Category Archives: Fast Reads
This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money.
My wife and I have three children in elementary school and/or preschool, so the opportunity for “escape weekends” have been few and far between for a very long time. When we get those opportunities – usually thanks to a generous grandparent – we deeply enjoy the chance for a bit of “us time.”
Still, an escape weekend isn’t an excuse to go break the bank. We strive to escape the stresses of our day-to-day life for a little while, but that doesn’t mean we need to add to those stresses.
Here’s how to pull off an “escape weekend” with your partner without melting your credit card and adding to your financial stress.
On the surface, a “buy one get one” sale sounds like a good deal.
“I really want two shirts and if I buy one shirt, I can get the other one for free!”
“I really want two games and if I buy one game, I can get the other one for 50% off!”
Almost everyone is on board with those kinds of deals.
The problem is that, in reality, deals don’t quite work out like that. Almost every “buy one get one” deal that you find has some sort of catch… and, often, there are multiple catches.
During December, “best of the year” lists pop up all over the place. The best books of the year. The best albums of the year. The best movies of the year. They’re already cropping up and, by the end of the month, you’ll find it difficult to throw a rock without hitting one.
(If you want a prime example, here’s NPR’s selection of 200 of the best books of 2013.)
As an avid reader and a fan of many types of music, I tend to enjoy reading these lists, but there’s a pretty big catch.
Recently, I had the pleasure of reading The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. The book’s main argument is that our minds actually change in terms of function when they use a particular technology or idea repeatedly.
For example, when writing was introduced, one can see from the writings of Plato how the process of human thinking changed from an oral society to a written society. Later, the printing press revolutionized thinking once again, and it’s repeating more and more frequently with radio and television and the telegraph and so on. The internet is obviously in line with these types of changes.
The book argues that our brains are actually very “plastic,” meaning that the cells within actually change their structure when they’re used heavily (or not used heavily). For example, people who read quite a lot have physical differences in their brain than people who avoid reading – and that phenomenon is true for lots of things that people choose to do.
Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.
1. Branch Rickey on luck
“Luck is the residue of design.” – Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey was the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who signed Jackie Robinson and brought him into the major leagues. You could argue that he was lucky in choosing Robinson, who was just about the perfect man for the role in terms of personality and skill, but he actually spent quite a lot of time and effort finding the right man to break the color barrier.