Notes From My Journal

Everything Is Going Up

New York City– Walking uptown on 8th, from 17th to 41st, we passed through what used to be called Hell’s Kitchen. And we were surprised to see a half-dozen glittering glass skyscrapers amidst what appeared to be a massive development.

It was Hudson Yards, a 60-block megaproject financed by the state, the city, and the MTA, in conjunction with The Related Companies, Oxford, and some additional private builders. It goes from 29th to 42nd street, and from 8th Avenue to West Side Highway.

Much of it is built on a huge concrete platform that covers an underground storage facility for rail cars. The first phase, which is what we were looking at, has two large office towers with a retail podium between them, and an 80-story tower on 10th that is the city’s third-tallest building.

The complex will include millions of square feet of residential and commercial space, including seven residential towers, a mall with 100 shops and 20 restaurants, and six acres of gardens and roads. The total cost of the project was estimated several years ago at $20 billion but it is likely to come in higher.

Dozens of businesses whose headquarters had been moved out of the city in years past have committed to leasing space. And some firms residing in the financial district have plans to move in. Needless to say, this has spurred all sorts of secondary development activities in surrounding areas.

I wondered about the economic impact of the project. New York City has problems.

Last year, for example, the city was ranked last among 20 US cities on “taxpayer burden.” The city had accumulated over $150 billion in bills above and beyond assets on its balance sheet, which translated to $61,000 per taxpaying denizen.

What those numbers didn’t take into account, however, was the city’s ability to raise revenues through taxes. As these buildings go up, so do tax revenues. Not just property taxes but sales taxes and personal income taxes as more mid- and high-income people are lured back into the city.

I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to the eventual success of the project. But it’s hard to imagine that during the next 5 to 10 years it will be anything less than hugely positive.


From My Work In Progress Basket

Get Up, Take a Walk, Extend Your Life

You don’t have to be a physiologist to understand how unhealthy it is to spend 8 or 10 hours a day sitting on your butt.

The stiffness you feel when you get up should be an obvious warning. Or the simple logic of recognizing how the body is designed (to move on two feet) and the consequences of ignoring that.

You’re probably aware that countless studies have linked extended sedentary behavior – prolonged sitting, in particular – to not only spinal, muscular, and joint problems but a plethora of other conditions. These include obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.

Note: We are talking about any form of sitting – in front of a screen, in front of a steering wheel, or in front of a keyboard.

And although I think of myself as fairly active because I walk for 40 minutes and exercise for an hour each day, if you add up the time I spend reading, writing, or driving… I’m probably in a sitting position for 8 to 12 hours.


An Unexpected Solution to This Problem 

There’s plenty of science backing up the indisputable fact that people who are physically active have much better prospects of staying healthy and living longer. Unfortunately, many of us have jobs (and lifestyles) that keep us glued to our seats.

A new study from the University of Otago confirms the risks of prolonged sitting. But it also provides a new and welcome way to neutralize the negative effects.

This study is particularly interesting because it included data from 44 previous studies that had focused not on the effect of prolonged sitting alone but on what happened when the sitter stood up to do… just about anything.

The news was good. And the beneficial changes that the researchers observed – including such things as improved glucose, insulin, and triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and vascular function – were not affected by the intensity of the activity or the age or weight of the participant.

Even light-intensity activity every 30 minutes was significant.

What does this mean? 

To me, it means that I should go back to something I did many years ago. It was a suggestion by the legendary copywriter Gene Schwartz, who had developed it as a way to maintain his creativity for a full day.

When Gene sat down to write, he’d set an egg timer to 33 minutes. (This was before the digital age.) Then he’d get to work. When the timer buzzed, he’d stand up and walk around or play with his pet or make himself a cup of coffee.

When I experimented with Gene’s routine, I found it to be very helpful in terms of my creativity and productivity. But I had no idea that periodically getting out of my chair could be so beneficial to my overall health.

Now I know. So that’s my new routine: Stand up every 30 minutes. Actually, I’ll make it every 28 minutes and then move for two. That’s more anal. More my style.

And I won’t use the timer on my iPhone. I’m going to use that egg timer.


Recommended Reading

A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II

By Murray Rothbard

2002, 510 pages

A very interesting account of banking practices in the USA, how things began to fall apart as we moved away from gold and toward a paper currency and then abandoned the gold standard altogether.

What becomes clear is that what is going on now – the government and large financial interests getting together to manipulate the economy by manipulating money – has been going on since the beginning of the nation.


Today’s Word: adroit (adjective) Adroit (uh-DROYT) means cleverly skillful, resourceful, or ingenious. As used by the Russian revolutionary Peter Kropotkin: “The law is an adroit mixture of customs that are beneficial to society, and could be followed even if no law existed, and others that are of advantage to a ruling minority, but harmful to the masses of men, and can be enforced on them only by terror.”


Fun Fact: If human anatomy were like the hummingbird’s, we would need 150,000 calories a day.


Worth Quoting: “Start by doing the necessary and then the possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – St. Francis of Assisi