Evening Cycling – Central Park

I’ve been trying to do a lot more exercise this year. Most of that has been cycling because it’s easy on the knees and that’s important when you’re trying to lose weight.

I’m going to put more emphasis on running this month. I have a 10-mile run coming up at the end of next month. I’ve never done one before. I probably should have put more time into training for it, but life gets in the way. It’s nice to go out jogging again.

My wife and I used to jog together all the time when we lived in Singapore. It’d be great if we could find a way to get back into the habit. We need to move, though. Where we live now makes it really inconvenient to just go out the door and run. We have to drive down to Central Park to make it work and that adds commute time to just working out.

Thumper's face

Thumper: December 27, 2008 – August 3, 2019

It has taken me a while to post this because it is such a hard thing to do. It was hard to look at her photos. Hard to think about all the good times we had together, and hard to deal with the fact that she’s no longer with us. It’s hard to type this because a public acknowledgment is so final.

We adopted Thumper in early 2009 in Singapore. Just over a year ago, Thumper was diagnosed with cancer. Saturday she lost her fight. The cancer had spread to her chest cavity and it was filling with fluid. She could no longer breathe well enough to move even two feet without collapsing and gasping for air. Watching her struggle and suffer and slowly die in front of us was incredibly painful and it was unfair to her to let her slowly suffocate to death.

On Saturday we took her to the vet to say goodbye. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Making the choice and then physically doing it. Putting her in her carrier and walking out of our apartment on Saturday morning was a really bad experience. Holding her head while she took her last breath is something I’ll never forget. I’d honestly rather go back to Iraq in 2003. It was less painful and less stressful.

Thumper was a blessing on our lives and helped us both through some tough times and became the spark of joy that lit up our home. The apartment feels empty without her. The last few days have been very tough for us and for Dapper, Thumper’s sister. Dapper has known Thumper since Thumper was a kitten also. Only her nemesis, Cheesecake, seems pretty good about things since he’s 2nd favorite instead of 3rd favorite now. But seriously, he’s acting weird too. They both look for her. Sometimes we do too.

RIP Thumper. You will be missed. Thank you.

The Nutella Cafe – Nope

A latte and a crepe with banana slices and whipped cream.

Yesterday night, my wife and walked past the Nutella Cafe on 13th Street at University Place in Manhattan on our way to New York Health and Racquet Club. My wife commented that the line had finally died down, though the place was still busy inside. My first thought was that it was the middle of the week, but thinking about it, this place has had a line out the door and around the corner of the block since it opened early last month.

We went to check it out right away too. Without realizing it, we got in the line to get inside the restaurant after it had already been closed to new customers. When the guy watching the door noticed, he let us in anyway. Maybe he didn’t want to disappoint potential new customers, or he was trying to maximize the cafe’s earnings that night. I don’t know. I’m not even sure if he just worked the door or he owned the place.

The ordering process was pretty straightforward, though the selection seemed pretty limited. Most of the things on the menu weren’t all that exciting and looked like the sort of stuff that would be pulled out of a freezer and reheated in a microwave oven. The crepes are basically carrying the menu, and that’s what we ordered.

Was it worth it? Not really. Not for the prices they’re charging. You get a crepe with some Nutella. You want fruit? Extra. You want whipped cream? Extra. I’d be ok with the “extra” if it was a reasonable price, but if I remember right, the crepe pictured above wound up being about $10 and there wasn’t even that much banana in it. Maybe just a quarter of an average sized banana, and that doesn’t really make sense. I can two bananas for what they charged to add it as a topping.

The latte was good, but I could get a better crepe at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, NJ. Probably in Manhattan, too. And in any of the boroughs. And for less money. With Nutella, and with more fruit.

So how do you get away with selling decent coffee and so-so desserts at inflated prices? You make it fashionable by throwing a name on it and hyping it up. The higher price itself is part of the plan. You make it fashionable to go there. Showing up at the Nutella Cafe becomes less about the quality of what you’re consuming and more about the image you’re projecting. Like Starbucks, where you pay $6 for coffee that tastes like burnt asshole so you can show everyone you have a Starbucks holiday cup when you get to the office. As much as I shit on Dunkin’ Donuts, at least they don’t pretend that they’re selling a premium product.

Nothing about the Nutella Cafe really thrilled me and I wouldn’t go back. For a better cafe atmosphere, The Bean is nearby on Broadway and 12th. For better desserts, Veniero’s is over on 11th and 1st, and it’s really worth the walk.

A dessert I picked up from Veniero’s and brought home. The cheesecake (Italian/Sicilian/NY Style) is amazing too.

Dashcam Video – Driving in NYC during Thursday’s Snowstorm

About 44 minutes of dashcam footage of various parts of the city. Links to locations available in the video description on the YouTube page.

Last Thursday, I was out and about in the city, driving around. I run a dashcam, because you can really never be too safe. Plus, there’s always the chance that something consequential or bizarre will happen and get caught on camera.

I didn’t expect the snowstorm to be as bad as it turned out to be. The weather report predicted 1-3″ followed by warmer weather and rain that would basically wash the snow away. I found out later that we wound up getting about 6″ total, but I knew we were getting more than 3″ while I was out there in the street.

This was the first time I’ve ever driven around during a snowstorm. We had a lot of snowstorms last year, but I just left the car parked because we knew in advance it was going to be something I didn’t really want to drive around in. Not that driving around in the city is ever that much fun anyway, but you know what I mean.

I was pretty happy with how our 2017 Honda CR-V handled the snowy streets. I only lost traction two times. Once was because I braked too hard and slid up to a stop sign instead of decelerating towards it. The other time was when I was making the U-turn near the Governor’s Island Ferry to head north on the FDR. I was going just a little too fast.

But, I never got stuck, which is more than I can say for some other people out there on the road. Not that it’s really too different from usual, but people were driving really stupid out there on Thursday.

First of all, people in 2WD cars were out there driving. That’s pretty dumb to start with. I saw a guy pushing a car on the FDR that was stuck on an incline while the driver floored the accelerator. That sounds like a good way to have a car slide backward and crush you. Here he is:

Second, it seems that snow means that you have an obligation to block intersections on north-south avenues and prevent crosstown traffic from getting past you. My experience looked basically like this:

And, of course, people were cutting each other off, jumping between lanes, and speeding, as usual. I had a guy cut in front of me to make a left turn and just expected I would be able to stop as usual. I’m glad I have an AWD vehicle with tires that don’t suck.

Travel time in the city was insane. Looking at stuff on Twitter and in the news now (regarding the kids being stuck on school buses) it looks like most people were experiencing vehicle commutes that were 5 times longer than usual, like 5 hours instead of 1. And most of that pain was self inflicted. To all of you out there that were blocking intersections, I hope your cars throw a rod. Jerks.

Anyway, I left my car downtown and took the train home. I was home in about the same amount of time as it usually takes me to get to Union Square. And, thankfully, the city used some common sense and canceled ASP rules for Friday morning, so I didn’t have to rush back downtown to get my car. That wasn’t really the point of it, of course. It was to keep people from circling in that snowy crap Thursday night trying to find parking that was good for all of Friday.

So, I read that this winter is going to suck, basically, because of El Nino. It’s supposed to be ~8 degrees cooler than usual in January and February. It’s pretty cold right now, actually. A lot colder than usual, and we don’t normally get this kind of snow until January or February anyway. So it’s probably just going to be a bad winter season all around.

I need to get some winter cycling gear.