Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, November 03, 2021

At last — now you can actually see how many seconds it’ll be before that cabbie floors his gas pedal toward you! New York City is rolling out intersection pedestrian walking signals that will show the number of seconds you have to dash across the street before the light turns green.

Not everyone’s in favor:

[Mayor Michael] Bloomberg, who had taken notice of the countdown signals in a slew of cities around the globe, first proposed introducing the technology during his 2001 mayoral campaign. But city traffic engineers aggressively fought the proposal.

The engineers believe the countdown clocks can be confusing and dangerous because “people misjudge how much time it actually takes to cross the street,” according to a report released by the mayor that tracks his campaign promises.

City Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall acknowledged yesterday, “We have been against it for a while.”

But given the mayor’s insistence, Weinshall said the agency decided to go with a trial period.

I’m not sure how being given the precise amount of time is more prone to misjudgement than the current blind guess. Maybe the engineers think it’ll simply confuse enough crossers that they’ll wind up frozen in the middle of the street…

Oddly, St. Petersburg, my previous home burg, had a couple of these style of signals installed in its tiny downtown core. I thought they were great, and it amused me New York should come up short in this basic city-dwelling metric. Better that it’s catching up now.

The placement of these trial-run signals is at: Coney Island Ave. and Kings Highway in Brooklyn; Hylan Blvd. and New Dorp Lane on Staten Island; Hillside Ave. and 179th Place in Queens; Sixth Ave. and W. Eighth St. in Manhattan, and Southern Blvd. and E. 149th St. in the Bronx. One per borough — nice. I think the Sixth Avenue/Eighth Street one is the only one I’ll have a chance to visit.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/03/2021 05:56:05 PM
Category: Tech, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)


Who says Pamplona gets to have all the fun? An escaped bull kept Newark police busy last night and this morning, until a cowboy from South Africa corralled him.

Does all that sound odd? The kicker is that this is nothing new for New Jersey’s largest city:

It was the second time in as many years that wayward cattle were caught wandering around Newark. In May 2004, a steer escaped from a slaughterhouse and was eventually taken to a farm sanctuary.

I think somebody should look at re-routing those cattle cars.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/03/2021 05:18:04 PM
Category: Comedy, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback


On the way into work, I spied a handmade flyer on a lightpost on 57th Street. It was headlined “LOST DIARY”, and naturally, was a plea for the return of a hard-bound book of written expression, misplaced somewhere near Columbus Circle. There was even an award offered for finding it. (I would’ve snapped a cameraphone pic, if only to spread the word and the 646 area code contact phone number; but I was in a rush.)

The idea of a lost diary, floating around somewhere on the streets, its secrets open to anyone wandering by, struck me as a little poignant.

Then I considered: All those blogs out there — including this one — are pretty much in the same boat. Anyone Googling by can take a peek at digital scribblings that, very often, contain ridiculously intimate and specific details. Not too many years ago, those revelations would have been committed to paper and probably restricted just to the author’s eyes; now, they’re effectively broadcast on an electronic medium that’s accessible to millions of gawkers (a fact lost on most personal bloggers, who bug out when their friends and family come across the online confessions). As oldschool as it seems, that lost journal is, in a way, more like a modern incarnation of the online diary than its owner intended it to be.

Supplementing this isolated incident is today’s national story about the recovery of 300 “letters to God” from the ocean off Atlantic City. Those letters, some more than 30 years old, are generally intimate and intended to be private confessions:

Many more were written by anguished spouses, children or widows, pouring out their hearts to God, asking for help with relatives who were using drugs, gambling or cheating on them. One man wrote from prison, saying he was innocent and wanted to be back home with his family. A woman wrote that her boyfriend was now closing the door to her daughter’s bedroom each night when it used to stay open, and wondered why.

A teenager poured out her heart on yellow-lined paper in the curlicue pencil handwriting of a schoolgirl, begging God to forgive her and asking for a second chance.

“Lord, I know that I have had an abortion and I killed one of your angels,” she wrote. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the mistake I made.”

And the ultimate irony there? The guy who found them intends to auction them off on eBay. The private circles back to public once again, and personal written words become a little less sacred.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/03/2021 12:13:26 PM
Category: Bloggin', Society, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback