Posted by: roamingolivia | February 4, 2011

Some observations from my commute


Every day, my commute goes more or less like this: I go out of my door, turn right (to my current office, where I’m based for a project) or left (my usual office). If I go left, I take a bus because I can and it’s easy; since I’ve started going right, I walk to the train station. Today is unusually warm, for February, and it’s also my third day to go this new route. I therefore associate it with warmth and with a blustery greyness that reminds me of the approach of a transitional season (spring or fall), with its respite from the more extreme summer or winter. (It’s also getting to be quite light in the mornings, and even light until 5 p.m., so there are signs that the endless winter is loosening its grip.)

Every day I listen to Writer’s Almanac for the first part of my commute – the short interchange between my house and the train or Tube station. It’s five minutes long, and that often gets me to the actual station in a good mood and with a dash of poetry. Then I listen to music or NPR’s Most-Emailed Stories podcast. Then the train comes, and I get on, and listen to either music (shuffle or, this week, the new Decemberists album). More recently, I’ve been listening to nothing, but keeping my headphones in to discourage random talking (as if one needed that in London). On the train, I read the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Politico, Salon and, on Fridays, the Economist – all downloaded to my eReader, although writing that makes me feel lame. The silence helps me to enjoy my reading more.

That’s the background. Today seemed a bit odd. The Writer’s Almanac told me that it is Mark Zuckerberg’s birthday today. This made me think about the demographic Garrison Keillor is aiming for, which I assume is at least on average my age, and made me confused. Plus, no offense to him, but I am not sure he is a writer? But, on the other hand, I noticed it, whereas many days I don’t really pay lots of attention or, indeed, blog about what I hear on The Writer’s Almanac. (Note: Yesterday’s was very good, including the poem. It was one of the many days on the program that amuses me about having any belief at all in horoscopes; what do James Michener and Gertrude Stein have in common?)

On the train, I read the Economist about Egypt and about the BP / Rosneft / TNK-BP issues, and enjoyed it immensely. I don’t have tons to say about that, although their writing is very good – even if that’s an obvious thing to say.

I left the train station to walk down a very crowded sidewalk. The aforementioned warm temperature suddenly became very relevant: as I fought the wind to keep my hair off my face, only to have it whipped back by a new gust, I realised this is the first day I have walked around without a hat for several months. I guess this is the future of this year, and I will have to come up with a hair system to deal with it. Or I suppose, like most years, I’ll get used to it.

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