When I lived in Odessa, Ukraine, I once encountered a most strange cat. Odessa used to have a huge open air book market, right in the middle of the city. Kind of like a much larger and organized version of the street booksellers in front of NYU. Me and my dad spent a lot of our time and money there. On one of our trips, my dad pointed out a cat sitting in a tree near the book market. On a number of our visits there that stretched over weeks and months, the cat was still there. Water and food dishes appeared there. Somebody told us that the cat apparently went a bit crazy and refused to leave the tree (even though it wasn’t a very high one). Kind hearted booksellers started to feed the cat. I am not sure exactly how long the cat stayed in the tree, or if he or she ever left it.

New York has strange cats of its own. Subway cats. The most famous one of those, Schatzie the cat that lives in the Fulton Street station, according to Randy Kennedy’s book “Subwayland : Adventures in the World Beneath New York.” The mice and rat population must make living near the deadly third rail and moving trains possible for cats. Sadly, eating those rodents must be pretty dangerous too, because they are frequently poisoned.

Well, I found a subway cat of my own under the platforms of the Kings Highway station.

Actually I spotted two, a tabby and a tuxedo, but was able to take a picture only of the tabby. She sat there calmly, not bothered by my flash. I hope she’ll stay safe there.

Drink At Joe’s

Believe it or not, but finally there’s a coffee place in Manhattan that I can recommend. It is hard to believe that this lasted for so long. Read this famous NYT article by William Grimes to understand just how miserable the situation was. So when livejournal user mityanyc first told me about this new place I was a bit skeptical, but it turned out to be the real deal.

The cafe is somewhat unimaginatively called “Joe” and looks just like any other espresso place in the Village. A small space with a few tables barnacled with PowerBooks toting hipsters and paper grading NYU professors, a shelf with pre-packed coffee beans, a large espresso machine, a couple of commercial grinders and a counter full of pastries.

What sets this place apart is the fact that the owner, Joe Jonathan, actually spent some time researching the subject of proper espresso drink making. The machine is a La Marzocco. The coffee – from a very high quality roaster and is ground to order. The tamper (I think it was an ErgoTamper) perfectly fits the portafilter and the barrista actually knows how to use it. And guess what – every latte is served with a rosetta.

For the purposes of this review I ordered an espresso ristretto and a small latte. The latte was perfect – “microfoam“, rosetta, sweet tasting milk. Very tasty. Espresso was passable – good amount of crema, not too bitter. The color of the crema was brown, without overextracted whitish inclusions, but also without “tiger striping” and that brown reddish glow. A very respectable result, similar to what I get at home most of the time. With a few tries and very fresh shipment of Schomer’s beans I get tiger striping/flecking and the espresso tastes better.

I wanted to buy some beans to review, but they did not have any espresso roast left.

While I stood outside taking a picture, two men walked by me, and one pointed to “Joe” and said to the other: “ah, so that’s the place that everyone’s talking about”. Indeed.

Joes is located at 141 Waverly Pl., it’s just past Waverly Restaurant (see picture at the bottom of this post) that looks like the diner where Seinfeld characters hung out. The closest subway station is West 4th Street on IND. 6th Ave line.

I Have A Degree In Danger

There’s an article called “Degrees Of Danger” in today’s copy of the paper that was founded by a proponent of a strong central government and the author of the Federalist Papers. The article is about crime in and around colleges and universities. There’s a punch list of crimes that happened between 2000 and 2002, from which I selected three bullets.

* NYU : 5,707 pot and drug busts near the campus
* Princeton : 26 sex offenses
* Brooklyn College : two homicides near campus

My Alma Mater scores low on the drugs and sex, but high on murders. says that this is typical of America vs Europe. He might have a point there.


There used to be a little novelty store near NYU called Starmagic. I think I bought a deck of Tarot cards there, and some slinkies over the years. Then it disappeared leaving only an empty shell of a room with weird conduit pipes hanging from the ceiling. Seeing it empty at night made me realize how tiny that store was and how crammed with silly-space-age-glow-in-the-dark-made-in-China-tchockes it was. Goodbye, Starmagic.

Oral Picard on a Spiral Staircase or Otterby dAttabroth

I’ve started what I am hoping to be my last semester at Brooklyn College. I am taking a speech course and a database management course.

The speech course is taught by an professor from NYU who looks very much like Captain Picard. He repeats himself a lot, tells cheesy stories and does not like my comments. The syllabus says that we “will be graded on oral performance”. Yeah, huh. I guess if I don’t miss too many classes and don’t piss him off too badly I should pass. Oh, and the class starts at 9 AM on Sunday. And there are no places where I can get an espresso. Arrrgh.

The professor who teaches the second class annoys me in oh so many ways. First of all he always smiles. Literally, says every word with a smile. Secondly, he teaches by example rather than by explaining. In the speech class we talked about non-verbal communication, and the professor didn’t much like my comment about a test for engineering thinking , which goes like this: you ask a person to quickly define a spiral staircase.

A person who thinks like an engineer will explain verbally , for instance, that a spiral staircase is a staircase that was bent into a spiral. A non-engineering type will try to explain with gestures : “you know, it’s a staircase like [whistles and makes spiraling gestures]” or examples – “ya know – like that staicase at Bill’s house”

How did you do?

Well, instead of explaining, this database professor gives examples. And spends lots and lots of time writing example tables and data on the blackboard (when he could have just given everybody xeroxed examples from his notes).

His accent is pretty heavy. I’ll write phonetic spelling of some of his pronunciations, and you try to guess what it means:

“Otterby” – “order by “
“sIkkle” – “single “
“valU” – “value”
“noW” (this is a tricky one) – “NULL”
“dAttabroth” – “\date of birth”

That’s not too hard to get used to though.

We’ll Take Your Money

No, I am not talking about NYU here, even though “We’ll Take Your Money” is its unofficial motto. The official one is “Perstare et Praestare” – “To Persevere and Excel”. Yep, not PowerPoint. Excel.

Hmm, I wonder what other interesting unofficial mottos other colleges have. Brooklyn College’s official motto is “Nil Sine Magno Labore” – “Nothing Without Great Effort”. I know that firsthand. This is especially true about registering for classes. There is no popular unofficial motto, but if there was one, it would probably be pretty profane.

Cornell’s “Deus Et Humanitas” – “God and Humanity” is sometimes mistranslated as “God Went To Cornell”. And MIT’s “Mens et Manus” doesn’t mean “A man and his hand”. Well, what can expect from them, their mascot is a beaver.

Whoops, I got sidetracked. I wanted to write about charities. You see, I use Yahoo!Shopping a lot. As you spend money, they give you points. You can get some crappy merchandise for those points or you can also donate the points to a charity from There are 850,000 charities in their database. Pretty interesting. If you search, let’s say, for “goat”, you can find “American Dairy Goat Association”. Search for “butt” brings forth hilarious results, like
“Friends of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library”
“Charles C. Butt Foundation”
“HE Butt Foundation”
“Hurl Butt Street School House, Inc.”
and absolutely bizzare

And they all can take your money.

Me? I am going to donate those points to my usual charity – The International Dark-Sky Association.