warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
Was in NYC week before last. Haven't had time to write about it. 'till now. Family: One of Nom's cousins on her mother's side got married. Big family on that side, cousins in Montreal, NYC, Maryland, California, Texas, and even Paris (France, not Texas). Every 2-3 years someone gets married and they have a family reunion at the same time. I think if no one has plans to get married after 3 years, they hold a lottery and draft someone to have nuptials as an excuse to have a reunion. Maybe not, but still it is a nice touch to have reunions. I usually sit at the table with all the other white guys who married into the family; they're both quite nice. We used it as a reason to have a mini-vacation and so I could see my sister and friends. With two small ones, and the in-laws, driving wasn't practical, so flew, and rented a van once down there. Surprisingly no problems with flights, the only travel kerfuffle was the traffic getting out to Long Island (suburban to NYC, where both the wedding and the reunion were held, 1-hour-ish away). I expect bad traffic in NYC, but it was weird, practically at a stand-still up to a certain point, for no obvious reason: no construction at that point, no accidents, just crawling along, then suddenly moving.

Wednesday )

Thursday )

Friday )

Saturday )

Sunday/Monday )

Random Thoughts/Comments )
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
As mentioned, recently got back from a trip to NYC. I officially went for the AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) summer session. It's much smaller (low 1000's as opposed to 10000+ attendees) than the annual (winter) session. I prefer it. The winter session is too big, too chaotic, and really, they fill it out by the same or similar courses being given multiple times throughout the week. The summer session has many fewer courses, but just as many as I actually want to go to. After doing Dermatology for this long, if I get 1-2 tips out of each session, then it's a success for me. Now that I'm back, I'm doing what I always promised myself I'd do after a conference (and have rarely done), namely review the notes. In modern life, most of the lecturers post their handouts on-line. I've downloaded them, and am systematically going thru them and integrating into my learning program. (I have app called Anki, sort of digital flashcards, that I've found has really improved my learning, even at this late stage in my career.)

Had wanted to go down to NYC earlier, when [personal profile] ravensron  was visiting, but as mentioned, the MIL was ill for months (all better now, thanks), and I was neither going to go alone (I've become a total homebody, in case that wasn't obvious by now), nor were Nom & I going to wrangle 2 tiny ones down to, and around, NYC w/o backup. In the end, 6 people across 3 generations went. With all the spending on renovations and such, had enough travel miles for almost everyone (Wallstreet is a lap child, so almost no cost, and I paid for my ticket but is tax-deductible.)

We've taken to getting to the airport well-early (like 2+ hours before), and with 6 people holding 5 seats on 3 different bookings, I don't even pretend to use their silly kiosks, I go straight to the "I need help" counter regardless of their regulations. Oddly enough, the kids, fussy as they are, are fine on airplanes. They're practically seasoned travelers at this point. In fact, we were essentially free of travel-kerfuffles as such. The only real negatives was the MIL was just recovering from a cold, and Hedgefund seemed to have caught it, and the kids were a little feeling "why am I not at home," so everyone was restless and didn't sleep well. Had fun, but a fair amount of illness and tiredness, with commensurate lack of energy.

Got into the hotel (stayed at the conference hotel in midtown) too late to do anything except bed down. Each morning I got up early, went to the conference while everyone else breakfasted and relaxed and strolled around, then I joined them for lunch.

It was Restaurant Week in NYC, and we'd booked some good lunches, but didn't always follow through in the end. For good restaurants, we ate at Capital Grill and Ruth's Chris. Both are chains (steakhouses as it happens), but high end chains, and their NY outlets are especially lovely and very good food. Although the in-laws don't always have the most elevated tastes, they do appreciate when we take them some place with standard food done very well, and with lovely decore. At their age, after all they've been thru in life, I'm glad they are getting some enjoyment.

Did a few "NY things" of course. However, for the kids, the highlight was WWC bringing two kittens up to the hotel room for them to play with. HF always liked cats (since WWC introduced her to same), but she especially loved kittens, what with their being tiny. She use to be afraid of animals, especially dogs, but after enough times of my telling her, "we eat dogs, yum, yum, yum," now she usually just gives me a knowing smile when she sees a dog. It unsettles people when they hear me tell her that, but it worked, she's not scared anymore. WS has gotten a bit afraid of animals, he's so tiny yet, and also not verbally-oriented enough yet to understand about eating dogs, but I'll work on him.

Was hoping to get together with more friends and family, but didn't work out, except for one of my Army buddies who joined us for dinner, and then he & I had some drinks afterwards. Everyone else either couldn't make it, or just didn't respond when I emailed.

Have to see one show in NY. Ended up at an off-broadway piece called The Marvelous Wonderettes. Described to us as "campy fun." It was neither. It's basically a thin story of 4 girls who have formed a local singing group, woven around a review of 1950's and 1960's songs. The 1st act is their performing at their HS graduation, and the 2nd is their performing at the 10 year reunion. They were trying to be to 1950/60's pop music what Mama Mia was to Abba, but failed miserably.

For museums, went to NY Historical Society. They had several exhibits WWC & I wanted to see:
     The first was about WWI. They had historical reenactors in WWI uniforms in the lobby. It was a good exhibit. A bit grim (hard to be otherwise about WWI) and a bit preachy/politically correct at times, but worth seeing.
     There was a really nice exhibit of Tiffany lamps. They were from a private collection, someone who'd started collecting them when they first stopped being stylish (1920's) and amassed over 200. I love Tiffany's works, but I've seen so many of them by now that's it less striking to me.
     Eloise at the Plaza was featured. I hadn't realized that it had started as a comic cabaret act, and the book came later. Brief but enjoyable.
     The last exhibit was one WWC really wanted to see, called Saving Washington. It was supposed to be about the contributions of women to the US Revolutionary War and the early days of the Republic, but actually rather thin except for the parts about Dolly Madison. (Wife of 4th President James Madison, the first person to make "First Lady" a notable position, and the ultimate Hostess-who-advanced-and-agenda.)
     Overall, NYHS was worth the visit, but not as fullfilling as hoped for.

Last touristy thing we did was the Circle Line Cruise. It's a cruise/tour boat that circles Manhattan Island, while giving a commentary on what you are seeing. I'd always wanted to do it, but never had. WWC had done that in 4th grade, which is a good age to do it, or if you're from out-of-town. It's ideal then, before you've seen all the sites 100's of times and know them better than the tour guides. The bambini were too young to enjoy it, and not sure how the in-laws reacted. I'm glad I finally got to do it, even if not OMG-exciting.

That last sentence seems to sum up this trip from a vacation point-of-view. (Great from a medical conference POV.) We're glad we did it. Everyone had a good time (except for the sick and tired parts) and saw/did some new things. Not awe-inspiriing, but worth doing.
warriorsavant: (Computer-steampunk)
There was an exhibit of her life at the Pointe À Callière Museum here. The connection is that PAC is an archeological museum (the site is at or near the first European settlement in Montreal), and Dame Agatha was involved in archeology for most of her adult life. Yes, Agatha Christie, the mystery writer, possibly the best-selling author ever (over 2 billion copies of her books sold) was involved in archeology.

Brilliantly written (but not to her level) commentary. )
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
As in interesting companion to my MBAM visit of last week (http://warriorsavant.livejournal.com/506792.html ), went to an exhibit of WWI propaganda posters at the NY Public Library this weekend. Over Here: WWI and the Fight for the American Mind was limited to American examples, but was more than just posters, it looked at how all manner of propaganda and mass media were used to shape and control public opinion about the war. It also looked at issues that have relevance today, including freedom of speech, xenophobia, and domestic espionage. I found it interesting that early in the War, the American public was either Pro-British/Allies or Pro-Neutrality, with very little Pro-German/Central Powers. From my modern, historical perspective, the Pro-Neutrality made more sense - the "Great War," was the dying clash of 19th century empires, and none of our business. A mix of German heavy-handedness, and British diplomatic cleverness swayed American public opinion.

Oh, I seem to have started my story in the middle. Skipping over several travel kerfuffles, I'm in NYC with Nom. Have some business to attend to. We are here without Hedgefund, which is making both of us sad. Plus we're very busy. Plus we're both a bit sick. On the other hand, we're getting in some quality NYC time, however rushed. Hedgefund is being taken care of by ông ngoai and bà ngoai, who are no doubt very happy and very exhausted right now. Hedgefund is probably partying wildly, as they are giving into to her every whim, and likely pandering to her fondness for scotch and cigars. (We limit her to one a day of each, but you know how indulgent grandparents are.)

The highlight of the trip was, of course, seeing family. Dad is doing quite well. Didn't score so well at meeting up with friends. [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67 was hors de combat (or rather hors de societé) with a bad back, and another friend was in a car accident (not serious, and did get to see him for a little bit the next day).

The other highlight was Le Bernardin, a seafood only restaurant, rated best restaurant in NYC 8 years in a row by Zagat, and a recipient of 3 Michelin Stars. Since we believe in "cheap chic," not to mention sound finances, we went for lunch. Yes, it was worth all three of those Michelin Stars. Holy taste buds, Batman, it was probably the best meal we've ever eaten (the competition for that honor being from another Michelin 3-Star, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London).

Theater. To a purist, matinées are evil and bourgeois. Tough, we went to one. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder felt like a revival of an older style musical comedy murder mystery (how many genres can you fit into one piece?), but is actually a modern show. It's a bit slapstick in parts, but very clever, and very well done. We enjoyed it.

The other bit of cultural elitism was going to the Rubin Museum of Art, which I had never heard of. Yes, even we native-New Yorkers haven't heard of every last museum in that glorious city. Small by NYC standards, but well done. Found it almost by accident, looking for things to do in a certain neighborhood, and there it was. It specializes in paintings, statues, textiles & more from Tibet, Bhutan & other Asian lands, with some emphasis on Buddhist works. The exhibit that most intrigued me was The All Knowing Buddha, which is a series of 54 paintings that are a guide to a specific type of knowledge meditation. The true understanding would only be imparted by a master to a high level student, and it was unusual to even have had paintings outlining the process. Another exhibit we enjoyed was photographs by Marc Riboud of his journeys across Asia in the 1950s.

Hit all the highlights in one short visit: family, friends (although just barely), theater, museums, and restaurants. Back to reality tomorrow, but at least it's a reality with a tiny hellion fussing, pulling my hair, fussing, and otherwise totally entrancing me.
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Ten years ago, I was the first Commander of a reserve medical Group. This past weekend, they had a Dining Out, which is a formal military dinner, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the standing up of the Group. A dining out is in dress uniform, with a certain amount of ceremony, then dinner and speeches (brief!), and since we're a classy bunch, dancing afterwards (that part isn't standard, but as I said, we're a classy bunch). They also had the ceremony for the change of Commander and 1SG (First Sergeant) of the headquarters company*.

I was invited as the inaugural Group Commander, along with my Command Sergeant Major (CSM). For those not familiar with the military, the Cdr & CSM are considered the Command Team, with the CSM being the senior enlisted advisor and right-hand of the Commander. My CSM from that era has been mentioned in this blog over the years either as CSM (when we were serving together) or Pipe-Major (after he'd retired). When I was still in the reserves, it was convenient for me that this (my second-to-last) Command, and my last Command, were both in NYC, so I could have a tax-deductible way to visit my family. Since CSM was also from out-of-town, my family followed our custom of adopting strays and adopted him. We'd usually go out with my family on the Friday night, then on the Saturday would go out with the Army people. He was an excellent CSM, and a fine person, and I'm proud to know him.

It was a fast trip down to NYC: visited family, attended the ceremony, then drove back to Montreal with CSM/Pipe-Major (more on that later). Was a rather rushed visit, but had a great time. Only two negatives were that I ate too much, and that I missed the munchkin. This was the first time I’ve been away from her (& my wife). I mean 2 whole days! I went into withdrawal; I’ve turned into a complete homebody.

Friday - NYC )

Saturday - NYC & Dining Out )

Sunday & Monday - Montreal )

I'm tired today, and a bit bloated as ate too much and too richly the past several days, but it was well worth it. Got together with Pipe-Major, saw my family, and reconnected with my Army background. I don't miss it (much), but I'm very proud of my service, and it's a big part of who I am.
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
Met up with WWC & CS (part of WWC entourage) for lunch at Café Green, a place local to her: quiche, salads, sandwiches. Food was okay, but the service was poor. Were going to head straight up to the museum, but “someone” needed to be changed, so we stopped back at Cat Haven to do so. After that, took the bus uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Their feature exhibit was Assyria to Iberia about art in the Middle East and Mediterranean basin during the first millennium BC. Of course we connected up with [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67 for this; he actually hadn’t seen it yet (you might recall his post in which he was going to do so, but got side tracked wandering thru some other exhibits). It was, in a word, fabulous. The Met is a first rate museum, and this was a first rate exhibit even by their standards. Interesting that the somber bas-reliefs were in fact, originally brightly colored.* The exhibit pulled artwork and artifacts from over a dozen cultures, spanning a thousand miles of real estate and a thousand years of history.

After that, headed back downtown. Were supposed to stop back at Cat Haven to rest, but there was traffic (ugh) and didn’t have time, so straight the resto where we were meeting other friends of mine, Love Café, a Ukrainian place. It’s small, local, and very good. I hope they do well. Nom and I shared an order of mixed types of pierogi (larger, triangular dumplings**), an order of pelmeni (smaller, round dumplings), and a vasylyna salad (Romaine, chicken, apples, cheddar, sunflower seeds, and raisins). En route ran into a friend of WWC’s, so we ended up with 8 adults, many of whom had never met each other, but ended up getting along really well (and this is on top of [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67 who is worth 6 of most people to talk to). Good for the next trip down; I'm close to having more people to hang with in NYC than MTL.

Spent some more time at Cat Haven, where Hedgefund and Dad really hit it off. She’s of an age where she doesn’t like people she doesn’t know really, really well, but somehow they clicked.

*Even the winged, eagle-headed man-demon was so colored. [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67 still insisted that it was carrying a man-purse, but not sure what was in it’s other hand. I insisted it was a bucket of water, with a sponge in the other hand. It had been a bad, winged, eagle-headed man-demon, and was put to work scrubbing the walls. Non-colored picture of it under the cut. You decide.

winged, eagle-headed man-demon picture )
**I”ve seen them called varnyky in other Ukrainian restaurants, but pierogi seems to be the generic term in English for these dumplings whatever East European country the come from, and that is what they were called on Love Café’s menu.
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)

[livejournal.com profile] ravensron came into NYC this past weekend. It’s so rare that the three of us get together that I didn’t want to miss the chance. Nom isn’t up for traveling these days, but she appreciates the importance of family (and probably enjoyed one of her last weekends of solitude ever) so gave me a hall passpacked me off with a kiss. Since it was the beginning of the Christmas break, [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67 and the other usual suspects weren’t around, so was pure family trip for me, as well as a tropical vacation: snow up one’s armpits in Montreal, shirtsleeve weather in NYC. (Well, shirtsleeve for me, [livejournal.com profile] ravensron being in from LV was cold.)

Adventures of urban daring-do )


Nov. 29th, 2013 06:30 pm
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
Just some quick highlights.

Staying at Waldorf-Astoria. Was on Expedia for same price as an ordinary hotel, but it's the fabled Waldorf. Room large and luxurious.

Was supposed to get together with [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67, but he hurt his back. I'll let him tell that story. WWC is at work, so looked in on Dad, then finally introduced C to a bit of NYC. She's staying with WWC, helping with Dad. Smart but shy, and really hasn't been out to see NYC. We went up to Grand Central Station, then to the Morgan Library & Museum. Had Tea there (not Fortnum & Masson, but quite good), then the exhibits: letters by J.D. Salinger, Edgar Allan Poe, drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci, covers & memorabilia from the Man-Booker awards, and sketches by 18th century Venetian artists, plus the beautiful library itself (want!).
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
Due to the limited supply of hot water, not to mention the limited sense of personal hygiene, since we wished to bathe, we had to go to another city to get properly cleaned up. Just kidding. Bath is an old Roman city where there is a hot mineral spring, and people did go to "take the cure," meaning to bathe in, and drink, the mineral waters. We are going to do likewise, as well as enjoy the Jane Austen Festival, but that comes into our story a bit later, Gentle Reader.

London to Bath )
warriorsavant: (Venice)
(*Yes, have shamelessly stolen series title from [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67)

Exhibit of glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly at MMFA (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts). Many of their exhibits are lame, but this was superb, nay magical. Chihuly is a Seattle-based artist, who has been called the modern Tiffany. Other than they both work in glass, and do it superbly well, their works are not similar, but could see either of them again and again. He is perhaps the only glass artist who has solo exhibits in major museums.

He become interested in blown glass at an early age, creating multi-colored and multi-layered works of blown glass of amazing size. There is an Italianate flair to some of the works, beyond the obvious of having been influenced by the age-old Murano Glassworks in Venice. The complexity of glass blowing goes up exponentially with the size, and some of his individual pieces of glass are 2-3 feet in diameter. Many of these installations grew organically as he made more and more pieces in a certain theme, then grouped them spectacularly for this exhibit. Good use of lighting added to the wondrous effect.

I think I was most impressed with the first of the rooms, displaying Macchia Forest.
20130901 Chichuly@MMFA1-MacchiaForest 20130901 Chichuly@MMFA2-MacchiaForest

Was a little disappointed with the next room Glass Forest #6 but could see its fascination.
20130901 Chichuly@MMFA3-GlassForest#6

No photos of the next room, which didn't do much for me, but the one after, Milli Fiori really, really made me feel the works were true magic. Eat your heart out Harry Potter.
20130901 Chichuly@MMFA4-MilliFiori 20130901 Chichuly@MMFA5-MilliFiori

My initial impression of the next room (left-hand image) was that I had wandered into the set of Star Trek, and that was something about to attack the Enterprise, but Chandeliers & Towers really grew on my after a bit.
20130901 Chichuly@MMFA6-Chandeliers&Towers 20130901 Chichuly@MMFA7-Chandeliers&Towers

One or two other rooms were interesting, but not enough to photograph.

After that briefly wandered through an exhibit of design works, but it just couldn't compare.

If you ever get a chance to see a Chihuly exhibit, go do so. It can't really be appreciated from photos.


warriorsavant: (Default)

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