services 05.3.05

Home Exchange

So let's say you've followed the advice of travel experts and started cashing in your frequent flyer miles. Five nights in London sound good? Sure, until you come face to face with the exchange rate.

Unless you can score a discount on one of the hotel booking sites, the cheapest room at, say, Hazlitt's is £205 pounds a night, or $389. Those five nights will cost you about $2000. The Royal Lancaster? £247 pounds a night, or over $2300 for the week. Even a standard double at the Comfort Inn in Notting Hall, unprepossessing as it is, is $210 or so a night.

You can give your wallet a serious break by using a home exchange service. You give up the front desk and new towels every day, but you can spend those nights in a place like the one pictured. You'll have fewer trepidations when you browse what's out there, who's doing it, and the feedback from people who have used these services. Obviously, there's no guarantee you'll be happy with the home you choose or that your own home will be in the condition you expect when you return. But complaints are relatively few for this kind of deal.

That's because you get a plenty of info about your prospective partners in swap travel on the websites of the various companies, and on their house or apartment, including photos of the exterior, interior, what amenities are included, and information about the area. Some even include the use of the car.

HomeLink International is the oldest company, founded in 1952, and has over 11,000 listings worldwide. Yearly membership is $75. HomeExchange, founded in 1992, has over 6,000 listings and costs $49.95. InterVac, founded in 1953, has over 10,000 members and costs $68.88 for a year.
5 List: Bad Behavior
Russell Harding
NYPL board
Thomas Parisi [via Curbed]
Kevin Rampe
Michael Wolff

A 9/11 Family Member Responds
Nicolai Ouroussoff's article doesn't get into how, as the memorial is being minimalized, the 9/11 families are being marginalized. A very large number of us never got any part of our loved one's body back, myself included. Most of us have no grave at which to remember and grieve for our loved one. We, especially, are counting on this memorial to be a place where we can go to pay tribute to our loved one, and where the memory of those killed in the largest mass murder in U.S. history, or, if you prefer, the first mass casualty of the first war against a state-less enemy, will be properly placed in the public's consciousness.

The families, represented by a small dedicated group of us (myself included) have been allowed window-dressing input to the process. Yes, there is a Family Advisory Council to the LMDC on which we sit. And it's not that we aren't given briefings or they don't ask our opinion. But the briefings are usually after-the-fact, and the input is on selected topics which LMDC chooses and which don't address the larger issues. The family member representatives do not have any real input during the planning process; we always have to fight for crumbs of change after everything has been set. It's not like we're asking for total control, but when the Memorial Mission Statement and the Memorial Program, as specified on the LMDC website is not being adhered to in a significant fashion, we have a problem.

The WTC site is sacred ground in a crowded busy urban environment. But the environment which is being planned around the Memorial will eliminate any feeling of sacredness or reverence. Vehicular traffic on Greenwich and Fulton Streets, pedestrian walkways being revised into streets, bringing additional traffic onto Greenwich St.; inappropriate cultural activity planned for the Cultural Museum Complex, which will be 25 feet away from the Memorial and a 150 ft. tall; these are the things that we have absolutely no say about, yet they have a negative impact on the Memorial and the quadrant it is on, which is all we are asking to help guide.

But the most personal thing is the arrangement of the names in the Memorial. Mr. Arad initially specified a random listing, which seems to be at least partially acceptable for the families of those who didn't work in the Towers, but for those of us whose loved one worked in the Towers, it is unacceptable. For a year, a small group of us worked to hammer out an agreement between the uniformed service families and the non-uniformed service families for the display of names. This was hard, earnest work. But is the LMDC giving any credibility to our proposal? No. They say, "we'll study it." Meanwhile, plans continue moving forward that threaten to render our proposal impotent. The families deserve their say in matters that are essential to them.

Charles G. Wolf
Husband of Katherine Wolf, 97th Floor, Tower 1
Greenwich Village, New York

fifth avenue manhattan

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