Monday, August 20, 2007

Strong Wind of Change

Since my last post, a strong SW wind blew and I landed at home for good in New Hampshire ending, a week or two early, my adventure in Brooklyn. Following the southwest wind, a strong ESE wind cast me to Wisconsin to where my mother's family is from for a brief vacation outside my two point rail between NYC and NH.

One of my first cousins and I had a marvelous adventure yesterday cruising in his power boat around the Apostle Islands. I hiked over 5 miles on Stockton Island and we enjoyed resting on the rocks of the idyllic shoreline of Lake Superior.

I left my camera behind during this trip so that I could enjoy the moment in person rather than by peering through a viewfinder. I regret this now, but with pale words I can describe a strong east wind making whitecaps in the lake and off into the horizon wide bands of color, teal blue, dark blue, silver, light blue, spread across the turbulent waters in the big lake.

On our ride back to Madeline Island for supper, I sat in the back of the boat rather than standing in the middle and I learned a fast lesson. When the wind touched my face, spray from waves crashing against the boat soon would follow. My cousin turned from his driving and smiled gleefully and chuckled when he saw lake water dripping from my face and glasses.

Later I learned that our boat travel was equivalent to the speed and direction of the wind so my cousin heard dead silence while we zipped across the four and five foot swells at 25 miles per hour. His face shown true excitement as he retold a new experience.

My summer is winding down and I am conflicted as to what to do with my blog. My ordinary life seems so humdrum that I hate to reveal trite, boring details of life on my edge of New Hampshire granite.

Soccer coaching, library trustee duties, family events, and the continued gentle tug of dating ground me in New Hampshire and eventually, I suppose that I should get a job. I suppose.

But today as I write, I'll linger in the fantasy that a guy like me can retire at 36 years old and figure out a way to make just enough to live and love those around him.

Be well until I post again.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Brief Hiatus

I'm in New Hampshire now preparing to install a floor at a condo in Worcester. I feel the effects of burning the candle at both ends and I plan to take a brief hiatus from my blog for a few days.

The end of the summer looms despite being in the dog days of August and that is always connected to a little introspective sadness. My problem being that I'm moving so fast that there is little time for introspection.

On a news-related item from last Wednesday morning, a tornado touched down in Brooklyn only ten blocks from the 820 apartment. The New York Times reported that the tornado was Category 1 (the weakest on the scale) and it ripped the roof off a few buildings, uprooted trees, and caused other damage.

I was in my cot on Wednesday morning throughout the related thunderstorm during which lightning and thunder pounded away over Brooklyn.

The storms caused flooding that interrupted the transportation systems in NYC, but I took a (somewhat delayed) train to Penn Station and then an Amtrak train to Springfield, MA where Jim picked me up. I returned a day earlier than planned.

I'm in New Hampshire now and preparing, as I said, to go to Worcester to install a floor today. After a brief hiatus, I'll blog again.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Finnish Energy

My sister's family returned to New Hampshire last night. A few moments ago my friend's family returned to Minnesota. Before sunrise, my friends moved with military precision and were off less than ten minutes after the alarm woke us. Their belongings packed neatly in the hallway the night before, car loaded, children bundled into the van seats, hugs, goodbye greetings, and on their way.

The apartment is silent already. My feet sore and swollen from our sight-seeing journey yesterday that included over five miles walked while I was in boat shoes. (I forgot my other shoes in New Hampshire.) The bathroom swelters with atmospheric humidity and the humidity of being well-used. The supply tank on the toilet sweats.

I'll return to sleep now with comforting memories of familiar laughter and energy as I slip back into solitude, immersed in Brooklyn.

I slept for several hours and before I wander to, I'll describe yesterday's adventure.

My unrelenting pace started last week when I drove home on Wednesday, I think, and proceeded to take care of things in New Hampshire on Thursday, went on a date, climbed Mount Monadnock on Friday, went to a summer party (with my date) and played in a band concert on Saturday, church Sunday and then drove two families to NYC on Sunday night. Whoosh.

After arriving late Sunday night, we contemplated various activities for Monday and the consensus was to get on television by going to one of the network morning shows. I like the NBC Today Show the best, knew where Rockerfeller Center is, and I nudged the group towards going to the Today Show.

The problem is that our sleep would be brief and was eventually fitful as I and others woke on the hour until I finally rose at 4:40 to lay out food for breakfast, turn on lights, and make enough noise to rouse the parents who woke their kids.

Scramble to Get Ready for NYC Adventure

We left the apartment around 5:45 or so after everyone ate, a few people bathed, and prepared for the day. We got off the subway in Rockerfeller Center just before 7:00 AM when the Today Show starts. Security checked our bags and interviewed us briefly and we shuttled into the fenced corral for the Today Show street studio and we joined other early-rising nuts like us.

NBC broadcast the show on flat-screen televisions displayed on rolling carts or on the studio building so we watched as the show started and we got a sense of when the cameras would film. The hosts broadcast the show from inside a ground-level, corner-office studio, behind a curved glass panel.

Suddenly, the glass panel dropped and we saw the hosts! Some of us ran to be seen through the window and we alternated from standing around the corral and the window. My brother in law stayed at the window and when he saw that the camera trained on him, he started signing a message in front of the camera.

Preparing for the His National Signing Debut

Some of us at the corral started laughing hysterically to see him sign in real life and then glance up to the flat screen TVs to see his signing displayed on the TV! When he returned to us, we asked what he signed. 'I need help signing. My sister lives in Snellman, MN. My name is Erik.' We all hooted with laughter.

The people that we contacted to watch us didn't see him so we speculate that the editors cropped the shot tightly to keep him out of the broadcast. Enough people recorded the show for us to examine at a later date.

Despite that, a stranger in the crowd went to him and complimented his ability and wondered where Snellman was. After his crowning achievement of quick-thinking, the Today Show lost its luster and we decided against waiting for another hour and a half for the hosts to emerge into the corral. A few of us hopped up and down behind the crowd while the weatherman gave his report. But then we all left.

I approached a NYPD officer and I asked him, 'Excuse me sir. We have several children in the group here and we gave each one a piece of paper with our names and phone numbers, the address where we're staying, and the nearest subway station. If the children get lost, is it a good idea for them to show the paper to a police officer?' His stern demeanor melted into a smile and a nod, 'That's a very good idea.'

I communicated that to the group loudly so that the kids would listen and learn what to do if they got separated from the adults.

Our plan was to go to the Today Show, walk to Times Square, walk to Central Park and re-evaluate if we had the energy to go to the WTC site and Staten Island Ferry before returning to Brooklyn to rest and sing. Every so often, the adults were anxious and impatient, but that usually ended in laughter because just being together on the streets of NYC was really enough.

On the walk to Times Square, the group was fascinated by a street vendor so people ordered coffee, donuts, and other snacks. We rested and ate and continued walking. We approached Times Square and my nieces asked numerous times to go to the M&M store in Times Square, but it wasn't open yet. We saw through the ABC Studio windows where the Good Morning America show was being broadcast.

Crazy Finns Take Times Square

On each street corner in Times Square there were one or two people handing out a new flavor of Balance Bars. Often they handed them out two at a time. We had eleven people in our group and each time we passed these people, we acquired more and more Balance Bars! Soon our pockets and bags were weighted down and each time we laughed with delight at all the free food.

Finally we made our way to Central Park via Broadway to Columbus Circle. We wandered into Central Park and the kids were most enthralled with the rocks protruding from the ground. So we all scrambled up one and sat drinking water and counting our Balance Bars. The girls estimated that we collected more than 70 bars!

The younger kids saw a playground made of steel and concrete so I walked with a few of them so they could play. The playground was quite cool as it was designed to be like a castle and fortress. Spongy rubber mats cushioned the ground - a welcome relief to already tired and sore feet.

Eventually the majority of our group collected at a series of park benches near some porta potties that everyone said were totally gross. While we sat a honey-sucker, or in other words, a porta pottie cleaning truck, drove up and started emptying the johns. Soon I saw someone in our group cover her mouth and bolt from her bench, walking briskly away.

Then the stench hit me and we all moved quickly away so the porta potty smell didn't knock us all flat over. We were laughing and all agreed that was the worst smell that anyone had ever experienced.

We walked to the train and took a train just north of the World Trade Center site. By this time, the little and big legs in our group were feeling some fatigue and after we looked at the WTC site, our pace slowed. We sat overlooking the NYSE building and Wall Street, eating. We walked back to the WTC site for bathrooms at Burger King and we ordered pizza.

We rested.

New York Stock Exchange

Knight in Waiting

Andy Plots a Move

Afterwards, we went to the Staten Island ferry port and boarded the next ferry. The sight-seers watched the sights from the edge of the boat, but I propped my legs and feet up and closed my eyes. We arrived in Staten Island and sat in the port for the next boat. Again, I dozed. After we boarded, the sight-seers looked around and I fell into a deeper sleep. An announcer woke me up, and my sister was talking to me.

Liberty in the Mist

'Tim, do you think it's a good idea to go to the Empire State Building?' I bluntly said, 'No. Not really.' I smiled as I realized my bluntness and I went to talk with the larger group and agreed that a train ride to the Empire State Building wouldn't be such a bad idea. A few of us in the group were aware of the general fatigue, but it's the group consensus that wins over.

Instead of going to the Empire State Building, I walked to B&H Photo and bought a new lens hood to replace the one that had broken on our trip down to NYC. Then I bought a train ticket for Thursday and joined everyone near Macy's. Cost prohibited anyone from going up the Empire State building so they shopped for souvenirs instead.

By now the pace slowed to a halt, but the young girl's eyes glowed with hopeful excitement, 'Can we go to Macy's?' Of course we could. So the group split into four. Two anti-shoppers went to the street. One family went to the bathrooms downstairs. The remainder sans myself went up all the escalators to see the wooden escalators on the top floors of Macy's.

I stayed in the entry way and laughed by eye-contact with a man offering perfume samples at all the women who walked numbly past him.

Finally, we returned to Brooklyn and I gave a tour of the church and the garden in the back. We went to the 820 apartment and fixed up a hodge-podge supper for everyone and we sang church songs for a while. My friend started singing loudly and we all joined him, but I admit that I looked out the window to see if people were staring and wondering.

After we sang, my sister's family left and the remaining people planned a return to Times Square to see it at night. We returned and discussed numerous strategies for their return to Minnesota and eventually, the consensus was to leave before sunrise today. In Times Square the weariness of the group showed due to divergent goals. Some wanted to push relentlessly and go to one store after the next. Others showed restraint to the plan. We ate some over-priced (what else?) ice cream. Eventually we returned.

After arriving at 820, the family packed briskly and I discussed the route from here to Chicago with a focus on the simplest route out of NYC to avoid traffic. Their bags lined up in the hallway, we slept. At 4:45 my alarm rang. At 4:54 AM, the family left to start their return trip.

Solitude again.

So I hear birds chirping from the trees and see the street in front of my writer's nook, empty of cars, as it waits for a new coat of tar. A woman walks up the street and another pushes a cart, drinking water. My asian neighbors pop in and out of their adjacent apartments. My swollen feet throb a little.

I have to shower and walk to soon.

Before I close, I have reflected a bit about where my adventure led me. At the summer party on Saturday, I reunited with several former co-workers and I heard allusions of gossip and backbiting to get work. No specifics were offered, but our group was small enough that I could piece things together to suit my curiosity and imagination.

I sensed anxiety and lurking anger, but from an outsider's point of view. My free-spirited path is quite divergent and I am detached and I simply assess the character traits of my former co-workers and imagine how they manifest themselves in their current situations. Everyone gets their due in the end.

So here I spend the summer sleeping in a cot as I chose inner-city camping for the summer for the adventure and the solitude to practice my craft as seen in my blog and photo stream. I dated the woman local to NH and I feel a gentle tug to see her again. I enjoy the freedom of the free-spirited life. I learn more about myself. I'm poised in a thrilling position to help grow a business in Brooklyn.

My future is unknown, but as I always wanted, the wind is settling my future rather than my self-assured assertive ambition that caused such great pain during my twenties.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Fat Monadnock

Guests from Minnesota and a number of my friends and relatives and I climbed Mt. Monadnock yesterday in the sweltering heat. I lingered with the slow group in the back, straining to go faster, but enjoying conversation with my sister about our respective summer adventures.

The Mountain Climbers with Tim in the Photo

Towards the summit, I started talking about the cave and how we should all look for and explore the cave. The young boys weren't motivated to explore until I arrived and then we found the tiny entrances just off the white dot trail near the summit.

A boy from Minnesota entered first, followed by his sister, and later a local boy.

Eli in the Cave on Mount Monadnock

Ascending or Descending

The boy's dad, my friend, arrived and we surveyed the slight opening. My turn. I dangled my feet down, grabbed the upper rock to lower myself below. Stuck! I'm too fat!

Determined, I tried again. Stuck at my midsection! Legs dangling a little, I released the rock and suspended myself, wedged into the opening.

I looked at my friend, who is my age, and I shook my head angrily, laughing. I'm not a big guy, but boy this middle life stuff is terrible.

Shortly after being stuck, we heard thunder and saw dark clouds start roiling so we snapped the group photo and descended briskly down the mountain.

Occassionaly, and even now as I write, I curse middle age! Too fat for the cave. My goodness.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Heat, Just HEAT

I returned from Brooklyn last night. During the day, I walked around Manhattan doing a bit of research for sales at In Central Park two young Asian girls asked me survey question regarding air pollution. They spoke halting English, but persisted to ask me questions.

Later I saw other kids from their group wandering in pairs or with adults through Central Park.

Then on the subway off the Q line, I think, a flood of red shirted kids from a church-related group poured into the subway car. The energy and clamor were unbelievable! A young girl in cute cornrows whispered to a chaperone. 'I don't have a seat.' I caught the chaperone's eye and soon the girl took my seat.

A stop later, the girl stood for some reason and a new rider plopped herself down. Again, I made eye contact with the chaperone and we shrugged in quiet disdain for the selfish adult.

Someone seems to be picking on my car in the gentlest way. Twice now I see my gas door open. Once when the car was parked right in front of 820 and then again when parked towards the corner. It's quite mild, but I hoped to be invisible while I live at 820. Oh well.

The temperatures didn't cool much when I got home to New Hampshire last night. The sweltering heat persisted into the night. My ride home was fast and short - thankfully. But I was caught in a conundrum. To stay alert while driving, I drank an iced tea. But the caffeine worked its magic for too long, well after I returned to my home.

This afternoon, I walked to the local bank and then to the Town Field where some kids are in a soccer camp. Walking and taking photos was enough to be drenched in sweat. The kids were in a cycle of drill, water, drill, water - rightfully so.

A Budding Soccer Star

Shot on Net 3

Another Tim than Me Shooting on Net

I returned home and made a few calls for AYSO and I am dreading the rest of the calls. I don't talk very much in general and to break my reticence and call strangers is not a thrill for me. Now if I could type into e-mail, who could shut me up? made a corporate business page on their Website and that will make it much easier for wholesale orders.

Shortly I am going on my date and I look forward to meeting her and I especially look forward to our conversation. I enjoyed our e-mails and chats. Funny, too, that we're meeting for ice cream on what must be the most hot and humid day of the whole summer. Is that considered an ice breaking topic? I think, rather, a melter.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Cool air spills through the window and I look outside into the gentle morning light. A guy walks by in a dark blue t-shirt. I notice that he's carrying something, odd, a frying pan. Only in New York.

Writers Nook in 820 Early Morning Light

Yesterday had two distinct halves. The first half was arid and the second rich with excitement and possibility making sleep difficult late into the night. I waited silently at through the morning, through a long lunch break where I returned my car to 820, silently alone in the conference room before the meeting.

Salient phrases in the meeting included Yossi saying, 'Right. We're not at a point where there is money for QA and Usability. We don't need that.' And when Jeff said, 'But as a saleman, you can be part of our family!' And easy forthright honesty poured from me, 'I keep wondering. Am I a salesman? I'm honored that everyone here thinks that I am.'

Jeff will draw up a contract and I will sleep on the offer for a few days. I was clear and everyone was comfortable about my desire to live in New Hampshire. Yossi later looked at my property via Google maps and I showed them where I fish, hunt, and raise chickens.

After the meeting concluded, I spoke at length with Yossi to get a deep understanding of the technology, the business processes, and most importantly the sales cycles. I need to know who has the money, authority, and need for corporate framing services.

A brief digression - from my window, I see the man carrying the frying pan return, but this time with a bicycle tire pump in his right hand. The frying pan continues to swing back and forth in his left hand as he walks. My Chinese neighbor appears swinging his gate open with a slight, high-pitched squeak. He shakes his right leg and leans forward into a jog up the street.

My conversation with Yossi continued at length and I suggested the virtual reality game, Second Life, as a source of revenue. I gave a brief demo of Second Life and I chatted with my art student friend in Connecticut who started a design business in the game. She plans to give us a demo today at 10:30 and for much of the evening, I tried to wrap my head around the fact that I am doing business with someone who I have little to no contact with outside a game.

Things at home are flourishing with the return of my sister's family from their summer-long trip. A family from Minnesota arrived and I look forward to sight-seeing with them over the long weekend. My roommate returned, also. The Minnesota family plans to follow me to Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon and we'll sight-see in New York. My sister peeped that she might like to take her family here, too, so there may be up to 11 people in the apartment if they all arrive.

My Chinese neighbor returned from his jog, slowing his steps in front of his building, rubbing his chest once, swinging his arms, and walking away to cool down.

I'm looking at my trusty laptop computer. Yossi used it briefly yesterday and he noted that the L key is gone. I smiled replying, 'Just the label is worn away.' Several keys have a distinct wear pattern much like stone stairwells in New York that have bore millions of people in their paths. I'm intrigued that plastic keys have sworls and grains under their veneer.

My Chinese neighbor is now hanging clothes from the air conditioner grate. Another Chinese man in flip-flops walks casually through the street and sidewalk. He starts the daily sweep of his sidewalk.

I return to New Hampshire today. I'm unsure of my schedule and I should trim the grass in the front and back yards and prepare the apartment for guests. The weather is going to be hot and sticky for the next week or so and I should plan to have fans running for everyone's comfort. I'm wondering if my virtual friend in Connecticut would like to have dinner with me so we can discuss business.

I laugh as the blue t-shirt guy walks again past my window. But now he traded, bartered maybe, his frying pan and bicycle tire pump for two grocery bags full of products.