Thursday, November 27, 2008

Another Thanksgiving in New York

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last year on this day I fulfilled a lifelong dream by attending the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. But unlike last year, which was a freakishly warm 70 degrees, today was about 40 degrees colder. So instead I watched the parade from the comfort of my own couch.

That's OK, because Paul and I got our fill of the parade last night. The gigantic balloons are inflated the night before Thanksgiving and netted down on a couple of side streets just west of Central Park. Not knowing what to expect, we went to see for ourselves.

The experience actually was more of a hassle than attending the parade itself. The crowds were as thick as cranberry sauce, and the line to reach even the first balloon stretched several blocks. But once you reached them it was fun seeing the balloons at eye-level, if you can say that about something that's three stories tall.

All in all, we spent about two hours in line and seeing the balloons-- nearly as long as we were at the parade itself last year. My advice? Watch the real thing and go to the parade.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Day Job

Besides me, I think only one or two people have a clear understanding of what I do for a living. Neither of those people are related to me.

It's time to correct this. Since today marks my one-year anniversary of being a fully-employed New Yorker, I thought this would be as good a time as any to explain my job.

I work for a company based in lower Manhattan that provides language services (mostly translation, transcription, interpreting and voice overs) to individuals, organizations and companies large and small. You name a business, and we've probably worked with them-- Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, museums, hospitals, banks, etc.

When I first started I wrote pages for one of the company's web sites and did a little proofreading of translated documents (not proofing the foreign language, but making sure everything in the document was translated, checking the format and items like that).

Today I am a content manager for one of the sites, in charge of writing and posting new pages as well as maintaining a blog. About half of my time is spent on writing, creating and perfecting landing pages for our marketing campaigns. We have a web team that designs the templates for the pages, but I write most of the copy and supervise the publishing of the hundreds of landing pages.

My daily vocabulary now consists of a whole new set of acronyms: PPC, CMS, SEO. That's pay-per-click, content management system and search engine optimization for the uninitiated.

So now you understand why I simply tell people I'm in internet marketing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

In the Heights, Front and Center

About a month ago I read that a few lucky people get cheap front row tickets to select Broadway shows by entering a lottery at the box office a couple of hours before the show starts. I did a little research and found that this was true for just a handful of shows, including one that I really wanted to see: In the Heights.

That's why Paul, me and about 80 other people crowded outside the Heights box office Saturday night. Put your name in the bucket and if your slip is drawn, you are the proud owner of two front row tickets for $26.50 apiece. Regular price: $120.

Only 22 tickets were available, so are chance were fair but not great. But whose was the fourth name drawn? Paul!

Our seats were nearly dead center, above and behind the conductor and orchestra pit. During the standing ovation, we easily could have reached out and shook hands with the stars of the show. We were close enough to see each bead of sweat, and even to get spit on a few times (maybe a few rows back would've been better after all!).

It was an amazing experience-- I got both my best and cheapest Broadway tickets on the same night!

I was first introduced to In the Heights when I watched this year's Tony's, where the show won Best Musical. You can see a clip of the cast's performance here:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Day: Christmas Arrives Early

Tuesday felt a bit like Christmas morning. All excitement, anticipation. And when the election was finally called for Obama, I felt like I got everything I asked for.

It's odd to actually be endorsing a candidate. As a journalist it is strictly forbidden to publicly support any candidate, whether for county commission or President of the United States. No taking telephone polls, no signs in the yard, and no signing petitions.

But this election cycle I could tell anyone who would listen that I would be voting for Obama. Not that too many people asked. If you live in New York, especially New York City, it's pretty much assumed that you're a Democrat.

Our neighborhood is conservative, however, so Paul fits right in. While Paul didn't vote for Obama, he also didn't vote for McCain. He cast one of the approximately 17 votes for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr. OK, maybe that estimate is a little low. But Paul long supported Ron Paul, and even McCain circa 2000.

Our polling place is only a block from our apartment, in a gymnasium at the local Lutheran preschool. We anticipated a long line, so we decided to vote together, hoping to pass the time with conversation, in iPod and a couple of books. No need. We had absolutely no line, which was a pleasant surprise.

Of course, we were glued to the TV the rest of the night and only went to bed after watching Obama's victory speech. It all seemed very reminiscent of "Evita," didn't it? I kept expecting the crowds in Chicago to chant "O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma," while he breaks out into "Don't cry for me, US voters." He might have been able to pull it off.

Monday, November 3, 2008

NYC Marathon: Spectators This Time

Paul wasn't able to register for the New York City Marathon, but that didn't stop him (or me) from participating in some small way.

The first few miles of the race were through Bay Ridge, and the route came within a block of our apartment. We got up bright and early to cheer on the racers-- both the elite runners who came first, and the rank-and-file that followed.

The sidewalk were pretty crowded with spectators, and (similar to the Columbus Marathon) bands played every few blocks.

The race started in waves-- a group of runners started about every 20 minutes for an hour. The starting line was on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, so Paul and I also walked to the shore to watch some of the racers cross the bridge. We could just barely see hundreds and hundreds of heads bob up and down on both the lower and upper levels of the bridge.

I'm not even sure you can see them in the photo below, which shows just how small they actually looked.

After the race had passed through Bay Ridge, Fourth Avenue was littered with water and Gatorade cups, along with a few gloves and other warm-weather gear the runners had shed.

We were also spectators this weekend at another annual event: the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Afterward we went to Chelsea Market, where the following was displayed. How appropriate!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Three Days 'til E-Day

Tuesday, of course, is Election Day, and I can't wait. Yes, it's a foregone conclusion that New York will go to Obama, but it's fun to see my home state in the spotlight from 600 miles away.

Early on it was apparent that Ohio would once again be a swing state, but who could have anticipated that Joe the Plumber would (unfortunately) become a spokesman for all of us Buckeyes? And while a visit by a presidential candidate to New York City is barely noted, I had fun reading the coverage of McCain's visit to Defiance earlier this week.

Paul still seems to be on the voter rolls in Ohio, and the only robocalls we've gotten have been from the Ohio Republican Party. In fact, he's gotten about a half-dozen absentee-ballot-request forms in the mail. From Ohio. We've gotten no party mailings or phone calls in New York, aside from a few polls about candidates for Congress.

I've heard that the lines will be long in Ohio, and I'm curious to see what it will be like here-- no early voting in New York.


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