Updated: 2/5/02 Click here for Zbonia archive


This gay lady on the train, when I say gay I mean like she sounded homosexual, kept talking about AIDS and stories of people that she knew that died of it. I felt like Wesley from Mr. Belvidere. I know we live in a more open and politically correct time, but come on lady, take this convos some where else and don't use a quiet L train as your arena to voice this shit. Horizontal scroll bars on websites blow. Fix them idiots. Why did Matt Batt's cat get so fat? My bowling team has or will kick your ass. My favorite soup is Mullet-gatani. Are you mad at me? I am happy.


Email Attachment of the Week

Joke of the Week

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say, "I'm fantastic in bed." That's Direct Marketing. You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says, "He's fantastic in bed." That's Advertising. You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day you call and say, "Hi, I'm fantastic in bed." That's Telemarketing. You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl. You get up and straighten your tie, you walk up to her and pour her a drink. You open the door for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her a ride, and then say, "By the way,I'm fantastic in bed." That's Public Relations. You're at a party and see a gorgeous girl. She walks up to you and says,"I hear you're fantastic in bed." That's Brand Recognition.

Email Train of the Week - usually have to read these bottom to top

Andrew P Ziola

help keep retarded children clean

"Mark Moroni"

def leppard.

From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com


From: AZiola@focal.com [mailto:AZiola@focal.com]


"Mark Moroni"


From: <AZiola@focal.com


"Mark Moroni"


From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com


From: Mark Moroni [mailto:]


From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com


From: Mark Moroni [mailto:]

hebrew national.

From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com


From: Mark Moroni [mailto:]


From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com


From: Mark Moroni []


From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com


From: Mark Moroni


at least here i'm among friends.

From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com

than you must feel pretty comfortable there

From: Mark Moroni


big time.

From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com

what is it like geek central out there?

From: AZiola@focal.com [mailto:AZiola@focal.com]


"Mark Moroni"

nope, i was turning the corner and i almost ran into the fuck head.

From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com

did you talk to the guy?

From: Mark Moroni

i don't - i need tons of sleep.

i may need feel good today, but i look damn good.

i just walked past a dude that had his pants pulled up to his neck.

it looked real funny.

From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com

the night before i didn't fall asleep til like 5:00am

i do fine on little sleep

From: Mark Moroni


i hate having only 6 hours of sleep.

plus it sux that i'm all congested.

From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com

1:30am or so

From: Mark Moroni

what time were you up until?

From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com

i feel fine/ great today

From: AZiola@focal.com

this bowling on tuesdays is gonna catch up with me fast

Amy Dowsek

i say do it

From: Mark Moroni

now i'm tired and wanna pull a costanza and sleep under my desk.

From: "Amy Dowsek" <Amy.Dowsek@dig.com


From: Mark Moroni

all i've had to eat for the past 2 days in chinese food.

lunch & dinner yesterday and lunch today.

Mark Moroni

Love, Z E-mail me if you have anything you want to post on this page

from old focal guy. this has to be the longest email anyone has ever typed - it is like friggin 20 trains in one.

Special Edition Section


This is a special edition of my newsletter with an expanded distribution
list. For those who don't know, I periodically send out an email with
what has been going on in my life. I know it has been quite some time
since I wrote and a lot has happened. But I'm not going to say anything
about that because I just want to tell you all the news that Michelle
Osburn and I are engaged. If you do not know her, she is a manager at
Accenture I have known for many years. And a fabulous woman too! :)

For those who who are convinced I'm a total unromatic clod, I will tell you
that 1) Yes, I'm the one who asked and 2) I did buy her a ring. Beyond
that there was no big production or elaborate setup. I proposed in my
living room before we went to dinner. I believe she was fairly surpised.
I proposed on Thursday. We already had a fairly elaborate holiday party
planned for Friday so it worked out great and we were able to celebrate
with a number of our friends.

We are both very excited. We have not set a wedding date yet, but
whenever it ends up happening, we are planning for it to be in Chicago.

Happy Holidays everybody!


Ok, so I've been back with the firm soon to be formerly known as Andersen
Consulting for about two months. In that period of time I've been
to San Francisco, Toronto, New York, Washington DC, and Seattle. And that
doesn't count the vacation I took to Paris. I'm racking up the frequent
flyer miles like crazy. I fully expected to be staffed on a out of town
project, but I didn't expect to be all over the map in a short period of
time. It's been interesting, that is for sure. Since I've been traveling
so much, this message will be more travelogue than life update.

San Francisco

This is one of my favorite cities in the whole world, but I was only
here for 10 hours. My plane touched down at 1am and I was on am 11am
flight back to Chicago. I went out there for a proposal presentation.
Interestingly, this was actually before I technically started work at
AC. I finished up my work at Focal at 5pm, went to an AC meeting after
work, then jumped on a plane to San Francisco. Needless to say, I
didn't get to do anything cool here.


I was here for a couple days but didn't get to do much. This was actually
my first trip outside the United States ever. I'm not exactly the most
widely traveled person in the world (though as you can tell that is
chaning rapidly). This was not much of a foreign trip. Toronto is
the city that is most like Chicago of anyplace I've ever been. Flying
into the airport (which has the unlikely code of YYZ, btw) you pass over
suburbs that are just like Chicago's. The city itself is also similar
with only the street cars and weird looking green commuter trains to
make it look really different. I managed to get by the entire time without
using any Canadian money. I shoved my American dollars right down their
throats. The limo driver from the airport even gave me change in American

It was a six block walk from the hotel to the office where I was working.
On one trip it started sprinkling so I decided to grab a cab. Big mistake.
This guy was from - where else? - Pakistan, didn't speak a lick of English,
and didn't know where the hell he was going. I gave him the address
and helpfully pointed down the street, but he still turned down an alley and
started driving off the wrong direction. And he refused to change course
when I started yelling about it. I almost had to strangle the guy to
get him going the right way. Like I said, just like Chicago.

And don't believe any BS about how Canada's quasi-socialist kinder, gentler
social service system somehow eliminates all the problems we have in the
US. There are homeless people everywhere in Toronto. Like I said,
just like Chicago.

I was there on election night and had a typical AC dinner with a group
of Canadian clients who expressed great puzzlement at it all. I got back
to my hotel room about 1am and turned on the set to see who won. I fully
expected it to be Gore since when I left the networks were reporting states
like Georgia too close to call and when one of the AC folks arrived at
the restaurant, he said Florida had just been called for Gore. But as it
turned out, the election was still up in the air. Florida had been
retracted from Gore and there were only four states left. I cracked open
a beer and figured I'd just wait to see who won. Well, about 3:30am when
I finished off the mini-bar, I got to see the whole concession and
retraction fiasco. In the morning - a very unpleasant morning on only
2 hours sleep I might add - the papers were calling Bush the winner.
Naturally we all know what happened afterwards.

BTW: Georgia ended up going for Bush in a landslide. He won it by 12%.
And of course Florida appears to have gone for Bush in the end. These were
only two of the network election projections that seemed to be very off
in favor of Gore. Several states that Bush won handily were initially
listed as too close to call. I can't help but wonder how much this
affected turnout on both sides as it looked like Gore would coast to victory.

Since I got shipped here before my company had set me up with access to
their travel reservation system, I was forced to rely on a partner's
executive assistant to make all of my reservations. This had its advantages.
For example, I was booked in first class on the airline. The hotel was
also an experience. I stayed at Le Royal Meridien/King Edward and when I
went to the front desk to check in, they said I was supposed to go up to
the 10th floor. Ok, I go up there and there's a woman sitting an expensive
looking wood desk who checks me in and informs me of all the wonderful
services they have on their executive level. This included free beer
and hors d'oeuvres at an extended happy hour. Score!

New York

The Big Apple. What can you say, it's New York. I actually got a chance
to stay here for a few days and it looks like I'll be making at least a
few return trips. I've been staying at the Hilton in Midtown which is
conveniently located to the AC office there - it's right across the street -
but isn't the best location for a lot of things like seeing rock concerts.

The first thing you need to know about New York is that everybody wears
black. If you plan on going out to dinners or bars there and don't want
to look like a tourist, you'd better put in a good supply of black clothes.

I was actually disappointed with a lot of things. The legendary New York
crowds never materialized, even though this was Christmas shopping season
and I was only a block off 5th Ave. In fact, the place was quite empty
after dark. I went to go see a film at 10:30pm and there were literally
only 3 people in the theatre. I got there 5 minutes before show time
and was the only person there. I was actually kind of disappointed when
other people showed up because I'd never had a theatre all to myself
before. So much for the "city that never sleeps".

In this regard staying in Midtown is a lot like living in the Chicago Loop.
During the day it is packed with office workers and tourists but at night
turns into a ghost town. It is also not really a neighborhood. There
are a lot of "cool" things to do but not a lot of regular things. I
couldn't find a single convenience or liquor store nearby, for example.
On the plus side, it is not nearly as expensive as you might think. There
are plenty of delis and pizza by the slice places where you can get edible
if unspectacular food at reasonable prices. The worst case of sticker
shock was when I got charged $3 per shirt just to have them pressed. Not
laundered or dry cleaned, just pressed. Ridiculous.

New York is obviously the land of the restaurant and I've been lucky
enough to sample a few. Unfortunately, I've yet to be to a place that has
really blown me away. Just for the record:

Sparks Steak House: solid and reasonably priced. The place seats 650 and
it was packed when I went there - on a Tuesday night. You absolutely need
a reservation anyplace in this town.

Trattoria Del Arte: adequate Italianesque food, but overpriced. Caters to
the expense account crowd.

China Grill: fusion cuisine (I thought that went out of style a few year's
back) heavy on meat with generous portions, but only adequate tasting.
An overpriced expense account place.

Whatever else you can say about New York, it is definitely New York. A
one of a kind city. There's nothing quite like walking its streets.

Washington DC

Another day trip. I flew out on the 6am flight and back on the 4:25pm.
I'd never been to this city before and I guess I really still haven't.
All I saw was the AC office there and the facades of office buildings
lining the interstate.


Ok, this was the real deal. I took a true vacation for the first time since
junior high. I was there for six days and I was the all out tourist,
hitting almost all of the major tourist sites. Yes, the city is very cool.
There is no denying that. Much is made of the supposed superior lifestyles
that the Europeans live, but I personally prefer what we have in the US.
A few observations:

1. Paris is dirt cheap right now. With the euro in the gutter, you can
travel to the Continent at incredibly cheap rates. A week in a hotel
there was less than $500. In New York city, the list rate on my hotel
was $400+ PER NIGHT and I actually paid over $300 with an AC discount.
I'll admit that I was worried about the hotel we picked. It was a small
place called the Hotel St. Jacques in the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank.
I figured something had to be wrong when the list rate was $80/night.
But it turned out to be a very nice, charming little hotel. The room was
fairly small but certainly adequate. I didn't go there to spend a lot of
time in my room anyway. But most of all it had a fully modern bathroom
that was up to US standards. In fact, the bathroom in the hotel was by
far the best one I saw the whole time I was there.

One thing to keep in mind about France is that the unit of currency is
basically the dime. There are 7.6 francs to the dollar which means a franc
is worth about 13 cents. Believe it or not they do have sub-franc coins
but they are seldom used and most prices are rounded to the nearest franc.
Their paper money is multi-colored and monopoly-esque. Be sure to withdrawl
plenty out of the cash machine. Taking out 100Fr is like taking out
15 bucks.

2. Saint Chappelle is better than Notre Dame. The cathedral of Notre
Dame is clearly one of the ugliest structures ever conceived by man. A
brutual hulk of a building, it is almost inconceivable that anyone
actually likes this. The most disturbing part about Notre Dame apart from
its hideous architecture is the total lack of anything remotely resembling
respect shown for its religious nature. I went there on a Sunday and
services were in session, but they were still letting tourists walk around
inside. The tourists were in there snapping photos and buying post cards
at the souvenier stand in back as the priest went on with the service.
Pretty wild. I was reminded of the time Jesus ran the money-changers out
of the temple and couldn't help but thinking He might have pulled an encore
if He'd been there in the flesh this time. Of course I was walking around
inside myself ....

But right around the corner from Notre Dame is another old church called
Saint Chappelle. It is very difficult to find because it is inside the
courtyard of the police headquarters - you actually have to go through the
police metal detectors to get in - and you have to pay admission, but it
is far nicer than Notre Dame. It's a small church, and rather run down, but
on the second floor chapel there are amazing stained glass windows that
depict almost the entire story of the Bible. I thought this place was
incredible. You can see a pic of one of the windows here:


3. The Musee d'Orsay is better than the Louvre. Ok, you'd never forgive
yourself if you went to Paris and didn't see the Mona Lisa, but the best
museum I saw there - perhaps the best I've ever seen - is the one right across
the river: the Musee d'Orsay. The problem with the Louvre is that it is
just too damned big. The place is massive. If I had gone to the Louvre
and only the Louvre every day in Paris, I still probably wouldn't have
gotten through the place. You could spend hours just looking through
the galleries devoted to just one type of art. Because of that - and the
massive line to get in - this is one of the more painful museums to visit.
Unless you have days and days to devote to art, your best bet is probably
to run in and see the famous pieces and get out. That appears to be
what most people where doing as the galleries around the Mona Lisa and
such were jammed but most of the rest of the galleries I visited were
completely deserted. Heck, I had a few Leonardo's all too myself just
around the corner from the Mona Lisa because nobody apparently knew or
cared they were there. The Louvre and many other Paris attractions are
closed Tuesday - a fact I learned after Warren Young's "Paris is closed"
experience - so I went on Sunday when there is actually a discount on

One museum that is opened on Tuesdays is the Musee d'Orsay. Built in the
old Gare d'Orsay train station, this museum was opened within the last
few decades to house 19th century paintings. This is one museums you will
want to block out 4-8 hours for to see everything top to bottom. The
quality across the board is incredibly high. But for those who aren't
willing to do that, go straight to the top level where there is room after
room of Degas, Monet, Cezanne, Renior, Van Gogh, Manet, and so on. This
museum probably has 25 times more impressionist masterpieces than the
Art Institute of Chicago. As this is the sort of things most of us
philistines consider art, it is probably the most accessible collection of
works you'll ever come across. This is a not to be missed experience.

4. The Arc de Triomphe is better than the Tour Eiffel. The Arc de Triomphe
is that massive arch built in the middle of a huge traffic circle. Seeing
the cars go around that circle like some kind of bizarre demolition derby
makes a trip here worth it by itself, but seeing the architecture of this
arch itself, and the view from the top of it, are killer. Napoleon started
building this to celebrate his victories. Although he was defeated before
completion, the French went ahead and finished it. There are any number of
inscriptions on it, such as one commemorating the return of Alsace after
World War I. But I didn't see any mention of the US rescuing their asses
twice this century. The bragging about grand armies is pretty questionable
IMO, but I guess you've got to let everyone have their conceits. One of
the greatest humiliations in French history was the German Army marching
into the city under the Arc.

The Eiffel is much taller than the Arc but also quite a bit uglier. I
went there, but there was a huge line to get up to the top so we bagged
it because we were so tired.

5. The catacombs are freaky. The buildings of Paris are made of stone,
much of it quarried from under the city itself. As the city grew, a question
came up: what do we do with all the dead people? The cemetaries were all
full so the city started sticking bones in the old mining tunnels under
the city. Some of these are open to the public where you can see room after
room after room of human bones stacked like firewood. An estimated 5-6
million people are buried here. It is a quite the sight to behold.

6. There's no such thing as service in Paris. I know what you're thinking.
"Aaron's such an asshole that this doesn't surprise me." But I'm totally
serious here. The people are very friendly and helpful but the standards
of what constitutes service are very differnt from the US. For example,
you'll often read in guidebooks that Parisians like to linger over their
meals. Well, in Paris, you don't have any choice. Every meal is slow.
And waiters only come to your table at fixed times. They show up to take
your drink order and drop off menues, to take your food order, to drop
off your food, to bring you coffee and dessert, and to bring your check.
That's basically it. You don't have people stopping by and asking if you
need anything. If your drink glasses are empty, that is just too bad.
It is up to you to flag down a server to bring you some more. I figured this
out quick and switched to ordering bottles of wine so I could dispense
my own. The Beaujolais Nouveau had just come out and that was an easy
default bottle I could order - and pronounce - and it looked like 90% of
most other people were getting it too. Speaking of other diners, I kept
a close eye on other tables to ensure they were getting the exact same
treatment and they were. Most of them progressed at the same exactly pace
as my table and they got no more frequent visits from servers. So I
don't think I was getting the second class treatment. Supposedly the
term "bistro" came from Russian soldiers yelling "bistrot!", which means
"hurry up", at servers in Paris cafes, and I can very much believe this.

7. There is no difference between a cafe, brasserie, or bistrot. They
all have a bar (seating optional) serving beer, wine, and various drinks,
scattered tables throughout, espresso, food, and lousy service. There
are huge differences between establishments of course, but no distinction
based on the words "cafe", "brasserie", or "bistrot" in the title. If you
want a drink, these are the places to go. Paris really does not have
bars in the American sense of the word. One thing that does stand out about
Paris cafes is the ornate decor (interesting murals, woodwork, etc) you
find in many very casual and inexpensive places. You don't find nearly
as many crappy low end establishments as you do here. Even cheap places
try to make themselves look nice.

8. Parisians have terrible taste in music. The very first cafe we visited
was playing a French version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". It went downhill
from there. Most places played very bad American pop, usually in English
but occasionally with French lyrics. I suspect that they would always use
the English lyrics except for the strict French laws limiting the amount
of English language music that can be played on the air.

9. Fun facts about French hygiene:

o The French use less soap per capita than any other EU country.
o Only about half of French people bathe daily.
o Less than half of French people wear deodorant.

This makes me very glad that I was there during a cool November week. These
facts were from a travel guidebook I had, but I can personally vouch for
one thing: deodorant ads on French TV brag about their "48 hour protection".
You can draw your own conclusions.

10. I won't bore you with my transit observations, but if you are really
interested you can read all about them on a message I posted on Usenet:


11. Fun with the French language. An "immobilier" is a real estate agent
but a "mobilier" appears to be some kind of a furniture retailer. This
bugged me to no end.

12. I finally found a building even uglier than the State of Illinois
Building in Chicago: the Pompideau Centre. This is some type of hideous
70's monstrosity that looks like a techicolor Borg cube plopped down in
the middle of Paris. How the architect ever got away with building somethink
like that in a place like Paris is beyond me.

13. Paris in incredibly ritualized and surpisingly monolithic in several
respect. Everyplace serves the exact same kind of French bread. There were
bakeries that appeared to offer some variety, but they were always mobbed
so I was never able get inside. But all I ever saw anyone come out with
was loaves of the same long French bread. Every cafe used the exact same
brand of sugar. Walking into a store or restaurant you're supposed to
greet the proprietor with "Bonjour" or "Bonsoir" depending on the time of
day. As long as you follow the forms, people will generally treat you
well. Even begging has been reduced to ritual. The homeless people (yes,
there are plenty of homeless people in France too) kneel on a backpack
and hold up a cardboard sign reading "Jai Faim" (I'm hungry). All of them
do the exact same thing. Every pharmacy uses the same green cross,
every place selling tobacco has the same Tabac sign, almost every
news stand has a yellow diamond. It is so weird.

14. I got to see an honest to goodness protest. You are always hearing
how French farmers drive their tractors out onto the highways and block all
traffic over some random grievance. This time it was the Paris sanitation
workers. This group was decidely non-militant and didn't disrupt anything.
They even had a helpful police escort clearing traffic for them.

15. Random observations:

o Newspapers (at least the English language ones) didn't have any prices
on them.
o The Wall Street Journal Europe has color.
o The microcars they have are the weirdest thing ever. Imagine just the
front seats of a US car. Incredible. A rolling death trap.
o Street addresses are totally messed up. House numbers might be
descending as you walk, then suddenly they start ascending again for
no discernable reason. There is nothing resembling the block number
concept from the US.
o One thing that is expensive is soft drinks. A can of Coke is $1.50
from a vending machine, more if you order it in a restaurant. On the
plus side, their Coke is made with real sugar.

16. French women are ugly. I did not see one really good looking woman
the whole time there that was not an Asian tourist. They just didn't have
it. On the plus side, they are all - men and woman - extremely thin. I'm
talking so thin that in the US people would be asking them if they had an
eating disorder. I can only imagine what they must think of us Americans.
They're probably physically repulsed.

Aaron M. Renn (arenn@urbanophile.com) http://www.urbanophile.com/arenn/

"We have a choice, either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable,
or to change the way that they live, and we chose the latter."
- Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, News briefing, 2001-09-18