Burning Gas and Exploding Buildings in East Harlem

Smoke and Fire Coming From an Access Hole at 137 and Hamilton in Manhattan.

Yesterday, two buildings exploded in East Harlem because of a buildup of natural gas. I’m sure everyone is going to be trying their hardest to shift the blame onto someone else. Whoever winds up on the receiving end of that lawsuit is going to have a really bad day.

I feel bad for the families and friends of those who died and were badly injured in that explosion. I hope it doesn’t happen again, but I heard on NPR that the gas main by the building was installed in the 1880s and that’s not unique or unusual for this city. It’s like we’re sitting on a bomb that could go off at any moment as the infrastructure ages and fails.

Smoke and Fire Coming From an Access Hole at 137 and Hamilton in Manhattan.
Smoke and Fire Coming From an Access Hole at 137 and Hamilton in Manhattan.

When I was leaving City College yesterday evening, I saw smoke and fire coming out of an access hole in the road. The area was cordoned off with yellow tape and there were dozens of firemen and two trucks nearby.

I stopped to watch for a while and took a short video. I can’t help but think it is somehow related to the buildings exploding across town, though I could be wrong. But, if those buildings exploded and burned then maybe the gas in the line caught fire also? The woman standing next to me was telling me that the lights in the school building there, P.S. 192, were flickering, so this fire was damaging the power lines as well.

Everything looked normal when I walked by today, though. I just hope the city does something to address the issue of aging gas pipes and starts taking complaints about smelling gas more seriously after this.

My Own Personal Pit of Destruction

A few days ago I posted an update talking about hauling useless crap out of my in-law’s house and burning it.  Just to go into some details, that useless crap includes things like broken hangers, rotting wood, shredded electrical wire (that’s likely to burn the house down if used), random plastic caps and knobs and broken light switches, molded paper, completed crossword books, old newspapers, 3 year old grocery receipts, random pages of magazines, broken umbrellas, molded clothing that’s literally rotting, and other unpleasant ‘treasures’.

The trash pick-up here is only once a week, but with the amount of crap I’m hauling out, in addition to regular daily household wastes, I had to get creative.  That’s why burning it is the best option.  It also prevents animals and scraggly children from tearing open the bags to see what’s inside and leaving a pile of trash in front of your house that has to be bagged up again.

The lot next door is unoccupied, so it’s front ‘lawn’ makes a great place to build a fire.  Here’s the fire pit as it stands now:



It’s a bit messy.  I have to get out there with a rake and a shovel to dispose of the remains but I haven’t had time to yet.

It feels great to get rid of all of that crap.  The house is gradually getting cleaner and livable.  It’s a big place and it’s a waste if it stays the way it is, not to mention it’s unhealthy for everyone that lives here, so I’m staying motivated to get the job done.

Tomorrow I think I’ll finally finish cleaning out the back of the house.  We bought a washing machine 11 days ago but haven’t been able to install it because there was too much scrap wood and metal in the way.  It’s a good thing too, because I’m almost out of clean underwear.

Bizarre Ritual With Snake and Incense

My wife and I were walking down the street in Pasir Ris, intent on exploring the area.  We spent most of last weekend moving our stuff, so there wasn’t much time to do anything special.

As we walked by these two guys, I heard a snapping sound, so I stopped to take a look at what was going on.  One of the guys was holding what looked to be a preserved cobra that had been turned into some sort of whip, with the head and hood and skin intact.  He would hold the snake over his head, as seen in the top picture, and then he would snap it out, to make the crack noise.  I also noticed that there was incense burning.

I imagine this is some sort of religious or remembrance ceremony, but it’s definitely one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen during my stay in Singapore.  Perhaps someone can shed some light on exactly what’s going on here?  I didn’t want to disturb them, as it might have been improper and rude.