me me me me me me


A couple of years ago my sister Judy and I were each given a box of truffles. The tiny print said two pieces contained 310 calories and there were six pieces in each box. We were seating in the bus heading downtown, quietly downing our calculations.  Judy was dividing by two and I was multiplying by three.  When she realized what I was doing, a look came over her face that was hard to describe. “I lost all hope for you,” she says now. The difference between us could not have been more clearly defined at that moment.  There are people who can eat one piece of chocolate, one piece of cake, drink one glass of wine.  There are even people who smoke one or two cigarettes a week. And then there are people for whom one of anything is not even an option.

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir

Photo: jaimejustelaphoto


Binge Watching. No comment as to you Aussies and Kiwis.


“Netflix knows the exact episode of a TV show that gets you hooked. A sample:

  • Bloodline — Episode 4
  • Breaking Bad — Episode 2
  • Grace & Frankie — Episode 4
  • House of Cards — Episode 3
  • Mad Men — Episode 6
  • Orange is the New Black — Episode 3
  • Sons of Anarchy — Episode 2
  • Suits — Episode 2
  • The Blacklist — Episode 6
  • The Walking Dead — Episode 2

The episode that Netflix names as the “hooked” episode is the global average, but it found some local variations. “The Dutch, for instance, tend to fall in love with series the fastest, getting hooked one episode ahead of most countries irrespective of the show.” On the other hand, “members in Australia and New Zealand [got] hooked one to two episodes later than the rest of the world on almost every show.”

See full article and list of TV Series at the Verve: Netflix knows the exact episode of a TV show that gets you hooked

Credits: Image – Exactly

Stop the World


The truth is, I feel like yelling Stop quite a bit these days. Every time I hear about Twitter I want to yell Stop. The notion of sending and getting brief updates to and from dozens or thousands of people every few minutes is an image from information hell. I’m told that Twitter is a river into which I can dip my cup whenever I want. But that supposes we’re all kneeling on the banks. In fact, if you’re at all like me, you’re trying to keep your footing out in midstream, with the water level always dangerously close to your nostrils. Twitter sounds less like sipping than drowning.

The most frightening picture of the future that I’ve read thus far in the new decade has nothing to do with terrorism or banking or the world’s water reserves—it’s an article by David Carr, the Timess media critic, published on the decade’s first day, called “Why Twitter Will Endure.” “I’m in narrative on more things in a given moment than I ever thought possible,” Carr wrote. And: “Twitter becomes an always-on data stream from really bright people.” And: “The real value of the service is listening to a wired collective voice … the throbbing networked intelligence.” And: “On Twitter, you are your avatar and your avatar is you.” And finally: “There is always something more interesting on Twitter than whatever you happen to be working on.”

This last is what really worries me. Who doesn’t want to be taken out of the boredom or sameness or pain of the present at any given moment? That’s what drugs are for, and that’s why people become addicted to them. Carr himself was once a crack addict. Twitter is crack for media addicts. It scares me, not because I’m morally superior to it, but because I don’t think I could handle it. I’m afraid I’d end up letting my son go hungry.

~ George Packer, Stop the World


Driving I-95 S. With all things Sacred.

traffic, cars,highway,drive

4 am.
The windows mist up and clear.
Wipers, never short of stamina, never lose their rhythm, clear the morning rain.
The soft click of the back and forth, lull me into a gentle place.

Waze signals 10.5 hours in front of us.
I’m the first to carry the baton.
I’m pressing to slingshot over the GW Bridge ahead of rush hour.
Rain, highway warning signs, road construction.
Truckers, tourists, insomiacs – all being squeezed, four lanes into one.
We clear.

We fly out of the shoot and enter the NJ turnpike.
The right hand makes slight course corrections.
The right foot steady, to 82 mph.
Makin’ time in Summer time.

Susan sleeps in the back.
Eric snores to my right.
But for the hum of the engine, the cabin is quiet.
A thin stream of light lines the horizon, dawn stretching to lift Night.
Quiet? Not.
More like Levithan’s Unquiet – words and thoughts crash into each other.

It’s Eric’s Senior Year.
Mom and Dad are dropping off their precious cargo and deadheading back.
The Melancholy Bus rides again. [Read more…]

Saturday Afternoons. In Memorata.


Eric, our 21 year old Son, joins Zeke and me on the bed. He’s texting. I’m reading. Zeke’s napping, his paw twitches. The TV buzzes in the background.

Kanigan Men, never have much to say to each other. Yet, he did come in, and sit with his Dad and his Dog. As Heithaus would say in ‘Insides’: …Between words – white space and breath, the air moving without sound…all the fecund stuff inside us that finds thought and voice and sound.’

Eric continues texting.

New York Times: Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children: “Texting looms as the next national epidemic, with half of teenagers sending 50 or more text messages a day and those aged 13 through 17 averaging 3,364 texts a month.”

Eric pauses from texting to look out the second floor window and down the street. Three houses down, a neighbor is playing catch with his five year old son. 15 years ago, that would have been Eric and me. On the street, in the hot mid-day sun in Miami. I can hear the ‘clop’ of the ball hitting his mitt. His cheeks are flushed. His hair matted and wet. Wonder if this scene is taking him back? [Read more…]


ajit johnson

Source: See others in this series by Ajit Johnson

If I like something, I like it a lot. (Simpatico)


My friend Denise tells me somebody told her, “Shopping is despair,” but my daughter Jennifer says, “Shopping is hope.” Hope gets out of hand. One turquoise ring from eBay is not enough. I must have five. A single secondhand Coach bag is not satisfying – I bid on seven. As I have implied, one is not a concept I understand. When I smoked I smoked three packs a day, when I drank, well, let’s not get into that. If your psyche is a balloon animal and you squeeze to eliminate the cigarettes and whiskey, the crazy has to go somewhere. A friend’s mother ate nothing but clams for six months. Morning, noon, and night, nothing but clams for six months.  “I don’t know what it is – I can’t seem to get enough of them,” she told her son. He shakes his head, but i understand. I eat nothing but broccoli for a month, then yogurt for six days, then (for one glorious week) lamb chops. One day I roasted a chicken and had seven chicken sandwiches before nightfall. If I like something, I like it a lot. Just one doesn’t cut it. I don’t know what it is I can’t get enough of. At least I don’t have shopping bags full of duck sauce.

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir

Photo Source: weheartit

Look at me when I talking to you


“I’ve been finding it harder and harder to concentrate on words, sentences, paragraphs. Let alone chapters. Chapters often have page after page of paragraphs. It just seems such an awful lot of words to concentrate on, on their own, without something else happening. […]

When the people at the New Yorker can’t concentrate long enough to listen to a song all the way through, how are books to survive? […]

It makes me feel vaguely dirty, reading my phone with my daughter doing something wonderful right next to me, like I’m sneaking a cigarette. Or a crack pipe. […]

One time I was reading on my phone while my older daughter, the four-year-old, was trying to talk to me. I didn’t quite hear what she had said, and in any case… She grabbed my face in her two hands, pulled me towards her. “Look at me,” she said, “when I’m talking to you.” She is right. I should. […]

Spending time with friends, or family, I often feel a soul-deep throb coming from that perfectly engineered wafer of stainless steel and glass and rare earth metals in my pocket. Touch me. Look at me. You might find something marvelous. […]”

Hugh McGuire, Why Can’t We Read Anymore?

Don’t miss how McGuire changes and his explanation on why books are important.  Full post here.

Photo Source: Choi Moi

David Carr: Try harder. Create something with your own dirty little hands.


David Carr died last week. He overcame drug addiction, survived cancer and struggled with alcoholism. He was a best selling author, a top media columnist at The New York Times and a member of the faculty at Boston University’s communications school.  He was a “mentor to young reports and a blunt critic of those who didn’t measure up.” Here’s a excerpt from today’s paper:

NY Times: David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students:

David was interested in people, not their résumés. He didn’t care where someone went to college or who their parents were. So instead of giving his students a standard biographical blurb…David told them this, under the heading “Not need to know, but nice to know”:

“Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech…Your professor is fair, fundamentally friendly, a little odd, but not very mysterious. If you want to know where you stand, just ask.”

He encouraged teamwork. “While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people,” David wrote, adding, “Evaluations will be based not just on your efforts, but on your ability to bring excellence out of the people around you…”

Mikaela Lefrak, 26, was his teaching assistant his first semester. “He didn’t want us to sound like everyone else,” she wrote in an email. “He wanted us to sound better. Extended metaphors should be indulged and encouraged — the stranger, the better. And clichés were poison. ‘Try harder,’ he told me constantly. ‘Create something with your own dirty little hands…’ ”

David warned there would be a heavy reading list. “I’m not sliming you with a bunch of textbooks, so please know I am dead serious about these readings,” he wrote. “Skip or skim at your peril.”

I encourage you to read the entire article. You can find it here:  David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students.

His best selling book, “The Night of the Gun,” is a memoir of addiction and recovery. I highly recommend it.  Maria Popova at Brain Pickings shared some excellent excerpts from the book in her post: Addiction to Truth.

And here are links to some of my favorite quotes by Carr:

Carr lived in New Jersey with Jill Rooney Carr and their three children. He was 58. As Scott Peck would say, he took the road less traveled and many of us are better for it.


Credits: Photograph of David Carr in 2008 –  NY Times


No doubt. I’m an addict.


Sugar Season. It’s Everywhere, and Addictive by James DiNicolantonio & Sean Lucan:

  • Sugar is everywhere. It is celebration, it is festivity, it is love.
  • It’s also dangerous. In a recent study, we showed that sugar, perhaps more than salt, contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease. Evidence is growing, too, that eating too much sugar can lead to fatty liver disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and kidney disease.
  • Yet people can’t resist. And the reason for that is pretty simple. Sugar is addictive. And we don’t mean addictive in that way that people talk about delicious foods. We mean addictive, literally, in the same way as drugs.
  • Up until just a few hundred years ago, concentrated sugars were essentially absent from the human diet — besides, perhaps, the fortuitous find of small quantities of wild honey.
  • Today added sugar is everywhere, used in approximately 75 percent of packaged foods purchased in the United States. The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day. If you consider that the added sugar in a single can of soda might be more than most people would have consumed in an entire year, just a few hundred years ago, you get a sense of how dramatically our environment has changed. The sweet craving that once offered a survival advantage now works against us.
  • Whereas natural sugar sources like whole fruits and vegetables are generally not very concentrated because the sweetness is buffered by water, fiber and other constituents, modern industrial sugar sources are unnaturally potent and quickly provide a big hit.
  • Substance use disorders…exist when at least two to three symptoms from a list of 11 are present…sugar produces at least three symptoms consistent with substance abuse and dependence: cravings, tolerance and withdrawal. Other druglike properties of sugar include (but are not limited to) cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward, opioid effects and other neurochemical changes in the brain.
  • In animal studies, animals experience sugar like a drug and can become sugar-addicted. One study has shown that if given the choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lab settings because the reward is greater; the “high” is more pleasurable.

Read full op-ed NY Times article here: Sugar Season. It’s Everywhere, and Addictive

Notes: The recipe for the caramel stuffed soft gingerbread cookies in the photograph can be found here: