Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I feel strangely fine for someone set to make a big speech in approximately 12 hours.

I really ought to be shaking in my boots and more high-strung than normal. Yet I am quite confident in what I will say.

Mind you I still don’t know exactly what I will say.

However my confidence as at an all time-high. At approximately 1 in the afternoon I will say a few words thanking the charity that helped pay for most of my undergraduate tuition and show my gratitude to the people that somehow take time and energy out of their busy schedules to raise money for young people in the U.S. and Ireland.

It will be quite a lovely occasion, I’m sure.

After the luncheon I’m off to the Wasserman Center for a job information workshop, and then I’ll fight the masses commuting from the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the evening.

Knowing me I’ll probably be a nervous wreck by the time I am supposed to speak. But until that happens I’ll be a perfect pillar of poise. Period.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving thoughts

I don't know how I got the energy to write this up earlier today but I did it and it has made me feel somewhat better.

Thanksgiving thoughts

Yesterday I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family here in New York City. It was just the four of us- mom, two brothers, and I- and we enjoyed a relatively low-key dinner. It was all very nice and pleasant though that did not lessen the pain of my father not being there.

You see, my dad passed away over a year ago from a sudden but fatal heart attack. It has difficult moving on day-by-day since we were such a close-knit family. Not a day goes by when we don’t think of him even though we were not on the best of terms when he died. For him Thanksgiving was the best of the day of the year since it represented the pinnacle of family unity and togetherness. It was a day where he would return home from work physically tired and spent but with a spirit of joy and bliss at being in the company of his loved ones. He would sit beaming with pride at the head of the table satisfied in the knowledge that we were enjoying a bountiful meal that he helped prepare the weekend before Thanksgiving. Sometimes he would take us out after the meal - full bellies and all- to gaze and admire at the holiday decorations around the neighborhood. It would always be an unforgettable night.

In his absence, Thanksgiving has taken a changed meaning for my family. More than anything it represents the gratitude that we have for having known him and for remembering all the positive things he represented. He was a very caring man who sacrificed a lot in his life-such as giving up a cushy lifestyle in Colombia to move to the U.S. in 1972- to give his future progeny a better living. He faced far too many obstacles but he would always overcome them with hard work and determination. I learned so much from him and still do today as my family continues to be as close and unified as he envisioned us to be. In the wake of his passing my mother, brothers, and I have taken things in baby steps with the hope and faith of a brighter future. Perhaps in the future I will raise my own family and then I should aspire to be half the man he was in my lifetime.

For all that I am eternally grateful and to me that is what Thanksgiving is all about.

Monday, November 13, 2006

When nature calls

Over a month ago I jokingly mentioned that the second-best reason for me to maintain matriculating at NYU was due to the Tisch Hall computer lab opening at 6:30 in the morning. I’ve yet to mention the best reason.

Until now.

You see, the men’s restrooms on campus have saved me from many a delicate situation. Unfortunately there are few public bathrooms in New York City, much less wheelchair accessible for someone like me. Hence I treasure the bathrooms at NYU even if they are not kept in the best and cleanest condition.

Last week NYU’s student newspaper came up with the top 5 and bottom 5 bathrooms around campus. Though the authors only rated the women’s restrooms, their rankings were pretty good. Nonetheless, I am going to go ahead and rate my personal best and worst of the NYU bathrooms based on somewhat separate criteria such as accessibility and ease to enter and exit.

Crème de la crap

5- Silver Center, 8th Floor. In the article the authors complain about the terrible smell in the bathroom of the Silver Center yet they neglect to mention on which floor it is located. This makes a huge difference (see “Avoid like the plague” pick #1) since there are bathrooms on at least 3 floors of the building. Anyway, the 8th floor bathroom located by the hallway connecting to the Waverly Building is medium-sized and can be difficult to get to when students leave and enter classes en masse. Nevertheless, the spacious handicapped stall includes a freestanding grab bar which makes it easy to transfer on and off the toilet. The sinks are pretty easy to use and the paper towel dispenser isn’t located too high. All-in-all, an average restroom.

4- 19 University Place. The main problem that I have with this bathroom is that one gets a hernia opening the bathroom’s two large heavy. Yet once inside the bathroom is spacious with plenty of room to take care of business. Kudos for the angled mirror to help short people and those in wheelchairs. Though the bathrooms are on the second floor they are easy to access since the building’s lobby is small and the elevators are always speedy.

3- King Juan Carlos Center, 1st Floor. The King Juan Carlos Center is where I’ve attended most of my graduate classes in the years I’ve been at NYU. Thus, the building has a special significance for me and I feel it is vastly underrated on campus. The KJCC is easy to enter, has a small lobby with a vaulted ceiling, a great auditorium, and a patio that is an absolute godsend for springtime lunches away from the usual hustle and bustle. It is the ease of access which is the greatest advantage of the 1st floor bathroom at the KJCC. It is only a few yards beyond the security desk and in an alcove off the side of the lobby. There’s no need to use elevators or meander through a maze of hallways; just go up the small ramp, though the double doors, flash some ID, and walk a few feet to do what needs to be done. There’s just enough room to comfortably maneuver though the bathroom is very small with 2 urinals, one sink, and one handicapped stall. The toilet is at an appropriate height, the hooks are not set very high, and the bathroom itself is very warm during the winter. A very good restroom in a not very well-known building located on Washington Square South.

2- Kimmel Center, middle floors. To repeat what I said before, the original article form the Washington Square News makes the error of not differentiating between bathrooms on different floors. In the case of the Kimmel Center there isn’t as big a disparity between bathrooms as in the Silver center but some restrooms are better than others. It’s best to skip those located on the 4th Floor where the E & L Auditorium is located or the 2nd Floor where the computer stands and several lounges are found. It’s best to hit the middle floors where all that can be found are small offices and classrooms. Admittedly, the article is spot-on in that for the most part there really is nothing to complain about. The restrooms are large and very clean. The handicapped stall is by far the biggest of the bathrooms on campus and definitely easy to use. The sinks are at a good level and there’s always soap on hand. The only problem is that getting to the bathrooms may take a few minutes by the time one goes through security and uses the elevators.

1- That building housing the auditorium where The Bottom Line used to be: I’ve only gone their once, but it did save me from a slightly embarrassing situation. On Commencement Day last May I lined up near the front of the line of GSAS students at the corner of West 4th and Greene Street. After a half hour of waiting for the processional to start and overall anxiety I had to go to the bathroom. Desperately. I asked a friend to save my spot on the line and I quickly darted into the building where The Bottom Line once stood and ran to the restroom after fumbling for what seemed like an eternity to get my ID out from under my robe. Luckily the bathroom was located just a few feet from the entrance and it was clean and modern including a handicapped stall and lowered urinal. There was a nice and neutral odor and the bathroom was pretty clean. The fact that the bathroom was small did not detract from its many positives. My time in the restroom was only a minute but it saved me from having to cut the line and running over who knows how many people during the processional.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Palladium Residence Hall, 3rd Floor: Great location near Union Square and Irving Plaza but security is very hesitant to let non-Palladium residents through when it’s not business hours.
  • 726 Broadway (Health Center): Individual unisex bathrooms though the door locks sometime fail.
  • 240 Greene Street: Hard to access since it’s in an office area, but very clean and comfortable.

Avoid like the plague

5- Meyer Hall, 1st floor. My first undergrad class on campus was located in Meyer Hall- a dull, bland building built in 1971 off of Broadway. The course- “Conversations of the West: Antiquities and the Renaissance”- was one which I enjoyed thoroughly and opened my mind to learn how to be astute and very analytical. There was never an overly dull lecture and the class was a treat to look forward to. The bathroom in the building was certainly not a “treat’ by any stretch of the imagination. Hard to find, dark, diminutive, and dank. Not to mention that it was always freezing cold in the winter. A substandard bathroom that was always a pain to use.

4- Tisch Hall, Lower Concourse. Even though the bathroom is amongst the biggest on campus it is never kept in a clean condition. Enter the restroom at anytime of the day or night, weekend or weekday and one will find newspapers, gum wrappers, flyers, and even discarded food strewn over the floor. The toilets are constantly clogged up unless you go to the bathroom early in the morning when nobody’s around. Even if the toilet does flush one has to run out the stall unless you’re in the mood to get your clothing damp from water splashing out.

3- Cantor Film Center, 1st Floor. Though access from the street is not too bad, the main problem with the 1st floor bathroom at Cantor is the difficulty in entering and exiting it. For reasons unbeknownst to any sane person the floor inside the bathroom undulates like a bad roller coaster ride. It is a small climb to get to the door to the handicapped stall which is annoying but even worse is the precarious downhill from the stall towards the sink and then a steep dip in front of the door. Worse is the tight squeeze cause by the door not opening fully and hitting the wall on the other side of the hallway. Cantor’s 1st floor bathroom is impossible to use when it’s raining or snowing outdoors since the floor is too slick and irregular even for the most surefooted of people.

2- Bobst Library, Lower Levels. When I was an undergrad at FIU I adored using their library for many reasons (which I will discuss in more detail in a later post). One of them included the ease and accessibility of the bathrooms which are located on all the floors. Sadly for a library as cavernous and busy as Bobst the bathrooms are absolutely heinous. There are no accessible bathrooms in the entire building aside from the lower levels and the 5th floor restroom that is always locked. In spite of extensive renovations of the lower levels nearly 2 years ago the bathrooms continue to be decrepit and unsanitary. Surely a museum can be opened on the lower level dedicated to the dirt and grime that have collected for decades on the bathroom walls. Their laughingstock of a handicapped stall barely has enough room for a pogo stick, much less a wheelchair. The bathroom door is a lovely 5 ton slab of steel which requires a superhuman effort to open it. The odor is reminiscent of a summer day ages ago at Fresh Kills. An absolutely terrible bathroom, but there’s one which is far worse believe it or not.

1- Silver Center, 7th Floor. Ah yes, the 7th floor men’s room at the Silver Center. The worst of the W.C.s on campus. Where to begin with all the things that are wrong with it. For starters we’ll go with terrible location as it is near the hallway connecting the Silver Center to the Waverly Building and just a few feet from the usual throngs of students entering and exiting the elevators. Then there’s the size of the bathrooms which is reminiscent of the cubicles found on an airplane and the narrow stalls that practically forces users to enter and remain sideways. For that matter, it is sometimes best to stand sideways in the stalls since they almost always neglect to have toilet paper and don’t expect to leave the bathroom with clean hands since soap is usually at a premium. The lights don’t work above the handicapped stall. Though it is understandable that bathrooms are not the best-smelling places the odor of Silver’s 7th floor men’s room would even cause a waste treatment worker to wince and squirm. Lastly there is the personal anecdote from my undergrad days about a decade ago when I went to the 7th floor men’s room on a Friday afternoon and had to wait for about 20 minutes to use the handicapped stall. Why so? Because two gentlemen decided to engage in some afternoon delight and apparently didn’t think that anybody would intrude on their tryst. Naive fool that I was I decided to wait it out and after they were done and left the bathroom I tried to go in. But my need to go to the men’s room rapidly went away once I got a good view and smell of the mess they left behind (pun sort of intended). Ah, the lovely memories.

Dishonorable mentions:
  • Gallatin Hall: Heavy doors and diminutive stalls make Gallatin’s restroom hard to use.
  • Tisch School of the Arts, 1st floor: Easy access from the lobby but only when the lounge is not busy and the bathroom itself is quite dirty.

I have never been in the bathrooms selected by the article as best and worst which is why I did not rate them. Most of the time the abovementioned bathrooms have served their basic purpose and have gotten me out of a jam like the time I stumbled drunk on a Saturday night into D’Agostino Hall a few years ago and got permission to use their men’s room. Better a shitty bathroom than no restroom at all, perhaps.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tidbits: On pins and needles

A view of the Queensboro Bridge, via this site

I am a wee bit nervous tonight on account that I’ve been a news junkie all day paying attention to Midterm Election coverage. I went out this morning with my mom to go vote at P.S. 219 and I felt fantastic doing so. Ever since I was a little kid I was very proud of voting rights in this country and it’s a great privilege to have. It was that pride in civic duty (as well as the strong possibility of bringing in a divided government to break up the Republican juggernaut) that compelled to go out and vote even though my body was killing me from having gone out on Monday.

Besides today’s election coverage I’ve been a little jittery over my dentist’s appointment Wednesday morning. The thought of needles, scrapers and other sharp devices being jabbed and prodded in my mouth does not bode me well. That’s a minor worry to have yet naturally I’m taking it too seriously. Oh well, I’ll probably be feeling better in about 12 hours from now so I better stop drowning in a glass of water.

On to the tidbits:

* So my roommate from DC in ’02 that visited New York did not bother to call me and figure out a time for us to meet. The weather during the weekend of October 28th was terrible but I had hoped to see him and his friends briefly. That was all for naught, unfortunately, but maybe there will be a chance next year. It’s too bad because I was hoping to take them to Lucky Cheng’s as well as the recently opened Automat-like place in the East Village. Perhaps I can indulge certain people in some fun and debauchery if they ever decide to visit NYC!

* Admittedly my undergrad alma mater has been involved in some recent events that can only be described as shameful and pathetic. Thankfully, FIU does produce smart, creative students as evidenced by performance artist and grad student Becky Flowers via her ingenuous blog. Thank you Becky!

* Metafilter is always great to read and that’s evidenced by these posts on pictures of the world’s subways and an analysis of Wikihelp. Another great read is Newyorkology who published a list of outstanding New York blogs several months ago.

* When does a political phrase turn from annoying to an absolute hackneyed cliché? Here’s a clue – government officials are relying on the term “stay the course”…in Canada.

* It was hilarious to hear goal calls set to the tune of old 80s hits, but it would’ve been sheer bliss to have heard him sing to the tune of Pimpinela during last Sunday’s Arsene Wenger-Alan Pardew spat.

* I would much rather eat a cardboard pizza box than Domino's latest godforsaken pizza creation.

* Unbelievable. If only the Queensboro Bridge would look this nice.

* My ego thanks US Soccer for “listening” to one of my previous posts and accepting an invitation to play in next year’s Copa America.

Good night and thank you.