Saturday, November 30, 2013

#507 - Funny picture

Street art on Broadway and 23rd (Madison Square), in front of the iconic Flatiron Building...

Friday, November 29, 2013

#506 Belated Happy Thanksgiving

It was yesterday (Thursday). We didn't go to the parade - too cold and Xavi not really into Spiderman or Buzz Lightyear yet. We went and played in all the autumn leaves later in the afternoon. Monica baked a turkey roast in the evening.
Thursday's NY Times editorial: There may be a stranger at dinner today — the friend of a friend, the brother of a daughter’s roommate, a business acquaintance stuck in town, someone who reminds us how expandable this close-knit holiday really is. And there will surely be someone missing for whom we keep a place set in our thoughts. On Thanksgiving Day, we sit down with the memory of everyone who has shared this holiday with us, and perhaps with an unexpected stranger, the person who helps us tell this one Thanksgiving apart from all the others. This has always been the day when the folding chairs come out, when we look for the extra leaf for the dining-room table. Nothing ever seems to run short, except perhaps for the whipped cream. It’s as though we cook in expectation of the stranger who might turn up or the great-uncle who came just once. Everyone goes home with leftovers, a Thanksgiving meal in miniature, the cranberry sauce on the mashed potatoes, the pumpkin pie cheek by jowl with the turkey leg. It may be clearly established who gives the toast and who carves the roast turkey. You may know perfectly well which of the pies will be the best, reflecting the pride of its maker. It is pretty plain who will do most of the cleaning up. But the one thing you never can tell is how Thanksgiving Day will end up feeling. Some years it has been a Sunday dinner writ large, and in others the grandest of feasts. There have been Thanksgivings too moving for words, when it seemed as though everyone ate to contain their feelings. And there have been Thanksgivings that have ached with loss. That is the nature of this day, the only holiday that seems to ask us how we feel. Nobody says outright, “Are you thankful?,” the way they say, “Are you full?” Yet the question hovers, even unasked, awaiting an answer. We somehow assume that the gratitude we feel on Thanksgiving applies especially to the larger items in life. But it applies to the smallest, too — to the things we can barely number because we take them for granted.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

#505 - day trip to Bergamo

After completing the walking tour of Milan on the Tuesday, on the Wednesday (Nov 15) we took a local train to Bergamo, about 50 km (30 mi) NE of Milan. As our Italy Walking Tours book by Earl Steinbicker says, Bergamo "is another one of those marvelously preserved medieval hill towns" and "makes an easy and satisfying day trip from Milan". He's right. There is a modern lower town and an ancient walled Upper Town, where most of these pics were taken. It's accessed by funicular, which Xavi loved. in fact there's a 2nd funicular to ascend to the S. Agostino neighborhood, for a panoramic view of the Old City. Some unmissable features of Bergamo include: the Rocca Fortress and war memorial, Piazza Vecchia nd the Palazzo della Ragione, the Colleoni Chapel and the Accedemia Carrara

Monday, November 25, 2013

#504 - very cold in NYC

It has been very cold in NYC since Saturday, below freezing the whole time with the "Real Feel" more like minus 10-15C especially in the wind. Certainly the end of the growing season! Bad weather in the Northeast is predicted to affect Thanksgiving Day travelers on Thursday, just like in "Planes Trains & Automobiles" which we will be watching once again on Wednesday night (being broadcast on PIX Ch. 11). This has become our Thanksgiving tradition. Here's the final few minutes of the movie, if you haven't watched it in a while. RIP John Candy (Double click on the video to get the full screen picture...)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#503 - Ciao a Milano!

Hi! here is the next post on our trip to Italy. These are the sights of Milan: the Duomo, the Galleria, La Scala, Castel Sforza, Santa Maria della Grazie church, where Leonardo's Last Supper (Il Cenacolo) is located - painted on a wall in the refrectory - San Agostino basilica, Villa Necchi, the Old Market and to cap it off a Cinquecento in via Stendahl

Saturday, November 23, 2013

#502 - where were you on November 22nd in 1963?

Flags in NYC (like this one in Madison Square Park) are at half mast this weekend, as they are across the country, to make the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination yesterday. Aside from the airport, JFK had many ties to NYC and as this article from the paper yesterday indicates, NYC is claiming him as their own. "For all the images of JFK sailing off Cape Cod, lounging poolside at Palm Beach or delivering speeches in Washington or Berlin, it’s worth recalling the significant ways in which he was a New Yorker. He didn’t just live here for years; in many ways, his intellectual heart was here. In 1927, when the future president was 10 years old, his family moved to the Empire State from the Boston suburb of Brookline, Mass. After two years at 252nd Street and Independence Avenue in Riverdale, the family moved to 294 Pondfield Road in Bronxville, their home until 1942. Yes, Kennedy spent some of these years away at boarding school (Choate) and at college (Princeton, then Harvard), but New York was home. The ties to the city remained as Kennedy became a congressman, senator and president. A family office in Manhattan handled his personal expenses. He kept an apartment at the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side, using it for pre-inaugural meetings and, by some accounts, assignations. His tailor, hatmaker, even his dentist were all in New York City, and he visited all three before the inauguration. As president, he celebrated his 45th birthday with an event at Madison Square Garden (where Marilyn Monroe offered her famous salute in song), and his 46th at the Waldorf-Astoria. After the assassination, his widow Jacqueline moved to Fifth Avenue and his brother Robert became senator from New York. His White House aide Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who’d been a professor at Harvard, decamped to the CUNY Graduate Center; another close aide, Ted Sorensen, also moved here as a lawyer at the firm Paul, Weiss. But the association between JFK and New York City went beyond the personal. He connected with the city as a financial capital whose economic vitality was a source of strength for an America locked in a Cold War battle with the Soviet Union. When President Kennedy wanted to make the most detailed and emphatic case for his tax cuts as a means to economic growth, he came to the Waldorf-Astoria and spoke to the New York Economic Club, where he delivered a speech still quoted on Wall Street. And he was a philo-Semite, as president OK’ing a pioneering arms sale to Israel and taking up the cause of oppressed Soviet Jewry, so Kennedy must have appreciated New York as a Jewish city. He built a close friendship with the Yiddish-speaking anticommunist labor leader David Dubinsky of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and in the closing days of the 1960 campaign he spoke to separate rallies of both the ILGWU and its rival, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers. The city helped to put New York state’s 45 electoral votes in Kennedy’s column, providing the winning margin in the close 1960 election. And the city’s openness to immigrants and outsiders also surely resonated with the pro-immigration Kennedy. He’d written a book titled “A Nation of Immigrants,” and while campaigning here stressed his opposition to a Nixon-backed immigration law that had favored immigrants from England at the expense of those from Italy and Eastern Europe. It was the city’s openness to newcomers and minorities that had attracted Kennedy’s father here in the first place. Joe Kennedy reportedly described WASP-dominated Boston as “no place to bring up Catholic children,” and lit out for New York by private railcar shortly after getting blackballed at the Cohasset Country Club, south of Boston. So it’s fitting that the most prominent Kennedy memorial in New York City is John F. Kennedy International Airport, where, 50 years after his death, new waves of immigrants arrive daily. Today’s newcomers are more likely to travel here by plane from Pakistan or Phnom Penh than by private railcar from Boston. But surely some of them, or their children and grandchildren, will flourish just as the Kennedys did — welcomed into a New York City that, now as then, greets migrants with unsurpassed opportunities."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#500 - Hi from Milan

Seeing as Jenny P. inspired us to start the blog when she and Stephen S. visited in Jan 2009, it was only fitting that the 500th post should feature our vacation in Milan last week to visit them. The three of us had a great time with them, as these couple of pictures show (both taken on our side trip to Verona) - more to follow...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

#499 - how a pro runs a marathon

Thanks to everyone for their kind words about Paul's Marathon. Yes it was a great effort, finishing in the top 1/3 of entrants and most people wouldn't even drive that far (and at 10 km/h, was probably faster than driving on the M5 on a Friday afternoon), but the Tracker really showed what a dumb race he ran. This is the winner's graph (Geoffrey Mutai from kenya, bib #1), the complete inverse of Paul's. Clearly a change in race strategy is required!

Monday, November 4, 2013

#498 - after the marathon - the tale of the worm

Ok so this is the graph from "Track My Runner". The black is Monica's friend Nikki who ran a perfect race in 3:36. The blue is Paul who ran like an idiot. Out too fast, then eased back to the right pace, then hit the wall with 10 km to go and died over the final 5km
Here's Paul passing by near our apartment at the 16 mile (approx 25km) marker, still looking quite fresh
Some other abiding memories of the day: the cold, the security, the packed course, the atmosphere, the finish, the medal (not worth it)
i did 3:55, aged 55. How did Col do 2:55 aged 60?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

#497 NYC Marathon

NYC Marathon tomorrow and Paul is running it. Probably his last. Weather is forecast to be cold and windy, not conducive to a good time. Here's a video to get you in the mood. Double click on it to get the full screen.

Friday, November 1, 2013

#496 - NY Subway video

Courtesy of Katie. Ripped off from another blog called Cup of Jo. Sorry if you can't see the whole frame but if you double click on the video while playing, it should go to full screen Coincidentally on this day (November 1st) in NYC History: in 1918, 97 passengers were killed and more than 200 hurt in the worst subway accident in city history, when a train smashes into a tunnel wall along the old Brighton Beach line. The accident occurs when an untrained motorman who had crossed a picket line to fill in for striking train workers loses control of the train near the Malbone Street station – now the Prospect Place station on the D and Q lines. See also Post #490 last month

#495 - Happy Halloween

Yesterday was Halloween. Their preoccupation with zombies and the concept of trick-or-treat seems completely toxic to most Australians we know. But we discovered that its one redeeming feature is the adults having a party and buying or making a fancy dress costume to wear to it. Xavi did look cute in his dinosaur outfit and had his first "candy" yesterday ( a mini Kit Kat)
Trick or treat! Paul's Captain America outfit was a Large, but turns out it was a children's Large even though he got it from the adult's rack in the costume store. He's shopping on line next year!