I have known my wife nearly 9 years. We have been together seriously for 8 of those, and married for almost six. In that time, I got to know her (large) family very well; better than most of my own family really. There was only one person I never got to know: her Uncle Ed. …

How the world’s hottest fitness craze really is like a cult

In the last few years, a number of my friends have taken up CrossFit. I know this because they don’t shut up about it. When I’m around more than one of them at a time, it completely changes the way we socialize and speak.

I’ve sit through business dinners at fine restaurants where the entire conversation centered around personal records (“PRs”), One Rep Max (“1RM”) and what to the untrained ear sounds like the description of oddly shaped, multi-dimensional lumber—7x5x3x1, 5x5x5x5, 3x1x3x1x3x1, etc. etc.

I used to think a wad was just something you created when you folded a stack…

A look at the school is a look in the mirror

Duke University is the smallest, smartest and most selective of the three colleges in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina (the other two are UNC and NC State). Its total enrollment is under 7000, it accepts less than 15% of the people who apply, and this year it is #7 in the US News & World Report National University Rankings (UNC is #30, NC State is #101).

As an academic and research institution, Duke is second to none. It sits at the apex of the area’s “Research Triangle,” with many of its graduates funneling into the biotech, pharma and computing…

How America’s Dog Parks are just like its High Schools

The ubiquity of dog parks in America’s towns and cities is a relatively recent phenomenon. I grew up in a progressive, pet-friendly Northern California town of 75,000 and we didn’t get a dog park until 2002. Like most Americans over 30, as a child and then as a teenager, when I wanted to take my dogs somewhere and let them roam free, I had to find a deserted baseball diamond or high school football field and then hope they didn’t run away. …

How Whole Foods Attracts Complete Shitheads.

I’ve shopped at Whole Foods in every time zone, in at least 10 different cities: LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Austin, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, DC and Richmond, VA. I love Whole Foods. Scratch that, I love the products Whole Foods sells, no matter what other people might have to say about them. Maybe the simplest way to phrase it is, I love whole foods. Whole Foods as an experience, that’s a whole other matter.

But here’s what sucks for Whole Foods: it has nothing to do with their employees. Across the board, across the country, they have been helpful…

And guess what: it’s all your fault

One of my best friends from college is a very successful, accomplished woman. Her name is Sarah, but that’s not important here. Sarah’s childhood was a paint-by-numbers version of the Ugly Duckling fairy tale, set in the hilly exurbs of Greater Los Angeles during that odd transitional period in American culture between the late ‘80s and mid ’90s. She developed late, she was anxious and somewhat awkward, she was a bit uncomfortable in her own skin, and the awful clothes from that period didn’t do her any favors. …

In a rare bout of coordinated lucidity from an industry known for making even its most loyal customers question the existence of God or justice, Delta Airlines and Jet Blue have announced they are banning in-flight voice calls on all their planes. The decision comes in response to overwhelming consumer feedback sought by a number of different airlines in the wake of deliberations by both the FAA and FCC to relax or remove prohibitions on in-flight cellphone usage.

While usage rules have already been relaxed for take-off and landing since early November—a welcome relief for many cell-phone…

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Modern Life Lessons from History’s Greatest Sculptor

I edit books for a living. Actually, that’s not true. I edit manuscripts. When I am done (and they are formatted), then they are books. Before they get to me, most manuscripts are essentially a collection of strong ideas and great stories that have been suffocated by authorial self-doubt, insecurity, and bias. My job, as the editor, is to clear all of that away and expose the greater truths that sit at the core of these stories. I shape the words around the mold created by their intent so that the ideas may come to life like they already do…

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Why Cheating isn’t Always Cheating, Until it is

Everything happens for a reason. It’s trite, but true. Not in the way pageant contestants and hipster spiritualists say it. I’m not an asshole. It’s true in the sense that everything happens as a result of some combination of events leading up to that point. Most people don’t want to spend the time or the emotional energy thinking through the implications of this idea. Instead, they come up with lots of cute little aphorisms to describe why nothing is ever their fault.

Everything happens for a reason. Every cloud has a silver lining. Glass half-full. Bad things happen to good…

Nils Parker


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