Monday, July 20, 2009

JetBlue Misery

Tonight I have a short rant. Been flying back and forth to New York on JetBlue four times, now. Three flights were great, but they were normal-sized airplanes--A380s I think. Today, coming back from New York, we were on an Embraer 190, narrow, cigar-shaped airplane, and we were back of the middle. Bad, bad, bad.

Forget the fact that my reading light had burned out. I was probably one of only three people on the flight who wanted to read...but like I said, never mind that.

The main difficulty was the temperature. I always carry a light jacket in expectation of cooler temperatures aloft. The plane flies at 30,000 plus feet, so one might expect cool air, don't you think? But no. Not only was it hot, but there was no air circulation without using those nasty little individual air jets which blow germs from all over the airplane right into your face.

I asked the female attendant, Dodi, if it were normal for the plane to be so warm. (I was not the only uncomfortable person by any means.) She said rather curtly: "I'll adjust it."

But no adjustment was forthcoming. I thought I might ask her about it again, but by then the attendants had erected their barrier against terrorists, or whatever, sealing off the front facilities and their service area from the rest of the cabin. I think it's so the captain can come out and use the restroom. At any rate, I decided to wait and hope for improvement.

So, an hour and a half later--after the barrier had been removed--I went up front to the restroom and, since I was feeling like I was being slowly deprived of sufficient oxygen, I asked her a couple more questions about how the AC worked. She said the AC system is supposed to balance the flow of air between the front of the plane and the back. She tried, she said, to increase the air flow to the back (which obviously meant reducing it to the front where she was sitting--and to be fair where the pilot and co-pilot were, as well--) but the control was very temperamental and any bump could dislodge it.

I am inclined to accept explanations from staff on airplanes. I want you to know that. I have my doubts about this, but we don't want the people flying the plane to have insufficient air and fall asleep, do we?

In the end, after considerable turbulence, we landed safely. The pilot and co-pilot did a great job. But the sense of insufficient air didn't go away until we walked out into the terminal where, fortunately, there was no problem with air or airconditioning, at all.

I'm not sure whether JetBlue is trying to save money by raising the temp on its planes and restricting the ingress of oxygen to the absolute limit. Or whether the Embraer 190 is just a crummy aircraft. Or whether we would have noticed a problem if we'd been sitting up front, where we usually sit.

It has made me thoughtful, though, about flying that airline again.

Today I would give JetBlue a big thumbs down.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Pix

The intersection near Cooper-Union in the East Village. The man near the right edge didn't appreciate having his picture taken. He screamed at me when he got close, clearly mistaking me for someone who was near his garbage can yesterday, perhaps competing for cans.

A few blocks away, near 4th Avenue and East Seventh St.

Striking graffitti in the Bowery

This leafy greeness is adjacent to a fine juice bar on 11th Street and 2nd Avenue named Liquiteria.

The rose-bedecked concrete playground on Thompson Street in SoHo.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Younger and faster

I love New York but it's getting too young for me.

Last night we ate on East 4th St and 2nd avenue, surrounded by the future, age 22. Hordes of it, in every permutation of race and nationality, all looking fabulous and having a splendid time at the top of their lungs.

Everything about Manhattan changes as you go south. Buildings get smaller, the population on the street gets younger, the prices drop. Bicycles become pedestrian hazards as they disregard red lights. We almost got mowed down at Union Square by a motorized wheel chair whose occupant was in a hurry to cross the street before the light changed. He was aiming for the ramp at the curb into which we were about to step. Whoops! Lesson learned. Avoid those ramps, they have preferential users.

This kind of immersion experience is excellent for the circuits of the brain, I think. Every part of one's thinking apparatus has to keep functioning at all times--a little like driving Houston's freeways, except it really is ALL THE TIME. At night we drop into bed like stones.

I'm posting pictures of the trip on the blog: see below for one bunch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New York Photos

The commentary in this post is by Leon Hale. The photos are mine.

When I'm at home and think of New York City, this is the picture I visualize most often. It was shot in the lower end of Central Park, through the trees to the high-rises on the street called Central Park South.

Construction workers on the Upper East Side in Manhattan gather around a street vendor for their lunch. Taco and fajita time.

Vehicular traffic is no longer allowed in Times Square and on weekends the street is invaded by hordes of visitors. We heard half a dozen different languages spoken in this crowd.

They celebrated Bastille Day on Sunday with a street fair and three blocks of French food.

A little touch of the country in New York -- a tomato plant growing on the sidewalk on East 13th St.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's cooler here

Cooler in more than one sense, actually, although having weather less hot than Texas isn't all that difficult.

But we're presently in the haven of hip, in search of adventure. Not too much adventure, either. Just the right amount.

What I'm talking about is downtown Manhattan. New York City. The East Village, to be precise. We're in a condo I found on the internet. Not bad, either, if you overlook the motor on the AC in the bedroom, which sounds like a car engine that won't turn over.

We're going to find out if we can sleep with the noise. Or maybe it will be cool enough tonight that we can turn it off. Ah, yes. There is a nice thought.

We've been near here before during summertime, in my son's flat while he and his wife were on vacation elsewhere. That was a couple of years ago. A nice sunny flat like this one, except the airconditioner was a window unit about ten inches wide that sighed cool air. The only way we could be sure it was actually emitting anything was to put a hand on top of a vent. We enjoyed a very hot week. (But not like home, now. Oh, no.)

Today's high here wss a steaming 81, with high seventies promised for tomorrow. Every time we congratulate a New Yorker on the great weather, they remind us that they just came out of a solid month of rain. Every day. Isn't that just sickening?

Anyway, all we've done this afternoon after moving in is try to get the AC fixed (unsuccessfully). So we will experience the hipness tomorrow. It's pretty funny to imagine it: LH and me, who together are about a century and a quarter older than the oldest person around here. (There's a sobering thought!) Heck, we're older than most of the buildings. We will be invisible as we walk around.

We did see one hip sight, today, though. We were careering around a corner in the taxi that brought us here. A guy on a motorcycle wearing a black tank and black pants, both well strewn with shiny silver chains, was pivoting his steed in the middle of the intersection. Well, actually, you can see that some weekends right in front of Royers...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Where to?

Do you know that Houston is actually less hot and more comfortable than central Texas? That's been true recently. Yesterday it was a balmy 86 in Houston and the temp for CT is promised to be 103 for today. Yikes! And both places are humid, except Houston actually had a nice rain yesterday. We were here for it, and so we know first hand that rain is still possible. We'd celebrate more noisily if it happened at Winedale, but we don't know if it did.

We're travelling in a moment back there, but just now, thinking about it, I've got New York City on my mind. Did you know that the average high for July there is 84? Doesn't that sound, well, sort of civilized?

We've had to abandon our retirement plan of winters in Texas and summers in NM on account of problems with altitude. We've been looking for alternatives. Surely summer in Manhattan wouldn't qualify as an alternative...would it? All the people who live there and can afford to leave in the summer, do--so how pleasant could it be?

Living in NYC isn't easy in the best circumstances. I mean, even the really nice co-op buildings have window AC units. Remember those?

And one has to walk. WALK! Do I remember how to do that?

Will keep you posted if we decide to look for answers to these questions. Meanwhile, I'm scoping out Oregon on the internet.