birds

D.B. Jackson – Author

David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning writer of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His current series, The Thieftaker Chronicles (Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry), is set in pre-Revolutionary Boston and combines historical fiction, mystery, and urban fantasy. Learn more about David and his work at http://www.dbjackson-author.com.

Good things to read.

The Tamir Trilogy (The Bone Doll’s Twin, Hidden Warrior, and The Oracle’s Queen) by Lynn Flewelling. This is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time, and, for reasons surpassing understanding, it is relatively unknown. The series plays with the trope of the royal prince born with a hidden twin, but does so in a way that is unique, chilling, and masterful. I really can’t recommend it enough.

Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay. I love Kay’s work. Always have. He was an inspiration to me when I was still an aspiring writer, and I continue to be impressed by every novel he writes. His first work, the Fionavar Tapestry, remains a sentimental favorite of mine, and so when he released Ysabel in 2007, I was delighted to see that he had returned to some key themes from that earlier work. Read the Fionavar books, and then read Ysabel. Definitely worth the investment of time.

The New Yorker. Yes, magazines still exist, and this one contains, week in and week out, some of the best writing you can find anywhere. I will admit that I don’t read every article. Some topics interest me more than others. But that’s the beauty of The New Yorker: every issue has something in it that will appeal to every reader. Politics, world affairs, history, fiction, sports, cinema, fashion, theater, music, science — the magazine’s articles have covered all of these things. In the past four weeks.

Good things to watch.

Sports Night. This one is only available on NetFlix or the like, but it is just a wonderful show. Created and written by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing could just as easily have made this list, but everyone is already watching that, right? Right??), starring Felicity Huffman, Josh Charles, Peter Krause, Joshua Molina, and Robert Guillaume, it tells the story of a SportsCenter type news program struggling to make it in prime time. The writing, like all of Sorkin’s writing, is crisp, funny, totally brilliant. But the networks never knew what to make of the series — it was too smart for them — and it only lasted about three seasons.

Birds. Someone else said this down the list a bit, but it is worth reiterating. I have been birdwatching for nearly all my life. Seriously. I started when I was seven. And it has never, ever gotten old. Start with a feeder or two in your backyard. Maybe put up a hummingbird feeder in the summer and one that holds sunflower seeds in the winter. Get a field guide and a pair of binoculars. Go look at warblers during spring migration (April and May) or hawks in the fall (September and October). You’ll be amazed by what you see.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. ‘Nuff said. (Except to warn that it is a bit dated, and there is a moment of rather disturbing gender abuse in one of the early scenes — he smacks her, rendering her unconscious. You’d never see it done so casually in a movie today. But in every other way the movie is terrific.)

Good things to use.

MyRadar, is my favorite iPhone app. It’s a weather program that gives you live radar anywhere in the country, as well as forecasts and all the other things weather apps offer. But the radar is the kicker. It is absolutely accurate, has never crashed on my phone, and looks really cool.

Kirk “L” Bracket. I’m an avid photographer. Nature photography mostly: macro work, landscapes, that sort of thing. I have learned over the years that I do much better work when I use a tripod rather than hand-holding the camera. Not only are my images sharper, but I also take more time and care in composing my shots. The “L” Bracket, made by Kirk Industries, is an attachment that goes on the camera, making it possible to mount the camera on the tripod on its bottom or on its side. In other words, it basically allows me to turn my camera from horizontal orientation to vertical orientation in a matter of seconds, without having to reposition the tripod at all.

Intellitouch PT 10 Tuner. I am also a long-time guitar player, and I LOVE my little clip-on guitar tuner. It clamps to the headstock of the guitar and senses the vibration of the note in the wood. Tuning my guitar has never been easier.

Find David on Twitter at @DBJacksonAuthor and on Facebook under the same name.

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Tyler Tervooren – Advanced Riskologist

Tyler Tervooren writes about his attempts to learn and grow through embracing risks at AdvancedRiskology.com.

Good things to read

Man’s Search for Meaning. An incredible (and true) holocaust survivor story about what it means to find a purpose for your life.

MrMoneyMustache.com. Personal finance advice that doesn’t suck.

Anything on paper. Because sometimes you just have to close your laptop.

Good things to watch.

Birds. No one watches birds these days. They’re pretty neat.

The Colbert Report. I don’t own a TV ; it’s the only way I know what’s going on in the world.

Your mouth. Seriously, there might be kids around!

Good things to use.

A cast iron skillet. Everything tastes better cooked in cast iron.

Your hands. It’s pretty incredible what you can make when you sit down and actually try.

A screwdriver. This modern marvel fixes almost every home improvement problem.

Tyler is also on Twitter.