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NYC Blackout: 5 years ago

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the famous (and last) blackout of 2003. We were at work and trudged back on foot from Cooper Square to Clinton Hill in Brooklyn.

Things have not changed too much since the last blackout. Bush is still in power and energy policies are next to non-existant. Hopefully 2009 will bring about the much needed change.

Donate to a Progressive Candidate — see Pearl Jam Concert

You can get a ticket to see Pearl Jam on June 24 or 25 at Madison Square Garden, while supporting a progressive candidate for US Senate. Steve Novick is a liberal progressive candidate for Congress from Oregon. He is being endorsed by a group of musicians, including Stone Gossard, guitarist for Pearl Jam. Other musicians in support of Novick are Rufus Wainwright, Michael Stipe of REM, and Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie.

Some of the issues that Steve Novick has taken strong stands on are the environment, marriage equality, and net neutrality. A donation of $250, $400. or $700, will get you a ticket to the Pearl Jam concert. Donations must be paid through the Novick for US Senate site.

Still Crazy After all these Years

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Today marked a rather grim anniversary: 5 years of the Iraq war. I attended a candle-lit vigil hosted by MoveOn in Madison Square Park. At first, only a humble number gathered to show their support for the anti-war cause. But then the group grew to a sizeable crowd, despite the stormy weather.

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I spoke to one representative from MoveOn, who passionately told me her reasons for being against the war. She pointed out that America had now been engaged in the Iraq war for longer than World War II, certainly a disturbing thought. Another MoveOn representative carried a rather emotional sign, stating “I want my brother out of Iraq.” She gave a heartfelt speech which described the horrific conditions that soldiers are forced to endure in Iraq, including inadequate equipment, poor medical supplies, and low quality food and water. She said that she’d even had to buy her brother a gas mask. She called out to the crowd that if you support our troops, you are against the war – a statement met with cheers and applause.

The protest continued with volunteers from the crowd reading stories submitted to MoveOn about personal experiences with the Iraq war from soldiers and their loved ones. The message through these tales was clear – bring troops home to their loved ones and give them the care that they need. Many of these emotional excerpts stressed how money spent on the Iraq war should be spent on domestic education, health care, and care for veterans. The protest ended with people singing “Stop the war” to the tune of Taps.

How is DST Treating You?

I don’t know how anyone else is feeling, but whose not-so-bright idea was it to change the clocks so early in the year? For me, it’s a little weird in early March to be on daylight savings time!  Last night I noticed my on-screen program guide from Time-Warner cable, was an hour off……it showed Sixty Minutes starting at 8, Extreme Makeover:Home Edition ay 9,  so on…..  By this morning, the TWC glitch was fixed but not my body-clock glitch!  I still feel it weird that it is light at 6.  But yesterday I noticed that Starbucks was empty at 1pm, when it is usually full.  Does anyone else feel so out-of-kilter? 

Mack on Some Cupcakes

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Photo from commons.wikimedia.org

I sadly need to avoid most dessert establishments due to my nut allergy. I can’t have any food that might contain any cross-contamination with nuts, and tragically chocolate usually falls into this category.

So I had never visited Magnolia Bakery. I just thought it would only make me sad to see all the delicious cupcakes and then find out that they “may contain traces of nuts”. Then my fiancé went to the Magnolia in the Upper West Side and asked them about this nutty problem. The woman behind the counter knew all about nut allergies and explained in detail how they made nut-free cupcakes with no cross-contamination whatsoever, making it clear that she understood the severity of this problem and that Magnolia took a lot of care to make sure no anaphylactic shock occurred.

When my wonderful fiancé came home from work with a box full of cupcakes with all the bomb frostings and told me about their careful arrangements to avoid cross-contamination, I happily decided to mack on those cupcakes. I’m actually thinking I might need some more soon…

West Village Hot Spot

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Photo from Wikipages.com

After finding a 30 minute wait at Good for brunch, I walked down 7th Ave to pick one of the other many brunch spots in the area. I came across a small place called Doma Cafe and Gallery. I looked at the cheap prices listed on the posted menu and entered to find a cute, but crowded establishment which was a bit toasty inside. I sat down for a few minutes before realizing that customers ordered at the counter. After ordering some organic eggs and a croissant, I sat back down and the heat started to bother me. I was sweating by the time the food came. It was delicious, but I’d think twice before going back to that hot spot.

Weather– It’s All Relative, I Guess….

Well, if you look out the window today in NYC, you could say “yuch..” as you look out at the pouring rain, and picture a very messy, muddy, wet commute. If you’re a seasoned NYer like me, you would say “Not bad for February 1. This precipitation could be snow”, and imagine if it were snow instead of rain. Because if it were snow, we would be digging ourselves out for days.

But listen to this refreshing perspective I got from someone yesterday. She is a relocated native of Seattle, who said that she wanted to go to college in NYC because Seattle is so rainy and dreary nine months out of the year. “I knew it would be cold in New York, but at least it’s sunny”, she said. “Nothing like sunny New York”, I jokingly replied But, sarcasm aside, it was interesting to hear that sentiment from the other side, where the grass is greener, although wetter. They say that there is good reason why Seattle is the home of computing [stuck inside most of the year], grunge [depressing music and depressing dressing], and Starbucks [escape from the rain]. I am sure, however, that my friend felt right at home when she awoke to Seattle-like weather this morning. And I am in Seattle mode myself–on my computer, sipping hot tea, and dressed in my finest grunge.

Subway Inn

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A venerable old drinking establishment – the Subway Inn, has been around since at least World War II , perhaps longer. The drinks go for about $ 4 – a far cry from $18 + in establishments a few blocks further uptown. The clientele is an interesting mix. The bar seems to be open i every legal hour of the day and is conveniently located at the 60th and Lexington Number 6 Uptown entrance.

Agave Dining

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Photo from Wikipages.com

I met up with some friends at Agave in the West Village for dinner. We had reserved a table through opentable.com (which I adore), and were seated in the cavernous back room. The sheer size of the place, not common in the area, really amazed us. Like Mojave, its sister restaurant in Astoria, Agave’s decor reflects its Southwestern cuisine.

My friends and I hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we basically chatted non-stop from the time we sat down, until the waiter came around to take our order. So we needed more time. Finally, we ordered a pitcher of sangria for the table and I ordered a Grilled Shrimp taco for myself. The sangria was very tasty, as was my shrimp. When it came time to order dessert, we again were having too much fun talking to make a hasty decision. At this point, the waiter rather rudely pointed out that there was a reservation for 5 that needed to be seated and we should make our selection. I felt that was in poor taste, and we were all a little annoyed at that comment.

I left the place thinking that the atmosphere and menu were great, but the service was a little cold. Of course, it could have just been that waiter.

Breaking Frick’s Second Law

In science we understand that diffusion applies itself to particles of gas. If you introduce a few particles of a gas into a space it will, in time, pretty evenly distribute itself to “fill” the space. This law seemingly applies to human behavior as well, you observe it every day on elevators. A single person in an elevator is free to move around and do as he wishes, but when you introduce another “particle” they evenly distribute. More particles, more shifting, until the space is full, but in the end of the “particles” have roughly an equal amount of space between them. Diffusion at work.

But right here in New York City we have access to another dimension, another space where the laws of physics work differently and particles behave in a manner that we would consider bizarre. I call it: Subwayspace! Imagine this… somewhere in Subwayspace door opens, particles flow into the space. The door closes. In our universe we would expect these particles to diffuse, but in Subwayspace the particles stop their motion once the cross the threshold! How strange! Particles in Subwayspace would seem to prefer to be bunched in masses in one area of the rather than diffusing into free space mere inches away. Only three circumstances will cause particles in Subwayspace to diffuse. First is the introduction of more particles. When bumped and pushed a particle can be jostled into an open area, but sometimes it takes a massive force for this to happen. The simplest way to move a particle in Subwayspace is to introduce an attractor. A positively charged area like an Empty Seat will attract particles to it, thinning the concentration in other areas. Of course the opposite can also occur when you introduce a negatively charged particle such as a Stinky Homeless particle. In that case our standard particles may be further concentrated and pushed into a single area of concentration.

Why would particles act this way you ask? Why would they clump into large masses that may be uncomfortable for them? Why are the laws of Physics different in this strange otherworldly dimension, and in what other ways are they different? Why do particles from our won, highly ordered universe act so differently when in injected into Subwayspace? Science doesn’t currently have the answers to these questions, but let us all hope, for the sake of future generations that they someday will!

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