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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The Call of the Void

Marley’s Chains

Co-Worker: I thought you were afraid of heights.
Me: I am. Kinda.
Her: Well, you seem fine.
Me: I hide it well.

I’m afraid of heights.

But not in the way you might imagine. There’s particular type of suicidal thought called the “Call of the Void” where, at a very high height, some people feel an incredible urge to jump, even though they don’t wanna.

It’s part of the original siren’s song.

When I was younger, I avoided open heights on the reg because the urge was so strong. It’s part of why I lived in basements and ground floors for essentially my entire life.

This fella named Rudolf Diesel invented the, well, diesel engine. But, he was so convinced that it would be failure that he killed himself. He jumped from a ship into the sea, unable to resist his siren’s song.

Not soon after he killed himself, his engine became the standard of Europe and of most of the trucks here in the US. If only he ignored the song for just a little bit longer.

I’m not – at all – suicidal right now. But I remember hearing my siren’s song a lot, throughout the years. It was partly Diesel’s story that kept me from jumping.

The idea that, maybe it’ll be somehow  ok if I hold out for just a little bit longer, keeps me going.

I bring this up because I saw a buddy recently and he was in a funk.

Him: It was like the start of a depression. But, not depression.
Me: I call that “bummed.” It’s a feeling of general boredom, sadness, and hopelessness all in one. I feel it too. You have to be careful it doesn’t snowball into a full depression.
Him: Yeah. I feel it.

Funny, I always feel it, like Jacob Marley’s chains.

Link by link, and yard by yard…

Podcast Link
Location: outside, feeling the sun on my face, if just for a bit
Mood: So. Damn. Hot.
Music: It’s like a part of me must love it (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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Batman, rabbits, deer…

…and bright red leather jackets

Chuck: Nice (bright red leather) jacket.
Me: Oh, thanks. I had it made years ago. Finally started wearing it again.
Him: Do they make it for men?
Me: Evidently not!

Batman was once asked why he wore a bright yellow bat on his chest.

The lawyer in me knows it was done for trademark reasons but the writers came up with a rather ingenious reason; because criminals would aim for his protected chest rather than his unprotected head.

That’s something straight outta nature.

If you look at some rabbits and deer, they have bright, white tails. So, when they’re chased by predators, they’re easily seen and chased.

That is, until they turn. Then the pursuer loses sight of the bright white tracker and, by extension, the prey.

Told a buddy of mine recently that a large part of life is separating signal from noise. What’s important and what’s merely misdirection?

I think I’ve been paying attention to distractions more than anything for the past while.

But, since I’ve recovered from COVID, it’s like someone turned up the volume and brightness on my life again because I see things so much more clearly than before.

On the flip side, as I see things more clearly, I miss the boy all that much more.

Oh, he graduated this week from Pre4K! It was far more emotional for me than I’d expected.

Which, I suppose, I should’ve expected.

Son: Will you come see me? I miss you.
Me: Then I’ll see you soon. I just can’t rent a car right now.
Him: You could take a train. Or get a ride with Auntie. I know! You could take a bus.
Me: (laughing) Don’t worry, I’ll get to you. Papa’ll find a way.

Oh, Chad and I have a new Scenic Fights Video up – this time, Chad’s breaking down the Jiu Jitsu in Donnie Yen’s Special ID.

Podcast Version
Location: home, looking up train schedules
Mood: homesick
Music: doesn’t matter how you get to me, just get to me (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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There’re only two types of people in the world

Hoi polloi

Podcast Version

Assuming, arguendo, that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, who are you spending your 27,000 days with?

If that’s too complex a question, then who are you spending quarantine with?

Are they wildly successful, dangerous, hyper-intelligent people? Or the regular hoi polloi? There’s nuthin wrong with average people, per se, except that average people tend to just make you average.

Who you spend time with is why you sit where you sit and someone else sits where they sit.

Ideally, you want to be able to sit at any table you want.

Years ago, I realized that I was hanging out with people that weren’t going anywhere with their lives. Most were fine, they were looking to get into some middle-level white collar job, make six-figures in some name-brand firm, and provide a good life for themselves and their kids.

Nuthin wrong with that.

But, at the time, I wanted to be amazing. And I took a hard look at the people that I spent the most amount of time with. I wanted:

      • friends that were wildly successful, physically (Health)
      • friends that were wildly successful, financially (Wealth)
      • friends that were wildly successful, socially (Relationships)

So, I got rid of the dead weight and added on people that could help me be who I knew I could be.

The thing is, I genuinely like and appreciate alla these friends. But, you gotta care about someone, why not have it be someone that’s at the top of their game?

Pac joked once that I have a need to be a mentor and that’s not wholly accurate. What I have is an internal desire for equity; to wit, I feel a need to pay it forward.

Chad’s been coming by lately and teaching me BJJ; in return for a much lower hourly rate, I help him understand finances.

Me: …and that’s compound investing.
Him: (quiet) Wow. I never knew that. I’m blown away.
Me: (nodding) To paraphrase Denzel: There’re only two types of people in the world. The trained and the untrained. Be trained.

I met someone else, who lives in the middle of nowhere Brooklyn, recently whom I teach more general things about relationships and health.

Me: Try to eat mainly protein, fat, and fiber and stay outta the sun.
Her: Why?
Me: Do you know Shaquille O’Neal?
Her: Of course, why?
Me: He’s one year older than I am. I’m 47.
Her: (surprised)
Me: (nodding) Try to eat mainly protein, fat, and fiber and stay outta the sun. Here’s a vocabulary book I read as a kid. It’ll help you with your career when the world starts again.

Podcast Version
Location: Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn
Mood: ambitious
Music: Don’t want to sing mad songs anymore (Spotify)
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