June 18, 2019

Get More From Your Letters With Custom Stationery for Print or Pixels

Sure, emails and texts are easy ways to send written messages. But there are many times when an old-fashioned letter works best — for legal matters, for instance, or for official notices or personal recommendations.

To get the most out of those letters, it’s handy to have your own personalized stationery. It can add an important touch of professionalism. And with free tools and templates available, you can whip up a custom letterhead design in just a few minutes. Here’s how to get started.

Most major word-processing programs include a set of predesigned templates for many types of documents, including a business letterhead. Look for the “template gallery” in Apple Pages, Google Docs, Microsoft Word or another word-processing app. Some programs may even offer additional templates online to download if you don’t like the default collection. Online service like Adobe Spark, Canva and PS Print are other venues for the template approach to letterhead design.

Image
Google Docs, for Android and other platforms, offers a few basic letterhead templates to get you started.

With a template, you don’t need to get bogged down in layout details. The type styles and basic graphic design are already there, created with generic place-holder information. (You can usually tweak the fonts and colors, though.) So just replace the default text with your own name, address and other information and you have your letterhead.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/12/technology/personaltech/design-and-mail-your-own-letterhead-stationery.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

An Economist’s Argument for Preserving Communities

These threads dissolve in the hundreds of pages of vaguely sketched economic history that follow. While ably describing how both a growing market and a growing state have eroded the community’s relevance and vitality over time, Rajan gradually redefines the third pillar from “communities whose members live in proximity” to merely democracy or the “voting public.” An intrinsically valuable and varied local institution congeals into a homogeneous tool for ensuring that the market and state behave.

When genuine community does make a return in the book’s section on prescriptions, Rajan sacrifices it willingly. Having shown how the state has weakened community by seizing the role of safety net, he nevertheless wants to go further in that direction. America’s variety of antipoverty programs, “strung together with the help of the state government, the local government, private efforts and charitable funds” (in other words, “community”), are “inadequate,” he says, calling instead for “a basic level of unconditional federal economic support” along with universal health care. On one page, Rajan recommends that “powers should stay at the most decentralized level consistent with their effective use,” but on the next he declares that “when inclusiveness goes up against localism, inclusiveness should always triumph.”

Rajan’s real aim seems to be movement “toward one borderless world,” with stronger communities a perhaps helpful means to that end. “A central concern in this book,” he writes, “is about the passions that are unleashed when an imagined community like the nation fulfills the need for belonging that the neighborhood can no longer meet.” He recalls wistfully the days when “technocrats … did not have to spell out these arguments to the wider public.” Sure, “the elite did not engage” in any debate “as they abandoned the integrated community,” but he finds it “hard to fault their choice.” After all, “the meritocratic markets now demanded it.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/books/review/raghuram-rajan-third-pillar.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

This Legislation Could Force Stores to Take Your Cash

Ms. Pou, who represents the Paterson area, said that she had many constituents who lack bank accounts, including low-income families deterred by fees and minimum balance requirements. (A report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2017 estimated that 6.5 percent of American households were “unbanked.”) Older adults also may not have electronic payments set up, or be comfortable using them, she noted.

The penalties in the proposed bills range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. In the New Jersey bill, they could go up to $5,000 for a second offense. A spokesman said the governor was considering whether to sign the legislation.

Ms. Pou said that business groups and Amazon had expressed opposition to the bill, and she worked with businesses to include exceptions, including for airports, parking facilities, car rental companies and any “internet-based transaction.”

She added that she had asked Amazon, which is operating five pop-up stores and one bookstore in New Jersey, to come up with ideas for how they could serve those without a bank account, but that she did not hear back. Amazon declined to comment.

Massachusetts already has a little-known law requiring retail stores to accept both cash and credit. There have been calls for the legislature to clarify whether the law, approved in 1978, applies to restaurants.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/business/cashless-payments.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Fixtures: The Baumans, Sellers of Really, Really Rare Books

In a town of sparkle and flash, rare books are an anomaly, but for the Baumans, they are lucrative. One visitor spent $400,000 on “The Great Gatsby” and McKenney and Halls’ “History of the Indian Tribes of North America” in a single visit. Another, a quiet man in shorts, flip-flops and a T-shirt spent $15,000 on a first edition of “Huckleberry Finn” and then several weeks later returned to pick out a first edition of “The Catcher in the Rye” for $17,000. (One can only imagine what Holden Caulfield would think of that.)

But most receipts are well under $1,000, Ms. Bauman said. Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” is a bargain at $850, and a 1996 first edition of Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club” goes for about $1,000.

One Las Vegas visitor started with modest purchases. Then he became fascinated with Gould’s “Birds of Great Britain” an ornithological plate book that contains a series of spectacular plates, colored by hand, plunking down $100,000.

Later he paid $500,000 for a first edition of Isaac Newton’s “Principia.”

The couple got into rare books quite by accident, recalled David Bauman, a gentle, soft-spoken man in his 70s, after espying some at Freeman, the auction house in Philadelphia where they lived as newlyweds. “For $1 we bought a first edition of a volume of Samuel Johnson’s works, then we bought a first edition of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” for $12, and we started to think about it as a business,” he said. “We were not afraid then, because we did not know enough to be afraid.”

They opened a small store on the second floor of a building across the street from Freeman’s. “But what we did not realize is that most people don’t look up,” Mr. Bauman said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/30/style/bauman-books.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Squishiest, Sweetest Sleep

The water bed evolved nonetheless, shaking off its sleazy associations as a lame sexual prop and sight gag. By 1984, Waterbed Magazine fretted that its customers were aging, “edging toward the 40-year old category.” In 1986, according to the Waterbed Manufacturers Association, water bed sales reached nearly $2 billion — between 12 and 15 percent of the American mattress market — and retailers like Waterbed City, based in South Florida, were making millions of dollars.

While Mr. Hall was always touted as the father of the industry, he did not share in those riches, though he continued to advise a number of companies, and to design improvements to the original product, as did others. Gone were the shin-nicking wooden frames, and the early sloshings, as water beds went waveless and mainstream, encased in soft-edged mattress forms that looked just like their coil-filled cousins.

You could buy baby water beds, and suites of water bed furniture, including one wince-making number in dark wood paneling, the “Captain Pedestal,” that looked like a high boy married to a schooner.

By 1991, one of every five mattresses sold was a water bed. That same year, Mr. Hall won a lawsuit against a Taiwanese manufacturer for patent infringement. A jury awarded him $4.8 million, plus interest, which he shared with investors who had chipped in for his legal fees. “It was about the principle of the thing more than anything else,” he said.

Yet only a few years later, water beds had lost their luster. Traditional mattress companies figured out how to approximate the comforts of a water bed with pillow tops and foam, and most people turned away, though there were stalwarts who clung to their vinyl oddities like gear heads with an eight-track.

Water-bed manufacturers found other markets, like dairy-cow farmers, who had discovered that the soft structures protect their generally prone animals’ joints (dairy cows do their best work lying down). Wistful articles began to appear about the dwindling number of water-bed salesmen, and their loyal, aging customers. Last year, someone started a GoFundMe campaign to buy a bed from a dealer in Tampa, Fla., who was planning to shutter his 46-year-old business, raising $167.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/style/water-bed-founder.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

domains: The Squishiest, Sweetest Sleep

The water bed evolved nonetheless, shaking off its sleazy associations as a lame sexual prop and sight gag. By 1984, Waterbed Magazine fretted that its customers were aging, “edging toward the 40-year old category.” In 1986, according to the Waterbed Manufacturers Association, water bed sales reached nearly $2 billion — between 12 and 15 percent of the American mattress market — and retailers like Waterbed City, based in South Florida, were making millions of dollars.

While Mr. Hall was always touted as the father of the industry, he did not share in those riches, though he continued to advise a number of companies, and to design improvements to the original product, as did others. Gone were the shin-nicking wooden frames, and the early sloshings, as water beds went waveless and mainstream, encased in soft-edged mattress forms that looked just like their coil-filled cousins.

You could buy baby water beds, and suites of water bed furniture, including one wince-making number in dark wood paneling, the “Captain Pedestal,” that looked like a high boy married to a schooner.

By 1991, one of every five mattresses sold was a water bed. That same year, Mr. Hall won a lawsuit against a Taiwanese manufacturer for patent infringement. A jury awarded him $4.8 million, plus interest, which he shared with investors who had chipped in for his legal fees. “It was about the principle of the thing more than anything else,” he said.

Yet only a few years later, water beds had lost their luster. Traditional mattress companies figured out how to approximate the comforts of a water bed with pillow tops and foam, and most people turned away, though there were stalwarts who clung to their vinyl oddities like gear heads with an eight-track.

Water-bed manufacturers found other markets, like dairy-cow farmers, who had discovered that the soft structures protect their generally prone animals’ joints (dairy cows do their best work lying down). Wistful articles began to appear about the dwindling number of water-bed salesmen, and their loyal, aging customers. Last year, someone started a GoFundMe campaign to buy a bed from a dealer in Tampa, Fla., who was planning to shutter his 46-year-old business, raising $167.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/style/water-bed-founder.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Robert Plotnik, ‘Bleecker Bob’ of Record-Store Fame, Dies at 75

For nearly 50 years, until it closed in 2013, the business that Mr. Plotnik began with a fellow record collector, Al Trommers, drew rock fans and performers to its quirky selection. And although it originally specialized in oldies, it soon switched its focus to the cutting edge, helping to popularize emerging musicians by sales and by word of mouth.

“Without him it’s unlikely there would be the Ramones, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, New York Dolls, so many acts now so well established in the music firmament but 40 years ago just whispers,” the critic Roger Friedman wrote on the website Showbiz411. “CBGB’s and the Mudd Club were where you heard the music, but Bleecker Bob’s was where you held, felt it, saw it, listened to it, bought it.”

Customers emerged from local clubs and coffeehouses and lingered in the store until 3 a.m., or as long as the mercurial Mr. Plotnik would indulge them.

“I used to cut school and hang out in his store until he threw me out and banned me,” Harley Flanagan, a founder of the band the Cro-Mags, wrote on Facebook. “I remember being mad at him for a long time because of it, but the truth is he just felt that I should be in school and not cutting school. As I got older I realized he was actually a really good guy when he wasn’t screaming at people and kicking them out of his store.”

Robert Edward Plotnik was born on Aug. 28, 1943, in Baltimore and raised in New Jersey. His father, Jack, was a cabdriver. His mother, Elsie (Robinson) Plotnik, was a homemaker. In addition to Ms. Kitzer, he is survived by a daughter, Alexandra Plotnik.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/03/obituaries/robert-plotnik-bleecker-bob-dead.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Wellness ‘For the Culture’

Ask yourself: What do I eat normally and what is the healthier version of that? “You don’t have to lose your culture. I still eat rice and beans. I just use brown rice now,” said Ms. Santana. Swap white bread for whole wheat. Use nut milks instead of milk. “It’s easy transitions that start people on the path to eating healthy. They can see that it doesn’t have to be hard, bland or expensive,” said Ms. Santana. She recommends White Castle’s Impossible sliders, a meatless alternative, to people newly transitioning from a traditional American diet to a plant-based diet. “It shows being vegan doesn’t have to mean eating flavorless food.”

When she first went vegan, Ms. Santana was always left out of family meals and felt alienated. But eventually, with her help, her brother, and then parents started eating primarily plant-based diets. Instead of the Dominican staple, sancocho, her mother now makes a vegan root vegetable stew for the family. Bell pepper, garlic, sweet peppers, cilantro, celery, and vinegar flavor the base, while the traditional beef is replaced with tubers and root vegetables — kabocha squash, cassava, plantains, yams, and yellow and white eddoe. “It’s hearty and delicious,” said Ms. Santana.

Homemade smoothies are most economical. Buy greens and fruit in season and freeze them for days and months to come, says Ms. Santana. That way you can make a new blend every day. “You have to be connected to the foods that make you feel good. Until you make things yourself you won’t know what those foods are,” said Ms. Santana. Try her favorite post-workout green smoothie: banana, green apple, kale or spinach, almond butter, and almond milk. “It’s nutty, not too sweet, and filling,” she said.

If you need to grab-and-go, look for healthy-living shops in your neighborhood, owned by people from your neighborhood. Ms. Santana’s favorite juice bar, Juices for Life, is on a mission to bring healthy food options to neighborhoods that don’t have them. The smoothies are $5 or $6. “If you’re waiting to go downtown to get a smoothie at say, Juice Press, it’s like, ‘O.K., here’s my whole check for the week,’” she said. “Juices for Life is delicious with all the healthy, organic ingredients, but at an accessible price point for my community.”

Your neighborhood may not have a juice bar, but it probably has a bodega that makes fresh juice. And most restaurants have a vegan option. There may not be a Whole Foods with organic options, but you can request the goods you want with your local supermarket manager, suggests Ms. Santana. “Open the lines of communication with your local shops and restaurants,” she said. “If enough people request gluten-free or dairy-free, a larger range of produce, and even kale, they will provide it. Trust me. I’ve done it.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/01/style/self-care/black-latina-wellness.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Gregg Renfrew of Beautycounter on Toxic Chemicals and Getting Fired by Messenger

First, she made a list of more than 1,500 potentially harmful ingredients that she vowed never to use in her products. Next, she turned the conventional business model on its head, eschewing department stores in favor of a network of independent consultants — think Avon rather than Estée Lauder. Finally, she embarked on a campaign to introduce new regulation to the personal care industry, noting that the last comprehensive law governing it was passed in 1938.

Beautycounter, which is privately held, has raised some $86 million from investors including the U2 frontman Bono and the private equity firm TPG, and is valued at about $400 million.

This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted in New York.

What was your childhood like?

My father worked in finance. He was quite successful early on, but then fell on hard times. My mother started working to support the family, selling real estate, and also buying houses and renovating them. We moved 11 times when I was little, and it was a good learning experience for me. From a very early age I understood the value of money, how quickly it can come and go, and the need to be financially independent. I’m not driven by money to be extremely wealthy. I’m driven to not have to worry about money, which is a different thing.

What did you do after college?

When I graduated, my mother gave me a black briefcase with my initials on it and a check for $5,000 and said: “This should be enough to get you your first and last month’s payment on an apartment, and some furniture, and a suit. You’re on your own.” I wanted to go be a ski bum. My mom said, “You can do whatever you want to, but this is the only money you’re going to get.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/21/business/gregg-renfrew-beautycounter-corner-office.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Corner Office: Gregg Renfrew of Beautycounter on Toxic Chemicals and Getting Fired by Messenger

First, she made a list of more than 1,500 potentially harmful ingredients that she vowed never to use in her products. Next, she turned the conventional business model on its head, eschewing department stores in favor of a network of independent consultants — think Avon rather than Estée Lauder. Finally, she embarked on a campaign to introduce new regulation to the personal care industry, noting that the last comprehensive law governing it was passed in 1938.

Beautycounter, which is privately held, has raised some $86 million from investors including the U2 frontman Bono and the private equity firm TPG, and is valued at about $400 million.

This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted in New York.

What was your childhood like?

My father worked in finance. He was quite successful early on, but then fell on hard times. My mother started working to support the family, selling real estate, and also buying houses and renovating them. We moved 11 times when I was little, and it was a good learning experience for me. From a very early age I understood the value of money, how quickly it can come and go, and the need to be financially independent. I’m not driven by money to be extremely wealthy. I’m driven to not have to worry about money, which is a different thing.

What did you do after college?

When I graduated, my mother gave me a black briefcase with my initials on it and a check for $5,000 and said: “This should be enough to get you your first and last month’s payment on an apartment, and some furniture, and a suit. You’re on your own.” I wanted to go be a ski bum. My mom said, “You can do whatever you want to, but this is the only money you’re going to get.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/21/business/gregg-renfrew-beautycounter-corner-office.html?partner=rss&emc=rss