New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Sunday, January 16, 2005

75% Off 2005 Calendars

I finally got my "bargain" on 2005 calendars this afternoon. I stopped by Barnes & Noble after karate at about 1:15 p.m. today (It's Sunday, January 16, 2005). I hadn't been there since Wednesday night, so the prices could have been lowered any time from Thursday to today. All remaining calendars were 75% off. I got two weekly planners, Van Gogh and Ireland, and two desk calendars, boats and lighthouses.

The boat one is kind of nice but we'll see about the lighthouses. The weekly planners were the real bargain, but the selection of desk calendars was kind of slim. It was between the lighthouses and Lewis & Clark's expedition and I went with lighthouses, because the pictures looked prettier.

That's where being a cheapskate kind of hurt me. Two weeks ago I could have gotten a Greece desk calendar at 50% off but that wasn't cheap enough for me. They sold out of course. I'm going to give Jenn the nice Ireland weekly planner and use Van Gogh for keeping track of my own interesting life.

The total for all four calendars was $14.63. A real bargain if you don't count how many trips I made to determine the ideal day to buy calendars. My determination is that the best time to go is when the first calendars for the next year start coming out in October. That's when we got our wall calendars (Japan, Japan, Trees, Ireland, New York). Otherwise, you might as well buy them at 50% off on January 1, because the selection is still very good. Barnes & Noble increases the discount to 75% around January 15, or the third weekend in January, but the selection is markedly worse by then. That's what I've learned. It's nice to be done with my market research.

As for what else I've been up to, I can say that yesterday (Saturday) turned out to be a pretty interesting day. The L-train was having construction done so there were major delays. There was only one shuttle train running between Manhattan and Brooklyn, back and forth on the same track.

I was supposed to meet Jenn at Eighth Avenue at 11:23 a.m. as she was leaving New York Sports Clubs. We were going to take the train to New Jersey to visit her stepbrother Jay Torson. I had dawdled a bit in the morning and then realized I didn't want to be late, so I really hauled ass.

I took a fast shower, got dressed, grabbed the laundry bag and literally ran with this huge laundry bag bouncing for two long blocks to Graham Avenue and dropped it off at the cleaners. Then I ran all the way from Graham Avenue to Bedford Avenue, (a serious distance) wearing boots and my black leather coat and carrying my bag. The weather was cold but I was really sweating when I got to the subway station.

The platform was absolutely packed, but I was fortunate. A train was just pulling in, and I squeezed on it. It only went as far as Union Square and I needed to be at Eighth Avenue (in about five minutes) so I had one more run.

I ran from Union Square to Eighth Avenue, weaving and dodging people along 14th Street the whole way, and I made it to our rendezvous point on time at 11:23 a.m. (Maybe it was 11:24 but it was not 11:25.) Jenn was a few minutes late, though, so I waited outside her gym with my wet sweaty head steaming in the cold. I put on my hat and gloves right away before I got a chill.

I felt really good after those three amazing runs: 1. Leonard Street to Graham Avenue, 2. Graham Avenue to Bedford Avenue, 3. Union Square to Eighth Avenue.

It's freakish to physically run along the sidewalks of New York wearing street clothes (Winter clothes at that) and making a spectacle, but nobody really notices and I wanted to see if I could do it and I ended up getting a great workout that I could really feel for the rest of the day. It was if not an adventure at least an experience.

So I met Jenn and we took the subway up to Penn Station and we bought our NJ Transit round-trip train tickets on the Dover line to Maplewood, New Jersey ($15.00 for both of us, not bad), and we got on the train at Track 1. It was a cold, cloudy day and a lot of the scenery from the train was kind of a worst-of-New-Jersey panorama of junkyards, old warehouses and highways, but then it got nicer, and where we got out of the train in Maplewood it was really nice. The train ride took about forty minutes. Jay and his friend Ingrid met us at the station.

We got in Jay's truck and drove down the street a little way to his apartment. He showed us his place and some of his artwork. We watched a short video of his trip to Newfoundland last summer to paint. It was nice. Then we went to an art gallery in the town of Maplewood where his work is being shown. It's a very nice gallery and his work is excellent. See some of it at He said we could pick a piece as a wedding present so that is excellent.

After we left the gallery we drove to the next town, South Orange, and went to a brewpub called the Gaslight Brewery where we had lunch, and, of course, a couple of brews. They have some games, like a table shuffleboard game, foosball, and darts. We played shuffleboard and foosball. I liked shuffleboard better but I was pretty bad at both. Jenn and Ingrid crushed me and Jay at foosball, and it was pretty clear that I was the weaker player on our team. We all talked about artwork and the former Soviet Union (Ingrid had spent a semester in St. Petersburg).

After a few games and a few brews, Jay and Ingrid walked Jenn and me to the train platform. We said goodbye to them and caught the 4:56 p.m. train from South Orange to New York's Penn Station. It didn't take long. We took the subway home, relaxed with some wine, watched the Jets lose on TV but didn't care very much, read the Sunday New York Times, and went to bed feeling pretty good.

Today I had a great kata class at noon. Then I bought the calendars. Then I came home to Brooklyn and bought some groceries to cook dinner tonight. Got a whole chicken, some Italian bread, and some broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot niblets. I'll steam the veggies all together in a steamer basket and call it vegetable medly.


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