On what I walk to see...

"Objects do not have any intrinsic meaning- that meaning is conferred on them by us- and that different people, and the same person at different times, may confer different meanings on the same object." (Hammersley, 1989, p. 135)

Friday, July 25, 2014

A dream: Backpacking

On my way back from NYC to Taipei in April, I managed to get myself an extended layover (over 2 weeks) in Japan, landing at and exiting from the Narita Airport ... with a real luggage other than my backpack carrying my laptop, camera, two external hard drive, and essential documents.

I did an extensive though not as in-depth as possible trip in Japan. I went as far north as Kessennuma (氣仙沼) and Sendai, and saw work people put forth in the area affected by tsunami to rebuilt their cities and economy. I went as south as Miyajima in Hiroshima.  I also visited Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Tokyo, Narita, and stayed at 山中湖 Yamanaka-ko by Mt. Fuji.

Other than all the new experience (which will not be covered here), like in all other places on this planet, one consistent theme throughout the trip was the never-ending pursuit in search of a disability access and the detours I have to take to avoid stairs. lol

Moreover, a thrifty (necessary since I am selling all things off to pay my bills so as to get the book out) backpacker like me also would like to take the train into the Narita airport.  I did it with 3 steps.

1. I physically did a trip taking a tour from Narita to Narita airport to see whether there is an elevator going from the platform. I also walked all the way to the check-in counter to see how I might be able to carry my luggage, too heavy for me (though considered light by the others).
2. Since I had to get to the airport by 6-7 o'clock and the freaking hostel I stayed at was on the 3rd floor and without an elevator, plus less than "no service" provided by the owner, I actually troubled another guest to help me carry my luggage downstairs and stored the luggage at the locker of the train station the night before. This is because I won't find anyone to help me carry the luggage down and might not be able to get a cap 5 o'clock in the morning.
3. On the morning of the departure, I got to the station, got my luggage, took the JR train, arrived at the airport, put the luggage on the cart, wheeled it to the check-in counter, and checked in.

My body was a wreck and it took me weeks if not months to recover although ...

my dream since 2007 finally came true because I went backpacking  and I got myself to the airport the same thrifty way the other backpackers do.

Sure, a mental and physical handicapped like me should just stay home and be disabled. Yet, my dream came true. I went backpacking properly the way I used to do.

(This is cross-posted in Ratology Reloaded.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A thought on an additional feature for google map

The issue of disability access for public transportation emerged in a conversation today and it led my head to come up with some ideas.

Don't know what it is like for the others.  Personally, my physical disability has a direct impact on my SES although it ain't like I was above the low SES for so many years.  Like... between 2005 to 2007 right before my accident? 8-O lol sigh

If you are handicapped like me who is stuck in the lower SES, chances are, you will be using the public transportation when going around places as opposed to taxing around. Also if you are a disabled like me whose condition isn't considered as physical disabilities by the system, public transportation surely is the only way to go (e.g., subway, metro, bus).

For newer subway or metro systems, it's more likely to incorporate the "disability access" component into the blueprint.  Yet, for older subway or metro systems, such as those in New York, London, and Paris, which might have been built before passenger elevators are a commodity in ordinary buildings, it's more likely for stations to have not disability access. As a result, if you ask around, a lot of people with disabilities living in cities with older systems might eventually take it to busing to avoid the hassle of finding a station disability access. 

When in New York and when planning trips, I sometimes will use Google Map to help me identify the best route--meaning a route that would minimize the chance of my having to do them stairs.  Let's take a real trip I made to Dyckman Street from W. 108th st. in New York this winter after some snowstorms for example.

Google map helped me identified several routes.

However, on my end, I have to take into the following into consideration, especially when I had never gotten off from the Dyckman Station.

1. Are there elevators installed at this station?
2. If this station is not, since the subway in uptown Manhattan started to run above the ground, are the stairs on the outside and possibly covered by "ice" as opposed to snow?

Ended up, I might have taken the route shown in the picture because I know there are elevators in 168th street station and transferred to M100.

Make no mistake.  This is no complaint.  This is but a description of an event that happens too many a time and possibly not only to me.

The conversation I had earlier led me to think though... since Google Map already does a good job in providing potential routes to destinations, maybe it could incorporate an additional feature with the feature aiming to help people needing disability access to identify the most suitable route.   

Though based on a naive theory, I figure ... perhaps, all that's needed is to have information on which station has elevators and perhaps, at which exit. Given the sophistication of the information the app is capable of providing, it can't be too difficult to add the "elevator" and "exit" variables into the database and the algorithm? (Though I can tell you out front that me ain't got no idea how they found me that route behind the scene and what I have in mind requires the collection and maintenance of information on metro/subway systems globally. Easier said than done. lol 8-X)

Sure, elevators can be under-maintenance or disability accessible might mean slopes. Yet, much better than none!

So it concludes a thought on an additional feature for google map.

P.S., Why using elevator as an indicator as opposed to escalators? Sometimes, escalators don't go all the way to the ground floor or might skip in between floors.

(This is cross-posted in Ratology Reloaded.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Ball at Times Square on New Year's Eve, 2013

Been roaming around but haven't gotten the time to post anything to this blog... fearing that you might think I haven't done much of my daily walk, I decide to share with you one major event in my life: seeing the ball at Times Square on New Year's Eve.

The last time I made it to Times Square on New Year's Eve, I caught some confettis after the ball-drop.  This time, I saw and joined the "people mountain people sea" and the ball everyone came to see.

Can you see that shining thing with colors changing above the Toshiba sign?

Please make sure that you are looking at the ball rather than something like its reflection on the wall.

Since I don't move as well as ordinary people, I shipped myself out of the people mountain people sea before even more people arrived.  Sort of like... even though I didn't go all the way, I think I went far enough and the first time of my life I got to see the ball shining at Times Square live!  lol

Happy New Year la!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Le recherche du autos perdu coming to you in December

I cannot predict the future and neither can I go back to the past.  Yet, I know I am going to hop on them autos of the good old days in the near future... such as on one of the Sundays in December... and think I am gonna get a day pass that day simply for the purpose of hopping on and off these trains and buses! 8-O lol

In case you are in NYC in December, something you might wanna try out: Holiday Season Nostalgia Train & Bus Rides!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A historical benchmark--Rockefeller baby gone hiking

My friend said that she wanted to go take a walk in the park and I found it to be a great idea.  After we arrived at the Rockefeller State Park, I realized that it was nothing like the Riverside park... because you essentially go hiking in the mountains.

Since I was there, I have to take the walk and do the slopes, which are still of great difficulties for me.  Yet, I walked on the Sleepy Hallow Trail followed by the Pocantico River Trail till I had to apply the Puerto Plata principle in the Rockefeller state park, turning back without hitting any definitive benchmark since I have to make sure I can make it back to the parking lot in one piece... though it is my grand benchmark.

For weeks if not months, I tried to make sure I climbed them 7 mountains on a daily basis--the slope by the Taipei Arena... with or without a cane. Then, someone had me asked one day, "Why walking on surface harder for you to walk?"  Well, guess, the conversation we had on that slanted road might not have taken place.

I might not have gone as far and as fast as the others have gone.  I might have to take many a mini stops and my ending point might be others' starting point.  But, it doesn't matter... Today, I see my daily training paid off... Rockefeller baby gone hiking for the first time since 2007 in the Rockefeller State Park on two feet... without a cane.  I am also in a far better shape than when I went up to see St. Paul and them canons on Mount Fortress in Macau.

A grand benchmark and a historical moment in my life--Rockefeller baby gone hiking-- with hiking, something I thought I would not be able to do again in my life.  I was wrong because it is done and the reality.

Aches and pain?  Gonna be a potato and rest as well as Epsom salt bath la!

Friday, August 16, 2013

An ode to Airport Disability Assistance--the unmentioned

I used to love traveling and I still do.  Having my body structured the way it is today doesn't make it easy to travel.  I am not complaining since however funky I might move or how in pain I might be, I can still move.

In my peculiar case, I have difficulties with weight, slope, and stairs.  Throughout my recent traveling experiences as an handicapped who isn't disabled enough to be eligible to be classified as a handicapped, I have come to the conclusion that the most challenging, if not "scary," part of being an independent traveller is to traveling with luggages such as when travelling by air.  You see, even if I checked my luggage (which is a ridiculously small for an over-three-week trip), I still have to carry the laptop, camera, and IDs with me... and the laptop is always the heaviest item.

All my luggages, which can be stuffed in one backpack though I split them into two bages.
Of course, if I were loaded, I would get myself one of them extremely lightweight laptop (no offence, dear laptop, I love you to death... just both you and I can lose a few pounds. lol) and/or simply hire someone to escort me when needing to travel with luggages alone.  Yet, since I am not, other than cut the weight of my luggage to the minimal humanly possible, what I can do is to depend on the airport disability assistance service when travelling by air alone with luggages...

What's big about travelling, right?  For me, it's in the unmentioned... the weight of the luggage while in transit.  The extra undergarments, shirt, pants you might need so that you don't wear the same thing for the entire duration of the trip (unwashed lol). And, the computer that I need so that I can make a dime or two to pay for the trip so as to complain about how difficult it is to travel independently with my kind of disabilities. 8-O lol

The reality is... for me to get from Taipei to Shanghai, from Shanghai to Hong Kong, and from Hong Kong back to Taipei... or from any city to any other city I have travelled to with physical disabilities in any other trip... one of the most straining parts of the travel takes place at the airports. The reason why I made it has nothing to do with me... I didn't do it. It's the airport disability assistance that made the getting there part possible... so that I could, from there, take my walk one step at a time at large and make copycat comments like "Trotzdem, das Leben.!"

Do I insist on traveling from airport to airport alone?  No, I don't.  To be honest, I'd rather trouble my companions to help me carry my weight than having to trouble people to wheel me around... (though, in reality, what I prefer is to have the ability to do it myself.)  Just it happens and when it happens, it makes the usually unmentioned part of the trip less challenging and makes travel more "accessible."

An ode to Airport Disability Assistance--all modes of assistance making my arriving wherever in one piece even more possible!!!

From... a cup of coffee in Shatin

Today is the last day of this trip.  Instead of going with my friends to the Hong Kong airport together, since their flight was earlier than mine, I decided to stop by the Shatin Mall and do a bit more of an exploration.

I know it would be a great challenge walking around carrying my luggage containing... my Seroquel, a laptop, a power strip, a battery charger, a mouse, a few sheets of paper, a skirt, a pair of pants, a shirt, undergarments, a few loose packs of cigarettes, my IDs, a music CD, a map of Shanghai and another one I got from Hong Kong, and some light and loose items.

A backpack should be able to hold it all although I decided to split the weight and put them in two bags.

Actions have consequences... so said the Frenchman.

I know my body would get out of the whack with the weight.  Yet, I thought I would like to have a cup of coffee in Shatin, do some people watching, and, perhaps, do a bit of work.  And, I did... not at the first cafe I spotted but after I ventured a few floors more.

So my body started to do its own thing and to move in all funny ways... including walking into the wall at several points.  Walking into the walk is fine since I can use the wall as some sort of support... as long as I don't walk into people.  Moving not so elegantly?  Not my issue... as long as still mobile.  lol

I then caught the airport bus A41, which dropped me right in front of the departure hall. I successfully moved myself and the luggages to the counter, monkeying around a bit and a bit more and did a little bit of work. I also discovered that there was this type of the airport luggage cart that functions mighty well as a walker... It made it so much easier easier to move with five legs (since the cart has three wheels)... though, Puerto Plata principle... I absolutely avoided slopes.

Then the time came when the lady came to wheel me all the way to the door of the airplane where the flight attendants took over the luggages for me while I walked in funny fashion and in pain to my seat.

After I took the painkiller I got from this nice flight attendant, I leisurely waited there for the med to take effect. The reality is that... never mind the pain and the walking into all directions... What a lovely trip and how wonderful the body is still relatively in one piece with the minimum minor inconveniences in life induced!"