Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shake Shack

Wednesday evening, 7pm, 60 degrees. The first warm night of the spring seemed to me to be the perfect time to try out the much talked about (by Captain Carnivore and others) SHAKE SHACK burger stand.

Located in Madison Square Park and owned by NYC restaurant guru Danny Meyer, the Shack is known for awesome 4oz sirloin and brisket burgers, shakes and custard. Diners sit outside, under strings of twinkle lights…and heat lamps when it’s cold.

The wait can be lengthy, ours was reasonable at 30 minutes, but let me tell you the wait was worth it!! The veggie option is a battered and fried portabello mushroom stuffed with cheddar and muenster cheese. Placed atop a bun with special sauce tomato and lettuce, it definitely ranks in my top 5 of veggie burgers…EVER:-) Captain Carnivore says the crinkle fries could be better. Perhaps a bit, but Heather and I loved them—well salted, hot, delic!

As an aside, yes you read correctly, 2 of my favorite New Yorkers, Matt and Heather finally met. As expected, a bit of healthy (if a bit over the top) sparring went on over the Yankees versus Mets. Think I’ll have to keep them away from one another if either team makes the playoffs!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Urban Ettiquette

Though there are oodles of things I love about New York, a seeming "urban ettiquitte" is not on the list.

First, I've had 3 unfortunate incidents on the subway in recent months. One lady shoved me getting in the subway and then tried to stare me down all the way up the East side. A second lady poked me in the shoulder to demand an apology after I accidentally stepped on her toe (and she missed the first apology because she had her CD player cranked to the max.) The third lady blew past me to get out of the subway and then had the audacity to look back and glare at me...B*&^h!

Then came this article in the New York Post. "NO!: What's a Favor in Cleveland is an Imposition in NYC." The paper interviewed a "time management expert" who said,

"New Yorkers are right to hold themselves to a different standard because we live in an exceptional place. 'In any other city, when a guest is coming, a friend goes to pick them up from the airport. It doesn't make sense for us to do that,' she says. When we are not working, commuting and trying to squeeze in time with our significant others, there are still 8 million people to see and 10 billion things to do in this thriving metropolis."

What on earth is that all about? I do acknowledge that I am more busy now than ever before. But does that mean that I have a pass (or would want to) on helping people or hosting them while in town? Absolutely not!

Message to New York City...GET MIDWEST FRIENDLY!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sunset over Lake Nicaragua

This was the sunset over Lake Nicaragua on Thursday night. We all made a guess as to when the sun was going to set and the person who got closest got her tent pitched for her. I wasn't the winner but that was okay because it was fun to pitch my very first tent:-) The lesson for next time is to pick a flat spot on the beach!

My final thought on Nicaragua is that I found it really cool to travel somewhere so different but only one time zone away. It just felt like I popped down to Nicaragua-- a short jaunt versus a trip across the ocean. I was also struck by the noticeable American influence--much more so than in Europe. Everything from the plugs, money and products seemed very influenced by the US.

Nicaragua has definitely left me ready to explore another Central American country. Costa Rica here I come:-)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Not Your Average Week in the Office

Hotel before deployment. Why couldn't we rescue someone from here?

Mix together The Apprentice, Survivor and Lost and you've got my week in Nicaragua. The challenge was to learn how to aid foreign nationals in a disaster situation. To accomplish this, 24 colleagues and I were dropped onto an island, split into two teams ("A Team" and "Knickers") and put through a variety of scenarios.

Would you trust someone who wears a hat like that?

Day One: 3:30am deployment time, passing through complicated immigration, setting up an operations center complete with satellite internet, taking a missing persons report from frantic parents and drafting press lines.

We took these boats around to another side of the island. "The sea was angry my friends." The waves were so big that I got soaked from head to toe by the time we arrived at our final destination.

All good ops centers need a flag. "The sun never sets..."

Day Two: searching for victims at hospitals and morgues, holding a press conference, telling someone their loved one died and sleeping in tents.

Doesn't this remind you of the view from Jolli Lodge?

Lovely flora and fauna! You could hear monkeys in the trees, but I didn't see any.

Day Three: evacuation procedures ahead of a natural disaster


The exercise was phenominal and frustating, terrific and terrifying just as I imagine a real deployment would be. I pray we aren't needed but now feel ready if we are.

More on Nicaragua tomorrow...

Monday, March 10, 2008


First for the exciting news...HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY CHARLOTTE!! My new cousin was born early this morning and mom, baby and dad are all doing well! Congrats!

In other news, I made it to Nicaragua yesterday and am trying to use all the Spanish I know without sounding like an American ("grassy-ass"). The flight was right on time and even transferring in Panama was no big deal.

The landscape is beautiful but the poverty (as seen in the car on the way to the hotel) is staggering and heartbreaking. I´ve also been sufficiently freaked out by family and experts that I haven´t left the hotel. We are heading out to dinner tonight in a BIG group so perhaps I´ll see a bit more then...and then of course when we go out on our training mission to goodness knows where on Wednesday.

More in a few days!

p.s. really like Nicaraguan food--plantains, beans and fried cheese:-)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Viva Nicaragua

I'm heading off to Nicaragua on Sunday for a business trip and am quickly checking things off my list of things to do before I leave.

- got 4 shots
- took my first anti-malarial pill
- purchased a sleeping bag
- purchased a skeeter net tent

The bug spray and Immodium are yet to be purchased.

I'm sure I'll have an awesome time and come back with lots of stories and pictures. Stay tuned:-)

(But for some reason I feel like I might really relate to Phyllis Neffler)