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
 Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Neufchâtel 2

Another entry on our possible pasts

Ship on the Hudson River

Her: What are you eating on that?
Me: Cream cheese. Kinda.
Her: What does that mean?
Me: Well, it all started years ago…
Her: Oh no…

Just had a bagel with cream cheese.

Check that, I just had a bagel with light cream cheese.

Well, that’s not totally true either – I had a bagel with a cheese called Neufchâtel, which I mentioned in passing once before.

Here’s the story: A fella named Bill tried to recreate a French cheese called Neufchâtel here in the states. But, because of the differences in milk, climate, cows, etc., it wasn’t quite right. So he added cream to it to make it more appealing, resulting in what we call cream cheese now.

English: French Neufchâtel is a cheese labelle...

Decades later, with improved technology, companies were able to better mimic Neufchâtel without the cream. As an added bonus, they realized that, without the added cream, it was naturally lighter in calories and fat.

But, because now everyone was more familiar with the name Cream Cheese over Neufchâtel, they simply called it Light Cream Cheese.

If you read this blog, you’ll see that one of the themes I have is how location influences things – sometimes for the better and sometimes not

My last entry was about accents changing as people move around. Or delicious oranges turning bitter somewhere else. Industrial waste turning to delicious rum after an ocean voyage.

I wonder what my life would have been like if we never came here? Suppose it’s a strange obsession I have with knowing my possible pasts.

Me:…and that’s the story of Light Cream Cheese.
Her: (silence)

Location: a building with bedbugs on the top floor
Mood: annoyed
Music: it’s still an obsession

The Past and the Virginia Tidewater Accent

Why is it the Top 40?


Did you ever wonder why the music countdown was always the Top 40? Why not the top 30, or 50?

The reason is because early jukeboxes could only hold 40 songs. So, decades later, we’re still constrained by figures and things that are no longer relevant.

I think about that a good deal: Why things are the way they are.

As I teach my fencing art and continue to wrassle, I’m ever vigilant to wonder if things are done for a good reason or if that’s just how things have always been done – and if the latter, why.

The core of the fulfilled life is the life that wonders why. And I think we all – in our own way – wonder about our purpose.

On a related note, I found the video above fascinating because you can hear how accents changed over time – how a UK accent can become an American Southern accent over time.

It’s a great commentary on how environment and time affects things to make the so different from what they once were that they’re no longer recognizable as what they once were.

On the flip side, though, I probably lie awake too long at wondering.

Lie Awake

Location: a building with someone that is starkers
Mood: irritated
Music: It’s simple and eternal, the sum of where we’re made
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

The worst day I’ve had in a while

Google will replace a cracked Nexus 5 screen for free

Cracked Nexus 5 Screen

Was out in Brooklyn meeting a client in the summer heat two days ago. Got mixed up and ended up being 20 minutes late – and I’m rarely late. Not a good start to a rough meeting.

Grabbed a bus to avoid walking in the heat and, when it lurched, heard a crack in my back pocket. My less-than-six-months-old Google Nexus 5 just bit the dust.

Then I got home and got confirmation that I lost my biggest and oldest client; they hired an in-house counsel. All-in-all, a rough day.

But then I saw more headlines for ISIS and the poor fella that they killed.

And my friend – who works for a non-profit – told me that he just received an email.

It seems that, because of the ebola epidemic, prices for food and other staple items are skyrocketing. The people he works with in Sierra Leone  – who are a very, very proud people – were asking for a slight and temporary stipend to be able to afford food to feed their family.

How much were they asking for?

$20 extra. For the month.

Suddenly, I felt really ridiculous about my worst day.

It got even more ridiculous as I found out that, 17 hours prior to my cracking my Nexus phone, Reddit just released that Google Play would replace any cracked Nexus phone purchased through them for free.

20 minutes after I called Google, got an email that a new phone would be shipped to me free of charge in a week.

I’ve said a few times now that all emotional pain comes when your expectation of reality doesn’t match reality.

I’ve also said that I’ve got no complaints. I’ve got my people, my pad, my poison, and my person.

Couldn’t really wish for much more.

Google Red Nexus 5 replacement

While writing this, UPS came by with my replacement phone. In less than 24 hours. Amazing.

———–

The following are charities that work in Ebola-afflicted countries and all have three or four stars from Charity Navigator. Skip your morning coffee, send them a fivver, and feel good about the rest of your day.

Location: NYC, where there’s no ebola
Mood: so grateful
Music: Hold on, hold on, we’ve got the lights dear
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Still waiting for my real life to begin

More funny, more smart

Me: I think I’m the more funny one.
Her: “More funny?” Well, you’re certainly not the “more smart” one of the two of us.

It’s been one of the coolest summers I can recall – which is a blessing for a guy like me.

But at the tail end, the heat decided to return and rear its ugly head. I’ve been moving at quarter speed since Friday.

Speaking of which, it was a holiday, hence my not posting the other day. Didn’t do much except for catch up on some personal reading and some work here and there.

I have friends that are constantly doing…stuff. They’re traveling places, seeing shows, having parties – doing stuff.

In the summer, even the cool one we just had, find it hard to motivate myself to be as active.

Suppose that’s why I can’t wait for fall to come, because I think I’m my real self. My year begins in September.

Which reminds me of something I wrote years ago; I’m 41 and still waiting for my real life to begin.

I wonder if one ever feels like it actually has.

Or will I wake up and old(er) man, blink, and realize I’ve missed it all?

Angel at Columbus Circle, NYC

Location: middle of my life
Mood: hopeful
Music: On a clear day I can see, see for a long way
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

The story of Tyre, Alexander, and the Elvis Barbershop

The Siege of Tyre and things that matter

Screen Shot of the Elvis Barbershop
Somewhere across the world, there’s a barbershop in Lebanon called the Elvis Barbershop. It’s located at the red marker you see above.

There’s nothing particularly interesting about the Elvis Barbershop except that I like its name – who names a barbershop “Elvis?”

It’s located in the city of Tyre, which is a peninsula off of the mainland.

Siege of Tyre.
Siege of Tyre. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But it wasn’t always a peninsula. It was an island for probably millions of years when Alexander the Great came by in 332 BC.

Alexander (Al, to his friends) had taken over much of the area and this was the last bit to be conquered. But the inhabitants of Tyre refused to surrender because they were an island fort with 200 ft (60 meter) walls.

And they were so arrogant that they tossed Alexander’s ambassadors over the walls to their deaths.

So Al filled in the land between the mainland and the island, pulled his weapons over, and laid siege to the island – now peninsula – for 70  days.

Afterward, he conquered the city-fortress and destroyed everything.

Fast-forward 2,400 years and there’s a fella in the world – presumably named Elvis – that has a barbershop on the ground that Alexander laid. An act only ancillary to Al’s main goal still affects the world to this day.

I’ve mentioned Alexander the Great in this blog and buncha times, mainly because he had such a profound effect on the world and how I look it.

Thought about all this because someone contacted me and said that something I wrote affected his life.

I think we all hope that the things we do have some lasting good effect far beyond ourselves.

The hope that somewhere in our wicked, wicked childhoods, we must have done something good that means something to someone.

Location: off to wrassle
Mood: thrilled
Music: nothing comes from nothing
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

It’s not just a piece of paper

Marriage is not just a piece of paper

Couple on boat on lake with balloons

Wife: Do you know what I want?
Me: World peace?
Her: No, nachos!

Some time ago, a buddy told me that he was (finally) getting married after living with his girlfriend for almost a decade.

When I asked him why, he reminded me that he had just come back from a vacation in Europe. Turns out he was involved in an argument with a local peddler.

Somehow, things spiraled from there and he ended up getting arrested.

But while locked up, his girlfriend wasn’t allowed to even visit him as she wasn’t a relative. She also wasn’t able to go back to the hotel to get his passport that day because she couldn’t prove she had a right to be in the room as he booked it with his hotel miles.

Only after the a day of waiting was she finally able to get in, get their passports, and clear up the matter.

Whenever someone says that “Marriage is just a piece of paper” I shake my head with disbelief. They’re only focusing on the emotional part of it – which I also don’t believe is true – and not on any of the legal and societal aspects.

Recently, just heard about another friend going through something similar here.

Marriage is a lot more than just a piece of paper. Even if you don’t think so, the rest of the world does.

Me: Look at it this way, now you two need a court order to break up.
Him: Is that a good thing?
Me: (laughing) It is in my case.

Location: start of a new work week
Mood: relaxed
Music: All on my own I don’t think that I’d have fared so well
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

You can’t be afraid if you laugh

If only something was enough

Old Fashioned with Rye

Met up with RE Mike the other night at a bar in midtown. Had myself an Old Fashioned with Rye and met some folks.

The usual summer swing.

Church in Manhattan

Lately, the press is all about Robin Williams’ suicide. There’s a number of a things going around that somehow glamorizes the whole notion of suicide in general, which bothers me no end.

Years ago, I wrote about a much less well-known comedian named Richard Jeni doing the same thing.

Felt then, as I feel now, what a colossal waste.

And the other time I wrote about suicide was with another comedian named Richard Gethard, who’s thankfully still alive.

I like Richard Gethard. I liked Richard Jeni. And I grew up watching Robin Williams – remember seeing him first appear as Mork on Happy Days back when it first came out. They made me laugh.

Stephen Colbert once said that, “If you are laughing, you can’t be afraid.” That’s one of the truest statements there are. I suppose that it’s why the people that have some of the saddest experiences laugh the hardest. It’s the only way they survive.

Sometimes, though, I think people just get tired of being afraid. And sometimes it’s not enough.

If I could have wished them something, woulda wished them something that was enough.

————-

Here’s a really good page on suicide, including the main question, “Are you thinking of committing suicide?”

Location: prepping for travel
Mood: disappointed
Music: Oh how can I survive? Will I make this drop this dive?
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

But that’s the actual nomenclature

Cold Ass Beer – Chug it

Cold Ass Beer - NYC Sign

Student: Did you just curse in class?
Me: I don’t consider “damn” and “ass” cursing. It’s more the hard K sounds I think…

In both the wrasslin gym I go to and my own fencing class, cursing is verboten. However, what constitutes cursing is different for different people.

There’s this move that is called by the creator of it S____y Rubber Guard. I mentioned that to someone in my class the other day and ended up doing pushups.

Coach: 40 pushups
Me: But that’s the actual nomenclature!
Coach: Do you want 50 pushups?
Me: I didn’t even want the first 40.

Still, I try not to curse casually, as you know.

Which reminds me that I’ve had a number of people read The Men Made of Stone recently that are surprised at just how much cursing there is in it.

I tell them that it’s the characters and not so me but I can see why they might be surprised.

Speaking of the book, I’ve gotten some more positive feedback that I’ll tell you about in the next few weeks or so.

On another note entirely, it’s getting hot as hell here. I could go for some cold ass beer.

Or rum. Either/or. Damn, it’s hot.

Location: behind a gate with a busted handle
Mood: hot
Music: Big kosher pickle and a cold draught beer
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

We love death more than you love life

At the very least, they’re honest about that

Polished concrete floor

A few years back, had to replace a large section of floor and was given a number of options like ceramic tile, wood, etc.

One guy suggested stained polished concrete, which we chose because of its versatility.

The guy that installed it said that he worked with concrete because it’s one of the oldest, strongest, more durable construction materials out there.

We stained it a leather brown, polished it to high gloss, and sealed it with wax. Everyone that comes by always asks about it.

It cost me about half of what it would have cost to put in anything else because, while the labor costs were the same or more (for the specialized knowledge), the raw material is just so cheap.

60 pounds of concrete costs $3.00 here in Manhattan. Three dollars.

And everything’s more expensive in Manhattan.

Recently, I’ve had a number of heated discussions with well-meaning but staggeringly ill-informed people regarding the current Israel/Gaza strife and lately, I’ve just been asking one question:

Where are the bomb shelters in Gaza?

There are at least 30 tunnels – at a cost of $30 million and  at least 1,780 rockets (all fired). Where are the bomb shelters?

There answer is that there are none. There is nothing to protect the people of Gaza by the ersatz government of Gaza because that’s not how Hamas sees the role of government.

But no one says it better than Hamas themselves:

We are a people that love death for the sake of Allah as much as our enemies love life.

That is their slogan. Their motto. Their trademark.

And the trademark lawyer in me cynically thinks, “Well, at the very least, they’re honest about that.”

Location: the interstate
Mood: cynical
Music: A spray of stars hit the screen As the 10th impact shimmered
Subscribe!
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.