Tuesday, August 22, 2017

SOL Tuesday: Small World Story 1

My daughter and I are on a road trip north, through the western edge of New England, visiting friends, and ending up in the tiny village in central Vermont where my aunt Nita and uncle Ben lived and my husband and I visited every summer, until my aunt died in 1997.
            Today’s stopover was in Williamstown, Mass. After spending last night with a friend, we went to the Clark museum and Mass MOCA before moving on to East Dover, Vermont. At Mass MOCA we experienced one of James Turrell’s light installations (if you don’t know his work, please look it up and visit anything that is near you). I usually don’t use “experience” as a verb, but that is the only way to describe this particular work at Mass MOCA, Perfectly Clear: you stand in a large room painted all white and over the course of several minutes, the walls, floor, and ceiling subtlely change color. You feel like you are standing in the midst of nothing, surrounded only by color, and if you look behind you, the wall of the room you just left has turned some totally different color simply from the ambient light coming from the room you are in.
            As we are leaving this exhibit, we are standing by a couple with two preteen-age children. The woman asks me if I’m from New York, and she thinks she knows me, but she can’t think how. After some back and forth of how we might know each other, we realize that she was my student in the late ’80s in an undergraduate Copy Editing class I taught at NYU. When she told me her name, I remembered her instantly; in fact, I’d noticed her name on the masthead of Scientific American some years after I’d stopped teaching full-time. She was one of my best students, too, and I am so glad she ventured to ask how we might know each other.
            I’m calling this Small World Story 1, because there have been many more and will be many more. We are all only a few degrees from knowing everyone in the world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

SOL Tuesday: Who Is Homeless?

I’m on Broadway, walking to the subway, when I am approached by a black man maybe in his 30s with his arm outstretched, and I think he’s fund-raising for some nonprofit because they are sometimes aggressively friendly. And I’m trying to see what organization is on his T-shirt.
            He comes right up to me, puts his hand on my shoulder, and starts his spiel, which is that he’s homeless and hungry, and can I help him get something to eat, and he’ll even recite a poem, which he starts to do. It takes me a few seconds to realize that he still has his hand on my shoulder, that he didn’t do it merely to stop me, and I say, “Please don’t touch me” (did I say “please”? I don’t remember). He removes his hand. And I think I should give him something, so I get out my wallet and give him a dollar. He takes it and walks away.
            He was ordinary looking, with the beginning of a beard, wearing neat clothing, just a few inches taller than me. The most curious thing about this encounter is that I never felt afraid or threatened. Why not? He did not look like he’d been living on the street. He looked like someone I might know. As though anyone I might know could not be living on the street.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Going to a Yankee Game

Today I went to a Yankee game with my cross-the-hall neighbor. She has a half-season plan and shares the tickets with her various friends and family.
            First, I decided to take the bus, which meant a bus up Riverside Drive, and transferring to a bus across 155th Street into the Bronx, to Yankee Stadium. I used my MTA Bus app to learn when the Riverside bus would get to 112th Street and discovered that it takes just over 3 minutes to get from my apartment to the bus stop. Just missed the bus and had to wait almost 20 minutes for the next one.
            On this bus, we waited about five minutes at 135th Street and Broadway for a new driver. Several blocks on, a woman sitting on a stoop waved toward the bus, indicating she wanted to get on. But she didn't walk immediately up to the bus, instead had a conversation with a man near the stoop, so the bus driver closed the door and started to pull away. The woman then came running up, banged on the door and yelled that she wanted to get on.
            Once on the bus, she berated the driver, walked a few feet into the bus, where I could smell strong odor of alcohol (it was about 12:15 p.m.), and continued to harass the driver. After a few more blocks, the driver pulled over next to a police car and ordered the woman to get out. I was glad she was gone, fearing that a look or a wrong move on my part or any of passenger's would set her off into an attack verbal or otherwise on us.
            As we neared 155th Street, I asked the driver where I should get the bus to the Bronx, and he pointed to a bus in the other direction, which I could see was the one I want. By the time I got off, however, the bus had moved on, and when I checked my bus app again, it looked like the next one was more than 20 minutes away. On Google Maps, I looked to see how far the stadium is from Broadway and 155th -- just over a mile. I could walk that, and I did, in 25 minutes.
            There were massive crowds trying to get into Yankee Stadium, and as I walked to the gate I needed, I felt light drops of rain. It took 15 minutes to get through the entrance, then an elevator to the top Grandstand. Stopped to buy a hotdog and water, resisted a large order of fries, texted my neighbor that I was inside (she was still outside waiting for other friends to give them their tix), and found our seats. And discovered the field covered with tarp and the start of the game in rain delay -- more like drizzle delay, because it really wasn't raining hard at all. This meant I wasn't missing the first pitch and would be able to keep score from the beginning.
            Which turned out to be 2:31 instead of 1:05, so the game started out with an 86-minute "rain" delay.
            The game itself was somewhat anticlimactic. Tanaka did give up a run in the first innning, but considering that he gave up three straight hits, getting out with only one run against him was a good sign. Alas, the Yankees could not manage anything against Jordan Zimmerman, leaving 8 runners on base, 6 in scoring position. Very frustrating.
            As the 8th inning was about to start, there was a flash of lightning, followed by thunder and real rain, blowing in on us, even though we were under an overhang. I had brought a plastic hooded rain jacket and quickly got it on. But as the rain intensified -- and the tarp was rolled out on the field again around 4:50 -- my neighbor decided she didn't want to stay, so we got down the stairs, onto the Grandstand concourse, which had no drainage whatsoever -- inches of rain piling up. We were soaked pretty quickly. Walked through the crowds on the ground level, ran for the D train, and got home in a bit over an hour. 
             (BTW, if the game had started at its original time, it would have been over before the thunderstorm struck, and we could all have been home, and dry.)
            Once home, where the rain had stopped, I checked in on the Yankee channel, which was still in rain delay. Once the rain stopped, they periodically showed us the grounds crew rolling up the tarp, squeegying the field, then poking pitchforks into the ground to encourage the accumulated water to be absorbed.
            Finally, the game restarted, at 8:01. Despite Betances throwing an "immaculate inning" (three strikeouts on the minimum of three pitches each), the Yankees could manage only one hit in their last two innings, and no runs. The few hundred people who stuck it out at the stadium, including children, had an adventure: 2 hours and 52 minutes of game time (a quite reasonable game length), and 4 hours and 37 minutes of rain delay.
            While I usually would never leave a game before the end, I didn't mind this time. It was fun to see as much as I did, come home, and see the rest of the game while eating my own dinner.Top of Form
Bottom of Form

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

SOL Tuesday: Computer Success!

            Last year, my math/computer whiz niece set up a router to extend the wi-fi range of my Internet network into the kitchen (my apartment is just big enough that the wi-fi stopped just short of the kitchen table, the only surface I can use as a desk). Early this year, that router died. I was able to get a replacement under the warranty, but setting it up was not so easy.
            I thought I am computer savvy enough to figure out how to set up the new router myself. But after plugging it in and going to the Airport Utility (I have a Mac), the first step asked if I wanted to “switch networks,” and I had no idea what that meant. Switch from what? Would this affect my existing network? And what’s the password for my wi-fi network anyway?
            Just as a test, I chose another network on my base station Airport, and discovered that neither of what I thought were the passwords worked. Oh, dear. I knew there is a way to discover my password in the Airport Utility, but just searching around, without guidance, failed to find it for me. So the extending router has been sitting on the table next to where I usually work, flashing yellow, for months.
            Finally, yesterday, I went to the Apple Store. Finally, I also googled* “how to find password on Airport Express” (should have done that months ago). The Apple Store person helpfully suggested I call 1-800-MyApple and have them walk me through the process. Okay, I thought, that sounds easy.
            Today, I figured I’d try it myself one more time, so I’d know exactly where the snags are when I talk to the 1-800 people. First, I followed the instructions on “how to find password on Airport Express,” and after some hunting around (they didn’t apply exactly to my system), I found the password—and wrote it down. Next, I went to my laptop to set up the router. That, too, turned out to be quite simple once I accepted that I had to tell it to “switch networks.” Flashing yellow light turns to green, and go!
            Success in the computer world, and I didn’t have to call anyone at all. Just me and my computer, all’s right with the world.

*Usage mavens, do you think “google” as a verb has become sufficiently common that it can be lowercased? Or will Google come after me with the legal letter asserting its trademark rights?
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