Tag Archives: Amtrak

Sunset A La Amtrak

NYC Sunset a la Amtrak


The view from my train home last night. You don’t get to see this sort of thing from your window when you fly from JFK to Logan.

Rather, if you did see this from the window of a 757, then your day would be going very, very poorly. And it would about to get much, much worse for yourself and a great many residents of the outer boroughs.

Spiritual Thought Of The Day

I strive every day to:

1) See the good in every human being.

2) Shift the focus of my awareness away from myself, my needs, and and my expectations. To see the world as others see it, at minimum, and to see the world as it actually is, at best.

3) Ponder the things I don’t know anything about, and also the breadth of my lack of knowledge.

4) Let go of the arrogant assumption that something I don’t immediately comprehend is bizarre, chaotic, or senseless.

5) Embrace the peace and serenity that is offered to me each and every moment.

I achieve or fail in each of these goals each and every day. But if there is a God, and He’s the kind of theist God who sees and judges all, I would like to believe that He is pleased by the fact that I value these goals and try my best to reach them.

Yesterday, I was rushing to make an Amtrak train for a meeting in New York City. I rounded the parking lot in increasing circles of anxiety. It was full to the extreme of commuters abandoning their cars on grassed areas and in places clearly marked NO PARKING.

When I spotted a scooter parked jauntily in the center of a space intended for a full-sized car, instead of in one of the many empty carrels specifically set aside for two-wheeled vehicles, my reaction was calm. I put my car in neutral, set the parking brake, walked to the scooter, unzipped my pants, and peed all over the seat and handlebars.

Yes, in my mind.

I am an imperfect vessel for the perfection of the universe. If there is indeed a God, and He’s the kind of theist God who sees and judges all, I think it pleased Him that even in my imagination, in which I can do absolutely anything without regard for consequences, I chose such a limited and (in the larger scheme of things) harmless manner of retribution.

After all, I could have arranged for a historical reenactor to hide in the bushes until the (stupid selfish idiot) scooter owner returned. He would leap out, dressed like John Wilkes Booth, shoot the bastard in the nuts with a paintball gun, and then shout “SIC SEMPER PINHEADS!!!!!” before running away.

And then while the (idiot moron jerk) was curled up on the pavement, clutching his plums and desperately trying to get a breath, a tanker truck would overturn and cover him and his (goddamn) scooter with thousands of gallons of liquid pig excrement.

While his mouth was still open.

(I mean, it really was a stellar example of selfish, clueless, asshat behavior.)

The Dad Gene

I’m not going to suggest there are no downsides to traveling on 45 minutes’ sleep. There are plenty. In fact, the only two advantages are that nobody will try to take the Amtrak seat next to you if you’re sloppily collapsed with your face pressed against the window and drooling heavily, and when you reach your destination and are expected to act in a rational and professional manner, you can wipe aside all responsibility with the phrase “Sorry, I had an early train; I forgot that you’re not allowed to pee on an escalator.”

I’m using a ridiculous example for comedic effect. This is New York. You can pee on just about anything here and people definitely do.

Well, I don’t know why I can never get a good night’s sleep before an early travel day. All I can say is that I normally work well into the single digits of the AM, and further, there’s an endless list of petty annoyances that I have to address before I can close my office. So 7:15 AM isn’t a departure time that favors great success.

I left the house 45 minutes later than I’d planned. Which meant that I was waiting on the platform just 15 minutes before the train.

“Wow! It was a little close!” you say. No, you don’t understand: this is Amtrak. In airline terms, it was as if I’d shown up at my gate an hour before boarding time. So why was I dressing myself down?

The Dad Gene.

I’m sometimes reminded that I have all of the tools necessary to be a good father. For example, there’s that head-clampy device that’s used to keep the kid at the kitchen table until he finishes all of his green beans. I picked that one up at a yard sale. A good oak one; it even had all of the straps.

But here I speak of the genetic drive to get the kids out of bed way too early and arrive at the airport way too soon for a flight. “Oh, you’re bored?” Dad says, during Hour Two of the airport sit-in. “I suppose you’d rather be excited because I had to fix a flat tire and there was a wreck on the highway and we couldn’t find a place to park at the airport shuttle and the shuttle driver got lost on the way and we got held up at the security screening and there was a problem with our tickets. You’re telling me that you’s like the excitement of hurling ourselves through a closing jetway door at the last second and hoping that we’d still get to go to Disneyworld? Read your Archie comic and keep quiet.”

I would have gotten to the Amtrak station a lot earlier if I hadn’t taken a childish detour. I like to pass by the airport shuttle, stop where there are a couple of dozen people waiting, and be a total dick. “I’m carrying a Swiss Army knife and many ounces of liquids I don’t even necessarily need! Enjoy the TSA strip search, losers!”

And then I laugh and peel out. It’s part of the joy of rail travel.

Why the early departure? A breakfast that got cancelled while I was en route. Well, the good news was that I had a little bit of work to do, anyway. I’d been keeping an eye on an announcement from Logitech on the pricing of the first Google TV set-top box. I’d held on to a review of the Apple TV and the new Roky set-top boxes for hours, waiting, but finally I had to release it to my editor.

The news came late on the West Coast: $300. Holy jumping iguanas. If it were close to the $99 prices of the other network-enabled TV thingies, we’d have had a real horse race. Even if they got it in under $200, it’d have been an interesting development.

But $300? That’s true Whiskey Tango Foxtrot pricing. I wrote and submitted an amendment to the column I’d filed, adding one of the bitchiest few paragraphs I’ve published in quite a while.

It was actually a damned lovely morning. I’ve spent enough time in New York that when I arrived at Penn Station and needed to fine a nice place to set up and work, I could do no better than Bryant Park, just four or five blocks away. The weather was gorgeous, I had a source of phosphoric acid at my elbow, and tapped away on my iPad quite happily before my lunch engagement.

Another busy day lies ahead. Breakfast with someone, then off to the New York Comic-Con floor for a briefing or two, then I engage my military-style plans to try to get on the list for a sketch from one of my favorite artists. Then off to Fox News to be on their Web-only tech show at 2 PM.

I’ll look pretty foolish in my Darth Maul makeup, but it really can’t be helped.