Archived Posts from "'Reader Mail'"

Hoboken Snakes

WTF is up with Hoboken snakes?

Last weekend, Hoboken resident wdgewood spotted a pile of snakes on Sinatra Drive, citing that “they must like the NYC view.” Haha!

Hoboken snakes sinatra drive

But it appears that snakes are popping up more often than I can recall…

Another resident named Dennis also spotted one this morning – but this time far from the waterfront on Madison Street.

Hoboken snakes madison street

And we thought snakes only hung out at City Hall? Who woulda thunk?

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Does Hudson Street need more stop signs?

Does Hudson Street need more stop signs in Hoboken?

Hoboken resident James lives near Hudson Street uptown. And he believes, that because Washington Street is already a “bottleneck” of traffic (and associated idiots), that intelligent drivers migrate towards Hudson Street in order to find a more efficient route to travel.

I agree actually – Washington Street sucks, for many reasons. Whether it’s the traffic lights (which aren’t bad at all), or the horrific potholes and the “moonscape texture” of the road – it’s better to travel elsewhere.

But James feels that as a result – Hudson Street has become an Indy 500 raceway!

Is Hudson Street that bad in Hoboken NJ

Forget Hoboken, dealing with Hudson County (gasp!) is better!

So James has been dealing with Hoboken for like over a year. Some city official named “Jon Tooke” was emailed REPEATEDLY week after week about concerns that James had. No decent response.

Then James copied the COUNTY (Hudson, in case you were not privy), and they started taking notice.

Hudson County did a “traffic survey” and determined that this road did NOT warrant stop signs as per the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” (MUTCD). During an eight hour period, just over 2500 cars drove down and around 1700 pedestrians crossed Hudson Street in the area of concern.

The county also mentioned that the “MUTCD” recommends AGAINST installing STOP signs to “control speed,” claiming it doesn’t effectively do so (i.e., other measures like speed bumps are apparently better for that.)

It appears that the county might be close to installing at least one sign (near Hudson & 7th), and resident James is advocating for perhaps one or two more near 9th and 10th Streets. We’ll see what happens.

Do you think Hudson Street is “unsafe?” Would more traffic control measures just make traversing Hoboken that much more of an (already) pain in the ass?

Lackadaisical Maintenance

Lackadaisical Maintenance in Hoboken (or non-existent)

We recently detailed how “shit is just falling apart” in Hoboken (or just plain shoddily maintained).

But did you know the “fancy” rail-mounted LED lighting over at Pier C Park has been “on the fritz” since last year? So much so that Hoboken resident Nick wrote in with a funny anecdote:

Hoboken WTF File Pier C Park flickering lights“I have a question that has been bugging me for months. At night, the lights around the island park on the Hudson River and 3rd/4th Sts. have been flickering in some bizarre, seizure-inducing manner. This has prompted a vigorous debate with friends about whether this is part of some Hoboken-sponsored “light show,” or just a giant waste of electricity coupled with lackadaisical maintenance.”

We don’t even need to investigate the reason. It’s obviously poor city oversight for a park with too much maintenance required to continue working sufficiently. So it falls to shambles. Like most other “amenities” in town.

Don’t you long for simpler times?

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The Power of Silence

How many of you exercise the power of silence?

Yesterday, we published an article about how many ways people can indirectly communicate with each other (and the continuous “entertainment” people need.) How it’s overwhelming, and almost unnatural with potentially bad consequences.

Today’s guest column expands on the importance of experiencing silence (visual, mental, auditory, etc.) I have moved in that direction myself – like when traveling or hanging out at home. No radio, no TV in the background, no headsets. And seeking out quiet places on weekends to just “unplug.” A clear mind is also a healthy mind!

The Power of Silence Steve Taylor

The Power of Silence

By Steve Taylor Ph.D

Modern humans have lost touch with their inner ‘true self’. Silence and stillness are a means to recovering happiness and contentment. In the modern world silence has practically ceased to exist.

construction noiseThe human race has stamped its authority over the planet Earth not just by covering its surface with concrete and destroying its plant and animal life, but also by burying the natural sounds of the Earth beneath a cacophony of man-made noise. We live our lives against the background of this cacophony, with the jagged mechanical sounds of urban-industrial society continually assaulting our ears: the roar of trucks, aeroplanes and trains, the clanging and thudding of machinery, the noise of building and renovating, the chatter of radios and TVs in other people’s cars and houses, and pop music blaring from every conceivable place.

But nothing, of course, has done more to obliterate silence than the car. In the modern world it’s very difficult to go anywhere where there’s no possibility of being disturbed by the sound of passing cars, and the only chance that city or town dwellers get to experience something of the quietness which existed everywhere in the pre-car world is sometimes on Sundays, when the mad rushing to and fro of modern life slows down. This quietness seems so foreign now that it seems difficult to believe that a hundred years ago and before it was everywhere all the time. Back then this quietness would even have filled the busiest city centres, which would have probably had a noise level equivalent to that of a modern small village.

There’s also more noise than ever before inside our houses. It’s unusual to go into a house nowadays where there isn’t at least one television set chattering away somewhere, even if the residents aren’t actually watching it, and other forms of home entertainment compete against TV to produce the most noise: radios, CD players, computer and video games etc. In fact the only sound which is largely absent from people’s houses nowadays is the voices of their occupants actually talking to one another.

Living in the midst of all this noise is bound to have a bad effect on us. All man-made noise is fundamentally disturbing. We find the sound of birds singing or of wind rushing through trees pleasing, but mechanical noise always jars and grates. And since we live our lives against a background of mechanical noise it follows that there’s always an undercurrent of agitation inside us, produced by the noise. This noise is certainly one of the reasons why modern life is so stressful as well. In modern life our senses are bombarded with massive amounts of external stimuli. Our fields of vision are always crowded with different (and constantly shifting) things, and our ears are bombarded with a bewildering variety of sounds — all of which clamour for our attention. Our senses have to absorb and process all this material, which takes up a lot of energy, and means that we’re liable to become drained of energy or ‘run down’ easily.

try some relaxationWe can get out of this state by removing ourselves from all external stimuli and letting our energy-batteries naturally recharge themselves i.e., by relaxing. But there’s so much external stimuli around in the modern world and people are so unaccustomed to the absence of it that we may never be able relax properly, which could mean living in a permanently ‘run down’ state.

This lack of quietness has also meant is that people are no longer used to silence, and have even, as a result, become afraid of it. Along with inactivity, silence has become something which most people are determined to avoid at all costs, and which, when they are confronted with it, unnerves them. People have become so used to the frantic pace and the ceaseless activity of modern life that they feel uneasy when they’re left at a loose end with nothing to occupy their attention even for a few moments, and they feel equally uneasy when the noise they live their lives against the background of subsides. Why else is it that they need to have their radios and televisions chattering away in the background even when they’re not paying attention to them?

In other words, in the modern world silence has become an enemy. And this is a terrible shame, because in reality silence is one of our greatest friends, and can if it’s allowed to reveal itself to us have a powerfully beneficial effect on us.

Inner Noise

It’s not just the noise outside us which causes us problems, though, but also the noise inside us.

too much background noiseIn the same way that the natural quietness and stillness of the world around us is always covered over with man-made noise, the natural quietness of our minds is constantly disturbed by the chattering of our ego-selves. This chattering fills our minds from the moment we wake up in the morning till the moment we go to sleep at night an endless stream of daydreams, memories, deliberations, worries, plans etc. which we have no control over and which even continues (in the form of dreams) when we fall asleep. This ‘inner noise’ has as many bad effects as the mechanical noise outside us. It actually creates problems in our lives, when we mull over tiny inconveniences or uncertainties which seem to become important just because we’re giving so much attention to them, and when we imagine all kinds of possible scenarios about future events instead of just taking them as they come. It means that we don’t live in the present, because we’re always either planning for and anticipating the future or remembering the past, “wandering about in times that do not belong to us and never thinking of the one that does” as Blaise Pascal wrote. And this constant inner chattering also means that we can never give our full attention to our surroundings and to the activities of our lives. Our attention is always partly taken up by the thoughts in our minds, so that wherever we are and whatever we’re doing we’re never completely there.

It’s probably possible to say that there’s also more of this ‘inner noise’ inside human beings than there’s ever been before. The hectic pace and the constant activity of our lives, the massive amount of external stimuli we’re bombarded with, and the barrage of information which the mass media sends our way, have made our minds more restless and active. We’ve got to juggle dozens of different problems and concerns in our minds just to get by from day to day, and every new thing we see or every new piece of information which is sent our way is potentially the beginning of a whole new train of thought to occupy our minds.

The True Self

Ultimately, the most serious consequence of both this inner chattering and the noise and activity of the modern world is that they separate us from our true selves.

Our ‘true self’ might be called the ground, or the essence, of our beings. It’s the pure consciousness inside us, the consciousness-in-itself which remains when we’re not actually conscious of anything. It’s what remains when our the activity of our senses and the activity of our minds cease. The sense-impressions we absorb from the world and the thoughts which run through our minds are like the images on a cinema screen, but our ‘true self’ is the cinema screen itself, which is still there even when there aren’t any images being projected on to it.

Experiencing this ‘consciousness-in-itself’ can have a massively therapeutic effect. It brings a sense of being firmly rooted in ourselves, of being truly who we are. We also have a sense of being truly where we are, realising that before we were only half-present, and everything we see around us seems intensely real and alive, as if our perceptions have become much more acute. But above all, we experience a profound sense of inner peace and natural happiness.

true consciousnessAs the Hindu and Buddhist traditions have always held, the nature of consciousness-in-itself (which means the consciousness inside us and the consciousness which pervades the whole universe) is bliss. Getting into contact with the pure consciousness inside us enables us, therefore, to experience this bliss. Indeed, it could be said that it’s only when we do this that we can experience true happiness. Usually what we think of as happiness is hedonistic or ego-based that is, based around pressing instinctive ‘pleasure buttons’ or around receiving attention and praise from others and increasing our self-esteem. But the kind of deep and rich happiness we experience when we’re in touch with the ground or essence of our beings is a natural, spiritual happiness, which doesn’t depend on anything external, and doesn’t vanish as soon as the thing which produced it is taken away.

It’s a happiness which comes from experiencing the divine inside us and also the divine inside everything else, since the pure consciousness inside us is the same pure consciousness inside everything else, and the pure consciousness of the universe itself.

Making Contact with the True Self

Whether we’re in touch with this ‘true self’ or not depends on how much external stimuli our senses are taking in from the world around us, and on how much activity there is going on in our minds.

If there is a lot of noise, movement and activity taking place around us then we can’t help but give our attention to it; and in the same way, when there is a lot of ‘inner noise’ taking place we have to give our attention to that too. And when our attention is completely absorbed in this way either by external stimuli on their own, such as when we watch TV; by ‘inner noise’ on its own, such as when we daydream; or by both of them at the same time it’s impossible for us to be in contact with our ‘true self’ to any degree, in the same way that it’s impossible to see a cinema screen in itself when it’s full of dancing images. Being in contact with our ‘true self’ is a state of attentionless-ness, when our minds are completely empty.

What we have to do if we want to get into contact with this part of ourselves is, therefore, to withdraw our attention from these things. And this is, of course, what we do when we meditate: first of all, we remove ourselves from external stimuli, by sitting in a quiet room and closing our eyes. And then there’s only ‘inner noise’ standing between us and consciousness-in-itself, which we try to quieten by concentrating on a mantra or on our breathing. If we manage to stop the inner noise (and therefore stop our attention being absorbed in it) pure consciousness immerses us and we become our true selves.

And this brings us back to the most serious problem caused by the massive amount of external stimuli (including noise) which our senses are bombarded with in the modern world, and by the intensified ‘inner noise’ which modern life generates. It’s not just a question of completely closing yourself off to external stimuli and shutting down ‘inner noise’, so that you can experience a state of total immersion in pure consciousness. It’s possible to have a foot in both camps, so to speak; to live a normal life in the world, being exposed to external stimuli and experiencing inner noise, and at the same time still be rooted in your real self. That is, it’s possible to be partially immersed in consciousness-in-itself, and for your attention to be partially absorbed by external stimuli and inner talk. But this can only happen when there is just a moderate degree of both of the latter.

make contactIt would probably have been quite easy for our ancestors to live in this way, because they weren’t exposed to a great deal of external stimuli and because their lives were relatively slow-paced and stress-free, which would have meant that their attention needn’t have been completely absorbed by external stimuli and inner talk.

Perhaps this even partly explains why native peoples seem to possess a natural contentment which modern city dwellers have lost because their more sedate lives mean that they’re able to be in touch with the ground of their being as they go about their lives, and that they can therefore continually experience something of the bliss of which is the nature of consciousness-in-itself.

For us, however, this has become very difficult. There’s always so much noise and activity both inside and outside us that our attention is always completely absorbed, so that we can’t be in contact with our real selves. We spend all our time living outside ourselves, lost in the external world of activity and stimuli or in the inner world of our own thoughts. We’re like a person who plans to go away for a few days but finds so much to occupy them in the place they go to that they never go home again, and never again experience the peace and contentment which lie there. This is certainly one of the reasons why so many people nowadays seem to live in a state of dissatisfaction — because they’ve lost touch with the natural happiness inside them. That natural happiness has been buried underneath a storm of external stimuli and what Meister Eckhart called ‘the storm of inward thought’.

As a result of this it’s essential for us, in the modern world, to go out of our way to cultivate silence ourselves. Circumstances may oblige us to live in cities, and our jobs may be stressful and demanding, but we’re still free to remove ourselves from external stimuli and to try to quieten our minds by meditating, going out into the countryside, or just by sitting quietly in our rooms. We don’t have to fill our free time with attention-absorbing distractions like TV and computer games, which take us even further away from ourselves. We should do the opposite: stop our attention being absorbed like this so that we can find ourselves again.

We need silence and stillness to become our true selves and to be truly happy. ‘Be still,’ said Jesus, ‘and know that I am God.’ But he might have added, ‘and know that you are God.’

About Steve Taylor

Steve Taylor PHD Power of SilenceSteve Taylor holds a Ph.D in Transpersonal Psychology and is a senior lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. For the last three years Steve has been included in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of the 100 most spiritually influential living people (coming in at #31 in 2014).

Steve is also the author of Back to Sanity: Healing the Madness of Our Minds and The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era. His books have been published in 16 languages and his research has appeared in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, The Journal of Consciousness Studies, The Transpersonal Psychology Review, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, as well as the popular media in the UK, including on BBC World TV, The Guardian, and The Independent.

Connect with Steve at StevenMTaylor.com or follow Steve at Facebook.com/SteveTaylorAuthor.

Hoboken Eyesore

A Hoboken eyesore – who’s problem is it?

If you take a look at cars parked on the street in Hoboken – it’s like any other mid-to-upscale city (other than the non-stop robbery from the HPU). Almost every car is in working order, less than a decade old, and have no graffiti vandalism. Nothing like the Bronx back in the 70′s.

We get our occasional car on cinder blocks probably more than people would like here – but overall the parked car situation receives an A+.

Recently – a car got smashed near 4th & Park, and suffered some major damage in the trunk, including a shattered rear windshield (which is temporarily remedied by some makeshift cardboard to minimize water damage.)

Smashed car Hoboken NJ

Ugly or not – car can stay

The car above has been “sitting there” for a week or so, and one resident complained to the city to have the unsightly car “removed,” as it has even remained during street cleaning days (and probably received a ticket for not moving).

The city responded – and said they couldn’t remove the car because it was an “eyesore,” and that the owner of the car had a parking permit.

HPU response to smashed Hoboken car

A POS eyesore to one, is a major hassle for another…

Despite the criminal laws they have to generate revenue in the name of “Street cleaning,” (when the rain would probably suffice over fancy sweepers), this is one of those instances where I have to side with the city on their choice to leave the car there.

What the resident who initially complained may not have understood was that, even though the car was “ugly” and made this neighborhood look a little unsightly, it was still a real problem for the owner of that car. What if they didn’t have the money readily available to get it repaired? Or had to wait for an insurance inspector to take a look?

Not everyone has the money to instantly rectify what may amount to major financial impacts to their lives. So to add insult to injury for a victim of a car accident is a little short-sighted and selfish, wouldn’t you say?

It’s a dangerous path to go on to want everything to look the same, act the same, etc. A little trip to the history books will show you why.

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Hoboken reserved parking

The end is near – Hoboken reserved parking

Months went by where residents did their part and moved cars to make way for the “cleanup” of snow off city streets. Didn’t happen to an even 5% efficacy level. But most of you already know that.

I found this pile quite hilarious. This toxic snow mound was bad enough with just vehicular exhaust and road grime. And not only was it taking up a valuable parking spot, like a “cherry on top,” the soiled baby diaper makes it the ideal picture which sums up the city’s capabilities.

Hoboken reserved parking for diapers

Letter: Clean Our Filthy Streets

Hoboken resident Melissa chimed in on what amounted to abysmal winter when it came to snow cleanup. “Grade F” and “left behind” is another way to put it.

“To the City Council of Hoboken:

I would like to see a property tax credit for the lack of services in Hoboken.

Residents are having to take it upon themselves to clean their streets that have not been cleared in months. The county has been willing to help when necessary but Zimmer refuses to invoke their assistance. You may want to contact The Mason Civic leave to provide assistance yourself in the cleaning of your ward.

Until we can get some appropriate leadership and adequate services in this town my taxes will continue to be paid in protest.

Yours in Health, Safety and Access,


Note: Remember “mayor” don Zimmer campaigning on transparency and other bullshit? Now she just hides behind press-releases and FAKE diary entries. What a total sham don is.

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