Sunday, October 19, 2008

Leaf Peeping 2008

After a long hard winter last year L. was determined to get as much enjoyment out of the fall this year before the bleak dead trees were here for another winter. With this in mind we planned our leaf peeping trip. The thing about trips to see leaves is that you need a destination but the destination really isn’t that important as the trip. So for this one L. wanted to see Palmyra, New York for some of the Mormon history there and I wanted to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water in Pennsylvania.
L. was feeling pretty sick so instead of leaving Friday after work we came home from work and went right to sleep. This allowed for us to leave at 4AM while L. caught some more sleep. We had some trouble during the whole trip with our GPS. (I guess you get what you pay for.) For instance to get there it was reporting a 10 hour drive when it should have been 5. As it ended up we depended on the GPS in our phones to check all the directions.
We arrived in Palmyra at 9AM so the first thing we went to see was the Hill Camorah (Place where Joseph Smith said he found and later reburied the golden plates.) It was a pretty steep hill! haha, make L. climb to the top and she can’t complain. (One of L.’s things to say is that any time we travel and there is a mountain, wall, or tower and I want to climb to the top to look down.) It was a great place to see the fall colors of the whole valley. From there we drove over to the Smith family farm where they built a replica of the original log cabin and restored the log house they lived in. The Sacred Grove (Where Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus when they told him not to join other churches) was really peaceful but easy to get lost in. We drove up to the Mormon Temple then into town to the original printing press for the “Book of Mormon”. We were originally expecting to spend the whole weekend here but it was noon and we had seen everything we wanted to. So we drove to what we were planning to see the next weekend, Falling Water.
When we planned out the impromptu drive on the map on our phones. (maximum drive time off of freeways to enjoy more fall colors). We saw that the road went right though Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. We could not resist. We drove though valley after valley of fall leaves as far as the eye could see then stayed there for the night. (I later found out that highway is famous for a good leaf peeping drive.
If you are unfamiliar with Punxsutawney it is famous for Groundhog day. They have “ Punxsutawney Phil” that offically sees his shadow or not. We ended up staying in the same hotel as the movie “Groundhog Day” that is right across from there square where everything was filmed. Phil is housed in the library with a big bay window for anyone to see him any hour of the day or night. The real Gobbler's Knob was in the hills and quite deserted when we went to see it since we were 4 months to early.
Apparently Falling Water is a pretty popular Fall destination. They were all sold out of tours when I called in the morning (the downside of spontaneous travel). So instead we got a grounds pass with the idea that if we felt like there was more to see we could come back. As it turns out the only difference is you just can’t go in the house but you can look in all the windows. Falling Water is all windows. I don’t feel like I missed anything. There just happens to be another Frank Lloyd Wright house nearby called Kentuck Knob. We did go into that one. (less windows so it paid off this time). So my opinion? Frank Lloyd Wright was a Megalomaniac. He didn’t listen to the engineers, people he was designing the house for, or anyone else. He designed the house to look pretty, not be functional, structural, or water proof. So why would I want to see the houses he designed? To me they are like big works of art like museum pieces. I just feel sorry for the people that had to live in them.
The drive home was more beautiful trees. In all it felt like we had taken a 3 day trip instead of just two. I think we might make more of these 4AM departure times.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Economic Downturn

So the economy is going down the tubes. How does that affect me? Well living in New York it is a little more up close. When we were in mid-town I walked past the Lehman Brothers building. The building had a huge video billboard on the outside and only 1 day after its bankruptcy they had already changed the logo to “Barclays”. It took them all of a week to change the 2 story foot tall steel and copper sign to the new logo. (I guess someone paid for a rush job.)
Wall street is a different matter. All the camera crews around remind me of the OJ Simpson trial in Los Angeles. It’s kind of scary that the nations economy is in a similar circus. All the reporters standing around make it seem like a death watch with them waiting for something to happen. There is a lot of extra security though. After September 11th. giant brass blockades were installed so that only police, limos, and Bentleys could drive down Wall Street. (If you think I am joking go there.) Now there are the armed police everywhere with the flack jackets. They all look like cops standing around after a bank has been robbed and all the money is gone. hmmmm.
For the government budget, of course NYC, and New York depended on taxing all the obscene paychecks that you kept hearing about for wall street workers. Now I’ve heard emergency conferences by the Mayor and Governor talking about emergency budget cuts because the people on wall street are not getting their Christmas bonuses. I thought it kind of odd that Christmas bonuses would account for that big of a chunk of a city or state budget until I heard the average bonus is $645,000.
Obviously the company I work for does a lot of business with wall street. Meetings have been rescheduled because people had roommates that worked on wall street that suddenly had to move because of lost jobs. Even though the company I work for is doing fine they, rightly so, have decided that wall street will not be ordering anything new for a while so they have cut travel expenses to offset the lost sales. The silly thing is that I had already bought my ticket,hotel, and conference admission for an upcoming trip, all non-refundable for better prices. They are still reimbursing me for the trip expenses since I bought everything before the freeze, I’m just not going. Right hand meet left hand.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Shopping Trips

One thing we have come to enjoy after living more a more rural setting is living next to a big city, and not just any big city but New York City. It is big enough so that pretty much no matter what we were searching for there has been a store that specializes in only that one thing. L. and I have just taken the train into the city on a Saturday and spent the day walking around.
Big & Tall: Being tall and skinny I usually have a hard time finding clothes and shoes. It seems like a store called “Big & Tall” would cater to that but my experience has always been half of the store title is there so the other half does not feel embarrassed to shop there. Imagine any other store cutting out half their customers for the benefit of the other half. There is a store called Rochester (rochesterclothing.com). Unfortunately they have the same problem. I figure I am doomed that if I can’t find clothes in NYC then I am doomed to internet shopping for clothes.
Daffy’s: (daffys.com) I really like this store. Their slogan is “Clothing Bargains For Millionaires”. Supposedly it is the overstock of all the high fashion brands. I wouldn’t care. They sell good clothes that are usually in European sizing (so usually skinnier clothes than American). However since it is “High fashion” some of the stuff is really bizarre, so a good laugh while shopping is always fun.
Century 21: (c21stores.com) Another clothing store L. likes since they are so huge. They sell mainly mid fashion overstock.
So after shopping clothes of course you have to eat. These places follow the same idea of find one thing and be really good at it.
Mac and Cheese: S’mac (smacnyc.com). Yes, the only dish this restaurant sells is macaroni and cheese. The last time we went I got the sampler platter of all the different flavors and would have to say the 4 cheese or cajun are my favorite.
Rice Pudding: Rice to Riches (ricetoriches.com) I’m not that big of a fan of rice pudding but my friends like it a lot. It is good but I guess I will alway be partial to “Arroz Con Leche” with cinnamon.
French Fries: Pommes Frites (pommesfrites.ws). A restaurant that only serves french fries. Actually they specialize in all of the dipping sauces. The fries are only there to deliver it to your mouth. They are very good but greasy. It is always crowded so they must be doing good.
Chocolate: Max Brenner (maxbrenner.com) Now I know there are a lot of chocolate stores but this is a chocolate restaurant. When L. and I went we got the chocolate pizza, fondue and smores, and chocolate milk (which tasted more like an iced hot chocolate if that is possible.) This seemed like the perfect lunch for a shopping trip with my wife. I was tripping off of the sugar rush so much for the next few hours that nothing could put me in a bad mood.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Update on Goals

So switching over to the new format forced me to go through the posts and convert them. Some of them caught my eye. I decided to give an update on how I’m doing on keeping my goals.
Mind:
Learning French: So umm, yeah. It ended up going on the cruise instead of to France. In truth we only had one French lesson with out friend and never cracked the book we bought. We just couldn’t get into it. So playing to that motivation idea we decided signing up for a class would work better. (I know voluntarily signing up for more school.) L. and I have been going to a Spanish class. The thing is that it is to easy. So either we are just used to Graduate classes where the teachers feel no guilt for assigning more work than hours or we both picked up more Spanish in California than we thought and are now the hated people that are taking the class that already know Spanish.
Electronics: I was going to sign up for an electronics class but when I showed up the first night the teacher went though each of the chapters he was going to cover and I kept thinking, I already know this. So I just bought the book and will review it on my own since the more interesting class next semester uses the same book.

Body:
Exercise: I think that I have done the best in this area. I pretty sure I am in better shape that when I ran any of the marathons that I did. (However, I do not feel the need to run another one.) I can say that the endorphin high from doing regular exercise is real.
Riding bikes:This has been a good escape for me. Going kayaking puts me in a more zen state but requires a lot more planning and set up time. As for bikes, just pull them out of the garage and go. It also helps that L. thinks this is one of my less crazy drives and is more willing to join me for this more that anything else.

Spirit:
Playing guitar: Well this one, I fail. I got the guitar for my birthday. I think I have done 3 lessons on the computer. It has sat on its stand in the living room the rest of the time. In my brain every time I have free time my first reaction is what can I add to my plate instead of am I keeping up on what I already have.
Dancing: We had fun doing this on our cruise but that is about as far as we got. Last year we enjoyed being in Central Park for the free Tango lessons. We only picked up the last few lessons and were sure to go to the ones this year. Well now the lessons are over for this year and we didn’t go to a single one.

I guess I know where I need to work on. Only achieving in mind and body and you end up being a boring person that no one wants to talk to.