Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Broadway, Finished

The other day, I saw this beautiful palm on sale at Lowe's while walking down my final segment  of Broadway. It was 20% off from $15 regular price. I couldn't resist it. I aborted the walk, bought it and took it home on the bus.  And the apartment now looks more like home for it.

So, that's how my trekking Broadway came to an end. I've covered it from Colombia University to Union Square. And it only took a month! How pathetic is that? I could've easily cover it in a day in my healthy days -- it's only 5 miles. But walking 10 streets at a time just about takes forever.

Broadway actually starts from Battery Park. It then becomes Hwy 9 in Upper Manhattan and goes on endlessly Beyond Yonkers. It's not going to be worthwhile trekking all of it, even if I could. But I should at least trek it to Battery Park. The lower portion is especially historic since the Dutch days. But it takes over 30 minutes on subways for me to get to Union Square, so I'll leave it for another day. For now, there are other interesting Avenues to explore. Next up, Park Avenue.

Above 97th, the train track from Grand Central comes above ground on Park Avenue. And Harlem effectively begins from there, whereas you have to go above Colombia University on the West Side. I've done Harlem, so there is no point doing it again on Park Avenue. So my exploration will start from 97th. It again ends at Union Square and then splits into Broadway and 4th Avenue which becomes Bowery after a few blocks. Bowery is another historic Avenue, so I should trek it too. Eventually. Will I be able to make it before we start our journey back West? We'll see.

Here is a pic from Bethesda Fountain in the central portion of Central Park, BTW. We spent yesterday afternoon there and the cloud after the storm the day before looked particularly beautiful:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

American Ballet Theater

Been there, done that. It's been one month since we arrived in NYC and the novelty is fading. My activity has been dropping too, from 60,000 steps a week to 40,000. In other words, I'm back to normal. My crash threshold has dropped as well. Running some errands in the morning and then walking a little over 1 km in the afternoon on 6/9 was enough to cause two day crash. That was only 9000 step day, quite a drop from 5/19 when I walked 16,000 steps and survived the next day.

This phenomenon is not unique to CFS patients. Healthy people can also tolerate higher level of activities while they travel, only to succumb to post-trip blues when they return to routine life. The effect is only more pronounced for CFS patients because their normal activity level is severely curtailed to begin with and, therefore, the marginal increase is proportionally higher relative to the base level. And there is that ever lurking danger of paying much heavier price than healthy people after the trip if you are not mindful of your limit.

The post-trip blues is commonly misunderstood as a mental depression rather than a physical one. They are not taking into account the elevated activities during the trip and its post-trip effect. (Asians got it right -- they call it trip poison 毒, not post-trip depression). And this phenomenon is not limited to trips either. After a stressful project is over, it is common for people to suffer from a funk for a few days. I certainly had my share of that in my previous life. This again is caused by the elevated activities, well tolerated while you are stressed, coming home to roost after the stress is over.

The evening out for Swan Lake at Lincoln Center was an antidote for the encroaching ennui. My jaw dropped when the princess Odette walked in in the 2nd act. How is it even possible to move like that? It was truly a stunning display of motional art.  And she was only a substitute -- the principle dancer apparently injured herself and was unavailable.  Maybe she got injured while practicing jumping off the cliff in the final act. The story, on the other hand, is just another second hand children's fable of princes, princesses and the wicked sorcerer.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Shopping for a New Camera

The first thing I did this morning was to turn on the air conditioner. It's going to be a scorcher in the city today. The forecast predicts 93F and it's already over 90 at 10AM. Scaffolding, eyesores that are all over the city, are now providing welcome relief from the sun.

I seemed have recovered from a mini crash after the long walk from 86th to 100th last Friday. It's just hard to resist to keep going when you are feeling better and weather is nice. And I paid the price for it by spending most of time horizontally for the past two days.

So, I walked out of the apartment this morning to check out the Consumer Report in the library. Yeah, it's one thing or the other. Now that I'm done with the apartment search, I'm starting a search for a new camera. My 15 year old Pentax still shoots decent pictures. But it's hopelessly fuzzy when magnified compared to an average cellphone cameras these days. Since I'm on a cross country trip, I can make a good use of a better camera.  And, after a week of search, I'm settling with Panasonic GX-85. It's compact and light, yet versatile enough to shoot full length 4k video. GH4/5 is more capable video shooter, and highest rated in Consumer Report, but it's also much bulkier. I need something I can toss around all the time to shoot whenever I please. I'm just tired of getting in and out of the car with a bulky DSLR hanging on my shoulder. The only real problem with GX85 is that its jpeg pictures look washed out. But they say that shooting in RAW mode remedy that problem. So I'll take a chance with it.

Morningside Library

Every time I walk out I'm reminded that this Morningside is a real nice neighborhood. Uptown from 80s to 90s are more mainstream, it's true. But quieter Morningside has more bookshops and roadside cafes. And libraries too. It has more neighborly character. You only need to trade the distance -- it takes 25 minutes to Pen Station -- for that ambiance.

The rest of the day we spent in the shade in the conservatory garden of Central Park away from the burning concrete.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Night Out in Hell's Kitchen

I stayed home and rested all day yesterday. By evening, I was getting too bored. So we took subway to the 50th station and walked to 9th Ave, despite my plan to rest all day. This is where Hell's Kitchen is famous for: lots of bars and restaurants. We walked around for a while and then settled in a Brazilian restaurant for a drink.  On the way back, we walked through Times Square for the night light and we were home by 11:30PM.  I once again registered 9000 steps.

Type A personality is common among CFS patients, they say. I am no exception.  I feel bad if I stay home all day. I have to get out at least every other day, or I feel terribly dismal. That's why I took chance and kept walking even when I was the sickest back in 2008 and 2009 despite I was keep getting post-exertional sickness. At least till I got completely bedridden in 2009 after the overly-ambitious climb up Coit Tower. I'm not getting sick as often these days only because my tolerance went up, not because I'm more disciplined. And it's easier to be disciplined when you have some room to breathe.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Long Island

NYC seems to go on forever. But once you are out of Queens, it is mostly a suburb. Beyond that, it's almost rural. And Oyster Bay is not that far from the edge of Queens. Neither is Jones Beach from JFK where we stopped to recharge Tesla.

We were gonna make it as far as Montauk, but I gave up after we hit the roadblock on the way to Fire Island from Jones state park. You see it in the map, but the road beyond Western Fire Island was open only to the park officials. To get to the main part of the preserve, we had to turn back, go back up and then drop down to the other side. That was too much work and it was getting past 2 PM, so we left the eastern part of the Long Island for another day. Still the traffic and navigation was a  murder and it was after 8PM once we got back and I returned the car to the garage. That we stopped in Flushing and shopped H-Mart may have something to do with it. Charging in Syosset was terribly slow too.

Jones State Park and Fire Island was part Florida Keys and part Bayou. The low land with lots of water, bridges and white sands. If it weren't for the traffic, it would be a heck of thing to have that  only 40 miles away from Manhattan. But the traffic and $17 toll took a toll on me, literally, that I don't think I will make the trip too often.

Sagamore Hill, on the other hand, wasn't much of anything. It's a historic site, it's true. I'm familiar with it; I've read two different versions of TR biography. If you remove the historic significance though, it's not a striking place to visit. Oyster Bay seems to be an affluent neighborhood though. The road up to it is dotted with mansions and estates.

And, yes, another 10,000 step day. I've already registered 53,000 steps this week and I still have one more day to go. Now I'm regularly breaching 42,000 steps that I set as the safe level. Yet, I'm not getting sick. I'll stick to 42,000 steps though, and strive to stick to it best I can. It's the 50% solution.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

All Settled In, Morningside

We went up north this time to Columbia U, Barnard College and Riverside Church. A short walk for sure, but it still was taxing after another 10,000+ steps and moving from the 990 6th Ave dungeon yesterday. It's a good thing that we took a bus from 120th on the way back. I still registered 9,300 for the day and I was totally out after dinner.

It is indeed a really nice hood. A college town with lots of bookstores, cafes and restaurants. And the farmers market too all along Broadway. And yes, we are all settled in, in Morningside Height. (I thought we were in UWS, but UWS ends at 110th Street according to the Google map. And we are at 112th.)

Monday, May 29, 2017


I'm not feeling too bad despite second 10,000+ days in 3. I'm definitely improved. Will the gain disappear when I settle in, like the gain in the last summer has? I will have to wait and see.That is at least 3 months away for now. And my task, for now, is to avoid post-exertional sickness.

We took QM5 bus to Bayside this morning. It conveniently departed right in front of the building, and dropped us just a block from our destination restaurant 55 minutes away. How lucky is that? The express bus fare was $6.25 and didn't take our monthly pass. The bus driver who just woke up from napping didn't stop us when we used our pass. The driver on the way back did, but we didn't have $6.25 in coins and he let us ride for free. If I knew, I would've taken my car instead. Anyway, it became a free trip for us. How lucky is that?

You take bus, and you realize how big Queens is, spanning multitude of neighborhood. Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Bayside. And others along Union Tpike are all working class neighborhoods with working class stores lining main streets. I'm sure housing is much cheaper there too. The drawback is the train services end well before Bayside and you have to rely on less reliable bus services to connect to Manhattan in large swaths of eastern Queens.

I'm finishing today with less than 4,000 steps. A well deserved respite.