Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Jet lag is no fun

I keep dozing off in the early evening in front of the TV. Just like my father! Strangely, I was about to fall asleep during the Bush daughters' speech tonight, but woke up to talk back to the TV like I usually do. (Yes, I'm a complete whack job.)

One final thought on my Asia trip:

Based on my co-workers' stories and my impressions from guidebooks and other sources, I expected to be lost in Tokyo and right at home in Hong Kong. I thought for sure that I'd like having the possibility of an extra day for tourism in Hong Kong and that any time available for such things in Tokyo would be welcome, but useless, given the language barrier.

I was completely wrong. I fully enjoyed Tokyo and wish that I'd had another day there to explore. I had no trouble finding my way, the lack of communication only made things more interesting, and I loved the food. I got sick on the food in Hong Kong, visited the only major tourist attraction on my first day there, and discovered that there was nothing else to do aside from work but shop and sweat. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been miserable for three or four days, but I think I would just have been bored. I like to visit foreign cities that offer historic sights, not just modern consumerism. In Tokyo, I got a sense that the city's past was readily accessible, that it's been there for hundreds of years. Hong Kong, while it's definitely an old city, doesn't look or feel like it's been there for more than 50 years.

My Hong Kong hotel did have better English TV channels than the hotel in Tokyo, and thank God for that, or I'd really have been in trouble. Tokyo offered Japanese baseball, Olympic baseball (featuring Japan), and more Japanese baseball.
At least when I couldn't go out in the evenings, I got to see American TV shows (Law & Order, CSI, Smallville) and other Olympic sports.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

I'm back

That was one LONG flight. Fifteen hours in the air. It was so long that I watched 13 Going on 30, the last half hour or more of Mary Poppins, The Two Towers extended edition (over 3 1/2 hours), and both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. (I did fast-forward through some of Jake Lloyd's scenes in TPM, so it was slightly shorter than the advertised running time.) When I had watched all of those movies, I still had over three hours left on the clock, enough time that I could have squeezed in a 90-minute movie and still had time to put the laptop away before the crew served brunch. Instead, I napped for about an hour and tried to keep my legs from getting stiff. The good thing about arriving at Newark at 3 PM on a Saturday afternoon is that there were no other flights coming in at that time, so the immigration hall was empty. Since I carried both of my bags on board, I rolled off the plane, through immigration and customs, and found my driver within about five minutes. That's never happened before and probably will never happen again. I hope that after a night of rest the feeling that I'm still on the plane will go away. And maybe it won't feel like I left Asia sometime last year, instead of earlier today.

Friday night shopping

After work on Friday, I had one last chance to look for a digital music player and any other souvenirs. First I went back to Kowloon to Mong Kok, a shopping neighborhood that one of my local co-workers had recommended for electronics. I checked three or four different stores and found the player I wanted at the same price in each store, and it was much more than I was willing to spend. So I didn't buy any new toys to bring home.

Then I went south to the night market at Yau Ma Tei. My guidebook described it as a lively bazaar of CDs, knock-offs, bric-a-brac, and junk. It was actually a slightly more cramped version of a New York City street fair, minus the sausage and crepe stands. There were four basic booths: knock-off designer goods, clothing and t-shirts, pseudo-authentic Chinese goods (clothes, purses, makeup cases, etc.) and random cheap plastic crap. I have no doubt that any item I could have bought here could also be found on Canal St. (Maybe not the books of quotations from Chairman Mao.) I didn't see anything that struck me as authentically Chinese and worth bringing home as a souvenir. But it was fun to see the other tourists, none of whom could possibly have been New Yorkers, looking over the goods for bargains. As I walked back to the subway, I passed several outdoor restaurants (little more than tables outside a large kitchen) with menus all in Chinese and one table set up with example dishes. One restaurant had a display table covered with seafood dishes, all of which were still moving. I'm not sure if the meals were served raw or if they were just keeping the day's catch fresh. Either way, if I saw my entree blink at me, I think I'd lose my appetite. I went back to my hotel, ordered a club sandwich, and packed my bags.

Friday, August 27, 2004

where are all these places?

Here's a map of Hong Kong that shows the general layout of the various islands. My hotel and office are on Hong Kong Island.

These maps show the city in greater detail, but they're PDFs, so they might take a while to load.

Dinner with a view in Kowloon

On Thursday night, we took a cab over to Kowloon to Hutong, a Chinese restaurant on the 28th floor of an office tower in Tsim Sha Tsui. The restaurant is two blocks from the harbor and has a spectacular view of the Hong Kong skyline. It's a little cheesy, but most of the skyscrapers in Hong Kong put on a laser and spotlight show in the evenings, visible only to those in Kowloon. I remembered the Pink Floyd laser show I once saw at the old Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh, and the spotlights made me think of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I thought we were signalling alien starcruisers, telling them just where to land.

The food was exceptional, and it just kept on coming. We started with hot Chinese wine, which was sweet with a slight vinegary taste, but not in a bad way. Then we had spring rolls, spare ribs, fried lobster with vegetables, dumplings, pea pods with shredded pork, and fried rice. I managed to get everything into my mouth with the chopsticks, though the lobster posed a challenge, as it was chopped up but had been fried in its shell. After dinner we went upstairs to Aqua Spirit, a bar with the same view but a different ambience. We had drinks and swapped stories about our firm's many offices and attorneys. It's only on trips like this that I hear all the good gossip.

We took the Star Ferry back to Hong Kong Island. The boat is smaller than the Staten Island Ferry, and shaped more like a traditional boat than a squarish ferryboat. The ride was about 10 minutes and, like the Staten Island Ferry does in New York Harbor, offered its own outstanding look at the sights of Hong Kong. Since we'd had rain all day, it was a cloudy night, but the skyline was still visibly striking despite the mist.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Times Square in Hong Kong

On Wednesday evening I ventured out to explore another neighborhood on Hong Kong Island. We had talked about the great shopping available nearby, so I took the MTR (HK's subway system) two stops over to Causeway Bay. The subway system immediately made me think of London's Jubilee Line. The trains and platforms are separated by double doors, similar to airport trams, and the train cars look similar to cars on the Underground. Here, English isn't an afterthought on the signs, it's larger than the Chinese characters in some cases. I had to walk a long way underground to get to my intended exit, at Hong Kong's Times Square. When I finally got to ground level, I was in yet another shopping mall. It took me a few minutes to find my way out of there onto the actual street. The mall itself was called Times Square, though the area didn't remind me at all of New York. This neighborhood was just another crowded shopping district with streets of small stores and occasional larger buildings housing air-conditioned malls. I walked around for about 45 minutes, sweating all the while in the humidity, before I had had enough of the shopping scene. I found the nearest MTR entrance and went back to my hotel.

Today (Thursday) was another uneventful day at work. It rained all day, and tomorrow we might just get hit with a typhoon. We're going over to Kowloon for dinner, and based on the weather and tomorrow's work schedule, it looks like tonight might be the extent of my touring here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Hong Kong update

I haven't written anything in two days because I haven't been feeling well enough to do anything interesting, or even anything at all. I've gone straight back to the hotel from the office and collapsed on the bed for most of the evening. This morning I'm feeling better so hopefully now I'll be able to go out and see more of the city. Our primary IT contact here wants to take us to the Peak on Thursday night for dinner, hopefully not at McDonald's. And my NY colleague wants to go shopping for a camera, so I'll tag along with him and see if I can find a better deal here than in Tokyo.

The weather here has been hot, humid, and rainy. Every day the clouds roll in during the afternoon and our windows are lashed with rain. It usually clears up before we leave at 5:30, but last night I could hear heavy showers after dark. When it's not raining it's just hot. Every morning I start to sweat as soon as I leave the hotel. To compensate for the heat, all the buildings run their air conditioning at subzero levels. Even with a jacket, by the end of the day I'm
shivering in our conference room and anxious to get back to my hotel room where I have some control over the temperature. It's so cold inside that several times a day we take warm-up breaks outside the building, just long enough to get rid of that icy feeling. It reminds me of my first few months at my job, when I had a cold air vent blowing straight down on my desk. After complaining for a while, someone from building maintenance came up and fixed the problem by covering the vent with a piece of cardboard. Too bad I can't block the air vents in this conference room the same way.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Goodbye Tokyo, hello Hong Kong

Aside from a bumpy ride, my flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong was just how I like it: short (compared to the flight to get to Tokyo in the first place). I watched The Ladykillers, which was hysterical, and had whatever Asian cuisine that Cathay Pacific put in front of me. At the airport, my hotel ran a car service, so I didn't have to mess around with a bus or train. I'm used to being met outside Customs by a driver with a sign, and while things in Asia don't work quite like that at least where my firm is concerned, having my own car to get to the hotel was an improvement over Tokyo's hotel bus system.

After I settled into my room, I decided that the weather wasn't too bad to prevent me from checking out the neighborhood. My first stop was the Pacific Place Mall, which is directly below my hotel. I got some Hong Kong dollars from a Citibank ATM and browsed through some of the shops. It's an upscale mall, with European stores like Hermes, Marks & Spencer, and Bang & Olafson, as well as Asian department stores and curio shops. There are also familiar American restaurants like McDonald's, Dan Ryan's, and Starbucks. The layout of the mall and stores remind me of Georgetown Park in Washington, DC, though it doesn't look anything like that mall on the inside -- more like one of the gallerias in Tysons Corner.

I walked from the hotel to the Bank of China tower, where my firm's local office is located, then up the hill to the Victoria Peak Tram. I hadn't planned on riding the tram to the peak just after I arrived, but since the weather was clearing I figured it made sense to see Hong Kong's primary tourist attraction while I knew I had the time. The tram resembles the inclined planes I'm used to from Johnstown and Pittsburgh, but it's really more of a cable car system. Since the route that the tram traverses isn't an even grade the entire way, parts of the ride feel like a roller coaster. At one point the tram ascends a 40 degree incline, so I got the sense that the rest of the world was leaning as we passed apartment buildings and bridges on the way up.

The views from the top of the Peak are beyond breathtaking. Imagine if you could climb to 1300 feet above the skyline of Manhattan, only the skyscrapers of midtown and downtown are all compressed into one small area. That's just an idea of what Hong Kong looks like from above. It was partly cloudy, so the view across the harbor to Kowloon was partially obscured, but I could still pick out landmarks and get some decent pictures. Since it's a tourist destination, the Peak is also home to hawkers of the same kinds of junk you find being peddled on the streets of Manhattan. There's another mall at the Peak as well, selling more tourist trinkets. There's also a grocery store and preschool in the mall, reminding me that people actually live on Victoria Peak near the top, and have much better views from their houses and apartments than their neighbors further down.

I got back to my room around 9 PM and collapsed into bed at 11, early for me. But after two days of walking around and traveling, I had no energy left and my legs felt like jelly. Even after a few hours' sleep, I still don't feel back to normal. I'm actually looking forward to a semi-normal week at work, albeit as normal as things can be when I'm halfway around the world from home and living out of a suitcase.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

First work, then tourism

Friday was all work and no play. Our upgrade project started at 6 PM, and we had to be in the office all day, so I was up at 8 AM and in the office around 10:30. We had a late lunch of sushi at a traditional Japanese restaurant, where we sat on the floor on cushions and tatami mats and ate at a low table. The sushi was excellent and not much different from what I've had in the US, except that here they hid wasabi in between the rice and the fish. Except for my legs falling asleep constantly it was a great meal. Then we stayed up all night migrating the Tokyo NetWare server data from one disk array to another. I could go into the details but who would care but me? I was back at my hotel by 6 AM for a few hours' rest.

I got up around noon and after puttering around the room for a few hours decided to get out and see the city. My friend Rich, who came to Japan in 1998 for the Winter Olympics, recommended that I see the Imperial Palace Gardens. Despite the heat of the day (cooler and less humid than the past two days but sunny and warm) I walked to and around the gardens for about two hours. The gardens are mostly just trees, grass and hills surrounding the Imperial Palace, along with some old forts, a moat, and other signs of Tokyo's past. The cicadas were out in full voice this afternoon, providing a unique soundtrack for my wanderings. I especially liked the remains of an old donjon fort and the samurai guardhouses, where the emperor's elite defenders lived when they weren't fending off attackers.

After leaving the gardens I walked south to Ginza, Tokyo's upscale shopping district. If Shinjuku is Tokyo's Times Square, then Ginza is Madison Avenue. All of the major European fashion designers have stores there, as well as more moderate retailers like Eddie Bauer, the Gap, and HMV. I found myself in the Yamaha showroom, looking at grand pianos and violins, and in several electronics stores browsing through cameras and MP3 players. At Bic Camera, one of the largest electronics shops, I looked for a long time at gadgets that I'd love to own if I had a money tree in my apartment. Electronics stores in Japan have all their wares out as display models, so you can play with your potential purchase and decide if it works for you. Consequently, there are large racks of gear and dozens of people waiting to get their hands on everything. I found a camera I might have bought were it not for the fact that I speak no Japanese and it wasn't entirely clear how I would have gone from looking at a floor model to buying the actual item. While there were salespeople milling around the store, they were outnumbered ten to one by shoppers, and there were no indications in English of the shopping process. Now that I'm back in my hotel room and I've missed my chance to snag a possible bargain, I'm consoling myself with the knowledge that I have a working camera that I like and that I probably didn't need to spend that money in anyway.

When I'd had enough of the Tokyo shopping scene, it was time to come back to the hotel. Initially I'd planned to walk back, but given the heat and my general exhaustion from hours of walking, I opted to get myself home on the subway. (When I took it on Thursday, I had either Tokyo residents or experienced Tokyo visitors with me to keep me from getting lost.) The Tokyo subway has signs in Japanese and English, and though the ticket machines aren't well marked in English, the platforms and trains are easy enough for foreigners like me to manage. Of course, I kept things easy by taking only one train, but I'm confident that if I ever come back to Tokyo, I'll be able to use the subway without any problems.

My Tokyo trip is nearly at an end. I've enjoyed myself more than I thought I would, and I'm a little upset that I don't have more time to spend here. I didn't get to the real electronics shopping neighborhood of Akihabara or see the nightlife in Roppongi. Hopefully I'll have another work excuse to come back here in the next few years. As much as I like Tokyo, it's too far to travel if I've got to sit in coach. Tomorrow morning (Sunday), I need to get up at dawn to take the bus back to Narita for my flight to Hong Kong. After all of the walking I did today, falling asleep should not be a problem, though getting up may be a struggle.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

how's the weather here?

Because everyone always asks about the weather. It's hot and humid. It reminds me of Washington, DC, in the middle of August, though it's not the wall of heat that I remember so well from nasty DC summers. In the shade it can be comfortable, but in the sun, the heat is brutal. Even at night, it's still a little stifling. There's a typhoon on the west coast of Japan that will pass by Tokyo in the next few days, but we'll miss most of the rain. The hotel and office have excellent air conditioning, so I don't have to sweat it out indoors as well. Hong Kong's weather is supposed to be even worse than Tokyo this time of year, so I can look forward to more oppressive heat and thunderstorms.

authentic Japanese food and drink

Liz thought it was strange that on Wednesday night, my first night here, I ordered the fried chicken dinner from the hotel room service rather than trying some actual native cuisine. My reasoning was that I wanted something normal after a long day of traveling, and that my colleagues in the office here would take me out for authentic Japanese food during my stay. And I was right.

For lunch on Thursday, we went to a teriyaki restaurant and had breaded & fried pork, shrimp, and some kind of creamed crab meat, with rice, cabbage, and iced green tea. When we sat down, they gave each of us a ceramic bowl filled with black and white sesame seeds, and a wooden pestle. We ground up the seeds in the bowl, then dumped the mixture onto the cabbage and meat, along with sauce or salad dressing.

We went to Shinjuku for dinner. Shinjuku is similar to New York's Times Square: lots of neon lights and shops, and the train station there is one of the busiest in the city. We ate at the bar at a yakitori restaurant in one of the shopping malls. The grill cook worked in front of us, cooking skewers of chicken on what looked like popsicle sticks. I don't know what parts of the chicken we ate, just that everything was delicious. I had two glasses of sake, served in champagne flutes, and we were in a hurry to leave to get to an electronics store, so I drank the last bit of sake in a few gulps. That wasn't the best move, because when I got back to my room, I think I fell asleep for a while and forgot about the snacks I bought at 7-11 for dessert. (That's OK, my Haagen-Daz red bean ice cream will keep in the minibar freezer for a few days.)

I had about 10 minutes to browse for MP3 players at the electronics store. Just as I found from my online research, the players I want aren't any cheaper here than they are in the US, and in fact they're a little more expensive. My Hong Kong counterpart who is with us here in Tokyo explained that the ones I like are Korean, so they're imports here as well as the US, thus the higher prices. He thinks I might find better prices on them in Hong Kong.

Today (Friday) we'll be working late on a server upgrade that is after all my reason for coming to Tokyo. We might get the chance to sneak out of the office at lunch to go shopping again, or on Saturday afternoon and evening if we're not exhausted from working all night tonight. The office is on the top floor of an office building that overlooks the Imperial Palace, and there are some excellent views of the city from the conference rooms. My only complaint is that the Internet connection in the office is soooooooooo sssssslllllllloooooowwwwww. They connect to the Internet through our conference center in midtown Manhattan, so the data has a long haul to get back and forth. It took me half an hour to download a 5 mb file. Like every other foreign office, my firm provides free drinks and snacks here. I had a can of cold green tea yesterday, which was better than I expected. I now know the Japanese symbol for tea: a thing that looks like a H with a long crossbar, over a house on stilts. (Unfortunately, to me a lot of the Japanese characters look like houses on stilts.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

this blog is very big in Japan

OK, not yet, but maybe something will come out of my trip to Tokyo. After a long flight (I still feel echoes of the plane's turbulent bouncing) and a long bus ride from the airport, I've been relaxing in my hotel room for a while. I really wanted to explore the neighborhood, but it was about 95 degrees when I got here and I'm dead tired. I'm just forcing myself to stay awake for now so I can hopefully avoid any jet lag tomorrow. I watched "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" on the plane courtesy of Continental Airlines, and I think it might be Charlie Kaufman's best work yet as a screenwriter. Then since the rest of the movie selections stunk, I watched "The Godfather Part II" and "Wayne's World" and tried to sleep. On the bus ride into Tokyo, I could tell that I was really tired when I didn't realize for fifteen minutes that the Japanese drive on the wrong side of the road. Tokyo doesn't remind me of any other city I've ever seen. One observation I can remember right now: in New York, people who live in the city and have terraces or balconies usually use them for junk storage instead of relaxing outside. Here, it looks like a terrace or balcony is where you let your laundry air dry. Also, I'm pleasantly surprised at the number of buildings and businesses with names in English. And I hope I learn to like Olympic judo and baseball, since right now that's all they're showing here.

Monday, August 16, 2004

almost ready to go to Asia

I spent my weekend mentally preparing for the ordeal that will be tomorrow's 14-hour flight to Tokyo. I still can't fathom just how long I'm going to be on that plane. Up to now, my longest flight was an 8-hour return flight from either Frankfurt or Brussels (I've gone to Europe on business enough times now that all the flights seem to run together). The problem then was that after I ate the main meal, watched a movie, tried to sleep, and watched another movie, I realized I still had three or four hours left before we got to New York. It wasn't quite depressing (after all, I was in business class), but it wasn't an appealing thought either. Tomorrow, when I hit that four- or five- hour mark, I'll still have nine hours left. I'm bringing at least two books, eight or nine movies, a magazine, and my MP3 collection on my laptop. I assume I won't sleep much. At least I feel better than the guy we met at dinner on Saturday night, who was flying to Hong Kong today. He used to fly business class, but now that he works for his own company, he flies coach to save money. 14 hours in coach is why we'll never take a vacation in the Far East.

It only took me about an hour to pack this morning. Liz still can't understand how I can wait until the last minute to pack my bag. I'd already mentally packed the bag by deciding which clothes I wanted to take, so it was only a matter of getting everything together and squeezing it all into my small carry-on suitcase.
I'll feel guilty tomorrow when I take up almost an entire overhead bin with the bag, but the thought of rolling off the plane and through customs without waiting at baggage claim goes a long way towards assuaging my conscience. And I'm a man: I don't need to pack three ziplock bags of cosmetics and half a dozen pairs of shoes. In college, I spent a four-day weekend at the beach with a girl I was dating and her family. When we got to the hotel, she unpacked at least three bags of cosmetics, hair care products, and God only knows what else. For four days at the beach!! But I digress. I still need to pack some of my electronics gear, DVDs, and assorted chargers. I don't worry so much about my clothes getting there, but if I forget a charger or adapter, I'll stew over it for days.

We saw The Bourne Supremacy on Sunday afternoon. I think the first movie was slightly better, but this one was absolutely worth the trip. This film lacked some of the emotion of The Bourne Identity, but made up for it in thrilling chases and espionage elements. Matt Damon and Brian Cox were excellent (as they were the first time around) and Karl Urban, though he didn't say much, was effective as Bourne's primary hunter. Joan Allen was good, but not as effective as a character as Chris Cooper's Conklin was in the first film. Judging by the user comments on IMDB, many people were put off by the handheld camera work, but it didn't bother me at all. The handheld cameras made me feel like I was riding along in the car or running alongside Damon as he evaded capture. What I love about these movies is that little of the story is implausible. Unlike James Bond movies, Bourne doesn't rely on gadgets, charm, or wisecracks to get out of sticky situations. He devises a plan based on what he has to work with. And he gets hurt, which never happens to Bond. And unlike the muscle-bound heroes of movies in the 1980s and 1990s (Schwarzenegger, Willis, Stallone, etc.), Bourne doesn't overpower his enemies with brawn, but with his wits and cunning. He's a much more realistic character than anyone I've seen in this kind of movie in a long time. My biggest complaint with both movies is that they hardly use any material from Robert Ludlum's original novels. I'm amused by the fact that bookstores are selling paperbacks of Supremacy with Matt Damon's picture on the cover, though the book has virtually nothing in common with the film. There is a third book (The Bourne Ultimatum) but there's no way a third movie will have anything to do with the story. However, Ludlum fans will like the end of the movie, when a major detail of the novels finally gets mentioned in the films.

I had hoped to see The Village before I left, but we didn't have time. So I'll have to go another two weeks avoiding spoilers and hoping no one inadvertently gives away the surprise.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The RNC vs. protesters

Salon is featuring this article titled "New York lockdown" about the planned and unplanned protests for the Republican National Convention later this month, and what the city plans to do about them. I'm not too worried about terrorists that week, but after reading this I'm more concerned that protesters are going to do something stupid that provokes a rash reaction from the police. I had hoped to avoid all of the mishegoss of the convention, since I live on the Upper East Side and commute to work on the Lexington Avenue subway line. But some of the protesters plan to go where the police aren't and disrupt things. I can just see me walking several blocks out of my way because some idiots have chained themselves together across lower Broadway, blocking my access to my office. City Hall is just a few blocks north of my office; I'm sure there will be a protest presence there at some point. Don't get me wrong: I don't disagree with these protesters or their right to express themselves, but I'd prefer it if they kept themselves and their expressions out of my neighborhood.

Actually, the most disturbing part of the article is right here:

This terrifies Bush opponents, who worry that violence on the streets of New York will help the Republicans by making them look like Middle American moderates besieged by nutty radicals. They note that the Chicago '68 debacle helped cement Richard Nixon's reputation as the law-and-order candidate.

One of the organizers thinks that ordinary New Yorkers will see the protests and join in. I can guarantee that I won't be among them. I stood on the fringe of the anti-war protest in Washington Square Park in March 2003 and had zero desire to get any closer. When i saw police in riot gear run past I went straight home until the whole thing was over. If the convention week is anything like that anti-war protest, it actually won't be that bad -- there were only a few arrests in an otherwise peaceful crowd. Unfortunately, based on this article and some other things I've read and heard, I think the outrage at the Bush administration is at such a high level that this time protests will be long, loud, and combative.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

...and I've moved

I'm now on blogspot.com. If you had a link on your site to my old page, it will redirect here. www.fiveguysproductions.com will also get you to this new site. No more FTP errors for me.

Hopefully, regular posting will resume shortly.

Running out of disk space

One reason I haven't posted much lately is that I'm running low on storage on my personal web site, where I host this blog. If you click on the "Phil's website" link on the right side, you'll find that most of the content is now missing. That's because I've had to delete just about everything from my web site in order to make room for the blog. But now even that's not enough. I'm deciding what to do next: dump the archive, try to get more web site space from Earthlink, or move the blog to another site. The easiest (and likeliest) option is to move it to a blogspot.com address, where there doesn't seem to be any size limit. And fiveguysproductions.blogspot.com is a better URL than the home.earthlink.net one I've been stuck with for years.

Mostly I'm writing this now to see if I can actually post it, or if I'll get another disk space error.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

new security features at my building

I've had all sorts of craziness at work lately and blogging has fallen by the wayside. Not much of an excuse, but if you don't like it, hey, no one's making you read this.

My office building is not one of the targets in the latest terror warning, though my firm does maintain a conference center in the Citigroup Center in midtown which is on the list. But as I was leaving work this evening, I noticed the large maroon jersey barriers that someone placed in front of all of the street-level entrances, thwarting any car- or truck-bomb attempts. They must have been installed today, because I didn't see them when I came in this morning. The barriers are so garish that it looks like our building is in downtown Baghdad instead of Manhattan. The color of the barriers doesn't make any sense: why maroon? The outside of the building is black and the planters and sidewalks are a pinkish marble. Another problem is the length of the barriers: they block most of the space between the planters so there's only a little gap to walk between them. I took some pictures with my Treo camera as I was leaving, and assuming the Homeland Security folks don't arrest me, I'll post them here tomorrow. I understand the need for increased security, and I appreciate anything that keeps potential car and truck bombs away, but I think the building management got a little carried away.