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  • Michael Krakovskiy 8:25 pm on November 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brighton Beach, , , , , Sheepshead Bay bridge, Thanksgiving, ,   

    Sandy Aftermath 

    It’s calm. A good time for some meditation.

    The building windows still have the useless tape crosses, some probably still from Irene.

    Tons of sand are removed from the streets

    Beach is where it was not before

    Most of the messed up cars have been towed, but some streets are still full of sand

    Garbage imbedded in fences

    The iconic Shore Hotel sign twisted in the wind

    Nathans is full of water and sand

    Brighton’s old ladies are back on the benches though

    This limo probably spent some time under water

    Dirt marks the high water line

    Brighton beach streets are never particularly tidy, but now businesses have basements full of water

    This cab has seen better days for sure

    The swans are back. I wonder where they went for the storm. The Sheepshead Bay bridge is all jacked up though.

    Getting into Manhattan is a pain in the ass.

    Buses think that they are trains

    Downtown Manhattan is eery – it’s dark and there’s no cell reception. Cops set up flares by the bus route

    Getting back into Brooklyn is even more of a pain. Cops have no idea where the shuttle buses stop saying that they are not MTA, and MTA employees send you in the wrong direction. Streets by the bus routes are lit by road flares. Only the Empire State Building is lit. It’s red – orange – yellow in honor of Thanksgiving.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:35 pm on January 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ATM, , Brighton Beach, brilliant programmer, closest bank, computer programmer, DNS, Dr. Watson, favorite support engineer, Hot Air Balloon, , , Natural Disaster, , , Rebecca, Sarah, search algorithms, Shlomo, , Watson   

    Technically Correct 

    “Bureaucrat Conrad, you are technically correct — the best kind of correct.” (Futurama, 2acv11: How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back).

    Today I would like to talk to you about an afflicion that affects a large number ot tech workers: a penchant for finding the most technically correct and the most useless way to answer one’s queries.

    Here’s an example of my interaction with my favorite support engineer at our hosting company. We were chatting about DNS setup, and it was perfectly clear to him that what I meant to ask was “is it an A record or a CNAME record”.

    “2:31 PM me: what kind of a record is it?
    2:31 PM him: A DNS record :)”

    This brand of humor probably has its beginnings in early computer games, like Zork, where the computer would answer your questions only when they were asked “correctly”. Techies often take this kind of humor to ridiculous extremes.

    For instance, I have a high school friend, L. A brilliant programmer, he likes to think that it’s hilarious to answer every single question this way. L lives in New York. I once was talking to another friend of mine, R, who is not a techie and who lives in Boston. I was telling her about L’s penchant for being technically correct. I illustrated this phenomenon with an old Soviet joke:

    “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a hot air balloon ride. A storm took the balloon above the clouds, and after a few days brought it down close to the ground. Below a man was herding sheep.

    • “Where are we?” – Dr. Watson cried to him.
    • The man looked at them and replied – “You are in a hot air balloon.”

    The wind once again picked up and pulled the balloon beyond clouds.

    • “What do you think that man’s profession is?” – asked Holmes.
    • “Why, he’s a shepherd” – answered Watson.
    • “No, he’s a computer programmer”.
    • “Why do you think so?”
    • “Elementary, my dear Watson. His answer was technically correct, but absolutely useless. So, where do you think we are now?”
    • “I have no idea – he didn’t say, did he?”
    • “We are in the Soviet Union.”
    • “Why?”
    • “A computer programmer is herding sheep.””

    My friend laughed, but I insisted that L was really like that in real life.

    A few months later R called me and said, “You won’t believe this story. I was in New York, walking down Brighton beach. I really needed to get some cash. I asked a passerby – “Excuse me, where’s the closest ATM?”. “Why, in the closest bank, of course” – he answered with a smile. R stared for a bit, and then said, “say, is your name L, by any chance?””.

    It was indeed L, whom she randomly met in NYC.

    I laughed, and told her another, old Jewish joke about search algorithms and certain applications of the Drake Equation.

    “Two Jews, one young and one old, are riding Kiev – Odessa train. The old one is looking at the young one and thinking to himself –

    “This young man, he’s either going to get off at Zmerinka or at Odessa. You only go to Odessa to make money or to spend money. He’s too young to make money and too shabbily dressed to spend money, so he’s going to Zmerinka. You only go to Jmerinka for weddings or for funerals. Nobody died for a while, so he’s going to a wedding. He’s not carriying a present, so he’s going to his own wedding. There are only two eligible brides – Sarah and Rebecca. But Rebecca just got married, so this means he’s going to marry Sarah. Sarah is not very good looking and has a bad temper, so only a total putz would marry her. Now, who’s a total putz in Kiev?”

    • “Excuse me, are you Shlomo, Moishe Rabinowitz’s son?” – he asks the younger gentleman.

    “Yes I am, do you know me?” – says they youngster.
    “No, I don’t know you,” – says the old man – “but I figured you out”.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 4:05 am on September 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 30 Rock, , , Brighton Beach, , Die Hard, Jane Krakowski, John McClane, , Kenneth Cole Productions, Larry David, Louisiana, Massive Dynamic headquarters, , , , , , , , , The Birth of a Shoe Company   

    Cinematic New York 

    When you live and work in New York, you spend a huge amount of time on tv and movie sets. Most of the time the sets are abandoned by the shooting crews, but very frequently tv or movie magic is happening as you are walking by.

    Why is New York so overrepresented on screen? Part of it is because it’s New York. But it’s also because the city government is also very friendly to the moving picture industry.

    When I worked on a website for Kenneth Cole, I learned an interesting factoid: the real name of this fashion powerhouse is Kenneth Cole Productions. It turns out that in the early days they abused a perk that the city gives to movie people: ability to park their huge trailers in places where normally only city services vehicles can linger. Cole applied for a permit to shoot a movie called “The Birth of a Shoe Company”, parked a huge truck in front of a hotel where a major shoe show was taking place, and proceeded to sell enough shoes while cameras were rolling (sometimes even with film) to start a company.

    While watching a movie or a show set in New York I get a lot of “oh, hey it’s” and a lot of “hmm, where’s that?” moments. Sometimes a movie or a show becomes more memorable just because its locations are so familiar to me.

    Let me give you some examples about how cinematically impregnated my environs are. Take, for instance 30 Rock. I spent 7 years working in two buildings that are behind 30 Rock, and every little thing in, under and over Rockefeller plaza is seared in my brain. Also, I have the same last name of one of the actors (is Jane Krakowski a relative? Probably not).

    The 47-50th Street/Rockefeller Center subway station that I got out at almost every day for those 7 years (unless I missed a few stops while reading or sleeping) is the one featured in a key scene in Darren Aranofsky’s “Pi”. The Brighton Beach bus stop in “Requiem for a Dream” – one of my first American jobs was right there, handing out fliers for a gypsy psychic. One of the buildings where I worked, 1211 Avenue of the Americas was very subtly featured as Sideshow Bob’s prisoner number in a Simpson’s episode.

    Sterling Cooper corporate headquarters are famously located at a non-existing 405 Madison Avenue. On the other hand 415 Madison Avenue is a very real building where my wife used to work.

    When I go to and from work now, I pass a grating which John McClane ripped off in one of the Die Hard movies to jump on the top of a moving train. The building where I work? Well, it doubles as the Massive Dynamic headquarters on “Fringe”. They do a lot of shooting at the floor where I work. You can see our big conference room called “Jail” in a number of commercials. You know, Doctor House, he’s supposed to stay in New Jersey, but one time he slept on “my” couch at the office after shooting a commercial there. The butterflies of doom from Fringe also live in “Jail”.

    Ironically, the only famous person who went to my hight school is Larry David, the co-creator of a certain show about nothing set in New York, but shot in LA.

     
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