Mobile Meteor

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Getting Ready for Baby

With about two months to go (give or take... that's up to Baby Girl), we've been finalizing our new apartment layout. Thankfully she won't be walking until she's AT LEAST 7 months, so we don't have to worry about childproofing every room just yet.

We've started, naturally, with the nursery... formerly known as, depending on who you ask, "The Office," "The Second Bedroom" or "The Tortoise's Room." Before giving the tortoise the boot out to the living room/dining room/den, I have to move my stuff out. Ah yes, that was the fourth name for the room: "The Room For the My Stuff, Including Clothing." (Don't get me wrong, I would set fire to my clothes if that was needed to make room for Baby Girl... but then I would look pretty silly in the delivery room as the only other naked human.)

Sunday was a very productive day for us, with stops by Lowe's, IKEA and Fairway being completed by 2PM. This was done in one clockwise swoop around northern South Brooklyn, only a few miles, really. We were amazing with how much we managed to get into our new Honda Fit, and it felt a bit like a car commercial.

The biggest purchase was a massive unit called the Expedit, from IKEA. The idea was to place this our bedroom and move all of my clothes into it. I think it will work out, but putting together IKEA pieces can be an interesting experience. I did manage to put this thing together myself even though the directions strongly warn against it (with a drawing of a guy by himself an an X through him). Yet there is no mention of how much easier it would be to have a mallet or a power drill. Happily, I had both a mallet and a power drill. I'm sure a hammer would have worked just as well as a mallet, but mallet's are much funnier.

So the new massive bookcase/dresser/organizer is now in the bedroom. The evacuation in anticipation of Hurricane Baby Girl continues...


and I can't wait.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our New Car - 2009 Honda Fit

My friends and family know me as someone who strongly dislikes cars. Not to the point of randyhate, but I certainly randyhate lots of things that come along with cars:

  • Car alarms
  • Drivers that pass on the right when there's a lane free to your left
  • Tailgaters
  • Responsehonks
Still, with a little one on the way and virtually all of our family living just outside of the city, we needed something that we could use to shuttle around our new, little family every now and then. And so the search began. Extensive research led me to two options: a used, certified Honda Civic or a new Honda Fit. The cost is pretty much the same.

I made my first trip to Bay Ridge Honda here in Brooklyn expecting to leave with a used Civic - probably a 2005 or so. I was surprised to find that the salesmen weren't really working the prices down at all, so I left by subway. This could have something to do with a communication issues: working the used lot was a Russian guy, a Chinese Guy, an Indian guy and an old-school Brooklyner. None of them could understand each other.

This gave me a bit more time to do some extra research, and that's when I started leaning towards the Fit.
  • Both cars score exceptionally well when it comes to fuel efficiency and emissions, though I had read that proper use of the Fit yields phenomenal results. (This is true, more on that later.)
  • Both cars score very, very well in safety ratings. There are so many airbags, these things could be deployed to Mars a la "Red Planet" and land safely.
  • Despite being smaller (four inches longer than a Mini Cooper), it has almost twice as much cargo space as a Civic, even with the back seats upright. (Cargo space matters when kids are involved, I'm told.) 
  • Thanks to the fact that it's smaller, the Fit would be easier to park here on the street in Brooklyn.
  • If, for some reason, we had to sell the car in a few years, we'd be selling an excellent few-year-old car rather than a four-plus-few-years-old car.
  • Finally, the Fit has 11 cup holders. That was the deal-maker.
We've had the Fit for a week... and while we have not used it much, we're really happy with it. So far we have parked in spots that would have been too small for a Civic. On Sunday, we drove from here in Brooklyn, New York, out to Middlesex, New Jersey, and back. The average MPG for the trip was 40. It drove well. It's a good Fit.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I Did Not Run The NYC Marathon

But I did watch some of it. The New York City Marathon hit the city this past Sunday. The runners spent at least some time in each of the five boroughs: starting in Staten Island (Richmond County), through Brooklyn (Kings County), up into Queens (knows as Queens County for some reason), over into Manhattan (New York County) and then a swing into the Bronx (Bronx County) before returning to Manhattan to finish up in Central Park. Marathoners started right at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island. I guess this served two purposes: they got off to a good start heading right into Brooklyn, and they started off fast to leave Staten Island behind them as quickly as possible.

Quite a bit of the Brooklyn stretch is on 4th Avenue, right at the corner of our apartment building. The Mrs and I went down around 9 to check out the early starters. One guy was running on two prosthetic legs... impressive. After a little while the motorcade approached, followed by a low-flying helicopter. Obviously the elite runners were approaching. Sure enough, the elites were right there in front of us. They're not nearly as bad as everyone makes them out to be. Not one of them was munching on arugula, sipping pinot noir or appeasing Europe. I managed to get a shot of the female leaders as well as the males. The winners - Marílson Gomes dos Santos and Paula Radcliffe - are visible, as is Kara Goucher, a Queens native who came in third in this, her first ever marathon.
The neighborhood was really rocking, with local bands and DJs blasting music, Brooklynites and tourists cheering everyone on. And I mean everyone... but doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose? This is a race, right? So shouldn't we have been booing at least half of the runners? Better yet, each spectator, whether or not they know someone running in the race, should pick one runner, sincerely cheer him or her on, and put as much or more energy into deflating the rest of the masses. I think this would make for a very interesting scene.

Later on in the morning and after noon, the runners gave way to "runners," and more spectators were drinking beer as they cheered. By the time the "sweep bus" was rolling down 4th Ave, crunching over millions of discarded paper cups and picking up marathoners who needed some assistance after mile 7, revelers in front of the bar Pacific Standard were enthusiastically cheering for the three ambulances that took up the rear. And a full day of NFL was still ahead.

More pictures here on Facebook or here on Picasa.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Virtual Halloween Costume

Since I will not be partaking in any Halloween festivities this year, I decided to celebrate All Hallow's Eve online. I went with a character from the graphic novel Watchmen, which I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed. 

Digital costumes are so much easier than real-world costumes: no messy paint to worry about, no trips to those horrible seasonal stores (or seasonal sections of the drug store), no shocked responses from the wife like, "You're dressing up as a woman again?!"

So mouse-over the wedding day photo to the left to see me as Rorschach, or click here if that doesn't work. I had to be a little bit ahead of the game... this costume will be very popular next year. Mark my words. Better yet, bookmark this page and come back on November 1, 2009!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Banksy in NY

A couple of year ago I read an article in The New Yorker about an artist named Banksy. The graffiti artist sounded very interesting, and the publication came just a week after I discovered some beautiful graffiti in Melbourne, Australia. Sorry, ma, I know you hate graffiti, but this is different from most of the stuff you despised in the Bronx.

Supposedly, "no one" knows who Banksy is. He started in London, probably, with his anti establishment works around the city. His were far more sophisticated than that of Neck Face, another tagger I noticed in both Sydney and Brooklyn. Banksy's artwork was politically charged, especially when he traveled to other parts of the world, such as a mural of a little girl patting down an armed guard, painted on a wall in the West Bank.

Dana and I happened by a Banksy exhibit in Southampton after attending a wedding. The irony of a young, British graffiti artist displaying his work in a posh beach town is almost painful. Still, his work was sharp and relevant.

This brings us to autumn in New York. After several sightings of large, Banksy-ish murals going up on the sides of buildings in Manhattan, people start to speculate if Banksy's coming to NY. The answer: yes. But these murals were not done by Banksy himself. Instead, Banksy hired (or commissioned) a local artist r nicholas kuszyk from Williamsburg to put up four rat-themed artworks in anticipation of his exhibit in Greenwich Village.

The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill is unlike anything I had seen by Banksy. Word on the street is that someone told him, "New Yorkers don't car about art, they care about their pets." He took it and ran with it, using the pet theme to lampoon American consumerism. What's more, I took the Disney-like simplicity to indicate that he does not think New Yorkers can handle anything too complicated. The exhibit is very amusing, but I think the joke is on us.

But what do I know? I'm no art critic.

If you're looking for a laugh, more shots here on Picasa and here on Facebook.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Going Kubbing

This past weekend we went to Prospect Park for a round of Kubb. I had no idea what it was until I played it. Now I only have a little bit of an idea. Kubb is a Swedish game in which you line up wooden blocks and throw wooden sticks at them. It's nice and simple... the greatest Swedish export since the Ångström sign! Some say the game lacks creativity, but creativity is for the Finnish! So grab some wood, cut it into some blocks and sticks, grab your friends and go Kubbing!

Of course, Kubbing isn't the only thing you can do in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. There was a folk band played for hours. I believe I saw the family picnic across the way having a wheelbarrow race. There was an Asian-American Christian revival, an enormous American flag unfurled across the lawn, a soccer game between the Jamaican-Brooklynites and the Irish-Brooklynites, some dude in his underwear jazzer-sizing and countless dogs being walked by interesting owners. Always lots to see and do in Prospect Park. This was probably the last nice weekend in the park for the year. It was a nice sendoff. Pictures.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Atlantic Antic

Last weekend was the Atlantic Antic, which rocked from just down the street on 4th Ave all the way to the water... all on Atlantic Ave, obviously. The afternoon was full of great food and drink as well as interesting tents from local sellers. (This isn't your typical NY street fair, this is the biggest and best local street fair you could find.) More pictures here.
[Edit 2008-10-13: Link to photos fixed.]

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baby Girl Hurley

Here's a very early snapshot of our baby girl. She seems to have my energy level - kicking around and doing flips day and night. I'm trying to figure out a way to get her a little keyboard (wireless of course) so she can start blogging.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh Man, This Is Such A PickleFest... Let's Get Out Of Here

The Picklefest is sort of old news by now, but I don't particularly pride myself on punctual, yet perfunctory, prose, people. After all, this is a Picklefest we're talking about. Peter Piper, were you there picking a peck? If so, I missed a great story.

Last weekend, in the Lower East Side, throngs of people - that's right: THRONGS of people - streamed along Orchard St. I can't remember the last time I saw a throng of people, but this throng was particularly interesting in all things marinated in vinegar and spices. Despite the mascot being an anthropomorphic, green, pickled kirby cucumber, there were pickled carrots, string beans, ginger, mushrooms, grapes, kimchi and even pickle truffles.

This stretch of road was picked as the pickle place because of Guss' Pickles, which originated on Hester St. Guss' now operates out of Cedarhurst, and the Guss' here on Orchard is a separate business... but still, it makes a good story. And I'm not sure if an entire throng of people would make it out to Cedarhurst for a picklefest. Plus, it was some Long Island guys who were responsible for the Pickle on a Stick. (Sure, it was easy, but did you have to give in?)

There were loads of tasty treats, including masterpieces by the Pickle Master Rick. There was a large piece of wood asking me about pickling in Australia, and I was as honest as I could be. There were distractions, but I found some pickles to purchase. I went with Señor Pants recommendation and brought a tub of pickled back to my pregnant wife from The Pickle Guys. Very good stuff.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's a Stoop?

After my last post, I was asked by a friend to explain what a stoop is. Well, he actually commented on my Facebook status, but this is 2008, so same thing. He's a crazy ninja Scotsman living in Australia, and I didn't think much of it... then I did a little research and found out that the term "stoop" is actually an American English word.

"Stoop" comes from the Dutch for a flight of steps, and in the US it means the steps leading up to a house. Anyone who has seen The Cosby Show, Sex and the City or Sesame Street would know what I am talking about. I happen to have a photo of me and Dana sitting on adjacent stoops here, just to the right.

This reminded me of a very interesting article I read in The New Yorker a few years ago. There's an excerpt here, but thanks to my handy New Yorker hard drive, I was able to reread the entire piece. Absurdly brief summary: Noah Webster was the man behind America's first dictionary, which added numerous commonly used words to relatively "u"-less copy of a British dictionary. This was not well received by the folks on the other side of the pond, but words like "skunk," bureau" and "pecan" were now considered acceptable English in the US.

So it turns out that we Americans are more than capable at inventing new words, not just butchering old ones. OK, maybe we've "borrowed" these words from other languages, such as Native American languages, French & Dutch, but we've given them our own unique spin, and that's what America's all about, right?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stoop Sellin' It

Our friends down the street are abandoning us and the neighborhood for Bed-Stuy next week, so we decided to team up and try to sell our combined crap to strangers. Our collective, steaming pile of crap was so great that we had a line of anxious would-be crap-buyers outside the building door at 9AM. (That's "Sweaty" Ben Butkus and an unknown cyclist pictured to the left.)

After a few remarks loaded with feigned embarrassment ("So sorry all the stuff isn't out yet, there was a line at the coffee place at 8:30AM on a Saturday"), we had successfully shifted several rooms' worth of clutter to the front of B&B's apartment in Boerum Hill. Things were moving early on, but then thing quieted down. By 11AM, we were offering an additional 3% off on selected items to selected Boerum Hill residents. This didn't help much, and soon most of the items were in the Salvation Army around the corner.

More interesting than the sale was the string of characters that came by to chat with us. We discovered the joy of sitting in the front of the apartment... but too late. Our friends will be moving shortly, and our building does not provide the same sort of space, but I'll definitely keep this mind when looking at possible future residences.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Most Partiotic Hotel in the US of A

Written earlier this week:

Some of my vegan, anti-microwave and/or flax-seed-avoiding-cause-it-causes-autism friends damn me for my work travel, but here I am again... in a hotel off an interstate, prepping for the week's meetings. Call me Willy Loman. Actually, please don't.

As I think about how all-American my business trips have been, be they in CN, NM or MN, I realize that this is the most patriotic hotel I've ever been in - at least in Pennsylvania.

Besides the "Liberty," "Independence" and "Freedom" parking lots, we have the front-desk greeting/command "Celebrate America at The Holiday Inn." Factoring in the "We The People of The Holiday Inn" faux-constitution in the lobby, the Sam-Adams-only bar and the National Anthem and "Proud To Be An American" playing while having breakfast in America the Restaurant, this IS the most patriotic hotel in the US.

All photos here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Fierce little buggers! I first noticed stripes on an attacking mozzie down on the Jersey Shore last month. While at a BBQ here in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, I nabbed another in the middle of the day. (Deceased specimen to the left.)

After a little bit o googlin', I found out that these guys are relatively new to the area (90s) and known for feeding in broad daylight. I've given in to the fact that I will spend every summer speckled with bites, so if I get them before dusk, what's the difference.

I do wonder if we'll soon see mosquitoes with spots on them. Or maybe mosquitoes with a peacock-like set of feathers. If we're going to be devoured, the aggressors might as well be interesting to look at.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dear Mr. Maroon Caravan Driver

Dear Mr. Maroon Caravan Driver,

First, let me begin by saying, "Thank you." After my morning shower, shave and application of musk-scented body butter (we wouldn't want anyone to think I wasn't masculine), I was sure I had missed a spot. Yes, I knew that some part of me was not completely clean. As you undoubtedly knew, that part was the entire right side of my body, and as soon as you saw the opportunity to help me, you did. A true Good Samaritan. That oil-laced, brown puddle on Canal Street was exactly what I needed at that time to complete my morning cleansing.

I would also like to say, "You're welcome." I could see the glee in your face as you swerved from the middle lane to the far-right lane to assist me. I feel pride that I was able to provide you with such enjoyment on this rainy, miserable morning. And knowing that your pleasure was derived from delivering aid to a needy person fills my heart with love for the entire human race.

I just wanted to jot down come of these notes for you... to get them off my mind because the burden of debt I feel to you is so great. Now I can get back to my busy Thursday and avoid open flames. Have you seen The Dark Knight yet? Just curious.

The Guy in the Jeans and White T-Shirt on Canal and Lafayette Holding a Useless Umbrella Above His Head

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fingernail 2.0

I don't rant much on this blog, but I have to do so tonight. This occasion is especially sad for 2 reasons: 1. the rant is against my own body and 2. it's quite difficult for for me to type right now.

Why do we have fingernails? I always thought it was because our fingertips are so susceptible to harm, protruding out there more than most of our body... and doing stuff. If so, can someone explain to me why my well-calcified (calcinated?) fingernails can't protect me from a dullish Henkels chef knife? Yes, this knife was wielded by my own (other) hand, but still... I haven't sharpened it in years!

So what happened? I was chopping away at a jalapeno to include in these wrap thingies I would freeze for lunches. I cook and chop a lot, and jalapenos, in my opinion, are among the worst to cut. This jalapeno did what others had in the past: it jumped. Cutting lengthwise, reaching the end, and bam, the thick flesh shifts, finger under blade. I knew I should have got a habanero.

But really, it's not the jalapeno's fault - it's my fingernail's. I used to think my fingernails were so tough. I can't even bite them off! But maybe I just need to reevaluate the strength of my teeth.

Back to the initial point: we need better fingernails. It is clear that our existing units are insufficient, so I am researching fingernail improvements. So far I have designed little fingernail helmets. If you have a better idea, I'd love to know.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Walking to Work

That's my walk to work right there - from the red box (give or take) to the green box (give or take). It's about 4 miles or so, depending on the route I take... so it's a nice way to start the day. Much more pleasant than competing to be the first one out of the Grand St D. On a few occasions, I've taken my camera along to capture some of the interesting sites leading up to and crossing the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges (depending on my route). I hope you enjoy them.

A few samples...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Where Have You (I) Been?

While lack of blog updates seems to indicate I have not been traveling, this is not the case. I have not been touristing much, but I have been traveling quite a bit for work. I have spent three of the past four weeks out of NYC: Albuquerque, NM, Pleasanton, CA, and Eden Prairie, MN. There have not been many opportunities for site-seeing in these exotic locales, but I have learned a lot about traveling for work:

1. You are not allowed to carry a container of liquid larger than 7oz onto a plane. The keyword is here is "liquid." If you really want that 3 liter bottle of Mountain Dew beside you on the flight, simply freeze the contents. Since it is now in a solid state, you're golden.*

2. It's best to be that jerk who's the last one on the plane. Cut it as close as you can. Get to the airport 2 hours before your flight and check in, then find a bar to relax in or a power outlet so you can watch movies on your laptop. Watch the line for security check-in. When you think you have a clearing, make your move. (A "clearing" means the line is nice and short, and your flight takes off in 20 minutes or less.) Your impatience will be palpable and people will let you go ahead when you say things like, "My flight takes off in 8 minutes," and breathe heavily with frustration. (Like going "phhhh" while shaking your head.) After you clear security and board your plane, be sure to apologize profusely to the flight staff and your fellow passengers, explaining "there was an accident." **

3. There are lots of great Web sites to help you have a comfortable stay wherever you go. Here are a few I have found:
An excellent tool for finding the cheapest flights. Best one I have seen.

Find out what plane your flight is on and use this tool to pick the best seat available.

Bare-bones site with many useful tools for those jumping across time zones.

This is a little more elaborate than the excellent Google pedestrian maps, enabling you to find saved running courses, enter your weight, speed and distance to calculate calories burned.

Public Transportation>Public Transportation:
Or maybe there is some sight-seeing to do and you don't want to drive... and it's too far to walk. This links to public transport information for all areas of the US.

Now that you've earned a negative calorie count for the day, use this to find the nearest place to eat. (My Grimaldi's review was Review of the Day on the 26th of April!)

Always a great site to find out what good local beer you should track down and check reviews of brewpubs.

They offer city google maps with bars and brewpubs plotted. Nice!

*I have not tested this cockamamie idea.
**If you follow this advice, you will probably miss your flight, but that's your fault.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Life Of It's Own

This blog entry has spurned a new Web site. It will be interesting to see how this thing grows.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Beth's Birthday Blast

I've been a bit of a slacker lately - too busy working and making up new words - but here are some photos from a fantastic birthday weekend. First we swung by Gutter, then Radegast and Hotel Delmano. A good time was had by all. All always has a good time, ever notice that?

Friday, April 04, 2008


Batmanhead [bat-man-head]
- noun
1.a condition that prevents a human from turning his or her head without turning the shoulders as well.
2.Michael Keaton's head in Tim Burton's Batman.
[Origin: 1989;]

"I pulled something in my neck while reaching for the Cheerios and I've had Batmanhead all day."

*** EDIT: Vote for my new word here: Urban ***

Friday, March 14, 2008

Googling Your Name

Typing your name into Google to see what comes up. This pastime has been enjoyed by many for years. Gosh, it's probably as old as baseball! It's not as fun for someone with a common name... or someone who shares a name with someone who will likely be a saint someday. I fall into the latter of those two scenarios. Thankfully, with a made-up Web handle like mine, it's pretty easy to see if I've popped up somewhere interesting in Internetworld. I've only ever come across one other 'dwarbi.' That was a name on a census document on India, which is appropriate because the sock puppet I made the name for was supposed to be of Indian origin.

If you're still reading, I'm impressed. Everything in the above paragraph is true, but I want to give a shout out to a reader of my blog who complimented me on another site. I've never met this person, who linked to my entry on Düsseldorf. Here's her comment, posted on Trivago.

Si l'en est à croire dwarbi, Düsseldorf est la "party town", une ville de fête. Il lui consacre une page de son site dwarbi's room, narrant ainsi une étape de son voyage à travers l'Allemagne. On y apprendra entre autres un peu plus sur la boisson spéciale servie par ici, sur l'art...

Mais si le texte, en anglais, est simple à lire, ce qui vaut le coup de voir, ce sont les photos sur la page qui s'ouvre quand on clique sur le lien juste à la fin. Les photos, de très bonne qualité s'ajoutent, en tant que photo-roman au texte qui ne devient alors qu'une simple introduction. Aucune publicité ne vient importuner l'internaute pendant sa visite.
Which, using the wonderful Google Translate, I found to mean:
If was to think dwarbi, Düsseldorf is the "party town", a city of celebration. He devotes a page of its website dwarbi's room, narrant a step in its journey through Germany. There will learn among other things a little bit more about the special drink served here, on the art ...

But if the text, in English, is easy to read, which is worth seeing, it is the pictures on the page that appears when you click on the link just at the end. The photos, very good addition, as a photo-novel to the text that becomes a mere introduction. No advertisement comes bothering the user during his visit.
Thanks! (A friend of mine who speaks Google French said this is a compliment.) I love when travelers find the information and photos useful.

(Editor*'s note: Apologies for the infrequent updates. I haven't been traveling much, and my biggest passion of late, besides cooking, has been politics, which I try to keep off this blog. Though I have to point out that it seems no one fully understands the way the Democrats are running their campaign! For example, regarding whether or not Clinton lost a "super delegate" with the resignation of Governor Spitzer, podcast political experts from NRP, Slate and the New York Times have the answer split, with two saying she has lost a delegate and one saying he has not. And was Ferraro officially part of Clinton's campaign or not? I didn't think she was, but from other sources, she was indeed.

So you see, this is why I have not been blogging about politics. There are plenty of other sources to misguide you. Though I am working on a top-secret project that is about neither politics nor name-Googling.)

* That's me!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow Day!

I stuck my head out of our living room window to get a few shots of the first real snow day of the year. It's still in the "beautiful" phase, so we'll enjoy before the snow turns to blackish sludge. 

And me without boots. That's right: no boots. I'm going to have to wrap my feet in sandwich baggies, like I did when I was a kid heading to school, and go buy a pair at Atlantic Center. This is the first tim I've needed a pair of boots in over three years! I guess that means I can get myself a fancypants pair of steel-tipped kickers.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

The 2 Train, 2000

The year was 2000. I was making my way from Brooklyn to my office in Manhattan. It was a Saturday. Yes, I had to work on a Saturday, and that sucked. The 2 train cheered me up. Here's how:

The ride from Bergen to Chambers was uneventful, but a very interesting passenger boarded my car at Chambers. I did not know and do not know if this human was a man or a woman.

S/he was about 6 feet tall and his/her body was just like a very large ball. Kind of like a bowling ball on chopsticks. S/he was wearing a skirt, but s/he also had fairly hairy legs and some facial stubble. On his/her feet were construction boots; s/he had long, braided hair; and s/he was carrying a child-sized pink, semi-clear backpack. The backpack was stuffed with papers, and a pair of hockey gloves were hanging from the side.

S/he was holding a toy stuffed monkey.

Do you have a visual? Good. The train was not too crowded, and when this interesting homo sapien got on the train, everyone noticed while pretending not to notice. S/he walked the length of the car and sat directly opposite me. Between her/him and the next passenger, there was enough room for two more people. The interesting passenger placed the backpack on the seat next to her/him, placed the toy monkey on top, and slammed the backpack into the side of the woman next to him/her.

The woman said, "Excuuuse me!"
The interesting passenger replied, "No! Excuse me! Excuse me! Make room for the monkey, B*TCH! MAKE ROOM FOR THE MONKEY!"

We pulled into Union Square, where I had to transfer to a 1 (or, in those days, a 9), and I exited the train. I did consider staying on the train. To this day, I regret getting not doing so.

*I've recently discovered Yelp and have managed to add a few reviews. I thought this one was worth adding to the blog. What's Yelp?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Planning Our Honeymoon

I've added a little poll to the blog. See it over there? Just to the right? If you're here before March 1, then you can help us decide by submitting your answer. Since this will likely be the last time for a long time that we will be able to go on a big trip, we want to make it something special. So, random passerby, friend or family member, I'd love your thoughts. If non of the options seem good, add a comment! My thoughts...

- Relaxing and exciting, depending on the day
Scuba diving would be a huge plus. And beaches are great... but for a day or so, then it gets boring. A new culture and exotic food also big pluses.

- Can plan it ourselves
So no cruise or all-inclusive.

- Good weather in November
No Caribbean, most of the Northern Hemisphere. Japan would have been great... but too cold in November. Booo on the Sun heating up the Southern Hemisphere when we're not there.

- Somewhere neither of us have been
This knocks out most of Europe. Besides the Big Trip, we've made some separate trips that cancel out Spain, Eastern Europe, Ireland & Greece, among others. All of which could have been good options. I've seen a good deal of the US and Dana's been to Costa Rica already. Obviously Australia & New Zealand are also out.

So we found ourselves thinking about South America, specifically Brazil and Argentina. In Brazil we could check the Amazon before or after doing some great diving and sun-bathing. In Argentina, there are loads of interesting parks and gorgeous places to hike. Buenos Aires would feed us well. Plus Dana's fluent in Spanish, and I can get by. And we also are giving Hawaii a thought. My parents loved it 40 years ago.

Your thoughts, human?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Syd's New Home

Syd, our Russian tortoise, was getting a bit cramped in her home, so I built her a new one. Using these plans as a base, I constructed a 4 by 2 pen for her and threw some wheels on the bottom. Syd seems much happier now, cruising around in circles. Here's a clip of Syd checking things out:

A little more on these interesting animals... they're also called the Horsfield's tortoise. Agrionemys horsfieldii.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Testudinidae
Genus: Testudo (disputed)
Species: T. horsfieldii

Native to central Asia, around the border of Russia and Afghanistan, these war-weary animals are bred in captivity and make for low-maintenance pets. Unfortunately, many are smuggled into the country as part of the exotic pet trade. If you decide to find a Russian tortoise for your household, make sure he or she had been bred in captivity.

Russian tortoises like to climb and burrow. The bedding, made from recycled paper and cardboard, gives her something to dig in, and we're looking to add some more toys for her to climb on. For now, she has to make do with the tunnel and rock from her last residence:

When people meet Syd for the first time, they're always surprised by two things:
1. Her speed. Lightning.
2. Her compassion. She's the most affectionate tortoise you could imagine.

Here she is climbing over her retreat and then doing a faceplant:

Syd dancing - just a bit:

Friday, January 04, 2008