The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Keep cooly cool, boy…

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 sorry for a youtube video, just can’t resist

Inclement weather in Astoria by you.

Astoria -Dec. 19, 2008-
30 degrees farenheit with 26 mph winds and 30 mph gusts, fog, .66 inches of rain and 4.4 inches of snow
– photo by Mitch Waxman 

Newtown Pentacle headquarters, nestled in the torrid bosom of Astoria, positively swelters in the heat of a New York summer that seems to have finally arrived.

The streets outside teem with all the variegated shapes and sounds of mankind, and a tense mood can be sampled from the neighborhood gossips. Such annoyance and lamentation of the sort of extreme weather shifts that are so common to the New York area amongst my fellow citizenry puzzles me -

But those redoubtable stewards of the public good found at the City of New York’s Office of Emergency Management have posted the following remonstrations and timely advice:

from nyc.gov

The Heat Is On
The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures above 90 degrees this week. OEM reminds New Yorkers to take steps to stay cool:

  • If you do not have an air conditioner, consider going to a public pool, air-conditioned store, mall, movie theater, library during the hottest part of the day.
  • Drink fluids, particularly water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or high amounts of sugar.
  • Cool showers or baths may be helpful, but avoid extreme temperature changes as they can cause nausea or dizziness.
  • Check on your neighbors, family, and friends, especially if they are seniors, young children, or people with special needs. 

Snowstorm at Night 03 by you.

Astoria -Jan. 10, 2009 -
24 degrees farenheit with 18 mph winds and 22 mph gusts, fog, rain and 1.4 inches of snow
-photo by Mitch Waxman
 

Thanks to the turbulent skies of June and July- and the accompanying cooling effects of cloud cover, I have been spared the expense and infernal noise of an air conditioner in the little room I use as an office, here at the omphalos of my little world that “Our Lady of the Pentacle” and I maintain in a historic building. I fear that I must once again reach into my threadbare pockets and scrounge enough coin for the electronics salesman. My hope was that I might make it through the summer heat, just like we did during the Astoria Blackout of 2006.

Also from the OEM:

During the summer months, New Yorkers are especially vulnerable to heat-related hazards. On warm summer days, the city can be as much as 10 degrees warmer than its surrounding areas. The city’s infrastructure — largely made up of asphalt, concrete and metal — traps the heat. This is known as the “urban heat island” effect.

Heat waves are particularly dangerous for children, seniors, people with cardiovascular disease, and people taking psychotropic and other medications. In July and August of 2006, extreme heat waves gripped New York City, claiming 46 lives and disrupting power throughout pockets of the city. In France, a blistering heat wave in August 2003 left an estimated 15,000 dead, many of whom were seniors. In July 1995, a two-week long Chicago heat wave — which saw the heat index peak at 119°F — claimed 465 lives. More than half of the victims were 75 or older. According to the Centers for Disease Control, social isolation and the inability to care for oneself put a person at greater risk for heat-related illness.

A heat wave’s duration plays an important role in how people are affected. Studies show that a significant rise in heat-related illnesses occurs when excessive heat lasts for more than two days. Spending even two hours per day in air-conditioned spaces can significantly reduce the number of heat-related illnesses.

Tracks by you.

LIC -Jan. 18, 2009 -
22 degrees farenheit with 15mph winds, fog, and 2.5 inches of snow
-photo by Mitch Waxman 

For a period of 14 days in 2006, Consolidated Edison lost control of their electrical grid in Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, and Long Island City. Riker’s Island had to engage its emergency generators.

On July 17th, the temperature at LaGuardia airport hit a high of 98 degrees farenheit with humidity at an uncomfortable 62 percent- it was 77 degrees at night. The weird thing was that our power was”on”, but browned out. We had one light in the entire apartment, in a darkened building. The entire block’s porch lanterns were ebbing on and off, and there were no street lights or traffic signals. Fire Engines roared back and forth across the area, as underground switches and cables ignited spontaneously. Subway service was knocked out as well. Here’s what NYTimes had to say.

Abandoned mill by you.

LIC, Newtown Creek -Jan. 24, 2009 -
18 degrees farenheit with 26 mph winds and 33 mph gusts
-photo by Mitch Waxman

In front of St. Joe’s on 31st avenue (which is, incidentally, just across the street from the modern day Karate studio that once served as set piece for “Sonny’s Bar” in the Robert Deniro/Chazz Palminteri movie “A Bronx Tale) a car parked over an electrical access hole was set alight when its underground works immolated and consequently exploded. On 46th street, between 34th and Broadway a pyrotechnic show was observed from a series of manholes, and a queer jiggling movement was detectable in the overhead wires that carry the current into the neat rows of picture perfect homes that epitomize this part of the Newtown Pentacle.

Here’s what ConEd was forced into doing.

from Flatiron's shadow by you.

Manhattan -Mar. 2, 2009 -
18 degrees farenheit with 35 mph winds, fog, and 5.2 inches of snow
-photo by Mitch Waxman

Atypically, for the duration of the 2006 outage, my preoccupation was getting to my air conditioned Manhattan office early and then staying late. Special joy was had in a refrigerated room which held an eccentric and overly complex mechanism for producing “press proofs” and its accompanying bank of always malfunctioning servers, producers of volcanic heat which could only operate in a room whose temperatures were 60 degrees farenheit or lower. The room had a tile floor and I would just lay down on it, allowing my body heat to dissipate as if into the fine marble of a tomb, that week in July of 2006.

bonus- here’s a little comic short I drew during the astoria blackout of 2006.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 11, 2009 at 2:53 am

Posted in newtown creek

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