Surival of the Fittest


I have come to the conclusion that I have been very lucky. I rarely have to travel to see family.... Which means that on days like Thanksgiving I have been able to marvel at travel horror stories. To be honest, I sometimes questioned the accuracy of the stories and wondered if perhaps better planning could have helped my friends/coworkers/colleagues.

Having made it through the traveling experience (NYC to Boston and back) in one piece, I feel like I can actually comment on this experience now. To be clear, I only went through Penn Station but that was pretty bananas. I saw couples fighting, luggage falling, babies strapped to parents, and news crews there to film it all. See I even took a picture as evidence ....
Sorry it's just of the news guy not the many many couples falling apart over Which track number they should be lining up for. I'm not perfect. I know this. Hell, the people that see my Sunday traveling outfit probably think I'm homeless... Until I take out my iPad that is.

But during my Thanksgiving trip home I decided to keep a list of all the things I found annoying about my fellow passengers.
  1. cellphone conversations that last through more than one state.
  2. immediate friendships with fellow seatmates. I'm not jealous of your friendship. You can keep it - but I really don't want to hear you swapping life stories as she praises you for opening her new headphones clam-shell case with your teeth. Not special 
  3. bananas. I don't even need to say anything else.
  4. respect for the line. I would love to know what goes through peoples minds when tracks numbers are announced or the train arrives and the doors open. I was clearly in front of you and so were the 8 grandmas you pushed out of the way.
  5. seat holding. There was a particularly bold woman on my trip back to NYC that held an extra seat for her 2nd blackberry and XXX vitamin water despite the fact that it was a SOLDOUT train. It's one thing to just put your stuff there but a whole other thing to lie and say the seat is taken. Karma is a bitch lady.
  6. smelly food. Yep, I know that I already wrote bananas but this happened more than once so you are going to read about it more than once.
So you don't think I am a cold, heartless wench of a 20-something. I have also made a short list of a few things that are totally okay with me.
  1. parents coordinating with children ... Especially when the kids are responsible for picking up the parents
  2. bringing a near excessive amount of loved ones to the train station to say goodbye
  3. taking a homemade pie on the train - even if you didn't share.
  4. sleeping children. Actually especially sleeping children...
Already looking forward to Christmas...

Thanksgiving Recap


I meant to post this video before Thanksgiving but alas life got in the way... and so here it is after Thanksgiving.

I can't think of a holiday at home with family without thinking of this classic Ze Frank vid. I seriously laugh outloud each time I watch it. I strongly recommend checking out some of his others as well - but this is one of the best.

Who can't relate to that?

Although he's not doing video blogs this year, he did post a great collection of cat videos that I'm sure my sister will love.

Its Christmas


so get ready.

I f-ing love Christmas. At some point, I'll write a post with perhaps a top ten list of my reasons but until then you'll just have to trust me.

My family is very laid back when it comes to holidays for the most part - except for Christmas. We love to decorate for the season... and as a result we were completely full-swing on the season as of yesterday ... before December 1st.

Since I'm spending more time in NYC these days especially during my favorite holiday season, I'm coming up with a list of things I'd love to try and do.... one of them ice skating. I'm honestly not sure why I really want to do this because I haven't skated in YEARS.... but I'm going to give it a shot. My friend Ria told me that there are 3 good "holiday" rinks to check-out so that's what I'm aiming for.
Rockefeller Center
So here are the ones that I'm targeting ... in no particular order:
  1. Rockefeller Center
  2. Bryant Park 
  3. Wollman Rink in Central Park
Since I'll probably be skating solo, I will have some really great self-portraits (joking) but at least there won't be anyone to capture me falling on my ass. Always looking for the upside.

So I've been busy


One of the benefits of my blog is that I consider it almost like a repository of the things that I've done / seen / read / found .... so I feel a little guilty when I'm not on top of posting. Work has gotten busy recently and so the idea of posting 5 times a week is completely out of the question. At the end of the day I want to simply collapse in my Hilton bed and let the Chex Mix crumbs collect on the covers as I fall asleep. Yep, I eat from the mini bar at night when its been a long day. Sue me. I'm happy to pay a 200% premium on the personal size bag of Chex mix - you want to know why? I'll tell you. Its because if it wasn't a personal size bag, I would eat the whole damn thing.


You probably want to know if I saw any celebrities last week - or maybe you don't but I'm sure going to tell you anway.

I saw Bob Costas and Cris Collinsworth - both on Friday and both during my Amtrak adventures. No really crazy observations like last weeks sightings of scandalous politicians.... but Bob Costas is much shorter than I would have imagined. Although I'm pretty sure I never put much thought into how tall he was before...

I keep seeing all these people on my way to the train - never on the train - maybe someday I'll get that lucky.

An Actor, A Politician, and A Chef.... quite the afternoon


As I previously alluded to on Twitter, I had a trifecta of "celeb" sightings on Friday.

I'm a pretty big celeb gossip follower. I don't have a particular celeb that I follow or am invested in - I just find it to be one great way to waste some precious time. (Sidenote: A few years ago, I actually gave up celebrity gossip for Lent).

Since I've been in NYC, the celebrity sightings have been few and far between - perhaps you remember when I saw "Wolfie" from Nine by Design and Gary Busey. Since then... NOTHING.

Then Friday happened.

I got to Penn Station a smidge earlier than I normally would for my noon Acela home to Beantown. Procured my Auntie Annie's pretzels and took a seat in the Acela lounge. This dude came into the lounge sporting sunglasses and a hat inside... huge give away. Turns out it was Victor Garber. Normal people would probably remember him from Alias or other shows/movies. Me? I remember him from "First Wives Club". Yep, I'm that kind of special.
To be honest, I didn't remember his name, nor could I clearly hear him say his last name when he checked in... but after wracking my brain for a solid hour I remembered he was in FWC.

Then, Charles Rangel walked into the lounge. He was pretty boring - except the fact that he was rocking a slightly pretentious red pocket square.
I also didn't know who he was but knew he was a politician that was embroiled in a bit of scandal. This morning when I was getting ready in my hotel room I saw Rangel's mug on the screen in regards to his current ethics scandal. Today he was featured on the MSNBC homepage after he walked out of his own hearing. Apparently he decided that he didn't have enough time to prepare and now wanted to get a lawyer (despite previously declaring he would act as his own lawyer to save cash money). The 80 year old is being charged accused of 13 counts of financial and fundraising misconduct that violated House rules. Sounds like he's been naughty.

Lastly ... and most exciting if you ask me. I saw Tom Colicchio get off the Acela right before I got on. My dad is generous enough to share with me his Amtrak Acela upgrade coupons, so I was waiting to get on the First Class car when Mr. Top Chef judge hopped off.

I'm a pretty big "Top Chef" fan and can say I've watched all the seasons pretty faithfully with the exception of the "Washington DC" season. It seemed not so exciting to me. I wonder if Tom liked the food service on the Acela and which option he selected for his lunch: the crab cakes, asian chicken, or the beef sliders. Personally, I preferred the Asain Chicken... I'm sure he cares.

Penn Station can be exciting

So, I promised an update last week about my celeb sighting from Friday... and its coming I promise.

But, I figured a bit of a teaser would be fair since one of my "celeb"s is currently featured on the homepage.
Source: homepage at 11:30 AM

Yep, last Friday Charles Rangel was in the Acela Lounge as I patiently waited for the train back to Boston.

So now you know 1 of the 3 people I sighted at Penn Station on Friday. Stay tuned to hear the others... I know you are just riveted.

The meaning of life?


A few weeks ago I posted a picture of a coffee mug that a family friend had given me ... that calmly instructed me to breathe deeply... now, I'm for sure working on that although the mug gets less use since its not travel friendly.

My mom gave me this pack of gum the other day that kind of fits into the same category as the mug.

I don't want to spoil the surprise for you in the event you are getting ready to run out to the store and buy your own "meaning of life" gum.... but I didn't figure out the meaning yet.

Still Confused. Still Hopelessly in love with technology.

Cool Art


I'm a "business" person. I like the internet, spreadsheets, Google ... etc. When I try to be creative, it is usually in something that I can design via Excel. I'm not kidding. I "design" quilts via Excel and count fabric and what not that way. I'm pretty sure that is not what Bill Gates has in mind when he opens Microsoft Excel - but its one of the uses I have.

Regardless. I'm not super creative. I'm not a huge museum person either - you can ask my sister about our trip to Dublin. I almost waited outside the Museum of Natural something or other for her because I just didn't want to look at giant canvases.

BUT. I do appreciate art ...

There is this really neat exhibit called "Scattered Light" by Jim Campbell in the park outside my office building in NYC. I took a pretty poor picture with my Blackberry so here is one that was on the Mad Sqr Park website.
Source: Mad Sqr Art describes the exhibit as "is a 50-foot-long array on an 80-foot wide, 16-foot-high and 16-foot-deep structure supporting over 1,600 lightbulbs fitted with LEDs, which are programmed to display a low-resolution, moving image as individual pixels.

I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to describe how cool this display is - so here is the video that accompanies the Switched article.
It's pretty neat and I really love checking it out each night when I leave the office. If anyone ever visits me in NYC, I'm probably going to make them see this.

So be warned.

Wednesday is Link Day

So, I've been a little bit occupied with life (ahem, work... travel.... ) but I figured I'd share a few articles and links I've found over the last few days that I found interesting.

Now, no guarantees that you're going to find it interesting but hey, throw caution to the wind and click away.

1. Yes please! 
Google is giving employees a 10% raise.

2. How to get un-friended on Facebook?
This seems like common sense ... but hey, perhaps you have someone in your life that you are unwilling to un-friend and hope they'll pull the plug on your "digital friendship"

3. Do they write this just for me?
If you read my blog you know what I like - I honestly feel like this website publishes news that is meant just for me. Plus, they retweeted my Conan post from last week.

TWTRCON Nice analysis> TShirt promo drives followers: Hopelessly Techie: Conan + Twitter + Free Tshirts ... by @FoleyJennifer 10:23 PM Nov 8th, 2010
Powered by blogatweet

4. Cool store
I passed this store on my walk back the office from dinner in Chelsea the other night. Now, I have no idea on prices ... or quality... but it looked so enticing. If only I didn't live in a Hilton....

5. Don't try and bring your printer on your next flight.
Who brings printers with them on flights?

So... enjoy.

Its Wednesday... which means its the middle of the week.... victory

I love my....


get ready... you know you want to learn about my new favorite love ...

and ... its .... my ....

new Samsonite suitcase. I guess it technically is not new, since I've had it for 3 weeks - but just roll with me (pun intended).

One might ask any of the following questions:
"Why do you possibly love a new suitcase?"
"Its a suitcase, what's so special about it?"
"You got a black suitcase? How original"
But my friends. This new traveling companion of mine making traipsing around the streets of NYC, the Amtrak stations, and well my house.... a breeze.

So, I figure... I should probably make a top 4 list of the reasons why my suitcase makes my life easier. Now to be fair, I'm sure there are other great suitcases on the market - but I haven't bought a new suitcase since I went to college. So do the math, that was 9 years ago ...

Feature 1. Perhaps the most obvious. 
I love the spinning wheels. No more tired/sore arm from pulling my suitcase.

Feature 2. Extra "grabby spots"
I have not yet been left wondering how to grab my suitcase off a shelf, bed, trunk of a cab ... its incredible.

Feature 3. Spacious compartments. 
This picture probably doesn't do it justice ... but use your imagination.

Feature 4. It came with a dirty laundry bag!
Yes, I know I could (and probably still will) use the laundry bag that the hotel gives you... but sometimes they don't give you one ... and then where would I be?

Plus I got this sucker on Amazon ... and it came in 1 day ... for the lowest price on the market.

Conan + Twitter + Free Tshirts ...


 = no t-shirt for me.

So, Conan O'Brien ... more specifically Team Coco .... is giving away 1,000 tshirts a day for 10 days as they approach the premiere of his new show on TBS. The marketing for this show is totally bananas. Between the webcams, the blimp, the Foursquare badges, and now the free t-shirts .... its hard to miss all the buzz.

But for some reason, I still thought there was a chance I'd be able to snag a t-shirt on Tuesday. At about 1pm EST, there was a tweet alerting TeamCoco followers that there'd be free t-shirts between 4-5pm EST. So, I got ready. I had two browsers open and was ready to attack the process.

In watching the page over the last few days, I've seen the number of followers grow rather exponentially at times. So I also thought it would be interesting to see how many Twitter users elected to follow TeamCoco during the 4-5pm window until the t-shirt code was given out.

Well, the code was given out at 4:16 and within 33 seconds of the code being published I had seen it, tried it, been rejected ... and taken a screenshot of the time and rejection.

So maybe you are wondering what the stats look like for Twitter followers during that time period - or maybe you aren't. But here is my highly unscientific data anyway. I was originally going to stop at the time the code was given out, then I extended it to 4:30, and then just went for the whole hour.
Note: The Purple line designates when the code was given out

So, that is how I spent the 4-5pm timeblock on Tuesday. Embarassing - especially considering I still don't have a Conan t-shirt - but I do have a great graph charting TeamCoco's popularity.

Update: Sharing is Caring


Yesterday during my lunch break, I decided to finally pick a loan off of Kiva to donate to. I have been aware of this site for probably about a year or two and really admire the efforts and I guess the whole system/principle of microfinance.

And... since I don't explain things very well, here is how Kiva describes themselves:
Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.
Admittedly, I know little to nothing about microfinance except that it can be super powerful. The website has a "Facts" page that is updated daily to show the current impact:

Total value of all loans made through Kiva: $170,083,625
Number of Kiva Users: 780,777
Number of Kiva Users who have funded a loan: 494,900
Number of countries represented by Kiva Lenders: 208
Number of entrepreneurs that have received a loan through Kiva: 442,557
Number of loans that have been funded through Kiva: 232,831
Percentage of Kiva loans which have been made to women entrepreneurs: 81.85%
Number of Kiva Field Partners (microfinance institutions Kiva partners with): 121
Number of countries Kiva Field Partners are located in: 54
Current repayment rate (all partners): 98.95%
Average loan size: $381.48
Average total amount loaned per Kiva Lender (includes reloaned funds): $217.81
Average number of loans per Kiva Lender: 6.44

I've highlighted some of the line items that I think are most interesting/captivating/impressive.

I'm no mathematician but if they've loans $170 million out of 500k people - just imagine the impact if the remaining 280k people that have Kiva accounts but haven't donated yet. Incredible.

Anyway, my donation is just a drop in the bucket - but I'm really interested in the whole concept/model/success stories. When I was picking my loan to help fund, I really wanted to help a woman and the location was not too important to me. After wading through a few applicant pages, I settled on Martha Del Socorro Ortiz Baltodano.
Martha wanted a mere $475 to help grow her tortilla business (and a few small other things). I was the 2nd person to sign on to Martha's funding request - and this morning I got an email that Martha's loan had been fully funded! I could not believe that in less than 18 hrs, 17 people had donated to get Martha to her final goal.

I'm not sure when I'll do my next Kiva donation - but I do know that I'll probably be just as surprised at how fast the process is - and hopefully just as impressed with the amount of people that have joined/donated/contributed.

Note: I did learn a few weeks ago that my company's annual Charitable Giving Program lets  you pick the charity that you'd like your donation to go to - if you are financially able to donate. KIVA was an option for me - and so this year my donation is headed to them. I'm not sure that I get to "pick a loan" after the donation - but a donation to the general fund is still pretty cool.

Slight Price Difference

I've been a solid purveyor of legal music since iTunes came out when I was in college. I've been known to buy music to avoid writing papers, cleaning, and just about anything.
 Yesterday there was a promotion on Amazon that if you sent 5 friends an Amazon/Facebook gift certificate (each valued at $1 or more), you'd get $5. HELLO. I love free money - and I love giving small tokens of my affection. So, I dolled out 5 gift certificates to friends and family. I did run into one hiccup in that a few of my gift giving attempts got "rejected" in that something about their Facebook account setup wouldn't let me give them a gift. This was a bit sad for both parties - especially the ones I was trying to give a gift to.


Last night, I went on Amazon to puruse the offerings and saw that the new Taylor Swift album was for sale for .... $3.99. What? No? Not possible? YES POSSIBLE.
Since I have currently have a bank of iTunes credit, I figured I'd check and see what the price difference was between the two offerings. Well, it certainly wasn't pennies. The iTunes price is currently $12.70. Now, I think last night it was $13.99 because I remember saying "TEN DOLLARS. WHAT?"
I probably don't even have to tell you which one I bought. Half the time I listen to the whole album and only buy the songs that I like, at $3.99 I didn't even waste my time.... just bought the whole thing.

Makes me wonder how many people bought the Taylor Swift digital album from iTunes for full price ... and which they had checked Amazon.

Moral of the story? Amazon wins again.

Halloween in NYC


I'm not a huge fan of Halloween. I'm not sure I ever really have been. I think costumes are okay - but I prefer the "creative" as opposed to the "revealing" - and as a female that might be a rather conservative view point. As a child, I am sure I had some really typical costumes although the only ones I remember are:
  • Dorothy (complete with picnic basket)
  • A clown
  • A cheerleader
  • A zebra
  • An Ace of Spades
.... and an Oreo cookie. I don't even like Oreo cookies.

Oh, and I hate HATE hate masks. I'm not saying that I can handle all types of scary - but masks are what make scary ... scary... if that makes any sense. When I got to Penn Station last night, there were a LOT of masks. Needless to say I got out of there and into my hotel room as fast as possible.

BUT. Once I did get to my hotel room, I saw this delight outside of my hotel room.
Now, this is admittedly a Blackberry photo... but it was pretty cool to see the Empire State Building in Orange, Black, and white on Halloween.

In the event you want to plan your next visit to NYC around what color scheme the ESB (which is now on Twitter!) is showing, they have a handy calendar on their website. This is in part how I knew to look for tonight's view... and that it would include purple.
There is even a Twitter account managed by an independent person to document to lighting.

I kind of can't wait for it to be red, white, and blue tomorrow.
© WHAT JEN DOES • Theme by Maira G.