Orange is the new Jello

It’s a sad day in the city

New Yorker Sign

Some nutcase shot two cops to death this past weekend in my city. There’s not much for me to say on the matter except it’s sad.

The holidays are right around the corner and two families have to prepare for funerals instead of celebrations.

It’s hard to make sense of the senseless.

———-

On another topic entirely, looks like there was a pretty quick outcome to the case I was involved in.

Not allowed to get into specifics but my client asked me to work with him on another case, so that’s good.

It’s like that Alexandre Dumas quote, Nothing succeeds like success.

Oysters at Cafe Espanol, NYC

Had a long night on Friday; went to two events – one for a client and the other for my old friend Johnny.

Went to Johnny’s first, at Cafe Espanol downtown. It was the first time I had Spanish food since I went to Spain and it was just one plate of deliciousness after another coupled with pitchers of mojitos. May have had an entire pitcher myself.

Had some killer seafood and far too much of a 10-person sized portion of paella.

Him: Are you full?
Me: Stuffed.
Him: Do you want more?
Me: Yes.

By the time I arrived at the client event, most people were already fairly snockered so I made my rounds and headed home.

Orange is the new Jello

I have a colonoscopy scheduled for tomorrow. So that means today nuthin but orange jello and clear liquids.

At least I did a lot of eating this past week.

Wife: Sorry you have to do this, I know how much you like to eat.
Me: I love to eat! This is gonna be rough.

Location: desk, hungry
Mood: hangry
Music: you’ve worn me down, worn me down like a road
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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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Core belief 4: There’s no such thing as willpower

There’s only varying degrees of what you actually want

Just wrote two large checks to the government. It’s because, those that live in an eat-what-you-kill life here in the US, have to send in what they think are going to be the taxes every three months.

It’s a bit annoying and sometimes stressful because (a) you have to make educated guesses and (b) you have to be ready to write those checks.

Mentioned this to a buddy the other day and he said that I must have a lot of willpower to not spend the money. Likewise, when I mentioned to someone else that I was once super fat, she too remarked that I must have a lot of willpower

So, I figured now was a good time to present another core belief of mine to you: There’s no such thing as willpower.

It doesn’t exist.

What does exist are value judgments as to the relative worth of things.

For example, when I was a fat kid – whether I realized it or not – I was making a choice of choosing the pleasure of chocolate cake over the discomfort of being teased; the pleasure of sitting on a couch watching television versus the discomfort of exercise.

In other words, I was getting something out of being fat that was worth more to me than not being fat.

It was only when I went to junior high school, where there was a pretty girl named Eve, that it flipped. Suddenly, it being fat wasn’t worth the cost to me.

Isn’t it always about a girl?

In any case, had a co-worker of mine, years ago, who just complained about the work he did all the time.

He was offered a promotion and he declined, saying that he was worried no one else could do the job as well as he could. Everyone else thought this was so noble, but I realized that he was getting something out of his current job that was worth more than the higher title, more than the additional income, more than the additional responsibilities.

He liked to complain.

He was getting more out of being able to complain than he would have gotten out of all the other things.

Should note that I never did summon the courage to ask Eve out. Just as well.

There are few people who can actually put up with my idiosyncrasies.

Me: (dropping something) CRASH!
Her: I’m really worried about your ability, as a rational person, to hold onto things.

 

Core belief 3: You are what you decide to be
Core belief 2: You’re not who you could be because of the lies you tell yourself<
Core belief 1: I’ll judge you for what you do but never for what you are

Location: the start of a new week in an old chair
Mood: sore
Music: like a dream, make me feel crazy
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Waiting for the chime that tells me to get back to work

Either insanely busy or not-at-all and little in-between

Her: Do you want some ice cream?
Me: Nah, I’m good. (five minutes later) Actually, that looks pretty good, can I have a few bites of your…
Her: Touch it and I’ll kick you in the face.

Finished up with this massive project last week so I’ve had a bit of downtime again.

With how my work is structured, I’m usually either insanely busy or not at all. There’s scant in-between.

I’m also at a age/position in my work life where I don’t actually have to show up anywhere as long as the work’s done. It’s a plus of being 40, I suppose.

Because of that, it takes me a little while to get used to having time to myself; feel almost guilty that I’m not doing something work related.

But then as I finally get used to downtime, I’ll get an email from a client that goes, Logan! Hey, I have a question for you.

Still, for the next three days at least, my plans are meeting up with a friend for drinks, working on some rapier/dagger fencing, some wrasslin, and a stack of magazines.

All the while, I’m listening for that sound that my computer makes when that email inevitably comes in telling me to get back to work.

!Ding!

Location: my apartment, waiting for it
Mood: rested
Music: Maggie advances to the final. Who knew that she had the goods?
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We make 15 decisions a day

To relieve stress, you should try to make less than 15 decisions a day


Read once somewhere that people can make 15 decisions a day. That sounds about right.

In fact, I’ll take it one step further, the fact that:

  1. we can only make 15 decisions a day and
  2. must make 15 decisions a day,

…leads to the stress in our lives. Because sometimes we have to make more. And we’re not really equipped/built to do so.

IMHO, that’s the real reason that we miss childhood; back then, someone else made the decisions for us.

While still young, we fought to make more of those 15 decisions, and then as we got older still, we found we had to make those decisions.

Well, that was dumb.

English: Decisions Decisions (Horton, Point or...
English: Decisions Decisions (Horton, Point or Green) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bearing this in mind, a few years back, I tried to minimize the number of decisions I had to make on a daily basis.

You know why you have rules? You have rules so you don’t have to think because you’ve already thought about it before.

That’s why I have rules and a schedule. It minimizes the discrete decisions I have to make each.

  • Is it Monday? That’s when I usually have client meetings and phone calls.
  • It it Tuesday? I pop over and see my parents in midday and have my fencing class at night.

When the weather’s cool, I wear a suit because it’s easy. I don’t wear a tie even though I have more ties than pretty much anyone I know. One less decision to make.

The problem with this whole plan is when I have a new decision to make. Usually labour over it for a while before I make a decision. But once I do, I try as best as I can not to go back.

After all, we all wanna keep going forward don’t we? I’d like to, anywho.

Location: it’s Wednesday, so that means more meetings and the gym
Mood: steamy
Music: It’s a beautiful bright day outside the door.
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Be irreplacable

In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different


Was in the hospital again this weekend, although not for me. In the end, everything worked out ok, so that was a huge relief.

I’m there so often, I feel I should get some sort of frequent flyer miles program.

Me: Do we have a cat?
Her: A cat? No.
Me: Then I found your slippers underneath the bed.

After almost two solid months of working 12-14 hour days, took this weekend off. It was weird. There’s this underlying guilt when you live an eat-what-you-kill lifestyle that you should be working on something.

Picked up a book for the first time in months: The Lawyer Bubble – I have a preview copy I’m reviewing for the New York Journal of Books.

It looks bleak for future of the profession, especially for the current classes and recent grads: There are approximately 45,000 new lawyers each year but only 73,600 legal jobs expected in the next decade.

Not good.

My focus in the law is pretty narrow – mainly because it’s the part I find the most interesting.

Coco Chanel once said, In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.

Think that’s true but I like to add it: …and to be irreplaceable, one has to do things that one: (a) loves, (b) can be the best in the world at, and (c) can make money doing.

That last part is from Good to Great.

I think that the two ideas combined and lead to a happy and comfortable life.

For a number of my clients, I like to think that I’m irreplaceable. And I think I’m irreplaceable because I’m doing something I’m really good at and enjoy doing (workload notwithstanding).

As for those newly minted lawyers, hope they find something for themselves that fulfill all four criteria.

Life is way too short to spend your time doing something you don’t at least somewhat like.

And having $120,000 in additional debt around your neck while doing it is no fun either.

As for me, I’m going to try and take it easy today.

Maybe have a whole-wheat donut.

Mood: relieved
Music: Let them say I was a hard working stiff and sand of the golden age
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Red Belt – The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little

Lottery tickets

Me: It’s 9:15 PM. Would it be crazy for me to run out and buy some lottery tickets?
Her: Do it. You’ve had a great week so far.

Last week, wrapped up several projects that I’ve been working on for months.

Then at 9PM last night, found out that another project I was working on came through AND I got a completely unsolicited five-star Vine Voice Review for The Men Made of Stone saying it was a Damn Good Novel.

For those of you that don’t know, a Vine Voice is an invitation-only accolade from Amazon that is for “the most trusted reviewers on Amazon.”

Between that and the Olympics last night, could barely sleep. Speaking of accolades and people with great weeks, watched as swimmers Dana Vollmer and Brendan Hansen broke two world records.

In my insomnia last night, thought of Sir Roger Bannister, the first person in recorded history to run a four minute mile.

Also thought of pancakes but that’s neither here nor there.

In any case, the thing about Bannister is that he could only train 45 minutes a day because he was studying to be a neurologist – in fact, he’s the author of the book on nervous system diseases.

This other fella named Pedro Valente Jr. is one of ten people on the planet that has a red belt (aka a 9th degree black belt) in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That’s impressive enough. However, he’s also recognized by the New York Times as one of the top 5 plastic surgeons on the planet.

And, if you’re a long time reader of this blog, you know my idolization of Heady Larmarr who was not only a gorgeous film actress but also an inventor that patented the frequency-hopping technology we use in today’s mobile phones.

These people’re my idols cause they show that one can excel at numerous disparate things. They dispel the myth that one can be the best at only one thing, if anything at all.

It’ll take time, but I think I can be King of two things and Jack of four things. Put another way: The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little and these are people that refused to settle.

Or to quote yet another philosopher named Eminem:

Yo I won’t tell no lie, not a moment goes by
That I don’t pray to the sky, please I’m beggin you God
Please don’t let me be pigeon holed in no regular job
Yo I hope you can hear me homey wherever you are

———-

Lottery tickets

If you haven’t picked up a copy of my book yet, here’s the first ~60 pages of it just to see what you think:

Location: home
Mood: ambitious
Music: got every ingredient, all I need is the courage
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My Experience with Kirkus Indie Book Reviews

Did not have a pleasant experience with Kirkus

For those of you that don’t know, Kirkus Reviews was a book review magazine known for having very harsh reviewers, rarely giving a positive review to anything.

In 2004, they launched a service whereby someone could pay for an honest review. In theory, this sounds great because it fulfills a need; few ebooks by unknown authors are given a chance to be read by a reputable house.

Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to help them enough financially and they announced that they would close at the end of 2009. However, a man from the Indiana Pacers swooped in and saved them so that they were able to continue their business model (as Kirkus Indie Reviews).

That’s the backstory.

A few months back, I wrote this post which I can tell you now was about Kirkus Reviews.

I sent them The Men Made of Stone, because: A real artist ships, otherwise you’re just a nutcase with a notebook. Putting my money where my mouth is, requested a review.

And as I said, I got a scathing review of the first 30 pages of my story. Almost half the review – 102 out of 304 words – is spent talking about a minor character that’s killed on page 24 out of a 296 page book.

The hero of the book is given 13 words in the review and called a “minor character” by the editor. The antagonist wasn’t mentioned at all.

That’s like writing a review of Hamlet and saying it’s about the witty banter between Bernardo and Francisco and some punk kid named Hamlet. With no mention of Claudius.

Put another way, that’s writing a book review on The Godfather and saying that it revolves around Bonasera and Fredo.

And if you don’t know read crime thrillers to know what that means, that’s fine, because neither did the Kirkus reviewer, who called the story “completely unrealistic.”

But just like The Godfather, The Men Made of Stone, while fiction, is a roman a clef; the scenes that the reviewer said could not have happened, actually happened.

In any case, I exchanged emails with the editor and asked him to just refund my money, which he refused to do. He essentially said, “We’re Kirkus, our reviewers are anonymous and you can’t do anything about it.”

After countless emails back and forth, I just opened a complaint with the credit card company, printed up the emails we had, and sent in my side of the story.

After about three months, my credit card company said that after hearing from Kirkus and reading everything, they decided that Kirkus Reviews did not, in fact, provide what they were supposed to provide: an honest review by a qualified reviewer who read my book.

Logan: 1
Kirkus: 0

Now, logic would say I should just pocket my returned funds and keep quiet.

But it was never about the money. It was about the unfairness of it all. I can brook a lot but I can’t put up with bullies. If I didn’t just get a refund, I woulda just gone to court.

Moreover, I believe in my story and my editors. Enough to write this entry.

For those ebook writers that ask, “Is a Kirkus Review worth it?” For me at least, the answer is no.

I’m not saying that this is going to be your experience with Kirkus – but it is my experience. Moreover, my opinion is that in order to make money at that model, you have to churn quantity. Assuming an average reading speed of 250 words a minute, skimming is an attractive option. Since it’s anonymous, all the more so. As I neither get paid nor am anonymous in my reviews, I know of what I speak.

So take this post as you will.

Kirkus Editor: I’d hope you could appreciate the subjective nature of reviews. [If you go to court, you’ll lose].
Me: Your review make it seem as if my book is about a guy named C and a guy named TT. My position is simple – that is not what my book’s about. I’ll take my chances. Thanks.

———-

I did get a positive review on the San Francisco Book Review but more on that next week. Or just read it for yourself:

The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo
 

Location: getting dressed for work
Mood: vindicated
Music: takes more than what you got to frighten me
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Stop looking only north

This happened 15 years ago maybe?

Her: Who’s out there that could possibly overtake Yahoo now that AltaVisa, Excite, and Snap are gone?
Me: It’s gonna be someone we never heard of, doing stuff we never thought of, making things we’ve never seen.

There’s a story I’ve told for decades: For thousands of years, the Chinese have been invaded by the north.

  • The Xiongnu (aka Attila the Hun) invaded from the north regularly
  • The Jurchen invaded from the north and controlled China for over a century.
  • The Manchus invaded from the north and controlled China for over three centuries

It goes on.

In any case, they hit on the idea to build a wall. And for the next 1,800 years, they kept an eye on that wall.

Then in 1839, the Opium Wars start – in the south – which led China into the civil wars, WWII, more civil wars, Communism, and now China making Olympic clothing for the US.

My point is that they’d trained themselves to respond automatically to a set stimulus: Blitzkrieg attacks from the north.

But they no idea that they could be attacked – slowly and both militarily and economically – from the south.

By people they’d never heard of, doing stuff they never thought of, with things they’d never seen.

The hardest lesson to learn in wrasslin and in fencing – one I’m still struggling with – is how to stop going for a closed path and see the open paths.

Anywho, tell this story cause I got some interesting news the other day: The guy that made it into that law school just got a pretty good gig somewhere else. He’s super psyched. I remember telling him this story on the phone.

Me: The moral of the story’s this: Stop looking north. You spend all your time and energy looking at this one direction and your threats and opportunities are potentially – and probably – somewhere else completely.
Him: So stop looking north?
Me: Well, stop looking only north.

 

Location: my steamy room
Mood: hot as balls
Music: Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head
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No sleep till the job’s done

Me: (to waitress) I’ll have a acai caipirinha.
Nadi: (to waitress) Put an umbrella in it?
Me: Please don’t.
Her: Logan, it’s a purple drink.

Been crazy busy lately. Did manage to find time to meet up with my old co-workers again this past Monday, which is always fun.

Last night, gave another lecture on the law. Despite my being pretty much exhausted, thought it went pretty well. That is until the wife started cracking up at home.

Her: You know that Beastie Boy reference you made?
Me: Yeah?
Her: You called MCA, AMC.
Me: Oh for pete’s sake…

That’s onea the dangers of doing all that I do with as little sleep as I usually get. That lecture’s gonna be up for a long time and I’ll forever be that guy that made a Beastie Boy reference and then got the name wrong.

Ended up at the Harvard Club in midtown where the other speaker bought me a drink. Didn’t have any good rums on deck so I had a Macall ofn on the rocks. Was good but nuthin beats my rum – with or without an umbrella.

Got home to some really terrific news but that’s a post for another time.

As for now, no sleep till Brooklyn the job’s done.

Location: getting dressed for work
Mood: exanimate
Music: born and bred in Brooklyn, the USA. They call me Adam Yauch, but I’m MCA.
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