Wednesday Night Trivia at Kilo Bravo, September 14

Although I missed last week’s trivia night due to a really bad cold, I heard that the quizzing festivities went undeterred. Mike Q stepped from behind the bar to play quiz master. I heard it was a blast.

But now my cold has passed, and I’ll be back to hosting again on Wednesday night. Again, there will be prizes…

  1. First place: $25 bar tab
  2. Second place: $15 bar tab
  3. Third place: a round of shots for your team.

Come on out! We start signing up teams at 8:30.

Wednesday Night Trivia at Kilo Bravo

Wednesday Night Trivia at Kilo Bravo, September 7

Update: I won’t be able to host trivia tonight because I came down with a bad cold. I’ll be there next week, though.

Tomorrow night, I’ll be hosting Wednesday Night Trivia at Kilo Bravo, located at 180 N. 10th St in Williamsburg, on Wednesday nights starting at 8:30 PM.

My friend Mike Q works the bar during the night and contributes a bunch of questions, usually with decadal themes such as 1990s fashion, 1990s music, 1980s movies, and 1970s sports.

My own contributions include current events of the past week and a picture round to identify something I put on the TV screens at the bar. You can see last week’s questions, below!

Come out with a team, join one, or play solo. It is half-price chicken wings until 10:00, and there are prizes:

  • $25 bar tab for the first-place team
  • $15 bar tab for the second-place team
  • a round of shots for the third-place team

The fun starts at 8:30. Hope to see you there!

UberPOOL Rides are now a Tax-Free Benefit

When I first started working at CUNY in 2008, I signed up for the Commuter Benefits Program offered to its employees. The program, now administered by WageWorks, allows you to set aside an amount of your choosing to be deposited onto a Commuter Card. The amount you set aside, up to $255 per month, will be deducted from your paycheck, pre-tax, meaning that those contributions won’t be taxed and you pocket the savings. 1

For New York City employees using WageWorks, the Commuter Card can be used to buy rides on the following systems:

  • NYC Transit busses and subways
  • Long Island Railroad
  • Metro North Railroad
  • NJ Transit
  • PATH
  • and a bunch of other transit lines in the region.

Another way you can use your Commuter Card is to pay for uberPOOL rides. But before you start booking rides on POOL instead of riding the train or bus, be aware of a few nuances that might make using your Commuter Card a little onerous.

  1. You will only be connected to drivers in full-size vehicles that can carry six or more passengers.
  2. Your ETA may be longer when requesting uberPOOL or $5 POOL with your commuter benefits prepaid cards.

While I appreciate the creative thinking that made possible using transit funds for a certain Uber rides, I would love to be able to use my Commuter Card for bike share expenses. It’s something that other New Yorkers have desired, but alas, that is not yet the case.


  1. Starting this year, New York City requires all employers with twenty or more full-time employees to offer this program for their full-time staff. 

Apologies for the Cobwebs

Yes, I’m still alive! No, I haven’t abandoned this website.

With only three posts since Memorial Day weekend, I know it looks bad, but I will be posting again soon. The summer months, while certainly not boring or uneventful, did not find me with much to share with the world.

But summer is over, and I will be back to sharing again, including a few backdated posts.

Ball Busters Win 2016 Heckscher Cup

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It took three years, but we did it! We reclaimed the Lower Manhattan Softball League’s Heckscher championship cup.

The team looks a lot different than the previous championship teams in 2012 and in 2013, and not only because we sport pink livery.

Johnny, our longtime manager and spiritual leader, moved to Miami last fall and bequeathed the team to another player. With Johnny leaving, a lot of our veterans left, too. Some moved away while others felt it was time to move on.

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As the team changed around me, I found myself playing a diminished role. Instead of pitching one or both games of the weekly double header, as I had done since joining the team in 2010, I returned to the outfield and batting as an extra-hitter in the bottom of the lineup.

I didn’t complain about my role, however, because the team dominated throughout the regular season, finishing 21-3. But by the start of the playoffs, we were losing players left and right. Some opted to play in other tournaments. A few key players were hurt. But we held on and rolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The finals, on the other hand, were much more challenging. Largely because our regular pitcher, who dominated throughout the year, missed the finals because he was taking his family on a weeklong vacation.[^ family first]

Below is a game-by-game recap of the finals.

Game 1

After a lengthy rain delay, we played a very stressful first game against the Big Red Machine, the finals opponent we vanquished in 2012. It was back and forth until the sixth inning, when we broke through with four runs. We held on in the seventh to win 13-9.

Game 2

In the second game, we scored a run early in the game but fell behind shortly thereafter. We played a pretty sloppy game, letting in a bunch of runs, but the shoddy defense did not factor in the game as we never scored more than one run in the game, losing 7-1.

Game 3

By the start of the deciding game, Hermes, our pitcher, was gassed. Our coaches asked me to pitch the third and deciding game of the finals. The rest of the team seemed concerned because they hadn’t seen me pitch the whole year. I too shared some of their trepidation because I hadn’t thrown a pitch in Central Park all summer, but after a few minutes warming up, I found my groove.

We scored a run in the first inning and two more in the second, and our bats fell silent after that. But our paltry offense didn’t matter because our defense was impeccable. I gave up one run—a solo home run—on five hits and no walks. At just over thirty minutes, I’m pretty sure this was the fastest game I ever played in, largely accelerated to avoid the impending rain. We won the deciding game, 3-1, and were crowned champions shortly thereafter.

The One Club’s “Here are all the Black People” on September 30, 2016

The One Club, a non-profit organization devoted to developing creative talent in the advertising industry is hosting its annual multicultural creative career fair, Here Are All the Black People, taking place on Friday, September 30th at The Times Center in New York City.

Although I’m a little confused about The One’s choice in using Cornel West waxing rhapsodically about love in the video above, I am pleased to see the culture industries finally acknowledging their failings in fostering multiculturalism on television, in movies, and in advertising. After all, organized and public protests, such as “Oscars so White,” brought attention to these issues and the industries have little choice but to respond.

I hope this event, and others like it, encourage underrepresented and marginalized peoples to enter these creative fields and effect change in these industries.

Interested students should sign up and attend this event and apply for a stipend to offset any expenses in attending.

Office 365 for Students at CUNY Queens College, but Not Faculty or Staff

Earlier this week, I attended a group session about Microsoft’s Office 365, the productivity software and services subscription. Of the four colleges where I have taught, the suite has been offered at only one: CUNY Queens College. However, as far as I know, Office 365 is only available to currently enrolled students and, strangely, not available to faculty or staff.

In today’s session, the session coordinator and a number of participants, including many who also teach at CUNY, insisted that faculty and staff have access to Office 365. I was a little embarrassed to have been corrected in a semi-public setting like that.

After searching various help documents on the Queens College website, it appears that I was right and everyone else was wrong. Office 365 is not available to faculty or staff at CUNY Queens College, only currently enrolled students.

A response from the IT Help Desk at Queens College also confirms this as much:

The Office 365 is for attending students only. Faulty and staff do however have the Office suite on their campus computers. They can also download a copy of Office 2016 through the CUNYPortal e-mall for home use. https://cunyportal.cuny.edu/cuny_eMall/docs/software-eMall.html

This I knew. I have a local version of Office 2016 for Home and Business on my Mac, but I am most interested in the Office 365 cloud functions and its apps for mobile devices.

I suspect that the participants in today’s session can’t distinguish between Office 365 as a subscription service and Office 2016 as the downloadable software that comes with Office 365. However, because the participants seem very clear on what Adobe Creative Cloud is, I suspect that it’s partly Microsoft’s problem with explaining the Office 365 product and distinguishing it from the venerable desktop apps, like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.

But I am still puzzled as to why faculty can’t get Office 365 like the students. My sense it that has to do with students use one email system while faculty/staff are another. Students use Office 365 accounts with qmail.cuny.edu addresses, while faculty and staff use Outlook and are “grandfathered” with the older qc.cuny.edu addresses. Authorizing the site license might only allow a single domain associated with each organization.

On the other hand, both groups have access to Google Apps for Education, even if QC students, faculty, or staff are unable to use Gmail.

BBQ Grilling

Mark Sultan, also known as BBQ, has played some great shows around these parts as of late. However, at a recent show at Union Pool, someone threw a beer can at him, and he rightly and figuratively flipped his wig, walked off the stage, and ended the show.

Mark Sultan - Union Pool - 2015-03-07 (5)

Since then, I saw him play with King Khan as “King Khan and the BBQ Show” in November at the Knitting Factory. However, throughout the show, he seemed to be on high alert and castigated the audience, almost challenging someone to throw a beer can… again.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Knitting Factory, Brooklyn

As Oh My Rockness’s Patrick McNamara recalls, or at least tries to…

Was it King Khan & The Shrines or King Khan & The BBQ Show that I saw in concert recently (at some venue or another) where King Khan’s drummer insulted the crowd all night…something about New Yorkers being too cool or being just a bunch of trust fund kids or something… I can’t remember…

It was a very uncomfortable situation.

You’d think after that, Sultan—or BBQ—would never want to play this town again. Apparently not!

Details

  • August 19, 2016
  • Union Pool, 484 Union Ave, Brooklyn
  • $12.00
  • Buy Tickets

Ride to Montauk: The End

As I noted on Friday, I had planned to ride to Montauk over the weekend. For the first time since 2012, I rode the 108-mile route from Babylon instead of the entire 150-mile course from NYC. I was concerned that rain would spoil the ride, but fortunately, no rain fell on us at any point in the day. Another factor for choosing the shorter course was that I was nursing a cold and didn’t think it wise to ride for twelve hours on a cool, 50° day. Indeed, throughout the ride, I blew snot rockets to relieve my stuffy nose, and the morning after the ride, I had hastened my nasal congestion and developed a nasty cough to accompany it.

Selecting the shorter course allowed my friend Andre and I to cruise all day at a brisk pace, averaging 17 MPH throughout the entire day. We arrived in Montauk in a little under eight hours after leaving Babylon, including about 6-¼ hours of pedaling time. I’m pretty sure this was the fastest ride, over fifty miles in distance, I had ever ridden.

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A lot of that was due to finding some other capable riders as drafting partners. For about forty miles, we pace-lined with a group from the Mineola Bicycle Club until one of their riders began to tire and dropped back in speed to conserve energy. For another fifteen miles, from the end of Dune Road to the rest stop in Water Mill, we drafted with two Filipino guys in their twenties. Andre and I—both about forty years in age—kept apace with them, but we separated at the rest stop. I had only worn a short-sleeve bicycling jersey and those budget bike shorts, and I begged Andre to keep pedaling so I could stay warm on a cool and breezy day.

Having done this ride eight times now, I didn’t really encounter any surprises except that the rest stops were stocked as we arrived at each one. As this is a fully supported ride, it was nice to arrive at the rest stops that were still fully stocked. When you ride the longer courses, such as the 150-mile route, those riding the shorter distances arrive earlier and eat everything in sight. By the time you arrive at the latter rest stops, you’ll find that all the food has been picked clean, and the volunteer staffers can offer you nothing more than a little sympathy to power you through the final miles to Montauk. I finally had a slice of pizza at the Westhampton rest stop and fresh whipped cream for my pie at the Amagansett rest stop. Because we were able to eat a substantial amount of food at each rest stops, we bypassed the cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop and the lobster roll at Tully’s in Hampton Bays.

Pie from Briermere Farms: strawberry rhubarb and blueberry crisp, topped with freshly whipped cream

Some food is better for eating than sharing on Instagram.

Besides, all the locals seem disheartened with the new ownership at Tully’s, and, if I really have to choose, I’ll pick pie over cookies any day.

Riding to Montauk: The Beginning

Tomorrow, for the eighth time since 2008, I will be riding to Montauk on a bicycle.

This year, will be a little different than recent years because I plan to ride the 108-mile course, instead of the full 150-mile route. Earlier this afternoon, I dropped off my bike at the day-before check-in area on the far west side of Manhattan.

Caged

Caged, before heading to Babylon.

I opted for the 108-mile route, instead of the full 150-miler, this year for three reasons:

  1. I didn’t do as many long training rides as I have done in years past. Sure, I started the year with a bunch of rides in Southern California, including a century ride on New Year’s Day, but I only rode seven rides since then that were longer than fifty miles. In short, I’m not in good enough shape to comfortably ride for nearly twelve hours when my longest ride over the last four weeks required only five hours of actual riding time.
  2. The weather forecast calls for rain tomorrow. The only way I can escape the rain is to finish the ride by early afternoon, around 3:00 PM. The earliest I finished the 150-mile route was in 2013, when I finished a little after 5:00 PM.
  3. As I type, I feel like I’m coming down with a cold or a bad case of seasonal allergies. I have been fighting the temptation to take a nap all day. It might be best to take it easy and ride “only” a century tomorrow.

Though I am riding a shorter course, I won’t miss much. I rode the Brooklyn to Babylon section of the course earlier this week to mark the route with pink circles.

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And, with all due respect to the Lynbrook Fire Department, who hosts the westernmost rest stop, and the towns along the Babylon LIRR line, the best parts of the route are east of Babylon, anyway. That’s where you can find things like:

  • Beer samples at the Blue Point Brewery,
  • Cookies at Tate’s Bake Shop in East Moriches that aren’t available at the local bodega,
  • Lobster roll in Hampton Bays,
  • Pie!

And, yes, there’s beer and a hot shower upon arriving in Montauk.