Thursday, February 27, 2014

#507: Uggh! - Weekend forecast - the temperatures are in Fahrenheit

Courtesy of CBS New York: The clear skies and balmy temperatures of last weekend will seem like a distant memory in the days to come, with dangerous winds and bitter cold, and a snowstorm coming just in time for the new work week next week. The National Weather Service warned Thursday evening of an arctic front with winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting up to 40 to 45 mph. Mother Nature was already making good on the threat by 6 p.m., when winds on the West Side of Manhattan blew violently from the west and began knocking things over. The winds will gradually weaken after midnight, but not before ushering in a frigid air mass, the NWS warned. The overnight low was expected to drop to an icy 11 degrees, with wind chills ranging from 0 to 10 degrees, CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported. Some areas may see wind chills of minus 5 to minus 10, and air temperatures in the single digits, according to the NWS. Conditions are expected to be clear with a high of 22 degrees on Friday, followed by highs of 34 on Saturday and 34 on Sunday. But then, a major snowstorm Sunday evening through Monday is expected to cause huge disruptions from Chicago to New York City, according to AccuWeather. The heaviest snow is likely to fall Monday afternoon into evening in the coastal Northeast, said Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. Snowfall rates at the height of the storm may reach 2 inches per hour, according to AccuWeather. The storm is likely to impact travel, school and business activities, Sosnowski said. The power of the storm is dependent on two high-pressure systems that will be hovering over the Tri-State Area. “The challenge with this storm is figuring out where the north-south boundary between rain and snow will set up and migrate to as the storm progresses slowly eastward,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams. If the high-pressure system to the north prevails, it could pull down cold air and bring snow totals of a foot or more, Quinn reported If the system to the south prevails, the snow and ice will be balanced out by warm air and rain, and snow totals could amount to as little as 2 to 4 inches. Based on current models, Quinn forecast 4 to 8 inches of snow are likely to fall in the city during the storm Sunday and Monday.

Monday, February 24, 2014

#506 - sport, weather, entertainment

1. WINTER OLYMPICS: Vlad Putin is not the "top of the pops" in the US at present, and the American attitude towards the Winter Olympics has seemed rather negative, with a lot of emphasis placed on the cost of them. So it was interesting to read today about how the various host cities have fared down the years post-Olympics. Then they came to Athens (trivia question - what year were the Athens Olympics held [the recent ones, not 1896]?) According to CBS"The legacy of Athens' Olympics has stirred vigorous debate, and Greek authorities have been widely criticized for not having a post-Games plan for the infrastructure. While some of the venues built specifically for the games have been converted for other uses, many are underused or abandoned, and very few provide the state with any revenue.
"Murky water and rubbish fill an abandoned training pool for athletes at the Olympic village on the northern fringes of Athens". Answer: 2004. 2. MORE COLD WEATHER: Another 'Polar Vortex' is forecast for midweek, and the possibility of snow storm number 17 for the season. As today's weather map shows, a consequence of climate change is that the jet stream, which is the blue and red line snaking across the nation, is now further south and weaker. This means more cold air comes down from Canada and it hangs around longer. So rather than becoming like Miami, the so-called "global warming" actually means NYC is going to become more like Toronto with long harsh winters (and droughts in California) becoming the norm.
3. MOVIE REVIEW: I went to the movies last Sunday and saw Monuments Men. It tells an interesting story, has a great cast including "our Cate" and great scenery, so no surprise it's doing well at the box office. It's going to be screened at Palace Cinemas in Oz commencing in 3 weeks time. I recommend it if you get the chance.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

#507 - Central Park Slushfest

After weeks of hunkering down in our apartments because of the frigid air, everyone was out and about this weekend because we have had our first taste of spring with both days fine and sunny and above 15 deg C - in fact the first 2 days in a row above zero for the year. So all the snow is still around in Central Park, though not for much longer. Days like today are quite rare, to see people out of their health clubs and jogging on the Park's roads in T-shirts and shorts through the melting snowdrifts. The bikers were out as well for the first time, now that the treacherous black ice has melted. I brought my bike over there too, to take these photos of the uptown part of the Park which I did not get to on foot for my 'winter wonderland' post a few weeks back. Sorry I went a bit crazy with the camera today but it really was very photogenic every where you looked.
Things were returning to normal with the playgrounds full of energetic kids, but some activities were still out
Tennis anyone?
Similar story if you wanted to try running off road on the paths. A total slush fest. And it will be like that for days - in fact more cold weather and snow is forecast for later this week.
Even though it's warming up, the lakes and ponds are still frozen but the ice is clearly very thin. However they are spectacular covered in white on a warm sunny day.
Hard to believe that 6 months ago, Maxi, Frankie and Xavi were sitting on this spot watching the radio-controlled sail boats
Or that we picnicked here on Cedar Hill with Kate, with Carmel & Fiona and with our running friends. Finally, the animals were back out too, making it seem like spring. These ducks obviously don't mind cold water.
And the squirrels must also be happy with "cold cuts".
Central Park is a truly wonderful amenity and it's impossible to imagine how even more unbearable NYC would be without it!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

#508 - Winter Storm Number 13 for the season

A loyal Follower of this blog informs me the snow here has made the headlines during the NYC Fashion Week coverage down under, but anyway we got walloped again today. It coincided with my twice-monthly train trip to Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow for clinic, about 50 km north up the Hudson. They got hit even harder up there than "downtown", and there was 20-30 cm accumulation in the four hours I was there. We closed up at noon because every single patient of every practice canceled. I was lucky to get out. Fortunately a kind nurse drove me back to the station. Here are some pics from my schlep.
The much maligned MertoNorth did well to keep the trains running today, even if on a reduced schedule
Tarrytown Station during the white out.
The "station run" is a big call on a day like today!!
Not your typical Australian Park & Ride! :)
The spot where the fatal train derailment occurred late last year, at a suburb called Spuyten Duyvil
Back in the city - Harlem/125th St station

Saturday, February 8, 2014

#509 Week 1 of the Kentucky Derby SHOWdown!

Sorry if you find this post completely boring....Horse racing gets very little attention here, unlike Australia, except when it's the Kentucky Derby. In fact horse racing in America is about as popular as rugby union in Melbourne. As some nark here said, "Horse racing is an old, dying sport, for old, dying fans". The one exception is the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. The nation doesn't exactly stop for the Derby, but it does garner quite a bit of media attention during the lead up. Even the NY Times carries the occasional racing story related to the Derby. One thing that is breathing a little bit of life back into US racing is the tipping contest, or "handicapping contest" as they call it here. They are modelling it on poker tournaments. Pros will pay big money for a seat at the NHC [National Handicapping Contest] at Las Vegas for huge prizes for who ever makes the most money on a day's punting with $20 win bets per race - a bit more sophisticated than the "Punters Club" at the Goulburn Hotel on a Saturday afternoon. Trivia: which President is that on the $100 bill in the graphic? Hint - the $100 bill's nick name is a "Benjamin". Answer at the bottom
Answer: It was a trick question. The picture is Benjamin Franklin. He was never elected as President of the US, although he was one of the 'Founding Fathers'! Anyway, a variation on these handicapping contests are novelty contests like the SHOWdown which I have entered for free and play from home. (I went in one for the Breeders Cup last year and won my comp although there was no prize at that level, but I did have bragging rights). In the SHOWdown, over the next 11 weeks I have to "hit the board" (i.e. my selection must come first, 2nd or 3rd) with twenty consecutive $20 bets in each of the 19 prep races leading into the Kentucky Derby; Bet #20 is the Derby itself. First prize is $1,000,000, but it's harder than it sounds, as these are early season 3 year olds running at tracks all over the country, with minimal exposed form and rapidly and unpredictably improving. Today was the first round, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita in L.A. (I don't think he was any relation to the Bobbie Lewis run at Flemington over the spring carnival) and thankfully my selection Midnight Hawk ran third, so I'm alive going into Week 2. By the way, It's called a SHOWdown, because third is called the "show" here as opposed to second which is the "place" and they are separate bets, not just Win & Place like back home. To bet each way here you have to buy 3 tickets, Win, Place & Show. They call it "Across".

Thursday, February 6, 2014

#531 - more Superbowl dinosaurs

If the frail, elderly Bobby Zimmerman in Chrysler's "Nostalgia" ad wasn't scary enough, another Superbowl 'highlight' was the half-time Seinfeld "Reunion": Jerry, George & Newman The temperature remains below freezing, so yesterday's snow and rain hardened into pack ice, is very hazardous, and requires serious tools to remove it. May be dynamite will be next.
Finally, one for Bill Porter: Subway confirmed on Thursday that they were removing a chemical used to make yoga mats and rubber soles on shoes from their sandwich bread. “We are already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts despite the fact that it is a USDA and FDA approved ingredient,” Subway told CBS News via e-mail. “The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon.” The fact that azodicarbonamide was used as an ingredient in U.S. and Canadian Subway products was brought to light by blogger Vani Hari. Hari claims the chemical can be found in 9-grain wheat, Italian white, honey oat, Italian herbs & cheese, parmesan/oregano, roasted garlic, sourdough and Monterrey cheddar breads. She launched a petition asking the sandwich chain to remove azodicarbonamide from their menu items, pointing out that Australia and Europe have banned the chemical over health concerns. Subway does not use azodicarbonamide in their bread recipes in those countries.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#530 Bob Dylan Superbowl ad

I know there are some Bob Dylan fans among The Followers. This was the car ad he featured it that was screened during the SB telecast Sunday night. Sorry if you already saw it, or you don't like it. As always once it starts playing, double click on the video to get the full screen version (PS another winter storm today - boring)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

#529 - Hi from Super Bowl XLVIII Boulevard

Just a few hours to kick off (6.30pm) for the big game between Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium this year, across the Hudson in NJ and the shared home ground of the NY Jets and the NY Giants. This is the first Superbowl to be played in the NYC metropolitan area and of course, security is massive with constant flyovers of Manhattan by police and FBI helicopters all week, so I will be glad when the game is over.
A close game is expected with the Seahawks underdogs (having a 2.5 point start). The exotic bet on the over/under for the total score is set at 47. The NFL has been lucky with the weather - 12 deg C right now: feels almost tropical! The game is not sold out and the worst tickets are "going out the door" for $1300 (were $4000 earlier in the week).
So it has been Superbowl fever here for the past 2 weeks, and Broadway has been closed to traffic since Monday between Times Square & Herald Square to become Super Bowl Boulevard {Trivia question: Which famous department store is at the corner of Broadway & 34th (official address 151 W.34th St)? Answer at bottom}.
I went to check out SBB yesterday afternoon when it was a balmy 4 degrees. There were various attractions but it was impossible to get near any of them. As with anything free here, it was a total mosh-pit
Superbowl XLVIII by the (big) numbers: A 30-second TV commercial spot costs $4M; $99M will be bet on the game with the sports bookies in Las Vegas; 169M people will watch it in 180 countries and 30 languages; 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed and that the average fan will take in roughly 1,200 calories during the game, according to Wallethub.
Dominos and Pizza Hut are also expected to sell 29 million slices of pizza
Trivia question answer: Macy's

Saturday, February 1, 2014

#528 - Happy Chinese New Year

It's the Year of the Horse (hopefully means a better year on the punt) so went down to Chinatown on the Lower East Side for a feed last night. There were lots of enticing restaurants with crazy names like Big Wong, Amazing 66 and 28 Delight, so it was hard to choose but in the end went for Shanghai Gourmet. I had the wonton soup, shredded pork in garlic sauce, a Tsingtao beer, and complimentary pot of Chinese tea, all for $23 (+tax+tip). The parade and fireworks were all over by time I arrived, but they were still selling the oversize exploding bonbons. NY's Chinatown is the largest in the country. Most of them are from the one province, Fujian, a poor rural area. It's still pretty "authentic" and not really a tourist spot like the one in LA, but Sunday afternoon is supposed to be a good time to go, when the markets are on. Oscars trivia question: 150 years ago, this area used to be a poor Irish neighborhood. Name the 2002 movie, starring Leonardo diCaprio and Daniel Day lewis, that told their story? Answer at bottom.
Answer: Gangs of New York