As of January 27, 2011 the army is 348,857 women strong!!! SIGN UP!! SPREAD THE WORD!!! There is still 651,143 recruits left to go!!! ........ To get more information click on the banner to go directly to Army of Women's website.

Monday, February 15, 2010

2010 Year of the Tiger: New York City Celebrates Chinese Lunar New Year

Gung Hei Fat Choi! 
Congratulations and be Prosperous!

On Sunday, February 14th, 2010 in addition to exchanging satin-covered-red-lace trimmed boxes filled with chocolates and 101 ways to say I-Heart-You greetings, many NY'ers as others around the world were fire-crackering-in the first day of a 15 day long celebration welcoming in the Chinese Lunar New Year (also known as the "Spring Festival"). Family, friends, poetry, gifts, music and food are all key ingredients to the stream of festivities.

The color of the day is red. Bright red for happiness in concert with gold and orange (happiness and wealth).

Handcrafted, tasseled decorations, lanterns, scrolls and banners filled with couplets about happiness, wealth, longevity and best wishes for the New Year are carefully hung all about, especially on windows and doors.

At the zero hour lion dancers accompanied by loud drums and clashing cymbals, and arsenals of firecracker pops scare away the evil spirits of the old year as the Door Gods usher in the good.

Guests at celebrations are treated to an abundance of wonderful foods many as the pyramidal center pieces of oranges or tangerines to bring good luck. Candied lotus seed to bring many children (especially sons) to a family, candied coconut to bring about unity/togetherness, and candied melon for good growth and health. Fish and Chicken for prosperity are served whole (heads and tails intact) to symbolize completeness.

The food name (homonym) as well as its appearance determines its reference as one for luck in a meal. Noodles (uncut) to represent long life, spring rolls for wealth as they are similar in shape to gold bars, and sweet and sour dishes because the word sour is similar in pronunciation to the word for grandchild. Tofu and bean curd are avoided because the color white is symbolic of death and misfortune.

In addition to sweets, and other treats, children look forward to receiving two Lai See, lucky, red money envelopes from elders (this includes family friends). The reason the elder gives the child two instead of one is because happiness is said to come in two's and this has been the tradition of passing good fortune from one generation to the next. Unmarried guests are also given Lai Sees and business owners give them to employees and associates. Lai See is given with an even-numbered denomination of currency, determined by the second digit. For example, 32 as 22 is lucky. Odd numbered amounts are only given at funerals. And the number 4 should never appear in the number of the amount given because the word for four is similar in pronunciation to the word for death.

Homes and offices are adorned with colorful fresh-cut flowers such as azaleas, peony, plum, peach blossoms or water lily and other plants for luck, as well as their beauty.

On the first day of the New Year those who follow traditions strictly do not clean so that the good fortune is not swept away.

On the 15th day a Lantern Festival is Held.

Chinese New Year Celebrations in NYC

If you missed the firecracker celebrations yesterday don't worry there are more celebrations to come.

14th Annual Chinese Lunar New Year Parade, Flushing, Queens

Flushing also known as the other Chinatown or NYC's little Chinatown, though its populations is quite large will host a parade on Saturday, February 20th from 11AM to 1PM. My Dad and I like to meet at one of the many Chinese Bakeries along and just off of Main Street, to fuel ourselves up on pastries and coffee and the excitement of other parade goers.

For more information go to:

The 11th New Year Parade and Festival, Manhattan 
(Starting in Little Italy ending in Chinatown)

The parade begins in Little Italy on Mott Street and winds its way through Canal, Bowery and other streets ending on Grand Street at Sara Roosevelt Park on Canal and Forsyth St. The parade will be held Sunday, February 21st from 11:30AM to 4:00PM. For more information go to Make a day of the parade, starting with some Dim Sum before the parade begins, and taking a break in between for more good eats and treats and shopping.

Shen Yun Performing Art Group at Radio City Hall

Traditional Chinese Dance and Music.

Saturday, February 20th at 2:00PM & 7:00PM
Sunday, February 21st at 2:00PM

For more information go to:

2010 Year of the Tiger

There is nothing timid or predictable about a Tiger. It is big and bold yet moves with grace and great stealth. It sits tranquilly, yet yields to none in attack, triggering a polarity of emotions in man of fear and admiration.

The Chinese Zodiac consists of twelve animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig ) and five elements (metal, water, wood, fire and earth). The tiger's quick thinking and sharp actions are said come from the element of metal. 2010 is the year of the Metal Tiger.

Eye of the Metal Tiger


A pair of stainless steel tigers sculpted by Ruffin Hobbs flank the north entrance to Princeton's Stadium like door gods.

Years of the Metal Tiger:  
17 February 1950 - 5 February 1951
15 February 2010 - 2 February 2011

Water Tiger

 Photo by Robert Pollack

Initial reaction this photo "Awwh... it's so cute!" And, "Wow, what an amazing and powerful animal. Able to not only conquer earth but water too, if only we let its habitats be, if only we fought to protect its right like ours to exist. 
Years of the Water Tiger: 
8 February 1902 - 28 January 1903
5 February 1962 - 24 January 1963

Tigers Returning to the Woods 


Years of the Earth Tiger:
31 January 1938 - 18 February 1939
28 January 1998 - 15 February 1999

Tigers Under Fire of Extinction 


Indonesia (Sumatra)

Years of the Fire Tiger:
13 February 1926 - 1 February 1927
9 February 1986 - 28 January 1987

Tigers Gone from the Face of the Earth

South China Tiger has not been spotted for over 40 year in the wild! 

Years of the Earth Tiger:
31 January 1938 - 18 February 1939
28 January 1998 - 15 February 1999

Many efforts are underway from wildlife organizations and governments around the world to ensure the global population of lions double by the next year of the Tiger. There is still a long way to go and many still to come on board and act as guardians for these great beasts.

Have some fun: Techniques for making your eyes stand out like a Tiger's during the celebrations.

We have all heard Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," and remember how it set the tone for Rocky III. Here's a great anime short taking the theme from boxing to samurai sword play.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

NYRR: Run/Walk for Haiti February 20th, 2010

  Mark, Set and Go for Haiti
By Maureen Baraka Bonfante

With Rhythm and Sound,
Will pound pound pound.
Start to
W                E
A                 S
O - N - E
Great Piston of Brotherhood
Will Run and Walk for Haiti!

The New York Road Runners and The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation are co-sponsoring a four mile Run/Walk for Haiti on Saturday, February 20th, 2010 at 9AM, in Central Park. There will also be Kids' races at 10:30AM. The registration fee is $40 and 100% of the fees collected will go to New York City's Haiti Relief Fund, administered by the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. (Kid's Races- ages 2 to 12, Free entry).  

Update (2/19/10): On Race day you can register from 7:00AM to 8:30AM at the registration tent at Central Park). Kids registration will be from 9:00AM to 10:00AM).

This race counts as 2 qualifying races for the ING Marathon.


NYRR: Course est Marche Pour Haiti, 20 de Février 2010

 À Marquer, Prêter, Partir Pour Haiti
Pour Maureen Baraka Bonfante

POUR  L' A-M-O-U-R !
En rythme est dulce bruit,
Du début á
Ligne d'arrivée
N O          U S
 C O M M E,
Un Seul

Grande Piston de Confrérie,
Courrons, Marcherons pour Haiti!

New York Road Runners et New York City Department of Parks & Recreation sponsorisent un Course/Marche de 4 milles Samedi 20 de Février 2010 à 9 du matin, dans Central Park. Il y aura aussi Courses pour les Enfants à 10:30 du matin. Le droit d'entrée est $40 et 100% serait donne à New York City's Haiti Relief Fund q'est adminstre pour Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. (Courses pour les Enfants, 2 à 12 ans, est gratuit).

Mis à jour (2/19/10): Dans le jour de course on peut s'enregistre de 7:00 à 8:30 du matin au tente de enregistration dans Central Park et enregistrement pour les enfants serait de 9:00 à 10:00 du matin).

C'est course fera compte comme 2 courses qualifier pour ING Marathon.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV: When The Saints Coming Storming In They Beat The Colts 31-17

The Super Bowl! ¡El Super Tazón! 
By Maureen Baraka Bonfante

Jalpeños y

On November 1st, 1966, All Saints Day, New Orleans' Football team was admitted to the NFL and in commemoration of the day christened the "Saints." Given given their record one wouldn't think that they had many saints watching over them causing their fans like those of the Colt's to be sitting on the very edge of their seats. Jumping and Hollering at their HDTV's. 

Colts to Saints (10-0) 1st Qtr, (10-6) 2nd Qtr, (17-16) 3rd Qtr. The Colt's were cutting it close... And the Saints come storming in, scoring 15 touchdowns for the win! Maybe 44 was their lucky number or maybe the underdog Saints outperformed the favorite and showed when the going gets tough the Colts get going, down. Not a prayer could have saved them from the incredible defeat.

Besides the hoopla about the scores, the offensive and defensive moves, missed, successful and questionable passes the Superbowl is about its Halftime show and commercials.

My Fav Commercials

I switched between watching the game in Spanish and English but unfortunately could not find any of the Spanish commercials like Danone's to share.
Don't leave your keys lying around!

It's all in your reach. Just one click away!

Wild dream. Great music!

Look who's talking: Babies on trades!

Halftime Rocks with the Who!

Links of Interest

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Got a Quarter? New York City Apartment Dwellers' Weekly Challenge

New York City tenants have come a long way from the days of tenement living in the Lower East Side during the late 1800's and the birthing of all things modern we enjoy so much like having a toilet in your home with the turn of the 20th century. "Daaa-aad! Troy has been in the bathroom for 20 minutes and I'm gonna be late for school. (sigh)"  "Maria, Maria. Vamanos! Save some watar for d' rest 'o us, hija!"  "Feng, you got until the count of three. One... Two..."

If you fight over the use of your bathroom with your loved ones you can only imagine what it must have been like to share one with several neighbors and their broods. Maybe if they where smaller, people would get out of them quicker. I know you are probably thinking how much smaller could a New York City apartment's bathroom get. C'est ne pas possible! But Yes, it is possible as once upon a time they were like this.


These spaces were for one function only, the rest of your morning regime was taken care of via the multipurpose sink, in the living room-slash-kitchen-slash-washroom. There was was one knob for cold water, cold water and more, you guessed it, cold water.


And pets did not have the luxury of pets today in sharing our most precious of spaces. Did they even dare come inside? It was probably nicer outside for them anyway.

"Are you done with the toothpaste?" 
"Can you hand it to me please?"    
(The supposed master of the pet asks)

"I'm not done yet! Close the door!"    
(Answers the real King of the castle)

I have had the pleasure of living in boxes of different layouts and sizes in buildings and private homes in New York City most of my life and besides the lack of closet space complaint there is the L-A-U-N-D-R-Y. Few tenants have the luxury of having a dishwasher let alone a washer and dryer in their homes. This task is still one in which you must exit you box and commune with others in a space specially designated for the the spin washing, drying and folding of your delicates, linens and rough and tumble clothing. Even if you own your lovely box and have your own machines, chances are you still have to make make a trip and commune with your neighbors because they can't handle blankets.

Once upon a time the living room-slash-kitchen-slash washroom was also the slash-laundry room. The basin you used to shave and the dishes from breakfast did not sit long before being cleared. And once done the laundry was hung. Decorating every inch of available air space like streamers in bizarre celebration.

And so my fellow New Yorkers like many in urban areas throughout the world go on quest for change to feed the hungry machines so their clothes can come clean.

Quarters. Forget "Buddy, can you spare a dime." We need quarters and plenty. Before cell phones became the norm for everyone to carry, even seven-year old's, and debit cards replaced cash, for the most part, people carried purses just for change to feed the pay phones, buy newspapers, ride the buses, etc. You can't get change in most places in the city, unless you make a purchase and today a pack of gum costs a dollar. Good luck trying to break a five and getting 4 quarters in that mix of change for your Wrigley's Spearmint. There appears to be a change shortage in some parts of NYC or maybe it's just that merchants are fighting the same roll of quarter fees because some have taken to posting signs asking patrons for change. Meanwhile, laundromats have change machines for use by their patrons only! And unfortunately, I have not seen nor heard of any friends having change machines in laundry rooms in the buildings they reside because of theft and maintenance concerns.

It costs at least 3 dollars to wash and dry a small load of wash, so depending on the size of your brood or laundry sacks, you'll need 10 to 20 bucks worth of quarters and were do you go to get them? To the bank.

Banks. Once upon a time every week or two weeks you got a check in exchange for you labor. You endorsed said check and gave it to the teller at your bank for deposit. Thanks to advancements in technology, funds are transferred electronically and with the flexibility of paying bills on line, nowadays one rarely steps into a bank except to get cash from ATM machines, which do not dispense quarters. So you have to get on line (make that queue) and depending on the bank you go to your conversation will go something like this: Teller- "How can I help you today? (smile)" You- "I need a roll of quarters." Teller- "Do you have an account with us? (still smiling)" You- "No." Teller (no longer smiling)- "Well then, I'm sorry I can't give your quarters" or "We only offer this service to our customers. I'll do it for you this once, but next time I will have to charge you." If I needed a bank, I certainly wouldn't want to bank with one who was so inhospitable. It's just a roll of quarters for the laundry!!

Two Stupid Dogs had a hard time getting just one quarter to use a pay phone. What an odyssey they would have gone on if they had to get 10 or 20 bucks worth.

I don't endorse any financial institution but Citi is quintessentially NYC as apple pie and base ball  are to America. And no teller has yet to give me 'tude for 10 or 20 bucks worth of quarters. Citi Teller- "How can I help you today." Me- "I need one, no make that two rolls of quarters." Citi Teller- "Here you go will there be anything else I can assist you with today?" Me- "No, that's it. Thanks." Citi Teller- "Thanks and have a good day!" Sometimes they throw in "thanks for banking with Citi." I could be cynical and say, "Hey, we bailed them out didn't we? So, they have to be nice." But that has been the Citi way even before we the people backed them and the others.

Citi's new campaign: "Our Promise to New York"

"I promise," started the slogan on the tee that the teller helping me was wearing, "to reward you for banking with us!" I asked about the slogan when he returned with my quarters and was told that yes, he (meaning they- Citi) meant it. We'll see. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. 

Citi's towers grace the skylines of Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens, and its name crowns the facade of our Met's new stadium to the chagrin of many. There are almost as many Citi branches as there are Starbucks. But with quarters in hand my thoughts return to completing the remainder of the weekly challenge, communing with my neighbors at one of the many designated spaces for the spin washing, drying and folding of the L-A-U-N-D-R-Y.

Links of Interest

Tenement Museum
Tenement Museum Blog

New York City's landscape is changing forcing many to leave the city due to lack of affordable housing and demolition of public housing complexes.

New York City Plans to Topple Public Housing Towers
by Manny Fernandez
A modern day Murphy bed for studio apartment dweller's. 
Not cheap but a definite space saver.
 Keys to living artfully in one room by Susan Zevon
New York City Housing Authority
(Public Housing Application, Section 8 assistance, news, & more)
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