Transit strike

I stayed home today to try to beat the end of a bad cold that has been going on for almost two weeks. It was made worse by the fact that I had to walk to work the last two days because of the transit strike. The strike is allegedly over now, and the busses and subway system are slowly coming back to life, but I think it’s 50/50 on having my F train operational tomorrow morning for work. A bus runs right outside of our apartment on Grand St, but I haven’t seen one yet. Who knows. I’m sure someone in Chinatown has “I survived the subway strike” t-shirts for sale, though.

I haven’t written anything about the strike, mostly because I’ve been sick and it has taken all of my effort just to get to and from work and eat a couple of meals a day. I’m surprised the whole “fuck-bush” crowd wasn’t a lot more virulent about supporting their socialist brothers by endorsing the strike. The whole situation was stupid, and simply caused by the greed of the TWU. Every day, you hear major stories about companies like GM on the brink of death because they basically oversubscribed on pension and didn’t plan on how much they needed to put away to keep people going on retirement. And the TWU is that way about MTA jobs – they basically want people to work for 20 years and then somehow magically withdraw full pay for another 50. And without a magic money printing machine, you can’t do that. Sure, the MTA has a surplus, but that wouldn’t pay for a percent of a percent of the money they would need to sustain that kind of retirement ponzi scheme. MTA workers make good money for their moderate amount of work, and get pretty damn good benefits. This wasn’t an example of working-class Joe sticking it to The Man; it was plain greed, taking a city hostage. I’m glad that most New Yorkers seemed to recognize this and side against the TWU, which is why I think they eventually backed down. Hell, even the TWU’s parent union didn’t side with them.

I’ve been reading a lot, because I’ve been sick and also have a lot of books coming in as presents. I started reading Neal Cassady’s collected letters, which were interesting, but I stalled about halfway through. Maybe I’ll get back to it later. I still have more astronaut stuff to read, and I’m about halfway through Michael Collins’ autobiography. He was the CSM pilot on Apollo 11, i.e. the one that didn’t walk on the moon. His book is probably one of the best astronaut biographies I’ve read. He was a test pilot, and seems much more “human” than others, in the way he describes things. He’s not writing as a big huge mega-person who is larger than life, or a politician, or someone shilling you a message via the fact that they were spam in a can a few times. He spends a lot more time talking about how they got ready and developed things for these trips, and most of his writing is as a pilot, not a scientist or a spokesman. It’s good stuff. There’s a new Neil Armstrong authorized bio out now, so I will have to order a copy and contrast/compare. I guess Armstrong was on 60 Minutes recently, and they showed him flying his glider. I wish I could track down info on that and find out what he’s flying.

That’s about it here. I think I’m going to go back to bed until dinner.

EKGs and LASIK

It has been a long week, and has involved many views of myself I’d normally not see. First, I had an annual physical, and I guess that view involved an EKG, which is always weird, but was, luckily, fine. I am under 40, so I did not get the pleasure of another little test that won’t be named. I did get a bunch of blood tests done, so in a few days, I will get to see another view of myself, in the form of little numbers telling me the range of various chemicals in my blood, which is always a little more interesting than just a glance in the mirror. Nothing strange expected there, although I’m sure my cholestorol is high and that’s always a fun bridge to cross with any doctor, especially one who loves writing prescriptions.

On Friday morning, I woke up three hours early to Blizzard 05 (a couple of inches) and trudged my way to another doctor, this time to look at my eyes and see if I can get LASIK. I had a short battery of interesting tests, including a computerized photo-mapping of my eye, which is a new one for me. I got to see a big color digital picture of my ocular devices, which resembled a view of a sun-like star, but crossed with a couple of blood vessels of some sort. I also got some numbing drops, which are not exactly the fun party game you might expect, and the nurse stuck a very sharp, very tiny probe right into my eye to get a depth of my cornea. Unfortunately, after all of this fun, it turns out I can’t get LASIK, or the also-nifty LASEK or PRK surgeries, because my prescription is too high and my cornea is too thin for all of that slicing and dicing. When they do the correction, they carve down the cornea to get the right shape, and in my case, there’s just not enough to carve. There is a procedure that’s brand new where they implant a tiny sliver of a lens underneath there, and you have a permanent contact lens that never needs cleaning. But this is about twice as expensive, and it’s more of a pain in the ass (or eye, rather), and it’s all too many if if ifs.

So today I went to LensCrafters and ran through another set of tests, this time for plain old glasses. I got more pictures of myself in the form of eye shots, and did a bunch of “this or this”. The doctor, it turns out, is also a graduate of IU, and we roamed the Bloomington campus at the same time. Small world. Big prescription though, and even bigger bill by the time they got those high-index lenses all figured out. Hey, more views of myself, with new frames! I won’t get to see them for a few more weeks, while they hunt down the vintage Coke bottles on e-bay to make my lenses. And then I got a haircut, and I can see my ears!

And that’s about it. I need to go shop for a few more presents online, and spend the last few dollars I have on that. And I’m reading the new David Foster Wallace already, thanks to Marie, who was also thanked inside. So, off to that.