Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Year That Was

  As this year draws to a close I find myself thinking back to everything that happened and picking my favourite memories. Unlike past years there weren't many hugely significant events in my life in 2011, but hundreds of moments that bring a smile to my heart and lips whenever they're recalled.

  One of the biggest things was Sandy's transformation. She's been seeing a lifestyle coach for over three months, not only has she lost over twenty pounds so far but she feels better mentally and physically. She looks better than ever and I'm really proud of her.

  Early in the year I made the decision to stop taking piano lessons. It wasn't an easy choice but with a limited amount of time I wasn't able to squeeze everything in, especially during the evenings. Some things like my favourite hobby (model-building) slipped by the wayside this year, which I've slowly been returning to. Through all of this I tried to keep up with my writing.

  When I began my blog in '08 I vowed that I'd always make time for you, my online friends and I've done my best to do that. 2011 has been the best year for this so far, not only for meeting new people but for strengthening my relationships with you guys both on and off my blog. You've talked to me of deaths and births, lost loves and new romances. Of the hope your graduations and new jobs bring. There were affairs and near-divorces, engagements, new pets, cars and homes. In a very real way I've felt as much a part of your lives as if we saw each other every day.

  2011 was a year of continued personal growth for me, of greater acceptance of other people's lifestyles and choices and meeting them with intensified curiosity. It allowed me to sharpen my communicative skills and reinforced what I've always believed, that it's even more important to listen than give advice (although I love being asked for my opinion). Some of you allowed me to go through some extremely personal things with you, and looking back I also realize more than ever how much I love these conversations and hope they'll continue.

  This year I accomplished something I never thought I would, which I'll be revealing in the upcoming month. I'm excited about it and I hope you'll stay tuned.

 As the remaining few days of this year wind down I hope you're left with some positive memories, as well as hope for what the New Year will bring. Thanks for being part of my life this year and I look forward to more time spent together.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!

  Since it's already Christmas in some parts of the world (and has been for some time) I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, happy Kwanza, Hanukkah or whatever other festivity you might be enjoying. May you be surrounded by joy and love, today and through the New Year.

  This is probably the most amazing Christmas e-card I've seen, I'm glad it's also on You Tube. I posted it on my Facebook page today but for those of you who I'm not connected with I'm sharing it here. (If you're a regular reader and would like to be friends on Facebook let me know).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Secret Sunday

Time for the 53rd round of Secret Sunday, a chance to share secrets and/or fantasies you've been keeping to yourself. Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain naughty.

All are valid.

Here's how it works:

1) This is open to anyone who wants to participate, from regular follower to casual visitor.

2) If this is something you'd like to run on your blog please feel free. Let me know and I'll follow along.

Note Secret Sunday will be taking a break over Christmas but will return on New Year's Day.
And now to it...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Apologies and Acceptance

Earlier this week I was in the middle of a situation that got me thinking about apologies and forgiveness. It was between two people, both of whom I know but who don't know each other. Person A unintentionally hurt Person B, there was a heated verbal exchange at the time which I witnessed and was drawn into. I tried to mediate but A wouldn't apologize and instead insisted on leaving, which only further infuriated B (she can be very headstrong and aggressive at times).

None of this involves Sandy by the way.

About twenty minutes later A phoned me and said he wanted to apologize face-to-face to B the next day. Sounds reasonable right? So I left a message with B to let her know. The following morning she called back and told me she appreciated that I cared enough to try to make things right (which I know she genuinely did), but that as far as she was concerned it was over and she didn't want to see his face again.

All this got me thinking. Although I didn't see the incident I do believe A was in the wrong, not because I want to side with B but because I know the circumstances behind what happened. And yes I believe he was also wrong in not staying to work things out at the time.


In the heat of the moment tempers and emotions flare and we don't always think clearly. I respected A for wanting to apologize to B, especially in person and not by phone or e-mail. The fact that B wouldn't accept and wanted nothing further to do with him or the situation was really disappointing. I've known her for years and would have hoped for better.

What are your thoughts on this? In what situations would you not accept an apology from someone?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Part Scrooge, Part Santa

Last week wasn't a particularly good one. The weeks leading up to Christmas are typically our busiest of the year at work, and with a few additional variables thrown in I found the stress was getting to me more than ever. It started affecting my disposition and I didn't like who I was becoming.

I always try to keep my attitude in check and remember that the people around me are rarely the source of the problem. A couple times I let it show that these things were getting the best of me, which isn't setting a great example for my crew. A few deep breaths and short walks usually did the trick.

It wasn't all bad though, actually most of it has been pretty manageable so far. I'm trying not to think too much about situations that are unresolved.  Somewhere along the way I decided to treat everyone to pizza for their hard work, it's not much but since I don't have a budget this kind of thing has to come out of my pocket. Sometimes you just have to take a moment in the chaos to enjoy yourself.

photo credit here.

Monday, December 12, 2011



Could we but give our souls a voice
Loud enough for those who doubt to hear,
We'd sing of summersongs within our hearts
And hear them echoed in return.

But soft words
Sometimes become weapons
Turned against us by those we hold dear
We watch our worlds crash around us,
Left to sweep up the pieces.

The threads that keep us together are thin
Woven in strands of fate and chance
A web which bends in the breeze
But is rarely strong enough
To hold against a fleeting wind.

Yet fleeting winds and fleeting moments
Are all we have
And all we cling to.
Forever hopeful
That those moments
Will never end. Registered & Protected

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Secret Sunday

  Time for the 52nd round of Secret Sunday, a chance to share secrets and/or fantasies you've been keeping to yourself. Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain naughty.

  All are valid.

Here's how it works:

1) This is open to anyone who wants to participate, from regular follower to casual visitor.

2) If this is something you'd like to run on your blog please feel free. Let me know and I'll follow along.

And now to it...

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Never am I more aware of my innocence lost than when I gaze into the eyes of a child at Christmas. Registered & Protected

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When It's Over

  We were talking yesterday about how we would like to be remembered after we're gone. I hope when that day comes my life can be summed up in four words: "He made a difference."

  How do you want to be remembered?

Photo credit here .

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Secret Sunday

Hey everyone, it's time for the 51st round of Secret Sunday, a chance to share secrets and/or fantasies you've been keeping to yourself. Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain naughty. All are valid.

Here's how it works:

1) This is open to anyone who wants to participate, from regular follower to casual visitor.

2) If this is something you'd like to run on your blog please feel free.

As always, I'm listening...

Friday, December 2, 2011

New York's First Subway- The Story of Alfred Beach

                                                            song starts at 0:10 seconds

  I've always romanticized the story of New York's first subway since I first heard this song by Klatuu many years ago. I love it because it tells the tale of one person with a vision and how he stopped at nothing to make it come true.

  Alfred Ely Beach was born on September 1, 1826 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was an avid inventor who secured several patents. In 1847 he got one for an improvement he made to the typewriter, ten years later he received a patent for a typewriter that created embossed letters which he saw as a way of educating and communicating with the blind.

  By 1849 Beach was being plagued by city traffic. From his office he'd hear noise from the over-congested streets below, and every night it took him nearly an hour to get home. Believing that either an elevated railway or a subway beneath the streets was necessary for New York City, he settled on an idea for a subway thinking it would be less noisy and less dangerous.

  In 1866 Alfred began experiments with pneumatic power. He had been granted a patent in 1865 for a pneumatic transit system for mail and passengers that included a design for pneumatic tubes. (These are still in use in some buildings and in the drive-through tellers at banks).

  At the Fair of the American Institute in New York in 1867, Beach exhibited a tube in which a 10-passenger car was driven back and forth by a powerful, 100-horsepower fan. The idea was met with a great deal of interest and enthusiasm.

  Knowing that state senator William M. Tweed would extort thousands of dollars from his project and other politicians would block the idea out of concern for the safety of surrounding buildings, Alfred put up $350,000 of his own money. He rented the basement of Devlin's Clothing Store and then, with his twenty-one year-old son Fred as foreman, secretly began tunnelling under Broadway with a boring machine. For fifty-eight nights workers stealthily hauled bags of dirt out of the tunnel, dumping them into wagons specially fitted with wheels muffled for silence. While these wagons hauled the dirt away, others arrived with tools and bricks for the tunnel walls.

  Beach designed a waiting room 120 feet long (the entire tunnel measured 312 feet) and embellished it with a grand piano, a fountain, ornate paintings, and even a goldfish tank. Instead of entering a dark dreary tunnel, the customers on the pneumatic subway would find themselves in an elegant, airy salon lighted with zircon lamps. The walls of the waiting room were adorned with frescoes.

  Alfred operated his demonstration railway from February 1870 to April 1873. It had one station in the basement of Devlin's clothing store, at the southwest corner of Broadway and Warren St. and ran for a total of about 300 feet, first around a curve to the center of Broadway and then straight under the center of Broadway to the south side of Murray St. A single car which fitted snugly into the cylindrical tube nine feet in diameter was propelled by a giant fan. Operated by a steam engine, it drew air in through a valve and blew it forcefully into the tunnel. This single car was driven from Warren Street to Murray Street, the other end of the line. Reaction from the public and media was mostly favourable, with people walking away dazzled by the opulence and impressed by the subway's practicality.

  Sadly in 1873 Alfred Ely Beach's dream of an underground pneumatic subway ended under political opposition and corruption. Beach died of pneumonia on January 1, 1896 in New York City at the age of 69.

  New York's first subway remained forgotten until February 1912 when a construction crew - digging for a new Broadway subway, the BMT - chopped through the wall of the Beach tunnel. Unaware of the pneumatic tube, the workers were flabbergasted at what lay before their eyes.

  With the exception of some rotted wooden fixtures, the salon retained its original splendor. The magnificent station fired their imaginations; not only did they delight in the vision of an underground fountain but in the discovery that there had been a subway operating under Manhattan years before they began digging. Beach's tiny railroad car was still on its tracks...

 The BMT City Hall station now includes part of the original pneumatic tube.

City Hall Station  

  City Hall Station opened along with the rest of the Interborough's first subway line on October 27, 1904. It was immediately clear that expansion of the subway system would be necessary and additional lines were built. But ever-increasing ridership eventually required the Interborough's five-car local stations to be lengthened to accommodate longer trains, and so the IRT underwent an extensive program of station lengthening in the 1940s and early 1950s.

  Due to its architecture and its being situated on a tight curve, City Hall station was deemed impractical for lengthening. The new longer trains had center doors on each car, and at City Hall's tight curve it was dangerous to open them. It was decided to abandon the station in favor of the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station, so City Hall was closed to passenger service on December 31, 1945. The street entrances were sealed and the skylights were covered over.

  The station was spruced up for the October, 2004 IRT Centennial celebration. The skylights were uncovered, lighting fixed or replaced and a stairway to the street reopened. A VIP ceremony was held there on October 27, 2004 and for a few hours after the station was open to the public once again.

  New York's City Hall station has remained closed since, but fortunately it's been captured in photos. I think it's gorgeous...


(Note that I've borrowed heavily from some of these articles, therefore I claim no ownership of this text)

City Hall Subway Station (photos)

City Hall (IRT East Side Line) (photos)

Inventor of the Week

Beach's Bizarre Broadway Subway

Alfred Ely Beach

Thursday, December 1, 2011


 There's been too much silence here lately, words haven't flowed easily and I'm not entirely sure why. It's not that I don't want to write, there's been no great crisis in my life or anything holding me back. I've just been having a bit of a struggle thinking about what to talk about. Something, anything. If I don't start somewhere it won't happen, so I'll just start and see where it leads me.

  Randomness, I like the sound of that.

  In the past week two friends have sent me invites to their private blogs, which I've willingly accepted. I love the thought of having a more intimate space to write, free from the eyes of those who are closest and would profess to know what's best. That idea sounds tempting sometimes. Outside influence from other people, by the way, hasn't had any bearing on my lack of writing lately.

  I think I just haven't been in that mindset. The last while has been pretty stressful, mainly at work. Throw in a pending brake job on our car that might run close to $600, plus a quote from our trusted contractor to fix the backwater valve in the basement floor ($1750) and the few weeks have been...interesting. And if I'm honest it's affected my attitude, which is unusual because I don't often let things get to me and I don't like it.

  It's not like I've been walking around angry or upset all the time. I've just taken each hit as it comes, deal with it (rant and swear a bit if I need to) and move on 'til the next "surprise". But I'm human and it takes its toll sometimes.

  It's funny. As I said to a very dear blogging friend a couple days ago I love listening to people tell me about what they're going through (good or bad), and I always tell them not to apologize for dumping on me because I don't see it that way. Yet when I feel I'd like to unload some of my own frustrations, worries etc. I rarely do because I don't want to bring someone else down. The same thing I encourage from others I discourage in myself. I'm extremely lucky to have those people I can say anything to and not only count on them to be a shoulder, but also to be direct with me. I love that.

  My greatest source of happiness continually comes back to people, and the past weeks have been full of (mostly) online conversations about relationships.The start of something new. Or something fading. Wondering if this new guy is right or how a first date will go. How amazing is it when someone you've always looked at as having all the answers e-mails you for advice? Awesomeness. If you want to turn a bad day around for me, drop me a line to talk about some situation in your life you're struggling with and let's see what we can come up with together. These conversations are my fuel, my fire.

  There will always be crap to deal with but there will always be good along with it. Things between Sandy and I are better than ever, she's shaken up her lifestyle and is looking and feeling great. My family will be together for Christmas. I've been thinking a lot about people in my life, those I'll never meet but who mean more to me than they'll ever know. If you're reading this chances are you're one of them.

  Hard times don't last. People do.