Bryant Park Blogging
This has been a rotten day for blogging. There was plenty going on in the Rules Committee meeting worthy of reporting, but the SprintPCS wireless web network was down. When I called the help desk, they said their whole corporate network was down -- call back in a couple of hours.
(By the way, for those who are curious, I have a Kyocera 6035 SmartPhone, which runs PalmOS, and I use mo:Blog, which so far is the only Palm app for blogging I've found that doesn't crash or lock up my phone.)
All right, so I'll blog back at the hotel. The dial-up connection is pretty good -- 40 kbps and no dropped connections. Then I notice the rate card by the phone by the bed (which I hadn't used yet -- there's no rate card by the phone on the desk). The hotel wants $1 a local call, up to 10 minutes, plus 10 cents a minute thereafter. Oops.
Hotel's got high speed internet, too, but it's $10 a day. I thought about buying a month of Wayport access ($50) which would bring the cost down to about $5 a day, but the Wayport website refused my credit card. (I double-checked with the credit card company, which said Wayport hadn't even tried to bill my card, so the problem is with Wayport.)
I don't know why expensive hotels with hard beds and tiny rooms and limited cable service add insult to injury by charging for local calls and high speed net access. The nicest places I've stayed are the midrange suite hotels that are cheaper than full service, but have a fridge, a microwave, the full local cable lineup (yay C-SPAN2!), free high speed wireless, and beds that are actually comfortable.
But I have found a nicer place from which to blog. Bryant Park is just a few blocks from the hotel, just behind (west) of the New York Public Library, and it offers free WiFi access. The park is bustling with life. Some parks are dysfunctional -- the space isn't inviting, isn't comfortable, so people don't stop and use it. It's really easy to build a park that doesn't work. (Nota bene, you pocket-park planners in Tulsa!)
Bryant Park was once a dysfunctional park, a scary place to be avoided, but no longer. I'm sitting on the terrace, on a chair with the laptop on the table. If I felt like it, I could move the table and chair somewhere else. There are chairs and tables all over the grassy area and on the plaza around the fountain. Some of the chairs are like school desks with an attached writing surface and a drink holder. People are reading books and newspapers, doing homework, writing letters, meeting friends or just watching the passing parade. There's a little carousel on the south edge of the park. A double-row of trees -- birches, I think -- buffer the park from the surrounding city blocks but don't make you feel cut off or hidden. Very nice.
I don't know about my fellow Oklahoma delegates, but I don't feel at all like a fish out of water in the big city. I lived in Boston for five years and walked or rode the subway everywhere. It's great to be back in a truly urban place for a few days.
The last couple of mornings I walked from the hotel into Grand Central Station to catch the subway for part of the trip to the convention committee meetings. To see the streams of people rushing in every direction, crossing without colliding, and then to jump into one of those streams isn't at all scary to me. It's exhilarating. Between the rush of the people and the sight of Grand Central's beautifully restored interior, I have had a silly grin on my face, which I'm sure would betray me as a bumpkin from the sticks, if anyone actually made eye contact, that is, which they don't.
Bryant Park is as relaxed as Grand Central is frenetic, but that silly grin still made an appearance at the sight of this beautiful park and all the people who are enjoying it.