Sunday, August 28, 2011

About Times Square

I've been working at the office on Times Square (xSq) for a little less than 2 months now.

Times Square is one of the street level places that is recognizable as obviously being in New York, and not some other city.  As such, people who come to visit New York, at least for the first few times, feel that they must visit this space.

To someone who needs to go through Times Square multiple times per day, tourists are painful, literally.  I've mostly figured out how to avoid it now, but every few days in my first few weeks, I would end up running into a tourist who stops, and suddenly takes a step backward to take a photo.

I get it, I do.  See something really neat, but you stepped past the angle you first saw.  However, it's a crowded place, look behind you before you back up.  Anyway, they are digital signs, they have probably changed in the half-second since you saw what you wanted to see.

Yet, when I stand in Times Square, I see advertisements, tourist shops, restaurants to attract tourist dollars, more advertisements, a set of red bleachers to allow tourists to sit while watching the advertisements.  Some commenting that the old statue is "in the way".

Which reminds me that Times Square has a century of history that, I think, the tourists getting pictures with costumes, Naked Cowgirl, or Karaoke Bride don't all appreciate.

The northern half of what people think of as Times Square, is Duffy Square.    The most interesting feature to me is the statue of Father Francis P. Duffy who is "in the way" of those bleachers.  Duffy was a priest, teacher and active chaplain during World War 1.  Chaplains don't often get statues, but this one did.  An American Hero, not just some priest.

Anyway, if you find yourself in Times Square with a camera, look before you reverse, have some respect for Father Duffy, and remember that the flashing lights and video screens are really just advertisements.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


New York City - Midtown

On Tuesday morning, Jen and I were both in the office and something seemed strange.

If you've ever been in the upper floors of a tall building during sustained winds, you can feel the building swaying. It felt just like that.  Jen says, "Is the building moving?"  "Yes," as I realize that I shouldn't feel wind movement from the third floor.  Still not really sure what's going on, I say, "I wonder how bad this feels on the upper floors?"

Just after the swaying stops; Mark, sitting nearby, gets a phone call, "It's an earthquake... My son heard it on Twitter."  I hit Google's news service, and nothing yet.  Then I hit Twitter myself.  Yep, lots of buzz about an earthquake.  Someone posted a link to the USGS page for the event, 5.8-Preliminary in Virginia.  I posted a few tweets myself.  Back at Google, and I see the news stories posting.  At about 15 minutes later, the security coordinator comes on the building PA, saying that everything was fine (I think most people had assumed that).

Jen said it felt like the swaying of a boat on water.  I sent a text to Anil in St. Paul, that the weather is so nice that the Earth was trying to rock us to sleep.

All that said, I hope everybody in Virginia, near where the quake was centered, made it through O.K.