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Happy Viper

“New York: the only city where people make radio requests like “This is for Tina – I’m sorry I stabbed you”. “

by David Dolphin on Sep.06, 2008, under Abroad, America, Concerts, Cons, Flying, Happy Viper, Media, Music, New York, Skynet, Work

Looking back, nothing remarkable happened on the Week of the 21st. I worked a lot. That’s about it. I settled into a groove. Got frustrated with a tourist (he was taking way too long to order… over 20 seconds *grin*) and gave some more directions.

On the Weekend of the 25th artemis’ brother came down to NY again. On the Friday night we hit the Mars Bar (which ended with me sleeping on the couch again) and on Saturday we went to a very expensive nightclub, Marquee. It was the first time I’ve seen a $9,000 bottle of champagne on sale.

Was also at Ignite NYC on the 29th where I met up with Gus again. Unfortunately it was held in a club and so artemis was turned away for not having ID. The worthwhile talks were:

  • Jessica Bruder (author, journalist-at-large) – How to be an Undercover Hooker (reprising her talk on taking an NYPD course)
  • Rose White (Yarnivore) – Weird and wonderful knitting — graffiti and science and art combined!
  • Audacia Ray (Village Voice’s Naked City) – Porn as a front runner in technology innovations
  • Natalie Jeremijenko (NYU XDesign) – A bomb shelter for the climate crisis
  • Dustyn Roberts (NYU’s ITP, Honeybee Robotics) – Flying High with Engineers Without Borders (on building a Kite Aerial Photography rig for mapping in Kenya)
  • Limor Fried (ladyada) & Phillip Torrone (Make & Citizen Engineer) – Open source hardware, hacking SIM cards, modding a payphone for fun and for profit.
  • Nick Bilton (NY Times, NYC Resistor) – The Future of News

I took a trip up to Toronto to visit sith on the 1st of August. I went up the CN tower with its scary glass floor, explored the brewery region, had two very nice meals and saw the Farmers Market. I also had lunch a few weeks later with sith in the Wild Onion on his trip around Ireland.

The following week I prepared myself for a trip to Las Vegas for DEFCON 16. I had an awesome time at DEFCON, met loads of interesting people and had a great time. If I had to choose between DEFCON and H.O.P.E. I’d pick DEFCON. While H.O.P.E. may have had better talks/speakers, DEFCON was amazing socially. The parties were awesome and the after parties back in hotel rooms were full of the most interesting conversations I’ve had in years. I also went to see Penn&Teller and The Blue Man Group.

Billy arrived in NY the week after DEFCON. The same week my family had their passports stolen in Spain, within hours of landing in the country. They were in my Dads Laptop bag, his laptop, my sisters phone and camera and all the families passports were stolen from the rental car at a motorway service station while they were inside getting something to eat. They eventually got temporary single use passports from a consulate and were able to get home.

I went to see Regina Spektor in McCarren Pool, supported by Albert Hammond Junior. There are several videos of the Gig up on Youtube. I heard a bunch of new songs and songs I hadn’t heard before. The highlight for me were Poor Little Rich Boy, Ghost of Corporate Future and a beatbox version of Hotel Song.

I came back to Limerick the following week. Overall I feel that my time in New York was very worthwhile. With 24hour public transport and food available almost as regularly the city feels like an extension of a college campus. As a knock on effect it is possible that offices don’t have closing times, and so often all-nighters were pulled as deadlines approached. People in New York live so they can work, not work so they can live.

I helped polarice pack Skynet flyers into Orientation packs. I showed three groups around the college durring Orientation week, Woodwork, Law & Accounting and Ethnochoreology students. All groups were great and I wish them the best of luck in UL.

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Week 4 & 5: “A person who speaks good English in New York sounds like a foreigner.”

by David Dolphin on Jul.11, 2008, under Abroad, America, Concerts, Happy Viper, Media, Movies, Music, New York, Phone, Work

Work has been hectic the last two weeks, I’ve been working 12+ hour days to get a CMS finished for a client, but thankfully it’s all done and finished now (let’s just hope there are no fatal bugs, like uploading a GIF will DROP a table or something else weird).

Agnès arrived in NY on Tuesday. Herself and artemis dropped up to the office and we sat around chatting for a few hours. I also met up with Agnès on Saturday afternoon for Lunch.

I’ve noticed a bizzarity in social event attendance etiquette. I’m not sure if it’s a New York thing or an American thing (I’m told it’s a New York thing) but saying you’ll attend x social event and actually attending it mean two completely different things.

On each of social outings I’ve had with American folk only 0-25% of them have shown up. Even for a co-workers birthday (which was joined with a going away party, as we weren’t going to she her for a few months) only about a quarter of the people who said they’d show up actually came. I suppose it’s something I’m just not used to, if you say you’ll be somewhere, you’d better have a good reason for not showing. Sure, you may be late, that’s almost expected, but to not show up, with no excuse? To not even call or text to say that you cant make it after you’ve made a commitment seems very aloof.

Also, there is a certain amount of suspicion and second guessing of ones motives in social encounters. A lady in a Subway station a few weeks back asked if a certain line stopped at a particular station. I told her that I didn’t know. I then tried to make small talk by saying that I’d just arrived, that the city was new to me and the I had only really taken one of the lines. I was glared at, as it to say “I only asked you for directions, nothing more. How dare you try and talk to me”.

Anyway, I went to see Infected Mushroom on Saturday in Webster Hall. It’s a really cool venue. There was Rap/Hip-Hop playing in the basement, trance/house on the ground floor, the band were playing on the Ballroom (which has a balcony for VIPs) and there was some Minimal Techno in an Upstairs room. There was also an EBM DJ playing before and after Infected Mushroom in the Ballroom. Infected Mushroom are a band who I’ve been into for about a year and I’m quite glad I saw them, considering I missed a free Coldplay gig and a Freezepop concert. I hope to get a few more gig’s in before I head home; I have my eye on Regina Skeptor, Bloc Party and Foo Fighters.

On Monday I wandered over to artemis’ to watch Dexter. I’ve also been watch a bit of Curb your Enthusiasm with my flatmates, Greg and Nanda. Both shows are pretty good and this has been the first time I’ve seen either.

I got a new phone on Saturday, a Nokia N70 (Music Edition). It’s a small step up from the 6680, but it’s got a better camera, more RAM and an Active Standby screen (which Vodafone decided the 6680 didn’t need, so they stripped it out). All my apps from the 6680 also just worked straight away when I pop’d my old card into the new phone, which was really handy. I also picked up a BL-6C (at last) and a Bluetooth Keyboard. Here’s a great list of S60 handsets (maintained by Steve Litchfield) which I’ve used for reference since I’ve owned an N-Gage.

I went to my first Movie Premier/screener on Wednesday. Some of the nice people in Media at Large gave us tickets. It’s called The Rocker and is basically a story about Pete Best. In a hilarious coincidence it actually contains Pete Best, playing a cameo role. There was one line I found amusing where a bland hippstr type is referred to as “[...] like Abercrombie are making people”.

I’ve just watched Once twice, the second time with the commentary. It’s been the first time in years that I’ve liked a film enough to watch it a second time, with the commentary. It’s a film everyone should watch.

I saw one more cockroach in the basement. I don’t consider two in a month to be an infestation but apparently the germphobic upstairs thinks otherwise and has asked the landlord to get the building fumigated. Germphobia is another big thing I’ve noticed over here, but I’ll leave my comments on that till another day.

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Week 3: “In New York it’s not whether you win or lose – it’s how you lay the blame.”

by David Dolphin on Jul.01, 2008, under Abroad, America, Happy Viper, New York, Work

On Monday I mooched over to artemis’ and watched The City of Lost Children. It’s an odd film.

Arriving home on Monday I discovered that Greg and Nanda had moved all the furniture in. Took the day off on Tuesday, bought a bed, assembled some furniture, rang SEVIS to make sure I wasn’t going to be deported and tidied up some loose ends. Life in New York is incredibly busy and it can sometimes be hard to find time to do the washing without taking a day off to catch up.

Wednesday started off in an uninteresting manner: work as per usual, tapping away at some SQL and Javascript (and other bit’s in-between). It finished with a job offer (which I wont be able to take up unfortunately, due to not living in NY permanently) and a Launch Party for a new Media Production house, Media at Large, down the corridor. I met a bunch of cool people and had a great chance to network.

More mooching happened after the launch party and artemis introduced me to the Fables series of Comics by lending me Legends in Exile, which I devoured on the Subway home. I’ve never been much of a comic book person but I’ve recently started on the House of Mystery series (written by Bill Willingham too) and quite enjoi it.

Friday evening consisted of firstly meeting up with Francescia, then headed into town for drinks in the Mars Bar (see last week for a description of same). Saturday morning I woke up on artemis’ couch again (in bad shape). On Saturday afternoon I watched Labyrinth (which consists of mostly puppets and crotch) and some Black Books (fantastic comedy staring Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey). Then went home and got ready to head out to Lilianas birthday party.

Amy Brennan, a fantastic friend who I’ve know since birth, is in New York for the summer too and came out on Saturday night. It was fantastic to catch up with Amy, to chat about Waterford, our respective courses, how life has been these last few years, our impressions of Americans, &c. We wound up finding our way to a loft in Brooklyn which an Irish guy lived in with his mates. They had a rocking practice space / recording studio in the loft and myself and Amy stayed up for most of the night playing drums/bass and drinking.

On Sunday afternoon I wandered into Midtown and stumbled upon the NYC LGBT Pride parade. Lots of colour, lots of music, some great crowd participation and an overall fun atmosphere was the order of the day.

On Monday night I tried to convince my sister to buy an ASUS Eee PC instead of a Macbook. I think Creative Zen support in XP and not in OSX may have been the deciding factor. Also popped around to artemis’ to watch Dexter, which I hadn’t seen before. I’ve only seen two episodes and while I find the show to be engrossing and compelling I find it hard to emphasise with Dexter (perhaps because I’m not a sociopath).

I saw one cockroach durring the week while doing laundry in the basement.

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Week 1: “Traffic signals [...] are just rough guidelines.”

by David Dolphin on Jun.14, 2008, under Abroad, America, Happy Viper, New York, Work

I flew into New York last Saturday and have been finding my feet in this city since. I arrived in the middle of a heat wave and suddenly realised that the four hoodies I brought with me were obsolete.

I’ve been sleeping on the floor of artemis’ apartment in the Financial District since I’ve arrived. She is actually a fantastic and lovely person, beyond her armadillo-esque exterior. She has given me some great practical advice on the day-to-day workings of New York. In related news: she’s disappointed that she hasn’t seen a shooting… yet.

After searching around I finally found my own place to live for the summer. It’s near Sunset Park, rent is good, it’s near the R (which I can take to work) and it has just been renovated. I’ll be living with two Philosophy graduates and I’m moving in tomorrow.

I had a job interview on Monday with a Web Design firm. It went well, consisted of “Show me some sites you’ve worked on”; “Here, here and here“; “Cool, you’ve got a job, come in Wednesday and we’ll draw up a contract”. I’ll mostly be doing PHP, CSS, xHTML and SQL work, with a bit of Flash, ActionScript and JavaScript thrown in. It’ll pay the rent.

I met up with Julia & Dan last night for a really tasty meal in a curry house called Brick Lane. The first time I met artemis in London we went to a great curry place too, in the actual Brick Lane in London.

I’ve had my first really bad Customer Service Experience too. I went into a Sprint Store on Fifth Avenue and asked for directions to the Apple store. The clerk replied with “Why do people always come in here looking for other places? We’re not a damn tourist information office! Get the hell out of here!”.

I’ve also had an Overheard moment:

Guy #1: You know about the Swedish; those guys in Paris.

Guy #2: Naw, the Swedish are from Norway.

So, to sum up, so far New York is: busy, hot, smelly, expensive, multi-racial, tall and fun.

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