Jon Stewart Can’t Even, and Neither Can I

A lot of people have asked me my opinion on the tragedy in Ferguson, MO. I studied Sociology. I live in a major city. They’re curious. Sometimes I try to avoid having political discussions in public, or at parties to keep the peace, but on this topic, I just had too much to explain.

I bored my relatives with talks of how racial colorblindness doesn’t work, even though many see it as politically correct. I calmly explained that no, I can’t know how a built up lifetime of frustration that could make someone riot because I have carried around my white privilege with me my entire life, but can I try to image how that might feel? Definitely.

Then yesterday I saw the post on Gothamist highlighting The Daily Show clip, and Jon Stewart’s reaction to the conservative coverage. It is so hilarious, and so on the mark. I am happy that someone has put it out there better than I ever could.

When You’re Tired, Take a Break

puppyI am a planner, a doer, a socializer, and I live in NYC –a city where you can arguably never run out of things to do, people to see, or new stuff to try. That combination, while pretty wonderful most of the time, can get pretty darn exhausting at others. Sometimes, after months of feeling like a weekend without days and nights full of activities is a failure, I am run  down, tired out, and weary of everything I typically enjoy. In moments like these, I wonder. Should I really live here? Is this really what I want?

The answer is always yes.

But at times, doing the things I like can weigh me down. They stop being fun. And after being here for just over ten years, I’ve learned – when you’re tired, take a break. If it’s going out, hitting the gym, working long hours that’s sapping your stamina just stop. Stop it right away. Even cancel something this instant if you have to- not permanently, but just long enough to rejuventate. If it’s the city’s pace that’s wearing you thin, head to the country. If it’s too many girls nights, try staying in and painting your nails. If it’s work, get your assistant to pick up the slack. When you start to miss it (and you know you will), that’s a pretty good sign you’re ready to pick things back up where you left off. Usually being tired and frustrated is not a sign that your tastes have changed, just an indicator that you might be indulging in too much of a good thing, and you’re plum tuckered out.

Mayor Bloomberg Wants YOU to Take the Stairs

stairs

The latest in a string of public health campaigns spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (see anti-soda, and anti-salt foods), now the NYC public figure is exhorting people to take the stairs in an effort to fight obesity. He proposes that any new buildings or buildings undergoing renovations would be required to post signs encouraging people to take the stairs, and leaving stairwells open (unlocked) all the time except in case of emergency. He hopes to start a non-profit to help foster building designs that encourage physical activity – read: creating stairwells that are appealing with are on walls and well lit, not dark sketchy places where predators lurk. Experts quoted by The Scoop recommend starting with 2 flights of stairs and then upping the ante when those start to feel easy. Or, if you want to mix things up, start taking every other step to strengthen glutes, hamstrings, and quads and increase your heart rate.

As someone who works on the 12th floor, I could probably lop off a gym session a week if I went up and down the stairs on foot every day! What do you think of Bloomberg’s latest tack to fight obesity?

An Excuse to Crank Your AC

sleep

With the summer heat wave sticking around NYC, no one needed to tell me to put my air conditioning on before bed. However, now I have an excuse to blast the temperatures even cooler. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health Clinical Center (that I read about on Women’s Health The Scoop) found that sleeping in a colder room (to the tune of 66 degrees) burned more calories while they slept than those who slept in a 75 degree room. Researchers suspect that the extra 7% of calories torched in the cold room sleepers were the body’s effort to keep internal temps at 98.6 degrees. This could lead to an extra 100 calories burned after 24 hours of sleep, the little extra leeway you might need in the season of ice cream sundaes and barbecues.

13% of Adult Calories= Added Sugar

sugar

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report (that I read about on The Huffington Post) found that between the years of 2005 and 2010, adults in the United States consumed 13% of their total daily calories through added sugars. While this is technically within the recommended 5-15% range recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, this span is supposed to include all sugar and all solid fat. If 13%, already near the top margin, is solely sugar than it seems most adults are getting out of the healthy zone and into the danger zone with their diets.

The report breaks it down, and nearly 70% of the sugar came from food sources with only around 30% attributed to beverages, with the majority coming from food consumed within the home rather than from eating out. So, it seems that Mayor Bloomberg may be able to knock it off with his war on soda. This new data may explain NYC’s shift from anti-soda campaign to the subway packaged/processed food ads. Additionally, men tend to consume more sugar calories than women, and there is an association apparent in which people of lower income brackets consume more sugar.  It’s important to note how much sugar you are consuming, and if you’re in a higher risk group, because eating too much can lead to diseases like Type 2 diabetes, or increase the risk of obesity. Key an eye out for the sugar content of foods in your pantry, checking labels and watching out for processed or pre-packaged foods.

10 Things I Love About Spring

spring

While growing up in upstate New York made me love all four seasons, and the different things each one has to offer, there is something about spring that always seems a little special. Here are 10 things I love about this season we’ve just stepped into.

  1. It’s acceptable to drink iced beverages again: Ok, full disclosure – I drink iced coffee all year round. Unless it’s a latte (and even then I have to be in the mood), I just don’t like hot drinks all that much. After the first bout of really nice weather hits, people finally stop giving me the side-eye for walking around with an iced coffee in my gloved hand. Thank goodness!
  2. Open toed shoes: Though it’s always a little painful to start out after months of your feet being coddled in cashmere socks and boots, once I’ve built up the between the toe calluses and toughened those puppies up a bit, there is nothing I love more than letting my toes out in the fresh air. I can show off my pretty toe polish, and finally break out the bejeweled sandals.
  3. There’s excitement in the air: Everyone is REALLY PUMPED that winter is finally over, and all the cold that goes along with it. People get to wear their pretty spring dresses, and are generally just a little nicer.  I can officially start planning Oceanside picnics, trips to amusement parks, and outdoor happy hours for book club.
  4. It means summer is around the corner: The author of an article I read yesterday pointed out that spring temperatures last a total of 30 seconds in NYC, and then it hits the excruciatingly hot markers of summer. But that just means that swimming, concerts in the park and outdoor movies are just.around.the.corner. Yay for that!
  5. It’s my birthday season!: Read: I have an excuse to plan fun activities, get presents, eat cake, and buy myself fancy things. What could be wrong about that?
  6. The prettiest flowers are in bloom: So maybe the early-blooming flowers just seem a little extra special after months of barren winter, but the blossoms popping up in April are some of my favorite all year. The little known ranunculus (a close sister to the buttercup) is at the top of my list, coming in a rainbow of colors with impossibly thin petals. I know the season is changing when they start popping up on street corners around the city. And who doesn’t love a magnolia tree?
  7. Black turns into Rainbow: There is a generalized wardrobe shift in warmer temps from shades of black and gray to pale pinks, light greens, oranges and yellows.
  8. Sunrise and Sunset are Earlier and Later: It’s the sweet spot in the year when it’s cool enough in the mornings, and the sun is rising JUST early enough to fit in a jog before work, AND the sun goes down just late enough that I can fit in some fun in the post-work daylight hours.
  9. Puppies everywhere: I am that stranger in the park who will pet your dog. In the spring everyone seems to have new puppies, and is taking them out to show them off. Dog lovers who don’t own one yet (like myself) love that.
  10. Better Fruits and Veggies: The farmer’s market has been a little drab for the past few months, and quite frankly, I’m getting a little sick of root vegetables and citrus. Now that things are starting to grow again the surrounding areas I can look forward to fresh ramps, fruits and berries!

And what’s more? New York City is totally on board! They’re having fireworks TONIGHT at the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park to celebrate the season.

What’s your favorite part about spring?

NYC’s Anti-Salt Campaign

salt

New York City seems to always be looking out for public health, and while I was anti-soda ban (and found their pouring on the pounds campaign slightly offensive),  I appreciate knowing that the city and Mayor Bloomberg are taking pains to promote healthy living. First, NYC celebrated a decade of banning cigarettes indoors last week. The Smoke-Free Air Act was introduced in 2003, and though its opposition at the time thought that it would hurt restaurants, bars, and the tourism industry, these arenas continue to thrive. And what’s more, health officials believe it has prevented 10,000 premature deaths over ten years. New York City residents total number of smokers has dropped to only 15% of the  population since 2002 when it was over 20%. However, Bloomberg is not satisfied. He has plans in the works to make shops hide cigarettes from open view, and to restrict access to discounted or illegal cigarettes.

Furthermore, CBS reported yesterday that the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would be introducing a new subway campaign against too much sodium intake. The ads will encourage subway riders to look at nutritional labels for packaged foods, and to pick those with less salt with the hope of lowering rates of heart attack and stroke. The campaign is partially financially backed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and comes in combination with the city’s voluntary guidelines for manufacturers to reduce the salt in their foods. While experts are split on if reducing the amount of salt in your diet can actually decrease health risks in normally healthy people, the new ads are bent towards raising awareness that salt can be hidden in unsuspected places (like bread) and giving people more knowledge to carefully select when choosing processed or pre-packaged foods. Here’s to hoping the ads don’t get as extreme as the Pouring on the Pounds campaign.

House on top of a House

If there is one thing Manhattan is known for, it is the residential situation. Apartments are hard to find. They’re expensive. People keep pushing further uptown, and further into the outer boroughs to find someplace to live. That is, of course, unless you’re ridiculously rich. Then, why not just buy a rooftop, and build yourself your dream home right there on top of someone else’s apartment building. Why not, indeed.

To be honest, this idea had never occurred to me until very recently. I moved to a new neighborhood the beginning of the month, and on my new commute I found myself being extra observant, taking in the sights of the new streets I had never walked. Then I passed the Kiehl’s store on Third Avenue and 13th Street on my way home one day. While waiting to cross the street, I happened to look up and notice a house complete with patios, greenery, a CHIMNEY, and sculptures perched right there on top of a four-story building.

A few google searches later, and I found these photographs posted on Scouting New York’s blog. It’s a genius idea, really. You have your own private space. It’s almost like having a home in the suburbs, but with the convenience of being RIGHT in the middle of Manhattan, and who was really using that roof anyhow. What I’d like to know is, how much does a purchase like this cost, and how do we go about buying one?