Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, October 16, 2021

So you’ve figured out which subway line to take to get to where you’re going. Congratulations.

But your learning curve hasn’t flattened out yet, mass-transit rookie. Fact is, taking the right train is only half the battle. The other half is knowing which way to start walking after you emerge from the underground:

It is one of those embarrassing, frustrating, infuriating experiences of everyday life that many New York subway passengers are loath to admit: that disorienting moment when they step onto the street, lost in a city they know — or think they know — perfectly well. Which way is Ninth Avenue, anyway?

Yes, this is me, totally. Even after a year-and-a-half of taking the subterranean trains to the exclusion of all other City transit options — and pretty well figuring out how to get just about anywhere in Manhattan — I still manage to take the wrong turn once I get to the top of the station stairs. Every time.

I’ve always attributed that to my innate lack of any reliable sense of direction. But I guess there are enough of us wandering aimlessly around that Grand Central Partnership is providing ground-level help:

Now the city is experimenting with a new way to help people go where they want to go without wasting more steps than they have to. The city and the private business improvement district for the neighborhood around Grand Central Terminal have installed compass-shaped decals on sidewalks, right where riders emerge from heavily used subway stairwells.

The gold-on-black decals are 24 inches in diameter, larger than a large pizza but smaller than a manhole cover. They carry two kinds of information: directions for north, east, south and west, and the names of the nearest streets.

Should the first decals prove to be a hit, city officials hope they can team up with other business improvement districts and propagate the decals in other parts of the city where exiting subway riders could use a guide.

Every little bit helps. If nothing else, it’ll help me avoid feeling like an ass after walking nearly a block in the exact opposite direction from my destination — and then doing what seems like a walk-of-shame past the same people and places I’d just passed by mere minutes earlier.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/16/2007 11:48:09 PM
Category: New Yorkin'
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hot hot hot
I caught wind of Thermablade, the electronically-heated ice blade that slightly accelerates the melting of ice under your skate to give the skater a speed/power boost, a couple of weeks ago. And I figured, even with Wayne Gretzky’s endorsement, it would remain a fringe oddity.

Wrong. The National Hockey League is getting ready to test them with players, with an eye toward introducing them into games.

Maybe I’m missing something. Can someone explain to me how this wouldn’t lead to completely chewed-up, slushy ice during the course of an NHL game?

We’re talking about creating less friction/resistance between the blade’s edge and the ice surface in order to achieve the extra speed — fine. But that means more water on the ice, which will build up. Even now, with the unheated friction effect from regular skates, a lot of the rinks in the league end up with soft ice. How will they fare when you add heat to the mix?

I know the Zamboni will still be there to do its job between periods. But will it be able to compensate for the extra wear-and-tear? I’m doubtful.

In fact, I can see this attempt to speed up the game having exactly the opposite effect: Creating slog-fests where skaters will struggle to gain traction on slushed-up ice, with a marked increase in injuries from added muscle strain to boot.

I’d like to think the league’s ice expert, Dan Craig, is being consulted on this. It looks like he’s been in on it, but I can’t find any ruling from him. If he’s signing off on it, I guess it won’t be a problem. But I’d like to hear an explanation that makes sense.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/16/2007 11:11:01 PM
Category: Hockey, Science, Tech
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say ahh-rt
Now, finally, I have a solid reason for visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Because starting today, Damien Hirst’s shark-and-formaldehyde oddity, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”, will make its home on the museum’s second floor.

If the killer-fish-in-amber visual motif doesn’t make it for you, maybe a life-affirming interpretation will:

In keeping with the piece’s title, the shark is simultaneously life and death incarnate in a way you don’t quite grasp until you see it, suspended and silent, in its tank. It gives the innately demonic urge to live a demonic, deathlike form.

But be aware, this shark is second-string:

The shark in the tank is a recent replacement of the original, which more or less disintegrated. It is smaller but more fierce, and it seems to surge forward, ready to pounce on some unseen prey just beyond the tank. If you bend down and peer through its sharply jagged teeth, you’ll be looking past the pure white mouth at the large black hole of its gullet. It’s a reasonable visual metaphor for the crossing-over that we think will never happen.

I assume the Met is taking a page from Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week”, in an effort to score an art-world equivalent of a winning sweeps week. But hey, it’ll work on me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/16/2007 08:41:41 AM
Category: Creative, New Yorkin', TV
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