The Lid at Starbucks

CupWithLid.jpgWhen is Starbucks going to redesign their lid? I complained about this over a year ago and mentioned the specific location of a Starbucks where I was burned, spawning a tirade of hate mail by that location’s baristas. Since then, I have been burned and stained by Starbucks coffee on several occasions.

Dunkin Donuts has had a new lid out for around two years now, that snaps shut. It’s about time Starbucks comes up with something similar.

Cable, Parking, Passport

Brooklyn HeightsNot much has changed. The weather is still great, the job is going great, and the weekends are going great.
I spent over an hour last Saturday in line at the only Time Warner Cable customer service establishment in Brooklyn. There is one establishment with two customer service windows for 2.6 million people.
Subsequently I received a parking ticket in Brooklyn Heights for returning to my car twenty seconds after the meter expired. I know it was twenty seconds because the meter maid told me that she “just saw it expire twenty seconds ago.” Subsequently she had to nerve to have me wait while she finished typing in the info into her machine.
Thursday I got up early and took a trip to the Austrian Consulate to apply for a new passport. Well, first I had to have photos taken. I had these taken at eight at the consulate’s recommended photographer on 42nd Street (the consulate is on 69th).
It turns out the photos were not up to specs, and I had to travel back down to the photographer and have them retaken. Apparently my eyes were slightly too low and the color was bad. At least the representative at the consulate called the photographer so I could have them retaken for free.
So yeah… That’s what’s new.

Lessons from the Real World

New York City SubwayMonths have past since I updated this weblog (which turns seven years old at the end of the year) with some details about what I’m personally up to.
As you might know, I worked in financial consulting in Vienna last summer, from July to October. Since I didn’t like the way that was going, I decided to move back to the United States. I spent several months looking for a job, but never received any interview requests. It wasn’t until March that these started coming about, and by the 17th of that month I had committed to a job at TheLadders.com in New York City.
My starting date was April 2, and I moved in with my friend Nick Harisis a couple days before. I slept on a couch dubbed “Old Faithful” for an entire two months.
My job is pretty cool. The people are great, the material is for the most part interesting, and the company in general is amazing. It was recently featured in The New York Times:
Listing Top Jobs but Charging Candidates to Seek Them
Back to my living situation: About three weeks into “living on the couch,” Mike (remember him from college) and I basically locked ourselves into living in a great place on Park Avenue South in Manhattan after only looking at a total of three places in Brooklyn.
Just as we were supposed to move in, however, two major issues arose that have caused us to be looking for a new place, this time with three bedrooms.
I don’t want to dwell on the housing saga… It is what it is. For now I’m living in the Park Avenue South place on a double-height air mattress which keeps deflating at night after it randomly sprung a hole after its fourth night in operation.
The thing cost me $40 plus a $20 pump at Target in Brooklyn. I pondered the possibility of returning it, but there was no way to fit that into my schedule. A sheet in the box proclaimed “Do not return to the place of purchase,” instead suggesting that I send it back to the manufacturer. That wouldn’t leave me with an object to sleep on, however.
Saturday morning, on the way to picking my mom up from the bus station, I stopped by a K-Mart to see of they had any vinyl repair kits. They suggested I check out Modell’s (a regional sporting goods chain) around the corner. They told me to try K-Mart… Yeah… Just in case, I had picked up a roll of flexible tubing tape at K-Mart.
The tubing tape turned out to be ineffective, and on Monday I purchased some duct tape, after unsuccessfully searching the internet for a swimming pool store in Manhattan. Somehow pools and Manhattan don’t fit well, I suppose, unless they’re at the top of a luxury high-rise.
The duct tape works pretty well. I can currently lie down on a fully inflated mattress at midnight, and my back won’t hit the floor until around six in the morning… Almost long enough for my usual night’s sleep!
I am still determined to find a pool dealer in Manhattan though. Today at work I looked up “swimming pool dealers” on yellowpages.com and found one in the East Village. Unfortunately I remembered the number wrong and apparently walked right by the place. I’m pretty sure it’s a wrong listing though.
There’s no other furniture in my bedroom except for a bar stool and a plastic dresser tower thing (left by the previous tenant) that I have used as an “office” for the past couple days. Not trusting my air mattress as a reliable and halfway comfortable place to sit, I ventured out to the neighborhood drug store at 10 p.m. this evening to buy a $12.95 lawn chair. I might need it this summer anyway… It’s not bad to sit on with my laptop in my lap.
So maybe I’ll give you some more updates over the next couple weeks, but my week, especially Monday through Friday is so ridiculously filled. Here’s my average Monday-Wednesday:
6:00am: Wake up because my air mattress has deflated, somehow manage to go back to sleep
7:15am or 7:30am: Wake up, shower
8:20am: Head out and get on the subway
8:45am: Arrive at work
Sometime between 6:30pm and 7:30pm: Leave work, take care of task (eg. buying a lamp, searching for pool store, etc.)
Sometime between 8:00pm and 8:30pm: Arrive at home
8:40pm: Get on the subway to head to gym
9:00pm: Arrive at gym
10:30pm: Leave gym, eat at Subway (as in the restaurant) around the corner
11:15pm or so: Get home
Midnight: Go to sleep
Thursday is the same except I usually head out to an after-work bar night around 6:30 and stay out until midnight or so.
Friday is also the same except I have some time off from around 6:30 until around 10, when I usually head out.
The weekend usually flies by way too quickly, especially when much of it is spent traveling (Vestal, Syracuse, etc.) or I’m somehow otherwise occupied.
I think it’ll all somewhat improve when the living situation is settled. I’m looking forward to this summer, although it will be the first time in five years that I’ll not be spending it in Vienna.

Where is the News on the Evening News?

Ever since my family moved to the United States in the late 1980s, we have been loyal viewers of the CBS Evening News. This tradition was unanimously ended two weeks ago, when we simply could not stand the decreasing amount of actual news in the broadcast any longer.
The CBS Evening News generally features a little over ten minutes of news, followed by commercials, an investigative report, more commercials, and finally a “heart warming” segment or some kind of other story.
I wanted to find out if this was the format of choice for all three major 6:30pm newscasts, so I did a little study. I also observed one broadcast of the BBC America News at 6pm. I began with CBS, which I observed on Wednesday, February 28:
CBS Evening News on February 28:

  • Market drop/economy (3 minutes)

  • “Beyond Wall Street,” a personal story about a dentist who has some money invested (5 minutes, 20 seconds)
  • Upcoming Iraqi Neighbors Meeting (50 seconds)

Then came a segment entitled “Matters of the Heart” about babies with heart defects and the recent successful heart surgery of a fetus.
There was a 25-second mention of John McCain’s announcement that he’s running for president, followed by a story about illegal immigration from the view of a farmer who lives on the U.S./Mexico border. Finally, there was a segment about the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
BBC America World News on February 28 (6pm):

  • Airbus to cut 10,000 jobs over the next four years (2 minutes, 30 seconds)

  • Market drop/economy (3 minutes)
  • Israeli military, Jordan/Iraq Referendum, North Korea talks (1 minute total)
  • Italian politics (2 minutes, 30 seconds)
  • Stolen Picasso painting in France (2 minutes)
  • Repeat of headlines (15 seconds)
  • South Africa’s Elephant problem (2 minutes 15 seconds)
  • Scientists attempting to recreate the Big Bang at a Geneva laboratory (3 minutes)
  • Controversy over Israel’s Eurovision entry, “Push the Button” (2 minutes)
  • Early bird migration (1 minute, 30 seconds)

NBC Nightly News on March 2:

  • Walter Reed Medical Center Scandal/Francis Harvey resignation (3 minutes)

  • Tornados in the Southeastern United States (4 minutes, 20 seconds)
  • Bus accident in Atlanta (2 minutes, 30 seconds)
  • Markets (30 seconds)

There was then an “In Depth” segment on medical teams in Iraq, a report on cough medicines for children under the age of five, and a segment entitled “Making a Difference” on Project Cuddle
ABC World News on March 2:

  • Tornados in the Southeastern United States (7 minutes, 10 seconds)

  • Other storms from the same weather system (20 seconds)
  • Atlanta bus accident (2 minutes, 30 seconds)
  • Walter Reed Medical Center Scandal/Francis Harvey resignation (2 minutes, 30 seconds)
  • Conservative Political Action Conference (20 seconds)
  • Markets (15 seconds)
    Just like on NBC, there was a report on cough medicines for children. Subsequently there was a 20-second mention of today being the birthday of Dr. Seuss, followed by a “Person of the Week” segment.
    Conclusion: I found that all three major American evening newscasts have a similar format. They begin with a little over ten minutes of “top stories,” covered rather thoroughly, before switching to an even more in-depth segment about a recent report (such as the one on cough medicines for children) or an ongoing issue (such as illegal immigration). Finally, there’s a lighter segment on a person or organization.
    This is drastically different for the news from BBC America, which “covers more stories with less story.” Also drastically different is where the stories come from. Despite calling itself ABC World News, there was not one piece of international news in the broadcast I watched.
    I wonder if the increasing emphasis on reports rather than simply news is a result of the effects of the internet. It could be, that since we are exposed to news headlines all day in nowadays, that the networks feel that they have to provide something different. Further possible evidence for this is the switch of Headline News from their famous “Headline News Wheel” all day to including news shows such as Glen Beck and Nancy Grace.
    I have also found that the three major networks will generally only feature international news if it directly affects the United States. A statement by the President of Iran on that country’s nuclear ambitions might get a mention. Elections in Senegal almost certainly will not.

Will This Blog Make it to 2090?

My weblog turns seven years old this year, and it all started with a scam email I received back in December 2000. More on that below, but first this:
A 107 year-old woman in Australia now has a blog. She has someone type it for her, but it is amazing nonetheless. Despite being 107, she goes swimming and drinks shandy (a beer/lemonade mix, or what in Austria [sic] is called Radler). Check it out: The Life of Riley.
I maintained something similar to a blog on my website from 1998 until 2000. When my account at Tripod disappeared in 2000, I lost all of those entries.
Xanga, now one of the most successful blogging sites, publicly launched in November 2000, and allegedly (and I believe it) launched a persona called Bianca Broussard. Bianca was supposedly a school teacher, and her blog featured daily stories about the “kids in her class.” What Bianca really was (again, unproven, but it speaks for itself), was a spam machine that sent out thousands of emails to members of Angelfire, Tripod, and GeoCites, free website hosts, the last of which I was a member of. The only variable of the emails was the name in the subject and salutation, which was simply the username on the host of the addressee. On December 29, 2000, I received the following email:

Subject: Hey “new_kai,” comment on your site: GeoCities/new_kai
Hi “new_kai” I was surfing GeoCities and checked out your site at GeoCities/new_kai. I have a good friend with a really similar site, and I passed your url along to her. Have you ever seen a weblog? I was noticing your writing style, and I think the weblog format might really work well for you. I just started one recently on my site, and I am actually thinking of dumping my homepage in favor of just having the weblog, since I’m enjoying it so much more than maintaining my homesite. Anyway, I really just wanted to say thanks for an interesting site! Bianca Visit me!
http://www.biancabroussard.com/home.asp

I started my weblog that evening, with the following post:

First Post Ever
Hey, this is pretty neat! First off, Bianca Broussard encouraged me to start one of these web log things after visiting my site. I like this. It is like easy to update. It is like a diary/journal type of thing. So, today I started this. I’ll see where it will go from here…

I kept it up, and the rest is history. It’s kind of funny that something good can come from spam emails. In 2003 I abandoned Xanga and manually began importing those entries into a new weblog based on my site. I never finished that, and to this day there are posts still missing… They’re safe though, and I’ll get to them one day.
It’s kind of strange that I went through the history of my weblog again… It must be already mentioned several times on my site. But this 107 year-old woman blogging got me to thinking what the future holds for my generation.
Before Facebook exploded over the last two years, I wasn’t in touch with most of the people I considered friends. Now I can more or less monitor their lives 24/7. Where is this going to lead? Is the situation going to be the same or perhaps even more insane in the future? Will I be 65 and on Facebook or a successor sites still monitoring my high school friends? If so, this represents an insane change from my parents’ generation, or even from those people only a couple years older than me, who have lost track of all but a handful or less of their friends from “back in the day.”
If I’m still around, I’ll be turning 107 in 2090… And I don’t even want to imagine what the world will be like then. Whatever it’ll be like though, I’ll hopefully still be documenting it from my point of view on some kind of electric communication network. And I’ll probably still find out if you are “no longer listed as in a relationship.”

Valentine’s Day Storm Video: The Weather Channel in Syracuse




Here’s a compilation I created of the Weather Channel‘s Jim Cantore reporting from Syracuse during the Valentine’s Day Storm of 2007. It really shows Syracuse knows how to handle snow. It’s also the first time I created a flash movie for my website. Enjoy!

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Click the button button above to play full screen. If you don’t see such a button, you need Flash 9.

I Will Not Allow Facebook to Kill My Website

Facebook is great and all… It allows me keep in touch with people on a daily basis. But what’s the cost of this all-in-one internet portal? Creativity. I’m not talking about not sending a birthday or holiday card to your friend because a “wall post” will do, I’m talking about how Facebook is killing off personal websites.
First there were the photo albums, then notes, then shares. Now virtually all your internet activities can be done via Facebook. And it has taken its toll.
On a personal level, there are sites of mine such as AIS2002.COM, which has 1715 replies to 139 Topics. All but maybe 100 of those posts were posted before 2006, when Facebook began to seriously take over people’s internet activities.
Facebook’s group technology has serious flaws however. Most groups are only highly visited when new, causing thousands to be created daily, often on the exact same premise as countless others. Individual discussion topics can’t be “shared,” only entire groups can. And customization of the groups is largely restricted to “sponsored groups.”
Facebook has an import option for notes that allows you to continue writing things on your blog and have them appear as imported notes on Facebook. That’s kind of the best of both worlds.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this, other than that I’m going to bring the personal website back! And I’m ironically doing that by starting a Facebook group

Lost in Translation Series: Translation Fun at the Buffet

My previous translation postings, all involving German to English mistranslations, were quite amusing. However, those examples simply cannot compare to the Chinese to English translation I’m presenting you today. Have a look:
Funny Chopstick Package
You can click on the image to enlarge it, but the text reads:

Welcome to Chinese Restaurant.
please try your Nice Chinese Food With Chopsticks
the traditional and typical of Chinese glorious history.
and cultural

Let’s sum up what’s wrong here:

  • The lack of an indefinite article (a) before “Chinese Restaurant.”

  • The second sentence starts with a lowercase ‘p’, but for some reason “Nice”, “Food”, “With”, and “Chopsticks” are capitalized. There should also be a comma before the second half of the sentence.
  • The third line never mentions what the adjectives “traditional” and “typical” are describing! My guess is that “utensil” is the missing word here!
  • The random “and cultural” in the fourth line, all by itself!

The word “glorious” and the random “and cultural” line are in a different font, which might indicate corrections were attempted to be made!
These chopsticks are generic, and thus can probably found at a Chinese restaurant near you! This package was discovered at the Chinese/Japanese Buffet on Erie Boulevard in DeWitt, a suburb of Syracuse.
But then there was also the fortune in the fortune cookie:
Fortune in a Fortune Cookie

Do Not Exceed 48 Tablets in 24 Hours

Bayer Low Dose AspirinThis is off a label of Bayer Low Dose “Baby” Aspirin. There’s nothing wrong with this label, as each tablet only has 81mg of aspirin, perfect for people who just want to take an aspirin daily to prevent artery clogging or whatever other positive effects aspirin has.
The funny part is that you can safely take 48 of these daily! You have to imagine someone who has real pain and/or fever and who doesn’t have regular full-strength aspirin around. Also, imagine someone overdosing with this dose. The maximum daily dose isn’t even in one of these containers, as they only hold 36!