May 2003 in New York through the eyes of an Englishman -  Contact  Current Month  Previous  Next  Index  Software

Tracy J's

Tracy J's.

31/5/2003 - The Prodigal Returns

Terry phoned late morning and apologized. It's rare for Terry to do this, so let me say for the record that although I didn't need an apology, it was most welcome. She said she'd be home later.

I was somewhat perked up by this, despite the fact that the weather is miserable again - blustery and wet with periodic heavy squalls. I finished of the registration system in Publicity. All I have to do now is build a web application to generate registration keys. Like I said, it's never finished.

Terry arrived back at about 6:30 just after I got back from the pub. She seemed glad to be home. I hope she hasn't just come back just because she was persuaded it was the right thing to do. I had leftovers from what started getting made on Thursday, so I cooked an odds and ends meal of some new and some already cooked vegetables, chick peas and meat. I really enjoyed it, but Terry didn't appear to have much appetite - hmm.

In the evening we initially went to Coogans, but there wasn't a seat to be had, and Terry's leg is still not up to standing all night. El Tahra had said she might come, but there was no sign of her, so we went to Tracy J's. Tracy made me sing Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World. It's a song that I find excessively slushy, but it does suit my voice. To my surprise the youngish crowd at the karaoke end loved it. I suppose now I'll have to do it again.

Another month has come and gone, so tomorrow is a brand new page - catch you later.

A gray day

A gray day.

30/5/2003 - More of the Same

Having found a company - DigitalCandle - who will take orders for my software for a 10% commission, I worked on a registration scheme for Publicity. These things can always be broken by an experienced cracker, but in this case there'd be little point in the work. All the unregistered version does is pause briefly as it starts with a splash screen to remind you that I'd like you to buy it. If you've used an unregistered version of WinZip, you'll know what I mean.

Terry phoned me from some strange man's phone number in the afternoon. She really didn't have anything to say. I asked her to come home, but got no response.

In the evening I went to Blondies, and got into conversation with another Englishman who goes there, and a woman he was talking to, who apparently is a photographer. I have of course forgotten both their names. We put most of the world to rights, and as a consequence I was back somewhat later than usual. I ate the food that was cooked the night before, and went to bed early.

Not a happy camper

Not a happy camper.

29/5/2003 - Terry Goes AWOL

The day started well enough. Terry rose quite early, went to the shop, and made me some breakfast. She seemed to be in a good and affectionate mood. Indeed we made love, and as far as I could tell it went pretty well.

Then at about two o'clock, she got dressed up, announcing she had some business to attend to, and went out. I was working on web pages, and on the software. She phoned at about 3:30 to tell me she was indeed banned from Blondies. I have to admit that this news made me somewhat angry, and the conversation reflected that. But I don't think it was unreasonable for me to be upset by the fact that she got drunk and shot her mouth off, and got us banned as a couple from our local pub. She hung up on me.

Come 5:00 she wasn't back, so I got showered, and went by myself to Blondies. But I wasn't comfortable, as you can probably see, and became less so as the time wore on. I shopped for food without much enthusiasm, went home, and started to cook. Terry rolled in at about 7:30, worse for wear again, and with a man in tow - one of the regulars from Blondies, he left almost immediately. They were clutching parcels, so he may just have been helping.

Terry was looking for a fight - apparently I was prepared to believe what others said, rather than her version of the previous night. In truth I'd been told very little about what actually happened. I knew she was drunk, and I knew she'd pissed off one of the owners. I know what she's like when she's drunk - what more did I need to know? The conversation went rapidly downhill, phones were thrown, lit cigarettes were confiscated, and for a time I hung on to her wallet - fearing more drinking as much as anything. But I had no right to do that, and gave it back. She packed a small bag and left, and I haven't seen her since.



28/5/2003 - A Visit from Terry 2

This afternoon I went to my old company, to pay Terry's COBRA health insurance, which fortunately we were able to reinstate after she lost hers. It doesn't get round the problem of how the leg operation gets paid for, but at least she has health insurance for anything else that come up. Whether we'll be able to continue paying for it is another matter.

In the evening we made chicken kebabs, and Terry used yesterdays cold potatoes to make a potato salad. The combination was really good. We'll do the recipe at some point.

Later, Terry had invited one of her Radio Shack ex-employees, John, and his girlfriend Maria, around to gossip. They ate the rest of the kebabs, and talked, and I read my new book. Later on they decided to go out for a nightcap. I was into the book, and declined.


So there's a possibility that Terry is now banned from Blondies. If that turns out to be the case, I'll be mightily displeased.

Trade balances

Trade balances.

27/5/2003 - Doom and Gloom

Reading history books often makes me apprehensive about the state of the world. Last night I was reading a new book about the first year of World War II, and before I bought it I'd browsed a book about the rise of a criminal state in Russia. Both of these made me think seriously about the fragility of empires, in one case the Soviet Empire, and in the other, the British Empire and its protagonist Hitler's 3rd Reich.

This lead me to wonder what it would take to cause a collapse of the remaining world "Empire", the superpower USA. Perhaps the answer is as simple as the status quo. Does anybody have a more cheerful scenario?
The new Publicity

The new Publicity.

26/5/2003 - Maybe Finished

Software is never really finished. There are always improvements that should be made, bugs that haven't been found, misspellings and such. The best you can achieve is stable, where the thing doesn't crash, and reliably does the things that people expect of it. If features don't get used by readers, the bugs in them are never found.

Publicity 4.0 isn't there yet, but it is nominally finished. Now I have to find the bugs, and to find out what features I've got wrong. So I'm looking for some victims who are prepared to give it a try. For existing Publicity users, the new version and the old version will coexist on the same machine, so you don't have to do this without a safety net. You'll have to create a new desktop shortcut to the old version if you need to use it. The file format hasn't changed, so you can use your existing designs. Just back them up, in case I've got something wrong. You can also check out an HTML form of the on-line help to see what Publicity can do.

I'm making it sound pretty flaky - actually it seems quite solid, I've been exercising it quite a lot while testing the new wizard features. However, there's no substitute for real users when it comes to finding bugs.


Concentration at Fitzpatricks.

25/5/2003 - A Different Sunday

I arose very late - don't ask. My head was none too good, and I wasn't really into the idea of breakfast. I think it's called a hangover. I prodded at the label software in a desultory fashion. The wizards I added to simplify making compositions for beginners at the moment only deal with US label/card sizes. Something will have to be done about that - most of the world is metric.

The cat - Cali - is in heat again. Is this normal in a cat that's supposed to have been spayed? She wanders round the house howling, and basically pestering for sex. I don't know what the hell she thinks I can do for her. If I were sure she'd been spayed, maybe I'd try and find her a male gigolo cat. It's a sad thing that she can't have any fun.

So why different? Well it's not the weather, that's in the same rut. Won the lotto? Found a gold brick? No such luck. The difference is, no work tomorrow. This didn't have much noticeable effect during the day, but at night, the karaoke bars were mobbed. I went over to the west side to the Parlour at about 9:30, and it was busy then. By the time they started singing, you couldn't move. Since I'd got there early I managed to get a song in, but after that it was obviously going to be an hour and a half to get another, so I got the bus back across town and went to Fitzpatricks. It was a little less packed there, but still very busy. Interestingly, both places had good Stevie Nicks impersonators. Jacqueline at the Parlour is a natural for Stevie Nicks' voice, and a girl called Laura also did a great job at Fitzpatricks.

Fitzpatricks also had a visitation from the US navy, so there must be a ship docked here for Memorial day.
  No work tomorrow 

No work tomorrow.
Laura - a Stevie Nicks 

Laura - a Stevie Nicks.




24/5/2003 - More Sex Talk

I'm back to one of my favorite subjects today, another sex recipe. It would be nice to get some feedback on this stuff, not just recipes, of whatever kind, but generally. Is it appreciated by anybody out there, or am I just wasting my time? My daughter Rachel tells me I have some readers in the UK, and I know there are some here in the USA. If you have anything to say, please click the contact link at the top of the page, and say it. Life is too short for shyness, and I feel like I'm doing this in a vacuum. Keep away from the sexual aspects by all means - just a hello would be good. I'd like to know there's somebody out there listening.

We still have the same depressing weather, and conventionally in the US, the summer's supposed to start on Monday - Memorial Day here, and Spring Bank Holiday in England. I worked on the software, trying to get together the installation program and generally making sure everything included in the setup was up-to-date and working properly. It's a daunting task for a one-man-band software outfit.

Now it's very late. I've been out karaoke singing again, Coogans, Tracy J's, and American Spirits, so I'm somewhat squiffy. However, I have stayed within my specified parameters - Terry is away at Sandra's for the weekend. Wherever you are girl, know that I love you. I'm going to bed now.

The wall - #1

The wall - #1.

23/5/2003 - Variety is the Spice

First I'll make good on my promise from yesterday. I got Susan's permission, and took some pictures of the wall at Ziggies. Let me know what you think. Susan incidentally, is quite cute. I think she was into something she shouldn't have been a few years ago, and it took its toll, but she's still a charmer. The large self portrait in wall #1 was the piece that really got my attention. It consists almost entirely of her signature in different colors and sizes. Terry liked the one with the dick, and flattered me by saying it looked like mine. I should be so lucky! If I had any money I would have bought both.

I finally got most of the new features in Publicity sorted out after Terry had trashed it. Having someone use it who has no idea how it's supposed to work is really good for a developer. Terry had a spring cleaning mania. I can't think what brought that on, there's still little sign of spring.

In the evening we had our outing for the week, and went to Tracy J's.
  The wall - #2

The wall - #2.
The wall - #3

The wall - #3.
The wall - #3

The wall - #4.

Maria - the morning after

Maria - the morning after.

We got there reasonably early, and I got to sing four times, mostly new stuff - I was feeling brave. I did "Lyin' eyes" (Eagles), "Can't get enough of your love" (Barry White), "What a fool believes" (Doobies), and "Deacon Blues" (Steely Dan). The Barry White song went down really well. Jamie, behind the bar, admitted that she compliments everyone on their singing as a matter of business, but that she really enjoyed that one, so I was suitably flattered. I'll have to adopt Barry White, his music suits my vocal range. The Steely Dan song was difficult, even though I've heard it a million times. I don't know that I'll do it again. The old Eagles song I know pretty much by heart. In some ways it strikes me as a theme song. I had to do that as the first song of the evening, and there wasn't much of an audience at that point, but I enjoyed singing it nonetheless.

Maria, a Dominican girl we've met there a couple of time, was there again. She sings too, and has a good voice. She's depressed because she's lost her job, and didn't want to go home by herself, so Terry took her under her wing. Like most of our late-night visitors, she was hungry, and ate the leftovers. Terry put her to bed on our sofa.

Eat them - huh?

Eat them - huh?

22/5/2003 - Bye Bye Jetta!

The man finally came to take away the Jetta today. I was sorry in some ways to see it go, but it had really become an unsupportable liability. I'd taken it out of monthly parking after I lost my job, so it was back to living in the street. In our area that means you spend almost an hour four days a week moving it from one side of the street to the other. I'd also let the insurance lapse. It wasn't getting used for anything, maybe once a month for a trip to Patterson, and there's plenty of competition for the money I have left. Getting rid of it will save me about $800 a month. If I need a car, I'll rent one for the day or whatever. You don't need one in the city. So all I have left is the license plates, and the EZPass transceiver - like the smile of the Cheshire Cat.

The rest of the day I spent implementing some of the modifications I'd come up with to the new features in Publicity. I wasn't missing anything, since the weather is still dismal.

The poster caught my eye when we took our evening break at the bar. I didn't know you were supposed to eat them. Obviously I've been laboring under the wrong impression all these years.

After Blondies we went to a viewing of art work by a woman - Susan Meyers - who lives on our street. It was at Ziggies, a coffee shop on the other side of 2nd Avenue. The work was quite impressive to me - must have been, since I didn't realize my camera never left my pocket until after I got home. If I had any money I might have bought something. Anyway, I'm assuming it will still be there tomorrow, so I'll try and get permission to give you an impression.

Terry has an interview tomorrow, and has to get up early, so I don't think we'll be doing Tracy J's today - maybe tomorrow.

Barrel distortion at wide angle

Barrel distortion at wide angle.

21/5/2003 - Bummer!

The pictures are no good! What a drag - I'd been quite enthusiastic about the idea. As you can see though, no respectable building firm is going to want to be associated with support columns that look like they're sagging under the weight. I re-read the C50 reviews, and sure enough, there it was staring me in the face - barrel distortion at wide angle settings. I've sent the building contractors an email explaining the problem, and said that I can't really do it. The weather was sympathetic to the induced mood - back to wet and cool.

So for the rest of the day, I was back to my modifications to Publicity. I'd got to some sort of point where it was working, and asked Terry to try out the new features without too much prompting from me. When I had to prompt, I made a note so I could improve the help or the user interface.

This process is usually salutary. There's nothing like an inexperienced user (inexperienced with the software, that is) to quickly make you feel a fool when you've added some new feature. So I got lots of notes, and ideas, and now have quite a bit more work to do. In fact, a whole new attitude occurred to me. Publicity is very powerful and flexible, but of course you pay for this in the learning curve. Perhaps there's a different product lying there waiting to be done, which uses Publicity as a low-level engine, and automates the setup of fifty or a hundred boilerplate designs for business cards, conference badges, tickets, flyers, and such. Hmm, we'll see.

Downtown Manhattan from Brooklyn

Downtown Manhattan from Brooklyn.

20/5/2003 - Another Trip to Brooklyn.

In a continuing search for something to do that will make money, I took another trip to Brooklyn today. The object was to see if I could take some decent photos of some building work-in-progress with the C50.

It was a beautiful day, so the trip was quite pleasant in it's own right, even though it was something of an exercise in subway orienteering. The work is a conversion of an old school to apartments, and I generally liked the feel of the place. The supervisor at the site, Manuel, was pleasant and helpful, and I took lots of pictures. I duplicated each scene on auto and landscape settings - mostly wide angle stuff. From the roof, I had a great view of NY harbour and of Manhattan, so I took some pictures of them too.

Terry has thought better of the Florida trip, which makes me a happier man. She's going to Sandra's place for the weekend to help with the ongoing apartment conversion. Thank you Sandra. The temperature was in the 70s, and the crowd at Blondies was in good humor, so all-in-all it was a pleasant day.

Poached Salmon with Baked Potato

Poached Salmon with Baked Potato.

  • Decent size piece of salmon fillet,
  • Two or three baking potatoes,
  • Bag of salad spinach,
  • 1lb of baby carrots,
  • A few mushrooms,
  • Crushed garlic.

19/5/2003 - Exploring Bureaucracy, and a Meal

Terry and I had a row this morning, so it wasn't a particularly happy day. She's bought an airline ticket to go and stay with her cousin Ramona in Florida for a week. I hope she doesn't, but I'll say no more. Living in a goldfish bowl is one thing, but from time to time I'll swim behind the rock.

In the afternoon, I went to try and redeem my boob with the Department of Labor orientation session. This turned out to be relatively painless. I'd expected a grilling, or some other dire consequences, and at least to lose the weeks benefit. Whether the latter is the case remains to be determined. In fact, it seems like the DOL is in about the same state as the rest of us. The session is slated in the covering letter to be about two hours, but they were immediately at pains to tell us we'd be through in about half an hour. I guess the long arm of the recession has reached into their operations as well. I filled in my forms, and the man who was shepherding us signed me out after two very brief talks. Terry went out while I was out, and in the evening was moderately sloshed, but we survived without further damage.

The poached salmon was very simple, and really good. Chop the mushrooms small, and crush the garlic. Put the spinach in a suitably large pot with a lid, and add about a quarter inch of water. Put the carrots into a smaller pot, and just cover them. Put the potatoes in the microwave, set for 10 minutes - pierce them in a few places with a knife first, and turn on the oven at about 450F at the same time. After a couple of minutes, put the carrots on over a moderate heat - when they boil, turn it down.

Now fry the mushrooms in a little olive oil - fairly well done is the target. When the ten minutes has expired, put the potatoes in the oven, and the salmon in a skillet with a well fitting lid in a little water, heated to boiling. Then turn the heat right down. Bring the spinach to the boil, and treat it the same way. Add the crushed garlic to the mushrooms, and continue to fry gently. When you can put a knife through the salmon with ease, everything should be done. Drain the spinach and carrots, and serve them onto heated plates. Cut the salmon into the portions that you and your other half require, add them, and garnish with the mushroom/garlic mixture. Transfer the baked potatoes direct from oven to plate.

If you can resist plastering the baked potatoes with butter this is potentially a pretty healthy meal. Use olive oil instead, and wash it down with a glass or two of Pinot Grigio.

Mike and Alma Sanchez

Mike and Alma Sanchez.

18/5/2003 - What Friends are For

This morning took a small turn for the better. The sun was out some of the time, and I could convince myself that it was a litle warmer. Having determined how to do it, I hooked publicity up to the new HTML Help system, and added a proper "What's This" item to the help menu. I'm quite pleased with myself now. A man needs a little smugness from time to time.

Mike Sanchez phoned while I was working, so I got Terry up to talk to him. Mike is an old Radio Shack buddy of Terry's, and he'd invited us out to Sunday brunch, probably because he knew Terry was down in the dumps about the health insurance thing. The venue was discussed, and turned out, surprise, surprise, to be Panorama. But that's fine. I quite like it for Sunday lunch. We complained about the temperature, and eat brunch-like things, omelettes and such. But everyone was in a good mood.

Alma runs a small night club up in Bronx. They were hosting a Sunday evening function so we went up there with them after lunch to see the place. It's quite an impressive setup. She is very organized, and everybody jumps when she jumps - including Mike, I think. There's a lady I can see being a success. Mike is still slogging it out at Radio Shack, but I think he's starting to fade - like a ringbearer.

After a while, I came home to work on this stuff. Terry stayed for a while, and we eventually met up again at the Parlour. Not very efficiently, she'd phoned, and I'd said to come across, but then she was ages, and I concluded she wasn't coming and went home. So we crossed going east and west, and I had to return to the west side, since she had no money.

Pasta again!

Pasta again!

17/5/2003 - Is This a Rut?

If there's anybody left out there, you must be bored to tears by now. Perhaps I should commit a crime or something, then this could be more like a real soap opera.

Even though we didn't have a particularly late night, I slept in and wasted half the day again. In the afternoon I added more topics to the Publicity help file, and spent some more time figuring out how to hook-up the program to the HTML Help. By about 3:30, Terry got bored with being ignored and went out. I persisted until 5:00, then walked round to meet her at Blondies. It was another really chilly day. I never got warm the whole time, and the pub was like an icebox.

Terry seems to be in a pasta mood this week, so we had it again - pasta that is. Another joint effort, this time it was cornmeal crusted fried shrimp, with linguini, tomato and mushroom sauce, and broccoli stems. In case you haven't tumbled, the stems of broccoli aren't something you should just cut off and throw away. If you peel off the tough outer layer, and slice them up, they make an excellent vegetable course.

After that it was back to watching TV. Though I was tempted by the idea of going to Coogans, the TV films won, and we got a reasonably early night.

Gerard's sister's band

Gerard's sister's band.

16/5/2003 - The Rakes Progress

Given the nature of the Thursday night, you can bet correctly that Friday was not the most productive of days. I didn't get up until after 12, and Terry arose some time later.

A registered copy of Help & Manual that I'd ordered on line arrived. So I cleared out the nag messages from the Publicity help file, and did a little reading on the HTML Help API - nothing taxing. Supper was in a similar vein - simple, cheap, and cheerful. I made corned beef hash. Actually, it's a meal I really like if I'm feeling down-in-the-dumps, or if it's cold, which it still is. It isn't quite what you'd get at your average breakfast/brunch cafe. You'll find it in the recipes section (soon).

Friday night we had promised to go to Gerard's birthday party. Gerard is an old friend of Terry and I like him. It was at a bar/grill called Babbingtons at 95th Street and Columbus. As is often the case I was the token white. It was pleasant though. Gerard's sister's band played some standard R & B/Soul stuff. If I go there again she says she'll let me sing "Wonderful Tonight" with the band.

Terry had one too many, and became argumentative. Romeo, who had joined us became hungry. We took him home with us to eat the remains of the corned beef hash, and between us, he and I managed to persuade Terry to shut up, and go to bed.

A neglected corner

A neglected corner.

15/5/2003 - Decay and Decadence

New York shows lots of signs of going down the tubes. Job news is mostly of one kind - someone just lost theirs. Activities of do-it-yourself moving vans seem to be largely one-way - out of the city. The 'greatest city in the world' is strapped for cash, and it shows increasingly. I took the picture opposite while travelling to Brooklyn yesterday. It's part of an abandoned platform at the Chambers Street subway station, close to City Hall. Obviously designed to be an impressive place once, it's now an eyesore. The J and M trains crawl through it as if they shared its mood.

Well I really screwed up yesterday. The work I went to see about may or may not materialize. But during the time I spent looking, I should have been at a Department of Labor orientation session to teach me how to get a new job. If you fail to attend, like me, you lose at least a week's unemployment benefit - a kind of catch 22 in this case.

I worked half heartedly on some new bits in the Publicity help file, and paid bills, and couldn't get warm all day. The weather continues in its strange path with a chill north-easterly wind. Even when the sun come out and it looks pleasant, you'll go out, and there's that sneaky wind going straight through your clothes.

Having been good since Sunday, in the sense of the not-spending-money campaign, tonight was to be a modest night out. When it came to it, Terry was reluctant. Not I think from a fiscal point of view, but rather because she'd got settled in front of a good film on the TV. A rarity - we should have it stuffed. I was sent out alone, with the possibility that she might join me later.

Tracy J's was very quiet to start with, so I got to sing much more than usual - maybe 5 songs, but initially to an empty room. In between, some young woman at the bar filled me in on the details of the abortions she'd had recently, and how she regretted them. I was lost to put a Freudian interpretation on this. Perhaps I just look old and understanding these days. Eventually, Terry turned up and rescued me. After that, I think quite a good time must have been had by all, judging by the bar tab, and the fact that we didn't get home until four in the morning.

News hounds at 86th Street

News hounds at 86th Street.

14/5/2003 - Exploring

This morning I discovered another great piece of software - well, great if you need it. It's called Help & Manual, and deals with that tedious part of software development where you have to create the help system and write the user manual. I downloaded the evaluation version, which allows you to do everything, though it does create a help file with nag messages. I laundered the Publicity help project through it, did a little work on styles and fonts, and reordered the table of contents. Result, bingo, a good looking HTML help system that is much easier to use than before.

In the afternoon I had to go to Brooklyn to see a man about some possible work. The trains on the 4-5-6 lines were thoroughly messed up, with express trains running on the local tracks. When I got to 86th Street it became more clear why. The station was full of police and TV cameras, and the lower (express) level was cordoned off. From the top of the downtown staircase I got a glimpse of stretchers and EMT staff, and more police. So the likelihood is that somebody decided to end it all in a dramatic fashion, and cast themselves under a train. The visit to Brooklyn went reasonably well, we'll see what the outcome is.

In the evening I made some strange pasta with medallions of pork loin in a creamy sauce, linguini, and - would you believe it - savoy cabbage. Believe it or not, the combination worked very well. I'll put it in the recipe section.

There was lots of it, so when ET phoned she was invited over to destroy the remnants. El Tahra and Romeo can always be guaranteed to polish off any left over food. She didn't fail us. The food was disposed of off with dispatch, along with the remains of the sherry, and a good proportion of a lump of brie I'd just bought. In some ways it's like being back in ones student days.

Fountain at 95th and Second

Fountain at 95th and Second.

13/5/2003 - Home Office

Figuring that working at home might be the only option in the current economic climate, I went out to day to look for a cheap scanner, to extend the equipment set, and because I had some photos I wanted to scan and save on CD.

The weather was still stuck in the same pattern. Unseasonably cold and damp. On the way, I remembered to pause and take a picture of the fountain just across Second Avenue. I've walked past it numerous time making a mental note to do it - such an effective stratagem. You can judge how dim and dismal the day was by the blurring of the falling water, obviously a long exposure. I'll get it again sometime on a bright day.

I tracked down a scanner in PC Richards, a Canon D1250U2F. It was $99. How they make something with electronic components, software, moving parts, and documentation, ship it from China, distribute it to a store, sell it and pay the salesperson's commission, and make a profit, eludes me. So I came away somewhat suspicious that I might have bought a lemon. But it seems not so. The installation was smooth, and I was quite pleased with the scanned results.

I was also pleased to find that it works very well with my favorite freeware graphics program - IrfanView - a must-have application in my estimation.

Since we're now in low-expense-living mode, we stayed in during the evening after a brief visit to Blondies, ate leftovers, and played cribbage. The karaoke will have to be seriously cut back, so probably we'll do Tracy J's on Thursday, and maybe Coogans on Saturday.

A vivid meal

A vivid meal.

  • Decent sized piece of Chilean Sea Bass fillet,
  • Two slices of fairly lean bacon,
  • Four thin slices of mozzarella cheese,
  • Snow Peas (Mange Tout),
  • 1 Cup basmati rice,
  • Half an onion,
  • A handful of baby bella mushrooms,
  • A soft tomato,
  • Half a large green pepper,
  • A large dessertspoonfull of tomato paste,
  • Crushed garlic,
  • Ground cumin, black pepper, chili powder, and turmeric.

12/5/2003 - Chilean Sea Bass with Yellow Rice

This was a joint venture meal, and consequently doesn't have any idea where in the world it came from. Terry had bought the fish when she was out shopping the day before, and she cooked it. I believe it is close to being listed as an endangered species, so I've usually avoided it. But since we already had it I figured I'd eat a piece before it became extinct. It looked a bit weird, but tasted great.

This meal takes 25-30 minutes. Before anything else, wash the rice until the water runs off clear, and drain it, then turn on the grill. Finely chop the onion, slice the mushrooms, and chop the pepper into half inch squares.

Add a cup and a half of water, and half a teaspoon of ground turmeric to the rice, and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the pot. When it boils, turn the heat right down, and jam a piece of kitchen roll under the lid to give a good seal. Then start a timer for ten minutes, and put the sea bass under the grill, seasoned with salt and pepper, skin side up.

Fry the onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil until soft - a little browning is OK. When they're close to cooked add a dessertspoon of ground cumin, half a teaspoon of ground black pepper, and a quarter teaspoon of ground chilli. Mix the spices in and fry a little longer. Now chop up the tomato, and add that and the tomato paste. Stir in boiling water to adjust the consistency to a thickish sauce. Add the green pepper and garlic, and salt to taste. Turn the heat down and leave the sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally.

When the first ten minutes expires, turn off the heat under the rice, turn over the sea bass, and start the timer again for another ten minutes. Bring the snow peas to the boil in a pot with a lid in just a little water. Put the lid on and turn the heat down. (The ones I cooked were overdone, look at the color, and don't overdo yours.)

After another five minutes, put the bacon strips over the fish, and continue to grill. When the second timer expires, put the mozzarella slices over the bacon, and continue to grill. Heat the plates, and serve each with a portion of rice, snow peas, and sauce, arranged as gaudily as you like - this is a very bright colored meal. Take the sea bass out from the grill, divide it in two pieces with a sharp knife so it doesn't disintegrate, and add to the plates.

Sea Fret

Sea Fret.

11/5/2003 - First and Last

So it's the first day of a new week, and designated by Terry as the last day we'll be acting as if we still had money. The sea-mist is still here, more noticeably today than yesterday. It has a somewhat dampening effect on ones spirits, and at times had a high enough droplet content to have the same effect on ones clothes.

The hog I was expecting in the mail never materialized. I don't know where we would have kept it if it had, and the cat would probably have objected. I did get coupons though, so when we got up, which wasn't early, I wondered up to Gristides to spend them on some more bacon, and got some other stuff we needed. Then I made the ritual bacon sandwich, and swilled it down with quantities of black coffee. We got into practice for the 'not spending money' thing by restricting our activities to watching TV, lovemaking, and filing our unemployment claims - the traditional resorts of the unemployed. Oh, and I also wrote the rent check, the labor of the day. The next one will be the trick.

Eventually we ventured out into our village. New York consists of a set of connected villages, some named, and some not. New Yorkers become distinctly attached to their patch. As an example of the village atmosphere, Terry went to buy a bottle of wine at our corner liquor store the other day. While she was there, she decided to buy a bottle of port as well, but didn't have enough money with her for both. The chinese guy who runs the store just said to drop the difference in next time she passed. Anyway, I'm digressing - the venture out was just to Blondies at 92nd Street. This is our local, but I like it least on Sunday. Normally when we go, they have one of the satelite music channels on for sound, but on Sunday you tend to get the sound channel from one of the games, complete with commercials. But it was pleasant enough.

In the evening we went to the Parlour at 86th and Broadway. I sang "The Time of our Lives" with Jaqueline, an Australian girl I've sung with before at O'Flannagans. That went reasonably well, but we could use more practise. El Tahra showed up with a man, who she then proceeded to ignore for the evening. I think he was a bit miffed.

The pub crawl

The pub crawl.

10/5/2003 - Reality Beckons

Terry's unemployment expires at the end of the month, and there's no way we'll get by on just mine. So, much as I love to spend the day blogging, something has to be done about paying the bills, and today I dusted off my resume. I don't suppose it's likely that anyone reading this would be interested, but for what it's worth, here it is. I also don't suppose that anyone in the job market will be interested - it's probably very much a buyers market at present. But I've been surprised before.

Today, the weather reminded me of seaside holidays in England as a child. As the afternoon progressed, a slight sea-fret set in, and a sneaky little breeze. It was just too cold for comfort in a short-sleeved T shirt. Also, it was the day of the "Upper East Side Spring Pub Tour". This euphemism has crept in since last year, when it was more traditionally described as a pub crawl. It's not a day to go in the pubs. You get your beer in a plastic cup, can't get a seat, and stick to the floor, and large drunk girls knock you over - not my idea of fun. So tonight we're defecting to the west side, to the Shark Bar, where we're hoping it's Romeo's treat - he just got paid this week.

The Shark Bar was busy, but at the same time uninteresting. Even Terry didn't get into much of a conversation. So we split and went back to Tracy J's, which was its usual self. Jason had a list of singers a mile long, so I got to sing one song at 2:00am. We met a girl called Maria, who had just lost her job, and was down in the dumps. It seems like everybody in NY is losing their job - welcome to the club Maria.

9/5/2003 - Eat drink, and be merry?

Eat drink and be merry, so it goes.
For tomorrow is uncertain,
we may not get the chance again.
How does this hold up in life today?

In Shakespeare's day a man might well.
Opportunity was likely scarce,
and daily labour was the common lot.
The fat he ate today would burn tomorrow.

The rich and powerful knew real gluttony.
But a thousand ailments now extinct
or trivial could cut them down.
Blame it on food and drink, not likely!

Now we know better, or we should.
Our hearts can not sustain high living,
having more time to take the damage.
Each bout of merrymaking takes its toll.


Yet the urge is still alive and well.
Food, fast or rich, lures us everywhere,
a distraction from the daily grind.
We politely disregard obesity, or try.

Lifestyle can sustain both body and soul.
The ascetic oriental traditions show
us ways to live in peace and health.
But merry hardly leaps to mind.

And so we try to double up our lives.
Wedging the daily labour in between
the tedium - treadmills all round.
So we still have leeway for the feast.

On hold

On hold.

8/5/2003 - Finally

I got it done, yeah! At first the day had a distinct deja vu feel. We turned up at the NYU Medical center at 6:30, and I took off my clothes and put on the snazzy robe, and sat and waited. The nurse came, and took my blood pressure, and it was through the roof, just like two weeks ago. Here we go again, I thought.

Fortunately, I was scheduled later than last time, so they adopted the simple expedient of leaving me to stew. This proved effective. There's nothing like boredom to combat anxiety, and sure enough, down it came. By the time I was due to go, it was more or less normal. Or at any rate the diastolic was, and that's what they're bothered about. After that, of course, I know nothing. I awoke three hours later still strapped to the various instruments, but those came off almost immediately, and before I knew where I was, I was up and out. Still somewhat nauseous, I had to find a bathroom on the way out to take a quick puke. But that fixed it, and since I'd had some water to drink it wasn't an unpleasant experience.

Having been out for the count all morning, I went for a nap for a couple of hours when we got back. Now I feel right as rain, and I can still breathe through my nose, so we're off round to Blondies. They don't want me to drink or have sex for 24 hours (How do they know you were going to?), but I'm very thirsty, so I'll just drink club soda, and drool over the beer.

Later, and suitably tanked up on club soda - which doesn't really cut it, I'm now hungry. Terry is cooking dinner, which by request is frankfurters, baked beans, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Not very haut-cuisine, but just what I fancy. She's having catfish rather than sausages.

I have two prescriptions, an antibiotic, and mega-strength Tylenol for pain. Since I don't have any pain, that will probably get a miss. The antibiotic sounds like a good idea though, since I guess the inside of my head is somewhat raw and prone to anything I breathe in.

The Guggenheim from the park

The Guggenheim from the park.

7/5/2003 - A Walk in the Park

It was beautiful earlier today, though clouding over now. So I decided not to be a mole for the whole day, and took a walk through Central Park to 85th Street. The park is five blocks up the hill to the west from where we live, so I don't have any excuse for not going there regularly. I must get the tires (tyres) on my bike fixed, and get a chain or cable lock for it, then I could do a circuit or two regularly.

Everything is in full leaf now, though the weather over the last few days has been quite cool. The leaves, being new, are very green and bright. It was an enjoyable sight.

I thought I'd timed it so Terry would just about have finished at her appointment with the tax accountant. As it turned out, she hadn't even got in there when I got to 85th, and was sitting outside Panorama waiting for the late person before her to get through. Surprise, surprise! I left her going in, and walked back to wash the pots.

We got a new bathroom washbasin today, the 'painters' having broken the corner off the existing one, which was itself actually quite new. André, the plumber who looks after our building arrived with it at about 12:30, thus frustrating my scheme to waylay Terry before she went out to do her errands. Ah well, you can't win em all! Apparently we're to get a new cooker on Friday too. The oven has conked out on the one we have now, and the management have deemed it not worth repairing. I'll be fascinated to see what's down the sides and underneath it.

Smoking outside

Smoking outside.

6/5/2003 - A New Venue for Liaisons

As has been pointed out in the press, the new smoking laws have provided a new opportunity for people to form liaisons. Terry pointed out to me yesterday that another common venue for this activity is the subway, as in "Subway Affairs". Both of these venues have potential. In the smokers case, it's easy to keep an eye on somebody you fancy, then decide to go out for a smoke at the same time. Also because people's craving isn't synchronized, it's easy to cut out for a smoke without being accompanied by your significant other. Of course it works the opposite way round to some extent too. The non-smokers left inside also get time out.

The subway provides the same sort of opportunity for time out, since you and your SO probably don't work in the same place, and travel at different times. The initial meeting in the subway context is triggered by the fact that most passengers are creatures of habit. They stand at the same place on the platform, at the same time, every day. The packing density of the rush-hour trains also enforces a degree of intimacy. Et voilla! Human nature does the rest.

Romeo came for dinner, which disposed of the rest of the dreaded ham. Actually I think both Terry and I quite enjoyed it, even though it did feature rather prominently. Romeo certainly did; he only had to eat it once. Later we went to O'Flannagans where I succeeded in getting the first verse of "Lay Down Sally" more or less right. Tomorrow night I have to be good, and have a low-alcohol, low-salt, and low-coffee evening. I would prefer not to be sent home again when I go for the second try at the surgery on Thursday.

Terry promised to give up smoking when I'd had the surgery, to maximize the chances of the results sticking. Frankly I'm skeptical, and will believe it when I see it.

The athlete returns from therapy

The athlete returns from therapy.

5/5/2003 - Medical and Other Timewasting

On Sunday, we had an offer of a free high-roller suite at some casino in Atlantic City for two nights, with complimentary meals. Not that I'm a gambler. It hurts me too much when I lose money, which I inevitably do. But the bus to Atlantic City is cheap, and I'm told they return your fare to you in quarters when you arrive, so we would have gone. Unfortunately, both Terry and I had medical appointments the next day that we didn't think we should bump. That's life!

My start to the day at 7:30 was an attempt to move the car - which is now back living on the street, waiting to be repossesed - to the other side. Brits please note the NYC has alternate side parking most weekdays to allow the streets to be cleaned. If you forget and leave it on the wrong side, it costs you $55. This proved impossible. The other side was completely full for several blocks around, and nobody seemed inclined to move. So in the end, I ran in to the apartment for a book, and read or listened to music until 10:30, which is close enough to the end of the prohibited period (8:00 - 11:00) to park back on the empty side. You have to time this well. If you're five minutes too late, the whole side has filled up again. I don't suppose you can classify it as a complete waste of time, it paid at $18/hour since I avoided a ticket.

Then it was time to go to my GP to check if the calcium blocker medication he'd given me had produced the required effect on my blood presure, so I got myself a new Metrocard and trolled down to 30th Street. Blood pressure 140/90, just the same as last week. He asked if I'd had any side effects - the man has a sense of humor! So I was then sent off with a prescription for a diuretic to make me pee and get rid of some water from my system before the next attempt at the sinus surgery on Thursday. I got that. One a day, and I was to take one immediately, which I did. Result, I pee'd just about as much as I'd usually pee.

Terry's first apointment was with the surgeon who cut out her tumor, at 9:00am. So she got the bus down to 18th Street, where we've been every time before, only to be told that she had been supposed to go to another office, at NYU. They hadn't thought to mention this when they gave her the appointment. When she'd eventually got there and out again, she was in the right place for her physiotherapy, but three hours earlier, so later she made the round trip again.

  • Ham - see note,
  • Some leftover vegetables (I used baby carrots,
    cauliflower, and zuchini),
  • Half an onion,
  • A few baby-bella mushrooms,
  • A few pieces of sundried tomato,
  • 1 pint of milk,
  • 1/4 pound of grated sharp cheddar,
  • Riccotta cheese,
  • Crushed garlic,
  • Corn starch,
  • Grated parmesan cheese.

Ham & penne alfredo

Ham & penne alfredo.

4/5/2003 - Ham and Penne Alfredo

This concoction was provoked by the fact that I found a butt-end ham joint at our local supermarket for about six dollars. It was a choice between that and a pack of chicken breasts at about the same price. So I got the ham with a view to doing two meals with it and having ham for breakfast. This will probably exhaust my ham tolerance, but I couldn't resist the bargain.

The thing to remember about these cheap ham joints is that they are a "ham and water product". That is they've had water forced into them at high pressure to make them feel heavier and less dry. For some recipes you need to take this into account.

I cut an inch and a quarter thick slice from the wide end of the ham, removed the fat, skin etc, then cut the slice into chunks about the size of the thickness. If you have time, do this early, and leave them to soak in plenty of cold water. This can somewhat reduce the saltiness of the ham. When you're ready to cook, drain it and dry it off. Then fry it gently in just a little olive oil. The object of the exercise here initially is to get rid of the water. Pour off excess water as it emerges from the ham, and cook like this until the ham is dry, and actually starts to fry. Add a little more oil at this point, and turn the heat down. The ham joint is already cooked, so all you need to do is make sure it's hot, and cooked as much as you like.

Get everything else ready to go while dehydrating the ham, including bringing the milk almost to the boil, and adding a couple of pats of butter. Chop up and fry the onion, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes so they're cooked, but the onion isn't browned. Bring water to a boil for the pasta, and heat a little water in the bottom of a pot with a lid to steam the vegetables. Wait now until the ham is dried out, turning the heat off under the milk and pots of water if necessary. Then you're about 12 minutes away from serving.

Throw the slowest cooking vegetable (the carrots in my case) into the steamer and put a lid on it, and put the pasta in its boiling water. Start a timer for 12 minutes for the pasta. Mix a large desert spoon of corn starch with cold water in a cup, and stir until smooth. Bring the milk just back to the boil, then stir in 3/4 of the starch mix, and stir to give some thickness to the sauce - not too thick. Add the rest of the starch and stir more if you don't think it's thick enough. Now over a very low heat, fold the grated cheddar into the milk, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Remember lightly, since ham is salty. Let it come back to the simmer, throw the rest of the vegetables into the steamer, and stir the pasta.

Stir the onions and mushrooms into the sauce. Stir the pasta. Now using a teaspoon, drop blobs of ricotta cheese into the sauce, as many as you like depending how cheesy you like things. Keep them separate, and don't stir them much if at all. The object is to have a sauce with variable consistency. Turn the heat right down under the sauce, and put a lid over it. Now add the crushed garlic to the ham, and stir fry it quickly over a higher heat to cook the garlic. Then sprinkle the ham with grated parmesan.

Arrange the plates with half vegetables, 1/4 ham, and 1/4 pasta, and ladle some sauce on top. Bon appetite!

It was Yvette's birthday

It was Yvette's birthday.

3/5/2003 - Sucked in

Every so often I'll discover some piece of software I can't resist messing with. Today was a case in point. I've been thinking about creating an address manager program that could be used with my label software for doing mailings, and was dabbling with this when I discovered another "TL" library. TL stands for Template Library, and there are a number of these around. There's the STL that is part of the C++ language standard, and the ATL, which is a Microsoft library for creating COM components and servers, both of which I've used frequently. Today I made the somewhat belated discovery that Microsoft has also produced the WTL, the Windows Template Library, for creating Windows GUI applications. Traditionally, this has either been done the hard way, using the Win32 SDK, or using another Microsoft library called MFC, which I never liked.

I downloaded WTL 7.0 from Microsoft, and after looking at a few examples on the web, I had the basis of a simple list view application for addresses up and running in no time. WTL has a cute wizard that builds you the framework of a Windows application just like that. In no time; there's the rub of course. By then it was about 4:30. I'd blown the day away, and Terry was feeling neglected; he fate of the dabbler!

In the evening we went to Coogans again. Well actually I went straight to Coogans, and Terry arrived there a bit later after a detour to visit Boi. It was fairly quiet to start with, so I tried a couple of new songs, Claptons "Lay down Sally", and Carol King's "It's too late". Both of these went reasonably well for a first time, and the former will I think become a favorite of mine. I just have to get the knack of starting the first verse correctly.

I got a few pictures. The one opposite won because it was Yvette's birthday, and she sang nicely.

April showers in May

April showers in May in our 'hood (outside Blondies).

2/5/2003 - An Awaited Visit

Earlier today it managed to be a beautiful spring day. Terry went to physiotherapy in the morning, while I worked on the software, and went to the bank. We met up at Panorama for a snack and a beer. But the weather really still hasn't decided. Later, we had showers, and they looked more like April showers to me than spring thunderstorms. However, we had a promised visitation. Sandra got pissed off with the handyman who's been working on her house, and decided it was time for a break, so she came over from New Jersey at about five.

Now Sandra and I have had our differences, including the customary anger at me leaving Terry and going off with Diana. She and Terry go back a long way. At the moment we seem to be on pretty good speaking terms, though I have the feeling this is something that a small infraction on my part could easily break. I still haven't got permission to use a photo. Perhaps she's in a witness protection program because of some horrendous past, but more likely it's just a self perception thing. Either way she has to remain a mystery for now.

I believe Terry and she used to be lovers. Certainly, Sandra still loves Terry. (Can I say that? I guess so, because it's an opinion, so probably reasonably protected by the first amendment.) Anyway, Terry took it upon herself to cook the evening meal for the three of us, so she hasn't forgotten either. As a result, I'm sitting here at 8:45pm getting edgy. I don't do well unless I get fed in the evening, but Terry's cooking processes are totally without the concept of timing, so I daren't ask when dinner might be ready. I should talk. What do I say when someone asks me when a piece of software will be ready? When it's finished, right!

It's ready now. I'm going to eat.

Jamie talking with hands

Jamie talking with hands.

1/5/2003 - Another month

A quiet day. I'm working on some wizard dialogs to try and make the label software more accessible to non-specialist users, so most of the day went on that. I also had to go down to R2K to change some details of my COBRA payment. (UK readers: If you lose your job, you are entitled to pay for your own health care within the scheme provided by the company that let you go, for up to 18 months. This is called COBRA. Of course, if you don't have the money, it's just tough shit.) Terry is going to keep her existing health insurance to go with her existing condition, and I'm just going to pay for me on the R2K COBRA. I also have to pay for my ex-wife Lynn under the terms of our divorce settlement. Hopefully the employment fairy will visit me soon, or better still, the Lottery fairy.

In the evening we ate leftovers, and later we went down to Tracy J's, which I'm pleased to report is now smoke free. For some reason I was on good form, and received lots of compliments, including one from the Tracy that the bar is named for. Since she works behind the bar, and hears karaoke three nights a week, whether she needs it or not, I was quite gobstruck!

I discovered in passing that the new guy who is doing the karaoke there (sorry, I forgot your name) didn't know how to change the pitch of the songs. Once I'd showed him, it became much easier to sing some of the songs that for some reason seemed very difficult last week.

Jamie was on good form, complaining about the smoking ban, and generally displaying nicotine withdrawal symptoms behind the bar. She talks with her hands, and I tried to capture the effect without too much success. She's a sweetie, Terry and I both like her.
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