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Month: September 2007

Craigslist and the ‘Hood

Craigslist and the ‘Hood

After I posted the video on Tuesday, Micah found a free desk on Craigslist. All we had to do was pick it up from the curb a few blocks away, provided it was still there, of course. Craigslist in New York is crazy. We’ve called on things half an hour after they were posted and they are already gone, so imagine our delight when this never-been-used desk, still in the (kind of beat up) box, was where the poster said it would be a whole hour after it was posted. Micah carried it part way home, with the help of two neighbors–both named Israel–and I came and helped carry it the rest of the way. We put it together and a few hours later we had a beautiful new office. The old desk has been put to good use in the kitchen where it has quadrupled our counter space. It’s heavenly.

And for those of you who are curious about our neighborhood, let me tell you a bit about it. I think I’ve mentioned that the majority race is black, although mostly Caribbean, not African-American. So we have lots of Jamaicans, Haitians, Guyanese, Dominicans, etc. And not all of them speak English very well. It seems like every time I go to the laundromat somebody asks me how old Simon is, but they have to repeat the question three or four times before I understand it. The West Indian/Caribbean association has a huge parade (like, 2 million people go to this thing) on Labor Day. We were going to post about it, but it was SO loud (Simon hated it more than anything) and there wasn’t anything really worth posting on a family blog. The only reason we even went out was, actually, because we were getting free stuff from Craigslist and had to fight the crowds to get back home. Most of the white people we see are Hasidic Jews. The headquarters for the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic Jewish community is right down the street from us. I think they mostly speak Yiddish (at least at home), but I can’t say that I’ve had a lot of interaction with them. Sometimes we will see another white person dressed in modern clothes, but rarely.

Our part of town is mostly residential, although there are corner stores and grocery stores and so many beauty salons (all specializing in African hair) on every block. There is a small park a few blocks away, and Prospect Park (the biggest park in Brooklyn) is three subway stops away, as is the main Brooklyn library (there is a local branch a few blocks from us). It is a decent place to live. I have heard rumors of gentrification, but it seems as though every neighborhood is rumored to be gentrifying. If our neighborhood is, we haven’t seen it yet.

And yes, we have heard gunshots nearby. Just once. Hopefully never again. So although we like our apartment and our branch, we probably won’t look back when we move. Of course by the time our lease is up, we’ll probably want another bedroom for Simon anyway. Provided we can afford such a thing.

Craigslist and the 'Hood

Craigslist and the 'Hood

After I posted the video on Tuesday, Micah found a free desk on Craigslist. All we had to do was pick it up from the curb a few blocks away, provided it was still there, of course. Craigslist in New York is crazy. We’ve called on things half an hour after they were posted and they are already gone, so imagine our delight when this never-been-used desk, still in the (kind of beat up) box, was where the poster said it would be a whole hour after it was posted. Micah carried it part way home, with the help of two neighbors–both named Israel–and I came and helped carry it the rest of the way. We put it together and a few hours later we had a beautiful new office. The old desk has been put to good use in the kitchen where it has quadrupled our counter space. It’s heavenly.

And for those of you who are curious about our neighborhood, let me tell you a bit about it. I think I’ve mentioned that the majority race is black, although mostly Caribbean, not African-American. So we have lots of Jamaicans, Haitians, Guyanese, Dominicans, etc. And not all of them speak English very well. It seems like every time I go to the laundromat somebody asks me how old Simon is, but they have to repeat the question three or four times before I understand it. The West Indian/Caribbean association has a huge parade (like, 2 million people go to this thing) on Labor Day. We were going to post about it, but it was SO loud (Simon hated it more than anything) and there wasn’t anything really worth posting on a family blog. The only reason we even went out was, actually, because we were getting free stuff from Craigslist and had to fight the crowds to get back home. Most of the white people we see are Hasidic Jews. The headquarters for the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic Jewish community is right down the street from us. I think they mostly speak Yiddish (at least at home), but I can’t say that I’ve had a lot of interaction with them. Sometimes we will see another white person dressed in modern clothes, but rarely.

Our part of town is mostly residential, although there are corner stores and grocery stores and so many beauty salons (all specializing in African hair) on every block. There is a small park a few blocks away, and Prospect Park (the biggest park in Brooklyn) is three subway stops away, as is the main Brooklyn library (there is a local branch a few blocks from us). It is a decent place to live. I have heard rumors of gentrification, but it seems as though every neighborhood is rumored to be gentrifying. If our neighborhood is, we haven’t seen it yet.

And yes, we have heard gunshots nearby. Just once. Hopefully never again. So although we like our apartment and our branch, we probably won’t look back when we move. Of course by the time our lease is up, we’ll probably want another bedroom for Simon anyway. Provided we can afford such a thing.

Our Pad

Our Pad

I said I would give you a tour of our apartment, and here it is. Enjoy our little slice of The City.

I hope you can hear me okay. If not, just make up your own narrative. It is more fun that way.

Our Pad

Our Pad

I said I would give you a tour of our apartment, and here it is. Enjoy our little slice of The City.

I hope you can hear me okay. If not, just make up your own narrative. It is more fun that way.

Our Pad

Our Pad

I said I would give you a tour of our apartment, and here it is. Enjoy our little slice of The City.

I hope you can hear me okay. If not, just make up your own narrative. It is more fun that way.

Our Pad

Our Pad

I said I would give you a tour of our apartment, and here it is. Enjoy our little slice of The City.

I hope you can hear me okay. If not, just make up your own narrative. It is more fun that way.

All About Simon

All About Simon

Editor’s note: It has been brought to our attention that we have been neglecting our responsibility to post new pictures of our kid every week, so we are making up for lost time. Feel free to use any of the following images as your wallpaper.
The little frog turned 5 months on Monday and has been hitting some milestones. You already know a bit about the solid food experiment, so I’ll just say it’s been a success so far. He’s probably gotten less than a teaspoon into his little stomach and he’s not as thrilled about the high chair as we are, but he seems to be having a good time anyway. Just look at how pleased he is.This week also brought with it a new development: He now rolls onto his belly. Some of you may recall that he used to roll off of his belly. Not any more. This does not mean that he likes being on his belly, he just can’t stop himself from doing it every time we lay him on the floor. We think he may be getting ready to *gulp* crawl. For the time being, however, he is using the new position to be helpful by mopping up his own spit up. With his face. We appreciate the thought, but it doesn’t really make our job any easier.
We haven’t taken the tyke in for a check-up since we left Hawaii, but by our (not very precise) measurements he is about 20 pounds and about 24 inches long. According to various websites that is about 95th for weight and less than 5th for height. Chunky little monkey.Yeah, he’s super cute.

Field Trip!: The New York Times

Field Trip!: The New York Times

My journalism class went to check out the fronting meeting at the NY Times today. It is where the editors from each of the major sections (Foreign, National, Business, Culture, Metro, Sports, etc.) get together to pitch their top stories or whatever they have that they think might be good for the next day’s front page. Usually six stories make it to the front, with several more as “refers” where the story is mentioned on the front, but the actual text runs inside. After they hammer out what stories are going to be on the front page (which could change if a big story breaks after the meeting– they can change the content up until around midnight), they have a slide show of the best images of the day and decide which of those will go on the front page.

Sometimes there is a little bit of debate about what goes on the front–not usually, just sometimes. Today, for instance, there was a story they were planning to run about Mitt Romney and his connection to the Salt Lake Olympics. It is sort of part of a series about each of the Presidential contenders and the moment he (or she) became a national figure. The story about Mr. Romney, however, wasn’t written exactly up to front page standards so they were going to put it somewhere else. The National editor didn’t think this was fair because the other nominees have had front page stories and he didn’t see why Mr. Romney’s piece shouldn’t be on the front page, too. They talked about it a bit and finally decided that it needed to be written for the front page, or that it needed to be revised and edited until it was front page material and it needed to be done by the end of the day. If it wasn’t, they might hold it for the next day.

The slide show was very cool as well. They had some great images, but some of their best images didn’t have a front page story to go with it. There were two images of some Palestinian schoolgirls whose school was right by where there was some gunfire between Palestinians and Israelis. One of the images showed the girls lined up in a hallway, some covering their faces, some screaming, and another showed two girls huddled under some desks. They were really great photos, but the story that went with them wasn’t a front page story. The editors discussed having a “floater” and just putting one of the pictures on the front and then referring to the story inside, or just running one of them in black on white on the inside, but they didn’t reach a final conclusion–it would be left for the front page editor to make an executive decision on. They also debated putting two archival shots on the front page–one of Mr. Giuliani being sworn in as mayor for a story about his friendship with some other guy, and another of some Nazis at Auschwitz having a grand old time (there was one of a guy lighting candles on a Christmas tree and another of a bunch of SS men and women crossing a bridge, looking like they were having a grand time–one was even playing an accordion) for an inside story about the National Holocaust Museum, but they wanted to avoid having two black and white pictures on the front page.

Other than that, we learned a little about the layout of the paper, the typefaces, how they decide what goes where and how many pages each section gets, and what would happen if Rev. Billy Graham died tonight. Interesting, but not as cool as sitting in on the fronting meeting. It was by far the coolest school-related event I have been to. Probably ever. There was just something almost tingly about hearing these people decide what the nation is going to learn about first when they pick up a copy of The Times tomorrow.

My favorite quote from the outing: “A newsroom is really just a Kindergarten.” More about school later . . . .

The picture is from my cell phone, so it isn’t great. Sorry! It is of the lobby of the Times building. The walls by the elevators are a really cool orange, and some of the walls in the newsroom are bright red, like the security turn-stalls.

Hungry, Hungry Hippo

Hungry, Hungry Hippo

Simon has been grabbing at our plates, making puppy dog faces at us as we eat, opening his mouth whenever we open ours to eat, and trying to chew his fingers off for a few weeks. We think this means he is hungry. And since he turned 5 months today, we think that now is the time to introduce him to solids. I made some rice cereal today and we just ordered him a little high chair (which I’m sure is going to be awesome). I’ll let you know how it goes.

On a related note, in the reading about introducing solids to infants I get the idea that:

1. You should watch your baby’s signs to figure out if he is ready to eat. (The signs being grabbing, staring while you eat, mouthing everything, etc.)
2. You should not give your baby solids before he is 6 months old.
3. You should pay attention to the baby, not the calendar.

It seems a little bit contradictory to me, but I’m trusting that Simon knows that he’s ready. I just can’t ignore those puppy dog eyes any longer.

"Are you Jewish?"

"Are you Jewish?"

This is a question that both Micah and I have been asked a few times in the past week. We assumed it had something to do with the fact that yesterday and today are Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year (or one of the Jewish new years). Micah said that just before the first time he was asked, he heard somebody else be asked if they were Jewish and his response was, “Oh, I’ve done it already.” Now we are both curious about what “it” is, but I haven’t been able to find out if there is anything specific Jews are supposed to do the week before Rosh Hashanah. I am also curious as to why random Jews are asking me if I am Jewish. Do I look Jewish? Is it something to do with Rosh Hashanah? One of the men who asked me looked like he might read to me out of the Talmud (or some other book that was written in Hebrew) if I answered yes. I suppose I could go out on Eastern Parkway and hope someone else asks me, and then ask him why he is asking me, but I thought I would see if anybody else knows more about this than I do.

Also, in case you wanted to know what some Jewish traditions for Rosh Hashanah are, I will tell you. Jews like to eat apples dipped in honey, or put honey on their bread (usually they put salt) as a symbol of a sweet new year. They also toss stones or bread into natural flowing water to symbolize casting off sins. The month before Rosh Hashanah is a time of self-reflection and of making resolutions, and the ten days after Rosh Hashanah are a time to repent before Yom Kippur.

At least that is what I learned from Wikipedia just now.