Translation from English

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Evil Weed....fading out in NYC

Smoker sits on bench reserved for patrons of tavern on Second Avenue....he looks depressed. Being depressed and smoking and drinking have all been shown to be anti-depressant that did not work so well in clinical trials was however marketed as an aid to quitting smoking.

Statistics show that anyone who smokes has good reason to be depressed, what with all the health risks...but the "hit" from the nicotine that goes straight to the brain so fast creates a brain chemistry in about a quarter to a third of smokers that makes it harder and harder for them to give it up the longer they smoke...and more likely to relapse if they try to quit. So you can expect some people are still always going to be hooked no matter how expensive the cigs get or how many more awful TV ads against smoking are aired...

So sad to see the cute and funny little ashtrays on sale in a store window. What can seem like just one of Life's little pleasures is usually so deadly in the long run!

Basketball is usual

On a warm Friday afternoon, basketball players were out early in St. Vartan's Park at the foot of Murray I predicted, the courts were jammed by early nightfall, with a lot of little kids out playing too, --basketball is always popular in this park, but I think there has been an added impetus lately in the revival made by the New York Knicks and Jeremy Lin.
Shame coach D'Antoni was forced to resign, but the Knicks are still hanging in there and it has been so long since New York has had anything like a winning basketball team that it has generated a lot of a time when people are sort of desperately looking for good news in any form!

Warm Spring days come early

The weather has been weird all over the country this in a lot of places, NYC has warmed up early.... Italian ice cream for sale in front of a restaurant, office workers crowding plazas at lunch time...

Starting this weekend, the warmish days are going to cool off some and there will be some rain. In a way, it is a relief to get back to something closer to normal temperatures...who wants another super hot summer like last one, which came in early?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Oh, those Godiva chocolates!

I will always remember the cachet of Godiva Chocolates ( shop here in Grand Central Terminal) because of this one story:

A judge who had presided over some pretty hard fought cases had some chocolates delivered at his house ---no one had ordered them-- with no markings as to whom they were from.

Like something from a bad mystery story, the judge's wife opened the chocolates and ate some. She became horribly ill and was saved at the emergency room and need therapy afterwards.

When asked why she had eaten some strange food that came in the mail, she replied as if it needed no explanation, " But they were Godiva Goldens!!"

Grand Central Post Office

The Grand Central Post Office is in a great old neo-classical structure that I hope they never abandon or shut down....

Used to have a Post Office Box here many years ago, for a couple of reasons. Back then, the place was always buzzing away, with excellent service in all departments.

Seems to me we have to find a way to salvage the U.S. Postal has such a great tradition and is so important to so many people, even if we are more and more in a digital age.

Nativism in Advertising?

The point of this ad seems to be that the Mason Office Supplies company is based on good old American values ( seems like Protestant ethic personified)--think it is also a little tongue in cheek.
Have seen some other companies, like one called Fitch, that take the same approach.

Reminds me of the joke about Franklin Roosevelt addressing a group of women from the Daughters of the American Revolution,
"Fellow Immigrants!!" he started off...

Let me see what Mason says about itself on internet--let, it is pretty much along the lines of celebrating free enterprise in America:

Since 1898, the dedicated people at W.B. Mason have been passionate about bringing their amazingly low prices, superior delivery and outstanding personal service to businesses of all sizes for all of their office products needs. From our humble beginnings in a small warehouse in Brockton, MA, we have grown to become the largest, privately owned office products dealer in the United States, with over 30 locations spanning 11 states. We have everything you need for your office, from supplies and furniture, to break room and janitorial goods. Let us be your one source for all of your office needs. One Source...Wonderful!
Our Mission Statement: We are an organization focused on solving customer problems with personalized services and customized solutions. We take the long view on strategies that require extended periods to develop, and we are flexible to meet customers' ever changing needs. Our objective is to provide the best overall solution.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"St. Paddy's Day--When Everyone is Part Irish"

TWO MILLION PEOPLE estimated in Manhattan to participate in St. Patrick's Day celebrations...
Here, young people are already lining up ( line extends forever) for just a very ordinary Irish bar and restaurant before noon...

This is supposedly the 251st St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York...but I don't think it was really much of an occasion before the Irish Catholics began arriving in really big numbers in the middle of the 19th Century ( when they were easily outnumbered by Irish Protestants, who held provocative parades through the Catholic neighborhoods).
The famed Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall was an  Irish Protestant, in fact...
Have just been reading on the internet on the massacres on both sides that go way back in this Catholic and Protestant conflict, especially in Northern is very grim reading.
For today, however, it was all celebration and good times and really nice weather!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Astro Gems and Minerals Updates Window Again

ASTRO Gems and Minerals, on 34th Street, has been updating its window with more great displays of items made from earth materials...

Here is something about Astro again-- from their Website:

About Astro Gallery of Gems
Astro Gallery of GemsConsidered the world's most established gem and mineral gallery, Astro Gallery of Gems is located in the heart of New York City across from The Empire State Building. Our 10,000 Square Foot showroom has thousands of minerals, gems, fossils and pieces of rare and unusual jewelry on display.

We carry specimens suitable for the novice as well as the most advanced collector. We have everything from tumbled stones to 2000lb amethyst geodes.

Early Spring-- Well, No Problems for NYC Anyway

Like a lot of places around the country, Spring is about two weeks ahead of schedule in New York.
Today was on the chilly feeling side but that is only because we have become used to such mild was still several degrees above normal.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the fast blooming cherry blossoms have loused up a lot of peoples' plans...

Let me see if there is a good story on this Spring on the internet--why has it been so warm?

This is from Discover Magazine website

Why This Winter is So Crazily Warm

Spring! Not.
Across the US, this winter has been unusually balmy, with precious little snow, or even rain, and with trees taking the warmth as a cue to send out new leaves in January. Temperature data support those impressions: in the first week of the year, temperatures were 40 degrees F higher than average in some parts of the Midwest, Discovery News reports, and snow cover is at 19 percent across the country, compared to an average of 50 percent at this time of year. In notoriously chilly Fargo, North Dakota, the January 4 high temperature of 55 broke the record for the warmest January day on record, and the country has seen close to no rain or snow in this first week of 2012, writes Wunderground meteorologist Jeff Masters. “It has been remarkable to look at the radar display day after day and see virtually no echoes,” he writes, referring to the radar echoes reflected back by storms. “It is very likely that this has been the driest first week of January in U.S. recorded history.”
Why this freaky weather? The answer is, basically, an extremely unusual jet stream over the last few months, Masters explains. The jet stream that defines weather in North America is controlled by the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation, climate patterns that reflect differences in sea-level pressure across certain stretches of the globe. And the pressure differences this year have been tremendous—for the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), this year saw the most extreme difference ever recorded in December, and the second most extreme for the Arctic Oscillation (AO).
This positive pressure difference has drawn warm air from the southwest over the Eastern US, rather than the usual chilly air from the Arctic. Last winter’s pressure differences were gigantic as well, but in the opposite, negative direction, so lots of cold air poured down and we had tons of snow. In fact, the last six years have been generally strange for the Arctic Oscillation, with the two most extreme negative values and two most extreme positive values on record.
But why?, you ask. Why have these oscillations been so weird? Unfortunately, Masters writes, we don’t really know why these variations happen. Addressing the elephant in the room—I’m looking at you, climate change—he says, “Climate models are generally too crude to make skillful predictions on how human-caused climate change may be affecting the AO, or what might happen to the AO in the future.” But he notes that there are links between solar activity and sunspots and positive values and between arctic sea ice loss and negative values. Whether this year’s strong positives are related to sunspots, though, isn’t clear.
Image courtesy of subflux / flickr

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

NYPL- New York Public Library, Trouble with a Capital L

WAS listening to WNYC ( Public Radio) the other day and heard the most distressing news about the New York Public Library System.

I know all branch libraries have suffered cuts because of budget problems but did not realize how bad the situation was, system wide.

For instance, not only are library branches in Harlem literally falling apart ( famous Schaumburg Library Director's office is no longer air conditioned, etc.)...but the main library has gotten rid of all sorts of major collections ( Asian, Baltic, Slavic, etc.) with more cuts to come.

Mid Manhattan and Science Libraries will be put up for sale.

Meanwhile, main library will have $350 million restoration into what critics call " a giant internet cafe" with tons of books tossed.

Let me see if there is anything more about this on the internet--here is finish of one article about Amazon, kindle etc. and how it will affect the library--

"Just as Netflix and other on-demand services have killed meatspace video rentals, though, it’s hard to ignore that an Amazon Digital Library would kill the public library system. The reason Netflix has done so well is because of its flexibility and convenience — and just like hauling your butt down to the local Blockbuster, visiting (and finding books at!) a public library can be a real pain in the ass. The problem with killing public libraries is that the information contained therein would no longer be free to the public, and do you want to be the one to tell the disenfranchized foster kid that he now needs a $100 e-reader to read a book? Unless, of course, Amazon subsidizes Kindle Fires for educational purposes…
If Amazon really does launch a monthly-subscription digital library on Wednesday, it really would be just a matter of time until it stitches up the entire digital rental sector. Amazon will be the cheapest and easiest way to obtain books, magazines, periodicals, TV shows, music, and movies, and the Kindle Fire (and perhaps a smartphone in the future?) will be the best way to consume them. The entire stack will be backed by Amazon’s EC2 and S3 cloud services, almost-perfect vertical integration will have been achieved, customers will wonder how they ever lived without Amazon, and billions of dollars will crystallize out of thin air and land in CEO Jeff Bezos’ pocket."

And, from the Nation magazine a year ago:

n July 2010, Hilde Hoogenboom, a professor of Russian literature at Arizona State University, sent an impassioned missive to Paul LeClerc, president of the New York Public Library, to protest the closure of the NYPL’s Slavic and Baltic division. It “was one of the best places to work in the world,” she wrote. Indeed, in the universe of Russian studies, the Slavic division was legendary. “I recall [it] as an agreeably dim sort of place, with a faintly reverential, almost cathedral-like ambience,” George Kennan said in 1987. Among its 750,000 items are the first book printed in Moscow, the “Anonymous” Gospels; a first edition of Tolstoy’s War and Peace; and John Reed’s collection of broadsides and posters from the Russian Revolution. Trotsky and Nabokov toiled in the division’s reading room. Václav Havel and Mikhail Gorbachev made visits of tribute.
Shelby Kinney-Lang contributed research to this article.

About the Author

Scott Sherman
Scott Sherman is a contributing writer to The Nation.

Also by the Author

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Eleven weeks later, a senior NYPL official replied on LeClerc’s behalf: “If I may put this matter into its sadly grim financial context, in the last two fiscal years our budget has been reduced by $20 million and our workforce by 300 positions. While we recognized and prized the special cultural and scholarly resource that was the Slavic Reading Room, we simply could no longer afford to operate it.”
The New York Public Library, which comprises four research libraries and eighty-seven branch libraries, has seen other cutbacks as well. Since 2008 its workforce has been reduced by 27 percent. In a recent newsletter to library supporters, the institution reported that its acquisitions budget for books, CDs and DVDs had been slashed by 26 percent.
Despite these austerity measures, NYPL executives are pushing ahead with a gargantuan renovation of the Forty-second Street library, the crown jewel of the system. The details of the Central Library Plan (CLP) are closely guarded, but it has already sparked criticism among staff members, who worry that the makeover would not only weaken one of the world’s great libraries but mar the architectural integrity of the landmark building on Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue, renamed the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in 2008, following the Wall Street billionaire’s gift of $100 million. (Every staff member I spoke with demanded anonymity; a number of them talked openly about their fear of retribution from management.)