Because you love photos…

•January 30, 2011 • 2 Comments

These are from a really great night – in fact, quite possibly my best night in NYC so far. I have a saying that in my life, just about everything good comes from sailing, and even in the concrete jungle of New York this has managed to hold true. I applied for a sailing instructor position at the Manhattan Sailing School, and the interview involved large amounts of alcohol and a lot of talking about sailing in the Caribbean. The school is really a money machine, having a monopoly on sailing that can be reached using only the NYC subway. This is huge for a lot of people who despise buses, and the fact that they will pay $400 for two 8 hour days of sailing shows it. If you want to make money sailing, Manhattan is the place to do it…as long as you keep the bar tabs under control.
The position is great – show up on Saturdays and Sundays, take people for a sail, teach them only if they want to be taught, making $20 an hour doing by far my favorite activity. The camaraderie within the sailing community is exceptional, too. Honestly, it’s where I belong – and I am exceptionally excited to have found a little niche of wind and water in this terrifying city of steam radiators and concrete.
But really, I know you just want photos.!


•January 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Well, I’m adjusting to life here. I still owe you a photo filled post, no, two photo filled posts, one of where I work, and one of where I live right now. And by the time I do that, I’ll likely be on the hook for another, where I live *then* , because yeah, Brian the magical traveling NY gypsy is not ready to be staying in one place.

Highlights so far!!

Sunday-night happy hours
Shopping at Marshall’s post-Christmas
Managing to have, so far, not eaten dinner at a restaurant or have food delivered, (besides pizza, twice)
All the awesome dinners I have cooked, and grocery shopping experience
A very strange 3 days where the girl, who’s bedroom I am subletting, was here and sleeping on the couch
Manhattan sailing club
Thursday night happy hours
Pizza Friday night board games. (I learned here that at work, the days of the week are Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Pizza Friday)
Lazy Saturday’s trip to the Bronx, mission to fix the stove in my apartment
Sunday night extended happy hour
Realizing I need a new home in about 7 days. Damnit!
Terrible Subway disaster
Oh yeah, and I switched to Mozilla Firefox

Yes, yes. I realize how disappointing a list like this is without any details. And details I shall add. But not now, I need to eat. And between the “publish” button and the “save for later” button, I’m going to submit to instant gratification and publish this list-in-place of a blog.

Who leaves Times Square, 11 hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve? This guy.

•January 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Yes, you read the title correctly. For my new year celebration, I took subway, bus, and automobile to travel from the heart of NYC to the lovely rural village of Douglassville, Pennsylvania.

Here you will find the home of Mr. L, my scout leader from days long gone. Year after year I find myself celebrating the period resetting of the MONTH column here. Sometimes there is home-brewed Absynthe and straight liquor, always good beer, sometimes cheap beer, usually unhealthy snack foods all night but *always* a great breakfast served up for us the next morning.
The real reason I go though, is to keep up the tradition with my friends.…none of us live within an hour of here anymore. And year after year, the number who come dwindle, to I think an all-time low of 6 this year. The “core”, you could call it. Now, I don’t have a problem with this, really. These guys are awesome, and have been in my life for a long time. But on the other hand, we’ve always had the small gathering on Black Friday, and NYE was the real party. So, for next year, I think we need to step it up. Chris is pretty busy, being a Dad and all, maybe someone else should host. A change of locale, perhaps, but we need to start winning over those who have been bailing out, or else the tradition will die. Stagnation for eternity is not an option.

Also, I don’t even use twitter, but I found their error-message image entertaining. The little birdies can’t handle the whale!  They just can’t do it!!!

Merry Christmas – More Photos from NYC!

•December 29, 2010 • 1 Comment

No foreplay here – I’m just going to start by posting some pictures from right before Christmas.   It snowed in NY, a lot, and it kinda sucks, that rant will come later, but please believe me when I say that a white Christmas is NOT pretty in this city.

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Ok, now that the long-overdue chore of photo-posting is done,  I would like to say I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday.  I actually took the opportunity to escape from the Big Apple, driving home to visit the family in what tends to be a waterfall of great food and family gatherings packed into a 24 hour period.  The drive home absolutely sucked, I decided to try a shorter route, which turns out to be the way that everybody likes to go.   I’ll stick with my previous plan of going north, then west, and finally turning south towards home.  When traveling the east coast, unless you actually want to stop in New York City, don’t try to go through.  Trust me, you *will* be stopped.


So, I moved into an apartment….for a little less than a month.   It’s a nice place, located in Harlem, far enough east that I can get to the 4/5/6 trains (which is important for exploring the East side) and right on the 2/3 express, which get me to the West side.   I drove into the city in order to bring my stuff here, already breaking one of my promises to my car (to never subject it to NYC traffic).  Well, driving to work in the morning was a blast, cutting off taxi cabs, swerving around stopping cars, etc etc.  I think there’s a little bit of an aggressive city driver in me!

I also went Christmas shopping, and realized upon parking my car on the side of a Harlem street, that my backseat was full of presents.  This isn’t going to work, is it!  Haul them all to the apartment..then back down in the morning for the drive home.

Back to Christmas holiday.  This year was colored with a replacement tradition – rather than Christmas Eve at my father’s house, we did it with my sister and brother in law.   There was much merriment, a tiny playlist on repeat, good food, hot coffee.  It’s great to see that after 2 years now, my sister and her husband seem to be doing perfectly fine.  However, this gather had to wrap up – there was a another scheduled for the morning!

To be brief, I was on gathering overload by the time Tuesday morning rolled around and it was time to go back to work.  I decided..well..the wine decided..that I was not driving myself up monday night, so I had to commute straight into work Tuesday.  I’ll tell you what, a two and a half hour drive is not the best way to start the morning, especially when the roads are a little on the ugly side. I made it and settled into the office, jumping right back into the purchasing of some high-end electrical test equipment.  My job, for the moment, involves building a fairly complicated research device, and then making sure it works the first time they actually go to use it.  Because they’re renting a military airplane to fly this instrument around the arctic, and that ain’t cheap.  It had better work. No pressure, right?


How to move to NY?

•December 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I am please to share with you this awesome view.  I can tell you – being hundreds of feet above the middle of the Hudson river on a chilly, windy December night is not really that much fun!

So, the past 4 days have been borderline insanity.  As I pointed out, I  *don’t* live in Manhattan.  I live in Palisades, which is an easy commute to NYC.  The main difficulty here is that commuters don’t stay in the city late, and the options for escaping the city to go home get more and more expensive as the clock passes 7, 10, and 1 respectively.  And weekends?   Forget about it.  Though, there is always driving, and I have a car.  I’m just not sure if I’ve convinced myself I know how to keep a car in the city, not to mention I don’t know where to put all the stuff that’s stored in it. You see, part of being a wandering gypsy is having a place to keep your things.  As opposed to a trash bag that I hide under someone’s stairwell, I use my car, conveniently hidden 15 miles from Manhattan.

Let me describe a typical day for now.  Go to work from about 8am to 2pm.  Short day, I know, but there isn’t a whole lot to do anyway, I just talk to equipment vendors, check up on how some contractors are progressing on a lab renovation, read about signal processing.  Then, I hop on the shuttle, and 30-40 minutes later I find myself no longer in the peaceful woodlands with old growth trees towering overhead and squirrels running about.  I get dropped off at the northern tip of Columbia University, which happens to be a few short blocks south of Spanish Harlem and a few blocks west of plain ol’ Harlem.  Taxi cabs, honking horns, people standing on street corners, people wandering with shopping carts of all their belongings.  Nowhere to even take a leak without buying food.  But most of all – nobody actually cares.    So here I am, brand new to the city.  I have with me $50 and my netbook, I don’t know the mass transit system, really, I don’t know anything.  I have an appointment to see a place i found on craigslist.  It’s 35 blocks north and 3 avenues east – I start walking.  This isn’t that bad!  You can see how the mix of people on the street changes from predominantly white, to hispanic, to black, to white.   I thought it was the big “melting pot”  but there seem to be clear racial communities.

Apartment number 1.  British overload – we have a professor of music as a landlord, and 2 girls, a ballerina and a nursing student, all from the UK.  He likes me, and wants me to sign on for a year.  A year!  I’ve been here one day.  Short term is do-able, he says, but I need two months of rent ahead.  That’s $2400 just to move in – $2400 paid my rent for an entire YEAR in Rochester.  Ok, maybe this isn’t going to be so easy.  What to do now?

I give the bus a shot.  It’s a very simple route, the M101, directly N/S along Amsterdam.   The 35 blocks, which took quite some time on the way north, take considerably less this time around.  Now what?  I’m at 122 and Amsterdam, and I spy a WIFI sign on top of a FREE COFFEE WITH FOOD sign, down the avenue.  I’m hungry, so the possibility of food, coffee, and internet is looking pretty good right now.  Not to mention they have a restroom.

So, here we are at the Elsa-Bell.  I hope on craigslist and begin search for apartment with phone numbers in the listing.  Call, call, devoure burger, call.  Not much luck – I manage to find one more hit for the day, which turns out to be a decent possibility.  140th and Broadway – 20 blocks from my bus stop, only 650 per month, but the place is kind of a dump, and the neighborhood a little on the shady side.  I pass, and retreat home.  Over the course of a few hours, I’ve walked over a hundred blocks, spent $15 on one meal and $2.50 on a bus ride, saw two apartments, one that was too nice and one that was far too not-nice. If my goal here was exercise, I’m doing great. If it was to keep myself thin, I know I didn’t eat enough for the time and activity I spent there.  If my goal was to find a new Time to retreat to my desolate library and browse craigslist over a bottle of wine.   Tomorrow will be another day!!

Greetings from NY…Palisades, NY

•December 19, 2010 • 3 Comments

Greetings from one of the most weird NY city moves, ever.  It’s so crazy that a week has passed – well, almost a week.   I moved up here into temp housing, a place called Lamont Hall.  I suppose I should mention, I’m working for Columbia U, and doing most of my work on their satellite campus known as the “Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory” ,  a spacious place with large parking lots, trees, squirrels.

Actually, I’ll just snap a photo out my window.  Just to prove to you that “Toto, we’re not in New York City anymore(yet?) ”

(Sorry about the screen)

This campus is about 12 miles north of the George Washington Bridge, which connects Fort Lee, NJ with Uptown (181 st) Manhattan.  So I’m close, but not that close, to the city.  There’s a shuttle that runs from here to there, and silly me, I thought that was the best way to get into the city.  I mean, it’s convenient and all, but it stops running at 6pm.   It delivers you at 120 + Amsterdam, and for that reason alone, the 120s have become my “home base” for my current mission – find somewhere THERE to live.

So, between managing HR paperwork and such, trying to get myself situated with everything,  worry about getting trapped in the city if I missed the last bus, I actually didn’t spend a whole lot of time there.  A few hours on Wednesday, a little bit longer on Friday.

You know for not being a city boy at all, this city thing isn’t that intimidating.  I mean, everything you want is available (for a cost) right around the corner.   You’re never out  of easy walking distance from a liquor store, restaurant, bank, whatever. I seriously think the NY bottle deposit was developed as a subsidy for the homeless.  Anyway,my first two days in the city, I wandered about aimlessly, soaking in this place, processing it, attempting to put on a guise as someone who has their shit together.  Except, I’m the weirdo who goes home every night to a ghost house in the woods, 15 miles away.

So, the ghost house!  This is my current pad.  It’s pretty expensive (for me, anyway) at $50 a night, but  I’m paying it to Columbia, and they’re paying me to look for an apartment, so I’m not that worried about it.  Lamont Hall is the library for this satellite campus, and has beds upstairs.  So, it’s a lot like staying in a library after it closes – it goes from quiet, to desolate.  A few nights ago, I decided to wander about, in the dark,naked in my pajamas and take some photos.

So, at night after 6pm, this place is all mine (and trust me, it’s a lot bigger than the couple photos I posted suggested).  There are noises in the walls, and occasional security guard visits, but for the most part humans and spirits alike leave me alone, until I get bored and drive into town (which, really, isn’t that far away).

It’s funny.  I feel trapped here, out in the suburbs.  It’s been that way all my life with Philly, and I get here to find more of the same.  Hop in the car, 15 minute drive down the highway to go to the mall, or a bar.  Normal suburbs life.  WOO PARTY TIME..yeah, no.  Just normal suburbs life with a tall price tag.

Dear Life…..Wow

•December 13, 2010 • 3 Comments

Well!  A lot has gone on in the last week.  Oddly enough, a week when I have been more alone than I have in the last 6 years or so – I’ve always had roomates or family around, but with my father away for the week, I’ve had the house to myself, except for that crazy party last night (which, sadly, never happened, we went out instead, which involves far less drinking) The short of it:  I have a bangin’ new job just outside of  NYC.  I’m living out of a hotel.  I got about 12 hours of warning between being hired and my first day.  My first day involved 7 hours of driving and 9 hours at work.  I slept all of like..2 hours the night before. I planned on being all prepared to head back up, but guess what- I’m not. at.all.   In fact I think I’m going to throw a bunch of stuff in my car and LEAVE.  Woo-Woo!  I wanna party with you!  (I don’t think anyone who reads knows where that comes from) On a more serious note,  I’m really excited for this opportunity.  It’s roots are tied in a twisted, twisted way to sailing, just like the roots of most things truly *good* in my life recently.  Life’s crazy like that, isn’t it?  Really – what kind door is opened up because of the combination of a Rolling Stones concert in 2002 and living on a sailboat for a month in 2010.   I didn’t have to do either of those things!   But then you talk to somebody new, and it’s like “Hey, yeah, I saw the ‘Stones.  Whoa, you lived on a sailboat too?”   and suddenly you have a new friend!  Without that old concert , the conversation may have gone nowhere. Anyway, I just threw a bunch of clothes into a trash bag, stuffed it in my car, delivered the cat to my mom’s house, and it’s time to GO.  I’ll let you know when I get there!

UPDATE I am here.  Me and my trashbag..ok..I jammed that into a duffel…and my laptop, and a wooden box full of booze.