A couple of days ago, I highlighted an article in Popular Science that suggested a number of great sites in the US that nerds might like to visit. I recently heard of a new one that just opened.
The lowest grade I got in high school was a “D” in trigonometry. Math frightens and confuses me.
So I’m probably not a top candidate to visit the newly opened Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan.
But, then again, the museum is actually designed partly for guys like I am who freeze when the words “trig” or “geometry” or—god forbid—“calculus” come up in conversation. The Museum of Mathematics is on East 26th Street in the Flatiron District, and it was founded by—get this—a former hedge fund manager. I’m sure if I’d been better at math, I could have been a hedge fund manager, and I’d be driving a much nicer car than I do now.
Anyway, this is the country’s only museum dedicated to the science of numbers, and there are plenty of hands-on displays, including ones that feature—and here I cringe—word problems. But I do want to visit, if only so I can take on the MIT Museum in Boston that argues the slide rule is the world’s most important instrument.
You see it everywhere in restaurants now—diners using smart phones to photograph their food for posting on blogs and social media sites. While some restaurateurs used to be irritated by that, now many realize the boom it can be for business.
Post a picture of a dish on Instagram while dining at a New York Upper East Side restaurant called 83-and-a-half, for example, and you’ll receive a complimentary hazelnut-and-espresso ice pop that’s not on the menu. And other restaurants are willing to offer a little something extra, especially if they find a customer has an unusually high number of Twitter or Instagram followers.
Here’s proper etiquette. Obviously take your picture when your plate is presented, when it’s looking its best. Try to avoid the use of flash—work with natural light if at all possible. Maybe take in more than just the plate—include a wine glass or silverware. And by all means do not include any diners you don’t know in your photograph—you never know who might be there with someone they don’t want the world to know about.
Think I’m putting too much emphasis on the photo? Several Whole Foods stores in Boston have a professional photographer, Brian Samuels, teaching courses in how to create a professional-looking food shot. He, by the way, has 9,000 Twitter followers and 1, 692 Instagram followers.
The website that uses professional journalists to review hotels, Oyster.com, recently listed some of the most outrageous hotel fees, and I think you’ll find them shocking.
The Ritz-Carlton on St. Thomas charges a daily resort fee of $58. Now, this is a gorgeous property, but don’t you sign up for a resort when you make your reservation? Just build the $58 in the price if that $58 is necessary to keep the doors open.
The Venetian in Vegas charges a $40-a-day “facilities fee.” That’s a lot of dough to use the hotel’s fabulous spa. Park your own car at the Sheraton Boston and you pay $39 a day. Hey, don’t complain, the InterContinental San Francisco charges $53 a day, and there’s no self-parking option.
Order room service at the Trump International on North Miami Beach and you’ll pay a 20% service charge, 9% sales tax, and $3 delivery fee. At the Elysian Beach Resort in the US Virgin Islands, there’s a $21 daily energy surcharge. And $110 to clean your room. Per day. Really.
Americans often return from visits overseas asking the question, “Why can’t we have cool, high-speed trains like they do in Europe, Japan, and China?”
AMTRAK is America’s whipping boy. Passengers sometimes suffer mediocre service, meals, and uncertain departure and arrival times. Some in Congress want to shut it down, others grant AMTRAK just enough money to keep operating but not enough to improve it.
The only AMTRAK line that works and makes money runs along the East Coast corridor, linking Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and DC. Not only does that work, it’s beating the competition, the famous hourly shuttles operated by Delta and US Airways.
In 2001, a third of passengers between NY and DC went by train; today, 75% of them do.
And the airlines’ cheapest fare between NY and DC is $90 more than the average $145 fare on the high-speed Acela train (pictured). I use the term “high-speed” lightly because the ancient tracks keep the train from going anywhere near as fast as it is able to go.
Unless and until Congress commits to spending billions of dollars, America will always have a rail system way behind the times. And not much of it will turn a profit.
Urban art painted on the side of a five-star hotel in Boston? That’s what Simon Mais, general manager of the new Boston hotel, The Revere, permitted to promote an exhibition opening for two Brazilian artists who happen to be twins. When in Jerusalem, don’t miss a visit to Yad Vashem, the stunning museum dedicated to the history of the Holocaust. Guide Hazy Flint–who recently walked Rudy around the museum–describes why remembering the terrible past is so important.
Travel blogger David Rowell says California’s plan for a bullet train is overpriced and ill-conceived. San Francisco travel writer Chris Barnett offers a first-person report on riding the slow Amtrak train that runs along the California coast. And Rudy closes the show with a few deals of the week.