Monday, March 30, 2015

Flaming idiots..........

Gas utility inspectors for Consolidated Edison met on March 26 2015 with a contractor and subcontractor to discuss renovation work at about 2 pm that day.  They all left the building at 121 Second Ave near E Seventh St, NYC New York by 2:45 pm after inspecting the gas lines and looking for safety issues.  The building exploded at 3:17 pm and brought down three buildings and damaged four others.  It also injured about 22 people, some critically and left two young men missing.

It took hours to battle the resulting fires in which the affected buildings collapsed and more than a day to locate the bodies of Nicholas Figueroa, 23, and Moises Locon, 27.  Nicholas has been on a lunch date at a local sushi restaurant when the explosion happened and his date escaped with injuries but he had not.  Locon was working as a busboy at Sushi Park and had been planning to return to his waiting girlfriend in Guatemala soon.  Their bodies were found in the rubble on March 29th between 1 and 4 pm.  Investigators are still working to discover what had caused the explosion and suspect that one of the gas lines in the building had been tampered with or illegally tapped.

Figueroa & Locon

What is disgusting is the need for people to post selfies of everything these days.  Within hours of the explosion there were numerous people posting selfies of themselves at the location and they are not just from tourists unfamiliar with American life.  The events photography company EventsPhotosNYC posted a picture showing seven women smiling in front of the emergency vehicles at the site on Friday night.  Univision, a spanish language outlet had already beaten them to the punch and posted a picture of a reporter at the site the day before taking his own selfie.  Christina Freundlich, a former employee of the Iowa Democratic Party posted a pic of herself with a peace sign in front of the site on Saturday night.

These pictures were not pictures that were reporting on the event..... they were smiling selfies at the site of an accident that still had two people missing in the rubble.  While they were standing around, posing with grins on their faces, two young men's bodies still lay buried in the rubble.  I am not sure when the public idea of reporting, documenting and making a record of significant events changed to an attitude of "look at me, I'm here" with little regard for the tragedy involved.  Those who are directly involved in this latest selfie binge should be embarassed of the actions and apologize to those who were suffering while they waited to know the fate of those missing.  I am sure that if it were their house that had burnt down and they had family missing there, they would not want to see pictures posted of smiling people with peace signs standing in their front yard.  Where is the respect these days?

Update March 31 2015:

Investigators showed up at the home of Maria Hrynenko's home in the Palisades and collected bags of shredded documents that may relate to the ongoing investigation of the gas explosion.  Hrynenko owns the building that was destroyed in the blast last week and investigators are reportedly very interested in an incident that occurred in the building last summer.

On Aug 6 2014, a Con Ed meter reader smelled gas at the location and discovered a strange attachment with hoses on the gas line.  The gas line was installed only to provide gas to the restaurant on the first floor but it looked as though the attachment was providing gas to the upper floors of the building.  Con Ed ordered the attachment removed and nine days later, a licensed plumber removed it and gas was restored after the repair had been certified.  it is now suspected that there was another similar attachment installed on the line for the same reason as before....... to provide gas to the upper floor tenants.

It has been reported that the owner of the sushi restaurant had smelled gas minutes before the explosion and had contacted Hrynenko about it.  When her son and a contractor opened the door to the basement, the building exploded.

Update April 6 2015:

Contractor Dilber Kukic has confessed that he had rigged a gas line in the building at 121 Second Ave for the apartments above.  The illegal hook-up was removed before the Con Ed inspection and then was replaced afterwards.  The explosion that destroyed the building happened about 30 minutes after the hook-up had been reinstalled.

The building is owned by Maria Hrynenko who inherited it from her late husband Michael Sr who owned it and several others.  He had run the 24 hour Kiev Diner in the East Village before his death in 2004.  It was their son, Michael Jr, 29, who was at the building when a gas smell was reported and he and Kukic had started to go into the basement at the time of the blast.  Kukic had carried Michael Jr to safety since he had been injured in the blast.  Kukic did state that it was Micheal Jr who had insisted that he instal and reinstall the illegal hook-up on the gas line and he was only doing what he was told.

Michael Jr

Kukic had been arrested in October 2014 in a city wide sweep involving  a $600 bribe to a city inspector.  He was evidently trying to make two violations on buildings he owns on W 173rd St go away.  The lawyer for Maria Hrynenko, Thomas Curtis, has stated that he has been replaced by another lawyer from Dutchess County because things were not working out between them.  Maria had told him not to mention who that new lawyer is and Curtis has added that he feels she has made a mistake.

Goodbye with love.......

The obituary that Megan Malcolm wrote for her father Donald, who passed away on Feb 28 2015, is both moving and funny.  It tells of a father who lived life as he thought he should and rather than just listing a long list of accomplishments, it shows the love his family had for him and the life he chose.  She just recently posted a link on her Facebook to the obituary that was officially published this past week.

I would like to think that when I go, there would an obit that celebrated my life such as this.

Obituary – March 25

Donald Alexander Malcolm Jr.
Donald Alexander Malcolm Jr.

Captain Donald Alexander Malcolm Jr., 60, died Feb. 28, 2015, nestled in the bosom of his family, while smoking, drinking whiskey and telling lies. He died from complications resulting from being stubborn, refusing to go to the doctor, and raising hell for six decades. Stomach cancer also played a minor role in his demise.

Don cherished family above all else, and was a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He met his future wife, Maureen (Moe) Belisle Malcolm, after months at sea, crab fishing. He found her in his bed and decided to keep her. Their daughter Melissa was born “early” six months later. They decided to have a boy a couple years later, and ended up with another daughter, Megan. He taught his girls how to hold their liquor, filet a fish and change a tire. He took pride in his daughters, but his greatest joy in life was the birth of his grandson Marley, a child to whom he could impart all of his wisdom that his daughters ignored.

After spending his formative years in Kirkland, Wash. with a fishing pole in hand, Don decided his life’s calling was to yell at deckhands on commercial fishing boats in Alaska. As a strapping young man of 19, he moved to Dutch Harbor to fulfill this dream. Over the next 40 years, Don was a boat cook, mechanic, deckhand, captain and boat owner. Although Don worked nearly every fishery in the Pacific Northwest at one time or another, his main hunting ground was the Bering Sea. He cut his teeth crabbing; kept his family fed by longlining halibut and black cod; then retired as a salmon gillnetter in Southeast Alaska.

Don had a life-time love affair with Patsy Cline, Rainier beer, iceberg lettuce salads and the History Channel (which allowed him to call his wife and daughters everyday in order to relay the latest WWII facts he learned). He excelled at attempting home improvement projects, outsmarting rabbits, annoying the women in his life and reading every book he could get his hands on. He thought everyone could, and should, live on a strict diet of salmon, canned peas and rice pilaf, and took extreme pride in the fact that he had a freezer stocked full of wild game and seafood. His life goal was to beat his wife at Scrabble, and although he never succeeded, his dream lives on in the family he left behind.

Don is survived not only by his wife, daughters and grandson, but by his father, Donald Malcolm Sr; brothers Howard and Mike Malcolm; sisters Lisa Shumaker, Nicki White, Melinda Borg and Patsi Solano.
He also has many nieces, nephews, aunts and cousins who love him dearly, and deckhands who knew him. He will be having an extended family reunion with his mother, Winifred Thorton; foster parents Marvel and Dutch Roth, brothers Larry and Steve Malcolm, sister Doodie Cake, and other assorted family and friends who died too young.


Donald & Megan

Donald & his wife Maureen
Donald & Marley

hats off to Wirecutter for the post

Saturday, March 28, 2015


"Two little brats climbing over war memorial right in front of a veteran," photographer Matt Munson stated on his Facebook account.

Munson added that the parents were not in the picture that he took but he had seen them laughing at their children.  He added that the kids had drawn a small crowd and when the parents realized that the crowd was not happy with their antics, they took off before he could get a picture of them all together.  The picture has touched off quite a debate online with many stating how disrespectful it was for the parents to allow.  There are some though who tried to paint in a good light by using phrases such as "kids will be kids" and the image actually shows kids being able to be free to play because of what veterans have done in the past.

Kids will be kids is a lame excuse for letting or encouraging your children to climb all over a monument.  We grew up as a family visiting numerous memorials, monuments, museums and battlefields and we did not run hog-wild over them.  My parents took the time to explain to us what it was that we were going to visit and what historical significance it served.  They also were very quick to march us out to the car so we could sit out a visit if we ever tried to misbehave.  Kids will be the kids you raise them to be and encouraging them to climb on a monument that does not have a sign welcoming that behavior is disrespectful.

This monument is a sculpture.... a work of art that commemorates the work that women did during the Vietnam War and is meant to be a memorial and not a jungle gym.  Where do those parents think the money will come to repair it if it were damaged?  If every parent thought it was fine to have there kids climb all over it, it will become worn and damaged over time.  The money to repair to replace it doesn't grow on trees, it comes out of somebody's pocket or it comes from admission charges to visit memorials.

What they are teaching their young children is that anything not locked away, under layers of glass, bars and alarms is free game for them to damage.  That would have been the attitude of the two young women who thought it was okay to carve their initials into the Coliseum in Rome Italy and then take selfies next to it.Teaching your children not to assume everything out there is something to play on is not being a bad parent......... it is being a responsible one.  Munson stated that the parents had encouraged the children to climb on it and he only began taking pictures when he noticed veterans coming by.  If their children were so bored with visiting the memorial or the nearby Vietnam Memorial, they should have brought along something to amuse them or............... taught them that the world does not revolve around them every minute of the day.

If the subject that they were climbing all over was changed, say to the parents own car and it was someone elses children climbing all over it and hanging off the mirrors...... do you think they would have the same attitude?  I doubt it and I am pretty sure they would be yelling for a police officer to arrest the parents and charge them for the damage that may have been done.  I don't think they would take the answer, "kids will be kids" when asked why they let their kids climb all over the car.

It is a war memorial........ not a jungle gym....... show some respect and take the moment to teach your children some respect as well.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A sad double anniversary.....

The Brown Building which stands at 23-29 Washington Place in Greenwich Village, New York City NY is now a part of the New York University.  On March 25 2011, it was known as the Asch Building and housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Company when a fire there changed lives and history.

The factory occupied the top three floors of the ten story building and typically had about 500 employees, mostly women, who worked six days a week for a total of 52 hours.  The mostly young, immigrant women worked to produce women's blouses and were ending their workday on March 25th when the fire broke out.  The fire started at about 4:40 pm that Saturday afternoon in a scrap bin under a cutters table that held about two months worth of scraps in it.  The first fire alarm was sent in at 4:45 pm by a passerby who spotted smoke coming from the eighth floor.  A bookkeeper on the eighth floor telephoned the tenth floor about the fire but there was no way to contact the ninth floor and warn them.

Flames quickly made one stairway impossible to use and the other stairway had a locked gate that was there to prevent theft among the employees.  The foreman who had the key to that gate had already fled the building.  The elevators only managed to make a few runs to the ninth floor before they were forced to give up.  There was an exterior fire escape that had been installed to make up for a lack of a third stairway in the building but it soon buckled and collapsed, dropping about 20 employees over 100 feet to their deaths.

The fire department did their best to send water up to the three floors that were on fire but that was all they could do.  The ladders they had would only reach up six stories, far short of the floors that needed help.  It was not long before 62 people had jumped to their death or fallen out of the flaming floors as well as the dozens who fell or jumped into the elevator shafts.  The rest who died had waited for the smoke or fire to kill them.  In total, 146 people died in the fire, 123 women and 23 men died of blunt force injuries, burns or smoke inhalation or a combination of the three even though the fire had been put out in about a half hour.

The company's owners, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck escaped the fire by running to the roof and were later charged with first and second degree manslaughter.  They were acquitted by a jury but later lost the civil lawsuit brought by the families of those who died.  The families had won a compensation of about $75 dollars per person but that did not hurt the owners too badly as the insurance company had paid them about $60,000 more than their reported losses.  That gave them about $400 per person who had died.

The tragedy of the fire brought about sweeping new changes in the workplace including over 30 laws relating to labor.  It was instrumental in the formation of the Ladies Garment Union's push for better worker safety and worker compensation laws.  Some of the new laws included availability of fire extinguishers, mandatory fire drills, fireproofing, better egress in case of emergency, installation of automatic alarms and sprinklers and limiting the hours that women and children could work.  The disaster also brought about the forming of the American Society of Safety Engineers in October of 1911.

Tragedy struck New York City again on March 25 1990 when a jealous boyfriend set fire to the Happy Land Social Club.  The illegal club on 1959 Southern Blvd off East Tremont St in NYC had been ordered to close on Nov 1988 because of numerous building code violations.  The two story club had only one stairway that led upstairs and the fire exits had been kept locked to prevent people from sneaking in and not paying the cover charge.  It also did not have a liquor license but it was popular among the young Central American people.

Julio Gonzalez, 25, had gone to the club to try and convince his ex girlfriend to come back to him but she refused that night.  He was a Cuban immigrant that had come over in the Mariel boatlift and had recently lost his job packing boxes at a Queens lamp factory.  His long time girl friend Lydia Feliciano had broke up with him once again and refused to quit her job at Happy Land as a coat check girl.  Gonzalez stalked away and headed to a nearby Amoco gas station where he bought a dollars worth of gas.  He then took the gas back to the club, poured in the entranceway and lit it on fire.

The fire raced up the only stairway into the club while Gonzalez stood across the street watching.  He had set the fire at 3:30 am and the first fire alarm was turned in at 3:41 am.  The fire department was there in three minutes and quickly put out the fire.  They found 19 bodies in the stairwell and ground floor of the club and thought that they had found all of the dead.  They realized they were very wrong when they reached the second floor.  They found 68 more bodies upstairs, many of them crowded along the walls as if trying to escape.  many of the bodies though looked as if they had never even had a chance to move from the tables they were at.  The fire had sucked all of the oxygen from the room and they had suffocated in minutes.  Only three people had managed to escape including Lydia and the club owner's wife.

Gonzalez was arrested a few hours later and told officials why and how he had started the fire.  he had hoped that if he burned down the club, Lydia would be forced to come back to him since she would not have a job.  He was convicted of two counts of murder and felony murder for each death and received a sentence of 25 years to life for each one.  The sentences are to be served concurrently by law and he was eligible for parole in 2015 but was turned down.  It is highly unlikely that he will ever be released from prison for his crime or that the fire will ever be forgotten.  It did lead to a massive crackdown on illegal clubs within the city following years of seeing them as only a neighborhood nuisance.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sorry for what you had to do?

"We took immediate action knowing that we had to get into the house," stated Palm Bay police Chief Mark Renkins.

Palm Bay police received a 911 call from Jessica McCarty, 33, at 6 pm on March 20 2015 in which she claimed that she had killed all three of her children.  Within seconds they received a second call from Christopher Swist Sr who reported the same circumstances after Jessica had sent him texts from inside their home showing blood throughout the house.  The police raced to the home in the 1100 block of Kenmore St NW in Palm Bay FL and were confronted by Jessica in the front door of the house, bleeding and holding a knife.  The police stated that they knew that they had to get into the house quickly and fired several beanbags at Jessica to subdue her.

Swist Sr was Jessica's boyfriend and the father of the youngest child in the home, Christopher, 5 months old, and he had called the police after arriving at the home to find the baby not breathing.  He carried his son outside of the home to start CPR on him after rushing home.  The police entered the home quickly to search for the other children.  Swist stated to police that he had found his son on a bed with a cord wrapped around his throat and police found Lacey McCarty, 7 on that same bed.  She was soaking wet and not breathing and an autopsy showed that she had been strangled and drowned in a tub.  Her brother Philip McCarty, 6, was found in the corner of the living room with a cord wrapped around his throat as well.

The police had originally believed that the children may have been stabbed after confronting Jessica but that was later found to be untrue.  Jessica had cut her own wrists and throat and is believed to be the source of all the blood that was found in the home.  Lacey and Philip were taken to area hospitals and were both pronounced dead that evening.  Little Christopher died on March 22 2015 after being on life support the Florida Hospital for Children.

Police state that Jessica confessed to what she had done during her 911 call but has not made any statements since.  She was subdued outside the house and taken to have her injuries treated before being placed into custody.  She waived her right to a first appearance in court and did have an attorney representing her.  She was charged with two counts of murder at that time as well as one of attempted murder.  She was ordered held without bail and is being kept on a suicide watch.  The police expect to upgrade the charges since the death of Christopher.

It was reported that the family had moved to the quiet neighborhood about six months ago and were well liked.  Neighbors, family and friends were shocked and shaken by the events of Friday night and are at a loss as to why Jessica had not reached out to them if she was in crisis.  The police state that she did leave a journal out as well as a note addressed to her family that stated she is sorry for what she had to do.

Jessica had been investigated by DCF in 2009 because of a concern that her children were not properly supervised.  That case was closed and she had been referred to receive services from a community health provider.  It is unclear if she was still receiving services and DCF has stated that they will be conducting an investigation into the circumstances leading up to this incident to try and answer any questions people may have.

It has also been reported that Jessica had several brushes with the law in the past few years.  They include forgery, shoplifting, driving with a suspended license and in 2013 she pleaded guilty to stealing four prescription pads and passing prescriptions for controlled substances while working as a CNA.  She had been sentenced to two years community control and drug court and immediately failed a drug test.  That led to her serving a week in county jail and she followed that with another failed drug test and six months in jail.

Hundreds turned out for a memorial service that was held Monday night at the Palm Bay Christian Center that had been hastily arranged for the three children.  Many arrived to pray and remember the three little children who died as well as comfort family and friends.

The police have stated that a grand jury will hear the details of the murders on April 8 2015 and they may find out then what the contents of the three page letter Jessica wrote and left in one of the cars at the home are.  They are also investigating her recent past for indications of what may have triggered the killings.  They added that there seem to have been some recent difficulties with her current boyfriend but then, what relationship does not have some problems?

All that is really known is that three children have had their lives ended far too soon by an act they had no control over and a family has been destroyed.

Related stories on this blog:

Update March 25 2015:

It has been reported that McCarty had previously attempted suicide before this latest incident.  In 2009 she had attempted suicide after being accused of stealing her friend's credit cards.  The report from DCF states that she had admitted to an investigator that came to the home that she had taken sleeping pills and muscle relaxers before texting a friend that she was trying to kill herself.

The reports states that the children were in immediate danger but that their grandmother and father were very protective of the children.  The case was closed after the family was given a brochure and had signed a safety plan.  The grandmother had told investigators then that Jessica had attempted to kill herself twice before but that has not been confirmed.