Monthly Archives: September 2014

Hasidic Fashion

new skool hasidI’m ignorant on orthodox Judaism matters, but I can still wonder. What would a new school Hasidic Jew look like? I don’t even know if there’s such a thing.

If you’re in the Hasidic fold, you’d conform to certain standards of appearance just like you would if you were in the Amish community.

When someone decides to leave a rigid culture they probably leave whatever they can completely behind. Imagine a former Amish dude shaving off his Abe Lincoln moustache-less beard and replacing it with a giant walrus type moustache and never look back.

I saw this picture on The Sartorialist website and thought this might be what a hip new school Hasidic Jew might look like in 2014.

I’m sure fashions change in closed communities, but it’s at a glacial speed and in such small increments no outsider would notice. So this guy is probably way too far out ahead of the pack.

The phone test

coffeeMy brother and I were talking about a company we both like dealing with. The company name isn’t important, but it’s a very successful medium sized business. We’ve both had multiple pleasant experiences dealing with them, in particular their phone interactions are unusual.

That’s because a soft-spoken receptionist answers. After greeting you, she asks who you’d like to speak to and connects you right away. You’re left feeling like you might be offered a cup of coffee if there was any delay. There’s no screening by a gatekeeper,  being redirected to an automated multiple choice decision tree, nor any of the other impersonal feeling initial phone interactions most of us are used to these days.

Whenever in doubt, default to being human. Having a nice person greeting people on the phone is simple and probably not much more expensive than other options, but it more than pays for itself in the customer experience, that important first impression.

And it’s not just skin deep. My brother has had money transactions with them too and said those are also direct and without hoops to jump through or payment delays.

I’m not mentioning the company’s name because I don’t want to risk people calling them to check it out. Plus, you’ve had the experience before, it’s like calling a friend’s house, easy and breezy.

It’s the phone test standard I use in forming an initial impression about any company I contact by phone.



fixing a shoe“Boxers or briefs?” is a question people ask when trying to get insights into a man but really it’s for getting personal, digging below the surface. It’s just throw away information once the question is answered, but the asking and responding feels a bit intimate.

Recently I was shopping in a city I’d never been to and saw underwear I like on sale so I picked out a few pairs and headed to the register. Who’d be working the register I wondered?

Does it matter who’s behind the register? Why feel uncomfortable buying underwear from a person you’ll likely never see again? It shouldn’t matter at all. But if it does feel odd it’s probably because that person knows what you wear under your clothes while you don’t have a clue about what they’re wearing, there’s an information imbalance.

That this would happen I’d guess comes from all the generations humans spent living in small groups in which you’d constantly see your tribe-mates. Compare that to the relatively few generations we’ve spent encountering people all the time who we’ll never see again.

On top of that is our tendency to want to be polite. And in effect, showing a stranger your underwear at some level feels impolite.

But we forge ahead. I don’t remember the sales person behind the register and I’m sure she forgot what I looked like before the store door closed.

Emergency nail clippers?

emergencyNeil Strauss’ book “Emergency” is a story of change, chronicling his transformation  from a soft, city bred, cafe hopping, hipster to a tougher more resilient, self-sufficient man.

The realization he was vulnerable to forces that he couldn’t cope with started around 2000 with the Y2K frenzy, and then became reenforced by the 9/11 attack, followed by Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, and finally Bush’s  2004 reelection.

Morphing into a more self-reliant person for Strauss occurred over several years of pursuing and mastering a long list of skills he lacked such as outdoor skills, how to exist off the grid, what to do in emergencies, becoming a paramedic, and so on. And then he wrote a book about his experiences.

He’s a proponent of keeping a “bug out bag” (BOB) around to grab quickly when the shit hits the fan and you need to leave in a hurry.

I’ve looked at lists of what various people recommend including in your BOB. They all have lots in common such as a fixed blade knife, water purifier, fire starter, etc.

One thing that’s missing from most BOB’s is the humble nail clipper. Not much to say about nail clippers. If you find yourself needing a bug out bag, your situation is probably pretty bad. The more things you can do to make your life more normal will make getting by easier.

If you’re in a dire situation for an extended time you’ll need to cut your nails at some point. Unless you’re a nail-biter, cutting your nails with a knife won’t be something you’d have done before. Having a nail clipper with you might just make your life a little bit easier during a prolonged break from civilization.

The brake and the accelerator

what-I-do-as-an-artistLots of people have a tough time saving money. If you want to increase control over your money, here’s a good trick.

Imagine dealing with money as driving a car.  It’s an automatic so you only have to deal with an accelerator and a brake. Accelerating increases your income while braking decreases your savings. So for each decision you only have to consider, “If I do this, am I pressing the accelerator or the brake?”

People tend to press hard on both the accelerator and the brake, thinking that the point of earning money is spending it. But getting ahead requires easing off the brakes while  pressing the accelerator harder if you can.

Just how hard are you pressing the brake pedal? Every money decision is an accelerator decision or a brake decision. Once you start thinking this way it’ll become easier to let off on the brake. Just ask yourself whether any action or item will accelerate your income or decrease your savings. Happy motoring!