Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Are they smarter?

As technology continues to advance, the number of horror stories involved in that jump to the future continues to grow.

Just recently, the RM and I were running to catch a train. I got through the turn style before her and walked a few steps before realizing she wasn't behind me. As I turned around she finally struggled through with an odd story.

If you don't know, the turn styles here in grand old New York City have a computerized interface that will tell you whether it has read your metro card or not by writing out in little green letters "Go," "Insufficient funds," "Please swipe card again," "Cannot read card."

To our knowledge this was the extent of the turn style's vocabulary.

Not so.

She swiped once "Please swipe card again."

She swiped twice "Please swipe card again."

She tries a third time "Swipe just one more time."

The RM hesitates, a little put off by this "just one more time" bit, then switches to the next turn style.

This new turn style says "Cannot read card."

Apprehensively, RM approaches the original turn style, swipes her metro card and receives a "Go."


Those things are getting smarter. Technology is getting smarter.

Very creepy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Home Sweet Home

This actually happened.

I was enjoying a beer and my book at the tea shop, yes they serve alcohol at our coffee shop, and yes it's mostly a coffee shop even though it's called the tea shop. On second thought, I shouldn't have been surprised at the collection of clientele.

In any case, as I'm reading I can hear a couple behind me arguing and it dawns on me that I don't understand what they're saying. After a couple heartbeats I conclude it's French and turn the page.

A third man starts into the argument, in French, just as a family starts singing happy birthday in the large corner spot by the window. A couple more heartbeats and I realize that only half of them are singing happy birthday in English, the rest are making up their own rendition in a language I can't identify, maybe Chinese? I turn the page.

Just then I look up and see a guy walk into the tea shop with a skateboard and a man in a kilt. I stop turning pages and just take a moment.

I shake my head return to my book and think "only in America."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Let Down

Alas, I didn't make it to the bubble blowing (soap bubbles) event. I did hear that it wasn't all that great. Apparently the guy in charge was some sort of bubble blowing nazi where people ended up light headed from all the bubble blowing.

So, having missed out on the hyperventilating, I still hopped a train to the city mostly to avoid the laundry monster. I met up with the RM and The South, watched some street art, then we headed to the bookstore sans South who was shivering in flip flops and an old sweatshirt. The poor kid still has trouble realizing that March in the north is not even remotely balmy.

I am just about finished with a book, "The Source" which is a pretty long read, so I thought I'd pick up something light. I grabbed "The Time Traveler's Wife" and all was well since I didn't really start reading it right away. I mostly perused the first chapter and sipped coffee. RM and I trotted out to wander around the Met (Metropolitan museum of art) and after a meandering walk among famous paintings of famous people, we both headed back for Brooklyn. RM had a show to go to, I decided to retire to the tea shop with my book.

All was well until I really started reading, then I couldn't put the book down. Well, I did put it down briefly to have a few beers and try my hand at karaoke at a bar on the way home from the tea shop, but it was a brief respite. I spent all Sunday reading and finished the book last night. Now I'm stuck. I feel like my head is in a cloud and all I can think about is that book. I even had a crazy moment this morning where I almost picked it up to read it again. Thankfully I didn't. I keep thinking about the characters, what if this had happened, what if..blah, books can be so all consuming.

I'm going to get more coffee here, and try to focus on the real world. Oh, and I've got a joke for you guys (teaser for tomorrow's post): A guy walks into a bar in a kilt...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Who'd of Thunk

As the reunion hunt gets into full swing, people are already meeting up. I received an e-mail today from an old high school friend.

And guess where she's living? Yup, that's right, here in New York City. She just moved last month. Well, who'd have thunk that one up.

Yeah, I know it's a big city, but we're not typically a big city people coming all the way from Montana. Anyway, we're meeting up next weekend and I'll be sure to update all of you on the fun that will be had.

In other news, there's a bubble thing going on tomorrow here in the city. I have no idea why, but there will be a huge crowd of people blowing bubbles in Union Square and I will be there with my friends. I'm sure much hilarity will follow and I will post about it for sure.

As of right now I have to get back to my very important job(s) so everyone have a great weekend and if you're in New York watch for a Ladybug blowing bubbles in the street!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What they did

This summer is my 10 year high school reunion. I'm looking forward to it in the way that I look forward to doing my laundry. I'm glad I went through the effort and I found a few shirts or favorite pairs of socks that were hidden away at the bottom of the basket. But in the end, it's not the most enjoyable of experiences and I sort of wish I could skip the whole laundry affair.

I've already begun preparing for this event (the reunion, not my laundry). I've forced a diet upon myself and done some running to get back to high school weight.

I've ogled a skirt for a month that I know would be just perfect for the event (again, reunion not laundry) once I save enough to buy it.

I've finished off a second degree and worked my way through a very important internship.

I've traveled to England, Scotland, Italy, and France and lived in two major US cities.

I should be ready, I should feel confident.

I should and I was until last night.

You see, I've been slowly searching out old classmates online. Half to help locate them for the reunion committee, and half out of curiosity. I already know where some are partly because I've remained close to some from our group, and partly because my parents still live in my hometown so they and the other parents tend to update each other on the goings on of their respective children.

People are surprisingly hard to find, well, they're hard to find when you can't remember some last names and you're really not looking too hard, just tooling around on Google. But some people have certainly made a name for themselves and Google loves them.

I found one last night who's published a book. What?! Published a book?! What the hell? Who publishes a book? Honestly! I mean, I find some of these people and they're all out saving the world and writing books and doing fantastic amazing things that I really can't compete with. (imagine a lot of gesturing here, emphatic gesturing)

So I did the only thing I could, I bought the book. I'm sure it will be fantastic and I'll end up feeling really proud that my little town has generated such great people.

But for now, I'm just a teeny bit jealous. That and, for the moment, I'm really not looking forward to dealing with laundry.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Day O the Irish

St. Patricks day is a pretty big deal here in the States. Having said that, I haven't celebrated it properly in *cough* *gasp* uhhh, we'll just say too long.

The last great St. Pat's was in Butte, Montana. A hole of a city, the place was originally settled by Irish minors back in the day. Butte grew rapidly once copper was discovered and, in its hay-day, was the largest city in Montana and a popular stop-over from the east to the west on the way to Seattle. It even sported a grand amusement park all decked out in wooden roller coasters and a Ferris wheel. Unfortunately, a couple of jerks from Canada (nothing against, Canadians, but there are jerks in every place) came down, bought out the mines, began strip mining tore down the amusement park and every grand house within reach. Now there is a big hole full of toxic water. Anyway, the city lost a lot and the population hovers near 14,000 now, except on St. Patricks day when everyone within Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington (and probably a few other places) pour into that city to celebrate. It's been awhile since the last time I joined in that party so I was aching to get out and do something fun here in New York.

The RM and I hit the parade on 5th Avenue, down near the end stretch. We hoped up on some mounds of ice and snow and had a great view right on the street. We even brushed shoulders with the mayor as he exited the parade.

Two hours later and, how many men in skirts? and we were ready to drink. After a brief respite from the cold in a small diner (must have food to drink all night), we found the first in a long chain of Irish bars on 3rd Ave. Cramming our way into the place, we started off strong with two lagers each, made some friends, then shoved our way to the back exit. Before leaving, though, I grabbed another lager, RM took a break, and we chatted with some English boys reveling in the novelty of an American bar full of American girls who really could care less about the Irish/English history. We just like the accents.

Our next stop included a fully loaded juke box and cute firemen. Where do these firemen hide out? Really, I'm curious. They just came out of the woodworks on St. Pats, it was lovely.

The third stop included a much larger venue and an an adorable old Irish couple. We chatted with them for quite awhile, then began our wandering. I ended up hanging out with a mountain of a man and RM ended up heading out for late night food.

As the evening wore down, I decided it was well time I was on my way and headed out for a cab. Of course, being me, I ran into a group on their way to a house party. I was invited, and hey, it was only something-am...Now this is where the trouble started. They were all nice people, a little rich and snobbish maybe, but nice enough. They also only had Bud Light. Seriously, if you live in a loft that freakin expensive, you could do with a little nicer beer.

Well, I drank the Bud Light, knowing full well I shouldn't. You see, a little known fact is that Bud is a rice based alcohol (I learned this from RM, very smart girl) and a lot of people are actually allergic to rice based alcohol. Honestly, one sip of Saki, one sip of Bud, and the hangover will last a day. The party ended as the sun came up and I cabbed it home to suffer a day of "the worst headache ever."

The good news is, the green paint I put in my hair pre-drinking, did wash out.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Where does it go?

Honestly, where does time go? I wanted to post about St. Pat's today, my brush with political fame, why Bud light should be banned...but no time today, no time. I have "very important" work to do, but I'll get on that post tonight, so tune in tomorrow. In the meantime, it seems British men are all the rage, so feel free to put in your 2cents on the last post! :-)

Friday, March 16, 2007

To the other side

And on the other side of this eastern ocean, there floats a small island jam packed with *gasp* the British Man.

As a followup to the Clasic American Man, I must pay fair tribute to the other side.

British men have one major thing going for them, here in the states. Don't know what it is? Holding your breath? Anticipation building?

They have the accent.

No matter what else they do, no matter what they look like, no matter...the accent here is priceless. At any venue, either riding the train in the morning or lounging at a coffee house, or sidling up to a bar, the accent will attract attention. Women will swoon, men will become your best friend.

Don't believe me? Try it.

The accent is key. The Scots and Irish with their R's, the English with their...hmmmm, not sure how to categorize it, but it's just wonderful to our ears.

The British men use fantastic words we've only seen in books. They change the pronunciation of words like "Aluminum" and use strange ones to describe the world around them. It's cute how a shoe represents the trunk of a car..

British men seem to care more about their wardrobe, preferring a button down to a T-shirt, which they always seem to wear "disco style" when out on the town. But they can get away with that, they have the accent. (American guys, pay attention, do not wear your shirt "disco style" you will be mocked.)

British men enjoy smelling nice (one tip, though, moderation boys, moderation...)

But perhaps their best asset is their humor. British men may have large vocabularies, nice shirts, a pleasant smell and a killer accent, but of all these things, their ability to maintain a witty outlook on life is most likely their best asset.

They may not tell a straight joke, or even project their humorous comment very loudly, but they will slip in that dry humor at every opportunity. Not all Americans get this, they are either not paying attention, can't understand the accent, or just plain don't get it. But if you do get their humor, if you are able to take your eyes off their "disco style" and tune your ears past the sexy accent, you will be rewarded with top quality entertainment.

Cheers to the witty Brit!

And contrary to popular belief, I've yet to meet a British man with bad teeth.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stop the Presses...

Well, I was going to post on British men today, but I received some news that absolutely must be shared with the world..

A close friend of mine just got engaged! I'm so happy for her, both her and the guy are really, really great people and they make a fun couple. You know, they're the kind of people you can hang out with and never feel like the odd man out. He got her a ring with a gorgeous blue stone. I can't remember the name of the stone since I was at a jazz show when she called so I couldn't quite hear, but I do remember her saying it was very rare. She also sent a picture to my cell phone, but I don't have any way to get it up here. I'm making her send an e-mail picture which I'll throw up here when I get it!

I know, I know, girly stuff.

They're planning a September wedding, which is a perfect time in Montana. As it so happens I had just decided to return to Montana after the job is up here in June. It also looks as though "the things I'm planning" work out so that I'll be "in a place I can't reveal" in October. Funny how things work out sometimes.

I've also been asked to be a bridesmaid. I'm so absolutely honored. She's been a great friend for a long time, and I feel so incredibly lucky to know her and him.

So this post is dedicated to two great people, CONGRATULATIONS!! :-)

Update: The stone is an "Alexandrite" and here's the picture!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The American Classic

I promised a happier post and here it is:

Running through the park the last couple evenings, I've been pleasantly distracted by the lovely weather and enjoyable views. Most of all, however, I've noticed the guys. I'm a huge fan of men, and while they do have glaring flaws, this post is not about the flaws but the nice traits. Out there in the park are a number of premium specimens, jogging, biking, playing soccer, walking dogs. The park is literally overflowing with men. Yes there are women there too, but they're not as fun to look at.

So this post is dedicated to the good old American Classic boy.

Quick to laugh, the American man's best asset is his all encompassing wide smile. They are low maintenance always happy to sport around in jeans and their favorite t-shirt. Give an American man a baseball cap and he's all set to face the day.

Although laid-back, the American man is a competitive creature who will insist on playing any game to its full extent. Unlike their male counterparts in other parts of the world, however, the American man will let the girls play too. Of course, the girl can't be a wimp and has to show she can participate, but in any given sport or exercise the guys are more than happy to interact with the fairer sex.

American guys tend to opt for a cute, floppy look. They're rarely clean shaven, but they will closely maintain that 'scruffy' chin. They may be casually dressed but are always clean.

The American man isn't embarrassed to be approached by a woman although they do tend to enjoy a bit of a chase in catching the girl. They will happily accept or buy the drinks.

Easily amused, openly friendly, warm and strong, the American man is not afraid to display his confident nature.

Here's to those adorable, Classic American men!

There are always exceptions to the rule, but we're speaking generalities here. Also, we're going to take a happy glance at the British men stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I seem to be pretty annoyed at every little thing this week. It has to be the early morning. That plus the exceptionally loud heater at 5am. And the fact that we're now roasting in our apartment. And my cat keeps escaping downstairs resulting in a chase in the morning pre-shower and a chase in the evening pre-bedtime. And I'm working on confidential which is sopping up time, energy, and brain power.

Anyhoo, so I had a plan for a nice happy post today, but I'll save that for tomorrow because I've got another annoyance I just feel you should all hear about.

As you may or may not know, New York city is a busy place.

Very busy.

Very full of important people doing important things,unimportant people doing unimportant things and all the in-betweens. Every where you go there will be people.

Take the coffee shop down the street here. There will only be one or two seats available at any given time during the day, sometimes requiring two or more strangers to share a table or other small space.

In all this humanity, personal space is something of a luxury, however, it seems that most people here have some sort of place to call their own.

That is nice.

I just wish that some people would chose to use that room/apartment whatever to do things that I just don't want to see/hear.

I don't appreciate the loud 'smacking' of lips next to my left ear while I'm enjoying a coffee and reading confidential. I don't appreciate the canoodling, snuggling, fondling, baby-talk happening within mere inches of my person.

There are certain levels of familiarity which are appropriate for a Starbucks. I'd say holding hands, mild flirtation, a couple light kisses are fine. I'd say any more than that is just not for my PG version of Starbucks.

People, we need to get along here and inciting my urge to maim is not going to make this easy on you or anyone. So, my final plea to the city of New York, please, please, please, keep your tongues, tunes, and hands to yourself on the streets, in the cafes, and on the trains.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Not Quite on Broadway

There is no need to sing along with your portable music.

There is simply no need to loudly hum, play an air drum set or tap loudly on a metal pool or bench with your loudest ring fingers.

Why do you do this?

Do you think we can't hear you?

Do you believe that in some way, we are all tuned into the music that is flowing through your ipod or mp3 player?

Is there, in your mind, a reasonable chance that we will all begin to tap and sing and join in as if in some fantastic musical where everyone knows the words and dance moves?

No, you cannot sing, you have poor rhythm and no one wants to hear it. We would tell you this directly, but no one wants to antagonize "crazy" in public.

So, for the love of all that is holy, please stop voluntarily as I am not sure how long you will survive the morning commute with the sleep deprived result of daylight savings.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Another Train Post

While I realize that posting about the commute to work is an overly unoriginal topic, I don't care. I'm sick and tired of this particular commute and I'm going to put my frustrations here because, well, it's my blog and I feel like it.

Last week a rail at Broadway-Nassau street decided to crack, or break or dislodge or do something inconvenient which in turn caused my morning commute to crack break dislodge and become inconvenient. No, scratch that, not inconvenient, completely and utterly confusing.

I take the F train to Jay street and transfer to the A or C into the city. The F is fine, that line is fine. The A and C are not, however, fine. They are affected by this Broadway-Nassau incident.

Unfortunately for me, this incident is not a continuous breaking, cracking dislodgment. No, it's intermittent meaning one day my commute is fine, the next, I'm on the A or C and low and behold we're speeding through a part of Manhattan I'm not entirely familiar with.

The best part is there are no announcements that a dislodgement has occurred. So I don't find out until I'm staring at an unfamiliar street name trying to figure out just how the hell I'm going to get to my destination.

I've discovered there are two ways to get to my building. Take the A or C up further into Manhatten and then transfer to head back the way I came on another A or C heading for Brooklyn. (Enjoying the alphabet lesson so far? Stupid trains)

Or, I can transfer from the dreaded A or C at a semi-familiar stop to a J and ride that one over a few streets. I then pop out onto the edge of China-town and run eight blocks to work.

Either way, a 40min commute turns into a 70min commute without warning. As we've already discussed, I'm not a particularly happy morning person and I simply do not have an extra 30 minutes hanging around just in case.

And anyway, I've discovered that no matter how early I get up in the morning, somehow, someway, the world will delay me and I'll arrive at this building at almost the same time each day, but that's another post entirely.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Saving Time

Daylight savings, a manipulation of time to provide maximum discomfort to the morning impaired. Beginning next week, those who suffer from this affliction will attempt to treat their affliction with copious amounts of caffeine, double, even triple alarms and they will toss and turn at every attempt to retire early each night.

If you are a chipper morning person, I hate you. One of your kind most likely invented this form of torture.

What is the purpose of daylight savings? Ah, well, I'll tell you. It's to save energy. Really, that's the spin these days. Apparently daylight savings is to allow for maximum use of daylight in order to reduce carbon emisions.

So who, among us, actually sets their schedule on the rising and setting of the sun? Anyone who has a job knows their schedule is set by their manager/boss. They will be in the office from a set time in the morning until a set time in the evening. There are times they will stay later, there are times they will arrive earlier, but it won't have anything to do with the sun. There are those who work nights and certainly daylight savings isn't going to affect them. Take a look around you right now. Are you working on a computer? Are any lights on? Would there be any difference in lighting/computer usage if the sun rose an hour earlier or later? Really?

Oh, the farmers. Right. They're the ones dependant on daylight savings, because, as we all know, the animals adhere to a strict schedule set by the hands of a clock. A farmer/rancher is going to get up when the animals need tending, which is naturally set by the sun. They aren't going to care less about a clock, regardless of whether it's set earlier or later.

Oh. And it's beginning a month earlier this year. Because the cows and chickens are plotting a takeover.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Turn Around Bright Eyes

There was a lunar eclipse this last Saturday. Although it started around 3:30 in the afternoon, it didn't end until almost 8pm here on the east coast, so we were able to get a pretty good evening veiwing.

THE SOUTH just moved to an appartment on the 7th floor (no elevator) in China Town. Although the RM and I barely made it to the appartment, a bonus was that, being on the top floor, we all had easy acess to the roof. Chilled beers in chilled hands, we watched the moon grow full again over the course of an hour up on that roof.

After warming up for a bit and having a good laugh at the dance scene in "Footloose " (who knew Kevin Bacon could fly?) We ventured out on the town to see some live music. The bands were good, the light show was fun, the beer was reasonably priced, and the venue even sported a super hero in disguise.

Curious for a different view of the evening? Check out THE SOUTH and the RM blog sites. As for me, that shortened version will have to do, busy day today!

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Fantasy of Mine

One of the many fantasies I have is to be rich. I mean, I'm not a particularly materialistic person, but there are certainly those days when I could use a little extra cash.

Since moving to New York, I've been pretty good about money. I've paid off two credit cards, started a savings account and keep myself in check about going out. In fact, I 'go out' only about once a week and a good portion of those times include house parties which are pretty cheap to go to.

Mostly, I'm OK about my finances. Every couple of months I can afford to buy something a little extravagant like a pair of cool boots or a sweater or a pair of jeans. I'm able to pay my rent and my bills and have a little left over for food and spending. I was even able to squeeze in a trip to London over Thanksgiving with money I should've probably used to purchase health insurance. Well, I took the chance and didn't get seriously ill for six months and I got to go to a place I've always wanted to see.

But then there are times when the scrimping and saving, the budgeting and the gamble just throw you for a loop.

I do my own taxes because I'm cheap and, well, they're not particularly difficult for a single person earning only about $30,000 per year.

So I thought.

I did my federal taxes and found the government is going to pay me a nice $200. I'm pretty happy about that. Then I go to try and figure out the state and city taxes for New York.

Huh. Ok. I gather the 50 odd forms and begin wading through this process. There are numerous calculations, mistakes (hence the use of a pencil), head scratchers and moments of utter confusion. Through all of this I remained relatively calm. I just knew that a person living check to check, budgeting to the penny and skipping meals on occasion is not a person the state and city would want to target for more money.

I was wrong. Dead wrong. New York believes I owe them $800. That is a month's rent for me. That is all the savings I've collected. That is the exact amount of money that I have absolutely no intention of paying.

Don't worry, I'm not going to skip out on my taxes. I'm simply going to find a way out of this. I've got a few ideas. 1) Since I'm technically a Montana resident, and plan to move back there in June, do my taxes as a Montanan 2) Do the itemized deduction sheets to take into consideration all my moving expenses 3) Find a very, very rich man tonight who is willing to marry me and pay all my taxes.

I like number 3.

I'll go back over all the paperwork and find a way. Somehow I always do. It just astounds me how any state government can possibly feel it is appropriate to steal from those in one of its lowest tax brackets. I practically qualify for food stamps.

This is ridiculous.

I have many, many obscene words and gestures for the state of New York, however, I think I'll keep this post clean as my parents read it from time to time. "Hi Mom and Dad!"

So as I was saying, I won't type out exactly what I would like to say to this state, or where exactly they can put their tax code, but I will promise them that I will not pay them a months rent. I will die of paper cuts and lead...errrr graphite poisoning before handing them that money. There has to be a loop-hole and I will find it. And when I do, I will share it with each and every one of you.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Grant Me

It's incredible how much money is out there just waiting for someone to reach out and (go through a lengthy application process) to grab. I know I've already posted a bit on this subject, but there's just so much to say!

For instance, there are a number of grants so specific that it begs the question: just how many people are actually needed to count the petals on the Ussselless flower of the genus Stupiddus on the southern-most tip of the first island to the right of the African continent when observing a map through goggles and upside down?

Then there are the less specific but just as absurd fellowships such as the grants to forward women in science. Wait, now hold on, you say, but you are a woman, in science! This would be a perfect grant for you! And I would normally agree, however, the grants are not to actually fund women IN science but rather to fund the study of how to forward women in science. OK, well, genius, no study needed, here's the answer, instead of a study, give the money TO WOMEN IN SCIENCE.

Then, now this is my favorite, there are the roughly 30 hundred million grants to fund stem cell research. Ooooooo, stem cells, yes, they must be completely over funded because, as we all know, stem cells are the cure to all. They will be responsible for curing all forms of cancer, and every neurological disorder known to man! Stem cells will cure HIV, hell, in fact stem cells will cure all viral infections down to the common cold. No need for vaccines, we've got stem cells! Stem cells will be responsible for growing limbs on command and making the paralyzed walk again! Stem cells will, on the side, solve world hunger and shoot, they'll even tackle this "global warming" everyone is so hyped about. Yes, stem cells, they are the end all, cure all.


Stem cells are simply cells that have not differentiated. They have the potential to develop into a nerve cell, a blood cell, a skin cell. They are found in each and every one of us and have been used in some studies focused on tissue engineering. The most successful studies have actually been conducted using already differentiated cells that, low-and-behold, actually can have the same functions as a stem cell. You see, some scientists stumbled upon the fact that cells can be "reprogrammed." In a sense, you can take almost any cell in your body and turn back its clock to make it into an entirely different cell.

Stem cells is a stupid buzz word(s) that has the world up in arms and the government wrapped around its little non-differentiated finger.

And no, stem cells will not solve world hunger.