Odd Indeed

[And also, just because I love this:]


I purged my closets in the move, and ended up eBaying off a bunch of odds and ends. It’s a painless process, until you then have to actually pack and ship the stuff you just sold.

Fortunately, I discovered the app Shyp, which makes shipping as easy as listing items in the first place. Enter the destination addresses, shoot photos of the items, and for a $5 flat fee, the company will send someone to pick everything up, pack it, and send it off via the cheapest carrier option available.

It’s a smart business model, as the $5 fee is just supplementary income for the company, which makes most of its money on the arbitrage between the retail shipping price and the discounted price they pay based on their high shipping volume. Thus, the cost to ship is the same as you’d pay at the post office or UPS, and packing labor and supplies are free. That makes shipping cheaper than doing it yourself (as you’d otherwise have to buy those packing supplies), while still making enough money to keep the company profitably around for the long haul. Or, at least, that’s my hope, as I don’t want to have to go back to the prior process of packing, schlepping and sending myself.


Over the past few months, I’ve been leaving my phone in my bag more often. A week back, I stopped sleeping with it in my bedroom, and I’m now considering ditching my Apple watch in favor of my analog Omega.

Basically, this:

Watch This

After eleven years of CrossFitting, it’s rare for me to find some genuinely new, extremely thought-provoking ideas on improving programming. If you’re a CrossFitter, you should definitely be following Julien Pineau of Strongfit. His two-part interview on Barbell Shrugged is more than worth your time:


Over the last few weeks, I’ve been intermittently binge-watching prior seasons of Hannibal. Mads Mikkelsen is amazing as the titular character, and though he may be cooking up people, he does so with aplomb; the finished dishes are presented as some of the best on-screen food porn since Big Night and Babette’s Feast.

In the show, Hannibal eats in Continental style – fork permanently in left hand, knife permanently in right – rather than in the American, zig-zag style – switching the fork back and forth for cutting and eating. It seemed a touch of daily class, an appealingly small yet snotty marker of good taste. So, for the past few days, I’ve been trying to eat Continental myself.

Much like with a Dvorak keyboard, it turns out there’s a gap between theoretical efficiency and practical incompetence. Normally, I can get the food from plate to mouth without conscious thought; now, it takes all kinds of concentration, and still ends a bit of a mess. But for the next week or two at least, I think I’m sticking with it. Hannibal would be proud.

Good Day, Sunshine

The bedroom of my apartment opens onto a small balcony, with a glass door under a glass transom next to a large window. Because of the unique layout, it’s taken quite a while to figure out a blinds / shades solution that might work. And, in the interim, I’ve woken every morning at 6:00am, to the bright sun streaming in.

Left to my own devices, I’d normally sleep until 8:00 or so, and it’s amazing how much you can accomplish with a couple extra hours to your morning. Bedtime habits die hard, however, and I’ve therefore been staying up much too late (something I’d already been guilty of relative to an 8:00am wakeup) and reliably short-sleeping.

Turns out, four hours of sleep, for weeks at a time, isn’t really ideal. I’m hoping to get the blinds in shortly, lest my life start turning into an episode of The Walking Dead.


“If you are caught unprepared by a sudden rainstorm, you should not run foolishly down the road or hide under the eves of houses. You are going to get soaked either way. Accept that from the beginning and go on your way. This way you will not be distressed by a little rain. Apply this lesson to everything.”

Give me Liberty

Yesterday afternoon, on a bit of a whim, I decided to head down to the southern tip of Manhattan, to ferry out to Liberty and Ellis Islands. I’ve been in NYC for nearly 15 years, but had somehow missed that key tourist undertaking previously, and it seemed like it was worth crossing off my list.

I often forget that Manhattan is an island. But as we pulled away, looking back, I felt a twinge of homesickness for those 22 square miles.


Looking ahead, we could see Lady Liberty, holding court over New York Harbor.


The hallmark of great design is something that doesn’t just look beautiful, but something that looks even more beautiful in the context for which it’s designed. Gliding by, the Statue of Liberty is an imposing and amazing sight.


Even better, she offsets the Financial District with impressive balance, particularly considering how much that landscape has changed since 1875.


Strangely, the statue was least imposing from up close. Perhaps it’s the size of the base as compared to the statue, but she actually seemed smaller from feet away than from across a stretch of water.


Still, Liberty Island made for yet another impressive city view.


After admiring for a while, and declining the purchase of Statue of Liberty snow globes, figurines, headpieces, etc., in the large and bustling gift shop, I hopped the next ferry over to Ellis Island.

Ellis was the real purpose of my trip, as my family on both sides (a varied and motley collection of Eastern European Jews) emigrated through Ellis, before settling in NYC.

I tried to imagine what it would have been like for all of them, passing through the Registry Room, where they first became Americans. It kind of made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

The Registry Room is also where I became a Newman.

On the ride to NYC, my paternal great-grandfather (and the family member, I’m told, who in many ways I most resemble) was still Max Menachem Naumann. He explained as much to the immigration official. Max worked. But Menachem didn’t parse, so the middle name was redacted simply to the letter M. (With a period. Though without standing for anything, apparently.) Similarly, Naumann got Americanized to Newman.

It was through the back doors of the registry room that Max M. Newman headed out into New York life.


You can find him on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor, a monument just behind the museum.


As you can find my maternal great-grandfather, Aaron Turkewitz (in whose memory my mother was given the middle name Ann) and his family.


The names are inscribed onto large metal plaques.


Which are in turn arranged into a large, gracefully curving circle.


Like nearly everything else on Liberty and Ellis Islands, the monument overlooked a wonderful New York skyline view.


Slightly sunburned, I waited in line one more time, to ferry back to my Manhattan home. As the city grew nearer over the choppy harbor surf, I was reminded once again: I really do ♡ NYC.


Entrepreneur Time

For the last twenty years, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with time management, reading nearly everything I can find on the topic. By now, it’s rare that I find something that seems genuinely new. And it’s even rarer still when it’s something new that actually works.

Over the past year, I’ve heard several times about Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach, a business-development program for entrepreneurs. Most of Sullivan’s material seems better suited to solo entrepreneurs, or to entrepreneurs with small companies that grow out of consulting-style practices, like financial advisors or small financial advisory firms. And, frankly, it didn’t much impress me.

However, Sullivan does have a unique time management approach, which he calls the Entrepreneurial Time Management System. (Here’s one of several summaries.)

In short, the system involves breaking your week into three kinds of days: Free days, Focus days and Buffer days.

Free days are just that: days free from work. From midnight to midnight, there’s no business thinking or doing. No checking email, no managing crises, no work at all. While the first step is to make each weekend an inviolate pair of free days, Sullivan himself apparently shoots for 150 free days a year. Which, by my math, means he’s off every weekend, and takes a full week away two out of every three months. On free days, I power down my laptop and leave it in a drawer, turn off email notifications on my phone, and generally try to enjoy life.

Focus days, in turn, are those where you spend at least 80% of your time on things that meaningfully push your business forward. Email and other interruptions are still kept to a minimum, with your time instead in areas of your ‘personal genius’, the things that you do best that make the greatest contribution to your company’s bottom line. If I were running a gym, for example, I might focus on developing new programs, pushing new marketing initiatives, or interacting with clients.

Finally, there are Buffer days – your chance to get current on email and all the myriad small tasks (like accounting or staff training) that otherwise gum up the works and keep you from focusing uninterruptedly on the big-chunk work that really matters. By fire-walling that kind of work on Focus days (which seem to run on ‘maker’ time, and involve long stretches of, well, focus), you can then feel good about getting basically none of that big-picture work done on Buffer days, instead batching and banging through the detritus of your to-do list.

In fact, I’ve actually taken to keeping three different to-do lists, one for each kind of day. Museum exhibit I want to see: free day list. New content I need to develop: focus. Switching health insurance providers, consolidating old tax material files and sorting the contents of the overflowing junk drawer: all buffer.

Currently, I make Monday, Wednesday and Friday Focus days, and Buffer on Tuesday and Thursday. That leaves Saturday and Sunday Free, with the goal of taking at least a long weekend or two built by appending Friday (and potentially even Thursday) Free days a few times a month. (Conversely, a bunch of people seem to Buffer on Monday and Friday, with three Focus days from Tuesday through Thursday; I may shortly try that out.)

I’ve been following the approach for a few months, and have been most impressed thus far. Definitely worth a test run.