Immune to Poison

While it’s more overtly driven by money than film or television, advertisement can be a great storytelling medium nonetheless. I love this spot each time it comes on, as it captures something essential about being a dude:

Definitely Clio-worty.

Mac Tools: Trip Mode

Like many people, I do a lot of my computing in coffee shops (and restaurants and bars), where wifi coverage is slow and spotty at best. As a result, I frequently tether my iPhone for use as a mobile hotspot.

The problem: I pay for bandwidth on the phone by gigabyte, and I have a slew of cloud services constantly sending and receiving files (say, backing up photos and videos) in the background, which drives up my usage.

Enter the simple app TripMode, which notes when you’re using your phone (or any other similarly designated slow / pay-per-byte / whatever networks) for access, and allows you to allow and disallow access individually, app by app.

TripMode runs $7.99 (or $6.99 while on pre-launch sale) and, if you’re like me, will very quickly pay for itself.


I’m a big fan of the Mobility WOD, Kelly Starrett’s smart and innovative approach to mobility, recovery and maximizing athletic performance.

Kelly kicked off the MWOD back in 2010, posting more than a year of short daily YouTube videos, each prescribing ten minutes of exercises to do that day. Whether stretches, rolling on lacrosse balls, or repositioning joints using plyo-bands, the stuff didn’t look like anything I’d seen, and it worked.

Using his material at the start of CrossFit classes, we managed to get people with tight shoulders into overhead or front rack positions they’d never achieved, managed to get tight-hipped folks squatting to full depth. And following Kelly’s advice myself helped me quickly rehab both a minor meniscus tear in one knee (athletic injury), and a broken bone in the other (subway accident injury).

Still, I always had difficulty recommending the MWOD, or Kelly’s subsequent book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, as a resource to people without a substantial kinesiology background. Kelly provided a lot of tools, and a lot of high level theory, but rarely straightforward solutions: ‘in case of problem x, do y and z.’

That’s why I’m particularly happy to see his newly-released Becoming a Supple Leopard 2.0. It completely reorganizes the content from his prior book around seven archetypal positions as the goals for good mobility, and lays out clear pathways towards achieving those goals, as well as clear options for addressing pain or injury at a given muscle or joint.

Alongside the release, he’s also put out a ’14 Day Mobility Challenge’, with two days of prescription each for the seven archetypes. If you’re a CrossFitter, an athlete in general, or just want to move better, check it out. In fact, you could probably get several months of progress just by repeating that two week cycle a few times through.

Thereafter, get the book. It’s a great resource, and an even more accessible one in version 2.0.

Still Here

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
– Mark Twain


Jess and I buy a lot of our stuff from Amazon, as it’s far cheaper than neighborhood stores here in NYC. And, more broadly, we tend to do most of our shopping online, which is usually faster, more convenient and less expensive than our brick-and-mortar options.

Online prices change frequently, and sales and coupons have a Murphy’s Law-esque way of popping up the day after you need them. Fortunately, most sites will retroactively match lowered prices or sales and discounts if you email to ask. But, in reality, it’s almost impossible to keep up with deals on future purchases, much less past ones.

Enter Paribus, a great new site that chases those potential discounts for you. Connect Paribus with your email account, and it will catalogue your purchases, then keep an eye on whether they qualify for partial refunds down the line. If they do, Paribus’ team will follow up on your behalf. Paribus gets paid only if they find you refunds (they takes 25%, and send the other 75% your way), so there’s only upside to trying it out.

Sign up for Paribus, and get what you’re owed.

[I discovered Paribus through today’s Product Hunt email. If you like cool new stuff, head on over and sign up for their daily newsletter. Each morning, they send along a crowdsourced list of the coolest new software, hardware, books and courses in the tech world. It’s a fast way to stay on the bleeding edge.]


Friday evening, Jess and I drove out to Randall’s Island, the little patch under the Triborough bridge that houses the Manhattan Psychiatric Center and the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center for the criminally insane. This past weekend, appropriately enough, it also housed Frieze, New York’s largest contemporary art fair.

For three days, nearly 200 galleries from around the world set up shop in a long, serpentine, tent-like building, displaying their priciest, most inscrutable pieces on white pop-up gallery walls. A few of the pieces were spectacular (we coveted a pair of large Alex Katz’s in particular), and a handful were disturbing, thought-provoking or funny in memorable ways.

But, by and large, the art was eclipsed by the crowd. Collect the arterati from New York, Berlin, Tokyo and beyond, and you have an amazing array of people all trying their hardest to look like they’re not trying hard at all. The ennui was palpable, and I spent most of the time with the Ben Folds Five’s Battle of Who Could Care Less stuck in my head. “Do you not hear me anymore / I know it’s cool to be so bored / I know it’s not your thing to care.”

Jess spent most of the time marveling at the clothing worn, most of it a far throw from the carefully-proscribed strictures of Fashion Week cool that she’s used to seeing. The dominant Frieze style appeared to be “expensive basics assembled mismatchingly by blind drunk”, though at least a few people also seemed to be wearing stuff pulled from Zoolander’s Derelicte.

Then, of course, there were the Milanese and Roman galleries, instead full of young men wearing impeccable suits with sprezzatura. Proving, as ever, that an excellent suit is never out of place. Or, at least, that we should all wish we were Italian.

Mac Tools: Satellite Eyes

This is a small one, though triggered by yesterday’s post. A handful of folks emailed to ask about the background behind the Alfred command bar, which is actually just a slice of my larger desktop background:

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 1.29.17 PM

It’s courtesy of Satellite Eyes, a small, fun piece of software that automatically sets your desktop to a map of wherever you are at the time. Thus, my background looks different all throughout the day, depending on whether I’m at home, work, or somewhere else in or out of NYC.

With a bunch of different map styles and levels of zoom, you can widely customize the exact look; I’m partial to ‘MapBox Terrain’ at ‘Neighborhood’ zoom, though your mileage may vary.

No a big one, but definitely a worthwhile bit of fun.

Mac Tools: Alfred

A recent study by Brainscape has shown that just learning keyboard shortcuts instead of mousing around the screen would save most computer users almost two full weeks of work time each year. I’m a big shortcut user (per my previous Gmail shortcuts post), though I also depend on a slew of free or cheap tools that similarly make my Mac far more pleasant and efficient. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be cataloguing the best of the bunch.

I spend that vast majority of my computer time in my web browser. But I also regularly dip into a number of other apps, as projects demand. Launching them the traditional way – going to the Finder, then opening the Applications folder, and double-clicking the app – is painfully slow. And Spotlight, the built in search functionality in OS X that also can launch apps, is underpowered and not much quicker.

Enter Alfred, a small app with a big impact. Once loaded, you can launch Alfred with a keystroke (by default, ‘command-space’), which loads an empty command bar, like this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 3.15.49 PM

Launching an app with Alfred is ridiculously easy. Just start typing the app’s name, then click enter once it appears:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 3.16.26 PM

You can also use Alfred to quickly open files the same way:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 3.17.05 PM

It works as a calculator, too. Just start typing an expression, and it automatically calculates the result:

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 3.18.12 PM

Alfred does far more than that, pulling info from contacts, managing iTunes, or saving prior cut-and-pastes from your clipboard. With custom workflows, you can add even more powerful behaviors – with just a few keystrokes, I can add a song on the current Spotify playlist to my saved files, for example.

In short, it’s a pretty deep rabbit hole. But in my experience, even if you never use it for anything more than app launcher, file-finder and quick calculator, it will already make your Mac wildly easier to use; enough so that you’ll chafe with irritation borrowing somebody else’s Mac that doesn’t have Alfred already enabled.

You can download Alfred free directly from creator Running with Crayons’ site.

Good Day Sunshine

A weekend of summery weather, and suddenly New Yorkers are outside in droves getting skin cancer.

Or at least that’s what my mom (and much of the US health establishment) would have you believe. UV rays are carcinogenic, so you should slather on sunscreen, wear a hat and stay inside. But like many health questions, the full story of sun exposure is more complicated than the basic soundbite.

For example, on the one hand, childhood severe sunburns are associated with an increased risk of melanoma. On the other, people who work outside with a lot of sun exposure (like farmers or fishermen) actually have lower melanoma rates than indoor workers, and better prognoses when they do have melanomas.

You can find a bunch of similar evidence in both directions, because there’s an inherent trade-off in staying out of the sun. UV rays damage skin cells’ DNA, making cancers more likely. But they also help your body create vitamin D, which protects against cancer, and is hugely important to your health in a slew of other ways.

Being healthy, then, involves a Goldilocks approach to sun: not too much, but not too little, either. And in recent years, the pendulum has swung far into the shade. Enough so that scientists behind a recent literature review concluded that we need more UV:

“The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased [melanoma] risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure.”

So what should we do? According to the research, being tan is healthy, but getting tan is less so, and getting sunburned is terrible. So ease yourself into the summer. You want small, regular doses of sun initially, so you can begin to tan slowly and as safely as possible. Then make sure you’re out in the sun consistently throughout the summer. Use sunscreen and cover-ups sufficient to make sure you never burn, but not so much that you reach fall as pasty-white as you doubtless are right now.

It’s Alive!

Jess and her colleagues (plus me as web-design intern and fabric-carrying gopher) just launched Dobbin’s Spring / Summer ’15 line.

They’ve built a hugely loyal customer-base, and have been growing quickly from one season to the next. If you want to try them out, head on over today; shipping is free both ways, and popular sizes sell out fast.