The Weekender, November 6, 2020


Today, I’m starting something completely different.

We’re going to send each other gifts. Secret Santa-style.

(I have no idea if this is going to work.)

The short version:

  1. Click this link to sign up. You have until November 19th to do so. You will need to create an account on Elfster.
  2. Create a Wishlist. Apparently, I can’t link directly to that, but there’s a “Wishlists” link on the top of the page after you register.
  3. On or around November 20th, I’ll hit some button on that website and you’ll be matched with another person. 
  4. Send that person a gift on or before December 13th. Use their wishlist for guidance!
  5. Receive a gift from whoever matched with you, likely on or after December 13th.

The longer version:

In January, I set forth some goals for the newsletter. One of them was to “figure out better ways to make Now I Know a force for good.” I don’t think that’s limited to charity work, either. Spreading joy in different ways can be part of that, and who doesn’t like getting an unexpected surprise in the mail?

Realistically, I can’t mail out thousands of things to thousands of you — beyond being too expensive, I don’t have your mailing address. (I did investigate doing a Cards Against Humanity-style weird-mail thing, but it’s just not something I can do myself.) But then I remembered that there’s this website called Elfster which does all the Secret Santa matching work for you. I create the page, you sign up, we send each other gifts. Simple, right?

So, I’m asking you to help me make that happen. I’ve set a suggested gift limit value at $15 but it really is the thought that counts. Let’s see if this works!

Sign up here.


(I really hope this works.)

The Now I Know Week in Review

MondayNo Sleep Until a Week From Friday. Do not try this at home.

TuesdayThe Doctor with a Vision for Vision: Bringing sight to tens of thousands. 

Wednesday: Window Pains: Birds don’t like glass. Or, they really like glass. Either way, it’s a bad mix.

Thursday: When Ice Was a Hot Gift: Despite this story, please do not send anyone ice as their Secret Santa gift.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “A Nameless Hiker and the Case the Internet Can’t Crack” (Wired, 14 minutes, November 2020). The subhead: “The man on the trail went by ‘Mostly Harmless.’ He was friendly and said he worked in tech. After he died in his tent, no one could figure out who he was.”

2) “It Might Be Time to Update the Old ‘Alfa-Bravo-Charlie’ Spelling Alphabet” (Atlas Obscura, 9 minutes, July 2019). I only came across this a couple of days ago, but the timing was perfect. I had just gotten off a (very long) tech support call and the serial number of the product in question was also very long. I spoke to a few different agents and each time had to use a word to replace a letter, and never once did I use Alfa, Bravo, or Charlie. (I used A as in Apple, B as in Boy, and there were no Cs on the serial number.) Having an updated spelling alphabet would be great.

3) “An Oral History of ‘Marge vs The Monorail’, the Episode That Changed ‘The Simpsons’” (Vice, 19 minutes, November 2020). Say it with me: Monorail. Or even better, “M” as in “Monorail.”

Have a great weekend!