Sunday, September 26, 2010

Making a Subway Map XIV


You won't believe this. I know I don't.

I think it's done.

Experience has taught me that when I think something is done, I should take another look at it, and find the silly mistakes. So I'm not actually putting it out yet.

But: here's your sneak peek.

The release will be a better quality image file than this.

There are a lot of small changes since last time. I can't even remember them all.

Adding the water led me to rearranging some lines along the shore.

The Rockaway line ended up going farther out to the right. Here's the before and after. Notice especially the Long Island Rail Road lines, and the lower position of J F K Airport.

And Staten Island changed again.

I'm getting tired of looking at the diagram.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fun Run


I ran President Bollinger's Ninth Annual Fun Run 5K on Friday morning. Woooo!


I started thinking about the Fun Run at Columbia back in July. There was a big question in my mind about what state my injured foot would be in by September, but I was hoping it would recover by then.

The reason the Fun Run was a big deal for me is that I never run with people. I hardly even run where people can see me. Obviously a few people do, but not many are on the road when I am out, at dawn. There's only one of them I have spoken with: Joe the ticket agent at South Orange station mentioned to me that he saw me sometimes when he was driving to work. There are a few other runners I've seen more than once, but we're going different ways, and in semi darkness.

I was self-conscious about it. At the very beginning I was huffing and puffing and probably did look ridiculous, but seriously, I knew by June that I was cruising nicely at my eleven minute mile pace, and I should not have worried about it. But still.

Anyway as I began to be able to run again in August I started to think I could do the Fun Run. I was holding myself back to two separate miles, not three. In mid month I measured out kilometers instead of miles on my usual route, using Gmap Pedometer. Two kilometers is about a mile and 1300 feet, so I decided to switch to two separate 2K runs. I figured that was what I could do. Run the first and last 2K and walk the middle one.

The first day I tried, I did it. I started the first 2K where I usually started the first mile. It felt strange not stopping when I got to my familiar finish line (the word SCHOOL painted in the road), but I kept rolling another 1300 feet a new finish line. It was tiring but OK. I walked forward about 0.8K to the usual second mile starting line, and ran 2K again, slightly different course than the mile, because right after the second mile end point is a dark uneven footpath that I did not want to hit running.

It was OK, but I really felt it in my thighs as I walked home. It's that feeling that is not pain or soreness but that tells me I have used those muscles. It's a nice feeling. I realized I had not felt it for a while. Maybe I was going too easy doing the same run every time, and needed the extra challenge. And my foot held out.


There were a lot of unknowns. I both like and dislike unknowns. Unknowns are annoying. But it's good to conquer some once in a while. I registered for the run online. I went to the check-in last Wednesday and gave them the release form stating that I and my heirs (!) would hold Columbia harmless for any injuries or death that would occur from doing this ill-conceived thing I was about to do. I told almost no one I was going to run. It would be easier to weasel out. On the other hand I left my race number on top of my desk at work. Ambiguity.

When I got out of the subway Friday morning there was a misty rain in the air. This was good. It would be cool and not sunny. The rain stopped by race time but it still was cool.

I stopped by my office and picked up the number, and went off to the gym to get a locker and change. I could see people setting up for the run on College Walk. So I had the right day, and I wasn't imagining the whole thing. You can see the state my mind was getting into.

I was out on Low Plaza by 8:00, for the 8:30 start. Lots of people were gathering. Not many older than 30, as I expected. There were several hundred of of us. I had not realized how big a thing this was.

I would not be able to walk my usual half mile to warm up, so I kept walking around on the plaza and ran a few sprints. I tried the foot stretch to loosen up, a little too well, because the foot started to feel sore from doing the stretch. Damn. But I was not going to stop now unless I had to.

Lee Bollinger walked into the crowd. He's a runner. As start time approached an announcer suggested "serious runners" assemble at the front, but be sure to leave room for President Bollinger. I found myself in the middle of the crowd.


We were off. It was slow going in the crowd on College Walk. Police stopped traffic on Broadway and Riverside Drive for us. I deliberately took it easy down 116th St hill and the park path hill because of the impact of each step being lower than the one before. Going slow here was not a problem though. Most people were not going any faster than I wanted to go.

It turned out to be great running with people. I have to do it again some time. Many were going at about my pace.

Members of the track and field team were standing along the course cheering us on. That was a great idea. Between that and the human tide I was in, I think I was running a little faster and, as it turned out, a little more than I had planned.

There's a long straight flat section in the park, the roof over the railroad, that gives an impression from either end of limitless perspective. I thought that was going to be tough to face. None of the roads in town are like that. But having all the other people around prevented me ever getting a good look at how far it extended.

I had measured out the K points on the course. In the official map on the right— corrected to show the course we actually ran— circles mark the beginning and end of the middle 1K. It's from where I would reach the tennis courts next to the river (running south), around the courts, back north under the highway, up to the main park level, and on to the fork in the path near the Dinosaur Playground.

I was going to stop running at 2K but I did not. I went past the tennis courts to the far turn at about 2.2K. From there I planned to walk the rest of the middle K but I did not do that either. I walked only a short distance to the back of the courts and then ran another 0.4K to the bottom of the only steep uphill. I walked the hill and a little more for about 0.3K, and then ran the rest. So I think I ran 4.5K.

I passed other people in the last half K. Clearly my brain was getting addled. I was starting to feel weird. The finish line. I sprinted the last fifty feet. Then I could stop. They did not announce time, so I don't know when I finished.

Note: I was not last.

Now all I had to do was walk back up the grade to College Walk. I always walk uphill fast, and did so, passing many people. On College Walk, I grabbed a water bottle and waited on line to to pick up the official race T shirt. Off to the gym, shower, change. I took my time.

A clock showed 9:30 when I left the gym. I was surprised, because it seemed like a lot of time had elapsed since we finished the run. Back track... if I maintained my usual 11 minutes per mile running and 16 minutes walking, which I think I did do, calculate... ((2.8*11) + (0.3*16)) ...that would be about 36 minutes. I had predicted to myself about 40 minutes. Nice.

Later on my foot hurt.


I'm surprised I was not able to find photos on the web, two days later. I saw people taking pictures along the way. Nobody shared? Anyway there are four pictures from the Seventh Annual run here. It looked the same this year.


In other news, not much happened on the subway diagram. Busy week. There should be some developments by next time.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Invasion from Beyond!! part 2


The subway diagram is coming along. I have done most of the water features, and moved a few things around to make the water features look right. I put in ferries. The end is in sight.

My 9/11 post from last year is here. It has my photos from 1977 of views from the World Trade Center.

This year Ted Koppel wrote,
The goal of any organized terrorist attack is to goad a vastly more powerful enemy into an excessive response. And over the past nine years, the United States has blundered into the 9/11 snare with one overreaction after another.
. . .

[T]he insidious thing about terrorism is that there is no such thing as absolute security.
I was thinking of writing my thoughts about flying to England at the start of October 2001, and the expensive and invasive passenger screening Security Theater we have developed since that time, that has transformed air travel into an ordeal no one would have tolerated before. How much have the actions of nineteen people one day nine years ago changed life in America? Who won the battle of 9/11? But I'm just not into it.

Instead, let's shift from the tragic to the absurd. Because that's how life goes. It's... Invasion from Beyond!! part 2.


If you have any trouble following the storyline you might want to start at part 1. I'm not promising it will help. I was twelve, OK?

Page 9:

Narrator: Now to the Wondercar— It has left Dogville and is coming into the Oceanport Jetport...
Wonder Dog: Let's go to the base! I wonder if they have any clues as to the why of these raids!
Wonder Pup: If they do, I hope we can follow them up!

Wonder Dog: Think! Isn't there anything that the plane had that was valuable?
Jetport person: An aluminum plane, with copper wiring, and practically nothing else? What could be valuable?

Excited person: General! Special report from Berkhart Island! They say a flying saucer came in very close to the island—

Excited person: They said it emitted a ray— which made the island glow and the ground hum! They had a giant earthquake— then it ended abruptly!
Excited person: We sent out a plane which saw nothing!

Page 10:

Excited person: What was unusual was the very fact that he saw nothing! He didn't even see the island! Don't say his position was wrong— it wasn't!

Wonder Dog: Another disappearance!! Aha! What island was that? Berkhart?! First an aluminum plane now Berk— Berkhart Island?!

Wonder Dog: Of course! That's it! Berkhart Island's aluminum deposits! They're after aluminum!

Jetport person: They're after aluminum? Is disintegrating the latest way of doing it?

Wonder Dog: I wonder?

Page 11:

Narrator: Supermouse has heard with his super-hearing of the Berkhart Island disaster and is now airborne!
Supermouse: I wonder if there's any clues here!

Supermouse: Why there's one now! What's it watching?

Supermouse: It's going away now... I'd better follow.

Supermouse: Looks like it's headed for space! And fast!
Supermouse: Maybe it's leaving Earth!

Page 12:

Narrator: Soon in space.

Supermouse (thinking): Weatherchief I, a weather satellite!
Supermouse (thinking): It was launched by the Oceanport Weather Bureau in December, 1962. What does the spaceship want here?

Supermouse (thinking): There goes a ray!

(The satellite disappears)

Page 13:

Supermouse (thinking): I'll report this to the jetport... Say, where's that flying saucer?

Supermouse (thinking): It's not anywhere!

Narrator: Back at the jetport
Supermouse: And it just disappeared— some form of disintegration!
Jetport person: Wonder Dog was just here, Supermouse!

Jetport person: He connected the aluminum plane's disintegration with the aluminum on Berkhart Island.
Supermouse: They're after aluminum?

Supermouse: Come to think of it, that weather satellite was made of aluminum!

Page 14:

Narrator: And in the Wonder Plane
Wonder Pup: Where are we headed, Wonder Dog?
Wonder Dog: Berkhart Island— at least where Berkhart Island is supposed to be!

Wonder Pup: What's that up ahead? A flying saucer?
Wonder Dog: I hope not!

Wonder Dog: It's Supermouse!

Supermouse: That same smell— here and nowhere else— somehow I think I smelled it before this adventure!

Wonder Pup: Whew! What a smell, Wonder Dog!
Wonder Dog: I wonder if it's connected in any way with this case?

Narrator: What is this smell? Where did Supermouse smell it before? SEE CHAPTER 3.

I will not answer those questions now. You will find the answers some day, but not next week.

I think Supermouse switched from talking to himself on page 11 to thinking on page 12 because I knew he couldn't talk in space. I was so smart. But did I realize the low comedy inherent in Wonder Pup asking about a smell and Wonder Dog acting like he has no idea what it is? Probably not.



This Friday I am planning to do something I have never done, and I'm a little uncertain about it. If I don't chicken out entirely I will tell you how it went next week.

Subway diagram fans: Just hang in there. It will happen. And it will be good.

Next time:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Making a Subway Map XIII


If you had told me in May that I would still be working on the subway diagram in September, I would have despaired. But maybe now you can see why I kept revising the same old file for so long instead of redrawing it.

This week, I learned how to use the "live paint bucket" in Illustrator, or at least I learned it enough to use it to insert water features.

Here is the upper left portion of the map with possibly final water features. This is 50% size (if you click on it.)

Look at that. Manhattan is an island, and we have two major rivers in New Jersey.

You can imagine the East River running to the right into Long Island Sound, and the rest of the Upper Bay running from the lower edge to the Narrows. You'll have to imagine, because that's all I can do myself. I haven't drawn them yet.

I mentioned having trouble with Staten Island back in number XI, and I thought I had it solved then, but it was no good. When I tried to draw a reasonably simplified outline of the island around the railroad as I had drawn it, it didn't work out at all. Today I spent a while with it.

Here's the state as of August 20:

Not bad really, as far as it goes. The key points are to get St George positioned so I can draw a ferry line to it from South Ferry, Manhattan ; to show how it leaves the waterfront south of Clifton and runs off inland ; and to get Tottenville near Perth Amboy. As to the last point, even though "you can't get there from here" at the present time, there was once and might conceivably someday be a ferry the short distance between the two places.

Below is what I have right now, very much work in progress that may still change again:

That's what the water features look like in progress: tentative lines on the right, the beginnings of precise outlines at lower left, and completed work.

As you can see I have moved the Staten Island Railway a little upward and simplified its outline, which allowed also moving Perth Amboy a little upward as well. The stations St George to Clifton are along the waterfront, and Tottenville is not only closer to Perth Amboy but also on the waterfront (the real station is almost in the water).

I broke up the long string of stations by shifting the names from left side to right side south of Great Kills. I broke at that particular point because Great Kills has long been a short turn terminal for a few trains, and also simply because it's about halfway along. That's eighteen stations by the way.

The peculiar shape of Staten Island itself stands a chance of being reasonably represented by the outline I have in progress. It's as distorted as anything else on the diagram, of course. I had some much worse variations that I did not save.

Here's the center of the diagram at 100% size. This part is very close to finished.

Work since the last time I gave you a good look at this part:

• Improved the Chambers St, Park Place, World Trade Center transfer lines.

• Added a space between the yellow and orange lines around Lexington Ave station. I had had them touching, which was wrong because they are separate pairs of tracks.

• Used broken lines for portions under construction (purple, yellow, grey). That will be explained in the diagram legend, but I think it almost does not need explanation. I might put the word "open" and the projected year next to each one. I know work has also just started on the new Hudson Tunnel in New Jersey, but so little that I'm holding off on showing that for now.

• Moved the red line, upper left here, as I mentioned last time.

• Shifted a few things to line up with the final location of the East River.

• A trivial and almost invisible feature. If you look very closely you can see which lines cross the East River by bridge. There's a little white space around the rail line. I don't know why I bothered doing this.

That's it for this week.

Continued: Making a Subway Map XIV.