Sunday, July 29, 2012

On Vacuum Repair

My vacuum cleaner was broken.  It was an electrical problem.  The power kept cutting in and out as I was vacuuming the rugs in my apartment.  It's a common problem with these types of cheap machinery, they need a little tinkering every now and again.  So I took it to my local repair shop.

This is something a lot of people don't do today.  A few of my friends would look at me funny and say, "just get a new one."  Despite the efforts of many to recycle and reduce their carbon footprint we still live in a throwaway culture.  It's very wasteful to take a vacuum cleaner, or any other type of electronic household appliance, to the dump without giving a local repair shop the chance to fix it first.  Many of these things have a simple part that needs replacing and it won't take long or cost much.  My parents once found one of those very expensive Dyson vacuum cleaners in their local recycling center, out to be trashed, and all it turned out it needed was a simple part replaced that Dyson mailed to my folks for free.

The problem is a lot of these mom 'n pop repair shops are going out of business because the parts are getting harder to order, the machines aren't even built to last, and the demand is simply not there.  Luckily, New York still has a few of these stores left in each borough.

The place I went to was the Expert Appliance and Electronics Center on 293 Court Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718.858.5444).  It took only a few minutes.  The proprietor new instantly that the connection was bad in the extension arm and needed a new part that he happened to have in the back.  I paid him $20 in cash.

So next time your vacuum, or Cuisinart, Osterizer, stereo poop out, don't throw it out.  Take it to your local fix-it shop.  You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ode to Beer

I've always loved you, beer. We've had a good thing going, you and I. We've been together since my teens. We used to have to hide our love, but eventually society came to terms with our bond. I drink you when I'm happy, I drink you when I'm blue. When all else fails, beer, I'll always have satisfaction with you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

3 Weeks in Asia

My apologies for being away from this blog for so long.  For most of May into early June I was traveling on business through Singapore, China and India.  Right before that I moved to a new neighborhood and much of June was spent fixing up the new place.  Now that I am back and more settled I hope to not be such a stranger to this site.  I will aim for a post or two a month.

I think this would be a good time to share a few photos of my latest travels.  3 weeks was a long time to be away and, although it was a bit exhausting, the experience was great.  I started in Singapore, where I spent a few, sweaty days and then off to China.  I saw 4 cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai.  One crazy night I was trying to get back to my hotel, but the cab driver didn't speak English and we spent 15 minutes debating with each other in our respective languages, not having a clue as to what the other person was saying.  I finally got a co-worker, who was Chinese, on the phone to help with directions.  After China, came India, where I had a similar situation.  I thought I was prepared this time, since I had the directions written in Hindi by the hotel staff, but the driver turned out to be illiterate (not totally uncommon for the rickshaw drivers).  Luckily he got out of his cab and walked over to a group of men that was able to tell him what the note said.

Onto the pictures...

I found this man and his grandson in the Forbidden City.  Look at his expression.  I love this picture.

This intense scene was all about chess.  I saw this guy 2 days in a row in the same park in Shanghai, drawing a crowd each time.  Must be a local favorite.

The West Lake in Hangzhou was a popular destination for lovers.  This young couple was strolling the shores in the rain.

This fuzzy guy was for sale in 798 Art Zone in Beijing.  Everyone was enraptured by his cuteness (and yes, he was intended to be someone's pet, not lunch).

These golden guys are to be found in Lingyin Temple.  

Watched the sunset over the Arabic Sea with this guy while talking on the phone to Grandma.

Grilled corn vendor in Mumbai.

Saw this bronze lady riding her bike in the Botanical Gardens in Singapore. 

Sky over Hong Kong.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Lately, I've been using the urban slang werd, to express my affirmations.  However, I realized I didn't know where this expression came from or what its etymology was.  So I googled and found its origin is based in remembrance of WERD 860 AM, the first black-owned and operated radio station.

WERD was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1949 by Jesse B. Blayton, a university professor and accountant.  Its programming was marketed toward the black community and served as an important means of media exposure for Dr. Martin Luther King, who had his Southern Christian Leadership Conference headquartered in the same building.
In the segregated south of the 1950's and 60's, I'm sure WERD was an important and needed mouthpiece for black culture and popular expression.  It's no wonder that the tribute slang werd is used as a declaration of positivity.

One of the most spirited DJ's of WERD was no doubt James "Alley Pat" Patrick, who screamed and ad-libbed over many of the AM broadcasts, as heard in this clip for Holts Auto....