Monday, July 28, 2008

Found a Fir Tree: deal with it.

I found a fir tree in the city.

Weak, Manhattan. Is this the best you can do?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Silly People

One of the fun things about delivering packages all day is getting to go inside the various buildings. It's like a tour of "things you could have done with your life." Oh, look: an architect. Or, what's this here? A businessman.

It's just interesting to see people in their natural habitat, doing things that I'll almost certainly never do. For instance, did you know there was a New York State fashion school? It's on W. 27, or somewhere down there. --An actual state-funded school for fashion. The Fashion Institute of Technology. --No joke.

The other crazy thing about the different buildings is the way they label the floors. I remember reading in one of those Feynman memoirs from way back when about how some of the buildings in New York don't label floor 13. This was old time Feynman memories, from before WWII, I think, so I always assumed that that kind of superstitious nonsense was a relic from the past.

But it isn't. The first time I saw an elevator go from floor 12, to 12A, to 14, I thought: ha, that's funny, they must've forgotten to change the label on the elevator, just like in the Feynman books. But then I saw it again, and again, and again. --All over town. Sometimes the floors go from 12 to 14. Or sometimes floor 13 is labeled 12A. This is really funny to me, because there isn't really any excuse for it. It's not as if they can say: "Oh, when this building was built people were more superstitious." Because all they would have to do is change the label.

I want to find somebody I can shake by the collar and say: Wake up! Floor thirteen still exists, dummy. You just aren't calling it 13.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

pillars of the community: neighborhood bikes

Whenever I'm out and about, there are three things I check out, in the following order:

1, Bicycles
2, Women
3, Dogs

Although there are some beautiful women in Manhattan, it might be a little creepy to go around taking peoples pictures and posting them on the internet. And, anyway, since this is mostly a blog about cycling, in the spirit of number one, here are some bicycles I've notice parked around the 'hood.

I love how pizzas are delivered by bicycle around here. The whole idea of a utility bike is somehow just very civilized. What you see here with the modified Wald baskets (I think,) is pretty typical. These bikes are parked outside a pizza joint on 110th and Amsterdam.


This guy is something of a neighborhood stalwart. It's been parked on 112th and Broadway (in front of the Seinfeld restaurant) since I've been in NY. Notice how only the front wheel is locked up with a crappy cable lock. Somehow nobody has stolen it yet. It's there literally all the time. I think so, anyway. I don't sit around watching it for 24 hrs. a day or anything. I can't help but wonder if it isn't some sociology study by some Columbia kids or something.
I have to say I'm a little underwhelmed by the allegedly cutthroat NY bike thieves. Some crafty bike thief could put a track wheel on this, call it vintage, and make a tidy sum on craigslist.

This bike is a little out of place in the neighborhood. It was parked like this on Broadway pretty much all day today. I don't know what the story is here. I don't think there's a velodrome nearby. Maybe the owner just wanted to take his shirt off and get a tan.


Contrast fancy pants up there with this bike on 112th. Abandoned?

It would seem so. But at any rate still locked up. Everything but the rear wheel, at least. For some reason no one has stolen that.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

the working cyclist

I haven't posted here in a month or two, which is too long. I was busy moving across the continent is all. But anyway I'm in New York now and I want to chronicle if anything interesting happens.

I got a job as a messenger last week. --Everyone I've told has been surprised. How did you do that, you don't even know your way around? And it's true, I don't know my way around, but I didn't tell the courier company that. I think they just needed bodies. I mean, I walked in and got hired the same day. Also I don't think it pays that much. Not to mention it's dangerous.

And after a week and a half now I feel I'm finding a bit of a groove. Navigating my way around a little better and learning tricks to save time. Today I had "direct rush." from somewhere around W 25 or so to 161 6th Ave. I knocked it out right away, and when the dispatcher called to give me another delivery going that way he was surprised that I had already dropped the first one off and said something like "man, you're good." --So that was kind of nice.

I admit I was a bit naive when I first started. I would do things like figure out which streets were one-way east, and which were one-way west, and then I'd circle the block to make deliveries. Yeah, that M.O. lasted about two days. --You have to sometimes go the wrong way, or you'd never get anything done. It's not a first option, but it can be perfectly safe, as long as you don't forget that you're going the wrong way.
The cops here don't give a rip, either. You can run red lights all day long, they don't care. In Portland, the police have nothing to do, so they waste time harassing cyclists. If you run a red light, the whole town would have a fit. There would be a huge discussion on, or the shift email list. Don't believe me? Here's an example. In Manhattan, the police have bigger fish to fry. --I don't mean to talk trash about Portland. I love Portland, but that's just the way things are.

Also, for a while I was trying to imitate a NY accent. --Just for fun. But then today some guy said, "Where's your accent from? Is that Polish?" I think from now on I'll just talk like a normal Oregonian.