Tumblin'!

<p>Friends,</p> <p>Some exciting news: after 8 years at the <a href="http://www.google.com/">Big G</a>, I'm off! I've accepted a position at <a href="http://www.tumblr.com/">Tumblr</a> to help them build their Site Reliability organization. It's a great fit for my experience at Google, and while I'm very sad to leave some amazing people and technology behind, I think (and hope!) this is going to be a lot of fun.</p> <p>In the spirit of this sort of thing, I've started blogging over on a tumbleblog, at <a href="http://robewaschuk.tumblr.com/">robewaschuk.tumblr.com</a>. I'll try to hook up <a href="http://robewaschuk.tumblr.com/rss">RSS</a> feeds and maybe even port over old content later, but for now that's where new stuff is going.</p> <p>Onwards!</p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

A response from Julia McHugh

<p>Julia McHugh wrote back to my <a href="/blog/story/does-julia-mchugh-of-elliman-misrepresent-her-real-estate-sales">post questioning the accuracy of a post-card she sent out</a>:</p> <p><blockquote> <p>Rob,</p><p> I’m sorry to hear that you and your family had such a difficult time purchasing a home; you are correct, it can be a very harrowing experience. </p><p> You are also correct that I pushed- It is rare when a sale in this set of circumstances ends successfully; there were many times when the towel was almost thrown in but I kept everyone calm & on track.</p><p> I wish that you could know how many hours I spent on the phone with the seller, recommending that we give you first priority and negotiating a price for you versus the much higher list price. I also wish that you had expressed your concerns and prior bad experience with me; open communication is imperative in such a life-changing transaction. After all, how can I address a problem when not given the opportunity? </p><p> Real estate is about creating homes and shaping peoples’ daily lives, not just money - I pride myself on providing a high level of personalized service and take care for each person involved in every deal I do. It does sting that you are so unhappy with me; especially since most of your frustrations stem from (unfortunate) situations that are not related to me. My personal feelings aside:</p><p> The most important thing is that the important parties benefitted from the end result. The sellers sold, and now you and your family have a wonderful home to enjoy for years to come. It’s my hope that this difficult experience will fade as you realize the benefits gained in becoming a homeowner. (I dare mention that your home has already gained in value substantially.)</p><p> Respectfully,</p><p> Julia McHugh</p> </blockquote></p> <p>First: Julia, thank you for the thoughtful and calm reply; re-reading it now, I'm sure that post wasn't all that fun to read.</p> <p>I certainly agree that the arc of our house-purchasing experience coloured things with Julia. The paragraph above that talks about being more open ("...open communication is imperative...") is exactly the kind of thing I had learned <i>not</i> to do with previous attempts; being open about some stuff is obviously beneficial, but being overly open with someone primarily aligned with the seller is unfortunately dangerous – indeed, the law as I understand it would have required Julia to pass along anything material. Presumably I could have done better here, though. </p> <p>We do indeed have a very great apartment at the end of it all, and I've quickly put behind me the stress of searching, offering, getting into contract, getting a mortgage, and closing – some of those steps repeated several times.</p> <p>So, while I immensely appreciate the reply, and I do think my original post was perhaps unnecessarily antagonistic in its stance, I do still think the post card overreached. To address these things, I've re-titled that entry so that it's a little less glaring on Google since that seems disproportionate, and posted a note pointing back here for an update.</p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

VitaCoco vs. Coke vs. Residual Soy Milk

<p>I finally tried VitaCoco, a brand of coconut water which is apparently all the craze.</p> <p>Not only have they managed to convince health and enviro types to purchase what is essentially packaged sugar-water -- Google search snippets say of Coca Cola "Coca Cola 12 oz (355 ml) Can Sugars, total: 39g Calories"; VitaCoco says in 330mL it has 15g, so about 41% of the sugar of Evil Evil Coke -- but it to my tongue it tastes more like the residual soy milk left after eating a bowl of Kashi Go Lean mixed with Mini-Wheats than "like sticking a straw in a coconut" as I was promised.</p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

New York Real Estate is unpleasant business!

<p>A few weeks ago we closed on our condo. Today we got a postcard from Julia McHugh at Prudential Douglas Elliman in the mail, reading in part:</p> <p><blockquote>Announcing a brand new sale<br>Find out how I can do the same for you<br>I am please to announce the sale of [our condo].</blockquote></p> <p>That doesn't seem quite right to me—we moved into this apartment in August 2011 on a six month lease knowing both that the landlords were interested in selling (hence the short lease) and that we were interested in buying. We even talked price range.</p> <p>In September, we had a few agents and assessors come, which I believe included Julia McHugh. We then negotiated a price directly with the owners (but presumably based on the assessment!). The owners told us they were retaining Julia to facilitate the sale since they live far away, but not as a full agent.</p> <p>The card (posted in full below) continues <blockquote> This [condo] sold so quickly, you may have missed it. </blockquote> That sounds an awful lot like Julia is taking credit for what was essentially a pre-setup sale negotiated by the owner, and for a sale that was "so fast you might have missed it" but was never actually listed so "missing it" isn't quite right to my read.</p> <p><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-LMiGRp40dUE/T2E1905z3QI/AAAAAAAALPU/vzUpCXLCsG8/s800/JuliaMcHughPostcard.JPG"></p> <p>Julia did help facilitate the transaction: she pushed hard, and sometimes—in our view—too hard. At one point she said we were near the "drop dead" date for the transaction and I had a conversation (read: freak out) with my attorney and he convinced me all was fine, which it was. Maybe her "encouragement" helped, and maybe it just added stress, I certainly will never know. Interestingly, Julia probably had a perverse incentive: rather than being a light-weight agent, had our sale fallen through she would have been the presumed agent for a full sale.</p> <p>Real estate in New York is a uniquely ruthless business, and for me our saga towards purchasing a house has been pretty educational, if often depressing. There's a weird period between agreeing on a price and actually signing a contract that in principle lasts a week but in practice seems to take a few weeks. During this time either party can back out. Though it's in bad faith, it happens all the time (and indeed, we did it once. It left me feeling tainted by the scuzziness of the whole business, and I was not very happy with myself after we backed out.)</p> <p>Our first two attempted purchases fell through because of this ruthlessness. In the first one, we agreed on a price and then got a building inspector and he pointed out major concerns with the brickwork on the building; when we inquired about they suddenly had agreed to a "full price offer". The second one we were also settled on a price, and also had the building inspector who this time was quite happy about the building, and then they took a higher offer. We lost $1,000 in lawyers' fees (which I was actually really happy about: by the signed contract they could have charged about 6 times that) and $1200+ in building inspector fees, plus time and of course Emotional Distress™. </p> <p>The postcard seemed to top off this entire experience. </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

Old content imported

<p>Not sure if it'll show up in RSS. Also no way to page through it. And old comments not yet imported. And most of the img links are broken. </p> <p>Avoiding linkrot is hard.</p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

The Value of Consistency

<p>This morning Juliet went to grab a coffee & cherry-cheese danish from <a href="http://www.atlas-cafe.com/">Atlas Café</a> a block away. We've been indulging lately 'cause we're out of grinds and I love those danishes (but still not coffee, despite a post-Jane effort to learn).</p> <p>There were none in the display, but they handed a bag to Juliet that they'd set aside, and said they only got a few and didn't want us to miss ours. Awwww.</p> <p>It's not something you imagine when you picture it writ large, but New York is easily the neighbourhoodiest place I've ever lived.</p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

Donations for 2011 with thoughts

<p>This year we donated to (in rough decreasing order of amount): <a href="http://www.greenpeace.org/">Greenpeace</a>, <a href="http://www.peta.org">PETA</a>, <a href="http://www.plannedparenthood.org">Planned Parenthood</a>, <a href="http://www.msf.org/">Doctors Without Borders</a> (aka MSF), the <a href="http://www.redcross.org/">American Red Cross</a> (for general disaster relief), <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/">Amnesty International</a>, <a href="http://www.movetoamend.org">movetoamend.org</a> (which has been working towards a no-corporate-personhood US constitutional amendment), the <a href="http://greenparty.ca/">Green Party of Canada</a>, the Occupy Movement (in its <a href="http://nycga.net">nycga.net</a> incantation), the <a href="http://www.aspca.org/">ASPCA</a> (NYC), <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/">Wikipedia</a>, <a href="http://www.avaaz.org">Avaaz</a>, the <a href="http://www.aclu.org">ACLU</a>, <a href="http://www.transalt.org">Transportation Alternatives</a>, <a href="http://www.350.org/">350.org</a>, <a href="http://www.wbez.org">WBEZ</a> (This American Life, etc), and <a href="http://www.wnyc.org">WNYC</a> (Radiolab, On The Media, etc.). </p> <p>When I decided to go back to corporate-land after a stint in NGO-land while I lived in Toronto, part of my personal <i>quid pro quo</i> was making more money with more sanity—what I saw of NGO-land was disappointing for me—and donating in some reasonable proportion to what I was making; 10% of earnings-before-tax-bonus-stock has been my rough target. This usually lands at the end of the year for procrastinatory reasons.</p> <p>This list of organizations hits plenty of hot-button issues. Maybe someday I'll look back and regret them, or regret talking about them—the Occupy Movement looms large for that one; I'm sure many early Tea Partiers look with regret on what their movement has become—but in general I believe these organizations make my dollars go far for causes I care about. Greenpeace and PETA in particular employee fairly extreme tactics, and yet demonstrate big successes and seem to have clout to simply "scare" corporations and other organizations with the exposure they'll give them which is a sort of second-order efficiency. </p> <p>In reality I have no idea what any of these donations do; it's a pretty pure leap of faith that they make any difference. Sure, I get scads of emails about victories in far off lands helping animals people I'll never meet. We occasionally go to events where these victories are touted, but maybe they would have happened without my money, or maybe they would have happened without the NGO at all. Maybe the NGO attracts so much attention and counter-money to an issue that they're counterproductive; Greenpeace and PETA and Planned Parenthood may all be subject to that.</p> <p>So, it's a leap of faith, but one that I take willingly. I truly believe that MSF rescues children from otherwise irreversible damage from starvation, that Greenpeace leverages large corporations and even governments into being better stewards of our planet, that Avaaz and movetoamend.org are helping to organize "democratic revolutions", that 350.org is a focal force for good in the fight for stewardship of Jane's climate.</p> <p>I believe that PETA and the ASPCA help animals get better treatment, albeit on very different scales. I believe that the ACLU defends important freedoms that are part of the American social contract, and that the Occupy Movement—despite its failings and weaknesses—is well-placed to help move forward certain critical conversations about wealth equality and social justice. I believe that Transport Alternatives has helped build a bridge from New York City's citizens and government (and, yes, drivers!) to its cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.</p> <p>And, most easily of all, I believe that Wikipedia is a great resource for humanity and for me, that WNYC and WBEZ produce excellent podcasts that are entertaining (This American Life), informative (RadioLab and Planet Money) and downright <i>important</i> (On The Media).</p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

To a Fully Vegetarian 2012!

<p>Over the last few years I've slide slowly down a slope of eating more meat. At first it was occasional consumption at big feasts like Christmas and Thanksgiving, and slowly became once a month, then twice a month, then twice a month but the bacon the next morning still counts as all one big meal.</p> <p>I did manage to stick pretty close to being strict on only eating "happy" meat – stuff that lived a reasonably free-roaming, natural-behaviour-supporting, sane-food life – which I'm please about. But these little exceptions have gone too far and taken on a life of their own; Juliet and I have decided to go for a fully vegetarian 2012. Jane's coming along too, but that was probably the case anyway...she doesn't get a lot of say in these things!</p> <p>The only exception we have is travel; a trip for her brother's wedding to Thailand will be virtually unsurvivable vegetarian, we're told. I've always had an exception in my personal veggie rulebook for when travel makes it really hard so that seems fine to me.</p> <p>(For the record, I still think New Years Resolutions are fairly silly; this is more "an easily marked period of time" like "I'm not going to drink for the month of May" than it is a "turning over a new leaf starting on an arbitrary day" kind of thing. Also for the record, I still thing splitting hairs is an engaging pastime.)</p> <p>To a Fully Vegetarian 2012!</p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

Blog implies comments

<p>I wrote up some comments stuff. Please drop a line. It's all very lightweight and unauthenticated so I feel free to delete anything that looks like spam or trolling etc. But I do like comments, so please feel free to post something if you're still reading this!</p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

Jane implies blog

<p>Yesterday, Jane laughed.</p> <p>Today, I finished the blog backend I've been hacking together over the last few weeks, so I could post about Jane laughing. It was one of Jane's first Firsts that I had a direct hand in, and it induced a little proud-father moment for me.</p> <p>Thanks, Jane.</p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

Donuts

<p>I was smiling. And hungry. And breakfast was 30 minutes away. Like a mirage, in the distance, I spotted -- or was it? -- a Donut Pub. Walking onward in the crisp morning, one thing became inevitable.</p> <p>There was a brief hesitation when I realized I had the responsibility to choose all twelve types with speed and accuracy; "Just a mix," I abdicated, "heavy on the chocolate is probably good." I cringed a little as he used excessive amounts of wax paper -- one sheet for every two he withdrew from the trays. Around number eleven, I spied my favourite. "And an apple fritter, please." "Those are a different price," the man behind the counter replied in that uniquely gruff but friendly New York style. "But I'll put one in anyway." Apparently having had his generosity triggered, he proceeded to sprinkle round-dough balls over the box.</p> <p>He closed it up, and began quickly and deftly bundling it up with string. "You've done this before, I see," I smiled. "Too many times" he said with a weary smile.</p> <p></p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

People Watching

<p>At 6th Ave, on the L. The doors sit open; we're blocked by train traffic.</p> <p>A man, seated, perks up surprised and shouts a name muffled by my iPod. He bustles out of the train, gives the named woman a handshake and a hug. A few gestures later the wander off down the platform. Random encounter worth changing plans for? Absent-minded rider-man? Confused meeting point?</p> <p>Who knows. City livin'. </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

City Livin'

<p> "You go to hell! Like yo' motha! You an' you motha are goin' to hell!" -- Angry man yelling at another angry man outside my building </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

The Gentlemen Must Have Pants

<p> Josh and I joined a bunch of my workfolk for a dinner out, and then went with one of them to a bar her friends were at, called (and located at) 230 5th Ave.</p> <p>We walked in the door, a little confused 'cause it looked very residential. Once we decided we could just go through, a an short, elderly man said "Excuse me, ma'am. The gentlemen must have pants."</p> <p>And so we left. </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

Montauk

<p>[Written on the train back from Montauk yesterday morning]</p> <p>I went to bed early last night, depleted from an accidental century from Babylon to Montauk point and with an early rise to catch the only morning train back to NYC.</p> <p>I woke up at 4, then 5:20, then 5:59, just in time to silence my alarm with waking anyone up. I'm on a train now, for which I was short on cash, and rescued by a stranger to the tune of $5.25. He's American, she's Japanese, and they're headed back to Tokyo.</p> <p>The ride was one of the finest I've ever done -- long, good company, gorgeous sunshine (from whence came some good tan marks), 25km/h tailwind, wide shoulders with only occasional rough spots, and a tasty (but overpriced) lunch in "The Hamptons".</p> <p>We got to the campground after 80 miles (ahh! 128km) and were told it was 4mi (6.4 in sane, metric units) to the lighthouse. Off we went! 10 miles (16km) later, we got there. Surreptitiously, we had celebratory beer on the rock beach (which had awesome surfing waves, except that each of which ended up with death on some hidden rock).</p> <p>By the time we got back, a century was completed. We collapsed, took off our most uncomfortable clothing, then began eating everything in sight. This was a supported ride, in that some other folks had driven and trained down with our stuff, which was lovely.</p> <p>I feel super-awake this morning, with only minor soreness. Still going to nap my way through the train ride, though. =)</p> <p>Hurray summer! </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

I went to the Bronx!

<p> You know sometimes if you haven't called your mum in a while, and you know you need to catch up, you feel like you need to find a good chunk of time before you pick up the phone?</p> <p>Yeah. Blogging's like that too. But too bad. </p> <p><a href="http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2862515">I went to the Bronx!</a>. By bike. On Monday. Just barely went over the bridge to touch down, and then came back. I've now finally been to all five boroughs, four on bicycle, two only to touch down and return (Staten Island ferry being the other one.)</p> <p>Two more parties, a bunch more cycling, been across the Williamsburg bridge, ...[looks at last entry]...oh boy! Been to California by bus (64 hours. Not that crazy.) for three weeks of couchsurfing and working..then flew back. Went wine-"tasting" while I was there (I was the designated drinker). Lost my iPhone, started using my gPhone, started <em>liking</em> my gPhone a few weeks later, had my team shuffled a bit at work, and many other important things I'm forgetting. Oh, had a friend and his gf visit from Germany, had <a href="http://paulschreiber.com/blog/">Paul</a> come for a few days, and Josh is coming this weekend and my parents are coming next weekend. D was here somewhere in there, too. =) </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

48 kilometers

<p>I rode to what seemed to be the north end of the West Side Trail today, at about 155th St. I'm not sure if it actually was, but the path turned to dirt. Incidentally, that means I've now been to the Bronx, though I didn't realize it at the time. The transition between neighbourhoods as you go along the trail is palpable: on the Upper West Side there are lovely benches and nice wide spaces; through other parts there are people playing basketball on courts tucked under overpasses. Sometimes the path was side and split between pedestrian and cycle/roller traffic, and sometimes there was a half-meter wide pedestrian "lane". </p> <p><a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/album/aYG32vlKF3cES9Ec4WSiVqNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0#"><img class="right" src="/images/website/IMG_7698.JPG"></a>I had my first proper random encounter with someone I know, while cycling back down the path when I bumped into someone I'd met two nights before. Wait, actually, second random encounter, 'cause I met her after randomly encountering two friends at the cinema. It's almost like I live here.</p> <p>The return over the Brooklyn Bridge was by far the worst I've ever had, with people leaping out in front of me and not looking even when they were walking facing me. I accidentally scared one older woman ('cause I didn't realize she was older) who was walking right towards me as I yelled and gestured and she noticed rather late. Oops. It was my moment of being a jerky New Yorker, though only by accident.</p> <p>Tonight I had a long chat with the founder of <a href="http://www.ecosanity.org/">EcoSanity</a>, a Toronto-based organization that I like a lot for their uncompromising spouting of the truth, and their attempt to push the term "Climate Emergency" into the public consciousness. As an act of support I'm going to start using the term.</p> <p>Yesterday I had a Pi/Pie party for <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10194354-38.html">Pi Day</a> and that was pretty good. Less than half coworkers (partly because of lots of spouses [spice? spousen?]), which is good. I think people had a good time, and hopefully there's some momentum building. I really need to do something course-like to extend my social range, though. Maybe I'll go back to Yoga for a bit.</p> <p>On Wednesday I went to see "<a href="http://www.vampirecowboys.com/shows.htm">Soul Samurai</a> and it was totally excellent &mdash; the kind of stage show I like the most: slightly edgy, cheap and innovative, funny and well-acted. There was an incredible amount of stage fighting, which I think people fail to appreciate in this era of special effects.</p> <p>A very New Yorkey week, with a sprinkling of Toronto. </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

18 Degrees Celsius

<p> Freedom is spelled b-i-c-y-c-l-e.</p> <p>Weather warm enough for shorts is awesome. So is sitting in the park with my sis &amp; nephew. I've never wanted wintry weather to go away as much as I do right now. (My knee still seems sub-par from a run two weeks ago, but I think I'm going to ride home sometime this week anyway and see how it goes.)</p> <p>24 hours of oncall and no pages so far. And a clean-ish apartment to show for it. Oh, also, I finally have a reasonable approximation of curtains in my bedroom, to replace the unreasonable approximation made of string and the squishy wrapping bag that my TV came in. It only took me 4 months, people.</p> <p>Baingan bharta (= Indian eggplant curry) under preparation.</p> <p>'sgood. </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

Experimenting with Schedules

<p> On Monday, I got back at 7:25 on an overnight bus returning from a trip to my parents' place north of Toronto. Straight to work I went, in by 8am (and in time for breakfast at work like a spoiled weenie) for the first time ever. I left at a reasonable time mostly 'cause I wanted to go home and shower/change after an overnight bus trip. </p> <p>Tuesday started with a 7:50am wakeup from oncall who wanted a bit of help. I'm the lead for my team now, so this kinda falls to me automatically. Dealt with that, and got in to work in time for breakfast again.</p> <p>By Wednesday I had decided this was a habit, caught breakfast despite catching the train the wrong way for one stop thanks to confused signage at my under-construction subway stop. (Yes, dear reader, I'm sure it was the signage and not me that was confused. One stairwell said "Manhattan/Flatbush" (i.e. two different directions depending on which of the two tracks down that stairwell you got on a train) and the other said "MANHATTAN" in big letters. Not wanting to get confused, I went down the Manhattan stairs, and got on the first train that came, which was headed for...Flatbush. Wednesday night the power went out. In the old days, I'd like up a candle and do in-the-dark things. But these days as a fancy pants oncall must-survive-everything guy, I have a laptop with a spare battery and a 3G/EVDO USB wireless internet magic. By 10:30 my first battery was dying and I didn't want to dig into the second one, so off to bed I went. </p> <p>Thursday's commute was brutal: too-full trains that you couldn't get on, slow, and generally unpleasant. This is what happens when you sync your clock with the other 8 trillion people here, though I'm not sure why it was so much worse than Wednesday or Tuesday.</p> <p>Today (Friday) I got up early and I'm trying to work from home 'til 9:30 or so, when things should calm down. I'm not sure if it'll work, since I've mostly been reading blogs and..err..writing blogs. </p> <p>Despite the fact that this week's experimentations were mostly the product of serendipity, it's good because my commute is really bugging me. The narrative right now is that I'm waiting until I can cycle for about four weeks straight, and if I still don't like my commute then I'm moving closer, either in a closer part of Brooklyn or more likely into Manhattan. That will take a while, since I have to find a new 'hood, weasle out of a lease without losing deposits, etc. </p> <p> </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.

Pollan on Vegetarianism

<p> In <a href="http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php">Omnivore's Dilemma</a>, Michael Pollan has this to say about his dabbling in vegetarianism: </p> <p><blockquote></p> <p>What troubles me most about my [recently adopted] vegetarianism is the subtle way it alienates me from other people and, odd as this might sound, from a whole dimension of human experience.</p> <p>Other people now have to accommodate me, and I find this uncomfortable: My new dietary restrictions throw a big wrench into the basic host-guest relationship. As a guest, if I neglect to tell my host in advance that I don't eat meat, she feels bad, and if I <em>do</em> tell her, she'll make something special for me, in which case I'll feel bad. On this matter I'm inclined to agree with the French, who gaze upon any personal dietary prohibition as bad manners.</p> <p>Even if the vegetarian is a more highly evolved human being, it seems to me he has lost something along the way, something I'm not prepared to dismiss as trivial. Healthy and virtuous as I may feel these days, I also feel alienated from traditions I value: cultural traditions like the Thanksgiving turkey, or even franks at the ballpart, and family traditions like my mother's beef brisket at Passover. </blockquote></p> <p>I wrestled with my novel dietary changes a bit, but ultimately aimed for (and nearly succeeded at) a vegan Christmas dinner with my parents where I'm comfortable cooking for myself and no one is going to feel bad, but folded entirely to the traditional twelve course Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner with my extenda-fam, where opting out of the perogies would have been exceedingly poor form.</p> <p>I think that vegetarianism is common enough, at least among my friends and family, that I don't really buy his argument &mdash; it's not very often that I'm the only veggie at a party, and even if I am veggie and it happens that I forget to mention it, I don't think anyone feels really bad about it. But that's just social context &mdash; I think if you apply what he's saying to veganism or my <a href="/blog/life/nyc/shrinking-feet.html">special flavour</a> of diet does seem like an imposition.</p> <p>This is a weird line to walk; if I've decided that, for my day to day life, supporting conventional American factory farming is untenable, why would I let that slide? And yet, these traditions <em>are</em> important, and especially with the recency of my shift it hardly seems fair to induce this breakdown in the host-guest relationship that Pollan speaks of. It's a quandary that I resolve ultimately via social expedience but the rubric of this traditionalism is moderately more satisfying, though Pollan himself doesn't really resolve the issue.</p> <p>Wow, that last sentence was rubbish.</p> <p><hr></p> <p>In other news, I had a nice, relaxing Christmas &mdash; the quietest one I've had ever, I think, though my sister and her family arrive tomorrow to add the requisite snow-playing and children-screaming to the holidays. I got a bunch of kitchen- and food-related stuff, which is most excellent. </p>
Name
This is what will show up as the comment author
Potato
Type in the word 'potato'. This is advanced anti-spam technology.
Comment
I might delete your comment for reasons including spam, annoyance, things I wouldn't want my mother to read, ruining surprises, etc. That said, I do love receiving comments.