A most romantic marriage proposal


My friend Nick Tarascio helped his friend pull off what I think is the coolest marriage proposal ever.

What do you think?


LinkedIn as Artist’s Medium (and congratulate me on my work anniversary while you are at it)

Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/airship-city-mushroom-steampunk-1140366/

I have discovered that LinkedIn is an amazing new absurdist medium for creative expression.

I started to realize the potential of LinkedIn as Artist’s Medium in February, 2014, when I retired from Wall Street. After updating my end-date for my old job, on a whim I added a new position:

I know, it’s a hamster wheel and not a rat in a race, but it’s the same idea.


Title: Rat

Company: Rat Race

Dates: July, 1968 – February, 2014.

I was just having fun. I didn’t expect anything to happen. Who looks at anything anyone writes on their LinkedIn profile anyway? The modal message is, “See how great I am.” That is only slightly less annoying than Facebook, where everyone is screaming “Look at me (and what I ate for lunch).” Yuck.

But after I officially retired as Rat from The Rat Race I immediately began receiving the most charming notes from people. I reconnected with some people I hadn’t talked to in a long time and made some new friends.

It was wonderful for a while, But, then it died down.

Then I added a new entry called Human at Human Race, that runs from October, 1952, to present.

I got a new flurry of new messages, and it was all good again.

For a while. Continue reading “LinkedIn as Artist’s Medium (and congratulate me on my work anniversary while you are at it)”

In Praise of Talking to Strangers, Gun Safety, and Pheromone Blink 182


In September, 2014, I returned from Europe on the QM2.

While working out in the gym I noticed that a man lifting weights next to me was covered head-to-toe in tattoos.

I said, “Great tats,” and asked if I could look at them. He said, “Sure” and for perhaps 15 minutes he showed them to me and explained what each meant.

I asked him what he did and he said he was a drummer. After gigging in Europe he was returning to the States and liked traveling by ship because the rooms were so sound-proof that he could practice without disturbing neighbors.

After he excusing himself he left for dinner. Another man who had been watching us said this to me, “I’m the drummer in the ship’s orchestra and that man is my hero. Do you know who he is?”

I said that I did not, and he said that I’d been talking to Travis Barker, whom he considers the greatest drummer who ever lived.

When I got home I looked up Travis on Wikipedia and was very impressed by his accomplishments. I also learned that another reason he preferred ships is because from childhood he was deathly afraid of flying, imagining he’d die in a crash one day. And then, on September 19, 2008 he was only one of two survivors of a plane crash.
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travis_Barker

The ship’s drummer had been stalking Travis and hadn’t yet worked up the courage to speak to him. I too had once been deathly afraid of speaking to strangers but in 1970, at age 18, I’d begun hitch-hiking. Talking to strangers comes with the territory and the unwritten contract of the road is that while the ride might be free you have to be more interesting than the radio.

One of my proudest moments as a parent came decades ago when we asked our son in the first grade what had happened in school that day.

He said, “A policeman talked to us, but he’s stupid.” We asked how so, and he said, “The policeman said drugs are bad and we shouldn’t talk to strangers. He’s stupid because some drugs are good and everyone is a stranger until you talk to them.”

I’m reminded of this story because yesterday my now-adult son sent me a link to a promotional video for a new show where Sasha Baron Cohen tricks pro-gun lobbyists (and the congressmen they keep in their pocket) to show their true colors by convincing them to support a program to give automatic weapons to toddlers.

If you are charged with raising toddlers into adulthood (or training lobbyists and congressmen to be humans) then I offer these three rules regarding talking to strangers:

  • Talk to strangers because everyone is a stranger until you talk to them.
  • Don’t be an idiot.
  • Don’t be evil.

You might think that not being an idiot and not being evil are good rules that can be assumed without saying.

But, apparently I’m wrong.

As evidence, consider watching the promotional video for Showtime’s new show.

And while you do, look for the reference to Blink 182.


by Brooke Allen

In February of 2014 I retired after 30 years of navigating the moral minefield that we call Wall Street.

I was looking forward to a stress-free retirement.

Fat chance.

My problems began when I spent the month of August, 2014 in Edinburgh for the largest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The summer I was there 23,762 performers from 51 countries put on 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues.

Continue reading “”

Is Cheating by Colleges Just Another Clever Marketing Ploy?


by Brooke Allen

Should “caveat emptor” be the operative philosophy when colleges market to students, or should they hold themselves to a higher standard than, say, a drug dealer?

Emory University confessed that for 11 years it has been fudging data it sent in for U. S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings. The publisher said that, “Our preliminary calculations show that the misreported data would not have changed the school’s ranking in the past two years (No. 20) and would likely have had a small to negligible effect in the several years prior.” (Read the article here.)

This second confession by U. S. News only serves to prove that their ranking methodology is deeply flawed. Since integrity is such a major part of character, confessed cheating should drop you to Dead Last in the rankings, and a cover-up should get you barred altogether pending review by the accrediting authorities.

Of course, despicable behavior by colleges may be just another clever marketing ploy intended to send a message to the vast pool of students who embrace cheating: “Come here; you are our kind of people.”

Continue reading “Is Cheating by Colleges Just Another Clever Marketing Ploy?”