You’re in luck

I’m someone

CPK: The world is full of lonely people, it seems.
Me: So true; even/especially here in the big city.

Do you know that there are almost no alleys left in NYC?

You wouldn’t get that from TV and movies but it turns out that NYC has so few that production companies keep filming the same one – Cortlandt Alley – over and over again.

Just happened to walk by it the other day while I was getting my clothes tailored – more on that later (thanks, Mike!).

My point is that that’s the thing; rare things don’t really seem that rare until you try to look for them.

The kicker is that I actually live right next door to an alley that was used in another famous movie. But that’s my little secret.

Speaking of secrets, people seem to tell me a lotta secrets. Think it’s because – even before becoming a lawyer – I was known as someone that could keep them.

RN: You can’t tell anyone about this.
Me: I’ll put it in the vault.

And like the alleys, you think that people that can keep secrets are all over the place but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Cause I seem to field rando calls alla time from all sorts of people because they don’t have anyone else to tell them to.

Him: I needed to talk to someone.
Me: You’re in luck. I’m someone.

That kinda bums me out, that I’m all they’ve got.

So people call me to unburden themselves and I usually offer them some unsolicited advice, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Cause what do I know?

But I get it. We all need someone, or something, to tell our secrets to. Cause secrets are lonely things.

Life’s lonely enough as it is.

Me: You’re kinda my best friend. So I tell you things…
Her: Ditto.

On a related matter, my brother spends his free time talking to suicidal people and volunteering in dangerous foreign places.

I worry that he might be drawn into the abyss himself but he wants to help them. I can’t fault him for that. He’s a good soul and I”m proud of him.

Thank goodness for the good souls, yeah?

Location: the vault in my head
Mood: curious
Music: No chemical could recreate our chemistry

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Getting your way

My Big Head

My brother’s in town and, despite him being on a carb-free diet too, we both indulged because the Gymgirl’s away so that means a break from the diet.

Him: Ok…just one slice.
Me: …maybe two. We’ll see. I mean, if the kid doesn’t finish his, I gotta, right?

Thought of Gradgirl recently because I got into a discussion with someone about the book Getting to Yes. It’s one of my faves.

Went through it with Gradgirl for one of her electives; there’s a part that goes something like, You don’t want to win your argument, you want to get your way.

Essentially, the book was saying that people want to win an argument to the point that they lose sight of what they truly wanted in the first place.

In fact, the full name of the book is: Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. – I bolded the last part, because the last part is the “getting your way” part.

For example, I hate Trump. But I want him to succeed, because if he’s successful, the country’s successful. Those that want him to fail miss out on the bigger point that we, as a country, fail if he fails.

He’s still a(n enormous) douchebag, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anywho, I mentioned wanting to get my way with my friend who looks at this line of thinking like some sort character defect on my part.

It’s because he never read Getting to Yes. To him, the only way for me to win, is for some other party to lose. Evidently, he’s never heard of win-win.

See, I told him that I was going to install a signal repeater for my sister – and me so I could record some shows – but my sister told me she didn’t need or want one.

But I was just going to install it anyway since I measured the signal strength and I knew she was one storm away from it totally failing on her one day.

Anywho, I never got around to getting it set up and she just wrote me last week that her antenna failed, which I knew it would.

Had I installed it, we both woulda gotten what we wanted; television. Instead, neither of us have it now – it’s pure lose-lose. The earliest I can head out to her is a few weeks from now.

Of course, all this is in theory.

The reality of negotiation breaks down when your major daily adversary’s a three-year old, who has no issue with playing dirty.

Son: This has spinach. I don’t want it.
Me: But it’s *mostly* egg with just a little spinach. Don’t you want to grow up big and strong? Just try…
Him: No! (pause) You have a big, big head.
Me: What?! Where did that come from?
Him: (laughing) You have a big, big head. (points at my head)
Me: Why are you saying that?
Him: Because…you have a big, big head. (laughs)
Me: (grumble, eats spinach eggs)

Location: yesterday, running around with friends
Mood: understanding
Music: I can’t do this again, do this again

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Kindness Floats

Being Invisible

Me: I’m the best thing that ever happened to you!

The Professor wrote me this morning while I was writing this blog entry and sent me this article entitled: Shkreli vs. Holmes: 2 Frauds, 2 Divergent Outcomes. Were They Fair?

Actually read it last night but I thought it was interesting that he wrote me because he and I were both bullied as kids.

Suspect that all bullied kids wish they had superpowers but I think that they diverge on the type they hope to have.

Most want to be Superman – strong and invincible. But some wanted to be invisible. Like me. I just wanted to be left alone.

Left alone cause I was a weird kid that wanted to do my weird kid things in peace.

When I read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, one story that stuck in my mind was that of what was the single biggest determinant of whether a doctor would be sued or not was how much the patient liked them.

And that story reminded me of yet another story – weird kids become weird adults – which was about James Bond.

Read somewhere that James Bond was protected, not by all the gadgets and gizmos he had, but by a cloak of affability. People just liked him and wanted to help him or sleep with him.

Always thought that was a pretty good deal.

I digress, back to the article: Martin Shkreli and Elizabeth Holmes were both morally bankrupt business people that broke the law. And yet Martin Shkreli is going to jail while Elizabeth Holmes essentially will get a fine and go on with her life.

Why? Because one was hated and one was not. Or at least, less so.

That thing I wrote previously about leaving people better off having met you than not isn’t so much about being nice to other people so much as it about me being left alone.

Being nice to other people is just a beneficial by-product.

What Johnny, Trump, and my old friend don’t seem to understand is that being hated is like a sinking ship; it forces everyone around you to either sink with you or frantically swim away lest they get pulled down with you.

It’s why I always value kindness above everything else. Because kindness is peaceful. Kindness floats.

And it lets you be the invisible man. No one pays attention to the invisible man. So you’re free to do your weird kid things in peace, even as a 44 year-old adult.

Gymgirl: (shrugging) Eh. You’re alright…

Location: bed, waiting for the kid to wake up
Mood: thoughtful
Music: Slow down my beating heart. A man dreams one day to fly

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Be hot or be cold

In for a penny, in for a pound

Me: Papa’s gotta get back to work and make some scratch.
Him: Scratch!

In the film Heat, there’s a scene where they accidentally kill a guard while doing a heist.

When that happens, they kill everyone. Because the law says that if someone dies during a robbery, that’s murder, period. And murdering one and murdering 20 is the same, so you might as well not leave any witnesses.

A dark example, I know.

On a slightly brighter note, I also wrote about this story once before, over a decade ago:

Alexander the Great used to burn his boats once his army landed somewhere so that they had no choice but either fight and win or die in a foreign land.

Once again, I find myself on foreign shores, far from what everything I know. Far from my old life.

But I’ve made a decision to stay in this world that I despise. So in for a penny in for a pound.

That’s the thing with doing stuff. If you’re gonna do it, you gotta shut up and do it.

I’ve lost my faith in God. If there is a god, he hates my family. If there isn’t, then I’m no worse nor better off than before.

But there are things from the bible that still resonate with me. Revelation 3:16 said that “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I spit you out of my mouth.”

Because I’m staying, I stay as a single father now. Gotta be the best single father I possibly can.

And there’s not much to do but do it. Everything else is a distraction from the real job at hand.

What a job that is…

Me: We’re gonna start potty training, doesn’t that sound like fun!?
Him: (laughing, shaking head) Noooooo.
Me: (laughing also) Trust me, I like it even less than you do. But we do what we gotta do, yeah?
Him: Yes.

Location: Earth
Mood: alive
Music: You bet – If you’re gonna do it, do it right

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Genetic Fallacies and the Citibank Building

Listening’s a lot harder when your ego’s on the line

Citibank Building in Manhattan 3

Him: I don’t understand what happened.
Me: Maybe there’s a reason why they went with someone else.

That’s a picture of the Citibank building here in Manhattan. I took it along with the picture below in March of last year for another entry.

About a month after I took it, read this article that said that the building was ridiculously flawed.

How ridiculous? There was a 1-in-16 year chance that the entire building would come tumbling down with a strong wind.

That’s pretty ridiculous.

But the weirdest thing about how this all unfolded was that a female college student from NJ figured out it was flawed, tracked down the lead engineer, and contacted him to tell him that his design was fatally flawed.

And despite haven’t any number of reasons to not listen to her, he did.

Then, as Hurricane Eva was barreling down onto the East Coast in 1978, NYC and these engineers all secretly fixed the problem. All without most of the city finding out. In fact, most people didn’t learn about it until 1995.

Citibank Building in Manhattan 1

I thought of this recently when a colleague of mine was wondering why he lost a major account. I knew why. So I told him.

There’s this illogical argument called a genetic fallacy, where you don’t want to believe something that someone says because of the person saying it.

The engineer could have sneered at any one of the things about the person contacting him: her sex, where she was from, her age, her experience, etc.

But he didn’t. Because he was smart enough to realize she was right. That’s something I still find really amazing.

People wanna have any number of reasons they believe what they believe. Even if it’s not true.

Him: (later, upset) What do you know? You’re a lawyer, not a psychologist.
Me: This is true. But what I said is also true.

Location: midtown east
Mood: tired but super happy
Music: You’ve got the talkin’ down, just not the listening

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We were given treasure

People don’t realize what they have

Vases in a Window Display

I have a problem with people’s ingratitude.

That’s probably why I get so irritated with people who’ve never lived in NYC in the 70s-90s and miss the “gritter days.”

It’s easy for them to miss something they romanticize in their heads.

Me? I look at the ability to walk down the street and not be concerned about getting shanked a gift.

Speaking of gifts, after 9/11, people around the world sent their condolences and … stuff. Nations flew their flags at half-mast, dignitaries cried. What one might expect.

But a small tribe of Masai warriors in remote Kenya also heard about 9/11. Most had not even seen a plane before and couldn’t fathom buildings that tall. But they understood the magnitude of what had happened.

And so these incredibly poor people – “poor” in our economic understanding of the word – sent the United States 14 cows.

For the Masai people, cows are everything. They are, in fact, the single symbol of wealth as their entire culture revolves around cattle.

In any case, these 14 cows were accepted by the US but cared for in Africa – along with a reverse donation from the US of scholarships for the children there.

They’re still there, now numbering 35 or so.

I can only assume that the American ambassador that was given these animals realized that he was given treasure. Things that these people had worked for their whole lives.

Wonder what would’ve happened if the Ambassador didn’t realize what he’d been given and instead thought he was just being given a random buncha dirty animals.

It bothers me when people are given treasure and do nothing but complain about how it’s not good enough.

A 30 year-old man here in NYC just allegedly killed his father because he wanted more allowance.

People don’t see what they have – often through sheer dumb luck – they only see what they think the don’t have.

They possess treasure but no understanding that they do.

Exhibit at a Museum in NYC

I wrote this entry before I turned on news today.

Gunmen broke into an office building in Paris and executed a number of people including a wounded police officer.

It’s a scary world we live in today.

Location: in front of a large cuppa joe
Mood: sad
Music: I guess we thought that’s just what humans do

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Survival of the strongest

Most people misunderstand the phrase, Survival of the fittest

Fishes off Bermuda Docks

Been meaning to post this for a while.

My coach just forwarded an article by a Ph.D named Dr. Rhadi Ferguson about who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman. You can hear the author read it in his own words here.

Now I agree with almost everything the doctor says with one major exception. He says:

In battles the strongest guy does not [always] (sic) win, nor (does) the fittest, but the one that has those qualities and is the smartest.

With all due respect to Dr. Ferguson, he gets what everyone gets wrong about the term “Survival of the fittest.”

If I say to you the words, “Survival of the fittest,” what do you hear?

Dr. Ferguson – and most people – invariably people hear, “Survival of the strongest.” They define fittest as being physically fit.

But this is an issue of logical equivocation: The meaning of “fit” in this phrase doesn’t mean physically fit, but appropriate to the situation.

In that sense, then, the actual meaning is the opposite of what most people think.

The phrase: Survival of the fittest, means: Survival of the most appropriate.

If you were locked in a smoke-filled room having a 3-foot window with a small girl, a strongman, and a billionaire, while the girl is the weakest, the poorest, and the most inexperienced, she will most likely survive because she is the most fit – the most appropriate – for survival in that situation.

I think that’s why I have so many interests; I wanna have the broadest skill set possible for any situation that arises. One of my goals for 2015 is to dust off some skills I had that were once pretty good and sharpen then up.

Tank in Staten Island

Speaking of 2015 and having skills, I started the year, as usual, by making a huge pot of chili and by fixing some technology around the house.

We were originally planning on heading out for dinner but the weekend was rainy and my shoulder was killing me.

Her: (canceling a dinner reservation) Open Table will be so mad at me for canceling that reservation.
Me: You know that OpenTable isn’t sentient, right?

 

2015. Maybe this will be our year.

Homemade Chili

One more nerdy pet peeve of mine; people seem to think that Darwin coined the phrase, but he didn’t.

A fella named Herb Spencer, who read Darwin’s work, came up with the term. Darwin used the term himself five years after On Species came out.

OK, now I’m done.

Location: at my desk again
Mood: hopeful
Music: You can get along if you try to be strong

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Asian-ish

The Story of Sessue Hayakawa Pt. 1

When I was in college back, quite literally before the last turn of the century, I wrote my college thesis on The Hidden Asian in Film.

Did you ever notice that there were no Asians in any of the original Star Wars trilogy?

But the Asian influences were everywhere:

  • The Emperor / The Emperor
  • The Shogun’s helmet / Darth Vader’s shogun helmet
  • Martial arts / Martial arts
  • The force / Qi
  • Yin-Yang / Dark-Light Side of the Force
  • Jedi knights / Shaolin warrior monks

In fact, the story of the original Star Wars “borrowed” heavily from the Japanese film Hidden Fortress but Lucas didn’t think any actual Japanese merited any screen time.

And that’s pretty much how films and television treated Asians for years – Asian-ish. Even characters like Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan were Asian-like – caricatures played by Caucasian actors.

But there was this fella named Sessue Hayakawa, who is not the fella pictured above but was the first sex symbol of Hollywood – ever. He pre-dated Rudolph Valentino by several years.

And his story goes just a little bit in explaining why there’s always been an Asian influence in Hollywood and television but few actual Asians.

For that part of the story, I’m going to head over to my friend Jocelyn’s website: Speaking of China for part 2 of this entry.

Location: yesterday, with a pot of coffee
Mood: ready for the week
Music: My oh my oh my what a wonder, my oh my oh my what a wonder
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Zebras cannot be tamed because they live with lions

Environment isn’t everything, but it’s a lot

Zebras appear strikingly patterned to humans, ...
Zebras appear strikingly patterned to humans, but not to lions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a kid, I wondered why no one ever rode around on a zebra. After all, they’re just a type of horse, right?

Well, it turns out that they cannot be tamed. They’re just too ornery and wild. Which, of course, begs the question, Why are they so ornery and wild?

The reason is because they live where lions live. And, over thousands of years, they’ve adapted to dealing with them.

For example, when they kick, they don’t randomly kick like a horse with one leg, instead, they balance on their front legs, aim, and then kick – with both legs.

While I didn’t have the most pleasant childhood here in NYC, it wasn’t all bad. At this age, I think that, overall, it’s been a net positive that I grew up in this particular corner of the world.

It’s made me anti-fragile.

And people don’t really understand why I spend my free time swinging sticks at people or being smashed by sweaty dudes. Suppose I do it to keep me that way.

Zebras don’t look like much. But you can only kill them, capture them, or let them be; they can’t be controlled. They won’t be submitted.

You gotta respect that.

The Men Made of Stone

On a different note entirely, I dropped the price of The Men Made of Stone to $0.99 on Amazon for the rest of this week because I’m trying out a few things with them.

If you enjoy my writing here, give it a go!

Location: in rainy NYC
Mood: rainy
Music: didn’t even stopped to see that, that It was breaking me
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The people that make NYC miserable

Demolished a room and got hit by a car

Hit and try-to-run-but-cannot-run-driver
Had an interesting weekend.

Walking out of my gym in midtown, met a young guy who worked at a masonry shop a few doors down.

Yes, it’s odd that there’s a masonry in the middle of Manhattan but where we are, there’s still a lot of old NY there.

After a little chatting, mentioned that I was thinking of fixing up part of my apartment and exchanged info. Got a call later on that week that he was in the neighborhood. Within ninety minutes of that call, cabinets and appliance were ripped out and hauled away.

Sometimes, things  just move quickly.

Which is the opposite of what was happening on the street in front of my apartment on Saturday morning because of the garbage truck you see in the picture above.

This was enough to cause some jerk sit on his horn and wake up everyone in the hood.

When I came out to take a picture of him, he proceeded to bump me with his car.

Again: He hit me with his car even though he could not move because of the garbage truck in front of him.

I was unhurt – although it’s my ACL leg so it’s a little sore. Shoulda called the police but I had my usual bout of insomnia the night before and didn’t think it through.

Ended up calling the cops afterward, but by then, figured it wasn’t worth it. Interestingly, the cop that came was actually another student from my old gym and we chatted about my current wrasslin partner, whom everyone in NYC seems to know cause he’s such a nice guy.

The opposite of this guy here, who’s the type of self-important NYC douchebag that make life miserable for everyone else.

He drives a fine German automobile and wears a button-down shirt but was clearly raised by wolves.

Like I said, young broken people grow up to be old broken people.
Selfish New Yorker
And now, a new week. Let’s see what happens.

Location: back to wrasslin in just a bit
Mood: sore
Music: you know it don’t matter anyway. You can rely on the old man’s money
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