Home> Uncategorized

Uncategorized Archive

NYC – Day 2 – 1st July 2011

July 8, 2011 Category :Uncategorized Off

We’ve decided that the best way to see the city, given my mobility issues with knees, is to rent bikes.  Overnight, we’ve been in email contact with the Central Park Bike Rental shop at 348 West 57th Street and we arrive at a price for a 6 day rental and set off in the subway to Columbus Circle and then a short walk to the shop.

We’re soon set up with a couple of nice comfort bikes with front suspension and seat suspension with a basket on Lynette’s bike, helmets and a couple of locks.  Then, it’s off on the first of many great cycling adventures through the streets and cycleways of New York.

Our first sortie tales us West to the Hudson River and a great cycleway which hugs the river bank all the South to Battery Park.

As we ride, we pass a huge variety of riders with everything from the lycra brigade to families and other riders like ourselves.  The occasional shirtless inline skaters whizzes by and to our right the Hudson River is edges by piers, cruise ships, heli-pads and a range of pleasure craft; with pleasant parks and sitting areas to take a rest and a cool drink.



By this stage we’re getting used to the ‘keep to the right’ rule after some driving and cycling, but it can still be confusing.

















Battery Park is one of the many areas which have been re-developed relatively recently and now provides a sweep of cool spaces and parkland, as well as access to various ferry terminals.

As with any popular outdoor space, there are crowds gathered around the buskers who manage some high energy dance and gymnastic routines with some slick chorus patter to encourage the punters to give generously.

As we continue around to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, another group of street performers have attracted a large crowd in the heat as they made some great moves in the glare of the afternoon.


After a look around some of the waterfront pier developments at the Southern end of Manhattan, we have lunch in a small health food place in the financial district and then wind our way through the streets of lower Manhattan in what was the original part of New Amsterdam.  As this area grew in the early days, the streets have names and are aligned in a much more haphazard way then the grid pattern which begins as we get further uptown.

We manage to negotiate our way through Soho to the southern end of the East Village and then take advantage of the on-street cycleway which runs up 1st avenue until the mid-thirties.












Finally back to the hotel amongst a tangle of taxis and hire cars

NYC – Day 1 – 30 June 2011

July 8, 2011 Category :Uncategorized Off

It is mindboggling to try to contemplate how to blog about New York City. We emerge from Penn Station and find ourselves in the taxi queue where lines of yellow taxis wait to carry others just like us off to their destinations.  Ours is a short ride and we are deposited at the front of the Sofitel New York: infamous of late due to the recent scandal surrounding Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Our suite is on the 25th floor and has views of  some great buildings apart from the Empire State and the Chrysler.  We can see some of the art deco buildings which reflect what comes to be a signature sentiment in New York city: a ‘can do’ attitude and a liveliness which is clearly related to the sheer volume of people.

I’m catching this blog up mid-flight as we leave New York well to the East and the muddy bends of the Mississippi perform their serpentine meanderings below.

Our first afternoon in New York finds us getting aquainted with the Subway.  We opt for the 7 day Metro card pass which is $29.90 and entitles us to all the travel we want.  It’s then onto the subway and downtown to 14th Street before changing to the L train to Chelsea.

The Chelsea Markets are a treasure trove of wonderful cheeses, chocolates, fruit, veg and just about anything else.  They also have free wi-fi and a great attitude toward setting out the expectations. This End User Agreement states the expectations clearly but without some of the more serious overtones we tend to be used to.  This is to be a repeated theme in lots of contexts: that with give and take and acceptance of some common rules and protocols for doing things, we can all get along just fine.  After stocking up on a few goodies, and finding a market which sells beer, we head back to the Sofitel for a rest before tackling the night.














The evening finds us in one of the many Irish pubs just off Times Square.  It seems that the ‘Irish’ brand is transferable the world over and we’re able to have a relaxing drink and something to eat before climbing a couple of flights upstairs to where a form of ‘Live’ Karaoke is taking place.  Singers are able to get up and sing with the live band who are not a bad band; shame about the lack of care on the part of the sound guy.

We stroll along for a look at Times Square and then call it a night.

New York

July 4, 2011 Category :Uncategorized Off

The first recognition that this really is the city which has represented the expression  of dreams and visions for so many can be a bit overwhelming.  There is much to come in this space, but here are some images from our hotel on check in.


The Empire State building from our bedroom window, around 10 blocks South, or ‘downtown’ from where we are staying at the Sofitel New York on West 44th Street.

And, looking to the East out the other corner window is the beautiful Chrysler Building which looks amazing at night.

Taking the train

July 4, 2011 Category :Uncategorized Off

To get from Philadelphia to New York, a distance of just under 100 miles, or around 150 km, we took the option of booking aboard the Acela Express which does the trip in an hour and 12 minutes.  This is roughly the same distance as the trip from Newcastle to Sydney. The fare was $90 per person one way to travel in business class. This could be considered expensive but, we thought through the other options.  To fly would cost slightly more and then there’s the need to add cab fare to and from the airport at each end, allowance of time for check in and full body security screening as well as the possibility of air traffic delays in landing in New York.

Even we had our own car, there’s the potential for heavy traffic approaching New York and the ‘real costs’ which are calculated in the KM allowance paid by employers, or as a tax claim which would see a 150 km trip being a cost of at lest $75 plus applicable tolls and a longer driving time.

For our fare we had seats in Express Business class, with nice broad seats, a table, free wifi internet access and a power outlet, as well as onboard access to the buffet car.  The track seemed to be banked in places to deal with the speed and he trip seemed effortless and fast.

We couldn’t help reflecting on the possibilities which must exist if there was a similar service available between Sydney and Newcastle and Sydney and Canberra.

There would clearly be significant infrastructure restrictions in the case of the Newcastle line, as the current curve radii etc would probably make the speeds impossible.  The topography of the Hawkesbury sandstone country and the intrusion into existing National Parks also present other issues to overcome but, even a less ambitious plan to simply look at providing some differential seating to attract business travellers on trains which were times to optimise the travel time would be a start.


And yes, I know there would be an outcry from some; about our ‘culture of egalitarianism’ about any attempt to re-create a ‘class’ system on the rail, but, if we get high end users to see the train as a chic way to combine a business trip with the capacity to maintain productivity on board then this would also model a move away from the culture we have developed where the train is rarely even considered as an option by many.

The sight of a distant Manhattan skyline beckoning across the flats and industrial landscapes of Newark as we sped toward the ‘Big Apple’ was a tease before we entered the final tunnel under the Hudson to emerge into the bustle of Penn Station in New York City.

Post conference chillout

June 30, 2011 Category :Uncategorized Off

A hot afternoon ride through the cycle paths and streets of Philadelphia, then a morning cycle and return, prior to heading to 30th street station and a trip to New York aboard the Acela Express.

ISTE – Philadelphia

June 30, 2011 Category :Uncategorized Off

There will be more to come here about ISTE  (International Society for Technology in Education) at the Pennsylvania Convention Centre in Philadelphia.  This event is HUGE, with around 15000 attendees and a convention centre which covers almost 3 city blocks on three levels, with the trade expo alone taking up one level covering 2 blocks, in a single hall.

It was great to be able to highlight some of the thinking and approaches which have led to many of our schools and teachers doing some great work.


Nearly there! : One the way to ISTE

June 28, 2011 Category :Uncategorized Off

We’ve pulled over into a trusty Maccas and, with the assistance of free wifi and the Docscanner app on the iPhone, alone with Evernote, here’s living proof of our fun on the turnpike.

Kickball and the Capitol

June 26, 2011 Category :Uncategorized Off

Ordinary people having fun beside extraordinary buildings and a sense of being close to one of the great power centres of the world. It is juxtapositions like this which make a cycling outing around Washington DC an amazing experience.

We set off from our apartment in Arlington which is not far from the huge Fort Myer, and the massive Arlington War Cemetery.  As we ride in the mounting heat and humidity of a June weekend, a platoon of perspiring Marines jogs, shouting cadence, past the graves of thousands of their fellow countrymen who no doubt began their commitment to the USA in a similar way.  Their column passes us by and shuffles off past the Iwo Jima monument with its superbly familiar scene of Marines planting the Stars and Stripes in the Pacific theatre.

Our ride takes us across the Arlington Memorial Bridge with the Potomac below and jets, clawing skyward as they push for altitude; shooting upward from the Ronald Regan International Airport.

It’s then a short ride to the crowds around the Lincoln Memorial and a view from where Abe sits staring up the green sward to the distant Capitol.  So many sights jump into the reality of the moment from memories of movie scenes and TV shows.

It seems surreal to be experiencing all of these sights first hand, and a look at the hot, flushed family groups trying to see it all on foot makes us very pleased that we have the mobility which cycles give us.

Just near the Simthsonian Institute, we stopped to enjoy some great jamming as a number of trombones combined with a sousaphone, drums and percussion to set up a street jam sound which made everybody move to the music.

A young boy stood in the background, pushing out notes on his trombone and waiting for his chance to join the front row.





Take me home, country roads

June 26, 2011 Category :Uncategorized 4

During the keynote presentation at Copper Mountain in the Rockies last Tuesday, I sang an couple of verses and a chorus of Rocky Mountain High, to illustrate the fact that; as a teenager learning the song, there was no way that anyone could have predicted that I would, in the future, have the opportunity to actually be in the Rockies and to be talking about the way that we ‘plan schools’ as places which seek to scaffold and support young people as they grow.

Another John Denver song learnt while still in my teens was Country Roads.  It seemed an opportunity not to be missed: to have the chance to sing the song and combine it with images shot yesterday on the Flip video.  Here is the result on YouTube


Winchester: “Far enough South to be legal”

June 25, 2011 Category :Uncategorized Off

“Yep, we were far enough South to be legal,” came the response when musing with a local in the mall at the outdoor movies on a sultry summer night in Winchester, Virginia, which changed hands well over sixty times during the civil war.

Restaurants with outdoor seating and galleries along the mall provide a setting for a mobile screen and locals in folding chairs as we settle in to an Italian style restaurant to marvel at the size of the portions and figure that we’d better share a dish in future!

We are pleasantly surprised to hear a young guy busking with an acoustic version of  ’Lisztomania‘ by Phoenix, while families stroll by enjoying the balmy summer twilight.

The movies are shown on a screen which stands in front of the old 1840s CourtHouse which was converted for use as a Prisoner of War jail during the war.  Across the street, local artist Eugene Smith talks with us about his beautiful paintings of the area and landscapes of the Shenandoah, ‘you rolling river..’

We head back to our hotel to get ready for a day of finding just where the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah can be seen together before we look for the chance to cycle around Washington DC.