Archive for July 2007

A Quiet Sunday in NYC

July 22, 2007

I really did very little today.  Just a bit of local wandering and a very long afternoon nap.

Church was uneventful this morning.  We started with just about 5 of us and grew to 15 or so by the end of the service.

A bad photo of Times Square at 8:30am on a Sunday morning.

Times Square on a Sunday Morning

And the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, on 46th between 6th Ave and 7th Ave.  It’s the gray building.

Church of St. Mary the Virgin

After Church, I went and got some stuff at Home Depot and did a little work around the co-op.  Just some minor stuff that I’ve put off for a while.  Then a long nap and some afternoon TV watching.  What a boring, but pleasant, day.

Late in the afternoon, I went to see how close I could get to the office.  I found that they are opening streets very quickly and that’s nice.  I passed by a local as he was excitedly proclaiming to his neighbor that “The street’s open, that means the mailman comes tomorrow!”.  You forget that that neighborhood, if they weren’t evacuated, were still badly affected.  The mail’s a minor thing, but not really.

I found that my office building is sort of open.  I could get in, but they would only let me go on an escorted trip to my office for a maximum of five minutes.  Because I do almost all of my work on the computer, I didn’t need anything, but they wouldn’t let me make any calls from my office to see if others needed something.

-H

A minor trip through Central Park

July 21, 2007

The weather was fine and I decided to take a little trip through Central Park and perhaps run an errand or two.  I wanted to see if any more of the “Frozen Zone” was freeing up, but was disappointed to find it unchanged from yesterday.  Well….actually the news isn’t even that good.  I was walking on 3rd Avenue and found construction crews setting up concrete barriers on both sides of the street.  They’re the standard 3 or 3.5 foot high barriers you see on major construction areas and it seems to portend poorly for the future.  I have no proof they’ve anything to do with the steampipe explosion, but I imagine they do.  They look like they’re going to be around for a while.

South view down Park Avenue around 77th

I took the subway up to East 77th Street and wandered over to the Park (the picture above is a view southward from Park Avenue).  I had no real destination in mind, but today I really just didn’t want to go into “The Ramble”.  I guess I was just a little more lethargic than I expected at the beginning.  This time, though, it seemed that the paths kept trying to get me up into it; an offer I refused at least three times.  I just kept pushing westward.

The only really memorable event while I was in the Park was during one of those “avoidance” manuevers.  I was walking and heard a saxaphone player playing “Take Five”, which has to be one of my favorite jazz standards.  He was playing under a stone bridge and I made a quick turn to go and listen to him.  The acoustics were amazing, of course.  Actually, I’ve heard the guy playing a number of times but his stuff usually is a lot more pedestrian and of no particular interest to me.  But this was very nice.  He didn’t play it well, and it really suffered for not having an accompaniment (it really needs some drums playing softly in the background); but he gets kudos for giving it his all.  I listened for a couple of minutes and when he finished I told him that I had enjoyed it and gave him a buck.  He then started playing something not to my taste and I moved on.

I continued and knew I was getting into an area I have some fondness for.  Below’s a picture of the Museum of Natural History on the West Side of Central Park.

View of Museum of Natural History 

It’s in this general area that “That Guitar Man” (http://www.thatguitarman.com/) plays every Saturday.  I just sort of listened and started following the sound of his music.  I once took my cousin Cathy to hear him and I have fond memories of that afternoon’s concert.

That Guitar Man

I listened for a while.  He’s really good and I always enjoy it, but I tend to prefer his covers more than his original stuff.  They aren’t bad, but I guess I’m just showing my pedestrian taste for the music of my youth.

I listened for a while and then moved on.

A picture of the area he plays:

Rowboats

When I exited the Park, I did so at 72nd Street and saw one of my favorite buildings:  The Dakota.  I always am amazed at the window air conditioners.  They are prevalent even in the most august buildings.

 The Dakota

As I left the Park, I did my big “errand” for the day.  I needed to get some money from the bank.  I normally use a branch right next to my office; but it is in the Frozen Zone so “no go” for using it for a while.  I know there are lots of branches, but since I was in the area I thought I’d go to one I used to occasionally use near my old stomping grounds.  While there, I ended up going to “Nick’s” which is a famous greasy spoon sort of place with wonderful hamburgers.  Actually, their menu is about 20 pages long and they have only about 15 tables for eating.  It was very, very good.

I wandered around a bit more.  That part of town always has a lot of book vendors on the sidewalks.  They seem to buy books at estate sales and the like and then sell them on the sidewalks on the weekends.

-H

Two Days After the Steampipe Explosion

July 20, 2007

It’s hard to believe one person is dead after the event and two others are in critical condition.  This morning, here’s the closest I could get to the site.  This is from 41st and 3rd Avenue.

A view up 41st Street July 20 am

For the second day, and probably for a number of more days, we are operating out of our disaster recovery site.  I went in today simply because I couldn’t stand not being at work and having to operate at a distance via phone and e-mail.

They’re saying that the asbestos may be in the air conditioning units and that they may need to do a lot of work to clean it out.  The City is also tearing up lots of the street(s) in the area to re-lay electrical lines and whatnot.

Work was interesting in the sense that people are still drawing parallels between this and 9/11.  Not so much for anything as much as distrust of what the City is saying about the area being clean.  Nevertheless, people were pretty productive and I got finished with a couple of big reports and sent them off to the affected parties.

-H

Steam Pipe Explosion in NYC

July 18, 2007

I was still at work when about 6pm there was a loud sustained sound and the lights flickered.  I walked out of my office and found that the office still had a number of people, including three of my staff.  We could hear the sound coming from outside of the building (okay, we weren’t sure it was outside and we had no idea what it was).   I went to the window to check when one of the other staff said there was “something going on”.  I got to the window and noted that there was indeed a large amount of steam coming from below/outside.

To me, it seemed an obvious steam pipe explosion, but I honestly was only guessing with a lot of evidence.  I could see the steam rising about 10 to 15 stories, but it was obviously steam and not smoke.  I went back to my office to see if there was a flash-news story on it, but nothing.  Of course, we were all preparing to evacuate at that point and I sent my staff home and started telling other to do so, too.  I went into “fire marshal mode” and started to go throughout the floor to find and alert people.  It was obviously time to leave.

We went out via the fire escape.  I went to the “official gathering” point, but it was only two of us there.  Everyone else had gone homeward.

The sound was in the direction of my home:  41st Street.  So, I started heading in the direction, but via 39th Street.  When I got to Lexington, I could see it.  Unbelievable!!!  A huge geyser about 30 feet wide just shooting skyward like nothing I’ve ever seen.  I watched for about a minute before the cops started rousting us out of there.  I went back to 37th Street just to keep watching.  Some people were a bit fearful, but mostly it was awe and wonder and worry at it.  Could the explosive pressure go in our direction and sort of “unzip” the street?  It certainly seemed strong enough.  After a couple of more minutes, I thought about an issue that I wanted to fix:  emergency supplies.

I live 3 blocks away from the explosion.  I went down to the 2nd Avenue “Gristides” supermarket on 40th to pick up water (would my water pressure be affected?) and some overnight food.  I expected a big line, but it was nearly empty.  I left and then got my other surprise.  My street on 41st had a perfect view of the eruption.  It even has a slight rise so everyone had a view.  I got there and stood, once again, in awe of it.  It was at least 3 times further away than my previous view, but it was plenty.

I ran into a guy who was covered with mud.  He had been right on the spot when it happened and had obviously been knocked down/fallen (his pants were ripped and he was splattered all over with mud).  He said he really couldn’t describe the event as it happened so fast.  He was in a bit of a daze, but seemed fine.

And, yes, the explosion happened exactly on my daily path to/from work.  I hope the office is open tomorrow.

(from DrudgeReport) 

 About the only significant thing that I can say about this right now is that there’s been a lot of work at that intersection over the winter.  There hasn’t been anything recently though.

 -H

Union Square – an “amazing” visit

July 15, 2007

I’ve always said that something is always happening at Union Square.  Today….nothing was going on.  Maybe that’s what was happening.

Two weeks ago, I went there and found that the 1960’s had re-arrived big time.  Last week, the NY Times apparently had an article saying essentially the same thing.  This week, the 1960’s were mostly gone from Union Square.  Actually almost everything was gone.

20070715-union-square-almost-empty.jpg

I didn’t understand it and still don’t.  It usually has some sort of festival or protest.  What?  Are people too content that they don’t come out here nowadays?  Or is it that the fact that the NY Times has highlighted the trend and now the trendoids refuse to take part in it lest they be branded as…”trendoids”?  Nah.  Maybe I just showed up a little early for a planned huge demonstration or maybe there were “official” protests taking part somewhere else and that left Union Square empty.

Well, there were the usual artists showing their work:

 Union Square - artists’ row

My favorite was this guy below.  Notice the kilt and the wheelchair.  Okay, I sort of understand the kilt, but I don’t really want to think about the wheelchair (the guy appeared fully able).

 Artist with kilt and wheelchair

 After viewing it, I note that my picture of the kilt doesn’t really show, but he had one.  And the wheelchair doesn’t really show, either.  I guess I need to get better at this photography thing.

And the farmers’ market area was empty!!!!!

 Union Square - Farmers Market

I did check and it appeared that there was some sort of preparation for filming.  I didn’t bother to wait for anything to happen.  With filming, nothing ever happens.

-H