Gratitude – 04/22/2008

April 22, 2008

Today, I am grateful for these things:

1. Spring.  Last night we slept with the windows open, allowing the cool night air to drift throughout the house and purge the vague mustiness of a winter’s hibernation.  Granted, when I woke up this morning the house was bloody freezing, but at least I can say we slept with the windows open.

2. That Manhattan remains, to my knowledge, zombie-free.  We watched “I Am Legend” on the weekend.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, but have also spent the last few night leaving plenty of lights on about the house.

3. Granola bars.  Quick, easy, moderately healthy — or, at least, less unhealthy than deep-fried Mars bars.


Gratitude – 04/15/2008

April 16, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Orange juice.  Sweet, nourishing, guilt-free nectar.  This stuff is a godsend on plane rides.

2. The PS3 firmware update.  Better audio support, and a brand-spanking-new store format.  Granted, I’m actually on a plane typing this, so I haven’t had the chance to use it myself, but the word on the street is that it’s worth the while.

3. Successful business trips.  I had a customer meeting today that went, in my opinion, pretty well.  I’m quite sure that when I log in tomorrow a plethora of issues will arise, but in the meantime I’m riding the high of moderate success.

On pizza and taxicabs

April 16, 2008

There are two things that Jersey City just doesn’t seem to have figured out yet.  One is how to make a good pizza.  The other is how to drive a cab.

Let’s start with pizza.  We’ve been here about six months, and while we don’t eat pizza incessantly, we do order it a few times a month.  And we have had abysmal luck at finding good pizza parlors.

This was particularly surprising to us, given that you can scamper a half-mile across the Hudson to Manhattan, where there is no shortage of really, really good pizza.  I would have thought that some of that might have been smuggled over to the Jersey side, intentionally or otherwise.  I would have thought wrong. 

We’ve tried a number of places: some recommended; some located online; some pulled at random from a phonebook in a moment of desperation.  Of all places, it turns out Pizza Hut is the only place we’ve found that serves up a palatable dish.  No offense to Pizza Hut, but if that’s the best pizza in a neighborhood, then the neighborhood has some ‘splainin to do.

2111012249_38496a6292_m We have also had pretty bad luck with cabs.  Again, unlike Manhattan, cabs are not plentiful throughout all areas of the city.  In certain places, at certain times, you can hail one if needed, but generally you’re going to have to call ahead if you actually expect a car to be anywhere within a hundred blocks of your position.

Given that I travel to and from the airport on a fairly regular basis, I’ve been experimenting with different cab services.  Not because it amuses me; because I keep having such crappy experiences with each place that I vow never to use that company again.

Why not just use the taxis that are waiting at the airport, you ask?  Three reasons: they’re stupidly expensive; the experience of being lined up and herded into them at the airport makes me envy cattle at a stockyard; and the safety standards in the cars themselves are suspect, at best.

So I keep trying the different companies around the area.

A few weeks ago, on our way back from one trip, my wife and I called for a car as soon as we got off the plane.  We went and picked up our bags at baggage claim, then went outside to wait for the car we’d called.

That was our first mistake.  Evidently someone ahead of us had elected not to bother waiting, and had just hopped in our cab and taken off.  We found this out when we called the taxi company to inquire as to where in the dangling hell our cab was, and were told that the driver had already left, and they were going to have to send someone else.

Could you please have the driver make sure that they’re actually picking up the right person this time, I asked?

I’ll call your cell when the car arrives, responded the dispatch.

I was not reassured.

So we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

As chance would have it, a car from another company was waiting there.  He’d been there almost as long as we had, and was coming to the realization that whoever had booked his cab had long since taken off.  After a quick discussion we realized that we were in a position to help each other: we needed a cab, and he needed passengers.  Done and done.

About halfway home, my phone rang.  The cab we’d ordered in the first (or second) place was finally pulling up to the airport.  I let the phone ring, pulled out my little black book, and added yet another cab company to the ever grown list of places I will never call again.

Image by Phillie Casablanca.

On trying to do the right thing

April 10, 2008

Trying to do the right thing, it seems, has a habit of coming back to bite you on the ass. 

I mentioned before how I had tried to do my bit for the environment by turning down the furnace during the day and only heating my office.

Yeah.  That didn’t end up working out so well.  Not financially, not environmentally, and certainly not for my poor nads which nearly froze off on a daily basis.

The latest foray into doing the right thing?  Healthier eating.

691215368_ebe0e0d685_mNow, I grant you that what we did was really take baby steps.  We eat a relatively healthy diet, though there’s certainly room for improvement.  Part of our routine every day is to make fruit smoothies for breakfast.  I mix OJ and cranberry-blueberry juice, then dump in a bucketload of frozen fruit and a bit of frozen yogurt, and blend it all into a slurry.

It tastes better than it sounds.  And it’s healthy, to boot.

To kick it up a notch, though, my wife suggested that we should put some flaxseed oil in the smoothies, to give us our much-needed omega-3s and 6s and supremes.  We also decided to add some protein powder to the shakes, just to give us a little more substance to start the day.

Yesterday marked the first day of this new endeavor.

Yesterday also marked what was, quite possibly, the worst breakfast I have ever had in my life.

Those of you who are toying with notion of adding flaxseed oil or protein powder to your smoothies or shakes, I implore you: do so in very, very small increments.

I made the mistake of following the directions on the packaging. “For adults, use blah blah blah”… so that’s what I did.  I dumped two full scoops of protein powder and a good couple teaspoons of flaxseed oil into the blender with the fruit and juice and then blended the crap out of it.

Doing so produced a thick sludge.  The kind of sludge you might find on your floor if you’d just spent the day sanding drywall and then spilled beer all over the place.  And it tasted just about like drywall dust, too.  Vanilla-flavored drywall dust.

We have since cut back our helpings of both protein powder and flaxseed oil to about one-tenth the recommended dose, so far without major ill effects — though I am keeping an eye over my shoulder to see what karma says about that.

Image by Poldavo.

Gratitude – 04/09/2008

April 10, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Batteries.  I’m in a plane right now, hurtling through the night sky somewhere between New York and Tucson, but I’m able to have my laptop open and peck gleefully away at the keyboard while the world whips by below me.  Of course, the downside is that I’m in a plane right now, hurtling through the night sky, and I’m still working.

2. Windows Live Writer.  I’ve posted about Live Writer a couple of times before, mostly to say that it has a nice interface but I don’t really see the advantage of using it over the built-in tools that WordPress offers.  Right now, however, as I am trapped inside a manned bullet and am without access to the goodness of the internet, Live Writer is allowing me to draft up a post that I can then load once I touch down very, very late tonight.  Or tomorrow.  Whenever I get in.

3. That my wife would rather I be at home than on the road.  It’s really cute how she’s a little melancholy on the days that I leave for travel, and a little upbeat when I get home.  It’s nice to know that she still enjoys my company.

Gratitude – 04/07/2008

April 7, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Halifax airport.  It’s under construction right now, so the parking lots are pretty much chaos, but it’s small and friendly, and they have free wifi and work areas with tables.  My flight home was delayed by a couple hours (due to issues in Newark), but since I was able to get online I was able to catch up on some email and get some work done.  A welcome change to the typical airline delay experience.

2.  Dragon Fable.  It’s a free web-based RPG.  I you don’t know what an RPG is, this game will hold absolutely zero interest for you.  For those of you who are a little more on the geekish side, it’s a welcome way to while away the time when you’re stuck in a hotel room if you’re not in the mood to read and there’s nothing on TV.

3. Frequent flyer miles.  Although I have yet to cash in my miles with any of the airlines with which I collect points (and there are more than a couple of them), it makes travel a little more enjoyable knowing there’s some sort of intangible, distantly future reward waiting for me.  In theory.

Gratitude – 04/05/2008

April 5, 2008

Today, I am grateful for these things:

1. That I’m posting.  It has been over a week since my last post, which is just wrong.  Granted, work has been nuts and I spent most of the week in Halifax at a conference, but blogging requires discipline and consistency.  So I’m glad to be back on the blog.

Canadian cash2. That my wife made us do our taxes last weekend.  I was hating it last weekend, but I’m very glad that I don’t still have that hanging over my head now.

3. The new version of WordPress.  I haven’t had the chance to play with it much yet, but it’s different, and I’m a fan of change.  And it’s made posting images a lot easier.

Image by SMN.