Monday, November 30, 2009

another weekend in CT

where we stayed
getting our Xmas tree
country lane near Kent
Holiday traffic coming back to NYC, post 4 day Thanksgiving weekend. Just like the F3!

Thanksgiving - last Thursday

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day is one tbing worth seeing in NYC. Great holiday/family atmosphere and amazing bands, floats and balloons. We were late getting over there this year after running/breakfast. the first 3 photos are from last year when it was sunny but cold (like close to 0c). This year was overcast and milder (around 10C)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekend in Washington

We had a great weekend in Washington, even though Monica had the flu (not just a cold, but probably seasonal rather than H1N1). it is only 3 hours by train. Beautiful fall weather: sunny and around 15C
We stayed at a hotel at Dupont Circle, like the West Village in NYC. Saturday after lunch we walked over to historic Georgetown via Embassy Row.

Had dinner at "Cork", Washington's #1 wine bar. Sunday we went on an open air bus tour then the Mall and 2 of the Smithsonian Museums; Air & Space to see the Lunar Command Module & 'tin cans' from the Gemini program, then American History specifically to see Julia Child's kitchen from when she lived in Boston in 1960's , which is on display there.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Beethoven's Ninth at the Lincoln Center

When there is so much destruction and evil in the world, you listen to Beethoven's Ninth and are reassured by the creativity and beauty humans are also capable of. Evereyone should have going to hear it on their bucket list. We have heard it a couple of times now, at Syd Opera House, & Syd Town Hall, but this was an outstanding rendition, by the National Chorale. Also our first visit to the Lincoln Center, which is over on the Upper West Side, on W.65th & Broadway; so the quickest way to get there was walking straight across the Park

in Central Park, outside Tavern on the Green

the Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center fountain


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

End of a saga: Paul gets his NY driver's licence

2 weeks ago i became the proud owner of my NY State driver's licence (or should i say 'driver license'). it finally arrived in the mail today.

I asked a friend who had moved to NYC many years ago, "how do you know when NY is your home?" and he said, "When you get a your NYS driver license". it is also important for a number of other reasons:
* legal reasons: you are supposed to get one within 90 days of becoming a permanent resident, but I am not sure if this pertains if you don't own a car/routinely drive. i know a car-less expat been living in Manhattan 6 years who occasionally rents a car and still relies on his Victorian licence.
* valid ID for buying alcohol (over 21) [and fags, if you're a smoker]- I have been asked to show ID twice;
* car rental: no need for international driver license to support NSW one, and also getting tickets sent to right address [got one for going through an e-tag lane in NJ without paying, sent to Lane Cove],
*no longer needing to take passport for ID when flying domestic.

If you are from another US state or canada you can swap your old one for a NY one. everyone else is treated like a 17 year old. Getting the license was the culmination of a 6-9 month, extremely tedious, multi-step saga.
* Step One (February): obtain and study the 116-page driver manual. Rules, terminology and signs are basically the same but as John Travolta said in Pulp Fiction "same shit, little differences" e.g. stopping for those yellow school buses.
* Step Two (June) go to the infamous DMV office at Herald Square with sufficient ID - must produce Social Security card (Monica fell at this hurdle) and sit for written exam (pencil and paper, not computer) and get learners permit (valid 1 year, does for ID)

*Step Three (also June): attend 5 hour "driver's school": this involved physically attending the offices of a driving school in evening and sitting through 5 hours of instruction and videos on how to drive, road rage and drink driving followed by another pencil and paper test on the videos. Driver's school certificate also valid 1 year and required to take road test

* step 4: take road test (july): i fell at this hurdle: very undignifiying becuase Kate & Steve were here at the time. You have to drive around for 10 minutes with an instructor in the car (she was a bitch, and a trainee so there was a supervisor sititng in the back seat), and they have you pull out, do a parallel park, a 3 point turn, and stop at some stop signs. I did it at Riverdale in the Bronx (a site notorious for failing). you accumulate 5, 10 or 15 points for each error; 30 points or one major mistake (e.g. run a red light, have an accident) you fail. Worst possible score is 250. I got 65 points (which i am now quite "proud" of, like a naughty schoolkid).
* step 5: (October) when no longer pissed off about flunking road test, take it seriously, have some driving lessons, check out the road test venue and try again
* step 6: (November): take road test again -in Yonkers - and graduate. only got 10 points this time !

Sunday, November 15, 2009

day trip to western Connecticut

Yesterday we rented a car and drove to western CT again, less than 2 hrs from Manhattan and it is good to get out of the city and we are thinking of taking a long term weekend rental there next summer. Not a great day for it weather wise (damp but pretty mild, max around 13C) and the fall colors are past the peak, but it was fun anyway. Monica makes a weekly schlep to Union Square to buy free range eggs so when we saw these chooks we thought we might be able to get them even fresher

and lucky the farm had "cellar door" sales and these eggs were laid Friday (in fact it was on an honesty system and they were only $5/doz)

a bit further north is a cute town of West Cornwall, with another one of those covered bridges

could be in Scotland!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A week when too much sport was barely enough

On top of Melbourne Cup Night and the Yankees winning the World Series, Friday night we were at Madison Square Garden to watch the NY Knicks play the Cleveland Cavs. It was the Cavs only game at MSG for the season, so we got to see Lebron James and Shaquille O'Neal. Final score was Cavs 100, Knicks 91. The score line flattered the Knicks; they trailed by 20 points virtually the whole game.

Then Saturday morning, it was off to the Baker St pub to watch the Wallabies in their gutsy 2-tries-to-nil win over the English Lions, live from Twickenham.

Then running and cycling today. It was like September rather than November, max 19 and it was beautiful along the Hudson River cycleway...

...before mixing it with the Sunday arvo traffic coming home on 8th Ave; lucky for the bike lane, but still an adrenaline rush

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New York Yankees win World Series in Game 6

My spies tell me this may have passed under the radar screen Downunder, but the baseball season finally ended last night with the NY Yankees winning the "Fall Classic" for the 27th time, a record in "all sports" (i'm presuming they mean all US sport). while everyone here knew of it, there weren't any car horns or all night celebrations one might have expected in another city, just business as usual and on to the weekend's football and basketball games. the Yankees aren't very popular outside NYC; they are seen as cocky silvertails and are accused of having bought this title

It was great to see Hideki Matsui win the Man of the Series award (pictured above), because he scored 6 of the Yankees 7 runs in the final game. he is quite a character: japanese and speaks through an interpreter, is 35 and has such bad arthritis in his knees he hasn't run between the bases or fielded for more than 2 seasons. he just comes out to the base, hits the ball, then goes and sits down again, and he gets paid $13 million a season (about $80K a game) for doing this. the night steve and i went to the baseball during the regular season he scored the match winning home run on the final pitch of the game, so he has been my favorite player, although apparently he is being traded to Seattle.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

First Monday night in November: the race that stops a city

As long as we are here, it is the first Monday evening in November that dominates the racing calendar. Daylight savings ended last weekend so 3 pm Tuesday is 11pm monday here, and it is Monday evening that expatriate punters descend on the Winners Circle Off-Track Betting (=TAB) Lounge on 7th Avenue at W.38th St for the annual American-Australian Association Cup night, $90 a head including food, beverages, and form guide, raffle tickets extra, with a fashions-in-the- field contest as well.

In the US, it is like NZ: no bookies , all tote (but they talk in furlongs and still do the old odds like 2/1, not $3). The races were beamed in lwith the Channel 7 vision so it was odd siting here watching Bruce Macaveney et al. The Lounge is also licensed so by time the Cup came around, after 4 or 5 Coopers Pale Ales I gave up on Shocking (paying only $6 in the US) and went for a bit of value: $10 win on #16, Galleons Reach, looked lovely parading on the monitor and ridden by one of my favorite jockeys Dwayne Dunne, and paying $123 at post time. Dunny had him beautifully placed in the run (4th with cover) but he failed to see out the trip and was gone at the turn.

couple of fillies discussing the form
fashions in the field

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday drive to Kent, CT

After Yonkers, we continued on north and east and crossed over into Connecticut, the state that borders with New York on the east
the fall colors were spectacular
just out of town, there is a covered bridge over a gorge. apparently George washington's horse fell in the gorge
bucolic western Connecticut
farm house in Kent
a house in Kent

Halloween II

Sunday we went for a drive to Kent CT (see other blog) via Yonkers, to practice for my drivers license. This house was in the neighborhood. what can you say?

NYC Marathon 2009

the men's leading pack, on 59th st just coming off the Queensborough bridge, around the 30km mark
just off the pace but flying (NB feet)
a leading female, on 1st ave at 62nd
wheelchair entrant from our terrace (62nd & 1st)
2.2 km to go, Central Park (taken earlier this morning, pre-race)