New Year’s Eve 2014: Times Square

I spent this last New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I hadn’t done so before, and wanted to do it at least once just for the experience and spectacle of it all. Notes from the event, as well as pics and video, follow. (Click on an image thumbnail to view a slideshow of all of them; click on a video title to begin watching any of them.)

-They say to get there early, so I did: I arrived in NYC, a few blocks from Times Square, at about 2:30 p.m., and was at my spot by 3:30. Times Square itself is bordered on its north end by 47th Street; I was about 25 feet from that street. I had a pretty good spot, then; I could see (at least part of) the stage, and where the ball would drop. Perhaps, though, if I had shown up twelve hours early, instead of the 9.5 I did, I would have been able to have been in Times Square itself. :) In any case, aside from three 10-15 minute breaks kneeling at my spot (there wasn’t room to sit down), I stood for 8.75 hours, and was on my feet for 11 hours. It was demanding, but worth it.

-The NYE Times Square guides did say to bring something to do while waiting for midnight, so I brought three books; I finished one, and started a second.

-There are no public bathrooms in the area, and if you have to leave to use one elsewhere, or to get something to eat, you probably won’t be able to return to your place. Proper planning is therefore vital; you don’t want to eat so little you faint from hunger or thirst, but also don’t want to eat or drink so much that that you have to leave to use the bathroom. I had an additional issue; my two-can-a-day Cherry Coke Zero habit meant that I had to had some caffeine, or potentially suffer a withdrawal headache during the celebration. I went with, then, for the entire day, three hummus sandwiches, and 24 oz of caffeinated Crystal Light. I apparently planned well; I didn’t have to leave my spot.

-No backpacks are allowed into Times Square during New Year’s Eve, so one has to carry/wear everything they need. The guides also said to dress warmly, in layers if possible, since weather can of course be variable, and there’s no place to get away from rain/snow/cold without losing one’s spot. With the clothing layers, food, drink, and books, the sum total of what I carried/wore was: coat, long-sleeve shirt, short-sleeve shirt, long johns, gym pants, jeans, two pairs wool socks, boots, keys, wallet, phone, glasses bag, paper, pencil, change, glasses, sunglasses (in another bag), earphones, watch, water bottle, two sandwiches (in a bag), three books, earplugs (those were very handy; I had them in the entire time I was in my spot), gloves, and earband. I may have looked like a pack mule, but I was prepared. :)

-Many of the billboards were dynamic, but those that were were only on a 1-2 minute loop. There are some commercials I may never get out of my head. :)

-The performance stage actually faces away from Times Square; there’s only room for about twenty people (all of whom, I assume, were Very Very Important People) between the stage’s apron and the closest building. I wasn’t sure why this was; I assume it was for security’s sake, or because an overenergetic reveler had thrown something at a performer in the past. In any case, from my vantage, the only thing I could see, and then only very occasionally, was the back of a performer’s head. It’s a testament to video editing prowess that I probably would never have noticed this unless I had been there live.

-Only the performances (and some promotions for the event’s sponsors) were broadcast to the audience; we didn’t hear Ryan Seacrest, for instance, at all. Combined with the stage setup, I was struck by how much the event resembled a large-stadium sports game; the experience was planned to appeal much more to those watching at home, rather than those who were there in person.

My takeaway? 8.5 hours is long time to be crammed into a loud, cold, crowded spot, so I probably won’t be doing New Year’s Eve in Times Square for at least a while. I’m happy I did go this time, though; the spectacle was worth it to have experienced at least once.

 

Skyline Drive 2014 Images

Here are the pictures and videos I took from Skyline Drive 2014. Pictures are below; click on any of them to start a full-screen slideshow of all of them. Below them are the videos; click a video to start it. (Note: there appears to be a bug in the way WordPress associates captions with pictures, in that the caption from the previous picture in a slideshow is sometimes incorrectly repeated in the current one. For pictures for which that’s the case, I’ve added a (correct) description under the (incorrect) caption. Also note that the videos may take a while to load, but they will work eventually…)

Panorama at the summit of Old Rag:

Doyles River Falls trail second waterfall:

 

 

 

 

Australia Trip Images

Here are the pictures and videos I took from the Australia portion of my 2013 Pacific Rim trip. Pictures are below; click on any of them to start a full-screen slideshow of all of them. Below them are the videos; click a video to start it. (Note: there appears to be a bug in the way WordPress associates captions with pictures, in that the caption from the previous picture in a slideshow is sometimes incorrectly repeated in the current one. For pictures for which that’s the case, I’ve added a (correct) description under the (incorrect) caption.)

New Zealand trip images

Here are the pictures and videos I took from the New Zealand portion of my 2013 Pacific Rim trip. Pictures are below; click on any of them to start a full-screen slideshow of all of them. Below them are the videos; click a video to start it.

I just happened to get to my hotel near the end of a triathlon.

The Auckland Art Gallery’s Flower Chandelier. Made of fabric, plastic and metal, the flowers bloom and contract over time. The installation is large; at least 20′ in diameter.

Only the plate at the very bottom vibrates; the ring is large and thin enough that it moves simply through resonance. The plate switches on and off; when it was off (I didn’t know about the plate at the time) I put my head in the center and hummed a resonance frequency to see if I could make the ring move just by doing so. The plate started soon after, so when the ring really started moving I thought I had caused it, and was worried it would roll itself apart. I ran to get a staff member, but they just smiled and said it was supposed to do that. :)

My walking route took me past this field; it was such a lovely time and place I had to get some footage of it.

A 360° panorama at Mt. Eden, at 643 ft the tallest natural point in Auckland.

Penguins at Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE aquarium. Their underwater speed and maneuverability is quite impressive.

A shark glideover at the Aquarium’s under-tank tunnel. I took a lot of footage in hopes of getting something that adequately communicated the coolness of standing in a transparent tunnel and looking up at sea life; I think I succeeded. :)

This was from a smaller tank at the aquarium, designed to be seen from the side instead of below. Again, I waited a while to get a clip showing its coolness. :)

The Aviation Display Hall at the Museum of Transport and Technology.

A 360° panorama at Sky Tower, 1076 ft above mean sea level. The clip starts with the view looking northeast, and ends with the view looking north.

It was getting late when I finally made it to Tongariro National Park, so I took the lift instead of the much longer-duration trail. My two main thoughts on the way up were: “If I get a freak leg spasm that straightens them out, I’ll slide right between the seat and bar, and that’ll be the end of me”, and “Don’t drop your phone!”. :)

A 360° panorama most of the way up Mount Ruapehu, at 9176 ft the tallest natural point in New Zealand’s North Island. The clip starts and ends pointing north toward Mt. Ngauruhoe, the other major peak at Tongariro National Park.

I could still ascend above the trailhead where the previous video was taken, so I did so; this was as far as I could go without climbing gear. I was at the level of the clouds here; I watched them dissipate around me as they reached the mountain.

On my way down the trail at Tongariro, I stopped to film the sunset. Alas, the video didn’t do justice to the real thing.

Berlin trip images

Here are the pictures and videos I took from the Berlin portion of my 2013 Europe trip. Pictures are below; click on any of them to start a full-screen slideshow of all of them. Below them are the videos; click a video to start it.

As soon as I left the observation deck at Furnsehturm, the (unseasonably late) snow began.

The Ottobock Science Center Berlin, which specializes in prosthetics and orthopedics. I didn’t know that at the time; I just thought the architecture and light display was neat. :)

The Weltzeituhr (World Time Clock). The middle cylinder rotates (slowly) showing time vs. time zone. The upper spherical portion rotates too quickly to show location of the planets; perhaps it’s simply meant as Art.

An access tunnel leading to the Siegessäule. The light display was linked to motion sensors, so lights would follow you as you walked past the display. :)

On my last full day in Berlin I finally made it to the Siegessäule when its observation deck was open. This is a 360° panorama from that deck, looking out over the Tiergarten and the rest of the city.

A panorama at the Platz der Republic (Square of the Republic). At the start and end of the video is the Reichstag, which houses the Bundestag (German Parliament).