“Cash-Based Activities”

The wife and I recently took a trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico with the family to swim with whale sharks. Like this:

Whale Shark

We also recently opened a new bank account with a single personal check. Unfortunately we found that a lot of what you want to do in Mexico requires cash. And because my regular bank account ATM card wasn’t working, we were relying on the new account.

When that got frozen, we called in to the service center and my wife had this conversation.

My Wife – “Hi, we’re in Mexico and the ATM card isn’t working.”

Them – “Okay, since this is a brand new account we froze it for your protection since the activity is out of the country and is repeated withdrawals.”

My Wife – “Yeah, we’re in Mexico engaged in some cash-based activities. Is there a way you can unfreeze it and also raise the withdrawal limit to like a grand?”

Them (and I’m paraphrasing) – “Uh….no. For all sorts of reasons. You just opened this account. All the transactions thus far have been cash withdrawals in Mexico. And you just said you’re engaged in cash-based activities in a foreign country. We’re considering reporting you to the DEA. And ma’am, say the code word ‘peanut’ if you’re being held against your will.”

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But amazing places was a core hope….

I was sitting outside having coffee this morning trying to come up with a series of bucket list destinations I wanted to visit and experience. I’ve done some amazing trips myself and recently found myself jealous of friends I know to be heading out on long adventures. I’ve always believed travel and experiences are where to spend one’s money and time and was assembling a list in my mind of the type of life changing / enlightening destinations I could visit in the future.

Here I am with my son in the Kaiser Wilderness in the High Sierras. It was beautiful. I was inspired. I wanted more. In fact I bet I spent time there – time I could have been simply reflecting on nature’s majesty – thinking about how I could get back.


Of course the universe loves to give nudges in life, some of them subtle, some of them not. So minutes after assembling a list in my mind that covered Alaska, Zion National Park, Africa, you name it, I was reading a passage from Rumi in Coleman Barks ‘The Essential Rumi‘ and the page I opened to contained this poem.

The mystery does not get cleared by repeating the questions,

nor is it bought with going to amazing places.

Until you’ve kept your eyes

and your wanting still for fifty years,

you don’t begin to cross over from confusion.

Loosely translated, sitting in the High Sierras asking questions about how I could get back to the High Sierras or sitting outside on my patio having coffee dreaming of the amazing places I could visit to find peace, serenity and connectedness are not going to clear up the mystery of why we’re here and what it’s all about. Stop asking. Stop seeking. Stop looking. Stop wanting. Only then might you find it. And it, I imagine, is internal.

But I really really want to think about a yacht sailing in the Caribbean. So my fifty year clock starts again.

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The Perfect Year

I know anyone living paycheck to paycheck can’t possibly contemplate this, but I’ve always wondered, given a year off work, what I’d do with it. Besides day drink and roam about town in ripped shorts and children’s sunglasses. I have a small face….leave me alone.

For instance, I have a buddy right now who got himself a sprinter van and is touring around national parks doing trail running. Now he’s divorced and returns home every other week to be a father to his children (meaning it’s not unlimited freedom), but perhaps that anchor helps make the weeks on the road more special and less ultimately redundant. He’s going to sleep in the van, get in shape and then revisit next steps in 6 months. He’s also going to run in a 100 mile race in October. If he doesn’t get bear mauled.

Bear Mauling

Not my friend….anymore

I have another friend who is about to go spend 2 months in Australia and New Zealand. He and his wife don’t have kids, so they can just up and go. In fairness they do have cats, but I think you can just leave out a huge bowl of cat food. Seriously….cats suck.

My brain goes to the contemplation of using the time to ‘go deep’ in a number of areas, perhaps 1 month at a time. What would it be like to spend a month doing yoga and meditation, learning an adventure sport like kite surfing, or even working in manual labor? Which concentrated activity (if any) would provide the most reward, the most happiness, or the most catharsis or self realization/actualization? Maybe just spending a month at a resort getting massages? Maybe volunteering? Or maybe just day drinking and small sunglass wearing.



Note – I am not in any way suggesting that young child has been day drinking. He’s on meth.

Is a month long enough to extract deep value from an experience? They say habits are formed in 21 days. Who is ‘they’? Your mom. Seriously, she might have said that. But I think also some experts. So if you spent a month trying to be a great father or husband, is it rewarding, or just a pain in the rump? If you spent a month spending time in the great outdoors, would you feel closer to nature and the universe, or just have Zika?

And finally, is it what you do with the time, or just the fact that you lack a work obligation? Would trying to ‘do something’ (or grow in some way) simply replace a sense of responsibility from work with another obligation?

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I can do anything….except

I’ve got a pretty good resume going.

I graduated from an Ivy League school with a degree in chemistry. And I don’t mean Cornell.

I trained for and finished an Ironman triathlon the week before my 40th birthday. Here I am crossing the finish line well in front of that jacked dude in the blue top and the other guy walking. Why do I look so bloated? Whatever. I did it.

Brooks Ironman

I’ve built and sold two companies, one for over 9 figures which, while not a unicorn, isn’t a stick in the eye either.

I’ve traveled around the world both for work and for pleasure.

I’ve jumped out of an airplane and broken my leg.

But I can’t for the life of me do any of the following:

  1. Not drink for an extended period. Like a week. Maybe a work week.
  2. Ever get into any practice of mindfulness. I can’t sit and meditate. I can’t practice breathing. I was out on a kayak just a few days ago stewing. Stew stew stew. Stew about work. Stew about life. Ignore the beauty all around you. Dinty Moore beef stew for you. I’ll run for hours to train, but 5 mins in my own head….that’s torture.
  3. Be grateful. I’m a prick. Don’t know why. Just am. I compare my insides with others outsides and they always stack up unfavorably. I’ll even compare my insides to a friend going through a divorce who is miserable and misses his family and think, well, at least he gets to play the field again.

But there is a part of me that believes somewhere in those 3 might finally be the panacea that every other accomplishment has failed to deliver.

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Small Town Police Work – It Ain’t All Glamour

You might think that working on the police force of a small town is all CSI and SWAT. You bust the criminal (we call him the perp), and after slamming him against the hood of the car and booking him you head to the local watering hole for a few cold ones. If your small town is in the desert southwest, the perp typically suffocates in the car because it’s 115 degrees out. Sheriff JoeBut that’s okay, you work for Sheriff Joe , and Sheriff Joe doesn’t care if you kill them all with fire.

But some of our boys in blue – and girls now, even in small towns where we like to maintain our gender roles…..except at a certain party in May after a bit too much tequila. You know who I’m talking to Frank – have to work a bit harder. The struggles and problems they encounter are a bit more complex. For instance, here are a few extracts from my local paper’s police blotter last week.

Fence and DogThis is a pretty typical event. Neighbor problems. In fact there were a few reported. Dogs barking, trash being thrown in the yard, illegal fence installation (I think Sheriff Joe can help her out with that one….wait…unless I have something mixed up there).

I picture the annual policeman’s ball. Law enforcement officers from around the country (That’s a thing right? A nationwide policeman’s ball? Hosted in Tallahassee I believe? At the El Dorado Suites? Maybe it got canceled after every criminal realized ball-night was a good night to commit a crime). Anyway, everyone at the ball is receiving their medals and merits and badges and trophies (most improved radar gun holding, spirit award), and one cop stands up in front of the podium and gives his acceptance speech.

“Well, it turned out the wind had blown the trash into the yard, so we asked him to clean it up and, well, he did. And with the dog, we usually just give a warning to the owner. We bring treats with us to make sure it doesn’t get rough, but this time I forgot the treats so we just shot the dog and dumped it in a lake.”

Didn’t expect that did you?

I think animal management is staple of small town police work. I shit you not, here is two complete days of police work in my town. bat and raccoonThis is a town that has, I don’t know, like 50 vehicles, all brand new, including one with surface mounted air-to-sea missiles courtesy of the Patriot Act. A bat and a raccoon. In fairness, this god damn raccoon has been a recurring pain in the ass for the local cops. Every week someone is reporting a sick raccoon, a raccoon that is digging through the garbage, a raccoon that got drunk on brandywine and is now pestering Kevin Rose’s dog Toaster (watch this video…watch the eyes at the end…Sheriff Joe would be proud).

The animal / cop conflict has gotten out of hand in my town though. In the trenches, the worst of humanity comes out. Yes…I’m talking racial profiling. White Pigeon

The black pigeon, who is actually an adjunct professor of mathematics at Yale, they just tasered.

But it gets worse. Now we’ve stopped even protecting the basic civil liberties and rights of the animal kingdom. Guilty until proven innocent. TurkeyHow can this turkey get a fair trial now? How can the turkey explain that he wandered in accidentally because the back door was left open, and well, he’s a fucking turkey. A literal bird brain. No. Now he’s branded a criminal. The big old Breaking and Entering. B&E. Without even a jury of his peers. Granted, he had a TV and $1,200 worth of jewelry tucked into his waddle….

Keep on protecting and serving. It’s rough out there.



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The Horror of Perception

I was reading Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe last night….

You know, before we go on let’s spend a little time there. That book is about string theory, so in the first sentence of this post I’m pretty much laying it out there that I’m a better person than you are. While you get drunk and watch old episodes of Lost I am expanding my mind. I can’t understand why you’d read something like this, a post so clearly designed to make me feel better at your expense.

Anyway, in that book, the author lays out some pretty mind-fucking statements about reality and perception courtesy of Einstein at some level, though I suppose courtesy of the Universe at the core.einstein

Overly summarized, in one section Greene talks about some of Einstein’s theories on relativity, and how different observers, based on their relative positions to each other, can observe entirely different physical events.

He takes the case of two people seated on two opposite ends of a closed train car moving at a constant speed with a light bulb in between them. One person is facing forward in the train, the other facing back. If that bulb is turned on, because light always travels at the same speed, each person in the train car sees the light at exactly the same time. Seems right.

BUT (and here is where you’ll want a cocktail), for an observer watching from a train platform as the train zooms by, because the light races out from the light bulb at a constant speed of 186,000 miles per second or so, and because the person at the back of the train car is moving along the tracks towards where the bulb first starts shining, from the perspective of the observer on the platform the person in the back of the train will ‘hit’ (or see) the light first.

In Green’s story, he talks about the two people signing a treaty at the same time. For the sake of not totally plagiarizing, imagine the people on the train clap their hands exactly when they see the light.

For anyone on the car, they would say both people watching the bulb clapped at exactly the same time.

For anyone on the platform, they would say the guy in the back of the train clapped first.

Time isn’t fixed.

History isn’t fixed.

As a result, my bowels aren’t fixed.

I spend some much of my life worries about future perceptions. I worry about things like:

  1. Will I get sick? (not because I fear being sick, but I have seen too many families struggle with sickness)
  2. Am I financially at risk?
  3. Did I achieve enough?
  4. Did I experience enough?
  5. Did I laugh enough?
  6. Will the kids be okay?
  7. What happens if X, Y or Z and then Y, Z, or X

It strikes me as ludicrous that I spend so much energy worrying about a future and future events that, even when or even if they happen, I can’t even confidently say happened the way I think they did.

I lost my job? According to another observer, that actually happened after I got a new one. In fact, I quit my job because I had the new one (obviously….a lazy bastard like I am can’t work two jobs!)

Time isn’t fixed. Maybe my worrying heart can become unfixed too.

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I got ‘Asshole’, how about you?

Lately, my Facebook feed has been overrun with postings about people completing surveys to determine what state of the union, what Golden Girl, or what 80s band they are. I got ‘Dorothy’, how about you?

So I decided to add my own survey to the mix so, in addition to knowing you most closely match to Rhode Island, our fearless island state (stay strong Rhode Island, stay strong!), you can know what type of person you are. Here goes.

  1. Have you ever completed a survey on Facebook that compared you to a state, band, show, vegetable or body part and then posted the results for everyone to see?
  2. Are you completing this survey now?
  3. Have you ever wanted to punch a stranger in the face for poor driving, poor parking, talking loud on a mobile phone, overachieving, bragging, underachieving, getting drunk mid day when you wanted to be drunk mid day or having kids in public?
  4. Are you an asshole?


If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of the questions above, congratulations. You are an asshole. Please post as such to your timeline.

If you answered ‘No’ to all of the questions above, congratulations. You are a lying asshole. Please jump off a bridge.

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