A rainy day in NYC

Today:

I wandered around Times Square discovering there are no Thursday matinee Broadway shows. When I had enough of that, I visited the International Center for Photography. Then I paid $10.50 to see a movie (Syriana- not bad, but I should have seen the three-hour King Kong for that money). After that sushi with Jeremy and Megan.

Walking in the rain in the city is a good way to poke your eyes out. All those people who are jammed onto the streets of Times Square are suddenly carrying umbrellas.

While standing in line at the movie theater, I saw a young woman with perfect skin. I mean flawless. She was Chinese or Korean and had a very light brown complexion, completely smooth and uniform in color with no variation in texture. It could have been fabric. Coming to think of it, it wasn’t very attractive.

I like New York in December. How ’bout you?

Ava came out to the Island (Long, not Ship) to visit. Today we drove down to Fire Island and walked along the beach to the Fire Island Lighthouse, which is very well restored. A man from the Preservation Society gave us a more-or-less private tour. He was ex-Park Service. We went all the way up to the top. I love the beach in winter. I worked on a beach for several winters. There is both a beauty and harshness to it that most beachgoers will never know.

Then on to the East Village. We ate cheap on Curry Row (that’s 6th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues). Ava wheedled the street hawker into lowering the special by a dollar. We took a train up to Rockefeller and saw the tree. We didn’t see a lot skaters, but we saw the zamboni polishing the ice.

A-okay today.

I actually had a pretty good day. What’s going on? My boss gave me a good year-end evaluation and I now have a work plan for the next year. This is the first real direction I’ve gotten from work since August 27, 2005 when they said, “evacuate.”

Went to yoga this evening. I am sore, but good sore.

There’s a funny song playing on the radio here. It is called “Downtown Got Run Over by Katrina (to the tune of “Grandma Got Run Over…”)”, recorded by the Pascagoula High School Chorus.

Good movies and bad movies

This week I rented a bunch of movies.

“Swordfish” is the most God-awful film I’ve seen in a very long time. And I’m not just saying that. There’s this scene where the insidious John Travolta is forcing Hugh Jackman to hack into a computer with a gun to his and while forcing him to get a blowjob from a beautiful blonde. Apparently the blowjob slows him down more. I mean really. If I was going to bother hacking into the computer at all I’d be worried about the gun to my head. After that the insidious John Travolta gives him a private room with a nice computer set-up on an IKEA Jerker and lets him hack in peace. What an evil bastard. Hugh Jackman manages to stay pretty ripped despite sitting in front of a computer all day. Then the insidious John Travolta pays him by transferring $10 million to his bank account, which I’m sure won’t raise any red flags. God-awful.

I washed the horrible taste out of my mouth with “Happy Endings”. It is really good, even if Tom Arnold is in it. It’s one of those alienation-in-the-modern-world flicks, but with Lisa Kudrow as a middle-aged redhead.

Then I saw “Made”, with Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughan being Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughan. Always enjoyable.

“Rize” is really good. It’s different. It’s a documentary about street dancers in inner-city L.A. Apparently, there are these clubs where the kids dress up like clowns and dance at birthday parties. O the foul ghetto of despair! Who knew?

Fun at the post office

The recent long lines at the post office are getting worse with the holidays. As usual the stamp vending machine wasn’t working, so I got in line just to buy a book of stamps. The guy behind me kept telling me corny jokes, and that helped pass the time.

“How does Santa Claus keep from getting stuck in the chimney?”

“He always brings a big can of Santa-Flush.”

That nefarious Kornukova!

A story on NPR related how American cotton subsidies hurt farmers in Africa. American officials agree in principle to ending the subsidies, but only if European countries join in on a broad reduction of similar agricultural programs. The US and Europe have been going back and forth over this for years. A World Bank official said, through a translator:

“It’s become a game of tennis. In tennis, how does it happen? The ball goes back and forth, tap, tap. And what happens? It’s the Africans who suffer.”

Now I know why I don’t watch tennis: all those suffering Africans!

Sea stars and a sad little boy

Back to work in Disasterland. Carol, our volunteer, and I hosted about twenty little kids and their parents who are living on a cruise ship in Pascagoula. FEMA and some Americorps volunteers arranged for them to visit the park. Carol taught them to make Christmas tree ornaments out of dried starfish (ordered from a catalog; wouldn’t it be funny if they were harvesting them from the islands and selling our poached resources back to us?) I took them on a little walk on the trail. There’s not much else to do there right now. Man, they were noisy but I got them to quiet down on the way back. One little boy didn’t have enough money to buy a souvenir from our bookstore. He was beside himself with disappointment and hung his head. On the trail he quietly asked me for a dollar.

A week in Charleston

I’m back from a week in Charleston, with a stop in Atlanta. I attended the Association of National Park Rangers “Ranger Rendezvous.” There’s a lot of gray there, but it was a pretty good time. I didn’t network as aggressively as I should have.

The organization needs a good shot in the arm and has some new leadership. I’m going to volunteer as a regional field rep and try to bring in some new members, especially some younger field staff.

I had written a letter this summer to the quarterly journal criticizing recent articles about the field of interpretation and the general state of the discipline itself. The Cheif Interpreter in Washington called my park’s cheif about it. *gulp* I talked to him at the conference. He was nice to me and encouraged me to get more involved. So I don’t have to stay out of DC after all.

Merry generic holiday

We’re having a “holiday” luncheon at work tomorrow. The decorations are complete with Christmas trees, Santa Claus (and Mrs. Claus), and reindeer, so there’s no doubt which holiday we are really celebrating. Usually the park installs a Christmas tree in the visitor center. This year I objected to it, though in fact Christmas trees are permissible in federal facilities. It was decided there wasn’t any room for one in our temporary facility anyway.

I have a very leftish attitude toward religion in public places; I think the federal government should be neutral in such matters. The people I work with don’t get it, though. They see it as a matter of whether or not anyone is offended by a Christmas tree or the like. I see it as a matter of doing the right thing, which means not thumbing my nose at other people’s religions by decorating a public workplace with images of my own. So I’ve decided not to go to the party tomorrow. I’m not going to celebrate this holiday in a way that’s at variance with its spirit.