December 31, 2004

Tsunami Disaster

This year's worst tragedy has to be what is happening now in Asia. The death count is well over 100,000 and will probably only get higher.
Indonesia, the hardest hit nation, said its toll ? now at 80,000 ? could reach 100,000, and officials began to acknowledge that the number of dead may never be known with precision, because the towering waves that smashed into Sumatra island swept entire villages with their inhabitants out to sea.

The international community has pulled together to bring relief to the survivors if any can be given. You've heard the stories - whole families killed; property destroyed; vacations ruined. If history repeats itself then we all have to be very careful for a scandal involving any moneys raised for the victims in this crisis. All fundraising is tainted with corruption. Please do the best you can to make sure that any money you give gets to wear it needs to go.

There are already reports that the legitimate organizations are having trouble distributing the goods contributed just because of the shear quantity of it all.
But with help streaming in, overstreched authorities were dealing with logistical nightmare of getting it to the needy. Tons of supplies were backlogged in Indonesia, with thousands of boxes filled with drinking water, crackers, blankets and other basic necessities piled high in an airplane hangar nearly 300 miles from Banda Aceh, the wrecked main city in the disaster zone.
This is one of those times that I wish I had the resources to quit everything I'm doing and fly to site of hopelessness and offer some kind of help or consolation. But I don't. The best I can do is gather some clothes and try to send them off. I'm not sending money. Not only do I not really have it to spare, but I don't want the money I donate to get tied up in some kind of criminal doing by some crooked chairman of some legitimate organization.

What could they do with used clothes? I don't think that's worth much as currency. What would gangsters want with used clothing?

December 30, 2004

The Day Before Tomorrow

Today was a good day. I went to bed at 10:30 last night and woke up headache free. I left the house to visit the bank and the NY Public Library. My intention was to do research but it was so nice out, I just couldn't sit still. Also, my research proved to be somewhat unproductive. On my way to the library I passed by one of those tourist traps/stores that have hideous, hideous artwork available to see to unsuspecting tourists, like this.

If you are the artist, my apologies and if you collect these my apologies to your loved ones. After shaking off the ill effects of seeing these hideous pieces, I continued on to the library. I waited for Jon to meet me, but while I waited I walked around and around. I shot these random shots.

Can you believe how green the ivy is? It's winter for crying out loud. Shouldn't it be all brown and dried out? Jon met up with me and we walked around the back to Bryant Park where booths were set for their fetes de Noel or Christmas Fair. We found it pretentious that the Christmas Fair was called a Fetes de Noel. We also thought it pretentious that the carousel organizers were playing Edith Piaf music instead of the typical caliope variety.
Anyway, here is a picture of my sweetie at Bryant Park.

And here is a cool picture of a sign on Sixth Avenue for a popular chain of hair salons.

December 29, 2004

Laundry Hangover

I woke up this morning with such a headache. Actually it was more like the early afternoon. I did wake up around 7 this morning and struggled to go back to sleep. So all in all I did sleep a total of 8 or 9 hours although broken into two sections.

Went to the laundromat last night; went in and out over several hours. First I went over to Dunkin' Donuts for some of their signature coffee. Then I came back. When there were six minutes left on my machines I got so bored I took some pictures.

After I set up the clothes for about an hour of drying time, I treated myself to a non-home cooked meal. It's impossible to make a cheeseburger like they do at the diner so that's why I ordered one, deluxe and with bacon.


Folding the laundry was taking so unbearably long, I eventually just shoved every unfolded thing into my second bag and headed home. I hunkered in for an evening of reruns of Law & Order on TNT. About 20 minutes into the first episode, my friend and neighbor knocked on the door. It was pleasant to have company after spending the latter part of the day by myself.

When Jon came home, we watched the end of Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett and then played a rousing game of Scrabble (trademark). I won't say who won or who lost but here is a picture of the final board. Between the two of us we scored well over 600 points.

December 28, 2004


We ran errands in New York City on the Monday after Christmas. One of our dear friends gave us a gift card for Bed Bath and Beyond and it was literally burning a hole in our figurative pocket. Getting around the city was relatively easy now that the holiday rush is over. We actually ran a couple of errrands. First we rode the trusty ole' W train down to 23rd for our trip to BB&B. Then we rode the F train uptown so we could go to the midtown COMPUSA to pick up my computer which they had repaired over the last few weeks. The F train at 23rd came rather quickly and quickly moved along the tracks to 34th street. But we got off at 42nd so that's neither here nor there. The tunnel through which we walked smelled like rotten corn, foot odor and stinky armpits. We walked through the tunnel to avoid the cold but it the chills would have been worth not smelling that earthy stench.

Last night Jon and I went to see the movie Sideways. Here is a picture of us on the train. You didn't honestly think that I would post something without including a picture, did you? Jon took this picture by holding our camera at arm's length. He also used the flash which turned out to be smart because we don't look yellow from the fluorescent subway lighting. I thought for sure we would end up looking washed out from the extra light but it worked out great. The flash on the digital camera is a perpetual mystery to me. It works when you don't expect to and doesn't work when you want it to. This train ride was perfect. We boarded shortly after we got to the platform and the train proceeded to Union Square with no delays. Perfect.

Sideways was very enjoyable. Alexander Payne, director of Election and About Schmidt, did a nice job telling the story of Miles, an English teacher at the end of his rope. Miles takes his friend Jack on a road trip to wine tasting country in California for a week of tasting wine and playing golf before Jack's wedding on the following Saturday. What follows is typical of most road trip movies. They meet women, get into trouble and our lead character learns something about himself by the end of the movie. What's not typical about Payne's version of a road trip movie is the quiet way in which he observes a man hiding from life behind his obsession for finding the perfect Pinot. Paul Giamatti plays Miles quietly and without big gestures, sucking the viewer in to look and listen closely as he describes himself as a delicate Pinot grape to the woman of his dreams; as he quietly suffers his ex-wife telling him about the baby she is expecting with her new husband; as he drinks a valuable bottle of wine while shoving burgers and fries into his gullet. I really liked this movie.

After words Jon and I went to Cosi. Here is a picture of Jon hypnotizing me into ordering something delicious. I have to admit that it didn't take that much convincing but isn't this a cool picture? Yes. I agree. Jon does look great in this picture.

December 26, 2004

Sunday in the Park with Jon

Jon and I went to Flushing Meadow Park to see the Unisphere and the panaroma of New York City at the Queens Museum of Art.

I love cold weather. Today was no exception, but was it really cold? One could argue that 30 something degrees with cold winds is cold. I agree, but find this kind of cold weather bearable if bundled up correctly, which I was. I've been to see the Unisphere before but not photographed it. Here is shot taken from directly underneath the center.

After fooling around in the park for a little while, Jon and I went into the Queens Museum of Art to see the much touted panaroma of New York City. It's alright. It's actually pretty incredible if you think about all the work they did and do to make sure that thing is accurate. All buildings in the five boroughs seemed to be represented in miniature however, it was impossible to photograph. After a non-tantalizing hour in the museum looking at the non-impressive collection of art we decided to head home but when we walked out of the museum the sun was setting in a most spectacular way. So, I immediately ran to the other side of the unisphere so I could get a picture of it with the sunset in the background and took this and several other shots. I think this one is the best.

There is nothing like seeing New York City through the eyes of a tourist while living in New York City. I wonder if there's a name for that.

Anyway, we headed home through the now painfully cold winter air. Actually, we were headed for a great restaurant called Gowasabi in Astoria. GoWasabi is a delightful little Japanese restaurant that opened about a year ago and we absolutely adore the food there. The decor is nice as well.

Here are two shots of their sushi bar - one with the flash and one without.
You can see Jon enjoying his meal in the one with the flash.

Christmas day - Midnight Walk

Yesterday was a Saturday like any other with the exception that it was Christmas. In traditional lazy Saturday fashion, I played on the computer, watched TV, slept for most of the afternoon and then made dinner. I never left the house.

Around midnight, I just had to get out of the house. I walked around the neighborhood, looking for photos, looking for Santas to shoot. Later, after my walk, I came home to get Jon and our neighbor/friend to walk with me. We walked quite a bit more and then stopped to get ice cream at a diner on Broadway and 21st Street.

Here are the Santas, I found:
This is my favorite of the neighborhood Santas. I found it in the window of the pediatric clinic. At night, he looks very serene in this soft blue light, holding a candle to light the way for the little ones.

I've taken several pictures through this flower shop window, because it is one of the nicer ones on 30th Avenue. I finally found a picture that I want to share with you. Here, Santa is hiding among the different plants available in the shop.

This naughty Santa looks like he's bound and gagged with the decorative lights that the owner is probably using to hold him up. Look at how he's biting down on that wire. Go Santa, go. He really is enjoying it.

Inflatable Santa strikes again. He really gets around. When last scene, he was standing guard in front of a local supermarket. In the early morning hours of the day after Christmas, he was waving goodbye to us from the driveway of a local residence. Perhaps his reindeer are parked in the nearby garage.

I want to end this Santa photo essay with one of the first images that I took in Astoria. It is the image that sparked the idea of showing you neighborhood displays of Christmas cheer. I thought I would find many more images like it but I only found the one. I shot it because it was different. It's a Santa with Greek writing under his visage; presumably it says something about the holidays.

December 24, 2004

More Skyscapes for your Holiday Viewing pleasure

Happy Holidays

The best store window Santa I saw was in Edinburgh. Here Santa is dressed in traditional Scottish clothing, ready to play 18 holes of golf.
Scottish Santa and I wish you a

Scottish Santa

Skyscapes - Edinburgh

When we were in Scotland, Jon and I took advantage of the vistas by shooting some pictures of the sky.

Here is one of them.

And here is another.

December 23, 2004


Sneaky santa. I found this guy hiding just under a neighbor's front porch. I think he looks a little bit shy. He also looks like he's about to say something. What do you think it could be? Maybe if we listen really closely we can hear. Shhhhh!

This Santa is stationed in front of the Euromart. Behind him, there is a generator pumping air to keep him fluffed up. Look at how big his feet are. It must be working.

December 22, 2004

Roasted Chicken

The Chicken
1 5.5 lb. chicken - seasoned with salt, pepper and OLD BAY.

The Stuffing
1 med. onion
1 challot
4 celery stalks
chopped and sauteed.
Saltines, smashed and then moistened with water and combined with
1 egg.
Then I shoved it inside the bird.

The Vegetables
Where the pan wasn't covered with chicken, I filled it with white aspargus and carrots.

I set the oven to 375 degrees and cooked the chicken for almost two hours.

Everything came out pretty good.

Something to Blog About

These images are part of my photo essay on Christmas in Astoria.

This enormous blowup Santa can be found in the front courtyard of a building around the corner from our apartment. If you look in the background you can see the front door of the building. Isn't this an utterly ridiculous display. A giant Santa waving hello, sheesh!! They should have just put out pink flamingoes and be done with it all already.

Here is your typical array of drugstore Santas, complete with a stuffed reindeer and Santa bear. Perhaps the santas will pull the sleigh for the giant reindeer. There is nothing in this window that makes me want to go into this drugstore. Not even the Santa teddy.

This household has handed over the responsiblity of cleaning their porch to their plastic snowman. I guess this household was going for a more laid back look. I actually kind of like this one, especially the broom next to the snowman. I would like to think they did it on purpose, as some kind of joke, but it's most likely a coincidence.

And last but not least, this family has hired some wicker reindeer to keep the bad guys away. These guys are stationed right at the front door. You'd have to do some pretty fancy footwork to get by them without getting all tangled up. I think these weird white wired decorations are the ugliest decoration to come along in quite some time.

Nothing to Blog About

I don't have anything to blog about.

Blogger's block.

I am blogging about nothing.

This is a nothing blog.

Let's give them nothing to blog about.

Bloggin' nothin'.

Bloggity blog.

December 20, 2004

Gray Sunday

Sunday was cold and gray. Jon and I went for a neighborhood walk. Yesterday's final destination was Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City. On the way there we discovered this wall painting by De La Vega, a street artist that leaves similar paintings all over New York City. It was surprising because the wall it is painted on is attached to a dreary, worn out old building. We walked through a pretty run down and somewhat scare part of Long Island City near the water front. The Sculpture Park seemed to pop up out of nowhere. When you first approach the park, you notice that there are blocks lining the outer gateway. They look like letters collected over the years from other signs, but who knows? They could have been created as part of some installation. Jon took a picture of three blocks that spell out a funny word.

We continued on into the park and facing us as we walked in was a replica of the Paramount movie insignia. It's kind of hard to see in these pictures because the sky was so grey but I'm posting them anyway. That is upper east side of Manhattan far off in the background.
For the most part, the park was pretty dismal with the exception of a wind chime sculpture which has been in the park since 1991 or so. I also liked this rusted pile of scrap. The picture on the right is a mere detail. The man in the foreground is Jon.

December 19, 2004

S-A-TUR-DAY (beat) NIGHT!!

After yesterday's fascinating post about finding new ways to be lazy, I decided to take a little walk around the neighborhood to see what I could see. With camera in tow, I headed to the Rite Aid to see if I could find some Xmas cards. Normally, it's not that hard to find our local Rite Aid but this year it was hard to see because this happy fellow was positioned in front of the store by the Xmas tree vendors. He's big and frightening and looks like he wants to squeeze you into submitting to buy one of his trees.

While there, I decided I wanted to buy a fancy, scented candle. The ones at Rite Aid were far too expensive. Fortunately, in my neighborhood, there are multiple 99 cent stores. When I got out of Rite Aid, I looked across the street to the Bargain Stop. The store being all tarted up for the holidays and looking warm and inviting, I was anticipating a fight with large crowds once inside. I sallied forth. It was worth it. Not only was the story blisfully uncrowded but I found a beautiful, scented candle for 99 cents. I walked a little bit more to see what else I might photograph and I came upon the butcher shop. I've been looking into the window of this butcher shop for over 10 years now and every time I've looked in the past, I've thought I'm going to take a picture of this one day. So, I took two. Here they are. One sign encourages you to order your holiday meat early, the other advertises goat meat. Yummy.

On the way home, I found this "treasure" for sale at the local thrift shop. It is a doll's cradle with one of the Unicorn tapestries painted on the side. I shit you not. I would have bought it except I'm not crazy. When I got home, I finished preparing dinner. I bet you are wondering whether or not I am going to tell you about the meal I prepared last night. Well, put your wondering aside. I made pasta with meat sauce. The tomato sauce came from a can of Sclaffani pureed tomatoes. Okay, here's what I did.

I diced one medium yellow onion and sliced a container's worth of stuffing mushrooms. I sauteed the onion until it started to get trascluscent, then added the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms started to shrink, I added 1/2 a cup of old wine that's been sitting on our counter since our last party (corked of course). Once the mushrooms absorbed some the yummy wine, I added the chopped meat which I had sauteed and drained of fat while cooking the onions. Once the meat was a browned, I added the 16 oz. can of tomato puree. I let that simmer for a while on low heat, about 2 hours (I love slow cooking) and then I made some shells and the rest is dinner history.

It turned out pretty delicious.

December 18, 2004

Silence on a Saturday

This is turning out to be my laziest Saturday in some time. I started out the day with serious activity. First I posted a fascinating entry about hubris, below. Then I made breakfast. It was no ordinary breakfast. I made steak and eggs. Okay. I let the meat soak in a dry marinade of chili powder, Old Bay, salt and pepper for the hour it took me to bake a quiche. The quiche contained eggs, cream, seasoning and parsley (my favorite herb ever). After the quiche was finished, I cooked the steaks in a hot pan full of butter. Sounds good? It was.

But since Jon left for work, I've just been bumming around. Napping.

I started to watch Reservoir Dogs but had to turn it off when Madsen started torturing the cop. I didn't want to get "stuck in the middle" of that.

Then I found Silence of the Lambs while flipping through the myriad HBO stations that come with DTV. I caught it 20 minutes into the movie. I missed the Chianti and that creepy guy cumming on Starling but did catch the first "quid, pro, quo Clarice"; the flaying and displaying of Charles Napier (one of his guards) in the courthouse scene; the scene where Gumb insists "It puts the lotion in the basket" when Catherine Harris, his victim, discovers nails in the walls of the well where she is being kept; and where Starling accidentally happens upon the scene of the crime. I love that scene. When she first walks into the house, she has no idea. Then, as she waits for Gumb to get her the phone number of Lipman's son, she starts putting it together. The discovery is sealed when she sees that odd moth.

I love that movie.

Now, I'm writing. Sure it's here and not on some other blank canvas but at least I'm writing.

If I stop writing, I'm going to have to decide what I should do next that doesn't involve napping.

Cure for Hubris

What is a good cure for hubris? Walking into a second interview expecting to be offered a job and then NOT GETTING IT. Yes. Yesterday, I made that huge error. I walked in expecting full well to be offered a job and then was interviewed for another hour and a half. I can call back on Wednesday. Mr. W keeps telling me to think on it. I said all sorts of things to assure him I wanted the job like "You sound like an interesting person and I'd like to work for you." or "Well, if you feel you need me, I'd be interested in working here." What I'm sure he meant by telling me that I need to think about it, is he needs to think about it. What do you think? Should I call back on Wednesday? Besides, he said, I wouldn't be starting right away anyway. It's the holidays.

When I walked away from him on the street after saying our goodbyes, I walked by a store with some frightening manakids.

Take this one for example. He looks like a little birdie waiting for his mother to drop regurgitated food into his mouth. Or like he has no bones in his face. Or like someone is about to beat him up for his lunch money. Or like someone just ripped out his tongue and he's still in shock. I was very disturbed when I saw this manaquin, that I didn't even notice what he was put there to sell. All I could see was that slack jaw and pair of frightened eyes. But he wasn't as scary as this next one.

This one is downright deranged. This mana"kid" looks like a snake unhinging its jaw in order to eats his pray. Or like he's laughing at me to distract me while something comes up from behind and eats me. Or like he thinks my outfit is so ridiculous that his laughter will shame me into coming into his store to buy something new to wear. Or like he's been driven mad because he learned the truth about Santa Claus. Or because he knew that I wasn't offered the job like I mistakenly thought.

Knowing that I was going to write about these characters, I took a wider shot to help you place these manaquins in the larger setting. See that creepier teenage manaquin in the back. Imagine a whole display of these creepy and mocking dolls. Standing together like that, they resemble a live action Twilight Zone nightmare sequence. They look like someone slapped them on the backs and froze the stupid looks they had on their faces, like their mothers warned.

Yes. It was strange to walk by these laughing figures as I walked out of that interview. Hopefully, I opened a large enough window for you to understand the weird things that go on in my head.

December 17, 2004


TGIF. Well, Friday has kind of blended into the other days being that I'm not working and all. I have to admit it's kind of nice not to have to worry about going to work. I like it. But later this afternoon, I have meeting that will most likely lead to a job. Or at least that's what I'm kind of hoping. I'm also kind of hoping it doesn't lead to a job so I can be off for a couple of more weeks. I'm finally getting relaxed.

I know. I can't stay on vacation forever and I had enough of that when I was out of work last year but the truth is having to go to work is hard. Most likely, no one really likes working unless they are working on something for themselves or their family, or at something they truly enjoy.

I like not working. I like taking care of the house. I like being able to take naps in the middle of the day. I like playing with our new camera and discovering the great things it can do.

This is probably my last day off in a while. I'm glad my mom could come and visit with me this morning. We exchanged holiday/vacation gifts and had a nice time catching up.

Insert further rambling here.

December 16, 2004


On our morning walk today, we discovered many beautiful (not) Christmas decorations in Astoria. I'll keep you posted as the neighborhood becomes even MORE beautiful.