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The U.E.S. Journal

Tag Archives: New York

NYC–>LA Transplant Tip: Two Driving Hazards They Don’t Teach You About in Driver’s Ed

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When I got my driver’s license at 31 and started driving alone for the first time, I began encountering two types of potentially dangerous situations about which no friend, instructor, driver’s manual or internet forum had warned me.

Having spent my first thirty years (minus the few before I could walk) as a pedestrian in New York City, I learned to tune out the constant wailing of ambulances and fire trucks. Unless an emergency vehicle was about to cut through my walking path perpendicularly, the siren sound’s only relevance was to make me sometimes wonder what catastrophe had befallen someone who wasn’t me. In highschool, we actually had an assembly where a troupe of performers encouraged us to hear that common car alarm tune that goes from oscillating cries to robot-like beeps to a sort of slide whistle, as a song and they taught us dance moves to go along with each part. Such was the drive to reinterpret sounds of alarm into something benign. In a city as dense as New York, if you don’t learn to at least ignore those noises, you’ll be on edge all the time.

Now, behind the wheel, I still think of the siren as something to tune out, a distant cry in a Law and Order episode. I only really get it once the cars in front of me mysteriously slow down and pull to the side. And then there’s still a slow-motion thought process:

Hey! Wait a minute! What’s that guy doing? What’s that other guy doing? What’s going on? … Oh… Right… Shit! Is there room for me to pullover? I’m not sure!

By the time I slow down and pull to the shoulder or parking lane the ambulance has figured out a way around me and my fumbling maneuver was an empty gesture.

Pulling over to yield to an emergency vehicle is one thing in a manual, it’s another in real life. So far, the scenario has not occurred with enough frequency to break my 30-year habit of ignoring sirens. I hope that writing about it here will make this important rule sink in.

While my first unexpected driving hazard is heralded by a warning sound I should heed but do not, the second hazard functions oppositely. I have SIRIUS satellite radio in my car and I switch back and forth between NPR and BBC. It seems like BBC correspondents are always interviewing people on the street during rush hour. In India, China, London… there is so much traffic that it’s all a driver can do to honk out their frustration. Or, is it a tradition to honk at BBC reporters? I’ve stopped short more than once at an alarmingly urgent beeeep meant for some poor driver on the other side of the earth. But, the more time I’ve spent listening to BBC the easier it’s become to hear these horns as background noise. It’s been far harder to break the habit of not paying attention to very real sirens.

The hazards are not the ambulances or radio programs, but my habits, my non-driver ways of processing sound and confusing real and fake signs of danger.  Much of the California driver’s manual is geared toward teen drivers. Perhaps the DMV should add some instructions specifically for late-bloomer drivers.  I’m sure these dangerous habits will change in time like some of my other pre-Los Angeles habits have. Last time I was back in New York City I had to relearn to jaywalk!

P.S. When you’re taking the road test and you come to a yield sign, crane your neck all the way around really exaggeratedly even if you think you saw out of the corner of your eye that no cars were coming. I just saved you a few points.
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NYC->LA Transplant Tip: The Right Watering Can

We never had plants at my parents’ apartment in New York City. In fact, my mom is offended by the presumption of guests who bring fragranced flowers as a gift. I’ve been in Los Angeles for three years, and since we moved to Highland Park in October I’ve acquired a porch-full of potted succulents through estate sales, Craigslist and local grocery stores. I’ve learned to water them when they start to look ill. I even talk to them. But, I don’t have it in me to regularly clean the watering can.

Last week I noticed that a mess of leaves and yard debris had accumulated inside the can. I turned it upside down and shook but nothing came out. I reached my hand in to grab the stuff but recoiled at the feel of something sticky like cotton-candy.

It was time to give the can a good wash. In the kitchen, I ran a lot of precious LA tap-water through it but the bits of dried leaves and petals stayed suspended in the middle, vibrating slightly. Then, out of the tip of the spout, a big brown spider sidled out, glaring at me with its presence (do spiders have eyes?) for several seconds before hustling back inside.

In a panic, I filled the can with dish washing liquid, ran another minute’s worth of tap water, shook it violently, reached in with a paper towel, but everything was still stuck in a sticky, silky, messy web, even the spider. And, I didn’t have the room or the co-ordination to maneuver the paper towel effectively while being grossed out. So, I put the can in the backyard, ceding the territory to the spider, and decided to buy a new watering can.

Actually, I was determined to buy a used watering can to avoid contributing to the proliferation of cheap stuff in the world. I was tempted by many elegant and whimsical designs on eBay but they were all potential spider houses and I couldn’t pull the trigger. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by this whole ordeal. One of the first songs I learned as a child was “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” but I never understood its real-world implications. Also, the song is not accurate. Water does not wash a spider out.

Then, while shopping for toilet paper at Target, I found the perfect watering can. Its wide open top probably uses less plastic (pat on the back) than most, and its rare anti-spider function will make it a family heirloom. I’d have to neglect it for months before a spider would dare take up residence inside. This less than six dollar can is so exclusive it’s not even listed on Target’s website but you can find it elsewhere by searching for “Arrow Stackable Watering Can.” By the way, this stackable can was made in the U.S.A. of Polypropylene (Plastic #5).

Spider House and Waterinc Can

P.S. The new watering can is very difficult to pour without water gushing out everywhere. Still worth it.

SOMNIAC

Photo by Julia Nasser taken on the Upper East Side.

Upper East Side Nightlife

Raccoon family on Fifth Ave and 86th Street

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some 87th street pl8z

2 Midnite

Sent by Jeff Fichera:

Biffy, Meow3 and more…

Some UES pl8tz

And from other neighborhoods…
The kind of name I’d use for a folder on my computer:

My brother’s favorite Robert Plant album:


Solve These?

Both on the U.E.S.

Now, C Here, Jamba Juice! U have 2 wear ur Orange Letter!

The last time I vomited was also the last time I ate at Jamba Juice on Lexington Ave and 87th Street, two years ago.  It was the oatmeal with some sort of “berry” topping.  Granted, I was hungover, but I have never on any other occasion in my life vomited in association with alcohol consumption.

Anyhoo, I felt vindicated when I saw this Jamba Juice had received a “C” on their restaurant report card from the city health inspector.  I took this picture on March 8, 2011.

BUT! Only a few days later the orange “C” was gone and nothing has replaced it still, as of April 2.  WTF?

I had to add my own C.

NYC restaurant report card website

More information on food safety inspection here.

107th Infantry Memorial on Fifth Avenue


This summer, I was walking up Fifth Avenue past 66th Street and happened to gaze up at one of those bronze memorial statues scattered throughout the city.  It was mostly backlit and hard to see and so at first my eye only caught a glimpse of one area which stopped me- the anguished facial expression of a charging soldier- the third soldier from the right.  I looked longer at all the characters and the movement and realized that this statue is quite horrifying- in a way that makes me want to research it further so I can better appreciate what it is represents.  So…

This bronze statue, The 107th Infrantry Memorial, memorializes foot soldiers from the 107th Infrantry, a New York National Guard Regiment of volunteers which, during World War 1 suffered 1,918 casualties including 580 killed.  The statue’s designer, Karl Illava, (1896-1954) served in the 107th, himself, as a sergeant.

The 107th Infantry Regiment has an interesting New York history.  The 107th was actually known as the 7th Infantry Regiment until World War 1 when it was strengthened by transfers from other New York regiments.  Since the Civil War the 7th Infantry Regiment had sometimes been referred to as the Silk Stocking Regiment because a large proportion of its members were young men from elite Manhattan society including members of the Vanderbilt and Roosevelt families. Read more →

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