“Asking what a Chevrolet Citation looks like is like asking how a rose smells.”
My sister just sent me this picture of my three nephews and after looking at all three faces carefully, I’m absolutely positive we’re related.
Portland, OR July 26, 2007
I was actually driving through Portland in my friend’s Subaru when “Black Hole Sun” came on the radio. We parked, grabbed a soy latte, and sat in a square watching teenagers play hacky sack. Becky and I chatted as one of the hacky sackers paused his iPod and his hacking to take a call, and I thought to myself, this is the real deal man. This is Portland.
I would call Portland cozy. Becky’s house was cozy. The downtown looks pretty cozy nestled in a valley and beside a river. Every once and a while Becky would say something like “this is the swanky part of town” or “this is the ghetto” but all the neighborhoods just looked cozy. I suggested we play a game where we count the Subarus and Priuses and see which wins.
The most cozy thing of all was visiting with some of my favorite people in the world. There was Becky, of course, who put the whole weekend together. I’ve known Becky since 1996 when she lived in the Broom Street dorms of NYU. She and I have a long mutual history of stomach aches, grabbing each other inappropriately, and laughing till we’re in pain. Coming a day later due to airline malfeasance was Margaret–without whom I would not have Becky and several other of my best friends as she pointed out–and who may or may not be the mother of one of my children. And rounding out the NY crew was Will, who is a very understanding and patient husband when his wife gets together with her college friends.
Margaret almost killed me when she forced me to order the “lemon vinaigrette” on the last night but then she saved my life when she put her finger in the dressing and declared that it was Pesto (which I am deathly allergic to). Honestly, I never thought Margaret’s penchant for sticking her finger in my sauces would ever amount to any good. I stand corrected.
Rounding out the cast of characters was my Peace Corps brother and sisters. Sister Rosie, master teacher and incredible syllabicater. Gary, part lawyer, part woodworker, part truck driver and part Peace Corps volunteer Advisory Committee member and Brandi, who came all the way from LA via Boise to spend the weekend. Brandi and I have a fondness for hanging out of busses as they barrel down highways and she is also a founding member of the synchronized dancing camp from Thailand, but that is an entirely different story.
Becky said she likes to read my blog but that it is too wordy and it would be better served if I used more bullets, and I am nothing if not accommodating. So here is Portland in bullets:
- What’s a vacation without a little history making? We got to see an attempt at the world record for a drag queen chorus line at Pioneer Square right in the heart of downtown. Happy to report that these chorus line pioneers achieved their goal!
- We went wine tasting. The people who work at these shops were a little snooty, but come on people! Chill out! It wasn’t even noon!
- I’m 400 pages into Harry Potter. This has nothing to do with Portland but I just feel like mentioning it. I can’t believe Snape kills Hermione!
- I very much enjoyed taking off on runway 10R. Fabulous view of the city on my left and after we swung around, insane view of Mt. Saint Helens.
- Just kidding about the Snape Hermione thing… I think.
So that’s my take on Portland. To paraphrase another great Northwesterner… “I like it, I’m … coming back. Yeah yeah yeaaah.”
Baltimore July 15, 2007
Good Advice from a Baltimore street:
I spent Saturday night in Baltimore. My thoughts, in no particular order:
- Baltimore is a lot like Pittsburgh but with longer bridges.
- BWI airport is much closer to the B than the W.
- If I lived in Baltimore, I’d always refer to it a B-more.
- The bar at the top floor of the Belevedere Hotel has a fantastic view of the entire city and pretty good music.
Weird Airport Obsession Part 1 July 14, 2007
Everyone who knows me knows I have this borderline obsession with airlines and airports. It started around 4th grade and coincided with a period in my life when I went to bed staring at my Rand McNally road atlas. There must have been something about living in Poughkeepsie, NY that made me, oh I don’t know, want to stare at a Rand McNally road atlas. But the airport thing started soon after the map thing.
To this day, when I fall asleep, the one thing that calms me down is picturing planes landing and taking off. But weirder still, I need to picture them landing and taking off on very specific runways.
I know this sounds insane, but what can I tell you, it is what it is. We all have our ways of falling asleep, and this happens to be mine. To top it all off and to make it more bizarre, I am a very uneasy flier. It is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in something weird and soaked in alcohol (which is basically how I need to be when I fly), and I don’t understand it either. But I know that I’m not alone with this kind of thing. We have little weird contradictions don’t we… Anyone who knows about Luke’s 40+ watches and at the same time has experienced his liberal adherence to schedules and appointments knows what I’m talking about.
So anyway, about this specific runway thing, I was reading one of my favorite columns, Ask the Pilot by Patrick Smith on Salon, where he reviewed his favorite airports. I’ve seen this done a number of times, just like when magazines and newspapers list the top airlines or best places for a layover or greatest restaurants or whatever. But has anyone ever rated their favorite runways before??
Now I know what you’re thinking. That you were about to write your list of top five favorite runways. But I beat you.
What I am really writing about is my favorite cities when viewed from the sky. Seeing these cities out of the window is something we’ve all done and I’ve always been so excited by it. There have been certain times, certain flights, that have come at transitional times in my life where I’ve kept the memory of what I saw when I looked out the window for years afterwards. When I left New York to go to the Peace Corps, I went to Guatemala via Miami for a decompression and I’ll never forget the view of Manhattan when I took off. It was runway 13, and we circled around Whitestone, did a straight shot across the Bronx and turned left and followed the Hudson south. Basically, we made a giant circle around the city and I could see every little detail. I had this very profound moment where everything I saw quickly flashed into a memory of something that had happened there. And all because of runway 13!
I digress… listed below are Seth’s top 5 runways. But first, a quick review on runways. They all have names and the names are numbers. The number corresponded to the degree, like on a compass, so for example, at LaGuardia Airport in NY, runway 31 would align with 310°. Since runways can go both ways, if you were to take off or land on runway 31 in the opposite direction, it is called runway 13 and it faces 130° degrees.
Ok, now that that is settled, here are my 5 favorite runways, with #1 being the all time best.
#5 Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Runway 27R (pronounced: Faa LaaDaaDaa) This is one I usually land on when I’m flying down from the northeast. The planes hug the shore and if you’re on the right side, you can see that you’re flying parallel to the entire south Florida Atlantic coast. It is just twinkling lights for what looks to be about 20 miles inland and then nothing but blackness. South Florida has such an interesting population distribution because of the Everglades and at night (why does it seem I always land in Florida at night) it is very pronounced. When you land on this runway, you fly alongside the beach right up until you’re just offshore from the airport and then you make a sharp right turn to land. It is so easy and convenient, like showing up to the early bird special at 4:45 for dinner. If you’re on the left side, once the plane turns, you can see the high-rises stretching all the way down to South Beach and downtown Miami. If you look close enough, you can see the grandmas playing mahjong by the pool and kvetching about so-and-so’s rowdy grandchildren.
#4 San Francisco, (SFO), Runway 28 L or R. The first time I went to San Francisco was in 1997. I was in LA with family and then my cousin and I flew up. My first impression as we descended over the San Mateo Bridge was, “Wow. We are really going to die.” I thought this because right out my window, about what seemed to be 2 or 3 inches away, was another plane. Little did I know that SFO has two very close parallel runways and the two days a year when there is no fog, planes land right next to each other. Anyway, beyond the plane is a breathtaking view of the bay, the bay bridge, downtown and beyond.
#3 Bangkok (BKK) Runway 3R or 3L. Don Muang Airport. Is it a cloud? Is it a burning tire factory? Is it the apocalypse? Or is it the city of angels… grungtep maha nakohn… aka Bangkok. When you fly in from the south, when the smog isn’t horrible, and usually when it’s the dry season, Bangkok looks like Las Vegas on crack. Lights as far as you can see with no discernable pattern, a river snaking back and forth in the middle. And as you land, the sight of the golf course that exists between the two runways can be rather unsettling. But there is nothing that captures the excitement, they mystery and the cacophony that is Bangkok as that rare landing from the south. Sadly, with the new airport Suvarnabhumi (pronounced Su wana na na na na la la la lanami) opened, Don Muang has (or rather, will soon be) forced into retirement.
#2 Washington DC (DCA), Runway 19. No one forgets landing on this runway. The planes follow the Potomac from the northwest and if you’re on the left side, your first glimpses of the city would be the National Cathedral and the neighborhood where I live, Glover Park, aka the Glove. The plane will then turn right and there, spread before you, are all the iconic landmarks and buildings that are on money. I almost get the sense that the city was layed out for the purpose of making landing at National so incredible. I can see my office and the route I walk from the bus stop. You think you’re going to land on the tidal basin and you’re so close you can almost see Jefferson’s marble, white ass.
#1 New York (LGA) Runway 4. If it is a cloudy or polluted day, you might think you are descending into hell, but rest assured, it is only Staten Island. You cross the harbor just west of the Verrazano Narrows and then you follow the Brooklyn Queens Expressway till you land over the tops of homes in Jackson Heights. But for about 5 minutes as you fly over Brooklyn and Queens, the profile of the greatest city in the world.
Crock this way… July 8, 2007
Recipe for A Sweet Sunday Pork
1. wake up on a Sunday. Walk out onto porch and feel the humidity. Decide to spend the entire day inside watching the McLaughlin Group and crocking up a little dinner (and subsequently, writing about your crock pot).
2. take out crock pot. take out crock pot liners. Combine the two.
3. Add pork loin, BBQ sauce (2 different kinds. it helps if you have mostly empty bottles in the way back of your fridge), chopped vidalia onions, hot sauce, garlic, chopped orange, chili powder, worcestershire sauce, honey, brown sugar, salt/pepper and a little bit of love and put it all in the crock.
4 . crock it up (meaning, turn it on “Low”)
5. wait 8 hours. while waiting, resist the urge to open the crock. Remind others in your household that they are NOT allowed to open the crock under any circumstances. If you must open the crock, make sure that others in your household aren’t looking. But really try to resist. If you must have a look-see, just put your face really close to the lid and observe from there. Remember, a watched crock never boils…. (or if it does, it takes 8 to 10 hours).
6. During the 8 hours, other fun activities include calling your friends and families and talking about your crock pot.
7. Also, during the 8 hours, it is fun to write songs about your crock pot, substituting the work “crock” for other words that sound like crock. Today, I’m all about the Stones. If you crock it up… If you crock it up I’ll never stop…
8. Once 8 hours are complete, turn crock from “Low” to “Warm.” Wait twenty minutes.