Friday, July 13, 2007

I'll Miss.....


Cleo (L) and Figaro (R)



--I'll miss the wimpy meows

--I'll miss the goofy antics

--I'll miss your strange friendship with the dog

--I'll miss your love for your sister Cleo

--I'll miss the way you would never let your mother read

--I'll miss watching you trying to "help" her work

--I'll miss you Figaro..... Rest in peace my friend

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The End Is Near


I have been reluctant to write more about the situation at work. There was too much speculation and misinformation I feel to be accurate. Now, however it seems like everything is spelled out for me. Henry Schein came in to every Becker-Parkin office on Thursday afternoon and changed the locks. They informed the employees at the location I was in that they would probably not be needed after inventory which would run until Saturday or Sunday depending on the location. They also stated that a package would be delivered to each employee with information regarding their last date of work (some were retained longer than the weekend) and severance package.

I was in our San Leandro, CA office for this. BP corporate needed a representative in each location to supervise the inventory and make sure that things were fair. It was rough seeing the three remaining people there find out that they were done. They all knew that they were going to have to leave already, but they had been told originally that they would still have a couple more weeks. I guess I should be flattered that Barry, Marty, Sergey, and the other executives feel highly enough of me to send me to do this. Part of the deal included a trip to southern California to visit the parents, which is where I am writing this from. I head home Wednesday, and will be in the office Thursday to help them with the last remaining tasks of shutting down.

I stated in an earlier post that I was doing well with my job prospects. Well, I accepted a position at AOL in Manhattan. Those that know me will laugh about this, but if you could have been with me on the interview I think you would have understood why I took the job. It seems like an amazing place to work. I feel that there is a good future in my new job, and I know I will enjoy working at 75 Rock.

I hope that all of my friends find something as good as I have. I will also constantly be on the look for jobs for those that haven't. I have more to say about the Schein-BP transaction, but I will wait until it is COMPLETELY over for that. In the mean time, please watch this space for news, and things that I find amusing. Everyone take care, and keep in touch!

Baristish? Starbian?

I am out in California visiting the folks. Last time here I remember finishing the can of regular coffee that lurked in the dark corners of their freezer. You see, they have officially banned caffeine from the premises. So, like most caffeine addicts, I can't ignore my vice, and have to track down some brew to quiet the java monkey on my back. I purchased this can of coffee four visits ago, and stashed it in cryogenic storage, knowing that I would be back.

This time though, it was gone. The folks have sold the house, and are moving to a semi-assisted living apartment, so it didn't make sense to buy more. After arriving on Saturday night sans cell phone, I ventured out early Sunday to track down a replacement. Coffee! Where to get my coffee. I rarely drink hot coffee after June 1st, so I ran to the McDonalds near the Sprint store I had been doing business in. I discovered however, that McDonalds in California doesn't have iced coffee. Bummer! Theirs is actually pretty good. OK. Starbucks it is.

Now, I'll start this by saying that I just don't like Starbucks coffee all that much. I know all of the hype is overwhelming, but personally I just find it to taste burned. That classic char-broiled coffee flavor seems to lend itself better to a cold drink though, so I sometimes get iced coffee there. You see though, the problem is: I JUST DON'T GET IT! What is IT you ask? The whole damned Barista-speak thing.

I looked at the menu and saw "Iced Brewed Vanilla Coffee". I asked for a Venti (medium for you non-believers) Iced Vanilla Coffee. I then asked if they had something other than sugar to put in it. "We have syrups... vanilla, almond, amaretto.." "No," I said. "Something sugar free". Oh, we have a sugar free vanilla syrup." "That would be fine, and some cream too." She looked at me and said "OK sir, but the next time you order it you can call it a %$%^&^*$#%&^*&^" I say %$%^&^*$#%&^*&^ because I don't get IT. It seems to be some odd language that I just can't comprehend. I guess I'm missing some crucial gene that allows me to understand Barista-speak. It must be the same gene that tells me that their hot coffee tastes like it cooked on hibachi coals for half an hour. What ever happened to just ordering a damned coffee?

Now, I have to at least explain one more thing. Many people will read a rant like the one above and assume that I am not a connoisseur. You see, that is far from the truth. I love the coffee in the small roaster-shops like J B Peel, Monkey Joe, and Porto Rico Importing. I will go into such a place, sample a brew, and ask for a recommendation on what to buy, based on what I thought of the sample. I brew using a Melitta manual #4 drip cone, using fresh water, or with a Toddy cold water coffee system. Far from the no-name coffee brewed in the scale-encrusted auto drip like I used to.

So hear me one and all, you followers of the church of Starbian. I don't get IT, and NEVER will. No, I don't want a pamphlet explaining your beliefs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Two, and Counting...

So far, I have interviewed with two companies. Business officially stops here this Thursday, and then it's all about dismantling everything. My letter stated September 1st, but I can't see that there will be enough to keep us busy until then. We are already very slow here. Today's interview was great. A large Internet firm located at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. Great location, great people, great perks. The first job involves a lot of traveling, but has more growth potential I think. I won't reveal the players until I make my decision, but you can continue to keep your virtual fingers crossed. In the meantime, I'm off to Oakland for a branch office inventory, and then a few days with the parents in Carlsbad. Stay tuned....

Monday, June 25, 2007

I Think I'll Order My Food This Way From Now On....


I'll have a double with everything except cheese, but why don't you give it to me with cheese and nothing else. And, a five-piece chicken nuggets with barbecue sauce, but you can throw whatever sauce you like in there. Also, a small frosty which is impossible to drink with a straw, but what the hell... give me a straw and no spoon anyway, and while you're at it, make sure there's one nugget missing.

You see, this way I won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Becker-Sharby ?

Well, here comes the next chapter of my life. It was announced Monday that the company I work for, Becker-Parkin, is being acquired by two different companies, Darby, and Schein. I had suspected this was coming, and also suspected that I would not be going along for the ride. Both new companies already have IT departments.

The good news is that I seem to be much more marketable than I originally thought. My early attempts at job searching have been optimistic. Now I just have to try to keep my sanity while panicking managers do all sorts of wacky things and I try to find a smooth way to transition our web business to the new companies.

Tomorrow is my first interview. Cross your virtual fingers!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Voicing an Opinion..... And Someone Listened... Hillary?


I have been getting emails from some of the net radio sources I listen to about the issues with the tariffs being imposed on internet radio. These tariffs will kill most internet radio stations if we cannot convince our representatives to do something about it. If you want more information, I recommend you check out SaveNetRadio.org I decided to write to my representatives about this. Senators Chuck Schumer, and Hillary Clinton, and Representative Maurice Hinchey. Hillary is the only one that wrote back, and I must say, the response seemed to be personal. Not "canned". She has earned a whole new level of respect from me. I am posting the correspondence below.

Here is the letter I sent to Hillary:

Senator Clinton,

I have recently read that the US Copyright Office has released their new set of rates for the payment of royalties by Internet Radio. These rates are so high that they will put many independent web casters out of business. The music industry continues to blame the decline in purchase of retail music formats on file sharing and pirating of online music. They need to take a look at their own practices before they attack a medium that is not used for music pirating by most people. The music industry told us more than 20 years ago that when CD's became more popular than vinyl and cassettes that the cost of our music would go down, because CD's were less expensive to produce than either current format. Within 2 years of the disappearance of cassettes and vinyl, CD's cost more than twice what vinyl once did. The music industry's own greediness has driven consumers to other sources for their music. One of these is live internet radio. Listeners to live internet radio are no different than the listeners to FM radio 20 years ago. Why do we insist on punishing this new and developing format? The music industry believes that streaming internet radio can be recorded at a quality level equivalent to CD's. It cannot! It is roughly equivalent to FM radio, or not as good in many cases. We alll had the ability to record from FM radio years ago. With a high quality cassette recorder i was able to make near-CD quality recordings of FM broadcasts 20 years ago. This method of delivering music is in its infancy, and the best solution for those of us that listen at work, or in the home as an alternative to FM. Let's not kill a new technology before it has a chance to grow. Please stop the unfair excessive royalty payments being charged to internet radio and help force the music industry to admit their mistakes in turning their back on digital music until it was too late for them to compete in an honorable way. Thank you.





Here is her response:




Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the proposed new royalty rates for online radio. I always enjoy hearing from New Yorkers about challenging public policy issues that are important to them, and I particularly appreciate your concerns regarding the future of I nternet radio. As you may know, I am a strong supporter of maintaining an open Internet that fosters innovation. No other communications medium in recent history has had such a profound impact on the expression of speech, education, the dissemination of information and the exchange of ideas.



Online radio is a great example of how the Internet has helped to cultivate innovation and offered consumers access to new an d personalized information. However, the great technological and commercial progress that has come with the ongoing development of the Internet has also brought with it numerous new public policy dilemmas, such as how to balance copyright protection for music and other property with the innovation that the Internet continues to cultivate.



As you know, in March 2007 the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) proposed a new online radio royalty structure, which would amend the system that has been in place since 2002 and establish a new scale for royalties charged to I nternet radio companies on a per-song, per-listener basis. The proposed rates will begin at 0.08 cents per song per listener, retroactive to January 1, 2006 , and will reach 0.19 cents per song per listener in 2010. The CRB has since announced that it will hear appeals of its previous ruling. Your concerns about this matter are significant and I hope that this period for appeal will enable the CRB to carefully consider points of view like yours.


Thank you again for sharing your concerns regarding these important I nternet radio issues with me. Please be assured that I will continue to follow this issue closely and that I will

keep your views in mind in the future if related measures come before the Senate. For more informa tion on my support for an open I nternet and other important issues before the United States Senate, please visit my website at http://clinton.senate.gov .



Sincerely,

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton


I then sent another one back, as it looks like we are losing the battle:

Senator Clinton,

With 19 days to go now, it is looking pretty bad for Internet radio. Is there someway to make these people listen? My biggest concern at this point is: What's next? Is this how corporate America is going to fight innovation and diversity in the future? By making sure that emerging technologies that threaten their happy little world get taxed into oblivion?

I think that the large media conglomerates need to take a very good look at their programming and the stupid decisions they make before they pop the champagne corks on this victory.

There's something SERIOUSLY wrong with an industry that squashes a voice like Don Imus, but then allows Hip Hop and Rap music, and a disturbing video made by the VT killer. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we should censor any of this, but I see it as an example of the short-sighted thinking that is leading us to squash Internet Radio.

Please Help!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Those Crazy Candy-Loving Brits!

I am a fan of candy bars, although I really can't eat them anymore, I still keep up with the varieties, and know a bit of candy bar history. Paul and I frequently stop at a supermarket on our way back to New Jersey on Sunday nights that has a British foods section in the ethnic food aisle. Anyone who has attempted to buy a Milky Way Bar in Europe knows that it is a different animal. The European Milky Way is similar to our Three Musketeers Bar. If you want something like an American Milky Way, you would have to buy a Mars Bar, which was an almond version of a Snickers, and is even called as such now. Confusing?

That said, here are a couple of examples of European candy that I think just wouldn't make it with the folks here. The chauvinistic Yorkie Bar, and Nestle's Munchies:



And, just because it fits the subject, the Mr. Big Bar... "When You're This Big, They Call You MR!"

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Random... Hand Dryers, Bacon, and BBQ



 Someone re-invented the electric, automatic hand dryer. I am starting to see these things in restrooms, and they actually dry your hands. The XLerator is so powerful that it dries your hands without the extra step shown here. 




So, I have to explain. I don't go around thinking "I think I'll research hand dryers today and post it to my blog". No. What sparked this was stumbling across this image,  which the kids and I agree is worth writing about. Especially for us bacon lovers. 





Which brings me to the next random topic today.

My boss took me to another barbecue place in Manhattan on Wednesday. So far I have tried Virgil's, Dinosaur, Dallas, and now Rub.
This place was a bit different. We ordered a giant sampler platter of everything they offer. One item on the menu was burnt ends, and I recommend trying them. Roughly one-inch sized chunks of the point end of a brisket with their seasonings. The pastrami and brisket were both excellent, as was the chicken. The ribs were average, and the sausage will be avoided next time I go. In addition to the platter we sampled two very unique items. One was an appetizer called BBQ bacon chunks. Probably one of the most unhealthy things I have ever tried, and it supports the saying that the better something tastes the worse it is for you. The other is their famous desert Deep Fried Oreos. Seemed too strange for words, so we had to try them. The best description we could come up with was that they are like a zeppole with an oreo in the middle. Enjoy! And check out the bacon dispenser in the bathroom of course.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mystery Solved


Once or twice a week, on my frequent walks around town, I end up at Jack's World. Jack's is a combination dollar store and closeout store, located on west 32nd, between 6th and 7th. Probably one of the best around. The ground floor is the dollar store and has an extensive food section. The upper two floors have anything from bedding sets, to fine chocolate, to rice cookers. Anyone I've brought there always comments on something out in the street; A massive bridge connecting the buildings on either side of 32nd street. I finally found something about it online. It is called the Gimbel's Traverse, and it connected the old Gimbel's department store to the Gimbel's annex across 32nd street. The current owners of the building had planned to demolish it in the 80's, but have not. The up-close photo here shows the great detail and copper cladding.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Green Eggs And Important

The kids and I were playing with the Google translator again. We take some text from a well known story, nursery rhyme or song, paste it into the translator, and send it on a journey through the languages. Converting from English to another language and back again. You all should be familiar with "Green Eggs And Ham".


Here is the sample text I used:

Would you like them in a house?
Would you like them with a mouse?

I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

Would you eat them in a box?
Would you eat them with a fox?

Not in a box.
Not with a fox.
Not in a house.
Not with a mouse.
I would not eat them here or there.
I would not eat them anywhere.
I would not eat green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

Here are some examples:

English-Arabic-English

Would you like them at home? Do you have any mice? I do not like them at home. I do not want to be a fugitive. I do not want here or there. I do not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and important. I do not like them Sam I /. Did you find it in a box? Did you find it Fox? Not in the framework. Not with Fox. Not in the house. Not with the mouse. Will not find them here or there. I will not find it anywhere. Will not eat green eggs and important. I do not like them Sam I /.

English-French-English-Russian-English-Portuguese-English-
German-English

You, which they are afraid in the house? You, which they are afraid with the rat? I do not taste D in the house. I do not taste D with the rat. I do not taste D here or there. I do not taste D in each possible place. I not taste of the eggs and GrĂ¼ns of the ham. I do not taste D, am. You eats it in the box? You eats it with the fox? Not into up fan genes. Not with the fox. Not in the house. Not with a rat. I would eat it not here or there. I would not eat it in any place. I do not eat eggs and the green ham. I do not taste D, am.

English-Korean-English-French-English-Chinese-English

They are men you owe it to the lower genital house? They are men you owe it to the lower genital, like rats? I do not like their home. I do not like their mouse. I still do not like this place for them. I am not happy like their premises. I do not like green eggs and ham. Sam B which I am, He does not like it. You eat things were box? You eat stuff. fox? This is not a box. It is not a fox. This is not a house. It was not rats. I told them this place or not eat. I will not eat it. I will not eat green eggs and ham. Sam B which I am, he does not like.

Hmmmmm?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Snackopedia?

I love the Wikipedia. Any information addict would. It's just funny sometimes to see entries in there that would never have existed in any kind of printed encyclopedia like we had (or like the Americanas that Dad sold) when we were kids. I found an entry for Munchos today. Yes, the potato-like salty packing material found on the rack with snack foods in every Manhattan convenience store (many called "farms", which I will attack on another day). I know that one of the great features of the Wikipedia is that you can challenge facts that you disagree with and even immortalize your own knowledge of a misreported fact. I think I might just challenge this entry. It states:

"Munchos are a Frito-Lay brand potatocrisp snack. Munchos are thinner than most potato chips, to the point of being slightly transparent. Their slightly curved shape and rough texture assist with dipping."

Dipping? Dipping! Are you kidding?!?! I don't think that you could dip a Muncho in anything with a thicker texture than water. Although I haven't actually compared the two, I think the tensile and compressive stress rating of a Pringle is higher.




Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bayonne Adventure....

Back around New Years, Amy, Alec, and I were out exploring the area. It seems that everywhere we go we run into JFK Boulevard. Amy asked, "Just how far does this road go?" We decided to find out. Well, It goes farther than I expected. It ends at the water, under the Bayonne Bridge. We also found the Bayonne Light Rail stations, and some shopping centers. While driving up and back down route 440 we noticed a sign for the Bayonne Cruise Ship Terminal. Since we all had our cameras on us, it was suggested that we drive in to see if there were any ships to take pictures of. A short distance in, we came to a military-looking gatehouse. The guard motioned us to a stop and asked where we were heading. I told him we were just curious and exploring. He said that there weren't and ships in port that day, but there was an interesting 911 monument down on the river. He told us to just follow the road and we couldn't miss it. I wasn't expecting much, but curiosity prevailed. We drove through what appeared to be an old military base, winding along a pathway defined by barriers and cones. At the end was a parking lot, and a small park surrounding a surprisingly large monument. It had a solitary message that had an effect on all three of us. A large teardrop embedded in a fractured tower. We stayed as long as we could tolerate the cold wind that had kicked up. Here is a picture I snapped with my phone. It really doesn't show the sheer size of it. This site lists it at 100 feet, and gives some history of this gift from Russia. Please go check it out if you get a chance.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Sign Of The Times?

I know it's been a long time since I posted. I am so sorry. I see things every day that I want to write about so I have no excuse. Today I ran into one that I just had to share with everyone.

I was on the gas and electric company's website looking up the phone number for customer service and saw this message in bold face:

Please note: E-mail must not be used to report gas odors. Please use our gas odor toll free number listed above.

You know, it's not the stupidity of the statement that got to me, but the fact that they HAD TO PUT IT THERE!! This means of course that someone TRIED IT! I'll have to check the FDNY site for a similar message. Can you imagine? "Dear sirs, My dining room is on fire. Please send help and marshmallows immediately."