Archive for the ‘Common Sense’ Category

Service of Small Events Not As Important to Police as Big Ones

Thursday, January 4th, 2024

I’m in awe of how NYC rallies to protect its citizens at major events such as New Years Eve in Times Square or the Fourth of July fireworks on the East River.

But it doesn’t always do an even passable job communications-wise when confronted with an unexpected crisis or infringements on everyday safety for pedestrians.

Steaming Angry

There was a Con Edison steam line rupture recently in midtown Manhattan that spewed debris on 52nd Street between First and Second Avenues. The public was assured it was not asbestos—although it was plenty messy. We were told it would take a few days to clean up.

I’d put it out of my mind as I headed home in the evening two days later expecting to take a bus downtown when I saw that Second Avenue was closed to traffic. I walked to First Avenue and headed south.

There are a few blocks on First that I never walk in the dark so I wanted to return to Second Avenue as soon as I could. The streets are deserted and poorly lit so as soon as I thought I could go west–back to Second Avenue—I checked with one of many police people standing on First. Before walking down the block, I wanted to know if Second was open to pedestrians.

The police told me “Yes,” with great authority, on several streets. The information was wrong each time. I zig zagged back and forth in the 40s between the avenues, becoming increasingly annoyed. At one point I’d stop police for sport to see if they could inform me. Not one could tell me which block was open to pedestrians on Second Avenue.

How hard is it for headquarters to text or email key information to police assigned to an area? Why would anyone on assignment go to the scene of a problem without asking for the basics. This was two days after the drama when the heat of the crises has cooled. What good is uninformed law enforcement?

Watch Where You’re Going

It wasn’t my day to end up in hospital or worse this week. What happened is a daily occurrence in NYC.

I was crossing with the light at 33rd Street and Second Avenue and I looked for cars, bikes etc. from the right direction when a man on a motorized bike flew by from the other way—against the traffic. He must have come around the corner because I hadn’t seen him on the avenue as I waited for the light. He was so close that his jacket touched me and he continued to speed away, no apology to my “Hey!” Had I been an inch farther into the street I hate to think.

Traffic agents are all over the city in this area. Most do nothing to protect pedestrians. The speeder wasn’t stopped by the ones a block away on 34th Street.

At another crossing a half hour later a car without muffler driven by an angry driver bolted onto Third avenue, making a racket and going so fast that he would have been unable to stop had someone been crossing. The traffic agent looked around passively.

These agents should be able to call ahead to a colleague, take a photo of a license–something.

Have you experienced similar disappointments or dissatisfactions with those hired to keep things safe and streamlined?

Service of it Makes No Sense

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

There’s a lot that makes no sense to me. Look around–common sense is exceptional.

Why would a well known brand make an upgrade that complicates rather than streamlines its service? Friends telling me I have trouble with the so-called improvement–upgrade being the epitome of a misnomer in my experience–because I’m over 19 or six doesn’t fly. I used the platform in question without a glitch for 13 years. A proponent of KISS, I resent having to take many more steps, many hard to find and clicks rather than one click away, to achieve the outcome achieved prior to the upgrade. Kudos to Apple: I had no trouble using a new iPhone or iPad.

I go to Staples for print cartridges that most often they don’t have in the store so the cashier orders the one I need. It comes in a large box. [Photo right]. There must be smaller boxes for such a tiny item.

On the subject of waste, the amount of plastic and tin I toss in just a few days is frightening. [Photo left for two days worth.]

I was staring at an envelope marked “Personal and Confidential” going up in the elevator and thought, “Those words would be the reason I’d zero in on this puppy if I was in the business of stealing mail.” [Photo below.]

I laughed as I passed the “Keep Door Locked” sign on the open door a few blocks from my apartment. [Photo top.]

Have you noticed things that make no sense these days?

Service of Leaving Well Enough Alone: Why Change a Good Name?

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

I’ve written about name changes before. There have been a bunch of bridges in New York: the 59th Street Bridge aka Queensboro Bridge to Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge; the Triborough Bridge to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and this summer the Tappan Zee Bridge became the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. I wonder if map makers use both old and new names and if there have been so many changes lately because maps are rarely printed these days and digital changes are easy to do.

I have frequently griped about NY Now because it in no way describes the trade show that was formerly the New York International Gift Fair.

Some years ago Rupert Murdoch considered changing the name of The Wall Street Journal, the paper he’d bought from the Bancrofts, and he wasn’t the first. In the 1940s some names being looked at were World’s Work, The North American Journal, Business Day or Financial America. They all left well enough alone.

This wasn’t the case at the Tribune Publishing Co. that changed its name in 2016 to Tronc. The company owns the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and New York Daily News and sold the LA Times this summer.

This week it’s back to Tribune Publishing Co.

Lukas I. Alpert wrote about it in The Wall Street Journal: “When the new name was announced, the company’s then-nonexecutive chairman and largest shareholder, Michael Ferro, said the phrase was a British term for the box in which tips are collected at a restaurant and are later doled out to staff.” Nice to know—but who but anglophiles here knew the word?

Alpert continued: “The Tronc name soon became the subject of jokes on late-night TV and online. Comedian John Oliver said it sounded like ‘a stack of print newspapers being thrown into a dumpster.’”

In addition to selling the LA Times, since 2016 Ferro stepped down as chairman just before sexual misconduct charges were made public. In addition, Alpert reported that the Tribune Publishing Co. has put the remaining papers up for sale.

Should well-known companies change their names? What do you think of cutesy names for corporations? What about selecting what amounts to a foreign word for a company that does business largely in the US? What other name changes—or company names, for that matter–make little sense?

Service of What’s the Point?

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Is there something about mail that makes the people who run such services–whether traditional or online–impractical?


I was rushed when I grabbed envelopes from my handbag to mail them in a box in front of the Amenia, NY post office, population 4,436. Inadvertently I may have also tossed in the box two checks meant for someone in my office.

When I realized this a few days later, I called to ask if they’d found the checks when they emptied the box.  The postal clerk said she wouldn’t know; the mail is picked up and goes to Albany where, if they found such checks, they’d shred them.

We live in an even smaller adjacent town, population 1,434. Were I mailing something to a business or friend there, does it make sense for the letter to travel to Albany first?

Naughty Spammer, Sloppy Spam Filter

I received a warning that automatic filter systems were reporting as SPAM my twice weekly email notices highlighting posted topics on this blog. If I didn’t stop, my access to mail would be suspended.

There was a solution: I could avoid this by using a dedicated bulk mail delivery service designed to ensure regulatory compliance.I get tons of SPAM and have for years from entities many times larger than my business with far longer lists of recipients. No doubt they use services like Constant Contact, yet the mail keeps on coming even though it, too, is identified by the SPAM police as SPAM. So much for ensuring regulatory compliance, paying for someone else to perform a simple task and nevertheless being grabbed by the fingers of SPAM.

Further, those greedy fingers yank from my email box legitimate emails from clients, friends and relatives, people to whom I write weekly or daily and sometimes, even in the middle of back-and-forth correspondence.

I don’t want to be forced to pay for something I can do myself. Can you think of other instances like this?

Why does the USPS in tiny communities no longer have boxes designated for mail within the same zip code? Why must a small business be forced to buy a service it can very well do itself?

Service of Learning from Costly Medical Mistakes

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Umpteen articles and op-eds have been written about malpractice lawsuits. I found Laura Landro’s Wall Street Journal piece heartening as she described how doctors are using the information to improve care.

This approach is clearly a benefit to physicians to alleviate the number of distracting and time-consuming lawsuits made against them but as a patient, I was glad that someone is learning from the mistakes to prevent future instances. I also hope this initiative is nothing new.

In “Mining Malpractice Data to Make Health Care Safer,” Landro reports on a 2013 study that doctors spend “11 percent of a 40 year career with an unresolved, open malpractice case.” Scarier is the statistic that “250,000 deaths a year are due to medical error.” This, according to Landro, came from a recent article in BMJ that noted findings by Johns Hopkins researchers. Commonly the causes are misdiagnosis or “poor technique in a procedure.”

Landro broke out what doctors in a few specialties have learned:

  • Usually overweight mothers matched with larger babies can cause shoulder injuries to infants if they get stuck inside the mother. By identifying those who might be at risk for this set of circumstances, a hospital and doctor can address the option of a C-section early.
  • In the ER, one doctor noticed that “failure to explore a wound that was infected or contained foreign bodies was a key factor in many cases.” Now a doctor in that hospital must check a wound after a nurse or PA attends to it and before it’s sewn up. They noticed that this, alone, didn’t do the trick because sometimes they miss, say, a stingray barb. Therefore patients must be instructed to return to the hospital if they don’t feel well.
  • In cardiology, blood thinners cause problems because “patients haven’t been properly educated about the risks and didn’t understand follow up instructions.” And when more than one doctor is involved, each may think that the other one has taken care of communicating this information. The solution was to ensure all patients on blood thinners are “‘set up with effective management,’” wrote Landro, quoting Dr. Sandeep Mangalmurti, a cardiologist.
  • Follow up is also crucial in knee and hip replacement cases where patients don’t “adhere to a treatment plan or keep follow-up appointments.” A third of cases involved injury as a result. One doctor and his group use a mobile app to send reminders to patients about making appointments and follow-up procedures.

By the end of the article we read that improved communications between doctors and patients is paramount. To that I must add a loud “duh.” Isn’t this a tall order in a system in which patients see a doctor for minutes a visit and often a different doctor each time?

  • Doesn’t a lot of what the doctors found went wrong repeatedly seem like what common sense should have prevented?
  • Would you be less likely to start a medical malpractice suit if you felt the physician and his/her team had done everything possible to care for you or a loved one?
  • Have you ever felt that a health care professional treated you or a loved one indifferently—that you were lucky nothing tragic happened as a result?
  • Have you heard of initiatives that take advantage of such date, like these?

Service of Common Sense

Monday, December 21st, 2015

I tell graduate students I mentor to rely on common sense and share a conversation with a former boss I’ve mentioned before on this blog. He was in the hospital with a mystery ailment, suffering countless diagnostic tests. “Could it be phlebitis?” I asked him, remembering he’d had that when I worked for him years before. Turned out that was the problem, not some exotic disease. You didn’t need a medical degree to come up with that obvious conclusion.

Whistle in the Wind

So when I heard of Bernie Sanders’ campaign worker who accessed and copied Hilary Clinton’s voter database I thought, “Is this person tone deaf to this candidate’s clean-as-a-whistle persona?” He parked his common sense in some other candidate’s driveway.

Study the Surroundings

On a visit to The Morgan Library this Saturday, I marveled at a 3-story glass wall in the front hall [at the right of this photo]. The view captured the back of a lackluster apartment building and some serviceable, unattractive separations between unimpressive back yards. This view diminished the impact of the architectural achievement and questioned its purpose. 

In addition, a heavy door to the library and Mr. Morgan’s study opens when you push a knob on the right and surprises as it comes at you. For a distracted visitor or one who can’t back up and out of the way quickly enough, it could be dangerous.

Listen to the Expert

My hair stylist told me of a mutual friend’s folly. The woman is a recent widow who wanted a different look as her birthday approached and she ignored the stylist’s advice and had a permanent. [She lives out of town and has her hair done locally.] The stylist warned her that the procedure would not enhance her wonderful straight, thick hair. The friend compounded the recklessness by immediately dyeing her tresses, burning her hair and achieving a dramatically freaky effect. The only remedy the hair stylist could suggest was to leave mayonnaise on the hair the day of her next appointment with her coiffeur, though she didn’t hold out much hope. Hopefully the rich oils in mayo would act as a super conditioner.

Is it ego that causes employees or consultants to take actions that conflict with the boss’s approach; an architect to design a project that ignores surroundings or a woman to override an expert’s advice? Can you think of other examples?

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