Walk Like Your Life Depends on It

A bloggers holiday for me this week. Hurricane Sandy canceled life. Not that I’ve been inconvenienced in the least little bit up here in the “Heights.” Okay, my beloved Prospect Park and Brooklyn Botanic Garden are closed and my ride is busted for the foreseeable future. You may recall from past blogs (If You See Something, Say Something, Three Degrees of Separation from “Snackman” and Heineken Takes Over the NYC MTA) that I ride the New York City subway. Now, for me, the subway goes in one direction, East. To get to Manhattan, I can either wait in an insanely long line to catch a shuttle bus across the bridge or walk or ride my bike. Thank God I’m in shape.

insane line

Walking, Walking

The other day, my daughter and I walked to Dumbo to see the destruction (not bad). The walk was three miles there and three miles back. Whoops! I wore the wrong shoes. To get to Manhattan from my apartment, it is four miles to the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, and then it’s another three miles up to 34th street where the power works.

I have read that the average American walks only 350 yards a day, which is around 1/5th of a mile. That a total of 1.4 miles a week. Pretty useless, don’t you think?  I have not seen it written, but I believe it makes sense for everyone, except for the most infirmed, to be able to walk at least ten (that’s 10) miles a day. You don’t have to feel great at the end, but you should be able to do it. And so, if you can’t walk a distance, then start with this 10K (6.2 mile) Walk Training Schedule for Beginners from the Guide to Walking at About.com. You never know when your life might depend on it.

Your thoughts: Can you walk a 10K?

Building A Better Sidewalk

Subway grates and sidewalk beds

Recently in Scientific American, Better Sidewalks Could Bring Improved Public Health:
A new report recommends 43 public health changes that can make big improvements in overcoming preventable diseases. “To arrive at their recommendations, researchers reviewed more than a thousand studies of public health. Their findings are in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation. [Dariush Mozaffarian et al., Population Approaches to Improve Diet, Physical Activity and Smoking Habits.]  Some surprisingly simple suggestions could be easiest to institute. (For instance) try improving sidewalks and visual appeal of neighborhoods to make people want to walk, bike, or run more often.”

Around the corner from my Brooklyn apartment, policy makers have put the sidewalk recommendation into action. For quite awhile now, like maybe two years, the NYC Department of Design and Construction have been working on the Eastern Parkway Reconstruction Project from Washington Avenue at the Brooklyn Museum to Grand Army Plaza. They installed water mains and sewer replacements and now they are finishing up the pavement, curbs, sidewalks, bike path, catch basins, pedestrian ramps, green spaces, street lighting, and traffic signals. The job is nearly finished.

And so, this is a public health project in action, a benefit of city living, not so “surprisingly simple,” but easier than beating down each individual to change. I, for one, need no encouragement to use the sidewalks and bike path.

Your thoughts: Does your town have good sidewalks?

Little Green Algae Saves the Day

Truth be told, it’s going outside that gets me to exercise at all. I’m dependent on the beauty of nature. The gym is not for me. On most days, I walk outside in the gardens and parks and on the sidewalks because I don’t own a car. I made a Prospect Park Pinterest page to post some of the photos I take in Brooklyn’s Botanic Garden and Prospect Park with my crappy phone. This week I am gaga about the pond scum – algae – growing on the water in the ancient artificial pond in The Vale of Cashmere. The Vale is aptly described as “a strangely forsaken forest idyll in Prospect Park” in this photo essay. The lush formal garden is sunk into a glacial kettle where the wildlife live and play.

I ♥ Pond Scum

Pond scum – algae – are as much animal as plant. They contain chlorophyll and other plant pigments, but they don’t have stems, roots, or leaves. They have a true nucleus (plant cells do not) enclosed in a cell membrane with lots of DNA functions going on inside.

Someday, algae could save the world. Scientists are growing algae that convert sugars into hydrocarbon fuel to replace oil, plus algae can convert sugars into fat that, compared to traditional fats, has a healthier nutrient composition, a smooth mouth-feel and a rich taste that makes it perfect for baked goods. This new, sustainable fat works as a partial substitute for butter, eggs and even meat and growing it takes up so little space. We already eat algae as carrageenan, Irish moss seaweed, in ice cream, soy milk, and beer. Craig Venter, algae geneticist and entrepreneur, tells Scientific American, “Algae is a farming problem: growing, harvesting, extracting. It’s a work in progress, and we’re working hard.”

Pond scum saves the world! How great is that?

Your thoughts: Are you an algae fan?

A Food Truck Rally in Brooklyn

Many major cites have a Food Truck Rally, where a pack of ethnic kitchens on wheels circle, wagon train-style, in a public place at a designated day and time. There is no entry fee, the food is delicious and the price is beyond reasonable.

This was today’s Food Truck Rally in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza at Prospect Park, not half a mile from my apartment. It was the first rally of the season and seventeen food trucks participated: CoolHaus, Eddie’s Pizza Truck, Kelvin Natural Slush Co., Kimchi Taco, Milk Truck, Red Hook Lobster Truck, Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, Vanleeuwen Ice Cream, Big D’s Grub, Cupcake Crew, Frites n Meats, Gorilla Cheese, Mexicue, Pera Turkish Tacos, Valducci’s Original Pizza, and Wafels & Dinges.

From what I could see, the lines were longest at Kelvin Natural Slush Co., VanLeeuwen Ice Cream and  CoolHaus (ice cream.) The air temperature was hot.  But for food, Kimchi Taco had the longest line by far, although every truck had great food. I wish I could have tried it all. The Prospect Park Food Truck Rally will take place on the third Sunday of every month through October. Today was special because the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Here are my photos. Enjoy!

Your thoughts: What do you think of the Food Truck Rally?

October Snow in Prospect Park

I’ve been told many times, “I could never live in New York City always being surrounded by people.”  They don’t believe it’s possible to enjoy nature in (relative) seclusion here. But, to prove it, I took pictures in Prospect Park yesterday after the snow storm. My route was Grand Army Plaza to Long Meadow, the Ravine, and then across and out by the Bandshell at 9th Street and Prospect Park West. The leaves on the trees survived well and the air smelled so sweet. (I took the photos with an iPhone 3G, I say with some embarrassment. Oh well, I’m not a material girl.)