Sunday, August 31, 2003

Don't worry Ron, I have heard your plea - I am prepared to tell more, but i'd thought I'd space things out a bit since I am struggling for material as is.

Anyway, some more details are in order. We (Lisa and I, that is) were staying in the upper west side, in my old roomate's apartment (he's a grad student at Columbia now). The first day was spectacularly hot and muggy; the air was so dense that we couldn't see more than a few blocks in any direction, so the city really was revealed to us quite piecemeal. We'd be taken around on the subways by our hosts periodically emerging at various well-known locations. It remided me a little of channel surfing:

Times Square
Rockefeller Center
Empire State Building

You get the idea.

Now, I'm not trying to demean these sites in the least. It's just amazing how close they all are too each other, especially when you're riding the subway. Everyone's also amazed by the size of the buildings in Manhattan, myself included, but the thing that really impressed me was the density of the buildings. Every single building is a high rise - even the "low lying" areas are saturated with 10+ story buildings.

Anyway, the weather was much more cooperative the final two days we were there - clear skies, 30 mile visibilty, pleasantly warm temperature. The visibilty came in handy for the harbor cruise we went on, as well as our trip to the top of the empire state building, from which you could see all the way to the atlantic coast. Plus, we avoided an 1 1/2 hour wait for tickets by buying them and printing them out online (don't let this secret get out, loyal readers). Is there any greater feeling than being able to skip past one of those gigantic lines?

We also visted Central Park, Wall Street and the Financial District, The American Museum of Natural History, Fifth Avenue, Battery Park, the Columbia and Mt. Sinai Campuses, and the giant Toys-R'-Us in Times Square, as well as some other stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting, but I think I've blabbed on enough for one post. I'll just say that it was a really great trip.

And, no, I didn't think the subways smelled like urine, although they certainly aren't going to win any pleasant-odor awards.

Friday, August 29, 2003

You're not going to believe this, but I have just returned from yet another trip, a true capstone on Lucas's Summer Tour of Funtastical Wonderment. This time the destination was none other than New York City. Yes, this was my first time visiting and no, the city did not eat me alive. I was able to survive thanks largely to the friends I was visiting, who were gracious enough to lead me around while playing the part of tour guide. They did their job quite well, because I now feel I know my way around the subways around Manhattan after just a few days. I'm not saying I'm an expert by any means, but it's amazing how far a little intelligence and common sense will get you while you're trying to orient yourself - it's just a big two-dimensional grid, people. I get the impression that some people come to NYC and quickly become overwhelmed due to the reputation, but as long as you understand that it's full of functional (usually), rational (occasionally) human beings, just like any other city, and not some alien planet you'll be fine. Plus, being a master of science always helps.

Monday, August 25, 2003

I promised some more dells experiences so here they are:

Jetskiing: I went jetskiing for the first time ever on Lake Delton, which is a small lake next to the dells. It was great fun, sort of like having the acceleration of a motorcycle but none of the safety features.

Timber Rapids Adventure Golf: This is essentially mini golf, but in a complex that has over 100 holes. Mercifully they don't make you play them all; 18 is still standard faire. The chief "adventure" in this case was navingating around temple-of-doom-sized collections of real live spiders & spiderwebs that had collected in the passages of a cement cave that you work through while playing the course.

Noah's Ark: Of course. Why "America's Largest Waterpark" is located in the dells we'll never know. This year they tried to branch off in a new direction with a so-called "dry ride", not for it's lack of alchohol but rather its lack of water. Unfortunately titled, "Noah's Incredible Adventure", it's the kind of ride you'd find at Disney or Six Flags. Or at least that's what they were aiming for. Promoted as a "a topsy-turvy wild ride of discovery", it's basically a group of seats that rocks slightly while the ceiling and walls revolve, causing a mild feeling of disorientation but no more than you can get by sitting in a rocking chair. That's it. It may be borderline topsy-turvy, but calling it wild is a stretch, and I'm pretty sure I didn't discover anything. What it has to do with the Biblical Noah's Ark I have no idea. Noah, please stick to rides that involve the wonderful yet simple combination of fear and water from now on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I was going to just post the following as a response to Ron's recent essay (and the subsequent comments) on the merits of Wisconsin, but I decided to move it here just to make sure everyone could see it:

For those who don't know, the "Wisconsin Ducks" are, they're WWII landing craft that were converted to passenger vehicles for the purpose of lugging tourists around on both land & sea. They actually spend a lot of their time driving around because they're slow as all heck on the water, so if you're really looking to "see the sights" at the Dells, I recommend the Upper Dells Boat Tours, which show you a lot more, including a dog that jumps between two rocks (the picture in the link shows a man, who the dog was standing in for).

Secondly, a word or two about Door County. I haven't been there in quite a few years, but from what I remember it's just as picturesque as it's made out to be, especially in the fall. They say it's like a mini Cape Cod. I also remember one particular boutique-type shop up there that had real live goats grazing on its sodded roof, in the old european style. Or maybe I just don't remember very well.

Finally, in regard to Adam's comment, you know the internet has become truly universal when concepts as abstract as "Up North" have their own website....

More wisconsin dells experiences will come shortly....

Saturday, August 16, 2003

It looks like football season's just around the corner, which means, first and formost, another season of truly horrible quotes from a bunch of old men who have taken too many blows to the head (and weren't that smart to begin with). For example, this jem from Phil Simms during last night's nationally televised Packers exhibition game, explaining the importance of backup players:

"The Backups: That's what going to determine the backup for their starters"

It's almost Madden-esque, isn't it?

Also, I feel like just about every time I've posted this summer I've apologized for not posting very often. Today, I'd again like to apologize for not posting very often. The culprit behind this is yet another stop on "Lucas's Summer Tour of Funtastical Wonderment", a trip to Wisconsin Dells with my family. For those of you who don't know what "The Dells" are, think Branson, MO, only with less senior citizens and more actual fun things to do, like waterparks, go-carts, and mini golf. It's even been visited by celebrities such as WashU's own Full Professor Ron Cytron. Just ask him about it - it's almost as much fun as an NP-Completeness Proof!

Monday, August 04, 2003

I'ts been a while but it looks like things are finally settling down - Without this weblog I was forced to express my opinions in other ways, like talking to friends and family, and we all know how much fun talking is ...

Anyway, not a whole lot is new here - Lisa is back from florida and has pictures of us laughing at the one and only sun sphere. If I can get my hands on a scanner I'll be sure get them online ASAP. I also recently went to the state fair again, where we were attacked by a plague of gnats, the same one that hit wrigley field the other day. You'd brush about 15 of them off your shoulders and within a few seconds just as many would take their place. They were in the food, in our hair, and, of course, in the cow droppings that were almost as prevalent as the bugs themselves. Now, why do I keep going to this place every year?