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  • Michael Krakovskiy 6:31 am on July 21, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Churchill, Cigars, India, , , Rosa Cubana, Soup Nazi's store   


    You know, living in New York you actually get to experience many Seinfeldian moments. The Soup Nazi’s store is shuttered and for sale, but it’s still there for the moment. Almost everyone I know, me including, got an unvitation (aka nonvite) to a wedding in India at least once. Loads of people are celebrating Festivus. And if you want, you can get to see Dominicans rolling cigars right before your own eyes. For 400 bucks you can hire them for your party (that comes out to 8 bucks per cigar which is not bad at all). Cigar rolling is a very intricate art and a very cool thing to watch.

    La Rosa Cubana cigar store/factory is located on 6th avenue between 30th and 31st.

    The guys there were kind enough to let me take a picture. Here is a cigar maker’s workstation, complete with inspiration.

    Unlike in that Seinfeld episode, these guys know how to roll cigars just right. Their King Churchill is very good.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:23 am on January 18, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Betel, Blah, India, Indian culture, Malaysian culture, Philippine culture, Shaman Palace, Shamanism, , , Thai culture, , Vietnamese culture   

    The World Is Your Spitoon 

    BoingBoing writers don’t seem to be able to shut up about betel lately. This reminded me of a 4th or 5th grade report on India (great friend of the Soviet Union, emerging economy, blah, blah) that I had to do in school back in the Soviet times.

    I remember the teacher get very interested about betel chewing and prematurely praise it as a great habit. Then I reminded her that importing such a thing would mean having to deal with bright red spit all over. It’s not like the Soviet Union did not have its own share of hygienically questionable customs.

    Back then Soviet sci-fi writers promised us Communism with goods being teleported right into our crystal palaces for free from anywhere on the globe. I guess that (and my flying car) did not work out, but today Capitalism brings us the ability to order almost anything from almost anywhere through electronic computers.

    So, if I want to try some betel all I need to do is pick between The Basement Shaman and Shaman Palace or many other fine merchants.

    Who knew that there are so many stores catering to shamans. At leats now I know where the Suburban Shaman.

    Hmm, I guess I could get one of these and try to rid my cubicle of the sick building syndrome.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:47 am on August 17, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Curves, , , India, , , Manhole cover, Michael Prior, Mimi, , , , Reuleaux triangle, Robert, , , ,   

    Personhole Covers 

    Forgetting for a second about my gender neutral language skills  let’s talk a bit about manhole covers.

    In case you haven’t noticed, they come in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes and designs. The designs are often amazingly elaborate and beautiful. Just like I am not the first programmer to be asked “why manholes are round and not square” in an interview, I am not the first person to notice and write about the designs.

    Probably the most popular photography book about manhole covers is Manhole Covers by Mimi and Robert  Melnick. I have it, and it’s outstanding. This time when I checked at Amazon, there was also Quilting With Manhole Covers – A Treasure Trove of Unique Designs from the Streets of Japan  as well as copycats Designs Underfoot and Treasures Underfoot.

    Amazon also has these kick ass fake covers for hanging on the wall (as it’s nearly impossible to hang a real 600 lb manhole cover and rim on a wall ).

    Just like there’s no shortage of books, there’s no shortage of websites as well. Staring into the hypnotic designs can be very relaxing.

    Why did I decide to write about manhole covers today? Simply because New York Post recently ran a story about a somewhat fleshy skateboarder who fell backwards onto an electrified Con Ed manhole cover.  That resulted in her getting literally branded with a design on her back. Even a few letters of “Con Edison” are visible:

    The girl is lucky – manhole covers are known to shoot high up in the air due to steam buildup– and a flying 600 lb cover could  leave a stronger impression.

    Also  it could be  “Made in India” instead of “Con Ed” as most of the new manhole covers are produced there for 25 cent a pound these days. There’s an excellent article about it from which I just have to pull a few choice quotes :

    “In India, the making of manhole covers is vastly man’s work – and it has been for generations. “They say the skill can only be done by a man,” Agarwal said. “The molding can never be done by a female.” “

    “The progressive nature of an otherwise primitive workplace exhibits itself in other ways. Inspirational sayings written in English are hung throughout the foundry, such as “Quality is free, but it is not a gift.”

    Ironically, few workers can read the sign, let alone the names of the cities on the covers they create.”

    Now, unless you are a programmer who’s encountered the ubiquitous manhole question, you must be wondering, what’s the right answer to the question? Why aren’t they square? Let me give you a geek’s answer.

    First of all they are not all round – there are square, rectangular, hexagonal and other ones. Here’s an  example a of a square manhole cover (Note “India” on the bottom). This is a small one, but much bigger ones exist as well, I just can’t find a good example that’s both square and says “India” right now.

    The answer they are expecting is that it is impossible to drop a round disk into a round hole of the same size. But there’s also a shape called the Reuleaux triangle that has the same property:

    With the help of a Reuleaux triangle shaped bit and a template  it’s possible to drill square holes. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find any of these drill bits for sale.

    Also, a round manhole cover is easier to roll. Duh. You might also  tell the interviewer about my fishing buddy Michael Prior’s echinterview.org and ‘s techinterviews.com

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