25 February 2013


Inaugural this, inaugural that.  NYCRuns is on a roll, first with the Brooklyn Marathon in 2011, then yesterday (Sunday 24 February 2013) with the Inaugural Central Park Marathon and Half-Marathon.  I ran in the Brooklyn Marathon, but for the Central Park race I played a small role in supporting the runners.  Some photos of the volunteers at the Finishers Village and some special runners.  More photos can be found at


Bag check, just drop them bags here then pick them up after you cross the finish line, mere meters away and visible on the right in the background.
It was a beautiful day to run, but a cup of hot chocolate still hit the spot.
Amber poured another cup of hot chocolate as Laura looked on.
Flavia handed out a juicy and tempting apple.
Mike kept the park clean.
Tina kept the water flowing.
Bagels of many flavors were to be had, but blueberry was a favorite to many runners.
We aimed to collect every water cup, every Gu packet, anything discarded by the runners.
She was at the PPTC Cherry Tree 10-Miler, the NYRR Empire State Building Run-Up, and now at the NYCRuns Inaugural Central Park Marathon.
Last but not least, #311!

20 February 2013


I don't watch much TV so what little I watch I remember well.  One commercial that I remember well is that of Ryan Hall for AT&T cellular network, shown during the recent London Olympics.  Originally I thought it was a commercial for Audible.com, to show that Mr. Hall can go for a long run and have many audiobooks to keep him company, right?  Whatever.

For my run today I decided to give my Bose portable CD player a try.  It was late in the day so even if I wanted to I wouldn't do a long run.  My long run these days are at most 15K anyway, no match for Mr. Hall's cross-country journey.  I just went for a run along the waterfront near Cesar's Bay, along the Belt Parkway.

I sweat a lot and rarely carry earphones because I don't like to get them wet.  I don't need music to keep me motivated either.  But the idea of "reading" books while running is attractive.  I already do that with walking and dish-washing, or even floor-sweeping.  I used to have to use a portable DVD player to listen to audiobooks and the device is cumbersome to carry around.  The battery dies pretty quickly, too.  Thanks to Freecycling, I got myself a portable CD player, Bose brand.  Someone was moving to another state and saw my request.  It just happened that she came across this barely-used CD player.  I met her shortly later and gave her a "Thank-You" sonobe.

Size really matters as far as the CD player is concerned.  It fits smugly in my winter coat's chest pocket, even in my trousers front pocket.  It runs on AA batteries and they go a long way.  Green that I am, I am actually using rechargeable AA batteries, which cost a lot up front but can be reused over and over.  Alas, running and listening to audiobook on the Bose didn't work out.  Even though it clearly says "anti-skip" on the player's cover, it did skip during my run.  It skipped so much before reaching 2 km I decided to run without listening to the book.  I do a lot of walking for Charity Miles, usually a mile a day, so that's when I can make use of the Bose.

My new electronic toy - a Bose portable CD player.  Thanks to its compact size, I was able to sail through "Sharpe's Siege", by Bernard Cornwell, in a short time.  I started listening to "The Keepsake" today, while on the run.  I prefer historical fiction, the older the better, to learn how people deal with the lack of technology.
"Thank You" in various languages, even sign language.

19 February 2013


When the current school year started, my son was supposed to take public transportation to school.  Somehow the school found the money to cover school bus service for all the grades at his school.  All was well and good until the bus strike happened.  From the few times when wife and I took the subway home from school, we knew that things are pretty chaotic on the subway platform.  Students ran along the platform as if they were at a playground.  The top of the stairs would be clogged with kids who have no consideration for others.  So on the first day of the strike I took the subway with my son and walk with him to school.  I also met him after school and rode the subway home with him.  To save a few bucks and also to maintain my running schedule, I usually ran home after dropping him off at school.  I sometimes also ran to school to meet him in the afternoon.  It worked well, except I ended up with running pretty much the same route day in and day out.  A few weeks into the strike my son was comfortable enough with the subway that I let him go to school by himself.  He would call me when he transferred to the Q train and again when he got to school.  At last I was able to resume running other routes and not have to be at his school.

The first chance I got I went right back to continue exploring the West Trail of Marine Park.  The last time I was there I entered at Allen Avenue.  This time I ventured further south and got onto the trail via Channel Avenue.  Just beyond the perimeter of P.S. 277 there was a big clearing with tire marks to suggest some vehicles recently plowed through the area.  It was too close to the road (Gerritsen Avenue) so I didn't think it was the trail and went further toward the water.  I was wrong.  There was another trail that supposedly ran along the water and the clearing I saw was indeed THE trail.  I took a few photo of the area near the water and went back to the trail, then headed north to trace my way back toward Avenue U.  That's my plan, a small section at a time, so that I always travel over familiar territory.  Like last time, I exited the trail at Whitney Avenue.

Happy Trail!

After a short walk from Gerritsen Avenue and P.S. 277 was the path leading to the trail.

Not much snow was around, just a tiny bit of ice on the path leading to the trail.
I thought this path was too close to Gerritsen Avenue to be the actual trail, but I was wrong.
The trail actually leads back to Avenue U.
Looking left of the clearing, Avenue U would be to the left of the photo.
Looking along the water, which is to the left of the photo, toward Belt Parkway.

17 February 2013


So there are many web sites where green-minded people can post giveaways to humanely get rid of stuff they no longer need.  The one thing it comes down in the end is how "nice" the people are.  There is no telling.  I had a few good weeks of actually giving things away, but this past week I re-acquainted with the down side of freecycling.  In three separate incidents, the recipient was no-show.  I don't mind if something comes up and the person notify me.  I made sure they have my cell phone and they already have my email from our initial contact.  But no phone call, no text message, no email.  Oh well.  I guess some people just have no common decency to alert me if things don't work out.  Or maybe they are just sloppy or busy people who don't keep a neat address book.  Whatever, let's get back to running news.

Today I volunteered at the Prospect Pack Track Club (PPTC) Cherry Tree 10-Miler and Relay.  The day started with me getting at the pre-dawn hour of 5 AM.  The race took place in Prospect Park but we had bib distribution and food service to be setup at Bishop Ford High School.  The school is not near my D train and weekend train transfer is a pain, so I decided early on to run to the school.  My friend Chicken Underwear already told me that it was not a good idea as I would spend the whole day in the cold with sweat-soaked clothes, but I prepared a set of clothes to change into after the run.  I went mostly along the D train itself, along 86th Street then New Utrecht Avenue, then Fort Hamilton Parkway and MacDonald Avenue.  It started out dark and gloomy, cold too, but by the time I hit Greenwood Cemetery the sun came out and the birds were tweeting their status updates.  That's the nice thing about morning run, there's literally light at the end to look forward to.  On the other hand, evening run at sunset can only lead to more darkness as the day wanes.

I once rode a bike to the area and can vividly recall the difficulty of going up the hill once I made the turn from Fort Hamilton into MacDonald, along the cemetery's perimeter.  The hill was still there today but it seemed somewhat easier to climb than being on a bike.  I thought of stopping once, perhaps at some traffic light, but I kept pressing on, just one more block.  Soon enough I was at the corner of Bishop Ford and decided I had enough of a workout.  The trip came out to be 7.88 km, or less than 5 miles, done in 1:00:04.  I missed the chance to help unload the U-Haul van with the fruits and water etc but there was some other work to do.

One funny thing is there happened to be some school trip so many kids showed up with luggages.  At the PPTC Turkey Trot run on Thanksgiving Day 2012, Bishop Ford had a clear presence, with kids running and helping with water stations etc.  I thought today's kids also ran, but what with all the luggages?  Eventually it was time for the kids to get on their buses and we had the cafeteria to ourself.

It was nice and warm inside the school, with food and hot chocolate within reach, but there were many volunteers so when the chance came to get a ride to Prospect Park to help with the setup of finish line and start line, I went on the ride.  It was freezing cold out there!  I already changed into dry clothes and had many layers on but the hands with only one layer of gloves were cold.  Luckily, I was able to grab a pair of bling gloves for the race, thin enough to serve as the inside layer.

I thought I would help with IDing finishers in the top three but that was not the case.  Since the race was both a 10-miler for individuals and a relay for teams of three runners, there was a need to tell the runners where to go to keep running or to get into the transition area to hand over the baton.  For a while I held two signs to direct the runners, but the letters on the signs were too small.  Most runners knew where to run, but for some by the time they were close enough to read the signs they were already steps away down the wrong path.  I gave up on the signs and just shouted out instructions, along with other PPTC volunteers in the area.  Without the signs to occupy my hands, I put the free hands to work to photograph the runners.  There were too many runners so I just focused on taking photos of people sporting PPTC items of clothes.  There was a friend from a recycling group who happens to be a great runner and I looked for her but couldn't find her.  I did see a different friend, from DailyMile.com.  She ran the 10-mile course, or 3 big loops of Prospect Park, so the first time I caught her, the second time she caught me, and the third time I was ready to catch her in action, going hard for the finish line.

The Cherry Tree race is advertised as a race for the hard-core.  I don't consider 10 miles a very long distance, but with the kind of temperature we had today, in the teens (Fahrenheit) it sure is hard-core.  After the race, runners and volunteers went back to Bishop Ford to relax and re-supply the bodies, and there was even free massage.  After standing for hours in the cold, I could use a massage but I was supposed to rush back home to take the boys swimming.  So, I only had cup of soup, an ice cream (Enlighted - the good-for-you ice cream!), and a bagel with cream cheese.

Enjoy some of the photos I took at the event!

The whole Picasa album:


12 February 2013


Let's hear it for Brooklyn Freecycle!  Or FreecyclePlus actually.

Did you visit any of those links I provided in my last post?  Practicing what I preach, I actually posted a few things with Brooklyn Freecycle today.  It's nice that my Offers appeared right away, but it won't do any good if nobody wants the stuff.  I am sure if the site ever gets popular, spammers will ruin it for everyone and new posts will have to be approved, just like with The Freecycling Network.

FreecyclePlus uses a point system in dealing with Offers and Requests.  Supposedly, people can bid with points to have a better chance of getting stuff.  But points are not really required to bid.  Huh?  It reminds me of Whose Line Is It Anyway's point system.  The points don't matter and Drew Carey awarded, the improv geniuses on the show, with abandon.

Anyway, one of the stuff I am offering on Brooklyn Freecycle is these CD tray thingamajig, viewable at


Do you have any idea how to use these trays?  I only I bought at BJ's Wholesale not really knowing how they are to be used.  Many years later they just sit around not used.  I suspect they are used together with some CD-organizing system, perhaps hooked onto some rod and swing out as needed.  Hope someone will see through and can put them to good use.

11 February 2013


When I recently got back into freecycling, I thought it was a while since I got involved with the movement, that there would be some other web sites beside The Freecycling Network (TFN).  I didn't look too hard and settled back with TFN.  In these days of Facebook, Twitter, instagrams etc, TFN, at least the Brooklyn and NYC groups that I use, are rather quaint with their Yahoo!Groups interface.  No attachment, a little delay waiting for approval by moderators, message list order sometimes seemingly out of whack.  But I quickly got used to it.  It's actually not bad, just post a message and wait for email responses.  You can even send email to some group address to post offers.  Still, there must be other services out there, and as Allan from AnyGoodToYou wrote in that service's blog, there are.  I checked out the sites Allan mentioned, including the ones found in Wikipedia.  I also happened upon other services.  So there are alternative services to TFN, but none matching TFN's breadth.  Some are limited geographically, others are just alternative interface to the same TFN data, and some are too quiet to be considered active.  For my visits, where applicable I only look for Brooklyn, NY and nearby towns, usually NYC (supposedly the five boroughs of the Big Apple).

http://trashnothing.com - Freecycling Network with a more modern interface

http://www.reusemoose.com - mostly Australia?  I did find a Brooklyn group but it has very little to offer.

http://www.anygoodtoyou.com - UK-based for now

http://freecycleplus.com - relatively new, few listings

http://www.reuseitnetwork.org - Brooklyn and NYC groups are Yahoo!Groups like Freecycle, no interface improvement, new listings in the single digits.

I do recommend you check out these alternatives to TFN.  Competition is good.  Maybe your particular city has a lot of activities.

I would not be surprised if I missed some web sites for freecycling.  Do let me know in the Comments!

04 February 2013


It is the third week of school bus strike in New York City.  Since I have some extra time, I've been accompanying my son on the subway to and from school.  It's a very unpleasant task.  While most kids wait quietly for the train to arrive, there are always some horsing around on the platform as if it's a playground.  Other kids would walk between subway cars as if they are mere escalator.  One even walked between cars while viewing a tablet, perhaps an iPad mini.  I am surprised none has fallen into the tracks yet.  Then there are those so-called students walking around with no book-bags whatsoever.  One day, one such non-student ran into my subway car shouting something to the effect of "It's that kid from yesterday!" and ran into the next car, followed, supposedly by two or three of his accomplices.  At the terminal where I transferred to my train to get home, when son and I were getting into the subway car I saw the same group already inside, with another group of kids standing around in circle, looking about furtively.  Things looked suspicious so we went to the next car.  Sure enough, at the first stop out of the terminal, as the train was pulling into the station I heard over the P.A. someone telling the conductor not to open the doors.  Everyone on the train was trapped inside.  Four police officers were then seen walking the platform, one officer had his arm around a kid, the officer's hand resting on the kid's shoulder, as they went toward the front of the train.  Some of the officers visited my car then quickly exited.  A long time later, the search proved futile, the doors were opened to let people in and out, and the train continued its course.

The next day, while waiting for my son in the subway station, I noticed three men hanging out in the same area.  Plain clothes of blue jeans and jackets, no visible insignia.  When the kid that walked the platform with the officers yesterday came into the station, however, these three men went with him.  The Q train arrived, after the usual awful long wait, the kids rudely fought their way into the train as usual, and the train went to the next stop.  However, again, at Bright Beach station, the conductor was told not to open the doors.  The undercover cops went about their work with the kid, and soon enough the non-student from yesterday with his partners-in-crime were taken off the train with their hands behind their back.  I could not tell if they were handcuffed or restrained with plastic cuffs but they sure were detained.

My guess is that the day before the gang robbed the other kid of his cell phone.  It happens so often these day, it's a safe guess.  I do know one kid who just the week before was robbed of his smartphone, in the same terminal.  I heard he was also hurt a bit, although when I saw him this week he didn't have any obvious sign of injury on the face.  This other kid that was helped by the police, perhaps he knows someone in the police force, or just happened to run into the police and decided to try his luck in getting back his phone.  The local police blotter didn't have any info so my guess is just that, a guess.

I do wonder what happened afterward.  For sure those robber kids went back home after a short detention at the police precinct.  Were they scared enough to refrain from doing what they did?  Or did they think it was an adventure that they want to re-visit?  How about that victim kid?  I wonder how safe it is for him nowadays to ride the subway.