What does religion mean?

Arguing your religion

Cathedral in Spain

While I’ve been pretty busy lately, I’ve not been so busy to avoid getting embroiled in religious arguments – online and off.

And I’ve gotten into no less than three just in the past 24 hours – mainly due to Pope Francis supporting evolution, which the Church as done since at least 1950.

Oddly, all three arguments have been with atheists. The thing is that they don’t understand the basic definition of the word, “religion.”

Is religion a belief in god?

No, because that would mean that religions like Taoism and Buddhism, which have no god, are not religions. Yet they are.

Religion is “an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.”

It’s how we organize the world for ourselves.

The reason why you get so annoyed with all those gun enthusiasts, staunch vegetarians, rabid animals righters, virulent Liberals/Conservatives, etc. is because you’re tired of having their religion shoved down your throat.

It’s how they see the world and they want – badly for some reason – for you to see it the same way.

In any case, atheists see the world and our role in it sans god. And that is absolutely fine with me.

But just like you probably don’t want to be harangued at the airport by (American) Christian fundamentalists, I don’t want want to asked to explain how I see the world as it relates to me while eating a late-night gyro.

Logically, there’s zero difference in those that utilize peer pressure and shame to put down a religion as there is to build one up. The core point is the same: see the world as I see it, or you are dammed/wrong/stupid, descended from apes, etc.

It’s this weird militant atheism that people seem to have that I find the most peculiar – like furiously sleeping. As if how I see the world affects them.

Some people just wanna eat a gyro in peace and I say, let them.

Him: You don’t really believe in god do you?
Me: Why does what I do in my head matter so much to you?

Location: work
Mood: wishing for a breakfast gyro
Music: can’t stop can’t stop, I’m still looking now
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King for a day

The Men Made of Stone Hit Number 1

The Men Made of Stone Vigilante Justice

Because of my work lifestyle, some weeks are quiet while others are ridonk busy. Last week was the latter.

Earlier in the week, my buddy Gilson Oliveira from Resilience Marketing gave me a ring and said he wanted to try a few things to market The Men Made of Stone; I said yes, since most of his ideas are pretty brilliant.

He said that Friday and Saturday would be interesting. Didn’t have too much time to really think about it.

Friday, I was up in the Bronx and then White Plains for clients and then stuck on the highway during rush hour. It wasn’t until late that night when I had a chance to check my personal emails.

And I was floored.

The Men Made of Stone Ranking

My book was the number one Noir Crime ebook – beating out Lawrence Block’s A Walk Among the Tombstones – as well as the number two Vigilante Justice book – not even ebook, just book.

It was all pretty amazing. Now the question is: What to do next?

Been fleshing out some more fiction in my head but I switched over to non-fiction, specifically dating, for a while with A Great First Date and A Great Online Dating Profile, only because there’s a ton of information for those topics I can cull from this blog.

Of course, I could also write about what I actually do professionally, which is what Gilson recommends.

I suppose writers just have to write. What the next thing will be, I’m not sure. Not yet, anyway.

Me: That’s amazing, you’re like a magician. How do you do it?
Him: (laughing) Well, it’s a good book. And if I’m a magician, you know I can’t tell you.

Location: the office, shortly
Mood: busy, busy, busy
Music: I’ve heard it said or maybe read
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Got rid of two bookshelves

Traveling and shredding

FujiRAWlg-00018

Wife: Now that it’s cooled down, maybe we should go somewhere.
Me: I liked you better when the summer sapped your will to live.

Last week, was all over the place again.

On Tuesday, headed to Inwood for a client meeting but they gave me the wrong address (!?) so I had to cab it out to The Bronx.

Then off to Queens, Long Island, back to Manhattan, out to New Jersey, and then a series of nondescript motels for the rest of the week. Pretty exhausting.

Did have a chance to see my parents, the in-laws, and some fish tacos at a Cheesecake Factory, though. So not a complete washout.

This week is just more work.

Fish Tacos at the Cheesecake Factory

Been trying to minimize the amount of paper/books I have so I’ve either been:

  1. buying ebook versions of my favorites and donating the physical versions to the guy that sells books on the sidewalks OR
  2.  heading over to Kinkos, cutting the spine off of them, and then scanning them into my computer to read on my tablet.

Must have done this for over 100 books in the past week.

Insomnia does have its (limited) benefits.

Her: Nice, you got rid of a whole bookshelf!
Me: (pointing to corner) Two. I got rid of two bookshelves.

Bookshelf

Location: back home, for now
Mood: busy
Music: Finally I’m where I want to be, I didn’t think this life was gonna be for me
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40th Weekend Conversations

Went to two 40th birthday parties

Mojitos in Jersey City

Three friends turned 40 over the weekend so there were three events on Saturday I had to go to. Only made it to two of them. My liver barely made it through the second one.

The memory card that had all the pics that I took didn’t make it at all.

I’m so bummed, I had some great shots. That is before everything turned very blurry.

Me: Happy 40th! It’s all downhill from here.
Him: Hey, thanks for coming!
Me: Of course I was coming.

The first one was with my buddy Rick, whom I’ve known since college. We met 21 years ago, a number I’m still having difficultly wrapping my head around.

His wife took out an entire half of the Experimental Cocktail Club, which was very cool. (Damn, I wish I had some pictures to show you). And she had an open bar, which was even cooler. But the coolest thing? Top shelf rum I’ve never had.

French Bartender: You’re a rum drinker? I’ve got something for you. It’s a French rum aged in cognac barrels.
Me: Can I drink it neat?
Him: (slightly offended) But of course!

Had much more than I should have. After some catching up with people I’d not seen in ages, dashed/stumbled off to the second joint.

That party was for the owner of Evolution Muay Thai, where another buddy Kung and The Ultimate Fighter contestant Angela Hill were. Angela told me some cool stories behind the scenes, none of which I can reprint here.

Hadn’t meant to stay quite as long as I did  but people – mostly Kung – kept buying me drinks.

Me: I can’t, I’m already snockered.
Him: (handing me drink) Too late – got you some rum.

Managed to get drinks spilled on me on me not once, not twice, but thrice.

Him: You’re going back to the bathroom!? You just came out!
Me: You just spilled on me again!
Him: Ooooh, my bad.

Had my revenge the next morning, though.

Me: How ya feeling? I had rum all night so I feel pretty good. RUM IS THE BEST. Sorry, I shouldn’t shout. What time did you call it a night?
Kung: 4 or so. Today is a lost day
Me: Ouch. Hopefully you can stay home and coffee it up.
Him: Oh yeah! I’m building a pillow fort.
Me: That’s why I build one the night before. It’s all about proper planning.
Him: Last night I was lucky to find my bed when I got home.
Me: Found bed, missed toilet. The wife will not be pleased when she returns.

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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Wondering about the burbs

Maybe someday I’ll move from here

Statue of couple in Riverside Park NYC
Last week was a bevy of activity because a tenant in my building found bedbugs in his unit.

Because I still manage the building, I was involved with the process every step of the way. That was annoying and a massive time suckage for me. So, despite having a number of meetings with clients and the usual workload, I kept having to run back home to handle hysterical owners and irritated tenants.

It’s enough to make me think of moving to the burbs – in fact, I dropped an email to my old college buddy who bought into the building with me years ago, but later moved out of the city.

He says he has no regrets.

Thankfully, the building’s bedbug situation was resolved fairly quickly so I was back in a New York (City) state of mind.

Still, we do talk about it, the wife and I. Maybe someday leaving the concrete jungle for some green grass and shade. But then we’d probably find ourselves with just each other. Which might not be a bad thing.

Me: Don’t be silly, I love everything about you.
Wife: Tell the truth.
Me: I love most things about you.
Her: There you go.

Location: a building without bedbugs
Mood: relieved
Music: folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood

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

There’s a food situation

Dinner at STK Downtown

Drinks at STK, Downtown
Got an invite to go to STK with my buddy Bridget and her husband so we met up with them downtown.

Me: I’ll need to prepare my stomach for all the meat it will be eating.
Bridget: I’m very excited for food!

Starters at STK, Downtown

The wife and I each had our own ideas on how to get to the restaurant after exiting the subway. We took my way, but the city gets crazy in the Meatpacking District and the streets make zero sense so we got turned around.

Me: Shoot, you were right, I should have listened to you.
Wife: You should always listen to the person wearing heels!

Bread at STK, Downtown

It actually ended up being perfect timing as we ran into Bridget and her husband right at the door to the restaurant.

Bridget: I have a gift for you too. (hands me a bottle of fine aged rum)
Me: Man, it’s like it’s my birthday!

Tuna at STK, Downtown

I told them about the last time I’d been in that part of the city. I was with Gio after he won a huge chunk of change in Atlantic City and we went to Blue Ribbon afterwards.

Me: Back when I was single, my friends knew that I never turned down an invitation. Especially one with a food situation.

Scallops at STK, Downtown

Bridget’s Husband: Do you gamble also?
Me: No, I just like there’s a food situation.

Poterhouse Steak at STK, Downtown

Ice Cream at STK

Location: my desk
Mood: stuffed
Music: Underneath the copper wires and the floorboards that creek
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First thing you do, buy yourself a whoopee cushion…

The Lighthouse and the Whaler

Bryant Park, NYC in Summertime
Met up with my boss and my buddy Johnny at The William the other night. We had some business to discuss.

Me: We’ve known each other 20 years. This may be the first time we’re working together.
Johnny: You’re the only person left I trust. I couldn’t let money come between us.
Me: That’s the thing. Money’s not my primary purpose. I’m interested in things money can’t buy.
Him: Wait two years. I gotta settle a few things.
Me: I know. It’s been 20 years. I can wait two more.


The weekend was hot so my computer kept crashing.

So I put on some tunes – like Venice by The Lighthouse and the Whaler – pulled it apart, and isolated the problem to a faulty fan.

While I was in there, attempted to swap out the CPU but that didn’t work because I didn’t have the right parts.

Still, was pretty proud that I still knew how to troubleshoot technology; I used to build networks and computer professionally before I became a lawyer.

Me: (to wife) I figure if everything goes to hell, I could always go back and be a computer guy. The only question would be how to start getting rid of my most annoying clients.
Her: First thing you do, buy yourself a whoopee cushion…

Location: Fall in NYC, I think
Mood: ambitious
Music: I have seen all the feeling and the rains
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Mussels at Bistro Citron

Taking off our comfortable selves for a night

Bistro Citron in the UWS

Her: We should go on a date.
Me: OK.

It’s funny, when two people are actually dating, there’s some excitement as we prep that version of ourselves. But after you get married, you both see less and less of that version of the other person. That’s just how it goes.

So every once in a while, you have to make plans to dust off that version of yourself.

Me: (looking at wife) Whoa, hello there pretty lady…
Her: It feels nice to get dressed up once in a while.

Burger at Bistro Citron in the UWS

We went to a place called Bistro Citron around the way that got great Yelp reviews. We ordered the mussels, a medium rare burger for me, and a Frisée Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs for her.

We got the mussels first and, I’m no slouch when it comes to eating, but the mussels did me in. The serving size was ginormous.

Me: I don’t know if I can finish that.
Her: Really?!

We tend to eat early to have the joint to ourselves. It was like we were dating again.

A few drinks later and we were on our way home and back in our comfortable faces and our comfortable clothes within the hour.

Her: We need to do this more often.
Me: I would go back tomorrow.

Mussels at Bistro Citron in the UWS

Location: off to wrassle
Mood: nostalgic
Music: These old wings just gotta be good for something
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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
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