Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Friday, December 31, 2020

One of my favorite self-deprecating quips goes like this: My dirtiest little secret is that, beneath my cynical exterior, I’m actually an optimist.

That’s probably why, despite my typical disregard for making any sort of New Year’s resolutions, I like the idea of their inherent failure rate as a ritual in positivity:

In The Age of Anxiety, WH Auden observed that we human beings can never become something without pretending to be it first. In other words, our resolutions are not failed acts of the will, but successful acts of the imagination…

That’s why our resolutions, even at their most delusional, strike me as the best possible way to start a new year. They bring us back in contact with all the phantom versions of ourselves, those reverse ghosts that haunt our future, waiting to be embodied. Just as other forms of wrongness as optimism propel us out of bed the morning after a wasted day, our annual resolutions propel us into a new year, hopeful all over again that we will be better people in the days to come. Here’s to that, and to 2011 — the year I write my novel, run a marathon, and open an artisanal goat-cheese farm.

I’m still opting out of today’s year-end declarations. But I’m all over using assumed wrongness as the launching pad for unexpected success — a subversive approach toward achieving your goals. If that’s not a dirty little secret for kicking off a happy new year, I don’t know what is.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/31/2010 04:40pm
Category: General
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Wednesday, November 03, 2021

I’m batting .500 this week with a couple of my daily-use gizmos:

- I bought a new, and needed, electric razor: Panasonic’s latest wet/dry cordless model. It replaces a Braun model that was my first, and probably last, purchase from that brand — never felt it gave me a good shave, and it seemed to break down too quickly (after barely more than a year). The Panasonic looks and feels good so far, delivering a smooth whisker-trimming this morning in the shower. I’m hoping I can count on this one lasting 2-3 years before replacement.

- My 1st-generation iPod Touch finally died — or so I thought. I was having a devil of a time trying to recharge it over the weekend, and wasn’t able to get it to hold a charge until I connected it to Windows machine (go figure). In the meantime, I visited one of the local Apple Genius Bars for their diagnosis, in the hopes that they’d set me up with one of their $79 battery replacements for it. To my surprise, they didn’t offer that — apparently, my 2007 model is too old for them to bother with. Instead, my only option is to turn my beloved iTouch in to an Apple Store for recycling, in exchange for a 10 percent discount toward the purchase of a new iPod. Not particularly the solution I was looking for. I’m now contemplating third-party battery replacement, just to keep my iTouch as a supplementary alarm clock and limited-use media player.

Nothing earth-shattering. I’m recording these minor developments here just for my personal reference. Which will serve a purpose, until I buy some other shiny toys with which to distract myself.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/03/2021 11:51pm
Category: General, iPod
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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

This morning I walked past two discarded items of note:

- a pair of inline skates
- a motorized dirtbike (which was actually for sale for some as-is/best-offer price)

I had to fight the urge to kick the tires, so to speak, on both of them; and in the case of the skates, actually pick them up and take them back home. This, despite both items obviously being kid-sized toys. What’s more, not only did they look cheap to begin with, they were also clearly worn-and-torn beyond any usefulness.

Is it normal to have such scavenger impulses over sidewalk junk? I’ve always been a packrat, but not with utterly useless stuff. At least, not since my struggling college-student days…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/13/2010 10:07am
Category: General, Other Sports
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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

A recently overheard exchange:

Talker No. 1: I don’t know if you’re more in touch with your feelings than the average male?

Talker No. 2: Oh please. Believe me, I’m dead inside.

Oh, wait a minute — I didn’t overhear that. In fact, I said it.

The “Talker No. 2″ part, that is. Yes, a recent lunch conversation provided me with the opening I needed to make that self-deprecating quip. I was just kidding, of course. But, as Nietzsche observed, a joke is an epitaph on an emotion. Or else, less severely, I’m hooked on a feeling.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/14/2010 09:28am
Category: General
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Monday, August 09, 2021

This is something I probably should have learned years ago, but as it happens, just recently came to me as an epiphany:

When it comes to certain people, and especially certain organizations, it absolutely does not pay to double- or triple-check on work to be delivered. Because the fact is, the task at hand is going to be screwed up no matter how many times you cajole a confirmation to the contrary. Therefore, you just set yourself up for frustration, stemming from a false sense of preparedness.

Is that abstract enough? It’ll have to be. The details have been stripped to avoid pointless complications. Let’s just say that I’m not going to expend energy for no reason other than to say that I covered the bases solely for my own sake. From there, the consequences will unfold as they will.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/09/2021 11:27pm
Category: General
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Monday, July 26, 2021

Based on my modest attempt at retail therapy this weekend, I’ve concluded that there’s no treatment to be found for me at the cash register.

Because I’m already experiencing buyer’s remorse. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, except that the purchases are too minor for me to care about them to any regretful extent:

I bought an umbrella and a wallet. The umbrella eventually will be lost; the wallet, hopefully not (at least not while it’s full of my cash and cards). Both necessary items. It’s just that I’m now looking them over, and wondering if they were worth the 50 bucks, and hour of my shopping time, they cost.

Ultimately, not a major problem. But noted that I need to do a better job of gaining gratification out of my conspicuous consumption.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/26/2010 08:07pm
Category: General
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Monday, May 24, 2021

I spent the past weekend in Florida, for an informal college reunion with a few of my old dormmates. It turned out to be a nicely-timed getaway for me, following a couple of weeks of a particularly hectic schedule that had left me drained. And along with the sun and sand, getting to see some members of the old gang again for the first time in nearly twenty(!) years was a good thing.

I suppose a standard part of these re-gatherings is discovering how little most people really change. Everyone has “grown up”, in the sense of being on-track with families, careers, and such. But the remarkable thing is that, as we all push toward 40, we’ve all retained most of the instantly-recognizable traits that we had when we were living together back in school. For the most part, we picked up right where we left off, despite the years in between.

That leads to my favorite moment of the weekend, courtesy of my old college pal Woody. The best compliment I received was when he said he was glad to see me again, because he had missed my “negative humor”. By which he means my usual dry, sardonic wit. I know he meant it, too, because every time I said something to him, he ended up laughing hysterically.

I’m glad I could lend the biting comedy to this overdue get-together. Like I said, some things really never do change.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/24/2010 08:55am
Category: College Years, Florida Livin', General
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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Or, mortality at play:

Fellow Traveler: She’s kinda cute, right?

Me: Nice legs. Definitely attractive, in a… [struggling] …young kinda way.

Fellow Traveler: What does that mean?

Me: Means I’m getting old.

It also means that they’re getting younger all the time

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/18/2010 01:39pm
Category: General, Women
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Sunday, March 07, 2021

In the space of 20 minutes of walk-around time this afternoon, my feet led me to two distinctly different ground-level encounters:

- As I first set out, a quick glance down to my shoes yielded my find of a shiny 25-cent piece, about which I duly tweeted.

- As I was heading back along almost the same paved terrain, a slippery-ish step made me look back — where I saw a squished bird that I had just re-trampled. (Unlike the quarter, I let this found object lie where it lay.)

Quite the swing in underfoot discoveries. If it portends the way this week will go for me, I’d better buckle up for a wild ride. (And no, the Twitter/bird parallel is not lost on me; hopefully my tweeting didn’t karmically trigger a dead-bird theme.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/07/2021 08:44pm
Category: General, Social Media Online
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Friday, March 05, 2021

Just like that, it seems I’m a free agent. In more than one sense, and simultaneously, all in the space of a couple of hours.

Can’t remember the last time this rapid-fire phenomenon happened to me. That’s probably why I’m less distraught, and more relieved. At least for the moment — in which I’ll live, for the immediate future.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/05/2021 08:59pm
Category: General
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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Mental note for next winter: Stock up on plastic utensils.

Or invest in less ice cream. Or in more common sense. Anything to avoid a repeat of last night’s dining debacle: Tearing off a thin chunk of my lower lip when I used a metal spoon to eat dessert (that whole tongue-on-frozen-pole effect). Along with the pain — the sensation of which is still tingling today — the sight of my blood mingling with raspberry-chocolate chip was something I could have done without.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/24/2010 01:12pm
Category: Food, General, Science
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Monday, February 15, 2021

I’m sure it’s happened before. But I can’t remember the last time Valentine’s Day was immediately followed by Presidents’ Day.

It’s a weird confluence of holiday sentiment. One day you’re feeling all romantic, the next day — I dunno, Constitutional? Very disorienting. Good thing I’ve got a day off to figure that all out.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/15/2010 02:08pm
Category: General
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Thursday, December 10, 2021

I was flipping through my wallet today and noticed that my Mensa member card was looking pretty ragged. So ragged, in fact, that you can clearly see that the name on it has been smudged away beyond recognition.

That, and the fact that I haven’t paid membership dues in years, has prompted me to discard this card. Yes, it’s a genius move, clearing out that extra space in my billfold. But I’m not one to brag on brilliance.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/10/2021 11:25pm
Category: General
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Saturday, September 19, 2021

As water mains burst with regularity on LA streets, a counter-intuitive culprit for the breakdowns emerges:

But some experts said a prime suspect should be the city’s recent decision to allow sprinklers to run only on Mondays and Thursdays. They say that if more water flows through the system on those two days when people water their lawns and then pressure suddenly changes on other days, it could put added stress on already aging pipes.

So attempts at conservation in the drought-ridden Southland result in, probably, as much water gushing out of the underground. What’s that about water finding its own level? It’s taking place on a municipal level in Los Angeles.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/19/2009 04:25pm
Category: General
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Saturday, September 05, 2021

Usually, I have no problem with planned obsolescence in consumer products, since our economy hinges upon the concept.

Until it cramps my convenience with a one-two punch. Both my electric razor and my dustbuster died this week, the victims of finitely-engineered rechargeable batteries that are, of course, non-replaceable. Actually, they both still work — but only if you recharge them after, maybe, two uses.

I’m not sure which demise I should be more pissed about. I bought them at about the same time, some two years ago, so it sorta makes sense that they’d conk out simultaneously. But it also doesn’t, because they weren’t used at anywhere near the same frequency: I used the razor almost daily, while the dustbuster got a workout only once per week. In both cases, I figured I would go at least another couple of years before battery-burnout, so I’m definitely feeling ripped off.

The dustbuster is easily replaceable. The razor? I can get another one, but for some reason, there’s a shortage of options on the wet/dry models like this one, that I very much prefer. I don’t know why more guys don’t use a cordless shaver in the shower, but judging from the selection I have to look through every few (now couple of?) years, I appear to be in the minority. And it’s not like I can take my time and go without a new stubble-trimmer indefinitely — my face is too conditioned to go back to blades (without a bloody mess resulting).

Just another couple of household appliances to blow cash on, as per the Disposable Society plan. I suppose there are worse dilemmas in life.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/05/2021 07:21pm
Category: General
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Sunday, August 23, 2021

I had an uncharacteristically restless night of sleep last night. I couldn’t account for it, since I’d managed to avoid the typical desperation that colors most Saturday nights. But instead of the usual zonk-out as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was tossing and turning, and actually woke up at least once — practically unheard of.

Today at lunchtime, I called up my cousin Adrianna, who I hadn’t spoken with for a couple of weeks. She gave me some surprise news: Late last night, without warning, she fell seriously ill and ended up rushing to the hospital for emergency surgery. Luckily, the best-case scenario prevailed, in that it was routine surgery without complications, and she was discharged back home today for about a week’s worth of rest and recovery.

Can’t say I ever believed in extrasensory perception. Rationally, I can accept that my night of moderate unease, and Adrianna’s night of extreme (to say the least) unease, were completely coincidental.

Beyond the rational? I dunno. The corker, for me: While I can’t really put a label on whatever it was that wouldn’t let me sleep — was it anxiety, dread, nervousness, or some other emotion? — at one point during the night I did manage to crystallize my thoughts. For some reason, I fixated on the idea that my cousin Billy — Adrianna’s brother — had experienced some bodily harm. It was completely out of left field, as I haven’t talked to Billy in a long while either, and had no reason to think that anything had happened to him. If not for what I’d found out the next day, I doubt I’d even have remembered that notion.

Turns out my instincts were onto something, but had targeted the wrong cousin. Given that misfire, I guess I remain a psychic skeptic.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/23/2009 07:10pm
Category: General
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Thursday, August 06, 2021

A prime piece of downtown Chicago is on the auction block: The 2.7-million-square-foot old U.S. Post Office building, which is intertwined with the city’s infrastructure a little too intimately.

A peculiarity of the building is that it was built using air rights over railroad tracks that terminate several blocks to the north, at Union Station, and so it has no basement. In addition, the Congress Expressway literally passes through the structure. The two-story-high tunnel carries six lanes of traffic.

Too bad they can’t build exit ramps leading directly into this architectural behemoth. Easy access, even if there’s no place to go to once you’re there.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/06/2021 06:03pm
Category: General
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Wednesday, June 17, 2021

Since this is my personal blog, ego compels me to announce my… (wait, lemme do the math…) …that would be my 38th birthday today.

A birthday falling on hump-day Wednesday isn’t conducive to wanton celebration. So today will be fairly run-of-the-mill: Working, keeping my eye out for b-day freebies around Manhattan (aside from today’s rather nice weather), and concluding with a nice dinner. Further action is deferred until the weekend.

Unfortunately, today also marks the first day that the dreaded increased Metropolitan Transportation Authority fares take effect, applying to the Long Island and Metro North rail roads. (The rest of the MTA — subways, buses and ferries — get the jack by end of June.)

Nothing to do with me, folks, so I’m not apologizing for the more expensive train ticket. But in a show of sympathy on my part, all my commuter friends and acquaintances are allowed to accordingly downsize the dollar value of their birthday gifts to me ;)

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/17/2009 10:49am
Category: General, New Yorkin'
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Thursday, May 21, 2021

Today is my name day.

What’s a “name day”, you say? Good question. At root, it’s a like a birthday, except that instead of celebrating your age, you’re celebrating your first name — or really, the Christian saint of whom you’re a namesake. Therefore, it’s a locked-in date that you “share” with other people that share your name; if you happen to have a non-traditional name that doesn’t match with a saint, then you’re out of luck. It’s apparently not uncommon throughout Europe, although I’m familiar with only the Greek (Orthodox) version.

And truthfully, I’m not even all that familiar with that. I never remember when mine is, nor anyone else’s for that matter. If my mother hadn’t reminded me earlier this week, I certainly would have overlooked it again this year. It means something to her, and the fact that my brother and I don’t care for the custom is one more thing that we argue about with her.

Not that the two of us are the only ones who whiff on this. I mentioned it to a cousin who shares today’s name day with me, and she was also unaware. Obviously, it’s a generational thing, along with a cultural one — obviously it’s never caught on in the US, primarily because of the lack of saints among Protestants. I wonder just how celebrated the name day is in Greece and other European countries; I’ve never gotten the sense that it was as big a deal as a birthday, although I’m sure that varies across regions.

Anyway. Nothing in the way of commemoration for this day, other than this online note. I am heading up to Broadway later tonight to catch a show, and while that’s purely coincidental, I guess I can consider it my name-day dividend.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/21/2009 01:23pm
Category: General
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Friday, March 27, 2021

Of late, I can’t seem to win when it comes to setting appointments, particularly with groups of three or more. Consider:

When the date is pegged several days or even weeks in advance, enough people inevitably pull out almost at the last minute and thus wreck the gathering. Yet paradoxically, when a call goes out for a true short-notice get-together (that night or in the following 1-2 days), nobody can commit to that either. For the past couple of months, this has been consistent in both my personal and professional spheres.

I guess there’s an ideal in-between time that would work for everyone involved? Not too far out into the future that something else will arise to take precedence, yet not so immediate as to not be able to squeeze into hectic schedules.

I’m thinking maybe a 6-day window might be the magic number. I’ll have to experiment.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/27/2009 11:47am
Category: General
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Wednesday, March 04, 2021

So I’m gearing into my morning routine: Open the fridge. Grab the OJ. Give the container a vigorous shake-shake-shake…

…And the top flips open, resulting in a splatter of orange-juiciness on the refrigerator door, inner shelves, kitchen floor, and — oh by the way — me.

A liquid vitamin C shower is no way to kick off the day. (I am exaggerating — my hand got the worst of it, and was easily rinsed off; but still.)

My first impulse was to assign blame for this debacle to Tropicana and the much-panned juice-packaging redesign that, under public pressure, it’s now abandoning. The blue flip-top spout on the plastic jug that I bought hadn’t been the target of any protests, but it was new-fangled to me, so I figured it had to be faulty. Plus, I didn’t even want the damned oversized jug in the first place — I bought it only because the special calcium-infused variety wasn’t available in a regular size.

Then, I thought a little more about it. And I remembered that I had made a midnight fridge raid the night before, wherein I took a quick swig of the orange stuff. So it’s quite possible that I hadn’t properly closed the spout, and thus had set myself up for sabotage.

Overall, a pretty frustrating morning. I think I’m going to go back to popping Vitamin C tablets instead.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/04/2021 10:54am
Category: Food, General
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