Winter Storm Jonas 2016

Snow:New York :: blue:sky

What gets me going is when the city “shuts down” over a bit of snow. As a New Yorker that has been here for a good 20+ years, blizzards and winter storms aren’t my first rodeo. So here comes Winter Storm Jonas and everything comes to a standstill. Broadway? Shut it down! Mass transit? Shut it down (albeit only above ground EL service)! Roads? Shut. It. Down! No one should be traveling on the roads, your government has decreed it. Who cares if you have to get to work or come home from work? You should be glad that the government cares enough about you to tell you what to do and stay home (don’t expect them to compensate you for any loss wages, however). It’s for your own good, remember that.

The only good thing is that walking around was not banned, but recommended that you not go outside. Not one to shy away from snow, of all things, we opted to walk around the neighborhood and check just how much plowing went on (not much). We were out for a good 4 hours, and NOT once did we see a DSNY plow or salt truck. The air was crisp, the snow wasn’t heavy, and traipsing around made me feel like one of those foxes in the Nature specials, jumping in the snow for field mice.

While at some junctures, the snow did come up to my knees, it really was no threat nor obstacle for my overprepared self. Nothing like a good set of layers and good pair of boots (Bugaboots by Columbia, what is cold?) to help you tackle Mother Nature’s wintry fury.

 

It wasn’t the worst blizzard I’ve walked in, but it was pretty enjoyable for a day off and something to do. Take in the sights and frolic in the snow like a kid again.

2014: I Cannot Therefore I Shall Not Keep Resolutions

Happy 2014!

While for many it’s a beginning to a new year, fresh start, I feel like last year was my fresh start and this is just another day to continue my (what I would consider) good luck. Knock on wood, it’ll continue on through 2014 and subsequent years.

Why the very pessimistic title? I just can’t keep a resolution. Every year I aim high but I never seem to hit anything. I have made a few strides but not yet walked that mile quite yet. This year I’m just going to take it as it comes, try to do as much as I can and then just see what happens.

Looking back to 2013’s goals (and updating as of 2014 in bold):

  1. Learn to code (js, c++, html, ruby, completing any one is acceptable) – 2014: Started HTML around Oct of 2013, slowly but surely learning.
  2. Use the Yashica more (and look for better developers as well) – 2014Took a few pictures in 2013, but haven’t yet finished that one roll (did finish a roll… but kind of screwed up and lost all 24 pics).
  3. Hang with friends (even with all my time, hanging out is rare) – 2014: Total fail. Hung out with absolutely no one. Damn work.
  4. Use a sewing machine (no more needles in my fingers!) – 2014: Moved, so no access to a sewing machine. Did use a needle to sew a button on a sweater though.
  5. Take Trouble to the park more – 2014: Moved, now I walk cats.
  6. Learn to crochet – 2014: Did learn to crochet, but haven’t picked it up since I moved. 😦
  7. Learn to knit other patterns (learn to read patterns) – 2014: Haven’t crocheted, haven’t knitted. 😦
  8. Learn a new language (Spanish & Mandarin, completing any one is acceptable) – 2014: Started using Duolingo to refresh my Spanish and after, will start to learn French. I still refuse to pay for Rosetta Stone.
  9. Be more positive – 2014: Working in the new job where it seems positivity is something that definitely gets you through the day.
  10. Update this blog more – 2014: Total fail, haven’t really updated since starting a job.
  11. Volunteer more (but don’t spread self too thinly) – 2014: Fail, haven’t volunteered at all in 2013.

So what really am I aiming for this year?

  • Job: either move off the phones to somewhere that I have more responsibilities (and freedom) and can stretch my legs, or move to another job path
  • Spend more time with my family now that I don’t see them much
  • Spend more time with my SO
  • Work more on #s 1,8,9,10 from last year

Work and Pets

I haven’t posted in so long, and it feels so weird that I’m just sitting here doing it now. It’s like picking up a book that you haven’t touched for a while and wondering where to begin.

 

Work

So far work has been interesting to say the least. We lost some along the way, but most of us are still here as they bring in new meat every day. What at the beginning seemed to be akin to the Panopticon is now the norm. Due to the strict social media rules, I’m abstaining from mentioning what I do on this blog. Part of me is starting to enjoy the work, only due to the fact that I’ve got hilarious co-workers. It really does make the day go by a little bit easier.

 

Life

Life has been fun. I’ve moved. I got cats. I may even get dogs. It’s going to turn into an animal house soon enough only that we’re both not hoarders so no worries in the future whether we’ll be eaten by our pets.

 

Hobbies

I haven’t doodled seriously in the longest. I did do it briefly during work one day during a brief lull. Photography wise, I’ve been taking some pictures of the cats with the dSLR, but my film experience this year so far has been a tragedy (see previous post). I miss going out, but every time I’ve had a day off it’s been raining so no pictures for me.

Film Fail

Ever had that one moment where you just wanted to smack yourself in the face?

What’s the saying? Oh yeah, epic facepalm moment.

 

Seriously.

It’s been so long since I used the film camera (with my horrible memory, not using it for a while, once when I start again puts me back to square one) that I made one of the most newbish mistakes ever. Now that I’m awake and I realize it, part of me is shaking my head, and part of me wants to toss myself off the building because it was such a stupid mistake.

The rewind button!

I have to say, once I make an epic mistake, I won’t ever make it again. Next time I’ll definitely remember to press the button while winding the film. Due to not pressing that button, I ruined a whole roll of film that took me just about a month to finish. Sheesh. And I took such good notes this time… at least I could attempt a take two of some pictures next week, weather permitting.

 

Now off to lick my wounds and bounce back for the next time.

Orden en el Museo del Barrio, Aquí Viene el Juez*: Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Book Signing

*Order in el Museo del Barrio, here comes the judge

Still playing catchup (and not breaking any records unfortunately), Justice Sotomayor’s book signing happened on 1/19 at el Museo del Barrio. To me, it’s one of those museums you always hear about but never knew where it was. El Museo del Barrio is located on E104th Street and 5th Avenue. It’s conveniently across the street from the upper part of Central Park should you choose to take a leisurely stroll after your visit there. It’s accessible by the 4/5/6 train (get off at the 103rd Street stop & walk to 5th Ave). Extremely nervous and ill prepared (no decent camera and no copy of her book), I had to leave early and take a detour to the nearest Barnes & Noble to pick up her memoir. Luckily I found her book without much problem (for a new release, they didn’t put it at the front of the store like they usually do, was it because it was 30% off sticker price?) and checkout was a breeze. Hopped on the train for one quick stop and off I was right in East Harlem. The last time I was there, I was with the then bf (now dh) picking up some pets from the AC&C on E110th (anyone in NYC looking for a pet should definitely check out that place first).

Although her interview wasn’t starting until 3PM, when I arrived at 2PM, the line was down to the corner of the block already (the museum’s front door is actually in the middle of 103rd & 104th Streets). Luckily I was there early to save a place in the line for my companions. Can’t say I wasn’t excited, even if it was to just stand on line, soon we’ll all be sitting in the presence of Justice Sotomayor. It’s such an honor, personally to be in such an atmosphere. Of course the more excited I was, the more nervous I was, and the more nervous I was, the more I was leaning towards puking. Well 3PM came and the line started to move. We all walked inside and got our seats. I’m glad I bought the book outside of the museum. While I support museums, I saved quite a bit buying not from them (~$10 difference). I did see some people going crazy though, purchasing 5+ books. Someone’s getting a Sotomayor signed book for their birthday!

The stage at el Museo del Barrio.

The stage at el Museo del Barrio.

Beautiful artwork in the auditorium of el Museo del Barrio.

Beautiful artwork in the auditorium of el Museo del Barrio.

The inside of the auditorium was beautiful. There were full painted murals on the walls. According to one of the museum’s staff members, he advised people to not go too crazy on the flash- especially if they were taking pictures of the murals- because the flash will degrade the paintings. Very interesting and definitely still did not stop some people who feigned ignorance. That also applied when they advised against using flash when Justice Sotomayor was speaking. I guess that’s one reason why she didn’t look much at the audience during her hour talk.

Justice Sotomayor chatting with Interview Maria Hinajosa.

Justice Sotomayor chatting with Interview Maria Hinajosa.

After a brief wait, our interviewer and host, Ms. Maria Hinajosa came out to a lot of applause. She was pretty funny, cracked jokes, and traded back and forths with Justice Sotomayor. While we loved her energy, we definitely brought down the house when the Justice walked out on stage. She got an extremely loud standing ovation. She discussed her life growing up in the Bronx with an alcoholic father and how that affected her growing up. What stood out most in my mind was in the beginning, when she mentioned how people always look towards her with reverence, and she tells them that they shouldn’t look at her like that, as if she was “better or higher than them.” So down to Earth, Justice Sotomayor wants to be treated equally with the likes of you and I. I can’t say I could do that though. She’s definitely “Sonia from the block”. Throughout the whole interview, they peppered their conversation with some Spanish, which was great considering that pretty much 99% of the crowd were Spanish-speakers, but definitely did not help me and my rusty Spanish skills.

She did take some audience questions at the end, but was running short on time so they breezed quickly through it.

Running short on time, Ms. Hinojosa read through some of the questions audience members had submitted on cue cards. Ms. Sotomayor answered in an impromptu lightning round.

What’s a Latina feminist? “Someone who is ‘tough as nails.’”

Life/work balance? “All of life is choices.”

Would Ms. Sotomayor recommend law school? “Law is the noblest profession.”

Favorite Yankee? “Bernie Williams.”

Most surprising thing about getting to know the president? “He is so tall.”

After they finished their interview (and to Justice Sotomayor getting yet another long standing ovation), everyone rushed out to get on line for her book signing. There were so many people that they had to crowd off dozens in different groups and then admit them 10 at a time. Apparently Justice Sotomayor has a record of signing a certain number of books in her sessions (it was 500 before today) and she was definitely determined to break it today (definitely doable considering there were probably 500+ people there, with some bringing multiple books). Luckily sitting at the end of the auditorium gave me an advantage at the book line, as my wait time was probably about 15 minutes (until I got into the actual signing room). I never really attended a book signing but she had a lot of handlers. I mean, every 5 feet, someone would give you the once over, and tell you if you were holding the book wrong (I was told to put the cover flap a certain way so it wouldn’t bother Justice Sotomayor). Great tips for the newbs, but it was rather intimidating. I was wondering if we would ever all get patted down at one point or another from the entrance to the Justice (we didn’t). We also weren’t allowed to take any pictures of her while she was signing, which seemed silly. I read that she shook hands but I didn’t see any of that. As usual with anyone of authority, I turn into a bundle of verbal diarrhea. In my head I had what I wanted to say prepared, but when I got in front of her, all I could eke out was, “oh it’s an honor to meet you.” Blah. Not bad but I could have done better. She thanked me for coming and for buying her book. I guess she had to say that to everyone, but even in that cold atmosphere she still managed to make you feel so warm.

All fangirling asides, what am I going to do with her book now? I’m going to have to put it in a airtight box or something. It’s really not every day you get to meet a Justice of the Supreme Court.

The Sea of Pink: FPA’s Day of Action 2013, Albany

First off, I’m going to apologize for the (huge) delay in posting this as this event was about a good 2 weeks ago (1/14/2013). I’m going to channel Justice Sotomayor (will explain in next post) and try to churn this out today.

I always dreamt about being an activist (well I had many, many dreams- many of which that really didn’t come into fruition- but one must start somewhere I suppose) and on that Monday, I was given a chance at trying my hand at lobbying. I wanted to lobby when I first went to Albany with Bloomy’s Political Science class at Adams back in the heyday when I was more idealistic. I had no clue what I wanted to lobby for to be honest back then, I was more enamored with hanging with the politicians. Yeah, if your teenage self tells you that they know what they want to do, they definitely do not know what they want to do.

So that Monday I got up at about 5AM and caught the 6AM train to get to Planned Parenthood’s main office at Bleeker Street (surprisingly was nice and quick, thank you Embark for working so well, caught all my trains) to catch the bus at 7AM. After grabbing my info packet (and some coffee, yes!) I grabbed a nice seat on the bus. Window this time!

Actually that really wasn’t such a great idea.

Or maybe it was that donut I ate (why did I go pink for today? I may have fared better with a Boston Creme). Oh the motion sickness.

3… hours to Albany, part of the time I was looking out of the window, and part of the time I was praying for swift death. Although I had a seatmate, I wasn’t very friendly (and I feel horrible that I wasn’t so talkative) but in retrospect, I think she wouldn’t have enjoyed being vomited on.

We finally arrived, and the cold air was very much appreciated. In retrospect I should’ve taken some pictures of the outside, but we were pressed for time to make the rally so once everyone was out of the bus, we were herded into “The Well”. We were given these very nice pink pashminas (so that’s what one of those were, as Chasing Bono memories flooded through my mind) so we can wear and blend in with our other PP counterparts.

We listened to quite a few legislators, some names I remembered: Lt. Gov Robert Duffy, Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Tom DiNapoli (NYS Controller), Speaker Shelly Silver were there. Sen. Stewart-Cousins was exceptionally invigorating (and hilarious), but at 10AM, not even all that coffee could wake me up. That and the lack of seating (hands were full), I could clap like a broken seal. I believe that Sen. Stewart-Cousins summarized this rally at best: that “2013 is the year of the woman” and that the Reproductive Health Act has a good chance of being passed, as Governor Cuomo is a staunch supporter of it (along with a good number of legislators from both the House and Senate).

After what seemed like a lot of clapping and almost-papercuts later, we were corralled onto the steps to take group photos. I guess everyone was ill prepared as well, we were all taking cell phone camera pictures haha. Everyone was jostling for a good spot, but I was more worried about being blocked by someone’s big hair. Actually checking the time, I was very close to my first appointment, where a group of us would meet with legislators to talk about the RHA and to request for additional funding from the State to cover the gap from Title X cuts. Although we didn’t get to chat with any legislators, we did discuss the issues with their staff and they were very receptive.

Some pictures of the rally (I was so ill prepared, so I only used my phone’s camera… sigh, digital zoom):

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Lt. Gov. Duffy

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FPA allies in the Legislature

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CEO of Family Planning Advocates of New York, M. Tracey Brooks

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Group picture (courtesy of FPA’s facebook page) of all those who attended

Mayor Gaynor, Where No Letter Went Unanswered and Repliers of Today

I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of Mayor Gaynor (until today), and chances are, neither have you.

Mayor William J. Gaynor (Wikipedia)

Apparently, back in the days politicians major politicans (eg: Mayors) actually replied to their constitutents. [Note: I hesitated to put Governors and above in the mix, because I haven’t read anything about them (although it would be great to research and see which were the most accessible higher ranked politicians in history).]

Mayor William J. Gaynor was mayor of NYC from 1910-1913. At that same time, Taft was the President and Chauncey Depew was our Senator from 1899-1911. According to the NY Times, Mayor Gaynor answered mail via the newspaper and regular postal mail. The explanation for replying via the papers was because at times he would get anonymous letters without addresses so the only way he could be sure the writer would see the response would be through the media. I loved that he was also quite sarcastic in his letters as well to some people, it is such a refreshing taste considering now we have people self-censoring so they don’t come off the wrong way to people.

To read the original article and pick up a little bit of niche knowledge, here is the NY Times article.

Nowadays you would be lucky if you could contact the Mayor of NYC directly via mail and actually receive a reply.

Newark residents, on the other hand, are lucky to have Mayor Cory Booker who is quite active on Twitter and directly responds to his constituents (even Direct Messaging them his [government] cell number). Outside of Twitter, Mayor Booker seems to be a literal man of the people (during Hurricane Sandy, this man opened up his personal residence to his neighbors). Short of amazing, I am definitely looking forward to this guy running for higher office (and will gladly volunteer for him).

The reason why I mentioned Mayor Booker is because once I read the article, that was the first politician that came to my mind. Naturally I know that there are other twitter active politicians out there, but for most purposes, Booker is within the Tri-State area for me.

Seems he agreed: