Saturday, March 29, 2003

A day with Steve in Manhattan

Rants isn't really the right category for this, but I don't think an appropriate category exists...

My flight back home has been delayed until Tuesday night, so I get to spend the weekend in New York. I decided to head back to Manhattan so I could check it out in the daylight. Nighttime was cool, but I didn't have a lot of time there before, and there were a number of attractions that I still wanted to check out. Come live vicariously with me as I recount my experiences.

My hotel is in Long Island, which is about a half hour drive from Manhattan, so instead of driving and having to deal with both traffic on the way there and parking when I got there, I opted to take the Long Island Rail Road. I got stuck sitting with two old Jewish ladies who rambled on and on about basically nothing. I took note of a portion of their conversation regarding why one of the ladies had so much junk in her purse. I happened to think she carried too much as well. Forty-five minutes and $9.50 later, I arrived at Penn Station in central Manhattan.

Right above Penn Station is Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that when I was leaving the station, so I didn't even check it out. The first place I checked out was two blocks east: the Empire State Building. It costs $10 to get to the observation deck on the 86th floor. At around 1000 feet high, you can certainly see a lot; the view was absolutely incredible. You can see everything from the Statue of Liberty (although it’s very small from that distance) to the Chrysler building to the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges crossing the East River. The view helped me plan what I was going to do; I decided to walk south. Heading down 5th and 6th Avenues, I passed the Flatiron Building (that's the triangle-shaped one that is often featured in pictures), and continued through the mess of construction and traffic that is Soho and Tribeca.

The aim of this journey south was to see Ground Zero, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. I didn’t think it was so far away, but walking 60 blocks is a good way to put distance in perspective. It is so crowded with people and traffic down there, that even without all the workers in those office buildings, I cannot imagine the chaos that ensued when all that crazy shit went down. I got some pictures of the big gaping hole that is currently there, and read some placards at the site commemorating the people who died during the attack. At Ground Zero, I met a nice couple from Denver, Colorado who gave me a map of Manhattan that I put to very good use.

Proceeding around the southern tip of the island, I walked through Battery Park and saw where the ferries for Liberty and Ellis Islands were docked. It was starting to drizzle, so I decided not to go across to the Statue of Liberty. I took a picture from the shore, but I’m pretty sure it was too far away to turn out very well.

I was as far south as I was going to get, so I turned back up north. I walked past Wall Street in the Financial District and got pictures of Trump Tower and the New York Stock Exchange building. It started to rain a little harder now, so I decided to get somewhere with a roof. I took the subway all the way up to 72nd street west & 9th.

By the time I exited the subway, it wasn’t raining so hard anymore. I walked east through Central Park, which is quite a nice place. There was a bunch of people swing dancing while wearing in-line skates; definitive proof that in New York, no matter how obscure your interests, there will always be a shitload of other crazy people who share them.

The east side of Central Park is bounded by 5th avenue. I was much further north than my original position, so southward was my direction of choice once again. I got about five blocks when the sky just opened up and brought buckets of water from the sky upon the unwary pedestrians below. I took refuge in T.G.I. Friday’s, but not quickly enough to avoid getting extremely wet. After supper, it was still absolutely pouring, so I got a cab back to Penn Station to catch my train to Long Island.

Remember the old Jewish ladies from the way down? The way back was no better. I rode home behind two middle-aged lesbians with mullets. Ack. I never want to see that ever again.

Unfortunately, even though I took a schwack of photos, I do not have my compact flash card reader with me, so I can’t get them off of my camera. You will all have to wait until I get home to see them. I think I took about 60 of them, give or take.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Gone again - This time to NYC

I wasn't even back at work for a whole day before they decided to ship me off again to New York City. I'll be damned if I don't get to see something that's worth taking a picture of this time. I really want to get to see the Statue of Liberty and Times Square and the Empire State Building, and other touristy New York stuff.

Have any spiners been to N.Y.C.? What's good to do? Give me the low-down. I want details.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Back from D.C.

Finally, I am home after leaving for two days and getting back a week later. The trip was useful for the customer, I believe I fixed some of their problems. That was nice. The sucky part was that I never got out once during the day to do any of the touristy stuff that someone visiting D.C. for the first time wants to do. I didn't get to see the White House; I only saw the Washington Monument from the roadside (no thanks to Crazy Tractor Guy there); I never even got to go to a store to look for those slick-ass bluetooth headsets.

The only cool part of the trip was when I was sitting in the D.C. airport waiting for them to announce boarding for my flight. I looked over and recognized Theo from Gob. As it turns out, they had just got advance screening presses of their new CD, "Foot in Mouth Disease". They let me listen to it on the plane. I whipped open my laptop and ripped it. Sweet.

Don't forget about the FARK Party this weekend. It should be a good time. You should come.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Updates from the American Capital

Traffic is fucking insane. Worse than the 401 in a snowstorm. I was stuck in it about an hour before Bush is supposed to make some sort of address to the nation. About half an hour to go now. I'm in my hotel preparing for the St. Paddy's day Washington nightlife I've heard so much about.

So the U.S. is probably going to start boming. That's my prediction. The cops are out in force, barricading all the streets around the White House and that's why I couldn't go and visit any of those places. Fuck. I'm a little bitter. It's not like I get to go on business trips that often, and when I do, I tend not to ever get to see anything :(

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Software Developer Union

This may have been brought up before, but what the hell, lets bring it up again. First off this includes everyone that works in the industry, programmers, quality control, tech writers, managers, IS, support reps etc.

How many times have you, or someone you know, been stuck working for long hours, evenings and weekends. Without any compensation, or even so much of a thank you?

Sometimes it is unavoidable, but the rare instances are not what I am talking about. I am talking about when some sales guy in butt fuck no-where that promises a feature to a client tomorrow just so they can collect the commission. Should the software developer not get part of that commission? Do they not deserve it? I mean if they didn't put in the extra time then the sales guy wouldn't get the commission.

I am also talking about the unrealistic deadlines that are always imposed on us without any sort of consultation. In what other industry are delivery dates given without asking the people doing the work, how long they think it is going to take?

Do others feel that the industry takes our willingness to work long hours for granted? Or is that expectation automatically placed on us when we take a job in this industry? Is the fact that we take pride in our work, to the point that we are willing to go the extra mile, expected?

Generally the pay is pretty good, but it is not always about the money? Or are you one of those people that for an extra $1000 a year you are willing to put in 60-hour weeks. No wait you don’t just get money, you get stock options. We have all had the “golden handcuffs” on at one point or another, but the realization of any large amount of money from options is very rare.

How much would this industry change if a Union were formed? Would the quality suffer from the institution of a Software Developers Union? Generally the people that work in this industry are smart people, why do we continually stand for the mistreatment? Or are stupid people the only ones that will stand up for them-selves?

I posed a lot of questions, but the main point is, do you think there should be a Software Developer union, and if there were a union would you join it? Do you agree with what I have said here, or not. What is your opinion on the subject?

Monday, March 3, 2003

Roll up the Rim is back!

Your favourite contest has re-appeared at your favourite coffee-and-donut shop. Yes, Roll-up-the-Rim is back at Tim Hortons. If it's anything like last year, I'll buy at least one coffee a day for the two or three months that this contest is on, and I'll win a coffee and one or two donuts. That would suck. I want the car. Not for the car itself, of course, they are hideous. I just want something to trade in for my new car because I haven't been able to sell my old car yet :(

Of course I wouldn't turn down the 53" Panasonic widescreen television or $1000 cash either ;)