I didn’t exactly move to the East Coast for this…

Yup, that looks pretty mean and it’s headed right for us. Expected landfall is sometime tomorrow night or early Sunday morning. All week we’ve been watching various computer models adjust the predicted track for this storm and as it moved further and further west with New York in its sights, it became apparent to all of us that right off the heels of one of our first earthquakes, we are about to experience our very first hurricane. Lifelong residents here have been talking about how they’ve never been in one, so this is going to be an interesting experience for all of us.

New York State has declared a state of emergency. Mass transit is already scheduled to be shut down entirely tomorrow starting at noon. I know it’s difficult for non-New Yorkers to imagine why that’s such a big deal, but let me put it this way: it’s more uncommon for someone in the Metro area to own a car than not. Those of us without cars in the actual city outnumber those of us with them. In other words, without mass transit, we’re stuck in our respective neighborhoods/boroughs. The Mayor has ordered mandatory evacuation of all zone A parts of the city and the Rockaways, which are actually a zone B. I live in zone C, which triggers a mandatory evacuation in cat-3 or 4 storms (I learned all of this in a crash course I gave myself during the past 48 hours when it became clear we were going to get nailed by Irene), so those of us in C should be okay.

Amusingly enough, when I left the store where I had purchased batteries for a flashlight, a can opener (how I didn’t have one of these is beyond me), candles, a lighter, etc., I noticed that everyone on the street had bags of something; bottled water, paper towels (not sure what use those will be, but hey), flashlights, the whole nine yards. Say what you want about New Yorkers but when something serious goes down, we listen to what to do and we listen well. 😉

Ultimately, there’s no reason to believe that this is going to be catastrophic. Even if it remains a cat-2 storm, I don’t suspect there will be a serious loss of life despite how many people live here and how concentrated we are. Bloomberg and Cuomo are not messing around with precautions, and that’s really the best way to go about it. It’s possible that the bridges may get closed as well, so really the best thing we can all do is bunker down and stay there. My office has already declared that we will most likely be closed on Monday (if the hurricane pounds us all day Sunday and the trains don’t resume service until Monday or later, there’s no way we’re all getting back to work). Honestly I’m more worried about what will happen if the power and gas lines get knocked out by Irene. If that does happen, then my phone will be kept off in order to conserve battery life, so it is entirely plausible that all New Yorkers will be off the grid for a few days. In other words, don’t panic if I disappear from the internets…the kitteh and I will be bunkered down riding out our first hurricane experience ever. Behold Toni’s “are you kidding me with this hurricane business?” face:

In non-hurricane, yet somewhat hurricane related news, this weekend entails a half marathon distance long training run and the only opportunity we will have for that is tomorrow morning before the storm hits. The route we’ve chosen has been aptly named for this occasion (the “Hurricane Irene Half Marathon”):

On that note, cheers! I will update after the storm to let you know a) I’m still alive and b) what it was like!

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Apparently I live in CA, KS, & the Caribbean combined

Yesterday, there was an earthquake (California).

This weekend, Hurricane Irene is likely to slam us (the Caribbean).

Last year, there were tornadoes in Brooklyn and Queens (Kansas).

Since when did I live in an extreme weather city? The only thing extreme about our weather is how unbearably hot/humid it gets in the subway stations during the summer! Yes, dear reader, I was part of the “Eastern Quake” yesterday and experienced one of the better effects of it: working on one of the top floors of a midtown Manhattan office building and feeling the building itself shake and sway for about 30 seconds. It was incredibly freaky to say the least and not an experienced I’d like to repeat. My thought process went something like this: terrorist attack? Bomb? Did the idiot construction workers downstairs knock out the building support? Only after cycling through these scenarios (the first two were eliminated due to the absence of loud noises) it finally occurred to me that this was an earthquake! Wait…what? An earthquake? Well, hmmm…what do I do?!? Board up the windows? No…that’s for hurricanes. Get to the basement? Well, that’s for tornadoes but is it the same for an earthquake? Oh hell I dunno…lemme just grab my cell phone and my ID in case a cop stops me and get out of here (New Yorker’s “survival” gear)!

Interestingly enough I found some of my coworkers already by the elevators waiting (isn’t it funny how little we know of what to do in an earthquake?) and suggested that it might be a good idea to take the stairs. Call it intuition on my part. After the unexpected midday stair workout, we get to the street and determine that standing next to a tall building might not be the best idea (we had no idea if it was over, just starting, or what…again, we don’t really know much about earthquakes) to which I pointed out one tiny complication: how exactly are we supposed to find a spot that’s not next to a tall building in midtown? We ended up at Madison Square Park where there are only trees because falling trees, after all, are probably easier to dodge than falling buildings. In all seriousness, we had some people with us who were here during 9/11 and vividly remember what it was like to have the towers coming down and what happened to the people on the street when they did. While yesterday’s event was ultimately harmless, in a city like New York you simply can’t avoid thinking about that.

As the quake was happening and right afterward I was able to shoot of a quick text that our building was being evacuated due to what I thought was an earthquake, but after that cell service was pretty much nonexistent. I wasn’t able to send a text responding to Margot’s “WHAT?” text after I’d sent one telling her my building was being evacuated. Everyone’s cell phones were saying “oh yeah? You want to call people on the outside and tell them you’re okay? Well too bad!! hahahaha! No email, no text, no social networking for you right now as news reports start blaring about a 5.8 earthquake on the East Coast!” This lasted for a good half hour or so, and some people I knew reported that they still couldn’t use their phones more than an hour later. So, good to know that we can rely on cell service if, god forbid, another attack were to happen here. It took all of two minutes for service to go down and at least 30 minutes to come back intermittently.

It became apparent pretty quickly that we’d experienced the worst of it and nothing else was really going to happen. At this point what makes New York the greatest place to live in the world started coming out via Twitter, news article commentary, and Facebook: tongue-in-cheek snarky reactions from those who experienced the “Eastern Quake” 2011. Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

My neighbor called out, “Whose shaking the building?” Our super called out, “God!”

Felt a litle wobble here is Astoria, but none of my Scotch fell off the shelf.

When it happened I just figured my upstairs neighbor was just vacuuming using about 12 vacuums at once.

This is what happens when they try to open a monument to a black man in D.C. [Tweet from @ElieNYC]

Behold, I have punished NY for their gay-marrying ways!! … Oh shit, I missed. Sorry, Virginia! [Tweet from @almightygod…I have no idea if this person lives in NYC or not but I still found it funny.]

Oh, and to the Californians / West Coasters scoffing and poking fun over the “reaction” from this side, three things: a) yes, some peoples’ reactions were a little much, but thanks to our distinct lack of these events, much of our older infrastructure and many of our buildings are not designed to withstand a direct hit from something like an earthquake, so bugger off; b) you live in the land of constant earthquakes (apparently anyway according to your reactions yesterday); and c) you completely freak out about a 3-day long construction closure of one of your highways, which was planned in advance (which did not produce any significant traffic delays by the way)…who wins the “which coast is better” debate here?

Also? Your pizza and bagels suck. So there.

Anniversaries, vacations, and marathon training!

Oh wow! Definitely been a while since I updated this here website, so be prepared for a lot of stuff packed into a small amount of space. First up? Margot and I passed the 3 yr mark earlier this month and to celebrate we ended up doing an NYC food truck tour, which was simply the best idea ever. We hit up the Coolhaus truck Friday night after dinner with a friend, and on Sunday we hit the Wafels & Dinges truck, the Taco Truck, the Korilla BBQ truck, and Eddie’s Pizza truck! To be fair, they were all amazing with the exception of the the pizza truck, which I found to be a bit weak after tasting the tacos and the Korean BBQ. Don’t get me started on the Belgian waffles…

We also hit up an Italian place over in Hell’s Kitchen on Saturday night that I bought a Yelp deal for ages ago ($25 purchased $50 worth of food and drink) and then the Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria afterward. In other words, there was a lot of eating that weekend, but I wasn’t complaining. 🙂 And somehow I managed to fit a 10 miler into that weekend as part of my marathon training!

With a great weekend behind me, I began the work week like any other; sans vacation plans. One random Expedia search later on Wednesday morning and I had booked a roundtrip flight from LGA (LaGuardia in NYC) to SEA (Seattle, WA) for an 8-day vacation in October. Price tag? $283 with taxes and fees included. The rental car I’m getting for the week costs almost as much as that! So, even though I was vaguely considering the possibility, I am now flying back west for the first time in nearly 3 years and driving to Helena, MT, to see everybody again. And to see mountains, trees, lakes, and those things we really don’t see here in New York.

And finally, marathon training. I had to jump right into marathon training a couple of days after the Queens Half-Marathon (hence why we didn’t really “race” that race), and after my second full week of training it’s so far so good. The first weekend after the half I completed a 10 mile long run without a hitch, and it was my first run from Manhattan into Astoria, which was fun. It’s a great route from Battery City Park in lower Manhattan, up the west side (and past the Freedom Tower construction so I can see how far they’ve gotten for the week), across midtown, and over the bridge into Queens. Also? The bikers on the Queensboro Bridge suck at yielding to runners and/or staying in their own damn bike lane. One guy I was yelling “bike lane” at while he barreled down the *walker/runner’s path* right at me. Oy. I may carry a stick next time I do the Bridge…

This week’s “roll back week” of 7 miles also went perfectly fine, and of course the weekly runs (which are at a 3, 5, and 3) for the past two weeks have been no sweat…well, with the heat they have been sweaty, but, well, you know what I mean. This is the week where the Wednesday run goes up, so it’ll be 3, 6, and 3 from now on. At the height of the training it’ll be a 5, 10, 5 line-up and I can’t really imagine that right now. 🙂 For this week I’m looking at 3, 6, 3, and a 12 at the end of it, so 24 miles total for this week.

What am I excited about these days?

This:

As well as this preview with even more footage! EEEEE!!

Queens Half-Marathon ’11: Recap

During this past weekend of moving madness (finally in my new apt…yay!), I also woke up at 5 am on Saturday in order to run 13.1 miles in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens during the middle of some wicked heat and humidity. You know, as you do on a Saturday morning, right?

To be fair, the heat and humidity wasn’t nearly as bad as it was during the NYRR Long Training Run #1 last Saturday, which was easily the hottest day of the summer so far (on that day we only did 10 miles). We arrived at Flushing Meadows Park after grabbing a cab from where we are in Astoria now over to the park, and this was our view:

Not bad, right? The weather wasn’t too bad when we left at 6 am and arrived around 6:30 am. The first loop(ish) around the park didn’t feel too awful either as far as heat goes, but I think that was because we weren’t really out in the sun yet. Once the sun got up there it definitely got hot during the rest of the race.

For those who may remember the Brooklyn half-marathon back in May, you’ll be happy to know that I steered clear of the Gatorade mix thing at the fluid stations and as such, did not get ill during this race. I stuck with water and my Cliffbar gel shots only and the entire race went very smooth despite the heat.

This particular course kind of looks like a rat maze on the map, but it actually made for a very interesting race and the miles felt like they were just flying by because of all the twists and turns. Miles 3 and 11 felt a little like running through the Louisiana bayou given the 6-7 foot tall grass/brush + the ridiculously muddy road + the lakes covering the entire road forcing us to run into the grass in order to get around them (there was a thunder and rain storm the night before). It made for an interesting experience on that portion of the course.

However, this was actually one of my favorite courses to date! Near the finish line (around the fountain of the planets, which was SO cool to run around!) the DJ was blasting a Metallica song and asked the runners to do air guitars as we passed. Um, excuse me…I’m a little busy here if you couldn’t tell (this was about 12.5 miles in)!

And here we come trucking down the last stretch right after the mile 13 sign! The finish chute was just up ahead and at this point we were so ready to cross that finish line! We knew that water, bagels, and all sorts of edible yumminess awaited just beyond that finish. Our finish time was 2:02, which was 6 minutes slower than Brooklyn but still a little too fast for a training-type run. Luckily we both feel just fine and ready to dive into marathon training this week.

I pretty much loved this race. The heat and humidity kind of sucked, but the course was brilliant; not to mention the fact that comparing a race when I didn’t get sick vs one when I did (running the last 6 miles of the Brooklyn half while feeling nauseous and with a stomach ache was not fun)…well, that’s not a tough question, now is it? Everything went according to plan, and I feel like I’m on track to jump right into marathon training starting next week. We intentionally took it slower this time around because of the heat and the fact that we couldn’t afford too much downtime after this race because of the marathon. Seems like that worked out perfectly, and I woke up with my legs feeling fine. I’m still taking 3 days off before I start running again, and I’ll only do two short little runs before jumping back into a long run next weekend. From here on out it’s all eyes on the NYC Marathon on November 6th!

Time to Taper + HOT Weekend in NYC Recap

In case you hadn’t noticed, it was ridiculously hot this weekend regardless of where you lived in the continental U.S. On Friday afternoon I walked out of my office into what could only be described as a sauna and instantly regretted the official NYRR Long Training Run #1 for the NYC Marathon that I’d signed up for on Saturday morning. Given the Queens Half-Marathon that’s taking place this Saturday, I had to get in the 10 miler that I’d been planning on before starting my taper week this week. So, I was up bright and early at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, and walked out of my A/C’d house to this:

Only 83 degrees? That’s not so bad, right? Two things: a) look at the time stamp and then imagine where that temp went as the morning progressed; b) check out the humidity and “feels like” temp. Yeah, it was hot. Luckily, I had my badge of honor (“race” bib):

And I wasn’t the only crazy out there running anywhere from 6 to 20 miles in the ridiculous heat and humidity:

Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I had been expecting. I mean, the conditions weren’t anywhere close to ideal and I was pretty much disgusting after the 10 miles were over, but it actually felt pretty good. There were fluid stations every mile, misting stations in 3 different spots of the park, the pace setters took us 30 seconds slower to account for the heat, and there was a recovery area after every loop of the park that featured water-soaked sponges, water, Gatorade, gel shots, etc. I actually had a good time all things considered. Now that the 10 miler is done, it’s time to rest and taper up for the Queens Half-Marathon this weekend! At least we know we’re capable of running in extreme heat if it happens again this weekend, right? There will be no PR-setting for this race, that’s for sure!

Afterward we headed over to the Highline to hunt down the Coolhaus ice cream truck, which is apparently one of the best ice cream trucks in the city. On a day where the temps had climbed to this:

I could certainly get behind something like this:

That’s exactly what you think it is. It was a Guiness chip type of ice cream with two white chocolate chip cookies, which were combined to create the greatest thing ever. Totally worth walking over the Highline in the blistering heat and waiting for about 15 minutes for it to show up.

All in all, it was a busy weekend. On Sunday we spent the better part of the day moving our things into my new apartment in Astoria and the name of the game this week after work will be unpacking and putting the place together for my final move-in this Thursday or Friday. It’s definitely been a summer of moving with Boston, Brooklyn, Queens, and Boston again all thrown in, but hey, at least it’s almost over!

Navigating the law school admissions minefield

Disclaimer: the following post will only interest two sets of people. People who are thinking about applying and/or are applying to law school or people who are bored enough at this moment to be interested in my own application process.

While regular Above the Law (ATL) readers have heard this mantra for a long time, those of you who do not read ATL may have noticed the kinda bad week that law schools have had PR-wise starting with a New York Times expose largely featuring New York Law School (not to be confused with NYU Law). It’s a pretty awesome article actually, and while it does a little too much in excusing prospective law students from their many bad choices (one example being agreeing to pay the full $48K/year for New York Law School), it contained some very telling insight for anyone who is even considering the possibility of attending law school.

Later in the week, an ATL post was published detailing the overarching reaction of law schools who have a very clear interest in maintaining the myth that a legal education is worth every penny that can be squeezed out of you and oh hey, don’t worry about that less than stellar job market out there because that doesn’t happen to our students (the irony of this coming from the third-tiers as much as the Ivy’s is quite enjoyable). Combine that with Thomas Jefferson Law’s response to a lawsuit filed by a former student which can best be summed up as: “well yeah, our law school sucks at preparing you for the California State bar exam (as low as 35% in one recent year), but those statistics were there for you to see. Logically speaking, as a college educated prospective law student, it was on you to see how badly we sucked at doing our jobs as legal educators so we can’t possibly be held liable for the fact that you don’t have a job.” To be fair, I do see the logic there. Why someone would borrow hundreds of thousands to attend a law school that boasts a whopping 35% bar passage rate in 2007 is beyond me. However, it’s quite telling that a school like Thomas Jefferson Law even exists and continues to exist while charging (often) stupid 21-22 year old recent college graduates hundreds of thousands to attend their school. Think back to when you were 21 or 22 years old…how solid were your decision-making abilities back then? Mmmhmm. I’d personally support an ABA-mandated requirement that no law school accept students without at least one year in between college graduation and law school enrollment. Give students at least one year to recognize that their student loans aren’t actually like monopoly money and that you do actually have to pay them back and adjust your monthly budget in order to cover them. I wonder what, if any, effect that might have on the large surplus of 24-25 year old unemployed attorneys out there…

This morning the Times followed up on their weekend story with this discussion series featuring 8 “debaters” on the law school question. I found it a little unfortunate that 50% were current or former law school professors who, again, have a distinct interest in maintaining enrollment numbers because that’s where their salaries come from. Not surprisingly, it was the professors who sang the praises of the “experience” of law school and argued that a hyper-focus on employment statistics and prospects after graduation is too short-sighted. There may be some truth to that, but I’d point out that the job market in general, and the legal job market specifically, is simply not the same animal it was when they were students. Gone are the days where having a Bachelor’s degree really meant anything in a non-technical field (they’ve pretty much gone the way of the high school diploma….a really expensive high school diploma). This effect has made its way through the ranks of graduate schools, business schools, and now even law schools.

I find myself fortunate to be currently working in the field that I, you know, went to school for. My decision to finally attend law school is simply the next logical step for me to make given what I’ve decided I want to do with my life. I feel like I’ve been lucky in the sense that I’ve pretty much navigated an entirely linear path toward that end goal, and now I will have the distinct pleasure of navigating through the law school admissions process as it currently stands. It will be a matter of not simply jumping on board with the best law school that admits me regardless of the cost; no, it will be a much more complex game of bouncing financial aid/scholarship offers off of the various schools, comparing LRAP and loan forgiveness options and requirements, comparing bar passage rates and employment proportion statistics (e.g. does this school send a lot of people into government hiring or is it overwhelmingly large firm work?), etc.

I have an Excel spreadsheet at the ready. 😉