Author Archives: Janna Sweenie

The Second-Greatest Apple Store Genius Bar Story Ever Told

I have a terrible habit of dropping brand-new Apple products right after I get them — and yesterday morning was no exception.  While I was at the Post Office in Queens, my less-than-two-week-old iPhone 5S slipped — “sleeked?” – from my hand and smashed on the floor breaking the screen.

Have you noticed the Post Office gives you really slick and teflon-like coated printed receipts that are, like, three feet long when you just buy one stamp? When I tried to put the receipt in the same hand as my iPhone, the receipt won, and my 5S got a whole new tutorial on the real meaning of “AirDrop.”

I was sickened.  I dropped my iPhone 4S quite a few times in the past and the screen never spidered.  Maybe the Post Office concrete floor was just too much for my new 5S beauty to handle.

I was immediately reminded of my previous, Best Apple Support Story Ever Told  experience — when my brand-new iPad was knocked out of my hands — and knew I’d have to, once again, invoke my AppleCare+ status, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

Quick end:  Apple Gave me a new phone, as you can see in the iMessage confirmation below with my husband that he captured for this story.

Longer story:  Keep reading!

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Sleeping in Public at the Queens Mall in New York City

I work near a bunch of shopping malls in Queens.  There’s one mall, in particular, that I call the “Sleeping Mall” because random men, throughout the day, flop on couches and take over chairs for hours at a time to sleep in public.

I can understand this sleepy behavior if you’ve been shopping all day and you sit down to rest your feet and you happen to nod off — that happens to all of us at times — but these men are dedicated, daily, regular ,snoozers who, as you can see in this photo from yesterday morning, even remove their shoes and fall over because they are so thoroughly swimming in deep REM tides.

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Totems of Sorrow: The 14th Street Apple Store Street Memorial to Steve Jobs

Early Friday morning, David and I journeyed into Manhattan from our home in Jersey City to get our 24″ Apple Cinema Display repaired under our AppleCare warranty. The car service cost us $80 for a 20 minute ride that felt like we were on a bucking bronco, but made it we did.  We were so early for our 9:15am Genius Bar appointment that we had to wait outside the 14th Street Apple Store for it to open.

We took turns holding the heavy Cinema Display, and since it was the morning after Steve Jobs’ death, we were surprised to see the impromptu memorials to him from Apple fans that were plastered on the store windows and decorating the ground around the entrances.  I pulled out my broken, but still trusty, iPhone 3G — yes, we successfully ordered two Verizon iPhone 4s on Friday before we went to the store — and took a few pictures of the way people memorialized Steve Jobs.

There were lots of flowers and partially eaten apples.  Candles, too.  Some thank you cards were visible and lots of newspapers and handwritten thanks we piled up.  It was really touching.  Lots of people were taking pictures of these totems of sorrow.  The time for feeling sad was done.  Now was the time for others, like me, to record the heartbreak of what happened the night before.

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Project Liberty & The Deaf Community

As a Deaf woman, the first thing that came to my mind when the Twin Towers collapsed was, “Who is going to communicate with the Deaf New Yorkers? How will we know exactly what happened and what will happen next?”

Wireless Communication
Thanks to text pagers, Deaf people communicated with each other and kept each other informed. Whatever was happening, the Deaf stayed in touch on a one-to-one basis and they updated each other as to the missing and the injured. They told each other, with fingers flying on tiny keyboards, how many firefighters were missing and how the Police were handling the street level crises arising from the terrorist strike. Many of my Deaf friends told me their Hearing families and friends outside of New York would page them and ask where they were when it happened and if they were OK.

For the literate Deaf who know how to spell and who can type on an American keyboard, that sort of instant text communication was fine, but what about the Deaf from other countries who did not know how to spell in English? New York City has a huge immigrant Deaf population and many of them have no language whatsoever. What about the illiterate Deaf and the Deaf who are developmentally disabled or mentally ill or are so poor they cannot afford a text pager? How would these disenfranchised Deaf ever get a feeling of knowledge and safety?

Project Liberty
I found the answer in Project Liberty. Project Liberty is a program sponsored by the State of New York that helps anyone and everyone who is having a hard time coping. Project Liberty paid me, as a Deafness professional, to travel to Deaf people’s homes and talk to them one-on-one and in groups about what happened on September 11th.

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Interpreting for Cyndi Lauper

A former co-worker asked me to translate songs for the Deaf into American Sign Language, my native language, for the Gay & Lesbian Pride Rally on Father’s Day, June 21st. I said, “Sure, give me a call.”

The Call
When the call actually came, I had no idea I’d have the grandest opportunity to “sing” with Cyndi Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and True Colors Lauper! While I’m neither Gay nor Lesbian nor Trans-Gender whatever, I still felt I could play a support role in contributing to the event by providing a Deaf interpretation of Cyndi’s songs for the Deaf.

The coordinator for the sign language interpreters assigned all three of Cyndi’s songs to me! I was thrilled. I am Deaf and I depend upon vibrations and some hearing in order to perform these artistic interpretations so I really had to practice and I only had one week! I was given an audio cassette of Cyndi’s songs along with a lyric sheet for each song. Using both the tape and the words, I was able to de-construct the song down to its ASL core.

(NOTE: I also interpreted a song from the hit Broadway musical, Rent, but this article will deal only with Cyndi.)

The Interpreting Trick
When people see other people use sign language, it is generally assumed by those not in the know that they are really watching ASL (American Sign Language) when they are actually seeing PSE (Pidgin Signed English). At the rally ASL was used. ASL is a language that has its roots in French with its own unique syntax and rules that are not English.

ASL is a visual language where facial expression and body movements are as important as nouns and verbs in identifying people, place and time. If you happen to see someone signing without very obvious facial expressions, you are not seeing ASL. You are seeing PSE and that isn’t the same as pure ASL.

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The New York Black Street Slang Exam

Welcome to the Go Inside New York Black Street Slang Exam!

Before the politically correct police bust us — brand us racist bigots — and toss us to the thought cops… let me explain why I’m posting this “Exam” here.

I’m posting it because I failed it. Everyone I know failed it. I am a woman from Council Bluffs, Iowa and my parents are Irish and German: You can’t get Whiter or more Wonder Bread than that! (Some of my friends tease me that you can’t get any more “Redneck” than that!)

This test is a fascinating lesson in the culture of a language and a language as a culture. Don’t think of this exam as a “test” think of it more as an “examination.”

Most agree that all cultures must better understand each other. That spirit of understanding is what will drive me here in this article. I’ll try to help shed some light on the varied aspects of as many cultures as I can possibly find to share with you.

The exam is not an assault upon New York. I’d love to post a Los Angeles version of this exam or a Redmond, Washington version or a Lincoln, Nebraska version if they exist! Let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter.

This exam originally appeared on The Howard Stern Radio Show and it was quite real and not a joke. I can’t stand Howard or his show, but I can’t let my personal feelings bother this issue.

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Janna’s Extra-Easy Delightfully-Delicious Lasagne

[NOTE: To make this lasagne recipe Vegan or Strictly Vegetarian, simply replace the ground beef with portabella mushrooms and sliced colossal (really big!) black olives. Then make certain the noodles are egg-free (DeBoles is a good brand). Next, replace the all the cheeses with an Extra-Firm Tofu that has been thoroughly drained and then crushed with a fork. It's truly terrific, I promise! Enjoy! -- Janna]

Believe it or not, lasagne is quite a popular dish in Iowa, and the mark of being an expert cook in the Midwest is just how good your lasagne tastes. I make a mean lasagne. When I moved to New York, home of Little Italy and other great taste treats, I thought my lasagne recipe would be challenged.

Competition?
Well, let me say that after ten years of tasting the lasagne competition, my lasagne recipe is still the tops! It tastes great. It’s NOT less filling. My lasagne is extra-easy to make and super-delicious to eat!

Taste for Yourself
I share my famous recipe with you now so you can taste for yourself. This is yet another Go Inside exclusive! What’s great about this lasagne recipe is that you don’t have to cook the lasagne noodles first.

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