Thursday, January 18, 2007

Geneva - Hyper-Educated city

Despite the disastrous start of our Geneva trip, our 4 day family trip to Geneva has proved to be one of our favorites. With only a small city to explore and no snow for skiing to occupy our time, we took a relaxed pace, but managed to amply fill our days. Geneva is perhaps the city in the world with the highest education level, (due to all the international organizations that headquarter there), and it shows. We attended 7 varied and eclectic museums, and despite my hesitation at traditional French food, ate well indeed. From ale relais d'entrecote, a traditional steak house that had only one thing on the menu, to Cafe Raphael, modern international fusion cuisine, to At my Cousin's house, we eat Chicken, a hip homey place with also just one thing on the menu, to of course Fondue, in l'Hotel de Ville, a homey, nordic-decorated (think Ikea) restaurant in the medieval town of Gruyere where hard cheese was invented.

But the museums demonstrated well the character of the place. From a museum on ethnography (basically a museum that highlights cultural anthropology), to a museum of archeology (beneath St Peter's cathedral, where 2000 years of architecture have been unearthed, and the art and excitement of the archaeologist's craft is conveyed), to the red cross museum (with a display on genocide in Cambodia), to a museum of food (in nearby Vevey , where they had a children's book that had a post-modern Derrida inspired deconstruction of a soup bowl for kids). As for art, the old stuff was not especially impressive, and the new stuff tried too hard. Though a ballet we saw there struck the right balance. Housed in a beautifully restored warehouse right on the river (which led to trouble because we first went to the Grand Theater, the normal home of the ballet company), they performed a 19th century ballet, Coppelia, but using modern avant garde setting, including a reality tv show, and a video backdrop that highlighted the surreal vaguely-amateurish cinematography common to contemporary art.

Oh, and for the boy in me, the nearby Castle Chaillon is the coolest medieval castle I've visited.

Memories of the kids in George RR Martin books, growing up in castles, sword fighting...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Shenandoah - A riot of color

- See the lake?
Ah, the money shot. The most perfect rainbow ever. Could see the whole thing, arcing over the sky carrying Iris into a field of multi-hued foliage, from easy greens, to candy oranges, to fiery reds.

Went to Shenandoah with R- last weekend for a quick day trip. Saw the foliage, did a couple hikes, explored the caverns, did a maze, tried to get to a winery, and had fabulous Vietnamese food at Huong Que. Quite different from the last time I visited.

Funny, grew up in the Northeast amidst the changing fall colors every year, never noticed their stunning beauty until after going away for a few years and coming back. Plus the influence of R- of course.

Though maybe it started at MIT, lying on a park bench on the T of Killian Court, admiring the way the light shined through the leaves, colors intersecting, like a collage of tissue paper, a mondrian painting or a pollack (To borrow a very appropose metaphor from R-).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Happy trails in Tucson

Originally uploaded by benho.
Happy trails in Tucson (which I always always spell wrong). Conference was fun, exhilerating, exciting, reminded me again why I love my job, came in 4th in the poker tournament. My talk (as expected) was sparsely attended and my lack of practice showed, overly fast, and not polished, no great crowd response but lots of good individual positive feedback after, but went well. I discussed well too I think.

But the hike is the subject of this post. So I skipped out early from the last session, grabbed my camera and set off alone into the desert. Under the beating sun, the imposing alien cactus, weird half naked backpackers but mostly alone, and once I got into it, surrounded at every step with a myriad of life which I'm normally way too obtuse to notice (I bet it's the jigsaw puzzles, elevated my powers of observation; or R-'s influence), but lots of butterflies of different colors, beatles, funcitoning crazy koyanisqatsi style ant colonies, birds, lizards, various metallic crickets/grasshoppers, a frog maybe. Cacti that would embed their hidden prickers into my skin (that was less fun). Beautiful vistas. Reminders of Dark Sun. Getting lost and moments of adrenaline filled panic. Capturing the perfect shot. Envelopped and alone in nature.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Road Trip 2006

For once, I will let someone else speak for me. For my return to the east coast, my cousin Esther accompanied back on the open road. She described my thoughts well, read about our trip in the
Rockefeller newsletter that she designs. (Click photos for more...)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fun with Photoshop

A series of photos from Cappadocia, Turkey that led to a nice unplanned photo montage. The most amazing part of this image, is that less than 30% is real (see the original photo to compare), the rest was fabricated in photoshop, by completely untrained me, from the grass to most of the rocks to the snowy background. The first time I ever created reality in a photo. Nifty and a bit scary how easy it was.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Photos from the American Southwest

I have started to use to share and store my photos and have been re-uploading my photo collection in a more easily accessible format. I will post photos here as I upload them (click on photos for more)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Food photos 8: Perfect meals

One of my favorite meals:
lamb shoulder on the bone, dry marinated with s+p, parsley, rosemary, garlic powder, broiled to medium rare with roast vegetables (eggplant, zucchni, onions with red peppers, kosher salt, olive oil) and stuffing, rock hard 3 day old french baguette, baked lightly with olive oil, added to onions sauteed in olive oil and garlic cloves, s+p, with fresh chopped cilantro. and chicken stock. stuffing absorbed lamb juices, and then baked to crusty finish.

Fresh beefsteak hothouse tomato, with fresh parsley, seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil, kosher salt.

Close up of the stuffing.

Another nice meal:
Fried chicken thigh with kosher salt, paprika, cumin, corn starch, egg white, panko bread crumbs, bit of lemon, fried in olive oil. Turmeric rice (raisins, garlic powder, salt, pepper, turmeric, beef stock). Wilted spinach and mushrooms.

Pan roasted cashews, dusted with kosher salt, black pepper, chili
powder, topped with a squeeze of lime juice.

Thanksgiving (amazing meal!) pictures soon to come!