Sunday, November 26, 2006

Turkey, Family and Packing

Thanksgiving weekend was great!

Most planned moment: my mom cooking an "emergency back-up turkey" to be used in case of a turkey disaster.

Most delicious moment: the first bite of my dad's stuffing with apples and dried cherries and my mom's refrigerator mashed potatoes (potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese.)

Funniest moment: my sister explaining to my mama the idea behind the MTV program: "Yo mama"
"Yo Mama's like a ferris wheel at an amusement park, everybody's been for a ride."

Biggest surprise: our Michigan friends bringing their dog...bringing the number of turkey-hungry bichons in the house to 3!

Best moment: sitting down around the dinner table with close family friends from here and Michigan. Isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about:-)

The rest of my weekend was spent getting ready to move at the end of the week. My room was a disaster! Among the strange discoveries that the cleaning revealed: a Barbie and Ken doll, high school German notes, and a bunch of pre-Euro European currency. There was also lots of stuff from my old office and apartment that was repacked and will find its way to NYC. (Though the giant “A slice of American life has a German filling” German-American day cake poster will not be re-hung in my office.)

Now it’s back to the commute (the last week!) and work. Send me your good weather vibes; my move-in weather is supposed to be rainy, then cold and possibly snowy…always an adventure:-)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Work closed early yesterday so I was able to do a bit of holiday sightseeing in the city before heading home.

My first stop was the balloon staging area for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Hundreds of my closest friends and I piled out of the 81st street subway stop and into a parade machine. Helium tanks and volunteers were already in high gear, unrolling, inflating and then tying down the giant balloons. Interestingly, the country is currently experiencing a helium shortage, but the parade arranged its supply long ago and was set. The balloons were at different stages of inflation when I saw them at 3:30pm. Sponge Bob Square Pants was done, Ronald McDonald and the Energizer Bunny were well on their way and Super Grover was just beginning his transformation from a pile of fabric into a parade balloon. A public information officer said it would take 90 minutes for Grover to totally inflate. This morning (if the balloons can fly because of the weather) each balloon will be handled by 80 handlers and 12 pilots. [note: I was so excited to see the balloons that my new goal is to have networked myself into the city well enough to be allowed to volunteer as a balloon handler next year...stay tuned:-)] Above the street, people in three or four apartments could be seen cleaning their windows to provide optimal viewing for the big day. A Central Park West apartment, I think I could handle that:-)

What was not as cool as I thought it would be was the David Blaine stunt. Hang a guy off a crane in a normal city and it would be big news. I expected tourists would be flocking to him. But in Times Square, where thousands of tourists are crammed into a few blocks to shop and see Broadway plays, Blaine blended into the crowd.

"Excuse me officer, do you know where David Blaine is?" I asked one of New York's finest
"Yeah, he up there," she giggled
"Where?" I asked, cocking my head into the sky, expecting to see him dangling above.
As it turned out, he was a few blocks away, down a side street.
When I finally found the spot where he is shackled into a gyroscope 4 stories above the ground, I was bummed to discover that he was just hanging there, looking like DaVinci's Vitruvian Man (only not naked--now that would be something to see!)

Well it is 6:45am and my dad already has our turkey in the roaster. My parents have worked like crazy to get everything set for our dinner for 13 today. I can't wait for our guests and dinner!


Pre-Holiday Musings

The city is really gearing up into holiday mode—Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas! Among the highlights:

- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is celebrating its 80th march through Manhattan this year. The weather report does not look good for the giant balloons—rain and high winds are forecast. Still, I am going to head over to the Museum of Natural History, where they blow up the balloons between 3 and 10pm today, to see what I can see. (check back for pictures)

- David Blaine has teamed up with Target and plans to suspend himself over Times Square. As the stunt goes, he will try to free himself from shackles attaching him to gyroscope. If he does so before the "Target 2-Day Sale" on Black Friday then 100 kids, in connection with the Salvation Army, get to go on a shopping spree. Perhaps I will pay Mr. Blaine a visit later this afternoon!

- Charmin Toilet Paper has set up 20 fancy, public toilets at Times Square that will be open between now and New Years Eve. Even the mayor thinks this is a great idea for the “restroom challenged city.” Apparently the city has plans for public pay toilets (a la City Toilette in Berlin) but those won’t be installed until next year.

- The New York Times has issued etiquette recommendations to get you through the holidays. They gave 25 recommendations. Among my favorites:
1.Don’t talk politics at the table, tell off-color jokes or reignite old family feuds. (Politics usually has to be a no-go zone with my family, but as for jokes, bring ‘em on!)

2.Don’t talk on your cell phone or send text messages during the gathering. (okay, fine, I will leave my Blackberry in the kitchen.)

3.If it is your custom to say grace before dinner, by all means do so. But don’t force people to hold hands or say “Amen.” (good to remember.)

4.Lipstick may be applied at the table if only close friends or family are present, and even then ask politely before you whip out Midnight Mocha. (I vehemently disagree with this)

5.It doesn’t really matter which way dishes are passed, as long as they all head in the same direction. But to be technically correct, pass to the right (why this is always so difficult?)

Save travels, if you are heading out today or tomorrow. Good luck cooking the turkey if you are staying home...Gobble, gobble;-)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Solution to graffiti

As those who know me know, graffiti is a pet peeve of mine. I don't buy the argument that graffiti artists are just expressing themselves or making a statement. As I see it, you do not have the right to express yourself on property that does not belong to you. With that in mind, check out the video below.

I think Berlin should consider doing this!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

O' Tannenbaum, O' Tannenbaum

The temperature earlier this week may have indicated Easter time, but the spirit at Rockefeller Center was all Christmas.

Last week a 88-foot tall (26 meter) tree made its way from Connecticut to Midtown, where it will serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. The official lighting ceremony (rumored to be a packed madhouse) takes place on the 29th. I can't wait to see the final product, but watching the preparations was equally amazing to be sure.

As you can see, scaffolding has been constructed around the entire tree. The Swarovski crystal star is already in place at the top of the tree, but workers are currently stringing lights.

Most remarkably, they are also stapling and nailing cuttings and branches from the base of the tree into the bald spots higher up. Learning this was a bummer...not because it seems a bit Hollywood, but rather because as I saw the cuttings bundled together, I had grand visions of Rockefeller Center Christmas greens in my flower boxes and was trying to decide what it would take to bribe the tree guys into letting me have some. Oh well!

So now I am really starting to get into the Christmas mood! Perhaps it's time to pull up some Christmas tunes on my IPod and get singing! I need to get shopping too, but have implemented a shopping verbot until after I relocate-- no reason to move anything more than absolutely necessary!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My New Neighbors in Sin City

Apparently my new neighbors won't all look like Tony from Who's the Boss or Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show. No, my new neighborhood's claim to fame is being the home to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Over 3,000 Jehovah's Witnesses live and work at the Watchtower headquarters. The group moved to Brooklyn in 1909 and has been growing in prominence and size ever since.

I must admit that I don't know much about this group/religion/sect/whatever. Growing up, I remember they freaked me (and my sister) out when they would come proselytizing to our front door. My sister and I also found it strange that the neighbor girl's mom (who was a Jehovah's Witness) would go on vacation instead of celebrating birthdays and Christmas.

Multiple real estate brokers told me that the Jehovah's Witnesses really do influence the area. They can be seen coming out of the subway each morning and leaving each evening, conservatively dressed and always heading to and from their headquarters near the Brooklyn Bridge. From what I have read online, the group is not super beloved in the community because they have wanted to buy up large chunks of property and don't patronize the local businesses. As one newspaper said, "In New York City, America's capital of hedonism, the Jehovah's Witnesses stand out like prudish parents at a toga party."

I will be very interested to see if this is much ado about nothing or whether you can really sense their presense in the neighborhood.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

So much good news

1. My mom’s birthday was on Tuesday—Election Day. “Happy birthday to mom, happy birthday to mom, the Democrats won Congress, happy birthday to mom!!”

2. The Democrats won Congress… actually I am not convinced that this is good news for Democrats. Now they can’t just complain about Republicans; they have to do something. Still, my senator was sent packing and humble pie is on the menu at certain houses in DC. I’ll take it:-)

3. Today is November 9—the 17th anniversary of one of my favorite moments in history…when the Berlin Wall came down!! Since Germans are always apprehensive to celebrate the day, (understandably because of the Night of Broken Glass) allow me to congratulate the country on its November 9, 1989 activities!

Just out of curiosity, I checked the NYT to see what else was happening on that day:
- Much like today, the press was still sorting out the November 7 election-- David Dinkins just barely beat Rudy Giuliani in the NYC Mayoral race and Virginia elected an African American Democratic governor.
- The Lincoln Savings and Loan Scandal was plaguing Congress
- Americans and Japanese agreed to work together on "the next generation of video technology," high definition tv.

4. Today is Friday! Okay, you're right, it’s Thursday. But as I have off for Veterans Day tomorrow, I get to pretend today is Friday:-)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Diwali

On a cold Saturday night, I approached a house where little tea lights illuminated the walkway to the front door. Inside there were joyful people celebrating the festival of lights. No, I was not celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, but rather Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Anuradha invited me to this wonderful celebration, complete with delicious Indian food, fun company and gambling. Her family friends were great fun to talk to and the card game was a blast (even though I got creamed!)

I am currently in DC on business, which is great! I'm learning a bunch, I'm not at my desk and my Papa John's pizza and Singapore Bistro dinner have been put on my expense account!!! Today I'm off for lunch with my old colleagues. Business trips are a good thing!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

The blogosphere is unbelievable! I feel so loved:-)

Brooklyn Heights Blog

Scroll down to see what yesterday's headline on the Brooklyn Heights Blog was.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The security deposit, first month's rent and broker fees have been paid and...the lease to my new apartment has been signed!!! Did you hear the giant sigh of relief coming from NYC around 2pm yesterday?

Here are some pictures of my gemuetlich new apartment:

The front of the building. It was built in the 1800's.

The front door. There was originally a giant stoop from the sidewalk up to the top of the door you now see. But like many other brownstones in the area, the stairs were removed in the early 1900's so that the brownstone could be turned into a multi-family building. It apparently costs $80,000 to replace stoops and upwards of $25,000 for traditional brownstone front doors.

Staircase to the parlor level

The kitchen is in a closet immediately as you walk in the front door. I don't think shopping in bulk at Sams Club will be in my future!

The living be kept much cleaner when I move in!! The bedroom is through the door to the left

The bedroom...the current tenent has a queen-sized bed in the loft and a desk behind the dresser. I plan to keep the bed on the floor!

the garden in the back of the building. It's called Valentine's Park and is named after one of the original owners of the house.