Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Favorite - Fireworks

Once again we join with with Thea at The Happy Shutterbug - for a Friday Favorite.

This week we look back at Halloween at The Magic Kingdom.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Waterfall

Time once again to link up with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Waterfall. Why don't you join us?

The Snap

I dug deep into the archives for this snap. April of 1971 to be exact. Living in New York when someone mentions Waterfall, we usually think of this small waterfall of ours. Perhaps you have heard of it ... Niagara Falls? I have visited it many times since I was very little. This one was during the first spring break of my college career. A friend from high school and I set out on a camping trip through Ontario, Canada. (Was I ever that young? Was I ever that thin? Obviously I have always been that short.)

The Set

This set was taken at the Snug Harbor Botanical Gardens. The New York Chinese Scholar's Garden's design is based on the Suzhou Couple's Retreat Garden built in the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty. It was designed by Zu Gwongwu and is the only authentic scholar’s garden in the United States. Some of my favorite sites to photograph here are the waterfalls.

You can see more photos from the New York Chinese Scholar's Garden on my photo blog, Gathered Images.

The Song

Back to Niagara Falls once again. Sometimes the most exciting music is simply the natural sounds of the moment. This is not more evident than when you are standing on the walkway overlooking the two cascades that make up Niagara Falls. On special nights such as The Fourth of July and Canada Day (the falls are right on the US/Canadian border with one cascade being in New York, and one in Ontario), fireworks light up the sky.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nice Try, Sandy!

As Hurricane Sandy was approaching, my wife and I had some decisions to make. Just at the time it was supposed to be starting to affect our area, we were planning on driving from Staten Island to Atlantic City, NJ for a scheduled 2 night stay at one of the Hotel/Casinos.

Naturally, driving through a hurricane wasn't my first choice of activities I wanted to partake of, so after a lot of thought and discussion, we decided to book an additional night and arrive a day early so as to be in the hotel well before the storm arrived.

Over the next day or two we listened to all of the storm predictions, and soon it became obvious that Hurricane Sandy was on course to make landfall in the area of Atlantic City - and if Atlantic City were any closer to the ocean, it would be under water. When we stay here we stay at the marina - in harms way if any place ever was!

As we continued to monitor the news we thought about things such as roads washed out that we might need to use on the way home, and the effect of the storm on the power system. We called the hotel to discuss it and they were very honest with us as to the possibilities. At that point they were planning on remaining open throughout the storm, but if the power went out or the governor ordered the area evacuated, they would naturally have to close. In August, 2011 when Irene hit, Atlantic City was ordered evacuated and the hotels were closed for three days. We decided to not take a chance and canceled our stay.

Good thing, as in the hour after we made the decision, New Jersey Governor Christie ordered the mandatory evacuation of Atlantic City and the towns nearby. The storm did hit and the hotels and casinos were closed for days.

Jump ahead to today (November 26) ... once again we have a scheduled two night trip to Atlantic City planned (thanks to Sandy - my wife, not the storm - for getting complimentary rooms each month) and the weather is beautiful for a month before the start of winter. So off we go!

As we arrived at the outskirts of Atlantic City we spot this sign ... which says it all.

What more is there to say? My home borough of Staten Island got the bulk of the press, but Atlantic City survived ... scarred but not beaten. Putting aside the New York/New Jersey rivalry - it was wonderful to see.

And this is the view from my window here in Atlantic City right now ...

Welcome back Atlantic City!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Rain

Time once again to link up with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Rain. Why don't you join us?

The Snap

A few years ago, a friend from Australia came for a visit, and we happened to be in Florida during Spring Training and she wanted to see her first professional baseball game. My team happened to be in town playing the local team, so we went. Unfortunately when the game was in the second inning the rain came ...

Note: We did get to see my team play on Opening Day back in NY in their own major league stadium.

The Set

We recently had a bit of rain and wind here on Staten Island (and environs) called Hurricane Sandy. While it caused major destruction in the area, in my neighborhood we were very lucky. This is what it looked like the next morning.

The Song

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Friday Favorite - Waiting for Cake

Once again we join with with Thea at The Happy Shutterbug - for a Friday Favorite.

Last weekend my nephew had a birthday party for his 6th birthday and I took this shot of one of my grandsons waiting oh so patiently for his slice of birthday cake.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Red

Time once again to link up with Thea at A Snap, A Set and A Song for this week's theme of Red. This marks the first time in weeks that I have been able to participate two weeks in a row. Between a trip to Disney World, Hurricane Sandy and a nor'easter things have been far from normal here. Hopefully this will start a trend.

The Snap

Speaking of Walt Disney World, this was taken last December during Holiday Wishes, the winter holiday fireworks show in The Magic Kingdom.

The Set

Back to Disney World, but this time in the Spring - last April to be exact - and the International Flower and Garden Festival.

And finally ...

The Song

We started this week with Christmas season fireworks and we end with a Christmas season song. Gene Autry was a film and TV singing cowboy star in the 1930's into the 1950's but his best known work is most likely a song he wrote and recorded in 1949. When I first found this on YouTube it brought back many memories since I had the 78 rpm record shown here when I was very young. (You may need to click on Watch on YouTube to see it, but for the reason stated previously I wanted to use this particular clip.)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Surviving Sandy

No, this isn't about my wife, but about Hurricane Sandy who very rudely visited us here on Staten Island not too long ago.

Hurricanes rarely make it this far north with enough force to do more than a bit of mischief. In fact, most hurricanes which make it this far north usually turn east and head back out in to the Atlantic Ocean. Oh, there have been a handful which have made landfall in this area and caused much devastation, most notably the one in 1938, before the tradition of naming hurricanes. That one was known as the Long Island Express and killed as many as 800 people as well as damaging or destroying about 5,700 homes.

There have been other hurricanes here, most recently Irene which hit in August of 2011, but most often they are not as bad as the forecasters predict - which was one of the causes of many deaths here during Hurricane Sandy.

We knew of its impending approach, and - like with Irene - mandatory evacuations of NYC's "Zone A" were ordered. Many people who heeded those orders last year, only to find the damage to be much less than was expected, did not this time. Many of those people lost their lives because of it.

While I live only about 6 blocks from Zone A, no evacuation for my neighborhood was ordered. I secured my back yard furniture and hoped for the best. I had only recently gone shopping and had 10 gallons of water from my last delivery so we should be okay.

The night of the worst of the storm started out with some wind but strange noises were added to the mix as trees started breaking, and the pressure of the storm was causing the doors on my utility room (which is vented to the outside) to creak and complain. The low pressure in the eye of this storm - which made landfall around Atlantic City, NJ where we had been scheduled to be but canceled - had the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded for a storm north of Cape Hatteras, making this the most powerful storm ever to come this far north, exceeding that of the 1938 hurricane.

Power had been going out all around the region - my son (in New Jersey) had lost power earlier in the day, and after about 30 minutes of mine going on and off, it went off and didn't come back on. Cell towers were offline as well and my cell phone/data connection went along with it. Nothing more to do but go to bed.

The next morning, the storm had weakened and by afternoon I was able to go out and assess what damage had been done. My neighborhood was lucky and while we experienced some large trees which had fallen, they all had miraculously missed hitting anything or anyone - though cars were inches away from them. (You can see some of the photos of the morning after in my neighborhood here.)

Yet, that was not the case in many areas of Staten Island. In the neighborhood where my son had lived until as recently as August when he sold his house and moved to New Jersey, houses were no longer habitable. His old house had its doors blown off, bricks ripped from its structure, a fence and deck completely blown away, and bricks from the garden strewn all over. He lived just a few houses from the ocean.

There used to be a fence and a deck in front here.

Staten Island was badly hit and suffered some of the worst destruction in NYC. Along the shore houses were totally reduced to piles of wood and debris. It is one thing to see it on TV and in the newspapers, but two days ago I had a doctor's appointment and my drive to see him took me down along the road by the ocean. As I drove, the ocean was to my left but what I saw to my right shook me to my core. Houses that were sitting on their foundation at 45° angles ... houses which were nothing more than shells which you could look through the front and out the back ... houses which were now piles of rubble. And among this were people going through what used to be their homes - where possible - and removing possessions. Most of them were winding up on the curb for the Sanitation Department to collect. Sights I hope never to see again. I had considered bringing my camera and documenting anything I might see, but when I saw what I did, even if I had brought it I would not have intruded on people's grief and despair. It was too private a moment.

In the late 1970's we had a gas shortage here in the US, and gas rationing was ordered. If you had a license plate that ended in an even number you could only but gas on even days and on odd days you needed to have an odd number or non-numeric character. Lines were very long and I once waited for five hours to get a half tank of gas. NYC yesterday implemented the same rules. (NJ implemented them last week.) Yesterday I filled my car - today we will fill my wife's.

We will come back - we're NY and we always do. But for many - it will never be as it was before.

A Snap, A Set and A Song - Clouds

After Hurricane Sandy - followed by a snowy nor'easter - knocked NYC off the grid, I once again have electricity and internet ... something that many of my fellow Staten Islanders still don't have. Of course, many Staten Islanders - as well as others here in the Northeast ... no longer have homes, so I have been lucky.

While I am a bit late, I am once again joining with Thea at A Snap, A Set and a Song for this week's theme of Clouds.

Although many of us have seen and photographed clouds in the past, the most dramatic of those pictures are taken as the sun is either rising or setting, so ...

The Snap

My snap was taken as the sun was just peeking over the tree line on a crisp Autumn morning in the Pocono Mountains

The Set

My set is a series taken at the other end of the day ... sunset.

The Song

This song - which I used for a High School filmmaking (and I mean real film - no digital back in the 60's!) project back in the day - always comes into my mind when someone mention clouds. (I can't believe that Joni Mitchell is 69 years old now.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Recovering from Sandy - and an Uncaring Mayor

The storm has passed and now we are attempting to recover from Sandy - the storm, not my wife. We are luckier than most here on Staten Island in that we have electricity and no damage to our house. Many on Staten Island do not. We don't, however, have cable which means that we don't have TV, home phone or home internet. Our cell phone service has come back so we have some connection to the outside world as well as some internet.

Right now I am at my cousin's house who has internet through a different provider so that I can pay my bills and update this blog.

My son, who lives in Manalapan, NJ and my brother in Holmdel, NJ have been without power for the last five days. He had been burning the branches which had blown down on his property in his fireplace for heat. A friend has now opened his house to my son's family.

Getting gas for cars (or generators for those lucky enough to have them) has been a nightmare, reminiscent of the gas lines of 1977.

Yet, our mayor has made two ill conceived decisions that is costing many increased grief here in NYC in general and Staten Island in particular.

The NY Marathon will continue. Generators which could be used to relieve the suffering of those without power are sitting idle at the start and finish lines for the runners. Displaced Staten Islanders have been kicked out of hotels - with no home to go to - so the marathoners have hotel rooms. Thousands of people are being transported to Staten Island - the start of the race - putting an even further strain on the few resources to help those who have lost everything! But the race is more important to hizzoner the mayor than the people of the city he administers.

Schools have been closed all week, and are now scheduled to open on Monday. Our mayor has told all teachers and administrators to report today. Many have no electricity at home nor gas for their car, yet they are being told to report. So what will they be doing when they report? The mayor has said that they are to be preparing for the students to come back on Monday. There is nothing they need to do. Any physical preparations are the responsibility of the school's custodians, not the teachers or administrators. So what will the teachers be doing? My son's school is still being used as a shelter - as are a number of other schools - and he has been told that they will not have access to their classrooms and will be huddled together in the auditorium. All the mayor's order does is put teachers and administrators at risk of harm. Once again - no concern for the people he is responsible for.

Add to that the fact that Tuesday is Election Day and schools are closed anyway. So why not just keep the schools closed until Wednesday. (Don't say "state aid" because enough days are built in to the schedule - and if necessary there are plenty of ways to make up days as has been done in the past.)

Billions of dollars in damage has been done and people are still suffering. Bodies are still being found. And what is our mayor concerned with ... HIS IMAGE!!!!

UPDATE: Bowing to pressure from NYers and runners alike, this year's NY Marathon has been canceled. It will not be run. This is a cancelation not a postponement.