A Non-Linear System

Checking in

One of my oldest and dearest friends called me the other day.

Me: What’s up? How’ve you been?
Him: (laughing) OK. I heard about your uncle and your anniversary and I wanted to check in on you.
Me: Thanks man, it’s been a rough few weeks.
Him: I know, that’s why I’m calling. (later) I should mention that I was in the ER two weeks ago. They’re still not 100% what happened but I was there for five days.
Me: Holy shitballs, what happened?
Him: I was feeling pain in my stomach like crazy so I went to the ER and told the attendant that I was in a tremendous amount of pain. Like a 7 or 8. He said, “You don’t look like you’re in a lot of pain.”
Me: What did you say?
Him: I told him, “That’s cause I’m not a whiney-ass bitch.”
Me: (laughing) Yeah, that sounds like you.

A large dose of antibiotics cleared him out enough that they didn’t have to cut him open. But he’s gotta go back for more tests.

Him: I didn’t wanna tell you because…
Me: Dude, the past two weeks, I was a whiney-ass bitch. It’s good you didn’t tell me. I absolutely wouldn’t have handled it well.
Him: (quietly) Then I’m glad I didn’t tell you.

He’s been through his own stuff. He’s one of the people that I told you lost his mother recently. He understands grief.

Me: The fucked up thing is that, unlike most people, I understand that life is a non-linear system. I get that. Bad things happen and the life you expect isn’t promised you. But…I never expected my life – and Alison’s – to be quite so non-linear.
Him: It is a non-linear system, yeah. But we have some things like our family and good friends.
Me: You know, if there is a god, he fucking hates us. Or maybe he’s just a racist asshole.
Him: (laughing) Maybe, Logan. Maybe.

Location: today, walking with a friend in the sun, looking for Joe
Mood: non-linear
Music: ah shit, am I winner yet? (Spotify)
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Liquid Paper, Trump, and talking fish

How do you tell a fish that it’s wet?

Boy: Add that, add that! (points)
Me: Which song?
Him: I’m a Believer. Oh, click the “Remastered” one.

The boy’s been home for a few weeks now and we’ve kinda gotten into a rhythm, although it still leaves a good deal to be desired.

On thing that I realize as a parent is just how different his life will be from mine, growing up.

I had the most random thought today when we were listening to Spotify; he asked me to put on I’m a Believer, which made me think of the Monkees, which made me think of Liquid Paper.

See, Liquid Paper was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham, the mother of Monkee, Michael Nesmith.

Now, for those of you too young to know what I’m talking about, Liquid paper was essentially a small bottle of white paint – legit – that you used to paint over a mistake you made while typing something.

As I write this out, I realize how crazy that must sound to the Twitter generation but there you go.

And that’s kinda the point of this entry: How to even begin to explain things to people that need a ton of background information to even start to understand?

I mentioned this to a buddy the other day.

Me: It’s like trying to explain to a fish that it’s wet.
Him: What do you mean?
Me: Think about what that would be like. You have to first explain the existence of water – because he has no clue such a thing exists, it’s like explaining oxygen to a caveman – then you have to explain dryness, land, the earth, it goes on…

Here, I’d have to explain paint, typewriters, ink, letters, etc – all before I got to Liquid Paper.

Which brings me to a final point. I, stupidly, got into an online argument with a Trump supporter from my old church right when Trump got elected.

He was a nice enough fella but his ignorance was so profound that I found myself defriending him because I couldn’t figure out where to even begin explaining how little he understood about the nature of the world.

And now that Trump’s finally leaving office, I find myself sheepishly relieved that I don’t have to face the jaw-dropping stupidity and malice I had to deal with on a daily basis for the past four years.

I just have to explain to the kid how the world works.

Which I’m not even sure I can.

Him: Why did John Lennon die?
Me: Someone killed him.
Him: Why?
Me: I don’t know.
Him: Why did mommy die?
Me: I don’t know that either. There are some things, we can’t know.
Him: Why not?
Me: Let’s have lunch. Grilled cheese?
Him: Yes!
Me: Done.

Location: home, grilling up a cheese sandwich and trying to understand
Mood: unsettled
Music: I couldn’t leave her if I tried (Spotify)
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For serious, how did you not know?

An old modern fable

About a dozen years ago, I told you a story about a frog that met a snake. I friend told me years later that he heard a similar story but it was about a scorpion and frog and I liked that better so I’ll retell it.

See, this scorpion wants to cross a river and he spies a fat frog. So he asks it to carry him across. The frog goes, Screw you. You’re just gonna sting me.

To which the scorpion goes, Nah, we’ll both drown if I do that. That doesn’t make any sense.

So the frog shrugs his frog shoulders and figures that’s logical, lets the scorpion hop on, and off they go.

Midway through the river, the scorpion suddenly stings the frog, who goes, WTF!? Why’d you do that!? As the poison starts going through the frog’s body, the frog manages, Why? Now we’re both gonna die.

The scorpion nods, and says – just before he goes under, I’m sorry. It’s in my nature. You knew what I was when you picked me up.

In that entry, I talked about the betrayal of SA by Hitler and the betrayal of the Pakistani government by the Taliban.

Tonight, I just heard Trump’s speech condemning the people that are now facing trial and unemployment because of his exhortations and lies.

Of course, the orange one takes no responsibilities for what he’s done and those people are fucked. Or should be.

And I ask myself the same thing I always ask myself: How’d you not know? People tell you what they’re all about if you just listen.

Location: home, rolling with a buddy that just got her blue belt
Mood: better
Music: It’s such a drag to be on your own (Spotify)
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Meant to be

You should have picked 7

Me: That’s me in Germany.
Him: You look exactly the same. What are you a vampire?!
Me: (laughing) Here, take this belt, it’s too big for me.
Him: I think I like that (mustard) colour.
Me: Good. Basic black is for basic bitches.

I’ve got a small group of people that I mentor. I remember being young and not knowing a thing about anything, really.

My first seismic shift happened when I met my first real girlfriend. As a poor kid from Queens, she was the daughter of a connected restaurateur. Our first date, she brought me to a restaurant at Rockefeller Center where a burger was $20 (a fortune at the time).

She also gave me a Fendi automatic watch for Xmas when I was 17. She basically taught me how to dress. She was pure evil, but she changed me for the better in many regards.

Then, when I was college, I met Buckley who first me taught me about computer and networks. That was life-altering. I just wished him a happy birthday tonight.

Him: Thanks! It’s the end of my 48th trip around the sun. I’m thankful that we’re still on this ride together
Me: Jesus Christ. I met you when we were teenagers. Welp, the world is definitely better with you in it, homie.

Cappy made sure I had a place to live and helped me make life-long friends that I still consider my safe-harbor. He just called me too.

Him: We’ll stop by on the 26th with clothes for the boy.
Me: I’ll be here.

I also met Joe who let me crash in his pad off Times Square for $300 a month. Yup, you read that right. We were roomies for years after college and he taught me how real New Yorkers lived in Manhattan. A woman I met and chat with regularly last year is best friends with his ex-wife. What a small world.

While in Manhattan, I met Bobby, Johnny, and the Devil, who introduced me to the clubs and the colorful side of NYC life.  They also taught me how to dress and walk into an expensive restaurant and not feel out of place. All three are gone for my life now. I only miss one of them and hope he’s still alive.

I dated the doctor, who got me into this building, and worked with me to buy it – along with her mom. We all actually still talk because we’re part of the same tribe.

I met my old boss at CNET, Kirk, who taught me sales and tech and why a naturally aspirated straight-6 engine is so cool. I also met Jim there, who threw me into the legal tech fire and got me meeting with CEOs and fighting fortune 100 companies (I won).

After everything went down with Alison, he sent me on a trip to Bermuda.

My boss, whom I just chatted with today as well, taught me how to be a better lawyer, far beyond anything I learned in law school. He also sued my biggest frenemy for me ages ago. We won that too.

Paul and Will helped me end up with Alison. I just saw Paul today.

Me: Man, that hair’s still wild.
Him: Yeah, I gotta see a barber somehow.

And, of course, there was Alison herself. All the blog entries from her first appearance to this one was her influencing my life. She still does; she reminds me what I’m worth.

People try to convince me that I’m not worth all that much, but she thought I was just tops.

On that note, a touchstone of my life has always been to leave people better off having met me than not. Those people left me better off; most by coming into it, some by coming in and leaving.

The hope is that I can help some people figure out who they were meant to be.

And then maybe I can take my lessons and help the one I love most in the world become who he’s meant to be.

Him: I picked 11.
Me: You shoulda picked 7. Because that’s the most likely number with two dice.
Him: Can I go now?
Me: (laughs) Sure.

Location: home, dreaming of family
Mood: hopeful
Music: They say through time I’ll find some healing but the clock goes slow (Spotify)
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Vulpes Training Review: Design is how it works

Norman doors

This is separate from our usual nuthin, folks.

Back when I met up with the pastor for coffee, I pointed out the Norman Doors that were all along the street.

Me: A norman door’s a door that needs a sign to tell you how to use it. Which is just stupid. You should be able to walk up to any door on the planet and not have to know how to speak the goddamn language.

If a door has to say, “Push,” on it so you can understand how to use it, someone, somewhere, fucked up. See. a secondary piece of information has to be provided because the first bit of information wasn’t enough, the very design of the object.

Instructions to the People #4

In a book I reviewed, before my world went to hell, Steve Jobs famously said, Design is how it works.

He meant that, you should be able look at something as staggeringly complex as an iPhone and just know how it works based on the design. And, as my toddler son has proven with his iPad, Stevie was right.

A few months back, I wanted to help out friend of mine with a business he was starting called Vulpes Training.

See, unlike most martial arts, kali – like jits – requires another person to really get the most out of it. You need another human being for things like distancing and timing, things you can’t do via forms alone.

I’ve always used the traditional rattan stick because it did the job the best.

I had a few trainers here and there but I didn’t like them because they hurt my hands or – worse – didn’t stand up to the pounding I gave them.

When I bought the trainers from Vulpes, I did it mainly as a favour to a buddy of mine. I don’t have enough spare scratch lying around for niceties for myself but I was helping out a friend.

But I was floored when I got them. Turns out, I wasn’t just helping out a friend, I was buying  a nice little gift for myself.

They were, well, perfect.

See, most people that design trainers try to do everything: They try to source the materials, design the blade, make the blade, test the blades, stock the blades, etc.

That’s a lotta stuff.

My buddy at Vulpes just let others handle the design by making trainers of popular knives and swords. Genius.

See, I’m partial to the Schrade Priscilla. It’s fashioned after a Greek Makhaira blade and was designed by a fella named Josh Waggoner.

Get this: Mr. Waggoner liked the Vulpes trainer so much that he endorsed it himself.

I also like the Cold Steel Tanto as a side weapon and, because he’s a pro, my buddy made me a custom trainer of that too. Hopefully he’ll add it to his catalogue.

Both are perfectly balanced and can take enough of a beating that I brought them to class to use as my regular weapon.

At least I tried to.

Me: Wait, why can’t I use them? They can handle it.
Him: Let’s not scare the new students.

It’s true, they both look and feel like serious business. Which they are. This is us playing with them towards the end. I don’t think I’ve ever shown you how I move with a weapon.

I’m always super self-conscious; focus on the weapon and not me, please.


Note that the pics I took of the weapons are AFTER that training session.

Design is how it works. Josh Waggoner designed a well-balanced, flowy machete/short sword that handles like butter. Vulpes Trainers took that great design – and others – and made a trainer that is probably gonna be my daily driver now.

If you are kali fella like me, look into them. They’re great.

Location: home, chatting with The Chad
Mood: hopeful
Music: They think she did it but they just can’t prove it (Spotify)
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The Comedian, The Criminal, and The Clown

Any good would come

I met up with the pastor from Vision Church recently for some coffee.

Him: I got you a gift.
Me: Oh, you shouldn’t have, really.
Him: It’ll give us something to talk about the next time we meet up.

It was a recently published comic that’s been getting a lotta press recently, called The Three Jokers.

Essentially, it’s about the three different types of Jokers that Batman’s faced throughout the years:

      1. The Comedian
      2. The Criminal
      3. The Clown

I’ll leave the rest there but it’s interesting in that I do think that we all have our three lives: Public, Private, and Secret.

My three lives have all been keeping me on my toes in their own ways, lately. Just dunno how to explain them to you in a way you might understand.

On that note, and returning to The Pastor, we had an compelling discussion before we left about defriending people and who we choose to have in our lives.

Him: People are complex. For example, there might be horribly racist people that you would trust with your son, but also people that wouldn’t dream of being racist, but you would never leave with alone with your son.
Me: Give me an example.
Him: Well, some Asian grandparents are horrible racists, but you’d trust them with your son in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?
Me: (laughing) I suppose that’s true.
Him: So, I keep people around that I disagree with. Because they see the world differently than I do – and it’s good to see the world differently.
Me: I agree to some extent. But there are some people with I have no nexus and want none. I don’t want to see the world the way do.
Him: Why not?
Me: (shaking head) Because…I don’t feel any good could come of it.

Location: still home
Mood: still happier
Music: friends with tired eyes (Spotify)
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You bet your sweet…

I’ll always come back

After my son’s birthday, I headed back home to my pad, leaving him with my in-laws once again.

Him: Will you come back?
Me: I’m legally required to come back for you for another 13 years.
Him: I’ll miss you. You’ll come back, right?
Me: I’ll always come back for you, kid. You’re my 宝贝.

It was an unpleasant trip home for personal reasons I’m sure you can guess. It got worse once I got home.

You see, my internet was down when we left that morning and Time Warner/Spectrum said that it was an area outage type thing but I got a text on my phone that it was resolved that afternoon.

It wasn’t.

So, once I got back, I rang Spectrum at 11:30 at night. The fella I spoke to said my connection was fine, it was an issue with my Linksys router. So I gave them a call. The lady from Linksys said the my router and modem weren’t talking.

I decided to conference call both Spectrum and Linksys and they told me to hook up the modem directly to my computer.

Me: The only computer I have with an ethernet port is like 10 feet away and my longest ethernet cable is six feet.
Linksys: Well, you’ll have to call us both back when you can get an ethernet cable that can reach.
Me: Wait, I can crimp one myself. Can you two wait like 10 minutes?
Spectrum: I’m sorry, what do you mean crimp a cable together yourself? You’re going to make an ethernet cable?
Me: You bet your sweet ass, man. Can you hold on?
Both: Yes?

When Buckley and I first moved into this place 20-something years ago, he and I wired the whole place with Cat5 cable. Because I’d converted most of my wiring to Cat5E cable back on day 7 of the pandemic, I knew I still had some Cat5 attached to my bedroom wall.

So at 12:30AM, I tore it off my bedroom baseboard and cut both ends of it. Then I dug up my old Ethernet crimper and two RJ45 connectors and made myself a 15ft ethernet cable. Give or take.

Me: I’m back, I’m done. It’s plugged in.
Spectrum: You just crimped your own ethernet cable? Right now?
Me: Yup. Can you see my computer?
Him: Hold on…yes. I think you’re the first person I’ve ever spoken to that crimped his own ethernet cable while on the phone with us.
Me: That’s how I roll, man. Linksys, can I let this guy go and you and I fix this problem then?
Her: Sure.

By 1:30AM, I had internet again. Exhausted, I went to bed and woke up to find out that Biden won the election.

It’s been a weird and sad week. And there was more to come.

Podcast Version
Location: home, with working internet
Mood: bummed
Music: So many birthdays that I missed (Spotify)

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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

We *all* have problems, Logan

Good luck and good day

Me: You want some Sriracha?
Chad: (covers his entire meal with it).
Mouse: That’s a lot of Sriracha!
Me: I’ve made him into a man now, Mouse.
Chad: (nods, doesn’t stop eating)

People keep calling me to help out with these projects and I take what work I feel I’m a right fit for or if I want to help someone out.

You know that I don’t advertise? Been working for myself for over two decades and I’ve never advertised anything ever beyond this blog, I suppose. Maybe a few things, here and there.

Huy Fong, the makers of Sriracha also never advertised. They got by purely on their reputation. Must be an Asian thing.

Anywho, a lawyer buddy of mine asked me to help out with a client so, as a favour to him, I reached out to her and sent her what I could do and what I would charge.

Her: That seems excessive for a few pages of paper.
Me: I couldn’t agree more. You can probably find someone much cheaper with the New York Country Bar Association. You can ring up a lovely woman named Hannah there at 212-267-6646, ext. 217 to find someone else.
Her: Wait, but…
Me: 212-267-6646, ext. 217. Hannah. With two H’s and two N’s. Good luck and good day, madam.

I know what I’m worth and I don’t have the time or interest in convincing anyone of my value.

On that note, last week was one of my busier work weeks in a while.

On the flip side, I can also remember sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Of course, that was before everything in my life turned to shit.

Speaking of sitting at home, like I said earlier, Chad broke his foot but he’s a teacher by nature, so he’s definitely going stir crazy locked in his pad.

And Cho just got a new whip.

So, I offered for them to come by – along with Mouse – and roll in exchange for some food and entertainment.

And on a random weekday night, they were here.

We were all grateful for the lesson and I think Chad was grateful to just be on a mat again. He literally walked in – or hobbled in – and lay on the mat for a moment and sighed.

Just like the first time he came over.

After our lesson, he asked if we had any questions.

Me: About what you just taught or life?
Chad: We don’t have that much time, Logan.
Me: Well, I’ve got a lot going on.
Him: We all have problems, Logan!
Me: You don’t have to yell.

Pro tip: If you see a bottle of Lao Gan Ma Crispy Chili, buy it. You’ll be ahead of the curve. Trust me on this.

It’ll be the next big thing.

Podcast Version
Location: earlier today, trying to break an arm
Mood: tired
Music: I don’t want somebody like you (Spotify)
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It’s not that bad

Running into friends

As I was saying, while Mouse, Chad and I were eating at our usual Vietnamese joint, I locked eyes with this tall fella walking by with a buddy of his that seemed familiar, even though we were both wearing masks.

Him: Logan?
Me: John?

It was actually a buddy of mine from my old judo class out in Queens. The last time we rolled together was just around 9/11. At the time, I was living in the boy’s room, before Abbie. That’s one of the few pics I have of it from back then.

Man, was I a mess before Alison.

In any case, John was in high school then; he now had grey hair.

Me: (turning to Chad) This is actually my coach, Chad. Chad, this is John, he’s a purple belt…
John: I’m a brown, actually. (laughs)
Me: Damn, nice! Sorry.
John: (to Chad) We saw your ears and figured you were a fighter.

The two of them started to chat about our old coach. I stayed out of it since I got it all outta my system but it was interesting to see these two strangers trade very similar notes.

I do remember that I asked my old coach once how he was so ok with his less-than-stellar reputation. He said he was fine with it so I don’t have any compunction telling you.

I wonder what my reputation is like. Like, what do you think of me?

In some ways, I don’t care, in others, I care a great deal. Like my professional life – I care greatly what people say about me and my work product.

Because I don’t advertise at all and I also haven’t had a salary in close to 20 years; it’s always been eating what I kill. And that’s 100% dependent on reputation.

My personal life, I care about my reputation far less so. I’m probably making it all up anyway.

Can’t tell you how many people tell me that I shouldn’t write this blog. But it’s for me. To remember what I want to remember and keep myself honest about what happens in my life.

I suppose I’m rambling again. Anywho, John had to run because he was eating at Playa Betty’s and his table was ready.

Me: Oh, that place is great for kids but the food’s terrible.
Mouse: Why would you say that, Logan?!
Me: (stammering) Uh, uh, well, it’s it’s not that bad…
Everyone: (shakes heads)

Podcast Version
Location: in front of my computer, all day
Mood: busy again
Music: I’m anti-everything, but you (Spotify)
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Goodnight, Luciano

I don’t understand why

Haven’t heard from the Devil in months. That worries me because he’s one of the few people in the world I think of as a friend.

How odd, to have a friend you call the Devil.

We’re friends because we see the world in the same way.

Me: Why me?
Him: (shrugging) Because you can separate signal from noise.
Me: So?
Him: As you get older, you’ll realize that most people can’t.

On July 14th, I felt compelled to reach out to this fella named Luciano Anthony.

What a name. Picture a super-built, really good-looking guy that was brilliant and you’d be picturing Luciano. He looked like a dude named Luciano Anthony.

(I also just found out that he went by Luciano Bianco as well – I only ever knew him as Luciano Anthony).

We were never close but he always said hi to me at the gym and was never anything but the nicest fella. He was covered in tats so I immediately made some judgments about him. All wrong.

He had a masters degree in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins and worked as a science engineer. He did woodwork on the side.

Quiet and thoughtful, he was a beast on the mats. I remembered that I liked rolling with him because he always kept his gear clean.

Anywho, Luciano posted something random that night. It seemed out of sorts for what I knew of him.

I’m so fucking clever, you see.

So, I wrote him. I was probably drinking.

He was struggling with some demons. As a friend of the Devil, I know demons. In fact, I knew these particular demons he was struggling with. They’re old hated companions of mine as well.

Him:  (afterwards) Sorry if that’s too straightforward. Don’t have much family or friends so I tend to word vomit.
Me: No. That’s fine. When I say I understand, I really do. And more.

The last thing I said to him was, “I get it. If you’re in heed [sic] of someone to vent to, lemme know.”

That was it. Even though I knew something was wrong, I thought, I did my part. I reached out. I patted myself on the back. And I went back to my life. And I didn’t reach out to him again.

He killed himself exactly a week later. I didn’t know until today.

In ironies of ironies, I just wrote about depression and suicide in my last entry.

In the past four years, I’ve known six – now seven – people that died; I loved two of them completely. Luciano was the only one that took his own life.

I knew there was something wrong but I didn’t follow-up.

I get it. What could I have done? With him, with Alison? But what’s the point of hearing signal if nothing changes, if it doesn’t make a fucking difference anyway?

His mom posted that he died on Facebook. That’s how I found out. Fucking hell. No parent should have to do anything like that.

Like I said, a mother’s love for her child is like nothing else.

I think the same thing I always think whenever I hear about someone as good and as talented as Luciano dying – doubly so when it’s suicide – why?

For all my cleverness, I’ll never understand why. I suppose I don’t really want to. He was only 29. To me, that’s just a kid. What a fucking waste of a good soul.

Goodnight, Luciano. I’m so sorry you suffered and felt like you had to go.

I hope you found your peace.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish.
1-800-273-8255

Podcast Link
Location: Pier 84, talking about Luciano with Chad
Mood: not good
Music: Didn’t get to sleep that night till the morning came (Spotify)
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