Book Freak is a weekly newsletter with short pieces of advice from books. Subscribe here.
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Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. Here is advice from his book, The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living.
When life becomes overwhelming stop and reflect
“When life becomes too complicated and we feel overwhelmed, it’s often useful just to stand back and remind ourselves of our overall purpose, our overall goal. When faced with a feeling of stagnation and confusion, it may be helpful to take an hour, an afternoon, or even several days to simply reflect on what it is that will truly bring us happiness, and then reset our priorities on the basis of that. This can put our life back in proper context, allow a fresh perspective, and enable us to see which direction to take.”
Train your mind to be resilient to disturbing events
“Through training, we can change; we can transform ourselves. Within Buddhist practice there are various methods of trying to sustain a calm mind when some disturbing event happens. Through repeated practice of these methods we can get to the point where some disturbance may occur but the negative effects on our mind remain on the surface, like the waves that may ripple on the surface of an ocean but don’t have much effect deep down. And, although my own experience may be very little, I have found this to be true in my own small practice. So, if I receive some tragic news, at that moment I may experience some disturbance within my mind, but it goes very quickly. Or, I may become irritated and develop some anger, but again, it dissipates very quickly. There is no effect on the deeper mind. No hatred. This was achieved through gradual practice; it didn’t happen overnight.“
Begin every new encounter with a positive attitude
“If you approach others with the thought of compassion, that will automatically reduce fear and allow an openness with other people. It creates a positive, friendly atmosphere. With that attitude, you can approach a relationship in which you, yourself, initially create the possibility of receiving affection or a positive response from the other person. And with that attitude, even if the other person is unfriendly or doesn’t respond to you in a positive way, then at least you’ve approached the person with a feeling of openness that gives you a certain flexibility and the freedom to change your approach as needed.”
View your struggles as growth opportunities
“Imagine what it would be like if we went through life never encountering an enemy, or any other obstacles for that matter, if from the cradle to the grave everyone we met pampered us, held us, hand fed us (soft bland food, easy to digest), amused us with funny faces and the occasional ‘goo-goo’ noise. If from infancy we were carried around in a basket (later on, perhaps on a litter), never encountering any challenge, never tested – in short, if everyone continued to treat us like a baby. That might sound good at first. For the first few months of life it might be appropriate. But if it persisted it could only result in one becoming a sort of gelatinous mass, a monstrosity really – with the mental and emotional development of veal. It’s the very struggle of life that makes us who we are. And it is our enemies that test us, provide us with the resistance necessary for growth.”
I really appreciate the positive responses I get whenever I send out a newsletter. And, of course, I love all of the content submissions. If this newsletter is as useful and inspiring as some tell me it is, I’d love to spread the word and get more people inside the tent. Can you help? My pal, Kent Barnes, does a very helpful thing whenever a newsletter is published. He tweets something that he’s learned from it and then links to the newsletter (and my Twitter account). If you did that, too, it’d be a huge help.
Sharpening Spade Bits
It’s easy to sharpen spade bits.
In another useful See Jane Drill video, Leah shows viewers how easy it is to sharpen spade bits with a flat file. This channel is clearly aimed at beginners, but there are often things in the videos that makers of any skill level can benefit from knowing (or being reminded of).
Making Your Own Dupont Connectors
Impact Wrench Dance Off?
Impact wrench head-to-head.
In this recent Project Farm video, Todd compares a $138 Makita XWT11Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless 3-Speed ½” Sq. Drive Impact Wrench to an under-$30 knock-off he dubs Cousin Eddie. Putting them through various speed, endurance, and torture tests (and even a dance-off?), not surprisingly, the Makita smokes Cousin Eddie. But the real surprise is that, for less than 30 bones, Cousin Eddie isn’t half bad and a tool to consider for folks like me who have limited, light-duty needs for such a tool. Todd found Cousin Eddie on eBay.
Easy Paint Identifying
Paint the color on the outside so that you can clearly see it when stored.
Reader urnsbothends writes (in response to my item about hobby/craft paints):
The best paints I use (Golden acrylics) have a spot on the label where paint from that batch and bottle is brushed across a patch of stripes so you can see the color, finish, translucency, texture, etc. You can recreate this with masking tape and Sharpie-ing the initial of the layer type (Base, Undercoat, Highlight, Wash, etc) and then painting a stripe across it, ideally on the part of the bottle that faces out when stored.
Classic Tip Reminder
Oldie but goodie.
Last night, reaching for my WD-40 to lubricate some door hinges, I was reminded of one of the first truly useful tips I employed as a young offset printer. For any spray that uses a plastic “straw” applicator, rubber band the applicator to the can (or YOU WILL lose it). I assume most or all of my readers know this trick, but if not…
Teaching Technological Curiosity to Your Kids
I bumped into this idea on Twitter but can’t remember on whose account. To teach your kids scientific and technological curiosity, when a tool, appliance, toy, etc. breaks, rather than just throwing it out, ask your kids: “Do you want to take it apart and figure out how it works and what might be broken?” You may even be able to fix it, but either way, you’ll all gain a greater knowledge of what’s under the hood of the technology in your life and you’ll give your kids a richer understanding of how things work.
Spotted on the Angry Chef Facebook group.
A key component of creativity is being able to see things outside of their categories – to see things as other things.
A 3M Full Face Respirator.
In response to my query about workshop safety in the COVID-19 era, reader Jeff Powers sent this wonderfully thoughtful and sensible outline of the guidelines used in his shared workshop. It’s long, but I thought I’d share in its entirety. Thanks, Jeff!
We are an architectural workshop/model shop in London and have a similar issue. We luckily have multiple workshop spaces (2 workshops, separate computer areas, a 3D print room, and CNC room). While some of the solutions are specific to our situation, hopefully some of them can help others.
1. Realisation by the team that the workshop is always an inherently risky place, and we should be used to taking precautions when we work anyway. From cleanliness, safe operation, and use of PPE, these habits just become slightly modified for COVID. Taking care and extra time before beginning a task and after it ends – to assess risk, cleanliness etc – is all the more important now, but should not significantly change any workflows. Safe operation is especially important during these times, you never want to go to the hospital with a workshop injury, but especially during these times, extra care should be observed so we don’t put any more unnecessary strain on the health care system.
2. We already use dust masks, nitrile gloves, and have very good mechanical workshop ventilation. We now just wear the PPE more, and all of the extraction is on all the time. And we have proper waste disposal for gloves. You can find services that recycle them properly.
3.On ventilation, here in the UK, we need to test it yearly, both local ventilation and the whole room. I would suggest any shop that can’t open windows for airflow, check their ventilation spec and cross reference against their gov’t authority recommendations. As in the case of all things COVID right now, we are cross-referencing with multiple gov’t guidance – as everyone is suggesting different requirements. We check UK, EU, US, CAN guidance, and ensure we are compliant with our local recommendations – but push for a higher level if possible.
4.We love the 3M respirators. We use them as we frequently paint in a spray room all day. Filters sold separately.
3M 6000 Series Full Face Mask Respirators – I really prefer this one for all-day use. Its fairly light and comfortable for what it is, and has built-in eye protection
5.We have found dust masks with air ventilators to reduce sweating and condensation. They are USB-chargeable and last a few hours before needing recharge. They are great for wearing lighter dust mask – and keeping your face cool(er).
6. Mounted glove/wipe stations – using these racks in entry/exit and near key tool areas.
3-Tiered Rack: you want ones that hold each box separately, not stacked on top of each other.
The racks make it much easier to grab gloves without fiddling with a box, and we can fit a box/package of disposable wipes in one of the box locations.
7. Where 2m distancing not possible – masks on.
8. Shared tools (fixed machines) – Disinfectant wipes are now located next to all fixed machines. Buttons, switches, and surfaces get a wipe before and after use.
9. Shared tools (larger hand power tools) – Disinfecting wipes again. We store them in Festool boxes – and wipes go in each box with the tool.
10. Shared tools (smaller) – For tools that are inexpensive and in multiples, every maker gets their own . For anything else: cleaned down , wiped, and put into a beauticians UV steriliser after use. We also have a Form 3 Cure that we use in a similar way, but it is not rated for it, and we don’t completely trust it. All tools left out go in the sterilizer at the end of the day.
11. Shared keyboards (laser cutters, 3D printers etc) – Wipe before and after each use. Change usage habits . We used to use them by just hopping on and off as needed. But now it means a few people on the laser stations for longer times doing whole cut lists.
We are looking at using keyboard covers and washing them during the day, but haven’t tested it completely.
12. Replacing any button that we can with a brass/copper pad/tape. The virus lasts less time on it than plastic or steel. Check if viable with electrical safety.
13. Shop sinks – Use it more frequently. And not just for pouring your tea down. And no eating in the workshop. Moisturiser is now just as important as soap and sanitizer!
14. Tables, Handles, Drawers etc. – Wipe down before use and at the end of day.
15. Workplace culture and support – Everyone is itching to be making and working – that’s what we love. But also, making sure people feel comfortable to speak up if they feel unwell or unsafe. We have a mutual stop work policy so that we all feel comfortable to stop our own work or someone else’s if we feel it’s unsafe or could be done better.
Also, if team discussions/meetings need to take place, they are limited to small groups, or outside, and kept short.
16. Outside of the workshop – In preparing the safety of our workshop, we realised that other areas/activities of the workplace are WAY riskier than the workshop for COVID. We are in central London, so most people take public transit to work. Kitchens and shared bathrooms are also high-risk vectors. These areas should be considered in the same way as workshop safety.
[Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales is published by Cool Tools Lab. To receive the newsletter a week early, sign up here.]
Time is the most precious commodity. We can’t create more time, so the best we can do is to save it. Through shortcuts and hacks, these websites and apps will help save time in many activities, and it all adds up.
Technology is all about speed, isn’t it? It helps us do things faster, or enables shortcuts that get the more done in less time. The internet is here to help you gain information faster by summarizing books or YouTube videos, or level-up your computer usage by learning keyboard shortcuts. It’s all about saving time and making the best use of it.
1. Sipreads (Web): Free Book Summaries by Real People
Don’t have the time to read a full book, but still want to know its best ideas? Sipreads is a free newsletter by two people who read books and summarize their salient points. Basile Samel and Ali Salah send one new book every week, while you can browse some of the previous summaries on the website.
Sipreads focuses on self-learning books, so you won’t find a summary of the latest Dan Brown novel here. Some of the famous titles already covered include Atomic Habits, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, The Start-up of You, and How to Win Friends and Influence People. Nuggets of personal development wisdom in short time is the goal here.
The summaries are usually seven to ten minute reads. Both Basile and Ali have a concise writing style that turns the book’s major points into something like a Medium article, full of sub-headers and bullet points. And if you find that it works for you, then you can go read the full book. But you’re never left out of the conversation when people start discussing the book.
2. Summarize the Internet (Web): Linguistic AI Summarizes Any Online Article
Writers on the internet often drone on and fluff up their writing with unnecessary words to lengthen the material and make it seem more authoritative, like this sentence. Don Patrick wants to cut the fat and give you an instant summary of any article with his AI extension.
Summarize the Internet isn’t the first extension offering this, but it takes a different approach. Patrick, an amateur language programmer with a deep interest in AI, ditched statistical methods and came up with a combination of word choice, sentence weaving, and story flow. As he explains, the target was for the summarizer to extract what the writer found important, minus what the reader finds unimportant (like introductions, examples, speculation, etc.)
After trying a few of these summary-making extensions, I can say Summarize the Internet is better at drawing out important points than others. Typically, a good article reduces to 50%, while a weak article reduces to 30% of its original length. While the extension’s pop-up pane is open, you can skim the main article in the tab too, in case you want to cross-reference.
3. FizzD (Chrome): Summarize YouTube Videos Into Chapters and Highlights
Someone links you to a long YouTube video. Is it actually interesting or useful? FizzD uses AI to go through the video and summarize it into chapters, highlights, and key concepts, so you can browse a video like it was an article with sub-headers.
Once you install the extension, you’ll see a “Fizz It” button next to the Share and Save buttons under the video. Click it and wait for a minute for FizzD to work its magic. Soon, the video will have a few yellow dots, marking what FizzD thinks are chapters within the long video. Hover over a dot to see the chapter title, and click to jump to it.
In the top-right corner of the video pane, you’ll see two new overlays: Highlights and Key Concepts.
Highlights is a text summary of the main points of the video, but you can’t use them as timestamps. Key Concepts show up as blue dot timestamps, so you can see where one of the main subjects was discussed in different chapters.
FizzD is a fascinating implementation of AI in videos. It doesn’t work with every YouTube video and seems to be at its best in educational videos like TED talks and webinars.
Download: Fizzd for Chrome (Free)
4. Use the Keyboard (Web): Gorgeous Collection of Best Keyboard Shortcuts
Stop reaching for your mouse or trackpad to go from one window to another. Just press Alt+Tab (or Command+Tab) to switch windows. The most amount of time you can save on a computer is by learning keyboard shortcuts like this.
Use the Keyboard (UTK) is a gorgeous collection of keyboard shortcuts for the most-used programs, apps, and websites in 2020. It includes guides for software like Zoom, Slack, Gmail, Notion, Chrome, Netflix, Trello, and a bunch of other offline and online apps that you use on a daily basis.
It’s especially nice that the guide includes web apps because often such keyboard shortcut guides ignore them and you have to rely on browser shortcuts alone.
With one switch, UTK can flip between Windows and macOS shortcuts. You can also check the original reference for any sheet of shortcuts, which usually comes from the developer’s official notes. UTK’s neat and tidy interface is fantastic to look at, and you might want to convert it into PDFs to print.
While UTK serves apps, it doesn’t have shortcuts for operating systems. So make sure you check out our master list of all essential Windows keyboard shortcuts, which you can also download for free.
5. The Skullery and Hurry The Food Up (Web): Quick Recipes Without Fluff
The internet is full of food writers sharing recipes, but there’s always a long preamble, right? The mood they were in, some story about how the recipe was handed down, and all those things you don’t need. These two recipe websites are about cooking quickly without wasting time.
The Skullery simply gives you recipes quickly. No registration, no meandering preambles, it’s all about cooking immediately. Your browser will remember favorites, you can change measures on-the-fly without going to another converter, and you can quickly browse or search for anything. The recipe has step-by-step instructions, which you can cross-off within the browser app too. It just works.
Hurry The Food Up is a vegetarian cooking blog with a time-oriented approach. Speed is key here, with most recipes being under 30 minutes. And yes, that includes both prep time and cook time. Choose your type of diet, time, and meal course to filter the recipes. Hurry The Food Up is also available as an app on Android.
Download: Hurry The Food Up for Android (Free)
Save More Time by Learning to Manage It
These apps are excellent time-saving shortcuts to many of the things you do daily. But technology is only going to go so far in freeing up time for you. If you truly want to squeeze more out of your daily 24 hours, you need to learn time management and set goals.
Read the full article: 5 Time-Saving Websites & Apps for the Best Shortcuts
Our guest this week is Len Cullum. Len is a woodworker living in Seattle, Washington, where he specializes in building Japanese style garden structures, architectural elements, and furniture. A perpetual student of craft, he’s also an occasional teacher and writer of how-to articles.
Stancup Disposable Art Cups ($10, 100pk)
These are small, low walled paper cups that I use while gluing, finishing, holding small parts. I’ve been using them for years, and while I’m not sure I’d call them indispensable, it’s kind of a drag if I run out of them. Anytime I need to control a bunch of little screws or do any sort of glue or finish, they’re just the ideal thing.
Camellia Oil Applicator ($14)
Because all of my chisels and planes are high carbon steel and iron, they are susceptible to rust, it’s important to oil them after sharpening. This goes for some of my hand made kitchen knives too. The go-to for Japanese tools is camellia oil. For years I bought it in small spray or squeeze bottles. They worked okay, but trying to keep sprayed oil from ending up on the wrong thing was always a hassle. A couple of years ago while wandering around Hida Tool in Berkley, I saw this little applicator on the shelf. I’d seen it on the website for years, but never with the top removed. Under the lid is a big felt dauber, and the refillable base is full of oil. It’s like using a sharpie to apply oil. It is so great. More than anything I use it on my kitchen knives.
Trusco T-150 Storage Box ($15)
I first discovered the Tusco toolboxes when I was in Kyoto and wandered into a contractors supply shop. As I looked around I spotted this stack of cardboard boxes with some something blue showing out the ends. I slid one out and in my hand was this beautifully made little blue box. It seemed like something you’d find in your grandfather’s garage, stoutly made, well painted simple, but it was brand new. Figuring it was probably pretty expensive, I put it back, but then noticed the price ¥880 ($8.20). I thought it had to be a mistake, but when I awkwardly asked the shopkeeper, he confirmed it. I couldn’t believe it, so I bought four of them. I use them for random storage and to house all of the driver bits for my drill. You can find them in the states now, but they cost a bit more with shipping. Still totally worth it.
Keyport Slide 3.0 6-Port ($49)
I picked up my first Keyport Slide in I think 2012. I was riding a motorcycle and found the rattle of a key ring to be kind of annoying and cumbersome. I read about the slide and it seemed like a good solution.You push a little button and slide the key forward and it comes out the end, and slide it back in. I haven’t looked back since. I’m on my third one, getting a new one with each iteration, and I’ll never look back. I love it.
We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! If you would like to make a one-time donation, you can do so using this link: https://paypal.me/cooltools.– MF
“Tips My Dad Says” 2020 Edition
I got a lot of great submissions of words o’ wisdom from the father figures in your lives. A lot of them were tried and true, like “Measure twice, cut once,” “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right,” “Don’t force it,” “If you can’t fix it the first time, get a bigger hammer!,” “When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it,” etc.
Here are some of my favorite submissions:
You can’t learn anything with your mouth open.
(I was asking too many questions at the time he told me this. – Randy Sanderson)
Is it complex or merely complicated?
(My Dad would often ask this when analyzing a mechanical system. -Randy Fischer)
Tight is tight. Too tight is loose.
(My Dad always reminded me of this whenever we worked on a project that required tightening a screw or bolt. – Big Mike)
Use the right tool and the tool will do the work.
(From my dad Bruno who was an automotive mechanic and business owner. – Marina Joyce)
Remove the potential energy.
(Said when storing materials. For instance, unlock vise grips before putting them in the toolbox, remove the igniter assembly from the solid rocket booster, that sort of thing. -Randy Fischer)
Always respect the mountain.
(Said at the top of a challenging ski slope, but a saying that applies to much more than skiing. -George Mokray)
It’s easy to make things difficult. It’s difficult to make things easy. -Marty Lang
Don’t put it down, put it away. -Robert George
Think fast and talk slow. Listen, analyze, evaluate, prepare a fallback strategy, then act. -Brain Collins
If you don’t ask, the answer is already no. – Michael Shiloh
Buy the best tools. You’ll only cry once. -Jim Cook
Expanding a Breadboard
Expanding small breadboards is easier than you might think.
Here’s one from my old Make: tips column: This little quick tip on Digicool Things demonstrates how you can easily expand many small breadboards. The type of boards that are clear plastic with a paper backing can be cut (by slicing through the paper) and joined to create the width of board you desire. In the video, he cuts and snaps off a power bus rail on one of two boards and then joins the boards. The remaining power bus on the other board becomes a center trench that ICs can straddle, leaving much more real estate on the expanded board for hooking up components.
Pay No Attention to the Name of that Fancy Paint!
Three shades of olive, never you mind their names!
If you work with craft acrylics or paints formulated for miniature painting (as I do), don’t pay any attention to the colorful product names (Boltgun Metal, Iraqi Sand, Gravedigger Denim). Flip the bottles over and only pay attention to the color seen inside. Some painters even organize their paints by storing them butt-out so that the color values can be seen. If you’re painting something, say in an olive drab, you want to find your undercoat color (a dark olive), basecoat color (a mid-tone olive), and your highlight (a light olive).
Andrew playing with his new toy.
I just invested in a portable bandsaw as a result of watching Adam Savage’s “One Day Build” video on Tested and I have to say that it is a magnificent workflow-alteringly piece of equipment. When I think of how much time this tool could have saved me in the past, I feel like an idiot for not biting the bullet and buying it years ago.
I think that in my case, not investing in tools is almost a form of impostor syndrome. For years, I thought that I didn’t deserve expensive tools because I’m not worthy of them. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve looked at my accomplishments and thought “actually, I am good enough to use this.” And that’s why I’ve started to approach my workspace and my portfolio with much more confidence.
Recreating Serial Number Plates
Andrew playing with his new toy.
This is one that won’t apply to many of us, but it’s a cool trick that I thought bears sharing. It may have applicability elsewhere. On Hand Tool Rescue, Eric needed to replace the metal serial number plate on a 60s Flymo hover-mower that he was restoring. What he did was to hammer the original serial number onto metal foil tape and then print an image of the original label onto clear adhesive and affix that over the tape. Cut it, apply it, and it’s nearly as good-looking as the original (altho I wonder how waterproof it is).
My friend Richard Gould, who works in museum exhibition construction, sent me this call for input:
Many of us are beginning to return to work – or soon will be. It’s a little more challenging, I think, in a shop environment. I was told today that we’d have a “clean desk” policy – given that we have our own desks, and how little time we spend at them, I’m unsure what COVID transmission risk is being addressed here. On the other hand, we have a great deal of shared tools and equipment. We have no direction on how we should keep those safe.
I’d be very interested in what ways that your readers are working safely with COVID in shared shop environments.
[Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales is published by Cool Tools Lab. To receive the newsletter a week early, sign up here.]
Visit Uncrate for the full post.
From The Wall Street Journal – “The borrowers envisioned the sports facilities as a form of economic development that would attract fans from near and far, raising cities’ national profile and boosting their revenue beyond what was needed to pay back the bonds. The pandemic has turned that calculus on its head, crushing tourism proceeds and turning stadiums into a strain on city budgets.”
The lone beneficiaries of sports subsidies are team owners and players. The existence of what economists call the “substitution effect” (in terms of the stadium game, leisure dollars will be spent one way or another whether a stadium exists or not), the dubiousness of the Keynesian multiplier, the offsetting impact of a negative multiplier, the inefficiency of government, and the negatives of higher taxes all argue against government sports subsidies. Indeed, the results of studies on changes in the economy resulting from the presence of stadiums, arenas, and sports teams show no positive economic impact from professional sports – or a possible negative effect.
Unlike a traditional safe, which relies either on keyed mechanisms or a number configuration to open, a biometric safe opens with a simple fingertip. Press the linked finger to a keypad, and the safe springs open. It’s a great choice for items that you need to access in a hurry, or if you are concerned about misplacing keys or forgetting combinations. Here are three factors that will help you make the best choice when buying a biometric safe.
The best biometric safes are backup-plan ready. That means you can open one multiple ways. You can pop one open using the fingerprint reader, manually open with a key or bob, or enter a combination on a keypad. While the fingerprint reader is the primary way to access the inside, having multiple entry options enables access to more than one person if desired.
Placing the correct fingerprint on the reader kick starts the process of opening a safe, but the mechanical devices inside that actually complete the action vary. Some safes are spring operated and open quickly. Others rely on gas struts that dampen the sound of the door opening. Whichever you prefer, it’s important the door opens a full 90 degrees for ease of access.
You’ll likely want to attach a biometric safe firmly to immovable objects like a floor or wall. If so, consider a safe with pre-drilled mounting holes that allow you to fix it to a sturdy surface. Doing so provides an extra measure of security against theft.
Strong combination safes with digital locks make it safer than ever to store your valuables at home or work. The quick-to-access keypads are easy to operate, and you can change the combination whenever you need. Most run on batteries, so you’ll have to switch them regularly. Remember to do it every time you change batteries on your home smoke detectors. There are a few options to weigh when it comes to selecting a digital safe, so think about these three things before you invest.
Before you make your purchase, know exactly what you plan to put in it. Some safes have soft fabric lining to protect fragile items from scratching. Others come with shelves to help organize interior spaces. Before you buy, stack up all the stuff you intend to store in the safe. The volume inside most home safes is about 1.2 cubic feet, which is about the size of a 12-inch-tall stack of paper. If you want to add valuables like jewelry, you may need a larger safe.
Not all safes guard against fire or water, so make sure your choice meets your needs. Fireproof safe ratings indicate how safe the contents inside remain at certain temperatures. A safe rated at 350 degrees can protect paper documents. But if you need to safeguard computer drives, hard disks, or photographic materials, consider a safe that doesn’t exceed 150 degrees. If you’re concerned about floods or water damage, make sure the description of the product you’re considering clearly states it’s waterproof.
A quality safe is heavy, but you might not want to rely on weight to keep a burglar from hauling it off with your contents inside. You can secure some safes to the floor or wall studs with screws or bolts, which adds an extra layer of protection.
With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve decided to republish a classic piece each Friday to help our newer readers discover some of the best, evergreen gems from the past. This article was originally published in July 2012.
As is the generation of leaves, so to of men:
At one time the wind shakes the leaves to the ground
but then the flourishing woods
Gives birth, and the season of spring comes
So it is with the generations of men, which
alternately come forth and pass away.
—Homer, The Illiad, Book Six
If you’ve been following AoM for awhile now, you know that Kate and I love history. I studied classical history in college and Kate actually taught American History and Humanities at a community college here in town. And in running the Art of Manliness for the past five years, we’ve read hundreds of old writings while researching material for our articles and two books.
Through our study and reading, something that we’ve both come to appreciate about history is just how right the author of Ecclesiastes was: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
We are often struck, even sort of tickled, about how much the hopes, observations, and complaints of people decades, even centuries, ago sound just like the hopes, observations, and complaints of modern folks. It’s uncanny sometimes!
It is often said that history repeats itself. But do these repetitions happen at random . . . or is some kind of regular cycle at work?
The Strauss-Howe Generational Theory
All human things are a circle. —Inscription upon the temple at Athens
While modern societies typically see history as a linear movement — either ever improving or declining from a past high — ancient and traditional cultures believed time was cyclical, just like the waxing and waning of the moon, the rising and setting of the sun, the birth and death of living creatures, the planting and harvesting of crops, and the seasons of the year. The idea of sacred time as an eternal round and the symbol of the ring or wheel is common to many faiths, including Buddhism and Hinduism. The Old Testament is in many ways the story of a “pride cycle” with repeating periods of renewal, regression, and repentance. And many ancients couldn’t help but notice that times of war and peace seemed to move in a regular cycle as well.
In the 1990s, William Strauss and Neil Howe published two books, Generations and The Fourth Turning, which set out a bold and fascinating theory: that the generations of history change in a regular cycle, just like the seasons of the year — that the ancients were on to something with their cyclical view of time after all.
Strauss and Howe argue that the last five centuries of Anglo-American history can be explained by the existence of four generational archetypes that repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern every 80-100 years, the length of a long human life, or what the ancients called a “saeculum.” These generational archetypes are: Prophet, Nomad, Hero, and Artist. Each generation consists of those born roughly during a 20-year period. As each generation moves up the ladder of age and takes a different place in society, the mood of the culture greatly changes:
Childhood: 0-20 years old
Young Adulthood: 21-41
Late Elderhood: 84+
A generation reaches it apex of influence when it moves into midlife and begins to take leadership positions of power within society. Thus every 20 years as a new generation fills the midlife rung of the age ladder, and the generation that previously occupied that rung moves into less influential elderhood, the mood of the culture shifts. As each generation type is born, matures, comes to influence in the culture, and then declines and dies, it plays a role in propelling society through a cycle of growth, maturation, entropy, destruction, and then regrowth. Just as in nature, this cycle of death and rebirth is necessary to maintain the health of the ecosystem of society.
Why do the same four generational archetypes repeat in the same way each saeculum? They are molded by four historical turnings that reoccur every 80-100 years as well. The four historical turnings are: High (First Turning), Awakening (Second Turning), Unraveling (Third Turning), and Crisis (Fourth Turning). Historical turnings and generational archetypes work together to power the generational cycles. Historical turnings shape generations in childhood and young adulthood; then, as parents and leaders in midlife and old age, generations in turn shape history.
Because each of the four generation types experience the four historical turnings at different times in their lives, each generation is shaped differently by these watershed moments in history.
Below I include a chart that lists the four generational archetypes and turnings, and shows at which point in life each generation experiences the turnings:
Each horizontal row represents a “generational constellation” — the set arrangement of the generations on the age ladder during a turning. The generational constellations are the same in each turning, saeculum after saeculum.
If you’re feeling confused, hopefully things will become clearer as we discuss the historical turnings and the four generational types below. The theory will be easiest to grasp and keep track of if you think in terms of who the generational types were/are during our most recent saeculum as we go along:
Most Recent Generations:
Heroes: G.I. Generation (born 1901-1924)
Artists: Silent Generation (born 1925–1942)
Prophets: Baby Boom Generation (born 1943-1960)
Nomads: Generation X (born 1961-1981)
Next Heroes: Millennial Generation (born 1982-2004)
Most Recent Turnings:
Crisis (Fourth Turning): Great Depression/WWII (1925-1945)
High (First Turning): Postwar Boom (1946-1960)
Awakening (Second Turning): Consciousness Revolution (1961-1981)
Unraveling (Third Turning): Reagan Revolution/Culture Wars (1982-2006)
Next Crisis (Fourth Turning): ? (2008?-2028?)
Before we move on, we should note that a cyclical view of history does not preclude the idea of a society progressing or regressing; the cycle may be spiraling up or spiraling down.
Be sure to listen to our podcast with Neil Howe about the generational cycles:
The saeculum is broken up into four periods: First Turning (High), Second Turning (Awakening), Third Turning (Unraveling), Fourth Turning (Crisis). Each lasts roughly 20 years, just as the generations do. It’s helpful to imagine these periods as the seasons of the year. The Awakening is the summer of the saeculum, and the Crisis is the winter. The Unraveling (fall) and High (spring) are the transitional seasons. An Awakening changes a society’s culture; a Crisis changes its public life.
The changing of the turnings always catches people by surprise, as people ever suppose that life will keep going on just like it is now. For example, people in the 1950s envisioned the future as a stretch of unceasing progress — a clean, orderly world filled with wondrous technology and space travel. What they got instead was a sagging economy and the counter-culture movement. We are bad at seeing the next turning coming because just as in nature, “the season that is about to come is always farthest removed from memory.” In nature we are currently in summer and are awaiting the fall — the season we have not experienced in the longest time; in history, we now await (or perhaps are actually in) the Crisis, the turning we have not experienced since WWII.
High (First Turning)
A High follows the Crisis era. It is a time with strong civic values: institutions are strong and individualism is weak. Ideals that were valued during a crisis are institutionalized. The emphasis during a High is on planning and building — doing big things. Society is confident about where it wants to go collectively, though those outside the majority often feel stifled by the conformity. Culture is friendly, but bland and lacks spiritual depth. Big technological advances are often made during High eras. The amount of structure/protection/nurturing given children begins to diminish towards the end of the turning.
During a High, old Prophets die off, Nomads enter elderhood, Heroes enter midlife, Artists enter young adulthood — and a new generation of Prophets is born.
The postwar boom between 1948 and 1963 was America’s most recent High. Before that was the twenty-year period after the Revolutionary War. According to Strauss and Howe, the Civil War created an anomaly in which the High period was skipped.
Awakening (Second Turning)
The focus of society shifts from building institutions to developing an individual’s inner life. New social ideals emerge during this time and experimentation with utopian communities is common. Members of the coming-of-age Prophet generation are often at the forefront of the spiritual awakenings during Second Turning eras. Young activists look back at the previous High as a period of cultural and spiritual poverty and begin to rebel against the midlife Hero generation who made it possible. The amount of structure/protection/nurturing given children reaches a saeculum low.
During an Awakening, old Nomads disappear, Heroes enter elderhood, Artists enter midlife, Prophets enter young adulthood — and a new generation of child Nomads is born.
The Consciousness Revolution of the 1960s, the Transcendental Movement, and the Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries are examples of Awakening turnings.
Unraveling (Third Turning)
An Unraveling begins as a society embraces the liberating cultural forces set loose by the Awakening. Individualism and personal satisfaction are at their highest, while community and confidence in public institutions are at their lowest. Pleasure seeking and extreme lifestyles emerge. Society fragments into polarizing groups which makes decisive public action difficult. Instead of addressing problems, businesses and government leaders just kick the can down the road. Confidence in society’s future darkens, and the culture feels used up and worn out. Civic and moral paralysis and apathy set in. Art reflects the growing pessimism as themes of dreary realism take center stage. Child-rearing begins to move back towards protection and structure.
During Unravelings, old Heroes disappear, Artists enter elderhood, Prophets enter midlife, Nomads enter young adulthood — and a new generation of child Heroes is born.
Previous Unravelings occurred around World War I and the decades before the Civil and Revolutionary Wars. According to Strauss and Howe, the most recent Unraveling began during the second term of the Reagan administration and continued into the 2000s. Today, trust in institutions and leaders are at an all-time low and individualism is at an all-time high. Decisions on national problems like the growing deficit, deteriorating infrastructure, and rising education and healthcare costs are continually postponed because politicians and citizens are increasingly entrenched in their ideologies; consensus action and progress seems impossible.
Crisis (Fourth Turning)
This is an era in which America’s institutional life is destroyed and rebuilt in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s survival. This threat can take numerous forms; economic distress caused by defaulting on national debt, hyper inflation, or widespread unemployment, social distress caused by class or race warfare, ecological distress caused by natural or man-made disasters, energy or water shortages, epidemics/pandemics, secessionism and civil revolts, and traditional, nuclear, or cyber warfare are some of the possibilities. The Crisis can be caused by one large threat, or by the many little things that a society failed to deal with during the Unraveling finally coming to a head.
Obviously, societies are faced with wars and crises all the time; it is how the society responds to the crisis that determines whether it catalyzes into a Fourth Turning. There are always sparks, but not all sparks turn into fire. A spark ignites a Fourth Turning because in some way, the society is ready for it and wants it, though not consciously; they sense that society feels tired, worn out, and needs to be renewed.
No matter what form the Crisis takes, it galvanizes people into an action-taking consensus; problems that were once kicked down the road during the Unraveling are finally taken by the horns. Civic authority revives, cultural expression redirects towards community purpose, and people begin to locate themselves as members of a larger group. Self-sacrifice, institution building, and consensus replace self-interest, personal development, and contrarianism as values society encourages. Wanting to protect their children from the turmoil surrounding them, parents are overprotective of their children during the Crisis.
During the Crisis, old Artists disappear, Prophets enter elderhood, Nomads enter midlife, Heroes enter young adulthood — and a new generation of child Artists is born.
America experienced a Crisis-era during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Our previous Crisis began with the Great Depression and ended after WWII. When Strauss and Howe wrote The Fourth Turning in 1997, they predicted that the next Crisis would begin in the middle of ‘00s and last until around 2025. According to Howe’s current blog, he believes the next Fourth Turning began with the 2008 economic crisis.
While a Crisis period lasts for around twenty years, and throughout that time the actual difficulties being faced can increase in intensity, or wax and wane, Strauss and Howe predicted that the crisis would truly coalesce around the year 2020, as seen in this article they wrote for American Demographics back in 1991.
Strauss and Howe argue that it’s never possible to predict how long or severe a Fourth Turning may be, or what form it may take (the last Crisis, after all, started with the Depression and ended with a World War). In whatever form it takes, by the time the Fourth Turning is over, it has created a sharp break with the old order and a rebirth and renewal of society — a new High.
Just as there are four turnings in a saeculum, there are four generational archetypes: Prophet, Nomad, Hero, Artist. The generations are shaped both by each other and by the turnings; they are affected by the amount of nurturing they receive growing up and then by the challenges they face as they come of age.
The idea of breaking people into generations isn’t very popular in our highly individualized age. But to say that generations share common characteristics is not to say these cycles force people’s behavior, or that there are not always exceptions to the rule: in every generation there are three groups of people: those who set the tone for the generation, those who follow the tone-setters lead, and those who rebel against the generational mood altogether. Talking about generations is simply a way to acknowledge that because different age groups are raised in less or more nurturing families, and experience historical events at different times in their development, their “generational persona” — their “attitudes on family life, gender roles, institutions, politics, religion, lifestyle, and the future” are shaped in a distinct way.
It’s also important to keep in mind that no generation is “better” or “worse” than another; each generation has unique strengths and weaknesses, each is important, and each provides balance and self-correction to the cycle of history. This is especially important to remember as you notice that one of the generations is labeled the “Hero” generation. This is not in reference to its superiority, but to the fact, as you will see below, that the Hero generation serves as the foot soldiers during a Crisis, and so are given a chance to do heroic things during that time and are thus reverently remembered for their service during the Crisis. But the Hero generation has flaws and strengths just like every other.
Finally, it is essential to understand that just because generational types repeat throughout history, this does not mean they are just like each other. The Puritan generation and the Baby Boomer generation are both Prophet generations, but they couldn’t be more different! Instead, it is only that a set of salient characteristics unique to each generational archetype reemerges over and over again, manifesting in very different ways according to the circumstances of the time. So what the Puritans and Baby Boomers have in common is the value those generations placed on one’s inner convictions and spiritual awakening.
Artists grow up overprotected by adults during a Crisis. Children are expected to stay out of the way and be well behaved, and for the most part Artist children comply. Taught from a young age to please adults, Artists enter adulthood as one of the most conformist but also most well-off youth generations. Young adult Artists often take a supportive role to midlife Heroes. Those who find their generation’s conformity to elder expectations stifling, begin to explore a “fresher, more fulfilling role.” Rebellious young adult Artists are frequently the leaders of youth movements filled with teenage Prophets (e.g., MLK).
In midlife, Artists become known for their flexible, consensus-building leadership. They put a premium on expertise, process, and statistics. While this allows Artists to take on complex issues in a nuanced way, midlife Artist leaders often get bogged down in details and tend to postpone unpleasant choices. Midlife Artists become increasingly sympathetic to and even embrace the ethos of the younger Prophet generation who led the Awakening Turning. Midlife Artists redefine what it means to age and try to remain young at heart.
In old age, Artists maintain their flexible attitude towards life and continue to adopt the values of the younger Prophet generation. “They preserve a social conscience, show a resilient spirit, and never stop raising new questions.”
In many ways, the Artist generation comes of age in a tough, in-between spot in the generational cycle; for example, the Silent Generation just missed out on serving in WWII, and were left only to hear the stories of service from the Hero generation, and then when the counter-cultural movement happened in the 60s and 70s, they were already settled down in families, leaving some to look on enviously at the Prophet generation’s experiments with drugs and free love. Because of their in-between position in history, members of the Silent Generation have sometimes been overlooked; there has never been a Silent Generation president.
The Artist generation’s main societal contributions are in the area of expertise and due process. The Artists generation produces — surprise, surprise — great artists (Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol), reformers (Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Dewey), and statisticians (Frederick Winslow Taylor). America has had four Artist Generations: Enlightenment Generation (1674–1700), Compromise Generation (1767–1791), Progressive Generation (1843–1859), and Silent Generation (1925–1942).
Prophet generations are born after a Crisis Turning, and grow up increasingly indulged as children and youth, which imparts a sense of narcissism to this generation. They come of age as passionate young crusaders during an Awakening era and rebel against their elders’ spiritually sterile society. Self-discovery and authenticity are valued by Prophets throughout their lives, and they feel passionate about the morals, principles, and ideas they hold dear.
Prophets enter midlife during an Unraveling by initially disengaging from public life in order to focus on themselves. However, slowly but surely, midlife Prophets begin to take on the mantle of leadership. Unlike Hero leaders who put action over ideals, Prophet leaders put ideals ahead of action. Because of this, irreconcilable rifts occur between Prophet factions, which causes societal problems to come to a head during an Unraveling.
Prophets reach elderhood during a Crisis. By then, one of the competing Prophet factions from the Unraveling prevails which sets the agenda and tone for public action during the Crisis. During the Crisis, elder Prophets provide moral vision and values-oriented leadership to younger generations. They inspire younger generations to sacrifice, although during their own youths they were generally not “in the trenches” themselves, and are thus ultimately remembered more for their words than their actions. They may lead society through the Crisis to the birth of a new High . . . or, if they do not lead well, to destruction.
The Prophet Generation’s main societal contributions are vision, values, and religion. They often produce America’s most notable preachers, activists, radicals, and writers. Prophet Generations include: Puritan Generation (1588–1617), Awakening Generation (1701–1723), Transcendental Generation (1792–1821), Missionary Generation (1860–1882), and Boomer Generation (1943-1960).
Nomad generations are born and nurtured during a spiritual Awakening and grow up as unprotected children. Often seen as a nuisance by Artist and Prophet adults, Nomad children are left to find their own norms and are exposed to the world of adult dangers and anxieties at a young age. Consequently, Nomad children grow up fast and often engage in risky behavior.
Nomads come of age during an Unraveling as alienated and often cynical adults. However, their early exposure to the realities of adult life give them strong survival skills and a fierce independent streak that makes them well-suited to navigate the societal Unraveling that surrounds them.
In midlife, Nomads mellow into pragmatic and savvy leaders during a Crisis. Middle-aged Nomads make the personal sacrifices for the good of society that their elder Prophets weren’t willing to make during the Unraveling. The Nomads’ cunning and survival instincts make them well-suited to lead during a Fourth Turning. Many of America’s most memorable military, government, and business leaders were scrappy midlife Nomads (e.g., Generals Patton and Grant).
Nomads reach elderhood during a High. To compensate for the excessively risky decisions they made as young adults, aging Nomads shun risk and demand conformism from their peer group and especially from younger generations.
The Nomad’s main societal contributions are liberty, survival, and honor. Nomad generations have produced America’s greatest entrepreneurs and industrialists (Andrew Carnegie, Jeff Bezos), satirists (Mark Twain, Jon Stewart), and generals (Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, George Washington). Nomad Generations include: Cavalier Generation (1618–1647), Liberty Generation (1724–1741), Gilded Generation (1822–1842), Lost Generation (1883–1900), Generation X (1961-1981).
Hero generations grow up as increasingly protected post-Awakening children. Prophet parents see their Hero children as instruments to fulfill their inner visions. Community and teamwork are instilled in Heroes at a young age. They are confident, ambitious, and optimistic about life, even in tough times.
Heroes enter young adulthood during a Crisis. Their youth, along with their orientation towards action and their ability to work well in teams, makes Heroes the go-to foot soldiers during a Crisis era. They are led by Nomads and revered by later generations for the sacrifices they make on the battlefield. Heroes enter midlife during a societal High, filled with confidence but also hubris from their early success during the Crisis; their penchant for taking on big projects can only be supported by the economic boom they experience during the High, which they naively believe will continue indefinitely. When the economy starts to sag during an Unraveling, younger generations are left holding the bag on faltering Hero-built programs and institutions.
Heroes are straightforward and polite; midlife Heroes become “defenders of a wholesome but conformist culture.” Technological advancement and institutional building are the main focuses of Hero leaders in midlife, and they use this focus to create a well-ordered society. They eschew passionate and divisive ideology for a pragmatic approach to society and life, and when it comes to spirituality, either favor a pragmatic secularism or a non-charismatic, community-oriented mainline-type faith.
As they enter elderhood, Heroes begin receiving increasing scorn from younger Prophets for their lack of inner depth, spirituality, and passion. Consequently, Heroes “detach themselves from new cultural trends” while still maintaining an active role in public affairs.
The Hero generation’s main societal contributions are community, technology, and affluence. Hero generations have produced America’s greatest statesmen (James Madison, Thomas Jefferson) and societal builders (William Levitt). Throughout American history there have been three Hero Generations: the Glorious Generation (1648–1673), the Republican Generation (1742–1766), and the G.I. Generation (1901–1924).
Still Feeling Confused?
If you’re feeling confused about how this all goes together, let’s again take a look at how the turnings and generation types played out during our most recent cycle.
The Hero generation were young adults during our most recent Crisis: the Great Depression and WWII. Led by Nomads, they were the GIs who fought the war. After the war and the conclusion of the Fourth Turning, the Hero generation entered midlife and led society through a First Turning High. They led with a practical, civic-oriented, can-do spirit, and did big things like going to the moon. The Artist Generation (the Silent Generation) largely followed the Hero generation’s lead and acted as helpmates to it. These generations indulged their Prophet children, which made them a little self-absorbed. When the Prophet generation (the Baby Boomers) entered Young Adulthood, they led an Awakening (Second Turning), rebelling against the conformity and complacency of the Hero generation. As parents, the younger Boomer-Prophets and older Artist-Silents, raised a generation of latchkey kids, who became independent and cynical adults: the Nomad Gen X-ers. Because the Boomer-Prophet Awakening created a society that valued individualism and passionate ideology, the 80s and 90s were a time of Unraveling, with little consensus on shared values, fighting among interest groups, and stagnant civic progress. With a faltering economy, Hero-generated programs like LBJ’s Medicare have become difficult for the younger generations to sustain, while the Old Hero generation itself has largely passed on. Older Boomer and younger Gen X parents raised their kids in an over-protective way (helicopter parents), creating Millennial children, the next Hero generation.
Can Millennials Really Be the Next Hero Generation?
According to Strauss and Howe’s generational theory, the Millennial Generation (1982-2004) is our most recent Hero generation. They’ve gotten a lot of flack on this because, according to many columnists/opinion makers/sociologists, today’s young adult Millennials aren’t displaying the qualities that you’d expect from a Hero generation. However, Howe would argue that it’s too early to judge whether Millennials will follow the Hero archetype; before the Depression/WWII Crisis, nobody thought the young G.I. generation was anything special either or had any idea that we’d later revere them as we do.
The more you look at it, the less of a stretch it becomes. The Millennial generation has weaknesses as every generation does, but they already display some classic Hero generation qualities: they’re friendly, even-keeled, and pragmatic; get along well with younger peers and older adults; and are very peer and team-oriented. They’re surprisingly wholesome, in fact, and do less drugs and have less sex than previous generations.
Millennials are also confident and ambitious goal-setters, and remain optimistic despite the downbeat economy; although they’ve been hit hard by the downturn, 9 in 10 still say “they earn enough money now to lead the kind of life they want, or that they expect to earn enough in the future.” Other insights to the true nature of Millennials’ values can be seen in the graph below, which is based on a study done this year:
While it is often said that Millennials are “idealistic,” this is perhaps a projection from Boomer parents who tried to instill this value in their kids; while Millennials do want meaningful jobs, they value “being financially secure” higher than other generations (and are in fact more frugal than past generations). They also place more importance on getting married, having kids, and being a leader in their community than Boomers and Gen X-ers do.
There is still a ton more that could be covered about the Strauss-Howe generational theory of history. Generations and The Fourth Turning each weigh in at around 500 pages. In attempting to give a brief-ish overview of the theory, much was left out, and what was left out may answer various questions that arose in your mind as you read this article.
Nevertheless, even if you take the time to plow through both books, you will still discover that the theory is far from airtight. There are plenty of holes to be found and objections to be raised. Furthermore, looking to it strictly as a guide to life and history, soon turns it into more of a squidgy horoscope chart than a historical/sociological theory. Those caveats aside, it is one of those things where taking the time to think through it, regardless of whether you end up embracing the theory completely, find truth in parts of it while rejecting others, or dismiss the theory wholesale, will very likely give you some fresh insights on life, history, and your place in it; it’s a fascinating prism through which to view the world.
The post How the Generational Cycle of History Explains Our Current Crisis appeared first on The Art of Manliness.
Monk: Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that I quietly posted my Lexington rankings a few months back through the top navigation bar. Before the pandemic hit, it was my pet project to hit all of the current Lexington-area barbecue restaurants for my definitive* Lexington rankings. I’ve been a longtime fan of Lexington Barbecue and in recent years, The Barbecue Center. But as the self-proclaimed “Barbecue Capital of the World” (one of many cities claiming that title, it should be noted) boasting at times one barbecue restaurant per 1,000 restaurants (though this is not currently the case), I needed to explore the others to understand the quality and depth of the other restaurants.
I’ve broken the 14 restaurants I’ve reviewed thus far into three tiers. Someday I will get to the curiously named Lexington Trimmings for completeness sake but in the meantime, here is the most definitive list of Lexington-area barbecue restaurants on the internet*. Ladies and gentlemen, the Lexington Big Board.
*one man’s opinion
**that I know of
- Lexington Barbecue
- Bar-B-Q Center
- Rick’s Smokehouse
- Speedy’s Barbecue
- Smiley’s Lexington Barbecue
- Backcountry Barbeque
I need to revisit both Smiley’s and Speedy’s asap, as they may no longer be in business for too much longer as a result of the NC Department of Transportation widening Highway 8 that they both sit on. Also, both were reviewed very early in this blog’s life and while I really enjoyed both, I’ve had a lot of barbecue since.
To my knowledge, all of these places smoke over wood with no gas or electricity but are just a notch below the best of the best in Lexington.
Of the bottom tier, Kerley’s and Randy’s don’t smoke over wood and it shows in the actual barbecue.
Still to try
Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I have been trapped in my house, as everyone has been trapped in their house, and trying not to go to the grocery store very often. But when I did the last time, I ran across this tube of fresh basil that’s chopped up into a paste with a little bit of oil. It doesn’t have any flavoring. It’s kind of like a pesto but without all of the other stuff that you would put into a pesto and it’s pretty fantastic because it means I can get fresh-tasting herbs all through my quarantine without having them go bad on me. I have been using it to make cream sauce. I also used it in a cocktail that I invented one night by taking a bunch of strawberries that my kids had not eaten and dicing them up really fine and putting some of this squeezy basil toothpaste on top of it, and then muddling that up with some brown sugar and a little bit of apple cider vinegar and then tossing some bourbon on top of all of it. The basil has to stay refrigerated but it’s good for up to a month or more. I’ve had one of them now for like the entire time I have been trapped in my house and it’s been still really good and lasting and it’s fantastic.
JBL Pulse 3 Wireless Waterproof Speaker ($220)
This is a thing that several people in my life have and I’ve been sort of admiring but hadn’t picked up one until, again, quarantine happened. And suddenly, I really wanted better sound in my apartment and decided to just go ahead and grab it. You can program it to do different kinds of LED patterns and colors and custom colors. I’m using it a lot right now for my daughters. They like to listen to a meditation tape type of thing at night before they go to bed and they really love having this multicolored rainbow light show happening while they’re lying in their beds all tucked in with the lights off. It’s pretty great and the sound quality is excellent. And like a Bluetooth speaker, I can move it all over the house. And that’s the other thing that makes it really great for the girls is that they can hear their meditation tape that’s playing off of my phone, but I can have my phone with me in a different room. I don’t have to just completely give it over to them for an hour. It’s a really nice little setup.
Smoked Garlic Powder ($3) (Recipe to make your own)
This is smoked garlic powder that I had never really seen before, and sort of bought on a whim just to play around with and have something fun during quarantine. It has turned out to be really, really delicious. Last night, I used it on Brussels sprouts. My oldest daughter has been using it on toast with butter and garlic and honey. And it has this really, really fantastic sort of hickory thing happening that’s very, very about the smell and changes the taste not a ton, but it’s just nice and mellow garlicky goodness. I looked up and found places you can buy it online and there are recipes where you can make your own if you have the right kind of grill. And it seems like it’s actually pretty easy to just put together at home. I might end up trying to do that myself at some point.
VTech KidiZoom Digital Camera ($40)
This is a weird one. I did not expect when I got these that I was going to like them very much. This is something that my mom got for my daughters at Christmas and I was at first just kind of like, “Seriously, really, we’re doing digital cameras. Okay.” But as the girls have played with them, I found all these really interesting little features that this camera has and one of the things they just figured out that it can do is make stop motion animation. It has a setting where they can go in and take a bunch of pictures and move a toy across the table and then, the camera will automatically stitch them together into a little video with music. It has a little screen on the back where you can see the pictures that you’re taking. It’s not like the world’s greatest camera as you might guess. But you can see sort of how you could line up the shots and kind of get them all together. The girls really like to take pictures of people and then add these little animations and stickers on them. There’s a whole bunch of photos of me with flowerpots on my face. They’ve been taking them with us on walks and taking pictures of trees and puddles in the alley and it’s pretty delightful. It’s got a tiny little SD card in there. And you can just plug into your computer and you can download stuff directly from it on to the computer. It runs on batteries, but they’ve been using it a ton and I haven’t had to change the batteries since Christmas. It lasts a decent amount of time. It’s also really sturdy, my youngest daughter is four and the number of times she has dropped this thing is just astronomical. And it has yet to have anything bad happen to it.
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