Ten Living Upgrades & Resources

Goods, Services & Culture to Enrich Your Day

Hey everyone, happy Friday, happy Lunar New Year.

Today, I’m posting ten more recommendations of goods, services, and culture that I’d feel deep guilt not sharing. May they serve you well.

📹 Wolfwalkers

This might already be on everyone’s radar, but when I heard of it over the weekend and promptly watched it with my 9 and 7 year olds, we were mesmerized. It’s currently rocking a 99% on RottenTomatoes and on my short list for rewatching any day now.

While it’s redemptive and glorious through and through, there’s wrenching, honest depictions of (age-appropriate) systemic injustice and brutality perpetrated by those in power. Balanced and beautiful, the animation style is this singular 2D woodblock aesthetic, an appropriate throwback given the Celtic lore at the center of the tale. It’s deep philosophical heart from front to end.

💻 Just the Recipe

When I’m looking for a recipe online, I have 0% interest in the paragraphs of context and personal narrative that lead up to the instructions. Not to mention the ads strewn all over the page.

Enter, Just the Recipe. Bookmark that link. Whenever you find a recipe you want to use, copy the url, paste it in Just the Recipe, and bam:

It literally made me laugh out loud with joy to see that resulting streamlined thing of beauty. The original recipe content was a long-scrolling jumbled mess of an interface. Best corner-cutting in the history of recipes.

🍴 Give Garlic a Chop & a Rest

Little known fact: many of the outstanding healing properties of fresh garlic vanish when cooked. Two critical things to do:

  1. Crush or chop the garlic

  2. Let the crushed/chopped garlic rest for 10 minutes before cooking

Here’s some deeper intelligence about this for the curious:

Crushing or chopping garlic releases an enzyme, alliinase, that catalyzes the formation of allicin, which then breaks down to form a variety of healthful organosulfur compounds…. Crushing garlic before cooking may allow alliinase to work before cooking inactivates the enzyme. … Allowing crushed garlic to stand for 10 minutes before cooking may further enhance formation of those compounds before heat inactivates alliinase.

🎵 MyNoise

Back in the day, I was a big proponent of working in cafés. I thrive with some ambient chatter of conversation and the musicality of the quiet industry of a coffee bar.

Absent that, I’d been searching for some ambient noise or beautiful looping music source to soundtrack my hustle and creativity. This is the leaps-and-bounds solution. Stéphane Pigeon is the masterful creator of all the sounds and loops, and has quickly become the reliable usher to my muse.

You can select from dozens of different sounds — from acoustic to nature, from electric to chanting. And each sound can be adjusted via the sliding dials (pictured above). The soundscapes are like a caffeine boost and microdose for my creativity and productivity.

✍️ Lose the Very

As a writer, I find varying stages of prowess in my process. Sometimes, my writing flows, the just-right words bloom in front of me, the strongest, most crystalline utterance bodies forth. Other times, not so much: I’ll struggle to find the right word, or a bland word just stands in the front row doing the Arsenio Hall fist pump at me.

When that happens, it’s good to have some tools. A thesaurus is one. Lose the Very is another. Basic premise: using the word “very” in writing is lazy. There’s always a stronger option. This quick resource jogs the mind through some options.

🚀 100 Tips for a Better Life

I love a good list of advice. I create them now and again. And I mine new ones for gold. This one came out in December from LessWrong, a “community dedicated to improving our reasoning and decision-making.” Some items I particularly enjoyed:

On the Marie Kondo track:

4. “Where is the good knife?” If you’re looking for your good X, you have bad Xs. Throw those out. 

A simple kitchen cheat sheet:

9. Steeping minutes: Green at 3, black at 4, herbal at 5. Good tea is that simple! 

Elegant productivity solution:

19. Reward yourself after completing challenges, even badly.

Counter-intuitive guidance:

37. Foolish people are right about most things. Endeavor to not let the opinions of foolish people automatically discredit those opinions.

Things Will Smith might have said:

46. Things that aren’t your fault can still be your responsibility.

Things a Stoic might have said:

50. Remember that you are dying.

Something Hans Rosling might have written:

100. Bad things happen dramatically (a pandemic). Good things happen gradually (malaria deaths dropping annually) and don’t feel like ‘news’. Endeavor to keep track of the good things to avoid an inaccurate and dismal view of the world.

Stay tuned for my own version of this list of 100 in March.

💭 Quote I’m Pondering

From James Baldwin, Letter From a Region in My Mind. The entirety of this timeless piece — published almost fifty years ago in 1962 — is worth reading and re-exploring.

If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world.

🗞️ Better Explained

I loved maths as a kid, but I wasn’t a math kid. I loved the quantitative aspects of the MBA curriculum I went through, but I’m not a finance guy. I love learning continuously about concepts that fuel the left side of my brain, but I am mostly a right brain kind of person. So, when I found Better Explained, both sides of my brain got lit up.

It’s a resource where complex concepts and otherwise remote knowledge (for me) get “better explained” via circuitous routes that better map the territory. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to stretch their left-brain muscles.

🏚️ Weekly Review and System Cleanse

As a fledgling member of this Creator Economy, my daily enterprise consists of reading, researching and otherwise processing a great deal of information and resources. Whether it’s new no-code opportunities or guidance on editing or just dozens of articles I’m reading, my various inboxes get full quickly. It can be overwhelming.

Enter Tiago Forte’s Weekly Review. I sourced his review process and updated it with my own elements. This has been a game-changer, so I’ve got to share it. (Also, sharing it here as a reminder / accountability-hack to do it more often.)

The gist is this. Carve 20 minutes on Fridays to process, task out, and clear out all of the following systems:

  1. Email Inbox

  2. Downloads and/or Desktop folder on computer

  3. Evernote / Roam / Notion inboxes (this is where I port all research, reading, and resources, including highlights from read articles)

From there, take 10 minutes to brainstorm tasks for the coming weeks. Do this by assessing the above systems. Also, look through past and future calendar events to discern next courses of action. Plot the tasks for the coming week.

My added twist is a quick 10-minute journaling exercise, known as “I, We, It.” It’s quite simple.

  1. For “I”: I think about my interior condition, how I showed up this week, my successes, mindsets, and internal challenges.

  2. For “We”: I think about my people and communities, how I showed up for my family, peers, networks.

  3. For “It”: I think about my projects and the work I am a part of, my impact, the challenges.

The end of week becomes a system refresh, and the journaling exercise helps to orient me back to the elements of my beginning-of-the-year visioning and intentions (which I wrote about here).

📜 How a Young Activist is Helping Pope Francis Battle Climate Change

This New Yorker profile of Molly Burhans, founder of GoodLands, documents this activist’s journey into the Catholic Church. Her mission: to convince the powers-that-be to take land stewardship and sustainability to the next level.

Through her research, she found that the Holy See is one of the largest landowners in the world, with over 200 million acres across parishes, dioceses, cathedrals, forests, and farms. Because of this, the Church is uniquely positioned to address climate issues directly both through better land management principles and through protection of populations most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change.

And with Pope Francis championing the climate vision via his “Laudato Si’” — an encyclical on reckless consumerism, ecological degradation, and global warming — the moment for supercharging the mission is now. It’s an inspiring change-making story worth the read.

Thanks for reading. Hope you found some helpful bits in here.