Monday, April 19, 2010

On the Art of Multi-Tasking

Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now
From Dylan's "My Back Pages", 1964

A hundred years ago when I was young and innocent and open to new ideas, I believed that "multi-tasking" was a GOOD THING.

I was a young adult. Married. Living in rural Australia. I had babies and had to "multi-task" in order to get everything done. Back in those good ol' days "multi -tasking" meant things like feeding your baby while preparing the shopping list and tidying the kitchen, scrubbing floors even.

It was something that women did. Well, maybe men did it too, but we didn't hear about it.

Times have changed and "multi-tasking' has now taken on a new meaning.

It now sort of means, "I'll-fit-you-in-when-I-have-time."

Take my phone conversation with my friend Sarah this evening. We were chatting away, discussing movies and the up-coming Tribeca film festival. If I remember correctly, we were talking about the Australian actress, Toni Collette. The conversation was getting interesting. I was CONNECTING with another person. A non-work person. A human being. Another New Yorker. Fulfillment. The meaning of life had a meaning-sort-of-thing.

Then suddenly, out of the blue, she said, "That's enough pepper and no I haven't finished my appetizer." "Oh," I said to myself, "She's at a restaurant, fitting me in between courses. No big deal."

I was unfazed. I've been a New Yorker long enough to not take offense. At anything. I waited. For the waiter to be finished - or "done" - as they say here. When it comes to food, I understand that I am second fiddle. I was patient. The background noise of the restaurant continued. Until suddenly the focus was on me!

"What did you say?" Sarah asked, after a time lapse of of several eons.

"I dunno," I replied. Truthfully. For in the time while I was waiting for her response to whatever I might have said, I'd tuned in to CNN and was watching someone-or-other interview Bill Clinton.

"No, I don't need cheese," Sarah was saying.

"Do you know there's been another eruption of that volcano in Iceland?" I replied, suddenly appreciating the meaning of "non-sequiteur".

"No I said I do NOT want cheese," she answered.

We chatted for a while in a non-connecting sort of way. And when the conversation ended (Sarah was onto the desert course) I felt fulfilled.

It's GREAT to have a New York friend.

It's great to be a New Yorker.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How Much Can a Koala Bear?

"The Tea Party is about love and respect"
"Grog39" on a CNN iReport

"Instead of simple dreams there is ugly division and abuse, much of it racial in tone: "The Zoo has an African Lion and the White House has a Lyin' African," read a sign at the 9/12 march. We need to talk about America."
Anne Summers in Tea stands for trouble as unity goes to pot

"Teacup" by Janina Green
Yes I know the Tea Party people can talk a lot of rubbish, but it wasn't the chutzpah comment about love and respect made by Grog39 on the CNN iReport that riled me; it was the fact that he illustrated his rant with a photo of a koala. What's a koala got to do with the American tea party? Last I heard, the koala is native to Australia, rarely drinks water let alone tea, and has little interest in the lunatic fringe.

It occurs to me that Grog39 is an Aussie. Wanna bet he's a 39 year old Aussie? Most likely he drinks beer. I think Tea Party people would be beer drinkers rather than wine drinkers, and the "Grog" in the name he's hiding behind lends weight to this theory.

Whatever. He's an insult to all thinking koalas.

I'm so angry with the Tea Party that I need to take my fury out on another organization. I don't want to talk about the Tea Party too much as I suspect that for them, any publicity is good publicity. They are best ignored. But I need to get rid of my anger some how, so I have decided to take on the Catholic Church, in particular the "Christian Bothers". I'm going to DEMAND a formal apology from the good brothers of the "Christian" church. There's a group called Broken Rites Australia whose byline is, "fighting church sexual abuse since 1992", and they have helped me draft a letter.

I'm going to send the letter to Director of Professional Standards, Catholic Church Victoria.

Me and my dad a hundred years ago
Part of the letter reads, "My father, William Thomas Juliff (born in 1914 but now deceased) was an orphan at St Augustine's boys home, Geelong, Victoria, about 1920 to 1924 (both those date are approximate). He was put there was he was about six.

Many years ago, my father told us that he was sexually abused at St Augustine's. Unfortunately we didn't believe him.

His brother John (Jack) Juliff (now also deceased) was also at St Augustine's at this time.
My father worked in the laundry and had little if any schooling. [...] I believe the sex was oral sex but cannot know for sure. My father left the church and hated to think of it. As a consequence we were brought up as non-Catholics."

I tried once before to get information about my father's time at the orphanage, but was never answered. On their "historical information" web page it states, in bold, "Please do NOT ask for information on people in this or other orphanages in the Geelong region - this web site ONLY covers people and details listed in the previously published microfiche of Admissions Discharges for the years 1857-1878 - I have NO other years, NO other people, NO other information!"

Let's see if I get an answer to my letter this time.

Still, it occurs to me that the "brothers" did me a favor. Had they been kindly souls and practised what they preached, then I could have very well have been brought up a Christian.

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party

I thought all you guys were wiped out years ago.
From "Alice in Wonderland" (movie) 1951

The dark shadow of Sarah Palin is trying very hard to cast a gloom over America. But most of us are ignoring it - Democrats and Republicans alike.

And after all, many of us have seen it all before.

I'm not talking about the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Joh Bjelke-Petersen or Queen Guinevere. These people had a grip on reality. I'm talking about the odd-ball who surfaces from time to time, in the political arena of the lunatic fringe.

We had one in Australia in the last century. Her name was Pauline Hanson. Her tag-line was, "Please explain." I think in her pre-political life, she ran a fish and chip shop. She had the Palin type agenda. Lower taxes, see Russia from the bedroom, a non-reader of newspapers and if not exactly burning books, never reading them.

And what did she want "explained"? One never knew. I fancy it was elementary arithmetic. Or how to spell "I can see Tasmania from my bedroom."

Watch Sarah morph into Pauline.

Unlike Sarah, Pauline Hanson did not have the good looks that attract the non-thinking, non-scoring men of America, of the world even. But it didn't matter. She could sock it to 'em. She had guts. And who needs to read anyway?

The common touch. Appealing to the people who could least afford her.

Palin: the woman who makes George W look like the reformer, no - the intellectual - of the decade.

But not to worry. If she does get in to any form of legislature, Americans and non-citizens alike, will leave the country in droves. And what will that mean for the world's stability? I remember a joke along the lines of, "What happens when Australians move to the USA?" "The IQ goes up on both sides of the Pacific."

Try as I might I can't think of how to relate this to the hopefully-it-will-never-occur-exodus-from-Palin. Let's hope it never happens. Well, I KNOW it will never happen. I have faith in humanity. The only thing good about Sarah Palin is her eye-glasses. And I've gone off them, as well.

And what of the Palin supporters? In the words of Gordon Ramsay, "Forgive them father for they have sinned."

Except we will not forgive them.

Lest we forget.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Remembering what I forgot

The Stone Age didn't end because people ran out of stones.

Commuters on the M102
I was trying to get ready for my commute to work. I love my commutes (both ways) lately, because I am reading  (on the bus, on my Kindle)  the excellent novel Solar by one of my favorite novelists, Ian McEwan.

I was ready to go, to leave the apartment. But where was my MetroCard? - a transport card we New Yorkers buy that entitles us to unlimited rides on New York buses and subways for a month.

I was running late. I searched. I rummaged through my handbag, shoving around old clumps of tissues, pay stubs, loyalty cards,  advertisements for a New York ballet in 2002, bank statements and peppermints from my nail salon.

After about twenty years I found it. "Would you believe it?" I told my husband, "It was in the last place I looked!"

How irrational! Was I having a senior moment? But this was no time for introspection and so I hot-footed it down to my bus stop.

And the New York day began.

Once on the bus, I sat down next to a woman who looked fairly normal. She was a bit noisy, but I assumed she was talking into her cellphone. For some unknown reason, people who talk into their cell phones in public, raise their voices, as if talking to the senile, the deaf, or their spouse. But THIS woman was not talking to her cell phone.

She was talking to ME. In Spanish. Now, Yo no hablo español. So I ignored her, though subliminally I thought I could hear her counting. "setenta y uno", "setenta", "sesenta y nueve".

Oh I got it. She was reciting the bus stops. From North to South. But why to me?

I avoided eye-contact and looked down, New York style, to my book.

The bus stopped. A lunatic got on with a bag that looked suspiciously like the sort of bag you are to report to 911 if unattended. But he was attending it, impeccably. He'd shove it around with his foot and if anyone dared to shift it, he'd yell, "Where do you think you are? In your own house?" and the offending foot would retreat. Shamefully.

For a minute or two I thought I was on  a London tube. Such reticence, such ill-placed politeness. But this thought quickly disintegrated when a mother and seven year old son alighted and sat next to me. The little boy was charming. After settling him on her knee, the mother said, "Hey Jeb, I forgot your lunch I'm so sorry." "Well this must be reported to the bus driver," replied the little fellow. "Jeb, I don't think you need to report me to the bus driver," the mother intervened. "Why not?" I asked, "he's reported you to the whole bus!".

She smiled and I went back to reading.

Suddenly little Jeb had an epiphany. "How come," he asked, "that you could remember that you forgot?".

I started to contemplate this too, along with the mother.

Fortunately the little boy was distracted, as at the next stop a woman who was of a certain age and eccentricity,  got on the bus, displaying very conspicuously her hair rolled around circa 1960 10 inch diameter rollers. "Why is that lady got that stuff in her hair?" shrieked little Jeb. I was coming to love that child! "Oh some ladies do that," his mother hushed him. "Then why don't YOU do that?" he answered with a child's impeccable logic. "I do!" she lied. "At the salon." But by then I was distracted by other bus events.

The manic Spanish-speaking woman counting down in Spanish had suddenly become aggressive. The man with the suspicious package had started abusing a teenager with body metal stuck in every appendage. And little Jeb was still trying to report his lunch-forgetter-mother to the bus driver.

It was my stop. Thank god. My commute was over.

The insanity was about to start!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Jaded New Yorker" Speaks Out

Nobody Told Me There'd be Be Days Like These
From "Nobody Told Me", John Lennon
Christ you know it ain't easy
From "Ballad Of John And Yoko ", John Lennon

From "Alone, reproduced with permission from sweetchuck
"Public Transportation in NYC": This is a guest story from "Jaded New Yorker"

Once upon a time I had a bus driver friend who drove the bus I take to go to work. His name was Jerry. Jerry was a driver for over 20 years and he had many stories. He also had a web page for his fellow drivers to access info about the MTA. His page included stories about what drivers encountered while driving the bus. I would often complain to him about the many things that I noticed happening on the bus. He told me to post these observations on his web page. I began an installment that I called "Points of View from a Passenger" I posted the first two parts of this mini-series and then his page blew up, (not my fault, he was using Vonage). I will however, reconstruct this mini-series for all of you very lucky readers.

Points of View from a Passenger - part one - FAT PEOPLE
Folks, FAT PEOPLE do not belong on the bus. Period. Ever get on a crowded bus and can hardly move because of the FAT PEOPLE? You try to be polite, say excuse me, and so forth, but these people get annoyed at YOU when you can’t squeeze past their gelatinous mass. The wheelchair lift in the front of the bus should be set to "eject" so we can throw them off the bus. Ahh, that’s better. No more FAT PEOPLE on the bus.

Points of View from a Passenger - part two - RUDE PEOPLE
Now we come to the RUDE PEOPLE. The blank-faced idiots that insist on standing all bunched up in the front of the bus while the whole back of the bus is clear. These lummoxes stand there, deaf and dumb and not moving, no matter how many times the driver or anyone else tells them to move back. Oh well, I say to myself, at least they are blocking the door so the fat people can’t get on. Throw the RUDE PEOPLE off the bus.

Points of View from a Passenger - part three - ANNOYING PEOPLE
There are several of these types.The Mover - these people get on the bus with ALL of their Earthly belongings. Bags, bundles, backpacks, luggage and baby carriages. An entire apartment’s worth of baggage, which of course they take up the front of the bus with. (see rude people).

The Turtles - these people are brain dead slugs, who yell "back door" so they can get off the bus after stumbling to consciousness once the bus driver has begun to pull out of the stop thus causing anyone with no patience to hasten their departure by pushing them off the bus.

The Cell Phone Talker - how many times have you been on the bus only to hear some moron say to some other moron "I’m On The Bus" Not anymore you’re not.

Points of View from a Passenger - part four - SICK PEOPLE 
Two words for all SICK PEOPLE - STAY HOME!!!!!
Germs are for homes and hospitals. If you get on a crowded bus hacking and sneezing and coughing and all phlegmy no one wants to be near you. No one wants to catch what you have. Don’t whine about you have no sick days, you can’t help it, blah blah blah, you Typhoid Mary, get off the bus.

Points of View from a Passenger - part five - STUPID PEOPLE
Well, there are so many of these it could fill a book. I’ll stick to the best of them.

Okay so you got the person who owns a piggy bank on the bus. How can you tell? They pay the $2.25 fare with 45 nickels. Takes a long time that does. They all jam up in the fare box while the person looks around to all the other passengers with a stupid grin on their face as if to say, "I can’t help being so helplessly stupid, really I can’t." BOUNCE them right off the bus.

Then you got the idiots that get on the bus asking for change. Of a Twenty.

The opposite of this is the jerk who dips 40 Metrocards into the fare box that don’t work. These folks stand there dead-eyed, staring at the driver when he tells them they have no money on their Metrocard. "Can you fix it?" they say with their dead eyes to the driver. No matter where on this planet you come from the words "No Money" are universal in any language. GET OFF THE BUS.

So here we are after getting rid of all the FAT, RUDE, ANNOYING, SICK and STUPID people there is no one left on the bus except the driver and me.

Just the way I like it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Playground

As a 26-year-old woman living in Manhattan, I have zero tolerance for couples who exhibit very private affections in very public places. Although I try to look elsewhere, these amorous displays are hard to avoid. Everywhere I go, people are fondling each other as if the entire city were a cheap motel room.
Nicole Ferraro on "Public Smooching".

You've gotta love 'em. New Yorkers, that is. Or so I was thinking when I was travelling cross town on a bus last week, watching my fellow passengers who were in various states of disarray.

There was the girl with her boots only half laced up. A dazed look on her face. Not yet fully awake. There was the young man, dressed in a suit, his hair uncombed, still damp from the shower. Opposite me sat a woman with eating an everthing bagel, plugged in to her iPod and answering an email on her Blackberry.

Apartments are so small here, that New Yorkers view the world outside as an extension of their homes. Looking at the people on the bus, in various states of undress was like watching family members wandering into the lounge-room or kitchen early in the morning getting ready to start the day.

A few blocks on. The boots were laced up and tied, the young man's hair was dried and combed, and the iPod woman had finished her breakfast.

Me, I wasn't going to work. I was on my way to the orthodontist. We have a symbiotic relationship. He wants a world trip and I want my teeth not to fall out. It works out well.

A few hours later and considerably poorer, I make my way to work. Walking to the bus stop, there's a family in front of me. A mother, a grandmother and a two year old in a stroller. Three New Yorkers. I knew they were New Yorkers because of the way they were talking. New Yorkers LOVE to talk but there's a protocol. We take turns. It's the talking that matters, not the listening. Who cares who's listening anyway? "Blah blah blah," says one New Yorker, while the other waits patiently for her turn. "Blah blah blah" and so on goes. On. And on and on.

The baby New Yorker in the stroller was trying to talk at the same time as his grandmother. She was screaming, "It's MY turn. It's MY turn Daniel! MY turn, NOT yours." But little Daniel was not fully socialized into the ways of New York. He was only half way there. He KNEW that talking was important but he didn't understand about turns. He insisted of going over his allotted talk time. It was a duel of the talkers.

New Yorkers don't modify their conversations when they are out in public. Manhattan is their playground. There are no boundaries.

A hundred years ago when I was a smoker I remember sitting down on some steps to light up. Two people were sitting near me. They were wearing roller skates. The girl had on an evening dress full of sequins and glitter was in her hair. The guy was in a tux. They were discussing their relationship as if they were alone in some private place.

I listened to stuff about their sex life, her inner child and his need for acknowledgement. They each had their talking turns. Then the points made, they skated off into the sunset.

Writing in the New York Times' "Complaint Box" Nicole Ferraro commented recently - "At a restaurant on the Lower East Side recently, I was enjoying a friend’s company when the man and woman next to us joined hands across the table. ... they leaned in for a lengthy, passionate kiss that lifted them off their chairs. We skipped dessert and decided to cap off the meal at a nearby coffee shop — only to watch another couple sit side by side in a lip lock while we sipped lattes."

She asks, " Are New Yorkers so busy that they have to do their lovemaking on the go?" It's not that, Nicole - it is that there are no boundaries separating public and private space.

Woodstock-like, life for New Yorkers is a communal thing. There's music everywhere, albeit escaping from iPods.

Manhattan - it's all one big playground.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Blood out of a Stone (Getting a Loan)

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.
Woody Allen
A bank is a place that will lend you money if you prove that you don’t need it.
Bob Hope
Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where shop.
Bo Derek

I typed "HSBC complaint" into Google and it found 2,710,000 pages.

I figure that by the time I've read ALL of them, Mr. HSBC-guy-who-is-looking-after-my-pre-loan-approval might have answered the voice mail that I left about 30 hours ago. I've given up on him answering my email that I sent about 54 hours ago.

Gee, business must be good at the banks. They must be ever so busy.

I contacted Mr. HSBC-guy-who-is-looking-after-my-pre-loan-approval on the advice of my realtor who is a charming young women. She too has been calling Mr. HSBC-guy-who-is-looking-after-my-pre-loan-approval, trying to hurry him up. Imagine how slow he'd be if she wasn't reminding him every day!

I'm sick of typing in "Mr. HSBC-guy-who-is-looking-after-my-pre-loan-approval". I'll just make up a name for him. Evan will do.

But perhaps the realtor is unwittingly making Evan even slower than his normal slow self. It is quite possible that Evan is one of those men who dig their heels in and take a hundred years whenever a WOMAN asks them to do something. I used to think this was a characteristic confined to Australian males, but now I'm bi-cultural I see the same thing in American men. And German men. And English men.

Such men appear to feel that they'll be seen as "under the thumb" if they do what a woman asks. And then if she asks again, they call it nagging.

My theory is that such men see all women as being embodiments of their wives or mothers. "Pick up your toys, Charlie." "No." "Don't forget to take out the garbage, Charles." "I'll do it later."

Childlike and oedipal, such men go through life annoying the hell out of woman. Fear of being "pussy whipped" propels them along life's path, littering the sidewalk with forgotten promises, rubber duckies, security blankies and train-sets.

Why did I go to HSBC? Well apart from the fact that it was recommended, I'd gotten nowhere with Wells Fargo (see The Doggone Loan is Mine).

I COULD have gone to my local bank (Chase), except that I've argued with the people there too many times, and also that the bank manager has Rastafarian hair. He wears a suit and everything but somehow his Rastafarian hairstyle makes me think he's just PRETENDING to be a bank manager and that a real one will suddenly miraculously appear. A REAL bank manager would look like Don Draper of "Mad Men".

There's another problem with my local bank. When I first opened an account there, the bank customer service man made a mistake in transcribing my Social Security number into the computer. So later, when I had to validate myself by telling them my Social Security number, it didn't match what was in the bank's computer. Ergo - I was a fake, a fraud and I wasn't me.

It took me weeks trying to convince them that I was me. Eventually they called the Social Security office and were told that the Social Security number they had for me in their computer system was INVALID! There WAS no such number.

This further convinced them that I wasn't real. It even nearly convinced ME!

So that's the reason I ended up with Evan.

I think he's called Evan because he does everything eventually.

Will he call me?


I can hardly wait. The shock of it may be too much to bear.

Stay tuned.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The reply came from Anchorage, Alaska

"I want you to understand something. We are not subject to city, state or federal regulations. We are omnipotent."

"We don't care and we don't have to! Because we are the phone company!"
From "One RingyDingy" - Lily Tomlin

"But her reply came from Anchorage, Alaska"
From "Anchorage", Michelle Shocked

I don't understand phone companies.

Although phone companies in the U.S. are a trillion times better than those in Australia (calling Telstra in Australia has been known to cause nervous breakdowns, and for perfectly normal people to suddenly run out and buy polyester), there's no point in damning them with faint praise.

A couple of weeks ago, whenever I called overseas, I'd get an overseas number answering OK. But not the correct overseas number. Not even the correct country, although I must admit, the planet was correct.

I'd dial the number of a friend in Australia and get a politically correct Canadian voice of a sex somewhere between male and female, informing me in two languages (note not Inuit or Métis) that the number I was dialing did not exist. Il n'existe pas! I'd try another friend - I'm not fussy. I'm a New Yorker. I'll talk to anyone.

But it wasn't to be. I'd get hooked up with Cuba, Bosnia, anywhere where I didn't have friends.

value=""> So ... I decided that I needed to call the CUSTOMER SERVICE of my phone provider. I tried to prepare myself. I poured a wine and drank it, and poured another. Was I up to it? Probably not but I gave it a go.

The on-hold time was a bit long, even for a seasoned New Yorker like me. As well, how did I know that the number I had dialed was the number I had dialed? Plus I really wasn't up to listening to an answer in Swahili, let alone to being connected to the U. K.

An email. I'd try email. Which I did.

The answer came back ... in English.

Dear Kathleen Juliff,

Thank you for contacting Vonage Customer Care.

It can be upsetting when you are calls to Australia are routing incorrectly

kathleen [sic] , please know that we regret your dissatisfaction with the brief service issue. As this is happening on International calls, it seems that the issue is with the International partner carriers who are routing the calls outside Vonage network. As informed earlier, our Call processing team is still investigating this issue (ticket # 24367252). So please wait for
another couple of days while we resolve it for you. You will be notified by
phone/email once this ticket is resolved.

Thanks for your patience and co-operation in this regard.

Thanks for contacting us.

A couple of days to resolve phone connectivity? I didn't think so. So I wrote back:

I cannot understand this cavalier response. Yes it can be "upsetting when
calls are incorrectly routed.

I note that you still charge me when your system doesn't work.

It should be irrelevant to the consumer as to how you implement your system.
Blaming your 'partner carriers' is of no help to me.

And I do not call several days 'brief',


And received:
Dear K Juliff,

It can be upsetting when you are unable to make international calls on your Vonage phone.

Kathleen, I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. We have already escalated this issue to the concerned department through Ticket # 24371584. This issue is specifically under the review of higher hierarchy. It would be dealt diligently to resolve this issue. Once we have resolved this issue, you will be notified by email, please give us 24-48 business hours. Thank you for sparing your valuable time regarding this matter.

Thanks for contacting us.

What's with the "higher hierarchy"? Bizarre! When I was younger I would have persevered. If email had been around back then, I would have certainly responded. But they would not have answered the smoke signals either.

What's the point? What was the point?

And after all, it isn't really so bad. At least I had connectivity. What's so bad about getting Cuba or a province of Bavaria when you dial Australia? At least someone answers.

I should count myself lucky.

Stay tuned ...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

People of Color

Saw Avatar last night. Terrible. It was all blurry. Bored, I looked around to see if I knew anyone but everybody was wearing dark glasses.

Blue Men
The first colored person I saw was when I went to Blue Man Group in New York several years ago. The Blue Men are still around. They used to just be in New York, but now they can be found in Las Vegas, Chicago, Olando, Boston, Tokyo, Zurich and Berlin as well. They are MULTIPLYING!

The Blue Men dress in black clothing and have thick blue grease painted over latex bald caps. As well as being known for being blue, they are recognized musicians and play a mixture of idiosyncratic, often percussive, instruments.

My next encounter with people of color was when I went to Avatar earlier this year. Well they weren't really people of color. They were humanoids of color - Na'vi - a ten-foot-tall blue-skinned species of sapient humanoids. But they weren't real. Not like the original Blue Men.

There was about a fifteen year gap between me seeing the original Blue Men and seeing Avatar with the pretend blue humanoids.

But now people of color are appearing with increasing frequency and I'm more than a little concerned!

I haven't got time to list all the close encounters; a few will have to suffice.

Look at this little guy on the left. I almost didn't notice him, he was so nondescript for New York. I spotted him in Central Park and expect he was tourist. An out-of-towner as they say here. But from where? From the mid-west (most likely) though he could be from another galaxy.

The only other explanation I can offer is that he was Sarah Palin dressed up in drag. I'm currently leaning toward this explanation. If anyone has any other thoughts on the matter, please post a comment.

I doubt that the next colored person I saw was Ms. Palin though. True, he was green, but I strongly suspect he was really a he in this case. You can't really see his skin properly here, so you'll have to take my word for it. He was dressed up as the Statue of Liberty and was directing traffic. I might have believed that he really WAS the Statue of Liberty, but closer scrutiny reveled he was wearing glasses that looked suspiciously like the glasses the members of the audience have to wear when watching Avatar.

I am not sure what to make of this. But whatever the reason, it is a worry. Green man wants to be blue sentient humanoid?

Of course there's always the possibility that he is color-blind. Let's hope that's all there is to it!

Then there was the yellow fairy. I took a photo of her because I knew I would NOT be believed otherwise. The fairy was yellow from head to foot. Even her clothes were yellow. She was standing all alone in the middle of the path, near 72nd Street. I suspect she'd wandered over from Strawberry Fields. She was definitely a Lucy-in-the-Sky-with-Diamonds sort of creature. Very fey. But why was she wearing ballet shoes?

Later I came across a creature that must have been related to the yellow fairy. Similar looking.

But THIS one was dead white. Lucy-in-the-Sky crossed with A-Whiter-Shade-of-Pale. Note how no one is taking any notice of her. I suspect this is because the colored people are becoming increasingly common here in New York. Scary stuff.

Today it is Easter Sunday, and I was hoping things would get back to normal. But it was not to be. Wandering down to the East Village to buy a pie, I came across a gray-green creature - very similar to the traffic-directing Lady Liberty with the Avatar glasses.

This one was even scarier. She was wearing sunglasses and pretending to be the Pope. I suppose she thought it was topical, it being Easter. But instead of blessing people and defending pedophiles, she was blessing the New York skyscrapers. A blasphemous Lady Liberty Pope wannabe!

It's getting so that us New Yorkers are fearful of going to sleep at nights. Who knows what tomorrow has in store for us?

We are a city known for its lack of color. We all wear black in winter, white in summer, and shades of gray in spring and fall.

What's with the infiltration of color? Is some one trying to tell us something? And if so, who?

Fellow New Yorkers, we need to be defensive and vigilant. Next thing we know we'll be required to wear polyester!

I close with an important message to all New Yorkers this Easter Sunday.

"Hide the paints!"

Stay tuned.

iOwn an iPad - and now iReview (iT!)

Online retailers have failed to understand the complexity of the publishing business and meet the expectations of more sophisticated international readers. If I want to see a blurb for a book, if I want to see what I am buying, you are probably going to get a blurb of about two sentences ...
Louise Adler, the CEO of Melbourne University Publishing, March 2010

Had Ms Adler been around pre German Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press (1440) I suspect she'd have been bemoaning the demise of illuminated manuscripts, and scrolls!
Me, April 2010 2010

The Apple Store on Fifth Avenue
Yesterday I caved and went downtown to the Apple store on Fifth and bought an iPad.

Today I'm reviewing it - from the point of view of a non Apple user.

I'm glad I bought the iPad. It doesn't bring much new in the way of features, but it does bring in an ease of use and attractive design.

What it will NOT replace: It will not replace my Kindle. Although the iPad has an iBooks application, the backlit screen and the books' layout does not seem to provide the same ease of spending hours reading novels on the Kindle. Sure, it has color which the Kindle reader does not have, but as I am primarily a reader of novels, this doesn't do much for me. Kindle's Ink® electronic paper display is easy on the eyes and allows for easy reading in sunlight.

When you turn a page in the iPad iBook, the display shows an image of the page turning. It is therefore slower than the Kindle page turn which is done on the press of a button (one on each side to cater for both right and left handed people). The iBook looks pretty, but pretending to look like a paper book does little to take full advantage of the electronic media.

Then there's the size. The Kindle fits easily into my handbag. The iPad is a bit too bulky.

What is really nice about the iPad: The overall design of course. This is something that Apple excels in, so it comes as no surprise. But there ARE some surprises. The screen keyboard for example. It is really easy to use. I cannot imagine needing the physical keyboard accessory. There are some clever features - the ".com" key. And the way the enter key's value (the actual name on the key) changes contextually - to "search: when you've typed into a search box, to "done" when you are ready to submit a form, to "return" when you want to start a new paragraph in email, and so on ... So obvious one wonders that no one thought of them before. But isn't that what good design is all about?

The photo displays - I'm going to use my iPad extensively for storing photos. It is easy to scroll through hundreds of photos, organize them, enlarge them, copy them, email them, associate them with a contact.

Email, calendar and contacts. This took a bit of setting up for me, because I use Google mail with its web interface. To get Google mail, calendar and contacts to synch with my iPad I had to first set up Outlook on my PC and download google app synch. Now it's a breeze. Google apps synch all my calendars (work, personal), contacts (work and personal) and email with Outlook, and Outlook synchs with my iPad.

It only took me about 40 minutes to set up the basics on my iPad, and even while I was configuring preferences and internet connectivity, I had started using it for basic functions. The interface is intuitive and I expect it is even easier to get used to for MAC users.

Negatives: Why get one? It doesn't really do anything that your PC or MacBook can't do. It just does it in a more friendly and intuitive way.

The iPad is not a replacement for your PC or MacBook as you need the PC to set up and synch iTunes. iTunes is not just about music. Photos for example need to be on your laptop or desktop in the first place in order to copy them to your iPad.

First Day of the iPad - Fifth AvenuePrinting: You need a wireless printer. I have one, but it's an HP6800 and I ahve it hard-cabled to our home network - it is a horror to set up as wireless-enabled. When I next buy a printer I will stay away from HP.

Cost: Although advertsised as starting at $499, this price is not realistic. I bought the mid-range 32 gig version and I had to purchase a cover. As it has no 'lid' on the iPad, it is impractical to carry it around unprotected. I bought the Apple case as it was the only one in the store that opens like a book. With all the other cases and skins the iPad had to be placed in the case and then zipped up, thus requiring the iPad to have to be fully removed from the case for use.

All up including tax the cost was $622.15.

How will I use it? I'm starting to think it's for lazy people - so I am an ideal owner. If I want to check my email at home I needn't get up from the couch (or bed). I needn't bother powering up my PC which takes a hundred years to load everything and establish its internet connection. I'll take the iPad with me on vacation, instead of my laptop. But apart from taking it on vacation, I doubt that it'll leave the house.

Am I glad I bought it? Certainly.

And now I am really encouraged to develop my iPhone/iPad app. Watch out for it.

The Jo Factor

"Inspired by an elf"

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 02, 2010

On Rabbits, Rats and Tooth Fairies

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Thousands of unionized New York City doormen and apartment building workers have voted to authorize a strike this month, potentially leaving some tenants without someone to carry their groceries or take out the trash.

You've seen it around: a giant creature with menacing buckteeth, long claws, and red, beady eyes. It's a regular at union protests and strikes, wherever there's labor tension. If the Rat could speak, it would get right to the point: "So I moved your #@!% cheese. You wanna do something about it?"
The Inflatable Union Rat

"Let's see how they do without us!" There's no doorman, people open the door, they walk in, it's... you know. Who's gonna walk out next? The guys who clean your windshield at the traffic light, with the dirty rag?"
Jerry Seinfeld in "The Doorman" episode

It looks like New York might be having a doorman strike. The last time there was a strong likelihood of a doorman strike was back in the heady days of the mid-nineties. The good old days when the national budget was balanced and the biggest controversy was whether the president had sexual relations with "that woman". Or not.

We didn't know how lucky we were.

Not that I think that the strike will go ahead. Usually the two sides negotiate right up to the brink, which is midnight of the day before the strike's planned start.

Happier Days
If the strike does go ahead I wonder if an inflatable union rat will appear outside our building? Inflatable rats are parked by unions outside places, usually construction sites, where the relevant unions believe that workers are being exploited.

If the strike DOES happen, I can't imagine how life will be. Where will the garbage go? How will the volunteers know who to let in, or out? Can we trust volunteers to sort the mail properly? How will we get through the revolving doors? I imagine it'll be chaos. People won't know what hit them. Maybe neighbors will start talking to each other. That'll be weird.

Meanwhile, it has been a quiet Passover-Easter week. Not that you'd notice - Easter that is. There's no holiday for Good Friday here, let alone the five day weekend as in Australia. Perhaps it really is true and Easter was cancelled because they found the body.

The Rat Marks the Spot
Seriously though, not having Easter holidays is a bonus for me. I have never celebrated Easter. When my kids were little I used to give them Easter eggs, but they didn't really know what Easter meant, as like me they had no religious training. In fact my eldest used to (used to ... she still DOES) get Easter and Christmas mixed up. She'd ask me, "When did they cross him up? Was that Easter or Christmas?" and I'd have to THINK! The tooth fairy was more real to her; I suspect that was because the tooth fairy brought money and not bunny rabbits.

I am going to spend my un-Easter weekend writing an iPhone app. It will be called the "Jo Factor" and it was inspired by an elf. I kid you not.

It will REVOLUTIONIZE air transport.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Oh dear, I have to apologise!

Oh dear!
Jedro74 April2 20010 - on Twitter
I guess his body rejected the teeth he had implanted last year ...
querty5244786 on YouTube

Sorry Robin Williams, I must apologize to you about what I wrote in Oversexed, overpaid and over here. For two reasons.

The first is that there are worse entertainers than you on this globe! I now realize this. And how did this epiphany come about? Well, I was checking out Twitter and I saw the comment, "Oh dear!" in relation to the clip on the left. Oh dear, I realized that even without teeth, you Mr Williams, would always be so much better - than that!

The clip is of course Shane Macgowan of the Pogues. Hey, even though a few days ago I didn't even know what an emo was (see Was Eeyore an emo?), I happen to have heard of the Pogues. Are the Pogues emos? I don't THINK so. Watch this Shane guy. Unbelievable. As one YouTube watcher (querty5244786) aptly commented, "I guess his body rejected the teeth he had implanted last year ..." Right on querty5244786! Come to think of it, anyone called querty5244786 just has to be right on.

I googled Shane and discovered that before he was in the Pogues he was in a band who went by the name of "The Nipple Erectors". The case rests ...

Suddenly Mr Robin Wilson seems erudite, a veritable gentleman, a man who could stand for high office even. Be a candidate for the Nobel prize. And I'm not damning with faint praise. Well, perhaps a little.

When I see someone like Shane Macgowan I am glad I am an American-Australian. At least we have our teeth.

The second reason that I have to apologize to Mr Williams for is that I heard today that the Prime Minister of Australia decided to publicly complain about Williams' sorry interview with Letterman - the very interview I wrote about in Oversexed, overpaid and over here. Protocol Mr Rudd (that's the name of the Australian PM), protocol!

Everyone one six years old up knows that you complain to those on your own professional level. As a member of Australians Abroad commented, "I've said it before and I'll say it again. My countrymen back at home have a huge chip on their shoulder when it comes to what other people say about us. We can dish it out but we can't take it.

Imagine if Obama made a public utterance every time a comedian somewhere in the world took the piss out of Americans. He'd never get anything done."

Why on earth would Rudd buy into a late night television interview in America? Quelle nerve! Imagine the outcry in Australia if Obama of George W publicly criticized an Australian comedian.

But back to the toothless Shane Macgowan. I read on his website that he actually has no teeth. When I saw him on YouTube I thought he'd just lost them. Dropped them in the toilet. But apparently he actually goes around toothless. Part of his image. Like his Three Stooges wig I suppose.

And there I was thinking emos were weird.

Oh dear!

Stay tuned.