Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Hurricane Tales part 2

Part 2 of some of the more humorous moments from the past week, this one is about a simple task we all take for granted, filling our gas tanks.

Before the hurricane hit I had filled both of our cars with gas, which turned out to be a good thing.  I knew that stations might be without power and unable to pump gas, but had no idea how bad the search for gas would be after the storm passed.

New Jersey instituted an odd/even gas system reminiscent of the early 1970 gas crisis in the US.  The rationing certainly seems to have eased the lines a bit, though people are still lining up and waiting to fill their tanks.

We have two cars one ‘odd’ and one ‘even’.  The minivan which we had driven to Brooklyn is the ‘even’ car.  On Sunday the gas lines in Brooklyn (which is in NY and not subject to the odd/even system) stretched for blocks and blocks.  Walking around I even saw a couple of people pushing their car along the line.  I decided the best thing to do was to simply preserve the half of tank of gas I had in the van, so it sat parked, and waiting.  It was enough to get us back home, and a little further, but sooner or later we were going to need to fill it up.

On Monday (an odd day) I woke up at 4:45 AM, and set out to find gas which happily I did only waiting in line about 30 minutes.  We wanted to go home on Monday, but once home could not get gas in the ‘even’ van on an odd day.  I briefly considered the option of putting the cars plates on the van just to fill up, but decided the risk was to great if anything happened between my house and the gas station.

So here I was on this gas line at 5:00 in the morning, chatting with a NYC cop.

Gas Line

Cop: I see you are from NJ

Me: Yep, and I am hoping to get back there today, but I can’t fill up in NJ today because it is an odd day

Cop: You could always trade license plates with someone

Me: My other car has an odd plate, I thought about switching plates, but if I met any of your friends along the way I might be in a bit of trouble

Cop: They would just issue you a summons

Me: I think i will just wait in line here and fill up

Needless to say I did not follow the cops advice, in fact I was a bit surprised he suggested it.  So I waited a relatively short 30 minutes and since I was in NY (not NJ and it’s absurd full service only law) I filled the tank myself, squeezing every last drop of gas that the tank would hold. Both cars now have enough gas to get us into next week when the lines will hopefully have eased out.

Hurricane Tales part 1

Do I need to be registered to vote?

Classic West Wing Scene from Election Night

(Thanks to Rabbi B for finding the clip, it was on my mind but with power outages and no internet I had forgotten about it)

Hurricane Tales part 1

I am going to attempt to share some of the funnier moments from the past week while we were without power and displaced from our home. Here is the first installment.

On Tuesday when We realized we would be without power for a while, we packed up our refrigerator and freezer, grabbed some clothes and headed to my parents in Brooklyn who fortunately had power.

We consider ourselves very lucky to have a place to go, not everyone without power is so lucky, but apparently the accommodations were not quite good enough for everyone.

At bedtime on Tuesday Abe, age 4 1/2 was not happy. You see the last time we slept away from home was our family vacation last August. In the hotel Abe, and his twin brother Jack shared a bedroom which had a TV and bathroom, things they don’t have in their room at home.

So here we are away from home and what is Abe upset about? He wanted a TV and bathroom in his room. Twenty minutes of tears and somehow we resolved his problem.

We asked my parents to consider adding on a bathroom before the next blackout…. Don’t hold your breath.

The City Geeks Hurricane Survival Guide

For the second time in a year we find ourselves with out power for an exteneded period of time. Last year after escaping hurricane Irene with no issues at all in August, we lost power for a week in the crazy October snowstorm. Ironically one year later to the date hurricane Sandy blew through and knocked out our power, to be restored who knows when (Best Estimate is at least a week).

We are very lucky for a number of reasons

1. No one in our family was hurt in the storm
2. We did not suffer any any real property damage
3. We have family with power nearby we are able to go stay with

So while we are frustrated to be out of our house again, we are clearly better off than people who lost homes, property, or even loved ones in the storm.  If you know a hurricane is headed your way by all means take care to prepare for the storm, put away loose items around your home, stock up on drinking water and other necessities, gas up your cars.  When all the real prep is done turn your attention to the more geeky preparations, here are mine.

1. Charge up your phones, and have a plan to recharge them.  On Monday when the storm was coming I kept my phone and iPad plugged in all day just so they  would be topped off when the inevitable power loss came.   I also have a number of batteries that can charge devices which I had plugged in and ready to go as seen here

Those are a few New Trent Devices, 2 of which can also charge iPads, and the every geeky wrist charger from ThinkGeek.  While we can charge our phones in our cars, the car needs to be running, which means opening the garage door, not necessarily a good idea in a hurricane, and would also waste gas which has become a precious commodity in the days following the storm.

2. Stretch your battery life.  Once the power goes out you want to get the most you can out of your batteries.  Without power your Wifi is dead, turn off wifi on your devices, turn off bluetooth, lower your screen resolution, enable battery saving mode if you have one.   Basically do whatever you can to get the most out of your precious battery life.

3. Text instead of calling – it is both easier in the days after a storm when phones were not working too well, and easier on your battery. (A plain old cell phone is also an excellent option if you need to make calls, I keep one around for such occasions and can route my incoming calls to it using Google Voice)

4. Load up your iPad for entertainment, sure you have Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and Hulu installed, that won’t do you any good without power and wifi (or will be too expensive on your battery if you have a data plan on your iPad).  I always keep my iPad loaded up with TV and Movies I can watch in a power outage.   Since I am an old fashioned book reader not an e-reader I have that option too with a flashlight, but it is nice to have options.

5. Have a wifi plan – Last year when we lost power we moved in to my in-laws house for the better part of a week, sure they had heat, and power but no wifi, it took me a couple of days until I had a chance to pick up a router.  Fortunately for my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece and nephews I left that router in place as they are now staying at my in-laws until they get power back.   A couple of weeks ago I ordered one of these (Chris has a review of it here)to keep in my bag, it is now functioning as a repeater in my parents house giving us Wifi where we need it.

That is all I have, it is never fun to be in a hurricane or any other natural disaster, we know what is really important but after that a little geek never hurt.

Formula One car drives the Lincoln Tunnel

I wish I could get through the Lincoln Tunnel that quickly.

Building the (Lego) Space Shuttle Expedition

Back in June on Fathers day my wife surprised me with the Lego Space Shuttle set.  I had my eye on this for a while and was very excited build it. The set is 1230 pieces, not sorted in any logical or easy to find order.

that is a lot of lego to build

It probably took in the area of 4 hours total to build the Shuttle and another couple of hours to complete the fuel tank, booster rockets, and launchpad.

The level of detail and the custom pieces Lego crafts to design these sets is just incredible, though I am convinced the designers are equal parts brilliant and evil.  Brilliant for the way they design it to be as realistic as possible, evil for some of the tiny pieces they ship and combinations they come up with to assemble.

I had a great time building it, and it is now sitting in it’s launch pad safely out of my kids reach in my home office.  My kids seem to think that they are going to get to play with the shuttle, I wonder how long it will take them to realize they are not getting their hands on it.

Of course I took lots of pictures along the way though I learnt my lesson and if I do this again I need to make sure I take the photographs in a more consistent manner.  Thanks to Carl for helping me put this video clip together.

You can also see the photos on Flickr

Now to figure out what to build next.


Repeat After Me

Yes I watched the whole game last night, though I was really fading at the end.

Bart Simpson Chalkboard Generator

The Giants are Super Bowl Champions

What a game, you can see all my Tweets from the game here.  One more thing, this time this page is up to stay.


Which one am I?

I know I have been talking about the Super Bowl quite a bit this week here, here and here (maybe even here too), but hey the Giants are in the big game and I am excited.   For a little fun today can you pick which of these Super Bowl party goers I might be? Leave a comment with which one you think I am, and let me know which one best describes you.

Lets Go Giants

Lets Go Giants!

The Future Belongs to the Curious

Would it surprise you to find out I enjoyed this video?

The Future Belongs to the Curious from Skillshare on Vimeo.

via The Next Web