Rainy day

This is a picture of Saturday. Today, it poured rain.

Off and on, that is, like a lot of summer weather in these parts. One hour, the sun would be shining (kind of), and the next the sky would explode with rainfall.

Which I guess is why the Long Island Railroad was so sucky this morning. I got off my train at Jamaica, hoping to make the connection, only to learn that connecting train was running twenty minutes late. So I quickly hopped back on the first train, where instead of my earlier seat I had to stand in a very crowded aisle, and went to Penn Station. I wasn’t late to work, but I had to race just to be on time.

I had to race again this evening, to beat the rain and refill my MetroCard, and the rain always seems to drive the weirdos and tourists onto the subways at rush hour. (I have nothing against tourists in Manhattan. Come, see the city! Just, please: some of us are trying to get home in the evening.) But none of them were quite as weird as the guy who got on the LIRR train midway along completely barefoot. I think he was carrying his shoes in his backpack, presumably to keep them dry in the pounding rain. But he looked like he was in no rush to slip them on.

Honestly, the floor of a LIRR car is one of the last places I’d want to walk around barefoot. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, so glad tomorrow’s Tuesday. I’ve come to look forward to that extra hour or so of sleep I get by not having to commute (to say nothing of being able to work in my pajamas, should I wish). There’s going to be one week next month when I won’t be able to do it, when I have to go into the office, and I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.

Gone fishing (or, I’m on a boat!)

I went to bed last night at ten o’clock, which is not something I tend to do, even on my most exhausting of Fridays. But I was expecting to be up the next morning a little before five am, so it seemed like the prudent thing to do.

I should maybe explain. For Father’s Day, my mother wanted to surprise my father with a fishing trip. He used to fish a lot when he was younger, and with me when I was a boy, but it’s probably been at least a decade and a half since he’d last been out on the water with rod and reel.

We’d been researching local fishing boats and coordinating behind the scenes — which was tough, since the person whose input would probably have most been helpful…was the very person we were surprising with the trip. But we finally settled on a place and worked out this as being the best weekend for it, when all five of us — me, my parents, my sister, and her husband — could all go out on the ocean.

Of course, the plan changed slightly when my father got involved. He talked to a coworker who goes fishing a lot, did some research online, and picked a boat running out of Point Lookout that seemed best, fishing for seabass and porgies.

And that boat left the dock at 7 in the morning. Meaning we had to be there at 6. Meaning we had to leave the house a little after 5. So bed at 10 o’clock.

Except around 5 this morning, my father wasn’t feeling too well, and it was still pouring rain, so we decided to go back to sleep and maybe try the second of the half-day trips, this one setting out from Point Lookout at 1 pm.

So instead of just barely getting a reasonable 7 hours of sleep, I got a much more pleasant and weekend-ly 9.

By later in the day, my father was feeling better and the rain had completely stopped. And so we drove out and got on the boat and went fishing.

It was fun. The boat was super-crowded and a very tight fit with everyone else aboard. At times, you couldn’t even fish for fear — no, the certainty — of snagging your line on someone else’s instead of a fish. And I personally only caught one very small sea bass — which jumped from the line before I could pull it aboard, saving me the trouble of unhooking it and tossing it back — and a sea robin, which are a little like spiky catfish and would have been tossed back even if we weren’t all five of us going the catch-and-release route all day.

So it was fun. The weather was gorgeous, the fishing was decent, and even if it was a little over-crowded on the boat, I think my father had a good time, which was really the whole point of the day.

After that, we all came home for some quick, much-needed showers, and then went out again for dinner, at a local Latin place we’d been to once before.

All in all, and despite the less than usual start, not a bad day.

It’s thunder and it’s lightning

Leave it to the Long Island Railroad and Mother Nature — or, rather, the LIRR’s complete inability to cope with any little thing Mother Nature throws at it — to take what was an ordinary, even boring day and turn it into something special.

It rained this afternoon. Weather in New York has been weird lately, making me all the more nostalgic for the fall weather I experienced in Alberta. The very early fall weather, warm by local standards, but it’s just about October and we’re still walking around in short sleeves here in New York. We had a week when I wasn’t uncomfortable wearing a long-sleeve shirt, maybe even a light jacket early in the morning or late at night. But that changed, and it’s been almost as humid as it was a month ago. We’ve had heavy fog, and today, I’m still running the air conditioner.

So it rained, a lot, but not for long, and not so much that you would expect it to cause any issues with the evening commute. It had stopped altogether by the time I actually left the office at 5 PM.

Oh, but you say, you’re not taking into account lightning. You don’t need a lot of rain for lightning. Well I just need the LIRR to take lightning into account…but apparently that’s asking too much. Because you’re right, it was lightning that screwed tonight’s commute.

I got to Penn Station, same as usual, to find it particularly crowded — especially considering that the trains had been less crowded this morning, thanks possibly to a number of people staying home for Rosh Hashanah. It quickly became apparent that no trains were leaving, except maybe to Port Washington, thanks to signal trouble between Manhattan and Jamaica Station in Queens. (The Port Washington line doesn’t go through Jamaica and so wasn’t affected.) But I wasn’t taking an over-crowded train to Port Washington, which, without traffic, is easily a half hour’s drive from home.

I eventually squeezed my way through to the 8th Avenue subway, after the transit cops started shutting the gates and blocking other entrances/exits. And I took a very long subway to Jamaica, where I managed to get onto a very crowded train headed to my station — and only just managed to squeeze myself off when we reached that station.

All told, it only took about an extra hour for me to reach my destination, but it was a long evening that involved way too much pushing through crowds and way too much of the Long Island Railroad being its usual self. (This isn’t exactly the first time this has happened. Or even the first time it’s happened recently.) Word is, they’ve since fixed the situation, manually resetting all the affected signals and re-opening Penn Station, so hopefully tomorrow morning’s commute will be nothing special.

But I dunno, with the weather we’ve been having… We could go right from summer into winter’s heavy snow. And the LIRR has proven they’re none too good at dealing with snow.

The dark ages

If you’re wondering where I’ve been the past few days, why no Song of the day posts or daily write-ups, the quick answer is: we lost power.

If you haven’t been wondering, the answer’s the same, but you wound me. Truly, you wound me.

As you may have heard, the east coast of the U.S. recently experienced…well, let’s call it a semi-severe hurricane. It certainly wasn’t as severe as hyped, but all told it caused a fair amount of damage — I think estimates put it at the eighth most destructive recorded hurricane, but I don’t have those estimates in front of me — with several deaths and extensive property damage. Here in New York, we escaped relatively unscathed, with Irene reclassified as a tropical storm by the time in made landfall sometime on Sunday.

But also sometime on Sunday, around one in the morning, we lost electricity in the house, on the block, and pretty much across the island. Here on our little street, we’ve yet to get it back, some three days later.

My iPad conked out on me Sunday afternoon, and my office was closed because of all the problems with the trains and buses (which NYC had shut down on Saturday, in anticipation) the storm had wrought. So it wasn’t until today that I got my hands (not literally) on a working electrical outlet, so I could recharge what needed recharging. Namely, everything.

Which is good, because my last day in the office for a while is tomorrow. On Thursday morning, crack of dawn, I’m headed to Canada for a week at the Banff Centre in, appropriately enough, Banff. I’ll be meeting Heather while I’m there, attempting to write a three-day novel, and quite possibly riding a horse. The first of these sounds quite nice, but the other two are quite possibly the early stages of madness. We shall see.

And not to worry, while I’m gone, there will be some posts here. On Saturday, as the rain picked up outside, I spent some time post-dating stuff. That’s where the daily link posts have been coming from, and there will be songs of the day aplenty while I’m gone. Maybe even a Random Friday Guess 10. If time permits — and I’m not thrown dangerously from either the horse or the novel — I may even check in from time to time. I’ll certainly be checking in via my Twitter page. Now may be the moment you’ve been waiting for to join and follow me there. C’mon! I thought Twitter was dumb before I started, too!

Anyway, one more day of work, possibly several more days without power, and a long morning of traveling to Alberta on Thursday. Till then, it’s mostly reading and games of Monopoly — we played, my parents and sister and me, on Sunday; I won — by flashlight. It’s shaping up to be a weird week.

Putter there

Today was our company outing to Randalls Island, just across the bridge from Manhattan, and it was actually a lot of fun. I got to work around 8:30, answered a few e-mails — fewer than I would have liked — and then I set my away message and headed downstairs to hop on the bus.

We arrived a little before ten and were left mostly to our own devices, with a driving range, batting cage, bean bag toss, and lots of other games available. There was also a short relay race — one leg a sack race, another a three-legged race, the third an egg-and-spoon race with lemons standing in for the eggs — and a dodgeball “tournament,” both of which I just watched. I played some miniature golf with my co-workers, enjoyed a decent lunch, and got to leave work early when we returned to the office around 3.

Meanwhile, much ado about Hurricane Irene, expected to hit us sometime tomorrow into Sunday. It’s unclear just how bad it’s going to get, but we should be safe, at worst losing power for a little while. We’re hoping even that doesn’t happen, though, and we’re far enough from the coast not to be in any of the evacuation areas. We’re also not dependent on public transportation over the weekend, so we won’t be impacted by NYC shutting that down until Monday, when everything should hopefully have returned to normal.

To think that in a week from now, I will be in the Canadian Rockies…