Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Piano on the Pier

Things have been going pretty well this past week or so. I started training at my new job, and I'm really enjoying it. Even if I don't know what I'm supposed to do yet, I'm trying to learn as quickly as possible. A large part of my day yesterday involved answering the phones, stating the company name, and then asking the person how I could help them. I just kept writing down everything they talked about, and at a good opportunity I'd politely ask them to wait while I put them on hold. As soon as I put the phone down, I'd just explain to the closest manager what the person needed, and they'd tell me what to do after that. It seemed to work well enough, and the customers didn't seem to know that their customer service rep (me) was completely clueless.

I also found a couple of the pianos for the "Play Me, I'm Yours" art project here in the city. I know I mentioned it in my last post, but I still think it's really interesting. There are around sixty pianos scattered throughout the city in parks and plazas, and me and some of my friends came across one on the pier by 72nd Street (towards the Hudson River). It was a lot of fun just listening to different people play in public. Skill level didn't matter. Several elementary school kids wanted to play Chopsticks and Heart & Soul, while another guy performed a 15 minute jazz improv. And yes, I got to play for a little bit too. It was fun, but I wish I could remember my songs better--I completely forgot the last half of two different songs.

Josh -- you can see how close to the river it is, and how random people just stop and listen

And kind of a funny story. I feel bad about it now, but it was still pretty funny (my sarcastic side came out very unexpectedly...). It was a girl's birthday this past Friday, so a group of us went out to this one restaurant for cheesecake. The girl just turned 27, and all of us hung out and talked for awhile. I got home a little after midnight, and when I got on Facebook, I saw that the birthday girl was online. So just being dumb, I was like, "Do you realize now you're closer to turning 54 than you are to your birth?" Immediately after sending the message, I was like, "WHY did I just say that?"
The next day, I was watching the soccer game at a friend's house when the birthday girl walked in. The very first thing she said was "Jon called me old on my birthday." Of course everyone wanted to know what happened, and I put up a very poor defense ("It wasn't her birthday when I said it..."). We were all laughing about it. Well, a little later, I was trying to tell a story, and this girl just said, "I'm sorry, what?" I started the story again, and she stopped me again, saying, "What'd you say?" I tried telling the story a third time, and she was like, "You'll have to speak up, I'm getting a little hard of hearing." ---Yeah, she got me pretty good with that one, and once again everyone was laughing.
Later that night, I had a group of people over to watch a movie, and she came over as well. At one point she made some comment (I can't remember what it was), and then she said, "Oh, I shouldn't say that--I'm being rude." Without missing a beat (and apparently, without thinking), I said, "That's okay, old people have a right to complain." ....Once again, I was just like, "WHY ON EARTH did I just say that?!"
I think it would only make it worse to mention that this is a girl I took out on a date last week...Anyway, I will really be trying to be careful about making sarcastic comments. Sure, people might laugh about it, and they know you're not being serious, but there's a reason you feel bad after making a comment like that.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

End of the job hunt

Just a brief post for now. I got a job! A friend of mine mentioned that his company was hiring, so I figured I better submit an application. I thought the interview went okay, but not great. I left thinking, "Well, maybe something else will come through." So imagine my surprise when I got off the subway a little while later to hear a voicemail extending me the job. And yes, I did call them back, and it wasn't a fluke. I have an orientation meeting tomorrow, and it looks like I'll probably start next week. It's for a company called West Elm, which is part of Williams Sonoma Inc. It should help me get through grad school.

To relax/celebrate, I decided to do a random photo-walk through Riverside Park. I was really wanting to get down to the 140th Street area, because of this: I thought it would make for some fun photo opportunities, and I also thought I might play a song or two. Why not? I almost made it down there, but the walk was a little farther than I was expecting. I wasn't tired or anything, it was more the fact that the sun was going down and it was starting to rain. I'll try again on Thursday. I did manage to find a couple of other things along the way--

I'm still trying to train my eye to look at things tonally. I really love black & white photography, but I'm still trying to get the hang of it. Out of about 30 pictures that were "supposed" to be b&w, only two or three looked right desaturated. And then only one of them felt comfortable as a composition. I need to practice more

It was a pain trying to get this shot. I didn't have a tripod with me, and I was trying to find a happy medium in shutter speeds so that the water had a motion blur while the rest of the image stayed sharp. But it was late in the day and the sky was overcast, which meant that I had to use a slow shutter speed (I think this was around 1/40 or 1/50). Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but I was also shooting at f/2.2. I kept shaking while I took the picture, and the depth of field was so narrow that I kept getting one bad picture after another. This was the best of that set, but it's still a touch soft

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Not too much has really been happening these past couple of weeks. I've been trying to find a job here in the city, which has been interesting to say the least. It's been pretty tough, but something will come through. I had an informal interview on Thursday that I thought went pretty well, and they said they would let me know by Monday or Tuesday. I'll keep applying wherever can though.

Aside from applying for jobs, I've been having fun catching some World Cup games here and there. Some of the games were pretty boring (England-Algeria, 0-0 draw...), while others were really exciting. Of course I'm talking mainly about the USA-Slovenia game. And what a game it was! I almost stopped watching at halftime. The USA played a pretty miserable first half, and found themselves down 2-0. I'm glad I decided to finish watching the game though, because it turned out to be an exciting comeback that ended in a 2-2 draw (and who says draws are boring?!). Sure, everyone still thinks the last goal should have counted (if you've seen any highlights whatsoever, you already know what I'm talking about...the potentially game-winning goal with just four minutes left to play that was disallowed by the ref), but aside from that, it was still a fun game to watch.

And yesterday I went sailing for the first time. A good friend of mine (i.e., my bishop) is part of a sailing club, and he invited several of us to go sailing out in Echo Bay/Long Island Sound. We had a blast. I enjoyed everything about it: the sights along the coastline (the Bayer House, as in Bayer Aspirin; the Gatsby house; Executioner's Rock, etc.), coasting along with just the wind, admiring the multi-million dollar yachts that passed by, and just goofing off with everyone (word of advice: don't tell a group of guys you need to be back by a certain time 'cause you're taking a girl out on a date...a large part of the conversation on the four-hour trip revolved around questions like, "What's her name? Where's she from? What's she doing in the city? Where are you going on your date? Where are you going on your second date? Oh, so you're taking her there? Here's what you do: take her out to eat at restaurant overlooking the river...the sun will be setting over the river about that'll be a great view...after you guys are done eating, sit on a bench overlooking the river, hold her hand and cuddle..." And so on, and so on---good times).

I even got to steer the boat for awhile, even though I gave everyone a good scare several times...I kept getting things mixed up as to how to turn the boat left and right, resulting in some very sharp, unexpected turns which caused everyone on the boat to jump to their feet. I couldn't tell if they were trying to avoid the boom swinging across the deck, or if they were ready to jump out of the boat. One of my friends was commenting that it was just surprising to be coasting along, only to feel the boat start to swerve drastically and his elbow is all of a sudden in the water...But it was a lot of fun (for me anyway. Of course, that does explain why several people were feeling queasy afterwards, while I was feeling just fine).

And they did get me back in time for my date.

Matt -- one of the first comments I made as soon as we started sailing was to bring up the obligatory What About Bob? quote: "I'm sailing!...I sail, I'm a sailor...ahoy!"

Me taking a turn at the till -- with the previously mentioned sharp turns, I'm still surprised my camera didn't end up in the water

Me and Matt

Jordan and Mike

Jordan -- I forget why he had such an intense look on his face


Me goofing off, trying to be artistic -- I was taking more snapshots throughout the day, not worrying about composition and everything. Come to think of it, I only took two or three of the pictures in this post because we just kept passing the camera around