Posts Tagged With: New York

Dogs (Or: New York Oktoberfest

In October I went with my coworker to the New York Oktoberfest in Bear Mountain. Lots of fun was had, and lots of beer was drunk.

But one thing that was very surprising was the amount of dogs that were at this event. Easily dozens – from very small breeds to very large breeds. (And sadly one small breed that was veryyy overweight.)

Here were a few dog pictures that my coworker took:

tired dog at New York Oktoberfest

Possibly my favorite dog that I saw that day. The poor thing was so tired. Its owner was waiting in line for a beer refill. Every minute or so the line would advance, and the owner would tug on its leash to get the dog to move. It eventually would move the required few feet – and then plop down again tiredly after. Repeat a dozen times.

dog at New York Oktoberfest

For this picture, I liked the dog framed against the human walking past in a blur. I actually saved it from the delete button on her camera, I liked it that much. ūüôā

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Friends (Or: Dinner at Bailey’s)

Tonight I had dinner with a friend at Bailey’s Smokehouse in Blauvelt, NY. Kind of crazy to realize it might be the last dinner I have with this friend – at least for the¬†foreseeable¬†future. It’s hard to wrap my mind around such things.

It looks like the restaurant finally finished redesigning their homepage – for their longest time the only thing there was the menu.¬†This time I had the french dip again (description “Thin Sliced Smoked Ribeye on toasted Garlic Bread with Mozzarella Cheese & Au Jus for dipping”). It was pretty good. This time I decided to ask for it without mozzarella cheese, though. I like to be random, I guess!

Of course, I got Marco hooked on the place when he was here last month (almost two months ago!) so we will be going back while he and Roger are visiting. So it’s time to get Roger addicted… but it is probably the last time we will be there!

Marco’s favorite is the bourbon glazed carrots… apparently they are really good.

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Trains, planes, buses (Or: Off to Chicago)

This morning I am heading off to Newark Airport to visit my parents and brother in the suburbs of Chicago. In terms of getting there, it seems (I hope) that luck is on my side.

After the damage that Hurricane Sandy caused, most of NJTransit’s train lines were out of¬†commission. Slowly but surely the lines have been returning, although the North Jersey Coast Line, Gladstone Branch, and Direct Morristown Lines are still suspended. Most of them will come back Monday.

My own line (Pascack Valley Line) returned for weekday service only this past Monday, albeit without the option to transfer at Secaucus Junction. Most commuters transfer there to get into the city. Amtrak had to repair the substation before allowing a higher number of trains into the city, so that was how they artificially restricted flow – only a few lines can get into the city directly without needing to take a ferry or bus at Hoboken instead.

As I needed to be able to transfer at Secaucus Junction to get to the airport (and also needed weekend service!) I was out of luck for that option. I decided to take a 5:29am bus to the city, arriving at 7:03. Take the 7:15 or 7:30 bus to Newark Airport, and arrive around 8am ish.

But I saw on the NJTransit website Thursday afternoon that weekend service would be returning to the Pascack Valley Line (and other lines) this weekend. Trains would also be stopping at Secaucus Junction on the weekend.  And it lets me sleep in an hour later! I really was not looking forward to setting my alarm for 4:15am.

Just in time for Thanksgiving…

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Hurricane Sandy (Or: Returning to work)

As I have mentioned, my workplace (a college) has been closed due to Hurricane Sandy and a rather nasty power outage in that area.

A few days ago I received a text message from the college, stating that offices would re-open tomorrow (aka I go in) and classes would resume Wednesday. The Dean of Students said they would get in touch soon about how the missed time would be made up this semester.

Yesterday I received an additional text that power had been restored and that the email server was back up. I must admit it was quite a weird feeling to be glad to get back into my email again — to get back into the routine again. One email was from a student looking to re-book their room reservation for downstairs, as it had been originally scheduled for Monday, October 29.

Another email stated that a group of staff and students from the college are currently down in Tom’s River, NJ helping out today. Donation boxes would be placed across our residence halls to help out with the effort in that town.

And then Wednesday the students return, so I finally get to bring in the Halloween candy I bought about two weeks ago!

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Hurricane Sandy (Or: Updates of a more local variety)

So yesterday (Friday) I received a text message that my workplace (a college) was now closed until Tuesday, when offices would reopen. The dorms would reopen Tuesday night and classes would resume Wednesday. Hard to believe the interviewing process for my position begins late next week…

Yesterday I went to the public library for the first time to donate some books that I did not have space for in my luggage, and back to Shoprite for a second time. Here was the sign outside of the public library:

The nice thing about libraries is they tend to be a place of relief during a disaster, at the time when they are needed the most. Last year during the freak October snowstorm, I lost power for about 4 days. That Sunday I first went to the deli to get a hot meal and then proceeded to the library to get my cell phone and netbook charged, and check my email. By the 3rd day the temperature in my unheated apartment was somewhere around 55F (13c), so any chance to get warm was just fine by me.

But this time… when I ended the library it just seemed¬†twice as crowded, if such a thing were possible. Every single seat was taken. As the sign above stated, they had free wifi, heat, and children’s activities in the Community Room running all day. This has been going on since Wednesday and I suspect it will keep going for a while longer yet.

I suspect a lot of people drove up from New Jersey, though some places in Pearl River still do not have power. The seats you see above are rarely used as they do not have tables and are rather close to the front door.

Every seat was used today, four days after the hurricane had left.

Another interesting thing was the power outlets. Obviously, every outlet was taken. But this time (unlike last year) I saw a lot more surge protectors plugged into the wall (offering more outlets), showing how many more people needed to charge up. They were everywhere.

After this little adventure in the library, I continued on to Shoprite for another brief stop. I showed pictures of the local gas station yesterday, but unfortunately they have since run out of gas.

The gas shortage is a pressing problem in much of the tri-state area, as two oil refineries in the area were shut down due to the hurricane and many people have begun to panic and fill up their tank as much as possible. You also have the long lines of people (in their car or on foot) who are looking to fill up cans of gas for their generator.

One thing that will slowly begin to help with the fuel shortage is the waiver of the Jones Act. This waiver will allow foreign tankers in the Gulf of Mexico to begin transporting fuel to the Northeast. Normally only US ships can transport goods between US ports, in an effort to support domestic ships and maritime activity. The US will also be tapping the Northeast Heating Reserve for about 48,000 barrels of diesel for its emergency response vehicles, and the US also requested that the Defense Logistics Agency buy up to 12 million unleaded gallons and up to 10 million gallons of diesel.

Once I got into Shoprite, I was greeted by the welcome sight of them beginning to replenish the perishable sections of the store – produce and cheeses were fully stocked. They were currently working on the freezer section when I went in:

It’s hard to see, but there were about 5 people helping in that aisle.

I was able to grab a few items after confirming that they were for sale/safe to buy, including microwavable mashed potatoes, a box of microwavable soft pretzels, and a single serving of a frozen pizza. (As I do not have a stove, but only a microwave and George Foreman grill, my eating habits tend to skew more towards frozen than fresh.)

Finally, the public library’s website linked to some information from the local authorities¬†in Orangetown (the overall name of the area I live in), including the fact that the town hall was open with free heat and wifi, and that Rockland County had been added to the “major disaster declaration”. This allows individuals to file a claim with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Orangetown also had a very helpful emergency information PDF, including information from the power companies, NY officials, and local officials. There is even a section on¬†Election Day voting (this coming Tuesday!) and how a few election places might be moved due to lack of power, but not many.

Latest estimates closer to NYC were that over 100,000 homes in the Long Island or Rockaways area were severely damaged or destroyed – so we might be seeing more of those FEMA trailers that we saw after Hurricane Katrina.

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Shoprite (Or: Grocery shopping after a hurricane)

On Wednesday I went to Shoprite for the first time after the hurricane. I knew it was open because I had passed by it on Tuesday and saw cars in the parking lot. However, I did check in advance just to see what information Shoprite had about store closures due to the hurricane. Looking at it again today, it is much, much shorter list – probably about an extra 45 or 50 stores were reopened since Wednesday.

The main reason I wanted to go was to see what food they had available for actual meals. I have plenty of snacks as I stocked up pretty well on the non-perishable items.

So, the first thing on noticed on the way to Shoprite was that the large tree in front of the church was very much dead. Unfortunately, this had been their crown jewel of Christmas decorations.

It was also a running joke from Marco that when you could use the Christmas tree as a guideline for where the end of the hill was when you had to walk up (I really do live on a steep hill).

The next obstacle was crossing the main four lane road which did not have a functioning stoplight. The main road had flashing yellow (slow down, be cautious) and my road had flashing red (stop, be cautious). After about 4 minutes I found an opportunity to jog across.

In the downtown area, I was stopped by a gentleman and his older father. They wanted to know where to find coffee – they drove to Pearl River because they knew this town mostly had power.

When I got close to Shoprite, there was a major traffic snarl (well, major for a small-ish town, anyway). After a few moments I realized that was the line for the gas station. As we are so close to the New Jersey border (2 minute drive at most), most of those residents drove here for gas. On Wednesday morning, it was reported that up to 80% of NJ gas stations were unable to sell gas (either having run out or not having power at all). The picture below shows one line (with more cars behind the photo), but there is another entrance. In total I would say about 40 cars were waiting.

The intersection was also hampered by another non-functioning stoplight (flashing red for street the cars were waiting on and flashing yellow for the main road). Took another 4 or 5 minutes to cross, as I had to cross two sides to get to Shoprite.

Within Shoprite itself, the first thing I noticed was the BRIGHT yellow sign on the front door that they did not have any more ice (somehow, people still missed it – the guy in front of me asked if they did).

All of the produce that needs to be kept cool was covered and not for sale. The same thing happened in the orange juice and milk aisle (below).

All of the frozen food was off limits, as they had not yet had time to remove the old stuff and get new shipments in. I heard that this Shoprite was running on generator power, so it was quite likely that they lost power for too long at the height of the storm.

Some of workers were removing some of the perishable items and throwing it into carts to take it away.

In the end, I walked away with two more cans of soup, freshly baked kaiser rolls, and freshly packaged meat. It was very clear what meat items were off limits (covered by plastic or yellow signs put on the doors into the coolers) and what items were available. Basically anything that was packaged in-house was available. I will probably go back tomorrow and pick up some fresh hamburger meat.

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Pearl River fatality from Hurricane Sandy…

What the hell. One of the 16 or so confirmed U.S. deaths was in my little town of Pearl River, NY. I live in the lower Hudson Valley area in Rockland County. A tree fell on a family’s house on the other side of town (edit: the name of the man who died was Jeffrey Chanin).


image and story:

That’s not good. ūüė¶¬†My sympathies go out to his family. I heard fire engines and ambulances mobilizing around that time (6pm last night), but I didn’t think it would be that bad.

I learned of this from Marco, actually – he might live across the ocean, but he knows how to find the local news sites.

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Power (Or: The start of blackness)

(Let’s do a double post…)

So, about 10 minutes ago my power flickered for the first time, but did not go off completely. It flickered again a few minutes later. But for now, I do have power… At least it was nice and waited to start flickering until about 2 minutes after I ended the videochat with Marco!

There really isn’t a lot of rain in these parts. Maybe 2 or 3 inches. We will also escape the worst of the wind (being in the lower Hudson Valley).

A lot of things are closed by now in NY and NJ. For example, the stock exchange, Holland tunnel, the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel. In terms of public transportation – all subway, buses, and trains. NJ Transit won’t be running today or tomorrow. The Port Authority is not running any public or private buses. Some of the bridges (such as the George Washington bridge) are scheduled to close in the next hour or two.

Some random news stories:

A crane has come loose and is dangling 75 stories above New York City in midtown. Evacuations have begun to happen – including the evacuation of a large hotel.

The HMS Bounty replica ship (shown in some movies, including “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” sinks off the coast of North Carolina. 14 of 16 crewman are rescued – 2 remain missing.

Rescues had to be done off Long Island’s Fire Island¬†(south of Long Island) – one of the first places to see a mandatory evacuation order. About 140 people stayed behind and ignored the orders to evacuate. Of those, 14 had to be rescued a few hours ago.

Now let’s hope the power cooperates and I don’t lose it. Hrm.

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Preparations (Or: On the day of Hurricane Sandy)

So… there’s a hurricane coming today. Hurricane Sandy. The news has been almost all-weather related for the last 36 or so hours. A civilian boater already had to do one rescue of a juvenile surfer out in Sea Bright, NJ. (His father actually drove him to the beach to surf!) I thought for sure that was going to be the first U.S. fatality.

I just received a text message about 15 seconds ago that my work (a college) was closed for the next two days. Problem is, I am “on call” and required to go in and open up the library – unless we are told to stay off the roads or the bus system doesn’t run. Hrm…¬†[Edited to add: I have since been told to stay home both days.]

Last year during Hurricane Irene I lost power for about 4 – 5 hours. Not bad. During the October snowstorm, however, I (and about 25% of my town) lost power for 4 days.

Here are some random pictures I took today:

Leaf-covered path. In this particular section, most of the leaves have fallen off the trees in the last few days. Which is a good thing in terms of trees coming down. But a lot of the trees are still full of leaves.

Window decorations in a local restaurant which flooded horribly during Hurricane Irene and was closed for almost 4 months. (The windows read “GO AWAY SANDY”.)

The creek which flooded the restaurant (on the left you can see the side of the restaurant). It floods pretty easily – Marco and I went to the mall once during a torrential downpour and it was almost to the top.

The Shoprite parking lot. Just take my word for it – it was pretty much full. It reminded me of shopping the day before Thanksgiving.

The water aisle in Shoprite. Yikes.

The managers of Shoprite were pretty smart – they removed most of the extra displays that normally clutter the area in front of the checkout lines. This helped to remove most of the congestion. What else helped – all checkout lines were open, and a worker was directing people to open aisles to keep the wait down.

This storm is 1000 miles wide. NYC has already ordered evacuations of “zone A” areas. All public NYC schools are closed.

But I live about 25-30 miles inland (roughly) and there’s not much risk of flooding in this part of town as I live on top of a somewhat steep hill. There are areas of my town which are prone to flooding, however.

I am pretty much prepared. The freezer only has ice cream and one hamburger patty left in it, pretty much. The fridge is similarly empty of perishable foods. I did get some rice and soup in case I don’t lose power (since I don’t have a stove, I am very limited in my food options otherwise). Other things I bought were crackers, chips, and granola bars.

Should be an interesting morning.

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Autumn (Or: View from my door)

It is that short time of the year where the color bursts forth from the trees. I opened my front door this morning to go to the deli and was greeted with this sight (without even needing to step outside!):

For this particular tree, it seems to be about a 3 or 4 day window between full color and when the leaves start falling – a short window of opportunity to take a picture. But I am glad I did!

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