Monday, November 09, 2015

Hidden Things

It's been a rough week for Mormons.  Some Mormons are hurt; some are happy; some are indignant, and some are just wondering what the hell is happening.

I'm sad.  I'm worried about my friends, and I am worried about my church.

I want to believe that this mess is going to get better, that the church leadership will come to a new understanding--a compassionate understanding of inclusion.  I want to believe that my fellow members of the church on all sides of this division will lower their proverbial pitchforks.

But it probably won't.

Yesterday an Elder's Quorum instructor shared a scripture that resonated with me.  We weren't discussing the current controversy, but I learned something that applies anyway.

D&C 101: 32-36 reads:
Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things--Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof--Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.  And all they who suffer persecution for my name and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory,  Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full. (emphasis mine)

"They who suffer persecution for my name" caught my attention, and I reread the passage several times.  When we think of those that suffered persecution, we think of Joseph Smith and the early church members who were killed, beaten, and chased from town to town.  We think of modern missionaries who are taunted as they share the news of the gospel.  We tend to think that only God's servants suffer.  But what happens when God's servants are not the persecuted but the persecutors?

I saw a different image each time I read the scripture.  I saw those that are persecuted by members of the church.  I saw families hurting by those acting in the name of God.  I saw suffering.

I'm not as kind as I aspire, and I certainly don't have the authority to change church policy, but I can help those who hurt.  I can speak out against the persecution.  I can open my arms to those who need a friend.  Most importantly, I will witness, and I will comfort.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Thing About Compassion

I learned something new about compassion from an old white guy the other day.  No, it wasn't the pope, nor was it a Mormon leader.  It was this guy:

It turns out that Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise has some pretty life lessons to share.  I am a big fan of Star Trek, The Next Generation.  There are many opinions regarding the best series, but this post is not about the merits of the various captains but about the lesson I learned from Picard.

Season 5 episode 23 is titled "I, Borg."  The Enterprise finds a lone survivor from the Borg collective (an alien race of cyborgs who assimilate entire races into their ships and destroy all individuality) at a crash site and bring him on the ship.  Jean-Luc does not like the Borg.  In a previous season he was abducted by the Borg and painfully turned into one of them.  He was later saved by his crew, but he despises the Borg and sees this surviving member as an opportunity to destroy the entire race.  Through the episode Picard comes to see this rescued survivor as a person in need of help and returns him to the Borg without a doomsday virus.

This episode struck a chord with me because I watched it the day after the Pope met with the Kentucky County Clerk refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  I don't know what they talked about, and I don't know why they met, but it really bothered me.  I thought that there are plenty of people more deserving of a papal visit than this woman, and that she did not need another day in the spotlight.  That is when I learned something about compassion.

Compassion is a concern for the well being of others.  It isn't just about concern for the people we like; it is a concern for all people.  It is easy to care for the sick, poor, and disabled.  Actually, let me rephrase that: it is not easy to care for the sick, poor, and disabled, but we do it anyways.  I can stand behind the downtrodden and give them a loving hug and encouragement, but it is much harder (nearly impossible) for me to care for those different from me.  It seems that the more different a worldview a person has from me, the more difficult it is for me to care about their troubles.  

I need to change.

I don't know how to do this, but I will start in small steps.  Maybe the first step is to just look at the person different than me and just recognize them as a fellow traveller and rather than mock their opinions I should learn why these ideas are important to them.  

This really isn't going to be easy.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


I am not a gardener.  I thought I could be, but I can't.  I wanted to love gardening because that is what adults are supposed to do--be adultish.  I searched for meditation found in spending a few hours each day transforming our backyard into a small paradise but was bored after a few minutes and lacked the imagination to create my own oasis.

I spent a few days this spring pulling out the weeds and ripping up the broken patio in our yard hoping for inspiration.  I decided to start small with morning glory to cover up the piles of concrete and sunflowers to add some color.  In other words, I planted weeds.  WEEDS!  The worst part is that the morning glory decided to grow in the neighbor's yard and the few that stayed in our yard choked the sunflowers before they even had a chance to grow.  I couldn't grow weeds.  My gardening days are over.

But I have a birdfeeder.

Birds do not require weeding, they find their own sunlight, and they provide a little bit of music to my day.  Each morning starts with the sparrows and finches.  They like to take turns at the feeder and hop around the different branches waiting for a chance at the seeds.   A mourning dove comes by a little later to scoop up the seeds dropped on the ground.  Things quiet down until the afternoon when a blue jay shows his strength and pushes the little guys out of his way.  Just before sunset the blue jay is chased of by a cardinal.  I have a hummingbird feeder but they haven't joined the party yet.  Birds are much easier than flowers.

I might start making my own feeders.  That's adultish.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


We have an ecclesiastical leader here in NYC that likes to give sermons on regrets.  To be more accurate, he talks about "No Regrets."  No Regrets is his personal motto. No Regrets is his family motto.  He anxiously encourages the congregations with talks and anecdotes that highlight living a life without regrets.

With this life philosophy I most certainly disagree.  No Regrets as a life motto ranks with other horrible contenders like "You Only Live Once" or "Trust Nothing but Your Intuition."  People who shout "NO REGRETS!" are typically a few seconds away from making a horrible mistake.  Keeping a life motto of avoiding mistakes seems like a good way to avoid the truth of who we are.  We make mistakes.  We try again.  Sometimes we improve.  Sometimes we do not.  It is especially difficult to make any life improvements if we have an attitude of no regrets.

I have many regrets.  I regret words I speak in anger.  I regret a missed opportunity to help.  I regret the first week of 9th grade when in an attempt to avoid bullies I bullied another kid who most likely would have been a lifelong friend.  I regret not taking more time to visit friends and family.  I regret my complacency.  I regret finding fault in other people just trying to make their way in life (even stupid ecclesiastical leaders).

There is a chance I am wrong and the No Regrets life is the best way to live, but I like my regrets.  They remind me that tomorrow is another day to make better choices.  My regrets may embarrass me, but they also motivate me to "Keep A-Goin'."  That's our motto, what's yours?

***this is not a picture of my tattoo***
***let's hope I'm not that stupid***

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Walkersville, MD is a few hours from New York City about 30 minutes south of Gettysburg and happens to be one of my favorite places to visit.  Also, I like describing distance in units of time... it sounds fancy.  My wife's parents live in Walkersville, so we visit as often as we can.  The town has open spaces, quiet neighborhoods, and great proximity to a Wal-Mart and Cafe Rio.  I know that most of my family and friends have all of that in Utah, but we live in NYC where life can be a little crazy.

Walkersville is where we get away.  It's where we visit family.  It's where our son learns to be a country boy.

On our recent trip there I had a moment of clarity.  These moments are rare, but I never forget them.  It was a Saturday night, and the entire family (around 13 of us) had left the dining room to watch Kim walk around the front yard in a giant cardboard tube (it was hilarious).  As we were in the front yard, neighbors came by, the kids started playing games, and the dog ran between everyone eagerly joining the various groups.  The sun was setting, and I sat in a chair and watched it all happen.  I wanted to get my phone and take some pictures, record some videos, and get everyone to pose for a group shot, but I didn't.  I was happy to keep this memory locked up.  I was afraid that if I recorded it, I would forget it.  I don't want to forget the feeling of security and love I felt in that yard.  I don't want to forget the happiness found in family.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

My Favorite Prophet

Elijah is my favorite prophet.  He wins for all books of scripture and even the modern era.  I know we aren't supposed to have a favorite prophet.  I was reminded of this a few weeks ago in a church meeting when I answered the teacher's inquiry about favorites.  I ignored the snarky reply because it was stupid.  I have a lot of favorites: favorite poet, favorite food, favorite chair, favorite book... I can't have a favorite prophet?

Anyway, this is not a rant about uptight Mormons, this is about Elijah.  I really like the guy.  He took on the priests of Baal, raised the dead, and rode a chariot of fire to heaven.  The dude was a rockstar.  Of all the scriptures about his life, the following has been rolling through my head a lot the last few weeks:
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lordbut the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 
 The story continues in 1 Kings chapter 19, but this is the passage I think about.  Elijah was waiting for the Lord.  He was not deceived by the wind, earthquake, or fire.

There have been a lot of proverbial earthquakes, winds, and fires lately.  It seems that we can't take a breath without some commentator extolling the virtue or condemning the vice of (insert your own trending news story here).  We are inundated with what courage is supposed to look like, how families are supposed to behave, what symbols are good, what laws are just, what freedoms are in danger, the books we ought to read, the sins we ought to shun, how gender is supposed to function, why the poor deserved to be shamed, and the science that must be ignored.

I stopped listening to the voices clamoring for the spotlight and listened to the voice that matters most.  I didn't need the shouting heads to teach me that all life is worthy of love, that compassion and mercy should always trump the demands of justice, and that my neighbors are my family.

It turns out that being a friend is fun.  Also, sometimes I get treats.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


We live in Harlem, but our son goes to school in Bayside.  The reasons he attends a school in the farthest corner of Queens are complicated and unchanging, so we must endure a long commute.  In an ideal world the trip shouldn't take much more than an hour, but this is NYC and nothing is ever ideal.  We leave the house at 6:10am, walk 8 minutes to the subway, ride the 3 train to Penn Station, take the LIRR 7:01am train to Great Neck, get off at Bayside station, walk the final 12 minutes to his school.  Door to door, the trip takes over 1 hour and 30 minutes.  The afternoon is the same route just a different direction.  If the stars align and we catch an early train back to the city, we can make the trip as fast as 1 hour 10 minutes.

 Two weeks ago we had some family stay with us and instead of using public transit we borrowed their car.  This was a faster trip.  There was some light traffic and we made the commute in under 20 minutes.

I thought that having a car would make our commute a breeze, but I realized that even with a direct route and more speed, I enjoy riding the train with our son.

There are mornings when we sit in a darkened tunnel waiting for the tracks to clear only to miss our connecting train.  There are snowstorms that freeze our noses.  There are rainstorms that we cannot outrun.  There are crowded platforms, annoying teenagers, and sleepy eyes.

But the last year of travels has been good to us.  The boy and I commuted together.  We laughed together.  We cried together.  While the storms continue to rage around our family, we are still together.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Auto Awesome Auto Memories

The nifty thing about Google's Auto Awesome is coming home from a fun day in the city and watching a nifty little highlight video.

Win for Google.  Win for us.

We also enjoyed the view from a great park.

Enjoyed the "meta" moment.

Saw a neat little stained glass house.

Enjoyed our awesomeness.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

She Sang

Last Wednesday I needed to get home quickly to meet up with an important houseguest.  My need to get home was more important than my need to avoid the 2 train.  I will do anything in my power to avoid the 2 train.  The 2 is crowded, loud, and filled with with all varieties of underground life.  When I saw a 10 minute wait for the 3 train, I chose to endure the 2 and get home faster.

The train was crowded, loud, and within minutes a frail woman raised her voice to announce that she was going to sing us a song and hoped that we would enjoy her performance.  (Sidenote: when anyone makes any kind of announcement on a train it is always annoying.  They may wish to sell us snacks, call us to repentance, or solicit donations for any number of ailments.  In all cases, the riders drop their heads and avoid any form of acknowledgement of the speaker.)  There we were, a train car full of people wanting to avoid the aspiring musician, and she sang.

She sang, and the train was no longer so crowded.

She sang, and the train was no longer so loud.

She sang, and the train experienced the beauty of life underground.

There aren't many times when an entire subway car of people connect with each other, but this was one of those times.  When she finished we clapped, dropped crisp dollar bills in her bag, and asked for one more song.  She sang again, and I was tempted to pull out my phone to record this memory but decided against it.  I wanted to enjoy that moment.  I didn't want the distraction of holding on to the present.  My stop came, and I got off the train.  Walking home, I smiled.  Sometimes when you live in the Big Apple, it is easy to get lost in the grind.  Other times it is easy to find solid ground.

You just have to listen to the song.

Monday, May 11, 2015

We are Fancy

Before moving to NYC, I envisioned a life of sleek apartments and fancy parties... then I lived here and decided that life is best when the ceiling doesn't leak.  Our garden apartment (just a fancy term for ground floor) has a leaky ceiling and a lot of street noise, but it also has access to the backyard.  This sounded great when we moved in until we realized that the backyard was full of weeds, a broken cement slab, feral cats, glass shards, and garbage.  After living here for a couple years, we decided to finally start cleaning it up.  It took around two weeks to go from this:
to this:

Now that we have it mostly clean (mostly because the only way to get all the debris out is through our kitchen, so it will just stay piled up in the yard) we can start a garden, maybe plant some grass, get a trampoline or just enjoy the glass-free dirt.

While cleaning we did see Willie's recent kittens.

 I also took a lot of breaks just to take pictures of me doing yardwork.  (I never thought that I would move to Manhattan and spend my time gardening)

But most importantly, we had a great time creating a space for more adventures.  Hopefully we can get a grill and start having some of those fancy parties at our sleek garden apartment.

Friday, May 08, 2015


A couple weeks ago we had our NORTHEAST REGIONAL CONFERENCE.  Normally when any kind of Stake or Regional Conference happens I look forward to a weekend of no church, but something about the NORTHEAST REGIONAL CONFERENCE caught my interest.  The announcements regarding the NORTHEAST REGIONAL CONFERENCE were a bit vague.  We were told that it would be a broadcast from Salt Lake City, and while each building in the NORTHEAST REGION would have its own opening to the conference, we would all start the main broadcast at the same time.

Let me say this: the only reason I went was to complain.

I know the LDS church is large and it is difficult to get people together for a combined meeting, but just because it is difficult doesn't mean we shouldn't try.  I really don't like the idea of broadcasting these meetings.  I know we broadcast general conference twice a year, but why not gather the members together whenever possible?  Are we going to start broadcasting our weekly meetings?  Can I Skype my home teaching visits?

So I went, and I learned a few things.

1- The opening portion of the broadcast was just another broadcast from another building in our stake. (that sucked)
2- People in our stake like to speak loudly into the microphone.
3- Musical numbers broadcast through the internet sound just as awful as you would think.
4- The NORTHEAST REGION is a lot bigger than I thought. (there was no way we could get everyone into one stadium) (and it would take way too long to drive to a middle spot)(See the picture below- Region 4 is us)
5- The broadcast from Salt Lake City felt more like people reading old talks from a different regional conference and changing the area to the NORTHEAST REGION.

Despite having a list of what I hated about the conference, there were a couple of things I liked.  Neil Anderson and Robert Hales gave talks and each shared a little nugget that kept my attention.

In sharing his admiration for Elder Hales, Neil Anderson said "The Lord loves Elder Hales, and Elder Hales knows the Lord."  It is a simple phrase but it made me think about the quality of life Elder Hales lives so that others do not doubt his commitment to the Lord.  I have a lot of complaints.  I have a lot of grievances.  I also have a lot of admiration for those dedicated to sharing a message of peace and love.

Robert Hales, who was born on Long Island, said "never shut the door of your heart to any of your children."  I think about this every day.  I certainly don't envision a future where I would cut my children or family out of my life, but there are times when I feel like it might hurt less to have the door only halfway open.  I have shut the proverbial door before and it has taken me a long time to reopen it.  I decided that I just need to keep it open to everyone.

In summary: I went to complain, and I left grateful.  Church wins.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Training Wheels

My son knows how to ride his bike.  He doesn't get as many opportunities to ride as he would like, but he knows how.  This is a great relief to me because I was terrified to teach him.  I don't have a bike, so I couldn't take him out on nightly rides around the neighborhood until he was practiced enough to remove the training wheels.  Also, we live in NYC where it really isn't practical to ride around the block because you will probably get hit by a bus.  Ideally, I would live in a place where taking off the training wheels wouldn't be a problem.

Like this place:

That kid can fall off his bike all he wants; he won't get hurt.

But we live in Harlem, and we must adjust.  One year ago, the little goober decided he was ready to try riding without training wheels, so we woke up early and went to the playground before the ball players and other kids arrived.  I reminded him that it would be okay to fall and that we would just try as many times as we needed to get it right.

He was ready.

I held his seat, he started pedaling, he took off, I was proud.

 Instead of crashing and screaming in pain, this kid was riding his bike and loving it.

 He's a pro.  Even if he needed my help to get started, he kept riding.

 With a little more practice he got started by his own wobbly self.

It wasn't the ideal place to teach him, but when are we ever in the ideal place to teach our kids?

The Familiar Stranger

A few weeks ago I got lost while folding the laundry.  I was still standing by the bed as I sorted the clothes, but I got lost in my imagination.  It happens sometimes.  Sometimes I find myself on a cross country motorcycle trip.  Other times I'm sailing in a pacific paradise.  That day I found myself inside the Salt Lake Temple.

The thing I like about daydreaming is I am in complete control.  Unlike a regular dream where I just sit back and enjoy the show, daydreams are interactive.  Of course it is just in my head, but sometimes I surprise myself.

So I found myself inside the temple, and the place is empty.  I figured if there isn't anyone around, there was one room I wanted to visit.  I worked my way to the Celestial room, moved a vase, opened the door and stepped inside.  But someone was already there.

There was a familiar stranger sitting in a chair waiting for me.  I greeted him and said that it was good to finally meet.  He smiled and told me that I had seen him before.  I asked if he would show me where I had seen him.  He complied and changed into the people that I have helped.  I saw the faces of family and friends.  I saw those that needed help and I was willing to share.  It felt great to see the good that I had done in my life.

Knowing that the conversation was not over, I asked if I had seen him in other places.  He said yes and started to show me the people I ignored.  I saw the people I hurt.  I saw the people who asked for my help, and I was not willing to share.  This took a lot longer than I thought it would.

I thanked my friend for his time and left the room.  As I worked my way back to my bedroom and my pile of laundry I decided the next time I had that conversation, there would be more of the people I helped and fewer of those I ignore.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

NYC: Spring

I complain about living in New York, but I really love living here.  There are certain times of year that make the congested city life worth every penny of overpriced real estate and food.

Spring is one of those times.

A small window to Paradise briefly opens and the breezes from heaven kiss our metropolis.  I know that is cheesy, but it's true.  For a few hours yesterday I was not a grump.

It started with a bus ride down to the lower east corner of Central Park.  The wife and the boy went to the Central Park Zoo, and I jumped across the street to use the bathroom at FAO Schwarz.  Too much information?  Too bad, it is Spring, and I am happy.

I took this picture of the Plaza hotel because it's pretty and it was on my way to find a bench.

Across from the Plaza there was a Public Art Fund exhibit.  If you are in NYC and see something that looks out of place, then it is probably art.  Just look around and find the sign that will explain it.  This one was cool.  A summary: each spool of rope represents a walking path in Central Park.  Some are short, some are long, just like the paths.  Apparently each spool is also the length of the actual path.  Anyways, I had a book to read, so I moved on.

 I like the zoo because they have bears now, but with crowds like this I prefer to read.

I found a bench across from the zoo and started a book and people watching.  There is something really fun about being alone in a crowded space.  I even had my picture taken a couple of times by tourists... I didn't smile.

 When they were done at the zoo we went to Heckscher Playground.  A great place but there were crowds, so I found a bench.

 Eventually it was time to go.  The boy was tired.  The wife was content.  I was happy.

Spring is awesome.  (Mostly because I like to sit on benches and read books while thousands of people walk past me (just in case I didn't make that clear))

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sorting Pearls

I have been thinking about pearls a lot lately.  They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, hues, and origins.  Some are natural; some are cultured.  Some pearls are cheap, and others are very expensive.  At its core (pun intended) all pearls start the same way-- with an irritation.  A clam or oyster is perfectly happy with life when all of a sudden something gets in its mouth.  It could be a particle of sand or rock or even the shell of a fellow mollusk.  Between the constant irritation and the passage of time, a pearl is created.

The pearl is significant for many world religions and is found in many scriptures.  It is fascinating to see how the interpretations play out, but this post is about me.  For me: Pearl=Truth.  Truth is natural, and truth is cultured.  We find truth around us on a daily basis.  We accept and reject various truths as they present themselves to us.  Truth does not need to be a grand all encompassing claim to life and the secret to heaven.  Most of our truths are found in our daily routines.

I have a ton of truths:  I know the best time to take a shower in the evening and change into pajamas.  I know how many hot sauce packets are needed to perfectly cover a Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell (and  Macho Nachos from Del Taco).  I know how much (and sometimes how little) soda to drink on a road trip to perfectly time the bathroom breaks with refueling the car.  I know when to ride the subways and which lines to take to avoid the masses.  My personal favorite truth: I know when to walk out of church because the three hours is up and the teacher is still teaching (because nothing ever good happens when teachers don't stop talking).

But just as some pearls are more valuable than other pearls, some truths are more valuable than other truths.  The more valuable truths take time to discover and an even larger irritation.  Call it an irritation; call it a struggle; our greatest truths are found when we are pushed (sometimes shoved) beyond our comfortable confines and confronted with daily dilemmas and personal conflicts that require us to evolve.  As we eventually reconcile the differences in our lives, we are left with a pearl of truth.  These pearls are precious and rare because we fought for them.  We dove deeper into our spiritual oceans and held our breath longer despite the pain in our lungs and swam longer even as our limbs were failing to finally find this pearl. These are the truths we need to keep.

I may forget which rest stops are the cleanest, but I will remember how I came to know God.  I will probably forget about my Cookie Monster pajamas when the fleece is no longer soft and super comfortable, but I will remember how I found happiness in a woman who lovingly pieced me back together after a terrible fall.  The memories of schools and colleagues will eventually fade, but the lessons of parenthood are locked deep inside.

So anyways, I've been thinking about pearls a lot lately.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Another Year Older

We celebrated a birthday last week, and it was a lot of fun.  Because the happy day was on a Monday, and our weekday schedules are very busy, we started the partying on Friday.

There was a bit of snow, but that didn't cramp our style.

Kim made a fancy pinata cake filled with M&M'S

It was super fancy, and the boy was super excited.

The birthday boy was very, very happy with this surprise.

The cake was amazing, but having this cool guy in our home is even better.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Giving to the Nine

Another Bible story has been rolling around my head for the last few weeks.  In the 17th chapter of Luke Jesus encounters 10 lepers, they ask to be healed, they are told to go see the priest (they are healed on their way), one of the 10 realizes that they were healed and returns to thank Jesus.

Moral of the story: give thanks to God.

But there is more.  I have been thinking about how Jesus gave these men an unconditional gift.  He did not judge the men.  He did not ask for loyalty, discipleship, or fame.  He gave.  He could have healed the single man he knew would show gratitude, but he chose to give to all that asked.

Fast forward to NYC 2015.

I want to be a better person.  In NYC there are plenty of opportunities to give, but I quickly shut them down.  In fact, I have perfected the snub and can keep the beggar at bay with just a glance.  I judge a person before they even open their mouth to ask for help.  I see the cup and know that the jingling coins will fuel an addiction and not a recovery.  I navigate this city knowing that anyone who asks me for help will not find me a fool.

While I secretly like the curmudgeon I've become, I miss being a nice guy.  In an attempt to emulate the master teacher, I decided to be a good giver and share with those who ask for help.  I may not have a lot to give, but I certainly have enough to share.  A few coins from my dresser does not constitute a fortune, but I thought it was a good start.

My goal was to keep 4 quarters in my pocket and give them to the first person who asks for help each day.  With renewed zest for life, I set out in hopes of finding my inner nice guy.  It turns out that I wasn't asked for help as much as I thought I was.  The first day no one asked me for help.  The "regulars" I saw on a daily basis weren't in their regular places.  Turns out that the the same thing happened on the second day too.  I was really confused.  I had a dollar in my pocket and no one was asking for it!  Finally on the third day I saw a man holding a cup by the entrance to the subway.  As I approached him, I reached into my pocket.  When I was pulling the dollar out, I noticed that the man was sitting on a new jazzy chair and smoking a cigarette.  No way.  Not going to happen.  I was giving this money to someone who needs it, not another hustler...  I put the dollar back in my pocket and marched down the stairs.

Goal Fail.

During the ride home I had a long talk with myself, and I came to this conclusion: If I refuse to help the people that don't deserve it, how will I be ready to help the people who do?

It is not my place to judge.  It is not my role to decide who is worthy of help. All I can do is try to be a better person today than I was yesterday.  This change starts by giving to the nine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I have a good life. Actually, it is a fantastic life. I would like to think that I earned this state happiness through some random rubric of pain and suffering, but I don't think that's the case. I just got lucky.

Lucky to have great friends near and far.

Lucky to have a beautiful wife with a gentle soul.

Lucky to have a precocious son with a forgiving heart.

Lucky to have roof over my head and food on my table.

Call it fortune; call it blessings. Today, I call it luck.

Saturday, March 07, 2015


One of the advantages to living in overpriced, cramped quarters is that we have access to some of the most incredible museums in the United States.  Many of them are affordable/free, but some of them are still quite expensive.  The Museum of Modern Art is one of the expensive ones; except on Friday nights when it is FREE!

We decided to have a Friday night adventure:

It started with a trip on the LIRR from Gabe's school in Bayside back to Manhattan.

We stopped at St Patrick's Cathedral

Took a cool picture with the photosphere feature on my phone

Went to the Lego store at Rockefeller Center and saw a Lego Rockefeller Center

It was big

Lego man made a Lego man

The batmobile... because it was a Lego batmobile...

Got some Ben and Jerry's in the Concourse while waiting for mom. (Tonight Dough! Amazing!!!)

And played several hands of Go Fish, War, and Pyramid

Rode a super skinny escalator

Arrived at the MoMA and got our sophistication on

"This is art."

You all know what this is... the lady on the left never moved, and it was a very crowded space.


He liked this one and was convinced that there was a no parking sign on the top.

"This is also art."

Monet... I still don't get it...

Selfie with a statue.

He was really interested in this exhibit about making letters with eye motions.  It's art.

Minecraft Art

Bjork had her electronic harp on display (It really made music).

"Hello NYC!"

The train ride back to Harlem

Too tired to cook?  One word: Popeye's!

The end.