You have something we want to do but don’t because you feel there is a big risk involved. You think: what if I fail? If you fail you fear you will a) be covered in shame b) lose out big c) have other bad things happen to you that you can’t even imagine you can cope with. No wonder you have been putting it off.
First of all, you can cope with pretty much anything. Second of all, there is a good and painless way to approach that thing you think is risky. It’s outlined nicely in this article and in that diagram. The article uses opening a restaurant as an example, but it could be applied to any big goal you have, from taking on a new job position to running a marathon.
In my own job, we deal with managing risk every day. We plan to deal with risk by taking the same method and applying it over and over. It is very effective professionally. It can be effective for you personally. Keep iterating until the thing that once seemed very risky now seems much less so.
(Image from a link to the article.)
American politics is about many things. One of the main things it is about is money. For a while it was believed that after the “Citizen United” case, the flood of money would almost guarantee whoever had the most money would win. Now it’s not just about what money can do, but what it cannot do.
As some states like Maine and South Carolina showed, vastly outspending the incumbent will not guarantee election: The Democrats Went All Out Against Susan Collins. Rural Maine Grimaced. – The New York Times. That’s not to say money is irrelevant. It’s just that it has limits. It’s no longer enough to bombard people with ads bought with all that money. You need to spend smarter. I am not sure if anyone in the US has that figured out.
Speaking of money, this article by Jamelle Bouie highlights the importance of money especially when it comes to low information voters: Opinion | A Simple Theory of Why Trump Did Well – The New York Times. High information voters might scoff at “Donnie Dollars” (cheques issued by the government with Trump’s name on them). But I agree with Bouie: things like that make a difference with many voters. People might not closely weigh one politician’s promises versus another, but they all remember the jobs and services and other benefits that the incumbents brought their way.
(Photo by Matthew Lancaster on Unsplash)
One of the better things that came out of the pandemic is this series of recipes published in the New York Times and written by Melissa Clark: From the Pantry – The New York Times.
I loved how each recipe is really a cooking lesson more than a step 1-2-3 recipe. By the time you made a dish, you can already imagine making it a dozen different ways with the suggestions she provides. That’s especially good for people who are not comfortable changing recipes around. If you are one of those people, you’ll be much more confident improvising with ingredients after you have made a few of these meals.
I also liked that the recipes really cover a range of meals, from breakfast to dinner, from salad and soup to dessert. Now that there is quite a few recipes listed here, you can pick and choose what suits you.
Finally, I like that the Times didn’t firewall off this content. Anyone can see the recipes: you don’t need a subscription to the Cooking section of the paper/website.
I highly recommend these recipes. Go use some and become a better cook.
(Photo by Nadia Pimenova on Unsplash)
I am sorry to (not) break this to you (since you know it already) but the pandemic is not going away soon. That’s bad. What’s good is it may be the right time to start a hobby. Here’s two links that can help:
- CrossFit, ceramics: 10 people on how much they spend on their hobbies – Vox
- How to Find a Hobby – Smarter Living Guides – The New York Times
The New York Times piece can help you find a hobby. And the Vox piece can give you an idea of what it might cost.
A hobby is a good thing to have and no one argues this better than Austin Kleon. To see what I mean, check out his writings on hobbies.
(Photo by Margarida Afonso on Unsplash)
Weight training has many benefits. If you have been considering it but balking, you likely have multiple reasons for not getting started. One reason might be: you have no time. Well, if you have thirteen minutes, you can do a weight workout. As noted here, In a Hurry? Try Express Weight Training – The New York Times, you can get stronger no matter what. Of three groups tested for strength gain:
One group was asked to complete five sets of each exercise, with about 90 seconds of rest between sets. Their total time for a session at the gym was almost 70 minutes. A second group was asked to complete three sets of each exercise, requiring they work out for about 40 minutes. The third group had to finish only one set of each exercise, meaning that they were done after a brisk 13 minutes. Each volunteer performed his given workout three times a week for eight weeks and then returned to the lab to repeat the muscle measurements. After the two months, all of the young men were stronger, a finding that, by itself, is beguiling, since it suggests that people can continue to gain strength even if they already are experienced at resistance training. But more interesting and surprising, the strength improvements were essentially the same, no matter how many — or few — sets the men completed. The men who had stopped after one set gained as much strength as those who had done five sets or three.
As with anything, your results may vary. But if you want to get stronger with the least amount of time put in, consider this.
You might think so if you read this piece in the New York Times.
It has definitely changed, just like so much has changed during the pandemic. I predict the weekend will come back in time. Meanwhile, consider ways to make you day / days different enough so that it doesn’t just feel like one big endless day. It will take some creativity, but it’s worth it.
Your weekend is coming up: find ways to make those days stand out from the others.
Gardening is a tricky hobby. I’ve always associated it with older people. Which makes some sense: if you go to a gardening center in spring, it will be packed mainly with old folks. This is a bad prejudice to have. As this article by Samin Nosrat showed me, gardening can be a great activity to help with one’s mental wellness.
Last winter I suffered a devastating bout of depression. Unable to do much else, I took to the neglected beds of the vegetable garden I share with my neighbors. Weeding and composting for hours a day, I was regenerating both the soil and something deep in myself. It felt so crucial to my well-being that sometimes I wore a headlamp to extend my work time past the waning daylight.
It’s worthwhile reading the entire article. She makes a great case for the goodness that gardening can do for you. After you finish it, you may want to rush out to a garden center and get started on your own garden and improved mental health.
(Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash)
I had some thoughts on the New York Times after reading this: It is possible to compete with the New York Times. Here’s how. – Columbia Journalism Review
In some ways, it confirms what I have long thought: the goal for some newspapers is not to be a regional or even national newspaper anymore: the goal now is to be a global one. The Daily Mail in the UK recognized that long ago. I know little of what they publish in the UK, I just know that they seem to be able to get a lot of people to read their online articles. In other words, they write locally but think globally. The same with the Guardian. And now I think the same is true for the Times.
The Times, according to the article, knows that most people are only going to subscribe to one paper. They want that paper to be the Times. And they seem to be winning this battle so far. Other papers might depend on click throughs, and no doubt the Times does too, but they also want to ensure that they have the one subscription you or your household pays for.
In some ways, the Times reminds me of a software company. They want to be the one platform you depend on and use every day. The way Facebook or Google or Amazon or Microsoft want to be the sole platform you use for information or social media or other essential IT.
I think there are ways to compete with the Times, just like there are ways to compete against those other behemoths. You can be a niche competitor. You can provide a deeper and richer experience tailored for a specific audience. You can be more nimble than they are. You can move to the future markets faster than they can.
None of these things are easy. But they are not impossible.
If you are in the news business, you need to learn how to compete with the New York Times. Because the Times is not going away and it is not getting smaller any time soon.
I am oddly fascinated by minimalism. It appeals to me, though I could never adopt it. Visually I like the look of minimalist places (like the one pictured above, from this piece, Goodbye things, hello minimalism: can living with less make you happier? | Books | The Guardian). But then I know I am terrible and I would be hanging pictures and adding furniture in no time.
I suspect the simplicity of it appeals to me too. So much less to manage. But then I would get bored of wearing the same clothes, like this:
Likewise, a kitchen with this many things in a drawer seems great. No clutter, no struggling to find things, or manage things
But then I think that a kitchen is a workshop and like any good workshop, you need supplies and tools to be effective.
So when I read pieces like this, about Japanese hardcore minimalist, it lures me in to thinking about it for awhile. Then that dream fades.
I am not as anti-minimalist as the author of this piece. But I think they raise some excellent points. Then again I have read the book Goodbye Things and thought it worthwhile.
I suspect that my odd fascinating with minimalism will live on for some time.
And the result, if you are a fan of French wines, is tragic: Of Wine, Hand Sanitizer and Heartbreak – The New York Times.
You can read it straight up, but it’s worth pondering what it tells us about our values right now, and what they were before. Times are tough in the pandemic era, for winemakers in particular as well as all of us in general.
(Image thanks to Sven Wilhelm).
Alan Parker just died. If you grew up in the last quarter of the 20th century, odds are very good you’ve seen one of his films, if not several. You may not even realized you did. He wasn’t a fan of the auteur idea of being a director, and that likely resulted in him not making films in a consistent way. Which is fine, since he made many a good film. The New York Times has done a wonderful thing and put together a list of some of his most well known films and where you can watch them online: Where to Stream Alan Parker’s Best Movies – The New York Times.
If you haven’t seen any of his films, now is your chance. Grab that list and go stream. I may rewatch “The Commitments”, one of the more enjoyable films from that time.
Keeping up with contemporary philosophy can be difficult for people who are not dedicated to it. Which is why I am happy to share news about The Stone over at the New York Times. As they describe it:
(The Stone is) A forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. The series moderator is Simon Critchley, who teaches philosophy at The New School for Social Research.
I read a number of good essays there. The ideas can be challenging, but the language used is not. Well worth checking out.
If your house is a bit of a mess right now, don’t beat yourself up. As this article showed me, it’s a pretty common problem: My House Has Not Kept Up With the Pandemic in The New York Times.
Now what you do about it is up to you. If you are fine with the mess, then fine. But if you are like me and the mess is getting to you after awhile, I recommend you start setting up a schedule to tackle it. Even bits at a time, starting with an area you can manage. You may find (like I did) that after you clean and tidy a bit, you feel better. Sure, no one may be visiting, but you’ll feel better, and that’s important too
It’s not good to be too confident with making pandemic assessment, but the evidence is that Sweden has failed in their approach to dealing with it. According to this, via Sweden Has Become the World’s Cautionary Tale – The New York Times:
This is what has happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better.
“They literally gained nothing,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”
The experiment was Lose-Lose: they suffered more deaths and their economy is worse off.
There is much to be learned from what happened in the Nordic countries. We are learning at the expense of the Swedish people. Read the article for more details.
What’s the eruv of Manhattan? Well according to the article below:
The eruv encircles much of Manhattan, acting as a symbolic boundary that turns the very public streets of the city into a private space, much like one’s own home. This allows people to freely communicate and socialize on the Sabbath—and carry whatever they please—without having to worry about breaking Jewish law.
Here’s a map of it:
You might think that it is hard to believe such a thing could last for long, but as this piece shows, it is diligently maintained.
I found this fascinating. There’s many interesting aspects of New York, but this is one of the better ones. For more on this, read: There’s a Wire Above Manhattan That You’ve Probably Never Noticed
I recommend you read this: ‘Feeling Like Death’: Inside a Houston Hospital Bracing for a Virus Peak – The New York Times.
Sure, your survival rates may be higher than someone much older than you. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t suffer intensively and be weakened for much longer in the future.
To be more resilient, be more like resilient people. And what makes them resilient? According to this: What Makes Some People More Resilient Than Others – The New York Times resilient people have the following qualities:
They have a positive, realistic outlook. They don’t dwell on negative information and instead look for opportunities in bleak situations, striving to find the positive within the negative.
They have a moral compass. Highly resilient people have a solid sense of what they consider right and wrong, and it tends to guide their decisions.
They have a belief in something greater than themselves. This is often found through religious or spiritual practices. The community support that comes from being part of a religion also enhances resilience.
They are altruistic; they have a concern for others and a degree of selflessness. They are often dedicated to causes they find meaningful and that give them a sense of purpose.
They accept what they cannot change and focus energy on what they can change. Dr. Southwick says resilient people reappraise a difficult situation and look for meaningful opportunities within it.
They have a mission, a meaning, a purpose. Feeling committed to a meaningful mission in life gives them courage and strength.
They have a social support system, and they support others. “Very few resilient people,” said Dr. Southwick, “go it alone.”
If you want to be more resilient, try and adopt those qualities.
Can be found here: How to Have Fewer Regrets – The New York Times
People will say they have few or no regrets. I wonder how challenged they were in life to be that way. Chances are you have more than a few regrets. That’s ok. Read the piece and things better about that.
For people struggling with their kids while they work from home, this piece from The New York Times in 2018 might help. I think a lot depends on the personality of the child, but for some of you, it just might be the thing you need. In a nutshell, they did this:
We devised a personalized morning checklist for each child — with their input. And we created a breakfast menu and a lunch menu, just like the ones they give you in hotels. We’re talking the works here. For breakfast the children can have cereal, muffins, eggs however they want, smoothies. You name it! And the lunch menu is equally expansive. Each night the kids complete their menus for the next day’s breakfast and lunch.
Then you need this article in the New York Times:
It has a wide range of gift ideas but more importantly, it will help you better think about what to get someone.
Don’t panic, you still have time!
And as someone who is a fan of it since a long time, I was glad to hear about it here: There’s a New iPod Touch. Yes, in 2019, and Yes, It’s Worth Looking at. – The New York Times
Back in the day when Blackberries were the rage and I needed one for work, the iPod Touch was my way of tapping into the world of Apple. Today if I had to use Android for whatever reason, I’d be inclined to get a Touch again, just so I could do things the Apple way. It’s a great device still, and if you read the article, you’ll see it is not obsolete.
Now if Apple would only bring back the Nano! 🙂
Is outlined here: Taxing the Wealthy Sounds Easy. It’s Not. – The New York Times.
It’s worth a read. It’s thoughtful, even if you may not agree with it. Also, just because something is not easy does not mean do not attempt it.
Taxing drives behaviour. My thought is drive behaviour in the right direction. Tell affluent people to use their wealth in directed ways that improve our society or tax them so that it can be done. If they disagree, then it is time to make explicit the social contracts in place and ask what has to be changed to make for a better society. Because for most societies in the world, including Canada’s, the social contract can be a lot better.
I highly highly recommend this: NYT Programs – Secure Your Digital Life in 7 (Easy) Days
You can never do enough to security your information technology, but the more you do, the better off you are.
Torontoians will find this interesting: Toronto’s astonishing growth: Will it matter to Buffalo? – The Buffalo News.
This was a key passage:
For Buffalo, the question now is whether Toronto’s “reimagining” might seep south of the border, as well. Smaller cities in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe are booming, too, thanks in part to Toronto’s spillover. And Toronto and Buffalo, incorporated two years and 100 miles apart, kept pace with each other until the 1950s, said the University of Toronto’s Bourne, who used to assign a project comparing the cities’ trajectories to his undergraduate students.
That history is interesting, Bourne said, because while Buffalo and Toronto share important characteristics, they suffered opposite fates: Buffalo shrinking with the sunset of the Erie Canal and Rust Belt manufacturing, and Toronto swelling when the Quebec separatist movement made it the favored home for Canada’s banks.
As late as the 1970s, Torontonians considered Buffalo a nightlife destination. Many of their restaurants still closed on Sundays and maintained separate male and female entrances.
Torontonians “would come to shop, they would come for jazz – Buffalo was the hive,” said UB’s Foster, who lived in Toronto for more than three decades. “But then people started going the other way, and that hasn’t changed.”
Years ago going to Buffalo for shopping was still a thing in Toronto: not sure it is now. Perhaps some people still go to watch the Buffalo Sabers play hockey. Perhaps the linkages between the two cities will become stronger over time and there will be a good proportion of Torontoians making Buffalo a destination again.
For Torontoians considering going to Buffalo, I recommend this piece in the New York Times.
(Image linked to the New York Times piece)
Easier said than done, I know. But worth addressing. And not impossible. Good luck! Anxiety may seem like a tiger, but it can also be a horse: you can get a grip on it, break it, and use it to your advantage even.
How to Harness Your Anxiety – The New York Times
This is a remarkable story of literally The World’s Fastest (Old) Man, via The New York Times.
It’s almost inconceivable someone in their 70s can be that fast, let alone setting records. Well worth reading for inspiration.
(Photo link: CreditKristian Thacker for The New York Times)
There was much concern from progressives when Gorsuch and then Kavanaugh joined the U.S. Supreme Court. It was believed by myself and others that the court was going to vote 5-4 in lock step on every option, with the 5 conservative judges routinely beating the four liberal ones.
If you are progressive, it is still a concern. But as these two pieces show, the Supremes vote more independently than you or I might think:
- The Supreme Court’s Biggest Decisions in 2019 – The New York Times
- The Supreme Court Might Have Three Swing Justices Now | FiveThirtyEight
This is not to say it is entire unpredictable how they will vote on matters before them. The liberal and conservative labels are convenient and often useful, but there’s much more to consider than just that when trying to determine how they will vote. Read the two pieces and see if they change your mind.
(Photo by Claire Anderson via unsplash.com)
Not for everyone visiting Paris, but if you want to see Paris in a way untypical of most visitors, consider this: Paris on Foot: 35 Miles, 6 Days and One Blistered Toe – The New York Times
For fans of NY back when, or people just curious about a very different New York then the current one, here’s a bunch of links worth reading:
Well, there’s a lot of options, if you go through this list: What to Do With a Day Off – The New York Times. My take is you can either tackle those things you have been putting off (hello! Finances!) or you can literally vacate your normal life and take it easy. Either is good. Better yet: consider being productive this time off and extra lazy the next time.
Enjoy your day. You deserve it.
A gentle program to get you out of your rut in 30 days can be found here: NYT Programs – 30-Day Well Challenge.
Recommended especially for people who are a) in a rut b) overwhelmed with other things to do.
I really liked a recent article about Ben Sisario, the New York Times reporter who covers the music industry. He is talking about what he uses to listen to music, and this quote jumped out at me, especially the part I put in bold.
(I) try to keep an eye on all the major platforms out there, which means regularly poking around on about a dozen apps. My go-to sources are Spotify, SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Mixcloud, which has excellent D.J.-style mixes and to me feels more human than most.
At home I have a Sonos Play:5 speaker, which plays streaming music and podcasts, and is a piece of cake to use. I also have Google Chromecast Audio, a little plug-in device (now discontinued) that allows me to send high-fidelity streams to my stereo. It sounds better that way, but it’s not nearly as easy to use as the Sonos.
To be honest, my preferred way to listen to music is on CD, as unfashionable as that might be. You push a button, the music plays, and then it’s over — no ads, no privacy terrors, no algorithms!
Like Ben, I started to listen to music on CDs again too. For a number of reasons:
- I have some great old CDs from labels like Deutsche Grammphon that I am never going to download again and which I don’t even want to listen to on Spotify.
- I find it satisfying to put on a CD, listen to it, and then it be over. I don’t want to listen to an infinite playlist all the time.
- I always worry that some day services like Spotify will simply trim their catalog and I will never be able to listen to that music easily again. For music I love, I want to own it outright.
- I worry about how what I listen to on Spotify is constantly fed into their analytic software – what people like to call their algorithm – to determine what I want to listen to. Some times I just want to listen to music in a different direction. I don’t want Spotify to start suggesting new music based on a whim.
- I don’t want Spotify or others to know everything about my listening choices. I think we all need a stealth mode for any services we use online.
I still love Spotify, but I don’t want to depend on Spotify to enjoy music.
That’s my two cents. For more on Ben, see: Why Play a Music CD? ‘No Ads, No Privacy Terrors, No Algorithms’ – The New York Times
This is a great read: The Widows of the Plaza Hotel – The New York Times.
If you love New York, hotels, stories of odd balls, and people sticking it to Donald Trump, you will want to read that story. I ate it up! 🙂
Then consider this: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Into Podcasts – The New York Times.
It doesn’t appeal to me, but podcasts are hot now, and if you want to give it a go, a good guide such as this one can help.
I accidentally went to Paul Krugman’s blog today and was surprised to see he ended it some time ago. To quote him:
A message for regular readers of this blog: unless something big breaks later today, this will be my last day blogging AT THIS SITE. The Times is consolidating the process, so future blog-like entries will show up at my regular columnist page. This should broaden the audience, a bit, maybe, and certainly make it easier for the Times to feature relevant posts.
I remember when the Times (and many other places) finally recognized blogging as a way of communicating and started a big section on their site to blogging.
Is blogging dead? Not really. It’s no longer what is what, but people are still blogging. Does it matter? No. Blogging is writing. Communicating via words on the Internet. We have all these tools and media to communicate. For a time, blogging and blogs were a way to share that writing. Now people are doing it other ways.
What matters is the writing. The format matters much less. I still like the blogging format, but what I like more is that so many people can communicate with others.
Meanwhile, here’s a link to Krugman’s blog: Economics and Politics by Paul Krugman – The Conscience of a Liberal – The New York Times
One way would be to go to this place: Barbetta. The New York Times has a fine story on it, here: The Elegant Relic of Restaurant Row. Even if you don’t intend to go, you’d be rewarded just reading the piece.
Love that photo by Dina Litovsky for The New York Times. The sign is “made of opal glass. A forerunner of neon, it is the last of its kind in the city…”. Fantastic.
These two interviews appeared in the New York Times in October and August and I was impressed by both of them, especially the first one below:
Seinfeld is smart and insightful and professional. He knows comedy and stand-up well and he’s thought a lot about it.