First Snow for New York City (Winter 2011)… in October.

First Snow For New York City 2011
First Snow For New York City 2011

It’s looking like a mini-blizzard out there.  I didn’t expect to see this in October!  I do remember it being so cold we had to bundle up tight for Trick-or-Treating when I was a kid though, back in the 80s, and that was in Maryland.  Maybe this isn’t so unusual after all.  Maybe it’s more like things going back to the way they were before.  Regardless, it’s snowing, and it’s getting me in the Christmas spirit before we’ve even gotten past Halloween.

It’s not supposed to stick, thankfully.  I can do without piles of snow on the roads for a few more weeks at least.  I’m planning on moving to a new apartment and I have absolutely no experience driving in snow.  Hurricanes, yes.  Snow, no.

Finally, Spring is Coming

Students outside of CCNY enjoying the warm weather.

It was so warm outside today that jackets were optional.  It got up to 73F.  It felt great!  It even felt nice to sweat in the sun again.  It was such a nice change from the icy weather we’ve had up until today (except for that one weird day a few weeks ago) that I didn’t even want to go inside.  I wanted to stay out and enjoy the sun.

Trees blooming at CCNY.

Too bad it’s supposed to rain for the next few days.  The temperature is going to drop back down into the high 50s.  I’m looking forward to the weather warming back up and staying up.  It gives me one less excuse to not start running again.  I kinda wish I’d never stopped, because getting going again is always a pain.

Officially a Full Time Student Again For The First Time in Almost 12 Years (And more snow pictures)

A picture of Townsend Hall at CCNY.

A picture of Townsend Hall at CCNY, prior to all the snowstorms New York City has suffered through over the last month.

Everything went off without a hitch today, other than a lack of sleep due to anxiety.  I woke up at 5 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep, after going to bed at 1 AM.  I’m starting to feel that now, now that the excitement of the day is winding down.

Getting up to CCNY was surprisingly fast this morning.  I had expected there to be delays, due to leftover snow from the snowstorm.  Instead, I got there more quickly than usual, even though I walked two blocks to the nearest subway station to get a MetroCard.  The commute was only an hour, compared to the hour and 15 to 20 minutes it had been taking me before.  I imagine that was partly because I was traveling during the morning rush hour, so there were more trains and buses running.  I’ll allot more time when I head up there for class, just to make sure I have the commute time right.

In my last post I said that the only thing I really had to worry about was busting my ass on the hill going up to the school, and maybe I jinxed myself.  I didn’t completely fall, but I looked like a flailing idiot more than once, scrambling to catch my balance.  Someone I know told me once that Dr. Marten’s are great shoes for jobs where you have to do a lot of standing, but they really don’t have any traction in the snow.  She was completely right.  I need to get some proper snow boots, but it’s probably too late in the season to worry about it now.  I’ll just keep that in mind for next year.  I really need to take a photo of that hill too.

I wound up getting to the school at about 8:20 AM.  I went over to the Veteran’s Affairs office first, to let them know I was there and to ask where I should be going.  Unfortunately, I beat the VA counselors to work, and I stood around in the courtyard for a while scoping out the snow.  It was knee deep in places.

The area these photos are taken in is called the “squad”, or so I was told by a girl that worked in the Gateway Advisory office, which I visited a short while later.  I asked her why, but she didn’t know.  I’m guessing it’s a combination of ‘square’ and ‘quad’ that someone thought was cute, and it just sort of stuck.

After talking to the VA counselor, I got sent over to the Gateway Advisory office.  I showed up there at 10 minutes to 9 and then stood around waiting for that office to open.  When it finally did open, at 9, I found out the advisors didn’t come in and start advising until 9:30.  Not a problem!  I had my Kindle with me.  I’m reading an interesting historical fiction book by GA Henty called The Cat of Bubastes (link to free download on Amazon).  It’s a story about ancient Egypt that’s turning out better than I’d expected.

By about 10 we had discussed the courses still available and I chose the ones that most suit my major and didn’t duplicate something I’ve already taken at another college.  I’ll be taking Introduction to Anthropology, American Government and Politics, Introduction to the Visual Arts of the World, and World Humanities 1, a course about literature from the Greeks up to the 1500s.

What took up so much of my time was getting the financial part of things taken care of:  standing in line to get my bill, then walking back to the VA office for the VA deferral form, then back to the admissions office to stand in line to get the VA form verified, and then standing in line to get the zero balance verified so I could get my student ID is what took up most of my time, not because the walk was long, but because the lines were long.  I was surprised by how many people were there trying to pay their bills.  I had a low priority for registering for classes, and was only allowed to register on the last available day, because I’m taking classes as a non-matriculated student this semester.  I figured most people would’ve finished this all up by now.

Getting my student ID was an interesting experience, and oddly, my first thought was, ‘I wonder if I can use this to get discounts on stuff?’  While I was there, I saw one guy that looked like he was in his 50s getting a student ID, but most of the people there looked too young to even be in college.  Still, it was comforting to know I wasn’t the only ‘older’ person going back to school to get more education.

Anyhow, I’ve got a pretty good schedule.  Except for a 9:30 class on Fridays, all of my classes start in the afternoon.  That means I can still sleep in!  I’m looking forward to kicking things off next week!

Awesome Snow Pictures of Annoying Snow

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, I took some time to go out and see the snow.  First, I took some pictures from the balcony, and then I took a few photos while I was out in the street, on my way to Newport Centre Mall in New Jersey.  These photos were taken on the 26th, prior to the big snowstorm that night (last night).

A photo of the snow from our balcony.

A photo of the snow from our balcony.

These are photos I took from the balcony before leaving the house to head to New Jersey.

14th Street, between Avenues B and A, facing towards Avenue A.

This is a photo of the snow in the trees along 14th street between Avenues B and A, facing towards Avenue A.  As you can see, early yesterday afternoon, the snow wasn’t sticking to the street.  The snow on the ground wasn’t much more than what was there already.  The snow hasn’t ever completely melted since that big snowstorm in December.

This is a photo of some snow covered evergreen trees outside the Newport Pavonia PATH station in New Jersey.

Snow in the trees outside the Newport Pavonia PATH station in New Jersey.

I saw these trees just outside the Newport Pavonia PATH station in New Jersey, where you get off the train to walk to the Newport Centre Mall.  At the time, the snow was coming down in fat, wet flakes and it wasn’t really sticking to the ground at all, but it did give the trees a sort of Winter Wonderland feel that I thought was really nice.  By the time I got home from my shopping trip, the snow had stopped completely.

Later in the evening, the snow started coming down again, a lot heavier than before.  The news was saying that it was going to be a pretty bad storm, and it damn sure was.  At times, I could barely see the building across the street.  I’m still impressed by snowstorms, so I thought it was pretty cool, but I had a feeling it was going to make my day today a lot more annoying than it would have been otherwise.

You see, yesterday was supposed to be my last day of freedom, before going back to school full time.  I was supposed to head out to the school today to register for classes, and then start classes tomorrow, depending on my schedule.  Things didn’t turn out quite that way, because of the snow.

When I was going to bed, the news reports were predicting school closures today, and it had me on edge, because I’m really anxious to get my class registrations done.  I’ve been out of school for over a decade, so going to college full time is a pretty big deal for me.  Sure enough, when I got up, there was a message in red on my school’s homepage, saying that the school was closed.

For a while, I worried about how that would affect my registration, but I realized there wasn’t much I could do about it if the school was closed.  I figured I’d just deal with it as best I could, and rolled back into bed for a few more hours of sleep.  Maybe it’s a holdover from the time I spent in the military, which gave me a lot of exposure to institutional stupidity, but I don’t put a lot of trust in public institutions to make common sense decisions when things don’t go as planned.  I half expected the school to just tell me, tough luck, enroll next semester.  You see, I enrolled late because I was outside the US still when the deadline for normal registrations came and passed.  I also had a few issues with my direct admission since I went to high school in a different state, and I was given last priority to register for classes on the last day of registration.

My fear was thankfully unfounded.  Later this morning, the college updated the message on their website, saying registrations would be extended to compensate for the closure today, so now I’ll be heading up to the school tomorrow to take care of that and all I’ll have to worry about is slipping and busting my ass on the long slope heading up to CCNY from the train station.

NYC Sanitation Department, Killing Babies Is The Wrong Way To Protest Budget Cuts

The news this morning made me look at the video I posted previously in a whole new light.

Was this done intentionally, as part of the plan to botch the cleanup as a protest?

A lot of people were saying that the cleanup after this recent blizzard was botched.  It was slow, ineffective, and lots of people suffered for it, and now we know why:

Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.

“They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important,” said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens)…

Read more at: NYPost

Their labor issues are more important than what?  The lives and safety of New Yorkers?  I read quite a few stories where people were seriously injured, or where deaths occurred because emergency services couldn’t reach people in need.  One that stands out in my mind was a woman who gave birth in the lobby of a building.  Her baby died before EMS could reach her.

Her baby died to protest budget cuts.  Good job, sanitation department.  You’re real fucking heroes today.  Someone should be made liable to criminal charges for the deaths caused by the unplowed roads, since they’re direct results of a plan to botch the cleanup.

Trash piling up after the December 26th blizzard in New York City.

Want to hear another problem this is causing?  Well, since the sanitation department was intentionally slow with cleaning up the snow, they took longer to get back around to their main purpose: picking up the trash.  Now, I don’t imagine we’re going to see any outbreaks of diseases just because the trash wasn’t picked up for a day, but the trash is really piling up, and it’s everywhere.  Additionally, with the sanitation workers still dicking around with the snow, or what’s left of it now, the regular cleanup of streets and the city trash cans on the corners is behind as well.  It’s disgusting.  Most of 14th street looks like one big garbage can.

Trash piling up on 14th street after the December 26th blizzard in New York City.

This whole problem seems indicative of a massive lack of common sense to me.  Whoever planned to have this cleanup botched should at the least lose their job.  Seriously.  And whoever took part should receive demotions and pay cuts, exactly what they were protesting against.  I’m all for protesting, but not when it endangers peoples’ lives.

Winter 2010 Blizzard in New York City: Part 3

The roads are finally getting cleared.

Ok, this is the third day of snowy fun and activities and things are starting to die down.  Temperatures went back up above freezing today and the snow in the roads was already turning to slush.  That’s worse than snow, really, because you’re more likely to get wet from splashes when it’s really cold out.  Plus, it could refreeze at night into ice.

Slushy areas where people have to cross the street.

The slush also hides other things, things which could cause you to slip and/or hurt yourself.  You’d think more effort would be put into clearing pedestrian crossings.  This isn’t a back area.  This is at Union Square.

A bus stop that's blocked by snow.

A lot of the bus stops are still blocked by the snow that was plowed off the road.  In a few places paths had been shoveled through the snow by workers, but most still looked like this.  We had to stand in the road while waiting for the bus.  Passing vehicles greeted me with sprays of slush that splattered all over my pants and coat.  Damn!

Earlier today I heard a radio address by the mayor saying that they’re doing the best they can given the circumstances, but I get the impression that response efforts are disorganized and the workers weren’t trained very well.  Besides the snow plow driver that got her snow plow stuck in the snow yesterday, there were still 58 ambulances that were stuck around noon today.  Why were ambulances on roads that hadn’t been plowed yet?  Why weren’t they responding by foot from the nearest clear street?

Anyway, the roads aren’t the only thing being affected by the blizzard.  I know this was a coincidence, but our boiler broke the first day of the blizzard and because roads were impassable, it’s still being worked on now.  This whole no heat, no hot water thing is really annoying.  To cap things off, Time Warner Cable is having an outage that started early last night.  The problem is ongoing.  I suppose snow is hampering repair efforts.

I am no longer interested in the joy and beauty of snow.

Winter 2010 Blizzard in New York City: Part 2

Yesterday’s blizzard started innocently enough.  When I left church it was already snowing.  It was really cool.  It was real snow, unlike the flurries from a few weeks ago.  The blizzard went all night long and then into the morning.  When I got up, we still didn’t have heat or hot water.  I don’t think that’s going to get fixed until tomorrow because the roads are pretty jammed up with snow.  I was thinking about going up to Central Park today for the photo opportunity.  I figured Central Park would look nice under a blanket of snow.  After listening to the news though, I decided against it.  The transit system isn’t working properly either and I didn’t feel like getting stranded or having to walk all the way back home from Central Park, if I could even get up there.  I thought about going to Union Square but that was still too far away given the conditions, so instead I just went to the grocery store.  There was more than enough to see on the way there.

13th Street and Avenue B covered in snow.

The side streets were still covered in snow.  Some of the sidewalks had been cleared of snow, but not everywhere.  In some places, the snow had been packed down into chunks of ice by people who had walked over it.

Partially cleared sidewalks.

Yes, that is a delivery guy trying to ride his bike on an icy sidewalk.  I wonder if he managed to bust his ass?

People working to clear the sidewalks.

People were working to clear the sidewalks in front of their businesses on 14th street.

Chunks of ice that were scraped from the sidewalk.

These chunks of ice were scraped from the sidewalk.  It had been packed down into chunks like that by people who had walked over it before it was shoveled clear.

An NYPD cruiser that got stuck in the snow.

This NYPD cruiser was abandoned, stuck in the snow.  It wasn’t the only vehicle like that.

A partially cleared road.

The city really looks empty today, with most people not bothering to leave their homes.  You could actually walk around in the streets because there wasn’t any traffic to speak of, and what traffic there was couldn’t move faster than a crawl, when they weren’t getting stuck.

An abandoned taxi, left parked at an odd angle on the road becuase it was stuck in the snow.

Like the police cruiser, this taxi was left abandoned in the street, parked at an odd angle because it was stuck.  The front of the car is pointed out into the street.

An M14A bus, stuck in the snow on Avenue A.

The bus behind it was also stuck in the snow. It looked like it had slid off the beaten path and gotten hung up.

Another M14A being towed out of the snow.

Just past the bus was another M14A bus that was also stuck in the snow along Avenue A.  It was being towed out by a tow truck.  A guy I talked to said that there were quite a few M14A buses stuck along the road.  He said he saw 3 more than these two.  I wonder why they even bothered to use Avenue A for buses when it obviously hadn’t been cleared well enough yet?

Speaking of clearing the roads, the buses weren’t the only ones having a hard time with the snow.  When I was just about back at our building, I saw a snow plow truck slide on the road and almost slam into a parked car.  I figured I’d record the truck for a while to see if it did anything else interesting, and it did!  The snow plow driver managed to get the snow plow stuck in the snow.  If that isn’t a fail, I don’t know what is.

If you look at the road behind it, it looks like the driver got ahead of herself, probably in a rush to get done and get home.  When I was walking away I turned back to look and people had come out of nearby buildings with shovels to help the driver get the truck unstuck.  I imagine she would have been really embarrassed to have to call a tow truck to pull her snow plow out of the snow.

Anyway, I’m back home now, getting ready to eat hot chicken soup and read a good book.  Tomorrow, the temperatures are supposed to come back up above freezing, so this snow should all start to melt.  By the weekend, it’s supposed to be up to 57 degrees again.  Really weird weather!

Winter 2010 Blizzard in New York City

A few weeks ago, there was a bit of snowfall that had me really excited.  I hadn’t seen snow in years.  That sad little bit of snowfall was nothing compared to the white madness going on outside my window right now.  My mom was saying they haven’t seen snow like this is December for years here in New York City, so maybe this is my welcome home snow?

The beginning of the snowfall in Times Square, New York City, December 26th, 2010.

Yesterday, we started noticing the reports on the radio saying that there would be a lot of snow today.  We didn’t pay too much attention to it, because weather typically hits everywhere but in Lower Manhattan.  Still, I was hoping to see a little snow.  This morning when we got up, everything looked the same as it had for the past few days: grey, overcast and cold.  Right on schedule, though, the snow started coming down around noon.  I was surprised by how accurate the weather report was.  We came out of a church service at Times Square and the snow was coming down.  I got so excited, I Tweeted about it.

The big tree at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, December 2010.

We took the time to walk over to Rockefeller Plaza.  I’d been pretty busy working over the past month so I didn’t get a chance to see the tree.  I thought I’d missed it for the year, but it was still up and lit.  It was really impressive looking.

The Swarovski crystal star at Rockefeller Plaza, December 2010.

This is the Swarovski crystal star, a copy of which is on top of the big tree in the previous photo.

The snow falling outside the PATH train Newport / Pavonia station in New Jersey, 2010.

From there we took a trip out to Newport / Pavonia in New Jersey to visit the mall.  The snow actually didn’t seem as bad there as it did in the city, and that was more evident when we left New Jersey and went back to Manhattan.  We had a good stack of coupons we wanted to cash in on and needed a new tea pot.  We wound up picking up a good picture frame too.  We bought 80 bucks worth the goods, but had 53 dollars in savings, paying only 33 bucks.  Not bad huh?

Driving snowfall on 14th street on the night of December 26th, 2010.

Driving snowfall on 14th street on the night of December 26th, 2010.

By the time we made it back to 14th Street in Manhattan, the weather was turning from amusing and fun to near miserable.  The wind was picking up, the snow was being driven into our faces, and it was beginning to pile up on the roads.  When we were heading out in the morning, the buses already had chains on the back wheels, leaving marks on the roads.  It’s a good thing they took that precaution.  Definitely.

The corner of Avenue B and 13th Street, December 26th 2010.

The road we live off of isn’t a main thoroughfare and it hadn’t been plowed at all, so everything looked sort of pristine.  The small businesses hadn’t bothered to shovel the walks and you could hardly tell where the road ended and the sidewalk began.

Our cat, Marble, exploring snow on the balcony.

Even our balcony has a layer of snow on it, which our cat Marble decided was worth exploring.

Cooling down two cans of Coke in the snow and cold on the balcony.

That snow and the cold is also good for quickly cooling down drinks!

The weather is turning worse.  The wind is picking up.  The tree outside our balcony is swaying back and forth nonstop and the snow is flying in every direction out there, getting thicker as it gets later.  All I can say is I’m glad I’m home, relatively warm, and hadn’t planned to do any serious traveling today.  Over a thousand flights were canceled out of New York City today.  I feel bad for the people who will have to camp out in the airport.  I feel worse for the homeless who will have to find shelter tonight.

I’ll have a cup of hot chocolate in a bit and do a little reading.  It seems like a good night for it.  Tomorrow, I think I’ll go visit Central Park.  I bet it’ll be a good day for pictures, before the snow all melts later in the week.  This snow is supposed to come down until around noon tomorrow.  Hopefully I don’t get lost in any snow drifts!

First Snow For the Year in Lower Manhattan Last Night

Yesterday afternoon when I was out, we were just about to step into the Food Emporium at Union Square when I noticed snow flurries.  They were light and sort of disappeared by the time we left the grocery store to head home, but when we were walking up the street to our apartment building we noticed them again.  The snow continued to come down late into the night.  I took the following photos from our balcony.

First snow in Manhattan, Winter 2010.

First snow in Manhattan, Winter 2010.

First snow in Manhattan, Winter 2010.

First snow in Manhattan, Winter 2010.

I was really excited to see snow again.  I hadn’t seen any in years.  I always managed to be out of the country in deserts or the tropics, or in a part of the country where it didn’t snow, during winter.  This year, if there is any heavy snow (and it looks like there will be) I’ll get to see it all first hand, for better or worse.

First snow in Manhattan, Winter 2010.

The snow last night was light, and it didn’t last too well through the day today, but I’m sure there’ll be more.  It’ll be exciting for sure, at first at least, until the novelty of it wears off.

Typhoon Conson Not So Bad, But Meralco Dropped the Ball

I just finished (sort of) my first experience with typhoons, and my first typhoon in the Philippines.  It has been, and is continuing to be, an interesting few days.  I don’t have any interesting photos to share, because there wasn’t really anything interesting to take photos of.  Honestly, this typhoon was no worse than the average hurricane I experienced in Georgia.  There were branches laying around, lots of leaves that needed sweeping up and on the ridges some of the smaller trees (3 – 5 inch diameter trunks) had snapped off from the high winds.  There wasn’t a lot of rain.  No more than an average storm anyway.  I was underwhelmed.  That was my experience in the Antipolo area, which is east of Metro Manila.  Being up in the mountains, it seems to be shielded from the brunt of bad weather.  It didn’t flood here during Ondoy either, from what my in-laws tell me.  Unfortunately, after finally having a chance today to look at the news online, it seems like other people weren’t so lucky.  It’s a bit hard for me to find sympathy for the fishermen who didn’t come ashore when they knew a typhoon was coming, or for the guy that drowned while trying to save a herd of pigs in a lake, though I think I can understand his reasoning.  I do feel bad for the other people that died though.  I have a feeling most of them live in houses that aren’t built very well, and then there were the accidents like the carpenters that had a concrete wall collapse on top of them.  So, don’t take this the wrong way.  I’m not downplaying their deaths.  I’m just relating my own experience during this event.

With the storm being so relatively mundane (compared to Ondoy), I can’t help but wonder why the power went out for so long!?  Really, what’s going on with you guys Meralco?  The night the typhoon hit the greater Manila area, the power began to flicker.  I wasn’t too surprised about that, since the power lines are on poles here.  I also wasn’t too surprised when the power went out entirely at around 1 AM.  In fact, we were watching a zombie movie called Dead Snow on my laptop at the time.  It’s supposedly one of the greatest zombie movies ever, and what better time to watch it than on a dark, stormy night?

We went to bed around 3 AM, with the sounds of the wind howling and the rain sheeting down to rock us to sleep.  When morning came two and a half hours later, the sky was a little overcast, but it was clear.  There was still no electricity but I was cool with that.  I’d figured the work crews wouldn’t head out until morning.  There was no running water.  That was disappointing.  So, we went back to sleep.

Later that day we got up and went to my brother-in-law’s shop to have a light lunch.  Still no electricity.

We sat around all afternoon, chatting, reading, getting in some of that quality bonding time, but there was still no electricity when the sun started to go down.

When it got too dark to see, we brought out candles. By then my laptop battery was almost completely drained and I wanted to conserve the battery on my iPhone, just in case.  So, there was nothing to do but sleep.  We used the last of the water we’d stocked up on to wash up and then at 7:30 PM we went to bed.

Around 1 AM we got up and checked, but there was still no electricity.

At 5 AM this morning we were up again, because we had to be in Eastwood by 9 AM.  Still no electricity.

By then, the fact that there was no electricity was really working my nerves.  We’d found out from family and friends that the power had been off all yesterday in Pasig and in Mandaluyong as well.  Why was there such a widespread outage for such a low key storm?  A friend told us that even after Ondoy, the power was up and running after just 3 or 4 hours.  It seems absurd that the power outage would last that long with such a relatively light storm.

The power being up 3 to 4 hours after Ondoy could be misinformation, but on our way to Eastwood we passed a news stand and one of the papers had a front page article showing a housewife trying to prepare a meal by candle light.  The title said something like, “Welcome back to the Dark Ages”.  Given how sarcastic the title was, I think our sentiments about the power situation were shared by quite a few people.

While in Eastwood I ran my iPhone battery all the way down while reading a book on the iBooks application.  My other cell phone was almost dead too by the time we headed home.  So was my wife’s phone.  We’re job hunting, so that’s not a good thing.  It sucked to think about heading home to a house with no electricity, no water, and nothing to do once it got dark.

So, on the way back from Eastwood we kept an eye on storefronts and house windows, to see if we could see light.  Things were looking good but we were still holding our breath for what we might see in our own neighborhood, which is a little ways outside Antipolo.  And… there was light!  When we crested the last ridge before our neighborhood (which sits in a valley), we could see house lights everywhere and we breathed a sigh of relief.  At least we could recharge our gear and have some entertainment.

Fortunately, we hadn’t restocked our fridge yet.  There wasn’t much of anything in it to go bad, except for some milk.  Maybe the eggs are bad now too.  I don’t know.  Unfortunately, I think we may have just lost a month’s profit on business related foodstuffs we had in our freezer.  Things that are supposed to remain frozen don’t do too well in the Philippines heat when the power is out for 30 to 40 hours.  I don’t know what time the electricity came back on today, but it wasn’t soon enough.

Meralco… you disappoint.