dumplings and samosas in the City
Thursday, February 9 2012
To take care of some final details on a current project and to get some information for a new project, this morning I took a bus into Manhattan and went to the office for which I have been working remotely. This was the first visit since I got my job, and, due to communications issues, it would have been good to go in sooner. I'd hate having to commute into the city every day, but I actually like going in occasionally. It makes me feel useful and connected in a way that I find elusive when working entirely remotely. Manhattan is an inherently fun place to be, particularly when you don't have to worry about parking. I like the culture of taking the subway, of walking for blocks amid other people walking for blocks, and of ducking into a deli for coffee and something to eat. And for vegans like me who occasionally struggle trying to live off the land, Manhattan makes it easy. There's always something in the deli for us (although, in my case this morning, the macrobiotic vegan Chinese dumplings were a bit too gingery, though they took the edge off my hunger all the same).
Unlike the last time, today I knew where to go and didn't bother asking questions at the front desk of the building. I went right to the elevator and took it to the 7th floor. The unctuous customer care I got at the front desk of my office was nice, though I'd rather be familiar enough to those people that they would just ignore me. Still, I didn't know even the basics: how to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom.
Since I'd arrived at noon, the first order of the day (after my boss got out of a meeting) was to go out for lunch. There were three of us: my boss, my new technical contact (Scott), and me. "Thursday is pizza day," one of them announced, and I said that was okay with me. We ended up at a nearby Two Boots (a microfranchise I know from having lived in Brooklyn). Happily, Two Boots had vegan slices ready to go in their display. That's how things roll in America's biggest, least American city. "Are you a vegetarian?" my boss (who had ordered a cheese slice and a pepperoni slice) asked. "Yeah," I replied. I've checked my boss's Twitter feed, and he's pretty much a guy's guy, with an emphasis on the appreciation of sport. But I've had that kind of boss before (in San Diego: a lover of Dave Matthews before I'd actually met Dave Matthews) and it worked out okay.
Back at the office, it looked like I still needed to do a few things with my existing project, but scraping together a development environment for me wasn't easy. To save time, I was going to have to work from my netbook (good thing I'd set up the SSH tunnel on it before I'd left), but, since it was Windows XP machine in an office full of Macintoshes, getting me a larger monitor wasn't going to be easy. It seems all Mac monitors these days use a proprietary interface. Eventually we were able to find me a monitor I could use, but that meant bumping Scott and his Mac laptop (which was plugged into a generic Dell monitor) to a different monitor.
I spent the next four hours feverishly debugging my project, which wasn't easy. The problem was that a lot of the code was being cached in the browser in weird ways, and it was possible to break something and then not be aware of it because the cached version still reflected unbroken code. Usually I have the opposite problem: fixing something and not seeing the result because the broken version is still in the cache.
At about 6:00pm I left the office (near the intersection of Houston and Broadway) and headed gradually northwestward through Manhattan on foot, generally avoiding Broadway even though it would have been the fastest way to go. As I walked, I was on the lookout for a bar or a restaurant that was a little bit divey but not disgusting. Most of the places I passed were far too upscale, though they started seeming more appropriate the farther west I went. They didn't really get good, though, until I reached the part of Manhattan with parking facilities and gas stations, that is, the low-rent part of town. Still, there had only been one or two good places by the time I got to 42nd Street. I remember Hell's Kitchen having some relatively seedy parts, so I continued westward and then northward, eventually ducking into a bar called Perdition. It was sort of an English-style pub with a smattering of flatscreens showing sports. (I'd passed a ticket scalper at Madison Square Garden and knew there was a game on tonight, but only at Perdition did I discover that it was hockey). I sat at the bar and had a mystery IPA that was really good, followed eventually by an Old Speckled Hen (which I'd had in the United Kingdom). The latter was more vinegary than I'd remembered. There weren't many people there, though there were enough for it to be mildy interesting. The music was loud but it seemed appropriately so. Eventually I ordered a plate of veggie samosas, which I saw the bartender's assistant microwave for me. I expected them to be terrible but they were delicious and very filling. I'll definitely be going there again next time I'm in the city.
I caught whatever Kingston bus was loading at Port Authority, and it got me to Kingston at about twenty minutes before midnight.
On my way out of overflow parking, I stopped at the old abandoned Friendly's, which is currently being renovated for whomever its next occupant will be. There was a biggish (48 inch) satellite dish that had been roughly torn down (evidently it had been allowed to fall on its side, as the edge of the fiberglass dish had cracked). After dismantling it further, I was barely able to get it into the back of my Subaru. My intention, of course, is to use it to achieve truly miraculous WiFi ranges (unless someone has a better idea).
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