New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Monday, February 19, 2007

Valentine 2007

Jenn and I had a lovely Valentine's Day this year, and we spent it much the same way as we did last year, except that now we have one more reason to celebrate. Little Zachary was kind enough to stay generally calm and relaxed, allowing us to do the same as we lingered over our feast. As is the tradition, we enjoyed fine cheese and charcuterie from the Bedford Cheese Shop and a few other places in the neighborhood, but this time I decided to kick it up a notch with the addition of a dozen raw oysters served on the half shell. They paired wonderfully with the bottle of Mo√ęt & Chandon my parents had given us a couple of months earlier.

After enjoying the oysters, Champagne, cheese, and charcuterie, Zachary got a little fussy, so we put him to bed and then watched An Inconvenient Truth. It's a disturbing but engaging documentary, which I recommend to everybody. Global warming is real. Denying it, or saying there's a "debate" is like saying there's a debate about gravity. We, meaning the human race on this earth, need to dramatically reduce our CO2 emissions, and fast, if we are to avert disaster. This is not partisan politics, this is a wake-up call. We have entered a period of consequences.

Snow Day

One of the nice things about working on 57th Street is that I can take a stroll through Central Park during lunch. Since it snowed last week, I decided to see how the park looked blanketed in white. I entered the park through Columbus Circle (on the southwest corner), and noticed this statue of a young man, defiant and not shivering at all from the cold.

I continued on along the southern edge of the park, appreciating the tranquility of the softly falling snow. I turned on the flash so I could illuminate some of the flakes. It was only a short walk, but I returned to the office feeling just a bit more relaxed.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Winter Steam

It's another cold evening in New York. I shot this photo on February 8, walking to the subway after having visited Seth and Marissa. I walked past this steam vent and thought it looked kind of nice, good for a photo, so I pulled out my camera and went to work until my hands got cold. This is taken facing north on 14th Street, between Avenue B and Avenue C. The tall buildings in the background are part of Stuyvesant Town, which was recently the subject of the largest real estate deal ever in the history of the world.

As for the steam vent, it's kind of a relic from the past. You've probably seen footage of Manhattan that shows steam rising from a crack in the street. I remember one season of Saturday Night Live's introductory bit showed a bike messenger emerging from a particuarly steamy section of road. It looks cool, but what is the steam on Manhattan streets for?

The short answer is ConEd (that is, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.) generates and sells steam through their ConEd Steam unit. And, if my Encyclopedia Brown skills serve me correctly, I'd say that steam line on 14th Street was very close to the source. ConEd has a plant on the end of 14th Street, by the East River. Perhaps they produce the steam there and send it uptown, downtown, and all around.

Okay, so the question is, what is this steam used for, besides creating noirish affects for filmmakers and bike messengers? Certain companies use it for heating and cooling. It's kind of a legacy of another time, but on cold days, the steam rising really stands out against the blacktop.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Victor in The Guardian

It's always nice to see the dignified surname Ozols in the dignified British press, so I'm pleased to report that The Guardian published a feature story in its Saturday Travel section about Gridskipper, the urban travel blog to which I am a contributor. Gridskipper's editor and various New York-based contributors took turns showing the writer, Benji, around, and I was responsible for the Williamsburg, Brooklyn portion of his tour. I always enjoy showing people around the neighborhood. You can read the article here.

I hope they fix the spelling of McCarren Park, and my surname in the second reference. According to my friend Paul, an actual Englishman, "in Britain it is often affectionately known as 'The Grauniad' due to its reputation for misprints." I still say it's a darn fine newspaper, and I browse its online version every day. I would even say it's my favorite (favourite) British newspaper (if you don't count The Economist as a newspaper). But still, to misspell "Gershwin" in the photo caption - an error likely introduced by the editor - is just sloppy newspapering. Come on, it's not a blog. A little effort, please! Seriously, Girshwin looks right to you? A wee bit of proofreading can go a long way.

It is well below freezing in New York today, and the forecast calls for a continuation of this deep freeze throughout the week. As Moby once said, Give Me Summer (summer summer summer).