Critical thinking isn’t the most important thing

It’s issue spotting

Me: Hello, hot blonde.
Her: Hello, handsome old Chinese man.
Me: The “old” was really not necessary.
Her: But accurate!

I’ve said repeatedly that my major goal for the boy is teaching him critical thinking.

Unfortunately, the recent (massive) hurricanes and flooding happening here in the US – and abroad – around has made me reassess the contours of that.

I recently decided that critical thinking is secondary to a more basic skill: Issue spotting – which is determining if there’s even a problem in the first place.

Came to this realization seeing how many people I know in life that deny climate change.

As an aside, all self-identify as Republicans and many have a religious bent, which makes me feel all the more foolish for ever voting republican and ever being religious at all.

In any case, back in law school, I remember that everyone is taught two basic skills:

      1. Issue spotting, and then
      2. issue solving.

It’s always in that order because all law school exams – especially the bar exam – essentially tests on both whereby, if you’re unable to spot the issue in the first place, your chance of correctly answering the question is nil.

This is where I’m finding we are as a society; half of the people are concerned about answering the issue, whereas the other half denies that an issue even exists, often pointing to one lone dissenter and ending the argument there for them.

There’s no ability to critically think about a solution because people can’t even see that there’s a problem that needs solving.

This is terrifying, on so many levels.

And it’s happening everywhere and all at once.

Me: You don’t think it’s an issue that you’re 35 years old and have nothing saved for retirement?
Him: (puzzled) Retirement is like 30 years away; I have plenty of time.
Me: JFC…sit down. I need to explain a lotta things to you.

Location: my stoop, chatting with a friend that stopped by to check up on me
Mood: beyond busy
Music: don’t overthink it – like all my problems, I don’t have one (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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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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Six tips for aging more slowly

Being comfortable being uncomfortable

New Guy: (torques my arm)
Me: (yelps) Dude! Relax, I’m 50. I’m all about tapping.
Him: (laughs, answers in thick southern accent) Hey now, I’m not at fault here. You can’t come onto the mats looking younger than me and expect me to know you’re 50!
Me: (laughing) Fair. My go-to joke is that Asians don’t have height, but we have eternal youth.

Had a few people reach out to me to wish me a Happy Birthday and two of them commented on my blog entry about it.

Him: You know what woulda been a better entry? Five tips on staying young.
Me: Oh, I can give you two right now: (1) Stay outta the sun, and (2) Be born Asian. You’re kinda screwed on one of those…
Him: Dude, I’m kinda screwed on botha those!

I’m only semi-kidding about the first two. I stay outta the sun for the most part, and always have. It’s one of the benefits of never being invited to anything as a kid; I literally just stayed in my basement for years at a time.

As for being Chinese, genetics only account for 25% of your age/health, at least according to the April 2023 issue of Men’s Health:

So, the other 75% is up to you.

This anti-aging researcher named David Sinclair just gave his own four tips for reversing aging in an article that came out this week, headlined: Harvard researcher says he reversed his aging with these 4 steps.

Now, you can read them yourself, but I’ve actually been doing his four steps for years now. They are:

1. Run three times per week
What he really means is just exercise. It’s literally the fountain of youth. I’ve been going to the gym 6-10 hours a week for the last 30 years.

And that’s why it was the second tip I gave in my birthday entry.

2. Intermittent fasting
I’ve been doing this since Alison got sick, mainly because it’s highly anti-cancer, since fasting can trigger a biological state called autophagy, where the body seeks out low-performing/weird cells when there isn’t enough food present.

While the body can’t tell a cell is cancerous, it can tell if it’s low-performing/weird and will kill it to save nutrients for the higher-performing/normal cells.

That’s why I do it. BUT, it’s also linked to youth.

And the reason why can best be summed up in a question: What if your body tells the passage of time by the amount of calories it consumes?

It’s an interesting hypothesis but really, the exact mechanism probably isn’t all that important. What is actually important is that limiting when and how much you eat will probably mean that (a) you’ll live longer and (b) you’ll look younger.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars on face lifts and creams, skip brekkie.

Her: You like feeling hungry?
Me: I like feeling hungry. It reminds me that I’m alive and makes eating all that more fun.
Her: I don’t like being uncomfortable.
Me: The highest-performing people, I think, are the ones that are comfortable being uncomfortable.

3. Drink green matcha tea twice a day
I’ve been drinking a lot more than two cups of green tea a day since Alison got sick, again, because it’s highly anti-cancer.

Green tea, unlike other kinds of tea, has a compound called ECGC which has been linked in double-blind Japanese studies where they found that drinking five-cups of green tea a day, not only resulted in a statistically significant reduction in cancer across the board, it led to a statistically significant reduction in … death.

In other words, if you drink five cups of green tea a day, you’re less likely to die, period. That’s wild.

Why every person on the planet isn’t drinking green tea like it was going outta style is beyond me.

BUT, just last year, a study came out that found that people that had too much green tea had liver failure. Still, it seems that the people that had liver issues took supplements along with green tea, moreover, it doesn’t say if they had underlying health issues to begin with.

As for me, green tea (it doesn’t need to be matcha) makes up most of my liquid sustenance, with coffee and water making up the rest.

4. Reduce stress and avoid “idiots”
I’m gonna say that this is the same as my bonus tip in my second birthday entry: Sometimes, you gotta say, “Fuck it, I’m out.”

Early this year, I cut out about three people from my life, one person literally went outta her way to make me feel like shit about everything, including how I was raising my son.

And one of my closest friends was a fella named Johnny who I cut out just after Alison died along with my old coach for the same reasons – I outgrew them and their petty grievances, against me and the world.

I’ve got 8,250 days left on the planet and I plan to spend alla them with people that want to make themselves and people around them better, not worse.


Lemme add two of my own tips for looking and staying young:

5. Squat every day
Asians tend to live long and better when they’re in Asia and less so when they’re not. Why is that?

Well, there’s a large group of people that feel this is because many Asians in Asia still use squat toilets. This means, at least once a day, a huge amount of the population does these very deep squats which have massive health benefits, least of which are good knees and a strong core.

I squat daily – both with and without weights. You should try it.

6. Learn something. Anything. But learn it deeply
A good friend of mine, who is Caucasian, just decided one day to learn Chinese and I’ve been chatting with her about it. She said that she feels her brain working in ways that she hasn’t felt since she was a kid.

A sharp mind is a hallmark of youth. Older people are slower in every regard, including how they think.

Constantly learning new things – ideas, facts, languages, etc – is stretching out your mind as much as your body.

Me: I have a personal indicator that will tell me when I’m old.
Her: What is it?
Me: Ever since I was a little kid, I would bound – not walk, *bound* – up the stairs two at a time. I still do that and I can’t help myself. I think that the day I can’t easily do that is the day that I will truly be old.

Location: earlier tonight, asking my son to keep it down on West 77th.
Mood: healthy
Music: Got a pulse and I’m breathing, one life make it vivi (Spotify)
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The dead girl that beat the Nazis

Sharing secrets

A young girl: [Your son] says you’re a fighter.
Me: Heavens! Now, do I look like a fighter, little miss?
Her: (laughs) Noooo!
Me: Well, there you go. I’m just a lawyer. And his dad.
Son: (afterward, annoyed) Why didn’t you say you’re a fighter?!
Me: Because I’m not, I’m someone that can fight but I’m not a fighter. There’s a difference.
Him: Papa!
Me: (shrugging) Besides, no one needs to know what we do in our private lives, kid. I want you to learn something here: People don’t look like they really are inside. Our insides don’t often match our outsides, for better for worse. The less people know about what you can do, the better.
Him: Then why do you spend so much time [learning how to fight]?
Me: Because…sometimes you have to show people what you can do.

This girl named Betty was running to catch a train about a 100 years ago when her science teacher saw her.

The science teacher was also the running coach of the school and never saw anyone run that fast – and he was the coach!

So, he convinced her to run for him and soon, she found herself in the 1928 Olympics at just 16 years old, breaking a whole buncha records.

Almost 100 years later, she remains the youngest athlete to win an Olympic 100-meter gold.

That’s not the most remarkable thing about her, though.

Just three years later, in 1931, she was in a plane crash where she was so messed up that they were sure she was dead. They didn’t send her to the hospital, they sent her to the morgue.

Luckily the undertaker realized she was alive and she, somehow, survived.

Unfortunately, the doctors said she’d never walk again, let alone race again. She spent six months in a wheelchair and didn’t walk normally for two whole years.

But she somehow did walk again and then run again – and she actually ran in the 1946 summer Olympics against the heavily-favoured Germans in the relay race.

The kicker is that she beat them.

Not my pic, obvs. Click here for more info. Man, look how happy this kid is.

The thing is, if you pull up a picture of Betty Robinson, she just looks like any other chick from that time.

You’d never know she was a beast in her lane.

I’ve met so many people in my half-century here. But the ones I always value the most, are the ones with their secret lives that no one would ever suspect.

I’ve met beasts that you wouldn’t believe.

Suppose I hope this for my son, for him to have secrets that keep him safe and happy until and unless he has to show the world what he can do.

Son: So, you do fight, right, papa?
Me: Not if I can help it, kid. Remember that, too.

Speaking of meeting up with people, I met up with the Firecracker for drinks the other day at a place that a buddy from my gym told me he loves that’s all decked out as if it were still the Victorian age.

Super cool and ornate, plus it’s right around the gym.

I’d been walking past it for months without realizing what was inside.

Just like with people, the City has alla these hidden secrets that I like finding out about.

Then again, I usually tell you about them when I find about them, so we can share the secret, yeah?

After all, secrets are special things shared between people.

Oh, silly little editorial note, but in this entry about the Firecracker’s bday, I was supposed to have this picture in the entry.

I only realized today that I wasn’t up. These types of mistakes annoy me more than I can express.

Location: in my apartment all day, upset about a broken picture I loved
Mood: complex
Music: I’ve been on the brink, so tell me what you wanna hear (Spotify)
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Logan’s 50: Five of my best life tips, Pt. 2

Just the particulars

Me: What if one day you get new glasses and realize how old I am?
Firecracker: I don’t think so. Maybe I’m just more into antiques than I thought I was.

1973 – 0 Years old

4. You can reinvent yourself again and again

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote Alison’s favorite book, The Great Gatsby; I loved that girl as much as I hated that book.

Fitzgerald had a famous quote that went, There are no second acts in American lives, which is about as wrong as someone can possibly be.

It’s onea those things that have the air of truth to it but no actual truth to it at all.

When I was in college, I spoke four languages and was certain that I’d end up working for the Foreign Service.

Then I changed my mind and wanted to be a writer – ended up writing for several national publications including one of the first major articles on Windows NT versus Novell for Computer Shopper, and some travel articles for the New York Sun.

While doing this, I worked in the club industry and made a name for myself, which a few people still recognize me for.

1983 – 10 Years Old (and starting to get fat, hoo-boy, did I get even bigger)

Then I decided I wanted to build networks and ended up building a 100-seat computer network for a Fortune 600 company on Madison Avenue.

Then I went to law school to become a lawyer. Then I went to CNET and became their first International Sale Manager. Then I went back to being a lawyer.

Then I bought my building with some friends and became a building manager.

Then I got another degree and became one of only 350 people in the New York State with that degree while still working on my legal career. Somehow found myself lecturing on the law all over including Europe and New York. Even won an award.

I also started teaching kali on the sly just a block from my pad and started up a private jet company.

After Alison got sick, I gave up everything and became a cancer researcher, a caretaker, and then a father.

Somehow, in my late 40s, I also became a YouTuber and a gym owner.

Look, my point is that Fitzgerald was fulla shit.

You can be anything you want to be. You get to decide and no one else does.

I decided at 14 that I didn’t wanna be fat so I stopped being fat. It was as simple and as difficult as that.

Few things in life are actually difficult; the most difficult thing you’ll ever do is to decide to do something.

Everything else after that decision are just the particulars.

1993 – 20 Years old – My brother edited out the people next to me in this pic – in fact, he did all these pics. He’s crazy talented, that boy.

5. You’re the average of the five people you hang out with the most

This is dangerous – I speak from both personal experience and as a new father.

My greatest fear is that kid’ll meet some knuckleheads that get him into trouble.

Look, you choose your friends because they mirror some quality you have or desire. I don’t have any close friends that are, say, massive gamblers, because I’m not a massive gambler.

You don’t get to chose your family but you do get to choose your tribe. So, if the people that you hang out with are a buncha people that cheat on their partners alla time, you’re gonna become someone that chats on your partner.

If you’re the most successful person in your group, this is probably a bad thing, too. You need a better group.

This is one major reason why I didn’t want to continue some romantic relationships I was involved in; because, while they were usually fine, their friends weren’t the type of friends I wanted in my life.

Or my kid’s life.

Him: (a long time ago) I heard you two broke up, I’m sorry.
Me: It’s fine. There’s no tragedy that doesn’t have some positive bonus and the bonus here is that I literally never have to pretend to enjoy hanging out with her lame friends again.

This is why I’ve cut so many people outta my life – because I want to be around people that point me in the direction I want to go.

Speaking of bonuses, here’s a bonus tip.

2003 – 30 years old

Bonus: Sometimes, Logan, you gotta say, “Fuck it, I’m out.”

If you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most, then I’m grateful that Bryson’s one of my oldest and dearest friends – for a whole host of reasons.

He’s dangerous; he boxed with Dolph Lundgren, is a brown belt in BJJ under Fabio Clemete, is a black belt in shorin ryu karate, and is also a skilled Japanese fencer.

But, he’s also a great father and cook, married to a beautiful doctor, and helped build a buncha businesses that you’ve probably visited.

Most importantly, though, he’s a great human being. He’s the kinda guy I wanna be, so I try to hang out with him whenever I can.

And I want the boy to hang out with him too.

Years ago, I visited him and his then girlfriend (now wife) out in San Francisco and I was probably depressed when I met them.

I was struggling with whether or not to quit my job and also leave the girl I was seeing.

For the former, it was a great job but I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue being involved with it. The latter? Well, kinda the same thing.

I had all the mixed feelings of duty, loyalty, guilt, etc.

Him, his wife, their roomie, and I, somehow ended up on a boat in the middle of a lake where we got into a water gun fight with some group of people on another boat.

I got onto that boat confused and depressed and left it feeling..pretty good.

And it was because I started telling him alla these issues I had with the girl and that job and he listened, politely, and then simply said, Sometimes, Logan, you gotta say, “Fuck it.”

I added on the “I’m out” over the years.

The number of times I’ve said, Fuck it, I’m out, since that day has gotta be at least in the hundreds, if not thousands.

It’s an incredibly powerful statement and one that you can whip out at any time, in any situation.

Bad job? Bad relationship? Bad habits?

Fuck it, I’m out, is a perfect answer that leads directly to Tip 4, which is reinventing yourself.

But be careful, because it is so powerful. Use it with caution.

2013 – 40 years old

Once told you about this snippet of a Batman cartoon I watched when I was younger.

In it, a villain was trying to convince Bruce Wayne that Bruce was mad but Bruce/Batman fought back and won.

When his friend asked Bruce why he was so sure that he (Bruce) wasn’t crazy, he answered simply that the voices called him “Bruce.”

But that’s not what he called himself.

I’ve been many things I’ve been proud of. I think that, by the time you read this, Scenic Fights will either be at exactly 400,000 subscribers or close to it.

And I’ve got some big things happening in my life that I may or may not tell you about in the future.

But none of that matters, really. In my head, I’m the kid’s father. Full-stop.

If that ends up being the only thing that I’m known for, I’m ok with that.

Substitute teacher: And you are?
Me: (pointing at the kid) His father.
Her: (brightly) Oh! He’s a wonderful child! When I said that I was a substitute, he came up to me afterward and said that if I forgot anyone’s name, to ask him because he would tell me. He was my helper all day.
Me: (laughing) That’s awesome.
Her: He’s awesome!
Me: You’re not wrong, lady. You’re not wrong. (sighing) He takes after his mom.
Her: You two are lucky.
Me: (nodding) Yeah. Lucky us.

I’ve been alive for exactly 18,250 days.

I’ve only got 8,250 days left, if I’m…lucky.

Hopefully, I’ll keep writing and you’ll keep reading, yeah?

2023 – This is me on Saturday during our shoot, two days before I’m 50.

Location: earlier today, buying a $12 ice cream cone on Amsterdam for my favourite tiny human
Mood: ambitious
Music: Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, now. Don’t stop and watch the clock (Spotify)
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Logan’s 50: Five of my best life tips, Pt. 1

I like to kick, stretch, and kick!

Today is the oldest I’ve ever been.

That’s a joke, of course. But I did just turn 50 this past week, so it’s not quite as funny as it’s been in the past.

The pic above is of me when I was a few days old.

Man, it’s a kick in the head to get my mind around that I was once that infant in the picture above some 50 years ago.

Realize that I probably don’t look 50 to you, which is fine because I don’t look 50 to me.

In fact, when I think of 50, I think of Molly Shannon’s Sally O’Malley (who’s actually 58 in the clip below):

It’s funny because a lotta my friends tell me that they use me as an example of what 50 might be like for them.

This is my friend Hawk, who – like a lotta my friends – only texts me on my bday, but that’s fine, I’m always thrilled to hear from them.

Spent a lotta time wondering what I would write about to commemorate this momentous occasion and the best thing I could come up with was the five concepts that changed my life the most.

1. Invest in the S&P 500

One of my summer jobs in college was helping two accountants do paperwork for a company called Ziff-Davis, where I ended up working at after college. They asked me to come in on the weekend and said they’d buy lunch. As a poor college kid, that was enough, so I did.

While I was there, we got to talking about investing and they told me to just dump every spare cent I ever made into the S&P 500.

Basically, “S&P” is “Standard and Poor,” think of them like the New York Times, except they only report about companies. And one thing they do is list the 500 biggest companies – in terms of how much they’re worth –  at any given time.

When, say, Company 498 becomes Company 502, it’s kicked out, and some other company becomes 498.

A fella named John Bogle figured out that if you invested money evenly into each of the 500 companies, you’d end up making about 11.8% annually.

If you invested $1,000 a year for 50 years, you woulda “spent” $50,000 but you would end up with $2,505,311.97, or $2,455,311.97 profit.

There are hundreds of funds that track the S&P 500 for little or no money. 

Started doing that 30 years ago, when I was 20. My life woulda been radically different if I never took that weekend gig. 

Think they got me turkey club both days.

In any case, you should probably start investing ASAP, if you haven’t done it yet.

2. Do pushups – or something – every morning

I was a pretty fat kid from 10 to 14 – when I was 14, I was 5 foot 3 inches and 185 pounds with a 44-inch waist.

I went on a fast for four months – legit stopped eating, cold – and dropped down to 120 pounds and a 28-inch waist.

I’m now 50 years old with a 28-inch waist.

It all started when I stopped eating completely to reset my brain and started working out. When I first did it, I could barely do two pushups.

By the time I was 18, I was doing 100 pushups without issue. I just banged out 79 pushups in 60 seconds a few weeks ago.

Look, I don’t really do pushups anymore because I kept needing more. I’m in the gym like 10 hours a week these days.

You don’t gotta do pushups, you can do situps, you can run, you can walk for 30 minutes. Whatever.

But you gotta do something.

Otherwise, you’ll definitely look your age.

3. Learn to cook and stop eating stuff made by machines

OK, I admit that I eat quite a lotta things made by machines, like protein bars and stuff.

But I make sure that at least three out of every four meals I eat, I’ve made most of it myself.

This way, you know what you’re putting into your body.

When I was growing up, my main source of cooking knowledge was a fella called The Frugal Gourmetthis is the very video I saw to learn how to make chili.

But he turned out to be a pedophile – really – so alla his stuff disappeared and I turned to Alton Brown’s Good Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

As an aside, the bulk of my diet is beans and nuts, mainly peanut butter, honestly.

I found out that they sold five-pound jars of peanut butter but I’m more than half-way though one jar and it’s only been less than two weeks.

So, I bought another jar.

But that’s really neither here nor there…

I still have two more things to tell you, but I’ll do that tomorrow because it’s getting late and I don’t wanna mess up my sleep schedule any more than it already is.

And because it’s never too late to be better.

I’m trying to be better, even now.

We should all try to be better than we were yesterday.

Man, I could go for a turkey club right now…

Location: same place I’ve been for the past 18,250 days, here in NYC
Mood: hopeful
Music: I’m still me, who I was, who I’ve been, who I’ll always be
Since I was young
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Having all the parts

On the regular

The last few people I’ve dated, including the Firecracker, have been on the shorter side, which I find amusing.

Me: Man, you’re tiny. You’re like half a person.
Her: No, I’m not! I’m a whole person – I have all the parts.

I have most of my parts, but I’ve been worried about how some of them have been functioning lately – mainly my eyes.

My eyesight has been getting progressively worse since I got kicked in the head the night I covered class.

Rang up the doc that I saw a few weeks back and he told me to stop by his office again this past weekend.

One thing that I really like about him is that he runs a tight ship. Within 30 minutes of my arriving he, was already wrapping up the visit.

Him: Everything looks good, your retina is solid, and you just have a touch of cataracts.
Me: So why does everything look blurry?
Him: Ah, well, you’re developing monovision. That’s when one eye sees distance and one eye sees up close. Your right eye is now essentially for reading while your left eye is for seeing things far away.
Me: Whoa, that’s wild. Because I got kicked in the head?
Him: (nodding) But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Most people have to have surgery to get that, but you now have it naturally. I have it naturally myself and it’s why I don’t need glasses.

All-in-all, it was a relief.

It’s still weird to walk around and have things so blurry alla time. But he says that I have to practice looking at things far away with my right eye and reading with my left eye.

How hard can that be?

One thing that I found interesting was that, when I first met the doctor, I barely knew the Firecracker.

Now, I’d spent the last two months seeing/chatting with her on the regular.

Funny how life works.

Location: a small room, watching her eat an apple pie in her bed
Mood: wondering if I should eat an apple pie in my bed
Music: I’ve lost more than a heart could take (Spotify)
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Mortise locks

Locked outta the gym

Watching either my BJJ or kali instructor do their thing is always something impressive. It’s like they can read your mind and know what you’re going to do before you do.

It really just comes with experience and knowing what’s possible versus what’s probable. The longer you do something, the more you see what the likely outcomes to things are.

I’ve run my building for decades now. Think I first told you about it some 16 years ago but, really, I’ve been managing buildings with my dad since the 90s. Did my first big deal when I was a senior in high school.

Kinda like Trump and his dad but without the greed, lying, and closeted racism.

Because of that, I’ve seen the same mistakes happen time and time again.

One thing I’ve had the worst luck with is a specialized lock called a mortise lock. Up until recently – I’m guessing due to things AirBnB and people wanting higher-end stuff – it wasn’t very common here in the US but is super common in Europe.

Except in NYC where almost every building has these goddamn things.

They’re elegant but very confusing to people that have never used one before. Because one single lock with one single key controls three different types of locking mechanisms on a door; a single mortise locks:

      1. the knob itself
      2. a deadbolt built into the lock, and
      3. the latching lock.

To make things even more complicated, there’s an internal toggle that switches on the knob lock (number 4 in the diagram below). So, let’s just say that there are three “locks” in this single lock.

They’re mechanically beautiful and like most beautiful things, troublesome.

(c) Bella Maximum Security

It’s hard to explain but if you’re ever in NYC, just go to any old building and check out the locks. Chances are good, it’s a mortice lock.

Anywho, when Chad and I opened up the gym, I knew that this lock was gonna cause us problems.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to return to NYC after being in NJ with Alison or the reporter (who also lived in NJ) because someone got locked out due to one of the three locking systems of the mortise lock locking a tenant outta their pad.

So, I hooked up this very elegant wifi enabled lock to bypass the mortise lock entirely in the gym with the kicker being that we could unlock the lock anywhere in the world.

But the students kept yanking at the wifi lock, because it’s oddly shaped and some people thought it was a handle, breaking it.

Super frustrating.

Chad was mindful of costs, which I understand, and didn’t wanna replace the wifi lock and I was too busy to fight him on the matter.

Unfortunately, he got COVID earlier this week so people had to cover class. That part was fine. The issue arose when one of our buddies, Thundercat was helping around in the gym and locked all three of the locking mechanisms on the mortise and also locked the deadbolt we had the wifi lock attached to.

Obviously, he was trying to be helpful so it’s not like he did anything wrong per se. But since we never used the mortise, no one had a key for it.

Long story short, about 10 people, including my kali instructor, were standing outside for over an hour waiting for Chad – who was still sick with COVID and had to schlepp all the way from his warm bed – to come by with the one key necessary to open the lock. Poor guy.

He went up alone because he had COVID, and didn’t realize how the lock worked – again, not his fault either, look at that damn thing, hence my wanting to bypass it altogether with the tech solution – and told everyone to go home before I had a chance to say anything.

I wanted to take a look and expected that Thundercat broke the key in the lock because Chad couldn’t get it open but it turns out that it was just the trickiness of the lock itself.

By the time I opened the gym up, several people already left.

Honestly, I feel that I shoulda insisted on replacing the tech lock and sealing off the toggle of the mortise, which I finally did with athletic tape.

But it’s so hard to explain and I always figure it’s best to just let people figure things out for themselves.

Like I said, I’m upgrading my OS. I’m trying to focus on just making sure I’m working ok before I try to fix anything or anyone else.

Me: Put on your long socks.
Him: I don’t wanna.
Me: You gotta trust me on this, kid.
Him: I don’t wanna!
Me: [In my head: It’s raining. Which means you gotta wear your boots. If you wear your short socks, they’ll get pulled down in your boots, which means that you’ll keep stopping every five minutes to fix them, meaning we’ll be late for school] Hokay. But we’re not stopping for any reason.

He wears long socks when it rains now.

Location: yesterday night, telling people to not die on 18th Street
Mood: super tired
Music: You’re a good soldier, choosing your battles Tsamina mina, eh, eh Waka waka, eh, eh Tsamina mina zangalewa (Spotify)
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Upgrading my OS

I like it when we play 1950

Her: I’m sorry about your wife.
Me: So am I. All my gods look like her.
Her: What does that mean?
Me: Nuthin. (brightening) Let’s play a game…

It’s the first day of 2023.

I’m writing this on a computer that I first built when Alison was still alive and upgraded repeatedly, such that there’s nuthin left of the original computer, just like I talked about in my Ship of Theseus.

One thing that I did after the hack was to upgrade the operating system of that computer from Windows 10 to Windows 11, something I did with great reluctance.

Still working through the pros and cons of that, but I note that I went through Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 on this machine before finally arriving here.

Just like the philosophical exercise of the Ship of Theseus, the question remains if there’s anything left of the original computer that I originally built all those years ago.

Speaking of philsophy, this blog has, more than anything, been my own personal repository of how I see the world, kinda like Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations.

Suppose my operating system has always been based on German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who was introduced to me in my 20s by the Devil.

One of my earliest blog entries spoke about a quote that served me well my entire life: With increased intelligence comes increased capacity for pain.

When Alison, my dad, and another relative got sick – all at the same time – and I essentially gave up my career(s) to try (and fail) to save them, then lost Gradgirl and Mouse, I think that the truth of that statement is why I’m here writing you now.

Schopenhauer’s worldview was that life is, at its core, suffering.

Life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom. – Arthur Schopenhauer

At no point in this blog – through all the highs and lows – did my baseline OS change; it was always run on some variant of Schopenhauer.

And you know my feeling about those who’s worldview never changes. I can’t be a hypocrite.

All this, despite the fact that some baseline beliefs of his contradicted directly with my own heart’s desire.

For example, I’ve always wanted family and family, by definition, requires children. Yet Schopenhauer, like my billionaire buddy, feels that “Bearing children into this world is like carrying wood into a burning house.”

Schopenhauer, as the base operating system of my life, was ill-equipped to deal with the overwhelming sadness and despair of it all, for various reasons.

For example, Schopenhauer’s world view of Wille zum Leben respected love like one respects a dangerous animal, but it doesn’t deal with love, which I both respect and submit to.

To Schopenhauer, love is an illogical means to an important end: The extension of our very species.

I understand that but, having loved and lost in the profound ways I have, I think it’s an idealized version of what humans are actually capable of.

While it’d be nice to live a life purely pragmatically, the way humans are designed, it’s not practical. Because emotions exist and aren’t going away.

I need an OS that reflects that reality.

The Devil’s gone from my life and, while I appreciate all that he’s shown me in the world, the OS he helped build for me doesn’t work with who I am now, especially given all that’s happened.

Moreover, I want more for my son. Assuming that Schopenhauer was correct, and our universe is only what we experience through our mental facilities – our operating system – then I plan on giving my son the best one I can.

After close to 30 years of working on myself, I think that answer lies in Stoicism. Not “stoicism” with a lower-case “s,” rather the full philosophy of Zeno, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. – Marcus Aurelius

I don’t think, at all, that Schopenhauer was wrong, or that the last three decades of my life were wasted. Rather, I think that it’s served its purpose for what I needed for that time and that version of me. Now, I have a new purpose – the boy – and that requires a new way of thinking.

We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. – Seneca

It’s still early yet in all this. Just like it’s early in the new year.

But I spent the last month reexamining my life and need to discard the things that aren’t working for me anymore, if they ever did, and find things that do work.

Don’t think you’ll notice any drastic changes here, per se. Just little things for myself as I try to give myself and – by extension, the boy – the tools I’ll need to be the best version of myself.

Man conquers the world by conquering himself. – Zeno

I’m still me, but I wonder how much of who and what I am/was is still there or if I’m a completely new being altogether, just like this computer I type alla this out on.

On that note, let’s start the new year off with a song.

This is by a young woman named King Princess that my brother introduced to me a little while ago.

Can’t put my finger on it, but it always makes me dream that my life might be better than it is.

Maybe it’s the line that goes, “I will keep on waiting for your love,” which goes directly against Schopenhauer’s distant respect of the concept of love.

Because love’s not only something I respect, but also something I want – to both give and receive – so it’s worthy of patience and time.

Even if it never comes my way again.

Here’s to 2023 and changing for the better.

Her: (surprised) Why did you do that?
Me: (shrugging) Seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
Her: (laughing) OK. (pause) You can do it again.

Location: in the first hours of 2023, on W 97, wondering if we should sell our apartments and move to NJ
Mood: new(ish)
Music: I love it when you try to save me
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