Cyling with a GoPro Hero 7 Black

Testing out the GoPro Hero 7 Black at night.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I bought a GoPro Hero 7 Black. We’d been thinking about making the purchase for about a month and finally decided it’s something we’d enjoy having, and it has been kind of fun being able to record most or at least some of our rides. The battery life leaves something to be desired, but we solved that by just buying more batteries and another charger.

Like driving, cycling in New York City was something I said I would never do. Also like driving, cycling is now a regular part of my daily routine. I’ve found that riding a Citibike is easier as the last leg of my commute than waiting on the L train or taking the bus. It’s also faster, which is kind of sad. Maybe that will change when 14th Street is closed to all but bus traffic at the beginning of next year. Who knows? But we’ve also found using Citibikes to be a faster and more enjoyable way to get around Lower Manhattan when we’re out on the weekends. And it’s exciting, and having a camera on your head to record the rides is also fun, especially if something crazy happens.

My wife has used the camera a few times but every time I’ve wanted to over the last two weeks it has either been raining or I just haven’t had time to bother with it. I finally took it for a spin last night. The video looks great on my phone while watching both the local video and the YouTube upload, after it finished encoding at 1440p. It looks like crap on my laptop, but I don’t think it can display 1440p anyway, which is annoying, but that wasn’t why I bought it, I guess.

It’s a nice new toy. I’m thinking about getting another one so we don’t fight over the one we have. I kind of want a Pixelbook too though, so I have a more portable typing device that I can take with me when I’m out of the apartment. Decisions, decisions.

Here’s another video I took in the Union Square train station. It looks clearer, which makes sense given that there’s more light in the station.

My head wasn’t in the helmet when I recorded this. You’d have to be crazy to lean in that close to a train coming into the station. People get hit by trains every day. Someone died on the platform near where I recorded this a few years ago after they leaned out to check for the train and the train struck their head. That was pretty sad, because it was just a kid.

No pole dancing allowed

Museum Challenge: The New York Transit Museum – Fun and Interesting

Of all the museums I’ve visited in New York City, the New York Transit Museum was the most fun, even though it’s also (so far) the smallest. The museum is designed in a way that allows for interaction with many of the exhibits. There was a whole class of children on a field trip playing with the turnstiles when I first got there. I think the museum staff was aiming for making the place a popular field-trip destination. Besides all of the interactive exhibits, there is also a cafeteria/classroom area.Just because it was set up for kids doesn’t mean it can’t be fun for adults too, though.

Students on a field trip trying out old subway turnstiles.

Students on a field trip trying out old subway turnstiles.

Just because it was set up for kids doesn’t mean it can’t be fun for adults too, though. On the first floor or first basement level, depending on how you look at it, there are old buses or portions of buses that you can walk into and sit in. The driver’s seats are accessible and you can have a friend take your photo through the windshield. The newer buses are definitely designed better. The driver’s seat and the angle of the pedals were much more comfortable than an older model I tried out, which required me to keep my leg elevated all the time to press the pedals. I have no idea how people actually drove those older buses all day. Their right legs must have been twice the size of their left legs.

The bottom floor of the basement is where all of the old train cars are. They had everything from A trains, supposedly mid-90s to 2010 (some of which I still see on the A line, not sure why it’s in the museum), to trains from the early 1900s. A lot of the train cars looked similar inside. Even some of the same advertisements spanned decades. It was interesting to see how the seat configurations changed over time. I also thought it was interesting to see ceiling or rotating fans in some of the older train cars. Once a year, New York City runs some of these older trains on the 7 line (I think).

Vintage train advertisement.

Vintage train advertisement.

What really interested me, though, were the old advertisements. I’d like to go back and just spend a few hours studying them. You can tell a lot about people during a certain time period based on the products they were buying and how the appeals made by advertisers were framed. It’s also just neat to see the artwork styles.

Signage meant to regulate passenger behavior.

Signage meant to regulate passenger behavior.

 

More signage meant to regular passenger behavior.

More signage meant to regular passenger behavior.

Another awesome exhibit in the museum is of signs meant to regulate the behavior of passengers. The signs are from multiple transit systems around the world. Some of them are hilarious; all of them are necessary. Or at least, the ones for the New York transit system are necessary. I remember being shocked by how clean the trains and buses in Singapore were when I first moved there. The trains were so clean that sometimes people would sit on the floor, something that is totally out of the question in New York City trains. The buses in New York City are usually just as filthy as the trains. People litter everywhere here; they spit everywhere here. It’s a shame. The city would be so much nicer if people would take care of it, but they don’t. They just complain about how dirty the city is while contributing to the problem.

Anyhow, the New York Transit Museum is pretty awesome and I’ll definitely be going back at least one more time in the future. Take a look through the photo gallery below for more images of exhibits in the museum:

 

The New York Transit Museum

Tickets!? Got your tickets!? (AirTrain from Newark to Penn Station)

When we were on our way back from our vacation in Georgia, I realized that I’d accidentally selected a return flight that would have us landing at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. I didn’t realize this until we were at Hartford International Airport in Atlanta, checking in. I couldn’t figure it out at first. When I picked these tickets, I’d selected to see only flights for “NYC” on the website. Why would the Delta site show Newark in New Jersey as a NYC airport? It’s not even the same state!

AirTrain Newark Description

AirTrain Newark Description

So, while we were sitting in Hartford, waiting on our flight, we had to do a quick check to see what sort of transportation was available from Newark into the city. I did NOT want to spend 70+ dollars on a taxi. Luckily, there was another, affordable option: the AirTrain. On the website, it looked fairly new and the tickets weren’t that expensive. It’s been a few weeks, but I think they were only 11 dollars apiece to get to Penn Station.

The thing is, the site is a little misleading. I saw that shiny train and thought that’s what was going to take us to Penn Station. The reality is that it just drops you off at another train platform where you get on this old-timey looking train where conductors come through the cabs hollering to see your tickets.

Old NJ Transit train from Newark to Penn Station.

Old NJ Transit train from Newark to Penn Station.

I couldn’t help but think of that scene in the Indiana Jones movie where Jones threw the bad guy off the zeppelin and then told the stunned crowd that he didn’t have his ticket.

Train tickets

We had our tickets!

Train tickets clipped to the back of the seat in front of us.

Train tickets clipped to the back of the seat in front of us.

It wasn’t a bad experience. It’s really convenient, even. But, from now on I’ll definitely be double-checking that the travel websites are actually showing me NYC airports that are in NYC. Landing at Newark, as opposed to landing at LGA, added about an hour to our total travel time.

That Damn L-Train

Friday morning I had an adventure with the L-Train.  Sort of an adventure.  Well, mostly it was just a pain in the ass that made me late for class.  There was something wrong with the 7 train, so all of the people that normally take the 7 to get into Manhattan were taking the L.  I didn’t know this, of course, until after I was already in the station and on the platform.  I don’t have to take the L.  I could just take the bus from Avenue B to Union Square.  The L is usually a bit faster though.  Sometimes I’ve stood around for 20 minutes waiting on a bus, only to see three of them show up at the same time.  The L is usually more reliable.  Usually.  But when it fucks up, it really fucks up.

So, like I said, I swiped my card, walked through the turn-style and then down to the platform.  I stopped for a moment to take in the huge crowd of people.  They were packed in tight from the edge of the platform back, with barely enough space for people to squeeze through behind them.  That should have been my first indication that something was wrong, but I rarely ever take the train that early in the morning.  This was at 8:30 AM.  I have one class per week that starts in the morning and it only meets once per week.  Anyway, I took my position at the back of the crowd and waited.

About 10 minutes later, a train arrived.  The doors opened and people came flooding out, trying to push through the crowd.  Before they’d finished getting out, people were fighting to get in.  You know how it is.  The person running the train is playing the “Please stand clear of the closing doors” message before people even finish walking off the train.  Before I’d even managed to take one step forward, the people boarding were fighting to hold the doors open while they got onboard.  I got to the front and realized I couldn’t squeeze in, no matter how I tried, so the doors closed and the train left.

Ok.  That was disappointing, but I could just get the next train right?  Wrong.  About 10 minutes later another train approached the station.  Then it left the station, without even stopping.  Damn.  By this point, I was thinking I should have just taken the bus.  I’d have been at Union Square by then.  But I thought that by the time I got out of the subway and got to the bus stop, and rode the bus, another train would come and I’d waste even more time.  Besides, I wasn’t sure I could manage to get some sort of pass and I didn’t want to pay again.  I didn’t have an unlimited card.  So, I just waited.

15 minutes later another train finally showed up.  People streamed out of it, and then the crowd surged in.  I grabbed the pole in the middle of the train, between the doors and listened to a girl next to me screaming about some asshole who threatened her.  She had stepped off the train to let people out, and when she tried to get back on, someone stupid got confused and thought she didn’t have a right to get back on ahead of him.  Morons.

So, I was finally underway.  Maybe I wouldn’t be too late.  Or so I thought.

The train pulled into the next station, 3rd Avenue, and the conductor got on the intercom and told us that the train would be bypassing Union Square and not stopping until 8th Avenue. What the fuck?  So, I managed to get ONE station before having to get off the train and walk anyway.

When I got to Union Square I got in line at the ticket booth just in time to watch an old man scream at the guy for not letting him back into the train station for free after he had a problem with the L Train.  He screamed “Fuck you!” and then stomped over to the turn-style and paid again to get into the station.  That wasn’t very reassuring.  When I got up the counter, I presented my case, and for being courteous I was let into the station without having to pay again.  A small blessing.

So… to get from 1st Avenue to Union Square took me almost an hour Friday morning.  Thanks to the L train.  And the fun and games didn’t stop there.  By the time I got to the school I was thirsty, but all I had was a 20 dollar bill and the café and cafeteria wouldn’t give me change, so I had to leave the campus again, back the way I came, to go to a convenience store to get a drink.  What fun.

Luckily, when I got into the classroom, no great fuss was made about my being late.  Word of the 7 and L trains’ problems had preceded me.  I think from now on I’ll just take the bus, or walk, to Union Square.  The L train is too much of a pain in the ass to even bother with.

Boba Fett Spotted Playing Accordion on the L-Train Platform at Union Square

Ya. Really.

Boba Fett playing accordion on the L Train platform at Union Square.

Look to the left…

Boba Fett playing accordion on the L Train platform at Union Square.

Look to the right…

Play Zelda on your accordion all damn night!

This guy is awesome.  A quick Google search shows that he’s been doing this for over a year and he’s had a lot of Internet exposure (obviously) on YouTube and other blogs by people that have spotted him ‘in the wild’.

When I came down the stairs to the L Train platform and heard the accordion music, it sounded vaguely familiar and a little strange.  It wasn’t until I got home and Googled the guy that I realized it was Zelda music.  There are a lot of acts in New York’s subway station, but this is the best one I’ve seen so far.

Just to elaborate on that a bit, going through the subway is becoming more and more like taking a journey through a road show.  On my commute home today, I got to hear a speech from a pregnant woman on a train about how she’s trying to find help and was looking for handouts.  I got to hear an elderly black gentleman strum some country chords on a guitar, I heard some gospel music being sung, and then there was this guy.  Out of those acts, though, Boba Fett is the clear winner.

Oh, and as if this wasn’t bizarre enough, I saw a squirrel today on CCNY’s campus that was carrying around a shopping bag.  I guess consumerism is finally starting to rub off on New York City’s wildlife.