Common look and feel

Things get somewhat more complex with two-way roads (e.g. Central Park West). Strangely, it seems that the whole of CPW goes red/green together. Doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.

Been for a run in Central Park this morning. It seems people fall into one (or none) of three categories – runners, bladers or bikers. I did see a unicyclist powering through heavy traffic on Canal Street a week or so ago on a 30" wheel, but I think he was an anomaly. (Joost, have you mastered it yet?)

Even at 7.30am it was pretty busy (perhaps especially at 7.30, given that it was already in the high 70s). A cycle race of around 50 riders sped past me; don’t think Lance was among them but it was a bit of a blur.

It’s great to have the park so close by, although I’m yet to fathom the various paths and roads and the etiquette associated with each (cyclists on the right, overtake on the left, etc.). It’s great that traffic (apart from the aforementioned) is kept out of the park at weekends – not sure if this is a year-round thing or just for the summer.

Started cooking now, which is really good. Grocery shopping is a bit baffling – there’s a level of familiarity built into the likes of Sainsbury’s that makes things easy, irrespective of which Sainsbury’s you’re in. Having to learn where things are (and more to the point, what things are called), is an enjoyable challenge, but it reminds me of the common look and feel argument that Microsoft has done so well, and Government less so. It probably adds 100% to my shopping time, not knowing where things are – not sure if the same metric is true of website users.

It’s nice not to be eating out/getting takeaway every morning, noon and night. Being in an apartment engenders a different, more relaxed way of living than does a hotel.

Traffic lights and venti lattés

So, there are a couple of competitions going on in New York at the moment (in my head at least):

The current competition leaders are a Venti Non-Sugar Vanilla Iced Latté and 47 respectively.

The former order was made in Starbucks on 75th and Broadway at 09:08 EST today. It’s all down to the madness of the New Yorker, I’m sure they could get rid of 30% of the coffee’s characteristics (I think it’s still classified as coffee at this stage) and not notice the difference.

The latter was our cab journey yesterday where we turned north onto 10th Ave from 22th Street and went non-stop through to 70th. This is down to the artistry with which the Manhattan traffic-light system has been designed. It’s great to watch the lights turning green one my one as you head up- or downtown. I’m still to figure out whether this mass chron. job is integrated with the cross-streets in some form of massive linear program, but experience suggests not. Also, not sure how Broadway gets affected.

Going to pick up the keys to our new apartment this morning 🙂

BTW, someone’s finally tried out the comment facility within the blog. They anonymised it (unless it really was Fred Flintstone). Best guess so far is Mr. Caselberg. Feel free to comment, as long as it’s constructive and clean. They’ll all be post-moderated by my good self. BTW, does anyone know who the seven hits from the Seychelles that I’ve received this month are down to? Didn’t Purves go to Mauritius, or the Maldives, or Morecambe (I forget which).

Just got a new leader on the coffee stakes. Grande skimmed whipped whipped extra hot latté. It will be quicker to drink than it was to order.

Let me take you down…

Fingers crossed, tomorrow should be a significant day for us.  Assuming my bank can do its job, we should be moving into our apartment.  It’s a stone’s throw away from Strawberry Fields in Central Park and three blocks from the Dakota Building, where Lennon was shot.

It’s a great location, eagerly awaiting my amateur blading attempts.

Also, Happy Birthday for tomorrow, Dad (and, J. Lo., if you happen to be reading).  Package should be with you by now – Dad, not Jennifer  🙂

Where have all the carbs. gone?

It seems that America is a carb. free zone.  Nothing in the US contains carbs, and everyone is obsessed by Atkins and spin-offs.  $2.99 per week will give you access to e-diets where they tell you what to buy, eat and do.  But where have all the carbs gone (as I think Paula Cole once sang)?  Maybe they’re hiding out in Nova Scotia; or the Hamptons.

Scaleable fonts

So, I’ve just done my first bit of html.  I wasn’t happy about the new look blog being inaccessible, so I’ve made all the fonts percentage-based (thanks Mr. Reay).  This has made all of the fonts scaleable.  There is a slight overlap issue with the two columns on large and largest, but I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.  It seems it’s the age-old left-hand nav. (or in this case right-hand modules) issue.  Maybe I should go the BBC way and cheat.  I think not  🙂

Hope you like the new L&F, btw…

Apartment on the Park?

So, we appear to be nearing the home straight on sorting out the apartment. After finding a place on Park Avenue South, this was subsequently priced out of our league, so we’re now focused on a third/fourth floor (depending on whether you count the ground/first) apartment in a brownstone on West 75th Street. We’re sorting out contracts and the like at the moment, but we’re hoping to move in on Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s three buildings in from Central Park, which will be great once I invest in some blades. Some people (Mr. Stephenson) have frowned on this idea (the blades, not the brownstone), likening me to the stereotypical Upper Westsider, but I’m looking forward to it, and if nothing else it should be a way of keeping fit. I’ve only had two previous experiences of blading, both with Mr. Rainton, in Victoria Park, London and Millennium Park, Sydney – should be fun!

Went to a nice bar on 18th Street with Andy on Friday night, so yesterday’s apartment-hunting was somewhat tarnished. It’s great to go out and not have your clothes/self reeking of smoke in the morning. Not sure if they’ll ever get to the stage of banning smoking in the UK, but as a non-smoker, I’d thoroughly recommend it.

I’m gradually getting my head round the subway system, but miss the simplicity of the Tube (colours and directions being all you need to know). I think that each number/letter refers to the specific behaviour of associated trains (both in terms of routes and whether they are express or local), but I’m sure the maps don’t give you all the information you need to make an informed decision on whether to board a train. Took less than ten minutes to get from 75th to 12th on Friday, which can’t be bad. The air-con on the trains (albeit not on the platforms) is a great concept, one that London could benefit from.

Sloane Square?

I am somewhat concerned by the scepticism with which some people have taken the news of my impending film role with Woody Allen.  Here is a picture of him with my co-star, Scarlett Johansson.  While the location of this shot looks very similar to Sloane Square in London (even down to the Royal Court Tavern in the background!) it is in fact a small enclave just off Battery Park.

If you hear anyone circulating rumours about the non-genuine nature of the relationship, please could you put them right.

Thanks…

Rain

So, Woody Allen is making a new movie, and although I’ve not been given the lead role, he says I’m going to be playing a significant part, which is nice. Shooting starts next week.

When it rains in New York, it certainly doesn’t do it by halves (America’s like that – all or nothing). Sat in Starbucks on Broadway and 75th, and I’m scared (not literally scared, but certainly concerned about the consequences) of running the two blocks back to the hotel. My concern is not so much for my own dryness, more that of my geek t-shirt. This is its first outing since the fateful night in the Victoria, and it certainly attracts some looks. I’m not sure they appreciate the irony; some would argue that there isn’t any. I’ve never been a big fan of umbrellas, but I may have to invest.

I’ve now invested in a mobile phone. Two things baffle me, which are somewhat related to one another:

This at a time when the Brits are going text crazy. I would have thought that the model of charging both caller and callee (?) would promote the use of text – obviously not.

I do, however, like the clarity of the pricing model over here though; it’s one that they need to get closer to in the UK. There is no concept over here of differential charging for inter-network calling. If you call within the US (to landline or mobile, regardless of network), you pay $0.25 per minute. That’s it. I’m always surprised that no more action has been taken in the UK to clear up the confusion and mess – when you make a call, you don’t really know how much you’re going to pay, unless you ask the recipient which network they’re using.

The new iPod is out over here now. Much improved battery life, by all accounts, along with a new, improved navigation. I’ve already received one order, and will no doubt be receiving a number more before they come available in the UK. Favourite URL of the moment is http://www.ipodyourbmw.com/. Getting some significant advertising over here. I have the iPod, but sadly not the BM. As soon as I finish this update, I’ll be registering http://www.ipodyourbeetle.com/ 🙂

Lightning now; maybe umbrellas are a bad move. Time to brace the weather…

Upper West Side

So, lots been going on over the last couple of days. First of all, I’m a year older (and wiser) following my birthday yesterday. Went out for a great meal at Spring Street Natural Restaurant (on Spring Street!).

Apartment hunting is draining. We’ve been to see a whole bunch of places, varying hugely in price and quality – it seems you get what you pay for. We’ve now found a one-bed corner apartment on 20th and Park Ave South. Unfortunately, Mr. Chant’s request of a south-westerly view to experience the sunsets had to go by the way-side due to budgetary constraints and other priorities 🙂

It comes available on 30th July, so until then, we’re experiencing the Upper West Side, staying in the On The Ave hotel on 77th. Very nice hotel, I have to say. Great area, with nice parks (other than Central), a completely different vibe to the village and Soho. I think I’ll like this area a lot.

The weather is now great – 86F today (35C), and that should last right through the weekend.

The most difficult part of the whole experience over here is arranging logistics with UK companies – estate agents, the insurance guys etc. You’re always conscious of the ridiculous price of transatlantic calls, and the companies’ inefficiency/inability to do stuff/willingness to put you on hold only serves to exacerbate this. Internet banking is great for that side of things – if only other companies could follow suit.

As people often say (and I’ve experienced before), news over here is very insular, as you know, despite us (pronoun as opposed to two-letter abbreviation) being the island. Saw a clip of the rather childish antics in the Commons on Wednesday with Blair and Howard laughing at each other’s stance on the war (along with the resultant loss of life). Only Charles Kennedy seemed to have a mature head on this time. I thought their laughter at each other for mis-representing the past was somewhat out of place, given the subject-matter.

Everything over here is about Bush, Kerry or Stewart (of the Martha variety), the latter (latest?) getting more coverage than either of the others. Armstrong (Lance) is also getting some significant coverage, given the Tour de France is taking place in Europe. (Neil also got some coverage today with the 35th anniversary of the moon landing.) It will be great to see if anyone can threaten his (Lance’s) lead tomorrow – I love Alpe D’Huez. Shame Pantani won’t be there to add some spice.

Martha

So, it seems Martha (Stewart) was quite popular.  She was the only news going on today.  Five months in prison followed by five months in her house(s).  But will she ever serve the time or will she get out of it through continual appeals?  Only time will tell.  She’s being interviewed by Larry King tonight – quite different from our system where Archer et al. are carted off there and then.  The media circus should be over for the time being at least.

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