Friday, January 30, 2004

Snotstorm, Jinx magazine

So the weekend is here. Overall I had a great week at work

I worked incredibly hard over these last few weeks, mostly because I feel I've lost my love for being there. And I got sad after S left in November. It's been a hard adjustment for me to work for A, and I think it's hard on her too because I'm not the 100% perfect person for this job.

But this week and last week -- these were great weeks. Salad days. Aaah. Yes. Salad.

I'm getting incredibly psyched for this Super Bowl, although compared to two years ago I haven't written much about football. Two years ago I was all about the football here in this journal. I couldn't shut up about the Patriots. Now they're going again, and I'm giddy as all get out about them. I looked back on my journal entry from 2 years ago when Ben and I went to Boston for the rally welcoming the team back. I still can't get over the fact the jumbotron broke.

So I'm psyched for one of my favorite teams to be here (face it, if it's the Steelers, the Pats or the Packers I'm a happy gal). And I'm excited about the commercials (there's a Simpsons commercial) and... the food.

I've got to go to the super market and get some good munchies for the big game. Any requests?


We do a lot of reading around here, all four of us, especially Doug. Lately I've been reading a book that he picked out for himself... I didn't know that I'd get as sucked into it as I have.

It's called "Invisible Frontier" by the writers of Jinx Magazine. Jinx is an online magazine/community dedicated to urban exploration. The invisibles beneath our feet, around our bodies and over our heads. The infrastructure of urban areas which people often times don't know about or don't realize the history surrounding.

One of the more popular articles features Agent Bleach who for his first Jinx assignment rode the NYC subway system for 24 straight hours.

"Invisible" Frontier takes you from the depths to the heights of the leviathan of New York City, in the adventures our intrepid explorers waged during the summer of 2001.

Yes, NYC, the summer of 2001. Right before Sept. 11th. Which is very key for how wonderful this book is, as Jinx has suspended a great deal of its explorations, stating as a preface to the book:

"Jinx has ceased its unlawful trespassing activities for the duration of the present period of war and heightened alert in the United States; though neither odious nor evil, the activities of urban exploration create the hazard of false alarms and could possibly divert police resources from serious matters. Obedience of just laws is not a private matter. Every crime undermines our safety by making the staggering task of law enforcement harder in this period of terrorism and war."

Each of the urban explorations in this book, from the Croton Aqueduct to the top of the George Washington Bridge, all happened before Sept. 11th when sneaking around Manhattan in dress clothes and dark sunglasses meant you were strange but not suspicious. After all, it was New York City. People are weird. If a group of seven comes into a coffee shop in the middle of the night dressed to the nines and covered with mud, it's peculiar, but not perilous.

Having grown up on Long Island, I knew there was a lot of NY history that I either slept through in the public schools or I simply had forgotten, or, as the case probably was in the 70s and 80s, certain aspects of history were passed over and we got to read Walt Whitman poems over and over again. (Don't forget, "I hate you Walt Freakin' Whitman! Leaves of Grass my ASS!")

So I found this book fascinating, mind blowing... it is a collection of stories about urban exploration with clear historical documentation as to why each of these locations is.

One of the most chilling little passages in the book is in the chapter about North Brother Island, and the 1904 wreck of the General Slocum.

Reported by L.B. Deyo, he writes:

" 'Hey, mister!' Twelve-year old Frank Perditsky busted into the bridge. 'The boat's on fire!' "

"[Captain William] Van Schaick shot the kid a glare, the fixed his eyes back on the river. He wasn't going in for pranks, not now, with Hell Gate churning in front of him. 'You shut your trap,' he told the boy. 'Get out of here.'

"It was ten more minutes before Captain Van Schaick learned the truth. By then the fire was out of control, burning hay and fuel oil, spitting a column of black into the sky. 'Full speed,' he ordered, scanning for a safe berth. He had already Left Manhattan behind; here the river threaded the Bronx and Queens. There were piers along both banks, but they were too dangerous, crowded with lumber and other flammable materials. He made a decision. 'Put her on North Brother Island.' It was just a mile ahead.

"The acceleration whipped flames back along the length of the Slocum. The crew panicked. Old cork life preservers dissolved in the brine as the first passengers leaped over-board. For years the owners of the General Slocum had ignored safety requirements and training; the lifeboats were bolted to the sides of the ship, the fire hoses were rotten. Now the burning decks swarmed with children.

"North Brother came into view. It was a good choice - it had a ferry slip pier, and it housed the brand-new Riverside Hospital. They were seconds away when Van Schaick made his error.

"Something caught his eye in the Bronx, and he decided to head there instead. A moment later he thought better of it and jerked the wheel back toward the ferry slip on North Brother. The Slocum was going too fast for that turn; it broke the ship. Passengers were thrown across the upper deck into the guardrail, carrying it overboard.

"The river boiled. Oily flames spread across its back, stewing the dead and dying. Currents battered the survivors as they swam, hauling them out to the deepest draught of the river. One boy was pulled into the water wheel. Some men returned to the breached ferry to search for children, and they had the clothes burned off their backs. Those who touched the walls fused their skin to the paint. Rescuers rushed to the scene; some fought to save lives, others robbed desperate women before helping them ashore. A few prisoners from nearby Rikers Island actually escaped so they could help in the rescue.

"It remains, in the summer of 2001, the worst disaster in New York History. One thousand twenty-one persons died. As night fell, the doctors and nurses of Riverside Hospital laid out some six hundred corpses along the grassy shores of North Brother. As they worked, these doctors and nurses knew they had seen an unprecedented catastrophe. They didn't know that just three years later a new trouble would touch their shores, a trouble to eclipse the wreck of the General Slocum. A patient was coming to North Brother Island, a patient who would bring a hundred years of infamy."

-pgs 158-159

And, of course the patient that came to North Brother Island was Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary.

And of course, less than 100 years later New York's worst disaster was eclipsed by the fall of the World Trade Center, upon which Jinx unfortunately was not able to plant its flag.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this -- it's funny, it's enlightening, it's chock full of historical fact (tell me who designed the Croton Aqueduct. Anyone? Anyone? Okay then, tell me the names of the painters most prominently featured in the Freedom Tunnel. Anyone? See. I thought not). If you enjoy New York, if you enjoy history, if you enjoy geocaching, hunting, treasure finding... if you think that exploration isn't dead on earth and strictly reserved for Mars and the moon, please get this book. Read the content in jinx magazine online too. Enjoy.

And in closing -- a funny. The woman over the cube wall from me started laughing hysterically this morning. I asked her what was so funny. She almost couldn't get it out.

"I was typing an email and I typo'ed something," she said. I started to laugh, trying to figure out what could possibly be so funny. So I asked her to tell me what she typo'ed.

"Well, I meant to type 'snowstorm,' but I didn't. I typed, I ... typed" she's laughing again. I'm laughing too...


"You typed 'snotstorm' instead of 'snowstorm?'" I asked, laughing. Yes. So the two of us laughed our asses off. I had a picture in my mind that aside from possibly a shitstorm, a snotstorm would be the worst place on earth to possibly be.

So kids, with this -- I urge you. Stay out of the snotstorms of life. And have a great evening.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Across the pure parabola of joy...

I have been trying to get Doug to start a weblog. The man has some amazingly funny stories to tell. He comes home from work and makes me guffaw with glee as he shares tales of nursing home employment.

But he won't commit. And the blogsphere is so missing out on what could be the second best blog ever (Mr. Garfield's blog would be the hands down greatest ever were he to at least sign up for free blogging at Journalspace).

If Doug ever does cross into the seventh dimension of cyberspace, I want him to name his journal "Across the Pure Parabola of Joy." It is a line from a poem by a haughty Canadian poet character in a P.G. Wodehouse story.

Everyone wants to know "what is a parabola exactly?" And, of course, he can't exactly explain it. (But can! Click here to find out what a parabola is and how it possibly can be... joyous?)

As the story moves on, someone decides to pretend he is this poet so he can gain access to a house and steal a necklace... so it gets even funnier when people start grilling the imposter for reasons why he wrote certain things.

We just think that the pure parabola of joy is funny. It's funny to say outloud, pretending it's something important whilst sweeping arm wide and looking towards the horizon.

So P.G. Wodehouse.

There isn't much to report today. Just one and a half funny anecdotes.

I went to the drug store at lunchtime today to obtain certain feminine products for my personal consumption and for my daughter (yes, she did, she did start her period and that's an issue for me not to discuss here. She'd kill me if she knew I'd even mentioned it).

As is my wont when I go to CVS, I buy chocolate for the basket in my office. Usually three assortment bags of ... whatever chocolate strikes my fancy. So I did just that and approached the register.

And I am standing there with a huge basket load of tampons and pads, and three giant bags of chocolate.

I look down as I put it all out on the counter and think to myself, "Gah, that looks desperate and crazy, doesn't it?" and I start laughing.

The girl ringing me up looks at me funny (as do most people when I start laughing for apparently no reason) and I say "Yeah, this looks bad, eh? Forty dollars of feminine protection products and thirty dollars worth of chocolate. You must think I'm in a bad way right about now."

"Oh, we don't think about what the customers are buying ma'am," she states, "We're not here to judge."

I was surprised. She didn't smile and say "Uh, yeah, that does look funny." Or perhaps, "Oh, yeah. I know how that feels!"

She got all corporate and semi-preachy at me. And you know what, it broke my heart.

I'm sad that so many people have no sense of humor.

No parabola of joy (she says, sweeping arm wide with hopeful gaze to the horizon of the cabinets above the PC monitor).

I'm hoping that one or two of you, even the guys out there, found this funny and picture me laughing at myself while standing at the counter with an armload of two distinctly different yet inter-connected products.

And for your information, the Chain Supply Manager ate the most chocolate. He's a chocoholic... for chocolate! Again, stealing from the Onion.

Us girls did indulge, but not like this guy! He wondered if you ate 10 pounds of chocolate would you gain 10 pounds. We spent time theorizing what it would be like to eat 10 pounds of lettuce. You wouldn't gain 10 pounds because of the caloric value of the lettuce.

Depending on the caloric value of the Reeses mini peanut butter cups (my personal faves) we figured you may not gain 10 pounds, but you certainly would get sick as hell and puke, so you'd perhaps lose weight in the long run.

I invited him to try out his theory. He said he'd rather continue loving chocolate and never get to the point in life where the sight of it would cause him to recall a horrible day where he puked 10 pounds of chocolate up.

And I'll leave you with that unpleasant image, but let it be known, we were laughing heartily.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Category Zero Kill Storm; Real and unreal world

After starting out as a category four kill storm at the beginning of the
week, the forecast for snow slowly dwindled, down to category three,
category two, and then pretty much didn't materialize into anything at all by this morning, at least for the North Country here.

I went to the market yesterday with Geoff, we were out of the usual Milk and Bread staples with or without storm, so a trip was necessary. I was pleased to find the market not overcrowded with panicky people grabbing every loaf of pumpernickel and bottles of organic soy milk because the store brand varieties were wiped off the shelves completely.

We had a wonderful time in the market, but Geoff chastised me for singing and dancing. A few short months ago, he would have been singing and dancing with me.

I'm disappointed in this change in him.

Jessica has a role in the school play. A total of about five lines, but
they're funny and as always will be delivered with the best timing, diction and skill.

I had hoped she'd get a larger role. I mean, people around here are still abuzz about her performance five years ago in the first grade class production of "The Magic Fish," where she played the fish. And she played it like no one has played a fish since Darryl Hannah in "Splash."

I'm slightly disappointed that she didn't get the role she wanted -- the Evil Real Estate Agent -- but she's got a good role where she can crack wise and get a laugh. Rehearsals are after school, and today she's there until five pm. This has given me time to be with Geoff by myself. And I'm greatly enjoying that time.

As much as I love my daughter, I can't help but wonder what kind of person he may have turned out to be at this point if he were the first born. It's so much easier to be with him and talk to him when she's not there. While I've always love the concept of siblings, I can't help but think, gee, there is something to having an only child.

But overall, when she gets home from play rehearsal, he's happy to see her, and it is two less hours in a day for them to spend together so they don't reach their critical mass until right before bedtime, or... at all.

This morning I totally thought the kids would be bent out of shape that there wasn't a delay of start for school. Jessica was surprised to see no snow out there, but didn't react. Geoff totally forgot that there'd been a forecast for snow in the first place. We were initially to get 5-7 inches of snow between 2am and 7am... but we got zilch and neither of them reacted negatively. They got ready for school without incident.

I, on the other hand was pissed as shit that we didn't get at least something to muck up the roads... I could have used an extra hour, 90 minutes, two hours this morning to get ready slowly as I'd stayed up horribly late watching... Real World San Diego.

Episode four the other night and I got sucked in. ZSSSSHHHHOOOOOOOP. Can't you hear it?

What is wrong with me? Again, confessions of a 37 year old Real World fan... we've been through this with me before. I'm like a chocoholic, for booze... and Real World (to totally steal from "The Onion," another of my great addictions).

What the hell is wrong with this cast? Brad? Robin? Drunk fools. Randy thinks he's Ashton Kutcher. Frankie is afraid of large metal objects like buildings and cruise ships? Oh dear. Jamie's cute but those Ugg boots have GOT to go, and what kind of a name is Cameran? Uh? All I can think of is Kodak.

Each year I pick a cast member that I cannot live without. I didn't find one in the Paris cast. I hated them all and stopped watching. I was sick of Ace being all "Ace on Nine" and frat boyish, Leah was too Long Island for me. I thought that CT was so Bostonian but also kind of... Gallagher brothers in his speech and appearance that it made me sick to my stomach. What was with that hair?

This year, I've found my cast member to love. Thus far, it has to be Jacquese. He's the only person in the house I enjoy hearing from and watching. I felt how uncomfortable he was with the whole "nigger" situation, and I absolutely LOVED that he called his mother in the middle of the night and she gave him the best advice.

You know me -- always impressed when the mom isn't a total psycho.

I love how she talked him down, and made him see clearly that I thought his "Free Brad" sign on his sweatshirt was hysterically funny. He brought the protest and the Black Power to his white imprisoned brother, and the cause grew. Pretty soon, everyone in the house had "Free Brad" taped to their shirts and drunk Brad dried out in a cell and no one knew where Robin was, but she also was in lockup for battery.

And, of course, the Real World/Road Rules challenge of the Gauntlet just finished up last week and those pimpy pushers of Eye Crack have put together yet another broadcast to cause me to lose sleep -- the Inferno. Damn if the Gauntlet didn't just finish up and they're serving up yet another slab o'pie for me. Jerks.

So you know where I'll be. Watching MTV. I'm getting too old for this. Gah.

Well, some snow finally fell. Not enough to warrant any school closings or to slow traffic. Just enough for all the grey crappy dogpissed snow to get covered nicely. Everything has such a nice, fresh, clean look to it. For the dogs to poop on.

Right then -- time to go get Jessie from play rehearsal. More later folks. Have a gorgeous day...

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Hijacked PC

Voof. Am I having a combination bad and good week all at once.

Good stuff first, because it's important to always think the good stuff first. Best foot forward and all that.

We had a wonderful Birthday Cake Week. Wednesday night Geoff picked "Not Your Average Joe's" for his dinner location, and we ate a wonderful meal of happiness there. Our waiter was kind of a dink though... tell a guy twice that it's someone's birthday, and you'd think he'd "suggest" or take it upon himself to bring the birthday boy's dessert with a candle in it or something. No. He didn't ... so we are glad we did cake, candles and ice cream with Auntie lee lee on Sunday.

Yesterday we had a party for him -- 15 total kids. It was scads of fun and absolute chaos. We played musical chairs, in which Geoff showed his incredible poor loserness and Jessica was the best music director using that pause button at all kinds of unexpected times. Our neighbor E won two out of the three games of musical chairs -- I was quite proud of her. We also played Hot Potato, but with a stuffed lobster, so it became Hot Lobster.

And "Pass it on" is always a great game to play with first graders. I started both the sessions and the sentences were fairly simple, but by the end had "butt" and "fart" inserted into them by naughty first grade (cough Geoff) boys in the middle of the chain.

My neighbor took it upon herself to make a cake. She called this morning and I told her I was picking one up at the market bakery... she insisted on baking for me. So she made white cake with white frosting and shaved Hershey's chocolate kisses for a covering. It was quite nice and no matter how hard I insisted that she not do that, she did it... it was beyond kind. And we had good ice cream to go with, and the kids were mentally insane by the time the party was halfway through.

Cake and ice cream mercifully took almost a half hour, and then we did presents. The kids were fighting over which present would be opened next. Geoff was sort of overwhelmed, and one of the moms played secretary so I could clean up the cake and ice cream (thank you wherever you are tonight Mrs. D).

We had a half hour to kill, the kids were mentally deranged from all that sugar, so we played Simon Says, only I used the lobster to do "Lobster Says" and the kids loved that (even though Doug thought it was stupid). Doug blew up all the balloons that I got and didn't have time to blow up, and each kid got a balloon. That ate up the rest of the time, and they all invented fun games to play like "how long can you keep the balloon up in the air without dropping it?" Everyone knows and loves that game.

The parents were pretty prompt in coming to pick up, and everyone seemed to have a super time. I was glad to have had them...

And I'm glad that I don't have to do it again any time soon.

The bad side of the week is something that maybe one of you nice people out there in the blogsphere can help me with.

We have been hijacked.

At least, our Browsers have been hijacked.

On Thursday night, Doug went to log on the PC and both Netscape and Internet explorer are not working.

The Address Bar at the top of the screen shows the URL, but the screen never changes. We can put in, or or and the screen stays the same.

The next morning I called our ISP. They stated that they weren't running anything that would require us to put in our phone number, and that it had nothing to do with them. They offered no solutions or suggestions. Thanks, asshats.

I run Norton antivirus, latest DAT loaded on 12/31/03. It doesn't find anything. I go to retrieve the latest DAT because I'm sure there is a new one, but Live Update won't run. I'm thinking that whatever has my Browsers by the shorthairs also has my NAV. Great.

I called Gateway.

I have always loved the tech support at Gateway. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable, friendly. It's one of the reasons I bought the computer. When I worked at the college we had a contract with Gateway, and they always impressed me with how well they did their thing.

But now, Gateway, that fine upstanding American Midwestern Down To Earth Cows and Barns and PCs kind of company has farmed its support to India.

Now, don't get me wrong right off the bat. I totally understand the need to save money in a bad economy, and they aren't the only company to do this. And I have nothing against people from India. I love people from India.

What I have a problem with is trying to get through to someone on satellite phone to halfway across the planet where it is four AM and I can't understand what the person is saying to me.

And, getting through was a problem...

I dialed the number, and was disconnected.

I dialed again, got through the menu and punched in my serial number and was disconnected again.

This happened three more times.

I finally heard all kinds of echoey buzzy noise, and the support guy came on the phone.

He identified himself as Richard.

He had never heard of anything like this before. I should have said Namaste and hung the phone up then... but I stuck with him, I wanted to see what he'd figure out or if he'd escalate my call to another person.

He had me do a bunch of different things, like unload a bunch of stuff from my start up files, as if Windows Start Up is causing something to happen when two separate specific programs are starting up. He and I spent almost two hours on the phone trying to figure this out.

Because he had never heard of anything like this, it was a complete wash. He was friendly and helpful. We talked about Celsius and I told him that at my house it was like negative 20 right at that minute and he almost fell out of his chair (seeing as it was about 48 at his house that evening when he left for work and he thought that was chilly). We determined that he could help me no further, and he recommended I take my PC to the Gateway store to have it fixed.

I said Namaste and he was very happy to have an American be so kind, but I wasn't happy in the end. I was let down. He was as uninformed as I, and I want those two hours of my life back.

Next, a call to my sister.

She asks me if I did all the same things that Richard in India suggested, and I told her yes... she talked to her boss, who suggested a couple things, I tried them. No dice.

She then hooked me up with a friend of hers, and he and I spent like three hours on the phone trying all kinds of things... he had me all up inside my registry deleting stuff and messing with things I've never touched before. It was scary.

But it didn't work.

In the morning on Saturday I called my buddy Brian, and he set me up with a log in to his FTP server so I could pull down Ad-Aware. I ran it. It found a shitload of stuff that was no good, but it didn't find the thing to fix my Browser contamination.

I tried to download the latest definitions of Ad-Aware, but it doesn't load, it hangs at 5% and then my PC crashes.

This afternoon I went to Staples and talked to them there. They said they don't think it's a spyware problem they think it's a virus. I bought the latest NAV 2004, and loaded it. I was able to get the DAT from this week without incident.

NAV found some Adware on my PC but can't delete it or quarantine it. So I'm back at square one... having spent about 15 hours of my precious Football TV Playoffs LIFE on this problem.

Staples suggested that if NAV can't fix my problem, back everything up and go to the Gateway Store.

I'll be calling them first thing in the morning.

I bought an external CD burner (I have tried to install things inside this PC and that hasn't been successful) And a bunch o'CDs, and I plan on backing up all our documents and photos tomorrow after work.

Right now, I just don't even want to be looking at this thing.

So... has anyone out there experienced this problem? Will grabbing an AOL CD and installing it as a temporary fix get us out to the web with their security in place and help us access websites where we can find out what is going on?

Know someone who is an expert in this type of thing who wants 3 dozen home made chocolate chip cookies?I will gladly feed the face and belly of the person who can assist me in killing this browser interloper, usurper, seat filler.

Doug is whiney and needs his PC.

And on this note, I'm off. Gotta go clean up from dinner and just get the hell away from this stupid PC. Gah. I'm angry.

I can access my email from work... good thing. Don't know what I'd do other wise.

Cheers y'all.