NJ: After the storms

After the past few weeks of storms that have hit NJ and the Jersey Coast where I live, it looks like we are in a period of tranquility for the next week or so.

Many people in NJ are still suffering from the Super storm Sandy and the nor’easter that followed a few days later gave a one-two punch. With Sandy, we were without power for 8 days, and just as we got power back in our house, within 24 hours, we again lost power after the Nor’easter!

Fortunately, we got back power within 24 hours after outage #2 an we were warm and toasty at hour home. Now that we are resuming our normal life, it’s time to reflect on some of the things I learned from this experience:

  • Get a Generator, if you live in an area where you lose power, invest in a generator, so you can reduce the “disruption” to your life. This is going to be my next investment, so when the next super storm hits NJ, and I lose power, my generator will keep my house warm and save me from throwing away hundreds and hundreds of dollars in food!
  • Have friends and/or relatives that are willing to be your escape strategy if you don’t have backup power (generator anyone?)
  • If you are determined to stick it out, make sure you have flashlights and firewood to keep your sanity when you are without electricity.
  • Have lot’s of warm clothes and layer your clothes, so even though you are freezing, you look cool in your multiple layers of clothes.
  • Make sure you have enough batteries, candles and lots of patience with your kids as they go crazy without their electronic toys that no longer can be charged!
  • Get an inverter for your car. You will be surprised how useful the inverter is when you have laptops and electronics that you HAVE to charge in your car!
  • Make sure you have enough gas in ALL your cars! If your area doesn’t have electricity, there is a high probability that you won’t be able to get gas for a while
  • Stock up on food that are not perishable. Evaporated milk will go a long way when you will be out power!
  • Plan, Plan and Plan for being without power for extended periods of time.
  • Make sure you have enough batteries and flashlights to last for a few days.
  • If your neighbors have generators, be nice to them and beg/plead so you can get a line from their generator to your house..

Even as I write this posting, there are hundreds of thousands of people in NY/NJ that are still without power. I truly pray that these people get their lives back and can get some normalcy in their lives.

The past few weeks have been humbling. What we took for granted, is indeed a commodity (Electricity). Don’t take this commodity lightly (no pun intended).

If you read this post and were impacted by the storms, I’d like to hear how you survived the past few weeks.


Where I’ve been

It’g been a pretty crazy few weeks. Every time I decide I need to write a post, something comes up to distract me. Life continues to keep me in the fast lane, that even a seat belt wouldn’t have slowed me down. With doing double duty at work and spending time with the kids at home, I’ve wanted to put on the brakes to stop, but have not been able to do so! So here is a summary of where I’ve been over the past few weeks. Pictures to follow!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve attended multiple marrow drives for a friend nephew and went to NYC this weekend for St. Patrick’s day Parade and festivities. My first parade in NYC! Gotta admit this was truly the highlight of this year for me.

We must have walked over 5 miles in NYC! You know when you are getting old when a 5 mile walk stays with you for days. Oops, forgot the few hours of tennis.. I could remember the ancient days when I could do this and be ready to go at it the next day.. oh well such is life..

Have you ever been to Georgetown Cupcakes and Chelsea Piers! Gotta admit, eating cupcakes and hitting Golf balls was never this fun! Walking in NYC and seeing the throngs of people is just uplifting and shows what life is and how fast it moves.. Just look around if you are in NYC!

We of course went to the happiest place on Earth (of course it’s the Apple store anywhere, but this one is in historic Grand Central Station!), is such a treat! Of course this place is not so happy when your iPhone gets smashed and you have to shell out money to replace it the next day.. that’s what happened to my daughter.. oh well, such is life..

I have to admit that the Marrow drives were the most rewarding! It’s the first time I felt that I gave back to the community and am now thinking of other ways I can do more of this. If you ever want to save a life, this is one great way to do it. If you are between the age of 21 – 61 this is an excellent opportunity!

It’s been a pretty hectic few weeks and I could write pages and pages on each of the activities above as everyone know’s Dad is never one to be word shy…

Spring starts on Tuesday Morning at 1:41 AM… Ready for it?

Deal Sites for NYC Restaurants

Image representing ScoutMob as depicted in Cru...

As you know two things that Dad loves is a bargain and he loves food. I was reading the daily email from Clark Howard and came across some sites I wanted to share with you.

I’ve used Restaurant.com to get some amazing discounts but you have to check out these sites which offer you discounts in NY, Dallas and some selective markets.

These sites are pretty new and were discussed on Clark Howard’s site:

  •  DailyGobble.com – Only in New York and San Francisco at this moment.  Restaurants block off discounts based on specific times of day or days of the week when they need the foot traffic into their restaurants. I especially loved the discounts for Indian Food in NYC. Gives me a reason to go to NYC soon!
  • ScoutMob.com – Available in  a dozen or so cities and coming soon to more! What I liked about this site was the simplicity where you don’t pay up front like Groupon and other sites require you to. You only get the savings when you take advantage of one of the offers. I also liked the map based navigation of the cities that the offers are available in.

Of course doing the above does not preclude me from my obsession with using my local Entertainment Book for local food coupons!

Millionaire Dreams squashed again!

For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been watching the Mega Millions Jackpot go up to almost 320Million in the NY/NJ area! I normally don’t play ANY lottery or instant lottery games, but I figured what the heck, maybe lightning would strike and I’d win the mega lottery which balloons up to the hundreds of millions every month!

As you can guess, I didn’t win last nights $320 million drawing. So I’m still not a millionaire and still have the same chance of winning the $12M lottery on Tuesday that I played with my winnings (all of $10)..

Yet for the past few weeks, I was having these dreams and I was walking around thinking that by some strange fate or luck lightning would strike and I’d win the big jackpot. I even started planning my course of action of going invisible when I did win!

I was talking about this with my daughter while we went to see if I had won anything. We even layed out a detail project plan in our minds:

  • I’d change all my phone numbers
  • Disable all my email ID’s as well as my wife’s.
  • I’d get a high priced lawyer and accountant and sign a confidentiality clause with them.
  • Not come forward for a few weeks, while I walked around being a “quiet mega millionaire”.
  • After a few weeks, take a personal day  and go to the Lottery center and to claim the prize an NOT have my name revealed.
  • Claim the lump sum payout (taxes taken out).
  • Take another day off from work and sit down with my lawyer and accountant and plan my next move
  • Would I quit my job? I really don’t think I would.. I’d be much more pleasant at work, but I don’t think I’d quit..
  • Pay off my all my debts and own my home outright.
  • Buy some investment properties.
  • Donate a substantial sum to my temple. After all God is the one that blessed me with these winnings!
  • Maybe buy a new car (Lexus or Beemer of course!). Good bye Oddessy!
  • Go back to work and just keep my mouth shut (of course, knowing my nature, this would be the hardest thing for me to do)

Even with all the planning above, I knew full well that me winning the lottery was almost microscopic.. but hey I’m allowed to dream..

So I diligently played about $40 over the past few weeks and I actually won at total of $10!

With these winnings, I don’t have to do any planning and still can remain on the path to endless debt and normal life…

Yet.. in the back of my mind.. “I still want to be a billionaire, so friggin bad“. Oh wait, isn’t that just a song??

Well I want you foks to know with the $7 that I won today.. I bought more tickets to keep my dream alive!

How much did you spend on the lottery over the past few weeks?

NYC travel Guide – My Quick Guide

So I went yesterday with my pal to NYC to get his OCI card.. Yes, you can consider this a continuation of my frustration of not being able to get my OCI..

AM(that’s my pal and me.. since we both have the same initials we are commonly referred to as AM squared) met in NYC Penn station and prepared for our day long adventure. Of course since I’m now a tourist in NYC and a newbie to NYC Penn Station, I immediately got lost as I exited to the promenade level.. Everything has changed since the time when I commuted to NYC for 10 years. Now I’m just a displaced New Yorker calls the suburbs of Central New Jersey  home.

The renovations in NY Penn station are remarkable. Amtrak, NJ Transit are separated and of course, I didn’t know this so I gave the other the wrong location to meet. Fortunately he ignored my advice and showed up in the right place (the aforementioned wrong place! – Get it?)

Now what is the best way to see New York? By the transit system of course! Below are some tips to making your trip to NYC a memorable one…

  • Buy a one day “fun pass” Metrocard (currently $8.25) and you can take the MTA buses and trains to your hearts content. You can buy this at any subway station! This card is your passport to adventure in NYC! You are guaranteed to meet all kinds of interesting characters on the mass transit system of NYC. So both your transportation and entertainment are covered by this metrocard.
  • What’s the only “FREE” thing in NYC that is a tourist hot spot? The Staten Island Ferry. This ferry runs every 1/2 hour and gives you an excellent view of the Statue of Liberty as it goes from Manhattan to Staten Island. This is a must if you visit NYC.
  • Went uptown first via the “E” and got out on 5th ave and 53rd St. Coincidentally this was where I worked on my last job in NYC! This is 666 Fifth Avenue! Here is where your walking tour uptown starts. You hit Fifth Avenue and head Uptown past Trump Tower, Tiffany’s and the other amazing stores on Fifth Avenue. Make sure you watch the cabs, as you don’t want to be a casualty of the taxi’s as they speed across the intersections.
  • Stop at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and 60th street and you have found Nirvana. It’s not called the “happiest place on earth” for nothing. When u enter this huge store.. you just want to open your wallet and say “I’ll take this and this, this.. ” I cam ooh soo close to buying the new Apple Laptop called “MacBook Air“. It’s a good thing I resisted. For Now..
  • Once we finished our Indian Consulate Experience (I’ll leave that experience for our guest blogger AM when he sees this posting), we went downtown to Ground Zero with the “R” train. This is the first time I’ve been here since 911 and my heart was very heavy as I saw the construction taking place where the twin towers once were.  “Never Forget”..  This was the same place I commuted from when I used to work for a few years downtown! Now it’s just a construction site as NYC rebuilds at Ground Zero.
  • We then walked downtown to the Staten Island Ferry for our Free ride to Staten Island. BTW, the Staten Island Ferry is truly a nice ride and you don’t have to wait hours and hours to get to Ellis Island to see Lady Liberty. As you pass the Statue Of Liberty, you take your pictures and then go back inside.. where it’s nice and warm! You go to Staten Island and come back to NYC on the next ferry Launch!
  • Food in NYC is the best! You have your pick of the carts on the streets, fast food, ethnic food or my new fav.. Chipotle! Mexican Fast food like Subway (Eat Fresh!)
  • Get back on the train and get off at either Canal St (China Town and Little Italy), or at west 4th, or Union Square.. If you are truly ambitious, start walking uptown on Broadway and you can  go past City Hall (the office of the Mayor of NYC)!
  • Since I’m not inclined to walk 40 or more blocks, we took the train to Union Square and did some strolling in the outdoor market where little kids were being paraded by their teachers for their annual Halloween walk and the artisans and other vendors were selling their caricatures as well as their fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • When we were relaxing on the steps at Union Square park, we even got a job offer to make $15k per hour by a young man who was keen on getting us our next job!
  • Back on the train we went to the Center of the world — Times Square.. Now the bright lights of Times Square and the stores will absolutely give you a thrill. There is a reason that they call this the center of the civilized world. To sit in Times Square you see the bright lights of Broadway and the intersection of Broadway and 7th avenue as the intersection of all things and absolutely the midtown attraction of NYC. Walk a few block a few blocks and you have Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center which are just off 6th Avenue.
    • Tip for travel on trains: If you miss a train., just wait, another one will come in a few minutes. Be careful that you don’t get on Express trains (#4, #5) if you want to make all stops uptown/downtown.
    • When in Times Square, buy yourself a coffee from any one of the Starbucks that line Broadway and just sit in the pedestrian mall that has become the staple of the Times Square area. Nothing like it in the world to have a cup of hot coffee and sit in the center of Times Square!
    • If you want to see a broadway show, go to the TKTS booth and get discounted broadway tickets.
    • If you want to know why NYC is the city that never sleeps, spend a few minutes in Times Square and you will see why!
  • If you don’t want to travel by train, you can get on any Bus going North/South or East/West.  This is the only way to tour NYC either by bus or by train!
  • If you have the chance, make sure you stroll in Central Park or take a ride on the Hansom horse driven cabs that line Central Park.. Now you are living the high life!

What I realized from my day in NYC is that NY never leaves your system, even if you don’t live there anymore, it just lies dormant till your next visit. I noticed that as I walked up and down the streets of NYC, my attitude was reverting back to my NY way of thinking. Nobody has the right of way during rush hour (especially in Penn Station!). If you are walking against the pedestrian flow,  you better be careful not to get pushed to the side!

I realized yesterday that I really miss the fast paced life of  NYC and to visit NYC at least once every few months is the answer to really living and enjoying life!

Now that the holiday season is on us, you MUST visit NYC to see the lights on Broadway and the decoration on Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center. If you go in the early evening hours, this is when NYC comes to life and you will see the spectacular effects of Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Fifth and Sixth Avenue! Of course you can’t forget Herald Square, the Empire State Building. I guess to in order to really see NYC, you have to see it as a native.. on foot!

NYC Visit for OCI retrieval – NOT MINE!

So this Friday, my buddy and I will be visiting NYC. He’s getting his OCI card and I’ll tag along sulking in self misery as I still can’t get mine since I need to get the American Naturalization certificate to get an Indian Overseas Citizen of India Card. I still don’t get the logic behind that. So to get the replacement I’ll have to pay $380 so I can make a copy of it to give it to the Indian Government.

It’ll be my second visit to NYC in the past 2 weeks. To think I grew up in NYC, went to school in NYC, and commuted to NYC, and now I’m just a tourist. Something about NYC just brings out the joy in me. I guess seeing all the masses of humanity and the crowds is just exciting. In the  burbs where I live, seeing people walk around is a rarity, but in NYC, the best way to get around is on Foot.

Last week when I went to NYC, I found myself  looking at people and saying that: “this was me for so many Years”. Now I’m just a docile subarbinite who gets excited in my infrequent visits to the Big Apple.

I’ll write about my visit of course as my buddy and I plan to chill and have a good time.

Later for now,