Thursday, June 29, 2006

Just Needed A Change

I've decided on a new template. And I also have a fancy new blog roll thingy. Weeee. Most of my changes were fairly simple since the new template I chose was one of the ready-made templates you can just pick on blogger. But you still have to add sections like "What I'm Listening To" or your blog roll on your own into the template. You just insert them in, but it's a tedious task nevertheless. My knowledge of HTML is very limited, but I've learned a little. All I can say is what a huge pain in the ass this is! I'm glad I don't write HTML code for a living.

P.S., Can someone help me extend my left and right margins so my description is aligned with my title and so I don't have that obnoxious line going through my sidebar? And how do I extend the bottom margin of my sidebar and get rid of that extra grey shading that is creeping into my posts?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Subway Adventures

I dropped my chapstick in the subway track this morning. Well, I considered it lost since there was no way I was going to go crawling around the subway tracks to get it. Chapstick isn't that important. But would I go after an umbrella? Hmmm. Apparently, the answer was a clear and resounding yes to this woman who I observed in the subway station one day. She dropped her umbrella down in the track, and I thought, "Oh well, she lost her umbrella. That sucks." But instead of letting it go she turns to this guy and asks "If I go down there, will you help me back up?" Meanwhile, you could actually see the train headlights in the distance coming towards the station. This woman was crazy. The guy says "Uh...I guess...." Then the woman says "Don't worry, I'm a stunt woman." Thank god for that. I'm sure that reassured us all as the train was approaching closer and closer. Then this crazy stunt woman just jumped down there and jumped right back up, not really needing any help from the guy. A few minutes later, the train zooms into our station.

Wow. Somehow, me saying "Don't worry, I'm an IT Professional" doesn't have quite the same effect, at least in this situation.

G.I. Terence

For the completely narcissist individual, you too can have your own action figure. For $425, you can have your own custom made talking action figure based on any photo you send here. Think of the possibilities. You could give one as a gift to your significant other as something for him/her to remember you by. You could act your own scenes with your action figure fighting alongside the Transformers. The possibilities are endless, as long as you're not too weirded out by seeing yourself as a miniature plastic toy.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

There Goes The Neighborhood

Rents are getting too high in my neighborhood for businesses to continue operating. Just over the past six months, three take out places have closed including Chicken Fair which had really good rotisserie chicken, Rice Bowl, an Eddie Bauer, a dry cleaner, a Chinese restaurant, an EMS store, a wine store, a horridly ostentatious antique furniture store, a cell phone store, a pizza place and a deli over by the climbing wall at 62nd and Broadway. Longtime residents Lincoln Stationers and the West 63rd Street Steakhouse are also long gone. Iridium, the jazz club closed a couple years ago, and it was supposed to become a branch of P.J. Clarke's, but the sign for P.J.'s has disappeared, so who knows what that space will be.

The latest casualty in the commercial real estate war is my favorite Korean deli. It was at 182 Amsterdam Avenue at the corner of 69th & Amsterdam. Actually, it looks like the tenants on the whole block which included that antique store, and the wine store as well as Mama's Famous diner and a Chinese take out place are going to be gone as of today. Only the Citibank and the Meskerem Ethiopian restaurant are sticking it out. But I'm guessing they'll be gone too because I think the entire block is being redeveloped. Anyhow, the Korean deli was closed for a little bit a couple years ago for renovation where they got rid of that nasty hot/cold food buffet bar. Those things are gross. Store owners leave the lunch food in the hot/cold trays until dinnertime, by which time the whole buffet has become a deadly hot 'n' cold Petri dish of romping pathogens.

For 6 years, I bought milk, those sweet and chewy Korean rice cakes with red bean filling, Vitamin water, the occasional six pack of beer, Haagen-Daaz cartons, and all sorts of assorted produce at this store. I really liked this store because they really had a good selection of produce, including lots of herbs, that was always really fresh, and it was the closest place to me where I could get Kimchi. The store was clean and was practically a full grocery store. I'll be sad to see it go.

Right now, they're having a "Buy One, Get One Free" promotion on every grocery item in the store. So I stocked up on flour, sugar, kosher salt, yummy De Cecco pasta and olive oil. Actually the olive oil I got was some bottles of really nice olive oil including a couple of bottles of Oliviers & Co olive oil. Like most serious cooks, I buy a ton of olive oil. You'd think I bathed in it judging by the amount I buy. But I don't buy really expensive olive a lot of the time. So it's always nice to get a deal for really good oil.

It's really sad that neighborhood businesses have such a tough time surviving in this city. I'm going to miss all the little stores and restaurants in my neighborhood.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Life at Southfork

I really need to upgrade my home television environment. First off, I need to get a better TV. I still have the 19" TV that I bought in my Junior year of college from the Circuit City in Silver Spring, MD when I was spending the second semester of that year in DC, working at the State Department. Secondly, I really need to get Tivo. But I'm too scared that TV would become "work" for me, kind of like how Netflix got to be for me with DVDs just coming and coming in my mail, but I had no time to watch them. I'd probably have so many shows saved that I'd have to block entire weeks just to catch up. I have a lot of peripheral interests and I can usually find something to watch when I've plopped myself on the couch, especially on the National Geographic Channel or The History Channel. So you can bet I'd have a ton of shows saved up. For instance, one night I got really into this show about that oh so glorious presidential memorial at Mount Rushmore and how it was built and how long it took. The show also talked about the enormous memorial to Crazy Horse that's going to take like another 100 years to finish at the pace they're going. The next day I was talking everyone's ear off about everything that I had learned about Mount Rushmore. Everyone was probably sick of me by the end of the day spouting all my new knowledge.

I also need to upgrade my channels. HBO and Showtime are less important to me ever since Sex & The City and Queer as Folk went off the air. But I'd like to have the Digital Cable package. I used to get it, but I got rid of it as an unnecessary expense. I miss it though from time to time. I could get the extra Digital Cable package with channels like Style, the Game Show Network, and the Tennis Channel, and it would give me another outlet to catch up on all my favorite shows because they show syndicated reruns on a lot of them. But for current TV, I am in need of a new show to follow, after the cancellation of Alias. There are a couple of current shows that I like, like One Tree Hill and ER. But neither are the type of show that I would watch religiously every week and feel like I really know the characters. Plus ER has gone through so many changes that I don't know what the heck is going on. Normally, I tend to go for 1-hour dramas. Some of my other favorite tv dramas of years past are Homefront, Felicity, LA Law, Roswell, Party of Five, The Practice, Thirtysomething and The X-Files. As for other current shows, I know I should really like Lost since it is created by Mr. J.J. Abrams. And I've tried. But it's so hard to figure out what's going on unless you watch every single episode at least twice, it seems like. Ok, well I'm exaggerating, but I just need to get myself up to speed on that show and maybe Lost will become my new show for me. By the ways as a total sidebar, I had read a description of Lost in an article about upcoming shows for the next season. For some reason, I came away from that article thinking this was a reality show and there was some monster on the island killing people, sort of like a sadistic Gilligan's Island.

So to catch up on all my shows, like many people, I buy or rent television show DVDs. I like to take them with me when I travel because I never know what's on TV when I'm in another city. The next DVD, I'm thinking about getting is Dallas. I was never into the show when it was still on the air. I got into it when I was spending a summer in Korea in 1995. There was only one English channel-the channel for the US Military-and it had random American shows. Well, Dallas was one of the shows I really got into. I probably have more memories of the characters from Dallas than I do of actual events from that summer in Korea. The back stabbing, the furs in 120 degree weather, the name calling, the dirty dealings and the killer looks at the Ewing dinner table alone was Must-See TV. Dynasty was also on this channel, but I thought that show was just old people slutting around, and utterly boring. And although Dynasty had Joan Colins and Krystle's giant shoulder pads, Blake Carrington was but a pale imitation of the man the world loved to hate, J.R. Ewing (ok, so I watched a little of Dynasty).

I really got into the Dallas story. I've even visited the Southfork Ranch. I was like "Oh my god. Who shot J.R.?" Of course this was 15 years after he got shot and the whole world knew. I hear now they are making a Dallas movie. John Travolta's gonna be J.R., which sounds pretty good. But J. Lo. is going to be Sue Ellen??? Huh? Other rumored cast members are Luke Wilson, Shirley Maclaine and even Jessica Simpson. I hope the cast portrays the aura of rich people being deliciously miserable as well as the original cast.

Hopefully, I'll find my new show and have a home theatre dealy worthy of watching these shows. In the meantime, I feel like I should delete this post rather than show the evidence of my lack of life. I have a life! I'm just also autistic with this type of information.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I'm A Little Bit R&B

I had my iPod on shuffle today and at one point it played "He Wasn't Man Enough" by Toni Braxton. I remember the last time I heard this song, I was sitting in my caseroom back at my old firm. Embarrassingly, I was actually singing OUT LOUD, but I was having some trouble with the lyrics, which my co-worker so helpfully pointed out to me. Then I said, "The words to this song are hard." Then he said, to everyone in the entire room, "Yeah, Terence is at home waving his arm up in the air going 'So who do you think I am?'"

Another time my R&B taste surfaced was when I was at a bar one night for happy hour with some people from my old job. It was a divey bar and there was a jukebox somewhere in the back corner. It was getting late, and we were all getting ready to leave. All of a sudden, "Scandalous" by Mis-teeq fills the room. Like a reflex, I ask everyone "Oh, is that my phone?" My friend turns and says, laughing, "Uh, Terence, is that what you have as your ring tone???" I don't even know why I asked that since my ring tone is just the old version sounding telephone ring, like on a rotary phone.

Well, I like everything from '50s music to hard core rap, from pop to house club music (check out my "What Am I Listening To" panel on the right, for instance). But everyone seems to think I have the musical taste of a 16 year old black woman.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cheese Store Guy

Everyday on my way to and from work, I pass through Grand Central Market. The food merchants in the Market all cost a fortune, but they have really high-quality stuff. I particularly like Wild Edibles (much better than the other seafood purveyor, Pescatore) and Ceriello because I get pretty picky about seafoods and meat and am willing to spend the money to buy good quality stuff like fresh caught seafood, free range chicken or dry aged beef.

But my latest favorite store is Murray's Cheeses. I've always liked that store, and they've got one of the best selection of cheeses in the city. I'm partial to blue cheeses among which Stilton is my favorite. I love walking by the display case and smelling all the aromas and seeing all the different types of cheeses from all over the world and watching the guys and gals slice the cheese straight from the wheel. I wanna visit the Village location some time though because I heard they have paninis which sounds like a perfect snack because it's not like I go walking down the street and say to myself "I could use a nice slice of Gouda right now." But a panini with special cheese from Murray's sounds delicious.

I say Murray's is my "latest favorite" because there are many gourmet grocery stores like Citarella, Balduccis, Whole Foods or the Vinegar Factory which have excellent cheese departments. Whereas, good meat and seafood can be really hard to find. But Murray's has the best cheese-mongers, which brings me to my second reason why Murray's is my latest favorite member of the Grand Central Terminal Market. I'm swooning over one of the mongers there. The last time I was there to buy some Gorgonzola, he cut me a slice and then pointed to a new cheese made by monks in Quebec for something new to try. He's such a cutie. I *almost* didn't eat the cheese that I bought from him since his hands, albeit gloved hands touched it. But, nah, I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sterile Meryl

Last night I saw the trailer for The Devil Wears Prada. I love the supercilious looks that Meryl Streep gives her assistant while she flatly states to her without actually looking at her "Tales of incompetence do not interest me." So funny. Reminds me of my days when I used to supervise lots of staff. Well, the difference is that people liked me, and everyone knew that deep down I did care about them.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

World Cup Fever

Everyone seems to have World Cup fever. Bars are showing soccer matches instead of Yankee games; work is at a standstill; dinner discussions revolve around World Cup. I even know one person who put her blog on hiatus while the World Cup was going on because the games were taking over her life.

Is it just me or do more people in the US (or maybe I mean New York) seem to be paying attention to the World Cup than before? I don't know much about the event, but I do know it takes place every four years. And I know that in my past 16 years as a teenager and adult, I have never once paid attention to the World Cup. I vaguely remember when it was in the U.S., but it seemed like you had to practically pay people to go to the games. Now, it seems people are in disbelief when I confess that I know nothing about what is going on with the World Cup and I haven't been to a single bar to watch a game. And these are people who as far as I know have never paid attention to soccer or much less sports in general. I want to ask them, where did this sudden interest in soccer (and sports) come from?

It's all fun though, and I have to admit, the idea of heading to Germany to see World Cup matches sounds like an awesome trip to me. The main thing that has really bothered me though is the ESPN ad featuring the Ivory Coast with a voice-over by Bono. The story, as told by Bono, is that the country has called a cease-fire to its Civil War while the Cote D'Ivoire makes its way through the World Cup. I'm rooting for them, but it kind of boggles the mind that a sport is powerful enough to stop a civil war. And what about afterwards when the Ivory Coast team will be eliminated? Not to be a downer, but Ivory Coast is no Brazil in the soccer world. Are they just gonna go back to fighting? And how about the players? Talk about pressure. That's kind of a lot pressure to put on these players. They now have peace in their country resting on their shoulders. Are they gonna be shamed when they come back home?

Anyway, I have no idea what's going on in the World Cup now or if it's even over already. It does seem like a good time though. Maybe I'll catch the fever in 2010.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Taking Things Seriously

I saw X Men 3 last weekend. I enjoyed it, but I missed Nightcrawler. He was in X2, but I guess Alan Cumming didn't sign on for the third installment. Actually, I heard he bought his contract out because he just couldn't stand the hours in the makeup chair everyday. Oh come on, Alan. At least you got to wear clothes. Rebecca Romijn had to endure the same type of hours in the make-up chair AND walk around butt-naked with only little pasty things strategically stuck on her body. If Rebecca can do it, you can too.

Anyhoo, when I got to the Loews theater at 34th & 8th, I saw gay guys swarming the place. Hmmmm, I thought. I guess 34th & 8th is kind of close to Chelsea, forgetting that there are at least 2 or 3 movie theaters in Chelsea itself. Soon I saw my friend, C, and when I got closer he said to me "There's a gay festival going on." I just said, "yeah, must be." We bought our tickets for X Men and headed over to the escalator to head up to our theater. But then I saw another friend of mine, N, and I said hi to him. I asked him,

"What movie are you seeing?."

"Oh, I'm here for the gay film fest," he replied.

"Oh yeah? Where have I been? I didn't know there was a gay film festival!"
My friend, C, gave me a weird look and said, "Uh, I just told you that." A light bulb went off in my head. I felt stupid because I thought my friend was just making fun of the crowd. "I thought you were joking," I told him.

This conversation reminded me of this one time back in high school, when I was driving with a friend of mine after school on a Friday. My high school ended early on Fridays. And my friend and I were looking for a place for lunch. I was thinking Bodo's, this really good bagel place in Charlottesville and which has bagels that really are almost as good as H&H here in New York. On the way to Bodo's is a whole strip of little restaurants and fast food places. Before I could suggest Bodo's, we passed by Long John Silver's. My friend suggests "Hey, how about Long John Silver's?" I didn't say anything and just drove right on past it.

Soon I hear "Um, hello? Did you hear me? How about Long John Silver's?" It dawned on me that he was serious when he suggested that. "Oooohhhh," I laughed. "I thought you were kidding" because why on earth would anyone want to go there?

On the other hand, it's amazing some of the crazy stuff that people tell me once in a while that I actually do believe.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Recommended Reading

I heard on the radio today that the price of People magazine is going up by fifty cents. I don’t regularly read People, but I’ll flip through it if I see it at the dentist’s office, and when I do flip, I have to say that I do read 75-80% of it. But I’ve never been inclined to actually buy an issue.

Us Magazine, on the other hand, I’m very embarrassed to admit is great. People has too many human interest stories about septuplets or diet successes that don’t interest me at all. But it’s less embarrassing to say “I read in People…..” vs “Oh I read in Us…..” People is slightly more legitimate news than Us. Nevertheless, I had never read an issue of Us until two or three years ago when someone at work had a copy. I was bored, and so I took it and went back to my office and closed the door. I was ENGROSSED. I came out of my office an hour later, having read the entire issue cover to cover, which in an hour means I read it in-depth since issues of Us aren’t very long. I came out and declared to everyone in the room, “Us is my new favorite book.” For the next month, I was quoting from Us Magazine constantly or saying “I heard in Us….” or “Well, according to Us Magazine….”

At least I never subscribed to Us and it’s still just barbershop/waiting room reading for me. Then one day, someone at work got a job at Star Magazine and some people asked me if I read Star.

I replied, “Oh no. I won’t read that because THAT'S trash.”

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

My Career Journey

I've been working in the legal area for the past 7 years. My first job out of college was as a Legal Assistant at one of the big corporate white-shoe law firms down on Wall Street. I did it kind of by default because I had done a summer job at another big firm down in DC. The money was nice at both jobs, and there were all sorts of perks which afforded me a kind of "rock-star" life. Well, that's what my friends seemed to think since I was transported everywhere around the city by one of the ubiquitous black Lincoln town cars or traveling to Australia on a $15,000 first-class ticket, or eating at some super-expensive, five star restaurant all on the company's dime. But after 6 years of moving up through the ranks and establishing myself as Senior Case Manager and countless all-nighters, I couldn't deal with the hours anymore.

So I made a switch to a much smaller company based out of San Francisco. My new company is a legal tech company whose clients are mostly law firms and corporate in-house legal departments. It's a start-up and I joined only a few months after they opened their first New York office. At first, I was excited because I thought I'd get a lot of business experience and would get to experience a different non-law firm environment. I also thought I'd get to share in the wealth with a start-up dot com since I knew from first-hand experience how legal technology and online document management are expanding rapidly.

Corporate law firms are funny places. You work on cases involving faceless parties about issues which no ordinary human would ever really care about, and get lost in all the legal mumbo-jumbo back and forth and the archaic procedures and pettiness that rear their ugly heads. At at no other type of business, will you find people doing the most pointless tasks that people do at law firms. And non-lawyer support staffers REALLY have a hard time caring all that much while doing these pointless tasks. Let's face it. Most of them went to college, got a liberal arts degree, and imagined doing a job that made them feel like their expensive college education was worth it. But the worst thing about being a legal assistant is working on a case in which it's really hard to care about the issues and participants because you're defending billion-dollar companies who perhaps have done some not so honorable things. Sure, there are people involved, but it just becomes a sea of names, and pretty soon you go from one case to another, not really knowing what the issues are, dealing with mountains of documents and just doing the work.

Now I could have made more of an effort perhaps to get more involved, and I do get involved, but only enough to help me get my work done faster and more efficiently. In all honesty, I really didn't care because I'm not at all interested in the work that I ending up pigeon-holing myself into. When I left my old firm for my new job, I thought I'd get a different perspective in my field and even branch out into a different role. Well, my job function has changed somewhat, but at its root, I still deal with the same types of issues that infuriated me at my old job, and I realized that I just want out of this field altogether. The worst part is that I have gotten super-busy and have had to work some evenings and weekends. I was supposed to leave that all behind when I left my old firm. Last week was one of my worst ever at my new job, and Friday, with all the monsoons that New York has been having, I was in the crabbiest mood.

What would I like to do? Well, I only realized this a few years ago, but I would like to work in hotels. I'd like to work for the corporate organization of a hotel company like Hyatt or Starwood in the area of branding or brand equity. I like thinking about the different types of guests who stay in hotels including thinking about what I like in a hotel. I like thinking about locations and the overall guest experience in the room, the overall property and other amenities and loyalty programs.

Unfortunately, the only practical way for me to get into this is to go back for business school. But I have a hard time motivating myself to get back into studying for the GMAT and preparing myself to apply. I've made some attempts and even taken the GMAT, but I need to really buckle down and do it.

Then again, the other day, I tried the "Self-Checkout" at Food Emporium. Who knew scanning bar codes could be so much fun?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Nigella Returns

So my favorite TV chef is finally returning to the US television market. Food Network has come to their senses and commissioned Nigella Lawson to create a show based on her best-seller (and my personal favorite Nigella book), Feast. The show will be called Nigella Feasts.

I like to think that my letter to Food Network a couple months ago played a small part in this move.