An easier way to find the perfect apartment

I read a brief piece today and it brought to light the great opportunity people may have when looking for an apartment in New York City.

Airbnb, Wimdu, Booking and HomeAway are among the home sharing services that people coming into the city have been using to test out how the locals live while also looking for a place of their own.

Craigslist still remains an option for this, but it’s reputation has taken some shots over the years. People now wonder whether many of their listings are legitimate and have to be willing to take a major risk when they send out advance checks to cover their upcoming stay. Airbnb and others require upfront payment and have an internal screening process which can significantly reduce the amount o fraud on both ends.

I know at least a few locals who have used home sharing Web sites to find an apartment.

Whether moving to a new new city or just to a new apartment in the same neighborhood, finding the right place can be stressful and expensive. Home sharing can help reduce that stress a little — and more than likely some of the expense as well.

Airbnb Is ‘Good for Lonely People’

I found an interesting quote from Barry Diller reprinted by Peter Kafka in All Things D.

It’s certainly an interesting point, because – as many of us know — just the idea of traveling alone can be enough to dissuade many people from leaving home. Services such as Airbnb, Wimdu, Bookings, and HomeAway may be more enticing options to those who otherwise would have chosen not to travel outside their comfort zone.

Airbnb Is Good for Lonely People, Says Barry DillerNOVEMBER 15, 2013 AT 10:37 AM

Peter Kafka / All Things D

Airbnb is primarily additive. I don’t think it’s stealing much share from urban hotels. I think it’s serving people who didn’t travel because they were scared, or couldn’t afford it, or use it because it’s an antidote to loneliness. A room in someone’s house is not as valuable as a room at the Helmsley.

IAC’s Barry Diller, whose portfolio includes both Expedia and Match.com, talking to Bloomberg Businessweek.

It’s certainly an interesting point, because — as many of us know — just the idea of traveling alone can be enough to dissuade many people from leaving home. Services such as Airbnb, Wimdu, Booking and HomeAway may be more enticing options to those who otherwise would have chosen not to travel outside their comfort zone.

Let’s Make a Deal!

Bargaining is something that is at the core of many societies. When I was growing up, my friend’s dad was certainly an advocate. I’d often hear of how he would go to the Reedman car dealership in Pennsylvania to negotiate a good price on a car. I’ve sometimes wondered if he just went there for fun — whether he needed a car or not!

Famed Hungarian Psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote in one of his books about a man for whom he’d once worked. That man owned a shop and his greatest pleasure seemed to come from haggling over the price with prospective customers. In fact, if a customer didn’t argue, then the shop owner wouldn’t sell to them.

I’ve known other people who have an avid distaste for bargainers. A good number of farmers I’ve known couldn’t stand attending certain markets because the culture of many in those communities was to bargain prior to purchase. Farmers would set the price and customers would disregard any signs and ask, “How much?” If the farmer didn’t drop the price of the item, the customer would pound the table at the farmer’s stand and say, “Too much!” and walk away. In a few minutes, the same shopper would return, ask how much and then pay that price and leave with their item.

Many people don’t understand and/or welcome the drama, while others can’t do without it. To each his own.

While I have never haggled over the price of a car or produce at a farmers’ market, getting a discount is something that I’ve welcomed. It’s my belief that saving money is the same as making money. Armed with that mantra I’ve always been a big fan of getting a good deal.

The East Village is still a place where deals can be found if you know where to look. Most visitors don’t know where to find these deals, but technology today makes it much easier for even the novice to find good deals.

Some of those Web sites and mobile apps are as follows:

Scoutmob

Scoutmob is a part of the “tech-savvy” coupon trend that has emerged. Studies have stated that coupons have become increasingly popular “among a nontraditional population — those who are urban, well-to-do and tech-savvy”. Scoutmob provides location-aware coupons to users on their mobile phone. Deals offered on Scoutmob are free, so users can decide to get the deal on the platform but will only pay when they redeem it at the venue.

Groupon

Groupon is a deal-of-the-day Web site that features discounted gift certificates usable at local or national companies. The company offers one “Groupon” per day in each of the markets it serves. The Groupon is activated if a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available to all. Groupons include everything from discounts on neighborhood restaurants to massages to products and services.

Amazon Local

Amazon Local offers customers deals so they can enjoy deep discounts not only from local businesses, but also from national chains and online merchants. They deliver savings of up to 75 percent on restaurants, spas, events, travel getaways, hotels and more so you can enjoy familiar favorites and new experiences in NYC’s East Village.

Seamless

Seamless is an online food ordering service that allows users to order food for delivery and takeout from restaurants through their web site. Seamless does not prepare or deliver any food. Once a user submits an order, it is automatically sent to the chosen restaurant. The restaurant confirms the order with Seamless and then prepares and delivers the order. At many restaurants, users also have the option to pick up their meals from the restaurant.

Goldstar

Goldstar sells half-price tickets to leisure activities such as live entertainment, theatre, concerts, dance, film screenings, sporting events, and spa services. The company serves markets in the metro areas like New York and focuses on young people who may not ordinarily choose to go to live events other than movies and creates preference profiles for its members based on post-event surveys.

Unfortunately for some, you won’t get the pleasure that you may find when you bargain on your own. But for shop owners, the large majority likely will appreciate that you don’t.

Happy bargaining!

Super Bowl tickets available

As most everyone knows, the Super Bowl will be held in the New Jersey Meadowlands this year.

No matter what teams make it to this year’s game it’s intriguing to think of going because it’s so close to the city.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see the price of tickets and packages and they were more reasonable than I expected. Add to that the fact that it won’t require paying air fare or booking a hotel and it seems almost to0 difficult to pass up.

If you or any house guests are looking for tickets to the game, then you can buy tickets here.

Should You Tip For Bad Service?

Should you leave a tip if you’ve had terrible service at a restaurant? What about getting take-out: do you tip if you pick it up yourself? What’s a good tipping policy, anyway?

Ah, the perennial tipping quandary. It isn’t mandatory, for sure, but everyone knows that here in the U.S., the wait staff at restaurants makes a living largely thanks to the generosity of their customers. Tipping is customary, we know that much. But there really are few, if any black-and-white rules built into that custom. The result: most of us have, at one time or another, had a tipping-related question.

Get perspectives from others here.

For a terrific international tipping chart, go here.

Citi Bike discount on Groupon

Citi Bike is currently available at up to a 57 percent discount via Groupon. This discount can be a welcome thing for guests visiting the city.

Riders can pick up a bike in the East Village and pop over to Midtown to gaze at Rockefeller Center’s tree or Macy’s holiday window displays.

Citi Bike, operated by NYC Bike Share, is New York City’s new bike share system that was introduced on Memorial Day. Members can enjoy unlimited 30-minute rides between the stations. The bike-share program includes 332 stations scattered every few blocks throughout Manhattan below 59th Street and in Brooklyn neighborhoods including Williamsburg, Clinton Hill and Brooklyn Heights.

Groupon’s discount includes four options:

24-Hour Pass Options
$15 for three 24-hour passes ($29.85 total value)
$45 for ten 24-hour passes ($99.50 total value)

Seven-Day Pass Options
$25 for two 7-day passes ($50 total value)
$64.98 for six 7-day passes ($150 total value)

You Can’t Ignore the Threes: Slow Down Already!

I tend to pay attention to things when they come in threes within a short period of time. If it’s less than three, then it may just be a coincidence. When it takes more than three times to get my attention, then that would mean I’m either not present or avoiding the information.

Today, I got the message: SLOW DOWN!!!

I got the message from Dave Buck in “Real Coaching Revolution.” He wrote: “A lot of the time people are NOT present to what they are doing because they are so overwhelmed by having so many things to do. Slowing down and being present is a gift (play on words…”

That was magic number three!

The other two came over the past few days as I was finishing a couple of interesting books, “Pure Heart, Simple Mind” and “What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should do the Opposite.”

I enjoyed reading both of these books. Although I’d purchased both of them many months ago, it wasn’t until this past week that I decided to complete reading them.

Isn’t it interesting that I decided to do it at the same time and found the same message in both books as well as in Dave’s message? Some coincidence, eh?

It gets better…

Ironically, I had a house guest staying with me at the same time I was reading the aforementioned books and he remarked to me how much he enjoyed the signs I’d posted.

I have several signs posted around my apartment with the message, “Keep it Simple, Keep it Consistent.” I put them up just about two years ago when I was taking an online course on how to write a mini-book.

While this particular message didn’t use the exact words, “slow down,” it had the same meaning. In other words, don’t allow overwhelm to rein supreme. Slow down and takie baby steps will help ensure that your energy is continually moving toward a goal.

In Seishindo coach Charlie Badenhop’s “Pure Heart, Simple Mind,” he writes about his Aikido training. In a special advanced training class, Charlie is attacked by five other students to see how he’ll fare. As he’s attempting to fend off the attackers, his master called out to him to “slow down, slow down!” Unfortunately, he was subdued by the group. He tried the practice a second time and Sensei yelled out “slow down!” But, Charlie didn’t fare any better.

Sensei questioned whether Charlie believed him and went on to successfully demonstrate what he’d been suggesting.

The two then watched recordings of their performances. Sensei offered his analysis:

“‘See,’” he said, “you are never calm, never still. You’re trying to catch up with what’s going on, rather than leading the proceedings.

‘Notice the difference,’ he said, as we looked at the footage of him performing. ‘Movement, calmness, movement, calmness, and always in harmony with my breath.

‘If I move to soon, they charge after me. If I pause just a moment, they rush to the spot I was, and not the spot where I am. They focus on the past, while I do my best to stay in the present.

‘What’s making this hard for you is your lack of confidence and your belief that what your doing is difficult. The more you hurry the more you worry and the more your mind becomes scattered.

‘A scattered mind has no focus and no clear path. With no clear path, you become like a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming car. You become the prey.

‘I don’t want to overstate all of this,” Sensei said. ‘But, I’m guessing you may find the same to be true in your everyday life. Move less and do less and you’ll have all the time you need.’”

In science writer David DiSalvo’s “What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite he emphasizes the importance of slowing down:

“Slowing down providers time to consider how an issue has been framed and whether we really considered all the relevant factors. Pausing for just a moment can allow you to challenge yourself about an action you are about to take that could have horrible consequences, like responding to an email while driving instead of waiting until you can focus attention on the message you want to send — instead of parsing attention between the email and driving. Slowing down is, in short, fundamental to every topic in this book. If more of us would take just a couple extra moments to think an action through, we would all be much better off.”

While doing a lot quickly may seemingly move you toward your goal, it may in reality deplete your energy. Will power will only get you so far. It’s simply not sustainable over a long period of time. It may also prevent you from getting an accurate picture of what else is happening around you.

So why not choose to slow down, take a deep breath and evaluate your situation? You’ll may well be glad you did.

Pure Heart, Simple Mind

I met a fellow coach, Charlie Badenhop, in Tokyo a while back and I finally just recently took some time to read through his book, “Pure Heart Simple Mind.” Charlie is a New Yorker who moved to Japan many years ago. His book shares some of the wisdom he’s picked up during his time in Japan.

One of the stories he tells quotes his Aikido Sensei. Here is an excerpt:

“If it wasn’t for your suffering who would you be today?

Your answer will say a lot about the way you feel about yourself, the manner in which you approach learning and change, and the reason you come to class. You will improve the quality of your life by immersing yourself in your struggle rather than looking to escape from it. By realizing that pain is something you create inside your head.

I suggest you ask yourself, “How does my perception of my current problem, my current struggle, mirror my overall beliefs in life?

If your current situation stayed the same but you changed your belief system, would you still be suffering? How would your problems appear to be different if you were different?

Happiness and suffering are two sides of the same coin. Look for the happiness inherent in your current suffering, rather than looking to fix what you perceive to be wrong.”

For me, this really clarified the concept of suffering. It doesn’t suggest that we wallow around in our own suffering. Instead, it’s important to recognize suffering for what it is. Once we’ve recognized that suffering is the result of our flawed thinking, then we’re better equipped to move forward into happiness.

For more information about Charlie, his book and his coaching methodology, visit his Web site: http://www.seishindo.org/.

Oakland teams feel more East Village-like than NYC’s own squads

It may not be the East Village, but I’ find that there’s some kind of psychic connection between this neighborhood and the San Francisco Bay Area.

I know I’ve personally had a connection with the Bay (in particular with Oakland and it’s sports teams) for pretty much all my life.

I guess it’s for this reason I find it a little disconcerting to read how Oakland may soon lose not one but ALL of it’s professional sports teams — the A’s, Raiders and Warriors — to other cities.

I thought about this when I read an interesting article in this month’s ESPN The Magazine, which details the challenges in Oakland. See the article here, http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9758976.

I grew up a fan of Oakland’s teams and never wavered. People think I must be from the Bay Area, but I’m not. The reality is that I never chose these teams because I lived in Oakland or even because they played their games in Oakland. Quite frankly, it would have been much easier to have chosen local teams. It would have been easier to watch their games, I wouldn’t have gotten a lot more sleep when I was younger because I wouldn’t have had to stay up late listening to games on the radio or trying to catch the updates and final scores, and I would have been in agreement with the views of a majority of my friends .

But, I’ve never felt any connection to the Yankees, Giants, Rangers, Knicks etc. They may be New York sports teams, but I don’t think any of them is representative of the people who live in the East Village. I feel like the people of the East Village would be more inclined to support the A’s, Raiders and Warriors.

The Bay Area teams long have had an eclectic mix of players who mesh together in fun, creative ways. The Raiders are well-known for having brought renegade players to their teams and wound up having great teams for several decades. And the A’s, well they had the “Swingin’ A’s” in the 70s, Billy Ball in the early 80s, the Bash Brothers in the late 80s/early 90s, Money Ball in the first few years of this decade. For the last couple years, the A’s have brought together a group of young, fun-loving guys who are known for forming home run tunnels and smashing pies in the face of players responsible for walk-off victories. And, look at the Warriors! They almost accomplished the unbelievable in last year’s playoffs — falling just short of beating the perennial world champion San Antonio Spurs.

There’s something unique and different about the East Village, even today despite the gentrification that has taken place over the past couple decades. There is still that air of creativity, the progressive views, old-world charm, and the great nightlife that attracts people from all around. Its residents are unique, fun, creative mix of people not only from all around the country, but from all around the world.

No I’m NOT suggesting that the East Village try to steal away Oakland’s teams.

I just think that — like Oakland — it would take a lot to destroy the East Village’s uniqueness. Teams may come and teams may go. People may go and people can come, but for many of us the East Village remains the place that we call our home.

Pumpkins up the wazoo!

Today, I stopped for lunch at Chipotle restaurant and saw that St. Mark’s Market (21 St. Mark’s Place between 2nd and 3rd avenues) had a whole lot of pumpkins! People were stopping and taking photos as they walked by, so I joined the crowd and took one as well. There were plenty of pumpkins both inside the store and outside overflowing the whole area under the steps leading to Chipotole. Halloween is coming! Booooo!

Find more on the market here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/st-marks-market-new-york