Sunday, 29 November 2009

A week in New York City

How do you sum up a week in New York? Impossible. We‘ve been there many times before but this was the first time we stayed right in Manhattan, directly at Times Square and we took our time to explore the city on foot.

There really is no better way to get a „feel“ for a city and the weather couldn‘t have been better!

It was marvelous. We had a blast and we‘ll certainly come back again. Maybe in May next year. Until then, here's a couple of impressions from our visit there.

As for the Hotel Paramount. We can only recommend it. Its location is perfect and the service was outstanding. Definitely going to stay there again next time.

our room at the Paramount Hotel, Times Square

The lobby of our Hotel

Grand Central Station

34th Street

Chrysler Building

Need to know your future?


Times Square

Hudson River (Jersey side, Piermont)

Times Square at night

Brooklyn Bridge

South Street Seaport

Geese on Ellis Island

Lower Manhattan (view from Ellis Island)

Statue of Liberty at sunset

Liberty Island at sunset

Statue of Liberty

High Line Park, Meatpacking District

High Line Park, Meatpacking District

Battery Park

World Financial Center

From the Empire State Building looking at
Chrysler Building 

Residential area near 32nd Street

Thursday, 19 November 2009

New York City... here we come...

...suitcases are packed, tickets laid out....
... tomorrow we'll be in NY City ....

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

CSI North Pole....

HA HA HA!!! Hilarious! (I love CSI NY... this is awesome :)

Monday, 16 November 2009

Glimpses into other people's lives

Gail Albert Halaban/ Robert Mann Gallery

Ever since I was a little kid, I could never resist peeking into lighted windows at night, trying to get a glimpse into other people's lives. Wondering about who they were, what their life was like.

This often inadvertent voyeurism is explored in a series of staged photographs, like the one above of a building on Third Avenue by the artist, Ms. Gail Albert Halaban.

For an interesting article on the subject go here.

(via NY Times)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Minimalistic House Design

... a tad too minimalistic for my liking, but it's an interesting concept....

In this design, everything revolves around a gridded box that is surrounded by a single wrapping ramp. Clean lines on the outside translate into simple line-and-angle furniture, furnishings and fixtures within, from elemental seating objects to near-invisible kitchen counters and appliances.

Now, none of this means we must want to live in a modern box – for some of us simplicity becomes boring quite quickly – but for people who wonder if such a structure is a more simple design endeavor for architects who strive for minimalist expression, it is worth considering just how complicated such apparently simple creations truly are.

(via dornob)

Friday, 13 November 2009

North Sea Fall Impressions

... One of the things on my "wishing" list ...
a trip to the North Sea Coast in fall or winter..

This looks so romantic!




St. Peter Oerding

(Danish Island)

(via here)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Invisible Man...

.... Amazing.....

What is red, green, orange, brown, gray and invisible all over? Liu Bolin is beyond a master of disguise, his carefully constructed camouflage clothing renders him completely unseen even in urban contexts.

This artist has good reason to go invisible: the Chinese government has gone so far as to shut down his art studio in the past, making these photographs a form of protest as well as public artworks about displacement and hiding in plain site.

Some of his pieces carry an overtly political message, featuring him in front of famous landmarks, national flags or in the grips of military personnel or party officers. Others are more subtle in their meaning and open to interpretation

From pants, shirts and boots to jackets, hats and faces, every inch of him and/or his subjects is painted in camouflage patterns. Whether standing in front of a shop, truck, wall, pile of rocks or combination of elements, they always disappear.

Still not convinced? How long did it take you to spot the man in the photograph above? No, this is not a trick – but it might take a few seconds to a minute for you to find him, camouflaged from head to toe and hiding very much in plain sight.
(via dornob)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Monday, 9 November 2009

Mad Men Season 03 ...

I was going to write down my thoughts on Mad Men's season 03 but then I found this review by Josh Radde. This sums it up perfectly :)
My thoughts exactly. (Can't wait for Season 04!!!)

Mad Men Finale Review: Shut the Door. Have a Seat.

by Josh Radde ( on November 9, 2009
Synopsis: The season finale begins with Don ending his business partnership with Conrad Hilton and ends with him starting a new job somewhere else; Betty wants to go forward with divorce proceedings.
Review: Season 3 of Mad Men is now in the books. First let me discuss the season as a whole before going into the finale. There were lots of great moments in this year’s season. I loved “My Old Kentucky Home” and how much fun it was seeing Pete and Trudy dancing, Peggy getting high, and Joan playing the accordion. “Guy Walks Into an Ad Agency” was another homerun. Hilarious, well-written, and some juicy character tidbits from Joan, Don and others — essentially, what Mad Men should always be about. Though some portions of the season were without much in the way of conflict, we still took in the lives of Don Draper, his family, and his co-workers. Peggy’s independence was displayed a little more each week and was never taken to a cliche level. Although her relationship with Duck was something I don’t think anybody saw coming (or wanted). Not much happened with Pete Campbell other than the fact that he and Trudy seemed to be on the same page for much of the season. There was a little exploration into Campbell that showed us how much of a child he is inside, and he also impressed Don with his ability to find new demographics and markets. Roger came on late in the season and had some redeemable episodes. His scuffle with Don was not very well executed, but scenes where the two of them were getting along were some of my favorites. Joan showed us that she has way more potential than she’s been allowed to show. She spent most of the season sidelined by her mopey, whiny husband who she finally belted in the head with a vase after 10+ episodes of being annoying. I think what I learned most from this season is how much Joan means to the show. She’s not just the best secretary in the world and a sight for sore eyes, she’s also developed into more or less the heart of the series.
I used to think Betty was the heart of the show, but that was only because she was playing a “part” for so long. After the second season finale where she had sex with a nameless stranger, she’s been pretty much a vengeance machine this whole season. Her relationship with Henry Francis, forcing Don to take in her father, naming the new baby after her father once he died to spite Don — she’s been more of a villainous this season than a loving mother and wife. And once she found out her husband was not the man he claimed to be, all bets were off. I don’t know what happens now with Betty and Don, but I am intrigued. I think I can speak for most of the viewers when I say that her relationship with Francis has been one of the sore spots of the season. It was interesting when they were flirting, but I don’t think I ever could’ve seen him proposing marriage to her coming. Betty is a complicated woman, who wants to be treated like a princess, and she found a man who wants to cater to all her desires. This will most likely end badly. I also really loved last week’s JFK assassination episode. It really pushed our characters forward and seemed like a logical place in time for them to try and find new beginnings.
That brings us to Don and the review of tonight’s episode. Say what you will about the adultery committed on this show. Pete and Peggy, Roger and Joan, Don and (insert brunette) — they always seem to have great chemistry when they’re together. Take Don and Miss Farrell. As far as affairs go, that was about as uncomplicated as it got. I know some friends of mine that watch the show were bored by Miss Farrell, however I loved how uncomplicated their arrangement was. It seemed more realistic, at least moreso than Henry Francis proposing to another man’s wife. Even if you go beyond the out-of-wedlock coupling that happens on Mad Men, it’s still a series built around chemistry. This lives and dies with Don Draper. I think that’s why season 4 of Mad Men will see our favorite characters teaming with Don to get back to what they do best:

advertising. There was very little actual work in Season 3. It seemed like Don was out of good ideas because he was pissed all the time, Pete was spread too thin with far too many accounts, and most of Peggy’s best scenes happened away from Sterling/Cooper. I feel like Sterling/Cooper/Draper/Price can be a really good thing for this show going forward. No more bitching and bickering and Don trying to make people constantly work harder for his approval. Don had to tell everyone working at the new business why he needs them, and that was a really great thing to see. This entire season all we did was watch Don Draper be pissed off and shun people. It’s better when he’s working with his co-workers and not trying to hover above them.
I think you have to say that 1963 was a bad year for Don Draper. However, I think this is where we want to see him. After they packed up their offices at Sterling/Cooper for good, Roger turns to Don and asks “How long do you think it will take us to get into an office like this again,” to which Don replies “I never saw myself working in an office like this.” What we need from this series is to see Don coming to grips with his dual life, see him being a good father and the best ad man there is, as well as inspiring the people around him. Next season will hopefully get back to what we loved about Seasons 1 and 2, and will integrate some of the sheer fun that we had with the better parts of Season 3.
(via here)

100 Things Restaurant Staff shouldn't do....

1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.

2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.

3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.

4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right.

5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.

6. Do not lead the witness with, “Bottled water or just tap?” Both are fine. Remain neutral.

7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.

8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.

9. Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.

10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.

11. Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say, “We only have two lobsters left.” Even if there are only two lobsters left.

12. Do not touch the rim of a water glass. Or any other glass.

13. Handle wine glasses by their stems and silverware by the handles.

14. When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix whatever is not right.

15. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out.”

16. If someone requests more sauce or gravy or cheese, bring a side dish of same. No pouring. Let them help themselves.

17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”

19. Offer guests butter and/or olive oil with their bread.

20. Never refuse to substitute one vegetable for another.

21. Never serve anything that looks creepy or runny or wrong.

22. If someone is unsure about a wine choice, help him. That might mean sending someone else to the table or offering a taste or two.

23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc.

24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.

25. Make sure the glasses are clean. Inspect them before placing them on the table.

26. Never assume people want their white wine in an ice bucket. Inquire.

27. For red wine, ask if the guests want to pour their own or prefer the waiter to pour.

28. Do not put your hands all over the spout of a wine bottle while removing the cork.

29. Do not pop a champagne cork. Remove it quietly, gracefully. The less noise the better.

30. Never let the wine bottle touch the glass into which you are pouring. No one wants to drink the dust or dirt from the bottle.

31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.

32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.

33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by.

34. Do not have a personal conversation with another server within earshot of customers.

35. Do not eat or drink in plain view of guests.

36. Never reek from perfume or cigarettes. People want to smell the food and beverage.

37. Do not drink alcohol on the job, even if invited by the guests. “Not when I’m on duty” will suffice.

38.Do not call a guy a “dude.”

39. Do not call a woman “lady.”

40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad.

41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.

42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.

43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant.

44. Do not discuss your own eating habits, be you vegan or lactose intolerant or diabetic.

45. Do not curse, no matter how young or hip the guests.

46. Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other. All guests are equal.

47. Do not gossip about co-workers or guests within earshot of guests.

48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order.

49. Never mention the tip, unless asked.

50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.

51. If there is a service charge, alert your guests when you present the bill. It’s not a secret or a trick.

52. Know your menu inside and out. If you serve Balsam Farm candy-striped beets, know something about Balsam Farm and candy-striped beets.

53. Do not let guests double-order unintentionally; remind the guest who orders ratatouille that zucchini comes with the entree.

54. If there is a prix fixe, let guests know about it. Do not force anyone to ask for the “special” menu.

55. Do not serve an amuse-bouche without detailing the ingredients. Allergies are a serious matter; peanut oil can kill. (This would also be a good time to ask if anyone has any allergies.)

56. Do not ignore a table because it is not your table. Stop, look, listen, lend a hand. (Whether tips are pooled or not.)

57. Bring the pepper mill with the appetizer. Do not make people wait or beg for a condiment.

58. Do not bring judgment with the ketchup. Or mustard. Or hot sauce. Or whatever condiment is requested.

59. Do not leave place settings that are not being used.

60. Bring all the appetizers at the same time, or do not bring the appetizers. Same with entrees and desserts.

61. Do not stand behind someone who is ordering. Make eye contact. Thank him or her.

62. Do not fill the water glass every two minutes, or after each sip. You’ll make people nervous.

62(a). Do not let a glass sit empty for too long.

63. Never blame the chef or the busboy or the hostess or the weather for anything that goes wrong. Just make it right.

64. Specials, spoken and printed, should always have prices.

65. Always remove used silverware and replace it with new.

66. Do not return to the guest anything that falls on the floor — be it napkin, spoon, menu or soy sauce.

67. Never stack the plates on the table. They make a racket. Shhhhhh.

68. Do not reach across one guest to serve another.

69. If a guest is having trouble making a decision, help out. If someone wants to know your life story, keep it short. If someone wants to meet the chef, make an effort.

70. Never deliver a hot plate without warning the guest. And never ask a guest to pass along that hot plate.

71. Do not race around the dining room as if there is a fire in the kitchen or a medical emergency. (Unless there is a fire in the kitchen or a medical emergency.)

72. Do not serve salad on a freezing cold plate; it usually advertises the fact that it has not been freshly prepared.

73. Do not bring soup without a spoon. Few things are more frustrating than a bowl of hot soup with no spoon.

74. Let the guests know the restaurant is out of something before the guests read the menu and order the missing dish.

75. Do not ask if someone is finished when others are still eating that course.

76. Do not ask if a guest is finished the very second the guest is finished. Let guests digest, savor, reflect.

77. Do not disappear.

78. Do not ask, “Are you still working on that?” Dining is not work — until questions like this are asked.

79. When someone orders a drink “straight up,” determine if he wants it “neat” — right out of the bottle — or chilled. Up is up, but “straight up” is debatable.

80. Never insist that a guest settle up at the bar before sitting down; transfer the tab.

81. Know what the bar has in stock before each meal.

82. If you drip or spill something, clean it up, replace it, offer to pay for whatever damage you may have caused. Refrain from touching the wet spots on the guest.

83. Ask if your guest wants his coffee with dessert or after. Same with an after-dinner drink.

84. Do not refill a coffee cup compulsively. Ask if the guest desires a refill.

84(a). Do not let an empty coffee cup sit too long before asking if a refill is desired.

85. Never bring a check until someone asks for it. Then give it to the person who asked for it.

86. If a few people signal for the check, find a neutral place on the table to leave it.

87. Do not stop your excellent service after the check is presented or paid.

88. Do not ask if a guest needs change. Just bring the change.

89. Never patronize a guest who has a complaint or suggestion; listen, take it seriously, address it.

90. If someone is getting agitated or effusive on a cellphone, politely suggest he keep it down or move away from other guests.

91. If someone complains about the music, do something about it, without upsetting the ambiance. (The music is not for the staff — it’s for the customers.)

92. Never play a radio station with commercials or news or talking of any kind.

93. Do not play brass — no brassy Broadway songs, brass bands, marching bands, or big bands that feature brass, except a muted flugelhorn.

94. Do not play an entire CD of any artist. If someone doesn’t like Frightened Rabbit or Michael Bublé, you have just ruined a meal.

95. Never hover long enough to make people feel they are being watched or hurried, especially when they are figuring out the tip or signing for the check.

96. Do not say anything after a tip — be it good, bad, indifferent — except, “Thank you very much.”

97. If a guest goes gaga over a particular dish, get the recipe for him or her.

98. Do not wear too much makeup or jewelry. You know you have too much jewelry when it jingles and/or draws comments.

99. Do not show frustration. Your only mission is to serve. Be patient. It is not easy.

100. Guests, like servers, come in all packages. Show a “good table” your appreciation with a free glass of port, a plate of biscotti or something else management approves.

(via N.Y. Times)

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Paul Simon - Call me Al

Heard this on the radio during breakfast. Made me feel good...
...Perfect Sunday morning music :)

PS: This video version with Chevy Chase is just hilarious :)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine Side Effects...

Had my shot yesterday morning...and why the hell do I have to show almost ALL the listed side effects (except for the vomitting. Thank God for small miracles).... *sigh*

Local Side Effects from Approved H1N1 Vaccines

No deaths or serious adverse events have been reported from any swine flu vaccine. Approximately 44% of participants reported mild side effects within 7 days of receiving the first dose of CSL’s swine flu vaccine. 2.5% of vaccine recipients reported moderate local side effects, and there were no severe adverse events reported after immunization. 86% of the volunteers that received Novartis’s H1N1 vaccine reported adverse reactions after one or both doses – the most common local side effect experienced was injection site pain. The reactions were generally mild or moderate and resolved after 72 hours. Reported local adverse events, or side effects occurring at the location where either vaccine had been administered, include the following:

  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Hardening of skin
  • Swelling
  • Bruising

Common Systemic Side Effects from Swine Flu Vaccines

Systemic effects were also reported by CSL and Novartis vaccine recipients. Approximately 36% of volunteers that received the swine flu vaccine manufactured by CSL experienced mild systemic side effects. 8% of vaccine recipients reported moderate systemic side effects, and less than 1% experienced a severe adverse reaction to immunization. Severe side effects reported include, malaise, muscle pain, and nausea. Muscle aches were the most common systemic side effect reported by participants receiving the H1N1 vaccine produced by Novartis, and no severe systemic side effects were reported. The following are common whole-body side effects occurring in response to either H1N1 vaccination.

  • Headache
  • Malaise (feeling out-of-sorts)
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting

In addition, researchers evaluated the occurrence of select adverse events including neurologic (e.g. Guillain-Barre syndrome), immune system or other serious reactions. According to the studies, none of the enrolled participants experienced these select events.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has also recently released preliminary safety information for an additional swine flu vaccine manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc. Approximately 96% of healthy adults showed a robust immune response after receiving the vaccine. The only adverse events reported by trial participants were pain and redness at the injection site.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Japanese Modern Architecture...

...What an AWESOME design....

Japanese home designs are known for their simplicity, stark aesthetics and sense of balance … so while this beach house has elements that fit in with traditional minimalism and elemental modernism, the strangely postmodern home-shaped windows stand out all the more strongly within the rectilinear box-like structure..

The effect of this simple architectural move by Suppose Design twist is quite profound. There is a way in which it recalls middle-eastern arch forms but beyond that there is the curious way in which it casts shadows and informs views to the beach and water beyond. Suddenly, exterior scenes are strangely framed in house-shaped portals – giving them an oddly domestic feel.

Aside from this most obvious aesthetic move, there is a sense that the offbeat outer shell as almost a separate entity from the floating wooden platforms and mobile wood-and-glass partitions that surround it in the center of the main living space. These more standard design elements are at once simple and domestic but also provide another clever point of contrast to enhance the effect of the windows that still surround them.

(via dornob)