Tag Archives: New York City

Stay Safe … Tips from Peter Shankman


How To Avoid Being A Victim, Anywhere, Any time.
by Peter Shankman

I was born and raised in Manhattan. As such, I have a built-in situational awareness barometer that helps keep me safe. It’s a sixth sense that city-kids have. We just “know” when things aren’t right. If we listen to our gut, we can stay out of trouble almost 100% of the time.

However, I grew up in the 80s, when New York City didn’t have the same “Sex and the City” siren’s call that it has now. In the past ten years, I’ve seen more people come to NYC without a clue in their heads – Doing the most irresponsible stuff known to man (or woman.) Taking the subway home at 2am, drunk off their ass. Pulling out their $600 iPhone on the A train at midnight. Lost in their iPad, reading away, completely oblivious to their surroundings, and the dangers that exist.

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long, long time. If it helps one person, or prevents one mugging, (or something worse) it’s been totally worth it. I encourage you to Tweet it out, Facebook it, and pass it along to friends, family, and coworkers. There’s nothing worse than being a victim in a situation where you totally and completely didn’t have to. Sharing buttons are at the bottom for your convenience.

I want to thank Ty Francis (if you think a 6’1″ former head of security for some of Southampton’s toughest clubs doesn’t have any good safety tips, think again) as well as retired Law Enforcement Officer Clement Tang for their most valuable tips that have made this article as helpful as it is.

I’m breaking this article down into different sections, but know this – There’s not one section in here that can’t help you. Read it. Please. If we can prevent one more NY Post Headline that screams about how a young woman left a bar at 3am and wound up dead, we couldn’t ask for anything better from this article below.

General Safety Tips you should always follow, whether you live in a big city or a small town.

Don’t develop a pattern of behavior.

  • A pattern is what allows bad guys to plan an attack or ambush. It allows them to track your comings and goings. So they can plan when they can safely break into your apartment.
  • Vary the times you come and go.
  • Vary your routes to work, school, gym and coffeehouse
  • Ever notice that when President Obama goes for a run, or even travels anywhere, he never goes the same route twice? There’s a very logical reason for that. Patterns can get you in trouble. Don’t have them.

Know your surroundings

  • Beware of what is normal in your neighborhood…or anyplace you frequent.
  • Is that a new car on the street?
  • Have those guys always hung out on that corner?
  • Knowing what is normal allows you to notice the changes.  Noticing changes makes you more aware of potential dangers.  Those changes will cue you as to when something unexpected might be about to happen

We have a “gut” for a reason. 99.9% of the time, going against it is bad form.

The number one clue that something isn’t right will more than likely come from inside of you. Your gut – That “something doesn’t seem ok here” feeling you get in your stomach. Don’t ignore it! There’s a reason we have those feelings. They’re ingrained from primal instincts, from millions of years ago, when we’d turn around and find a Tyrannosaurus Rex walking behind us, sizing us up for lunch.  DO NOT IGNORE YOUR GUT. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Trust your gut. You have it for a reason.

Situational Awareness is your best friend. Not using it turns your surroundings into your worst enemy.

  • Yes, it’s fun to play Angry Birds on the subway. But don’t you think people are looking for those who are doing exactly that? If you’re busy throwing birds at pigs, or landing planes, or even reading a book on your device, the following things are happening:
  • You’re focused almost entirely on whatever you’re doing, and not on your surroundings.
  • You’re not holding onto your device with any level of strength – Rather, you’re just resting it on your hands. You can’t fling birds or turn pages if you’re grasping onto a device, so you don’t do it. Instead, you just rest it there, just waiting for someone to grab it and run off the train at the next open stop.
  • This isn’t limited to transportation. Using your phone while walking down the street is just as bad – It’s so easy for someone going the other way to focus on your device, grab it, and be in a running start while you’re still like “What the hell just happened?” The thief is already ten feet away and running by the time you turn around and even realize what’s going on. Good luck catching up and getting your device back.
  • In the end, I know we’re not going to stop using our devices in public places. That would defeat the entire purpose of the device. What we can do, though, is at least be more aware of our surroundings when we do it. Can we look up for a second after every level and just assess our situation? That’s not that hard to do.

Have your keys in your hands

Whether going to your car, work or apartment, have your keys in your hand before you approach the door. This allows you quicker access through the door and avoids the major distraction of fumbling for keys as you reach the door. An attack is most likely to occur when you stop at a door and try to find your keys.  Your head will be down and you will neither be looking around or listen for unusual sounds (like steps coming your way).  Attacking a victim at this time also has the advantage of gaining access to whatever you were about to enter. Also, being hit with a large set of keys can often discourage an attack and holding the keys between your fingers and punching someone with them can make them very unhappy.

Small things we should all do, but rarely do.

  • Wherever you are, a small powerful flashlight is one of the most important things you can have.  Even with something as innocent as a power outage, think of all the places you’ll be on any given day that have no outside windows to let in light…hallways, stairs, elevators.  A flashlight will always allow you to find your way to a safer place.
  • In that same vein, don’t fall into the movie plot setup of investigating noises in the dark…that is why you have a cell phone and know how to call 911 (or just walk away)
  • A whistle or other noisemaker is your friend. Attach a small whistle onto your keychain. There. Now it’s always there. Do NOT be afraid to use it to attract attention.
  • Instead of yelling “HELP” when something goes wrong, yell “FIRE!” People are more likely to respond to “Fire” than to “help.”

Have a buddy system

This doesn’t mean you always have to take a buddy when you go somewhere.  It means letting someone know when you are doing something different or going someplace you haven’t been before… Also, when you plan to return.  It doesn’t mean where to start looking for the body when you are kidnapped (although it does help), but it can be very useful if should you be stranded or injured in an area that doesn’t have cell coverage. You think it’s an exaggeration? Some very logical examples that could easily happen to you

  • You leave work late one night, and get stuck in the elevator, long after everyone else has gone home.
  • You fall asleep on the subway and wake up lost (or worse, in the yards. I’ve seen it happen.)
  • You get in a car wreck and skid off the road, down a 200 foot hill into a ravine, hidden from sight of the road.
  • You get sick. Your appendix bursts. You hit your head. You name it.

Know the people in your neighborhood. When I’m walking to the gym in the dark at 5am, there’s a homeless man on the corner of 46th Street. I bring him a cup of coffee each morning. In turn, he keeps an eye on me in the dark. It’s a good trade. Do you know the people in your neighborhood? Can you call for them if you’re running away from trouble?

Don’t look like a Victim

  • Victims of violent crimes like a mugging or robbery call attention to themselves by either being oblivious to their surroundings (defenseless) or by looking helpless (unable to defend themselves).
  • Walk down a street with your head up and looking around.  Don’t hug either side of the sidewalk…especially not the inside where you have to pass close to doorways. For God’s sake, don’t text and walk at the same time. You’re screaming out “ROB ME!”
  • Don’t stare (it can be taken as a challenge) but don’t be afraid to look at people (it isn’t an elevator).  You can nod or smile if you’d like, but beware of offering an unintended invitation.

At the end of the day, personal security and situational awareness comes down to not being clueless. I encourage you all to not be clueless.

Don’t be clueless

  • Yes, it is a wonderful new world out there to explore.  But try to pay attention to the unusual when out walking.
  • Has that person been behind you for a while?
  • Do they stop when you stop and continue when you do?
  • Do they look away when you turn to look at them?
  • The easiest thing to do is go into a public place, like a coffee shop or an eatery, and have a seat…if they stop too, you might consider calling 911 and have them check out your stalker.
  • The worst thing to do is continue on your way is it takes you to a less traveled area…if you can’t stop; take a longer but busier route.

I’d love to hear your tips, as well. Please post them in the comments below.

Stay sharp, stay aware, and stay safe, my friends.

a repost from 2012

In the Library ~ Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson ~ Women’s History Month


repost

Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring“, an early voice for our environment in 1962 

Silent Spring

 See why Carson’s analysis is more relevant now than ever.Buy Silent Spring at Amazon.com     

Rachel Carson, writer, scientist, and ecologist, grew up simply in the rural river town of Springdale, Pennsylvania. Her mother bequeathed to her a life-long love of nature and the living world that Rachel expressed first as a writer and later as a student of marine biology. Carson graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College) in 1929, studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and received her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932.

She was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to write radio scripts during the Depression and supplemented her income writing feature articles on natural history for the Baltimore Sun. She began a fifteen-year career in the federal service as a scientist and editor in 1936 and rose to become Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

She wrote pamphlets on conservation and natural resources and edited scientific articles, but in her free time turned her government research into lyric prose, first as an article “Undersea” (1937, for the Atlantic Monthly), and then in a book, Under the Sea-wind (1941). In 1952 she published her prize-winning study of the ocean, The Sea Around Us, which was followed by The Edge of the Sea in 1955. These books constituted a biography of the ocean and made Carson famous as a naturalist and science writer for the public. Carson resigned from government service in 1952 to devote herself to her writing.

She wrote several other articles designed to teach people about the wonder and beauty of the living world, including “Help Your Child to Wonder,” (1956) and “Our Ever-Changing Shore” (1957), and planned another book on the ecology of life. Embedded within all of Carson’s writing was the view that human beings were but one part of nature distinguished primarily by their power to alter it, in some cases irreversibly.

Disturbed by the profligate use of synthetic chemical pesticides after World War II, Carson reluctantly changed her focus in order to warn the public about the long term effects of misusing pesticides. In Silent Spring (1962) she challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world.

Carson was attacked by the chemical industry and some in government as an alarmist, but courageously spoke out to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before Congress in 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment. Rachel Carson died in 1964 after a long battle against breast cancer. Her witness for the beauty and integrity of life continues to inspire new generations to protect the living world and all its creatures.

On 1/31 ~ The House passes the 13th Amendment


Amendments 13-15 are called the Reconstruction Amendments both because they were the first enacted right after the Civil War and because all addressed questions related to the legal and political status of the African Americans.

On 1/31 in 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in America. The amendment read, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

When the Civil War began, President Abraham Lincoln’s professed goal was the restoration of the Union. But early in the war, the Union began keeping escaped slaves rather than returning them to their owners, so slavery essentially ended wherever the Union army was victorious.

In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in areas that were still in rebellion against the Union. This measure opened the issue of what to do about slavery in border states that had not seceded or in areas that had been captured by the Union before the proclamation.

In 1864, an amendment abolishing slavery passed the U.S. Senate but died in the House as Democrats rallied in the name of states’ rights. The election of 1864 brought Lincoln back to the White House along with significant Republican majorities in both houses, so it appeared the amendment was headed for passage when the new Congress convened in March 1865. Lincoln preferred that the amendment receive bipartisan support–some Democrats indicated support for the measure, but many still resisted.

The amendment passed 119 to 56, seven votes above the necessary two-thirds majority. Several Democrats abstained, but the 13th Amendment was sent to the states for ratification, which came in December 1865. With the passage of the amendment, the institution that had indelibly shaped American history was eradicated

Amendments 13-15 are called the Reconstruction Amendments both because they were the first enacted right after the Civil War and because all addressed questions related to the legal and political status of the African Americans.

blackpast.org

Foods … they say are good for our skin


READ: 10 Foods That Can Help You Get Amazing Skin

Some skin experts, like New York City-based facialist Joanna Vargas, are incorporating them into treatments to help repair the damage caused by the sun and pollution. And even if your budget doesn’t call for a spa day, you can still enjoy these benefits at home.

READ: Can Chocolate Give You Youthful Skin?

To find out how we can detox this autumn for glowing, healthy looking skin, we investigated some of the best foods to eat this season and how they can be the post-summer treatment you need right now:

(Thinkstock)

Pumpkin
Pumpkins

Dr. Stafford Broumand, associate clinical professor of plastic surgery at New York‘s Mount Sinai Medical Center, highly recommends pumpkin for your best skin ever. “Pumpkin has a high content of vitamin A and retinol is a derivative of vitamin A,” says Broumand. “Using this ingredient in its natural form delivers great benefits, such as exfoliation, repairing sun damage, post pigmentation, as well as improving texture and tone.” Create a face mask with pureed pumpkin, organic honey, a hint of lemon juice, and vitamin E oil for soothing results.

(Thinkstock)



YAM MANIAYams

“Yams contain a compound called diosgenin, which is a natural plant-derived steroid that is thought to have both anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-aging properties,” explains Dr. Julia Tzu, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University. “In some laboratory studies, it has been found to increase cellular collagen production.”

Beet It
Beet It (Photo credit: B.D.’s world)

(Thinkstock)

This root vegetable, which is at its most tender until October, features fiber, keeping you feeling fuller, longer. They may also be the secret to getting your glow on this fall. “Beets reverse dull skin by stimulating the lymphatic system, removing waste from our cells,” says Dr. Jayson Calton. “Beets can also brighten your skin because they increase the oxygen-carrying ability in the blood, adding brightness to the skin.” Calton recommends savoring beet juice or a roasted beet salad this season.

(Thinkstock)

Cranberries
Cranberries (Photo credit: oschene)

Cranberries

Forget the canned versions. The tangy berry is best savored alone, especially if you’re looking to give your dull skin a much-needed boost. “I like cranberry for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Plus, they are rich in nutrients,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. If snacking on bitter berries aren’t your thing, consider looking for skincare products that feature cranberry.

(Thinkstock)

Pomegranate
Pomegranate Fruits. Español: Una granada, frut...
Pomegranate Fruits. Español: Una granada, fruto del granado (Punica granatum). Eesti: Granaatõun. Français : La grenade, fruit du grenadier. Русский: Плод граната. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This fruit will improve your skin smoothness, elasticity, and overall look,” says health coach Lori Shemek. “Pomegranates can also help reduce acne, sun damage, and fine lines with its powerful antioxidants, which also reduces skin inflammation.” Add them to nearly any dish for an flavorful meal.

(Thinkstock)

Apples
English: Apples on an apple-tree. Ukraine. Рус...
English: Apples on an apple-tree. Ukraine. Русский: Яблоня со спелыми плодами. Украина. Latina: Malus domestica (Borkh., 1803) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Apples contain many bioactive compounds, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” explains Tzu. “Studies have even demonstrated anti-cancer properties of apples, including those of the skin.” Go apple picking this autumn for a fun workout and enjoy the fruits of your labor all season long.

(Thinkstock)

Carrots Julienne.

As with other seasonal foods, carrots feature beta-carotene, which can help protect skin against damage caused by wrinkle-causing ultraviolet rays. “Make a mask out of carrots to help alleviate blackheads and dark spots,” suggests Calton. “Simply boil carrots until soft and then mash. Add in honey, olive oil, and lemon. Leave on the face for about 15 minutes and rise. It’s also great for wrinkles.”

(Thinkstock)

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts contain high levels of collagen boosting vitamin C,” says Shemek. “Eating this cruciferous veggie can not only give you skin that has better elasticity, but skin that feels younger and more youthful looking.” If the idea of eating these mini greens makes you uneasy, take note that the way you prepare them determines how tasty they will be.

(Thinkstock)

Plums hanging
Plums hanging (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plums

“Plum mixed with yogurt and honey in a mask will improve elasticity and correct any sun damage that we’ve suffered from summer,” Vargas says.

(Thinkstock)

Pears_1Pears

“Pears are full of fiber and that means a slower release of sugar into the blood,” says Shemek. “Sugar means wrinkles and sagging skin. Pears are also high in vitamin C, which is a critical nutrient for collagen growth necessary for wrinkle-free, firm skin.”

On this Day … 8/15 ~~ Woodstock


The Woodstock festival opens in Bethel, New York

On this day in 1969, the Woodstock Music Festival opens on a patch of farmland in White Lake, a hamlet in the upstate New York town of Bethel.

Promoters John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang originally envisioned the festival as a way to raise funds to build a recording studio and rock-and-roll retreat near the town of Woodstock, New York. The longtime artists’ colony was already a home base for Bob Dylan and other musicians. Despite their relative inexperience, the young promoters managed to sign a roster of top acts, including the Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival and many more. Plans for the festival were on the verge of foundering, however, after both Woodstock and the nearby town of Wallkill denied permission to hold the event. Dairy farmer Max Yasgur came to the rescue at the last minute, giving the promoters access to his 600 acres of land in Bethel, some 50 miles from Woodstock.

Early estimates of attendance increased from 50,000 to around 200,000, but by the time the gates opened on Friday, August 15, more than 400,000 people were clamoring to get in. Those without tickets simply walked through gaps in the fences, and the organizers were eventually forced to make the event free of charge. Folk singer and guitarist Richie Havens kicked off the event with a long set, and Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie also performed on Friday night.

Somewhat improbably, the chaotic gathering of half a million young “hippies” lived up to its billing of “Three Days of Peace and Music.” There were surprisingly few incidents of violence on the overcrowded grounds, and a number of musicians performed songs expressing their opposition to the Vietnam War.

Among the many great moments at the Woodstock Music Festival were career-making performances by up-and-coming acts like Santana, Joe Cocker and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; the Who’s early-morning set featuring songs from their classic rock opera “Tommy”; and the closing set by Hendrix, which climaxed with an improvised solo guitar performance of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Though Woodstock had left its promoters nearly bankrupt, their ownership of the film and recording rights more than compensated for the losses after the release of a hit documentary film in 1970. Later music festivals inspired by Woodstock’s success failed to live up to its standard, and the festival still stands for many as a example of America’s 1960s youth counterculture at its best.