Wednesday, February 28, 2007
a hale & hearty birthday

Matt, Sam, Ben, Bob, Bobbo, and I took Lerman to Hale & Hearty today to celebrate both (a) the end of the "Mac and Cheese and Beef Soup" February Monthly Special; and (b) Dave's 25th birthday. The birthday boy was in good spirits and we all enjoyed our disease-inducing pseudo-soup. Who doesn't love an event.

Clear eyes, clogged arteries, can't lose.

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things i learned in college

I learned many things in college. At the end of my freshman year, my adviser, a kind but rather serious woman sent a blanket email to her 15 or so advisees, asking us to share any advice that we might have for her incoming class of 15 new advisees in the fall. This is what I actually sent her:

Dr. Burnham,
Per your request, here are some of the most valuable things I have learned throughout my first year in college:
1. There is no Mama John.
2. If you try to microwave rice in its original container for more than 26 seconds, it will emit smoke on the 18th second and cause a small fire on the 27th second.
3. Playing with the fire extinguisher may look like fun but in the end your hallway will look like a giant chalkboard.
4. If you sit on the top of the school-issued wooden chairs long enough, the wood will start to rip apart until eventually you fall out of your chair one day in a Saturday Night Live-esque moment.
5. You will always buy too much milk.
6. Do not try to be tongue-in-cheek because no one will get it.

Best to your new students,

It should come as no surprise here that I did not date much as a freshman.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007
don't copy that floppy

From the Where Are They Now pile, a "Don't Copy That Floppy" PSA from the early 90's.

Source: Google Video via Motion Abbey

No Carmen San Diego
No Oregon Trail
Tetris and the other
They're all gonna fail
Not because you won it
But because you're just takin' it
Disrespectin' all the folks that are makin' it

Wow, there are so many things that I love here. The inspired PC-friendly casting... The utterly ludicrous lyrics... The mullet-jockey programmers who show up three minutes in... The rapper wearing his button down with the top button buttoned like he's Parker Lewis... Top notch all the way.

My favorite thing, though is the takeaway message. I was about the same age as the kids featured in this video when this was made and I'm fairly confident that very few of my friends had any idea how to copy an installed game from a hard drive to a floppy, let alone do it at school. Had we seen this during the weekly Go-to-the-Library-and-watch-poorly-made-PSAs-hour that we called Health class, however, it probably would have just inspired more kids to steal software ("they can't stop people from copying, it's too easy"). No wonder it was my generation that brought us Napster. While some software manufacturers were no doubt hurt by the ease of copying in the nascent era of floppy-based gaming, copying ran rampant and all it did was serve to grow a fledging industry and raise legions of kids who, now in their 30's, are still gaming and paying for it.

But man does that rapper bring some energy. Think he does bar mitzvahs? I have an event this Friday, maybe I can get him to wear the button up and the 8 ball jacket, too.

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dave lerman: our pillow paparazzo

Source: Rocketboom

Holy media whore, Batman! Rocketboom's video of the pillow fight features none other than our own i-banker-cum-gothamist-photog-whore Dave Lerman. Eat your heart out, Amanda Congdon.

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Monday, February 26, 2007
so much for having a good eye

Took my parents to the Armory Show this weekend and saw several great artists whose work I'm completely unfamiliar with. My parents loved a Korean painter who, we were told, "spends 17 hours a day on his works and approaches painting like meditation." They were drawn to a piece that I guess can be called a hyper-realism still life of a stack of books. I'm doing a lousy job of describing the work, but it's a stunning piece of exquisite detail.

Over at another gallery's space, I was drawn to a piece that was made up of elaborate line drawings, sketched with graphite on looseleaf and small paper scraps. Put together, the collage looked like a beautifully detailed comic book montage. I asked about the artist, Zak Smith, took the gallery director's card, and felt very good about myself for educating myself on a talented new artist. Then I got home and learned that Zak Smith is actually a Cooper Union and Yale-educated artist and porn star. His piece at The Armory Show was not particularly erotic, but I find this whole thing pretty entertaining. Ambitious (and clean) as the pieces were, I'm not expecting to purchase any of his art anytime soon.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007
feathers of love

Source: Dave Lerman.

Today I learned that few things are more fun on a Saturday afternoon than a massive, 1,000 person pillow fight. I was interviewed with Bob by a French TV show (I'm horrified about what might come of that), made friends with a bumblebee, and hit hundreds of people over the head with my 499 pieces of down cotton awesomeness. The center of the pillowfight felt more like the middle of a rugby scrum than it did some kind of ironic hipster joke; it was so packed that I could barely raise my arms over my head to strike one of my meticulously practiced pillow knockout blows. Perhaps I was too eager for the catharsis...

All was well and amusing as the 4 of us started to leave after our hour or so of pillow fighting. Then, walking back along 14th street, some crazed middle-aged woman began yelling at us and telling us that the feathers we were releasing into the air was producing "enough dust to cause air conditioner clogging for 3 weeks." She then started yelling at us calling us everything from irresponsible to racist - with no basis for any of this - gradually raising her voice to the point of shouting at the end of her bizarre diatribe. The outcome of this is that going forward, anytime any of my friends does something stupid, I'm going to say that you've now clogged my air conditioner for 3 weeks. There's potential here.

That being said, it was really fun. It felt like there were as many photographers as there were pillow fighters, and we thought that everyone seemed to have a great time. Lots of Dave's pics are below, plus the full show on Dave's photoblog.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007
skip lines, piss off crowds

Source: via Thrillist.

I just read about a company called Clear that, through a special partnership with the TSA, allows air travelers to register with them to bypass check-in lines at airports. As a Clear member, you pay $99 a year to have the right to go straight to a special Clear members-only check-in station at the airport, where your bags are scanned immediately and you can proceed straight through to the gate with no hour long waits to clear security.

Clear members are pre-screened before being able to join and provided with a biometric card, which is either a fancy way of saying "card" or it means that they employ some kind of fingerprint system, I'm not sure which. Regardless, this is an intriguing program to me. Post-9/11 air travel ranges from mediocre to impossibly horrible. In light of the hundreds of cancelled flights over Presidents' Day weekend, JetBlue created a customer Bill of Rights and issued an apology letter from their CEO, which they emailed to all of their customers and posted on their website.

Considering that air travel does not appear to be getting any easier anytime soon, I think Clear sounds like a fantastic idea. At $100 a year, Clear is a relatively low-cost way to improve the hassles and expense of airport bureaucracy. Business travelers lose thousands of hours of productivity waiting in lines at airports. The ability to skip through those lines would seem to greatly improve that.

One thing that's unclear about Clear is how effective it will be. Currently, they're in just one terminal at JFK, as well as Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Newark. The promise is that more are on the way, but I'm not sure how long that will take and I certainly wouldn't join until at the very least they're in an entire airport in NYC and not just one terminal. I'm not sure how many members they currently have, but presumably their membership is still pretty low. I also wonder what they are paying to the TSA and their employees to stay in business.

Then there's the civil liberties question. Say that Clear works as it should and costs what they're selling it for currently. What rights will we be giving up to take advantage of something like this? All Clear members have to provide fingerprints and pass background checks. Does the "biometric card" that Clear provides its members allow the government to track people? What else is Clear doing with their members' data?

I'll be interested to follow this one over the next few months/years. It could take awhile for this to catch on, and there's the possiblity that there will be backlash similar to the way Russians have reacted to the rent-a-motorcade service that allows the wealthy to steer clear of traffic there. We'll see what happens.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Baby Tyrwhitt: Now with irony

Is it mean to use a baby for irony broadcasting? Because it'd be totally funny to put "now 30% off" on the back of this shirt.

Link: Baby Tyrwhitt PE T-shirt


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By Blogger blake, at Wednesday, February 21, 2007 6:28:00 PM  

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Come Fly With Us, Martin Tupper

Today I learned that Delta has partnered with HBO to offer unedited HBO original programming on Delta flights. I'd have much preferred to learn that Delta has found a way to make waiting in airports not suck, but I'll take what I can get.


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Saturday, February 17, 2007
A Reason to Start Liking the Knicks


David Lee, the stellar sophomore who's currently the only likable player on the Knicks, scored 30 points on 14-14 shooting and won the MVP of the NBA Future Stars game tonight at All Star Weekend. I've written already that I don't enjoy watching the Knicks anymore, but if the Knicks can just get rid of the entire starting lineup, Isiah Thomas, and probably Jim Dolan, there might be hope yet. Plus, once the whole roster is gone, the Knicks will have the cap room to pursue LeBron.

On another note, I'm watching the McDonald's Celebrity All-Star game right now. Following a Jim Gray softball interview with Barry Bonds, Tom Tolbert went off in no particular direction about the impact of Barry Bonds' hitting 756. That's three minutes of my life that I can never get back.

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When is Everything Free?

TechCrunch is reporting that, has been shut down at least temporarily. AllFreeCalls is a service that takes advantage of a bizarre loophole in the telephony laws that provides a kickback to local telecos for routing long distance calls through their circuits. Currently, Iowa is the only state that allows local carriers to take advantage of such a law. AllFreeCalls has been in operation since mid-January, and it looks like they met get buried in enough lawsuits to put them out of business, but their very existence raises what I think is an interesting question about how we look at internet services.

It's well known that the Sean Fanning-era Napster was not the first or the last way to get music for free online, but its popularity was so great that it triggered a behavioral shift in the music industry that was further legitimized by the launch of iTunes a few years later. YouTube did the same for video that Scour Exchange and its predecessors started. With services like Skype and AllFreeCalls out there, I wonder if we'll reach a point where we expect all calls to be free as well.

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Drink Liquor, Capture Shark

CANBERRA - A fisherman fueled by vodka caught a 4-foot shark and wrestled it onto a jetty on Australia's south coast, suffering only small tear marks in his trousers, media reports said on Friday. ...

"It's not something I'd recommend to do," he said. "When I sobered up I thought about it and I said, 'I'm a bit of an idiot doing it'."

Link (Reuters via MSNBC)


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Thursday, February 15, 2007
Can Kevin Mitchell Come, Too?

I'd like to have 1989 Will Clark walking around with me everywhere I went to give me advice and drive in the runner from second. I'd walk around the streets in normal clothes, but Will would always be in his uniform with his spikes and eye black on. He seems like he would give good advice.

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Catfighting Season Begins Today

The Barney's warehouse sale begins today. If you've never been before, I will paint the picture for you.

For men, it's a nice way to get shirts at half price and maybe even find a suit at a nice discount.

For women, it's sort of like a convention of local militias agreeing to meet on neutral ground, then breaking out into an elbow-nudging turf war to gain control of the Manolos. It's like regular war, only with five inch heels and black instead of camo. Because black is the new black.


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Baby Likes It Cheap

Last night I went to a Valentine's Day Chocolate Appreciation class at the Institute of Culinary Education on West 23rd St. It was taught by a culinary historian and chocolate expert who was a lot of fun. I learned that chocolate was refined first for consumption in beverages as a female-friendly beverage. The coffee and tea that dominated Europe in the 19th century, it was thought, were too harsh for the genteel female. I believe that drinkable chocolate's rise in popularity was also involved in the creation of the modern tea kettle, but I might have gotten mixed up by that point. There were a lot of slides.

I also learned that in the early 1900's as doctors began to understand a bit about nutrition, it was thought that all calories were created equal and that one calorie of chocolate was akin to one calorie of a fruit or vegetable. This led Hershey's to promote chocolate, with its high caloric content, as "a meal in itself." Men also wore bowler hats during that era, but I did not learn about bowler hats last night.

Then I ate about an entire box of chocolates. Mostly we were served dark chocolates, presented on attractive plates and paired with dessert wines that tasted like a cross between vinegar and ass. Dark chocolate is considered the more sophisticated cocoa product, so I guess it's no surprise that I didn't really enjoy it. Milk chocolate, the cheapo stuff that I grew up on (give me a bag of M&M's and I'm happy), is considered less "pure" and far less impressive among the chocophile set. My professor described most of these chocolates as "the type of thing that if it were a person you met at a party, you'd say that person is 'nice,' but someone I want to take home with me." Jacques Torres, home of perhaps the best chocolate I've ever had in my life, was also roundly dissed.

Promiscuity or intentions of my professor notwithstanding, my girlfriend and I both preferred the sweeter milk chocolate that "tastes like crappy kids' stuff," as one of the chocolate snobs in my class said. Regardless of our lack of sophistication in the chocolate world, it was a great time and I learned a lot about chocolate. And now that I've discovered the relative cheapness of my palette's sweet tooth, I'm not eating any chocolate for a month. Or at least a few hours.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Movie Quote. Ha! Another Movie Quote!

Apparently Larry King's quotes have been used to promote so many movies that this has merited its own feature piece in the LA Times. Calling him "King Blurb," the Times pokes at the old man's seeming love of just about everything, from You, Me & Dupree to De-Lovely to "a film about Turkish genocide called "Screamers" ("Very well done!")."

There's a particularly entertaining piece on King's perceived adoration of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which he called "Finally, a Movie Worth Seeing Over and Over!" When asked for comment, King replied "I told the CNN person to tell the studio, 'I didn't understand the damn movie at all. I'd have to see it over and over again to figure out what happened.' And then they went and used it!"

King of the Blurbs (LA Times via Salon)


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By Blogger blake, at Wednesday, February 14, 2007 12:51:00 AM  

post #2

By Blogger blake, at Wednesday, February 14, 2007 12:56:00 AM  

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Better than anything he ever said to Winnie Cooper

The Wizard
I believe that everyone should have a favorite Fred Savage line. Mine is "you said no new games!" from The Wizard.

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Mine isn't so much a quote, as it was simply the time in "The Wonder Years" when FredSav made out with a hot, gum-chewing blonde who was supposed to be dating his brother, and when they finished kissing her gum was in his mouth.

For a young teenage boy, that's pretty much the 2nd awesomest thing that could happen, short of watching the debut of Super Mario Bros 3 in a major motion picture.

By Blogger David, at Monday, February 26, 2007 1:13:00 AM  

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My favorite Van Peebles is Martin.


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Anyone out there seen 1998?

Considering how much media content I take in from external sources daily, I decided to start a new blog a few weeks ago. I never thought it would be such a pain to get going. It's been at least 5 years since I've written anything more than the most basic of code, but this would have taken me 3 hours when I was 16. It took two weeks, and I'm not even working off an original design. At least I can work off of this now.

While the spirit of this blog is to write about things that I've learned, here's a list of things that I used to know and at which I'm now more or less a complete incompetent:

Rollerblading. I played inline hockey for six years, then I grew six inches and can now barely stand on skates. If I went to a rink, I'd probably look like Clyde Drexler in Pros vs. Joes.

Drinking 48 ounces of a cold beverage in less than 3 minutes. Actually, I don't think I could ever do this.

Watching the Knicks. Also "Rooting for the Knicks."


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Sunday, February 04, 2007
I still love Becky's

Went to Becky's w/AJ tonight and had a blast. Highlights include beating Arielle at darts, a cameo by SRosen, and Amber the waitress buying me a shot of Jager.


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Friday, February 02, 2007
Lily Allen will Control the Universe

so i'm listening to lily allen's "smile," which hasn't quite hit here yet but i'm a robbie williams fan so there goes my hipster cred. first of all, any girl who performs in a ball gown is alright by me, but particularly when said ball gown rocker throws a sugary vocal on top of a video that screams sado-pop. she's cute without being overly beautiful, but keenly aware of her cleverness. and that accent is just absurd. like it's so euro that even noel gallagher would think she was hamming it up.


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Thursday, February 01, 2007
The MTA is inefficient

Every morning, I take the 6 train from Union Square to 51st St and get off on the north end of the platform at the Citicorp exit at 53rd and Lex. It's always packed, and takes way longer to physically get out of the station than it rightfully should. Until December, the most efficient way to get out of the station itself was to ignore walking back through the turnstiles, and exit from the large and accessible emergency exit/handicap access door to the left of them. Then in December, the MTA put up an alarm on the door and told passengers that we could not exit using the door unless it really is an emergency. I even saw a cop placed at the exit door during morning rush hour that first week. Now it takes twice as long to exit the subway every morning. I know that this was probably done to deter fare-beating, but I question how much of a problem that really was and to what extent we'd be willing to put up with it a bit in order to make the lives slightly easier for the thousands of law-abiding commuters every day who have to stand around in the morning while trying to exit at 53rd and Lex.

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My New HelloWorld

I like learning things. I like learning about art, culture, sports, and politics. I like learning about what happens when you mix Diet Coke and Mentos. I like learning about Britney's latest flameup, Beckham's latest haircut, and how to make little origami gift boxes out a piece of 8.5x11. I don't want to be an Air Force Ranger, but I'd like to read about those who are.

This is my blog to write about the things that I've learned. I had an old blog, but this is my new one. This is going to be fun.


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about me

I'm Blake. I like to learn stuff.

I like to learn about history, art, culture, sports, and politics. I like learning about what happens when you mix Diet Coke and Mentos. I like learning about Britney's latest flameup, Beckham's newest haircut, and how to make little origami gift boxes out a piece of 8.5x11.

I started this blog for me to have a place to write about the things that I've learned. I hope that you enjoy reading.

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I am a partner in The Rock Club, the NYC area's premier rock climbing gym. NYC kiddies - we're double the size of Chelsea Piers and way more fun. Programs and instruction for all skills and levels. Tell them Blake sent you and get a free carabineer. If you buy a membership, I will buy you a cupcake.

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