Wednesday, November 3, 2021

more poll work

I just finished my third round of early voting and elections a work . As I reported earlier it's a very rewarding job. In November of 2020 I worked at the Barclays Center. It was very busy and because we were at a iconic location there was a lot of media and a lot of people were bringing us free food. This past June I worked at New York City Technical College on the very busy intersection of Jay Street and Tillary. it was a primary and the first time New York City used ranked-choice voting so it was busy for each voter but overall we had a lot of downtime. I was in the background of a news article about voting and I wrote about it here

Yesterday was another election day here in New York City. My regular assignment for election day has been PS 321. it is the place where I regularly vote and it's the place where my kids went to school. I really enjoy working there because it's full of familiar faces. and there's usually a bake sale out front. I enjoy it because I actually used to work with the PTA there so it's a place where I can chat while I'm helping voters.

I was asked by the second shift of bake sale parents if Chuck Schumer had already voted. He had . They pointed to the  Sweet'N Low put out in front of their coffee. They were disappointed it would not be used.  In the generational handbook that is passed down to every PTA parent who is organizing the bake sale at election day at part of the instructions say that they need to have Sweet'N Low for Chuck Schumer. That's how I knew I was in Park Slope

Last week I did my early voting work at The Brooklyn Museum . It was nice to be walking distance away for eight  long days of employment,  and on our breaks we got to enjoy the museum . On of the exhibits was Interactive and we were encouraged believe souvenirs on it.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Friday, October 15, 2021

the only thing that's the end of the world is the end of the world

I really had no intention of making this political, but I've been thinking of this expression a lot lately. and I just Googled it and I found out it's what Barack Obama said when Donald Trump became apparently elected president. It could have been the end of the world and it still might be but it hasn't been.

2020 also taught that only the end of the world is the end of the world. It's important that I pause here and acknowledge the fact that millions of people died and many millions of people got sick. 2020 was literally the end of the world for many people. But here we are in 2021, reading this.

So my (very first world) problem is that I am not going to run the New York City Marathon this year. The good news is that I have an overuse injury. that was a joke.... in order to keep myself from tripping over my own toes I wear ankle foot Orthotics. From a distance they look like bands that go around my calves. But there's actually a  carbon fiber rod that goes down into my shoe and there's a plate underneath my foot. It solves the problem of foot drop. It also means I'm running on a carbon fiber plate and losing all the padding that my Hookas come with. The little bone behind my big toe started not liking that. He complained by swelling. When it swells it feels like there's a electrical dumpster fire in my shoet hen the pain actually gets worse when I take off my shoe because my foot gets a chance to swell. I have a swollen sesamoid bone. Sesamoiditis.

So back to physical therapy for strengthening exercises mostly around my toes . I also had a hole drilled in the bottom of my orthotic right underneath my sesamoid bone. I think that's the trick. So this morning I tried out my new feet. 300M regardless of what the GPS says. No pain. I might try a whole mile tomorrow

Friday, October 1, 2021

A Mitzvah

The beginning of fall is a busy season for these missionaries.  I avoid them during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because for whatever reason they don't carry money on that holiday. They are allowed to ask me to listen to a horn but they're not allowed to pay me. But on Sukkot they want me to shake a stick and some sort of dried up melon while saying some prayers. Since I didn't have to put any leather straps on my head I only asked for $5 and they were quick to agree. The cool thing was that last week I was not alone during this encounter I was hanging out with some friends waiting to go for a workout. 

So it's time to update this a significant amount. Since I originally wrote this 12 years ago I probablycollected about a hundred bucks off the "'Are you Jewish?' boys" they're pretty quick to give me twenty bucks if I put on the tafillen and repeat whatever words they told me to say or read off a card. the truly pathetic thing is that it's so obvious that I really don't care what I say it is just meaningless words to me and I AM just doing it for the money. They don't care as long as the son of a Jewish woman does the ritual. my obvious insincerity is irrelevant.

................................................................................................  Janurary 2010 

A couple of days ago I was changing trains in Times Square. There is always a lot going on down there, bands, art, various religious/charity looking for a handout or a sole.  So it was not surprising that a man dress in traditional Hasidim clothing ask me "Are you Jewish?"    It was about 1pm and I had plenty of time before I had to pick up the kids.  So I decided to engage.

I tried to guide the conversation towards the subject of  free will and humanity, but that was useless.  It was like talking to a dining room table.  I knew this man had one and only one agenda, that was to get me to use tefillin.

That subject came up quick.  He asked me if I want to put them on.  I said sure, if you give me $20.  He instantly agreed.  After a very short and polite discussion about the timing of payment.  I performed the ritual, right there in the Times Square Subway Station.

We then had a short conversation about our personal religious histories.  He gave me $20 and shook my hand.

"Congratulations, you did a mitzvah."
"No, the mitzvah will be when I donate this money to help end the suffering in Haiti."
"Are there Jews in Haiti?"

Oy Vey

So if yo want to do a mitzvah you can help someone in need or support one of the organizations below.

The American Red Cross


I personal know the people involved at Heartline Ministries, it is not about religious rituals.  It is about helping those who need the most help.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

sometimes it takes a team and sometimes you get it done by yourself

I didn't get to vote when I was a high school student. I turned 18 in June and then for two years I went to Hofstra where I would assume I came back home to vote because I voted as often as I could . Maybe I got an absentee ballot . I never felt very connected to Hampstead . But, in my third year of college I transferred to Stony Brook. There, I got involved in Progressive politics. I moved onto campus and felt a little bit more connected to that University but then I found out I couldn't register to vote there.  Not if you lived in a dorm.

I got involved in an organization called NYPIRG, the New York Public Interest Research Group. 

We marched around in circles complaining about the fact that we weren't allowed to vote on campus. Picketing. We got some media attention but in my three years as an undergraduate living on campus there I never got the right te bote on campus. They helped me get an absentee ballot so I can vote back in Brooklyn. As a grad student I moved off campus and was able to vote in Stony Brook or East Setauket or Port Jefferson Station. A pissed the locals off up there but F them,  now I was a local.

I didn't give any of this much more thought until about 30 years later my son is going to Stony Brook  and living in the dorms. He also turned 18 in the spring so his first election was when he was away at school.  I asked him if he got to vote and he said "yep".  I asked him if you voted absentee or in the local election. "I don't know".

At first my Dad instincts kicked in and I felt like saying " What do you mean you don't know?? Who did you vote for?"  but I let that go.  And I did find out that he voted in Suffolk County. He voted without thinking twice about it. Then I realized that back in the 80s I fought in a battle that I did not win and people continued in my place and continue to fight and eventually they won. The victory is that my son was able to vote in Suffolk County without even thinking about the battle.

So there's that.

Over the past 25 years I probably ran over the Brooklyn Bridge over a thousand times.  Back and forth about twice a month training for the past 35 marathons. Sometimes good weather sometimes bad weather. But I had a lot of time to think about The Pedestrian path up there. I wrote this in 2010.  I thought back then it would be a good idea to put back the staircases around the towers to keep the bicyclists off and give them the whole of the Manhattan Bridge. Or, take the Brooklyn Bridge away from the Department of Transportation which really doesn't care about the guest regions and give it to the parks department or to Brooklyn Bridge Park which does care about pedestrians. None of that happened.

But today I marched over the bicycle free pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge. 

It wasn't my plan and I really didn't do much to help make it happen but I'm really glad it happened. Now there's enough room for pedestrians and tourists up on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The fine folks a transportation Alternatives did a great job  in both getting the bike lane put onto the roadway and and having this little celebration. There were a lot of photographers at the celebration and when I find their pictures I will add them to this blog.

but the weird thing is while I was looking for pictures of the parade I did come across the transportation Alternatives website for the borough of Brooklyn . I could confidently say that they have not update the picture on the cover and at least seven years . Maybe seven and a half years the cover photograph shows a picture of me that must have been taken before May of 2014. Because since then I have been unable to hold my hand up in that angle or keep my wedding ring on my hand.

 And in other news....  It's really a good idea for me to hold on to the rail when I use a staircase. Especially when I go down.  To make things more complicated, I really should not hold on to the rail with my left hand.  I don't have enough grip strength to make that helpful. So basically I need to stick to the right when I walk down stairs. I've become pretty atun to what a proper rail should be like. At the top of the stairs it should start before you're actually on the stairs so you can hold on before you start walking. Same thing at the bottom. And it should be a specific height.  Here are the legal requirements on what an ada-compliant staircase should look like. Except in that picture of the good staircase rail is on the left as you would walk down the stairs. That wouldn't do me much good. 

for the most part handrails in the subway system meet the specifications. Sometimes the real doesn't extend a foot or two past the stairs because it's old and there's no wall there but the height is acceptable. Accepting the train station where I go all the time to get to the B / Q train. the stair on my side of Flatbush Avenue had a rail on the right that was significantly lower than every other raiI ever incounted. a couple of weeks ago it occurred to me to do something about it. I went to the MTA website and made an accessibility complaint . 

Below is a screenshot of my correspondence with the MTA. I honestly assumed they were blowing me off,  in that this is the reply that they would send someone when they did nothing because they looked around and said everything looks fine to them.


Response by Ben D. (09/20/2021 04:50 PM)


Hi Michael --

This is a follow-up to your recent e-mail reporting uneven handrails at the 7 Av Station.

We can confirm that Station Maintenance inspected this area and verified the condition. The handrails have since been replaced are now ADA compliant.

Thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention.

Ben D.
Customer Service Specialist

Costomer (07/18/2021 09:05 AM)


The handrail on me west side of the staircase labeled S4 is lower than the rest of all the handrails in the subway system. This is the rail that is closer to the building. It makes it dangerous for a disabled person to walk down the stairs especially because I cannot hold a rail on my left side. This is the rail on the right as you walk down the stairs

well, below are the pictures I took this afternoon. They raise the rail by 5 or 6 in. Sometimes you can do something.

I think you can see the old hole
yeah, it's just not a couple of steps.

Fun on the last day of Spring Break (not much to update in 11 years)

I originally posted this in April of 2010 . I just happened to be back  in that area and took a fresh photograph of that same Payphone. Just to remind my reading audience that 718 replaced 212 as the area code for Brooklyn in January of just to remind my reading audience that 718 replaced 212 as the area code for Brooklyn in January of 1984We walked..... We walked from Brooklyn Borough Hall to the Brooklyn Bridge. On the way there we stopped in Cadman Plaza to use the bathroom.
In there the kids found a pay phone with a dial. They had never seen one before.
On the bridge we notice lots of locks. The kids want me to put a lock on the bridge too. I guess that is kind cool. You always know where you lock is. We walked more. The we stopped for a great lunch on Chambers Street. Jerry's Cafe was a great alternative to fast food. Twice the cost. Ten times better.
We continued walking across Chambers Street to the Hudson River. The kids played in the Rockefeller Playground and took a break while watching a pond get cleaned out. Then we walked over to the dock for the Water Taxi to NJ and had ice cream. A few more steps got us to a very nice grassy park with pretty trees. My daughter took this picture of this man taking a picture. She has my taste in art. She also took this one. Then we stopped to used the indoor plumbing in the World Financial Center (very nice) . Walking around the World Trade Center Site is very tough for me. I HATE the tourists who come to gawk. Hate.
We crossed Church St and the kids found themselves playing on a statue. It was fun for them, but this is what that stature looked like on Sept. 11, 2001. Click here to see what it looked like on Sept. 11, 2001. (It is not nice, I took it out of my blog.) Then we walked across Wall Street. We stopped at Federal Hall. My son asked why George Washington is holding out his hand. I told him that this is where he took that oath of office to become the first President of the United States. But "I know that but why is he sticking his hand out?" I told him that he was resting it on a bible. "What's a bible?" Thats my boy! (Thanks Roate for the photo of G. Washington.) We were not done walking. We stopped to play in the BMW dealership on Wall Street. (Just a little, it was not a kiddie place.)
Walking done (almost). We jumped on the Ikea Ferry to get back to Brooklyn. I did a lot of cropping but check out the side of this building in Brooklyn. It cost $5 to take the ferry to Red Hook (on weekdays) but you get a $5 credit to shop in Ikea. So we went in and bought some swedish meatballs. We got them to go. We took the bus home.....

Friday, September 17, 2021

Oh Crap, the school kids are back on mass transit

MTA ridership hits close to 3 million Tuesday,
a day after setting pandemic record
Two years ago I used to be the guy that would think twice about getting on a city bus at 3 p.m..  I tried to avoid bedtime because it was full of  hormones with feet otherwise known as middle school kids.  Also, the buses would smell like ketchup and AXE.  My balance is not great but I don't look like the guy that needs a seat and these kids are pretty oblivious. Not necessarily bad kids just oblivious kids who might need to be reminded that the front seats in buses aren't for kids who just want to sit and play video games.

And so they're back! At first I had a small moment of dread because I kind of got used to not having to fight over the front seat in the bus.  But, you know what, I'm really glad they're back.

And I overheard this in front of PS 321 between a couple of 9 year old boys.

" I missed you so much last year.... I have to tell you what I learned....  I learned the best yoga pose to help you fart."

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

don't be that guy

It's no secret that I didn't lock myself in my house when the pandemic started. I took all the precautions and I went outside. I ran, I meant people, and lately I've been getting on the subway a lot. For the most part everybody is wearing a mask on mass transit, but some are not. When I see someone not wearing a mask I give them some space. 

Not because I'm worried they're going to give me covid, I'm wearing a mask and I'm vaccinated and I'm not getting that close to them. But, I don't know what they're going to do next. Someone who's not wearing a mask on the subway is someone who doesn't care about anything but themselves. Are they going to start littering, spitting on the floor, on me? Will they just take off their shoes and start cutting their toenails? Will they drop trow and just take a dump? or maybe they will just light up a cigarette? Why not?

Seriously people, you are sharing the environment with people just cannot get vaccinated. They are called children and they are everywhere. (Rarely, there's the person who medically cannot take the vaccine. More commonly there are people who think they shouldn't take the vaccine for medical reasons)

Maybe I'm taking a leap,  but that guy not wearing a mask is probably more likely to be the guy that's not vaccinated.  So, he's not unlikely to be spreading the virus.  And even those that are vaccinated can inhale it and exhale it on someone later.

Also, please don't tell me you didn't know there are literally signs everywhere. I was sitting under one when I took the selfie.And in case you missed the signs in the subway or on the sides of buses or on every TV channel here are some signs I found on social media,


Saturday, August 7, 2021

I thing I did this week (updated for helping with the manual recount)

I'm updating us because last week I was asked to help out with some more ballot-counting watching.  I don't know how helpful I actually was for the Brad Lander campaign but I did show up when I was told to. So they asked me to show up where actual work was needed to be done.  The 9th city council District that represents mostly Harlem and the Upper West Side was a victory for the progressive candidate by only 140 votes.  This triggered an automatic manual recount.

Here are some details on that election and I'm surprised there is not much news on the recount process because it was quite complicated. Since they were 13 candidates they were actually 13 rounds of recounting. It took two weeks.  I was there for 3 of the days.  The job of us poll watchers was very literally to watch the poll workers. As they counted every ballot they held it in the air and indicated who it was cast for. Then they wrote down the results and walked them down to someone entering them into a computer that was really only doing the arithmetic. We kept the same tally and entered the data into our own computer that was running a parallel program. 

I was really glad I got to help.  Not because I got to contribute to a victory, (and honestly, my contribution was teeny). Because I got to meet a  few young people who are really trying to make the world better. They were putting in the hard tedious work to improve everybody's lives. Also, I got to see how the old world of racist sexist homophobic people is just going away. The world is going to get better and I got to work with the people who are going to do it. it was really nice to be with a bunch of people who look past each other's differences and at each other's strengths without even thinking about it.

Also, there was a lot of down time and everybody took out their phones. I went on Facebook and saw as one of my old high school classmates posred to be one of those  stupid things that asked if our lives were better before everyone had a cell phone. I told my new friends what I was looking at and told them my comment.  I told my high school friends that these young people was staying on task they were working on a phone and a laptop at the same time and communicating with each other and people in other places doing the same things as they were.  They weren't off in their own worlds, they were multitasking. And they were damn good at it

And so while the rest of this blog post is about architecture and geography I'm going to go there now. This recount took place at 450 West 33rd Street in Manhattan oh, at least that was his address until 2019. The building was built in 1969 and rebuilt in 2019 when it became 5 Manhattan West, part of Hudson yards. 

From the outside and in the lobby of the building one would think you were in a brand-new building. But when we went upstairs to the 8th floor which was shared by Amazon and the Board of Elections we walked into the BOE room and I thought they made an old room in a new building. Until I found out that the Board of Elections was always there and they just renovated the building around there Warehouse.  Speaking of the lobby I was really taken by the piece of a giant art that hung there. 

So I took out my new phone with some super duper camera that doesn't work too well with my crippled hands but I took the picture up there. The guards in the lobby yelled at me after I took the picture because you're not allowed to take pictures in the lobby.  I did look closely at it and couldn't find the name of the artist or the name of the piece. But the work of art struck me it made me think about how democratic (small d) a public place could be. From a distance it looks like a painting but when you get closer you think it might be a photograph. I'm not really sure which it is. And from a distance it looks like it could be 50 years old but when you get closer you realize there are people looking at cell phones.  I'm going to post this update but I might post another one when I figure out who took that picture or painted that canvas 


Last week I worked for the Board of Elections as a seasonal poll worker. I wrote about it in this blog

This past week I turned my hat back around and helped out my old friend Brad Lander in his campaign for New York City Comptroller.  In the past I helped raise money, I also stood in public places and got citizens to sign the petition to get him on the ballot and once I even woke up early and stood outside Thompson Square Park and pointed potential voters at him so they can shake his hand. (I've got to say that the corner of East 7th Street and Avenue A is probably the most fun place to stand at 10 on a Sunday morning. Probably one of the most diverse places in the most diverse City on the planet.   There was a guy who asked me if illegal aliens could vote. I said no but Welcome to New York City anyway. He looked at me sideways and said, " but I'm not really here."

Anyway,  I helped out by going up to the Bronx Board of Elections office and officially observing the opening of the absentee ballots. I went to a Zoom training and explained that I had never done anything like this before and they explained that was okay. because Brad was ahead in the early count by a lot and they weren't really worried about any  shenanigans.  Just to report back if I saw anything unusual. I said that I didn't know what unusual was because I had never done it before. They told me if anything unusual would be happening everybody in the room would know it.  I actually reported back that there was not only nothing unusual going on but there wasn't even anything interesting. Election workers were opening envelopes pulling out the ballots and showing the people who were watching that there were no extra marks on them and then putting them in a pile to be scanned. However, I lied.  The building itself was actually very interesting. The Grand Concourse is kind of on a cliff When you enter the building from the front it is a four-story building. However most of the action was in the lower levels and they were five of them. From the Morris Avenue side of the building it was a nine-story building.

This is what I look like when I walked in the front of the building. Also note the subway entrance right next door. (straight shot from Park Slope to the Bronx on the B train)

Here is the Google Street View From The Morris Avenue side of the building

And here is a picture of the subway going under the Grand Concourse and over Morris Avenue. I think this was unusual but the Brad Lander campaign wasn't interested in this stuff

I would have gone back and taking these pictures myself because I was supposed to be there on Wednesday as well. But the campaign asked me to go to Queens Borough Hall to pick up the final numbers from the evening before. Other people found things interesting in Queens and the New York Times even stood next to me and took this picture. I know the photographer was standing next to me when the photo was taken because he was scolded when he took the picture

Other things of interest to me was the fact that I got to take the subway from 59th Street to 125th street without stopping. It is arguably the longest trip you can make underground in New York City without stopping

People often forget that the F train is like a railroad in Queens and it makes four stops to go like 7 miles from 21st Street to Kew Gardens. I got to take this trip on my way to Queens Borough Hall
Then there's the three mile trip  D & N Train make every day from Canal Street to Atlantic Avenue.

Another interesting thing I saw last week in the subway was that under Rockefeller Center which is kind of an accessible station the stickers on the ground that ask people to stand six feet apart had a little variety to them.Maybe the MTA could spend a little bit more money installing and maintaining elevators so the subway system could be truly accessible. 

And maybe the MTA could reopen the bathrooms in subway stations so people wouldn't have to take a dump on the floor. I took this picture around noon on the 4th Avenue platform at Atlantic Avenue. There's a bathroom upstairs that's been closed for over a year. Supposedly less people are getting infected with covid because the bathroom is closed 

This is not me

This is not me
Not me.

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