Tuesday various

  • Here’s a question: How many people can Manhattan hold?

    Some perspective: As crowded as the city feels at times, the present-day Manhattan population, 1.6 million, is nowhere near what it once was. In 1910, a staggering 2.3 million people crowded the borough, mostly in tenement buildings. It was a time before zoning, when roughly 90,000 windowless rooms were available for rent, and a recent immigrant might share a few hundred square feet with as many as 10 people. At that time, the Lower East Side was one of the most crowded places on the planet, according to demographers. Even as recently as 1950, the Manhattan of “West Side Story” was denser than today, with a population of two million.

  • Trying To Tame The (Real) Deadliest Fishing Jobs:

    From 2000 to 2009, workers in the Northeast’s multi-species groundfish fishery (which includes fish such as cod and haddock) were 37 times more likely to die on the job as a police officer.

  • Enjoy this Shakespeare Insult Kit, thou impertinent folly-fallen flap-dragon!
  • Klingon remains surprisingly unpopular in the United Arab Emerates. [via]
  • And finally, an LA garage door painted to look like bookshelves:

Every inch a Monday

Today was just, y’know, every inch a Monday.

This evening, I got to Grand Central only to discover that two of the three shuttles to Times Square were stuck there on the tracks. Rather than wait around for the one remaining shuttle to depart, pick up new passengers across town, and then come back — only to fight the crowds and maybe still not get on the train — I decided to try my luck with the 7 train, which also stops at Times Square. Of course, that involved a lot of walking back through the subway to find the right track, then waiting forever for the train, then being kind of a dick to a guy coming up the stairs when I was going down, trying to make the connecting E train to Penn Station.

(There didn’t seem to be anywhere to move, really, but I could have been a lot nicer about it. I could have made an effort. I didn’t realize until after I’d refused to budge that he maybe needed the stair railing to help himself up. And so to that anonymous stranger, I’m sorry for being a dick. If it’s any small consolation, I missed my train out of Penn Station, so all my running around was for nothing.)

Anyway, that was Monday. I also got the sad news that actor Jonathan Hardy, the voice of Farscape‘s Rygel, passed away at the age of 71. So I’ll leave you with this small clip from one of my favorite first-season episodes, which I tried and failed to upload to my Tumblr:

It’s Monday

Except for about ten or fifteen minutes this morning, when my subway train was stuck on the platform while someone in another car, apparently, received medical assistance, today was pretty much just an ordinary Monday. And to think, if I’d risked squeezing on to the over-crowded train that had pulled in five minutes earlier, I probably even had this much to report.

I spent the day mostly collating reviewer reports, contacting potential reviewers for other book projects, and combing the internet for syllabi and course listings and enrollments that might match the kind of instructors I have in mind.

And I did most of it while enjoying the audiobook of Stephen King’s It. It’s been years since I read the novel — which clocks in, across several audio files, at about 45 hours — but I had credits from Audible and wanted to revisit the book. So far, I’m really enjoying it, particularly actor Steven Weber’s reading. It’s not King’s most tightly plotted book by any means, but it’s maybe one of his best, and scariest, and it’s one that has some genuinely interesting things to say about childhood and fear. King reportedly wrote of the book later in a letter, “Never write anything bigger than your own head.” Which I’ve always liked to take both literally and figuratively, though perhaps also as advice not worth heeding.

Rain date

It rained today. Boy, did it ever. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It was a pretty normal day, if incredibly hot and sunny. Rumor has it, it got up to about 100°F today, and I can believe it. That lasted until the early afternoon, around 3 o’clock, when I headed downtown to Wall Street, to take part in a focus group at Shutterstock my boss had recommended. She had been there herself this morning and said it was actually fairly interesting, kind of neat to see stock photos from the perspective of the people who provide them, and to offer them some perspective on how we use them. Plus, they were offering a $50 Amazon gift card in exchange for taking part, and for half an hour’s effort (plus the subway trip downtown) that seemed like a pretty good deal. (Plus, I could take part during the work day, with my boss’ blessing.)

The focus group itself was interesting: one woman asking me questions and a couple of others following along. I felt like I maybe wasn’t providing them with the answers they wanted, or explaining myself as thoroughly as I could. There were, of course, “no right or wrong answers,” but it’s been a little while since I’ve actively gone stock-photo shopping, and not once since taking on my current development job. But they were really friendly, and the session didn’t last much longer than the half hour advertised. (The chairs in their lobby, though? Genuinely uncomfortable. And I think my ears may have actually popped going up to the 30th floor.)

I knew I probably was going to miss my regular train home, the 4:54. I still had to go back to the office and pick up my bag (with my train ticket inside it), then get the subway back downtown again to Penn Station. A twenty-minute ride uptown, the elevator back up to my desk, then a fifteen-minute ride down to Penn. It was already about 4:15 when I came back down to their building’s lobby. But maybe I could do it, if I caught a subway right away and the traffic lights outside Grand Central were with me. I just needed to…

By that point, it had started to rain. I hadn’t brought an umbrella with me, which in retrospect is what we call a Very Stupid Move. There’s about a block between the Shutterstock offices and my subway line, and I got soaked running that short distance. I had a brief respite while the train took me back uptown, but then it was right back into the deluge at Grand Central.

I hung out under the awning at the exit on Lexington until the traffic light had changed, then raced through the bucketing downpour to the Duane Reade drugstore on the corner. Where I bought what turned out to be a pretty decent umbrella — albeit one that maybe came a couple of city blocks too late. I was thoroughly soaked — or so I thought, until I stepped ankle-deep into a puddle at the next corner and got even wetter.

I’m sure I looked a fright to my co-workers when I trudged back up to my desk. The only positive is that I was by that point too soaked to even care.

I headed back out into the rain, which by that point had not remotely let up. Bright flashes of lightning, loud cracking booms of thunder, wind thrashing the rain at you left and right, and giant puddles everywhere you step. Luckily, though, our office is only a block from Grand Central, and my umbrella was still holding up, so I got to my subway without too much more trouble.

I had some trouble finding my MetroCard, of course, and I most certainly did miss my original train out of Penn, but by that point those were just minor annoyances. I’m actually amazed that the Long Island Railroad didn’t collapse under the pressure of this afternoon’s storm. (I wish I could say the same for our home phone line; even with all of yesterday’s work, it went out again in the downpour.)

With luck, the rain — which actually stopped altogether around 7 — will cool things of a little. I’d hate to think all of this was for nothing.

Still, I did get a $50 gift card out of it, so that’s something.

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.