Friday, September 28, 2007

In the circle game

I walked down the hallway here at work, looking at the activity in the
cafeteria, people standing and talking next to a cubical, and I
thought about how an office is analogous to how life goes on when you
die.

One minute you're in the office, a part of the culture, organizing
meetings and working. You pass by your coworkers daily, have small
talk with them, meet up for lunch. Then you switch jobs and leave.
Depending on your social and organizational place in the company, you
are grieved for but everything continues as it did while you were
there and if you could pop in and observe them, it's like you were
never there at all save for your personal interactions, as everything
keeps on going.

That's how I imagine it is when we die. People in our circle are
impacted, but the world, the machine that is our neighborhood, our
cities, our country just moves on like you weren't even there. It is
sustained as people come and go. It is bigger than a single individual.

I don't mean to sound nihilistic, and I'm not saying that are lives
are anymore meaningful or meaningless than it already is. But when I
walked down that hallway, it occurred to me how sustainable these
companies are, how who we are is less important than the role, and
that once you're gone your space is filled and things keep going on
without you.

All this to say that I got a job offer, from that company where I had
that awful interview. I start in three weeks.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

OMG EWWWWW

Holy crap! Just watched an episode of Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. I have never been so disgusted and I almost, almost, was going to give up eating out at restaurants.

Ok, so this is what happened. Well first, let me set this up. This is Gordon Ramsey's American show. He has a UK version of Kitchen Nightmares (which I used to watch when I had DirecTV. Sigh) where he goes to resturants that are on their last legs and helps them out. Sometimes they survive and thrive after he helps and sometimes the owners can't manage it and the restaurant fails. The US version is the same concept.

So ok. Chef Ramsey goes to this Indian restaurant, thankfully one that I never been to. OMG this kitchen is absolutely filthy. He's pulling out rotten meat, green chicken, rotten tomatoes. He goes downstairs to the basement and there are rat droppings and roaches everywhere, in boxes and in a refrigeration unit. He pulls back the rubber sealant on the unit and it's alive with roach activity. I thought I was going to lose it.

On a commercial break I look up the restaurant, to see what if anyone has had to say about it. Then I look up the NYS health inspection report. Bam, closed by the health department earlier this year!

But wait. Chef Ramsey turns this place around. He hires cleaners for the kitchen and takes the managers and owners to his own restaurant to show them how clean a kitchen can be. Let me tell you, that made me feel much better to see his kitchen but it also made it clear how much of a roll of the dice it can be to eat out. (Chef Ramsey's kitchen is spotless but unless you go back there you will never really know. I wish I could tour kitchens. I'm one that judges by the bathroom. It's an area that's highly trafficked and gets very dirty, much like a kitchen. If they don't care what their customers think, imagine the kitchen. Dirty bathroom = dirty kitchen.) Back at the restaurant the dining area is remodeled and the restaurant is renamed Purnima. At the end of the show things are looking up, the kitchen is clean and the food is fresh.

This was a tough episode to watch. I love Indian food and I've been in some places where I suspected the kitchen was pretty bad. I may never go out to eat again but I can't wait for more kitchen nightmares!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

new domain

I bought the domain www.imnotaplasticblog.com, so you can access the blog using that instead of typing out the entire blogger url.

Retro TV Logos

This brings back a lot of memories. See if you can remember some of the shows these logos are from. Muppet Show, Greatest American Hero, Zoom, Family Ties are the ones I instantly remembered.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ban The Carriage Horse Industry in New York City

OK, This is something that has bothered me for a while. Why do we still allow horse-drawn carriages in the city? This weekend, a horse died after being spooked by a drummer. I hate to hear stories like this and hate to hear of a horse being hit by a car. It's completely unnecessary to have horses pulling these carriages. I do not understand why people think that it's romantic. I've walked past the horses near Central Park and it's heartbreaking. They look so sad. They are stuck on a street with noise, cars, trucks and buses pulling a carriage. It's a freaking hard life on an animal. And where do the horses live when they're not working? In small stables on 37th street far on the West side where they can't even lie down. When the horse gets too old or weary of the street, they are replaced. If they are injured, they are replaced. What does replaced mean? Some go to good homes, but how many homes can take in a horse? So they get sent to auction and then potentially to a slaughterhouse.

It's all about the cash. It's not fair. They do not deserve to be used and treated like this.

If this is something that has bothered you, or you're just thinking about it now, please sign the Ban The Carriage Horse Industry in New York City Petition

More info here.

"Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself know peace." - Albert Schweitzer.

Friday, September 14, 2007

But I can locate the U.S. on a map!

My interview with the CEO at a SoHo start-up started ok. He was a
young, pleasant looking guy. The room was very warm, and I took off my
jacket and drank liberally from the ice cold Poland Springs I was
handed, but I wasn't sweating. Still, I was nervous and aware that I
was speaking full sentences in single breaths, but I was making sense,
and quickly calmed down. I tend to ramble a bit and as I was talking,
the CEO kicked off his shoes and tucked his legs under himself on the
couch. Like one does at home in front of the tv.

That was really weird. I kept on going. Actually this discussion - he
stressed that he wasn't interviewing or testing me, he only wanted to
get a sense of who I was- went well and he was true to his word. The
job, product managing the site, developing new ideas and managing them
through implementation, sounds exciting and challenging to me,
different than my current business analyst role but one that still
benefitted from my 7 years of experience. My "discussion" with the CEO
was the fourth time I had been to their office and I had one more
interview left, with the CCO, right afterwards.

The CEO liked me and let me know that I had his vote. So with a
feeling of ease, I went on to meet with the CCO. "Name something
you've accomplished, either in your personal or professional life that
you're proud of and that went against the norm."

Huh? My mind went swirling, looking for professional and personal
moments that fit. Putting myself through college came to mind. It was
the only thing that came to mind and to my horror, I started to share
this story out loud.

I went into a total nosedive, hearing myself tell this man that my
parents didn't go to college, talking about how I worked full time and
won a scholarship, and all the while I'm saying to myself, "Abort!
Abort!" and I'm trying to find ways to undo this story while at the
same time mentally cursing myself out. I felt like Miss South Carolina
Teen USA
crashing and burning, unable to stop.

The interview did get better than that moment, I did go on to answer
his questions with relevant professional examples, but it was tough.
The issue I was stuck on, the question I could not satisfactorily
answer was to give an example of how I'm creative in my job. I was
struck down. My job isn't creative. All creative energy has been
sucked out, I've been beat down at this job I've held for over 3
years. So I explained that my job isn't creative, not in the way he's
looking for, but that I am creative in my personal life, that I write,
and that I was here to find a job where I could be more creative in my
professional life.

It wasn't a smooth interview. It wasn't my best performance. I left
feeling like I made up some ground, noticed that folks, including the
receptionist, were still there at 6:30 (vastly different from the 9-5
jobs I've held for most of my adult life), briefly worried if I'd be
expected to do the same, and then reminded myself that this job went
from being a sure thing to highly questionable.

So I don't know if they will extend an offer. How heavily will one bad
interview out five weigh? I do not know. If I don't get the job I will be
ok. If I do get the job, I'll have to deal with the concerns of
working at a start-up and having a work/life balance. In the meantime,
I'm trying to forgive myself for making a professional blunder.

Ugh. At least I'm not all over you tube.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, September 13, 2007

you may have noticed

I've been playing around and now I have options on my posts for you to digg it, (I know you dig it but you can digg it too. HAR.), add it to del.icio.us or share it on facebook. O la la, if you use any of these features I'll laugh my ass off (You can use it if you deem it worthy, I'm just playing with you). I'm just having fun, it makes my site look so serious and with it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

And where will this get me?

Ok. I did something today that's a little unplanned, a little crazy
that has an uncertain future.

I froze my gym membership.

I've frozen it for the next 3 months and I have many reasons why this
seemed logical to do.

1) I haven't been going to the gym. Since the weather got nice earlier
this year I've been running in the park. It's actually something I
enjoy doing, (but yes, August was indeed too hot for me to run outside
so instead I sat on my couch watching tv but whatever it's getting
cooler out). I want to run outside for as long as I can stand it as
it's infinitely more interesting than staring at the back of some guys
head on a treadmill.

2) I'm really not into the gym routine anymore.
The thought of the process involved to get there, take stuff out of my
rented locker, take my clothes off, put my gym clothes on, workout,
take my gym clothes off, shower, put my work clothes back on (yes, I
brought clean undies along) makes me want to sit on the couch and
watch tv while eating chips. And the workout is so routine. I've been
doing the gym thing for a 13 years. Time to do something else for a bit.

3) I want to try doing yoga and pilates.
Every time I say "yoga and pilates" I have to do so like Madonna does
in American Life and I feel really, really gross. But I do like y&p
and want to give it an honest try because I see myself as someone who
would get a lot of emotional, spiritual and health benefits from yoga
and as for pilates, everyone i've seen who does it has an awesome body.

I wonder how this all will work out. I'm not trying to doom myself
before I start but this is a vastly different fitness program for me.
I'll have to get appropriate running apparel for the fall, probably
get new sneakers in a month, sign up for some y&p sessions and really
stay committed and see if this new program is better than going to the
gym once in a while.

I do wonder about strength training. I hate doing it and pilates
probably won't take care of my needs. Will I buy free weights?
Probably not, but I'm going to try this for 3 months and go from
there. I can always unfreeze my gym membership.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ack! Sexism


Those of you not watching Madmen, and please let that be none of you, know that the show is my new obsession, with its nostalgia, great set design and fashion, and intriguing characters and plot. It's so good that I may even buy the DVD when it comes out. Don't miss this show, people!

Anyway, through my fascination with Madmen I found Jetpack's blog and yesterday he posted a vintage ad (which I copied over from his site, but do check out his blog) that reminds me of the sexism that pervades the world of Madmen and which seems totally unreal. I don't know when this ad was published, but ewww it's real all right.

Today

I'm glad it's an ugly, rainy day today instead of a brilliant, shockingly beautiful Tuesday like it was six years ago. You know, I still can't believe that it happened, even though I remember things clearly, remember briskly walking through the WTC concourse, buying my metrocard at 8:44 am at the Cortlandt Street station, feeling the weird rocking sensation at 8:46 on the train that didn't leave the station or had even closed its doors.

Had I decided to stay on that train instead of stepping back onto the smoky platform I wouldn't have stepped outside, wouldn't have seen the scared woman who told me things were falling from the sky, wouldn't have seen the burned business documents floating down landing at my feet, wouldn't have seen the second plane hit the building, wouldn't have been knocked down to the ground and nearly trampled, wouldn't have met up with a bunch of guys who all had the same gut feeling to get as far away as possible from the buildings for fear that it would fall like dominoes. Between some buildings near the seaport, we looked for a fallout shelter and watched and heard the first building fall and started running again.

Had I stayed on that train until it left the station, it wouldn't have changed what happened that day, just my own experience of it.

I will never, ever forget the lives lost that day here in NY and the mark it made on my life, on this city, and on this country.

My Street: Then and Now

I found a picture of my street and building from 1916 so I decided to take a photograph of how the street looks now, from around the same spot as the original photographer (click on image for larger view).

1916


2007


Not many trees in the 1916 shot and only a few things changed on this side of the street. I'll take another photo when the leaves are no longer on the trees to get a better comparison.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The road home

Well the trip is almost over. I'm at the gate waiting for by flight,
which appears to be somewhat on time. So, now is a good time to post
some reflections of the trip.

* I shouldn't give Spanish-only speakers such a hard time. I brushed
up on my Spanish ordering coffee and met some nice waitstaff.

* I really like seeing my grandparents. I don't call them enough.

* Grandpa told me that his life passed, snap, like that and now he's
going to be 76. It's really fast so live large.

* There are a lot of brazilians in Florida.

* Family gossip can be interesting but otherwise sucks when you get
sucked into it and have to repeat what you heard.

* I love the rain in Miami, how it's rains heavily and quickly.

* I really like seeing the clouds at dusk, and looking at them over
the sawgrass, wondering how long will we have this before it gets
developed.

* I love driving on the highways in Florida and how I know where I'm
going. It's such nostalgia and it makes me happy.

* I really like driving in the sawgrass expressway at night.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hot sauce

I think I've mentioned this to some of you, that our family makes hot
sauce. This is my uncle's jar. He was kind enough to give me a bottle
of peppers to start my own. He gave me the instructions (secret) but I
usually screw it up. Let's see if I can get it right this time.

I didn't take the photo though. My 14 yr old cousin, a fantastic
amateur photographer, took the photo.

Coffee

Miami is filled with these tiny Cuban restaurants where everyone
speaks Spanish and the cafe cubano is flowing. I'm sitting at the
counter Waiting for my cafe con leche and tostada which she's making.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Greetings from the airplane's bathroom

No mile high club, but some photo action.