Journals, October 2002
Thursday, October 31, 2002
Every year on the weekend after Halloween, the town of Millsboro, Delaware, draws a massive gathering of people obsessed with smashing pumpkins. Yeah, as in, squash squashing. This event is called the World Championship Punkin Chunkin. (I'll get back to you later with a definition of "chunkin.") I've never been to this event, but I hear from people I work with that it's quite a trip. Turns out there is some serious artillery involved in getting a pumpkin airborne. Example: Click here to go right to a picture of the machine that won last year.
Random quote: "So-called Generation X, the people born between 1964 and 1981, who don't get credited for much in history, can at least take solace in the fact that they saw the entire lifespan of the cassette. It was born, lived and died in their era. They made it happen, one cassette at a time." - From a Washington Post story about the fall of the audio cassette.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Now these messages
Word on the street is that it's going to be a cold, snowy winter. I just made that up, but isn't October a little early for snow around here? It snowed in State College and elsewhere in PA and NJ (but not New York City) yesterday. Bring it on.
I read that TV networks are worried about digital video recorders, which make it easy to skip commercials. If you ask me, the problem here is that most commericals are unwatchable. I'm thinking about political campaign ads, local car dealer commercials, that guy who loses weight by eating subs, and any ads that include the phrase "Ask your doctor about..." But there are some true gems. Think Super Bowl. Have you seen the IKEA ad about the abandoned lamp? Have you seen the car commercial where the guy ponders why he needs side airbags, and fantasizes a giant donut rolling straight toward his car? How about ESPN's "This is Sportscenter" ads? These commercials are better than almost anything else on TV. If all commercials were this good, people wouldn't be so inclined to skip them. I bet you could even run a cable network of nothing but really good commercials and people would watch. Until that happens, there are web sites like Ads.com (free), and AdCritic.com (charges a fee).
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
You'd better check yourself
Ug. The F train broke down on the way home yesterday and left me stranded in downtown Brooklyn, the buses got filled up, so I had to walk to another subway stop and take the M. But on my way, I stopped at the big fancy supermarket, which was the inspiration today's topic.
I've seen these new automatic self-checkout machines in supermarkets all over the place, from the Giant in Carlisle, Pa., to the Pathmark in downtown Brooklyn. What do you think of these? You probably fall into one of three categories. 1) You say, "I understand how to use these machines, and can use them to save time." 2) You say, "These machines are not for me. I'll wait in the regular checkout lines." 3) You say, "I am confused by everything around me. Where am I? What am I doing here?" I have never seen a self-checkout isle -- be it urban, suburban or rural -- that wasn't clogged with shoppers who fit in this third category. (These must be the same people who are the target audience for radio diet pill commercials.) They don't understand how the machines work, but try to use them anyway. They try to scan a whole cart of groceries. They try to pay with a check. They try to pay with rolled coins. They do bizarre things that result in the machine saying, quite pleasantly, "I'm sorry you're having trouble. Please see the attendant for assistance." Self-checkout machines were supposed to save shoppers time and save supermarkets money. But these machines -- like those people in category three -- have not lived up to their potential.
Monday, October 28, 2002
I saw a TV commercial for a new mobile phone that shows you the current weather radar map on a little color screen. You can see where it's raining in your area. Seems simple enough. Now think about all the technology that makes that possible. It took some very ingenious advances in weather radar, the Internet, radio and wireless networks, LCD screens, batteries, and so on. Most of that technology has blossomed only within the past 20 years or so. Who would have thought it would all come together that way? And what are we using it for? The weather map. Whoop-dee-do.
Sunday, October 27, 2002
...and don't forget to change the batteries in your smoke detectors
Thank you, thank you. It's great to know I can always expect a warm reception here in Utica. Ladies and gentlemen, we are all aware these are difficult times for our state. But despite what my opponent would have you believe, there is more to good government than cutting taxes and increasing prescription drug benefits. When I am elected, I can't promise I will solve all our problems immediately. But I can promise you this -- Under my leadership, you will never need to set your clocks back again. My first action as governor of New York will be to sign an executive order abolishing Daylight Saving Time now and forever. You may be asking yourselves, "What about summertime? Won't it get darker sooner?" But don't be fooled by straw man arguments. See, ladies and gentlemen, our time is whatever we make of it. I will provide tax incentives to employers who simply adjust their work schedules in the summer months so the working men and women of New York can get home earlier and spend time with their families. I will personally make sure that the few benefits you enjoy from setting your clocks ahead -- energy savings and extra evening light in the summer -- will be preserved... without the need to push those little bity buttons on your VCR. It's time for New York to be a leader in the country, and join Arizona, Hawaii and most of Indiana, where citizens have already said "We won't let the clock run our lives!" That's what freedom is about. So remember, on November 5, cast your ballot for something that really matters. Vote for the Daylight Saving Time Reform Party! God bless you all, God bless New York, and God bless America.
Saturday, October 26, 2002
No news is good news
Sterling and I watched "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" last night on TV. During the commercials, I asked Sterling for his opinion about the Paul Wellstone-Mel Carnahan conspiracy theory, but he wasn't interested in talking about politics. I changed the subject to the Moscow hostage situation, but still he kept quiet. I tried to get his thoughts on the political fallout of the D.C. sniper case, but he didn't want to talk about that, either. He just wanted to see Snoopy battle the Red Baron, and hear Linus give his pumpkin patch soliloquy on sincerity. For a cat, Sterling has a refined sense of taste. Well, this is going to be a busy day. My dad and Joanne are in New York; we're going to see The Lion King on Broadway. After that, I'm going to try to quickly put on a costume (Elvis, as he appeared in the film Blue Hawaii) and dash to an office Halloween party. Um, anybody got a ukulele I can borrow?
Friday, October 25, 2002
Like a duck in a noose
I'm glad all of you around Washington can again live without fear of sniper fire. Outdoor recess for all!
I've often thought it would be fascinating to write a book called "War Veterans on Death Row." Consider: People who put their life on the line for the country, about to be killed by the very same country. Now that the authorities have nabbed the men they think were The Sniper, I could add another chapter to my book. They're saying that John Allen Muhammed is a Gulf War Veteran. If he really did it, we can expect him to face execution. Few people -- even we internationally-minded folks who abhor capital punishment -- will shed tears over that. But what to make of Sgt. Williams' service in defense of our country in the Persian Gulf? I like this question because it doesn't have an answer.
Finally, please indulge me for a few sentences while I don my Language Snob hat. (*Ahem.*) I truly detest the phrase "breathe a collective sigh of relief." I have read or heard it no less four times in the past twenty-four hours. Yesterday, it appeared in several news dispatches on Internet sites. Last night, the Montgomery County Executive used it at the news conference. This morning, a reporter said it during an NPR broadcast. The last time we heard about so many collective sighs being breathed was on Jan. 1, 2000, when we realized there was no Y2K bug. "Residents breathed a collective sigh of relief" is a trite and overly long cliché that simply means "Residents felt relieved." Every time I hear it, I snort a collective gasp of disgust. (*Snort.*) Thanks, I feel better.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
That does not commute
It's a 15 minute walk from the subway stop at 9th Street to my apartment. Or, there's the bus. Which is faster? I had to know. The bus was two minutes away when I climbed out of the subway stairs and hit the sidewalk. I glanced back over my shoulder as I crossed the side streets against the signals; no sign of the bus yet, even way back in traffic. I kept walking. See, this has become my desperate daily struggle to somehow shave just five minutes off my commute. I just can't fathom why it takes an hour -- moving constantly -- to travel seven miles. Never mind those are seven of the most congested miles in the world, and there's the East River somewhere in there, too. But could a brisk walk really beat the bus? By the time I got to 18th Street, the bus was a block behind me. I charged ahead through the blinking orange hand at 19th Street, the last block before the bus turned off. A glance back revealed the bus stopped at the light. I'd beat it. Score: Feet one, Bus zero. But the real loser is my commute. No matter how fast I go, it always takes an hour.
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
As the door turns
I picked up a fun trivia fact when I lived in State College: Name the three buildings in town with revolving doors. I couldn't do that in Ellicott City or Carlisle because, well, there weren't any revolving doors in those places. (None that I'm aware of, anyway.) Not so in New York. My building alone has three at the main entrance. As much as I hate walking into a cylinder of fast-moving glass blades, I respect the revolving door as a cleaver way to preventing bottlenecks in busy building lobbies. Stand in front of the Empire State Building for a while and you can see tourists who are trying out a revolving door for the first time. Some people try to double-up or triple-up in the revolving doors at the Empire State. They end up jamming the heels of their shoes against the glass and having to shuffle awkwardly just to get through it. It's a mistake that revolving door novices (yes, including me) are apt to make once. We quickly learn better. As for the answer to my State College trivia question: Pattee Library, The Corner Room and The University Park Airport, which has two. (There might be more by now; I'm not sure.)
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
I opened my mailbox last night and saw Kurt Cobain's face on the cover of Newsweek. With all the spooky sniper-Iraq-North Korea-Al Queda-Israel-Palestine-election-economy madness this month, it's curious to see a newsmagazine slap an entertainer on its cover. Surely Kurt Cobain would have been annoyed about having his journal published in such a way. But as a reader, don't you want to see what he wrote? There's something great about reading a journal from somebody with a strong story to tell. In this case, Cobain writes about how he formed Nirvana, recorded a couple of really passionate songs, then let heroin take over his life. That's a fantastic rock-n-roll story. It sure makes my journal look wimpy in comparison, but I can't complain.
Monday, October 21, 2002
Do you ever have a long-forgotten memory pop into your head without explanation? I recently remebered a very strange machine we used in elementary school to practice spelling words. Much like a tape player, it played sound back through headphones. But this machine didn't play casette tapes, it played very short snippits of magnetic tape mounted on pieces of cardboard. I think these were called spelling cards. They were about half the size of a sheet of paper -- maybe 11 inches long and four inches high -- an they included a strip of tape along the bottom. You'd slide the card through the machine and it would play a short bit of audio: "The word is 'through.' Spell 'through.'" Then we'd write down the word as a spelling exercise. We would take turns using the machine in the media center (which was what they called the school library). By now, I'm sure these curious audio spelling card machines have been replaced with CDs and computers (and Speak-N-Spells) and other such miracles of technology. I wonder if ther are any old spelling machines left, perhaps collecting dust in an AV closet where an occasional teacher stumbles upon it and says "What on earth did we use this for?" Lots of old-fashioned school technologies -- like reel-to-reel film projectors and the Apple II Logo program -- are well documented and remembered. Not the humble spelling card reader. Does anybody else remember this? Am I crazy?
Sunday, October 20, 2002
We only had an hour and a half to see the American Museum of Natural History yesterday before it closed. That's not enough time to see the whole museum, so we went directly to the big show on the fourth floor: the dinosaur bones. I don't care how cool you think you are, you'll be humbled by the dinosaurs. (Village Voice recently named the natural history museum the "Best Place to Rediscover Your Inner Dork.") Though the dinos are now just twiggy skeletons, you can squint and imagine the terrible tyrannosaurus hunting prey, or the graceful family-focused duckbills on a stroll through the bog. With an eye on science, the museum is quite good at pointing out mistakes in their own exhibits. In recent years, for instance, they've corrected the posture on many of their dinos to appear quick and spry, and less like Godzilla. Believe what you want. But don't go to the fourth floor unless you're willing to embrace evolution -- this is New York City, not Kansas. Side note: the Natural History museum is the ideal bad-weather tour spot, because it connects directly to the subway -- no need to walk outside.
Saturday, October 19, 2002
The fabulous Thunderbird
Back in July, I wrote a journal about the mythic thunderbird creature, a giant bird occasionally spotted in North America but never conclusively identified. As usual, the mainstream media have been reluctant to report such a shocking story. File it with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, right? Not so this week. The Anchorage Daily News published a rather convincing story about numerous sightings of a huge bird soaring through the skies over southwest Alaska. (If you're reading that story and wondering what a "Super Cub" is, I think it's a small plane. Not being from Alaska I didn't know, either.) Following that scoop, Reuters picked up the story, and suddenly it was everywhere. Naturally, there appears to be no conclusive evidence or photographs of this giant thing, just scattered witnesses. Scientists are skeptical. Riiight. Parents, hold on to your children.
Friday, October 18, 2002
A full house
My mom and Garry are here to visit New York for the weekend. They arrived last night. Mom says she wants to go in and see my office today, which is cool, but it will involve a total-immersion lesson in the New York subway at rush hour. "My mom is coming in tomorrow," I told my coworkers. "Be nice to her." That was a joke. I seem to work with the nicest bunch of people. Following up from yesterday's entry... my new cat Sterling is doing well. He is a most proper cat, with a good sense of when to be affectionate and when to stay out from underfoot. He hasn't meowed once since he got to my apartment, but purrs and sleeps peacefully. What great luck -- for him and for me. If I sound syrupy and brimming with sunshine, well, a new cat will do that to you.
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Meet Sterling. Playful and polite, he's the most beautiful kitten in the world. One of my coworkers put him up for adoption after finding him wandering alone in Bridgeport. I decided it was time to take the big step and invite someone else into my life, and Sterling was only too happy to move in with me. On the car ride back from Connecticut last night, he curled up and slept on my lap almost the whole hour-and-a-half ride back to my apartment. I decided a cat of such high pedigree needed a highfalutin name, so I am calling him Sterling. Now he's hanging with the cool cats on the mean streets of Brooklyn, but he seems at ease nestled here on my sofa. I'm going to pamper him like the Connecticut cat he is.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
I love severe weather. There's a flood watch in effect for today, which is excellent for October. The storm moving through New York today seems to be what they call a nor'easter. Usually, a nor'easter is associated with wintertime snow. The word itself is an awkward meld of north and east, but what does it mean? According to the nifty HowStuffWorks web site, a nor'easter is the double-team of gulf stream low pressure and artic high pressure, spinning into a soaking storm that will unload some fierce precipitation. Bring it.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Art vs. ugly
Saturday I paid my first visit to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The big star here is the museum itself, which (for lack of a better way to say it) resembles a giant toilet bowl. Okay, that's a terrible way to put it, but it's the best I can come up with. Frank Lloyd Wright designed it. So it's a nice building, but then there's the matter of modern art itself. Not being an art student, I had to work hard to appreciate some of the pieces in this museum. Nothing in this museum bothered me, but some of it is downright ugly. Ugly art? It's supposed to make us think, to send us a message. It's not like the Met, which is filled with art that ressonates with stunning beauty, easy for all to enjoy. At the Guggenheim, visitors can ponder the giant black-and-white photo of a penis, or watch the TV playing a 20-minute video that consists only of a close-up shot of a drooling, open mouth. But who am I to judge art? Early on, we decided the best way to pass the time in an awkward or dull museum exhibit is to stop looking at the art. Instead, look at the people looking at the art. And you'll see some fun people at the Guggenheim.
Monday, October 14, 2002
Rockin' the Suburbs
So I needed to take a six-hour defensive driving class to get a 10 percent discount on my car insurance. Here's how such a class works: The instructor plays a cheesy hour-long video, then says "We were all here for six hours, right?" We all nod. Then we fill out the form and go home. Ka-ching. Bottom line: The insurance company knows the class is bunk. But they also know anybody who's willing to sign up for a six-hour driving class is probably a safe driver anyway, and thus deserves the discount.
I didn't drive to Princeton last night. No, I took a train. That seemed to be the only classy way to travel to a Ben Folds concert at an ivy-league university. (And the New Jersey Transit ticket is cheaper than filling my car with gas.) The show was just Ben with a black Baldwin grand piano, on stage to curse and cuss and pound the keys and play some funny and sensitive story-songs. I think he puts on a great show just by himself... better than the free Ben Folds Five concert I saw at Penn State a few years ago, when he had a band. (Now he's big and important, one angry dwarf...) A shout-out to Jeremy for discovering this concert and getting the tickets.
Sunday, October 13, 2002
As if an action-packed Saturday wasn't enough, now I have to deal with an action-packed Sunday. First, I have a six-hour save driving class at the office of my insurance company. Taking this course will save me several hundred dollars. I hope they don't show any gory car accident films because, frankly, I'm not sure I could stomach such a sight at this hour. Then tonight, I will practice my newly discovered safe driving skills as I drive to Princeton, N.J., for a Ben Folds concert with a friend. Watch for a report on either the class or the concert in this space tomorrow.
Saturday, October 12, 2002
Why are they walking so fast?
Today's entry comes from very special guest Mike Eshoo, who is visiting from Pennsylvania on his to Colorado. Go figure. - Daryl
New Yorkers are known for being fast. Fast walkers, fast talkers, but not fast drivers. Sure, they want to be, but the traffic situation dosn't allow it. So they have to sit, pent up in their Crown Vic's waiting to get on, off, through, out, in, planing how to best present the "terrible traffic" excuse once again. When they finaly get out of the car, they're in a rush, so they walk fast and talk fast. If the traffic problem is ever solved, NYC would come to a grinding halt, no one would be in a hurry.
Friday, October 11, 2002
What, me worry?
My dad was in a minor car accident yesterday on his way to work in Baltimore. He told me the other driver left the scene without stopping. "It wasn't a white box truck, was it?" I asked. (It wasn't.) Meanwhile, my mom says the school in Baltimore County where she teaches now has a police officer on patrol outside all the time. In the past week, people have grown scared of a mysterious marksman and escape artist who plucks off random people around Washington as they do their routine suburban chores. As of Friday morning, the death toll is seven. I hesitate even writing about it, because this sicko -- like any common terrorist -- wants our attention and wants to inspire fear. Don't you wonder who this person (or these people) is (or are)? It reminds me of that short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," about the guy who lures people to his island, then hunts them for sport. Wasn't there a movie along those lines starring Sylvester Stalone as the huntee? Nobody wants to be that guy. And so, I worry about my friends and family in Maryland. Of course, among the millions of people around Baltimore and Washington, the danger of being shot is very small. But I'm worried because they're worried.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
Lead us not into Penn Station
It's so tempting to obsess about the subway. I spend an hour a day riding it. Sometimes I ride in the front of the front car, and watch through the window as the train swallows up the tracks in front of it. I'm so tickled to have learned, via the web sites dedicated to the subway, what some of the track signs mean to the motormen. (The "8" sign indicates where an eight-car train should stop at the platform, and the "10" sign is where a ten-car train stops.) I read in horrid fascination about some of the deadly derailments during the earlier days of the IRT. Metrocard is fabulous, but I'm mortified at the thought of fares rising from $1.50 to $2. And I'm keeping an eye on the city's plan to move Penn Station to the big post office building on 8th Avenue. Must... not... become... a... transit... geek...
Wednesday, October 9, 2002
Can it work?
Do you have a brilliant idea? One that will make you rich? You don't? Well, maybe you have a half-baked idea that's almost on the money, but not quite. Turns out there's a web site for just this sort of thing. It's called the Half Bakery, and contains a motley assortment of dubious inventions. I found this site while I was searching for solutions to keep one's bike from being stolen (other than buying a lock that costs more than your bike). One of the ideas is a LoJack system for bikes, like the radio transmitters that let police easily locate stolen cars. Frankly, I'd be more interested in a bike that quickly folds into a suitcase-size package you can carry with you on the elevator and store under your desk at work. Sure enough, many other people have already had that idea. But here's my very own brilliant half-baked idea: Soft drink and beer cans painted with ink that changes color at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Throw a couple of cans in the fridge at different times? Now you'll know at a glance which are warm and which are cold. Re-stocking the ice chest at a picnic? Now your guests can quickly spot the coldest cans. Shh, don't spread this around. It's going to make me rich one day.
Tuesday, October 8, 2002
We're not all players
I smiled when I read this quote from a Rolling Stone interview with Ryan Adams (whose "Gold" album has been in regular rotation on my car stereo for many months) --
"I just recently started writing songs in reaction to other songs. One song I was working on last week was called 'Boys,' which is a reaction to 'Boys' by Britney Spears. I wanted to write a song in defense of men, because we're not all players. There are romantics who don't think about panty lines and don't talk shit about women. And just because Britney can't find one doesn't mean that I'm supposed to be chastised for it. The song doesn't attack Britney or anything, it attacks this preconceived notion that men cannot be romantic intellectuals."
Elsewhere in same the issue of the magazine, it mentions a bar that Ryan Adams frequents in his neighborhood in New York. Hmm. If I went there, I wonder if he would be hanging around? I wonder if it's cool to walk up to him and start a conversation? Probably no and no.
Monday, October 7, 2002
That 90s Show
It's 2002. I heard a radio station that used to play 1980s music during the lunch hour, but now has started playing 1990s music instead. It must be time for the media machine to start creating a cartoonish myth of what he 1990s were all about, to remind people who can't (or are too young to) remember. What goofy stuff will they come up with? Some thoughts: Bill Clinton. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Will Smith. Bill Clinton. The Spice Girls. The Ford Explorer. The Gulf War. The Simpsons. Zima. The phrase "dot com." Palm Pilots. Starbucks. Bill Clinton. Austin Powers. Four Non Blondes. Hanson. Calvin & Hobbes. O.J. Simpson. Bill Clinton. Think of some better ones? Why not post them on the message board? Yadda yadda yadda.
Sunday, October 6, 2002
Before the fall
Back from a trip to State College. A drive on I-80 is a good chance to check on the leaves. The trees are just starting to turn colors in the higher parts of the Poconos, especially in northern New Jersey. Leaves are still mostly green here in New York and in State College. I think it's interesting how many "scenic overlooks" and "picnic areas" New Jersey has on its Interstates. These are both polite ways to say "rest stop with no bathrooms." Most of the time, it's best just to keep driving past these pulloffs. But as the leaves get brighter in color, I'm sure more people will take time to stop at the overlooks.
Saturday, October 5, 2002
Question -- Is it okay to make fun of someone because of his skin color? Of course not. But what if his skin color is blue? Hmm. What if it's his fault that his skin is blue? Finally, what if he's Montana's Libertarian candidate for Senate? Click here.
Appreciation -- I collect maps. Some maps are beautiful because they have vivid colors and classy typefaces. Other maps are beautiful because they convey highly complex information in a simple way. The MTA's New York City Subway Map manages to be both. The more I use it, the more I appreciate its elegance. It is simply the perfect map.
Thought -- There ought to be a word for that feeling when a good movie entrances you so much that, when it ends, you must pause to bring the real world back into focus.
Road trip -- I'm driving to State College, Pa., today, to return Sunday.
Friday, October 4, 2002
Many Times better
I have no call to critique The New York Times. There are plenty of other web sites that do that. Still, being as it's my local paper, I can't help but pick nits. If I were in charge, buddy, some things would change.
1. The weather map would be in the same place every day -- preferably on the back of the A section.
Thursday, October 3, 2002
The steal city
I thought it would be fun to commute by bike yesterday. It took about 55 minutes to pedal from Park Slope to Chelsea... through downtown Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, past the World Trade Center site, along the trail that hugs the Hudson River. Once I got to the office, I took a foolish risk and locked my bike to a scaffold with my old bike cable. I knew better -- a flimsy bike lock is no good in New York. Still, I let my guard down for the day. The bike was gone by the time I left work. It must have been stolen fairly early in the day, too, because there was another bike in its place when I left. Now I wonder who has my bike and where they took it. I picture a scruffy crook swaggering along the street with a pair of bolt cutters clutched in his fat, greasy fingers. My poor bike must have been an easy kill. It's probably in some filthy garage, where this bastard is scraping my 1997 State College bike permit off the center post. Perhaps he'll sell the bike to someone who needs it more than I, like a struggling Chinese food delivery boy. Maybe my bike is now part of an exciting caper, snatched silently by an underground ring of criminal ninjas trying to finance their battle against four pizza-loving mutant turtles. Or maybe I ought to set off in search of my bike in an obsessive-compulsive, coming-of-age journey like in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. (It's at the Alamo... In the basement!) On the bright side, at least now I can get a ne-- Oh, who am I kidding? I want my crummy old bike back. What a bummer.
I rode home on the subway and ordered some Chinese delivery food. Later, the phone rang. It was my brother. He directed me to the following web site -- Yatta! -- and I laughed non-stop for four minutes and felt much better. (If you try it, be sure you have the Flash player installed and your sound on. I don't know what the heck this is, exactly, but it is apparently a parody of this Japanese music video by the Green Leaves, which itself is extraordinarily odd.)
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
A war on war
"May I have your attention?" When someone makes that announcement on a subway car, it's best to avoid eye contact. But once he had our attention, the guy on the F train Tuesday began relaying some news. On Sunday, there is a rally in Central Park to protest the war on Iraq. (If you're paying attention, you'll note that there isn't actually a war on Iraq yet. But we've got to stay a step ahead of it all, I suppose.) The subway guy handed out a bunch of flyers, and nearly everyone on the car took one and read it. The "pledge of resistance" in Central Park Sunday will also oppose the recent roundups of uncharged terrorism suspects. The web site for this cause -- which includes a number of nationwide events on Sunday -- is notinourname.net.
September was a record month for the home page. This page logged 1,195 visits in September, or about 40 a day. The entire site had 6,485 visits. There was a big spike on Sept. 10 and 11. There seem to be a lot of people who stumble across the site randomly on Google. There also seem to be a lot of you who are bored at work, spend company time surfing the Internet, and hit the home page as part of your daily routine. I salute you. Also, I hope you all enjoyed reading about my move to New York last month. It's good to be here.
Tuesday, October 1, 2002
A moment like this
It's good to be back at work. The phone on my desk has twice as many buttons as my phone at my last job. Based on that standard alone, it's an improvement. But an hour commute each way is going to feel like a mistake pretty soon.
Everybody's got an opinion about the new Google News site. It's a CNN.com-style news page, with headlines and photos, updated continuously, created entirely through computer algorithms. I think the computer's news choices are diverse, fresh and lively, but almost always off the mark. It will be interesting to watch how this site handles a huge fast-breaking story.
"The Sphere," a damaged sculpture from the World Trade Center that now stands in Battery Park as a memorial - photographed 10.19.02, posted 10.26.02
The T-rex display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. - photographed 10.19.02, posted 10.20.02
Photos of my new cat, Sterling. - Posted 10.17.02
Autumn leaves, somewhere in Clinton County, Pa. - Posted 10.06.02
The Starrett-Lehigh Building in morning haze, photographed Oct. 2. - Posted 10.03.02