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Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
8:27 am - London, England: Coffee Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz
On mornings when I am in a rush and don't have time to make coffee properly, I use instant Nescafé Blend 37. Here's what it says on the back of the container:

Milkman Charlie Sprote amassed 37 wives in a short but full life. He attributed his remarkable stamina to a really full-bodied coffee every morning. This redoubtable character only ever drank one particular blend. So we changed its name in his memory. Nescafé Blend 37, a full bodied coffee carefully blended and dark roasted for a rich aroma and distinctive taste. A Cup of Character that's a lot easier to swallow than this tale.

Maybe it will let me get 37 times more work done today than usual.

current mood: energetic

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Monday, September 22nd, 2008
12:00 pm - London, England: Update
You are a

Social Liberal
(63% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(30% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

current mood: busy

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Monday, August 11th, 2008
5:34 pm - Monterey, CA: Cool at last!
I just drove in to Monterey and it's lovely. There were spectacular views of the Pacific on the road from Santa Cruz, and Highway 17 from San Jose was a beautiful drive through the hills. As soon as I came over the Patchen Pass (at about 1,800 feet), the temperature dropped by about 40 degrees and patches of fog began to cover the road. The air is filled with the smell of woodsmoke and ocean, and I found a coffee shop playing The Ventures.

I like California.

current mood: happy

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Saturday, August 9th, 2008
7:37 am - Phoenix, AZ: How quaint.
It's really nice early in the morning here. A cool 86 degrees, which is quite nice compared to today's forecast high of 103. And I am sitting in a lovely garden, surrounded by trees and birds and lovely plants...

Maybe I should just be nocturnal for the next few days!

current mood: calm

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Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
9:30 pm - London, England: Home early
Yes, I saw the moonwalking bear.

current mood: pleased

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Thursday, June 21st, 2007
9:52 am - Chicago, IL: Calling Mr. Wayne
They're filming "The Dark Knight" (next Batman movie) in Chicago now and when I walk home from work every night I have to make my way through a maze of lighting trucks, dressing room campers, go-carts, cables, lighting equipment, catering trucks, tents and giant signs saying "SET" and "LUNCH" and "EXTRAS REGISTRATION" and "BASE CAMP". It's pretty cool to see what happens when a big movie is being filmed. It's like they take over the city, but in a friendly way.

One of my friends saw the Batmobile driving around late one night, so I think I'll go out later and see what's happening (they don't seem to do any filming until after it gets dark).

current mood: curious

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Thursday, June 7th, 2007
10:32 am - Chicago, IL: The greatest generation?

(From The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation)

Respectable historians have long warned students against "presentism," defined by Word Spy as "the application of current ideals, morals, and standards to historical figures and events." But what about "present-tense-ism," as illustrated by a recent Gallup Poll and described in Diane Ravitch's latest op-ed? Pollsters asked Americans to name the greatest president ever: an astounding 25 percent of Democrats picked Bill Clinton, while a whopping 32 percent of Republicans selected Ronald Reagan. Ravitch writes that to suggest these men "were ‘greater' presidents than George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt is bizarre." Bizarre, but perhaps unsurprising, considering Americans' feeble knowledge of U.S. history. While the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress showed steady gains in the subject (see here), more than half of all twelfth graders were still "below basic." The consequences of this knowledge vacuum are severe. "We can't have thoughtful public discussions of issues," Ravitch writes, "when the public is so woefully uninformed about the past."

current mood: contemplative

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Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
8:39 am - Chicago, IL: Another one...
I can't remember if I posted this already or not :-)


current mood: rushed

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Wednesday, May 16th, 2007
4:43 pm - Chicago,IL: Hah.

current mood: amused

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Sunday, April 8th, 2007
8:01 am - Palo Alto, CA: Happy Easter!

current mood: bouncy

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Tuesday, March 20th, 2007
10:49 pm - Chicago, IL: My new favorite show!
People who can manage people well are super cool.


current mood: cheerful

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Sunday, February 18th, 2007
8:25 am - Chicago, IL: Chicago vs. Everywhere
Since I moved to Chicago, I've noticed a few things. I'll try to add more as I see it. I love the way that moving to a new place opens your eyes to the world.

Driving: Unfortunately, Chicago drivers have a lot to learn about driving safely. Downtown, there is no consistency between cars when it comes to letting people cross the street in a crosswalk. Some let you go, some try to run you over (as happened to me last week). At least in Boston, you know you have to get out of the way, and in New York and London, you know they'll stop. And on the highway, people haven't figured out how to avoid tailgating, which means that there are accidents more frequently on the city's highways then I have ever seen anywhere (even India). I don't think people take any sense of pride or professionalism in driving here. It seems to be an afterthought.

I like the way it snows a lot here. The thing is, there doesn't appear to be a law requiring sidewalks to be shoveled clear, as there is in Boston, for example. What this means is that, even downtown, around the huge skyscrapers full of wealthy companies, there is no way to walk around without trudging through slush and snow. That's fine, because I like snow, but it's a little strange. Even a week after a snowstorm, many sidewalks (and alleys) haven't been cleared. One would expect that in a remote or unpopulated part of a city, but not in the financial district.

City decorations: Chicago beats Boston here by a lot. I really appreciate the way they make an effort here to decorate public green spaces with pine branches and lights. All the plants that are dead for the winter, and all of the fountains that are shut off, get covered with pine branches. So, despite the fact that the downtown area has far less trees and plant life than Boston or New York, it smells and looks nice. They also pay a lot more attention to lighting here. Many of the buildings are beautifully and colorfully lit, and there are light strings on many of the trees. The building colors change according to holidays or sports events, which really help bring a sense of community to the place.

Subway (or "El"): The Chicago "El" (elevated subway system) was an astonishment to me. Essentially, they have built up a subway system over the downtown city streets, suspended in the air between the buildings. If you didn't know better, you would swear it was 1900. It makes the streets dark and foreboding, blocks out light, makes you feel uncomfortable, and creates the most incredible racket you can imagine. It's also extremely slow and uncomfortable to ride. It must make a lot of the buildings uninhabitable (and awful for working). Haven't most places grown up and moved on to more modern technology? The problem is, the city has disagreeable foundations, which means that it is difficult to put subway lines underground. Using an ancient and intrusive elevated train system is not the answer, though. Check out San Francisco or Helsinki: Street-level trains work just fine! And yes, there would be room for them if you took out the ridiculous supporting structure for the overhead rails. Imagine that: More light, no noise, less expensive maintenance and a downtown area that isn't frightening at night. What a concept. Maybe people would even start moving back to the city.

The Train Station: Amtrak has a beautiful station here in Chicago, with a huge and cavernous lobby. It is also completely deserted. In New York, Grand Central (a similar size) is used for restaurants and lounges. Here, the space around the central hall is deserted and boarded up. Instead, passengers are dumped into a system of underground tunnels, where restaurants and stores are crammed together around a maze-like system of escalators. And when you do finally board your train, it's through a decrepit waiting area, to a platform waiting area lined with dozens of broken signs. At least the trains don't seem to be delayed as much as in the Northeast Corridor.

Emergency Vehicles: As you can probably guess, driving an ambulance with the siren on boosts your adrenalin. Driving with boosted adrenalin is not a good thing. It makes you more prone to accidents and bad judgement. Unfortunately, emergency vehicle drivers here leave their sirens on ALL THE TIME, EVEN IF THERE IS NO TRAFFIC (for example, at 3:00 am). Furthermore, they also lay on their air horns at every interesection, EVEN IF THERE IS NO TRAFFIC. I can't tell if it's a lack of understanding about effective emergency driving, or a macho thing. Not only has this kind of behavior been proven to desensitize drivers to the sound of a siren, but it also creates an incredible unnecessary racket. And this is coming from someone who drives emergency vehicles regularly and is used to the sound! Come to Boston. Watch the firefighters drive. They know how to use a siren properly -- only when it's actually needed!

Noise: This brings me to the next point: Chicago is the loudest city I have every visited (and I've been to more than 40 countries around the world). The racket of the elevated rail system, the constant wail of emergency vehicles, the continual honking of drivers to push their way through pedestrian crosswalks, the inability of construction workers to move anything without dropping it from 20 feet onto a hard surface, and just the overall level of sound that emanates from the city... It's all incredibly jarring and unpleasant. New York is like a quiet day at the park in comparison.

The People: For all the things Chicago is lacking, though, the people make up for it. People here are nice. It's that simple. People say "Good Morning", businessmen hold doors (well, most of them) and taxi drivers return cell phones. People here are much nicer than on the East Coast. And that, I suppose, makes up for a lot.

current mood: content

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8:21 am - Chicago, IL: interesting
Karthik says: "People who live in past or future are always miserable. Therefore, live in present."

Diane says: (3:14:29 PM) I wish I had a dog and an espresso :-)

current mood: sleepy

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Friday, December 15th, 2006
10:25 am - Cambridge, MA: From the UK with Love
A Message from John Cleese to the citizens of the United States of America:

In light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (excepting Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new prime minister, Tony Blair, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect (you should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary):
  1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.
  2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters and the suffix -ize will be replaced by the suffix -ise. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up 'vocabulary').
  3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of '-ize'. You will relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen.
  4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
  5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent.
  6. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
  7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.
  8. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
  9. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) -- roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.
  10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
  11. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as Beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
  12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.
  13. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).
  14. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.
  15. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.
  16. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
  17. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in season.

current mood: cheerful

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Friday, December 1st, 2006
10:20 am - Cambridge, MA: global warming
Today is December 1st. The forecast temperature for Boston is 69°F (a little less than 21°C). In DECEMBER. The average daily temperature in December in Boston is 32°F (0°C). And for the entire autumn, it has been much warmer than normal (I don't even know if we've had temperatures below freezing yet). What is going on?!

And for today's amusing Wikipedia entry:
The Iridium satellite constellation is a system of 66 active communication satellites and spares around the Earth. The system was originally to have 77 active satellites, and as such was named for the element iridium, which has atomic number 77. The original name was retained even though the number of active satellites is less than planned (the element with atomic number 66 is called dysprosium, which in Greek means "hard to get at/hard to get in contact with" and thus was unacceptable).
So, in other words, when the Iridium system failed financially, it was really just the Moirae having a good laugh. free web page hit counter

current mood: amused

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Thursday, November 9th, 2006
7:54 am - Cambridge, MA: The Blue Shift
Democrats Win Control of Congress (New York Times)
In a rout once considered almost inconceivable, Democrats won a 51st seat in the Senate and regained total control of Congress after 12 years of near-domination by the Republican Party.

Democrats 'to control US Senate' (BBC)
The final US Senate seat is set to go to the Democrats, AP reports, as defence chief Donald Rumsfeld steps down.

Rumsfeld Resigns; Bush Vows to ‘Find Common Ground’ (New York Times)
President Bush portrayed the election results as a cumulative “thumping” of Republicans and conceded that as head of the party, he bore some responsibility.

Democrats' Wins Embraced Overseas (Fox News)
From Pakistan to Paris, politicians, analysts and ordinary citizens expressed hope that the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives and strong showing in Senate and gubernatorial races would force President Bush to adopt a more conciliatory approach to global issues.

Rumsfeld the wrong man for the times (The Australian)
The likely epitaph on Mr Rumsfeld's career is that he was precisely the wrong kind of man for his times.

Bush diminished as world leader (BBC)
One question after the mid-term elections is whether President Bush's days of major foreign policy interventions are over, writes Paul Reynolds.

With Balance of Power Shift, Democrats Consider List of Changes in Washington (Fox News)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is the first post-election casualty in the Bush adminstration, but with Democrats asserting new powers in Congress come January, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton may also be on the endangered list.

Voters reject South Dakota abortion ban (CNN)
South Dakota voters overturned on Tuesday a state abortion ban that supporters had championed as the best chance to challenge a 33-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing the procedure.

Minnesota voters send first Muslim to Capitol Hill (CNN)
In a political first, a Muslim has been elected to serve in the U.S. Congress.

First black governor for Massachusetts (South African Daily News)
Democrat Deval Patrick captured the Massachusetts governor's office yesterday and with it, a place in history as only the second black governor in the nation since the 1870s.

Massachusetts voters reject proposal on wine in grocery stores (WHDH)
Massachusetts wine drinkers will not be able to pick up their favorite bottle of red or white while shopping for food after voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have allowed sales in grocery stores.

Also of note:

Obama’s New Book Is a Surprise Best Seller (New York Times)
The rapid rise of Senator Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” is something of a publishing stunner.

Democratic resurgence in Washington is no cause for celebration (The Daily Star)
It took six years, but American voters have demonstrated a belated understanding of what people virtually everywhere else have known for years: George W. Bush is a dangerous cowboy who needs to be restrained.

Number of Jewish lawmakers worldwide reaches record high (Haaretz)
Tuesday's U.S. elections brought the number of Jewish parliamentarians worldwide to an all-time high, according to the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians.

Spears sends news to Federline: It's over (CBC)

Pop singer Britney Spears filed for divorce from her husband of two years on Tuesday, citing irreconcilable differences.

current mood: optimistic

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Saturday, November 4th, 2006
8:39 pm - Cambridge, MA: Ghost Subscriber
I discovered that someone has been randomly signing me up for magazine subscriptions. So far, I've started getting The Economist, People, and Men's Health. And I didn't sign up for any of them! Lol. At least I have plenty of stuff to read now.

current mood: calm

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Monday, October 30th, 2006
9:37 am - Palo Alto, CA: Goo-hoo!
I have my Google interview today! I'm excited! I think it's going to be really fun!

Have any of you interviewed at Google? Do tell!

current mood: bouncy

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Thursday, October 19th, 2006
6:09 pm - Cambridge, MA: Kitten Cannon

My record: 1,282 feet of distance (and 179 feet high).

current mood: amused

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Tuesday, September 19th, 2006
11:09 am - Cambridge, MA: Arrr!
Happy International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

In case you didn't notice that LJ has become strangely, um, nautical today.

current mood: dastardly

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