Happy New Year!

Can't let today go unmarked. Plus the quotes book. And, 7 other things worth your time.

“Like looking both ways before crossing the street and then getting hit by a submarine.”

Clarke Smith, age 9, of Beverly Hills, Mich. who got the “best summation” accolade in a Washington Post feature looking for the best way to describe 2020 as it ended.


Happy New Year everyone! This will be a short message, but I just wanted to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to our new friend, 2021, which has promised to be a lot happier, healthier, and all-around better than its predecessor.

We’ve had a lot of people sign up for Understandably during my holiday sabbatical, so I’d like to welcome you all as well. If someone forwarded this to you or you just came across it, I hope you’ll sign up below.


The long-promised ebook of inspirational quotes is out! Thanks to the 50+ Understandably readers who helped me come up with some of these.

I have to say: For a first effort, it turned out quite well and I learned a lot. But I already have a lot of plans for smarter, faster, better ebooks in the new year. Details to come.

Oh, here’s the link. That will bring you to a very short page where I ask for your email, just because, and then forward you to a Dropbox file.

(I wonder if there’s a better way for me to host these kinds of things. Ideas welcome!)


I’m starting the New Year as God intended: sitting in the parking lot outside a Dunkin’ Donuts in rural New Hampshire, stealing their wifi.

I’ll be back on Monday with all kinds of fun details about the last two weeks, some great new stories, some formatting and structure things I want to try—and the long-awaited “way forward” for Understandably.

Happy New Year, joking aside, and thanks for being here!


7 other things worth your time

  • How foreign scammers siphoned $36 billion in fraudulent unemployment payments from the United States during a pandemic. (USA Today)

  • A former preschool teacher was in “a dark place” when he was laid off in September after two decades on the job. Last week, he won $250,000 in a scratch-off lottery. This is a nice story, and you feel good for the teacher, who said he wants to save for his daughter’s education and put a down payment on a house. But also: wouldn’t it be nice if people who worked for two decades could just have a bit of job security and ability to provide for their families? (ABC 13)

  • I’ve been writing for Business Insider recently, and came across a kind of unusual story: a Los Angeles woman, 29, who moved with her husband to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The story is behind a paywall, so be forewarned if you’re interested enough to read. The crux is about their culture shock, but also how they’re reveling in the fact that they could buy a home on the water in Halifax for less than it cost to rent a small apartment in L.A. (Business Insider, yours truly)

  • Yurts, igloos and pop-up domes: How safe is ‘outside' restaurant dining this winter? (NPR)

  • As if we don’t have enough challenges already, authorities say a health care worker “intentionally” destroyed 500 doses of a coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in Wisconsin. (Washington Post)

  • This was just a nice moment to look back on at the end of the year, when Avraham Mintz and Zoher Abu Jama, paramedics working together in Israel, stopped their ambulance to pray together. “Mintz, a religious Jew, stood facing Jerusalem, his white and black prayer shawl hanging off his shoulders. Abu Jama, an observant Muslim, knelt facing Mecca, his maroon and white prayer rug unfurled underneath him.” (CNN)

  • I had no idea that Anthony Hopkins was in recovery from alcohol addiction, but he just celebrated 45 years of sobriety (longer than a lot of readers have been alive!) with a very nice and touching video. “Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday.” Congratulations to him, and to anyone else struggling out there. (Good Morning America, Twitter)

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