31 December 2009

Let's Get Physical - Plan B

I thought with my exercise program my weight would drop below 200 pounds but alas here I am on the last day of the year and I am still right on 200 pounds. It does not help that as of last Saturday the arch on my right foot got really hurt. The left foot got some boil but that's skin level. For the right foot, I think some muscle or tendon, or whatever, is really banged up from all that pounding of the pavement. I also need a new pair of sneakers, as the one I'm using really wore away much at the heels. This Saturday will be exactly one week of rest, I cannot rest any more. Time for Plan B.

With the injured foot, I think I still can pedal. No pounding of the pavement there, so hopefully it should be OK. Of course, bicycling goes against my idea of simplicity in execution. Whereas with jogging I just need to put on some clothes, extra layers for the cold weather, a pair of shoes, perhaps even an iPod, bicycling will be more involved. Getting the bike out the door is one extra step. Helmet is needed - Step #2 right there. Air does leak from time to time, so I may lose some more time pumping the tires.

I actually spent some time this evening getting the bicycle into usable shape. The last time I used it was to attend my son's Field Day, back in May. On the way back, the left pedal fell off and I had to push the thing back. Even since then the bike just stood in the vestibule, taking up space and collecting dust. With Plan B in motion, I managed to put the pedal back on - the task is so much easier with the wrench of the proper width. Next I tried to pump the tires but I think I actually let the air out. The foot- and hand-pumps I have didn't work. Some Mechanical Engineer I am, cannot even get the tires of the bicycle pumped. Maybe the pumps are defective. I'll splurge tomorrow morning and spend the 75¢ at my local gas station. Rain or shine, I will be biking tomorrow!

30 December 2009

New Year Resolutions

Here are two of my New Year Resolutions, without words, can you guess what they are?

20 December 2009

Guess the Famous Movie Scene

Growing up in Viet Nam, even though my family was considered middle-class, I was taught to be frugal and make the most of what we had. I had enough toys to play with but I also made use of found objects. A neighbor gave me some wood blocks, probably leftover pieces from a carpentry task, and I played with them for so long the blocks became smooth. I also had small paper boxes for use as furniture and buildings. I don't recall ever throwing away toys or ignoring them after a few days of playing.

It pains me these days to see my son lose interest in his playthings so quickly. One week it is little green plastic soldiers, the next week it is building paper structures like Capitol Hill and Statue of Liberty. This week it's Thumb Wrestling Federation and its associated papery toys - masks, decals, belts, even a wrestling ring - but who knows what next week's favorite toy be. What to do with all the forgotten toys?

I don't watch too many movies but I try to catch a classic one every now and then. Or at least those that are cultural phenomenon or cult classic. In the photo above, I tried to re-create a famous ending scene. A shirtless man on his hands and knees pounding the floor. A woman sit on an animal that can pass for a horse. (I am not sure if the actual scene has the woman sitting on the "horse" or standing near the animal.) In the background, we have a famous statue somewhat titled to one side, somewhat hidden behind a mountain. Name the movie!

15 December 2009


Besides the idea of recycling, my other reason to like the High Line Park is that it is basically a footbridge. One can walk on the High Line from around 14th Street up to 20th Street totally unobstructed by traffic lights and vehicles. Footbridges are perfect for separating pedestrians and vehicular traffic. You go your way, drivers, and I will just go right over you. The above photograph is from my trip to Hong Kong in 2007. On a small island like Hong Kong, it is necessary to have footbridges otherwise traffic would be even worse. What I love about the Hong Kong footbridges is that they do not just cross over highways and roads, but connects to pedestrian plazas that extend from the buildings. You can walk a long distance on these pedestrian plazas, going from building to building and not having no chance of being run over by a car. The closest I see to these footbridge and ped plaza combo was the Winter Garden in Battery Park City and the former World Trade Center Plaza. The footbridge in that case would be the bridge crossing over the West Side Highway. With the bad traffic condition that New York City has, I think we can use many more footbridges, even pedestrian plazas, too.

13 December 2009

High Line Park

The High Line. An abandoned elevated railway converted to an elevated garden. It is a great example of recycling. When the High Line was first opened in June 2009, I wanted to visit it but the plan simply did not work out. The first time, as I walked west along 14th Street toward the park, I got a call from home about some fuse blow-out. I had to rush home to flip the switch back. The second time I had this idea that if the High Line intersects 14th Street then if I go west along 11th Street I would bump into the structure eventually. Not so. I hit the West Side Highway instead and walking east along some street north of 11th Street, a Bank Street, I believe, which eventually connected to 12th Street, did not do the job either. The sun already went down by the time I made the trip back so even though I was mere blocks from the High Line I could not see it. Unlike the rectangular grids of Midtown Manhattan, the streets of the Greenwich Villages do not necessarily run parallel to each other. Instead, they just turn and twist to fit into the triangular shape of the tip of Manhattan Island. For example, instead of running east-west, 4th Street at one point run north and intersect West 12th Street and others.

Finally, on a windy and cold day, -5 °C to be exact, I made it. Certainly not a day to be high up above the street. Thanks to the cold weather though, there were few people on the High Line. There was a wedding party, not surprisingly. Supposedly a few publicized proposal happened on the Line, so why not get photographed there too in wedding gown and all. I love the large benches but it was too cold to lay down on them. I especially love the supposedly movable benches. They have wheels that run on the remaining exposed tracks. For safety, they were immovable. I can easily envision a couple of friends clowning around these benches and eventually one get his fingers crushed between two benches.

The Line only goes up to 20th Street. There is much more to do, but funding is always in question, especially in a down economy like now. Do go check out the High Line and if you like it please donate money to the cause. It is easiest to go along 14th Street toward the West Side Highway. You can even stop by the Apple Store at 9th Avenue to check your email or update your status in your social network, free of charge.

The "poster" above was made with Posterino. Click on it to see the bigger version. I just threw the photos together randomly. Enjoy!