Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Take the good with the bad

This morning it was raining when I woke up.  Most days I bike or walk to work.  On rainy days, that's asking for wet socks and miserable Eric all day.  I got ready quickly and walked the half mile to the bus stop for the B44 Select.  It's an express bus that doesn't make many stops.  Just as I got close, the light changed.  I was across the street and the bus pulled up.  I thought, "there goes 20 minutes," since the buses seem to come every 20 minutes and I was going to have to wait with the sprinkling rain for the next bus.  Fortunately, the bus driver saw me and waited.

As I got on the bus, I found two pennies on the bus floor.  I was standing in the flexible center section of the bus.  The bus is really two buses put together with an accordion middle.  I usually stand there because I have a backpack on and there are people that need the seats more than I do.

The bus driver wasn't announcing all the stops and the windows were all fogged up.  I thought I had calculated correctly, but when I got off the bus, I was two stops past my stop and over a mile in the wrong direction.  I sighed, took a deep breath, reminded myself that God had a reason for me to miss my stop, and then looked around.  There was a subway stop right there.  I huffed it over there and got on the train.

The subway sometimes confuses me.  I knew I had to head back toward Manhattan.  I got on the train and looked up at the indicators on the wall.  They said we were headed in the other direction.  I found that strange since it looked like the last stop on the train (the tracks ended).  I asked and found out I was on the right train.  The indicators on the subway wall didn't change until after the second stop in the other direction.  As I got off the train, I found one more shiny penny on the sidewalk.  

Even though I was later than I anticipated, I still made it to work well before the office opens.  I like to get here early to get work done.  In fact, I had enough time to write this post before anyone even came into the office for the morning.  

I am reminded again that my plans don't always work out.  For some reason I was meant to take a different path to work and arrive a little later.  I didn't get wet, I found some money, and I got to work on time. 

All is good and I am blessed.  May you all be blessed today too even if you end up taking a different path than planned.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Weather Change

The weather is changing quickly as we move into fall.  I noticed it more today when I drove out to the middle of Long Island for a meeting.  I'm hoping to enjoy some cool autumn days before the real cold hits.  I purchased some wood for my chiminea that needs to be burned.

This afternoon I found a dime outside the hospital at work as I was walking in after my morning meeting.  I have found money almost every day for more than six months.  Since I've been keeping track of it, I've found at least one penny a day.

The weather change is wreaking havoc on my allergies and my sleep schedule, but I know I'll adjust soon enough.  Tomorrow is a bus day since it is supposed to storm for the rest of the week.

Monday, September 28, 2015

12 cents, Mexican, and going to be early

Today, my malaise continued a bit.  I had ups and downs.  Tomorrow, more ups than downs.  I found 12 cents on my walk to and from work.  When I got home, I ordered Mexican delivery.  One of the things I can say about Brooklyn that would be hard to say in most cities, is that you can get just about any food delivered to your door from any type of restaurant.  Tonight's choice was loaded nachos with roasted chicken, black beans, and a heap of cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.  It was delicious.

I watched Jeopardy with the friend staying with me.  I remember growing up and watching it with my family and seeing who could get the answers the quickest.  It was usually after dinner, but before homework.  I was frustrated when my sister and mother could read the clues faster than me.  I still feel like I get my fair share of answers correct on the show.  I tried out once in Buffalo, NY, but didn't make it past the multiple choice quiz.

I feel blessed that I have a life where I can go to bed early when I want to.  It's not even 8:00 p.m. and I can choose to crawl into bed and sleep when I want.  I think of friends and family who are working two or three jobs to make ends meet.

Thanks for the blessings of a good job, good food in my stomach, and the continued pennies from heaven that I am finding on the street every day.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

In a funk…cook it away

I've been in a funk for a few days.  I'm not sure if it is the weather change, stresses from work, if I'm getting sick, or some other reason.

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to the Bronx Zoo.  That helped a great deal.  It definitely put a smile on my face.  Getting out of Brooklyn and heading into the zoo made me feel better.  The zoo is on a large tract of land.  There is much open space with lots of trees, grass, and it feels more like nature and the country than it does the city.

My boyfriend had a camel ride and we both laughed a lot.  The camel smiled and burped and really had a lot of personality. I could've stayed and photographed it all day.  I had taken my own camel ride a few weeks before.

His favorite animal was the lions, seconded by the gorilla babies.  He took dozens of photos of the babies.  It was tough to get a good one of them because of the many people that were also trying to get photos and their attention.

We caught the lions fighting like normal house cats.  They were wrestling and seemed to be enjoying themselves.  It was much better than when I had gone earlier in the summer when they had been sleeping the entire time.  Most of the animals we saw get more active as it gets later.  We saw these lions at about 3:00 in the afternoon.

I, myself, had my imagination captured by the grace of the giraffes.  There is something majestic about the way they walk with their necks slowly moving back and forth.  I found that it relaxed me and, to a point, felt hypnotized.

I'm not sure why I found this photo of the three bears funny.  It might be because of the Goldilocks tale, or just other stories or songs from my childhood about bears.  

We finished our trip to the zoo with the birds.  My boyfriend has been learning how to use my camera which is a bit more advanced than a point and shoot.  Every time we go somewhere, his photos get better (as do mine).  

We went to a great bbq restaurant for dinner on our way home.  

Something about being with, laughing with, holding hands with, exploring the world with someone you love does make "funks" go away.  

I found 34 cents yesterday.  One awesome national park quarter for my nieces, a nickel, and a bunch of pennies (including a wheat penny).  

I woke up this morning and was still in a funk.  I have been in the funk most of the day.  I made three trips to the neighborhood grocery store only to come home with random things and no idea what I was going to cook for dinner.  

Harry Potter actually helped me get out of my funk today…or start to.  I put a copy of the second movie that I have on DVD into my DVD player.  As I started watching, I got a little hungry.  I decided to get my bum off the sofa and go get food.  I walked to the grocery store and picked up some chicken, sauce, spices, and chocolate chips.  

I marinated the chicken while watching more of the movie.  As the movie finished, I grilled the chicken, made some pasta and sauce, and mixed them all together for meals for work this week and dinner this evening.  

I also made…you guessed it…chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

It made for a sink full of messy dishes, but it was easy enough to wash those on with the movie playing.

Between the baking cookie smells in my apartment, warm cookies in my stomach, and a movie that I've seen many times, but enjoy, funk almost obliterated.  Expeliarmus funk :) 

A Sunday Walk in Brooklyn

This morning, I took a walk in my neighborhood this morning.  I remember during each of my travels how different each city neighborhood looked.  It was interesting to me that even in different cities it the US, buildings, sidewalks, colors, roof structure, etc. was not like what I was seeing at home.  These are some photos of my neighborhood in Brooklyn so you get get a feel.  I live in Bedford-Stuyvensant (Bed-Stuy is what most of us call it). 

Note the irony of razor wire guarding the back yards of some apartments placed above the heads of people fighting for equality and freedom.  

Bike sharing is new to our neighborhood.  This citibike share has only been here a few months.  

There are quite a few murals on the streets, but unfortunately some of those have graffiti on top of them. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope is awesome

The Pope is here.  It has made getting around the city a little crazy.  If every Christian acted more like him, Christianity would still be growing instead of shrinking.  That's my humble opinion.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sharing my blessings

Today was an interesting day.  I drove two work, so I didn't have my usual walk.  I got there very early and got a lot done before noon.  I decided after eating my lunch that I wanted to take a walk.

As I turned the corner near my office, I saw this (see above) on the ground.  I thought it was a penny with the hint of copper and some greening.  When I picked it up, it was too small and thin to be a penny. I stuck it in my pocket.  When I got back to the office, I rinsed it off.  It's still dark, but is a dime.  I also found two other pennies on my walk.

I had a conference call that I did from home this evening.  After that, my boyfriend and I walked up to an awesome little taco stand called Lucha Lucha.  The food is delicious and messy.  As we walked up the street, I found a penny, then he found a penny that I pointed out.  Sometimes he points them out.  It's awesome to share this with him.  His brother died in a tragic accident in April, and I told him about my Gram in heaven sending me pennies at that time.  Now he, too, finds pennies on the street and is reminded of someone he loves sending them from above.  I feel blessed to be able to share this with him.  It makes us giggle a little, brings us some joy, and is something we share.

May you all find your blessings to share with someone you love.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Patience, Sherlock, Patience

As I walked to work this morning, I noticed a penny on the street.  I had a walk signal, but they were right where cars would stop before where a crosswalk would be.  A car pulled over top of the pennies as I started to cross the street.  I walked back and stopped.  The car waved me on.  I shook my head and stood there waiting for the light to change and him to move.  As soon as he did, I checked for more cars, and crossed, picking up that penny.  Low and behold, there were actually two pennies there.

Later in the day, I opened our office door to let in some cooler air from the corridor (our AC has been broken for a few weeks and it gets stuffy).  As I opened the door, I noticed a dime on the threshold.  That along with another penny found walking made for a good start to my day.

This evening, I was meeting a friend in Hell's Kitchen for Drinks.  He is someone I met when I lived in the city before, and then kept running into him in various cities when we both happened to be traveling for some reason or another.

As I got to the subway, I noticed a penny just before the turnstiles.  I put it in my pocket and hopped on the C.  I started reading "Tales from the Alhambra" tonight on the train. I lived in Granada back in 1997 and have fond memories of the old Moorish castle.  As I got off the C train at 50th, I went to exit through one of those odd spinning bar exits.  As I spun through, I noticed a dime just on the edge of the moving bars.  I waited until everyone had gone through, and then picked it up.

I walked to Vynl to wait for my friend.  I used the bathroom which was an experience in itself.  First of all,  Michael Jackson is watching you use the bathroom.

The sink is both a sink and a hand dryer in one.  It is sort of functional (it kept trying to dry even though my hands still had soap and I wanted to finish washing).  

The decor is funky and cool.  

The food was just ok, but it was fun to hang out with my friend.  He walked me to the subway and I found a penny both getting on and getting off the subway today.  As I walked back to my apartment I asked myself why I was finding money so much.

1.) As a kid, I read every Sherlock Holmes story there was.  In fact, I wanted to be Sherlock Holmes like some kids today want to be Harry Potter characters.  I prided myself on trying to notice everything around me and to put it all together as fast as possible.

2.) I was patient.  I knew I had time and if I stopped and waited for the car to pass, and the people to exit the subway, that I could safely go and pick up that money.

I feel like both things are important if you are making an investment too.  Gather all the information and put it together and be patient for that return.

As I walked back to my apartment, I noticed that they are filming something on the street near my apartment.  I snapped some quick pictures (the wardrobe people let me take a photo of them after I asked).

I am reminded of the simple movies I was involved with in Rochester when I lived there.  We tried to emulate these things on a much lower budget.  I was also involved with a movie called "Second Story Man," but my life changed and I moved before we did much with it.  I am singing on the sound track and helped setting up the company that did it.  That investment didn't pay off financially for me, but it was well worth the life experience to act in, produce, and assist with films.

May all your investments pay off...patience, Sherlock, patience.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A large investment with a terrible payout.

Today was a great day and a terrible day.  I'm glad not every day is like that.  It is good for me to try to find good in every day.

I found $.26 today.
I ate home-made lunch and dinner and both were delicious, not super expensive, and healthier than restaurant food.
I got to talk with a dear friend, my twin, my mom, and a recent Hartwick graduate who had a positive job interview experience this afternoon.
I accomplished a great deal at work that will move us forward.

Last night, I finished the third book in a trilogy of historical fiction that I have been reading for almost three weeks.  This was an investment of time and mental energy.  I really enjoyed reading most of the books (over 1900 pages of reading) and the characters' lives became important to me.  When one spends this much time reading a book, you really become "invested."  Unfortunately the author sort of gave up at the end and chose the easy way out of the book by killing of the two main characters.  I was disappointed that I had invested all of that time to only have that book end poorly.

I also feel like today was a day of bad news for me, my friends, and my boyfriend.  I just heard lots of stuff that wasn't so good from people that I love.  I'm reminded of some of the less fruitful investments that I've made recently.  I won't go into them, because dwelling on negative doesn't help you or me move forward.

It stinks when you have invested time, money, energy, and your heart into something to have it fail.

We have to take those risks and make those investments, though, if we are ever going to reap the rewards.  Not every investment turns out the way we want it to.

May you remember to keep trying even when things don't work out the way you wanted.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Walking in Brooklyn

I tried to spend as much time outside yesterday as I could.  I woke up and took my book to my back patio to read for a while.  After an hour of reading with the nice cool breeze, I threw on my sneakers and decided to go for a walk.

I am a part of a number of fitness support groups on Facebook.  The one that is currently the most active encourages me to exercise, try to eat healthy, and to drink 64 ounces of water daily.  Saturday was a day full of cooking, and was the first day in three weeks that I didn't at least bike or walk five miles.  Sunday wasn't going to be two days of little exercise.

I chose to walk toward Broadway given that I usually walked the other direction.  Being my usual self, I kept my eyes peeled for money.  I saw this in the road in front of a car.  When you see it up close, you can tell that it has taken a beating.  It's still got value though.  It doesn't have to pretty to be worth something.  

I also found this door with a pretty serious industrial lock on it.  I guess if you can't open the lock, just take the whole door off and throw it away, that's one way to overcome an obstacle in your path.

As I was walking, I listened to one of my all time favorite podcasts, Planet Money from NPR.  This podcast highlights everything and anything there is to do with money and is done in a way that is easy to digest for me and interesting.  I can't say that about all things finance related.  I find this podcast to be one of my most valuable teachers in finance.  I also feel like I learned a great deal from Robert Kiyosaki's book, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." That book taught me a few lessons including:
1.) If you can borrow money for low interest, use it to invest in something that has a higher return.  For example, you buy a house at 5% interest.  Don't pay that house bill off early, just pay it on time.  Use the extra money you'd pay down on your mortgage to invest in something that makes 6% interest or more.  Then you are making more money.
2.) I also learned a lot about taking risks to earn money, but making sure that the potential reward is worth the risk.  

The other book that I recently listened to on CD was Tony Robbin's "Money, Master the Game."  
That book reaffirmed some things for me and made me question others.  The one fortunate thing I learned, was to make sure that the company managing my retirement assets wasn't taking a super high percentage as a management fee.  Fortunately for me, my financially advisor had advised me to choose a great fund with low fees.  He and I discussed the rest of the book and I learned as much from talking with him as I did from Tony Robbins.  Tony Robbins isn't wrong in the book, but does steer you to buy or invest in products that would make him money.  

I bring this all up because the goal of this blog is for me to find blessings.  Blessings can come to you financially, health-wise, joy, positive energy, security, or safety.  I feel like me finding money every day is a big part of my financial blessings.  I'm not always frugal with my money.  I try to enjoy life, spend wisely, sometimes splurge on special things, help friends when they need it, and still put some away for retirement.  

As I continued walking through the city, trying to get my five miles in, all the water I'd consumed for the day hit me.  This seems to happen on my way home from work every day too.  Given the lack of public bathrooms in my neighborhood, it does pose a challenge.  As I walked, and my need to find a bathroom increased, I kept focusing on the fact that my bladder could surely use some practice and stretching.  I also kept walking faster hoping to make it to McDonalds (where you have to buy something and get a key to use the bathroom here).  As I walk faster, I have a tendency to bend forward a little leading with my nose.  I realized that this puts more pressure on my bladder, so I walked as straight as I could while maintaining speed and scanning for a place to pee.  I kept breathing deeply realizing that every few steps I was holding my breath.  Within a quarter mile, I think even an alley would do, but know that I don't want a ticket for peeing in public.  

As I finally see the golden arches in site, I stumble upon a coffee shop that I had only noticed peripherally before.  I head in there praying that they have a bathroom.  Sure enough, they do.  I hop back and forth and breath little short breaths while waiting in line.  They take my order (it seems to take hours and they have a thousand questions) and give me the key to the bathroom.  At this point, my teeth were hurting.  It's almost an adrenaline rush when you finally pee after holding it for so long.  Phew….I came out of the bathroom with clean hands, an empty bladder, and a growling stomach.  

The chipotle chicken sandwich and ice tea was delicious.  Thanks to my need to pee, I found a new place not far from home to grab a good bite to eat.  The reward was worth the risk this time.  

Today's lessons:
If you can't get the lock open, take the door off the hinges.

Taking risks can have great pay out, but also cause some damage.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

As-salamu alaykum, 1 cent, and some rum

I've spent most of my day cooking.  I mentioned it earlier.  This is a two post day.  I just realized that there is something that is uncommon elsewhere, but pretty normal in Brooklyn.

I walked out of my apartment after speaking with my twin, John, to buy some rum.  You see, we have a rum that we both really enjoy.  We like it with just about anything.  He mentioned wanting a drink.  I am not sure if I am going out, but thought one would be nice too.  I walked around the corner to the liquor store to get my bottle of Bacardi Limon.

The liquor store is an interesting experience.  You basically walk into a plexiglass box surrounded by bottles of liquor.  There is either a two way  window or another shoot window (they hand it out, slide left and you pick it up in an opening about a foot away).  Most of the liquor stores in the neighborhood only take cash.  A lovely asian lady helped me tonight in buying this rum.  She also had me taste some peach and some apple cinnamon moonshine and tried to get me to buy it.  I preferred the apple cinnamon, but one bottle of liquor will last me at least a month even with friends sharing.  

Have you heard the phrase "pre-gaming?"  It's something we used to do in college before we'd go out.  We knew it was cheaper to drink in our rooms before going downtown.  In Brooklyn, it's almost a financial necessity.  The drinks can easily be $15/drink.  If you are going out with friends, it's best to have a few drinks before you go (you aren't driving here anyway with the subways and cabs).  Then you can have one drink or a bottle of water ($5 for that too) and at least have fun.  I've also seen my friends sneak mini bottles (like you get on an airplane) into a bar.  They search your bags, though, so you have to be creative about hiding them and can only take a few.  Fortunately, I am still not much of a drinker.  Two or three drinks and I'm good all night.

So I am either pre-gaming, or just drinking at home with the TV on.  Sometimes I intend to go out, have two or three drinks at home, and then I wake up at 4:00 a.m. with pillow marks on my face the the netflix asking me "are you still watching this program?"

Back to the unique thing about Brooklyn. Almost every corner has a bodega, or small mom and pop deli.  In my neighborhood, and the one by work, they are all run by men who are speaking arabic and are muslim.  That means that your breakfast sandwich usually has turkey bacon instead of pork bacon because they don't touch pork.  It probably helps that there is a huge Jewish population here that also doesn't eat pork.  I go to the bodega near my apartment at least a few times a week to grab an ice tea, a breakfast sandwich, or a pack of gum.  I've started greeting the owner or staff with "As-salamu alaykum" although the way I say it sounds more like Ah Salahm Ahlaykoom.  I remember Mrs. Burwell teaching us in Social Studies that it means may the peace be upon you.  Who can go wrong with a greeting like that.  The gents always greet me back and are trying to teach me some other phrases in arabic.  I haven't picked any up yet, but I feel like it is good to spread peace wherever you go.  I'm on the far left I'd say of Christianity.  I feel like we are all called to respond and treat each other with love no matter what our religion is.  

As I left the bodega tonight, I saw a penny of course.  That makes two for today.  It was on the other side of some scaffolding, but my long legs allowed me to straddle that to get it.  

Cheers and As-salamu alaykum to each of you. 

Cooking up a storm, a Brooklyn Target Visit, and a 2014 shiny penny by my car

I decided that it was time to start cooking for myself again.  Between the costs of eating out, the health factor of eating out, and the fact that I'd love to have more time during the week for myself, I felt it was wise.  It will also be helpful for my boyfriend who doesn't have much time to cook between a full time job and school full time.

My mom, God bless her, reminded me of one of my favorite dishes when I was a kid.  That was the second one on the list.  I spent most of last night (after writing my short blog post) reading the third book of a trilogy that my brother sent me.  I had the tv series Spartacus on in the background.  It's pretty bloody, so I prefer to only watch the parts that aren't bloody because I got sucked into the plot.  I had the leftover pork fried dumplings and an ice cream bar for dinner.

This morning, I was up at 6:30 and made my grocery list.  I walked over to the corner grocery store.  The local NSA Super Market always offers something entertaining for me.  The entire staff speaks Spanish (except for the one man who is mute - he makes noises and is always friendly, but doesn't form words).  The store itself is just a block away.  The vegetables are not the freshest, nor is the meat.  Still, it's convenient.  I usually walk over at least a few times a week.  The music playing is usually something upbeat and Spanish.  I went over and got the ingredients for:

Spinach and Cheddar Quiche  - request from my boyfriend
Ready made pie crust - poke with fork a few times, bake for 10 minutes
1 bag baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 clove garlic minced
1 or 1 1/2 cup of the most flavorful cheese you can find (I use a super sharp cheddar)
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper
4 eggs (if extra large) or 6 if medium or small

White crust is in oven at 400 degrees, saute onion in oil until golden, add garlic, stir for a minute or two, add rinsed spinach and let it cook down.  Grate cheese into a bowl.  Beat eggs, milk, and salt and pepper in another bowl.  When crust comes out, let cool for a few minutes.  Add spinach (ends up being about a cup), cheese, and egg mixture.  I put the entire thing on a cookie sheet and then bake it at 375 until the top is golden brown and the center is set (30-45 minutes).  Great for any meal.

Spanish Rice - one of my childhood favorites that mixes well with the grass-fed beef from my parent's farm - I use the Zatarans and add a pound of cooked beef that has been browned with garlic, onions, and peppers.
Lime Mojito Grilled Chicken with couscous
and a some frozen and fresh veggies to accompany them.

I came home and marinated the chicken for the grill.

Next, I needed to get some containers to bring food to work.  I have enough to make it work for me, but not enough for my boyfriend to also take some.

This is where Target comes in.  Target in Brooklyn is nothing like the one in Chicago, DC, or any of the small town targets (Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Peoria).  It's close, though, so I decided to go there.

First, you have to find parking.  I found none, so I had to go into the garage next to Target and pay.  I walked around and checked out their clearance items (I love a sale), picked up the rubbermaid  containers for lunches.  I also ended up with some duraflame logs for my chiminea, a new runner for my hallway, some beach towels (gifts for friends), socks (crazy colors and on clearance), and some cleaning supplies.

Now comes the hard part.  You have a cart full of things and at least one of them is more than 10 pounds (duraflame logs).  You are not allowed to take carts out of the store and you are parked in a garage that isn't close.  This is my first time with this problem.  Usually I have a friend with me or only buy what I can carry.  I had to find security to tell me what to do.  They actually have a staff member who will wheel your cart downstairs and meet you by the curb.  It did the trick and I was on my way back to the house.

As I pulled into a parking spot in front of my building (street parking), there was a shiny 2014 penny just waiting on the sidewalk.

I got home and cooked both the spanish rice and the couscous with some green beans thrown in simultaneously.

As they were al simmering, I started the grill for the chicken and sliced some green peppers to grill.  All of that finished at staggered times.  I then had to do a mountain of dishes to start round two.  I half-baked my quiche crust while sautéing the spinach, and getting the quiche ready.  I also laid out some veggies on a cooking sheet to roast.  When those were done, I popped in the quiche.  At that point, everything else had cooled enough to package up in separate containers.  

My kitchen got quite hot, so I decided to just cook in my apron and shorts.  

I took a bit of a break to talk with my sister and tried to figure out what the last thing was going to be for the menu.  I surfed around online for recipes and decided on a version of Shrimp Fra Diablo.  I had to head to the grocery store again.  I went and I picked up some shrimp, spicy pepper red sauce and pasta.  I came home and cooked the shrimp in the pasta sauce while boiling the pasta.  

I'm not very good at this cooking shrimp thing.  I feel like I mess it up every time.  At least I looked to see that they were de-vained before buying them.  I also checked the sell by date and it was good.  After mixing all the sauce, pasta, and shrimp together, I tasted some of it.  It was delicious.  I've actually been munching all day on the stuff I've been making.  It wasn't until my fourth fork full that I picked up a piece of shrimp.  Damn it all if I had left the skins, feet, and shells on.  It's one thing to have a tail on your shrimp, but it isn't easy to eat it in a sauce with all the other stuff on.  I sorted through the pasta and picked out each piece of shrimp and peeled them.  They were hot, so I had to juggle them to not get burned (I'm not patient enough to wait for them to cool down).  Now that is done.

I've got 13 containers of food for the week.  That means that each of us has at least 6 meals covered.  I'm pretty excited about that.  I even had enough extra shrimp and pasta for my dinner tonight.  The dishes are done and my feet are up.  Now for a relaxing evening with Netflix.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Show me the money

Today, most of my day was spent in Manhattan.  I've mentioned it before, but it is worth repeating that it is much harder to find money in Manhattan.

This interesting to me given that the income and demographic in Brooklyn is much poorer than that of Manhattan.

I walked to the subway (walked a mile today to get to the express train).  I found no change this morning on that walk.  I got to the city and ended up walking approximately 3 miles there between trains and appointments.  I'm as careful there as I am in Brooklyn about checking around for money, but found none there today.

It wasn't until I got off the subway at Nostrand in Brooklyn (again I took the express) that I found my first penny of the day.  It was less than a block away from the subway in Brooklyn.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the Manhattan vs. Brooklyn thing.  I learned in college from personal experience that the people who grew up with money were less likely to leave a generous tip or give money to friends.  I know that studies have demonstrated that the poor give a much larger portion of their income to charity.  The poor also spend much more of their money on lottery tickets.  That leaves me to believe that if a person of wealth drops a penny, they are more likely to pick it up.  It also might mean that a person with less money might leave it for someone they think needs it even more than them.  The people in Manhattan are either better at not dropping pennies, better at picking them up, or they use credit cards for everything instead of cash.  I do know that housing there is more expensive, so I would venture that the people there are also more wealthy (or at least spend a greater amount of their income on housing).

I feel like it is a missed opportunity for me not to pick up money I see on the street.

A friend has asked me if I spend my entire day walking around looking at the ground for money.  I will admit that I don't spend as much time looking up at the sky or the buildings.  I do, however notice what is going on around me.  I'm careful to scan in front of me as if I scoping out the path I would take.  I do this to not just notice money, but to also avoid dog poop that people have left on the sidewalk.

Today was a two penny day.  Tomorrow is a new day and I hope to have more good things to share.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sue and the Chinese Food

I went back to a restaurant in my neighborhood tonight.  I had started writing about it back in May on my first visit, but then never finished.  The following is my now finished blog/memory from that night.

I decided to try some new restaurant in my neighborhood.  It was too hot to cook.  I looked on YELP and came across what was rated as the best Chinese Food take out in my Bed Stuy neighborhood.  I walked to the take out place ten blocks away or so.

I was sort of prepared given the reviews that I had read, but didn't realize until I got there just how surreal the experience would be.

As I approached the store, I decided to take a photo of the outside with my iPhone.  I snapped the picture and almost instantly had a very tall, large, african-american man start yelling at me.  "You could've told me you was takin a picture.  You is rude…so damn rude."

I explained to this man that I would delete the photo and was trying to get a photo of the store front, not him.

"You can't delete anything.  You might say you delete it, but that stuff is around forever.  Now the government can see my photo.  You just don't understand.  You rude."

I apologized again and went into this little hole-in-the-wall Chinese place.

As I entered, I noticed a number of hand written signs about the specials.  They were written on white copy paper with sharpies in terrible english.  I walked up to the bullet proof glass to make my order. 

When you order, you are speaking through two layers of bullet proof glass. 

I walk up to the window, "Good Evening." 

Sue responds, "What you want!?"

"I'd like some pork dumplings, please"

She asks, "Stee oh fra?"

"What?," I say.

Louder - "Stee oh fra?"

"Excuse me, but what?"

"I say, Stee oh Fra dumpling"

"Oh…I'd like fried pork dumplings please."  

"That all?"

"No, ma'am.  I'd also like to order some sesame chicken with white rice."

"Sesame chicken with frah rice."

"No, I'd like white rice, please, and would you also make the sesame chicken spicy."

"Ohh….ok….you like spicy frah rice with sesame chicken…got it…that all?

"No, mam…I'd like to have spicy sesame chicken with white rice." 

"Spicy hot ohh spicy media"  

"I'd like medium spicy, please."

"Oh…ok….you get media spicy frah rice with sesame chicken and pawk fra dumpling." 

At this point, I figured my order was close enough and I didn't try to explain again.  The same man who I call the tinfoil hat man (he isn't wearing a tinfoil hat, but it sticks in my head that he thinks the government is listening in on his thoughts and watching him like the people from the old X-Files TV show who would wear tinfoil on their heads to prevent the government to listening in on their thoughts. ) is pacing back and forth muttering to himself loudly.  I decided to wait outside for my meal.

As I waited, I noticed a big truck pull up.  The truck stopped and pulled a big hose out and to the back of the alley.  The truck is recycling the frying oil for the restaurant.  That's a pretty cool thing.  I notice him turn on the vacuum, flop the hose on the ground, and then get back in the truck.  The hose sucks up some dirt from the sidewalk.  He exits the truck and walks back carrying the hose.  It gets stuck on everything in its path sucking up leaves and dirt.  I'd hate to see that oil truck when he is done.  

Tinfoil hat man leaves with his order.  A young boy comes in with a basketball and a few crumpled dollars in his hand.  He stands on the ball to reach the counter and orders some fried chicken wings.  I listen to his exchange along with the line of other people that come in.  They all call the lady Sue.  People in Mercedes with fancy shoes and purses are ordering food here as well as kids who look like they don't even have much money.  

Sue takes your money through a little slot at the bottom of the window and she slides the food to your right to the other opening in the bullet proof glass.  I pay my $12 and walk out.  

My dad always said the sign of a good restaurant was a full parking lot.  In Brooklyn, it's a line of people out the door, or a steady stream of people in all types of cars and clothes.  


The food was great tonight.  And I was patient enough to let Sue get my order right.  She definitely doesn't waste time on pleasantries or manners, but the price is right and the people watching remained as colorful as ever.  

I found 37 cents today on the street in my walking.  One Alaska quarter (my nieces already have it so it goes in my change jar) and a bunch of pennies of all different ages and wear.  One was even a wheat penny.  

I hope that you are reminded of some of the more colorful places you've been or people you have interacted with.

What I took away from today is that I must embrace the surreal with the real and enjoy every experience that comes with it.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The quest for a tiny fuse

Ten miles of walking, four failed attempts, bad soul food, and seven pennies…..that sums up my day.

Since it has cooled a little in Brooklyn, I have been walking to work.  It helps with my fitness goals since the walk is a total of almost five miles.  It also increases the odds of me finding more money.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a box fan on clearance from Duane Reade.  I assumed it would work and tossed out both the box and the receipt.  A tried to return it when I realized it didn't work.  I was unable to do so, although my mom surely would have managed it given her skill.  There was a small fuse in the plug.  I decided to try to fix it by replacing that fuse.  This morning on my way to work, I stopped by the local hardware store.  They didn't have the tiny fuse.

Tonight, on my way home from work, I stopped by another store.  They didn't have the fuse either.  I got home, put my feet up for a few minutes, and then decided to go to Home Depot to see if they had fuses.  Given my goals of being fitter, I decided to walk the two miles.  When I arrived there, I discovered they had no fuses.  The kind clerk suggested I go to an electronics store a bit further out.

I got there, asked the Dominican owner for a fuse in Spanish (not knowing the word for a fuse) while his wife helped a Hasidic Jew with his.  No luck on the fuse.  My hip started hurting for from the walking.  I decided to pop into a local pub for a drink.  They didn't offer food, so I popped next door to a soul food place.  It was an unfortunate decision.

I grabbed some food and went into the pub. If it wasn't for the double drink and my hunger, I would've dumped the food.  It was acceptable, but not what I'd choose to eat twice.

As I got home, I noticed that I was 1/10th of a mile shy of 10 miles of walking.  As my friends know, I like even numbers.  I walked to the grocery store and then home to get in my ten miles.

Two pennies on the way to work.
Two pennies on the way home.
Two pennies on the way to Home Depot.
One penny on the way home.

7 lucky pennies in my pocket.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Four cents and lots of shofars

Today, I found four cents throughout the day.  All four pennies have seen better days.  

It was also the second day of Rosh Hashana.  I was asked many times today if I was Jewish.  Apparently, other Jewish people play the shofar for you if you are Jewish and it is some sort of blessing.  I finally, on my sister's suggestion, answered that I wasn't, but would happily receive a blessing.  I received a very nice blessing from a young man and blessed him in return.  

Happy Rosh Hashanah.  May you all find prosperity, health, joy, and peace for the coming year.  You don't have to be Jewish to receive a blessing.

Monday, September 14, 2015

It isn't easy being green - 9 cents

As I walked to work today, I found a nickel on the sidewalk.  Today is Rosh Hashanah.  Just after finding that nickel, a group of Jewish men asked if I was Jewish.  I said no, but remembered to wish them a happy new year.  I then continued my walk to work trying to figure out why they were asking.  I was dressed in my bow tie (vintage red and black striped) and talking on my phone to my brother.  I noticed a penny and picked it up.  

I had a good, but not exciting work day.  As I left the office, I called my mom to keep me company on my walk.  About a block in, I noticed a penny on the sidewalk.  I stopped to take a photo.  Mom mentioned that  my photos only show my feet and you can't really see the penny, so I decided to get closer.  

As I bent closer, I noticed another green penny that was harder to see.  

I was reminded of the Kermit the Frog song about being green

Just after I picked up these pennies, four Jewish teenage boys stopped me and asked if I was Jewish (second time today).  I again said no and wished them happy new year.  I guess they were trying to make sure I knew where I could go for prayer.  They held a horn (shofar) in their hands.  A block later, a man was blowing the shofar on the sidewalk.  Kids were running around giggling and a bunch of people were watching from all around.  It is nice to see any people celebrating even if I don't understand all the specifics of why.  I embrace that joy and let it warm me too and bring a smile to my face.  

Just because a penny is green, older, tarnished, or was buried under some dirt for a while doesn't mean it has any less value.  

I'm reminded that in fact sometimes things that are older have much more value.  I think about antiques and their value.  I also think about how much more knowledge older people have than younger people.  Young and pretty might look good, but someone older hopefully has a great deal more life experience and knowledge.  This green penny has seen quite a bit more life than the shiny penny I found later on the street that had been run over by a few cars.  

Think about a shiny penny that has never seen circulation.  Compare that to a penny that is the same age, but has traveled the world.  Which penny would you rather be?  For me, I choose living the life and letting myself age, gaining knowledge along with wrinkles and memories.  Some of those memories will be rough, some of them enlightened, dirty, and sparkling, smelly, and scrumptious.  I'll take them all instead of not having any.  

Don't be afraid to be the green penny.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Digging in road tar for a damn penny

No you didn't…yes I did.  This morning, I dug into some tar in the road to dig out a penny.  It was all gooey and gross.  There were no cars coming, and I got it.  I also found a penny by the side of the road and my boyfriend found two pennies today.

It was a long day, but a good one for me.

What lesson can I take from today?

Sometimes you see something as a blessing, but you have to dig for it to get it.


Sometimes something looks like a blessing, but is covered in crap.


Maybe you can't count a penny as a blessing if you had to work to get it.


Don't leave a tar covered penny on your dash if you don't want a mess.

No matter what, I do feel like something can be learned from this.

You spot a penny in the center of the road embedded in tar.  You look both ways, and walk out and try to get it with your fingers.  You notice that it is quite stuck.  You are standing in the middle of the road staring at a penny and digging for your keys.  You examine your keys to figure out which one is the least valuable or the least likely to be damaged.

You look both ways again to make sure you have time.  You bend over and dig the penny out of the tar.  You then pick it up and realize that your hands are now covered in tar.  You look at the gooey covered smelly penny and try to figure out where to put it since it will mess up your pants more than your hands.  You decide to hold it until you get to your car.

You dig a napkin out of the glove box and try to get most of the tar off.  You then put the now only slightly tar-covered penny on your dash since you don't want it to leave a tar mess elsewhere.  You drive home and head into your apartment.

Once you arrive and look at your coin jar, you remember that there is a tar penny in your car.  You go out to get it and take it from the dash leaving a smear of tar that you must remember to clean later so it doesn't mess other things up.  The penny is deposited in the special change jar and you know that when you end up emptying this thing, there will be more than one piece of change that has tar on it.

That was the penny story for today.