Wanted: A Quiet Meal

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

When, more importantly why, did every restaurant in New York under $50 a plate decide that ambiance required television sets blaring in every room? Today Beth and I ate at what used to be one of our favorite Brooklyn restaurants only to be serenaded by a full hour of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. We were the first customers there so I personally turned off or muted the three closest sets (there are several in each room) but the waiters relentlessly turned them back on again. I asked the waiter to leave them off, but he flat out refused, claiming that this was “entertainment”. My entreaties for a quiet meal on the water with my wife had no effect on him.

TV on the wall at Nick’s Lobster House, Brooklyn
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Planning the Reservoir’s Future

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

Yesterday, Peter Dorosh, myself and about 20 other people attended the second of the New York City Parks Dept’s “Listening Sessions” for Ridgewood Reservoir. We learned that $50 million has been allocated specifically to turn Ridgewood Reservoir into a “destination park”; that is, one that will draw people in from outside the neighborhood. This is part of PlanNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s 25-year plan of which, according to Kim Fallon, the “biggest part is greening the city.” In particular, the plan proposes planting about one million new trees. As Peter kept pointing out, it seems rather strange to bulldoze an area that’s already full of native trees in order to accomplish this.

Seven other areas are up for the same treatment including the beach at Far Rockaway, Dreier-Offerman Park in Brooklyn, Ocean Breeze in Staten Island, Fort Washington Park and the Highline in Manhattan. Mark K. Morrison has already been selected as design consultant. A preliminary plan should be available in a few months. They hope to start construction in Fiscal Year 2009. It’s not clear how far advanced the city’s plans are, or in fact what they are. Other than the statement in the plan that they want to “set aside two of three basins as a nature preserve and new active recreation center” they really haven’t said very much. I hope they haven’t made up their minds yet.

The stated goal of the session was to listen to what local residents want to be done to the park. Roughly 25 people attended, split about half and half between nature enthusiasts like Peter and myself and folks from the immediate neighborhood. (The Parks Dept. employees kept calling the nature folks “birdwatchers”, but the group that was there was quite a bit more diverse than that.) There were also about a dozen Parks Dept. officials. Also in the audience was state assemblyman Daryl Towns.

Kim Fallon at podium holding questionnaire

Kim Fallon, Acting Queens Team Leader, Parks Projects

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Giant Italian Lizards Invade Queens!

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

When we first visited Ridgewood Reservoir back in April, a local told us that there were hundreds of large lizards at the site in the summer. That was hard to believe since New York has almost no native lizard species (in fact, only two, both skinks). You occasionally see an escaped pet iguana; but they never make it through the winter. However today on our fourth trip to the site we found one of the rumored lizards and trapped it in a bottle so we could get a closer look:

Green and brown lizard in a bottle

Al Ott identified this as an Italian Ruin Lizard, a.k.a. Italian Wall Lizard, Podarcis sicula. Rob Jett also recognized it from a trip to Rome. They’re an invasive species that has been settling small colonies on Long Island for the last three decades or so, and they’re expanding. So far all we have is this one specimen, but I suspect we’ll see more as the summer progresses.

How they make it through a New York winter I have no idea; but apparently they can do that, something few native American lizards can do.
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Is There Public WI-FI at Google New York?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Title says it all. I have a user group meeting at Google’s Chelsea office, and I’m debating whether it’s worth lugging my laptop into town or not. If there’s no Wifi, I might as well just bring pencil and paper.

Valentine’s Day Dinner Massacre

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

Memo to self: never go to a restaurant you actually like on Valentine’s Day. The restaurant’s overcrowded, the staff overworked, the food cold, you can’t get a decent table, the bill will be wrong, and anything that can go wrong will.

I won’t name names, because every restaurant in New York has the same problems on Valentine’s Day; but last year I went to a very nice restaurant where Beth and I have gone for birthdays, anniversaries, and such for about ten years now; and it’s always been wonderful.

This time, let’s just say it wasn’t. If this had been the first time we’d gone there, it would have been the last. We got a horrible table. My chair was broken. The food ranged from overcooked to cold (or both). Service was abominable. Just an all around bad experience.

I Hate Queens

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

What misanthropist thought it would be a good idea to put 44th Road, 44th Drive, and 44th Avenue in the same borough? And not only that, but put them one block away from each other running parallel? It’s amazing anyone ever gets their mail in this borough.