neighborhoods: mini cities in their own right

as I was taking advantage of today’s brief flirtation with spring, and sitting, reading on one of the many Finley Walk benches, I plotted several errands I needed to run. One of them was on 96th St. and it felt so far away-even though it was only 10 blocks from where I sat. I wasn’t even sure if the store was still there, which got me thinking.

I only moved from E. 95th 4.5 years ago, but it feels like much longer. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve walked through the neighborhood since then, and the last time was a hot day last summer***. Even though I’m only 12 blocks south (and was only 10 blocks south for the 1st three years), it feels like a world away. I have almost everything I need within blocks of 86th. It also explains why my then-new neighborhood of E. 85th felt so new to me when I moved.

It’s like many small cities within even the island of Manhattan.

Today was gorgeous enough that I could have had 10K steps, but sometimes reading in the sun is more important than 10K steps.

***This applies to the avenues east of 5th. I’ve of course been to Museum Mile many times since.

Review: This Ain’t No Holiday Inn


Chelsea Hotel

Hotel Chelsea, February 28, 2014


Yesterday, I was in Chelsea for lunch and I found myself thinking of the Chelsea and decided to find it. When I did, and posted the photo (and the one above), I remembered this unfinished review and blog post from earlier this year. Time to remove the “un”.

“In 2001, he died of everything he had ever done.” ~James Lough

While the author wrote this of one of the personalities he met while researching the Chelsea’s colorful history, the same could be said of the Chelsea Hotel itself.

“If any place will make you believe in ghosts, it’s the Chelsea.” ~Gabriella Bass

James Lough’s This Ain’t No Holiday Inn: Down and Out at the Chelsea Hotel 1980-1995 is an interesting look at the history of the hotel within that era of New York City history. Reading it now was an interesting parallel to the New-York Historical Society’s AIDS exhibit this summer as there was significant overlap in time, characters and storyline.

Continue reading

#GoTheDist: Feb 2014

I knew February was going to be down due to three+ days of lost tracking, but it actually wasn’t as bad as I feared.

February 2014:

  • 69.miles walked (165,667 steps),
  • 16.69 miles biked.

Great, no. Good? Yes. For the record:

February 2013

  • 20.52 miles walked
  • 54.15 miles biked

Definitely walking more than I did, still need to get better about going to the gym. Yeah, I’m a broken record on that front. I still wonder whether a gym closer to home would improve things. I don’t know that I’m going to hit my Q1 goals, but I’m going to give it a hard go. That starts with getting off the couch today. Ahh, me-kends. I am on track, however, to hit my “official” Q1 goal of 200 miles walked. Through Feb 28 I had 150.09 miles, or 75.05%. Yay!

Overall, I am loving the Fitbit. I love the real time data and not having to plug into my phone. I also find it to be more accurate. I don’t love that it doesn’t automatically import my Map My Fitness ride data, but it’s not hard to do it manually.

Officially Team @FitBit

my Jawbone apparently celebrated my two millionth step a little too hard last Friday, because now it’s dead. Utterly and totally toast.

So I went out and got what I wanted back in May: the Fitbit Flex.

I will have lost 3.5 days of data (midday Monday – Thurs PM), but no real idea on how it will affect my #GoTheDist data in terms of strides, etc. Will keep an eye on it and revise Q2 if needed.

Review: Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You by Harriet Baskas

Hidden museum treasures. I am such a nerd. Nerd. NERD. NERD.

and I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Anyway, book #3 of this year: Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You by Harriet Baskas:

#GoTheDist 2014: One Month in

January stats:

  • 185,545 steps
  • 80.3 miles walked
  • 69.3 miles ridden

Happy all around especially with the polar vortex. I’ll have to push it, but the Q1 goals (700,000 steps, 300 miles walked and 75 miles) are well in reach. Especially the bike. Proud of myself for regular-ish gym attendance. I lost the DietBet, but I lost weight, so I call that a win. I’m onto my second DietBet. Better luck this time.

as I alluded to, I’m hooked on Fabletics. I wore the first leggings (Mari) to walk around the park today and besides being comfortable, they’re super warm. I may or may not make a new outfit my Q1 goal.

Now to get back to my reading goal.  I’m way off course there.

Lessons Learned: Coffee Grinds

tea leaves? Who needs tea leaves? I can tell my fortune in coffee grinds thanks to the Polar Vortex making it too cold to walk to Dunkin’ daily. That, and I looked at my Mint figures and realized I spent $516.23 at coffee shops last year. That is INSANE and needs to stop, or at least be significantly curtailed because I won’t be giving up my iced coffee).

In the course of homemade mocha mint via my new toy, I also realized I was saving calories. I’d been trying to drink more Dunkin’ (Iced Peppermint Mocha, splash of skim 260 calories) vs. Starbucks (grande soy peppermint mocha, no whip, 330 calories). Homemade? The 40 calories in the Lactaid fat free milk. Win. Means more calories saved for lunch-and a bigger lunch which keeps me fuller longer and less snacky. Double win.

However, I am switching back to soy because I forgot just how vile Lactaid milk is.

and on the #GoTheDist front: 129, 827 steps, 55.8 miles walked (screw you polar vortex) and 69.3 miles biked. That means my Q1 goal (700,000 steps, 300 miles walked and 75 miles on the bike) is well within reach. It seems that I need a new bike goal-I’m very impressed with my gym habits and know the walking will increase when the weather improves and NYC withdraws from the Arctic circle.

Don’t think I’m going to win my DietBet, but I’ll have lost weight, which means it’s a win.

Review: Tinsel

Oh, and PS: I’d like to acknowledge the global economy, especially the credit and retail sectors, which fell apart between 2006 and 2008 and thereby made profligate Christmas shopping seem all the more interesting and a bit more inane. Here’s to you, capitalism
Those were actually the very last two sentences Hank Stuever wrote in Tinsel, but in a sense, they were this book. According to my Amazon wishlist when I spotted this on a price drop around Christmas, I had it on my wishlist since its publication in 2009. So of course I had to start it immediately after two false starts on books to finish out 2013: Rogues Gallery and Do You Speak Shoe Lover?

I have an odd relationship with Christmas. Christmas in our house looks a lot like Thanksgiving, just with more presents. But I hate shopping. HATE. Yet somehow, I was drawn to this book. To the author’s writing. To the people he met. After finishing the book. it was a pleasant surprise to find the photos of the people he spent Christmas with. I was way off in my mental images, but it was nice to put faces to the names.

Speaking of names, I find it amazing and generous how these folks welcomed him into their homes and their lives. While Stuever wrote at length about the growth of Frisco, it’s still very much Smalltown, USA in that respect. He came to know these people, their families, their friends. He nearly became one of them.
I read this over the course of three weeks, but if I had enough time, I’d probably have read it within a few days as it really grabbed me toward the end. It was an interesting mix of christmas, Christmas, people and shopping. I also think that pretty much describes American christmas in a nutshell these days.
Christmas is the single largest event in American communal life, intersecting with every aspect of religion, culture, commerce, and politics. From mid-November to New Year’s Eve 2006, shoppers spent almost half a trillion dollars on gifts, which is more than we spend on almost anything else as a people, including the annual bill at that time for ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  For those who opt in, Christmas is supposed to exist as a pure moment of bliss and togetherness. We spend more money than we have at Christmas in part to get closer to the simple joy it advertises.

I actually found this — which was his premise throughout the book to be fascinating. What is christmas these days. Is it spending money to be happy? Is it about the holiday (pagan or christian?) is it about family

I went looking for an America living not only on borrowed time, but also on borrowed grace. In the Nativity pageant I’ve staged here, I cast myself merely as an extra, a Wise Man in a purple velour bathrobe and a cardboard Burger King crown, following yonder star, bearing my mother’s crystal salad-dressing cruets (my frankincense, my myrrh) on a tasseled living room throw pillow.

In addition to looking for “Christmas”, I think the author had more than a little quest to look for “America”. Frisco, TX, land of the McMansions isn’t America any more than Jesus is the Reason for the Season describes the true American Christmas, but the author did well to try and tie both extremes together. Of those people he met: Carroll the shopaholic tither and her family, Tammie and her Hottie Elves and the Trykoskis and their lights, it was the Trykoskis I liked the most because they seemed to show me more about what Christmas is. I didn’t like Carroll and her family — although I felt them to be a good example of Shop ’til You Drop Spoiled America. Sure, Tammie decorated clients’ houses for Christmas – but that didn’t make her Santa any more than a normal interior designer. Jeff T was paid for his work in Frisco Square, but he did his own house – and the city – out of his own interest and passion.

The Christmas lifestyle as most Americans know and celebrate it is only about a century and a half old, a straight line from Charles Dickens to Martha Stewart.

I had to chuckle at this — because the Christmas that the author found in Frisco isn’t the Christmas I’ve seen in the Northeast. Multiple themed trees? Prelit trees? Worrying about whether a neighbor’s house and Christmas is “Christ-centered”? Never mind Frisco’s obsession with Snow Powder and the Israelis who sell it.
“On Dasher, on Dancer, on Master, on Visa.”

THANKSGIVING….It conveys a sense of national togetherness, pride, gluttonous helpings of iconic food items, and the moments we take to consider our blessings. Then all hell breaks loose.

Now that? That’s the American Christmas I know. I like how he used his journalistic background to mix in reporting with his story telling. The facts he reported on retail figures, economic growth and contraction, the history of Christmas (more Halloween then Jesus) and suburb development provided a nice back drop to the people without taking away from them. It made for substance to go with the fluff.The same could be said for the religious aspects that he discussed. While an American christmas can be religion fee, I’m not sure the same could be said for a Texas Christmas. All in all, a very good read even if it slowed down at parts. I look forward to reading his other book, Off Ramp, as I like his style and find him very readable. Also, his NPR interview about the book is a fun read. Not sure what my next book of 2014 will be. Yet.

2014: you’re looking pretty good

10 days in and January is looking pretty good, #GoTheDist wise:

  • Steps:: 42,324
  • Miles Walked: 17.8
    (both as of January 9)
  • Miles Biked: 41.44
    (as of January 10)

Pretty impressed with the foot totals in light of the polar vortex and I’ve been to the gym every other day. I am proud of that and hope I can make it stick.

Speaking of looking good. a friend turned me on to Fabletics and I may or may not be hooked. I did need some new clothes as a not small amount of my workout clothes are 60 lbs ago. I’m hoping to use this weekend’s rain to purge and bring the previous purges to the thrift store.

#GoTheDist and DietBet: miniupdate

so after (over)thinking about it, I decided to join a DietBet. While they didn’t work perfectly for me, they were a good jump start and that’s what I’d like about now. I also think I’m in a better frame of mind for it then I was when I took a break last year. As an added bonus, I had winnings in my DB kitty from one last year, so it was free. Double win if I win.

I also updated my #GoTheDist goals so they are as follows:

  • Q1, beat 2013’s Q4 totals since I seem to like beating myself (in a positive way). Totals for 4Q were:
    • 641,913 steps
    • 269.41 miles walked
    • 55.16 miles on the bike

    So my Q1 2014 goals are: 700,000 steps, 300 miles walked and 75 miles on the bike. Those are totally random numbers (not a %) so we’ll see how they go. I’m off to a good start on the bike with 10.68 miles yesterday and am bummed I’m snowed in and can’t get to the gym today.

  • Annual: 1100 miles walked (200 1Q, 4Q and 350 apiece for 2,3Q). Yes, that contradicts my math above. Oh well
  • 2.5m steps. I actually think I could hit 3m, but I’m underestimating since I don’t have a full year’s worth of step data to work with.

And as I mentioned above, snow day! Can I go play and count that for #GoTheDist?