Journals, June 2003
Monday, June 30, 2003 | #
A block away from my apartment, there's a building that's totally out of place. For one thing, it's eight stories tall twice as high as the next-highest building around. And for another thing, it's incomplete. There's nothing more to it than cinder blocks stacked high into the sky. Neighbors tell me the builders started work on it without a permit. When the borough found out, they ordered work stopped. And it's been sitting empty and unfinished ever since. This story seems as good an explanation as any, but it doesn't quite add up. Either the builder didn't realize he needed a permit, or he thought he could get away with putting up a building without one. And who has the skills and means to put up an eight-story building, but doesn't know you need a permit to build one? And who realistically expects to put up an eight-story building without someone noticing?
Sunday, June 29, 2003 | #
Jeremy was visiting yesterday from Scranton, and the weather was perfect for a trip to Coney Island. Some things I learned about Coney Island:
1. Traffic and parking are difficult. I foolishly drove us around for half an hour looking for an open meter before caving in and paying $8 to park in the lot over by the old parachute jump.
2. Coney Island is a shell of its former self. Jeremy knows much of the history from having watched a PBS documentary. While there's only one theme park there now, Astroland, there used to be three. One of them was called Steeplechase, and featured a ride that simulated a horse race around a life-size track.
3. The 75-year-old Cyclone roller coaster only looks tame. It's a fast, terrifying, bone-jarring ride with a great view of the ocean, well worth the $5 ticket (no line!) to ride it.
4. Still the best place around to play Skee-Ball and eat a hot dog.
Saturday, June 28, 2003 | #
I've seen verse
I met my friend Betsy last night for something called a poetry slam. Unlike a poetry reading, which usually involves a poet shyly reciting some poems and people clapping politely, a poetry slam is a high-energy competition. The place was a Lower East Side establishment called Nuyorican Poet's Café; despite the name, all the poets were black or Asian. The poetry was fast, eloquent, and charged, with internal rhymes so fast you barely had time to realize how clever they were before the next one hit. All of the poems I can remember were about racial politics, eating disorders, or gay sex. This being a "slam," a panel of judges rated the poets with cards, as if it were Olympic figure skating. Between poems, a DJ faded jazz and hip-hop tracks in and out. While I enjoyed the feeling of being in a place where there is so much respect for language, this cafe was crowded and we were sitting under a painfully loud speaker. We left early. Truth is, I'm no poet. This stuff was way outta my league, where poetry means stuff like "The Cremation of Sam McGee." Glad we went, though.
Friday, June 27, 2003 | #
I hope I live to be 100
Sen. Strom Thurmond died on deadline last night, with the news breaking shortly before 11 p.m. This makes it a good day to check out Today's Front Pages from the Newseum web site to see how the country's different newspapers handled this late story. (As I'm writing this morning, the site still isn't updated yet.) I've written before about how some news operations keep a file of pre-written obituaries for important public figures who happen to be elderly and infirm. As for Strom, his greatest accomplishment seems to be that he lived so long. (The New York Times actually runs this headline: "Strom Thurmond, foe of integration, dies at 100")
The bigger story from yesterday was that the Supreme Court effectively struck down of the country's few remaining sodomy laws. This is good news for everyone who appreciates freedom, not just those who want to legally have gay sex in Texas. You can also learn a lot about the court by reading which justices concurred and which dissented. This court decision doesn't solve the problem of sexual discrimination, but it's a symbolic step forward. Over time, we're a country growing more appreciative of each other and less willing to support laws that speak of hatred. Strom could have told you that.
Thursday, June 26, 2003 | #
Hot fun in the summertime
Two days this week, the kids on my street have managed to pop the fire hydrant and have been playing in the spray. This draws a crowd of parents and neighbors out onto their stoops to watch. It also wastes water and creates a huge puddle down the hill, but nobody seems to mind. Yesterday, while moving my car to another parking space, I passed an open hydrant one street over. Some children in their swimsuits were using it to fill buckets. When cars drove past, they tossed a bucket of water onto each car. I first thought this might be some kind of prank, except the kids were pretty young and had big smiles and waved at the drivers. I waved back at them as they tossed a bucket onto my car. Back over on my street, I parked and walked down the hill to my apartment, past a group of children hanging out by the hydrant. One of the girls called out "Hey mister!" I looked over. "Nice glasses!" I tipped my sunglasses at her and smiled back.
Being too old to play in the hydrants, my neighbor Christel and I stayed inside last night and watched the DVD of "Doctor Zhivago," which is probably the coldest movie I know.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003 | #
The office fridge café
At my office, we have a serial lunch thief. Or thieves. At least every week, I hear the laments of one of my coworkers who has had a lunch go missing from the kitchen fridge. I know this problem isn't limited to my office. In fact, at every place I've worked, we've had trouble with people stealing food from the refrigerator. So far, nobody has stolen my lunch. But I can't help but wonder what kind of low-life you have to be to go rifling through the fridge and settle on eating somebody else's leftover Chinese food. Yeah, I'm not just talking about pre-packaged frozen food, over which there could be some understandable confusion. ("Did I bring in these Hot Pockets, or do these belong to someone else? Well, I'll eat them anyway.") No, we're talking about full homemade bagged lunches. And don't get me started on beverages and salad dressings. Moreover, the scavenger acts brazenly in the short span between morning and lunch hour, in a kitchen monitored by a security camera, with the full understanding that the person who owns the lunch you're pilfering could walk by at any second. How to stop this weasel? One suggestion was to bake a pan of brownies, laced with pepper/Tobasco/laxatives, and place them in the fridge with the label "DO NOT TOUCH."
Tuesday, June 24, 2003 | #
In ice cream news, Ben and Jerry's named a new sundae after presidential candidate Howard Dean yesterday: "Maple Powered Howard." Hmm. I haven't exactly been captivated by any of the 2004 presidential candidates so far. The most talked-about of them around here seems to be Dean, former governor of Vermont (hence the Ben and Jerry's connection). He is perceived as the most gay-friendly and anti-war candidate, and also as a bit of a rebel underdog. I'm not sure how accurate these perceptions are, but his campaign has managed to rile up a lot of support via the Internet. His staff maintains a nifty weblog, which appeals to activists/young people/computer geeks. Of course, it takes more than computers to become president. While Dean was formally announcing his candidacy yesterday, President Bush was at a fundraiser in New York City. Bush walked away with about $4 million. That could buy a lot of ice cream.
Monday, June 23, 2003 | #
Sum sum summertime
Do you ever get stuck writing the same phrase over and over again? In e-mail, especially, I find I tend to be hung up on a few stock phrases. Those of you who get e-mail from me have probably seen me write: "All's well here." "Hope all's well." "That's all for now." "Not much new here." "Work's going well." ...That sort of thing. All of these basically say: "I need to put a something here, but I don't have anything new to say." Kind of like today's journal.
Well, it feels like summer's here and monsoon season is over. We had record rain in June for New York, which I'm sure was blessed news for the West Nile mosquitos. I had a nice weekend anyway, despite the rain. (Hey, there's another stock phrase: "I had a nice weekend.") Sunday I had brunch with my friends Jess and Sarah from church, which was supercool because the three of us hadn't hung out as a trio in a while. Today, the president is supposed to be in town, but I'm not sure where he'll be.
Sunday, June 22, 2003 | #
My Maryland friends Tiffany and Alexis were visiting New York this weekend. Yesterday, we went to a bar that I think will become my new favorite place to take out-of-town guests. It's Remote Lounge. Each table at this place has a console featuring a computer screen, a bunch of buttons, and a joystick. You can control dozens of robotic surveillance cameras throughout the bar. The idea, of course, is spy on people who are spying on you. For added fun, there's a phone at each table which you can use to converse with people elsewhere in the bar. Despite the great potential for mischief, we were all on good behavior and just had fun snooping around. The cameras also can snap video stills for the lounge's web site. Here's us:
Saturday, June 21, 2003 | #
Chewy chewy chewy
Me: "I want to write about that ice cream place in my journal, but I'm afraid I'll sound bitter, or like an ice cream snob."
Jess: "That's better than writing about the weather."
So we went to see "Finding Nemo" yesterday, and while we were waiting for the movie, we walked to the new ice cream parlor on 42nd Street in Times Square. It's a fancy store, decked-out with a huge sign declaring it the Cold Stone Creamery. The gimmick is that this place offers only a dozen or so flavors of ice cream, but adds mix-ins to order, so you can customize your own flavor. The servers scrape the ice cream out of tubs with a spade, then mash the ice cream around on a cold slab while they mix in candy, nuts, fruits, whatever. Each mix-in costs a little more. I ordered cheesecake ice cream with Oreo pieces in a waffle bowl, which cost me just shy of $5. The medium size bowl is so big that I couldn't finish it, which makes me wonder why they don't offer a small size. On the other hand, I probably could have finished it if it was good ice cream. It was gooey, thick stuff that pulls apart in gummy strands like a McFlurry or a DQ Blizzard. It's not terrible, but it is not a mark of premium ice cream. Since the ice cream alone isn't enough to make this place a tourist attraction, the Cold Stone Creamery has another gimmick: singing servers. We forgive them for that. Bottom line: Cold Stone Creamery serves good ice cream the way that Pizza Hut serves good pizza. Tasty, somewhat satisfying, but not the real thing. The ice cream snob has spoken.
Friday, June 20, 2003 | #
Better living through chemistry
I met my friend Tiffany yesterday for dinner. She brought with her a bagful of goodies: toothpaste, a tooth brush and some whitening gum. No, she wasn't trying to send a message about my breath (I hope) She has a new job working for Colgate! Way to go! Tiffany and I have known each other since high school. Yesterday we shared some good conversation, and determined that for a change, and with a few apprehensions, we both feel pretty good about the way our lives our going.
From the news... The authorities said yesterday that an Ohio truck driver working for Al Qaeda tried to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. But after scoping out the bridge late last year, he decided the bridge was too strong and too secure. His code phrase back to HQ was: "The weather is too hot." I'm not sure I believe this story, but it makes me proud of our bridge.
And... Remember a while back when I wrote a journal about how great it would be to have a phone number that rang both a cell phone and a land-line phone? I'm not the only one asking for this. See this story.
Thursday, June 19, 2003 | #
You call this a weather service?
Earlier in the week, I was pretty excited for Saturday. The forecast called for sunny skies and a high of 85. Wow! At last, a summertime weekend in New York. Maybe I'd go to Coney Island for the Mermaid Parade. Maybe I'd ride my bike to Central Park.
Then a terrible thing happened. At 3:30 yesterday, the National Weather Service revised the Saturday forecast to "rain likely" with a high of 68. You don't need me to tell you this is a tragedy. Saturday is the first day of summer. Consider June so far: The temperature has averaged 5 degrees below normal all month. We've already had more than twice as much rain as in a normal June. Last year we were dealing with a drought and extreme heat. Now just one weekend of that would feel really good.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003 | #
Segway or the highway
I saw my first Segway zipping over the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday morning. Since that sentence is unclear, I should specify that I was the one zipping, not the poor slob on the scooter. I was on a bike, which is faster, narrower, cheaper, and more energy-efficient than a Segway. I don't want to sound too negative about the Segway, though. I think it's probably a fun, nifty product, and it certainly celebrates the spirit of invention.
As for this Manhattan-bound Segway commuter yesterday, he didn't look like he was having fun. His scooter looked scuffed and battered. As he steered it along the walkway up the bridge, some random guy yelled, "Hey! You can't bring that thing up here!" Segway man stopped the scooter for a moment, made a Kermit-the-Frog-like "Hrm" sound, and then continued up the bridge. No one else paid the Segway any attention. I passed it on the uphill.
Will this thing catch on? Or will people spend five grand on it, then set it in the garage to collect dust next to their NordicTrack? Or, worst case scenario, will it morph into a rental product for tourists?
Speaking of Segways, David Letterman last night put this picture of President Bush on the screen and read the Top Ten things going through the president's mind at that moment. (Number 6: "Thank God nobody got a picture of this.")
Tuesday, June 17, 2003 | #
Paper and scissors rock
I know I am not alone in my fondness for office supply stores. Come on, admit it, isn't it fun to spend ten minutes selecting the perfect ball-point pen from an aisle jammed with hundreds of different kinds? Which brings me to the most amazing catalog I've ever seen. At my office, we buy supplies from something called the Allied Office Products Catalog, which carries every office supply you'd ever want. This thing is a tome, well over 1,000 pages, as thick as a city phone book, and all in full color. The first part of the book is all furniture (just in case you're building an entire office from scratch), but the rest is an alphabetical list of everything else.
There are more kinds of folders than you'd ever dream possible. There are staplers, paperweights, break-room snacks, space heaters, computer stands. There are six pages of "adhesives." As if this wasn't strange enough, this company ships products in the most bizarre way I've ever seen. They seem to send each product separately, each its own large box. We placed an order this week of maybe a half a dozen small items, and they arrived in four huge cardboard boxes. (One of them contained only a ruler, a pad of Post-its, and several dozen of those air-filled packing bags.) When a shipment arrives, it's like Christmas morning.
Monday, June 16, 2003 | #
I am in love with the Acela. As someone who tends to focus too much on details, it's exciting when I see someone else has done the same. The New York-bound Acela, with its bullet-shaped nose and sleekly painted cars, arrived at BWI romptly at 8:23 p.m., headlights blinking, bell ringing. Inside, the all-reserve cars are decorated in soothing hues of blue and beige. The glass double-doors between cars slide open automatically, like the ones on the deck of the Starship Enterprise. Each seat has a built-in adjustable pillow. Each armrest has a space for a headphone jack and plays three channels of the kind of music you hear when you're on hold with the cable company. There's running water, towels, and automatic hand driers in the restrooms. When the conductor makes a station announcement, it is preceded by a pleasant chime. Labels, signs, and even the clear plastic drink cups follow a meticulous graphic identity. On a Sunday night, the train is half-filled with young people traveling alone, sitting around conference tables meant for business travelers, reading, sleeping, smiling shyly at each other but rarely talking, so not to interrupt the smooth hum of this swift railway. At 10 p.m., the coach lights dimmed, but each seat has a small overhead light that can click on in one of two brightnesses. I worked the crossword, read a book, and drank two cups of coffee from the café car. On my headset, I listened to a CD of acoustic guitar music my brother gave me. Out the window, I watched us zip past factories and across rivers. We arrived at Penn Station at about 11. The Acela runs the northeast corridor from Washington to Boston, which I understand is the only Amtrak line in the country wired with the overhead electric lines necessary for high-speed trains. At $108 for my one-way off-peak fare, Acela ain't cheap. By comparison, the trip to Maryland Friday on an unreserved coach train, which resembled the inside of a Greyhound bus, cost $72 with the AAA discount. You pay a premium for a train with some passion behind it.
Sunday, June 15, 2003 | #
SEVERNA PARK, Md. Yay for soft crabs. In St. Michaels yesterday, I had two soft crab sandwiches, one for lunch and one for dinner. This food is really a Maryland treat; scarce anywhere outside of the state. Blue crabs are always prepared one of two ways. The most familiar is the steamed hard-shelled crab, the bright red kind you see piled high at a crab feast. Crack them open and you can eat the meat, or use it for crab cakes, crab soup or whatever. A soft crab, on the other hand, is a blue crab which has recently shed its exoskeleton. These "peelers" are rarer and harder to keep alive than hard-shell crabs, so they cost a little more. Unlike a hard crab, you eat a soft shell crab whole legs, claws, shell, and all. (The gills are removed before frying, but other than that you're eating the whole animal.) A soft crab is usually served fried, between two pieces of white bread with tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato. With so many legs sticking out of the bread, it looks a bit like a spider sandwich. If you can get past the sheer disgusting appearance, a soft crab is delicious. The next time you're in Maryland, order one. You'll impress your friends.
Saturday, June 14, 2003 | #
SEVERNA PARK, Md. Hey, I get to use a dateline today! I'm here in Maryland for the weekend to visit my family. My mom and my brother and I went out for a nice dinner last night with my grandparents. Today, my dad and Gerritt and I are going to St. Michaels, Md., for a classic an antique boat show. My dad and Gerritt know some people who are going to be there helping out. Today's high temperature for St. Michaels is 87!
The train ride from Penn Station to BWI last night was pretty smooth. Some time in the future, I want to post a journal about the space around the giant "DEPARTURES" sign in the waiting area of Penn Station. For a crummy old train station, it can have a really classic feel to it.
Friday, June 13, 2003 | #
I'm going to be in Maryland this weekend to visit my family for Father's Day. This time I'm taking the train. I'll post a full report on my Amtrak experience on Monday. (Oops, I just typed "Amtrax" by accident.) Onward...
A Memo. To: Manufacturers of battery-powered electronic equipment. Re: Quality. Status: Urgent. I own several electronic gadgets which perform perfectly but for a single flaw. The batteries fall out. This is the case with my Verizon cell phone (held together with tape) and my Kodak digital camera (likewise). I know the same condition mars millions of radios, CD players, TV remotes, and calculators around the world. With the incredible technology available at our disposal, why can't someone design a battery cover that doesn't shatter under the slightest application of force? Even the finest piece of equipment is useless without batteries. Something must be done about this a widespread quality-control problem. Sincerely -
Thursday, June 12, 2003 | #
From the inbox
Every once in a while, I get an e-mail that just seems to come from out of the blue. I got two such e-mails yesterday. I'll attempt to paraphrase them for you:
One of the e-mails was from a textbook editor in Port Melbourne, Australia, who wanted permission to publish one of my photos in a math textbook. It's a picture of a flock of pigeons, and apparently will be paired with a word problem about how fast pigeons fly. I like this. I sent back an e-mail granting my permission.
The other e-mail was from a woman who thinks I am Darryl Worley, the jingoistic country music star whom I have repeatedly criticized on this home page. The woman told a story about how she donated one of her kidneys to help her sick son, who later joined the Navy. She mentioned how much the song "Have You Forgotten" means to them. She said her insurance didn't cover the surgery, and her family has had to sacrifice half of their income. The next part of the e-mail gets a bit confusing, but it sounds like she's trying to get three free tickets to a Darryl Worley concert. I replied with a short e-mail explaining that, sorry, I'm not Darryl Worley.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003 | #
When I bike to and from work, I pass the Trapeze School on the Hudson River. It's a fenced-in area of high ropes, platforms and swings, all with a safety net underneath. From the bike path, I can see trapeze artists fly through the air with the greatest of ease, or close to it.
Yesterday, there was a TV crew at the trapeze school to tape an episode of HBO's "Sex and the City." When I went by at around 6:30, there was a small crowd assembled on the bike path. I pulled over and watched one take. Action! Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) stand on the ground next to the net, watching one of their friends (whom I couldn't identify from where I was standing) up on the wires. The friend falls to the net, and the camera pans down to Miranda and Samantha. They clap and yell "You did it!" Cut!
"Sex and the City," of course, is a fictional show set in real New York. From Gray's Papaya to Magnolia Bakery to Tortilla Flats, the show has a way of turning the city's semi-landmarks into tourist attractions. It might be a stretch to say the show destroys everything it touches, but I understand that it can really make a place more crowded. I don't know when this trapeze episode will air, but I can tell you the trapeze school couldn't ask for better publicity.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003 | #
A Prairie (Dog) Home Companion
The second trend is a web site called Friendster. Friendster is an online dating service (it doesn't call itself that, but that's what it is) in which everyone is connected though a network of people who know people who know people they know. So far, through two friends, I am connected to 12,363 people! This number grows exponentially as each of these people invites more friends into the service. I haven't taken the time to post a profile or invite anybody into the service (and I probably won't) but the site itself is a fun idea. In fairness, Friendster is really a knock-off of a site from a few years ago called SixDegrees.com, which never took off and eventually shut down. So many people are on Frienster now that it's getting big press and its servers are bogged down. How long before it starts charging a fee?
Monday, June 9, 2003 | #
Eagle Rock would be a great name for a radio station
With a break in the rain, my friend Cheryl and I went to New Jersey to take a hike yesterday. We went to Eagle Rock (exit 8 off I-280), which seemed by all accounts like it would offer a nice view of the Manhattan skyline from far away. True enough. The only problem was that the vista is actually at the parking lot (where the community recently installed a memorial to September 11 attacks). The trails all head downhill from there, into a nice patch of woods with plenty of deer and squirrel and birds. Unfortunately, we've had so much rain that the ground is totally saturated, and many sections of trail involved some bold encounters with mud. I suspect there may be better hiking and views at nearby South Mountain Reservation. That's a trip for another time, perhaps in sunnier weather.
Sunday, June 8, 2003 | #
We've lost contact
My first two sets of contact lenses were wonderful. I could see so much more clearly, and they didn't fog up like glasses. They were a vast improvement. Now, I'm on my third set of contacts (I get about one a year) and they are annoying. They bend in strange ways and hurt my eyes. Some mornings, my eyes just say "No more!" and reject every effort to insert these contacts. One of these lenses has already ripped, forcing me to dip into my $70 backup pair I purchased at the same time I got these, back in January. However, usually, I love contacts and how much more clearly I can see with them. I guess they're like so many other things: A product with the potential to either do a world of good, or cause pain and aggravation.
Saturday, June 7, 2003 | #
The case of the light fixture
Okay, Sherlock. Riddle me this. When I got home from work yesterday, there was broken glass on the floor of my living room. I looked up saw the frosted glass globe had fallen from the ceiling light, crashing to the floor. (This is not a light I installed myself. It came with the apartment.) Luckily, neither I nor Sterling were under this heavy light when it fell, sometime during the day Friday. But really, how could this have happened? I last change a light bulb about a week ago, and I remeber securely attaching the globe at that time. Why did it fall yesterday? Could the warm weather have anything to do with it? Well, now I have another project, and I like projects.
Lastly, I'd like to official declare my support of The Devils, The Nets and Funny Cide. That is all.
Friday, June 6, 2003 | #
Here are the top headlines from the two New York tabs today:
New York Daily News - Out! Turmoil at The Times: Two Top Editors Quit in Blair Scandal. (Inside: Times is a Paper of Wreckage.)
New York Post - Paper of Wreckage: Scandal Claims Top Times Editors. (Inside: Times up for Raines' Reign.)
The New York Times resignations are much-discussed among people who follow the news media. Some people are smug about seeing the big ("liberal"/"establishment") paper take a fall. Other people are sad to see a great institution ("paper of record"/"Old Gray Lady") so badly tarnished by the acts of a rogue reporter, Columbia, Md.-born Jayson Blair. The rest including me are just watching with fascination.
Thursday, June 5, 2003 | #
No cause for panic
"'The Phantom Menace' was the beginning of the end. Think about it. It came out in May 1999. Was it a coincidence that the economy then collapsed? That all the promise and light of that time went with it? That my mother became suddenly sick, and soon died? That our country was attacked? That we went to war? Well, probably it was a coincidence." - John Hodgman on This American Life, Feb. 14, 2003.
I'll explain that in a second, but first, a note about my job. Thanks to all of you who have been writing to me to ask about Martha and the company. I know she appreciates your concern, as do I. We don't really know what's going to happen, but it looks like my department and my job are safe for the foreseeable future.
As for John Hodgman, he's a funny guy and a great storyteller. I had the pleasure of listening to one of his Little Gray Books Lectures last night at a place called Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg. Enjoyable.
Wednesday, June 4, 2003 | #
It was as if an occult hand wrote today's journal.
A newspaper editor at a paper where I worked spoke once of something called the Occult Hand Society. The Occult Hand Society is a secret society of reporters who have managed, at some point in their careers, to slip the following phrase past their editors and into print: "It was as if an occult hand..." Sadly, I am not a member of the Occult Hand Society. There are precious few references to the Occult Hand Society on the Internet (three on Google), and I'm a little worried about blowing the lid off this dark journalism secret. The only vaguely authoritative remark I can find about it is on a Poynter message board, in which someone claims "The Occult Hand Society was founded (it is said) in the 1930s by Heywood Broun and beery pals." Hmm.
Heywood Broun, by the way, was from Brooklyn. He helped found the Newspaper Guild and he's credited with quotations such as: "The ability to make love frivolously is the chief characteristic which distinguishes human beings from beasts." And: "I doubt whether the world holds for anyone a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream."
Tuesday, June 3, 2003 | #
Bulletin: The FCC voted yesterday to relax some of the limits on media ownership. Apparently, this is great news for people who own media properties.
Such as, for instance, me.
With those pesky regional ownership rules out of the picture, I can move ahead on my bid to acquire hundreds of local newspapers and TV stations, and tweak them to sing in perfect advertiser-friendly harmony. I can slash the staffs, use one outlet to promote another, and create a balance sheet that reads like a winning lottery ticket. With enough money in the bank, I'll find a big media company to fold into my multi-tentacled synergistic empire. I've got my eye on AOL Time Warner. The new company shall be called: "Daryl's Home Page AOL TIme Warner." Mouh ha ha!
Monday, June 2, 2003 | #
Shouldn't it be summer already?
I got to try my first egg cream over the weekend. Explanation: An egg cream is a fizzy, sweet drink popular in Brooklyn during the summertime. I was walking past my usual ice cream supplier, Uncle Louie G's, and decided to try one. The server seemed surprised that someone had actually ordered one. "Um Vanilla or chocolate?" she asked. There are different flavors? "Vanilla," I said. I watched her fill a plastic cup with several ingredients, including milk and something from the fountain that was probably seltzer water. The resulting product was strongly vanilla, milky in consistency, with a little fizz. It is a thin drink, served cold, without ice, with a straw. No egg is involved.
It was... well... so-so. I sucked down the drink grimly as I walked from Louie G's, wishing I had ordered some real ice cream. A search for egg cream on the Internet reveals that chocolate is the more popular flavor. And, yes, it's milk and seltzer water. One more point I should make. Louie G's has the best Italian ice around, but they are not the authority on the egg cream. That distinction goes to Junior's, a downtown Brooklyn fixture also famous for cheesecake. Next time I'm there I'll order an egg cream. Wait, no I won't, I'll order cheesecake.
Sunday, June 1, 2003 | #
Lost and found
When we were hiking last week, we passed a guy who was pushing buttons on some sort of handheld device. "Is that a GPS?," I asked, fully aware of what I was getting into. Actually, no, it was a two-way radio. "But I have a GPS!" he said excitedly, and opened his hip pack and took it out. It's understood that the primary reason for a hiker to carry a GPS is so he or she can show it to other hikers. I know Global Positioning System devices work well on boats, and they're useful in applications such as search-and-rescue, not to mention the military (which invented the technology in the first place). But last weekend I learned that those handheld GPS units have a little problem when you're in the woods. See, the trees block the signal from the satellites. And you need clear signals from at least three satellites to learn your position.
That said, the new GPS devices are pretty sweet. You can plug them into your computer and download topographic maps, which include land features and trails. Then you can view your progress on the map on the tiny screen as you're hiking. The GPS device the guy had last weekend was black-and-white, but you can get them in color, too. They're starting to build GPS into cell phones, too, chiefly for 911 calls. There could be lots of interesting applications for this technology if it gets cheap enough. And can work in places with trees.
Antique and Classic Boat Show, St. Michaels, Md. Photographed 06.14.03, posted 06.15.03.
The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Photographed 05.26.03, posted 05.27.03.