August 02, 2005

Some initial impressions of NYC

(I finally got some wireless access so I can post this from a couple days ago...)

Pittsburgh airport was a breeze. From kissing Barb goodbye to my gate was ~25 minutes. I was a little surprised they made me take off my Tevas at the checkpoint, but whatever.

Flight was fine. For some reason I was a little nauseated and my brain kept spinning incomplete scenarios of doom, but that sounds worse that it was. I think that's a consenquence of getting older (at least for me).

Grabbing a bus from the Newark airport to Manhattan was surprisingly easy. The line I rode goes to Penn Station, Grand Central Station, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The latter was only four or five blocks from the hotel, nice. It took a while to get there (~1+ hours) and we seemed to go through some interesting neighborhoods -- roads that didn't really look like a bus should be on them with parking on both sides -- but it was fine. Only $13 vs the $60 a taxi would apparently have cost.

Walking past the army guys at the bus terminal with rifles - yow. I guess you get used to it, but guns like that are shocking if you don't see them in real life. You'd think that with all the violent movies I've seen it would be different.

The conference sent two or three notices to us about the crazy (but cool!) elevators. Instead of hitting up-or-down and walking on the first one that arrives, you enter your destination into a keypad which tells you which elevator you'll use. Eventually it arrives and knows which floors it should stop at. Seems more efficient and has worked well so far. But are people really that dumb that they need to get forewarning about this? I think it's more that they don't work so well, much worse than you'd expect since they can forecast usage better.

The hotel is charging $13/day for internet, bastards. Maybe they'll have wireless at the conference but I'm not holding my breath -- it's not a geek conference. It's one with people who don't mind sticking their company for $13/day for something that should be free. (Update: fortunately intel is sponsoring a "wife cafe", which is just an access code and an area, no coffee or anything. Hooray intel!)

I haven't been in New York since 1987 or so, when I visited the NYU campus to see what it was like. (I can't remember now if I applied, got accepted and didn't go; applied, got rejected and didn't go; or didn't apply.) Most of what I remember was Washington Square and some guy getting $15 from me at the train station for a "prepaid" cab ride. What a sucker I was (am).

Sunday evening Andrew, Lisa and their friend Jenny showed me around. We met at Union Square which I reached by subway. (Piece of cake, partially due to Andrew's directions and partially because subways are all alike.) We walked all over the place which was great. It's something I'd do if I were by myself except I was with people who knew their way around and had interesting stories about places we saw along the way. Many of which started with, "N years ago there's no way we could walk around this neighborhood" and had somewhere in the middle, "and now it costs [some exhorbitant amount] to live in a studio here." Eventually we went to dinner at a southern place I cannot remember the name (Old Devil something?) but it had BBQ tofu, great cole slaw with cilantro and excellent tangy mac and cheese.

One of the things we talked about Andrew and Jenny's project management book which I'm really looking forward to. I've been not-so-diligently reviewing chapters and what I saw looked great -- very practical, not pie-in-the-sky.

More soon, including photos...

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