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Category: culture

06/06/06 10:54 - 74ºF - ID#21053

Gematria For June

Today is June 6, 2006.


6 added together three times is 18.

18 spelled out in Hebrew forms (WIKIPEDIA - Chai_%28symbol%29), the symbol for life.

In summary, I'm lousy about doing laundry, and I'm an even worse satanist. The first few weeks I lived here, I had noticed that at corner of Utica and Richmond embedded in the sidewalk was a hand print and three plastic dice (all sixes). When I first saw this arrangement, I had thought "A Hamsa (WIKIPEDIA - and three dice that total number 18--the person at this house must really be trying to ward off evil spirits".

It was only when a friend visiting from out of town pointed out the whole "Damian" thing that I realized the person on the corner was going for the Mark Of The Beast and not the denomination of bar-mitzvah gifts.

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Permalink: Gematria_For_June.html
Words: 140
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: general

06/06/06 12:39 - 62ºF - ID#21052

Good News, Good Starts

Several pieces of good news.

First, we won against Oilers!!! In honor of this event, I'm renaming the venue geocoding software I'm writing to "Category5". My dream of getting the latitude and longitude of every bar in Buffalo is slowly turning into reality.

Second, I'm flying home on Friday to see the folks back home. While I'm not fond of missing the Allentown festival, it's more than made up for by seeing the people I care about who I haven't seen for nearly four months.

Third, I've finally figured out how to put images on estrip after puzzling over it the process for several days.


I was driving down Elmwood several days ago, and out of the blue was a sign that I've been trying to meet women in all the wrong places ;) (not photoshopped--I really found it this way).
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Permalink: Good_News_Good_Starts.html
Words: 142
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: hockey

06/01/06 10:20 - 65ºF - ID#21051

Old North State Of Mind

Go Team.

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Permalink: Old_North_State_Of_Mind.html
Words: 2
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: general

06/01/06 01:26 - 73ºF - ID#21050

The Bad And The Good

First the bad, because maybe putting the good at the end will remind me that there's more to life than the latest thing that I let stress me out way too much. When I moved into my apartment, I signed up for electric service with this company called "National Grid", who were formerly known as "Niagara Mohawk", who were probably formerly known as something else before the all-too familiar conglomeration we see these days. I'm using the term "signed up" very liberally; they're the only game in town for electricity, so it's not like I've really got a choice where my electrons are coming from.

So I sign up for National Grid's on-line service that would allow me pay my bill via the Internet, and like a lot of companies, they stop sending you the dead-tree version of your bill when you decide you'd like the Internet to be one of several different payment options. So you've got to remember that you aren't going to get that letter in the mail, and I happened to forget; since I've moved from NC, there have been dozens of things I've had to sign up for and send off, and occasionally one gets by. So I wondered when I was going to get my bill in the mail, and a month and a half later, I got one of those letters politefully reminding me just what a utility company can do to you if you don't pay them.

Like the mature adult I pretend to be, I tried to make good on my mistake and tried doing National Grid's on-line payment thing. As these past few months I've made a habit of hording most of my earnings, it wasn't like money was an issue, I just needed a way to pay these people, and do it quickly before my credit rating got trashed. But when I got to the on-line section, there was no "pay by credit/debit card". WTF??!!! In NC, all the utility companies give you the option to put your payment on your card (for a modest fee). But National Grid? Nope. The only way you can pay these idiots electronically is going through the whole rigamarole of putting in your bank account # and your check routing #. So I fired up my browser, put the relevant pieces of account info in their various fields, clicked "Submit", and I thought that everything was resolved. Like hell it was.

One *week* later, I get an e-mail from National Grid, telling me that the transaction didn't go through. Yup. One week. This is supposed to be the Information Age. People I pay good money to are supposed to use at least a small fraction of that money to competantly set up a computer system that gives me my billing information right away, particularly when it is in *their* own interest to part me from my money as quick as possible. But this didn't happen; National Grid waited an entire week to tell me something went wrong. With my trust in their computer system completely shattered, I go ultra-low tech and send these folks a check, thinking that there would be no way they could screw this up or be ambiguous about the results of my payment. Boy, I was wrong.

Yesterday, National Grid sends me another letter, this time saying that the check I sent them was "dishonored". I've spent the last three months without a new iPod or laptop to make sure that there's 20-30 times the amount of that check sitting in the bank. No way could this have bounced. I check my National Grid account on-line--my balance was reported as being paid off; but as these people waited a week to tell me the funds didn't transfer the first time, it's not really like I can trust their on-line service and the balance it's reporting. I check my bank's on-line banking site--the check cleared, as I knew it would. So if the check cleared, why the hell did National Grid send me that stupid letter?

I call National Grid in the hopes of finding a human who can straighten this thing out. Fighting my way through a phone system practically designed to discourage one from talking to a fellow primate, I eventually reach a customer service representitive, but she ends up being even more obstinant than a machine. She repeatedly tells me that I still have the outstanding balance to pay off, and all my attempts to explain that her business' *own* on-line system is showing the balance entirely paid off merely gets me the response "talk to your bank". When I insist that I have to pay this thing off as soon as possible, she recommends I use the same on-line bank draft system that had originally got me in this mess. It's like calling up the fire department to report your charcoal grill being engulfed in flames, and being told the problem is that you just haven't squirted on enough lighter fluid. "Just another dab'll do you--we swear!"

So I call up my bank. The bank's customer service representitive tells me she has no way of figuring out why the direct draft from checking didn't work, but she does tell me that the check I sent a week ago cleared. I even call up National Grid's phone info system, and it's even telling me my balance has been paid off. So why does this stupid person on the phone continually insist that I have to pay some balance, and that their business' inability to coherently represent the state of my account is the problem of myself and my bank? Who the hell ever decided that it was a good idea to give these dolts a municipally-sanctioned monopoly, let alone lots of heavy equipment that they could hurt themselves with?

I suppose I could have spared the 1000 words I've written simply by writing "National Grid Sucks". Or I could even have not bothered writing this posting at all, and instead could have written my elected officials and asked them to either force National Grid to behave like a responsible company, or to deregulate the electric utility system altogether and let customers choose who they're getting power from. This would probably be the more positive way to deal with the situation. I know that this will iron itself out sooner or later, I've just got so much on my plate right now and this is the very last thing that I needed to deal with.

Now for the good. The Hurricanes are still in the game, and tomorrow they'll be playing (and hopefully winning) in the RBC center. I am proud of my team no matter the outcome, and I am proud to have sat in my cap and gown during January's graduation ceremony on what is essentially center ice of tomorrow's game. And maybe the tickets at RBC didn't sell out quite as fast as here, but the fans who are there have been pushing the decibel meter quite a bit on TV. And while there were certainly a lot of Sabres fans coming to cheer on their team in our home territory (as they rightly should), I at least tried to do the same and cheered on the Canes for the first few games in Jimmy Mac's (and only stopped after I had to walk away from patrons trying to pick fights and I got more or less got kicked out of the bar for cheering for the other team). No matter what happens, I think the season's gone really well for everyone involved.


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Permalink: The_Bad_And_The_Good.html
Words: 1269
Location: Buffalo, NY

05/28/06 02:57 - 60ºF - ID#21049

Missed the boats

Wow. This weekend is really one of missed connections and unfortunate circumstance.

On Thursday, I missed Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, who were playing at a concert series that I didn't know existed. I would've liked to have seen them; however good or bad they are, they cater to my nostalgia for the days of my youth when I'd go to Chapel HIll to see Squirrel Nut Zippers shows at the Cat's Cradle for $5 (before they became big and started charging $20 at big arenas).

On Friday, I found out that someone has been putting on free concerts in Buffalo and that I've totally been missing them. Having recently moved, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there's still a lot of learning that I have to do in the department of where to find good cheap entertainment (I'm still looking for a $1.50 movie theater with second-run movies, like the Blue Ridge had back home). For most of the time I've been here, the majority of my live music experience has been catching the Lance Diamond show at the Elmwood Lounge. It's a great act and the man is truly an entertainer, but my Motown/70's music circuits are starting to get a little overloaded.

Saturday afternoon, I find out that (e:strip) is having some sort of get-together, which I can't attend because my father is visiting from Durham to help me do some final setup of my apartment. In the grand scheme of things, family is more important than finding out whether someone's voice really sounds like how I imagine it to sound. But now I'm going to have this lingering curiosity that's not going to go away until the next (e:strip) function (whenever that is).

On the bright side, I get memorial day off from work, so it's an extra day that I can spend entirely with my dad.

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Permalink: Missed_the_boats.html
Words: 311
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: general

05/21/06 09:17 - 47ºF - ID#21048

First Post

I've decided today to make my first-ever posting to (e:strip).org. I've been reading members' posts during the past several months, and I've decided that joining this on-line community and posting to it myself would be a good first step in participating in some Buffalo community activity (that doesn't involve rooting for the Sabres). I chose the name "Carolinian" because I recently moved to Buffalo from North Carolina, and also because any self-respecting Duke fan would never call himself "Tarheel."

So why am I here in Buffalo now? I moved here from North Carolina because I couldn't find jobs down there and got a job here. Three months ago, out of the blue, a manager from a small factory located in the Orchard Park area called me and said their company needed me for a job programming Macs (which seems to be one of the few things that I don't suck too terribly at). With an increasing number of people back home breathing down my back about my lack of gainful employment, and as the University I did Mac programming for would never give me the full 40 hours that my predecessors had (due to state budget cuts), it was fairly easy to say "Yes" to the job. Actually, there were a lot of people I cared a lot about back home whom I was leaving, so saying "Yes" wasn't quite a completely pain-free proposition.

Having moved to Buffalo, I've now acquired a nickname. Yesterday, at a bar where I was watching a hockey game, someone with who I struck up a conversation christened me "the salmon", because I'm swimming upstream and doing everything the opposite of everyone else. That's actually a very apt title.

Apparently, I'm supposed to:

1. Live in the city of Buffalo.
2. Get tired of the living conditions there.
3. Move to the Orchard Park sprawl and commute everyday to the city.
4. Not be able to find any jobs up here.
5. Get a job in North Carolina and move down there.

Instead, I :

1. Couldn't find any jobs in North Carolina.
2. Got a job in New York State.
3. Moved to Orchard Park (where I lived for a few weeks).
4. Got tired of the living conditions there.
5. Moved to the city of Buffalo and now commute every day to Orchard Park.

I guess I'm doing it all wrong.

So far, Buffalo seems to be a pretty cool place; there's lots of stuff happening, and there's a good alternative paper (much like the Independent Weekly back home) that details it all. In some ways, Buffalo is a lot like downtown Durham, where the town saw better days in the age when its chief industry (tobacco) was a booming profit center. Unlike downtown Durham, however, Buffalo didn't die and leave a completely soulless shell behind.

As for where I live now, I eventually settled on living in the upper part of an old house on Richmond Avenue. Originally, I made this decision because I needed an apartment soon, and because the apartment complexes wanted to lock me into a year lease that couldn't be broken even if my temp-to-hire status didn't work out. But looking back on it, I'm totally glad that I made the decision to live here. Richmond Ave. is a really beautiful place to live, and looking at photographs from a hundred years ago, little has changed since then. Trees still line the sidewalks, and people race their cars up and down the wide street way too fast, just like they raced their horses too fast a century ago. For a person like myself who has a terrible sense of time, a place that's timeless is the ideal place to live.

While I enjoy my life up here so far, it does have its challenges. It's never easy to move into a new place, and some things are still not unpacked and probably won't be for another month. I'm living in a place that's at least three times bigger than my previous 500 sq ft. apartment, and while the space is nice, that means that there's now three times the space to clean. And since I just moved here and know very few people, my weekends are kind of boring and the social isolation is getting to me. I'm passing a lot of my time either at the Jewish Community center working out or sitting in my home office designing my own community-oriented software that will allow me to more effectively make use of all the activities the city has to offer.

So I hope I've written enough to make the (e:strip) automated "You've not written a damn thing yet" mail daemon happy. Any verbosity present in this posting can be blamed on an overzealous attempt to avoid my account to be deleted.

Oh, and one other thing: LET'S GO CANES!!!

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Permalink: First_Post.html
Words: 802
Location: Buffalo, NY



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