Why I Am So Stupid
July 1, 2013
By Scott Lewis
On a side note... that 4,700 for a speed reading champion is slow. I met
and talked to Burt Ward... the guy who played Robin in the Batman TV
Show in the sixties with Adam West. I believe he still holds the record
for the fastest speed reader. He told me that at his best he was able to
read over 20,000 wpm. I believe he told me he was out of
currently read around 2500 wpm. He said it took a lot of practice to get
ready for a speed test to see how fast he could read... and comprehend.
I believe he told me (but I could be off on this one point) that when he
set his record he had a comprehension in the mid 80%. I want to say 85%,
but I don't know. I should probably look it up, but maybe you will have
more fun doing that yourself. I prefer to just go by memory here.
So... in 8th grade I was reading below a 3rd grader. In fact, I was at that same reading level until 12th grade. And now we turn this story back to... how I got into cars.
See, that summer school program to graduate early... someone in the office did not know I did not pass English, even though I was taking it again in 11th grade like everyone else. I had a free period in 11th grade and because of this mix up I was allowed to leave campus for that free period... as seniors are allowed to do. Hey, it was their oversight, right.
Well, 12th grade comes along and I have a free period. Well, someone in their infinite wisdom figured out that they gave me a free period by mistake in 11th grade, so they made me take study hall instead of a free period in 12th grade. The least offensive thing for me to do was to go to the library and check in (for attendance).
So I was sitting in the library with nothing to do. I looked at the magazine rack and they had a few car magazines there. I picked up Car and Driver and Hot Rod and read them... like read them cover to cover. This stuff was amazing. Car and Driver did a retro piece on the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, and a sidebar on the Shelby Mustang. What was this? I knew about Mustangs, because every senior wanted a Mustang or Camaro for his first car (and then got whatever he could get). But this was a special Mustang that looks so cool, with a set of 4 downdraft Weber carburetors. I had to have one of these someday.
And so I went to the newsstand and bought a copy of Car and Driver. And I could not find that article. Hmm, maybe I got the wrong magazine. It was Saturday, so... back to the newsstand and I bought Motor Trend and Road & Track, maybe it was one of those. Nope. Read all three magazines cover to cover that weekend. No retro Mustang article. Though there was a cool article of the new 280 ZX Turbo, and Car and Driver took a Mercury Capri (same as the Fox bodied Mustang) and hopped up its 255 V-8 engine to get it to run 130 mph top speed. They also mentioned in that article that Ford was going to put the 302 V-8 back in the Mustang. Whoo-Hoo! The Boss is Back!
Back to school and study hall on Monday and I saw the Car and Driver magazine. It was the September issue. Sure... it was September (we started school the Wednesday after Labor Day where I grew up on Long Island).
Back home I see I had the October issues of these magazines. And that is when I learned that magazines come out before their cover date. I went to three stores until I found one that still had that September 1980 issue of Car and Driver with the Shelby Mustang in it.
I may still have that magazine today. In those days I saved every car magazine I ever read. Every one. In fact, once a year I would go through all of them, with more knowledge of cars, so that some articles that previously went over my head I understood.
I brought all of my magazines from 1980-1986 with me to Texas when I moved down here (joined the Air Force). I kept them all until... my wife (now ex-wife) hated that they took up so much space in the garage. I resisted until the water heater in the garage leaked and two or three of my boxes of magazines were damaged. I started to go through those boxes and throw away the water damaged issues. Then I thought... why am I bothering to save these magazines. My wife had me convinced there was no reason to keep them.
I threw out another box or two before I thought to myself... it's a garage, it's supposed to have boxes. What difference does it make if I have a set of boxes stuffed in the corner of the garage. Really. So I stopped throwing them away. I started bringing empty boxes home from work... the kind that paper comes in... you know those 500 page reams of paper. The boxes are exactly the right size to have two stacks of magazines inside the boxes, laying flat. Now my magazines were much more neatly stored and stacked... much better than in those old Avon shipping boxes my grandmother gave me to originally pack them in.
I took what I still had and re-boxed and organized them, and put them in the closet in my Study. When I left my wife I took them with me. I still have them. I have maintained a non-stop subscription to Car and Driver, Hot Rod and Car Craft (my three favorite magazines) since the fall of 1980. I don't have all of them anymore, but I have a lot... and quite a few of other magazines as well.
Back in 1982 I had had 12 monthly car magazine subscriptions, and one that was every other month. So 12-1/2 monthly subscriptions.
I am not that bad today. Today I have 6-1/2 subscriptions (six monthly, and one that is 7 times a year). Granted, two of them came free with something else. And the 7 month/year magazine I am thinking about dropping for now. So I might be down to as few as 4 by the time renewals are up. And no... I do not throw any of them away, though it probably is impractical.
I still remember vividly the episode of Home Improvement with Tim Allen when he is in his basement and one of his kids comes down the stairs and Tim makes a comment about all the magazines being the kids inheritance. I really liked that... and thought it myself. If I can get my kids into cars like I got into cars then they should be glad to get all my old magazines to browse through.
Alas, kids today don't care about print magazines, and even though one of my sons is into cars, he almost never reads any of my magazines. However, he is only 15, and doesn't drive yet. I think when he is 18 and we are getting him his first car he may get into it better. At that time I will no longer have to pay child support either, so I expect to be able to finally buy a project car that I can work on with him.
Oh yea... all this was about my reading. I had something I was passionate about, so I enjoyed reading for the first time in my life. I had to read faster to get it all in. How fast do I read today... a whopping 180 wpm. That's right... I still read at the speed of an Elementary school child. Granted, it feels (to me) like I read so much faster... and twice as fast is so much faster. I just wish I could have found things to read when I was a kid that would have made a difference in school. How much better of a student could I have been if I could have read everything they wanted us to read?
And so... that is why I am so stupid. I read so slow that I can't keep up and can't finish tests. That is one reason why math was so easy for me. The teacher shows how to do a problem and I know it... no need for practice, no need for homework (but that is another story).
I use to read so slow. Because of that I hated doing something I was so bad at, so all my other grades suffered. I got straight A's in math (with one exception, and part of that other story) and got C's and D's in pretty much everything else. Heck, when I got to college I took English 101 three before I finally passed it. Because I read so slow.
Clearly I did not have a better topic to talk about. Hopefully next month I will have something better for you to read.... and read faster too.