September 11th…stopping to remember

I republish this post every year on the anniversary eve of September 11th.









All day yesterday working on my schedule, whenever I noticed the date, my concentration ground to a halt.

I kept thinking back to that Tuesday, so many years ago, being stranded in San Francisco on business with the country’s air space shut down. Sitting in bars, watching the news with strangers and having the reality of what happened burned into memory by the incessant replaying of the events on network news.

Talking on the cell to friends in New York, every one of them, shell-shocked. Many of them seeing the plane hit the second tower. Watching the buildings crumble and a very different world appear as the dust settled.

I came back on the first flight out, the Saturday night redeye, circling into JFK over the smoking debris.  I remember walking to the intersection of West Broadway and Canal, staring at the barricades on the South side of Canal Street. The surrealistic image of a Schwarzenegger movie billboard that was coming out with him fighting terrorists somewhere. In smug contrast with the real grim reality on the streets.

I’m not going to recap. We all have our memories and have dealt with them. Many moved out of town. Many took years to come to grips. Everyone moved on.

This was a pre iPhone camera world. A pre Facebook and Twitter reality where real-time sharing and connections were absent. Rather than post, you walked around seeing scores of make shift memorials with flowers and pictures of people. Telephone numbers scrawled on papers to call if you saw or heard of someone.

In retrospect, it feels like a black and white photograph of a different time. Frozen yet wrapped in very real memories. My memories as I was there.

People need memorials of horrible events to place them. I light a candle for the passing of my father and grandfather and it helps ground my thoughts. The fiasco of  building the new Freedom Tower and the passage of time has squandered the memory of this event somewhat. Even today, more than a decade later, the memorial is not really complete, surrounded by a fence and a construction site.

The reality of 9/11 was that we felt attacked where we lived. As you went further from the physical event, even uptown, it became less real, less yours and less somehow immediate.

In the years following, when I worked in LA, I tried mostly in vain at my companies to make the day mean something. Invariably it always fizzled. It meant as little to many on the west coast as to many people I work with today in their 20’s. They aren’t insensitive, but, to them, it’s a historical event, not an experience that shaped any part of who they are. That distance is the difference.

I’m not a romantic about this. And I didn’t lose any friends or family. And while sensitive and a downtowner, I don’t gush over this often or have loose emotional ends.

But it’s important, because if I don’t make it so, it will indeed go away. If the only reminder is of the skyline view in pre-9/11 movies or photos with the towers in them, this is indeed a waste.

When I posted something about this on Facebook yesterday, a friend responded that the  9/11 light sculpture that they erect every year is her favorite.

The light sculpture is indeed amazing but it’s more art than memorial to most unless we personalize it.

The connection between the fact that crazies who truly hated us navigated hijacked planes using Broadway as their map to the towers, is somehow below the surface. The family from New Jersey who I met in Union Square that brought their then young children into town to experience the community side of this nightmare, is absent somehow in those beams of light till I talk about them.

This post is my nudge to myself to spend a few moments thinking about it. Connecting the dots so that they stay real.

I’m all about moving on. I’m a hardass generally. For this particular memory, making my own little memorial of it on my blog seems like the right thing to do.

Salt Caves–where relaxation can indeed be therapeutic







I’m reclining in a comfy beach chair in a dimly lit salt cave in mid-town East zoning out while restoring my mind and body’s health and functionality.

This experience is growing on me.

Part as well of my ongoing quest to find rejuvenating therapies that not only let me live longer but better. Why wellness as a philosophy that encourages curation and control of life’s physical and mental health needs has become a side passion of mine.

Halotherapy is the umbrella category for dry salt treatments.

It is a modern interpretation of dry salt therapy that stems back to the impact on miners bodies working in the salt mines and caves of Eastern Europe and Russia a century ago. Unlike every other type of mining activity, salters were observed by doctors to be healthier, to live longer and look more vibrant after chiseling and harvesting salt underground.

During WW2, large numbers of Poles and Russians hid in these caves to escape the Germans for extended periods of time and when studied showed strong improvement in health, especially oxygenation from the impact on their lungs cross all age groups.

Originally called Subterraneotherapy, doctors in the 1940s tested treatments in controlled environments around recirculated pulverized natural salt. The Halogenator which pulverizes and circulates the salt in Breathe Salt Rooms on Park Avenue where I am in the picture above is an nth iteration of their original machine.

The basic idea is that minutely pulverized salt mist cleans the lungs, respiratory system, and the skin extracting toxins and hyper-intensifying cellular cleaning. Unlike salt baths or wet inhalers, the dry mist reaches deeper into your respiratory and immune system.

Like most wellness therapies, Halotherapy moved into the mass market after being tested and adopted by pro sports teams and fitness gurus, then popularized through wellness practitioners. This is how I discovered Cryotherapy and more advanced procedures like PRP.

Personally, I find my lungs cleaner, my energy livelier with an immediate impact on my skin after each session in these caves.

Obviously the sensation is viscerally salty, yet in a pleasant, lip licking and cleansing way. You feel super clean and mentally more acute.

Spending an hour meditating every few weeks, deep breathing in a salt cave is an activity my body is learning to crave. When I travel, cryotherapy and salt caves are invariably on my search list of places to find.

These caves are not that easy to find even in New York. Most likely because of the costliness of the equipment and installations, and their relative newness as very few were available outside of Eastern Europe till around 2000.

At $40 per hour, once a month, this works for me. I simply feel better.

Each of us is well worth this one.


Other posts on health and wellness:

A surprising experiment with Cryotherapy 

First thoughts on Nutrigenomics 

The Wellness Market 

Amazon, Whole Foods and our food supply

Our food supply chain is overly ripe for disruption.

In finance and communities, we are rolling out token-based economies cross the blockchain. In transportation, we are rewiring the world under solar power.

For food however, the process of getting veggies and perishable products to the shelves of our supermarkets is not all that different than it was a century ago with horse and buggies and blocks of ice.

A few large players own the supply chain with massive refrigerated warehouses and trucks wired together with proprietary logistic systems. A high-cost, low-margin ecosystem up and down the chain that squeezes the producers on one side and the customers on the other.

Add to that the cost of government certs and regulations for organic and non gmo, and what you have is the ice-cube-in-the-sun business model with margins melted into submission and bolstered by the false belief that volume will fix a margin-poor model.

And an overarching disincentive for innovation in the artisanal food market.

Enter Amazon and Whole Foods.

Whether you care for them or not (I like them both a great deal), this huge experiment is being done in a very small market sandbox comparatively but will create a tsunami of change for the segment if successful.

Starting this coming Monday, only 90 days after this multi-billion-dollar acquisition was announced, change will already on the shelves. Change that as we move forward will impact everything about how quality organic and fair-trade food outside of seasonal green markets gets to our tables.

I know only what is in today’s Amazon Press Release, plus considerable experience as a vendor and customer, and a long-term student of the organic food, beverage and wine markets.

On Monday, many of Whole Foods shelf-stable, 365 everyday brands are supposed to go on for home delivery. Prices drops for a few categories of products roll in. And Prime, the club for same/next day free delivery/shipping, for access to movies and media, starts its unstoppable rollout as the discount loyalty club for everything from paper towels to organic rotisserie chicken to organic wine.

Rumors abound on what the core strategy is and how the logistical genius that is Amazon will run headfirst in the logistical hiccups and cost of the current paradigm.

This experiment is with nothing less than our food supply impacting our wallets at checkout and the future for thousands of artisanal brands that are dependent on this channel.

I’m an optimist and forecast nothing but dramatic yet solidly needed change.

Change that will get carbon-copied by everyone and will spark another massive wave of consolidation if it proves successful.

If we start with Amazon and Whole Foods stated goal of bringing high-quality organic products to a larger swatch of the population at more affordable prices, we can be certain of the following:

Ownership and configuration of the supply chain will change

Organic agriculture is scalable. In fact, technology is a boon potentially to increasing production, indoors and out, of organically grown goods.

I believe that Amazon will need to own in some fashion the food production in order to make this work. They are in a position to capitalize this where few are.

The way to control margins here is to own the production and control the process itself.

Distribution from logistics to storage to delivery will be reinvented

This is a quagmire of issues for short shelf life, perishable, refrigerated and frozen products.

It takes care and money to grow organic crops certainly. It takes as much to address a delivery chain that respects the shelf life of these products. This is part logistics, part mechanics of delivery.

Today the growers, the distributors and the retailers are all separate. With disparate systems that simply don’t interact well if at all.

Amazon has the DNA to rethink this from the ground up.

Change will happen though for certain as that is how to reduce prices and increase margins and better serve us the customers.

Amazon already touches the customer base, in fact most all of them

Customer acquisition and communications are usually the largest budget line item. Herein lies Amazon’s greatest asset.

They already have us as customers of, Prime and more. They know how to leverage this.

That is who they are. The rest above is all logistics and vertical understanding.

Non-trivial certainly as an undertaking but imaginable that they could win.

Two gotchas that I worry about:

-Whole Foods was born on the idea of local and artisanal

That was the secret sauce of their success. That connection let them thrive even with higher prices in communities everywhere. Foragers were their business development people and built their brand.

There are ways to do this at scale and still both respect and capitalize on the local brands.

I hope they will.

-Neither Whole Foods nor Amazon understands the wine consumer

Both entities individually want this segment with its margins.

Amazon has tried multiple times and failed. Whole Foods never really got this right.

On one side, I am not a fan of them touching the artisanal wine world. On the other, if they respect the producers this could—I’m not certain here—be good for many.

I’ve seen no indication that they have figured this out as yet as rumblings of them buying vineyards and coming up with their own brands is I think the wrong tact.

This is going to be a long, disruptive and strange trip. 

I am optimistic that Amazon will figure out how to bring high-quality, non gmo, organic products with a community of producers to the market at better prices.

Them winning may be the best thing that could happen for all of us.

This is not however free shipping, or streaming media, it’s more personal as it is our health and the food that we buy for our families.

This is not luxury e-commerce, it’s a supply chain that feeds our lives.

The new order starts Monday. We are all players in this game.


The Derek Black interview via The Daily podcast

This post is not about politics.

It’s about my ethical discomfort that I can’t get beyond since the events in Charlottesville.

About a glimpse through Derek Black‘s story in this interview into the empowered white nationalist, neo-Nazi and white supremicist fringe groups–and my nausea that comes with internalizing the situation.

The story that Michael Barbaro of the New York Times The Daily eases out of Derek Black in this podcast is a critical glimpse into the normalization of white nationalists by the leaders of that movement. That for myself, before Charlottesville, was something marginal and easy to shirk off.

Hearing the story of the first family of white supremacy with candor and nuance, with the emotional complexities he went through as he came to grips with his own upbringing, has elevated my understanding and seriously challenged my superficially-held preconceptions.

I hesitate to say he has humanized this, but listening to the story lets me understand what it was to be raised from birth to embody the sickness of supremacy as nothing less than normal. As the core bond of family and the strings of love that drove respect for his father as a youth.

I understand more now, but my fears and loathing have escalated, not at all been quieted through understanding.

Derek was born into the elite of white nationalists. His father was an ex grand wizard of the KKK and founder of the website Stormfront. His godfather was David Duke.

He knew nothing other than this world and was a child supremicist celebrity to this nether world online through his dad’s website and presenter on the stage of neo-Nazi and white supremacy conventions from the age of 10-12 years old.

This is his story in his own words of leaving the enclave, going to a liberal arts college, realizing over a period of years that his father was wrong, publicly rejecting this creed and being named an outright traitor by his family.

This is him helping me understand that they were not so much emotional haters as sick, self-proclaimed patriots of a racist cause. They are quite smart, articulate and to my mind not simply the scum of the world but underworldly (for lack of a better term).

I was wrong.

Not about how distasteful or horrid they truly are but how much they are the fabric of our country in ways I was ignorant of.

And to finally understand that to this group, Jews like myself, were not ‘white’ in their eyes in the most racist, pejorative connotations that that ugly terminology is made to conjure up in their twisted-as-shit view of things.

And most chilling of all, to hear from Derek that Donald Trump’s words on Charlottesville were the precise talking points of the white supremacists that he was raised on.  That now, they as a group and the adjacent fringes of the neo-Nazis are empowered, encouraged and reenergized in a way unimaginable before.

They are as high today as they were low when Barack Obama was elected.

That Trump has used the pulpit of the presidency to tell this fringe that they are indeed good folks. That they have a right to breed this sick crap and perpetuate it. He is their spokesperson and hero to their thinking.

This story is beyond sobering, yet thought provoking and illuminating in a way that only the spoken word inside your head can truly accomplish.

I’ve shared this podcast with friends and family and now to you, my community here.

I am uncharacteristically inarticulate so I’ll leave this with slight introduction and an invite to give this a listen.

With a thank you to Michael Barbaro from the NY Times for doing such a great job letting Derek talk.

You might also care to read Derek’s op ed piece from 2016 as background, Why I Left White Nationalism  and if you are looking for a truly great movie that addresses these topics, I rewatched American History X.

This is not available on Soundcloud so you can listen at:

The Derek Black Interview in iTunes

The Derek Black Interview in Google Play

The most important ears that hear this are your own.

First thoughts on Nutrigenomics

Nutrigenomics is an idea whose time is starting to be now.

As a research discipline, it’s the science of how our genes and nutrients interact with each other.

How food and supplements can actually turn on and off certain genes depending on our genetic maps, impacting communications cross our bodies internal networks and directly affecting aging, cognition and almost every facet of our health.

I’m not a scientist nor nutritionist, but as I’ve delved into wellness and nutrition, health and exercise over the last decade, it’s become clear that this is the great looming disrupter.

Disrupting common conceptions of aging and disease treatments. Economically disrupting massive industries like the $60B+ supplement segment along with functional foods, wellness and the weight loss worlds.

It is also I think going to change our delivery systems, bringing pure science, just in time manufacturing, and tech delivery, database driven e-commerce and wellness branding together in as yet unknowable ways.

And in the end, disruptive to our culture as a whole as the possibility of a more age diverse workforce is the end result of extended health and cognition for a huge segment of the population.

The pieces of this puzzle are just coming together with massive investment cross every sector, bridging the gaps between the science and the need to build consumer delivery systems and trusted brands.

The stack for the pieces of this market puzzle looks something like this:

Genetic testing–>personalized secure fingerprint storage–>scientific correlations–>manufacturing–>delivery systems–>consumer education and branding

Genetic testing

Built off the platforms pioneered by the dna ancestry companies, the logistics of extracting dna from swab samples is here today. Through the mail today for $200 each, this is going to commoditize quickly.

It is easy to imagine this going to free either through kits, at your drugstore or school or part of testing for each child born.

This is not where the value or the money is. Free testing will be like free shipping is today.

Secure fingerprint storage

Blockchain has huge potential here for all the many privacy concerns but regardless of technology, it is my take that Amazon potentially is the incumbent to best capitalize on this.

As the footprint for the mass market, delivering customized solutions on a schedule through the mail seems like a huge annuity that they are potentially poised to exploit.

The knowledge base

This is the secret sauce. Where  science resides in the correlation engine.

This is where the almanacs of today’s wellness recipes meet the hard-core reality of connecting nutrients to altering the expressions of our genetic makeup.

This will not only be IDing what your makeups is malleable to but the best way for your body to injest the nutrient, be it pills, liposomal liquids, drips or even pens.

How regulation will play to this and the complications of certs and insurance and testing remains to be seen but will be obviously complex and every changing.

Custom manufacturing

The key to nutrigenomics is that much of the lore of wellness and almost almanac knowledge is moved to scientific connections.

For example, the question is not whether a nutrient like Turmeric is good for specific things, but precise correlations between your genetic makeup, how it might impact you and how well you absorb it, are the pieces that nutrigenomics pulls together.

It has been shown that there is a 70% variability of one drug or nutrient’s impact cross a small cross section of the population.

An industry is yet to formed to build customized solutions to genetically similar swatches of the population that can be delivered through platform like Amazon, direct to consumers, and direct to doctors and clinics for more invasive therapies like drip and injections.

Direct to consumer brand

Who will we trust for our solutions? Who are the mass market generations of experts that we will decide to believe in and buy their products?

Is this going to be your physician? Your sports medicine specialist?

Two things are certain here—the massive food brands, be they P & G, the package good conglomerates, or Amazon will be part of it and that they will not be the trusted brand developers in the beginning cycles.

We can see the beginnings of this today with point solutions around aging and vitality. That absorption technologies like liposomes will start to build inroads into the wellness market channels though in actuality we are still early.

The winners will be the brands that hold consumers trust.

On top of this massive pyramid of scientific research, data driven personalized manufacturing, delivery systems sits you and I.

Each of us with personal genetic fingerprint. Each of us with hopes for curative solutions, increased life and functionality, receiving a monthly package in the mail that should make our lives better.

First thoughts

I’m a technologist, brand builder and wellness fanatic, not a scientist.

But this is coming and for all of us, it can’t possibly come fast enough.

Please do share if you are closer to this in any of the areas.