Wednesday, June 28, 2006

guru podcast

Most entertaining and largely amusing subway listening material: Slate's Shopping: Choosing a Guru that's Right for You, Part I.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

WikiHow of the day

Check out How to Retire in Your 30's (most amusing - I thought...). My abridged version:
  1. Define the dream.
  2. Make a LOT of money by getting a job in:
    • Investment banking - These Wall Street jobs can pay extremely well. In exchange, you sell your soul: the hours are a grind, the work is dull, and your boss is an egomaniac.
    • Sales - You can earn a lot doing this dull job of sucking up to corporate IT drones.
    • Engineering - If you join early at the right startup, you might be be able to Buy a Private Island after 4 years of work. But more likely, you will grind away endless hours for an incompetent 27 year old CEO and his insatiable venture capital masters before the company goes belly up, leaving your options worthless.
  3. Lower your expenses. Resist the massive pressure to dress, eat and shop like your peers, and live a modest lifestyle. Focus on work, as your play will come later.
  4. Invest wisely. Remember that the more you play it safe, the longer it'll probably take you to retire.
  5. Keep your eye on the mark. There will be times when you feel like giving in and throwing in the towel.
From the warnings section:
Be aware this article is not titled "How to Be Happy". The financial freedom of early retirement described in this article requires sacrificing many things that most people believe are the greatest sources of happiness in life, such as driving a German automobile, wearing clothes with the right label, or for the more selfless, having kids

Monday, June 26, 2006

on vacations and wasting time at work

Interesting essay in Time in which Po Bronson (author of What Should I do with My Life) discusses how Americans seem to be working too much, though not very efficiently (I’m guilty of this very crime myself, and I think it’s well justified, since if it were up to me, I would spend half the amount of time in the office and do double the amount of work, but I’m forced to sit in my cubicle for many more hours than I can be efficient for, and thus have no choice but to waste company time, and I suppose, my own as well…).
We Americans are so active in our leisure that we commonly complain we need a vacation from our vacations. We leave home tired; we come back exhausted...

There's no doubt that work has found its way into every hour of our day, thanks to beepers, cell phones and e-mail. Our lunch hours aren't even close to an hour; they average only 31 min. That's down 5 min. in 10 years. But fear not. We're getting our secret revenge. We've discovered a method to goof off despite it all. How? We seem to be stealing ever more bits of free time throughout the day.

For instance, surveys in recent years have concluded that the average American office worker "goofs off" for just over two hours a day--and that's not counting lunches or breaks. One hundred twenty-six minutes a day, to be exact. What do we do with this stolen time? "Spacing out" is a common poll response. Gossiping with co-workers is obviously popular. Surfing the Internet tops them all.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

my “to read” list is too rapidly decreasing

My commute has drastically increased my consumption rate of books. I’m afraid that if I don’t get some new suggestions soon, I won’t know what to read in a couple months, and I’ll have no choice but to learn Latin or something... I most recently completed The Genius Factory (The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank) by David Plotz. I found it extremely interesting, well written, and would highly recommend it. Some excerpts:
I was not much closer to wanting to be a donor than I had been before I started, but I was closer to understanding why someone else might want to do it. In the abstract, donating sperm had seemed fundamentally silly. But actually doing it was seductive. I have been accepted by the ultraexclusive Fairfax Cryobank! My sperm was “well above average”! My count was 105 million! What’s yours, George Clooney? Amanda, lovely Amanda, had asked for my help. The women of America—barren, desolate, desperate—needed me. They yearned for my B-positive, brown-eyed, six-foot-one-inch, HIV-negative, drug-free, heart-attack-prone, only slightly mentally ill sperm. And what kind of selfish monster was I to deny it to them?

“It was a screwed-up idea, making genius people,” he [Doron Blank, poster child of the Nobel sperm bank] said. “The fact that I have a huge IQ does not make me a person who is good or happy. People come expecting me to have all these achievements under my belt, and I don’t. I have not done anything that special.

“I don’t think being intelligent is what makes a person. What makes a person is being raised in a loving family with loving parents who don’t pressure them. If I was born with an IQ of 100 instead of 180, I could do just as much with my life. I don’t think you can breed for good people.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

the enjoyment derived from an item is multiplied when the item was obtained at zero monetary cost

I received my free Jets engraved iPod Nano yesterday only a month after applying for the Jets credit card (thanks ctownbochur!), and I’m already having way too much fun with it. Today I adorned it with a protective iSkin purchased from the most incredible B & H, and yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed the first two podcasts I downloaded. And I should mention that iPods had very little appeal to me before I was offered a free one (as cool as they look, did I really need one?).

My first podcast is now my new favorite article:Watching the Couples Go By. There are some great lines, like the last one, but I won’t clip: read the whole thing.

Islamabad-based freelance columnist's take on the Jew's secret

Why are Jews so powerful?

Friday, June 16, 2006

part of working in NYC

Voiced on the PA system of my building Wednesday afternoon:
There is a suspicious package on XXth st. NYPD is on the scene and they are awaiting the bomb squad. All entrances and exits on the XXth st side are closed. Please do not look out the windows of the XXth street side
I was of course amused, but I overheard some concerned chatter in the office...

Monday, June 12, 2006

do book reviewers read every word?

I read hardly a word last week (partly because I was out of commission, but mostly because I didn’t bring any good books with me), but the week before I finished A Tale of Love and Darkness. It was a disappointing read in that it wasn’t as interesting as I expected as it dragged on for much of the book, something was surely lost in the translation, and Oz’s writing can be quite poetic (sometimes too poetic and wordy for my likes), but it picked up towards the end, and overall, I would recommend it to those who have the patience to read it. Some excerpts:
Once, when I was seven or eight, my mother said to me, as we sat on the last seat but one on the bus to the clinic or the shoe shop, that while it was true that books could change with the years just as much as people could, the difference was that whereas people would always drop you when they could no longer get any advantage or pleasure or interest or at least a good feeling from you, a book would never abandon you. Naturally you sometimes dropped them, maybe for several years, or even forever. But they, even if you betrayed them, would never turn their backs on you: they would go on waiting for you silently and humbly on their shelf. They would wait ten years. They wouldn’t complain. One night, when you suddenly needed a book, even at three in the morning, even if it was a book you had abandoned and erased from your heart for years and years, it would never disappoint you, it would come down from its shelf and keep you company in your moment of need. It would not try to get its own back or make excuses or ask itself if it was worth its while or if you deserved it or if you still suited each other, it would come at once as soon as you asked. A book would never let you down (pp. 275).

I understood where I had come from: from a dreary tangle of sadness and pretense, of longing, absurdity, inferiority and provincial pomposity, sentimental education and anachronistic ideals, repressed traumas, resignation, and helplessness. Helplessness of the acerbic, domestic variety, where small-time liars pretended to be dangerous terrorists and heroic freedom fighters, where unhappy bookbinders invented formulas for universal salivation, where dentists whispered confidentiality to all their neighbors about their protracted personal correspondence with Stalin, where piano teachers, kindergarten teachers, and housewives tossed and turned tearfully at night from stifled yearning for an emotion-laden spiritual life, where compulsive writers wrote endless disgruntled letters to the editor of Davar, where elderly bakers saw Maimonides and the Baal Shem Tov in their dreams…(pp. 492).