Archive for September, 2009

For Everything We Gain, We Lose Something

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

So my division has moved up to the 43rd floor, and the views are amazing. But my new cubicle is half the size of my old one. Contractors are assigned smaller cubes because the assumption is they work part-time, but I’m a full-time contractor, so we’ve put in a request to move me to a larger space. There’s an empty one right across from me. I’m thinking of moving in and seeing if anybody cares.

I’m also excited to have a new computer whose processing speed doesn’t make we want to drill rusty nails through my eyelids, even if it is a smaller laptop. I can now run Photoshop, Excel, Firefox and Lotus Notes at the same time without generating memory leaks or “virtual memory is too low” messages. I’m glad I saw the slow demise coming; it took almost two months to get the new computer delivered.

Tall Manhattan Buildings That Aren’t Offices, Or Why I’m a Complete Idiot

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

After working at American Express for almost a year now, I’ve discovered something about our view to the north. When we look out the window, we see what looks like a large brick deco building with two antennae on top. What we are actually seeing is a brick deco building with a near-identical yet larger brick deco building directly behind it with two antennae.

I discovered this on Saturday when I attended a rooftop gathering in Tribeca. Here is the view of the same building from the back. Note my office in the back on the right, and the lack of antennae. The building we see is 60 Hudson St. The building behind it is 32 Avenue of the Americas.

Looking at google maps, I see that the signtline from our office to both buildings is a completely straight line.

This drove me nuts for quite some time. I could never be sure if I was looking at 60 Hudson or 32 Avenue of the Americas. Turns out, it was both.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! The fun part is the 60 Hudson is the old Western Union building, but has been converted into a carrier hotel, meaning that it primarily houses telecommunications hardware – fiber optic lines, switches, servers, etc. There’s very little office space in there. In a similar fashion, 33 Thomas Street is a massive telephone exchange building. I had often wondered what the story was with this scary, monolithic, windowless building. Who would want to work in there? Well, very few people do. In fact, tHere is the view of the same building from the back. Note my office in the back on the right, and the lack of antennae. The building we see is 60 Hudson St. The building behind it is 32 Avenue of the Americas.

Looking at google maps, I see that the signtline from our office to both buildings is a completely straight line.

This drove me nuts for quite some time. I could never be sure if I was looking at 60 Hudson or 32 Avenue of the Americas. Turns out, it was both.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! The fun part is the 60 Hudson is the old Western Union building, but has been converted into a carrier hotel, meaning that it primarily houses telecommunications hardware – fiber optic lines, switches, servers, etc. There’s very little office space in there. In a similar fashion, 33 Thomas Street is a massive telephone exchange building. I had often wondered what the story was with this scary, monolithic, windowless building. Who would want to work in there? Well, very few people do. In fact, the top section is mostly empty space for ventilation.

A similar purpose is served by Verizon’s 374 Pearl St. So that’s a total of four buildings in lower Manhattan that serve mainly as technology and telecommunications hubs. 60 Hudson, in fact, has so much diesel fuel in it for the emergency generators that it’s making the now-residential Tribeca neighbors very nervous, post 9/11.

In other news, that gathering I mentioned was a book launch and charity fundraiser for XKCD.com‘s new comic strip compilation. I had never seen a picture of cartoonist

UK Trip 2009

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

I’ve lived in New York for a year and a half now and still haven’t really taken advantage of the fact that I live near three major airports. I’ve had to play catch-up on finances, so I haven’t really been able to afford much in the way of vacationing. But that finally changed, sort of, and since it’s been more than 5 years since I was last in the UK, I figured that needed addressing. So I booked a flight with little to no planning beyond the purchase of tickets.

In addition to the many important lessons learned on my last voyage, this trip gave me still more opportunity for informative error. The first was booking a flight out of Newark at 8:00 a.m. I had debated taking the subway to Penn to Newark Liberty, but rail travel so early in the day is fraught with unknowns. So I took a car service. This was fortuitous because, while I had dutifully set my phone’s alarm for 4 a.m., I had neglected to remember that my alarm is set only to go off on weekdays. My wake-up call was the car service at 5 a.m. Fortunately for me, in the wisdom that only comes as one drifts off into sleep, I had decided I should take a shower in the evening rather than the morning. I was up and out the door in five minutes.

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My Cousin the Soccer Hooligan

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I could have sworn I posted this back in July, but apparently not…

My cousin David has been quoted in a few prominent media outlets recently, namely, the New York Times and Yahoo Sports. He’s a rabid fan of the LA Galaxy soccer club, and is a regular fixture with the team’s superfans, The Riot Squad, in the southeast corner of the stadium at every game. I always kind of figured David would be famous some day, but I never in a million years thought it would be for dissing the name amongst names, David Beckham.

The David-on-David action began when cousin David and another member of the squad got into a heated exchange with Beckham after last Sunday’s game. The die hard, bleed-Galaxy-blue fans were severely miffed that Beckham has recently been on loan to an Italian team, and that Beckham may be giving up his job with the Galaxy. Foul words were exchanged. Cousin David’s associate on the squad was arrested for jumping onto the field.

You might think this would reflect poorly on my cousin, but in his defense, soccer has a unique tradition of drunken, abusive buffoonery from the crowd. Soccer hooliganism has a rich and colorful history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_hooliganism

In a way, he’s excelling at that particular position. Just as hockey has made fights an essential part of the action, so soccer has made hooliganism an integral part of the game, taking what should by all rights be the most boring spectator sport in the world[1], and making it into something altogether more participatory.

It’s not like he did it at a baseball, basketball or football game. That’s where it would be wholly inappropriate.

1.) And most likely is, short of golf.