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personal

Come with me

The emperor of all maladies

Her: I like room temperature soda.
Me: I only realized now that I’m dating a psychopath.

Not been sleeping well for a while now. It’s a long story.

Been thinking about Alison and my dad a lot lately for a whole buncha reasons we don’t need to get into, but one small reason is Princess Kate.

The fact that she and King Charles both have cancer should be a wake up call to everyone for a simple reason:

If two people that have the best of everything – healthcare, food, trainers, etc. – can get cancer, anyone can.

You definitely can.

In the 1970s, a fella you never heard of named Kotaku Wamura was the mayor of a Japanese town you never heard of, Fudai.

When Warmura was a kid in 1933, he saw a tsunami kill 439 people in Fudai and made a kid’s promise to himself – he would prevent this from ever happening to Fudai ever again.

When he became mayor in 1970, through sheer force of will, he convinced the town to erect a 51-foot-high gate as a public works project.

He, and his supporters were mocked mercilessly as fools.

Fast forward some 40+ years to the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011, which I wrote about before, and killed over 19,000 people and destroyed at least 45 towns and cities.

Except Fudai.

Because of one person, almost nothing happened to the town. One unfortunate man died, and their port was nearly destroyed.

But the village and almost all its people were almost completely unscathed.

Not a day goes by without someone saying something chiding about what I eat, how I live, or what I do.

“You eat that much peanut butter?”
“Sardines? Fish, out of a can?! Disgusting!”
“Do you really need to roll around with sweaty men every day?”
“That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?”

Essentially, the argument I hear is always something that starts with, “Everyone…”

“Everyone eats carbs, Logan.”
“Everyone microwaves plastics, Logan.”
“Everyone eats late, Logan.”

Yeah, and everyone is getting cancer – greater than 1 outta 3 these days: If you’re a dude, the chance is 41%, a woman, the chance is 39%.

That is fucking insane.

Something is fucked in our lives and we’re all dying of cancer. I dunno what it is but I’m trying to go where science is telling me to go.

And I still might get it because the odds are shit.

But I’m gonna do everything I can to try to avoid it if possible.

You should too.

Wamura died in 1997 at age 88 and never saw that he was right. But he was right.

And I think I’m right here; just like Wamura didn’t know when the next tsunami would be, he knew it would come eventually just like I know cancer will touch alla us at some point if it hasn’t already.

Cancer doesn’t give a shit if you’re a king, a princess, a new mother, or a nobody.

It’s here to end – or at least massively fuck up – your life, if you don’t do something about it.

I’m not the one that’s living an extreme life, IMHO.

To me, the people living an extreme life are the ones that know that there’s a close to 50/50 chance at getting the emperor of all maladies and doing nuthin meaningful about it.

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, getting sugared-out
Mood: baffled
Music: I had to rock the boat so I could ride the wave (Spotify)
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Nothing like sewage in the kitchen

Grossed out

Do you remember when I told you about my upstairs neighbor’s toilet leaking into my kitchen some 14 years ago?

Never told you details about it but one thing that drove the workmen at the time crazy was that the original builders that first put in that toilet seem to have stuffed greased up newspapers into the gap between the waste pipe and the cement because there was a gap there.

The second set of workmen “fixed” the issue some 20 years later, sealed up my ceiling, and that was the last that I thought of it until about two weeks ago.

And the reason for that is that two weeks ago, I wrote in this entry that I climbed up to check out the same spot and was on “top of my refrigerator, looking at a huge crack and some mold.”

Well, it turns out that the workmen were, among other things, hypocrites.

Note the grossly stained stuffed plastic bags to the right of the pipe.

Because instead of removing the old, incorrectly seated flange – the part that connects a waste pipe to a toilet – pouring fresh concrete and then reinstalling a new flange they ended up stuffing plastic bags into the gap themselves and installing a toilet over the whole thing.

You can see a bit of the light from my kitchen shine up even with the plastic bags in place.

Welp, the plastic bags finally deteriorated enough from 14 years of water and waste such that sewage – urine and fecal matter – soaked through my ceiling and came pouring down.

It was precisely as gross and as nasty as you’re imagining it.

Worse, actually, because I keep my cookware – pots, pans, Instant Pot, food processor, etc – on top of my fridge.

Me: Clearly, I have to burn my entire unit to the ground.
Plumber: (laughs) Well, maybe just toss all your cookware?
Me: You think!?

After the plumber removed the plastic bags, you can see the light from my kitchen shine up.

The unit owners, though, are friends of mine and sent a plumber to come by yesterday and he did what he could but he said that he could only do a temporary fix since the floor was uneven and that was outta his skillset.

Him: Do you have cardboard?
Me: Sure, why?
Him: Well, either I have to seal it to keep critters out or…
Me: Nope, nope, nope, nope – here’s some cardboard.

After he left, I slapped on double gloves and double masks and cleaned the whole thing.

After about two hours, most of the most disgusting stuff was gone but the smell of urine was palpable even after scrubbing everything.

My fear is that some dried under the fridge and I’ll need to empty it out, have the whole thing pulled out, and then clean under it.

So, home ownership hasn’t been the best this week.

Here’s hoping twice in 14 years will be the limit of my ceiling caving in.

Location: Another basement apartment on WEA and W 80th Street, avoiding two dogs.
Mood: grossed TF out
Music: I’ll keep waiting, and, someday (Spotify)
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How you do anything…

…is how you do everything

My trip to Austria highlighted the fact that my life is very different now than when I was younger.

For one, the only real luggage I have is not one, but two garment bags – the first being the red one I brought all over the world for close to the past 30 years.

Still works great, btw.

The second is in the form of a shoulder bag.

The reason both are garment bags is because, in my youth, couldn’t imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t need a suit, or at least a nice dress shirt, when I traveled.

This time around, I had nonea those things and the rolling garment bag left a lot to be desired.

The Firecracker’s stuff didn’t fit it all that great and there was a lotta wasted space because of how it’s configured.

So, I started looking for luggage.

Jesus christ, are there a lotta options out there.

To narrow things down, I started only looking at luggage that had “YKK” zippers on them because that’s an indicator of quality to me.

What I noticed was that they were, by-and-large, about 20-30% more than luggage that didn’t have – or didn’t state that they had – YKK zippers.

This just supported my decision to buy one from that group because of another saying I like:

How do you do anything is how you do everything.

In other words, if a company cares enough to spend the extra money to use YKK zippers in their luggage, they probably care enough to do other things right and more thoughtfully.

Obviously, like all sayings, there are exceptions to it but it’s generally true, for the most part.

Been telling the kid things like this now that he’s getting older and can understand such things.

And this particular saying is pretty applicable to him because of his personality.

    • On the positive side, the kid is relentlessly upbeat and excitable.
    • On the negative side, because of his joie de vivre, he tends to rush at things and not really focus when he needs to.

So, I’ve been trying to tell him to slow down, which is hard for a kid like him.

It’s a work in progress.

Him: Done!
Me: That was fast. Lemme see…OK, well, you got every single thing wrong here.
Him: What?! I added up everything and checked my answer.
Me: Yes, I see that. Your math is right, but the instructions said round your answer to the nearest 10. You didn’t do that. So, yes, you got all the *math* right in all eight of them, but you got the *answers* wrong in all eight of them.
Him: That’s not fair!
Me: Listen carefully, kid: Life’s not fair. Accept that and your life will be better than most people. Now, slow down. Notice things. If you do that, you’ll be different from most of the world.
Him: What if I don’t wanna be different?
Me: Look, if you’re different, you can be irreplaceable. And if you’re irreplaceable…your life will be better still. And that’s all I want for you. Slow down.

This is the one I got.

I like red.

Location: 18th Street, getting floored because of my dislocated toe
Mood: ouchie
Music: Yeah, I want that red velvet (Spotify)
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Trying to not be heated

Fiddling

The kid started swimming lessons again.

He seems to be enjoying himself.

While he’s doing great, I’ve been sick lately.

Spent most of the week in bed but one thing I had to do was crack open my computer because it was randomly shutting down.

Figured the CPU was overheating so I slapped on a Noctua heatsink and fan, which seems to have fixed the problem.

Speaking of overheating, evidently, the idea that humans are, on average 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is a relatively modern conclusion.

The very latest health research seems to indicate that the new average is about a degree cooler at between 97.5 and 97.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

At least since 2019, I’ve been averaging about 97.3 degrees but lately, I’ve been drifting even lower – above is what it was this morning.

There seems to be two major theories for this:

    1. People are larger now, which generally results in lower body temperature, and/or
    2. People are just less chronically inflamed.

Can’t speak for the world-at-large but I gotta think that my lower temps are because I’ve lowered my overall inflammation since I wasn’t super big to begin with.

When Alison first got sick, I did a baseline reading for myself and found that I was consistently around 97.9 degrees but, since her illness, I spent a good amount of time and energy trying to reduce my inflammation overall, resulting in temps I wrote above.

This past week, I’ve been ridonk sick with some weird cold. Mainly fatigue and coughing but my temps maxed out at 99.6 degrees.

Kept wondering if I had a fever.

Technically speaking, a fever is anything above 100.4 degree Fahrenheit.

But the question is is, if I’m a full degree lower than normal, is a fever now something above 99.4 degrees?

In any case, I’m better today; the last four days were spent in bed but today I felt well enough to cook for the kid – the Firecracker spent most of the week cooking for him.

As the years go on, more and more people ask me how I stay so young looking.

Obviously, genetics have a lot to do with it. So does the fact that I’ve been on a diet for 36+ years.

But, in terms of recent changes I’ve made, that’s all been focused on my reducing my systemic inflammation to try and combat cancer.

The unexpected benefit is that I think I’m literally slowing down my aging even more.

In any case, reducing my inflammation means:

Just like my computer shutting down when it overheated, I think that people don’t realize just how damaging being inflamed – thus, over-heated – is for their overall health.

These are the kinda things I think about when I’m sick.

Her: How’s the patient?
Me: Blargh.
Her: Are you resting? No computer fiddling?
Me: There might be some fiddling going on.

Location: home, making a rasher of bacon because I’m cranky and it’s easy
Mood: see above
Music: they always say, “Don’t it always seem to go'” (Spotify)
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Living on the island

It was a huge day

The Frenchman and my friends around the way met up the other day for tacos and beers near my pad, along with the Firecracker.

Not soon afterward, we all went to the ABFF’s for dinner as well.

That’s the thing about living in Manhattan; everyone who lives here is generally pretty willing to meet up anywhere on the island for a last minute something.

Back when Alison got sick, I did a pretty deep dive into medicinal mushrooms, particularly things like Turkey Tail for anti-cancer properties.

But I also discovered that lots of culinary mushrooms have pretty impressive health benefits as well so the past year or so, I’ve been growing all types of mushrooms in the pad.

My fave is probably Lion’s Mane as it has a taste and texture similar to seafood – which you know I love – and cooks very easily.

But it’s not the easiest one to grow.

In any case, I had to stop because it turns out that fruit flies love mushrooms as well so it was a constant fight keeping them at bay.

It’s a shame – it was nice having a constant supply of fresh mushrooms to eat.

Her: (cooking) Do you have any mushrooms?
Me: Shoot I’m out.
Her: You’re out!?
Me: Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are.

Today was a huge day for me, professionally, for a number of various reasons.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you anything about it but…yeah, it was huge.

Her: I think it would take me 20 weeks to do what you did in two.
Me: It doesn’t happen very often but it’s pretty cool when it does.

Maybe I’ll tell you about it someday.

Location: reading legal papers at my dining room table with a young woman who signed everything
Mood: pleasantly surprised
Music: just need a moment to get back down (Spotify)

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personal

Being ancient

Running into old ghosts and possible pasts

Told you once that I used to work on Times Square.

That entry was a long time ago – I had just started seeing Alison then – and when I wrote that, my working at Times Square was almost a decade before that.

Well, when I went to see that Broadway show with the Firecracker, I showed her my old office.

Me: See that building there? I worked there for years. Had a perfect view of Times Square back then. And I lived just four blocks from work. I could wake up at 9:10 for a 9:30 meeting.
Her: I’m so jealous! I can’t imagine that.

I can’t either, actually. That was almost three decades ago.

Did you know that, Cleopatra’s reign (ending 30 BCE) is closer to today, about 2,050 years, than to the construction of the pyramids, which were probably built about 2630 BCE, or 2,600 years before she started ruling Egypt?

In other words, when Cleopatra was born, the pyramids were already 2,600 years old/ancient.

In some ways, I look around the city and feel that about myself.

People think that I’m old with life experiences but they have no idea how old I actually am and how many different lives I’ve led.

Alla them here, in the Big City.

For example, while waiting in line to watch Merrily We Roll Along, I pointed out the Belasco Theatre.

Me: I took my bar review class there.
Her: Right there? In the theatre?
Me: (nodding) Yup. It was like a solid month, five days a week, for eight hours a day.

That’s the thing about living in the same place for five decades. There are old ghosts everywhere.

Everything reminds me of some possible past, whether I want it to or not.

Location: home, realizing I forgot to get the kid tickets to a show. He’ll be so bummed.
Mood: disappointed
Music: drop your drink, then they bring you more (Spotify)
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Flashy Hot Dogs

Hope is a tricky thing

Yesterday was National Hot Dog Day and the Firecracker has a soft spot in her heart for hot dogs so I grilled some up for us and her kid.

Did you know that some McDonalds used to sell hot dogs? It was only for a brief time.

Prob for the best; I’m not sure a lotta people would go to McDonald’s to order a hot dog.

I saw The Flash when it came out because he was always one of my favourite superheroes – mainly because super speed is the only power I think really matters.

That’s an entry for another day, I suppose.

But, while I don’t think it deserved to be as maligned as much as it has been, I wanted to tell you why I think the movie failed.

As a comic book nerd, I always gravitated more towards DC comics than Marvel comics, even though I really liked both.

See, Marvel likes to ground its characters in realism – the teenage Peter Parker trying to make ends meet while dealing with massive guilt, the alcoholic Tony Stark, the rage-filled, revenge-seeking Frank Castle, etc.

Comparatively, DC heroes are like otherworldly gods – Superman is essentially a god from the heavens, The Flash is as fast and mercurial as Mercury, Wonder Woman is a goddess.

The thing about these gods, though, is that they are innately good, and – more than anything – bastions of hope.

The Pastor and I discussed this ages ago.

Me: Did you like Man of Steel?
Him: No, because he killed Zod. Snyder doesn’t understand Superman never kills. He doesn’t understand that Batman doesn’t use guns. He doesn’t understand what makes them…them. DC Comics are all about hope. But Synder’s film have no joy, no hope. It’s all spectacle without heart.

And that, I think, is why The Flash bombed.

It’s one of the saddest and darkest superhero films out there; everyone and everything is disposable. Heroes are introduced merely to die. No one and nothing matters.

Look, don’t get me wrong, I understand that tragedy is a part of life.

Fuck, if anyone’s life is a tragedy, it’s mine (albeit, fulla joy).

Plus, there’s nuthin wrong with a cinematic tragedy; but kids trying to see their fave hero on the big screen – especially a DC-based one – want the good guys to win.

Evil to be overcome. Good to prevail.

Goddammit, I thought my own tragedy wouldn’t actually be one. Thought we would prevail. But I was wrong.

I digress.

In any case, just like you don’t go to McDonalds for a hot dog, you don’t go to a DC based film to leave feeling hopeless.

And that – not just the bad CGI (which I didn’t hate) and the foibles of the main actor – is why I think the movie failed.

That, and hope is a tricky thing to mess with.

After all these years, I still don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Location: home, using an impact drill to drill into my brick wall for the boy
Mood: full – I way overdid it on my goat curry tonight
Music: Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone (Spotify)
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Lions don’t have the keys

A ruthless capitalist with a sentimental streak.

I went to college in Cornell, which has some of the most Asians of any school, about 1 outta 5.

Anywho, my college girlfriend was Korean but went to a different college entirely.

One day, I was walking home when I saw a young woman that had her very distinct gait and I swore it was her.

As I got closer, it turns out it was her – she’d left school early to come up to my college to surprise me.

There’s a software company I’ve been following for the past year because it has a rather unique business model; its software aggregates data and then makes predictions based on the data it’s gathered.

Since the Ukraine war has happened, Palantir has been offering its services to Ukraine and I believe it’s Palantir and the western armaments – versus just the weaponry itself – which is why Ukraine has been punching above its weight so consistently.

This is not at all to take away from the sheer bravery and discipline of the Ukrainians.

But it tracks with what I’ve always believed: The most dangerous people/things are not always the strongest but the ones with the most intelligence.

If that were not the case, it’d be people in zoo cages and lions walking free with the keys instead of the other way around.

In any case, the software has access to 306 commercial satellites that can see as close as 11 feet from the ground.

With this data, Palantir can figure out which are enemy movements – to such specificity as which platoon and commander – and can predict what these enemy troops are most likely to do and offer the Ukrainians the most likely scenario that will happen.

The Ukrainians can then act accordingly.

In that way, Palantir can recognize enemy troop movements similar to how I could tell from a vast distance that it was my then girlfriend and not some other person.

The data I collected – the visual recognition of her particular gait – allowed me to realize that my then-girlfriend was visiting me, without her telling me she was there.

Similarly, Palantir takes what it knows about people/troops and figures out who they are by their unique traits – like a gait.

With that, they make warfare akin to a deadly recipe except that if you do steps 1-16 correctly you’ll end up with mass enemy casualties instead of a soufflé.

I’m conflicted on this point.

Obviously, the Russians are the aggressors here and for everyone not a Republican, clearly the bad guys here.

But we are teaching an AI program how to perform warfare at its most brutally efficient way.

As a child of the original Terminator films and the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, it makes me uneasy how very good Palantir is at what it does.

On the flip side, it’s trading at $16.42 today, off its three-year high of $35.18.

I’m nothing if not a ruthless capitalist – with a sentimental streak.

On a much lighter note, with both of our kids away, the Firecracker and I are doing basic couple things like grabbing drinks around the way and watching reality TV and cooking shows.

Although I suspect that, while we’re both watching the same program, we’re experiencing them differently.

Her: (watching TV) Serves you right, lady! Your hubris went…pluberis.
Me: (shakes head)
Her: (turning to me, apologetically) I tried to abort halfway through but I was already committed to it.
Me: This has got to go into the blog. You brought this onto yourself.

Location: my basement, trying to figure out why the lights won’t turn on. The circuit breaker tripped
Mood: recovering
Music: This world can be so cold (Spotify)
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My soul is lemonade

Make me write bad checks

Me: What makes a proctologist decide to be a proctologist? I mean they have to look at assholes all day.
Firecracker: (shrugging) I’m sure that you lawyers deal with just as many, if not more, assholes every day.
Me: Fair.

I find the Firecracker pretty funny, mainly with her earnestness in life.

Because the funniest things come from a place of honesty.

There’s something refreshing about having someone that is relentlessly upbeat and positive, especially considering my recent past.

In terms of the big three buckets of health, wealth, and relationships, relationships seem to be the one that my friends talk with me about the most.

With that said, I’m not the only one whose life seems on the upswing.

Ran into a friend of mine the other day who was with someone new. Afterward, she and I chatted about it.

Me: I didn’t realize you and [your ex] broke up. Was there any particular thing?
Her: (thinking) It was weird. I told him – straight-up – things like, “Could you let me know if you’re running late, “or “Could you drop me a line to make sure I got home OK?” Nothing. Ever.
Me: That’s weird.
Her: Yeah. Basically, that relationship was: “He knew what I wanted but he never did it.”
Me: Jesus Christ, can I relate to that…

Of course, for every person whose life is getting better, there’s gotta be at least one person whose life is getting worse.

Or two – see, two friends of mine just announced that they were divorcing each other. I didn’t wanna pry but it seemed that things mainly come down to issues in communication.

Have you ever actually read the story of the Little Mermaid? The original story is…dark. Waaaaay, dark.

Essentially, the mermaid saved this prince’s life but couldn’t speak so the prince thought some other chick saved his life and married her, and she died.

The end.

Think the loneliest people in the world are the ones that aren’t actually mute but can’t communicate.

I feel for them. After all, communication isn’t what you say, it’s what the other person hears.

Besides, what is life without someone to talk to?

Then again, some things might be best left unsaid.

Me: Can you do me a favour?
Her: Sure, what?
Me: Can you walk on my back? I’ve had a rough day at the gym.
Her: (laughs) Sure!
Me: (10 minutes later, groaning) OMG, hurt me, call me names, make me write bad checks!
Her: Umm… you…Mad Hatter!
Me: (laughing hysterically) MAD HATTER?!
Her: That’s all I could come up with! Now write me some bad checks!

I feel like I’m finally past my lemon days, maybe? That’s the hope, anywho.

So, here’s to some lemonade…

Location: day-drinking with her in an empty bar on 80th and Amsterdam
Mood: completely exhausted
Music: Everything’s just fine, I’ma be just fine (Spotify)
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Smoke from a Distant Fire

Canadian wildfires in NYC

Dentist: (70 minutes late) Sorry to keep you waiting. What’s going on?
Me: I still have a lot of pain in that tooth you repaired last week.
Her: Let me see. (peers closely, runs some tests) The problem is that the crack was so close to your nerve. Let me drill down the tooth a bit and see if that helps. (40 seconds later) Bite down and tell me how that feels.
Me: (complies) No pain!
Her: (laughs) OK, you’re all done then.

So, repairing my tooth took two visits, $120 of copay, almost six hours of total time, and 40 seconds to fix the initial repair.

That seems on brand for me.

Her: My hair smells like smoke now. Yuck!
Me: Well, you are “The Firecracker.”
Her: (laughs) Please use that in the blog.

If you’re not from NYC, then you may or may not know that there are these MASSIVE wildfires – 150 to be exact – burning in Canada, with their smoke hitting NYC and hard.

Yesterday, the boy’s school had a pizza party in the school yard when the boy started screaming something and pointing at the sky; right after he started, the rest of his friends joined in.

What were they pointing at, at 6PM? The sun, which looked like an orange fireball.

This picture really doesn’t do it justice.

Everything was normal until about then, when he started coughing and I did as well and a thick smog came down on top of us with the whole yard smelling like a campfire.

We quickly left and went home – this is what it looked like at 6:48 last night.

The next morning, this is what it looked like in the Upper West Side.

Made the kid wear two masks to school while I wore an N95 mask.

I’m heading away with the Firecracker and the kid this week so I figured I should hit up the gym while I could, so off I went.

When I got there, I was already breathing heavily. This is what it looked like when I arrived.

Chad had, smartly, kept the windows and doors shut and the ACs running so we were able to get in a good workout.

But after just three rolls, I was completely spent and left.

Union Square looked like the first or second circle of hell – this is it at 1:49PM.

Hightailed it home to grab the kid from school.

Normally, I try to spend at least an hour outside with him so he gets some fresh air and exercise but there was no fresh air to be had.

I – like almost all of the other parents – quickly grabbed the kid and headed home.

Kept him indoors until it was time for his afterschool, took the bus there (we usually walk), took the train back alone, then did the same thing again 90 minutes later when his class was done.

Both he and I felt pretty run-down the entire day. I had an itchy throat and eyes while he kept complaining his chest and stomach hurt.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, things are much better.

Location: my pad, wondering if tomorrow will be better or worse
Mood: cough-y
Music: your eyes had a mist from the smoke of a distant fire (Spotify)
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