Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Building Update: 4/30/08

A few more floors are gone. You can now see the roof of the building next door. Check out the shadow of the Empire State Building going towards the West.

Original post is here, to show you the difference.

A Milestone Reached

Today, April 30th, 2008, we have reached a milestone. Lilah has discovered her nostrils and has commenced the art of "picking her nose." It's a gross habit that ALL kids do, but I've never thought that there was a first time. But there is. For Lilah, it's today. Gross.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Starbucks Logo

Have you seen the new Starbucks seal on around recently? They are promoting the new Pike's Place blend. Trying to get back to a real coffee company, they've used the original mermaid from when they first opened.

I don't like it. Looks like something out of Clash of the Titans. But if you see the progression from the original to the current, it makes sense. Click here for a much better view of all the logos. I can't get the formatting right ahere and can't be bothered to fix it.

Still, consumers never see this gradual shift. I found the "original" mermaid to be uglay and jarring. It sure as hell didn't say coffee to me.If Starbucks really wants to be a real coffee company, then stop futzing with movies and make me the Cookies & Cream Frappcino I've been wanting for years! That flavor is mine, I have dibs.

The Walls Come Tumbling

Here's the view from desk at work. It looks northward over 34th Street. They're tearing a building down, presumably to merge with the empty lot next to it and make way for a new, large hihi-rise. Hopefully they'll put a Guitar Center there, or a Barnes & Noble. I'd love a Whole Foods, but it's likely. Anne Taylor? Does anybody shop there anymore?

Anyway, they're tearing this building down a floor at a time. You can't demolish it and you can't use a crane. They've been working on it for months, always pulling walls down and un-welding steel. (Note: un-welding is not a real word) It's just gotten to the point you can start to see a difference.

So this is what it looked like on 4/24/08. I'll try and post more pix to show you how its progressing. Know what would have been great? If I had taken a picture a few weeks ago and we could see what it first looked like. Yeah, that would have been great. My ideas are so awesome, even I can't keep up.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Walking Buddies

Harley's working evenings recently. And it's been so nice out, that as soon as I get home I take Lilah out for an evening walk. It's nice to be together, and it tires her out to make betime easier. A few observations:

- For the first 10 minutes, she's very good and holds my hand while we walk. After that, it's time to run, and Daddy better keep up.
- "Please pick me up. OK, I want to get down. Put me right now! OK, pick me up. Now put me down." The kid is almost as indecisive as her father.
- Dogs are very exciting. We love to point at them and say hi. But don't get too close, or Lilah will need to go behind the protective shield of Daddy's leg
- Lilah insists that we literally stop and smell the roses, or any other flower we see.
- Calling the seat in the shopping cart the "big girl seat" was genius. Pure, f*cking genius.
- When you give her something to hold in the supermarket, make sure it's not a $4 pear that she'll drop just after you pay for it.
- Lemons are pretty but get boring after you taste them.
- Letting a child walk around in Duane Reade is NOT a good idea.
- The microwave has become my most utilized cooking tool.
- An hour walk is more than enough for me, but Lilah is never happy to get home. The era of temper tantrums has begun.

Reading Again

My school reading has stopped for the semester. I have a huge paper due 5/6 and very little time to actually work on it. I have 1 more class left and will not do the reading (just like the last 2 week). Since I won't be graded on it and am sweating the paper severely, I feel more than justified in this decision.

I've started on my list of "books I will read when I get the chance." This list is forever changing, but I've started with John, by Cynthia Lennon. I wouldn't usually read this, since who cares about John's ex-wife? But I saw it at the supermarket and bought it with some stuff for work, so I knew I'd get reimbursed.

The books starts about Cynthia, and her family. It was boring at first (I mean, who really cares about John's ex-wife??), but I was hooked after the first 3 pages. It's a rare look at the world the Beatles came from. It shows post-war England and Liverpool, with rationing and mandatory state service, and the lack of opportunity for the working class youth.

I just got to the part where John and Cynthia got together. He was a hooligan and was told to sit behind her in drawing class. He always borrowed pencils and brushes from her, and the 2 were an unlikely pair. She said he didn't seem afraid of anyone, which to me seems immensely cool. He also had a terrible temper, breaking into a yelling tantrum when he wasn't happy. He made her choose him over everything else (including school and her own family).

The most moving excerpt so far (I'm on page 12) was in the into by Julian Lennon. He said he always wanted to be a part of his father's life but was always cut out. When he did see his dad, he felt rejected and intimidated. "Intimidated" seems like such a terrible way to make your kid feel.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on that... or not. Next on my list is Stephen Colbert's "I Am America (And So Can You." After that, I want a DVD to teach me gypsy jazz guitar so I can play more like Django Reinhardt, my 2nd favorite guitar player ever.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Presidential Fonts

Interesting article about John McCain's campaign typeface. It's Optima, which is the same font used on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. The article has some design 'experts' giving their perspectives on his choice, what it means and what is says.

For the uninitiated, typography is a huge deal in the design world. Fonts are revered, reviled, debated, and respected as the purest type of design. Each letterform has meaning and an indescribable essence. Anyone who has designed their wedding invitation knows what I mean.

Check out this website for a quick sampling of amazing styles. This is one of my favorites, guess the movie series:

Friday, April 18, 2008

How Things Have Changed

Jen Simon brought in a walkman so we could listen to old demos of Counting Crows. Apparently, she used to date Adam Duritz way back in the day and too cool to be my friend now.

Anyway, she hands me a walkman. It was a strange feeling to hold on of the again. It was big, clunky, had a lot of buttons and special features. The funniest thing was that I had no idea how to use it. It had arrows instead of REW or FWD, and the auto-flip option (so you don't have to change to take the cassette out to go to the next side) made it impossible to know which way to go. After all these years, technology has gotten to the point where I can't even work a walkman any more. Awesome.

By the way, I listened to the demo of Mr. Jones, which was just Duritz and his guitar alone in a room. It was awful. You couldn't hear his voice. The guitar was different than the final version, monotonous and dull. He didn't articulate the words and overplayed the emotional aspect. Makes you realize what a good producer can do.

The demo for 'Round Here, on the other hand, was great. Much more rock-oriented, though a little too 80's reverb-sounding for me. Amazing how he actually "made it" in the business.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Fighting Jews

Somewhere between The Deadliest Catch marathon this weekend, I saw a little bit of a History Channel show called Battles of the Bible, or something. (note: historical battle reenactment = awesome)

The basic theory of the show was that the Jews were never slaves in Egypt, but a warrior class that was subjugated into physical labor after becoming too powerful. The Jews originally left Canaan after famine forced them to find new grazing grounds. For hundreds of years in Egypt, they were mercenaries. I imagined them like the Samurai, fighting for a dollar but holding a certain level of esteem in society.

They settled in the area between modern day Cairo and the Sinai, a strategic position in the land bridge between Africa and the Middle East. Their status and geographic location gave them strength, which the Pharaohs feared. They eventually were put to labor to mitigate their military might, though they may not have been as mistreated as we were taught to think.

When the Jews were freed by a "general" named Moses, they left for the dessert. But before they left Egypt, they sacked a town to gather all the provisions they would need in the wild. (It says the Jews boldly left in arms.) That's right, the Jews robbed and plundered before they left Egypt! That's why the Pharaoh came after them. Moses, familiar with the terrain, planned their escape to take advantage of the tides in the Sea of Reeds, as it was known.

For 40 years, Moses then trained the Jews into a disciplined and powerful army. When he died, Joshua took over as general for the return to Canaan. Of course, the people living in Canaan did NOT want the Jews coming back to take the land that was "promised to them by God." It was a war to get back to the Holy Land; makes 40 years wandering in the dessert a little more understanding.

Joshua led a campaign of extermination against the Canaanites, starting in a city called Jericho. The Jews killed everyone that opposed them, destroying 31 city-states all together. I would guess that some of those cities submitted to Jewish rule. Joshua died of old age before then, when Gideon took over as lead of the Jews. Then Lilah woke up and it was time to go.

The show treated the Bible as a military document. I take it with a grain of salt, but it was an amazing new perspective on the "greatest story ever told."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Supermarket of the Future

This is coooool...

check out the rounded fixtures to make changing aisles less likely to cause a crash.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The View From the 17th Floor

You never get used to the window washers...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Our Trip to Barnes & Noble

I found a book with maps from history and was very brave not to buy it. Lilah loved the kids section. Ran around all over but paying close attention to the Dora section. We're very happy that Lilah gets excited by books like we do.

Daddy's dream section, and it's on sale!

I can't wait to redecorate the bedroom. Really, honest.

Get 'em started early.
Sorry kiddo, I suffered through Hebrew school and so will you.

The best book title I've seen in a long time, naturally from Vonnegut.

Lilah, it's time to make a decision. Who do you want to get your binky at 3am?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My Saturday Afternoon Walk

This is looking south from an outcrop on East 81st Street.

The water was moving fast but in pockets going at different speeds. There was a sharp cut between the sounds of traffic on the right and the wind and water on the left.

NOTE - check out the helicopter at the top left.

Washington Square Park

They're rennovating the fountain in Washington Square Park. This picture was taken at 6pm on a Tuesday from the 6th floor of the Bobst Libray. It was a beautiful Spring Day, the first where I didn't need my jacket. I sat on the park bench and played on my BB. I saw loads of other people, kids really, all doing the same.

It's sad that it's not there to enjoy now. It will be back doon and hopefully better. I love that park, and I love that library.

The BlackBerry

I've decided that I love my BlackBerry (BB). I figured out how to turn off the alarm everytime an email comes in. Now, I feel completely connected to the world. I have all my email addressed connected to the device can get online at anytime.

Marshall McLuhan is one of my favorite media writes. You might remember his quick cameo in Annie Hall (Brian, you know this). He believes that media allows us to touch one another through long distances. When you talk to some one n the phone, or watch some one on the news, you "touch" that person. It's a bit far fetched, but the idea is that all us humans are tactile creates. Different methods of communication provide for different levels of connectivity.

McLuhan says that television is a "hot" medium, because it actively engages you with other people. Writing, on the other hand, is "cool" because it is more passive, more distanced from people, less tactile. Email, if it can be considered a separate medium (I don't think it can), it is a mix between cool (they are read) and hot (an instant message, no pun intended, to put you in directed contact with another person). When it's spam or non-personal, it's cool. When it's person to person in a persona manner, it is one of the hottest mediums around.

With my BB, I have my entire social network available to me in almost every way: text, email, voice, and image. I feel always-connected. While that was intimidating I first, and I was fearful of feeling tied to work constantly, never being able to turn of. While that may happen, I feel a strange sense of freedom, of having the choice to enter the network at my leisure. I can answer emails on the subway. I can send pix to Harley (who's iPhone is similar) when I need to show her something. I am freed from the computer to communicate electronically.

TiVo changed my life; it put television on my schedule. BB (like other handheld mobile devises); it puts the Internet on my time. And instead of feeling more disaconnect from actual human interaction, I feel more so. I still feel antisocial in many ways, but that's a whole other blog...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

One More Thing

When the balls hits the platform in Arkanoid, you can control the angle the ball takes by where it hits the platform. If it's on the very edge of the left, it will go more sharply and horizontally to the left. Same for the right side. If it hits more towards the center, it will go more vertical.

Knowing this can help you plan out how to position the ball where you want it to go. For those pesky single blocks left at the end of the board, you may need to plan 2-3 steps in advance to get the ball where you want it.

First Impressions From BlackBerry

I got a new BlackBerry this weekend. Read the best new blog in America, Don't Be So Dramatical, for the full story.

In this posting, my wife wonders why I wanted the BB instead of the iPhone. To me, anything better than the Razr was a step up, so I was happy with anything. Plus, I wanted something that I could justify in a professional capacity. The BB is the best mobile device for email, so it made sense to me. But after having the device for 5 days, there's an even better reason the BB is awesome:


You can call it Breakout, Brick Buster, whatever... it's all Arkanoid to me. I f*&king LOVE that game. And now, I can play it whenever I want. I can, and do, play it at work and look like I'm doing something work-related. I do it on the subway. I do it on the crapper. I do it before I got to sleep and when I'm procrastinating on my paper. I realize that all those people on the subway on their BBs are also playing Arkanoid. I sat next to a guy playing on the same model and we shared a nod.

But I also found that I'm no fan of getting work email 24/7. There's no separation, and I'm not the kind of guy that can see the "unread message" and not look. Maybe I'll learn to do that, but I may just stop having work email forwarded unless I'm travelling.

So was the BB worth getting?? One word: YES. One reason: Arkanoid.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Class Options for the Fall

I'm thinking either one of these:
1. Topics in Digital Media (E58.2130, R, 4:55pm)
2. Languages of Communication: Cave Painting to Print (E58.2190, W, 4:55pm)

I really want to take a class on the Internet. It is a huge part of the media landscape, and I should have some knowledge of this. BUT, I've wanted to take Languages of Comm since I started this program. It's more of a history lesson (and therefore less applicable to my professional life) but seems really cool.

Please let me know your thoughts. Click here for sample syllabi. Remember, I'll be happy with either class.

The Best New Blog In America!!

Don't Be So Dramatical

I'm sure you will enjoy reading it as much as I do! I would expect there will be a lot of insider TV news and celebrity gossip, as the writer is very up-to-date on the blogosphere. I'm sure there wil be articles on style, decor and child-rearing. But mostly, I hope she talks about how amazing her husband is.

Shop Or Die

Cool article, if you have the time...