Wednesday, March 31, 2021

April Fool's Day

Tomorrow is April 1st and you know what that means -- time for an April Fool's joke!

I came up with one for this year. Robin is a big fan of "The Godfather," having seen it a hundred times. She's also fastidious about making her bed. Combine the two and... voila.

After she makes the bed in the morning, I'll sneak in and stick a (fake) severed horse-head under the sheet. She'll see a bump and wonder what it is. She'll pull back the sheet... boom!

I made the horse-head from an old stuffed animal picked up at a thrift-store. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Old Age

I never imagined being old. I still don't. But when certain realities hit, you can't deny them.

Here's an instructive fact. 75% of people believe they'll keep working after the age of 65 -- but the number who actually do is dramatically less, only 15%. That means our common expectations about old age are wildly off. Experiencing life in my sixties, I now see why.

We assume, inaccurately, that our physical and mental health will remain the same. It doesn't. Natural deterioration occurs. Even if you work at maintaining your health, you still encounter loss of strength, endurance and desire. And those are the lucky ones who avoid serious illness or injury.

Plus, weird things happen to your body. Functions stop functioning, hair grows in places never seen before and your sleep patterns change. The joke about old people eating dinner at 4 in the afternoon is based in truth. 

I was always a night owl but recently my body wakes up earlier and falls asleep earlier (sometimes right after dinner). Often I awaken in the middle of the night when there's nothing to do except browse the web with half-shut eyes. You eventually realize that you aren't in control of your body any more; it is driving the car. You're just a passenger hoping it doesn't hit something.

With these changes, enthusiasm and even ability to continue working weakens. Sure if you had the same energy you could keep working forever but honestly, you don't. Your energy flags, which diminishes the desire to push yourself. Retiring from work is the choice 85% of us make by age 65.

Nobody tells you this stuff. Or maybe they do and you simply don't listen. Time catches up to all of us whether we're ready for change or not.

Have you felt changes from aging?

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Made For Love

Three years ago I read and reviewed a good novel: "Made For Love," by Alissa Nutting. The book presents a funny story about our time. Its main character, whose father is in love with a sex robot, flees her bad marriage to a tech billionaire. At the time Nutting wrote the book she was a Midwest college professor.

A year later, Nutting and her husband moved to Los Angeles to turn the story into a television show. The show was picked up by HBO Max as a 10-episode series and starts next week. It will star Ray Romano, as the father with the robot, and Cristin Milioti whom you'll recognize from dozens of shows like "How I Met Your Mother." (Milioti grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ which is where my wife Robin is from.)

What this tells me is that dreams can still come true. One day you can be an under-paid teacher toiling in obscurity and the next a powerful entertainment executive rubbing shoulders with pretty actors in Hollywood.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Long Hair

I met an old friend for lunch today. I've known Jason for two decades; we were introduced through our mutual friend Geoff who's sadly now deceased.

I got to the restaurant first (Smok-Haus). Jason walked up to me... and kept walking. I called to him and he turned around. I asked him about passing by: he explained he didn't recognize me. He'd thought to himself, "that guy can't be Ralph; his hair is too long."

Do YOU recognize me?

P.S., The sunglasses are from 100% They're light, stylish and feel wonderful.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Pink Robe Travels

A few years ago I created a fun project. After posing on my blog with pink boxing gloves (to symbolize female strength) I offered to loan the gloves to friends for their own photos. And they accepted! Almost a dozen friends participated as we mailed the gloves around the world. It was a wonderful project that spanned over a year.

In January I did another amusing post with a bright pink feather robe (shown above). I channeled my inner Zsa Zsa Gabor to create an image of Hollywood glamour. (For those of you too young to know who Zsa Zsa is, click here.)

Later that month I offered the robe to others. Two close friends immediately accepted the challenge put their own spin on the robe. Instead of going glamour, they tried artistic (Megan) and dramatic (Sheila). 

It's fun to see what people come up with when their creativity is unleashed. A playful catalyst like this robe stimulates our imagination. What would you do with it? 

Megan, my dear friend in Tennessee, went artistic. Returning to a scene from her childhood (Dragon Park) Megan posed in front of a huge sea serpent. Long known as a badass, Megan brings feisty attitude to the robe. I love the many bright colors in her presentation.

My Canadian friend Sheila moved toward drama with the challenge, Visiting Craigdarroch Castle with her mom, Sheila coaxed her mother -- who trained as a dancer -- to don the robe for poses worthy of Dame Judi Dench. Sheila posted the pictures on her blog.

It's not too late for you to join the fun! Have an idea on how to use the robe? Just e-mail me and I'll ship it to you ( 

Let's keep this party going!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Right & Wrong

People are telling stories of their vaccinations. I wasn't going to tell mine but something just happened which impels me to do so.

Availability of the vaccine varies from state to state. In New York where I live, there are eligibility criteria and even when you become eligible there are long delays in getting appointments because millions are trying to squeeze through a narrow bottleneck.

A week ago they made people over 60 years old (like me) eligible. But it took me over a week to be able to schedule an appointment -- and that date is more than five weeks away (late-April). Oh, well, I thought; I'll just wait my turn.

This morning a friend of mine who's politically-connected contacted me privately and said he could get me an earlier appointment -- like tomorrow. Using his influence he'd be able to let me jump the line.

I turned him down.

I've lived long enough to learn that if something feels bad, it is bad. I've regretted some bad choices in my life and know making them was a mistake. Getting the vaccine sooner wouldn't erase feelings of ignoble selfishness.

In the bigger picture, we are in this fight against the virus as a community. We need to protect the community, not our individual selves. Jumping the line pushes others aside, exposing them to risk. Individual selfishness carries real social costs.

Last month two women in their early-thirties dressed up as grandmas and tried to get vaccinated with false IDs saying they were over 65. They succeeded in getting a first shot and were caught getting their second shot. So, yes, people are scheming to get vaccinated before their turn and acting without concern for the rest of society. In my opinion, that's plain wrong.

What do you think?

Monday, March 15, 2021

Unexpected Images

You can never predict when something interesting will cross your path -- which is why I carry three cameras with me at all times. These images appeared, unexpectedly, during walks in my hometown and in nature. I'm glad I was able to capture them.

All pictures taken with 1957 Kodak Brownie Starmite camera, 127-roll b/w film (ISO 100).

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Secret Rooms

If you know me, you know I'm attracted to quirky things. Which explains why my future building will have hidden rooms with secret doors. I probably shouldn't have told you that but now you can look for them when you visit. :)

During a long lifetime I've only met one friend who has a hidden room -- Sheila. I saw her secret door in person and was awed by it. (Click on the link to see the door.) Sheila's cleverness inspires me to walk down this path.

Researching secret doors I learned there are inexpensive ones that resemble bookcases; these are called "Murphy Doors." Even Home Depot sells them. There are also doors that resemble large mirrors, billiard cue racks, fireplaces or kitchen cabinets. Some doors simply disappear into the wall; these are called "jib doors." There are even secret exterior entrance doors with remote locks.

Some secret doors don't lock but others add a hidden latch to open the door. Remember the beginning of each 1960s episode of "Batman"? Bruce Wayne lifts up the head of a statue and presses a button which causes a bookcase to slide open revealing a Batpole he slides down to the Batcave. Now that's a secret door!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Good Food

Nothing is simpler than a piece of hot toast topped with hummus and chili oil. My version of this classic tweaks the normal ingredients to my personal preferences.

Homemade hummus is delicious and much nicer than store-bought. Chili oil drizzled on top of hummus is a great way to add tang. Both hummus and chili oil are easy to make and you can find recipes for them anywhere.

When I make these, as I just did, I alter recipes to my taste. For chili oil, instead of using generic dried chili peppers, I use fresh habanero peppers which are very hot. Instead of using salt, I use tamari. Tamari is a special kind of soy sauce with deep, rich flavor. And instead of using ordinary tamari from a supermarket, I deploy restaurant-grade tamari from famous chef David Chang (founder of Momofuku restaurants). David recently started selling his culinary ingredients to civilians like us and they're exceptional.

For hummus, I add lots of garlic to ward off vampires. They live in my neighborhood and you can never be too safe. Extra garlic and lemon add scrumptious flavor to the chickpeas and tahini.

Here are the results. If you want further instructions, just ask or wander over looking hungry. :)

Actual conversation:

Me:  I'm making hummus today.

Her:  Huh? You can MAKE hummus?! I thought you have to buy it.

Me:  *sigh*

Friday, March 5, 2021

Film Cameras

I'm reading about fancy, expensive cameras. A Hasselblad medium format will set you back over $10,000. A decent Nikon is about half that amount. Those prices are a lot of money.

Fortunately, there's an alternative -- cheap cameras. A Holga is only $20 and most vintage film cameras can be picked up for less. Of the five working cameras I have, my favorite cost me five bucks. It's a 1963 Brownie Starmite II. The camera was manufactured in July 1963 and cost $12 new. 

Last Fall I used the Brownie to snap this picture of an old truck at a farm on the East end of Long Island. Photography doesn't have to be expensive.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021


When I have free time, I drop in on thrift stores. You never know what they're gonna have on the shelf. Every so often you score a gem and the price is always dirt-cheap.

I started riding motorcycles in 1997. The following year the famed Guggenheim Museum in New York City presented an exhibition called "The Art Of The Motorcycle." The exhibit was a big success and displayed hundreds of motorcycles from earliest to latest. The exhibition drew huge crowds, larger than the museum had ever had. Of course I went with my motorcycle buddies. I still have a t-shirt from it.

The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue, the kind of fancy, well-written book usually published at art shows. The catalogue is 432 pages, the size of a coffee-table and heavier than a bowling ball. It contains gorgeous full-color photographs of motorcycles and recounts their history. The catalogue cost $125 at the show.

Yesterday, in a thrift store, I saw that very same catalogue in perfect condition. I grabbed it and was shocked to see the price -- five bucks. Five bucks! It'll be a permanent addition to my new office.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Everything Bagel Ice Cream

Jeni Bauer founded an ice cream company twenty years ago in Ohio. She creates interesting, unusual flavors. I visited my friend Emma in Columbus three years ago and Emma introduced me to Jeni's ice cream. 

Their newest flavor is "Everything Bagel." I had to try it so I ordered some online; it arrived today.

Good news! It's delicious. The ice cream has a cream cheese base that's seasoned with everything bagel spices. You can taste onion, garlic and sesame seed. Imagine an everything bagel that's cold and sweet.

If you want a taste, drop by -- but hurry!