Our Favorite Things of 2020

To say the least, 2020 has been a weird year...

Since March, the Health & Wealth Bulletin team has worked from home. And like many Americans, we don't know when we'll be going back to the office.

While the rest of the world has seemed crazy, we've tried to keep things running normal here for you, our loyal readers.

One of our annual traditions is sharing our favorite things of the year with you. These are all things we've liked, used, and purchased ourselves. As with everything we do here, we want to give you all the information we can to empower you to take control of your life.

And if you've already finished your shopping, why not get a little something for yourself?

My (Doc's) Picks

Last year, I recommended a Champagne stopper to keep your bubbly fresh after opening it. In keeping with that theme, you also should have Vacu Vin Wine Saver Pump. It has allowed me to open a few more bottles, even if it's just a couple of people drinking wine. I can take 4 to 5 ounces out for two glasses at a time and do it again later. The Vacu Vin hand-pumps out most of the air and creates a vacuum in the wine bottle for at least a week or so.

Another thing I love this time of year is getting a new set of wiper blades... The older I get, the more I appreciate the clean swipe on foggy, cold, icy, rainy, or snowy nights... And nothing helps more per dollar spent than new wiper blades!

I'm also giving (spoiler alert) the book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor to friends and family this year. He's a longtime popular science writer and this work he has done on breathing is easily one of the top scientific writings I've read in the last decade. I'll have to trust but verify some of the science... but most of it so far explains so much that was missing for me in medical school and medicine, especially for patients in the ICU and respirator usage in critical care.

Our franchise manager, Laura

Getting outside for fresh air and sunshine has been more important than ever during the pandemic. But when the weather turns bad, it can be tough to get your exercise in. That's why I've used Peloton for most of this year. Peloton is a fitness company that sells equipment and offers classes live (pre-COVID-19), and online. You can take classes live or peruse Peloton's fitness class library, which has thousands of classes for running, yoga, strength training, cycling, and more. And don't worry... you don't need to drop a couple grand on a Peloton-branded treadmill or exercise bike. A digital membership costs just $12.99 a month. The app works on iOS and Android devices. Many smart TVs also offer the Peloton app. I use mine through a Roku device.

Once you've gotten your exercise in for the day, you can settle down with a good book. One of my favorites this year was Robert Kurson's Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon. Apollo 8 is often overlooked, thanks to the more famous flights of Apollo 11 and Apollo 13. But Kurson's gripping narrative explores the extreme dangers of space flight, what the first astronauts risked, and why it was so important for America to beat Russia to the moon.

Our senior analyst, Matt

If you're working from home, it's time to ditch the headphones and upgrade your audio. I added this Klipsch Heritage Tabletop Stereo to my home office to keep the music flowing and give my ears a break from damaging headphone noise. It connects via Bluetooth or audio cable, and the sound quality is stellar for the money. Plus, it looks beautiful on any shelf.

And while you listen to music, my favorite book this year was The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King. This 2013 biography tells the story of Sam Zemurray, a self-made immigrant who went from peddling bananas from a train car, to orchestrating government coups in the tropics to benefit his business. (It's where the term "Banana Republic" comes from.) Eventually, he even took charge of his biggest competitor, United Fruit.

The book tells the story of a different (and dirtier) era in business, and one guy who just wouldn't stop.

Our junior analyst, Jeff

Don't be fooled by the pros who make it look easy on TV... Golf is a tough game. But it's one of my favorite pastimes, like many of you, I'm sure. I love being outdoors and trying to get better every time I get on the course. I've been playing consistently for almost a decade and I always struggled with my putting. Recently, one thing that helped me cut down on my three-putts (and frustration) was getting a bigger grip on my putter. With a bigger grip, my fingers don't wrap around each other like they do on a normal grip, and I noticed it helps me reduce movement in my hands and wrists. This is the grip I bought.

Our assistant managing editor, Brady

Every time I've heard someone stressed out by a low cellphone battery, or seen them scour malls or airports for power outlets, I've always had the same thought... You just need a portable charger.

These pocket-friendly bricks, also called power banks, are almost like spare batteries for your phone or tablet. Mine has enough capacity to recharge my phone at least twice, and I carry it with me when I'm traveling, or if I'm out all day and know my battery might run low. And while these scenarios haven't come up so much this past year, I've also used my portable charger to keep my phone alive during power outages.

Here's one example of a well-reviewed portable charger, but you'll find lots to choose from on Amazon.

And if you're looking for some reading material, an author I've read a lot this year is Erik Larson. He's a historian who takes incredibly detailed dives into consequential but often-overlooked historical figures and events.

I can wholeheartedly recommend Isaac's Storm, about the deadliest natural disaster in American history: a hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas in 1900... Dead Wake, about the sinking of the Lusitania... and Devil in the White City, about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a serial killer who thrived in its shadow.

Our health and wellness researcher, Misha

Mirrorless cameras – lighter and smaller than the well-known and well-used DSLRs, their mirrorless technology allows you to carry your camera anywhere. With the versatile and movable LCD screen, you don't need to bring your eye to the viewfinder to see your images before pressing the shutter. Sony is leading the pack because its cameras offer the best price for what you're getting. The Sony A6600 has been a great friend and travel companion this year.

I can't get enough of my book stand. I actually bought a second one recently so that I could prop two books open at once and refer to them simultaneously. I prefer the kind with metal arms that will hold my pages in place. They also have an adjustable back to position my reading material at a number of angles.

I could not live without my foam roller. My back and hips get really kinked up throughout the day and rolling them out with that has been a lifesaver. For just a few dollars on Amazon or any yoga equipment shop, you too can reap the benefits of this game-changer. I can roll out all my bad posture knots in a matter of seconds with my foam roller. I always travel with it and never regret it.

What were some of your favorite things this year – books, music, tech? We'd love to hear from you... [email protected].

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
December 10, 2020