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New York Commentary

September 24, 2013

Filed under: Health,observations,Uncategorized,Wellness — Tags: , , , — admin @ 5:25 pm

I just got back from New York City , and couldn’t help making some observations:

As California contemplates naming its newest bridge after the still very alive Willie Brown, it’s worth noting that two well known bridges in New York have been unsuccessfully named after two well respected deceased politicians.

The Triborough Bridge was renamed in 2008 after Robert Kennedy and the Queensboro, or 59th Street Bridge, was renamed for former Mayor Ed Koch. Maybe it takes more than a few years, but both  names are used only derisively by New Yorkers, despite numerous signs. The cabbies are particularly dismissive, noting they expect soon-to-be former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to pay to have the Brooklyn Bridge named after himself.

Speaking of Brooklyn. You can’t help but notice how the borough has become the center of the universe to many. With Nets shirts and paraphernalia far out outnumbering Knicks jerseys, even in Manhattan. Brooklyn is the trendy place to live, work, start a new business or just hang out. But more than one New Yorker pointed out how difficult it is to drive anywhere in Brooklyn and a few noted that it still has a lot of rough edges with graffiti decorating many buildings, and toni new restaurants in neighborhoods where you really would not want to walk at night. Maybe they’re just jealous…who knows?

We took a walk along the High Line –  the west side railway converted to a pedestrian walkway. The best part of the  walk  is the section that crosses 10th Avenue, which includes stadium seating behind a row of huge windows.  It’s like watching a series of big-screen televisions, all playing reality TV, New York style. A favorite place for natives to enjoy lunch.

You can’t help but notice the increase in bikes in New York City. The Citi Bikes program which allows anyone who signs up, to take a bike from one stand and return it to another, seems to be a hit with New Yorkers. We did witness a number of near-injury accidents with pedestrians and cars. It just adds to the element of surprise in navigating the New York streets. Drivers seem to universally hate the new vehicles, I guess until they get out of their car and on to a bike. A similar program is just getting under way in San Francisco.

We had a very nice chat with a cab driver from Senegal, explaining to him the difference between being a cabbie in NYC and SF. A few hills but fewer cabs: pedestrians who walk first and expect you to stop: drivers who are relatively polite: fewer people; smaller city; and a host of other factors. He added that driving inn New York can be stressful but it’s just part of the job.

Cabbies here are like waitresses in LA. They are all on their way to something else. Our driver from Senegal was just waiting to start his own business (undetermined) and a second cabbie was going to community college to get an AA so he could become a police officer, like his sister. They actually give policemen a small replica badge (3 each) to give to family members that says “brother of policeman” or whatever is appropriate. He says it helps with minor infractions, but does nothing if you’re caught speeding. My brother-in-law  is a SF cop, we got nada. (Will have to check on it)

Genetically Modified food doesn’t seem to be a big issue in New York. Maybe it’s just because we had an initiative that failed in California, or maybe it’s just my wife who won’t eat GMO food, but no one seems to even notice GMO’s. Even a restaurant specializing in healthy , nutrient rich food, made no mention of GMO’s on the menu, and our waiter, seemed puzzled when we asked.

Finally, no trip would be complete without some comments on flying. Yes, we continue to use United Airlines, hoping against hope that we’ll score a free upgrade, based on my lifetime miles. We returned to SF on a reconfigured 757, which included wifi. I never used it before so for $10 I gave it a try. Worked pretty well, although there’s a bit of a delay in response time for web pages. Plus, I only bought an hour and lost part of my time when we crossed a time zone and my clock updated automatically.

While the flights went well, despite two lousy movies, the trip ended on a sour note, as our luggage took almost an hour to get delivered to the baggage claim area. I wouldn’t mention it except that it happens every time we travel. Retrieving baggage at SFO always takes longer than any other airport. No -one seems to be able to explain why, but it’s been consistent for the 20 years I’ve been traveling out of SFO.

As United Airlines begins a new PR campaign to convince us that it really cares about it’s customers, I wish they would fix the parts that matter to its customers.


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