Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Two Women Preachers on the Staten Island Ferry


Next door : The Kid from Brooklyn on the Bay Ridge Blog!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

WTC: Helicopter Ride Around the World Trade Center

Helicopter Ride

I found the below video on Google Video, with the following text: " The summer before the Sept 11 attack on th World Trade Center, Jody shot this gyro stabilized helicopter footage of the twin towers. He was ... doing a corporate video for a company destroyed in the 9-11 attack. I was in NYC at Magnetic that week, I remembered that I had the WTC footage and set it to Madonna's the power of goodbye. The video became a healing image of a world past. It was played at the Concert for New York and was used by the Port Authority Police to honor their fallen. Harry Douglas

Harry and Jody: thank you. It was good seeing this.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Remember those who serve, and who have served.

Photo taken today on Ovington Avenue, between Third Avenue and Ridge Boulevard, in Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Homeless and the Tourist- Waikiki

The Homeless and the Tourist, originally uploaded by ZenzenOK.

This sad and wonderful photo, by zenzenOK, was found in Flickr. He writes "as seen Saturday morning during the March of Dimes' WalkAmerica event in Waikiki~ Mayor Hannemann walked right by them."

There is an astonishing number of good photos on

Any bloggers out there who need a free, shared " stock photo " for a posting can often find one there that can easily be added to blogger.

If you like photography, time spent on flickr is well spent.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Yankee Game Tonight

Derek Jeter, originally uploaded by Cools Pix.

Going to the Yankee game tonight. Its threatening rain, but I think they'll get the game in.

The opponent is the lowly Kansas City Royals, who have lost thirteen games in a row.

The Yankees have, at $194 million, by far the highest payroll in baseball. The Royals, at $47.2 million payroll, have less than 25% of the player resources that the Yankees do. Which means that no matter how good a job the Royals do at managing their resources, they cannot possibly compete against teams like the Yankees.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there were great Kansas City Royal teams, lead by the great third baseman George Brett. They won the World Series in 1985. It will never happen again.


1205am ( Saturday )

The rain that was predicted arrived late. It snuck up on us in the fifth or sixth inning, chasing the fans in unprotected seats for cover. Steve, Katie and I were in the loge section off third base. They're protected by the deck above, so we were fine.

The rain intensified. They used to suspend play in heavy rain, but they play through it now. It's the only way the owner/player money machine can be sated. If the fans don't like seeing the game played as a travesty, where batters squint to see the ball through the rain and the fielders slip in the grass, that's too bad. Don Fehr and Bud Selig do not feel the fan's pain.

After sizeable puddles had formed in the dirt part of the infield, they did suspend play in the middle of the ninth. That's when we and many others left. This was clearly going to be a long delay, so we headed to the D train and the long ride back to Brooklyn.

Play had just resumed when I arrived home, over 90 minutes after we left. In a stadium now very wet and nearly empty of fans, the Royals got a double-play to end the game. The KC Royals had won a game after 13 straight losses, in the mighty Yankee Stadium. Good for them.

This game saw Derek Jeter get his 2000th base hit. It was a squib fielded by the pitcher, who threw it over the head of first baseman Mientkiewicz.

This is Fleet Week in New York, an annual event wherein US and other naval vessels visit New York for a week. For the sailors, its a big party. There were many of them at the Stadium in their dress whites. They received a very warm reception. Their money is worthless in any NYC bar this week.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

World Trade Center

World Trade Center, originally uploaded by henrygkuo.

henrykuo posted this on flickr.

He says " I've never seen a shot of the World Trade Center towers taken from this angle. I wonder why. I think it's pretty darn cool. This picture and the others of the World Trade Center in my photostream were taken sometime between 1998-1999. For this photo and the other one just like it, I just walked right up to one of the towers, looked up, and this composition was just right there."

Henry, thank you. Very nice shot.

Yankee Stadium Express?

crazy train #2, originally uploaded by Leadershipper.

Is this a real train? Got me. I saw it on Flickr. With blue Yankee Stadium type seats, all it needs is a peanut vendor and a beer man, and I'll start riding it all the time.

Raccoon Lodge

Raccoon Lodge, originally uploaded by Manzari.

Does this mean I can't go to the Raccoon Lodge anymore? Can't be. There must be periodic visits to the Raccoon. I may be thirsty later on this week. May have to take that slow train to Warren Street.

Good job Manzari

Monday, May 22, 2006

Youtube and Hitler

Youtube is a California-based website that allows users to upload, view and share video clips. Its an amazing place. Wikipedia reports that 35,000 videos a day were uploaded this past April.

They feature a few videos a day on the main page, or you can do a search using your keyword (s) and you can see what's up from your town. Or your subject, focused or free association can lead to interesting stuff from the vast library. I found a few humor videos on...Hitler.

There's a mock Hip Hop Song ( " I'm no longer a Nazi but I like to party" ", some lyrics offensive. Another version here

Also Hitler singing the YMCA Song

Home movie of Hitler's career, including " Mein Kampf " as an Oprah Book of the Month selection.

and the king of them all Hitler in England with Monty Python. An insanely brilliant John Cleese plays Hitler.

Don't know what this means. The Fuhrer lives on, as the star of a thousand comedy videos.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Barry Bonds (*), BALCO and Baseball: The Needle and the Damage Done

The Truth

Major league baseball has a long, long history. The National League was formed in 1876, the American League in 1901. The sport at a major league level has existed for 130 years.

For the serious fan, there's pleasure in knowing the " all time " records established over this long history. For decades, Babe Ruth's record of 714 home runs stood for 38 years until the Babe was surpassed by Hank Aaron in 1973.

Yesterday, surly outfielder Barry Bonds (*) hit his 714th Home Run. If you accept it as a real home run. For years, there have been suspicions regarding Bonds' use of steroids and other fine products of the laboratory.

The Fraud (*)

Now, this chemically-enhanced bum will forever be in the record books as having the same number of home runs as Babe Ruth.

Shame on major league baseball, and on its players union who have both protected the druggies for decades.

Congratulations to the great NY Post for a front cover that captures what every sports fan in America has been thinking.

BALCO and the worldwide drugs-in-sports industry may be happy with what has happened, but sports fans are very unhappy. Barry has supposedly tied the Babe. Noone believes it, but that's what the record book will say.

The record book is forever tainted. That means that the sport is forever tainted. Take a bow, Barry.

The Sultan of Swat

Saturday, May 20, 2006

London - London Underground vs New York Subway

I'm a mass transit geek, and one of the things I always pay close attention to is the mass transit system a big city has. London and New York both have great subway systems. But there are many differences between them.

The Underground is by far the oldest of the systems. It commenced service, as the private Metropolitan Railway, back in 1863. This was the same month in which Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, as the Civil War entered its second year.

The New York Subway is a comparitive baby. The first underground section of the New York subway opened in October 1904, the same year the Trans-Siberian Express opened. Like London's system, it began as multiple private systems that have long been brought into a government run system. How do they compare today?

Airport Service
London Airport Service
The Underground's Picadilly Line has served Heathrow Airport since 1977. It will take you right from the terminals into the center of town.

There is a faster Heathrow Express service. Its not part of the subway, leaves every 15 minutes, and takes you to Paddington Station in town in 22 minutes.

There is no underground service to Gatwick Airport. There is a fast train service though. TheGatwick Express
, similar to its Heathrow counterpart, leaves every 15 minutes and can take you to town ( Victoria Station ) in 30 minutes.

New York Airport Service

While London has more airports ( besides Heathrow and Gatwick, there are commercial flights out of Stansted, Luton, and City Airports ), New York basically has three- Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia, and Newark Airports. The New York Subway does not directly serve any of these airports. London wins this competition hands down.

JFK Airport
There is better service than there used to be, I will give them that. You can take the JFK Airtrain for $5, which can take you to a connection at either Howard Beach's A Train or Jamaica's E/J subway. It works for thrifty travelers like me, but it involves two trains to get to NYC, and that's one too many.

Newark Airport

You can take a NJ Transit train from NY Penn Station to a the " Newark Airport " station, but you must then change to the Newark Airport monorail. The monorail runs frequently, but the NJ Transit service is not that great. In the evening, there can be 45 minute gaps between NJ Transit trains. There is no dedicated place for airport passenger luggage. The service basically sucks and has not attracted large numbers of passengers.

LaGuardia Airport
You can take the N subway to the temptingly close Astoria Boulevard station, but must continue the trip on the M60 bus. Supercheap, aince this counts as one $2 or less fare, but not a good option if you have any luggage to speak of.

Advantage: London, hands down.

Fares and Fare Collection
The base fare of the New York subway is $2. The base fare of the Underground is 3 pounds, or $4.50 ( not a misprint ). Both can be reduced significantly by discounts, but London is much more expensive always.

New York's $2 fare applies to a journey of one stop or a long journey from Coney Island to the Bronx. The Underground has up to six zones, which are unduly complex. If you go from zone 1-6 on a weekday, the fare can run from 2 pounds to 4 pounds depending on whether its a weekend or not or how you pay. I like New York's simpler approach. One city, one fare.

How to Pay Your Fare / How You Buy Your Ticket
New York
New York got rid of its tokens a while back. Now, almost all travelers will pay with a MetroCard, an electronic card that you swipe through a reader that usually works but does not always.

You can buy a MetroCard at a " token booth " from a person at a " token booth " at most stations, but there are more and more automated machines that are very well designed.

After you swipe your ticket, no worries. You don't have to do anything when exiting the system.
They are transitioning from a paper ticket system. You can buy a paper ticket that you enter into a turnstile when entering the system. When you arrive at your destination, you enter that same paper ticket in the turnstile reader, which captures your ticket and lets you out.

The new Oyster Card is held over an electronic reader at your station of entry, and above another reader at your destination station. You don't touch anything. New York is believed to be moving to a similar system.

You can buy a paper ticket or an Oyster Card from an attended booth, or from a machine. There are long machines at the manned booths. And the automated machines are not as well designed as those of New York's.

Advantage: New York. Simpler fare system. Always cheaper. Better vending machines.

To be continued tomorrow. This subject is more complicated than I thought!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

London - Speakers Corner

London Trip 044, originally uploaded by Phantom Photo.

Tree near Hyde Park Corner, Hyde Park, London.
Sunday, May 14, 2006

I checked in to the hotel. It being a Sunday, I knew that they'd be out at Speaker's Corner. It walked down Picadilly ( Street ) and into Hyde Park. Despite the fact that there is supposedly a drought in England, the grass in these adjacent parks could not have been greener. The wonderful smell of healthy, growing grass could be sensed across the road.

Speaker's Corner is a designated area at Hyde Park where public speaking has been allowed since 1855. Usually, its not run-of-the-mill public speaking. Extreme views proliferate. When I first visited, over 20 years ago, I saw a number of crackpots, including one guy who wanted to revive the British Empire, in its entirety, including re-establishment of control over North America. What would I find this time?

The first speaker I encountered was this guy. He was very critical of suicide bombers in Israel. Fine, I'm critical of them myself. But his criticism was not that they were blowing up the Israelis. He said that he understood that completely. He didn't like the fact that by blowing themselves up, each operation was of necessity a one-off deal. Better, he said, to plant a bomb and hightail it out of there, so as to preserve the right to " fight " another day.

The old Muslim vs Christian debate. But this one's peaceful. The Christian speaks from the Bible and is challenged by the Muslim guy. A few minutes later it was reversed. Good-natured challenges to one another's statements.

Did I mention that I joined a new religion when I was over there?

Wasn't quite sure what this guy's gig was. Maybe I will find out the next time.

Speaker's Corner has been around for over 150 years. Check it out the next time you're in London.

Tomorrow: NYC Subway vs London Underground

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Letter from London

Well, its not really from London. Its about London. The city I just visited.

I would have posted a message from there but the dial-up connection was terribly slow, and I was too thrifty to pay the 15 pounds a day or whatever it was for a high speed connection at the hotel.

I took Continental Airlines No. 28, Newark to London Gatwick the other night. The flight was late taking off, but otherwise uneventful, it you don't consider the cow in front of me who reclined her seat as far as it could go. Not good for my 6 foot three inch knees. I rattled her seat pretty good every time I got up to express my thanks for her courtesy.

Night flights to Europe are pretty cool. You take off in darkness, then the long pre-dawn, then the dawn, then full-fledged morning as you arrive. Immigration and customs at Gatwick was fast, efficient.

I took the very good Gatwick Express train into town. It costs 25 pound r/t, which is not terribly cheap, but it is worth it because it leaves every 15 minutes, and runs fast right into Victoria Station, right in the center of south London.

I needed to take the Underground ( subway ) one station to Green Park station. The ticket area at the Victoria station was a crowded mess. I waited on line and asked for a " carnet " of ten tickets, and I had done on the last visit, but the guy at the window said that they didn't sell them anymore. I could buy a single ticket for three pounds (!) or I could buy an Oyster Card, an electronic ticket that can be recharged. When you pay with the Oyster Card, the single zone fare is one pound fifty pence, about $2.80, which is no bargain either, but which is better than the alternative.

You pay a deposit of 3 pound for your Oyster Card and then can recharge as needed. I could have sold it back to them today, but I kept it, as I plan on returning to London and it is a neat souvenir.

Londoners complain a lot about their Underground. But I have never had a bad experience on it. The trains run very frequently, and they have nice cushioned seats, should you be lucky enough to get one.

I took the Victoria Line one stop to Green Park, schlepped my gear to the Athenaeum Hotel, and crashed a bit. Later, I went down to Speaker's Corner.

I must depart now, because as on Sunday, I'm pretty beat.

Tomorrow: Speaker's Corner

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hi from London

Greetings from London. This visit is far, far too brief, but it is good to be back. A very focused business trip, which means any significant comment, as significant as it gets here, will be made upon my return to Gotham City.

Suffice to say that its good to be back and that I wish I could stay longer.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

WTC and Other Memorials

Today's NY Daily News has a story about the floundering effort to raise money for the WTC Memorial. " Five Blunders that Plunged the Memorial Into Crisis ". The reasons stated are 1) errors in the time of the fund-raising, 2) budgetary carelessness, 3) developmental problems and infighting, 4 ) no star power to attract donors, and 5) lack of a leader to take charge.

I don't doubt any of this. But my problem with the memorial is a more fundamental one.

The proposed World Trade Center Memorial, and the other alternatives that were considered, were for large and expensive facilities. I question this. Not the need for a Memorial, but for such a large one. There is talk that the WTC Memorial could cost up to $1 billion. That's far too much.

A larger memorial will not make for a more vivid memory of what happened in 2001, not for me. If the memorial were to be one-tenth of the size, I would still think of that day often, and of the friends we all lost.

I don't like the idea of this memorial, or the one proposed for Shanksville, PA being large tourist destinations. The magnitude of what happened in NY, and of the large number of tourists that we see makes it unavoidable here. Tourists come to the WTC site every day, even now when it remains just a pit. When the large Memorial is there, I could see that number going up ten or twenty times.

There was great heroism that took place that day, and that's a huge story. But the essence of what happened was a mass murder. I want to remember it all, the heroism and the horror. Rick Rescorla, and the poor jumpers. The FDNY and the no good sons of bitches who hijacked the planes. I don't need anything to do this. And a far smaller memorial would have suited me fine.

Shanksville, Pennsylvania is in a rural area. There will be a memorial there. I am afraid that the memorial will be proportiontely large for such an area. It will attract tourists, and I could see that changing the character of the area. When I think of a visitors center, and hotels, and people selling " Lets Roll " t shirts, I am sickened. I think that the best memorial to the brave people on that plane who saved so many others would be a small, simple, spare memorial.

There will be more large terrorist acts in this country, and there will be more heroism in response to it. Will we build memorials to all of them? The best memorial is in our minds and hearts. I don't very much need big memorials of steel and concrete and finely-polished marble.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Lower Manhattan Construction Boom Begins Soon

  • Today's New York Post has an article about a construction blitz that will commence over the next two years. In the next six years, that's $20 billion worth of projects, which includes:
    The Freedom Tower, to be completed in 2011
  • The 9/11 Memorial, to be completed in 2009
  • The new PATH train terminal, for trains to New Jersey, to be completed in 2009
  • The Fulton Transit Center, which will connect various subway lines, to be completed in 2008
  • The new Goldman Sachs headquarters, to be completed in 2009
  • The demolition of the gloomy Deutsche Bank tower, to be finished in 2007
  • A new boulevard by West Street, to be completed in 2007
  • Five new residential buildings to be built in ( the lovely ) Battery Park City,
  • An East River Waterfront Project by an old ferry terminal, to be completed in 2009
  • The South Ferry Terminal Expansion, to be completed in 2007. South Ferry is where the big ferries come in from Staten Island. The bulk of the new terminal is already open. It looks great. What remains to be done is the underground connections with the Number 1 subway line, that begins at South Ferry and runs all the way up to the top of Manhattan, under Broadway

Lower Manhattan will be one massive construction zone. It will be a huge, noisy mess in a couple of years, but I cannot wait until it begins.

My company has announced that it will be returning to lower Manhattan in 2007. I'll be there to see all of this. See you in lower Manhattan.