365 Challenge: Day 42 – A to Z Favorites

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A to Z Favorites: A list of 26 things that I adore, one for each letter, a challenge posed to any readers who would like to participate


Yes, you are correct — this is not exactly a characteristic; however, in my defense, for the last 5 Sundays, I’ve provided an ethnicity as the trait for the end of each week, covering my genealogy as well as the Top 10 stereotypes for that country or origin. And so… I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) of sorts that provides more in depth knowledge about me. Only this time, I’m turning it into a fun game and perhaps a challenge down the road. For at least the next 5 Sundays, matching the first five weeks, I will have an A to Z List. As a warning, next Sunday’s will be “Least Favorites,” so be prepared.


  1. Pick something that starts with that letter and add it to your own list. Don’t think about it… just come up with a couple ideas in under five seconds and choose the best of the bunch.
  2. It can be a thing or place, but not a named person. We don’t want anyone to feel left out!
  3. This week it’s your favorite things… but next week will be something else. Add in any extra comments if you need to explain.
  4. Nominate 5 people at the bottom of your post that you want to re-post with their 26 items. Pick at random – no favorites!
  5. It’s a fun game, but if you are nominated and DO NOT want to participate, you don’t have to. Just ignore it! Totally OK.
  6. You may not have been nominated, but you can totally participate by following these rules.
  7. Post it as a reply on the person’s blog where you found it. Also post it on your own blog as a new post.
  8. Should we use a tag so we can see all the responses? Suggestions…
  9. This may not go anywhere if there is no participation other than me. And that’s OK. The 365 Daily Challenge was about me to start, so I cannot expect or force anyone else.
  10. Have fun and get to know your online friends. Tell us when you post your 26 items.  Thanks!

My A to Z Favorite Things

A – Avocado

B – Books

C – Cooking

D – Dogs

E – Estates (love to visit them on tours)

F – Friends

G – Genealogy

H – Hyacinths (favorite smell in the world)

I – INC. (clothing brand I think produces cool items)

J – Jubilee (French restaurant on my corner I eat at a lot)

K – Kitchens (to cook or to think about re-modeling)

L – Lily (the flower is so pretty, especially the Calla)

M – Money

N – Netflix

O – October (favorite month, Halloween and cool weather)

P – Prosciutto (charcuterie and cheese platters, yum)

Q – Quiche (another hard one to come up with options… but I enjoy making quiche)

R – Reading

S – Sushi

T – TV

U – Undo (my favorite key on the keyboard as I’m always re-thinking what I just wrote)

V – Vino (wine and Spain… combined it together)

W – Writing

X – X-Rays (I know very little words… but I think it’s fun to look at our bones)

Y – Younger (a TV show I really like to watch and think could have been me!)

Z – Zoos

People You Are Tagging

  1. lghiggins
  2. Bentley ★
  3. Books, Vertigo and Tea
  4. Rae Longest
  5. readrantrockandroll

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

Review: Catching Fire

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Catching Fire
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins   My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every so often, I select a Young Adult book to read. After I read the Hunger Games, I had to finish the trilogy… I mean, how could you not, right?

Let’s back up a bit… I love challenges. I am totally in my element watching serial killers on TV shows. (Umm… I didn’t mean that in a sociopath-kinda way… I just mean the thrill of trying to guess who the killer is and who’s gonna go next is the fun part… make believe… not real… I’m honestly not a serial killer… wait wouldn’t a serial killer say that… oh, I’m screwed here.)

And my favorite book of all time is “And Then There Were None.” But the first thing I saw was “Battle Royale” years ago… what an amazing movie. It’s total cheesy fun, but I could watch it anytime… ok, I’m off topic. The point is… there is something about knocking people off one by one until you’re left with only 1 possible person… and the winner is… THAT is a fun book.

So I had to read The Hunger Games. But OMG, when book 2 came out and Peeta and Katniss where back in the contest, I think I died and went to… not exactly heaven, as that would be WEIRD.

She’d already been through so much. And I couldn’t take the stress of guessing which character would go and in what horrific way. My reaction was like:

OK… now that the hysterics and humor are done… I really, really liked this book. And if it wasn’t already done in the first edition, I would have given this a 5… but I wasn’t keen on the ending and so I had to go with a 4 for this one.

I am normally a fan of the bad boy/girl winning the hero’s or heroine’s heart, and as much as the movies may have tried to change my mind… Peeta seemed destined to be with Katniss in the books. And I was good with that. We all need someone to bake for us, right?

Losing Mags and Rue was awful. But the imagination in these books is incredible. And the push/pull in every direction… so good. This is is how I felt:

I recommend reading the series. It may totally be commercial young adult fiction, but if it gets you to read, it’s a good thing. And it’s full of moral lessons and a challenge to think critically about life.

All around… I think it’s a must read!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

365 Challenge: Day 33 – Strong

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Strong: having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks, or able to withstand great pressure

I wonder if we have mis-used the word ‘strong’ during everyday conversation, or perhaps it is just me. I often use the word strong to mean mentally capable of handling a lot. I suppose that would fall under “great pressure,” but it makes me wonder how words change their meaning over the years… but not to get too far off topic, I did intend today’s word to meet the definition I used above. And I plan to cover both the physical aspects and the “pressure” aspects of it, especially since I said I would several posts ago.

Why am I physically strong?

I am not a bodybuilder. I am not a sports guy. I do go to the gym, but I don’t always know what I’m doing. I’ve had a personal trainer. I am persistent. Somehow, through all these things, I have actually been able to stay in fairly good shape.

I debated whether to post of a recent photo of me at the gym or the beach, where there’d be some proof that I actually am in good shape. Then I thought about it… that might be a little too vain… a little too cocky… a little too over-selling it. 😛 If necessary, I believe there are a few pictures on my social media accounts where you’d be able to see for yourself. And that’s assuming you even care.

But my point here… is that I feel I am strong. No, I’m not counting how much I can bench press. No, I don’t know the names of each of the muscles and which ones are my best features. But I am proud of myself for working out as much as I have over the years. Someone needs to be! And since I do eat all those desserts and drink a bit more than I should from time to time, and I’m now 40, I gotta do something to at least balance it all out. I’ll never be the perfect prime conditioned body model (is that what they’re called?) but I look good.

I didn’t always workout.  I played some baseball and soccer in grammar and middle school. I bowled in high school. I started taking a few classes when I went off to Moravian College in 1995, where they required 1 physical activity course for each semester. This was a fantastic idea: required physical education courses. Not everyone would agree, but I think it makes for a more balanced lifestyle. Nonetheless, I didn’t play sports, so I went for the classes where I could do things on my own and still ask questions if I wanted to. I hated those group activities. 🙂

And ever since then, I’ve pushed myself to workout.  There have been a few years where I only went to the gym once or twice a month. When I lived in the suburbs, I bought all the equipment for a spare room and used it almost daily. For one year, I took all the extra supplements. (Legal and healthy ones… don’t get any bad ideas… I know how YOU think!) Now that I live in NYC, and I have a gym in my building, it’s a lot easier. I get there at least 4 times per week, alternating between weights and cardio.

And in the end, I feel strong. I feel great when I have a powerful workout. (Not that it gives me the energy to go do more, as in a previous post, I said it didn’t…) It makes me feel like I could defend myself if I needed to. I could keep up with the young ones. I might even get a second, third and fourth look at the beach. Woo Hoo! Goals in life have been met. Ha! I’m amusing this morning.

But the strength I am talking about is being in touch with my body, knowing my limits, understanding my capabilities. Being able to look at a set of weights and challenge myself to add 5 pounds extra the next time. Upping the level by one on the cardio machine or extending an extra three minutes to really push myself. I am strong and I know it… except for those two annoying spots called mini-love handles, which won’t go away. And all because I won’t cut the fat out of my diet. Grr…

Why am I mentally strong?

Life is hard. People hurt you. Things don’t go your way. But I’ve been blessed with the ability to control my thoughts and actions with enough strength that I can lead a healthy, happy and open life. Not everyone wakes up each day and feels good about themselves. Whether it’s an awful prior experience, a chemical or blood issue, or even just depression, a large part of the population struggles to get through life. I’ve certainly had some moments where I wasn’t too keen on myself or what was going on, but in general, I’m pretty blessed with a strong mind and the will to go on. And I’m thankful for it.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t had days where I watched sappy movies and cried to a friend. Or that I didn’t sit in the dark for hours, wishing it all to go away. We all have moments like that, but it’s important to find your way out of it… and towards something better. Maybe that’s part of the goal of this 365 Daily Challenge: to help provide more strength for my future, and perhaps anyone reading it, too.

An unusual post for me today… but I feel like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. Demonstrate why I am strong, saving why I am weak for another day. 😛

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.


365 Challenge: Day 23 – Short

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Short: measuring a small distance from end to end, lasting or taking a small amount of time

Today’s characteristic has many meanings, all of which can be negative or positive, depending on, of course, what action or noun it is being applied to… to help keep this post short (oh, I am funny!), I’m only going to consider it when discussing my height. And since you really can’t tell from any pictures you’ve seen of me, the answer is… drum roll…

I’m 5’7″ tall, which by most means places me in the short category. Per Wikipedia, the average male height in the U.S. is 5’9″ tall. So short it is… but when you take a step backwards and consider the whole spectrum, I’m really not too far off the middle average. And depending on the crowd of people I’m with, I can still be one of the taller ones. Generally, I feel a little shorter than most people around me, so this isn’t a surprise.

Why is it good?

  • I easily fit into smaller spaces.
  • I just miss hitting my head on the airplane and train upper storage bins.
  • I can hide more easily.

Why is it bad?

  • I can’t see the main stage at concerts, theatre shows, movies, etc. Someone’s head is always bobbing in my way.
  • Clothes never fit right. Smalls are too small and mediums are too big. Shirts always fall too far below my waist. And then I need to go custom for some things or just accept it will always look a little too tight or baggy.
  • People assume you’re weaker or less intimidating. (I’ll ignore this for today as I’ll be posting another day about my strength — I spend lots of time in the gym, so I’m a solidly-packed little powerhouse).
  • I can’t reach the top shelf in the kitchen and refuse to take the extra 30 seconds to get a step stool. So I hop up on to the counter, bang my knees, and then grab whatever I need. And putting it back on the shelf is a whole lotta craziness. If it’s not glass, I’ll throw it in the hopes it makes it safely. I tend to have good aim from years of baseball as a kid.

I’m sure there are more reasons why it is good and why it is bad, but I wanted it to be the first things that come to mind. I’m trying to keep these posts down to less than 30 minutes per day so that I’m using my time wisely. And finding clips, images and formatting is not always easy!

If I had a option to change, I’d want to be a few inches taller, perhaps 6′ feet tall.

  • It’s a round number which I like.
  • It easily rolls off the tongue.
  • I’d rather have my clothes fit more accurately, as it helps with shopping and appearance.
  • I’d be able to reach most things with less impacts.

While appearance isn’t always the primary driver for me, it absolutely is in this case. Even though being taller would help with some things, my preference comes from vanity and less from practicality.

What would you choose?  Taller, Shorter or Exactly the way you are?  Come on, Goldilocks… start sharing!

365 Challenge: Day 17 – Quiet

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Quiet: making little noise, carried out discreetly, secretly, or with moderation

I am a very quiet individual. It’s different than being shy, although both probably stem from the same general DNA that make me who I am. Being quiet is more a way of life for me, in many, many ways… even if I’m home alone, I still speak very quietly so as not to disturb anyone else. Even when I’m talking to myself (we all do it, don’t judge!). Not that I look in the mirror and say things like this…

My father jumps whenever he hears loud noises, and it’s gotten worse as he gets older. I’ve noticed the same thing is happening to me. I remember once back in high school Spanish class, I yelled at the teacher. In my defense, it was completely warranted. I really liked him, too. But whenever the class got too rowdy, he’d take off his shoe and hammer it on his desk. One day, he kept doing it, and my body would just jump every time. It shook me inside, was painful and pressed too many buttons (not sure why). I just shouted at him in front of the whole class “Would you please stop doing that? It’s really unprofessional.” At least I said “please.”

When I’m on trains, the Long Island Rail Road in particular, it can get REALLY annoying. I no longer live there, so I’m mostly on it to visit family. My commute times tend to match up with people on their way in or out of NYC for events like a Rangers or Knicks game, or out to the bars and clubs. Yeah Yeah Yeah… I went in and out a few times myself to those events, but I sat in my seat, respectfully, kept myself occupied… sometimes talked to my friends or someone in the seat next to me. Quietly. Not as though the entire train had to hear me speak. But some people have absolutely no sense of boundaries and talk loudly on the phone, jump up and down like children, scream from being drunk and excited. I’m embarrassed for them. Didn’t your parents or teachers tell you to respect others around you? I’ve been there… I’ve been the one at a club dancing and singing and drinking… been a little too drunk at times, but I still knew better than to create an entire scene in public.  OK, rant over. Where’s my hair brush?

Part of me actually gets annoyed when I hear people being loud in situations when they obviously should not be loud. Am I a party-pooper? A Debbie-downer?

No, I think I just reserve the “crazy” for the appropriate time and place. Being quiet is more a natural state for me. I could stay home all day, not speaking to anyone, and still be happy. Reading, Watching TV, Gardening. I like people and I want to be around them at time, but being quiet and just content with my surroundings is enough for me. That’s why I’m an introvert. I wonder what it’s like for an extrovert who needs to be loud and constantly around people?  Help me understand…

I’m getting a little too loud with these GIFs, aren’t I? At least they don’t make noise! When I’m scrolling thru something on my phone and a video clip automatically pops up, and it makes some sound or noise, I tense up, look around to see if I’m bothering anyone, and then turn it down, frowning the entire time!

I like it quiet. And I cannot lie! But I absolutely love the beauty of sound and music. So what I’m really saying is I like the noise level to be appropriate for the situation. If you’re in an open field and no one’s around, be as loud as you want. But chances are, even if I had that luxury, I’d still be fairly quiet.

365 Challenge: Day 16 – Punctual

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Punctual: happening or doing something at the agreed or proper time; on time

You’re all in for a treat today… well, that may be overselling things. I’ve discovered and decided to add animated graphics and GIFs to my posts. I searched for a few fun ones this morning and will drop ’em in throughout today’s topic. And since I am a voracious reader as you recently learned, and well, this picture is just great, the first one, obviously someone intelligent checking their watch to see who is late and who is on time:

Bbc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Who doesn’t love Sherlock?  Just started watching this TV show recently and posted a review on here, too! You can find it by clicking here. Back to punctuality.

Ever since I was a small child, I was fascinated by time. But get this, I never wore a watch. I don’t like things dangling on my arm or wrist… distracting… and then you have something else you need to match to whatever you are wearing (and I’m no good at that)… I digress a lot today. Time is so simple yet so complex.  The second hand clicks around 60 times, then the minute hand moves ever so slightly. Once the minute hand moves around 60 times, the hour hand has moved to the next of the 12 hours on the clock. It could be AM or PM. But so many people have such a hard time with being punctual. Forget DST… that could cause some people a trip to the asylum.

Adventure Time GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I have no sense of time when it comes to looking at the sun or the sky. I can’t tell what it means to set in the east or west, what shadows are being cast, et al. For me, being punctual is some internal clock that just knows what time it is.

I rarely use an alarm clock. Unless I’m sick or traveling, meaning time change hasn’t settled in quite yet, I wake up at the same time each day (usually about 7am) and start feeling tired about 10pm each night. I can tell throughout the day what time it is usually within 10 to 15 minutes, even if I haven’t looked at a clock in hours. And for those reasons, being punctual has always been innate in me.

It’s a sign that you care enough not to waste someone else’s time. It’s evidence that what you are showing up for is important. It’s considerate (ah…. remember that post!) by showing you took a few minutes to plan your arrival rather than just show up whenever.

Suits GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s not an option for me to be late. I get nervous and uneasy if I’m going to be late for some unavoidable reason. I get frustrated with train or plane delays because it throws off my timely plans. I feel like it says “he didn’t care enough.”

Happy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s not about counting the minutes or planning to the moment. It’s about ensuring you are not causing any inconvenience to other people. Punctuality helps things run more smoothly. You can often accomplish more as a result.

That said, I’m not 100% punctual. On occasion, if there’s no impact to someone else, I might arrive a little later than planned. For instance… there’s a party from 8 to 11. I tell the host I expect to arrive around 8:30. If I show up at 8:35, I’m not gonna freak out.

Panic GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

But if I am meeting friends for lunch and we say 12… you bet your ass I’ll be there by 11:55. Unless the person I’m meeting is always late… and I have a few friends like that… then, I… well, no… I show up at 11:55.

Some laughs for you about how punctual I’ve been:

  1. Created an itinerary for a 2-week trip to Italy. Arrival times and departure times were noted on a schedule to the minute. I never made that trip, but when I do re-schedule, I’ll be thrown off if I’m not on schedule. And one of those places was the Amalfi Coast where La Dolce Vita is the way of life: you just enjoy the beauty and forget about time. Ha!
  2. I once kept a log of all my times at the gym, noting when it was scheduled and when I actually worked out — each activity, set, rep. Wanted to see if I was using the time the best way possible. NERD!
  3. I’ve timed it so that I walk around the corner for a restaurant reservation so that I could walk right up to the host or hostess at the precise time. Yes, I am a little obsessive.

How about you frequently late arrivals?  What’s the scoop?

365 Challenge: Day 14 – German

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German: containing roots from Germany

It’s the 7th day of this week’s challenges, which means it’s time to choose a physical characteristic; and in keeping with the theme of discussing my nativity, ethnicity and heritage, you should know that I’m about 33% German, although my Ancestry DNA test seems to think I’m more around 10%. I think it’s just lying to me. Science can’t always be right, can it?

Based on the last names and documents I’ve located going back to about 1800 on most branches of my family tree, close to 50% of people seem to have emigrated from Germany or a pre-Germany state that was part of the German empire. I think of a few of them were probably from Eastern Europe or Scandinavia, so I sort of merge those with the 10% I saw from Ancestry DNA. That said, something is still not adding up based on known facts, DNA and available documentation. Therefore, I’ve settled on about 33%. Someone is lying about their home country, or someone may have had an affair and passed the child off as her German husband’s kid… I’m not sure, but I love a good scandal!

And I have one in my German side. A great-grandfather’s last name was as German as they come: Mück, possible Müeck originally. But when he emigrated to the US in the 1870s, it was translated on some documents as Miick. He married and had 3 daughters, but later suspected his wife was actually moonlighting as a prostitute. He claimed the younger 2 girls weren’t his and divorced the first wife. He managed famous boxers in NYC around this time, and suddenly one day, he disappears and changes his last name to Reynolds. He then marries another woman, an Irish one this time, and has 6 more children. But he’s no longer involved in boxing and has become a big-time beer brewer. I wish I knew the real story behind all of this, but there’s some scandal doing on there. Unfortunately, there are strong physical traces between him and subsequent male members of that branch, including me, so I know the German roots are real on that side!

As a fun sidebar, just like last time with the 4 Irish stereotypical traits, I found 9 German ones from a new site called “FluentU.” Let’s see how I compare:

  1. Direct
    1. Yes, for the most part. I often say what’s on my mind, but I always use a filter.
    2. Score: 1 out of 1
  2. Love rules, organization and structure
    1. I invented rules and now I can’t live without them. I’m crazy when it comes these things.
    2. Score: 1 out of 1
  3. Punctual
    1. Yes, and punctual to me actually means a few minutes early.
    2. Score: 1 out of 1
  4. Love soccer (football)
    1. Not a sports guy.
    2. Score: 0 out of 1
  5. Well-insured
    1. This one was odd… so I am going to say probably not, I tend to only buy what I need.
    2. Score: 0 out of 1
  6. Distant
    1. Unfortunately, yes… most people would say I can be a little cold and distant about things. I know how to remove my emotions when I need to.
    2. Score: 1 out of 1
  7. Love beer
    1. Eh… if it said wine, I’d agree. But I only drink beer from time to time and not very excited about it.
    2. Score: 0 out of 1
  8. Always making bread
    1. I love bread. I eat it all the time. But I rarely make it. Let’s split it evenly.
    2. Score: .5 out of 1
  9. Love sausage
    1. Not so much. I’m more a red-meat guy. Skirt Steak, Filet Mignon, Tartare, Beef Wellington…
    2. Score: 0 out of 1

And keeping with the statistics game from last time, my score would be: 4.5 out of 9, which is 50%. See… all the records I’ve found are correct. Take that, Science and DNA!