Tag Archives: weather

Lame Adventure 457: Single Digit Days

Here it is: the dead of winter.

Save the wipers!

Save the wipers!

The city is looking bleak.

Wintertime specialty: snow covered uncollected trash.

Wintertime specialty: snow covered uncollected trash.

I’ve read in the New York Times that New York is on track for the coldest February since 1934. I wasn’t around 81 years ago to recall that winter, but this February is certainly in the record books inside my head. It’s been cold in winter, but I never remember it being this cold. I wish that I could hibernate until mid-March. Yesterday I woke before the alarm, a melodic tune reminiscent of an air raid siren. After checking the time, I checked the weather.

Great: a degree for each of my fingers and thumb.

An entire degree for each of my fingers and one for my thumb.

I rolled out of bed reasoning that in six months, it will probably feel a hundred degrees warmer and I’ll be pining for this blast of inhumane skin-searing freeze. Then, I rode my spin bike at warp speed for forty minutes. Afterward, I checked the temperature again anticipating that it might have doubled.

Shouldn't there be more degrees by now? Are the rest in hiding?

Shouldn’t there be more degrees by now? Are the rest in hiding?

I was not amused. I had the impression that Mother Nature was being a different two-word expression starting with mother. If it had been the weekend, I would have treated myself to a bowl of hearty comfort mush dotted with cranberries and drizzled with maple syrup.

Tasty mush!

Tasty mush!

I would have brewed a cup of my favorite green tea that looks like urine but tastes infinitely less disgusting.

Product placement.

Product placement.

Instead, it was the workweek: the time to grab a banana, a yogurt and a fruit bar to inhale at one’s desk at The Grind while pounding high octane English Breakfast tea to delay the coma that accompanies working in Excel. After locking my hovel, I indulged my obsession with the temperature one last time. Finally, the hallelujah moment had arrived and the mercury was crawling upward albeit with the gusto of an arthritic snail.

The weather playing hard to get (warm).

The weather playing hard to get (warm).

One day last week when I woke it was even colder than yesterday’s three; it was one-third the amount of degrees. Yes, it was an isolated miserable degree.

One entire degree.

One entire degree.

That feels like -11.

That feels like -11.

In the almost 32 years that I have lived in New York City, I never recall the temperature dropping down to one stand alone degree. I asked myself:

Me: Am I living in New York or Anchorage?

Vacation destination.

Vacation destination.

Last Sunday, the temperature soared to 41!

Heat wave!

Heat wave!

What 41 degrees feels like: wow, 41 degrees!

What 41 degrees feels like: wow, 41 degrees!

I layered less, wore my lighter down parka, didn’t wear a hat and hightailed up West End Avenue on a walk that predominantly entailed dodging melting snow dripping off awnings, sidestepping mounds of slush and jumping across ankle deep curbside puddles that could have doubled as ponds. Not so simple sidewalk strolling that doubled as an aerobic workout.

Hurdle this.

Hurdle this.

As much as I loathed this obstacle course, I relished being outdoors and not dressed for an expedition in the arctic. The Times has reported that under this long, bitterly cold winter:

“ … spring is stirring.

The snow, in fact, is a great insulator — the more the better, said Kristin Schleiter, senior curator at the New York Botanical Garden.”

Apparently, when spring arrives, flowers will bloom magnificently and New York is going to be awash in an explosion of color and hopefully not serenaded with a symphony of sneezing. Naturally, I welcome the warmth of spring. It’s a nice antidote to the ice, snow, slush and maybe even this guitar pick some joker left in the tip jar at my laundromat.

Eric Clapton was not here.

Eric Clapton was not here.

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Lame Adventure 406: Feather Headed

When I label a ton of bricks like I recently did all afternoon at The Grind my thoughts naturally stray from the mind-numbing task at hand and I start wondering. I wonder about what became of my grade school peers, people I primarily last saw in 1973 most of whom I loathed and whose names have faded from memory, but their acne and braces have real staying power. Are they now happy and fulfilled, or miserable and adrift? Do the girls look dowdy, have the guys lost their hair, how many of them are orphans, how many are dead themselves? On that uplifting note, my mind drifted in the direction of the somnambulant: what should I prepare for dinner, chicken with steamed spinach or fish with zucchini? To regain some semblance of consciousness, my thoughts shifted to a reliable source of pick-me-up: sex. But they landed there only for a moment; about the length of time it takes me to maintain interest having descended into being a magnet for women who are dedicated practitioners of room clearing halitosis. Instead of suggesting, “I’ll bring the wine” when invited over, would it be misinterpreted if I offered to bring the Listerine?

Suddenly my reverie was interrupted with a familiar musical interlude for those of you like me who find the frantic beating of pigeon wings on an air conditioner soothing. As I listened to the rock doves clamoring outside that were either passionately mating or engaging in a feather flying turf war, both acts uncannily sound equally aerobic, I thought:

Me: What a joyful noise!

According to this veteran avian observer, when pigeons party on the air conditioner like it’s 1999, that means that the temperature outside might actually be the unthinkable: above freezing. According to the New York Times, “By January’s end, if the forecast holds, there will have been 15 days with temperatures in the teens or lower.” By the Times’ count, January 2014 has had only  “roughly four days” with average temperatures. I checked the temperature on my phone and saw the unimaginable this winter. It was a balmy 45 degrees!

Balmy!

Balmy!

I thought:

Me: I could tear off my clothes and run around the block naked and screaming.

Then, I remembered that if I did that, there might be many clothed people screaming right back at me including my superior, Elspeth:

Elspeth: Put your clothes back on and finish labeling these bricks!

Of course three hours later, when it was quitting time, it had plummeted to 28 and I could not be clothed enough.

Chilly!

Chilly!

I informed my colleague, Godsend, that the temperature was once again in freefall. I accessed my inner Al Roker, minus the lap band, and forecast that it would be about 25 when she returned to Queens that evening. I warned her that the longer it would take her to get home, the lower it would go. If she delayed getting back until 2 am, it might only be 16. She assured me that she was going straight home. In fact, mentally, she seemed to be following my lead and had not shown up to The Grind at all that day.

Back to pigeons in winter, when they are not around, or worse, when they appear, but their feathers are puffy and they’re perched quietly, like this one planted outside my window over the weekend, when it was a bone chilling 18, then you know that’s a sure sign that it’s frigid cold again.

"What I'd give right now for a donut and for it to be 40 degrees."

“What I’d give right now for a doughnut and for it to be 40 degrees.” Me, too!

Lame Adventure 359: The Idiot’s Response to Winter Storm Nemo

As many already know the Northeast was ruthlessly pummeled by an ugly winter storm with the adorable name, Nemo.

The facts of Nemo (chart from The New York Times).

The facts of Nemo (chart from The New York Times).

I woke Saturday morning, looked outside my Upper West Side brownstone’s window, and saw that the back yard was inundated with snow for the first time in almost two years. A tree that I had never seen before in my life was hanging on a fence.

Look closely, some romantic drew a heart in the snow on a table.

Look closely, some romantic drew a heart in the snow on the table at the bottom of this image.

I mentioned this mystery tree in an email exchange with my devoted reader, Mike G. He suggested:

Mike G. email: Tree may have come from Long Island. It was very windy.

Me email: Yeah, I was thinking Jersey.

Mike G. email: Wind was coming from ocean. Definitely Nassau County.

With the fallen mystery tree situation solved I decided to venture outside to assess the snowfall up close and personally. Unlike other areas along the Eastern seaboard, New York City escaped the storm with a mere dusting. Only 11.4 inches of snow were measured in Central Park, not what had accumulated overnight in the two abandoned shopping carts from my go-to market, Fairway.

The Lame Adventure method of measuring snowfall in Manhattan.

The Lame Adventure method of measuring snowfall in Manhattan.

As expected, life was relatively normal in my neighborhood, as normal as can be under a blanket of heavy snow.  Sidewalks were shoveled and West End Avenue was plowed.  There were also the obvious signs that dogs were being walked.

No one eat that.

No one eat that.

Children were sledding in Riverside Park.

Good time to be a kid with a sled.

Good time to be a kid with a sled.

The sky was clear and vibrant blue.

Good time to be the sky.

Good time to be the sky.

There were also some sorry sights including bikes buried deeply, piles of uncollected trash and vehicles that were plowed in.

At least the seat will be dry.

At least the seat will be dry.

Frozen bagged trash waiting for collection.

Frozen bagged trash waiting for collection.

Vehicles on West End Avenue manageably plowed in.

Vehicles on West End Avenue plowed in to a manageable degree.

Digging out this vehicle on a side street might induce a heart attack.

Digging out this vehicle on a side street might induce a heart attack.

It is unclear when the sanitation department will surface to pick up the piles of trash that were put out for collection Friday in anticipation of the regularly scheduled Saturday morning pick-up. A pick-up that has yet to happen. I can understand why trash is put outside on Friday even though the forecast anticipated this monumental weather event and it was the top story on every newscast, major and minor. There are times when the forecast is wrong, or the Armageddon-type weather event turns out to be flaccid. This robust storm’s forecast was one that the meteorologists nailed. Now, my neighborhood’s streets are strewn with mountains of frozen garbage buried deep in snow.

Partially buried trash for recycling.

Partially buried trash for recycling.

Buried frozen bags of trash are not such an unusual sight in winter, but what I find irksome is the sight of fresh garbage the neighborhood knuckleheads toss over the frozen garbage creating further clutter on city sidewalks.

"Get this mattress out of my sight now!"

“I don’t care that it snowed almost a foot! I want this mattress out of the house now!”

We just had an epic snowstorm that dumped nearly a foot of snow on the city. Is it really necessary to respond to it with taking out the esoteric junk lying around the apartment right now, this very minute?  The esoteric junk owners likely had this stuff for years already.

"Put this table out when the neighbor's aren't looking."

“Put this table out when the neighbor’s aren’t looking.”

What’s so traumatic about keeping it inside and out of sight another few days, or at least until trash collection returns to regularly scheduled programming? I’m all for de-cluttering, but I’m also capable of resisting the urge to hold off on doing my spring-cleaning until spring, or even holding off doing it until spring 2014. What’s the rush? Clearing out the clutter the morning after a major winter weather event strikes me as just Type A, for asshole.

"Hey look, I found Granny's old wheelchair! Put it outside or what?"

“Hey look, I found Granny’s old wheelchair! Put it outside or what?”

Lame Adventure 324: Mother Nature Flips Me the Bird

Following another productive day of unwinding paperclips at The Grind, I exited the 72nd Street subway station at 5:55 Tuesday evening.  I looked up at the temperature on the Apple Bank digital clock at 73rd and Broadway and thought:

Me (thinking):  I can’t believe it’s 94.

Believe it.

What compelled me to think that made no sense for it’s July.  July is always hot.  Some July days seem hot as hell. What would call for genuine disbelief is if the temperature was half that, 47.  Or 57.  How about 27 and snowing?  Snow in New York City in July would certainly be a global news top story.  The Big Apple had snow in October last year and en masse everyone was bracing for a winter worthy of Siberia.  In fact, last winter was one of the mildest on record. We had next to no snow all season.  Of course people were bitching about that.  I paraphrase:

Bitching New Yorkers:  Where the hell’s the snow?   It doesn’t feel like winter.

Back to the present on this seasonably hot July day that feels exactly like summer, sweat was surfacing from my scalp down to the soles of my feet and all body parts in-between.  Soon you could probably fry an egg off me.  A minute passed. It read 5:56 on the clock.  There was a correction that added validity to my disbelief.

The reward for staring.

I wondered if I continued to stare at that clock like a slack-jawed doofus for another five minutes would the temperature climb to 100?  I didn’t stand around to find out.

Lame Adventure 197: Temperature Wars

Much of the country is in a heat wave.

Channeling my inner Bill Cunningham, interesting sun bonnet from behind.

On Thursday, temperatures in Gotham City reached a high of 96, but the heat index – whatever that is — the “real feel” temperature (?) made it feel more like 102.  All I knew was that it felt hot as a kiln outside.

My go-to source of weather news, the sidewalk on Greenwich Street.

Thursday was also the day when I inconveniently left my quart-size Cold Brew iced tea bottle at home, but I did remember to bring a new box of tea.  I realized this snafu as I was hotfooting my way up to the subway station, running late as usual.  There was no time to return to my sanctum sanctorum to retrieve this vessel I value on the level of my glasses, cell phone and camera, nor was there time to purchase an overpriced inferior iced tea on my way into work.  The most practical solution for me to savor a caffeine fix would have been to sit at my desk and chew on one of my new tea bags, preferably with the tag hanging out of my pie-hole, but I resisted pursuing that course of desperate action and was in a predominantly foul mood until my 1 pm feeding.

My boss, Elsbeth, had a dental appointment and arrived around eleven.  Outside my window I noticed that the usually bickering pigeons I call Israel and Palestine perched on the air conditioner have called a temporary truce and are actually sharing the space in peace.

Israel and Palestine making nice.

As seen in the above photo, Israel does not even have the energy to stand, or possibly it was further weighted by the humidity.  It is at this same time that Elsbeth starts fiddling with the thermostat, one of her favorite pastimes all year round.  I hear her repeatedly turning buttons on and off.  She shifts the gage from 72 to 85 announcing:

Elsbeth:  I’m cold.

Instantly, I can feel my body temperature soar.

Me (screaming inside my head):  Christ on a cross, woman, it’s the hottest day of the fucking year, open your window!

Me (saying in a helpful cheery tone):  Just open your window, Boss.

Elsbeth (epiphany):  That’s a good idea!

She returns to her office and opens her window.  I hurdle my desk and slap that gage back down to 72.  A few minutes later I have to visit the Accounting department three floors away.  When I return, I see the gage has been raised to 79.

Hands off!

I emit my trademark monosyllabic sound effect that’s a cross between a gasp, a sigh, and an acid-reflux induced retch.

My colleague, Ling, is looking flushed.  She’s wearing a tank top and her hair is puddled atop her head.  Chilly Elsbeth is wearing cargo pants and a long sleeve tunic.  I must remember to suggest she bring her fleece or a wool blanket.

Ling (definitive): It feels hot in here.

This is due to the heat wafting in through Elsbeth’s open window.  I give up the fight and announce that I have to run an errand.  I step outside into the soup and invest 26 cents into the purchase of a single banana, my contribution to reviving the stagnant economy.

Even the Dominique Strauss Kahn stalkers in the press abandoned their posts across the street from his lair, it was that hot. They completely missed DSK standing in his doorway clad only in flip flops asking for maid service.

Lame Adventure 157: The Wrath of Ice

Wednesday, I segued from my usual grousing about the snow and slush to new grousing about freezing rain and ice.  Although my normal pace is overdrive, the slippery sidewalk has forced me to heed caution and downshift to first gear.  I admit that I fear falling and breaking one of the more obscure bones in my 206 bone being.

My boss’s daughter who’s half my age and twice my level of fitness fell in the street this week and tore all the ligaments in her ankle.  Elsbeth, my superior, drew me a vivid illustration of her spawn’s injury complete with ligament tears.  Just looking at that image was enough to make me silently retch.  Had I not found that sketch so disturbing I surely would have thought to photograph it for this post.

I have been noticing more and more people with an arm in a sling or a foot encased in a ski-boot-type cast.  I highly doubt that these injuries were caused by ordinary drunkenness or basic clumsiness such as tripping over the cat or a small child.  I am certain that the wicked weather is the culprit.  In addition, there’s the possibility of getting beaned by a chunk of ice hurling itself kamikaze-style off a building roof or ledge.  I narrowly avoided suffering that indignity both last year and last week.

Returning to the subject of falling, about 85 percent into the old millennium, I was introduced to black ice the hard way.  I was wearing stupid shoes while crossing West End Avenue one winter’s evening.  Stupid shoes are harsh weather averse footwear such as spike heels, sandals or swim fins, although mine were crummy sneakers.

Suddenly, my feet lifted out from under me and I was airborne for what seemed to be a ten count, but in reality, I was probably upended for little more than a tenth of a second.  I was fully conscious of my approaching fate.  Borrowing a page from Wile E. Coyote’s book of tragic mishap where he finds himself standing next to the cliff rather than on it, I was completely perpendicular to the street below and feeling doomed.

Me (thinking):  This is gonna hurt.

The law of gravity combined with g-force kicked in.  My back slammed so hard on the asphalt I initially wondered if I left my impression embedded in the avenue.  I didn’t, but the shooting pain that followed resonated throughout my entire upper body.  The avenue left its impression in me.

It was a most unusual sensation.

Unlike Mr. Coyote, I fortunately suffered this fall when cars were not barreling down the avenue so I was spared the added indignity of finding myself reduced to road kill identifiable only by my stupid shoes.  Shaky and dazed, I was resilient enough to spring to my feet and continued my trek home warbling the British spiritual courtesy of Monty Python, I’m a Lumberjack.

Although the memory of that fall remains burned in my brain forever, I healed quickly.  If I were subject to a similar injury today, I am certain that my entire body would be in a splint for weeks.

Lame Adventure 90: Rainy Days and Wednesdays

For the past four days, Gotham has been cloudy and rainy.  It feels much more like October than August, but considering that most of July felt akin to being trapped in Hell’s basement, particularly while being broiled alive on the subway platform, I’m not complaining.  Well, not complaining much.  My hair does look like a big brown cloud, and I am not too thrilled about that.  Pictured below are the crippled remains of an umbrella; an umbrella that was very likely purchased by some drenched sap or sapette for around five dollars from a New York City rainstorm institution, The Umbrella Man.

Undignified ending.

The Umbrella Man is a guy, and always a guy — I have never seen an Umbrella Woman, that miraculously appears on every Gotham City street corner and outside subway stations the second it starts to rain with a pile of cheap, crummy umbrellas.  He chants, “Umbrella, umbrella, umbrella …” almost as if this word was on an endless loop.  Every so often he zeroes in on a potential customer, usually someone holding a soggy newspaper or wearing a plastic shopping bag – the definitive rainstorm fashion statement — over his or her head.  Directly, The Umbrella Man says to this target, “Five dollars,” but controls the impulse to add, “You fool.”

I’ve lived in New York so long, I remember when these guys used to charge three dollars.  Since I am almost always equipped with my own umbrella, I have two turbocharged models that might have been manufactured by Maserati for they almost pull my arm out of its socket when I press the button that opens them, it’s possible that The Umbrella Man might be charging six dollars or more by now.  One thing that I am certain of is that the quality of The Umbrella Man’s umbrellas remains trash can worthy, and that’s the likely destination of the vast majority that are not ditched in the street like the one pictured above.

Almost as soon as you open one of The Umbrella Man’s umbrellas, if there is as much as a Chihuahua’s sneeze in the air, it will instantly blow inside out, so you can imagine how sturdy they are under gale force wind.  It has occurred to me that these umbrellas might blow inside out if opened under a sunny blue sky, simply because there is an umbrella industry conspiracy in play here.  The conspiracy is that The Umbrella Man’s umbrellas are purposely designed to blow inside out to ensure that customers will either buy more umbrellas from The Umbrella Man, which could be another definition of insanity, or just before these users commit themselves to a mental institution, these same customers – people like me – break down and invest the equivalent of a one way plane fare to New Orleans on JetBlue in a top of the line umbrella instead.  Also, if I were inclined to visit New Orleans this time of year, it would probably behoove me to pack my performance-enhanced umbrella.

Returning to the subject of the defective nature of The Umbrella Man’s wares, the handles tend to be wobbly and the little round piece at the top holding the entire apparatus together has been known to fall off, especially if you’re like me and bought one that said Totes.  That batch of The Umbrella Man’s umbrellas was probably manufactured in the same third world sweat shop that produces knock off Coach and Louis Vuitton handbags.

If the user of an umbrella purchased from The Umbrella Man is able to get three uses out of it, that user is qualified to be ABC News’s Geek of the Week, and/or they should make a guest appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman to discuss this phenomenon, for it simply does not happen.