Archive for October, 2010

Rainy Day Fun

October 3rd, 2010 by An Phung

Just when New Yorkers were getting use to a summer accompanied by record-breaking high temperatures, steamy subway platforms and clear sunny skies, autumn arrives and it’s time to adjust to a whole new season again. It’s been an unusually warm and rainy fall season, leaving New Yorkers with no choice but to brave the moisture a little earlier than usual. They say you can’t predict the weather, but there are ways to ensure that you don’t let this pesky, volatile climate ruin your good time in New York City.

1. A Rainy Day Wardrobe – Some rain boots,  an umbrella and a raincoat are imperative in a city where walking is the main mode of transportation. The last thing you want are soggy pant hems when you get to the office. If you end up collecting a bevy of $5 street vendor umbrellas by the end of the rainy season, there is an eco-friendly way to dispose of the excess.

2. A Day At The Museum – Museums are kid-friendly and date-friendly places to spend a rainy day. No matter which exhibit in the fall line-up you visit, there will be an array of colors, sculptures and historical lessons to fill up time for restless kids and awkward first dates.

3. Roast Your Chestnuts –  As the outdoor bar season comes to an end, check out the list of indoor bars with fireplaces that will keep New Yorkers dry and warm. These watering holes will come in handy as the fall season turns into the blistering cold winter season.

4. Apply Your Apps – There are plenty of free weather apps for Blackberrys, Android phones and iPhones available to help New Yorkers stay one step ahead of the storm. Gizmodo has rated the best weather apps for your smartphones. Checking the weather before leaving home, work or school will ensure that you’re properly dressed and heading somewhere warm and dry.

5. Stay Home – A stormy season as dangerous and inconvenient as this one means that it might be safer to stay home and avoid the subways and falling trees all together. Dodging lethal tree branches is not a fun or safe addition to your daily commute.

Pacifiers, Play Pens and Terrible Toddlers

October 3rd, 2010 by Brooks Newkirk

By Brooks Newkirk

Kids are adorable, there’s no denying that. Just check out this trailer from the movie “Babies” for proof. But, and this is a big BUT, they can also be annoying and crazy as hell. Just look at this viral video of a two-year-old chain smoking. Now that’s crazy.

You can run into pesky children terrorizing innocent people with unnecessary crying and temper tantrums anywhere, from the train to the sidewalks to the mall. So what are you to do, if you’re trapped in a tight spot, like a plane, with a terrible toddler? You can’t yell at the parent for letting their kid run around like a damn fool, and you definitely can’t discipline the child, so follow these tips to help you cope:

Tip #1: Tune them out. One of the best tricks for dealing with a terrible child is to ignore them. Just put on your iPod, close your eyes and pretend you’re on a tropical island somewhere. If your iPod earpiece isn’t enough to drown out their high-pitched squeals, try these earphones from Dr. Dre.

Tip #2: Stare the parents down. This tip can be a little awkward, but if the parents aren’t doing anything to quite their child, stare at them and sigh loudly. Hopefully this will cause them to do something to get their kid to quite down. On the flip side, they could get pissed and want to fight you. If that’s the case, be prepared by taking boxing classes at Trinity Boxing Club in Manhattan.

Tip#3: Be Patience. Just try to be patient. Children tend to act out because they’re frustrated, angry or just tired. WebMD says kids throw temper tantrums because they don’t know how to express themselves. So just relax, they’re not you’re children and you don’t have to take them home.

Hope absence from first international summit on bedbug

October 3rd, 2010 by Tuan Thanh Nguyen

By Tuan Nguyen

The first ever international bedbug summit was organized last week in Chicago, Il. Organizers called it a success – it was sold out five weeks in advance with the attendance of hundreds of bug experts, exterminators and scientists – but all bug connoisseurs were puzzled over how to deal with the pest.

Some findings from the summit didn’t sound like good news at all:

  • Bedbugs are not only associated with squalor. Recent infestations were found in upscale hotels and resorts. Bedbugs spreading, in fact, have been assisted by air travel.
  • Bedbugs are not picky about the blood they swig and they can suck three times their size.
  • Starving isn’t a good tactic. Bedbug can endure long periods in cramped environments without eating or even moving. Yale scientist Joshua Benoit has a live bedbug he has fed once in the past two years and eight month.
  • It’s not cheap to call in professional to deal with bedbug. Home inspection can easily hit $1,000 and there is no guarantee that the insect won’t return.

This is not a good news for New York City, where bedbug complaints have risen 20 times over the last five years.

$27 million reasons to be annoyed

October 3rd, 2010 by Chase Lindsay Rosen

It’s become apparent that New York City is a pro at spending taxpayer’s money relentlessly.

Will changing CENTRAL PARK WEST to Central Park West really reduce car accident death statistics? The Federal Highway Administration thinks so.

The discussion of changing all of Manhattan’s 250,900 street signs has caused [to some, it has added] animosity between Manhattanites and government organizations. This project will cost $27.6 million and projected to be completed by 2018. The new signs ring in at about $110 a pop and will be designed to be easier to read, making roads safer, according to NYC Department of Transportation.

New Yorkers are speaking out. There are plenty of other things this city could do with $27 million.

New signs

An example of what the new signs will look like.

  1. Finish 2nd avenue subway line: This project has been going on for years already. Deadlines have been pushed back, and costs have heightened. Businesses and residents in the area have been extremely disrupted and will continue to be until the line is finished… which is not suspected to be until 2020.
  2. Finish Ground Zero Memoriam: The Freedom Tower will not be finished until 17 years after the 9/11 attacks. Construction has been lagging due to transportation of goods. With a $3 billion budget, you’d think that commemorating the lives of those lost would be amongst the city’s top priorities… clearly they are in no rush.
  3. Keep MTA costs stabilized: Manhattanites are angered at the MTA’s propositions to increase the cost of public transportation while simultaneously cutting service. Since when is paying more for less fair?
  4. Cease police officer layoffs: NYC is in a budget crisis and the NYPD is being forced to lay off officers. Cutting the NYPD budget is certainly not going to help reduce the rising NYC crime rate.
  5. Better the NYC public school system: Over the past year, the NYC public school system has seen serious drops in average grades. ‘A’ status city issued report cards fell from 85% to 25%. The Department of Education has neglected to make any changes just yet due to the heighten costs associating with bettering schools.
  6. Keep Alex Rodriguez a Yankee: His $27 million salary is equal to the cost of changing all NYC street signs. Considered one of the best athletes of our time, NYC could spend this money on keeping him around for another year.

Should changing the signs be a top priority? In a recent poll from New York Magazine, 90% of people feel city officials should not change street signs. “We are faced with more important issues that need to be addressed and taken care of before changing the street sign aesthetics,” said Manhattan resident Brooke Rosenberg.

Street sign replacement has already started in the Bronx. Only time [or the need for cuts in other budgets to finish this project] will only tell the effectiveness of the new street signs.

A Cure for the Pothole Blues

October 3rd, 2010 by Jacqueline Vergara Amézquita

The city of New York has its share of urban annoyances. For the vehicle drivers and cyclists of the city, however, there is no bigger pest than—yes, you named it—potholes. Jumping at commuters quite often and unexpectedly, these concrete cavities have been the culprit of fatal accidents and commuter angst. Furthermore, it has been reported that potholes cost drivers in New York more than $600 a year in repairs.

To help ease this pesky problem, here are a few resources committed to aid you in the fight against potholes:

1. 1-800-Pothole—The New York State DOT provides a toll-free, 24-hour, seven days a week hotline where pothole complaints can be filed.

2. New York City DOT Pothole Repair—This site provides an online form where you can report the location of the irritating cavity, as well as the date of detection.

3. Pothole Accident Attorneys—Pedestrians too, can fall victim of potholes. Although the city is not responsible for accidents caused by potholes on sidewalks and crosswalks, there are two exceptions. If you have a case, these lawyers will make sure the city is held accountable.

4. I-Phone App—New York City 311 hopes it will facilitate the pothole reporting process.

5. Eyewitness News Pothole Patrol—ABC wants viewers to share their pothole stories. If your story is good, it could appear on T.V.. Talk about the media bringing attention to citizens’ problems!

6. Mypotholes.com—If all else fails, perhaps your pothole could be featured in this creative photo project that thrives on pothole artistic transformation.

Bed bugs. Rats. Pigeons. Grown Men Dressed as Jedi?

October 3rd, 2010 by Daniel Prendergast

We’re all used to the typical kinds of pests New York has to offer, but for the next two weekends, Midtown Manhattan will be crawling with a different variety as fanboys of all ages (mostly older) flock to two competing comic book conventions. The New York Comic Con and Big Apple Comic Con (one isn’t enough?) allows these usually reclusive outcasts to come together and celebrate geek culture while infuriating those with adult tastes. It’s a chance for the socially inept to congregate and share a weekend of awkward public interactions while pretending to battle with plastic light sabers. It also means the rest of us are forced to deal with their child-like delusions during their visit here; on the streets, on the subways; anywhere normal people go, a sweaty guy in a homemade Ironman costume will be lurking; waiting for people to ask him how he fashioned such an authentic looking utility belt.

It is not uncommon for many con goers to dress up as their favorite superhero.

Below is a list of the most annoying things about comic book conventions and the people who attend them:

1. Stupid Costumes

This is the obvious one. It’s well known that a substantial percentage of people who attend these things show up in some kind of garb that pays tribute to their favorite superhero, whether it be professional or homemade. Nevertheless, it’s embarrassing to witness a grown man engaging in such foolishness – especially when you know he spent months crafting his outfit.

2. Hero Worship

Few things are as sad as seeing an adult male fawning over another man who has done something of merit with his life. This goes for athletes, movie stars, comic book artists – whatever. Besides being homoerotic, it’s debasing. William Shatner doesn’t care how much Star Trek meant to you when you were a kid. He’s there to make money off your naiveté.

3. Nerd Fights

When you get a bunch of sci-fi fans in the same room dressed as rival characters, there are sure to be some slap fights. One fan in San Diego took things to the extreme when he stabbed another guy in the face with a pen during an argument. Although this guy sounds like a badass, he was led away in cuffs while wearing a Harry Potter shirt. Go figure.

4. Lame Guests

These things wouldn’t be so bad if they attracted better guests. While the convention in San Diego seems to be getting big names, the two here in New York are less than ideal. When one of your marquee names is Lee Majors, it makes you wonder why anyone would attend. Especially when you hear what some of these washed-up hacks charge for an autograph.

5. Treatment of Women

There have been quite a few claims of sexual harassment at these conventions. When a bunch of guys who have never had a date encounter women dressed in somewhat revealing costumes, bad things are bound to happen. They don’t know how to act around women and apparently they think groping and/or fondling is the way to win a woman’s heart. Come on, guys. What would Superman say if he saw you acting this way?

Watch this video for more info on comic conventions.

Three Marathon Training Pitfalls (and how to avoid them)

October 3rd, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

Runners at the finish of the 2009 New York City Marathon

With the New York City marathon little more than a month away, more than 40,000 runners, the world’s largest field, are about to enter their final phase of training. These last few weeks are crucial to ensuring runners are primed when they toe the line on race day. To get their, however, runners face a slew of pesky challenges capable of derailing months of hard work.

I exchanged emails with several marathon coaches and asked them what the biggest pitfalls are and how runners can deal with them. (more…)

Surviving People Traffic in New York’s Subways

October 3rd, 2010 by Bianca Seidman
Times Square Subway

Rushing crowds at Times Square station by Bianca Seidman-Shvarts

With all the changes and consolidation going on in New York’s transit system, subways are more crowded than ever. Gone are the days of arriving at the next stop in a New York minute. In fact, with the level of overcrowding, just navigating through the masses in a subway car or station takes skill, practice and bit of courage.

Every step in subway boarding has its own diplomacy:  waiting for people to disembark, waiting to be pushed onto the subway car with huge amounts of people and knowing when to sit down (when it’s a long ride), stand up (when it’s a rush) and be near the door (as much as possible and 10 seconds before the stop).

But those aren’t the end of the people traffic challenges. Navigating the crowds in the station can be equally trying. Here’s a few tips for subway and station survival:

  1. Try to avoid the big hub stations—these stations have the most people heading in the biggest variety of directions and they are in a hair-on-fire hurry. If possible, don’t get out at Times Square, Columbus Circle, Union Square, Grand Central, Herald Square or Canal Street. Consider the local stops, which might even be closer to the destination.
  2. Learn to spot openings—a few quick steps down the platform can save minutes entering the subway car when people are lined up in front. The last car might seem far, but it can save lots of loading and unloading time.
  3. Time it just right—know how long the trip takes and build in an extra 10 minutes for people-dodging, late trains and doors closing a second too soon.
  4. Pace the crowd-crossing—a walk-trot-dodge pattern is essential to getting through a fast-moving station crowd without getting run over. Spot slight dips in the people traffic flow and walk faster, but keep an eye out for the next wave, which is just seconds behind. Trying to run the whole length against traffic will be sure to result in a collision, it’s better to dodge and weave like Frogger.
  5. Balance etiquette with efficiency—if someone is busy texting, it’s fine to move past them, but don’t push Granny into the gap if she’s overwhelmed by the crowd.

For visitors and new New Yorkers,  there’s general Subway info and etiquette at

City Pests of the Fourth Kind

October 1st, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

For most New Yorkers, dealing with pests is an almost daily occurrence. The city’s 311 call center has been hit with so many bed bug complaints that the bed bugs eventually made an appearance there! But unfortunately, there are certain kinds of pests that you can’t get rid of with a little bit of Raid. More specifically, the MTA and its planned-but-somehow-missable service changes are a different kind of city pest altogether.

Picture this: You get up early one weekend and run through your daily routine, catching the train in order to make a doctor’s appointment in the next 30 minutes. You sit down in your seat and distractedly open up your kindle, or power up your i-pod for the next few moments… until, with a horror, it slowly dawns on you: Why is the train stopping at Essex instead of Broadway-Lafayette? Whereupon the mad dash to get off on the next stop and get to the correct train line ensues. Sound familiar to anyone?

Perhaps this is why the MTA decided to give their service change notice signs a makeover. The endless stream of complaints about the confusing posters have resulted in the debut of a completely new design, which the MTA hopes is an improvement from the old posters. The new service change signs include transit information about the train concerned as well as its connecting lines, making changing trains a little clearer to straphangers. Although our blogging buddies at 2nd Ave. Sagas are happier with the new signs, other ideas on the notorious MTA posters have been pitched in the past.

In a more humorous attempt to display the frustrations of working New Yorkers towards the MTA, the Working Families Party created satirical “service change” posters that graced subway stations around the city in March. Although city transit officials didn’t see the humor in these posters, 77% of readers who took a NYDailyNews poll did. Ironically, this was not the only time that MTA poster designs were used as a means to advance satirical messages.

In April, graphic designer Jason Shelowitz, 30, chose to use the MTA-style service change posters to send out messages to a different kind of pest: New Yorkers themselves. Hopefully between the new service change posters and the etiquette slap on the wrist, we can all be polite to each other while we ride the subway, even if we end up going to Flushing when we meant to go to Red Hook.

First published: September 12, 2010