Off To New York

This is my parents last full day in Connecticut. Tomorrow, at an ungodly hour, they fly the day’s only non-stop from BDL to PBI.

The goal of the Connecticut Foxes was to make this a vacation full of activity, and we’ve succeeded. Maybe we were a little too aggressive in planning for my dad. We have taken him to the edge of his physical limits… though that wasn’t our intention.

Today was our day to head to New York and the Lower East Side. Stef, Helaine and my Mom love shopping there, but after this week, we knew it would be too much for my dad.

The solution was mine. The five of us would travel to New York together, but when the women headed to Canal Street, my dad and I would continue to Whitehall Terminal and the State Island Ferry.

When I was a kid a trip on the Staten Island Ferry cost 5&#162. Later, it was raised to 25&#162. About ten years ago, to lower the cost of commuting from Staten Island, the fare was removed altogether.

It’s a phenomenal free trip from The Battery, at Manhattan’s southern tip, to St. George on Staten Island. You go through the Upper Harbor, past Governors Island, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island.

It’s easy to forget, as I had, how busy a harbor this is. There are ocean going freighters moving past barges and tugs and other local working boats. We actually cruised by LSV-!, the Army’s General Frank S. Besson, Jr.

I thought the Army only had ships in Jack Lemmon movies!

Our ferry to Staten Island and back was the John F. Kennedy, christened in 1965. It, like all the ferries, is a stubby, dirty orange behemoth. There is no front. The ferry is commanded from both ends.

We took the outbound leg, standing outside on the upper deck on the port side. That’s the best view of the Statue of Liberty.

On the return we stood at the very front of the Kennedy, with an ever sharpening view of Lower Manhattan, the ‘satellite city’ of office towers that’s grown up in the Hoboken/Jersey City area and the smaller, older, office buildings in Downtown Brooklyn.

This trip, like nearly every other trip to New York was heavily dependent on the New York City subway system. I know some people are a little apprehensive, but it’s a great way to get around. It’s certainly faster than driving. Service is frequent… every few minutes on some lines.

The downside is, the cars are sometimes dirty and there are often people soliciting for (often dubious) charities. We had one guy beg while holding up sandwiches, ostensibly for any homeless on the train. We also had an accordionist join us – hand outstretched. His charity begins in the home.

There was one other downside today. When we headed from Whitehall Street, at the ferry slip, to Cortlandt Street, we discovered the Cortlandt Street Station is closed due to the reconstruction around the World Trade Center site. That aded a walk I didn’t plan on from City Hall down to Cortlandt.

We met up with the girls at Century 21, an &#252ber clothing department store, about a block from Ground Zero. My dad and I sat in the shoe department while (mostly) Stef did her damage upstairs!

The final stop of the day was dinner at the Stage Deli. It was very good, but my first choice was to head to Chinatown for Chinese food. I can’t name one Chinese restaurant down there, but I’m sure whatever we would have found would have been great.

By the way – on a trip like this, majority rules. It’s no sin to be outvoted.

The Stage is in the mid-50s on 7th Avenue while Grand Central Terminal is at 42nd and Park Avenue. That wasn’t too much of a hike for Helaine, Stef and me, but it was too a lot for my parents. We threw them in a cab and met them at the train station.

We were home by 8:30 PM.

My parents need to go home to recuperate from their vacation!

Blogger’s note: I took well over 300 photos today. I was saddened to see a few pieces of dust had settled on “Clicky’s” sensor. That was easily cured with a bulb duster I carry… but not until I had shot at least 250 photos that need an extra hand to be acceptable.

Our Last Vegas Show

This is the part of the trip I like the least… getting ready to leave! We’re not done vacationing, but we still have to make sure the loose ends are tied. Helaine’s in charge of all this and I marvel at her efficiency and organizational skills.

Dinner tonight was the Grand Wok, a very nice Chinese restaurant here in the MGM Grand. We shared two appetizers. Helaine ordered a shrimp lo mein dish while I had beef tenderloin, asparagus and a black pepper sauce.

Mine was marked spicy on the menu, but it was more flavorful than hot. All in all we were very pleased with our dinner. As in nearly always the case in Vegas, the service was attentive and friendly.

We headed across Las Vegas Boulevard to the New York New York Hotel. We had tickets for a show tonight and this one was an interesting choice. Actually, it was a difficult choice – not a slam dunk by any means.

We saw Roseanne Barr.

I remember watching Roseanne the first time she appeared with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. She was truly a breakout star from that very first moment on-camera. A Jewish housewife from Salt Lake City, her performance was totally unexpected – words and actions!

Some people can take success, others cannot. Roseanne was in the second category.

After burning white hot, he career careened. There were work related difficulties, canceled shows, bad marriages and that incident with the National Anthem. It was as if she was working hard at being a failure.

We had heard rumors the original Roseanne was back. That’s why we bought tickets to see her in the Cabaret Theater, a small (450 seat) venue.

Opening was Jackie Beat, a female impersonator/comic. It was, to say the least, a little strange. Though engaging, Jackie was doing (mostly) predictable shtick. Hey – it’s an opening act.

Roseanne came on and she quickly won over the house. She’s a grandmother now. She a little more realistic and fatalistic in choosing her subjects. Still, the observations of life that made her domestic goddess persona so enjoyable came through.

It was a reasonably tight set by an (obviously) professional comedienne. Both Helaine and I laughed a lot. I hope Roseanne can maintain.

We returned to the MGM and I headed directly to the poker tables. I needed a little more before going.

I played astoundingly tight. For 45 minutes, I played one hand! Considering a ‘blinds’ of $3 per round, I was down $15 before I really began to play.

I started to build a nice stack until getting clobbered in a big hand. I mean really clobbered. I reached in my wallet and bought more chips.

One the next hand… the very next hand… another monster pot. Again, I went all in. This time it went differently. I was within $25 of my starting point.

It never happens like that… except when it does! I continued to play, finishing the night nicely up.

I’ll probably play a little tomorrow before leaving, but right now I’m up. It’s not a lot, but I’m not down! I lost all the tournaments I entered, but won nearly all my cash sessions. That was the difference.

I had a great time and really can see a difference in my no limit cash game play. I was cautiously aggressive. When I had a hand, I did my best to keep ‘limpers’ out. I never got ‘married’ to my cards… OK, seldom did I get married to my cards.

There surely was some luck in my winning. Over time, luck evens out. I hope my good play stays.

Working The 4th

It is not as honorable as working Christmas or Easter, so someone who observes can be with family. It is the Fourth of July and I should be off from work… which I am not.

Here’s how it works at work – seniority rules for vacation requests. And, as it turns out, I’ve been on-the-air longer than anyone else at the TV station. I am number one on the seniority list!

I forgot to ask for the Fourth of July off! My fault. I screwed up.

There’s an interesting attitude at work on a holiday like this. Everyone feels more capable of making decisions. Everyone feels more in control. There is no upper management on-site.

It’s not that management isn’t important, it’s just that (for short periods) we can steer on our own.

When people ask me if I’m upset to be working on a holiday, I say “no.” I’m really very lucky. How many people have a job they enjoy… something they happily do? It’s not like I’m stacking boxes or working the wok in the non-air conditioned Chinese restaurant where I bought my family’s dinner.

Next year I’ll try to be less forgetful. Meantime, I’m sitting at my desk, watching the New Haven fireworks on my monitor. It could be worse.