The Soothing Power of Making Music

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 Delray Beach, FL – About 55 years ago, I won second place in a solo contest for the French horn. I played a tune called Mighty Major. I got back into it about five years ago and then dropped it. I’m back into it again… and I’m wondering why I stopped. It is thoroughly enjoyable. It may be the only thing that gets me completely away from my head. I’ve been trying to achieve a bit more equilibrium in my life through meditation. But it’s hard for me. Playing this difficult brass instrument is faster and, at least for the time being, more satisfying. I am fully absorbed while doing it, and calm and happy with …

Read MoreThe Soothing Power of Making Music

The Importance of Being Earnest

Saturday, April 28, 2018 Delray Beach, FL – He had accepted the opportunity to become a partner in our Jiu Jitsu studio, but a week after he started he realized he couldn’t do it. He had two other jobs, a sick mother, and a car that seemed to break down every other day. He wrote a long letter of resignation, apologizing and explaining his decision. Because he felt guilty about breaking his commitment, he made the letter formal and expressed his excuses in a sort of legalese, thinking they would carry more weight. Before posting it, he read it again. It wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do. It sounded defensive and almost pompous. He tore it up and started …

Read MoreThe Importance of Being Earnest

The Rental Market Today vs. 2007

On April 16, 2007, I wrote this in my journal:  Rents are expected to go up in 2007. This would be the third year in a row. The rise is projected to be 5% this year for a 14% total rise since 2004, a report by Marcus & Millichap said. That compares to a 4% increase in pay. Over the same period, adjusted for inflation. Marcus & Millichap says this situation will make housing more difficult to find, especially in the coastal cities.  They predict the trend will continue for another three years. From 2000 to 2004 landlords couldn’t raise rents, USA Today said, because tenants were leaving to buy houses or condos. To feed that buying frenzy, about 300,000 apartments were converted to condos for sale in the past 3 years. Now, even with 92,000 new rental units this year, the stock is still too little to meet the rising demand. New York City is one of the worst. There rents have increased 7% in the last year. The national median rent will be $943 a month, which is 60% of the median mortgage payment of $1,566. Renters will get a break in Miami, Las Vegas and San Diego, where investors bought up thousands of condos hoping to flip them. Since the market faltered, many of those investors will need to drop rents to help them pay expenses or will be forced to sell them at steep discounts.

That was then.

This is now…

Read MoreThe Rental Market Today vs. 2007

A Very Rich Entrepreneur You’ve Probably Never Heard About

There are many ways to get rich as an entrepreneur. One way is to create just the right product at just the right time. A second way is to identify, and then cater to, a neglected niche market. A third way is to introduce a new and attractive marketing strategy.

He made his fortune by doing all three at the same time.

Reiman got his start by working as a freelance writer and dabbling in magazine publishing. In 1970, he noticed that two farming magazines had eliminated their soft “women’s features” and he sensed an opportunity.

He devised a prototype for a magazine called Farm Wife News. To test the idea, he rented a mailing list of 400,000 farmers from an agricultural company. He sent a copy of the prototype to a tenth of the names, offering six issues for $5. The response was so great that he abandoned the next test and sent the sales package to the entire list.

A few years later, he was publishing 11 magazines aimed at the rural market and enjoying revenues of more than $300 million. His titles, with a circulation of roughly 16 million, included Country Woman, Ranch Living, and Taste of Home.

The magazine market in the USA has always been very large. But it has also been very competitive, with dozens of publications on every popular topic. So how did Reiman do it?

The most desired demographic has traditionally been young and urban. But rather than going after them, Reiman marketed to older, rural readers.

And rather than selling advertising, he decided to make his profits solely through subscription sales and renewals.

Read MoreA Very Rich Entrepreneur You’ve Probably Never Heard About

Literary Criticism

For every good book, play, or poem, there are probably a half dozen works of criticism written about it. Literary critics tend to fall into groups, characterized by what they think their jobs are. The best criticism is that which seeks to understand and explain a work by analyzing it in its cultural context. But many critics are not happy doing that. So they do other things, such as evaluating literature based on how well it lives up to some moral or political standard. These efforts usually aren’t helpful at all – unless you are a zealot – but they are common. Other critics,wishing to show how smart they are, take a “formalist” approach, analyzing works according to their “linguistic …

Read MoreLiterary Criticism

Great Poets

If you read poetry, there are many great American poets to choose from. I recently read a list that recommended the following: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, and Henry David Thoreau. Among modern and contemporary poets, the list included Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Louise Bogan, Robert Bly, E. E. Cummings, T. S. Eliot, Jane Hirshfield, Langston Hughes, W. S. Merwin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mary Oliver, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams. I don’t think Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Jane Hirshfield, or Louise Bogan belong on this list. They are successful writers among academics and, in Angelou’s case, among the popular crowd but they are not great writers. Missing from the list …

Read MoreGreat Poets