May 20, 2008: Rainbow Room

Last night was another night of just four hours of sleep.  It has been over two weeks since I had a real night’s sleep and I am really getting tired.  I have a function in the city this evening so I am working from home this morning and going in in the afternoon to the city.

Oreo went to daycare today for the first time in about ten days.  I am sure that he was pretty excited.  He has had quite a lot of energy recently since he doesn’t have any dogs to play with when he stays home.  He starts to get pretty rambunctious.  We don’t realize how much “puppy” he has in him still (he is about eight years old these days) until he hasn’t been getting worn out at daycare all week long.  He wants to play a lot and is always asking to go for long walks.

I started into the city in the middle of the afternoon.  I went to the Tribeca office rather than Wall Street today.  All day the weather wasn’t too bad.  All day, that is, until I walked out the door to head into the city.  The rain started just minutes before I headed out the door.  What bad timing.

I made a quick run for the Gateway Center which is located just a block from my apartment at Eleven80.  I managed to not get too wet in that short distance.  There is tree cover much of the way which helped too.

I arrived at World Trade Center and decided to just take the subway up to Tribeca even though the walk isn’t all that long because the rain was going to be a nuisance.  But I forgot that the subway station at the WTC has been moved and I didn’t know where its entrance was or even if that station was still open.  So I decided that hunting around for a station that I knew nothing about was a bad idea and just walked towards Tribeca going up Greenwich as quickly as I could.

Unfortunately the rain started to get pretty heavy as I was walking and I was caught in a long stretch with a subway or any type of cover.  So by the time that I arrived at the trading floors in northern Tribeca I was completely and utterly drenched.

I spent about two hours on the Tribeca trading floors before heading out onto the road again.  This time I knew where the subway stop was and there was no way for me to walk all of the way to Rockefeller Center.  Still there was a bit of rain and I wasn’t exactly dry by the time that I got to the Rock.

For those who do not know, 30 Rockefeller Center, also known as the GE Building, is one of the most famous buildings in New York – partially because of the famous photograph taken during its construction.  It is a seventy story behemoth structure just north of the Empire State Building.  The observation deck at 30 Rock is known as the “Top of the Rock” and is the second most famous views of the city behind only the legendary Empire State Building itself.  Both, though, are much lower than the former World Trade Center’s commanding views.  The new WTC building rising out of lower Manhattan will have some truly amazing views, though, I am sure, when it is finally completed.  (The work on the new building is really coming along.  I can see significant progress in the last few months since I started working in lower Manhattan and traveling through the WTC every day.)

On the sixty-fifth floor of 30 Rock, and commanding views only nominally less impressive than the observation deck itself, is the landmark Rainbow Room.  The Rainbow Room has been one of the most important restaurant venues in Manhattan since 1934 and is world famous.  I have seen the views of New York City from the WTC Towers (in 1997) and from the Empire State Building (in 1994) but this was my first time going above the NBC Studios in the GE Building.  So I have now seen the three most famous Manhattan views which is pretty cool.

I was very excited about the event at the Rainbow Room tonight.  It isn’t every day that technologist get invited to events of this order.  It happens, of course, but being from Upstate New York we don’t even have venues like this so my experience with it is rather limited.

The view from the Rainbow Room was really amazing.  They had an open bar for us when we first arrived and a nice area which basically functioned as a bar/observation deck to use for socializing and meeting up with people.

From there we went into a nice conference room where some really top people including executives from Hewlett-Packard and Intel spoke as well as Diane Greene, CEO of VMWare and eWeeks’ #20 Most Influential Person in IT for 2008.

After the conference portion we headed out into another large space where an amazing, grazing dinner was provided for us as well as several more open bars.  The food was completely outstanding.  Cipriani, famous Venetian restauranteurs who also operate down on Wall Street, “catered” the event (they run the Rainbow Room restaurant as well) and it is clear why they were chosen for this task.  All of the food, as well as the service, was excellent.  The smoked salmon was especially good.

During dinner we were provided an amazing show by the extremely famous performance artist / painter Jean Francois who was flown in just for us.  Jean Francois has been very well known for his live painting work which is truly amazing.  He did two murals for us while we were there (one of John Lennon and one of The Beatles) and it was really something to watch.  Everyone was really amazed.  I got to shake his hand and talk to him for a minute afterward as well.

After the show it was food and drinks for the rest of the evening, until a bit after ten, with IT people mingling throughout the night.  I met some really cool guys from a financial firm in midtown and we hung out most of the night.

After the party was over, one of the guys and I hit the actual Rainbow Room bar for one last drink before heading out into the cold night.  Overall the party with HP, Intel and VMWare was amazingly impressive and a lot of fun.  Originally several people from my office were going to go but with the bad weather and the venue being in NYC and not in New Jersey everyone who was going to go decided against it leaving me there alone.  But it worked out pretty well and I had fun anyway.

It was just a few minutes after midnight when I stepped out of 30 Rock onto the courtyard of Rockefeller Center.  The subway stop that I had used to come uptown was now closed leaving me to fend for myself to find my way back home.  I wasn’t about to pay for a cab ride so I started walking south hoping to run into a subway station.

I had to walk for several blocks before I found anything.  I stopped at some all night pizza joint and grabbed a very tasty slice on NY style pizza.  I finally found a train around one or maybe a little later.  I didn’t know the train schedules or availability up at Penn Station in midtown so I took the subway all the way back down to the World Trade Center even though it was probably going to take longer to get home just to avoid extra travel risk.  The stop that I needed was, as we already learned, closed so I had to get off a bit north of the WTC and walk a bit farther.

At this time of night the trains run pretty infrequently so I got stuck sitting at the WTC Train Station for quite some time before the PATH train arrived to take us back to Newark.  The train ride itself was extra long too as we had to wait at a few stations for other trains to meet us.

It was well after two thirty in the morning when I finally made it back to Eleven80.  Dominica had woken up and wondered where I was and called my cell phone while I was still in the lobby.  It was about three when I finally got into bed.  No catching up on sleep tonight.  A little more homework to do tomorrow but then my schedule relaxes a bit.

I am working from home tomorrow and going onto Wall Street on Thursday which is the first Thursday in the office in as long as I can remember.  On Friday I am heading out to Warren by train (NJ Transit) and Dominica is picking me up from there so that we can drive directly up to dad’s place to spend the long weekend up there.

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