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!