Archive for the ‘Random Stuff’ Category

North Brother Island

If you know nothing about NBI, here is my original entry detailing the long and varied history of this unassuming island in the Bronx River. it’s well worth a read and I won’t repeat it here because this is about my own journey exploring the island. I don’t recall exactly where I first heard about it, but I had known about it for well over a year. I had researched it thoroughly, making particular note of the dangerous currents and tides. I was also keenly aware that it was very close to Riker’s Island, which presented a security issue. I certainly did not want to be mistaken for someone escaping the infamous prison. What became clear was that if one was going to go to the island it would have to be by canoe, so one could scuttle the boat on shore. After numerous aborted discussions i finally found someone w/a canoe and someone else crazy enough to make the trip. We made the trip in January 2006. It would be approximately 1,000 feet from shore to shore and I am woefully out of shape, I cant remember the last time I was in a canoe. Complicating things is the fact that the tides are vicious and the water was ice cold. There had been a nasty ice storm the night before so air temperatures were sub-freezing. I can’t imagine what the water temperature would be like. Even with a life jacket, hypothermia could easily set in before I could reach shore. If you haven’t figured it out, this journey probably ranks as the most unintelligent exploration I have ever taken.

As fate would have it, I made the trip over successfully. The island is home to numerous birds which nest there and it’s a a protected bird sanctuary. The hospital buildings are all in severe disrepair. Many stairs are crumbling and there are holes in many walls and floors. This has allowed many thaw cycles to do further damage to the facility as snow and ice have gotten inside and rotted away the wood that held it together. There are 3 main buildings as you can see in the aerial picture below from google. There was almost nothing left in any of the buildings except for rusted out desk and chairs. The one area that was most interesting was the kitchen which still had purchase orders for the patients. In here I also found a 1950 phone book. I found it amazing to see phone listings as KL5-3325. Unfortunately the pages crumbled in my hands so I could not take it home as a souvenir. We spent several hours carefully poking around, but our visit was cut short because we wanted to go back when the tides were just right. Below are several pictures, but you should really check out all the pics on flicker

4 Urban explorers told they can’t be BFF any more

Four urban explorers had made 200+ jaunts into places they shouldn’t have but this time they got pinched. With the royal wedding soon approaching, security was tighter then usual and the police were not going to be as lenient with them as they otherwise might have been. The four were actually let go, but a recent incident (not involving any of the four) prompted the police to revisit the offenders and make what can only be described as a shocking “penalty”.
In England there is such as thing called an ASBO (anti-social behavior order). It’s an alternative form of punishment to prison which involves some sort of a restriction, often not being allowed to do something or go somewhere for a period of time. In this case the four werent allowed to possess any materials that would aid in UE (no flashlights? really?), no blogging about the subject of UE, but the shocker was that they could no longer be friends.

You heard that right, the four best friends had to sever all ties between them.

I don’t even know where to begin.

First off, do they really get to just make up punishments in England? Apparently when it comes to ASBO, yes they can. They’re special penalties, often custom taylored to the offense or defendant or both. Second, they can’t blog about it? free speech anyone? Oh wait this is England, so there’s no fourth amendment. Third, how can they release them, then months later decide to hit them w/an ASBO? Finally, not being friends any more? Aside from being impossible to enforce, it’s also maddeningly broad. What constitutes friendship? I’m sure they have mutual friends, what if they all get invited to the same party? Would one of them have to leave? How would they decide without speaking to determine who should leave?

It’s mindboggling. I don’t know enough about ASBO’s to say much else, like whether they can appeal the decision or what would happen if they violated the order. All I know is that it’s patently foolish on the part of the police to even try to suggest that they not be friends any more.

The Plywood House

The Plywood House was built by a Architect Gamal El-Zoghby, an Egyptian man learned in astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and art, all of which were incorporated into his dream-house design. The house was sheathed in unpainted plywood and covered with several coats of special preservative or varnish to protect it from the sea spray and cold winters. Built in the late 90’s the design gives one the impression that it is unfinished, which was as intentional as the other design elements. The house is aligned precisely on eographic east-west and astronomical alignments. As in an ancient monument, two windows are positioned to capture the sunrise and sunset at the spring and autumn equinoxes. Unfortunately Mr El-Zoghby did not always appreciate the attention he receives and hated the nickname “the Plywood house”. The houses true name was the “The Parousium” from the Greek word “parousia,” meaning “presence or appearance.” I had visited the house many years ago and the owner was uninterested in discussing his home. Apparently he was tired of explaining the design to gawkers, passerbys and photographers….

The house and it’s owner were in the news today when a fire broke out. Firemen broke thru the walls with axes to get at various empty pockets of wall space. While doing this, child porn fell from between the walls and El-Zoghby was arrested as a result.

Th abandoned townhouses above the Great Falls

Over the summer A friend and I explored the Great Falls and Colt Factory, then he took me to something unexpected. What appeared to be full constructed, ready to move in townhouses, that were completely abandoned. You can read the entire story here (which is how my friend found out about it) but the short story is this. Located just above the Falls, on a cliff overlooking downtown Paterson, a developer built the first of what to be several townhouse buildings. In 2008 the 10 units went up for sale and several people moved in. By 2010, however, the developer ran into financial problems, the remaining buildings, pool and everything else was not going to be built and the town foreclosed on the property. The few owners who had bought moved out, and the entire building was boarded up.

When I investigated the property, everything except for one door was boarded up. One entrance had previously been broken into, so we went in and looked around. Everything was in move in conditions, which really stunned me. You would think that by now copper thieves would have stripped the place, the boiler, fridge, and other appliances would’ve been stolen and homeless would’ve moved right in. It’s almost like no one know this place is here. The future is unclear, but if Paterson is smart they’ll try to make it a scenic view tied to the newly created Great Falls National park.

Pictures here

Some interesting stuff in the paper: an irish bar and a bunch of worries about pollution.

This bar in Denville seems pretty cool. It’s only the second thatched roof Irish bar in the United States.

In bridgewater Twp, a superfund site got submerged in over 10 feet of water for a long time. Did those water leech toxins and move them around? Probably.

Shipwrecks off the jersey and Maryland coastline are leaking fuel… and thats never a good thing.

Staying on the issue of pollution the long polluted Quanta site in Edgewater will be capped. 150,000 cubic yards will remain underground. Granted paying 5M to cap it is more economical then paying $300M to clean it up right… but why are we not making the companies pay for it? But the EPA is evil folks, it’s *big government*. That’s why Herman Caine would appoint oil and gas execs to head the EPA if he gets elected…. There isn’t a big enough #facepalm for this kind of thinking.

State recommends blood tests for lead poisoning but few show up

The state recommended that residents of Upper Ringwood, especially children, get tested for lead poisoning because of the contaminaton left there decades ago by the Ford Motor company. Several remediation efforts have removed thousands of tons of chemical waste but their presence has left high levels of chemical residue in the ground. High rates of cancer and other illnesses among local residents lead to concerns of lead poisoning, and the recomendation for testing. Unfortunately, few showed up for the testing last week.

Coast Guard selling off two lighthouses to the top bidder

The lighthouses need a lot of work however. About 5-6 years ago I convinced the Coast Guard to let me go w/them on one of their spring maitenance runs to all the lighthouses in the delaware bay so I got to visit them up close. Some of them are only accessible by climbing a ladder from a rocking board deck up to the lighthouse because they’re built on top of a submerged shoal. Yhose were fun to climb. I am not sure if I ever posted pictures or not but if I didn’t I’ll have to post those. Lighthouses, especially those away from the coastline are amazing, I can only imagine what it must be like to be in one during a severe storm all alone. I’m going to see if I can contact the person who buys this one (if it sells) and interview them for a project I am working on. Should be interesting to see how they restore it to liveable conditions.

Welcome IO9 and NY Scout readers!

I knew when i got up this morning that NY Scout had visited the jet in the woods because my site notifies me whenever someone else links to me. He was quite gracious enough to comment about my site a few times in his post (which I appreciate, as opposed to him just saying this is cool!). When I came home form work i went to IO9 and saw they had linked to Scout’s page and it seems we’re both getting a lot of traffic as a result. Today marks the best day I’ve ever had in terms of hits. I average about 10-15,000 page hits a month, or about the same as the Cheetos website. I think that’s pretty cool since I this is an obscure hobby which I do not promote outside of the community, I do not advertise for, nor do I advertise on. Today I got almost 3,000 hits and the day isn’t over. To make it easier, here’s a link to the most relevant pages about the jet in the woods since that’s what most people want to see today.

This is the main original post, notable for the heated debate over what kind of plane it was. A fan and fellow geocacher named Ian helped ID the plane after finding markings under the wing. This settled the debate.. I am friends with local Bergen Record reporter Bill Ervolino and he wanted a weird neat local story, so I took him to the jet which he wrote an article about. I later discovered that someone had cut a piece of the jet out presumably for scrap metal.

My favorite post is this one Ian Rothesberger, a conestant on Survivor was interested in creating a tv show about urban exploration and need some subject material for the pilot episode. He had heard about the jet but did not know its location, so I showed him. He eventually interviewed Ian and myself (the other Ian, the one who ID’d the plane) for the pilot episode. They are still shopping it around to the networks as far as I know. It was a fun, muddy day. If anyone has questions, feel free to ask, but don’t ask me for directions. I’m loathe to give them and in this case I flat out will refuse. After seeing how someone carving a piece out of the jet I refuse to take any more chances, so no directions. Any such requests will not even merit a response from me.

Where is the center of NJ?

The center of NJ (statisticly speaking) is Nenninger Lane in East brunswick, according to this article

No Buttz about it

The Garden State home to many unusual names. Like Buttzville.