McDonald’s Wars

Pan con tomate

Back when I still ate bread, Alison would make some pan con tomate for us every so often. The first time she ever did, I told her to grab a loaf from the bakery around the way.

Me: Make sure it’s one that has condensation on the plastic.
Her: What? Why?

There are things that I do that might not make any sense to you if you just heard it. But it does to me. Like not letting my kid play tug-of-war, for example. Or avoiding any country that doesn’t have a McDonald’s.

Not because I want to eat McDonald’s – which, let’s admit it, I do – but because the existence of a McDonald’s indicates a relative level of economic and social stability.

In fact, there’s an interesting and related fact: No two countries that have a McDonald’s have ever been at war with each other.

It’s like that M&Ms story I told you about; on the surface, some things I do seem silly, or downright stupid to people that don’t understand why I do what I do. But, I don’t generally care enough to explain myself.

    • I don’t go to doctors that wear ties.
    • I don’t like waiters that don’t write things down.
    • I won’t be friends with someone that cheats on their significant other.
    • I won’t debate anyone that leads with a logical fallacy.
    • I won’t start static with anyone with funny looking ears.

These are just some of the hundreds of random rules I live by that I don’t generally say out loud but keep in my head. Some just keep me from wasting time. Others keep me safe.

I met someone a little while back and she was super attractive, nice, etc.

But she was 20 minutes late and didn’t mention it. At all. At best, that means that she’s rude. At worst, it means that she has no concept of time management. And time is something that we’re all losing at a rate of 24 hours a day.

I’m running outta time to run out of.

Anywho, there are things in the world that I’m seeing that are setting off massive alarms in my head and I hope I’m wrong.

Which isn’t a huge stretch, I’m wrong a lot.

Here, though, I really hope I’m wrong…

Me: It’s an indication of freshness. When it’s old, there’s no condensation because it sat out long enough for it to evaporate. But, if there is condensation – even if it’s cool –  you know it was still recently baked because the condensation didn’t have time to evaporate.

Alison’s pan con tomate
1 loaf of crusty french bread, halved, lengthwise
3 tbsp EVOO
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
four medium plum tomatoes, cored
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

    • Take the halved loaf and brush it with the EVOO, you’ll have some left.
    • Cut the bread again, so that it’ll fit into your broiler and put it aside.
    • Take the tomatoes and, using a box grater, carefully gate the tomatoes on the side with the biggest holes until you’re left with skin. Toss out the tomato skins.
    • Mix in the garlic and some grinds of black pepper.
    • Put the bread in the broiler on high for two mins or so, should be lightly toasted.
    • Take it out and spoon the tomato mixture over the bread and drizzle what’s left of the EVOO over it. Sprinkle salt over the top.
    • Wait a minute or two before eating; the bread needs just a bit to soak up the tomato juices.

I made that from memory so I hope it’s right. Haven’t had that since the last time she made it for me.

Don’t think I will again.

Podcast Version
Location: earlier today, getting a flu shot from a guy without a tie
Mood: worried
Music: I can be so damn crazy but I know you like it (Spotify)
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You’re in danger

Tasting our own medicine

Him: Are you serious, you’re not gonna let your kid play tug-of-war?
Me: Yup.
Him: That’s nuts.
Me: Did you eat lunch yet?
Him: (puzzled) Not yet, why?
Me: Good, Google “tug of war fatalities.” And, if you haven’t eaten yet, click on images.

People don’t realize when they’re in danger.

If COVID has shown me anything, it’s that people do shockingly dumb things because they don’t understand that some rules cannot be broken.

For example, the rule of gravity; we all follow it, at a rate of 9.8 meters per second, per second.

We all age at a rate of 1,440 minutes a day.

But societal rules based on scientific rules for similarly mundane but dangerous things – like covering up your face during a pandemic – seem to be a mystery to people.

Take potential energy, for example. Potential energy is merely energy that could happen, versus kinetic energy, which is energy actually happening.

When you’re playing tug-of-war, you have no idea how much potential energy is being amassed by a piece of rope that – were is sentient – would be like, “The hell are you guys doing? Are you insane?”

The amount of force being applied to what is conceivably a comparatively tiny single point of failure is pretty mind boggling. Now, most of the time, if the rope holds, it’s just fun and games. But, if the rope fails?

Well, click here (super graphic) or here (less graphic) and you can see.

One thing that I’ve been learning with Chad is noticing when I’m in danger while wrestling. It’s an interesting way of looking at something I’ve been doing for years.

Him: Logan, stop doing that. You’re in danger here. You shouldn’t be in attacking mode, you should be in defending mode. You need to know where you are.

That alone seems to have improved my game substantially.

I think there’s a lot of life lessons to be learned everywhere. You just have to follow the rules.

On a related/unrelated point, I meet lots of people that I don’t even start relationships with, because I know it won’t go anywhere. Business, romantic, whatever.

In those scenarios, at least, I know when I’m in danger.

I suppose that’s why I always prefer being the dumpee than the dumper; I never was one for hurting others.

Besides, tasting your own medicine’s never a bad thing, I think. It keeps you from becoming cruel.

OK, “never” may be too strong a word.

Her: I got you something, it’s a supplement that might help with all your health issues.
Me: Thank you – you’re very sweet.
Her: No need for thanks. Especially once you try it.
Me: OK, here goes nuthin…(later) Gah! Do you hate me?!
Her: (laughs)

Podcast Version
Location: upstairs, watching an AC being installed in 2B
Mood: hungry
Music: I’m used to ripping hearts out (Spotify)
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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

You don’t know what you don’t know

Volkwagen Part 199.398.500.A

Went to the doctor’s. Again. Seriously.

Me: Another finger’s infected. He’s never seen anything like this.
Pac: You’re kidding me.
Me: He thinks that I’m washing my hands too much – like twice an hour, on the hour.
Him: Now that I believe.

Way back in 1997, I mentioned to a lawyer that lived in my building that I was thinking of buying stock in either International Paper or Iomega, the maker of the zip disk.

He rolled his eyes and said sarcastically, Paper. Yeah, real forward thinking, Logan. That’s gonna be a money-maker for sure.

One of my rules I have  in life is that if someone says something sarcastically, they’re probably hiding either a complete lack of knowledge on a subject or, at the very least, aren’t very well versed in it.

But this guy was a pretty smart lawyer so I was conflicted. In the end, I decided to stick to my rule and assume that he was, in fact, an idiot.

He was. Iomega’s bankrupt now. While I did buy some, I also bought a lot of International Paper and did well with it.

You see, the lawyer scoffed because – to him – paper meant letters and newspapers, two things that the internet was crushing.

But to me, paper meant cardboard boxes, packaging, and coffee cups – all of which were rising, rapidly, in demand, due to the internet.

OK, maybe not coffee cups, but you get my drift.

Anywho, the lawyer’s problem was that he couldn’t see things for what they really were, only what he thought them to be.

Now, if I asked you what Volkswagen sold the most of for the past 45 years, you’d probably say, cars. Or trucks.

But those aren’t its number one selling product.

Volkswagon’s number one selling product is a sausage. Specifically Volkswagen part number 199.398.500.A – Currywurst sausage.

In 2017, it sold 6.8 million currywursts, significantly more than number of cars or trucks it sold during that same time.

The point of all this is that you don’t know, what you don’t know, until you know, that you don’t know it.

Like, I didn’t know that over-washing my hands might lead to infections. Now I do.

Past Contestant: You’re not exactly my regular type, Logan.
Me: And what’s your regular type?
Her: (laughing) Well, not a 47 year old widowed Chinese guy with a kid.
Me: And how’s that worked out for you so far? All I’m saying is that if you keep doing what you do, you keep getting what you get. Besides, you’ve never met a fella like me before. Shoes off, please. 

On that note, think I’m gonna take a little break from dating.

It’s all the disappointing and disappointments I told you about before.

Podcast Version
Location: the doctor’s office, seriously
Mood: busy again
Music: I think it’s all in my mind (Spotify)
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The beach, a bike ride, friends, and food

Lots and lots of food

I did have a really nice weekend, though. All things considered.

Mouse came by on Saturday and stayed over until Tuesday – for a very NYC reason.

Me: I’m pretty sure you don’t have to move your car until Tuesday.
Her: Are you sure? Double-check.
Me: (later) Yup, you’re good until Tuesday.
Her: Yay! Let’s eat.

I was mainly looking for distractions so, if there’s one thing that girl is good at, it’s distractions.

Her: If the weather’s nice tomorrow do you wanna go to the beach?
Me: Sure, but I think the weather might conspire against us.

It didn’t, so off we went.

She admonished me more than a few times to remember to bring sunscreen. Naturally, that’s the one thing I forgot. So, I ended up walking over an hour looking for some.

Me: (sighing) Finally found some sunscreen. And beer.
Mouse: Did you get lost?
Me: You don’t even wanna know….

Because of Mouse’s health issues, she’s essentially been a vegetarian for more than a half-a-year now? That went away recently so we spent most of the time being gluttons.

Her: I’m eating everything.
Me: Well, I’m still fasting.
Her: I’m eating everything!

We ended up eating, amongst other things, some of Steel’s fish, some Korean bulgogi, several heart-attack sandwiches, and fried chicken. Of course.

The next day, we went down the Hudson River Greenway, me on the electric bike, her on the scooter.

Her: This reminds me of California.
Me: Yeah, that seems like ages ago.
Her: I wanna go to a cafe.
Me: There’s one coming up.

We sat down and she treated me to a diet coke while she had a coffee with what can only be described as a diabetes-inducing amount of sugar.

She left for work on Tuesday and I met up with Chuck and Chad afterward, like I said.

Lviv dropped me a line today too, just to see how I’m doing.

These researchers once did a study about dairy cows and noted that they were happy in the sense that they avoided pain. Pain avoidance and happiness are remarkably similar.

I think that’s true for most animals, us included.

I have to say that avoiding the pain this past weekend made me feel something close to happiness. The company helped, for sure.

And now, I can feel a little bit of relief until the holidays, at least.

Me: Thanks for coming this weekend; you’ve never missed any of these terrible anniversaries and I’m grateful for that. Thank you.
Her: I’m glad I got to spend the weekend with you. Good night, Logan.
Me: Good night, Mouse.

Podcast Version
Location: earlier today, a bike shop and a cable company
Mood: exhausted
Music: Let’s conquer the percentages (Spotify)
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Weapons invite death

A Faustian bargain

Weapons and grappling are two, very different, forms of violence.

The former is binary – I will die and/or sustain grave bodily injury, or you will die and/or sustain grave bodily injury. There’s no middle ground. It’s useful as a force multiplier in situations like multiple attackers or similarly armed assailants.

The latter, however, has an n-ary relationship, whereby I can control the level of lethality from simple control all the way to death. It is my option. As with weapons work, grappling is also a force multiplier but it’s less useful against armed and/or multiple assailants.

When the police are not allowed to use the latter, their only option is the former. This means going from an n-ary relationship to a binary one of life or death/grave bodily injury. Again, there is no middle ground.

This is because weapons invite death. That is the nature of a weapon.

Mr. Floyd’s murder is a horrific one and one where the murderer deserves the most extreme punishment; at best, he showed a depraved heart, at worst, he’s just a piece of shit. But note that Mr. Floyd is dead precisely because of the option of death; the murderer chose to kill a man.

Just like you could kill someone with a fork, a fork serves many other useful purposes beyond murder – in fact, a fork is a sub-optimal means of killing someone, just as grappling is a sub-optimal means of killing someone. A gun or knife does that far more quickly and efficiently.

Note that, the particular movement used by the murderer – knee on neck – is one I’ve never done and would never do. I’ve never seen it done in real life. I’ve never had it done to me. It’s because it’s not the best tool for the job of restraint.

But to throw out the entirety of the latter – pin controls and restraints – means that the only option NYC is giving the police is the former.

This is Faustian bargain on its face; the very people the law Mayor DeBlasio is claiming to help will be the ones that will have to deal with the consequences of the police having less-lethal options to do their job.

Podcast Version
Location: home, waiting for a plumber
Mood: puzzled
Music: I don’t usually give in to peer pressure (Spotify)
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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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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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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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The world’s loneliest creature

Lonely enough

I find whales fascinating.

When Gradgirl and I went to the Museum of Natural History, I said to her:

Me: You know, they just cleaned it a few years back.
Her: (laughing) I’m always surprised at all these random facts you have.

It being the giant blue whale on the ceiling of the Hall of Ocean Life.

These giants are locked in daily battles of life and death every single day: Three million mind-blowing battles between animals as big as a house on the daily.

Most whales speak to each other at frequencies ranging from 10–39 Hz. But, there a single, solitary whale that speaks at 52Hz. (I’ll call it her just to make it easier to write).

She’s called the loneliest whale in the world.

One. One of her kind.

Basically, scientists record her calling out into the world for friends and her answer’s always the same: Silence. No one can hear or understand her.

I’ve met people like that, who can’t seem to communicate with the rest of the world. The woman in my building’s one of them. There are others.

In my recent clarity – and drinking for several weeks straight will really gum up your brain, lemme tell ya – I realized, with more than a little shame, that I shoulda been more patient with some of these people. One in particular.

I allowed them to get me angry and that’s always a bad deal for everyone. Especially since, in many ways, I struggled to communicate with other people myself, for years.

Anywho, some whales live for 200 years. I hope she isn’t one of them.

Podcast Version
Life’s lonely enough without your tribe.

Me: There’s another thing about being different.
Him: What’s that?
Me: The loneliness. There are people I keep in my life that I shouldn’t. But I do because they’re the only ones that understand me in some narrow regard. Not being understood is…painful.

Location: outside, looking for frozen peas and carrots
Mood: infatuated
Music: I never thought you’d let me go (Spotify)
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Owing a debt

Mother is the name of God

Podcast Version

Him: Why do you stay in contact with her and people like him?
Me: I owe them a debt. Anyone that shows a kindness to my family, I owe a debt.

My head’s quiet again.

That’s more than I can say about the state of the nation, what with a pandemic, murder hornets, cannibal rats, state-sponsored murder, and now race riots.

The thing is: I get it. As my buddy from my gym said, you never get over the anger. And what’s the anger all about? Inequity.

It’s bullshit that Alison died so young, so close to her dream of finally – finally – getting a family. Bullshit.

I said earlier that I couldn’t watch the whole video. I stopped when Floyd cried out for his mother.

That broke my heart. As a regular, run-of-the-mill-normal human being, it broke my heart. That someone could die for no fucking reason whatsoever.

And what crushed it to powder was the thought that in the darkest moments of his life, my son will cry out for me. Because he didn’t know Alison.

And I’m half the person she was. You see, Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of children.

Except for mine, that is. Fuckballs.

I counted the days. Alison lived exactly 13,893 days. HALF of what she was promised. What we were promised. The inequity makes my blood boil.

Alison and George are gone now, for no good reason whatsoever. So, I understand the rage.

But there’s another facet to the rage. And that’s the debt.

In 1847 – after the Trail of Tears – the Choctaw heard about the starving Irish during their potato famine and somehow, managed to scrape together and send $170 (about $5,000 today) to help these people strangers.

For every bit of inequity – where one isn’t given what one’s owed – there’s a flip side. There’s grace; that’s when you’re given something you didn’t earn.

When Alison was sick, the grace I saw, humbled me. To those people that helped us, my family owes them a debt. That’s it.

We owe them a debt.

The Choctaw owed the Irish no debt but they paid a value to someone in need. And 173 years later, the descendants of those with the debt paid back some of it.

I think I hold a special place of contempt in my heart for those in mixed-race relationships – particularly white male and Asian female relationships – where the white male doesn’t realize the debt he owes the African-American community.

Like the the officer that murdered Mr. Floyd, who is married to a Laotian woman.

That officer doesn’t realize the debt his family owes to the black community, that was regularly lynched for just looking at a white woman, and had to go to court to gain us all the right to marry any one of any race we wanted.

I was able to legally marry Alison because a white man named Loving – of all things – wanted to marry a black woman, named Mildred. My family would not exist but for Mildred and Loving. The debt every interracial couple owes to them cannot be overstated.

If you’re white and in a mixed-race relationship and you don’t feel any rage over what happened to Mr. Floyd and don’t recognize the debt you owe to that community then I gotta point it out to you now.

You owe them a debt.

But rage against inequity works both ways.

Chauvin’s wife just announced that she was divorcing him.

Podcast Version
Location: 95th and Broadway
Mood: angry
Music: so sick of being so lonely; miss all my family (Spotify)
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