Adjusting to the world

Oh, and I have gout

Well, I’ve hit a new middle-aged milestone: I have gout.

Essentially, for almost every meal, I have cabbage, avocados, or spinach and beef, lamb, or sardines every single day.

In fact, I just made the ABFF and the kids some corned beef and cabbage for St. Patty’s this AM.

Never really thought much of this until I woke up in ridonk pain at 4PM the other day.

I needed to see a doc but I wasn’t comfortable bringing the kid to the medemerge – which I saw exactly a year earlier and got COVID.

Not knowing what else to do, I gave Chad a ring.

Him: I’m already on my way.

Now that’s a friend.

On that note, here he is breaking down Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I hobbled to the doctor’s and, after a buncha questions, x-rays, and whatnot, gout was the conclusion.

Oddly, the reason for it may have more to do with my intermittent fasting per a video my buddy Aric sent me.

All in all, it was not a great day.

The few days before that weren’t any great shakes either.

Me: You did what?!
Son: Are you mad?
Me: I don’t think the word “mad” fully captures the range of emotions I’m feeling right now, boy.

Some people think I push the kid too hard; others, not hard enough. I figure that this means I’m probably doing ok. But we do have these types of convos:

Him: I don’t need to know how to do that, you’ll do it for me.
Me: For now. But you need to learn how to do it yourself.
Him: Why?
Me: People are valued for their skills; the more skills you have, the more valuable you are. The less skills you have, the less valuable the world considers you.

If being a parent has taught me anything, it’s a profound respect for my own parents.

I realize now, how difficult it must have been for them as two very young foreigners (20something and 30something) in a foreign land raising three children while being immigrant poor.

I have one kid and live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I still feel like I’m struggling.

Yet it’s still some of the most interesting work I’ve ever done. It forces me to question whether or not I truly understand the world as it is.

Him: Why is fire hot?
Me: I never thought about it. Let’s look it up.

On a deeper level, what I see lacking the most in the world is critical thinking, which is analyzing a given set of facts and making sense of them.

The pitfalls are:

    • Poor data
    • Poor analysis
    • Poor conclusions
      • Poor actions based on the conclusion

I see people mess up at least one, sometimes all four, at least once a day.

And the biggest problem with people is that they think that the world adjusts to their level of skill, rather than the adjusting their level of skill to the world.

My parents wanted us to get accolades – A+s and Ivy Leagues – and I get that. But what I want for the boy is much more modest, I want him to have general life skills coupled with an ability to critically think.

The most unsuccessful, lonely people, are those that expect certain things of the world and are angry that the world doesn’t match their expectations.

I get that, more than most.

But, at the end of the day, the world doesn’t care what we want or hope, only how we respond to it.

Him: Why do I have to learn this?
Me: Because the world doesn’t adjust to your level of skill. So you have to do it the other way around. 

Location: earlier today, by the ABFF’s
Mood: discomforted
Music: I’m the same kid – so why’s the mirror say I’m not? (Spotify)
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Bright-line rules

Life is easier when decisions are made for you

Him: Regular shipping is free but it’ll take 7-12 days to get to you.
Me: What about 2-day shipping?
Him: That’ll cost as much as the sled.
Me: OK, I’ll take that, please.
Him: Are you sure? You might get it as soon as five days.
Me: I’m sure. Thank you.

Ended up ordering a sled via express mail; it was an astronomical sum to pay for a $10 slab of plastic. But I promised the kid I’d get him one before all the snow melted so I had to keep my promise.

When I was nearly broke after college, my roommate Joe asked me to deliver an envelope to someone and made me promise that I would. I did and ended up losing it.

Him: There was $3,500 in it, Logan!
Me: I’ll get it back to you by tomorrow.
Him: (shakes head) You’re gonna get me $3,500 tomorrow? How?
Me: I’ll find a way.

And I did.

The hows and whys are a wholly different story, but I kept my word.

Handed him an envelope the very next day with $3,500 in it in 1998, when $3,500 meant something.

Ate tuna fish for about a year afterward and I was known as the guy in law school that always had a can of tuna fish in his bag.

Still can’t really eat tuna fish all that much.

I think this is all because of that story about Apollo and his son I told you about a while back. I remember reading that and wanting to be a person of my word, no matter the cost. I would draw the line at my son’s life, but up to that…

Years ago, Rain – who argued with me as much as anyone – got drunk once and told everyone that if he had one call in jail in Panama, he would call me. Because he knew that, if I told him I’d take care of it, it’d be taken care of.

Your reputation is your brand and I try to stay on-brand as much as possible, because it defines me to everyone else, but also because it defines me to me.

Our reputations bring us places.

It also just makes life a lot easier because my rules are bright lines that tell me the choice that I have to make. I have no say in the matter.

After Alison died, I was a shell of the person I once was but my rules helped me operate when I could only operate at fractional capacity.

If that.

Spent the past few days making up for the day I didn’t have the sled. Today, while we were out, I met a young Asian father with two kids sledding down the hill on a pizza box.

Me: Hey, man, do you wanna borrow my sled? I was in your exact situation just a few days ago.
Him: (walking towards me) Oh, that’s really kind of you. (leaning in, lowering voice) Actually, I’m going to decline because…
Me: (interrupting) COVID?
Him: (laughing, whispering) Ah, yeah, no. I just don’t want them to know how good a real sled is because I don’t think I can get one for them.
Me: (nodding) I get it.
Him: Thanks though, you’re the only one that offered.
Me: No problem. Lemme know if you change your mind.

He didn’t. As for the kiddo, after a few rough sled rides, I insisted that he wear a helmet – also courtesy of Cappy.

Eventually, he got the hang of everything.

Me: Do you like your sled?
Son: I love it! Thank you.
Me: You’re welcome. I always keep my promises. Remember that, kid. Be someone that people can trust.
Him: OK, papa!

Location: earlier today, this perfect hill
Mood: much better
Music: Thought I couldn’t live without you(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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You get to decide

World Class

For the handful of readers that’ve been reading me since the beginning, I started this blog because I was dating this fairly well-known reporter and we broke up.

I thought I loved her, the way 20-somethings think love is like.

We had moments when I thought we might get back together but it wasn’t really what either of us really wanted. It wasn’t really her fault, I wasn’t a great boyfriend to her.

The ex, back when I was young and had a lotta hair.

I wanted Alison and I spent the next two years looking for her. When I met her, I was a lot nicer to her than the reporter because she was what I actually wanted.

Alison was everything I ever really wanted, actually. But that’s neither here nor there.

I mentioned to a friend that Jeff Bezos went to Princeton to study theoretical physics. The problem was that he was good at it.

Just like I was a good boyfriend to the reporter. I just wasn’t a great boyfriend to her. And Jeff Bezos wasn’t a great theoretical physicist.

The day Jeff Bezos realized that he was only ever going to be a good theoretical physicist was the day he started to become something great.

Asked another friend if he recognized anyone from the that picture you see above.

Him: Not really.
Me: Look at the fella in the middle. In the red sequins. That’s Dr. Dre.
Him: Holy shit!

Dr. Dre was part of a boy band called World Class Wreckin’ Cru (along with DJ Yella) and they sang funk. But WCWC was only ever going to ok – good-enough.

And Dre wanted to be great. He’s almost a billionaire right now. Even if you didn’t like NWA, or The Chronic, you probably like Beats headphones.

I told two people today that their setbacks might be setting them up for what they were really meant to be. Who they were really meant to be.

After all, you can’t shoot an arrow unless you draw it back first.

Alison’s favourite author was F. Scott Fitzgerald who once said: There are no second acts in American lives.

I always loved Alison and always hated Fitzgerald. Onea the reasons is that quote, which is fulla shit.

Him: I’ve been thinking a lot about who I used to be and I don’t want to be that guy anyone. I don’t think I can be.
Me: Good. This is your chance to be the person you know you can be. You get to decide what your life is like.

I only got to live the life I always wanted for five days.

But, I suppose that there are people out there that didn’t even get that.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Podcast Version
Location: early this morning, having some rum with my coffee
Mood: not well
Music: On silver stars I wish and wish and wish (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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Who am I?

SLBs

BrightBea’s 15 years younger than me. She’s at a cross-roads in her life.

Me: That makes sense. You reassess everything when you turn 30. You’ll do it again when you turn 40.
Her: So, it’s every 10 years?
Me: Well, you’re biologically a different person every 10 years. Have you ever heard about the Ship of Thesus?

I wrote once about it. Essentially, almost every single cell in your body is replaced every 10 years. Such that you’re literally and figuratively, not the same person you were 10 years ago.

Now, what if you changed your mindset too? Got rid of every negative habit and embraced only positive habits? Who would you be then?

For an added layer of complexity, it turns out that people are actually only 43% human. The other 57%? Not human.

All that, coupled with the potentiality of an influx of life-changing ideas and interactions means that we have the ability to reinvent ourselves better than ever, each and every day.

The reasons why people don’t improve?

I think the main things that hold us back are Self-Limiting Beliefs. Beliefs we think and believe to be true that shackle us, regardless of whether or not they are – actually – true.

I realized recently that the past five years have been a series of SLBs born of the awful experiences I had. I was letting them control me for far too long, and forgetting who I am and what I’m capable of.

Her: Whatever happened to your ex?
Me: Why do you care?
Her: (shrugging) Making conversation.
Me: (sighing) In a nutshell, we were always either taking our weapons out or our clothes off. We were always too busy looking for higher ground to find middle ground.
Her: (smiles) I like how you talk. And?
Me: There’s no “and.” You’re here for a reason. Besides, that’s her story, not yours.
Her: (laughing) What’s my story?
Me: I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

Podcast Version
Location: my empty apartment, after Chad and She came by for dinner
Mood: hopeful, still
Music: love ain’t simple (Spotify)
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Batman, rabbits, deer…

…and bright red leather jackets

Chuck: Nice (bright red leather) jacket.
Me: Oh, thanks. I had it made years ago. Finally started wearing it again.
Him: Do they make it for men?
Me: Evidently not!

Batman was once asked why he wore a bright yellow bat on his chest.

The lawyer in me knows it was done for trademark reasons but the writers came up with a rather ingenious reason; because criminals would aim for his protected chest rather than his unprotected head.

That’s something straight outta nature.

If you look at some rabbits and deer, they have bright, white tails. So, when they’re chased by predators, they’re easily seen and chased.

That is, until they turn. Then the pursuer loses sight of the bright white tracker and, by extension, the prey.

Told a buddy of mine recently that a large part of life is separating signal from noise. What’s important and what’s merely misdirection?

I think I’ve been paying attention to distractions more than anything for the past while.

But, since I’ve recovered from COVID, it’s like someone turned up the volume and brightness on my life again because I see things so much more clearly than before.

On the flip side, as I see things more clearly, I miss the boy all that much more.

Oh, he graduated this week from Pre4K! It was far more emotional for me than I’d expected.

Which, I suppose, I should’ve expected.

Son: Will you come see me? I miss you.
Me: Then I’ll see you soon. I just can’t rent a car right now.
Him: You could take a train. Or get a ride with Auntie. I know! You could take a bus.
Me: (laughing) Don’t worry, I’ll get to you. Papa’ll find a way.

Oh, Chad and I have a new Scenic Fights Video up – this time, Chad’s breaking down the Jiu Jitsu in Donnie Yen’s Special ID.

Podcast Version
Location: home, looking up train schedules
Mood: homesick
Music: doesn’t matter how you get to me, just get to me (Spotify)
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There’re only two types of people in the world

Hoi polloi

Podcast Version

Assuming, arguendo, that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, who are you spending your 27,000 days with?

If that’s too complex a question, then who are you spending quarantine with?

Are they wildly successful, dangerous, hyper-intelligent people? Or the regular hoi polloi? There’s nuthin wrong with average people, per se, except that average people tend to just make you average.

Who you spend time with is why you sit where you sit and someone else sits where they sit.

Ideally, you want to be able to sit at any table you want.

Years ago, I realized that I was hanging out with people that weren’t going anywhere with their lives. Most were fine, they were looking to get into some middle-level white collar job, make six-figures in some name-brand firm, and provide a good life for themselves and their kids.

Nuthin wrong with that.

But, at the time, I wanted to be amazing. And I took a hard look at the people that I spent the most amount of time with. I wanted:

      • friends that were wildly successful, physically (Health)
      • friends that were wildly successful, financially (Wealth)
      • friends that were wildly successful, socially (Relationships)

So, I got rid of the dead weight and added on people that could help me be who I knew I could be.

The thing is, I genuinely like and appreciate alla these friends. But, you gotta care about someone, why not have it be someone that’s at the top of their game?

Pac joked once that I have a need to be a mentor and that’s not wholly accurate. What I have is an internal desire for equity; to wit, I feel a need to pay it forward.

Chad’s been coming by lately and teaching me BJJ; in return for a much lower hourly rate, I help him understand finances.

Me: …and that’s compound investing.
Him: (quiet) Wow. I never knew that. I’m blown away.
Me: (nodding) To paraphrase Denzel: There’re only two types of people in the world. The trained and the untrained. Be trained.

I met someone else, who lives in the middle of nowhere Brooklyn, recently whom I teach more general things about relationships and health.

Me: Try to eat mainly protein, fat, and fiber and stay outta the sun.
Her: Why?
Me: Do you know Shaquille O’Neal?
Her: Of course, why?
Me: He’s one year older than I am. I’m 47.
Her: (surprised)
Me: (nodding) Try to eat mainly protein, fat, and fiber and stay outta the sun. Here’s a vocabulary book I read as a kid. It’ll help you with your career when the world starts again.

Podcast Version
Location: Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn
Mood: ambitious
Music: Don’t want to sing mad songs anymore (Spotify)
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Mixed Signals

Don’t give up your back

Just a little distraction from the state of affairs in the world right now.

(Earlier in May)

Him: Where are you right now?
Me: In my head again.
Him: Past, present, or future?
Me: Past. Like always.
Him: You’ve gotta shake that off, Logan. Life is forward.
Me: Fear is forward.

I didn’t drink at all for the past few days. Mainly because I’ve been taking painkillers like popcorn causea my foot and now knee (long story).

But, it’s allowed me to think a lot more clearly. Plus, I’ve had some help from some old, and unexpected, friends.

One was the Sexologist/Jill McDevitt who posted this picture recently.

Life’s been giving me a lotta mixed-signals lately and her pic helped me decide which one to listen to. It helped that I saw it after the 24th.

Oh, if you were ever wondering, she got hitched to a really nice fella and they moved on over to sunny California.

At a time when she was struggling, Jill still managed to send Alison and me a little something to help us back when Alison was sick.

Anyone that was kind to my family, I owe a debt to.

Jill’s always been one of the kindest people I’ve had the good fortune to meet. You can keep up with her here.

The other is an old, but younger, friend of mine, who found out a few things about me recently.

Me: I could teach you stuff but it’ll make you different. People don’t like different. So, you have to learn to hide a lotta things.
Him: I already see how different everything is now. Things make more sense. I want to understand.
Me: (nodding) Then I’ll help you understand. But be careful. Understanding things doesn’t always make things better, it can make some things worse. Ignorance does have it’s benefits. But I’ll show you, if you really want. And if, one day, you find out something terrible about me, I hope you remember that I told you that I’d done terrible things before and forgive me. (sighing) Everyone wants to be forgiven for the shitty things they’ve done.

The last was the old friend from above.

Him: What is it you always say, Logan? “Don’t give up your back?” If you’re in the past, what are you doing but giving up your back?
Me: It’s the same old story. Trying to figure out what’s signal and what’s noise.

Podcast Version
Location: home, icing my knee
Mood: hungry
Music: here we are and we’re still counting stars (Spotify)
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It’s something

Rolling around my apartment

You’ll be seeing my coach Chad in this blog a lot while we’re on lockdown for two simple reasons: (1) We’re both totally alone, and (2) we both miss doing what we do.

Him: I’m 180 right now.
Me: I’m 155, but I’ve definitely traded muscle for fat. Do you wanna come over and roll? I’m dying to roll. Plus, I’m 99.9% sure that I can’t give you COVID. No promises though.
Him: (thinking) Let’s do it.

Honestly, having the COVID antibodies is maxing out my social card in really unexpected ways. I digress.

He’s easing into actual and virtual privates and cut me an amazeball deal for the first couple of lessons since I’m his first private student post pandemic.

It’s always good to be first.

I went down via the Hudson River Greenway to get him a helmet and sunglasses so he could rent a Citibike.

He’d never done it before. While we were getting his bike, Chad turned around.

Him: Hey, look!

It was an old gym buddy of ours that was just jogging to get a workout in. We chatted for a bit before we headed up to my pad.

It was a beautiful day and he’d never ridden a bike in the city before so I led the way and showed him a few sights too. Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.

Him: Man, that was awesome.

Once we got in, we got cleaned up and I laid out the mats. They’re the kid’s mats but he’s not here and we’re pretty desperate.

As soon as they were down, Chad immediately got down on them and started rolling around.

I had to laugh. Like I told him, in a world where bullshit is the norm, the truth is refreshing; he was like a kid in a candy store. He’d not been on a mat in almost two months.

Me: You’re like Aquaman back in the water for the first time in months.
Him: (rolling upside-down) Oh man, this feels so good.

We rolled for only a little bit; maybe just over an hour? My knee was bothering, as usual, and I easily ran out of breath.

Me: While I’m cooking, can you clean the mats? You know what a germaphobe I am.
Him: No problem.

We then devoured two large bowls (each) of pasta. Afterward, I lent him a bike to head back down so he didn’t have to rent another Citibike.

Me: We’ll do this again when the weather’s good?
Him: For sure.

It’s not our normal routine but, it’s something.

I suppose right now, “it’s something,” is a far better than a whole lotta nuthin.

Me: Man, I’m glad we did this; I was gonna be a chubster for sure. Not that anyone would see it.
Him: Yeah, but still, this is great.


Admin edit:

Chad Andrew Vaźquez and I have gotten some feedback about our training – from people concerned about our safety and those around us, which we appreciate – and I wanted to address it.

Yes, we understand that my having the antibodies is not dispositive that I’m immune, but it’s a calculated risk and one that the country is currently relying on since a vaccine isn’t ready for at least a year. Yet all states – including NY and CA – are slowly opening again.

In for a penny, in for a pound, I say: Either having the antibodies confers *some* safety, so we open things up carefully, or they don’t, and we stay in lockdown.

Chad and I are picking what the (reasonable) leaders are picking.

Note that he’s *only* actually rolling with me, as I’ve documented antibodies, and offering virtual privates (via video) to others. Neither he nor I are around any high-risk groups and we continue with the standard social distancing protocols out there.

/edit

 

Podcast Version: It’s Something
Location: my empty apartment, which had company for just a bit
Mood: exhausted
Music: Busy doing damage, instead of repairing you and I (Spotify)
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