Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Working week’s come to its end

Filed under : Student Life
On August 27, 2010
At 5:30 pm
Comments : 2

I had a lot of thoughts about my first week at work in a long time but they all sort of dissipated because I was too tired at the end of each day to write anything down. The one thing that I can say is that only one person asked me, “how is your new job?” I wonder what that means. That no one cares? That starting a new job is no longer a big deal in our age of constant moving around? That part-time jobs are not thought of as “real” jobs? That I wasn’t clear to the people in my life that I was starting this week, since I actually got the job in mid-July? I don’t know, but I think that also put a small damper on my thoughts of writing about said new job. And now it’s mostly gone.

I did have a day off on Thursday during which I spent some time at the qualifying round of the US Open. I love the quallies because it’s the US Open without all the irritating parts: the lines, the crowds, the having to wait for the break to enter a match. On the other hand, the stores are mostly closed and there’s a guy wading in the fountain. I kind of want to do this myself on really hot days, but without the boots.

Monday, the real US Open starts but so does my semester so it’s going to be hard to focus on either thing. But no matter what, there will be no wading in the fountain for me.

Have a good weekend, all!

Title comes from:
Depeche Mode – If You Want


I’ve been here before

Filed under : Music,Student Life,Tennis
On August 22, 2010
At 10:00 pm
Comments :Comments Off on I’ve been here before

Or, how I spent my five day summer vacation, written during the pouring rain.

It’s been a long time since I felt what the last day of summer felt like. When I was a kid, I loathed school, so much so that I ran away from Kindergarten and regularly played hooky from middle school to either hide in the woods or in the bathroom of my private school’s lower school building. In high school, I would go to the public library or to work at the record store (they never asked questions). Summer was the sweetest, most wonderful time of year. Not only did I have no school but I had my summer camp, where I had some of the best experiences of my life.

Nowadays, I love school. And, as I’ve said, I consider it a vacation from the real world, i.e. Monday through Friday, 9-5 work. The ability to stay up till the wee hours, get up late, handle the day exactly as I wish, and have no one to report to but myself has been like a dream. And well, at some point you have to wake up. I decided to stay in school another year partially because I couldn’t bear for that to end but in doing so, I knew that I’d need additional funding which meant work which means that in order to have that lifestyle, I have to not have that lifestyle. I know, it seems pointless. But there were other reasons I did it too, like getting more education and being better prepared for my new career. So here’s what this year will involve:

a. Part-time job, 3 days a week.
b. Fieldwork 1 day a week.
c. Special project 1 day a week.
d. Classes 2 evenings a week.
e. Thesis in any spare moment.

Yes, it’s going to be a challenge and the hardest part will certainly be the first one, which begins in a mere twelve hours (yikes). I am not good with bosses. I am terrible at doing things that other people tell me to do. Naturally, I did not bring this up in the interview. But I’m going to try my best because for a part-time job, it’s well-compensated. I know. I’m the first person ever to put up with a boss telling me what to do so I can pay my bills, right? But beyond that, I think I’m just going to miss my leisurely student life of getting up, puttering around making a hot breakfast, spending time playing on the Internet, reading for school in the quiet mid-afternoon, and then going off to class. Now I’ll have to fit those readings in when I can and go back to jumping out of bed via cranky alarm, scarfing something down, and running for the train, still half-asleep. I can hear you all playing tiny violins for me right now. I have a Facebook friend who works at a university and is off every summer. All summer long she posts about fun things she and her family are doing at their vacation home in the mountains. Then, in late August, she posts status messages whining about the end of her three-month vacation and I always roll my eyes. So I feel you if you’re rolling your eyes. But it’s been a lovely year, it really has.

Speaking of people complaining about lifestyles others envy, I’ve now had about five days without either school or work (kind of the vacation from my vacation) and finally had time to read the Agassi book (I’m not quite done… and I only have 12 hours left!). I remember when it came out last year there was lots of talk about the revelations: that he wore a hairpiece, that he never really loved Brooke Shields, that he used crystal meth and lied to the ATP about it. But for me, the biggest disillusionment was that he hated tennis. That was really hard for me to deal with. He says that he could never understand people who loved the beauty of the game. I suppose I am one of those people and watching the US Open series on TV these past few weeks has been wonderful. But now I kind of watch people play in a different way. Do they love the game as much as I do or did they feel it was the only thing they knew how to do?

It may be hard to believe, but I only became a tennis fan in the mid-90’s when my then-company gave me tickets to the US Open and I fell in love with both tennis and the story that a tournament is. The first match I ever saw Agassi play live is described in the book; it was during his comeback and the other player, Karol Kucera, was acting like a moron. I remember laughing when Agassi sarcastically reacted and in the book, Agassi mentions that the crowd laughed. This is just to tell you, hey, I’m in the Agassi book! But don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing read and hard to put down. I suppose they’d frown on me reading at my desk at work, huh?

Also during my five days off from everything, I saw Tears For Fears. It was great to see a band I have loved for a long time and never experienced live, but the show failed my two criteria for excellent concerthood: decent view and good song selection. Being that it was at the Hammerstein Ballroom and I am not the tallest of women, I could occasionally glimpse bits of either member’s head but not often. Also, not enough from their two good albums and, naturally, no hint of my favorite song by them, since it wasn’t a hit. This is the sorry state of concerts today: other people hold up their cameras so that you can see even less and then you have to go to YouTube to watch shaky videos of the concert for which you paid.

Lastly, I got fingerprinted by the Department of Education, so that I could do my fieldwork, even though I don’t yet know if it will be in a public school. But my school makes you anyway, just in case. Everything you ever experienced with government bureaucracy (think of your last trip to the DMV) existed here: long lines, people who went on break just as they were about to take you, requirements sprung on you (duh, don’t you know that you get your school ID when you get fingerprinted and thus need your picture taken?) which lead to yet more lines with no one being taken, and lots of words spoken to you in a tone of voice which makes sure you understand that it is the thousandth time they have been spoken by that person this week. WelcometotheDOEpleasefollowthosearrowstooffice17takeanumberandsitdown.

Then I left and went to Ikea where I bought $40 worth of things I didn’t know I needed in the marketplace. Because once you’re at Borough Hall in Brooklyn, what else are you supposed to do? It was one of the last days I could just go to an office in the middle of the day and then go shopping. I will miss you, sweet unemployment.

Onward and upward.

Title comes from my second favorite Tears For Fears song, which they did, thankfully, play.
Tears For Fears – Pale Shelter


Up to date… for at least the next week

Filed under : Gadgets
On August 12, 2010
At 9:30 pm
Comments : 9

You know what the greatest thing about getting a new computer is? Well, new to me, because it’s a previous genration refurb? Amongst the good, but not best, things are:

1. Enough memory to not see a spinning beach ball every time I want to do three things at once.
2. No sound of processor wheezing when I watch a video on YouTube.
3. An N key that says N (N is the key that advances my RSS reader… I appear to read a lot of feeds, as I have rubbed that sucker completely off).
4. No more burnt leg (the older Macbook batteries were removable and closer to my leg).
5. Pleasant crunch of new keyboard design (plus backlighting for typing in the dark).
6. CD/DVD drive which actually accepts said discs.
7. Right click with one touch (the old trackpad didn’t have that).
8. More stuff fits on the same size screen.
9. Actual portability since the battery lasts 6x times as long as the old one (which I stopped unplugging at all, really).
10. Works with my iPhone headphones with mic so I don’t have to look like I’m taking your order when I’m on a video conference or class.

No, the best thing is that I get to use all the new software that my old computer (the very first Macbook Pro from 2006) couldn’t handle! I just got so used to saying, “oh. I don’t have that operating system” or “oh. I don’t have that amount of RAM.” But now I do! In fact, I spent a while trying to remember all the things I had previously been refused, like Google Chrome and Kindle For Mac and Blackberry Desktop Software. Yes, I could have updated my old Macbook with all the latest software but first I waited for the bugs to be worked out and then it didn’t feel worth it because I kept thinking I’d upgrade the hardware. But there is something so exciting about saying, “why, yes, I’ll take the version for the very newest operating system, the version with all the neat things.”

My old Macbook was called Big Mac because it was larger than my previous Thinkpad and, well, it was a Mac and that was novel for me at the time. My Dad worked at IBM his entire career and so I had only ever had Thinkpads and PS/2’s. Not even Dell or Gateway. I had one of the first laptops IBM produced when I went to college. Now, I am not one for naming electronics but I always named my computers because you could. There was an area to put the name and so I did. Nowadays, you especially need to if you have a network, unless you can remember offhand that M7978V68423 is your Slingplayer. I always named my laptops after musicians until Big Mac (only North of the City will remember these names, I think). But now it’s time to return to that and thus I name mine after a musician I miss very much, and like Malcolm, it’s quirky, takes old things and makes them up to date, and keeps me connected to good things everywhere.

[youtube width=”480″ height=”385″][/youtube]


Picture of the day, how sweet it is edition

Filed under : Sports,Tennis
On August 9, 2010
At 5:00 pm
Comments : 7

(Getty Images)

What else is there for me to say? Oh right, this. In my life, I have only seen David Nalbandian play in a final on TV three times (Wimbledon 2002, Shanghai Finals 2005, and yesterday’s Legg-Mason Classic in DC). This is both a function of the lack of tennis on American television and the dearth of championships in which Nalby has appeared. And it’s only the second time I have ever seen him win one. I’d try to explain how amazing it was to watch but instead, I’ll let the picture have its thousand words.

CNN: David Nalbandian wins Legg-Mason Classic title in Washington


Dear suburban headquartered big box retailer,

Filed under : New York City,Stores
On August 4, 2010
At 9:30 pm
Comments : 4

On the heels of my recent car-free post, I’ve been reading lately about how the multi-story, suburban style parking structure at the East River Plaza in Harlem is shockingly empty. Now, the shock is on the part of the builder and owner of said parking lot, not of average New Yorkers, I’m sure. East River Plaza is a new-ish shopping center in East Harlem and I’ve been going to the Costco there for about a year, since I started needing large quantities of baking supplies. For a while, Costco was the only tenant but since this was designated as the landing spot of Manhattan’s first Target, I figured I’d be going there long into the future.

Well, to make a long story short, it’s a pain and a half to get there for those of us on the Upper West Side, because anything that involves a crosstown bus in Harlem will inevitably take years off your life. Years spent on that bus. Or waiting for that bus. Or waiting to get on that bus. But it is the only game in town as far as bulk groceries, so I do what I have to do. Today, I headed over there primarily to try the new Target but also picked up a few things at the Costco. In the future, when I need something from Target, I’ll be going back to the one in the Bronx which is a direct shot by subway. Target has a temporary shuttle (it goes till 8/22, a month after they opened) to hype the place but it only took me 1/3 of the way across 116th street, whereupon I waited 20 minutes for a bus, which is crazy in New York, sorry.

But while I was there, I checked out the parking lot which was indeed mostly empty while both Target and Costco were quite busy (there are other stores, Best Buy, Marshall’s, Petco…. I don’t know if they’re all open yet as they were on higher floors and I don’t care about any of them). If you’re wondering, Big Box Stores who insisted on the parking garage, how people are shopping, let me describe the following sights which I witnessed today to you:

  • The family filling a little red wagon covered in a blanket.
  • The lady walking down 117th Street with a ham under her arm.
  • The shuttle, chock full of downtown types.
  • The woman looking over the average supermarket size carts at Target in wonder, who said to me, “look how huge these are! They really want you to shop, don’t they?” (hint, if your customer is a person who has never seen a regular grocery cart before, she does not have a car.)
  • The large family with each member carrying one bag.
  • The innumerable little hand carts.

This all leads me to my letter:

Dear Target,

I have a great idea for all those empty parking spots in your big ugly structure! Why not fill them with shuttles which will ferry us sans-automobiles across 116th St. to all our respective subway lines? It can be every 15 or 20 minutes; I realize 116th is crowded as it is. Then, at night, they can have that whole parking garage to themselves.

You may also want to think about selling little red wagons.


As for you, lady with ham, I’ll see you on the shuttle.