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Night Vision Binoculars

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Foster Huntington was arriving after dark Tuesday and I texted him, got a flashlight? He texted back … got something better than a flashlight.

When he got here we walked out into the dark. He said, “Close your eyes.”

Whereupon he fitted this helmet with night vision binocs on my head and said “Open your eyes.”

The dark night was alight! 10 times as many stars. I could see a galaxy. Trees, road, paths, animals all bathed in ghostly light.

It’s like a third world: formerly I had day and night. With these you have lighted-up night. Sure, you can see at night with a flashlight, but it doesn’t light things up 360°. Also, people and animals aren’t aware that you can see them. Foster says he’s been out at night with them, and he can walk right up to rabbits.

Surfing in primo spots at night (they are waterproof, but you sure wouldn’t want to lose them); hunting for mushrooms in secret spots; mountain biking at night without visible light — possibilities are endless.

The only problem is that apparently, the good ones are really expensive.

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Notes From NYC #3

Wrapping it up this morning, am at Grounded Coffee in West Village with latte/double shot and bowl of oatmeal. Getting picked up by Supershuttle around noon, thence to Newark and flying the friendly skies, albeit in the cattle car section this flight. The business class via frequent flier miles getting here was a dream, but not enough miles for the return…I’ve got to say, I really like United — service, airplanes, it’s an intelligent giant. Plus the United terminal at SFO is as good as it gets. Fast wi-fi, recharging stations, great art exhibit.

New camera I bought a Panasonic Lumix DSC-ZS100 at BH Photo Wednesday,. It’s small (carrying it in my fanny pack). It has a 1″ sensor and a 25-250 mm zoom, an extraordinary range for such a small camera (about the same size as the Sony Cybershot RX-100). Kevin Kelly has been using Lumix’s for years, and I’ve long been attracted to the zoom features. So I’m trying it out. Here are a few pics shot at maximum zoom.

Farm fresh food Last night I had dinner at Rosemary’s in the West Village, (after watching the Warriors at The Blind Tiger pub). “Farm fresh,” they don’t take reservations, super popular, usually long lines, but last night, Sunday, rainy, a bit cold (temp drop of 30 degrees from previous day, lots of tables, I sat at the bar. Good food, not as expensive as you’d think, They have a garden on the roof.

Getting around in the city:

(1) Uber works well, although the pool rides are sketchy. The drivers all seem personable compared to today’s cabbies, who seem a sour lot. Almost all Uber drivers use the app Waze to navigate; I downloaded it (free) and it’s really good for city navigation (for cars, not pedestrians).

(2) The blue CitiBikes are a huge success for going from point to point. No need to lock up at yr. destination, you use your phone to find drop-off point.

(3) Subways are in one sense a miracle, that you travel so fast under the city, but many of NYC’s lines are in dire shape.

(4) On foot: I probably walked 3-4 miles a day, using the app Citymapper, which is brilliant.

Friendliness of natives: I can’t get over it. I got into conversations with a ton of people in bars, restaurants, park benches. I invariably give people one of our mini books — a great conversation starter.

Venues: The Village Voice is gone, and Time Out magazine has morphed into a free and lame advertising mag, so it’s really hard to find music, among other arts. My friend Kim turned me on to Pollstar online, and it seems to be the best thing, but nothing like the The Village Voice was (or SFWeekly still is in SFO).

Photos: NYC is a photo wonderland for me. I’ll post some in the following days.

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Notes From NYC #2

Yesterday had an early dinner at EAK Ramen (thanks, Mark), 469 6th Ave., rich ramen along with Kawaba Sunrise Ale. This morning I took the subway to the East Village and went to Abraco, thanks to tip from my friend Doug. Unique coffee shop, great coffee and pastries, long lines that never abated, no stinkin laptops allowed, wonderful place, good vibes, latte as good as it gets. When I left, I gave the manager, a cool guy who was moving around with alacrity and humor, a mini-copy of Tiny Homes. When I was out in the street, he ran out and said: “Lloyd, this is brilliant.” So good when people get it.

I walked around the corner, and there was Do Kham, a Tibetan shop with elegant things in the window. Serendipity at work. I went in, and everything was just right. The owner, Phelgye Kelden, is a former Tibetan monk, who has assembled a shop of totally wonderful things. His specialty is Tibetan hats, which he designs, and which have been featured in Vanity Fair, Elle, and other major fashion magazines:

I had vowed not to buy anything on this trip, but, ahem…a beautiful wool scarf, a necklace of prayer beads, a rock carved with Om Mani Padme Hum: “Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra (prayer), Om Mani Padme Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion.” So as I walk around today, I’m chanting it to myself.

It’s been hot and muggy this week here, like it usually is in August. (Global warming is a hoax, right? )Walking along St. Mark’s place, I spied St. Dymphna’s Pub, and it looked authentic, cool (in both senses), and I went in and had a pint of Guiness and talked to the bartender and the guy next to me, a director of plays, and a native of Philly about a variety of subjects as we watched Serena Williams in the French Open. A good restaurant? They recommended Cafe Mogador, across the street, Moroccan, and crowded, and good.

I’ve finally learned to overcome shyness when traveling and ask-ask-ask. I think 90% of the places I’ve eaten, visited, or had coffee at on this trip were by following recommendations of friends and strangers.

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Doo Wah Diddy

Never fails/checked in to my little hotel in G. Village, stressed out from Byzantine check points at Toronto airport, slept an hour, hit streets. Man! It’s like plugging into another planet with double the chi flow. Ate at Chinese noodle shop, ended up talking to (and sharing dishes) with people sitting next to me AND it turns out one of them is Nancy Bass Wyden, proprietor (and descendent of founders) of none other than the.venerable Strand bookshop, the 5-story ages-old NYC landmark; we exchanged cards.

Then out into the streets to Washington Square, then random street walking, talked to this guy delivering food for Caviar (Elmer). Then to McDougal St., Cafe Dante now slick, but Cafe Reggio is same dark soulful noisy Renaissance good-vibes place it was when I first came to NYC in 1957 (and rented a room on Morton St. for $60 a week while working the night shift at the Durkee shredded coconut factory in Queens, waiting to take a ship to Europe for a 3-month motor scooter (Lambretta)/youth hostel tour of Europe.

I love it here, the city so energetically inspiring.

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Injury # 163

There’s a line in Hank Williams’s “Why Don’t You make Up Your mind,” where he says “The hide’s gettin’ scace” (pronounced “skayce”), meaning scarce. I don’t know why, but it’s stuck in my mind for years. In the song he’s moaning about difficulties with his girlfriend, but I’ve always thought of the phrase as having to do with the body getting hurt.

My latest was tearing some shoulder muscles last week. No, not again! My body feels so battered from a lifetime of activity. — sports, carpentry, adventures. Thank god I wasn’t the football star I wanted to be. Yet still — operations on both knees, right shoulder, right wrist (carpal tunnel) and the capper, a bad broken arm a year ago–all since turning 70.

OK so I’m whining here, but I’m on an up-note. After moping and gimping around for a week, dreading another operation, visiting the doc, dealing with pain, suddenly it turned a corner. Must have been the red wine in the evenings (plus big doses of Ibuprofen). But all of a sudden I could raise my arm halfway. Yeah! I’m gonna get better. Two things to convey here:

1. You always get better. Pretty much. So no matter how deeply depressed you are when injured, it’s gonna get better if you do the right stuff.

2. Don’t give up. Get right back out there on that bike, surfboard, trail, slope — maybe with more caution and care. Because you’re gonna lose it if you don’t use it.

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