Sunday, December 31, 2023

Happy New Year!

In the daze of this unstructured week I forgot New Year's Eve is coming; it'll arrive tomorrow. 

For some of us this is a time to reflect. I won't bore you with my thoughts; I've talked too much about myself lately. I just want to wish you a happy beginning to the rest of your life. Whatever shape you're in is the ship you'll sail into 2024. Let's leave shore with hope for good experiences, supportive friends and greater world harmony. 

Bon voyage!

Thursday, December 28, 2023


We battled heavy rain tonight to travel to New Jersey and watch the Devils win a hockey game. They played the Columbus Blue Jackets and the game was exciting. 

The Devils were behind until the literal last minute of regulation time when Luke Hughes (Jack's younger brother) tied it up 3-3. Then, in sudden-death overtime, Timo Meier found the back of the net with a blazing wrist-shot which won the game. It was good to see Timo score; he's been battling back from an injury suffered last month.

Hockey teaches us about global culture. The sport originated in Canada so naturally it was first played by Canucks. Today however players come from everywhere. Timo was born and raised in Switzerland. One of my favorite Devils, Ondřej Palát, scored the first goal tonight; he comes from the Czech Republic. Ondřej's name has two punctuation marks I've never seen before; initially I had no idea how to pronounce it.

The closer you look at the world, the more you see. 😎

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Returning to My Roots

I started this blog as a place to explore female fashion. The blog detoured this year, unavoidably, into a chronicle of my life-changing vision-loss. That was, however, just a temporary off-ramp: I plan to return to fashion-blogging as soon as possible. 

Since I can't create and photograph an outfit right now I thought I'd pull one out of the past to re-capture the vibe I want for this place. Joyful, not sad. Feminine, not medical. Here's the ensemble, festive and a little sparkly.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Mathematics and Reality

I'm hooked on a new TV show and want to mention it: "Carol & The End Of The World" (Netflix, 2023).

The show is written with uncommon intelligence. It subtly criticizes Western culture and our ideas about life and death -- especially those on "the meaning of life." The show is also emotionally appealing; the main character, Carol, is easy to sympathize with.

I was super-excited to see a reference in the show's dialogue to famous physicist Eugene Wigner, someone everyone ought to know. Hugely influential (he, along with Einstein, convinced FDR to create the Manhattan Project) Wigner, in his later years (he lived to 92), considered the philosophy of mathematics. He concluded that human understanding of nature, advanced by mathematics, is a "mystery" with both gifts and potential surprises. Our understanding of reality is founded on our biological abilities -- and dependent on them. Living creatures with other abilities (e.g., animals on our planet; extraterrestrial life-forms) may have different, more accurate grasps on reality. (See, "An Immense World.") 

Human knowledge is not necessarily complete or true in an absolute sense. It's just the best our species has come up with. We should, and epistemologically need to respect the intelligence of other living creatures; theirs may surpass our own.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

"Santa's On Line Two..."

A call came in this week from the North Pole. It was the big guy. Santa himself.

The jolly one asked whether you were naughty or nice this year. I happily reported that you'd been VERY NICE. And that's true.

You found compassion in your heart for a struggling friend. Your kindness rescued that poor soul from a pit of despair. Your support returned him to the streets of New York -- on two legs instead of two wheels but there nonetheless. You should be proud of your generosity. Santa is; he said so in his bellowing deep voice.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And thank you.

Friday, December 15, 2023


Sixty years ago I took pleasure in small things. Like I enjoyed wearing this winter coat and hat for their warm comfort. I was unaware of how unstylish they looked. 

Childhood can be a happy time and fortunately it was for me.

Monday, December 11, 2023


A new week arrived today. Some stuff crossing my path:

- How you doin' with holiday gifts and cards? I'm almost done. Buying, addressing and mailing real cards took Herculean effort this year, including a close call with a car which ran a red light as I was crossing Route 110 on a mile-long walk to the Post Office. Please forgive me if the postage stamp on your card is a little crooked; I was a bit shaken.

- The LA Dodgers just agreed to pay a baseball player $700,000,000. The player, from Japan, is unique among today's talent in having the ability to both pitch and hit very well. The 10-year contract is the highest amount given to an athlete in any sport. Go, Dodgers!

- I just dodged a bullet: my eye doctors thought I needed more surgery -- which they described as "very painful" -- but "injections" (where they stick needles in my eye) are working well enough to avoid the operation. The same doctors describe injections as "not painful" (wrong!) so when they say something is "very painful," be afraid. Very afraid.

- Seeing how successful the JITO "airdrop" was last week, I'm considering similar airdrops on Solana (a blockchain competing with Ethereum). I prudently stayed away from investing in Solana which soared from $0 to $250 very quickly but then crashed due to FTX. Solana is now resurrected at $60. I'm still avoiding it as too volatile for investing but an airdrop is free money so why not?

- My laptop kept locking up  and crashing so I bought a new one. Haven't set it up yet but, since the device entered my house, the old laptop started working perfectly again. I suspect the old one realizes I'm about to dump it and, like a neglectful spouse, is promising to behave better. Should I trust it? It's burned me before. 🙂

Have a great week!

Friday, December 8, 2023

Roaring Twenties

In 2019 I predicted (here and elsewhere) that the upcoming decade would be a rollicking, wild ride full of unexpected changes. I called these years "the roaring Twenties." Rarely have I been so right.

Just three months into the 2020s we suffered a global pandemic that halted everything, caused major disruptions around the world and killed millions. In 2022, Russia, a country in slow decline, suddenly invaded its neighbor Ukraine and was surprised to see the West unite against that aggression. Then, the next year the Middle East blew up (again). Also this year I lost my eyesight -- didn't see that coming.

Finally, in 2024 I became insanely uber-wealthy from investments in crypto. Previous naysayers on the wisdom of those investments started knocking on my door with a different attitude, asking to board my new private jet and 200-foot luxury yacht. Fortunately I'm able to afford security now to keep the hoi polloi at bay.

Yes, it's been a wild, crazy ride. :)

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Happy Holidays

The holiday season has arrived. 

I was just chatting with a friend about memories of childhood Christmas celebrations with my family (all of whom are now gone). Those memories are so precious. 

Here's my favorite photo from back then. My mother dressed Richard and me in our finest attire and posed us in front of a roaring fireplace. The fireplace was fake (cardboard) but the love was real.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Word Of The Year

Do you have rizz?

Do you know what "rizz" is? Oxford English Dictionary just named rizz Word Of The Year. Rizz is a popular term among youngsters, appearing in memes and on TikTok. If you're unfamiliar with rizz, you old. :)

Rizz means charm, style, attractiveness. The word was created by young people who were too lazy to pronounce all of the syllables of "charisma" and chose just one of them.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Old Friends

Some people matter to us beyond their lifetime. I celebrate those people for the good they contributed to the world and the positive effects they had on my own life.

25 years ago I met Geoff, a fellow-motorcyclist. Geoff was a fascinating fellow, deeply knowledgeable about many subjects. Long before math-based cryptology became well-known for encryption Geoff worked in that field and educated me about it. He opened my eyes to various scientific developments. His hobbies included unusual adventures like building an electric motorcycle and "jail-breaking" his Apple cellphone to remove proprietary restrictions. 

Of course what really drew me to Geoff wasn't his intellect but his irreverence. His personality was rare: deviant but rational, offbeat but playful, and constantly comedic. When you were with Geoff, you laughed heartily. Riding with Geoff was fun, too; he'd twist his body sideways, then backwards and lie flat on his back while riding a motorcycle at 40 mph. I remember laughing in my helmet at Geoff's crazy antics and hoping he wouldn't crash.

Geoff taught me to explore new things, ignore convention and lighten up. His heretical attitude rubbed some folks the wrong way but that was their problem, not his. Geoff was fun to be around and truly educational if you paid attention.

I think about Geoff now because he passed away in December eleven years ago. He was only 40-something and was tragically struck down by a brain-tumor that came out of nowhere. A reminder that our lives are fragile and can disappear in an instant. We should remember our friends. I miss Geoff and celebrate his legacy.

Saturday, November 25, 2023


Some of my best photographs are accidents.

I snapped a shot of a young woman at a Devils game. She was wearing face-paint which is not unusual in that setting. The woman was ten feet in front of me; behind her are men 150 feet away on the other side of the ice rink. Because of that disparity in distance, the woman appears LARGE and the men look SMALL. 

Reviewing the photo I saw this visual illusion and decided to play with it. If we crop the picture, the woman -- whom I'm sure is a lovely person -- transforms into a hideous monster about to bite defenseless little men. Wild paint on her face adds to that interpretation. 

I later learned this woman is Echidna, immortal goddess of Greek mythology. Known as the "Mother of Monsters," Echidna has the face of a seductive woman and the body of a dragon. Echidna drags her victims to an underground pit where she devours them alive. Rumors say her pit is beneath the Newark ice rink.

Who'd have guessed Echidna'd be at a "Devils" game? :)

Friday, November 24, 2023

Clever Solution

I'm taking Robin to a Devils game today. 3pm! 

After their top two players got hurt a few games ago the team has been struggling. Someone suggested unplugging the team and then plugging them back in again. I'll try it at the Rock this afternoon. :)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Holidays!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. :)

One of the best things we can do today is right in the holiday's name: give thanks. Be grateful for good stuff in our lives. Doing that provides perspective frequently absent in the grind of daily activity.

All of us learn at some point that life contains both good and bad. As a child I believed adulthood would be one fate or the other. I was wrong. Premature deaths of my mother and brother in the early 1990s showed me harsh reality. Alongside grief, however, my life also contains happiness, beauty, insight and pleasure. Receiving mixed experiences it's up to us to decide what to focus on. The good or the bad.

My life right now is the ultimate half-full glass. I have one eye that works and one that doesn't. I have one ear that works and a second that doesn't. I have one leg that's pain-free and another that isn't. I'm half-blind, half-deaf and half-lame. Destiny has given me the metaphorical half-full glass with precise accuracy and challenges me to figure out how to react.

We all face this choice over and over again. Our decisions define us. Attitudes we adopt, strength we muster or fail to summon affect our present and future. I struggled this year with darkness bleaker than I knew existed and understand why some folks give up. In pits of despair you can't see the light of normal life; sometimes you don't even know which way is up. You struggle and hope or surrender and die. The situation can become that stark.

I'm grateful to be alive, to see partially, to hear most of what's said in conversation. Suffering for months I clung to hope of someday returning to society. I wasn't sure my impairments would allow that. I wanted to re-connect with friends. I wanted to continue experiencing joy. Then, good news arrived: I can do these things. Not without obstacles, not without effort but I can be happy. You saw a few days ago that buddies of mine -- whose comaraderie I've enjoyed for 20 years -- rescued me with a day-long motorcycle trip. That's something I was sure was lost to my future. But past friendship paid off in major ways. Other friends have similarly stepped up and eased my new burdens. The lesson: as long as we're alive there's reason to hope. We should not give up.

So, today, I'm thankful for my life. Half the glass may have spilled out but another half remains. That's enough to work with. On this holiday try to appreciate what is in your glass, as full or empty as it is. Happy holidays!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Champagne Run

During our ride today my friend Jaime paid me the highest compliment a biker can give his passenger -- "I forgot you were back there."

Friday, November 17, 2023

On The Road Again...

On Sunday I'm going to do something I thought I'd never do again -- ride a motorcycle. No, I won't be operating the bike; my friend Jaime will. He offered me the back seat on his touring bike (BWM K1200LT). I used to own that exact same model (in 2002-2014). The bike is a behemoth designed for long-distance touring.

We're doing a full day's ride with the Nassau Wings, traveling to several North Fork vineyards. We'll buy local wines for the holidays. I always get blueberry port; it's not available anywhere but at the winery (Duck Walk Vineyards). It's delicious.

In the old days this ride was initially named after Jaime and me because we conceived the idea for it. Since then "Jaime and Ralph's Champagne Run" has become an annual tradition. I'm excited to attend it again, back on two wheels.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Working In The Coal Mine

I think I camake you laugh at my misfortune. Well, not my blindness per se but rather my weird efforts to improve the situation. Some are downright comical.

I can see, sorta, but have visual impairments. These make life difficult and treacherous. I've struggled for months to conceive and craft practical solutions. Here are two examples. (There are dozens more.)

I've lost depth-perception: I can't judge how close or far away things are. This poses constant problems, the biggest being injury from bumping into things. Early on my legs, body and head were frequently bruised from unplanned collisions with stationary objects like furniture and walls. Equally perilous are stairs: I can't see which is the last step and, oops! down I go. You probably don't know but many staircases and escalators in public places have yellow stripes across the last step. They aren't noticed by sighted folk but are invaluable to me. They signal where stairs end and when to get off escalators. They save my ass regularly.

I came up with a way to avoid bumping into things from a terrific book I read last year ("An Immense World"). The book describes innumerable ways animals perceive their environment, many of which exceed our own physical senses, such as seeing lightwaves outside the human range. I thought, if I was a six foot tall insect with poor eyesight, how could I sense my environment other than through eyesight? The answer is obvious: I would use antennae.

I wasn't born with antennae but I can use my front legs (you call them arms) as such. I stretch them out in front of me, in a diamond-shape, to detect nearby objects as I move through space. Every day my arms brush up against something I'm glad I didn't slam into with my face or body. The maneuver saves me from injury. I use this technique in private settings to avoid alarming anyone but you can picture me as a tall insect with outstretched antennae and laugh. It's okay.

A second example is even funnier. My biggest visual impairment is darkness. What I see (with my one good eye) is only half as bright as what you see. Even when I add powerful lamps to a room the lighting is still not bright enough to see clearly. Peering through darkness is my constant curse. I have, however, discovered a partial solution.

A headlamp. The kind coal miners use. They sell them today to hikers and outdoorsy folk for nighttime activities. Using one (at maximum brightness) I can suddenly read labels on file folders, see contents of boxes and get shit done. Before I found this I was stymied in doing the most basic tasks. Now, looking like a coal miner, I'm productive.

This, also, is something I do in private. If you walk into the room and see me using one, you'll laugh. How can you not? The sight is inherently funny. Particularly since I'm singing coal mining songs while I labor. (My favorite is "Dyin' To Make A Livin'.")

It's important to enjoy humor wherever we can find it, especially in hard times. When I see myself doing something odd (but effective!) I laugh. And so should you. It's healthy.

Friday, November 3, 2023


It's natural on birthdays to look back at life. 

In 66 years I've seen things. Good and bad. Had experiences both banal and intense. Some were unexpected.

As a young adult I lived cautiously but got bored with that. Later I tried riskier activities (motorcycles! solo travel!) and found excitement. Adventure is fun even with attached danger. Ironically we often skate unharmed through perilous situations but get smacked when doin' nothing. My conclusion is you might as well choose excitement 'cause bad stuff's gonna find you anyway.

Wisdom? Be compassionate; we're all in this together. Be curious; the world is more interesting than we're told. Be courageous and see what's out there. The best parts of life are vivid experiences and the friends we meet along the way. Those pleasures counter-balance the suffering we face. Finally, smile, whenever possible. It helps.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Halloween (#5)

Halloween Costume #5: Creating the last costume displayed in this series, a mermaid, I went all out. I employed props and designed lighting for an oceanic photoshoot. The prospect of becoming a mermaid filled me with bouyant enthusiasm. Believing there are no creative limits on Halloween projects, I dove into this one. Afterward I went for a long swim among my fellow sea-creatures.

Detecting a thread in these costumes? Half-fish. Half-deer. Half-romantic. You might suspect I'm only half-normal. I wouldn't dispute that. The other half, my friends, is a mystery. :)

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Halloween (#4)

Halloween Costume #4: Great character in a classic film -- Rick (Humphrey Bogart) in "Casablanca." Here's looking at you, kid.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Halloween (#3)

Halloween Costume #3: Twenty years ago "Alias" was an exciting television show. It was created by JJ Abrams. The show stars Jennifer Garner as secret agent Sydney Bristow. Packed with action, "Alias" ran for five years and was very popular (2001-2006). If you've never seen it, you're in for a treat; you can find it on DVD and streaming platforms (e.g., Amazon Freevee).

You know how much I like secret agents and espionage stories. A decade ago I dressed up as Sydney Bristow for Halloween (2013). Yes, that's a gun and grenade strapped to my leg. I use them to escape when my cover is blown at fancy cocktail parties.

A spy must be a master of disguise willing to fully commit to a false identity and utilize it to accomplish our mission. When the fate of the world is at stake, half-measures are not enough. You need to fully commit, as I do here. :)

Friday, October 27, 2023

Halloween (#2)

Halloween Costume #2: "Sweet Tooth" is a fantasy TV show on Netflix (2021+). Its main character is a boy named Gus who is half-human, half-deer. The story revolves around Gus searching for his mother in a dangerous apocalypse.

Charmed by the character and story, I chose to portray Gus on Halloween two years ago. Note the deer ears and antlers!

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Halloween (#1)

Halloween delights me. The holiday grants us freedom to have fun and be creative. Everything is allowed.

I try not to miss such opportunity but, this year, I can't participate. My condition precludes making a costume and photographing it. I've tried -- and failed -- to take pictures recently because my eyesight just isn't good enough. Perhaps by next year I'll discover a work-around.

In the meantime I thought it'd be fun to re-visit some old Halloween costumes of mine. From now until Halloween I'm gonna display my favorite past costumes, one a day. Let's start with my all-time best outfit (below). 

Can you guess who I am? Hint: "It's finger-lickin' good."

Tuesday, October 24, 2023


I've vowed to stop posting about Bitcoin (and other crypto) because most people don't have any interest in the subject. Which is fine; this is America; everyone gets to choose how to live their life. I don't want to bore you; I just thought I was being helpful alerting everyone to valuable news. Before I stop, let me issue one last post as I go silent.

Bitcoin is soon going to soar to the Moon and beyond. Ice is thawing in the current "crypto-winter" and first cracks appeared today causing BTC's value to jump significantly. The reason BTC is going to explode are inevitable governmental approvals of "spot ETFs." The first approval might happen this year; several are almost certain next year. (We're talking about U.S. government; ETFs are available in other countries.)

Long story short: the SEC, under lobbying influence from the banking industry, has been opposing crypto-currency by (1) refusing to develop regulations (which have already been adopted in Europe); (2) refusing to approve any of dozens of proposed ETFs over the past five years, and (3) pursuing misguided enforcement actions.

SEC has been suffering judicial losses in those enforcement actions, including a recent major defeat of their core argument (claiming that cryptos are "securities"). While final outcomes in those cases are years away (since SEC vows to appeal its defeats) and, thus, not going to cause change soon, movement on ETFs is going to happen more quickly and will have immense impact.

SEC was sued by one of the largest financial institutions for dragging its heels in reviewing their ETF application. A District Court directed SEC to move forward with the review. SEC did not. Today the same Court ordered SEC to do its job or face contempt sanctions. This is like your parent getting loud and signaling your delay going to bed is over. You realize they're serious this time.

There is no legitimate ground to deny approving spot ETFs. None. SEC, against its desire to continue protecting banks from competition, will have to take this action or face more litigation from a powerful opponent (and others). Lobbying money spent by banks to influence the SEC to neglect doing its job won't be efficacious any more in the face of firm judicial pressure.

Approving ETFs will open a floodgate of investment money which will flow into crypto and pump prices up dramatically. The only question is when. I recommend getting in before this happens. That, of course, is an individual decision and I won't mention the subject again. 

Good luck. Be safe out there.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Money and Bathrooms

As hard as my life is now, I'm hanging on -- and seeing improvement. Last night, for example, I had dinner with friends at my favorite restaurant (Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor). During the three-hour meal, I made $52,000. Really!

One of my larger stock-holdings is Netflix (NFLX). The company released third-quarter earnings at 6 pm and instantly soared 12%. Between appetizers and dessert I made a tidy profit.

Dinner was delightful and our conversation was charming. The only downside was midway through the meal when I needed to use the  bathroom. Eager to display my new independence I declined assistance and ventured off by myself. The restaurant was dark; my vision is only half as bright as it used to be and I wandered, wandered, wandered. Eventually I asked staff and they pointed in directions but that didn't help; I couldn't see the door even when standing in front of it. During my expedition I visited the restaurant's basement and didn't find a restroom there either. 

As tough as this was it was still better than my experience at the Rock (the arena where the Devils play). My friend Charlie led me to the bathroom entrance and I went inside. After doing my business I looked for a way out and couldn't find one. I couldn't see any opening in the white walls and circled around and around inside the large room. Eventually Charlie realized something was wrong, came in and rescued me. 

I want to be as self-sufficient as before but impaired vision presents some obstacles. At least I'm trying -- and making money while I eat. 

Friday, October 13, 2023

Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th! In October, the spookiest month of the year! Are you superstitious? 

Fortunately I don't suffer from  paraskevidekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th). I took a long walk this morning, crossed the busiest street on Long Island several times and rewarded my courage with a hot cup of java at a distant Starbucks. All without incident. No problems at all. I'm sure your day will go smoothly too.

While I have you, can I share something? Let me begin by saying I try to be joyful. I try to spread happiness in the world. Something was bothering me and I reflected on it during my walk. I've decided to spin the experience around, deplete it of distress and try to adopt a healthy attitude. Let me know what you think.

When facing mortal peril our emotions become super-charged. Small gestures possess heightened importance. A single kind word feels like a mountain of support. The opposite, however, is equally true.

Almost all of my friends (like you!) have offered sympathetic words during my ordeal this year. I appreciate that more deeply than you realize. Your support lifted me out of despair so dark I can't even describe its pit. Learning I have friends, hearing they care re-connected me to life. I was teetering on a cliff where all prospects were possible, including falling off.

That's the good news. 95% of my friends lived up to the label and receive huge credit and appreciation from me. 

There are, however, a few who did not offer support. The 5% who disappeared. I reached out to them seeking to include them in my journey and discovered they don't want to hear about it. Or from me.

I understand I'm an acquired taste and not everybody wants to be my friend. I accept that. But dumping me when I'm suffering seems cruel. These are people I thought were friends -- certainly I treated them as such -- so their rejection at this moment hurts. I don't know what shambolic thoughts these folks have (maybe they're afraid blindness is contagious) but their coldness felt awful.

After considering this I've just decided to let it go. I have plenty of friends willing to accept gifts I offer; I needn't worry about a few who don't. Their retreat from my life is no longer a concern.

I hope your Friday the 13th is smooth sailing. :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Helping Out

I believe in helping others. Artists in particular, for two reasons.

First, their journeys are hard. Society doesn't reward or even compensate most artists for their work. They struggle simply to be able to continue in their efforts.

Second, art is a social good. A gift to humanity. We should acknowledge that. If others don't I will.

Through friends I recently became acquainted with a young glass-blower in Ohio (Ian). He's been pursuing glass for a few years and is very ambitious in his artistic goals. Ian hasn't achieved any success yet but that's okay; public attention is fickle and not a judge of merit.

Ian posted online that his car was recently broken into and the thief took all of his valuable glass-blowing equipment. Ian needs to replace the equipment to keep working but lacks funds. I contacted him privately, offered to help him purchase new equipment and mailed a check that he received today.

I can't think of a better use of that money.

(P.S., I'm not identifying Ian's last name to keep this private.)

Thursday, October 5, 2023

A New Hockey Season

I'm back, baby!

Last night my friend Charlie and I traveled to New Jersey and watched the NJ Devils beat the NY Rangers 5-2 in an exciting game. The Devils skated fast and sharp; the Rangers less so. A new hockey season is starting and, after last year's breakout success, the Devils are serious contenders. They've won all of their first six games so far. Plus, there's nobody else to root for in New York sports right now -- the Mets and Yankees failed to made the baseball playoffs; the Jets and Giants in football look awful.

Honestly I was unsure what it'd be like to watch hockey with my new visual impairments. Fortunately none of them interfered. And it was thrilling to join 18,000 other people and jump up when the Devils scored. The atmosphere at the Rock was electric with gleeful fans, colorful lights and blaring sounds. Charlie helped me safely navigate the crowd and we had fun. 

A few months ago I worried this type of experience was lost to me. But it's not; it's just harder. Rewards make the effort worthwhile.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

It's Over

This post starts sad but turns upbeat.

I just reached a terrible decision: to stop riding motorcycles. For months the prospect of this tore me up; I couldn't accept it even as its inevitability became manifest. My eyesight simply isn't good enough to ride safely anymore. Hell, I can't walk alone in a crowd, how can I pilot a dangerous vehicle in busy traffic?

Motorcycling has been central to my life for 25 years. A core activity and the source of many joys. After learning how to operate the basics in 1997 I took several MSF training courses to improve my riding skills. Later I graduated to sportbikes capable of high speed and nimble handling, hitting 140 mph at the racetrack. Equally pleasurable I expanded into long-distance touring. I traveled everywhere on my bikes, even carrying a tiny tent and camping in the woods. Best of all I met dozens of interesting new friends. Despite vast differences in background we easily bonded over our common passion. Through motorcycling I discovered a whole new world. But you already know this from my frequent accounts here of two-wheeled adventure.

Motorcycling gave me what I craved when I needed it. During the second half of my adulthood (ages 40-65) riding was a sumptuous feast I consumed voraciously, always putting a smile on my face. Who'd want that to end?

After much deliberation I've finally come to peace with this situation. It isn't really a decision at all but simply recognition of facts. The only choice I face is how to react to the news. I can't get better eyesight.

Instead of despair I'm choosing to be grateful for the wonderful life I had on motorcycles. I was lucky to incorporate them into my life and enjoy a glorious, 25-year riding career. Let's focus on that, not sadness.

In the best movie of all time a middle-aged man (Rick) fell in love with a beautiful woman (Ilsa) during WWII. They spent marvelous time together in glittering Paris. Suddenly, however, Ilsa left Rick with no explanation. Rick was crushed by the cruel loss of love. Years later Ilsa returns to Rick's cafe in Casablanca. She approaches Rick but he's in terrible pain. Rick rejects Ilsa's overture with bitter hostility. Ilsa finally explains to Rick why she left him; it's a story of patriotism that Rick ultimately accepts. He re-considers his view of their past and realizes he should build a new future for himself without her instead of remaining stuck in howling agony. The film ends with Rick and Ilsa parting again, only this time Rick is in good spirits. He tells Ilsa: "We'll always have Paris," referring to their enchanting love in that city before fate split them apart.

I'll always have motorcycling. I will carry it in my heart forever. I appreciate what riding gave me even as that now ends.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023


I don't know about you but every morning when I wake up I have to re-calibrate my attitude after assessing my situation. Here are my realizations and responses:

Still blind -- Damn

Not totally blind -- Yay, I guess

Today's gonna be hard -- Ugh. But at least I'm not dead

This dialogue happens every day. My mind needs to do it because, in dreams, my vision is perfect. Asleep, my brain hasn't caught up to reality. Then I open my eyes and it spins up-to-speed.

Friday, September 15, 2023


Bad things are unbearable

until they aren't.

We get used to new situations

no matter how hard.

Expectations about life

adjust like a thermostat

controlled by someone else.

Thursday, August 31, 2023


Tales of tenacity inspire us. Hearing how others endured terrible trauma and overcame hardship give us hope. We learn how potent determination can be when facing adversity.

A story of tenacity touched my life when I was young and I've carried it with me for half a century. There's a lesson in the story.

In 1980 I was in my second year of law school (BU). I took an elective course on Entertainment Law. The class was taught by a then-unknown local businessman; his name was Sumner Redstone.

Sumner was a visiting professor; this was the only class he taught. Sumner's business career began when he joined his father's company after serving with distinction in the military during World War II.

Sumner's father owned a small chain of movie theaters in Boston (National Amusement). During our class Sumner candidly explained the economic structure of the entertainment industry. Movie studios historically used their power -- in violation of antitrust law -- to dominate that industry. They profited unfairly by exploiting movie distributors and exhibitors. 

Unknown to most customers, movie theaters are owned by small businesses, not the studios. Because studios control whether to give or withhold popular films they can extract up to 90% of box-office revenue from exhibitors who have to settle for scraps. The only real income theater-owners make is from food concessions, which explains why theaters sell popcorn and soda at inflated prices and are strict about not letting in outside food.

In the 1940s the U.S. Dept. of Justice recognized this blatant violation of antitrust law and sued movie studios. It agreed to a Consent Order designed to re-structure the industry. Studios, however, retained their power and kept repeatedly violating the Consent Order. The Justice Department went back to court several times to enforce the Order but with little success.

Sumner Redstone realized he belonged to the weakest part of the entertainment industry. Famously declaring "Content is king," Sumner plotted a path to power. With strength and cunning Sumner acquired new businesses that enabled him to wrest control of several huge media companies. He ended up owning CBS (television), Paramount Pictures (movies), Blockbuster Video (video) and Viacom (distribution). As a result Sumner became a multi-billionaire with a net worth of $2,600,000,000.00. His extensive influence made him one of the biggest media magnates in the world. His business moves were chronicled in the press and lauded by industry observers.

This, however, is not the core of the story. It wasn't merely Sumner's rise from humble origin to big success that makes him notable. Sumner faced an earlier -- more tragic -- event that we should focus our attention upon.

We return to my personal involvement in this story. It was 1980, my second year in law school. Sumner was teaching his only course and I was rapt in it. Halfway through the seminar Sumner brought up a controversial subject about which I was uncommonly knowledgeable: i.e., pornography. 

Sumner offered the traditional view that confuses pornography with erotica and concludes obscenity law is unenforceable due to vagueness. Like innumerable speakers before him Sumner said we can't define pornography. He quoted Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who famously wrote, "I know it when I see it."

At the time I was active in radical feminist politics and supporting a new legal initiative on pornography devised by Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon. That effort specifically and importantly defined pornography, something Sumner said couldn't be done.

The lecture was held in a large auditorium. I sat in the back, far away from the teacher. After sparring with Sumner on this topic in classroom discussion I approached him after class to continue our debate. I wanted to inform him about new ideas of which he obviously hadn't heard.

When I reached the podium I was stunned. I noticed Sumner's hands and forearms were horribly disfigured; they looked like claws. I couldn't see his injury from my seat. I later learned the tale behind it.

A decade earlier Sumner had been in an upper-story hotel room at the Copley Hotel (Boston) when a fire broke out. The fire raged and he had no where to escape. Sumner retreated to a balcony and clung to its railing. Fire burned the flesh off his hands and arms while he hung on for dear life. Many people, suffering the intense pain, would have let go and dropped to their death. Sumner did not; he hung onto the railing until firefighters were able to rescue him. In his autobiography Sumner attributes his survival to his "sheer will to live."

After the fire Sumner faced more challenges. His injuries required 30 hours of extensive surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was warned he would never be able to live a normal life. Eight years later, however, Sumner was fit enough to play tennis every day. He pursued a disciplined regimen of physical exercise. It was around then that Sumner began teaching at BU. Later he went on to become a billionaire and media mogul.

Sumner lived to 97 years old; he died in 2020. Sumner lived 50 years past a day when he could have easily fallen to his death. During that half-century he not only salvaged his health, he succeeded to an extraordinary degree. Few achieve heights as rarefied as the one he reached. 

I find inspiration in this story. Sumner, through strong determination and grit, survived trauma and overcame terrible injury. That day in class when I saw up close what Sumner was living with, I was truly shocked. I couldn't imagine going through life so handicapped. And he not only persevered, he prospered.

I've written here before that there are moments in life when we face only two options: struggle or surrender. Those capable of fighting deserve applause. Such effort is virtually superhuman. I know how indescribably hard it is.

In 2012 Sumner donated $18 million to Boston University School of Law, funding construction of a five-story classroom structure now called the Sumner M. Redstone Building. Future students will benefit from Sumner's struggle; some might even learn about it.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Fine Art

At the beginning of the year I had passions and plans. Then everything crashed. Now I'm picking up pieces and seeing what I can salvage of my dreams. The news is good and bad.

A few days ago I did a necessary but painful thing: I moved my motorcycle gear from our front-door closet to storage in the basement. My leather jackets, my riding boots, my helmets -- objects I know as intimately as my arms and legs. As I held them, a wave of grief rose up and overwhelmed me. My chest heaved and my lungs started to howl. HOWL. Loud and uncontrollably. I'm surprised nobody called the cops.

Memories of motorcycle adventures crossed my mind and I realized, with profound sadness, that there will be no more. That thought crushed me. It still depresses me.

On a positive note I am turning my attention to fine art. Art was a major source of joy for me in the past and something I'd planned to pursue in the future. Some might ask "How can a blind guy appreciate VISUAL art?" The answer is: I'm not totally blind, just visually impaired. I can look at something and see part of it. If there's time I can move my head around and take in the rest of the view. With static objects (like glass art) this is possible. With moving objects (like film) it isn't. Images on a screen flash by faster than I can comprehend them.

I returned to researching artists working in glass and spoke several times to my principal art advisor. I just discovered a new artist whom I admire, Anja Isphording. Born in Germany Anja now lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. She has decades of success mastering a difficult technical process called "lost wax." The process is laborious; it takes Anja up to two months to make a single artwork. 

I like how Anja's art explores shapes from nature without literally reproducing them. You sense her imaginatory leaps which are subject to individual interpretation.

Anja's exhibiting her latest work at a gallery in Manhattan. I'm going there next week to select a piece for my collection. With glass it's important to see work in person; two-dimensional pictures don't depict them accurately. 

The prospect of returning to art cheers me up. Sitting in a pile of broken dreams I need that emotional boost.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Movie DVDs


Netflix is ending its DVD-by-mail service next month. I'm sad to see it go. 

People used to ask me why I still had the service after streaming started. My answer was simple: Netflix's DVD library is huge and contains many films that aren't available elsewhere, especially older, artistic or foreign works.

I just looked at the stats in my account and they're very interesting. I began the service in 2003, twenty years ago. Since then I've watched 2,272 films. That averages to 113 movies a year -- or one movie every three days. And nine a month.

That's a lot of movies! How much do you watch on average?

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Pee-Wee Herman

I've got good news for those of you who aren't familiar with Pee-wee Herman's cinematic ouvre. There's a surprise in it.

Pee-wee hit the big time in 1985 with his masterpiece, "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure." Directed by Tim Burton, the film is an all-time classic. It has as many memorable lines as "Casablanca," as much humor as "The Big Lebowsky" and uniquely quirky characters. I've seen it two dozen times and watched it again this week. The film holds up.

Soon after that film Pee-wee released a movie so bad we don't speak of it. Ssshhh...

The surprise is that thirty years after his first two movies, Pee-wee made a final film, "Pee-Wee's Big Holiday." Almost as good as his masterpiece, "Big Holiday" is currently available on Netflix. The most remarkable thing about the film is that at the time it was made (2016) Pee-wee (Paul Reubens) was 64 years old. 64!! And he looks exactly the same as he did thirty years earlier. Makeup helped but you have to admire someone who can do physical comedy at that age rivaling work in his prime.

The theme of "Big Holiday" is Pee-wee's friendship with actor Joe Manganiello (playing himself). Joe rides into town on a loud motorcycle, befriends Pee-wee at the diner where Pee-wee works and then takes him for a ride. Joe later invites Pee-wee to his birthday party in New York City -- encouraging Pee-wee to experience life on open road as he travels there: 

Pee-wee Herman: I've never each been on an airplane.
Joe Manganiello: No! The only thing you're gonna learn about yourself on a plane is if you like the honey-roasted peanuts better than the plain salted. If you're really hungry, the open road is a smorgasbord of life experience. A few days on the open road is worth a lifetime in Fairville. Way I see it, Pee-wee Herman, you got a choice to make. Stick around here or live a little... [Joe revs his motorcycle engine]

Pee-wee takes Joe's advice, hits the road and has a series of amusing, impossible adventures. He's taken hostage by three female bank-robbers, sees the world's scariest snake, gets taken to the wedding chapel by a farmer with nine daughters and a shotgun, jumps out of a plunging airplane, etc. 

It's a real Pee-wee film!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The Journey Back

I'm working with half of one eye. Not a full eye, just half. My vision flows through a single, narrow tunnel. I see only what's at the center of that and nothing to either side. My eyesight is also permanently dark, like being trapped in a bad nightclub.

I recently learned how to compensate for peripheral impairment by continuously rotating my head side-to-side. That's how I become aware of surroundings I'm unable to see directly.

To maintain my physical and emotional health I go on long walks, usually along the busiest road on Long Island (Route 110). (I live adjacent to it.) During walks I'm regularly threatened by 3,000 lb. creatures with tiny brains. These fat insects don't obey traffic signals and fly through intersections without slowing down. To stay safe I deploy sophisticated strategies devised to combat brainless bugs.

I travel as a pedestrian the same way I used to ride motorcycles -- with guts and grit. Anything less is hazardous. You need to display courage to convince reckless bugs to back off. They sense confidence the same way they sense fear: if they see you hesitate for an instant they charge right into your path. They're emboldened by their large size.

Robin thinks I'm crazy to play in traffic with half an eye. I respond that this is a pre-existing condition. I've been doing it (safely) my whole life and fiercely crave independence. 

At this moment I'm sipping expresso in a Starbucks a mile away from my house. I walked here and will walk home. I'm steeped in euphoria no less than if I'd summited a mountain. Three months ago I laid in a nadir of despair, totally blind and unable to imagine the future. Since then I climbed out of that existential pit, examined my diminished circumstances, crafted practical solutions and pursued all opportunities with vigor. The psychological distance between that despair and my present elation is immense. As bugs pass by me on the road they don't notice my real journey but it happened. Seen or unseen.

Monday, August 7, 2023


I saw "Barbie" today in a theater. Well, "saw" isn't exactly accurate but you know what I mean.

The film is superb and deserves its critical acclaim. It has surprisingly smart content delivered with sharp writing for intellectuals in the audience and pretty actors in lavish song-and-dance routines for the rest of the crowd. The movie hits all bases with exceptional execution.

Many aspects of the film are unexpected such as cameos and philosophical digressions. It'd spoil things to describe them so you'll have to see for yourself. This is a film everyone will be talking about and a cultural reference point.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart was one of the finest actors in cinematic history. He made dozeof films in varied genres. My favorite four are listed below. 

Unlike Bogart's famous gangster movies, the first three are romances and the fourth is a comedy. An unexpected comedy.

1. "Casablanca" (with Ingrid Bergman)

2. "The African Queen" (with Katherine Hepburn)

3. "To Have and Have Not" (with Lauren Bacall)

4. "We're No Angels" (Bogart leads a trio of escaped convicts)

Have you seen any of these? What's your favorite Bogart movie?

No, that's not Humphrey; it's me as his most famous character on Halloween (Rick).

Monday, July 31, 2023

True Love

Tiny but powerful, my mother possessed influence. Barbara Jo managed both our family and a larger social circle. Her friends were charming people with exotic names, names no longer fashionable. Like Gertrude and Walter, Cliff and Muriel, Frank and Edith. Born in the 1930s these people prospered in post-War America. My favorite name among them was Willie Wenker, a German immigrant who founded a successful fuel oil company. Willie Wenker -- it slides out of your mouth as if poetry.

Barbara Jo felt fierce commitment to our family. After raising two boys my parents moved to Florida where they settled into a comfy new home. My mother's final years (1985-1991) were spent relaxing in well-earned leisure. During that period she regularly mailed me monthly checks, unsolicited gifts designed to ease my financial situation. It was the beginning of my law career and I could use support. 

My first legal job was found after a long, desperate search. My boss, an exploitive tyrant, paid me the least he figured he could get away with in tough market conditions ($10,000/year). I later discovered our secretary was making more money than I was.

The monthly gifts from my mother were appreciated. In addition to enabling me to enjoy a slightly better life-style her checks represented something else: reminder of her maternal love. Emotionally the mail erased geographical distance between us.  Envelopes arrived with the reliable frequency of a Swiss timepiece.

Near the end of my mother's life she struggled with physical pain from cancer. She never complained and refused to even acknowledge her illness. The only clue was her new wigs and turbans. Barbara Jo was stoic and strong to the end.

Checks from my mom were written in a steady hand -- the same hand that had cradled me as an infant, fed me as a child and led me through life. I viewed her steady hand as a pillar, something always there that could be counted on. As certain as the Sun rose in the morning, my mother's love existed and sustained me.

Then, suddenly, something happened. One day I casually opened my mail and saw a check written in shaky handwriting, manifestly unlike its predecessors. This check stopped me in my tracks. Looking at it I shuddered. The check's paper, account, amount and envelope were all same as usual but my mother's infirm hand betrayed her deteriorating health. I realized she couldn't really write any more and had slowly, painfully forced herself to spell out my name letter-by-letter in a heroic act of devotion. A last, significant act powered by sheer will. 

I'll never forget that check or its significance. Barbara Jo taught us to care deeply and be Herculean in our devotion to loved ones. I honor her by following that example and spreading her lesson. 

Monday, July 17, 2023

Riding Through The Storm

Have you missed me?

I've been struggling with my eyesight for the past five months. Initially my blindness was called a temporary, normal effect of illness. Later it was misdiagnosed by an optometrist as cataracts (which can be easily fixed). Then an ophthalmologist corrected that mistake and announced the condition is glaucoma, not cataracts. Glaucoma causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve and permanent blindness. 

Glaucoma has already destroyed all vision in my left eye. We're trying to save my right eye from the same fate. Five eye doctors are treating me, including specialists like a neuro-ophthalmologist and a renowned eye surgeon. 

I took powerful glaucoma medications for months. They had horrible side-effects: e.g., constant nausea, erratic sleep, digestive distress. I lost 20 lbs. and now need new belts.

The medication helped the glaucoma but not enough so I then began a series of eye operations. The first surgery (laser iriodomy) drilled two holes in my head. Literally -- the doctor used a laser-beam and drilled new holes in my head. That certainly wasn't on my Bingo card. The surgery helped a little but not enough. Glaucoma was still causing dangerously high pressure in my eye and threatening total blindness.

Last month I had two more surgeries in a single operation. One installed a drainage-shaft shunt in my eye-socket. The combined operation took over five hours and was excruciatingly painful. The surgeon kept me awake and used only local anesthesia. He did that so I could assist him by moving my eye during the procedure. He sewed fifteen filaments onto my eyeball to anchor the shunt. The pain was worse than anything I've ever expeerienced -- including the time I laid dying on a cold roadway twenty years ago after being knocked off my motorcycle by a reckless motorist. (During that trauma I struggled to breathe despite four broken ribs and a collapsed lung.)

In this operation the surgeon also removed my eye's natural lens and replaced it with a new artificial one. I was given official laminated cards for explaining to TSA/security in the future why I have multiple foreign objects inside my head.

Nobody knows how well these treatments will work. I'm trying to avoid despair and instead focus on re-building my life. There are many practical adjustments available to improve things.

I couldn't have made it this far without extensive assistance from Robin. She transports me to doctor appointments (2-3 each  week), puts drops in my eyes (5-6 each day) and leads me by the hand through grocery stores. Robin even learned how to help with cooking: she's now a talented sous-chef which surprised her as much as you. 

Poor eyesight makes everything difficult. At first I couldn't put toothpase on my brush and had to figure out a work-around. You're also vulnerable to injury from collision with poles, objects, pedestrians and moving cars. I have bruises to prove this. 

We never know what's ahead of us and life can sometimes become very hard. When it does the only choices are struggle or surrender. That's where I am today.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

"How Good It Feels"


I know what it's like to be loved

I know how well it feels

I know what it's like to have someone to love

To share the air they breathe

And I know what it's like when they leave

I know what it's like to be young

I know what it's like to be free

I know what it's like to be out in front

I know what it's like to climb trees

And drop like falling leaves

I know what it's like to be hurt

I know what it's like to bleed

I know what it's like to be misunderstood

And know the truth concealed


I know what it's like to be lost

Crying in the swirling crowd

I know what it's like when a hand comes...

And lifts me off the ground

I know what it's like to be found...

- Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam (2023)

  "How Good It Feels" (Excerpt)


Friday, June 16, 2023

Cat Stevens

I've been listening to a lot of music lately. (Connect the dots.) I mean really listening to it -- as we did in the Seventies. Back then spinning vinyl was done with serious purpose: we treated albums as art and studied them closely.

Most of my current listening has been to half-century old vinyl but today is an exception. Months ago I pre-ordered the latest album by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam). It was released today and I got both digital and records versions

There are very few musicians whom I'll buy an unheard album from but Yusuf is one of them. His songs are magical, full of beauty and mysticism.

"King Of A Land" doesn't disappoint. Its songs are sweet and melodic with lyrics that are deep. Yusuf's voice is as strong as ever. You'd never guess he's 74 years old and that it's been 56 years since his first album. Yusuf spent a decade creating this collection of songs and that care shows. Critics (and I) are praising it as mature, interesting work.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

On Life And Death

One of the great writers of our time, David Foster Wallace, delivered a highly influential speech in 2005. Three years later, when he was only 46 years old, Wallace killed himself. 

Wallace's masterpiece novel, "Infinite Jest," has been acclaimed one of the best novels of the last hundred years. Wallace and his work are universally lauded. A writing class is taught on his ouvre at Harvard, a literary Society and professional Journal are devoted to his writing and a movie was made about his life. When he was young Wallace tried but abandoned a doctorate program at Harvard because it bored him: Wallace explained that philosophy requires only "50% of his brain" whereas creative writing uses "97%."

So what did David Foster Wallace talk about in his famous speech? He advanced two important positions. The first is that our "default setting," installed at birth, is our natural but mistaken belief that we are the center of the universe. If we consider ourselves and our interests as the sole focal point of all experience, we miss seeing reality outside our heads. Wallace illustrates this and how it leads to distorted, numb existence.

His second position points a way out of this dilemma. "I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about 'the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master'."

French philosopher Albert Camus, of whom I've written in the past, believed the only true question for us is: why not suicide? "There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide." Camus saw the question arising naturally as a solution to the absurdity of life.

Camus, unlike David Foster Wallace and most of us, witnessed the carnage and destruction of World War II first-hand. He fought the Nazis as a member of the French Resistance. If anyone was entitled to be a Gloomy Gus, it was Camus. Horrifying experiences inflicted existential despair on millions of war-time survivors.

Like Wallace, Camus was also widely admired. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. Two years later Camus died: he was 46 years old, the same age Wallace was at his death.

I have no urge toward suicide. I confess that on dark days I sometimes lose the will to live -- but that's categorically different from actively extinguishing one's existence. I view life as too precious a gift, even when damaged by injured senses, to go to the Return Counter. I'll exploit my opportunity for experience, as limited as it now is, without moaning What Has Happened To Me? (the default setting Wallace warns us about). Let's see what the future holds for all of us.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Things You Don't Expect

I had two new holes drilled in my head this week. Literally. Two new physical holes were drilled in my head. Their purpose is to create drainage for circulating eye fluids.

This ranks among The Things I Never Expected. It joins removal of a chunk of my tongue (2018) and having a tube jammed into my chest (without anesthesia) to inflate a collapsed lung (2002). As Pee-Wee Herman says, "They don't teach you this stuff in school."

I could tell you about the laser iridotomy but don't have energy or enthusiasm for that. I've been sleeping all day and night since it happened Thursday. While I hope this will be the last eye surgery I need, that's unrealistic: I'll likely need more -- and that stuff is even worse. Right now I want to physically and emotionally recover before facing anything further.  

When I was a child my family ate dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. I was excited to get a fortune cookie that predicted I'd have "an eventful life." If only I'd realized...