Saturday, June 30, 2007

Madness!

This afternoon, all we wanted to do was take a simple trip down to the South Street Seaport area of Manhattan--in the Financial District (near the southern tip of the island).

First, the bus took forever to arrive to pick us up. Normally, we only have to wait maybe 5 minutes max before a bus shows up. Today it was more like 15.

We get to the city OK, but then the subways aren't running properly. And there isn't a sign anywhere telling you that construction is going on, so several lines are actually closed. No, you only find out once you are ON the subway and they tell you the subway is being rerouted and isn't going to your stop!

After many strange subway changes--we probably couldn't retrace our path if we tried--we finally get down to the Seaport area. IT TOOK FOREVER!

We did our errands and then tried to take a subway back up north. No go. Subway stations were closed. So we walked to the Trade Center area and opted for a different subway line, to take us to our old standby restaurant hangout--Greenwich Village--and there, we had a nice vegetarian meal at a place called Quantum Leap.

Then we took our chances and got on the subway again, hoping it would actually take us where we needed to go: the Port Authority, where we catch our lovely NJ Transit bus. Fortunately, it did, and we were able to catch an almost-on-time bus back to NJ.

This was one of those days that took probably 1/3 longer than it should have to do what we needed to do. To top it off, Rachel got blisters from a new pair of shoes, so Mom offered to trade shoes (we wear the same size) so she could walk a bit faster. Nice mom, huh?

Fortunately, it's not always like this. But we have learned that you can't really be in a hurry to go multiple places in one fell swoop, because you just never know if the transit system is going to cooperate with your plan!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Getting better all the time

The more I ride, the better routes I find to the George Washington Bridge to easy my cycling commute to work. I wish I could do it every day, but I haven't managed to do it more than twice a week. Oh well, now that I'm past my illness - 3 bouts of cold or flu in the past month - I should be able to maintain some consistency. It takes a few minutes longer to get to the bridge - making it about 40 minutes and 10 miles from home - but the bike lanes and less traffic (and slower moving, too).

This morning's adventure is chronicled on my cycling blog, On the Rivet. I took a meandering course through space and time north from the bridge through Upper Manhattan. The photo is looking southeast along the Harlem River. That's the Bronx on the left.

Oh, Mary and Rachel went to see the ABT's production of "Romeo and Juliet" last night. I went to see the movie "Paris Je T'aime." All three of us had a great time and recommend the shows.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mary's birthday ... and quite a light show

It's about 8:30 pm, and we've just been hit--not literally, thank goodness--with a major lightning storm with some pretty hard rain.

The sky is literally lighting up every few seconds, in a way that I haven't really seen before. It's almost like giant paparazzi, and it's a strange color: sort of purple/blue/white.

From our vantage point, way up on top of a cliff overlooking the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline, it's all quite a sight--although right now, the skyline is obscured by the rain and clouds. All that's visible are the lights along the city street bordering the river and the red "New Yorker" sign.

Just saw a lightning bolt come down right around the Empire State Building. Quite a light show ... all for Mary's birthday!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Taking a short break

Mary's taking a short break from the blog--for about a week. Jeff will probably write a few entries in the interim, however, so don't leave us just yet!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The fat lady doesn't sing ...

She's just heavy!

So Mary is on the way home tonight on the bus after having a drink with some work pals. The bus is fairly busy, so a few people are standing. Mary is sitting in a seat that's facing inward--like a bench.

The guy next to her gets off the bus at his stop, and a woman who has been standing decides she's going to take that seat.

One problem: SHE IS TOO FAT TO FIT.

What does she do? She SITS on MARY!

Yes, it's true. She wedges herself in, using the left side of the bench seat to hold her on one side (there's an arm there), and part of Mary's left leg on the other. She was literally sitting on Mary's leg for the rest of the time Mary was on the bus!

Amazing. And yes, she was H E A V Y.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Quality of life ... post 2 of ?

OK, so awhile back, Mary wrote a blog entry about quality of life in SLO.

Let's start a conversation about quality of life in and around NYC. (This entry will be brief, as Mary has some work to do tonight!)

And, let's start with the positive. A short list to get things going:

  • Amazing access to an arts/music/theater/film scene that is probably incomparable anywhere in the world
  • Educational opportunities galore
  • Museums around almost every corner
  • The opportunity to view what magnificent machines humankind can create in an industrial age (i.e., mass transit and gravity-defying buildings)
  • Stunning architecture

More to come tomorrow ...



OK, here's Jeff's list:
  • Diversity in every way, races, ages, preferences, attitudes, likes, dislikes

  • Our view of humanity from our apartment

  • My job, which involves working with nice people, more pay and better benefits

  • Something going on every minute, so much to choose from, never a dull moment

  • Yes, the mass transit, too

  • The cost of living here is less than SLO, when you factor in the pay increase
  • Sunday, June 10, 2007

    What will it take?

    What will it take for our government (of the people, by the people, for the people) to listen? We spoke last November when we voted. Still, Congress doesn't listen. The president certainly doesn't listen.

    We, personally, have participated in anti-war rallies and have even flown to Washington, D.C., to protest the presidential inauguration.

    It's just not enough.

    We need to let the current crop of candidates, and the media that cover them, know that we will NOT be content with cheap rhetoric and sound bites.

    We need LEADERSHIP. What a concept.

    We need INVOLVEMENT from our populace. Doesn't everyone feel this bubble we're living in? It's absolutely palpable. To borrow the title of Woodward's book, we're in a state of denial. We hide out in our jobs that barely pay the bills, we run up our credit cards, we isolate ourselves in our cars that we can hardly afford, we live in our houses that cost too much ... and we try not to think about our soldiers over there.

    To think about all of this is painful, especially when we realize that no one in power is listening: to us, to our vote, to the signs of dis-ease and ill health that plague our country today.

    We have SO MUCH to offer the world. What will it take for us to recognize that, and take action as a people? Don't use the excuse that it costs too much, or you can't do anything because you're not Bono or Bill Gates or Oprah or whomever. DO SOMETHING.

    I, Mary, intend to tell the folks running for the highest office in the land that I WANT REAL ANSWERS. I want to hear their plans. I want to hear how they'll finance their plans. I'm going to tell them that our country's future depends on their answers. Because I'm not at all sure our country even HAS a future unless we get a true leader into office: someone who not only has vision and can offer leadership, but a plan to make it all happen.

    Here's a recent comment by Paul Krugman: "For if there’s one thing I hope we’ve learned from the calamity of the last six and a half years, it’s that it matters who becomes president — and that listening to what candidates say about substantive issues offers a much better way to judge potential presidents than superficial character judgments. Mr. Bush’s tax lies, not his surface amiability, were the true guide to how he would govern. And I don’t know if this country can survive another four years of Bush-quality leadership. "

    This is Jeff. I'll add one thing to support Mary and Krugman's point. In the second debate in 1976 with Carter, when Ford made a major mistake - I won't call it a lie, as he seemed geniunely confused - about whether the USSR controlled Eastern Europe, it was the lead story of the debate. When Romney in a recent debate said Bush went to war in Iraq after Saddam refused to let the weapons inspectors in, not only didn't the moderator or other debaters call him on it, it didn't make the follow stories in the newspapers. The truth is Hans Blix was there with the inspectors and Bush forced them out, not Hussein.

    Letting people who run for president get away with deceiving the public, much less letting the president do it, is inexcusable for the media and below the standards followed some 30 years ago. We deserve the same level of professionalism today. The times, in fact, demand it.

    Saturday, June 9, 2007

    Saturday in New York

    Today was a fun day. Rachel went to her painting class, Mary had some leisure time strolling the quaint streets of Soho, and Jeff came into the city briefly--still not feeling well--but long enough for us to see "Ocean's 13." (It was OK, but not great. Not as fun as it should have been, really.)

    Jeff went home to rest (he's still got a bad bug), while Mary and Rachel went back to the art store for more supplies for her class. Then we had a lovely respite at a place called Think Coffee, a small coffeehouse in Greenwich Village that uses fair trade coffee and donates 25 percent of its profits to various good causes.

    Then it was a quick trip to a a tiny supermarket next door to the coffeehouse for some pasta fixings, then home on the good ol' New Jersey Transit.

    This morning's ride into the city was the fastest yet. Mary and Rachel left the apartment around 8:45 and were in the city just after 9 a.m.!

    On another note entirely, Mary was struck by the sight of two homeless people sleeping on a corner in Soho, just steps away from some of the ritziest stores in the city. This is a city of contrasts and, if memory serves from an article in the Times awhile back, homelessness has hit a new record. It's easy to avert your eyes, but you still know they are there--although the homeless in San Francisco seem much more obvious and, perhaps, more plentiful per capita.

    Anyway ... Sunday will bring a trip to the Met, perhaps, and in the evening, Rachel and Mary are going to a modern ballet. We'll post a review ...

    Friday, June 8, 2007

    TGIF!

    Fun weekend ahead ... Rachel starts an art class (beginning painting), we're going to see "Ocean's 13," we're headed for Macy's and some shopping, maybe hitting a museum, and Rachel and Mary see a modern ballet Sunday evening.

    Weather should be perfectamundo, too.

    This week has had some adventures in commuting. On Wednesday, Jeff rode his bike to work and missed the excitement of the bus breaking down on the morning ride into the city (before we got to the Lincoln Tunnel). Mary made a quick decision to hop off and run to the ferry station (it was only about a 5 minute hustle from where the bus went kaput).

    Today, for some inexplicable Jersey reason, they were doing unnecessary roadwork during rush hour, so the morning commute was about 15 minutes delayed. Then when Mary went to swipe her monthly Metro card for the subway, it didn't work--so she had to buy a pass for a few rides. Luckily, even with all that, she arrived at work at 9:05. Whew! (The Metro card worked later on ... go figure.)

    Jeff wasn't feeling well so went straight home after work, while Mary met up with Rachel in Greenwich Village and had a nice vegetarian dinner at a place called Quantum Leap. Love the Village--it's the best spot in Manhattan (at least, Mary thinks so).

    Then it was off to Whole Foods in Union Square for a quick grocery run, followed by a subway trip to the Port Authority bus station and back home via the #123 bus. The trip home was FAST. We left the Port Authority at about 7:40 and were walking in the door at 8 am--even after running BACK to the bus, which was stopped at a stoplight after we got off, to retrieve one of Rachel's bags she'd left behind!

    Adventures in commuting ... TGIF!

    Thursday, June 7, 2007

    Not even a glimpse

    Mary attempted to see Sarah Jessica Parker today as she launched her new line of clothing, called Bitten, at Steve and Barry's in the Manhattan Mall.

    Alas, she caught not even a glimpse. People were lined up for autographs--very orderly, too--and then were taken someplace behind the scenes, where Ms. Parker was hidden from the crowds.

    Can't blame her for doing it this way, considering security issues and such. It's sad that we have to worry about that so much more nowadays.

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007

    Sarah Jessica Parker?

    Tomorrow at noon, Sarah Jessica Parker is making an appearance at the Manhattan Mall, just a few blocks from Mary's office. She's launching her new clothing line, called Bitten, and is going to do an autograph session.

    Mary's going to ATTEMPT to go there, although it probably would have been wise to line up like, oh, now (it's 10:30 pm the night before).

    But heck, why not give it a try? Maybe no one else knows about it ...

    Yeah, right.

    Speaking of fashion, every day is a fashion show in NYC, for better or worse--and it's truly an equal measure of both. Many women dress very, very well. Some men do, too. Others ... well, it's NYC, with as much diversity as you could ever want.

    Maybe if Mary buys a few of Sarah Jessica Parker's clothes, she'll look a bit more like a New Yorker. So far, we haven't quite reached that pinnacle--we still look a bit casual Californians!

    Tuesday, June 5, 2007

    Blue ... but not sad

    Tonight, the Empire State Building is solid blue (in honor of NYC Outward Bound).

    We, on the other hand, are not blue. Rachel is doing better--hooray--and Jeff and Mary are both getting compliments at work--hooray again--and all our kitties are healthy and happy--hooray times three.

    That is not to say we are completely settled. As mentioned in another post, the adjustment process is still under way. There are times when Mary is overwhelmed by the sound in the area where she works. It is virtually impossible to escape the noise, although she has learned which direction to walk at lunchtime to avoid the touristy crowds and find a bit of solace.

    And sometimes, the sheer mass of humanity we encounter each day--compared to where we used to live--can feel overwhelming. How many different people do we actually encounter each day? There is no way to even begin to count them.

    So, what's on the horizon ... Rachel starts a painting class this Saturday. Sunday, Mary and Rachel are going to a modern ballet performance called DecaDance. Father's Day and Mary's b'day are coming up. Later, Mary and Rachel are going to see "Romeo and Juliet" by American Ballet Theater.

    For Rachel's b'day, we're thinking of seeing a play. And Mary and Jeff's anniversary will be a special occasion: 10 years!

    There's no shortage of things to do around here, that's for sure. And Jeff found a good new bike route--lots less traffic--that he plans to enjoy on the weekends.

    It's been a rewarding and challenging experience thus far. Thanks for keeping up with our blog. We hope to keep writing them a few times a week.

    Monday, June 4, 2007

    Spring storms, umbrellas and, frankly, too many people

    Last night, a storm blew into the city and brought with it quite a bit of rain. Monday evening, things have tapered off, but Tuesday afternoon is supposed to bring another whopper of a storm.

    At least the rain has relieved some of the oppressive humidity, so that was a relief.

    But these storms cause one major problem: how to walk down the sidewalk with an umbrella. In SLO, it's easy because you see, like, 6 people when you walk down the sidewalk.

    Here, you see 6 people every second. And you end up doing an interesting dance--one umbrella to the left, another to the right, one up, one down (Mary is usually going up, since she's taller than most of the people in NYC!).

    Occasionally, the umbrellas do their own dance: a quick half spin as one umbrella hits another. A brief twirl that, with any luck, won't lead to a broken spoke.

    Frankly, there are just too many people on the sidewalk for everyone to carry an umbrella. So Jeff usually just wears a hat, and Mary opts for a jacket with a hood most of the time.

    More water, but far less hassle.

    Saturday, June 2, 2007

    Adventures in commuting

    Two strange incidents this week affected our morning commute -- one more than the other.


    First, here's what happens when you ignore the height limits, followed by the sirens and flashing warning lights and people screaming "You idiot!!", at the Lincoln Tunnel--and decide to drive your big rig all the way through anyway.

    Fortunately, this mess had been cleared before our bus entered the tunnel around 8:20 or so, although it was a slow go that day (this had to be part of the reason). The truck took hundreds of decorative ceiling tiles with it, by the way.

    One word for this guy: DUH!!!!

    Then yesterday, Jeff biked to work--the second time he has tried it--and when he arrived at the George Washington Bridge to cross the Hudson River, he was turned back, along with everyone else.

    Why?

    A guy had climbed the bridge and scaled the wires, threatening to jump. He held the cops at bay for 2 hours but was in custody by 8:30 am. Just long enough to ruin everyone's morning commute, including Jeff's--who ended up doubling back to NJ and taking the ferry across.

    Sounds like they need to install some sort of barrier on the bridge, don't you think?