Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Rangers v Devils

Everyone cheer...ice hockey season is (almost) back.

On Saturday afternoon there was a pre-season game between the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils (so something of a derby match). The Rangers have made three fairly big signings over the summer all of which could be considered somewhat risky: two "stars" who have underperformed for the last couple of years; and a younger player who hasn't lived up to the hype.

Based on Saturday's game this wasn't a good move as the Rangers lost 4 - 2 which isn't too bad until you consider that they were 2 - 0 down in the first 5 minutes and 4 - 0 down halfway through the game.

Monday, 29 September 2008

More train issues

Although this wasn't my fault this time! Having run around all Friday morning to get finished early we made it to the Harrisburg train station about half an hour before the 1pm train to NY was due to depart.

Unfortunately this train was already delayed by 45 minutes...45 minutes later this train was still delayed by 45 minutes...so having actually made it to the station on time without forgetting anything Amtrak screwed me over.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Manual Labour

Despite turning up in my suit this morning I have spent the morning lugging boxes back and forth - it would have been much more useful to be in jeans and a t-shirt. Although, this movement has helped with last nights hangover though.

Last day in Harrisburg and we are trying to get out on the 1pm train so I'm off back to my boxes...

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Working (slowly) with beer

After Monday (when I was in the office until 1am) this week hasn't been too bad. In fact the last two nights I have had a few things to read on other jobs and (as these are not pressing) I went to the sports bar next to the hotel to work/drink/eat/watch the baseball for a couple of hours.

I'm really getting into my Troegs beer and they had one I hadn't tried in the bar last night - the name itself (Troegenator) should have given me a clue but this stuff was 8.2% rocket fuel. Not what I needed when I was half trying to work...Actually, last night the Mets game was on TV so I ended up watching far longer than working although I left at 11pm when the game went into extra innings.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Medical Advertising

Another type of TV advertising that makes me laugh in Yankland is the stuff for medicine (can you tell I watched a lot of TV this weekend). I suspect that the laws here require that advertisers state every possible side effects and not just in flashed up small print like in the UK. No, here the voice over will list out each and every possible side effect from the medicine being advertised - this can take as long as all the rest of the ad.

Having listened to a few of these the treatment seems potentially a lot worse than the problem in some cases.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The Fishing Pen

I watched a lot of TV this weekend with the Ryder Cup on TV. The "infomercial" adverts on Yank TV are pretty damn funny but my favourite ever has got to be for the fishing pen. I just don't get it - if you are going fishing then you go fishing with all your gear. What are the makers thinking, you can carry this in your pocket just in case you have the need to go fishing at a moments notice...

Shockingly, it appears that you can also buy this piece of crap in the UK here.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Dumb

In an almost exact carbon copy of last Sunday's shambles I once again was all but at my train when I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to pick up my suit again...by the time I had gone back to my flat to pick it up and returned to Penn Station I had missed the train...again.

I am a shockingly bad 2 for 5 on actually managing to catch the trains to/from Harrisburg. In fact when I leave Harrisburg for the last time this week I need the make the train on time just to have a 50% record. Pretty damn shocking stuff.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Keep moving - nothing to see here

I've got nothing today, and as I'm trying to finish up so I can get the early train back to NYC (or maybe I'll go 3 for 3 and miss it too) I'll be back Monday.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

CHEAP BEER

I noticed a bar/club in Harrisburg that had a ridiculous drinks offer for Wednesday nights:

Even if it is Coors Light you really can't go wrong with beers for 25c. The added bonus was that when we rolled up to the doors the guy was going to waive the cover charge as I am working with a couple of girls at the moment.

Unfortunately this is when disaster struck. As I am in the middle of nowhere the door guys were thoroughly confused by my UK Driving Licence and refused to let us in as I didn't have any other ID...so close and yet so far. I'm currently debating whether to bring my passport with me next week just to experience the ridiculousness that is 25c beers.

To be fair, beers here are pretty cheap everywhere as it was only $7.50 for a couple of bottles in the next bar we went to.

Sports in Harrisburg

I decided to look into what there was to see sports wise in Harrisburg and came across a very helpful website that listed loads of options.

These included: rugby; football; american football; baseball; ice hockey; and roller derby...all of which have either just finished their season or are yet to begin. So no sport for me in Harrisburg.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Another missed train

The missed train on Friday wasn't my fault - it was the stupid taxi driver. Sunday evening's train however was all me - I was on my way to the station having been in the office all afternoon and realised I had forgotten to pick up my suit which was hanging in my office. As I was cutting it fine to make the train anyway by the time I had gone back to the office the train had gone. Luckily there was one last train to Harrisburg that night although it didn't get in until 10.30pm.

Fair play to Amtrak though, they allowed me to exchange my tickets on both trains rather than make me buy new ones which is what I had expected.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Saturday Night Live

This TV show has been running in Yankland since 1975 with such famous faces as Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell although I can't say I've actually heard of any of the current cast. This is a sketch show which has a different celebrity hosting each week and a musical guest each week too.

This was the season premier of the show and was hosted by Michael Phelps and the musical guest was Lil Wayne (a cut price Lenny Kravitz from what I could tell). The opening sketch of the show was very promising being a joint press conference between Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton (and if my html skills have improved it should be imbedded below...):



Unfortunately the rest of the show went downhill very fast...I had thought that as it was live it would mostly be about topical stories - no, they were just a bunch of unfunny sketches.

Still, tick it off the list.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Taxis in Yankland

Taxi companies in this country are completely incablae of turning up on time - I've decided order a taxi for a specific time and if it appears within half an hour you're doing well.

Yesterday I needed a taxi for a 10 minute drive to the train station so allowing for the taxi turning up late I ordered one for half an hour before the train was due. After waiting 10 minutes later than I'd asked for I phoned the taxi company - the conversation began this:

Me - Hello, I ordered a taxi for 4pm
Taxi guy - Yes, what time is it now?
Me - Its now 10 past
Taxi guy - really? OK, I'm on my way.

He turned up at 4.35pm - after my train had already left. All my experiences with taxi companies in Yankland are the same - if you have no intention of turning up on time DON'T TAKE THE BOOKING.

Anyway, this put me in mind of this Seinfeld sketch.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Ghostbusters

It was a really nice day last Sunday so I was out wandering round town last Sunday afternoon - about 20 mins walk from my place is the fire station which was used for the Ghostbusters offices:

Can't beat that for quality sightseeing.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A couple of things about Harrisburg...

...and I'm dredging here to be honest: firstly, its quite close to Gettysburg which is accepted to have been the significant battle in the US Civil War. Actually, according to a plaque I read in downtown tonight the immediate objective of the South was to invade Harrisburg when the battle occurred to the south of the town.

Otherwise, well I wandered round with my camera this evening and have to say the capital building is quite impressive:

I'm gonna run out of stuff to talk about in this town very quickly.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Harrisburg

Short notice I know but I'm now working in a town called Harrisburg for the next couple of weeks. A change of pace from NY as it has a population of only around 50,000 (even smaller than Rapid City). I had to look it up on a map so I'll tell you roughly where it is - it is actually the state capital of Pennsylvania (I would have guessed Philadelphia) and is about 3 1/2 hours South-West of NY.

Not much else to report about the place so far as I haven't even had a chance to look around yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, 8 September 2008

American Beer

Yank beer has a pretty bad reputation worldwide. Given that its image is predominantly based on such criminally bad beers as Budweiser and Miller this is not surprising. However, there are actually a lot of damn good beers to be had here - below is a list of the best I have come across so far:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - probably my beer of choice here although it is probably only found in about 30% of bars. This brewery, like most others, produces seasonal beers and they have all been pretty good as well.

Sam Adams - second choice but probably more commonly available in the bars in NY. They also produce seasonal beers and these are VERY hot and miss - basically Winter and Spring were good but the rest have been awful.

Dog Fishead - I think I mentioned this one a while ago and I have never seen it in a bar in NY. Luckily my local shop sells bottles.

Magic Hat - occasionally found in bars and not bad although the taste isn't as good as the others. There are plenty of different varieties too.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Crazy Horse Memorial

I'll finish up this week with the other (less well known I think) memorial in South Dakota - Crazy Horse. The background to this is quite short, the American Indian population were a bit annoyed at the building of Mount Rushmore as the whole Black Hills area was a significant place in their culture (long story I'm not going to get into but you can read about it here). As a result of this, in 1939 they commissioned a sculptor to create their own mountain memorial.

Well, if Mount Rushmore was one mans obsession then the Crazy Horse Memorial is a family's obsession - the original sculptor (Korczak Ziolkowski - who actually worked on Mount Rushmore) died in 1982 but work has continued under his wife (now in here 80s) and several of his kids. So 60 years on how far have they got:

That's it in the distance with the model in the foreground the final plan - the face is done. A long way to go if they are to do the whole thing. That's not all, there are also plans to have a full university and the Indian Museum of North America. Good luck with that but at current pace I can;t see it being done for another hundred years at least (or another couple of generations of the family).

By the way, the whole of Mount Rushmore would fit onto the head of the Crazy Horse Memorial - this thing is BIG!

Last thing, I'm listening to a lot of Stereophonics at the moment as I'm off to see them next week so here is a link to a site with an mp3 of "Dakota" for download.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

US Open (late finish)

I'll get back to South Dakota tomorrow as last night I was at the evening session of the US Open - I say evening session, it was really a night session. When I got there at about 7.30pm the last of the day games was still going (actually it was Andy Murray). By the time this game finished, the day crowd left and the evening crowd got in it was getting close to 9pm by time the first evening match started.

First up was Venus Williams v Serena Williams in a final match - the short story is the Serena won in straight sets but that doesn't really cover it.

The two sets both went to tie breaks and Venus had 10 set points between the two sets but couldn't convert any of them. On the other hand Serena had two chances and took them both - game over.

That match took over 2 hours so it was past 11.30pm when Rafael Nadal and Mardy Fish started their quarter final. By this time a fair amount of the crowd had already left and there was a steady stream of people leaving at every change of ends.

Fish served amazingly well in the first set (I think he averaged 2 aces per service game) and took the only break point chance he had to take a surprise lead - apparently he had never broken Nadal before never mind won a set. However, the second set was a different story with his serve falling to bits and no chances on the Nadal serve it was one set all at 12.45am.

At this point I decided that Nadal was well on top and that it was already going to be after 2pm when I got home so I headed off. I actually got home just as Nadal won the fourth set and the match at 2.10am (the third latest finish ever at the US Open).

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Mount Rushmore

I was out touring the area around Rapid City all of Sunday which includes a couple of very famous memorials - first up was Mount Rushmore.

One question had was why was this built in the middle of nowhere (i.e. South Dakota)? Well, it was simply a plan to increase tourism in the area - I guess it worked too.

The story of its creation is also the obsession of the sculptor Gutzon Borglum who worked on the project from 1927 to his death in 1941. The original plan had been to sculpt the four figures from head to waist but with no funding left and the death of Borglum this never occurred. Still a rather impressive place though. Oh, I supposes I should tell you who is up there - it is former Yank presidents (left to right): George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Rapid City

It was a holiday in Yankland yesterday, hence why there was no post. I actually used the long weekend for a fairly long trip to South Dakota (no direct flights so it is pretty remote). South Dakota is just over 77,000 square miles and has a population of around 800,000 - for reference Scotland is just over 30,000 square miles and has a population of about 5.1 million so this place is empty.

I was based in a place called Rapid City which is in the south west of the state. The name Rapid City is somewhat of a misnomer as life here is not particularly rapid and with a population of only about 66,000 it isn't much of a city either - Slow Town would be a better name.

The hotel I was staying in was on the north east corner of town and I wondered how long it would take to walk into the centre - the two hotel receptionists didn't seem to understand the concept never mind have any idea how long it would take. This is one of the many Yank towns where everyone drives everywhere and a lot of the streets don't even have pavements. This is a typical street (everything has a massive parking lot outside and seems to have a drive through option):

For the record, it took about 35 minutes to walk into the centre of town - not that there is much here at all. This is the main street...

Still I found a bar and had a couple of beers before heading back to the hotel. Why the hell was I in South Dakota? Well, I'll cover that in the next couple of days.