Photo dump

So right around mid-semester I became neglectful again.  It happens.  On the bright side I earned the grades I wanted.

Because of my serious neglect, I am going to do a photo dump.  A bunch of pictures I took but never had time to upload and write about.  Instead of the wonderful posts I imagined, I will give a few words to place the photos in time.  Enjoy!

1127121415This is what I see everyday when i get off the elevator to go to my department.  It is vibrant and certainly wakes up the mind!

0222131358aThis is the view of 5th Avenue from the department conference room.  I also had a class in here this semester.  I had to sit with my back to the windows to keep from being distracted 🙂

0314131026This was a display erected after the death of Hugo Chavez in front of an agency promoting tourism to Venezuela.  Some was in support of Chavez and some against his politics.  It was interesting to see this display in the heart of New York.


0122131025Post Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey is marketing hard to convince people to visit the beaches again.  This is a billboard as we enter the Lincoln Tunnel. For those unfamiliar with the State of New Jersey, the “s” in “resilient” is the shape of the state.  I must say that this is an apt description.  Much of the tourist sites are ready for summer travelers and day-trippers.

0314131023All of the media lining 5th Avenue outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral when Pope Benedict resigned.  St. Patrick’s is the largest cathedral in New York and without fail, whenever there is discussion about a Pope as successor everyone is convinced it will be the Cardinal from New York City.  So all the news vans park outside and interview everyone passing by.

0430131454 0430131454aAs I was walking downtown I came across these ribbons for peace.  The view was startling and yet beautiful.


0509132024Another picture of the Music Under New York program.  This time it is an Opera group.  This performer was amazing.  She interacted with the passerby’s and those just watching.  At appropriate moments in the piece she would flirt with some of the onlookers and she really owned the area she was singing in.  It was fantastic!  I love hearing opera on my evening commute.

0410131053This safety plan is firmly attached to the roof of the buses travelling from New Jersey to NYC.  I find it funny that there is only one route to get to NYC in the event of an emergency; all the other emergency routes are for leaving NYC to New Jersey.  It’s clear where we think emergencies will actually occur!

0516131745NYC has a rating system for food retailers (restaurants, bars, etc.).  This has become slightly iconic with even TV commercials playing on our reactions to these ratings.  I will be honest, I passed up on sushi at a restaurant with a B rating.  The idea of eating raw fish in a place that is less than perfectly clean is not very appetizing.  In fact, this B rated place was only acceptable because it was a bar- one of the few times when less than spotless seems like a good idea!

0515132036Lastly, another food posting.  Last week Madison Square Park hosted an event called Madison Square Eats.  It was a great way to visit a few different food vendors and learn of some of the more unique eatery options available.  I ate some of my favorite gluten free crepes from Bar Suzette.  The place was packed and barely enough room to move around but the weather was nice and it was great to see so many people out and enjoying the city on a Thursday night!

So that was the last 2.5 months of my semester.  I will be out of NYC for most of the summer so see you all in September!










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One of the great things about New York City- the subway.  No, seriously.  It is a great system that works most of the time.  It is also one of the largest in the world.  That is something to be proud of!

But, what really thrills me is the talent on display underground.  Sometimes it is a performance in the train itself- though these tend to feel a bit awkward since you are kind of held captive until the doors open again.  The better bet is often in the stations themselves.  All the larger stations have performers daily.  A good number are just looking to make some quick cash by providing some entertainment to those passing by, such as this performer:

0306131932S/he was having a great time dancing and lip syncing to music!  There was quite a large crowd and s/he was entertaining, but I didn’t feel that s/he had incredible talent.

However, one level down was a group of musicians that were worth stopping and watching for some time.  Their music was great and lively as was their performance:

0306131933The band is called the Drumadics and it was four brass instruments and a drummer who used empty plastic buckets!  These performers are part of the Music Under New York program.  They have to audition and they are given priority locations to perform along with banners which given public recognition to their music.  The program seeks to have a variety of musicians (and artists) that represent the variety that is New York City.  These performers liven up spaces underground and always bring a smile to my face.



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View from above

This past week, my job required that I attend a meeting.  The building was in midtown and we were to be on one of the upper floors.

Needless to say, it was beautiful.  The space was stunning with lots of glass that let in light and offered an amazing view.  I was floored and immediately took a photo.  Just as I was framing my second shot someone ran over and informed me I was not allowed to take photos.  Not even of the outside (which is why i am not even naming the building).  I quietly put away my camera, but I still got one pic:



It was a grey and rainy day, but that seemed to make the view even better in its own way (though not the pic).  The mist hanging over the buildings gave off a feeling of freshness.  This view is looking uptown.  In the photo just to the right of the post is an area that is dark and devoid of buildings- that’s Central Park.  The dark line way out on the horizon is New Jersey.  To the right of the picture I could watch planes taking off and landing at La Guardia Airport.  It was great to see the city from yet another perspective.

In other news… I am getting a new camera this weekend and I am excited to see what kind of shots I can start to capture.  Especially as the weather starts to brighten and we all look forward to being outside again!

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Society for Ethical Culture


For many years I have known of this building but I was never quite sure what it was.  The lintel over the door reads “The Society for Ethical Culture.”  This name always made me pause and contemplate what lay beyond the door itself.  It sounded like it could be a government institution or a school.  The building faces Central Park and is in a favorable position in Manhattan.  Certainly an area of town that enjoys a comfortable standard of living- the kind of place that is good for sitting around and thinking about being ethical.

So I did not forget about the building, this time I snapped a picture and did a little research.  What I learned is that the building is the flagship building of the Society for Ethical Culture and is still used by the group today.  The group was founded by a German immigrant, Dr. Adler.  He grew up in New York, the son of a Rabbi.  After college, Dr. Adler returned to Germany to study at Universitat Heidelberg to become a Rabbi.  while in Germany he became aware of the condition of workers in factories, particularly women and children.  Appalled by this he spoke out about it upon his return to New York.  His message was not received amicably at first.  Eventually he founded the society on the idea that the poor and under-served should be aided by those in a position to do so.

The society is still active and involved in community projects and dialogue that promotes the ethical and humane treatment of humans.  Be it in their work lives, living quarters, or other basic rights through the continued efforts of cooperation over competition.  It is an interesting model that reminds me somewhat of the Occupy Movement which also emphasizes equality, cooperation, and humanist tolerances.

Much of what I learned came from their website: as very little information exists outside their own published materials.

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Visit to the American Museum of Natural History

This past week I spent the day with a friend at the American Museum of Natural History.  One of the exhibitions currently running is regarding food worldwide.  The exhibit discussed historical perspectives as well as the future of food safety and availability.  It is great and helped me to be even more excited about my own research.  One of the really cool things they had as part of the exhibit were scent machines.  These devices looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book and when you pressed a button an aroma would be released.  They had scents like chocolate, ginger, garlic, and lavender.  I know there were more, but these are what I remember.  Another part included representational displays of meals.  Some of the meals were historical and included Jane Austin and a Mongol leader.  Other meals represented famous people including Michael Phelps; who eats at breakfast what I eat all day and has since made me consider becoming an athlete just so I can eat so much food!

I wandered other areas of the museum including, of course, the Margaret Mead Hall.  Margaret Mead is a famous American anthropologist whose most famous work, _Coming of Age in Samoa_, helped to fuel the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s.  She directed the construction of the exhibit which still proudly wears her mark.  I doubt that most visitors know who Margaret Mead is today (she dies quite some time ago), but the big draw now is the large Easter Island Head at the end of the Hall.  This artifact was featured in the movie, Night at the Museum, and is the subject of many tourist photos now.  I believe it has eclipsed the fame of Margaret Mead!

Here is a photo from outside where they decorated for the holiday season with these fun topiary:




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Yeah, it has been awhile again.  Finals and the holidays are finally over and I can get back to living life again.  Our program is on break until the end of January, so I have a few weeks to “relax.”  I put this in quotes because my idea of relaxing is: cleaning my living quarters (you would be amazed at how quickly one lets the space accumulate dirt when cramming to write 60 pages in less than three weeks!), exercising my body (another thing that quickly falls to the wayside when trying to get everything done), review my German (how quickly we forget a language when we don’t use it), and reading for my research bibliography.

Before I began grad school I thought I would have tons of time to read for my bibliography.  I had plans to read two additional books per month to keep my own research interests moving forward.  Nope.  Never happened.  I have a list of over 40 books that I want to read for my project- right now since this list will surely grow.  My goal for this month off is to knock off at least 10 of those books from my list.  I am already off to a good start and have two finished.  Only eight more to reach my goal!  And honestly, since these works are directly related to my area of interest I actually enjoy reading them.  It has not felt like a chore or something I have to do for school.  It is for me and that is pretty rewarding.

But, I am not always all work and no play.  Sometimes I need to get out and have some fun!  So, to celebrate the season, the family took a trip to NYC.  I had to find something that would entertain the troops and stumbled across an article about the “world famous” gingerbread house contest at Le Parker Meridien (an upscale midtown hotel).  The pictures of some of the houses were stunning and I thought it sounded like a really great way to pass some time.

Loaded with bags (we had done a lot of shopping in the am), we made our way to midtown to see the spectacular houses.  Which they were!  All six of them.  That’s right.  Six.  Let down does not begin to convey how I felt at that moment.  Here I thought there would be dozens of confections to dazzle us.  Here is a picture of my favorite one from the day:



Spectacular? Yes.  All of the creations were.  I was just disappointed since the shows billing made it sound a lot more impressive, i.e. bigger, than it was.  None the less, it was fun.  All the confections were created and donated by local restaurants/bakeries and viewers could vote for their favorite by putting a dollar into a box by the display.  The money was to be donated to a charity later (I believe City Harvest, but I am not certain.)

With time to kill we decided to walk a few blocks to Rockefeller Center.  The center of Christmas in New York.  It is nice, of course, but it was completely packed which made it feel less enjoyable.  What the kids got a kick out of, however, was one the way there.  These two pieces of art:




With that, I wish my readers a Happy and Healthy New Year!

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Yacht Club

I have passed this building a few times and I really admire the architecture.  Looking at the lower set of windows  it reminds me of something very loosely related to Gaudi.  While the upper floors have a more imposing and traditional look.

IMG_1396 IMG_1397


The building is home to the New York Yacht Club, an organization founded in 1884 by nine men on the yacht of a prominent New Yorker.  This building was finished in 1900 and designed by the same architects who designed the facade of Grand Central Terminal, Warren and Wetmore.  It became a National Historic Landmark in 1987.  I have not been inside, but supposedly there is a significant collection of models of yachts.  It is on quiet 44th Street and perhaps not surprisingly next door to the Harvard Business Club.  The New York Bar Association is nearly across the street and the Cornell Club is only a block away.  Surely these clubs share some of the same members.  I realize Manhattan is an island, but the location of the building seems a little odd today.  Perhaps when it was built there was more direct access to the open water, but standing there today it is hard to remember that water is only a few blocks away and it seems so strange to have a yacht club in the middle of a high rise urban setting.

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Yup, this is about right. This is what grad school is like 🙂

Karen Zgoda, LMSW

UPDATE January 28, 2014: Now available in doll form! Courtesy of reader Deanna Foster who writes, “A very good friend of mine is doing her PhD, and I was inspired by your blog to give her a “Graduate School Barbie” for Christmas. I made some modifications to a barbie I picked up at WalMart. She really enjoyed it – thanks for your blog post!”

xmas2013 A

xmas2013 C

xmas2013 B

UPDATE November 26, 2013: Now available at the USA Today!

UPDATE November 4, 2013: Now available at the Huffington Post!

UPDATE August 8, 2013: Currently this post is at ~300,000 views (298,742 to be exact). THANK YOU INTERNET!

UPDATE December 6, 2012: Folks, I am deeply humbled by the attention this post has received. Here are recent stats:


Welcome!! Over 48,000 of you, most likely current or former graduate students, stopped by to say hi and laugh just yesterday alone. Most of you found…

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Holiday Market Take 2!

The picture I posted last time of the market, well, it wasn’t the best.  So I am giving you all a few more pictures to enjoy.


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Holiday Market!

Just as soon as I complained about the loss of our Farmer’s Market, the Union Square Market was back!  And now it has an addition!

The lower end of the park is now home to a candy cane striped holiday marketplace.  Several dozen stalls create a maze of mostly locally crafted items.  One photographer has prints from the NYC Subway of the 1980’s which he put on t-shirts, wooden boards, or just matted.  Several of them were very provoking and I ended up purchasing a t-shirt for my significant other.  There are several artists and jewelry makers.  There is also a local brewery selling beer making kits which seems like a pretty cool gift idea.

Some of the stalls have items from far off places like India and Nepal.  One has exquisite fabrics but seeing as I do not sew very well I wasn’t sure why I would buy them.  Another has beautiful candelabras that I would love to add to my space!  There is one stall that has a number of German imports and offers Gluhwein, but it is non-alcoholic and I just don’t see the point in buying non-alcoholic Gluhwein.

Best of all though are the food sellers.  There are several kiosks that sell the best smelling creations.  Chocolate, waffles, cookies, rice balls,  Pho, and best of all GF crepes!  The place is amazing and I truly enjoyed my crepes and plan on visiting them often 🙂 .  In addition to hot foods to eat there, the market includes a few purveyors of tea and one that also has spices.  The table is a glorious display of spices, mixtures, rubs, and teas.  Local and far away flavors combine as a feast for the eyes.  Enjoy!

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