Philadelphia, This Year

As big cities go, Philadelphia is quite nice, even nicer now that I go in on the train via the adorable Colmar station.  This is where I’ve been, this year.

Reading Terminal Market – http://www.readingterminalmarket.org

This is a farmer’s market in a permanent indoor space, in a lovely historic building next to the convention center.  The food is good.   The shops are good.  There is a local winery store, Blue Mountain Vineyards and Cellars, a local winery with excellent wines,   http://bluemountainwine.com/.  I almost wept when I stopped there.  Given Pennsylvania’s ridiculous liquor control laws (don’t get me started) and the local culture, I’ve mostly given up on the wine thing here.  Blue Mountain makes great wines, though it’s not easy to buy their wines, given that it’s a local winery and Pennsylvania’s liquor laws and the local liquor stores are so terrible.  I had the Chambourcin which was excellent, also interesting because I was not familiar with the grape.

Reading Terminal Market, fish sign, April 2011

Reading Terminal Market, Blue Mountain Vineyards and Cellars sign, April 2011

Philadelphia International Flower Show –http://theflowershow.com/home/index.html

“Springtime in Paris” was the theme for 2011.  The flower show is huge; it takes over the Philadelphia Convention Center.  The show consisted of a number of gardens with a Paris theme and a market where you could buy things.  I had a good time, though I learned why it is never a good idea to go on the weekend.  It was very crowded

Through Rose Colored Glasses, Philadelphia International Flower Show, March 2011

A Bed of Roses, Philadelphia International Flower Show, March 2011

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts Street Fair – http://pifa.org/streetfair

Another Paris and French themed event.  It was not crowded in the morning, but more crowded as the day went on.  The food was good, the performers were good, the sights were good, some interesting arty things.

Butterfly Puppet, Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts Street Fair, April 2011

Ferris Wheel, Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts Street Fair, April 2011

La Ville Radieuse (The Radiant City), a Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2011 Collaboration

On the day I went to the street fair, I went inside the Kimmel Center, a performing arts space, a spectacular building with a hundred fifty foot barrel-vaulted glass roof (http://kimmelcenter.org/facilities/tour/).  There was a site installation, La Ville Radieuse, by Mimi Lien, an artist and set  designer.  http://pifa.org/journey/lavilleradieuse/2

The interior of the Kimmel Center was magical.  There was a replica of the Eiffel tower, all in lights.  Above me, moving on wires was a plane, trains, and a dirigible.  My photographs do not do it justice.

La Ville Radieuse, Kimmel Center, April 2011

La Ville Radieuse, Kimmel Center, April 2011

Art

This mini sculpture park is at the Marriott hotel, next to the Reading Terminal Market.  I had to do some research to figure out who made it. I like the work, and it was a great place to eat lunch when the Reading Terminal Market was very crowded, on the day I went to the flower show.

World Park, Cast concrete, fiberglass, stone and glass mosaic, landscape,15′ x 88′ x 96′, Philadelphia, PA. Commissioned by Marriott Hotel, 1995, Ned Smyth.

http://www.philart.net/artist.php?id=223   http://www.nedsmyth.com/information/resume

World Park, 1995, photograph taken March 2011

World Park, 1995, photograph taken March 2011

World Park, 1995, photograph taken March 2011

The Fabric Workshop and Museum – http://www.fabricworkshopandmuseum.org/

Contrary to the name, this is not a fabric workshop and museum; it is a contemporary arts gallery and museum, focusing on different types of materials.  I love it.  You can’t take photos inside, so I have no photos of their exhibits.   You can’t even walk around the exhibits yourself.  After you pay your admission fee, a nice person escorts you around the current exhibit, and you can stay as long as you like.  I think this is because the work is not protected and, while not fragile as in “you touch it, it breaks”, it would be easy to disturb the work.  I love the exhibits and hope to get there more often.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum, April 2011

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Going to Philadelphia – The Colmar Station

Over the spring and early summer I went to Philadelphia for events – the Philadelphia flower show, a street fair, a dinner with women in technology.  Now, when I lived in California, I drove  to San Francisco many times.  I’ve driven all over the California coast.  I’ve driven to Seattle.  I drove 3000 miles across the US.  But, driving to Philadelphia does not appeal to me.  I will drive in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, because I have to, but I don’t like it very much.  In the US I like to drive in coastal California, the Pacific northwest, the southwest, Austin Texas, and parts of Hawaii.  Maybe I’ll make an exception for coastal Maine and the highway to the Florida Keys – liked driving those roads.

That leaves train travel.  Train travel in the US is painfully slow.  Regional train travel is even slower.  But taking the train is fun.  It’s extra fun if you can start at one of the platonic ideals of train station cuteness, the Colmar station. Sadly, you cannot walk to this train station, unless you lived next door, perhaps, but there are still many benefits to traveling via this station.

Parking

Lots of parking and the parking lot doesn’t fill up.  Getting there is easy for me, if a bit long, a straightforward route, no tricky intersections, fairly good traffic.

The Colmar Train Station. April 2011.

Parking and the Wawa gas station. April 2011.

An adorable little train station.

Per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colmar_(SEPTA_station)) the Colmar station was built in 1856.  I do not know if this is the original building.  Glass blocks such as these were originally developed in the 1900s.  Perhaps this station dates from the early 1900s.  It’s a tiny station and there is no restroom, but there is a restroom at the Wawa gas station across from the station, as well as food.  The Wawa gas station is open all the time. There’s a heater in the tiny train station building, for the winter, though I don’t know how much heat it provides.

Side view, exterior, Colmar train station. April 2011.

Interior, Colmar train station. Wonderful glass blocks. April 2011.

Colmar train station. The heater. April 2011.

Waiting for the train.

I feel like I’m in a movie, setting off from the country to the big city.  I look one way and the other, to see if a train is coming.

The train station and the train tracks. May 2011.

Looking the other way at the train tracks. April 2011.

The buildings across from the train tracks. Pretty. April 2011.

A train is coming. May 2011.

The train is not fancy, but it is comfortable.  Cell phone service is good, so I can use my Android smartphone.

On the train. April 2011.

On the train with my Motorola Droid Android phone. April 2011.

Looking out the window

I used to take the SEPTA Norristown line into Philadelphia, which gave me a lovely view of the Schuylkill River.  There is no river on this route, but the landscape is pretty.

Watching the view on the way to Philadelphia. April 2011.

More views from the train. April 2011.

If I worked in downtown Philadelphia, Ambler would be a good place for me to live.

Ambler, view from the train. April 2011.

Farewell to the Colmar station.

Goodbye Colmar Station. April 2011.

Watching a TV series that tells a story, my Droid phone, the TV series Lost

When I watch a television series that has an overarching story, I like to watch a season all at once, one episode after the other.  I’m less distracted and able to focus.  I watch the episodes more carefully if I watch more than one episode at a time.  Some things are annoying — I don’t need the constant repetition of what happened in previous episodes.  I can’t do this for a show like Rubicon, which is wonderful, but very very slow.  I didn’t do this for The 4400 – I loved the show too much, weak middle seasons and all.  I watched each episode of The 4400 as soon as it came out.  I did this for Heroes (still one season to go) and Stargate Universe.

One of the risks is that you end up missing some seasons.  This happened to me with Battlestar Galactica (the new series, 2003 – 2007) possibly the greatest science fiction series of all time.  I was doing fine, watching a season at a time, but I was way behind.  Then I holed up at a hotel in Rolla, Missouri, for a day.  I was driving from California to Pennsylvania and I needed a break.  I needed to both relax and focus on something.  The last season of Battlestar Galactica was on TV (one episode after the other) so I got my takeout food from Panera (thank goodness for good chain restaurants, predictable and tasty) and I watched the last part of the last season in my motel room.  So now I know how it ends.  I still have to watch the seasons I missed.

One of the best ways to watch the episodes is, oddly enough, on my smartphone, my Motorola Droid.  Even big beautiful shows work out well.  The picture on the Droid is beautiful, and the sound is great with headphones.  I hold the screen close to my eyes (I’m nearsighted) so that my field of vision is filled with the show.  It’s convenient, immediate, and I can watch the episodes anywhere.

This brings me to the TV series Lost.  When Lost first came out I watched the first season and part of the second, and then, for some reason, I stopped.  But Lost is a cultural phenomenon, it’s compelling, and it’s great TV.  When I watched Lost, I liked the mix of character driven individual stories with an overarching story full of mystery and science fiction elements.  I felt that I missed out by not watching Lost.  So, when all the seasons were available, I watched all six seasons of Lost on my smartphone.  Doing this filled up all my free time.  There were nights I didn’t get much sleep, but I’m done.  I would have never gotten “done” if I had not watched the show on my beloved Motorola Droid.

Most shows that tell a story end in a way that I think of as very modern, the way we do fiction now.   The story comes to something of a conclusion, but it also continues.  Not everything is wrapped up neatly.  The characters and the world continue.  You have some insight into the world and the characters, but you get the feeling that everything and everyone will continue without you.  I like that.

Neither Lost nor Battlestar Galactica ended like that.  Both had definite, “we can’t go back, we are done” endings. The ending to Battlestar Galactica seemed right to me, “deus ex machina” notwithstanding, something I don’t usually like.  I didn’t feel that way about Lost.

I hated the ending to Lost.  The ending felt fake, and it felt forced, a way for us to feel happy for the characters.  I felt manipulated.  I realize that all fiction manipulates your emotions – that’s a writer’s job, but this manipulation felt too obvious to me.    I also didn’t like the good versus not good (didn’t exactly seem evil) mythology of the island – I thought it was boring.

I think ending the series with season four would have been great, though it would have needed some rewriting.  Not everyone would have ended up perfectly happy, which made it seem more real to me, science fiction elements and all.  I would have been left wondering what happened, which would have been fine with me.  Another way to end would have been to keep the series ending, ending with Jack closing his eyes, but don’t include those extraneous meeting scenes, show Jack’s final minutes on the island and that’s it.  I’d make the ending music pensive, less uplifting.  The ending wouldn’t have been shiny happy perfect, but the ending would have still come full circle, referencing the first scene of the series.  It looks like the writers tried to do that, but then they just couldn’t follow through, which was our loss.  I don’t feel it’s a show’s job to reassure me that everything is wonderful after we die.  Don’t go there.

I’m not as bitter as the following writer, and I liked the ending to Battlestar Galactica, but this article makes some excellent points.

http://www.tvsquad.com/2010/05/26/tv-101-why-lost-decided-to-end-on-a-note-of-gobbledygook/

I’ll end with a few pictures

View from the parking lot of the motel where I watched the last season of Battlestar Galactica, July 2009

Watching Lost on my Motorola Droid smartphone. October 2010

My Journey, California to Pennsylvania, July 2009. Part 3 of 3, Missouri to Pennsylvania

In July 2009 (this year) I left my beloved California and moved to Pennsylvania. I wrote about leaving California in my blog post “Leaving My California” – https://amarez.com/2009/07/19/leaving-my-california/

My first travel post describes my journey from California to Sedona – https://amarez.com/2009/12/05/my-journey-california-to-pennsylvania-july-2009-part-1-of-3-from-california-to-sedona/.

My second travel post describes my journey from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Oklahoma – https://amarez.com/2009/12/05/my-journey-california-to-pennsylvania-july-2009-part-2-of-3-santa-fe-to-oklahoma/

After Oklahoma, I drove east to Missouri,  continuing my journey to Pennsylvania.  I’m including my tweets (twitter posts), from that time.

July 26, 2009.   In Joplin, Missouri for the night – currently having dinner at a local place recommended by my motel – just down the street!

July 26, 2009.  So much for SF food snobbery. Grilled tilapia at a place called Whisky Creek, and it’s really really good!

July 27, 2009.  Staying in Rolla, Missouri for two nights. I need a break from driving. The Ozarks are pretty.

Ozarks from Highway near Rolla, Missouri, July 2009

























July 28, 2009 .  It rained here in Missouri. I miss the weather in my California – only rains in winter, no thunderstorms, no snow. Not a fan of weather.

On to Illinois.

Water Tower, Casey, Illinois, July 2009






























July 29, 2009.    Just west of Indianapolis. I saw fields of corn, being that I’m in the midwest.

July 30, 2009.   Stayed at the Hampton Inn – great rate with AAA and business travel is down so room rates are good. Reminded me fondly of business travel.

Hampton Inn, Plainfield, Indiana, July 2009























July 30, 2009.  In Ohio – not much further to go

The highways got more crowded.  Ohio had great highway rest stops, very nature oriented.  There was  a wonderful wooded area, with picnic tables, at the place where I stopped.

Wooded Area, Highway Rest Stop, Ohio, July 2009























July 31, 2009.  In Pennsylvania – not much further to go

Driving on Highway 70 through  West Virginia (briefly) and western Pennsylvania, the scenery was spectacular,  a winding road,  mountains, trees, very dramatic.  Sadly, I did not get any pictures.

I stayed at a hotel in Bedford, Pennsylvania.  While a bit on the faux “old timey” side, the hotel was confortable and had a certain charm.   The lights in front of the hotel were interesting.  The morning the fog was mysterious.

Street Lamps, Bedford, Pennsylvania, July 2009

Morning Fog, Bedford, Pennsylvania, July 2009





















































Continuing on the Pennsylvania highways.

Pennsylvania Highway, July 2009

























August 1, 2009.   2900 miles, 13 days and I’ve reached my destination! My road trip is over.

The miles are wrong — I was looking at the wrong thing.  Per google maps, the journey was 3112 miles!

Beautiful Garden, Family Home, Pennsylvania, August 2009

My Four California Plants on the Porch with other Family Plants, Pennsylvania, August 2009






























My journey ends.

My Journey, California to Pennsylvania, July 2009. Part 2 of 3, Santa Fe to Oklahoma

In July 2009 (this year) I left my beloved California and moved to Pennsylvania. I wrote about leaving California in my blog post “Leaving My California” – https://amarez.com/2009/07/19/leaving-my-california/

My first travel post describes my journey from California to Sedona –  https://amarez.com/2009/12/05/my-journey-california-to-pennsylvania-july-2009-part-1-of-3-from-california-to-sedona/.  After Sedona, I drove east to Santa Fe, New Mexico, continuing my journey to Pennsylvania.  I’m including my tweets (twitter posts), from that time.

July 22, 2009.   Rolled into Santa Fe several hours ago. Hotel is great. Will explore tomorrow.

July 22, 2009.   Note to self – drive from Sedona to Santa Fe, while spectacular, is rather long.

July 23, 2009.   Santa Fe – having green chili chicken tamales for dinner. Does it get any better than that? Santa Fe is a great place.

Downtown Santa Fe is small and very walkable.  Given the consistency of the architecture, one is tempted to think it’s too cute, too contrived, but it’s not, really.  Everything seems to fit.  Given the high elevation, it’s very comfortable in summer, though I made sure to drink plenty of water.  It was nice to just wander around.  I want to come back.

San Miguel Church, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2009. Oldest Church in the US.

Street Scene, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2009. I sat under the umbrella and drank a lemonade.

Street Scene, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2009

Tia Sophias, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2009. Santa Fe style Mexican breakfasts, incredibly wonderfully good.






















































After Sedona and Santa Fe, I had no specific places I wanted to see.  I took the most direct highway route northeast.

This is from a highway rest stop, the Llano Estacado, or “Staked Plain”, a large mesa straddling New Mexico and Texas.  A “mesa” is an elevated area of land with a flat top and steep sides (thanks to wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesa, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llano_Estacado).  The sense of distance was amazing.

Llano Estacado from Highway Rest Stop, Texas, July 2009
























July 24, 2009.   In Amarillo for the night. Listened to a really good alternative music station on the way into town. Swam in the hotel pool.

July 25, 2009.   Light travel day.  I’m in Oklahoma.

July 26, 2009 (posted this tweet after I left Oklahoma).  Favorite highway sign on I44 east – Oklahoma area – do not drive into smoke. What kind of fires do they have in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, I ended up briefly on Route 66, the famous US highway which ran from Chicago to Los Angeles, started in 1926, paving completed in 1938. (http://www.legendsofamerica.com/66-Mainpage.html)   I stopped at a fantastic commemorative rest stop.  You can also see views of the Oklahoma plains.

Route 66 Commemorative Rest Stop, Oklahoma, July 2009

Tile Picture, Route 66 Rest Stop, Oklahoma, July 2009

Oklahoma Plains



























































In my next blog post, I head on to Missouri.

My Journey, California to Pennsylvania, July 2009. Part 1 of 3, from California to Sedona

In July 2009 (this year) I left my beloved California and moved to Pennsylvania.  I wrote about leaving California in my blog post “Leaving My California” – https://amarez.com/2009/07/19/leaving-my-california/

I drove across country, from California to Pennsylvania, keeping people updated (mostly) via twitter.  Thinking about what I wanted to see the most, I picked Sedona, Arizona and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  So, south from Palo Alto on Highway I5, stopping off at Gorman, California, as I always stop there on my way to Santa Monica.  Then, east through the desert to Sedona, Arizona, east again to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and northest to Pennsylvania.   I’m not a long distance drive and I stopped for two days, twice.  So, around 3000 miles, in 13 days.  Here’s the journey.  I’ll include my tweets — twitter posts.

My Apartment Pool, Palo Alto, California. I loved this pool.

Courtyard of my apartment complex in Palo Alto. I could not take the two trees I was growing, in pots.

Some plants from my container garden. Four plants made the journey with me.


Google Map of My Tip, July 2009





























































































July 20, 2009.  I5 to Gorman, California. Very hot. Econo Lodge kept the chandelier from the former Caravanseri Motel!   

Econo Lodge Hotel, Gorman, California, July 2009. They kept the chandelier from the Caravanseri Motel.































Drove east through the Mojave Desert, on to Arizona, highway through the desert.  Lots of space.  It was very hot.  The Mojave desert had a stark beauty.  Continued on through the Arizona desert, which was beautiful.

Mojave Desert from the Highway Rest Stop, California, July 2009

Arizona Desert, West of Sedona, July 2009
















































July 21 , 2009. From what I’ve seen in the dark, Sedona looks like all kinds of wonderful, my kind of place.

July 21, 2009. Looking forward to actually seeing the red rocks of Sedona, tomorrow, as I head out of town.

July 22, 2009.  Eating breakfast (huevos rancheros, yum) at a cute place down the street. The red rocks of Sedona are everywhere – dramatic, beautiful.

View of Red Rocks, Sedona, Arizona, July 2009

Tile Picture, Kaiser's West Restaurant, Sedona, Arizona, July 2009. Great Breakfasts

View of Red Rocks of Sedona as I Leave Town, Sedona, Arizona, July, 2009






























































Next Blog Entry, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and east.

My California – Lily of the Nile

Lily of the Nile plants, Agapanthus, are very common in the San Francisco Bay area.  Originally from South Africa (one of five Mediterranean climates in the world, like coastal California) they do well here.  They take to rainy winters with moderate temperatures (no freezing) and dry summers with no rain, the weather of coastal California. The plants are large, with a waterfall of green leaves year round and beautiful large clumps of flowers in the spring and summer.  Lily of the Nile flowers comes in shades of white and a beautiful blue purple color.  I love the blue purple ones.
                             
The plants have been popular in California for decades, used extensively in landscaping public spaces and private gardens.  In the late spring and summer, they form rivers and pools of blue.  The masses of blooms remind me of water.

Two links:

http://plantfinder.sunset.com/sunset/plant-details.jsp?id=128

http://playinginthedirt.ca/2008/07/27/green-thumb-sunday-agapanthus/

I took these photos in July 2009, before my move.  The road is Oregon Expressway in Palo Alto, at dusk.  I have trouble photographing the flowers well, given my casual photography skills, but this may give you an idea of how magical they are.   The Lily of the Nile blooming season is a part of My California.

         

Lily of the Nile, Oregon Expressway, July 2009

Lily of the Nile, Oregon Expressway, July 2009

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lily of the Nile at Dusk, July 2009

Lily of the Nile at Dusk, July 2009

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                    
 
                                                                                                                                               
                      
         
Lily of the Nile and the road, July 2009

Lily of the Nile and the road, July 2009