Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Service of Upgrades I Like

Monday, May 20th, 2024

As I’ve so often written and said, I cringe when I see or hear the word upgrade because it usually means an unnecessarily complicated procedure that once was simple, for zero gain.

However, I’m thrilled by some changes that really do improve my life. Here are just some—many not new to me and certainly old news to most everyone else but that I’d nevertheless like to recognize:

  • A handheld, cordless water flosser. I don’t have room for the paraphernalia required of the original Waterpik.
  • Mini bagels. They may have been around for decades. I try not to eat too many of any size, and I can’t claim to be a bagel aficionado. But when I see the diminutive ones, I buy a few. They freeze well. With vegetable cream cheese, [Fairway sells one that is supposedly low fat, photo, right] and lightly toasted, the combo is indescribably scrumptious.
  • Phone in my camera. I use it for all the usual reasons as well as to photograph items by certain manufacturers, making it easy for store associates to check out the photo and point me in the right direction. It’s also great for communicating glitches and warnings on my laptop to my IT guru.
  • Air fryer. I’m very late to the game with this device but I love it now that I have it. I especially like to cook chicken legs and potato sticks. If I had more room, I’d buy a bigger one.
  • Binge watching episodes of a favorite series on PBS Passport and Netflix. Been doing it for years and appreciate the technology.

What improvements, changes or upgrades that are worth it can you list?

Service of Changing Pace of Your Dinner Menus

Thursday, April 4th, 2024

Sometimes I cheat and order takeout.

I have a pretty standard weekly dinner menu which usually includes some kind of chicken, [canned] tuna in romaine lettuce and Campari tomatoes, pasta with tomato sauce and sometimes salmon. My tiny air fryer makes yummy potato strips. If I can find Amy’s frozen margherita pizza I split it in two and punctuate the usual fare with this treat. And once or twice a winter I might make a simple version of boeuf Bourguignon.

I recently tried a recipe I picked up from The New York Times’ “Cooking” section: Peanut noodles. I already had all the ingredients: creamy peanut butter, grated parmesan, soy sauce, unsalted butter and noodles. It was delish, so simple, prepared in the time to cook the noodles and not the same-old-same-old.

One friend just brought me a basil plant and another a magnificent tomato. I added mozzarella and had the nucleus of a delicious dinner that wasn’t my usual.

I remember when, decades ago, I stopped reading Gourmet Magazine because a recipe called for me to stir a strawberry mixture outdoors over three sunny days. Who has the time and who can predict that the weather will cooperate and does everyone have an outdoor space to do this? Turned me off. But I digress.

My husband was a talented cook. I miss his creativity and the beautifully plated dishes he’d present.

To change pace, I’ll cheat and order takeout.

Have you discovered easy-to-make recipes that change the routine of your dinner menus or do you find comfort in making and serving the same things week after week?

Winter stew

Service of Change II

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

Dr. Caroline Barsoum, Integrated Aesthetic Dentistry

The word “upgrade,” the current name for change in many quarters, makes me shiver. Inevitably, as I’ve written here so many times before, when it relates to my computer, phone, laptop or tablet, it means a one or two-step process will now require four or five or a service I depended on will be eliminated. My blog’s hosting site that in 14 years never disappointed in the last two no longer provides notifications that someone has posted a comment on my blog. Thanks a lot.

Changes of doctors, hairstylists and tech support people are particularly painful for me. Patients and customers have no choice but to accept the changes as the people they depend on move away or retire.

This happened to me with my dentist. I have been haunted by horrendous teeth since toddlerhood.  I wince thinking of what my mouth cost my parents. I limp at what my dental care has cost me and still does. When my dentist of decades called to say he was retiring last summer, I was distraught. He was fabulous and did what he could to address tricky issues in the least invasive, most cost-effective way. I trusted—and liked him.

It took me months to get up the nerve to visit the practice he recommended.

IAD team

What I discovered is that dental technology has been kind to patients and the doctors Caroline Barsoum and Michael Cafarella and their team at Integrated Aesthetic Dentistry, [IAD], who collaborated to fix one of the issues in my complicated mouth, have mastered it.

In addition, there’s a palpable feeling of calm there.

I was astounded by the painless, seamless and quick implant that Dr. Cafarella installed. A few weeks ago that implant was measured for a crown. Dental impressions were done digitally. I always thought all my teeth would land in the molds of yore when the dentist pulled them—filled with a bunch of super sticky gunk–out of my mouth.

I’ve wished all my life that I could leave my head at the dentist’s office and come back in a few hours to pick it up with tooth challenges solved. This experience was the next best thing.

I must also credit the office manager Elizaira—Eli—Soto who helps the practice run like a Swiss –or perhaps Apple–watch. She whips out estimates and answers questions with speed. My former dentist, a one doctor shop, and his office manager were also quick to respond. I figured I‘d be lost in the nightmare of “press one, press two” at a practice like IAD, with multiple offices and many doctors but I’m not, thanks to super juggler Eli.

I wish I could report that all the transitions of key people who support me or my business have been as seamless and positive as this one. Do you go with the flow easily when there’s a crucial change? Any pleasant surprises?

Dr. Michael Cafarella, Integrated Aesthetic Dentistry

Service of Change

Thursday, August 19th, 2021

I passed a deli with signs on the door: “To Dine-in Proof of Covid-19 Vaccination Required.” It surprised me because the place didn’t look like a restaurant but there must be a few tables and chairs inside. This requirement is a change for New Yorkers who won’t fully feel the brunt until the winds of fall make outdoor dining less appealing. I signed up for an Excelsior Pass so that proof of my vaccines are accessible by clicking on an icon, with me when my phone is. In addition to my driver’s license, I’m set to enter any place proof is required.



Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

I get attached to people. A few months ago my hair stylist of years retired. I’m still adjusting though we’re in touch as friends. I envy women who are comfortable going to a range of hair salons. Not me.

My investment advisor also just retired. Wow! Will the roof fall in? No spring chicken, she was entitled years ago. But still: Couldn’t she hang on a little longer for me? A person’s doctor, accountant or lawyer can have the same impact when they leave the scene. Two years ago my eye doctor moved his practice out of NYC. Calamity! I miss him.

A friend suggested that Virgos don’t handle change well which is why, she explained, I find these changes disturbing. I’d be curious to know if others–born under other astrological signs–feel as I do over a change of doctor, hair stylist, stock broker, lawyer, accountant or other key person. Do you?

Service of When You Weren’t Looking

Monday, June 7th, 2021

New plaza where Vanderbilt Avenue used to be.

If you plan to revisit the Big Apple for the first time since last year you may notice that your favorite watering holes or gift stores are gone. But you’ll see lots that’s new such as a range of creative to clumsy semi-permanent street and sidewalk restaurants and florist satellites. All through the pandemic florists started selling coffee and snacks eaten at  tables and chairs in front.

Last week I was surprised by a plaza where a street used to be on Vanderbilt Avenue off 42nd outside Grand Central Terminal [photos above and below]. Cars lose with this transformation: They can no longer turn right, uptown, on Vanderbilt. But it looks nice.

Speaking of change, there’s a distinct lack of bright yellow accents on the city landscape–hardly any cabs anymore. I’ve noticed it on my walks as well as from my apartment windows where I see several blocks south on First Avenue. Turns out my observations are accurate. In “Where Did All The Yellow Cabs Go?” on curbed.com Jack Denton wrote “Two-thirds of our yellow street-hail cabs are gone.”

He reported “Before the pandemic, some 10,500 yellow cabs — about 80 percent of the total number of taxi medallions issued by the city — were in the streets each day. During the peak of lockdown, in April 2020, that number was 982.”  The number continues to be around 3,500 as it has been since last summer.

Denton quoted Steve Gounaris who owns a fleet of 180 who said: “‘How are you going to make a car payment, medallion payment, insurance, workers’ comp, labor — when you’re putting them out there for less than what it costs you?'” To avoid considerable fees for maintaining a license, “$9,600 in car insurance, $2,500 workman’s compensation insurance, $400 commercial motor-vehicle tax,” fleet owners “Put their medallions ‘in storage'” by giving them back to the Taxi & Limousine Commission.

When you’ve returned to a town or city you’ve been forced to ignore for a year, or in reconnoitering your neighborhood, what changes–good and bad–have taken place?

Plaza outside Grand Central Terminal.

 

Service of Changing Taste: Is it the Pandemic?

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

I have always loved to shop or at least to look, but that has changed.

One new piece of clothing for summer and winter–a new blouse, sweater, pair of slacks, handbag or skirt–would make my season and me happy. I’m very good at finding bargains. A favorite pair of slacks cost $19 at TJ Maxx a year ago. Uniqlo has fun items to spruce up a mood for little more. And an online store, stylewe.com, was once a joy to peruse. It sends frequent emails all unopened.

These days I’m not tempted to look even if a store I like promotes drastic discounts. How could a lifelong passion disappear? Is it because I don’t foresee an occasion in which to wear something new, my savings have evaporated, I don’t want to face sanitizing another package–or what? A friend wrote: “When I open a package or letter I feel like I’m preparing for surgery.”

Have you noticed a similar drastic change in behavior?

Service of What Will Change and What Will Remain the Same: So Many Questions

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

When I see a street with nobody on it in NYC I’m usually on alert. Now I’m relieved. Will it always be so?

I keep a few hidden dollars around just in case and have for decades. On occasion Homer would leave a note saying he owed the envelope $X. Now it turns out dollars and coins may spread coronavirus. Recently E-ZPass announced it doesn’t accept cash anymore nor will Metro-North Railroad and some restaurants have had this policy for a while. [I wrote about the trend in “Service of Cashless Restaurants” in 2018.] So is cash on the way out permanently? If street vegetable, fruit, coffee and falafel vendors return will they only accept credit cards?

Will we have the option of going to the movies anymore? A friend who just saw “Emma” at her neighborhood movie house suggested to friends that they watch it on Pay Per View as they shelter in place admitting she preferred seeing it on the full screen. Do enough people agree? Will Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Turner Classic Movies fill this hunger?

If hair stylists remain closed will long hair on men of all ages become the fashion and gray/white hair for women of a certain age?

Printed copies of newspapers pile up at the office. Is this the death knell for the print versions?

How about church, temple and synagogue attendance–more or less once the crisis is over and services resume?

Will more people telecommute to save employers the cost of rent? Local hosts on 710 WOR Radio are on-air from their homes now and some save hours a week in commuting time. Speaking of real estate, will more people flee from living in cities where viruses thrive on crowds? We all press L for lobby in elevators.

What about teaching: Will the cost of college shrink as techniques to teach online become more compelling and interaction realistic through technology? Will gathering in classrooms become obsolete? What will happen to all those buildings?

Will enough people have learned to cook and/or to order in to make restaurants less tempting?

Will sports fans have found other interests? Will libraries close forever as people increasingly download books and will borrowed books be forever suspect? What about the classes and lectures held at libraries?

What about auto-pay? If a bank account is bare, won’t people want to strategize about which bills to satisfy and not have vendors grab at the overdraft willy nilly?

Too many questions. Should we not ask them now?

Service of Sudden Change

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Change is part of life. I like to hope it comes out for the good more than not. I find it fascinating to watch either way.

No building there's Grand Central flipWalking east with Madison Avenue at my back on 42nd Street last week I saw the most remarkable thing: the full Vanderbilt side of Grand Central Station I’d never before seen. At first I was disoriented thinking, “What is that?” until I realized that the building that had hidden this view for as long as I can remember was gone. No doubt a new one will quickly take its place so if you want to see this in person, best make haste.

Cosi closed flipContinuing to my office on East 45th Street I noticed that a chain restaurant that had been on 44th and Third Avenue for years had closed. I liked Cosi for its Signature Salad and special flatbread and bought it often at one point, though not lately. I tend to eat yogurt these days and don’t often buy lunch at restaurants unless meeting others. And my office is next door to the Amish Market that sells anything delicious that I might want. I’d thought that lines at this Cosi branch were unusually short as newer chains and two $1 pizza establishments opened within a block or two which may be the reason for the closing.

Pumpkins are favorites of mine. I love the color and shape. I centered one between two pots of summer flowers illustrating summer meeting fall and imminent natural changes as my favorite season tries to hang on.

What’s your favorite season? Have you noticed any sudden or surprising changes in your neighborhood? Fall meets summer flip

Service of Unintended Consequences

Monday, May 6th, 2013

One business will get a jolt as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings because it appears that backpacks won’t be allowed at future ones there or in NYC either. Not every one of the some 45,000 runners who finish the NY Marathon depends on them but enough do. Add the smaller events here and elsewhere and the numbers add up. Fanny packs are allowed and will take their place. Perhaps transparent backpacks will eventually be allowed.

The increased incidence of pickpocketing in Europe will fatten the wallets of manufacturers of money belts and other contrivances to keep tourist cash and credit cards safe. Pilfering got so bad at the Louvre that guards went on strike. Security felt that the Paris police were too easy on the children who perpetrated countless daily thefts. [Why children? They get into the museum free.] On a recent “Travel Show,” Arthur Frommer noted that Paris isn’t the only European city to report record theft and suggested his listeners take care.

Airline limits on luggage have impacted that industry and orthopedic surgeon and audiologist waiting rooms flourish from the fashion for platform heels and ear pods on portable music devices.

Have you scrambled for matches to light candles on your dinner table or to add calming fragrance to the atmosphere? So few restaurants use matches to promote their businesses.

Finger nails are out for Android and iPhone users who expect to type on screens. Look around: There are fewer claws than in the past.The technique for those who use voice-to-text systems harkens back to the dark ages when executives had secretaries and typing pools. They chatted into Dictaphones with letter or memo copy and secretaries typed what they heard. As in days of yore, you can also ask your phone to add a comma and a period. There was no wink symbol then.

New Yorkers are split about what to expect from the 10,000 cycles in the bicycle share program again about to launch: Increased lines in ERs perhaps? I’d written about the initiative last summer in “Service of Exercise” when we first expected it and haven’t changed my mind: Thumbs down and I’d like to be wrong.

I saw an able-bodied 50-something man walking briskly across Third Avenue at 43rd Street last week. Suddenly he fell flat on his back. He hadn’t seen a deep hole surrounding a manhole cover and lost his balance and his footing. We’re putting thousands of bicycles on these unsound streets?

New York drivers are unforgiving and rushed. If you’re crossing where they want to go—what’s a green light?–there’s a 70-30 chance they’ll stop. Maybe the unintended consequence the Mayor anticipates is a more cordial driving attitude. That would be nice.

Do you have examples of good and bad unintended consequences or some that are yet to be determined?

 

 

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