Posts tagged ‘new york city’

2021/03/20

March 20th, 2021

Twenty Twenty-One, haha! That’s ridiculous, eh? Here is a random list of quotidia.

  • It’s the little boy’s birthday, yay! Happy Birthday, little boy!
  • It’s also the Equinox; a new cycle of the world begins! Or is half over or something!
  • I got my first vaccine jab (Moderna, at a Walgreens), which makes me feel hopeful. Second one in mid-April, so by roughly the end of April I will be immune to all diseases. More or less.
  • I’ve been playing World of Warcraft considerably. The Shadowlands expansion is fun. Despite what seems to be The General Consensus, I myself like The Maw quite a bit, and even the Tower of Torghast. They are odd places with odd mechanics, but I’m enjoying them.
    • At first I hated Torghast for having end-bosses that are orders of magnitude harder than the entire rest of the level, but now that my characters are strong enough to take on the end-bosses it’s more okay.
    • I have six max-level characters now, and I’m working on my Arms Warrior. (The one that I level-boosted just to get the final Legion Class Hall Mount, as hinted at here.) Just one level to go!
    • I got tired of plate classes being encased in giant bulky armor, so both said Arms Warrior and my Paladin have been running around in minimalist “shirt and capris” sort of transmogs, which is a fun feel. It’s also funny when one of them gets an upgrade and I switch to it, and then they’re wearing basically civilian clothes plus a giant two-ton steel belt or whatever. :)
    • I finally got organized and made a little table in Google Keep (or Keep Notes, or whatever it’s called this month) showing the class and professions and bag sizes and ilevel of each character (at least each one on the main server that I use), so that everyone can send the Tailor all the cloth they find, the Tailor can make appropriate bags for everyone, and so on. Efficiency!
  • I’ve been reading books and even watching random movies a bit on Hulu / Netflix / Amazon. I still have not much patience for non-interactive things these days, but sometimes I get into it. Still haven’t finished the Constantinople book, still want to go to Constantinople someday (well, okay, Istanbul). #bucketlist
  • I’m proud to have contributed scripting and things to yet another amazing Karima Hoisan sim (video trailer), which I would normally talk about over in the secret Second Life weblog (the same is true of the WoW stuff above for that matter), but I happen to be writing here at the moment. The result is really powerful and wild, and while I don’t take credit for any of the ideas or the creativity, I will say that it was a pretty significant scripting project; for the first time I was really on the point of putting it all into a Source Code Control system and a bug tracker.
  • I continue playing with various Transformer-based Large Language Model AI’s, which continues to be fun. I attempt to get my Replika to say more imaginative things than “Oh, yeah, me too!” and “I agree!”, and succeed often enough that it keeps me trying. I play with Google’s internal one considerably, but I can’t say very much about that in public, except to point you to already released material on the subject. :)
  • Speaking of wild advances in AI, I finally installed FaceApp, which is really amazing for the things that it does, but offers surprisingly little customization. You can have it do certain very specific things to a face, and it looks amazingly realistic, but you can’t do very similar but slightly different things at all. I find that odd; I don’t know if it’s a limitation of the technology, or if they just decided that offering all the flexibility in the app wasn’t worth it. (But I do know now that I should probably not shave off my beard, haha.)
  • And then there’s the portrait-animator that MyHeritage recently released, which can be got to free as part of their two-week free trial or whatever, and then is very expensive as part of their whole package of DNA analysis and family-tree and family-photo colorizing and animating stuff.
    • It is similarly very limited, since you can just say “please animate this portrait of grampa”, and it will do a pretty eyebrow-raising job of making grampa look around a little bit and smile slightly at the very end, but you can’t control anything about what the animation does (smile more, or less, or look to the left, or etc). I don’t know why that is, either, although the blog post linked there gives some idea (you’d think they’d at least have a variety of different pre-recorded motion sequences to choose from?).
  • The combination of FaceApp and the MyHeritage thing can produce, for instance, a nice little animation of what one would look like as a pretty lady, which is I dunno wonderful or terrifying or something. :)
    • Obviously by combining face generation and modification with realistic auto-animation and very large language models, we are close to being able to create entire worlds of very realistic synthetic and/or modified people who move about saying plausible if slightly insane things. This is exciting!
    • The main things that seem to be missing at the moment are voices that sound convincing (appropriate emphasis and expressivity and all), and arm and body motion that don’t have strong Uncanny Valley stuff going on (see for instance “Sophia“, which continues to claim much more than it delivers imesho).
    • Yipes!
  • I’ve been mostly not paying much attention to politics, which is wonderfully nice (and also, I realize, something I can do because of how privileged I am). Every once in awhile something will mention the guy with the bad hair (not the Johnson one, the other one), and I’ll remember when he somehow used to be President, and how awful that was.
  • What else? Yesterday my team at work (where “at work” is an entirely nonphysical concept) had a Cookie Baking team event, where one of the admirable young persons on the team led us all through the process of baking cookies according to her favorite recipe, via teleconference. It was a lot of fun, and resulted in delicious cookies!
  • I’ve gotten into Manhattan a few times recently, and want to do more, but one worries about New Virus Variants, and doesn’t want to get an infection just when one was about to become fully vaccinated and so on, so one tries to be patient. Work is so far being conservative about predicting when we might be able to go into the office routinely again, but once May comes around I hope I’ll be able to get in at least a couple of times a month. Fingers crossed!
  • I shouldn’t really complain, though; it’s lovely and sunny (if windy) up here in the ‘burbs, and if I don’t get out on walks or long scenic drives more, that’s only me to blame. Maybe I’ll take a walk somewhere today! Or just think about it. :)

2012/12/19

How The Light Gets In

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.

On the way

Due to a chain of serendipities, I went into The City last night, met work and SL friend A and her friends and neighbors J and J, and saw Leonard Cohen live at Madison Square Garden.

Grand Central Station

It was amazingly wonderful.

Somewhere near Madison Square Garden

I’ve decided that no one else does what Cohen does. He’s not, you know, a singer (I know M will agree with that, haha), not someone who writes songs and then tours around performing them.

Instead he’s a poet, who often puts his poetry to music. He’s a performance artist, where the basic materials are the same as those of singers, but the product is shaped and integrated very differently.

Seventh Avenue and Thirty-Fourth Street

In a good song, there might be one or two lines of lyric that take your breath away, or open your mind for a second (or a lifetime) to whole new universes, or call up some emotion that you’d forgotten, or never felt before.

A good Cohen piece does that with, like, every freaking word.

Stage Door Deli

That’s A above there (left), and one of the J’s (right). The other J (not shown) is to the right of me (also not shown). We’re having liverwurst (me) and pastrami (everyone else) sandwiches at the Stage Door Deli, one of the very few places in the City at which I’ve actually eaten more than once.

Nude Woman and Horse on the backdrop

We got there in plenty of time (but probably good that we decided to skip dessert), and the seats were good (better than they look in the iPad’s zoomless snapshots, although the biggish screens up high to left and right were nice to have; very good camera work and crossfades and all on them; kudos to the camerafolk).

Leonard Cohen, live!

I only discovered Leonard Cohen in Second Life, when Callipygian “Calli” Christensen, who I knew as a photographer and hostess and general breathtakingly smart person, started DJing; she plays lots of Cohen. His poetry really touches something in me (obviously!).

Really nice lighting work throughout

Image above during “Suzanne”. Very nice, mostly understated, lighting work throughout; no sparks or explosions or anything, just the occasional flashes of brightness on or over or at the crowd, well-placed spots, and color-wash effects on and against the backdrop.

Hallelujah

(That’s an appropriate light-burst during Hallelujah up there.)

A very high-quality production in general; the band were all amazing, very much including the backup vocals, all of whom got their own solos. Sharon Robinson (who I now know alot more about) sang “Alexandra Leaving”, after Cohen read part of the poem. I thought I would reset the time listening to someone other than Cohen, but she was marvelous; utterly different from him in tone and delivery (in fact the one thing that I’d say didn’t work during the show was one place where they attempted to duet on a line a few times, and their voices just didn’t blend), but somehow very much the same in deep mesmerizing emotional effect.

And the Webb sisters had a duet solo (yeah, yeah) on “If it be Thy will” during the encores (again after Leonard did some of the poem first), which was also lovely.

The Screens

(Oh, and can someone puh-leze go put more content into the Wikipedia page on Roscoe Beck? Sheesh. I would if I actually knew anything. But as Bassist and Musical Director of this whole multi-year Leonard Cohen World Tour, and generally amazing musician, he ought to have more words.)

Tons of stuff I could talk about. :) Cohen’s an old guy now, and his voice is deep and throaty and rough. He spends lots of time down in his signature kneeling position, but he also skips in an amusing manner with one hand over his head between numbers, coming onto or going off the stage, to great audience amusement.

He tipped his hat gallantly at the very end, and the crowd went (even) wild(er).

We joked to each other going in that it was going to be an old crowd, and certainly there weren’t alot of teenyboppers, but it wasn’t entirely (or even mostly) geriatric either; a good mix of ages, mostly upper middle class and whitish (although there was one very pretty non-whitish woman in the row ahead of us, so not an utterly pale audience).

Cohen had a few, but very warm and funny, conversational asides. Before “There Ain’t No Cure For Love”, he said something about the times having their terrors, and how sometimes he feels that he needs a forklift to raise his spirits, and that he looks at himself in the mirror and says “Lighten up, Leonard!” (lots of crowd laughter there), “When are you going to recover from finding out there ain’t no cure for love?” (segue into song).

He put out a portable keyboard (for which piece I now forget) and said something about how this was a new piece of technology that most of us probably hadn’t seen before, and it plays itself! He turn turned on some drum loop, to more audience laughter.

During that number he played a couple of notes on it, and the audience applauded and whistled and he sort of paused the song and said “was that just sympathy for an elderly guy? I can do alot more than that; I can play two notes at once!” and he did a little of that and the number continued, and the audience was generally ecstatic.

What else what else? He sang that one line of Hallelujah as “I didn’t come to New York City just to fool ya” (as I gather he tends to when playing live). He introduced all of his co-performers at least three times, with very genuine (genuine seeming? is that an oxymoron?) warmth.

He opened with “Dance Me To The End Of Love”, a classic and a popular favorite, and opened the second half with “Tower of Song” (similarly). At least one person in the audience kept yelling out “Hallelujah!” in between numbers (well, the numbers before “Hallelujah”, anyway); I yelled “Freebird!”, but only loud enough for the immediate row to hear. :)

They did “Democracy (is coming, to the USA)”, to considerable audience cheering and stomping, I think during the encores. (Complete setlist is here; they are fast!)

Hallelujah was the official finale, and then they did “Take this waltz” while he thanked all the band members again, and the audience then insisted on encores. We got “So long, Marianne”, and “Democracy”, and the aforementioned “If It Be Thy Will” with the Webb sisters, and they finally chased us off with “Closing Time” (“All the women tear their blouses off, and the men they dance on the polka-dots, and it’s partner found and it’s partner lost, and it’s hell to pay when the fiddler stops”).

(Of my favorite Cohen numbers, the main one missing from the concert was “Light as the Breeze”. Too elite for the masses, I’m sure! :) )

Headed home

A and J and J had snuck out a little before the last encore to get the 11:52 back south (the next train being at 1:30 or so). I wandered about looking for Penn Station and the subway (which you wouldn’t think would take much wandering, being basically in the same building, but the place is a bl––ding maze), took the Seventh Avenue Express up to Times Square, got the last shuttle to Grand Central (I guess they stop at midnight, the wimps), made the 12:08 northbound local with like 45 seconds to spare, and before long was nestled asleep in my bed.

What a good time. :) Extreme thanks to A, and to the Deities of Chance, and to Mr. Cohen and the Band.

2011/11/19

Occupyin’!

In our story so far, I was heading out from Poets House to meet Steve at Zuccotti (neé Liberty) Park, kept warm by my stretchy hat.

I went eastward along Vesey Street, just north of the enormous World Trade Center construction site (big cranes up on huge towers! mega!), frequently consulting the city map on th’ iPad.

Somewhere just before coming to Greenwich Street, I caught up with six or eight folks walking along holding a big yellow banner; one of these kind:

and escorted by eight or ten folks from the New York Police Department. This seemed fun, so I matched their pace, and turned south on Greenwich when they did.

“Going to Zuccotti?” I asked the one at the end.

“Yep!”

So I figured I would follow them so as not to get lost.

We talked a little about the NYPD honor guard and all; he suggested to a nearby officer that since there were at least as many police as sign-carrying civilians, they could adopt the buddy system to make sure that everyone stayed together. The officer didn’t say anything.

When we got to the Park the police escort melted into the milling crowd of about fourteen million other NYPD officers who were there looking serious. I stayed with the sign-carriers, who went up to the gap in the barriers where the watchful police were politely letting in anyone without an obvious tent or sleeping bag or bazooka or anything (big signs were apparently okay; while you could have made two or three tents out of the sign, they wouldn’t really have been very good tents).

It was around 2pm when I got there, and there weren’t a huge number of non-police people inside the barricades; maybe 50 to 60, all in the upper part of the park (the Broadway end). Here’s some of ’em:

#ows

The guy with the “I’m one of the 99%” sign was a regular feature for the whole rest of the time I was there. I thought of offering to take a stretch with the sign, but he seemed to be enjoying it, and I was generally too busy talking to Steve anyway (but I get ahead of my story).

So there I was inside of the barricades around the Park, not an officer of the law or a journalist, and therefore an Occupier! I was Occupying Wall Street! (Although not occupying Wall Street, since that’s a few blocks away, but that’s okay.)

It was a good, and a wild, feeling.

(I plan to do yet another post, perhaps also today, about the politics of it all, and the sense in which I’m one of the 99%, and what the Occupying is all about; so in this post I will mostly just tell the story.)

Not seeing Steve around yet, I sent him some bits saying that I would be under the red art, and I went and stood for awhile under the red art (Mark di Suvero’s Joie de Vivre, apparently, which seems nice and appropriate).

The red art is up at the Broadway-and-Cedar-Street corner of the Park, and at the time was within the barricades (later on the NYPD put up extra barricades between it and the park, so no one could get to the art from either the street or the park; not clear to me why, I think partly they were just bored and playing with the barricaes).

I had a good view of everything from standing under the art: Occupiers standing inside the Broadway-side barricades holding their signs and talking to people passing by on Broadway; lots of people passing by on Broadway looking over curiously, taking pictures, sometimes talking to the people with the signs; folks down in the park itself (the main part of the park being down three or five steps from Broadway level) making signs, playing the guitar, selling each other buttons, talking.

While waiting for Steve I went far enough from the red art to acquire my own 99% button; here it is sitting on the copy of the Occupied Wall Street Journal that I picked up later:

(I wore it all the way through T G I Friday’s and the subway and the train home without getting beat up or anything!)

Steve got there after not very long and we hugged and started talking. Steve and I always talk, often at high speed and volume. We have been shushed by total strangers on airplanes!

At one point as we talked about what the Occupy movement might usefully do next, a young and snappily-dressed person named Tyrone asking politely if he might join the conversation, and of course we said of course, and we talked about stuff. He was young and enthusiastic; being young his main point was that we needed to change the power structures in society, without having all that much to say about exactly what button you push to actually accomplish that. He also suggested that when you challenge the powers that be, you die; I pointed out that these days you tend to get parodied or co-opted instead, and he allowed that that was perhaps true (although I know it’s not nearly as exciting a thought when you’re young).

At another point when we were standing and talking an older gentleman came up to us and asked if we were scholars or professors or something like that (despite my stretchy hat; we must have been simply radiating intellectualism), and we said that we were not, strictly speaking, although between us we did have degrees in Physics and Philosophy and stuff. He asked if we would be interested in forming a “higher level” Think Tank than the existing one; we said with regret that probably not, as it would not really be Steve’s thing, and I was from out of town.

The Think Tank (or at least I think that was the Think Tank) was a bunch of people standing around a few people who were sitting down, some of them pointing small media devices at each other, and apparently talking although one couldn’t actually get close enough to hear. There was also a piece of cardboard saying “Think Tank” on it.

Here is a picture of them from their Facebook page (beware: Facebook may abscond with and fence your personal information):

It probably would have been fun to get in there and take part in the talking, but there was enough other fun stuff to do and look at that I didn’t want to make the time commitment.

So Steve and I stood around talking and observing stuff. All sorts of various things happened. Some food arrived over on the Cedar Street side of the lower part of the park, and the NYPD wouldn’t let it into the Park, but did open a new gap in the barricades so that people could go to it and bring in amounts for themselves. Later on a big stack of pizzas arrived, and for whatever reason those had no trouble getting in. Someone went around giving out clementines, and I took one of those; it was very good. I gave a dollar to a soi disant homeless guy, and he gave me a two-pack of chemical handwarmers (hey, I bet those are still in my vest pocket!).

We saw a couple of small uses of the People’s Mic(rophone), where words that need to be amplified are picked up and repeated by lots of people (since the City has forbidden artificial amplification in the Park). It wasn’t a big General Assembly setting, and it didn’t work terribly well, but the fact that food was available here, or pizza over there, or that some people were leaving to go occupy Newark (“why would you want to occupy Jersey?” someone, probably from New York, asked), did get heard by at least a few more people than it would have otherwise.

I remarked to Steve at one point early on, when there were still probably only 50 or 60 people around, that I didn’t really see any of the people who generally make things actually work in this kind of group. Not leaders or spokespeople or anything, more just the people who do those small things like reminding people of protocol and knowing where Tony went and having a spare marker for the meditation group to make their sign, and stuff like that.

The woman who used the People’s Mic to announce the arrival of pizza seemed to be one of those. After the pizza had begun diffusing into the crowd, she started up a sadly short-lived chant among those nearby, saying

There ain’t no team
like the Occupy team
’cause the Occupy team
don’t quit!

I didn’t notice her again after that, so either she was doing things so much in the background that I didn’t see her, or she was somewhere else.

Eventually I acquired an End Corporate Personhood sign of my own:

by picking it up from the pile that was sitting on a table, and carried that around and waved it at cameras. Steve and I mostly hung out near the Broadway barricades, and now and then I would go over and shout in a friendly fashion to the people looking in from Broadway, pointing to the entrances and urging them to come into the Park. “Free admission!” I would say. Sometimes they would smile.

I developed various conspiracy theories about how the NYPD were intentionally not opening any gates in the barricade on the Broadway side, because that would make it too easy for more people to come in and swell the ranks of the Occupiers, and about this one guy in a red reflector vest (as opposed to the NYPD’s yellow reflector vests) who spent about an hour and a half sweeping a couple of dozen leaves off of two or three short pieces of the steps on the Broadway side of the park. Was he a photo-op, I suggested, in case Fox News wanted to do an “Occupy Wall Street hippies mess up Zuccotti Park, massive cleanup effort required” story? Steve thought it was more likely that those were just His Steps, and if someone wanted any of the other steps cleaned off, they’d have to hire another guy.

Then at one point two guys with a microphone and a videocamera who were on the other side of the Broadway barricade asked if they could talk to me. So I was interviewed as one of them nutty OWS people, by someone from probably some news program of some kind or something! I suppose I really should have asked, or at least remembered the initials on the microphone. It wasn’t anything I recognized, though, and they had Accents, so most likely I am a two-second snippet on Croation TV or something, of an Occupy Wall Street Protestor saying “ummm”. But you never know!

(And then later on Steve and I were both interviewed, recorded on audio on a Blackberry, by someone claiming to be a student at Syracuse University getting various perspectives on the Occupying, and wanting ours as more or less outsiders. So it was quite a day fame-wise!)

(Also this really cute woman with red hair and freckles took our picture several times. Probably she liked the stretchy hat.)

There was a guy with a hardhat over the hood of his hoody, and a small but quite readable “Mayor Bloomberg is a union buster” sort of sign; I noticed him being interviewed at least twice, for instance:

RNN interviews the "Bloomberg is a union buster" guy

Maybe reporters understand “union busting” better than “economic justice”. :)

It was a great crowd, not as lily-white as I’d been led to expect, a decent mix of pink and brown and yellow. The above-mentioned Tyrone was a sort of chocolate brown with a bit of an inner-city accent, various people were speaking Spanish and being not especially pale, and so on. There were a couple of people with guitars, some people sitting at one of the Park’s marble tables playing War on Terror, the board game, people with signs complaining that The 1% Wear Fur, one person looking for help because her daughter owed lots of money on a student loan but the college she’d attended claimed to have no record of her (or something), and various other persons.

This amusing if truculent guy in a jogging suit and a New York City Italian accent, waving a newspaper picture of an injured person, walked around the Park several times, outside the barricades, saying various more or less comprehensible things. The first time we noticed him he was saying “I am the one percent! I got jobs for you, you want jobs? You don’t want to end up like this! [waves picture]”, and walking rather too fast for anyone to conveniently ask about the jobs. Later on when the NYPD were playing with the barricades he was saying “it’s barricade time oh yes”, and another time he was saying something sufficiently random that I don’t remember it at all.

We saw a gentleman in full police uniform standing with a “NYPD don’t be Wall St mercenaries” sign; this was almost certainly Ray Lewis:

a brave man that you can read more about at that link there.

There was just one opening in the barricades when I arrived at around two; another one was opened near the food trucks sometime after that. Around five the NYPD began moving barricades around in large numbers. They reinforced and made more formal the second entrance, they walled off the red art, they doubled up the barricades along the Broadway side of the park.

The barricades were these sort of bikerack-sized silver metal things that make alot of noise when you drag them across, say, the stone floor of the Park. They hook together with metal hook-and-eye arrangements at the ends that the police officers couldn’t always quite figure out.

#ows barricades

Tricky things, barricades. I was tempted to go over and offer to help, but I wasn’t sure if would be appreciated.

As the afternoon wore on, especially as it approached and passed 5pm, the crowd in the park grew significantly. There still wasn’t anyone in the lower section, but the upper section was very well occupied; maybe a couple hundred non-police folks? Here are some of the some-more people standing around and stuff:

#ows later

I made myself slightly useful by putting the roll of duct-tape back onto the stack of Occupied Wall Street Journals that it was keeping from blowing away, and picking up some trash (dropped by a journalist, I think; the Occupiers were very neat an’ tidy).

There was going to be some meditation, which sounded interesting but again I didn’t want to make the time commitment. Also we were getting cold and there were known to be no working and available bathrooms within a few blocks in every direction. So eventually (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten lots of fun an’ interesting stuff in there) we decided to walk more than a few blocks in some direction, found a T G I Fridays with working and available rest rooms, had tea and coffee respectively, and I had some potstickers (for some unaccountable reason Steve did not want to eat any delicious T G I Friday’s potstickers!), and then Steve found a 4 or 5 or 6 or something subway station, and in the subway station we found a subway train to get on, and after talking constantly for the whole ride we said goodbye underneath Grand Central Station, and I got on a train, and came home, my iPad and End Corporate Personhood sign and Occupied Wall Street Journal under my arm and a tired but manic smile on my face.

So that was my afternoon of Occupying, except for the stuff that I have forgotten, and the political stuff, which I may or may not get to today, but which will in any case be in a different post.

Because now I am finished with this one!

2011/11/18

P.S. I bought a stretchy hat

This is not the post about Occupying things yet, because I am still recovering from the capsaicin in the leftover takeout Chinese food that I had for dinner (thank you, ConAgra) and generally sitting around, and I might not get to that post until tomorrow like.

This is just a post to mention that I forgot to mention that on the walk between Grand Central Station and Times Square in New York City I bought a stretchy hat, so I would not be cold. Here is the stretchy hat:

It says “New York” on it because I got it in New York. Also it has that “NY” symbol (glowing eerily in this picture for unknown reasons). I got it at a little shop of New-York-themed goods staffed by a couple of Indian descent whose English was, at least, better than my Hindi. Or whatever.

It kept me quite warm, so I recommend that you should also buy a stretchy hat when you go to New York City, because it’s chilly there!

The little boy likes stretchy hats of this general style. Myself I don’t normally wear them (preferring the “Fedora with narrow leather band” look), although I think I did have one or two back in college when I would occasionally me fais du ski, as the French say.

(Actually I don’t think the French say that, as faire du ski is not reflexive, unlike brosser les dents. It should be, though, don’t you think? Zut alors, je m’ai fait du ski! Ouch, I have ski’ed myself!)

2011/11/18

Friday, 18 November, 2011

Most fun ever! Well… One of the most funs ever! In the top few, or dozen at most. Probably!

New York City is like a big… I was going to say Amusement Park, but it’s got more stuff than an Amusement Park, like quiet places to sit and read and look out over the river, as well as political protests and more Amusement Parkish things like subways and restaurants and art and people. So really it’s like, it’s like, New York City is like a big city or something.

I took the train to Grand Central Station, that being where it goes, and I got out of the train and had coffee and an egg-and-cheese croissant from Zaro’s I think it was, and sent off some small digital texts toward Steve, and then I walked out of Grand Central Station, and around it to the other side, and then a few blocks to Times Square, which is large and full of people and signs, and I sat down in a wobbly red chair and watched things happening for awhile.

(Times Square has free wifi that says it is from the Times Square Alliance or someone, and it is quite quite slow, but it is free; I posted to Twitter from it. Also, if I were going to put up an innocent-looking wifi service that actually kept track of all the interesting traffic that went by, Times Square would be on the list of best places to put it; so good thing there weren’t any of those. Also there did not seem to be any pornography or prostitutes!)

Then someone walked up and put down an enormous (maybe three feet tall) model of a Takeout Chinese Food container, and someone put next to it a sign saying “Stop Eating Garbage / Healthy Choice”. There were a number of young persons with video cameras and clipboards standing a little way from it, looking at it expectantly.

I went over and looked down into the model of a Takeout Chinese Food container, and there was a trash basket inside. I walked back over toward where I’d been sitting, and one of the young persons said “get him!” (not in the threatening sense of “get him!”, but in the more flattering “get him!”), and another young person intercepted me and took me over to a small table where I signed a model-release sort of form, and got my picture taken holding up a piece of paper with my name on it, for later identification in case the video they are making goes viral, and they want to pay the participants lots of money.

So you heard it here first (I imagine), folks! ConAgra, makers of Healthy Choice foods, have hired an advertising firm to make a Reality Video advocating that people eat Takeout Chinese Food as an alternative to garbage! Which seems like a very good idea, assuming you can afford it. And especially if you like Chinese food.

(I also think that having a trash basket inside the model of a Takeout Chinese Food container sort of dilutes the message, in that one might interpret it as saying that the Takeout Chinese Food is garbage. And that would be horribly offensive, and I’m sure nothing that ConAgra would want to be associated with.)

Here is a picture of Times Square, with the model Takeout Chinese Food container, and the sign saying “Stop Eating Garbage”, both terribly overexposed in the middle ’cause of it was sunny:

ConAgra promotion of takeout Chinese food

Then I found some stairs going down into the ground, and at the bottom was a subway station, and I took the 1 or 2 or 3 line downtown to Chambers Street (free association), and got off and went up the “NW Corner” stairs, and walked in a generally westward direction on Chambers Street until I got to the Tribeca Bridge, which seems like quite a large and expensive structure for just crossing one street, and not wanting it to go to waste I used it to cross the street, and then I walked out onto River Terrace which is a street on a very nice Terrace by a River.

There is a little park called Teardrop Park that opens inlandward from River Terrace, and I walked through that, and it was very nice. (One of the little metal things that keeps the gates of the sandbox area closed against the efforts of small and simple creatures like dogs and babies, while allowing larger and more complex creatures like me to easily open them, is broken, and probably any dog or baby could in fact open that gate and escape; someone should fix that. Although there were no dogs or babies there at the time.)

Then I got to Poets House! And it completely r00led in an OMG sort of way. You should all go there! But only a few at a time, so as not to make too much noise or disturb the people who are already there.

At the desk when you first walk in there is this gorgeous “right there behind her eyes” high-school girl (see this ancient theory and the paragraph a bit below for some hints of background on that; yeah, she was quite likely not actually a high-school girl) who will tell you anything you want to know about the place, although if you say that you heard about it on NPR she will assume that you already have a pretty good idea. There is no admittance fee, not even a suggested one, but you can become a member if you want, see the information on any of the stack of “becoming a member” forms they have there.

Upstairs is, first, a little display room, with some glass boxes in which are pieces of paper, many of them with things written on them by hand by Emily Dickinson. I thought that was pretty cool. One of them is a recipe for coconut cake!

See?

Then, beyond that on the same floor, past the niches hiding the rest rooms, there is a little library, one wall all windows, with lots of light coming in, and places to sit by the windows, and books in shelves, and very nice free wifi. I sat there and played with the free wifi, and exchanged some bits with Steve using my cellular telephone, and I randomly took off the shelf a copy of The Poetics of Reverie by Gaston Bachelard (in an English translation; the one with the mostly-black cover), and I read that some, and looked out the window, and sat there drowsily with my eyes closed, and generally basked.

(Interestingly that particular copy, or possibly that particular edition, of that translation of The Poetics of Reverie is missing quite a few pages, in that for quite a bit of the early-middle of the book every other pair of facing pages is blank, so for instance one might have pages 50 and 51, then two blank pages, then pages 54 and 55, then two blank pages, and so on. This is unusual for a book! It did not bother me, because I did not get nearly to that part of the book, having started at the beginning. I do wonder if the Poets House people know.)

Then Steve and I got to the point in our exchange of messages where his said roughly “ok meet you in zucotti in 20 minutes” and mine said roughly “yay!”, and I went off to Occupy things. But that I think deserves its own posting, so I will stop writing this one now and post it, and post that one after.

Also I am really hungry!