Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!

Let me address the question I posed yesterday ("What is the nicest thing you did or have done to you in 2021?"). My answer is I bought someone a car. And it wasn't a frivolous gesture; it was an important act.

Someone I like was struggling with an old, unreliable vehicle whose frequent repair bills were crippling her finances and jeopardizing her employment. Her job was literally on the line if she couldn't find dependable transportation; the car was a serious threat to that. 

The situation was the kind of critical moment in a person's life where a single bad event might start a cascade of more bad events. I wanted to stop movement in that direction and turn fate around. So I offered my friend money to buy a newer, more reliable automobile. She accepted and got such a vehicle. And kept her job with all the benefits of steady employment.

I haven't mentioned this before and am withholding identifying information; I raise it solely to cheer us up about 2021 during which good things happened with the bad.

Experience has taught me that generosity benefits the giver as much as the recipient. We gain from giving. Remembering this particular act warms my heart and makes me feel like I'm improving the world, if only in a small way.

Happy New Year, my friends.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Good News

This was a hard year for everyone. We thought it'd be a welcome off-ramp to 2020's awfulness but we were mistaken. The virus is worse than ever, politics are still stuck in division, and bad stuff happened. 

As we leave 2021 it might be nice to reflect on good things that happened this year. Small acts that occurred in ordinary people's lives, without fanfare or applause. So I pose this question -- what is the nicest thing you did or have done to you in 2021?

(My answer will be shared tomorrow after hearing yours.)

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Holiday Treats

What culinary treats did you enjoy this holiday season?

I had a dish of caviar (Salmon roe), topped by caperberries (which differ from capers), on a bed of sour cream over Carr's plain crackers. I like the flavors in this combination.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Happy Holidays!

The jolly season has arrived. Merry Christmas, everyone! And Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Alex Haley

I attended Hamilton College during the late-Seventies. A decade earlier famous author Alex Haley taught there. Haley was in the middle of writing the influential "Roots," which was later turned into a blockbuster TV series, and "The Autobiography of Malcolm X."

A student who took Haley's class reminisces about him in a new article in The New York Times. I regret missing the opportunity to learn from him.

Saturday, December 18, 2021


I'm awarding myself a medal for accomplishing something today I fretted about for weeks -- personally transporting a fragile, four-foot tall glass artwork from a NYC gallery to my Long Island home. In the rain no less. I used a U-Haul cargo van, plenty of muscle and extremely careful attention.

Nothing focuses the mind more intensely than the prospect of a six-figure loss happening faster than you can say, "Oops." 🙂

("Fenice" [Phoenix] by famed glass-blower Lino Tagliapietra)

Friday, December 17, 2021

Bad Boys

Women fascinate me. Here's one explaining why she's attracted to Pete Davidson:

"For me, Davidson represents the kind of attainable, affable, dirtbag with a sensitive heart surrounded by years of unprocessed emotional trauma that have calcified into an unscalable wall. Some might call this affectation emotional immaturity or, rudely, a waste of time. For me, I see not quite a challenge but a kindred spirit. A man with baggage that isn’t so cumbersome that it can’t be unpacked, who will make me laugh but has also seen his share of darkness."

Hmm... What do you think?

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Mysterious Sphere

Have you ever seen a "poetic postbox"?

Hidden in one of our local parks is a metal sculpture designed by artist Alicia Framis. It's called "Cartas al Cielo." Cielo is Spanish for 'sky' or "heaven." 

The sphere serves "as a vessel of communication with those who have no earthbound address." Visitors are invited to slip letters into the sculpture through a thin slot on its side and commune with ethereal correspondents.

It seems appropriate, viewing such a mystical object, to use an obscure vintage film camera to take its picture (1957 Kodak Brownie Starmite II). Here are the results.

Friday, December 10, 2021

At Last!

If it seems odd that someone with two cars and three motorcycles lacks a garage, you're right. I've struggled 36 years at this house without permanent shelter for my vehicles.

No more. Garage is finally going up.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Monday, November 29, 2021

Christmas Wish List

To aid you in selecting my Christmas gift I've compiled this helpful list of presents I'd like:

- An ancient treasure map, preferably crumpled.

- Detailed plans for a legendary bank heist with blueprint drawings and a motley but charming crew of talented criminals, one of whom will ultimately double-cross us.

- A villain's secret lair carved into the side of a mountain on a remote island. Extra credit for including a tank of hungry, man-eating sharks.

- A talking dog.

- A non-talking cat with a Twitter account.

- A cute mouse who not only talks but cooks delicious meals and sings catchy songs.

- A Blockbuster Video franchise.

- Elvis's greatest hits on cassette tape.

- A cylindrical audio-recording made by Thomas Edison, speaking to his lab assistant: "Theodore! Get your ass in here pronto!"

- A gift-card entitling me to purchase gasoline at 49 cents a gallon so I can pretend it's 1972.

- A time machine to transport me back to 2009 where I can buy Bitcoin at 10 cents a coin.

What's on your wish list?

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Christmas Trees

Last year I broke with tradition and tried something new -- instead of buying a cut Christmas tree (which would die and end up in the trash) I purchased an uncut tree with roots wrapped in canvas. It looked the same during the holiday and nobody could tell any difference.
After the season ended, I planted the tree in our backyard. I didn't hold much hope for its survival 'cause I'm a bad gardener; plants usually die under my watch. Surprisingly, with no care, the tree lived! And is still growing.
It makes me feel good that I didn't kill another tree just for holiday decoration. Now I wonder why this isn't a more popular choice.

Saturday, November 27, 2021


Downsides to being #trans are extensive. But an upside is the intense joy that can be found in small pleasures.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Art & History

The history of slavery and racial segregation in America has been downplayed and whitewashed. Which explains why, when I saw this picture, I was so shocked. The emotional impact of the scene feels like a blow to my chest.

The photograph was taken by Gordon Parks, a noted African-American artist. In 1956 Parks was commissioned by Life magazine to go to segregated Alabama and document racial tensions entrenched there. This is one of his several photographs from that trip.

I was born in 1957. It's hard to believe that racial segregation existed in our lifetime but it has in mine.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Hair Curlers

Believe it or not -- there are credible news reports (here) that young women in South Korea are wearing hair curlers IN PUBLIC. With no shame or remorse. In fact, to the contrary, they're doing it with a sense of gender pride and style. The most popular use is with bangs.

What do you think? Are you as aghast as older Koreans at this new trend?

Sunday, November 21, 2021


These days we see people so glued to to their phone-screens that they walk across traffic without looking and even drive that way. Talk about risky behavior. The phenomenon causes me to examine why humans act this way. Here's what I'm learning.

Distraction is a way to avoid existential anxiety. Kierkegaard wrote "anxiety is the dizziness of freedom."

Humans are ambivalent about being free. On one hand we claim "I want to be free" but when we are free, it feels metaphorically like we don't have gravity. As a result, many people attach balls and chains to their lives so they don't have to experience freedom. Focusing on phone 'gram/games when you should be attuned to your physical environment is a symptom of this modern ailment.

My suggestion -- resist! Be consciously aware of your life as it slides by. There's pleasure in paying attention. And wisdom, too.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Tea Cozy

Genius is rarely acknowledged in our lifetime.

For my birthday, I asked Robin for something she'd never heard of -- a tea cozy. At first she didn't know what it was so I explained: a cozy is an insulated cloth dome that covers your teapot while you're drinking and keeps the tea hot. Robin, without experience or evidence, disputed the efficacy of this ancient kitchen tool. And she mocked me for requesting one, saying the whole idea is silly. 

Well... it turns out I was right: a tea cozy DOES work, fabulously in fact. How? Science. Consult an engineer if you need convincing. Plus it's a handsome addition to any kitchen, don't ya think?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

My Career

It's over. Finally.

In truth, being a commercial litigator (i.e., a lawyer who fights business cases) was never a natural fit for me. I'm a kind, gentle soul who prefers to improve the world, not tear it down. But this job I've had for 40 years involves confrontation, aggravation, stress and public speaking -- things at which I recoil but deal with because I have to. I never wanted to do this kind of work; I simply fell into it when fate dropped me into this position at the start of my career in 1982. I developed valuable skills for the work during my first employment and ultimately became good at the job. But I've always hated it.

My plan, from about 20 years ago until now, was to steer my career toward self-employment (so I could stop enriching others at my expense) and when I had enough money, quit. I've achieved that goal. I can afford to "retire" -- which for me means steering my energy and talent in different directions, not lounging on a couch in front of a TV. I have intense passion for numerous interests and multiple activities. I want to actively pursue them, not sit in an office. Work inhibits those pursuits; not working will create opportunity to explore my passions.

I've studied retirement options and plans during the past 2-3 years and have a firm, educated grasp on what I need to finance the rest of my life and how I want to spend that time. Rather than labor for clients merely for money, I want to tackle bigger, more meaningful goals without having to worry about money. That means not having to compromise my ideals for a buck. I can chase goals independent of financial outcome.

Today was, hopefully, the last trial of my career. A big case, I conducted it before a civil jury and devoted serious effort toward it. The case had been pending for ten years so I didn't want to retire leaving it unfinished. Today it wrapped up (successfully) and I can now gradually wind down my law practice without guilt. 

It'll take several months to do that. I'll have to turn down new business during that time which is hard; it runs contrary to my ingrained business instinct. Just today a colleague was bragging to his client about  how good I am and wrote that the client wants to come into my office ASAP to give me a fat check. How do you say no to that? I'll figure out how tomorrow.

Freedom. Freedom from stress and agita, that's what I want. Freedom to explore new ground, travel to new places, deepen my understanding of intellectual and artistic subjects. I won't run out of fun things to pursue so I want to get started without delay.

Wish me luck.  :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


When I was growing up, "Bewitched" was one of the most popular shows on television. It lasted a then-unprecedented eight seasons. The show's characters and comedy were hilarious.

"Bewitched" stars Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha (Sam), a real witch married to a mortal (Darrin). The weirdest thing the show did was, in the fifth season, SWITCH actors for her husband Darrin (from Dick York to Dick Sargent). That struck me as very odd at the time and most viewers agreed. No explanation was given on the show for the switch. It's real-life reason was that Dick York had injured his back making a movie, became addicted to painkillers during his recovery and later suffered a seizure on the "Bewitched" set. While in the hospital, the show's director asked him if he wanted to quit and he did.

If you ever saw the show, you know its wacky cast of characters: Endora, Aunt Clara, nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz (whose actress won an Emmy for the role), Uncle Arthur and Esmeralda.

Viewers loved Sam's famous nose-twitch. Practically no one knows the twitch wasn't real; instead it was created by visual editing and a sound effect.

The success of the show was only partly due to its lead actress's exceptional beauty; equal attention came from the show's skillful writing with barely-disguised sub-texts. Plots touched on issues of gender, race and even sexual orientation. A common theme was not being allowed by society to reveal one's hidden qualities.

Five years after the show ended, there was a spinoff, "Tabitha", about an adult version of daughter Tabitha. It didn't do well. Nor did a 2005 movie starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell that was a critical and box office failure.

After the show ended, almost all of the cast died of cancer in what's called "the Bewitched curse." Elizabeth Montgomery died at age 62, Dick York died at age 63 and Dick Sargeant died at age 64. Sad facts.

"Bewitched" is universally recognized as one of TV's classic shows. Have you seen it?

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Fun With Friends

When I discover something fun, my instinct is to share it. Yesterday I took my good friend Janeen to a Devils hockey game and she had a blast. She'd never seen a hockey game before so I had to explain the basics.

Doesn't she look happy?

Sunday, November 7, 2021


What's the most thrilling thing you've ever done?

For me it's clear -- my laps at a racetrack on a motorcycle going as fast as one's skill and courage allow. No words adequately describe the extreme excitement of those experiences. You dance, full-bodied, with powerful forces of nature, trying to tame them as they threaten to throw your body off the track in nano-seconds.

I realized this fact today after some spirited riding this morning and now watching MotoGP, the highest level of pro racing. Riding a sportbike fast exceeds all other experiences I've had in my life. The stupendous speed, the remarkable rush, the critical need for full attention, there's nothing like it. 

What do you do for thrills?

Friday, November 5, 2021

A New Tea

For my birthday someone gave me something I've never tried before: Pu' er tea

Made in China, it looks and tastes like black tea but is actually fermented green tea. The flavor is unusual and appealing. The tea comes in fun-looking pressed discs. 

Have you ever tried it?

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

It's My Birthday!

Today is my birthday!

I'm not going to spend much time here; just want to share the news. Have a great day!

Monday, November 1, 2021

New Watch?

Question: what's the most you'd pay for a watch?

I'm looking for a new wristwatch and want something nice. Something of value, a watch I can keep for years. But at how high a cost?

The best watches are mechanical ones made in Switzerland. The tradition of hand-making watches is still alive there and expert technicians not only make watches by hand, they make the tools they use by hand. Design and craftsmanship distinguish these watches from ordinary, mass-produced, quartz-powered ones.

I fell in love with a beautiful watch by H. Moser & Cie. Their website doesn't list prices. I should have realized that since the company limits the number of watches they make (to 50 of these, to 1,200 total), the price was going to be steep. But I had no idea what level that is. When I found it, I was shocked... but... it is within reach. The real question is how important is this purchase to me, in terms of its priority against other potential purchases?

If you wear a watch (and yes I know the kids are using their phones these days instead), what's your limit? $500? $5,000? $50,000? More?

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Happy Halloween!

I hope you enjoy the holiday! Are you dressing up?

This year I'm Gus from "Sweet Tooth," a lovely mini-series on television earlier this year. Below are pics of me and the original. How'd I do?

Sunday, October 24, 2021


Do you wear a fragrance? What kind? How often?

In an effort to improve myself, I identify areas previously neglected and study them. One such area is fragrance. I've worn scents in the past but it's been a few decades since I last applied one regularly. I'm looking for an attractive cologne/perfume and wondering what others are using. Please share!

Monday, October 18, 2021

More New Art

When you start looking for something, you see it everywhere.

I recently started collecting fine art. Two weeks ago I spotted something appealing through an art studio window. I contacted the artist, a talented local woman, and met her over the weekend (Melissa Maiello). Melissa creates beautiful large charcoal drawings that evoke emotion. The drawings have rough, torn edges which add to their power and surreality.

I acquired two of her drawings today. They're large: one is over five feet wide and the other is over seven feet tall. Fortunately I'll have room for them in my future playhouse/office/art-museum/global-headquarters/Batcave/evil-villain-lair. 

Here are the drawings. What do you think?

Saturday, October 16, 2021

New Artwork & Hockey

I went into NYC yesterday and bought my second work by famed glass-blower, Lino Tagliapietra. It's a dramatic piece four feet tall. In person, it's even more impressive as you closely examine the technique and coloration used. I'm thrilled to acquire the work.

This art was made in 2016 when Lino was 82 years old. That same year a terrific documentary was made about Lino; it's on YouTube and I strongly encourage you to watch it: "Lino Tagliapietra: The Making of a Maestro." During the film Lino is shown making THE VERY WORK I PURCHASED. Lino and his art have real historical importance; I'm a lucky sap to be able to own a piece of that history.

After my gallery-visit, we went to Newark and saw our favorite hockey team (New Jersey Devils) win their season home-opener in an exciting game against the Chicago Blackhawks (4-3). The Devils won in overtime when young Jack Hughes scored his second goal of the night. The place went nuts.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Motorcycles and Glass Art Together!

Motorcycles and glass art -- the perfect marriage!

The Corning Museum of Glass is amazing. I've been there twice in the past two years. It stimulated my interest in glass art. 

Museum officials there are as hip as the exhibits -- they just allowed a motorcycle stunt-rider to ride an (electric) motorcycle through the museum, right past rows of fragile glass sculptures. You can see him wheelie through the museum -- using no hands! Although the video is 25 minutes long, the ride in the museum is shown during the last three minutes so feel free to jump to 22:00. Pretty cool. :)

Go here: Link

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Many Saints of Newark

David Chase is a brilliant, odd man who creates compelling stories. He wrote "The Sopranos" and kept that show interesting. It mesmerized us with unexpected surprises instead of devolving into gangster cliches.

We saw "The Many Saints of Newark" yesterday, after binge-ing the entire Sopranos' series. Again, Chase surprises us. The film is nothing like the show, differing in both content and presentation. It achieves Chase's stated goal of making cinematic art instead of television. 

While there's a little "fan service," the bulk of the story is about a character not shown in the TV series (Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher's father). His struggles in racially-torn Newark bear little connection to mob activities later on.

My verdict is that Chase achieved something special here. I don't believe the movie will be popular; many will be disappointed it doesn't recycle what they liked about the Sopranos show. But, truly, Chase never cared about pleasing us; his goal is higher than that. He's exploring and commenting on the human condition.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

New Art Show

Famous glass artist Lino Tagliapietra, whose work I've started to collect, is having a big show this month at the Heller Gallery in NYC. Over thirty pieces are on display.

I'm heading in again on Friday to enjoy the show and buy another work. If you're anywhere near the City, I encourage you to visit the gallery. You'll be stunned by the beauty of this art -- in person it's much more dramatic and impressive than in pictures.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

When I'm Sixty-Four

A month from now I'll turn 64. I find that impossible to believe but my driver's license says it's true. Fortunately, The Beatles wrote a song for me over fifty years ago; it goes...

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine?
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

You'll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

("When I'm Sixty-Four," The Beatles, 1967)