14 August 2007


I was at my lawyer's this morning, signing some contracts (don't you love the way I write "at my lawyer's" as if I have a lawyer independent of this one very specific transaction I hired him for? I always love the moment on crime dramas when, as the Lenny Briscoe character is putting the cuffs on, the bad guy says to his secretary or his girlfriend in the cut-off shorts and tank top who made the mistake of opening the door to the cops, "call my lawyer," as if that person is on speed dial. Who are these people who have personal lawyers?) and while I was waiting for him to get off the phone, I read the top page of a contract that happened to be within easy sight.

The contract was unusual looking, in that it looked typed instead of printed, which was explained when I saw the date in the first paragraph -- 1988. Though there was no heading on it that said this, as I read it it became clear that it was a pre-nup, because it outlined what property would remain in individual ownership after the marriage. I can only imagine it was on my lawyer's desk because the signatories were getting a divorce.


10 August 2007

Not Said in All of This

It's raining again this morning, and while the subways are all running normally (except mine -- there was an "earlier incident" at 125th Street that took out the 1/2/3 for a half hour), the MTA is on high alert.

In the first days of the post mortem of the GFof07, there's one thing that keeps coming up that I find really interesting. One of the reasons for the track flooding was that the MTA didn't have enough workers on the tracks to clear debris that was blocking the drains. Newspapers, principally. There's a reason you use newspaper for elementary school papier mache projects. It takes a long time of sogginess before that stuff disintegrates.

So the MTA has to put more track workers out to clear tracks, is the conclusion that seems to have been reached, by the MTA at least. But you know what? How about asking -- or even telling, there's a crazy thought -- passengers not to throw newspapers and other trash on the track? How about sending a bill to the publishers of the Metro and AM New York, the two free newspaper that are pressed into your hand outside of every subway station?

Yes, it feels like we pay a lot to ride a subway that's dirty and hot and breaks down in the rain. But does that give everyone the right to treat it like their personal dumpster? Has the concept of personal responsibility completely evaporated in this city?

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08 August 2007

The Great Flood of Aught Seven

It's hard to be an Excellent Walker in August, particularly the hot August we've been having. But I had no choice but to hoof it to work today, since all the subways were shut down after the three-inches-in-an-hour of rain we had this morning. By the time I got to the office, sweaty and on my way to a sunburn, I was in no mood for the cheery greeting I got from the receptionist, who, on a normal day has a problem getting here as early as 10am, so who is she to be all "I'm at work before you" on me?

People are complaining that the MTA should be better prepared for these situations (apparently many of the water pumps date from the 1930s, though I can't find a source for that), and I guess they should be. I think it's unrealistic, though, to expect a fully modernized system when that system is over 100 years old, operates 24/7, and transports millions of people a day. If you've tried to take the subway on the weekend, you know that they are always working on it. There's only so much they can do, though, without shutting the whole thing down. With that kind of daily use, they might as well be bailing water out of a sinking ship with a teaspoon.

What I do think is possible is a better communications system, both in terms of the hardware in the stations and the updates on the website, and getting instructions to the MTA workers who are -- rightly -- interrogated by commuters when something is wrong. All of those things failed this morning, and are still in failure mode at 2:45pm. The best information I got was from the media, who had dispatched reporters to various sites to, you know, report what was happening. Considering how likely it is that we'll have a true emergency in the subway one of these days -- i.e., a terrorist attack -- and that it's been six years since we've put urban terrorism on the top of our "to worry about a lot" list, you'd think we'd have at least made some progress there. You would, however, be wrong.

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