Lake Wanaka

I’ve been doing a spot of online learning of late, getting into a bit of linguistics. All in all, it’s quite interesting. Today’s fact of note came in the introduction of the slang contraction wanna. I was always of the mind that this was simply a shortened form of want to, or more crudely, want a.

– Wanna go to the cinema?
– I wanna piece of cake.

However, the following sentence has two possible meanings if you use the long version, but only one meaning with the slang version:

– Who do you want to visit?
– Who do you wanna visit?

The first question could be asking who you would like to go and see, but could equally be asking who you’d like to knock at your own door. The second version limits the meaning to the former.

It’s subtle, but it’s interesting how something that I thought was a simple abbreviation has its hidden complexities.

New York to London

I went down to North Cove Marina early yesterday morning to see Ellen MacArthur’s B&Q/Castorama boat. It arrived in New York having sailed down from Newfoundland on Monday.

Ellen herself posed for some publicity shots aboard the boat in front of the World Financial Center. However, I was amused to read that she’s now back in Europe with her feet up waiting for favourable winds. Once they’re looking good, she’ll get a one-way ticket to New York and sail back in the hope of beating the 6 days, 4 hours, 1 minute and 37 seconds. Somewhat defeats the purpose, no?

Sidney Prescott’s mom

TBS is showing Scream 3 at the weekend. I’ve never seen any of this series of films, but couldn’t help but laugh at the voice-over on the trailer summarising the film:

"Just because Sidney Prescott’s mom is a filthy tramp, doesn’t mean everyone has to die."

Meanwhile, an amusing article courtesy of Elise about the punctuation in the title of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, or should I say The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Laden with text messages

This morning, I found out that the word laden is nothing to do with the word load, which I always thought was the case. Apparently, it’s the past participle of the verb to lade, a word that I’ve never used in my 32 year existence.

Anyhow, this morning, I was laden with a slew of (three) text messages, arriving one after another. Two were sent by my brother from the US before his departure a week ago today; the other was sent by my friend Gordon whom, it transpires, left the US yesterday. Is there an SLA to which mobile companies must adhere with regard to the turnaround of texts? I’m sure that Ben and Gordon have paid for the messages, despite them all being useless to me due to their delay.

Arabic FedEx logo

In addition to the FedEx logo containing a hidden arrow in the white space between the "E" and the "x", it appears that they’ve done the same with the Arabic version of the logo, in which it points to the left, the direction of reading.

Arabic FedEx logo

This one is more obvious than the English equivalent, possibly because the surrounding text has no meaning to me. Nice touch…

Harry Potter and the grammatically incorrect colon

Yeah, yeah. So I’m renowned for my fastidious approach to punctuation, among other things.

My wife bought me the sixth Harry Potter instalment for my birthday, which I polished off in a week. There are less than ten colons in the whole book, but for some bizarre reason, every one of them is succeeded by a capital letter, irrespective of whether it’s a proper noun. Just like the arrow in the FedEx logo, once you know about it, it’s hard to focus on anything but it.

Overall, not a bad book, but I won’t be queuing for book seven.

Just a bit of drinkin’ and sport

It’s been a busy few days. Met up with Ben and Ilo in Hoboken for a few beers on Monday night, getting home at around 1am due to a user error on the PATH train. A quick trip to Grove Street was followed by a long wait for a return train to WTC.

Yesterday we had a bit of a team ‘do’, with a trip to Chelsea Piers for some ‘sporting’ activities followed by dodgy drinking at a bikers’ establishment. The activities included the energetic combination of bowling and golf. I held my own at bowling, but was accused of having a vendetta against the pins, such was my somewhat aggressive bowling style.

Then on to the driving range which is incredible. Four tiers of driving cubicles face a 200 yard netted enclosure beyond which is the Hudson, complete with cruise ships to ‘aim’ at. We were on the top level, so were limited to irons, but I managed to loft a 4 iron high enough to get out of the side of the enclosure, and a 2 iron carried the 200 yards sans bounce, albeit from three levels up.

Then on to a biker bar called Red Rock West on 17th Street and 10th Avenue. Awesome place. Phenomenally trashy with a great jukebox, pool table (further high-energy sporting activity) and genius on-bar entertainment. A kicking headache this morning was the sign of a great night. My enduring image, apart from the regular dancing on the bar by the barmaids, will be turning around to see the entire bar in flames, courtesy no doubt of some very cheap tequila. Awesome!

A new taxonomy?

There is a problem in the search world in that sites try to get their sites to the top of results lists by being clever with their metadata, often tagging pages with influential keywords even if they have nothing to do with that topic.

I’m thinking that it would be quite useful to have a taxonomy that could specify a site or page’s overarching aim, one for which there was a maximum value. The categories could be quite simple: Retail, News, Information, Blog, P*rn etc. The rule would be that authors could assign a percentage to each of the categories, either at the page or site level. So p*rn sites could be given a 100% p*rn rating, the BBC could go for 100% news, maybe tagging their informational pages differently. If a page is both informational and news-related, then the author can give a 50% weighting to each.

Searchers could then decide on the kind of information they were looking for. The taxonomy itself probably needs a bit of work, but I like the concept of authors having to choose how to weight their page, trading off one thing for the sake of another, as opposed to doing everything they can to attract traffic. I also like the idea that as a user, I can tailor my search based on what sort of thing I’m searching for.

Stormy Manhattan

I’ve mentioned this before, but the storms in Manhattan are something to behold. Today’s started its way up the Jersey side of the Hudson at around 5.30pm and is still going strong at close to 8pm. The rain has now started in earnest, and the recent bout of lightning was awesome. During the last storm, I tried in vain to get some shots of the lightning striking – one day I’ll get myself a digital camera so that I can spank off as many as it takes to get the shot. (This terminology is thanks to my brother, so don’t blame me for any ulterior connotations.)

Similar storms 20 miles west of here mean that the final five pairings in the US PGA will have to come back tomorrow.

WTC and ferries

I’ve just read a couple of the interviews with firefighters involved in the World Trade Center attacks back in 2001. These have been released over the last few days following a court order.

One of the big ‘stages’, the co-ordination points that the rescue services set up, was on the junction of West Street and Chambers Street. Many of the references to streets, cross-streets, buildings etc. in the interviews really bring home how close we are to where a significant portion of the rescue effort occurred. It seems that the Westside Highway was a natural thoroughfare out of the area, while I also read that the ferry from the World Financial Center pier, right outside our building, was used to ferry the injured out to Jersey.

The fact that the towers are no longer there, along with the fact that the temporary memorial is round the other side of Ground Zero, gives me the sense that we’re further away from the site than is actually the case.

New York Waterway is currently doing a promotion offering a free ferry-ride home every Friday in August. I took my first yesterday, and it’s a great way to travel, especially in the summer. At $3.27 per ride, compared to the $1.20 per ride on the PATH makes it an extravagance, though, one that I can’t justify right now.

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