What can we learn from the obituaries of the not quite famous? I thought of that when I was reading the sad fate of Hash Halper, here: Hash Halper, Street Artist Who Adorned New York With Hearts, Dies at 41 – The New York Times.
Obituaries in big newspapers tend to be for the rich and famous and powerful and great. Mainly. But sometimes you read about someone who was none of those things, who was struggling, yet who affected people in a positive way. Someone like Hash Halper.
What we learn, perhaps, is that it doesn’t matter if you were rich and powerful. Bernie Madoff was rich and powerful. It didn’t make his life better or more worthwhile. Hash Halper did more good with his chalk hearts than Madoff did with all he had. In the end, it all washes away, save for the things you did to affect the lives of others.
We can learn many things from the obituaries of the not quite famous. Maybe we can learn/be reminded of what it is we want to do in the world, while we are here. That’s a very fine thing to learn indeed.
Rest in peace, Hash Halper.
(Image Kholood Eid for The New York Times, link)
I was skeptical of the idea of working out every day, but after I read this, I thought it was a good and achievable goal for a week: Midday Workout Habit — I Tried It: Working Out in the Middle of the Day. The key is to be open to change and not go hard every day. But if you can go harder, try it.
If you are thinking, “exercise? I can barely walk”, then choose walking to be your new fitness routine. If you need advice on that, read this: How to Keep a Fitness Streak — Turn Daily Walks into a Habit.
If you were walking before as exercise and you found it boring (confession, I did), here’s some advice on how to make it more interesting: The Joy of Steps: 20 Ways to Give Purpose to Your Daily Walk
If walking still isn’t your thing, then here’s a guide to finding something good to do: Keeping Fit: How to Do the Right Exercise for Your Age
Remember, you don’t normally have to exercise a lot. Indeed, this article encourages you to take a bit more than 10 minutes to get some benefits: Exercise 11 Minutes a Day for a Longer Life.
While 11 minutes is good to extend your life, if you want to lose weight, then read this: Exercise for Weight Loss: Aim for 300 Minutes a Week
Finally, whatever you do, remember this: Exercise Shouldn’t Feel Horrible
(Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash)
Affordable dining in Paris is possible, and the New York Times is on it.
For more, see: Three Courses, 20 Euros: The Affordable Dining Renaissance in Paris – The New York Times
If you are busy, or don’t feel like cooking much, or don’t have much in your fridge, then this pasta recipe is for you. It’s hard to believe something this simple could be so good, but it is. Lots of flavour with very few ingredients, ingredients you can have in your pantry.
Give it a try, especially when you are short of time, money, or food.
The photo is of the dish I whipped up one night.
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.
This piece, Opinion | Still Haunted by Grocery Shopping in the 1980s – The New York Times, by a Brazilian economist highlights the emotional scars that economic hardship has on a person. Key quote for me was this:
Research has found that children living in poverty are at increased risk of difficulties with self-regulation and executive function, such as inattention, impulsivity, defiance and poor peer relationships. It takes generations until society fully heals from periods of deep instability. A study in the early 2010s showed that Germans were more worried about inflation than about developing a life-threatening disease such as cancer; hyperinflation in the country ended almost 100 years ago.
Not only does it touch people individually, but you could make the case that it gets embedded into the culture. Germans are still worrying about inflation! Indeed, I remember my mom telling me how the Great Depression affected her mother to the point that she adopted behaviors she could never shake, not matter how much she had in the future.
Economics can seem dry, especially when people focus on numbers. But those numbers paper over how people are really affected. What is the emotional impact of high (or low) unemployment? What do we see happening in the culture when housing becomes unaffordable or work impossible to get. The numbers are an essential part of the story but they are also just the start of the story.
If you are uncomfortable asking for help, read this: How to Ask for Help and Actually Get It – The New York Times. After you read it, write out the type of help you need and use the article’s guidelines to insure your request for help is more effective.
We all need help from time to time. Read that and you will be more effective in getting the help you need.
One last thought: show appreciation before, during and after someone helped you. Even if they say it is no big deal to help. If for no other reason, it acknowledges the effort someone has taken to help you.
Get help. Your life will get better as a result. And the people who help you will often feel better about themselves for helping you, so you are helping them too.
I hadn’t seen this before, but for fans of the artist, this is a must view: The Unknown Notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat – The New York Times.
I love everything about NYC in the 80s, and I especially like this.
Well worth a visit to see them here: nyti.ms/2JgMZwR. The photos are great and how he goes about taking them is also a good read.
The Met Gala recently completed as it does every year, and it seems to draw more and more attention. Part charity event, part costume spectacle, it is a parade of fame and fortune and costume.
Yet even if you could afford the $30,000 for one ticket, you can’t necessarily get one. As this piece illustrates, there’s alot more to it than that.
Sure if you are Rhianna, you pretty much get to go the front of the line. For anyone else, reading the article in the New York Times will tell you all you need to know about this event.
Easy! Just follow these three simple steps:
- Apply for one of the 250 permits the museum gives out each year.
- Bring your supplies and stand in front of the painting you want to copy. You can do this most days in the months of September through June from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Start painting.
Ok, it’s not quite that easy. Even if you can perfectly reproduce the work you stand before, the staff of the Louvre take steps to insure no one mistakes your work for the original, as this NYTimes article points out. For example, in this article, they made sure that the copyists used
canvases that were one-fifth smaller or larger than the original, and that the original artists’ signatures were not reproduced on the copies. Then (the staff) stamped the backs of the canvases with a Louvre seal, added (the staff’s) own signature and escorted (the copyists) from the museum.
It’s a fine article highlighting a great tradition of the Louvre: well worth reading.
(Photo by IVAN GUILBERT / COSMOS and linked to in the article)
What this piece in the New York Times says is the truth about tiny homes is really true about living in any small space, be it a tiny home or a very small apartment or condo. I liked this article because it mentioned things you might not think of, such as how ordinary objects which are not noticeable in bigger spaces become significant in larger spaces. Anyone thinking of downsizing should read this piece.
I still think there are lots of benefits in living in a small space. And some of them, like the one above from inhabitat.com, are gorgeous. But yeah, onions and laundry baskets. 🙂
I find Caro a fascinating person and this portrait of him in this Paris Review interview is well worth reading: Paris Review – Robert Caro, The Art of Biography No. 5.
It’s worth comparing it to this piece on him in the New York Times that talks about his routine, including how he goes to a separate office in Manhattan just to work and that he wears formal business attire to do so. A rare life writing about another rare life.
The story of Bleecker Street’s Swerve From Luxe Shops to Vacant Stores in the NYTimes is one playing out in many cities throughout the world, though perhaps not as extreme as this. It’s a big problem when money comes flooding into neighborhoods and cities, disrupting the people that live there, and making those areas unlivable in some cases. Most people need somewhat stable places to live, but unstable social systems (capitalist or otherwise) can make that difficult unless other social systems (like local governments) come in and press back against such instability. As more of the world moves from rural to urban areas, the tools to make streets and cities livable need to be developed and put to use.
Anyone living in a growing city needs to read this piece. Recommended.
(PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS MOTTALINI FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)
For some time, I have been complaining that cappuccinos have evolved into something I call “latte-ccinos”, which is a drink that is somewhere between a latte and a cappuccino. Good to see that the New York Times has a piece on it highlighting the sad state of North American coffee and in particular the sham cappuccinos now commonly served.
But what is a true cappuccino? As the Times points out, there is a debate about what it is:
There was a time when cappuccino was easy to identify. It was a shot of espresso with steamed milk and a meringue-like milk foam on top. … “In the U.S., cappuccino are small, medium and large, and that actually doesn’t exist,” the food and coffee writer Oliver Strand said. “Cappuccino is basically a four-ounce drink.” … Others cling to old-school notions of what makes a cappuccino, with the layering of ingredients as the main thing. “The goal is to serve three distinct layers: caffè, hot milk and frothy (not dense) foam,” the chef and writer Mario Batali wrote in an email. “But to drink it Italian style, it will be stirred so that the three stratum come together as one.”
I agree with Strand: a cappuccino should be a small drink and the espresso, milk and foam proportional.. If you want a bigger drink, get a latte. And if you want a true cappuccino, find a good Italian establishment — in Toronto, Grano’s makes a superb one — and get your fix there.
For more on this, see: Is That Cappuccino You’re Drinking Really a Cappuccino? – The New York Times. The photo above is a link to that article.
This piece, The Selfish Side of Gratitude – The New York Times, is a scathing attack on gratitude by Ehrenreich. She makes some good points, but overall the writing is so dismissive, from the references to yoga mats to the numerous quotation marks around so many things, that I didn’t find it persuasive. No doubt some abuse the notion of being grateful, but I think there is more too it than a form of evasion. Read it and see if you agree.
My criticism of gratitude is smaller. My problem with the notion is that it isn’t as useful for me. I think there are better words for expressing how I feel, like glad or appreciative. Gratitude in the context of other people is subservient. I do not look down on the people who provide me a service, nor do I think they should think themselves somehow superior. Likewise if I do something for you, I don’t expect you to be grateful: if you are appreciative, that’s enough. And gratitude for certain aspects of nature or the universe make no sense if you are not religious.
There are people who I am grateful towards. Most of the time I can use other words to describe my feelings toward them and what they do. Grateful and gratitude are two words that should be used less often.
This is the first I’ve heard of a major failure for Uber: Uber’s No-Holds-Barred Expansion Strategy Fizzles in Germany from The New York Times. The focus is the city of Frankfurt, but in other cities in Germany and cities elsewhere throughout Europe, Uber seems to be getting serious push back. It seems tactics that have worked well in North American cities (and likely elsewhere) are backfiring in the cities mentioned. Whether you love Uber or hate it, this NYT story is worth reading.
It looks like the Fed in the US is going to raise rates. It is highly arguable whether it is a good idea. For a long time, it was a bad idea. Despite that, commercial banks recently have been arguing for the Fed to raise rates. Now whatever reasons they have been given, the true and underlying reason is mentioned here: Why Bankers Want Rate Hikes – The New York Times.
It is more difficult for banks to make money with lower rates. Higher rates make it easier for them to make money. Hence the push by some of them to raise the rates.
Banks aren’t stupid: they don’t want the economy to tank: they don’t make money that way either. But the sooner rates rise, the easier it is for them. Here’s hoping the US Fed continues to be smart enough to resist the pressure and do the right thing for the American economy.
I think these rules are about the best thing I have seen on how to eat: Simple Rules for Healthy Eating – NYTimes.com.
To make it even simpler, I would boil them down to:
1) Eat less processed food, and more food you make yourself from raw ingredients
2) Eat a variety of ingredients in moderation
3) If you have to drink something, drink water
I recommend you read the NYTimes piece, though. Really good.
Is Eleven Madison Park the best restaurant in NYC? If you read this, Restaurant Review: Eleven Madison Park in Midtown South – NYTimes.com, you’d be inclined to think so. Regardless, it is excellent and worthy of considering a visit.
But what if you want to experience the place without having to go through the tasting menu? Worse, what if you don’t have a reservation. Well then, you need this: How to Eat at Eleven Madison Park With No Reservation and No Tasting Menu — Grub Street.
I can’t promise that will work, but it is worth considering if you want to casually experience some of the best Manhattan has to offer.
The NYtimes has a good piece on new dietary guidelines and why they are changing from what you were used to: Behind New Dietary Guidelines, Better Science – NYTimes.com. You will likely be surprised by some or all of it.
Some people have very serious and specific dietary needs, and if that is the case, consulting your doctor is the best thing to do. For others, the best advice may be the most common sensical, which is to eat a wide variety of food in moderation.
At the nytimes.com is a article on movies on flash drives. It’s a good example of how not to think about the future. It’s essentially a list of points arguing against movies on flash drives. And what are the points?
1) it’s hard to make money from it
2) flash drives are too expensive
3) you have to have every movie on a separate card
4) People like buying things
5) It would take too long to download a movie onto flash
None of these hold water. 1) Movie viewers don’t care if it is hard to make money from it: ask the music business. 2) They may be expensive now, but watch chip makers gear up if they see there is demand for them: they will get cheap soon. 3) This is just an assumption: there are many delivery models to choose from. 4) This one is laughable on so many levels, it’s not worth arguing. 5) This is in line with number 3: again, delivery models will take care of this.
And the line: “And by that time, the technological, business and social problems of downloading movies are likely to be solved.” Well, that is pure: stick your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. The problem – at least it is a problem for the movie business – is that the movie business will be in the same boat that the music business is in very soon. It’s part way there already. Moore’s Law will get it all the way there.
Read the article Buying Movies on Flash Drives: Nice Idea That Doesn’t Work – Bits – Technology – New York Times Blog and see what you think.
(Image from wikipedia)