Sunday, June 26, 2005

Which makes me think of this cool thing

I feel you on the ice cream cone. How can you go wrong with something that is sweet, cool and served in a container (cone) that you can eat. More things should come in edible but not sticky packaging.

Speaking of icy refreshments, here's a drink that sounded good:

Prepare Lipton Ice Tea (made from tea bags, not the powder)
Add a scoop or two of lemon or raspberry sorbet.
Serve in a glass.
Hold bridge of nose during sorbet headache.

Blend for consistency. Or just pound it and enjoy the lumpiness.

I haven't tried it yet but it sounded like the right thing to do.

'Delicious' is a problematic word

Is there anything better than an ice cream cone in summer? It's like concentrated climate change in your hand.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

And Car Alarms too

While we're on the subject of things that are dumb, I'd like to give a shout-out to car alarms. I think they came into fashion in the eighties as a way of alerting you that your car was being tampered with and/or jacked. The logic of an alarm is a hard one to argue with unless you feel like me - awakened by beeps, whoops and loud warbles, at strange hours.

A lot of people in my neighborhood have car alarms. Predominantly put into use by the owners of hummers, explorers, and cars far too fancy or big for their users, these alarms ring consistently throughout the night. I know what you're thinking. I must live in a high-crime area where no car is safe and no thief too humble to steal giant cars. That is not the case. In fact, I live in a low-crime area where alarms defend these giant cars from people walking too close and trucks rumbling past.

I think I'd have less beef with alarms if I felt like their owners answered their call more quickly. I would bet that in most cases, one's car owner won't recognize one's car alarm. And so they ring on into the evening, whoop whooping at just enough of a ridiculous pitch to raise the whole neighborhood - alerting the community that someone has just leaned against someone else's shiny and grotesque trumvee (the hummers with the flatbed in back - I think they have a different but equally absurd name. While we're on the subject, isn't hummer a colloquial term for oral sex? Is there a connection? Does anyone else laugh when Governor Schwarzenegger says his family only buys hummers? No? That's cool.)

The solution? How about alarms that ring or flash solely in the owner's apartment or on their person? In a world where people don't seem to care too too much about how other people in the neighborhood sleep, the first person alerted should always be the owner. When I grew up on the Lower East Side, my parents would often have to call the cops to get a car alarm turned off. Don't get me wrong. When that car got towed away or had its window broken to solve its alarm problem, I found it greatly amusing. But still, I think we could have used the sleep. We were often very cranky and needed more rest.

Get a club. Get a kill switch. Be more dilligent about turning off your alarm or better yet, never using it. Most car thieves - who routinely impress with their knowledge of circumventing security measures (they used to get around the old club by freezing the lock with liquid nitrogen and smashing it. That's neat. ) - will not be dissuaded by an alarm. And if you're using an alarm to scare a thief like the ones who have chiseled out my lock and broken my window and rifled through my scratched up mix cds, well, those thieves move way too quick to care if something loud is whooping around them. Give some respect to those jackers and your neighborhood and trade in the hummer (haw!) for an alarm-less station wagon from the late nineties.

We'll all sleep better.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Next stop: Robot Domination

Without knowing many of the facts and assuming the worst whenever possible, I'd like to go on record as saying that automating the L train is not indicative of good city planning.

Not that conductors are the most forthcoming people in the world but in my youth, I took great comfort in the presence of three adults on any given train. In an emergency, you knew that someone would give you some kind of straight answer if pressed. Hearing the robots on the current L say 'Ladies and Gentleman, we apologize for the delay,' is pretty much all you're going to get in most situations. I like a little more info and human feeling with my claustrophobia. But that's just me.

The L train is already one of the best trains in the city. Maybe the best. Even with the delays and the disruptions (results of the preparation for automation, no? Don't look it up. Just assume.), it is leaps and bounds better than a train like the G and generally runs much more often than an inconsistently scheduled line like the N/R/W/Q. The Never/Rarely/Whenever/(un)Quickly line.

Ignoring the fact that robots should never control large groups of people moving very quickly through narrow tunnels, it seems like a curious expense when there are other, more glaring MTA problems in need of dough. Again, I'm picking on the G train. Sure, during rush hour it seems like it's a regular train line (a tinier one). But holy fuck is that a bad train late at night. One might argue that people don't take it late at night so screw the people who do but one might counter-argue that fixing up the G would bring people back to the fold. Were people ever in its fold? Probably not. But I know a lot of people blowing cash on taxis every night who might appreciate a better scheduled, better smelling, slightly shinier G. And if you don't want to do it for the gentrifiers, stop punishing the people who travel only between Queens and Brooklyn. Just because it doesn't go through Union Square doesn't mean it must always exist in a state of disrepair. Yes, that rhymed. And yes, you can put that on your large, wordy protest sign.

First problem to solve: Any train problem. Make all the trains awesomer. Sure, most of them are good and come fairly often but if I have to wait twenty minutes for a stupid N train and then see like four pass right in a row, I'll... I'll... read more of my book and sigh even louder! Same goes for most buses. Four double buses showing up at my stop at the same time do not soothe the hurt of a long wait.

But Cas, if you get on the N train, how do you know four come all at once right after that? Good question. Never ask it again.

Next problem: The L.I.E is terrible. Make the L.I.E much better. Make it so less people fly into a stroke-inducing rage when confronting the wads of mysterious construction-related traffic. At least build a sign that tells the people in traffic that the construction causing it is for a specific reason. I mean, don't just say that. Tell the reason. I need to know why I am pounding the ceiling of my station-wagon in the parking lot that is the L.I.E most days. I used to work on Long Island and commute there every day. I also used to have a problem with blood pouring out of my ears. Right after the former changed, the latter cleared up.

I'm pretty sure the MTA doesn't control the L.I.E but I think helping them achieve this goal with some of the money allocated to robots would be a better investment towards a more mentally healthy NYC.

Last problem (tie): Homelessness. Hunger. Pollution. Poverty. Expensive Knicks tickets. Crime. Anything where money will help people directly. Seriously, how are we spending anything on building better robots when fundamental problems exist in the city's infrastructure? I know these are all different extensions of the city's budget and that bureaucracy makes it tricky to take money from one end and move it to the other. But robots?!? Would any L rider choose this over solving ANY OTHER PROBLEM in New York? I mean, is the lack of robots in the subway a major problem?

When all these problems are solved, I'll be the first one to shake that robot conductor's cold, steel hand and ask that they spare my loved ones when they take over.