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Archive for November, 2010


It’s been a little over a month now, and I just found a draft I wrote on my very first afternoon here. It seems a lifetime ago: come reminisce with me about that first morning, when the world was fresh and alien and almost nothing I saw made any sense to me.

After a tipple or two (or three) the night before, I awoke at 6.30am – hey thanks jet-lag, appreciate it – stumbled over last night’s clothes and a couple of half-open suitcases and wondered fruitlessly what was happening in the real world (aka London), where it was 11.30am and presumably rainy.

By 9am I had a place for every thing, and everything in its place, and had moved on to re-arranging the living room and kitchen. Nice.

Shortly thereafter, my cunning plan to navigate Manhattan by compass accidentally took us to Battery Park and spurred us to get American mobile phone plans sooner rather than later, so we could once again deny any evolutionary or learn-ed skills and resume status as savants with lightning-fast and pinpoint-precise fingers darting onto a touchscreen faster than the eye can see; think The Sundance Kid, but with the ability to show you the exact weather in the Republic of Kazakhstan at any second (subject to 3G connectivity.)

3G connectivity for iPhones is only available in America through AT&T, but after AT&T told us only offered two-year contracts, we turned, disconsolate and inconsolable to the helpful and friendly (I tried to avoid using American as the adjective, herein I fail – it’s just too true) folks in the nearby T-Mobile store. Life on the EDGE was, alas, a step too far. We were in a pickle, so it was time to turn to the ultimate source of aid: Twitter.

A return to the AT&T store replete with a plausible lie (recommended by an Internet person); a confident gaze; and a pair of T-Mobile leaflets held none-too-subtly, and we now have their two-year ‘family plan’ (a fantastic concept – check it out), but with the right to cancel it without penalty after our 6 months are up.

Next up this morning (yep, we’re not even at noon yet, go get yourself a cup of tea and settle in, I’ll wait) was a visit to Radio Shack. If you met the perfect girl – witty; fun; shapely; blonde; deviant – this is what her father’s shed would look like. Gadgets and toys littered around the shelves, but the real treasures hidden away in draws categorised and stuffed with obsessive precision – if there’s a fuse, connector or cable you’re after that they don’t stock, the store manager’s firstborn’s child is forfeit.


That’s a picture of a Radio Shack store I found on the Internet. I have no idea what’s happening but that guy looks like a cross between Elvis and a Gunslinger.

We rounded off the morning with an American ideal – a good burger from goodburger; I absolutely adore the notion that one can choose how a burger is cooked (and order it online.)


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The best thing about Hashing is finding and exploring a new areas of New York, and then finding the best pub in the area. Meeting fun people; following hash-marks; getting lost; shouting; singing; and pizza & beer are all, however, a very close second.

Yesterday we headed out to Roosevelt Island, which I didn’t even know existed, for what was quite definitively the easiest trail I’ve seen. It’s quite hard to get lost when you start on a sliver of island just less than 2 miles long, you know you’ve got a run of at least 5 miles to get through, and there’s only one pedestrian bridge off the island.

Roosevelt Island

That said, it was beautiful to run around; with stunning views of Manhattan and Queens uninterrupted by well, anything. Someone’s written a much nicer review of running the island than I can, so I’ll simply let you read his thoughts, whilst I move on to Queens.

I was a bit surprised to discover that Queens (at least, Long Island City anyway) is not only nicely lit and well-kept, but even goes as far as being a bit trendy. I don’t know where the tourist myth that ‘you should stay in Manhattan’ came from, but I’ve not seen any evidence for it in the other boroughs so far.

The outdoor area of LIC Bar where we ended up looks almost like an Home Counties country pub, and indoors they have regular live music, including the Long Island City Jazz Alliance regular jam night, which I’ll be checking out soon (and maybe even playing at.)

LIC Bar Outside

So, that’s Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Queens down, anyone for a trip to Staten Island? No?

Ah well.


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I Still Love Thanksgiving

It seems a significant portion of my recent posts have been about food. This will be no exception. I am still loving Thanksgiving here, and I don’t just mean that the Scotch is still having an effect (though I won’t rule that out.)

If enough people had been in the house to consume the amount of food present on Thanksgiving, it would have been a fire hazard, so we were sent on our way with some leftovers. Such as an entire Red Velvet cheesecake, for example.

Thanksgiving Red Velvet Cake

Stuffing my face with cheesecake aside, we also have a formidable amount of ham (which is basically gammon) and cranberry stuffing to get through. Enter Leo’s Bagels, our local Jewish bagel shop. I’m not entirely sure what Judaism brings to the baking process, but New Yorkers seem proud to be replete with Jewish bagel stores and I figure I should try and fit in.

Leo's Bagels New York

At a dollar apiece, with 14 for the price of 12 (a broker’s dozen for the Wall St. crowd), these become works of art when stuffed with the remnants of Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving Bagels

In related news I’ve decided to start running by the riverside every morning now. It’s becoming a necessity.


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Ideologically speaking, I’m all in favour of feminism, the Suffragettes, and even metrosexuality (just look at my hats.) Practically though, there’s a downside. The first time I tried to wash my clothes after I moved to Uni I dyed a bunch of them purply-pink. That probably seems fine, until I point out that I did the same second time round too.

Today’s episode of “When Men Perform Basic Domestic Tasks” is presented to you by our dishwasher.


The lesson of the day is: don’t put washing up liquid in the dishwasher. A second lesson is: don’t touch the heating element inside the dishwasher just after it’s finished. I still don’t see the fault in my logic for the former but, for now, I’m prepared to accept experimental evidence as good reason to buy dishwasher tablets. Or wash the dishes by hand. Or wait for the maid to do it.

Yeah, I think I know the winning answer there.


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I Love Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. And whisky. And whiskey. And bourbon. Whisky is the name of the spirit from Scotland (and can also be applied if it’s made in Canada or Japan too.) Whiskey is the same stuff made elsewhere. Bourbon is a whiskey made in Kentucky which meets a certain set of criteria.

But, back to Thanksgiving. Which featured all three of the above:

Thanksgiving Whiskies

My new second-favourite person in the world (runner-up only to her mother, who cooked for 25 people without a hint of stress or effort) invited Rob & I to a proper American family Thanksgiving day & dinner over in New Jersey. It’s the first time I’ve crossed a state line since getting here, and I was mildly relieved that no-one tried to shoot me as I did so. I think I’ve watched too many crime dramas and action films from the states.

After drinks, enough appetisers to feed an army and a hundred introductions to twenty-five people later – I even remembered a few names after that – I noticed that there were four things that required my attention in the kitchen-cum-lounge. First up, a giant (12kg) turkey:

Thanksgiving Turkey

Next up, desserts. Many, many, many desserts. Enough calories on one table to power Greenland for a year. I have never seen so much dessert. And it was all fantastic.

Thanksgiving Desserts

The third and fourth points that needed my attention were conflicting and alternating: there was both a traditional James Bond marathon running on one TV channel (presumably so people could be thankful that British gentlemen have thusfar prevented the world from blowing up) and game after game of American Football on the other. After Thanksgiving I think that I now know enough of the intricacies of the game to effectively shout at a television in a bar; I intend on trying it out after my next hash and finding out if that’s so.

The food was amazing, the house packed with wonderful people and there was literally no aspect to the day other than eating, drinking, and chatting to people. I can’t think of a better public holiday. I fully intend on bringing it with me wherever I go in future.

Also I had to wear a beret for the day. I’m not entirely sure why.


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True Loves

Rob and I live together, but apart. There’s no tender cuddling on the sofa; no candlelit dinners; not even a shout of ‘Honey! I’m home!’ (although now I’ve thought of that I’m definitely going to be instating it.)

Maybe, in another life things could work out between us, but in the here and now, we each have another love, and I don’t think anything could tear us apart from our respective amores.

His is an iMac, with sensual pure white curves and perfectly sculpted interfaces; always eager to please and pretty much guaranteed free of the viruses and such associated with their less savoury competitors – always a plus when sharing a bedroom.

Rob with iMac

Mine, though? My StudioLogic SL880Pro piano; firm yet responsive, pure. Yes, it has finally arrived. Some people said I was an idiot for shipping a piano over to New York, when I might only be here for 6 months; but if that’s the best evidence they can find of my idiocy they’re clearly not even trying anyway.

Ian with Studiologic SL880Pro

A snippet of sense in this missive of merriment: Transglobal Express saved the day when it came to getting these heavy, bulky treasures across the Atlantic. For the trifling sum of fifty British pounds a gentleman will turn up at your door, sweep your true love into his arms and have her back in your arms in 2-4 days, safe and sound; and, as far as I can detect, not interfered with in the slightest. Presuming DHL doesn’t lose your piano in Brussels of course.

I hope the girls don’t mind that I just described them as heavy and bulky. But then, we’re geeks: we were hardly going to do any better than that anyway, right?


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