These walls are paper thin and everyone hears every little sound
A tradition of excellence
Sometimes you'll see some old building discussed and there will be a fact thrown in like "...and did you know, this entire building was built without nails, and it's been standing for over 1000 years in the original location where it was first built".
That's just great, and I congratulate the original builders on their incredible acumen. But I don't know. I feel like nails are here to stay and generally useful.
Breaking some bad news
How often do you explain a new disease to someone? Hopefully not that often. Next time you do, try to insert a dramatically stated "it's not just X ... it's X of the Y!" into your description.
Let me give you an example using Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that causes abnormal growth of connective tissue, typically as a hardening or thickening of the skin. Imagine that your cousin Sally has scleroderma and you're breaking the news to your sister Bethany. Your fake name is Beatrice.
Bethany: Hey Bee! I heard you had some news on Aunt Sally, how's she doing?
Beatrice: Hey Beth, I do, and it's not good. She has Scleroderma...
Beatrice: OF THE NECK!!
See how much more dramatic that felt, and the comedic energy it added? Works every time.
The moral case against smart phones?
Riding the subway the other day I saw a women sitting a few seats in front of me with a folder of papers. As the train proceeded she opened her folder to reveal what was a pile of printed out articles from various websites. One of them was from the Smithsonian Magazine. She was reading through them.
This woman, on a train, in the year 2016, had printed out like a half-inch tall stack of papers for consumption on the train as she rode in to work.
What the hell is going on here?
Things I'd do as an eccentric billionaire
Obviously I'd have a lot of secret rooms and false walls and doors that you activate by taking books off a shelf and stuff like that ... but I think I'd also buy a collection of properties nearby my main property, and connect them via a series of underground tunnels. The access to the tunnel from each house would be via some sort of hidden trapdoor or series of hidden rooms, of course. The tunnels would be clean and well-lit.
Maybe there would be an occasional room or chamber within the underground structure so you could stop midway between two houses to just hang out before you continued down the tunnel.