Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mermaid Ally

My closest friends know I have a totem, a spirit guide. An archetype that connects to me on a deep level. My totem is the mermaid.

A dear friend, Suzanne, just sent me the mermaid item shown above. It delights me. She also sent me a mermaid pin. Friends like Suzanne are precious gems: they see you for who you are and offer real support.

Tomorrow I'm going to wear a dress found shopping with Sheila in Victoria. To accent it, I'll wear a big, colorful mermaid necklace. The dress is pretty but plain; the necklace spices it up to the max. Their combination expresses me perfectly.

The first known mermaid stories appeared in Assyria around 1000 BC. Goddess Atargatis, mother of Queen Semiramis, loved a mortal man and accidentally killed him. Ashamed, Atargatis jumped into a lake and took the form of a fish -- but the waters could not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid, human above the waist and fish below.

Do you like mermaids?

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Only Way To Fly

I never thought I'd own my own private jet -- but that was before Bitcoin. Now I don't have to endure crowds, airport lines and waiting with the hoi polloi.

Just kidding! My friend Jason is a commercial pilot and today he showed me one of the places he works (Republic Airport in Farmingdale). Jason escorted me "behind the curtain" into restricted areas open only to those with visible credentials. We inspected a variety of private aircraft and had lunch. Jason is one of the coolest dudes around and knowing him has perks. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sheila's View

Sheila did a nice blog-post on her view of our time together. It's here. Go take a look.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

More Victoria

Canadians give me hope for the future of our species. In public, they are polite and behave in civilized manner. This morning a group of teenage rugby-players in my hotel lined up at a coffee-stand. They paid attention and made sure everyone was being treated fairly. The idea of cutting the line (which would have been easy to pull off) was inconceivable to them. Such a contrast to many of my country's citizens.

Sheila is continuing to demonstrate her superior tour-guide talent. With supernatural ability, she reads my mind about what will make me happy and steers me to those places and activities. It's uncanny.

A delight of this trip is the wide range of experiences I'm having. Seeing natural beauty, encountering wildlife, visiting natural history and art exhibitions at a phenomenal museum, and socializing with a group of friendly Canadians introduced to me by my generous host. The trip is a home-run. Or, more appropriately, a hockey goal!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

First Big Trip of the Year

I'm heading out Thursday for my first big trip of the year. To a place called Vancouver Island which lies off the west coast of Canada. 

Vancouver Island is completely cut off from mainland Canada: there are no bridges or tunnels connecting it. The only ways to reach the island are seaplanes and ferries. The island is physically large but has only 800,000 inhabitants, half of which live in a city I'm visiting (Victoria). I'm told the natural beauty of the island is stunning.

As improbable as this sounds, I have two good friends who live there, Sheila and Darlene. The three of us will gather on Friday to meet and have fun. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, April 8, 2018


Cars. They're not as exciting as motorcycles but I'm learning they do have some appeal. Especially if you take them to the racetrack.

I've picked out my next car: a McLaren 570S. Its bold styling give the beast an edge to my second-choice, the Porsche 911 GTS. Both can be driven on the street and the track. In fact, I'm heading down to Atlanta later this year to drive the Porsche at their famous private racetrack. That experience comes with an instructor who teaches you how to extract maximum performance from the vehicle.

Did you know there's a distinction between "sports cars" and "super-cars"? The former are fast vehicles; the latter are limited-production jewels hand-crafted by storied manufacturers. Super-cars are beyond the reach of most drivers: their least-expensive models run around half a million bucks.

What is the world's most expensive car? Probably the Bugatti Chiron with a price-tag of $3 Million. Despite the improbability of our ever owning one, it can be fun to admire the height of automotive art. I won't bore you with stats. Bugatti says they aren't focused on mere speed, they want to deliver an enjoyable overall experience. That said, the car can hit 261 mph before a limiter turns off power. The styling of the car is quite arresting. (See picture above.) The car doesn't come with a bodyguard but I would want one; who'd park this expensive masterpiece anywhere in public?

Bugatti has sold every Chiron it plans to build until late-2021. Who buys them? The profile is very sharp: self-made men who appreciate quality and uniqueness. The average customer already owns about 30 other cars. Obviously they are not like you and me. At least not yet...

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nina Simone

I just saw a terrific documentary about one of my favorite artists, Nina Simone. The movie ("What Happened, Miss Simone?") was nominated for an Oscar and accurately portrays a complex character. (It can be seen on Netflix.)

Nina Simone (1933-2003) was classically-trained in piano and became popular for soulful songs in the 1950's. Her life, however, was troubled and her career tumultuous. I've long been attracted to Simone's rare genius -- musical artistry at its highest level. Nina communicates emotion in her music with palpable heart and soul.

Born in the segregated South, Nina grew up poor and black. She climbed to commercial popularity with the help of a tough husband who, while steering her career toward success, physically beat her. Unfortunately Nina had bipolar disorder (manic depression) which disabled her from making smart choices. She stayed with her husband for years, despite being abused.

Nina dove into the civil rights movement in the 1960's where she found personal fulfillment. She learned from and developed friendships with many famous black leaders, writers and intellectuals, like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry. She sang at political rallies (including the famous Selma march) and wrote inflammatory songs like "Mississippi Goddam." Nina's career later cratered, however, from her focus on racial politics; some in the music industry blacklisted her for the fervor of her politics.

Nina recorded 40 records and gave innumerable performances, including at Carnegie Hall. After disappearing for a while, she made a comeback with poignant performances.

If you've never heard Nina sing, you are in for a treat. My favorite song of hers ("Sinnerman") is used in the climactic scene of the film, "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1999). And check out the documentary of her life: you'll be moved.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Unusual Words

It seems the Germans have a word for everything. I just learned a new one.

You've probably heard the word "schadenfreude" which gets used a lot here. A German word meaning the converse just surfaced on my radar -- "gluckschmerz."

Schadenfreude means taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. Gluckschmerz means being sad at the good fortune of others.

Here's an example. Say you are a sensible person and hate the New York Yankees baseball team. When the Yankees fail to make the playoffs, you experience schadenfreude. Happy schadenfreude. When, however, the Yankees win the World Series because they unfairly buy the best talent on the market, you feel gluckschmerz. Serious gluckschmerz.

Got it?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Secret Attraction

I have a confession to make. I love skirt-suits, those pre-styled outfits that middle-aged women wear. Aesthetically I know they're a cliché but I can't help myself.

The attraction emerges from my deep-seated desire to be one of those women. I'd get to wear one of these suits. Inhabit that life, have those experiences. That'd bring me bliss.

When I saw an unusually attractive skirt-suit at a thrift-store yesterday I couldn't resist. I tried. I picked the suit up, put it down, walked around, came back, picked it up, put it down and finally said, "Geez! It's only $9. Being happy is worth more than that!"

This outfit brings me joy. In an uncaring world, that's justification enough. Right?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April Fool's Day

A few days ago I gave you some ideas for pranks. Today, I did some. I practice what I preach!

Every year I play a joke or two on my wife Robin. She'd be disappointed if I didn't. This year, I played two pranks. Robin laughed at the first one and gasped at the second.

First, I replaced an image of the two of us in a framed photo on her desk with a picture of Pee-Wee Herman. (See below.) We both love Pee-Wee, especially his first film ("Pee-Wee's Big Adventure") which was directed by Tim Burton. It's a masterpiece of cinematic art.

Second, I stuck a flat pillow with an image of a pug's head on it in our medical cabinet. When Robin opened the cabinet-door to get her toothbrush, she was surprised!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Simple Pleasures

Before today I'd never been to one of the most famous BBQ places on Long Island (North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse). That's because it's far away and only open a few days a week. But today is one of those days and I was eager to ride my rocket-ship for a couple of hours. So history was made.

They have a sandwich called the "Heart Attack" so my choice was clear. The Heart Attack contains brisket, pulled pork, mac-n-cheese and French Fries on a bun. Cheese adds just the right amount of moisture to pull the various ingredients together. Yum!

Afterward I went next door for coffee and had a nice long conversation with the owner whose new Triumph Thruxton 900 was perched in front. Bikers establish easy rapport and can talk for hours.

Later I cruised to Wildwood State Park in Wading River where I hiked to the beach, ambled down to a flat boulder, climbed aboard and listened to rhapsodic waves lapping the shore while reading a biography of Rachel Carson whose 1962 book, "Silent Spring," founded our modern environmental concerns. Pics follow...

Friday, March 30, 2018

With A Little Help From My Friends

Last July I rode my motorcycle up to Toronto to see a good friend, Suzanne. During my visit we went clothes-shopping. Of course.

Suzanne then gave me one of the greatest gifts ever -- the courage to try on women's clothing in a store dressing-room. I'd never done that before. Suzanne's presence and support gave me the strength needed to cross this bridge. As you know, trying on clothes is very important because you can't tell how a garment is going to look until you put it on. In the past I was too scared to do this and often bought clothes only to later discover they don't fit right.

In one store, I took a dozen items into the dressing-room. I was shocked to see how many of them looked bad when I anticipated them to look good. One dress, however, a slinky, ruched black velvet beauty fit me perfectly. I had doubts about it before trying it on but was pleasantly surprised when I did.

Here is the dress. What do you think? I'm also wearing a mermaid necklace that was a sweet gift from a friend.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

April Fool's Jokes

April 1st is Sunday. Are you ready?

Every year I design a new April Fool's joke. They're fun when the idea is clever, not cruel. Many admire my past efforts which you're invited to use for inspiration. Like this one (2017)this one (2016)this one (2015) and this one (2013).

Here are some other ideas:

1. Remove all your partner's clothes from two dresser-drawers and put them back in the wrong drawer. When he goes looking for his underwear, he'll find sweaters.

2. Replace a prominent framed photo with another image that your partner finds funny. This year I'm switching a picture of us with a photo of Pee-Wee Herman.

3. Hide an alarm clock and set it for a good time. Your partner will hear the noise, wander around the house and say, "What the hell is that?"

4. Tape a plastic bug on the inside of a lamp. (See picture.)

5. If you've done pranks in the past and your partner is expecting one (my situation), tape an innocent sign on your refrigerator door: "Happy April First!" Your partner will spend hours trying to figure out which food you switched/contaminated. Of course, you didn't touch any of them, which makes it a really easy prank.

Are you going to do a joke this year?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Huntington Rural Cemetery

I was passing by our local cemetery when harsh sunlight caught my eye. It back-lit gravestones and created an arresting visual. Can you spot a flag?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Touching The Past

I'm writing a letter to a 93-year old neighbor who, during my childhood, often invited me into her house after school for milk and cookies because my mom was still at work. Telling Mrs. Devine how much I appreciated her kindness makes me feel good.

Why don't you write a letter today? You'll enjoy it.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Roaring Twenties

Despite the presence of lingering snow on the ground, I was enticed to venture out today by bright sunshine, warming temperature and a new exhibition at a local art museum. The subject of the show is the Roaring Twenties, a period similar to our own. I took my trusted racehorse (BMW S1000R), recently serviced and ready for some spirited action.

The Twenties began early -- on November 11, 1918, the day World War I ended. The decade was full of transition, chaos and unpredicted social change. Art and culture evolved rapidly; women got the vote. Countries like ours prospered immensely, without awareness that financial ruin was just around the corner (1929).

Also like our age, "everything seemed feasible through modern technology." Airplanes crossed oceans. Flying and automobiles became available to ordinary folk.

Below are some images from the era that appealed to me today.

The Twenties, a century ago, were obviously before I was born (1957). But I feel an affinity for that time. Surrealism, in particular, speaks to me. We will soon start a new Twenties (2020+) and I suspect it will be equally momentous. The drastic changes we're about to experience (e.g., robotic companions) may be understood by looking back at the last Twenties and drawing lessons from this time. At least I'm trying to do that.

What do you foresee in the next decade?

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Despite a snowstorm we had yesterday it is actually Spring.

When I got home today, I saw these two guys in my backyard. The first one is eating a slice of bread I left out.

Are you seeing any signs of Spring?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Affluent Slugs

Someone just told me that snails are slugs who could afford a home. Now I'm feeling sorry for poor, homeless slugs.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Guilty As Charged

Shopping at Urban Outfitters on Sunday, I found the PERFECT coffee cup! It describes how I ride my motorcycles... and approach my life.