Olga Khazan, Author of WEIRD


Cool Tools Show 217: Olga Khazan

Our guest this week is Olga Khazan, a staff writer at The Atlantic and author of the new book, WEIRD. You can find her on Twitter @olgakhazan.

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Show notes:

Scrivener is the tool that I used to write my book as well and it’s just this really great software for writing long articles or books. The best thing about it is that it allows you to kind of stick everything in a little mini file and move it around really freely without having to commit to copy and pasting things. Which, for me, a big mental block was always, “I want to revise this book but I don’t want to copy and paste too much, because I’m worried I’ll lose my place or lose a big chunk of text.” But with Scrivener you can dump everything in there and rearrange it really easily and it just holds everything really nicely. You could have notes off to the side. It’s made specifically with all the neuroses and problems that writers have in mind.

The New York Times cooking app
I use this so much. I find it’s basically the only thing I use. I have a ton of cookbooks that I never crack open these days, because I’m just always in the New York Times cooking app. I just think it’s so easy to search for whatever you have that’s about to go bad or you really need to cook. If you have fennel or something, it’ll pull up a bunch of great recipes. They’re really easy to follow. They have comments where people have modified them, or done them to great success and you can kind of follow along. The pictures are really nice, and you can save them to a personal file so you always can know what you actually enjoyed versus just trying something new every time.

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM3
My boyfriend got a pair of these and then I also got a pair because I really liked how they looked. I don’t know if the sound quality is that good because I’m not an audiophile. I just want it to be really, really quiet and to play my ambient work music in a normal way. And these work really great for that. I feel the charge lasts a really long time. They look nice. They kind of fit over your ear nicely and they’re really comfortable to wear all day. I wear glasses, so pretty much anything that sits right on my ear starts to hurt my head after an hour. But I’ve been able to wear these all day and without a problem. And what’s really cool is you can put your hand over them and they’ll switch out of the noise canceling mode and you can hear everything around you, which is kind of neat. You don’t have to pull them off your head.

The Steelcase Leap chair
I have always had back pain. And before I started writing my book I decided to invest in a really nice chair for my home desk. And I got the Steelcase Leap Chair after doing all this research and it’s worked out great. It completely stopped my back from hurting and I can sit all day like it’s nothing. You can adjust the arms and the height and all that stuff, but somehow it’s so much more comfortable than those crappy office chairs that you’d normally get with your office job. So it’s really been worth it for me just to not be in pain all the time.

About WEIRD:
My book is called WEIRD, and it is about the science of nonconformity. It explores why we dislike outsiders or people who seem “unusual,” how that affects the people who are outsiders, and how they can overcome it and thrive. The book follows several fish-out-of-water type characters, such as a female race-car driver, a male preschool teacher, and an extreme liberal in America’s most conservative town (and vice-versa.)


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