I Read Stuff!

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Trouble With Grass...

The Statue taxi is good sized ferry with two levels that shows up every 20 minutes. They don't pack the ferries very full, but I'd say there are around 100 people allowed aboard. That means New York is sending about 3,000 visitors to the Statue on any given Monday. New Jersey probably sends about half. The monument expects 5 million tourists a year, so I'm guessing we were there on a slow day.

Look at this picture:



You see that nice pristine lawn? How do they keep that lawn so nice with thousands of people tramping through there every day?

Bird Shit.

The lawn is covered in so much crap you can't walk on the grass. Rain and weather keep the 'white' from showing up in the aerial shots, but it is there. Those birds are doing their part to make our monuments beautiful.

At least from a distance.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To The Statue!

After breakfast we headed south to see the Statue of Liberty. We figured on hitting Canal Street and China Town afterwards. Little did we know that the Statue is an all day affair.

We stroll into Battery Park which is a pretty nice park to hang out. The ferry takes you to from the park to the statue and Elis Island, but first you need a ticket. The ticket line is substantial. It winds around this circular building located near the ferries. Once inside the building the line continues to wind around affectively doubling the perceived line size.

We score some tickets and head to the ferries. The building, which so cleverly concealed half the ticket line, also hides the line to get onto the ferry. The new line is huge. We settle in for a good 2 hour wait to board the ferry.

We use this opportunity to partake in some street vender goodness. I have to say this is the way to eat in New York. A delicious oversized hotdog with seasoned onions for a buck fifty. I'd eat that everyday, but I'd probably be dead within the year.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Waffles

Monday morning and I finally get my waffles. We roll down the block to a nearby breakfast joint that seems pretty popular. On the way we pass all the street vendors who sold knock off designer bags over the weekend. During the regular week they sell fruit which is just another example of New Yorker's carrying their breakfast.

We're jammed in the back of Lindy's and presented with menus. I go straight for the waffles. $15 dollars for waffles! They had better be some damn good waffles.

They weren't. In fact it wasn't even 'they'. It was 'it'. A small Belgian waffle.

Between sticker shock and the terrible service, I missed our hotel spread.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

John the Pizza Man

Pizza is a big deal in New York, or so we've heard. Before venturing to the city we looked up the 'best' pizza places in the city. We settled on two locations. The first visit is to John's Pizzeria on Times Square.

We really weren’t sure of its location, so we asked around a bit. Turns out your average street vendor knows next to nothing about his surroundings. We talked to a couple of nice folks; asking them for directions to one of the top 5 pizza joints in NYC.

They didn't know. Could be anywhere. Could be a block from their stupid magazine stand!

Anyway, John's is in a converted church with stained glass and such, and his pizza is better than anything you can get in Lawrence. Of course, it helps when you eat it in God's house.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Can See For Miles...

We are now a thousand feet over Manhattan. The sun is finally visible now that there are no other buildings hiding us in shadows. If anything the streets are more impressive from this height since you still cannot see their full length through the city.

Oddly enough the tower doesn't sway. You can get sea sick on the top of the Sears Tower, but the Empire States Building is rock solid. We were also outside walking around the ESB instead of in a glass enclosure. Ultimately, the ESB was the better experience.

The return trip down is a bit rough. They have multiple elevators going up to the observation deck, but only 1 going down. There is a 30 minute wait to go down 6 floors where you meet up with the more efficient express elevators. Normally we would have had to wait, but we had the sleeping baby.

To our personal elevator!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tallest Building

The Empire State Building is enjoying its renewed status as the tallest building in NYC. For $20 you get to ride to the 86th floor observatory. For and additional $15 you can ride all the way up to the 102nd floor where they built a zeppelin port.

It really wasn't terribly busy based on the number of roped off areas, but we still had to wade through lines for about 30 minutes. Once we made it to the elevators we suddenly became very important.

We had a sleeping baby in a stroller.

This imbued us with rock star status as we were hustled to a personal elevator to the 80th floor. Once there, we were once again given our own elevator to the observatory on the 86th. We probably skipped about 10 minutes of line.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Time Square

We wondered up and down the boardwalk gawking like tourists. At one end is a giant M&M store which is across the street from a Hersey's store. I wish they were in the center because it would create some kind of unholy crossroads of junk food.

Unsatisfied with candy we found Junior's for lunch. This was our first memorable meal in New York. Junior's is famous for their cheese cake, but the rest of their food is exceptional as well.

While waiting for our food the Naked Cowboy got out of a cab and set up shop. After our meal we wondered over to his spot and saw his act. Basically he stands there in his tighty whities and invites woman to take pictures with him. (He keeps his tip money in his boots)

Neither of our wives were willing to pay for their asses to be pinch.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sight Seeing

We hit Grand Central station as our warm up to the city. It's an awe inspiring building as you stare at its ceiling that quickly turns into a functioning rail station as you glance down. It felt disjointed that they actually used this museum like place for something functional.

From Grand Central we took the shuttle to Time Square. (The shuttle is actually a subway, which makes no sense) Time Square is much bigger than TV makes it appear. It's bracketed by two giant TV screens. One screen is owned by Coke, and the other screen is run by Budweiser.

Prostrate yourself before our American gods!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Subway

There are a lot of stories revolving around the New York Subways, so we were a bit apprehensive as we descended for our first trip underground. While I wouldn't call the subways disgusting, they are definitely grimy. It's all grey tile and sheet metal, so even when it's clean it looks dirty. Metro cards cost $24 for unlimited rides over 7 days which beats the hell out of renting a vehicle.

Dirty or not, here we come.

We took them everywhere in Manhattan, and got to know them reasonably well. If you were lucky you got on a car where a good street performer was playing some groovy music. If you were unlucky, you got a terribly loud performer who rode with you the entire trip.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sunday

We roll out of bed and out the door around 9 o'clock. Not the earliest of starts, but we're on vacation. Breakfast awaits us in the Executive Lounge which is much more crowded than we anticipated. Apparently the hotel has managed to jam a lot of people into the top 10 floors.

The spread was pretty decent. We had bagels, croissants, turnovers, cereal, and fresh fruit. I was a bit disappointed they didn't have the do-it-yourself waffle irons. Hilton owns Embassy Suites, so you would think they could send some over.

I have a suspicion that New Yorker's don't really like breakfast. I believe they want every part of that meal to be portable and disposable. Waffles just don't fit in.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Da' Pope

We actually returned to Rockefeller for dinner that night. They setup an outdoor café in the ice rink next to where they were building the bar. Did you follow me there? We ate on temporary tables, located on the future site of a temporary bar, located in a temporarily closed ice rink.

Apparently space is at a premium.

After our lovely meal we wondered around the shopping district and ended up at St. Patrick's Cathedral. We were very naïve about it. We wondered by and the doors were open. We peaked in from across the street, and thought what an amazing church.

We went to investigate and discovered it was THE St Patrick's. The Pope had held mass in the cathedral that day. We breathed the same air as the Pope. Surely that's good for some kind of sin insurance.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Cost of NYC

We returned to the Hotel to let our youngest member acquire a much needed nap. While she slept a few of us explored the Executive Lounge. Another perk of having an Executive level room is access to the 44th floor of the building. This is where they serve free breakfast, appetizers, drinks, and internet to 'executives' like us.

We sit down to some pot stickers, scallops, shrimp, and these strange shredded beef mini hot pockets. We then hit the bar for some early evening cocktails where we learn this disturbing fact:

Bud Light Bottle: $8
Makers & Coke: $15

We immediately derided the hotel for their ridiculous prices. Of course, we later discovered this is about average. In New York, a $6 bottle of beer is to be treasured. Think about that the next time you get a $2 bottle or a $4 double.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Rockefeller

Our hotel is situated almost directly on Rockefeller Square, so it was naturally our first visit. There are tons of people running about at all times on the streets. It's not as crowded as the movies portray it, but every street was as crowded as Mass St here in Lawrence.

Upon arrival to Rockefeller, we discovered they had dismantled the ice rink the week prior. For the summer they put up a 'Rink Bar', which they were in the middle of constructing. However, all is not lost because there is a Godiva chocolatier on the square.

And they served ice cream.

While not as good as the Ghirardelli in San Francisco, it was quite excellent.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

First Impressions

From the bus it felt like any other town. It could have been anywhere until we reached 2nd street. I had a Joey Lawrence moment as I stared down a man made Grand Canyon. Most city streets have an end, but this one stretched to the horizon. We turned on Park Ave and stopped at Grand Central station.

Texas is a lie. Everything is bigger in New York.

We checked into the Hilton New York, took and elevator to the 35th floor, and unloaded into our hotel room. Our room was an Executive level room which means it was the same as every other room only higher. One would expect quite the view from a football field in height. In New York, it's just the side of another taller building with tiny little taxis running about in the street.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New York City

And we're off once again on another adventure in big city living. Yes this counts as our 3rd vacation in less than a year requiring airline travel. And we're heading to the biggest city of them all, NYC.

We flew Midwest again because they give you chocolate chip cookies. Why don't other airlines do this? It's so simple and garners so much respect. It might have had something to do with the only direct flight as well, but I'm pretty sure it's the cookies.

We collected our gear and took the bus into Manhattan. We figured on taking
a taxi, but the Pope was in town. He was cause for a number of streets
being closed and traffic doubling it's usually insanity. This craziness doubled a taxi's fair to $50, and the 5 of us would be asked to take two taxis.

Bus FTW!


Games
GameInterestRelease Date
Civilization IV1
C&C 31
Company of Heroes1
Half Life 21
Half Life 2: Episode One1
Supreme Commander1
Call of Duty 22
Darwinia2
Dungeon Runners2
Dungeon Siege II2
Far Cry2
Galactic Civilization II2
Hitman: Blood Money2
Jade Empire2
Neverwinter Nights 22
Prey2
Psychonauts2
Sam & Max: Episode 12
Titan Quest2
Dark Messiah Might and Magic3
Defcon3
Heroes of Might and Magic V3
Indigo Prophecy3
KOTOR II3
LEGO Star Wars3
Marvel Ultimate Alliance3
Space Rangers 2: The Rise of the Dominators3
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl3
Stubbs the Zombie3
War Front3
Warhammer: Mark of Chaos3
Infernal35/8/2007
Shadowrun25/9/07
Pirates of the Burning SeaM6/1/2007
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars?6/5/2007
Two Worlds?6/26/07
Sins of A Solar Empire?8/1/2007
BioShock18/21/2007
Mass Effect19/7/07
Age of ConanM10/30/07
Crysis1Fall 2007
Elveon?Fall 2007
Half-Life 2: Episode Two1Fall 2007
Portals1Fall 2007
Spore1Fall 2007
Stranglehold?Fall 2007
Tabula RasaMFall 2007
Team Fortress 22Fall 2007
Dragon Age?Winter 2007
Fable 2?Winter 2007
Field Ops?Winter 2007
Halo Wars?Winter 2007
Gods & Heroes: Rome RisingMWinter 2007
Haze?Winter 2007
Hellgate: London1Winter 2007
HuxleyMWinter 2007
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men?Winter 2007
Left 4 Dead?Winter 2007
The AgencyMSpring 2008
Empire Earth III?Spring 2008
Guild Wars 2 MSpring 2008
Jericho?Spring 2008
Sacred 2?Spring 2008
Savage 2?Spring 2008
Time Shift2Spring 2008
Universe at War: Earth Assault3Spring 2008
The Witcher?Spring 2008
CellFactor?2008
Darkest of Days?2008
On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkeness: Episode 122008
Warhammer OnlineM2008
Alliance: The Silent War??
Alone in the Dark??
Assassin's Creed??
BioWare MMO??
The Crossing??
Dungeon Hero??
Fallout 3??
Lego Batman??
Mythos??
Overloard??
Space Seige??
Culdcept SagaPC??
Gears of WarPC??
God of WarPC??
Beautiful KatamariPC??
OkamiPC??
Resistance: Fall of ManPC??
Odin's SpherePC??
Castle CrashersPC??

1 - I will buy it
2 - I'll buy it at discount
3 - Other people think it's good, but I wasn't interested when I first heard about it
M - Mainly Multiplayer. See if friends get interested.
? - Find out more about this game
PC? - Will it be released on the PC?