Category Archives: observations

Why doesn’t money make us sick?

Now – I’m not talking about the evils of filthy lucre…although I could (and maybe I should). No. I mean literally: Why do our bills get passed endlessly from hand to hand (until they fall apart), inevitably coming in contact with various and sundry bacteria and viruses, without causing a pandemic of contagion? Is there something we should be paying attention to in this? Can we extrapolate to our widespread well-being?

Seems to me (true: I’m not a doctor, nor do I even play one on TV) that there is some protective force at work.

I’m going to posit that the melding of our various bacteria creates a kind of cancelling effect. Basically, I think they knock each other out. Could I be right? Could this be a simple, non-technological method of health control? Just fire when ready and assail the societal body with every nasty microbe that can be mustered. It sounds like going nuclear, but I may be onto something big here.

Who’s up for an experiment? No? Chicken? Come on – what do we have to lose? Oh…just everything. Hmmm.

Beach post #1:Tranquility Base (except for the radio that is 20 ft. from my left ear…)

Just as I was enjoying the calm, two schmuckarina’s sat down and turned on their mini-boom box (do they still call them that?)

This is Karen’s Third Law of Peace & Quiet: “If you have achieved a small slice of nirvana (let’s call that ‘nirv’), someone or something will feel compelled to add both volume and toxicity to your serene space.” I believe it’s a magnetic kind of thing.  The forces of chaos and clutter are madly attracted to anything that resembles silence.

They (the forces) say (with a slightly Germanic accent) “NO SOUP – I mean, NO SUPINITY for you. Go eat some stone soup!”

Beach Post #2: Nature Calls

And then there is the more challenging than you would think activity of peeing in the ocean. When the waves are heaving and rippling at frequent intervals, there is a tug of war in the bladder between release (ahhhh!) and the preparation for flight. Each small wave that collides with your body evokes a probably self-protective response, which clenches and therefore effectively shuts down the system. I spent about a half hour in the surf trying to resolve this conflict, rather than trek the equivalent of two city blocks back to the hotel.

This, I am certain, is TMI. I claim beach brain as my excuse/justification…

Beach Post #3: Randomness Reigneth

I sit here, observing a large contingent of what I deem to be Eastern Europeans. I deduce their land of origin from their dangerously pale skin and the penchant of some of them for wearing high top black shoes on the beach. Na Zdorovie, Comrades.

As a somewhat professional observer of human nature, I am in a kind of heaven here. An almost unimaginable array of shapes, sizes and ages are moving about across my field of vision. The diverse horde is missing a significant element, however. No darker skin-tones are evident. Have I lurched unwittingly onto a ‘whites only’ beach? Or has segregation become so embedded that non-Caucasians don’t even consider showing up here?

As I write this, I pause to more carefully scan the area – maybe my assessment has been incomplete…

Nope. Everybody is lily white (or splotchy red.) Those I had momentarily deemed to be of other racial groups turned out to be hardened sun-worshipers of the leather-skinned variety.

Another surprising observation is how many pregnant women are here taking in the sun and surf. I’m pretty sure that back in the day (we’re talking 40 years ago) preggo’s stayed zu Hause. No trudging imbalancedly across the wide hot sands. Are women now made of stronger stuff? Or have we just become more willing to roll the dice of fate.

On a wholly other note, my friend (and she is my true friend) – the ocean, is as crisply inviting as ever. The wash of danger (which has increased as my age-linked capacity to keep my balance when wacked by the fast-moving watery churn has waned) adds a nice jolt of energy to the endeavor.

Another anti-social word or two –

I am grousing in response to a self-inflicted irritant. I like being in the front row. Yes, we are still talking about the beach. I like having no one obscuring my view of the roiling water. Now, it would have been far better if I remembered that when we were setting up umbrella and chairs, because three people, ignorant of my rightful position, put their big-assed selves right in front of me. Rat-bastards! I do feel righteous resentment and will not apologize.

And, as if things couldn’t get any better (or worse) – a freakin’ ice-cream man, pushing a hand truck of frozen goodies just walked by. My gracious PIC volunteered to go get me some chocolate ices! But, alas, he returned with something else: a cone of red-colored ice. It was sugar to the 12th power and no more than a quick lick was tolerable. A disappointment – but one that could not for long undermine the warm, breezy wonder of the day.

midday musings

Sitting just inside of the semi-open-air outer room of one of the hotel’s two restaurants…

The storm clouds are gathering (as predicted) and I watch the skies with an extra measure of anticipation. A big-un is a-coming and I can’t wait. Okay – here’s the denoument:

My body is reacting to the changing barometric pressure. There must be some ancient primordial benefit to absorbing moisture in one’s body as the rains approach. Try as I may, however, I can’t imagine what that benefit is.  I do, nevertheless, feel like a balloon being inflated. Perhaps I’ll become airborne.

Noted: I see yet another and then another individual who would probably tip the scales at 300 or more pounds. I’ve been observing this for two days. At first, I was just pleased to see that I was far from the fattest person in the room. Now, I am more interested in this as a sociological trend or a locale-linked trait. Has the word gone out to the large-sized community? “Here in Bermuda, fatties are welcome.” I’m good with that.

In my dawning awareness, I feel a communication from a VERY close, now deceased relative (NK). He’s pleased with the fare and the portion sizes. He is, however, a little peeved with me. “Get your elbows off the table,” I hear distinctly inside my head. “Yes, sir!” I reply, with alacrity.

For much of my life my father was a serious eater. Meals were not just something that one engaged in in order to survive. No. Au contraire. He was living to eat, not eating to live. Mass quantities of all manner of edibles were prepared and consumed every day. I recall there never being much in the refrigerator – because whatever was there got eaten. It wasn’t even safe to sit still for too long; you might wind up with a  Béarnaise sauce dripping into your eyes. Sometimes I thought I saw my own dear father sizing me up – Would I fit into the large roasting pan?

Okay, that’s really creepy and a bridge too far. But just barely.

I did acquire my love of food from the little big man. He was 5 ft. 4 in. tall and at times weighed more than the scale could measure. He was also a first rate chef. My mother seldom had to prepare dinner. He was on it like barbeque sauce on spare ribs.

From cook-outs at a nearby state park, when I was young…where 3-inch thick sirloins and entire watermelons were just a few of the staples, to grilled dinner for fifteen (with both indoor and outdoor cooking going on simultaneously) when I was an adult…to large scale parties with more hors d’oevres than one could count or even imagine, the preparing, sharing and enjoying of food was a main focus of his life.

Sometimes, when I’ve cooked a really good meal, I can feel his approval. I know he’s watching me – especially on Thanksgiving, our family’s high holy day.


Without anyone stating it overtly, I’ve observed that a custom has taken hold over the past several years. It’s the practice of charging one’s phone/device in someone else’s home or office – without asking permission. Just plugging in.

Now, I don’t really know what the $ amount is for filling up, but that’s not the real point. Is there any other commodity that people feel entitled to use on another person’s dime? No. There was, in my perception, a migration which I’ve seen over time: first – it was unthinkable that someone would basically hijack your electricity for their own use; then there were the tentative requests…”would you mind, Karen, if I charged my phone?” Now it’s become an entitlement (as so many things have), and – you know how that goes – once something has crossed into that realm of “I deserve it” you can kiss your hope of undoing it goodbye.

I’ve had a few somewhat evil thoughts: I could try to make certain accessible outlets less user friendly so that the user would get a mild shock. Not thrown across the room with their hair on fire, just a jolt that says: “Really, did you think you had a right to take that?”

or – I could put up a sign: “Please leave twenty-five dollars if you charge any device. Management appreciates your cooperation.” Is that a little too stringent? Nah. I think we (the “usee’s”) have to take a stand. If not, what’s next? Workmen and delivery people helping themselves to the contents of your refrigerator? Random strangers showing up to take a nap in your bed? Once that door is opened, there’s no telling what will enter.

So…let’s stand firm against the tide of laissez-faire; let’s kick some ass and take some names (okay – maybe I’m getting just a tad too fired up).

As a bit of additional context, I do want to disclose that I’m an only child, so sharing is something I don’t necessarily do reflexively.  But, as a conscious choice, I don’t want to accede to the gobbling of my resources. I’m planting my flag and guarding my territory. Don’t tread on me…

Look for my new non-fiction book, FEAR OF LANDING, The stories we tell about commitment and their meanings. It’s available on

Also available on is my science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future, when what was once seen as a disability is merely a difference.

You can find more information about me and my books at


As I completed my morning errands, which entailed walking a two-block radius of my home, I was struck by how little anyone attended to anyone else. New York (that’s “city” and – even more particularly – Manhattan) has a noteworthy reputation as being a melting pot. You know: where everyone from everywhere, those who look vastly different and have profound cultural variability, become one – within the beauty of the fully integrated and assimilated energy that is our town.

Well, not exactly. My observation suggests that we, in New York, are masters of avoidance, ignoring and simply making believe that what we don’t want to see or engage with isn’t there. Each in our titanium cocoon, each with our inner thoughts blocking out most of the outer stimuli (such as the endless, noisy dig-we-must of Con Ed et al, and the random barking or heated telephone conversations spilling into the street, or the crash of splintering metal on metal that we ignore unless it’s right under our nose). Explosions merely raise an eyebrow; detours are met with the minimum of grumbling. Expectations are low for anything that might be considered smooth sailing, so we just muscle through, most of us keeping our profile as close to invisible as possible.

It’s the alternative – which is played out frequently enough – that keeps us in line. If you hear a loud dispute at a certain tone and decibel, make a wide berth before you can even see the drama being played out. Don’t get involved – that’s the mantra we almost all learn. Yes, there are the diehards, the humanists, the people who stop and ask, “Are you okay?” rather than step over the comatose or bleeding citizen in their path. But that’s atypical. It’s much more common for us to rush past, head averted, phone buds in the ears, and achieve the ultimate goal: I didn’t see anything.

This is what allows us to coexist. It isn’t pretty, but pretty wouldn’t get very far in the big, juicy MacIntosh.

On the other hand, if you do take a moment to look around, you will see at least one of everything that exists in nature. The blindingly handsome and the homely or misshapen; the youthful healthfuls, and the ancient or the disabled. Except for the occasional beggar (and that’s mostly on the subways), everyone is managing to stay in the game. It’s a fragile game, as we all know – deep in our psyches, but we are going to keep playing as long as possible.

My new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future, when what was once seen as a disability is merely a difference. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at


Can anyone tell me how we got here? Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump: our choices for president.

I haven’t been too political – just a snide or sidelong remark here and there. I feel it now behooves me to make some additional remarks – probably longer and more likely to express more of what I think. So here goes:

We the people have done a crazy, bad, stupid job of finding or permitting certain people to rise to positions of ultimate power in this country. The two current candidates for our highest office are flawed to a degree that makes each of them highly unsuitable for the job . If this were a standard job application, their paperwork would be in the nearest circular file. But, alas, when it comes to electing our head of state, we barely even have standards. Well – that’s not entirely true: we do have standards…they’re just low.

Hillary is dishonest. That’s a really big thing. Dealing with a leader who doesn’t tell the truth, doesn’t respect the truth…imagine that! Donald is not mentally sound. He has a personality disorder and he is impulse driven: both make him someone who has no solid core self. He also lies, but not as flagrantly as Hillary. Donald’s emotional constellation, however, produces a man who can’t be trusted. He, too, doesn’t have any respect for the truth. He says what he feels like saying even if he knows it’s fiction (as with Hillary). Any person giving it a minute of thought would know how out of control Trump is. It just doesn’t matter to him that he is making things up, misrepresenting, maintaining a level of abysmal ignorance, and working to create a roused rabble. It is worth noting that violence, emanating from both camps, seems to be a rabidly growing force in our country and our world,

Trump seems to have no moral center. Even though he gets het up about things, there is no staying power. Everything changes with the wind of other people’s opinions and reactions. We wouldn’t want someone who has no larger sense of anything outside his own self-serving world as our president. Would we?

How has it come to this choice? Two absolutely wrong options. I would welcome any insight, because I really don’t have a sense of what is going on – at the level of full psychological inquiry.

I don’t think our country has really gotten any stupider; we’re just unprepared. We stopped paying attention in class and now we have a test that we can only fail. The story that we are smoothly sailing is just a wish. A comforting wish instead of the anxiety producing truth. Smooth…That’s not quite how it is for most of us.

I’d like to hear someone speak to the demise of American common sense. When we weren’t looking (or were busily plugged in to our “devices”) common sense became uncommon.

Back to Hillary and Donald: Neither is emotionally and morally prepared for the job of President. We are going to wind up with someone who is either wildly ineffective or is inclined toward becoming an authoritarian despot. Or both.

As I have been thinking and saying for a while now: it’s quite a shit-show. In my professional estimation. (It’s a technical term.)

Sometimes you just have to call it what it is.

My new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future, when what was once seen as a disability is merely a difference. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at

Mean streets, part 2

Four wheeled beasts

In New York, we beat on the car that has overshot the cross walk and is sitting out there interfering with pedestrians. We do the same to the car (typically it’s a taxi) that has ignored a traffic light and turned the corner, missing you by a hair. We yell and even curse the bad driver who doesn’t stop in time or who barrels through a yellow-turning-to-red light. But even New York moxie doesn’t truly minimize the rapidly ramping up the danger of bad or mindless or hostile driving.

Getting drenched by the car that must drive full speed through the pooling water near the curb – that is certainly maddening.

The fools who are texting while driving are real bulls in my china shop. Their pure disdain for eyes-on-the-road driving is inconceivable to me, but it’s going on at an alarming and increasing rate. Not much better are the drivers who multitask: women putting on makeup, folks eating a big deli sandwich, mothers disciplining children in the back seat. The one- or, occasionally, no-hand driving scares the crap out of me. I think they are counting on Jesus taking the wheel. Well, it has been my observation that he seldom does. Crashes with other cars, the taking of pedestrian life or limb…that’s the much more likely outcome.

Now, I have an idea – maybe even a money-making one. Let’s design and market head-to-toe body armor for those of us who want to walk in the street. It might have to look a little like a spacesuit to insure that it has enough buffering to protect the wearer; and a head-covering helmet should be attached – it’s those head injuries that are the most dire. Ungainly and uncomfortable though this may be, it will certainly save lives. Like astronauts suits, it can be constructed to have a heating and cooling system – to accommodate all weather. We’ll all wind up looking a lot like RoboCop. Is that a bad thing?

Let me know what you think.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at

The mean streets, part 1

Just a simple walk down the street has changed. This has happened over time, but – as with most things – the change is incremental and is only noticeable when it gets substantial enough. It then crosses the threshold of awareness.

Well, doesn’t that sound scientific and erudite? Permit me to change modes:

It’s a jungle out there! The animals have taken over the zoo. It’s dangerous on a basic level. So – heads up! Pay attention! Or you will be mowed down.

Here’s what I’m talking about: It has become heart-stoppingly common for people (and that would be men and women and teenagers and children) to never move over when approaching you head on. It becomes a game of chicken and I’m always the chicken – because I see the nihilistic gleam in the eyes of the person coming toward me. It conveys their position: They WILL die rather than acquiesce. If I fail to adjust, there will be a collision. It has happened many times when I was less than cognizant.

And then there is a variation on this theme. It is the glancing shoulder bump. You can’t see it coming, because it isn’t that obvious that there is an entire person in your path. I’m not sure how much of it is intentional, but I find myself all-to-frequently trying to rub the pain out of my arm or shoulder because the person – who hasn’t missed a step and is now several paces behind me – just hit me with their bony shoulder. No excuse me; no oops; no sorry; not even a look of acknowledgment.

Another hostile maneuver is the swinging of an arm or a package so that it is right in your path. And you know (from prior street encounters) that it will hit you. Whatever it is (body part or box of small weights), it has been weaponized. If you’re paying attention, you see it up ahead and have time to zig or zag to keep from getting whacked. This seems even more aggressive than the other acts of road hositility; it seems like an assault looking for a place to happen. It doesn’t make it any better that the swinger of death tends to be about six feet tall. It just makes the diameter of his swing (it’s almost always a man) that much wider.

I am road kill. Or potential road kill. As are you if you don’t pay attention. So we must dodge and weave and try not to lose our balance and try not to trip and fall. As I said, it’s a freakin’ jungle out there.

This does not even begin to take into account the oh-so-many crazies and would-be felons who are sprinkled generously into the populous.


FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at


It has been said before, but bears repeating (yes, that was a shrouded shout-out to the bear)…

The problem with vacations is the absence of problems.

A good chunk of our reality is made up of problem-solving. How and why and when we do it makes up much of our identity. And so, when we achieve a relatively problem free zone – which tends only to happen during our measly two or so work-free weeks a year – we run into a big boulder of bewilderment. What shall we do in this opacity of self? I know! Create new problems.

And so, to keep it personal (and why not – this is, after all, my blog), there are the (hopefully) minor accidents: the skinning of a knee, the bashing of a toe into some unfamiliar furniture, the sunburn, the bump on the noggin from the kitchen cabinets at an unexpected height…you get the picture.

There are (at the top of the new-problem list for me) noise issues. Not that there isn’t noise during the regular course of life. But, the new noise – of houses full of happy chortling children or barking dogs or trash collecting vehicles – seems excessively intrusive.

I am joined in my outrage at these blaring auditory transmissions by my partner in crime. I was truly comforted when he expressed his resentment for a group conversation emanating from the house across the boardwalked path.

How quickly we get used to a heightened state of quiet. Does this reveal an underlying norm that we seldom access in our uber-decibel lives? Are we supposed to dwell in a state of normative silence? Hmmmm… and, also, shhhhhhh…

Our feathered friends

Birds are okay. We give them a pass.

Humans have developed some varied positions about various animals, and they are particularly unreasonable – when examined closely.

Let’s take rats vs. birds, for example. I get the creepy feeling which anything that scurries gives us. And the rat teeth are kind of off-putting. But why are we so fond of birds?

Because they fly and we are desperately envious? But they not only poop at will, they are as likely to do so on your head as anywhere else. They aren’t responsive to us (unless captured and rigorously trained), whereas a little ratty can become a very cute and cuddly friend. Do I go too far? Of course.

But what’s with all the “eek”ing and jumping up on furniture? We don’t scream when we see a bird. We don’t hide. And DNA-wise – rats are much more like us than those pea-brained feathered folk. Nevertheless, we exclaim with delight: “Oh, look! A bird!”

It must truly be flight-envy. No matter how stupid and gross birds are, they can do something we all long for: soar and skim the wind; become unbound from the pull of earth and gravity. And rats – those beady eyes may beseech us: “Love me, please!” We say, “Yuk! Stay away or we will kill you in one of a myriad of ways.”

(There is a slightly primeval theme developing. It’s all this being in nature. Help! I’m becoming de-citified.)