How JFK killed the hat industry

The president leads

A cornerstone of this blog is that communication isn’t what you say, it’s what the listener hears. That’s because this is my blog and that’s a cornerstone of my life.

Above’s a picture of JFK’s presidential inauguration. Look at the men in the crowd of the picture. What do you see?

Hats. Dudes wore hats back then. Period.

But now, check out Johnson’s inauguration pic just a few years later. Notice that, while there are hats, there are a lot fewer of them.

What happened?

The answer’s pretty simple; JFK generally didn’t wear hats. And dudes that saw him walk around without a hat thought – consciously or unconsciously – Well, if he’s not wearing a hat, I’m not gonna wear one either.

Did JFK purposely go out of his way to single-handedly destroy the hat-making industry in America? Probably not. But that’s what happened.

Unintended consequences and alla that.

I’ve been noticing that the deep red people I know are suddenly fixated on China as the evil empire – which it is, for sure – when they never previously posted anything about it before.

Similarly, wearing a mask has become a political statement versus a simple safety measure.

I also note that Trump has generally not worn a mask and that the US now leads the world in COVID-19 rates and deaths.

To say that JFK destroyed the hat industry is to simply go back and piece together facts.

To say that Trump killed his fellow Americans by the thousands is probably similarly accurate, although only time will tell.

As for me, I’m glad that JFK didn’t wear hats because, with my huge head, I’d probably block out the sun.

Podcast Version
Location: Battery Park City, seeing about a girl
Mood: hot, hot heat
Music: I’m just gonna go out (Spotify)
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Review: iMortor 3.0 Wireless Electric Bike Front Wheel Conversion Kit

Building a folding eBike with a child’s seat for ~$1,000

This is a super-long entry and not part of my usual nonsense about nuthin.

Before all the madness with the pandemic set in, I hit upon an idea during one of my sleepless nights: For the summer, I would buy an eBike, slap on a child-seat, and take the kid all over the city, and potentially, as far as Westchester.

I’d get some exercise, he’d get some fresh air, we’d bond and avoid watching too much TV: win-win-win.

I did tons of research – particularly speaking to CoB and her boyfriend, who manages a Trek bike shop – and figured I needed four major things:

      1. A bike that folded because I live in a tiny Manhattan apartment.
      2. A full sized (26″) bike so I could safely use a standard child-seat for maximum protection of my most prized possession.
      3. Either a front or center mounted motor to keep it as far away from the kid as possible.
      4. A battery that was also as far away from the kid as possible.

You’d never guess how few options I had. Actually, zero is the answer. No one made anything with those four criteria.

So, I decided to build/assemble it myself (with Chad’s help, in exchange for (copious amounts of) food and rum).

I started by doing some research on inexpensive but well-regarded folding bikes and Dahon seemed to fit the bill. But they stopped making 26″ bikes.

So, I picked up a used Dahon Matrix. Much more on this later.

I also figured out that the simplest option was to get the iMortor 3.0 Wireless Electric Bike Front Wheel Conversion Kit.

It’s a pretty ridiculous name – “iMortor” is how they actually spell it – but people looked like they were having fun on it, at least the 2.0 version.

On Amazon, it was about $620 (this is the 2.0 version); I picked it up for $500 from Banggood but it would take two months to get here. I wasn’t in a rush so that was fine.

Insert worldwide pandemic here.

By the time the wheel arrived, the boy was safely in NJ. So, with Chad’s help, we tried installing it onto the Matrix.

Dude, nothing we did could make the damn wheel fit. We even Dremeled part of the axel. Nuthin. A week of nuthin.

Either the disc brake kept hitting the braking mechanism or the wheel itself couldn’t fit into the fork.

Giving up, we brought it to a pro shop and they cracked the fork. Balls!

So, we bought another fork and that too didn’t work.

The bike shop was so irritated that they told us to get out and never to return.

Him: Get out, get out, get out, get out.
Me: It sounds like you want me to leave.

This whole thing took a total of five months from the time I ordered the wheel to getting kicked outta the shop.

Was about to give up when I eventually figured out that the Matrix had shocks on the front fork – and so did the replacement fork – and the hub was hitting against the shocks.

So, I gave it one more try.

I sold the Matrix at cost to Chad – who is now a NYC biking fool with a brand new fork with shocks – and picked up a Dahon Espresso (also used), which didn’t have shocks on the front fork.

Bam! The wheel took literally 5 minutes to install. (ARGH!)

After weeping in a fetal position for a bit, we were back to work. Chad and I spent the next week learning how to install V-Brakes onto a bike. That’s a whole ‘nother entry.

Good thing I went to law school.

One thing that was puzzling was that there was no throttle.

Chad: How does it start?
Me: I know exactly as much as you do at this point, man!

Usually, with these conversion kits, there’s either a throttle that you press with a thumb or twist like a motorcycle OR, on the higher end models, there’s a sensor on the pedals that sense when you’re moving and kick in for assist.

This thing, nuthin.

Turns out that it kinda combines both types: Once you reach a nominal speed, the wheel kicks in. Now, one time Chad was pushing the bike, it started to go, which freaked him out, but it didn’t do that with me…yet.

Most of the controls are via the fairly sketchy but still functional app that they have for both Apple and Android. It works rather well, connecting via bluetooth; the app just doesn’t look very polished.

During this whole time, I also managed to get an extra battery for $50 on ebay.

So, after five months of insanity, I finally have what I wanted: A folding ebike that could take a standard child safety seat with the battery and motor far from where the kid was gonna be.

Cost a bit more than I planned but it was still worth it.

Honestly, it’s insanely fun. The motor is super powerful and with both batteries, I could easily make it out to my parents on the tail end of Queens. It’s pretty amazeballs.

I’ll put up a video of the bike at some point – this entry’s getting super long as it is. But if you’re thinking about getting it, with the right bike, it’s just great.

I’ll let you know if there are any problems down the line too.

Here’s it’s final form. Just need to figure out where to put the damn thing:

Cost:
Bike (used): $400
iMortor electric wheel: $500
Extra battery: $50
Accessories and wasted purchases: $100
Total: $1,050

Location: home, with a fully functional eBike but no kid to put on it
Mood: hot
Music: I know I can count on you (Spotify)
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Pandemics and lifestyle

Going through this very moment

Nick Cordero’s death really shook me. Mainly because I thought he would make it, somehow.

I guess you can relate.

Also, because I know exactly what his young wife with their young child is going through at this very moment. Exactly. It’s heartbreakingly awful.

I wish her whatever she needs to survive this. Making it through to the other side is never guaranteed.

I married Alison for dozens of reasons. One was that she didn’t wear shoes in the house.

This may seem like a stupid thing but changing someone’s lifelong habit is difficult, if not impossible. The key to any relationship – romantic or otherwise – is reducing friction between the two parties. This means a combination of communication and shared interests.

Was thinking of this as it related to this whole COVID-19 insanity.

Did you ever read Guns, Germs, and Steel? It’s a fascinating look at why white Europeans were able to essentially conquer the world both socially and economically.

One thing that Europeans did, that Asians and Native Americans did not do, was live with livestock.

Assuming, arguendo, that these pandemics like:

      • COVID-19 (bats)
      • measles, tuberculosis, and cowpox (cattle)
      • influenza (pigs)

originally came from animals, and European invaders essentially wiped out entire populations of native Americans, it’s interesting to see how something as simple as one’s lifestyle can change the entire course of history.

Having now experienced a pandemic firsthand – again, I don’t recommend it –  it’s morbidly fascinating to realize how much of the world I currently live in is the result of just random chance.

This is all just a long way of me saying, while it’s probably better for the kid’s immune system, I can’t have dogs in my pad.

Which is unfortunate because it seems that every single girl in NYC has a dog.

Me: Oh, it’s 7PM. I thought you had to leave for a date.
AnotherGirlWithADog: I cancelled while we were chatting.
Me: Now why would you do that?
Her: (laughs) Well, you’re more interesting.
Me: You don’t know the half of it, lady. I’d prefer to be a bit less interesting, frankly. (later) Oh, you should be investing. Has anyone ever told you about compound interest?
Her: That kind of stuff is too complex for me.
Me: Don’t put self-limiting beliefs like that out into the aether.

Podcast Version
Location: Home, missing out on a thunderstorm
Mood: stupidly sober
Music: It’s dead steady, there’s falling and flying (Spotify)
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Young Boy Logan

Helping after the fact

I don’t give everyone I meet a name because I never know if something is going anywhere enough to merit that.

But, I finally met up with this girl ML for a first date on Friday night after penpaling for a bit because of COVID.

Like I said, having antibodies is assuredly fun.

And, I’m finding that I definitely have a type because she’s super sweet and attractive.

Me: I would put it in this order: Kindness first, and then ambition second. Because pretty goes away but those types of things stay.
ML: I would say kindness, and then honesty.
Me: Shoot, now I want to change my answer to kindness first, honesty second, ambition third, and, oh, probably big boobs fourth.
Her: (laughs) You’re so shallow!
Me: Wait, what about one, two, and three?! I’m deep, really. I just like what I like.

She was in the mood for some Korean food so I made her some.

Normally, a first date is just a walk, but we’d been talking for a while so I figured it was fine. The thing is that I live on the ground floor of a building so I can imagine that it’s a bit terrifying for someone to meet a total stranger by going through a large metal gate and into a relatively dark apartment.

We hung out most of the night so she eventually relaxed and said that when she first walked in, she was very apprehensive.

Me: (puzzled) Wait, if you were afraid I was going to hurt you why didn’t you run out the door?
Her: Because I gave my mom your address.
Me: But, if I was going to hurt you, that would only help you after the fact.
Her: I don’t care as long as justice is served.

We ended up consuming way too much wine and carbs and it was super late when the night ended.

Me: Here’s a toothbrush.
Her: Do you have a constant stream of people coming by?
Me: (shrugging) I’m just centrally located is all. You have to brush with children’s toothpaste, though.

Her: I’ve never done that before.
Me:  It’s good for you. You’re welcome.

Speaking of children (wait for it), Lviv came by early the next day for brekkie and a cup of coffee as we both had plans for the day.

She showed me this cool filter on Snapchat that makes people look like they’re children – I stress that she’s over 30 in real life. That’s her with an Old Man Logan.

I have my rules, people.

Me: Do you want a toothbrush?
Her: You know, brushing your teeth too soon after you eat isn’t good for your teeth?
Me: So I’ve been told. But every guest gets a toothbrush and brekkie in the morning.

I passed out not soon after she left. I still managed to chat with the boy some before I did, though.

Son: It’s Independence Day!
Me: Yup! It’s a special day: It’s America’s Birthday!
Him: Can we sing it, “Happy Birthday?!”
Me: (laughing) Sure! (we sing)

I briefly checked in on Mouse to see about her dad. She only ever spends the 4th of July with family, or those she considers family, so we’ve never actually spent the 4th together.

I was supposed to head out to Brooklyn to see BrightBea but she was going to a small gathering and I wasn’t in the mood to meet new people so we just chatted online.

Me: You’d be surprised how many people don’t want to video chat.
BrightBea: Oh, I get that. Either they’re really interested in you or they’re really not.
Me: Wait, how does that work?
Her: Well, if you’re really interested in the person, you have to put on makeup and all that, and no one looks great online. But, if you’re not that interested, you don’t want to bother putting on makeup in the first place.
Me: Speak for yourself about not looking great online, lady.

Ended the night with just me and Harold, which is fairly typical of my 4ths of Julys. I miss the boy plus Alison and my dad, of course.

Mouse is right: 4th of July is for family and I haven’t had that in years.

No offense to Harold.

Maybe next year will be different. One can only hope.

Podcast Version
Location: heading up to Harlem
Mood: nostalgic
Music: Don’t know why I do this (Spotify)
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Who am I?

SLBs

BrightBea’s 15 years younger than me. She’s at a cross-roads in her life.

Me: That makes sense. You reassess everything when you turn 30. You’ll do it again when you turn 40.
Her: So, it’s every 10 years?
Me: Well, you’re biologically a different person every 10 years. Have you ever heard about the Ship of Thesus?

I wrote once about it. Essentially, almost every single cell in your body is replaced every 10 years. Such that you’re literally and figuratively, not the same person you were 10 years ago.

Now, what if you changed your mindset too? Got rid of every negative habit and embraced only positive habits? Who would you be then?

For an added layer of complexity, it turns out that people are actually only 43% human. The other 57%? Not human.

All that, coupled with the potentiality of an influx of life-changing ideas and interactions means that we have the ability to reinvent ourselves better than ever, each and every day.

The reasons why people don’t improve?

I think the main things that hold us back are Self-Limiting Beliefs. Beliefs we think and believe to be true that shackle us, regardless of whether or not they are – actually – true.

I realized recently that the past five years have been a series of SLBs born of the awful experiences I had. I was letting them control me for far too long, and forgetting who I am and what I’m capable of.

Her: Whatever happened to your ex?
Me: Why do you care?
Her: (shrugging) Making conversation.
Me: (sighing) In a nutshell, we were always either taking our weapons out or our clothes off. We were always too busy looking for higher ground to find middle ground.
Her: (smiles) I like how you talk. And?
Me: There’s no “and.” You’re here for a reason. Besides, that’s her story, not yours.
Her: (laughing) What’s my story?
Me: I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

Podcast Version
Location: my empty apartment, after Chad and She came by for dinner
Mood: hopeful, still
Music: love ain’t simple (Spotify)
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Familiar unfamiliar territory

Finding me

BrightBea: You were by my place? You could have called.
Me: Honestly, how does anyone find me? I didn’t give you my last name.
Her: A girl’s gotta be careful.

I’ve spent the last several 4ths of July by my lonesome for reasons that aren’t important.

This year may be different but it’s hard to tell at the moment.

I’m in familiar unfamiliar territory, again.

Speaking of people reading my blog.

Lviv: You didn’t tell me that you went to see your ex.
Me: We don’t owe each other anything, yet. (later) Wait, I thought besides me you were seeing an economist and a male stripper something.
Her: Ex male stripper, who’s an ex. The economist wanted to hang out more, but I wasn’t feeling him. I like him as a friend.
Me: I need to start making a list.

Neither of us have plans for the 4th so maybe we’ll randomly run into each other somewhere on the Upper West Side?

Maybe.

On that note,

Mouse: I did quite enjoy that you managed to include in (our conversation) the part about a shipment of toothbrushes.
Me: (laughing) I honestly didn’t think anything of them until you mentioned it. I suppose that’s subconscious?

When I’m single I have more house guests for a variety of reasons, all of which revolve around my being centrally located in Manhattan.

Don’t read too much into it.

Mainly because, a rule I’ve always had is that: If you stay over, you get a toothbrush – with a choice of colour – and some sorta brekkie.

Before I met Alison, I bought three 12-packs of toothbrushes and went through two plus a couple here and there.

It might surprise you that some toothbrush conversations were quite sad, as odd as that sounds.

As for brekkie, that’s just to be polite.

Since we’re talking about food – Pac’s been making food videos. That’s his latest.

Do me a favour and like the video and subscribe? I need one of my friends to hit it big so I can borrow money.

Toothbrushes don’t grow on trees you know.

Podcast Version
Location: Morningside Heights, looking at stuff in the prepared food aisle
Mood: hopeful
Music: Ain’t I the best you had? (Spotify)

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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

Cutting it Close

Dreaming of family

Finally got a replacement car-rental service and woke up early on Monday to see my mom for the first time in months.

I’d rented a cheap Civic but because of a whole mess of issues, they gave me a BMW instead. While that was nice, there were even more issues with the BMW so I ended up leaving an hour later than I wanted to.

Made an executive decision to see my son first. Chatted a bit with Lviv on the way there.

Me: I have to keep you safe from COVID.
Lviv: What do you mean?
Me: Well, I figure I can’t make out with anyone for three days before I see you.
Her: (laughing) I appreciate it. You’re sacrificing a lot.
Me: It’s cause I care.

My mother-in-law told my son to keep an eye out for “workmen,” so he kept a watchful eye on the front windows. When he saw me, he started screaming, “Papa! Papa!”

It was really something. I can’t explain it to you unless you’re a parent.

After a quick lunch, helped my in-laws set up a new router that I brought over because their old one was giving them spotty service.

MIL: How much do we owe you for the router?
Me: I think I owe you more for childcare.
Her: (laughing) Grandparents don’t charge for childcare, Logan.
Me: And I don’t charge for tech help, mom.

The kid and I spent the day together, including going for a drive around town. He sang the Rolling Stones the entire time. He’s not a fan of Paint It Black.

Every time I leave, it seems to get harder and harder.

Him: I wish you could stay.
Me: Just a little bit longer. Promise. Once you come back, you’ll get sick of me and miss your grandparents.
Him: (nods)

Then I dashed off to see my mom and my sister and her family.

Because of the rain – and because I wasn’t feeling all that great – only saw them for 15 minutes. No hugging or anything. Goddamn COVID.

Mom: Here’s some money.
Me: What? (laughing) You don’t need to give me anything.
Her: It’s for your birthday. Buy something nice for yourself. And here are some 粽子.
Me: Man, so many carbs.
Her: It’s tradition!

I took the Belt Parkway to get home because I wanted to check in on Mouse. Her family’s dealing with stuff that I’ll let you read about yourself.

Me: Your dad ok?
Her: He wasn’t getting better and we had to get lawyers involved.
Me: Shoot, I’m sorry.

We only got to chat for a little bit, which was interrupted by fireworks going off literally 10 feet behind us and people knocking on our windows.

Stranger: Bring her to a hotel!
Me: (puzzled) We’re just talking.

She and I almost slipped into an argument before we checked ourselves. It was nice seeing her.

It was late when I headed home. Drove by BrightBea’s pad but we don’t know each other well enough for me to just show up unannounced.

Besides, I was cutting it close, returning the car.

A lotta people don’t know, but NYC’s traffic lights are timed at 25 miles an hour, which makes sense since that’s our speed limit.

Here’s me hitting every green light around Park Slope.

Got back to the garage in the nick of time and then picked up some packages from the doormen next door before calling it a night.

Him: I’m glad you finally got to see your family.
Me: You and me both, man.

Podcast Version
Location: home, cleaning and still dreaming of family
Mood: homesick
Music: I can’t resist (Spotify)
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Rolling around the city

Picnics and eating out

Forgot to mention that last week, my law firm met up over at Carl Schurz Park at East End Avenue and 84th street to have a picnic and catch up.

Him: How have you been?
Me: Immune. You?

It was good to see everyone. As an aside, I’m meeting a lot of people from a particular European nation these days.

Her: I’m from there.
Me: Well, of course you are.

My buddy handed me a bottled negroni, which was delicious. Probably shouldn’t have drank the whole thing.

Him: Are you ok to get home?
Me: We’re about to find out.

And then today, I met up with my buddy Robinson to roll for the first time in ages.

While I’m immune, the others have their own stories.

Him: How did you do?
Me: I didn’t die, so…well?

It was fun and exhausting rolling for the first time in ages.

Afterward, I wanted Vietnamese food but the restaurant was in the sun. So we just went to an American joint.

I got a salad. I regret my life’s choices. But we also got a crapton of alcohol.

Me: I think this is the first time another human being has served me food with utensils in months.
Everyone: Me too.

The salad was clearly not enough so I ordered more food.

Afterward, the waiter came and did shots with us.

Him: It’s not good tequila, but it’s free.
Me: If it’s free tequila, homie, it’s good tequila.

I was supposed to meet someone for a walk tonight but she’s a back-burner so I bailed.

Her: Wait, you just drank a lot and now aren’t coming?
Me: In my defense, I did tell you that I’m an awful person. But I’m an *honest*, awful person.

She did not find that amusing.

So, I went home and spoke to some people before crashing early and calling it a day/night.

It was a good one. A really good one. I don’t think I can say that very often.

Being hung up on and blocked by someone, notwithstanding…

Location: Queens, ordering more food
Mood: good?
Music: The house don’t fall when the bones are good (Spotify)
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Clinically or…?

Bike Mechanics, fight commentators, and rum drinkers

Me: (shrugging) Everyone’s got their front-runners and back-burners. If I’m your back-burner, I’m fine with that. Kinda prefer it right now, actually.
BrightBea: God, who says that? Are you insane?!
Me: You mean clinically or…?

Chad came by the other day to help me assemble a bicycle. It’s a ridiculously long story that I’ll summarize as follows:

      • I bought a used Dahon Matrix – also in Brooklyn – to install an iMortor (sic) 3.0 electric wheel. It didn’t fit.
      • After dremeling it and widening the fork, the fork broke.
      • So we got another fork. No love; still didn’t fit.
      • During this whole time, Chad’s discovering he likes biking. To wit, I sell him the Dahon Matrix and buy a used Dahon Espresso that he picked up for me from Staten Island.
      • Because that bike had v-brakes and not disc brakes, the electric wheel fit perfectly.
      • But then we had to install brand new brakes to make it work.
      • And then a bike rack to hold the kid, which is why I started this process in the first place.
      • Plus safety lights and stuff.
      • This whole adventure took a few months. And we’re not done yet. But, we’re close. When I finally get it completed, I’ll take some pics and show you.

I’m thinking that, if this goes well, we should make business cards that read:

Logan and Chad: Bike mechanics, fight commentators, and rum drinkers

Only two of those three statements are functionally accurate.

Her: Why do you prefer it?
Me: People aren’t ready for me and what I can do.
Her: What can you do?
Me: Oooh, you haven’t earned that. Yet. You might.
Her: (laughs)

Speaking of rum, two tenants moved out today and gave me a bottle of rum. They’re probably two of my favourite ones. The tenants, that is.

But I get it; no point in paying Manhattan rents if you’re working from home alla time.

Me: Wow, I’m touched. Man, I’m so sad you two are moving out. We have to keep in touch!

The crazy thing is that I dropped the glass bottle coming down the steps and it BOUNCED on two concrete steps before it landed in an extremely gross and putrid city puddle.

But, it survived relatively unscathed.

There’s a life lesson there, somewhere. The power of rum, perhaps?

Podcast Version
Location: 48th Street and Riverside Park
Mood: curious
Music: you freeze up like winter season in June (Spotify)
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Si vis pacem, para bellum

Seems so easy

BrightBea: You don’t seem scary or violent.
Me: I’m not. Si vis pacem, para bellum.
Her: What does that mean?
Me: If you want peace, prepare for war. All I ever wanted was to be left alone. To become invisible. Easy. I just wanted easy. 

While the price of the antibodies is – for serious – outrageous, it’s now a sunken cost. At least for me. So, I mean to enjoy it.

The city’s opening up again but I don’t think people are fully prepared for what this virus does. Don’t think they fully realize the price that has to be paid.

But I understand the allure of being blissfully ignorant.

Me? I know more than I wanna know.

Her: I’m sorry you didn’t get that.
Me: You and me both, lady. You and me both.

On a related(ish) note, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to – safely – see the boy with more regularity. I’ve got a few ideas that I’m toying with.

Speaking of toys, Mouse sent him and me a gift recently for Father’s Day. She admonished me not to open it until Sunday and I listened.

That’s another of my ten-thousand regrets.

I’m gonna need a bigger list.

LViv: You met your ex for pizza? Are you sure she’s an ex?
Me: Quite. Well, I suppose it’s time to share our sad stories then.

Podcast Version
Location: on line at TJ’s
Mood: hot in the hot-hot heat
Music: the kind of thing I always hoped I’d find (Spotify)
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