if galaxies, suns, and planets were simply hilariously small parts of a far, far bigger world? Maybe there are beings out there looking through telescopes of their own, watching our planets, or even just our galaxies, and wondering what we are, how we work, and how we pertain to their existence, just as we look through our adorable little telescopes to understand our puny, insignificant selves. I’d really like to see a movie that puts this idea into something visual. They say the universe is infinite and is ever-expanding, but what if this growth is merely the growth of alien skin on an animal?

I wish I had more knowledge of space and time so I could better wrap my head around it all. As it stands, I feel like I’m just a kid asking his parents silly, annoying questions. When you possess knowledge about something, you start to ask the right questions, otherwise you just fumble around in the dark. Where’s that light switch?

How can space be infinite anyway? I can’t get my head around that, naturally. I doubt many people look at that and are like “yeah, that totally makes sense—duh.” I can’t help but to think the universe is finite, but I guess that’s just because I refuse to believe something can truly be infinite, unless we’re talking mathematics. The scary thing is, if the universe isn’t infinite, then what else is there, …nothingness? It just doesn’t compute in my mind. Think you’re alone? Damn, imagine being stuck in the emptiness of the non-universe, assuming that’s counted as the universe, but then that raises the question of whether that empty void is itself infinite or not! I’m fairly sure that the one thing which truly is infinite, is our ability to question, seek, and wonder.

Next time your problems get too much for you, look up and consider the bigger picture. We’re just 1 tiny person on 1 large planet in 1 giant galaxy that hosts an estimated minimum of 100 billion planets. Do you think they’re lonely?

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94 Questions to Get to Know Me

These questions were found here, so thank you to the creator. There was meant to be 111, but I have no idea what happened to the list to have only ended up with 94, but I can’t complain!

  1. Are you really ready for 111 questions?
    Despite the really late time, yes.
  2. Was your last real relationship a mistake?
    My past self would scream at me for saying this, but ultimately, yes, it was. However, what happened led to other things, so I suppose it’s meant to be, and in a way, some great things came of it, so, I consider the relationship to have been a mistake, not the good of the outcome.
  3. Who did you last say “I love you” to?
    My dad, because he’s awesome. As for a relationship way, not for about, well, years.
  4. Do you regret it?
    Regret what? I regret many things! Do I regret saying I love you? If so, then no. As long as it’s sincere, I don’t think there’s anything to regret.
  5. Have you ever been depressed?
  6. Are you a boy or girl?
    Neither—I’m a grown man.
  7. What is your relationship status?
  8. How do you want to die?
    I don’t, but if I had to, I guess I’d go with old, as in, billions of years old.
  9. What did you last eat?
    Food, but to be more specific, 2 mince and onion pasties.
  10. Played any sports?
    In my life? Yeah, football, and tried tenis at one point.
  11. Do you bite your nails ?
    Eew. Might as well ask me if I have worms! …I don’t, by the way.
  12. When was your last physical fight?
    A couple of months ago.
  13. Do you have an attitude?
    We all do.
  14. Do you like someone?
    I’m intrigued by someone.
  15. What is your real name?
    I’m anonymous here.
  16. Are you gonna get high later ?
    Absolutely not. I’m against those sort of drugs.
  17. Do you hate anyone at the moment?
    I hate many people, unfortunately.
  18. Do you miss someone?
    In this particular moment, not especially, but now and then, yes.
  19. Twirl or cut your spaghetti?
    Doesn’t bother me, because it’s all speghetti, at the end of the day.
  20. Do you tan a lot?
    As in, with tanning machines? I don’t “tan” at all. I don’t want to burn my skin for the amusement of others, and frankly find it a little disconcerting that risking skin cancer has become the attractive thing to do, these days.
  21. Have any pets?
    Sadly not. I’d like a dog or a cat. More over, I’d love to get a German Shephard, and plan to whenever possible.
  22. How exactly are you feeling?
    Tired, and a bit discombobulated… whatever that means, I just think it sounds cool.
  23. Ever eaten food in a car while someone or yourself is driving?
  24. Ever made out in the bathroom?
    I don’t think so, sadly. Sounds hot, though, … especially if in the shower!
  25. Would you take any of your exes back?
    I’m not even going to go there.
  26. Are you scared of spiders?
    No, but earwigs freak me the fuck out.
  27. Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
    Who wouldn’t?
  28. Do you regret anything from your past?
    Way too many things.
  29. What are your plans for this weekend?
    I have none. Only plan I have is pub on Friday with a couple of friends.
  30. Do you want to have kids?
    Not really. Well, part of me does, but I’m just not mentally equipped for that stuff. I’d be more than satisfied with a wife, a home, and a dog; it’s all I’ve wanted since I was young.
  31. Did you ever kiss someone whose name starts with an M?
  32. Do you type fast?
    Relatively. I touch-type, and the last test I did was approx. 80-90 words per minute, but I think that was before I broke my 5th metacarpel.
  33. Do you have piercings? How many?
    Nope. Not my thing, really.
  34. Want any more?
  35. Can you spell well?
    Yes. Apparently you can spell well, too. Fairly simple word, to be fair.
  36. Do you miss anyone from your past?
    See above.
  37. What are you craving right now?
    Nothing, except sleep.
  38. Ever been to a bonfire party ?
    Yeah, I believe so.
  39. Have you ever been on a horse?
    Sadly not.
  40. Kissed someone in a pick up truck?
    Um, no… I don’t exactly tend to meet women with pick-up trucks.
  41. Have you ever broken someone’s heart?
    Unfortunately, I may have done just that.
  42. Have you ever been cheated on?
    Not as far as I know.
  43. Have you made a boyfriend/girlfriend cry?
    Yeah, kinda.
  44. Would you live with someone without marrying them?
    I’m not married with my flatmate and we’re living together, so that proves it’s totally doable! But in all seriousness, yes, I would, and I think it would be insane to marry someone without even having lived together.
  45. What should you be doing ?
  46. What’s irritating you right now?
    Nothing, other than the need to sleep.
  47. Have you ever liked someone so much that it hurts?
  48. Does somebody love you?
    Romantically? I highly doubt it, and if they did, they totally should tell me.
  49. What is your favorite colour ?
    Red and black, primarily red.
  50. Have you ever changed clothes in a vehicle?
  51. Do you have trust issues?
  52. Do you have a good relationship with your parents?
    Father, yes, and as for the mother, no. I haven’t seen or spoken to her in over 10 years. I get along OK with my step-mother, but sometimes we really don’t see eye-to-eye.
  53. Do you believe your most recent ex thinks about you?
    I honestly don’t know, but I’ve certainly wondered if I ever cross her mind.
  54. Who was the last person you cried in front of?
    Not sure.
  55. Do you give out second chances too easily?
    No. I’m very strict in that sense. I’m no welcome mat. If someone screws me over, that’s it. I struggle to see past these things. It really depends on the person though, and what was done to merit a second chance. This is actually something I’ve had to work on, because I used to be a bit unforgiving.
  56. Is it easier to forgive or forget?
    Neither are easy for me.
  57. Is this year the best year of your life?
    Jesus no, although I’ve certainly made some amazing decisions.
  58. What was your child hood nickname?
    A few, all of which shan’t be uttered here.
  59. Have you ever walked outside completely naked?
  60. Do you believe everything happens for a reason?
  61. What is the last thing you did before you went to bed last night?
    Probably messed around with my phone.
  62. What is bothering you?
    Repeated questions are a bit bothersom.
  63. Have you ever been out of your province?
    My province? Oo-er. I’ll assume that’s a yes for me.
  64. Do you play the Wii?
    Nope. PC Master Race. Just kidding, but I do play on the PC, these days.
  65. Are you listening to music right now?
    Nope. It’s … very quiet.
  66. Do you like Chinese food?
    Not much of it. I’m more of an Indian person.
  67. Do you know your fathers b- day?
  68. Are you afraid of the dark?
    Nope. Oddly, I find it comforting.
  69. Is cheating ever okay?
    No! Well, I can’t think of a way in which it would be OK, unless it was some sort of special relationship aggreement.
  70. Are you mean?
    Yeah, I’m a genuine arsehole.
  71. Can you keep white shoes clean?
    Yeah, for a while.
  72. Do you believe in true love?
    I don’t like that term. True love seems to be that silly, non-existent or stupidly rare sort of love that you see in the movies or read about in books. Do I believe in love? Absolutely.
  73. Do you like the outside?
    What’s that?
  74. Are you currently bored?
    Nope, I love these kind of questions.
  75. Do you wanna get married?
    Some day.
  76. Is it cute when a boy/girl calls you baby?
    Oh Jesus, no. I would instantly be annoyed if a woman called me baby.
  77. Are you hungry?
  78. Have you ever made out for more than a half hour straight?
    Very likely. I don’t tend to time these things.
  79. What makes you happy?
    Happy things.
  80. Would you change your name?
    I used to want to, but I realise now that it was chosen for me, and I feel I need to respect that.
  81. Ever been to Alaska?
  82. Do you watch the news?
    No. Depressing.
  83. What’ s your zodiac sign?
  84. Do you like Subway?
    Hell yes. I discovered this awesomeness quite recently.
  85. Would it be hard to kiss the last person you kissed?
    No shit!
  86. Your best friend of the opposite sex likes you, what do you do?
    Locally, I don’t have such a friend. My best friend is male.
  87. Do you talk like your friends?
    Yeah, sometimes. Social brainwashing!
  88. Have you ever seen someone you knew & purposely avoided them?
    Oh come on. Let’s face it, we’ve all done that, right?
  89. Do you have a friend of the opposite sex who you can act your complete self around?
    Locally, no.
  90. who was the last person of the opposite sex you talked to?
    Locally, possibly my step-mother. Aside from that, a woman at the checkout.
  91. Does it matter if your boyfriend/girlfriend smokes?
    Well, I’m a non-smoker and cannot stand to be near that crap. All I smell is cancer, and I don’t want that, so keep that shit away from me. So yes, as much as I hate to admit it, it does matter to me. I don’t know if I’d pin a whole relationship on it, though. One of my exes smoked, … wasn’t until years later when I discovered she wouldn’t smoke around me because she knew I hated it, and was often actually dying for a cigarette just for me—kind of sweet, now that I think about it.
  92. Who’s the last person you had a deep conversation with?
    Best mate.
  93. Favourite lyrics right now?
    “Kennst du den Ort wo ich auf dich gewartet hab?”
  94. Can you count to one million?
    If I wasted my life doing that, sure.

I hope you enjoyed this little diversion from the usual blog topics.

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So, you’re learning German, eh?

For a while now, I’ve been mulling over the idea of trying to help people who’re perhaps still fresh on the slow, clunky conveyor belt to German fluency. I’m not sure I can compete with the explanations and insight given by the likes of Katja from Deutsch für Euch or Emanuel who writes fantastical articles on the blog German is Easy, but I can at least give you my experiences, as a speaker and learner of so far almost 7 years, and as someone who is entirely self-taught. There’s a lot I can share with you.

That’s the preamble out of the way, so how about we up the ante?

When I started German, before I actually truly started, I did as most probably do and picked up the odd phrase, such as willkommen, hallo, auf wiedersehen, and ich liebe dich—the usual suspects. I never really put a great deal of thought into anything of a German nature, particularly the grammar, as it was just a casual amusement. After a while, interest picked up and that interest ended up as a passion and somewhat of an obsession.

At first, I tried Japanese romaji and found it incredibly difficult. Admittedly, one of the reasons I got into German is because people were saying it’s one of the easiest languages to learn; that it’s easy. No amount of italics can express the sarcasm intended in that text. There’s a reason the Germans have the saying deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache; German is hard, contrary to the name of Emanuel’s blog. The bright side is that learning some Japanese sort of allowed me to get my size 11 man-feet into the door, so to speak. I was able to appreciate different ways to express things, a different culture and how that affects language, as well as appreciating and using different sounds. There’s a big difference between the sounds of German and the likes of Japanese, however. For me, I’d typically consider Japanese a softer language, and German a much sharper language. Unfortunately, Japanese never stuck with me, so all these years later, all I can really remember is small, barely useful things.

Although German has its many challenges, as I’m sure every language does—I’m looking at you, Japanese, you crazy yet alluring bastard—it’s likely well within your capacity to learn it. There are patterns that begin to form which can make life easier when you come to an unfamiliar word, such as nouns with -heit at the end of them typically use the die gender. A lot of people seem to struggle with the pronounciation, particularly with the German r sound and the ch sound, but these too can be learned. Believe it or not, I learned the German r very quickly by just gargling water.

I should probably add a disclaimer that I don’t yet consider myself as a fluent speaker of German, however, I am definitely conversational, listen to German music, read German articles, have my phone and computer in German, play some games in German, have some sites in German, and so on. My idea of fluency is damn-close to how a native would speak, so I don’t think I’m going to reach that anytime soon. The general opinion I get from Germans seems to be that my German is good, so that’s me telling you that I’m not perfect, can make mistakes, but I’m not entirely atrocious. The beauty of this part of the blog is that while I learn, I can share my mistakes in the hopes that you too can learn from them.

Think of me as a tool, … not in the mean way, rather, I’m just a tool in your toolbox of language learning tools. I have no gameplan here, folks. I am indeed winging it. If you’re interested in my putting this idea into action, let me know in the comments below, or, if you’re the silent, brooding type, perhaps share the article using the buttons below so I can use the numbers as a way to judge the interest, plus shamelessly get the blog around to new people a little. If nobody’s interested, I’ll just, uh, discreetly kick this blog under the bed and we need never talk about it again.

As always, viel Glück beim Lernen.

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How I Learn German

Let’s face it, language learning typically leads to so much terminology it’s ridiculous. Practically need a dictionary at hand just to know what the damn words are, in order to learn what the damn words are. When someone gives you an explanation as to how to say something it’s often met with a ton of gibberish with which not everyone is so familiar. While I do partake in some of the aforementioned gibberish, I also enjoy somewhat of an abstract way of understanding, or just… similar to how a kid understands a language. When we’re young, we don’t have people shoving fancy grammatical terminology down our throats, we just endeavor to understand that something is, rather than why it is. As adults, we get somewhat obsessed with the why, because I guess we’re creatures of contrast and sometimes we need to know why something is different to accept it, or maybe that’s just me.

Do you learn best when you quit trying to shovel those words down your throat along with the already-extensive vocabulary that a language learner typically learns? Or do those fancy words become a necessity in order for you to properly learn?

With German, there are some things that no amount of terminology seems to teach me, and that I only understand after countless times of seeing it used in different contexts, because that’s how we learned as a kid, right?! When mom ‘n’ pops say “No!” to you grabbing that bigass slice of cake, you sort of ascertain that it means the yummy cake is a no-go. Perhaps not at first, perhaps it just becomes a scary sound mixed with obvious unamused body language, but after a while, there’s a link between the situation and that word; an association.

I sometimes find I learn better when I ‘wing it’, rather than constantly ramming my head so far into a book I end up recreating the Never Ending Story, only it’s the Never Ending Book of German! Why? You might ask. Because, I may answer, I’m often creating associations between words which typically have some sort of meaning to me, be it someone giving me some sad and memorable news, or something funny happening in a game that has a link to a certain new word I might come across. This, at least for me, has far more of an impact than simply rattling off words from a dictionary that have no real meaning at that given moment. When you have touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing linked to words, it, as far as I know, has been proven to improve the chances of you remembering things; this is why it’s common for people with amnesia to use these senses as much as possible in order to hopefully once again remember that which was forgotten.

Just some things for you to chew over.

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