IOQ: Indicators of Quality

Zippers, Steak, or Chicken?

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet. Mouse started a new job so, even over the weekend, she was busy with one thing or another. Still, we did have a pretty nice weekend until she had to head back home.

Nice being a relative term.

Her: I was looking through some of our chats and…we sound psychotic.
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Because in between texts, I guess we end up seeing or talking to each other. Like, one set of texts is like, “I hate you, I never want to talk to you ever again!” and the next is like, “Do you want steak or chicken for dinner?”
Me: Did we decide on steak of chicken?

A buddy of mine is looking to upgrade his wardrobe over Black Friday and I told him that, while I do have the occasional name-brand product, I almost never purchase anything based on names.

Instead, I look for (a) clothes that fit me well that are (b) made of quality materials. I told him that I figure out the latter through indicators of quality.

Stupidly simple, just like my three-step life algorithm, but you’d be surprised how many people mess this up too.

For example, whenever I buy clothes that have zippers on them, I look for YKK zippers. This is because YKK makes really, really good zippers that cost more than regular zippers.

So when I see two things that I like equally well, but one has a YKK zipper, I usually end up buying the YKK one.

See, I figure that, if a company cares enough to use higher quality zippers, they probably care about the details like stitching and fabric weave. It’s the little things that matter to me.

Cause it’s the little things that are indicators of quality.

Ditto for shoes. I look for full- or top-grain “leather uppers,” which are essentially real leather shoes, versus “man-made uppers,” which are basically plastic shoes. The brand rarely makes a difference to me.

My sneakers are almost always cloth so I can toss them in the washer on the reg. I can’t remember the last time I spent more than $30 for a pair of sneakers.

Someone just stopped me the other day to ask me where I got my powder blue ones from. I told him, honestly, on eBay.

The most expensive things I wear on the regular – I rarely wear my suits anymore – are my three no-name but bespoke leather jackets.

I picked the lining, the leather, and the color for alla them. Most importantly, for me, is that the sleeves and waist are tailored because I’ve got a pretty slim waist (pro) and short T-Rex arms (con).

And the one I like the most is my red one because it has white pick stitching.

Nobody notices this kinda stuff, but I do.

That’s the thing: As I get older, I find myself caring a lot less about things that other people notice and a lot more about things that I notice.

Man, I’m so bummed I ripped the sleeve on it.

Speaking of noticing things…

Me: Your hair is crazy!
Mouse: Yeah, it’s crazy like the 80s so it must remind you of your childhood.
Me: It kinda does.

Location: home, trying to get my apartment above 30% humidity
Mood: excited to see my son
Music: In her eyes I see the sea (Spotify)
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A fall day in the burbs

Confusing me

Her: I think we’re confusing everyone by hanging out all the time.
Me: You’re confusing me by us hanging out all the time!

Mouse told me to keep a day open for her this weekend because she wanted to bring me somewhere.

Her: And make sure to bring your camera.

So, early on Saturday, she picked me up and off we went to, what ended up being just eight minutes from my mom and sister’s house: The Fall Escape at Queens County Farm Museum.

It was just a thing for us to walk around and take pictures.

While there, we met two young ladies and we offered to take pictures of them if they took pictures of us.

The pictures they took weren’t great, but – like the waitress – they were very nice and tried their best.

Having said that, it was nice being out in the burbs with Mouse early on a fall weekend.

Me: I wish the boy was here with us.
Her: We’ll come back with him; now that we know how to get here, we can come anytime.

Afterward, I wanted to stop by to see my family but, as luck would have it, it was one of the few times I’ve ever left home without my phone so, when I stopped by to see them afterward, no one was there and I couldn’t reach them.

I really wanted to see my mom and was disappointed that I didn’t.

But by then we were starving and headed off to the same all-you-can-eat place that we’d been to a few times previously.

Walking out, I took the pic below and told Mouse, “If this is still here in 60 years, I’m coming here at 107 with you and Chad and we’re gonna make them regret this.”

Later that night, I called my mom.

Mom: We talked for over an hour!
Me: I know. I missed you.
Her: I miss you too.

Location: home, trying – and failing at – an arm-triangle
Mood: hard-to-say
Music: I know I’m someone to you (Spotify)

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I want to have an argument

We’re about to find out

Her: How spicy is Sundubu-jjigae?
Me: We’re about to find out.

We’d just left the studio and she was ok but I was still really hungry. Since she’s on a mostly meat-diet, we ended up heading over to a Korean joint in Billyburg.

As for the answer to her question above, it turns out – at least for her – pretty spicy. Luckily, we also got some sashimi and some Korean tacos in honor of Pac.

We asked the waitress to take a picture of us and she tried her best. This is the best shot of the lot that she took.

At least she was very nice.

Afterward, we headed home. As we pulled up in front of my pad, she asked me if we could have an argument.

Me: OK.
Her: Look, I’m ok with things not being defined but I’m impressed how long you can be with things not being defined.
Me: Like you said, we seem to get along better when we’re not together.

It was raining so hard in NYC that night that we got a tornado warning. Which kinda matched what was going on inside her whip.

But, all-in-all, it was nice actually, chatting arguing with her under the stormy rain.

Sometimes you need a little rain to clear things up.

Afterward, I thanked her for the ride and all the company.

Me: It’s getting late, you should head home.
Her: Yeah.
Me: So, where are we now?
Her: I guess I’ll just see you later on this week.
Me: That’d be nice. See you then.

And then I went home and sat on my white couch thinking about all my possible pasts again.

It was actually wasn’t just my conversation with Mouse that got me thinking, but also a conversation Chad and I had in between shoots.

It reminded me of something I wrote just before Alison got sick.

Me: You know…my life is nuthin at all like what I thought it would five years ago. Or ever. Everything’s such a mess. It’s hard not to think about what could have been.
Him: I know this isn’t what you wanted, but you’re doing the best you can. If nothing else, your son will think he’s got a cool dad.
Me: I hope so. That’s one of the main reasons I’m doing this. I hope you’re right.

Location: home, waiting out the storm
Mood: hopeful
Music: I know, somewhere deep in my soul, that love never lasts (Spotify)

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Weekend Scenic Fights Video Shoot Pt 2

I think I do

Mouse couldn’t join us for the first shooting day but she agreed to wake up early, pick me up from my pad, and then Chad from his pad, to take us out to Brooklyn.

Well, that was the plan anywho.

Her: Couldn’t find my wallet so I ran late. Can you cab it to Chad and I’ll pay for it?
Me: Shoot. I’ll take subway to Chambers street. Pick me up there? Leaving now. Chambers and West Broadway.

While on the train, a fella wasn’t wearing a mask and listening to music on his phone. Crappy music. After a bit, I politely asked him.

Me: Hey man, can you turn that down?
Him: You gonna make me?
Me: I’d rather not. But seriously, I don’t wanna listen to your music the whole way down.
Him: You wanna start something?
Me: I think I do.

After a lotta posturing, he backed off. And I left at 14th Street because that was closer to Mouse. Plus, I didn’t want to start my day either in the hospital or sending someone to the hospital.

Mouse picked up Chad first and then me and we high-tailed it out to Brooklyn where we shot all day.

It was funny because her car door broke when she picked up Chad at the last shoot – it was already messed up but he and I yanked it and destroyed it.

Her: Don’t touch that…!
Chad: (alarms go off) Oh shoot, I forgot.
Me: Oh man, they’re gonna kill us if we get into a car crash.

We managed to make it there in one piece AND also managed to Skype the kid in the middle of the day.

Chad: Hey, papi!
Him: Where are you all!?
Me: We’re at a studio. In Brooklyn.
Him: Near Mouse?
Her: (laughing) No, kiddo. Brooklyn’s pretty big.
Him: Oh! The sign behind you says, “No Smoking!”
Her: That’s right. Don’t worry, we’re not.

That was only for a few minutes. We were so busy shooting all day that we ended up not getting lunch until 4PM, at which point we were starving.

Me: What on earth are you guys doing (in the picture below)?

Headed over to the lunch truck from the day before, we ordered a whole mess of tacos.

The lights kept going out in the truck so they ended up cooking in the dark.

I kept asking the guy to write down our order but he ignored me. When we brought the food back, he left out J’s order completely.

Me: I knew it. I hate when people don’t write things down.
J: It’s fine, I won’t eat.
Me: It’s not fine. Here’s take half of our food. Mouse and I’ll just grab something to eat later.

Once the shoot was over, she and I went to a nearby Korean joint and had food there.

I realize that most of my blog entries are about us being ravenously hungry and never managing to get full.

But this is getting long so I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Location: this morning, a much quieter subway ride
Mood: better
Music: I was whole
Where did you go?

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Weekend Scenic Fights Video Shoot Pt 1

Chinese BBQ

Spent this past weekend shooting a few more episodes of Scenic Fights, Fight Scene Breakdown with Chad and the other fellas.

The fella below is J, the producer and the one that thought up Fight Scene Breakdown with us. He was bummed he forgot his mask.

Before we went to the studio, though, Chad I met up in Chinatown early in the morning on the first day at NB Wing Wong Restaurant on Bowery.

Me: Have you ever had Chinese barbeque before?
Him: I don’t think so. What’s it like?
Me: It’s like barbeque, Chad.
Him: (laughing) No, I meant, what makes it Chinese?
Me: It’s sweet and salty slow grilled meats but with a little bit of Chinese spice. I’ll get us a variety.

We ended up getting two types of roasted pork, and two types of BBQ’d chicken, along with some wonton soup and veggies. We absolutely demolished everything.

We hopped an Uber and made our way to the studio in Queens where we shot a handful of episodes before trekking home on the subway.

Him: Whoa, look at all those food trucks! We shoulda eaten here.
Me: Let’s grab a menu so we can figure out what we want for tomorrow.

We had another full day of shooting but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Location: in my head, folding clothes with Alison and the boy
Mood: rough
Music: take a hit so I can forget(Spotify)

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Someone that believes in himself

Better than the alternative

I finally got my piña coladas the other day. No umbrella in it but beggars can’t be choosers.

You see, my cousin, Ras, didn’t come with us the last time Cho, Mouse, Chad, and I went off to get seafood so she suggested we go there earlier this week.

Cho picked up Ras first and then Mouse and me. Chad wasn’t feeling well so he wasn’t going to come but Mouse rang him up and found out that he was fine and just being overly-cautious.

Mouse: You have 15 minutes to get dressed, we’re picking you up.
Him: I’ll need more than 15 minutes, I have to…
Her: (interrupting) You can just put on your makeup in the car. We’ve all done that. 15 minutes.

So off we went. It took us 15 minutes to travel the 10 blocks we needed to get out of Manhattan, and then 15 minutes to go the next 10 miles.

That’s driving in Manhattan for you.

While on the way to the restaurant, we saw this massive truck try to parallel park into this tiny spot.

Me: Now that’s someone that believes in himself.
Her: God, how small is his stuff that he needs a truck that big?

We ended up ordered the same thing we got last time.

Ras, Chad, and Henry: We’re stuffed.
Mouse and me: We’re ordering two more stone crabs, one snow crab, and potatoes.
Ras: You two are animals.

Mouse didn’t say a word for the next 20 minutes as she silently made those crabs regret being born.

I managed to say a few words in between bites and more piña coladas.

The next day, Mouse made made me a lunch of grilled fish with a low-carb creamy cauliflower risotto.

Now, she’s cooked for me before but this was honestly the best thing she ever made me – so much so that I asked her for the recipe.

What I got from my request was not only the recipe itself, but also vindication that it’s not just my mind that was going, because Mouse did to me, exactly what I did to her just a few weeks ago.

Me: Can you send me that recipe?
Mouse: Sure. (sends me the recipe, my phone beeps) Oh, you have a notification.
Me: Oh? Wait, that was was you texting me the recipe!
Her: What the heck!? I guess I’m getting old.

We all are. Getting old is a blessing, though – it’s better than the alternative.

Podcast Version
Location: early this morning, getting a gyro with my coach
Mood: hangry
Music: they don’t know about you and I(Spotify)

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So far and so fast…

Some judgement

Me: I can’t believe that I’m here with you yahoos instead of in Miami drinking a pina colada.
Frenemy: Wait, you’re telling me you’d rather have sun and beach than be here discussing our roofs?
Me: I’m as surprised as you are.
Him: Come by next week and we’ll get some coffee. It’s not a pina colada but still…

You see, Mouse got me tickets to Miami because she knows that November’s a rough month for me.

But, between the tropical storm on Sunday in Florida, the rising COVID rates, and me not getting anything done AND not spending time with the kid, we both felt it was best we not go.

Instead, Mouse got some work done and met up with me later on in the night on Saturday because I had to deal with more building drama.

But I wanted to be out and about earlier because of the Biden news and because the weather was perfect.

And because I was supposed to be on a sandy beach with a cocktail in my grubby little hands. (Obvs, I’m still upset about that).

I knew that Chad was on an Old Fashioned kick so I rang him.

Me: If I got you an Old Fashioned and a Philly Cheesesteak, could I convince you to head up here?
Him: Fuck, yeah.

It seems everyone else had the same idea because every joint we went to was booked solid. We finally ended up at Jake’s Dilemma near me. The waitress comped us shots – I seem to get comped shots a lot – because our food took forever.

Chad eventually made his way home and Mouse came by afterward just as I was pouring myself a tall glass of rum and diet Coke.

Her: That’s a lotta diet Coke
Me: I sense some judgement there
Her: You sense correctly

It ended up being a pretty good weekend after all. Not Miami good, but I’ll take what wins I can.

On a different matter entirely, Paul stopped by today for the first time since COVID went down and then our friend KTO sent this picture of the three of us that was taken exactly 12 years ago today.

Man, time flies. So far and so fast…

Podcast Version
Location: not a beach, lemme tell ya…
Mood: bummed
Music: keep on rolling even on the bad days (Spotify)

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You bet your sweet…

I’ll always come back

After my son’s birthday, I headed back home to my pad, leaving him with my in-laws once again.

Him: Will you come back?
Me: I’m legally required to come back for you for another 13 years.
Him: I’ll miss you. You’ll come back, right?
Me: I’ll always come back for you, kid. You’re my 宝贝.

It was an unpleasant trip home for personal reasons I’m sure you can guess. It got worse once I got home.

You see, my internet was down when we left that morning and Time Warner/Spectrum said that it was an area outage type thing but I got a text on my phone that it was resolved that afternoon.

It wasn’t.

So, once I got back, I rang Spectrum at 11:30 at night. The fella I spoke to said my connection was fine, it was an issue with my Linksys router. So I gave them a call. The lady from Linksys said the my router and modem weren’t talking.

I decided to conference call both Spectrum and Linksys and they told me to hook up the modem directly to my computer.

Me: The only computer I have with an ethernet port is like 10 feet away and my longest ethernet cable is six feet.
Linksys: Well, you’ll have to call us both back when you can get an ethernet cable that can reach.
Me: Wait, I can crimp one myself. Can you two wait like 10 minutes?
Spectrum: I’m sorry, what do you mean crimp a cable together yourself? You’re going to make an ethernet cable?
Me: You bet your sweet ass, man. Can you hold on?
Both: Yes?

When Buckley and I first moved into this place 20-something years ago, he and I wired the whole place with Cat5 cable. Because I’d converted most of my wiring to Cat5E cable back on day 7 of the pandemic, I knew I still had some Cat5 attached to my bedroom wall.

So at 12:30AM, I tore it off my bedroom baseboard and cut both ends of it. Then I dug up my old Ethernet crimper and two RJ45 connectors and made myself a 15ft ethernet cable. Give or take.

Me: I’m back, I’m done. It’s plugged in.
Spectrum: You just crimped your own ethernet cable? Right now?
Me: Yup. Can you see my computer?
Him: Hold on…yes. I think you’re the first person I’ve ever spoken to that crimped his own ethernet cable while on the phone with us.
Me: That’s how I roll, man. Linksys, can I let this guy go and you and I fix this problem then?
Her: Sure.

By 1:30AM, I had internet again. Exhausted, I went to bed and woke up to find out that Biden won the election.

It’s been a weird and sad week. And there was more to come.

Podcast Version
Location: home, with working internet
Mood: bummed
Music: So many birthdays that I missed (Spotify)

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You realize it’s my birthday

We’ve got a ticket to ride

While I didn’t get to do any of the things I’d planned with him, it was nice to have the boy home for a few days.

But, after being away for over seven months, he’d forgotten a lotta things about our home so he spent the first hour or so reacquainting himself with the pad.

And, at the end of the night, he was a bit worried about sleeping in his room again.

Me: Why?
Son: I don’t want be alone.
Me: Kid, we live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan; I’m never more than 18 feet from you at all times. Go to bed.
Him: OK. See you in the morning.

It was both weird and nice to have him home. I spent the remainder of the evening cleaning up after our day before I went to bed myself.

I’d only been sleeping a few hours a night because of work and the building issues but my son woke me up early the next day.

I wasn’t fully awake so as I turned away to try to get a few more minutes of sleep, he stood there quietly for a moment.

Him: Papa?
Me: (sleepily) Yes?
Him: You realize it’s my birthday today, yes?

And I was instantly awake and gave him the biggest hug.

He’s such a good and clever kid. I keep thinking that Alison woulda been so happy with and proud of her little boy.

I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time as I’d wanted with him but it was better than nuthin. Brought him back to my in laws and we celebrated his birthday properly out there.

Because of everything going on with the building and my son, I didn’t vote for the first time in over 16 years. Even when Alison was sick, I voted.

But, in the end, I got what I wanted.

My cousin Roz came by after Biden won and we chatted about the election.

Her: I thought you were a conservative.
Me: I am. But he’s not a conservative, he’s just a crook.
Her: So you’re a democrat now?
Me: I’m for the best person for the job, that’s the only thing that should matter.

Yet, it’s not.

Podcast Version
Location: home, reading up on COVID
Mood: pensive
Music: don’t know why she’s ridin’ so high (Spotify)

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Right. Our home.

It’s our home

Like the rest of you, I’m glued to my computer/phone/television checking to see if we have four more years of imbecility or something normal.

Suppose I’ll comment on that at some later date.

I’ve not posted because November’s a rough month for me; it was the beginning of the end of my life as I knew it. That’s when Alison first collapsed.

That’s all I’ll say about that.

I also ended up hurting my back doing jits, recently.

Mouse: You’re old.
Me: I am but I look great. Everything hurts, but still. (laughs)
Her: You keep laughing like that, you’re gonna hurt something else.

The plan was for me to head out to NJ to spend Halloween with my son but before that happened, we had a cold snap here in NYC and my boiler wouldn’t start.

Turns out the computer had fried so I scrambled all day Friday to try to get a replacement computer.

Me: How much for a new one?
Representative: $5,000…
Me: Jesus Christ.
Him: …plus tax.
Me: Well, you gotta give me time to knock over a bank first.

I eventually found a distributer in deep Brooklyn for a little more than half that and went there with a friend to pick it up.

Afterward, Mouse drove me back because she was heading into the city. She led a conference call while I drove and it was impressive to say the least.

Me: Thanks for dropping everything for me. As usual.
Her: I try and help.

Finally got the computer back home and hired a guy to install it. That was another adventure of the stripe no one wants but that’s another matter entirely.

Then I dashed off to see my son in NJ for Halloween. Even though we couldn’t go out to trick-or-treat, my mother-in-law had a great idea to have Halloween indoors.

Essentially, each of us took a room and hid candy in it; the boy knocked on the door for each room and went on the hunt. He seemed to have a good time. The hope is that he doesn’t realize what he’s missing out on, which I suspect he doesn’t.

In some ways, I wonder if blissful ignorance is better. I know too much that I don’t wanna know.

Afterward, the plan was for him to come home with me for a few days for the first time in over half a year. But, it wasn’t at all what I’d hoped it would be.

I find certain things more cutting than I should, perhaps.

Me: Are you going to be ok away from your grandparents?
Him: I’m going to miss them a lot, but I’ll be happy to be in your home.
Me: No, it’s our home.
Him: Right. Our home.

Everything’s fucked up and not at all how it should be.

But it’s late, so I’ll tell you that part next week.

Podcast Version
Location: our home – his and mine
Mood: shitty
Music: I can’t believe she’s gone (Spotify)

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