Sunday, March 19, 2017

Western Tour: Part the First

So, as we are sometimes wont to do this time of year, my husband and I took off to visit spring in the southwest.  This year, we decided to take some extra time and see some of the western national parks, something we've been wanting to do for a while, and just hadn't gotten a round tuit.

But as we so often do, we started in Dallas, at the North Texas Irish Festival.  I can't recommend this festival highly enough- flights to Dallas are inexpensive, the hotel rates are reasonable, and the festival tickets are a bargain- for the price of a single concert you get an entire weekend of music on multiple stages.    For example:

While this piece isn't especially Irish, this is an example of the caliber of musician we saw- we've seen this couple a number of times over the years, and they are never less than brilliant.  They play in both the Celtic and swing styles- this is an original piece Chris composed in swing style.

(Okay, if you're thinking this looks hard?  You're wrong.  Professional musicians think this is really really hard.  For the rest of us it's inhumanly insanely impossible.)

Aside from that, we strolled around Fort Worth, ate Mexican food, caught up with musical friends we only see at the festival and generally had a great time.  Fort Worth was sunny and warm, and we took in the water park there:

As well as strolling along the river.  We also discovered this:
Yes, it's the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center
According to the internet it was named after a longtime district attorney, and not the actor.

The Monday after the festival, we embarked for Las Vegas, eager to see its greatest attractions!   Remembering that we're geeks, can you guess?  If you thought Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, you'd be absolutely correct!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Not Much and Altogether Random

Thoughts for the day:

  • I have to wonder about Jake.  He licked my bowl completely clean after dinner.  He's the only cat I know who loves spaghetti sauce.
  • I just finished "Night Drive" by folksinger Garnet Rogers, reminiscences about touring with his brother Stan in the 70s.  I enjoyed it a lot- it's well written, and parts were funny, and sad and nostalgic.  Also there is more alcohol consumed in this book than in the entire city of Las Vegas in year.  It's amazing they didn't kill themselves.
  • My husband is currently attempting to conquer the galaxy*.  This happens a lot around here.  
  • I have discovered why the person knitting the baby afghan gave it away.  After the first couple of strips, the charm starts to wear off.  But I am determined to finish. 
  • This may be why I volunteered to knit some adult mittens in bulky yarn.  I'm really feeling the yearning for FOs right now.    
  • I've hardly touched the sweater lately, despite wanting to finish it and wear it.  I may have to take drastic action**. 
  • About the only thing that did get completed this week is taxes.  It helps to hire someone else to do them.
  • Obligatory cat pictures.  Because this post needs something to redeem it.
Cookie and Jake snuggling.

Biscuit is helping organize the tax paperwork.

* Playing Eclipse online. 
**Project monogamy.  Though I'm not certain I'm able....

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Weekend Getaway

This past weekend we took the train down to New York City, for no special reason, except that there are a lot of things we enjoy about visiting the city.   There's the walking around and checking out the scenery, such as City Hall Park.

There's the food.  Traditional NYC deli food at the Second St. Deli.

There's the bookstore (best slogan seen there;  "Make America Read Again!"), and the more food.  In this case, really excellent meatballs.

There are the really gorgeous buildings. 

And, of course, museums.   Saturday was pretty nice for February- dry and about 45°F (7.2°C for my Canadian friends).  But there was still a lot of slush on the streets, and we had planned for more indoor pastimes than outdoor.   We went to see an exhibit on the history of zoning in the city at the Museum of the City of New York.  Much of it was a lesson in unintended consequences and misplaced incentives.  Such as efforts to get builders to include public space in their planning which resulted in dozens of giant towers sitting in the middle of ugly bare plazas. 

We went to see the Cuba exhibition at the Museum of Natural History, and while we were there also took in the disturbing but inspiring exhibit Countdown to Zero, talking about the efforts to eradicate various diseases.  The Cuba exhibition was split between a rather superficial look at the people and history- the oppressive nature of the government there was soft-pedaled considerably- and a rather more interesting look at the native flora and fauna, including many species that are found only on Cuba.  I highly recommend it.  

Sunday it was colder and we dodged ice pellets in the morning, which turned to rain and finally drizzle as the day wore on. 

At the Met, we went to see the exhibit on Picturing Math, which featured a number of drawings and prints from the Met's collections.  We found it a bit uneven- many of the older prints were gorgeous.   Some of the modern pieces were interesting, others would not be out of place in a high-schooler's geometry homework (one who wasn't necessarily passing).  One of the more intriguing was a series of equations that were done as a collection by asking scientists and mathematicians to show the artist what they thought was the most beautiful equation.   That exhibit would have been better, I thought, if there had been some effort to explain the equations or represent them visually.   As an engineer, I recognized many of the equations, but didn't have the gut level understanding to appreciate their artistic qualities.   From the math exhibit, we just wandered- there was a spectacular photographic exhibit.  We lost ourselves in French 19th century paintings for a bit while tracking down the finished version of a sketch we'd seen in drawings exhibit. 

It was after that, we went to lunch, and to see the Skyscraper Museum, which is small but interesting to us geeky engineer types.  And then we finished up with a visit to Fraunces Tavern (where George Washington and his officers drank during the American Revolution), and a short visit to the NYC branch of the Museum of the American Indian.   We hadn't expecially planned that last, but it proved another interesting stop.   The building alone was worth the price of admission:
It's located in the Alexander Hamilton Customs House.  And we spent a pleasant hour in the Central American section before the museum closed and we headed off to our last dinner in the city.  After a certain amount of dithering, we decided on more deli food, and went to Katz's, and then waddled off to Penn Station in a stuffed condition. 

Somewhat to our relief, the train was on time, and we got back to Boston to find freezing rain in the city and snow-covered roads outside it.  So our weekend finished up at 1:30 AM Monday morning with us shoveling out a huge snowbank in front of the driveway so we could get the car into the driveway.   But it was a terrific weekend, and entirely worth it!  (There was lots of train knitting, so progress was made but nothing finished.)

And, the slideshow: