Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2021

Y’know, I really wasn’t on-board with the whole trend toward video résumé submission.

But now that Sean “Diddy” Combs has embraced the concept, and is using YouTube as his job board, I guess resistance is futile.

Apply to be Diddy’s whipping boy/girl if you must. But he’s already charmed a bunch of people to get in line ahead of you:

“What better job than that to have me scream at you, go crazy, keep you up at late hours, have you sleep-deprived?” Mr. Combs asked.

More than 600 people have submitted videos.

To the lucky winner: Expect an early task to be ordering a new batch of business cards, the result of Diddy changing his nickname — once again.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/31/2007 10:50:30 PM
Category: Business, Celebrity, Internet
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arms race cold war
Time to combine two of my favorite leisure topics: Sports and alternate/counterfactual history.

In response to Greg Wyshynski’s look back at Tom Glavine’s aborted hockey career — in which my old post on the subject was cited — I contributed a fanciful comment over center-iceman Glavine’s subsequent National Hockey League career. And I was so pleased by my jotting that I’ve decided to record it here:

Who knows how Glavine’s hockey career would have turned out, and if he would have played for the Kings or some other club. But, as long as we’re playing what-if, how’s this one:

In August 1988, as the Edmonton Oilers were dickering with Los Angeles over a trade package, they get a read on a Kings prospect playing college hockey in Massachusetts. They ask, the Kings oblige, and Tom Glavine gets shipped to Edmonton, along with a bundle of players and picks, in exchange for Wayne Gretzky (with Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley as throw-ins).

Gretzky does his Hollywood thing, while Glavine breaks into the NHL with the Oilers. He blossoms, becomes part of a 1-2 punch down the middle with Mark Messier, and is part of second Cup-winning dynasty for the Oilers through the end of the 1990s.

Hey, might as well maximize the potential!

Yep, the time period fits in just perfectly. Had Glavine committed to hockey, he would have been part of the blockbuster Gretzky-to-LA trade. And would have paid off for the Oilers, unlike practically every other part of the package they got from the Kings in reality.

Of course, this conveniently disregards the financial realities that, Glavine or no, still would have forced the Oil to dump quality players by the early ’90s. Despite my disdain for improbable alternate reality scenarios, I’ll turn a blind eye, just this once.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/31/2007 10:32:39 PM
Category: Baseball, Hockey
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Monday, July 30, 2021

Okay, so FLEXPETZ comes off as just another bizarre outgrowth of urban living: A timesharing scheme in which those cramped for time and living quarters co-opt pet canines.

The service isn’t cheap. Customers pay a one-time $150 training fee plus a $99.95 annual fee and a $49.95 monthly fee ($599.40 a year). That doesn’t include the dog. It costs between $24.95 and $39.95 a day — plus tax and up to $35 in delivery fees — to rent a pooch.

“Our members are responsible in that they realize full-time ownership is not an option for them and would be unfair to the dog,” the company’s owner, Marlena Cervantes, tells the Associated Press. “It prevents dogs from being adopted and then returned to the shelter by people who realize it wasn’t a good fit.”

Timeshares — they’re not just for Hamptons flophouses anymore! And there’s a calculated reason for calling this a timeshare: It conveys an upscale approach. What sounds better: A rent-a-dog shop, or a canine timesharing program? That’s why FLEXPETZ’s owner bristled at the description of a rental service.

So something just under a grand annually for a fraction of a dog. I’d imagine you could probably find someone in your neighborhood who’d lend you their pooch for frequent walkies (with accompanying poop-scooping, of course).

On the other hand, if a sense of ownership — however flimsy — means that much to you, I suppose there are worse ways to go. And if a single dog is spared an existence being cooped up in a crackerbox apartment all day, more neglected than anything, then I suppose I could abide this.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/30/2007 11:04:16 PM
Category: Business, Society
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Just curious:

When job-listings site Monster announces 800 job cuts of its own, does it point those set adrift toward its own job openings?

I’d think that, just to maintain its declared mojo as being able to match up the perfect job with the perfect job-seeker, it would set up a special, private job board for all those ex-Monsterites. Maybe include the link in the pink slip?

Furthermore, would a fired Monster employee appreciate such an effort, or interpret it as a backhanded slap, laden with ulterior self-serving motive for the company?

I wonder if I’m the only one who sees the irony is such corporate maneuvers…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/30/2007 10:25:57 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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A century ago, municipal public swimming pools helped foster social reform.

Originally pools were melting pots where blacks, whites and immigrants interacted. Men and women, however, swam on separate days.

The dynamics changed after World War I. Pools went from bathhouses to leisure destinations, complete with sand and chairs for sunbathing. Cities across the country joined in a construction craze, building pools like Fairgrounds Park Pool in St. Louis that could accommodate thousands of swimmers at a time.

That was then. Fast forward to the early 21st Century, when the bold initiatives of yesteryear have been subverted by the modern-day wet-n-wild that is the average water park:

Truly, at the water park there was a meemaw looking woman wearing a t-shirt and jean shorts with her “hard-as-a-rock” breasts staring right at me at every turn-style. Meemaw looked like she just got out of Jed Clampet’s truck and was on her way to a senior citizen porn audition. If she could afford those breasts (and fake teeth), then why couldn’t she splurge on a bathing suit?

Not only did open wounds and gnarly toenails put me off my feed, but the smokers who punctuated their nasty habit with a “hocka-pa-tooey” on the ground in front of me completely grossed me out. Walking behind Carruso (I know that’s his name because it was tattooed across the entire span of his upper back) and trying to make sure my asthmatic son avoids the smoke billowing out of Carruso’s body, I stop in my tracks as Carruso hocks up a big loogey and spits it on to the cement where the entire water park population walks BAREFOOTED.

And you actually have to pay admission to get into these liquid-borne germ farms, versus the free pass at public pools. So much for water as a unifying medium.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/30/2007 09:45:54 PM
Category: Comedy, History, Society
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Sunday, July 29, 2021

It’s one thing to discover that the person behind a webpage/blog has suddenly died, as happened with Uppity Negro’s Aaron Hawkins nearly three years ago.

It’s quite another to troll through MyDeathSpace, and specifically target MySpace pages that are frozen tributes to their now-deceased authors.

I mean, I can understand the feeling that goes into providing a final chapter for people like Gayle Grosman, who succumbed to a debilitating disease. Even more pertinent is placemarks for unexpected deaths:

Army Cpl. Matthew Creed was killed in Baghdad Oct. 22. His MySpace profile keeps watch without him, counting down the time - days, hours, minutes - until he would’ve returned home.

His father, Rick, visits the page from time to time, but he was unaware that it had been archived on MyDeathSpace.

“What MyDeathSpace is doing seems respectful, though at this time I’m not sure what I think about it,” he wrote in an e-mail. What’s most important, he believes, is that the link between his son and this world be preserved.

But it’s not like the victims’ MySpace pages feature a linkback to their corresponding MyDeathSpace archiving pages (or “walls”) — much like Creed’s father in the example above, I’d bet most visitors to the lingering MySpace pages have no idea about the existence of MyDeathSpace. So this collection of death notices serves more of a one-way purpose, and I’m guessing it’s a pretty morbid one: Web voyeurs pondering death. Which gives the whole thing a decidedly creepy feel.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/29/2007 06:12:08 PM
Category: Internet, Society
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hearing footsteps
As Google continues to evolve toward an advertising-driven portal site, it’s indirectly making itself a target for challengers in the search space. In fact, with Google infiltrating its Universal Search results with links to other Google properties, the search engine’s very integrity is under question, and thus open to attack.

That attack might finally — and credibly — be here, from the world of Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales aims to apply an open-source/user-generated strategy toward Web search, via his Wikia service:

The new Wikia search service will combine computer-driven algorithms and human-assisted editing when the company launches a public version of the search site toward the end of 2007, Wales said in a phone interview…

Open search is part of Wikia’s broader push to promote the spread of free content publishing on the Web. Wales’ objective is to make explicit the editorial judgments involved in modern Web search systems. Proprietary search systems such as Google Inc. keep secret key details of how their search systems work to prevent spamming and for competitive reasons.

Wales’ entry signals actual business-based non-commercial efforts versus Google. That’s in contrast to sites like Clusty, which are pitching pure-play search but really aren’t positioning themselves as anything more than niche-hobbyist offerings.

This effort hinges on Wikia’s just-completed acquisition, from search also-ran LookSmart, of Grub, a search project originated on the distributed-computing model:

Grub, now open source, is designed with modularity so that developers can quickly and easily extend and add functionality, improving the quality and performance of the entire system. By combining Grub, which is building a massive, distributed user-contributed processing network, with the power of a wiki to form social consensus, the open source Search Wikia project has taken the next major step towards a future where search is open and transparent.

“In looking at the overarching industry, it has become clear that open is the business model of the future,” said Michael Grubb, Senior Vice President, Technology, and Chief Technology Officer, LookSmart. “We are pleased to collaborate with Wikia and believe that Grub will thrive under an open source license. We are happy to be able to assist in the movement to make search a more open proposition and look forward to seeing things progress from here.”

The surest way for this nascent Wikia engine to gain traction: Adding it to the Wikipedia site as the default search utility. Look for that to happen next year.

So, the building blocks are in place. Does this mean Google will soon fall by the wayside, following the doomed footsteps of former search leaders like Yahoo! and Altavista?

It really depends on how much Google truly values search as part of its business model. Publicly, there’s no question of that: Search is the proclaimed heart-and-soul of the company, and the starting point for everything that’s rolled out of Google Labs. For anyone in a Mountain View corner office to suggest otherwise would be self-defeating.

But does Google’s main revenue generator — syndicated advertising via AdSense/AdWords — really rely upon proprietary search mechanisms? If Wikia/Grub’s approach does create a transparent search structure, there’s no reason why Google couldn’t exploit process, the same as any other player. AdSense metrics can be tied to any measuring tool for site impressions, just like any advertising syndicate. In a sense, Google’s ad business is search-agnostic — it just hasn’t made any sense to uncouple it from the company’s own industry-leading search algorithms thus far.

Ceding search to Wikia’s open-source model would seemingly put Google on a level playing field with others. However, timing would be key: Google’s market heft would give it an early advantage, and assuming they embrace Wikia’s search, they could shape it to the point where Google’s advertising content (and content in other channels) would dominate. Google would effectively outsource the down-and-dirty search algorithm work to a public engine, without formal ownership but with de facto control. The end result could very well be a Wikia search that’s open, but paradoxically co-opted by Google.

All this relies upon Google willingly changing gears. I don’t see that happening right now, as the company’s fundamentally reliant upon proprietary search processes. Pressures from the stock market, not to mention corporate culture, would prevent this wholesale change in approach. Sadly, I see the old portaling-pattern continue to unfold for Google, and any shift will come much later — maybe too late.

With all that said, I’m not completely convinced that Wikia’s idea will succeed. Distributed volunteer search-vetting sounds rad, but we’re talking about a massive scale of content to process, much greater than what Wikipedia has to filter. And it’s much more of a target for manipulable rank-rigging, especially if the engine becomes a search destination of choice. Relying upon the traditional content flood via wiki, then regulation once the databases have been filled, might not work against the need to establish the site early as a trusted Web search tool. It might never get off the ground.

We’re at the start of the start, really. The dynamics are in place for some interesting jockeying in the search realm over the next five years.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/29/2007 03:44:15 PM
Category: Internet
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Apparently, all it takes to rile up a bunch of Brooklyn brownstone watchers is the appearance of white paint in the landmark Clinton Hill neighborhood.

Make that white primer paint, restored to the proper brown in short order. As originally planned, without awareness of the Web-confined tempest.

So much for the wisdom of crowds…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/29/2007 01:16:25 PM
Category: Bloggin', New Yorkin', Society
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Ah, you’ve gotta love this whole Internet-blogging thing. It offers you so many things. Like porn, and…

I’m drawing a blank.

Oh yeah: Free giveaways, sometimes with no strings attached. As exemplified by this post on Seth’s Blog, offering two free movie DVDs just by asking, via email.

I jumped on it, and lo and behold, Seth emailed me back to tell me that he’ll be mailing his extra copy of A History of Violence in the near future. Score!

So thank you, Seth. Nothing like getting a free-and-clear freebie to make me giddy.

I never did catch Violence when it came out in theaters, nearly two years ago, nor have I been sufficiently motivated enough to seek it out afterward. It looked plenty compelling though, as only a David Cronenberg opus can. So I’m glad I lucked into this.

This little episode actually has inspired me to do a likewise blog-giveaway. I’d done it once or twice in the past, so I’m overdue for a repeat. I have plenty of clutter lying around that could use a better home. Stayed tuned for the first offer, later this week.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/29/2007 12:35:21 PM
Category: Bloggin', Movies
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How is it that Globe Trekker TV host Megan McCormick is not a big-time TV star yet?

I mean, look at her. She’s cute as all get-out and the camera loves her. Plus, apparently she’ll eat anything. All the ingredients for a television celebrity!

Globe Trekker is obviously positioning her as the main draw for the series. I admit, I’m fairly hooked on the show — but pretty much only when she’s the host. Her segments have a underlying comedic touch half the time, a real fish-out-of-water quality that’s engaging. In fact, her interactions with the exotic locales she highlights inspire me to take a stab at a full-fledged comedy series about a blunter ugly-American travelogue show, featuring deadpan un-PC behavior by a clueless on-camera personality.

Not that that should detract from McCormick’s charms. I like her way more than, for instance, that spastic Amanda Congdon. If we’re comparing New York-based niche-video personalities.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/29/2007 10:24:45 AM
Category: Celebrity, TV, Women
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Saturday, July 28, 2021

what's in store
I’ve walked by the corner storefront on 6th Avenue and 47th Street many, many times. It’s hard to not notice that specific building space: The large pane-glass walls are filled with giant-sized NHL graphics and player photos.

I had thought that this street-level display signified the presence of National Hockey League offices on the upper floors. Turns out that’s not the case, although the league’s headquarters are on 6th Avenue, just a couple of blocks north.

So what’s on 47th? Nothing less than NHL Powered by Reebok, a flagship store that will open in October.

A place to get league-authorized merchandise, along with a hockey-themed Starbucks on-site. It sounds cool as hell. With a literally “cool” component:

Another centerpiece will be a wall made of real ice that will serve as a backdrop for store merchandise.

Conceived by Miami artist Terje Lundaas, the ice wall will be visible through the glass storefront, and customers will be allowed to write or draw on the glass just as they would on a frosty window.

With the tolerable Fall weather coming, I can see taking plenty of after-work strolls down the Avenue of the Americas to hit this retail mecca. Plenty of photo opps, too. I can’t wait!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/28/2007 07:41:12 PM
Category: Business, Hockey, New Yorkin'
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say ahAdhesive tape, in and of itself, is not all that funny.

So it’s something of a minor triumph for Propaganda, a product design company in Thailand, to come up with this, the Mr. P Tape Dispenser. The humor is subtle, and a shade perverted even: The tape emerges from the little man’s mouth, like a comically elongated tongue? To be serrated off at his feet? While he looks like he’s in a perpetual exercising scrunch??

Whatever, I’m sold. I’m not even in the market for a tape dispenser. But I’ve just got to have that green one. I will not, however, go hog-wild on the Mr. P design motif. So no matching table lamp for me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/28/2007 03:50:13 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative, Pop Culture
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Friday, July 27, 2021

Houston, we have a problem. NASA is reeling from allegations of astronauts getting liquored up prior to mission lift-off.

I’m sure a couple of shots of the “right stuff” take the edge off that antsy time between countdown and achieved orbit. Hell, I’m sure the Russian cosmonauts have vodka intake as part of their pre-flight regimen!

Between this, and the whacked-out Lisa Nowak jealous lover story (that almost became a Movie of the Week, sorta), the nation’s space agency is starting to look like dysfunction junction. Better start watching the skies for (literal) fallout!

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/27/2007 03:17:21 PM
Category: Politics, Science
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Great joke I heard last night:

What’s the difference between straight checkers and gay checkers?

In straight checkers, it’s “king me!” In gay checkers, it’s “queen me!”

Well, maybe the delivery needs work. But I liked it. Nothing like a visit to the West Village for a dose of queer humor.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/27/2007 09:05:39 AM
Category: Comedy, New Yorkin', Pop Culture
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Thursday, July 26, 2021

Defying what I consider to be common sense, phonebook publisher R.H. Donnelley bought Business.com for $350 million in cash, in an optimistically synergistic strategic move.

I guess I’m just too stingy to be a wheeling-dealing Web tycoon.

Maybe I can remedy that shortcoming, though. First step: I’m buying the domain name “bidness.com”. I would plan on flooding its pages with tons of useless links, but I’m sure the current dealmaking fervor for online real estate will bring me unsolicited buyout offers before I even have to get to that point.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/26/2007 10:26:18 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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How was it that I sensed that the amazing story of Oscar, the nursing-home home kitty who predicts the death of patients hours before the medical staff does, would inspire an LOLcat meme?

Personally, if I were on my deathbed, having a cat curl up beside me for a comforting send-off wouldn’t bother me. Now, if a domokun showed up instead, then I’d know my ticket was getting punched.

Back to Oscar. I love how his seemingly compassionate behavior is deemed suspect, owing to feline proclivities:

If Oscar really is a furry grim reaper, it’s also possible his behavior could be driven by self-centered pleasures like a heated blanket placed on a dying person, [veterinary expert Nicholas] Dodman said.

No respect for this four-legged angel of mercy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/26/2007 09:53:22 PM
Category: Comedy, Internet, Science
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Wednesday, July 25, 2021

The kids have spoken — and they did it via MySpace instead of Outlook:

“I only use e-mail for my business and to get sponsors,” Martina Butler, the host of the teen podcast Emo Girl Talk, said during a panel discussion here at the Mashup 2007 conference, which is focused on the technology generation. With friends, Bulter said she only sends notes via a social network.

“Sometimes I say I e-mailed you, but I mean I Myspace’d or Facebook’ed you,” she said.

To be sure, much has been written about the demise of e-mail, given the annoyance of spam and the rise of tools like instant messaging, voice over IP and text messaging. But e-mail has hung on to its utility in office environments and at home, even if it’s given up some ground to new challengers. It may be that social networks are the most potent new rival to e-mail, one of the Internet’s oldest forms of communication. With tens of millions of members on their respective networks, MySpace and Facebook can wield great influence over a generation living online, either through the cell phone or the Internet.

To me, this development suggests a reversion of sorts for email, regardless of the motivation. Despite its purpose as “electronic mail” that delivers far faster than the Post Office, email’s format still suggests a framework of formality: Writing a letter in the sense that conversational back-and-forth is a little awkward to carry out; archiving into Sent, Received, etc. folders that imply a need to organize. This is indeed a good setup for business dealings that require record-keeping. But for social interaction? It’s a drag.

So the perception of email moves more toward a business-only tool. IM and texting, with it’s seemingly more free-wheeling structure, is more suited toward casual, everyday chit-chat (even though you can indeed archive conversations, unbeknownst to most users; and don’t forget the threat of spim!).

I’m still holding out against the un-email options, but it’s clearly a losing battle. I’m kinda hoping telepathy pops up sooner rather than later, so I won’t have to bother…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/25/2007 11:29:41 PM
Category: Internet, Society
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Somehow, I’ve been taggedby Katyola, no less.

I usually don’t go for these meme-ish exercises. But just this once, I’ll be sport. Let’s start with the somewhat-disjointed rules:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

I’ll try to be as random as I can:

1. I hate tomatoes and tomato byproducts — with the sole exception being the tomato sauce found in pizza.

2. I regularly take procrastination to bold new levels.

3. I consider myself to have absolutely no personal fashion sense, and yet manage to draw compliments almost daily on my wardrobe choices.

4. My personal pet is a blue betta fish, residing by himself (as betta should be) in a five-gallon desktop tank. He has no name.

5. Years after kicking the habit as a child, lately I find I’m back to compulsively biting my nails (or one, at least, on my left thumb).

6. Between the two, I’m having more trouble coming to terms with my graying hair than with my thinning hair.

7. Despite closing in on two years of living in New York, I refer to other U.S. locales as if I’m still geographically oriented in Florida (example: I wonder what an acquaintance is doing “up in Nashville”, i.e. north of where I am, instead of the proper south).

8. What I consider to be my dirtiest personal secret: I’m actually an optimist.

What the hell, I gave it a shot.

Now for the forwarding to others part. I figure these eight thrill-seekers will take the bait:

- Better Living Thru Blogging!
- Dustbury.com
- When Tara Met Blog
- Hit Coffee
- Thudfactor
- Journeys of Jack Tripper
- In Theory
- douglas.nerad

And, we’re done. I feel so used.

UPDATE: Turns out Dustbury’s already swung through this. So, let’s sub in Gary Said… instead. Order restored.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/25/2007 10:58:01 PM
Category: Bloggin'
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Looks like every single pixel on The Million Dollar Homepage is booked up solid.

So it’s time to move onto another gimmicky online advertising schtick involving large numbers. Cue up MillionCount. The premise of this ad-attractor is having a guy count from 1 to 1 million, out loud, a few thousand per day, until he’s finished after approximately 3-4 months.

Yeah, that’s it. Not exactly scintillating, unless you consider number recitation to be an endurance sport.

But the rudimentary site seems to have signed up some major sponsors, so somebody’s buying the concept. I’m guessing it’s waiting for a big traffic spike, to come when mainstream media coverage hits, and try to maximize ad revenue in that short window.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/25/2007 10:26:08 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet
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Tuesday, July 24, 2021

What was my first thought about news that the invasive Burmese python is making itself at home in the Sunshine State?

Some very rough estimates put the state’s pet python population above 5,000. More than 350 have been found in [the Everglades] since 2002, with others showing up in mangroves along Florida’s west coast and farther north in the state. There are perhaps 10 more for every one that is seen, [Everglades National Park biologist Skip] Snow said.

In May 2006, biologists confirmed that Everglades pythons were not a transient curiosity when they found the first eggs. “There were 46 eggs, 44 fertile,” Mr. Snow said. Shortly afterward, they found another clutch of two dozen, already hatched.

My thought was that the state’s notorious stomach-bursting alligators aren’t doing their part to stem this slithering spread.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/24/2007 11:25:24 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Science
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no pink in sight
I took the above photo back in May, on a day when I was seeking out one of the few scattered Pinkberry frozen yogurt shops in Manhattan. Reading about Tara’s visit to an LA edition of Pinkberry inspired me enough to throw it up now, well after the fact.

This is, of course, one of the series of pics I’ve taken as part of MWW Group’s Nikon D80 Picture This campaign. Click here for bigger versions of this image.

Leave it to me to go to a food outlet and take a picture of the non-food items. These trinkets amounted to Pinkberry’s kitschy toyshop, very Japanese/anime inspired. I just liked the way the light was set, and the overall composition of the scene. Much worthier of record than what was going on behind the counter, anyway.

Oh, as for the yogurt itself? I’ll repeat what I told Tara:

I got the green tea flavor, topped with Fruity Pebbles. It was okay, I wouldn’t go for the same combo again. “Tastes like grass” is about right, and that “gr” is hanging in by a string ;) Next time I’ll have to try the plain with something more creative for a topping — Coco Pebbles?

Actually, I think they should expand the options in junkfood-cereal toppings. Get some Cap’n Crunch and Rice Krispies in there, Pinkberry!

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/24/2007 10:10:17 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin', Photography
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