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?