The Power of Politeness

Last night I got a letter in the mail from Comcast saying that our bill was overdue from December. I knew we had opted out of mail using e-notifications instead, so I was a bit surprised. Missing a payment of any kind isn’t something that typically happens in the BWB household thanks to the superpowers of autopayment. So this is what to do when you have to call customer service.

The thing is, I never got an e-mail saying I had a bill to pay, which I expected since it is explicitly noted on the Comcast page (here.)xfinity

I called Comcast and asked them why I got fined when I never got an e-mail. Apparently they sent it to my Comcast e-mail, which I was never told existed. Ever. So, I politely told the rep the predicament, how I was never notified, and asked for the $9.50 to be refunded.

He told me again that the e-mail was sent, and I told him that I never received it. I was firm, but polite, in requesting that the $9.50 was returned. After a few minutes of awkward waiting, he complied. It was altogether a positive experience.

I think it’s worth noting the emphasis on smiling and being polite when it comes to customer service. Ask anyone who’s ever answered a phone at work before. They will always help you out and give you a better deal if you treat them like a human being. Abuse them and they will abuse you. Customer service people deal with annoyed and pissed off people each day — you can still be pissed off, just don’t communicate that way to the representative. It will just result in you both being unhappy.

This, combined with the simple and concise practice of non-violent communication, is the power of politeness.

Try it next time you have to call customer service, I think you’ll be surprised. Let me know how it goes.

Thanks for reading. Keep on learning! 


New to the blog? Check out the WELCOME NEW READERS section. Or click on theARCHIVES from the months on the right. You can also e-mail me at Keep on readin’ on!

How to Overcome the OK Plateau: Accelerated Learning Dvorak Typing Part II

It’s been 3 months of typing with the Dvorak keyboard and I am at 99 wpm (words per minute), at the OK plateau. That’s like 1wpm per day! I hope to break 100wpm sometime in the next week!

I started typing with the Dvorak keyboard at the end of February, with the goal being to reach 140 wpm with above 90% accuracy. In the last 3 months I switched to Dvorak, and I have since gone from about 6 wpm to 99. Pretty good, but this is the part of learning any new skill where things start to get difficult.

From 6 wpm to 99 wpm. You can see the plateau at the top leveling off. I hope to continue to push through and continue to improve.

THE OK PLATEAU! From 6 wpm to 99 wpm. You can see the plateau at the top leveling off. I hope to continue to push through and continue to improve.

We have officially arrived at the OK plateau. I am writing this because when I have tried searching on the internet on how to type faster, almost all blogs and typing websites are designed for beginners. You find this pattern with almost any skill, including languages. There are tons of resources out there for someone just starting to learn a language or an instrument, but once you get to the intermediate and advanced level, the materials become more and more scarce.

Typing is a unique skill in that it is essentially like learning a new language, and learning a new instrument at the same time. I have been trying to treat it like an instrument and I intend to apply the same principals to typing as I did to when I was learning how to play bass guitar or fast fingerings on the trumpet, as well as some basics from piano.

Here’s what I plan to do, and what you can do too with whatever muscle memory skill you might be working on.


  1. Go slow. Ask any rock and roll soloist or amazing piano player how they are able to play so fast. The answer is almost definitely by practicing their parts, scales, and solos VERY SLOWLY. As I was taught in band class: If you can’t play it slow, you definitely cannot play it fast. You really have to take it slow to allow your body to learn how to type in the characters perfectly at a slow pace before you can speed it
  2. Fix your mistakes immediately. This is an Asian practice technique, but I also was reminded of it when watching Timothy Ferris learning Rock and Roll drumming. His instructor told him that WHEN he makes a mistake to STOP everything, slow it down, and practice playing the same part perfectly over and over very slowly. Perfect practice makes perfect. Bad practice makes you a fast typer who makes a lot of mistakes. But in order to really fast you need to be able to spell out most words with 0 mistakes.
  3. Use a metronome. This sounds really silly for typing, but using a metronome forces you to SLOW DOWN (Step #1). I use the Type Fu app as my scale generator, but to be honest, I think a program that repeated my problem words more often would be better. Type Fu is designed for beginners, we’re past that. We want something better, stronger, faster.I like to use a technique I used to use while practicing piano. If I play a part correctly, I get to speed up 1 beat per minute (bpm). If I play any errors at all, I have to slow down by 1bpm.
  4. Focus on your mistakes and learn from them. While practicing I write down whatever word or word combination that I messed up so that I can practice it later and figure out why I was making the mistake and rewrite the muscle memory so that next time I can spell the word correctly. I would be curious to know of other better ways to practice error words, but I haven’t really found any. I would love to hear from some speed typists about this, and will contact some and keep you informed.
  5. Quantify or Gamify your routine This one is self explanatory, but a big part of not continuing to improve after reaching the OK plateau is that it becomes less fun to practice. Personally, just using the test over at is a good enough incentive to me to keep practicing. I am absolutely going crazy that I am stuck at 99wpm. This is a good thing. This means that my brain will work while I am sleeping to try and solve the problem.
  6. Sign up for a competition or tournament. When I was learning trumpet in high school this was my biggest motivator. I practiced for hours and hours just so I could try and beat the kid from the town next door at a performance tournament. I haven’t done this since I am currently living in China learning Mandarin, but I am hoping to sign up for some sort of competition once I am back in the states. Even if it is small scale and just between some punk kids at the library, I know that training for a competition would be an effective way to improve.
  7. Write down your goal, and set a few minutes a day to practice. I am personally not taking this super seriously, so currently I am only practicing about 20 minutes each day. But, I am still seeing improvement.

I look forward to continuing to persevere through the OK plateau, and I hope that you too are pushing through whatever skill you are currently learning. I am also actively studying Mandarin Chinese, if I can find the time to take a break from studying, I can maybe share some of what I am learning on here as well.

Thanks for reading.

You can add me on 10fastfingers here. 

Thanks for reading. Keep on learning! 

New to the blog? Check out the WELCOME NEW READERS section. Or click on the ARCHIVES from the months on the right. You can also e-mail me at Keep on readin’ on!

Switching to Dvorak Keyboard: A Waste of Time or Awesome & Efficient?

One should always be learning new skills to better oneself. A big incentive to creating this blog is to share the skills I am working on learning, either for fun, for career advancement, or just out of plain necessity. Whether Dvorak works out or ends up being worth it isn’t as important as the fact that you are continuing to learn how to learn new skills.

Dvorak Zine on my old desk last month. I've sinced switched to a standing desk, but that's a different story.

Dvorak Zine on my old desk last month. I’ve since switched to a standing desk, but that’s a different story.

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Tuesday Tutorial: Iced Vanilla Coffee with the Hario Coffee Dripper

Iced Vanilla Coffee: The final product. Perfect for a hot summer day.

Iced Vanilla Coffee: The final product. Perfect for a hot summer day.

Coffee is a part of every day life. I have quit before cold-turkey, but I always come back to coffee because it is a delicious and enjoyable part of everyday life. Especially when you make it yourself. That, or I’m just addicted.

INTRODUCING The Hario Drip Coffee Maker. Ever since I got my hands on a Hario drip coffee maker, I have told everyone I know about it. This little device eliminates your need for a traditional coffee maker, which I tend to avoid because it is big and bulky, hard to clean, and takes up precious counter space.

For an aspiring minimalist lifestyle, a traditional coffee maker is made obsolete with the simple purchase of the Hario. It is versatile, durable, and transportable by being able to be thrown ina backpack or suitcase on any trip! I have been told the popular Aeropress  Continue reading

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Anything

This scene looks just as beautiful, whether you are wearing a suit or wearing torn jeans.

This scene looks beautiful no matter what you are wearing. Whether you wear torn jeans or a suit, you can appreciate the springtime scenery just the same.

“It is not the person who has, but the person who wants more, that is poor.” – Seneca the Younger

I recently had an experience inside a super-hip clothing store. You know the kind. The ones you can only find in a mall.  I found myself in line about to buy a shirt that was 75% off after biking 10 miles to the local Apple store.

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