30 November 2012


In Vietnamese, there is a phrase "Nhà giàu đứt tay, ăn mày đổ ruột", which means "the rich suffers a cut on the hand, like the poor taking a knife stab in the stomach".  It is all relative, is it not?  Something that may be a big deal to someone can be so insignificant to another.

In developed nations like the U.S., THE first-world, there are problems which are sometimes considered serious, but are actually pretty trivial.  Like forgetting to TiVo your favorite TV show.  Or having to get out of the car to knock on your date's door because when you called her on the cell phone she did not answer the call.  Or running out of topic to write about for your wildly popular blog.  In most places in the Third-World, people don't have enough to eat or no places to live.  Even in the First-Worlds, there are homeless people with more urgent problems.  Don't forget people affected by natural disasters, too.

Although I've lived in the U.S. for over thirty years, I am glad I don't have first-world problems.  Or at least I don't make a big deal when I have them.  Having grown up in Viet Nam, with a few years under Communist rule, then almost a year in the refugee camps of Indonesia, I know what it is like not to have much possession.  Or to have just the bare minimum to get by.  Nope, no First-World Problems for me here.  I already come up with a blog post, did I not?

By the way, note my frequent use of the hyphen.  I think it should be used more often.  It helps connect words better.  Take "first world problem".  So there are underdeveloped nations that are considered the Third Word, backward places where there are many poor people.  Then you also have the First World, developed nations that boasts creature comfort like indoor plumbing, high speed Internet access, etc.  "First world problems" are problems found in the First World, no?  But can it also mean a worldwide problem that ranks first?  The hyphen helps keep "first" and "world" together.  It may be fun to interpret "nowhere" as "now here" but for clarity purpose I think the hyphen should be used more often.

29 November 2012


Argh, my first brush with haiku in a while and I messed up with the meters.  It's supposed to be 5-7-5.  I did it with 7-5-7 instead.  There may be some haiku variation out there that dictates 7-5-7, but I like to adhere to the rules when I can.  Here's the more conforming version:

Marine Park today
Same as pre-Sandy, nearby
Salt Marsh's open, sweet! 


Marine Park after Sandy?
The same, but nearby
Salt Marsh Trail is open, sweet!

Continuing my tardy re-visits to places I ran to in the past, this morning's destination was Marine Park, the park itself, not the area.  I entered the park's outer path around Avenue T but only went a quarter of the way and did not make a full loop of the park.  I did not notice anything unusual about the park.  It's been over a month since Sandy so perhaps whatever uprooted trees were already dismembered and removed.  Every time I visited Marine Park I thought of the Salt Marsh across Avenue U.  February 2009 was the last time I got inside the marsh's nature trail.  I had some time to kill when the women were shopping at nearby Kings Plaza.  I was with my son, nephew, and a niece.  It was nice to walk on the wide path and take detour into the tall reed-grass.  But kids being what they were, they did not want to stay long.
My second and last visit to the Salt Marsh Trail, in February 2009, before it was closed for restoration.

Late 2009 when I decided to resume having a more active life style, through running etc, one day I rode the bike to the marsh, only to be disappointed that it was closed until who-knows-when.  Back then I did not think of running that far and had to use the bicycle to go the approximately 12-km round trip.  Over the years, I kept re-visiting the marsh in hope that the restoration would be   done, but only to be disappointed time and again.  Until today!

No Trespassing!  Argh!
The Salt Marsh Trail is open!  That open gate, what a welcoming sign!  My plan was to run 5 km out then head back, but with the trail open, what's another kilometer or two?  I made a big loop of the trail, going clockwise.  It was about 8 in the morning and there was only a male dog-walker and a Chinese couple on the trail.  The trail did not look too different from what my feeble memory can recall.  I noticed that there was no other exit from the trail.  There was a fenced-off area, that's probably the path that would lead to Lenape Playground, what I think of as Big Snake Playground.  Near the southern edge, where the trail meets the water of Jamaica Bay, there was a dirt path leading toward the Belt Parkway.  Some day on a long run I'll take that route and see what's out there.

Open Sesame Chicken!

The long and winding road.
The buildings in the distance reminds you that you are still in a big city.
There are few trees in the salt marsh, but what few there were some were knocked down by Sandy.  Or maybe this happened before Sandy.  Was anyone around to hear the trees make sounds when they fell?
No extra raised middle section on the bench means that the area is not frequented by people who like to sleep on the bench.

A few words about the haiku poem that introduces the blog post.  It's been a while since I dabble with haiku so I had to re-acquaint the rules.  There should be three lines, seven syllables on the first, five on the second, and seven again on the last.  There should be a reference to time, ideally a month name or season name, but I got by with "after Sandy".  There should be a "cut", a contrast of images, which I think I finagled by using "sweet" and "salt" in the same sentence.  Would you like to see more haikus on this blog?  Or did my lousy haiku already made you change your mind about Japanese food for the rest of the year?

28 November 2012


Some thirty-three years ago when I first arrived in the U.S., I stayed at an uncle's home in the Brighton Beach area.  It was one subway stop away from the Sheepshead Bay station of whatever train it was at the time, maybe the D.  I was in the area for a very short time as my family soon got our own apartment in the Kingsbridge area of the Bronx.  Somehow the Chinese transliteration of Sheepshead Bay, "羊头湾", which to me really means "Goat's Head Bay", got stuck in my head.  It annoys me much that the Chinese has the same character for goat, the animal with pointy horns and a goatee (duh!), raised mostly for milk, and sheep, the animal with raised mostly for wool, but I digress.

After the Bronx, I moved around a few times but only with the most recent move that I was close to Sheepshead Bay, namely, Bath Beach, which is not to be confused with Bensonhurst.  Still, I did not visit Sheepshead Bay area that often, if at all.  Only last year when my son started to attend school at Bay Academy, right off the Bay itself, that I realized that there was an actual body of water called Sheepshead Bay.  I guess I am too aware of land-fill and such, so that place names sometimes make no sense.  Like how Bath Beach used to have a beach -- it is where the Belt Parkway now exists.  Not so with Sheepshead Bay.  There is still a bay there.  And a lovely foot-bridge traversing it, too.

I recently came across an article at Sheepshead Bites, http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2012/11/in-aftermath-of-sandy-footbridge-gets-much-needed-repairs, and was saddened to see photos of the damage Hurricane Sandy did to the foot-bridge.  I haven't been to the area since the hurricane's visit and made the trip this morning.  I don't know if any repairs have been made but the bridge was still closed.  There were at least two large gaps in the railing.  I was short on time so I only took photos from the Bay Academy side and not from the Manhattan Beach side.

There is a large gap on the western rail.
The bridge is not open to the public.  Orange cones and yellow tape block off the ramp and there is a wooden wall, with a door for officials to go through.
A view of the foot-bridge from the eastern side, more missing railing.  I may be wrong, but I think those horizontal beams close to the water was added after the hurricane.
It's interesting that I just read a blog post by TOTA about feral burros in Oatman, Arizona hanging around tourist hotspots to beg for food.  We don't have such exotic animals in Brooklyn, but these swans did the same thing.  As I approached the fence at the waterfront, they swam over half expecting some food.  I was so jealous of them fowls, just gracefully gliding over the cold water without a care in the world, or at least it appeared so.
This photo has little to do with the bay itself, other than name of the subway station, but it has much to do with a goal which, as a slow long-distance runner, I most likely will never achieve.

26 November 2012


For today's morning run, I ran past Home Depot down Cropsey Avenue to Neptune Avenue then ran along the water to get to Kaiser Park.  It was the first time I visited the area since Hurricane Sandy's visit.  As expected, there were many damaged cars with scribble about Geico.  Some time after the hurricane, I heard about sink holes at Mark Twain Middle School.  Then just yesterday my son told me that his school's gym was not usable because the floor was damaged, probably from the storm surge.  I wondered how the track at Kaiser Park fare.  So off I went this morning to find out.

This gas station near West 20th Street must be part of the reason Mayor Bloomberg extended the gas ration.    Many gas stations did not have gas to sell, but this one, right on the edge of Coney Creek, was probably flooded and sustained irreparable water damage.
Only part of the fence remains on this piece of land, mere steps from the shuttered gas station.  Probably a combination of flood water loosening the fence's foundation and high wind/wave.  I don't recall seeing a tree here so that must be a sink hole in the foreground.
This clinic of the Coney Island Hospital is no longer open to service its patients.  A sign on the closed door reads "All medical patients are being referred to Kings County Hospital located at 451 Clarkson Avenue, Brooklyn... and Woodhull Medical Center located at 760 Broadway, Brooklyn..."
A peek inside the Green Thumb Garden adjacent to Mark Twain Middle School.  However, I noticed that there was no longer a Green Thumb sign on the gate.  Maybe the wind blew the sign away, or maybe it is not a Green Thumb site any more.
Some clean-up already happened and fallen tree limbs removed, but this one at the edge of Mark Twain still rested on the fence.
Another section of the Mark Twain fence breached by a fallen tree.  I guess it's a good thing that the tree did not fall the other way to hit the school.
I am happy to report that the track at Kaiser Park appears undamaged.  There was a temporary fence to block off an entrance to the track but it was not standing at the time.  Perhaps the wind knocked it down, or people simply broke into the track to use it.
Not a sink hole, just some square hole that lost its cover?  Note the debris in the background, which may be dangerous if there are a few hundred people on the track, but to a lone runner, easy obstacle to bypass.
Another down tree, in the area that I, perhaps incorrectly, think of a the western tip of Kaiser Park.  In the warm months, this area is overrun with weeds and such.  The tree probably provided cover from the sky, so the area is somewhat desolate.  Now sand covers most of the ground.  Teams of volunteers cleared the sand off the Riegelman Boardwalk but I wonder if the Parks Department will ever clear all that sand.  Perhaps this is how this piece of land will be like for the next few hundred years...
It took me a few minutes to realize that the downed fence in the foreground, along with the standing piece in the background, used to form the entrance to area in the photo before.  Some weed still stand, but in the warm months there  was much more, so that the path was mostly obscured.
To the left of the photo, in the warm months, usually on Wednesday you can find nervous new drivers sitting in cars, in  a queue, waiting for their road tests.
Back at Home Depot, there is a ton of garbage outside the gate to the trail that goes half-way around the store.  Not much difference, since the trail is always padlocked at this end anyway.

25 November 2012


I have an admission to make that won't get me any praises from the fine folks over at The Story of Stuff.  I love to get swags, or souvenir stuff, from the road races I participate in.  With a typical race, you get at least a cotton T-shirt.  It gets nicer if you get a tech shirt, one of them hi-tech shirt that wicks away the sweat as you run so that by the end of the race you are relatively dry.  A long-sleeve tech shirt, like that from the Brooklyn Marathon, is even better!  If it's a fat-ass run, i.e. no registration fee, no official time, no water support along the course etc, I don't expect any tangible memento.  But if I pay a load of money, I hope to at least get something to possess out of the experience.

I discovered quickly though that I have too many T-shirts, tech or otherwise.  Still, I take them when they are offered to me.  Some people I know already achieved a higher level of enlightenment and actually refuse the shirts, or whatever swag.  On a few occasions, at races where I helped out as a volunteer, shirt supply went out quickly, or never arrived in the first place, so I got no tangible souvenir from those races, but I felt no loss.  I am not 100% enlightened, but I am getting there.

Race officials know this over-abundance and some try to do something different.  Like the combo hat-neck-warmer (HNW) of the PPTC Turkey Trot a few days ago.  One size fits all, unlike the T-shirt, with which I often see in social media women complain about not having small sizes for them.  Their physically larger male partners/spouses end up with the XL shirts.

Below are the four ways I plan to use the HNW.  With the pull-string completely drawn to seal off one end, you can use it as a hat.  Open the pull-string and pull it down and you can catch some sleep in a bright room.  Pull it down some more to reveal your eyes and you can pull a bank heist to raise enough fund to enter a certain five-borough marathon.  Lastly, aaaahhh, warm and toasty around your neck, it's a neck-warmer!

How do you plan to use your swag from the PPTC Turkey Trot?

22 November 2012


Even though I support what Transportation Alternatives does, i.e. finding alternatives to automobiles as the mean to travel or transport bodies and objects, mostly via bicycles,  I myself haven't been much of a cyclist.  My jobs were never close enough to home and cycling would be more expensive both in terms of time and money.  I was already taking public transportation to work so at least I was not contributing to the problem of air pollution etc.  When I ride the bicycle, it was mostly for cross-training to complement my running.

For the past two days, I have volunteer work close enough to home so I took the chance to bike to work.  Yesterday the work was at Jack Rabbit Sports in Park Slope, to help the Prospect Park Track Club with bib distribution for the popular Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.  It was three days since Brooklyn Marathon and while I could have run the 7+ miles to get to Jack Rabbit, I would be all smelly for the next few hours unless I could somehow find a place to shower.  Not socially acceptable.  Cycling was the next best option, other than subway, which costs $2.25 each way and involves little exercising.

The bulk of the commute from my home to Jack Rabbit was on Ocean Parkway, a tree-lined boulevard with lanes for cars, bikes, and pedestrians.  The last time I rode on Ocean Parkway I was cut off by some car so it was not pleasant.  This time I left very early to take a really slow ride for the 12pm-6pm shift.  At Church Avenue I got off the Parkway, on the west side, and looked for Dahill Road, which I once ran along from near home to the other end at Greenwood Cemetery.  I easily found Dahill and connected to McDonald Avenue, which was not a great move, as there was no bike lane.  The reason I went on McDonald was that I can stop by the side of Prospect Expressway to take a photo of this foot-bridge over the Expressway.  I just love foot-bridges and this one in particular is elegant and beautiful.  Interestingly, all these times I did not know that Bishop Ford High School existed, until this past Monday at the bib distribution at Jack Rabbit near Union Square, that the school was a co-sponsor for the Turkey Trot.  Just by chance, after taking photo of the foot-bridge, I noticed that the high school was right across the street.

Foot-bridge near Bishop Ford High School.
Bishop Ford High School.
From the foot-bridge, I traveled mostly along Eighth Avenue to get to President Street and Seventh Avenue, which turned out to be a block or two past Jack Rabbit.  I was able to find a bike rack to lock the bike and went to work, not smelling too much from the lesser sweating.

When I left Jack Rabbit, it was a little past six and it was already dark.  I went to Prospect Park West and enjoyed a safe ride on the protected lane.  At 15th Street, I should have gone into the park but unwittingly turned into Prospect Park Southwest, which had no bike lane, just a wider parking lane.  It was a little scary, so at some point I turned right and got a little bit lost.  I found my way to go over Prospect Expressway but in looking for Ocean Parkway I overshot it and almost got to Coney Island Avenue.  Once I found Church Avenue again, I walked the bike to the start of the bike lane on Ocean Parkway and resumed my bike trip.  It was dark and cold, the lane was bumpy in places, so I couldn't go fast.  When the traffic light was against me, I stopped and dismounted to wait for the light to change.    I'm still getting used to prolonged sitting on the hard bicycle seat and welcome the occasional dismounts.

Today, I helped setup the finish chute and surrounding area for the Turkey Trot.  I had to be at the Oriental Pavilion in Prospect Park by 6 AM.  Left home at 5ish and again traveled along Ocean Parkway.  It was still dark but there was little vehicular traffic, so peaceful and quiet along the Parkway.  It was easier to get to Prospect Park once the bike lane on the Parkway ended.  I got to the Pavilion just as the organizers caravan of van and cars came to a stop.  Over the next few hours, I helped erect the finish chute, the finish arch and banner, time mat, crowd-control, and photographing.  There are over 200 photos at


Even though I mostly photographed runners wearing PPTC clothes, or costumed runners, I might have captured you if you ran in the race.

I started to head home around 11.  I went through Center Drive to get to West Drive and exited the park at its southwest corner.  I discovered the bike path that ran along the bridge to get to Fort Hamilton Parkway.  Last night I actually went up the pedestrian ramp and had to walk the bike along the bridge.  In daylight, it was easier to see what's where, and since I still remember my mistake from last night, I was able to get to Ocean Parkway quickly.

Each of the bike trip took between 45 minutes to an hour.  Sharing the road with cars was not as good as running on foot along some waterfront inaccessible to cars, but cycling got me where I needed to be faster without being smelly afterward.  It is a bit of a hassle to get the bike out of the shack in the backyard, make sure there's enough air in the tires, adjust the helmet-mounted rear-view mirror, lock the bike, unlock the bike, etc.  For today and yesterday, I saved a little money while burning lots of calories covering the 20 or so kilometers.  I can get used to commuting by bike, as long as it's time- and money-efficient.

20 November 2012


Today, for my almost-daily walk for Charity Miles, I went to Best Buy in Caesar's Bay to drop off a broken DVD player for recycling.  Best Buy staff are well-trained for receiving recycling materials.  Walking in the door, you need to tell the door person that you want to recycle the equipment and get a Recycle sticker, otherwise he may think you bring the thing in for return and there would be a different sticker.  You would then bring the old junk over to the service desk, which can be long sometimes but you can just leave your junk on some counter or the floor and alert a staff member.  That's it!  The old equipment will be properly recycled, somehow.  Got to trust someone somewhere, you know, you won't get anything done if you are skeptical about everyone and everything.  The trick is to walk straight out and not wander around, to avoid buying things you may end up regretting later.

Last time I visited Caesar's Bay (http://www.qaptainqwerty.com/2012/11/caesars-bay-and-waterfront-after.html) , Kohl's, Babies 'R Us, and Toys 'R Us were not open for business yet.  Today, I saw that Toys 'R Us had taken over the store near Best Buy to sell bikes, video games, etc.  The place was once a Strauss auto supply store, then became a seasonal store, like Halloween costumes in September or thereabout.  The main building for Toys 'R Us was still not open, but right in front of it, in the parking lot, they have built a large tent to be a temporary store.  A security guard told me that the tent was supposed to be open at 3 PM or 4 PM, definitely tomorrow.  It's the holiday season, the business needs to make a few quick bucks!  I know, it's all wrong the way people think of shopping when it comes to most holidays, but if the local business is alive, hopefully the locals can have employment, too.

Interestingly, on my way out of the parking lot to get home, I bumped into the Spanish interpreter I met on Election Day.  Actually, she recognized me and greeted me first, addressing me as a Mr. Lee, her usual way of talking, perhaps because she worked in a school before.  She lives not far from the Toy 'R Us on Flatbush Avenue near Kings Plaza but came to Caesar's Bay, with her mother, only to discover that Toys 'R Us here was closed.  The Flatbush store is right on the waterfront of Mill Basin so I wouldn't be surprised if it was damaged in the hurricane.  She made my day on Election Day by asking me, shortly after we first chatted, if I know who Chow Yun-Fat is.  Sure I know who he is, as I can be his stun double.  If you are seeing this, drop a note to say hello, Ms. Arias.

At the side of Best Buy, temporary brick-and-mortar store sells bikes, video games, etc. 
The main building is still not functional, but now there's a big tent in front of the store that will definitely be open for business on Wednesday, November 21.

19 November 2012


In other less joyful marathon news, last week I finally made the trip to the NYRR office to pick up the medal for the cancelled NYC Marathon 2012.  I know, I know, I didn't run it, why take it?  But I heard about it being given out, so I might as well take it.  There was still no words about refund of registration fees, still so at the time of this writing, so might as well get the most out of the $216 I already spent.  Maybe I can eBay it some day to recuperate part of the $216.  Or maybe I'll just put it next to the 2011 Go! St. Louis Marathon medal.  You may recall that I did not get to run the full marathon in St. Louis because the weather was deemed too hot and the marathon course was closed a few hours in.  I ended up running a half-marathon with a lousy time because I lost some time asking officials for confirmation.  At the finisher tent, I asked for a full-marathon medal because I thought registration fee for the full was more than the half.  I would never show the St. Louis medal without telling its history and same thing for the NYCM.

When did the new NYRR logo make its debut?  Wouldn't 2012 be the first time it appears on a marathon medal?

18 November 2012


After the cancellation of the NYC Marathon, I definitely looked forward to the Brooklyn Marathon, scheduled for November 18, two weeks after the NYC one, in Prospect Park.  I ran it today and made some mistakes that I believe prevented me from reaching a new personal record.

As usual, the night before the big day I set aside clothes, socks, gloves, Gu's, etc.  I left the house two hours before the 8:30 AM start time but lost some time because I did not know that Wild Bagels across from P.S. 97 did not open early on Sundays, i.e. not around 6:30 AM.  I ended up getting my bagel and coffee from Dunkin, not that further away but it took time to walk to two different places.  I was hoping to have a repeat of the Staten Island Half Marathon, i.e. by having breakfast before the race.  As feared, the MTA had disruptions and the F train, perhaps others, would not go near Prospect Park.  I could have made a transfer from the D to some other line but instead I took the D to Prospect Avenue and made the long walk from Fourth Avenue to Prospect Park West.  After emptying my bowels and again emptying my bladder, I got into the short corral just in time for to hear the National Anthem performed.  After the anthem, I held back to let other runners pass me to wait for my Garmin to pick up satellite signal, then off I went.  I did not stretch before the race!  Argghhh!

On the question "Should race shirts be worn on the day of the race?" I am all for it.  Some old-school people believe that it's simply wrong to do so, just because you haven't earned it yet.  Once you run it, then you can wear it.  For me, it's good for the spectators to know what's going on.  It's also good for the organizers and sponsors.  So I wore the shirt for the 2012 Brooklyn Marathon, which features white letters on a dark green background and is easier on the eyes than last year's, which had black letters on dark blue background.  With most races, I proudly wear the singlet for Prospect Park Track Club, but it was cold and I didn't have any other PPTC piece of clothes.  I had a Yonkers Marathon (short-sleeved) on the inside and the long-sleeved 2012 Brooklyn Marathon on the outside, and shorts for the lower half.  I used baggage service to put away a hoodie and a pants.  Running with fewer clothes should have helped me dissipate heat better, but I think if I had the PPTC singlet on the outside I would have gotten more cheers from other PPTC members.  Instead, I only got encouragement from some members that know me, which is not that many as I'm new to the club.  No stretching aside, I could have used the extra cheer.

A big part of the Brooklyn Marathon consists of six times around the big loop.  I should have brought at least six packs of Gu's, but somehow I only had five, a fact I discovered too late, at the beginning of the sixth trip around the big loop.  Last year I think I had at least 8 packs.  Maybe I dropped a pack or maybe I actually brought along only five packs.  After realizing the omission, I soldiered on and only stopped to walk at the west water station.  Before that I stopped to walk at every mile marker.  The strategy of walking a bit after every mile worked in Yonkers, but then again in Yonkers I also had a half-marathon finisher, some total stranger who I struck a conversation with, paced me for a few miles.  Could it be Yonkers is flatter compared to Prospect Park?  Yonkers' course included only two loops, so even though it was hilly you only had to run the hills twice.  With Prospect Park, there was only one big hill but the runners have to surmount it six times.  But then again, I finished the 2011 Brooklyn race in 5:08 and completed this year's Yonkers race in 5:10.

According to my Garmin GPS watch, I finished the 2012 Brooklyn Marathon in 5:11.  I was really hoping to have sub-5 marathon, but I instead I had a worst finish-time, not counting the two NYC Marathons in the 1990s (6+ hours, yike!).  Oh well.  Maybe I didn't train enough, what with the few days after Hurricane Sandy visited I didn't run at all.  There are always future marathons!

The front of the medal for the 2012 Brooklyn Marathon features fireworks over the Brooklyn Bridge.  Note the holes on the bridge's necklace, i.e. cables.
On the back of the medal, in the lower half, there is a circuit board and a button.  Press the button and the bridge's necklace blinks!  Cool, blinking bling!

16 November 2012


Today I had a little time to volunteer in Coney Island.  Coney Recovers' Facebook page says volunteers should be at MCU Park 9 AM sharp so I was there some 15 minutes before that time, but when 9 AM rolled around and I asked a volunteer coordinator she told me to wait a few minutes.  After what seemed to be a long time, a group of New York Cares volunteers came so I approached them and then walked in with the group, even donned their orange jacket, for the duration of the work.  Volunteer work is volunteer work, it does not matter to me really, as long as I get some work done.  Another volunteer group present was America Corps NCCC and some other groups joined later on, one from an Intermediate School, I believe.  Together we gave out water, instant noodles, hand warmers, cleaning supplies etc.  I was at the table to give out water.  All the residents patiently waited in the long line in the cold.  Most came prepared with a grocery cart while some came up with only big, black plastic bags.  It was nice to know that some people refused the water because they already had what they need from earlier distribution.

In other news, maybe it's true that the media only reports bad news.  So we saw photos of people lining up with jerry cans to buy gasoline for their disabled automobiles.  Now that the crisis is over, no news about it?  On my way to the volunteer site this morning, this is what I saw at the corner of Cropsey and Neptune.  Look ma, no lines!  Alert the media!

15 November 2012


For this morning's run, I re-visited the Riegelmann Boardwalk, better known as Coney Island Boardwalk.  It was the first time I ran a section of the Boardwalk since Hurricane Sandy's visit.  I'm happy to report that the C.I. Boardwalk is mostly intact.  I ran as far east as past Tatiana Restaurant then back west past MCU Park, so I didn't cover the entire Boardwalk, but what I saw was promising.  Some places, perhaps without local businesses' push, still had a layer of sand, but in most places the sand was gone.  The fishing pier on the west side was closed to the public because of some missing boards, perhaps a missing rail section too.  Past MCU Park there were some gaps on the floor, but then again the Boardwalk is old, maybe those gaps were there before the hurricane arrived.  Overall, the Riegelmann Boardwalk fared pretty well during Hurricane Sandy's visit.

Around Tatiana Restaurant the Boardwalk was clear of sand.

Around the hand-ball court, this is the more typical view - lots of sand on the Boardwalk.

Fishing pier is now off-limit.

About midway out into the water, the fishing pier has some loose boards, maybe a missing fence section, too.

Definitely not part of the Boardwalk, but I have a soft spot for public libraries so this image of the Coney Island Branch of the BPL is included.  Its doors were perhaps damaged by water and are now replaced by a wooden board.

14 November 2012


Once the 2012 NYC Marathon was cancelled, most runners immediately thought of other marathons to sign-up for so as put all that training to good use.  Some 3,000 took up the extra spots created in Philadelphia, others signed up with Richmond, VA or Harrisburg, PA to get their fix.  I wish I have the extra money for the trip out of town, motel room, etc plus marathon registration, but I don't.  Luckily, back in February I already signed up for the Brooklyn Marathon.  I ran the inaugural Brooklyn Marathon last year and like its size and simplicity.  Just a few hundred runners in size, it took no time to cross the starting line.  Sure the course was a few loops of Prospect Park but it was the first year, maybe things will change down the road.  For 2012, the race is set for November 18, or this coming Sunday, just two weeks after the cancelled NYC Marathon.

For the disappointed refugees of the NYC Marathon, the Brooklyn Marathon tried to get expanded but the request was denied.  Prospect Park was already used to store equipments and such related to the recovery effort from Hurricane Sandy.  Naturally, people who were hoping to get into the Brooklyn Marathon wait-list were disappointed, but at least they have credits for future race with NYCRUNS.  Life is full of chances.  I'm still counting on the very slim chance that I'll get some money back from the  cancelled NYC Marathon.  For now, I still have Brooklyn...

Casablanca, anyone?

13 November 2012


The Belt Parkway Waterfront is one of my favorite places to run.  I would run from home to Caesar's Bay then toward the Verrazano Bridge, along the water with no interference from vehicular traffic.  The terrain is mostly flat so most of the time I would traverse the foot-bridge near Bay 16th Street, for a little hill-training.  Near where the path splits into pedestrians and cyclists', I would go up the steps to Bay 8th Street, again for hill-training.  Most of the time I would go past the first set of bench, after the split, for a total of about 10 km round-trip.  For long runs I would go as far as Owl's Head Pier.  Years ago, I used to run to Owl's Head then take the bus back but in recent years I can go out and back on foot only.

Today was the first time I ran along the Belt Parkway Waterfront since Hurricane Sandy's visit.  Days ago, driving on the Belt I could see that some sections of the metal fence were no longer there.  Today I got a close-up of the damage, which was extensive.  I suppose the wave, water, and wind at some point broke the fence sections and left the fence all mangled.  After the hurricane, park personnel would arrive with the proper tools to separate the damaged pieces.  Who knows, maybe the hurricane actually snapped the sections off the ground.  It was a powerful storm, a superstorm.  No wonder the Verrazano Festival, set to run along the very same path and scheduled for November 11, did not happen.  Not only the fence missing a few sections, the surface of the road was broken in many places, too.  "Collapsed" is the better word to describe some of the road sections.  The foot-bridge is closed off and I had to duck under it to get to the other side.  Maybe the bridge was not inspected yet so it's safer to fence it off.

Below are just some of the photos I took.  Follow the link to see the whole set of photos.


12 November 2012



With humor, like with many other things in life, timing is critical.  Make a joke about something that happened two weeks ago and nobody may get the joke, as opposed to something that happened yesterday.  I learned the word AZOLE some weeks ago in a Scrabble game and instantly thought of a certain anatomical part.  I even remarked to my opponent the use of the word when one is cut off by another motorist.

A few weeks later, Hurricane Sandy hit New York and as a result, there were long lines for gasoline.  Naturally, some jerks tried to cut the line, as reported in a number of news outlet.  I finally got around to drawing the above cartoon and posted on Facebook for my friends' enjoyment and guess what?  This morning the gas station near me already had no lines and not because it ran out of gas.  I saw people pumping gas.  At another gas station on Fourth Avenue near Union Street, there was also no line and some people were happily pumping away.  I don't think it's the recently-implemented odd-and-even system working its magic either.  More likely more gas got to more stations and the scarcity ended.  In related news, New Jersey will end gas rationing starting Tuesday 6 AM.  At least my cartoon came out before that.

Any way, are we back to our wasteful way or will we use the cars only when necessary and use other modes of transportation, such as walking or cycling, when possible?
A sign of the past and never to be seen again, I hope.

10 November 2012


I spent most of today volunteering for Coney Recovers.  The night before I prepared a bag of school supplies to be donated and a separate backpack for me to carry throughout the event, with snacks and drink.  I made sure I knew where my steel-toed boots were, only to end up realizing that I wasn't wearing them midway to Coney Island.

In the morning, for the walk to Coney Island, I set the Charity Miles app on my Android phone to log the distance for Wounded Warriors.  I could have taken the subway, now that the trains run to the usual terminal in Coney, but I wanted to both save a little money and earn some extra money for WW, plus get a chance to win a T-shirrt.  Get more details on this latest Challenge at https://www.facebook.com/CharityMiles .  You most likely already missed the chance to walk for Saturday (unless you live on the West Coast) but you still can earn the extra 25¢, per mile, for Wounded Warriors.

I arrived at Tom's Restaurant with my own shovel and was assigned to work with a team going to Carey Garden building.  On the way out, I bumped into Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr., almost addressed him as Senator but realized in time by the time I shook his hands.  It was from his Facebook page that I found my way to the volunteer opportunity.

We started out working on cleaning the playground area of Carey Garden building.  I should have taken more photos of the setting before we worked, but at least I got the one below.  I think the water lifted the thick and heavy rubber tiles then the wave or wind just swept some sections under others.  We first swept away the debris, mostly leaves and twigs, then took many tiles apart in order to remove the pieces tucked underneath.  Did I say the pieces were heavy?  I know the wind and water moved many things, like gigantic trees and vehicles, but it was still amazing to think how these tiles were moved.  Eventually we got the pieces as even as humanly possible, using just team-work and hand-tools.  Silly me I thought I could just walk up the block to buy a sandwich for lunch.  No stores were opened.  There were two supermarkets across the playground but one was shuttered while the other, while with the gate up, was all dark inside and with a ladder leaning against the door.  I ended up accepting an apple from a fellow volunteer and subsisted on a rice crispy and a 100-calory bag of cookies.  After lunch we picked up litter in the parking lot and in the shrubs.  Lastly, we pulled the heavy bags of garbage and such to the sidewalk for an NYCHA truck to pick up, or to the Dumpster.  To my surprise, when I signed out I was given a Luna Park ticket equivalent to a 4-hour wrist-band.  Curiously, even though I registered online Saturday evening, the registration desk could not find my name in their database.  Maybe the records were not synced yet.

It was good to be able to help a small part of Coney Island get back to normal.  I look forward to spending a few more days next week with Coney Recovers.  To volunteer, check http://coneyrecovers.org/volunteer