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Monday, November 28, 2011


This fall I was lucky enough to make a trip I've always wanted to make.  To celebrate our 30th birthdays this year, three of my girlfriends and I decided we'd visit New York City (that's 120 years of life experience, for anyone who's counting).

I had never really visited the US.  Not for a proper trip.  There were a couple of half-hearted day trips across the border to Maine, but those don't really count.  So, it was time.

I have long been curious about NYC, given it's pervasive presence in pop culture.  I also have a few favorite blogs based in and around New York including A Cup of Jo, An Apple A Day, and Darling Dexter.  And who wouldn't want to hit the streets of Manhattan after watching a few episodes of Bill Cunningham - On The Street?  With my wardrobe, I know he'd spot me right away and probably do a whole video on me...

Anyway, on to some highlights of the trip!

We stayed in a New York hotel that's been around forever, the New Yorker.  It was very central, had great Art Deco styling and was quite clean.  Four people to a room was pushing it, but doable.

New Yorker Hotel

Because it was so close, we happened to hit Times Square almost every day.  Dundas Square in Toronto has nothing on this place.  It was constantly packed with people, no matter the time of day.

Times Square

Another iconic symbol of New York that we passed daily:

New York Times

On the top of my list of things to do in NYC was Top of the Rock, a trip to the top of Rockefeller Centre to see the whole of Manhattan.  The views were incredible!  Especially the one with all the cute girls in it.

Central Park

Empire State

Girls at the Top of the Rock

It was mid-November, so Rockefeller Plaza had the beginnings of its legendary Christmas display.  Like the massive Christmas tree - with six storeys of staging required for its decoration!


The rink was open as well.  There's something funny about a Zamboni in Manhattan.


After seeing how huge Central Park was, we had to go take a look.  We must have spent a couple of hours there and only covered less than a quarter of it.

Central Park

Central Park

The show we decided to see was a comedy that had won numerous Tonys: Avenue Q.  Sort of an existentialist/realist take on modern urban life.  Performed by puppets.  Here is a sample from the soundtrack.

Avenue Q

The Museum of Modern Art was another spot I couldn't miss.  Partially because of a special exhibit:  Plywood.

MoMA plywood exhibit

...and it's role in mid-century design, of course.  Not just plain old plywood, that would be weird.

For example:

Eames chair

Mmm, plywood.

Looking back at everything we did in the city, it's hard to believe we spent only three days there.  Yet, there is so much I'd like to go back and do!  So, the Big Apple is still on my list of "places to see".

Ok, I'm stopping this monster post right here.  There is a bit more NYC to come (NYC: The Food).  So stay tuned.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest we forget


I wouldn't call myself a military buff.  But I take Remembrance Day very seriously.  WWI and WWII were atrocities.  I think it is important to periodically revisit those horrible events.  It gives us perspective - war is atrocious, both for soldiers and civilians, and we should attempt to avoid it at all costs.

With that said, I'm proud of the roles Canadians (and Newfoundlanders, back then) played in the wars.  My grandfathers (pictured below) both served Canada, overseas or at home.

Papa O'Brien

[Henry O'Brien]

Grampy O'Connor

[Leonard O'Connor]

To me, the world wars had clear morally "good" and "evil" sides (at least with respect to the Holocaust).  Some of the armed conflicts ongoing today don't seem to be so clear cut.  My wish for 11/11/11 is that those countries involved in armed conflict will work diplomatically where possible to find meaningful solutions.  Ones that don't waste the lives of soldiers or civilians.