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I love lamp


I ordered a lamp on Zazzle. It started because my dad said I should have a lamp on that table, and then I had this idea of wanting a lampshade with a vintage map on it, and I was shocked that there didn’t seem to be any store on the whole internet that would sell me a lampshade with an old-looking map on it, even though I thought that was totally a common thing.

Then I found out that at Zazzle you can print your own lampshades, so I started looking for a map, and I found out about the 1569 Mercator world map, which is literally the Mercator Projection, which is especially great for a lampshade because geometrically it’s actually a projection out from the sphere onto a cylinder.

Unfortunately the best-preserved copy of the map was chopped up into little pieces for some reason, and it took me a long time to find a high-resolution reconstruction, but eventually I found a copy of the one by Friedrich Wilhelm Krücken from 2011. Then I cropped off the decoration around the edges and tried to adjust the borders to make them line up at the seam and such, which sort of worked.

Anyway, I think it turned out pretty well. I would offer it up to all other map-lamp-lovers on Zazzle, but Friedrich Wilhelm Krücken is claiming copyright 2011 on this copy of a 445-year-old map(!), so maybe I’d better not.


I spent the evening at a low-key social event hosted by the Center for Jewish History, a little-known organization on an unassuming block in Chelsea. I had assumed they were some sort of museum, which turned out to be quite a bit off the mark. They describe themselves as an “archive”, which to my mind brings up images from Raiders of the Lost Ark (and perhaps H.P. Lovecraft). In practice, what this means is that, rather than trying to preserve a handful of truly ancient artifacts and scrolls, they are carefully storing absolutely every available document relevant to Jewish history, all the way up to the present day (although the modern stuff, being digital, doesn’t take up any shelf space). It comes to 100 million artifacts in total, filling 13 floors of storage space and ranging from financial records to paintings by Pissarro.

I should be clear that I had 100% definitely never heard of anyone named Pissarro before tonight, whereas everyone else in the room apparently had. Small talk, over kosher hors d’oeuvres and refined jazz, also included the precise impact of Scotland referendum outcomes on tomorrow’s USD-UKP exchange rate (esp. morning vs. afternoon fluctuations), who in the room would be attending opening night at the Metropolitan Opera this year, matchmaking, and who in the room might have benefited from the recent rescue of a particular distressed high speed trading firm.

My schmoozing skills were not up to the challenge. I was saved mostly by my sense of comic wonder, witnessing such an archetypal New York scene.

I escaped ASAP into the first tour of the facility. It was intriguing, as much as a floor full of identical white boxes can be. The reading room is very attractive, and the exhibits (which we did not actually have time to read) looked very nice.

I might come back some time, if only to make use of their genealogy services … preferably when there are enough scholars around that I might feel like I’m in my element.


Last week: air conditioner required, all night. (Thank goodness the apartment happened to come with one.)

This week: blanket required.

None of Seattle’s gradual seasons here. Winter is going to feel like a real novelty.


When I moved to New York, it seemed like my office was eerily silent … because half of my team went to Burning Man. Then I saw this movie about a professor in his 80′s who decided to go and loved it. Then I was at a cookout today and it seemed like half the people there had just come back from Burning Man.

Maybe I should go to Burning Man.

13 years

I never imagined that I would live to see an anniversary of 9/11 that went unremarked.

It so happens that my team at work, like millions of other office workers, faces the Lower Manhattan skyline, which is again dominated by the World Trade Center. And yet, at the end of the day yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t heard one mention of it.

Of the people I happened to be spending time with yesterday, most were not living in the US thirteen years ago, and perhaps none but me were even vaguely in the New York area. The papers were filled with anniversary commentaries, of course. My acquaintances and coworkers may not be a representative microcosm of New York City. Even so, it seemed remarkable to me, and I reminded my remaining teammates as we were packing up.

History recedes gradually, at different rates in different places and by different measures. In my little sphere, measuring by remembered anniversaries, the age of 9/11 lasted for 13 years.

High Line

I went to the High Line for the first time this afternoon, for a brief picnic lunch with colleagues. We ate at the 10th avenue amphitheatre at 17th St., which was built directly over the Avenue, with seating and windows facing straight down to the vanishing point. In person, the canyon-like depth of perspective is remarkable.

The High Line’s concrete walkway was packed, even on a cloudy Thursday afternoon, but there was enough room on the amphitheatre steps for us to eat and chat. While eating we were joined by a mouse, who edged out from under the bench to snatch a fallen morsel, and then hid under the floorboards, reaching up from underneath for a crumb that had gotten wedged between the planks.

The mouse’s gaze exceeded its grasp, and the crumb stayed put, until one of us took pity on the mouse and dislodged the crumb, which was quickly devoured.


I thought I was getting a heck of a deal on this apartment, but now I’m not so sure. I just visited a friend in her new place on the Upper West Side … and in her (much more sought-after) neighborhood, she’s paying about the same rent as I am in proportion to floorspace. Her apartment is just 60% larger.

I think that means that she got the 50% extra ceiling height for free.



I arrived in New York after 4 relaxing days in the Green Mountains, and went straight to my new desk. For the first two weeks I stayed at a friend’s place in Williamsburg, and got free housing in return for watering his sunflowers. I also got a good chance to look at the tattooed, bearded, extravagantly dressed and coiffed denizens of Williamsburg. It seemed quite a bit like Capitol Hill in Seattle, but five times as crowded, and with richer people yet somehow a poorer neighborhood.

I spent the first weekend visiting friends in New Jersey and Boston (in one day!) and the second renting a van and roping childhood friends into carrying all the extra furniture from my parents’ jam-packed basement into my tiny jam-packed Manhattan apartment on the most humid day of the summer. (We got it all inside just as the skies opened up and Niagara Falls poured out.)

Now I’m very nearly set up here in Hamilton Heights, a majority-minority neighborhood with as many signs in Spanish as English, and a crowd of all ages out on the stoops every evening. My grandfather (a Massachusetts resident since 1950 and a lifelong New Yorker) was appalled. When I told him how far North I’d be living, he said “That’s not New York. That’s New England!”.

It’s not so bad. Today I bicycled to work and back, 15 miles round-trip and almost entirely on the perfectly flat, picturesque segregated bikeway that runs along (and occasionally out over) the Hudson River.

It’s a good start.

The Return of [...]

It’s back! Hooray!

It’s been just about a month since the last post. So much has happened … I hardly know where to start. “What’s the last thing you remember?”…

I decided to move by selling everything that I couldn’t reasonably ship by FedEx, and carrying everything I could ship by hand two blocks (I counted 300 steps, thankfully downhill) to the FedEx store. I packed it all myself, except for the dishes, which I figured were better handled by a professional. (It might have been cheaper to drop the dishes out my 14th story window and buy identical ones in New York … oh well.)

Some bits of furniture proved harder to sell than others. The worst was the dining room table and chairs. Eventually I just had to give them away for free on Craigslist, to the first taker, who turned out to be a very nice postdoc who’d just moved from Boston.

My last day at work was a Wednesday. My team walked over to a sushi place for a sendoff lunch, but otherwise it was just like any other Wednesday. I even stayed for the weekly game night (and lost terribly at Ticket to Ride, as usual), then took the bus home.

I packed my very last, biggest box, with whatever remained that seemed possibly shippable, and rolled it down to FedEx on a borrowed dolly with 10 minutes to spare before closing time. Then I dragged my luggage down to the lobby, along with a box containing all the possibly-edible contents of my kitchen. I hailed a Lyft, then grabbed the food and dashed out the door in the direction of 9th and Pike, where there are always homeless people camping on the street. I handed off the box to the first one I found, who was reasonably pleased to have it, and then jogged back in time to catch the cab for my 12:45 AM flight.

The next morning I was in Connecticut, and by afternoon I was at a relaxing, drizzly family reunion in Stowe, VT. In the midst of the most hectic few weeks in recent memory, it was a perfect 4 day interlude.