Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smarter Than A Fifth Grader (Or A Seventh Grader)

Yesterday my grandson Liam was over for the day and he recited the following conversation:

"How much are M&M's?"

"50 Cent."

"That's Ludacris!"

I said, "Hey, I know. M&M, 50 Cent and Ludacris are rap artists (and I use the term 'artist' loosely)."  He almost fell off his chair because his grandfather knew this.  Just to show you, I'm as smart as a seventh grader!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another Day of Making Travel Arrangements

Spent another day making travel arrangements for our May/June trip.  This will be a 21 day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Amsterdam, Netherlands and then we will go to our daughter's villa in Tuscany for a week before we head back home.

The cruise arrangements had already been made. In fact, we made the booking while on our Panama Canal cruise over Christmas and New Years. The reservations made today (and part of yesterday) were to get to Tuscany and then to London for stand-by flight to Miami.  If you recall other travel arrangements I have described you recall my number one travel rule - if I'm paying, use the cheapest airline!  Probably the cheapest airlines in Europe are either RyanAir or EasyJet. RyanAir, an Irish airline, unfortunately wouldn't get me to I want to go so its EasyJet.  We have flown EasyJet before on our trip last Summer from Basel, Switzerland to London.

The cruise ship arrives in Amsterdam too late for the EasyJet flight to Italy (actually to Milan) so we will spend a day and night in Amsterdam.  I booked a night at the Ibis Hotel near the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam.  We stayed there a few years ago following a transatlantic cruise.  The cruise ship line (Holland America) will provide a shuttle from the port to the airport. From the airport the hotel provides a shuttle. After checking in we will probably take the train into the city.  The next morning we will fly out of Amsterdam.

EasyJet is probably on a par with some of the budget airlines in the US but they are real cheap.  I mean real cheap. British Air has flights from Amsterdam to Milan for $220 per person; EasyJet does the same route for about $48 per person.  That's why I love EasyJet.  Of course there are some drawbacks.  For instance, there are no reserved seats.  Get there early if you want an aisle seat.

We leave Amsterdam at 9:30 AM and arrive in Milan at 11:10 AM.  Our daughter's villa is closer to Pisa or Florence than to Milan but EasyJet has no flight from Amsterdam to Pisa.  As a result we have to get from Milan to Florence so we will take the train.  Next step, make train reservations.  (The tickets will be sent to us by mail.)  We will leave Milano Centrale (Milan central station) at 2:15 PM and will arrive at Firenze S M N (Florence central station) at 4:00 PM.  This is $75 per person for second class and for a less than two hour ride second class is all you need.  At the Florence train station our daughter and her family will pick us up.

We will spend about eight days at Castello di Casole and then have to think about going home.  Because we want to fly first class (or business class) to Miami and don't want to pay for it, we have to get to a European city serviced by American Airlines.  The best chances are Paris and London so will EasyJet get us there.  There are EasyJet flights from Pisa to both Paris Orly and London Gatwick so we opt for London.  Make reservations with EasyJet and we will leave Pisa at 2:40 PM and arrive at Gatwick at 3:50 PM. 

We're in London at Gatwick airport but to get to Miami on American Airlines we have to get to Heathrow airport.  That means a coach (bus) ride of about an hour and a quarter. It's not that bad. We've done it before.  

We're at Heathrow in the afternoon but the direct flight to Miami is in the morning so we need a place to stay for the night.  The Park Inn Heathrow is at the airport so I make reservations there.  We stayed there last Summer when on our way home from or ocean cruise/river cruise trip.

Now the only thing we need to get home is open space on an American Airlines flight to Miami.  Last Summer Nancy got a seat in First Class. I ended up in Business Class.  I know, it's tough. 


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Seneca Falls No More!

The Village of Seneca Falls was the site of the 1848 Women's Right Convention attended by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and other movers of the women's rights movement. (Rochester's Susan B. Anthony did not attend the convention in Seneca Falls but attended the Rochester women’s rights convention held in August 1848, two weeks after the historic Seneca Falls Convention, and signed the Rochester convention’s Declaration of Sentiments.)  Apparently the Village of Seneca Falls may be on its way out according to the Democrat & Chronicle. By a vote of 1,142 to 1,037 the voters of the village voted to dissolve their municipality that has been in existence for 179 years.  Although there are some absentee ballots to be counted, it is possible that the village will be dissolved at the beginning of 2012. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Johnny Antonelli vs Billy Allen

In 1948 there was a terrific high school baseball pitcher in Rochester, NY  named Johnny Antonelli.  Antonelli, in his senior year at Jefferson High School pitched five no-hitters and was actively scouted by major league teams.  But there was another ace high school pitcher that year and that was Billy Allen who pitched for West High School.  A number of people were of the opinion that Allen was as good or better than Antonelli. I, an unbiased observer, was in that group. Ok, so he lived on Flint Street down the street from us.

That year the Boston Braves were looking at both pitchers and decided that if Jefferson High and West High would play each other at the end of the high school baseball season they would sign the winning pitcher.  The game, played at Red Wing Stadium on Norton Street, was a sell out.  I don't recall the final score but do remember the winning team - West High School and Billy Allen!

So the Braves signed Billy Allen but also signed Johnny Antonelli.  Two high school baseball phenoms from Rochester went to professional baseball in 1948. Antonelli went on to play for the Braves and the Giants (both New York and San Francisco) and retired in 1961. He returned to Rochester and ran a chain of Firestone Tire stores in the Rochester area.

What happened to Billy Allen?  Billy never played in the major leagues and spent a number of years in 'D' league ball in the south. After that I don't know but for a while Flint Street had a star!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all, Irish or otherwise. I have the distinct honor of being named after the saint and also my great-grandfather, Patrick M. Eagan.  When I was very young I was not always pleased with the name chosen by my mother and father.  Being called Patty was not always appreciated to a six or seven year old.  Eventually I came to realize that I, and all Patricks, had something unique - everybody in the Western world (and probably portions of the Eastern word too) celebrated a day dedicated to our name.  One of my Italian friend when I was in my teens tried to argue that Josephs in the world were just as proud of their namesake as those named Patrick.  My question - how many celebrate St. Joseph's Day (March 19) other than the Italians?

After skipping two generations after my great-grandfather with no Patrick Eagan, my father and mother started it again when they named me. I, in turn, named my eldest son Patrick and he named his son Liam Patrick.  Let's hope that Liam Patrick will continue it.  (Listen up, Liam!)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cozumel and Cayman Islands

Yesterday we were in Cozumel for the day. I, Roberta and Alexandra went kayaking and snorkeling while Nancy laid by the pool aboard the ship.  During the afternoon we did our usual Bingo session. Both Nancy and Alexandra won. The previous day Alexandra and Roberta won. Today Nancy won twice this morning. Not a bad day.

Today we were to stop on Grand Cayman but the weather (waves and wind) was such that were not able to stop. Tenders are necessary to go ashore from the ship so all the activities on shore were canceled. However, that meant more Bingo! Besides the Bingo we competed in a scavenger hunt were able to win third place. Not bad. Getting better right now for a cocktail party.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Costa Maya, Mexico

Today we are in Costa Maya, Mexico and will stay here until about 8:00 PM. Roberta and Alexandra are taking a catamaran ride, Sam (a/k/a Tucker) is touring the ship and Grandpa and Nana will probably walk into the small village nearby. As you can see from the photo Nana is enjoying herself!

Yesterday, a day at sea, we played trivia three times and bingo in the  afternoon. Came pretty close on the trivia sessions, didn't even come close in bingo and even farther away from winning in the casino! Maybe today will be our day.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Aboard the Liberty of the Seas

We are on the Liberty of the Seas and heading south to the Caribbean Sea. We left Boca for Miami about a half hour after Noon and arrived at the parking garage about 1:45 PM. Shuttle to the pier and checked in.  Had lunch with Roberta and Alexandra as Sam was unpacking. We wandered around the ship. It certainly different than the ships that we generally cruise on. The Liberty has about 4200 passengers and the Holland America ships we generally go on have about 1300. In a minute we will be heading for Martinis and then to dinner at 8:30.

Packing For a One Week Cruise

We are just finishing up packing for our 7 day cruise that starts this afternoon.  We have decided that we know how to pack for a one month cruise (or even a two month cruise) but are clueless packing for a one week cruise.  Our daughter and her two kids were able to pack everything in roller cases (those that will fit in the overhead bin on an airplane).  We have a huge suitcase and a stuffed garment bag! What are we doing wrong?

In May we will be taking a three cruise to Europe and stay another week and a half before we come home.  I suspect that we will have the same amount luggage then as we have for today's cruise!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Eruvim in Boca Raton and Rochester

There is an interesting article in this morning's New York Times, A Jewish Ritual Collides With Mother Nature, dealing with eruvim.  You probably ask, "What the heck is eruvim?"  An eruv (eruvim is the plural) is an enclosure around a community within which Orthodox Jews may carry objects on the sabbath.  The eruv extends the boundary of one's home to the entire eruv. The boundary may consist of walls, wires and posts.  It is important for Orthodox Jews to know the boundary of the evru.  The Wikipedia article on Evru notes, "Without an eruv, Torah-observant Jews would be unable to carry keys or tissues in their pockets or push baby carriages on the Jewish Sabbath thus making it difficult for many to leave home."  The Times article describes the havoc wreaked among the orthodax community as a result of the recent blizzards in the northeast.

There is a Eruv in the Boca Raton area near our area (although we are not included in the Eruv) and I have noticed a wire strung from street light poles along Glades Road.  The Boca Raton Eruv area is this:

The Eruv for Rochester, NY is as follows:

A list of eruvim can be found at Wikipedia.