Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

Thanks to Xavi, we have gotten into the Halloween thing a little bit more this year. But as you can see he isn't that into it, he doesn't like scary scenes and we did not go trick or treating. But we did go to the kiddie's Halloween party & parade at Bleecker St playground on Sunday and then the Halloween party today in our building. He did look cute in his Robin outfit, which we borrowed off a neighbor.
Because of Sandy, the annual NYC Halloween parade in Greenwich Village tonight is canceled (still blacked out and underwater) but you could do worse than stay home and watch TCM. This is what the TV program says about their line up. Incredible! 8 P.M. (TCM) CLASSIC HORROR An all-day fright fest wraps up with an assortment of timeless thrillers, starting with “Frankenstein” (1931), James Whale’s adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel about a scientist (Colin Clive) who constructs a monster (Boris Karloff) out of body parts, not realizing that he has given it the brain of a madman. The lineup continues with “Son of Frankenstein” (1939), at 9:30, in which Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) tries to prove that his father’s experiments were meant to aid and not injure humanity by bringing that monster (Karloff) back to life with the help of his father’s demented assistant, Ygor (Bela Lugosi); “The Wolf Man” (1941), at 11:15, in which a British nobleman (Lon Chaney) undergoes a startling transformation after being bitten by a werewolf (Lugosi); “The Mummy” (1932), at 12:30 a.m., with Karloff as an Egyptian mummy that returns to life to stalk the reincarnation of his lost love (Zita Johann); “The Mummy’s Hand” (1940), at 2, in which archaeologists are tormented by a resurrected mummy (Tom Tyler) during a dig in Egypt; “Island of Lost Souls” (1932), at 3:15, with Charles Laughton (above right, with Kathleen Burke) as Dr. Moreau, who transforms wild animals into human beasts; and “The Invisible Man” (1933), at 4:30, with Claude Rains as a scientist whose experiments with invisibility send him on a murderous rampage.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Frankenstorm update III

6am Wednesday: The storm moved away to the NW overnight. The wind has died right down to only 15 km/h and the pressure is back up to 990. We have emerged largely unscathed. The elevators are shut off by building management. Hopefully they will be switched back on soon. But we have not lost power unlike Lower Manhattan below 39th street, or had the facade fall off our building or a crane collapse. And we are still alive unlike a dozen people (including 2 children killed by a falling tree while playing inside in the lounge room of a house in Westchester) and 2 crew members from the HMS Bounty replica are missing. Our friend Nicola Kissane was due to fly back to Melbourne today but her flight is canceled and she can't get another one until Friday. NYU Hospital had its generators fail. Subway tunnels have flooded and will take 4 days to pump out. So it is going to be chaotic here while the clean up operation goes on.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Frankenstorm update II

Only 10mm of rain for the day so far, but the meterologists have said all along this storm is more about the wind and storm surges than the rain. The wind speed in NYC currently is 25 mph and the barometric pressure is 970 and falling. Predicted to be as low as 940, which would be a record for NYC. Down at Atlantic City NJ, where land fall is expected, the wind is currently 40 mph and the barometric pressure is only 950 kpa. Our main concern is power outages due to water getting into the underground electricity system. Tonight's full moon and high tide come right at the peak of the storm. it is turning inland rather than heading out to sea because of the high pressure over eastern Canada and Greenland. The gloom of the storm descends on Manhattan...
water lapping on the promenade beside the East River - unheard of
a First Ave shop door taped up for the storm

Frankenstorm update

Looking at a large tree out the window, the current wind speed is about 12 mph (20 km/hr, Beaufort scale pic. number 3). At the peak of the storm tonight the wind is expected to have a sustained speed of 50 mph (80 km/h, no. 9) with gusts of 75 mph ( 120 km/h, no. 12) during rain. Lucky we live in a large apartment block and not a small white house!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Because it is Halloween on Wednesday, this is what the severe weather we are expecting in NYC on Monday & Tuesday is being called. According to the NY Times, more than 50 million people from the mid-Atlantic to New England braced Saturday for a potentially massive storm, as Hurricane Sandy churned northward on a collision course with another storm system that is sweeping in from the west. That system is known as a midlatitude trough — which often causes severe winter storms — and is moving across the country from the west. It is expected to draw in Hurricane Sandy, giving it added energy. A burst of arctic air is expected to sweep down through the Canadian Plains just as they are converging. That could lead to several feet of snow in West Virginia and lighter amounts in Pennsylvania and Ohio. After all the hype of Hurricane Irene in August 2011 (got a lot of rain but that was it), it will probably be much the same this year. However, Sunday afternoon it is still a category 1 hurricane with 75 mph (120 km/h) winds expected to make landfall somewhere down the Jersey Shore. In case you are interested in reading more about the storm, here is a link: (to activate the link, place the cursor over the the final p of ?hp)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Queens County Farm Museum

Today we went to Queens County Farm Museum. Its 30 km from Manhattan on the border of NYC and Long Island. Its history dates back to 1697; the farm house in the pictures below from 1772. It occupies New York City's largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland and is the only working historical farm in the City. The farm encompasses a 47-acre parcel that is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State. The site includes historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, farm vehicles and implements, planting fields, an orchard, herb garden and vineyard. It was a lovely autumn afternoon, fine and sunny, 17 C, and Xavi had lot of fun, going on a hayride pulled by a tractor and getting to see most of the things in his story books: cows, chickens, geese, pigs, horses, goats - although they don't look as cute and cuddly as in the books in real life and he found them most of them quite scary.

Friday, October 19, 2012

and guess who's 16 months!

Xavi continues to do well, now more than 10kg, caught up to the 40th percentile for weight, 80th for height, 90th for HC. Eating and sleeping well. Ear and feet problems are gone; now the pediatrician wants him to see allergist because of his eczema. Saying more words (toes, shoes, Thomas, door). Happy and mischievous, and a few tantrums. Goes to gym class and music class. Fascinated by door, knobs, keys. But latest revelation is it looks like he's a lefty...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy 80th, Bill Glare!

Hey Dad! Happy birthday!! Sorry we can't be there to celebrate this milestone with you today, but we will see you soon. Love from Paul & Monica, Kate & Steve, Xavi, Maxi & Frankie XXX 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Americans spend their money

from the Investopedia website: Compared to other countries, the United States spends the most on housing and healthcare and the least on food, clothing and transportation. The question is why do Americans spend so much on housing and so little on food? What factors come into play on determining the price of these necessities? Healthcare Americans pay more for healthcare. In fact, Americans pay nearly double that of the majority of other countries on a per capita basis. Countries with subsidized healthcare pay significantly less per capita and are able to allocate their funds elsewhere. Transportation If you compare American transportation costs to that of the Japanese and the British, they look high. Simply put, North Americans just walk and bike ride less than those in Japan and Britain. The metro system in Europe is outstanding and things are a lot closer together in both countries. This makes it easier, and more practical, to walk and ride your bike. In turn, this saves Japanese and British citizens a lot of money. If you compare the United States to Canada, you will see that fuel is another cheap commodity. On average, Americans pay a lot less than Canadians for fuel. At almost any given time there is a dollar or more gap between a gallon of gas in the U.S. and a gallon of gas in Canada. Food According to The Atlantic, Food in the United States is highly subsidized (corn subsidies), and it is cheaper than in many other countries. Large quantities of inexpensive food are readily available to Americans. However, the food items available may not be the healthiest option and may attribute to increased obesity rates. Foods such as potato chips are easy and cheap to produce and may end up being a cheaper alternative than fresh fruits and vegetables. Fast food is a great example of how convenience has become a less expensive option. Going to McDonald's or Wendy's has become second nature to some Americans and some would argue that it's actually cheaper to eat out than to cook at home. Housing Americans put a large amount of their paychecks towards their housing costs. An infographic from The Financial Post, published in June, shows that Americans pay roughly $4,500 for rent (two bedroom luxury in New York), while their Canadian counterparts only pay about $2,200 (two bedroom luxury in Vancouver). There are many other large American cities that are extremely expensive to live in. Clothing Clothing is also an area where Americans pay less. Large corporations have the ability to mass-produce goods and are therefore able to sell them for less. Many malls in the United States have outlet stores that sell articles of clothing for a fraction of the price the clothes would be in the main store. Americans are able to purchase clothing for relatively less, and as a result they are able to buy more. If a consumer was to feel satisfied after purchasing five shirts then he or she would reach this level of satisfaction for less capital in the United States than in neighboring countries. This might influence why Americans spend less on clothing than other countries. The Bottom Line In the end, consumers spend differently because of the values they were taught and the relative costs of the items in their countries. What is expensive in one country may be cheap in another. Certain countries may value bigger homes, while others value fresh food. Perhaps Americans spend the way they do because they are building their American Dreams. It has been ingrained into us to want the biggest and best of everything.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mohawk Hudson River Marathon

On the weekend we all went up to the NY State capital, Albany, with Francine and the rest of the "6 at 6" running group to run in the Mohawk Hudson River marathon. This was to celebrate Francine's 50th birthday and was a lot of fun with a private pasta party the night before the race doubling as her birthday party. (Reminiscent of the fact that until we organized to relocate to NYC a few weeks after his own 50th, Paul had had plans to run the Great Wall of China marathon which was held the week after his birthday). Mohawk is a point to point course that starts out in the town of Schenectady and runs into the finish line by the river in downtown Albany. Albany is about 150 km north of NYC. Most of the way the course is is on the Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail, which runs beside the Schenectady and Hudson rivers, and was very scenic this time of year with all the "fall colors". Paul had trained through the summer following the NYRR 'first timers and casual marathoners' program and clocked up nearly 1000 km, maxing out at about 60 km on the heaviest weeks, with 30 km the longest training run. He had what turned out to be an unrealistic goal of 3:45. On target until the 30 km mark, he then hit the wall and finished in 3:54, at just under 9 minute per mile pace. He is eligible to run in the NYC Marathon in November 2013.
For more information on the race, Francine and the 6 at 6 group, go to this link: