Category Archives: Personal Matters

Me, myself, or otherwise I.

So, About That “Mugshot”…

No, I Didn't Go To Jail

In mid-February, I changed my profile picture on most social networks to the above photo and casually mentioned there was a story that I might be able to tell in the future. Given that my glasses were off, I was in front of a white wall, and was trying to neither smile nor frown, the response was somewhat predictable: “Did you get arrested?”

No, I did not get arrested. But today’s the day I can tell the story.

Across 2011, I chipped in articles to Gothamist about the New York Red Bulls. I made a trip out to Harrison to cover Media Day before the home opener. I helped write some blurbs for “Last Night’s Action”, the daily sports round-up, in a pinch. Around September I started writing full match reports, starting with the Rafa Marquez drama and ending with getting knocked out of the playoffs.

Writing these was a fantastic mental outlet. It’s no surprise that I love to write and tell stories – I’ve been doing it here since 2000. My love of soccer and my interest in the team turned into a very natural topic to want to write about, and I even got a few pieces of fan mail thanking me for the coverage.

During the off-season, I came to the conclusion that it might be worth stepping up this engagement slightly, and after some discussion with my editor, got the go-ahead to apply for formal press credentials for the 2012 season. The oddly taken picture that had people believing I spent a night in the slammer? Actually just part of my application process for the credentials.

I was notified yesterday that my application was accepted. So my insufferable chatter about soccer will likely only get worse, as I will officially be covering the Red Bulls (and other soccer matters) for Gothamist this season. As my first formal press gig since 2001, I am eagerly looking forward to waving a microphone in the faces of a bunch of players I’ve been following closely for much of the last two years.

This does mean I’m going to be leaving The Viper’s Nest (where I occasionally penned a piece or two) on a free transfer. Heartfelt thanks to Matt, Miguel, Tim, Brian, and the rest of the crew, who not only provide a constant stream of great discussion and passion for the team, but acted as fantastic guides to the long (and rather perplexing) history of this club. I was “chuffed” and “over the moon” to get to join them, and the RBNY world is better with them in it.

So with that story out of the way – keep watching for my coverage over the course of the season. If there’s one thing I’ve learned watching this team, it’s that win or lose, there’s always an interesting story to be told.

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.

In Praise Of Adam Kuban

Truffle Pile-On

I have met many of my best friends over pizza.

In 2004 and 2005, I found myself attending a couple of “Slice Club” meetups, a gathering for people (who like pizza) to meet other people (who also like pizza). While at the time I wouldn’t have considered myself a “foodie” – nor much of a “blogger” – these events introduced me to some really fantastic people, which began so many of my friendships (both directly and indirectly), spawned adventures in NYC and beyond, and triggered more parties than I can remember.

To that end, I owe a gigantic amount of love and respect to Adam Kuban, the founder of Slice NY, creator of Slice Club, and all around awesome guy. Ironically, I did not meet Adam through Slice Club – but his friendliness and efforts to get people together over a love of pizza (and burgers!) has perhaps impacted the last five years of my life more than I realized. (As was clearly evidenced by the outpouring of connection tracing on Twitter with so many friends this evening, I am not alone in this respect.)

Why mention this today? Adam has informed the world that he is leaving Serious Eats after four and a half years there. He has done a tremendous job as a part of Ed Levine’s team, and I’m sure his future exploits will be similarly amazing.

Adam Kuban

So, many thanks, Adam. I bet you didn’t think you’d change lives with a pizza blog, did you?

Moving Up

I am pleased to announce that effective March 21, 2011, I will be the *Associate Director of Design and Development* at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. (This will be my fifth position since I joined WCMC in 2004.)

While I traditionally have had trouble describing what exactly it is I do professionally, the specifics this time are quite clear: I will be leading a team of ~25 talented designers, programmers, administrators and managers in providing web solutions for both the college and the hospital. This is a massive undertaking to say the least, with a lot of work ahead to get my bearings and start forming a robust vision for web strategy at both institutions.

That said, I’m incredibly excited and humbled by the opportunity, and can’t wait to get started.

“LICENSE FEE: TRUCK NUTS PHOTO”

A Truck With Balls

Through a process that defies explanation, I have licensed the above 2005 “truck nuts” photo to Comedy Central’s tosh.0 for use as a punchline in the Jet Ski Parking “Video Breakdown”, which aired last week as part of episode 218. (It’s at 0:55 in the clip – blink and you will miss it.)
The check arrived today, and it does in fact read “LICENSE FEE: TRUCK NUTS PHOTO”.

License Fee: Truck Nuts Photo

(This differs slightly from the licensing agreement which stated the licensed material was a still photo of “truck with comedic testicular decoration on tailgate”.)

Sometimes I wonder what I did to ensure my life would be so constantly surreal.

Now We Are 30

Thirty thousand feet up, I am sitting in the corner. Sandra Bullock’s “The Proposal” is playing soundlessly on nine-inch screens throughout the cabin. I am seated next to an older European woman who keeps using her tray-table as a pillow and a nondescript man. The seatbelt sign is on. A poor simulacrum of dinner is sitting in my stomach despite my watch saying it’s barely 4PM. In five hours, I will stumble in to my hotel room for a few hours of sleep before jet lag snaps me awake and I get ready for the week ahead.

This is not how I had intended to spend my thirtieth birthday.

WWDC 2010 was announced to be the week of my birthday for the second time in my life, and as is tradition, I am heading to San Francisco to attend. The trip that encompassed my 25th was unforgettable, if for no other reason than the keynote where Apple dropped the Intel bomb. This is my fifth trip to WWDC, my seventh trip to San Francisco, my eighth time to California. It is both a blessing and a curse, a week full of seeing distant friends while simultaneously running myself into the ground. I am already looking forward to next weekend.

Last night, my mother decided to scan the first photo ever taken of me, being held by my father and screaming shortly after my birth. This morning, I asked Katie to take a new portrait of me. (I tend to reuse the same picture of myself everywhere online for years at a time, and the old one was getting long in the tooth.)

So this is what thirty years looks like:

To all my friends, know that you are all always in my heart even if circumstance keeps us apart. I could not imagine for a greater group of friends. I love you all.

To my family, who have always supported me unconditionally, know that I could have never become who I am without you. I love you all.

To my wife, who has stuck with me through every twist and turn I’ve thrown at her, know that you are my everything. I can’t wait to be home with you, and I’m already counting down the hours. I love you.