1. You can wear anything you want and no one will take notice. We had dinner last night down in The Village and saw so many truly bizarre people that after a bit, they began to look like the norm. This morning I saw a very old man riding a newish mountain bike beside the sidewalk of a very busy street. He was weaving in and out of taxi cabs and buses that were also weaving in and out of parked vehicles and pedestrians. I wouldn’t last 5 minutes on a bike here, yet this gentleman was successfully negotiating the obstacle course. Amazing. This city truly is a free for all.

2. I’ve been on subways in many cities, including several in Europe. All of them are better designed and easier to use than NYC’s subway system. Last night we took the subway back from The Village area to Columbus Circle. We only needed two passes, yet none of the machines we tried would take my credit card or dollar bills. We finally found a manned station. I told the attendant I needed two tickets and he took my money and gave me one subway card. No explanation. So we went over to the turnstyles and tried swiping the card, but it wouldn’t let us pass. Finally after swiping the card twice, I was able to pass through. Then I had to hand the pass back to Sarah and she had to swipe it twice. What’s wrong with tokens? Then began the fun of trying to figure out which trains to take. The map was easy enough to figure out, but trying to decide which train corresponded with what we saw on the map was not as easy. We made it back somehow, but I can see you’d have to live here awhile to really get to know this system.

3. The restaurants here are on a higher plane than in the Midwest. Simple neighborhood eateries have delicious food. You can hardly find a bad meal here (except maybe at our hotel).

4. Most signs warning of fines for driving offenses mean nothing. There are signs everywhere warning of hefty fines for honking horns, yet you stand there reading the sign while a symphony of honking horns plays around you. I was sitting in a stationary cab last night right in the middle of an intersection reading the sign warning drivers about blocking cross traffic. The lines on the street? They’re there for visitors. No one else pays any attention to them. And the shuttle bus drivers move through the tightest gaps in traffic with the grace of ballet dancers. I kept waiting for the crunch of metal, but we never hit a thing.

5. Tall buildings always appear a lot closer than they really are. I left the Javits Center yesterday around 1PM. The shuttle buses had stopped running and I had very little cash, so I had no choice but to walk back to the hotel. There’s a very distinctive building near our hotel and I could see it easily from the Javits Center. I thought, “that’s not so far.” Half an hour later I could still clearly see the distinctive building whenever I stopped to wipe the sweat off my forehead. On a cool day, it would have been a nice walk. In yesterday’s heat, not so much.

6. If you’re tired enough, you can sleep through anything. The first night here I may have slept 3 hours total. The rest of the night I was kept awake by the seemingly non-stop truck traffic on W. 57th St and by the near constant slamming of hotel room doors (why can’t someone invent a door that closes securely without slamming?) and by the ice machine that some fledgling architect thought would be ok to put right in the hallway outside our room. But after a busy day yesterday combined with a serious sleep deficit, I slept like the dead last night.

7. The price of bottled water fluctuates wildly with the location of the purchase. A small bottle at our hotel bar runs $4. It’s $3 at the convention center. At the Subway sandwich joint around the corner from our hotel, it’s $1.25. Sort of like shopping for the cheapest gasoline, which, btw, is not much higher here in the city that it is in our neck of the woods back home.

8. As I sit here looking out my hotel room window, I have to think that glass is the most common element in NYC. And I wonder how high up you have to get before you stop hearing traffic. I can tell you that 12th floor is not high enough.