Tag Archives: Amazon

Roundup: Amazon — And More Books …


Connecticut — already in the Top 5 states nationwide for its COVID vaccine program — took a huge step forward yesterday.

Governor Lamont announced the expansion of the vaccine to everyone over the age of 16. The planned date to begin scheduling those shots is April 5. That’s significantly ahead of the previous target date.

This Friday (March 19), scheduling opens to all residents age 45 to 54.

For information on making appointments and finding the closest available clinic. click here. You can also call Connecticut’s vaccine appointment assist line: 877-918-2224 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Other vaccine providers include:

Yale New Haven Health
Sign up online here, or call 833-275-9644

CVS Health (limited locations)
Sign up online here, or call 800-679-9691.

Walgreens (limited locations)
Sign up online here, or call 800-925-4733

Stamford Health
Sign-up online here, or call 203-276-7300.

Hartford Healthcare
Sign-up online here, or call 860-827-7690.

Infants are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine. Maybe soon though …


The best selling book on Amazon yesterday was LifeLines: An Inspirational Journey from Profound Darkness to Radiant Light.

And by “best selling,” I mean just that. Westporter Melissa Bernstein’s book about her battle with existential anguish and depression was #1.

Not just in the self-help category. Not in “books by women authors.” Not in any of the dozens of other categories that Amazon uses to try to create buzz.

Lifelines was Amazon’s best selling book, among the bajillions of titles the retail behemoth sells.

It may have gotten a boost from fellow Westporter David Pogue’s segment about it on “CBS Sunday Morning,” the day before.

But it also benefits from being a very important book, by a well-known and very honest writer, at a time when talking (and reading) about mental health is crucial.


Alec Lobrano graduated from Weston High School in 1973. Until he landed a job in the Paris office of Women’s Wear Daily, his experience with French cuisine was limited to browsing cookbooks at the Weston Library, where he worked as a teenager.

But he carved out a niche as a food critic in Paris. The lessons he learned from leading culinary figures helped him master fine dining, and also find his place as a gay man navigating the alluring city and his exciting career.

Lobrano has won several James Beard Awards. He writes on food and travel for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Food & Wine, Eater, Condé Nast Traveler and more.

His memoir — My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris — will be published June 1.

The book is filled with vivid descriptions of Parisian restaurants, his favorite and least favorite meals, and run-ins with figures from like Julia Child and Ruth Reichl. It’s also a coming-of-age story about the healing power of food. Click here for details.


On March 30 (7 p.m.), Westport takes center ice in hockey world.

NBC Sports’ Emmy-winning NHL broadcaster Mike Emrick sits with USA Today‘s veteran beat writer Kevin Allen, for a discussion about Emrick’s new book, Off Mike.

The candid discussion about his exciting life is free. Click here to register.


Weston’s beloved Jolantha celebrates St. Patrick’s Day:

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)


And finally … though the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, was officially ratified in 1865, it took 130 more years for Mississippi’s formal approval. It happened on this day in 1995.

Avi Kaner Does Bloomberg

Westport knows Avi Kaner as our 2nd selectman.

Yesterday, the rest of America knew him as a grocery store expert.

Kaner was interviewed by Bloomberg TV. The subject was Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, and how rival businesses can compete on price.

The owner of Morton Williams — a 15-store New York supermarket chain — could not see the graphics being shown. If he’d been able to, Kaner says, he would have responded specifically to them.

Avi Kaner on TV.

Nonetheless, he did a great job answering questions like how responsive suppliers will be to Kaner compared to Jeff Bezos, and how to avoid a price war when Amazon/Whole Foods doesn’t mind one.

For Kaner’s deep dive into all things avocado, guacamole and banana, click here.

Friday Flashback #48

The news that Amazon is buying Whole Foods has everyone atwitter.

Perhaps the mammoth company that delivers nearly everything except babies will now make those pesky supermarket food runs obsolete too.

What could be better than, say, having fresh milk delivered right to your home?

Jeff Bezos, meet Marty McFly. And both you guys, meet the milkman.

(Photo copyright Paul Ehrismann)

Back in the day, Westport was awash in milkmen. Ferris (on North Morningside), Wade’s, Clover Farms* — they and many other local dairies brought milk straight to your doorstep. Sometimes, they’d even put it in your refrigerator icebox.

Sounds like a great idea whose time has come.

And gone.

And come again.

If that works, maybe we can also ask doctors to come to our homes too.

I’ve got just the name too. We could call them “house calls.”

*Never heard of Clover Farms? That’s because it turned into a slightly larger business called Stew Leonard’s. You know — “the worlds largest dairy store.” They don’t use an apostrophe — but they do sell cashmere.

Stew Leonard Jr.: Amazon Purchase Of Whole Foods “A Game-Changer”

Amazon’s proposed $13.4 billion purchase of Whole Foods has rocked the grocery and retail industries.

An hour ago, Stew Leonard Jr. was one of the experts CNBC called on for expert reaction.

Stew Leonard Jr. (Photo courtesy/Westchester Magazine)

The president and CEO of the small but influential chain called the deal — which includes a store on the Westport border just a mile from Stew’s Norwalk flagship location — “a game-changer in the industry.”

Amazon’s technological know-how “will revolutionize how people buy food and get it delivered,” he added.

Leonard — whose grandfather Charles Leo Leonard founded the store’s predecessor, Clover Farms Dairy, and personally delivered milk straight from the farm to local customers — saw today’s announcement as a return to those days.

“The cost of the last mile of delivery has been dropping,” he noted.

Leonard also cited the growing number of millennials as a factor. Using his 31-year-old daughter as an example, he said that her generation expects every purchase to be deliverable.

However, he continued, “retailers have to get snappier” about how they present the purchasing experience.

“We try to make it fun,” he said, with plenty of animation and the chance to see mozzarella balls being made fresh.

However, he acknowledged, buying cereal and water in a store is far less exciting.

(Click here for the full 4:42 interview.)

When Amazon gets into delivery of Whole Foods products, will the animals at Stew’s be less of a draw?

David Pogue Helps Us $ave Money, Basically

David Pogue can’t believe that Westporters still pay to get flat tires repaired. Town Fair and other chains fix flats for free — it generates goodwill.

Westport’s leading tech guru/TV personality/author also is surprised at how few folks know that E-Z Pass offers a carpool rate — a big one. If you’ve got at least 3 people in your car, it costs $6.50 — not $12.50 — each time you drive to or from New York. (You do have to go through a manned gate and say “Carpool.” And you need to sign up in advance.)

Pogue notes too that our new Starbucks — like the other squintillion of them — offers unlimited 50-cent refills of coffee or tea (hot or iced).

Also worth noting: The smallest Starbucks serving is called the Tall. But an even smaller one does not appear on the menu: the Short. It’s less expensive, of course — and perfect for a little zap of something. It even contains the same amount of espresso as a Tall.

David Pogue, thinking of ways to save money.

David Pogue, thinking of ways to save money.

Pogue is astonished that Americans leave money on the table every day. And we do it every time we use cash machines, book flights, buy insurance or shop for clothes.

Because Pogue is such a good guy — as well as a clever person, and excellent writer — he’s sharing 150 tips for saving money. They’re collected in his latest book: Pogue’s Basics: Money.

Here are a few:

  • You can get 5 percent off anything you ever buy on Amazon. Just sign up for the Amazon Prime Store Card, a virtual credit card good only for Amazon shopping. There’s no fee — and no downside.
  • If you have a gift card for a store you’ll never visit, sell it to Cardcash.com or Raise.com. They pay cash for gift cards — maybe 75% of face value.
  • Why rent your cable box for $235 a year? You can buy one for $100.
  • That sticker on your windshield says to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Modern cars require oil changes only every 7500 to 10,000 miles. The manual even says so.

Everyone knows that time is money. But time is limited. Pogue says, “Fortunately, information is money too. If you know certain things, you can get more money without spending time.”

david-pogues-basics-moneyHis Basic Money book saves time and money, handing you 150 secrets all in one place. If you use all 150 of them, he says, you’ll save $61,195 a year!

You’d think Pogue has given away enough. But here’s a special “06880” offer: free autographs.

Our neighbor will personally inscribe any copy of the book. It’s at Barnes & Noble (or you can get 5% off by using the Amazon Prime Store  Card online).

Email pogue@me.com to arrange an autograph session.

Thanks, David! Here’s to a merry — and frugal — holiday for us all!

The Skinny On Jim Randel

Hundreds of Westporters know Jim Randel as an attorney. Hundreds more know him as a real estate investor. Some know him as a backer of start-up ventures.

Millions and millions of Chinese know the local Renaissance Randel as one of their country’s most successful authors.

Jim Randel

Jim Randel

Randel’s route to best-sellerdom began in 2006. He wrote (in English) “Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur.” Published by McGraw-Hill, it sold quite well.

Three years later, the housing crisis hit. A slide show flew around the internet. Crude stick figures explained how we got into that mess.

Randel took the idea — stick people, story line, dialogue — and wrote “The Skinny on the Housing Crisis.” His self-published effort won 1st prize in a National Association of Real Estate Editors contest — against books from major houses.

Suddenly, Randel had yet another career. He wrote 9 more books, using the same format. Most were on self-improvement topics.

By 2011, Randel had too many other business demands. He stopped writing. His “Skinny” books sat on the shelf.

Until 2014.

Get your Chinese e-book! Jim Randel's "The Skinny on Willpower"

Get your Chinese e-book! Jim Randel’s “The Skinny on Willpower”

That’s when a Chinese publisher somehow found one of Randel’s works. He liked it — and licensed 5 for translation.

Once again, Randel struck gold. Last week, 2 of his books were ranked in the Top 20 on Amazon’s list of 100 best-selling e-books in Chinese. The only other non-Asian author in that Top 20 was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

A few days later, Randel’s books were #2 and #3. The only other non-Asian authors were Hemingway and Shakespeare. And no one else — of any ethnicity — had more than 1 book in the Top 100.

I have no idea what Jim Randel is going to do next. But whatever it is — and wherever — if he asks me to invest, I’m in.

(Hat tip: Robert Crowley)

Unemployment Is Fun!

After graduating from Staples (1992) and the University of Michigan, Kerry Quinn embarked on career in advertising.  For 11 years she worked and lived in New York.  Then, in a “you only live once” decision, she moved to L.A.

She loved California, and her job in a small agency.  But in 2009 their major client — a bank — was seized by the FDIC, and sold at auction.  A few months later, her office closed.

Kerry was unemployed.

At first she felt depressed and dejected — “like a failure,” she says.  Her days lacked structure.  With the economy in the toilet, tasks like networking and acting upbeat during interviews seemed almost unbearable.

After “wallowing” for a couple of weeks, Kerry got an email offering a free exercise class with a celebrity trainer — on a Wednesday afternoon.

“I started to delete it.  Then I thought, ‘hey — I can do this!” Kerry recalls.

Kerry Quinn

She was spending her days sending out resumes.  But she realized she also had time to do things she’d always wanted to do:  Learn to cook healthfully.  Sell unneeded items.  Reduce her debt.

Kerry had a “funemployment” epiphany.  She would not sit around watching “Wire” marathons — but she could stop pitying herself, and enjoy her new free time.

After 2 months, she landed a small freelance project.  She then spent 4 months full-time, filling in for a pregnant woman.  But, Kerry says, the bulk of her past year and a half has taken her on a “funemployment” journey.

“I changed my outlook,” she says.  “I learned I didn’t have to work 14 hours a day, and ignore the rest of my life.  I need to take care of myself too.”

At networking events — she did not abandon those — she described her philosophy.  People told her she seemed so positive.  They urged her to share her excitement with others.

Kerry started a blog, called LovingFunemployment.

Then — running into people who were not having fun unemployment experiences, because they were depressed or suicidal — she wrote a book.

Funemployed:  Finding the Upside in the Downturn has just been e-published.  With chapters ranging from taking up painting and getting in shape to volunteering, traveling and dating, Kerry spreads the message that readers should not view unemployment as a failure, nor should they internalize it.

The idea behind “funemployment,” she says, is “to go into your next job with a good outlook.”  You can do that by “having some fun.  And don’t feel guilty about doing that.”

This sounds like a recipe for parody — or at least criticism that most unemployed Americans have more on their minds (and less opportunity to pursue it) than yoga lessons or trips to Paris.

“I anticipated that,” Kerry says.  “But I haven’t heard it yet.”

She understands, she adds, that her way  “is not something everyone can do.  If you have a mortgage and 3 kids, and you have to hustle full-time for your next job, ‘funemployment’ can seem trivial and trite.  But I talk about debt management, creating structure in your day, and selling stuff on eBay or taking jobs like babysitting or dog-walking without violating unemployment benefits.”

Her book, she says, “is not all about having fun.  It’s about dealing with issues people face.”

As for those exercise classes, “they don’t have to cost a lot, if you use trial offers or Groupon.”

How long can someone last “funemployed”?

“It depends,” Kerry says.  “You have to figure out your severance, savings and unemployment.  It’s different for each person.”

She is “lucky” to have freelance work, she knows.  “Full-time work in California is tough to find.”

Hopefully too, the book will generate income.

While doing publicity for the book, Kerry is learning new skills.  She hopes they’ll make her even more marketable during the job interviews she continues to pursue.

Landing a new job in advertising “makes the most sense — I’ve got 14 years experience,” she says.

“But I love writing.  Maybe I’ll do TV scripts — or another book.  Writing this one really reignited my passion for writing.”

Chalk up one more benefit to “funemployment.”

(Funemployed is an e-book.  To download it from Amazon, click here.)