IOQ: Indicators of Quality

Zippers, Steak, or Chicken?

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet. Mouse started a new job so, even over the weekend, she was busy with one thing or another. Still, we did have a pretty nice weekend until she had to head back home.

Nice being a relative term.

Her: I was looking through some of our chats and…we sound psychotic.
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Because in between texts, I guess we end up seeing or talking to each other. Like, one set of texts is like, “I hate you, I never want to talk to you ever again!” and the next is like, “Do you want steak or chicken for dinner?”
Me: Did we decide on steak of chicken?

A buddy of mine is looking to upgrade his wardrobe over Black Friday and I told him that, while I do have the occasional name-brand product, I almost never purchase anything based on names.

Instead, I look for (a) clothes that fit me well that are (b) made of quality materials. I told him that I figure out the latter through indicators of quality.

Stupidly simple, just like my three-step life algorithm, but you’d be surprised how many people mess this up too.

For example, whenever I buy clothes that have zippers on them, I look for YKK zippers. This is because YKK makes really, really good zippers that cost more than regular zippers.

So when I see two things that I like equally well, but one has a YKK zipper, I usually end up buying the YKK one.

See, I figure that, if a company cares enough to use higher quality zippers, they probably care about the details like stitching and fabric weave. It’s the little things that matter to me.

Cause it’s the little things that are indicators of quality.

Ditto for shoes. I look for full- or top-grain “leather uppers,” which are essentially real leather shoes, versus “man-made uppers,” which are basically plastic shoes. The brand rarely makes a difference to me.

My sneakers are almost always cloth so I can toss them in the washer on the reg. I can’t remember the last time I spent more than $30 for a pair of sneakers.

Someone just stopped me the other day to ask me where I got my powder blue ones from. I told him, honestly, on eBay.

The most expensive things I wear on the regular – I rarely wear my suits anymore – are my three no-name but bespoke leather jackets.

I picked the lining, the leather, and the color for alla them. Most importantly, for me, is that the sleeves and waist are tailored because I’ve got a pretty slim waist (pro) and short T-Rex arms (con).

And the one I like the most is my red one because it has white pick stitching.

Nobody notices this kinda stuff, but I do.

That’s the thing: As I get older, I find myself caring a lot less about things that other people notice and a lot more about things that I notice.

Man, I’m so bummed I ripped the sleeve on it.

Speaking of noticing things…

Me: Your hair is crazy!
Mouse: Yeah, it’s crazy like the 80s so it must remind you of your childhood.
Me: It kinda does.

Location: home, trying to get my apartment above 30% humidity
Mood: excited to see my son
Music: In her eyes I see the sea (Spotify)
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You get to decide

World Class

For the handful of readers that’ve been reading me since the beginning, I started this blog because I was dating this fairly well-known reporter and we broke up.

I thought I loved her, the way 20-somethings think love is like.

We had moments when I thought we might get back together but it wasn’t really what either of us really wanted. It wasn’t really her fault, I wasn’t a great boyfriend to her.

The ex, back when I was young and had a lotta hair.

I wanted Alison and I spent the next two years looking for her. When I met her, I was a lot nicer to her than the reporter because she was what I actually wanted.

Alison was everything I ever really wanted, actually. But that’s neither here nor there.

I mentioned to a friend that Jeff Bezos went to Princeton to study theoretical physics. The problem was that he was good at it.

Just like I was a good boyfriend to the reporter. I just wasn’t a great boyfriend to her. And Jeff Bezos wasn’t a great theoretical physicist.

The day Jeff Bezos realized that he was only ever going to be a good theoretical physicist was the day he started to become something great.

Asked another friend if he recognized anyone from the that picture you see above.

Him: Not really.
Me: Look at the fella in the middle. In the red sequins. That’s Dr. Dre.
Him: Holy shit!

Dr. Dre was part of a boy band called World Class Wreckin’ Cru (along with DJ Yella) and they sang funk. But WCWC was only ever going to ok – good-enough.

And Dre wanted to be great. He’s almost a billionaire right now. Even if you didn’t like NWA, or The Chronic, you probably like Beats headphones.

I told two people today that their setbacks might be setting them up for what they were really meant to be. Who they were really meant to be.

After all, you can’t shoot an arrow unless you draw it back first.

Alison’s favourite author was F. Scott Fitzgerald who once said: There are no second acts in American lives.

I always loved Alison and always hated Fitzgerald. Onea the reasons is that quote, which is fulla shit.

Him: I’ve been thinking a lot about who I used to be and I don’t want to be that guy anyone. I don’t think I can be.
Me: Good. This is your chance to be the person you know you can be. You get to decide what your life is like.

I only got to live the life I always wanted for five days.

But, I suppose that there are people out there that didn’t even get that.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Podcast Version
Location: early this morning, having some rum with my coffee
Mood: not well
Music: On silver stars I wish and wish and wish (Spotify)

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The unexamined life

Building walls

Back when I was still focused on Alison, there was a young man named Rich who was just enamored with Trump.

Him: He wants to build a wall, protect the workers here.
Me: But most people don’t come into the US in a way where a wall would work.

It turns out that, the wall had been conceived by two consultants “to get Trump to remember to talk about immigration.”

Put another way, it wasn’t meant to ever be a literal thing, it was just meant as a shorthand to keep someone as jawdroppingly stupid as Trump on the right page to have something to talk about with immigration.

But he took it and ran with it.

Even though it didn’t make any sense. Even thought it didn’t do what it was ostensibly meant to do – keep out immigrants – it did what it was really meant to do, which was keep Trump talking about immigration.

You’ll note that he never mentions it or the wall anymore. But I digress.

I got into a FB tiff with a friend because I told her that rent regulation didn’t work. Because it doesn’t.

Do you know why rent regulation was invented? It was invented to stop an emergency: To keep WWII veterans from coming back and getting price gouged.

That was the emergency.

Do you know of any other 75-year-old emergencies? Kinda really stretches the concept of an “emergency,” yeah?

Rent regulation goes against basic economic principles: If you take away 45% of the supply – NYC is roughly 45% rent-regulated – then the remaining 55% becomes astronomically high. It makes it so that the people lucky enough to get it, get cheap rent, while everyone else subsidizes them.

After all, non-market income doesn’t change the fact that everything else – utilities, taxes, mortgages – is a market expense.

Study after study shows that rent regulation doesn’t work.

Just like study after study shows the wall won’t work.

I mentioned this and she wrote back, “So, you just want to fuck the poor, Logan?”

Rich, when I told him the wall won’t work said, “So, you just want to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals?”

I said once that I live by some basic rules: Is it true? seems like such a stupid one.

And yet, it’s the one that people mess up the most, I think.

My female friend wants to believe that rent regulation works and if I don’t believe that, I must want to “fuck the poor.”

Rich wants to believe that the wall works, and if I don’t believe that, I must want “to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals.”

Funny thing is that they both defriended me.

That’s what happens if you don’t ask yourself that simple basic question: Is it true?

The less you ask that question, the more you find things that are actually true, repulsive.

The truth becomes grotesque.

When you live an unexamined life, you start becoming part of the world’s problems.

You build walls, to protect the comforting untrue things from the repulsive true things. And people just become another ugly thing you don’t want to see.

Eh, I don’t blame them.

I find myself grotesque and I’d defriend me too if I had the chance.

Podcast Version
Location: still in this fucking house
Mood: homesick
Music: I was just guessing at numbers and figures (Spotify)

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All the Wrong Ghosts

Keys

Johnny called me the other day. I didn’t pick up.

I called the Devil the other day. He didn’t pick up.

All the wrong ghosts haunt me.

Movie: “You have 212 more supplicants to see you.”
Me: (to wife) That’s why we have judges – they act on the king’s behalf because the king couldn’t possib…
Alison: I have to write down everything you tell me while watching movies and television and call it, Stuff my husband tells me during movies and television.

Did you ever wonder why “movie trailers,” are called that, even though they come before the movie?

Or why the Three Musketeers candy bar is called that, when it’s one single bar?

The former is because the trailer used to trail the main film but no one stuck around to watch them, so they switched it.

The latter’s because it used to be three different candy bars – chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry – until just after WWII when it cost too much to make all three flavours.

The thing is that these things just stick around, long after they make any sense to anyone.

In this post, I wrote about putting up a key holder for Alison and me. I never put up a picture of it because I was worried about someone being able to duplicate our keys from the picture so I never did.

But, after the gate incident with Pac, I replaced my locks, so it’s a moot point.

I took that picture up above with Alison on June 6, 2014 and told her that her spot would always be the first hook.

She hung up her keys at the end of October, 2015 and never took them down again. They’re still there now. If you ever come over, those are her keys.

I never touch them.

I always tell myself that this is the year I’ll take them down but I can’t bring myself to do it. Which makes no sense, I know.

But, neither do trailers or single chocolate bars called Three Musketeers.

It’ll be November soon. I’ll be drinking again then.

Who am I kidding? I’ve already started. Because.

Podcast Version
Location: this fucking house
Mood: not good
Music: Tell me you love me, come back and haunt me (Spotify)

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A Kettle of Hawks

Predators versus Prey

The last time I went to see the boy, there were these huge birds of prey in the back yard picking at the carcass of a deer.

Mother-in-law: City boy, you should go out and take a look.

So, off I went with my son.

I told the boy to be quiet so as not to scare off the kettle of hawks that were all around it. He obliged, in a manner of speaking – he was silent but also ran about like a madman so the birds flew off to nearby branches.

Presently, I brought the boy back in and went in for a closer look. I managed to see a bit more but they flew off nonetheless. It smelled like death.

When I went back in, my sister-in-law asked me if I saw anything.

Me: Not really, I think I scared them off.
Her: I wonder if they thought you were were hunting them.
Me: Probably, I have the eyes of a predator.
Her: What does that mean?
Me: All humans do. Our eyes are in front of us, so we can pinpoint things and hunt them down. Prey – deer, rabbits, etc – they have their eyes on the side of the heads so they can see animals like us coming.

Part of the reason I never mentioned the knife stuff – beyond calling it “fencing,” all this time, which isn’t strictly incorrect – was because most people are far removed from what we actually are: Animals.

Clothed animals, but animals nonetheless.

We’re predators. We’re meant to stalk and hunt things. That’s what we were created for. It’s neither a good nor a bad thing, it’s merely a thing.

Just like where our eyes are. We don’t think about it much – you probably never have – it’s just where they are.

Me: Guard up, boy.
Son: Do I have to?
Me: Yes.
Him: Why?
Me: Because this is what we do. Guard up.

And yet, I wonder what would happen if we had to be predators again? Some of us would do fine, I think. Most of us would struggle.

Although, truth be told, I honestly don’t know know how I would do if I had to fend completely for myself, for myriad reasons.

Me: Ouch!
Mouse: You stubbed your toe again?!
Me: (nodding in pain)
Her: Man, when you’re a klutz, you get hurt. When I’m a klutz, you get hurt…
Me: Still…can’t…talk…

Speaking of knife stuff, here’s the latest episode of Scenic Fights, Fight Scene Breakdown – the duel scene from The Man from Nowhere.

Podcast Version
Location: staying away from my damnable coffee table that’s trying to kill me
Mood: only ok
Music: just send me that ambulance (Spotify)

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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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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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