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The MTA Released Alternative Travel Plans for L Train Shutdown and They’re Awful

New Yorkers are fearing the impending April 2019 shutdown of the Manhattan to Brooklyn L subway line. The contract for Hurricane Sandy repairs spanning the train tracks between 8th Avenue and Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, was awarded two years ago and plan to last at least 15 months, ending by August 2020.

The issue has been a hot topic among local politicians who are generally pushing for alternative travel routes including other subway lines, a new inter-borough bus line, and expansion of select bus services.

The L train services over 400,000 commuters daily with at least 250,000 depending the line to travel between the connecting boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

So what’s New York state going to do about suddenly losing this essential subway line? Well, the MTA released a 38-page PowerPoint presentation explaining their plans and they’re not pretty: http://web.mta.info/sandy/pdf/Canarsie-6-08-17_website.pdf

train lines

  • 75% – 85% of commuters will be shunted to other subway lines. The M and J lines connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn will bear the brunt the burden, with the G suffering on its connections going up to Queens.
  • The MTA admits 75% is the ideal target to avoid overcrowding. They have not yet released specific plans on how frequently trains will be running to accommodate all the new riders.
  • Only between 5% – 15% of riders are estimated to use a proposed inter-borough shuttle bus service.  This is where plans get messy. THERE IS NO DIRECT SHUTTLEBUS ROUTE PLANNED IN BETWEEN 8TH AVENUE AND BEDFORD AVE.

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  • As you can see, the shuttle buses will run from Grand St. L stop to no further than Prince St./Broadway.  This means if you want to get from Bedford Avenue to 8th Avenue you will have to transfer 3 times in between shuttle buses, subways, and select bus service.
  • The rest of anticipated ridership will consist of ferries, bicycles, and taxis.  The MTA has not yet released plans for increases in ferry ridership.

The Democratic Primaries this year fall on September 12, 2017.  When you vote please pay close attention to the travel agendas of your city council candidates.  Hopefully, local politicians can address this mess of a plan and fight to keep New York City’s subways running effectively and efficiently.

Click here to register to vote.

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My Profound Disappointment in Ronda Rousey

December 31, 2016 2 comments

[UFC 207 Spoilers]

The fight on December 30 between Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes did not go the way I expected. I always knew it was a possibility given Ronda’s history of partnering with poor trainers and her fragile mental state after her last lost. But she exceeded my expectations in the wrong direction. Since the fight was only 48 seconds long, there won’t be much technical analysis here, but I’ll expand further on my thoughts about the past of Rousey and the future of Nunes.

Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, published a supportive blog post following her daughter’s second devastating loss. She lists some of Rousey’s past accomplishments and reaffirms her support for her daughter despite acknowledging some of her poor decision-making.

Considering Rousey’s poor footwork in the past and her recently seen failure to make any progress in this area, her number one poor decision is apparently staying at Glendale Fighting Club and training her MMA game under head coach Edmond Tarverdyan. Edmond is widely known for his identity fraud and sketchy bankruptcy filings. But more importantly, he seems to completely fail as a primary and striking coach.

Here’s Ronda’s corner audio with Edmond at UFC 207:

(If this gets taken down due to copyright, just Google “Ronda Corner Audio.”)

Edmond: Head Movement!

Ronda: You apparently never taught me that.

Ronda’s lack of head movement, lack of a defensive jab, and complete failure to prepare for an opponent who has plenty of footage on her and not a particularly dynamic game can only be the product of poor coaching. (Edmond’s “Nooooo!” was also the anguish of his career ending.) Ronda’s boyfriend, Travis Browne, and the only other prominent MMA fighter training under Tarverdyan is 1-3 in his last UFC outings. Ronda’s shadow-boxing is legendarily bad and Tarverdyan’s “Beautiful work, champ!” after round 1 of the Holm fight has been a long-standing meme.

Ronda trained a couple times with the Diaz brothers’ striking coach Richard Perez and this is what he said:

You know to be honest with you, I don’t know how she is being trained over there [at Glendale Fighting Club]. I know I trained her for a couple fights before and she did really good,” Perez recalled. “I mean I trained her really hard, she loved it. She said she never had anybody train her like I did. You know, I don’t know what they do over there so I can’t give an answer on how it’s gonna come out.”

 

Nobody ever trained her like Richard Perez did. Being the elite of the elite, I’m sure Ronda could choose to train at any place she wanted. Even if she didn’t want to leave California, Rafael Cordeiro over at Kings MMA (trainer of former champs RDA, Machida, and Werdum) extended an invitation for her to train with them. At this point, anything seems better than Edmond “Beautiful work, champ!” Tarverdyan. Ronda’s mom said she got Ronda good at Judo as a child by having her train everywhere. But now, as an adult, Ronda seems to content to live in the echo chamber of self-congratulatory nonsense and babying that only Edmond provides.

I still feel like Ronda could have won on the ground if she had the opportunity to clinch. As pointed out in my last blog post, Nunes still has significant holes in her ground game. Nunes also did not adopt Holly Holm’s style like I thought she might. She came out orthodox and swinging her power right hand as per usual. But simply being Amanda Nunes was enough. There were a bunch of blocks, parrys, and counters available to Ronda at the distance Nunes was throwing, but her lack of knowledge was profound and fatal in the fighting sense of the word.

Rousey is still one of my favorite fighters. Her wins over Meisha Tate, Alexis Davis, and Cat Zingano were some of the most exciting seconds in her career. But she does not have a championship mindset anymore. Conor McGregor, by contrast, has a championship mindset. When he lost to Nate Diaz in an embarrassing fashion, he took half a year and a break from media to tighten his holes, gameplan for his opponent, and rededicate himself wholly. Ronda Rousey took twice as long off after her embarrassing loss and did none of those.

Unless she switches gyms and completely revolutionizes her striking game, Ronda’s time in MMA is over. The future of the bantamweight division is Amanda Nunes and there’s a couple of interesting matchups for her in the rising stars. She’s beaten most of the top 10 already, but there’s a couple women left that could give her some trouble if the fight goes all five rounds.

The first is Raquel Pennington. At #5, Pennington has some solid hands and good takedown defense, only losing recently by split decision to Holly Holm. She is sturdy and consistent and I imagine could be a durable test for Nunes if she makes it into the later rounds.

The second is #3 Julianna Peña. She is the dark horse in the division right now and became the TUF champion by exceeding everyone’s expectations. She is well-rounded and has probably just as powerful as Nunes, if not just as accurate, striking. If she wins her fight on January 28 against #2 Valentina Schevchenko, she will no doubt be next in line for a title shot.

These are the women who will carry the bantamweight division now that Ronda is no more. Ronda will always be remembered as a trailblazer and the top paid women’s MMA fighter. She has contributed more to the sport than almost anyone and deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments. Like Ronda’s mom, whatever bad decisions she’s made about her training, I’ll always support her. I hope she has a bright future maybe teaching or doing seminars and I will always remember her as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.

Why Ronda Should Win Her Comeback at UFC 207

December 27, 2016 2 comments

 

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On December 30, Ronda Rousey will make her first return to the Octagon since her devastating loss last November to Holly Holm. She is fighting the current champion, right-hand powerhouse Amanda Nunes. Now a lot of people are questioning whether Ronda still has it and whether or not she can handle the power and proficient grappling of Amanda Nunes.

Have no doubt, Amanda is a beast and a strong starter. She has very heavy hands and is definitely capable of a knockout. But I believe Ronda will win, probably by her classic armbar technique, and the main reason I believe this is because Amanda Nunes is not Holly Holm.

Holly Holm is a Southpaw, has excellent lateral movement, clean jabs, and has devastating headkicks. Amanda Nunes mostly stands Orthodox, has okay footwork, relies heavily on her right hand, and I can’t recall her ever throwing a headkick. But most of all, I think she is susceptible to the clinch. And that’s exactly how Ronda wins her fights: She bullrushes, she clinches, she throws, and she armbars.

Here’s the last fight Nunes lost:

 

Nunes’ fight with Cat Zingano was very telling. She lost handily over the course of all three rounds on the ground to a superior wrestler. She showed a willingness to clinch that could go right into Ronda’s game. She also made a poor decision to grab a leg at one point while she was on bottom and got reversed. When she was down, she stayed on her back and had trouble mounting offense from the bottom.

Now ATT is not a dumb team and they will be drilling to avoid the clinch at all cost. It’ll be interesting to see if Nunes can change her style and incorporate some better jabs to complement her powerful right hand. Holm’s straight left is what kept Ronda at bay for most of their fight.

Holly also did a smart thing to avoid the clinch where she pushed off the hips instead of wrapping her arms around Ronda.

 

It’ll be interesting to see if Nunes can emulate that move. In her Sarah D’Alelio fight at Invicta 4, which she also lost, she lost handily to double-legs and also in the clinch. There was a point in the Nunes-McMann fight as well where McMann almost had her back. Rousey almost never does wrestling takedowns but she certainly has advanced Judo trips and throws that Nunes will have to train with high level judokas to learn to defend. If her judo defense is anything like her wrestling defense, she’s in serious trouble.

Nunes did win the fight against wrestler Miesha Tate, but Meisha was overly cautious and her tentativeness to engage probably cost her some wrestling exchanges which she could have capitalized on. But Ronda Rousey is not Miesha Tate and her style is all aggression all the time. Rousey may have to endure some punishment for her takedown attempts, but her relentless aggression and Nunes’ sloppiness in the clinch go hand in hand.

In short, I believe if Nunes adapts to be more like Holly, she could win. But if not, (I’m leaning towards not because fighters often retain bad habits.) Ronda will clinch and win from there. Nunes is always capable of a knockout and she’s sure to have improved since her losses, but if Ronda can muscle through her mental blocks and play her usual game, I think it’s a game she can win.

Allergystop: A $50 Epi-pen (Epinephrine) Alternative Device

September 14, 2016 Leave a comment

Since my last post was a serious criticism of an indiegogo campaign, here’s one that I feel has a legit product.

It’s an epinephrine injectable device designed to save the lives of patients suffering from anaphylaxis.

Twin cities allergist, Dr. Douglas Mcmahon, invented the device a few years ago while tinkering in his lab. He now hopes to get funding to help bring the pocket-sized epinephrine injector to the market and at a much lower price than the recently price inflated $600 Epi-pen.

Check out Allergystop’s indiegogo campaign here.

Other Epi-pen alternative devices are bulky or involve syringes that require special training. Dr. Mcmahon hopes to open the device up to investors to get it FDA-approved and doesn’t want the cost of Allergystop to go above $50.

They have a long way to go to hit their $200,000 goal, so help them out if you can!

 

I asked a Mechanical Engineer about ELF Emmit. This is what he said.

September 4, 2016 27 comments

From their indiegogo page:

ELF emmit: A Wearable for the Optimized Self

ELF emmit improves focus, sleep, stress, & more, combining ancient traditions and modern technology.

ELF emmit uses non-invasive and FDA Approved technology to actively influence positive change in your daily life by emitting pulses at specific frequencies, optimized to attain a desired state of mind, at any given moment.

They claim they can change any one of the 5 brainwave types: gamma, beta, alpha, delta, or theta by emitting “pulses” at certain frequencies.

I have a friend who is a mechanical engineer. He previously worked for companies that manage proton therapy systems. I showed him the indiegogo page and this is what he said:

“Yeah, this is bullshit. In TMS, the instantaneous coil current is actually very high, into the kiloamps. A headphone output will provide maybe 500 mW of power into some fairly high resistance. All they did was put that output through a very small coil. In other words, if this worked, we would be dead if we brought our heads next to a power transformer.”

So yeah. ELF Emmit = Snake Oil. $119 Snake Oil.

Moon Hooch at Music Hall of Williamsburg Review

September 1, 2016 Leave a comment

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Who knew you could make such good dance music with saxophones? Brookyln’s own Moon Hooch came home Thursday, August 25 with an energizing show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. With a style Moon Hooch refers to as “Cave Music. Organic House Music. More wild, more jagged, more free, more natural to live in and dance in,” Moon Hooch rocked out with Billyburg attendees with a satisfying two-hour set.

Getting their start by performing in Williamburg’s Bedford L station, Moon Hooch hit local notoriety by getting kicked out by the MTA for “starting too many dance parties.” They have since gained popularity nationwide by touring with indie powerhouse They Might Be Giants.

The Music Hall of Williamsburg is a mid-size venue with reasonable ticket prices hovering around $25. Moon Hooch tickets were $20–a great deal for, including the opening band, three hours of entertainment. The music hall has three floors and two bars; it had a lounge, a floor, and a mezzanine with bars on the lounge and mezzanine. The mezzanine had tables with chairs around the periphery and stadium seating. The venue was clean and convenient, only a 15-minute walk from neighboring Greenpoint.

The opening band was Bears. Not to be confused with 80s group The Bears, Bears is a self-described “doom pop” band. They opened with an hour-long set reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins or The Verve. It was good ol’ alternative rock time, but the floor really started heating up around 10PM, as the main attraction was set to take stage.

No introduction needed, Moon Hooch jumped out. Wenzl McGowe and Mike Wilbur grabbed their saxes off the stands. The drummer, James Muschler, rocked no shirt. They began their set with the trippy “Psychotubes.”

Here is footage I got of their opening song from my mezzanine seat:

The guy positioned right in front of center stage really stole the show. He kept up his mad moves all night!

Moon Hooch then transitioned into some “ambient improv,” before launching into a bunch of new tracks from their new album, Red Sky. Notable tracks were “Low 5,” “Alien Invasion,” and “Rough Sex.” There were little to no breaks for the band as they flowed seamlessly from one track into the other, including some techno improv and a sax solo by McGowe. The energy from the crowd never died down, as everyone saved no energy for an afterparty.

One thing that was different from some of their previous shows is that one of the members tried his hand at vocals in “St. Louis.” There were no male vocals three years ago at their show at Brooklyn Bowl. While they weren’t my favorite part of the set, it was nice to see the band expand their skill set and try new things.

About three-quarters of the way through their set, Moon Hooch busted out with “Number 9” The crowd went wild. This was the song they sampled the iconic “Ladies and gentleman, the next L train is now arriving on the Manhattan bound tracks.” Brooklyn knew and appreciated their home song.

They ended with “Contra Dubstep,” which is a markedly different song from the ever-catchy “Contra.” Notably absent from this set was “Contra” (Dictionary: Contra – preposition – “against.”), perhaps due to to a desire to focus on the new album or the lack of availability of the female vocalist. Whatever the reason, “Contra Dubstep,” is still a great example of the band’s self-described “Cave Music,” bold and with bass drops.

Moon Hooch thanked the crowd and exited the stage, but no one budged. There had to be an encore. Sure enough, they stepped right back out with their encore song, “Number 1.” I do have a video of the encore too, but you’ll have to go see them in person to see it. Moon Hooch deserves it.

The show was a fantastic reminder that fresh music is alive and well in Brooklyn. Moon Hooch put on their signature energetic performance with a new album that not only will resonate with saxophone connoisseurs, but with anyone looking for something to dance to.

Moon Hooch is touring now! Check out http://www.moonhooch.com/tour/ for dates and tickets.
Check out their new album, Red Sky, at http://www.moonhooch.com/red-sky/

How Would Conor McGregor Stack up Against Other UFC Fighters?

August 28, 2016 4 comments
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Conor McGregor at UFC London World Tour – Wikimedia commons

 

After UFC 202 there’s a lot to say about UFC superstar Conor McGregor. He sought redemption after his March UFC 196 loss to Nate Diaz and, boy did he get it. At 202, the usually animated McGregor came in calm and collected. Conserving his energy to last an impressive five rounds, he skillfully employed leg kicks and counter lefts to defeat the durable southpaw Diaz.

McGregor wanted the rematch at the original weight they fought at, welterweight (170lbs), so that’s what UFC gave him. It was a hard battle against the bigger Diaz, but McGregor fought a smart fight, implementing a combination of aggressive striking and evasive footwork, to win their 25-minute battle in a close 48-47 majority decision. McGregor won rounds 1,2, and 4, with Diaz winning 3 and 5. Diaz had a comeback towards the end of round 2, pressing forward, but McGregor had scored two knockdowns early in the round to edge him out.

Conor McGregor is still the featherweight (145lbs) championship, after destroying Jose Aldo in 13 seconds back in December, but at the post-fight press conference said that a rematch with Aldo doesn’t interest him so much. Could this mean a move up in weight to lightweight (155lbs)?

Here are some intriguing potential match-ups with Conor McGregor at a variety of weights.

Conor McGregor vs. “Cowboy” Cerrone

 

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is the perennial journeyman turned title contender. He even beat Brazilian “Cowboy” to secure his place as the the all-time best “Cowboy” in the UFC. He is primarily known as a dangerous Muay Thai striker (7KOs/TKOs), but has 16 Submissions under his belt.

Well-rounded, and a known finisher, Donald Cerrone poses huge problems to McGregor at either lightweight (155lbs) or welterweight (170lbs.) They are similar sizes, 73-inch reach for Cerrone to 74-inch reach for McGregor, and both have vicious punches. But while I think McGregor is still improving, I think “Cowboy” is at his peak. Cerrone also has the experience edge with 38 fights to McGregor’s 23 fight.

Cerrone differs from Nate Diaz in one area in particular—he knows how to take people down. We saw in the Chad Mendes fight that this is McGregor’s kyrpotnite. This is a close one, but I think if Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone can use his wrestling, he will win a decision.

Conor McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar

 

Before Frankie Edgar lost his rematch and the interim featherweight (145lbs) championship to Jose Aldo, he seemed to be featherweight’s best hope for beating McGregor. He also has an excellent wrestling pedigree, wrestling from high school to college and qualifying for nationals all four years.

He’s got a great record, with a notable win over the last guy to seriously take McGregor down, Chad Mendes. But Frankie didn’t impress me in his fight against Aldo. He was super predictable and seemed to have basic footwork that was easily countered by Aldo. Perhaps Edgar’s age (34) and fighting mileage (25 fights with some wars at a higher weight class) are finally showing. The 28-year-old Conor (23 fights), by contrast, is a much more creative fighter, implementing many spinning and explosive Tae Kwon Do techniques.

This might be controversial but, due to size and unorthodox striking, I would give this fight to the more risk-inclined fighter, Conor McGregor.

Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez

 

I was originally going to do Conor McGregor vs. Rafael dos Anjos, but now RDA has fallen from championship status to the strikes of Eddie Alvarez. I was never super impressed with Alvarez, so I watched a couple of his fights before writing this article to refresh my memory about his style.

The first thing I noticed about Eddie Alvarez in the Anthony Pettis fight is that he’s pretty fast. Fast doesn’t necessarily mean slick though, and it’s not so much that Alvarez’s takedowns looked good, it’s that Anthony Pettis’ takedown defense looked bad. He seemed to confuse Pettis with his awkward hand movement and then shoot in easily, even though the takedowns were telegraphed. I don’t think McGregor would fall for this obvious trap.

McGregor is also fast and has great fluidity in his movement. Eddie Alvarez was fast in his Donald Cerrone fight too, but he still lost. Alvarez leaves his head down often when throwing and Cerrone took advantage of this. He also scored most of his dirty boxing shots in the clench, while Conor avoids the clench like the plague.

I believe that if Conor McGregor can continue to improve his kicking game, add some knees, and stick to a gameplan for his opponent, it will give him the edge over Eddie Alvarez in a five round fight.

Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 3 at Lightweight (155lbs)

 

There are a couple improvements Diaz needs to make to beat the new, improved McGregor. First, he needs to check those leg kicks consistently. His weakened leg was arguably what led to the two knockdowns that scored McGregor that fateful second round. Second, he needs to have an answer to those left hands of Conor, whether it be countering or sliding out of the way.

The thing about Diaz is his style never changes much between fighters. He still fights long and lean, and he still rarely checks leg kicks. In my opinion, this is why he will never be champion material. He doesn’t gameplan for specific fighters effectively and can’t adapt on the fly well enough.

Unless he somehow can integrate a blitzing double-leg takedown into his game, the third fight will go very similarly to the second fight. Nate Diaz had a size advantage in their second fight, but this advantage will go away if he cuts more weight. I think that Conor McGregor will still beat up a smaller, and therefore less effective, Nate Diaz at lightweight.

Conor McGregor vs. George St-Pierre

 

This would be the superfight of all superfights (except maybe Anderson Silva vs. GSP). But I think this is an obvious fight. We all know Conor is a top-tier striker and probably has decent jiu-jitsu, but he has never shown amazing counter-wrestling. We saw 145-pound wrestler Chad Mendes take him down with ease. Wrestling is key for transitions and this is one area where GSP shines.

GSP’s blast double leg takedown is second to none:

I think the combination of being a bigger fighter and having the best wrestling for MMA would score George St-Pierre an easy victory over Conor McGregor.

For other MMA articles on this blog see: “Top 3 UFC 202 Diaz vs McGregor Memes” and “Fallon Fox has Already Lost.”