Big Apple

This past weekend, I went to NYC to see my sister’s play. The weather was fantastic, the events flawless, and the single-serving friends were unusually high quality. All in all, it was a great couple of days, and in a way, I’m glad that my vacation is over so that I can relax and settle into my new position at DSI.


Thursday night, we all went to see the Padres play at Petco Park. I’ll get some pics up here soon. We lost, but beer and friendly trashtalking with nearby Dodgers fans made for a fun event.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Up at the wee hours of the dawn, I rode a bus to San Diego International. San Diego has a strange sort of feel in the early morning, and you see it best waiting for a bus around that time. I had forgotten what it was like, since I’ve been driving to work every morning, leaving well after the day has officially started. Birds sing, but timidly, like a mic-test for the “real” songs to come at 8:00.

I arrived in the airport, and waited in one of the longest lines I’ve ever seen at an airport. Every few minutes, an employee would call out for all the people on a particular flight, and pull them through the first-class entrance. Eventually, after waiting for about 15 minutes, my flight was called, and I hustled through the magic magnets.

As a single male in the airport that day, I noticed the Cute Girl in line. (Who wouldn’t?) She had kissed her companion before going through. Ah, well.

I got on the plane, and quickly found myself in the middle of an all-too-typical “travel issue” that wasn’t planned out too well. A couple had gotten seats 16B and 17B. The seating arrangement goes:
A- A- A- A- A
B- B- B- B- B
C- C- C- C- C
D- D- D- D- D
E- E- E- E- E
F- F- F- F- F
15 16 17 18 19 ...

So, both of them were in “middle” seats, in two different rows. Somehow, they figured that 16B and 17B were next to one another. (Cause, as we all know, typical airplanes have up to 17 seats all in the same row…?) Compounding this is the fact that both have small children with them (one baby, one toddler, both lap-riders.) I was supposed to be seated in 16A (a window seat, much preferred), watching with a pang of dread as they blocked up the flow with lots of “um, well, ya see, I think this might be alright, but, um, see if we can, like, get someone to…” about halfway through some of this, I saw the cute girl come in and sit in 17A, and kindly offered to swap my seat with the father’s. He kindly accepted.

Single Serving Friend #1: the Cute Girl
Extreme levels of “girl-next-door” hotness. Older than 21, younger than 25, looked about 19. Working for a biotech company, but close to breaking into reporting. Clearly taken, and given the signals, completely infatuated. An aesthetic joy to converse with. In town to visit a friend; had never been to NYC longer than it takes to change planes. Tried to convince her to go see Think Twice.

Other highlights from the flight: The Whole 10 Yards didn’t live up to the original. The midwest is still flat and square.

Land in NYC, at 4:00 PM. Get in a gypsy cab.

It’s now $40 to get a cab ride from JFK to Manhattan. Yes, that’s right, $40. I was shocked, too.

“Where are you going?”
“182 and Nicholas”
…::drives a bit. “Nicholas… where is that.. Is that downtown?” …::Pulls out a map.
Now I’m a bit scared. He seemed like a good chap, clearly knows his way around Queens, and drives competently, albeit in the crazy cabbie way. You see, for those not familiar with the Big Apple, the street numbers in Manhattan go from 1 (or some other really low number) up to almost 200. “Downtown” is roughly the southern 50 or so streets. 182 is about as far north as you can get in Manhattan, in Washington Heights. Once I had convinced him that he had to go north, and pointed on the map to where I wanted to go, the cabbie redeemed himself by finding a way there which was much faster than the bumper-to-bumper-and-hardly-moving highway.

The overall gritty harshness of New York struck me as it always does. It’s the kind of in-your-face environment that makes San Diego seem almost cartoony by comparison. In small doses, I love it. Larger ones would make me crazy, I think.

We ate at a little indian place on the “Caucasian” side of Washington Heights. (My mother lives on the “Dominican” side, where the streets are a festival every day.) I drove up to East Haven, CT, reflecting on the differences in regional driving habits. The streets are so narrow, it seems, and everyone drives so slow. On the other hand, they sure do know how to merge well. Got lost in Foxon, as I seem to have a habit of doing, and found my way to the Nerdery that I left and which has grown and shrunk in my absence.

I played a Warforged Fire-wizard named Jaya Ballard in an Eberon campaign. It rocked. Those guys really know how to create interesting characters. I got to blow stuff up. It was cool. Shot the shit with TB and Todd and Christa late into the night. The time difference caught up with me, and I collapsed at about 6:00 AM PDT, 3:00 AM EDT, roughly 24 hours since I had slept about 3 hours, except for some brief spotty plane-napping.

The next day, Todd, Dan and I drove into NYC. This Dan isn’t Nee, or Edge. He has a last name that sounds enough like “Merino” that everyone calls him “Dan Merino.” I think it’s “Mirandy”. In NYC these days, you have to drive like an asshole. There’s no way around it. Anywhere else, driving like I was, I would have been an asshole. As it was, I was just normal. When traffic reaches a critical mass, you can’t get through it kindly. You have to cut someone off to go anywhere, pull all the way into the intersection, whether you can move or not, ride the ass of the person in front of you.

We managed to get to the theater downtown with time to spare, and for a very reasonable price saw a fantastic murder mystery done excellently. Go see it, really. Objectivist theatre company, Think Twice.

And then it was Sunday. I got brunch with Mark, Lou, Dan Edge, my sister, and Scott. Mark, Lou, and Scott are some of the cream of the crop of the NYC Objectivists - bright guys with opinions and good outlooks. Dan Edge, of course, is the Objectivist from South Carolina who managed Objectivist Singles. The 6 of us were like some kind of improv sitcom. It’s amazing how much funnier people can be when they’re laughing.

Later that night, I encountered cabbie #2. I would bet money this guy was from the Dominican Republic, and he had the outspoken charm that is so typical of cabbies and of Dominican culture. He understood english perfectly, seemed to know the city like the back of his hand, and just seemed really bright. He formed sentences eloquently. However, his pronounciation was so bad, I seriously could not understand anything he said on the first try. There were a lot of exchanges like this:
“Weda jew fom?”
…::hmm… oh! “I’m from San Diego.”
“Rain Spain eh Sun Dyega?”
…::rain… spain… san diego?
“Excuse me?”
“Da rain. Spain in San Dyega?”
…::something about the weather?
“Yeah, the weather is always great, it hardly ever rains.”
…::He’s obviously cofused, but the trooper that he is, he just jumps right in. “Oh, really? Is na hot? Republica Dominica, Hamaheeca, ees hot ah dee tine.”
…brief conversation about weather, the ultimate human connector.
“So, dee rain. Spain in San Dyega?”
…::? I pause while I try to figure out what he means by this. Make a facial expression that says, “I don’t get it, I’m really sorry.”
“Well, wed chjoo lib, in San Diega?”
…::where do you live… rain/spain… Oh! Is the rent expensive in San Diego!

Before I knew it, it was morning again. Luckily, I had fixed it so that I didn’t have to get back on a plane until 4:00, which gave me plenty of time to get breakfast and have a liesurely Monday morning.

Cabbie #3 was possibly the most interesting. She is from the USA, and told me a story about how she was going to be an actress until the Scientology cult kidnapped and hypnotized her. She is studying Forensics, and had taken some computer science classes for a Computer Forensics class. Extremely friendly. The first Yellowcab I’d taken this trip.

On the plane home, I met Single Serving Friend #2: The Portugese Designer. He had, by far, the most expressive face I’ve ever seen on a human. I don’t think he did much else besides smile as broad as possible and frown as emphatically as possible, shaking his head, sometimes saying “No, thas no riiight.” Somehow, he made that level of expressive facial gestures work, and wrapped it up in the accent to seem like the most honest sort of freedom. He had lived in CT, California, NYC, and Brazil, and came from Portugal.

I found a funny thing about leaving NYC at 4, and arriving in San Diego at 8:00 - sunset lasts 7 hours. When you leave, it’s late afternoon. The sun sets at an extremely slow rate, until finally, when you land (at 11:00 internal time), it’s just barely disappeared from the sky. It gave me time to really study the different coloration over a variety of different cloud conditions. I got lost in it for a few hours.

Single-serving friend #3 was one of the sales managers for I struck up a conversation in the taxi waiting line, and we split a cab, since she lives fairly close. More interesting conversation.

Since getting back, I’ve spent my time at DSI creating a new System Requirements page in XHTML and CSS, which was fun, and getting to work reordering a many-year-old pile of documents on our network. That one network share holds a lot of information about our products, but it holds even more telling information about Knowledge Management techniques that work, and those that don’t.

When no one’s in charge of some shared information resource, but everyone has full access to it and uses it frequently, a strange thing happens. No one wants to make too great a change to it, for fear that they might make something unusable or inconvenient to someone else. On the other hand, someone might write something really useful, and (properly) want to share the information wealth with his coworkers. So, he tries his best to fit into the current folder structure to put his document there. If he has to put a bunch of documents on the share, he might create his own sub-folder structure.

In the end, it’s like a ouija board - everyone’s finger is on it, and no one’s pushing too hard, so it just drifts mysteriously. Inevitably, the little window spells out “garbage”, and the valuable information is lost in a sea of irrelevance and deprecation.

So, I spent today piecing through files, determining when something was created, what it’s for, who’s already using it where it is, and where it ought to go. Once all that’s done, I’ll get to archive the current folder structure, and swap it out for my new-and-improved knowledgebase. Then we’ll get to sick Index Server on it, and maybe even suck a good amount of the items up into Notionware.

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