Friday, April 30, 2010

My views on the usefulness of e-books as the owner of a Kindle

So I finally decided on an e-book reader and chose the Kindle over the Nook. Now I won't get into the debate concerning the different machines. In addition, will not be getting into the debate on the pricing of e-books compared to books in print. I will say that authors should be paid what they deserve based on book sales (print and digital). What I did want to address was the comment that a friend of mine made (that I will refer to a SG) about my using a Kindle. Here are her exact words:

"Society is coming to an a REAL book!"

Now, I know some of it was tongue in cheek (at least I believe it was) but she was serious about her preference for books over digital versions and their reading apparatus. To that I say: Cool. I mean everyone is entitled to what they like and dislike. Hey, I like books too. In her defense she never did say that she hated e-books but that she preferred actual books:

I like BOOKS....pages, binding, notes in the margin...BOOKS! Sorry...its not the same to cuddle in bed with a book as a...electronic pad. I refuse to be converted! =)

Hey, I'm not in the converting business so no worries there =P But what I find odd is that fellow historians (in general, not SG specifically) would be against the use of an e-book. I can see the objection of people who work and make their living in the publishing field. But for those of us who are in the field of information, the digital preservation and distribution of material is not destroying society. On the contrary, by taking old books and manuscripts that due to their age are in limited use can now be accessible to more people. Books will no longer be a victim of time and be only available to only a choice few.

Will e-books totally eradicate print? Personally I don't think so. I think both mediums can co-exist reaching a wider reading population in their own ways. As for me, my field requires that I use books. As a historian, I need books to cite the information that will help me prove or disprove my thesis statement. What I hate is when public books are defaced by people writing in them and ripping pages out. But with the changing of the times, more and more information is available digitally (online and in different e-book formats). With having complete (and unmolested) books online, research is optimized not limited. With that said, the ways of citing said information has adapted to include online materials. In my humble opinion, it is not the way the information is delivered and presented that is important but the information itself.

What do you think.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Here's to Kindred Spirits

Just wanted to pass along this funny website that I came across after reading an article in today's New York Daily News. In an article named Take That, Subway Slime, the following website is listed:

There are some funny pictures of people eating and making a mess of not only the train and themselves. Check it out and send any pics you might have of urban piggies in action.


To Wing or Not To Wing

A guy was eating buffalo wings at the bar and this couple was observing his methodology when eating his wings compared to the gentleman of the couple. Here is their conversation.

Gal: See that's how you eat wings, you always leave meat on the bone.

Guy: No I don't I only leave the gristle and stuff.

Gal: No you don't. You should be embarrased to leave the meat on the bone.

Guy: Sorry I don't have the skill to eat wings like you do. Hey, I'm black and I love chicken wings but I was raised in a white neighborhood. So there.

Take that baby. LOL.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How US Steel Can No Longer Say We Can Build It

I was leafing through the Business of Green special section for Earth Day in Thursday's NY Times and saw something that disturbed me. In an article named Edging Back to Nuclear Power, the topic covered is how there is a renaissance in the demand for nuclear power and new power plants. Being a product of the 70's and 80's, I know enough about the fear of nuclear meltdown and nuclear war to last me multiple lifetimes. But that is not what bothered me. Here is what I read that did the trick:

One symptom of the national ambivalence about nuclear power is that the American industry no longer has the ability to build 100 reactors itself; the American steel industry no longer has the capacity to build the biggest parts, the reactor vessels.

Really? So when did we become pussies who found it easy to say we can't when a few generations ago all we could say was we can. What happened to the power of US Steel? It has been replaced by overseas producers of steel such as the Japan Steel Works. As the article describes it:

Most of such parts comes from Japan Steel works, which takes 600-ton steel ingots and presses them like Play Doh into the appropriate shape. It recently installed its second press and planned to be able to build 12 reactor vessels a year.

For an American company to do the same would require an enormous capital investment.

So while the proverbial Rome burns, our citizens stand by arguing about who should be covered by health insurance, how to curb the flow of illegal aliens and celebrating the rise of mediocrity found on reality TV and other media. We've allowed ourselves, through hubris and false bravado to deteroirate to the point that an island country not even a quarter of the size of our country with limited natural resources, to make products with ease in the same way we did in the 1940's and 1950's. Nothing against Japan, more power to them, but the way this country has become dependent on foreign oil, foreign manpower and foreign products, we've become a rotten, rusted and broken down shell of our former selves.

Hey, the consolation is that now the United States is part of the global economy, right?. Hello? We WERE the global economy. We rebuilt the same Europe and Japan after World War II that has vaulted past us in all aspects in recent years. Truly embarrasing.

I'm not one to be all rah rah and ultra patriotic but instead of our fellow Americans acting like petulant children in the schoolyard arguing about bullshit, we should look inward, pull ourselves up by our proverbial bootstraps take our asses to work rebuilding ourselves, for ourselves, by ourselves.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

To Drink or Not to Drink

As those of you who have previously read this blog page know what I work in a bar. For those of you who have read this blog and know me personally know that I have worked in bars and clubs for over 15 years, since November 1995 to be exact. I have met some beautiful and amazing people in my travels along the booze trail. I have also seen what the results of that walk can do to the same beautiful and amazing people.

People cease to be beautiful (regardless of what the beer goggles say) becoming ugly, contorted shells of their former selves. Loss of balance, rank breath (before and after the eventual eruption from the belly) and abrupt changes of moods from good to bad in a matter of seconds are some of the more innocent of the symptoms that afflict the drinkers that I witness and know. I mean I should know, I've been one of the Drunken Zombies that I see on a nightly basis stumbling off from bar to bar with a blank look on their face with only one thought on their mind: Booze.

I'm not painting a pretty picture here with my little reflection on my point of view. I guess I not trying to. Why am I feeling this way? I don't really have a reason for it. Maybe I'm just getting tired of seeing broken people trying to find solace at the bottle of a glass bottle. Maybe I'm getting tired of spiritless people trying to find their missing spirit by consuming varied alcoholic spirits. Maybe the years of watching overconsumption through sober eyes have gotten to me. The bodily, mental and spiritual degeneration of a human is not a pretty sight. And here I finish writing this while at the front door at work to start my shift. C'est la vie.

Spitters at the Bar

These two dudes were standing at the bar taking turns spitting on the floor. Yes folks, spitting on the floor with other patrons around them. Justin informs me that not only were they spitting, but they were also blowing their noses and leaving the snotty remains on the bar. So as you can guess what's coming next, I approach these fools and tell them that they need to leave. Here's how the conversation went:

"Guys, you're spitting on my floor. That doesn't fly so you need to leave now."

"How do you know" Douche one says in a French accent.

"Because I saw you."

"But we have full beers" Douche two says in a non French accent

"We'll give you your money back."

"The bartender has my card."

"Even better" I say motioning for the bartender to give me back their card. While I'm doing so, these turds keep sipping from their beers. I grab one beer from in front of douche two and say

"Although you won't be charged for these beers, it doesn't mean you can drink them" I grab douche one's beer and he tightens his grip on it.

"You can not do this" Frenchie says as I take the beer away from him"

"I can do what I want." I say as Stevie steps in and says "You guys have to go...Now!"

As the douches are walking out, douche one says "This is a black and white thing" while flipping the bird to us. Yeah right, this is a douchbag/asshole thing. Moron.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Self-photography and the Grim Reaper

Part I
So this guy is practicing his self-photography abilities on the Bleecker Street platform of the Uptown 6 train. Instead of posing by the Bleecker Street sign on the pillars or while seated on the benches, he decides to lie down on his back on the platform while his head hangs over the edge. He takes different pictures from different angles with and without his arm in the shot.

He stands up and proceeds to inspect his work. I guess it wasn't up to snuff so he lies down again, except this time the 5:27am Iron Horse#4 is turning the bend in the tunnel from Spring Street and is quickly approaching the station. So he decides to lie back down and take more pictures. With the dual train lights coming closer you would think that he would stop while he was ahead. Nope, no such luck. Fortunately for this wannabe Ansel Adams, the train operator slows the train down on its way into the station. The look of disbelief on the train operator's face was classic. I wish I had a picture to show you how dumbfounded he looked as he went past me. And talking about pictures, I'd have taken a picture of the poser but someone who lies down on the train platform to photograph himself might not be keen to my taking a photo of him. Not to say that I didn't try to sneak one off. Here he is sitting on the platform as the train entered the station. As my father likes to say "Pobre America" LOL.

Part II
So as I am on my favorite filly, Iron Horse#6 on my way up to the Bronx, on boards the most faithful adaptation of the grim reaper that I have ever seen in the flesh. Allow me to describe this interesting fellow to you: He had stringy greyish brown long hair that was matted with grime and who knows what else. He was wearing a long dirty trench-coat that may have been Black at some point and gave off a non so pleasant odor of must, age and good old body funk. It looked to me that he was wearing a pair of chinos or khaki pants that surprisingly didn't look too damaged or dirty. I would comment on his shoes but to be honest, looking at his shoes would make me take my eyes off of his face, which is something that I didn't want to do.

Ah yes, that face, gaunt and tight on his chin and cheek bones. His eyes were beady, piercing and moving all over the place trying in earnest to make contact with someone. His mouth seemed to be shrinked wrapped along his gums which looked to be missing all of his pearly whites. He also seemed to need some major sun as he was a sickly shade of white.

So our protagonist would pace up and down the train car occasionally stopping in front of a random rider. In doing so, he would tap his left forefinger into the open palm of his right hand and wiggle an emphatic NO with said finger at the rider. At the 59th Street Station, he raced off the train with a whipping of his trenchcoat that would make Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera proud and off he went dashing into the night. New York City, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Where is Times Square?

As my wife, my kids and I came back from our Washington D.C. trip this past Wednesday night, we decided to make a quick detour through the brightly lit Times Square. We walk up 7th Avenue just talking about this and that when a mixed group of about six Jewish young people stopped us to ask us something. Here is the conversation:

"Excuse me, can we ask you for some directions?"
"Sure, what are you trying to find."
"We're looking for the Times Square that everyone talks about." His friends all nod in agreement. "We've been driving for hours and just got to New York City and want to see what all the fuss is about."

My wife and I just looked at each other with their last comment. Now granted, we were standing on 7th Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets, closer to Red Lobster. I waved my arm around and said:

"Well, this is Times Square." I noticed that the kids lost their energy when I showed them Times Square. In a quick thinking move, I pointed to the tall post with the colorful ball and noted that "Well, see that colorful ball right there? That's where they drop the ball on New Year's Eve".

Well that seemed to give them the proper perspective and all the teens started giggling and acting giddy. They thanked up profusely and ran off to see what else Times Square would have in store for them. My wife ended the scene properly by saying to me "They're going to get robbed tonight."

We both laughed and I hope they didn't get robbed. I'll report more on the Washington D.C. trip in a later post.