I’m falling apart

But getting older is better than the alternative

Edison Lights at an office party

I try never to miss a Monday post but my site completely crashed the other day. Spent days trying to get it to work again.

Which is pretty much what’s going on with myself these days; I have a new injury – tore my rotator cuff in my fencing class and then, stupidly, went to my wrasslin class the next day.

Been icing it going on three weeks now. Actually wrote my coach to ask him to suspend my account because it doesn’t look like I’ll be going for a while.

Also, saw the doc for an annual checkup and now have a colonoscopy scheduled because I’m 41.

Finally, I picked up my first pair of glasses in maybe 20 years last week.

I’m getting older and I don’t like it.

Then again, to quote French actor Maurice Chevalier, Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.

Friend: Remember, if it happens in an alleyway and the dr gives YOU money afterwards, it’s not a colonoscopy!
Me: Lemme Google that.
Him: Image search is best.

Bicycle hanging on a pole in NYC

On a positive note, wrapped up all my major projects for the year. Have the regular day-to-day client work but nothing major.

So I had time to go to three different holiday parties where I ate my body-weight in various forms of carbohydrates and have at least two more scheduled.

Was going to spend the week going to the gym to balance out those items but it looks like it’s just going to be me and my icepack for the forseeable future.

On some positive notes, I did see a bike strapped to a pole and toilet bowl in the middle of the street, though.

I’m clearly grasping at this point.

Toilet in middle of 8th Avenue, NYC

Location: desk, with ice pack
Mood: deflated
Music: They are the hunters, We are the rabbits

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Does Mark Wahlberg deserve to be pardoned?

Mark Wahlberg owes a debt

Mark Wahlberg pardon opinion
When Mark Wahlberg was 16, he randomly walked up two men on two separate occasions and assaulted them with a weapon – according to reports, in the second incident, he left Hoa Trinh permanently blind in one eye.

Wahlberg now wants a pardon from Massachusetts; a copy of his petition can be found here.

Essentially, he’s saying that he’s still being punished for his actions as a child and feels it’s time for the punishment to stop. In his petition, he feels he’s paid his debt to society.

And an article today tracked down Hoa Trinh who said that Mark Wahlberg did not, in fact, blind him.

In light of all this, let’s discuss the whole rationale for punishment. What’s the point of punishment in the first place?

There are essentially four reasons:

Prevention

We want stop criminals from hurting other people. The idea is that a would-be criminal balances the opportunity-cost of what he’s about to do.

Would you assault another man purely because he’s a different race than you and – AFAYK – blind him knowing that you might spend your life in jail?

Arguably not.

Would you do it, knowing that you will go to jail for 45 days, get out, become a famous rapper, movie star, multi-millionaire?

Arguably so.

To pardon Mark Wahlberg would achieve precisely the opposite of what this theory aims to accomplish.

Under the theory of prevention, Mark Wahlberg should not be pardoned.

Protection

We want to stop criminals from hurting other people. The idea here is that if a criminal is in jail, or otherwise incapacitated, he has no means of hurting others.

Mark Wahlberg is now a multi-millionaire. At this point, it is doubtful he would assault anyone else, lest he risk losing everything in a lawsuit.

This theory of punishment is essentially inapplicable to Mark Wahlberg. He serves as no current danger to anyone.

Under the theory of protection, he should be pardoned.

Retribution

We want criminals to “pay” for their crimes to society as a whole. Essentially, the theory is that if you hurt one of us, you hurt us all.

  • I am not Vietnamese. In that sense, Hoa Trinh is not my people. In that sense, Hoa Trinh is probably not one of your people.
  • I am Asian. In that sense, Hoa Trinh is my people. However, in that sense, Hoa Trinh is probably not one of your people.
  • I am an American. Hoa Trinh is an American. In that sense, Hoa Trinh is my people. Moreover, in that sense, Hoa Trinh is probably one of your people.

Mark Wahlberg spent 45 days in jail for assaulting two men for no reason. 45 days for blinding someone is too little punishment, but if Hoa Trinh was not actually blinded, then that is probably sufficient deterrent.

Under the theory of retribution, Mark Wahlberg should be pardoned.

Restoration

We want criminals to “pay for their crimes to their victims. Essentially, we want the criminals to put the world back as it was before their actions.

If a criminal steals a dozen eggs, he should replace those dozen eggs.

Despite having access to monies and resources you and I could only dream of, Mark Wahlberg stated publicly that, while he knows the right thing to do would be to find Hoa Trinh and somehow try to make things right for the man again, he has not done so.

You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn’t until I really started doing good and doing right by other people, as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don’t have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning.

While it is great for him that he feels good when he wakes up in the morning, as far as he was aware, Hoa Trinh was still blind due to his actions.

With that in mind, Mark Wahlberg made no attempt to make Hoa Trish whole again, and is uninterested in doing so. And why should he be? He sleeps soundly at night.

Under the theory of restoration, Mark Wahlberg should not be pardoned.

It seems pretty split down the middle. Except his request for a pardon is one essentially one based on one thing alone: because he deserves it.

This is not a basis for freedom from punishment. But he can tip the balance in his favor.

If Mark Wahlberg wants to be pardoned, he should meet up with Hoa Trinh – who has requested to meet him – and do something to make amends.

This would fulfill the Restoration theory.

Pay for Trinh’s kid’s college fund, pay off his mortgage, etc. Even if it’s just saying: “Holy crap, I was a stupid kid. I’m so sorry” it would go a long way here.

Otherwise, there’s a still an outstanding debt that Wahlberg owes Trinh.

Mark Wahlberg has to pay that debt.

Either by holding on to the stigma of what he did as a stupid kid or meeting up with Trinh as a man and asking for the debt to be forgiven.

But debts have to be paid, one way or the other. That’s the nature of a debt.

Location: staring at the Friday clock
Mood: offended
Music: searching for good times but just wait and see
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Have you ever heard of combat juggling?

Another thing I find oddly interesting

Thought I’d be done by now with my week but I’m not.

Had an unexpected expense of paying for some critical data I needed for a client project – which was astronomical because I didn’t know I’d need it until the 11th hour. Unfortunately, since this was a new client, it had to be done.

So I ended up agreeing to yet another project that will fill my time until the end of the month.

Maybe it’s just as well as it’ll force me to take some time off from the gym, especially since I’ve injured my rotator cuff.

Getting older stinks.

Speaking of the gym, a friend of mine knows that I fence so sent me the above video on something I’ve never heard of, called combat juggling.

It blends athleticism and strategy in a surprisingly interesting way.

One of the simultaneous pro/con things about getting older is that you really have to be thoughtful with how you spend the days you have left. I’m guessing I’ve got about 11,315 left.

There are any number of things I’d like to be able to try out/learn but my reserve of spare time is getting less and less by the day. I think in my 20s, I might have given this a go; it looks like fun.

On that note, it’s back to some decidedly unfun things.

Location: chained to my desk
Mood: still busy working
Music: searching for good times but just wait and see

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Stretches of boredom and high anxiety

Was a busy week last week

Protests in NYC near Rockefeller Center 2014.12.03

It seems that the closer I get to the finish line, the farther away it gets. Thought I’d be done this Wednesday with everything but some new things just cropped up.

Last week, though, was a whirlwind of work. Had to stay later in the office than I wanted to to talk to a new client. Caught the bus home.

At least I started to, but then protestors surrounded us and filled the streets so we couldn’t move. Ended up leaving that bus you see up there and finding another way back to the pad.

Federal Court in Brooklyn

Friday I was in Brooklyn Federal Court. I’m rarely in court and even more rarely in Federal court.

The difference between State Court and Federal Court is like the difference between a burger and prime rib; they’re both good, but one is usually more impressive.

Really got into it with the opposing lawyer.

Him: You said it was noon when in fact it was after noon.
Me: That’s a distinction without a difference. It has zero bearing on the issue at hand. The fact it’s important to you, doesn’t mean it’s actually important.

Oddly, though, he thanked me afterward for being courteous. The way I look at it, I don’t need to be a douchebag if I’m right. And I was right.

If I can sum up court, it would be as follows: long stretches of boredom with periods of high – extremely high – anxiety.

At least I got to break for lunch and have a spinach pie at Siggy’s.

Camden Plaza

The weekend was markedly better.

Saw my brother and also celebrated my friend’s birthday with the wife. Really nice group of people. Had a killer steak (speaking of steaks…) and some top shelf booze.

Him: What did you order?
Me: An old fashioned with rye. (turning to waitress) Make that two.

Have some food pics, of course, but I figure I’ll post that some other time.

Back Room at Tessa, NYC UWS

Birthday Cake

Location: close, so close, to the finish
Mood: anxious
Music: It’s been awhile since I’ve been stylin’ in just my jacket and my jeans

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Going down memory lane

William Street Subway Station NYC

Because I have all these deadlines, been all over the city the past few weeks again.

Similarly, my brother, who’s in town, has been driving around a few miles north of the city for a bit.

He actually managed to stop by where we grew up and took a buncha photos while he was up there, all of which took my breath away. Haven’t seen these places in 30+ years.

One picture stands out in my mind though, this one here. It’s panoramic so you can see what my street was like.

Here’s why it sticks out; that building is new but I still recognize the street and the entrance towards it. And I remember it clearly because my parents – who had no money for anything – would bring us there for our recreation.

To me, it was the the most exciting place on the planet for a six year old. I think I would go nuts at the prospect of going.

We would sit and read for hours. I suspect my mom left us there for a while because she figured no one would wanna kidnap two Chinese nerds.

But that was fine by me.

I wonder how much those years influenced my life. The sitting by my lonesome and just reading. My brother is the same way.

I’m looking forward to finishing up this spate of work for a number reasons – like to spend time with my wife and friends.

But I also want to sit by my lonesome and finish up a book I’ve been reading for a while now.

The more things change, yeah?

Location: my desk for now
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I may find myself delayed on the road to New Orleans
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Focusing on the finish line with Lillian

Finishing up with some work soon

NYC subway door entrance

For those of you that celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope it was a nice one.

Didn’t do much, myself – went home that day to see the fam and came back that day. Trying to get a handle on all this work I have.

I see the finish line, though.

Friday is the last of the largest projects I have with some smaller ones wrapping up in the middle of December.

Been working on this portfolio of stuff for the past five or six weeks. I’m pretty mentally drained.

Being so close, though, seems to make time stretch out longer. I think it’s because I start focusing on the finish line instead of the work itself.

Ever hear of this lady named Lillian Alling?

Seems she came here to NYC from Russia when she was a kid and, in 1927, decided she had enough of the Big Apple – something I wrestle with myself – and the rest of America. So she decided to go home.

But she had no scratch and no means to get there.

Unbelievably, she decided to walk back to Russia. From New York. Her feet were her only carriage.

She walked from NYC to Chicago, then through Canada. The last record of her was in 1929, when she was Nome, Alaska.

Seems she was there trying to get someone to give her a boat ride across the Bering Strait, where I assume we was gonna continue to walk until she got home.

Dunno if she made it.

I do know, however, that she probably made it that far by just focusing on the individual task at hand, which was putting one foot in front of the other.

And not dying, I suppose.

Which brings me back to my tasks at hand. Trying to focus but I just want it to be Christmas already, and my work to be done.

It’s hard to stop staring, once you see it. The finish line.

Wonder if Lillian ever got to see home, or if she died with her feet facing home.

In my head, I like to think she made it home.

Mussels at Arte Cafe in NYC, UWS

On the flip side, my brother’s in town with his new girl and he took me out to eat twice – well, him once and his girl once.

One of the times was Shake Shack. Some of the best burgers on the planet – unfortunately, everyone seems to know that so that’s why I almost never got even though it’s only a few minutes from home.

I really gotta stop thinking of food all the time.

Shake Shack burger and fries in UWS

Location: Jersey
Mood: anxious
Music: My feet is my only carriage, so I’ve got to push on through
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The eating before the eating

Scheduling in food

Steak Sandwich at Gin Mill

Him: It’s closed! Logan, you didn’t check to make sure it was open?
Me: Dammit, sorry. First round’s on me.

There’s been a lot of people that I’ve not seen because of my work, but I finished up with a set of projects this week and last, so I’ve been catching up with people here and there.

One person I see a lot but don’t actually get to spend enough time with is my wife. She had an early morning one day and came back with some baked goods.

Coffee Cake from Bouchon Bakery

Her: No scones, though.
Me: That’s fine, I’m not really a scone person anyway.

Tater Tots at Gin Mill

Also got to see another buddy around the way for some steak sandwiches and tater tots at Gin Mill, the local dive bar.

Him: Are you full? Want to order just a basket of tater tots and more drinks?
Me: Yes. And yes.

Finally, just got back now from seeing some other friends of mine. We were supposed to head over to Little Town for oysters and beer but I didn’t realize that they weren’t open for lunch.

So we went over to Pete’s Tavern instead and just got the regular burger.
Burgers at Pete's Tavern NYC

Me: I’m in the mood for a hard apple cider.
Waitress: We don’t have that.
Buddy: I’ll have the Stella Artois Cidre.
Waitress: OK.
Me: Wait, that’s a cider.
Waitress: Do you want that?

Now I’m back home with just two more projects left for the week. Looking forward to turkey day with the family.

Him: Do you always think about food?
Me: Always.

Location: someplace without oysters
Mood: fatty fat fat
Music: It’s cold outside and she hands me my raincoat
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Pula and Ren: The Motto of Botswana is “Rain”

And what’s your life’s motto?

Chinese Character Ren - Perseverance

In my room hangs a painting of a Chinese character that my father drew.

It’s composed of two smaller characters. The top part is the character for blade. The bottom is heart. There’s no precise English translation but most translate it as perseverance or resilient but that’s not exactly right.

It tells a story, at least to me: Even with a blade in your heart, you must persevere. You must survive.

The flip side of the story says that it will take a knife in the heart to stop you.

In Africa, there’s a country called Botswana where they’ve suffered centuries of drought and desertification. And they have a single word motto, “Pula” – which means, “Rain.”

It sums up what permeates their lives and their thinking. I suppose that’s what mottos are supposed to do.

If that’s the case, then this character from my father is my motto.

It is our fate for Life to beat us one day but I’ll still scuffle and struggle until I’m breathless and weak.

It’ll take a knife in my heart to stop me. Even then, I’ll try to survive the blow.

Location: last night, wide awake in bed
Mood: resilient
Music: I’d be a fool to surrender when I know I can be a contender
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Your most valuable asset

Folk you, compound interest

Dive 75 in UWS Manhattan

The past few weeks have been a series of 15-hour days. Was supposed to go to see Alton Brown – who was in my neighborhood for a show –  some college buddies, and a few other events but ended up working through them all.

No fun.

There’s this story that Einstein was asked what the most powerful force in the universe was and he quipped, Compound interest.

Regardless of whether or not he really said it, I often tell it in tandem with a Brian Tracy quote: Your most valuable asset is your earning ability. It’s your ability to apply your knowledge and skills in a timely fashion in order to get the results for which others will pay.

I’ve reached a point in my life where people randomly call me and say they say they want to hire me for this or that.

Because I have less time left for compound interest, I invariably say yes.

A few days later, a check arrives in the mail from people I’ve never met. And then I get to work. This happens more often as the year comes to a close.

Now, when it comes to feast or famine, I’d much rather have feast. Just wish it was a little more evenly spaced-out.

At least I have a few minutes each day for thoughtful discourse with the wife:

Me: I’m surprised at how much you like country music.
Her: It’s not country music, it’s folk music! There’s a difference.
Me: Folk you!
Her: (laughing) I can’t even be mad at you for that.

 

Location: my desk
Mood: tired
Music: as long as you are with me, there’s no place I’d rather be
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Thanks for the quiet weekends

Veterans Day Weekend 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

It was a quiet weekend here in the big city; tomorrow is Veteran’s Day in America so a lot of people – myself included – took today off from work.

Didn’t do all that much; went and saw my mom and then took a trip out to my wife’s family as well.

And I baked cookies – a lotta cookies.

A quiet weekend and I’m grateful for the men and women that do what they must so the rest of us can have quiet weekends.

Hope you had the same.

Location: the burbs
Mood: sympathetic
Music: To distant shore with the gifts they were given
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The musings of an insomnia-plagued writer in the city that never sleeps.

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