Monday, October 20, 2014

Failsafes

No big life lessons here, just a few things that lift my spirits and revive my sense of wonder. It's never a bad time to be reminded that people (and the things we make) are awesome, and that we live on/with an ornately fabulous planet, right?

Never underestimate the power of going for a walk. Don't forget to look around, the details in the everyday can be the most surprising. As Ed Hutchins once said, "nothing never happens".

Travel. I especially recommend Oaxaca, Mexico for it's astounding botanical, cultural, ethnic, and culinary diversity. When you can't travel you can explore the world vicariously with Fun for Louis (on youtube).

For a master course in the wonder of the everyday (with a focus on the built environment), listen to 99% Invisible. For a similarly masterful treatment of everyday humanity, try 'Death, Sex, and Money'. These podcasts have managed to make my commute something I look forward to.

If you are the kind of person who can read while traveling (unlike me) and you love great science writing (like me), here are some books I love and revisit: Bonk -- Mary Roach, The Ghost Map -- Steven Johnson, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks -- Rebecca Skloot, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat -- Oliver Sacks. I also LOVE The History of the World in 100 Objects by director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor -- it has short chapters, great pictures, and I learned so much. Who knew that the Vikings had trading posts in Iran!?!

Making things yourself is another great invigorator. I like to paint, but cooking/eating is what I do (and think about) every day. Here are some delicious, simple, seasonal favorites: delicata squash (it tastes like candy! you can eat the skin!), Marcella Hazan's Chickpea soup (4 cheap ingredients, vegan, deeply warming and hearty), and pickled beets (a great entry-level pickling project, try roasting first for extra sweetness).

Last, a potpourri of click-ables that reliably lift me out of low points: The Secret of Kells, Brene Brown's first TED talk, Paul Simon's Concert in the Park (1991), Talking Heads (Sand in the Vaseline), Allen Toussaint (Songbook), The National (Boxer, Trouble Will Find Me), Cat Power (Jukebox), Solange (True), Flight of the Conchords ('I'm not crying', 'Feel Inside'), bzzzpeekDOTcom (kids from around the world answer questions like 'what does a frog say?'), thingsfittingperfectlyintothings.tumblr.

Jordan
Chicago

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