Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gearing up for Spring!

Spring is in the air--I can feel it!  This winter has been so mild and I know that even if we get a freak snow storm now, it will be gone in a day or so.  I am preparing for Spring, which means getting my balcony ready for use.  I love my balcony.  It is probably the closest I will get to having a backyard anytime soon.  I love plants.  I keep houseplants all year round and true to my frugal form they are almost all from cuttings.  Only the African Violet did I buy and it has been a challenge to keep it going well.  I have Golden Pothos, Chinese Evergreens and Spider plants as well--all from cuttings.  Actually, the Chinese Evergreens were almost dead.  I felt for them and threw them some water for a few days and they bounced back from the brink.  I was impressed, took them under my wing and have been impressed ever since.  They occupied one pot initially and now fill three. 

Anyway, for Spring I have decided to grow plants from seed and thus, obtain plants I might not customarily see commercially sold nearby.  This year I will try Chinese Forget-Me-Nots, morning glories and Cosmic Orange Cosmos--the former are my son's idea and the latter are my own, to attract good bugs, maybe.  I'll also add petunias and marigolds.  Growing plants from seed is cheap and fun.  The Morning Glories are already growing and so are the forget-me-nots.  I have a perfect trellis in mind and I also have a nice wind-chime to hang.  Finally, I am going to build a floor for the balcony that will disguise the ugly (I think) gray concrete floor.  I am building it from cheap furring strips I found at Home Depot.  They were 98 cents a piece (1x3x8) and I think they'll do fine.  The balcony isn't very large (6 1/2 feet by 12 feet or so), just a comfortable outdoor place to chat and knock off a few beers.  I'll post pix when I have something to show. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Biker Assumes Risk

Every time I get on my bike I know I am taking a risk.  There is simply no way around it.  Naturally, I assume the benefits outweigh the risks.  I almost got hit by a cab yesterday on the way to work.  It was on Grand Street in Brooklyn.  There was plenty of traffic and the cabbie was stuck in it.  Maybe he was trying to not block the box, but he turned suddenly to the right, which made no sense because there was no additional lane to switch to.  Anyway, he came within an inch of me before catching himself and it all happened so quickly that there was no way for me to get out of the way.  I was a little surprised and I probably cursed him, but I wasn't going to get carried away about it.  He obviously didn't see me and I suspect me got more of a scare out of it than I did.  When I am cycling I get into this zone where hardly anything fazes me.  I am so focused on what I am doing, so in the moment, that near-misses are only mildly disconcerting, if that.  Motorists that come close and buzz past attempting to make some point that I cannot bother to care about only reveal their own stupidity. 

Nevertheless, in this state of heightened awareness, I am reflexively looking out for certain things.  One of them is parked cars.  If one is cycling in the correct direction--with traffic--then only the cars in front of you demand your attention.  Naturally, if you are going to change lanes or make a left you must look behind you first.  The cars in front of you may become a problem like the cabbie almost became my problem.  However, the parked cars to your right may also become a problem.  One event I'll never forget was seeing a car, also on Grand Street, pull out of a parking space so quickly that the front tire ran over a pigeon feeding beside it.  The poor thing never had a chance to get away and lay there dying a pitiful death.  I always watch the position of the tires of parked cars.  Some sit with tires poised in getaway position and I always check these for a running engine, passengers and/or a seated driver.  Getting doored is another problem.  A lot of folks just fling those driver's side doors right open.  I am often struck at how irresponsible many motorists immediately become as pedestrians upon emerging from their vehicles.  Stay awake and stay safe.

Wyoming Apocalypse

There was a recent article on the Yahoo! homepage that I found intriguing.  I usually try to avoid clicking on any of their stories because I am finding them to be such terrible fluff, filler, junk that I don't want to encourage it.  It was about a Wyoming vote to prepare for the apocalypse.  It seemed so ridiculous that I assumed it must be a small town in that lightly populated state that was the subject of the article.  Nevertheless, I decided not to click, but rather do a quick internet search on the matter.  Several stories came up including the Yahoo! article, so I clicked on it and the others.  I learned that the vote, which was very narrowly defeated (30-27), took place at the state legislature level.  Furthermore, it was not a vote to prepare for the apocalypse in the biblical sense, but rather the collapse of the federal government and the dollar.  The primary idea seems simply that Wyoming should like to be able to put out its own currency and avoid the impact of a U.S. decline.  There were other disturbing details in the first draft of the legislation, like establishing a proper standing army, air force, etc..., presumably to keep the rest of us fellow citizens out.  I have no doubt that the cowboys of Wyoming are tough, but we urbanites of the coasts are a lot tougher than they might think.  We're also fast learners and there are a whole lot more of us.  It's truly a shame to see such a mentality flourishing out West, but I think we (all Americans) need to see what it means. 

For some time after 9-11 certain friends and relatives from Ohio were afraid to come visit us in New York, which struck me as a silly, overblown fear.  I work downtown, so I was there that day.  I had to walk over nine miles to get home that day.  The smell of fires (which continued to smolder for a very long time), a very chemical smell, wafted quite discernibly to where I live, in the fair borough of Queens, the next day.  Terrible as the event was and continues to be, all of NYC, which does consist of all five boroughs, is not really a target.  Reaction, even in NY, has been exaggerated--I think as an excuse to infringe on civil liberties.  All these cameras in our city will not prevent a damn thing!  They can, however, be used to mind our (citizenry) business quite needlessly.  All this has created an atmosphere of fear that borders on the irrational. 

I suspect our fellow Americans in Wyoming, who are quite alienated from us here on the coasts, have a distorted view of life here.  First of all, a collapse of the federal government would have its greatest impact here where the most people are.  Second, Wyoming is a landlocked place that won't get very far without the rest of us, unless they really want to go back to the old days--maybe they do.  I also think their action shows their commitment to the Union of these United States of America.  Wyoming is hardly unique in this respect.  Wyoming has revealed the how deep the rift runs between red and blue states.  I would not suggest that Wyomingans are wrong to be concerned.  I would state that the problems are far more complex than they might imagine.  Globally things are shifting.  We as Americans need to come together.  Our leaders are increasingly disconnected from The People they supposed serve and until The People know what they want, it will continue.  I think it would useful if more Wyoming residents visited the coasts and vice versa.  If there were a responsible way to do it, I wouldn't mind playing host.