Current Favorites

Aurate Rings

I resumed traveling for work earlier this year, which often requires my giving presentations to groups of people; as an anxious public speaker, I find playing with accessories a discreet way to channel my anxiety. Most days I’ll have at least a few Aurate rings–I own dozens of them now and find joy in picking out which ones to take with me to work–on my fingers. They are all reasonably priced and unique but understated.

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ZVE iPhone Crossbody Wallet Case

Picture this: I’m rummaging through a massive black tote that’s filled to the brim for my phone, which is protected by a smooth black OtterBox case that’s made the phone even more elusive. After turning the bag inside out, I begin to wonder: did I lose my phone?

After a moment of panic, I invariably find my phone: it was in the bag, but had become caught between various layers of organizing pouches, glasses cases, and Ziploc bags housing odd-shaped items.

When I first ordered the ZVE Crossbody Phone Case, I was trying to solve a different problem: I had taken a spill, injured my hands, and needed a handsfree way to carry my phone while still allowing easy access to it. This phone case served my needs well during my recovery, but I also discovered that, since making this switch, I’ve not spent any time looking for my phone (the long strap and brighter color made it so that, no matter how disorganized my bag is, some part of the strap is always peeking out); I regret not making this purchase sooner.

If you also struggle with finding your phone, give this case a try.

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Only Murders in the Building

The third season of any TV show presents a turning point for the showrunner: stay the course and give the audience more of the same, or pivot and try something new, but risk alienating the fan base. Only Murders in the Building, in its third season, is doing a marvelous balancing act, by still centering a murder mystery, but adding musical theater to the mix. If executed poorly, this could have been disastrous, but behind a delightful cast and exciting new additions, among them Meryl Streep and Ashley Park, this new formula is proving successful. (Also, every song in Death Rattle is an earworm. I can’t stop singing “Which of the Pickwick Triplets Did It.”)

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Baldur’s Gate 3

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Divinity: Original Sin II was a ray of sunshine for me in the early months of the pandemic, and helped stave off the dread of a looming apocalypse… for about two weeks. Imagine my excitement when I learned that its developer, Larian Studios, was releasing a new game (albeit in early access) in 2020.

And after a long wait (though not that long in game development time), the full game was released on PC last month, and it’s quickly become my Game of the Year. It’s a game that I was plotting to replay before I had even finished my first playthrough; and while some side quests were less polished than others, especially in the third and final act, and required that I seek out help online, I couldn’t have asked for more from a game.

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Baldur’s Gate 3 is a role-playing video game based on the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop role-playing system (specifically 5e). While cooperative multiplayer is available (up to four players in a party, but I would urge you to keep the player party to 2 as you’ll want some Origins characters as companions for their unique questlines), for anyone (like me) who’s accustomed to rushing the main storyline, I highly encourage a solo effort for your first play-through.

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God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning

I recently re-read God, Human, Animal, Machine, because the decision players have to make at the end of Baldur’s Gate 3 again put the concept of “soul” (which is admittedly less abstract in D&D than IRL) at the forefront of my mind. And one of the questions that Meghan O’Gieblyn considers in this hybrid-memoir is the concept of consciousness: In the modern materialist framing of body as hardware and consciousness as software, what endows a string of zeroes and ones with the elusive self? God, Human, Animal, Machine is much more than a book about technology, as O’Gieblyn explores her curiosities and shares her private thoughts after synthesizing dense philosophical ideas, theological history, and technological theories (especially the weirdness of the transhumanist zeitgeist), all through the lens of a fundamentalist Christian turned inquisitive atheist.

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Hard Fork

There’s a Reply All-sized hole in my listening schedule that Hard Fork (and, to a lesser degree, The Watch and If Books Could Kill) has been able to fill with some success. This weekly podcast is hosted by Casey Newton, a founder and editor of Platformer, and Kevin Roose, a NYT tech columnist. The weekly topics never veer far from front page tech news (i.e., Elon Musk and ChatGPT are recurring subjects) and the vibe is generally light and full of banter. While it’s an easy listen–kind of like hanging out with friends who are interested in tech–because it’s a New York Times production, there are also well-regarded guests, and excellent sound mixing and post-production.

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