Thursday, November 08, 2007

Better Vocab = Free Rice

One of the more interesting "donation" sites I've seen lately. This one is called Free Rice. It works like this: you play a vocabulary guessing/building game. For every word you correctly define (it's multiple choice, don't worry), they will donate 10 grains of rice through the United Nations. The words get pretty hard/obscure and honestly, the site is just pleasant to look at.

Pretty cool, eh?


Monday, November 05, 2007

Quote of the Day: Titanium Neckbands

It's a good thing they don't make titanium neckbands... Because then they'd have to cut your head off!

- My co-worker, upon hearing that people with titanium rings sometimes need to have their fingers removed in the emergency room, because the ER staff can't cut through the ring.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dancing Storm Trooper

This one is pretty self-explanatory:

Things I Learned From This Video:

- Japanese pedestrians can't dance.
- Japanese Storm Troopers, on the other hand, can.
- It's fun to watch dancing Storm Troopers when you're hungover and unable to sleep.

Things I Am Still Confused About:

- Why hasn't Darth Vader come and kicked this guy's ass for fucking around in the streets of Japan instead of fighting the rebels?
- What's with the guy with the yellow bag on his foot around 1:17??


Friday, November 02, 2007

The Police - MSG - Halloween '07

Oh boy oh boy... Did I have a treat on Halloween night. And no, it wasn't the hemline of my girlfriend's costume (though I won't lie, it was nice). I'm talking about getting to see a sold out POLICE show at one of my favorite venues, Madison Square Garden!!

They kicked things off with Message in a Bottle, went right into Synchronicity II, and didn't stop until their 4-song encore was over. Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers were in top form, with Sting's still-insane tenor voice soaring over Copeland's frenetic drumming and Summer's inspired guitar work.

As an extra Halloween treat, the boys were all dressed up for the ocassion: Sting as a jester (my girlfriend loved those tights), Summers as Charlie Chaplain, and Copeland as either Cobra Commander or some sort of dead, uh... thing. And to top it off, the crew re-worked the lights for Every Little Thing She Does (Is Magic) to be orange themed. Nice.

We were sitting all the way in the back, literally, with our backs against the holy walls of MSG... But the view and the sound were still amazing. A sold out show at MSG is good from any seat in the house... Especially when the guys on stage are The Police!

That show was worth every dollar of that marked up StubHub ticket!


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Here's a pumkpin I carved this weekend:


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Business: DessertTruck!

A friend of mine who goes to business school at Columbia forwarded me some info on a new business that's opening up tonight. It's called DessertTruck... Sounds like a great concept to me. It's pretty self-explanatory, but here's a note from one of the two founders of the company, Chris Chen:

For those who are unfamiliar with my company, DessertTruck is a new mobile food concept. Using great ingredients and the highest standards for execution, we bring desserts from the world of fine-dining into the realm of everyday enjoyment. At our mobile food truck, there's no bullshit, no pretension. Just really good desserts. Passion for food is our inspiration. But making people smile, one dessert at a time, is our ultimate goal.

DessertTruck will be opening on Tuesday night at 6PM. Our location is 8th St and University Place, accessible by the 1, A, B, C, D, E, F, V, R, W, and 6 trains.

A PDF of their opening menu can be found here. I've heard the creme brulee is excellent. Go get some dessert from a truck!


Monday, October 29, 2007

How to Shotgun A Beer Bottle

Shotgunning, as many of us know, is a method of chugging a beer, whereby the chugger punches a hole in the side of a beer can, then cracks open the top and sucks down the beer. This is most effective when the hole is made towards the bottom of the can, which is then tilted "up" to it's normal orientation before opening the top of the can.

Recently at a after-work happy hour session, a co-worker informed me about a way to shotgun a beer from a bottle. Clearly, one cannot very well punch a hole in the side of a glass bottle. But, chugging a beer through the mouth of a bottle is difficult given a) the pressure differential created by sucking the beer out of the bottle or b) the relatively slow rate of beer drainage when one simply holds the bottle upside down.

Thus, there is a technique which, according to the omniscient Wikipedia, is known as "strawpedoing, bendy-straw, or shnorkelling." Wiki describes the process as such:

A bendy straw is inserted into the top of the bottle and the small end is bent down and held over the edge of the bottle. To drink, the mouth of the bottle and the elbow of the bendy straw is put in the mouth and upended. The bendy straw ensures a steady flow of air into the bottle, and the drink can therefore be consumed very quickly.

The Wikipedia article notes that people have actually innovated and elaborated upon this idea:

Devices have now been designed in order to both speed up and simplify the process of a strawpedo. The device consists of a large plastic tube with a smaller thinner tube inserted inside it. The large tube is placed over the top of the bottle and the beverage consumed similarly to a standard strawpedo. These are commonly known in the UK as bottle bongs or party shooters.

Who knew? It's really too bad I'm not in college anymore and don't often have to (or want to) shotgun beers. But this knowledge would definitely have come in handy several years ago. Oh well.

...But for those of you who might still be in need of a way to chug large quantities of beer from bottles, do take note.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Coming Soon...?

So up in the small little town of Margaretville, NY, there is a movie theater... coming. Soon?

I don't really know what to make of this.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Quote of the Day: Sleepwalking

Quote of the day:

I guess you can't really go too far if you're sleep walking... If you end up in India, you've been kidnapped.

- My co-worker, during a discussion on sleepwalking

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nickname Potential

According to Brad, my name "has some serious nickname potential." Allow Brad to demonstrate:

if you're sad: bluegene
if you move to a new place: newgene
if you get scared: boogene
if you're frustrated about something: stewgene
if you're drunk: brewgene
if you're getting it on with a chick: screwgene
if you smell: pewgene
if you're sick: flugene
if you just escaped from a dangerous situation: phewgene
if you're using the bathroom: poogene
if you're grossed out: ewgene
if you're involved in a multi-artist concert: lollapaloogene
if your apartment is cold in the wintertime: igloogene
if you're associated with a group whose mascot is a bear: baloogene
if something ain't quite right: askewgene
if you're doing something classically you: truegene

Ah Brad.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Crazy Subway Person #2: Apparently, He's An Alien

I ran into this guy a while back... It was late at night, but there were still a bunch of people riding the trains at the time. This old-ish guy boards the train with one of those bobbly headbands on. Y'know, with the two springs with little styrofoam balls at each end? This should've been my first clue that this was no ordinary man. What sort of man was he? Well...

The second thing I noticed was that he was carrying around a saxophone. No idea where this cat got it, but my guess was that he's not a local musician looking for a little rehearsal. Mr. Crazy Person then proceeded to wrap his mouth all the way around the mouthpiece of the sax and blow. HARD. The squeal that came out of the sax was bad enough... But to make things more interesting (perhaps to add some melodic structure to his subway opus) he would then rapidly and randomly press all the keys on the body of the sax.

Of course, any sane (or conscious) person on the train at this point was staring at this madman and/or holding their hands over their ears. But the thing that made this guy absolutely certifiable was what he did in between blowing on his horn. That is, he'd stop just long enough to scream, "I'M AN ALIEN!!" or "THIS IS HOW I COMMUNICATE!!"

Yeah. There's not much else to this one.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Quote of The Day: Natural Defenses

I wish I got scared and then became cool.

- My co-worker upon hearing that rats poop when they get scared

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Crazy Subway Person #1: The Proselytizing Jamaican Guy

I see lots of crazy people on the subway. So I decided to write about them. Starting with this gem, the Proselytizing Jamaican Guy. Ahem...

This morning, some old Jamaican dude got on the train and starts preaching about God, Jesus, and about how if we don't believe in Him/Them, we're all going to Hell. Now, I have nothing against Jamaicans, nor do I have anything against old men. And I don't really have anything against Christianity, or those that practice it, for the most part.

But I REALLY have something against somenoe standing a foot away from me, preaching in a REALLY LOUD VOICE about how the day of JUDGEMENT is coming and how I'm going to HELL if I don't devote my life to Jesus... at 9 in the MORNING on my WAY TO WORK.

I'm a nice person. I like people. And in general, I like that people have the right to say and believe whatever they damn well please. Go America. But despite my general good natured tendencies, vivid visions of the following scenarios unfolded in my head during my, normally peaceful, commute:

a) I turn around and punched the old bastard in the face, evoking, at first, gasps of surprise from the occupants of the subway car, followed quickly by thunderous applause.

b) When the train makes its next stop, I casually grab the back of his jacket and walk him, firmly, to the threshold of the train car. I then politely throw him out onto the platform. Again, the gasps and applause would follow.

c) During one of his emphatic rants about how Hell is very, very, very, very, very bad, I would raise my hand and ask, in a rather obnoxious and asinine manner, "Um, excuse me? Crazy man? I have a question: how bad is Hell? Very? Or 'very very'? I wasn't clear on that last part. Can you be more specific?" Train car denizens would chuckle at my satirical wit.

d) But what I really wanted, with all my heart, was for some random occurance to cause him to shut up. For instance, the train stops suddenly, sending him tumbling forward, bringing an end to his incessant jabbering. I'd see this happen and without hesitating I'd scream, "THANK GOD!" The train would then erupt in laughter and applause and I'd exit the car with a smug, asshole-ish smile on my face.

Why did I feel completely justified in imagining these things? Yes, the guy's annoying, but really, did he do anything to harm me? No. But, I'm willing to bet that if God really does exist, I'm sure he realizes that the worst time to try to convince someone he's the Lord and Savior is during rush hour on a crowded New York subway car. And I can't imagine he's super happy that this insane person is representing him, either.


Friday, October 12, 2007

In honor of Friday...

I give you... The original dancing banana:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Power Thirst: It's Crystal Meth in a Can

I normally don't post stuff like this. But this had me laughing for about 5 minutes straight. My co-workers thought I was crazy. Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Shanghai Kiss

Apparently there's this movie called Shanghai Kiss that came out on DVD recently. I think it might've been a straight-to-DVD thing, but regardless, it looks good for a few reasons:

1) It's got an Asian American dude in the lead role (Ken Leung)
2) Ken stars opposite Hayden Panettiere, who plays his love interest
3) Ken's character Liam has a SECOND love interest, played by none other than Kelly Hu
4) See #2 and #3
5) See #1

So that about sums it up. Check the trailer here.

And, if you're really interested, buy it on Amazon.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Poem

I don't normally post things like this, but this piece really struck a chord with me.


by David Budbill

we are
bones and ash,
the roots of weeds
poking through
our skulls.

simple clothes,
empty mind,
full stomach,
alive, aware,
right here,
right now.

Drunk on music,
who needs wine?

Come on,
let's go dancing
while we've
still got feet.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hobby: Creating Facebook Groups

Yeah, it's true. Check them out:

Whatever - A group for that "bleh, whatever" feeling.

Hi, My Name Is _______ And I'm An Apple Slut - I've called myself an Apple Slut for quite some time. I figured maybe there were some others out there that felt similarly.

For every person that joins, I will donate $.1 to the victims of Trogdor - A tribute to one of the greatest Internet cartoons ever.

Don't Ask Me... Just Google It! - I'm just sick of people asking me for information that could be very easily obtained online. This, of course, only applies to those that are sitting in front of a computer at the time. I'm more than happy to be an internet proxy for my friends when they are in a bind.

I Love Spike's Junkyard Dogs - Beacuse I do. And you should too.

Born In Chinese - This one's dedicated to my record label, Born In Chinese.

So there you have it.


Monday, October 01, 2007

10 Things I Learned This Weekend

I learned a few things this weekend. Please allow me to share them with you:

1) Don't go apple picking at Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm up in Yorktown Heights, NY. Their orchards are small, the selection blows, it's very disorganized, and they are grumpy bitches. We were told they charge by the pound... Then when we went to pay for our apples (we had very few due to the poor selection) we were told that we must've heard wrong (great customer service technique, btw), and that they actually charge you $13 for anything equal to or less than a half bag. Anything over that is $23, up to a full bag. I only had a quarter-full bag, so you could imagine I was a little peeved. We found it kind of difficult to believe that 7 intelligent people ALL heard wrong, but whatever. The cashier's defense? They have signs that say differently. That's great, but when an actual person that works at the orchard tells me something, I'm going to assume she knows what she's talking about. Their cider donuts are pretty good, but it's definitely not worth it to have to put up with bitchy 16-year old cashiers that need a good ass-kicking. Save yourself the trouble and go elsewhere.

2) Apple picking is WAY more fun with an old man in a shack that tells you where all the best apples are.

3) Bees really like apple cider. And cider donuts.

4) Apple cider is apparently difficult to make. But mulled cider isn't (provided you already have the cider).

5) Planet Earth is one of the best nature series ever created. You really should watch it.

6) There is a lake in Africa that's 700 meters deep.

7) 1 in 10 people who try to surmount Mt. Everest die trying.

8) Penguins in Antarctica sit around in a giant huddle in -70 degree Celsius weather with no sun, no food, and no water for 4 months. And you thought our winters were bad.

9) Martin Sexton is coming to NYC! And I have tickets. Huzzah!

10) Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will almost always make me tear up. That's right. I'm not afraid to say it. I mean, c'mon. How often do you see people doing amazingly nice things for amazingly nice people on TV?


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy...

According to, Apple just cut their 8 gig iPhone price to $399! (that's down from $599)



Thursday, August 30, 2007

Michael "Jedi" Jackson

So do you know the intro to "Don't Stop 'Til You Get It On" by Michael Jackson? Well, during the first 30 seconds of the song, MJ is mumbling sort of incoherrently to himself (or someone else?) afterwhich he erupts with a big "WOO!" and the song starts. Well, my buddy took the time to figure out what he's saying... so to our best knowledge, here it is:

You know i was, i was wondering you know, if, if you could keep him, because the force has got a lot of power, and it make me feel like ah, it, it make me feel like, uh...WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The force does indeed have a lot of power, Mr. Jackson.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Cell Phone Carriers' Secret!

Hehe... Yet another excerpt from David Pogue's NY Times blog, where he describes a half-joking comment he made to a cellular exec at a big cellular-industy conference in Lake Como, Italy:
(P.S. … As longtime Pogue’s Posts readers know, my biggest cellular pet peeve is the endless recording you hear when you reach someone’s voicemail: “To page this person, press 2 now. You may leave a message at the tone. When you finish recording, you may hang up. Or press 5 for more options”—and so on.

At the conference, I asked one cellular executive if that message is deliberately recorded slowly and with as many words as possible, to eat up your airtime and make more ARPU [Average Revenue Per User] for the cell carrier. I was half kidding—but he wasn’t fooling around in his reply: “Yes.”

The secret’s out.)



Tuesday, July 03, 2007

An Incredible (and hilarious) iPhone story

Check this report out from David Pogue's NY Times blog:
It seems that an enterprising Dallas woman brought $16,000 in cash to her local AT&T store on Friday, with the intention of buying out the store’s entire inventory of iPhones and then selling them on eBay. She breezed up to Mark Rebillet, the man at the head of the line, who’d been waiting there for hours, and offered him $800 to surrender his place in line. He agreed.

Turns out it was an excellent trade. Sure enough, the enterprising entrepreneur, who quite reasonably declined to give her name, was first in the door. That’s the first she heard about AT&T’s rule: one iPhone per customer.

As for Mark Rebillet: he, too, made it in the door before all the iPhones were gone. He spent much of the $800 on an iPhone and loads of accessories, in effect getting it all for free.

How awesome is that??


Thursday, May 10, 2007

I've Been Tagged...

i got tagged by katulli:


1. Get tagged.
2. List five things that have not been revealed on your blog.
3. Tag five others.


1. I just graduated from grad school this week. Twice.

2. I got a drumset for my graduation present. Childhood dream come true at last!

3. Instead of giving a speech, Wynton Marsalis played a trumpet piece written just for the NYU grads at commencement today. It was freaking awesome. I forgot all about being hungry and sleepy.

4. I admit it. I really like the new Katherine McPhee song, Love Story.

5. The last episode of Scrubs went from making me smile to making me want to cry in about 2.8 seconds.

I tag:

...well, no one, beacuse I don't really know if anyone reads this thing!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Listerine Recalled Due to Bacteria...?

Is it just me, or does this strike anyone else as counter-intuitive... Here's an excerpt from a recent Wall Street Journal article:
A unit of Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it is recalling all bottles of a Listerine "plaque detection" product primarily aimed at children after testing found some batches were contaminated with bacteria.



Friday, April 13, 2007

Quote of the Day: Ahnold the Governator

This could've easily been a McBain quote from the Simpsons... But this is actually what the Governator said during a speech he made at Georgetown University:

"Your political base will melt away as surely as the polar ice caps -- I can guarantee you of that...You will become a political penguin on a smaller and smaller ice floe, drifting out to sea. Goodbye, my little friend."

Hehe... Read the whole article here.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

NYU Student Profile

So a while back, I was asked by my school to submit this profile thingy. They said it might be posted up on the NYU website. The profile questions were kind of strange, and they asked for "lighthearted" answers. Well... It got posted! Hehe. Here it is:


A Lighthearted Story

An old man lived alone in the country.

He wanted to dig his tomato garden, but it was very hard work as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament.

Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. If you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would dig the plot for me.
Love, Dad

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Dad,
Not for nothing, but don't dig up that garden. That's where I buried the BODIES.
Love, Vinnie

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.

That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Dad,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love, Vinnie

Monday, March 05, 2007

Professor Fitterman: Fucking Insane

Some of you know who Professor Fitterman is. Some don't. But it doesn't matter. I'm sure after reading the following story, you will all agree that she is insane. Fucking insane. Don't believe me? Think I'm being harsh? Haha... Read on, my friends:

(Note: This all happened earlier tonight)

I got to Professor Fitterman’s Concert Management class around 7:00pm, roughly fifteen minutes late (stupid trains). We were taking the midterm exam that evening, so I hurried into class, picked up my exam and began working on it.

Around 7:45pm, I finished the exam and brought it to the front of the classroom. Professor Fitterman was answering another student’s question, so I left the exam on the desk in plain view, a foot away from where she was sitting. Since I had arrived late, I did not know if we were excused after finishing the exam so I walked out of the classroom to take a short break.

I checked my voicemail, sent a few text messages to my brother, and got a snack from the vending machine on the 5th floor. Wanting to give my fellow classmates the courtesy of finishing their exams without the sound of my eating, and knowing that Professor Fitterman does not allow eating in the classroom (what, are we in 5th grade?), I ate my Sun Chips in the hallway outside the classroom.

A few minutes later, after throwing away my trash, I went back into the classroom and walked to my desk. I then noticed that Eryn had finished her exam and was packing up her things to leave. Still unsure as to whether or not I could leave for the evening, I reached into my bag and grabbed a promotional copy of the CD that my record label was about to release and headed out after Eryn with the intention of showing it to her.

In the hallway, I walked up to Eryn and let her examine the CD and its jacket, explaining that I would give her a new, unwrapped copy soon. Our conversation was cut short, however, when I heard someone say in an angry whisper, “GUYS!”

I turned around to see Professor Fitterman, eyes blazing, walking out of the classroom. She then proceeded to scream at us. The following is what Eryn and I remember her saying. Now, it's not an exact word-for-word transcription, I assure you it is fairly accurate:

“GUYS! Are you FUCKING insane?! Talking to each other while the exam is still going on?? Cheating?! Now I’m going to have to rip up both of your exams and throw them in the trash!!”

That's right. My professor, a GRADUATE SCHOOL professor screamed at me and asked me if I was FUCKING INSANE. Needless to say, Eryn and I were both stunned at the sheer force and anger in Professor Fitterman’s voice (in other words, we were like "wtf, dude?"). In fact, neither of us really knew what was going on until Professor Fitterman said the word “cheating.” After her initial tirade, I, with a hint of defensiveness, explained that I had already turned in my exam. The professor claimed that she hadn’t seen me do so. I insisted that I had and that, in fact, my exam was underneath Eryn’s on the table next to where the professor had been sitting. Then, with a brisk and half-assed apology (something to the effect of "Oh. Sorry.") the professor walked back into the classroom.

There were numerous alternatives that Professor Fitterman should have considered and executed. The simplest and most fucking obvious option would have been to give me the benefit of the doubt and simply ask if I had turned in my exam! Or, I don't know, maybe she could've refrained from being an absolute LUNATIC and just walked up to us and calmly explained why she was concerned. But no. She instead had to yell and curse at us. Awesome.

So there you have it. This is why I feel perfectly justified calling my professor fucking insane.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

'Fraidy KKKats

So I was reading CNN today and came across a story entitled, "Klan growing, fed by anti-immigrant feelings, report says." Now, aside from the "goo" feeling I get from even hearing the name of this organization, one question always comes to mind whenever I hear about the KKK...

That is, why the hoods? If you're so proud of being white, why hide your face?

Just a thought.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I want to be an Astronaut when I grow up! ... or not.

This is by far the funniest article I've read in a long, long time. And it was in the NY Times, no less (no, not The Onion). This psychotic woman (who, by the way, is a NASA Astronaut) was arrested and charged with attempted kidnapping. But it gets so much better... read on:

A NASA astronaut who drove hundreds of miles to confront a romantic rival, wearing diapers on the journey so that she would not have to stop to use the restroom, appeared in court today facing charges that included attempted kidnapping, and was ordered released on $15,500 bond.

Lisa Nowak, 43, drove hundreds of miles to confront a rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut, Bill Oefelein, according to police.

The astronaut, Lisa Nowak, 43, who flew on a shuttle mission last summer, mostly kept her head down during the preliminary appearance in an Orange County, Fla. court, but nodded and said “yes” a few times when the judge explained that she was not to have any contact with the other woman, identified as Colleen Shipman, a captain in the Air Force, according to media reports. Mrs. Nowak, who is a Navy captain working for NASA, was also ordered to wear a tracking device.

The Orlando police allege that Mrs. Nowak drove 950 miles from Houston to Orlando -- wearing adult diapers -- and disguised herself in a dark wig, glasses and trench coat to confront Ms. Shipman in the parking lot of Orlando International Airport, according to a police affidavit. Mrs. Nowak considered her a rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut, Bill Oefelein, according to the affidavit.

The Orlando police said that Mrs. Nowak followed Ms. Shipman to a parking lot at the airport, where Ms. Shipman entered her car. Mrs. Nowak approached the car window and tried to open the door. When Ms. Shipman would not open the door, Mrs. Nowak began to cry, the police said. Ms. Shipman cracked the window, and Mrs. Nowak sprayed pepper spray into the vehicle.

Um... Psycho?

She later told police, “that was stupid,” according to the affidavit.

Yeah. No kidding.

"Nowak felt that she needed to meet with Shipman and discuss the details of their relationship with the male astronaut,” a police statement said.

Mrs. Nowak was arrested on Monday and also charged with attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery.

Her court appearance was broadcast live on television. Stations displayed file photos of the astronaut smiling broadly in an orange space suit, juxtaposed alongside the police mug shot of Mrs. Nowak after her arrest, her brow furrowed and hair splayed in different directions.

In court today, her attorney argued that she was an “excellent candidate for pre-trial release” because she had no criminal record, and that he saw no attempt to kidnap, but rather an “attempt to speak to some one in their vehicle.” He said that Mrs. Nowak had an exemplary record of commitment to her space career and the country, indicating she could be trusted to return to court and to stay away from Ms. Shipman. “One’s good works must count for something,” he said.

The state attorney said that the facts indicated a well-thought-out plan to kidnap and perhaps to injure Ms. Shipman.

A NASA official told the court today that before the incident, Mrs. Nowak, who is married with three children, and Ms. Shipman were strangers.

During a check of the parking lot, an officer followed Mrs. Nowak and watched her throw away a bag containing the wig and a BB gun. They also found a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, rubber gloves, $600 in cash, love letters — all in bags and in her car, the police said.

During the July shuttle mission last year, Mrs. Nowak’s tasks included operating a robotic arm. Commander Oefelein served on a mission by space shuttle Discovery in December.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish"

This is kind of old news... But the video for this speech came up on my iTunes today.

Back in 2005, Steve Jobs gave the commencement address at Stanford University. You can read the whole speech here. But the following is what I thought was the best part:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart...

...No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Monday, January 15, 2007

London Adventures

The night after we went to check out Just Jack, a group of us went to the birthday party of the lead singer of a British band called Embrace. First we met up with some friends at a pub, at which Pavla was confronted with the largest beer glass she's ever seen:

Granted, the thing was only a pint, but it sure looked bigger. Anyhow, one of the beers she had been talking about since we got to London was a Czech beer called Budvar. Apparently, people have been brewing this beer in the town of Budweis since 1265. Unfortunately, they didn't really trademark the beer until 19 years after Anheuser-Busch came out with Budweiser. So for now, the beer is marketed as Budvar or Czechvar (its known as the latter in the US). This is what Pavla thinks of Anheuser-Busch and their trademark:

Here's a closer look at the beer:

Anyhow, soon we proceeded to the party, which was packed. It was held on the roof of this art gallery in Camdentown. The alcohol was a bit on the pricey side, but nothing unheard of in NYC. We saw several bands play, including this band called NeatPeople, who I thought were pretty great. The closer of the evening was a band called Keith, who Eryn thought were just peachy. (see picture)

Afterwards, Steph, Justin and I rode in a double decker bus to get home. Since the bus was near empty, we got to ride on the upper level at the front. Thing is, late at night, there aren't that many cars on the road. Add to that the apparent death wish that the bus driver had, and you get one exciting bus ride home. Plus, being on the top of the bus skews your perception of the road, so it always looks like you're going to crash into the median or a tree or something. This was by far the most exciting 10 minutes of the evening. Here's a pic I took during the ride:

More later!


Sunday, January 14, 2007

More stories from London

One of the things that we got to do in London was go check out some local shows. I missed the first one, due to a sore back. But I did make the second one! We made our way down to a venue called The Borderline to see Kevin Montgomery (see above pic), who is actually an American artist. I liked his music (even the more country sounding stuff), but man, did he tell long stories in between songs! I swear, his set would've been at least 30 minutes shorter if he'd just shut the hell up and play. And he kept making these weird gay jokes whenever he'd mention himself and another band member in the same sentence.

The following evening, we met up with Jackie's cousin Kim and Eryn's friend Cat. A bunch of us went to Wagamama for dinner (Boston location coming in Spring 2007!). Afterwhich we headed to the local supermarket in search of something sweet for dessert. Cat and Eryn got some chocolate... here's Eryn being very excited about this:

Here is Eryn and Cat finally enjoying their chocolate:

While the rest of the group enjoyed some ice cream bars:

Here's a sample of some UK-speak:

And here's Eryn... doing something strange (this picture is actually pretty funny because Eryn has a tendency to get carded a lot):

After dessert, we headed over to a nearby venue to check out one of the UK's newest up-and-coming acts, Just Jack. A mix of Jamiroquai and "a guy who doesn't sing quite as high, or well," JJ was entertaining, at least. And he didn't talk nearly as much as Kevin Montgomery. Nor did he make stupid jokes. Here's a pic of the show, which was sold out, by the way:

The following day, between classes, we hit up this pan-Asian restaurant for lunch. They charged us for everything. Extra sauce, a few chili peppers, take away containers... We were surprised they didn't charge us royalty fees for taking photos in their eating establishment. Anyhow, the food was pretty good and the portions were actually a size that satisfied my hunger... so hey, cheers to that. Also, Luis tried sushi for the first time. He had a salmon maki roll (one piece, not the whole thing). I managed to grab my camera in time to take a rather blurry picture of this event:

In hindsight, I thought it was rather brave of him to try it. I mean, I grew up eating it so it would be easy for me to think it was weird that people are so grossed out by it. But really, think about it. You're eating raw meat that's any number of weird colors, sort of slimy, and cold (or room temperature, at least). So thumbs up for Luis for taking the plunge. I don't think he's going to be hitting up the all-you-can eat sushi buffets any time soon, but I don't think he hated it!

More later!


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


More on London soon... but for now, feast your eyes on the latest work of genius from the folks at Apple:

Me likey. Check out the details here.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

We're walking, we're walking...

After class today, we took a walking tour of the East End with the same company we used for the Ghosts, Gaslights and Guinness tour, as noted in my last entry. Luckily, this one turned out to be much more interesting. At least, the stories were more interesting. Unfortunately, it got a lot colder during the course of the two hour ordeal. Plus, we were all STARVING, which didn't help.

What did help, however, was that the tour ended at Brick Lane, an area known for its Indian cuisine. Yum. We walked around for a bit, found a bagel shop that the tour guide claimed had the best (and cheapest) bagels in London, then made our way back up Brick Lane to a random Indian restaurant. I have to admit, though, that I was slightly disappointed with the quality of the food. It wasn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination. But it just wasn't mind-blowingly good. I haven't given up though... I will try again later this week, for sure!

Oh... Several of us were also very tired after the tour. Gorging ourselves on Indian food didn't help, either, as Pavla demonstrates here:

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wandering About

Today we started class. We're taking them at Birkbeck College... Yes, there were a few gratuitous "brokeback" jokes, but I think we got most of those out of our system after a few minutes. After class, Jackie, Pavla, Luis and I headed out to explore the city a bit. We wandered down towards the Thames, past Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, across the Westminster bridge, then past the Robot Museum, the London Eye and made our way to pub along the river. Pavla was elated to find that they carried her favorite Czech beer, Staropramen, which was quite tasty, by the way.

After a brief rest at the hotel, Eryn, Stephanie, Tara, Ruby, Justin, Luis and I went on a walking tour through a tour company called London Walks. They have about 30 different themed tours. We decided to do one called Ghosts, Gaslight, and Guinness. Admitedly, I was mostly interested in that last part about the beer. But, the description sounded interesting enough:

This is the most haunted city on earth: unutterably old, built over a fen of undisclosed horrors, believed to contain occult lines of geometry. A city where the very mist is like a sigh from a graveyard. Now I don't want to weird you out, but where we're going tonight time past and time present can fuse...especially when the daylight bleeds away. If in a dark window you see an even darker silhouette staring back, or if the branches of a tree suddenly shiver like a spider's web that's caught something, or if you follow a stranger into a graveyard (or a pub where everything isn't as it seems) could well be wayfaring to the rebecks of eternity. Fancy a pint?

Now, doesn't that sound enticing? Well, we thought so. Unfortunately, we were wrong. The tourguide was creepy enough and played the part well. However, the ghost stories themselves were pretty lame and campy. Most of the ghost sightings he described happened about 75 years ago and haven't happened again since. Luis bailed about 20 minutes in. The rest of us decided it was time to go when we finally got to the pub and the tourguide declared "Okay, you can all go in and buy a pint now!" Please... If this 6 pound ripoff doesn't even include the pint of Guinness, then forget it. We found a pub of our own and I got me a pint of Guinness. Yum.

That's about it for tonight... I've uploaded a few pictures from our nighttime stroll below!


The First Day

My first night in London was pretty low key. I arrived on time and proceeded to customs, where I met with a bit more resistance than normal. The customs officer was obviously new to the job and was being trained by her supervisor. As a result, she was asking me practically every question in the book... and the ones that she missed were asked by her supervisor. They asked me what I was doing in London, so I told them I was here as a student, which is normally enough to get you through. However, they asked me for some sort of official proof of enrollment, which of course I didn't have because I wasn't officially enrolled in any London school. They kept asking for any sort of proof that I was here to do what I said I was here to do, so finally I gave them my orientation folder and study abroad handbook. The supervisor flipped through the handbook for about 2 seconds and said, "Okay that'll do." Jerky.

After going through all that, I grabbed my luggage and met up with Pavla, who was waiting patiently for me outside of baggage claim. We made a quick pitstop at the restrooms, the ATM, the phone, and then it was off to our first ride on the tube (that's what they call the subway here). The subway system in London is, for the most part, very efficient and clean. Like many train systems in Europe, they have signs telling you when the next trains are coming, which is so very nice. Supposedly they're installing those things in NYC, but who knows when that'll actually happen.

45 very crowded minutes later, we arrived at our Underground stop, Holborn. We ascended what must have been 5 or 6 stories of escalator and then finally got our first glimpse of downtown London. We made our way to the hotel, which was just a few blocks away and checked into our rooms.

One note about my room: I was fortunate enough to luck out and get a single room for myself at the hotel. I didn't sign up, or pay, for one, but the hotel ran out of doubles and was forced to give our group a couple of single rooms. And since the guy in the study abroad office who organized this trip knows me, he gave me one of them. In the immortal words of Butthead: Thcore.

First on the agenda was the reception for the whole London Study Abroad program, which included two other classes. We gathered in one of the hotel's conference rooms, talked, ate sandwiches and milled about. Then we headed to a nearby pub to hang out in a slightly less formal setting and get our first sampling of British beers. The funniest thing about this outing was the music. Initially when we walked into the Museum Pub (across from the gigantic British Museum), there was hardly anyone in there and no music playing. After about 20 of us settled in and started ordering drinks, the bartender decided it was about time to start playing some music... His first choice? That's right. Britney Spears. Which was followed by the likes of Avril and Christina and eventually hits like "Who Let The Dogs Out." Classic. Apparently, after the bulk of us left, they put on the Rolling Stones and left it on. It was all hilarious, no doubt... but next time I think I'll have to request they switch to the Stones a little earlier.

Then it was back to the hotel to rest up for the first day of class... More later!


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Getting to London

For the most part, my trip thus far has been pretty uneventful. I suppose I should be thankful for that, considering the adventure I had trying to get to Sydney this past summer.

I did, however, experience one of the most beautiful sights I've seen from an airplane while taking off from JFK. It was a rainy, foggy and cloudy afternoon, so at first, take off was nothing special. In fact, for most of it, visibility ended about 10' from my window. But as we pulled up out of the thick layer of rain clouds, all of a sudden I saw blue sky and a mountain range of white, fluffy clouds. I mean, literally, it looked like someone had sculpted a mountain range out of water vapor. It was beautiful.

Due to my stupidity/oversight, I managed to book my flight such that I have a nine-hour layover in Frankfurt. Actually, I am sitting outside of a Haagen-Dazs in the Frankfurt airport writing this entry right now. I arrived this morning around 5:30 am, local time. Wanting to try to adjust my clock, I decided to try to take a nap first. The airport has a section of pseudo laz-y-boy type chairs... except they have no cushioning, and they aren't adjustable in any way. Oh, and they're definitely not made for 6'1" people. But, they were fairly comfortable, especially compared to the cramped accommodations of the economy section of the Lufthansa airplane cabin. Unfortunately, my body was just not having any of that. So after unsuccessfully trying to nap, I decided to explore the airport terminal a bit.

First, I got something to eat. I opted to avoid the McDonalds and go for the "cafe" instead. The only thing on the menu that looked appetizing in the least was the "Ham cheese toast." I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to get. I imagined getting a slice of toast with ham and cheese baked into it... or a piece of ham laid next to a piece of cheese, accompanied with a triangle of toast. Luckily, it turned out to be a ham and cheese panini of sorts... They managed to brown the toast on the outside while keeping the cheese slightly warm and the ham cold as ice. Lovely.

One interesting feature of the Frankfurt airport is the "smoking areas." Every 150 yards or so, you'll find a group of smokers huddled around what look like that little island at the bank on which you find deposit slips and such. Except instead of deposit slips, there are tiny vents which, I assume, are meant to suck in the smoke. Now, I'm not sure exactly who's trying to fool who, but let it be known that no one is really being fooled here. I would've figured that German people realize that simply getting smokers to stand closer together doesn't make the smoke any less hazardous or annoying to the non-smokers just trying to get a ham cheese toast for breakfast.

Also conveniently placed on these kiosks are smoking ads (of course). The funny thing is, the Germans, while perhaps unwilling to contain their smokers in an actual room, are perfectly willing to forgo the tobacco warnings that most Americans are used to seeing (i.e. "The surgeon general warns against smoking etc."). Instead, they've opted for a more direct approach. Written in huge block letters on every cigarette ad, box and pack are the words "SMOKING KILLS." Now, I'm glad that they aren't farting around with vague or misleading warnings about the dangers of cigarette smoke, but look... if smoking kills, why can't you just ban it from indoor public areas like we do?! Maybe they should have signs near the smoking areas that say "Don't come too close! Smoking kills!"

In other news, I'm officially sick of screaming babies. That's right. I'm tapping out. I can't take it anymore. Add to that category "insane hyperactive toddlers." Oh, and people. Put people in there too. I'm done with people as well. All I want is a hot shower, a clean bathroom that doesn't reek of human waste (yeah, the bathrooms are pretty crappy here), and a place to lie down that isn't the airport floor. Oh yeah, I took a nap on the airport floor... Because the wannabe laz-y-boy chairs were all taken. So I slept next to them.

Actually, another funny story... So while I was drifting off to sleep, I heard this old man stop and ask the fellow sitting near me, "Hey! You! Why are you sitting there?!" The guy sitting there was understandably confused, but simply answered, "I was tired so I sat down." The old man, apparently unaware that he might've been the slightest bit odd (or rude), plowed on with his questioning and began to interrogate the sitting fellow about the train system and where to find the nearest station. The old man then set off to find said train station. Old people are so weird.

It is now 12:15pm, Frankfurt time. They actually won't let me go through security and get to my gate until 2pm. I have another 2 hours to kill. Sigh. I think I'm going to go insane. Actually, I think going insane would be easier than waiting another 2 hours to get to the gate (at which point I'll have to wait one more hour to board the plane). On the other hand, going insane sounds like something that requires energy. And I'm running pretty low on that right now. Maybe it was the McDonalds I ate. ...Oh yeah, I got hungry again and went for the McDonalds. Here are a few notes about the McDonalds here...

For one, I don't know what is up with the rest of the world's McDonalds and having to buy ketchup. WTF, mate?? It's just ketchup! I mean, maybe this is just the wasteful, excessive American in me talking... But dude. It's just ketchup. Last I checked, there isn't a shortage of ketchup anywhere.

Also, their buns actually kind of look like the buns you see on the commercials. Y'know how normally you get your McFat Burger and the bun's all soggy and crap. Well, this one was actually nice and round. And slightly toasted! Amazing.

Additional menu items: As an alternative to french fries, you could order these french fry-like potato disks. Intriguing. You can also order this dessert that, from what I could tell, is basically deep fried chocolate balls. Normally, that would sound pretty awesome. Except for some reason, because it has "Mc" in its name, it kind of makes me want to vomit.

Alright, I am starting to get sleepy again. I have to decide if I want to take another nap and risk missing my flight ... or just grit my teeth and get a coke or something. yeah, I know... i should just go buy a coke. you're right.

Well, hopefully, my next entry will be from jolly old London! Wish me luck! (even though by the time you read this, your luck will be useless to me. But wish it anyway.)