Sep 212005

Monday, I gave my lecture on moving from Film to Digital Photography from some folks on Microsoft.
Tomorrow morning, I am give a variant of the lecture to the journalism class at Franklin High School.
Tomorrow afternoon, I am going to give the same lecture I gave Microsoft to a group at Isilon Systems.
Thursday morning, I am going to speak to a journalism class at The Bush School.
Jen teaches at Franklin; Andrew works at Bush. I have many friends who work at Microsoft. We use software and hardware made by both Isilon Systems and Microsoft.
I think I have a few too many planned activities for a vacation. I bought three science fiction books today that I haven’t even started! Next time, I will either take more vacation time, give fewer lectures, or take a vacation that is not prompted by weddings.

 Posted by at 12:48 am
Sep 202005

Dan and Audryn got married this past Saturday on the shore of Lake Washington in the Seattle Tennis Club.
Dan Lovinger and Audryn Mack
Dan Lovinger and Audryn Mack
It was a very nice evening ceremony and reception. I saw people from CMU that I haven’t seen in almost 10 years, including Bob the Lizard, Steve Gifford, and Dave Markley. Aleecia, a person I have seen recently, was there; Faisal, Aleecia’s husband, was not. I will be seeing Faisal at Tom and Bethany’s wedding in Columbus this coming Saturday.

Dan and Audryn are flying to New York City for their honeymoon right now. Dan asked that I send him some restaurant recommendations. He didn’t necessarily want fancy restaurants, just restaurants with good food. This includes places that serve good corned beef. I also threw in a couple of nicer places because they are so good. My recommendations are below. You might notice that the writing isn’t great; I was a bit sleepy when I finally sat down at the computer.

  • Corned beef. There are four places to get good corned beef/pastrami/deli food in Manhattan. They are: the Stage Deli, the Carnegie Deli, the 2nd Avenue Deli, and Katz’s Delicatessen. Don’t bother going to the Stage Deli. Cute sandwich names, but not great.

    Carnegie Deli. 7th Avenue at 57th Street. They serve huge, great sandwiches. The waitstaff is rumored to be very rude, so I have only ever gotten takeout. They deliver as well.

    2nd Avenue Deli 2nd Ave and 10th Street. My favorite deli in New York City. It is a kosher-style deli–no milk products here. Don’t ask for a reuben. Great matzoh ball soup and terrific corned beef. Tongue is my favorite cut of meat here–it’s the meat that tastes you back! (Thanks for the joke, James Anderson!) The pastrami is also good.

    Katz’s Delicatessen Houston and Ludlow. A classic cafeteria style deli. (They also offer table service.) Don’t lose your ticket when you visit! Arguably has the best hot dogs in NYC. Great pastrami and corned beef. If you don’t do table service, tip the counter man. They are not really kosher style and have okay reubens.

    For all of the delis, there are two kinds of pickles: semi sour and fully sour. I like semi sour. There are also pickled tomatoes, but I have never had them. All of the delis have websites; google will find them.

  • Vegan Korean food. HanGawi 32nd between 5th and Madison/S. side of the street. It is a wonderful experience and some of the best vegetarian food in New York City. It’s a little expensive for vegetarian food, but well worth it. I have never had a bad meal here, and everyone I have brought here has enjoyed it. Wear nice socks–you have to take your shoes off at the door.
  • Italian wines and pizza. Otto Enoteca and Pizzeria. 8th Street off of 5th Avenue. I go to this restaurant frequently. It server solid food with good service and has a fantastic Italian wine list. There are many small Italian tapas-style dishes, pizzas, and pastas. I recommend getting a couple of small dishes, one or two pizzas or pastas, and dessert. For one of your desserts, get the olive oil coppeta. It may sound weird, but it is really, really good. They are also open for lunch. At lunch, it is easy to get a seat or eat at the bar. In the evenings, it can get really. really crowded. But it is also fun to sit at the bar or stand at one of the tables in the bar area and people watch. I really feel it is worth the wait. After going here (or before), you can walk through Washington Square Park one block away. Then, walk down to Bleeker Street. and over to 6th Avenue. Bleeker has some fun shops, and at 6th Avenue, you can see the famous basketball playgrounds.
  • Chocolate. Jacques Torres. 350 Hudson Street at King. It’s worth visiting. Get some hot chocolate and sit at their bar or cafe area. Perfect for this time of year in NYC. I can’t say more.
  • French pastries. Payard. Lexington between 73rd and 74th. The best French pastries in Manhattan. Do not eat in the restaurant area–the service is snooty and the food isn’t worth the price. But the pastries are really, really good. Stay in the cafe area or get the pastries to go. If it isn’t too cool, you can walk over the Park and eat them there. It’s a perfect location if you are checking out the shops or museums on the upper east side.
  • Comfort Food/Late night dining. Blue Ribbon on Sullivan between Prince and Spring. Big sharable dishes and the best oysters in Manhattan. Serves food until 4 am.
  • French bistro. Les Halles. Park Avenue between 28th and 29th. Classic French bistro food as described in Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bordain. Good steaks. Awesome French fries. Really, the best restaurant fries in NYC.
  • French cheese restaurant. Artisanal. Park Ave at 32nd. French bistro style food. Quite frankly, the best selection of French cheeses in NYC.
  • Italian cheese restaurant. ‘inoteca. 98 Rivington at Ludlow. Open late. Lots of small dishes. Good Italian wine selection. An enormous selection of Italian cheeses. If you want cheese, be sure to ask for the cheese menu–it’s separate from the regular menu.
  • Other Italian. Lupa on Thompson between Houston and Bleeker. Same owners as Otto. Really good Italian food. Open for lunch and dinner
  • Nicer: Savoy at Prince and Crosby You can go in nice jeans and a t-shirt, but I would recommend wearing a nice shirt. The food here is exquisite. One of the biggest proponents of using local, fresh ingredients. Mediterranean food. It’s one of the places that I think I should go to more often in NYC.
  • High end: Veritas. Unless you sit in the bar, I recommend wearing a nice shirt and slacks, but nice jeans and a nice button-down shirt are okay too. You may want to make a reservation, but Larry and I have just walked in a couple of times. The food in the dining room is $72 fixed price for a three course meal, an amuse-bouche and an after-dessert dessert. The extensive wine list starts at $30 and goes up to over $10,000. There are many amazing bottles of wine in the $100 to $200 price range. That seems like a lot until you realize that you are spending $72 per person on food. You may be asking, why would I recommend a place like this to you? It’s simple–Veritas is one of the top three restaurants I have been to in New York City. You can spend more at other restaurants and get a much worse dinner. The wait staff knows what they are doing and the food is extraordinary. The wine list is tremendous–ask for help in selecting a wine. I don’t know how this restaurant makes the food and wine taste so good. If you go to one high-end restaurant in NYC, I think it should be this one. 20th Street between Broadway and Park on the South Side of the street.

I also sugguested that Dan and Audryn go to the restaurants in the their hotel, Le Parker Meridian. Norma’s has a fun breakfast, the burger joint is supposed to be fantastic, and the French Bistro in the hotel is great. Finally, I recommended walking around and eating in Chinatown.

 Posted by at 2:46 pm
Sep 172005

New York Skyline
This was the view from my kitchen window this past September 11.

Here is a letter I sent to friends on September 11, 2001. I was in Europe for the first time by myself. I was in Paris. I had been there for two days after arriving from four days in London. I was due to leave on September 13; the earliest flight I could get back to the United States was several days later.


I’ve spoken with a lot of you in the past couple of days. I have exchanged email with others and been remiss in contacting some other folks. I’m writing this message for a couple of reasons. First, I would like to let everyone know what’s going on with me. Second, I would like to hear back from folks to see how they are holding up. Finally, this letter is self-indulgent; I am very upset and want the theraputic benefits of writing about what has happened.

Please feel free not to read this letter. The past couple of days have been quite traumatic, and while this letter is not graphic, it may stir up unpleasant memories.

I’m sending this letter to many people I know. I’m not disclosing the recipients as I’m not sure if folks like to have their email addresses made public. Please feel free to pass along this note, but it really isn’t for publication or mass distribution. Finally, please excuse any spelling errors. The emael program I am using has a flakey speeeling chk faeture.

I’m sitting in the Time International offices in Paris, around 10 minutes from the center of town midway between La Defence and L’Arc de Triomphe. They have graciously allowed me to use the phone and computer here. In fact, they even bought me some cheese and fruit for lunch.

I flew to London on Wednesday, September 5 and took the train to Paris on Wednesday, September 9. I was scheduled to leave Paris yesterday (Thursday, Sept. 13), but that flight was cancelled. I am now scheduled to arrive in Boston on Monday, but I am not optomistic about that flight actually departing.

I was just getting settled into Paris on Tuesday. My command of French was returing from High School, I had successfully ordered meals, and I had been able to visit many impressive sites. I stopped by a Cyber Cafe around the corner of my hotel to check my email at around 4 PM local time (~10 AM EST). I read an email message from my friend Andrew Stellman sent around 10 minutes earlier.

Andrew had sent it from his mother’s Columbia account. He wrote that two planes had crashed into the WTC and that he was at home and okay.

Andrew’s message did not sink in at first. I thought it was some sort of bizarre accident or that the planes were small Cessnas. It was certainly a disaster, but not one of unspeakable magnitude. I quickly went to get further news. CNN MSNBC AP AFP Reuters. All of the sites were busy. MSN France had a brief statement and the New York Times had a short story before its web site also became unavailable.

I tried to send out email messages to folks who did not know I was going to Paris. I believe at this point I will have notified everyone; I’m sorry if I didn’t let you know sooner.

I quickly ran down the block to a nearby bar where we switched from the channel SkyNews to CNN. The story unfolded quickly. From when I read Andrew’s note to when I got to the bar, both towers had collapsed. I also saw the footage for the first time and realized that there was no way this was an accident.

People who know me know that I am not a heavy drinker. Yet in quick succession, I had a beer, two vodka tonics, and another beer. Honestly, it didn’t help dull the shock or the pain.

Before going to bed, I managed to contact a few people. The phone lines really only started to work around 11:30 PM local time. It is incredibly frustrating not being able to contact people when you need to.

The tragedy did not hit me the next day. I forced myself to get out of the house and went to the Louvre. I bought all of the newspapers I could get. When reading them, I was nauseous. Several times I began to break down. All of the photos were beyond horrific. I cannot think about some of them without starting to cry. Similarly, the news was aweful. When I read about the number of firefighters who probably perished, I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach. Today I found out several companies from Park Slope were among those first on the scene.

However, as I said, I don’t feel as if the tragedy had hit me. I walked around all day. In the early evening, before getting dinner, I went to the U.S. Embassy and left flowers. I stayed up late watching CNN and writing letters and went to bed around 3 AM local time.

I left for the Airport yesterday morning. When I got there, I immediately found out that all of the flights had been cancelled. I feel trapped and upset. Even though I can’t help, I want to go home and be with my friends and family.

I’ve spoken to quite a few Americans. Everyone is upset and in shock. I’ve found that the closer someone lived to NYC, the more upset they are. I spoke with some backpackers the other day from Long Island. They were very upset; one of their friend’s father is a fireman. I have not spoken to anyone here who lives in New York City.

It is very difficult to describe how I feel. I feel like crying at almost every opportunity. I feel nauseous, and I want to lash out at everything that causes me the least bit of anger. I keep wanting more information, but I find that the news just gets me more upset. I’m not hungry, and at points during the day, I feel like I am walking around on automatic. [ I am going to stop reading and watching the news for now. ]

I’m not really sure when I am getting home or even back to the United States, but I hope it’s soon. Part of me doesn’t want to believe what has happened; I want to see the skyline for myself. This is the skyline I have seen almost every day for the past six years; this is the skyline I see every time I take the F-train to Manhatten.

I know I should be glad I was safe when this happened. But I am still homesick. I am sure I will eventually get back home, but I can’t wait to be there.

My thoughts are with all of you at home. I hope you and everyone you know are safe and well. If you get a chance, write me a note. If you don’t have a chance, that’s okay, too. These are trying times, and I hope and believe we will survive.

Warmest regards and
best wishes,

[Update to indicate that I wrote the letter in 2001, not 2005! Dumb mistake.]

 Posted by at 5:11 pm
Sep 172005

Samuel Adams Utopias
I went to a fundraiser for the Fountain House Gallery where Betsy volunteers there. The Fountain House Gallery is a part of Fountain House, an organization that allows people to help themselves recover from mental illness. The Gallery is a location where artists can work and sell their work. The event was a great success; Rudolph Giuliani gave the keynote address.

James and Ginny in Brooklyn Bridge Park
I went out with James, Ginny and Mike a couple of weeks ago. We went to Superfine and then walked through Brooklyn Bridge Park. James is on the left, and Ginny is on the right. In the background is the Manhattan bridge. There are a lot of plans for the park, but I like how it has a kind of rustic feel right now.

Mike in Brooklyn Bridge Park
This is a photo of Mike at the Brooklyn Bridge Park

At the Central Park Zoo
Last Sunday, I visited the Central Park Zoo with some members of the Rose family and Betsy. Rich and Lisa Rose were there with their children Zoe and Jackson. Lisa was there with two of her sisters. Rich took this picture in front of the Sea Lion pool, before using up all of the memory on my digital card with an excessively long movie. We were all able to get in for free by combining our membership cards. The Wildlife Conservation Society is one of my favorite charities. From L to R: Lisa’s sister, Lisa’s sister, Lisa with Jackson, Zoe with Me, and Betsy.

The polar bear at the Central Park Zoo
As we were wrapping up our visit at the Central Park Zoo, we saw an amazing sight: one of the polar bears had swum up to the glass and was staring out at the crowd. It is the closest I have even been to a polar bear.

John in Columbus Circle
John visited New York City a couple of weeks ago. We walked from the village up to Columbus Circle at 59th Street. The park there was recently redone with a fantastic fountain. The fountain is quite loud and drowns out the surrounding traffic. You don’t realize how loud it is until after you leave the park, and the rest of the city seems quiet.

Sam Greenfield in Columbus Circle
This is a photo of me at Columbus Circle.

Samuel Adams Utopias
Betsy and I went to The House of Brews a few months ago. I have been there with Betsy and others several times since then. In addition to the location on 46th Street that we visited, there is also a location on 51st Street. One of the beers we enjoyed was Utopias from Samuel Adams. This beer is a very strong barley wine that is served at The House of Brews as a very expensive one ounce serving. Very few bottles were made. The purple color you see in the photo above is from the flash of the camera. In regular lighting the bottle has a golden color. Utopias is a very strong beer with a very smooth taste and finish. If you don’t like both barley wine and whiskey, you probably won’t like this beer.

[Editted 2005-10-07 to add link to The House of Brews]
[Editted 2006-11-10 to remove John’s last name]

 Posted by at 4:40 pm
Sep 172005

I arrived in Seattle yesterday. I’ll be here for a week before I fly to Columbus. I’m here in Seattle for Dan and Audryn’s wedding. In Columbus, I’ll be attending the wedding of Tom and Bethany. These will be weddings #3 and #4 for this year. It’s definitely a nice reason to go see people.

My flight was delayed a bit yesterday. I was supposed to arrive in Seattle at 8:30; I ended up arriving at 1 am. First there was a scheduled delay. Then we got switched with a malfunctioning plane to Seattle so another flight wouldn’t get delayed. When they fixed the mechanical problem, the plane needed more fuel. After getting more fuel, the airline needed new paperwork. And then there were ground delays.

The flight was very nice. I had an empty seat next to me; in the seat after that was someone who I believe to be an air marshal. He stayed on the plane from the previous flight even though it was not a connecting flight, he told me that he flew every day from Seattle to Washington and New York, and he knew all of the proper exercise you could do on the plane. To top it all off, he was studying a book on written Arabic. And not just reading–he was taking notes and quizzing himself after each section. He was a very nice person; I should have asked him directly if he was an air marshal.

Seattle’s weather has been a bit unpredictable (to me). Yesterday, when I went into the city, it was in the mid-fifties. In the afternoon, it was in the seventies. Then in the evening, it was back in the high fifties. I bought a sweater.

I haven’t posted in a while, and I have some new photos uploaded. Look for more pictures later today.

 Posted by at 12:12 pm
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