Wednesday, January 20, 2010

[nyc] Times Square

No visit to New York would be complete without an evening spent in Times Square. And no part of Times Square is more iconic than its high-tech billboards. "Look, my little children, at the amazing billboards! The M&M's! The Hot Wheels cars! The..."



Maybe there should be a prime-time each evening when the billboards are family-friendly. Late-night billboards can come out after that.

Speaking of M&M's, there is a three-floor store at the north end of Time Square devoted exclusively -- all three floors -- to merchandise featuring the-candy-that-melts-in-your-mouth-not-in-your-hand. I kid you not:

M&M Store

I had no idea there was so much M&M merchandise available.

And no evening in Times Square -- no matter how cold it is -- is complete without protesters:

Gaza Protest

Next up, my final post of pictures from my New York trip: The skaters at Rockefeller Center.

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[nyc] High Line Park

If you want the full scoop on Manhattan's newest park, the High Line, you can start by clicking here, and remember, Google is your friend; but here's the Cliff Notes version:

As hard as it may be to believe with today's real estate prices, there was a time early in the previous century when there were stockyards, slaughterhouses, and meat packing plants in Manhattan. They were connected by a private rail line that ran up the Lower West Side, carrying carcasses and killing the occasional pedestrian in the process. In the 1930s the pedestrian count got too high, and they decided to elevate the train tracks. The trains ran until the early 1980s, when Manhattan became too precious for meat packing, and the elevated railway was abandoned. In the 1990s, it was going to be torn down, but some enterprising souls had an idea: Turn it into an elevated city park! And today it's the High Line.

The whole idea is just so cool, we had to check it out.

It was cold. Cold, cold, cold. But that didn't prevent some New Yorkers from... er, sunbathing?

Catching Rays?

The lounge chairs are actual rolling stock that can be run up and down sections of the old train tracks:

Rolling Stock

How cool is that? Here's Judi trying it out:

Judi Catching Rays

Here's a view of the park:


Here's a view from the park, of the Empire State Building:

Empire State Building

Park benches:


Next up: Times Square!

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Progress Achieved, promise made

Northern bro.

I have to say up front this entry has nothing to do with politics. Instead I reflect on Christmas carols. Evelyn, our three year old (with considerable prodding from my wife) really got into singing Christmas carols this year. I’ve got to say, there is nothing like hearing your three year old belt out O Little Town of Bethlehem or Jingle Bells. However, after dinner when we move to the living room for a little family time (which is before pajama time, which is before reading time, which is before bedtime) her favorite song to listen and dance to was ….. Snoopy’s Christmas. As it turns out Linda has a CD that has all three songs from the Snoopy vs. Red Baron saga and as far as Evelyn was concerned these are simply different parts of one long song.

So I had the opportunity to (or was cursed with, depending on your perspective) listening to these three songs many times this holiday season. I must say it was a mixed experience. On the one hand, as a history buff I am glad that Evelyn has learned the name of her first historical character, Baron Von Richthofen, hence the progress achieved. On the other hand what she has learned about this character was the sworn enemy and later the friend of a shootin’ beagle. Oh well, I guess you have to start somewhere.

There are several verses to this saga that I have forgotten from childhood. For instance, I did not remember that in the second song Snoopy has forced Red to land and is getting ready to finish him off. The dog also lands, jumps out of the plane and approaches his enemy who ‘fires a shot and turns to run before Snoopy has a chance to raise is gun.’ You know, I never thought of Snoopy packing before. At first the thought was disturbing until I realized it explained two things. It explains why Charlie Brown put up with so much from the dog. Second, I always wondered what Snoopy carried in that briefcase in the MetLife commercials. Now I know it was probably his Glock. Only later did it occur to me to wonder if Snoopy was the only Peanuts character to carry a sidearm. Did Schroder keep an M16 in his piano?

On another note, Good King Wenceslaus was also a favorite this season. This went over much better for me as it is one of my favorite carols. But here is the promises made portion of this post: If I am ever granted the superpower of the Good King (apparently his feet could warm the ground “Heat was in the very sod that the saint had printed”) then I will use that power to fight crime. Not sure yet exactly how that will work.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Now that's embarrassing

ESPN Radio has taken over a station in my area. I'm not much of a sports fan, but sometimes I like to listen to talk radio, instead of music, and ESPN is loads better than Rush. Anyway, I heard both of these gems on ESPN Radio on the same day:
"You can't see the forest through the trees."
Yes, there's a forest over there, but you wouldn't know it because some durn fool went and planted trees.
"You don't wanna know what skeletons they're going to dig up in his closet."
For some reason I always thought that ESPN personalities were pretty well paid, but apparently this one is so destitute that he lives in a house where the closets, at least, have dirt floors. Here I am a lowly computer programmer, and even I live in a house where the closets have carpet-over-concrete floors.

But these aren't what's embarrassing (the title of this post). No, what's embarrassing is this: I was checking my server logs, and found that someone had come, not to this blog, but to one of my trip albums over on, by searching Google Australia for the string "i undressed to my boxer shorts".


Really. You can try it for yourself:

In my defense (such as it is), the passage that the result links to was meant to be innocuous:
I think I've mentioned how hot it is here [St. Maarten]. You can only wear an outfit once -- it gets so soaked with sweat, it's toast after that. To wit: By the time we got back to the resort today, and I undressed, my boxer shorts, clean that morning, had a solid white stain at inch high all the way across the front, where they crease while I'm sitting. It was salt. From sweat.
Still, embarrassing.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

[nyc] Chinatown

Lots of pictures in this one!

We decided to take a walking tour of Chinatown. After much looking online, I picked this one, which turned out to be great: Chinatown Walking Tour Map - New York Chinatown Map and Guide. I strongly recommend this guide if you want just a walking tour (and not a culinary tour).

Two surprises were (1) that the oldest cemetery in New York (1683) is in Chinatown, and (2) that it's Jewish. The First Shearith Israel Graveyard:

Shearith Israel tombstone

If you click for the larger image, you can read that Josaih Ellis died on October 8th, 1798.

Next up is a meat market whose window is plastered with posterboard in Chinese -- I assume cuts of meat and prices:

Shop Window

It was really, really cold during our walk. About halfway through, we were looking for a place were we could warm up and drink some hot tea. The tour recommended the Golden Unicorn, so we dropped in. The Golden Unicorn is a dim sum establishment. We asked for only hot tea, but they rolled the cart over, and we were intrigued, so we ended up trying a few baskets. The food was excellent. A bigger challenge was that Judi's mother had never eaten with chopsticks, and Judi hadn't in a very long time, and had lost the knack. It came back to her, though:

Judi eating dim sum

Until she got really good at it:

Judi, mistress of chopsticks

They did not offer us forks, by the way.

In case you ever need any tasty hand-pulled noodles, this is your place:

Tasty hand pulled noodles

Purportedly New York's first dim sum parlor -- you can't read it even in the larger version, but the date painted on the window is 1920:

First dim sum

I'm not sure what role this life-sized plastic Homer Simpson plays in Chinatown, but there you are:

Homer Simpson in Chinatown

Perhaps if this blog has a visitor who can read Chinese, he or she can interpret the placard in Homer's armpit for us.

Here are Judi and her mother standing on a streetcorner waiting for the light (I made it across before they did). Notice how they stand out against the dark-clad natives:

Judi and her mother on a streetcorner

This bike, chained to a lamppost at the end of the Manhattan Bridge (the Manhattan end of which originates at the edge of Chinatown), memorializes a bicyclist who was killed on the Bridge:


It seemed fitting.

An intersection (nothing more):


The tour ended at the Mahayana Buddhist Temple -- the largest in Chinatown, according to the guide. That was very interesting (and another chance to take a break from the cold). I hadn't been in there very long before my Reiki "turned on" full blast. There are a number of altars, each different. Here's one:


Next up, the High Line Park!

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

[nyc] Rooftop Gardens

Every time I stay in a big city -- one with tall buildings -- I never fail to find rooftop gardens. It seems ubiquitous that some city residents set up gardens on the roofs of their buildings. I find them fascinating. We weren't very high up in our hotel, but here are a few rooftop gardens that were in view:

Rooftop Garden

Rooftop Garden

This isn't a garden per se, but it's my favorite: A square of fake grass, a table, an umbrella, and four chairs. It would have been interesting to see people seated around this table, except that it was the dead of winter:

Rooftop Garden

Next time, a terrific tour of Chinatown.

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