Burning at both ends.
   Keep out of reach of children.

November 22, 2005

Science Wednesday - What should you know?

My friend Darren posed the following question to me, and would like me to pose it to you.

"If the goal of high school science is to create scientifically literate citizens, what 10 concepts should a scientifically literate person know 10 years after they graduate high school?"

He'll sound off after he hears your comments. And of course, it should come from your own memory.

Let's hear it...assuming you're scientifically literate. Or not.

October 09, 2005

10 Years Of Work...Up In Smoke.

drivesavers.jpgSuffice to say I would recommend that all internet/design/writing/computer-literate people spend a moment, and a few bucks and back up their drive. I would further suggest asking yourself the following list of questions. I will answer them here, but please play along at home.

1) My hard drive capacity is? // Well, mine is a 250GB....that's a lot but it's only 1/4th full.

2) Are there things on my hard drive that I find important to have, like photos, emails, work etc? // Well, let's see....I work in the internet and design. I don't remember the last time I didn't use a computer for anything I do outside of eating, pooping and lovin...so yeah, I'd say there are some important files on the computer that I would like to maintain.

3) When was the last time you backed up your drive? // Hmm...well I would say several weeks ago. But I back up regularly.

If you answers were similar to mine, then you are in good stead. You know what you want, and you know what you need to do...now do it!

My cautionary tale is one of sweat, tears and overall calm, all at the same time.

It was a Friday like any other. Humid, but nothing to complain over. I decided to run out to get a bite to eat. So I put my favorite backup up program to task and had it start a full back up of my internal hard drive. Nothing new.

When I returned half an hour later, it seems that my software had had an error in the duplicating process. Due to the specifics of my duping software, the destination drive was, for all intensive purposes, blank. So I repaired my permissions and started again. -- Again....error.

Thinking this was a software issue, I downloaded another recommended piece of backup software and began running it. It ran for 30 minutes and then stalled....stalled and stalled some more. I decided to force quit it. Mistake? I don't know. Three weeks later...I still don't know.

Things were running sluggish at this point, so I decide to reboot. Mistake? I'm not sure. Three weeks later, I'm still not sure.

Apple comes up. Spinny things a'spinnin. But nothing. Spin Spin Spin....nothing. The disk won't mount. F@#k.

Fortunately I have a copy of OS 10.4 in my cupboard. I bust that sh!t out and enter Disk Utility. I see the drive, and I begin to repair. Error after error, red line after read line. Keys out of order. Catalogue B-Tree Error - drive cannot be repaired. F@#k.

Now, for some strange reason, the drive is grayed out in Disk Utility. Double F@#k.

On top of that, as I mentioned earlier, the destination drive was basically blank, but mountable. So, I erase and install a system on it. Mistake? I'm pretty sure it was, but it's spilt milk now.

I boot up from that disk and try again to repair the unmountable internal drive. Nothing. F@#k.

Well, where do I go from here? Data Recovery.

Data Recovery is an expensive service, and the cost goes by the size of the drive, not necessarily the amount of data on said drive. So for me, I'm about to break the bank.

TekServe is New York's premier Mac shop and they offer non-evasive data recovery. Their deal is pretty good. If they get it back, you pay, if not, you don't. Can't really go wrong there.

I bring it in. They ask a bunch of questions -- drive contents, important folders, what have you. I give them all the 411 I can think of, and put down my 100% deposit. That's $1700 up front! A few days later a client, who is concerned about his files puts the scare into me and I go back to TekServe to put wings on that order. Another $650 and they are on their way.

So instead of waiting until Saturday to find out I'm f@#ked, I found out on Thursday that I was, in fact, f@#ked.

Double fortunate for me is that I'm not even in town so I can't pick up the drive. It just sits on a shelf. When I go to pick it up, TekServe informs me that the clicking I heard is a mechanical problem and my last chance is a company in California - Drive Savers.

I should say that I called Drive Savers before I brought the drive into TekServe, however, Drive Savers deal on no-results isn't as good, so I had nothing to lose with TekServe. Drive Savers did say however that Disk Warrior, which I have left running for over 20 hours was doing more damage than good on my drive. So that information was helpful, albeit a bit late.

Drive Savers give me a quote - $2700 for a 5-7 day turnaround. If they get nothing it would be $500. Luckily, TekServe gave me a coupon code for 20% off. Yatzee!

Three days later, after FedExing my drive and a destination drive, I get the call. I'm thinking I'm f@#ked times 3.

The Drive is Dead. Long Live The Drive.

Drive Savers takes the platters out of the drive, gets the data off them and returns the drive as I sent it. And they did that. In spades. I got a 99% data recovery, and with my discount, it came to $2200 shipped.

Well worth 10 years of work, wouldn't you say?

Crisis averted. Clients calmed. Sleep returned. It was a good day.

To avert this problem in the future, here's what I'm doing. It might be overkill, but f@#kit.

1) I'm running a RAID Array 1 in my CPU with two Hitachi 250 Drives [Thanks Eusuf and Brian]
2) I'm Backing up using Dantz Retrospect every other day.
3) I'm burning dead and long running client projects to DVD.
4) I'm going to house an outside back up once a month in case of acts of G_d on my apartment. [Thanks Stephen]

I know it can't be bullet proof, but I'd like to make my digital life as bullet resistant as possible. You should too.

P.S. Pardon any typos. I'm exhausted.

September 12, 2005

Alternate Side Of The Street Parking Is In Full Effect Sukka.

For the past two and a half weeks the wife has been working the night shift at a hospital that couldn't be further from our apartment. The neighborhood it's located in, Inwood, isn't bad at all. But at night, the subway station she exits isn't well lit and there are no people around at all. She's basically in her own little scene from The Warriors, minus the bitchin' vest and facial paint, though she does wear the skates.

A cab to 225th and Broadway will run you about 20 bucks plus tip. For 18 days, that's hundreds of dollars. I'm sure you would agree with me that personal comfort is certainly worth that. After some brainstorming and pretty much a suggestion from my mom, we borrowed the parents car to shuttle my wife to the hospital each night.

The round trip is only 25 minutes when there is no traffic. It's pretty much a straight shot. However, due to a little thing called 'alternate side of the street parking', that quick magical trip can be as long as 90 minutes.

While I understand that street cleaning is a vital part of a cities infrastructure, and flinging trash into the middle of the street via spinning brushes aides in the beautification of the city, I can't imagine that every block is getting the treatment twice a week.

I think that in the tenure of my life in the city I have seen 3 street sweepers, and they were parked.

Finding a spot is like looking for water in the desert. It exists, but only as fleeting glimpses and periferal oasis'. As you careen down the street, dangeriously pausing at each hydrant with hopeful eyes, the fear of needing to pull into a garage takes over. But with persistance and absolutely nothing better to do you can win the day.

I've been lucky some nights, others, not so much. More often then not, I've had to move the car the next morning for street cleaning.

Typically people sit in their cars during the street cleaning hours to keep the spot. Again, that's fine if you have absolutely nothing better to do. The hours are like between 11:00 and 12:30 PM for instance. Let me ask you, what are you doing during that time? I mean, I'm at my f#$king job. So there are hundreds, possibly thousands of people sitting in their cars during the middle of the day holding a spot. Wouldn't you love to know what they do for a living?

I hope it's car-sitting/crossword puzzle professionals.

August 03, 2005

Doctors and The One Night Stand.

Sorry....Soooorry. It's been a while, but for good reason, which I choose not to make up divulge at this time.

I'm in the process of picking out a doctor. It's hard. I equate it to either having a one night stand, or a long lasting relationship, only brought to an end due to distance, death, or change of insurance. So as you can see, it's just like dating.

I've spent some time asking around, speaking to other doctor friends of mine, and researching and I have come up with following conclusion:

You just gotta risk it. The names in the book don't do any good. Asking around? Balls. It's about as helpful as eBay feedback.

I haven't seen a doctor in several years. Something I regret, because I can't say that I've been taking care of the ol' chassis. Years of cola, cheesesteaks, Gray's Papaya, Chinese fast food and insomnia, while not clinically proven to be a dangerous combination, have certainly had an effect on this King Tubby.

I figure that a trip to the family physician will give me an idea of two important factors. First, how much damage have I done. I assume that the bastion of high fat - high sodium - low nutrient - low quality fuel I've been putting into my body will have some adverse effect, I just want to see just how bad.

Second? What can I do to fix it. Of course (s)he'll say "Eat Better", "Excercise", "Think more about what you do, both culinarily and physically, but don't forget environmentally." Fair enough. But what else can I do? How else can I cut this snake of glut off at the head? Spiritually? Metaphysically? Existentially?

That's why I have carefully chosen my doctor. I will certainly let you know how it goes. His name is Shaman Qu'jilou and his offices* are on 95th and Park.

*And by "offices" I mean the cardboard box where he hangs shrunken heads to ward off the evil spirits and medical malpractice attorneys.

June 30, 2005

Permanent Loss

Taking a full time after working freelance is great because now you have a place you can call your home. However, warm security of home is only one of the perks. You also have the new influx of possible friendships you can build with your new co-workers.

In my office, there are two desks. One, obviously mine, looks onto the other and the door to the office. That other desk? It's a bermuda triangle of employment.

The true inhabitant of that desk is on sabbatical at the moment and will be returning in August. In the meantime, the desk is filled weekly (sometimes for weeks at a time) with freelancers.

Working in close quarters with a freelancer, or anyone for that matter, you begin to develop a working-bordering-on-friends relationship. The longer you work with that person and the longer they are here, the stronger the bond you make, and likewise the more you start treating that person like a member of the staff.

But then poof....they're gone.

More money, bad planning, double booking, or any number of factors have pulled this person away from the desk, usually never to return.

The pisser of the whole thing is that some of those freelancers I have considered friends. Peoples I'd like to hang with. My types of peoples.

Problem is, I am still a freelancer at heart, working all the time to make that coin. And they are the same...so we never have time to communicate.

Then there are those I don't click with....in that case, I think it works out for the best...but seriously, it's not you...it's me.

June 27, 2005

Scar(r)ed For Life.

About a week ago, we were going out to celebrate the completion of the wife's first year of residency. It was a special night, so we figured we would go to one of the better restaurants in the city, Peter Luger's.

We arrived there, lickety-split. Found the parking lot with ease. Parked. Jumped out and began our walk to the restaurant. Nothing out of the ordinary.

As we made our way down the street, we heard sirens. Still, nothing out of the ordinary. But as we walked to the restaurant, we saw a fire truck approach the intersection pretty quickly. Perpendicular to the truck was a motorcyclist.

He too was moving pretty quickly. The motorcyclist had the light I think, but when he saw the fire truck, he slammed on his breaks.

The next part happened pretty fast, but I think that the cyclist flipped over the handlebars of his motorcycle which was in a low-side fall. As he flipped over, the truck came around the corner. He went under the truck and got caught under the front axle as the truck started to pull off to the side to check out the accident.

They dragged him a good 20 or 30 feet before they slowed to a stop. People were flagging them to stop from the sidewalk. Windows were jammed with on-lookers. And we all felt stunned. We all reached for our cell phones to call 911 as the doctors in my group went to check in with the fire fighters to see if they could assist.

They guy was yelling at the fire fighters. Cursing. But alive.

We went into dinner shortly thereafter. I think that even if we hadn't had this as an appetizer, the restaurant would have just been okay. But it's hard to eat when your heart is in your throat.

He was not cursing in Spanish so far as we could tell.

June 07, 2005


When living here, I become slightly barely more thick skinned to the grossness, muck and stink of the city.

Today's 90 degree weather meant a few things. It meant that cross street breezes, which typically are pleasant, are offering a barrage of scents that will destroy your olfactory nerves for the next 25 years. It meant that the dog urine, once thought quaint by NY standards because the dog who did the deed was so adorable, is now a waft of hot stench rising to your nose like a sledgehammer to the face.

Likewise the urine in the subway is only drowned out by the thought of the moisture accumulating betwixt my legs. Every effort is made to enter the station at the very last minute because the slightest movement opens up the floodgates of crotchular perspiration that I can imagine is only rivaled by the Cave of The Winds Tour at Niagara.

But forget all of that for a second. Get it out of your mind. Cleanse your mind and walk down the street towards the decadent air conditioning. You hear the whirring and blowing of other air conditioners in the window above. Until you hear "THWAP!", and realize that someone's grimy, slimy, unattended for a year air conditioner has just unloaded it's compressed spoils in a single huge drop all over your head.

Fuck, I hate that the most.

June 04, 2005

Polite New Yorker.

At Gray's Papaya, for one buck, they sell a button that says "Polite New Yorker."

Every time I have myself one of their delicious recession specials (2 dogs, and a 16oz Coke for $2.75) I'm tempted to get one of those buttons.

I think the feeling spawns from my internal need to be nosy and help foreigners (read out-of-towners) when they visit this fair city of mine. An open subway map is a signal flare that help is required. Berlitz? Frommers? It's my calling card.

I thought that in my down time, I would offer some sort of service where for a small fee, food and transportation, I would take people around the city to neighborhoods, restaurants and shops that they wouldn't normally venture to.

I find that each time I travel, if I know someone at that destination I usually have a better time because I get to go to those local hangouts rather than the usual touristy fair.

Sure my being paid to be your friend...but better that than eating at T.G.I.Friday's everynight at hugly increased prices.

May 22, 2005

My Music: A Meme

I saw this meme on Zeldman's site a few days ago. But recently the torch was passed my way via Rev. George so I figured what the hell, I can prolly do it.

Total volume of music on my computer:
I'm going to count my external hard drive because I don't store any MP3s on internal anymore. So, that being said, total volume of music? 263 GB, approximately 30k songs. I haven't calculated the cumulative time of all that music, largely because I'm afraid to add them all to my iTunes library. I use it as a record store of sorts. If I want to buy it, I check the drive to see if I don't already own it, so far I'm 8 for 10.

The last CD I bought
Uh...The Garden State Soundtrack. For my wife. She loves it. For me, it would be the last song I downloaded...Matisyahu, King Without A Crown

Song playing right now
This isn't a fair question. Nothing as I started this, but when I went to look at the library to check my stats, a song started playing. That song, One Minute Massacre by Mix Master Mike. Now, at this moment, Rusholme Ruffians, by The Smiths is playing.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton
I'm not sure if all of them have a forum for showing this information but, here we go: TravelChick, Alex, Peter, Ami, and Tank.. If you don't have a place, post it in a comment on here.

May 06, 2005

I'm Creeped By ♥ NYC.

Walking out of the office yesterday, I was ushered across the street by some member os the swat team. While I'm some what used to seeing men with machine guns around the city, specifically in Times Square and Grand Central, at my work was a little off putting.

Aparently in the early morning hours a grenade went off in front of the British consulate. This obviously sparked immediate reaction whereby the city went on alert.

My building which houses the agency I work for is also home to a Middle Eastern consulate. The perimeter of the block was guarded by men with big guns, and other men sitting in big black trucks, which I only assume turn into big guns when a button is pressed.

Security in general seemed to be stepped up. By my apartment, some 1.5 miles away from work, there was increased police presence, including several extra details at the subway stop and all along the street.

The irony (I think) of this increased security is that the jewelry store around the corner from my house was robbed overnight. I guess it wasn't an important block.

Today there was a suspicious package found under the Manhattan Bridge. Many of my co-workers were late to work because of it. In fact a rumor began that it might have been a bomb. Turns out we don't know what it was, but confirmed is that the bomb rumor starter is a dick.

On the way into work today, I was listening to End Of The Party by The English Beat. It's perfect for that gray, cool breezy morning commute.

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