30 June 2008

Subway Riders - The Bad and the Ugly

Unruly and potentially criminal youths in wolf packs are not the only subway riders who get on my nerves. There are other riders and I even have nicknames for them...

The Living Room Guy
Most likely someone tall enough to play for the NBA, the Living Room Guy likes to stretch his legs out halfway across the width of the subway car. The uglier type would even put his size-14 sneakers onto the pole in front of him. Pity some poor child having to grab that pole later.

The Sentinels
Two people on two sides of the doors and there is only a little room left for people to squeeze through to get in and out. The uglier ones are those that stop dead in their track as soon as they enter the subway car. You have just a nanosecond or two to quickly squeeze through them before the car doors close.

The Castle Stormers
As soon as the subway doors open the Castle Stormers charge into the car to grab whatever seats are available. As a Chinese person, I find it even more embarrassing when they talk loudly in Chinese in trying to offer the loot to their colleagues.

The Gabbers
Much as I like to have cell phone service in the subway, it is nice to not have it. As it is sometimes there are too many people who love to do nothing other than... talk. That's when it's handy to have an iPod to tune them out. At least without cell service, I just have to put up with these gabbers when the subway is above ground.

The Pole Hogger
Some people love to own the poles in the subway car. All to themselves, the Hogger would lean onto the pole while reading some newspaper or book. Anyone wanting to have a hold on the pole would have to be tall enough to grab the top part or risk touching the Hogger's behind. Hm, maybe some pickpocket expert can teach the Hogger a lesson someday.

23 June 2008

Kristen Shirts

Apology goes to Kristen Shirts, who I erroneously referred to as Tristan Shea in the previous entry. It took a few Google searches to find the info about her. There are some real Tristan Shea's out there but they don't do the ukulele and they did not appear to be connected to the JoCo in any way. Read about Kristen Shirts at
The show itself can be found here


Shoot, I missed the second encore, but that's alright as it was way too late for me. Next time, I'll drive so I can stay all the way to the real end.

22 June 2008

Go JoCo Go!

Months after first hearing about Jonathan Coulton on TWIT podcast, I ended up at a live show by JoCo himself. The wonder of the Internet. Through his web site, I registered with Eventful to be kept informed of when the JoCo would perform in the New York metro area. He is famous now and is demanded all over the U.S. and in London too. Never mind the fact he and I both live in Brooklyn. The notice came, I almost instantly bought 3 tickets for my family, although I am sure Wife would only come along to keep company. My Son has a few JoCo favorites of his own, even if he doesn't get all the jokes.

The show overall was great. The Highline Ballroom is easily accessible by subway. There is even a subway entrance on 16th street so you just need to walk west a few avenues. The line to get into the place is in two pieces, one in front of the Ballroom and another past its neighbor Western Beef. I suppose Western Beef doesn't want Ballroom's customers blocking their entrance. At first I thought that the Ballroom took Beef's place but they just didn't have time to replace the signage.

Paul & Storm were the opening acts for JoCo, but really did more than that. They actually performed half of the show, from the beginning to intermission. They came back to add more flavor to JoCo's performance, too, with singing, tambourine, etc. A gal named Tristan Shea took part in the show with her ukulele off and on. Sorry, Tristan, I'll have to do some research to get your name right, but I can't do that lest I derail my train of thought. There was also a whole army of ukulele players at times, supposedly JoCo fans who were given the honor to participate. Very interesting!

Given the fact that JoCo is pretty cool about fans making things out of his music, I thought it would do no harm to also share part of the performance. Photos probably won't come out right as the lighting is set just to ruin any photos taken. Video recording looked promising and I managed to record a few songs. While recording Still Alive, some security guard told me to stop and I complied. I wonder if it's no video recording at all at Ballroom or just that song. JoCo wrote the song for the game Portal, whose copyright is held by Valve Software. My Son kept asking when JoCo would sing Re: Your Brains and the man finally sang it near the very end. I don't know if he had a second encore, but after JoCo, Paul & Storm, Tristan and her ukulele players came out to bow, we rushed out the door. It was already 10:30ish.

The subway ride home was scary. At one stop a bunch of teenagers hopped on and started to horseplay. They didn't actually physically touched anyone but they turned the subway car into their own playground. The group, consisting of boys and girls, was hooting loudly and cavorting about as their hormones raged unchecked. At the next stop, we went to the next car along with many other passengers. The next stop, those same "kids" followed their scared victims. Again they didn't physically harm anyone although some would remark about the passengers' clothes and appearances. One of them came up close to two Chinese women and made faces at them. All the while I couldn't help thinking about Bernhard Goetz. There will be no peace in this world with these unruly "kids" roaming freely. They are so unaware that their actions are not seen as representative of them, but of their whole race. It does not take much effort from threatening people to actually robbing them, especially when they travel in packs.

17 June 2008

The Simple Life

My friend the Lone Gunman told me about some Simple Life movement. I have the link on my work Windoze machine, but I don't have the time to boot it up, or do a quick Google, so suffice to say that we as a consumer society is too busy gathering possessions which in turn possesses us. Let us step back and live a simpler life, excellent idea. Make do with what you have, give away what you don't need. Shoot, I suppose that 3G iPhone will never find its way into Lone Gunman's paws...

One of the fun stuff I did in Facebook was joining the many groups it offers. One such group is some limerick groups. Limericks are poems that consist of a total of five lines, with rhyming happens on the first, second, and fifth lines, also third and fourth. Another pattern involving the two set of lines is that the first, second, and fifth lines have three metrical feet; the third and fourth lines have only two. Whatever metrical feet are you will have to read about in the link of the blog entry. I think a metrical feet is a set of unaccented and accented syllables. Whatever...

Here's a limerick for the Lone Gunman and his Simple Life:

There is a man in Tampa
Possession drives him banana
Give away he must
Simplify or bust
Now he has just his pajama!

14 June 2008

Dad and MOM

Happy Father's Day
May day not interrupted
Please no MOM Alerts

To all the mothers out there, I am not putting you down because it is almost Father's Day. The MOM in the above haiku is short for Microsoft Operations Manager. It's some kind of monitoring tool, produced by Microsoft, to send alerts when a server reaches a certain state, e.g. low disk space or high temperature. At least I think that's what it does. In my relatively new role in the so-called server management department, I hear "MOM alert" a lot but I am not involved in any of it.

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there, especially those in the digital trenches, fighting the digital evildoers everyday to keep your network humming.

08 June 2008

186 - 19-Year Itch

New York is baking! The cool weather finally let go of its grip and the heat wave moved in right away.

In the 1950s movie The Seven Year Itch, the story centers around the fact that back in those days, during the hot summer months in Manhattan, men would send their wives and kids up the river to some cooler summer homes. I thought it was a tradition that is no longer practiced, given the wide availability of air conditioners. I was surprised to learn from a colleague that he still does that and they have been together for nineteen years.

The Seven Year in the movie's title refers to the span of time into a marriage that the partners start thinking of infidelity. In the move, Marilyn Monroe played the role of The Girl, who moved into the floor above the main male character's apartment shortly after he bid adieu to his family for the summer. He had fantasies and felt tempted but in the end rushed upstate to meet his wife. I suppose absence makes the heart grow fonder.