Monday, February 26, 2007

Another visitor

It was a weekend of firsts for my friend Michelle, who made her first plane ride, her first train ride and her first trip to New York City. Seriously, this girl has never flown before, and yet she managed to navigate herself through one of the busiest airports in the world -- JFK -- to the Airtrain, and then through Jamaica station to the Long Island Rail Road. I was definitely impressed when she showed up at the local station without making a single "I'm lost" or panicked phone call. With all of the visitors I've had lately, I'm becoming a New York City tour guide. And I won't lie, some of the regular tourists spots are getting old. But mixed in with the typical stop in Times Square and Central Park, Michelle and I tried out a couple new sites. Instead of the Empire State Building, we went to the "Top of the Rock," the catchy name for the observation deck on top of Rockefeller Center. Granted, it's not quite as tall as Empire and the movie hype isn't there, but I actually liked it better. The line was shorter, the displays were newer and the view at the very top was unobstructed by glass or steel bars. We also took a look at the UN Building, which is really cool. Abbey and Adam met us for lunch at Burritoville, a really great Mexican chain restaurant that completely beats Chipotle any day. I've never seen a restaurant with so many vegetarian options -- soy sour cream, tempeh, and the option of whole wheat tortillas. Abbey left to babysit and Adam hung out with us for the rest of the night while we met up with friends for lots of bar hopping. Michelle's trip was over in no time. I drove her back to JFK early Sunday morning and then continued on to Jersey for an afternoon of Apples to Apples with Abbey, Adam, Mason, Fink and Sarah. With her first-flight jitters out of the way, I hope Michelle will come back soon. Now who's next?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Science in San Francisco

I just got back from a long weekend in San Francisco, and besides a nightmarish experience in the airport and a lingering cold, I had an amazing time. I left with two colleagues on Thursday morning for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting, a gathering of scientists, journalists and science PIOs. The day started early -- 3:15 a.m. Because of a huge ice storm the day before, we gave ourselves some extra time to get to JFK. Everything seemed to be running smoothly for a bit. We sailed through baggage check and security, grabbed a light breakfast, boarded the plane and taxied out to the runway. Then the plane pulled off to the side while the runway was inspected for ice one more time. And we sat. And sat. We listened to an announcement that the food available on the plane had run out (exempting first class, of course). And we sat some more. Finally, four and a half hours later, we took off. Our stomachs ached when the smell of fresh-baked cookies served in first class drifted back to our cramped quarters. And then we sat some more for the five and a half hour flight. We drifted through the rest of the night, stuffing our faces with Indian food and then going to bed. The rest of the weekend was great.

San Francisco is a beautiful city, almost European with its sidewalk dining, and yet unlike anything I've ever seen. The hills are filled with white and pastel-colored houses and buildings, and the taxis provide mini roller coaster rides to their passengers as they plummet downhill. We visited the typical spots: Fisherman's Wharf, where we watched the sea lions; Lombard Street, where we sped down the famous, although somewhat disappointing curviest road; Golden Gate Park, where we repeatedly received offers for mushrooms and "purple bud;" and Haight Street, where we ate some really good burritos. We also took a nighttime ferry cruise on the bay and visited most of the ethnic neighborhoods: North Beach (Italy), Chinatown and Little Saigon. The meeting itself was a sort of mini-reunion for me, bringing together some of the people I've met around the world in the past year or so. There's Katie, who I met in Illinois, visited me while I was in Switzerland, and now lives there. Neil, who I only knew through video conferences from Palo Alto before meeting in Geneva. Dave, who I heard about through the grapevine and met this weekend. These people, and many others, all mixed in with many new faces I'm bound to see somewhere else around the world.

Monday, February 12, 2007

"Happy" Valentine's Day

The little girl in me loves Valentine's Day. She loves the pink and red chocolate boxes, flowers and stuffed animals lining the rows of CVS and Target. She loves the flimsy valentines with images of cartoons and hearts. And she loves the brightly colored conversation candies, even though they make her sick. But the adult in me tells the little girl to stop dreaming, because none it actually means anything for her. Because once again, there will be no flowers delivered to her door. There won't be rose petals or romantic dinners -- just her and a bag of sugary hearts that make her stomach ache.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


That's a "woah" as in Joey Lawrence, added in with a bit of NKOTB's Joey McIntyre, and the less-famous 98 Degrees Lachey brother, Drew. What in the world could bring these three has-beens together? Dancing with the Stars, of course. (Well, that and the desparate need to revive their careers and dwindling bank accounts.) I never thought I'd see a Dancing with the Stars touring show. Actually, I didn't even know such a thing existed. But Friday night I got to see these three fading stars in full toe-pointing, hip-shaking action after Vanessa's dad acidentally ordered six extra tickets. I must say, I was impressed. The professional dancers were amazing, and the celebs were able to keep up pretty well. I don't know how you could leave the show without being just a little tempted to sign up for classes at Arthur Murray.