Tag Archives: New Yorker

A Day Late and A Hundred Dollars Short: Photos From A Long Vacation Return

My wife and I were a couple of the travelers who were stranded by the blizzard coming home from holiday last Friday. In the time it took to get home  I read five New Yorkers- cover to cover, and my wife devoured Kevin Barry’s new book City of Bohane.

Here are some scenes  from our return journey (note -we used my Canon Powershot SD1000 from 2004 for all of these photos). It has less megapixels (7.1) than most phones these days – but I think the shots came out okay. Judge for yourself:

Part I – PR

Flying back from one of the little islands – to the considerably larger island of Puerto Rico. Photos from the Cessna:

IMG_1960(If you like piña coladas –  on the plane)

IMG_1962A private island – 5 minutes from San Juan as the plain flies.

Part II – Miami

It was Friday the 4th and we’d the weather was bad but American Airlines (AA) said if we didn’t take our flight the next chance to get home would be Tuesday, four days later! So despite the storm warnings we headed to the airport.

All seemed well, until about an hour from NYC the pilot announced that due to weather we were turning around and would land in Miami. I’ve flown a lot in my life and never has a plane turned around!

I don’t have any photos of the Miami airport – I basically stood in the rebooking line and talked on the phone with AA trying to find a way home. Again I was told the next flight to NYC was Tuesday! Two hours later – as we neared the front of the rebooking line – service to NY had resumed and flights were boarding – but of course they were all booked with standby lists above 200 people long. I never thought I’d say this but  why couldn’t we have just waited on the plane?

One family from PR was heading for a ski trip in Vermont. They opted to rent a car and drive. I wonder where they are now?

To my surprise, even after the booking agent told them there was little chance of getting a flight, many people in front and behind us accepted the Tuesday flight and chose to wait at the airport on standby to see if anything opened up sooner. A few people – like us found alternate routes.

Part III Dallas

So we stayed in the Miami airport all day, my wife neglected to take a photo of me busting out one of our new sleeping mats from my carryon bag and taking a 30 minute nap. Finally, we caught a sunset flight to Dallas:

sunset in Dallas

and arrived at our hotel around 9 pm.  At least there was a Whataburger within walking distance (I’d never been before and it’s a Texas establishment). My review? Whataburger is slightly inferior to In and Out Burger – but it’s a cut above the normal slop served at fast food joints.

I’d also like to note that the people at the DFW Comfort Inn South (there is also a North location – i’m sure they are nice too) were really friendly. In all the flight changes our bags got lost – so we only had the sweatshirts on our backs – no toothpaste, brushes, deodorant. The man at the concierge desk hooked us up with all of that, which I really appreciated and I’m sure the people crammed into those airplane seats next to us the following morning did too.

We caught a Dallas sunrise…at the airport.

Dallas sunrise


Part IV – NY at Last

Finally arriving in NYC around 1pm on Saturday, a day late and a dollar short (more like a hundred dollars: AA paid for nothing as it was weather related).

My wife got some great shots of the city as the plane descended:

statue of libertylower NYCIMG_1983 The Freedom Tower


Part V – Bags

I needed a couple  of days to ruminate and recoup before writing about this epic journey. Coincidentally, my buzzer just rang – it’s American Airlines dropping off our bags.

97th and Riverside this morning aka my brain

Fridge Poems to Ponder

I’ve been plugging away on my proposal – so most of my writing juice – in fact most of my time is going towards that endeavor.

This means there’s less time for fun things like reading, biking, and city seeing…Which also means less to write about.

Luckily I’m nearly done with this draft!

Until then, my brain feels like this:

97th and Riverside this morning aka my brain

What I do have time for is reading poems,  especially those from the New Yorker which are typically short, thoughtful and great for commutes, trips to the fridge or moments when you just want to ponder.

Here are three of my recent faves:

Another Lethal Party Favor

by Dean Young

Another Lethal Party Favor, by Dean Young
(Click to enlarge)
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

by A.E. Stallings

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda by A. E. Stallings






And finally, Death of Argos got taken down, and possibly thrown away, because it was making Sand sad.

I read the Odyssey years ago in high school but this translation tells a piece of the story in a really amazing way:

Death of Argos, Translated by Stephen Mitchel

Joining the Modern Era: Reflections on a Week in the Smartphone World

I decided to join the modern era and buy a smartphone.  Once I started looking I was overwhelmed with the choices. iphone or Android? and what number 3,4,5?

I mainly use gmail, gcalendar and gdrive and I’ve had enough experience with my wife Sandy’s  iphone and ipad to know that those google apps are generally lacking – either they don’t sync right or they are filled with adds or both.

Okay Android it was – but which one? There seemed to be so many choices – so I asked a couple Android using friends.

MJ replied: “i would wait for the new google phone- nexus 5 i believe. samsung uses android, but adds a lot of stuff on top of it – some cool features, but most of it’s kinda lame. because they customize it, it can take a while for them to get the newest version of android fully “samsung-ized” and you end up not getting the latest stuff for months. the google phones used to be built by samsung (now made by LG), but they’re made specifically for google, so when the newest, hottest android shit comes out, you always get it from the jump”. either way, i think you’re making the right move with android, assuming you live in a more google-y world than an apple-y world.

While SP had a slightly different take:  “These nerds are right. Battlestar Galactica is WAY better than Star Trek the Next Generation. And yes, get a regular Samsung Galaxy S 3 or 4. It does everything, and you don’t need to wait like a shnook for the latest coolest gadget. You’re dirty Phil. Embrace your lack of cutting edgery (that sounds like something Mike would say about me). ”

My Nexus 5

I waited and bought the Nexus 5.

 What’s changed? and Am I finally part of the modern era? 

My Location location map

Using my old Nokia only T-Mobile knew my location, now it seems like everyone can follow me as Google, the weather channel and the NSA keep track of my whereabouts(Even though I turned off ‘use my location’ I have a sneaking suspicion I’m still being followed).

Talking on the phone? Or just listening?

beyond pod Remember how people used to talk on the phone? Unless I locate the phone’s little speaker and place it directly on my eardrum – it’s nearly impossible to hear a phone conversation. To ameliorate this issue I just keep my headphones plugged in – all the time -which facilitates more talk radio and music listening. Unfortunately, every time I load up good ole’ NPR it hits me with three straight commercials and anyone who knows me – knows I hate commercials.

So I’ve mainly been bumping podcasts – anyone have any good recommendations?

Also streaming the radio chews up more battery power than it did no my old phone, though I should note that I’ve been impressed with some long lasting  battery life – almost 48 hours on one charge with moderate to low use.

A Travelling Dictionary
Portcullis at the Fort Tryon Cloisters

The other day riding the train, plugs stuffed into my ears, and reading the New Yorker I came across a word I didn’t know, portcullis. 

So I tapped it into my dictionary app. Even years though I spent my tenderfoot years playing as knights in armor at the Cloisters, I never knew  there was a word for the “strong grating (especially in medieval castles. made to slide along vertical grooves at the sides of a gateway or fortified place”.



Maybe I’ll learn more cool things to do with this phone in the next few weeks- but considering all the hype around these super phones- not much has changed.

Wait – you might say-  what about how I can watch movies, tv and live sports with my new smartphone. Well I don’t because if I wanted to do that I’d use the computer that I am always sitting at.

And Sandy quipped that when I’m lost I won’t have to call her for directions anymore – but that hasn’t happened yet (likely related to the sitting at computer phenomenon).

Just after I ordered the phone I shared my excitement about it with a few friends. My buddy PJ summed up the import of this shift best,   “Sweeeeeeet! Now Phil can gmail in real time!”.

What’s the Opposite of a Smartphone? 5 Reasons to Stay Stupid

What’s the opposite of a smartphone? My Nokia C2 -1.05, though it does boast a 3.2 mp camera with video and music capabilities.

My Nokia C2 -1.05 In fact, many of the photos on this blog were taken using this trusty tool.

However,  I have decided to succumb and move into the smartworld. First, why did I hold out all these years? And second what’s changed?

Why Not Use a Smartphone?

1. I didn’t need one. It’s hard to believe but some New Yorkers don’t use cell phones at all.  I spend most of my working day – as I am now sitting in front of a computer – so why would I need another computer in my pocket?

2. Having that computer in your pocket or by your head may cause brain cancer- though like plastics – it’s hard to say because everybody is doing it.

3. I didn’t want to pay more for a phone that I wasn’t going to use.

rooster4. On an ideological level I think the smart phone, like the pocket watch in E.P. Thompson’s (1967) classic work serves as another way for our jobs – or the man – to control the worker’s life. As I wrote in a comment last year on the ITP blog:

“According to Thompson (1967) the shift from cock as timepiece to watch as timepiece signified a paradigm shift. Before the cock people told time by the sun. Chaucer’s cock reflects an agricultural modality. Can the current shift from wristwatch to smartphone be interpreted as a harbinger of the Internet revolution?”Christina quickly picked up on this thread writing “… as we consider this shift from watch to smart phone we also consider how this shift functions for Capitalism. Certainly there are implications for blurring the time of the working day. Are there other implications?”

5. And finally, everyone else has a smartphone,  so if  I need one they’re never far away.

What Changed?

1. Though I’m a far cry from self reliant, recently I’ve felt the desire to be in command of my own smartphone. Perhaps, it’s a response to the uncertainty associated with writing one’s dissertation proposal. I don’t know how that will turn out, but I do know that right now it’s 51 degrees in Central Park, I’ve read the Times top ten article titles, and my commute today will take exactly 37 minutes.

2. On a number of occasions I’ve yearned for a smartphone to direct me to the nearest Citi Bike station, or at least a station with working bikes. It’s this on the fly type of adjustment that only a computer in your pocket can provide.

3. Entertainment. I almost always carry a print version of the New Yorker, or The Atlantic in my bag or back pocket. However, I can’t carry the whole paper – or all the articles I’m perusing. One might counter – but you can’t read them all on the go anyway. Instead of reading I occasionally use the headset on my nokia to listen to the radio, but it doesn’t work on the train  and I’m growing tired of NPR – especially during pledge week.

4.  As noted in a previous post, I’ve become more reliant on my google calendar. In the past I used my trusty notebooks to keep track of  daily engagements. However, now that I use my google calendar more often, the process of transferring information from the notebook to the calendar is flawed and has become cumbersome. For example, I might be at a meeting (without my laptop?!) and I want to schedule another meeting – but I don’t have my calendar because google has it. trusty notebooks

5. I want the ability to check my latest email.  If I don’t choose to respond right away I don’t have to – but at least I’ll know what’s ahead. Which leads to a larger existential question – is it better to know about the email lurking in your inbox,  or to live with the possibility that there is a pressing matter at hand that you don’t know about?


Upon Reading James Woods ‘Becoming Them’

repost from a comment on the Thoughtful Blogger:

The most memorable elements of this piece were the images of the father listening to his classical music on Sundays and the excerpt from Lydia Davis’s ‘How Shall I mourn them’. James Woods is an excellent writer. What is interesting to me is how the excerpt, not Woods writing, is what has got me thinking and returning to this piece. I couldn’t remember who Woods was quoting, I had the poem stuck in my head, and it kept returning.

Each morning as a I take out my cold stick of butter and attempt to spread it over brittle toast, I think shall I leave the butter out all day to soften, like… But I can’t remember like who? So I have to login to the New Yorker and find the piece and now I see, it’s C.

But now that I know it seems not so important. What lingers is the following question:

I wonder about excerpts that overpower one’s own writing, should we use them?

This post is confused like my tenses.