June 2018

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Architectural and Interiors Photographers

I’ve found myself going off the deep end of architectural and interiors photography in the last few weeks. Below are a few links to some work I’ve been admiring.

Zip It…

Zip it real good

Don’t ever expect to see how zippers are made at YKK. Founded in 1934, Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha is the world’s zipper kingpin, and it keeps its manufacturing secrets under lock and key. As John Balzar explains in the Los Angeles Times, that’s partly because YKK makes everything—and we mean everything—on its own.

“YKK smelts its own brass, concocts its own polyester, spins and twists its own thread, weaves and color-dyes cloth for its zipper tapes, forges and molds its scooped zipper teeth, extrudes the monofilament for coil zippers, hammers and paints the sliders, clamps the stops, attaches the dangley pulls in a thousand varieties, and even fabricates the cardboard boxes in which zippers are packaged. Naturally, YKK makes the machines that make the components.”

Since YKK controls all aspects of its business, it’s widely viewed by design companies as the most dependable and consistent zipper brand on the planet. (Case in point: At Slate, Seth Stevenson points out that “When the Japanese earthquake hit in 2011 many supply chains were shredded, but YKK kept rolling along.”) For that reason alone, YKK is a major player in the (very niche) high-end zipper market.

I never knew there was so much to know about zippers.

Are you my friend?

Study reveals how many hours it takes to make friends.

In a new report published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Associate Professor of Communication Studies Jeffrey Hall found that it takes roughly 50 hours of time together to move from mere acquaintance to casual friend, 90 hours to go from that stage to simple “friend” status and more than 200 hours before you can consider someone your close friend.

This means time spent hanging out, joking around, playing video games and the like. Hours spent working together just don’t count as much, Hall’s study found.

Hall’s colleagues developed an ”Interactive Friendship Tool” to guess whether someone is an acquaintance, casual friend, friend or close friend.

Around The Web

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Clay

May 2018

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

“Hey Watson, what’s my personality?”

IBM Watson’s Personality Insights

A well-accepted theory of psychology, marketing, and other fields is that human language reflects personality, thinking style, social connections, and emotional states. The frequency with which we use certain categories of words can provide clues to these characteristics. Several researchers found that variations in word usage in writings such as blogs, essays, and tweets can predict aspects of personality.

IBM conducted a set of studies to understand whether personality characteristics inferred from social media data can predict people’s behavior and preferences.

40 Year Anthem

“Y.M.C.A.”

It was 1977, and we were leaving a photography session on 23rd Street. Jacques Morali saw the big pink YMCA on 23rd and asked, “What is this YMCA, anyway? “And after laughing at his accent, we told him the Y was a place where you could go when you first came to New York when you didn’t have any money — you can stay there for very little. And of course, someone joked, “Yeah, but don’t bend over in the showers. “And Jacques, bless his heart, said, “I will write a song about this!”

Om Nom

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

Frito-Lay had a formidable research complex near Dallas, where nearly 500 chemists, psychologists and technicians conducted research that cost up to $30 million a year, and the science corps focused intense amounts of resources on questions of crunch, mouth feel and aroma for each of these items. Their tools included a $40,000 device that simulated a chewing mouth to test and perfect the chips, discovering things like the perfect break point: people like a chip that snaps with about four pounds of pressure per square inch.

To get a better feel for their work, I called on Steven Witherly, a food scientist who wrote a fascinating guide for industry insiders titled, “Why Humans Like Junk Food.” I brought him two shopping bags filled with a variety of chips to taste. He zeroed right in on the Cheetos. “This,” Witherly said, “is one of the most marvelously constructed foods on the planet, in terms of pure pleasure.” He ticked off a dozen attributes of the Cheetos that make the brain say more. But the one he focused on most was the puff’s uncanny ability to melt in the mouth. “It’s called vanishing caloric density,” Witherly said. “If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it… you can just keep eating it forever.”

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Book ‘Em

Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts

We deify willpower and self-control, and mock its absence. People who achieve through remarkable willpower are “strong” and “heroic.” People who need help or structure are “weak.” This is crazy—because few of us can accurately gauge or predict our willpower. We not only overestimate it, we chronically underestimate the power of triggers in our environment to lead us astray. Our environment is a magnificent willpower-reduction machine.

– Marshall Goldsmith

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Clay

April 2018

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

Can you say…Hero?

I would usually put a brief pull quote or my favorite remarks from the article here but, set aside half an hour and read this. You will feel a refreshed sense of care and peace.

In celebration of Mister Rogers’ 90th birthday and the 50th year anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood:

Last Man Standing

Fortnite vs. PUBG

There are an insane number of people playing both PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (over 30 million players) and Fortnite (over 45 million players).

Both games are also pulling wild viewership numbers on Twitch. In February, Twitch streamed 65.44 million hours of Fortnite gameplay and 43.33 million hours of PUBG gameplay. 600,000 people watched Ninja stream Fortnite with Drake…at 3am…on a Thursday.

I think it is widely agreed that Fortnite is a better game. Fortnite is a blast but it never feels high stakes. In PUBG I can hear my pulse. No, not my character’s pulse – my actual beating heart pounding in my ears.

Phony

Millions Are Hounded for Debt They Don’t Owe. One Victim Fought Back, With a Vengeance.

“When the scammers started to hound Therrien, he hounded them right back. Obsessed with payback, he spent hundreds of hours investigating the dirty side of debt. By day he was still promoting ice cream brands and hiring models for liquor store tastings. But in his spare time, he was living out a revenge fantasy. He befriended loan sharks and blackmailed crooked collectors, getting them to divulge their suppliers, and then their suppliers above them. In method, Therrien was like a prosecutor flipping gangster underlings to get to lieutenants and then the boss. In spirit, he was a bit like Liam Neeson’s vigilante character in the movie Taken—using unflagging aggression to obtain scraps of information and reverse-engineer a criminal syndicate. Therrien didn’t punch anyone in the head, of course. He was simply unstoppable over the phone.”

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Book ‘Em

Ego is the Enemy

The question to ask, when you feel pride, then, is this: What am I missing right now that a more humble person might see?
– Ryan Holiday

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Clay

March 2018

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Slurp

The Amazing History and the Strange Invention of the Bendy Straw

Friedman inserted a screw into the straw toward the top (see image). Then he wrapped dental floss around the paper, tracing grooves made by the inserted screw. Finally, he removed the screw, leaving a accordion-like ridge in the middle of the once-straight straw. Voila! he had created a straw that could bend around its grooves to reach a child’s face over the edge of a glass.

Friedman filed for the patent on a “Drinking tube” in 1936.

The main object of my invention is to provide a soda straw or similar drinking tube with a flexible section so positioned that the tube may be bent during use without substantially reducing the diameter of the straw.

Olympic HQ

Set, Put, Run

A Verb for Our Frantic Times

HER birthday: must set plans in motion. Run a bath, put on cologne, set the table. High anxiety. Run down list: set watch again, put water in glasses, set flowers. Run to the window — phew! Watch her put a finger to the doorbell. Such joy! What timing! And just as the sun sets, too!

Thus does an evening beckon, full of pleasantry and promise. But as described here it notes events in a manner of considerable interest for the lexicographer. For scattered within the vocabulary of this 54-word drama are 11 uses of the three most complex verbs in the English language: “set,” “put” and “run.”

Reason to Forget

Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read…and the movies and TV shows we watch

In the internet age, recall memory — the ability to spontaneously call information up in your mind — has become less necessary. It’s still good for bar trivia, or remembering your to-do list, but largely, Horvath says, what’s called recognition memory is more important. “So long as you know where that information is at and how to access it, then you don’t really need to recall it,” he says.

Research has shown that the internet functions as a sort of externalized memory. “When people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself,” as one study puts it.

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Book ‘Em

This book is atop almost every ‘greatest books’ list I have ever seen.

Man’s Search for Meaning

Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.

By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant. Therefore, we can predict his future only within the large framework of a statistical survey referring to a whole group; the individual personality, however, remains essentially unpredictable. The basis for any predictions would be represented by biological, psychological or sociological conditions. Yet one of the main features of human existence is the capacity to rise above such conditions, to grow beyond them. Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary.
– Viktor Frankl

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Clay

February 2018

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Prime Time

50th Known Mersenne Prime Discovered: 2^77,232,917-1

The new prime number, also known as M77232917, is calculated by multiplying together 77,232,917 twos, and then subtracting one. It is nearly one million digits larger than the previous record prime number, in a special class of extremely rare prime numbers known as Mersenne primes. It is only the 50th known Mersenne prime ever discovered, each increasingly difficult to find. Mersenne primes were named for the French monk Marin Mersenne, who studied these numbers more than 350 years ago.

Trashed

Inside the Deadly World of Private Garbage Collection

Waste and recycling work is the fifth most fatal job in America — far more deadly than serving as a police officer or a firefighter. Loggers have the highest fatality rate, followed by fishing workers, aircraft pilots and roofers. From the collection out on garbage trucks, to the processing at transfer stations and recycling centers, to the dumping at landfills, the waste industry averages about one worker fatality a week. Nationally, in 2016, 82 percent of waste-worker deaths occurred in the private sector.

From Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging:

The public is often accused of being disconnected from its military, but frankly, it’s disconnected from just about everything. Farming, mineral extraction, gas and oil production, bulk cargo transport, logging, fishing, infrastructure construction—all the industries that keep the nation going are mostly unacknowledged by the people who depend on them most.
– Sebastian Junger

You Will Never See the Same

When Your Eyes Move, So Do Your Eardrums

Without moving your head, look to your left. Now look to your right. Keep flicking your eyes back and forth, left and right.

Even if you managed to keep the rest of your body completely still, your eyeballs were not the only parts of your head that just moved. Your ears did, too. Specifically, your eardrums—the thin membranes inside each of your ears—wobbled. As your eyes flitted right, both eardrums bulged to the left, one inward and one outward. They then bounced back and forth a few times, before coming to a halt. When you looked left, they bulged to the right, and oscillated again.

[…]

They also found that the eardrums start to wobble about 10 milliseconds before the eyes. This suggests that the ears aren’t reacting to what’s happening in the eyes. Instead, Groh says, “the brain is saying: I am about to move the eyes; ears, get ready.”

And while we are on the subject of hearing, find out why nature sounds can help you sleep and relax.

As life evolved on Earth, living beings developed different sensory organs to guide them toward food, alert them to danger, and find their way around the world. Without these senses, we couldn’t have survived. But sometimes, these very senses can cause our minds to get over-stimulated. When there’s too much noise, for example, it can be really distressing, but we usually can’t just turn off our hearing.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this is beneficial to us. If there’s some danger in our environment, we can act accordingly (or wake up, if we happen to be asleep). Sudden sounds jolt us into action, get our hearts pumping, and the adrenaline and cortisol soaring in our bodies so as to prepare us for fight or flight.

But living in a stream of constant, jarring noises can be highly toxic. One of the biggest problems with urban soundscapes, according to Benfield, is that people think they’ve adjusted to them.

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Book ‘Em

Ryan Holiday translates stoic ideas into modern language. I highly recommend The Obstacle is the Way or Ego is the Enemy.

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

During the good times, we strengthen ourselves and our bodies so that during the difficult times, we can depend on it.
– Ryan Holiday

Get a copy here.

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

January 2018

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

The Way The World Ends: Not With A Bang But A Paperclip

Wired takes a look at Paperclips, a clicker game from Frank Lantz based on speculations in Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies.

In a Huffington Post interview, Bostrom makes his point much more succinctly, albeit less thorough, than a game or his book:

Suppose we have an AI whose only goal is to make as many paper clips as possible. The AI will realize quickly that it would be much better if there were no humans because humans might decide to switch it off. Because if humans do so, there would be fewer paper clips. Also, human bodies contain a lot of atoms that could be made into paper clips. The future that the AI would be trying to gear towards would be one in which there were a lot of paper clips but no humans.

Born To Be Chased

Plant Earth II has been added to Netflix. Just as interesting as the action on screen is the action behind the camera. Early last year, Vox went behind the scenes to show how the famous ‘Snake Island’ chase was filmed.

Bits from Books

This is my second year compiling some of my favorite passages from books I’ve read throughout the year.

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Book ‘Em

A Seth Godin quote from Tim Ferris’ book, Tools of Titans:

‘First, Ten,’ and it is a simple theory of marketing that says: tell ten people, show ten people, share it with ten people; ten people who already trust you and already like you. If they don’t tell anybody else, it’s not that good and you should start over. If they do tell other people, you’re on your way.”

I suppose my hope is that 10 of you might share this first issue as a way of showing me you have enjoyed it.

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

December 2017

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Where We Play

Strava, an app for athletes to track their exercise, has put together a heatmap that shows the activity of athletes using their service.

A marathon PR in Berlin, a bikepacking adventure in Mongolia and a ski down the slopes in Utah. Each of these plus over a billion other Strava activities were used to create the new Heatmap. It includes over 27 billion kilometers of data, overlapping to show the most frequented spots for sport on the globe. This incredible visualization was created with 200 thousand years of movement including thousands of marathons and countless coffee rides. What looks like a multihued map of the Earth is actually the white hot visualization of over 1 billion activities on Strava.

And here is how they did it.

The Technology Behind Bitcoin

You have likely heard the buzz around cryptocurrency, and more specifically, Bitcoin. Bitcoin is exciting but the technology behind it could be far more impactful. This video will help you to understand that technology.

Paradox of Success

From Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown:

It leads to what I call “the paradox of success,” which can be summed up in four predictable phases:

PHASE 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it enables us to succeed at our endeavor.
PHASE 2: When we have success, we gain a reputation as a “go to” person. We become “good old [insert name],” who is always there when you need him, and we are presented with increased options and opportunities.
PHASE 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, which is actually code for demands upon our time and energies, it leads to diffused efforts. We get spread thinner and thinner.
PHASE 4: We become distracted from what would otherwise be our highest level of contribution. The effect of our success has been to undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

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Book ‘Em

An enlightening book that exemplifies how important it is to belong.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

One way to determine what is missing in day-to-day American life may be to examine what behaviors spontaneously arise when that life is disrupted.
Junger, Sebastian

Get a copy here.

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay