The last time we checked in for our staff's Weekly Upgrades, our editors were making DIY icy poles, splashing around in Saltwater sandals, and playing a lot of Destiny 2.
This week, several of us were focused on streamlining our digital lives (Put a stop to headphone tangles! Skip the dongles and invest in new cords! Close your damn tabs!), as well as re-visiting the Laci Peterson murder, exploring new podcasts, finding new ways to multi-task, and baking up a storm.
What upgrades did you make this week? Let us know in the comments.
Keep your headphones from becoming a snarled mess
I started wrapping up my headphone cords in a figure-8, so they don't tangle or twist. I recommend making a Spock hand instead of the devil's horns method we posted in 2006. And always put them in a pouch, or they WILL break.
Nick Douglas, Staff Writer
Go on a true crime TV bender
If you were enthralled by The People vs. OJ Simpson, then you're definitely going to be swept up in The Murder of Laci Peterson. If you didn't live through the news frenzy or didn't follow the story when it happened 15 years ago, this docuseries gives you all the terrible details, as well as a very interesting look at how the media covered it just as the US was entering the Iraq War. I mainlined it in one horrifying sitting.
Melissa Kirsch, Editor-in-Chief
Pile on the iPad accessories
My girlfriend just got me an Apple Smart Keyboard for my iPad Pro as a very early birthday present. I think it's great! The keys feel nice, it covers the screen, and it all can still fit in my leather carrying case along with my Apple Pencil. Now I don't have to travel with both my laptop AND my iPad Pro unless I'm doing something for work.
Patrick Allan, Staff Writer
Skip store-bought and make your own puff pastry
I don't know if this is cheating, but learning to make rough puff pastry was definitely an upgrade. Making your own with real butter rather than the store-bought, which is made with shortening, really does taste better. It isn't as puffy, but the palmiers I made with the homemade rough puff were next level, and really easy to make. You may want to cut down a bit on the butter, though.
Claire Lower, Food and Beverage Editor
Tame your tabs with a Tamagotchi
I've been using Tabagotchi, the Chrome extension that gives you a little Tamagotchi that you must try to keep alive by not opening too many tabs. It was fun at first, keeping it healthy and happy ("Yippee!" it says when your tabs are under control). But then over the course of the day (OK fine, the next five minutes), I kept killing it, which guilted me into closing some tabs and bringing it back to life. I like having it around. What else can virtual creatures help me do?
Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor
Simplify your USB setup with more cables
As the owner of a MacBook Pro outfitted entirely with USB-C ports, I have to say #DongleLife is really wearing me out. Most days involve me choosing which device to charge first, my iPhone, or my headphones. Considering Apple's USB-C multiport adaptor and its $99 price point, I'd much rather bite the bullet and outfit myself with some cables that have a USB-C connector so I can get with the times as painlessly as possible.
So I did. I bought two USB-C to Micro-USB cables, perfect for my Bluetooth headphones and my iPhone, usually protected by a battery case. The cables are short and let me ditch the adaptor more often, which is nice, but the lack of USB-C cables with Lightning connectors from a known brand at a reasonable price forces me to keep the bulky and awkward-looking dongle in my bag just in case I need to combine the past with the present. I'd much rather live in the future though, where cables don't cost an arm and a leg.
Patrick Austin, Staff Writer
Do a deep dive on the Mountain Goats
I have a new favourite podcast. It's a brand new podcast called I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats, which I discovered this morning. The guy from Night Vale interviews John Darnielle (singer/songwriter for the Mountain Goats) about his songs, one per episode. And then they have guests on, and everybody talks about what it's like to create awesome things. The first episode features John Green and they discuss the song The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton. The rest of the season will look at the other songs off the same album, 2001's All Hail West Texas.
Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor
Use your social time to multi-task
This almost feels too obvious to use for an upgrade, but I've been finding myself really squeezed for time lately, and as such, reimagining my approach to how I fit in things such as errands and catch-ups with friends.
In part inspired by Ada Calhoun's essay on staying friends in your 30s (the secret: Lower your expectations of what it means to hang out!), I've been seeing more friends in conjunction with activities such as furniture shopping, grabbing groceries, or picking up a million things at Target. I have to say, thus far I love it. We both feel like we're getting something done, and the conversation is just as fulfilling (and less foggy-headed the next day) as it would have been if we'd had several hours to spend over dinner and too much wine.
Granted, it's only a few pretty close friends that I feel comfortable asking "Wanna come take a walk after work and help me pick out new pharmacy eyeliner?" but it's a really nice way to break up the monotony of day-to-day to-dos, and also make sure I see the people I care about more than, say, once a month for a hangout we've already re-scheduled five times.
Virginia K. Smith, Managing Editor