Sunday, May 22, 2005

More News, Interspersed: Take It Or Leave It

So the Yankees got routed by the Mets, I spent the day cleaning, organizing, prepping laundry, doing work, enjoying the New York air (seriously, I was) and touched base with my other half throughout the day.

The stuff of excitement it's not.

At this point, despite the random dreariness of my preparation for my other half's arrival, we're looking forward to a semi-scheduled week of activities. Aside from the regulatory stuff, ie stuff you shouldn't be privy to, we've got the Philharmonic, some restaurants, some friends and some other visits/events/ideas penciled in. For the most part, we'll wing it, as per usual -- aside from seeing friends in town that we don't normally run into, we're opting for the fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants mentality, as we don't know how much sleep we'll be getting so we can't stack the days with activity. For the most part, while we do have a checklist and an itinerary, we've pretty much accepted that as long as we're hanging out, it doesn't matter where or with whom -- we know we'll have fun no matter what the situation.

However, in order to make sure everything's peachy, I got a lot of the cleaning out of the way today so Wednesday night is just a spruce-up and not a monthly round-up of dust bunnies, empties and refrigerator gremlins I can no longer recognize (meatcake!!!!). On top of that, a friend of mine who started up a blog asked me to help her with the set-up, so I spent some time thereon -- swing by her site (the link to the left for LisaBinDaCity POV).

Between making sure the bathroom sparkled and the kitchen was safe for human survival, I did about two hours' worth of top-to-bottom cleaning. I probably should call MeIris but my common sense and my memory suggest otherwise. If I haven't mentioned MeIris before herein, she was the cleaning woman who came by my apartment every other week -- actually, whenever she felt like it -- and would charge me $75 to clean my apartment. If she switched the days on me and didn't let me know, she'd show up, make sure the super didn't let her into (and therefore not clean) my apartment, then call me a few times and inform me she expected to be paid anyway. This happened a few times -- each time she had very creative excuses for not showing up on the specified day. One of her better ones was that she had to go to the doctor to check her feet. Since she spoke barely any english, I assume she meant she wanted to have the doctor check to make sure her feet were okay (as opposed to not there, abnormal, excessively odiferous, etc.). So needless to say, after I hit her with a $75 bonus for Christmas in 2003, and then she showed up, unannounced in January and did the phone call advisory for another $75 despite not cleaning my apartment, I cut her loose. So I would rather, at this point, clean the place myself than deal with the bullshit. She's not a bad person, she's just lazy, selfish, stupid and lazy (I mentioned lazy twice for a reason).

So the two-hour Saturday super-clean was successful, and the bathroom -- especially the toilet -- sparkled like the sheen of Yul Brynner's noggin (while he was alive). Then I went out to do some errands in lieu of a postponed work-errand. I was originally supposed to meet a friend of mine who wholesales computer hardware and accessories at my office to replace a malfunctioning hard drive in the office server, but he couldn't easily give me an hour or ninety minutes today so tomorrow AM is where we're now at. He's doing me a favor by basically giving me the replacement drive at cost, so him going out of his way is something I'm neither demanding nor expecting. Just by getting me the part he's doing me a favor, so once it's a done deal I'll buy him lunch and we'll go on until the next thing in the office explodes and needs immediate attention.

In addition, I am in the process of getting a WiFi card for my Palm/PDA, a Tungsten T3, which is overall a nifty lil' machine. It does Word, Excel and PDF stuff, so everything I need -- my schedule, my friends/contacts and a load of photographs -- are always with me (except when I forget to haul it along with my other crap). Problem is that it's a dead end -- meaning if I'm out of the office or away from home for more than a few hours and I need to check out something online -- whether for work or play -- I have to wait until I'm back at home or the office to find a way back to the 'Net. In a word, that blows. Being a resident/traveler of NYC means I should be able to grab a wireless connection around the City and log into my e-mail server almost anywhere at the drop of a dime; also, having access to Mapquest is awesome if I'm trying to find a building's specific location or to find out which stop to exit a subway. On top of that, I'm planning, in the next six months, to roll out a Net-based connection to our office server to allow my dad, while he recuperates, to get info off the server without having to bother us in the office to a) discuss what he needs; b) look it up; c) fax it to him; d) get the phone call from him explaining that he needed something other than what he received; and e) repeat the entire process. So the shortened version of the otherwise long story is this: once I get that implemented, both he and I can access a load of info that would and will help tremendously.

Incidentally, ten years ago, we invested in a product called pcAnywhere, which was sold by Symantec (or Norton) and, in tandem with a telephone switch, allowed us to dial into the office and access the server. Problem was/is it never really worked properly; the phone was always slow, and as soon as we upgraded to digital phone service through Verizon (not VOIP -- that came later), the process of working over the phone lines went from tricky to impossible. With the net, however, it's as easy as installing a web-based front end with a firewall exception, and unless some shitbird in some eastern bloc republic happens upon an IP of ours, we won't be attracting visitors or malicious attention. So that's a project for down the road.

So...once I nab the WiFi card it will be an omnipresent part of the work-day. Plenty of friends have Internet-capable cell phones, but the browsers thereon are awful, they're slow, they nail you with super-high per-use/monthly charges, and there's no way to effectively transfer phone-based content to a portable (be it computer or PDA). So that's no solution. Blackberry is a joke because it's barely legible and it's yet another device on an increasingly filled-out equipment belt. On the other hand, I did try using a WiFi-enabled Palm for about ten days last summer; I travel pretty thoroughly throughout Manhattan so I made a point of stopping every so often and assessing the ease of obtaining a free connection. Unfortunately, I found that 90% of the time I either needed to get a password, a T-Mobile account, or fucked. In fact, the only place I consistently was able to access the 'Net with the WiFi portable was near a small newstand/kiosk by the City Hall subway stop (the N/R/W lines, Broadway & Centre Street). It was a semi-privately-sponsored WiFi connection, but it would die after thirty minutes of use; now wireless 'Net access is slow on WiFi-enabled Palms, but it's not THAT slow. So I found I could access e-mail, check for any DOB (Department of Buildings) updates, and keep up with the Yankees scores (for Wednesday day games) without a problem -- all within about six or seven minutes. So no worries. But having one or two places -- and no more -- to reliably access the Net wirelessly is like having a cell phone that can only be used in two or three specific locations within a City. In other words, it was pointless. So I returned the Palm and went about my business. Fast forward a year later, to a WiFi enabled world (Starbucks and McDonalds offer WiFi connections -- need I say more?). So I'm giving it another shot. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't work -- but it's too juicy and too useful to continue to ignore. It's sort of like people who refuse to get cell phones; unless a person is a) paranoid and deathly afraid of potential cancer from cell use; b) extremely boring and devoid of anything resembling a life; c) cheap as all hell; or d) all of the above, there's no reason to not get a cellphone these days. They're relatively cheap (phones are free) and the plans are decent ($25 for a decent, usable plan). My point is that the cellphone has become so thoroughly ubiquitous that NYC courts who once confiscated them to prevent people using them during court proceedings no longer enforce that policy. So unless you closely resemble one of the above-listed descriptions, you should probably be carrying a cellphone, even if it is to call and say "They're all out of Kung-Pao chicken, but the pound is making a delivery in an hour, so if you want me to wait, I can go to Earl's Tire and Bait Shack and come back later."

But I digress.

I am still going back-and-forth with my other half's dad via e-mail, and we made a bet as to the Yankees' position in the standings come June 4th. It's a gentleman's bet, although we did put a $20 on it; I'd never take his money (being able to tease him for the next year or ten would be preferable to a Jackson in my pocket) and he'd never take mine (knowing I'd continue to mention Derek Jeter's injury today and a half-dozen other factors, including the fact that The Turtleneck should never have acquired Randy Johnson). But since -- in all seriousness -- it's all in fun, it's really impressive that he's not overbearing or investigative but enjoying the interplay. And in his most recent e-mail, he asked -- in a very candid, menschy way -- how my dad was doing and wished him a continued, quick recovery. In a past life, I would have anticipated that interest as a sneaky, non-altruistic way to check the status of our business and our future. Knowing my other half, and knowing her father, it's clear his inquiry was nothing more than him being a caring, considerate, menschy guy. What a change, and what a pleasure.

Aside from the bad timing and judgement on my part, my one real regret -- other than my father's health deteriorating so rapidly, which is of course a major, major regret -- was that I didn't meet her sooner. If I played my own personal version of "What If," I could surmise that she and I would be happily living in NYC, our families would genuinely enjoy interacting, and all of the pain, aggravation, frustration and dysfunction I experienced first-hand would have been erased and replaced by smiles, happiness and lots of good things. But as a friend of mine recently told me, life is a staircase -- "you can't get to the top without climbing up from the bottom." This sort of parallels my own summation of this ironic, reversal of fate, courtesy of Steve Miller's 'Jet Airliner,' which features the lyric: "You've got to go through hell before you get to heaven." It's funny how songs, movies, books and friends always seem to be able to sum things up so perfectly, so appropriately, almost as if they've been there, done that...

And to expound on that "Jet Airliner" theme, if nothing else, it reminds me that I need to schedule a flight to/from the Coast ASAP. I'm in the middle of a journey and I know where I've been, I know where I'm at, and I know where I want to go. I think I know how to get there, and I need to be on my way.

In life, seems to me, that's all for which we ever should really hope.

1 comment:

LisaBinDaCity said...

Loved the staircase quote... very true!

I need to clean my apt., Could I have MeIris's number :-)