Things of note for the week ending December 28th, 2012
1. #EmptyUnderground, New York
The above photo is taken from the mythical City Hall subway station that resides underneath New York City which, thanks to the demand of longer and larger trains, has been closed and deserted since 1945.
According to the source, New Yorkers now have the opportunity to see said subterranean architecture for themselves –
You don’t have to take my word that the secret City Hall Station exists, as the 6 Train will now allow the passengers who have been enlightened with the knowledge of its whereabouts to stay on the train during its turnaround and see the Station. You won’t be able to get off, but you’ll be taken for a slow tour of the platform and see what a beauty it was in its heyday!
2. WE DID IT. WE REALLY DID IT.
If you’re reading this then that means you’re reading the last ‘Five things on Friday’ of 2012; week 52 is in the bag and my year-long blogging project is complete.
I am spent.
Back on December 30th, 2011 – aka, ‘Five things on Friday #0’ – I made a promise:
Every Friday (hopefully on my way home from work) I’m going to jot down the five things I’ve done or seen that week. Or perhaps even five things that have happened to me or that I’ve seen or whatever. Either way, it’s going in the Moleskine and then, naturally, it’s ending up on here.
Over time that promise has moved around. Earlier posts focusing on what I’d been up to, who’d I seen or what projects I’d been working on, with later entries mainly being about the coolest things I’d found on the web that week. It’s interesting – to me at least – how (and why) that changed in the way it did.
Moving to big agency life means that there’s more structure around what projects you are (and more specifically are not) allowed to talk about. With a few slight changes in place already (I still work for Social@Ogilvy, I no longer work for OPR), I’m hoping that will change in the New Year.
What else? Well, life has been tough this year. Perhaps the toughest year to date. Both for me and for the woman in my life. We’ve not been able to do all the things we’ve wanted and we’ve had some pretty hard personal and professional battles to fight too. But again, things are changing and, as 2013 rolls around the corner, already we seem to be armed better than ever before to face the year ahead.
Work and home life aside (huh, it’s strange isn’t it? How through the simple act of collating different things you do and don’t like over the course of 365 days allows you to view the past year of your life with a new and more thoughtful lens? I never thought that this project would provide such post-year analysis – and I certainly never thought it’d wind up in this way either), here we are: exactly 52 weeks later and Five things on Friday 2012 is complete. I honestly still don’t know if I want to keep going. It was a year-long project and that year is over.So I guess, we’ll have to until next Friday and see how I feel.
What have we learnt?
- Much? Doubtful.
- Stupid things? Probably.
- What it feels like to actually finish a project? Definitely.
Right then, enough wanky introspection Whatley, you’ve still got three more things to bash through – GO!
3. Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up
The New York Times ran a profile on Jerry Seinfeld just before Christmas and, even if you’re not a fan, it really is one of the best things on the web this week.
4. Christmas in The Trenches
On Christmas Day, 1914, Private Frederick W. Heath wrote the following –
“The night closed in early – the ghostly shadows that haunt the trenches came to keep us company as we stood to arms. Under a pale moon, one could just see the grave-like rise of ground which marked the German trenches two hundred yards away. Fires in the English lines had died down, and only the squelch of the sodden boots in the slushy mud, the whispered orders of the officers and the NCOs, and the moan of the wind broke the silence of the night. The soldiers’ Christmas Eve had come at last, and it was hardly the time or place to feel grateful for it.
Memory in her shrine kept us in a trance of saddened silence. Back somewhere in England, the fires were burning in cosy rooms; in fancy I heard laughter and the thousand melodies of reunion on Christmas Eve. With overcoat thick with wet mud, hands cracked and sore with the frost, I leaned against the side of the trench, and, looking through my loophole, fixed weary eyes on the German trenches. Thoughts surged madly in my mind; but they had no sequence, no cohesion. Mostly they were of home as I had known it through the years that had brought me to this. I asked myself why I was in the trenches in misery at all, when I might have been in England warm and prosperous. That involuntary question was quickly answered. For is there not a multitude of houses in England, and has not someone to keep them intact? I thought of a shattered cottage in — , and felt glad that I was in the trenches. That cottage was once somebody’s home.
Still looking and dreaming, my eyes caught a flare in the darkness. A light in the enemy’s trenches was so rare at that hour that I passed a message down the line. I had hardly spoken when light after light sprang up along the German front. Then quite near our dug-outs, so near as to make me start and clutch my rifle, I heard a voice. there was no mistaking that voice with its guttural ring. With ears strained, I listened, and then, all down our line of trenches there came to our ears a greeting unique in war: “English soldier, English soldier, a merry Christmas, a merry Christmas!”
Following that salute boomed the invitation from those harsh voices: “Come out, English soldier; come out here to us.” For some little time we were cautious, and did not even answer. Officers, fearing treachery, ordered the men to be silent. But up and down our line one heard the men answering that Christmas greeting from the enemy. How could we resist wishing each other a Merry Christmas, even though we might be at each other’s throats immediately afterwards? So we kept up a running conversation with the Germans, all the while our hands ready on our rifles. Blood and peace, enmity and fraternity – war’s most amazing paradox. The night wore on to dawn – a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired, except for down on our right, where the French artillery were at work.
Came the dawn, pencilling the sky with grey and pink. Under the early light we saw our foes moving recklessly about on top of their trenches. Here, indeed, was courage; no seeking the security of the shelter but a brazen invitation to us to shoot and kill with deadly certainty. But did we shoot? Not likely! We stood up ourselves and called benisons on the Germans. Then came the invitation to fall out of the trenches and meet half way.
Still cautious we hung back. Not so the others. They ran forward in little groups, with hands held up above their heads, asking us to do the same. Not for long could such an appeal be resisted – beside, was not the courage up to now all on one side? Jumping up onto the parapet, a few of us advanced to meet the on-coming Germans. Out went the hands and tightened in the grip of friendship. Christmas had made the bitterest foes friends.
Here was no desire to kill, but just the wish of a few simple soldiers (and no one is quite so simple as a soldier) that on Christmas Day, at any rate, the force of fire should cease. We gave each other cigarettes and exchanged all manner of things. We wrote our names and addresses on the field service postcards, and exchanged them for German ones. We cut the buttons off our coats and took in exchange the Imperial Arms of Germany. But the gift of gifts was Christmas pudding. The sight of it made the Germans’ eyes grow wide with hungry wonder, and at the first bite of it they were our friends for ever. Given a sufficient quantity of Christmas puddings, every German in the trenches before ours would have surrendered.
And so we stayed together for a while and talked, even though all the time there was a strained feeling of suspicion which rather spoilt this Christmas armistice. We could not help remembering that we were enemies, even though we had shaken hands. We dare not advance too near their trenches lest we saw too much, nor could the Germans come beyond the barbed wire which lay before ours. After we had chatted, we turned back to our respective trenches for breakfast.
All through the day no shot was fired, and all we did was talk to each other and make confessions which, perhaps, were truer at that curious moment than in the normal times of war. How far this unofficial truce extended along the lines I do not know, but I do know that what I have written here applies to the — on our side and the 158th German Brigade, composed of Westphalians.
As I finish this short and scrappy description of a strangely human event, we are pouring rapid fire into the German trenches, and they are returning the compliment just as fiercely. Screeching through the air above us are the shattering shells of rival batteries of artillery. So we are back once more to the ordeal of fire.”
5. The Augmented Reality TARDIS: it really is bigger on the inside
This is, without doubt, one of the best uses of Augmented Reality I have EVER seen.
Bonuses this week; first, the kindle version of Life Of Pi is now only 20p. Stop what you’re doing right now and go and buy it immediately. Then go and see the film. Second, this is an old post first published back in August but still – once you’ve read what successful people do with the first hour of their day – you’ll be tempted to change yours accordingly. And finally, ‘Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek‘ really is quite beautiful.
Ps. Why not leave me a comment this week, let me know what you think…