Archive for April, 2017

Service of Encounters on Public Transport

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Photo: pinterest

Photo: pinterest

Just last week I had two pleasant encounters on the NYC subway. These tend to happen less frequently these days with people’s eyes fixed on messages and games in smartphones or with minds distracted by entertainments coming through ear pods. If they talk it is to others on the phone. Maybe people are increasingly afraid of confrontation with strangers.

Friday Night
I was late to a dinner party waiting for a subway on an unfamiliar line so I asked a man on the platform if the B and D trains stopped at 86th and Central Park West. The 30-something removed his ear bud and said “You want the B or C–don’t take the D or any train that stops on the other side of the platform.” [The crosstown bus driver had told me to look for B and D.]

As time went on, with no train –we were at a station without electronic notification of the timing of the next one’s arrival–he kept the ear bud dangling on his shirt and we began to chat. He worried that he’d be late for his 7 pm restaurant reservation and I said, “You’ll be asked to wait at the bar most likely.” He shrugged and agreed. I went on, “My father threw a fit when asked to do that. He’d point to his watch and he’d repeat the time of his reservation and would demand a table. He was correct; nevertheless those with him wanted to disappear.”

Photo: huffingtonpost.com

Photo: huffingtonpost.com

The young man twisted his face in a grimace, “My mother returns every dish,” he said. “She’ll say, ‘it’s not what I expected–there’s something about it that I don’t like.’” I noted that I miss my father and that I’m glad his mother is still here to do her restaurant thing. He agreed and as he left the car at 81st Street, he waved goodbye and wished me a good evening. I don’t know about him but the distraction was what the doctor ordered as I’d forgotten my anxiety both about being late and the potential confrontations awaiting me at dinner.

Saturday Afternoon
Weekends are the worst time to take a subway in NYC as nothing works but on Saturday, it was pouring when I had to get to the west side so I ducked in a station at Lexington and 51st. A middle aged couple came up to me and a young woman also waiting on the platform. The man, with an English accent, asked if this train was heading downtown. Turned out that we were going to the same part of town. We could have gone directly in one stop had the E train been working.

Photo: Brokelyn

Photo: Brokelyn

They were from London. We named our favorite cities–the wife’s was New York, said her husband, and we named London and Paris, but he didn’t declare his. We got out of the Lexington Avenue train at 42nd Street and on the walk to the Shuttle—the second of three lines we had to take–I mumbled that New York can seem like it’s falling apart sometimes. He snickered and mentioned our President followed briskly and politely by a reference to Brexit. Shrugs all ‘round.

One stop on the 7th Avenue subway took them a block from Radio City, their destination. I was happy I could do for tourists what countless others do for us when we travel.

Do you have any interesting encounters to share during train, plane or bus travels? Have you noticed, in NYC at least, that they happen less frequently than years ago?

Photo: foursquare.com

Photo: foursquare.com

Service of Microchips for Humans

Monday, April 24th, 2017

 

Photo: medium.com

Photo: medium.com

I’m too chicken to pierce my ears yet I’d consider getting a microchip implanted under the skin of one of my hands.

Charles Osgood [photo center, below] spoke about microchips in people on The Osgood File. He said they had potential for use by buildings that use access keycard IDs; to open office doors and unlock smartphones. Magic happens with a swipe of a hand. “All of this information may be reduced to a microchip about the size of a grain of rice,” he said on the radio. The result is a reduction of cards, keys and time spent now to punch in or activate codes that open a bunch of things.

Photo: metro.co.uk

Photo: metro.co.uk

Osgood’s news colleague John Blackstone reported that volunteers in a building in Stockholm are already using the chip. Blackstone said: “The microchips are Radio Frequency Identification Tags – the same technology widely used in things like keycards. The chips have been implanted in animals for years to help identify lost pets. Now, the technology is moving to humans.”

 

Lock on our office door is on the left, by the floor.

Lock on our office door is on the left, by the floor.

We must kneel on the floor to  unlock the door to our office [see photo at left]. Think how much easier a swipe of the hand would be, were the appropriate access keycard ID installed.

One of the volunteers who appreciates the convenience calls himself a “biohacker.” He warned: “It’s very easy to hack a chip implant – so my advice is don’t put your life secrets on a chip implant.”

According to Osgood, Ian Shore, executive editor at CNET, objected to the “nonstop potential connection to my body. I can’t turn it off, I can’t put it away, it’s in me. That’s a big problem.”

Blackstone added: “But biohackers also predict the next generation of chips will save lives by monitoring health and fitness. For now, ‘being chipped’ means never having to say you’re sorry you forgot your keycard.”

I’d not want to be one of the first for this mini operation. I’d want to see if there was a rash of people hacking off hands to get access to a person’s office, bank account, smartphone etc. Mr. Osgood didn’t mention this. Admittedly I watch too many episodes of “Blue Bloods,” and “Law and Order SVU” but I also imagine the chips will be handy in law enforcement. Think of yourself locked in the trunk of a car driven by a thief and how the chip might help the police find you.

Would you consider having a microchip installed under your skin? What do you predict the pros and cons to be?

Photo: cbsnews.com

Photo: cbsnews.com

Service of Removing Shoes Indoors for Cleanliness or Health

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

 

Photo: soucybaron.com

Photo: soucybaron.com

I have always removed my shoes when entering my or anyone else’s home or apartment if I’ve just walked in mud, snow, or if my shoes are rain-soaked. Water and muck don’t mix well with wood floors, clean carpets or fine rugs. If I don’t have a pair of dry shoes with me I’ll walk around in socks or tights.

This practice almost broke the back of an otherwise blossoming relationship. It angered my boyfriend and his visiting family members who thought my request that they do the same when they visited me in inclement weather was irritating, irrational and absurd. I’d been told I couldn’t refinish the floors anymore and was therefore facing an exorbitant cost to replace potentially ruined wood and I didn’t want to accelerate the carpet cleaning schedule. So I put my foot down.

It’s far too late to say “aha!” but it turns out that while my reasons were related only to the health of my apartment and its fine rugs—and not to my wellbeing or that of my family—taking off your shoes when indoors is “good hygiene,” according to Ezequiel Minaya. In his Wall Street Journal article, “Is it Healthier to Remove Your Shoes at Home? It’s considered polite in some households, but are there more practical reasons for going shoeless inside?” turns out the answer is YES.

Photo: styleforum.net

Photo: styleforum.net

He wrote: “Shoes are a menagerie of microorganisms, sometimes carrying dangerous bacteria, says Kevin W. Garey, chairman of the department of pharmacy practice and translational research at the University of Houston. Bacteria can be very hardy.”

Unless you’re vulnerable—already ill, very old or young–you probably won’t get sick from the bugs that walk into your home. “But avoiding pathogenic bacteria that can cause illnesses from diarrhea to meningitis is easy, Dr. Garey says. Just take your shoes off. ‘It’s amazing how far humans travel during the day, and all that walking drags in germs and bugs,’ he says.”

Photo: goodhousekeeping.com

Photo: goodhousekeeping.com

Dr. Garey has recently published a study on Clostridium difficile—known as C.diff—that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported caused 29,000 deaths in the US six years ago from almost half a million infections. He found 2,500+ samples in the Houston area alone of which more than 25 percent collected in homes was on the soles of shoes. “And that’s just one bacterium. In an earlier investigation, Dr. Garey examined past studies to learn if ‘shoe soles are a vector for infectious pathogens.’ The answer was a resounding yes,” wrote Minaya.

The reporter added that researchers in other countries found a significant amount of Listeria and E.coli on shoes.

Do you ever take off your shoes when you visit others or when you walk in the door at home? If yes, is it out of tradition—as in Japan or Turkey—or for comfort, cleanliness or health reasons?

Photo: brokenquiet.wordpress.com

Photo: brokenquiet.wordpress.com

Service of Genetic Tests: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Photo Brockpress.com

Photo Brockpress.com

Most of my friends and colleagues present themselves for medical tests and checkups when they should while I drag my feet attending to only the most essential. My philosophy: Who wants to know?

So it would be very unlikely for me to send away to 23andMe at any time in my life to learn whether one or more of the 10 diseases the company tests for, such as late-onset Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, will afflict me.

There are many chomping at the bit to find out and now the FDA says that they can: No more need to pass by a genetic counselor or through a doctor for the privilege. Spit into a receptacle to provide a sample of saliva; send $199 and voila—you’ll soon know about how or if you relate to any of the 10.

Jessica Boddy, NPR summarized info on an FDA press release: “The testsBlood pressure test assess genetic risk for the conditions but don’t diagnose them, the FDA says. The agency urges consumers to use their results to ‘help to make decisions about lifestyle choices or to inform discussions with a health care professional.’”

The FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health director Jeffrey Shuren said “‘it is important that people understand that genetic risk is just one piece of the bigger puzzle, it does not mean they will or won’t ultimately develop a disease.’ Other known factors that can play into the development of disease include diet, environment and tobacco use.” 

Photo: thefactfile.org

Photo: thefactfile.org

We already know about the importance of a healthy diet and the risks of tobacco use as they relate to all sorts of diseases–so nothing new here–and I can’t do much about my environment. Loosening regulations on power plants and reducing fuel efficiency standards for cars is going to impact everyone in a bad way. I wonder if people in 45’s administration realize that they, their children and grandchildren might suffer as a result?

Referring to test results Boddy quoted a Harvard Medical School professor who warned that the “information is complicated.”

Nobody in the article spoke up for those who don’t want to know. Do you want to learn what your genetic makeup indicates might happen? Would you be irritated if at 68 you sold your house and all your belongings to move into an adult care facility and found yourself at 95 in great form still with no signs of late-onset Alzheimer’s? Would knowing spoil what’s left of your life be it 20 or 70 years? Would you cancel your marriage plans if you wanted to have children and you learned that both you and your intended had similar genetic indicators for a nasty disease?

 

Photo: reference.com

Photo: reference.com

 

Service of Nice

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

 

John Wyeth at Harlem Link School

John Wyeth at Harlem Link School

 

Telling someone that their blind date is “nice” was, in the day, code for the man/woman is either ugly, dumb, addicted to some substance or a combination. That was in my salad days.

Over the years, as the literal “nice” applies to increasingly fewer people, the word has come to mean what it should and is positive and precious to me.

Given my appreciation of all things nice, you’ll soon see why I jumped when I read a good friend Deirdre Wyeth’s Facebook post about the school at which her dear husband John had worked and the reason I asked if I might post what they did to remember him. John died last fall, far too soon.

Deirdre wrote on Facebook: “The wonderful people at Harlem Link Charter School, where John worked for almost 10 years, held a celebration this evening in memory of him. There were in-person and video tributes, a song by one of the students, and a buffet based on what he brought for lunch every day: pb&j, wheat thins and grapes in a brown bag.

“They also created a plaque for him [photo below]. And especially wonderful, they announced they will name an award for a graduating student in his honor – and the award is for niceness. How perfect is that? Such a moving and emotional evening. Thanks to all!”

On its website Harlem Link describes itself as a “Pre-K to 5 public charter school that has offered a high quality educational choice to families in Harlem since 2005. Our school attains high levels of academic achievement in a safe, nurturing environment through a well-rounded curriculum.” In another section I read: “We also pay attention to details that too many public schools ignore, such as the consistency with which teachers use language from grade to grade to build a common culture and the quiet tone of our hallways.”

Quiet hallways. Wow. What’s quiet in NYC and with children around?

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Being nice was just one of the wonderful and particular things about John. In addition to writing plays and being a topnotch school administrator, he loved ragtime and being a dad. Of the many children in his life his brilliant, lovely daughter May benefited most from his creativity, composure and his pride in her accomplishments.

The Nice Award caught my attention for another reason. I’ve mentioned before that I was designated “Best Camper” at my overnight camp at aged 8, a concept considered so yesterday in today’s competitive world. The tangible reward was a magnificent, special lollipop—I’d not tasted a more delicious one before nor have I since. I think the recognition was for similar reasons as the John Wyeth Nice Award. I relate and am pleased to see appreciation for such characteristics returning.

We mostly reward celebrity, financial success, physical beauty, the four star restaurant and the people who get all A’s. How many institutions recognize–and honor–the nicest person in the group?

John Wyeth Plaque

Service of Dress Codes

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Photo: vimeo.com

Photo: vimeo.com

I’m late to the discussion of whether or not the United Airlines gate agent was right or wrong to refuse two teens’ entrance to a flight because they wore leggings that were considered inappropriate dress. Nevertheless I still wanted to chime in. I wrote about a similar subject last September referencing a radio talk show host’s wish that airline crews would be more assertive in refusing entrance to passengers who were dressed in clothing with offensive messages, in outlandish décolleté and the like.

Regarding leggings, I see people out in public in NYC who shouldn’t be wearing them anywhere but the gym. They are easy to maintain and less expensive than some fashion alternatives which no doubt accounts for their popularity.  But would you wear your bathing suit on the street if you were going to the Y for a swim?

One woman on the subway with an unusually beautiful face and hair had thighs the size of wine casks—I’ve rarely seen such huge limbs–and she proudly wore lycra leggings with no jacket or shirt to cover an inch of them. 

Photo flagship.com

Photo flagship.com

Back to the gate agent: The airline had rules that if you were a “pass rider,” as the evicted teens were, you were subject to a certain dress code because you were given a deep dish discount thanks to your friend or family relationship to an employee.

In this case, I side with the airline: If you accept their gift, they hold the cards. Pay full price and dress as you like.

Children in uniformMy siding with the airlines happens for a lot of reasons. First, I believe in rules: you break them at your own risk. Second, I wore a uniform for grades 1 through 12 and we were told we represent the school when dressed in identifiable clothes. Although it’s impossible to tell who paid what for the ticket they hold, and therefore who represents the airline, United presented a similar argument in designing its regulation.

The good news: With rules like United’s at least a fraction of the travelers will be required to exhibit some kind of respectability. Who wants to be subjected to the repulsive appearance of fellow passengers while confined in the space of a plane? We appreciate our freedoms but people can’t be trusted to use common sense. I can hear a chorus of “Who determines what is and isn’t appropriate anyway?” My response, arrogant though it may sound, “if you have to ask, you’ll never understand.” Do you agree?

freedom

Service of Getting a Leg Up

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Getting a leg up

Jared Kushner’s responsibilities in running the country continue to expand to the point that even some conservative talk show hosts, like Todd Schnitt on the WOR Radio morning show, question the background, aptitude, experience and competence of 45’s son- in-law to handle so much. During a recent program Schnitt noted that Kushner’s Dad had paid for his spot at Harvard.

This comment inspired today’s post. Kushner’s not alone.

I looked into the allegation. Daniel Golden corroborated it. Golden penned “The Story Behind Jared Kushner’s Curious Acceptance Into Harvard” on Mother Jones as well as the book “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way Into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets left Outside the Gates.”

Lend a helping handIn Mother Jones Golden wrote: “My book exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their underachieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school. At the time, Harvard accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes 1 out of 20.)

“I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.”

I once knew a sculptor who said she felt guilty because she’d inherited a ton of money and wasn’t the typical starving artist and thought, because she could afford a fancy studio and had a fat marketing budget that this would slow her road to success.

Photo: bigartfest.com

Photo: bigartfest.com

I also benefited from a leg up and took good advantage. My sister was accepted at one of NYC’s most prestigious and tough-to-get-into private schools and because they loved sisters, daughters and granddaughters to attend, I profited. At five I could play canasta, checkers and dance the Charleston, also thanks to her, but doubt that this had anything to do with my admittance. Surely any tests I took—tests being my downfall—would not have been a key inside.

We haven’t yet seen what Kushner is capable of. Maybe we’ll be lucky. The sculptor was lazy and because she wasn’t hungry her inheritance was probably more of a hindrance than a help to her career as an artist. I work as hard as I do largely because of a dozen years at that school. As we often read in corporate reports, I “exceeded expectations,” [though in my experience, in corporate speak, that  could mean that I fell short. In this instance, I’m taking the words at face value.]

Having an advantage doesn’t always involve money as my example illustrates. Do you think getting a leg up is right or wrong? How would you change the system if it’s wrong? Can you share other examples?

Getting a leg up 2

Service of Least Favorite Foods

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Garlic

When friend Daniel McHenry, who like me is not a fussy eater, told me the only foods he dislikes are raisins and coconut, it gave me the idea for this post.

Next I Googled the subject and found this list from Kitchen Daily of the “ten most hated foods in the US: Brussels Sprouts; Garlic; Cheese Fondue; Tofu; Celery; Oysters; Mayonnaise; Mushrooms; Licorice and Cilantro.” I didn’t read how the list was determined because my bet is that the items would change according to the backgrounds and region of the country of the people responding to the question.

The only thing I dislike on the list is tofu and I love garlic,Cilantro cheese fondue, mayo, cilantro and my husband makes great Brussels sprouts so I like them now. I might not go out of my way for a stick of celery but I don’t hate it.

Clearly the Kitchen Daily folks didn’t consult George H. W. Bush who in March 1990, according to The New York Times, “declared today that he never, ever wants to see another sprig of broccoli on his plate…” That was one of the things I remember him for along with pleas for a kinder, gentler world and “read my lips, no more taxes,” but I digress.

I would never order liver, grouse, snake, animal guts or unusual parts like brains. And in spite of the March 30 Wall Street Journal article by Annie Gasparro, “Millennial Entrepreneurs Think Americans Should Eat More Bugs,” I’ll let someone else give that trend a taste. I’m not adventurous enough to find out if I like bugs or not. I can hardly look at most when they are alive.

What about you? What foods do you avoid?

bugs to eat

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics