Archive for the ‘Personal Services’ Category

LaidOffCamp NY: tonight and tomorrow

Laid off? Like free events? Want to network with other people in a similar situation? LaidOffCamp may be for you. A free event happening tonight and tomorrow, LaidOffCamp is for people who want to network with others and look for new opportunities in a different setting than that of traditional job fairs. This isn’t just for the unemployed – it’s really for anyone who wants to look into what’s next for them, whether it’s a new job in the same field, collaborating with like-minded individuals on a new venture, or going back to school to reinvent their careers.

Tonight there will be a panel discussion and reception, and tomorrow there will be sessions on all sorts of topics, from job searching and negotiations to freelancing, personal health, and community involvement. It’s more of an “unconference” than a traditional conference – lots of brainstorming, group discussions, networking, etc. It’s based on the BarCamp model of user-generated conferences, with content provided by participants. It’s free and you don’t have to be laid off or even unemployed to attend.

Tonight’s event starts at 4:30 (hurry!) and goes until 7:30 and is at New World Stages, 340 W. 50th Street. Tomorrow’s event starts at 8 with sessions from 9:30-5 and is at Pace University’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts. More info at the LaidOffCamp Wiki.

Red Tape Surprise

Photo from

I needed to get a new social security card. That sadly meant that I needed to go to the Social Security Card Center. I discovered after several phone calls and trips to the official website that, while practically the rest of the country can just mail in their application or show up at their local office (mine is a mere 2 subway stops away), New Yorkers are required to go to a “Social Security Card Center”. There’s two of these in the city – one in Jamaica and one in Brooklyn.

Despite the fact that I live in Queens, the Brooklyn Card Center is considerably closer to me (and more accessible by subway). So I informed my employer that I might be late to work today (expecting the wait to be about 3 hours), filled out all paperwork ahead of time, brought a book, and headed down to Brooklyn. I imagined some sort of bureaucratic hell awaiting me with sour-faced employees, winding lines, and paper mounds like something out of the movie Brazil.


DOH suspends oral HIV testing due to false positives

Last week, the Department of Health announced that they would suspend use of the saliva (oral swab) rapid test for HIV in their clinics due to an unusually high number of false positives in the past several months. All rapid test results in their clinics that come back positive require a second, more thorough blood test to confirm. Though the false positive rate was still below the FDA threshold for false positives, NYC decided to suspend the use of the oral swab until they can determine the cause of the higher rate of false positives.

Even so, testing is still anonymous, safe, and free, and just requires a simple finger-prick test at any of the NYC Department of Health clinics. You can also get confidential testing at Gay Men’s Health Crisis or a number of other providers around the city. (Anonymous means that your name is never given to the testing facility and you are assigned a random number; confidential means that your test results will only be disclosed to the state Department of Health and will not be disclosed to anyone else, including employers and insurance companies.) In all cases, HIV testing is quick, easy, and free in NYC.

Tattoos for everyone!

tattooingIf you happen to be in midtown this weekend and see some art walking down the street, don’t be alarmed! The art is in the form of tattoos, and the wearers are probably in town to attend the NYC Tattoo Convention at the Roseland Ballroom. This is approximately the one millionth year that the NYC convention has been at Roseland, and it’s always a good time, even if you just go there for people-watching. Lots of amazing artists, both local and from all over the world, come to this convention, some of whom you’d have to travel a very long way to see otherwise. Some of my favorites include New York Adorned‘s Chris O’Donnell (just around the corner in Brooklyn) and Dan DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo (usually very far away in Li├Ęge, Belgium). There are also plenty of piercers on hand if you want to acquire a new hole or some new jewelry for an existing one, and several companies selling tattoo-themed wares such as Lucky Girl Handbags. I’ll be heading over to the convention sometime this weekend, probably hovering somewhere near the Lucky Girl booth trying not to drool on their handbags. (What? They’re very nice.)

The NYC Tattoo Convention is this Friday, May 16 through Sunday, May 18th at Roseland Ballroom on 52nd Street, just west of Broadway. Hours and ticket info are on their website. See you there!

Tailor made

So this whole wedding thing is kind of funny. I’ve got most of my planning done and now we have to focus on a few little things like finishing our vows (we’re writing them ourselves) and putting together little gift bags for our out-of-town guests. One thing I have left to do is to find a tailor to take my dress in a little. It’s a bit big all around, and just needs simple tailoring along the seams – but I don’t have the faintest idea who to take it to. I don’t have a tailor here that I go to and neither do any of my friends, and I don’t want to take it to a bridal shop because a) it’s not a traditional wedding dress, but an evening gown, b) bridal shops are kinda awful and c) they charge a lot and take way too long, and I need this done in less than 3 weeks.

I found a list of the best neighborhood tailors on the NY Magazine site, and I’m thinking of going to the one closest to me – but what I really want is personal recommendations. That’s where you, our fine readers, come in!

So, if you have a tailor that you like, or you or your friends have used a good one in the city, please recommend them in the comments. I’d prefer one on the east side of Manhattan below 42nd Street, but anywhere that’s easy to get to by subway is fine. So recommend away!

A floral oasis in Chelsea

Utowa flowersMy fiance and I lucked out in our wedding planning. We managed to get everything set up within a few weeks. Venue, catering, photographer, invites – all done. The one thing we didn’t do right away was deal with a florist. I’m not much of a girly-girl and flowers weren’t really a priority for me, and I kept hearing that NYC florists were ridiculously expensive and had insane minimums that were way over our budget. After checking reviews on Yelp, though, I found one that sounded promising, and we decided to stop by.

Utowa is a busy flower and clothing shop in Chelsea on west 18th Street. When we walked in, we stepped into something out of a fantasy film- big branches winding overhead, with bunches of colorful flowers flowing around them. The staff was very friendly and helpful. We spoke with one of their flower designers, Katsuya, who told us he liked to do dark arrangements with lots of organic elements (like branches) in them, which is exactly what we were looking for. We also looked through their sample/portfolio book, which has examples of the organic-style arrangements along with more traditional ones. All were lovely. We told Katsuya our budget (small by NYC standards) and he didn’t miss a beat in assuring us that he could do our 15 table centerpieces and gigantic room centerpiece within our budget. Hooray!

Besides gorgeous flowers, they also have vases and other home decor items, jewelry, and clothing. It really is like a pleasant, fragrant oasis from the bustling street outside.

Utowa is located at 17 West 18th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

image from Utowa’s website

FreshDirect Goes Green After 3 Years

A while ago I had written about Freshdirect and their not-so-green policies.

Therefore I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from them stating

Going green. By early next year, 100% of our delivery fleet will use clean, renewable biodiesel, cutting emissions and our use of fossil fuels. Our boxes are currently made of 100% recycled material, and within the next 3 years, we’ll eliminate nearly all of our cardboard boxes, replacing them with recyclable totes and bags.

All I can say is, better late than never.

Shame on you ladies… why give in to Gravity?!?

Something about a woman in a bad bra just makes me cringe.

While waiting for the express train downtown, I counted 4 women – different shapes and sizes – wearing the wrong bra. This isn’t a recent discovery, but I just happened to notice it more today.

Fact is, you’re clothes really WILL look better if you have the right bra on, you’ll get rid of that nasty back bra bulge, and never mind how it can help fight gravity. We all know that gravity is NOT our friend and wearing the wrong bra doesn’t help fight gravity since you’re bouncing out of control. Why do I know all of this? In a past life of mine, I spent 6 years working in a Lingerie Department.

I don’t care what size you are, there’s a bra for you. Unless of course you’re larger than a LL, then I can see how you’ll have problems, but even those of you that think you’re on the small side run the risk of sagging too.

Let me ask you this. Do you know your size? No? Well don’t guess, go get sized. Any department store has someone that knows how to size you and then there’s always Orchard Corset Center, Bra Smyth, Town Shop and Intimacy. They all claim to be experts. I’ve never actually been to any of them, but I’ve heard pretty good things. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Victoria’s Secret is NOT the place to go for bras.

C’mon! We walk and run around this town way too much to do this wrong and I don’t want to hear the “I need to feel sexy” excuse. There are well made bras that are sexy. Besides, how sexy is it when you remove that “sexy” bra and your boobs fall to your knees.

Have I made my point?

Deciding to cheat… on your stylist.

After 11 years, I cheated on my stylist. Do I feel good about it? Yes and no.

We all know how hard it is. You build a relationship, they know your hair, when they style it you feel like a million bucks and most importantly, you trust them with your tresses.

I have to say that I do LOVE my stylist. I really do. So much so, that I volunteer my after work hours helping with his environmentalist efforts. I’ve even sent countless people his way over the years. Most of them are still clients and some even travel from other states to see him. He really is that good – and coming from me, that is quite a statement.

Why would I leave something good and risk a relationship (and a good haircut) on someone new? We all know that the grass usually ISN’T better on the other side, BUT, sometimes “good” isn’t good enough. After 11 years, the “experience” changed. It was still fun, but I felt like more of a friend and less of a client – which can be a good thing, but since I’m paying I still want the experience. I also have been looking for hair options over the last few years – and not just bangs. This time of year, women like me want to spend less time styling, so I thought it was time to embrace my curls. He never gave me that option – or maybe he did and just decided not to ever style it for me that way. Then of course, timing is always a factor. I wanted a change – NOW. I hadn’t had a haircut since September and I really couldn’t wait another day – and I certainly couldn’t wait until he comes back from his wedding/honeymoon.

When a towncar just won’t do…

copter_plus.jpgWe’ve all been there… You’re running late for a flight, and you get stuck in gridlock, or in the Midtown tunnel on your way to the airport. You’re sweaty and angry, and you’re willing to pay almost anything for a less stressful solution! Now, there is…

I just got an email from Delta with lots of information on a new partnership they have with US Helicopter. You can now take a comfortable-looking Sikorsky S76 from either Midtown East or Downtown to JFK or Newark airports (I refuse to call it “Liberty.”) The flight seems incredibly short and hassle-free!

Starting at $159**/one-way when booked at, the eight-minute flight will spare you the 60- to 90-minute commute to JFK.

I took a look at the site, and weekday flights are in fact as low as $159. It is a lot of money, but I can say that when I travel for business, I take a car service and that can be up to $75, so the idea of doubling the price for an 8-minute trip does not seem that bad! In some cases, I would be willing to pay the difference myself to avoid the horrors of the commute.

One other huge benefit… Because USH screens passengers at the Heliport according to TSA standards, once you arrive at the airport, you can go directly to your gate without going through the often horrid security screening process!

If I have a flight at an off-hour, there is obviously no reason for this. But, if I have a flight on the Friday before X-mas at 7pm, I will definitely consider using this service!

Would you ever try this out?

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