Date Night Savannah: Fire & Wine at Foxy Loxy


I was lucky enough to get a Saturday evening off recently and saw a post from one of my favorite cafes in the neighborhood, Foxy Loxy.

It turns out that every Saturday night from 7-11, they put together some s'mores kits, knock half off their bottles of wine, and light two fire pits in their courtyard.

It really is a beautiful, relaxing night with great people-watching. We shared a bottle of rosé and skipped the s'mores, but if we'd gone with the dessert in addition to the wine, we would have come in under $30 for a lovely evening together.

You can bet anytime I take a day shift instead of my usual evening shift on a Saturday, you can find us in the courtyard at Foxy Loxy for a couple of hours. Hope to catch you there!

Guess what? I’m launching a podcast!

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I've finally decided to launch a podcast. It's been in the works for a while. I had to learn some stuff. I had to make some decisions on platforms, equipment, what it's going to be, if and how it's going to make money and all that stuff.

Anyway, I'm excited to get it started.

The introductory episode is Episode 0; you can find it here. Episode 1: Impossible, is also up, here.

Go to podcasts page for subscription information.

I'm also launching a Patreon campaign with it. Go check it out.

Scam alert: Craigslist sale items

I wanted to tell you about this Craigslist scam someone tried on us. We ended up losing a little bit of money on the sale item, but didn't end up losing any actual cash or getting involved in much legal stuff (we wound up sending everything to the local police, but didn't need to get involved beyond sending them our records).

I'm providing this as something to watch out for, especially as some people start to clear out old stuff after holiday presents and clean out old stuff as they make their resolutions.

So, here goes.

We listed a washer/dryer on Craigslist for $200. We had little luck and finally agreed to let a purchaser send a check; he said he'd send a bank check with a little extra money for his movers, who would be in touch to arrange pickup.

When the check arrived, we found that it wasn't a bank check – it was a printed check drawn on a business account in New York. The check had been mailed from Florida, and was for $1,450 – fully $1,250 more than the asking price for the appliances. I looked up the business, and it was listed as a property restoration firm with $120,000 in annual sales.

It was immediately evident to me that it was a counterfeit check. While the business name and address on the check matched the listing and the routing number matched the bank the check was drawn on, no one is entrusting strangers with over 1% of their annual intake.

After receiving the check, I sent a message to the "purchaser" to say that the check was received and that I wasn't comfortable with the amount, and that I would return it. He said not to worry about it, that was fine.

That's when I knew for sure it was a scam, and I tucked the check in a drawer and cut off communication with the "purchaser."

He tried to get us over the next couple of days, saying that he got confirmation from the bank that the funds had cleared from the deposit, then that the mover would like funds through Western Union as an advance (he named an individual in Chicago) and then finally a couple of messages to say that the check had cleared and he was suspicious that I hadn't returned his messages.

I learned through a mutual LinkedIn contact that the person listed as owner/partner of the business listed on the check had had both his email and LinkedIn accounts hacked over the past couple of years, and his contacts regularly received spam messages.

Officers with the fraud department at Savannah-Chatham Metro PD assure me this is a common scam, and I've turned over all the info I have to them. Good luck with your Craigslisting this season.

Bringing conversation back into our lives

Aristotle was...pretty good at conversing.

Aristotle was...pretty good at conversing.

One of my favorite things about Freemasonry is what many organizations (including churches and the like) call "fellowship." In modern-day English, we call it "hanging out." When we're not in a formal meeting (or sitting formally at prayer, for instance), we're still gathered with like-minded folk, eating, drinking and, most of all, talking.

As someone who works from home and communicates with my coworkers via an online chat if we need to (sometimes we just sit around independently and work for 45 minutes or so without saying anything), I don't have an opportunity to grab lunch with a coworker or chat with someone at the water cooler or coffee pot.

And, in fact, in turns out, even people who do work in offices together aren't talking to each other as much as they used to. Same with people who sit around the dinner table, staring at their phones instead of talking to each other.

Author Sherry Turkle has been writing about it for a while now. She has a new book called Reclaiming Conversation, which is about bringing conversation back into our lives.

It's an extension, really, of work she did for another book on being alone, even if we're connected. Here's her TED talk on it from 2012.

She talks more about the new book on the Art of Manliness podcast.

In the lessons of the second degree of Freemasonry, we learn about the seven liberal arts and sciences we should really study to become well-rounded humans. Of the seven, three really relate to conversation: logic, grammar and rhetoric.

I won't go into detail here, not because there's anything secret in the ritual, but because practicing the art of conversation is so much more important than sitting by yourself reading this. But if you want want to learn more, The Masonic Roundtable has great discussions on each:

Grammar
Rhetoric
Logic

Stop looking for the next thing

I've been getting hit over the head with this lately, mostly thanks to Duncan Trussell.

"Do what you're doing, shut the fuck up and enjoy it," Michael Donovan tells himself on Trussell's podcast, the Duncan Trussell Family Hour.

Trussell also recently had Onnit's Aubrey Marcus on the show. Marcus is someone who has built a business that was initially basically a supplement store, then added fitness equipment, then a training program and now a gym. He hasn't grown the business because he wanted to build a bigger business. He's grown it because he enjoyed doing these things, and he built a business around what he enjoyed doing.

Kyle Eschenroeder wants us to slow down, skip the life hacking and do things to completion. Listen to him on the Art of Manliness podcast discussing philosophy, entrepreneurship and enjoying the process.

Don't worry about what's coming up, or what you do next, or how to take care of the thing you're working on in the quickest manner possible. Just focus on what you have going on, and keep it steady.

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The years is almost 3/4 over; how are you coming on your goals?


[by Steve Hillebrand]

We're heading into October. I don't know if you noticed, but the Earth keeps spinning, the sun keeps rising and setting, and time keeps on ticking.

Another week, and the year will be three-quarters over. Take that week, look back at your goals, and charge into Q4 with a renewed zeal for what you wanted to accomplish this year.

I've done pretty well. My goals were largely esoteric; here's a look at what they were. But I've started some new things, seen some stuff through to conclusion, and the final three months of 2015 will include a move from the suburbs into the city, my first half marathon, some visitors from different parts of our lives and settling into some new routines.

How about you?

Open letter to my niece

My sister's baby was due July 31, but has decided to make everybody wait. She and her husband have started a private Facebook group for family and close friends to come together around the impending birth. I posted this letter the other day, and a lot of people have said they're moved by it, so I thought I'd share with everybody.

Note that they are using the nickname "Kishkah." It makes sense for us Jews. The rest of you can Google it. Enjoy.

Dearest Kishkah,

I know where you are is warm, and food comes whenever you want it, without effort. I also know that change is scary, that New England is getting ready to enter its cold season, and that trying to get attention for food is not a happy prospect.

But there are some things you should understand.

The world you are entering is amazing. There are trees and flowers and big metal boxes that move people around at remarkable speeds. There are love and heartache.

There are smells and tastes — refueling your body in this world is so much more wondrous than getting nutrients through a cord.

The planet you will inherit is in need of some help, to be sure, but we are currently adding one day to the human life span every two months; by the time you can vote, we'll be closer to adding a day to the life span every day or two. You'll be a member of the first generation that could potentially live indefinitely, and I have no doubt you and your cohort will use your lives for good, to help each other and the world as necessary.

It sounds like a big responsibility, but understand that you'll have help. Your parents will be your first line of help, but there are hundreds of hands right behind them. In no time, you'll be able to communicate with them and with others you will introduce into the group. And soon after that, it will be your turn to run the show — a much bigger show than the one you're running now, which is composed of merely a single choice: to stay in the comfort you feel now, or to take a bold step into the world.

I hope you'll choose the second. We'll see you soon.

Love,
Uncle Josh

Date night Savannah: Bar Food, CO, river, Bohemian and Leopold’s

We set out for a networking event last week, and found it was canceled. Woo! A reason to go out and try new places!

2015-06-18 18.00.06We'd been meaning to get to Bar Food for a while, but it's in a part of town we don't go to a lot, but it was right around the corner from our canceled event, so we went, had a beer and a snack. They have a solid selection of craft brews and the other usuals. I had a Two Boots, while Jenny had a cider. We shared a cheese board, which came with some toast, four cheeses, local honey, some pickles and strawberries. Great way to start the evening. The menu looked really good; the crowd was interesting — it's a contemporary, kind of hipster place, but the crowd leaned not exactly biker, but not exactly not biker.

We then headed downtown to another place that was on my list, CO, which recently opened in Savannah after having restaurants in Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Our server, Grace, soft-sold us some cucumber mojitos, which were light and refreshing on a 103-degree day. We had summer rolls and gyoza (pork dumplings) as appetizers — both delicious — and Jenny ordered some pad thai while I had a tiger roll, which their menu describes as "shrimp, surimi salad, cucumber, yamagobo, avocado, unagi sauce, spicy aioli." We were both very pleased with the meals, and with the overall atmosphere. We sat at the sushi bar, but there's also a bar in the front, some booths in the back, a couple of high tops and some long tables should you decide you might want to meet a couple of people. The electronic dance music was quiet and suited the space well. We'll be back, though we're worried this will become a hot spot and we won't be able to get a seat next time.

A photo posted by Josh Shear (@joshuanshear) on

Left, from top: Pork gyoza, cucumber mojito, summer roll. Right, from top: Pad thai with chicken and shrimp, tiger roll

With quite full bellies, we wandered on down to the river to sit for a bit. If you're ever wondering why we might have moved here, it's because we can park, walk and have this view about 330 nights a year.

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We finally decided after almost an hour to get up and visit a bar we'd gone to once and found it too crowded (at 10:00 on a Friday night). Rocks on the Roof at the Bohemian Hotel. The rooftop is open on two sides, one overlooking the Savannah River, and one overlooking the crowds on Bay Street and Founders Walk. We sat on the river side on a sofa and sipped a gin and tonic, and met a recently engaged couple. The electronic dance music seemed a little loud out of place for a space that's reminiscent of more of a jazz cocktail lounge, but it's still a cool spot.

Cute, happy and on a rooftop. #visitsavannah #savannah #datenight

A photo posted by Josh Shear (@joshuanshear) on

2015-06-18 21.47.03-1Our last stop for the night was, of course, at Leopold's. If you're new to the area or just visiting and the line out the door has turned you off, don't sweat it. The bend in the line at the curb is about a seven-minute wait, the ice cream is homemade and the soda fountain is basically the same as it was in 1930-whatever. I love the butter pecan ice cream, but pictured here is a dish of chocolate chewies and cream and a hot fudge sundae, which are both also delicious. They even have seasonal flavors; the Japanese cherry blossom is light and creamy and wonderful.

And apparently they also make good soups and such, but for now, we're happy working our way through the ice cream menu.

Where should we go next, Savannah?

In defense of silly

Stop taking yourself so seriously. Every now and then, you have to just let yourself go.

2015-03-15 07.08.30A few weeks ago I did a 5k. It went fine. It's been a tumultuous six months, and I'd only just recently had the opportunity to start getting back into a running and general fitness routine. It went better than fine, really; I figured I'd come in at 38 minutes or so, and then I added in a costume and a Camelbak full of water, so maybe closer to 42 minutes. But it was 36 minutes, even all decked out.

Oh, and all decked out I was! Check out that photo! Green* fu manchu! Giant glass of green beer on my head! Suspenders! Shamrock shades!

To some extent, I think I'd become grumpy old guy. Maybe it was the severe Syracuse skies as winter approached again. Maybe it was working nights. I don't know. But I'd been taking myself way too seriously for a while.

Given the new setting, and the fact that I knew pretty much no one, I figured I'd go a little nuts. And it felt good to get high-fived and have strangers ask for photos. No need of deep conversation, no judgment, just a bit of old-fashioned silliness.

See the team photo at the previous post.


*The green "dye" was green food coloring and an aloe lotion. It came right out of my beard, off my hands, off the shirt and out of the dish. Use an aloe gel instead; it'll probably actually dry and set, which this never did.