Coke and blades

Today was my first truly successful blade outing.  A lap of the south-west loop in Central Park.  From Strawberry fields down West Drive, round Heckscher playground (great name, but a struggle for the kids who play there), up past Wollman Rink, continuing between the Mall (no shops) and Sheep Meadow (no sheep) and completing the loop at Strawberry fields.  Quite a bit of undulation, and probably over a mile in total.  Not bad for my third outing.

An offer on cans of coke at the moment: three six-packs for $4.98.  So, let’s do the math(s):

Cost: $4.98 + tax of around $0.25 plus bottle tax (not can tax, bottle tax, not sure why it applies) of $0.90.  So that totals $6.13, which at 1.75 exchange rate is £3.50, or 19.5p per can.  Everyone’s a winner!  Anyone want to have a stab at the year when this was last possible in the UK?  I’d say somewhere around the late ’80s.  Not sure if the associated shipping would make it worthwhile to pursue as a viable option for meetings with Mr. Mather…


It seems that everyone tried to cash in on the Millennium by renaming their businesses after it. Quite a few examples, but I particularly liked Millennium Hosiery on West 28th. My favourite though has to be the Millenium Hilton down by Ground Zero.

It’s been incorrectly spelt ever since I’ve known it. Perhaps changing it now would constitute them admitting being wrong in the first place, so they’d rather wait for the English language to fit in with them. Or maybe no one’s told them – note to diary. I can imagine my Mum climbing up a ladder with a big magic marker, Lynne Truss style, and getting arrested in the process.

There are way more insane people on the subway in New York than on the Underground in London. But in New York, they’re more accepted than in London. And they’re generally more socially acceptable. Many of them come with big shopping trolleys filled with stuff (less stairs or escalators to deal with in New York, as the subway is way less deep), some blasting music from big systems. They’re generally harmless, or so they seem. Quite a few extol the virtues of some form of deity.

As you probably know, smoking is banned in public buildings in New York. Bond reliably informs me that the UN building on the East Side is exempt from this ruling, as it’s not officially on American soil. But it seems that the banning of smoking in public buildings has reduced the amount of smoking that goes on across the board. So yes, you see the odd huddle of people outside buildings as you do in the UK. But I’m sure there are less people wandering down the street with a cigarette in their hand. Perhaps they suffer from the same multi-tasking problem as Ms. Wilson…

In my almost daily trip to the supermarket yesterday, I tried to buy some shrimp (prawns). I thought this would be relatively straightforward, but was presented with twelve different types from which to choose. Peeled, unpeeled; small, medium, colossal (this was the name of them, and was certainly an accurate one); black, pink; fried, raw. But they didn’t have the bog-standard, small, peeled, ready-cooked ones – these were arriving tomorrow (today). BTW, on a separate, but prompted point, most style-guides suggest that the numbers ten and below should be written as words, while 11 and above should be written as numbers. My dividing line is twelve, as eleven and twelve are such beautiful words. It’d be a shame to banish them due to a style-guide.

Parking rules in New York are such that you can only park on one side of the street on certain days, and only on the other side on the other days. This baffled me for a while, but it’s so that the street-cleaners can come around at their designated times. (The Seinfeld episode in which George became a car-mover now fits into place.) But yesterday, I was walking down 75th, and there was basically double-parking all the way down the right-hand side, while the left side was free of parked cars. It must be a New York thing, but two things worry me about the approach:

Finally, Skype. Not sure about the brand name, but the concept, and the reality, are great.

Basically, it allows you to have PC to PC voice conversations. Just had one, and it’s way clearer than mobile calls. It also allows you to make PC to phone calls at very cheap rates. Still learning about it but I’ve been told (reliably by Mr. Walker) that it’s €0.02 per minute for UK landlines, which is nice. Maybe the day of the phone is over.

Talking of phones, not sure if this has already been done, but if not, someone should do it/tell me why it’s a stupid idea. There’s an issue in the UK about inter-network call costs. Vodafone to Orange, for instance. While the regulators are starting to put pressure on the operators, this will continue to be an issue for some time. So, why not have a service whereby the trans-network part of the call is done by wire. Set up a bank of Vodafones and a bank of Orange phones. If you’re a Vodafone customer, you call a standard number (maybe an 0845 number) and follow this with a code for the network you’re calling (say 1 for Orange) followed by the number you want to call. This routes your call to a Vodafone, the voice is linked by wire (out of my depth now) to an Orange phone, from which a separate call is made to the Orange destination number:

Vodafone customer ==wireless==> Vodafone bank phone ==wire==> Orange bank phone ==wireless==> Orange customer

The view is that the combined cost of the intra-Vodafone call and the intra-Orange call is cheaper than the cost of the Vodafone to Orange call. Some of the saving would be passed on to the customer, some would be charged by the service provider. Thoughts?

Air-con in the UK?

The climates in New York and London aren’t vastly different.  New York gets a bit warmer for a bit longer in the summer, and gets way colder in the winter.  OK, so New York is 11 degrees south of London, but hey.  So how come air con comes standard in NY but can’t be found in London?  Maybe things are changing.

There are a few words that I find Americans have trouble saying: squirrel, nuclear, ask, caramel, herbs.  Any more for any more?


Well.  It seems everyone’s talking about it.  The BBC is looking for the best political blog, while at the recent Democratic National Convention in Boston, there was a section of the convention centre dedicated to wireless bloggers, even if they were pre-screened.

Mine has yet to hit the headlines.  Nice to see reference to Feynman in Kerry’s speech, btw, albeit in inference.  He’d’ve liked blogging, me thinks.

Third trip to Fairway supermarket was more efficient than the previous trips.  Obviously getting used to the navigational structure.  I now have frequently viewed sections, including the Six Sam Adams for Six Dollars aisle, while there are still aisles that I’ve not bothered with.  There are parallels to be made – you use what you need, although there are no doubt areas that you’d like that you never stumble across.

New York stepped up its terror rating this afternoon, although it’s still officially at Orange (seems much more representative of the reality than the UK’s standard of Black).  This is due to specific warnings targeting Citigroup, Prudential and the NYSE.  We’ll see whether anything transpires.

So, today I finally bought my blades and had my first recent blading experience in Central Park.  Slightly annoying that all of the local entrances to the park (81st, 77th, 72nd) involve severe downhill inclines.  It’s much the same as running and unicycling, in that downhill is difficult.  Braking doesn’t seem natural, although it should be, as my backside felt the consequences of inadequate braking skills early on.  Although I look a bit shit (technical term), the flats and uphills I can cope with.  Smoothness and style I’m sure will come with time; in the meantime, I need to focus on braking, as wherever there’s an uphill there’s an equal and opposite downhill, as Newton famously said.

Great article about a competition for the most beautiful German word.

One of my favourites was Kulturbeutel (toilet bag), although Ohrwurm also caught my eye following a conversation with Joost a few weeks back.  I was wondering what would take the title for an equivalent English competition.  I’d hope that exacerbate, convalesce, harangue and fallacious would be up there in the running.

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