Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Unselfish Gift

I thought at first the the publishers of Self magazine were trying to entice me to subscribe by sending me a free issue, but a second issue has just arrived. Bringing all my powers of deduction to bear on the question, it appears that someone has given me a subscription to the magazine. The usual suspects are already accounted for, so I'm flummoxed about the identity of the anonymous donor. But grateful, nonetheless. It's a very enjoyable counterbalance to The New Yorker and Time Out New York.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What I'm Jazzed* About Right Now

  • Two loads of laundry that are cleaning themselves as I type.
  • A fresh supply of orange juice, bananas and yogurt to go with my frozen cranberries, for smoothies tomorrow.
  • Sanibel Island the week after next! Oddly, an ex boyfriend just called to let me know he and his parents are there right now. I gave him some restaurant recommendations.
  • My secret master plan for February. (No, it does not involve world domination, just a series of blog posts.)
  • RFI and MuggleNet podcasts.

*Not in the R. Perdue sense.

Statue of Disney Liberty

Between services, I snuck out to grab a cappuccino and ginger cookie ... which took me right past the Disney store. A patriotic Mickey caught my eye:

Considering how hard Disney fights to prevent its own intellectual property from entering the public domain (long after the copyrights should have lapsed), it's perhaps instructive to see them co-opt public domain figures for their own private use.

But this gets me thinking about putting giant Mouse ears on the real Statue of Liberty. Surely there must be some mischievous college students who are prepared to make that dream a reality? What happened to the elaborate college pranks of my parents' generation? In my senior year at UMd, we talked about filling the ODK fountain with jello as a parting jest, but (alas!) we were entirely too law-abiding for our own good.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

YouTube stats

A year ago, my 3 top-visited youtube videos were:
  1. HK Dragon Boat Festival - Dragon Dance (in Queens) [652 visitors, two of whom made snide remarks about the dance];
  2. Gorilla Dad & Kid Play Tag (at the Dublin Zoo) [572 visitors]; and
  3. Orangutan Attempts Death-Defying Feat (at the Dublin Zoo -- it's actually something quite simple, but the orangutan acts as if it is something very dangerous) [444 visitors].
Now, my 3 top-visited videos are:
  1. Black Snakes Mating (in western Pennsylvania) [5,630 voyeurs];
  2. Gorilla Dad & Kid Play Tag (at the Dublin Zoo) [2,614 visitors]; and
  3. Monkeys - Troupe of Acrobats (at the Dublin Zoo) [2,379 visitors].
The orangutan video has fallen to 4th place, and the dragon dance has fallen to 7th (behind a video of multiple layered images from the D train crossing the East River at night and a video of a monkey playing with a rope).

The stats on the snakes video are even more impressive when you consider that the Dublin Zoo videos have been up 10 months longer than the snakes. In fact, I've had more hits on the snakes video than I've had hits on my blog... even though I posted the video on my blog as well!

What seems to attract visitors most is an intriguing name, rather than the rating of the video. It's all about marketing. My own favorites are not even in the top 10 (out of the 50+ I've uploaded so far).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Alda's Farewell Party

Alda is going back to Hong Kong. She will be missed here in NYC, but I hope she'll have fun. This is just one small corner of her farewell bash - there were probably 25+ people at Pipa Sunday night. (Note the chandeliers in the background, a distinctive feature.)

Even with a three-day weekend, I never got around to taking a yoga class, borrowing a book from the library, visiting the farmers' market, or cleaning up my apartment.

To get motivated to clean up my apartment, I really need to invite people over. Or maybe people should start inviting themselves over. That would be really helpful.

One of the many highlights of the weekend was brunch today with U-chan, C-san, and RunnerNYC. The chocolate french toast was to die for, but it was just great to catch up with everyone. And of course shopping under U-chan's influence, I always end up with much cooler, flirtier clothes. Now I just need to put them to good use!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Case of the Reluctant Churchgoer

Today it was a real struggle to drag myself into Manhattan for church. Something about the extreme cold seemed to leach all the energy out of me. Even though we had a nice guest choir and my favorite pastor was preaching and there were people I'd have liked to talk to, all I could think was: I just want to go home.

I got home and sneaked in a load of laundry but couldn't use the dryer (grrr). Still, after I hung stuff up to dry, I managed to run a little over 2 miles in the bitter cold. Now I just need to nap and strategize.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fat Cat Reprise

This time the focus was scrabble, so I dominated.

Of course, I don't always win at Scrabble, but I've at least got a fighting chance.
Unlike softball, baseball, basketball, volleyball, foosball, ping pong, pool, shuffleboard, and chess (to name a few).

Friday, January 18, 2008


Tonight I visited a friend in hospital, and had a bit of a shock. My friend was doing very well, all things considered. But there was no security check. No one wanted to see my ID, no one wanted to know where I was going or what I would be doing. I didn't have to come up with the name or room number of the person I was visiting. No one questioned my wandering about the hallways unescorted and unsupervised.

Of course, the "security" we encounter daily throughout NYC doesn't do much to screen out dangerous folks. At most, it might screen out loonies who are too far gone to come up with a plausible story and a piece of identification.

But surely at a hospital where there are many vulnerable patients, you'd at least want to guard against openly deranged lunatics and people who are visibly unsanitary?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Assume Nothing

People had some interesting stories to share today - a nearly armed confrontation with La Leche League among them - but my favorite conversation was the one that took place when I was ready to close up shop for the evening.

I got to the glass doors, and immediately spun around to go retrieve an umbrella from my office.
SG: Is it raining?

Me: I don't know. There are people wandering about with umbrellas. And the streets are wet. But there could be another explanation.

OK, it seemed funnier at the time. It's been a long week. It felt like Friday on Tuesday, and it's still only Thursday now. But it's also been a good week, with yoga and NM's class Monday, my first-ever Knicks game Tuesday, LB's concert Wednesday. Tonight I wanted to crash at 7 p.m. but am trying to stay up until 9:30 if possible.

It was all Brooklynites at the concert yesterday, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The other three agreed about the "One Trip" rule -- you only make one trip to Manhattan per day; once you go back to Brooklyn, you stay put. Seems to me I routinely violate this rule, especially now that I have the luxury of going home at 5 p.m. If I'm meeting people at 7 or 8, that gives me time to go home and change, check emails, and get back to Manhattan. That's why God invented the 30-day unlimited ride Metrocard. (Let me clarify: the concept is divine; the price may be diabolical.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Knicks v. Wizards

At my first-ever Knicks game, I was not entirely surprised by the booing of Isiah Thomas (I'd heard that people blamed him for the team's poor performance in recent years), but the fans went further than that. They booed most of the players as well. The second player to step out onto the field got applause, and maybe two others got applause tempered by boos. It must be tough to have people in the NY metropolitan area as your fans. The one or two visiting Mets players in the audience got booed too (damn Yankees), with only a little bit of scattered applause. In fact, the only players who really got wildly enthusiastic applause were the visiting Giants players. (One of them held up his little kid over his head, which was much more popular than Michael Jackson's famous balcony scene. I think people had more confidence that the Giants player was strong enough, and focused enough, not to let go of the kid.)

Vendors hawked their wares as the players warmed up by shooting hoops or lying on the floor.

With multiple balls in the air, the pregame warmup was a bit surreal. Of course, professional basketball itself is a bit surreal - with larger-than-life players whose size only becomes clear when they interact with people of ordinary height.

The Knicks were ahead the entire game, and even managed to win. But it was a painful process in some ways. By the second quarter, they had a 22-point lead.

The tumblers were pretty cool too:

But the Wizards didn't give up. They kept inching up on the Knicks, narrowing the gap to only 5 points. One of the things the Wizards did right was to make sure they sank the vast majority of their foul shots. Certain other teams might do well to pay attention to this phenomenon and seek to understand and replicate it for themselves.

The Knicks rallied again in the 4th quarter, and pulled ahead again until the fans were able to heave a collective sigh of relief.

I understand this game was the kick-off to a three-game winning streak. Rumor has it that if they keep it up for another 6 or 7 games, they'll have more wins than losses.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Spirited Mosey

Well, folks, I ran two days in a row, about 2 miles Saturday and another 2 today.* Yesterday, it was split up into four segments (with a cappuccino break at the halfway point, as usual), but I was already quite pleased with myself for the total mileage. So I wasn't planning to run today, since I'm not running for speed or distance or fitness. But a sudden wave of gloominess hit and the choice was either to curl up into a ball and be totally miserable or put on my running shoes and headphones. (OK, there could have been a third way which would involve inflicting my mood on my friends or family - thanks but no thanks.) Today, I ran about 1.5 miles, walked a bit, then ran another .5. Now I have quite a feeling of accomplishment, which I'll cap off by getting to the early bird yoga tomorrow a.m.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fat Cat Billiards

For a change of pace, I went out for an evening of ping pong, foosball, shuffleboard, and pool (I managed to sink the white ball 2 out of 3 hits). The setup was a bit confusing - you have to get a number to reserve a ping pong, shuffleboard or pool table, but then you can pick whichever one is free at the time. Seems like we had to wait a long time for our number to come up, even when there were tables free. However, I have to say the event was really fun. There was a live jazz band, beer and wine, and multiple foosball playoffs while we waited for a pool table.

I'd like to go back with some scrabble players -- they had lots of game boards around...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Fifth Avenue Street Scene

Order of the Phoenix (2007)

Through consistent mismatch of words and deeds over the past six months X has managed, bit by bit, to dismantle his considerable store of credibility and good will. Back in July, I had hoped to watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with him, and this was the one faint ember that remained over time. Not watching the movie was my secret symbolic way of not entirely giving up on him. So, in honor of the new year, I rented OotP this weekend and watched it. I really liked the movie. I was less impressed by Emma Thompson's character than I expected, but this was more than made up for by the surprise (to me) presence of Helena Bonham Carter in the film. She was readily recognizable as Bellatrix Lestrange -- especially since she played a similar "type" in Sweeney Todd (criminally insane with a touch of femme fatale). Many plot threads were dropped from the OotP film, and others were merely referenced in blink-and-you'll-miss-it scenes that must have been slightly mysterious to those unfamiliar with the book (perhaps laying the groundwork for a future extended version on DVD), but on the whole it was entertaining. In some places, they actually improved on the book -- in changing things to be more cinematographically plausible, they removed or smoothed over some of the less convincing aspects of the book. And the Luna Lovegood character was nothing like I expected from the books -- she was 1000% better, wise and genuine and sweet.

Just for kicks, I watched OotP with French audio and French subtitles. (The subtitles are not the same as the spoken dialogue - they are shorter - but they help orient me and help me make sense of what I'm hearing.) I've also been practicing my French with podcasts from RFI. Each one is just 10 minutes long, and gives the headlines and brief news stories, plus a word of the day. They call it le journal en Francais facile. The words may be easy (for them), but they don't speak all that slowly so I often end up listen to a podcast several times for comprehension.