Monday, April 30, 2007

Memories of the Past

I was strolling down West Broadway in SoHo and suddenly caught a whiff of something sweet and spicy but indeterminately familiar. I stopped, turned around and saw these stalks of empty cigar boxes on the stoop of the O.K. Cigar store.

Although I'm not a smoker nor have I ever smoked, I do like the smell of fresh tobacco. It has that inherent musky woodsy smell of earth and the forest after a heavy rain. It reminded me of the few times I went hiking in the woods when I was in college.

Smell or aroma has a weird way of triggering old memories from the past for most people. Does it cause you to think back of the past?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Cruelty Free Life

Bonsai is a traditional Chinese art of training trees and shrubs into miniaturized version of adult plants. Tree species like maple, pine and elm are regularly pruned to stunt the growth and shape their foliage. Then wires are used to produce pronounced bends and curves in the brunches and trunks to mimic the appearance of age and growth.

This photo was taken on a street in Chinatown. The vendor had a cart full of bonsai trees in different sizes and shapes. Some of the bonsais are about the size of a cupcake while others are larger.

Do you find this practice barbaric or do you think it is an acceptable way to produce an aesthetically attractive plant?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Junior's Cheesecake

Almost everyone who has tasted Junior's cheesecake says it is the best cheesecake in world. The company, started by Harry Rosen, began as a humble diner in downtown Brooklyn in 1929. The name of the diner was changed to Junior's in 1950 after Harry's children, Walter and Marvin, took over the business. Today, Junior's is a successful mail order business selling cheesecakes and other pastries, in addition to its original diner in Brooklyn and two new restaurants in Times Square and Grand Central Station.

When I used to work in downtown Brooklyn, I would occasionally stop by the original Junior's diner to get some cheesecakes and coffee. The diner, in my opinion, has lost much of its appeal due to poor customer service and mediocre food, but the cheesecake is still king. I have not been to the other two Junior's restaurants in Times Square or Grand Central Station but I hear the food and service are better there.

During holiday seasons, it is not uncommon to see a line of people at the diner and restaurants. especially at the take-out bakery section. It seems like everyone is there to buy a cheesecake (or two) for their families or friends.
So do you have a favorite dessert?

The Namesake

Last year, I read an interesting collection of essays by award winning author, Jhumpur Lahiri called, Interpreter of Maladies. The author also wrote a wonderful novel called, The Namesake that was made into a movie earlier this year.

I saw the movie recently and loved it. The story revolves around a young Indian immigrant and his wife in New York City (in the early 1970's) and the subsequent struggles of their children as 1st generation Indian-Americans (in the 1990s) who had to reconcile their identities and culture in this country. If you want to watch a movie this weekend, this is a good one to see.

So what movies have you seen lately?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dumpster Dive

This was what I saw behind the library on my way home this evening - a dumpster filled with old books, magazines, journals and microfilms that were leftover from yesterday's free giveaways. And now they are all wet from the rain.

I understand most libraries have to clear out old book shelves to open up floor space for computer terminals and other electronic information systems. I mean, most information are now available electronically and they do not take up as much physical space as books and microfilms. Nonetheless, it is a shame to see them all thrown away like that.

I still remember my father's treasured encyclopedia set from when I was a kid. There were over 15 volumes and they took up a whole shelf in our family room. Any time we had a question, we would turn to the encyclopedia for answers. Now, I use and instead of the paper versions. I even read my news on and

So do you still read the old newspapers everyday?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Free Books, Free Books, Come And Get It

On my way to a meeting this afternoon, I saw tables after tables of free books lined up in front of the library. Apparently, the library was giving away some of its old books to make room for new ones. There were also a lot of old magazines and journals stalked up on top of more tables on the side. I did not have a change to peruse through the stalks but I did stop to take a few photos.

Have you read any interesting books lately? Do you have any recommendations? The last books I read were Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris and I Feel Bad For My Neck by Nora Ephron.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chinatown Souvenirs

These little statues of Buddha are some of the souvenirs that are commonly sold in Chinatown. Other popular souvenirs include I NYC t-shirts, key chains and baseball caps.

What souvenirs do you usually buy when you visit a new city?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mange Al Fresco

The weather this weekend was absolutely gorgeous; we had 75˚F (24˚C) temperature, low humidity and plenty of sunshine. It was our first warm weekend of the season and everyone was outside enjoying the weather, including me. One of the most thrilling things about warm Spring weather in NYC is al fresco dining. Few restaurants have outdoor seatings but those that do, are always packed with a hungry crowd.

This photo, taken outside of
Cipriani Downtown, shows the waiter spooning freshly cooked pasta onto individual serving plates for the diners at the table. Cipriani Downtown is one of the most popular and expensive restaurants in one of the most popular and expensive neighborhoods (SoHo) in Manhattan. Most of the diners, I assume, are wealthy European expatriates who can afford $25 for a plate of pasta. But then again, it only costs them €18.

Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day so I guess it is appropriate to talk about TIME Magazine's 51 Things We Can Do to Save the Environment, which I read about on Belinda of Bel's Fish Bowl blog. According to the magazine article, everyone of us can do a little bit to reduce carbon dioxide emission and consequently, slow down the rate of global warming on Earth.

Using public transportation (bus or subway) or walking and biking are two of the items listed in the magazine because transportation accounts for 30% of all carbon dioxide emission. Unfortunately, it is not always practical especially if you do not live in an urban city.

Other ways to reduce carbon dioxide emission include paying your bills online and signing up for e-notification, using energy saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL), washing the laundry in warm water instead of hot and washing one big load instead of multiple small loads, opening the window instead of switching on the air-conditioner, and eating less meat products.

So what are you doing to protect Mother Earth for our future generations?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Brooklyn Heights Vista

This is the skyline of the most expensive real estate properties in Brooklyn, otherwise known as Brooklyn Heights. The photo was taken from South Street Seaport on the lower east side of Manhattan.

A one-bedroom co-op apartment here goes for about $475,000 while a one-family townhouse can cost over $8,000,000. Despite the exorbitant prices, they are considered affordable compared to how much it costs to live in some desirable neighborhoods in Manhattan.

The only places where real estate is more expensive than New York City are London and Tokyo.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Making A Mountain Out Of A Mole Hill

Central Park has a variety of terrains including this rocky hill that overlooks the Upper East Side. Some of these hills can be 20 feet high and end with a steep drop onto the ground below. I have seen people sitting on top of these hills but I can never figure out how they get up there.

Since I'm not an adventurous climber, I have never tried to get up on the hills myself. To see some photos of someone trying to climb down from the rock, click here.

When I go to Central Park, I usually take a leisurely walk around or rent a bicycle at the Boathouse Restaurant parking lot.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


This photo was taken in front of the General Motors (GM) Building between 58th and 59th Street, and 5th Avenue, otherwise known as Central Park Southeast. The vertical lines on the top half of the photo are marble pillars or columns that hold up the three-storey tall lobby entrance. The smooth surface on the bottom half is actually a highly polish marble bench located on the promenade of the building. This photo was taken late in the evening, which make the lights and reflection so clear and visible. Here is another view of the lobby entrance to the GM Building.

Central Park Southeast boasts an enviable list of well-known attractions including the Apple Cube Store (you can see the GM Building in the background), the Statue of Victory, and the Statue of Pomona, the Plaza Hotel (now known as the Plaza Residence, and the Bergdorf Goodman Departmental Store.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spring, Where Have You Been?

After a weekend of soaking rain and heavy wind that cause severe flooding and numerous train interruptions, I am ready for spring weather to arrive. I want to see sun shine and clear blue skies. I want to see flowers and green leaves. I want to see people jogging in the park.

These photos were taken one afternoon three weekends ago at the Green Market in Union Square. Hopefully, they will appease the Gods who will then grace us with beautiful spring weather for the rest of the season.

Which is flower or greenery is favorite?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Central Park: Benches III

I hope you guys are not tired of looking at park benches yet. I promise, this is the last one of the series for a long time. These benches are probably the newest batch in Central Park. Notice how they are ergonomically designed to support the backs of the sitters as they sit down to relax.

Older benches, like the ones I posted yesterday do not have any backings and are probably not as comfortable as these newer ones.
I wasn't even thinking about comfort factor when I took these photos until Belinda of Perth, Australia and Angela of Nice (France) Daily Photo mentioned it. Thanks ladies, for alerting me to the issue.

The twin towers in the background are the new Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, which is located at the south west corner of Central Park.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Central Park: Benches II

Here is a photo of another type of benches found at Central Park. These are older and less aesthetically decorative, although just as beautiful. They are made of untreated (unpainted) wood planks secured together by steel bolts and simply decorated with wronght iron works.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Central Park: Benches

Central Park encompasses over 843 acres (3.41 sq km) of public space and stretches over 2.5 miles (4 km) long and 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide. The park was created in 1853 based on the same concept of public space as the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and the Hyde Park in London. Today is it one of the most beloved and expensive piece of land in New York City.

This photo was taken at the lower east sector of the Central Park. There are probably miles of benches scattered all over the park for visitors to sit and enjoy the outdoors.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Apartment Hunting

I have been helping a friend with her apartment hunt recently. She asked me to photograph some of the apartments so that she could e-mail the photos to her family. We saw 5 apartments in two days and all of them in Queens.

Finding an apartment to buy in New York City can be a daunting task due to the myriad of options like whether to buy a condo or a co-op; a pre-war or a post-war (as in built before or after WWII); uptown or downtown; Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island or the Bronx; high rise or low rise, close to work or close to subway, etc.

This photo shows a hallway that leads into the living room (left) of a one-bedroom apartment on the top floor of a low rise pre-war building. The double doors in the photo is the hallway closet.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Woof OR Ouch?

Prong (or pinch) collars like the one in this photo are common tools used in obedience training for dogs. Although banned in some countries, they are quite popular in the United States. Some dog trainers believe that prong collars are safer than choke collars, which tighten around the dogs' neck when pulled. The spikes on prong collars are not sharp but can be very uncomfortable for the dogs if they are pulled.

This contraption reminds me of a cilice, a metal chain with spikes that is supposedly used by Opus Dei members who practice corporal mortification. If you watched the movie, The Da Vinci Code, you might remember one of the characters wearing the cilice under his robe.

What is your opinion on the use of prong collars in obedience training for dogs?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Do You Know What This Is?

This photo was taken at the Patel Brothers, an Indian grocery store in Jackson Heights, Queens. The grocery store carries some of the most unique and interesting food items including this vegetable, which I have never seen before. I think I know what it is but I'm not 100% sure.

As you can see in the photo, each pod carries only one pea-looking seed. The pod is light and furry, green in color and is about the size of a small olive. Can you guess what it is?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Close Encounter of the Third Kind

I saw this horseshoe crab at the fish market last week. It was still alive even though it has been sitting on ice for hours on the display case. I have never seen one up close before so I was totally intrigued.

Horseshoe crabs, despite the name, are more closely related to scorpions and spiders than regular crabs. They have remained almost unchanged since 500 million BC and are therefore, considered living fossils. One reason these animals are so resilient is their ability to prevent bacteria infection in their bodies. Scientists are currently studying their immunity system to find ways to understand and hopefully, one day replicate its mechanism for human use.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Fashion

In addition to the fancy Easter bonnets, some people were decked out from head to toe in retro fashion. Women wore gloves and carried granny purses. Men wore beautiful fedoras while carrying walking sticks.

This photo above is one of the more colorful costumes at the Easter parade. I especially love the Nana Mouskouri glasses on the lady in purple. My mom wore a pair of those when I was a kid.

Check out The Satorialist by Scott Schuman. He has two beautiful photos of people dressed like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. I think they look absolutely stunning.

Also, check out Rafe New York by Rafe Totengco. His mother took some spectacular photos from the Easter Bonnet Parade too. He's such a mama's boy!!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter Bonnet Parade

Every Easter Sunday, New Yorkers put on their best bonnets (or rabbit ears) and come to Manhattan to participate in the Easter Bonnet Parade on 5th Avenue between 49th and 57th Street. Unlike most parades, this event does not require anyone to march down a street or register with an organization. Basically, it is a street party where everyone can dress-up and come hang out with their friends on 5th Avenue, which is closed to traffic.

Despite the cold weather and snow (yes, we had snow this afternoon but it did not stick),
tourists, photographers and bloggers like me come out to catch the spectacle of this creative, colorful and zany event. Everyone there was more than willing to have their photos taken.

I took so many photos that I decided to do a collage of the best ones. It was one of the most exciting and fun events I have ever attended and photographed.

No, I did not dress up in a costume. Maybe next year I will put on a pair of rabbit ears and be a photograhee, instead of the photographer.

If you could go, what would you wear to the Easter Bonnet Parade?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Chicken or Eggs

This is a carton of freshly collected organic eggs from a small family farm in upstate New York. The eggs come from chicken that are raised in a free range environment and are fed natural products. These organic eggs are free of antiobiotics and are supposedly healthier and more nutritious than the regular commercially produced eggs. However, organic eggs do not come cheap. This carton cost about $2.50.

Notice the irregular size and interesting color variation on the eggs. They looked like eggs that have been dyed for an Easter egg hunt.

So have you ever participated in an Easter egg hunt?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Is Spring Here Yet?

It is already spring but why does it still feel like winter? The temperature outside now is 39˚F (4˚C) but with the wind chill, it feels like 32˚F (0˚C). I guess Punxsutawney Phil miscalculated the length of winter this year. Who is Punxsutawney Phil? Punxsutawney Phil is a groundhog that, according to folklore, can predict the arrival of spring.

Based on the legend, if a groundhog see its shadow when it comes out of the burrow on February 2 (also known as GroundhogDay) there will be another 6 weeks of winter. However, if it doesn't see its shadow, there will only be another 42 days of winter. Obviously this is a joke because 6 weeks = 42 days. Regardless of what happens, spring will definitely arrive on March 21.

This photo above was taken on Wednesday afternoon when it was cold and rainy the entire day. The train approaching the station was the #7 subway train that connects Times Square in Manhattan and Flushing, Queens.

N.B.: I would like to thank Edwin of Kuala Lumpur Daily Photo for helping me reconfigure the size of this photo (and future photos) on this blog.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Cute As Cute Can Be

First off, I would like to wish everyone who celebrate Easter a Happy Good Friday.

When I take photographs, I normally shoot between two to ten frames of the same subject at different angles. I like to have options when I choose which photo to post on the blog.

Sometimes, I find two or three beautiful photos of the same subject and I am at a loss with which photo to use. If I choose one, do I have to "discard" the others.

This is an example of that dilemma.
I have two beautiful photos of this beautiful French Bulldog puppy from the Green Market at Union Square. I posted the first photo earlier this week and I am posting the second one today because I think he deserves an encore appearance. Do you agree?

So how many frames do you shoot when you take the photos of a subject?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Pigeon Nesting on the C

As I was walking home from work, I saw a young boy sitting on his father's shoulder looking intently at the top of a pharmacy store. He started pointing at something excitedly and his father smiled.

I looked at the direction where the boy was gesturing and saw a pigeon nesting on the cradle of C in the P-H-A-R-M-A-C-Y sign. If you look closely, you can see two eggs sitting precariously on the edge of the nest. According to
Wikipedia, pigeons lay just two eggs per season so these two eggs are probably the only eggs in the nest.

If you love nature photos, you should check out Brookville Daily Photo by Abe Lincoln. He has some of the most beautiful nature photos I have ever seen. And most of them are taken in his backyard.

So what is in your backyard?

Soul Train with The Cauldron / YouTube Addiction

I saw a fabulous new band called The Cauldron at my neighborhood cafe last Saturday. The band rocked the place down with some great soul music and Top 40 hits. My favorite part of the evening was when they sang one of my favorite songs, Crazy by Gnarls Barkley, which got me up on my feet and dancing with the crowd.

That brings us to my addiction to YouTube, the ubiquitous video website where the most interesting videos around the world are posted. Because of YouTube, I have discovered some of the best music (and videos) in the world. Here are some of my favorites: Je Viens du Sud by Chimene Badi; Donne by Myriam Abel; Intoxication by Gentleman; Perfect Harmony by Wang LeeHom, Rain & J-Lim; Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz; Kung Fu Fighting by Fatboy Slim; I Don't Love You Enough by Andy Lau & Kelly Chen; No Mes Ames by Jennifer Lopez & Mark Anthony.

What are your favorite songs?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Train in Motion

I was waiting for the train and noticed this guy in front of me with an interesting backpack over his shoulder. Upon closer look, I realized there was a work belt looped around his backpack.

The interesting work belt held a pair of scissors, a flash light and a pair of work gloves. Then I realized he was an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) when I saw the letters on the back of his uniform.

I immediately took my camera out and photographed the gentleman. This photo was the second of two frames I shot before the train arrived. I have to admit, it is one of my favorite photos of the year because of the contrast between stationary and moving objects.

N.B.: Notice the video camera on the top left corner.

Monday, April 2, 2007

How about a kiss for me?

I met this cutie pie over the weekend. He was inquisitive, restless, impatient and totally adorable. But he would not stay still for a photo so his owner cradled him while I quickly snapped the photo. He was making a face because he was trying to sniff my camera.

He is a little French Bulldog puppy, one of the most popular breeds in New York City because of its size and intelligence. According to the New York Magazine article on Ten City-Friendly Dogs, French Bulldogs are great for small apartments because it has a good balance temperament and is not too energetic.

In the same issue of the magazine, there was a calculation of how much it would cost to own a dog in New York City. The tally ranged from $5,099.94 to $52,699.19 per year. Granted, some of the expenses are a little outrageous but who else gives you unconditional love?

So how about that kiss? He is still waiting for one!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Theme Photo: Public Mail Box

Today is April 1st and it's another photo theme day. The theme this month is A Public Mail Box and 66 Daily Photo Bloggers are participating in the theme.

This photo was taken from my apartment window. You can see the blue (drop off) and green (holding) mail boxes on the street corner.

1 (London (UK) ) -2 (Grenoble (France) ) -3 (Rotterdam (Netherlands) ) -4 (Greenville SC (USA) ) -5 (Hyde (UK) ) -6 (Villigen (Switzerland) ) -7 (Albuquerque NM (USA) ) -8 (Mazatlan (Mexico) ) -9 (Montréal (Canada) ) -10 (Stayton OR (USA) ) -11 (Shanghai (China) -Jing ) -12 (Arradon (France) ) -13 (Sequim WA (USA) ) -14 (Newcastle upon Tyne (England) ) -15 (Seattle WA (USA) -Kim ) -16 (Bastia (Corse) ) -17 (Minneapolis MN (USA) ) -18 (Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) ) -19 (Joplin MO (USA) ) -20 (Sharon, CT (USA) ) -21 (Cottage Grove MN [USA] ) -22 (Houston, TX (USA) -Candice & Megan ) -23 (Singapore - by Keropokman. ) -24 (Guelph, ON (Canada) ) -25 (Menton (France) ) -26 (Monte Carlo, Monaco ) -27 (Naples, FL (USA) ) -28 (Kyoto (Japan) ) -29 (Tokyo (Japan) ) -30 (Aliso Viejo, CA (USA) ) -31 (Cape Town (South Africa) ) -32 ( Jakarta (Indonesia) ) -33 (Kitakami (Japan) ) -34 (Tel Aviv (Israel) ) -35 (Vantaa(Finland) ) -36 (Guadalajara (Mexico) ) -37 (Auckland (New Zealand) ) -38 (Nelson (New Zealand) ) -39 (Tuzla (B&H) ) -40 (Brussels (Belgium) ) -41 (Anderson, SC (USA) ) -42 (Lubbock, TX (USA) ) -43 (John, Melbourne, (Australia) ) -44 (Stavanger (Norway) ) -45 (Tenerife (Spain) ) -46 (Stockholm (Sweden) ) -47 (Boston, MA (USA) ) -48 (Not Strictly Seattle, Susan ) -49 (New York City, (USA), Ming the Merciless ) -50 (Paris [Eric], (France) ) -51 (Ampang (Selangor) ) -52 (Sydney (Nathalie) Australia ) -53 (Wailea , HI (USA) ) -54 (Manila (Philippines) ) -55 (Sydney (Sally) Australia ) -56 (Cork (Ireland) ) -57 (Saarbrücken (Germany) ) -58 (Saint Paul MN (USA) by Carol ) -59 (San Diego, CA (USA) ) -60 (Mexico [POLY], (Mexico) ) -61 (Budapest (Hungary) ) -62 (Singapore (Singapore by Zannnie) ) -63 (Madrid [Dsole] (Spain) ) -64 (Nottingham (England) ) -65 (Bandung (Indonesia) ) -66 (London - Jonemo (UK))