Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2011

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2011 - 1

After seeing the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular last Friday, my wife and I walked over to Rockefeller Center to take a look at the big Christmas tree.  It’s one of those iconic sights that you have to see to say you had the full Christmas tourist experience in the city.  We’re not tourists, but even still, it’s nice to get out and do the tourist thing.  It helps me appreciate the city more and take advantage of what it has to offer, before I suddenly find myself moving somewhere else.  That’s how it’s always been for me.  I keep putting things off and then before I know it, the opportunity has passed and I’ve moved on.  That’s how I wound up never seeing the Carlsbad Caverns, even though I lived in the area for two years.

Rockefeller Christmas Tree 2011 - 2

Anyway, the tree was looking a little wilted, but we did wait until the it had been up for more than a month to came take a look at it.  Next year, I want to take my wife around to see it when it’s still fresh.  She was very amused to see the ice skating rink just below the tree and had a lot of questions about it.  Maybe one of these days I can teach her how to ice skate, though I’m a bit rusty myself.

Rockefeller Center Skating Rink
Rockefeller Center Skating Rink

The Christmas season is winding down.  In just a few days it’ll be the New Year.  Even worse (and better), classes start again on the 3rd.  It’s just one class, for Winter Session, but it’s 4 hours a day, 4 days a week for three weeks.  It should be interesting.  I just hope we can squeeze in a few more sightseeing stops before we run out of time.  We still have to make it back to the Met!  Hopefully we can do that this Friday, when the museum stays open later than normal.  I’d like to take her to the Guggenheim and the American Museum of Natural History too, if possible.

Rockefeller Center Christmas 2011 Angel Decoration

Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular 2011

Radio City Music Hall 2011

Last Friday my wife and I went to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes. It wound up being a really great experience and it was a great way to spend the Friday before Christmas weekend.

Radio City Rockettes - 2011 Christmas Spectacular - 1

I saw the show once before, in 2006, and I was amazed by just how much the show has improved since then. The most memorable moment for me from the previous show was the toy soldiers. I was in the Army at the time and I remember being impressed by just how precise their marching movements were. I was sitting in the first mezzanine so I had the advantage of watching the turns and wheels from above. I’d marched in more than a few parades and military ceremonies so I had personal experience for comparison and the Rockettes were definitely better at it than anyone I knew. They work harder at perfecting parade marching too, though.

Radio City Rockettes - Christmas Spectacular 2011 - Toy Soldiers

This year, the toy soldier segment was just as much fun to watch, but we were sitting in the Orchestra, so the precision of the marching wasn’t as readily apparent. I almost wish I’d picked mezzanine seats instead! We were able to see the finale to the toy soldier portion just fine though:

There were a lot of changes to the show. I think I remember seeing the dance with dozens of Santas in 2006, but this year there was a segment meant to imitate the Rockettes traveling through the city in a tour bus, a portion that simulated a video game and even some 3D stuff that was a lot of fun.

Radio City Rockettes - Christmas Spectacular 2011 - Humbugged in 3D

Overall, the show was a very fun and very memorable way for my wife to spend her first Christmas in New York City. We’re looking forward to going again in a few years.

For a full album of pictures (with descriptions) from the show, click here. The album is on Google+ and won’t require a sign in to view.

First Snow for New York City (Winter 2011)… in October.

First Snow For New York City 2011
First Snow For New York City 2011

It’s looking like a mini-blizzard out there.  I didn’t expect to see this in October!  I do remember it being so cold we had to bundle up tight for Trick-or-Treating when I was a kid though, back in the 80s, and that was in Maryland.  Maybe this isn’t so unusual after all.  Maybe it’s more like things going back to the way they were before.  Regardless, it’s snowing, and it’s getting me in the Christmas spirit before we’ve even gotten past Halloween.

First Snow in NYC 2011

It’s not supposed to stick, thankfully.  I can do without piles of snow on the roads for a few more weeks at least.  I’m planning on moving to a new apartment and I have absolutely no experience driving in snow.  Hurricanes, yes.  Snow, no.

New Semester, New Books

A stack of some of my college books for Fall Semester.

Fall Semester started yesterday.  I didn’t have much of a break, since I took courses over the Summer, but two and a half weeks off seemed long enough to me.  I spent most of that time rotting my brain with video games.  I haven’t sat around playing video games for hours on end in years and it was great!  Besides a game called Vindictus (by Nexon) that I’ve been playing casually since around March, I started using ‘Steam’ (My Profile) and played Team Fortress 2, Left For Dead 2, and Borderlands, among others.  Hopefully I’ll still have a little time to hack up zombies and make bandits’ heads explode with a shotgun, but considering how thick some of the books are, I’m glad I have one of those nifty book lights that clips on, because I foresee a lot of late night reading.

Some good news is, I finally decided what I want to do and declared my major as History.  I still have to figure out what particular area of history I want to focus on, though I’m leaning towards Islamic or Medieval History.  I’m also considering doing a double major since a history major only requires 11 courses (33 credit hours) out of the total of 120 credit hours required to get a BA. 

This semester I’m going to be taking two history courses that will count towards my major:  Middle East Under Islam and Traditional Civilizations of India.  The books in the picture above are for those two courses.

I’m also taking a 6 credit course involving English and Writing.  It’s called ‘Our City’ and focuses on literary perspectives on New York City.  I live here, so why not?  It might help me discover some of the history behind New York City.  Also, it fills a requirement.  I’d rather have taken a course that covers dystopian literature, but it wasn’t available and I want to get that requirement out of the way.

I also wanted to mention that Hurricane Irene is affecting the school systems here in NYC, obviously.  I got an SMS, an email and three phone calls from the CUNY alert system letting me know that CCNY will be closed today, tomorrow, and possibly Monday.  I don’t really care that the school is closed today or tomorrow.  In fact, it might not even be bad if it’s closed on Monday, since the first day of a class is usually a ‘get to know each other’ kind of thing.

Hurricane Irene has New Yorkers panicking.  By now, all mass transit will have shut down, including the airports and Amtrak.  There are mandatory evacuation zones and they may even cut power to prevent the power grid from being annihilated by salt water inundation.  I also looked at a map and discovered that the block my apartment building is on is just inside an evacuation zone.  The evacuation zone area cuts inland only for my block.  I don’t know how to feel about that, but if the block south of me and the one north of me aren’t in an evacuation zone, then WTF?  I can see them from the window and could hit them if I threw a stone.  They’re also on the same level as this building, altitude-wise.  I think I’ll stay put.