Playing 3D Sudoku on the New York subway

by Penny Cook

Sibylesquw Ray Bradbury travel quote

I had a 12.00 appointment in Ozone Park to meet a principal. So I HOPSTOPPED the directions and set out very early because I would rather get there than be late. Well, on the platform at Cortelyou, waiting for the Q to get me to DeKalb where I was going to change to the A, some convoluted announcement comes over the loud speaker and of course, it couldn’t be understood. I worked out it was about the D train so I figured the Q was still coming. It wasn’t.

Above ground I found no A train. Nor did I find anyone who knew where one was. So I headed underground again and got on a train to where I knew there would be an A train – 42nd Street (totally wrong direction). When I got off there I walked for miles to the A but at least I was on it.

I had plenty of time, but I was a bit concerned when the train didn’t stop at 80th (where I was meant to get out). Of course an announcement had been made but I couldn’t understand a word of it. Turns out the platform was being repaired. I still had time but I got out at the next stop and the subway attendant gave me a card to call a taxi … on my phone with the rapidly depleting battery. I’m right in gangster type territory so I was pleased when the car turned up and drove me 2 blocks for a fee of $7 (ended up giving him $10 with the tip). When I found my way in to the building with10 minutes to spare, I’d been travelling for 2 hours 20 minutes I produced my photo ID and I was directed to the 4th floor, which turned out to be wrong and when I eventually arrived in what I thought was the right place with 5 minutes up my sleeve, I was told the person I was seeing wasn’t there.

A few phone calls and it turns out the principal thought we were meeting at another school. I didn’t have that information. The person attending to me kindly called me a car, which was going to cost $16 to get to the school. So the car turns up and the young Arabic driver (I’m mentioning race because he had music on and I asked what language it was in and he told me and we got chatting about his life and future) didn’t quite know where to go so we went the long way through Ozone Park to Jamaica – $20 later I arrive. So I finally meet with the principal I’m only 30 minutes late but had been ‘travelling’ for 3 hours.

A good meeting and now I needed to find my way home. I caught a bus to Jamaica Centre where there are a couple of subways, the Long Island Railway and the air train to JFK. A helpful lady next to me directed me to the E train and said stand right there and when the train comes you aks (yes, no typo there) the conductor and he gonna tell yooo. Yooo better off aksing him than looken at the mayap (map). Well … I took a look at the map (thank goodness) because she was going to get me to somewhere on Manhattan that was nowhere near a connection for me to get home.

Sibylesque Subway New York

So up above ground I go and head for the Long Island Railway where I eventually find the right track … but I don’t have a ticket and the train is coming. The lovely guard who was dressed just like the conductor in POLAR EXPRESS said ‘Yoo waait rut thar ma’am, I gunna git yooo awn dat traaiin.’ So when the train pulled in he had a word to the conductor and I was on the train!! I shook his hand and thanked him profusely and sat quietly and comfortably for the next 15 minutes to Atlantic Station Brooklyn. When I arrived I made my way to the Q (on familiar ground now). Hopped on the train and with the remainder of the phone’s low battery, proceeded to play WORDBRAIN. I am on penguin level with no hints left and I just can’t get one word. Next thing I know I’m at Newkirk station, not Cortelyou. Had I been so absorbed that I’d missed Cortelyou … I thought we just passed Church Avenue. Q…B…easy mistake to make….big yellow Q, big orange B. Oh well, it was better than ending up at Coney Island and it was a nice day for another walk!!

So what should have taken 3 hours and 4 trains took 6 hours, 5 trains, 2 cars about 2km of walking, a hundred odd stairs and $30!!!!

 

Travel TalesPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. She is currently consulting as an Early Childhood specialist in New York. She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!! Other posts by Penny Cook include From Here to God-Help-Us: XS Baggage and Travel Tales.

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Image source: New York Subway Website

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Can you guess which generation is Generation Smug?

Sibylesque George Orwell quote When it comes to food we always think we’re smarter than our parents and, as George Orwell noted, wiser than out kids. So which generation is Generation Smug? Yours!!! Sibylesque Milk Carton nutrition 2 photo source: pinterest unattributed

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From here to God-Help-Us ……. XS BAGGAGE

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque airline 2 quote

I met the One. She was at Barcelona Airport and was (was not) checking me in at Iberia Airlines. As I approached the counter early on Sunday afternoon, she took my printed flight details and scoffed ‘ Oh ha…you are way too early. Go away and come back later … and besides, you will be needing to pay 90 euro extra for that second bag.’ After picking myself up off the floor I begged to differ. ‘No, I was told 30 euro extra for the second bag … and that’s what it says on the website.’ ‘No! This is not the website and it is 90 euro. Now go!’

Sibylesque Airline Humour 2 When I returned two hours later, the other One was on check in. He took both bags, processed them through, gave me an aisle seat and said ‘have a good flight.’ I am still wondering – what would have happened to that 90 euro had I handed it over to ‘the One.’  Dare I say she would have been having a night out on the town in Barcelona, courtesy of my second bag.

I met the One. She was at Barcelona Airport and was (was not) checking me in at Iberia Airlines. As I approached the counter early on Sunday afternoon, she took my printed flight details and scoffed ‘ Oh ha…you are way too early. Go away and come back later … and besides, you will be needing to pay 90 euro extra for that second bag.’ After picking myself up off the floor I begged to differ. ‘No, I was told 30 euro extra for the second bag … and that’s what it says on the website.’ ‘No! This is not the website and it is 90 euro. Now go!’ When I returned two hours later, the other One was on check in. He took both bags, processed them through, gave me an aisle seat and said ‘have a good flight.’ I am still wondering – what would have happened to that 90 euro had I handed it over to ‘the One.’  Dare I say she would have been having a night out on the town in Barcelona, courtesy of my second bag.

Travel Tales Penny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. She is currently consulting as an Early Childhood specialist in New York. She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!

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Image source: airline ruleofthree Tumblr

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Travel Tales: From Here to God-Help-Us

by Penny Cook

Travel Tales

I’m Barcelona bound and after 24 hour very long hours on planes, here are some observations. I wonder why they give you so much food so often? In that 24 hours I was served 4 main meals (3 course) and 2 snacks. I was very impressed with the gay boys next to me who managed to eat everything and keep their trays in tact with all the little containers lined up and with their matching lids. I could barely cope, as I had to explore each one before deciding where to start. They knew what to do … scan, open one, eat it all, close it, and proceed with precision. The flight attendant could barely remove my tray as it was in such disarray. Glad there was no turbulence at that point.

So…here I am in lovely Barcelona. Jet lagged and a little lost. It is a part of the human condition that when giving directions, we all use the universal non specific language of ‘over there’, ‘turn here’, ‘not far’ ,’can’t miss it’, ‘it’s on your left’, ‘it’s on my right’, ‘just a bit’…..fascinating and fairly unhelpful in a foreign city.

Nevertheless, I found a local tapas bar. No little packages. No cold, soggy sandwiches. No gluggy pasta in a non-descript sauce. Bliss. I’ve arrived.

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Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. She is currently consulting as an Early Childhood specialist in New York. She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!

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Image source: pinterest

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A feisty, 70-something GRANDMA hits the big screen. Mature age feminism. Bring it on!

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque fool quote

There are two reasons to get excited about this film. (New York Times Review) Firstly, it’s called Grandma and Ellie, the lead character, is a feisty, take-no-prisoners 70-something and a long way from the doddering little old lady stereotype.

Secondly, Ellie is played by Lily Tomlin, a comedian I’ve admired since she first hit our screens in Laugh In in the sixties. What’s not to like about a hard-hitting comic feminist who says:

“We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.”

Lily Tomlin as Grandma Ellie

Lily Tomlin as Grandma Ellie

Grandma Ellie, according to Tomlin, has attitude. ‘If somebody is lying or fudging an issue, she just can’t take it and she is just gonna rail against it.’ That’s an attitude many of us will recognise. Significantly, Lily Tomlin turns 76 on the 1st September this year. Tomlin is smart, sassy, uncompromising and funny.

We need to see vibrant older women on screen as they make growing old look interesting.

Photo Source: Film Website

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Is grandma fit to babysit? The Checklist

the Sibyls

Sibyl, Kerry Cue, has an hilarious Grandma Checklist published on Independent Australia. Here’s just a part of the list. For more laughs go here.Grandma Test 1New

Have those idiotic airline safety instructions ever actually saved anyone? And why, then, try and poison us with airline food?

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque Dave Barry plane food quote

They insist that you watch the air safety demonstration because all aircraft MAY differ. So I decided to take note…and what I noticed from the demonstration, apart from the similarity that all aircraft have 2 wings is that; the instructions for fastening and unfastening the seat belt tightly across your lap, are exactly the same on every flight I’ve ever been on … as are the brace position and the directions to the exit rows.

air safety 1 Imgust.com

The oxygen mask is always above your head and will always drop down in case of an emergency. Not one airline has instructed me to fit the mask on the baby next to me before fitting my own and the life jacket is always stowed underneath my seat.

air safety 5

There is never an alternative offered to inflate your life jacket before disembarking and apparently the light and whistle will always attract attention. Of course, I attended, even though there was absolutely nothing new, because I don’t like to tempt fate!!! If I didn’t watch, the plane would fall out of the sky, wherein, not one of those directions would save me anyway!!! And what is it about ‘having your seat in the upright position before take off and landing.’  Not sure how a quarter inch re cline could save your life!!

Air safety 4 Where did these directions come from? Are they just sacred cows of the air that have been floating around for ages and never been challenged. Where’s the science??? Air safety 2 Has anyone come off an airline crash saying’ thank goodness I had my seat belt strapped tight and low? I wasn’t going to but I’m so glad I did.’

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Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!!

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Image source: Imgust

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Your memory is a building site you wander around in work clothes constantly repairing, retrieving, and rebuilding.

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque  Billy collins quote

The poem ‘Forgetfulness’ by Billy Collins is one of my all time favourite poems. I first heard it in the car and had to stop the car to listen. I found it hilarious and gloriously lyrical and true to the human condition all at once. You will find the full poem – it’s very short – here.

As I had to lead a workshop on poetry at a recent conference, I started the workshop by reading this poem. The workshop participants, all in the forties and fifties, had one answer.

‘It’s about Alzheimer’s’ they said.

Only one other participant saw the poem as I saw it.

“I thought it was about me’ she said.

Sibylesque Joan Didion Memory quote

And this had me thinking about our perceptions of memory and aging. We protect ourselves from the ‘horrors’ of aging by seeing the OLD as THEM and, naturally, we are US. This keeps us safe. We aren’t like them. Our memories are fine. Maybe, the odd ‘senior’s moment’.

Memory is, has always been, something of a major building project. We collect bric-a-brac and build memories. Then we rebuild these memories, often shoddily, every time we think of them. We neglect some memories. How many of us over 60 can remember how to do a cartwheel, say, or sing Psalm 23, the Psalm you sang in the church you used to go to as a child. Hint: Sheep are involved. Now it is irrelevant to many Australians. Only 8% of us are regular churchgoers.

So memory is not something that is all there or all gone. It is a building site you wander around in work clothes constantly repairing, retrieving, and completely rebuilding when necessary. Some areas are difficult to access. There is a pathway, but where? Often you are peering into the dark. Some memories fade, decay because they never have the light of thought shone upon them. Other memories seem so new, so sparkling, so complete; you stand back and watch them in awe. Other memories are both hidden and dangerous. There should be warning lights, but there are none. Suddenly you are there and the pain is real.

I wrote three books about my childhood when I was in my thirties. Exercising my memory everyday for months, I could recall every cupboard in our kitchen and every object in those cupboards. I could hear my parents speak. How accurate were those memories? Who knows? But they were vivid. Brilliantly vibrant memories.

It is not just the old or demented who forget. We all remember. We all forget.

Or as Billy Collins wrote:

‘and even now as you memorise the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,

the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

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The Science of Laughter: Guess what? It’s hilarious!

By Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Laughter Quote

Watch this TED talk if you want a laugh. But watch it also to learn why we laugh less as we age.

Do we really become GRUMPY OLD men and women? Or is something else happening. In this funny talk (Watch especially for the You Tube Clip at the end), Sophie Scott, who is both a neuroscientist and a standup comedian, explains that we do not learn to distinguish spontaneous laughter from fake laughter until we hit our late thirties or even our early forties. But as we age we become more and more immune to contagious laughter.

WE need the social context. Don’t sit in front of the tellie. You are immune to canned laughter. Get out the door and socialise … that’s where you will pigsnort-laugh yourself silly.

Remember, laughter is therapeutic.

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And you will find some funny Sibylesque posts here and here.