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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My baby brother ran away

Goodnight, JoJo

My uncle died from COVID yesterday, just after noon. That’s him with my grandma and how I picture both of them in my head. I loved them both, very much.

My mother said the saddest thing when she told me. What she said in Chinese was, My little brother ran away.

That’s what broke me that day. He was my uncle, but he was her baby brother.

He was actually my favourite uncle because he always seemed thrilled to see us. He owned and operated a Carvel in NJ for decades and none of us ever saw him without coming back with a cooler full of ice cream.

The mayor of that town wrote a nice little something about him.

He was as good and decent a human being as the universe allows, just like my mom and everyone else from her family.

He didn’t deserve to die and certainly not like this. COVID. But I suppose that’s true for the vast majority of the people that die from this stupid virus.

His family – my cousins and aunt – are grieving because this came out of left field for them.

It’s not my story to tell so I’ll stop here.

As for me, I feel a tremendous amount of guilt. Because, while I grieve for my uncle’s death, I really grieve more for Alison’s.

You see, whenever some tragedy happens, you also get some bullshit bonus.

Like if you lose your job, the bullshit bonus might be that you can’t pay rent and also get kicked outta your apartment.

Or if you crash and destroy your car, the bullshit bonus might be that you can’t walk again.

The bullshit bonus that my uncle’s family has to deal with is stuff like who’s gonna manage the store and how are they gonna to set up the funeral?

I know this because I dealt with things like that too. I wasn’t ready. No one ever is.

This fucking cancer took so much from me, from my family.

Actually, it took my family.

I laughed when I wrote that last sentence. Because what else can one do?

That’s why it’s bullshit and why it’s bonus: Cause more just randomly shows up at your doorstep when you least expect it.

The bullshit bonus I hate the most is that I don’t grieve like normal people.

When my dad died, I felt like…20% of what I should have felt for this man I loved and that loved me so. I was his boy and he was my dad.

But all I could think was, “At least he lived longer than Alison.”

How. Fucked. Up. Is. That?

I loved my old man. God, I loved him. Like a fat kid loves cake.

And yet, all I could think about was all that Alison had been cheated out of. The same for Fouad. Nick. Kirk. My Uncle Jay. And now my Uncle Nelson, whom I used to call JoJo.

It’s not right. It’s not fair.

They deserved to be more than mirrors and magnifying glasses to Alison and yet, that’s all I can muster. And the guilt from that is just more bullshit bonus.

I’m rambling. I’m sorry.

Everything’s fucked up and nothing’s right in my head anymore. Nothing’s been right since November 2015.

My uncle took us all fishing once, when I was a kid.

I remember being so deliriously happy that day and I thought he was the coolest guy ever. He deserved so much more than this.

Son: You’re thinking of mommy.
Me: Yes. I’m thinking of family. How did you know?
Him: You went (breathes deeply)
Me: (nodding) You’re a smart boy.
Him: Are you sad?
Me: Now, how sad could I be? I have you.

Location: hell
Mood: guilty
Music: Get back to where you once belonged(Spotify)

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Remember who survives

Dissected and discussed

Him: What’s wrong?
Me: Papa’s seen things like this before, and it’s…it’s never good.
Him: Are you scared?

We were doing his math problems when I stopped and watched the news.

Copyright AP

When 9/11 went down, I remember almost every minute of it. I called my brother and woke him up, much to his annoyance. But that annoyance turned to horror and disgust once he and I slowly realized what was happening.

Together, on the phone, our worlds changed. I was glad to have shared that moment with him.

Copyright AP

I felt that today watching the television with my son. That disgust and horror, knowing that I was watching history unfold with him – something that will be dissected and discussed for years, decades, centuries to come.

And he and I saw it together.

And yet, for all the lessons of history, it’s always the mindless mob that repeats it, again, and again, and again.

Copyright AP

But, I was glad to have shared this with my family. Just as I was glad to share the horrors of 9-11 with my brother.

I feel I owe this boy all the knowledge I’ve accumulated in my otherwise unremarkable life. That’s the debt I owe him as his father, what all good parents owe their children.

It’s sad, the lesson I gave him today was one that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to tell him until years from now. But I suppose he saw the unease on my face.

Me: I’m concerned. There’s a difference. Lions are bigger and stronger then people. So are bears and…giraffes (Editor’s note: I wasn’t ready for this conversation, giraffes were the only big thing I could think of besides whales – I shoulda said whales). But people are always the most dangerous because we can out think alla them. The smarter you are, the safer you are. Remember that. Remember who survives. The intelligent survive.

Copyright AP

Location: home, watching the tube like it was porn. Which I suppose it is.
Mood: horrified
Music:
Do you believe in what you see?
(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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Why are you always naked?!

Settlers of Hawaiian Pizza

Me: Your two favourite Lo’s will be there.
Mouse: To be fair, she’s my favourite one.

Before Alison got sick, for the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, I would get dressed up in my best suits and go to two-to-five parties a week.

It’s how I’d meet new clients for the coming year and also catch up with old clients and friends.

I still can’t get into the mindset of working full-time again – especially since the kid’ll be back permanently in the next few weeks, but I did try to take some time to catch up with people.

Like I said, I saw my cousin earlier last month:

Ras: People should eat what they want. Leave the Hawaiian pizza alone.
Me: Great, now I want a Hawaiian pizza.
Her: We’re already eating!
Me: It’s early, yet.

Oh, she passed her test, btw. This is good because it means I can probably borrow money from her at some point.

I also tried to see some of my college friends but we weren’t able to make it happen.

Duck: Hey, Logan. SJ bailed. I’m running around too. Let’s reschedule when we’re all available?
Me: OK, for sure.

Saw my buddy from around the way for some Vietnamese food. Not sure about his opinion as to Hawaiian pizza.

Him: What do you suggest?
Me: Pretty much everything. The sandwiches are killer.
Him: I just had a sandwich for lunch.
Me: Noodles it is then.

Hadn’t spoken to Chad in a bit so I rang him up. On video. Need to rethink doing that.

Chad: Logan, you can’t just video chat me outta the blue. I need a heads up.
Me: Why are you always naked, Chad?!
Him: I’m a free spirit, Logan!

Although, he should just decline the call, honestly.

He ended up stopping by for a round of Settlers of Catan with Mouse and me. He came close to winning but Mouse took the trophy in the end.

Me: I did not plan this out well.
Her: That’s what happens when you don’t pay attention.

I gotta start paying attention to things again.

Location: my empty apartment, taking care of a patient
Mood: fulla pro- and pre-biotics
Music: one more ride, baby, here we go (Spotify)
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The unexamined life

Building walls

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

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

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

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

But he took it and ran with it.

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

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

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

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

That was the emergency.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funny thing is that they both defriended me.

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

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

The truth becomes grotesque.

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

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

Eh, I don’t blame them.

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

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

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You’re in danger

Tasting our own medicine

Him: Are you serious, you’re not gonna let your kid play tug-of-war?
Me: Yup.
Him: That’s nuts.
Me: Did you eat lunch yet?
Him: (puzzled) Not yet, why?
Me: Good, Google “tug of war fatalities.” And, if you haven’t eaten yet, click on images.

People don’t realize when they’re in danger.

If COVID has shown me anything, it’s that people do shockingly dumb things because they don’t understand that some rules cannot be broken.

For example, the rule of gravity; we all follow it, at a rate of 9.8 meters per second, per second.

We all age at a rate of 1,440 minutes a day.

But societal rules based on scientific rules for similarly mundane but dangerous things – like covering up your face during a pandemic – seem to be a mystery to people.

Take potential energy, for example. Potential energy is merely energy that could happen, versus kinetic energy, which is energy actually happening.

When you’re playing tug-of-war, you have no idea how much potential energy is being amassed by a piece of rope that – were is sentient – would be like, “The hell are you guys doing? Are you insane?”

The amount of force being applied to what is conceivably a comparatively tiny single point of failure is pretty mind boggling. Now, most of the time, if the rope holds, it’s just fun and games. But, if the rope fails?

Well, click here (super graphic) or here (less graphic) and you can see.

One thing that I’ve been learning with Chad is noticing when I’m in danger while wrestling. It’s an interesting way of looking at something I’ve been doing for years.

Him: Logan, stop doing that. You’re in danger here. You shouldn’t be in attacking mode, you should be in defending mode. You need to know where you are.

That alone seems to have improved my game substantially.

I think there’s a lot of life lessons to be learned everywhere. You just have to follow the rules.

On a related/unrelated point, I meet lots of people that I don’t even start relationships with, because I know it won’t go anywhere. Business, romantic, whatever.

In those scenarios, at least, I know when I’m in danger.

I suppose that’s why I always prefer being the dumpee than the dumper; I never was one for hurting others.

Besides, tasting your own medicine’s never a bad thing, I think. It keeps you from becoming cruel.

OK, “never” may be too strong a word.

Her: I got you something, it’s a supplement that might help with all your health issues.
Me: Thank you – you’re very sweet.
Her: No need for thanks. Especially once you try it.
Me: OK, here goes nuthin…(later) Gah! Do you hate me?!
Her: (laughs)

Podcast Version
Location: upstairs, watching an AC being installed in 2B
Mood: hungry
Music: I’m used to ripping hearts out (Spotify)
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How JFK killed the hat industry

The president leads

A cornerstone of this blog is that communication isn’t what you say, it’s what the listener hears. That’s because this is my blog and that’s a cornerstone of my life.

Above’s a picture of JFK’s presidential inauguration. Look at the men in the crowd of the picture. What do you see?

Hats. Dudes wore hats back then. Period.

But now, check out Johnson’s inauguration pic just a few years later. Notice that, while there are hats, there are a lot fewer of them.

What happened?

The answer’s pretty simple; JFK generally didn’t wear hats. And dudes that saw him walk around without a hat thought – consciously or unconsciously – Well, if he’s not wearing a hat, I’m not gonna wear one either.

Did JFK purposely go out of his way to single-handedly destroy the hat-making industry in America? Probably not. But that’s what happened.

Unintended consequences and alla that.

I’ve been noticing that the deep red people I know are suddenly fixated on China as the evil empire – which it is, for sure – when they never previously posted anything about it before.

Similarly, wearing a mask has become a political statement versus a simple safety measure.

I also note that Trump has generally not worn a mask and that the US now leads the world in COVID-19 rates and deaths.

To say that JFK destroyed the hat industry is to simply go back and piece together facts.

To say that Trump killed his fellow Americans by the thousands is probably similarly accurate, although only time will tell.

As for me, I’m glad that JFK didn’t wear hats because, with my huge head, I’d probably block out the sun.

Podcast Version
Location: Battery Park City, seeing about a girl
Mood: hot, hot heat
Music: I’m just gonna go out (Spotify)
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Cleaning the darkness around us

Magic Soap

Her: Did…did you just wash the fruit with hand soap?
Me: Yeah. It’s fine.
Her: It’s not! You can’t do that!

People are often horrified when they see me wash fruits and vegetables – all fruits and vegetables – with my foaming hand soap. What they don’t know is that I use castile soap, which is made from vegetables and safe to use on pretty much everything.

If you’ve ever been out at a store, you’ve probably seen the most famous one, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. I tend to buy the peppermint one.

Bronner had an interesting and tragic life.

He was a jew born in Germany and, when the Nazis took power, he implored his family to leave with him to America. But his parents felt they were German – Jewish Germans but still Germans. They refused to believe that they were in danger in their own home country so he left alone.

The last he heard from them was a single postcard from his father that simply read:

You were right. – Your loving father.

His parents were murdered by a country they loved that didn’t love them back.

What a terrible thing, to realize that a country – or anything – you love, not only doesn’t love you back, instead, wishes you and your family harm.

I’ve always been fascinated by bright things that emerge, directly or indirectly, from dark origins. The hope is always that some good can come from something awful and tragic.

It’s the hope, at least.

Random thought for a random day.

I hope you all stay safe. And I hope you’re all loved by someone or something that you love.

Me: Honestly, it’s fine. You gotta trust me on this.

Podcast Version
Location: my kitchen, popping painkillers
Mood: contemplative
Music: tell me if you love me or not (Spotify)
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