Sunday, June 29, 2003

Outhouse Steakback

Happy Birthday, Julian!

No one actually remembers the time when Outback Steakhouse started providing a little cup of ranch dippin’ sauce to pour on your Diet Coke, but it’s a trend that looks like it’s here to stay. After seeing stories on what constitutes a “normal” serving size versus what restaurants now provide, this place should be on America’s Most Wanted. Even the salads are that unpleasant blend of cold iceberg lettuce and shredded yellow cheese that screams out “New Salads On The Go From The Colonel!”

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Hardware leak

I had to go down to the hardware store in town to get a shovel so I could plant some lavender in our side yard out here. The town was packed with fire engines and rescue vehicles. At first, I thought there was some sort of crap parade going on that was blocking Montauk Highway. It turned out that the Greek restaurant next door to the hardware store had just experienced a small fire. Everything was blocked off, although the cop let me in to buy my shovel. The store owner said that they thought the fire was out, but then they were worried about a gas leak. I actually thought I smelled the leak, and was about to say something, but then I realized that it was coming from the guy behind the register. Either way, I was getting out of there as quickly as I could.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Escape To Montauk

I did the fabled “Escape to Montauk” today. Of course, it’s about 140 degrees in the city, which makes it so much more pleasant. I walked to the Bay Shore station, a ten minute trip that the unpleasant heat and humidity made feel like swimming through a can of Campbell’s soup. The train was crisply air-conditioned, which is good – I want to make sure I work up a nice sinus infection before July 4. When I got to Manhattan, I did another 25 minute walk from Penn Station to the office. This is my standard daily exercise, and a key reason why I’ve lost eight ounces in the past year.

The “Escape to Montauk” works like this: I sum up how things are going in the office and calculate whether I should catch the 1:50 or the 4:06. The 1:50 is preferable because, well, two hours earlier. It’s also a bit less crowded, but its downside is that I have to sneak out right after lunch.

The 4:06 is handier because I can leave at 3:30, and I can get a lot more work out of the way first. So just before 3:30, I packed up the weekend’s articles and made my way to the Broadway 1/9 stop. Fortunately a train had just pulled out, so I got to wait on the platform for almost 10 minutes. There’s a simple formula for calculating how hot it is in a subway station: take the ambient temperature at street level and double it. So it’s about 184 degrees underground, with no breeze available save for the wind kicked up by the express trains that mock us as they fly past every two minutes.

Finally, the 1 train shows up. My car’s not air-conditioned. No problem, because it’s only one stop to Times Square. I slug my way out of there, blocked for ½ second by a woman with a carriage, and fly down the stairs to catch the 7. As luck would have it, the guy in front of me is taking in all the wonderful sights and smells of 42nd Street at his own pace, so by the time I’m able to break free of his block, the doors of the 7 close right in front of me. On other subways, you can stick your finger into the door as they’re closing and they’ll open up again, but you don’t want to challenge the 7. They’re the old Redbird cars, built in the 1950s before any of these weird modern ideas of “safety” or “amputation” were common, so those doors don’t open again once they slam shut on you.

I ran across the platform to the other 7 train and grabbed a seat. They leave about every 5 minutes, so I had plenty of time to adjust my seating to be under the blowing A/C on this car. Since they clean the filter every 50 years or so, the air has the sweet smell of all that has come before on that train. The train crowded up, and as the doors closed, The Sweaty Guy hopped on.

The Sweaty Guy hovered over me as the train headed towards Queens. At first, he just glistened unpleasantly, not unlike the baking sun that was causing his condition. But then the drips started. One of them glanced off my bag, and another missed just wide. He was working the subway pole like it was greased. Realizing the problem he was having, he reached deep and produced a napkin, which he used to mop his brow. The poor serviette was badly overmatched, and started to shred on his brow as we went under the East River. Small flecks started flaking off the napkin as well, creating a magical subway scene not unlike a souvenir snow globe.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

The Britney

Only $600 to repair my car today! The brakes were starting to make this sort of harsh, grinding noise (known as the “Britney”) when I pressed the pedal. And, uh, I sort of was too lazy to get it inspected, and got a ticket at the Bay Shore train station. Who knew that your side mirror had to be “in an unsmashed state”? Oh, and the windshield isn’t supposed to be replaced by a blue tarp.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Ballet Recital

(I have removed this original post, because it was rightly pointed out to me that parts were hurtful to innocent people. My apologies for being a jerk.)

Friday, June 20, 2003

Stay healthy

Well, it looks like my letter didn’t make MicroNews, so I’m going to publish it here instead. Last week, the Snooze gave us another burst of letters from employees who helpfully pointed out that you should wash your hands after you use the toilet. But I’ve got a bunch of great tips as well! Out of concern for other employees, here’s the letter.
Dear MicroNews:

Thanks for the letters last week explaining the easy ways we can all stop the spread of illness at Microsoft. Who knew that washing one's hands could help fight the transmission of colds and flu? However, the letters did leave out several simple steps you can take to ensure that your employment at Microsoft is virtually germ-free.

· If you're sick, come into work and talk to as many people as you can. This will help clean the germs out of your system more quickly.
· Whenever you use a rest room on campus, you should follow up with a quick shower in the nearest locker room. If your building doesn't have one, hourly buses depart for the Pro Club from in front of Buildings 5 and 34.
· If freshets of blood start spurting out of your nose during a status meeting, wait patiently until it's your turn, then ask for a napkin.
· When you travel on official Microsoft business, refrain from performing any breathing whatsoever while on airplanes.
· Sleep deprivation is a common cause of immune system weakness. If you find yourself working late, take a nap while driving home like everyone else does.
· Whatever you do, don't ever - EVER - wear anything but official Microsoft-issued swag.
· It's surprisingly inexpensive to get yourself shrink-wrapped at a marina every winter. You can continue to feed through a 0.2 micron straw, which should keep out most harmful bacteria.
· Don't get caught goofing off at work. Microsoft Research has secretly developed several ways to make your illness look like an "accident."
· Don't claim that you've "received treatment at the Mayo Clinic," when all you've actually done is eaten mayo packets on a stale roll for lunch because you were too busy to leave your office.
· Many viruses can jump across species, so don't bring your dog into work unless he has at least five years of experience with Visual Basic and is passionate about kibble.
· When you head outside for a smoke break, make sure to wear a surgical mask so that you don't accidentally inhale any potentially dangerous pollen while enjoying your cool, refreshing drags.
· Working out and eating right are the two best things you can do to stay healthy. Just something to look forward to when you retire. Hey, I think someone brought in Krispy Kremes!

Joshua Trupin
Executive Editor, MSDN Magazine

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Orrin Hatch's porn

It’s been a busy week for Orrin Hatch. He appeared in a hearing on Tuesday and announced that he was in favor of destructive vigilante justice without trial. As long as it was administered by entertainment conglomerates. This would send a powerful lesson to people who would steal intellectual property. So as he was coming out in favor of damaging property without trial to “teach somebody about copyrights,” what was happening on Hatch’s own site?

According to Wired, Hatch’s Senate site uses a copyrighted JavaScript menu system that he has not licensed. So what’s the important content that Hatch’s site has been serving illegally? Bare! Breasted! Women! According to the Associated Press, Hatch’s tax-funded site linked to a Utah-related search site whose registration was domain-napped in May and pointed to a porn site. It was a great week, what with our tax dollars paying for official calls for an extrajudicial system of revenge punishments while supporting stolen copyrighted material and helping the public find porn more easily.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003


What is sexy? Well, according to the spam, it’s Jovan Musk. With every purchase, you also get ten pounds of venison, dressed and freezer-ready.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

The Rosenbergs

Our NY Times was delivered early today - the paper “boy” accidentally got it to us before noon today. In the Times, there was a story about a sad anniversary this week; it’s been 50 years since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for treason on flimsy, secret evidence, leaving two small children.

Not a great way to start Father’s Day. But the linkage goes a bit deeper. What’s that? Tell you more? Glad you asked. Howard Fast was my grandfather’s neighbor in the Bronx in the 1950s. Together, they were two leading members of the Communist Party in New York, and they started a “Free the Rosenbergs” campaign. From Democracy Now:

The death sentence was reserved for the Rosenbergs. And there's much I could say about the Rosenberg case. The movement to save the Rosenbergs was begun by a man called Julian Trupin, T-R-U-P-I-N, a wonderful, wonderful man, who was one of my dearest friends, and myself. We began that movement, and it grew from there, and we did it because we felt that under the circumstances, they were not guilty.
Happy Father’s Day.

Friday, June 13, 2003

The Beagle Noise

Because of the impending weekend, we took off a bit early. I briefly thought of hoofing it down to Penn Station instead of catching the subway, but thought better of it. I headed down to the 50th Street station to find my way home.

As I was waiting for the train to arrive, a guy walked through the turnstiles with a wheely suitcase, a duffel bag, and an adult brown and black beagle on a leash. Once he made it inside the station, he unzipped the bag, put it on the ground, and lifted up the beagle to put him inside. The dog complied at first, frantically licking the man’s face as his legs were lowered into the duffel. Then, as the guy reached back to zip up the bag around the dog’s body, the beagle stopped licking and started to emit a series of gigantic, deep-throated beagle yowls that echoed through the station like he’d been shot. Half the people waiting for the train were horrified because they thought they were listening to the soundtrack of a dog abuse incident. The other half of us just snickered because, well, The Beagle Noise.