February 9, 2013


Since I completely forgot to acknowledge the successful passing of the actual New Year in January (no Mayan apocalypse! Happy, or disappointed? I'm not sure.), it's only fitting that I should compensate by writing a post to commemorate the passing of the Year of the Dragon.
Dear year,
I love you, you are the best. There's absolutely no year better than you. I only wish I were celebrating you in a more traditional manner. Instead, there's no party, no Chinese food. Does this still count as New Years? Still, I hope to see you again in another 12 years, I'll try to be more prepared next time. Until then, I'll miss you. Mwah!

February 8, 2013


Cheesy Lentils
Recipe by Scaredofwhales, that's me!
So with me being completely stressed and unable to go grocery shopping as often as I would like, there's not much for me to work with when I get hungry. Man do miss meat sometimes... Also, this whole gluten-free thing really limits take-out options, but in a good way, I guess.
1 cup lentils
1 cup spinach
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup cheddar cheese (or more for extra ooziness) ½ onion, chopped
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
salt, olive oil
In a pot, sauté onions in olive oil until soft, but not brown. Add lentils and chicken stock. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add spinach, paprika, cumin, turmeric,and salt to taste. Continue cooking until lentils are at whatever texture you like them to be, adding more stock or water as needed
At this point, you can basically eat it as is, but adding cheese makes it even more awesome. Just throw in the cheddar, stir, watch it all melt together, spoon it into a bowl and enjoy!

November 18, 2012


In ancient China, the philosopher Lao Tzu once referred to the void within a cup as the essence of the cup. He observed that space was what made the vessel useful, and that the act of containment was what gave it meaning. This idea has since been applied to architecture; most notably by Frank Lloyd Wright, who used it to describe the true purpose of building – to contain human life.
Whether intentional or unintentional, architect, Katherine Rinne, pushes against this concept of architecture as space making in her lecture, Plumbing Rome. Her studies are not about walls or spaces, but about what is being contained within the cup, or in this case the city of Rome. While she examines the 3,000-year history of the city’s infrastructure and urban development, as well as conducts a survey of the extensive network of fountains, drains and pipes, Rinne’s investigation is ultimately about the living system that flows within them – water.
As director of the web-based research project, The Waters of the City of Rome, Rinne has tackled the task of mapping the hydraulic systems of Rome with meticulous, almost obsessive, attention to detail. The focus of her investigation seemingly encompassed any and everything that could possibly have to do with the theme of water: springs, rivers, aqueducts, fountains, drinking spouts, toilets, drains, pipes, flood markers, dog fountains etc. In addition, her four-month sojourn through the streets of Rome, identifying the origin, containment, flow and distribution of water, produced an incredible amount of data on the city’s infrastructure and development, gleaned from personal observations, critical readings, analytical studies and archival research. However (perhaps fortuitously) the results of her study remain fairly open-ended.
In her lecture, Rinne presented several interesting findings, and theories of her own, but she was also quick to emphasize that the ultimate goal of the project was to create a foundation of evidence upon which other scholars and professionals could establish their own work. Rinne refers to water as the life source of the city, providing both physical and spiritual nourishment to the body and the senses. She also highlights some of the connections that can be made between the readily visible urban layout of the city and the harder to discern flow of water. Aside from a few teasing glimpses into possible research topics, Rinne holds back on offering too many concrete suggestions about how to apply her study. In the end, it is exactly this freedom to interpret, which her project fosters, that makes it so significant.
Rinne intends for her project to be used as a design tool for students and professionals in the field of architecture, but the study also opens doors for scholars in other fields such as civil engineering, geoscience and history, just to name a few. Research in these other fields could possibly include a socio-political study of class hierarchies that governed water circulation, an economic study of water as commodity, or a mechanical study of hydrodynamics. The straightforward presentation of her study lends itself to multiple interpretations; the GIS data mapping, especially, allows users to easily assess her findings and reach their own conclusions.
One of the most interesting facets of the Waters project is the development of a complex narrative structure that interweaves the story of water, with the cultural, political and social histories of the city. Not only does Rinne’s project help redefine our understanding of urban landscapes, but it also serves to expand the scope of architectural inquiry beyond the study of material structures and spaces. In this instance, it is not the physical form that defines the cup, nor is it the space within. Rather, the value of the cup is determined by what it contains. In the case of Rinne, this would be the water that runs through Rome, bringing together various narratives of the city, giving life and meaning to its built environment.

November 16, 2012


I realized I never finished my travel blog about New Zealand. Brief summary: It was awesome. Didn't want to come back. Came back. Now my goal in life is to live there some day. The end.

June 26, 2012


The moment I've been waiting for for the past 10 years. I'm in the Shire! I wish I could pack this place up and put it in my backyard. Or, if the Alexanders would let me, I would totally just move in. I'll even offer to help with the sheep to pay my rent. Yo ho, a Hobbit's life for me! Yay!

40 different Hobbit holes. I could settle into any one of these comfortably.

And, new models, never before seen, made just for The Hobbit movie. Sweet! Side note: they are currently turning the Green Dragon into a working pub, which will be open to visitors by the end of the year. True story.

June 25, 2012


So yet another 15 hour flight (after a 13 hour one from Newark to Seoul), this time from Seoul to Auckland, via Hong Kong. Despite being all tired and gross, once we got to New Zealand, we wasted very little time and got right down to exploring the City of Sails.

Next day, Rangitoto Island and volcanic crater via a short ferry ride from the city.

After two days, we left Auckland for Hamilton and a trip on the KiwiRail. First visit, the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Cool! Really nice visitor center and entrance sequence, but very hard to get decent photos of the actual rock formations.

And, of course, you gotta lick those stalactites!

Waimangu Volcanic Valley. We finally drove! Well, John did most of the driving, I just fooled around on the small roads. I loved the way the steam and trees and lack of visitors made the place feel like Jurassic Park. Seriously, there were probably only 20 people in the entire park. Definitely only 5 cars in the parking lot.

June 19, 2012


Oh, finally traveling south of the Equator! Picked up John, now, to the Bagginses' house we go! Photos of awesomeness to follow.