I was trying to buy a memory

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Photo by Lex Sirikiat on Unsplash

I broke down this week and bought a burr coffee grinder for espresso and a new espresso machine. Together they cost around $700, which when I think about it is absurd. A ridiculous amount of money for a home coffee machine. Never mind that it is possible to spend as much as $4000 for a grinder and many times that for a machine if you are so inclined. But I am not rich, nor am I a spendthrift. So, why?

I spent six months reading reviews and justifying this purchase before I could pull the trigger. I did the math: I drink two to three espressos, both cappuccinos and shots, daily. That’s nearly a thousand in a year and if I bought one a day in a cafe and it cost $3.50…you get it. So money sort of justified it though I do not buy one in a cafe daily. But I still did not have a concrete justification for spending 700 bucks. …

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Photo by Benmar Schmidhuber on Unsplash

You keep it personal

Trigger warning: there is a degree of honesty in this piece (but it’s not that interesting)

I live in the Western NY Fingerlakes Region, which currently has the worst infection rate in the state. My hometown, Rochester, had its own BLM moment when several cops held down a mentally ill black man, Daniel Prude, until he was brain dead. When the footage came out we had looting and rioting and for a few days much of our city was boarded up.

We’ve been close to a total shutdown for the past month after successfully shutting down and almost stopping the spread back in late spring. We opened up during summer, then got whacked again after Halloween. And a lot of us obsessively watched the news, read the news, and talked about the news and the election, then the stimulus. …

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Photo by Joe Ciciarelli on Unsplash

‘Set and setting’ are only the beginning

In the sixties there were Happenings. In the seventies we had conceptual art installations. The eighties saw club culture start to include more than a stage and a bar. Then there were those nineties raves…creating environments to instill altered states is an ancient human practice.

Temples and coliseums were designed to awe. Rainforest ceremonies took participants out of the familiar and deep into the mysterious. Native Americans had ritual practices including peyote ceremonies and solo trips into the wilderness during adolescence. …

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Photo: Martin Edic

Both experiences were valuable, though very different

I write novels to practice my storytelling skills. Getting published was not a primary goal though it may be some day, however I’ve had eight non-fiction books published by national publishers and know how hard it is to get fiction looked at. I’m in it for the writing, and my two experiences have taught me a lot.

Zipping my way to 80,000 words

My first novel, The Rememberers, poured out at the rate of 600–800 words a day. Once I got going it kept coming at a steady pace and I wrote every day. The story, which was entirely unplanned, kept me interested as I never knew where it was headed. Characters kept doing unexpected things, which at first worried me! …

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Photo by Efe Yağız Soysal on Unsplash

Attacking small problems early on eliminates larger ones later

“The other day Tatsugami Roshi said ‘a tiger catches a mouse with his whole strength.’ A tiger does not ignore or slight any small animal. The way he catches a mouse and the way he catches and devours a cow are the same. But usually, although you have many problems, you may think they are minor so you don’t think it is necessary to exert yourself.”

Shunryu Suzuki, not always so

Suzuki Roshi’s quote and that of his colleague are about karma and the nature of problems. When the tiger is hunting, he is totally focused on the job at hand. If a problem arises he deals with it then, not later, and eats. …

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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Yet the police, looters, and anarchists don’t seem to get it

Look up and around you. Video cameras are everywhere. Surveillance, security cameras, mobile phones, body cams, you name it, they are watching you. Yet, cops like those who killed George Floyd, don’t seem to understand that there is a permanent visual record. Whether it is video from bystanders recording you or your own body cam, it reveals the truth.

And it works both ways. In my town, Rochester, NY, when a mentally ill black man, Daniel Prude, died in police custody, the body cam video eventually came out (months later after a coverup) and our town exploded. The first big peaceful protest was attended by young male anarchists (all white) who were only there to create havoc. And when the crowd marched to a police station, they saw their opportunity and started torching and smashing cars. …

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Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Deconstructing pizza into a refreshing savory salad

When you have the stuff to make pizza but you’re not quite feeling it, try this variation. It combines cherry tomatoes (the only kind worth using fresh in winter), a torn up baguette, sliced pepperoni, red onion, and shredded fresh mozzarella with a garlicky vinaigrette.

Last week I was prepping to make a pizza and looking at my ingredients spread out in a messy mise en place and realized I wanted a salad, probably because what I saw in front of me resembled salad ingredients, sans greens. There was also a slightly stale baguette that was rapidly turning into a brown whiffle ball bat. …

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Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

There is something new emerging, and it’s big

There is a lot of interest about psychedelic substances these days and I have had a very long time to consider their place in the world now, as opposed to in the past. My first experience, and my best, was over forty years ago, when they were illegal and the sources often questionable. Since those adolescent experiments I have not indulged and likely never will. Nevertheless, recent breakthroughs in using these substances as treatments cannot be ignored.

Yes, I was triggered, in a good way, by Michael Pollan’s book

Michael Pollan’s How To Change Your Mind is a very mundane title for an important book I have been waiting years for. A reasonable history of psychedelic usage in Western society and an outline of the current state of research after it was shut down for over forty years. It’s important to understand how much our (limited) knowledge of neuroscience has grown and how it gives us some ability to begin to understand what these remarkable substances are capable of, good and bad. …



Novelist, Tech Marketing Writer, Growth Consultant. I have been a professional writer for over 20 years- 8 non-fiction books and 1 novel, many articles, etc.

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