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Old saw may be true: Practice does make perfect

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Joke: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Answer: Practice, practice, practice.

Tucked into our brains are the mysterious channels of memory: The kind that finds keys, remembers the route across country, knows how to ride a bike, recalls Grandma’s red dress, and relives that special Christmas when brother came home from college.

All of these kinds of “remembering” represent special kinds of memory, one of which is called “procedural memory.”

According to Rebecca Rupp, author of Committed to Memory (Crown, 1998), procedural memory is a process of knowing how. It is procedural memory that lets us, after many years, swim or type without thinking about the keys.

Some say it is procedural memory that makes experts and geniuses, more than genetics, more than brain power, more than special gifts.

In fact, if you have 10 years and complete dedication, no matter what age you are, procedural memory can probably make you an expert at something, or get you very close to it.

Practice can compensate for age-related declines in motor abilities and general reaction time, according to a study at the University of Potsdam in Germany. The study showed that older dedicated professional musicians, those who practiced consistently and constantly, performed equally as well as their younger peers.

Procedural memory has been said to create champions. Researcher Michael Howe, writing in New Scientist, argues that ordinary people can be brilliant if given sufficient practice to build up procedural memory.

One example is a group of 18th-century orphans taught the violin by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. The children came from impoverished backgrounds of extreme deprivation and sorrow before being taken into a church-run orphanage. Nonetheless, after years of instruction by the famous composer, a stunning 30 percent of the orphaned girls developed prodigious musical abilities — a far higher percentage of musical prodigies than would be found in the average population of girls.

Practice, it seems, really does make perfect.

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How to get rid of your golf slice

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Among amateur and intermediate golfers, slicing the ball is a common problem. Typically, it’s caused by an outside-to-inside swing path that leaves the clubface open at the moment of impact. This sends the ball careening off to the right if the golfer is right-handed. Here are some tips to help you eliminate your slice and send the ball straight down the fairway.

Adjust your setup
Many golfers line up with the ball too far forward in their stance. This leaves the clubface open at the moment of impact and prevents the golfer from properly releasing the club. To help get rid of your slice, experiment with moving the ball a bit further back in your stance.

Fix your grip

A good golf swing starts with a good grip. It’s common for players who slice the ball to have their top hand too far underneath the club, which results in an open clubface. As a rule, you want to be able to see three knuckles on your left hand.

Tuck in your elbow
If your grip and setup are fine, then the issue is likely with your swing. One of the most common swing mistakes among players who slice is flaring out their right elbow during the backswing. This pulls the club away from the body, resulting in an outside-to-inside swing. To ensure your club follows a straight path, keep your right elbow as close to your body as possible during your backswing.

If following this advice doesn’t deliver your ball onto the fairway, consider taking one or more lessons from a golf instructor. You’ll likely benefit from more personalized pointers.

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4 ways golfers can improve their mental game

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Golf is one of the most mentally challenging sports. Here are four tips to help you stay in the zone while you’re on the links.

1. Don’t dwell on bad shots
No one wants to hook the ball into the trees or pencil in a triple-bogey. However, you need to be able to move on from a bad shot to focus on the next one. Strategies for dealing with a disappointing hole include chatting with your playing partners and planning your next shot.

2. Have a pre-shot ritual

Following the same procedure before every shot can help you relax and get into the right headspace. Many golfers like to be consistent down to the number of practice swings and waggles they do.

3. Visualize success
Confidence can make a big difference. If you visualize yourself attaining the desired result before each shot, you may find you perform better. Moreover, this can help you work out a strategy for approaching a hole.

4. Stay healthy
Taking care of your body will help ensure you remain mentally sharp. Drink plenty of water, eat a nutritious meal, and warm-up before you hit the links. You’ll feel looser and more alert.

By mastering your mental game, you’ll be able to shave a few strokes off your scorecard and make this challenging sport more enjoyable.

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5 kinds of fishing lures

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Lures are designed to simulate live bait and have several other advantages. In addition to being less messy, they can help you cast further and target species more directly. Here are five kinds of commonly used lures.

1. Plugs
These hard-plastic lures are shaped and painted to resemble baitfish and other prey. They have a thin sheet of metal on one end, called a lip or bill, which makes the lure wobble. Types of plugs include crankbaits, minnows, wobblers, shallow-divers, and deep-divers.

2. Spoons

These metal lures resemble a spoon without a handle. The concave shape causes them to wobble and reflect light, thereby resembling an injured baitfish, which is something no game fish can resist.

3. Soft plastic baits
Used primarily for bass fishing, these types of lures are designed to resemble worms, crawfish, lizards, frogs, and other prey.

4. Spinnerbaits
These lures have one or more oval-shaped blades that spin rapidly and reflect light when pulled through the water. They imitate swimming bait fish like minnows and shiners, and they’re ideal for catching predatory species like bass, pike, and perch.

5. Buzzbaits
There are different styles of buzz bait, but the defining feature of this type of lure is its ability to vibrate as it moves through the water. Buzzbaits are used primarily to target bass in shallow water.

Are you still wondering which type of lure to use? If so, the staff at your local tackle shop can help you pick out the best option for the fishing you’re doing.

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June celebrity birthdays!

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Angelina Jolie, 45, actress, Los Angeles, CA, 1975. Stefan Servos / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Do you share a June birthday with a celebrity?

1 – Justine Henin, 38, former tennis player, Liege, Belgium, 1982.

2 –  Awkwafina, 32, actress, rap artist, born Nora Lum, Forest Hills, NY, 1988.

3 – Scott Valentine, 62, actor (Family Ties), Saratoga Springs, NY, 1958.

4 – Angelina Jolie, 45, actress, Los Angeles, CA, 1975.

5 – Kathleen Kennedy, 67, film producer, film executive (president of Lucasfilm), Berkeley, CA, 1953.

6 – Gary U.S. Bonds, 81, singer, songwriter, born Gary Anderson, Jacksonville, FL, 1939.

7 – Roberto Alagna, 57, opera singer, born Clichy-sous-Bois, Seine-Saint-Denis, France, 1963.

8 – Keenen Ivory Wayans, 62, actor (In Living Color), New York, NY, 1958.

9 – Natalie Portman, 39, actress (Black Swan, Thor), born Natalie Hershlag, Jerusalem, Israel, 1981.

10 – Kate Upton, 28, model, St. Joseph, MI, 1992.

11 – Mehmet Oz, 60, surgeon, television personality, Cleveland, OH, 1960.

12 – Marv Albert, 79, sportscaster, born Marvin Philip Aufrichtig, New York, NY, 1941.

13 – Chris Evans, 39, actor (The Avengers), Boston, MA, 1981.

14 – Marla Gibbs, 89, actress (The Jeffersons), born Margaret Bradley, Chicago, IL, 1931.

15 – Leah Remini, 50, actress (The King of Queens), Brooklyn, NY, 1970.

16 – Abby Elliott, 33, comedienne, actress (Saturday Night Live), New York, NY, 1987.

17 – Greg Kinnear, 57, actor, Logansport, IN, 1963.

18 – Blake Shelton, 44, country singer, television personality (The Voice), Ada, OK, 1976.

19 – Macklemore, 37, rapper, born Benjamin Haggerty, Kent, WA, 1983.

20 – John Goodman, 68, actor (Roseanne), Afton, MO, 1952.

21 – Kris Allen, 35, singer, television personality (American Idol), Jacksonville, AR, 1985.

22 – Randy Couture, 57, mixed martial artist, Everett, WA, 1963.

23 – Joel Edgerton, 46, actor, (The Great Gatsby), director, Blacktown, Australia, 1974.

24 – Sherry Stringfield, 53, actress (NYPD Blue), Colorado Springs, CO, 1967.

25 – Ricky Gervais, 59, actor, comedian, Reading, Berkshire, England, 1961.

26 – Jennette McCurdy, 28, actress, singer, Long Beach, CA, 1992.

27 – Chandler Riggs, 21, actor (The Walking Dead), Atlanta, GA, 1999.

28 – Thomas Hampson, 65, opera singer, Elkhart, IN, 1955.

29 – Gary Busey, 76, actor, musician, Baytown, TX, 1944.

30 – Cole Swindell, 37, singer, Glennville, GA, 1983.

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5 common camping mistakes to avoid

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If you’re going camping this summer, make sure to plan ahead. It’s all too easy to forget a key detail and then suffer the consequences. To ensure you have a terrific time, here are some common mistakes to avoid.

1. Choosing the wrong campground
Do your research to find a campground that checks all your boxes. In particular, consider the amenities you want. This may include laundry facilities, a pool, a tennis court, or lake access. You should also consider what type of camping spot you’d like, whether it’s a secluded area in the forest or a shared campsite with a community feel.

2. Bringing gear that doesn’t work

Inspect all your equipment to make sure it’s in good condition. If you have any new gear, familiarize yourself with it in advance. For example, run through setting up a new tent in your backyard.

3. Being ill-prepared for the weather
Check the weather forecast and prepare for all eventualities. Even if there’s only a small chance of rain, play it safe and bring rain gear such as a poncho, rain boots, and a tarp. Keep in mind that the temperature can dip at night.

4. Leaving your first aid kit at home
You should always take along a first aid kit. It should have all the items you need to handle cuts, abrasions, injuries, and aches. Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring things you can use to repair your tent if need be such as tape, rope, and a needle and thread.

5. Taking local wildlife for granted
Determine what types of animals inhabit the area where your campground is located and learn how to react if you encounter them (bears, coyotes, moose, and others). Also, you should find out how to avoid attracting local wildlife to your campsite.

Additionally, be sure to arrive while the sun’s still up. It can be difficult to find your campsite, put up your tent, and locate the bathroom in the dark.

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Campsite kitchen essentials

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Are you going camping? With a bit of preparation, you can eat as well as you do at home. In addition to food, here’s what you’ll need.

• Matches, lighters or firelighters
• Plates and bowls
• Cups and mugs

• Cutlery
• Cooking utensils (spatula, tongs, etc.)
• Pots and pans
• Knives
• A cutting board
• A can opener
• A dishpan, biodegradable soap, a sponge and towels
• Containers, bags and food wrap for storing leftovers
• Aluminum foil
• Paper towels
• Garbage bags
• Potable water
• A cooler and ice bags
• A coffee maker
• A camp stove and fuel
• A telescoping fork
• A grill (for cooking on the fire)
• Scissors

For added convenience, use foldable or nestable tableware, multi-purpose cutlery, and cookware with detachable handles. This way you can reduce your load but still have a hearty spread.

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