A night of trivia

Went to my first NYC bar trivia last night in East Village. I’ve only been to one other trivia in Bethesda, Md., but this one was the best one.

My team tied for 10th place, which isn’t bad considering there were about 30 teams playing.

There were lots of these consumed last night. Every one of them appeared to be perfect pours.

That’s a lot of teams. There were a lot of drinks and food. There were five rounds, and prizes to be had (books).

I was never good at trivia. Back in Maryland I rarely “participated.” I sat at the table. I took in the atmosphere. I watched everyone wrack their brains to remember that one random fact they “knew.”

Last night was different, and it probably helped that I was able to get my buddy A to come along. Everyone had their weaknesses and strengths. I’m embarrassed to say that I should know my journalism-related trivia better.

oops

But A and I were proud to know what WHIP stood for. Neither of us are hard core baseball fans, let alone sports fans.

There were five rounds. The first was a “this day in history” which was a lot of fun because I had briefly read some stuff for that day. What good that did. I couldn’t remember the name of the field the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers played in 1939.

The second round was the music round. I learned that I need to start paying more attention to artist and band names.

Third round was based on the theme of demons and demonic things. Fourth round was acronyms. The fifth and final round was categories. That one was a doozy.

I need to start reading more random things for next week’s trivia.

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On Writing – 30 days into the self-inflicted challenge

I’m coming up on a month of writing (almost) every day, taking alternative posting dates between this blog and my bike blog.

It hasn’t been easy, but the (almost) 30 days of writing, while difficult, has been rewarding.

And tonight is one of those nights where I throw in a “cop out” blog post. But I have to wonder, for us writers, even if what we feel like is a “cop out” post, is it really such a post?

I can imagine that even if we just post a photo, or a quote, or some silly little line and publish it to get our “post for the day” in, it would be found to have some meaning to someone, somewhere.

This is how I imagine myself when writing

Right?

Or is this some writer’s way of quieting the blow of some kind of guilt?

Anyway. In some fitting way, I came across this post on Medium on not writing—which spoke to me.

This is the reality…

I’ve attempted maintaining a blog for quite some time now. Initially I do fairly well, keeping up with a steady stream of posts. Thirty days later though, I just stop writing. I publish something here in January. Something there in February. Then three posts in March. Nothing in April. And the inconsistent publication of rambling thoughts continues in that fashion.

Not very good for online writing—of course, my stuff isn’t the New Yorker.

There’s a statement in this Medium post however, that got me thinking about writing and having a regular posting schedule:

The question I can’t answer is, would it be better to pound out a string of crappy, confusing blog posts that slowly improve, or just say nothing at all? Probably the former, but it’s far more painless to continue to go with the latter.

The latter is true. It is much more painless to just go dormant, only writing when the Muse strikes hard.

But not writing is not a friend of the writer.

Writing every day is hard. True, but thank goodness for writing prompts. Though, I find that even then the prompts have to feel right. Weird, I know. But in this game of writing regularly, you can’t ignore how you feel about a given prompt or some other nagging flag that’s itching at you to write.

It’s gotten to a point where it takes some creativity to get at the core of the prompt. And that’s been the fun part: not answering the prompt directly, but taking the “scenic route.”

What do people call that? Thinking outside the box? Yeah.

Not everything we write will be spot-on, 100 percent rainbow awesome. But I’ve come to the realization that writing everyday, even if it’s just a haiku or a photo, is one day that I got better at thinking and writing.

Writing everyday, even if it’s a crappy day, means you got that day’s practice in.

How do you guys battle those “slow” writing days?

This hasn’t happened yet, but I could see how it’s a possibility.

Sights & Skylines of NYC – a photo gallery

Testing out this new “Mesh” thing that the folks at WordPress are experimenting with.

It’s still in the early stages, so there are a few things that need to be fixed but so far, it’s been good on Firefox.

Some things I’m not particularly enjoying about this:

  • panoramas get cropped so you end up missing the full experience of the image.
  • the embedded gallery crops all the photos, so unless you view it in full screen mode, again, you’re missing out on the full experience of the image.
  • captions – supposedly we can add them to each photo but that option doesn’t exist (while using it in Firefox – haven’t tested it out elsewhere).

That’s all I have so far on mesh.

Here’s an example of a mesh card I made – per this week’s Daily Post photo challenge prompt: “Today Was a Good Day.” While it’s not a narrative of what a single “good day” looks like, these images showcase single moments in various good days.

If you click on the photos, it’ll “zoom out” so to speak so you can see the full image. Then you can use your ← → arrows to navigate. The panorama of the beach is still cropped so you’re missing the full spectrum.

“Is that for a gluten allergy?”

Continuing my little brain rant on food and dietary restrictions, I’m finding the question, “is that for a gluten allergy?” a bit….off putting. And in some ways a bit annoying.

This isn’t to say that it’s not an important question for food-service workers to ask of their customers, but perhaps my annoyance at the question is more revealing of my own assumptions of who asks for gluten-free menus, and requests “bunless” options at places like Shake Shack.

i.e. people who ask for such specialized requests do so out of legitimate health reasons like not balling into a fetal position from massive pain and discomfort. Or not dying.

Pho, New Ca Mau Vietnamese Restaurant

Pho – the GF-friendly alternative to delicious ramen.
Yuichi Sakuraba|Flickr

Whenever I’m asked, “is this for a gluten allergy?” after placing a food order, I can’t help but feel this tinge of embarrassment and, possibly, shame about my food intolerance. And it’s not because I feel bad about the fact that gluten-containing foods makes me feel sick. It’s the immediate pop-cultural associations that come to my mind—of celebrities and regular people who have turned it into some tiring, annoying fad food choice.

I have not had the pleasure of encountering an annoyed wait staff at a restaurant when requesting gluten-free menus or leaving some wheat/rye/barley-based item off the dish. This may be because M and I have this rule when we go out that I always choose the food venue. This way, we’re less likely that we go to a place that doesn’t serve gluten-free fare. (So far, this has worked remarkably well.)

And even if gluten-free options are (becoming) the norm, I can’t help but wonder if it’s some weird thorn in every food business’ side (at least the ones that aren’t primarily GF), to have to cater to “us” special-food people.

I also find that asking if something is for a gluten allergy simplifies the complexity of the celiac/non-celiac issue, and my own nitpicky semantics of something that’s an allergy versus an intolerance.

I don’t have celiacs disease. And I don’t have a gluten allergy, meaning, when I (accidentally) ingest gluten-containing foods, I don’t flare up in hives or endure other allergy-related reactions. I have an intolerance. I get bloated, my joints hurt, I get gassy, and sometimes nauseous. Just all around sick.

So while I don’t need my food to be placed in its own cardboard box, on a separate food tray, I find that I can’t just say “no, it’s not for a gluten allergy.” Or can I?

Because if I say “no,” I’ll be misconstrued for one of those people who are gluten-free for trend reasons and not health reasons. But if I say yes, all this trouble is undergone to separate my food, which, I noticed, creates a lot more waste.

The conundrums. What are your thoughts on this gluten free “allergy” question? What reactions do you get when you request GF menus or GF alterations to your food at restaurants?

Random question: why is it that “gluten free” is almost always associated with baked goods, too? Case in point: a Flickr image search

🍩 🍕 🍔

Bushwick: To, From, and Back Again

In what has become an interesting turn in a (short) series of events, I have moved again.

My things: bike, dishes, desk, and books on books on books were boxed up for the third time in a year. They were thrown into boxes, taped up, and transported with care from one dwelling to another to another.

It’s one thing to talk about mobility from city to city. But regular mobility within a city? Holy cow.

Let’s just say, I do not plan on moving again any time soon.

famous last words?

I’ve been told by a few people that in this city, moving around from neighborhood to neighborhood, borough to borough—and quite often—isn’t quite as strange as it might seem in, say, the DMV area.

Needless to say, moving sucks.

MD ➞ Bushwick ➞ Flatbush ➞ Bushwick

My initial move to Bushwick, from Maryland, was one year ago. About six months later, due to personal reasons, I moved out.

I went from a “three” bedroom, shared with two other New School grad students, to a studio in Flatbush shared with no one. The only “company” I regularly had was the drunk-sounding “Haitian Gangster” that roamed the hallways in the building. Other times it was some guy who regularly left his “stuff” in my neighbor’s apartment. Every few days you’d hear him banging, quite hard, on the door and yelling at the apartment dweller. Cursing up a storm. There were also the random door bell ringers at 2 a.m. asking to be let in because they forgot their building keys. There was a lot of that. Oh, and you can’t forget the occasional visit by the cops.

But lest that quick description leads your imagination to wander, it never escalated beyond that.

Flatbush was, compared to Bushwick, a much quieter neighborhood.

Mostly residential, Flatbush reminded me of parts of D.C. and Maryland. A mix between parts of Silver Spring, Md., the area surrounding Meridian Hill Park, and a stretch of 16th Street after Military Road.

It has a very calm atmosphere. Well, at least it feels that way when you’re not walking down Church or Flatbush avenues. Cortelyou was slightly busier than the residential side streets, but not by much. There were quite a few cafes and restaurants that I particularly enjoyed, but in the end, everything just felt “too far.”

Not so in Bushwick. This area, butting up against East Williamsburg on the east, and Ridgewood on the west is much busier. It’s much more lively.

It’s great to be back in this neighborhood.

One year after my initial move to the city, I make my way back to good ol’ Bushwick. One street down from my first apartment, on the opposite end of the Myrtle-Wyckoff/Jefferson stretch.

The late-night blaring of music from the streets. Random corner shops. Businesses with odd hours. Multiple grocery and markets to choose from. A park where I can watch other people’s dogs. Dog shit littering the sidewalks here and there. Rats scampering about the night before trash day. The chaos of biking to and from Manhattan.

It’s all here. And I don’t plan on moving again any time soon.

famous last words?

#bushwick

Good ol’ Bushwick. Full of life on every street.

Movies on the Beach

In the summer months, the NYC Parks Department puts on these free summer movies, and on Friday I had the opportunity to go to my first, free summer movie.

On the beach.

At first it was a bit awkward as we approached the makeshift, inflatable projector screen—all blowing this way and that in the wind—and heard the squeaky sounds of cartoon characters.

There weren’t very many people at this point, but there were noticeably many children.

And their beady eyes were fixed on the inflatable screen.

My Little Pony ლ(ಥ Д ಥ )ლ

The pre-movie, vanity-filled cartoon wasn’t on for too long, or, more accurately, M and I got up to run to the Stop & Shop up the road to use the bathroom, and pick up some snacks, so I missed what was left of that shenanigan. (The beach didn’t have public bathrooms, hence the trip to the grocery store.)

We got back just in time for the start of Guardians of the Galaxy, which I didn’t realize until then was a Marvel comic.

The beach was windy. Sand was kicked up into our faces and into everything we owned. Every fiber of our clothes. Every exposed nook and cranny of our being. Children were well-behaved (and they started leaving with their families at different points in the movie).

And, of course, the movie was a lot of fun. I had a great time, and did laugh heartily here and there throughout the film. It was a little awkward to see the screen warp and bend in the wind, cutting bits of the screen, but it was a nice wind-down activity for a Friday evening. I’ll have to revisit the movie again sometime, on a screen that doesn’t give to the wind.

Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach – off of B 73rd Street
M and RB enjoying the beach before the movie
click to embiggen