Monday, August 30, 2010

Beach Days

As much as I have been dreading it, I know that cooler weather is coming. Once it cools off here I will be moving to London where there is nothing but cool weather so I felt like I needed to enjoy the heat while I could. What better way than to go to the beach. On Saturday I took the subway down to Coney Island with my friend E. The idea of not being able to stash my wallet in the car made me just bring $10 and my subway pass. I brought the wrong subway pass so had to pay for the subway ride. When we got to Coney Island I thought it would be fun to go one last time to Nathan's Hotdogs since it is part of the Coney Island experience but I felt like a little kid again making sure I had money for lunch and still have enough for my ride home.
After we ate we jumped right into the water. As we were wading around (there were no waves and lifeguards wouldn't let us go to deep because of the rip tides) the water felt lumpy. We realized that there were small jellyfish in the water. I guess they were to young to sting us but it felt like we were swimming in bubble tea. E. got out of the water as fast as she could saying "Eww eww eww eww" We sat for a while and got bored watching people dance to some Puerto Rican music so we went into the water again since no one was getting stung. Knowing that what we were feeling were jellyfish (basically clear marbles) we didn't stay long and just headed home.
On Sunday we drove to Far Rockaway beach. There were waves so my friends D. and E. and I bobbed up and down with waves ranging from 2-4 feet. There was also enough wind that I was able to finally try out my contraption I had built to hook up a camera to a kite (it is called Kite Aerial Photography). I can't believe it worked so well. The kite didn't bounce around like it did at burning man so there was no problem launching the kite then tying on the camera when it got high enough. The only problem was that there was only barely enough wind to keep it up. I launched it twice and it came down gently both times. While it was up it balanced perfectly and the camera pointed at just the angle that I had built it to so I was pretty happy with the results even if the highest it got was only about 50 feet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Brooklyn Pool Hall

As much as I like playing pool I've never been to a pool hall. (Usually I played at people's houses or at school where there is only one or two tables.) So when my new neighbor asked I was more than happy to go. It had a very 70's feel to the place from music the DJ was playing. Which is really funny since any Brooklyn pool hall in the 70's would not have a live DJ.
He taught me things I never would have thought of for a pool hall, such as finding the best table, the importance of the weight of cue stick, the best way of setting up the next shot, and the rules of 9 ball (which I really had a fun time playing.)
He also showed me a great mexican food place across the street from the pool hall. I am really liking this since the cheese tamale and Conchas (Mexican Sweet Bread) really reminded me of home. I knew that it would be hard to find good Mexican food in London so I had no problem gorging on the smoothness of the guacamole and tasting the tangy lime in the pico de gallo. (Both things that I have not tasted outside of California.)
I couldn't resist going back and playing pool and eating cheese tamales there on Saturday by myself and dragging my friend D. along on Sunday for both activities.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dim Sum

After cleaning out my old apartment I moved in with my friend in Brooklyn until I left for London to try and save up some extra money. Near his house is a bar that has a lot of old 80's arcades. So when I arrived we of course had to go there in celebration. Playing a lot of these old games brings back a lot of memories for me and since they are all still just a quarter dropping $5 for a couple hours of fun is half the price of going to a movie. It is funny how I never would have thought dropping $5 in quarters into arcade games as a kid.
Anyway a New York Times article talked about an arcade that was still in existence from the 80's in Chinatown. We had to go to compare it to the local place. Since we were headed to chinatown I had asked some of the guys at work the best Dim Sum place since it was something that I wanted to do before leaving New York City. My co-workers referred me to place called Jing Fong.
Chinatown is in the old part of the city with very narrow streets and the restaurant did not look like that much from the outside. but once through the door the escalator led up to a second floor dining hall that had to be 100' across and 200' long. It was packed with tables and around 30-40 Dim Sum carts getting pushed around by old Chinese ladies that pretty much only knew enough english to say the names of the type of Dim Sum on their cart. Everything we got was delicious, although we did pass up on the duck tongues and chicken feet. The walls were covered with red velvet and the ceiling and pillars were covered in the gaudy shiny gold that only a chinese restaurant can get away with and there was family style we had some experts that sat down next to us. They hunted out the carts with their favourite dishes among the 100's being offered instead of pulling stuff off the nearest Dim Sum cart. They came back to the table with shrimp wrapped in these white see-through crepes and giant rice balls wrapped in banana leaves. We left stuffed with it only costing $20 for three people. An unheard of low price for Manhattan. We also picked up some dragon fruit from the street vendors and I gotta say that stuff is delicious. It tastes like a cross between kiwi and watermelon.
The arcade we came for actually ended up being quite a let down. All the games were from the 90's so they were all a dollar making it loose the cheapness fun factor. We did have fun playing Dance Dance Revolution (I thoroughly embarrassed myself at how bad I did.) but the rest of the place seemed a little depressing with how many of the games were broken.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

London Paperwork

I have hit a big snag. One of the big things that changed when all the healthcare was passed was that they also restructured how student loans are administered too. There will be no more public banks handling student loans, just the government. That is great for cutting wasteful spending but the school I'm going to is not registered with the U.S. government to handle loans. I'm pretty sure that everything isn't fully in effect until 2014 but as a foreign school they are not letting any U.S. students register for a student loan until their paperwork is in order with the U.S. government. The main reason that I need to get a student loan is because for the student visa you have to show around $10,000 in a bank account to show you can pay for living expenses. As much as I'd like to say I've got that much stashed away just waiting for school the whole thing with my wife being out of work most of the last year from her being sick dampened our money saving ability. I did everything I could to fill out the paperwork, send it in to the school, get my research statement approved so that it matched up with the paragraph that the school submitted matched for my background check, and submitted all that paperwork to the school I'm not really sure what they checked on me, but since computers could be considered a "weapon of mass destruction" I have to pass through extra security as compared to say, a lit major.
To get my visa I have to submit my background check, paperwork for my loan, and a magical secret number that proves that a real school wants me to come over. With those forms and questions on the application like questions "have you ever been involved in or committed genocide" with the very next question: "Have you engaged in any other activities that might indicate that you may not be considered a person of good character?" I got to submit finger prints and my photo to a federal building in Manhattan. I just keep being worried that I am forgetting something and it will delay me past the start date.