Why I’m Not Returning My Recalled Fitbit Force. Just Yet.


Since Fitbit recalled my Force, I’ve been really having a dilemma with myself over this watch. I want to initiate the recall and everything but I really do like the watch. It lasts for 10 days, stores multiple days of data without syncing, isn’t an overbearing size and its just a really pleasant design.

Currently the only thing that is making me want to send it back is the fact that I know I overpayed for this thing at Best Buy. I’d be able to use the money for the next Fitbit …if only it was released.

I contacted customer service at Fitbit and they told me I could return it at any time. So I suppose its just a waiting game until they release their next generation device. Further, there’s a potential update in the looms for the Force. Depending on how long the next generation takes to come to market depends on whether or not I keep it.

To anyone contemplating it: I’m in the same boat. And no. I’m not interested in taking the recall money to get a Gear Fit. It looks dumb as all hell in use.


Why Do NYC Businesses Neglect Their Kitchens and Sidewalks?


A long while ago, Humans of New York photographer Brandon Station posted this picture of a woman aggravated by a pressure cleaning company in the Financial District working at an hour where it least offends: The night.

Though this image has bugged me for a long while, it’s not Brandon’s fault. My family owns a pressure cleaning company that cleans commercial properties and businesses. Based on Long Island, the business has chain restaurant accounts scattered across the eastern coast, stretching all the way down to Virginia and up to Maine. While that’s all fine and dandy, the sad truth is, the closer you get to Manhattan, the less business we get.

That’s not so much of a problem for the company as it is New Yorkers; there are plenty of businesses that hold monthly accounts with us elsewhere. The problem, as I see it, is that NYC restaurant owners can’t dish out a few hundred dollars a month to keep their stores both looking nice and not to mention, clean. Maybe their profit margins don’t allow for it, or maybe it’s just not a concern for them.

That said, sidewalks aren’t even our main concern. It’s the kitchens that are.

I’ve seen kitchens that are cleaned every week and I still don’t wouldn’t eat there places after a day! Commercial kitchens can quickly become nightmares unless the staff is constantly hosing down the floors, picking up debris and minimizing grease spills. Even with regular maintenance, I cannot imagine what some kitchens look like when they have never been cleaned with pressure cleaners; especially in many high volume restaurants in the city.

Ironically, the strictest city in the tri-state area when it comes to sanitation ratings utilizes the company our least. We’ve never been called from a restaurant that got a “B” or lower rating hoping to clean the place up to get an “A.” Maybe we’re not marketing to the right people, or maybe New Yorkers just don’t care about whats below them.

Elsewhere, managers hire my family’s company because they actually care about how their customers perceive their stores; it’s a great way to draw customers (“Oh, this restaurant looks nice.”) On the flip side, city restaurants are likely to meet their minimum number of guests without having to worry about cleanliness because of density. If someones says “Ew, this restaurant looks nasty,” there will always be someone right behind him who doesn’t care to look down.


Insomnia Cookies Refuses to Deliver to Baruch, Hunter, LIM Residence Hall


Open until 3 AM, Insomnia Cookies makes an enormous profit off of college students who are struggling to stay up during the late hours of the night. Inspired by Seth Berkowitz, a student at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, the cookie giant has expanded to multiple cities across the nation.

However, the young entrepreneur seems to have excluded a crucial building while planning his Upper East Side location. With Hunter College, Baruch College, Marymount College and LIM College students all packed into one 19 story building, the hundreds of students who dorm at the 97th street residence hall are, sadly, exactly one block out of their delivery range.

When I asked students about their experiences ordering, many told me that they tried negotiating with the store manager, often asking if they could meet at the corner of 96th street. Each time they were declined.

When I reached out to the company for comments, they replied with an expected: “Please understand that if we extend the delivery range much further it will likely slow down all of our deliveries in that area.” I would like to mention that their outstanding delivery average is, according to their website, “30-45 minutes.” How much slower could it get? He went on to say that, “It will also impact our ability ensure our cookies are delivered warm to our customers.”

At $1.50 or more per cookie, there is no reason college students should also have to pay the price of taking 40 minutes of crucial study time for cookies. Further, by the time students reach the dorm, the cookies would be cold already; successfully defeating the purpose of getting cookies from a bakery and not the local supermarket. Strapped for options, students often turn to the local Domino’s as a late night alternative, trading sugar for grease.

In the end, the plead to change the delivery radius remains a firm no; leaving Insomnia Cookies inaccessible for dorming CUNY students.



In a Greening World, Smog No Longer Means Profit


Imagine that, as a business, you had to pay a service tax for every ecosystem you disrupted. In this hypothetical situation, all the money taken for this tax would be used to increase the productivity of the unsettled ecosystem, effectively creating a sustainable economic practice. While this seems like an awful burden for any business, our Earth provides innumerable amenities free of charge. From providing clean air to breathe to fertile soil for growing sustenance, high profit depends on high ecosystem productivity. But how much are these free services worth? Robert Costanza, an ecological economist, and his team tried to tackle this hypothetical, placing the number at around $33 trillion. That is roughly a third of today’s global Gross National Product (GNP).

As industrialized nations work to clean up their mess, China—the world’s biggest polluter—has only recently begun cleaning up its ecological nightmare. In terms of Air Quality Index (AQI), measured in parts per million, Chinese cities are permanently above what the World Health Organization considers healthy. In response, Chinese policymakers have finally created an initiative to reduce emissions. How bad did the AQI have to get before an initiative was created? This January, Beijing had a record-breaking AQI of 755. New York, by comparison, usually scores in the mid-to-upper 30s, a world of difference from Beijing’s 755.

Though China’s GNP is increasing, a study done by MIT found that air pollution cost the Chinese economy $112 billion in 2005 alone. Why? When smog—fog combined with smoke and other atmospheric pollutants—becomes too dangerous for public transportation to run, some major Chinese cities have to shut down, effectively halting factory work until the smog clears.

Not only do air pollutants in Chinese cities affect other regions in the country, easterly winds often blow higher atmospheric pollutants right across the Pacific Ocean to California. Commonly referred to as a commons, our atmosphere is shared by the rich, the poor, the powerful and the weak. What one country does to the air becomes a problem in another. So when China spews billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a global concern arises.

China is not the only country so heavily invested in coal. Surprisingly, universities all over the United States put their money into stocks of fossil fuel companies because they consider it a safe investment. However, a local CUNY program is trying to change the scene.

CUNY Divest is trying to persuade the CUNY Board of Trustees to halt all investments in fossil fuels permanently. Furthermore, the program is also working towards the complete withdrawal of the top 200 dirty investments, replacing a good number of them with renewable alternatives in the market as well as green infrastructure here at CUNY.

Whether it is the United Nations,, Greenpeace or any other activism campaign, no one seems to be able to convince most major corporations that green can also mean profit. Can a company actually profit from being green?

According to the World Wildlife Fund and the CDP, a company’s return on investment (ROI) after participating in green initiatives can reach up to 233 percent. This number is not fluff; there are plenty of examples of businesses that have reduced carbon emissions while also increasing profits. According to The Guardian, “DuPont, one of the early adopters, committed itself to a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the 10 years prior to 2010. By 2007, DuPont was saving $2.2 billion a year through energy efficiency, the same as its total declared profits that year.”

A study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund also found that, “79 percent of U.S. companies in the S&P 500 reporting to CDP earn more on average from investments aimed at reducing carbon emissions than on their overall capital expenditures.” How does a company actually reduce emissions? It’s the small stuff. The easiest way to save money while reducing carbon emissions is to invest in LED lighting, which uses 7 percent of the energy incandescent bulbs use.

Companies can also utilize what’s known as source reduction to reduce packaging, carbon emissions and shipping costs. Perhaps the most successful electronics companies in the world, Apple, is also a leading environmental producer. According to Apple, “The packaging for the iPhone 5 is 28 percent smaller than the packaging for the original iPhone shipped in 2007. That means that up to 60 percent more iPhone 5 boxes fit in each shipping pallet and fewer boats and planes are used.” Apple also uses a marketing trick to advertise its green practices to increase revenue. With a market cap of $415.7 billion, Apple makes it clear that being green certainly pays off.



American Nutella (sadly) is riddled wit GMO ingredients. My quest to find an alternative.

Because I grew up eating Nutella quite literally every single day, learning that the American version had GMO’s in it (among other unhealthy oils) broke my heart. Because the spread is such a huge part of my life, I plan on eventually buying an 11 pound jar of Nutella direct from Ferraro in Italy once my smaller imported jar is finished. No. I’m not kidding. You can get one here if your family is a devout too, here. (While you’re there, read some reviews! They’re fantastic.)

Anyway, learning this horror has brought me to trying some other spreads in the meantime. Below is a list of all the other spreads I’ve tried and my honest opinions of them. I hope you find this to be useful in finding healthy and tasty alternatives to a not so healthy snack. Remember. I’ve been a diehard Nutella fan since I was 2, so I’m going to start by saying that there is NO equal alternative. It’s true. The European one is not only Non-GMO, its actually nutritionally healthier than its American counterpart. The best of both worlds.


Key: Green means I plan to buy them again. Orange means that the taste was OK. Yellow means that they have questionable ingredients or origins. Red means it was horrible.

European Nutella [Middle] might not be the healthiest of all the choices, but I still cannot replace my childhood spread.

Barney Butter [Green bottle] tastes like peanut butter, to be honest. It’s really nice spread for a lunch sandwich with jelly. Not so great alone; though it isn’t bad! Just not something you could eat daily all by itself.

Barefoot & Chocolate Hazelnut Spread [Mmmm] by far was the best Nutella alternative. It tasted great and was GMO free. Ingredient wise, it pretty much across the board beats even the European Nutella. It has less sugar, fat, sodium; everything than Nutella did but I simply cannot give up Nutella just yet. Either way, this spread is something I will definitely buy again.

Brunette [Sold at Le Pain Quotidien] is actually a product I’m now greatly skeptical of. It tastes great. It has its own unique taste and it’s even edible on its own. However… There’s one ingredient that raises my brow: soy lecithin. Chances are, that’s GMO too. It even has a nice * to tell us that it’s not organic. I’d try it again if I could get the EU version.

“Imported” Hazelnut Spread [Pretend Italian Spread] from Gristedes is distributed by a company in New Jersey but an unknown company in Italy. That’s all I have to say about that. Assuming it’s actually from Italy and subsequently non GMO, it was a decent tasting spread. But that only raises my concerns.

Creamy Nuttzo [Colorful Upside Down Jar] was not bad. But it wasn’t good. It was one of those foods where you can eat it, but you’re not crazy over it. It’s certainly not sweet.

Justin’s Almond Butter [Packet] was eh. It wasn’t sweet and it was mildly good.

Rawtella [Not pictured because I refuse to buy it again] was absolutely horrendous when I tried it. In essence, it’s probably the most healthy of them all.

Now if I could only get my hands on this cookie spread.

google scary

Want to see where you’ve been for the past few years?

Unless you opted out of location history when you set up your phone,  your phone has been periodically tracking your location. Want to see for yourself?

On an iPhone with iOS 7, go to settings, privacy, location services, system services and click frequent locations. That’s it. You’ll be able to see a recent-limited view of the places you spend the most time at.

If you have an Android, you’re probably being tracked too. To see it on Androids, it’s just as easy but you’ll have to use a computer. You can see much farther back and you can see many more location plots than the iPhone users can – whether that’s bad or good is completely up to you.

google scary

First, go to this site: Do you see where you’ve been today? If so, congratulations! You’re being tracked dozens of times a day by Google! Click “Show 30 Days” if you want to see a much better range of places. That’s about it! It’s pretty simple to see where you’ve been across a whole month!

If you’re like me however, you want to see it all. All the location history Google has ever picked up about you. I figure, since they’re tracking me anyway, I might as well make a cool map of the places I’ve been out of it!

On the same page, right click “Export to KML” and copy the URL. Paste it into another tab and change the “starttime” number to something drastically lower. If you want more detailed instructions on this first step, click here. The original source suggests using Google Earth but when I did that, I was able to see only a certain limit of points and trails. I want to see ALL of them. But depending on the amount of points you have, you might be finished with this step! Just use the slider to extend the amount of time it shows.

For me, though, I had to follow a few more steps. First, I downloaded and installed Python from here. Then I downloaded this script from here. Lastly, download this file here. Open up a command prompt and type: “[Find Python on your computer by going to the C: drive and looking for a folder named pythonXY. Click it and drag python.exe into the window] [Drag the script from wherever you downloaded it into the window] [Now drag the last file you downloaded here] [Drag that same file again here and change the “json” to “kml”] Click enter and it should create a file in the same folder as where you downloaded the json file.

It should look something like this: “C:\Python33\python.exe C:\Users\James\Desktop\latitude-json-converter-master\ “C:\Users\James\Desktop\Location History\LocationHistory.json” C:\Users\James\Desktop\Location History\LocationHistory.kml”

Now fire up Google Drive. You’re almost done! Click here and follow the steps to get Fusion Tables into Drive.  You’re going to upload that converted file and wait until it finishes (Might be a few minutes depending on how many points you have) and that’s it! You’re done! Click “Map of Geometry” and you’ll see an insane number of points – You’ll notice how many points are centered around your work and home. Enjoy!

If I helped you at all with this guide, be sure to like this page on top of the site! And feel free to ask questions if you get stuck!

Update: If you want an easy way to see your location data without going through the above steps, click through to this site:



Salt Stick Deodorant. It Really Freakin’ Works.

“Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY, Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Dimethicone, Polyethylene, Steareth-100, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, BHT”

How many of those ingredients have you heard of?  Those are the ingredients of the deodorant I used up to the day my mom plopped one of these bad boys on the counter – simultaneously throwing out my normal deodorant.

Well have you ever heard of salt? It’s the only ingredient in this amazing product. It doesn’t stop you from sweating, but you wont smell.

But does it work? Yes. I’ve worn this stuff to present at competitions, the Bahamas, dates, graduation (For which, mind you, I was in a black robe in late June.) Hell, I even wore it to prom! This stuff works.

Sure, you have to rub the stuff profusely around your armpits. But who cares? I’d rather an extra 10 seconds putting on deodorant than aluminum bio-accumulating within my system.

I’d honestly write more if I needed to, but this review is simple. Your deodorant is horrible for you. This one isn’t. Yes. It works. That’s it.


LeftoverSwap – The most ironic food sharing system on the planet


There’s a new app on the market called LeftoverSwap that would, in theory, greatly help the homeless and hungry find food without begging. But there’s one little catch. You need an iPhone. If you’re truly homeless, I don’t suppose you’d have enough money to waste on a phone with a whole set of bells and whistles, but alas, people have differing priorities and I shan’t judge.

Regardless, here’s the link to the app for iPhone (not yet on Androids):


My Thoughts: The Tempest at Shakespeare in the Park


While educational standards are on the rise, Shakespeare is often still too daring for many to understand. Why? Often enough, the text of a play may seem intimidating even for versed readers because of the language structure and heavy vocabulary. This is why Shakespeare intended his plays to be admired at live performances. These performances would be laced with high humor for elitists and low humor jokes for laymen, respectively.
So when I say that the performance of The Tempest at Central Park was designed and preformed for all to enjoy, I truly mean it. For example, next to me sat a woman who presumably spoke no English and was wearing a SARS mask (Which by the won’t prevent the spread of disease by any means, no matter the good intentions) Though she understood nothing verbal, it was very apparent to me that she was enjoying the performance. Between the Mexican dancers, drumming group, senior dancers, singers, hip hop dancers and hundreds of other actors moving about the stage weaving inbetween lines of Shakespeare, who wouldnt be entertained?!

I give my sincere thanks to Public Works, and all the organizations that came together in such perfect harmony to put on such a performance.

(No worries guys, that photo wasn’t taken by me. Instagram.)