Archives for posts with tag: Local

(302 words)

While the New York State and national unemployment rate are doing a bit better, at 7.7 percent and 8.6 percent respectively, a closer look shows that New York City has not fared as well. The unemployment rate for the entire city remained the same at 9.0 percent for October, which is the same rate as it was last year.

“The nation has been adding jobs,” said James P. Brown, economist for the state Department of Labor. The national rate fell by 0.4 percent in November. “There has been a nice pick up in auto industry, but that is not big for New York City.”

A borough by borough breakdown, comparing unemployment rates from the same time last year, shows that Manhattan stayed at 7.5 percent; Queens remained at 8.0 percent. Kings County (Brooklyn) stayed at 9.7 percent.  Only Richmond County — that’s Staten Island — showed some improvement with a drop from 8.2 percent to 7.9 percent. That was all offset by the Bronx’s riveting 12.4 percent unemployment rate, an increase of 0.1 percent. Nowhere else in the state is the unemployment rate as high.

The Bronx, where I live, is a story apart from the whole. “The Bronx has always had a higher unemployment rate than the city,” said Brown, who covers New York City for the state. A higher portion of the population doesn’t have a high school diploma, essential for employment. Also, many have poor language skills or don’t speak English, another essential. Another factor is that many Bronx residents have jobs in manufacturing, construction and the restaurant business. These jobs are seasonal or have high turnover rates, he said.

Clearly, this has not New York City’s year. “We did well in 2010,” said Brown. “Now the national economy is showing some strength.”

But it is not a lot of strength.  Let’s hope for better next year.

Victoria

 (588 words)

On one of my recent constitutionals, I saw some children from a nearby daycare at a playground.  How wonderful and carefree they were.  The daily worries that burden the adult world were not affecting their young lives at all. At that moment, the only thing that mattered was being on the playground.  Oh, to be a child at the playground once more.

The other day, while on another of my walks around my Bronx housing complex, I noticed that another playground had been erected. This one, however, was just for the grown-ups. Dumbfounded could barely described me.  I stopped, stood there slack-jawed, and just looked at it, as if I were a kid seeking permission.

To be sure, it isn’t called a playground. I mean, that is not the word that the marketers use to lure adults.  “Life Trail” is its name.  But, come on, let’s all be honest here. It’s the Grown-ups’ Playground.  And curious adults are using it in the same way that the kids use theirs.

See, when the school day ends, kids often drop their book bags, and run to the playground. They play. Then they pick up their stuff and go home.  That’s exactly what the grown ups do.  They come from shopping, or dropping off youngsters at school, or the post office.  They see the Grown-ups’ Playground. They stop, drop their belongings, and try out some of the equipment. Then they pick up their stuff and continue on with their day.

playground pal on stationary bike

A playground pal

This playground has rules, just like the kiddies’ playground:
No pushing;
No shoving;
Wait your turn;
Don’t hog the equipment;
No cursing;
No eating;
No drinking;
No smoking;
No spitting.

Unlike the children’s playground, this one comes with instructions that explain how to use the equipment and which muscles groups are being exercised. Funny, when the kids use their playground they don’t need that. Besides, if instructions were there, some couldn’t and many wouldn’t take the time to read it. That is exactly what happens at the Grown-Ups’ Playground.

A playground visitor

Stopping by the playground

Anyway, some of these instructions are intimidating. I mean, who wants to be the first one on the Proprioceptive Neuromusclular Facilitation Exerciser? Not me. It was the last thing that I tried, and one of the few things I really needed.  It strengthens the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulders, and builds the gluteus medius, also known as “The Buns.”  (We don’t want that to sag. Now do we girls?)

Now I have developed a small routine.  It includes the upper-body cycle that strengthens the back, torso, tightens up those sagging upper arms and gets rid of a rather painful kink in my shoulder.  It works.  I try that facilitation thing and the recumbent bicycle.

Of all the equipment there, my favorite is the recumbent bike. After I get into a good cycling rhythm, I close my eyes, and pretend that I am on the open road. Free from the fear of striking anything, I lift my head toward the sky, and extend my arms, palms up. The early morning sun bathes my face; the wind gently brushes against me. Sometimes, in the early morning, the mist cools my skin. My spirit becomes calm. In those brief minutes, my joblessness, anxieties about the working world, and thoughts about how I am going to survive, dissolve. In those moments, I become a kid again. I become just another kid playing on the Grown-ups’ Playground.

Victoria

(264 words)

Shortly before 6 a.m., and just before I was about to take my brisk morning constitutional, I walked into my kitchen, and what should I see through my window? A falcon perched on to my balcony. He stayed for quite a while.

Falcon

Falcon on my balcony

OK, OK, I am not going to win any awards for my photo of him or her, but that’s not the point. The point is, shortly before dawn this huge bird, with deep piercing eyes, this large black hooked beak, talons that wrapped around the rim of the balcony, and an enormous wing span landed on my 18th story balcony, high up in the Bronx.

That’s right, you read it here first and correctly. This falcon came to visit me, at my place in “Da Bronx, New York, Da Big Apple, USA, Da planet earth.”

I was awed by the falcon’s majestic beauty, and I thanked God for the opportunity to have this creature before me. Why he flew to my place, I will never know. But I was honored by his presence. I took a picture. Actually I took several.

In the past, when I lived in other apartments, I took pictures of creatures that visited my home. But those pictures were for housing court. Also, to tell you the truth, I was never thrilled when those creatures came visiting, and I never, ever wanted them to return. Let me be clear, even though he or she tore up my flower pots and messed in my hibachi, The Falcon is invited back.

Victoria