Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Minneapolis' Best New Addition

I headed up to Minneapolis on Sunday to meet my cousin Quinn. Simply put, he is adorable!!! He's smiley, babbles your ear off and seems to be a very easy going baby. Steph and Don are totally relaxed parents and I was impressed at how well they are worked as a team to meet all of Quinn's needs. I considered taking Quinn with me but thought TSA might spot him in my carry on bag (they don't usually catch my big bottle of face wash but I think they'd probably spot the baby).

At almost 3 months, Quinn lights up when he sees his mom or dad. He is also discovering that he has control of his hands and seems to be working hard to put his whole fist in his mouth. I just loved his cuddles!

Monday, April 27, 2009

BUKAS Bombard Chicago

I headed to the midwest this weekend for the annual Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor Fellowship meeting. 5 of the 10 scholars from my year attended and it was incredible to see them all. They share my love of Berlin, are intellectual but don't take themselves too serious. You know it's a fun group when you can attend a lecture about systems theory in the afternoon and talk about a sausage factory at dinner:-) These meetings always provide interesting discussion and an opportunity to network with some pretty cool people. This year's special activity was an architectural boat tour of the city. Here are some photos. Fun facts learned:
1. Mrs. O'Leary's cow has been exonerated from any involvement in the Chicago fire of 1871.
2. Chicago is nicknamed the Windy City not because of gusts off the Lake but because of politicians who talked the ear off of the people deciding whether or not to give Chicago the World's Fair in 1893.

Hancock Building as seen from my hotel window

Lake Michigan. Love it!! It was strange to 1. see the lake in an urban environment and 2. not see the sun set over it as you do from Leland.

Looking East along the river. The bridges were open so sail boats could make their journey to the Lake.

Sears Tower...soon to be renamed.

I really wanted to have some deep dish and was told Gino's East is the place. Unfortunately the line was 30 minutes long and a pizza would have taken another hour to arrive at the table. So no deep dish for me on this trip. I shouldn't even give them a shout out since I didn't get in. But I did actually visit as a kid and hope that I can try it again on my next trip.

I headed to the Twin Cities to meet my new cousin Quinn. Pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


After watching Seinfeld, I am under the impression that Bosco is a very New York thing. So when I saw it in the grocery store yesterday, I thought I should try it out.

Looks like Hershey's syrup but let me tell you, the taste is quite different and not entirely good.

I guess some things are best left to the natives. (I'll keep Vernors; NYers can keep Bosco.)

Staten Island Ferry

It was too nice to stay inside yesterday, so Captain Carnivore and I decided to take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. He was concerned that people would think we were either tourists or from Staten Island, and he couldn't decide which would be worse. I was just excited to make it to the final of NY's five boroughs.

At the risk of sounding you know what, the first surprise is that the trip is completely free. In this time of economic hardship and when subway prices are getting ready to go up AGAIN, I can't believe the city still provides a free ride for tourists and for Staten Islanders.

But I digress, the view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is wonderful. The boat must lean to the west with all of the tourists moving to that side of the boat to snap pictures.

It is possible to get off the boat run through the terminal and make the boat that is getting ready to leave for Manhattan. But we waited for the next ferry so we could walk around the terminal and peek in to the minor league baseball stadium right next door.

On the way back, we stood on the other side of the boat so we'd have a good view of the Veranzano Bridge, Brooklyn and Governor's Island.

Brooklyn Heights

A pomegranate ice cream bar covered in chocolate awaited me when I returned to Brooklyn. Perfect end to a fun afternoon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Midwest musings

I've had a couple visits from Michigan in recent weeks and done a bit of traveling myself. And the observations from all involved lead to the same conclusion-- New Yorkers are not friendly enough. Yes, I know, bla, bla, bla, ask any New Yorker on the street for directions and they will be happy to help. But New Yorkers need to slow down and smile.

The slow down bit definitely comes into play on the Brooklyn Bridge. Dave, Lisa and Ellie came to visit and wanted to run across the Bridge. We had an awesome time but almost got mowed over by the bicyclists who "share" the bridge.

The next week, another set of cousins visited. Apparently they smiled at people and tried to make eye contact but got the feeling that they were getting funny looks. I can just picture it, a cheery lady from Michigan is looking and smiling at a person wearing black staring straight ahead. Yeah, I can see how some funny looks might have resulted.

Finally, while home over Easter I was greeted by two friendly pooches while I was on a walk with a friend. This got me thinking that not even New Yorker dogs are excited to see people on the street. Like their owners, they stare straight ahead focussed on the next light post.

This attitude seems to work for the city. It's successful and the tourists keep coming. But it makes me sad:-(

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Matt and I went for a hike in Palisades Interstate Park, in NJ, north of the GW Bridge, heading towards the NY State line. It was beautiful and of equal importance, we didn't see any snakes! We got a bit lost and ended up scrambling over lots and lots and lots of rocks along the Hudson River. (I think they are called The Giant Steps, which reminded me of Giants Table;-)) But thanks to 2 rock climbing hippies, we found our way back through the woods and back to the parking lot. YEA hippies!

Perhaps we should have paid a bit more attention to the warning on the website: "Perhaps owing to our proximity to New York City, many first-time Palisades hikers are surprised at how rugged our trails can get. Please be prepared!" Translation: "Heh city slickers, don't do anything that will result in us having to send out a rescue team to get you and your designer handbag off of the rocks."

Us in front of the Peanut Leap Cascade. There was also the remnants of an old building.

If a GIANT tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound? I am pretty sure this tree made a big sound when it fell!

A swing on the Hudson River...very cool!

this was the last shot we took thinking that these would be the only rocks we'd encounter. Wrong! This was just the start...and the beginner part of the scramble.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Another New York first this week. I was getting off the subway at Clark Street when a rat went scurrying down the platform. I've seen rats down on the track before. But one running right past me was a first.

Oh to live in New York.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Back from the walk

Okay, fine, no, the walk didn't take 2 weeks, I've just been super busy.

Anyway, the walk down the east side of Manhattan with Heather was awesome.

Meeting at 125th street and Lexington Ave, in Harlem, was eye-opening. I stood wearing my preppy windbreaker and CNN hat reading the paper for a while. I got some strange looks. I gave some strange looks when people on my left started screaming at people to my right. We headed off as soon as Heather arrived at 9am.

From Harlem, through Spanish Harlem, through Yorkville to the Upper East side. We were below 100 Street before we knew it.

By 93rd street we had passed our first Crumbs bakery and decided that we might need to find another Crumbs for a cupcake break somewhere down the road.

By the time we had gone 100 blocks, we had solved most of the problems of the world:-)

And yet we kept walking.

At 14th, we moved over to Broadway. 8th street meant CUPCAKE BREAK! We split a red velvet cupcake and a yellow cake chocolate icing one. Heather thinks Crumbs takes the cake (so to speak) and I have to agree. They were much better than any other cupcake I have tried in the city (though still plan to visit Sugar Sweet Sunshine sometime soon.)

We were within striking distance! We were walking, we were walking. Before we got to the Financial District, we were already talking about our next challenge, the West Side from 245 to Battery Park.

Our only other stop off was the world's (or at least the city's) fanciest McDonalds for a potty break on Broadway just before Wall St. There is a pianist playing above the door. Amazing!

Past the bull and through Bowling Green, just after 12pm, we reached Battery Park. Victory!

On to the west side! Goal will have to be to take more pictures, what was I thinking?! Thanks Heather!