The Calm After The Storm

Jersey City Post-Irene (NE)

After all of the stress of yesterday, we woke up this morning and continued to stay cautious and weary until about 10AM, when the Irene was downgraded to a Tropical Storm. We went down to the 9th floor deck and then to the building lobby to survey.

Despite being in an evacuation zone and being literally on the coast of the Hudson, we found no flooding, no fallen trees or branches, no broken glass. We did not once lose power or cable service. The lobby of our building was undamaged.

Yet the more inland parts of Jersey City – not under an evacuation order – suffered widespread flooding and power outages.

There are things in life that perplex me, and this is certainly one of them. I am not going to sit here and call the storm “boring” or “overrated” because it has impacted plenty of people. As I write this, PSE&G says 375k are without power in NJ, and I know more than a few. But how a riverfront area can avoid any damage flies in the face of my internal logic.

In any case, I’m glad it’s done and over with. But now I very badly need a vacation, or a massage, or something.

Dat Hurricane

I’ve received some frantic IMs and tweets from friends over the last few days about what we’re going to do about the hurricane. Allow me to document our decision making process:

At 1PM today, the Jersey City Police Department issued a mandatory evacuation for ground/first floor units in our neighborhood. We live on the 10th floor of our building – the first eight floors are a block-wide parking garage and common space for the building, then two separate towers start the actual units at floor 9.

At 3PM today, our building forwarded that order on trying to turn it into a mandatory evacuation for the entire building. They requested everyone vacate by 4PM.

Unlike the mandatory evac orders for Zone A in Manhattan (issued yesterday) or first-level apartments in Hoboken (issued this morning), this came after the MTA had shut down the subway, after the PATH had shut down, and after NJ Transit had shut down.

There are emergency shelters, of course, but they are neither near us nor are the buses they are running for them anywhere near us (4 stops on the light rail). Additionally the shelters are not taking pets, and Buttons’ safety and health remains one of our top concerns. (One was just announced as taking pets, opening at 5PM today – a bit late.)

Additionally, like many NYC-area residents, we don’t own a car. So driving west to some unknown destination (we don’t have any friends or family in NW New Jersey) isn’t an option.

The fear from the building (and generally from the area) is more about the flooding and potential power outages than wind damage to the building. Our windows are thick and, per the building, able to withstand high winds. (Jersey City is remarkably windy on average.) We have supplies – water, canned food, charged devices – that we prepared yesterday.

So I would emotionally prefer to have somewhere safe we could go and relax for the weekend – my stress level has been a bit high, having recently completed a week long conference that involved an earthquake. But the logical, rational side of me knows that trying to flee at this point is a losing proposition compared to sheltering-at-home.

So at home we shall stay, for better or for worse. It is not a great decision, it may not even end up being a good decision, but it is the best decision we can make given the options. And to be honest, if the primary disruption that comes from this is a blackout, I think I have ample experience.

VIVO Conference 2011

Forgive the rare work-related post.

Tomorrow morning I will be heading to the Washington DC area for the second annual VIVO Conference, as well as some activities related to the wrapping up of the VIVO grant, which has been a part of my working life for the last 2.5 years. (I have been the technical lead for WCMC’s implementation over the life of the grant.)

VIVO — since I realize I have not mentioned it once on this blog in said 2.5 years — is a web application intended for use in generating profiles for research faculty at an institution. It’s based in a lot of semantic web ideas, and I will stop describing it right there seeing as the phrase “semantic web” tends to send both technologists and technophobes into a glazed-eye panic.

Were that not enough to make you want to book travel to DC immediately and furiously live blog, I am actually scheduled to present with my team on a side project we did during the main grant. It seems to be a very popular side project. I am only mildly terrified seeing “You’re Speaking At This Event” in my Lanyrd event list.

In any case, if I seem particularly out of touch for the next week, now you know why.

Why Do Things The Easy Way?

“It has almost bankrupted us, almost killed us, and estranged us from family and friends, but we had to do it.” – Dave and Steph Dewaele

If there is a musical project worth your attention this summer, it is Radio Soulwax.

To describe it briefly: Dave and Steph, two of perhaps the most ingenius DJs on the scene today, have opted to not merely release an hour-long mix every week, but also with an appropriate visual accompaniment. There are free apps for iOS and Android allowing for download and streaming, and the web site provides a rotating scheduled stream of the mixes.

Being 13 mixes in, there’s a solid half day of music up already; some quick recommendations:

  • Introversy – as many song intros as they could jam together in one hour.
  • (Nothing Worse Than A) Bad Rap – as many horrible late 70s/early 80s rap songs as they could find.
  • Librarian Girl – library music, as in instrumentals generally licensed for backgrounds in TV or movies.
  • This Is Belgium Part 2: Cherry Moon On Valium – perhaps my favorite of the mixes thus far, this mix is 20-year old Belgian rave and Hi-NRG songs that have been slowed down from their typical 140-150 BPM down to a “sexy” 115. This would be amazing even if it weren’t for the visual accompaniment of people doing the appropriate rave dances to the music.

New mixes are released roughly every Monday. Enterprising souls might be able to pick apart the mobile versions to reap the rewards of pure MP4 files.

If you’re into electronic music in the slightest, and have a sense of humor, don’t miss this.