Monday, September 5, 2022

more street views


 I was walking home and came to a full stop the other day because I saw this flower. I was on 8th Avenue just a block from my house. I actually touched it to see if it was real.It was growing on a vine along the fence and it was the only flower.

Then I realized on the other side of the house was one of my favorite signs. This sign has been on that house for just about as long as I have lived in the neighborhood. That would be the late '80s. 

I kind of like the concept of having to explain that your boss can't give you permission to violate my rights.

Below is the Google Street View of the side of the house.You can kind of see the sign but cannot make out the words.If you play with the Google Street View you can swing around to the front of the house.The house that correctly across the street is kind of famous because Chuck Rhodes and his family used to live there


Friday, September 2, 2022

street of art

There's two subway stations near my house.The 2/3 train is pretty close And the Q/B train is not that much further away. Sometimes, I walked down 7th Avenue to get to Flatbush Avenue to get to the Q/B Train. The store front that faces Flatbush Avenue at the end of 7th Avenue has a very blank wall on 7th Avenue. Often there are people selling things there and the wall is basically a pallet for graffiti and other art. Yesterday I decided to take some pictures.
















This is today's Google Street View. A picture taken when it was freshly cleaned and boring.


And here is a street view you can play with. 





You can't make a living finding MetroCards anymore (Updated July-2022)

September 2022 update

So, if you see below I might be getting myself in some sort of trouble by mailing in my MetroCards that need fixing or combiningOn Monday I happen to be way downtown so I walked into the Stone Street retail office of the MTA. I thought I'd be able to combine my metro cards there. I took a number and took a seat and waited for 5 minutes for my number to be called and I was disappointed to find out that all they would do was hand me an envelope.It would be really nice if there was a place that doesn't move around where you can go to combine your metro cards.


So yesterday I had a little bit of extra time and took the train up to Spanish Harlem to meet up with the MetroCard van. I got to admit I was a little worried when I saw this line. But it took about half an hour to get to the van because the staff was really on their toes.Both windows were staffed but they were also two people outside monitoring the lineAnd they walked up to people online and made sure they actually needed to get to the van so many people who are on line were simply handed the form they needed. When I got up to the van the guy inside was all business. He wasn't going to waste any time dipping metro cards into his machine that looked like they would be bent and would jam everything up.I turned my eight cards into two cards heading up to $14 and $12.

But again, this could have been done at Stone Street. Anyway, on the way home I treated myself to a pork bun at Canal Street and was surprised to get on this train from Canal Street Brooklyn Bridge.









More news from the summer of 2022


It's been a long time since I updated this. But, I do have some significant updates.First, since covid, MetroCard finding has changed a lot. They stopped selling cards in the booths So people cannot combine their cards very easily. So there are a lot more portions of fares on cards that are found, because people don't know what to do with them. People don't know they can take a card with 50 cents and add $2.25 to it at any metrocard vending machine, to make it useful. On the other hand since the people in the boots have nothing to do but stare into space I think some of them are actually getting out and cleaning the stations a little more.Maybe they're sweeping up the cards or maybe they're keeping them for themselves.

I have to go update the sidebar But I've been finding lots of cards. One of them was an unused monthly that expired and when I mailed it back they sent me a card with over $100 on it. But in general it's been hard to turn pieces of cards into actual usable metro cards. 

Going to the machine to refill it one at a time is kind of a hassle. And the machines actually don't work all the time.They really don't work for me because I can't dip with the credit card in and out as fast as a person with normal hands. I could travel throughout the city and find the metro card van.But that's kind of weird because I'm waiting online with people who just want to get their picture taken for their senior citizen metro card. I could bring them in a pile to the metro card office on Stone Street but all they do is hand you an envelope and have your mail them in. So lately I've just been mailing them to the MTA. They provide postage paid envelopes with a form you have to fill out as to what's wrong with your Metro card.
I've been just shoving 5 or 10 or 15 metro cards in one envelope and indicating that they all say see agent and letting them figure out what to do with them and including a little note that says please return them on one card.For the most part that has worked.I shove them all in one envelope to save the MTA some paper and a dollar on each envelope because that's what a business reply mail envelope cost them.

Then I got this letter
It says....  "Our investigation indicates that you have submitted an unusually high number of MetroCard claims. Please be advised that MetroCard Customer Claims provides services scaled to the consumption of MetroCards for personal use. An investigation of your claim history indicates that the number of MetroCards you submitted within a twelve (12) month period exceed the amount that could be considered personal use and creates an administrative burden that results in processing delays for other customers. Please be advised that intentionally submitting fraudulent claims for the express purpose of obtaining either reimbursement or a replacement MetroCard, will be reported to the New York City Police Department's (NYPD) Special Investigations Unit (SIU) for further investigation."

So they're telling me a few things at once.In the beginning of this complicated paragraph they tell me they're too busy to combine all the metro cards I send them. If I want to reply I would mention there's over 450 booths in the subway stations that are open 24 hours a day that have someone sitting there staring into space not selling or combining metal cards. 
But I'm not replying. I don't want to poke the bear and give them a chance to sick their special investigations unit on me.I will go back to bring my MetroCards Anonymously to the MetroCard vans. For the most part those people are friendly and happy to help me. 



Actually updated again July 31st 2020


I didn't think I'd be updating this blog again. But here I am. Since I got out of the hospital 6 years ago I have not been on the subway as much as I used to. Also,  the MTA smartened up and started charging a dollar if you need a new Metrocard.  Which means if you refill a MetroCard you can save a dollar. So a lot less people are discarding their empty or almost empty metrocards. Furthermore, many people are picking up MetroCards to save themselves a dollar when they need  to buy a new Metrocard.

That said, that doesn't mean I stopped finding metrocards. The streets full of them. People still drop stuff. Just a few weeks ago I was running a virtual 5K in Prospect Park and there was a MetroCard on the roadway. I asked my buddy to pick it up and he reported to me just now that it had $3.25 on it.  But MetroCards found in the street often take a beating. When I get to the subway they often say "see agent" when I run them through the scanning machine. But "see agent" does not mean garbage. When I get a handful of them I ask the token clerk for an envelope and I mail them back to the MTA. A few months later I get a letter in the mail with some MetroCards in it with random amounts on it. Sometimes $0.25 sometimes $5. Many times the other letter says that the cards were actually void or expired. A few times I got letters like the one I have a scan of here. Someone dropped a monthly card that they bought with their credit card. Because I mailed it back the MTA credited them back $55.

Probably final update, July 21, 2017.

Back in May 2014 I suddenly stopped taking the subway on a regular basis. About the same time the MTA started charging a dollar if you didn't bring them a Metro card when you wanted to put money on it. Now that I'm back taking the subway on a somewhat regular basis I've made an observation that there are a lot less Metro cards laying on the floor in subway stations. This could be because people are keeping their valueless Metro cards for refill purposes, or that people are picking them up to save a dollar and they need a new card, or that the MTA is doing a better job at cleaning the stations. In any case, I'm not finding subway stations with their floors strewn with MetroCards.

However, when I do find cards laying around the subway the ratio of how many have value on them is about the same as it was before 2014. Between 5% and 10% of the cards I find sitting on top of the vending machines have some money or some days of use left on them. Also, I'm still noticing the same amount of cards on the floor in supermarkets, parks or places that are not subway stations. Those cards are still worth bending down and picking up. Every time I do that I remind myself that there was three years where I couldn't bend down and pick them up.


Update, May 24, 2016

It's been a long time but I'm finally updating this.


It's kind of ironic but the MTA gave me a Metro card with my picture on it. I don't have to put money on it and it just comes loaded with eight swipes a day. I guess they'd rather have me on public mass transit then send an Ack-Stress o Ride to go get me. This past Saturday when I was approaching the starting line to the Brooklyn half Marathon there was a Metro car on the ground. I can bend down but it's hard to pick things up off the floor, so I compels my friend Josh to pick it up. He didn't need it so I wound up running the whole race with it in my pocket. I just checked it, and it's going to work till May 31. 



It has been a week since the fare went up and the MTA is collecting an extra buck if you don't refill you existing MetroCard.  The is not less litter.  In fact, I have seen many people pay the extra $1 for a new card when the top of the MVM is strewn with cards.  I also assume that I will start finding many $1.95 cards instead of $1.70 cards. People are just going to put $10 in the machine and get a $9.45 card.  After they ride 3 times for $7.50 they will toss the card with $1.95 on it.  (3-8-13)



The card to the above was found sitting
 on top of the scanner box.  It had $7.25 on it
.
So next week the MTA will start charging $1 if you need a new card.  I really don't think I will find any less.  People leave $45 cards on top of the MVMs because they are careless, not because they don't care about the money.  So instead of finding a lot of  $1.70 card I will find a lot of  50 cent cards.  (3-1-13)

The other day I watched a guy freak out as he was trying to swipe his way onto the subway.  He kept swiping cards and  could not get in.  He slammed a pile of cards on top of a payphone and stored over the the machine and bought a Single Ride.  After he went through the turnstile I check the value on those cards.  They added up to over $20, mostly $1.70 cards and a few larger cards that had recently expired.  People just don't know that they can go over to the booth and get them combined. (12-25-11)

Now the bonus is 7%.   $10 gets you $10.70 and the fare is $2.25.  But, 4 trips is $9.  With $1.70 left our the card there is no extra ride when someone buys a $10.00 card.  Since 2011 started I have been finding cards with $1.70 on them for every one that used to have a nickel on it.


In the sidebar of this Blog I list the sum of the value of the MetroCards that I find. If I find 5 or 10 cents in a given day I don't post it, I wait till it adds up to something worth typing.

I would like to point out that I believe that every MetroCard that I find was lost by somebody. They were not put there for me to find. On more than one occasion I found some valuable cards (Transit Check Gold) and moments after I scanned it at the reader I saw a desperate individual looking at the ground in a subway station. Asking that person if they lost their MetroCard and returning it to them was more satisfying that riding for free for the rest of the month.

I think the design of the MetroCard lends itself to getting drooped. It is the thinnest thing in your picket. If you keep it with your cash or keys it can slide out without being noticed. I would urge everyone who uses a MetroCard to use a MetroCard holder of some sort.

That said; finding value on MetroCards is like winning at gambling without the risk of loosing your own money.

If you are interested in doing this either for sport, competition or to save money or to supplement your income; here is some advice.
  • The further you are from the subway the more likely the card has value on it. The highest value cards that I have found have been in on the Brooklyn Bridge, on the courses of races, in the middle of intersections, in supermarkets, parks, etc. These were not drooped by careless litter bugs. Nobody would walk to the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge just to flick their MetroCard onto the sidewalk. It was dropped by somebody pulling their camera out of their pocket. So if you see a MetroCard in a place having nothing to do with the MTA, pick it up.
  • The cards just inside the turn-style are not worth picking up. I have seen countless slobs swipe their MetroCard with one fair left on it and drop it like they drop everything they have no more use for.In a subway station don't just look at the MetroCard Reader. Look on top of the MetroCard Vending machines. Look in the cracks in the vending machine. Look on the little shelf on the front of the "token booth". Especially the stations that do not have anybody working in them; the burgundy stations
  • Most of the cards I find in the subways station have 5 cents on them but many have $1.50 or some other amount under the subway fare. But like the lottery slogan, "Ya never know" sometimes there is $20 or more just sitting there waiting to be pickup. The upcoming increase in fare will obviously improve the quantity of cards with left over fare on them.
  • Many of the cards I find with more then $10 or $20 on them are "expired" I don't think many people know that you can exchange them for a new one
  • Follow the instructions on the card reader. If it says "Please Swipe Again", do it, just 2 or 3 times, then put it in the trash. If it says "See Agent" do that, but first try it again another day. That card probably has some value on it.
  • When it comes to combining MetroCards, don't over burden the "token clerk". It might be their job to combing MetroCards into a usable amount but some evoke unwritten "I can only combine 4 or 5 rule". Some have refused to help me at all because they said they have been on the ground. One clerk even told me her machine did not combine cards. I would not advise arguing with these people. They work in a bulletproof booth and it is an extra felony to "assault" them. They also have a pretty crappy job, there is no point in giving them a hard time.
  • If you look at the rest of my blog, you will see that I am a marathon runner. I run a lot. When I run, I make a point of passing through subway stations (I get some stair training). Also loops around Prospect Park can be a little repetitive. A larger loop can include many subway stations. The F train: Prospect Park and 7th Ave, the Q/B Train Parkside, Prospect Park and 7th Ave and the 2/3 Train Grand Army Plaza and Eastern Pky/Brooklyn Museum.
I once found a Transit Check Gold MetroCard. It worked for 3 and a half months. The original owner did not tell their payroll manager it was lost. But most of the monthly MetroCards I found did not work for as long as they should. The original owner contacted the MTA and reported it lost. They got a prorated refund. I was kinda glad.

Whenever I find a student MetroCard or a Senior/Disabled Card I hand it to the "token clerk". They are issued to specific individuals and it is against the law to use them.


Karma works both ways. If I ever see someone looking for a "swipe" to get them on the train, I always give them one. Also, I befriended a man in my neighborhood of little means (I don't believe he his homeless). We started talking about all the things that can be found. I told him I find lots of MetroCards. He did not even know what they were, he has not ridden mass transit in years he said. Now he picks up MetroCards and keeps them in his picket till he sees me. I do not give him the value on them. I give him 10 times the value on them or $10, whichever is greater.



I asked this question to the MTA:

Customer (******* ****) - 05/06/2009 12:18 PM
I read in the news that a man was sentences to jail time for bending metrocards.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/30/bent-metrocard-is-forgery-court-rules/

Are there any regulations against


1. Picking up discarded metrocards from the floor of a subway station or on the top of the metrocard testing machine?
2. Asking the booth attendant to combine them into a usable amount?
3. Using them for personal use?
4. Giving them to a friend or family?

This was the response I got:

Response (Melissa Glasgow) - 05/06/2009 03:21 PM
This is in response to your recent e-mail message to MTA New York City Transit regarding MetroCard.

As you may know, you may have uneven balances of several Pay-Per-Ride cards (that you have previously purchased and hold primary ownership of) moved to 1 card at the service booth of any one of our stations. You may only process 5 cards at a time (four old+ the one that the remaining values are being transferred to). This limitation exists to prevent fraudulent activity. You may also send your MetroCards to MetroCard, 2 Broadway, Room B11.59, New York, NY 10004. Due to fraudulent activity at our MVMs, this transaction/feature was removed from our MVMs, several years ago.

However, under the circumstances you have described, the station agent has the discretion to refuse to perform the transaction and summon NYPD Transit assistance, if he/she suspects fraudulent activity at our booths and/or turnstiles.

http://www.mta.info/mta/news/releases/?en=080625-NYCT85
http://www.mta.info/metrocard/termsunltd.htm

Thank you for having taken the time to contact us.

I asked what law I would be violating. The responded by telling me to submit a Freedom of Information Act request:

This is in response to your recent e-mail to MTA New York City Transit requesting information regarding the MetroCard tariff and the laws surrounding it.

Please be advised that the information you seek may be available under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). You must submit an electronic FOIL request to the appropriate MTA agency via the FOIL request page on the MTA website. If you send an electronic FOIL request in any other way or to the wrong agency, you will not receive the records you are seeking. You may submit an electronic FOIL request at www.mta.info/foil.htm. Be sure to select the appropriate MTA agency. Otherwise you may contact MUNY directly to investigate the feasibility if your request - http://www.mta.info/mta/aft/muny/

We hope this information is helpful and thank you for having taken the time to contact us.

Melissa Glasgow
Associate Staff Analyst

See more information in SubwayBlogger.com ,Yelp and The New York Post has an article about a women who finds cards. The New York times has a story about Single Ride Cards and refills. AM New York says the MTA is budgiting $48 Million in extra money from lost and unused MetroCards.  The Daily News thinks this is news.

Friday, July 15, 2022

me; unedited

This week I managed to make it to two different videos.  

First, my friend Chris is making some short videos about people who are disability rights advocates. Here is that interview. Please check out the video and subscribe to Chris's YouTube channel.      


And this Sunday I have volunteered to help organize The Disability Unite Festival. It's a free ticket at event that is going to take place at the Bandshell in Central Park.My role is to help people to getfrom the entrance of Central Park to the event.It's about a quarter mile walk but it's not that intuitive, Especially if you haven't been in Central Park before.So I'm organizing some volunteers to make sure people get from point A to point B and then at the end of the day back to point A. Earlier this week I did a walk through of that walk with the event director.I didn't think she was serious about making a video of me describing the walk but here it is.One take,No rehearsing not much thought before I opened my mouth. Enjoy


Travel Orientation Videos 
Our festival tour guide, Michael Ring, has made a series of short videos to help you navigate your way to the Festival’s Central Park entrance.

Video #1: Arriving at the Festival (72nd St & 5th Avenue) https://youtu.be/K6CIm3VW7ZQ

Video #2:- Directions continued 

Video #3 - We’re almost there…https://youtu.be/zwozaxJSdW0
There will be crossing guards present to assist at this cross walk.

Video #4 - You've arrived at the Festival! https://youtu.be/dt7NIRKSKiM

Friday, May 27, 2022

scratching and crawling my way out of a really deep hole, Brooklyn Half Race Report

Running Was easy this year because this is the hard thing that I did. 


image description of the photo to the left.There's two pictures of me... One is of me wearing my medal from the Brooklyn half marathon in 2016. I was morbidly obese. In the other picture I am approaching the finish line of the 2022 Brooklyn half marathon. 65 lbs lighter.

In the past 6 years I've changed from pvc ankle foot orthotics to carbon fiber. I've also had five surgeries on my hands to improve the function.

Guillain-Barre syndrome might have knocked me into a hole but I can choose not to stay there.

2022 Brooklyn Half 3:31:31
2016 Brooklyn Half 4:40ish


In 2016 I came back from being paralyzed 2 years earlier and finished the Brooklyn half marathon in 4 hours and 41 minutes.Earlier this week I finished that same race and 3 hours and 31 minutes. I honestly don't think that progress is such a big deal. To me it was inevitable. 

It was about 8 years ago this week that I moved into a regular hospital from the intensive care unit.. I met with a shrink a few times and we talked about what was important to me.. I wanted to be a good role model for my kids and she helped me work out a new way to do that.... I continually now want to show them that sometimes you have to crawl out of a big hole.

image description of above: A two-frame cartoon. In the first frame it shows a person on top of a mountain screaming I did it. In the second frame there's a person crawling out of a ditch saying I did it and there's a stick figure of a person falling into the ditch as well. Above the first frame it says the strength we're tought to admire Above the second frame it says the strength we should also admire.


Monday, May 2, 2022

Yes, I have a picture of my daughter

Recently, I was hanging out with a bunch of other grown-ups and we started talking about our kids.We started showing off pictures.What it was my turn, I opened my phone and showed a new picture of my son and his girlfriend and then a picture of my daughter and her girlfriend. I then hardly noticed that one of my new friends stepped away from the crowd. Later that person came over to me, and in a quiet voice said ,"When I was a little younger than your daughter I came out, and my parents made me leave the house....Things got a little better didn't they."

Yep to me it's as seamless as just another dad joke. 

Yeah, People ask if my twins are identical and I say no they are boy and a girl. And then they say well are they identical in personality. I say absolutely not. My son is a nerdy scientist who enjoys playing video games with his friends into the middle of the night and my daughter a politically active fashionista artist, They couldn't be more different. But they both like girls. 

So below is the entire text from my daughter's thesis statement. Click here for a link to a photos of the show mostly taken by my friend Larry.


to the left is a great painting of my daughter, Sabrina and her girlfriend, Julia.


and not for nothing but this is the second time Sabrina was a guest on my  blog. Back then I wasn't allowed to say her name or show her picture




Sabrina Ring’s Thesis Statement

Candidate for BFA Drawing, Pratt Institute, Spring 2022


My work celebrates sexual and gender eurphoria through queer imagery, community, drag and self expression. I am doing this through drawing as well as wearable, community based art.

I have been exploring the combination of early 2000's little girls’ media along with the queer and trans experience.  Little girls' media, toys, like Barbie and Disney princesses, as well as cartoons like Strawberry Shortcake and Spongebob. As well as iconic, fashion brands like Limited Too and The Children's Place, taught the children who were assigned female at birth of my generation about heteronormative gender roles and eurocentric beauty standards, all wrapped up in a colorful, cute pink glitter aesthetic. This is very confusing and challenging for young queer and trans people, who will never meet these standards. I reference this era of media though bright rainbow color, early 2000’s cartoon characters, peace signs, flowers, smiley faces and hearts, little girls plastic charms and beads, sparkles and more. Mixing this aesthetic with queer imagery is empowering, liberating and an act of resistance to these gender roles.


Drag to me is expressing a person’s gender and sexuality to the fullest extent. This includes performance in a queer nighlife setting, where you would expect to see drag, as well daily life. It varies from elaborate costumes to a T-shirt. Whatever is the truest expression of a queer person’s gender and sexuality, anytime and anywhere. It is all about the fantasy. Living your dreams by dressing up as exactly who you want to be, even if that is not really possible in a society that is patriarchal, heteronormative, and runs on white supremacy. This liberates the person in drag and helps other queer people feel comfortable celebrating their own identity, being unapologetically visibly queer. Expressing your true self no matter where and when is a small act of protest against heteronormative society.This idea is from the Ballroom scene that started in the 1960’s in Harlem and The Bronx, by the Black queer community*.

*Read more about this in And The Category Is…:Inside New York’s Vougue, House, and Ballroom Community by Ricky Tucker


Related to this idea is the stereotypical, hyperfeminine aesthetic of my work. I am pushing against the idea that queer women have to present as masculine or non binary peoplehave to present as androgynous. I thought lesbians had to be butch and only gay guys could be feminine, because I was exposed to that narrow representation in the media. Dedication to this feminine aesthetic and way of self expression for femme lesbians and non-binary femmes is a way to show that its ok to present your gender other than how straight society expects you to, and is an act of protest against this.


Chalk pastel drawings and oil paintings have imagery that include portraits, figures and still lives. With these drawings I want to elevate queer femme lifestyle to a traditional format of representational portraits. Celebrating and honoring it by putting it into the context of fine art that historically excludes and oppresses queer and trans people. Male artists are encouraged to exploit and sexualize AFAB* bodies through figure painting, For example, the reclining Venus and Odalisque paintings that you see from the renaissance to the 19th century.**

Making still lives with sex toys and stuffed animals instead of bowls of fruit and wine glasses, and boldy representing my sexuality through nude figure drawings is an act of protest against the exclusionaty tradition of art history, as well as a celebration of queer sexuality. 

*assigned female at birth

** read more about this in Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? by Linda Nochlin


Another part of my practice is centered around making wearable art for myself and the queer comunity, as a reference to drag. This includes hand embroidered and beaded clothing as well as silkscreened clothing and handmade jewelry. These are produced and sold, online as well as at queer-centered flea markets. All the funds are given to mutual aid supporting queer BIPOC. 

When people buy my clothing and jewelry they walk around wearing hand-crafted items that aggressively, unapologetically celebrate alternative queer and trans femme lifestyles. Showing everyone that its is OK to express your true gender and sexual identity. As well as monetarily supporting the members of our community who face oppression on multiple levels. The work has to support and uplift the community in a tangible way, not just illustrate it. By doing this I want to encourage people, especially the pratt community, what they could do to support people with less privilege then them. Redistribute your wealth! Give money to mutual aid and directly to queer BIPOC.


Lastly, my art is for queer people. I made the Go Home Breeders mixed media piece in order to contextualize my work for the cisgender straight white people in the Pratt community. To spell it out, GO HOME! This party is not for you, your feedback and opinion in the work is not wanted or helpful. Look, learn about my community, and respect our lifestyle that I have represented through my work. Consider and reflect on your privileges. Feel uncomfortable. And then give your time and money to support people who have less opportunities then you.

 


Mutual Aid Organizations to contribute to:

East Village Mutual Aid

Bed Suy Strong

The Gym

Bushwick Ayuda Mutua

Covid Bail Out NYC

The Okra Project

WSP Mutual Aid

Harlem Mutual Aid

Black Trans Liberation

QTMA.PVD

Brave Space Alliance



Thursday, April 21, 2022

What do statues of Nathan Hale and Christopher Columbus have in common? Nothing

This morning I spent about an hour hanging out on the steps of City Hall holding a sign while other people took a few minutes to yell at the government. (Actually most of the speakers were elected officials, and I don't know why they were yelling, they should be actually inside city hall doing something. But that is really a completely different topic.)

Well waiting to go through security so I could be near the steps of City Hall I realized that before 9/11 you can just go there and eat your lunch but now you need an appointment and a reason. I was kind of excited to snap this picture of the statue of Nathan Hale. Cuz I figured it was such a nice day I would walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and take a picture of Christopher Columbus on the other side in front of Brooklyn's Borough Hall

It was a nice walk.I think it's been the first time I've been up there since the cyclists got their own lane down on the roadway. The oblivious tourists up there had no idea what it was like when they were squeezed into half of that wooden sidewalk. I also noticed for the first time that the word Watchtower was replaced by welcome on top of the buildings in Dumbo. No more religious fanatics owning all that real estate and not paying taxes! And I also stopped to pee in the bathroom In Cadmen Plaza. It's a truly unremarkable bathroom but the fact that there is a payphone in the building that still has a rotary and a 212 area code is outstanding.

Oh, so you want to know what these statues have in common.They were made by different artists. But neither of these artists nor anyone ever recorded what Christopher Columbus or Nathan Hale actually looked like. So the artists got to make them look like whatever they wanted. Or maybe they were self-portraits. 


So to the left is a crappy picture I took of the statue of Nathan Hale.I could describe the image as a statue of a white guy dressed in what people wore in 1776.The statue is green and it is on a concrete platform. Behind the statue are lower Manhattan buildings. You could read more about the statue here as well as seeing more pictures. "Since no life portraits of the patriot spy exist, Frederick Macmonnies’s work offers a romantic interpretation of Hale"

To the right is the crappy picture I took of Christopher Columbus's statue in Brooklyn. It looks like a statue of a guy wearing a skirt.  Here is the official parks department story about the statue and its history. The pictures in that website aren't much better than mine. And here are different ways people like to draw Christopher Columbus. And by the way there are police barricades surrounding this statue and the other one in Central Park because Christopher Columbus was not such a nice guy

Friday, April 8, 2022

Why is the MTA punishing people for being disabled? [Actually, you can fight City Hall, (I mean the state house)]


So in September of 2018 I was going to publish this blog post. I left at hanging aroun, just waiting to see if I needed a little bit more leverage and getting things fixed. I did not.I went to MTA board meetings and complained about the fact that after losing your accessory Metrocard you had to go to the post office and get a money order to get it replaced. Getting a money order was punishment enough. But if you lost your metro card three times you'd have to wait 120 days to get a new Metrocard. 

After I use my 2 minutes of yelling time to complain about all the things I listed below, one of the head honchos from customer service took me out of the room and asked me to explain more about what my problem was and of the head honchos from customer service took me out of the room and asked me to explain more about what my problem was. He took me seriously and after a few months told me they were going to change the policy. 

And just talking about it we both realized that the punitive part of getting a new card made sense when they first gave out cards to people with disabilities so they can ride the subway and take buses for free.Back in the '80s and '90s these werecardboard cards. That can be used by anyone because all you had to do was wave it at the bus operator or token clerk and they would let you ride. But now we use MetroCards with electronics on them and they're disactivated when you report them lost. But the policy never changed. They want to discourage people from losing them and were afraid of fraud because the old one would work forever But now the old one is instantly deactivated when you report it lost.

Over the past couple of years I have a few friends that had lost their metro cards and they asked me what to do. Not knowing that I was very intimately involved in the procedure of what to do. I told him just to call the phone number for accessory ride and ask them what to. The answer was much better than my old answer. It was simply "We will mail you a new one."

And that's what happened to me last week. I didn't actually lose my card but it started to wear out. When I called customer service they told me to mail it back and they would send me a new one. I asked them what would happen if I just said I lost it. They said they'd start the process that day to mail me a new one and not wait for the broken one to come in the mail. So I said I needed to correct myself I couldn't find my card even though I knew it was damaged. That was 8 days ago and I got my new card in the mail today. I didn't have to wait 180 days and I didn't have to go to the post office and get a money order.


The blog post below was in draft mode since September of 2018.I never had a start I changed.org petition and I never even had to publish this post to threaten the change.org petition.

Also because of my persistence back in 2018 I was approached by the president of Disabled In Action. She invited me to some meetings and now I'm a board member of that organization.


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Placeholder for link to change.org petition

I'm definitely pausing the distribution of any online petition at this point. After testifying before the MTA board yesterday the feedback I got was that this is going to be fixed.A high-level mucky muck came over to me right after I spoke to get more details about this issue so "it can be corrected". Also, on my way out of the building and assisted to a mucky muck told me that while I was speaking a lot of people in the room were already texting each other on how to fix this problem. (9/25/2018)


If you live in New York City you must be pretty familiar with Access A Ride Vans. Those big white and blue Ford diesel vans that drive people with disabilities  all over the city. These vas basically exist because years ago the disabled people of New York sued the MTA because the world's largest subway system was built a long time ago and has a lot of stairs. It was cheaper to give disabled people door-to-door transportation then to make the system work for all the cities residents. With access ride disabled people are able to be picked up and brought anywhere in New York City for $2.75. That's the same price as a subway fare, but since we can't get on the subway we get to do it in a van.

Before I became disabled all I knew about it was that it's a thing that everyone who uses it complains about. Once I became dependent on it I honestly felt it wasn't that bad. Don't get me wrong, it has an enormous room for improvement but once I figured out how it works it wasn't the end of the world. In any case I became part of a pilot program where I was able to use the Curb app and make a yellow or green taxi appear within minutes and only pay $2.75.

All access ride customers are issued in access ride MetroCard it's good for four trips a day and no fare is collected. Here are all the details on that. It doesn't say why New Yorkers with a disability are issued a MetroCard that gives them free trips so it just leads me to speculate.

  • People with disabilities have good days and bad days and on a good day most of us would rather actually take the train or the bus. The MTA is helping some disabled people transition back to "normal".
AND /OR
  • Driving people around door-to-door in vans is very expensive. The MTA saves a lot of money when disabled people get on a bus or subway.

Either way I very happy to take mass transit on the days I've been able to climb stairs. Last year I misplaced my card (by "misplacing"I mean I thought I lost it, but eventually it turned up) and after I thought I looked everywhere I called the MTA and ask for replacement. They told me to get a postal money order for $10 and send and mail it to them. I thought this was a little archaic, but many of the other people who use access ride might not feel comfortable paying online, so I went down to the post office.. I got my card within a reasonable amount of time and moved on with life. Unfortunately, in the past year this happen two more times. The third time it happened I actually found my MetroCard before they sent me my replacement. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it still worked and as soon as I got off the subway I called the MTA and told them I found it. They told me I was lucky because if it would have been of turned it off I would've had to wait four months for the new one to be sent to me. I thought this was a bizarre rule but I was happy that I dodged the bullet. However, two days later my card stop working. I called access ride and they said no matter what anyone said as soon as I said it was lost it needed to be turned off and could not be turned back on I had to wait 120 days. Below, is the rule that explains that.


Q. Where do I report a lost or stolen AAR MetroCard?

A. Immediately report a lost or stolen card by calling AAR at 1-877-337-2017.  NYC Transit will reissue lost or stolen  cards at its discretion after receipt of a $10 replacement fee.  After replacement of three or more lost or stolen cards, NYCT will impose a 120-day waiting period before reissuing another card.  This waiting period will also be imposed for the replacement of any subsequent cards.  Payments must be made in the form of a USPS® Postal Money Order payable to MTA New York City Transit and mailed to NYC Transit, Paratransit Division, Eligibility Unit, 130 Livingston Street, Brooklyn NY 11201.

I complained up and down the line that I felt I was being penalized for losing things.If I'm paying for the replacement why do I have to wait?  I honestly gave up on having an exception made for me because I was okay waiting 120 days. I was able to use the Curb app and when I'm able to bus drivers always let me on the bus because the card I have is not expired. Also, the staff at subway stations (including the police) open the gate for me when I show them my valid card. So, and by complaining about this policy I made it clear I wasn't asking for an exception I was asking for a change in the rule because not everyone who is disabled is going to feel that they could ask for help from the bus drivers and the subway staff to aid them in transportation needs. I really got nowhere with this complaining. Everyone thought I was trying to ask for an exception and reminding me that these were the rules.

I also lost my drivers license. Not that I drive anymore, but it was the enhanced federal version of the New York State drivers license. It was the type of card that can get me across the border into Canada or onto an airplane. I called the DMV and all I had to do was give them my credit card number and let them take about $21 for my account and I got a new one mailed to me. No trip to the post office no waiting 120 days if I lost it more than twice.

Then it occurred to me that  friend uses her credit card to refill her MetroCard at a vending machine and so do hundreds of thousands of people on a regular basis. If she were to lose her card she can report it to the MTA and get a prorated refund. Here's the website  it doesn't say anything about paying for replacement card or waiting 120 days if it happens more than twice.The first time you make a claim there is no charge. The second time there is a five dollar charge. The MTA will only efix your card twice a year.

And then there's the program where your credit card is automatically billed to your MetroCard works forever (or until the piece of plastic expires and then they send you a new one). Below are the details on that.


Q. What if my EasyPayXpress MetroCard is lost or stolen? 

A. You must immediately report your EasyPay MetroCard lost or stolen online at www.easypaymetrocard.com or call our Automated Telephone Service 24/7 at1-877-323-RIDE (7433). We will deactivate your card to protect you from unauthorized charges. Failure to report your MetroCard lost or stolen may result in unauthorized fares which you will be responsible for. You will not be liable for unauthorized EasyPay MetroCard use that occurs AFTER you notify EasyPay MetroCard, electronically, verbally or in writing, of non-operation, loss, theft or possible unauthorized use. We will send you a replacement card in the mail. Please allow 15 business days for processing.  
So here's the thing. Speaking for myself I can definitely say that people with disabilities are more likely to lose things than the general population. My disability affects my hands the most. I often drop things without knowing it. I've been hanging out with a lot of people with disabilities lately visual impairments and other cognitive issues. I'm pretty sure researches been done the disabled people or more likely to misplace things than the general population.

So why is there a trip to the post office and a 120 waiting period when a person with a disability needs to replace their MetroCard and all a person in the general population has to do is pick up the phone?

Thursday, March 31, 2022

images of my one day trip to Albany

This morning I made a one-day trip up to Albany. As is my right I wanted to take some time and yell at my government.This morning's yelling was about trying to keep people out of nursing homes and eventually getting sick and dying. But this blog post is not really about that. It's about the things I saw..

Before I got on Amtrak I got to go into the new Moynihan Hall. It is the new western extension of Penn Station. It is brand new and to see some great pictures of it click this. I also rode the Amtrak from New York City to Albany. It is arguably one of the most picturesque railroad trips you can make.For virtually the whole ride you are right up against the Hudson River. On my ride home I had a 200 mile view of the sun setting. I even got to see West Point. Click here for a video of what my trip was like. 

Most of the rally was held outdoors in Empire State Plaza. I've only been to Albany a few times and every time I go I'm reminded it is the bleakest place I've ever been to. But after one spends some time In the architectural heart of Albany, one realizes it's more than just bleak. One of the people I was with said it was Soviet architecture. But when I looked at it I thought it was more Romulan. Here are some great photographs.

We actually got inside of the capital and we're able to make some noise.We all got in through different entrances and had to go into the building on different routes but we would told to meet in the war room. I thought the war room was analogy for something, a place where we would discuss our strategy. It was actually a room called The Wall Room. It was a room full of pictures and art depicting war and violence and warriors Here are some more great pictures

But, and I know you've been waiting for it I did take one actual photograph. Between the Amtrak station in Rensselaer and the bus stop where we waited for the bus to go to Albany There was an old building that looks like it used to be a firehouse and now it was converted into a restaurant. 


From a distance it looked like another bleak Albany building. But the words on top really made me happy.

It Says E.F. HART HOSE, But when I looked at it quick I thought it said eFart House. 

After seeing a sign on a building that said eFart House I know I was going to have a good day.


Monday, March 21, 2022

Overheard at the Start of the NYC Marathon Tune Up (updated 14 years later)

So I wrote the blog post below 14 years ago. I was a different person in many dimensions back then. 

But, yesterday for the first time in 16 years I paid for the New York City Half Marathon.It is a new course and very photogenic. A lot of people were taking a lot of pictures along the way. I didn't need those touristy pictures.I know what the Brooklyn Bridge looks like from the Manhattan Bridge. And if I want to picture of Time Square I can buy a postcard. 

But along the way I wanted one picture. 

8 years ago I was in NYU Langone Hospital.I wanted a picture of the hospital window I looked out of at the FDR Highway. From the room where I had a weird medical procedure called plasma exchange, and off-label non-FDA approved chemotherapy. I looked out at the East River and the FDR Highway a lot.I just
wanted a picture of me looking back at that window. And Josh took the picture before I got a chance to pose and it came out better than I even thought it would. Because I'm just running by. 

Yeah,Here's the other picture.Both of us with our medals.Josh didn't pay for his race, but that doesn't mean he ran for free. He was working very hard.








And by the way, here is continuing evidence that GPS devices are useless in the canyons of cities  

This was originally published in September of 2008...........

My name was changed to protect the innocent Person #1: It is kinda humid today just like the Nike Half Marathon in August Person #2: Yea, I did that, but I did not want to pay $75 to be in a Nike commercial, I just started in the back and had a good time. Person #3: Me too, I did not pay and I even got a medal. Person #2: I got 2 medals and sold them both on EBay. Cheers and laughs from the rest of crowd! Race Starts...

This is not me

This is not me
Not me.

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