Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Camping, sort of

Lots of exciting news in Astoria. They finally opened the Astoria Bookshop meaning we are no longer a neighborhood without an independent book store. Granted, I'm more of a library person, but they seem to have a lot of cool events, so I'm still excited about it. On a more personal note, this Astorian finally turned in her manuscript yesterday, so now I can finally get back to more important things, like writing about my camping trip last weekend. One of the reasons I was working so much the last two weeks is because I didn't want to have to worry about working on the weekend. Spending every waking hour in front of a computer also had the dual benefit of making me extra excited about spending two days blissfully computer free.

I should preface the rest of this post by saying that for my readers who are actual campers, our attempt at camping will seem kind of a joke. My friends and I (at least the ones on this particular outing) are of the more "sleeping in a rustic cabin" school of camping. Being out of the city in the great outdoors? Good stuff. Sleeping on the ground? Not so much. Our one room cabin came with thin camping mattresses (we provided linens), a mini fridge, and a fan (because yes, there was electricity). Nevertheless, we cooked over fires, were bitten by bugs, had to walk a few minutes to get to the camp site bathrooms, and didn't shower for two days, so it counts as camping in my book.

On Friday after work, we headed out of town for a drive into southern New Jersey. I wasn't quite aware how far south we were going until we passed Philadelphia and kept driving. I hadn't realized there was quite so much of New Jersey south of Philadelphia.
A view from the ride down. I know I go on and on about my new phone's camera, but this was taken through the window of a moving vehicle. I think that's pretty impressive. 
We arrived and settled into our rustic cabin. The campgrounds had a number of other amenities including a Sundae Barn that served breakfast (we gleefully enjoyed their non-New York prices and $1.49 breakfast special even if our eggs and toast were made in an open kitchen by young teens who looked arguably too young for employment), a swimming hole (for those who didn't stupidly forget their bathing suits), and a little camp store that sold all the ingredients for s'mores in handy packets tied together with twine.              
The rustic cabin from the outside. I promise, on the inside it looks much more like roughing it. 
Not really sure what's going on here, but I wanted to capture the cuteness of the inside of the Sundae Barn. We planned to go back for sundaes, but it never quite happened. 
Step 1 in the s'mores making process. Well Step 2 really, if you count building the fire.
 On Saturday, we discussed going for a hike as that seemed like a logical thing to do while on a camping trip. After I came back from the bathroom though, I found public opinion had shifted from hiking to going to Cape May. Having never been to the Jersey Shore, I was up for it. It turned out it didn't really matter that I had forgotten my bathing suit because it was far too windy and chilly to really feel like going for a dip. We had a nice time reading and relaxing on the beach though.

The boardwalk at North Wildwood.

I don't know if you can really read it, but this says "You are Now Leaving the Boardwalk of Fame and Happiness." I was tickled by that for whatever reason.
After our jaunt to the shore, we returned to base camp to build a fire and make some burgers. Which really concludes all I have to say about camping. Overall, it was a lovely and relaxing weekend and so nice to be away from work. We couldn't have asked for better weather. I came back refreshed and able to put the finishing touches on the book, which as mentioned before, is finally done. Still very excited about that.

Monday, August 19, 2013

And now my phone's take on art

If I had one photo to capture the summation of this weekend (a three-day one at that) it would be this: me with my back to the beautiful day, hunched over a laptop, reading about genocide. Nothing ruins a lovely, cloudless day quite like writing a few thousand words about the Holocaust. I'm still at work on that, so this will be another lame photo post. One the other hand, I discovered some random app on my phone that makes photos into drawings, so now we can really crank this thing up a notch.

At any rate, I did manage to get out of the house a few times. Once to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday with Turkish food and once to see the Woody Allen movie Blue Jasmine. If anyone else has seen it, I'm curious to hear what you thought. I though Cate Blanchett was awesome, but was not nearly as enthusiastic about the movie as a whole as the New York Times was. Now that I think of it, I guess I went out a few more times than that as I also met one of my oldest friends for coffee (she was in the city for a bachelorette weekend) and helped another friend volunteer out on Governors Island. Our job was ostensibly to educate people at the Jazz Age Lawn Party about what they could recycle and compost, but since everyone ignored our signs, it was mostly just traveling from each trash/recycling bank with our trash pickers and fixing their mistakes. We also attempted to dress in Jazz Age fashion for the occasion (which means I wore the same dress I did last time when I was not volunteering, but just a trash conscious lawn partier). I also tried to make finger waves with a curling iron because some chick on YouTube told me I could. It did not go well, as the large burn on my forehead will attest. Luckily, I found a large, floppy, not-at-all-anachronistic hat for $6, so I could hide my shameful attempt.

Actually, given all these diversions, it's kind of amazing I got anything done at all. With that said, here are some of the artistic achievements of my phone over the weekend:

The red velvet cake I made for Sam's mom. Those fuzzy alien blobs are raspberries. 

Magic and babydreams on Governor's Island. 

The hat, keeping my friend Kim at a safe distance. 
Elizabeth Cady Stanton once lived in this water colored home. I took this picture (or rather had my phone paint it...) at my mother's request. 
Now I suppose it's nose to the grindstone time. These words I'm writing right now could obviously benefit my overall word count if only they weren't so off topic.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The fancy phone sees all

I used to see a recurring post on some blogs that was "scenes from my iphone" or "iphone photos of the week." You know, very similar to my post of last week except with more Apple branding. I always thought it was kind of a lazy way to cobble together a post from a bunch of odds and ends that wouldn't really warrant one on my their own. In fact, I still think it's lazy blogging, but that doesn't mean I won't be doing it. After all, it worked okay on the last post. It won't be all the time mind you, but right now I'm working on a big writing project that deserves some attention, so this is the result. And after all, I might as well get some benefit out of paying a high phone bill now, other than ease in texting and a weird assortment of African drumming ringtones. At any rate, behold! A selection of technologically acquired photos from events over the past week:

Last Tuesday we went to David Burke Fishtail as our restaurant of choice (read: restaurant we could not otherwise afford) for restaurant week. It led to this moody shot taken with nothing but a Samsung Galaxy S3 and the light coming off a sconce, artfully dimmed by our waiter's head.

I feel like this could be a still from a Nicholas Refn movie. Or maybe a David Lynch film given that the water glass makes it look like Sam has 6 fingers. 
These are the kinds of beautiful things they bring you at expensive restaurants.
 On Wednesday, I went with some friends to see a movie at Socrates Sculpture Park, defiantly flouting the weather forecasts. We only made it through 2/3rds of the movie (a Domincan film Sugar which was surprisingly funny but in a way that made me think it would have a really depressing ending) before the rain caught us, but before it did we enjoyed a lovely picnic dinner. Well, not so much a dinner as a cheese feast, but who really needs other food groups?

One of my favorite installations at the sculpture park right now. Works in the rain. 

Note the ominous clouds over the movie screen. 
On Saturday, I went to a 90s themed birthday party because it's apparently been long enough that we can start to be nostalgic about it. If I were to dress as I actually did in the 90s, it would be almost entirely matching patterned skort and vest sets with things like vegetables and fish on them. Since they thankfully don't make such things in adult sizes, I went with another 90s classic. I'm also wearing a snap bracelet with peace signs on it, but even the keen lens of the phone couldn't capture its detail.
You also can't see that I'm wearing off-brand keds.
 Another plus of just throwing together a bunch of pictures from my phone together is that a good 50% of them are pictures of Dinah. And this blog could always use a few more pictures of Dinah.
This is one from her most regal series. 
 On Sunday, I needed a break from writing, so we decided to go to Long Island City to get lunch at the Food &Flea outdoor market and stop by PS1 on the way back. It is only in recent years that I discovered Astoria residents get into this MOMA off shoot for free, and I always forget to take advantage of that fact. Anyway, the below picture isn't one of the lovely images of my meatball sliders or my friend's fish taco, but is of the guy (very tiny in the back) who was playing live music. He played covers of Halle and Oates's "I Can't Go for That" and the Laverne and Shirley theme song with equal aplomb.
I mostly enjoy this picture because I like to think he is raising his hands in triumph not because he's finishing his set but because he saw me taking a photo of him on my awesome phone. 
 Every summer, PS1 does an outdoor installation in their main courtyard. This one nicely involved cold pools you could lounge in and water both misting and occasionally raining from above.

The outdoor installation at PS1

Sam. Lounging. 

They also had this indoor ecosystem inside the museum. They always do weird, site-specific stuff that I usually don't get, but at least it looks cool.

So that's pretty much my last week as told through things I bothered to take pictures of. Unrelated, but I submitted our wedding to the wedding blog that made all my planning possible, so check it out if you'd like to see the same wedding pictures but on a different blog. Also, if you happen to be planning a wedding at the moment, stay a little longer, because that site is awesome.

Monday, August 5, 2013

August scenes from a samsung

Welcome to August, readers! My month began with finally joining 2013 and getting a smartphone. I've been smartphone reluctant for a while now for the following reasons 1) I like being able to escape my email when I leave the house, 2) I enjoy feeling smugly superior to people on the subway constantly playing mindless games on their phones and missing out on all manner of opportunities for people watching, and 3) Somewhat negating all previous reasons: Sam has one, so I could use it whenever I needed to check my email in public or play a mindless game. I was worried if I got one I would become one of those people that's constantly behind their phone, updating their facebook status on something funny that was said at a dinner party while still at said dinner party, and generally seeing life through google glasses. Which would probably be a more poignant metaphor on the current state of affairs if those didn't already exist. 

Despite my reluctance, when Sam and I finally got on the same phone plan (as one of the last things on our "official married person" check list), the cost of getting a phone with actual functions was only slightly more. And truth be told, I'm worried the time I always talked of is arriving, where having a smartphone is now considered standard practice for the young office worker. I already miss my old phone's simple irrelevance, but the one thing I can truly say I'm excited about is having a decent camera on me at all times. While I don't want to be constantly seeing the world through the lens of my phone's camera, New York is kind of an interesting place. It's nice to be able to record little moments of interest and share them through the magic of unlimited texting or (depending on how interesting) on this blog. 

With that said, here's the first batch of pictures I've taken with my new phone. These are not particularly interesting, but keep in mind, it's only been a few days. Things should pick up soon. 
The first photo taken with my camera. While waiting for a friend at Penn Station. 

Long Beach! My first non-Thai beach experience of the summer. It was too cold to swim. 

One of the advantages of my having a camera is that now Sam will feature in my blog more. Here he is on a rainy day at the Met. 

Part of an exhibit at the Met with random snapshots of American life from one man's collection. This was my personal favorite. 

Other rainy day Met goers. 

A sunny day at the Astoria water front. 

I was told this was a food festival, but there was one guy giving out ice cream samples and no other sustenance to speak of. 

Not much to look at it, but this is absolutely my new favorite thing to do with zucchini (which we've had from the farm share in abundance as of late): 
Walking through McCarren Park after brunch with friends on Sunday we happened on a little boy giving away free kittens and stopped for a quick kitten cuddle. In retrospect, I thought perhaps I should have photographed the experience because really what's more idyllic than a cuddly orange kitten on a sunny day in the park? But I'm happy to report that there are no cute kitten pictures here because my natural instinct at the time was still to pet the kittens and not to reach for my phone. Will see how long this lasts. In the meantime, there are plenty of kitten pictures for your enjoyment in pretty much every other nook and cranny of the Internet. Enjoy!