Thursday, April 18, 2024

Saying Goodbye

When my eyes failed last year I owned four motorcycles (and two cars). I decided to keep two of the motorcycles for sentimental reasons -- and also possible display in the future -- and sell the remaining two bikes. The machines designated for sale were my speed-rocket (BMW S1000R) and my comfortable touring bike (BMW K1600GTL).

Both bikes are relatively new (8-9 years old) and in good shape. I thought it'd be selfish to leave them in the garage to rust when someone else could be riding them with enjoyment. Plus the bikes themselves want to be ridden. That's their design, purpose and destiny.

As you know I gave away my sportbike for free to Bob, a close friend who needed that particular bike. Bob is short and the saddle's height fits him perfectly.  Then this week I found a buyer for the touring machine. A casual (but not close) friend wanted a touring motorcycle but couldn't afford one. (They're expensive: my GTL cost $30,000 when I bought it new.) I decided to solve his and my problems by selling the bike to him for half of its market value and spreading out his payments over time. He was overwhelmed by that arrangement since it made the difference between him getting such a bike or not. He picked the bike up Tuesday night.

As much as I believe this was the right move I still shed a tear. This motorcycle was my ticket to adventure. I rode it on all kinds of trips, like a jaunt up to Toronto to visit Suzanne (pictured) and solo camping trips in New Hampshire. If you're careful you can carry a small tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, cooking gear, etc. on the bike. I loved how self-sufficient I felt heading into the woods on two wheels. Great memories.

The bike has "hard luggage" which allowed me to go shopping and carry stuff home. Like bags of groceries, bunches of flowers, vinyl records and thrift-shop clothing. There was nothing I couldn't use the bike for. I even rode slowly through cemeteries on it to pay respect to departed ones and take photographs. The GTL was completely integrated into my life. It was my partner. Capable, reliable and fun. Always fun.

I'll miss it. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

Snowdonia Cheese

Listen up, kiddies. There's a prize in this Cracker Jack box -- valuable information on living well.

Due to my upbringing (immigrant parents) it's not my nature to indulge myself. But I've learned that rewards, even small ones, can be powerful motivators. So I grant myself little pleasures when I do something hard, like a hot cup of strong coffee at the end of a long hike. The prospect of a reward helps you push through tough stuff.

I recently achieved a major financial goal that deserves celebrating so I'm pampering myself with some of the best cheese in the world.

Like everyone else I love cheese. For health reasons I've cut back on dairy and consume cheese only rarely now. So when I do have it I get high quality.

I once worked at a cheese shop in Boston which sold 365 varieties. The owner encouraged us to try them all so we could better guide customers. As a result I know cheese. During that employment I was a poor student so I'd arrive at work hungry and eat pounds of cheese. Literally pounds. That was my meal for the day. It's a wonder I'm still alive. 🙂

The best cheese in the world is not made in Wisconsin; it's not crafted in France. The best cheese in the world comes from North Wales, made my prize-winning cheesemongers at Snowdonia Cheese Company.  That area is sparsely populated: there are really more sheep there than humans.

What makes a great cheese? Well you have to start with exceptional milk. The milk used at Snowdonia comes from well-tended animals in rural Wales with no hormones or weird crap American producers use. You can taste the lush Welsh vegetation in milk from these animals. Another practice at Snowdonia is they age their cheese in caves. Real caves where climate and humidity are perfect for long-term aging.

The company's website is informative but obviously geared to European customers. Prices are listed in British currency. The company offers 15 varieties of cheese but sadly only two kinds are available in this country. One is their premier cheese, an extra-mature cheddar (Black Bomber) and a second is a less mature cheddar enhanced with Scotch whisky (Amber Mist). (Over there they don't spell whisky with an "e".) I bought two small wheels of each (7 oz.). The cheese is protected by molten wax covering.

Black Bomber, the extra-mature cheddar, is a delight. Its flavor is deep and rich. It will please most cheddar-lovers. A big plus is that despite its age the cheese's consistency is pleasant and moist. Most old cheese gets dried out and full of crunchy crystals. Snowdonia avoids that by using caves.

I have yet to try their other kinds of cheese (and am lusting after Red Leicester) so put a trip to Wales on my bucket list!


Thursday, March 28, 2024

Spring Break?

They said go south in Winter. They said it's warmer down there. Well... let me report South Jersey is just as cold as New York. 

More exotic (Wawa instead of 7-Eleven) but just as cold. :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2024


Why do we follow sports? Answers are as diverse as fans.

I differ from most fans because... well, I'm different. I enjoy watching elite athleticism on display: e.g., Manny Ramirez hitting a home-run for the Boston Red Sox. I like communal elation. There's nothing more visceral than 20,000 people exploding in thunderous roar when the Devils score a goal at their home arena. And, not insignificantly, I like insider-knowledge.

Many sports like hockey develop their own language with phrases and even ideas unique to it. Take this sentence for example: "In the third frame Allen displayed poise between the pipes." Would anyone except a hockey fan know what the hell that means?!

A last reason for following sports is to share an activity with friends. Games give us something fun to talk about. Instead of debating politics or fearing war, we can join together and celebrate our teams' victories, assign blame for their defeats and opine how we'd run things if we were a billionaire owner. These are fun diversions. 

For proof see this picture I snapped of a friend at a Devils game a few years ago. Even though she roots for a rival team (whom we shall not name but was just trounced by the Devils) her allegiance is no impediment to our enjoying a game together. The joy on her face is palpable and records one of my favorite sports memories.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Road Trip!

After being confined to my neighborhood for a year since my eyes went bad I'm down in South Jersey. I coaxed Robin into a short trip here. This is where Robin grew up so I guessed it would be the most comfortable place for her to visit. I was itching to get away from home and hit the open road.

The experience has been very instructive on learning what I can and can't do now. Or, more precisely, what I can do unassisted and what I need some help with.  That's critical knowledge to acquire: i want to travel in the future and need to overcome some steep challenges.

To sate a primal yearning we're going to Ocean City tomorrow. I want to touch water and feel the ocean's energy. 

Can a blind man make art? I haven't taken a single photograph since my eyes went haywire. I brought film and digital cameras with me on this trip and will give them a shot, so to speak. Should be eye-opening. The beach is always beautiful in Winter; I hope to capture some of that magic even if the pictures are fuzzy.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

A Chapter Closes

The biggest casualty of my vision's decline was losing the ability to ride motorcycles. As you know that activity was a HUGE part of my life. A passion, even. I rode for 25 years. Motorcycling rescued me from life behind a desk which had grown dull. Riding took me outdoors, added excitement and adventure to my days, and dramatically boosted my morale.

During those years I owned seven bikes. My favorite among them is a speedy rocket, the BMW S1000R. This bike is fast and fun. Capable of hitting 160 mph it offered me thrills on the most ordinary of days. I'd take it out, head for an empty stretch of highway and accelerate faster than I previously thought possible. No one saw my smiles but they fed my soul. They gave me strength.

The bike is relatively new and in mint condition. I considered selling it, which would have been easy given its popularity, but then this week an old friend (Bob) inquired about it. His current bike is too tall for him (he's short) and he wondered if my S1000R fit his stature. 

I invited Bob over this morning and he brought his lovely wife Joan. We had an enjoyable, long brunch in my kitchen with coffee, bagels and fruit. Afterward he sat on the motorcycle and pronounced it perfect. I knew it would fit him given the narrow shape of its seat. 

Before I say what happened next let me preface that by explaining how close a friend Bob is to me. Back when I was first learning how to ride, Bob encouraged and advised me. When I had an accident on the Goethals Bridge he came and helped me bring a damaged bike home. Every Christmas he and Joan invite us over their house for sumptuous dinner with a dozen friends. Bob's a wonderful guy whose generosity improved my life many times.

So, when Bob announced he wanted to buy the bike and brought up the subject of price, I didn't negotiate. I gave him the bike for free. Of course I had to argue with him a bit about taking it but I was firm and he finally relented. 

This is how I roll. Plus I've learned good deeds spread ripples of karma that return to you. I don't know when or how but doing this will benefit me at some future time. And besides it just felt right.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Breaking News!

In a surprise trade yesterday the New Jersey Devils acquired rookie goaltender Ralph Hummel. The new net-minder leaves his perch on a comfy couch for battle on the ice. Weakness in net has been trouble for the Devils all season but few expected a move as dramatic as this. Then again, the Devils are a team of surprises and fans were expecting something truly unusual in advance of the March 8 trade deadline.

Bucking conventional wisdom head coach Lindy Ruff announced, "We need someone with grit. Someone willing to face adversity head-on." Critics noted Hummel's recent partial-blindness as a drawback but Ruff rebutted the chirping: "People don't understand that you 'see' with your brain, not your eyes, using instinct honed from a lifetime of close attention. Ralph anticipates the puck as well as any goalie in the NHL today."

Also a factor according to industry insiders was Hummel being wooed by the Boston Bruins to replace Linus Ullmark for post-season play. Ullman's unsteady performance this year has been noted as a problem for the leading Stanley Cup contender looking to shore up its net-protection. Hummel, a long-time Devils supporter, turned down the Bruins' offer of more money, electing instead to play in Newark "where real hockey happens." Hummel promises "to bring the Stanley Cup back to New Jersey where it belongs." 

Hummel travels to Los Angeles to start in goal at today's game against the Kings. Sales of Hummel jerseys are exploding with the news.

Friday, February 23, 2024

New Ice Cream

My favorite ice cream comes from Jeni's, a small company in Columbus, Ohio. They make amazingly innovative flavors. I was introduced to Jeni's by my friend Emma who lives in that city.

You may recall a while back I reported on Jeni's Everything Bagel ice cream which has scrumptious flecks of garlic and onion. Surprisingly delicious.

As a treat I just bought a five-flavor sampler and am tasting new flavors. The best is "Maple Soaked Pancakes" which contains actual fluffy pancakes in salted butter and maple syrup creams. Yumm! This concoction recently won a SOFI award for Best New Flavor and deserves the honor. 

You can try a bite if you come by my place. Oops... too late. :)

Link: Maple Soaked Pancakes | Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams ( 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Hidden Knowledge

Knowledge is hidden around us. All you need do is scratch the surface to learn something cool.

For example, most people know that Persian rugs don't come from Persia -- since "Persia" doesn't exist any more. Persia is an old name for what is now Iran. Sellers believe consumers are less likely to buy rugs from "Iran" than fanciful Persia.

Shopping for cinnamon I just learned there are many countries that produce the spice: e.g., China, Vietnam, et al. Highest quality cinnamon is labeled "Ceylon cinnamon". Again, this identification is fictitious and designed purely for marketing. There is no country named Ceylon today. So where did the name come from?

The republic of Sri Lanka was formed in 1972. Before then, from 1948 to 1972 the place was called Ceylon. Premium cinnamon sold today as "Ceylon cinnamon" is actually from Sri Lanka. Sellers count on you reacting more positively to "Ceylon" than the true country of origin.

Similarly, cinnamon from Vietnam is now marketed as "Saigon cinnamon" to steer away from the name of a country we famously fought a war against.  "Saigon", a former city in Vietnam, is no longer called that: its real name since 1976 is "Ho Chi Minh City". Can you guess why sellers didn't choose that for their product?  :)

Sunday, February 18, 2024

A Special Night

 Fun night for the Devils!

In addition to winning a close game (6-3) the team played outdoors in 28-degree weather. A crowd of 70,000 fans endured the cold to watch this rare event. The Devils designed special jerseys just for this game; they have a retro-style. Fans have been snapping them up. 

There was a jovial mood at the whole event. Devils players arrived dressed like characters from "The Sopranos" (FILA track-suits; white tank-top shirts; gaudy jewelry). Flyers players arrived dressed like Rocky (grey sweats and taped hands). The players' families got to skate on the ice. The night was magical all around.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

An Unexpected Feeling

I have a problem and I don't know how to handle it.

I'm having occasional bouts of euphoria. Moments of extreme elation. Happiness beyond measure. This presents a problem: I'm not familiar with the feeling. Despair, yes; happiness, no.

I spent four decades toiling in the trench of legal combat. I wrestled daily with crippling anxiety. I worried every day about how bad things might get. The reality is they never got very bad but that didn't stop me from worrying about the prospect. I plugged away and plugged away at tedious tasks. A close friend remarked that I possess "an insanely high tolerance for misery and drudgery." Well, I do and it served me in a long career of high-stakes litigation.

Last year, of course, my life really did go south. I lost so much vision that most activities are now beyond me. Not just motorcycling but things as basic as walking in public. I'm safe outside only away from crowds and cars. I take long walks now mostly to prove to myself that I can.

So where's the euphoria coming from? Realization that although my eyesight is very bad, it could be worse. There are days when my vision sucks more than usual. I experience periods of total blindness and physical pain. When, triggered by these experiences, I contemplate being fully blind permanently I become grateful -- ecstatic even -- for the little vision that remains. I can usually see well enough to prepare food, make coffee, clean the kitchen and pay bills. I can see well enough to function in normal life. I can read and write and ponder deep questions. Sure I bump into things but bruises heal. I'm also able to watch the parade of human stupidity pass by on its march to the abyss.

If the ability to do these things disappears I'll be truly crushed. To the depth of my soul crushed. But it hasn't, at least not yet. I'm not confident I'll retain this level of vision for the rest of my life and, given my good health otherwise, that may be a long time. But if this eyesight continues for another decade or two I will be able to accomplish what I hope for -- to find new adventures, immerse myself in challenges, and emerge with a rewarding sense of achievement.

Damn, life contains surprises. Becoming happy is not what I expected at this point.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Hockey -- Outdoors!

Big game tomorrow night -- the Devils are playing outdoors. OUTDOORS!

It's a special game against hated rival Philly Flyers. The game is in a NJ football stadium with an ice rink temporarily installed on the playing field. The NHL does this once a year to build interest. I tried to get tickets but "ya gotta know a guy." Hey, it's Jersey. The Sopranos was not just a TV show. 🙂 

The game is on ABC at 8pm (EST). The Devils and Flyers are locked in mortal battle for the last playoff spot: they'll be lots of action. The Devils are fast and have finesse; the Flyers (known forever as the "Broad Street Bullies") play a "physical" game: i.e., they check hard and start fights. The Devils don't normally fight but, when called for, summon a monster named Brendan Smith who last month put two Chicago players on the Injured Reserve list in one game. (He broke the jaw of Chicago's star-rookie with a clean check and then, in a fist-fight over that, broke another player's finger. Hockey is tough.)

Playing outdoors is a return to hockey's roots and, like the Superbowl, an event. Players bring their families and celebrate the sport. One year the temperature was too warm and the outdoor ice started melting; they stopped the game and resumed after dark. Devils star Tyler Toffoli is the only  player in the NHL to score a hat-trick in an outdoor game. (A hat-trick is shooting three goals in one game. A "Gordie Howe hat-trick" is getting one goal, one assist and one fist-fight in a game. Gordie Howe was a character. He came out of retirement to play with his sons; he was an old man then but still had brio.) 

Turn your TV onto Channel 7 tomorrow night and watch the action!

Monday, February 12, 2024


Whee!! Bitcoin hit $50,000/coin today. 

And it's going to keep soaring due to multiple factors: e.g., last month's ETF approvals; an upcoming "halving" (change in reward for mining). For reference, I bought Bitcoin in 2014 for $600/coin.


I like learning new words. My most frequent source is The New Yorker, a magazine with captivating prose. Reading articles there expands my vocabulary with no special effort.

Usually you encounter words you've seen many times before but just never bothered to look up. Like "plaintive" (sad) or "sinuous" (curvy). Occasionally, as in the current issue, you confront a mysterious word you've never heard of. Like "noumenal" (existing independent of perception). 

Researching the meaning of "noumenal" forces you to dip a toe in the pond of philosophy, something that intimidates many. Braving that cold water is worth the effort, however, because you gain more than a simple word. You watch brilliant minds wrestle with big questions like the nature of reality, the "hard problem of consciousness" and the purpose of our existence. 

Funny where words can lead us.

Friday, February 9, 2024


Exactly sixty years ago today (Feb. 9, 1964) I watched the Beatles appear live on the Ed Sullivan TV show. My family, along with 73 million other Americans, were fascinated by "the British invasion" which quickly led to "Beatlemania."

I was six years old at the time, just able to understand this event. It's my second childhood memory after the John F. Kennedy assassination the previous Fall. (I didn't comprehend that tragedy, wondering only why adults were crying.) The Beatles' appearance was exuberantly joyful and widely seen as the seminal moment in American culture it later became. This event marked the beginning of "the Sixties."

One of the few benefits of growing old is living through history. What big events do you remember?

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

"Taxi Driver"

I've been a student of the cinema since the 1970s. The first film I saw that aspired to art was "Taxi Driver" (1976). It's now considered a classic. I just re-watched "Taxi Driver" while introducing Robin to Martin Scorsese's early oeuvre.

Imaginatively written by Paul Schrader and powerfully performed by then-unknown actor Robert DeNiro "Taxi Driver" was made frugally on a small budget. The film surprised audiences and critics and became a huge hit. Its success launched the careers of DeNiro, director Martin Scorsese and Jodie Foster. The movie also contains work by Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle and Albert Brooks. The film got four Oscar nominations and later became notorious for inspiring a real-life assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley who explained he was trying to impress Jodie Foster.

In the story Travis Bickle, a restless young man, lives uneasily in squalid New York City. At the time the city was on the verge of bankruptcy and permeated with crime. Travis's limited intelligence and poor social skills leave him lonely and isolated. After exploring conventional options (e.g., a failed romance with beautiful blonde Cybill Shepherd) Travis searches for something to give his life meaning. He attempts a political assassination but botches the job through ineptitude. Then he veers into almost-random gun violence, an activity more common today than it was back then. In 1976 it was shocking.

What makes the film art and not mere entertainment is its aim -- to put you in Travis's head, a place few of us would normally visit. Schrader and Scorsese offer us Travis's inner thoughts, frustrations and revulsion at the city's pervasive grime and vice. Once the filmmakers engage our empathy for Travis they can transport us into experiences we'd never ordinarily seek. Critic Roger Ebert famously wrote that film is an "empathy machine," a way to step into someone else's shoes and experience a perspective the real world doesn't encourage.

"Taxi Driver" is crafted as a fever-dream. Enhancing that impression is atmospheric music from Bernard Herrmann, a legendary composer famous for work with Alfred Hitchcock. "Taxi Driver" was Herrmann's last score, completed days before his death. His contribution to the movie's achievement is critical.

Seeing the film today, fifty years after release, packs the same emotional impact but with two new responses: (1) recognition that the toxic social conditions pushing Travis into gun violence have increased in our society, making mass shootings more common now and (2) reflection on how the film's depiction of violence, controversial at the time for its gore, is tame compared to current action movies. Our society's tolerance for violence, fictional and actual, has notably increased. And that's not good. 

But the movie is. Skillful and engrossing, "Taxi Driver" deserves attention and acclaim.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Prosperity Ahead!

"When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen."

If you're old you might remember this advertising slogan. I use it today to introduce some economic information. It's all good news, for you and everyone else.

Over the last decade I dove into economic research and used my analysis to earn several million dollars. I'm sharing my thoughts with you because you're my friends. I don't sell anything, have nothing to tout and merely want you to enjoy the same prosperity. Economics was my major in college and comes easy to me; it's simple math threaded with sociological insight.

Two things to mention today. First, the quarterly announcement by the Fed this week was exactly what everyone (and the stock market) expected. Jerome Powell, head of the Fed and the opposite of a Pollyanna, bluntly declared the U.S. economy to be in tremendous shape, especially compared to the rest of the world. Our economy is hitting all major benchmarks and remarkably achieving a "soft landing": i.e., avoiding a recession after last year's rapid interest rate hikes. Few predicted that outcome last year. In fact, nobody predicted it. The soft landing unicorn ensures a robust economy during this election year. (Election years always boost economic forces.) If you're not feeling financially better off, there are many complex reasons for that misalignment; they won't be tackled here.

A second fact which ought to be understood more widely but isn't due to outdated belief is what's happening in China. The Chinese economy is declining in a serious way -- long-term systemic decline. Everyone thought and feared China becoming our greatest global challenger but that's not going to happen. Not only is their economy bad but their autocratic government refuses to implement critically needed reforms to address the problem. China, suffering persistent deflation, is destined to the fate that befell Japan a generation ago: 25 years of stagnation and economic doldrums. 

A few smart economists are pointing this out and their case is convincing. Most Chinese residents have most of their money (70%) tied up in their homes which are decreasing in value every day. That makes them feel poorer and act accordingly. The Communist Party is politically averse to stimulating the economy which is the only path out of that mess. We should be aware of this because it'll certainly ripple to us and the rest of the world. It'll open up opportunities for American companies to prosper at China's expense in ways previously thought unimaginable.

In short, the news is good! Caveats always exist from potential unexpected events but we have solid reason to expect a very favorable few years coming up. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

"The Sopranos"

"The Sopranos," considered by many to be one of the best television shows ever made is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The (surviving) cast and crew met in an Italian restaurant in Little Italy recently for drinks and dinner. The restaurant served "Carmela's Baked Ziti."

When the show was first broadcast, I watched every episode. I later bought a boxed set of DVDs and we're working our way through it again. The show holds up.

This is a hill I will die on -- Tony Soprano was the most fascinating character in TV history. Superbly portrayed by James Gandolfini, Tony contained the full range of human emotions and had real gravitas. Or, as the kids say today, rizz. Incredible writing filled Tony with unexpected dimension and Gandolfini's consummate skill conveys it through his face and body. Never has an actor been so perfect for a role.

I've mentioned this before but it's so significant I'll repeat it: one of the highlights of my life was seeing James Gandolfini, after the show ended, perform live on Broadway. I got second row seats and we were only ten feet away from this acting giant. He loved the role (and had a big hand in producing the play, an import from England). Seeing him happy was deeply joyful, especially in light of his later premature end.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Cyd Charisse, Dancer

We all know celebrities famous during our lifetime but most of us don't know artists, musicians and actors of earlier generations. Sometimes it's worth looking at their work for sparkling brilliance. 

I've been savoring the talents of dancer/actress Cyd Charisse lately. I first heard of her in my twenties watching classic musicals. Cyd danced in dozens of them during that genre's heyday (1945-1959). She was one of only a few women who danced with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. She later compared the two titans in her memoir. 

Born in Texas in 1922, Cyd contracted polio when she was six. She took dance lessons to strengthen her body and recovered from the disease. Cyd's dancing progressed quickly and she turned pro in her teens. She was discovered by the same choreographer who found Gene Kelly. Cyd appeared in many films, some classics, and later acted on television. She lived to age 86, dying in 2008. (Most dancers live long lives from their good physical shape.)

You know instantly watching Cyd dance that she was exceptional. Her fluidity, range and poise are super-human. Fred Astaire believed she was the best female dance-partner he ever had and said "when you dance with Cyd, you stayed danced with." :)

Cyd had only a small role in "Singing In The Rain" (1952) but for the dance-finale Gene Kelly chose her instead of co-star Debbie Reynolds. Kelly explained it was because Cyd was a trained dancer and Debbie was not. 

Interesting Cyd trivia: (1) Hollywood famously insured Cyd's legs for $5 Million in the 1950s, a huge amount back then. (2) Cyd's real name was Tula Ellice Finklea. Ouch!

As obvious as her dancing talent was Cyd's beauty. Being a movie star was easy for her. She carried screen romances convincingly. In "Silk Stockings" (1957) she plays a rigid Communist Party member from Russia who visits Paris on political assignment. She becomes entranced by the city and falls in love with Fred Astaire's American character. I laugh at this dialogue from their early encounter:

[Fred] Ninotchka, don't you like me at all?

[Cyd] The arrangement of your features is not entirely repulsive to me.

[Fred] Oh, thank you. Don't you think in time you might go a little further than that?

[Cyd] I have not seen the rest of you.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Ways To Make Money

It's definitely weird how you can work hard for money (as I was taught and did for four decades) or make the same amount doing nothing. 

My biggest stock holding is Netflix. I've mentioned the company many times here since buying a chunk a decade ago. I identified it then as potentially a leader in streaming which I also foresaw as disrupting broadcast and cable. Netflix became that leader and streaming now eclipses other means of distributing entertainment.

When Netflix releases its quarterly reports, the stock jumps. Usually up, sometimes down, always a lot. Tuesday's positive 4th quarter report caused my stock to surge over 10% which is a lot for non-crypto stock. And it did that in a day. 

So... I earned as much yesterday as I used to earn in a year toiling at my job. That's fortunate but it just feels weird. My parents would never understand this.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Campaign News

I regret to announce I have suspended my campaign for President. Simply put, I can't see a path to the nomination.

Wait, is that it over there? Um... no, that's my neighbor's driveway. Never mind...

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Harvey Littleton, Glass Artist

I started collecting art a few years ago when I realized art marries two of my central interests. Of course art has aesthetic qualities (e.g., beauty, innovation) but it also possesses something else: history. Works of art are like modern archaeological artifacts: objects that tell stories. Stories about the artists who created the pieces, stories about the culture in which they were conceived, and stories about the passage of time and perspective. 

Focusing on art of the last century, as I do, means these works address recent life and consider people either alive or shortly-departed. This is much different, much more accessible and more interesting (to me) than art from ancient or medieval times. Artists like Lino Tagliapietra (1934-) who are still alive -- and willing to dine with me -- and artists like Stanislav Libenský (1921-2002) and Jaroslava Brychtová (1924-2020), whose many students and followers were influenced and are carrying forward themes and techniques of their work, are fascinating. Stories to learn and tell.

I just acquired a new work that similarly sates my hunger for history: glass art made in 1983 by famous artist Harvey Littleton (1922-2013). Harvey is an important, intriguing character. He was born in Corning (where the world-famous Corning Museum of Glass [CMOG] is located) and was the son of the scientist who headed R&D at Corning Glass Works (a huge company that did groundbreaking research on industrial and commercial applications for glass. The company also founded and continues to support CMOG.) Harvey was encouraged by his father to go into science but like many children wanted to explore a different path; Harvey chose art. 

At first Harvey was an educator, teaching about glass in several universities. He promoted glass art and taught many later-famous artists like Dale Chiluly. Harvey retired from teaching in 1976 to devote his full attention to making work in glass. He worked steadily from then until his death in 2013 at age 91. Four of Harvey's adult children work in the field of glass art.

Harvey is often referred to as the "Father of the Studio Glass Movement," a title worth respecting. During his lifetime Harvey saw glass art change from one type of practice to another and he had a big hand in influencing that shift. Chronicling Harvey's whole role is far beyond this short summary; you can find details of it elsewhere (e.g., Wikipedia).

It was during Harvey's immersion in art-making that he produced the work I purchased. He was then in his sixties. A private collector acquired the work from an art gallery and enjoyed it for four decades. Now, that sole collector is parting with the object to a new caretaker: me. I'm inheriting a piece of history to enjoy for as long as I walk the planet. Then it will pass to the next caretaker. 

We care for art in our hands; we don't "own" it. Not having participated in the work's creation we have no right to claim ownership, just a privilege to hold it for a while. I don't subscribe to the popular but fallacious notion that artwork is merely chattel, property we can buy and sell like widgets. Artwork is special -- a gift to humanity, as Harvard scholar Lewis Hyde wrote -- and occupies a different place in our mental and social worlds. Coincidentally Hyde wrote his book ("The Gift") the same year that my new artwork was created (1983).

When this and my other works are ready for display I'll invite you over. The price of admission will be having to listen to me tell the stories the artworks possess.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Snow Reveals Character

We got our first snow-storm in two years. About 3 inches where I live (Long Island, NY). Here's what happened...

[Putting on sweats]
"You're not going outside to shovel snow, are you?!
"Why yes. Yes, I am."

Twenty years of living with me and Robin still doesn't know the person she married.

Update: Successfully shoveled our walkways and driveway. Also accidentally shoveled part of our neighbor's property. Lost my bearings at one point.

Monday, January 15, 2024


Our one-level-up-from-apes brain barely sees, let alone understands the complexity of reality. Even the most brilliant among us (e.g., Albert Einstein) are baffled by the subject. I've long pondered this area as an amateur philosopher/physicist and am intrigued by both its depth and potential for future use.

Verschränkung. That's the concept separating modern physics (quantum mechanics) from classical theory. Erwin Schrödinger coined and translated the word as "entanglement." In 1935 Einstein and others disputed the existence of quantum entanglement for violating  the local realism view of causality: i.e., the universe's speed limit (how fast light can travel and transmit information). Einstein famously mocked the idea as "spooky action at a distance." (That's my favorite phrase in all of science).

The funny thing is, though, Einstein was wrong. Empirical tests later proved over and over that quantum entanglement exists. Entangled particles separated by great distances (farther than communication could be carried at light-speed) act together, united in some "spooky" way. As recently as 2015 an experiment verified the truth of quantum entanglement and disproved theoretical objections to it. And just two years ago the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three scientists "for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science."

Where am I going with this? Well, how far are you willing to travel? The road leads to famous Hungarian physicist Eugene Wigner (a contemporary of Einstein who lobbied FDR to create the atomic Manhattan Project and later received a Nobel Prize in Physics [1964]), then slides into mathematics and its efficacy, heads on to Wigner's later philosophical musings about reality and the ultimate limitations of math and human observation, and finally confronts "the hard problem of philosophy" (i.e., consciousness) where, likely, the final answer resides to the fundamental question: why are we here? 

I'm drafting a paper on this subject which is too lengthy to discuss uninvited. If anyone's interested and has hot tea, hit me up. :) 

Sunday, January 14, 2024



People who know me wonder why I follow hockey. I often wonder the same thing. I never played the sport and have only basic understanding of its strategy. Last night's Devils game taught me why I appreciate the sport: for gutsy life-lessons.

This time in the season many teams suffer from injuries. The Devils are no exception: 5-6 of their best players are out, recovering from hits and rough play. This means the guys who are left on the ice are non-stars, mostly very young players striving for a foothold in the NHL.

The Devils faced the hottest team in hockey, not just because they play in Florida. The Panthers were on a 9-game "heater" (win-streak). They possess lethal offensive power. The Devils' weakness this year has been defense and especially goaltending. So everyone expected the Devils to lose; the only way they could win is if untested players cohered into a unified group and played well-above expectations.

They did. And achieved a decisive 4-1 win. In the goal was a new kid fresh out of the minor leagues who was astonishing with over 30 terrific saves (Nico Dawes). 

Lessons? Ignore past history and expectations. Fight every battle as hard as you can, even if they seem insignificant. Look for opportunities. Take chances. Support your friends and hope they support you. Work as a team. Revel in victory!

Saturday, January 13, 2024


One surprising, counter-intuitive fact I've learned in life is about contrast. Contrast teaches us. We normally recoil from it but shouldn't.

We don't know what something is until we experience its opposite. Hot teaches us about cold. Anxiety teaches us about calm. Pain shows us the value of its absence.

My work-life was full of anxiety. I prayed for boredom to relieve me of it. If I had felt boredom without the contrast of stress, I wouldn't have realized its virtue. 

Since last Summer I now have physical pain almost every day somewhere in my body. Often it's excruciating. At first that disturbed me -- but now I'm grateful when I don't have pain. Without the pain I wouldn't appreciate its (temporary) relief.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Big News For Bitcoin

It's showtime!

Months ago I predicted something was going to happen. It just did. After a decade of denials the SEC just approved spot-ETFs. Not just one of them, but eleven. Large financial institutions sense a gold-rush with these products and want in on the action. Leading the way is the world's biggest private finance company, BlackRock.

A "spot-ETF" is a financial product offered by companies to investors. It's a means for investors to benefit from Bitcoin without actually owning Bitcoin. Investors buy shares in a fund set up by the financial institutions which hold the crypto (usually with the help of sophisticated crypto exchanges, like Coinbase). When the price of Bitcoin goes up, the value of ETF shares go up. The two mirror value allowing investors to participate in crypto market gains without having to create a digital wallet, maintain its securely, sell coins, etc. People can just call their normal stock broker and say "buy Bitcoin!" The broker's company handles the hard stuff.

A flood of new investment money is expected to flow into the crypto market. Under the economic principle of supply and demand this pushes price up. So hang on, here we go!

New York Times article link

Saturday, January 6, 2024


Robin and I went to a movie theater last night with two close friends, both of whom are car-guys. We saw "Ferrari," an unconventional take on race-car owner Enzo Ferrari. The entire movie takes place within one year, 1957, when Enzo's life pivoted personally and professionally.

The film isn't what you expect. It's not about racing; in fact, it's barely about cars at all. The movie focuses on a man trapped in his masculinity, unable to process grief over the death of a son and stunted in his communication with the women in his life: an unsatisfied wife, a loving mistress, and a troublesome mother. In this respect the story reminds me a lot of Tony Soprano and his family plight. 

Enzo focuses all his energy on saving a failing automobile company. It's a sublimated way of righting his sinking ship and making his life matter. Prospects for both the company and his personal life are uncertain; you can't predict what'll happen to either as events unfold. There are some scenes that will shock you viscerally.

The drama of the story is presented with skill. Dialogue is sparse and searing. Scenes are intense and actors' faces burn hot in frequent close-ups. Shot on location the film also creates a convincing mise en scène, so much so you feel like you time-travelled back to Italy in 1957. Black-and-white and color film are mixed to sharp effect.

This film will receive numerous awards after which it'll be re-released and introduced to a wider audience. Don't wait for that; go now on my recommendation.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Back To The Past

They're back!

The Seventies are back! Coming into fashion are big flowers, denim, bell bottoms and fringe. The clothes of my youth. If I dig deep enough into the basement I'm sure I'll find outfits that are newly-fashionable.

Is it a coincidence that Jimmy Carter is still alive? We're back, baby!

Article link: Fashion trends 2024: Metallics, wide legs, denim galore, giant flowers and more - Newsday

Wednesday, January 3, 2024


It's ironic but before my vision-loss my eyesight was good. I never needed glasses, not even for reading. Which means I wasn't ready for the many foibles glasses create that the rest of you are long familiar with.

For instance, I learned that if you carry glasses in your pants pocket, they break in half. And that I have to lift my hand to my face several times a day to check if I'm wearing glasses 'cause I can't tell otherwise. 

The biggest discovery is how glasses change your appearance. The first glasses given me (not chosen) were large ugly rectangles that made me look like an elderly nursing home patient. Ugh! I returned to my optometrist and requested glasses that better reflect my personality. She asked, "Well, who are you?" 

I paused and explained, "I'm an artistic sort who used to ride motorcycles and take photographs. I crave real-life adventure and intellectual stimulation. I dabble in archaeology, philosophy, quantum physics and cinematic art -- but purely for fun as an amateur." 

She said, "I have just the right thing." And she did. 

My new glasses are perfect. Wait'll you see 'em!

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Our Past

Few of us grasp what came before us in its depth and complexity. It wasn't until I started studying archaeology a decade ago that I realized this. My interest in ancient history has grown into a passion as I learn about dramatic recent developments in the field. Technology is opening doors not only in newly-discovered sites but in better understanding of past discoveries where former guesses are being replaced by true understanding.

New tools, like LIDAR (a type of radar), reveal the existence of many large past civilizations. Now covered by physically-impenetrable jungle, such sites were once bustling cities of life and commerce. Previously nobody thought there was or could be anything there but technology has stripped away that ignorance.

Similarly more accurate machinery for dating past artifacts corrects prior misunderstanding of when, why and by whom objects were made. For example, most historians believed the first book was made a few hundred years ago. Wrong! It's now known that 2,500 years ago a book recording trade and taxation was handwritten and hand-bound. 

The biggest surprise of last year was the discovery of a wooden structure -- skillfully carved, notched and built with axes and wood tools -- long before anyone believed possible. Accurate dating of the structure shows it to have been made 476,000 years ago. Really! That's so far in the past it was before "humans" (homo sapiens) existed. The builders were an earlier evolution of humanoids whom no scientist had thought capable of such work. 

Archaeology, aided by technology, is now delivering stunning news and insights at a rapid pace. An excellent place to keep up with these developments is "Archaeology" magazine, written in simple language for non-professionals. It covers all important events around the world and presents them with entertaining prose and beautiful photographs. You'll find the magazine at your local library. (I subscribe to it.)

Learning what humanity did in the past opens our eyes to who we are as a species. It has enhanced my knowledge of our fundamental nature. The illumination is sometimes surprising so it stimulates our curiosity while deepening our understanding. Turn on the light and look around!