19 November 2010

Suburban warfare - it begins

I just moved to the suburbs two months ago, and I am already planning the first war with the neighbors.

Apparently in suburbia, when you rake your leaves, you put them in big brown bags and then place them near the road for the city to pick up during designated days. My new house is lucky - I have woods in the back so that I can dump them there without bagging. Yay!

The neighbors aren't so lucky. Boo. So they filled up about 10-15 huge bags and then proceeded to leave them for pickup... on OUR lawn. Not just touching the border, but on the grass. Now, I'm not a suburban expert yet, but I know this much: This is Not. Cool. Border disputes can cause serious casualties. Just ask Europe or Asia.

This current infarction comes after months of (illegally) parking in front of (and sometimes on) our lawn instead of in their driveway, so we already dislike them and may - I admit - be a bit biased towards them.

As such, I have devised several potential options for handling the leaf-bag situation. Please feel free to vote or write in alternate candidates if you feel so moved:

1. Asking them nicely to move their trash off our lawn (ugh, that's SO yawn. I live in NYC - I prefer the passive-aggressive approach. Or just the aggressive one.)

2. Returning the leaves to their original positions...spread out in a nice, even layer all over their lawn. This is most effective if done the night before the town's pickup schedule date. (Downside: time consuming and would have to be done in wee hours of the night.)

3. Stacking the bags around or on top of their illegally parked cars, sandbag-style, so they have to move them to get into or drive their cars. (I like this one best so far.)

4. Moving the bags in front of their house's doors so they are blockaded in. (Fire hazard, but not sure I care.)

5. Stuffing tailpipes of said cars with tightly-packed, wet wads of said leaves. (Might be too subtle, and unreliable results may nix this one.)

6. Krazy-glue leaves all over said cars (very effective, but may have unwanted legal ramifications).

Hmmm... now that I think about it, this may be how the whole Hatfield/McCoy thing started...I am not sure, but I would sympathize with them if it was.

10 November 2010

Sweater shopping FAIL

I went shopping for a sweater today. what a stupid experience. I saw a sweater in the window that I really liked. I'm not often an impulsive buyer, so I have seen it there for a few weeks, and today I decided to buy it.

I went inside, searched, and was unable to find it in the vast array of clothing racks... so I asked a salesperson for some assistance...

me: hi! do you see that sweater in the window?
her: yes.
me: do you have any of those i can try on? I can't seem to find them in the store.
her: let me check. (she checks) looks like we're out of those.
me: oh, bummer. how about the one in the window? what size is that?
her: medium.
me: oh! can i buy that one?
her: no.
me: um. why not?
her: it's in the window.
me: can you take it out of the window?
her: we take it out when the windows are changed.
me: but it's right there... i can touch it. it's not hard to get to.
her: no. you can't have it. it's in the window.
me: so... you have a sweater, in stock, that i want to buy... but you're refusing to sell it to me? i just want to get that straight...
her: um... well... it's in the window...
me: you realize that makes no sense, right?
her: it's in the window....
me: nevermind. goodbye....

You know, I never really liked that sweater anyway. So there.

02 November 2010

On this election day...

Yes, I voted. No, I'm not crazy.

And in honor of this this amazing right that I have to vote in my country, I would like to bring you some of the best signs that were displayed at the "Rally to Restore Sanity" on Oct. 20th. (thanks to Huffington Post)

08 July 2010

Drowning doesn't look like drowning

This is reposted without permission from the following site: http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

by Mario on May 18, 2010

The new captain jumped from the cockpit, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the owners who were swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know, from fifty feet away, what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC). Drowning does not look like drowning – Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.
(Source: On Scene Magazine: Fall 2006)

This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble – they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long – but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue. They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:
  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.
So if a crew member falls overboard and every looks O.K. – don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

29 April 2010

NPR on the train

I note of advice to everyone - don't combine NPR and a train ride. Here's why:

I was listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" (the podcast) on my iPod last week. For those of you who don't know, it's a comedic game show of sorts, which airs on NPR. It features various columnists and other news junkie celebrities talking about the events of the past week. It's hysterically funny in a nerdy, NPR-geek kind of way - think Jon Stewart only without all of the words requiring bleeps.

It's a funny, funny, show. And I laugh at it regularly. Sometimes, I even laugh out loud, but usually it's a chuckle and I try to restrain myself from making too many overt snorts.

During some portions of the shows, they have call-in contestants - listeners who answer questions about what was in the news in the last week. Sometimes, it's obvious stuff. Sometimes, it's not.

During one call-in segment, I was listening to someone who didn't know the answer to the question...and he should have known! (I would tell you what the questions / answers were, but then you'd inevitably label me a news snob. I'm okay with the label of "news junkie", but "news snob" is too much.) He had three questions, and got all of them wrong. It was heartbreakingly sad - if you call a news show, you should at least watch a little news that week. During the final question, when he said he didn't know, I was fed up with him, and sighed, rolled my eyes, and I flung a general look of exasperation.

Usually, I laugh at the show, and fellow riders either move away from me (thinking I'm out of my mind) or chuckle at me (realizing I'm laughing at something I'm listening to.)

However, on this particular occasion, as I was rolling my eyes and making a distinct look of much disgust (at the caller), a perfectly nice gentleman was taking the seat next to me. As such perfect timing goes in these types of situations, he caught the full brunt of my eye-roll at the exact moment that he was sitting, and incorrectly assumed that I was passing judgement on himself for sitting!

Realizing this faux-pas, I laughed out loud (now he thinks I'm nuts) and took my ear buds out. I apologized immediately, and explained to him that I was listening to a radio show, and my look of disgust was definitely NOT meant to be flung willy nilly only to land in his direction! He laughed and said "Wow, thank goodness. I almost took that personally!"

The sum result is that a) I don't have a poker face. Never have. Never will. b) It's a dangerous combination, riding the train and listening to a comedy show at the same time. People might think that you're crazier than you really are.

15 April 2010

Online obsessions

Okay, I'll admit, I'm a Facebook fanatic. I'm not too crazy with the farms or fish, but I love the little voyeuristic peek into people's lives, and staying in touch with the people I love... it's awesome.

But I have a few other online distractions that maybe aren't as socially accepted as Facebook. So I thought I'd share some of the latest ones with you... none of these are obscene, so don't worry about that. Well, unless you count some foods as obscene... but I digress...

Chris Kimball's Blog:
Most of you know my obsession with Cook's Illustrated(and if you've never heard of it, trust me - it's awesome. Every recipe is perfect, directions are flawless, and it's totally unbiased. Love it!) The blog is even better - recipes, anecdotes, equipment reviews, tales from the test kitchen... this place is heaven, and Chris... well, he's just one truly awesome dude.

Stuff I Ate
Continuing the foodie theme, my most awesome friend & co-worker Lori has set up the Stuff I Ate blog, a great collection of insider NYC food tips, and some recipes that blow your mind, categorized under titles like "Recession recipes" and "Comfort Food". Her recipe for kale chips is to DIE for - and I hate kale! She also has the exact same camera that I do, and yet she can take photos of food that make your mouth water, while mine make food look like I pulled it out of the dumpster outside. Lori, I bow to your foodie-ness, and your food-photo abilities! (pass the kale.)

On the flip side, if you're looking for inspiration to stick to your diet, here's your new favorite site: This is why you're fat. It's pictures, submitted by fans of the site, of the most fattening, horrifying, calorie-and-fat-laden foods available all over the country. Dishes like the Flatline Burger (Double bacon cheeseburger with peanut butter deep fried and served with two sides of chipotle mayo), Cheetos coated in strawberry glaze, and The Chimmy-Dean (a pork sausage wrapped in a flour tortilla and deep fried, topped with maple syrup, bacon pieces and cool whip.) Yep, that's definitely why you're fat. It even includes a link to my next favorite food obsession:

The world of marshmallow Peeps meets the world of sushi... to create, Peepshi. The "rice" is Rice Krispy Treats, the "fish" is Peeps, the decor is... I'm not sure, maybe strawberry licorice? I don't know but it's kinda strange and cool looking. I wouldn't eat it... but it might blow up nicely in a microwave.

LOLdogs and LOLcats
Hysterically cute, sappily captioned amateur photos of dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens. It's almost as bad as Daily Squee for over-the-top, girlie, gooey cuteness that most males will avoid like the plague. Only go here if you are a) ready to admit you like cheezy cute sites, and b) not embarrassed by cheezy cute sites. Even the people who make comments use their own funny "LOLspeak" language. Awesome? Ur doin it rite.

Rules of the roads

There's been quite a dramatic shift in the traffic patterns of NYC in the last year, and I have to say, it's really throwing me off kilter.

I can deal with the 4-wheel traffic - the uneasy relationship between pedestrians and cars/trucks has struck a kind of agreement in the last oh, 50 years of psychotic driving in NYC. Cars agree not to run over me when I'm crossing the street, I agree to (mostly) avoid crossing the street completely against the lights. Even jaywalking is acceptable, as long as the block before you is stopped at a light, and the only oncoming traffic is that turning onto your street. (Those of you that live here, you get what I'm saying.)

Very rarely do pedestrians and vehicles clash openly, unless a) there's a tourist (driving) who believes that they have the right of way when turning (you don't), or b) there's a tourist who tries to jaywalk (Hint: Don't. It takes years to perfect.)

The issue I'm starting to have is with 2-wheeled vehicles. Bikes - I'm talkin' to you.

I've seen a bike take out a pedestrian walking (with a "Walk" sign) in Central Park. And when I say "take out", I mean blood dripping from a head wound and broken bones. Not cool. I will admit that some pedestrians are rather thick when it comes to crossing the street, but dear bicyclists, a red light means "stop" for you, too. I don't care if you're training for a race, timing your laps around the park, or wearing minuscule matching spandex - God gave you brakes, use them when the light is red. If you do that, I will happily take full blame when you hit me at full force when I try to stupidly walk across the path in front of you while you're sailing downhill in Central Park.

The uneasy relationship breaks down further on the new bike paths around the city roads (i.e. Broadway).

NYC pedestrians are trained to observe light patterns, walk sign patterns (I know exactly at what point in the blinking "Don't Walk" phase I can make it, and when I can't.) But now, on Broadway and other streets, there's a new bike lane, with it's own set of lights! Retraining us concrete-brained pedestrians to unlearn the habits of crossing the streets is difficult...and dangerous.

I apologize to the several bicyclists that I didn't see and stepped out in front of. I'll admit it - I deserved those choice words you shouted at me. And that Evil Eye that I gave you was purely a knee-jerk reaction that I give to everyone - nothing personal.

But at the same time, most of the time, the bikes don't stop at red lights anyway, and come barrelling down those bike lanes with the wrath of God behind them. Once, I even heard a lady shouting "Get out of the way!" at the top of her lungs as she ran her bike lane's red light. Her red light was even shaped like a bicycle. It's a light for illiterates. Did her brakes burn out, like those runaway trucks on highways? I doubt it. Here's a hint - if you hit me, it'll hurt both of us, no matter how loudly you're yelling. Slow down (especially when you're legally required to do so) and we'll both be happier.

It's going to take a while, and now that the MTA is cutting off subway lines, I'm hoping that more bicyclists will take to the streets. But I'm also hoping that we can decide, together, that we can get along a little better. I promise to (for the first time in 15 years) try to look BOTH WAYS before I cross a one-way street, if you promise to STEER with your handlebars, and USE THE BRAKES instead of cuss words when something happens in front of you.

Can you imagine if, when a car sped towards an idiot crossing the street and not looking where they were going, all the driver did was yell "Hey moron, move!" and just kept going at the same rate of speed? Can you say road pizza? Do you see where I'm going here?

You are moving at approximately 20-30mph. If you hit me, it will suck, mostly because you will *keep moving* at approximately 20-30mph until the pavement halts your flight through the air as I keep your bike tangled around my legs about 10 feet behind you. Pavement and you - it's going to hurt.

Take a lesson from the bike messengers around the city. Learn to steer, learn to brake, and learn to dodge. Yelling won't help, nor will it slow you down or steer you around your obstacle. That's what those things called "handlebars" are for.

Thanks, and have a nice day.

14 April 2010

Whoever said that there is no such thing as a stupid question never worked in media production.

It was 6pm when my work cell phone rang. As I'm at work by 5:30am every day, I try to finish up work by 3 or 4pm every day. A 6pm call is never good news...

"Hello, this is Beth"

"Hi there," (a very young, intern-like voice) "this is Amber, [name removed]'s assistant. I was just going over the details for tomorrow with [name removed]. It's at 7am?"

"Yep, 7am."

"That's 7am, Eastern time?"

"Yep, 7am Eastern time. I think I covered this in the logistics sheet I emailed to you a few weeks go, yes?"

"Do you realize that 7am Eastern is 4am on the West Coast?"

"Um, actually yes. Yes, I do know that." (and I'm thinking by the rather shocked tone in your voice that you did not realize this...until just a few minutes ago. I'm also thinking that you're right on the edge of a panic attack right now.)

"That's really early."

"Well, yes, yes it is. And that's why I sent the email 3 weeks ago to confirm that you were OK with the time. It didn't seem to be a problem then. Is it a problem now?"

"Well, um. It's just really early. I thought it was at 7am pacific time."

"Let me pull up the email that I sent. Yep, March 25th, I sent you the logistics and it says 7am eastern time. Is that going to be a problem?"

"Um. No. Well, okay. If it's a problem I'll call you back."

Now, I feel sorry for assistants, I really do. Especially those who are assistants for assistants for celebrities. I have worked with enough publicists, assistants, assistant assistants and celebrities to know what types of people you risk working for when you take on a job like that. Undoubtedly poor Amber was tasked with the menial job of typing up the final version of [name removed]'s schedule for the next day when she realized that it said...7am Eastern.

Now, I don't feel too badly for you when it's your own fault for not reading, but I do give you a speck of respect for realizing that there actually is a time difference between the East and West Coasts. And for what it's worth, I'm really sorry... that's a harsh lesson I'm sure you're learning the hard way on the other end of my silent phone. This will be a bad day for you, and you'll probably have a drink or three on Friday because of it. I honestly hope you don't get fired for spotting what no one else on your staff seemed to recognize three weeks ago.

Now it's 7:15pm...an hour after I received the call. I haven't heard anything at all from any assistants. But I'm assuming that in California, someone is getting yelled at, if not by [name removed], then by [name removed]'s higher-level assistant who had to break the news.

In any case, see you at 7am Eastern... (4am Pacific...)