Sunday, April 27, 2008

Central Park in the Gloaming

FAPC Softball 2008

I'll add to this from time to time as I make it to the games.

4/27/08 (game 2):
Today was chilly and gray, and my camera didn't have as much memory as I anticipated. Just caught a few very short video clips and a handful of photos:

Julius lopes to first:

Pete swings and ... THWACK!

This is #7 (Kevin?) at bat:

And a blur that could well be Jonathan P.:

Max on his way to first:

Kevin as pitcher (he traded off with Kurt):

Julius as catcher (an example of sang-froid - even without a catcher's mask, he didn't flinch):

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Word Processing

Last night, someone started to read the word "needless" as "needles" - the difference is subtle, and I hadn't focused on it before.

One measly little "s" also makes the difference between "laughter" and "slaughter" - although people don't generally confuse those words in reading because the extra "s" is right upfront at the beginning of the word.

My own perennial favorites have been "uniformed" (which I like to read as "uninformed") and "to let" (which on first sight, I read as "toilet" - boldly advertised in the U.K.).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Just a Thought

Reality is always messy, but this description comes close to capturing my sense of the ideal marriage. And the picture of the crow is almost magical. What can I say?

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Silly Day

On Mondays, I spend my lunchtime volunteering at a local public school. It's a lot of fun - and my student, G, is absolutely adorable. (Last week, G asked me to wear sneakers next time so she could race me down three flights of stairs after the program. Bear in mind, she's only ever seen me in formal business attire: skirt suits with high heels. This just made me laugh.)

A schoolbus comes to pick up volunteers at 11:25 a.m. So I try to keep my eye on the clock and leave no later than 11:20 to make sure I'm on time.

Today, my clock-watching started at 10:45 a.m. An hour later it was 11 o'clock.* I started to wonder if I should just give up and go outside already, but I thought No, I can't justify skiving off.

So of course, the next time I look up, it's 11:35. I've missed the bus. Grrrr. I thought about calling the bus driver - she might be willing to wait for me somewhere en route, and she probably hasn't gone that far. But I thought, No, that would be unfair to everyone else. I thought about calling the program coordinators to say I wouldn't come in - but then I said to myself, No, that's irresponsible.

The upshot of all this thrilling internal dialogue and debate? I did the grown up, responsible thing and hailed a cab to go to the school. The cab driver was really chatty. I wasn't in the mood to chat, but we exchanged a few remarks along these lines:
Cabbie: The streets are really deserted today. Is it a Jewish holiday or something?
Me: Yes, it's the second day of Passover.
Cabbie: Oh, that explains it. Are you a teacher?
Me: No, I'm not.
Cabbie: When I was a lad in the forest of Epping....**
We get to the school, I pay the cabbie, and it suddenly sinks in... I didn't miss the bus at all. The front door of the school is open, and I walk in to check in with the officer - sure enough, school's closed for Passover. I knew that.***


* Scientists have not yet found a satisfactory explanation for this phenomenon, but my own personal theory is that the clock I was watching may have been running on "football time" rather than ordinary time.

** In fairness, that's not a quote from the cabbie (I wasn't paying enough attention to report his conversation in fair and accurate detail). It's a line from Black Hearts in Battersea, by Joan Aiken - our protagonist Simon is trying to find his friend in an unfamiliar city, and keeps asking the way from people who are discursive and distractable to the point of incoherence. One dodderer who keeps blathering on about his alleged childhood in the alleged forest of Epping turns out to be in cahoots with the bad guys who are trying to keep Simon from finding his friend.

*** Ironically, last Monday, I and the other volunteers all knew and remembered that the schools would be closed this Monday for Passover. The kids did not know this - they were certain that they had school this week.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wyanokie High Point Hike

We drove out to a state park in New Jersey for an easy 6-mile hike. Some of the group had never hiked before, so we took it very slowly, with plenty of breaks to enjoy the scenery (about 5.5 hours).

The trail went by two waterfalls. Here's the first one:

Many people had a snack, or even a lunch, by this waterfall - though it was never really clear if the stop (or any other) was intended to be a lunch break.

The nice thing about this first waterfall was that it had a nice flat, dry rock at the top, so you could give yourself a real Fallingwater experience by sitting atop the falls:

People also took lots of pictures while we rested:

Ed explained some of the principles of hiking, such as how to read the blazes on the trees:

The second waterfall was a lot bigger. This was sort of the midpoint of the hike - but somehow it was all uphill from here!

Two hikers at the top of the second waterfall:

Refreshing cool streamwater on a hot day:

People helped each other across the stream:

Although some of the more experienced hikers may not have really needed the help:

Resting midstream:

Offering a helping branch:

From one of the first high points on the hike, we had a nice panoramic view:

Terry waits for the sweep:

Another unofficial lunch/snack break:

Andrew gives the victory sign:

A raptor circles overhead:

Time to move on for the final leg of the journey:

Or not! Mike is perfectly happy to sun himself on this rock:

A rushing stream:

A flowering tree near the visitor's center at the end of the hike:

A tranquil scene on the Hudson as we drive back into Manhattan:

A tree blooms on Broadway:

We'll probably do more advanced hikes in future, but this was a nice start.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Distortions

On a bright day as I enjoyed the crisp views in my new shades, it occurred to me that polarized lenses help us see more clearly (removing certain distortions), whereas a polarized issue tends to make it harder to see the truth.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Downtown Tour

The rough brick exposed at a construction site reminded me of Italy:

Lion vs. snake at Vesey St.:

My first real view of the WTC construction site:

My favorite NYC sculpture, the Irish Hunger Memorial:

Hunger overshadows New Jersey:

Flowers along the Hudson River (planted, not wild):

World Financial Center:

Man photographing cloud of cherry blossoms:

The weather was simply spectacular - though I'm surprised there are still so many bare trees.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FAPC Mid-Week Service

As usual, I violated the "one trip to Manhattan" rule and went home before returning for the mid-week service at FAPC. But today I also violated the lesser-known "one trip to midtown" rule.

Morning in Bryant Park:

Reflections on a neighboring building:

Distorted view of the Chrysler Building:

Light fixture at Grand Central:

I liked the corridor as well:

The light shines in the not-so-darkness:

As the afternoon waned and I made my way back again from Brooklyn to midtown for the FAPC service, I liked the light on this building. It made me think of spring:

Rev. Rock delivered a good message, sort of a new Beatitude along the lines of "Blessed are those who completely screw up, for they shall be emptied of ego and rendered suitable for God's use."

We sang several of my favorite worship songs. I love "God of Wonders" because for me that's one of the strongest reasons for belief: the universe exists in all its unfathomable majesty. Where did it come from? How did space, time and matter come into existence? How did the first atom arrive? What started the Big Bang - and what started the thing that started it? There's some beginning of all beginnings, whatever it is, something not subject to the rules that govern everything we know, something beyond our (or at least my) ability to understand. I can't prove it's God, but I don't know anyone who can disprove it. And I have to wonder why is nature so incredibly beautiful to us - even as we seek mastery over it for our own ends? (Plus I like the song because always reminds me of a Eurythmics song I've quoted before in this blog.)

I find "Blessed Be Your Name" incredibly moving. I can hardly sing it without wiping tears from my eyes. I know why, but it's hard for me to express my reasons in words. I'll try here. First, I'm moved by the faith of those who have remained true to God in desperate circumstances - despite the worst pain and suffering anyone can imagine. Those whose faith is so strong that they can call out praise to God when they have lost everything else that meant something to them. (The faith of those individuals is another reason for my belief - feeble though mine is.) Second, I feel such horror and compassion that those who love God so faithfully must still suffer in this life. There is no guarantee that the faithful will be successful in any endeavor, or spared the deepest pain or agony. For Christians, this should not be too surprising - we are called to follow Christ, and look what happened to him. But it is horrible to know that we live in such a world. Third, to me there is always the heartbreaking possibility that the atheists are right, and that all who believe and suffer and die in their faith have been sadly deluded. I think and hope not - but again, I cannot prove it, and I don't think anyone alive can prove it (though if one or more of the mainstream religions are right, we'll all find out after death). This frisson of doubt, which I think everyone must have in their weakest moments, makes the decision to bless God's name in the midst of suffering and loss all the more moving and powerful. Fourth, "the desert place" of bleak despair is familiar territory to me, so I feel also a surge of empathy - some for myself at those times, and even more for others who have suffered real losses and privations far worse than I can even imagine.

People shared stories of their failures (nothing too serious), we prayed for each other, and then I went to dinner with some friends.

En route to Goodburger, I liked this dragon, especially the shadow of the tail:

The night shot of the Chrysler building came out a bit better than I expected:

This post has been oddly cathartic for me. Time to sleep.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Spring in Winter

Though the weekend was largely gray (especially today), there was a touch of spring in the air.

Thursday I went to my second French conversation club meeting. It was fun, but very challenging. Three guys were particularly patient with me and really kept the conversation going - before I knew it, I'd spent 3 hours there. Although I'm going to need to do some homework to build up my vocabulary. D told me about a French language church that also gives free French lessons at various levels (even to nonmembers!), which would be perfect if I had a Sunday free in the foreseeable future.

After a traumatic appointment with my dentist Saturday - I was there for almost 4 hours, though the actual work took about 20 minutes - I moped about for a bit, unable to eat or sleep, then went for a walk in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The weather was vacillating between gorgeous blinding sunlight and ominous stormclouds. That didn't do much for me either, but it was nice to see some of the early cherry blossoms and the Shinto gate in the Japanese pond garden.

Sunday, brunch with the usual suspects, and then a few pictures:

I like the river of cars by the East River, though this still looks pretty dismal:

Brightening things up a bit, some spring flowers: