warriorsavant: (Wedding/Romance)
We were almost too tired to go away but wanted to break up the period of "kids off from day care" and of winter cold. Also we'd already booked the 5 days away, so off we went. Any doubts about that's being the right decision were erased when we got to our hotel and stood on the outside walkway looking at the ocean (well Gulf of Mexico to be precise). In the warmth. Had sudden urge to change careers to "inspect sunsets through bottom of beer stein while sitting on a beach." Unlikely to actually happen anytime soon, but very strong urge. (On the other hand, summers there are unbearably hot and humid, so beginning to understand snow birds.) Since not actually moving anytime soon, do need to make sure the kids know how to skate and ski and other activities that make one enjoy winter (at least until they go to Med School at UBC (or possibly U Hawaii).

Downside was the long traveling (basically first and last day spent in transit) and that we all came down sick and spent most of the last day sitting around the hotel feeling miserable and puking. Upside was warm and relaxing and beautiful.

Impressions )

Some specifics )

L'envoi. “Goodbye ocean, goodbye palm trees, goodbye warm weather"
warriorsavant: (Springtime in Canada)
Some friends were up from NYC to visit. Their flight got delayed about 2 days. By then, should have just driven. Their first few days here, the weather was really nice. They made the mistake of mocking "Canadian winters." The next day dropped to minus-many degrees, followed by our first good dumping of snow. Being the hearty Canuck that I am, I mostly stay indoors. I'm indignant that I actually got snow on my cloths. Went over a friend's for lunch, entire family in tow (poor them). He had me park in the area under his building, which kept the snow off my car, but the ramp going up hadn't been plowed and took a while (and some shoveling on both our parts) to get out. Almost broke down and called CAA, but made it without doing so. Realized hadn't put the emergency shovel and salt back in my car since last summer ("summer" def: a short season lasting about 1 week if you're lucky).

Just got an email from NYC friends - their flight out is delayed also. They are not having good travel karma this trip.

I usually have bad travel karma, but no trips planned in near future, so the travel gods clearly have to take out their ire on people who know me. Be careful Gentle Readers.
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
As in interesting companion to my MBAM visit of last week (http://warriorsavant.livejournal.com/506792.html ), went to an exhibit of WWI propaganda posters at the NY Public Library this weekend. Over Here: WWI and the Fight for the American Mind was limited to American examples, but was more than just posters, it looked at how all manner of propaganda and mass media were used to shape and control public opinion about the war. It also looked at issues that have relevance today, including freedom of speech, xenophobia, and domestic espionage. I found it interesting that early in the War, the American public was either Pro-British/Allies or Pro-Neutrality, with very little Pro-German/Central Powers. From my modern, historical perspective, the Pro-Neutrality made more sense - the "Great War," was the dying clash of 19th century empires, and none of our business. A mix of German heavy-handedness, and British diplomatic cleverness swayed American public opinion.

Oh, I seem to have started my story in the middle. Skipping over several travel kerfuffles, I'm in NYC with Nom. Have some business to attend to. We are here without Hedgefund, which is making both of us sad. Plus we're very busy. Plus we're both a bit sick. On the other hand, we're getting in some quality NYC time, however rushed. Hedgefund is being taken care of by ông ngoai and bà ngoai, who are no doubt very happy and very exhausted right now. Hedgefund is probably partying wildly, as they are giving into to her every whim, and likely pandering to her fondness for scotch and cigars. (We limit her to one a day of each, but you know how indulgent grandparents are.)

The highlight of the trip was, of course, seeing family. Dad is doing quite well. Didn't score so well at meeting up with friends. [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67 was hors de combat (or rather hors de societé) with a bad back, and another friend was in a car accident (not serious, and did get to see him for a little bit the next day).

The other highlight was Le Bernardin, a seafood only restaurant, rated best restaurant in NYC 8 years in a row by Zagat, and a recipient of 3 Michelin Stars. Since we believe in "cheap chic," not to mention sound finances, we went for lunch. Yes, it was worth all three of those Michelin Stars. Holy taste buds, Batman, it was probably the best meal we've ever eaten (the competition for that honor being from another Michelin 3-Star, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London).

Theater. To a purist, matinées are evil and bourgeois. Tough, we went to one. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder felt like a revival of an older style musical comedy murder mystery (how many genres can you fit into one piece?), but is actually a modern show. It's a bit slapstick in parts, but very clever, and very well done. We enjoyed it.

The other bit of cultural elitism was going to the Rubin Museum of Art, which I had never heard of. Yes, even we native-New Yorkers haven't heard of every last museum in that glorious city. Small by NYC standards, but well done. Found it almost by accident, looking for things to do in a certain neighborhood, and there it was. It specializes in paintings, statues, textiles & more from Tibet, Bhutan & other Asian lands, with some emphasis on Buddhist works. The exhibit that most intrigued me was The All Knowing Buddha, which is a series of 54 paintings that are a guide to a specific type of knowledge meditation. The true understanding would only be imparted by a master to a high level student, and it was unusual to even have had paintings outlining the process. Another exhibit we enjoyed was photographs by Marc Riboud of his journeys across Asia in the 1950s.

Hit all the highlights in one short visit: family, friends (although just barely), theater, museums, and restaurants. Back to reality tomorrow, but at least it's a reality with a tiny hellion fussing, pulling my hair, fussing, and otherwise totally entrancing me.
warriorsavant: (Couch camouflage)
Nom was having weird pains and abdominal spasms. Didn't think was labor, but Obstetrician told us yesterday she was 1 cm dilated, and since the last time I delivered a baby was Med School, we hied ourselves up to the hospital to check things out. (Good thing I have monthly parking pass.) Was monitored and examined by assorted nurses and doctors, told had a "very happy baby," and sent home. As [livejournal.com profile] 11th_letter pointed out, every centimeter dilated now is one less she has to dilate during labor.

Was in NYC this weekend past to take care of family business. Well, partly to take care of biz, and partly to see if Murphy's Laws would induce labor. As stated above...nope.

Was good to see Dad and WWC, but was mostly a working trip. Did very little "NY" stuff except one really nice lunch at Gotham Bar & Grill. It is an "institution" (if one ignores the fact that I never heard of it). Apparently Pres Obama had a fund-raiser there, for the low price of $39000 per plate. WWC and I paid considerably less.
                 For starters, I had striped bass sashimi. It was served under a salad with a citrus?vinegar? dressing. That made an interesting mix of flavors, between the tartness of the dressing and the fishiness of the bass sashimi. WWC had a root veggie salad, which she also liked.
                 For main course, we both had the "risotto". Quote marks b/c made with barley, not rice. With shitake mushrooms, and diced bits of squash and brussel spouts. Usually detest brussel sprouts, but these were really good. Overall, both of us enjoyed it.
                 Dessert was very good chocolate cake, but frankly just standard, nothing you couldn't get anywhere (well, anywhere that makes good chocolate cake). That was one of the two desserts we had. The other was vanilla-mango-sorbet-meringue (or something like that). Also good, but insubstantial.
                 Also tried the ginger beer. (Non-alcoholic) Spicier than you would like, but I enjoyed it.
                 Big open room, with sort of art deco decor.

Also got to see my cousin, who I haven't seen in quite a while. He picked me up at the airport and took me to WWC's, where all of us including Dad, had a good chat.

The travel gods were kind to me, but my anti-technology field was in full force. First the Nexus lines weren't working to go into US. (Nexus is a US-Canadian program to pre-screen travelers to shorten customs lines.) Then several self-service machines refused any credit or debit cards, then Nexus wasn't working coming back into Canada. Then half the parking lot gates weren't working.

Office as usual, bit of teaching this AM, no kids yet present chez nous. No doubt when they (well, she) arrives, in our household all the women will be strong, all the men good looking, and all the child will be above average.
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
- Flight delay. "Only" an hour and a half. And they didn't have any customs declaration cards. Or a jet bridge. Still, home is home.
- Screening. There are levels of pre-clearance. Since this is a bureaucracy, it is hard to determine what and if I qualify. I have some pre-clearance, need to see if can get more cleared (more pre-?) and shorten lines some.
- Airport food. Nicer décor, same bleh food.
- Home to my honey, who fortunately hadn't fallen asleep yet.
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
Nom’s working this w/e; I’m down here to help WWC do some stuff for Dad.

Long and busy day. Got up early. Not so many people at the office, but disproportionate number of stupid ones (*whine*). After that met with a young recent Derm grad who will be coming in with me part time. Up ‘till now I’ve had my little shop in the marketplace, just me and ES. I want to make something bigger, but more on that another time. It was a good meeting; we’ve been talking for a while, but today finalized details.

Got home, did some admin stuff, and hurried out to the airport. Then the usual travel stuff happened for good, bad, and indifferent:
Bad - spent the entire drive in rush hour traffic, so the trip took 3 times as long as it should.
Good - my timing was impeccable to arrive just in time to check in for my flight.
Bad - except the flight was delayed over 2 hours.
More bad - got hungry at the airport and ate junk food and feel gross.
Good - our approach was wide, low, and slow over NYC, and I got a glorious view of all five boroughs, lit up at night.
Both Good & Bad - typical NYC taxi driver. Got to hotel in a timely fashion; driving not for the faint-hearted.
Not really Good or Bad - long day, very, very tired by the time I got to the hotel and was ready to bed down for the night. There was a knock on the door just as I was about to go to sleep. A totally stunning woman was standing there, wearing a skimpy, star-spangled outfit with a long cape.
   “I'm here to offer you SUPER SEX.”
   “*Sigh.* Lady, I’m tired; I’ll just take the soup.”
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
Had a Derm conference, a.k.a. a tax-deductible chance to visit my family (yes, I really went to the conference too). It was sandwiched between two other things, so made for a quick trip: only 1 show and 2 museums; not even enough time to round up the usual suspects. Nom was disappointed she couldn't join me, but it's "that time of month." (She's a corporate accountant and it's month end. What did you think I meant?)

Click here for fascinating details )
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
All transportation had gone well for most of the trip, planes, trains* and automobiles**. Really, surprisingly few problems on any of my recent trips. Clearly the travel gods thought I was overdo for a good one, so threw some thunderstorms our way. Yes, Entire Northeast US, the miserable weather was directed at me personally.

Since Monday was a holiday in Canada***, we planned to spend a full day in NYC Sunday, then catch a late flight back to Montreal and still have a day to rest. This was a very full and active trip, and as I get older grayer wiser, I realize that going full tilt from busy vacation to busy work week is a bad idea. Anyhow, the taxi dropped us off with plenty of time to make our flight. Plenty of time, as the flight was cancelled and we were rebooked for the next day. We spent a futile hour or so at the airport trying alternative flights and airlines and airports. We tried on line, by phone, and in person. No go. Finally accepted the next day flight with good grace, and found a nearby hotel. (Well, moderately good grace. Okay, bad grace, but at least didn't stand in the middle of the terminal and scream like a madman.) Had considered renting a car, but would end up driving back to Montreal overnight, getting in at 3-4 AM. You remember that “increasing wisdom” thing?

Had a decent night’s sleep, then got to the airport. The flight wasn’t cancelled, only delayed for 1-1/2 hour on the runway, and bumped through turbulence the whole way. *Sigh* Am home now. Will get some relaxation time before having to get ready for work tomorrow. On the bright side of the delay, under IATA rules, if the return home of your birthday trip is delayed, you get to continue to celebrate your birthday through the day you get home, so Happy Birthday Again/Still to Nom.

It was a great trip: spent time with Nom, with family, with friends; saw two museums, two Broadway shows, one Shakespeare in the Park, and one parade; ate in 2 really good restaurants and several decent ones. Sweet dreams, Gentle Readers, and Happy Canada Day.

*well subways
**rental cars and taxis
***Canada Day
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
Yeah, I'm a little behind on the postings. I was rather busy :-)

Friday night (continued) )


Saturday. Bar Mitvzah )


Sunday )


Kerfuffle )
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
Our story thus far: our hero is in NYC, visiting family, en route to a conference in Miami, where he will be joined by the smart and lovely Nom.

The pros (so far): saw Dad and WWC and oxymoron67. Dinner at Pylos, a Greek resto, followed by dessert at DiRoberti's. Pylos isn't Milos (in Montreal), but what is? Except for that, better than most other Greek restos at which our hero has eaten, including several in Greece. We started with a pre-appetizer of pita bread and a something to spread it on, followed by an appetizer of pita bread and three other things to spread on it (taramosalata, baba ganoush, and tzatziki). For a main course, we split pistachio-crusted fish and shrimp and sea scallops. The company, of course, was superb, with conversation ranging from linguistics to travel to family to history and several others.

The cons (so far): travel kerfuffle. Starting out leaving my office in a snowstorm, walking to the airport 5 miles, uphill... Okay, drove to the Montreal airport, which is where the fun started. They've revised the access to the airport and the airport parking from merely confusing to massively foolish, with signage that required careful analysis to be that incompetently placed. I managed to find the multi-stage parking. I thought I'd be stuck parking on the roof (if I'm paying extra to be the actual parking garage, I don't want to return from a trip and shovel out my car). Silly me, they were much cleverer than that. They waited until I actually was about to enter the garage to inform me it was full. Had to exit the airport and come back in to get to the outdoor, far away parking. Was worried that the shuttlebus would take so long that I'd be tight on time for my flight. No, they were considerate enough to delay the flight 2 hours. Sigh, at least the limo was waiting in the pick up area in NYC. And again, silly me. There are two pick up areas. One is for picking up hot, randy women; being the great b.f. I am, didn't go there, but did take quite a while to find the limo. Returning to LaGuardia airport the next day, had to wait on a line to wait on a line for security check (a pre-line?). At least they seem to have renovated he departure lounge quite nicely.

NYC 4

Feb. 4th, 2013 08:23 pm
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)

New York vignettes:
   Subway ads   Lots of public service ads, some private ones, and a few of those are very clever. Often they will buy all the space on a given car. One had a bright orange sign over one seat "this seat reserved for a person in a very good mood."
   Flyer flyer   Smaller restaurants and other local businesses often have bulletin boards where you can post flyers. One was for "the flyer man." For a small fee, he'd post flyers for you.

Grand Central Station   Celebrating its 100th anniversary. It's a beautiful building, right in the middle of midtown. When its predecessor, Grand Central Depot, was put up in the 1860s(?), it was at the edge of town, where it wouldn't bother anybody. The city expanded around it, the tracks were buried, and the newer building was created. It's still being expanded, but even deeper underground. Hope no monsters as they dig down. WWC and I went to see the small exhibit they had, and also just to celebrate the centennial of this landmark building http://www.grandcentralterminal.com

Big trains, little trains   From GC, went to N. Y. Historical Society. Only in NYC would this be considered a "little museum." They had an exhibit of antique toys, especially trains from the 19th & early 20th century. They were true works of art. It was on the 4th floor, where I'd never been. It's a rather eclectic floor, with small but excellent collections of not only toys, but also furniture, tools, common objects with old advertising (e.g. paperweights), and Civil War artifacts. It is what my den/library looks like, expanded 100-fold.

Family & food   In the morning, WWC & I went to Bluebell Diner, our local fav. They don't do anything so special, but they do the basics very nicely. That night, were going to see the current Lincoln movie, but Dad was feeling poorly, and we wanted to stay with him. Went out for dinner later, but most places already closed (late Sunday night). The Italian place run by the Indian people was closing, so we spent a bit deciding between the Polish resto and sushi. I love this town.

Last day   Had reservations at Nougatine. Got there, and they were very unclear on the concept of customer service. Had reserved via restaurant week special for lunch. "Sorry we don't serve lunch at this hour." Their breakfast menu was nothing that you couldn't get in any diner in NY for 1/2 the price. The manager couldn't get the concept of 'you screwed up, dissatisfied customer, figure out something to make him happy.' Went back to Bluebell Diner, which restored my mood. Was going to see a museum* but the one I wanted was closed on Monday. Frustrating AM. In a way it was good, as I had a chance to look in on Dad again.
   And..... a travel kerfuffle   Required gate check "carry on." Cargo door on plane froze, so couldnt unload them in Montreal. After almost an hour wait, they announced that anyone who didnt want to wait further could have their bags delivered. Ran around getting all the forms signed off (including customs), came back, and they announced the door had just been unfrozen, and they were now unloading our bags. First time I spent more time delayed in the arrivals terminal than I spent on the flight.

*Was trying for 3 museums in 3 days, planning on growing up to be [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67. Really though, he is a Past Grand Master of museum geekdom; 7 in 7 days is more his style.

NYC 2

Feb. 2nd, 2013 10:33 am
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
Hotels. Add to list of corporate swine in the travel biz. Medium priced chains give good value, including free WiFi. "Fancy" hotels charge extra for that and everything else (the latest is charging a "resort fee" on top of the advertised room rate). Am at a nicer hotel bc got a good rate on hotels.com. They made me an offer: free WiFi if I skipped housekeeping services one day. Since I manage to survive my normal life w/o daily maid service (eg don't need fresh towels every day), I accepted. WiFi really doesn't cost them anything, even underpaid maids do. (Excuse me, "entry level job housekeepers.") BTW I really don't need my bed made up so tight I can't even get into it.

Video Ads Everywhere. Really tempted to carry cardboard and tape and cover up those annoying screens in elevators, taxis, etc. Time for the citizens to fight back!

Money & Travel. US$ historically and iconically green. Canadian bills, although all the same size, and same size as US bills, are different colors. However the 20$ happens to be green. Accidentally tried to pay for something with a CAN$20. "Sorry sir, we can't accept this." Took me a moment to realize what the problem was. At home I have a drawer where I keep my passport and other useful travel things. It also holds my US$, plus some left over Euros, Pounds, and Yen. Makes me feel cool and very International Traveler and James Bond. (Ha! That Bond fellow only wishes he were me.)

Weather. Freaking cold here. I mean, I headed south. Why isn't it as warm as Hawaii? Oh. Right. Only a few hundred miles south, not a big difference, and the weather network got the forecast wrong. Grrr. Okay, I'm a hardy Canuck and all that, plus can wear two shirts.

Family & friends. All status quo. Dad pushing 91 and still with us, probably thanks to WWC taking care of him.

Food. Restaurant week in NYC. Nom found that out for me, even if not here this trip (*snivel*). Did take pix of the food for her.
   Morimoto for lunch. Rival to Nobu. I think I like the Nobu slightly better, but only slightly, and at Morimoto got to watch the sushi chefs at work. Had the prix fixe (restaurant week special) lunch, which was great (will post menu later), but then got greedy and had extra shrimp tempura, which was also great, but ate too much.
   Restaurant Marseille for dinner with WWC and friends (my former XO and his wife). Also part of restaurant week, and also very good. Realized was part of a group of similar restos; ate at one nearer WWC once before, but this one better. I was bad b.f. and forgot to take pix except desert ("just can't get good help these days.") After the meal, they did offer a 38 year old scotch for $59 a glass. Was tempted just to say I tried it, but got a grip on myself and went with a cheap glass of Calvados instead.

Museum. The USS Intrepid, and old aircraft carrier, is moored in NYC and has been turned into a floating museum. Had fun seeing it. Not emotional like Pearl Harbor was, and I've been afloat on a working carrier, but fun, especially some of the aircraft. First, the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane. Fun to pose in front of, because for years was super secret. You could see one take off, have pictures of it, and the air force guys would look you right in the eye and deny it existed. Second, Concorde SST. Had to pay extra to get on that, but waaayyyy cheaper than a ticket to actual fly on one when they were in service. Both planes are marvels of engineering, and beautiful enough to be works of art.

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