Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas 2005

No pictures from Christmas since I forgot the memory card to my digital camera. Boo hoo! I am waiting for members of my family to email their pics to me. Boo hoo!

...Days later...

Wait, a member of la familia sent pics. Here's another one of our (in)famous group pics. They are always the same at the holidays: same family members with just different clothes on. Of course, our family grows and we are delighted to welcome new ones to the group.

Thank goodness Ate G is all the way in the back. Hopefully, she's not causing trouble by tickling people while the shot is getting taken...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Only Been to 5% of the World! Ack!!

Check out one of Douwe Osinga's really cool projects. Below are countries in the world I have traveled to. It makes me realize that I really have to jump back on the traveling bandwagon. I missed my new country this year because of school...I'm sooo pissed that I broke a special promise to myself!!

My hope is to perhaps see two new countries in 2006. One will definitely be a three-week trip to Ghana to visit E who I met on the Inca Trail 3 years ago. There's a possibility that I might go to Tuscany, Italy and stay with newly married friends who are renting a villa for 3 weeks in March.

Top 5 Places JoJo Desires to Visit:
1. Vietnam
2. Australia/New Zealand
3. Italy
4. Costa Rica
5. The Pacific Islands of Fiji, Tahiti, and Easter Island

So little money, not enough time, and always stuck workin' for the man. * heavy sigh*

Below is a map of where I've been in the US and I must admit, that TX, MI, OH, and a lot of southerns states south of VA are due to airport layovers or driving through en route to FL. Missouri is a "real" visit though; I have family there and I helped facilitate a one-week college workshop for Native American high school students at Wash U back in 1999. If you take away these states and the Southwest, and add OR, it would look quite similar to the last presidential election. Ha! Can you tell I'm a flaming liberal??? 'Nuf said.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transit Strike Day #3

Day 3 of the strike: another walk across the Queensboro. It's amazing how we are all creatures of habit. I saw the same blonde guy in a black leather jacket rollerblading past me as I left my apartment and started my walk the exact same time I did yesterday. Made the same time I did yesterday to the office too. Amazing!

I adjusted my clothing appropriately for today's walk. Instead of wearing my lovely 2/4 length, camel colored coat, I wore my windbreaker on top of a t-shirt. What a difference -- I no longer felt encumbered!

These pictures are taken at the foot of the Queensboro Bridge, on the Manhattan side. The Red Cross Disaster Relief van provided hot chocolate for all commuters during the strike and I believe they were at other bridges in the city as well. Too bad I can't take in chocolate and sweets! Dang.

These last two days in the office, I've been battling with my self-discipline in not eating an awesome chocolate cupacke from the Buttercup Bakeshop made available by a colleague who was given a half dozen yesterday. There were 3 remaining in a box he left behind in the office refrigerator at 9am this morning, untagged (When you don't put your initials on food in the office fridge it means that anyone can lay claim to the food. And trust me, the people in my office are not shy about eating and taking...ha!). And I must admit, my resolve broke down by 10 am and I ran to the refrigerator and found that all the cupcakes were gone! The person who took the last cupcaked didn't even have the courtesy to toss the box from the fridge (no home training, seriously)! So I walked away and just helped myself to some water. Bah! Now, I've been jonesing for one of their red devil cupcakes. Ugh. I can't take it!!! Sooooo good!!

By the time I left the office at 3:45, the strike was declared over and transit workers were returning to work. By late this evening, I heard the usual rumble of the N or W train by my apartment. It's a welcome sound.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Transit Strike Day #2

So I decided to go the office today. Otherwise, for every day I not come into work will be counted as a vacation day. And you know how precious my vacation days are to me! I thought it would also be a neat adventure. I'm a native of Queens but never walked across the Queensboro (not as pretty as walking across the Brooklyn Bridge so one is not missing much, trust me) and I always toyed with the idea of walking to work or at least biking (when I finally own a bike) so I took the strike as an opportunity to experience something new, walk with my fellow borough folks to work, and take pictures in the meantime. At least I would have some sort of intersting answer when people will ask me years later what I did in the 2005 subway strike. I also wanted to see what Manhattan looked like too. And the only way I was going to find out was to walk there.

To the right is a (dark) shot as I began the trek onto the Queensboro. The next pic is of the East River and Roosevelt Island, a residential area which sits right in the middle of the River. Manhattan is behind the buildings in the forefront.

Anyway, the walk door-to-door is a mere 3.3 miles. That's nothing! My thrice weekly power walks in Central Park (which I've not done in weeks!) were 4 miles on uneven terrain so walking across the Queensboro Bridge should be a piece of cake. And I'm happy to admit that it was! Subway or no subway, I left at my usual time at 8:45am and the entire walk took 45 minutes. My bosses were just pleased that I could make it and didn't care if I was late.

Thank goodness for those fitness walks! It was great to zip past pedestrians and even those on bikes who had difficulty peddaling uphill on the bridge. It was also really interesting to see cars filled to capacity since a car was not allowed into the city with 4 passengers or less. I had several offers for a ride since drivers were desperate to get into the city and picked up pedestrians for free. See this NY Times article about how strangers are thrown together in cars. Although it would've been interesting to get into a car with total strangers and feel completely safe, my commute was so short that I would find myself jumping out of the car once I got past the pleasantries. Anyway, I wanted to get back into the swing of power walking and doing 6.6 miles a day would prepare my body for all the food I would be eating for Christmas and New Year! I felt in tip-top shape although this morning I wore my nice camel coat. Tomorrow, I think I'll wear my windbreaker since I arrived in the office sweating like a pig!!

Changed out of my sweaty t-shirt and windpants into a something a little more acceptable for the office although it was still on the casual side. Half of my colleagues who made it all wore sneakers, including myself. With a shortened day, I worked what I could and left before it got dark at 3:45. Although I knew I would be perfectly fine, I still did not want to walk through the industrial parts of Long Island City in the dark. The area is just a bunch of big, somewhat desolate and dimly lit sidewalks with warehouses.

Above is a shot of the line for the Q60 bus, a line owned by a private bus company, that runs between Queens and Manhattan. The line ran the lenghth of entire city block and wrapped around two more corners. Madness! I thought of taking the bus back home but when I saw this line, I realized that it would be faster for me to walk than wait. To the left, a detail of the Queensboro reflecting the light from sunset. Below, the UN building with the sun setting behind it.

Since I needed to leave early, I couldn't find the time to leave the office and walk to Madison and Fifth Avenues. These two avenues were designated for emergency vehicles and not open to other vehicles. It was virtually empty and many people took advantage of walking down a usually busy street. Unfortunately, I was not one of them. No worries. I walked down an empty Fifth Avenue once, immediately after the Saint Patrick's Day parade before the avenue opened up to traffic.

I'm not miffed about the strike at all. The entirely new adventure into the city was well worth it. And isn't this what life's about? New opportunities and experiences?