Leaf Vacuums and Big Ideas

Posted by Steve on Thu, 10/23/2008 - 12:06am

In my relentless quest to acquire every possible tool before I leave this planet, this weekend I picked up a leaf vacuum.

Thanks to my neighbor's regrettable decision to plant a bunch of poplars in his yard, all of which grew to over 60 feet in a few short years, my back yard maintenance has increased several-fold, especially this time of year. If you have any experience with poplars you know that they shed like sheepdogs. It was all the excuse I needed to invest in a new electric tool. No more acoustic brooms for me!

Lowes carried Black & Decker, Toro and Troy-Bilt. They were all 12 amps, all fairly heavy, all injection molded plastic and they're probably all made in the same Chinese factory. So I looked for details on the box to close the sale. The B&D had a "metal impeller". I wasn't sure what difference that made, but it was ten bucks more than the others so it had to be better, right?

I wanted to write a review of the Black & Decker but it died on me five minutes into its maiden voyage. The motor started making a clicking noise, slowed down, started smoking... I took that as a clue.

I've never had much luck with Black & Decker, from the toaster oven that caught fire to the power screwdriver than came apart in my hand. Okay, their stuff is pure crap. I mostly acquire B&D junk only by way of well-meaning gift givers. Folks, I have no product advertisers here for a reason.

Lowes took the return in good spirit. The nice lady at the return desk said, "Another one, huh?" I thought she was asking if I wanted to replace it, which I didn't. Instead, without looking up she pointed at the wall where there were two more expired B&D leaf vacs.

The Return of Tony Manero

Posted by Steve on Tue, 10/21/2008 - 9:55pm

You forty and fifty-somethings will undoubtedly remember the 1977 anthemic film about the disco era, Saturday Night Fever. What you may not know is that it put my neighborhood on the map. "Fever" was about the disco days and the lives of several blue collar kids in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

I love talking with my neighbors about those days. They say the movie was an accurate depiction of what life was like here, at least for the disco heads. In 1977, I was a hardcore jazz poser at Berklee College of Music in Boston so I missed it all, geographically and socially.

The disco portrayed in the movie, 2001 Odyssey, really existed and was only a few blocks from here. In fact, it didn't shut down until 2005, although by then it had become a seedy gay bar. But it still had that famous lighted dance floor.

After "Fever", Bay Ridge's glory as a nightlife destination gradually disappeared. Brooklyners began migrating to trendy gentrifying Manhattan neighborhoods for their late night fun at clubs like The World, Infinity, Kamikaze, Tunnel, Limelight, Danceteria and music venues like CBGBs, Mudd Club and The Ritz. I lived in the center of that though. We referred to those people (now, people like me) as "the bridge and tunnel crowd".

The Death of the CFL

Posted by Steve on Mon, 10/20/2008 - 11:31pm

I'm really getting fed up with the false lifetime claims of Compact Fluorescent Lighting manufacturers. On average, I've been seeing these bulbs fail at half their published life spans. Maybe we need a class action suit to force companies to publish the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) hours for these bulbs in the real world.

Found my orginal C of O!

Posted by Steve on Tue, 10/14/2008 - 12:46am

NYC didn't start requiring habitable buildings to have a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) until 1938. Since my house was built in 1906... actually the city recently re-evaluated its records and moved this back to 1901 so I guess I've gotta change my banner here... it was very possible it didn't have a CO.

Even though NYC law requires either a valid CO certificate or a "Letter of No Objection" from the Dept of Buildings to be submitted at closing, I never saw one. A housing court judge was quoted as saying, "it is more likely that you will see a yeti crossing the West Shore Expressway wearing a Mets hat than a final certificate of occupancy at a closing."

That's why I was semi-thrilled to find the original CO for this place. I wasn't expecting to find it in the city archives but there it is. Apparently, even though COs weren't mandated at the time, if you did any work to a building which required a building permit, your CO came with the successful inspection report.

So how DO you sell a home in this environment?

Posted by Steve on Fri, 10/10/2008 - 5:15pm
Especially an expensive luxury condo that hasn't been built yet? Especially when it's NYC and the building isn't located in Manhattan or fashionable downtown Brooklyn? Especially when the land under it used to be one of the most polluted areas in the city?

The media's fascination with Sarah Palin continues. My friend saw this from the ferry a couple of days ago. It's a new building being constructed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


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