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Category: e:strip

05/30/08 05:46 - 72ºF - ID#44491

Hellllooo, E:Roswell-Ripper!

So, get this! I work on the same floor and in fact, the same department as another (e:strip)per (yeah, not imk2. We are at WAR.) and I didn't know this for a WHOLE of three months!!!!

I was lounging in his cool office-space the other day and I noticed this very familiar picture on the desk. I thought it was (e:jim). When I looked closely, it wasn't (e:jim) but I was convinced it was his brother or some cousin. So I bust into the same office today and point to the picture and ask, is the last name of that bloke in the picture, Lindley? He goes, "No, why?" I blabber on and on about how I know this Jim who is totally like that person in the picture. He exclaims, "That Jim who does all the cool photos etc.". I nod and then he says, " Hey! Do you know Paul Visco, who works in the Washington Building". I then take over and rattle off a string of (e:Roswell)-Rippers, and he says, "Yeah, I know most of them". And then it dawns on me and I ask, "WHO ARE YOU??" Turns out its none other than (e:boxerboi), that avatar with the hot red Tee, the sun-shades and the uber cool back pack!

So I guess Buffalo is a tiny world and all cool (e:strip)pers do work at Roswell*. Haha. :)

PS: *Yeah, (e:imk2), you don't get mentioned. I don't care if you wear the most amazing clothes and see niche movies. You absolutely withheld important information. So, we are officially at war. ;)
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Permalink: Hellllooo_E_Roswell_Ripper_.html
Words: 268
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: flat hunt

05/22/08 09:01 - 45ºF - ID#44418

No such thing as a perfect flat

The votes are in. I put in my ballot for another year at the building with the hollow lions, terrible heating and lukewarm water.

Here's why. Living in and around Linwood has suddenly become very fashionable. Rumours abound that it is going to become the next gated community north of California. The direct effect of such hearsay and feigned snobbishness of the neighbourhood are crazy rents.

I spent four days hunting for livable and affordable flats around the place and frankly, I am so overwhelmed that I have reached a state of compromise where I think that $600/month may not be too unreasonable a price to pay for a simple studio! Though I have signed on the dotted line for yet another 365 and 1/4th of a day of lukewarm shower-serfdom at the Mayflower, it still seems quite outrageous to me that I managed to find no other place half as reasonable as my building!

The rundown of the hunt (and these were perhaps the only flats available within my budget range):

1. Target at Summer and Linwood (Not my building): Horrible smelly carpet with stains. Yuck. No more carpet tyranny in my life. Ever. Wouldn't live on a carpet even for free. I am done with carpets for life.

2. Target further down Allen: $400 without utilities. $300/month for utilities for the whole of the winter. So essentially $750/month including internet and everything. For a grad student, this is financial suicide. Unless I want to live on Ramen Noodles and spend my time coupon clipping. Which, by the way, I don't because it also happens to be the perfect recipe for depression.

3. Target on Franklin: AWESOME one-bedroom flat. Maintained like a dream. Even smelled nice! Landlord: a gem of a person. $440 a month. The catch, you ask? 9Ft ceilings and thus, $300/month utilities. Same Ramen Noodle issue as above. I pass. (If anyone is interested, and can afford this, I can give you the landlord's contact.)

4. Multiple targets in Hotel Lenox: The one bedroom flat had a bleak and lifeless view from its windows with a kitchen thrown in as an afterthought into a dark corridor of the flat. Another studio had a kitchen with no windows. Call me conceited and spoiled, but to me, the kitchen is the most important room in a house. It's a room where love is grown, happiness is concocted, nostalgia is stirred, music is dreamed up, dances are brewed, ideas are born and orgasms are perfected. The lack of windows and natural light in a kitchen is more abominable than anything else. I retract my earlier statement about the carpet. A kitchen without windows is the living hell I don't want to venture into. Ever.

5. Target on Irving: Nice flat with the blinds drawn. If you are okay with staring at a collection of assorted trashcans from around the neighbourhood and the wall of your neighbour's house 3 feet away, this flat may be perfect for you. It certainly would make me hasten to the first airplane headed back home.

6. The best arrangement of 'em all: Living with (e:Drew) and (e:Janelle). Awesome house, pets I never owned (and probably never will) but have always wanted, ONE-HELL-OF-AN-AMAZING cook (yeah, I mean (e:janelle). Sorry, (e:drew). I have no proof of your culinary skills. ;)) to cook with, lower than crazy rent (in fact, unreasonably so), and best of all, living with one of the coolest (e:strip)pers around!!! But (and isn't there always one? :( ) they live on Lexington. For my lazy and erratic grad student ways, the dream ends there.

I get up barely 1/2 hour before I have to make it to work, walk/run like crazy down the streets and reach at the nick of time. Sometimes, I don't come back till 3:00 AM. No matter how hard I try, I keep slipping into these irregular hours and last minute marathon spells. I delude myself that all this counts towards my exercise regimen (that is non-existent, BTW) Living in a flat very near work acts as a buffer to all these random acts of craziness. I can afford to not be dependent on any transport but my own and also afford to not own a car. So, even though I am TRULY tempted by their offer, I can't take them up on it. I know that the solution is more discipline. But currenly this is in severe short-supply. :/

So yes, there is indeed, no such thing as a perfect flat. There are always kinks and cracks, virtual or otherwise. The tact is to whine and blog about them till they sort of go away from your consciousness.
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Permalink: No_such_thing_as_a_perfect_flat.html
Words: 770
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: flat hunt

05/13/08 11:39 - 52ºF - ID#44333

To move or not to move...

It will be a whole year since I moved into Buffalo, next month. A leap year with an extra day, no less. Unbelievable. One year has gone by and it seems so unreal. I swear time went by faster here than any time or any place I have lived.

The management stuck the extended-lease agreement to the milk box on my door today morning and its time to reconsider whether I want to live here or not. Let's see:

1. It does have a nuclear shelter. Though, I imagine 97 households huddled in the basement with noisy washers, dryers and a spooky gaping hole while the city is being nuclear-bombed might not be so much fun as it is chalked up to be.

2. I don't need to hang up any curtains. Come on, spiderman and superman are not real, kids.

3. The floors are hardwood and shiny. I found a dead flattened mummified mouse under the carpet in my last flat. I suspect it is still there, because as we all know, mummies are best left undisturbed. Carpets are thus modern equivalents of the pyramids. Q.E.D. I hate carpets.

4. I can hear the police sirens at odd times. Believe it or not, it makes it feel like home.

5. My calves have been conditioned pretty nicely this past year, without having to invest in a stairmaster. I just need to figure out why my lungs can't take to stair-climbing as easily as my calves can. Puzzling.

1. The leechy management hiked the rent by $30 - takes it to >$600 with utilities. Money doesn't really grow on trees as the BMG seems to think. (BMG is the management company.)

2. The heating is disastrously bad. But its summer now and I can't recall how bad it was.

3. I think I have too much junk. Living in the same flat for more than a year is injurious to the Simple Pliny Project. The idea is to be nomadic enough to get rid of *everything* unessential.

Not many cons. I remembered that moving also involves actually finding another flat so I went for a walk around the neighbourhood and learned some useful things:

a) Hotel Lenox is also an apartment complex. Imagine the cool factor in being able to tell people that you actually *live* in a hotel. You could also constantly claim that you really haven't made your mind up about Buffalo yet.

b) The Westbrooks Apartments has a restaurant in the building - called Amaryllis. Hmmm... I wonder how it is for the residents. Honey, its time for dinner. I think they are serving baked crab with crumbled feta cheese downstairs.

c) The residents who live in "the North" park in a parking on North and Park streets. Sweet.

d) Is the building across from the massage clinic on North (with the anti-war signage) empty? I couldn't tell. If it is indeed occupied, then the tenants/owner have an odd knack of using billboard ads as curtains.

The Question lingers. I have four days to decide before the rent goes up $40. Aaargh. Tyrants.

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Permalink: To_move_or_not_to_move_.html
Words: 510
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: simple pliny

05/11/08 02:54 - 64ºF - ID#44307

Cool as a Cucumber

I am going to be working on Rule 49 from this minute.
49. Develop Equanimity.

The unfortunate fact is I am not. Either cool or even a cucumber. I care too much about everything. I care about everyone around me to the point of interfering in their affairs and offering my opinions. I think its time to stop. Completely grind to a no-opinion, cucumber stop.

My inspiration will aptly be, a CUCUMBER.
Eight alphabets. Eight rules.

Let's see.

It remains a Cucumber.
1. All these rules are not applicable to my family. I will interfere,
judge, argue and be a pain. Nopes, *you* don't escape. HEHE.

It's crUnchy!
2. If situations are chewing on me, then I shall remember the crunch of this post. Keep calm. Drink more water. Remain silent.

It's a Creeper and takes the shape of the trellis that guides it.
3. I shall go with the flow and not interfere with anyone's lives, decisions, opinions and practices. If it is their wish, its their wish alone. It does not concern me.

It has tons of entrapped cucumber jUice.
4. I shall drink more water and cool down. Every time I am irked I shall take the divine opportunity to take a detour to the water cooler and drink some water instead of speaking.

It is Mute.
5. I shall not be offering my opinions anymore, unless I am asked. I shall be silent. Your business is your business alone. Not mine. At all.

Its pollinated by Bumblebees, but only if released into the cucumber field at the proper time.
6. My help and opinions shall be available anytime, and all the time. BUT only if you ask. Not otherwise. I don't want to be sorry that I gave you both but you didn't want them anyway.

Its grEen outside and a delicate shade of the lightest green inside.
7. Err... that means I should be jealous sick calm. Yes, calm. No matter what kind of volcanoes are exploding around me.

Its a gReat balancing sandwich component.
8. I shall not judge you whatever you do. Not because I don't care but because I shall respect your right to be who you are and what you want to do plus I don't want to be sorry that I judged you and it was because of my prejudices and beliefs.

Progress report:
1. Did not email much.
2. Working on summaries to (e:chico). One on time, but slipped on 3.
3. Planning to put the lunch/7:00 AM work plan into action this week.
4. Took a hiatus. Three days of:
19. Do what you love. I walked and enjoyed sunshine. I cooked!

55. Learn to do nothing. Haha. I didn't have to learn this. But I put it into practice. I used the freed up time to do nothing. And I loved it!

44. Try living without a car. Alright. I don't have one anyway and this is cheating, but hey this is the 72 day plan. I need all the mileage I can get (irony totally intended).

~End of day Seven~
The Simple Pliny Project
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Permalink: Cool_as_a_Cucumber.html
Words: 514
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: eating out

05/09/08 07:00 - 58ºF - ID#44289

Chow Chocolat and Chef Johnny Depp

I went for a walk through Buffalo's breath-takingly beautiful and sunny downtown today and spotted a delightful new chocolate coffee shop - Chow Chocolat. It opened this week. Their floor is so beautiful, that you want to dance on it. Romantic/classical period piano was wafting through the store.

The chef was at the counter and told me that they were waiting for their espresso machine. Come next week, Chow Chocolat will have delicious espresso, tasty salads, rich veggie (and other) sandwiches as well as signature spinach creations. I checked online and Buffalo Rising seems to have done a feature on this shop:

I know they will have tasty food because the chef described the salads and sandwiches to me in detail, and his eyes lit up and danced while he was talking about them. I think anyone who is so passionate about food and cooking cannot go wrong.

I admit I may have been a bit distracted because the chef is a splitting image of Johnny Depp (In movies: Chocolat + Blow + Pirates of the Caribbean). He gave me chocolate samples and I couldn't quite think straight after that. I didn't even check out the prices, as I usually do! I had to force myself not to get coffee and sit there gazing at him. Lucky is the girl (or guy) who has him. He has the world's most charming smile, long luxurious locks, plus he cooks and works at a chocolate store! How good can it possibly get?? :)

Chef Johnny Depp: The bloke in the tie in the picture. From:

On afterthought, I think employing him might have been intentional; or at least making him do the whole Johnny Depp look. After all, if you are named Chow Chocolat, who better to employ than the hot chocolaty Johnny Depp. Hmmm... I wonder if the counter will be manned by Juliette Binoche when Johhny is cooking in the kitchen...

I can't wait to go back! :)

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Permalink: Chow_Chocolat_and_Chef_Johnny_Depp.html
Words: 354
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: simple pliny

05/07/08 10:47 - 55ºF - ID#44268

Swirled into the drain

So basically, ALL elements of The Simple Pliny Project went whooshing into the gutter today. Here's the progress report.

1. I did wake up at 4:30 and started reading my article but I could not finish it and emailed (e:chico) to let him know that it was going to be late. I haven't finished it YET, because it lead me to 5 other articles. However, I do optimistically believe that this has been a good learning exercise.

The one line summary is that Directed Acyclic Graphs are a clever way to make your readers believe that you are being objective and smart, but you are only as good as your literature search is. I could go a step further and call it "Stating the Obvious" - STO.

I am working on a more formal summary and hoping to mail it before tomorrow's 7:00 AM deadline. 24 hours LATE. GRADE- F.

(BTW, (e:chico) kept his side of the promise and unfailingly sent the rattle-cage reminder email to this truant. GRADE- You are awesome. A+++)

2. I fell off the no-email wagon and landed on my head. GRADE- F

3. I came into the office at 8:00. GRADE- B+ But I am still in office and additionally am posting my failures on (e:strip). MODIFIED GRADE- F
(I intend to stay till my articles and report are done.)

4. I did not bring lunch. GRADE- F
But I ate at Quaker Bonnet Eatery instead. It had indeed the MOST AWESOME sandwiches.They were SO GOOD. Highly recommended. Plus I found that they DO SELL BREAD! So Rejoice! However, all their bread is of the whitest kind. Look elsewhere for high-fibre unbleached bread. Yeah, you better not have had popped the champagne at the initial sentence.

So, there you have it. I need to start all over again. After all Robert Bruce of Scotland did it. I can atleast try.

--From the Nadir.--
~End of Day Three~
The Simple Pliny Project
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Permalink: Swirled_into_the_drain.html
Words: 328
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: simple pliny

05/06/08 08:08 - 63ºF - ID#44257

Tick Tock, Chop Chop, 1-2-3

In edition two of the simple pliny project, my kleptomania from "The Living Simple Manifesto" expands its uneven claws to score a couple more nuggets.

Nugget 29. Establish routines: Morning, Weekday. (Hey, the claws were *uneven*. They can only tackle so much at a given time!)

I am an insomniac. (Man, this is almost starting to feel like a Something-Anonymous meeting - atleast as it is shown in films... Yeah, for those of you who thought this tangential comment was coming from experience in real life, SHUT UP ALREADY!)

So Ahem. Where was I? Yeah. Hello everyone, I am TinyPliny and I am an insomniac. I cannot sleep for more than a three hours at a stretch. I have no idea why. Wait. Maybe this has to do with all the anxiety linked to the fact that I NEED TO GET MY PROPOSAL DONE!! Or maybe I will cling ferociously to the thought that I am just an insomniac.

Either way, the ruthlessly loud sparrow racket outside my flat window wakes me up at around 4:30 AM nowadays. Hmmmm... I am convinced that the sparrows are in some mental/spiritual contact with my advisors. Because a) both of them wake up at insanely early hours and of course b) they probably are getting annoyed with my hebetudinous "progress". (Note to myself: If 72-day plan doesn't work, shoot sparrows and bury bodies at Forest Lawn in the dead of the night.)

So the proactive idea is, if I am awake already, why not work it into a profitable routine?

1. Will write summary of the dissertation article I read first thing in the morning and post it (hopefully, (e:chico) won't be scared away!!) to (e:chico). Include article in the list of references, if applicable.

2. Make lunch and pack it instead of leaving it in the fridge because I am running almost late to a meeting or felt lazy and took some apples instead.

3. Get to office around 7:00 and come back early. More quiet time, more time to get the reading scheduled, done. Less time to fritter away.

52. Make a Most Important Tasks (MITs) list each day once I reach the office.

In case you were wondering, I did learn how to count in kindergarten. That's Nugget 52 I stole from the Zen bloke. *unhinged laughter*

Ah yes, the progress report:
-- Conscientiously avoided all feeds except a few (related to my dissertation) today.
-- Did not send even one feed-wiki-related email in the past 24 hours.
-- Received a comment from a friend (you know who you are, wink wink) that they perhaps might cry themselves to sleep today (in lieu of reading my email? Yeah I get it, you you you!)
-- Another one just smirked quite maliciously (you know who you are as well. Well. Bleah.)
-- A third just emailed me all the feeds and attached articles, concerned that I might not have spotted them. What the...@$##$%#%
-- MUST....NOT....CAVE...IN DEL DEL DEL DEL DEL DEL DEL damn. Shift+PgUp+Del

~End of Day Two~
The Simple Pliny Project.
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Permalink: Tick_Tock_Chop_Chop_1_2_3.html
Words: 515
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: simple pliny

05/05/08 06:54 - 65ºF - ID#44246

The e:hodown epiphany

(e:hodown)'s post has brought it all into focus. I think the key to being better is feeling better. Feeling better implies being proactive in eliminating the things that make you feel worse. And NO. That does not include drinking whiskey as the granny suggests ( ), tempting as it might be. :)

The elements of my proactive plan shall be shamelessly stolen and adapted from The Living Simple Manifesto.

Thus, each day, I am going to take a couple ideas from that page and apply it to my case. Call it misplaced optimism, but I like the thought that a major chunk of my messed up world can potentially be straightened up in 72 days or less!

Since I am glued to a computer most of my waking hours, its only fitting that I start where it might impact the most. Starting with Rule 7: Limit your communications and Rule 60: Simplify your RSS feeds

I admit I am guilty of internet trawling. I wiki-surf and feed-read all the time. I am attracted to every remote science story there is and I read them all. Not only do I read the article, most often than not, I track down the source journal papers and read them as well. Then I email the most interesting of these to a handful of my friends and my family. I do this all in separate emails because they are all from a different timespan and/or sphere of my life and some of them don't know each other so clumping them all in one To:/CC: line seems inappropriate. I receive many of their responses and opinions and answer them all. Some of them send me some related papers, which I then proceed to track down and read. Its a never-ending cycle.

The result of all this frantic reading and emailing is:
1. I become a little bit more informed each day. Score: +1
2. I lag behind in the dissertation reading I am supposed to be doing. Score: -1
3. I feel guilty about this and get nightmares. Score: -2

Net Score: -2. I feel worse by the end of the day even though I feel informed.

The objective now is to convert this negative score into an overwhelmingly positive one and I can do this by:
1. Eliminating all superfluous emails. The emailing probably takes more of my time than reading stuff.
2. Just limiting myself to a science-digest like programme every weekend.
3. Do more dissertation reading and use the time saved from emailing to summarize this reading.
4. Post progress on (e:strip). (Which, BTW, I need to check just once a day, preferably in the morning. :))

~End of Day One~
The Simple Pliny Project.

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Permalink: The_e_hodown_epiphany.html
Words: 461
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: grocery

05/02/08 06:42 - 65ºF - ID#44218

Where's my bread? Bakeries downtown??

(E:strippers), Romans and Countrymen!!! Lend me your ears (and some time to make those comments)!!

I am back to my grocery scoping in downtown buffalo. This time my goal is to find a good variety of locally baked artisan breads in the neighbourhood of Buffalo downtown. The fact of the matter is there are no good bakeries I know of in the area, that I can walk to in a jiffy to grab a good freshly baked loaf of bread. Do you know of any?

I want to be able to get a high-fibre good multigrain/ Honey Wheat/ Ciabatta / Baguette etc. when I feel like making sandwiches, without having to resort to any other mode of transportation apart from a brisk (maximum) 10 minute walk.

That rules out:
1. Sweet Tooth: Yeah, only sweetmeats.

2. Dolci: Good bread but not-walkable within 10 minutes!

3. Globe Market: Do they sell bread? Even if they do, same boat as Dolci.

4. The Coop: I am boycotting this elitist price-hiking I-am-holier-than-thou store.

5. Wegmans: Forget it. I don't have wings. Kapish?

6. Guercio's: I hate to strike this out but it is a bit too far. I wish they bought the space where Latina's used to be and moved their excellent gig to Elmwood. :(

7. Quaker Eatery: Do they even sell baked bread? The Walgreens lady thought they did. Any inputs on this? I peeped through their windows and the lady setting the tables glared right back. Somehow I didn't venture in. I came back home and saw that they have a website: Do they also sell the "home-baked" bread they use for their sandwiches? Has anyone ever eaten here? On their menu, it says they sell Tim's Cascade Chips and it makes my mouth water. I think the Hot Jalapeno version of Tim's Cascade Potato Chips are the best chips ever.

8. The millon corner shops: If I wanted mass-produced white bread, I wouldn't be making this post!

9. Balisteri's Bakery: 307 Niagara St, Buffalo, NY (716) 853-8063
I pulled this out of google maps. Has anyone been here?

10. Le Metro Bakery & Cafe: 520 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY
(716) 885-1500 Again, a google maps find. Experiences, anyone?
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Permalink: Where_s_my_bread_Bakeries_downtown_.html
Words: 359
Location: Buffalo, NY



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