Today’s news

The presidential race continues, the only saving grace being that it will all come to an end on Tuesday.  I’m sad to say I’m not surprised at Bush and Kerry’s using Bin Laden’s latest video in their final days’ campaigning.  Just for the record, you can download all three of their presidential debates for free from iTunes.  Meanwhile, apparently, Princess Alice has died at the ripe old age of 102.  I’m sure she was a lovely lady, but I have to say that throughout the last third of her life (during most of which I was alive), I never heard any reference to her.  That being said, she probably never heard of me either.

John Peel’s death earlier in the week came as a huge shock, although not surprisingly it gained little (no) coverage this side of the Pond.  I was never a big fan, although I completely understand those who were.  Few figures in the world of entertainment will cause such shock and grief at their passing.  As someone close recently put it, it wasn’t necessarily his choice in music that people tuned in for; it was the enthusiasm he had for that music.  Murray Walker and Sid Waddell spring to mind as fitting a similar mould – you may not tune in for the F1 or darts, more for the unabated enthusiasm in their commentary.


I’ve successfully survived a week in my new job. Fly to Boston on Sunday evening for a week of training. It’s good to get back into the swing of things with work, and it’s nice that quite a bit of it is familiar territory. Having said that, it occupies a lot of your time (don’t you know). With regard to the ‘blog, this means less time to update it, but more importantly, less time to think about the trivialities that make it up. Which is a shame, given the enjoyment with which the audience has no doubt been reading over the summer.

Money in the US has always caused me grief, but given our length of time here this time, I felt compelled to get it off my chest. (Quite a bit of what I write can be considered "getting it off my chest" as opposed to stuff that I think other people may be interested in. You may have noticed.) Some people will be aware of, even perhaps frustrated by, my compulsion in the UK to have all the notes in my wallet the right way up, with the Queen facing front, and in descending order of size (both monetary and area). So, £50 notes (yeah, right) go at the back, then £20s then £10s then £5s at the front. This compulsion means that when I get change, it takes a little more time than other people might take, as I slot the £5 and the £10 into my wallet hierarchically, but it means peace of mind for me and a known state for my next purchase.

Two factors make this process difficult in the US:

This means that when you get change, you’re often presented with seven or eight notes. Arranging these into the right sequence in my wallet would take quite a bit of time, partly cos there are a lot to arrange, and partly because there are more notes already in my wallet into which to slot them. Anyone with me at the time would probably have walked a couple of blocks before I was able to leave the shop.

The result is that instead of paying a $7 total with the seven crumpled $1 bills in my pocket, I’ll use the $10 bill in my wallet, thus adding to the crumpled wad of ones. It also results in a nightly regrouping for my wallet, where the pocket’s contents are slotted into their rightful place (Washington, Jackson, Hamilton, Franklin et al. all facing front, of course).

I don’t think the issue is going to go away, but as my Dad once pointed out (and I’m yet to find an answer), how do blind people cope? Do they rely on trust with the vendor, or is there a subtle difference in texture for each of the notes? Anyone?

Total eclipse of the Chrysler Building

Last night there was a total eclipse of the Chrysler Building as the Empire State cast it in shadow as the sun set.  Later that evening, there was a full lunar eclipse on the west coast.  I wonder if there’s going to be a time when all four entities are lined up – the sun, the moon, the Empire State and the Chrysler.  That’d be cool.

So Boston have exorcised those demons with an impressive 4-0 win against the Cardinals.  Being in New York meant that it didn’t make the huge news that it no doubt did in Boston.  I’m off to Boston on Sunday, so it will be good to be there for the after-show party.

What a view

There’s a certain stigma attached with working in Jersey City, mainly because it’s not Manhattan.  I have to challenge this.  I now have a desk, and have a wonderful view (on the few occasions when I look up from my laptop) of mid-town, dominated by the bold Empire State Building, with its beautiful little sister (the Chrysler Building) off to the right.  The Hudson sweeps northwards up to the George Washington Bridge.  This is something you rarely see from mid-town Manhattan.

I enjoyed seeing the antithesis of Poundstretcher the other day on Broadway.  A shop was having a sale (I think), advertising "Every Item: $10 and up".  Were they indicating that the higher prices are a sign of quality?  Not sure.

Could well be the final game of the World Series tonight, the Red Sox leading 3-0.  Any Yankee fan would tell you that it’s not over ’til the fat lady sings, but I’m confident that they’ll pull it off while they’re still down in St. Louis – either tonight or tomorrow.

Idiot new boy

As was kindly pointed out by Mr. Fox (aka Mr. Fowler) on my recent trip to the UK, today I was idiot new boy.  Fortunately, the day passed without major incident, mainly as I was surrounded by many other idiot new boys and girls in a training session.

It was thoroughly enjoyable, although three months’ unemployment meant that it probably took more out of me than it should.  I’ll struggle to stay awake for the entirety of tonight’s Broncos vs. Bengals match, kicking off at 9pm EST.

Will be travelling to Boston on Sunday for a week’s induction.  There is the chance that Sunday will see the deciding game of the World Series at Fenway Park, which would be fun to be around for, although the Red Sox’ dominant start (2-0 after two home games) suggests that it might all be over before then.  (BTW, that sentence raised an issue that I thought of a while ago: how should you apostrophise plural words ending in X.  Off the top of my head, this is the only such word.  I like to think that x’ is acceptable.)

Bank schmoliday

I think Britain has a good balance between the work-shy Europe and the workaholic Americans (the latter of which I join tomorrow). I struggle with the TUC’s drive to bring the UK further in line with Europe, particularly given the derision which continental Europe is awarded by the rest of the world in this regard.

A word of advice: under no circumstances should you put Ricky Gervais’ XFM sessions on your iPod.  If you do, people in the street will look at you strangely as you burst into spontaneous laughter in the street.  You heard it here first.

Steven Tyler

Just watched a moment of American history.  Sat down to watch game one of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals and watched a quite beautiful a-capella rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Steven Tyler, formerly of Aerosmith.  In all fairness, it wasn’t at all bad, but in America, it doesn’t get bigger than the World Series, and it doesn’t get much bigger than Aerosmith.

It seems strange to sit down to watch the grand final of an event, after the culmination of an exciting end to the post-season, and to go to bed (later) without there being a winner.  The first two games will be at Boston (Saturday and Sunday), then off to St. Louis for three (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) and, if necessary, back to Boston for the final two (Saturday and Sunday).  Any game from four through seven could be the last.

Just had take-out from Carmine’s, a famous Italian restaurant on the east side of Broadway between 90th and 91st.  First of all, it was rammed, as its reputation would suggest.  Secondly, the meals are enormous, even by US standards.  We ordered two meals, each of which came in a deep rectangular tray around 12" by 18".  Each, along with its side of parmesan and half a loaf of bread, could easily have served three.  I’d suggest that if you’re going there, ensure that the number of diners is divisible by three, and that they can be grouped into threes according to palette.  Pasta instead of a roast tomorrow…

Boston are already up 3-0 with one out at the bottom of the first.

Major League Beirut

I’ve decided to categorise this post into the Life category as opposed to the Sport category.  Judge for yourselves.

I’ve since found out that the game to which I was referring in my previous post, Baseball, Football and Soccer is called Major League Beirut.  It sounds like it’s quite popular…

FYI, I’ve tried to categorise my posts into what I believe to be logical groupings.  Click on a grouping in the right-hand Categories module if you just want to read, say, Random thoughts.

Google on your desktop

A wonderful, if slightly worrying, application offered by Google in beta mode.  Basically, it’s google, but instead of using the web as its index, it uses your ‘puter.  So, it trawls through and indexes all of your emails and all of the relevant files on your PC.  I think it stores the indexes server-side (which worries me slightly), but once it’s indexed your stuff, the functionality is very useful.  You can search for stuff that you did a long time ago, and it’ll find it instantly, rather than you having to remember where you put it, or who you mailed it to.

I recommend it…

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