Tray for car/Talking Points for Life/Cryptography guide

Recomendo: issue no. 337

Sign up here to get Recomendo a week early in your inbox.

Tray for car
Don’t laugh but I often eat my lunch in my car – while listening to podcasts. This generic lightweight plastic car tray has changed my life. It hangs on the steering wheel and makes a level tray for a sandwich and drink. No more food messes! It can also serve as a mobile office platform to write on or support a tablet or very small laptop. There are no moving parts; its shape ingeniously holds it level on most steering wheels. Don’t like plastic? You can find bamboo versions on Amazon. A tray like this is such a boon that I traced its shape and cut it out on scrap plywood to make a second one for my van. — KK

Talking Points for Life
Talking Points for Life has all the advice you could ever need for all kinds of uncomfortable conversations. Like exact wording on how to decline a request for money (“I’m sorry, I have a personal boundary of not mixing money and friends.”) or techniques on redirecting negative conversations by bridging (“However, the real issue here is…”). There is also a page on “How to encourage someone to answer your question instead of saying, ‘I don’t know’” which is kind of a pet peeve of mine. — CD 

Learn cryptography the fun way
The Manga Guide to Cryptography is a 190-page comic book that clearly explains the fundamentals of cryptography. You’ll learn about the foundations of encryption, symmetric-key algorithms, public-key encryption, practical applications of encryption, told in the form of a fun and engaging story. — MF

Listen to college radio stations
If you’re tired of your music algorithms try out You can click through stations quickly, add your favorites and play them at random. College stations always seem to play the coolest, chillest indie music and it’s a nice change for my ears. Right now my favorite stations to drop into are Chapel Hill’s WXYC 89.3 and New Mexico’s KUNM 89.9.— CD

Timeless photography
I’d like to shamelessly promote my 50-year project to document the remote parts of Asia that very few people have seen. I call it Vanishing Asia. These gigantic books have thousands of photos of exotic traditions, rituals, festivals, costumes and disappearing architecture. I not only put years and years into traveling to the end of the roads, but also I put my heart and soul into collecting these images for posterity. There are still some copies of this immense 3-volume set available on Amazon, and they are currently discounted. These are the last copies because there will not be any more printed. Amazon says they can be delivered by Christmas, for a tremendously wow gift. — KK

Last minute gift idea
In addition to Recomendo, I write a newsletter called The Magnet. It’s difficult to describe because each issue is different. Sometimes I interview an interesting person like Jude Stewart, who wrote a catalog of smells. Sometimes I post photos and comments of unusual things I come across when travel. In one issue I wrote about the time I worked on a traveling carnival and met a remarkable man called The Human Blockhead. If you are looking for a last minute gift (even for yourself), consider getting them a gift subscription to The Magnet. — MF

Kevin KellyMark FrauenfelderClaudia Dawson


© 2022