Thursday, June 29, 2000

When I got up, I was still pretty sore in my legs. I followed my now-familiar morning routine, arriving at the convention center around 9:30. We were ready for our last day, glad that it ended at 4:00pm instead of 5:00. Bob took the demo station first this day, and I walked around to see if I had missed anything interesting. I went to the Nikon booth again, and they told me they were giving away a CoolPix 990 in a drawing that afternoon. Since traffic was down from previous days, I thought I might actually have a chance. I entered. I would have to come back for the drawing at 2:00 that afternoon.

At noon I took Bob's place, asking him to come back a little early so I could make it to the Nikon booth. He said he would, and lived up to his word. At a couple minutes before 2:00, I was back at Nikon, listening to the end of a sales pitch for some brand of Compact Flash card -- the things that take the place of film in digital cameras.

Precisely at 2:00, the Nikon rep took the microphone, allowed the last people to put their entries in the box, then started mixing. Much to my dismay, there were about fifty people gathered for the drawing. The Nikon rep pulled a card from the box, and called the name Woody something. No one shouted, and we all looked around, hoping not to see a hand go up. After calling the name a couple more times, she pulled another card from the box. She called the name James something and a shout and a hand rose to my left. Dang!

The Palm pavilion was busy right up to the last minute of the show. At 4:01, we unplugged our lead collection machine, and Bob went to return it and get a download of the names. While he was gone, I tore down the demo station. The only giveaways we had left were about half of the data sheets. I put them in my back-pack along with pretty much everything else, and was ready to go by 4:15.

I found Bob still in line returning the lead machine. He was almost done, though, and by 4:25, we were getting in a very long line for the shuttle bus. A bus pulled up and started loading. Before we got to the door, we could see that people were standing in the aisle already, and figured we wouldn't make it on the bus. We were right. There were five other people in front of us who didn't make it on, either. The next bus arrived about 20 minutes later, and we were on. It also filled up before all the people waiting could get on.

Back at the hotel, I changed into my jeans and hiking boots. I had been wanting to visit the 9th Precinct house on the lower-east side. That's the building that the TV series "NYPD Blue" uses for exterior shots of the fictional 15th precinct on the show. I had planned the route a couple of days before, knowing that I would need to walk five blocks south, get on the F subway train at the 47th street station, then get off at the 2nd Avenue station. The precinct house is five blocks north of that station.

The trip went smoothly. I bought two tokens -- for the round trip -- and boarded the first train that pulled in. About ten stops later, I was at 2nd Ave, and got off. At street level, I could see that I was in a pretty dilapidated neighborhood. All of the buildings were run down and the store windows were dirty. There were a couple of high-rise apartment buildings up the street with laundry hanging on the balcony railings.

I headed north up 1st Avenue, passing bars (and more bars), newsstands, deli's, and restaurants. At 5th Street, I turned left. The precinct house is in the middle of the block. I almost didn't recognize it. On TV, it looks like the precinct faces onto a wide street with a park on the other side. In reality, it is on a narrow one-way street. There are big trees across the street, with chess tables under them. Looking past the trees, I saw a chain-link fence with lots of vines entwined in it, then a parking lot and a paved area used for basketball. None of it looked familiar from the show.

I took a bunch of pictures of the building and the surrounding area. Looking at them later, they would look a lot like the TV show's version of the precinct. Once I removed all of the peripheral junk, like the trees and other buildings, it looked familiar.

I continued to walk down 5th Street to 2nd Avenue. This street is lined with stores, restaurants, and other businesses that are less run-down looking than those on 1st Avenue. After a while, I made my way back to the 2nd Avenue subway station. On the way, I stopped into a couple of stores to see if they had Heineken in cans. I wanted to replace the ones I had drunk from my hotel mini-bar. While the stores had the beer in bottles, they didn't have it in cans. I decided to try again closer to the hotel.

I descended to the subway station and used my second token. While I waited for the train, I took a couple of pictures of the platform and tracks. The long, straight lines of the floor and ceiling, combined with the vertical lines of the posts on the platform were too hard to resist. I got suspicious looks from a couple of fellow passengers, but I still couldn't resist the opportunity.

The ride back to 47th Street station was as uneventful as the ride down had been. When I got there, I decided to get more pictures, this time of the trains themselves. Using the pillars to steady my camera, I turned off the flash and got some good pictures of the trains and people in motion. I kept coming up with new ideas to try, and waiting for the next train to come so I could try them. I was in there about 20 or 30 minutes and got some pictures I was really happy with.

As I walked back to the hotel, I started thinking about dinner. About that time, I passed a hot dog stand and decided to try it out. Five minutes later, I had finished my hot dog and lemonade and was again on my way to the hotel. I stopped by the concierge desk on the way in and asked where I could buy a six pack of beer. She recommended that I try some of the stores on 7th Avenue, one block west.

I headed over to 7th avenue. I stepped into the first deli I saw and asked if they had beer. The cashier pointed to the back of the store. Once again, I found Heineken in bottles, but not cans. I asked the cashier for a recommendation on where to find them, and he directed me across the street and up a block. There, I found Smilers, where they have Heineken in cans and bottles. I bought a six pack for $12, $0.50 more than two of the Heinekens I had taken from the mini-bar. My quest rewarded, I headed back to the Hilton. I quickly put three of the beers into the little fridge and opened one of the remaining ones.

I checked e-mail, wrote in this journal for a while, then decided I was done thinking for the day. After channel surfing for a while, I found a really bad movie on HBO, called "Sacrifice". Boy, was I missing my Tivo! I watched the movie to the end, enjoying another beer -- if not the movie -- then went to bed around 10:30.


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