Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, May 21, 2021

Who doesn’t hate spammers? But I concur with the experts on this clever bit of filter-slipping code-masking:

In this instance, a clever spam writer slipped a Viagra message past many filters by spelling the word with several I’s, then using HTML code to shove all of the I’s together. “Whenever you view this in your e-mail program,” [MessageLab antispam developer Nick] Johnson said, “the letter spacing is set to minus-3 pixels, so it will show all these I’s on top of each other, and it will look like one I.

“That was quite an impressive one, actually,” he said.

This trickery is the handiwork of Leo Kuvayev, a Russian/American who’s No. 3 on Spamhaus.org’s global serial spammer list. There’s creativity in even the most reviled vocations.

Incidentally, this is just another compelling reason to forgo HTML email as a default option, and just stick with text format. Really no good need for having that underlying code for no-frills email communication; if you need anything else, include an attachment.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/21/2006 07:44:57 PM
Category: Internet, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (4)

We already knew about more people doing the daily two-hour ride on the Metro-North trains into New York. But regularly commuting from south of Trenton?

That’s the size of it for some workers, as their residential migration is expanding the definition of “New York City metro area”.

Interstate 84, which crosses southern Dutchess County just above the Putnam County line, used to be considered the boundary for most commuters to New York, said William J. Lavery, a regional vice president in Houlihan Lawrence’s Dutchess County offices. But that is no longer the case…

Orange County, northwest of Westchester on the other side of the Hudson River, has also become an alternative for prospective homeowners, among them police officers and firefighters who have been priced out of markets closer to Manhattan, said Greg Rand, the managing partner in Prudential Rand Realty, which has offices in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties. “Seven years ago,” Mr. Rand said, “Orange was just a rural upstate county, not a bedroom community for New York City. But then people saw what they could buy in Orange for the money, and they changed their thinking.” The median price in Orange at the end of 2005 was $320,000.

I grew up in Orange County; I object to the “rural” description. There’s plenty of farmland, but not much more than you’d find in Westchester or Nassau. Of course, from a five-boroughs perspective, any non-park area with more than three acres of green space is considered “rural”.

I always assumed the northern migration of City denizens was nothing new. A few of my cousins in the area used to do the train commute years ago, and it was considered fairly standard practice for many professions. I guess the trend has accelerated of late, in a large way:

In order to serve the increasing numbers of commuters from Orange County, which used to be considered “never-never land,” Mr. Brucker, the Metro-North spokesman, said, the railroad has contracted with New York Waterways for 10-minute ferry service across the Hudson from Newburgh to Beacon, and back again in the evening. Riders now number 280 a day, up from 200 when service began in January.

Beacon, on the Harlem Line, is one of the fastest-growing stations in the Metro-North system, Mr. Brucker said, in large part reflecting the increasing numbers of people commuting from Orange. Beacon now has 1,330 customers a day, he said, 45 percent from Orange, and ridership to Manhattan is up 50 percent from five years ago. The first ferry leaves Newburgh at 5:40 on weekday mornings; in Beacon, passengers can connect with a southbound train and arrive at Grand Central at 7:17 a.m.

All this plays into the increasing exurbization of not-quite-upstate New York. I’d previously made note of this dynamic a couple of times: Proposals to bulk up Stewart International Airport into NYC’s fourth major airport, and the changing face of older bedroom communities in the face of outward migration from city centers. The landscape is altering. One plus: Maybe Orange and Dutchess will lose the “upstate” tag soon, which was always ill-fitting (when I told people I was from “upstate New York”, they often assume Rochester or Buffalo…).

So much for what’s doing up the Hudson River. New York’s gravitational pull extends south, too. So far south that it’s weird:

Michael Galdi, an agent for Century 21 Advantage Gold in Philadelphia, is feeling some of that ripple. Commuters are buying row houses and multifamily houses in the Northwood and Castor Gardens sections of the city. From there, they can take elevated trains downtown, where they can change to Amtrak trains headed for Manhattan, or they can drive to work.

Translation: People living in Philly are commuting to Manhattan.


I never imagined that could be possible, even with the trains and buses. I can understand moving out to less-populated areas for cheaper house values, and not being able to find a big-city job in your neighborhood. But wouldn’t you assume that Philly had a job market that could compete with New York’s, at least somewhat? I can’t believe someone would move all the way down there and continue to schlep to Penn Station or Grand Central. I’d bet those who made the move have started looking for jobs inside their own city’s limits.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/21/2006 06:31:35 PM
Category: Society, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback (6)

Because I’m not satisfied with merely drinking tea all day and night, today I decided to marinate some beef with it.

Funny thing was, I was planning on making steak stir-fry for lunch today without any sort of marinade for the meat. Seems like I’d been using one sort of flavorizing agent or another for my past dozen cooking sessions; I thought I’d forego that and just go with a little pepper and other spices, and leave it at that.

But this morning, I had a cup of black currant tea. It’s okay, but I don’t drink it as much as I do other teas, flavored or unflavored. I wondered about why, and it struck me that the slightly-acrid berry flavor might be a good match with steak. And I vaguely recalled having some sort of dishes in the past that were tea-infused. So I figured, why not?

I found a couple of tea marinade recipes, but I didn’t feel like mixing ingredients. So I just boiled a cup of water, then seeped three of the currant teabags in that for a long while, to get that supersaturated consistency. After that, I just put the tea and the cut-up steak into a bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes. When it was time to cook, I poured meat and marinade into the pan (the tea dissolved in no time flat).

The result? Fair. The tea left behind a faint flavor, but it was hard to detect. I think next time, I’ll have to let the mixture sit for a lot longer, maybe an hour or more. Maybe make the supersaturated marinade stronger too, with an additional teabag. But it certainly didn’t ruin the steak. In fact, I’d bet the caffeination gave it something extra. So it was a worthwhile kitchen experiment.

Time for a cup of tea, again.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/21/2006 04:52:24 PM
Category: Food | Permalink | Feedback (3)

screamed loudest
Finland’s greatest triumph and worst nightmare became one yesterday, as death-schlock-metal band Lordi delivered the country’s first-ever Eurovision victory with its ear-bleeding anthem, “Hard Rock Hallelujah”.

As with the irrational hand-wringing over Lordi’s qualification process, I’m sure Finns everywhere are having mixed emotions over this. But hey, I say this is fair compensation for having to settle for the silver in men’s hockey at Torino this year.

In retrospect, this shocker-rocker upset seems to have been inevitable. As is the prospect of an Americanized version of “the contest good taste forgot”:

NBC announced plans earlier this year to replicate the formula — a forerunner of “American Idol”-style talent contests — in the United States, with acts from different states competing for viewers’ approval.

The European Broadcasting Union, which runs Eurovision, said it was in talks with NBC over rights. If successful, the American version could go ahead as early as this fall, said the group’s director of television, Bjorn Erichsen.

I’ve got odds on Delaware winning the first one!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/21/2006 10:15:58 AM
Category: TV, Pop Culture, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (1)