Books on Finance

After graduating and starting an Adult Job, I realized that I needed to revisit my budget and such. I wasn't looking for anything complicated -- just a broad overview of how to manage money as a twentysomething. Two books I found particularly good were: 

A lot of the advice from articles and Quora answers is either not applicable (I'm not making enough money for investing to be relevant) or weirdly condescending. From the two books above (you'll skim through each one in an hour or so), I think I have all the theory I need to manage money in my twenties.

* Not affiliate links.

    Arabic Pros and Cons

    In English, we use the same word for I wear/she wears and Wearing Prada is expensive. Arabic has a different word for each, even though they're related in the way that the English words manage and manager are related.

    This is good, in that there's less linguistic ambiguity. You almost never have the same meaning collision you have in English -- I'm wearing the shirt uses the same word in a completely different context in I find this discussion wearing

    This is also bad -- all those different words have to be learned, or at least recognized. There are a few hundred thousand English words, but a few million in Arabic. This is also due to the fact that Arabic is a simile junkie, and there are about 14 ways of saying "love" and over 100 words for "lion." There are only a handful in common use, but the rest are perfectly legal and kosher.

    It's a fun language.

     

    Senioritis

    When people told me about college, they mentioned that my senior year would be the most fun -- I would be done with my requirements, I would be finding a job, and I would generally be enjoying my last semester of being relatively carefree young adult and undergrad.

    This... has not been the case for me.

    It's midterm season, so about the time when I hole myself up and do a lot of writing. Maddie is tootling around rural Jordan, and I'll see you all in a week.

    Gillette Turns 30

    Tommy Collison, a Gillette patient who traveled from Ireland to receive treatment for cerebral palsy when he was a boy, shared how his experience at Gillette helped him physically and mentally. Collison, a 22-year-old student at New York University, recently spent four months traveling in Israel. He’s not afraid to take on challenges and credits Gillette for his confidence.

    A Big Celebration for the James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis

    Last Monday, I spoke at Gillette Children's, a hospital in Minneapolis, MN, where I had various surgeries as a child. The gait laboratory there turned 30 last Monday, and I had the pleasure of spending the day with them, and of being there when they announced a $1 million donation, which will go toward research and development. 

    As the article notes, "The funds will make it possible to advance our world-renowned gait and motion analysis research and equip our facility with the very latest technologies."

    I was glad to play my small part in the day, talking about the impact Gillette surgeries have had on my life. As I said in my talk, the surgeons and staff at Gillette had a huge impact on my quality of life. I spent the last four months traveling around Israel and Palestine, and it's largely thanks to their care and support that I have both the ability and the confidence to do so.

     

    What's New, Buenos Aires?

    Let's see...

    I'm in Buenos Aires for another two days. It's been a great fortnight, with good food, excellent company, and amazing surroundings. I added 10,000 words to the manuscript and got to see a little bit of South America, where I've never been before.

    I had a much longer introspective written, but decided that nobody needed the word vomit and that it's better saved in drafts. TL, DR: I think this is going to be an uncertain year -- professionally, personally, and (more widely) politically. Trump, my college graduation, a change in visa status, job searching... But I'll meet it as it comes. The odd years are always more fun than the even years anyway. 

    I fly back to the US on Saturday, and then drop up to Maine for a few days. I've never been, but I'm a fan of the cold and I have a good friend up there. Plus, it's Stephen King territory, so the winter spookiness should be in overdrive. After that, it's back to New York for my last semester.

    I'll put up some photos of Buenos Aires in a bit, but that's all for now.
     

    2016 Book Recommendations

    'Tis the most wonderful time of the year: when people post their book recommendations. Here are some of the books I read this year with comments and recommendations. I'm copying the style of on Aaron Swartz's excellent Review of Books, with books I particularly recommend up top. The links go to Amazon, but they're not affiliate links.

    My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok

    Best piece of fiction I read all year. The story follows a young Hasidic Jew who grapples his love for his religion and his love of art. First-person-child-narrators as a genre often fall flat, but this is done very well.

    Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers, by Simon Winchester

    ...And this is the best non-fiction I read this year. An eminently readable account of the past and present of the Pacific Ocean. The stuff-to-come bits feel slightly shoehorned in, but may we all have Winchester's comprehensive-yet-readable writing style.

    The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

    As someone said somewhere in a review, this isn't a who-done-it so much as a why-done-it. I almost went to Bennington College, which is thought to be the basis for the book's Hampden College.

    Indefensible: One Lawyer’s Journey into the Inferno of American Justice, by David Feige

    A fascinating look into the justice system and public defenders in general, but I found the author to be totally unlikeable, and some of the Amazon reviews take issue with some of the assertions he makes. It's a poor writer who can't write an autobiography where he comes out looking halfway decent. The cast of characters is somewhat unnecessary and hard to keep up with. Worth reading if you focus on the institutional parts and stop trying to keep track of the names.

    Schindler’s List, by Thomas Keneally

    Ticks all the boxes of a biography in terms of comprehensiveness, but something's still missing. Not particularly compelling, which is a shame considering that the source material is exciting and meaningful.

    The Man Who Was Thursday, by G. K. Chesterton

    A delightfully funny and surreal piece of short fiction. Read in two sittings.

    Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War, by Anthony Shadid

    Compelling long-form journalism at its best. Shadid is a role-model to foreign correspondents everywhere, particularly in his attempts to understand the region he covers.

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz

    Fiction at its most brilliant, and most immersive.

    Israel/Palestine, by Alan Dowty

    My go-to recommendation for anyone looking for a "how did we get to today?" primer.

    Sex With Shakespeare, by Jillian Keenan

    A little bit off-the-wall, but an enjoyable autobiography-with-a-twist. Genuine, funny, and conversation.

    And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, by Randy Shilts

    This was written in 1987, and so it lives and dies by its immediacy: on the one hand, it's an honest and compelling look at the people who were on the ground floor of the epidemic. On the other, one of the book's central claims about "Patient Zero" has been disproved.

    Sometimes you have to say no to your friends to say yes to your work

    It's 23ºC here in Tel Aviv. I'm sitting outside my dorm in a T-shirt and jeans, headphones in, working my way through a draft of the forward of this book.

    I think some friends of mine are going to a bar with live music in southern Tel Aviv, near Jaffa. I'm probably not going to join them -- part of it is residual tiredness from traveling all day Thursday and not getting into Tel Aviv until 5am on Friday, but part of it is that I'm working on the book. I have an idea of how I want this forward to look, and so I'm probably going to keep at it until what's on the page looks a little bit more like what's in my head.

    As I was working, I was reminded of an answer Lin-Manuel Miranda gave in an interview about writing stuff. He's asked if the idea of writing Hamilton ever got overwhelming and whether he ever thought about giving up. He says:

    Oh, all the time. All the time. And then you push through it. Like, you push through it because what’s the alternative — you’re going to just leave that idea stuck in your head forever? That sucks. The alternative is you go through life and you had this great idea and nothing came of it, because you got tired? And yeah, sometimes you don’t go to the party that all your friends are at because the idea is calling to you in that moment.
    […]
    You have to do that sometimes. You have to say no to your friends to say yes to your work. Because, what are you going to do? Lose that idea because you decided to have a drink with your friends?