Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Month: January, 2009

Switching between buses, planes, trains (oh my!)

Traveling in the Northeast is such a pleasant experience! So many options — by plane or train, or a road trip adventure with friends stuffed into a sedan. And then of course, my personal favorite, the bus.

Buses like the Fung Wah bus (aka Chinatown bus) and Megabus offer cheaper fares, a nice view, and a chance to meet other travelers. It’s great..that is until you’re flying down the highway with the windows flapping in the 20-degree breeze.

I left Boston at 2:30 p.m. Monday, fully expecting to arrive in midtown Manhattan at 6:20 that evening. Until the bus began to get uncomfortably warm. (Very odd, considering I usually feel uncomfortably chilled.)

The people around me kept getting up, stuffing more clothes into the overhead storage — somehow the same people kept getting up to do this; they must have been wearing 10 layers — or rushing to the front to complain to the driver. Perhaps telling her that we would soon all be naked if she didn’t override the heat.

We pulled off on an obscure exit in Connecticut while she called her boss. The heat, he said, could not be turned off. So we drove for more than an hour with the comfort of winter air rushing through the emergency windows before switching to another bus in another Connecticut city.

The worst part? The switch had been planned ahead of time for a known mechanical error.

This right after the plane landed in the Hudson River because geese flew into its engines.

I must admit, it’s a good thing we have so many traveling options up here in the Northeast. Trains always were my favorite…


The Urban Scarecrow

My neighbors (whoever they may be), have four plastic owls hanging by string from the top of their building.

They're on the right -- I'll try to get a better photo soon.

They're on the right -- I'll try to get a better photo soon.

I saw them a few months ago and decided that, not only was it a very tacky decoration, it was also not a very noticeable one. I only noticed the owls because they were level with my fourth floor window.

Then last week I saw owls hanging above a BBQ restaurant on my walk home, and I knew they were not just a tacky decoration.

As it turns out, I probably could have asked anyone in an urban area for the answer. But as I thought it was some ancient Hoboken tradition, I turned to Google.

The owls scare away pigeons. (NYT: Owls clever, but pigeons get wise)

In the South and the Midwest, when we hear pesky critters we think of raccoons, crows, squirrels and opossums. Pigeons are just those funny birds in big cities walking around park benches.

But once I discovered the answer, it made perfect sense. These
dumb creatures have been driving my roommate crazy! They sit on her windowsill and begin clucking every night, just as she’s about to drift off to sleep.

Of course, pigeons aren’t the only urban pests (I was chased out of a park by seagulls last week after I accidentally dropped a piece of my lunch.) But they might be the most present.

I guess the plastic owls have been keeping the pigeons away from my side of the building, so tacky or not, I’m grateful for them.