10th June 2004


Greenwich Village is in the older part of Manhattan, and the streets are not built orthogonally with streets above 14th street to the north. When driving through Greenwich Village it is easy to get turned around and lose your way, especially if the day is overcast.  Greenwich Village is nominally that part of Manhattan that is south of 14th street, above West Houseton St, and west of Broadway.   It probably gets its name from Greenwich St. which connects the junction of 12th St and 9th Ave to Battery Park at the bottom of Manhattan.  To the East of Broadway is the "Village" which includes Lafayette and Bowery, which are continuations of 4th Avenue.  Washington Square Park is also located in the SE of Greenwich Village, and Union Square Park is on the NE corner.

The Village (East Village around Tompkins Square & Greenwich Village) is the jazz and entertainment centre for New York.  In my guide book of the "top 100" nightlife spots in NY, 43 are in the Village region between 14th street and West Houseton.

One of the more interesting streets of Greenwich Village is Bleecker St, which wends its way west from the Bowery, (about where the CGBG club is) crosses Broadway and a few other named streets, turns NW at 6th Avenue, and stops at 8th Avenue.  Most of Bleecker Street is coffee shops, nightclubs, theatres, bookshops, things and stuff that can consume one's leisure time (and money) at a frightening pace.  Today (Sunday) a lot of Bleecker St. was closed off, and stallholders had set up an open air market.  .

South of Greenwich Village is Canal St.  Canal St. has a market with thousands of Hawkers operating out of suitcases.  I saw a girl selling DVD's for $5 each, and happened to notice that one of the titles was "Shrek 2".  I saw that film a few days ago, it was only released about a week ago.  Other things being sold out of suitcases were watches.


Daughter No. 2 joins everything.  One of her memberships produced an invitation to a startup event for, (which is the website for a government sponsored network of Australian professionals in the USA) at the Australian embassy in E 42 St. NYC.  I went.

There were about 50 attendees, composed of various government officials, a mix of Australian Professionals and myself.  The guest speaker was NSW premier Bob Carr. He spoke in glowing terms of the large number of Australian professionals that were expatriate (about one million) and told how he had heard that they had a reputation for being hard, innovative workers (well you wouldn't expect anyone who was a hard, innovative worker to stay in Australia, would you?  Last time I looked they had punitive taxes on the high earners, and a unionized social structure that punished initiative).

He spoke enthusiastically of the US economic miracle, and reported that Australia was partaking of that miracle, with something like a 28% growth in the last 7 years, although (snidely) NSW grew by 34%.  (I guess all the hard workers didn't leave Australia - there are a few farmer cockies who, together with the miners of our abundant mineral mineral (especially energy) wealth and our educators are producing exports of the food and raw materials and education that the world demands, in return for which we import sweatshop produced clothing, machinery, electronics and the like(All of which I heartily agree with, except I believe that the farmers are not obtaining appropriate rewards).  About the only work the rest of the Australian population does is provide the unexportable labour component that supplies the infrastructure for delivering and maintaining those imports and exports.) 

After Mr Carr had spoken refreshments were provided.  I met someone who was in the music recording industry, and commisserated with him that the industry seemed to have no future, mentioning the pirated videos I had seen in Canal St.  (see, a proposition with which he ruefully agreed.

Another person was a young lady who advised that she was on the staff of one of the larger NY hospitals.  On learning that I was an engineer, she mentioned that she had taught engineers at John Hopkins.  (I have only ever heard about the Medical faculty at JH, but was prepared to agree that they might have had a competent faculty of engineering).  Her speciality was developing a set of standards for ambulance crashworthiness.

Another young lady at the function was an actress who had acted in a couple of "off-broadway plays".  I also met a young man who was an investment banker (gained an MBA on an engineering degree.)  He called out to Bob Carr who was passing.  Mr. Carr (not unexpectedly) failed to recall our earlier meeting.


When I came to the USA I decided to travel with an unplanned itinery. I wanted a (secondhand) car that could, at a pinch, serve as accommodation.  I also wanted a way to access information and communicate with my family.

So I setted on a wireless (also called wifi) broadband internet connection, with the intent of using it to find accommodation, food and anything else.  Starbucks has an agreement with the phone company T-Mobile.   Starbux provides seating space and power outlets for wifi hotspot customers.  T-Mobile provides the wifi internet connection, for which it charges US$30/month for a one year contract, or US$40/month for a "by the month" deal.  There is also a "pay as you go" deal for around $5/hour.  T-Mobile has similar agreements with Border's bookshops (Borders has several stores in most US cities, and coffee is available in most) and with Kinko's, which provides office services to the traveller.  I believe that those three corporations are showing considerable insight into the way that the leisure market is developing, although I could sympathize with hardened corporate cynics (like Gerry Harvey) who would probably only see a lot of antisocial nerds pounding keyboards and not using enough expensive consumables.

In Australia we call 256kb/s "broadband".    Broadband in USA is measured in Mb/sec.  It will support VOIP (which 256k will, i understand, only support with difficulty).  I suppose that it is not surprising that our internet duopoly (Telstra & Optus) are not in a hurry to introduce US style broadband.  After all, they would be slitting their own throats.

With one exception, Starbux with wifi  is just about everywhere in the USA that I want to go.  (It was not in Key West.)  It seems also to be in London, and Sydney has more than half (25) of the wifi hotspots in Australia (47).  Economists have developed the "big Mac" index to measure what exchange rates should be.  I propose the "starbux wifi" index to be a measure of how internet savvy a country or city is.  Just count the starbux wifi in a region, (borders stores are too few to count, and Kinkos are not leisure friendly enough) and divide by the population in hundreds of thousands of the region.

For Instance.  LA (about 200 stores for about 3.7 million people), index=540, SF (57 stores, 750,000) people, index=760, Chicago (about 150 stores for 2.8 million people) index=535, Washington (about 60 stores shared among around 500,000 people) index=1,200, and NY (about 100 stores in Manhattan for 1.5 million) index=670, would come out near the top.  Of course Washington is a bit unfair, because the population of DC is commuter.  That could also be said to a lesser extent for NY and SF.  LA presented a problem, what are the city limits?    Canada with 406 stores for 30 million people has a score of 135.  The UK with 366 for 60 million (index = 61) is not even batting.  Australia with 47 stores for 20 million (index=24) trails even the UK badly, Sydney with 25 wifi stores for 4.5 million (index=56) is by far the best in Australia, but is not quite as good as the UK average.  France scores zero, Germany scores 6, Japan with 540 stores for 100 million people would have a score of 54.  I have compiled those numbers into a table.

Aus Cal
Can Chicago Fr Germny Japan LA
Syd SF
6332 60
226 1,200

The data confirms California as having the highest starbux-wifi index in the union, not surprising in the state (and city) which gave us Fairchild.

I realize that counting only Starbux, an English speaking franchise, might be culturally unfair to (for instance) the French, but the franchise-concept of wifi with coffee should exist worldwide, with some sort of agreement whereby the account travells across international boundaries.  So there is that caveat.

Another caveat is, I do not know how to locate accounts other than Starbux/Wifi.  Other accounts do exist (e.g. in San Diego, LA, SF) I found other Latte-WiFi outlets.