2013 Year in Review / New Oceans

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore

Me: (CRASH!)
Her: (running to room) Did you fall down again?
Me: (from floor) My leg gave out from under me.

At the end of 2012, said that there was one part of the body that is called two different things, depending on how it’s held. This time, I’m starting out talking about my leg.

In The Man in the Iron Mask, one of the Three Musketeers – Porthos – was six feet from the ocean and freedom but found that he couldn’t move his legs.

“Oh, oh!” murmured he, “there is my fatigue seizing me again! I can walk no farther! What is this?”

He holds himself up by the sides of the wall before finally collapsing and dying.

When I was a kid, it didn’t make sense to me that he couldn’t control his legs. In my situation, my good leg had fallen asleep and my bad leg was just weak so down I went. While getting up, I thought of that story.

Started out this year by talking about how there’s no word that means, Becomes stronger when stressed and how a fella named Talab coined the phrase Anti-fragile. Which is good because there were plenty of low points this past year – some happened around us like my aunt passing and the Boston bombings happened around my birthday.

Some other pretty bad things happened to us personally, and I suppose that’s something I’ll tell you about some day.

But we had a lot of good times too.

There were the outings like to museums in the beginning and end of the year. And a trip to Bermuda in-between. We even stayed at a hotel just a few blocks from our house.

We also had friends come visit us, like the one that came down from Maine with lobsters in tow. And those I went to see, like when my buddy and I went to ComicCon for the first time.

And speaking of food, there was so much of it. Southern food near me, hot dogs in the middle of the ocean, Australian meat pies (but from NYC),  pizza around the way, and bar food in midtown, just to name a few.

And drink, both the usual rum fare like pina coladas in Jersey, daiquiris and the occasional Old Fashion to round things out.

To keep me from becoming a huge fatty-fat-fat, kept wrasslin and fencing.  On that note, my BJJ coach opened up his own school called Radical MMA in midtown.

It was a big step for him and a lifelong dream. So I sent him one of my favourite quotes from Lord Chesterfield that goes, Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

I like it cause it reminds me that we have to fight the inertia and take our chances in life. To lose sight of that comfortable shore.

In the Man in the Iron Mask, Porthos struggles and can’t get back up to his feet. Even with the help of his friends. He can see the ocean but cannot reach it. At some point, that’s our fate, I suppose.

For now, I can still struggle to my feet and do.

And I am humbled to have friends and family to help me along the way.

It’s almost 2014, what new oceans can we find?

Her: (holding out her hand) Here, let me help you.
Me: (taking hand) Thanks. (laughing) Man…I’m so old.

Location: at the end of one year, ready for another
Mood: hopeful
Music: What are you doing, New Year’s Eve?
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Christmas 2013

Holiday parties to end 2013

Me: Wait, $1.2 million in one day in Baccarat?!

Last week, was fighting a cold and cancelled my fencing class for the first time. But felt better enough to make it to several holiday parties towards the end of the week. Think I gained about five pounds.

One party I went to was at the Williams Club – now called The William – where we got a tour before it fully finished. Ended up drinking with my boss and some clients at a private table in the Peacock Room.

No good rum, so I downed an Old Fashioned or two until 11PM or so.

Another was out in Queens at the same restaurant I had a wedding reception at. Ended up walking home with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black.

Again, not aged rum, but it’ll do.

At another party, in a club, met a German industrialist and his wife. He told me that they were visiting the US and we ended up talking about Las Vegas.

Him: We can’t go there. My wife just lost $1.2 million there the last time we went.
His Wife: (rolling eyes) He’s exaggerating. I started with $600,000, got up to $1.2, and then lost it. So it was only half that.
Me: Clearly I’m in the wrong profession.

As I do every year, if you read the same book I do, have yourself a Happy Christmas!

And if you don’t, have yourself a happy holiday!

See you back here on Monday.

Location: desk, last working day of the year
Mood: hopeful
Music: It’s been a long night in new york city
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The one with the barber brainteaser and Nighthawks

And I’m selling my Edward Hopper: Nighthawks


There this old joke/brainteaster I heard once where a stranger arrives at a small town and needs a haircut. There are only two barbers in town so he visits both of them.

The first one he goes to has a terrible haircut and looks like a mess. The second one has a perfect head of hair. The man immediately turns around and goes back to the first barber who had the terrible haircut – why?

While you’re thinking about that, I’ve been sick and have been fighting a lot of insomnia. I got up the other day to bake some cookies.

Was awake enough so that it was me and not Sleepy Logan.

Back to the brainteaser – it’s not that hard; if there are only two barbers there, the first barber must have gotten his hair cut at the second barber and vice versa. So the first barber’s terrible haircut is because of the skill of the second barber.

There are tons of logical issues with that but if you have a kid, it’s a good one to ask.

Which brings me to the picture above. The wife and I decided a while ago to buy each other one ornament a year for Christmas. That’s what she bought me.

She tends to buy me fun, homey-type ornaments while I buy her elegant classy ones. And the reason is the same – I tend to think of her as very classic and proper while I’m a lot more casual.

She bought it from Carolyn’s Christmas at the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. Their ornaments are made in the Andes Mountains “using age-old methods of sculpting bread dough.” So it’s an ornament made of food, which I find kinda appropriate for me.

Apparently, they were super nice and spent a good amount of time getting the wording (“The Lo’s!”) just right so I thought they deserved a little mention here.

On a different matter entirely, I’m selling my Nighthawks painting by Edward Hopper; it’s a framed poster print in a dark brown hardwood frame. It measures 44″ x 32″ and I paid $300 for it a few years ago (and it’s in perfect condition since it just hung there) but can sell it for half that.

Here’s an entry on it that I wrote back in the day; I still love the painting but it’s a little dark for our living room now.

If anyone in NYC’s interested, lemme know.

OK, off to drink some more hot liquids and have a cookie.

Location: desk, wrapping up for the deal
Mood: sick
Music: Lately I’m obsessed and I need the rest. I hope that you’re impressed
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People who are willing to sacrifice their rights for safety, deserve neither

Another thing with an air of truth

Spent Sunday actually relaxing cause I finished almost all of my projects for the year – and by “relaxing” I mean fixing stuff around the house.

Also read a lot of Facebook.

Two friends separately, and coincidentally, paraphrased a Benjamin Franklin quote; one while talking about NYC random bag searches, the other about US gun owner rights.

But it’s one of those commonly referred to quotes that have the air of truth but no real truth to them at all – at least depending on how it’s paraphrased.

Both quoted it as saying: People who are willing to sacrifice their rights for safety, deserve neither.

But that’s not what Franklin said. What he actually said in a book called, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin, was:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

The following words are often and conveniently left out:

  • Essential – are guns essential? I’ve lived 40 years with only firing one less than a handful of times. In other words, does everyone need to own guns like the way everyone needs a voice in government. I doubt it.
  • Little temporary – is the ability to not get blown up in a bus a little temporary safety? I’d hope not.

Franklin was saying quite the opposite of what my two friends and many people use his quote for.

He wasn’t saying that every right was equal, he was saying that essential rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – were not worth exchanges of small temporary safety.

A bag search is not that. Sane gun laws are not that. They are both the opposite of that.

Sorry, every once in a while I have to be a lawyer and lawyers aren’t allowed to be inexact.

Like that quote that goes, First kill all the lawyers…, what a quote actually means, often means the opposite of what they think it means.

Here are more quotes that have the air of truth to them but either have no real truth to them at all or are misquoted/misunderstood:

Location: desk, being a lawyer
Mood: nerdy
Music: don’t mind the traffic cops or the TSA Long as I’m with you I’m having a good day
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Quick Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas for Men

Four easy holiday gifts for men


Thought I’d post some the coolest products I’ve either given or gotten that I particularly like:

Gerber 05500 MP400 Compact Sport Multi-function Tool

The first is this multi-tool, which you can buy here, for several reasons:

  • Everyone whom I’ve told about this tool, raves about it. It’s even on progamerreview.com/!
  • It lasts forever because it’s almost 100% pure metal. The one in the video above, I bought 20 years ago. This is the kind of durabilty you want from a bushcraft knife.
  • It’s like a more practical, cooler Swiss Army knife. Here’s a version in black.
  • It’s NOT the Leatherman version because the pliers pop out via one hand a la Wolverine’s claws with an incredibly satisfying SNIKT sound (check out the 4 second video).

Scully Small Vertical Laptop/Tablet bag or David King Laptop Bag
People are always complimenting me on my bag for this reason or that. The one I have now is the David King bag, which is a nice roomy vertical bag.

It was actually a replacement for my older Scully bag, which I loved for years. What’s cool about both is that they’re both vertical bags, so that they look completely different from the sea of black ballistic nylon bags out there in the world.

Also – at least with the Scully –  as the leather ages, it becomes individually his over the years and will last for ages. After years, it was still nice enough to give away. I miss it but the David King bag, which is in the pic above, is also nice.

Looxie X2 Wearable Camera

If you’re only interested in Google Glasses for the ability to record, Looxie has been making them for years.

To see what you’re actually recording, it pairs with your Android or iPhone and you can control the camera from there also. The coolest thing about it is that you can record up to five hours of video and you can instantly make little video clips from it.

You can buy the one I have here – which also doubles as a bluetooth headset – or get the newer Looxie 3, which you can just clip onto your shirt and it’ll do the exact same thing.

Paracord Bracelet with Firestarter

After reading that horrible story years ago about the CNET family that was trapped in their car, immediately thought of things like this bracelet. I

It’s cheap and something a guy can wear while going on a long trip without thinking too much about it.

You can buy the older version (the one in the video) here, but a much better version is $2 more here. Just take a look at lookwhatscool.com, for more small gift ideas.

And, of course, a safety razor is always a good idea.

As always, the Amazon links are part of my Amazon associates account; let me know if you end up buying them?

One final note, you need not wear all things at once, you will look like an idiot. No one does that.

———–

A Great First Date, early 2014

If you liked this entry, here’s some of my other stuff that people liked:

Location: at my desk, making deadlines
Mood: hopeful
Music: I’m back in the game, even better than the old me
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Hoping we don’t go back to the good old days

Anyone missing the old NYC didn’t live in the old NYC

Me: Do you want me to slice that for you?
Her: Why?
Me: Cutting bagels are the among the most dangerous household activities.
Her: (getting knife) You’re the clumsiest person I know.
Me: This is true.

Finished up a slate of projects for a client recently and immediately got more work in. There’s no real happy balance with my type of work, it’s either feast or famine.

The professor was in town but we each only had an hour or so, so we caught up in basement of Grand Central.

Me: Y’know, I have no childhood reference for this place. I figured if I came here back then, I’d get shanked.
Him: Yeah.

The people that dream of the good old days of NYC never had to live here back then. I have the feeling they’re the same people that like to rubberneck at car wrecks or watch nature shows when the impala gets killed by the lioness.

Great entertainment if you’re the lioness or the one in a safe car. Not so much if you’re the impala.

Running down my list of friends who were born and raised here, the professor is in Pittsburgh, another buddy is in Hawaii, another one in Cali, another one in Connecticut.

The City takes its toll on you over a lifetime.

I bring this up because I was concerned about our new mayor. The last time we had a mayor like him, the city was a cesspool.

But his recent choice of our old Chief Bratton has allayed my fears, somewhat. Only somewhat.

For me, I can only wait.

Because there really isn’t anywhere like New York.

 

Location: in front of all these computer screens
Mood: tired
Music: I know, I know, I know you ain’t the one to play the game.
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A Review of Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath

Only time will tell what makes you better or worse

Just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.

Actually enjoyed it better than his other books – which I also enjoyed – particularly because it seems to echo things I’ve always believed to be true. For example, he notes that there’s a difference between:

  • Direct hits – where something kills you, literally or figuratively
  • Near-misses – where something almost kills you, literally or figuratively, and it’s enough to send you spiraling into despair
  • Remote misses – where something almost kills you, literally or figuratively, but it’s far away enough from you to help you become stronger

Although not mentioned in David and Goliath, I think that two quotes best sum up the basic idea of the book:

Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong. – Winston Churchill
All experience is great provided you live through it. If it kills you, you’ve gone too far. – Alice Neel

It’s only with the passage of time that we’re able to see if the remote misses are near-misses and vice versa. Of course, that’s only if you overcome the blow in the first place. It’s not a perfect book – what is – but that rings true to me.

David and Goliath uses a lot of religious references (obviously) in order to show how these ideas have been with us since the early days of humanity.

And whether you believe in the biblical god or not, I’ve always like the story of how Jacob wrestled the angel and the angel was overcome. The angel could easily have destroyed Jacob but allowed him to survive to learn how to survive.

I’m not a parent, but I would like children of my own one day. I’m just not sure how to pass this type of knowledge down.

After all, a parent doesn’t wish troubles onto their children. But it’s only through stress does something become stronger, become anti-fragile.

Maybe that’s why I want them to fence, to wrestle, to struggle. I’d want them to know what it means to  get beaten, and then get back up again.

I think that’s why I do what I do. To give myself a daily dose of remote misses and to struggle to get back on my feet.

Location: getting dressed to go struggle for an hour
Mood: geeky
Music: a rattle and hum; Jacob wrestled the angel, and the angel was overcome
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It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.

What’s the Point?

Him: What’s the point? You’re 40, when are you ever gonna get into a fight, let alone a sword fight?
Me: Why do you play the guitar? You’re never gonna be in a band.

Spent most of the holiday weekend traveling around the city – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island – and New Jersey as I did work, saw my rents, and the wife’s family as well. Exhausting.

Was debating going to the gym last week because my leg was killing me but I ended up going, knowing I’d be eating my weight in complex carbohydrates.

While I was there, a buddy, who forgot my leg was injured, was goofing around and kicked my knee. I went down like a sack of bricks. Still not a 100% now so I’m using it as an opportunity to catch up on some work and my social media.

Speakinga which, I’m genuinely amused by people that are so critical of the whole Black Friday shopping frenzies.

The way I look at it, everyone’s got a thing. Something that makes no sense to anyone else, but matters to them.

One guy whom I’m friends with, wakes up at the crack of dawn to hit the gym, goes to work, goes to the gym again, and lives to punch someone in the face or get punched in the face. To anyone else not in the life, this probably seems crazy. “What’s the point?”

To him, there’s a point.

Yet he had this whole rant as to people waking up at the crack of dawn to get a good deal on a television, essentially saying, “What’s the point?”

I remember my parents waiting in line for a 13″ black and white TV for me years ago. It was my favorite possession as a child. It made me feel less poor.

For all I know, that’s why these people braved the cold and the sneers. What does he know? For that matter, what do I? And who really cares what people hang meaning upon?

There’s a hypocrisy with people that point out the inane in someone else’s life while not realizing it in their own.

I know it’s a bit ridiculous that I spend so much time either rolling around the floor or whacking someone with a blunt object. Yet to me it has meaning.

And look, I think it’s nuts that someone would want to risk life and limb to try to get a cheap toaster. But I’m not them. And they probably think it’s nuts that I spend so much time icing my leg because I can’t accept I’m 40.

Sir Edmund Hillary, the fella that climbed Mount Everest, once noted that, It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.

Personally, that someone has a goal – however silly I might personally find it – is a laudable thing in and of itself. It’s better to have some passion for something than live life as if in a haze. Even if no one else understands it.

Me: Spent Friday upgrading the two computers. I installed about 40 updates and a wireless 802.11n card into the living room MCE. We can stream full HD wirelessly.
Her: That’s nice.
Me: FULL WIRELESS HD! Not 720 like a chump. 1080p!
Her: …
Me: Clearly, you’re not affording this the attention it deserves.

Location: icing my leg at home
Mood: amused
Music: I have to climb Up on the side of this mountain of mine
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