AirPods Pro

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I just bought AirPods Pro for myself. I already have regular AirPods, bought in November 2019, and Beats Solo Pro, bought in February. So now I have three pairs of wireless headphones. I really resisted wireless headphones when they first became popular, preferring to stick with wired ones. And it bothered me greatly when Apple discontinued the headphone port on the iPhone. But now I guess I’m all in.

I use my old AirPods all the time, and I really like them. I mostly use them for audiobooks and podcasts, but music sounds fine with them too. I use them for TV watching too, via the Apple TV.

I bought the Beats Solo Pro because I wanted noise-cancelling on-ear headphones that would sound better than the AirPods. I don’t use them that often, but I do like them. The noise-cancelling is good, as is the sound quality. (I used them to drown out some noisy passengers on the train this weekend, and that was great!)

I’d resisted buying AirPods Pro up until now, since I’d tried them out in an Apple Store once and they didn’t seem to fit my ears well. But I figured I’d give them another shot. Costco had them on sale for $190, and it’s easy to return stuff to Costco, so I went ahead.

My initial impression is that they fit my ears well enough, but not perfectly. The left one is a little loose, but the right one is just about perfect. I guess I’m using the medium tips. (Whichever ones were on them out of the box.) The noise cancellation is OK, but not nearly as good as the Beats Solo Pro. The sound quality seems to be a bit better than the old AirPods, but probably not quite as good as the Beats. So that means that I should probably hang on to those too.

I’m not sure that there’s any point in hanging on to the old AirPods now. I’d thought that maybe I’d use those for podcasts and more casual listening, and use the AirPods Pro for music, but I guess they’re comfortable enough that I can just use them all the time and get rid of the old AirPods. Hopefully, I can find a new home for them. They’re still in good working condition, so I don’t want to just send them in for recycling if I can avoid it.

On a related note, I’ve been listening to some of the new Spatial Audio stuff in Apple Music recently. I think the hype around it is a bit overblown. But it’s interesting. I still haven’t found a song or album yet where the spatial audio stuff really blows me away. But there are a few I need to give a close listen to. Spatial Audio works on all three of my wireless headphones. It probably works best on the AirPods Pro, but I’m not really sure. I really don’t just stop and listen to music much anymore. I’m usually listening to it in the background while I work, or while I’m out for a walk. I really need to do some deep listening. I may write another blog post about Spatial Audio and the other stuff going on with Apple Music, but I’ll save that for another day.

NYC trip

After thinking about it a lot, I took the plunge and went into NYC this weekend, on Sunday. I went to the Met and MoMA, which is a pretty standard Sunday NYC day trip for me. It’s the first time I’d been to MoMA since October 2019, when I went in for their reopening. And I also hadn’t been to the Met since October 2019, when I was in the city for NYCC. So it’s been more than a year and a half since I’d been to either museum. And of course this is the first time I’ve gone into the city since before the pandemic. I thought I’d write up some thoughts on the experience.

First, NJ Transit: Masks are still required on trains, but not everyone is following that rule. The trip in was OK, and seemed safe. The train wasn’t crowded, and the other passengers were nearly all wearing masks. The trip back, though, was a little scary. The train was pretty crowded, relatively speaking, and there were a lot more people without masks.

I made reservations for both the Met and MoMA before going in to the city. I don’t think I needed to though. Neither museum asked about the reservation. They both just scanned my member card and let me in. And I don’t think non-members really need reservations anymore either. So next time I’ll probably skip that.

Both museums require masks, and most folks at both museums were keeping their masks on, so that was good. I felt relatively safe.

Entry procedures have changed at both museums. At the Met, I used to have to get a ticket from a kiosk with my member card, then wear a sticker to get in. Now, a person scans the member card, and there’s no ticket or sticker. That’s easier, mostly, but it also means that you need to get scanned back in if you go from one wing to the other. At MoMA, they had a new checkpoint set up for bag checks and temperature checks. Then, they scan your card at another checkpoint a little further in. At both museums, the process was a little chaotic, but not too bad.

As to other changes, neither museum lets you check your bag anymore. So that’s inconvenient. I always bring a backpack into the city with me, and I don’t want to drag it around the museum.

And both museums have really cut back on dining options. The Met has the old cafeteria open, which they’re now calling “The Eatery.” I looked around, and it’s not much changed, though there’s less to choose from, and (of course) no salad bar. And the American Wing cafe is open, but they’re just selling pre-packed stuff. You can’t get a fresh coffee there, only canned drinks. I was kind of hoping they might have the bar on the roof open, but that was closed too. It seems like the roof would be a pretty safe place to remove your mask and have a snack, but I guess they’re not ready for that yet. So there’s really no good place to eat at the Met, as far as I can tell.

At MoMA, the cafe on the second floor, where I usually eat, is closed. There’s some kind of cafe on the sixth floor now, and that was open, but honestly I couldn’t even figure out how to get there. This was only my second time visiting the new expanded museum, and it’s pretty confusing, trying to find your way around. They also have a bar open in the sculpture garden, but there’s not much you can get there. I got a $3 bottle of water.

Both museums have their bathrooms open, but the water fountains are all still turned off. That’s pretty inconvenient, since I try to drink a lot of water when I’m in NYC. I got a $1 bottle of water from a street cart after I left the Met. And I got a $3 bottle of water at MoMA (as mentioned above). And later, a $2 bottle at Penn Station. So I stayed hydrated. But it’s a pain to have to rely on bottled water. (Probably safer though.) I should also say that the bathrooms were pretty clean in both museums, and MoMA has wisely gotten rid of their fancy Dyson air dryers and replaced them with paper towel dispensers.

After MoMA, I ate lunch at an outside table at La Bonne Soupe. That was pretty good, and felt relatively safe.

On my walk back to Penn Station, I wanted to stop at Midtown Comics. I made the mistake of walking through Times Square to get there. Times Square was way more crowded than I was comfortable with, and lots of people there weren’t wearing masks. I just got through it as quickly as I could, but if I picked up COVID in NYC that day, it was probably in Times Square.

In all of this, I haven’t said anything about the actual art in either museum. Honestly, I wandered randomly through both museums and just enjoyed being there. I spent a bit of time staring at some familiar Monet and Van Gogh paintings at the Met. I paused in front of a favorite Jackson Pollock painting at MoMA and enjoyed that. But I didn’t seek out any of the special exhibits at either museum. I skipped the Alice Neel exhibit at the Met. I don’t know much about her, and (on first glace at least) her art doesn’t appeal to me. I wandered through the Cézanne exhibit at MoMA, but didn’t get much out of it. I like Cézanne, but I’d have to look at the drawings more carefully to get anything out of them. Maybe I’ll go back and give that one another try.

It’s Wednesday now, and I don’t have any COVID symptoms, so I guess the vaccine works. I’m not sure when I’ll go back into NYC again, but at least I feel like I can do it now. And I have a better idea of what to watch out for now, so maybe I can have a slightly safer and less stressful visit next time.



I’ve now been in “fully-vaccinated” status for a few days. I still haven’t managed to talk myself into going out without a mask though. I almost tried doing my laundry today without a mask, but, well, I guess I’m not ready.

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on social media for a lot of upcoming in-person events, and I’m starting to get kind of tempted. I haven’t committed to anything, but there’s a lot going on. Here’s a few examples:

  • Duke Farms is running a farmers market every Sunday through the summer. There’s a fair chance that I’ll head over there tomorrow. An outdoor farmers market isn’t much of a risk, of course. I went to the Bridgewater farmers market a few times last summer, but that’s been discontinued. And I don’t think they’re doing one here in Somerville this summer either.
  • There’s a walking tour tomorrow at Wallace House & Old Dutch Parsonage. I’ve managed to live in Somerville for around 25 years now, without ever actually visiting Wallace House. I should really go.
  • A friend texted me about the Immersive van Gogh thing that just started up in NYC. I guess there’s actually two of these things going on in NYC now, but I think the one I linked to is the better one. Both of these seem like they could be major tourist draws. I’d kind of like to go and see one. And since they have timed tickets, I guess I could see it without having to worry about too large a crowd. (I guess it depends on how many people the organizer chooses to try to cram in at once, and how well they manage entry and exit.)
  • Garden State Comic Fest is taking place this weekend, at the Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth. I’ve gone to this in previous years, when it was held in Morristown. I’d be tempted to go this year, but I don’t really want to drive to Elizabeth. And I’m not really interested in any of their guests this year. Nor am I that interested in buying any comics or toys right now. But it’s worth noting that this is (as far as I can tell) the first (relatively) big comic con to be held in NJ since the start of the pandemic. When they first announced it, a few months back, I was really skeptical about it. But I guess it’s safe enough to go ahead with it now.
  • On a related note, but on a much larger scale, I got an email about NYCC this week. They’re going to go ahead with the con this year, in October, at the Javits, as usual. I’m really hopeful that COVID will be entirely under control by October, but I’m still worried that it won’t be. Tickets are going on sale soon, and I’d like to buy one, but I haven’t entirely talked myself into it yet.
  • I also just noticed that the NYCC folks are doing an online Metaverse thing from June 7-13. I should take a look at the panel schedule for that and see if there’s anything I want to watch. And they’re also launching a Metaverse Membership program which probably isn’t worth the cost, but might be worth looking into.
  • I haven’t been to a Somerset Patriots game since 2019. They’re now affiliated with the NY Yankees, so a lot has changed since the last time I saw them. Looking at this page on their site, it appears that the stadium is now open at 100% capacity, with masks not required. I guess I wouldn’t be too worried about that, since it’s outdoors. There’s a double-header today, with fireworks afterwards. I’d be a little tempted to go to that, if it wasn’t going to be 90º out today.
  • Only semi-related to the rest of this stuff: The Centre Pompidou is going to open a satellite location in Jersey City, in 2024. That’s quite a ways off, but worth mentioning, I think. I saw the Centre Pompidou in Paris once, a long time ago, but only from the outside. I’d love to go back to Paris and actually see the inside of the museum. (We also missed out on the Louvre on that trip, due to a scheduling snafu, so that’s two Paris museums I need to go see someday.)

So that’s my list of tempting in-person events that are coming up in the near future. I’m still not committing to anything, but I’m starting to bookmark some interesting stuff and create some notes in Evernote. So, who knows, maybe there will be a few weekends this summer where I don’t spend the whole weekend in my apartment reading comics and watching TV.