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Belatedly, as I left three weeks ago.

* Many of the subway trains are this strange magical thing where the cars are hooked up like an articulated bus, and you can easily walk from one and of the whole train to the other without opening any doors. I am told this is standard for modern trains. Boston and NYC are not "modern".

* No ads on those new trains, or even space for them, except for a little electronic display next to the map.

* The greenhouses in the Botanical Garden are pretty neat, and membership is cheap -- CAN$20.50 one visit, and CAN$45 for a year's membership, I would totally get one if I lived there.

* It's not just the milk; all the grocery store cheese is labeled with the percentage of milkfat. Given the French roots, I don't know of this is more so you can avoid it or so you can seek it out.

* There were at least two bakeries, with fresh croissants, within 5-7 minute walk of where I was staying. OTOH at least one of the Large Supermarkets had rather meh bread selection.

* There was a macaronic and cheese restaurant, 'Macbar'. I had unkind thoughts about Quebec crossing French language and English cooking. This is the province whose special dish is fries with gravy and cheese curds.

* The steaks I bought from the markets came out pretty awesome.

* Canadian customs was a lot faster and more efficient than US. And somewhat friendlier. At least the Canadians didn't tell us they would confiscate a cell phone on sight. Entering the US we stood in line for over 10 minutes while "Agriculture" combed our bus thoroughly.
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* The weekly metro pass runs Monday-Sunday, not 7 days from purchase. Oops.
* The subway is every 5-10 minutes from like 5am to 1am. Beats Boston or even some NYC lines. The buses, though... I was deceived by staying near the 24, which does run every 10 minutes until 9pm, but most other lines seem more like 20-30 minutes.
* Supermarkets seem scarce, though I did find one today. (A proper one. Google Maps calls various things "supermarkets" that are lame corner/convenience stores.) It has many varieties of brie and Camembert for sale. Lots of smaller stores, quality ranging from "seriously meh" to "ooh, nice produce!"
* Apparently no whole milk, just 0, 1, 2, and 3.25% fat.
* Yogurt without gelatin! ...not as good as TJ/Strauss "European style". I may try "Balkan style" after I finish this one.
* Montreal has Uber and no Lyft, and no UberPool. I'm told Toronto has Lyft, I forget if it has Pool.
* My front door is literally flanked by maple trees.


2018-Oct-14, Sunday 19:55
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In Malden. Not too exciting. Yesterday I saw a "Mountain Park" on the map, right behind my house. It's a decent size but doesn't seem to have trails, just one driveway up to the peak. That was surprisingly busy at dusk: some public library reading even, and amateur astronomers setting up. I thought about staying but had Urgent Shopping Plans.

Which were to go to the nearest Trader Joe's, in Assembly Square. That's part sad imitation of a real city, right by the T stop, and part giant parking lot and mall. TJ is beyond the parking lot, and despite all the space it had, somehow felt anemic. Still, I got stuff, especially cheaper nuts and cheeses and frozen shrimp. Which I cooked today, my fanciest thing since going nomadic.

My 'roommates' still haven't figured out how to turn off the shower without the water running, after two weeks. Nor how to get out without dumping water on the floor, or the poor mat on the floor.

I've had five hosts so far and not one has provided a washcloth.

TJ has started selling nuts in re-sealable bags. Yay!

The Orange Line seems less reliable than I recall from last year; there seem to be a lot of unexpected waits at stations.

MTA vs. Boston

2018-Sep-30, Sunday 19:27
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Obvious: many more lines, more frequently.

Lots of schedule complexity; supposedly people actually are addressing the "MTA falling apart" problem, but in the short term the solution for that (closures, rerouting, and delays) looks much like the problem (closures, rerouting, and delays.)

No phone signal in the tunnels. OTOH, wifi. It wasn't that solid the one time I tried and I didn't need it, plenty of reading material on my phone. Though it'd be good when you need to re-check your navigation, or communicated with people (via something other than SMS.)

Lots of different car types, none with a simple printed line map as are universal in Boston cars. Some did have an electronic line map that shows where you are and where you're going -- very nice, if you're in the right place to see it.

I never noticed the announcers announcing the wrong station, as is ubiquitous on the Boston red line.

Fares: in Boston, it takes 5 round trips for a 7 day pass to pay for itself, or 4 if you're comparing to using CharlieTickets instead of CharlieCards. For a monthly pass, 19 or 16 round trips. In NY a 7 day pass needs 6 round trips, and a 30 day pass 22. Also, the 7 day pass expires at midnight, whereas Boston passes are timed so you get a full 24x7 hours from first use.

last day in NYC

2018-Sep-29, Saturday 22:15
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Technically that's tomorrow, but I'm just getting put on a bus. Well, putting myself on a bus. Anyway, today is my last full day this trip. And it started out sucking! Loud party nearby, vibrating my room to 4:30am. So that was a thing.

I figured I would go to the Met, but when I got to Central Park, the day was *perfect*. I decided the Met is always there while the weather will be changing (sometime...) and I should enjoy the outdoors.

There's an Ancient Playground, which is basically a playgound in "ancient" style. I would have taken a photo but I was self-conscious of photographing lots of kids. And it's easier to link to someone's else's photo anyway.

Then I found myself trapped on the 86th transverse, which is a road, with sidewalk... and no escape for pedestrians. Or if there is one, it was blocked off by police for some big Global Citizens concert, which was disrupting much of the park even when I finally did escape (by walking *all the way through* to the west side.) I'd found the Ravine last time, but it might have been walled off today. Then again...

Central Park keeps confusing me. Lots of twisty paths, few maps, and the maps don't show you where you are on the map. At least the Ramble Path ones don't.

Anyway, I did have fun, but it was annoying too.

So, next. I grew up reading Calvin Trillin's food humor essays, in which he extols Katz's Deli, and Russ and Daughters. He was writing in the 1970s but these are still around! Or things with their names are, anyway. Russ was closed but I went to Katz. It's big! And busy! And... expensive! $23 for a pastrami sandwich! I don't know if their pastrami is supposed to be that good and expensive -- and their roast beef, and their bologna -- or if they're just milking popularity. I let myself be milked.

It was... okay. I'd be hard pressed to imagine a sandwich that I could agree was worth $23 -- wagyu beef, maybe. I'm not sure this was even the best pastrami I've ever had. It was different, almost like chunks of beef, vs. thin sheets or basically shredded. And there was a lot of it. But, eh. It came with two kinds of pickles, I assume the small dark tasty one was kosher dill, don't know about the bigger bright green one.

Oh right. Outside the Met I'd had a hot dog from one of the ubiquitous food stands. Then I saw a Nathan's stand so had a Nathan's dog, plus fries. The hot dog was definitely different -- thinner, firmer, different flavor. Maybe better. The fries were bland and almost wet inside.

Man, this sounds like I'm raining on NYC, or at least its institutions. But I've had fun. The ferry was cheap and fun. Dim sum yesterday was great (good, and also a bunch of things I hadn't seen before). What little I saw of the AMNH was great. I know the Met is good. And probably better on a weekday with fewer people in it...

What I really miss getting to is the Bronx Botanical Garden. But it's like 1.5 hours from where I'm staying -- or an hour via some Harlem train that runs once and hour -- and I didn't feel I left home early enough to make the trek worth it.


2018-Sep-26, Wednesday 15:24
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There are so many little deli/convenience stores near each other, sometimes 2 or 3 on one short block. Weird. Also the supermarkets are either one-off or small chains I don't recognize: Associated, Key, City Fresh.

Met DW:conuly a three days ago, that was fun.

Explored Bedford area of Queens, and south Brooklyn, took the south Brooklyn ferry north and saw the Statue of Liberty, far off like a little action figure. Nighttime perspective was weird, it *felt* closer.

Otherwise been working, haven't seen much. There's a nice Japanese restaurant right across from me, with cheap lunch specials -- even cheaper because the price includes sales tax! When I first walked in it was playing "Auld Lang Syne", which is what Japanese stores play at closing time.

Bronx Zoo and stuff

2018-Sep-20, Thursday 18:38
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Went yesterday.

Biggest zoo in North America, one of the biggest in the world, must be awesome, right? Actually my impression was that it doesn't have more exhibits than other large zoos, but has more space for them. So six giraffes can probably go hide from each other, and there's a big paddock for a breeding herd of Pere David deer, and the House of Birds keeps going though the second floor aviaries aren't actually that big, but there are two of them, plus a separate large aviary for sea birds, and an aquatic bird house...

Wednesday is "suggested admission" day, which probably increased the crowds; that's why I was there! Some things like gorillas and butterflies you need a full ticket for -- *that* was discounted too, down to $15, but I figured there would be enough free material to fill my 3.5 hours, since I left home late.

The Pere David were a soft spot for me. A childhood book was Gerald Durrell's A Bevy of Beasts, and I dimly recall the story of the finding of the Pere David, and of him trying to nurse a deer or something during his apprenticeship at Whipsnade. Deer usually aren't very exciting for me but it was nice to see these, and read about the zoo breeding them, and in fact there were a whole lot, lying together in a pile.

Got a glimpse of a tiger. Hyenas and elephants AWOL. Distant view of African wild dogs, which looked pretty big. Also lions are thugs, stealing from hyenas and wild dogs. A placard claimed lions would steal a dog kill in 8 minutes, which sounds implausibly precise, and that a whole pack of hyenas can't stop a male lion, which matches a video I saw, though in that the hyenas were poaching the lion cubs.

Getting to the zoo was supposed to be 1.5 hours and ended up being longer. After exploring the area for food, I found a faster way back, the 5 instead of the 2. I ended up staying until City Hall; no food there but a busy pathway which turned out to be the Brooklyn Bridge. I walked it to say I had, got to Brooklyn, saw nothing, and took a train back.


2018-Sep-17, Monday 10:12
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is huuuuge I was there for 3-4 hours and feel like I barely scratched it. Went through the ocean hall, some forest halls, and some Asian Peoples halls. Some neat exhibits on forest microclimates, and various cultures. OTOH lights were often out, and many placards have terrible text contrast even in bright light.

NYC travel

2018-Sep-15, Saturday 01:23
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Grid Madness

The physical streets are nice grids, but the numbering in Queens is odd. The block south of me is the 400s, whereas mine has addresses like 17-11.

The City That Never Sleeps

Certainly up later than Boston. This residential neighborhood has Crown Chicken and Top Gourmet open at 12:30am, among other things.

Conservatory Scale

I looked up Central Park Conservatory, and found the Conservatory Garden, in NE Central Park. It turns out to just be a formal garden, the only one in the park. It seemed small -- and compared to Central Park, or any proper botanic garden, it is. But it has three fountains and is at least two minutes walk north-south, it would be a sizable city park by itself.

nomad: Queens

2018-Sep-11, Tuesday 20:47
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Staying in Queens now. I've been in better Airbnb places, but in the spirit of not wallowing in negativity, let's move on.

Grids! I can walk around at random and take different routes and not get lost! Unlike most of Boston area.

And so many businesses. There are clusters, but there are lots along the short blocks, all over. Laundromats and convenience stores and delis and such. Again, not so true in Boston (or Camberville) where squares and rare arterials sequester all activity.

I haven't seen much else yet. Got here late Sunday, and have had to work, or been tired rapidly. I need to be available for Skyping tomorrow too, but hope to start hitting zoos after that.


2018-Sep-06, Thursday 12:35
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My lease with Psycho Killer Cat is up, and I chose not to seek a new one, for reasons like "want to travel more" and "fear committing to another lease with a startup job". So I'm back to the Airbnb migration I was doing for six months last year. It'll probably be harder now, as various cities have been cracking down; certainly Cambridge and Somerville rooms seem a lot scarcer now, though I was also looking last minute at a busy period. OTOH, I'm aiming to actually travel this time, with two weeks in NYC next week.

I suppose there are various degrees of nomadism: last year, and also my three months in Europe back in 2010, were lots of 1-4 week stays; other nomads might stays for some months, or even a year, before moving on. My boss is friendly to my 'working vacations', though I don't know if he'd be happy with my disappearing from town for 3 months...

So far I've stayed a couple days in North Arlington, and currently Watertown a mile west of the square. Both were quiet and sleepy, apart from yardwork. Arlington did have a reservoir and the Great Meadow nearby. NY will be in Queens.

Lots of Lime (dockless) bikes in Arlington and Watertown; my first attempt was pretty negative though, as the seat kept collapsing under me, which is a *really* unpleasant feeling: pain and ache up through my right inside (like, not the skin muscles, but further in.) I poked at a bike in Watertown, which seemed more stable, but chickened out of renting it.

On recent bouncing

2017-Apr-29, Saturday 21:48
mindstalk: (Homura)
Twice cast out, shy of permanence, I roam the 'hoods of Boston.

Hilton was horrible to a friend. Her compensation? Three nights downtown for me.

Oak Grove home, great view.
Reason? Same as price: a steep slope
And slippery icy death.

Oak Grove, land of giant parks.
Malden Center, land of small shops.
Which is more alive?

Life in Orient Heights:
East Boston famed for plane noise
Home eerily quiet

In Cambridge, geese walk the River
In Revere, planes fill the skies

"No one takes the Blue Line", say Cantabrigians
Just poorer and browner people
Who enjoy working trains.

Blue Line stations clean, bright, spacious
Are they a real subway?
Red Line gut says no.

From a plain dark box, with two forks and no can opener,
To a home full of rugs, plants, and Buddhas.

If you meet Buddha by the catbox
Try not to piss on him.

Springtime paradox:
Plants have sex by wind pollen,
I hide indoors.

Jamaica Plain green and quiet,
Land of vegans, queers, Dominicans.
Co-worker fears crime: "Please don't die!"

One hostess: absent, unmet.
One hostess: garrulous and gift-giving
One hostess: fleeing to China.

Orange Line, Blue Line, Orange Line
Not a Trader Joe's for miles.
Just great Mexican food.
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After a couple of visits, I wasn't expecting surprises from Glendale, but that was foolish of me. On Monday I went on one of my walks, soaking up sunlight and enjoying a close hill to walk up, heading toward streets I knew climbed up while still have sidewalks. After a while having done so without water bottle seemed foolish, but I found myself close enough to push on to the Brand Library -- "currently open" on Google Maps -- where at least there'd be water, and supposedly some park.

So suddenly I find this:

Inside I find a library with the expected bathrooms and water fountains, but also extensive art galleries featuring the work of various artist collectives. When I was done with that, and paid more attention to the collection, I found nothing but art and music books. Turns out it had been the mansion/ranch of Brand, who held parties you had to fly in to attend. The property was donated to Glendale on the condition of retaining an art focus, and so we find a public library branch that's devoted to the arts.

There was also a teeny tiny Japanese garden (free!) on the property, along with some doctor's Victorian house that had been transplanted there, and roads up into "wilderness area".

As a bonus, when I finally left, I took a different route, that happened to take me to the "Kenneth Village" I'd seen hinted at on directional signs. Nothing *too* special, just a little cluster of shops and restaurants, but as northern Glendale is pretty thoroughly residential, it was a nice surprise too.
mindstalk: (rogue)
A post I made elsewhere, on my past many trips:

I had an awesome conversation with some girl I was sitting next to, though she never wrote me back afterwards. One of my first photos with a new camera was of another cute girl across the aisle (I asked permission.) One time I sat next to a vet who had a pet ferret in his backpack. I didn't ask where it crapped.

The station in San Francisco sells porn. The station in Omaha mostly sells stuff with crosses or other Christian themes. Also one time the Omaha station felt like a refugee camp: 4am, possibly some bus was delayed due to drivers, lots of people sitting around looking bleary with what looked like their worldly possessions. (not really)

It was neat stepping out in or near Salt Lake City and seeing the mountains there.

Heading west to Spokane I encountered my first dry electrical storm, not having ever heard of such a thing. It was really creepy: no rain, no sound, not even many visible lightning bolts, just the sky flashing frequently. I had crazy thoughts about Canadian nuclear barrage or something.

Montana really is Big Sky Country and it gives me the willies.

Some line not far west of the Mississippi river separates "not enough rain for many trees" and "trees will grow unless actively suppressed". This first became obvious when I woke up in Arkansas, going east, and Surprise! Trees! outside the window.

If you're north enough there are trees in the west again, but they're stands if not plantations of conifers and really boring.

Around 2005 our bus almost broke down in the Rockies; certainly the air conditioning stopped working. The driver said their new CEO had previously cost-cut Northwest Airlines into bankruptcy. Around this time the company also dropped a lot of the small town stops, including the not-that-small college town of Bloomington Indiana. Around this time I stopped riding Greyhound much...

travel notes

2015-Jan-15, Thursday 10:30
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Inbound, I'd noticed signs at Chile's immigration advertising their use of antimicrobial copper. Outbound, I think I actually found the use: the desk area in front of the agents looked like copper. I'm not sure how useful that is, but I guess it won't accumulate germs from the papers of the person in front of you, and the agent's hands might get cleaned resting on the copper.

Chile continues to be a model of efficiency for customs. There's a dozen or two agents, and a single line, with numbers and sounds telling the head of the line which agent is free. Very fast. Chile isn't always efficient, often not, but they're great at this. Unlike JFK's two agents for US citizens, one line per agent, and slow. Probably because apparently even dual citizens get fingerprinted, at least if they wave their other passport around. Being a US citizen doesn't save you from being treated like a criminal.

Santiago's security claims "no liquids" now, but they don't actually notice/care about a half-liter of water in my duffel. US flights still have agents between the gate and plane, confiscating such bottles. The replacement bottle cost $4.40 from Hudson's in JFK. Geez!

JFK's security was like half an hour long. And still having shoes off and laptops out, unlike my last two Logan experiences.

OTOH, gotta like the abundant plugs at the gates. Just one side of this wall has four plugs, 3 USB ports, and two Qi circles.

My actual gate, 2, has a low and dark ceiling; I'm hiding out in gate 5 which has high arched ceilings.

CNN is hosting two women arguing about family leave and Obamacare. White Republican talking about Obamacare "killing family business", black woman calling her on it.

I just noticed: in addition to the TV, there's an even bigger and eye level LCD display just carrying ads. I'd managed not to notice until now, in part due to being on my laptop, but yeesh. Welcome to America, land of ads everywhere.

mindstalk: (Earth)
States lived in, 4: http://www.amcharts.com/visited_states/#US-CA,US-IL,US-IN,US-MA

States slept in for a week or more, 11: http://www.amcharts.com/visited_states/#US-CA,US-GA,US-HI,US-IL,US-IN,US-MA,US-NV,US-NY,US-OH,US-PA,US-WA
I think Ohio is a composite of Ohayocon and visiting fanw in Cleveland before Europe.
For a month or more, just add WA to the lived-in list.

States slept in, not counting "on a bus", 22: http://www.amcharts.com/visited_states/#US-CA,US-CT,US-GA,US-HI,US-ID,US-IL,US-IN,US-KY,US-LA,US-ME,US-MA,US-MI,US-MN,US-NV,US-NY,US-OH,US-OK,US-OR,US-PA,US-TN,US-WA,US-DC

States visited at all, not counting looking around during a bus break, 25: http://www.amcharts.com/visited_states/#US-CA,US-CT,US-GA,US-HI,US-ID,US-IL,US-IN,US-KY,US-LA,US-ME,US-MD,US-MA,US-MI,US-MN,US-NV,US-NY,US-NC,US-OH,US-OK,US-OR,US-PA,US-RI,US-TN,US-VT,US-WA,US-DC

States I *know* I have been present in for any reason: http://www.amcharts.com/visited_states/#US-AZ,US-AR,US-CA,US-CT,US-FL,US-GA,US-HI,US-ID,US-IL,US-IN,US-IA,US-KY,US-LA,US-ME,US-MD,US-MA,US-MI,US-MN,US-MT,US-NE,US-NV,US-NH,US-NJ,US-NM,US-NY,US-NC,US-ND,US-OH,US-OK,US-OR,US-PA,US-RI,US-TN,US-TX,US-UT,US-VT,US-WA,US-DC,US-WI,US-WY

States I know I HAVE NOT been in: MS, AL, AK. Well, I'm 100% sure of Alaska, I'm pretty sure about MS and AL.
Dubious: SC, SD.
I must have passed through at least one of WV and VA, en route from LA to DC, but not sure which. I suppose I could look up routes and guess, but if I don't even know, it hardly seems to count.

Countries slept in, 11: http://www.amcharts.com/visited_countries/#EE,FR,NL,RU,ES,GB,CA,MX,US,CL,JP Though Estonia (EE?) and Russia were the USSR at the time, so is that 10 or 11? And Mexico is just a geology field trip.
I have also breen present in the Zurich airport, and I suppose my Paris-Amsterdam train passed through Belgium.


2014-Aug-31, Sunday 12:29
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Went on a little trip last week. B was driving up to see C and Montreal, and I went along. First time in Quebec, second time in Canada as an adult not counting changing planes in Toronto, third time in Canada ever ditto. I had fun. Subways are better than Boston's, I got a taste of the underground pathways (they're not too exciting, lots of shopping, but you could indeed get around much of downtown in the winter without going outside), it felt like a taste of French culture but where everyone knows English too.

Read more... )
mindstalk: (Default)
Current location: LA

MyFriendsInChile were spending a bit of their winter/summer vacation in San Diego this year, to meet with G's family, and I figured this was actually doable for a carless nebbish, compared to their annual stay in Malibu, and flew out to meet them. My figuring was technically correct: it was indeed more doable, though still not trivially easy, with a nearby busline that runs every 30 minutes at best, and not too late. I ended up splurging on an apartment a mile away so I could walk, and that was my only walkable option out of what had looked like multiple Airbnb rooms. And then it turned out I was paying a price discounted for construction work later into my stay.

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I dunno. Hopefully I can see a few friends though nothing's arranged yet. The Getty would be nice. LA Zoo? I'd meant to explore LA more by the modern train system, though right now I'm grumpy at being not as close to it as I'd expected.

More on the awesomephone

In 2010 I got the N900 a bit before my Europe trip, and really appreciated the GPS, checking e-mail or even doing AIM chat (I IMed from a Paris restaurant), and reading ebooks. Now I've got Android and can appreciate a web browser that really works, apps, and tethering... actually that's a mixed bag; the N900 tethered fine, and Samsung Android did, but Cyanogen didn't. It can set up a wifi hotspot, though, and my host's internet is out so I'm using that wifi right now. I'm still missing the ability to easily copy files to and from the phone, though, stupid Google and MTP. But Google's "find directions" plus all the transport apps (transit, Uber, Lyft, Amtrak) are pretty awesome. I've also used Google Play to suck down a bunch of free ebooks; there's other ways of doing that, but hey. The way it can switch between "original pages" and flowing (OCRed) text is neat.
mindstalk: (Nanoha)
Late note from last night: one of the dishes I ordered was "tiny dumplings". What came out, and I confirmed that this was in fact what I ordered, were dumplings the size of pork buns or larger. 8 of them. No wonder my waiter asked if I was planning to take some home.

Also, while the dim sum dishes were good, the egg rolls/spring rolls were as horrible as Chinese rolls often are. Heavy on greasy dough with some light cabbage inside and little interesting flavor. I ended up sucking out the cabbage for vegetables and left much of the dough. Stick to Vietnamese rolls.

For today, I got up early enough to still have several hours to kill. Explore? Museum? I leaned toward museumy things. AMNH and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens were both half an hour away, the Met closer to 45 minutes or more, I figured future visits were likely to still have easy access to Central Park but maybe be further from Brooklyn, so I picked the garden.

When I visited NYC in 2001, smartphones were hardly a thing, I didn't even have a cell phone, and I got to struggle with some large Manhattan map, never mind the rest of the city. Well, not that much struggle: most of Manhattan is a very boring grid. Then there was the T.

This visit? Totally relying on Google Maps and directions. I didn't even think to dig up my old Manhattan map, I just phoned it in. The public transit directions were helpful and generally accurate, unless there was a service disruption it didn't know about. And the one thing more complicated than the MTA's system is the service disruptions due to maintenance. But hey, there's an app for that! Literally! Also a bus map app! And an MTA website would tell you how far a bus was from your stop.

OTOH I never found an app to tell me when a particular *train* was coming. Of course, with much of the system not having T-Mobile signal, it wouldn't have helped that much.

So yeah, the Garden. I'd expected to pay $10, vs. the "suggested" of AMNH, but apparently Tuesdays were free. Score!
Vistor's Center is a green building, using tricks I read about in 3-2-1 Contact in the 1980s: built into hillside, "living roof", solar overhang... a 400 foot earth tap for temperature control is a bit newer, and stippled? something, glass is even newer: various texture stripes both "reflect heat" and make the glass more visible to birds.

I was aiming for the greenhouses because that's my thing, but got turned around and ended up at a Japanese garden first. That's okay, they're also a thing. No islands or zigzag bridges, but a half-drowned torii, and a pond chock-full of koi and turtles. No waterfowl though, odd. Passed through a Shakespeare garden too, which had a thistle plant taller than I was. No mere ground weed that. It was scary. Pretty tall lettuces, too.

Greenhouses decent, I think Glasgow had much better ones. The bonsai room was something I'd never seen before, lots of bonsais of different styles, and wall placards about bonsai. Not just about trimming the growth above, but keeping the roots fine, so as to trick the plant into making smaller leaves, and you get a true miniature tree, not just a short one.

Aquatic plants room, tropical plants room, desert, warm temperate. The desert one was neat for putting a lot of American and African desert plants side by side, showing the convergent evolution.

Rooms weren't all that big; not much bigger than IU's greenhouse set, I think, maybe smaller than Wellesley or Spokane.

After that, a rather fragrant herb and food plants garden. A rock garden which fooled me -- it had nothing to do with Japanese/Zen rock gardens, and instead was a whole bunch of boulders and the sort of plants that live among boulders, like Swiss mountain pine.

Rose arc pool, and rose garden, but not many smellable roses. Also a bunch of girls (in the non-adult sense) wearing calf-length skirts and uniform black socks or stockings, escorted by women also in long skirts (but showing ankle) with covered hair, talking in a language I couldn't ID. White. I guessed something beyond Eastern Europe, like the Caucasus, but asked a woman, and got told Yiddish. So some variety of Orthodox Jew I'd guess, still raising their kids in Yiddish. That's kind of neat, though OTOH heavy clothes on a hot sunny day. Girls seemed playful enough, though.

En route, I'd left Jay-Metrotech station and seen NYPD apparently searching backpacks of incoming passengers. Later, my MTA alerts app warned the Brooklyn Museum station was being skipped due to "NYPD activity", but that cleared up by the time I got there.

Megabus arrived at 28th and 7th. It leaves from 34th and 11th. Walking from Penn Station to there wasn't much fun, especially as past 10th Avenue there's wide open lots, so the shade I'd been getting went away. I'd showered and changed clothes right before leaving for the bus, and then I wondered why I'd bothered. I'm really inclined to spring for the train next time.

Unlike last time, this time they did have the double-decker they were supposed to, and I got my reserved seat, up front and on top. From there, traffic is *scary*; looked like what I imagined of Grand Theft Auto, nearly running down pedestrians and hitting cars. I suspect most of that is simply the perspective of being up there. OTOH, I did wonder if we had a particularly aggressive driver; later -- much later, it took 50 minutes just to get onto a freeway in the Bronx -- it seemed like he was habitually tailgating cars until they fled to another lane. Not that most other vehicles were obeying 2 second following distance.

Also, it's really shaky up there, especially on Manhattan roads. I figured if I didn't get motion sickness from that, I'm close to immune. Not that I bothered reading, except on my smartphone, and people often say it's reading that sets them off. I listened to music, looked out at my great if sometimes terrifying view, and thought of fanfic relationships.

In the past, with bus rides that were longer than my reading material, I often killed time with various relationship fantasies. This was effective at killing time, though perhaps not mentally healthy, especially when dwelling on real people and things unlikely to happen with them. These days I lack plausible candidates, which is sad, but ficcing does mean entertainment that never has to face a reality check and disappointment. Woo! Of course, in the past I was hardly into fictional character relationships, but these days Nanoha provides a deep well of magic, SF, and yuri, that's of interest to me.

But I got kind of cramped up there. Next time... train.
mindstalk: (Default)
Day 2: met someone from IU for dim sum, walked Canal and Avenue of the Americas, bit of NYU campus, Bleecker Street Fair, Arab-American street fair, Washington Park, Greenwich Village (meh, given its reputation), Highline Park (neat, crowded), Penn Station (ugliest train station I've ever seen), some Chinese acts in honor of 35 years of US-China diplomacy at Lincoln, reading in Central Park.

Turns out most of the trains don't have the cool "next stops" signs. Some have a more standard "next stop" signs. Some don't even have that. Some stations have "next train in" signs, some don't. Cell signal is often not present in tunnels.

Day 3: met someone from Caltech for lunch near Union Square, walked around Union Square, Stuyvesant Town, east to the sea along 18th but it was blocked off past Avenue C, took L train to Lorimer in Brooklyn --

Things are a lot different there! Felt low-key and spacious with low buildings and wide-streets. Funny thing is, it'd still be fairly dense: we're talking 4 story buildings instead of 8 or 18 story ones. More like Camberville, less like Manhattan. Lots of people walking around, fewer open businesses to justify their walking. Some pretty nice residential streets.

G train to 21st St. station in Long Island City. Ugh! Very wide streets, an outright empty lot next to the subway station... first couple streets I walked down, 11th being the second one, were pretty depressing wasteland; 21st itself was better. Hopped another train (justifying that weekly pass I splurged on!) to Queens Plaza; itself meh, but around the corner is more interesting, lots of shops, also greenery under the elevated train at Queensboro Plaza. An elevated train! I rode the N to the end, Astoria-Ditmar, reminded of Chicago as elevateds always do. Nice neighborhood there, busiest I'd seen that side of the water, despite pretty low buildings. Lots of Greek and Japanese restaurants, Greek society buildings, a street festival I was told was for San Antonio, though it was all street food and carnie stuff (including a few rides.)

Day 4 (today): F to York, just the next station in Brooklyn, meh itself, but found Brooklyn Bridge Park, kind of neat and very popular. *Very* popular; all the restaurants had long lines, even at 2pm. Went down the park, realized too late there was less shade and fewer exists; the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (which is interestingly double-decked into the hillside) blocks off access, and the one pedestrian bridge was closed for construction. Next time I'll believe Google Maps when it shows no paths. Finally escaped out the south end, into Brooklyn Heights, again nice looking and human-scaled, though pricey restaurants. Wandered to the courthouse area, train to Prospect Park, read there, walked through much of the park, found the Brooklyn Public Library -- neat outside, less exciting inside -- a triumphal arch, walked up Flatbush, finally train to Chinatown, pigged out on dim sum, limped home.

Oh, I forgot to complain about York: there's only one exit, at the opposite end of the train from me, so I had to walk all that. And then you go up a bit, and walk horizontally some more, before finally hitting the surface. Who the hell designed this?

* My feet hurt. I need better shoes.
* I have yet to notice a single bookstore. I was reminded of this by seeing two sidewalk tables of books for sale.
* I looked at Wikipedia... Brooklyn has over 2.5 million people, even bigger than Manhattan's 1.5, which itself is probably bigger than the T-accessible Boston area. There's zoos in at least Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx. Giant parks in at least Manhattan and Brooklyn. WP noted that as its own city, Brooklyn alone would be the 4th largest in the US. Manhattan wouldn't be chump change either. Brooklyn has a huge art museum of its own, too.
* The subways are often seedy, hot, as noted surprisingly variable in tech level, and god help you if you don't have good legs, or legs at all -- stairs up, stairs down... but their coverage and frequency are pretty good. Going back to Boston and its miles between stations will hurt.
* Tip for people with hurty feet: don't go wandering everywhere; stick to within a few blocks of the station, or walk down streets between stations.
* I'm supposed to return to Boston tomorrow. I'm tempted to extend my stay, not to amortize my transportation cost (trivial) but my transportation time. Though it's getting a bit last minute to find a place, and if I want really good deals I should probably be renting a whole week at a time; I'd forgotten that.
** On the flip side, I've veered between excited at discovery and burning out already from overstimulus of novelty, and back. There's job-interview studying I want to do, and a San Diego trip in less than two weeks I haven't planned yet.
** Tempted to shift job hunt focus to NYC and move here. One reason for Massachusetts was for Romneycare health insurance backup if I got a job and quit it, but now the whole country has Obamacare. Of course, I barely know anyone in NYC (surprisingly) while I've got a slowly acquired social circle in Boston. OTOH, there's still not much of a really *close* circle in Boston, except for someone so busy I see her like 3x a year anyway.
* Megabus departure point looks a fair bit less convenient than the arrival point. Bolt Bus looks as bad. Nnng it's the train next time.
* Lots of bus stops/companies in Chinatown. Not just connections to Boston, but ones to Knoxville, Birmingham, or Montgomery. Wacky.

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