songbird's crazy world Long Island restaurants NaBloPoMo March 2015

songbird's crazy world

life in and around NYC is insane

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Product review Fitbit

Having lost my iHealth activity monitor just as I was getting interested in using it, I ordered a new activity monitor.

This time around, I chose a Fitbit Charge.

I like that the device is permanently mounted in the wristband.  The band is slim and comfortable to wear. The clasp takes a little getting used to.  I hear that some people get skin irritations from the band, but thus far I haven't had a problem.

The Charge measures steps, flights of stairs, distance, calories burned and sleep quality.  Data appears on your device at the touch of a button, or on the app.   The device syncs with the phone via Bluetooth, and even gives you caller ID.  I'm going to have to get used to a vibration on my wrist when I get an incoming call.

I probably should have spent the extra $20 and gotten the Charge HR, which also measures heart rate.  At the moment I'm using a heart monitor app on my phone.

I'm not using the food log on the Fitbit dashboard, so I'm not fully using the calories burned function.  But that's because I've paired my Fitbit with my Weight Watchers tracker, and I'm tracking food and activity at the Weight Watchers site.

My chief complaint about the Fitbit is that the charger cable is not a standard USB cable, it's proprietary.

So far I'm happy with this product.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Women and Driving

So I found myself alone in my car at 11:00 one night, driving on the infamous Cross Bronx Expressway.  Conditions in the Bronx  have vastly improved since The Bonfire of the Vanities, but that highway is still a nightmare.  Potholes, construction, big trucks and lunatic drivers.

And for some reason I was thinking about a friend of mine, a woman I haven't seen in awhile.  I was remembering a conversation we had.  My friend lives in New Jersey, and her  teenage daughter is involved in an activity with events all over the state.  My friend was telling me about the various activities, and how she had to drive her daughter.  Then she said "but the event next week is too far, I am going to have to ask my husband to drive her because I won't drive that far."

The day she said it, I had just come back from a road trip, Becca and I had gone to Boston to check out a few colleges. Just the two of us.  I'd driven all the way to Boston and all the way back.

I thought that my friend's attitude about driving had died off in the 20th century.  But I  suppose there are still a lot of women who feel the way my friend feels..  Not comfortable behind the wheel, deferring to their husbands when it comes to driving. 

When I was a little girl, the "crazy woman driver" was a staple of sitcoms and standup routines. Ironically, the insurance industry statistics say women are better drivers than men, less likely to have an accident, less likely to receive a traffic citation. But back then, everyone talked about "crazy women drivers" and how men were superior behind the wheel.

 I laughed at the jokes like everyone else, but honestly, the character they were talking about, well, in my world, she was pure fiction.

My mother learned how to drive when she was in college.  It was the early 1950's and she was living in the Bronx, so learning to drive was not a necessity.  But her cousin who lived in the suburbs was learning to drive, and she was very competitive...

She was a very good driver, maybe a bit aggressive on the road, but competent and unafraid to drive anywhere she wanted.  She hasn't been behind the wheel of a car in 3 years, but she still thinks of herself as a driver.

My sisters and I were raised in the suburbs of Long Island, in a community with no public transportation. Learning to drive was a necessity, a car represented freedom.  Of course we got our driver's licenses, and of course we drove everywhere.

I have never hesitated to drive anywhere.  I've driven Pennsylvania on vacation, to Boston and Rhode Island on college searches, even took a group of teenagers to Six Flags in a rented van.  It never occurred to me to think I couldn't do it.

Don't misunderstand.  I don't particularly like driving.  I think it's a means to an end, a way to get from point A to point B.   I don't like sharing the road with big trucks, I think there are a lot of lunatics on the road (of both genders), and driving over large bridges makes me nervous.  But I value my independence, my ability to take care of myself, of not having to rely on someone else to take me wherever I want to go.

I don't think either of my daughters ever gave a thought to gender differences when it comes to driving.  They simply get into the car and go.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

elder care woes

Drew went to see Marvin again at the nursing home earlier this week.  Drew asked him what he needs, and the only thing Marvin asked for was a clock.  It seems there's no clock in Marvin's room, and he's finding it hard to keep track of time.  Marvin's brother Les told Drew to buy Marvin whatever he needs, Les will be glad to pay for it.  The poor man wants so little..

The facility staff is meeting today to discuss a plan for Marvin, that is, where he should go once he finishes with rehab.  Drew has had a few good conversations with the folks the facility in anticipation of this meeting.  The social worker told Drew to anticipate a call from Adult Protective Services.  APS has been involved with Marvin's situation for since at least 2013,  they took over his financial affairs because they felt Shelley wasn't handling Marvin's limited resources properly, and there was some concern that his living environment wasn't suitable. I'm sure they will listen to Drew's concerns.

It's clear Marvin needs some supervised environment, that he cannot go back to Shelley's house due to his current physical limitations.  The physical therapist is recommending that he stay at the facility.  The social worker liked Drew's idea of the veteran's home, the nursing facility  where Drew's father spent his final months. 

(It's a good thing Drew has me around.  He doesn't have Marvin's discharge papers or any other proof Marvin is a veteran, and was unsure where to start to get that information.  I reminded Drew that Marvin used to go to the local VA hospital for his medical treatment.  They will have more than adequate proof he's entitled to veteran's benefits, enough to satisfy the requirements of the nursing home.)

And Shelley?

When she posted on Facebook last week that she was finally going to visit Marvin and that she was bringing him a box of matzo to nosh on, I couldn't help but think "It's a freebie she got in the supermarket."  Catty, I know, but oh so accurate.

She has not been included in the discussions with the social worker or the nursing staff at the facility.    She found out about the big meeting yesterday, and wound up in a huge fight with Drew over Marvin's care.  She told him "I'm going to sue APS."  (Good luck with that.)  Ultimately I think she will blame Drew for this situation. 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Broadway Diner

Hadn't been here in awhile, and decided to stop by for a bite to eat.

Drew ordered the sliced London Broil sandwich, which was cooked to order, tender and tasty.

I ordered a Philly cheesesteak, which was a bit of a disappointment. Thin slices of beef on a kaiser roll, with a minimal amount of bell pepper and cheese, it was served with au jus. Cheesesteak with au jus? But the meat was a tad bit too dry, and needed something to remoisten it.  The au jus worked perfectly for that.

I really like this diner, but I won't be ordering that sandwich again.

Broadway Diner on Urbanspoon

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Awhile back, Drew and I picked up dinner from a then-newly-opened Smashburger on Long Island, and I was not pleased.  In hindsight I think we just had a bad night -- Drew mixed up the burgers,  I wound up with the one he ordered, and he wound up with mine, so I was a bit peeved.  Later, after he heard so many good things about the chain, Drew went back.  And really liked what he ordered.  I wasn't so sure I'd want to try it again.

But last summer, I found myself working temporarily in the Financial District.  And I watched a new Smashburger being built about a block from my office.  And I decided I would try Smashburger again as soon as the place opened.  Then the job relocated to Long Island, with occasional trips to the city to meet with the client.

So one day I came across a news item:  Smashburger was giving away burgers, but only at its newest location at 136 William Street.  the irony?  The giveaway was the day before my next meeting with the client.  Ugh.

So of course I had to try Smashburger at my next opportunity.

I had the BBQ Bacon and cheddar burger -- a hamburger topped with cheddar cheese, applewood bacon, barbecue sauce and haystack onions(similar to onion rings) on an egg bun.   burger was juicy and flavorful, barbecue sauce kept the burger moist but wasn't drippy or runny. 

I decided to keep it simple with the side dish, I ordered regular fries:  shoestring potatoes seasoned with salt.  Decent fries, not spectacular, but next time I might go a bit more exotic.

Theere's a serve-yourself soda fountain.  I have to admit that I was disappointed, so many new places opening up these days have a freestyle coke machine...

So the next time someone says "Want to go to Smashburger?"  my answer will be a definite "Yes."

Smashburger on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 23, 2015

Songbird Salutes the 70's: the Four Together Concert

My dream concert, one I really wish I could have gone to see. Funny, though, I didn't know about this concert when it happened, I stumbled upon some videos on YouTube...

 10/15/1977 in Olympia Stadium, Detroit.  A crowd of 17,000.  And four incredible performers.  It was a charity concert, the proceeds benefited World Hunger Year.

I mention "world hunger" and you probably already know at least one of the artists. 

Harry Chapin.

I've written before about 7/16/1981.  How I was in Eisenhower Park, waiting for the Harry Chapin concert to begin, when we learned he'd been killed in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway.  I'd seen several of Harry's concerts, I had several albums.  I was a fan for many years, even before he did a concert in my high school auditorium.   I knew he devoted much of his time to world hunger organizations, as well as a local organization, Long Island Cares.  Harry's activism was as much a part of him as his music.

The second artist was John Denver. One of my favorites.  I had every song on An Evening With John Denver memorized.  I knew he donated all the proceeds of "Calypso" to Jacques Costeau's organization.  I was not aware, however, of his involvement with world hunger, until  I saw a BBC documentary on his life on PBS a couple of weeks ago.  He was appointed to serve on President Carter's Presidential Commission on World Hunger.

The third artist was James Taylor.  Sweet Baby James.  Who doesn't have at least one song by James Taylor on their playlist?   Also known as an environmental activist, and one who espouses liberal causes.

The final artist was Gordon Lightfoot.  I didn't know much about him except for his big hits. 

The set list included such songs as  Denver's "Back Home Again", "Take Me Home , Country Roads" and  "Rocky Mountain High"; Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", and"If You Could Read My Mind"; Taylor's "Fire and Rain", "You've Got a Friend" and "Sweet Baby James": and Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle", "W.O.L.D." , "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" and "Taxi".

The concert was only part of their activism.  They also founded  what would become The Harry Chapin Foundation.

Some highlights of the concert --sound quality isn't great, but still --

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Music is You

Music makes pictures and often tell stories, all of it magic and all of it true.
And all of the pictures and all of the stories, and all of the magic, the music is you.
Music makes pictures and often tell stories, all of it magic and all of it true.
And all of the pictures and all of the stories, and all of the magic, the music is you.

An artist touches you.  His words, his music become a part of you.  Memories, hopes, dreams, all find expression in the music.

And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it's been since yesterday
What about tomorrow
What about our dreams
And all the memories we share

How poignant the lyrics are. How they spoke to me back then, even in my teen years, before I had much life experience to reflect upon.  How much deeper the meaning now, decades later.  I can look back at life experience, good and bad.

You fill up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again

Song lyrics are poetry. The best of them conjure up images, emotions.  How wonderful it is to be  in love, how having a partner can make your life so different.

 I'll walk in the rain by your side, I'll cling to the warmth of your tiny hand.
I'll do anything to help you understand, and I'll love you more than anybody can.
And the wind will whisper your name to me, little birds will sing along in time.
Leaves will bow down when you walk by and morning bells will chime.

When I listened to those words years ago, I had no idea, no clue, how becoming a parent would change me.

Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops
Sail over the canyons and up to the stars
And reach for the heavens and hope for the future
And all that we can be and not what we are

The lyrics can set your heart soaring.  Nature, spirituality, hope for the future.

The music, the lyrics, they fill a piece of my soul.


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