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Bergen County Blue Laws: Make Them Permanent

These past two Sundays, you’ve been able to shop in New Jersey. This includes Paramus, despite additional town bans on Sunday shopping. They tried to fight the temporary lifting of the blue laws, but were denied.  Kudos to County Executive Kathleen A. Donovan for requesting the lifting of the ban, Governor Christie for agreeing and for being a supporter of businesses open on Sunday, and for Judge Menelaos Toskos for denying Paramus’ aim to appeal it.


Now it’s time to make it permanent. There is some evidence that Christie has wanted to do so, and the number $65 million has been floated as additional sales tax revenue. In addition to the tax revenue is the work hours required to man shops on Sunday. With the economy and unemployment rates what they are, this would be a much needed boon.


The country is moving forward, and it’s time for anti-capitalist laws like the Bergen County blue laws to be repealed permanently. It only hurts local businesses, as in the 21st century shopping is not difficult. People can purchase pretty much anything online, or drive outside of the county to a different one, or to New York. This means extra unnecessary driving which is bad for the environment, bad for people that want to run a quick errand and bad in times of gas shortages. It means less revenue for New Jersey as a whole, and I could see where if the state and county made more money, tax-hikes could be avoided. It does create less traffic in Paramus and major routes through the county on Sunday, but that’s not much boon to travelers who have nowhere to go with everything closed. It also worsens crowds on Saturdays, when everyone that needs to shop is forced to do so. Supermarkets and other essential businesses that are allowed to open on Sundays are more crowded because shoppers do what they have to Saturday, leaving what they can do Sunday for Sunday. Opening businesses would create more total shoppers and cars and travelers, but it would spread it out over a longer period and across more shop as well.  It’s also unfair to residents who work Monday through Friday and follow the Jewish Sabbath on Saturdays.


I do feel for residents that live right next to the malls and busy shopping areas, but if you were really looking for a peaceful area one day a week isn’t doing it for you. It’s time to stop getting in the way of businesses and their freedom to operate in this county.



November 12th, 2012 by Ceetar in garden state, life, new jersey, new york, travel
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Fair Lawn Promenade Needs a Brewpub

Fair Lawn is getting something called the Fair Lawn Promenade along route 208.  This is right next to the gym, so I noticed recently when they started leveling out the ground and clearing the weeds.  It’s been empty lots for a long time.


The Fair Lawn Planning Board has approved the application for the “Fair Lawn Promenade,” a proposed mixed-use village on the Route 208 Northbound site of the former Kodak property.


My first thought: It needs a brewpub.   The signs mention retail and dining, so why not?  It profiles as a “upscale town center environment” and given the inclusion of some affordable two-bedroom apartments, it stands to reason that it will promote people just like me.  By that I mean couples in-between owning a house and graduating from college.  In my experience this is a demographic that appreciates real beer and would enjoy being able to get locally brewed beer a stone’s throw from home.


So why not a brewpub, preferably one with a beer garden, for us to enjoy?  There are already a bunch of apartments within walking distance, which is where I live, so it’d be a great place for a happy hour or watching a game.  It would create that nice city benefit of living within walking distance of a cool bar or restaurant while still living in the suburbs.


I saw brewpub even though a typical sports bar with a good beer selection would probably work too.  This particular area could use a microbrewery serving good food, because to my knowledge there isn’t one anywhere nearby.  Building from scratch could provide the ability to factor in a nice beer garden too, with long benches and trees.


Certainly if I had the capital to start up a business, I’d be all over this.

May 11th, 2012 by Ceetar in Beer, Breweries, dinner, Food, new jersey
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‘Upstate’ Noun May Be Confusing

I grew up on Long Island.  We often refer to Upstate when talking about anywhere from Buffalo to Plattsburg and in-between.  The southern border varies, as many people don’t consider the counties just north of the Bronx as Upstate.  Geographically, just about every location in New York is upstate from where I grew up on the south shore of Long Island.


I still use the term, but just recently it dawned on me that it’s not quite clear now that I live in New Jersey, and in the north part of the state at that.  Much like referring to Manhattan as “The City” can be confusing depending on location and context, referring to “Upstate” when you’re less than 10 miles from the northern border of your state doesn’t make a lot of sense.  For the first time when referring to the Finger Lakes area of New York, I had to use the phrase “Upstate New York” to clarify.  I was referring to the herd of white deer I used to see occasionally off route 96 between Seneca and Cayuga lake when travelling between Ithaca and Buffalo.


Do people in South Jersey ever refer to the northern parts of the state as Upstate?

March 6th, 2012 by Ceetar in long island, new jersey, new york
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Transitioning From Beer Douche to Beer Geek

You know the type.  That guy who is somewhat new to craft beer, and always is talking about it.  He asks the waiter “What microbrews due you have?” and often orders the trendiest one.   He (or she) berates your choice of beverage, and seems to bask in the superiority of having ‘discovered’ beer.


The problem is; he doesn’t really like it.  He thinks he’s supposed to like an IPA so he drinks it, but his palate isn’t used to the bitterness.  He’ll hear about some new super double IPA and have to have it, not prepared for the intense taste.  This guy actually is a disservice to beer, as anyone that is trying to follow him into the world of beer may be turned off by the intense flavors.   Real beer is not about intensity, it’s about flavor.   There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good wheat beer, or a simple pilsner that’s well crafted.  Just like some people will never enjoy 100,000 scoville unit hot wings, some people will never enjoy 100 IBU beers.


That’s the transition stage from beer douche to beer geek.  But It’s also a good way to figure out what you like.  Some people rave about Imperial Stouts.  I tend not to like them too much so I don’t order them, even if they’re somewhat trendy.  IPAs are acquired tastes, and many people don’t want that much bitterness in their beer.


Another problem is that there are a lot of mediocre breweries out there.  They’re usually still better than the Bud stuff, but just because a beer is micro doesn’t mean it’s good.  So as someone breaking into beer (and I can see it being pretty daunting these days) just trying new things, it’s easy to find stuff that’s not very pleasant.  But as you learn what’s delicious, both in general and to yourself, it’s a world of difference.   Sixpoint, Troegs, Brooklyn, and Flying Fish are some of the breweries I trust to make high quality beer ‘around’ NYC.

November 2nd, 2011 by Ceetar in Beer, Breweries, new jersey, new york, Uncategorized
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My Internal Google Map

HaledonI spent 26 years on Long Island but the last three in New Jersey.  Someone mentioned Smithtown to me recently and I immediately knew it was on Long Island, but I was drawing a blank as to exactly where on the island.  My internal Google map and sense of direction has faded without regular use.


The problem is my body hasn’t downloaded the New Jersey versions yet.  I’ve started to get a feel for the roads and areas I travel on regularly, but the ways to get from here to there, or where a town I’ve never been to like East Hanover is, still elude me.


While driving around Long Island, if I encountered traffic on the Meadowbrook Parkway I might know where to get off and how to get around it, or cut over to the Wantagh Parkway.   If I’m stuck on route 4 in New Jersey, a road I travel pretty regularly, I’m still sketchy on how best to bypass it.  A couple of weeks ago I tried to get off and head south towards 46/80 knowing that it would lead me to the same George Washington Bridge that I wanted to cross, but I ended up getting crossed up and it took me longer than it would’ve to just sit in the traffic.


I suspect that in time I’ll learn more as I live here longer, but I’ve crossed the threshhold where I can say “Hey, I just moved here give me a break!” when I don’t know where Haledon is even though it lies directly between the town I live in and the town I work in.

July 7th, 2011 by Ceetar in garden state, long island, new jersey, new york
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O Christmas Tree

I bought my first Christmas tree on my own, and my first in New Jersey.  I’ve participated in this process many times on Long Island, and found it soundly different.  In most places I would go to, you’d be faced with piles of trees lumped together against walls and barricades, and you’d slowly sift through them, pulling out trees and holding t

hem up to see if they looked nice. I’d do things like rotate the tree, and lift it up and drop it on it’s trunk to see if the bristles held up, or were dry and fell off. 


In all the places in Bergen County that I looked at, except for Home Depot which was a disaster, they had the trees all set up on spokes so that they looked like trees.  This was nice; it was easier to notice things like gaps in the branches, and dead areas. The trees themselves, at least where we got one, were also trimmed to fit the typical Christmas tree shape.  My tree this year is easily one of my favorite trees I’ve had. 

December 23rd, 2008 by Ceetar in christmas, long island, new jersey
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Gassing Up in New Jersey

Gas! How could you not love gas prices in New Jersey?  It’s on an average 25-30 cents cheaper here than it is back on Long Island.  Closer to 40 if you go a little further south or buy no-name gas.  This isn’t really a big deal of course, it adds up to a couple of bucks a month, but hardly life-changing.  
A bigger difference is that in New Jersey, they don’t trust you to touch the gas pumps.  The first time I filled up as a resident I went to go get out of the car and was initally confused why the attendent was talking to me.  Then I had a “Oh right, this is Jersey” moment and got back in the car.  It’s nice sometimes, particularly when it’s freezing out, but I really prefer to pump my own gas, not have to wait around on the attendent to come and go, and just be my general anti-social self.  Oh well.
It seems gas is going down in price again.  This is obviously good, I’m surprised it’s ever gotten as low as it has now.  Personally, since gas prices are based on speculation or whatever, I don’t know how they ever let it get this low, but that they did I’m glad.  Will it go down further? Only time will tell…however, if it shoots back up again come summer, it’s just going to hurt that much more.
November 21st, 2008 by Ceetar in new jersey
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Election Process

Voting is the same in New York and New Jersey for me.  Basically, both states are strongly democrat, and my vote didn’t really matter.  I’m happy with the outcome of the election, but the process still leaves much to be desired.


For one, I don’t understand why Election Day wasn’t Super Tuesday.  Let us all go in, and pick from at least the 6-7 legitimate candidates running around at the time.  This isn’t a tournament bracket where you slowly eliminate people until it’s only two. 


My biggest issue is with the process.  Why are any states still using scantron style sheets?  New York, at least on Long Island, usually votes with levers.  In New Jersey, there were buttons to push that lit up little green x’s, and then we pressed the vote button and the machine reset.  If I can get through the massive lines at Starbucks in Penn Station and place a complicated drink order while securely transferring information (money in this case, but could be a encrypted vote packet) digitally to a bank after authenticating my account through a swipe of a piece of plastic, why can’t I vote that way?

November 7th, 2008 by Ceetar in new jersey, new york
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It’s just quieter here.  Sure, Long Island is certainly not loud, but people still have more of a city attitude to them.  At least in Nassau County.  The majority of Long Islanders have been to Manhattan, even frequently, and have a more fast-paced, upbeat frame of mind.  Things are expected to be open late, to be available.  We know where the good restaurants are, and there are a lot of reviews and information.  
Here in Jersey, it’s not so easy.  Things tend to close earlier, and certain parts of Bergen County close completely on Sunday. Beyond the rediculousness of closing down entire malls on Sundays, it’s not as easy to run out and get something at 9pm at night.  Bagel stores close early, and I have yet to find one that’s open 24 hours like good old A&S on Long Island.  (I just found one now, but haven’t had a chance to check it out) Normal stores and restaurants seem to wind down earlier here too.  There are still things going on late, but it’s they’re fewer and far between.
There are less street lights, less cars on the road, particularly at night, and just less people in general.  Maybe I’m just not going to the right places.
October 31st, 2008 by Ceetar in bagels, long island, new jersey
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New Jersey Giants

Why I’d make a good Giants Fan.

I’m not a big football fan, although I’m a sports fan in general and I do enjoy watching football occasionally, I just don’t have a network of friends nearby to go watch football with on Sundays. It’s much more of a social spectator sport than baseball. So I don’t ‘have’ a team yet. I’m a Mets fan first, an Islanders fan second, but that’s really where it ends. I dislike the Dolphins, and the Eagles(In fact, I’m beginning to despise all sports related Philadelphia events.). I kind of like Roethisburger and Peyton Manning, but not necessarily a big fan of their teams. I dislike the Cowboys when they try to play as ‘America’s Team’. I went to school in Buffalo, so I do sorta like the Bills, and prior to moving out of New York, I was one of the fans that used to joke about them being New York’s only team.

Now that I live in New Jersey, I can take the same approach. The Jets and the Giants both play here, despite the ‘New York’ title. I take the train past Giant Stadium on my way to work. I can’t see myself rooting for the Jets, despite their Mets ties, them previously playing at Shea, or being named for the planes at Laguardia airport. Could I be a Giants fan? It’s possible, I was definitely rooting for them in the Super Bowl, despite half-wishing that the Patriots _would_ go undefeated and the Dolphins who get whiny whenever anyone comes close could be silenced. I don’t envision me going to any Giants games this year, and I’ve been listening to WFAN a little less so I’m not even fully entrenched in the week to week Giants banter and storylines. Still, I do kind of like the team, and I like Eli Manning. It’d be nice to be rooting for a team with a legitimate shot, and defending champs at that. Sure would be different than watching the Mets choke success away, or the Islanders continue to be pathetic. The most exciting thing about the Islanders is that Howie Rose calls the games, and that reminds me of the Mets, and baseball.

I don’t follow basketball, so I don’t have any delusions about being ‘converted’ to being a Nets fan. Besides, they’re moving to Brooklyn. Maybe anyway.

October 15th, 2008 by Ceetar in baseball, giants, new jersey, sports
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