Sunday, April 26, 2020

Date Night

It's hard to have Date Night in a pandemic, but not impossible. It just takes creativity. And poster-board.

Tonight I got tickets for us to a local movie theater. Very local. I hope Robin doesn't drink too much; the cocktails are expensive.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Why? Here's why.

Tom Hanks, patron saint of manual typewriters, wrote an article in The New York Times seven years ago explaining his fascination for these vintage machines. He cites their three benefits:

1. Noise! The clanging of manual typewriter keys has a solid sound accompanied by a bell that rings loudly when you've reached the end of a line. These sounds remind us viscerally of the physical existence of our communication. You can write e-mail on your laptop silently but pound out a letter on paper and you know you've created something real.

2. "[T]he sheer physical pleasure of typing; it feels just as good as it sounds, the muscles in your hands control the volume and cadence of the aural assault so that the room echoes with the staccato beat of your synapses." I can attest to this from personal experience. Pounding typewriter keys with your fingers is fun and good exercise.

3. "[T]he third reason to write with a relic of yesteryear: permanence. Short of chiseled words in stone, few handmade items last longer than a typed letter, for the ink is physically stamped into the very fibers of the paper, not layered onto the surface as with a laser-printed document."

Yes, typed paper is indelibly transformed into permanent records of our thoughts. Sometimes during my work I come across a typed document that's 50-100 years old (e.g., real estate deed) and am amazed by its magical quality. The document survived time in a way electronic records never will. I collect these special objects and plan to display them in my future personal museum.

As Tom notes, "300 years from now a thank-you note [you type] may exist in the collection of an aficionado who treasures it the same as a Bill of Sale from 1776 for one dozen well-made casks from Ye Olde Ale Shoppe." Yup, we're making history.

Join the club. Type a letter today!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Female Life In A Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone's normal life. It's forcing changes in how we live. Studying human behavior before the pandemic and now, I'm curious (and fascinated) by what's being revealed about female life. You can help me deepen that understanding by describing your life.

Psychological aspects of female life are unknown to men who simply don't have the same experiences which form them. Two areas of note are clothing and grooming.

Clothing and grooming are of much greater importance to most women than men. Most women make careful choices what to wear and are conscious of their attire. The same with grooming: e.g., hair; make-up; etc.

The pandemic has changed these habits. People staying home aren't getting dressed up as often (if at all) and sales of deodorant, breath mints, etc. are down. I'm seeing articles like "How Often Do You Need To Wash The Sweats You're Living In" and "How To Trim Your Bangs."

What's being revealed by the changes to your lifestyle? Are you concerned about your hair? Do you dress up in nice clothes when you're staying home? Do you wear make-up at home?

The choices we make aren't merely practical, they reflect our psyche. Often we choose impractical options because they make us feel better, which is something happening solely in our heads. Worthy of respect but without a foundation of practicality.

This morning an off-hand comment by my friend Sheila on her blog caught my eye. She "found over the years when I've been feeling blue or needed a lift: putting on make-up makes me feel better." Interesting... So make-up isn't simply for improving one's appearance in public, it has a private function. It can affect how we feel about ourselves, even in private.

Honestly, I get this. Because of my particular circumstances (being unable to easily present as female in public), I perform many female rituals and activities at home, in private, with no audience. There is no practical justification for these; I do them just to feel good. More natural, more in touch with myself.

How about you? During isolation at home, do you occasionally put on real clothes? Or make-up? Or fix your hair? Why?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

New Old Cars

Somebody just did something cool. Fabled British car-maker Bentley just re-created their powerful 1929 race-car using computers and is selling a dozen of the vehicles to collectors. What's noteworthy is that this approach can be used by others to re-create any vintage automobile.

Old cars are fascinating. Last year I visited a car and motorcycle museum in remote Pennsylvania where I saw amazing vehicles. (Some photos below.) When technology is new, people experiment with different ideas, some novel and ingenious. A century ago, there were dozens of small companies trying out new ways of making two- and four-wheeled transportation.

This year Bentley had engineers scan every part of its historic car, convert the scans to CAD (computer-aided design) and use those to manufacture old parts which can be assembled into new machines. The biggest problem of vintage automobiles is finding replacement parts since nobody makes them any more. That problem keeps these beautiful machines sitting in garages instead of out on the road. Bentley's approach eliminates this obstacle.

I like the idea of building new versions of classic vehicles that can be driven today. Who wouldn't want to try driving a Model T Ford or 1955 Ferrari? And since many manufacturers of vintage cars are no longer in business, you wouldn't even need approval to make these cars. This new concept would attract new enthusiasts to automotive technology, and inspire some to build their own new old cars.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Something New To Drink

I just discovered something nice.

I like the flavor of cocktails but sometimes don't want to drink alcohol. On work-nights, I like to unwind but not suffer the next day.

My ears perked up when I heard about a company that makes non-alcoholic "liquors" (Seedlip). The liquors are distilled spirits with no alcohol in them. They are made with botanicals that create the flavor of liquors. I bought two bottles to try and am happy to report my review is favorable.

Seedlip's spirits are meant to be mixed in cocktails, not drank neat. I tried two of their three bottles. The first, Grove 42, has a pleasant citrus taste. I mixed it with ginger beer and a wedge of lime: it became a mock Moscow Mule. The second spirit, Spice 94, gets its flavor from Jamaican allspice, cardamom, cinnamon and cascarilla. It goes well with grapefruit or tonic. Seedlip has recipes for putting it in expresso or cold coffee; I haven't gone that wild yet.

I like that these liquors aren't overpowering and have no sugar or sweetener in them. They mix well with traditional cocktail ingredients and make easy, refreshing drinks.

If you want a taste of these, come on over... um... maybe in a few weeks. Stay safe!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Harry Chapin (1942-1981)

I visited a grave today.

One of the most popular musicians -- and certainly the most beloved -- of my youth was Harry Chapin. Harry released 12 singles during the Seventies, all big hits. You've probably heard his most famous songs, "Cat's in the Cradle" (on relations between a son and father) and "Taxi" (in which a musician driving a cab is hailed by a former lover). Harry performed "Taxi" on the Johnny Carson "Tonight" show and they got so many calls that Chapin was invited to return the next night. It was the first time in the show's history a performer returned for an encore.

Harry Chapin's songs tell stories. Poignant, poetic stories. They resonate to our common human experience. Harry's songs have passed the test of time and are as compelling today as they were a half-century ago.

Beyond music, Harry devoted exceptional effort to social causes. He fought to end world hunger. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian work. Amazingly, half of the concerts Chapin performed during his lifetime were benefits where he donated all proceeds to charity. After Harry's death, his widow joked, "Harry was supporting 17 relatives, 14 associations, seven foundations, and 82 charities. Harry wasn't interested in saving money."

Sadly Chapin died young at age 38. He was driving his VW bug on the Long Island Expressway on the way to a benefit concert when he got rear-ended by a tractor-trailer.

Harry lived and died on Long Island, N.Y. His wife Sandy says Harry "envisioned a Long Island where the arts flourished, universities expanded, and humane discourse was the norm. He thought Long Island represented a remarkable opportunity."

I visited Harry's grave today. It's located in my hometown (Huntington). Amusingly, people have left toy taxi cars on the grave. The worn epitaph is from one of his songs:

"Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man's life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
to this world."


Harry's daughter Jen sings the song quoted on his gravestone in a very moving manner:

Thursday, April 9, 2020

A Little Late

Last January I wrote a New Year’s letter which unfortunately wasn’t sent out due to a technical difficulty. I just fixed that problem so here is the letter.


Welcome 2020!!

As we welcome the New Year, I want to convey my thoughts and predictions for 2020. I have a good feeling about the coming year: I believe it will be our best yet.

The stock market is doing great and all of our investments are at all-time highs. I‘m sure they will continue to soar, making our finances secure and prosperous. I predict nobody will worry about money in 2020.

I plan to throw lots of parties this year and you’re invited. Gathering with friends over drinks and food is one of life’s chief pleasures. There’s no reason for us to forego them.

I also plan to see many Broadway plays, music concerts and sporting events. There’s nothing like the excitement of being in a crowd, feeling others near you while we root and cheer for artists and athletes. Baseball starts soon; I look forward to Spring Training. Hockey playoffs will be fun and the games will be packed with crowds.

New stores are opening at shopping malls. We’ll go there to browse and hang out, enjoying the fruits of a booming economy. Relaxing in Starbucks and other coffee-shops is a fun activity.

Speaking of activities, travel! I love to ride long distances on my motorcycle. My year is crammed with trips to faraway places, starting in March. Let’s leave our normal surroundings and explore new places. Who wants to remain coop-ed up at home?

I look forward to new restaurants opening up this year. Dining out on exquisite food is a delight we take for granted. I’ve even thought about investing in a restaurant. They make money so easily; investing in one is a sure-thing.

Taking a cue from Tom Hanks (the actor), I plan to buy another typewriter. Tom owns hundreds of ancient machines. As their most popular collector, this is what Tom will be best known for in 2020.

Well, it’s time for me to get a haircut, buy new clothes and socialize. I’ll see you out on the streets and shops.

There’s smooth sailing ahead for us in 2020!

P.S., Let me conclude with some song lyrics from John Prine:

When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad.
Seem like total silence was the only friend I had.
Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down... and won.
And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
That I was havin' no fun.

But fortunately I have the key to escape reality.
And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile.
It don't cost very much, but it lasts a long while.
Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone.
No I'm just tryin' to have me some fun.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020


I don't expect you to understand this post; it's personal. You might, however, find pleasure in seeing some pictures. The images are captivating, in my opinion.

Here are photographs of Maura, the first woman I loved. We were together over 20 years and never stopped loving each other. Maura is a painter and she lives in Wales now.

Do any of these pictures strike you in any way?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Memories and Old Photos

Stuck at home, it's the perfect time to organize and enjoy old photo albums.

They remind me of my FIRST motorcycle trip in 1998. My friend Rich taught me how to travel on two wheels. We rode 4,000 miles in eight days, passing through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Canada and North Dakota.

That's my bike in front -- a handsome motorcycle totally unsuited for long-distance touring. I replaced it with a more comfortable machine soon after. Through fate, I got the bike back recently and plan to display it in my personal museum.

Thursday, April 2, 2020


One unexpected effect of the current pandemic is that, as humans retreat into their homes, nature is returning. On the River Thames in England, wildlife not seen for decades are popping up again.