02 January 2022


 My son thought it was a good idea to have COVID testing done to make sure he's not infected, even though we just had a test about a week ago.  Negative result, whew.  A little bird told me to try the simple, walk-in service at Nathan's Pharmacy at the corner of Bath and 19th Avenues.  Alas, it was closed, possibly because it was Sunday, maybe more so because it was the New Year weekend.  Once or twice I saw some testing van by Calvert Playground so I made a trip there.  Alas, no van.  It was there when I needed it, not there now when I wanted it to be there.  I pulled into a parking spot and searched for "COVID testing near me" in Google Maps app.  I already had my preference for the Brooklyn Army Terminal (B.A.T.), so that was all I could see, in particular a LabQ site in the area.  The site was listed as the LabQ office on some floor in Building A.  I went there once before.  They weren't supposed to take any patience that day, so I was told, but they were nice enough to take me in.  Mobilize to the B.A.T., let's go!

Street parking wasn't readily available as usual.  Cars were double-parked near the few queues in the area.  I decided to park on the pier for once.  There was plenty of room.  A short walk over to Building A and there was a sign on the door that told us to use their Mobile Service on First Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets.  It had to be Rapid Testing because the line went around the block.  Just a block away at the corner of 58th Street and First, near the entrance to the B.A.T. campus, there was another, shorter line.  We took that queue, since the difference is really a day or two, at least from what we experienced on Staten Island, with Pro Health, when we took both PCR and Rapid.  It was a decent day, not as cold as that day we were on the queue for Pro Health.  The line moved fast, too, we were done in about an hour.  With Pro Health, we had to wait for hours just to register, they had to scan our insurance card, asked about our preferred pharmacy etc.  Then we had to go back to our car to wait to be called in.  The queue length maybe the same but because of the extra paperwork the whole ordeal was like five hours versus today's one.  I decided not to waste a test resource and let my son go in by himself, even though I was on the queue for about an hour myself.  Son said it was a saliva test, not the nose-swabbing type that we experienced a few times before.  Whatever, they didn't ask him for his insurance card.  While we were on the queue, a staff member showed us a QR code to scan, to register before going in.  I tried but never got any confirmation email, but the idea is good.  Instead of two or three staff people doing all the typing for the entire queue, let the patients register themselves while they have time to kill.  On an unrelated note, booster shots were still administered, you would enter the gate by the bus stop.  Or wait outside by the gate if the guard tells you so.  Then further toward Second Avenue, there was another test queue, another mobile unit named DocWorks or something like that.

I saw some people carried containers of fried chickens and biscuits so I thought there was a KFC nearby, perhaps in the same building with the Dunkin nearby.  That was not the case.  We decided to patronize Wendy's at Caesar's Bay instead.  Traffic was bad on the Belt Parkway, just before the merge with the off-ramp of the Verrazano.  Took the local to swing by Poly but it wasn't much better.  Once I was on the Belt then it was all good.  The parking area by Five Guys was chaotic, people leaving and pulling in as if they own the place.  There were plenty of space just a few yards away but people just had to park right next to the building.

Now we wait for the results.

08 November 2021


 Seasons change, Facebook changes, and Word Blitz changes.  Especially Word Blitz, I must add.  Ah, the risk of writing documentation, sort of.  The instant it is published it is already outdated.  But no harm, let us update the process of initiating a game with someone who is not already a Facebook friend.  Of course, I am referring to the Facebook Gaming version of Word Blitz, where you play within the Facebook environment.  No special ID to identify you.

After a spate of changes, the latest version of Word Blitz now has two buttons on the Main Screen.  One is Play With Friends, the other is Random Player.  The relatively new Random Player function is pretty good at matching players of similar skills.  It does so probably and mostly on the number of trophies.  Some people think it is not that great or misunderstand that Random really means being matched with people who are too strong, or too weak, compared to them.  And then there are people who want to have a little chit-chat, even if it's not within the game, so sometimes they request players.  The easiest thing to do is to send friend requests.  I prefer not to do that, if I can help it.  There are scammers out there who would gladly steal your info, whatever you put out there for friends to see.  It's just too big of a price to pay just to have people play games with.  I recommend making use of the available option of playing with non-friends, i.e. people who you are not already friends with.

In groups like Word Blitz Players & Friends, from time to time someone would post something along the line of, "I need players!"  Instead of sending them a friends request, send them a message.  That's the white squiggly thing in the black speech balloon, as highlight in red below.

Write in the message something like, "Let us play Word Blitz"

Immediately open Word Blitz in Facebook Gaming and click Play With Friends.  Yes, to Word Blitz having sent a message to someone makes that person a friend you can start a game with.  There are cases where that's not true but in general it works.

You don't get to see your list of friends to choose right away.  Instead, Word Blitz always invite you to play some tournament.  We don't want tournaments for now so just scroll a little bit down.  It always show the last three people you exchange messages with, including people who just played their turn.  If you don't act fast, your "new friend" may be bumped off the list.  That's why as soon as you send that ice-breaking message, go immediately to the game and click Play With Friends.

Go back to that group where your "friend" said they need players.  Comment that you just started a game with them.  Tell them to accept it by clicking on your name and clicking the Message icon, that white squiggly thingy inside the black speech bubble, as shown below.  They should say something back, like "OK, let us do it".  They should then go to Word Blitz and find the game that you started with them.  Back and forth you can play.  If the skill level turn out not so comparable, don't start a new game when one is done.  Or done respond to a new game request and it will go away in a few days.  Rather drastic but I heard of people blocking others just so that the other person no longer start unbalnced games with them.

Perhaps because of different privacy laws in different nations of the world, when the requester is in a country different from yours this little trick may not work.  Facebook, or maybe Lotum, the German-based company that puts out Word Blitz, is an international company and have to adjust their environment to satisfy the different laws.  So far with this technique, I can play people in the U.S., India, Australia, etc.  Not possible are people from Greece, the U.K., and maybe Ireland.  I am sure there are more countries for both lists.  I have enough players so I don't seek people out that often.  As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.

24 October 2021


 At the rate of changes Lotum introduces to the game of Word Blitz, it seems silly to even bother writing instruction on how to do things, but I persist.  Here goes another instruction for HOW TO SHARE A WORD BLITZ TOURNAMENT TO A FACEBOOK GROUP.

Pre-requisite: be a member of the Facebook group Word Blitz Tournament Center at https://www.facebook.com/groups/435605317529797/

Recently, Lotum added a Podium icon for the purpose of creating tournaments.  It is circled in red in the picture below.  As long as you don't already have seven tournaments going, whether created by you or others, you will have the Podium icon.  (At one time, it was an icon of a Trophy.  But then it started to malfunction, went away, and now it's back as a Podium.)  Clicking it will create a new tournament.

The tournament is almost created...  First, make sure under your name there is an icon of the globe and the word Public.  That's the Privacy setting.  It needs to be Public, so that anyone can play the tournament.  To finally create the Public tournament, click the Share button.

After clicking Share, just sit back and wait for the tournament to show up.  Note the time and date info under the word TOURNAMENT.  A tournament lasts 7 days, I was already 17 seconds or so since the time I created the tournament, so it will run for 6 hours, 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 43 seconds.  The game is shared to my Facebook profile and it's been only 17 seconds or so thus nobody joined the game yet, I am the only and therefore #1.  Click the X in the upper right corner to close the new tournament.

Out of the Word Blitz game environment and back in the Facebook screen, click Menu in the lower right a few times until your name and profile photo appear at the top left.  Click See your profile.

On your profile page, scroll down a bit to find the newly created tournament.  Click the Share button in lower right.

There are many ways to share a tournament.  For our purpose, click Share To A Group

I already shared many tournaments to the group Word Blitz Tournaments Center, with Facebook knowing everything about its users, the group is listed at the top of the list.  If it's your first time doing the sharing, you would need to click the Magnifying Glass next to the word Search and type in a few letters of the group name, starting from the left.  I think Word Blitz would be enough, unless you joined many groups that start with those words.

Three things to notice in this final step: 1- the group name now shows under your name; 2- the tag, which is the hash sign # (also known as pound sign) followed by the day of the week; 3- the Share Now button.  

#Sunday in this case denotes the tournament was started on a Sunday.  To circumvent the restriction of 7 tournaments, some people seek to join only tournaments that end within hours or minutes.  By using the Topics button at the top of the group, they can see the various tags corresponding to the day of the week.  In the ideal world, tournaments that ended would already be deleted by the original creator or by an admin or moderator, so that you would only see tournaments that ending on that day of the week, plus the ones that were started on that day.  For example, if Joe started 3 games on a Sunday, a week later those games will appear as ending in hours or minutes.  Similarly, if Peter started 2 games on the morning a week after Joe started his 3, Peter's 2 games will also appear when the #Sunday filter was applied.

Finally, the Share Now button is what completes the process.  Go ahead and click it!

22 August 2021


 Word Blitz, the popular Boggle-clone word game, has yet more "improvements" that make sharing a tournament game to a group even more difficult.  There are slightly different versions of Word Blitz, the one I am discussing is played via Facebook.  First some background:

At its basic level, you play Word Blitz against a friend.  Next up, you somehow hook up to a non-friend.  The two of you play three rounds of the game and whoever have the most points win.  As surprising as it sounds, sometimes you cannot find opponents to play against.  Again, I am talking about the Facebook version, where games are limited by the friends or non-friends you have who also play the game.  There is also another outlet, The League, where you can usually play up to six single-round games, one at a time, against a random player.  Personally, I think it is great that the game doesn't make it too easy to play all the time.  Smartphone users in general already spend too much time playing games.  But then again there is the Tournament option.

With Tournaments, you can play against a wider range of players.  You have up to seven days to try again and again with different board configurations, not of your own choosing, to get the best score you can.  There is a limit of seven tournaments you can join at any given time.  Still, having seven games over seven days is still a lot of play time.  Alas, the issue again is finding people who would join the tournament games you created, which by default only appears on your own timeline.  So you need friends who would join.  I am somewhat selective these days and try not to have new Facebook friends unless I already know them in person.  Or have a need for it, like teachers at my old high school, since I run an active alumni group.  Others may have other reasons not to friend people on Facebook.  This is where Facebook groups created solely for sharing Word Blitz tournament games come in.  One such group is the Word Blitz Tournaments Center, located at https://www.facebook.com/groups/435605317529797 .  I am a member of the group and a frequent question is "How do I share to the group?"  I hope the instruction below will help.  The instruction is for an iPhone user in the U.S.A.  In future posts, I can make another for Apple MacOS or Microsoft Windows.  Go join the group before you follow the instruction.

Recall that I mentioned there are changes to the game that makes sharing tournaments more difficult?  It used to be you can create an almost limitless number of tournaments while participating in only seven or fewer.  Maybe some or many tournaments ended up with no participants or maybe the many number of tournaments somehow cost Lotum, the distributor of Word Blitz, too much money.  The new rule is you have to be in a tournament game else nobody can join it.  You still cannot play more than seven games simultaneously so create tournament games only when you have fewer than seven games going.  If you already play seven games and try to create a tournament, you will get some unhelpful error message.  No, it does not tell you that you already have seven games active and that you must be in a new tournament game that you create.

On with the instruction!

At some random schedule, there is a podium icon that sorta reads Create Tournament, as circled in green.  Note the partly hidden Invite button on the far right of that row.  It may be necessary to scroll sideway to bring the podium icon into view.  Click Create and you will be on your way to creating a tournament.

Be sure to click the line below your name to have it show Public.  If it is left on Friends Only then group members who are your friends cannot play.  Next click the Share button near the bottom then don't do anything for a few seconds.  If you have fewer seven games going, in a few seconds a new game will start.  Give it your best, if you wish, to get some high score then leave Word Blitz altogether.

Click the Menu icon in the lower right then scroll to the top and click See Your Profile.  Try to do this as soon as you quit Word Blitz in the above step, before your timeline have other new stuff.

The new tournament game you created and shared to your timeline should be easy to find.  Click on its Share button.  Note the score of only one point.  If I played some words before, my score would be higher.  In this case, I didn't play any words.

Click Share To A Group (I used title-case to make the instruction easier to follow.  I am aware the actual title for link is slightly different).

You should already be a member of the group called Word Blitz Tournaments Center.  In the screenshot, next to the magnifying glass, I typed to and the list of groups shortened to just two items.  I clicked on the lower choice.

At last we come to the final step to sharing a tournament game to a group.  Note that near the top of the screen the group name is shown.  I strongly recommend entering some info to make your game different than the many others that are shared to the group.  Of great use is the day of the week.  Recall that games last seven days.  Some people like to join games that end soon, so that they don't have to wait a week to join a new game.  For example, if you join seven games that were started on a Sunday, you can only play those seven games and cannot join any new ones.  When you include the info, i.e. day of the week, in your posts, people can search for the word Sunday, or whatever the case, and join only those games.  Finally, click Share Now and your game will be shared to the group for all to enjoy.

31 May 2021


 Many books have been written about the subject of dreaming, as in seeing things while sleeping.  I wish I know a better word to describe it.  Nowadays, to dream can also mean wishing for something, a positive thing.  The English language can be great for making puns and being ambiguous but sometimes I want to be direct about the subject.  I want to simply talk about the things I saw while sleeping, something that my brain somehow made up on its own, not because I want it to really happen.  Sure, it maybe something I did subconsciously, fer sure.  But not something I actively want.  But enough of the meaning of "dreaming".

In real life, I am a cautious pedestrian.  I always look both way crossing the street.  I don't wear headphone and such, so that I am always aware of my surrounding.  Definitely not staring at the smartphone screen while walking, as some people I know regularly do, very annoying.  But in last night's dream, for lack of a better word, I caused a three-bus accident at a street intersection that seemed to be that of Canal Street and Baxter Street in Manhattan Chinatown.  I crossed Canal Street from the north side to the south side but then immediately tried to cross to Baxter but the light was changing.  A bus in the bus stop was moving forward so I tried to run behind it but then another bus was going in the driving lane.  It seemed as I tried to go back to the sidewalk yet another bus came from the other direction of the two-way street.  Now, in real life Baxter Street is very narrow, just enough for two parking lanes and one driving lane, it's a one-way street.  In this dream, it was a two-way street, wide enough for buses to go through, so maybe it wasn't Baxter, but hey it was a dream, it didn't have to match reality.  Anyway, perhaps because the third bus tried to avoid me, it braked too hard and went flying and hit the first bus.  Again, physics may not apply in dreams.  One thing I was sure is that as the levitated bus came at me, I was alert enough to lay flat and the bus flew right over me.  I do recall feeling guilty for causing the accident, who knew how many people died or got hurt, so I guess my dream version also had integrity.  I don't know what happened next because the shock in the dream woke me up.  Or maybe it was my busting kidneys needing to unload.

Yes, back to reality.  It is a three-day weekend, Memorial Day today, thank you to all who made the ultimate sacrifice.  It was rainy for the first two days so I was home all day.  I was hoping to do something outdoor today but the house has a plumbing problem.  A plumber came yesterday but the problem is bigger than originally thought.  He's coming back today with tools to rip off part of the bathtub wall etc.  Water's been shut off for now for the whole house.  It's a minor inconvenience, we lived through worse times.

30 May 2021


 This past Friday I again had breakfast not at home.  I was happy to see that the MacDonald's in Carteret was done with the renovation.  "We are open!", the sign said.  Alas, unlike the Burger King down the road, they still didn't have indoor dining.  Nope, take-out only.  Ironically, on that day New Jersey governor announced additional relaxation of COVID rules, that businesses were free to not require masks etc.  I suppose Mickey Dee wanted to be extra safe.

This past Sunday I was in Chinatown for an errand.  On Mott Street I saw what appeared at first as one of those outdoor dining structure being taken apart.  Ah, another sign of the city going back to pre-pandemic atmosphere, I thought.  Just to be sure, I stood a few buildings away to observe the "dismantling".  Nope, I was wrong.  The workers were carefully measuring things with retractable measuring tape then screwed things down.  It was an additional area they were working on.  Weird, if you ask me, but who knows, maybe this particular restaurant was slow in getting the outdoor permit or things are going so well with outdoor dining they decided to add a few more tables outside.

Something else I noticed on Mott Street was that perhaps because of the outdoor structures, there were cars parked halfway up the sidewalk.  The drivers were in the cars, I suppose in case the traffic cops come around they would move.  It was news to me but who knows, maybe it had been like that for a while, since I rarely go into Manhattan these days.  The scene reminded me of a certain section of Pennsylvania Avenue in Brooklyn, just a tad north of Linden Boulevard.  Street parking is allowed, except for certain days when there was street-cleaning.  However, the road is narrower than usual, so perhaps voluntarily all the cars would park halfway on the sidewalk.  It is illegal probably but maybe there's an unspoken rule between the traffic agents and the local drivers.  Maybe too many cars got side-swiped so people don't want to take a chance with parking completely on the street.

21 May 2021


 I am happy to report that today I was able to have a sit-down breakfast at the Burger King near my office.  For a long time now, I had my breakfast, whether My Way or Not, in the car.  I usually have a podcast going, either Somethin' Rhymes With Purple or Ask Me Another.  It's nice and all, but I want the option of sitting at a table and not worry about littering in my own car.

Perhaps because of the nearby McDonald's being closed for renovation, service was slow at Burger King.  No one else was in the dining area, but the drive-by window had to be busy.  At least it seems that way.  I do prefer McDonald's one chunk of hash brown as opposed to the King's little tots.  Hopefully McD will re-open soon.  It's a little closer to the highway exit, BK being a little further away.  I am a lazy driver, the less I have to drive the better I feel.


 We are living in interesting times but we have no time to write things down to look back on.  I love history and especially enjoy recalling my own past.  Social media is nice and all but I still prefer a blog.  I hope to revive this blog, at least try to have new posts every weekend.  Where did I hear that before?  It cannot hurt to try.

What happened today (Wednesday 19 May 2021)?  New York State followed CDC recommendation to relax mask requirements for vaccinated people.  I will go along with that, unless I am in an enclosed area with other people.  Who knows if any of them are anti-vax people who may be carrier of the disease or its variants.

My CityStrides.com stat isn't so great these days, at least with regards to Brooklyn.  For a while, for fear of the COVID-19 virus, I didn't run at all.  Did all my exercising in the backyard or in the living room.  I did resume a bit but it's a slow process.  Carteret, NJ and Staten Island, NY are now my main focus during the week.  I work in Carteret and go through Staten everyday.  I thought I was #1 in Carteret but all of a sudden some Private User popped out of nowhere to put me in the #2 spot.  Staten Island I have a comfortable lead but I have to keep it up.  So many streets, so little time.

[Originally written on perhaps May 19, 2021, but it's been so long since I blog that I forgot to click the Publish button until today.  Sigh.]