40 Thoughts From My Morning Commute

I tried to let this sad blog die. I deprived it and ignored it. But still, people read it? Still, they post comments and complain? What's it going to take for people to leave me to my blog-o-silence? Maybe a little stream-of-consciousness will do the trick...

40 Thoughts From My Morning Commute
  1. 2/3 or B/C?
  2. Uhhh... it's a little cold, but the walk would be nice: 2/3.
  3. Probably the only fresh air I'll enjoy until 8 tonight.
  4. iPod? headphones?
  5. No, seriously, just enjoy the walk. Listen to the city, the park. Allow someone to start a conversation with you.
  6. Well, enjoy the park, anyway. Wait a little bit before entering the audible cocoon.
  7. It's really not very cold. This is 40?
  8. Either that, or this is a really good coat.
  9. No, I think it's just not very cold.
  10. Strange for December 1st... this is supposed to be winter?
  11. Oh wait, winter is December thru February. No, March. So winter's really just starting.
  12. Why do I always think that winter is over by January?
  13. Probably because in Texas we started our soccer season on January 2nd every year. Yikes!
  14. I'm glad I live where there are seasons.
  15. Train's coming, hurry up.
  16. Oh crap I totally forgot my - no, I got it.
  17. Okay, good swipe, but fast. Make sure you see the 'Go' before running through this time.
  18. Shoot, it's uptown.
  19. Lots of people waiting for the downtown. That's good, I didn't just miss it.
  20. Wait, it's too many people. There must be a problem.
  21. Not what I need today.
  22. Why did I move so slowly this morning? I had plenty of time. I could ha-
  23. Oh good, headlights.
  24. Hurry with the headphones before the train moves.
  25. Let's see, what should I listen to? How about This American Life?
  26. Geez, how can it be so hot in here?
  27. Is anyone else sweating? Doesn't look like it.
  28. This is a good coat.
  29. OK, just relax and think cool thoughts.
  30. Like what?
  31. I need a seat.
  32. Ok, that woman has her bag in her lap like she's ready to go. Stand in front of her.
  33. Good, sitting now. Successful commute.
  34. I wonder what the This American Life people look like. I don't even really have an image in my head when I listen.
  35. Get a good hold on the briefcase and rest your eyes. That's g...
  36. ...
  37. ...
  38. ...
  39. ... Hehe, I wonder if anyone was watching me sl-
  40. Wall Street, oh crap!


Keep Off the Grass

Well we're fourteen months into the Frederick Douglass Circle project and from what I understand -- although the project was supposed to be done this November -- there are still fourteen months to go! Meanwhile, the entire sidewalk in front of our building has been dug up -- steps, trees, and yes... grass. Posted by Picasa



I was sick this weekend. I don't want to get into the details, but let's just say that there was a period of intermittent "fireworks" followed by a day and a half of low-grade misery. I was dead tired, my head ached, my body ached, I couldn't eat. At the end of the second day I managed to drag myself out of the apartment and take the dog to the bathroom, but that was only because it was dark and I didn't want Beth to go into the park alone. I threw the tennis ball a couple times for Mia, which in my weakened state caused my shoulder to be sore!

My sickness lasted only a few days beginning to end, and during that time there was not really anything that I felt like doing. I didn't think about work, I didn't read or write email, I didn't work on homework, … I probably could have gone through the motions of doing those things, but the pain I was in would have been way too big of a distraction. For me this was only temporary, but imagine if one day you got sick and the pain never went away.

It was six years ago this month that my wife Beth got sick. She contracted a virus that made her ill and gave her a very high fever for two weeks. The trauma of this illness screwed with her central nervous system and gave her the condition of fibromyalgia (more info). Her fibromyalgia will never go away, although it may possibly get better with time. It makes Beth's bones sore, her joints stiff, her muscles throb, sometimes to the point of being bedridden. It causes her to become fatigued much sooner than she normally would and requires her recovery from activity to be much longer than it normally would, usually a day or more. It causes sleeplessness which can sometimes be treated with medication, which can sometimes cause nightmares. Beth has endured these pains every day during the last part of 1999, all of 2000, all of 2001, all of 2002, all of 2003, all of 2004, and so far all of 2005… six years.

I thought about Beth all weekend. Every time that I whined about my headache or my backache. Every time that I struggled to walk across the room. Every time that I thought, 'I should be…' helping with the dishes, gathering the laundry, reading for class, feeding/walking the dog, paying the bills… and then pardoned myself with '…but I'm too sick.' When I'm feeling bad, I can't imagine having the strength and determination to get off my butt and do any of those things, but Beth does so much more.

I can't begin to say what a tragedy it is that Beth is sick. She is a brilliant social worker, one of the few people I know who really distinguished themselves in graduate school... and in her case it was a prestigious, competitive, top-two-schools-for-social-work-in-the-country graduate school, the Columbia University School of Social Work. The fact that she is unable to share her gift with the world – to live her calling – is heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking every single day. But she chooses not to dwell on it. She works as much as she can and makes a difference to the people she works with. She volunteers her time at every opportunity, often with full awareness that doing so will put her “out of commission” for a day or more.

Getting a sore shoulder from throwing a tennis ball allowed me to temporarily get a very small taste of fibromyalgia. As much as I hate being sick, I'm grateful for an occasional taste. The fact that Beth’s attitude can sometimes cause me to forget about fibromyalgia tells you everything you need to know about her character.


I Take Responsibility

Bush says that he takes responsibility for failures in dealing with Katrina. I didn't think that he had it in him -- he didn't acknowledge his tax cuts had anything to do with the deficit, didn't hold anyone of significance accountable for killing and abusing prisoners in Iraq, and didn't hold anyone (period) accountable for the WMD intelligence failures which led to the war. Now for once he's acted like the "MBA President" we were all told to expect: he's fired and replaced his worthless friend to whom he gave the FEMA job, he's said "I am responsible," and he seems to be committed to giving the situation the attention that it deserves. Good.

Unfortunately, his acceptance of responsibility wasn't unqualified; His statement was actually "to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility." This leaves room for the possibility that the federal government did do its job right, which I think is generally agreed to be ridiculous.

Still, you can't ask someone to change five years of bad habits overnight... it's a step in the right direction.


Turning 30, Part 6

... in the end, turning 30 was pretty nice.

Turning 30, Part 5

... where our tent showed its fortitude against a midnight thunderstorm ...

Turning 30, Part 4

... to Pharoah Lake ...

Turning 30, Part 3

... then we drove a few hours upstate and hiked about five miles ...

Turning 30, Part 2

... then my birthday week continued with great friends, many margaritas, and delicious birthday cake.

Turning 30, Part 1

My birthday week began with the U.S.-Trinidad World Cup Qualifying match. The game was in Hartford, Connecticut on Wednesday, 8-17.


An Energy Bill We Can All Be Proud Of

I think Jon Stewart said it best...

Stewart: "Energy is clearly an important topic with Americans. That's why before going on recess, congress broke a four year impasse by approving a massive energy bill. And while it did nothing to address our dependence on foreign oil, ... or fuel efficiency, ... or in any way simplify the strategic nature of our relationship with the middle east, ... it does give oil and gas industries $500 million for research and $2.7 billion in tax breaks, even though a company like Exxon Mobil made $7.6 billion in pure profit just this last quarter. And by quarter, ... I mean three months."

"Now, you may find the idea of government using billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize oil companies as the antithesis of private free market capitalism. You... are wrong."

Joe Barton, Rep., Texas: "This bill is based on the premise that we believe in private free market capitalism to develop the resources of this land in a cost efficient fashion."

Stewart: "Oh my god, we have a winner! Congratulations Representative Joe Barton, you have achieved a lie-to-word ratio of one-to-one! I don't think that's ever been done before."

"There's a very simple explanation for why insanely rich oil companies get money from the government. It's called 'The Oil Cycle'. We begin with the American Family, a hard-working people who have developed a taste for powerful engines and stretch televisions. Through a natural process known as Taxation, the income of these families is broken down and re-absorbed back into a system we call The Government. The Government swallows these funds and converts them into what are called Subsidies, some of which go to giant, profitable oil companies. That 'found' money can then be used to look for new sources of oil, and to use the public's need for this oil to rape them for profits. These profits are then stored in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands to avoid a process known as Taxation, which was discussed earlier. The Government then... gives them more money."


Which is bigger?

Which is bigger: the percentage of people in the U.S. who say that they live paycheck-to-paycheck or the percentage of people in Mexico who say that they live paycheck-to-paycheck?

The percentage of Americans is 28%, while the percentage of Mexicans is 7%. Quite striking considering the per capita GDP of the U.S. is about 25 times as big as Mexico's.

What can account for this? Maybe for Americans it is worth living paycheck-to-paycheck as long as they can consume massive amounts of goods and services. Maybe we have a serious "keeping up with the Joneses" issue. Maybe we're more susceptible (gullible) to savvy advertising. Or maybe we have too much available credit and too little self-restraint.

I hope to be posting a few words on credit soon: Some thoughts about how it can be a really good thing and a really bad thing, our "success story" of how we carried huge credit card debt for years without paying any interest, and more. Look for it some time before August (give me a break, I'm in summer school!)


New Meaning to "Get Right Church"

I am in the middle of writing my term papers, but I can't help stopping to post regarding this ridiculous thing I just read.

Backing up... Last week I was outraged to read about something called "Justice Sunday", a political rally that took place at a church in Louisville, Kentucky. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson shared the stage with Senator Bill Frist and shared this pearl: "The future of democracy and ordered liberty actually depends on the outcome of this struggle." He was talking about ending filibusters, by the way.

And then tonight I read... a church in North Carolina voted out nine church members because they refused to support President Bush. I didn't mistype. The pastor of the church told members last fall that anyone who planned to vote for John Kerry needed to leave the church. Here's the link, you have to read it to believe it.

I've had enough of this. I'm tired of Christians -- ministers! -- allowing themselves to get pushed around by politicians who have reduced the idea of moral values down to abortion and gay marriage. Why do they find it acceptable to ignore thousands of verses about poverty, protecting God's creation the environment, and war? Is anyone actually reading the New Testament??

This is too infuriating and I've got to get back to my work...

I guess I can be thankful that my minister teaches from the writings of Paul rather than the talking points of Karl Rove.



this is a pathetic topic for a post, but I needed to write something... it's been too long.

Top 10 reasons that I love New York Sports Club

10. quick check-in
9. i can get into more than 140 locations
8. reservation system for classes
7. showers are only somewhat nasty
6. "club abs" - who'd have thought that it's possible to do 25 minutes of crunches?
5. spinning class - turn down the lights and let me enter the zone...
4. "xpressline" - a weight workout for every muscle group in less than 20 minutes
3. boxing class - taught by a former pro, the most tiring 75 minutes ever
2. no ambient music!
1. it's exactly 43 steps from the front door of the New York Stock Exchange



American political campaigns increasingly approach the naked avowal of their function as a potlatch. In the potlatch, Pacific-Northwest Indians would set fire to all they own, in an attempt to gain status over a rival - daring their opponent to match their power to destroy. The pols, likewise, involve their rooters in a potlatch of waste: Party A must be more powerful than Party B (and, so, more worthy of fealty) as their ability to waste is greater. How odd, when, one would think, the politicians' primary responsibility would be to act responsibly in management of the assets of their constituents.

- excerpt from "Pleasure Pilgrims" by David Mamet



As I requested in my 2/12 post, we got our snow! Maybe not quite as much as I had hoped, but enough to provide some nice pictures. Check out a few of them below...

Snow-covered Gates at our corner

Snow-covered Gates at softball fields

Snow-covered Gates

Snow-covered Gates at The Pool

Snow-covered Gates


What's the Story?

I'd like to try a game. I'll describe something I glimpsed today on the way to class and you make up the backstory.

Walking through the village at 5:45pm, I passed a nice restaurant just outside of which I saw a man - about 28 years old - using a fine-toothed comb and a small pair of scissors to trim the eyebrows of another man - perhaps 50 years old - who grumpily endured the grooming.

So what's the rest of the story?


'The Gates' Is Up!

We spent our first few hours today walking Mia in the park, checking out 'The Gates'. It has been an interesting process to be in the park every day for the last several weeks as the installation has gradually gone up. It created an anticipation that might otherwise not have been there.

I have many reactions to The Gates. I appreciate it on a technical level. This is probably atypical, but I have a real appreciation for the precision with which each gate was constructed and the planning that was required to install something on such a scale that would survive in Central Park for 16 days. I also appreciate how such a simple concept has completely transformed the park. Thanks to Mia, we know our little corner of the park like the backs of our hands; It's wonderful to walk into it and feel like we're seeing it again for the first time. I appreciate how it interacts with its natural setting (suspend criticism of central park as a natural setting). There are long stretches where gates are placed every 12 feet and then there is a long break to make room for a tree. Then contrast those long, level stretches with the hills on our end of the park for a completely different impression. In addition, the weather is a huge contributor. As you can see from the pictures below, the sun and the wind add to the effect. I really hope it snows some time in the next two weeks...

What I haven't been able to appreciate yet is viewing the whole thing at once. Of the 7,500 gates, I probably haven't seen more than 100 at a given time. I am going to try to see it from the top of the Time Warner building this week. Not sure if my little camera is going to be much good from that distance.

We ran into Christo and Jeanne-Claude, creators of The Gates

on the great hill

Directly across from our apartment

The softball fields from the east


3 cool new tools

one from amazon, one from google, and one from microsoft

A9 Yellow Pages
When you tell A9 to find a starbucks near west 110th street, it not only gives you the address but it shows you a photo of the storefront and the storefronts of the adjacent businesses.

Google Video
Remember that Seinfeld episode where Kramer has a line in a movie...? Something about pretzels...? Try searching for "Title:seinfeld pretzels" Be sure to click on the result when it comes up.

MSN Search
Microsoft finally released its "google-killer." It's actually pretty good. MS is taking advantage of its resources such as Encarta encyclopedia. Try searching for "what is the volume of lake michigan?" or "what is the capital of madagascar?" For me, the coolest part about MSN Search is that the bottom of every results page has a link to RSS (for more information about RSS, go here)


Mixed Veggies

I had mixed vegetables with my lunch yesterday. What kind of a dish is just called "mixed vegetables"? Do you ever see "grilled meats" on the menu? No, of course not. Yet many menus offer a side simply called "mixed vegetables."

So which vegetables would you expect in mixed vegetables? Cauliflower, carrots, and brocolli. Peas, carrots, and corn. Green beans, onions, and potatoes. There are dozens of combinations - I could throw lima beans or peppers into any of the above combinations!!

The only conclusion that I can reach on this issue: culinary experts have determined that any three vegetables, when eaten together, taste exactly the same.


Signs of abundance

It's not just my imagination. It's not just the fad of larger and larger SUVs. It's apparently not just me who thinks he needs a 42-inch plasma screen to feel complete as a human being. We are truly the spoiled brats of the world...

The average size of a new house in the U.S.
1949: 1,100 sq. ft.
1970: 1,385 sq. ft.
1993: 2,060 sq. ft.
2004: 2,466 sq. ft.
(In case you were wondering, the size of the typical U.S. household (# of people) has dropped in the last 50 years.)

There are more automobiles in the U.S. than there are licensed drivers.

We have so much crap that doesn't fit in our 2,466 sq. ft. houses, that self-storage is now a $17 billion annual industry -- nearly double Hollywood's yearly box office take.


greetings friends,

i may not have the time to be as diligent as many of you in keeping the blog updated, but i will do my best. i have deleted all of my pre-election posts - well, all of my posts actually - so this is a clean slate. i will try to cover a variety of topics and include many pictures to keep it as entertaining as possible.