Sunday, November 18, 2007

Baby and the Vet

There is one drawback to having an all-black cat for a pet - it is difficult to photograph the furry black creature. They're hard to see in the picture unless you use a flash, which makes their fur appear silver. So I don't have many good pictures of Baby just yet. Maybe my next apartment will be brighter.

I took Baby to the vet Thursday just to get that relationship started and have her checked out. The vet assistant fell in love with her cute looks.

Turns out she only weighs 8 pounds! That's half what my Martin weighed. No wonder she feels like a feather when I pick her up.

The only bad news is that I need to take her in to get her teeth cleaned. She has significant tarter build-up on her back teeth. In fact, the vet said she probably isn't two years old, as I was told by the folks at the shelter where I got her. Based on the tarter build-up, it appears that Baby is closer to three or four years old.

Martin never had his teeth cleaned -he never needed it. Some cats are just lucky that way. You wouldn't believe how expensive the procedure is. Typically it costs about $500 here in NYC. (And I thought the $300 quote I'd gotten in Maryland was steep. Yikes!) The cost is high because the cat has to be anesthetized for the procedure. But the vet agreed to provide a lower quote to have it done on Baby - $357. Now that my tenant has defaulted on the lease on my Maryland townhouse, I think I'll wait till after I get my first bonus in January to have Baby's teeth cleaned. :)

Baby spends a huge chunk of her time sleeping - and it's something that usually happens in my lap if I'm home. I have never seen a lap cat like her before. Every single time I sit down in my easy chair in the living room, she comes running to jump up onto my lap and snuggle. This habit of hers is really cutting down on the amount of exercise I get! Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely sit still for more than 10 minutes (unless eating is involved), but now I am sitting longer in an effort to avoid disturbing my sleeping beauty.

Talk about one spoiled kitty! My goodness.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Back in the City

It's good to be back in NY. I've been here just a little over five weeks now, and it's been quite a roller coaster getting moved into my downtown apartment and working my new very hectic job.

Let me tell you, the stuff you see on TV about the high stress, fast pace, and long hours of Wall Street - all true. Trust me! Everyone that I've met at the firm (of every level) has told me to forget about ever feeling "caught up" or "competent" at my job. There's too much to learn, too many people to meet, and too much ongoing change. Not to mention, it's the most complicated IT environment imaginable. Keeping it operating is a challenge for both sides of the IT house - UNIX and Windows. My side is the latter. Fortunately I'm only responsible for all the Windows-based server and client computers in the Americas. (Ha!) I report up to a woman in London who is responsible for Windows ops worldwide.

Last week I took a tour of some of the trading floors in the fixed income division -what we call "fid." I was in awe for the entire hour and a half that I spent in the midtown building with one of the services managers who keeps the trading PCs up and running. The trading floors were at least as wide as half a football field. By the time I was done chatting with him and one of just two guys who support one of the huge floors, I momentarily felt like my job is a cakewalk.

The technology is cutting edge. Some of the traders have eight flat-screen monitors mounted in two rows of four above their desks. They have special phone panels called "turrets," each with a built-in speaker for listening to market announcements. They have multiple keyboards for punching in orders, and sometimes they'll have a phone in each ear at the same time. You can walk down one aisle of trading desks, and the room temperature jumps about 25 degrees.

I was surprised to see that there seemed to be as many female brokers as there were male brokers on the floor containing Foreign Exchange. High finance isn't the man's world it used to be. At one of the desks, each trader could speak eight languages. The business is fascinating, and is is even more interesting to hear some of the stories about overzealous traders.

One guy, who was known for having a short fuse, had been in the middle of trading when something went wrong on his PC; he flagged down Steve, the floor support guy, to help. He'd just set a tall latte on the desk near his keyboard. Steve, (who is just about the nicest guy you could meet), accidentally knocked the coffee cup over into the trader's lap, soaking his pants! The guy jumped up and screamed at Steve in a horrendous rant that was witnessed by the whole floor. Steve went out and actually bought the guy a new pair of pants! As the manager is telling me this story, I'm feeling nothing but utter sympathy for Steve. In the end, the trader called Steve at home on a Saturday to apologize for his outrageous outburst on the floor.

There are other stories, like the trader who punched his flat screen monitor, and another who threw a stapler at the monitor. Then there is the support guy who threw his hands up after 7 years, said "I can't do this anymore," and walked out. (I'm thinking, He lasted seven years? I wouldn't last seven weeks.) I'm sure I'll hear more good stories as I meet service managers in other divisions of the firm.

Since I arrived in NYC on October 5th, it's been almost all work and no play. I did have a visitor from Washington state a couple weeks ago - a former co-worker from my Microsoft days in Redmond. Funny, she had "Serendipity" on her NY to-do list, just like I do. Several years ago Oprah had raved about this $20 frozen hot chocolate concoction at Serendipity. That's how it made its way to my to-do list, but I never made it there when I lived here. There was also a John Cusak movie of the same name that featured the small upper east side restaurant.

So my friend Lisa and I ventured over there on a Saturday night but the line spilled out the door and onto the sidewalk. The wait was two hours. So we walked away to find someplace else to eat. Just around the corner, we stopped and at a restaurant called 360 (it's across from Bloomingdale's). Man it was good! I had a steak salad. Lisa, being a big "Sex and the City" fan, ordered a Cosmopolitan.

By the way, she went on and on about how nice the people are in NY and how easy it is to strike up a conversation with anyone in public. Some guy she'd met earlier at a train station sent her a text message asking her out for a drink. It was Thursday evening and we were on Broadway in Times Square. She looked up from her phone and said to me, "That never would've happened in Seattle!"

After dinner Saturday we walked up Central Park South and decided to take a carriage ride. Twenty minutes for 40 bucks! But our European driver was cute and sweet, so we enjoyed it. We gave him another $10 for taking some photos of us. Plus the weather was very summer-like for mid-October, which made it all that much more enjoyable.

Besides that, I've shopped at Century 21 at least six or seven times already. That's one drawback of living within walking distance of the World Trade Center - it's too easy to spend money at Century 21! As for living downtown, I feel a bit out of sorts here. I do miss midtown, where all the action is. This is good for now, though, because my commute is only two minutes (or three minutes if I don't catch the Walk signal on Water Street). That gives me more time to relax and recuperate from the stressful move. After all, I have to do it again in 7-1/2 months when my lease is up. Ugh.

I'm looking forward to the coming month. Today while walking home from Fulton Street Market where they were setting up the famous singing Christmas tree, I saw guys up on ladders in a park on Williams street. They were wrapping trees with strands of white lights. I smiled in anticipation of the city all lit up for the magical New York holiday season.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Kitty v2.0

It wasn't until I was nearly done signing all the adoption papers at the NY Animal Control Center up on East 110th Street yesterday when I realized that I was adopting a solid black cat on Halloween.

After a a long, packed subway ride uptown and a 30-minute wait at the NYACC this evening, I picked up my new baby and brought her home in Martin's old carry bag.

It didn't take Baby long to settle in. After checking out every room in our "huge" 1,200-square foot apartment, she went straight for the catnip-filled mouse toy on the floor - the same toy that used to be Martin's favorite.

Then she discovered the catnip-coated scratch pad under my desk and spent quite a bit of time there, rolling over and over, rubbing her body on the catnip - just like Miss Madison used to do.

Baby is quite the character. She already sniffed out and found the cabinet where I store the catnip! And she's very sweet. I've had a hard time getting a photo of her face because she moves too quickly (and my Sony Cybershot reacts too slowly - one thing I miss about 35mm SLR photography). But I'll get more shots eventually.

The shelter thinks she is a Tiffany mix. After Googling the Tiffany breed, which I'd never heard of, it appears she might very well be part Tiffany. She looks a lot like a Maine Coon. Interestingly, the two breeds have similar temperament and characteristics, so it's hard to tell what she really is. Either way, I love her. She already seems happy to be in a new home.

Baby is such a pretty girl. She had been dropped off at the shelter by a family that had received her as a gift but only kept her a couple months. I guess they were moving and couldn't take Baby with them. So the poor thing is on her fourth residence in just a few months - if you include her three days at the shelter. Fortunately, she seems quite adaptable - just like my Martin used to be.

I miss Martin so much. Every night I say good night to him right before going to sleep. And, even though I have a new sweetie to take care of, there will always be a special place in my heart for Martin. He was my boy.