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October, 2006:

My wish comes true: Bee Line to take Metrocard!

One of my most sincere wishes has been that the Westchester Bee Line would take the Metrocard. Well, starting April 1, 2007, that wish will come true.

There’s a meeting on Wednesday November 8 in White Plains to learn more. The rumor on a couple of bustalk forums is that once this is in place, that there would be a free transfer to the Bee Line (making the non-Metro North commute to our house cost $2 instead of $3.75)

This would be sublime!

Here’s the announcement of the meeting.

Yonkers on All Hallow’s Eve

Tomorrow is Halloween, time for Tricks and/or Treats.

This is the first time that either Stephanie and I have had a house that might be trick or treated. And truth be told, we are a little nervous about the possibility of mischief running rampant at our house– we were expecting to go to a couple of friends houses and be there.

One of our dear friends lives in Sleepy Hollow, home of the Headless Horseman and a big celebrant with tons of kids and costumes and candy. We’ve been there in the past and its always a lot of fun.
Another friend lives in Park Hill in the nice section of Park Hill– those friends do it up big– their child who is around 10 doesn’t like to trick or treat, but prefers to stay at home and add to the festivities. This year, she’ll be Little Red Riding Hood, luring children up the stairs to the house, where they’ll be alternately scared by her Dad (Dressed as the Big Bad Wolf) and Given candy by her Mom (dressed as the Grandmother) I was over at their house on Saturday, and they were doing up the preparations something fierce. Anyway, we were hoping to hang out with them instead of in our house.

We did buy candy, and I will give out trick or treat stuff to the kids who do early stuff– but I think we’ll risk it and go away and see what happens. Shut off the lights, put up a sign that says “Sorry, out of Candy”, Hire a sniper to paintball kids who seem like they might have eggs in their pockets– you know, the usual!

Maybe next year will be more of a Yonked Halloween.

It turns out that we are right to fear retribution– apparently Yonkers imposes a pretty strict curfew on Halloween.

Here are the age breakdowns and times (courtesy of the Journal News) Fortunately, I look older than 16!)

  • 11-year-olds and under must be off the streets after 10 p.m.
  • 12- and 13-year-olds must be off the streets by 10:30 p.m.
  • 14- to 16-year-olds must be in their homes after 11 p.m.

    The curfew lasts until 6 a.m. Wednesday. Violators will taken to the nearest police precinct and their parents or guardians called.

  • The only exceptions are the following:


  • If they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • If they are on an errand with parental permission with prior notice to Police Community Affairs Division (914-377-7375).
  • Up to one half hour after the end of school, religious, volunteer, public entertainment event, no later than 12:30 a.m., unless police are notified by the host organization 24 hours in advance.
  • A half hour after work with proof from employer.

    Youngsters are not subject to curfew if they are on or immediately next to their homes and if next door neighbors do not object.

  • “Shields up, Mr. Sulu!”

    Yonkers School System- On the Rise?

    The skinny on the Yonkers school system is that it is not very good. Yonkers, the fourth largest city in the state of New York, had trouble with their school system in the 70’s and 80’s due to battles about subsidized housing, (the full story is in the book Show Me A Hero by Lisa Belkin, handily highlighted on the side here)

    However, a recent study of Yonkers students recently graduated suggests that the schools are better than their reputation.

    From the Journal News:

    A recently released survey of high school students who graduated in the spring echoes Delotch’s contentment and suggests that there is widespread student satisfaction with the city’s five public high schools. The 772 graduating seniors gave the public schools overwhelmingly positive marks on issues such as learning experiences, teachers’ high standards and demand for quality work.

    On the question about the schools providing a safe environment, 89.5 percent of respondents approved of the district’s security while 84.5 percent said they felt academically prepared to go to college.

    So either those students don’t know what they are talking about, or the reputation of Yonkers is wrong. (Doing a little more research, recent testing of Yonkers students show that Yonkers students outperform students from other large NY Cities (Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo) So things aren’t all bad, anyway.

    The interesting thing from the Journal News article is that 23% of Yonkers children DON’T go to public schools– they attend private and parochial schools. That seems very high….

    The Ethics of Shelter


    I had a weird and interesting ethical dilemma today. (At least, it was a weird and interesting dilemma for me– perhaps for someone else, not so much.)

    The weather was strange today. As aficionados of Winnie the Pooh might call it, it was A Very Blustery Day Torrential rain, gusts of wind, and tiny bouts of tremendous beauty.

    So, while it was pouring, I was inside, warm and cosy. And then I heard a sound on the porch. I looked out, and there was a tough looking Latino guy and a 5 year old child. They did not see me. The guy was talking on his cell phone.

    I suss out immediately that they are waiting out the rain.

    I have a series of mixed responses to this: My first response is territorial, and not very charitable. Who are these strangers, and why are they on MY porch? Get them off. I’m not on their porch. And hey, I knew that it was going to rain, so I didn’t go walking around. Why didn’t they show the same foresight? I’m tempted to ask them to leave.

    But then I start thinking– hey, I’m not using that part of the house– why shouldn’t they use it as a temporary shelter– they’re not harming anything. And besides, in Norse Mythology, the guys who show up at your door demanding shelter usually turn out to be Loki, Thor, and/or Odin and their friends, and woe betide them that do not turn themselves out hospitably. Perhaps I should offer them a beverage? Or perhaps a snack of some kind? I think we’ve got some Colombian candies….

    Right around then I start thinking about how I would feel if there weren’t a kid involved, or if it was a gang of tough teenagers on my doorstep, drinking out of a paper bag, and I start to feel a little less charitable (Sorry Loki, all out of Mead! Have a can of whupass instead)

    About this time, I look out again, and my ethical dilemma has (along with my mysterious guests) departed. But my weird thoughts have not.

    I know that being charitable is good, but I generally like to do it on my terms, which is probably less than I ought. I do have a bit of a territorial nature, perhaps to my detriment. I guess my point is that I probably won’t be reaching Nirvana anytime soon.

    The split queen box

    That’s what we now have on our third floor. It’s not some arcane chess or poker move – it’s what one needs if one has a tiny, narrow stairway and yet wants a queen bed up said stairway. Like us.

    When we first moved into the house we moved my queen bed, with my beautiful pewtery scrolly bedframe, from my apartment. As loyal readers recall, we lived the first six or eight weeks on the third floor and, since we knew that our habitation on the third floor was temporary, we left the bedframe and box spring on the second floor, wrapped in plastic, and slept on the mattress alone. Next we and the mattress went to the office, and then, finally, the master bedroom was painted and cleaned and we set up the scrolly bed and box spring.

    Adam has already blogged about the fact that after a few months with the queen bed we traded up to a king. We knew when we bought the king that we wanted the queen to go into the front room upstairs, to become the official guest room. But lo and behold, when the mattress delivery guys tried to get the queen box spring up the stairs – no go. Box spring too big, stairs too narrow, turn too tight, ceiling too low. (The queen mattress goes up there with some brute force – but it’s much more malleable than the box, of course.)

    Thus the split queen box. It’s pretty cool – 30″ x 80″ times two. Works just like a split king box, which, perhaps obviously given it’s enormous size, is standard. The bed is now ready to go, just add sheets. I look forward to our first guests for the guest room when my sister and mom visit at Thanksgiving (though my mom was our first official overnight guest, on the Aerobed in the office last spring!).

    I have a blog with a blogger who doesn’t blog…

    I’ve been looking at the last 15 or 20 posts, and almost all of them are from me.

    I’m therefore publically calling Stephanie out– post already!!

    I’m sure that while our loyal readers are endlessly fascinated by my stunning missives, that every once in a while they would like to hear from you.

    Aren’t I right, loyal readers?

    (Feel free to post a comment!)

    The Mouse Comes to Yonkers (and I don’t mean Mickey)

    Recent AP Story about how Yonkers will become a new breeding ground for mice soon, and the mayor is amazingly, really happy about it.

    A consortium of NYC medical hospitals and facilities are going to offsite their lab mouse breeding facilities, and move it to Yonkers. They expect to have in the area of 400,000 mice living and growing in cages. This “mouse house” is the first multi-institutional facility in the country.

    “Research mice don’t have to live in prime Manhattan real estate,” said Maria Mitchell, president of the Academic Medicine Development Co. “Hospitals and medical schools can do better things with that space.”

    ***
    Most major institutions have their own mouse labs, sometimes part of a larger animal research lab. At Rockefeller University, 120,000 mice are kept in a building on Manhattan’s wealthy Upper East Side.

    Dr. Fred Quimby, director of the Rockefeller lab, said 20 percent of his operation would be shifted to Yonkers, allowing the school to expand the lab without paying for more New York City real estate.

    So what I’m wondering is, if you put a population of 400,000 mice together in a single building, what do they sound like? What do they smell like? Do Alleycats from miles around come a-courtin’? And what are they doing with all the mouse poop?

    Enquiring minds need to know!

    Roadtrip to Portsmouth NH Nov 3-5.

    My original one man show Buffoon Anonymous, will be performed as part of the Pontine Movement Theatre‘s season November 3-5 in Portsmouth NH.

    If you’d like to come make a road-trip (or you live in the area) please come by! The theatre is small (47 seats) so make your reservations early!
    Here’s some info about the show:

    BUFFOON ANONYMOUS is a fictional autobiographical story, created and performed by performance artist, Adam Gertsacov, about a clown who needs to quit– and can’t. Through trial and tribulation, the clown wages an unsuccessful war on his own stupidity as he strives to find a cure for, …well, himself.

    BUFFOON ANONYMOUS contains (among other things) classic clown routines, addictive behavior, a circus ring, an obligatory avante-garde dance piece, the Acme Declownifier, and mediocre juggling. Mr. Gertsacov is the artistic director, boss clown, chief bottle washer, and Big Cheese of the Acme Clown Company.
    He is an internationally renowned theatre artist from Providence Rhode Island recently relocated to Yonkers, NY.

    WHEN:

  • Friday November 3, 8pm
  • Saturday, November 4, 4pm & 8 pm
  • Sunday, November 5, 2 pm
  • WHERE:
    West End Studio Theatre,959 Islington Street Portsmouth NH 03801

    COST:

  • Fri & Sat 8pm & Sun 2pm: $20 / $17 students & seniors
  • Saturday, 4pm: $16 / $13 students & seniors
  • RESERVATIONS: (strongly recommended)
    Call 603-436-6660,or email info@pontine.org
    Purchase tickets online

    MORE INFO:

    Pontine: call 603.436.6660 or visit www.pontine.org

    Acme Clown: call 401-351-2596 or visit www.acmeclown.com

    Let the City Solve All Your Problems…

    Well, not ALL of your problems– hey, they aren’t miracle workers! :o)

    On Thursday, October 26, from 7-9 pm, at our local elementary school (The Cedar Place School, 20 Cedar Place and South Broadway), there is going to be a town meeting with the Mayor and his commissioners. I plan on attending, and discussing the possibility of doing some street-quieting on our street (people tend to speed on it– either a nice stop sign, or some bumps would quiet them down considerably. Maybe even a little police presence.) Anyway, I’m going to attend, and see if they can solve this problem.

    For those not planning on attending, or it’s not close by, there is an online form you can fill out to complain, praise, or make suggestions.

    CLICK GRAPHIC TO SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM

    City of Yonkers Problem Solving Hotline

    Enjoy!

    The Mayor’s Secret Hotline, and OPD

    So last week sometime, I went out to grab some dinner (Stephanie was going to have one of her meetings for the fershlugginer synagogue (I’m starting to forget what she looks like– she goes to work, she goes to synagogue meetings, she goes to sleep) In fact, we’re going out on a date tonight just so that we can remember why we are dating.

    Anyway, when I came back there was an old door and a mattress box spring in my parking space. Which is at the back of our property.

    I was more than a little upset. Not only do I not want to have my parking space or property be a dumping ground for neighbors, non-neighbors or others in the area to leave their possessions, but now I am somehow saddled with the ridiculous task of figuring out what to do with this detritus.

    I called the Yonkers police (which is the non-emergency hotline, but is apparently connected to the 911 hotline anyway) and they told me to call the Mayor’s hotline. which, for the uninitiated, is 377-HELP (4357). It’s a division of the Department of Public Works, and their job is to help with street lights,

    You see, the mayor of Yonkers is trying to set up a quality of life 311 number similar to New York’s. But they already have it, this 377-HELP.

    Anyway, I called that number and within 10 minutes, at 7 pm at night, a garbage truck came by and hauled away the bad stuff. Which is a win for me (tax paying citizen that I am) and a win for whoever dumped that stuff on my lawn, as they didn’t have to deal with it. I just need to figure out how to make it a loss for that guy, so that whenever I come back from wherever I’m going, I don’t find OPD on the lawn (Other People’s Detritus)

    It’s my birthday, and I’ll cry if I want to….


    That’s right, it’s my birthday. And lo and behold, I’m feeling a little melancholy. (Great image to the left, right?)

    It’s right around this time every year that I get all weepy about my life, and how when Jesus, Napoleon, and Alexander the Great were my age, they were dead, and what have I accomplished? A big fat nothing.

    Which of course is a self-pitying lie. I’ve accomplished a great deal (although, admittedly, not as much as Jesus, Napoleon, and a select other few) Okay– a lot of other people, I admit it. But I’ve started a large festival, and created a series of shows that people like, and have improved the life (okay, maybe not the life, but at least a few minutes) of a large number of people around the world. Not to mention having a great girlfriend, a slowly improving house, an unsteady job that I like to do, more than my fair share of creativity, and amazingly, slightly more than my fair share of wealth (not that I feel like I have a lot, but there’s lots of people with less) And I’m 6’2″ for crying out loud! What else could I want? (To dunk a basketball, I suppose)

    That I haven’t accomplished as much as the top echelon of world history is easy to fathom, but also it’s in some weird way to me, disappointing. Not that I should feel disappointed that I’m not in the upper .000001 percent of human beings to have ever lived, but then again, there it is.

    It’s disappointing to make a realization that maybe I’m not headed on for “Better Things”, that I am more likely to be watching than receiving the Oscar, that the McArthur people that my life is about where it’s going to be (barring lottery winnings, sudden discoveries of new elements in my cereal (gertsacovium, anyone?) or a miraculous Hollywoodish milkshake discovery. “Oh my god! I’ve never seen anybody drink a milkshake like that! Come with me! I’m going to make you the next big star!”

    Not sure if my disappointment is due to my overbloated ego, or to the Hollywoodized “I will win the lottery, it could happen to me” American way of life. Perhaps some conversion of the two.

    Overall, I’m pleased with the tenure of my life– and of although I could probably do with more laughter and joy and less self-pitying birthday bullshit. But then again, apparently, once a year, I choose to partake in the ritual.

    The good thing is that I know it will be over in a couple of days, and I will be back to my busy life of not over-achieving.

    We’re going to a Brazilian restaurant tonight– Churrascaria! It’s a place in the East Village– We’re going with my brother and his newly minted wife and my other brother is not so newly minted wife and my new sister-in-laws sister and her domestic lesbian partner. They call themselves a “Meating Gallery” Should be fun.

    Happy Me Day everyone.

    And never fear, I’ll be happy in a few days!

    Old Spices

    Not specifically about Yonkers, but it’s a lot about moving and combining households (or not moving, and the lack thereof.)

    Stephanie found this great advert in the local newspaper, which explains how you would know if your spices were 15 years older or more.

    I’m sad to report that more than a few of the spices that I had in my house before I moved were older than 15 years. You have to imagine that by THAT time, the $1.79 amount of spice may have gone bad, or lost most of its taste….

    But that didn’t stop me from moving that stuff to Yonkers! We did a big throw-out of those square tins– had about 5 or 6 of them!

    MMMMMMM…. Mustard seed.