Weekend trip to Philadelphia: Urban design highlight

We took a trip to Philadelphia (via Amtrak — woo!) over the summer. There were a lot of cool things in Philadelphia, like Amish pretzels, but I wanted to highlight the charming alleys. They’re residential streets with historic row houses.

The highlight is how narrow the alleys are. Technically, they’re wide enough to drive a car down but they’re so narrow that drivers have to go just about walking speed and there is nowhere to park. They are through streets, but the width keeps drivers from wanting to use them so they remain useful (and safe) for pedestrians and cyclists.

These old streets are really nice to use and the old houses give them extra charm.

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Sadly, streets like these can’t be built under modern road design requirements. (Perhaps private streets with this design would be allowed.)

Philly also has lots of street art. In an effort to reduce graffiti, the city funds murals and mosaics.

A trip to the Cloisters

My parents visited us in New York around Christmas last year. For one of our outings, we went to the Cloisters in Washington Heights.

Fort Tryon park is a little hilly.

The museum is an assortment of old European art and architecture that some guy imported. At that time (late 1800s through the 19-aughts), there were a bunch of old abandoned and half fallen-down monasteries and churches that no one was using. I assume people would be more interested in them now, but maybe there are just soooo many old religious buildings in Europe that these would still be considered dregs.

The collector assembled all of the partial monasteries into one eclectic building.

They had an amazing collection of Medieval tapestries. Besides being dyed entirely with natural dyes (!!) and being handmade, this style and era of tapestry is particularly known for portraying real plants with a lot of detail.
From a series about hunting a unicorn. Lots of flower species depicted.
Good view of the Hudson River.
European-style herb garden in the courtyard of one of the monasteries.

It’s a good place to take your parents 🙂

Bay Area adventures with my dad!

My dad visited J and me this past fall in California. Unfortunately, he bowed out of staying with us, and didn’t get to experience that studio life!! But we did a number of other fun activities.

Fixing the sofa with dental floss was just one part of getting ready for the visit.
Indian pizza with my dad and friend A.
Peach Dutch baby (fondly called “the big pancake” in my family) for breakfast, recipe courtesy of my mom. We were too ambitious with the peaches – these are supposed to puff a lot more than this usually… I’ll post the recipe on here sometime and y’all can try it out.
Hangar One, completed in 1933, at the Moffett Field Historical Society Museum. Lots of airplanes, old military uniforms, scale models of stuff, etc. There were a lot of interesting older buildings at the airfield. With more time, it would’ve been fun to walk around. Mysteriously, Carnegie Mellon also has an outpost here.
The underside of the Golden Gate bridge!! As seen from Fort Point.
Lighthouse!
Fancy dim sum restaurant! This is Koi Palace in Daly City. J heard about it from… somewhere. It’s supposed to be really good. We got there pretty early in the morning and briefly had to wait in line.
Some hiking~
We got rid of some bad lamps at Goodwill and picked up a new-to-us one! It’s made by Stiffel, my dad’s favorite lamp company. Apparently they’re normally quite expensive ($300) – we got this one for $25!
We also saw this cute replacement shade 🙂
Ate at Original Joe’s, a kinda fancy Italian place in SF.

We went to Santa Cruz and saw some old mission buildings. The actual mission was partially destroyed in a mid-1800s earthquake and replaced by another church. A replica was built in 1931. The only original building was used as housing for Native Americans.

New York: A Dash of Dashi

Friend J, N, and I went to the Japan Society to learn the secrets of making dashi.

N asked the presenter where to buy high quality bonito for making dashi. Turns out that the secret supplier is Amazon.

They gave us sample of three types of dashi: kelp, bonito, and mushroom. Only the bonito one tasted like anything to me. Some salt would have been nice.

The Japan Society seemed pretty nice. They offer Japanese classes there too!

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)

Friend J (not pictured) took us to Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao in Flushing, it was pretty good!

The titular Xiao Long Bao.

Shanghai Pan Fried Noodles.

Mapo tofu.

Scallion pancake with sliced beef. This one was really amazing!

Sweet soy milk. I really liked it, although N and friend J didn’t seem to agree. I’d come back just for this.

Lotus leaf sticky rice. Unfortunately it seems like the restaurant forgot we ordered this one, and when we asked about it they rushed it out while it was still frozen. But we took it back and had it for breakfast later. Still pretty good.

NYC+Boston Trip

N and I had an exciting trip to New York and Boston just recently. I flew in from the Bay Area and N took the train from Pittsburgh. Friend J very generously let us stay at his place in New York (thanks Friend J!).

I’ll try to post pictures about the places we visited over the next few {insert unit of time here}.

To start, here’s some photos from SFO.

I flew JetBlue this time around and got to see the international terminal at SFO. Turns out there a newly opened (in 2019) food court area with a sampling of hot SF restaurant destinations.

Kamin is a spin off of Kin Khao, a popular Thai place in SF (1802 reviews, 4 stars, wow). I was going to eat here, but unfortunately they closed while I was being indecisive about ordering.

Instead I got a pork bowl from Tacos Cala (a spin-off of Cala), which was pretty good!

There’s also a Tartine here (I’m sure you spotted it in the first picture). And the line is a lot shorter than in the Mission District.

Wow, look at those affordable prices. Only $8.29 for a matcha latte! (but don’t forget the oat milk)

Pittsburgh ahoy

As many of you know, I will be attending grad school for statistics in Pittsburgh. I arrived about a week ago and have since gotten all set up in my apartment!

I’ll give you a nice tour 🙂

Entryway with a walk-in closet on the left. Unfortunately, the light doesn’t have an on switch, so it’s pretty dark in there.

Dark 🙁

But convenient built-in shelves!

The main living area.

My office setup, from left to right: desk lamp, mobile desk containing office supplies, upright organizers (from the free pile at the university!) for mail and notebooks, backpack.

Kitchen with janky stove. It’s gas and has pilot lights lit all the time, so it’s about 90° in there, I measured.

Cutting board and stockpot from Goodwill!

Hallway off of the main room. To the right is the bedroom, to the left is a closet, and straight ahead is the bathroom. The apartment is on the corner of the building, so I get two walls of windows!

I sleep in here to distance myself from the very warm kitchen.

Made my mattress the other day. I had unstuffed it for easier shipping.

It’s a lot more comfortable than the makeshift sleeping pad I was using.

Previous bed: winter coat, duvet, with jacket as a blanket. Later layers included sheets, blankets, and towels.

The second closet, also with very nice built-in storage, containing all my clothes.

Bathroom! This room gets the best breeze, so when it was quite warm a few days ago, I would lounge in the bathtub and look out the window.

Pittsburgh is very appealing so far. My neighborhood is very walkable, has lots of fancy old houses, and has lots of buses. Plus the food coop, Goodwill, and Whole Foods are nearby 🙂

New hat

I lost my hat on the train back from LA a few months ago. 🙁

In my defense, I don’t usually lose things. I was distracted by another train passenger being disruptive. He had had the police called on him for “acting threateningly” towards an Amtrak employee. I was eager to disembark.

Me in my old hat (source).

The new hat is distinctly less cool, and cost $8, twice as much as the old one. At least it has a wider brim!

I look like a gardener now. Picture is from an ocean-side hike in spring.