About Tristan Hallman

Tristan Hallman is a reporter based in New York City. He has interned for The Dallas Morning News Washington bureau, The Texas Tribune, Gannett Washington Bureau and the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News Austin bureau.

Bronx community rallies around post office

West Farms residents say the postal service’s threatened closure of their post office is an unfair attack on their community.

The post office is one of 17 in the Bronx — more than in New York’s four other boroughs combined — on the U.S. Postal Service’s list of some 3,200 possible post office closures nationwide as it tries to close a $9 billion budget shortfall. The postal service blames increased competition from e-mail and private shipping companies.

But residents say the post office is vital to their community. They argued that they wouldn’t have an alternative within walking distance. The next closest post offices are both across major highways.

The residents also said the area is experiencing an economic renaissance, which would be threatened by the post office’s closure. The area is already home to the Bronx Zoo and the Bronx River Art Center, which is undergoing a $7 million renovation.

At a recent town hall meeting, residents and local leaders made their frustrations known to postal officials.

Shorter commutes mean happier people

Shorter commutes mean — surprise — happier workers.

The average of respondents in an unscientific survey of 26 respondents said the shorter their daily commute to work, the more satisfied they were.

For the most part, a shorter work preparation time — the time from the bed to the door — also correlates with more satisfaction with the commute. The exception is that the people with a work preparation time of more than an hour-and-a-half said they were pretty satisfied with their commute.

People who said they rode the bus or walked or biked enjoyed their commute the most. Taking a train or driving a car was the least satisfactory commute. However, driving — like riding a train — is traditionally designed for commutes of 20 minutes or longer. Walking, biking and riding the bus are usually for shorter trips.

Disclaimer for the visualizations below: the raw numbers of people who take each type of transportation was not included. Because this survey is unscientific, that data is irrelevant because those factors depend on where a person lives, the availability of public transportation and a whole host of other factors for another time and possibly for the Department of Transportation to figure out. What matters is how it correlates with satisfaction.

Type of transportation, commute times and satisfaction

Satisfaction of commute with preparation time for work

Tristan’s Social Media Diary Post

Dear Social Media Diary,

I found Facebook and Twitter to be the most effective tools in getting my survey out to the “masses.” I can’t say that my survey was a wild success. But I did get some positive responses.

What I found to be most interesting was that most of the people who ended up taking the survey are acquaintances of mine. By posting on Facebook, my closest friends were the most likely to see the survey and most likely to help me out by taking it — or so it seemed. Most of my best friends avoided the survey like the plague. It was actually people I hadn’t talked to in years and people who I didn’t believe would ever be interested in taking a survey who clicked the link and followed through. The lesson? People surprise you.

I posted my link on Facebook three times. The first two times, about 10 people took the survey. The third time, almost nobody did.

Then I went to Twitter, and got about five more people to take the survey (this information via Bit.Ly). Then I posted again, but nobody clicked on the link that time around.

Many of the people who follow me on Twitter are strangers, so I wasn’t expecting a big return. Twitter also moves very quickly and with a lot of competition. Unlike Facebook, which allows a few hours or even days for something that is posted to sink in, Twitter demands immediate reaction. Everything has a short shelf-life.

I decided against putting my survey in any online group. Since Facebook and Twitter are my two primary online communities, I believed I would be treated like a spammer if I waded into someone else’s group and posted a random survey. After all, there is a reason there are research groups that pay people to take surveys.

That’s all for tonight, Social Media Diary, but let’s talk again soon, K? K. Gotta go to Smock’s class now. I hope he shows us that picture he took of Kanye West again!


The Migliucci man and Mario’s Restaurant

Joseph Migliucci is a restauranteur, a cook, a host and a repair man. But, most of all, he’s a family man.

Migliucci owns Mario’s Restaurant in the Bronx’s Little Italy on Arthur Avenue. The restaurant has been in his family since 1919. Though he employs a staff that includes his children and grandchildren, Migliucci does a little of everything. He cooks, cleans and does repairs. He seats customers. He helped remodel the restaurant himself.

The restaurant has been featured in a scene in HBO’s “The Sopranos” and in Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” (the book — Migliucci’s father turned down the movie because of the violence in the proposed scene). The walls are filled with pictures of celebrities who have eaten there.

Migliucci himself is something of a celebrity — there are also news clips on the walls about his restaurant from over the years. But he says it’s not about him — it’s about his customers.

eBay opens new store for window shopping in New York

Online retailer eBay is taking window shopping to another level with a new storefront that opened Thursday night in Manhattan.

The new store, on Park Avenue and 28th Street, is meant to blur the lines between online shopping and the traditional brick-and-mortar store shopping experience.

There is actually nothing in the store — it’s all windows and no sales desk. But, on the corners of each of the three window displays, there are three QR codes — for motors, fashion and electronics — that can be scanned by smart phones. The codes bring up a mobile eBay website so that window shoppers can purchase what they see on the spot on their cell phones.

The website enlisted the help of designer Jonathan Adler and other celebrities — such as fashion designer Betsey Johnson and actress Molly Sims — to decide what should go in the windows. Adler and Sims both attended the opening event.

But the storefront is only temporary. It’s a marketing ploy for now. In three weeks, it will be gone.

Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for eBay, said the company will be exporting the idea to other cities at this time.

Miller talks about how the storefront is part of a larger consumer ad campaign.

Ebay Store 1 by tristanhallman

Miller talks about how eBay’s sales are moving toward instant purchases and away from auctions.
Ebay Store 2 by tristanhallman

Miller talks about the “blurring of online and offline commerce.”

Ebay Store 3 by tristanhallman

Ambi Track
Ebay Ambi by tristanhallman

Fledgling martial arts school owner does business his way

At age 30, Joseph Lupo decided it was time to fight his own battles. So he started a martial arts business in Whitestone, New York.

“It was always a dream of mine,” Lupo said. “Little kids grow up and they want to be firemen and cops. Me? I wanted to be a martial artist.”

One year later, Lupo’s school, New York Black Belt Center, now boasts 125 students. He said flyers and word-of-mouth are his only two means of advertising.

Lupo has to compete with having two other martial arts schools in the same area. But his school also has one distinct advantage – his father’s reputation among potential customers in the neighborhood.

“My father used to teach their parents, now I teach their kids,” he said.

But Lupo doesn’t just teach kids. He teaches adults too. And it’s a full-time job. Every weekday, Lupo comes in at 10 a.m. and leaves around 9:30 p.m.

Plus, he teaches all of his classes. He won’t let anyone else — except his father.

“When you have one leader, it creates better technique,” he said. “It creates better harmony within the school.”

Lupo said he saw the effects of disharmony in the martial arts business after a rift between his father and his father’s business partner led to both going their separate ways.

He said he has black belts in his class who are capable of teaching, too. But he said he strongly believes that there should only be “one chief” and “lots of Indians.”

Stress and the commute to work in New York

most intense morning commute ever: got heel-picked in the ankle and closed in on by a subway door. wowza.

For New Yorkers with jobs, the toughest part of the workday might be getting to work.

A recent IBM survey shows that the pain of the daily commute for New Yorkers is more painful than in recent years, Bloomberg recently reported. In fact, 23 percent of survey respondents in New York said they would rather be working than being caught in traffic. That is more than double the percentage that said they’d rather be at work in the survey last year.

And New York is a city full of commuters. Roughly 2 million people take public transportation to work in New York, according to the 2009 American Community Survey.

That commute isn’t always brief or pleasant. For those who take public transportation to work, increased traffic or delays mean showing up to work late or missing quality time at home. That can also mean more stress before the workday even begins.

The Centers for Disease Control, which puts its employees to work studying the work-related stress of others, reports that stress leads to increased risks of illness, dysfunction and disease, the CDC adds.

A number of health groups offer stress solutions. The Mayo Clinic, says to exercise, rest, and take a few breaks here and there. If there is time between work and the commute, that is.

Some New Yorkers have also found another outlet to express their frustrations: Twitter.

The latest annoyance stated by commuters on Twitter is that teens — who have started up high school again — are crowding the subway and making the commute more difficult. Other popular topics include being angry and disliking other people on the subway or on buses. (But at least the subway trains are a lot cleaner and more graffiti-free than they were in the 1970s, based on a photo gallery of images from that era.)

Via Storify and Twitter, the story of the New York commute to and from work on Thursday after the jump. Tweet about your own experiences by tweeting with an #nyccommute hashtag.

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Covering the coverage: New York media previews of Obama jobs speech

Hours ahead of President Barack Obama’s jobs speech, which he will deliver in front of Congress and the nation, the reporting from the New York press is already mostly negative.

The New York Times posted an analysis of the tax cuts included in Obama’s plan, calling the extension of the payroll tax cut “primarily defensive” since it is simply continuing the status quo.

The New York Daily News blared out on its front page that Obama’s jobs speech is “Do or die” for his presidency. The article

The New York Post published a short story saying that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are “dubious” and that the White House is on the defensive.

The Wall Street Journal’s preview focuses on the message Obama hopes to convey — urgency — but mentions that The White House doesn’t expect Congress to adopt all of the proposals in the speech.

Some were more positive, but still focused on the do-or-die angle of Obama’s speech. For instance, The New Yorker’s John Cassidy wrote, “Confronted with the deepest economic slump since the nineteen-thirties, any President would have struggled.” Yet, he immediately parsed that statement with “Still, to put it gently, Obama’s public utterances haven’t always helped him.”

The media is ready, and the people of the nation await. Unless, of course, they’d rather watch football.