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Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

If New York City was a person, I would imagine them to be calm, cool, sophisticated, a little bit snotty.  Obviously very highly opinionated and vain, self-absorbed, definitely unflappable, and above all, tough.  Until, that is, a little frozen condensation gets in the picture.

Unless you’ve been under a rock (or perhaps on a glorious vacation in a far off land sans internet connection?), you know that NYC was hit with a pretty bad (for NYC standards) snowstorm over the weekend.  And despite its permanent placement in the Northeast, despite it’s tough-guy attitude, despite it’s bragging that NYC is the “best city on the planet,”  this place is absolutely freaking out.

Now, it’s not like we have 8 feet of snow.  We have two feet, maybe. And it’s not even the biggest snow-storm to hit the Big Apple. It’s like, the sixth biggest.  So in the large scheme of things, it’s not really a big deal.

But you’d never know that from the way everyone is acting.

Luckily H and I managed to get back into the city via the always delightful (sarcasm) Metro-North Railroad on Sunday evening, before everything really went to hell.  But upon waking up on Monday morning we discovered that not only was our subway line completely suspended (not too surprising as they are elevated tracks out in the wilds of Astoria, Queens) but the Metro-North, the LIRR, every airport in the area, the New Jersey Transit, and pretty much every other subway line and bus route was also, amazingly, not functioning.  Cabs and cars?  Don’t even ask.  You would have had better luck cross-country skiing down 5th Ave.  Which, actually, I think people did.

I’m not sure you non city-dwellers will comprehend just how ridiculous this is, but try to imagine it.  An entire city of millions of people, most of whom depend entirely (like myself) on getting around via public transit, placed into a state of suspended animation. It was, excuse my french, a complete and utter shit show.  It was like with the first few flakes people’s brains turned from regular, logical function into OHMYGODFROZENWATERFALLINGFROMTHESKYWHATDOWEDOPANIC!

Don’t believe me?  Exhibit A:

Creepy, isn't it? (image from Gizmodo.com)

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! I mean people just abandoned their cars, their MTA buses, whatever, because holy moly it’s SNOW.

Still, you might be saying, whatevs, a morning of transit delays and stuck cars, no big deal.  But you honestly have no idea.

People were trapped on subways.  Trapped! Which is terrifying in and of itself, but combined with blizzard conditions?  Woof.  Not even for a couple of hours, but for 7 hours, or 8 hours, or hey, even 15 hours. 311 (sort of like 911 for complaining here in NYC) and real 911 were shut down, paramedics and other emergency people couldn’t get to anyone who needed help, and there were power-outages galore.

And where were the MTA workers and Sanitation workers and all those other people who get paid to clean up after storms like this?

Well frankly, I have no idea.  But I do know where they weren’t: cleaning off the tracks of subways (as of today, Thursday, there are still subway lines that aren’t functioning), spreading ice on train platforms so we don’t all slip and plunge to our death, or plowing 90% of streets in the outer boroughs.

In the aftermath of this storm, people aren’t exactly calming down.  Everyone is all ragey because Mayor Bloomberg pooh-poohed the storm and suggested people “go to a Broadway show” or something like that, instead of mobilizing resources to help citizens dig out.  It also did not help ole Mikey’s cause when pictures surfaced of his block plowed down to the black top bright and early Monday morning, while the rest of us (AKA Queens and Brooklyn) languished under the drifts.

Like I said: freaking. out.

So what did I do during Snowpocalypse 2010?  Duh, what any good NYC office drone did: “worked from home” and watched 18 episodes of “My Fair Wedding with David Tutera” on TV.

The snow sure did look pretty from my balcony, though.

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I mentioned, awhile ago, that H and I were joining a CSA.  For those of you who aren’t trendy enough to know what a CSA is, it stands for Community Sponsored Agriculture.  Basically you pay an up-front fee to receive a weekly ‘share’ of food from a local farm for around 6 months.  This is a good idea for a variety of reasons.

1. You are supporting a local farmer.  My farmer (yes, he’s all mine) is named Zaid and is Egyptian and went to Cornell.  I’ve never actually met him, but he sounds fun when he writes his farm updates.  This is the closest I will ever get to a real working farm in my life (a fact I am VERY VERY okay with).  So it’s fun to live vicariously and imagine singing cucumbers and caterpillars being jolly up on the farm  as I sit in my air-conditioned apt in New York City.

2. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that there is something seriously effed up about the food industry in this country.  In a nutshell: mass-produced food = bad.  Thanks, food industry, but I don’t need chemical covered fruit or genetically modified chickens pumped up with antibiotics.  Tempting, but no.

3.  It’s a volunteer opportunity.  You have to help unload the food and organize stuff for pick up.  This is a “Good Thing.”  Sigh.  I’ll let you know how I further feel about this after I actually execute my assigned volunteer slot in two weeks.  Please don’t have high hopes.

4. You are forced (cheerfully) to deal with types of fruits and veggies you’ve never seen or even heard of before.  Kohlrabi, anyone?  Fava beans (with a nice Chianti….psssfftttthhh (okay I have heard of that one))?  This forced feeding has led to some personal epiphanies.  For example: fresh beets?  Not so bad!  When there are fried up with lots of salt and butter, that is. But still.  Expanding my horizons!

The list goes on, but I’m sure you’re about done with reading it.  Suffice it to say that our CSA (www.harvestastoria.com, if you’re curious) has basically taken over my life.  Every Wednesday I MUST go and pick up our share, and then I MUST go home and stand in my sweltering cubby-hole of a kitchen and clean and prepare said share.  I then spend the remainder of the week alternating between trying to think up clever ways to eat the things I have and obsessing over when they will spoil.  ONCE I FOUND A SLUG IN MY LETTUCE.  It was horrifying and I gagged (what up my gagging friends, A. and C.!), but after regaining my composure I convinced myself that it was a good sign.  Somehow.  Now I’m too grossed out thinking about the slug to remember.

See? I wasn't exaggerating

Anyway, despite how time-consuming it is and how much I dislike volunteering for things, our inaugural CSA season is going pretty swimmingly.  I’m certainly expanding my culinary repertoire.   It’s absolutely making me eat more fruits and vegetables (it’s hard not to when they are staring you in the face every time you open the fridge…smug bastards).  It even gives me a perfect excuse to take artsy pictures with my iPhone and then force you to view them.  So I’ll leave you with that.  Lucky ducks.

The Noble Fava Bean

Collard Greens (and yes, I do waste a lot paper towel whist cleaning my veggies)

Oh also, yes.  Squadiculous is a made-up word.  Made-up of AWESOMENESS.

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It’s been a week since I last posted, and I’m sorry.  When I started this little project my goal was to post twice a week, or more if there was something very post-able going on.  I had no delusions of grandeur…I would NOT be the sort of blogger who posts every day (that would be my hetero life partner, go read her blog at Just Slightly Neurotic).

But things happen.  I host amazing BBQ’s and have a busy social life and I’m sorry, but I can’t hold your hand and give you something witty and interesting to read EVERY DAY.

So in case you haven’t gotten it yet, this post isn’t about anything at all. I don’t have any snarky insights and I don’t want to comment on any current events.

All I want to do is show you guys the baby sloths.  The orphaned baby sloths.  Accompanied by jaunty music (you don’t need sound to watch this but OH does it make the video).

Did you watch it?  No? WATCH IT.  And then try to tell me that you don’t want a baby sloth as a pet and that these things aren’t the cutest weirdest things ever.  They are like muppets.  Except alive.  And those weird claw-hand things?!  You had me at hello, baby sloths.

That’s all I have for you today.  Baby sloths.  WHO ARE ORPHANED.

Where did I find this, you might ask?  Am I sitting at work googling “baby sloth orphanages” just for shits and giggles?

Well no, I’m not.  The thing is, I have developed a rare combination of Adult ADHD and Super-Terrible Procrastination disorder (it’s a real thing, I think I contracted it from my sister, the Procrastination Queen).  Pair that with a slow season in the ole academic publishing industry (read: June to August) and you’ve got so-cute-you-can’t-breath baby sloth videos. Oh, and online shopping.  LOTS of online shopping.

Just to make it up to you vultures I’ll even post later on this week, but be forewarned: it’s going to be a food post.  There are a few chicken breasts marinading in buttermilk in my fridge as we speak.  Beware.

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A lot of things changed when I started my big-girl office job.  My dancey-gymy-college-studenty body went adiós (thanks, 8 hrs in a desk chair!), my eyes got progressively worse from staring at a computer screen and/or tiny typed text for extended periods of time, I started brushing my hair on a regular basis (see, not all the changes were bad), and my once hours-long lunch breaks turned into me scarfing food while hunched over my desk in 30 mins flat.

But I realized recently that the biggest change had to do with the weather.  Or, the lack thereof.

Let me paint a picture for you.  Every morning as I am getting ready, my shades stay tightly draw.  My apartment is cave-like and cool.  Also, I am afraid of weirdo neighbors judging my AM routine (so what if I become entranced by Sam Champion & Robin Roberts’ witty banter on Good Morning America!) and my non-morning-person eyeballs just can’t handle outside light at the ungodly hour of 8AM. By the time I actually get outside I am sprinting to the subway because I’m late, and I am too absorbed with composing the perfect commute play list to notice anything occurring around me.  All in all, my daily time spent out-of-doors is roughly 20 minutes.  All 20 of which I am thinking of everything BUT the fact that I’m outside and oh its quite nice out!  Or, whew its breezy today!  Or shoot it’s rainy!

Anyway.  20 minutes.  Maybe less. The rest of my day takes place in a perfectly nice office where I spent all day, every day, basking (or shivering) in florescent lighting and arctic air-conditioning.

It’s one of those things that you don’t notice until it’s gone, and even when it IS gone you spend some time wondering what exactly is missing.  Something feels off….OH!  That’s it! I no longer experience sunlight unless it is filtered through my quadruple-paned tinted office windows!

I’m not even the greatest fan of weather, as it falls under the category of “Nature”, which we all know is not my cup of tea.  But suddenly I find myself inappropriately excited to spend time outdoors on the weekends just to get my fill of sunshine and clouds and stuff.  Especially now that it’s getting nice out.  It’s sad when a nice breeze and a few rays of sunlight become “special.”  Shouldn’t those be part of basic human rights?!  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of blue sky (and even the occasional sun-shower)!

It also doesn’t help that I live in a city where the sky is a pretty scarce sight.  When I look up I see buildings, not clouds.  Sometimes when I’m outside in Manhattan it doesn’t even feel like I’m outside.  It’s really quite sad.  I’m turning into a weird mole-person.  Help me.

My weather-less lifestyle also does not help me having a skewed sense of temperature.  I’ve always been one of those people who is always cold.  But now it’s a zillion times worse.  I am either irrationally freezing or unable to cool myself off, with my hands and feet feeling like they are on fire.  As we speak it’s 78 degrees outside and I’ve got my personal space heater (yes, I have one) at full blast.  I’m wearing a sweater.  At 6pm when I get up to leave I will step outside and the humidity will hit me like a brick wall and I will be instantly overheated.  And then I will get on the subway and freeze again because there is a frigid blast of icy cold air blowing on my sweaty body.  It’s a terrible, vicious cycle.

Dear Sunshine and other weather-related stuff,

Sorry I took you for granted.  Can we please devise an outdoor-style office that becomes the norm for the publishing industry in NYC?  I’ll even wear sunscreen, I swear!  I miss you!

Love,

me

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That is what Frank Lloyd Wright called Television. Which I think is a pretty awesome description, both in total accurateness and in creativity. TV doesn’t really have a point. That’s what ole Frankie is trying to say.

But does that stop me front plopping down in front of our circa 1999 Sony and becoming utterly absorbed in something that is most likely an insult to my intelligence? Absolutely not! Because I LOVE tv.

I get accused of loving trashy tv by a certain fellow who has to share the remote with me, but I like to think that I’m just open-minded. It’s not like I watch Rock of Love or Jersey Shore and don’t realize ‘hey, this is really really trashy and stupid.’ I do think that. I also think ‘this is so horificially entertaining I cannot get enough!”

It’s like a car crash. SO bad, but you can’t stop looking, cause it’s fascinating. I sit there and marvel that there are really people out there who act like that. And it’s not just bad reality tv that I watch—oh no, I’m nothing if not fair. I also watch bad, cheesy, scripted tv.

Exhibit A: Spartacus.
If you can’t guess from the title, this program is a spin on the classic movie staring (St. Lawrence University ALUM) Kirk Douglas. Except it is so cheesy and trashy and overly dramatic that the title is probably the only thing the TV show has in common with the movie.  It’s a typical “Sword & Sandals” series in the vein of Xena, Warrior Princess (and, coincidentally, Lucy Lawless is in Spartacus too).  It is, shall we say, raunchy (we’re on Starz here people, you can show whatever you want), and it’s super blood-guts-gore.  I’m really embarrassed to be admitting that I love it, but I do.  Thank you, Netflix On Demand, for allowing me to watch it in secret (although I guess the secret’s out now, whoops).

AP Photo/Starz Entertainment, LLC

Do you see these abs?  Do you blame me?  That is Spartacus himself, that fuzzy little man peach.

Annnnnyway.  Don’t judge me too much just yet.  I do watch bad tv, but I also watch really, really, REALLY good tv.  Like “Life.”  Now I’m sure you’ve watched “Planet Earth” on the Discovery channel, and, if you have any brains in your head, you recognized it as being an absolutely stunning piece of television.  This is sort of the same thing, but with Oprah, and LOTS more cute animals.  I’m obsessed.

This is really saying something, because anyone who knows me knows that I am not the greatest fan of nature.  Actually, yeah, I mostly hate it.  It’s okay.  I hate nature.  Bugs and weird stinging plants and crazy vicious animals…blech.

But therein lies the beauty of TV.  I can watch something like “Life” that showcases insane nature-y things and totally appreciate it (from the safety of my couch, indoors).  Plus, now I totally would like a baby elephant for a pet.  Please and thank you.

Copyright © 2006 - 2010 by Jason Butler, elephant-photos.com

So, the point of this post is, while I appreciate Frank Lloyd Wright’s clever turn of phrase, I don’t necessarily totally agree with him.  Yes, there is deffinetly TV that is utterly pointless (Real Housewives of…wherever, anyone?) but there is also TV that opens up a whole new world for you, and shows you stuff you’d generally never see.  The History Channel, Discovery, even TLC (I mean where else would I see the “Man Who’s Arms Exploded”).  People sort of poo-poo the notion of educational TV, but I think it’s pretty legit.  I learn tons from TV–from how ad-men in the 1960’s philandered their way to the top (hey Don Draper, I miss you! Come back soon!) to how Guidos get their blow-outs just right.

So I’m proud to say I am a TV lover.  It allows you to turn off your brain and to stimulate it depending on what you’re watching.  I give those who do not have cable credit, and I’m jealous of the money you save, but I could never do it.

Hi, my name is Mary, and I am a tv-aholic.

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