April 26, 2006

The End of the Beginning is Near

For better or worse, I’ve finally left Ann Arbor. 7 of 8 semesters down, with no class for a solid 4 months. I left far more behind than I could have ever imagined…

I’m almost done sifting through the boxes of my life, deciding what I need, want, and can do without for the next couple weeks and months. Living, camping, and moving with a motorcycle is something everyone should be required to do at least once. It’s a delicate balance.

Tomorrow it begins. I have a few errands to run on the first leg, which will only take me to Chicago by tomorrow night. From then on, San Francisco is the limit, with a lifetime of adventures and sights in between; a map, humming german machinery, and an odometer that can talk your ear off my only constant companions.

Wish me luck.

Posted by MrWonton at 1:31 pm | Comments (14)

April 06, 2006

In approximately three weeks I’ll be on the road. I finish my last exam, pack my apartment into a truck, load up my bike with the essentials, and take off. Off to the Black Hills, to Mount Rushmore, to Yellowstone, to the Makah Nation and its Cape Flattery, down Highway 1, through wine country, over the Golden Gate Bridge, (let me know if I’ve missed anything terribly important so far, I haven’t made my route yet) and finally to my home for 3 months, Cupertino, CA. In ~9-10 days. All assuming I don’t
lose

my
mind
beforehand. It’s getting risky.
Posted by MrWonton at 1:07 am | Comments (57)

January 31, 2006

Senioritis?

Welcome home take off your coat,
it’s been years since we last spoke,
it’s been too long.

-Matthew Walker - “Anymore”

It has indeed been a long time. I’m not even going to try to catch things up, at least not now, especially considering that by now, with my extended hiatus, I’ve more than likely managed to alienate what small readership I actually had anyways. Those who’ve been interested have kept up regardless.

No, this isn’t to catch up. This is me using this site the way I originally intended: as a place to write the things that come to my mind that I otherwise wouldn’t write down, and would ever be lost to my violently non-eidetic mind. I’m digressing.

In my younger more impressionable years, I happened to catch a relatively lazy bit of national television journalism that has yet to leave me since. The piece was on a software engineer working in Silicon Valley (during the height of the dot com bubble of course), a position I’ll soon share (at least temporarily with Apple Computer for the uninformed). What made this particular engineer unique from the flock that has taken root there was his singular method of living for a member of the technorati. Every day, after work, this man would brave San Francisco’s traffic holocaust, and proceed quite a ways out of the city, into the mountains, and onto his farm, where he quietly lived in a small ranch house complete with goats, crops, and all the other amenities a well-paid professional seeking to build a facade of country simplicity could want.

At the time I thought only in passing of the juxtaposition in the man’s life. The themes of escapism, luddism, and underlying message that all may not be right in technological paradise eluded me, yet the picture remained. Having spent 4 years, countless hours, innumerable late nights, and god-knows how many lost opportunities for social growth to the pursuit of what this man had, but found unsatisfying, I find the image much more pressing. Perhaps even frightening.

The thing is… I appreciate simplicity. One of the happiest times I’ve had was spent alone, on a motorcycle, with some clothes, a tent, a sleeping bag, and a stove, and miles of country roads. My friend D has told me of some times he spent in small villages in Fiji, where the people are villagers - not engineers, blacksmiths, butchers, farmers nor teachers, but villagers - and it sounds amazing. “When someone needs a house, the villagers come together and build them a house,” he tells me. Sure, sounds great, lets check the zoning, make sure everything is up to code, and double-check that we can get a tax write-off while we’re at it. Simplicity, goddammit! Make what you need, sell what you don’t, buy what you can’t!

We Americans are so quick to consider ourselves so amazingly lucky to have been born to such wealth and abundance, and why shouldn’t we? We’re on top! We’re number 1! It may not last, but who cares? Forward-thinking has never really been our strong suit. No, our disadvantages our less obvious, more institutionalized. It’s hard to see the problem while we eat our fast-food, watch our 100 channels of Television, listen to our shiny MP3 players, watch porn on our cell phones (thanks Soloway), and fall farther and farther from my image of humanity. Of course there are plenty of societies trying to emulate and assimilate, so I’m probably just wrong.

Or maybe I just need a vacation.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:52 am | Comments (51)

June 15, 2005

The New American Dream

It’s hard to follow the ridiculousness of the last couple posts, so I didn’t for awhile. Unfortunately that’s cause for a recap.

I made up a new game. It was called “try to drive my car without dying.” Having lived in Massachusetts for awhile now, I’ve actually gotten pretty used to this (worst… drivers… ever), but about a month ago, after work, my car decided to mix things up a bit. It decided I didn’t really need brakes to play. Well, technically just all the brake fluid and lines. Really it was pretty sweet trying to stop by hitting the brake peddle to get the lights to go on while simultaneously hauling on the e-brake to actually try to stop and screaming for effect. Of course, the rear brakes, the only ones that the e-brake uses, have never been replaced in 14 years and 92,000 miles, meaning they have hardly any stopping power and cause the car to pull hard to the right when they eventually do grip. Hey, at least it doesn’t pull into oncoming traffic.

By the time I found out I was the proud new owner of 2,000 pounds of unstoppable american steel, it was too late to visit the mechanic, but it wasn’t too late to do the laundry I needed to do. I’m proud to be one of the few CS majors willing to risk my life to visit the laundromat. The good news? I got the brakes fixed the very next day for less money than it costs to upgrade the armor on a military Hummer ($58,000 if my memory serves), and now they almost work.

The fun doesn’t stop there. A couple weeks ago, my car sprouted a glorious new set of noises. At the time, I was driving 3 passengers, and it sounded like something rubbing the tire whenever I turned. I hoped it was some sort of freak grounding out, but the next morning I could hear metal dragging on the ground when I accelerated. It didn’t take long to figure out the muffler hanger was gone. All that remained was a ring of rust to prove it existed. Luckily for my wallet, I was feeling handy, so I picked up two dollars worth of strapping metal and some nuts and bolts and ghetto-rigged my muffler up… beautifully if I do say so myself (I trimmed down the excess later, lay off).

True Craftsmanship

We’re not done yet though! Earlier this week, my battery died. The car refused to even jump. Of course, the one bolt holding the battery in is buried far deeper in my car than my ratchet is made to go, and snugged against a hunk of rubber that kept pressure on the bold for far too long as I hung inside the hood trying to make the best of the 3 inches of room I had to turn the ratchet in. I got it taken care of though, with many thanks to Ashley for carting my ass to and from work and Wal Mart. This car is going to nickel and dime me to death.

Jon, his wife Tacha, and the venerable Rex came ludicrously long distances from upstate NY to visit. I played tour guide to Boston, a city which I myself am tragically clueless about. Somehow, we left having found everything I’d looked for specifically, and a few things I hadn’t. We left with a box of Men’s Pocky! That’s not to be confused with Women’s Pocky, which of course doesn’t exist. In the exciting world of Pocky, what separates the men from the boys? The answer should be obvious:

  • Men’s Pocky comes with a single sticker of a middle-aged fully clad relatively unattractive woman in an un-enticing pose, complete with some Chinese characters and a year far too far in the past to be associating with a food product (ours said 1995 I believe), and
  • Coating the crisp Pocky goodness is extra fatty dark chocolate, the kind that puts hair on your chest. Clearly, it’s not meant for the faint of heart or testosterone.

It didn’t take long at all for the rockin’ sticker to find it’s way onto Rex’s sun visor.

Mike and Shannon both left. I’ve had the apartment to myself for the last week. I’d have though I’d be going out of my mind with boredom, but if anything, I’ve been busier than ever, and it’s been glorious, or as glorious as is possible considering it’s been pushing 90 degrees and 90% humidity for the last week, my apartment has no AC or fans, my car has no AC, and the building I work in is ventilated like a nuclear submarine. Really though, a few of the new summer co-ops have far exceeded my expectations. It only took a couple weeks to really make some good friends. This should end up being a good summer.

Speaking of Mike leaving, on his 2nd to last day of work, we made him a present, or at least ‘gift wrapped’ something he already had.

Post it notes are wonderful

Oh so wonderful...

especially when you have 2000 of them

We led several guerrilla teams out to the car during the day, and we used untold man hours to place no less than 2000 of the happy paper squares on his car. It took him over an hour to get them all off. The real credit goes to Vandya for coming up with the idea in the first place… BRILLIANT! Of course, Mike paid back my kindness by bringing over lots of food and 2/3rds of a handle of Baileys. Way to make me look like a douche, Mike.
(more…)

Posted by MrWonton at 10:31 am | Comments (43)

June 05, 2005

Hiding in the Shadows of Corporate America

My internet has been sporadic at best for weeks now. It’s becoming infuriating. The cable was so bad earlier today that even the TV refused to work. If it seems like I’ve been losing touch that’s not helping the situation. More importantly though, things have been crazy… I’ll summarize that all later. For now, I sit in the dark, one of only a handful of engineers here at work on a Sunday. Making progress can be frustrating…

Some of the friends that I’ve made in the past 6 months are leaving. New people have came, and many of them are great, but it’s hard enough being 900 miles away from the two places I’ve ever considered home where all my friends are without having to deal with the people I’ve had the entire time I’ve been here leaving. There’s nothing glamorous about being an intern.

Damn dark office buildings.

Posted by MrWonton at 5:50 pm | Comments (166)

May 03, 2005

Protected: Testing a new distribution model

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Murphy’s Law 2 or how I learned to stop worrying and drive a dead motorcycle 450 miles across the country or 16 hours in hell or when karma attacks

It all started innocently enough. I made it to the Providence airport with plenty of time to spare, glided through security with only the taste of irony at having to take off my shoes, but leaving my big metal watch on and still not setting off the metal detector, and sat around for over an hour folding origami out of “MMDC Confidential” cover sheets from work under the mildly amused gaze of a goth girl with about as many piercings as I have shoes and a head of unnaturally red hair swept back in twin pony tails. She later bashed her head into a metal crossbar on the window behind us and couldn’t stop laughing about it. Boarded the plane approximately on time, displaced a tall skinny girl in designer clothes who was surely a model who had taken my seat (no really, you don’t have to move). Reflected once more upon the existence of girls outside of engineering.

The lights and ventilation system on the plane fluctuated on and off for about 20 minutes, scaring the feint of heart. Apparently the power source they were attached to was poorly wired. Way to instill confidence! The plane left the terminal about 15 minutes late, but we were only about 10 minutes late into Detroit, and my bag was the 2nd out of the baggage claim. Grabbed some food from The Fleetwood on the way back. Picked up the bike in Kalamazoo, hung a billion things to it with bungies, and headed for home at around 11:30.

The machine was wonderful. It was quick off the line, comfortable, practically exuding power. It was quite a bit lighter than the bike I’ve used most, and had a larger engine by 200ccs. It ran great… for about 20 minutes… at which point it decided that 4 cylinders were overrated, so it would only use 2 of them. I sputtered a few miles, contemplated giving up, decided against it, then was amazed when it practically took off from under me. It was running fine again! At least for another couple miles. A few more cycles through this, and I’d made it home.

Home… at least that’s what it used to be. Where I used to live now was no more than a quiet empty husk. Devoid of all life for a couple months, with no furniture, and none of the same feeling… depressing. Despite being tired all day, getting home always wakes me up, so I made a few calls, as it was only about 1am, but no one answered. Beaten, I headed to bed, meaning a mattress laying on the floor of the master bedroom.

I laid, my mind racing. My torpidity was interrupted after 2am by my phone: it was Brandi! She asked if I wanted to hang out, and in my half-asleep state I was less than eager, but she persisted, and I love her for it. I had just begun explaining how to find my house when her phone, which is prepaid, ran out of time. I doubted she could find the place with just what I’d told her, and there was no other way for me to get in touch, so I wasn’t sure what to do. I really wanted to sleep, but I gave her resourcefulness some credit, so I waited. Within 10 minutes, I saw headlights crawling down the street. It was awesome seeing her again, it had been years. We hung out till about 6 in the morning. The Greene’s across the street got lucky we weren’t thinking too clearly. The sun was coming out when I finally got to sleep.

My dad guessed it was one of the ignition coils that was causing the motorcycle to run sporadically rough, and managed to pick up a used one from a junk store and we put it on Friday morning. By now, the weather was hinting at its forthcoming wrath. It was cold and raining, but I still had to test the bike to make sure everything was in order. I rode it around a few miles, getting my pants nice and soaked. Saw my mom briefly. Ate lunch with Matt, who was nice enough to come all the way back from school for it. Thanks goes to Mary for threatening violence to make that happen. Had dinner with Joanna before she had to go to work.

Brandi never bothered to put more time on her phone, so she was totally incommunicado. So not cool.

I rode the bike around a bit while Joanna was at work, and noted that gas was escaping out of the #2 cylinder through the spark plug threads. There was a noticeable loss of compression and power.

Hung out with Joanna Friday night and ended up going to Kalamazoo and helping Ashley move some crap around. Anything to help screw over Brian Greene.

Saturday morning, the fun started. I’ve often joked in the past after doing something nice for someone that I’m really only working to pay off my karmic debt at all the horrible things I’ve done in the past. Well the Karma Collector carried a 52 when he should have carried a one. Consider my debt paid.
(more…)

Posted by MrWonton at 12:23 am | Comments (13)

April 24, 2005

Stranded

I’m stuck in Ann Arbor for an extra day. I came home, and brought a blizzard with me. All anyone can talk about is how horrible the weather is. I tell them all to blame me. What else could cause this crap? All that I can wish for now is a nice day tomorrow, and it’s not going to come.

My closet has more skeletons than yours.

Posted by MrWonton at 3:20 pm | Comments (13)

April 21, 2005

Murphy’s Law

Two days ago it was 85 degrees and sunny. I depart for Michigan in about 7 and a half hours, and current predictions put temperatures in the upper 30’s and lower 40’s over the weekend with rain and SNOW! Perfect weather to ride a motorcycle 900 miles in. If I don’t make it, bury me somewhere warm.

Posted by MrWonton at 7:31 am | Comments (16)

April 12, 2005

Attention Michigan People

If anyone wants to fly to Massachusetts from Detroit for CHEAP, Spirit Airlines has select flights from Detroit to Providence and back for $34.20 (one-way all included, meaning $68.40 grand total obviously) up until the 30th, when they discontinue the flights. Obviously I’m going back from the 21st to the 24th, but anytime other than that feel free.

Posted by MrWonton at 1:13 pm | Comments (11)

April 06, 2005

Of random upcoming events

I bought my plane ticket yesterday. I’ll be flying into Detroit at 7pm, April 21st. I won’t be home that night till late. Tons to do the 22nd. Enough to do the 23rd. My ass dreads the 24th.

My manager, who I’ve essentially not had any substantive conversation with since I was hired, stopped by my cube today as a harbinger of Midterm Evaluations to come. For those unfamiliar, that means in a couple weeks I’ll be sitting down with my mentor and discussing my progress and achievements. A scary thought.

Like a polaroid picture. That happened just a mile or two away from my apartment here in Lung Cancer, MA.

Posted by MrWonton at 11:59 am | Comments (24)

April 03, 2005

1:57, 1:58, 1:59, 3:00!!?

Shit…

Posted by MrWonton at 3:15 am | Comments (51)

March 26, 2005

Succuming to the masses: Terri Schiavo

The Terri Schiavo debacle is yet another mind boggelingly silly media feeding frenzy that I feel compelled to comment on solely because everyone else is doing it, and everyone else is wrong. Honestly though, I don’t think this matters all that much, because to me, the alternatives are pretty similar. On one hand, Terri Schiavo dies, on the other, she remains in an irrecoverable state that’s as close to death as you can get. In neither case is she ever going to dance the tango again, let alone speak a single word in the english language. I’m not without my leanings, however. Terri Schiavo has been a vegetable for 15 years. The first few years of this, her husband tried several methods to recover her, including a particularly aggressive and experimental treatment that involved electrodes being implanted in her brain. The result? I quote: “According to physicians who have actually diagnosed her in person, she displays no awareness of her surroundings, is unable to swallow, and any consciousness or personality died in 1990.” (Ars Technica) So in 1998 he gave up, and decided, based on comments to this affect that she had made, to pull the proverbial plug. 7 years later this may finally be happening. I say about time.

Now to answer the dissention. A contributing factor to Terri’s current state was medical malpractice, the result of which was a $1.3 million settlement. $300,000 of this went to her husband, the rest to her medical bills. Her husband has subsequently turned down offers for book deals, as well as multi-million dollar offers to turn over guardianship to her parents. He’s not in it for the money. He claims that his position is based upon her wishes that she related to him while she lived, and I see no reason to doubt that. I can honestly say that were I in Terri’s position, I would not want to continue to live how she lives. Does she have a chance of recovery? Modern medical technology says no, and as far as I know, there’s no magic bullet on the horizon, but I could be wrong. This point seems to be the only arguable one in my eyes, but it begs the question of how far we are willing to go to preserve people who could be saved by advances in technology at a later date. If we’re willing to keep people like Terri alive indefinitely in hopes of a cure, should we also be listening to the proponents of cryonics and flash freezing and storing the heads of the recently deceased? It’s the same rationale after all.

Anyhow, there is a real tragedy here. I think Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die, and so far every court that has ruled to this affect has agreed with me. Yet they accomplish this by removing her feeding tube and letting her starve? I’m pretty sure we didn’t even starve the prisoners at Guantanamo, and we were blatently violating the Geneva Convention there. We certainly can’t get away with that sort of thing anywhere else. So why does she starve? Because euthenasia is still illegal in this country, and for no good reason that I can see. How could this not be a shining example of where a simple lethal injection would make a world of sense?

I’m not the firm believer in democracy that our government would like me to be, because I don’t think most people are well informed enough to be making decisions that affect people they’re not in direct contact with farther than 5 minutes into the future. Instead, it seems that the parts of our “democratic” system that the people have the most control of seem to gravitate to the lowest common denominator: i.e. Mr. Bush. Whoops! Did I just mention the president? That pretty much means I have to weigh in with his opinion on the subject, and subsequently show how he’s a blithering idiot. Let’s see… because federal judges refused to hear the Schiavo case citing lack of jurisdiction, Bush rushed back from *gasp* another vacation in Texas to sign some legislation into law because it’s important to have, and I love this phrase, a “culture of life.” And now for the hypocracy! In ‘99 Bush signed legislation in Texas that allows Hospitals to, for fiscal reasons, withdraw treatment of terminal patients regardless of the wishes of the family. This guy makes it way too easy sometimes. What I’m really getting at here, though, is that this is yet another area where the government really doesn’t belong. If I don’t want to be a vegetable, who are they to tell me otherwise? Dubya can have his culture of life, but if it interferes with how I live mine, I don’t dig it, plain and simple.

That was way too serious, so I’m going to end on the Uniblow auto-inflating suit!

Hooray for inflatable suits!

Posted by MrWonton at 3:00 am | Comments (22)

March 25, 2005

Fun fun fun at the Intel gym

I started going to the gym on my own volition. I keep going back mostly because of peer pressure, and that’s a good thing. If someone didn’t keep telling me to meet them there at 5, I probably wouldn’t be there, or at least not enough. Yesterday, after running 45 minutes on a sadistically designed program that involves alternating from jogging to sprinting at one minute intervals till your heart explodes, as well as a few less exhausting exercizes, I baked and ate half a meal that’s supposed to serve 6. Today I can’t straighten my arms (which is carrying over from 2 days ago, when I turned my biceps into useless lumps of jello). If I don’t keep them resting at an angle, and even if I do, I’m in constant pain. My shoulders and back ache. I went to put on my shoes and today and experienced levels of pain I’ve come to associate only with massive blood loss. I think I’ll take a day off. Good times.

Posted by MrWonton at 10:34 am | Comments (36)

March 23, 2005

All the cool people are doing it

I’m flying home either the 21st or 28th of April to get my motorcycle and ride it back here. I’ll be in SH on Friday and Ann Arbor on Saturday. Be at one or the other if you don’t suck.

Posted by MrWonton at 9:48 am | Comments (12)

March 17, 2005

NYC - Finally in Writing

Day One:

Woke up early on Sunday. Ate a delicious breakfast of cheesy scrambled eggs (thanks Stop & Shop for your random weekly specials “spend $25 and get eggs, bread, and toilet paper!”) with salami and packed some lunches. Off to New Haven, CT, the home of Yale University. “Shit! That sign says 24 hour limit!” by which point we were of course comitted to entering the parking garage. Turned around and ended up at the end of a huge line of cars trying to get out. “Uhhh, we didn’t know it was a 24 hour limit, we didn’t park…” “It’s not a 24 hour limit! Just turn around and get a new ticket.” One 12 point turn, one floor up, a couple train tickets and an hour and a half riding backwards on a train and there we were in Grand Central Station. Meaning what? Time to make our first and worst mistake of the trip.

We need a map, so we go to the information booth, and viola, bus map. Don’t see the mistake? We certainly didn’t… Next over to 5th Ave, and North towards Central Park to see the gates that come down the next day, as well as our Hostel. Checked out Gucci; tried on a few jackets and a $3800 shirt, while Derek rocked a $2800 white blazer. The thing fit like a glove since, as Derek pointed out, at Gucci they only make clothes for skinny people. I loved it. The love wasn’t shared though, as when we started taking pictures the guard expressed his dismay with our choice of actions. C’est la vie. On to Armani, Versace, Sak’s 5th Ave., and Tiffany’s.

Saw the gates

About 25 blocks later, we were there. Yes, that guy’s flicking us off. Welcome to New York! We wandered North towards the Hostel and it started to get dark.

A light in the park

We came across an exceedingly well lit nook of the park, and went to investigate…

Sculptures aplenty

Vs Robot??

There were some amazing plant sculptures surrounding a VERY nice looking restaurant with picture windows looking out over the park and their creations. People of all ages were milling around admiring the place in all it’s scenic glory and taking pictures. I went over to the giant monkey pictured above and looked around… it was by far the most popular attraction around, so at no time were less than 20 odd pairs of eyes upon it, with people swapping places below it for pictures ever few seconds. So I grabbed it’s crotch and Derek snapped a picture (didn’t turn out all that great, that kid needs camera lessons, not that I’m the one to give them to him). It was all worthwhile when some woman screamed “That’s obscene!” Yes lady, yes it is.

We’re nearing about 50 blocks of walking at this point in our zig zagging path through midtown Manhattan, and we’re still 20 blocks from the Hostel on 104th, so we decide to catch a cab. Can you say arab? I mean I appreciate a based-in-fact stereotype as much as the next guy but dag, I felt like I hopped into the backseat of Iraq. The guy’s turban was the size of a small elephant.

We make it to the Hostel and our 12 person coed room, at which point it was time to get our asses 78 blocks downtown to get free tickets to an improv comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre! We figured out the subway to get there, and before too long we were waiting in line with some righteous freaks, including one flamer who instructed us to “be safe” after the show. Thanks guy. While there, I picked up some McDonalds and brought it back. The people around us seemed to think there was LSD in our fries. I wished they were right.

The show was awesome. Horatio Sanz from SNL was there. I heckled him not once but twice! He made a bit out of it, pure hilarity. The show was so good I donated a dollar to their donation bucket… yeah that’s right, good enough that a Jew gave them money. Can you get much higher praise than that? If you can I want no part of it.

That thing got messed up

Did some random traveling, mostly looking for subway stations, catching our first glimpses of Times Square. Got back to the Hostel at about 3 in the morning, making it our earliest night in NYC. Everyone else was already asleep, and we proceeded to make as little noise as possible, which equates to waking most likely everybody up.

Day Two:

That thing got messed up

We started off by taking the subway to the Battery and the financial district (Wall Street). You couldn’t get anywhere near the Stock Exchange. Apparantly they’ve stopped allowing tours since Sept. 11… lame. I’d have loved to pull an Abbie Hoffman. The ball above was a sculpture that had apparantly been next to the WTC during the disaster, and had giant ragged holes in it from falling debris. Had lunch at a crazy huge deli-type place which served approximately 4,000 different kinds of food and at any time had about 200 people in 40 different lines. I had the best reuben of my life, and some amazing lobster bisque.

A cross!?

Sobered up at Ground Zero… Still a massive hole in the ground after 4 years. I don’t know about the cross though guys.

WONTON GARDEN!!!

This is America?

Went up through Chinatown and spotted Wonton Garden. I definitely couldn’t resist taking a picture. Bought some green tea. Narrowly escaped catching severe acute respiratory syndrome. It was obviously all around us, and every time someone coughed I would scream “SARS!”. Failed to escape being the only round eyes on the street, which prompted some random old guy to stop in the street, stare at us, and start screaming at us angrily in chinese. I thought of quite a few reasons why he was so pissed off, none of which are worth repeating. Proceeded up through Little Italy, The Village, and Soho.

Looked around a lot for a subway (starting to get very tired of walking by now). Took it to the American Museum of Natural History on the upper west side (79th Street). We were all ready to pay to get in when they told us it would be free in another 15 minutes, so we went to one of the subway exits to chill for awhile. There was a group of 4 people singing and dancing near the subway exit. One had a video camera… They were all foreign. A couple French, I believe one was Israeli, and one was from somewhere else in the middle east. We stopped and watched the outrageous display. Every time I opened my mouth to make any sort of comment, even if only to Derek, the guy with the video camera swung around and shot some breathtaking video of my every move. The girl putting on most of the show was Jewish and singing in Yiddish, which apparantly she didn’t speak, as the one Yiddish phrase I knew soared well over her head. Two of the girls even grabbed us and started dancing for awhile. Totally insane.

It was a cool museum, although it was only open for an hour after it became free. We stayed inside as long as possible trying to rest our feet, but they eventually kicked us out.

Ate dinner at a Sushi place near the UCB Theatre, after searching all over Manhattan for a place even near our price range. We probably walked about 15 miles looking for the restauarant (including several more stupidly long searches for a subway station). By the time we got there, my hair had accumulated about 3 inches of snow, which melted instantly when I walked into the restaurant. I had to shake off like a dog. I had started to really wonder what I was thinking not bringing a winter coat or a hat. Thank god for hot sake. It helped me stop thinking about just about anything.

Next we met up with a girl who goes to U-M, has some classes with Derek, and happened to be in town with her roommates. Where? Karaoke bar in Chinatown!

You GO Derek!

The 6 of us busted out some rocking tunes, including Derek and me murdering “Play that funky music (white boy).”

Born to pose apparantly

Took another trip through Times Square. Got home around 5am. One of the couples in our room had stolen Derek’s pillow, so he had to search around for another half hour finding one.

Day 3:

We started off our day with a little payback that involved taking both pillows from the theiving couple’s bed, as well as our own, and locking them in our lockers. You don’t mess with a random person’s pillow!

Gotta love that skyline

You’re not a good tourist in NYC unless you go up in the Empire State building, so we did.

The UN!

The UN again!

Even more UN!

Had to check out the UN, but we got there just a bit after they stopped giving tours. I’m pretty sure I freaked out one of the guards when I stood around for about 5 minutes trying to take a half decent long exposure shot. Ate dinner in Chinatown, then got some irish coffee and gelatos in Little Italy.

On our way back we traveled down Broadway Ave. since we hadn’t really seen all the sites there. A black guy across the street spots us and books across the street towards us. Just as he gets close, he breaks into song. He sings some weird rhyming song for a bit then asked for change. Yeah, serenaded by a vagrant on Broadway.

On our way back, Derek managed to fail to properly operate the turnstile on a subway enterance, putting his day pass in and pushing without actually being in the right section of the turnstile. The result being he was stuck outside. At least I’ll never need justification for calling him a dumbass.

We again got home after everyone else in the room was asleep, and proceeded to make well directed shuffling and banging noises in the vicinity of a certain disrepectful duo.

Day 4:

We got the hell out of dodge.

Recap in 5 points:

  1. There is no such thing as Manhattan on a budget. Absolutely everything costs money, and it costs a lot more than it should.
  2. We walked, by our conservative estimates, over 50 miles, the vast majority of which were wildly unnecessary. Why? Because we grabbed a damn bus map. Who rides buses? We spent ludicrous amounts of time searching for subway enterances, walking up and down random avenues, and back and forth across random Streets. Had we picked up a subway map at the beginning, we would have been infinitely better off. On the other hand, we wouldn’t have sat in the massaging chairs in Pier One for about an hour, nor in the country music section of a tower records (only part with chairs), nor would we have managed to get into NYU’s amazingly private library.
  3. There was a ton to see and do, but we managed to do most of it in 3 days.
  4. Just about everyone was really nice. Every time we took out our map, someone would stop by and ask if we needed help. One guy stopped, gave us directions, walked about a block away, asked someone else, came back, and gave us some more directions. I’m of the opinion that people in the Midwest are of the least accomidating in the US, and hence the world. This is quite to the contrary of people in Massachusetts. Hence I had hoped to be once again surrounded by my cynical, xenophobic, and most of all rude and unhelpful bretheren. Instead, they just lock the bathrooms. What gives?
  5. New York ROCKS.

There are any number of sketchier, grittier details to this odyssey that are being purposelfully left out, but I have to custom tailor responses so that the extent that any one person knows doesn’t exceed tolerable limits. So ask and maybe you’ll get something.

Posted by MrWonton at 1:10 am | Comments (97)

March 09, 2005

I’m not useless!

One of my changes was checked into the CVS source for one of the tools I worked on today! In other words, something I worked on was included in one of our programs so from now on every time it’s used it’ll include that change. It took nearly 2 months, but I finally have something (semi-)tangible that other people here can look at.

Sadly, it’s probably the most mindless change I was assigned to do, but at this point I’ll take what I can get.

I’m going to post pictures and stories about my trip later today. I’ve been lazy. I played with some pictures and wrote the beginning, but it’s late. I’ll finish up sometime tomorrow.

So my designated driver duties extended both later, and broader than I expected, so I’ll have to finish up tomorrow (although my roommate and I are cooking a homemade feast tomorrow which may take most of my day anyways). Did I say designated driver? More accurately, designated “keep the drunk-ass russian from driving and/or trying to beat up random people and/or Mike Cummins.” Luckily, he eventually passed out on the floor and the cat started crawling on him…

Daaaaamn Dimitry

Posted by MrWonton at 1:42 pm | Comments (72)

February 27, 2005

A justifiable warning

Big Apple here we come…

Posted by MrWonton at 11:26 am | Comments (3)

February 22, 2005

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro

To start off, let me say Hunter S. Thompson, you will be missed. Yesterday, I read an interesting article recounting HST’s associations with none other than George Dubbya Bush.

“He knew who I was, at that time, because I had a reputation as a writer,” Thompson said. “I knew he was part of the Bush dynasty. But he was nothing, he offered nothing, and he promised nothing. He had no humor. He was insignificant in every way and consequently I didn’t pay much attention to him. But when he passed out in my bathtub, then I noticed him. I’d been in another room, talking to the bright people. I had to have him taken away.”

I love it. I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say that I model my life after a paranoid acid freak, but I still like it when we speak the same language. Talk about speaking the same language, today I read that he’s having his ashes shot out of a cannon over his estate. I totally have to do that now. Also, here’s another quote:

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

I went skiing on Friday after work, just a quick trip to a relatively close mountain for some night skiing. The conditions were abhorent, nothing but ice. There were some nice jumps though, which made for some spectacular crashes on very hard ground. I managed to fall hard enough to pop out one of my contacts, as well as lose my hat and goggles about 2 miles up the mountain. Thanks random snowboard kid for bringing those back. Amazingly, the contact stuck inside my face mask, and I got it back in before it froze solid. I did manage to hurt my neck and leg though, so all was not a waste.

Yesterday I finished the 5th Discworld novel (Sourcery). I started the first one right after I got to Massachusetts, and I haven’t really been able to stop. Thanks goes to Brandy for the recommendation.

U-M’s spring break starts this Friday. I talked to Derek yesterday, and he’s going to come by this Saturday, and we’re going to NYC for a few days. About damn time! I’ve been looking for a good excuse to go there for awhile, and this’ll do nicely. It ain’t gonna be cheap though… Goodbye relocation money. Derek did find a hostel for us that goes for about $30 a night, close to downtown, and a block from a subway station.

A group of co-ops from work (read: 6 guys and 1 girl) and I (make that 7 guys and 1 girl) went to TGI Friday’s then went to see Constantine. It is quite possibly the most fabulously good and bad movie I’ve seen in a long time. Keanu Reeves manages to deliver most of his lines like he’s hangin’ ten off the bleached coast of Cali, which doesn’t really fit the almost noir-esque environ of the movie. Regardless, if you don’t take it seriously, and there are plenty of parts to suggest that you shouldn’t (Keanu sitting in a chair with his feet in a bucket of water and a cat on his lap, or perhaps flicking off the devil as he ascends towards heaven), it at least manages to be fun to laugh at. Especially if you have Katrina around jumping 3 feet off her chair when a bus drives by. Yeah, sorry, still can’t get over that bus.

I finally came to turns with the fact that I’m never going to land a role as an extra in Saturday Night Fever and ditched the 70’s throwback sideburns. I’m not entirely sure where they came from in the first place. Besides, I could still be the next Tony Manero, he didn’t sport the ‘burns. “Would ya just watch the hair. Ya know, I spend a long time on my hair and he hit it! He hit my hair.” Yeah, I could do it.

Finally, to top off the random crap, if this stuff comes to market and is cheap, I’ll be stocking up! Talk about a good way to save money… Just start the night off right, pop a couple of the tablets, and enjoy. The MrWonton 3 step plan.
(more…)

Posted by MrWonton at 11:52 pm | Comments (39)

February 18, 2005

Say it ain’t so Koko!

This absolutely has to be true. If not someone has one hell of an imagination.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:54 pm | Comments (47)
 
   

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