Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions is the only economics book that didn’t make me feel like I was in over my head when I was reading it. The idea behind it is that although basic economic theory assumes that people will always make rational decisions, behavioral economics shows otherwise. These conclusions are backed by data, and I enjoyed reading about each experiment performed for the data gathering. I liked that the book focused on economic decisions, so the discussions were geared towards business applications. (It’s harder to appreciate topics that are too general.)

The icing on the cake is that Ariely is a great narrator. He comes off as someone personable and genuinely curious that I feel like I’m listening to (or reading from) an excited friend talking about his discoveries and not some uptight dude showing off that he knows more than I do. However, since the book was published more than ten years ago, some of the references are no longer familiar to the mainstream. (Do people even remember the time when BlackBerry was all the rage?)

On that note, I did read the revised and expanded edition, which had additional notes from Ariely since the book’s original publication. I liked the additional insights and the anecdotes from his correspondents. Nevertheless, the concepts presented in the book are timeless, and Predictably Irrational was still a worthwhile read in 2021.

Happy Gardenversary!

It’s March 2021, which means Metro Manila has been under quarantine for a full year already. (To clarify, all of the ECQ-MECQ-GCQ-MGCQ programs end with -Q for quarantine.) On the bright side, this also marks one year of exploring hobbies that can be done at home.

One such hobby was gardening. My interest started when I began working from home and finally spent enough time at home to appreciate the ornamental plants my mom left in my care. Prior to the quarantine, I only begrudgingly watered the plants once a week. It was more a chore than anything—I realize now that for someone who didn’t care for plants, I had a fair number of plants in my care at the time.

Particularly, I started off with:

  • Golden pothos
  • Monstera adansonii
  • Fiddle leaf fig
  • Victory plant
  • Spider plant
  • Bacularis snake plant

As I stared at the plants during my downtime, I realized that I did like the pop of color they added to my space. Fast forward to quarantime: my mom and I discovered online plant sellers, and my mom ordered us a buttload of plants. And it was all downhill from there: I collected more plants and learned to propagate them. I also made new (online) friends with whom I traded plants and care tips and shared pictures of new acquisitions.

I want to say that I no longer shop for more plants, but occasionally I see a pretty plant for cheap, and I pounce. However, I have reached a point where I’ve begun decluttering the plants from my personal collection, which is a feat—self-control is hard. There is only so much space for plants…

So where are we today? I have my favorite ornamental plants in my room:

  • Cebu blue
  • Calathea orbifolia
  • Monstera pinnatipartita
  • Monstera adansonii
  • Calathea manoa blush
  • Syngonium albo variegata

In my living room, I also (finally) have a monstera deliciosa—I found an affordable one on Instagram, so I’m set …for now, unless I find another affordable calathea. Basically, my plant collection has grown and will undoubtedly keep growing for as long as we remain in quarantine.

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

To date, Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories is the best story collection I have read. I loved reading (and being surprised by) the interconnected stories and characters in the collection. Since the stories revolved around the same characters, I felt like I got to know them more with each story I read. Even with my limited exposure to Russian history, there was just something about the way Marra writes that made me connect with each character and story. (My favorite character was Kolya, and my favorite story was that of Roman Markin.)

The progression through time added color to the collection, too. Had the stories focused only on one time period, the stories in the collection would have become boring or redundant by the third story. Instead, Marra entertained us with answers to “what happened next?” and “why was this important?” with each story, for which I am very grateful. He didn’t have to; after all, short stories stand on their own.

Suffice to say I am a fan of Anthony Marra. I read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena after stumbling upon it at my local indie bookstore a few years ago, and I was captivated by his writing. I purchased The Tsar of Love and Techno shortly after I read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. I look forward to seeing more of his works in bookstores (or, rather, at my local bookstore) and, of course, reading them myself.