25 November 2016

CITYSTRIDES - WHAT MORE CAN A MAP-LOVER ASK FOR?

I love maps.  I sometimes spell words during my runs.  I started to spell the many Brooklyn neighborhoods but life got in the way.  At some point, I thought about how nice it would be to have all my runs/walks on one map.  Turns out there is such a tool and it's called CityStrides.  You connect your CityStrides account to Strava, MapMyRun, and Runkeeper then all your routes are in one map!  So wonderful!  Of course, in my case many of my carefully drawn routes are no longer recognizable because the many lines overlap but it's still a nice way to visualize one's activities.  I love the tool so much I actually update this blog after a multi-month hiatus!!!



10 April 2016

MARINE PARK IS ON THE MAP

I have good news and bad news.  Good news is I am still on this ambitious project of "mapping" every Brooklyn neighborhood by running and spelling their names, in that neighborhood.  Or somewhere close.  Just this weekend I finally completed "Marine Park".  The bad news is I took too long to do this Garmin web site finally got rid of Classic view so now any additional maps will look slightly different.  "Marine Park" is one such.  The lines are darker, which is fine, but luckily the underlying map is still the same.  Whew.  All the more reason I should hurry up and finish this before any more changes, whether with Garmin.com or with my own health.  You never know, one day you can be healthy and all, the next day you can no longer run.

For "Marine Park", I broke one of my rules about running.  I hate driving and when I go for a run, I absolutely don't want to drive somewhere just to run there.  But I have to be realistic now.  While I can certainly drive to Marine Park to do the run, it is just much faster when I drive.  And there is plenty of parking at the park, so I really have no excuse not to.  With this executive decision made, I plan to drive to Prospect Park etc some weekend day, really early in the morning for a better chance of finding a parking spot, and be done with those faraway places.  Let's hope the map will be filled soon!





10 January 2016

UNSET IN SUNSET PARK

Continuing my philosophy of "slow progress is better than no progress" today I resumed "writing" Sunset Park.  I thought I only had enough time for two lowercase letters, so "un" it was, i.e. Sunset still needs the uppercase S.  Below is the doctored image with "un" and "set" combined.  There was a second green marker to denote the start of today's walk, but I don't like those things so I left it hidden in the lower layer.  Only a trace of green shows in the combined image.  The area was desolate and it was getting dark, the rain was coming down again, so it was good that I didn't attempt to complete Sunset.  Any day now, any day now.  We seem to go to Costco once a month so if I don't finish this in January, by February it will be done!



03 January 2016

SET IN SUNSET PARK

What a great feeling it is once you are resolved to do something and make modifications to your plan to achieve the final outcome.  So I decided I would walk if I have to, instead of running, just to complete my run-mapping of Brooklyn.  Running is more interesting but not always optimal, like after a meal.  Just a few days ago I churned out "Slope", for Park Slope, after a brunch with the track club.  Today I was in the neighborhood of Sunset Park and had a little time for running.  Not enough to do the entire "Sunset Park", or even the word "Sunset", but that is not a problem.  I am already stitching together the map in Photoshop, no harm to do one syllable at a time, like "set" as in "Sunset".  "t" didn't come out a straight as it should but it's beyond my control.  I guess at different time of day the satellite can be uncooperative.  Perhaps when I stitch "set" together with the other syllables it won't look so bad.



02 January 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR - BROOKLYN RUN-MAPPING RETURNS

Happy New Year!  I didn't declare it but deep down I know I want to resume blogging.  There should be only so much Facebooking one can do.  Be more of a content producer, not just a mere Liker and Bait-Clicker.  Without much further ado, here's a topic close to my heart, running and spelling out the neighborhoods of Brooklyn!  I prefer to call it Run-Mapping!

I should have known better but as I was done with the areas close to where I live, things get more challenging.  I have this weird rule about running - no driving to the place to run.  In other words, I should not drive x miles out to some place just to run around.  I guess it has to do with my strong dislike of driving.  If I am to complete this run-mapping of Brooklyn nabes, sooner or later I'll have to drive to where I want to run.  Until such time, I'll make the most of my travel.

Late in December I ran to Marine Park just to spell "Park".  Marine Park is about 5 km from me so spelling the whole "Marine Park" was not possible time-wise.  Lately on these runs I have one or two phone apps to track my "writing".  At one time I even thought if not for this run-map project, I probably can retire my Garmin GPS watch.  The apps work the same way with regards to pause and resume, so I can use them to virtually cut through city blocks to make letters like K and R with their pesky diagonal lines.  When they actually work as they are supposed to, that is.  On the "Park" run, they didn't.  Both Strava and MapMyFitness totally miss the P and then went crazy the rest of the run.  Luckily, I did have the trusty Garmin, even though the lack of a rectangular city grid threw me off my course.  As shown below, "Pa" is a big disappointment, even to a non-perfectionist like me.  The "a" is too far away from its neighbors and "r" looks too much like an "n".  I should have done my usual virtual trespassing in making the diagonal lines in "k".  I use the picture in the map anyway but deep down I know I will re-run that route to make a better word.

Even though I am a member of the Prospect Park Track Club, I don't go to Prospect Park that much.  Living far south almost in Coney Island, it's a bit of a trip for me.  But I do go there from time to time and I should take advantage of those trips to finally add Park Slope and neighbors to my map.

On New Year's Day, I volunteered as a backup time-keeper for the Club's Harry Handicap race, held in Prospect Park.  After the race, I had some food and was in no shape to run so I did the next best thing to spell out "Slope" - I walked.  It was not as interesting as running but for these far-flung places I just have to make the best of my time.  Again, MapMyFitness screwed up but Garmin Forerunner again saved the day.  I gladly used the picture in the big map although there are many more street blocks I need to capture to make the map truly continuous.

Given the annoying changes Garmin make to its web site, I should hurry up and run more neighborhoods sooner before some changes render my techniques useless.  Wish me luck! 





29 November 2015

I HATE DRIVING

Recently I found out belatedly that, back in September, there was a Car-Free Day.  Or something to that extent.  Maybe it was Use-The-Car-As-Little-As-Possible Day.  Might as well that I didn't know about it, because with my current job I wouldn't be able to participate anyway.

In all my years of holding a job, I was lucky to be able to do so with taking public transportation, mostly.  Sure, going to Jersey City tacked on at least an additional 25 minutes, or more when the PATH misbehaves, but still I didn't have to watch out for other drivers or look for parking once I got to work.  Nowadays I spent at least 2.5 hours on the road, that's just getting to work and back.  Some days I may have to visit three different client sites, no fun.  Driving itself is tiresome but parking is not much better.  I used to think that only busy areas like Midtown Manhattan, or maybe the entire Manhattan, and some commercial districts, have severe problems with parking.  But no, you can be out in the boondocks of western Long Island and there is still a shortage of parking space.  Over the few months that I've been a car-commuting worker, I came up with a few workarounds to soften the blow.  Mostly with driving, parking not so much.

  • Don't stick to just one route.  Easy said than done in some scenarios, but always worthwhile to explore.  I used to think the Cross Island Parkway is a great alternative to the Van Wyck Expressway, northbound anyway, because I took the CIP occasionally on weekends.  Now that I need it during rush hours, fuhgeddaboutit!  Even as early as 6 A.M. there would be cars heading to the Bronx via the CIP.  It took me many tries but eventually I found a great local route that mostly runs along the CIP and not have to deal with the lousy traffic.  It may not be faster but it sure is headache-free.
  • Let technology work for you.  It can be low-tech like the radio and its traffic report, or high-tech like Google Map and Waze.  I get a great kick out of knowing ahead where the traffic jam ends and re-enter the highway just beyond the jam.  It does not always work, but it's a wonderful feeling when it does.
  • Along the same note, use technology to find alternate routes.  The new route does not have to replace the old one completely, just to avoid some sucky section is good enough.  I used to hate the part of the Conduit Avenue North around 135th Avenue or 140th Street where the right lane forces a right turn.  One day I decided to see where the right turn would lead me and lo and behold while you'll be a bit off-target from your destination traffic is much better than going through the busy intersection of the Van Wyck and the Belt.  While some days I don't mind going slowly with traffic while my favorite podcast is on, most of the time I just want to quickly be done with the car trip.  Having the optimal route is the way to get that done soonest.
  • I don't know how I used to do it with paper maps but turn-by-turn driving direction is a wonderful thing.  Especially when you go to an unfamiliar destination.  Most of the time the street signs are tiny and useless.  By the time you read what it says, with the jerk behind you honking madly, you already missed the turn and have to somehow loop back.  Note that I didn't say make a U-turn.  I absolutely hate it when drivers make a U-turn on a narrow street.
  • Remember I said for parking I found no solace?  It's a matter of luck.  Or if you don't mind making crazy U-turns.  One thing I found out is, if you are like me and not mind walking long distances, sometimes there are residential area near your destination that you can park at.  Of course I've come across some towns that have local regulations forbidding street parking, like between 9 AM and 6 PM, but most of the time free parking can be had a few blocks away.  Again, you can use Google Maps or the like to scope out the area before you get there.  Usually an overhead view of the area is enough for me, but maybe you can go full-blown and use Street Maps and such.
I am no Traffic Sam, as I know just a tiny portion of the big NYC metro, but if any of these tips help someone saves a little time or a few drops of gasoline, then I am happy.