Friday, October 31, 2008

Ghost Station

I never saw this station on the Q line before tonight; it's not usually lit.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Surprised by Shake Shack

After church today, 15 of us went to Shake Shack. I hadn't eaten there before -- I was always discouraged by the long lines -- but with over a dozen people to talk to, the 45 minutes went by fairly quickly.

The first surprise was an infestation of tree huts in the park. Some suggested it was Bloomberg's new plan for housing the homeless. Others thought it was arranged by the politically powerful Squirrel Local 4511, whose members would certainly benefit from a new place to store nuts for the winter. We may never know for sure.

The second surprise was that one of our group was hijacked by some film students for a documentary on waiting for Shake Shack. Who knows, it may give Waiting for Godot a run for its money. I didn't see them interviewing anyone else, but our guy apparently had enough personality for an entire documentary, since they interviewed him twice. The second time was after we'd finished waiting in line and had placed our order. We were parked at a table fending off pigeons* while waiting for our vibrators** to signal that our food was ready, and so the documentarians had follow-up questions about how the waiting experience had been so far, and whether he anticipated that the continued wait would be worthwhile.

My burger was delicious, although I was not at all impressed with the shake. (I actively disliked the chocolate truffle cookie dough chunks that a supposed "friend" -- clearly an enemy -- had recommended mixing in.) I'm not big on waiting on line for food, but I'd be tempted to go back for another burger sometime.


* The super-aggressive pigeons started walking freely among our feet and dive-bombing the tables even before we got our food. It was worse than the cafes in the Piazza della Repubblica.

** Please, get your minds out of the gutters, folks. These devices vibrate, light up and emit a series of beeps when the food is ready. They are entirely PG-rated and were in full public view at all times.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bergen St.

I walked down Bergen St. today for the first time and saw some cool murals.

This is "The New Arrival," by D.G. Wilson:

Something about it was stunning. Or intriguing. I couldn't capture the whole thing on my camera phone, but you get the general idea of Easter Island heads rising out of the ground in the twilight and welcoming a miraculous newborn baby rock.

This dragon is on the wall of Beast (a really cute name for a bistro):

Nothing like the dragon I painted on my wall in high school, but very nice nonetheless.

Mission: Accomplished!

I have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment today, and I owe it all to my to-do list. I don't generally create one. And when I do, it's usually a mind-dump of all the possible things I "could" or "should" do in the short- and long-term. It's pretty rare for me to complete even one item on such a list.

But today my to-do list had exactly three items on it:
* Buffy?
* Salvation Army drop-off
* Pick up clothes

Not only did I achieve each of these objectives, I exceeded them.

Dear readers, modesty ordinarily forbids me from dwelling on my many accomplishments, but
perhaps in this case my example will be instructive, and even inspirational to some of you. As the poet said, "Lives of great men all remind us /We can make our lives sublime /And, departing, leave behind us /Footprints in the sands of time."

Therefore (ahem!) an explanation is in order. "Buffy?" meant I should go to the local library and attempt to round out my cultural literacy by borrowing or placing a hold on
a Buffy the Vampire Slayer book or DVD. I not only borrowed a Buffy book (my first!), but also placed a hold on a Buffy DVD, and a hold on Twilight, a vampire story by Stephanie Meyers. I feel more cultured already. For the "Salvation Army drop-off," I not only donated the suit and sandals that have been kicking around my living room for a month, but also donated two very nice but unflattering sweaters that I tried on this morning, thus incrementally improving my wardrobe. Finally, when I went to "[p]ick up clothes" from the cleaners, I also left two items to be cleaned, demonstrating a ruthless efficiency far above and beyond my original plan!

I won't even mention the other errands and tasks undertaken and accomplished in the afterglow of my initial success, nor the extra exercise effortlessly woven into the 5 or 6 trips up and down the stairs of my 4th floor walk-up.

I will now rest on my laurels for a well-earned nap. Sheer bliss.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


We met in White Plains on a spectacular fall day...

... and carpooled up to Masker Orchard (across the Tappan Zee and past Tuxedo, NY). There were about 25 in the group altogether. I spent most of my time with a group of 8 that was wise enough to get apple-picking poles, but foolish enough to start in the areas that had already largely been picked clean.

Our youngest associate was happy to be in the forefront of all our activities:

A treasure trove:
Afterward, we adjourned to White Plains for some delicious home-made apple crisp. Turns out our leader/chef had picked a bag or two of apples the week before...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bronx Zoo: The Videos!

We spent quite a while watching the wolf's guenon monkeys. They were really cool. Here's one short clip:

Bronx Zoo: The Pictures!

The last time I went to the Bronx Zoo was 10 years ago (June 2008); I went with a guy from work and we had a blast reading the zoo signs to each other conversationally as if we were zoologists. This time it was a different experience, but still a fun way to spend the afternoon. I think all of these pictures are from the Congo exhibit.

Wolf's Monkey:

(Don't try this at home, folks.)

Colobus monkeys:


Saturday, October 11, 2008


Just picked up a voicemail from my brother letting me know that Surprises! - a toddler counting book from my own childhood - is Clara's favorite book. She gets Lee to read it to her at bedtime and naptime, and my brother apparently read it to her 3 or 4 times in a row yesterday.

It is about 10 pages long, with one sentence per page, and about a centimeter of the bottom of each page is visible all at once - shortest page is on top for a stacking effect. It starts with something like, "Marvin Moose sees something funny." You flip the page up to see a single creature with very long legs (reaching across the bottom of each page) and a question such as "Is it one [adjective + name of creature]?" You keep flipping pages up to re-interpret the image that peeks through on the bottom and to add another creature to be counted... until we find at the very end that "it seems/ They are all part of the elephant's dreams!"

I loved this book as a kid (does it show?) and am thrilled that Clara likes it too. I'm sure it's out of print by now - I couldn't find it on amazon or google.

Friday, October 10, 2008

FAPC: A Proud Heritage

FAPC's bicentennial performance was an informative and entertaining (multi)period piece.

We heard about the pastor who used profanity from the pulpit during the Depression (he said rich people who didn't care about & help the poor would "go to hell" where their money would perish with them), as well as a pastor who was shot at (just like in Hollywood, the bad guy had bad aim), and famous folk who've worshiped at FAPC from time to time.

They glossed over some points (such as FAPC's role in the temperance movement) but still gave a general sense of when we were on the "right" or "wrong" side of certain big issues.

In the 1800's, I think this guy was getting framed:

This woman kept fiddling with her gloves:

The cast assembles for a bow at the end:

It was nicely done, but the kids - particularly Derrick and Julia - naturally stole the show. They clearly love the limelight. Unfortunately, Derrick moved too quickly for my camera to catch him in his recurrent role as newsboy. He has an innate sense of theatercraft and a love of performing - a trait distinctly visible even in Sunday School!

When they got to the modern era, they had some vignettes highlighting the homeless ministry and the decision of Rev. Weber's daughter to enter the ministry. The show's lighting designer (NominalMe) made a guest appearance as well, played by a man who could never conceivably be mistaken for him. It was a great excuse to show some more pictures. And it was very sweet, I thought, to see the actors and actresses play specific people who are currently involved in the church (including Joe Vedella and Rev. Weber).

Saturday, October 04, 2008