[Adorable] NYC Recycles Beaniebin freebie giveaway (for NYC residents only)

Offer expires while supplies last or until August 31st, 2012.

NYC recycle beanies from NYC BWPRR

In a mission to do some outreach and spread the word to the benefits of recycling, New York City’s Sanitation Department’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling is giving away free 4″ beanies of their recycling can icons, Blue Bin and Green Bin where Blue represents bottle/plastic recycling and Green represents Paper recycling to spur the practice of.

To get your own beanies (for NYC residents only), simply follow these instructions:

  • Follow them via any one of their social media accounts (any one would do):
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/nycrecycles
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/nycrecycles
    Flickr: www.flickr.com/nycrecycles
    Youtube: www.youtube.com/nycrecyclesmore
  • Go to their contact form here, fill out the appropriate fields
  • Where there’s a text field at the bottom of the form, copy and paste this message:
    “I am a fan of NYCrecycles! Please send my recycling beanie bins to the address listed above. My twitter handle is @[insert your twitter info] and/or my Facebook name is [insert your Facebook info].” (replace with appropriate handles)

They say delivery will be from 4-6 weeks but overall it took me approximately a week to get it. It arrived today via FedEx Ground (NYC’s either allocated a bit of money for FedEx deliveries or they get a good discount for all the business they give the company. Either or, I loved the quick delivery). It was packed quite safely, outside a bubble envelope and inside, a sturdy hard box.

Unboxing it, you get the two individual beanies sealed in plastic along with some recycling information. The beanies are adorable, looks to be made of vinyl and hard vinyl eyes. I was going to open them and display it, but the demon dog at home was eying them hungrily so I held off. They are a good reminder for young children (I assume that’s who they are trying to target these little toys to) to start learning how to recycle at their early age. It’s never too early to learn some good practices and habits!

Green Bin & Blue Bin front

Green Bin, Blue Bin back

Assortment of recycling information fliers (love the QR codes btw)

Decal of recyclable (and non) items.

Get them while they still got them!


Happy Transit Friday: MTA tries to make money, wants money from riders (again!) and don’t farebeat, or Eagle will fall upon you.

Happy happy Friday where the weather in NYC is currently no rain (yet) and not deathly humid outside.
So what’s good in the news?

Well, after reading about the MTA considering pimping out their MetroCard fronts for adspace, they’re now considering bringing back their unpopular proposal of enacting a $1 “Green” tax on MetroCard fares (which was first proposed back in 2010 for 2011 in an article from the NY Post). According to the MTA, the tax will supposedly help keep riders from just buying cards and discarding them willy-nilly before their expiration dates and causing more garbage in landfills. Having a tax on it will keep riders using the same old cards until they can be used no more. However, if you do have an expired card, when you go to refill it you are exempted from this tax (should it go into effect next year if it passes).

According to the New York Daily News article:

The MTA on average prints and encodes 160 million MetroCards a year at a cost of approximately $9.5 million, agency spokesman Adam Lisberg said.
The surcharge will generate an estimated $18 million in revenue while printing fewer MetroCards will save another $2 million or so, according to the MTA.

I think I preferred if they attempted this route instead. What is that old adage? You catch more flies with honey than vinegar? An optional tax with a good cause attached to it might have been a better approach as people knowing where their money goes (especially if it’s towards the betterment in quality of life) would be more opened to “donating”. Plus the MTA could always sweeten the pot by including names of biggest civilian donors to this “Green” program (nothing makes you feel more important than seeing yourself in print) in a scrollable box on a page in their website. Just saying.

For those who want to help the MTA keep used cards out of the landfill, might I suggest reusing them as a more resilient version of their product? At least yours will be homemade and it won’t get soggy in the rain! Of course I don’t condone selling it (not even on Etsy, hipsters!), because their legal eagles will be on you like white on rice.


A member of the Eagle Team (mta.info)

Speaking of eagles… the MTA is increasing the presence of the Eagle Team[!] (okay, saying it without the added emphasis of an exclamation mark really doesn’t give it the oomph that it deserves) on their bus routes.

According to MTA’s information on the Eagle Team:

Created in September 2007, The Eagle Team began their work in collaboration with the NYPD and both the NYCT’s Departments of Buses and Subways to combat graffiti and vandalism.  By ensuring our yards and depots were secure, the Team was able to make a serious dent in the vandalism problem.  In June 2008, the Eagle Team expanded to cover SBS in the Bronx and again in October 2010 and November 2011 as two more SBS routes opened in Manhattan.

On their Select Bus Service (SBS) lines (the fareless pay-before-you-board system), the Eagle Team has been a deterrent on farebeating. Basically it’s additional MTA personnel on the buses making sure people boarding have paid the fares and aren’t just trying to get a free ride. In addition, they will also help NYPD determine which areas or “hot spots” are more prone to farebeating. If caught evading the fare, a member of the Eagle Team will have the authority to issue a summons of $100.00.

While this sounds good, it begs some questions:

  • What if they encounter a farebeater who will get violent? So far the press release said that they have been “credited with creating an atmosphere of minimal fare evasion as well as near zero operator assaults along those routes.” It neglects to mention if Eagle Team personnel are constantly on the buses even during off-peak late night hours, or are they only there during rush hours, or randomly throughout the day outside of late night hours.
  • How many Eagle Team members out of the 60-70 members (actual number 57) are prone to be on routes outside of Manhattan (like the Bx12 in the Bronx) or are they more clustered in Manhattan (because everything dangerous always happens there. /sarcasm) on their other 2 SBS routes: the M34/34A and M15.
  • If, and if that scenario of violence actually comes up, would they be able to subdue the person if they do turn violent while they wait for NYPD assistance as according to the previous link that members of Eagle Team do have prior law enforcement experience? Or will they have to take a passive approach and just notify NYPD when it occurs (much like Station Agents who are forbidden to leave their booths and penalized if they do when something happens to a rider in the station)? If it’s the latter, how will this be any more safer than having cameras onboard and partial partitions for the operators?

For those who tl;dr’d the last bit, the tl;dr would be: Eagle Team is good, but I have questions about passenger/operator safety during late night hours that wasn’t brought up in short MTA PR piece because I’m cynical and like to question things.

Resorts World Racino making too much money and MTA trying to make some.

About 3 months shy of a year’s anniversary, Resorts World Casino apparently pulled in $15mil just in one week (July 1-7). With that sort of streak, it’s no wonder that they have surpassed Atlantic City as the new “gambling mecca” in the Tri-State area. Even though it’s only a slots only establishment (whereas the other casinos like Mohegan Sun, Atlantic City have actual dealers), the numbers are astounding.

Disclaimer: I’ve been in the casino once. It was loud, cold and I forgot my shawl.

Since Resorts World Casino opened in Queens back in October of 2011, there has been mixed reviews on its location. Some background information: It is situated in the former Aqueduct Racetrack, a stone’s throw away from the residents of Ozone Park/Howard Beach/Richmond Hill, and literally a bus ride away (the Q37 bus’ amended route includes a stop into the casino) for the rest of New York’s citizens. If you live further, you can always fly in (JFK Airport is right around the corner) and take the Airtrain into the Howard Beach station and catch a connecting A train to the Aqueduct-North Conduit station (which was renovated by Genting, the parent owner of Resorts World).

There were people for and against the construction of the casino. Some people weren’t fond of the idea of a casino right in their own backyards (NIMBY) because it would

  • raise the percentage of crime activity (there was an increase)
  • make people gamble more
  • displace the people who participated in the Aqueduct flea market (the flea market have since disbanded)

The people who were for this project (including our own Governor Andrew Cuomo, who wants to have more casinos in the city of New York supported the casino idea because

  • it would create jobs in the building of
  • it would create local jobs with people from the neighborhood
  • the gambling revenue would benefit education (as in NY, supposedly all lottery revenue generated goes to education, although in reality some revenue actually goes to the racing association to supplement the upkeep of racetracks)
    (Historically, their revenue so far is $7.6 Billion. From their weekly net of $15mil from 7/1-7, they returned $6.5mil back to the state for education)

With all the news fluff about how great the casino is though, there have been stories (hilarious) where people have been “maiming” the slot machines. Chalk it up to being a sore loser, really. Apparently the damages usually ranged from $1-2k of damage and the crime can carry up a year in jail. You do however, get to avoid the latter if you paid the damages. One would think this kind of stuff would never happen in Nicky Santoro’s Casino.


While talking about something financially successful, now it’s time to change channels and focus on the not so “financially sound” MTA. Taking their economic cries with a grain of salt, as every other year they cry poverty while spending obscene amount of monies on bloated capital projects (eg: what seems like an eternity of construction with the East Side Access project) and massive PR stunt (eg: the reactive Fasttrack project that seems to really benefit the MTA’s PR image).

Yesterday it hit the news that the MTA is looking to sell ad space right in the front of their MetroCards. Iconic yellow-gold no more! While the MTA is trying to expand their touch-and-go-pay system (which with their record we will probably not see for another good 5-10 years), currently they are trying to raise more revenue with this new venture. It’s commendable, I am curious to see what agencies will commission the cards. When done tastefully (like the wraps on the Grand Central Station Shuttle), I will admit the ads do not look too intrusive. Since I don’t spend too much time staring at any parts of my MetroCard (except when using it), I hope they get a good amount for this. According to the MTA, there is no limit to what can be on the cards as long as it doesn’t block the magnetic strip, and is not religious (thank the baby Jesus). They can also “microplace” ad-specific cards in up to 10 stations to better target their demographics.

How much will this cost advertisers? Agencies, contact the MTA to find out! However, it can cost anywhere from 18-51 cents to advertise on the backs of the cards (with a minimum of 50,000 cards ordered), so you can take that as an indicator (maybe front space would be anywhere from $3-5/each).

With that said, as a collector of MetroCards (or hoarder, they do make great bookmarks) I can’t wait to see this unfold.

More Queens Birding fun! Jamaica Bay and Alley Pond Park

Summer is in the air and the bird sightings are just amazing. Now that we’re hitting peak heat wave weather, I wonder how the birds are faring with this. Do birds even sweat?

According to Keith McGuinness, a faculty member of the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences in Australia, they do not.

Birds do not have sweat glands, so must use other means to keep cool when the environment is hot. The three main ways they do this are by:

  1. Panting, as Ed suggested: in other words, breathing in and out rapidly. Some birds may pant up to 300 times per minute under some conditions.
  2. Regulating blood flow in their feet: bird’s legs and feet, because they lack feathers, are good sites for heat loss. By increasing the flow of blood to the skin of the legs and feet, birds can lose excess heat.
  3. Altering their behaviour: resting when it is hot and only becoming active when it becomes cool. This is, of course, a habit adopted by many animals in stressful environments.

Note: Playing catchup here, I actually saw these birds earlier last month in June.

We had gone to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in the morning and then Alley Pond in the afternoon.

Alley Pond Park: if you thought Forest Park was huge, it pales in comparison to Alley Pond Park.

Some interesting Alley Pond Park Facts:

  • 2nd largest park in Queens. First place goes to Flushing Meadows Corona Park
  • Has many different types of ecosystems which is home to many unique forms of wildlife
  • “The tulip trees, oaks, and beeches in Alley Pond Park’s forest are some of the largest in the city.”

What I loved about this park was its sheer size. Like many large parks in NYC, it’s very hard to cover the whole swath of land in one day. We saw many different types of birds (or at least different to me) as well as fuzzy creatures. Cue Elmyra!

“I want to hug you and squeeze you into itty-bitty pieces!” (Photo from writerzblockblog.wordpress.com)

One bird was very interesting in particular: the Spotted Towhee. Apparently if called, it will follow the source of the sound– which was pretty apparent when we walked some distance and encountered that same Towhee again (we also were followed by two elderly Korean ladies but that’s a different species and not one I meant to call)! I wonder if one would follow me home and what would it eat? Birdseed (the Towhee, not the Korean ladies)?

So yes, with the oncoming Summer season, will we see more birds? Will the author melt in the heat? Find out next time onnnnnnnnnnnnn Melbus Theater!


Birding from Queens to “de Eyeland”

To some, rare means finding a $20 bill in the street. To me, rare means getting up early. Specifically: 6:30 AM.

Was it really something to brag about? Compared to people who usually get up around that time to take the subway to work? Not really, but considering that I don’t usually get up when the Sun starts to rise without raising hell, yes, yes it was.

I blame my friend, Simon. He’s a birder so he’s used to getting up early (as well as dirty) in order to see rare and uncommon birds. I just like seeing different things in general. I can’t really call myself a birder, but I do like to learn. I suppose somewhere down the line, if I gain some solid knowledge- then maybe I can then call myself a birder. Until then I am just a novice that just points out the colorful ones and going, “oooh!” (Birdnub)

We first headed to Forest Park. There is apparently a mystical watering hole within the park that birds flock to in the early mornings. However when we got there, we couldn’t find it. We probably walked over it, to be honest as it was rather dry. If the watering hole is small, it probably doesn’t last for long after a rainfall. I did see some interesting critters though there so it wasn’t such a bust. I made out with a shot of a spider and a rather chubby chipmunk

Feeling quite adventurous, we ventured out into what Melissa fondly calls “de eyeland” (Long Island) to the Valley Stream State Park. Unfortunately there are no information on this park, but if you wanted to park there, you’d have to pay $8 for the privilege to do so (private car). I did find a bird checklist though so if you’re interested in visiting this park, you would know what to expect and in what season.

I did get more sightings than I had in Forest Park though so it was a pretty good day for me. In retrospect, seeing one new bird is much better than not seeing one at all. And if all fails, just take lots of pictures of adorable ducks!

Lastly, driving back into Queens, we decided to make one last stop to Kissena Park (not so far from Queens College). If I thought Forest Park was “foresty,” this one was the forest tenfold. Weeds, plants, and too much Poison Ivy for my taste.

Kissena Park overgrowth. Time to break out the machete!

Some interesting facts about Kissena Park:

  • Presumably named in 1908 after Kissena Lake. Kissena, from the Chippewa word “Kissina” (“It’s cold”) by Samuel Bowne Parsons (Parson’s Blvd, anybody), an experienced horticulturist and amateur Indian expert.
  • There is a bike track, called the “Siegfried Stern Kissena Park Bicycle Track” right towards one of the entrances. It’s like Nascar for bikes!
  • There is a lot of poison ivy here.

Due to me making a newb mistake (bringing only one battery with my camera), I could not take any pictures of birds in the park. However Simon did help me sight some Orioles, so one day I will be back to get a photo of them. Hopefully.

She just cannot catch a break in Snow White & the Huntsman (A recap)

Not quite the fairy tale you grew up with. (From http://www.screenweek.it)

Tuesday night I was fortunate enough to attend an advance screening for Snow White & the Huntsman from Cinemit in Manhattan (note to self: if going to a screening anywhere in Manhattan, arrive anywhere from 1 – 1.5 hours so you don’t end up sitting all the way in the front and getting a crick in your neck. It does not float well on the train where the crazies will think you’re challenging them). I had gone with a friend so I enjoyed the company. Although the seats were not the best (we ended up sitting right about 5 rows from the front), the movie was great. I was captivated enough that I forgot about the pain (until typing right now and realizing that slowly my head is tilting slightly to one side or another).

This movie is pretty much your average fairy tale with a dark twist.

If you have been keeping up with your fairy tales, Snow White is the daughter of a benevolent Queen. She was fair and beautiful. She dies one day and the King marries another woman. The woman you would remember, then becomes the main antagonist who would usurp the kingdom and tries to get rid of Snow White.

Following in the traditional story (with a twist!), the Queen dies after giving birth to Snow White (who is extremely bright, amicable and everybody just loves the sight of her throughout the kingdom). Snow White’s father, the King, leads an army against the threat of a foreign nature. The enemy falls easily, too easily. They shatter like glass once hit. The army rejoices; the King comes across a caravan of sorts and discovers a pale, lithe woman. “What is your name?” The King asks. “Charlize Thero– I mean, Ravenna,” she replies. Spoilers ahead! Spoilers ahead! Long recap is ahead!

Delete your cookies, hide your data. Internet Week NY is here.

First off, I have to admit that I love attending these events. However this would have to be the second time that I have been fed. It seems that when you’re there as a guest/consumer, they often do try to butter you up with food and goodies. Of course, the former isn’t what I was there for, it’s the latter it was the technology. Plus with my throat feeling like the Sahara, I could not consume any goodies at all. If you could eat with your eyes, I suppose that’s how I got my fill then.

Internet Week NY was from May 14th-May 21st, 2012. Due to contracting the G-Virus (or what you would imagine if you thought about William Birkin as you continued your day’s work), I was not able to attend most of the week’s events. Severely disappointing, but shame on me if I was going to go there and contaminate the area and get tech minds sick. I was feeling slightly better and it had felt like a waste not to go, so on I trudged right down to 82 Mercer St. in Manhattan. The smell of hipsters and tourists were in the air… and in front as I tried to get past them.

The IWNY HQ was quite small, and it seemed like the people at the desk were bored. Guess it is the last day, why even care? They were nice, however.

Flashed my badge and some intimidating security guard merely nodded, granting me access inside the inner sanctum of tech. Oh how little do you feel being in such company it would seem. For the most part, if you were in the field, you could network. If anyone would talk to you, that is. The vendors would talk to you, sure. But the guy sitting next to you at one of the panels? Would not even bat an eye my way. Perhaps when someone techy is near, their senses would tingle. Hey! I use the PC too! I know how to go on teh Internets and do this typity type thing you call blogging! Continue reading