From a Local: Safety Tips for Traveling in NYC

Welcome to the concrete jungle (where we mostly care if you live or die)!

New York is no longer the lawless urban jungle of the 1970s. In fact, in June 2019 crime rates for the five boroughs hit record lows. Unfortunately, gun violence and hate crimes have been rising in the United States at large, and it's frankly no wonder our cultural interest in true crime media has been dominating our streaming platforms.

But none of that detracts from the allure of The Big Apple. Speaking as a resident for over 11 years, we are far friendlier than people tend to assume; but, we are also a city of 8.4 million people with the residential density of 27,000 people per square mile. Sometimes we're grumpy. We drink too much coffee. We have all almost been run over by taxis and bicyclists in too-tight bike shorts. Some safety tips advise you to all but tape your personal belongings to your torso, while others blindly tell you to wander off the beaten path to get a taste of the "real New York." Like all things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. These are your best safety tips while traveling in New York City.

Airport

When swallowed by the insane hustle that exists at JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark International Airport, don't get overwhelmed: No one knows where they're going. As simple as it is, READ THE SIGNS is the best, recurring advice for getting around New York. Whether you're arriving or departing, follow the basic rules: Always keep an eye on your bags, decline offers to carry your bags for you if it's not from a clearly identified airline employee, and don't accept impromptu offers to share rides from a fellow traveler, no matter how friendly they may seem. In the same vein, practice smart stranger danger: Waiting for your flight is boring, and friendly passengers may very well strike up conversations, but never share details about where you're staying or even that you're traveling alone. Make up an imaginary friend, if you have to. It's not rude; it's just safe.

Taxis/Ubers

We've all heard Uber horror stories by now. Safe traveling by paid car includes complete awareness: Who is your driver? When ordering a ride on an app, make sure all of the information verified by your order, from the license plate to the driver's name, matches the car that appears to pick you up. Ask the driver who they're picking up before getting in, to be sure (and don't give your name away first).

If you're taking a taxi, make sure it's driven by a real, licensed driver from the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. How do you know? "All licensed yellow taxis have a medallion affixed to the hood of the car and each medallion has its own individual number," explains a Public Information Officer. "Medallion numbers consist of a number, followed by a letter, followed by two more numbers. For example, a medallion number could be 4Q88 (this is not an actual medallion number). Besides the hood of the car, the medallion number also appears on the rooflight, license plates, and the left and right side, just behind the rear passenger doors, on the exterior of the vehicle." Furthermore, the taxi's license plate should include the medallion number, as well as a NY plate that says "taxi." Just don't trust a car simply because it says "Taxi."

Also don't do this. This is very dumb.Giphy

Subway

There's nothing like people watching in a subway car. There's always a child having a tantrum, an elderly woman peeling an orange, and a young dude trying to impress the girl he just sat down next to–and everyone has the right to be there. But again, self-awareness is key on the train. While waiting on the platform, absolutely stay away from the edge. Does every other major city in the world have doors or barriers to stop passengers from falling to an electrified or crushing death? Yes. Does New York? No, no we do not.

As for interacting with fellow passengers, you'll want to pay attention to the car you're stepping into. If the car is completely empty, don't get in it. There's a reason it's empty. Whether there's an odor or an aggressive passenger acting out, you should stay with the herd. When you're packed into the train like sardines, have patience and take up as little space as possible. At the same time, be aware of your personal belongings, including your pockets. If you're particularly weighed down with a lot of shopping bags or personal items, do not sit right next to the doors. It's a targeted spot because it's easy to grab your things and run out of the closing train doors. If you ever feel uncomfortable, transfer to the car towards the center of the platform; that's where the conductor is, so you're not alone. This is an especially good precaution to take when traveling late at night.

Sidewalk

First: Keep walking! At least, if you need to pause, do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Simply step aside and let us manic, rushing-for-no-reason speed walkers get ahead of you. We don't mean any harm in brusquely pushing past you–it's just a matter of physics. New York is always in motion, and New Yorkers will stay in motion undeterred by taxis, bicyclists, or tourists who just want a picture of the Empire State building.

Speaking of bicyclists, they will run you over so pay attention, look down, and do not walk in the bike lane. That's the lane with a drawing of a bicycle. It's also usually green.

As far as the panhandlers go, they all have their reasons for being there. Some of their stories will be made up, and some will ask for particular things, like food. Be mindful and use your best judgment.

On the other hand, peddlers who stand in the middle of the sidewalk and try to shove things into your hand are always scamming tourists: Once you take the item, they won't leave you be until you pay for it. Some can be uncomfortably aggressive, so avoid them.

When it comes to buskers, follow this very important rule: If they sound good, give 'em a buck, why not?

General Tips

Just ask for directions! If you're very wary of being tricked, ask a cashier or clerk in a store. Like any city, some areas of New York City are less safe than others. The bright side: Technology is on your side. Crime rate apps or message forums or blogs will let you know that some neighborhoods are less tourist-friendly, like Alphabet City, the Lower East Side, or Hell's Kitchen.

The bottom line: Stay aware, and don't be afraid to ask questions. If you can make it here...then congratulations, you're one of 8.4 million other New Yorkers.

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How Prima Helped Me Improve My Daily Routine

Primas hemp products helped my create new habits

The last few months of working from home and barely leaving my apartment have been tough. Everyone seems to be improving themselves during quarantine but I was just trying to adjust to the new isolated way of living.

Now that the hardest part is hopefully behind us, I'm ready for some self-improvement. After months of WFH followed by binge-watching Netflix and binge-eating junk till 2 am, I've got to make a few changes. I took some advice from my sister who told me to pick three areas I'd like to makeover and then form new habits to help me achieve my goals.

She also suggested that I try hemp. She's been in love with all of Primas products for the last month and claims they've made a huge difference in how balanced she feels throughout the day. She said that Prima's hemp stands out from other brands because it's the highest quality hemp and rigorously tested to ensure potency and purity. But I was all about the new habits, so I ignored that advice.

Here are the three new habits I've added to my daily routine:

  1. Make time for me!

This one may seem silly after nearly three months stuck in the house alone, but what I mean is quality time for me. I needed to integrate activities that are mentally and physically constructive. I heard yoga was great for your mind and body and with so many tutorials on youtube, I added 20 minutes of yoga before breakfast to my morning routine.

2. Exercise

I don't like gyms and that's never going to change. So I needed to refresh my exercise options. I love being outdoors so I added an evening walk weeknights and long hikes on the weekends. The fresh air clears my head after a long day and I can start hitting those 10K steps we're meant to do every day!

3. Less Screentime

This isn't just for kids! I realized I was on my work laptop all day, and when I wasn't looking at that screen I was watching TV on my phone. My eyes were never getting a break and neither was my head. I had to limit the crazy amount of time I was spending on my phone. I got a free app that alerts me when I'm on it too long, like an alarm that kicks me off. Then I ordered some novels to read instead of scrolling through Instagram and Twitter in bed. Now I read a few chapters and nod off.

My new habits took a while to get used to, but after two weeks of constantly reminding myself, they're part of my routine that I'm just loving. I'm definitely sleeping better and feel more motivated in the morning. However, I still felt like there was something missing. And my aching neck started to get worse. I thought the yoga would help but once the afternoon hit, my namaste had completely vanish-tayed and my neck was in bits by bedtime! I even sorted out my home office with a new chair and keyboards so I wouldn't be bending it so much all day but I think the damage was done.

That's when my sister jumped in and reminded me that I should try Prima's hemp products. For my neck? I still doubted that was the solution. But when she promised me Primas R+R recovery cream would help my neck, with her husband also vouching for it I gave it a go.

Once it arrived at my door I tried it every night a week for bed. The first night I felt a little difference but I just put that down to the cooling effect of the menthol. I was surprised hemp was just one ingredient among so many really amazing ones such as menthol, eucalyptus, and marula oil. Along with the botanicals tea tree, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint which are great to encourage total relaxation. While on their site, I couldn't believe the variety of hemp products they have.

By the end of the week, I really felt the magic of Primas R+R cream and it has become the most important part of my nighttime routine. I forget what it was like to have neck discomfort thanks to Prima.

I loved it so much that I couldn't help treating myself to their award-winning Night Magic Serum. I can't wait for my glowy skin!!

I never imagined I'd become a hemp fan, but Prima is the perfect piece to complete my revamped wellness routine that makes me more mindful and balanced. I'm so glad my sister introduced me to Prima, it's my new favorite habit that I will be keeping!

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What's Up with All These Fireworks?

New Yorkers have been hearing constant explosions throughout the night. Is it a conspiracy?

If you live in a large metropolitan area like New York City, Black Lives Matter protests likely aren't the only things you hear making noise in the streets.

In the past couple of weeks, as Black Lives Matter supporters march in memory of George Floyd and countless other Black people killed by police, the sounds of fireworks can be heard virtually every weekend. More than just your average Fourth of July shindig, these explosions often trail into the wee hours of the morning.


According to Gothamist, there were 6,385 total "311" complaints about fireworks in New York City from June 1 to June 19—up from 27 during the same time period last year. "This is not the simple firecrackers and little small toy-type rockets, but it was very elaborate," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told Gothamist. "That in itself is raising a high level of concern with me... When you see the large displays along Brooklyn and in Manhattan, Upper Manhattan, you're seeing extremely sophisticated type fireworks displays that can be extremely dangerous in the hands of the wrong people."

Anything more powerful than a sparkler is illegal in New York, but that hasn't stopped regular folks from buying the type of fireworks you'd see in a professional display. But who is buying these fireworks, and what are they trying to accomplish? There are some wild theories.

NYPD, FDNY appear to let illegal fireworks show play out, video shows

NYPD, FDNY appear to let illegal fireworks show play out, video shows nypost.com

As author Robert Jones, Jr. pointed out in a lengthy Twitter thread, antics by "bored Black and brown kids" tends to be the general assumption made by most mainstream media. "My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an attack meant to disorient and destabilize the #BlackLivesMatter movement," Jones wrote.

One goal Jones proposed was that white people were the ones setting off the constant fireworks in an attempt to "stoke tensions between Black and Brown peoples." Many have voiced their frustrations online about the sheer volume of the fireworks they hear, and a shared annoyance is growing.

Another motive Jones proposed was that the fireworks are being used as a desensitization method to acclimate citizens to the sounds of the blasts—which often sound like gunshots. "When they start using their real artillery on us we won't know the difference," Jones wrote. "It's meant to sound like a war zone because a war zone is what it's about to become."

Police don't seem too concerned. The New York Post shared a video this week of fireworks being set off behind an NYPD precinct in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. No officers appear to deter them. A similar video in Harlem, Manhattan also shows a flock of police cars—none of which seem to mind the explosions.


Another video shows what appears to be Brooklyn firefighters setting off fireworks:

Video shows FDNY firefighters light off illegal fireworks in Brooklyn

Video shows FDNY firefighters light off illegal fireworks in Brooklyn nypost.com


Today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was forming a task force to combat the illegal fireworks. "Illegal fireworks are both dangerous and a public nuisance," he said. "We're cracking down on this activity at the source to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and the ability of our neighbors to get some sleep."


But if over 6,000 complaints have been made about fireworks to seemingly no avail, it seems a task force won't merit much of an improvement.

Many seem to agree with the theory that inconspicuous government officials have been offering fireworks to Black children, newly on summer vacation and hungry for ways to ease their quarantine boredom. As with many issues going on in America, these constant fireworks will probably be just another way for the government to further discriminate against marginalized groups.

At least we can always rely on memes to spread the good word.

I don't know about you guys, but working from home has taken a serious toll on me. It started off really well. I was sticking to my usual routine as much as possible, but I've been slowly becoming less and less productive.

I noticed my sleep schedule had completely changed. I was rolling out of bed a few minutes before I was due to start work, and sometimes even working from my bed. I ate lunch at the desk and worked straight through my scheduled breaks. I was sleepier throughout the day, unable to focus as much, and just feeling less motivated overall.

So I looked into what I could do that would help me out of my slump. I tried a few things. Some were so simple I never thought they'd make much of a difference, and some I wouldn't have thought of at all, but now I'm back feeling more productive than ever.

Here are my three tips for working from home:

1. Get up early

Yes, it seems so simple. But it's super important to stick to a normal routine if you can. Not only do I get up early, but I shower every morning and cook myself a nutritious breakfast before I start work. This definitely helped me feel more energized and motivated throughout the day.

2. Have a designated workspace

This is important because it separates your work from your home. Our homes are associated with relaxing, so designating a space that will be used only for work will help you concentrate on work while you're in that space. I also found that doing this helped me actually take appropriate breaks. When I left the space I was in relax mode, and once I came back, I was ready to work again.

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3. CBD supplements

When looking into ways to improve my focus and sleeping patterns, I came across an article about CBD supplements, specifically a brand called Prima. I'd never bought into the whole CBD craze, but when I read that you can try Prima's Rest Easy, Go-To, and Brain Fuel elixirs by purchasing their Trifecta for just $26 with shipping, I thought why not?

The elixirs are powders that you can mix into any beverage. The Prima Trifecta has a few samples of all three. The Brain Fuel elixir is to be taken in the morning, so I mixed it into my coffee, and I was awake and alert and able to throw myself into my working day.

Their Go-To elixir should be taken around noon. My daily midday productivity crash had gotten so much worse while working at home, but taking this elixir helped keep me sharp through the remainder of my work day.

The Rest Easy elixir is taken at night to help you get a good sleep. Since I started taking this my sleep schedule has greatly improved. It was so much easier to get up early again. It left me feeling well rested and ready to start my day.

I never realized how much simple things, like setting out a specific workspace, and getting up early would help me escape my unproductive rut. I wasn't expecting Prima's CBD supplements to help as much as they did, but they definitely had the biggest impact for me.

After trying the Prima Trifecta, I ended up buying the full size of all three elixirs. If you're having problems with sleep, focus, and productivity like I was, I'd recommend ordering the Prima Trifecta.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.