I used to work in the space field when I was the operations administrator in Satellite Acquisition Services at the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing in the late-1990s. While I programmed various low-Earth orbit satellites to take pictures of the Earth, I never had the opportunity to see a launch in person. On Wednesday, however, that changed. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Travelling’
It’s the darndest thing — I was walking along the beach at Riviera Beach in Florida and I’m sure it said “tell the people I say ‘Hi'”, so I pulled out my iPhone and recorded it:
The news Thursday night and Friday was focused on one thing: the impending arrival of a huge winter storm that the Weather Channel was in full-on
“OMG SNOW IS COMING!!!1!eleven!!” mode with reporters throughout New England doing man-in-the-street reporting on the weather that was coming.
Venturing out Friday morning, I stopped at one of the many Starbucks in the neighbourhood for a hot chocolate and then headed along 42 Street to Times Square. The weather consisted of variations on sleet and small ice pellets that stung when they zinged into your face. I sipped my hot chocolate as I walked and quickly came to the conclusion that that particular Starbucks was particularly inept at making hot chocolate because while there was definitely hot chocolate in the cup, it tasted of burnt coffee. (The Starbucks in question also didn’t have a toaster, though they were selling bagels. Very odd.) After about ten blocks I ditched the mostly undrunk cup in a garbage can.
Times Square is as impressive now as I remember it being when I was last there in high school. Enormous electronic signs pretty much everywhere. People standing around gaping at everything and taking pictures. And stores everywhere.
And Weather Channel reporters doing man-in-the-street (or in this case woman-in-the-street) reporting live from Times Square.
After posing for a photo with the Weather Channel’s Stephanie Abrams, I headed to the nearby Hershey’s store where I picked up some chocolate and then went across the street to the M&M’s store for some more chocolate. The M&M’s store had a really cool machine that could print almost anything on M&M’s, so naturally I had to have a bunch of custom M&M’s printed up. It was a very clever machine because it only printed on the side of the M&M that didn’t have the M&M logo on it. Not the cheapest M&M’s I’ve bought, but definitely the coolest.
There are a few webcams in Times Square. Rob texted me directions to one he found so he could grab a screen capture of me standing in the sleet. The blue-grey painted pavement was quite slippery! If you happen to be in Times Square, you’ll find this one on the west side of tkts, under the jumbotron sign over Bluefin by the W hotel. I counted about half a dozen cameras there, so I’m not sure which camera was the webcam Rob found.
From there it was on to another Starbucks (they have free wifi so I could post pictures to Facebook) and then I made my way north, passing by the Ed Sullivan Theatre where the Late Show with David Letterman is shot.
Continuing north a couple of blocks, I eventually turned left and walked a couple of blocks west before turning right on 9th Avenue (I think) and heading north, with my goal being Central Park. I ended up at the Columbus Circle where I sought refuge from the elements for a few minutes in the shopping mall there. There was a CNN crew filming the incoming storm and the people struggling with the wind.
On my way to a nearby Starbucks (there’s always a “nearby Starbucks” in NYC), I heard the unmistakable plop of a somebody dropping a bundle of papers out of their briefcase followed by gasps from people in the area as they were blown away by the wind (the papers, not the people). Together, we retrieved all of the papers that had been dropped and took the now sodden wads back to their owner. Sadly, I think most of the papers were ruined, but I have to admit I was impressed by the response of everyone who helped gather them up. At the Starbucks I figured out a plan of attack for the rest of the day with Rob via IM and made my way to the subway station at Columbus Circle.
Catching the subway back to Grand Central Station, I managed to pick the exit that was the furthest one away from the hotel (of course!). I met up with Rob later in the afternoon at a Starbucks and we headed out to see what was still open as many businesses were closing early due to the weather.
We headed across the street to Grand Central Terminal and checked out a very interesting display on the history of the station and visited the Apple store, before grabbing a gelato from a gelato stand in the station. I saw someone from WCBS 880 radio doing man-in-the-street reporting from the main hall of the station. I’m not really sure what he was reporting on, but he was bundled up as though he expected it to start snowing inside the station.
From here we made our way to one of the Sbarro’s in Times Square where we grabbed a bite to eat before calling it an evening and returning to our hotels.
Next time: The aftermath of Nemo
New England experienced one of the worst blizzards in the last few years last weekend. Naturally, that coincided with my first trip to New York City since I was in high school.
I was supposed to fly out midday Friday the 7th, but Thursday morning I looked at the forecasts for both Ottawa and Laguardia and came to the conclusion that the chances of my flight not being significantly delayed or cancelled were extremely low. So, I called Air Canada and explored my options. I settled on the direct flight out Thursday afternoon and paid the change fee. Naturally, within an hour Air Canada posted a travel alert and instituted IROPS for people traveling Friday. (I wouldn’t have had to pay a change fee under IROPS, so I’m going to see if I can get a refund.)
Finishing up heat I was working on, I headed home at lunch, did a quick load of laundry, threw things in my suitcase and headed to the airport. I cleared customs in good time and waited at the gate for my flight.
While I was waiting, I bumped into some fields interviewers from Statistics Canada conducting an exit survey for foreign travelers. Being a Canadian, I wasn’t in-scope for the survey, so I chatted with them for a bit about the survey in general. I’ve worked for Statistics Canada for several years, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to respond to one of our surveys (except the Census, of course) and I wasn’t eligible. Figures!
The flight on Ottawa to Laguardia was just over an hour. I found myself in seat 3F, seated next to a fairly hardcore business traveller who travels about four or five months solid and then about once a month for the rest of the year. The flight was uneventful (the best type of flight), with the approach to LGA taking us down the Hudson River and past the Statue of Liberty. My seat mate and I chatted about the effect the incoming weather was going to have on the tradeshow she was going to and how when you travel as often as she did that views like the Statue of Liberty no longer make you go “wow… look at that”.
We landed and I made my way to the baggage carousel to retrieve it. Happily, mine was one of the first off the plane, so I was able to catch the next NYC Airporter shuttle to Grand Central Station, which is a couple of blocks away from the Westin Grand Central. I texted my friend, Rob, who is in NYC on business for three weeks to let him know I was en route. He met me at the dropoff point and I checked in at the Westin and we headed to Sparks Steak House on East 46th Street for dinner.
I found out about Sparks Steak House in the New York City Travel Guide app by Lonely Planet. It describes it with the following blurb:
“Get an honest-to-goodness New York steakhouse experience at this classic joint, a former mob hangout that’s been around for nearly 50 years and still packs ’em in for a juicy carnivorous feed.”
That description doesn’t do Sparks justice. We entered the restaurant and found ourselves in something straight out of the Godfather. The walls were covered in paintings, except where they were covered in bottles. We were quickly seated and given menus the size of newspapers. Seriously. The front page had the food menu, while the remaining three pages had the wine list. Oh, and there a was a note at the bottom that they had a list of wines in their wine library available upon request. We actually settled on choosing beers from their extensive list of beers. I went with a Brooklyn Lager, which turned out to be quite good.
I chose the filet mignon for the main course and Rob went with a seafood choice. My steak was amazing. Absolutely amazing. It was a very generous portion that was perfectly cooked. While I had a steak knife, I’m fairly certain that I could have used my butter knife with no problems. Dessert, while very tempting, wasn’t a possibility because I was full.
It wasn’t a cheap meal, but it was definitely worth it! If you have a chance to dine there, do so!
After a bit more wandering around, we made our ways to our respective hotels. Thus endeth Day One.
Next time: Times Square, Nemo, and chocolate.
I’m really not a morning person, and I’m ok with that. I like to travel, but I’m not a fan of really early flights. And based on the comments on some of the flights I was looking at yesterday, Air Canada knows this, too…
There are many type of hazards that can be found on golf courses. Ponds, ditches, sand traps and rocks are some that spring to mind.
While playing a round of golf at Palm Beach Gardens Golf Course this afternoon, I encountered a moving hazard on one of the holes:
It was a bit more than 2 feet long and started gently hissing when I crouched down to take its picture.
On the next hole there was another one that was 8 feet long lumbering along towards one of the ponds.
Everyone on that hole was letting it play through.