Posts Tagged ‘new york city’

I swear, I get infuriated at the stupidest things. But it’s the stupidity within those things that does it to me, and the insistence from others that we cater to the stupid.

Take, for instance, this article about city playgrounds. The playgrounds have black, rubber safety mats. It is summer. The black, rubber safety mats….wait for it………get hot.

Apparently some parents are in a tizzy because their children have burned their bare feet on these rubber mats.

Let’s think about that a moment. On a hot summer day, at a public city playground that is covered with black rubber….well, you know where I’m going with this. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the mats will be hot. Nor does it take a genius to move from that idea to the one that perhaps little children should not be running on those mats with their bare feet. Really, who lets their kids run barefoot at a public playground anyhow? Rocks, sticks, glass, bird poop, splinters – there are a lot of reasons, including getting really dirty feet – for not letting your kids take their shoes off before they play.

But, you know how that goes. Not all parents think ahead like that. So they let the kids run around in bare feet and the next thing you know, little Suzy is screaming that her feet are burning. So what does Suzy’s mommy do? She puts a little ice on Suzy’s feet, then tells her to put her shoes on and go play.

Just kidding. She sues the city, of course. And Suzy’s mom is empowered by people like Geoffrey Croft, the founder of the NYC Park Advocates, a parks watchdog group, who says, “Playgrounds should be designed with canopies. The city should be pressuring the manufacturers to come up with a solution.”

Canopies? Seriously?

Pretty soon children will be playing on a pillow covered surface and the swings will only move five inches either way and the slides will only be two feet high and swathed in protective cloth and every other piece of equipment will be made so that no child will ever, ever get a cut, scrape or bruise and everything will be designed in order to best serve parents who have no clue how to protect their children from things like a hot surface because, you know, the sun has only been around since time began and you can’t blame them for never learning something so simple as DO NOT GO BAREFOOT ON HOT SURFACES.

Signs warning against bare feet on the playground are not sufficient to ensure children’s safety. The city needs to do more to protect children, and in the interim, ensure the signs are actually helpful in warning and informing parents of small children about these dangers.

But Geoffrey doesn’t think signs are enough

“It is unconscionable that the city continues to install products in playgrounds that hurt the most vulnerable park users – small children…How many more have to get hurt until someone is held accountable?”

The News requested recent statistics on the number of burns at the 1,000 city playgrounds, but Parks Department spokeswoman Jama Adams said there were “no incidents reported.”

As soon as someone says “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??” I just know they are using some isolated incident to go off on a lawsuit-threatening frenzy. There’s already a sign, Geoffrey. A sign telling parents what they should already know: The black safety surface of the playground may get HOT. I know. Maybe make a bigger, bolder, more succinct sign?


Listen, even if little Timmy took his shoes off without you noticing and stepped on the mat, that’s one kid. One kid getting his feet burned, while sad and all, is not enough to rip out all of the playground of New York City and redesign them and put some other safety feature in. Why? Because this is preventable. With a little common sense and by keeping a watchful eye on your kid, the burned feet of your little snowflake is preventable.

If this seems like a silly thing to get angry about, just know that it’s not ONE thing. It’s the way people in this country think it’s the government’s responsibility to keep them and their children safe. We are going to come to a point where no one has to think for themselves anymore about safety or even use common sense. We will be a nation of safety signs, thanks to more and more bills being dreamed up by politicians who think we are not capable of making our own decisions regarding our health, safety, lifestyle and parenting. And there are millions of people who go along with this, who are so used to being told “REMOVE POP TARTS FROM FOIL WRAPPER BEFORE TOASTING” that they can’t function on a day to day basis without explicit instructions. And when they do forget to unwrap their Pop Tarts, they will still blame the manufacturers for not making the instructions clear enough.

No one wants to admit their own stupidity – “Oh, that was MY fault. I didn’t realize that the paper could burn in the toaster!” No one wants to admit they made a stupid decision – “Well, I realize there was a sign saying kids need to leave their shoes on but I didn’t think they really meant it!” Or bad parenting choice – “I know these pocket bikes aren’t meant to be driven on regular roads but little Johnny was only going around the block a few times….” So instead of owning up to their mistakes, learning from them and moving on, they blame someone else, hire a lawyer and expect the world to change to accommodate their idiocy. And the politicians swarm like flies, immediately moving to make a law that will will further idiot proof the nation and make personal responsibility an endangered thing.

Hell, I think it’s too late. Personal responsibility might already be extinct. We are now blameless. Next time you make a mistake, just claim there was no sign telling you NOT to what you did. Before you know it, you’ll be handed a check and a law in your name.

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Tourist blogging. This is the modern day equivalent of showing people home movies of your oh-so-exciting vacation. Except here, you can just navigate away. It’s not like sitting on Uncle Jack’s couch, stifling yawns and wondering if Aunt Martha’s deviled eggs are going to kill you before the boredom of the Grand Canyon vacation slides does.

in a one horse open sleigh

The last four days have been a whirlwind. Todd’s parents have come and gone and we had a fabulous time together but man, I can’t wait to get back to a normal workday today. They exhausted us. In a good way!

We spend yesterday in New York City doing the tourist thing with them. It’s interesting – I’ve lived here 45 years, just 40 miles from Manhattan and I don’t think of it as anything special. I suppose I take it for granted because it’s right there. When we do go into the city, it’s usually with a purpose to go to a specific place or see a specific thing and we I don’t really look around and take everything in.

There is always that one moment of awe I always have when I walk out of Penn Station and onto the city streets. I stop, look up and smile at the magnificence of the city. And then move on.

It was so much fun to see parts of Manhattan through the eyes of tourists. I decided to let go and play tourist myself, trying to see the city and the sights as if I’d never seen them before. I absorbed every sight and took in every sound and really saw the landmarks and attractions as if they weren’t just something to pass on my way to a destination.

Todd’s parents have a neighbor who used to live in New York. He gave them a list of “must see” spots in the city. They did a tour bus thing on Friday, but the weather didn’t cooperate; it was rainy and foggy all day and the tour was somewhat of a bust. So, armed with a list of things to see and a beautiful, sunny day, we were on a mission to make sure Todd’s mom and dad got to cross everything off their list.

First stop was the Empire State Building. I was there once (I know, what kind of New Yorker has been there once?), about seven years ago and we spent all of ten minutes at the top. Honestly, it isn’t on my list of Things To Do. That whole fear of heights things doesn’t make it a attractive tourist stop for me, and when we arrived there and discovered the waiting time to get into the observatory was 75 minutes, I wasn’t at all thrilled. But, troopers that we are, Todd and I (and his dad, really – I think dad would have bailed if mom wasn’t so insistent on completing the list) waited and stood and waited and stood and eventually we made it to the 86th floor. And I got up my nerve and actually stood by the barriers and looked down. You can’t help it. The view is breathtaking. We had 25 miles of visibility before the haze settled in and it really was spectacular. Truth be told, it wasn’t worth the excruciating wait just to see New York spread out like a map in front of you. But it was worth the wait to make Todd’s mom so happy.

esb 1

Next on the list was a ride on the subway. Apparently, the neighbor told Mom and Dad P. that you can’t have the true New York experience without riding the subway. It’s not like they don’t have subways in California. They’ve ridden the BART plenty. But, it was on the list and had to be done, so we decided to take the 6 train uptown to Grand Central Station, which was also on their list.

33rd street

Well, that was exciting. But, it did save my back some extra pain, which was hurting ever since we decided to walk the last six flights up the Empire State Building to skip some of the line. Let me tell you, Todd’s mom is like a machine when she’s on a mission. The rest of us were lagging behind, sort of limping along and she was running on full steam the entire time.

grand central stationGrand Central Station. I had never been there before. Ever. I remember reading about the renovation a while ago, but it never occurred to me to actually go see the place. I couldn’t imagine what the interest would be. Well. I’m really glad we went. The architecture and design of GCS is truly amazing. Beautiful. Stunning. All those words. If you ever visit New York, I recommend that you stop there and just gawk at the intricate detail and the painted, vaulted ceiling and the absolute grandeur of the place.

From Grand Central we took the subway to Times Square. They had driven through that area on their Friday tour, but didn’t see much of it, so they wanted to walk around a bit. It really is a fascinating place. So many lights, so many signs, everything is flashing and noisy and standing right under the place where they drop the ball on New Year’s Eve, you might feel for a minute that you are standing in the center of the world and every motion and movement in the universe radiates from that very spot. Then you look around and realize there is nothing but chain stores and restaurants and you take a few pictures and move on to the theater district.

times square

We almost skipped this part because we were in a rush to get to Central Park before one of us (not saying which one) dropped out of this tourist race, but Mom P. saw the sign for Spamalot and got all excited at seeing the Shubert Theater, so we walked over. Good thing we did, because we stumbled upon Junior’s, a place my own mother – a frequent NYC visitor – is always raving about. Something about the most amazing cheesecake on the planet. So we took a little rest at the counter at Junior’s for some caffeine and cheesecake.


Yes. Yes, it was the most amazing cheesecake on the planet. I even dreamed about it last night. And I still have a little chunk of it sitting in a plastic container in my fridge and I just figured out what’s for breakfast.

Next up, the last thing on the list. Central Park. The last time I was in Central Park was St. Patrick’s Day, 1980. And I was a bit drunk and not at all interested in actually seeing the place as opposed to just finding a rock to pass out on. So yesterday it was like seeing it for the first time. So huge! So beautiful! Humming with roller skaters and sunbathers and children playing and live music…..the day was absolutely gorgeous; bright sun, warm, spring-like weather. There were people in bathing suits lazing on the rocks, hundreds of people on bicycles, a few people playing improvised jazz and old men playing checkers and a bunch of kids on a carousel. Surrounding the park are old, graceful buildings and modern structures, places with names like Trump and Helmsley, and you look at the people coming out of those buildings and wonder what they do for a living to be able to afford to live there. We saw all this on our horse and carriage ride, just another one of those New York institution type things I had never done before yesterday.

central park reflection

We took a cab back to Penn Station, and I slept most of the way back to Long Island, exhausted but satisfied that I’d finally seen the city I take for granted through the vision of a tourist. However, I didn’t quite fulfill my “vision of a photographer” thing, especially in Central Park. We were moving too fast the whole day to really take the time I like to take when photographing. So Todd and I are going back next Saturday when we’ll spend more time in Central Park and I’ll get some Times Square at night shots.

We had a great couple of days with Mom and Dad P. It was nice to see Todd and his parents together and it was fun observing which traits he gets from which parents (he is a healthy combo of the two of them, but is the spitting image of his father). They met my entire family and everyone loved each other. His parents are really so nice, so sweet and it all went so well that it was just another one of those instances where we look at each other when all is said and done and say “this was just meant to be.”

Anyhow, thanks to Todd’s parents for a wonderful weekend. We’re going to return the favor of a visit and head out to California in January.

Meanwhile, I still have a lot of my own state to see. I realized after yesterday’s touristy visit, that there are a ton of things right here on Long Island that I’ve taken for granted. I’ve got a lot of sight seeing to do.

more pictures here, though i still have a ton to upload.

* you do know where that title is from, right?

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