Dinner

Last week, my entire family sat down to dinner on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. On Wednesday my wife and I went out for dinner for a date night, just the two of us, after friends had to cancel due to illness.

Since starting a family, dinners together have been a priority.  As they get older, with more after school activities and a natural desire to hang out with friends, family dinners can happen a little less regularly.…


Monopoly

It is estimated that over 275 million copies of the board game Monopoly have been sold, making it the best selling board game of all time. Approximately one billion people have said to have played the game at one point in their lives.

I’m guessing that only a small fraction know that this game, a tribute to capitalism, was originally envisioned as a game to promote communal values and fairness.…


Bark

I was sitting unsure of what I would write today when my dog Scout began to bark. What exactly he was barking at was unclear to me.

By dog standards, Scout is not an awful barker. He barks when he senses a dog that he cannot see or sniff. Most often this involves dogs out for a walk across the street that he longingly sees while perched on our couch.…


Space

This week, students in my Creative Team Dynamics class each had to perform an improv scene with their partner for two minutes. Prompts and the accompanying emotion were generated randomly by this website.

Having run this exercise many times before, I was taken by how well the students performed. The basic rules of improv are to agree with the opening statement and to build on each other’s comments using a “yes, and” framework. …


Capable

It is heart wrenching to see what humanity is capable of doing to one another.

How can any person or group of people be capable of murdering innocent children?

It is an unfathomable thought for most.

A difficult but more accessible question is to ask ourselves: What lengths would a parent or group go to protect their own children?

For those of us who have children, we can imagine ourselves being capable of almost anything.…


Stare

In class this week, I asked my students to sit across from their partner, in silence, and just stare at each other for two minutes straight. During this time, they should be aware of any distractions that pop into their mind that might distract them from the task at hand.  Simply staring at the person across from them.

This exercise, popular in acting circles, is designed to help people be present and observant.…


Have

Can you be happy with what you have?

This is the question that Kelsea Ballerini seems to ask us in her song, What I Have.

We can sometimes dismiss country songs as being overly simplistic. But as Harlan Howard astutely said back in the 1950’s, it represents “three chords and the truth.”

In Ballerini’s song, she challenges the idea of “having” by making accessible more complicated concepts and phrases.…


Celebrate

In the movie The Intern, Anne Hathaway plays the founder of a tech/fashion startup and Robert DeNiro is her unlikely “senior intern.” At the company’s open layout office, there is a tradition where a bell is rung to celebrate an achievement. You can ring the bell to announce that you’ve done something noteworthy or in recognition of someone else’s efforts or accomplishments. When the bell is rung, everyone stops what they’re doing for a moment to cheer or clap, before going right back to what they were doing.…


Strike

The first recorded labor strike in world history occurred in Egypt in the 12th century. Workers charged with building the Pharaoh’s burial tomb stopped working on several occasions because they were not given sufficient rations of food and water.

Let that sink in.

In 2023, so far there have been 200 hundred labor strikes affecting over 320,000 workers. That is triple the number in 2022 and ten times as many as there were in 2021.…


Conscious

I was having a conversation last week with my daughter about phone usage. She was forcefully advocating for Snapchat while we were on the fence. In the course of the conversation, I discovered that in addition to your phone providing statistics on screen time (both in total and for individual apps) it also recorded the number of times you picked up your phone and which app you were picking it up to use.…


Generous

Thanks to everyone who responded to my ask to like, share, or comment on last week’s newsletter.

It was very generous of you and very much appreciated.

This morning I read this op-ed by David Brooks in the New York Times who makes a compelling case that people are, by and large, more generous than we give them credit for.

He cited a meta analysis of studies that measured people’s propensity to act generously or selfishly in various situations.…


Ask

School schedules came out this week. There was an error on my oldest daughter’s schedule and she contacted her guidance counselor to see if she could correct it.

The counselor’s initial solutions were less than ideal. They appeared, understandably, to be the easiest for the school to accommodate but not for my daughter to actually experience day-to-day.

I encouraged her to respond and ask if there were any other options.…


Pull-up

Years ago I dropped one of my AirPods onto a train track. After the train passed, I stupidly jumped down to fetch it, not realizing how far down the track was relative to the platform. To get back to the platform, I had to pull myself up. It quickly became apparent that I could not do it. Fortunately two people on the platform were able to give me a hand before an ensuing train came along.…


Noise

On a good day, I find it difficult to sleep on a red-eye flight. Recently, as my family and I embarked on our summer vacation to France, it was impossible. In addition to the standard two to three babies who intermittently scream, we were surrounded on our packed flight by a large pack of college students. There seemed like there were a hundred of them. Talking incessantly.…


Selfless

When you read the title of this email, the first thought you probably have is of someone who is unselfish and puts others before themselves.

A more literal interpretation of the word is the title of a new book by Brian Lowery, PhD at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. In this provocative and accessible book, Lowery makes the case that there is no such thing as a self – inner or otherwise – that we control or create.…


Heat

The world has never been hotter. While statistics like Phoenix experiencing over twenty consecutive days of temperatures above 110 degrees are eye-popping, we don’t need numbers to tell us things are getting hot up here.  We only need to walk outside.

Long before this latest and perhaps most obvious manifestation of climate change, my youngest daughter has been turning up the heat in our household for years.


Delay

This week has been marked by delays. Delays by their very nature can be maddening and disheartening – particularly when we feel as if we have no control over them and the action that is being delayed is timely.

I took the first notification “Your flight is delayed” in stride as it was only 25 minutes and a modest flight delay is predictable. By the seventh “Your flight is delayed email” we had entered the land of the surreal.…


Community

The community turned out en masse. The line inside and outside the funeral home snaked; people waited over two hours to pay their respects to a man who was a pillar in the community for decades. The heat and the crowd swelled as the family received friends, colleagues and admirers for six hours. After texting my daughters that we’d be longer than expected and letting them know they would need to fend for themselves for dinner, one astutely noted in her reply, “a long line is a good thing.” 


Torn

I learned earlier today that I apparently have not one but two meniscus tears in my right knee. This is in addition to an ACL sprain. 

There are two treatment options. One is rest, anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. The other is surgery. The first does not preclude the latter because if it fails, then surgery will still be on the table.

Timing is also a factor.


Ritual

The Oscar nominated short documentary “How Do You Measure a Year?” is a film based entirely on a ritual. Each year, filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt asks his daughter to sit in the same spot on their couch and answer the same set of questions. The ritual begins on Ella’s second birthday and extends to her 18th. After not watching any of the footage during those seventeen years, Rosenblatt edits these sessions down to a crisp and moving twenty-nine minute time machine.


Fathers

Each Father’s Day has a very familiar rhythm. This weekend is typically the same as my college friends’ reunion weekend. I will often leave the revelry early to make it home in time to coach my daughters’ soccer games on Sunday. 

Given this schedule, it is often difficult or impossible to really plan anything “special” for Father’s Day. 

Father’s Day usually marks the end of the spring soccer season.


-lig-

While many of you were reading last week’s note, Beauty, I was sitting in a synagogue attending the funeral of a friend.

He was a regular reader of these weekly missives, occasionally sending me an email to compliment me on my writing or to check in on the health of a loved one I referenced in a particular piece.

By all counts, he was a kind and loving man with a full life.


Beauty

There seems to be something that makes us more inclined to see and respond to the ugliness and conflict all around us. How easily triggered we seem to be. Whether it be the failings of others, the bad news that bombards us every day on our phones and screens or the turmoil in our own minds, our antennas seem to be particularly attuned to what we consider threatening.…