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The best book I read in 2020

I’ve delayed writing and publishing this. It seems rather shallow to talk about the best books we’ve read last year given the circumstances in the country.

This morning I listened to an episode of NPR’s Embedded entitled, January 6: Inside The Capitol Siege. They played tape from several people covering varying aspects of what happened at the Capitol two weeks ago. Multiple journalists from separate publications working together to give their accounts. That’s when it hit me. We as a collective group have experienced possibly the most traumatic event in our living history as Americans. As individuals our experiences and reactions and ways to deal with it are all distinct.

We all cope with things differently.

Talking about books seems a bit… frivolous. But maybe digging a little more into books, for some of us, is what brings us together by sharing ideas and stories. Could it be a trashy novel helps our brain escape and take a much needed break from the very serious state of the world? With that rest, we can come out stronger. Like great art, perhaps a book helps us see a perspective we had never considered before. They help clarify ideas that weren’t quite as solid as before reading a certain passage or chapter.

I tend to be a non-fiction reader and recommender. In 2020, the most important book I read was Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. This is one of those books that I think every single person should read. Yes, it’s well written and compelling. But what’s more important is the thread Ms. Wilkerson unspools from before the founding of America to modern history to today. Seriously read (or listen to) this book!

Here are some other recommendations that I received when I put out the call:

Remorseless by Beth Fisher

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

Designing Your Life and/or Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett

Apologies that Never Came by Pierre Alex Jeanty 

Zonal Marking by Michael W. Cox

The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway

Thank you for sharing these suggestions. I’ve added them to my reading list and already bought at least one of them.

To quote my favorite television president, What’s next?


“It’s not the violence of the few that scares me, it’s the silence of the many.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

3 random things

  1. How much do you know about opossums? I know this might seem kind of odd at first but check out this PBS video made by a wildlife filmmaker Alex Goetz. (It’s only 3m 16s. You can make the time.)

  2. The words we use have a very powerful effect on us. I read How a Password Changed My Life several years ago. In 2015 I implemented my own version of the concept which was the impetus of a 100 pound weight loss journey for me that year.

  3. have you check out Window-Swap.com lately? It gives a random glimpse out someone’s window around the world. In August I stumbled onto a view of badgers eating in the evening in Halesowen, England. Yes, seriously! If you have an unused webcam lying around, I think you can sign up to give someone a look outside of your window if you’re so inclined.

CSAs and helpful sites

Late last year I signed up to split a CSA share with a friend. Every other week I pick up a box of organic produce from a local farmer. It’s super cool however, I find myself struggling with ideas of what to cook.

This is what led me to my favorite site/app of the moment, SuperCook. I mark what food items I currently have at home, it scours recipe sites to show me what I can make. I’m totally digging it.

It reminds me of Make Me A Cocktail which got crazy traffic when self-quarantining first became a thing this past March.


CSA 2020-07-25.jpeg

Who gets blamed for our crises?

This is such a thought provoking opinion piece from Kenan Malik in the Guardian. There are so many great quotable parts. Below are three that resonated with me the most.

At every point, the government has insisted that people must “blame themselves”.

The aim of social policy should be to restore to people that freedom to be able to make reasonable choices.

The “culture of poverty” thesis should remind us that racism and contempt for poor and working-class people have common roots. To challenge the one, we also have to challenge the other.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/02/illness-obesity-racism-who-gets-blamed-for-our-crises-the-poor-of-course

Functional metals

Copper, silver, and brasses have anti-microbial properties.

Knobs for doors were traditionally brass or copper. This is why push plates on doors are oftentimes brass.

US coins used to have a top layer of copper or silver. From true silver dollars to copper half-pennies, the coins finish protected people from passing germs.

These metals have an ability to kill a wide range of harmful microbes rapidly, many times in under two hours and with a high degree of efficiency.

On copper, Influenza A will be reduced by 75% in an hour. It will be 99.999% reduced after six hours. E. coli microbes are killed after 1–2 hours on copper. On stainless steel surfaces, the microbes can survive for weeks.

Is this why silverware used to be silver plated? Maybe there’s a reason your Moscow mule is in a copper mug.

Those copper pots and silver wares you have are more than just pretty. They serve a multi-functional role too.


Nutritarian Vegan Fruit Oatmeal

I’ve been making this recipe multiple times a week in one form or another for several months. This is my favorite iteration after several refinements. This recipe it can be modified in many ways. I served it to a group and no one missed the dairy or sugar at all. The added fruit brings natural sweetness.



Nutritarian Fruit Oatmeal

Nutritarian Vegan Fruit Oatmeal

A health filled start to your day!

DIRECTIONS

1. In a baking dish, mix the oats, vanilla, and cinnamon.

2. Add chopped walnuts, chia seeds, ground flax seed, and black seeds and mix to evenly distribute.

3. Next pour the water over the mixture and stir.

4. Stir in the blueberries, chopped apples and dried fruit.

5. Bake at 350º for about 45 minutes.

6. Serve.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups water

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup blueberries or mixed berries (fresh or frozen)

4 apples, peeled, cored and diced

4 tbsp chopped walnuts

2 tbsp ground flax seed

2 tbsp chia seed

1 tbsp black seeds (Nigella sativa) – optional

1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)

NUTRITION

Serves 4

1 serving, 406 Calories, 9.4 g Protein, 73.2 g Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber 15g, 11 g Total Fat, 9 mg Sodium, Calcium 98mg, Iron 5mgPotassium 477mg

There are lots of healthy elements to this recipe that help start your day right. Blueberries and apples provide some of the vitamins, nutrition and fiber our bodies crave. The nuts and seed provide healthy fats and sustained energy. Cinnamon has been noted to help boost metabolism as well as blood sugar regulation.

One of the things I enjoy about this recipe is it’s versatility. In the past, I’ve subbed in muesli for oats. Oftentimes I leave out the raisins to reduce the sugar content. The apples have been optional for me because they take the most time to prep. I’ve cut this recipe in half and made it on the stove in a sauce pan. This is a filling, stick with you oatmeal recipe. I tend to make the baked version on the weekend so I have a few ready made meals at the beginning of the week. (If I can stop snacking on it.) Plus baking it allows me to use an awesome earthenware baking dish that gives me warm vibes in the wintertime.

If you try it, please let me know what you think.

Using a Coach to Improve Your Life

Funny, I was talking about this at lunch today with one of my business partners and then I stumble upon this from The Good Men Project.

“If you look at people who are the best at what they do, whether it’s athletes, artists, or business people, they all get coaching in one form or another.”

This article breaks down some recommendations on next steps.

  1. Decide what you want to be coached on.
  2. Choose a goal you want to head towards.
  3. Create a plan of action.
  4. Execute the plan.

Quite possibly the most important part would be a fifth step. Regularly evaluate your progress (but not too often) and adjust as needed.