Thursday, March 24, 2005
After attending the WYSIWYG reading at P.S. 122, Dan and I decided to stop for coffee and dessert (and a rehashing of the heights and valleys of the performances). We'd done the trek up 1st Avenue from the East Village once before and had absolutely no luck finding anything more unusual than a Starbucks. But this time, we made a real effort to keep our eyes open for something original and fun.

Tavola TettolaWe really lucked out when we found De Robertis Bakery-- it's a narrow shop lined at the front with deli cases on both sides. The cases are packed to overflowing with traditional Italian pastries and cookies, as you might expect. But in the back is a little cafe that's tiled from the floor to the ceiling (and even that has tin-roof tiles). It looks a little like a NYC subway vestibule from the 1940s, but it's charming. Better still, there was nobody there-- this was 10 p.m., after all.

I ordered what is easily the best dessert I've eaten in a restaurant since coming to New York, the Cassatine Siciliano, which looked, well... like a breast. It's even topped with a suspiciously areolar cherry and then covered in a layer of marzipan, completing its resemblance to something out of a Rubens painting. But it was incredible, not to mention filled with sweetened ricotta and a layer of green cream filling.

Yes, yes, it looks like a breast. Now let me drink my coffee. The inspiration for the cake?

OK, the green was a little disturbing, I admit. But it was soooo good.Dan's strawberry cake looked good, but after sampling my, uh, cake, I think he wished he'd ordered one too. I can't wait to go back again, and next time, I'm taking home a box of their pignoli cookies, as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Is it more damning that the USA Today television critic doesn't seem to understand how taped television works (i.e. you can't go back in and alter details early in an already taped season and expect different results later), or that he's forgotten that it's not against the game's rules to ask locals not to assist other players? Worst criticism ever.

Thursday, March 17, 2005
In one of those "only in New York" montages, I spotted this dumpster yesterday, packed full of what looked to be fresh, recently torn leaves of beautiful romaine lettuce. It was as if someone had made the world's largest Caesar salad in a big rusty garbage can on 9th Avenue.

Have I mentioned how much I love a good Caesar salad?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Here is where the digital camera resolution barrier begins to break.

Traditionally, taking and printing photos from a digital camera has required 300 dots per square inch resolution to achieve a print that is indistinguishable from one taken with an analog camera. This is why it's only recently that digital camera printing has become so popular-- the resolution of cameras has only in the past 3 years gotten good enough to make this feasible. Here's an example: to get a good 3X5 inch print, you need 3 X 300 X 5 X 300 pixels, or 1,350,000 pixels (1.35 megapixels)**. Affordable digital cameras at that resolution didn't really appear until 2001 or so. Today, it's possible to get an 8-megapixel camera for about $350. Fantastic, right?

But if you look at the numbers, you'll see where things get tough quickly. Let's say you wanted to do a photo print on 11X13 paper (almost the size of a legal pad). You'd need 11 X 300 X 13 X 300 pixels, or 12,870,000 pixels (12.9 megapixels). A camera that takes pictures at that resolution would cost several thousand dollars. And getting larger prints becomes more and more difficult and more and more expensive, if things increase slowly and incrementally at the rate of an additional megapixel per 8 or 9 months, as they have been for the past few years.

What we've been missing is a new technology that eliminates the current trend and leapfrogs it by an order of magnitude or two. That's precisely what this 144-megapixel camera/scanner does. It's all still too slow (35 seconds/image) and unwieldy to sell to consumers, but adapting this technology should move things forward pretty speedily. Oh, and the images it takes are 140 MB each, so the capacity of flash cards will also need to increase a bit, although that's happening pretty rapidly.

**This little trick is useful in figuring out what the biggest prints you can make from your camera are: just take the number of pixels and divide it by 90,000 (which is 300 X 300). That'll give you the lengthXwidth of your best print. So if you have a 3.2 megapixel camera, that's 3,200,000 pixels. Divided by 90,000, that's 35.6. So a 5X7 inch print would work perfectly, since 5 X 7 = 35.

Here's a handy table for you:

3.2 megapixels-- perfect prints up to 5X7, decent prints up to 8X10
4.3 megapixels-- perfect prints up to 6X8, decent prints up to 10X12
5.0 megapixels-- (same as above)
6.0 megapixels-- (same as above)
7.1 megapixels-- perfect prints up to 8X10, decent prints up to 10X12
8.0 megapixels-- (same as above)

Sunday, March 13, 2005
Just back from spending the afternoon with our good friend Heidi and eating some delicious and beautiful cupcakes from the Cupcake Cafe, a local bakery.
If I could, I think I'd spend my life savings here.

Saturday, March 12, 2005
Six years ago (*wow* is it really that long ago?), I had to replace a totalled car. I must have spent dozens of hours researching and reading, but in the end, decided to buy something that, at the time, some of my friends thought was a strange choice: the Hyundai Accent. Most of the bad reputation that Hyundai had came from some poorly-manufactured clunkers from the late 1980s and early 1990s, so when people gave me pitying looks after seeing my car, I developed a habit of launching into a Korean car stump speech. I even wrote an review of the car. But the proof was in the facts: in the 2 years that I owned the car, it never gave me any trouble at all. Better still-- it still had 8 years on its warrantee when I sold it to Carmax. I even became such a convert that I convinced Dan to buy a Hyundai Elantra later that year. I know he loved his car as much as I loved mine.

The reason for this story is that it seems that finally, Hyundai is getting some serious accolades from people who matter. In fact, I mentioned my old Accent to someone the other day and their response? "Good little car."

Friday, March 11, 2005
Although this won't be of much interest to people who don't live in New York, there's a fascinating cost analysis of the new MTA fare structure online that shows that for everyone except tourists visiting for a week or so, it's always your best option to either buy the $20 Metro Card (which gives you 12 rides) or the 30-day Monthly Pass for $76 (which gives you unlimited access to the bus and subway). [Scroll down to Page 2 for the table.]

The thing I found most interesting is that it's essentially NEVER in your best interest to buy the 7-day pass, unless you have a sudden burst of subway use that disappears during all the other times of the month. I tend to use the subway around 8 times a week, so I'm best off buying the $20 card, which until recently, I rarely did.

Thursday, March 10, 2005
Ignoring the abject failure of retreads such as 'Coupling-US' and 'The Office-US', NBC has apparently just licensed 'Teachers', a really fantastic British television show. I really think that this time around, they might succeed at making it work, since so much of what makes the show great is wrapped up in story and plot, and not the quirkiness of specific actors.

Then again, if you've got a DVD player (and have figured out how to make it Region Free), you might just be better off ordering the first three seasons of the original show from

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Without ever really intending to do so, we've immersed ourselves in public art over the past few weeks. As you know from my older post, I saw Christo and Jean Claude's gates in Central Park (twice), and have had a few run-ins with a section of the Berlin Wall (!) that seems to have emigrated from Germany to 53rd Street.
This weekend, we happened by 590 Madison Avenue, where we saw Tim Hawkinson's 'Überorgan' looming in the atrium and stopped in for a much closer look. The photos are from my cameraphone, so they're not the best quality, but you can see how strange these inflated, bloated suspensions look. Not only that, but they play music (which to be honest, sounds a little farty). If you're in New York and have a chance, take a look before the Whitney removes the installation. Also, check out Art:21's article on Hawkinson, complete with video clips.

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