Sara Letourneau – Writer

Sara Letourneau is a writer who lives in Massachusetts. She’s a published poet and is currently working on the first draft of a fantasy novel. She also writes tea reviews for A Bibliophile’s Reverie and articles on the craft of writing at Grub Street’s blog. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books. It always surprises me how many fantasy readers haven’t heard of this series. And though it’s not as well-known as the worlds of Middle-Earth, Narnia, and Hogwarts, it deserves a place on the shelf with them. LeGuin’s Earthsea series combines magic, conflict, and (in some stories) the presence of dragons with the rustic, simplistic lifestyles of its native peoples and a pursuit of harmonic balance comparable to Taoism. In other words, it contains elements that will feel familiar to fantasy readers while offering something unique to the genre. I love that aspect of the series as well as LeGuin’s writing style, which is concise, lyrical, and powerfully evocative.

 

Allan G. Hunter’s The Path Of Synchronicity. I read this book about 2 years ago when I was going through a period of situational depression. Not only did it introduce me to the concept of synchronicity (the coincidental occurrence of seemingly unrelated events), but it inspired me to make positive changes in my life so I could lift myself to a better, happier place. Hunter also handles the discussion of synchronicity with great care. He writes with the understanding that some readers may be learning about the topic for the first time, and presents examples from literature and real life to support his ideas. If you’re interested in self-help / spirituality books, I highly recommend this as well as Hunter’s most recent work, Gratitude and Beyond: Five Insights for a Fulfilled Life.

 

Susan G. Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy and Judy Reeves’ A Writer’s Book Of Days. These are my two favorite writing prompt books of all time, and for different reasons. In Poemcrazy, poet and writing instructor Wooldridge offers prompts, strategies, meditations, and stories from her workshops and personal life. It’s also beautiful to read; the fluid, engaging prose allows the reader to feel Wooldridge’s unbridled joy for poetry. A Writer’s Book Of Days is a treasure chest of inspiration. Prompts for every day of the year, a wide variety of exercises to flex the writing muscles, quotes from and amusing facts about famous authors – Reeves packs so much into this book that it’s hard not to learn or be spurred by something new every time you open it.

Good things to watch.

I rarely watch TV, but I discovered Orphan Black earlier this year. Wow!! Science fiction, drama, comedy, and horror mashed together to tell the story of a group of female clones who come together to fend off a biogenetics corporation clamoring for the secrets of their creation – secrets that the clones themselves are trying to figure out. How’s that for a cool and original premise? The acting on Orphan Black is incredible, too. Tatiana Maslany plays all five clones – yes, five different characters, each with their own personality and voice / accent. Her talent knows no bounds, and I hope Orphan Black can be a launching pad for an increasingly exciting career for her.

The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy and the Harry Potter film series. Can you tell I’m a fan of fantasy? (laughs) I don’t know how to concisely describe how much I love both series other than by saying they’re the only films that I a) revisit on a consistent basis, and b) immerse myself in completely each time I watch then, no matter how many times I’ve watched them before. Great acting, stunning visual effects, and – above all – wonderful storytelling.

Househunters on HGTV. I’d religiously watch this show with my mom when I still lived with my parents after graduating from college. I loved guessing which property the prospective buyer(s) would pick in the end (and seeing if I was correct!). Once I started condo-shopping, I realized the show’s educational value. It taught me to use a realistic approach that balanced budget with my wants and needs – and to pay attention to that “falling in love with the right place” feeling when it hits!

Good things to use.

Teavana’s Copper Tea Tumbler. If you drink loose-leaf tea and want to take it on the go, this product’s for you. It’s easy to use, functional, and sleekly design. The stainless steel interior keeps your tea hot (or cold, depending on how you prepare it) for several hours, but the heat / coldness never transfers to the exterior. I take this tumbler – with tea inside, of course – with me on long car rides or driving vacations.

Pilot® G-2 Retractable Gel Ink pens. Not the prettiest pens on the market, but they write so smoothly and fit so comfortably in your hand. They come in different point sizes, too; I love the ultra-fine point (0.38 mm). This is the only brand of pens I use for journaling or writing by hand when my laptop’s not handy. Nothing else feels right.

A sense of gratitude. Remembering one thing you’re grateful for each day works wonders for your outlook. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for the past couple years. The results have been nothing short of amazing. I view myself and my life in a more positive light, and I have more hope and confidence about the future now than I’d had at any other time in my life.

Connect with Sara at her websiteFacebook, or Twitter, (@SaraL_Writer).

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Claire Diaz-Ortiz – Writer

Claire Diaz-Ortiz is a public speaker and author of Twitter for Good. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Rework. An amazing book on rethinking how we think work. Think short, sweet, smart.

Fascinate. Do you want to fascinate others? You should. Otherwise you’re, well, boring. This book tells you how to be the awesomesauce you want to be.

Thrive. It’s not just about thriving in business, it’s about thriving in life. Arianna Huffington shows you how.

Good things to watch.

The Killing! Tv at its most golden (and dark… and rainy…).

Fargo. Once you get past the fact that this tv series is still not set in North Dakota, of course.

House Hunters International. Because every real estate maven (that’s me!) needs a good 12-hour HGTV marathon.

Good things to use.

The Oral-B Professional Care 1000: The best electric toothbrush. Hands down. And if you don’t yet use an electric toothbrush, we need to have a sit down.

Baby Connect. The best app for new mamas (and papas). ignore the others. Get this and track away.

A pencil. For filling out the NY Times crossword puzzle, that is. (except Sundays, because those are only for crazy people).

Connect with Claire on Twitter, @Claire.

Lauren Bowling – Financial Blogger

Lauren Bowling is the financial blogger at L Bee and The Money Tree where she lifts the curtain of taboo about personal finances. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Relic. The first of the Agent Pendergast novels by famed authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, I’ve been a fan of their books for many years. Since Relic is the first it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for a series of “grown up” novels to get into. The subject matter is pithy and often science based, so in addition to being entertained, you’ll learn a lot as well.

Gone Girl. This book was a bestseller since it came out in 2012, but with the movie (starring Ben Affleck) coming out in theaters in October, I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about. I literally couldn’t put it down, and I never say that about a book. In addition to being a “thriller” it also highlights a lot of things about long term relationships that I thought were interesting.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Dang. This book is cool. Relying heavily upon research the author, Brigid Schulte, examines why the American culture is so obsessed with “doing it all.” Definitely recommend this read for people who feel guilty about having “me” time or are looking for ways to scale back.

Good things to watch.

Thirtysomething.  This show dates back to the late 80’s/early 90’s and chronicles the tales of a group of friends in their –you guessed it!- early thirties. While I’m not quite into my thirties yet a lot of the issues around friendship, work, family and life in general are still relevant today. I was surprised by how timeless the themes in this show are. Available on DVD or Amazon Instant.

Moonrise Kingdom. My boyfriend is a big Wes Anderson fan, and he’s been getting me into the films. So far, Moonrise Kingdom is my favorite. Although it has all of Anderson’s favorite actors making cameos (Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, etc.) the movie surrounds a pair of star-crossed pre-teens and their search for love and acceptance.

Orange is the New Black. Netflix is killing it with the dramas they offer to viewers. OITNB seems like everyone’s new favorite obsession, and it is the writing and acting that make it so superb. If you haven’t watched it yet, you are missing out!

Good things to use.

A List of Things You’re Thankful For. I’ve been having a rough time of it lately between the death of my dog and a falling out with a family member. When I’ve felt sad or overwhelmed, I embarked on a gratitude project, where I list three things I’m thankful for each day. It keeps things in perspective and instantly lightens my mood. It really works!

A Net Worth Tracker. I still have a budget and track my expenses monthly, like every good financial steward should do :)  BUT I set a large “net worth” goal for the year, and track my debts and assets quarterly to ensure that even if I miss the smaller targets, I’m still hitting my bigger goals in the long run. This is a great way to stay focused, and get motivated by the progress. I offer the one I made in excel to my email subscribers, and CNN has a great net worth calculator as well.

TheSkimm. It is a completely free newsletter sent your inbox every morning that breaks down all of the highlights from the last 24 hours of news so you can be abreast of everything that is happening in the world. I love this because it enables me to speak comfortably and confidently about current events, even though I only read the “highlights” from the newsletter. It makes my day easier, better, and makes me sound like a “grown up.”

Connect with Lauren on Twitter, @LBeeMoneyTree.

 

Gabe Weatherhead – Writer, Podcaster

Gabe Weatherhead writes about Mac and iOS at Macdrifter.com and co-hosts the Technical Difficulties podcast. These are his good things

Good things to read.

I’ve been on a classic sci-fi tear lately. I wasted my youth on reading technical books when I could have wasted it on reading science fiction so I’m making up for lost time.

As with any prolific writer, the works of Asimov and Philip K. Dick are variable in quality and theme. As stand-alone works I’d recommend Asimov’s The End of Eternity and Dick’s Ubik. In a way, they both deal with the facets of reality we take for granted and do it in interesting ways.

I find it fascinating to read these old novels in the context of our modern lives. The contrasts between the culture of the 50’s and 60’s versus our own lives in 2014 are sometimes striking. Often it’s the banal differences like those between gender and racial norms that are the most disturbing.

I also enjoy modern science fiction and Influx by Daniel Suarez is an excellent contrast to Asimov’s vision of the future. Suarez constructs his world based on modern events like the Snowden revelations but forecasts a not-so-distant future that is both believable and surprising.

Good things to watch.

The Avatar animated series is my top pick for television. The story telling is an incredible mix of humor and humanity. I’ve watched this entire sequence several times with my daughter and the characters hold a special place for us. It’s wonderful story telling.

I’m a big Miyazaki nerd and there’s no way I can pick a favorite movie. I love everything he’s made but Castle in The Sky is a bit less well known but also fun story with plenty of interesting plot changes. The characters are endearing and varied but also suitable to watch with a young child.

Porco Rosso is another less-known Miyazaki film. It’s worth the running time just to hear the English dub with Michael Keaton as a pig-man. This is a bit of a weird one and will test your ability to suspend reality. You’ll also need to be OK with not getting a complete resolution to all of the major plot points. Kind of like real life.

Good things to use.

I purchased the Field Notes Wallet when it first came out. It was an experiment of moving away from an everyday carry kind of wallet to a purposeful notebook that also carries my ID and credit card. The experiment was a terrific success and I love the wallet. It conveniently holds a Field Notes pad and a small pen but also has enough pockets to carry some money and a couple of key plastic cards.

I’m not sure I can even list all of the reasons I love my Synology NAS. But the simple fact that I can use it as my own private photo service is pretty awesome. This NAS continues to provide new value every month I’ve owned it and It’s one of the few pieces of hardware that I’ve never regretted a single dollar I spent on it.

If you need to collaborate with anyone, I don’t think there is a better platform than Slack. I’ve written an ode to Slack and it continues to delight me everyday. I collaborate with seven different groups of people and share code, images and files through the various platforms they support.

Connect with Gabe on Twitter, @Macdrifter.

Patrick Welker – Engineer/Writer

Patrick Welker was an audio-engineer, is now a student, and writes about technology at RocketInk.  These are his good things.

Good things to read.

My first pick is Rumo: And His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers. Moers is a the German fantasy author who build his own micro-cosmos – a world called Zamonia which is the place of action in all of his books. He’s also one of the authors who likes his anonymity – I never have seen a picture of him, only the illustrations he draws himself and which are part of all his books. Moers is great at inventing odd characters and creatures. Although all his work is outstanding I choose Rumo because the story has some morbid scenes (which his other books don’t have). It was also my first Moers book. So I have kind of an emotional connection with it. If I’d have to name one thing that I took from it, I’d say it is to “stay hungry”. If I don’t consume too much of the worlds excess supply of anything, I’m in alert mode and can focus on being more productive.

The second book I will add this my little list here is again from a German author: Herrmann Hesse’s Steppenwolf. It appeals to me when the hero of a novel is a loner and all washed-up. The first time I read this book was in my “Sturm und Drang” period. Gladly it aged well and still is a great read. Parental advisory: this book contains social criticism and personality analysis.

Door number three: The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. I can’t read this book without feeling lost… which is no wonder since one of the main themes of it is escapism. But it’s not the only theme; there are a variety of themes Mann was able to integrate into his novel. It’s like he put all the new inventions and discoveries the early 20th century brought and wrote a ship in a bottle containing all the essentials of that time.

Good things to watch.

Despite having a solid line-up of German authors, I don’t enjoy the German movie landscape that much. In short, I’ll spare you. No German movie recommendations from me.

A movie I can watch over and over is The Big Lebowski by the Coen brothers.

I also watch a lot of anime and cartoons. A TV series I did not expect to be good at all turned out to impress me in the most positive way: Avatar: The Last Airbender. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole ride.

My last pick for the realm of moving pictures is Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Not a movie for everybody. I had to stop the movie in the middle when watching it with my dad who questioned me all the time if there will happen anything at all in this flick. Whatever. If you’re okay with an semi-artificial world filtered through the lens of Mr. Anderson you might enjoy it, too. I love Bill Murray in this movie, the soundtrack is brilliant and the colorful kind of bizarre the director captured on celluloid.

Good things to use.

In the year 2010 I already was a non-smoker for 5 years (after 11 years of smoking). Anyway, I missed several things: rituals and blowing clouds. I took another couple of years before I arrived at the perfect vaping device: Reo’s Mods. The simplicity of the mod reminds me of Apple devices and the flavor you get out of this bottom-feeder is outstanding. If you’re a vaper and haven’t tried a Reo, you’re missing out on something. … and if you don’t mix your own eJuices I can recommend Mad Murdock’s liquids.

Another discovery which brought me much joy came to me in the shape of a shoe: the Nike Free 3.0. Currently it’s not available anymore and has been replaced by the Flyknit version. It’s the lightest shoe that I own and it is super comfortable. I even wear them at home and probably could even wear them while sleeping, too.

I was going to write “an iPhone” because it’s the pocket computer which can do everything and is always with me…. But, I’m going with a Synology NAS for my last pick. The OS it ships with is easy to navigate, I own the DS412+ which comes with 4-bays for enough storage to keep your digital life organized at available everywhere. If you’re the geeky type of fellow you can run all your bash scripts on it, too.

Connect with Patrick on Twitter @_PatrickWelker.

Joanna Castle Miller – Writer and Producer

Joanna Castle Miller is a DC-based playwright and producer whose work has appeared on NBC, VH1, Food Network, and E! Entertainment. She is the founder of Wait Don’t Leave Productions and is currently writing a collection of monologues for women. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Modern plays are a very quick read for the amount of storytelling you get. You can easily finish a whole play in a night, or over the course of a few rides on the train to work. Some of my favorites are laugh-out-loud funny. Try starting out with one of these: Theresa Rebeck’s Complete Plays (vol. 1 onward), Christopher Durang Explains It All for You, or David Ives’ All in the Timing.

I love returning to Pulitzer Prize Feature Writing winners. About once a year, I re-read “Fatal Distraction,” Gene Weingarten’s winning piece from 2010, as a powerful reminder that nothing is ever what it seems and that empathy matters.

Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (10th Anniversary Edition). I saw another writer on this site recently recommended this book. Great minds read alike? It’s an inspiring and down-to-earth memoir about writing, overcoming obstacles, and finding peace in your creative pursuits.

Good things to watch.

Live theater is the perfect conversation starter and makes for a killer date night or even family night out. It is unpredictable, exciting, and never exactly the same experience. Many theaters offer discounts for seniors, students, and 20-somethings. You can also look for pay-what-you-can (PWYC) performances, preview shows, and discounts online through sites like Goldstar. If you have kids, check out your area’s community theaters and children’s theaters for age-appropriate programming.

Ken Burns’ New York. This documentary covers the scope of American history through the microcosm of New York. I come back to it regularly because of its insight on immigration, urbanization, and political power. The story of the Big Apple is ever-relevant to America at large, and serves to prove history does in fact repeat itself.

Russell Foster – Why Do We Sleep? If you’re like me, you probably forget all the time how much sleep matters. I often don’t realize that whatever I’m going through is directly related to how much sleep I got the night before. Russell Foster realizes it, though, and his Ted Talk just might convince you to change your bedtime.

Good things to use.

A sunlamp. I suffer from acute seasonal affective disorder, and every winter I depend on sunlamps at home and work to help me get through the dark days. If you get the winter blues, light therapy may be able to help you as well. Use it properly, though, or you could get headaches and insomnia. Dr. Norman Rosenthal has a lot of great info on this subject.

Dyson Vacuum Cleaner. Investing in a Dyson was one of the best decisions of my life, after choosing to marry my husband and maybe deciding to grow my own basil. If you have a pet, get a Dyson. If you are hairy, get a Dyson. If both are true for you, get the equivalent of what we have: the DC65 Animal.

Vitamix. Another hefty investment, the Vitamix is a blender for the ages. It puts the pro in food processor. Ours was handed down to us, because they last forever. We use it to make healthy green shakes in the morning, hummus in the afternoon, pesto in the evening, and frosties for dessert.

Connect with Joanna on Twitter @jocastlemiller.

Jeet Banerjee – Entrepreneur

Jeet Banerjee is a serial entrepreneur, having started StatFuse and Visionary Media Group. He’s also given a TEDx Talk. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Millionaire Fastlane, MJ DeMarco.

Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki.

TechCrunch.com every morning.

Good things to watch.

Shark Tank.

The Wolf of Wall Street.

Rounders.

Good things to use.

HootSuite.com. Simplifies my social media life by making it easy for me to manage the multiple accounts I have.

Wunderlist. Reminder style app that allows you to create lists, organize priorities and get stuff done efficiently.

My Fitness Pal. Keeps me healthy and in-shape by giving me in-depth analysis on the food I eat.

Connect with Jeet on Twitter, @TheJeetBanerjee.

Chris O’Byrne – President of JETLAUNCH

Chris O’Byrne is the president of JETLAUNCH, where his team provides self-publishing services for all writers, especially solo entrepreneurs, coaches, and creative giants. These are his good things

Good things to read.

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness is my latest favorite book. Read it twice—it might change your life.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of those books that did change my life. (Okay, every book has changed my life in some way. And as long as we’re getting picky, every thought or event has changed my life. But some books have made a huge impact in my life and ZAMM is one of those.) My first time through this book I had trouble finishing it. I was in my 20s and my thinking ability was rudimentary compared to what it would be even 10 years later. The second time I read this book I was in my mid-30s, and I received far more from it. In fact, I read it again just a year or so later and received even more. I don’t know how to explain what was so impactful about this book other than to say it opened up my mind in ways that kept it forever open and changing.

Even if you are not Christian or even religious, The Holy Bible has amazing advice on how to live. If you’re looking for solid business advice or even advice on how to live every day, start with Proverbs. If you want your life changed forever, read the Gospels.

Good things to watch.

What Dreams May Come still makes me cry every time I watch it.

The Matrix blew me away and opened up my mind a bit more.

The Big Lebowski makes me laugh and think at the same time.

Good things to use.

Evernote stores everything for me. My brain is infinitely leaner without all of the information cluttering it that I can now quickly and easily access in Evernote via my laptop or my phone. If you want to get as much out of Evernote as possible, I highly recommend Evernote Essentials by Brett Kelly.

I have tried multiple task managers and Trello has proven to be the most useful by far. I love the visual aspect of Kanban and even bought the book, Personal Kanban, to help get even more out of it. I have several boards for various aspects of my life. My main work board has columns (called “lists”) for On Hold, Ideas, Backlog, Ready, Doing, Done, and Archive. Once a week I move the cards in my Done list into Archive. This gives me an feel for how much work I got done the past week and which tasks needed more attention.

I have used my French press mug from Planetary Design for over six years, and I literally use it every single day. I have an older model that holds 16 ounces, and one mug is usually enough for the whole day. It’s incredibly easy to use and makes delicious coffee every time. Unless I use Folgers, which I do frequently because it helps me to appreciate amazing coffee even more. The most amazing coffee I’ve ever had is by Sightglass Coffee.

Connect with Chris on Twitter, @JetlaunchLLC.

Yuvi Zalkow – Author

Yuvi Zalkow is the author of A Brilliant Novel in the Works, the Failed Writer video series, and the host of Neurotic Tornado, a podcast series where Yuvi talks about “married life, emotional issues, creativity, writing, or whatever is worrying me that day.” These are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham. I love this novel. I love this storyteller. I don’t hear people talk about Maugham so much lately. Then again, I don’t get out so much lately. The book starts like this: “I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.” How could you not love him after that?

The Night, and the Rain, and the River. Full disclosure: I should tell you that I know the publisher and I know the editor and I know a few of the writers. But it is a hell of a good book with some wonderful stories in it. And I think that Laura Stanfill at Forest Avenue Press is an amazing bad ass with an amazing mission. Oh. While we’re disclosing things here — I should also tell you that I submitted a story to this collection that was ill-suited for this collection. And I got rejected. Did it bother me? Hell yes. (Though I won’t admit it to anyone. Not even you.) It is a lovely book. Buy it. Read it.

The last thing you wrote. Or I just mean that if you do any kind of writing, it is good to read it like a reader. I have a boatload of tricks I use to get into this headspace — read it aloud, get someone else to read it, get the computer to read it, read it to a mirror, read it naked, change the font. Anything. And I should clarify that when I say “the last thing you wrote”, I don’t actually mean I want to read the last thing YOU wrote. I’m sorry to admit it, you probably are a very good writer, but I’m just too worn out these days to read any more than what I’m already reading. Sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.

Good things to watch.

Ira Glass on Storytelling. Every year, I rewatch this set of four short videos from Ira Glass about storytelling. The others are easy to find from there. So much wisdom about storytelling from him. I’m always a sucker for someone using themselves as part of the story of what not to do.

The Wire. Wow, I love that series. It really is worth the hype and all the arrogant chatter from arrogant people about its greatness. I actually didn’t want to like it because I was so tired of people telling me how it was the best show ever. And it took me a few episodes to get into it, I couldn’t keep up with all the characters and all the story lines. And then, when my guard was down, a few episodes into it, I became one of those arrogant assholes chattering about its greatness. I miss Omar Little.

Anything with your partner/spouse/lover/bff/buddy/neighbor/nemesis. My wife and I are in a particularly busy phase right now. Both working more than full time. Two kids. Multiple side projects. We are wiped out at the end of the day. But we try to spend at least one night a week watching a TV show together (usually via Netflix). Some phases we go highbrow (The Wire), some phases we go less highbrow (Buffy), but it is so nice to watch a show (and maybe analyze it a little) with someone you like.

Good things to use.

Public transit. I fucking love public transit. It works nicely in Portland. The light rail is good for writing. Lately, though, my commute involves a bus, and I get carsick (bus-sick) if I write, or even if I read. So I listen to audiobooks (last one was The Golem and the Jinni, thanks to @macdrifter). I sometimes listen to podcasts too. Sometimes I even listen to my OWN podcast  as I’m editing the thing, which is very narcissistic to admit, but I need to edit my arguments with my wife so that they are more digestible to our small and lovely audience.

Gin. I sure do like a gin martini. I love a gin martini. But when I’ve got Hendrick’s Gin, I like it so much that I don’t want to clutter the flavor with the vermouth or the olive, so I drink it straight. Though I try to only drink one or two shots’ worth of it, because I’ll get even dumber-sounding on my podcast after two drinks. And I can’t afford being dumber than usual.

Swim goggles. Not on land. That would be weird. But in a pool. I’ve just taken to swimming. Partly this is because my wife is making me exercise because I’m a miserable asshole when I work all day at my day job and all night at my writing. Sometimes, I’m an asshole even after exercising. But I love swimming in particular because it forces me to disconnect — from people, yes, but especially nice to disconnect from technology. (Please don’t send me info about waterproofing my iPhone — I don’t want to hear it.) It is quiet in there in the water. I can slow down my crazed thinking process. I can step back from the world in motion, though I realize that metaphor breaks down in a lot of ways, like how I’m more in motion in the pool than at my keyboard, or how swimming doesn’t really involve a ‘step’ back. I was never very good with metaphors or similes. They often break on me. Like a snow leopard in heat.

Connect with Yuvi on Twitter, @YuviZalkow.

Carey Morewedge – Professor

Carey Morewedge is an associate professor of marketing in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely. Dan is an engaging writer who explains in simple language many of the judgmental and decision biases that even the brightest of us are subject to all the time. The book describes many fun and engaging experiments that have shed light into the common mistakes we make when making everyday and important judgments and decisions.

Mindwise, by Nicholas Epley. We constantly engage in mind reading. We think about our thoughts, others’ thoughts, and what others think we are thinking. Nick does a great job explaining the research on what kinds of mind reading we do well, and where our glaring blind spots lie.

How to Write a Lot, by Paul Silva. Writing has become a critical part of most professions, and is often a difficult challenge. Paul Silva gives useful tips on how to overcome the writers block that professionals and students often face.

Good things to watch.

Daniel Kahneman’s 2002 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “Maps of Bounded Rationality.”
Kahneman is one of the founders of the study of judgment and decision making. His paper with Amos Tversky in 1979, Prospect Theory, won him the Nobel Prize in Economics and served as the catalyst for what is now referred to as behavioral economics. In his Nobel acceptance speech, Kahneman summarizes his program of research on how we make judgments and decisions, whether mundane or important. The cliff notes version of this speech appears in the September, 2003 issue of American Psychologist, “Mapping Bounded Rationality.”

Louie (FX). Louis CK is one of the most astute modern observers of human behavior, and his show on FX is dark, honest, and deeply psychological. It deals with topics like death and social interaction on a level that is rarely scratched by network or cable television.

Planet Earth ( BBC).  An epic documentary television series that elucidates the natural world by touring 11 different habitats on Earth, from mountains to jungles to seas. The end of each episode explains the lengths that the crew went to in order to capture each shot, which are often even in themselves stunning.

Good things to use.

A passport. Few things teach one more about the world and oneself than traveling somewhere other than where you live. Relationship experts also council that marriages benefit considerably from sharing new experiences. Research also suggests that we take more pleasure in the long run from experiences than from material possessions, and travel is one of the greatest wellsprings of experience.

Mint.com. Although several famous models of neoclassical economics suggest that money is fungible and people should make rational decisions with regards to their earnings, spending, and investments, keeping track of your finances is challenging even for people who study financial decision making. Mint provides helpful tools to get a clear picture of your financial health, allowing for wiser decision making in the present and for the future.

A good mattress. Pricing a mattress is truly an impossible task, but finding a comfortable mattress is one of the best investments you will ever make. You will spend one third of every day on your mattress (more or less). Do you want to spend that time in comfort or in pain?

Connect with Carey on Twitter, @Morewedge.