March 1st, 2013
While housesitting for friends in Troy, New York, I came across a fascinating new-ish building on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. From the side, it looked like a wooden ship hull suspended inside a huge glass box on a Cornell-like slope.
Once inside, you can see fun details, like these walkways heading into the wooden bubble at different levels.
Inside the wooden part, there’s a large, pristine performance space that’s supposed to have amazing acoustics.
Speaking of sounds, throughout the building I could hear a mysterious and seemingly random melody. Upstairs, I discovered the source: an art exhibit that consisted of bowls floating in circular pools of water, clinking against each other in the most perfect way.
It turns out it’s the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), and it opened in 2008. The whole building is specially designed to have innovative acoustic features. Seems like RPI would be a very cool place to study music and sound technology.
January 28th, 2011
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and boy, do I have a fun craft project for you! If you have some old maps, travel brochures, foreign language magazines, and things like that lying around from past adventures—and you don’t mind cutting them up for the sake of love—read on.
I used two different sets of instructions to make the flowers. This one from How About Orange is a little more involved and elegant, while this one by maya*made is cute and quick.
I stuck the flowers in glass bottles collected from various countries to go along with the theme. Besides gifts and surprises, these could make great centerpieces or permanent decorations in a home or office. I could even see them adorning the front desk of a quirky little backpackers’ hostel.
Basically anything you save from your travels—subway and bus passes, newspapers, programs from performances, bottle caps, the photos you take—can turn into crafty gifts, if you have the time. I’m envisioning magnets, mobiles, picture frames, ornaments…. Any other ideas?
November 26th, 2010
I lived in Massachusetts for 20 years and never knew the beauty of the Berkshires until I went on a travel writing assignment for Trazzler this past week. It had never occurred to me to visit the area before, but I loved it. Here’s why.
Spirit of cooperation. There is a dearth of chain stores and a plethora of small, independent businesses. Almost everywhere I went I noticed that the small businesses—inns, shops, restaurants, farms, galleries—actively promoted each other and sold local products. It’s a sustainable, friendly model that I would be glad to support as a tourist or resident.
Seasonal, local food. An innkeeper told me that the farm-to-table dining movement originated in the Berkshires. And beyond restaurants, there are plenty of opportunities to visit farms and see directly where your food comes from.
Outdoor activities. Hiking trails, scenic views, and natural wonders abound.
Olivia's Overlook. Photo by Joanna Eng.
Creative culture. My trip was filled with an eclectic mix of galleries, museums, public art, and live music. Even when I wasn’t looking for art, I found it everywhere, including town recycling bins.
Brain food. At every stop, there was something to learn: how my beer was brewed, why this area of woods has fewer trees, the political history behind the song they’re about to sing, the origin of the marble in that fireplace.
November 18th, 2010
There are millions of things to do in New York, even in the cold weather. If you want to save jet fuel and money this winter, but you still hate the biting wind and dirty slush, here are some ideas:
1. Check out a museum that you’ve never been to. In New York, that shouldn’t be hard. You probably haven’t been to the Skyscraper Museum, the Ukrainian Museum, the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the Museum of Chinese in America, the City Reliquary, and the New York Transit Museum. Am I right?
2. Peruse an indoor market. Want to feel like you’re at an open-air market, minus the numb fingers? Head to the Brooklyn Flea (indoors on Sundays), Astoria Market, GreenFlea (has an indoor space), Limelight Marketplace, Essex Street Market, or Chelsea Market. Or catch one of the seasonal craft fairs like the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade, Bust Magazine Craftacular, Brooklyn Friends School’s Winter Festival, Eat Pie & Shop, or 3rd Ward Handmade Holiday Craft Fair.
3. Get your fill of warm beverages. Scour the city for hot chocolate, apple cider, mulled wine, and soup. Don’t miss the annual Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery, where there’s a different flavor every day for a whole month!
Photo by thegourmetro
4. Don’t even leave your apartment. OK, you might have to leave your apartment just once, for a big run to the library and the grocery store. Stock up on all those books you’ve been meaning to read and all the ingredients for those complex dishes you never had the time or patience for before. (Or if you’re like me, you can just invite your brother to stay with you for a few days so he can make you delicious things like pumpkin ravioli.) For seasonal recipes from local bloggers, see Not Eating Out in New York, Sustainable Pantry, and Big Girls Small Kitchen.
5. Get active. Maybe you actually don’t want to sit around all day, every day, and you’re up for a little adventure. Try an indoor rock climbing gym like Brooklyn Boulders, an indoor ice skating rink like City Ice Pavilion, or indoor batting cages at The Baseball Center.
Any other suggestions?