Back to New York

There hasn’t been a lot of blogging time for me the last few days. Having scheduled an important demonstration in Minnesota for next week, I went to pull together the equipment and software and found it’d been looted by other projects. The result has been what I might describe (if I weren’t so politically correct) as a “Chinese Fire Drill”. The stress has been incredible fun, if you like migraines and fatigue that is.

The stress increased a bit when I found I had to come up to New York to resolve some small issues prior to the Oscars broadcast (yes, the Oscars happen in Hollywood, but it’s all uplinked through New York.) My day of work today became a day of travel instead. Then, as I tried to book a hotel room in New York, I found the entire upper west side’s hotels booked up except for a few expensive ones I normally avoid. Here I sit then, in one of those, an old, old hotel called the Mayflower. It’s not comfortable, it’s not plush, it’s definitely not worth the rate, but it’s a place where I can undress without people laughing and pointing, so it’ll do.

The trip was laid on so suddenly that I didn’t even have time to get my laundry done. I literally packed a bag full of dirty clothes! When I got off the plane this afternoon, I immediately set about searching the streets for a laundry and found one, just a block from the hotel and dropped off my dingy duds to be sanitized. Then I hustled over to the network and dashed in to save the day … only there weren’t any problems. Apparently the software update we did earlier in the week eliminated all the glitches, and everything was running smoothly. So I took the time to do some minor updates, met with the engineering and network people, and made some plans. Then I headed back to the hotel, hoping I might perhaps get a drink and a nap.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have the personal quirk of drinking large quantities of cold fluids … water of the still and sparkling varieties, and iced tea (you Brits will have a ball ribbing me over that.) In this ancient hotel, I discovered that the ice machine is several floors away, which means either a lot of stair-climbing or two rides in the world’s slowest elevator. If ice is to be a pain, then there had to be a better way to keep a few drinks cold. No fridge (OLD hotel) … but there’s a tiny little room with a sink and some cabinets that they jokingly call a “kitchenette”. The room has a door … and a window … hmmmm! The forecast for the next few days calls for low temperatures, but not freezing temperatures. There’s the answer! I set a few bottles of iced tea and sparkling water out on the counter, opened the window, and shut the door. I now have a walk-in fridge!

I am on the internet courtesy of some unknown benefactor. Finding that this ancient hotel had nothing vaguely similar to internet access, and noting that the telephone bills local calls at $1.25 a minute, I bummed for a while until I began to experience serious internet withdrawal symptoms. Then I connected my WiFi transceiver and did a site survey. Within a few minutes I managed to connect to someone’s gateway nearby. I guess there are “wardrivers” and “warchalkers” who do this all the time, but I feel a little guilty … I’m being nice and not consuming a ton of bandwidth, just enough to send and receive my e-mail and blog a bit.

Exciting, isn’t it? I think I’ll do what you’re probably thinking of doing about now … I’m going to take a nap.

Sure wish there was a proper British pub in New York! Maybe there is, but finding it would be like searching for a truthful man at a political convention…

By the way, let me make use of this space by thanking my British mates for declaring me triumphantly non-poncey. Like Marmite and proper tea, it’s a momentous milestone on my journey back to my roots. Someone, far, far up toward the big forks of my family tree, must have been British!

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