Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Time flies in the real world

It's been more than a year now since I got my thesis signed. It's been a little more than a year since I signed the lease on my apartment. (Which, incidentally, means it's time to sign another one.) It's coming up on a year since I moved to NY and started work. I've had a cell phone for a year!

My (first) graduation was nearly two years ago. I last visited my family in Virginia six months ago. Mystery hunt was four and a half months ago, which was the last time I saw a lot of people. (Which, incidentally, means they should come visit me.)

Every day this month when I've flipped the page on my calendar, I've had a little moment of panic when I realize that 2006 is almost half over already. What happened to time? I'm sure it didn't use to go this fast.

Part of it must have to do with the sudden lack of landmarks--there's no midterms, finals, major projects anymore. There's annual and mid-year reviews, but six months apart is too much, and anyway I've only been through one so far. Other than that the weeks more or less fade into each other. The slow sense of accomplishment isn't enough to tell me that months are passing.

On top of that, I've spent most of the past several months on a two-week cycle, where I spend every other weekend up in Boston. As much as I enjoy doing that, it means I only get the option of lie-at-home-do-nothing days every two weeks. Whatever sense of time I get out of that is a factor of two off from where it should be.

At least I can tell it's summer now. I can almost believe it's March as I walk up the street some mornings, but that still gets me within two months of the actual time. And then it thunderstorms and I feel like it's July, but still--just a couple months off. As long as there's regular seasons, I can't completely lose track of time. Good thing I'm not living in California, I guess.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Apparently it's summer. I remember, now, why I bought that air conditioner last year. It only hit 80ish today and it wasn't especially humid, but it was enough to make me feel sticky and lazy all evening.

Around 10:00 tonight it occurred to me that 1) I'd probably feel less completely unmotivated if it weren't so hot, 2) if I put my air conditioner back in the window, I could make it cooler, 3) putting the air conditioner back in would require a lot of effort, and 4) I really didn't feel like putting any effort into anything. I'm not entirely sure how I broke the loop, but the end result was that I have A/C again, and I have a little bit of motivation left over. So that's good... except for the noise, the power fluctuations when it turns on and off, and the impending doom of my electricity bill.

Before that, when I was still pretending it was cool out, I did the grand tour of my end of the Eastern Parkway. The first stop was the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where I got in free courtesy of Bank of America. I've been meaning to visit it since I moved here, and the free-ness finally gave me an excuse to go spend a few hours there. It was bigger than I expected it to be, somehow, even though I'd seen it on a map. Lots of plants. Lots of flowers. They have a rose garden that opens June 1, which meant there were people crowding around its edges admiring the ones poking over and through the fence. I did, indeed, stop to smell the roses.

The next destination was the Brooklyn Museum, where I made my first visit since I bought a membership. The nice thing about being a member is I don't feel awkward about stopping in for half an hour to see one special exhibit, visiting the Rodins and a couple paintings up on the 5th floor, and then just walking out again. I should do it more often.

After that was the library. I should go there more often too, but I haven't had a whole lot of time to read lately, and when I do I've been going through the random books I've accumulated but never read. But I was walking past it, so I stopped in and got a couple things.

And then I walked through Prospect Park on my way home. It was full of people picnicing and playing frisbee and such, though not as much as I expected given that it's Memorial Day weekend. After the Botanic Garden, it looked much more open and much less constructed. And all of the plants didn't have little identifying tags.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Going up to Boston for the weekend. Bringing my umbrella.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A long week

Last week was a long week. I had a deadline Tuesday evening, so I got in earlier on Monday and Tuesday than I had since last summer, and stayed later than I ever have. And it was tiring.

In principle, I like getting into work early. It means that I have time to catch up on my email and still get a meaningful chunk of work done before lunch. On the other hand, it also means waking up. The only time I've ever been able to keep it up for more than a couple of days was a couple winters ago when I was in Singapore, and that was only because I was so jet-lagged it didn't really count. And sure enough, this week, by Friday I was almost back to my my usual time.

And yeah, there was lots of stuff about stupid-but-fatal bugs (mostly mine) and discussing maybe actually launching someday, but I probably shouldn't go into too much detail about that. Instead, you can go play with Google Trends, which I had absolutely nothing to do with but is a great new way to waste time.

In other news, I went to the Bowery lighting district yesterday. By "lighting district," they mean "20 stores selling lamps and chandeliers crammed into two blocks." I counted 17 of them that I went into, but that counts two on opposite sides of the street that had the exact same inventory. I ended up getting a new lamp for my nightstand, but I didn't find anything I liked more for my living room than the one I saw at Macy's a while back. And the whole experience was generally a lot less sketchy than I expected considering it was only a couple blocks away from Canal Street, the heart of sketchy-retaildom in New York City.

I've also been reading Seth Lloyd's new book, which I picked up on a whim last weekend at the MIT press store. It's good, and makes me wish he'd been teaching 2.111 when I took it. More on that later.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

It's like he's following me

They're building this about a 20-minute walk away from my apartment, and if I'm still living here when it's finished, it'll be the biggest thing in my view towards Manhattan. I like it a lot more now that it doesn't look like it's falling down.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Physical activity!

All of a sudden, I'm getting exercise. In the long run, I suppose it should make me feel better, but for now it mostly just makes me sore.

Tuesday night was our first softball game. I'm on the "just for fun" team from the office, as opposed to the "play to win" team, which meant that we got plenty of people (like me) who clearly hadn't played in a while or had never played much at all. I was impressed that I was still able to catch the ball (and even caught a pop-up in the game), but let's just say that my hitting hasn't improved at all in the N years since I last played. I also apparently haven't used the swing-a-bat muscles at all in that time. Oops.

Thursday I finally bought my new bike, to replace the one that was stolen about a year ago. It's a decent dark red hybrid, which wouldn't have been my first choice in color except that it was what they had in stock. (Also, the only other color it came in was a kind of ugly pale green.) It's light (about 26 pounds, according to my bathroom scale), which means I can carry it up/down the stairs with one hand and still have the other to hold the railing and not fall down the stairs.

This afternoon was my first chance to go riding, aside from the trip back from the store. I went over and did a lap around the park, which took about twenty minutes, and was apparently over 3 miles. Adding in the trip to and from my apartment, including detours to avoid going the the wrong way down one-way streets, and it came to over 4 miles. In comparison, the trip to my office would only be a little over 6 miles. I'd like to be able to do that comfortably by some time in the summer.

The loop around the park is a generally nice ride with lots of greenery and lakes and horses and such. The roads around/through the park are closed to traffic except during rush hour, so it's just joggers and bikers--a lot of joggers and bikers, but that's still nicer than having to deal with cars. My only complaint was the far half of the loop being continuously uphill, but I should be able to handle that fine once I get closer to in shape and I figure out which gears I should be using. In an ideal world I'd get over there before or after work semi-regularly, but that would probably mean competing with cars during rush hour, so we'll see.

Cars still make me nervous. There are more cars on my quiet residential avenue on a Saturday afternoon than there were on Broadway in Cambridge at 10:00 weekday mornings, which probably says something about either the two times or the two places. There seem to be enough bike lanes around (about as many as in Cambridge--not many, but enough to find one if you're going a reasonable distance) that maybe I'll be able to mostly avoid the cars.

I still need to get a printed bike map. I also need a new lock. The fact that the 5-star lock Kryptonite makes is called a "New York Lock" makes me worry about trusting my measly 3.5-star lock in, y'know, New York.