You Talkin’ to Me…?
The Ultimate Water Gun came back from California today — thanks, Dan’s Mom, you know who you are! Its next destination is Bowdoin College in Maine, then Manhattan, Kansas, then on stage for a show at Six Flags over Mid-America.
I’m pretty happy with the quality of the requests for the Ultimate Water Gun, except for the scary ones. If you read the requests, you’ll see what I mean.
Meanwhile, I’m cleaning and tweaking the gun in preparation for its next trip. Asad Khan, one of my programmers, models here both the helmet and the attitude that go with this device.
I got my motorcycle permit!
I went down to the DMV office at 8:30 AM this morning, answered 20 questions about railroad crossing signs, blood alcohol content, and glare on wet pavement, and came back with a flimsy piece of paper that means I have a new expensive hobby! I signed up for Motorcycle Safety School, and have been trying to determine if my head is oval (which, according to Kate, would make me a Shoei person,) or round (which would make me an Arai person.)
I really like the Arai helmets (that’s one on the right); they’re very, uh, Super Nintendo.
There’s no Berlitz course for Manhattan.
I get breakfast at the 810 Deli every morning on my way to work. Today there was a cashmere-coated cellphone executive with a leather briefcase at the register. “No, TWO SANDWICHES!” he was saying with an air of exasperation. The Greek clerk behind the register was stonefaced. “Yes, egg and cheese, two times.” “No, TWO SANDWICHES!” “Egg and cheese, two times.”
Now, the phrase “Two times”, like “coffee, sweet and light”, or “stangitty closindoorz”, has special meaning in Manhattan. It has a precise, mathematical definition — two carbon copies of your entire order. If X were your egg sandwich, and Y was your cafe latte, then “Egg sandwich and a latte, two times” means 2*( X + Y ), not 2X + Y.
Unfortunately, there is no good place to learn this before you find yourself in front of a stainless-steel counter at rush hour with a line of stockbrokers, copier salesmen, and German tourists behind you. Part of me wanted to take this guy aside and explain the situation to him, but I refrained. After all, I had been blooded in the city, and now so was he; why should I make it easy for him and rob him of that special, smug feeling he’ll get later when he’s standing in line, watching someone ELSE make the same mistake?
“Is that one sandwich, or two? That’s not two eggs on one sandwich, is it?”
“Egg and cheese, two times!”
Cool guy with a hat
Click on this link immediately. The translation of the subtitles, as given to me by Nikolas Makelberge (who sits in the cubicle outside my door; you can sometimes see him in my webcam:)
The hat is yours / The hat is yours / Lalalalalala / Cool guy with a hat / Cool guy with a hat / Cool guy with a hat and a coke in his hand / Hat-baby! / Hat-baby!
My mom e-mailed me about the picture of her and her brother Bob below. Here’s what she had to say:
“After the Japanese invaided Pearl Harbor, my father enlisted in the Army, though he was over 30, and had two children. He was sent to officers’ candidate school (OCS), after which he went to the South Pacific. Before he was sent overseas, my mother packed us up and we went wherever he did, but the housing situation was often desperate. At this particular time, we were living near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and the only place my folks could find was one of Ball’s Cabins, a little group of log cabins in the woods of northern Michigan. We had no electricity or running water — it was paradise for kids aged six and nine! As my dad noted on the back of the photo, mother ‘sensibly dressed [us] in denims.'”
I’m sitting behind the one-way glass of a corporate usability lab, watching people off the street navigate through Web sites (I’m posting this using my Palm and Omnisky modem.) There’s a funny voyeuristic thrill to sitting in the bleachers of the observation room. As odd as the process is, though, it really works – by the time the fifth user in a row has failed to see your ‘help’ link, you have a pretty good idea that it’s in the wrong place.
This is the rescue light that I bought from the marine store in Maine. I plan on velcroing it to the helmet of the Ultimate Water Gun Mark II (Also known as project “gardaloo”. I just discovered that “Gardaloo” was the name of my grandfather Baldwin’s boat, after the phrase medieval maids were required to yell out the window as they threw pots of dirty water into the street: “garde a l’eau!“) Anyhow, I’m hoping that it will serve the dual purposes of: 1) Blinding victims in nighttime raids, and 2) With each searing Xenon flash, freezing the stream of water in a dramatic, deadly arc.
It’s also pretty good for getting the attention of the Talbots Product Design team across 53rd street on the eighth floor.
I’m back from Maine, where I was visiting my mom in Belfast. Belfast is a really cool town up towards the top of Penobscot Bay, on the Passagassawakeag river. Passagassa…? I guess flatulence was the theme of my trip. Anyhow, I did the following:
- Survived a ride in a small plane while the wind was gusting to 75 MPH(!)
- Learned all about smelt shacks
- Visited Acadia State Park and saw the Thunder Hole (a sign by the side of the road points to “Thunder Hole Public Restrooms”, reinforcing the theme of my trip)
- Went to the marine supply store with my stepfather Robin Staebler and bought a blinding emergency strobe to put on the Ultimate Water Gun’s helmet
- Bought a two-person backpacking tent from a local outfitter
- Saw my cousin Elizabeth, my cousin Holly, and my cousin Max, who flew down over the weekend to write about the Westminster Dog Show for Readers’ Digest (ironic, says everyone, since he doesn’t like dogs much)
- Read my grandmother’s diary during her sophomore spring at Vassar in 1930, in which she meets my grandfather and falls in love, and
- Looked at lots of family photos. That’s my mom in the picture above, with my uncle Bob. The inscription on the back reads “Sarah [my grandmother] has sensibly dressed Sally and Bob in denims.”
In one work day, I go hiking twice, get lost five times, am rescued by fifty firefighters, and lose a contest for a suitcase full of sake. Read all about it.
It’s almost seven-thirty in the morning, and I’m sitting at a workstation cubicle in terminal A of Boston’s Logan Airport. I’m on my way to see my mom in Belfast, Maine for the weekend (packing for a trip from New York to Phoenix to Maine resulted in some weird stares when I got off the plane in Arizona dressed like a polar explorer.)
Anyhow, I get lost a lot, but yesterday was a new record for me. All of the stuff above happened to me on Friday, and I wrote about it in exhaustive detail while waiting for (and taking) the redeye. You can read about it here!
I went to a place that I didn’t even suspect existed until yesterday — Fry’s electronics, a chain of colossal big box stores that sell everything — everything — that a nerd could want. Dan Evander, a programmer at [A client], took me there with his dad (also named Dan Evander.) Ever been in one of those colossal Wal-Marts? You know, the ones with the supermarket in them, and the bank, and the auto dealership? Imagine that Wal-mart done up in an Aztec theme, with towering fiberglass palm trees inside and doorways encased in twenty-foot snake heads. Imagine that ENTIRE store filled with aisle after aisle of electronic multitesters, plastic and foam eggshell equipment cases, pyramids of 45GB hard drive boxes, computer components, entire computers, HDTVs, car stereos, Lego Mindstorm kits (even the sold-out ones, like the Dark Side Developer’s kit), freaking EVERYTHING A GEEK COULD POSSIBLY WANT. Dan and his dad were mildly surprised that we didn’t have places like that in New York. What, are you freaking kidding me? This nirvana, this stately pleasure dome? I just don’t know how I’ll get my co-workers back in NYC to believe this.