What’s the margin of error?

I try and have a scheduled life to avoid things like this

Me: (holding stomach) Just wanna let you know, there’s a 35-40% chance I’m going to be sick on you.
Him: What’s the margin of error?
Me: 5%.
Him: That’s still less than 50%. I’ll take my chances!

With how my schedule is involved, most days I have to eat and drink at very specific times. In the mornings, I have something at 8:30AM, again at 10AM and then not again until 3PM.

The reason for the gap is that I try to hit the gym three days a week in the middle of the day while also trying not to have something in my mouth or hand while I’m talking to clients during the other hours.

Every once in a while, I’ll have a long winded client or something that makes me miss my window. The other day, I missed it, but also already had a huge mess of bacon and eggs. So I downed it all with strong coffee and hit the gym.

Ultimately, nothing ended up happening although there were times I came close.

Vigorous exercise, the smell of dude in a sweaty gym, the heat, plus that breakfast was … ill-advised.

And I regularly work with the same guy so he, unfortunately has to deal with all my little eccentricities.

Me: Did you just buy that shirt?
Him: Yeah, I forgot to bring another clean shirt with me today and I know how you are about that kind of stuff.
Me: God, thank you.

Location: finishing up breakfast two
Mood: tired of summer
Music: Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
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Accomplishment is fish in the freezer and going paperless

Had, what I consider to be, a productive weekend

Him: Are you around? I went fishing this weekend. How much stripped bass do you want?
Me: Sweeeeeet!
Him: Want to meet me in front of MSG near the taxi stand around 4?

Went down to Madison Square Garden this past Sunday, fighting off tourists, and met up with my buddy Steele for what could easily have passed for cocaine transaction but instead involved striped bass. We chatted about lakes and rivers, exchange some advice, he told me about https://www.reelchase.com and then I was on my way.

As I stood in front of the queue for taxis and watched people come and go with their luggage I thought it pretty funny that I was probably the only one there for a fish-related transaction.

Well, it is NYC, I could be wrong. You never know.

As for the rest of my weekend, when the guy came to fix the radiator last week, realized that I have boxes and boxes of old files and books still.

So I I bought this scanner and went to town on them.

In all, I filled three 30 gallon recycling bags full of paper.

Now I’ve got fresh fish in the freezer and 90 gallons less paper in the house. Not quite paperless but close.

A pretty good weekend if you ask me.

You may disagree but when you turn 40, these are big accomplishments. Big.

Location: in a room with -90 gallons of paper
Mood: accomplished
Music: But I know my lines and my graphs and my math
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Good is the enemy of Great

Sometimes I wonder if I’m settling for my good life

Was driving the other day when I saw the food cart above. We have these tiny little cafe carts all over Manhattan in the mornings from 7AM to about 11AM that sell coffee and breads – like croissants, donuts, and muffins.

In any case, this enterprising fella took it a step further by offering office work. If you can’t read the sign, I’ve blown it up for you below.

It reads, “Photo Copy” – evidently he’s a one-stop shop for all things coffee, biscuit, and Xerox.

While it’s funny, I’m not mocking him. I always respect the people that dream bigger than the fish bowl they’ve been given.

After all, it’s why I like aged rum. It’s the little things we do have big impact in our lives.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if all my drive has left me. I used to have all these grand plans but my life is quite good. But, as Jim Collins put it in Good to Great:

Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.

As for me, sometimes I wonder if I’m settling for my good life.

Suppose the fact that I’m sleeping regularly for the first time in a while is a major reason why I’m not sure I should even want more out of life.

Everything has a price tag. It’s all about what you’re willing to pay.

Location: waiting for the summer heat to return
Mood: anxious
Music: Slow down my beating heart, a man dreams one day to fly
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Woodwork and a stay in Manhattan

We’ll take any excuse for a staycation

Had some carpenters come into the pad to fix some flooring. They were supposed to come at 8:30 on Saturday but instead they showed up at 11:30.

That’s the thing with a lot of service people; they’re very flaky. I find that if they’re very responsive, I’m their customer for life.

Having said that, they did a seriously bang-up job on the floors. Essentially, part of it was damaged a long time ago by a previous occupant. They came in, tore up that entire section, replaced the wood, and stained/sealed it so that it looks exactly like the old wood.

Because we weren’t really sure that they’d get it all done in a day, the wife and I booked a hotel a few blocks south of us called On the Avenue.

Turned out that we didn’t need to stay there since the work was done so quickly but we like being tourists in our own city neighborhood. We had an early dinner at Serafina, an early night at the hotel and were back at home with our need wood floors the next day.

And more pizza the next day to boot.

Her: Oh, did you put that slice of pizza into the oven for me?
Me: (pause) Yes?
Her: (suspicious) Really?
Me: (pause) Yes?

When I’m hungry, common sense is the first thing to go.

Location: waiting for the summer heat to return
Mood: anxious
Music: everybody’s gotta get there somehow and I won’t wait
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Remembering the Northeast Blackout of 2003

10 years since the East Coast Blackout

Me: Today’s the 10 year anniversary of the 2003 East Coast Blackout.
Her: Really? Wow. 10 years. Time goes by so fast.

I remember what I was doing that day/night well since it happened just under a year since the 9/11 attacks.

Was actually in a real estate closing when I realized that I was missing a check. So I made a mad dash to my office to get it.

On the train ride back to the meeting, the train got stuck in the tunnel. Was already panicked as this was only my third real estate closing so I remember that when the AC shut off in the subway car, I was already a sweaty mess. I also remember the subway car windows steaming up because of the humidity.

Hours later, the car doors opened in the middle of the tunnel and we worked our way in the dark to the station – we used our mobile phones for light. When I finally got out, I was a mile or so from the closing so I ran there with the check.

Was so absorbed in getting to the meeting that I barely noticed that there were no lights.

Arriving, I banged the door repeatedly when the building manager finally came and opened the door. “I’m…here…for the closing. Checks.” I said, breathlessly.

People walking in New York City during the bla...
People walking in New York City during the blackout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Closing?” he said, “There’s a ___ing blackout. There’s no closing.” And the slammed the door in my face. Only then did I look up and think, Well, that’s weird.

Eventually, I made it over to Rain’s apartment where we ended up BBQing on his roof since his fridge was stocked. I remember sitting on his roof ledge in a rumpled suit, dirty from my tunnel run.

Hours later in the dark, finally managed to grab a $80 cab ride back to my pad. We went at like three miles an hour up to the Upper West Side because of all the pedestrians and lack of light.

When I got home, found my sister waiting for me since she couldn’t make it to her home. Back then I had a car so I lent it to a buddy to go check up on his mom in Philly. End up eating everything out of my fridge for a late dinner.

Two things happened that day:

  1. I have a checklist for closings now so I never forget another check.
  2. Got this here story to tell people now.

All education’s expensive. Some, though, come with worthwhile memories.

Location: enjoying the strangely cool August weather at my desk
Mood: nostalgic
Music: It’s been a long night in New York City
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Waiting for the chime that tells me to get back to work

Either insanely busy or not-at-all and little in-between

Her: Do you want some ice cream?
Me: Nah, I’m good. (five minutes later) Actually, that looks pretty good, can I have a few bites of your…
Her: Touch it and I’ll kick you in the face.

Finished up with this massive project last week so I’ve had a bit of downtime again.

With how my work is structured, I’m usually either insanely busy or not at all. There’s scant in-between.

I’m also at a age/position in my work life where I don’t actually have to show up anywhere as long as the work’s done. It’s a plus of being 40, I suppose.

Because of that, it takes me a little while to get used to having time to myself; feel almost guilty that I’m not doing something work related.

But then as I finally get used to downtime, I’ll get an email from a client that goes, Logan! Hey, I have a question for you.

Still, for the next three days at least, my plans are meeting up with a friend for drinks, working on some rapier/dagger fencing, some wrasslin, and a stack of magazines.

All the while, I’m listening for that sound that my computer makes when that email inevitably comes in telling me to get back to work.


Location: my apartment, waiting for it
Mood: rested
Music: Maggie advances to the final. Who knew that she had the goods?
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More than the applause of the multitude

The respect of those you respect is worth more than the applause of the multitude

I write mainly because I have things in my head that I need to put somewhere.

But the reason I write publicly is because of three people: Mrs. Meltzer, Dr. Shapiro, and Stewart O’Nan.

The first two were my grade school and high school English teachers. They thought I was good but considering that my classmates weren’t exactly Hemingway, this was flattering but only so much so.

Stewart O’Nan was my college English teacher and he said I was good also – not great, but good. That meant a little more. But it wasn’t until I saw him on talk shows and read book reviews from him it became a source of pride for me.

Stewart O'Nan Read
Stewart O’Nan (Photo credit: Literary Gal)

I’d tell everyone. Like I’m telling you now.

Perhaps he said it to all his students. I like to think he just said it to me.

This fellow named Arnold Glasow once said that The respect of those you respect is worth more than the applause of the multitude.

Man, isn’t that the truth?

On a related note, my wrasslin coach Rene invented and perfected a move called The Rat Guard. It’s the go-to move in our gym.

And this absolutely brilliant and eccentric coach named Eddie Bravo actually made note of it – and my coach – recently on his podcast. Eddie Bravo’s a guy that changed everything about the game of fighting and mixed-martial arts. In fact, in my coach’s video below, which he did years ago, he specifically mentions him by name.

I’ve won a number of awards in my life and have done many things of which I am proud.

But the throwaway line O’Nan said to me as he hurriedly grabbed his stuff and ran out the door 22 years ago at the close of the year, is perhaps one of my most cherished.

It works in reverse too, doesn’t it?

Everyone may say that you’re the best at this or great at that, but if the one person that you value more than all the others says something unkind, the rest falls on deaf ears.

When parents say something to a child that’s cruel, it cuts the deepest.

That’s when you remind yourself that someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.

Signal versus noise; it’s always signal versus noise.

Location: back from the gym
Mood: proud
Music: there’s certain things in life you cannot change
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Goodbye Big Nick’s, you’ll be missed

Change is the only constant in life

I first moved into my neighborhood 17 years ago.

Back then it was kinda dive-y but I was younger and stupider then. Back then, the legendary P&G Bar – which you might know from the Runaway Bride or any number of other films – and the Yogi’s Bar were typical for the neighborhood.

Al Pachino’s Needle Park took place just a few blocks from my doorstep and the film the Warriors had shots all over my hood including the 95th Street Station exterior shots.

The Panic in Needle Park
The Panic in Needle Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Trump moved into the area and fixed up the pier and they installed the new subway station at West 73rd Street, the place really took off.

As you know, I don’t lament the passing of old New York all that much; after all, no one that was born poor wants to stay poor.

But last week, my old haunt, Big Nicks closed. Their menu was as big as a book and if you wanted a bagel, slice of pizza, foot-long hotdog, and a side of gyro with chili at 2:34 AM, they had it. With a Fosters beer, for some strange reason.

As an insomniac, wrote a lot of stuff there; a lot of The Men Made of Stone was done in front of greasy plates there.

That leaves me with two dive bars left in the UWS.

There’s this poem in Chinese I like that goes:

shao xiao li jia lao da hui, xiang yin wu gai bin mao shuai.
er tong xiang jian bu xiang shi ,xiao wen ke cong he chu lai.
少 小 离 家 老 大 回, 乡 音 无 改 鬓 毛 衰.
儿 童 相 见 不 相 识, 笑 问 客 从 何 处 来?

Basically, this dude leaves his hometown and comes back an old man for the first time in decades. He sees children playing and laughing – like he did with his childhood friends – but they’re not him, and they’re not his friends.

But they’re just like him and them when they were kids.

And they call out to him: Hello stranger! And it’s nostalgic and sad in the sense that he’s now a stranger in his own hometown – it doesn’t recognize him and he doesn’t recognize it.

I think one day I’ll leave here and everything will have changed and be like I remember it, but not.

Suppose that’s true anywhere.

More practically: Dammit, there’s no place else now to get a bagel, slice of pizza, foot-long hotdog, a side of gyro,  with chili and a Fosters Beer at 2:34 AM.

I wish some things stayed the same.

Not all. Just some.

In other news, went to see the folks last night. It looked and felt like spring.

Location: the UWS that’s changing too fast for me
Mood: busy
Music: Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
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