Archive for the ‘History’ category

Mont Saint-Michel breakfast tray

June 22, 2011

My fiance just got me a breakfast tray for my b’day (I’ve wanted a breakfast tray for a long time). He ordered it from WardMaps on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, and had them print a photo of Mont Saint-Michel on one side. Boy do I love it.

P.S. I visited Mont Saint-Michel (it’s in northern France) about nine years ago. I went there by myself and would really like to show it to my fiance/anyone else who’d like to come along.

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I saw The King’s Speech last night

April 1, 2011

I only have a minute, so I’ll just provide my initial thoughts. The King’s Speech was a great movie but I don’t think it should have won the best-picture Oscar this year. The story was too simple/predictable.

What I liked:

  • The acting. Colin Firth exhibited an amazing fake stutter (he played the king), and Helen Bonham Carter charmed as the supportive wife (she’s always good, though). Geoffrey Rush played the king’s speech therapist; I really appreciated his believable portrayal of such an intriguing character (the speech therapist is real tough on the king while having lots of faith in him).
  • That the movie is based on a true story. I had been unaware that King George VI had a severe speech impediment and that he only became king because his older brother, Edward VIII, had to abdicate the throne (for proposing marriage to a divorced American socialite). Edward VIII only ruled for 11 months, making his reign the second-shortest in English history.
  • The music. The renowned Alexandre Desplat composed the majority of the film’s music, and let me say it stays with you (in a good way). I’ve had the lighthearted piano theme song in my head all day.
  • The cinematography. They are some great shots in this movie. For example, when the king and his speech therapist are walking through the fog-filled park, or when the speech therapist is making his way down the lengthy main aisle of the Westminster Abbey.

What I didn’t like:

  • Much of the story is very predictable. I guess it’s the nature of this type of movie, but you pretty much know that the king’s speech is going to be improved. I guess the mystery, though, lies in how he’s going to get there; not the end result.
  • Some of the characters are too vanilla. With the exception of the speech therapist, I felt like the characters were pretty one-dimensional. For example, some were portrayed as highly immoral while others where depicted as extremely upstanding citizens. I don’t think this is the fault of the actors, but rather the screenwriters. Then again, maybe back then things were more black and white.

Going to Charleston, South Carolina? Then stay at The Anchorage Inn

March 25, 2011

I already mentioned that my fiance surprised me by booking a room at The Anchorage Inn in Charleston, South Carolina instead of the Days Inn. Well, I find it necessary to expand upon the awesomeness that is The Anchorage Inn. Until last week I’d never stayed at quite a place. Let me list some of the bed and breakfast’s notable characteristics.

  • The inn is on Vendue Range in the heart of Charleston’s historic district. Not to mention it’s just steps from a fountain, park, pier, and Charleston Bay.
  • The Anchorage Inn is affordable. According to my fiance, it’s just $20 per night more expensive than the Days Inn. It’s funny because the other hotels on Vendue Range are much pricier. Sure, they might have doorkeepers and valets, but if you can do without those frills The Anchorage Inn will save you major moolah.
  • The inn takes you back in time. Originally built as a cotton warehouse around 1840, the building is furnished with handcrafted reproductions of seventeenth century English decor (the area was settled by the English in 1670).

This picture shows some of the sitting room's decor.

A lamp in our room

  • Staff are friendly. There’s always someone sitting at the front desk, ready to answer any questions you may have. Our first day in Charleston a young man helped us figure out which beach to visit. In fact, he firmly suggested we check out Folly Beach and the nearby Morris Island Lighthouse. We appreciated his assurance, especially because the outing proved wonderful.
  • Daily breakfasts are included in the price. Breakfast is served between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.; meal items include orange juice, grapefruit juice, coffee, cereal, fruit, yogurt, bagels, biscuits and gravy, danishes, and muffins.

Biscuit with gravy

  • Daily wine and cheeses are included in the price. This was one of my favorite parts of the vacation. Each day, starting at 4 p.m., the inn served complimentary wine (red and white), cheese (including cheddar, jalapeno cheddar, and Swiss cheese), and crackers. As we enjoyed our food and drink in the sitting room, we conversed with Anchorage Inn guests from all over the country and even world (e.g. we met a couple from England and a woman from Malaysia). We made so many new friends.

Wine and cheese table

  • Nightly sherries are included in the price. Every evening, from 8 to 11 p.m., the hotel provides sherry for its guests. Either before or after dinner you can stop by the sitting room, enjoy a glass (or two) of the cordial, and chat with anyone else who happens to stop by. Although these weren’t as popular as the wine and cheeses, we highly enjoyed them.

Enjoying my sherry

In short, be sure to stay at The Anchorage Inn if you’re ever traveling to Charleston!!!

Some thoughts on how the Internet has shaped my life

February 15, 2011

It’s so weird to think that the Internet didn’t exist (at least on a mass scale) when my friends and I were born. With the onset of this technology, we’ve truly witnessed a revolution in how people get information and communicate. Facebook posts, Twitter updates, and Google searches have become second nature for many people. Today I was thinking about the excitement with which I first greeted the Internet. I remember in ninth grade my parents bought America Online for my sister and I to use.

America Online guy

I had heard about this novel World Wide Web idea, and even had some friends who used the Prodigy online service provider (including my sixth-grade crush who used it to communicate with another girl in our class…I was so jealous of this chica!). I installed the AOL CD-ROM, created my username (I can’t remember the first one but know that at one point it was “Amalthea66.” Amalthea after the “Last Unicorn” character, and 66 because my favorite number was 6.), filled out my profile, and started visiting chat rooms. To me, chat rooms were the coolest thing about the Internet.

I remember visiting some rooms that were game-based (e.g. users played anagrams together), others specifically for teenagers, and others promoting “general conversation.” Each time, I had a blast. I would ask people where they lived, what they did for fun, and whether they had siblings. Not only did I think it was awesome you could converse with multiple people simultaneously, and meet people from all over the country, but I also liked how the Internet made everyone equal. It didn’t matter what you looked like, what you had done in the past, or whether you were shy in real life. You started each conversation with a blank slate. (more…)

Asmara: A restaurant where it’s OK to eat with your hands

November 28, 2010

I joined some friends for a meal at Asmara Restaurant in Cambridge’s Central Square the other night. I thought the restaurant was Ethiopian, but upon conducting some research I learned it’s Eritrean. In 1992, following 30 years of war with Ethiopia, Etritrea became an independent country. Though the two countries have the same cuisine and culinary traditions, this restaurant has ties with Etritrea. Asmara is actually the capital of Etritrea.

We all had mango juice to drink. It was so tasty and refreshing! And it went well with some of the spicy dishes we sampled. We actually ordered a large platter with numerous meat and veggie dishes.  The “meat combination” was called Sega Bebaynetu and included:

  • boneless chicken
  • spicy lamb
  • sautéed beef
  • mild vegetable stew
  • mild lentils
  • a house special salad

The “vegetable combination” was called Ahimilti Bebaynetu and included:

  • cabbage
  • yellow split peas
  • spinach
  • chick peas
  • lentils
  • tomato salad

It was awesome to have such a variety of foods at our disposal. You eat everything with your fingers with bread called Injera (made out of rice flour). It’s just like a sponge, soaking up sauces and flavors.

For dessert my friend Katie and I had some Etritrean coffee (it was similar to Turkish coffee– very strong with coffee grounds you’re not supposed to drink at the bottom). Here’s a picture of Katie enjoying her beverage:

The mango juice, food, and coffee cost me about $35 with tax and tip. Kind of expensive, but everything was very good.

A visit to Norwich University

October 19, 2010

My boyfriend’s brother attends Norwich University, a military college in Northfield, Vermont. This past weekend we visited him. Here are some pics:

This is a picture of a competition between juniors and seniors over who could disassemble a cannon, bring its parts across a field, and reassemble it first. The winning team got to fire its cannon. It was pretty fun to watch. By the end everyone was quite tired from running back and forth. It also seemed like a challenge for them to put the parts back together. I mean, they pretty much knew what to do but at one point the juniors (who actually won) got held up by a misplaced part.

Here’s a picture of the juniors about to win:

We visited the Sullivan Museum and History Center on campus. They had an impressive collection of new and old war artifacts. Here’s a large highway sign depicting Saddam Hussein that was taken from Baghdad in 2000. The text beneath the image reads “Saddam Hussein, Great Leader, Great People.”

Other artifacts included a piece of Adolph Hitler’s desk, Benito Mussolini’s phone, and a swastika armband. I learned that M&Ms were invented in 1941 for American soldiers. They needed a shell-covered chocolate snack that wouldn’t melt in their pockets.

I also learned that Norwich’s founder, Alden Partridge, would travel around the region, speaking about the importance of higher education and a well trained military. He would charge men to see him speak, but women would get in for free. That’s pretty sweet, huh? I guess it’s the old version of women getting into bars and dance clubs for free. Maybe Partridge was trying to meet a wife this way.

Speaking of women and the military, we saw an awesome photo exhibit in the Sullivan Center depicting different aspects of World War II. One of the photos showed a YMCA dance (in the New York City area) that had been held for soldiers on temporary war leave. The caption stated that girl “volunteers” attended the event to guarantee the soldiers had a good time. Organizers made sure that there were two of them for every soldier. Not a bad deal for the soldiers, huh?

We also watched the Norwich vs. Husson University (in Bangor, Maine) football game. Norwich crushed Husson, 52-7. Here’s a picture of Norwich freshmen soldiers-in-training (they’re called rooks) doing leg lifts during the game:

It was pretty funny seeing the rooks do various exercises (including push-ups) whenever Norwich did something good.

Right next to the football field is a giant anchor dedicated to the Navy and Marines. I’m not sure if it was actually used on a ship.

Josh Billings had some great quotes

September 15, 2010

I just learned about a late writer and philosopher who came up with some great sayings. His pen name was Josh Billings (real name was Henry Wheeler Shaw), and he lived from 1818 until 1885.

His writings and lectures were apparently very popular during his lifetime. Some even compared him to Mark Twain.

I can already see why he was so appreciated. Here are some of my favorite quotes of his:

“One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness.”

“There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.”

“Friendship is like earthenware, once broken it can be mended. Love is like a mirror, once broken that ends it.”

“Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.”

“Love looks through a telescope; envy, through microscope.”

And my favorite, duh-duh-duh:

“Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first.”

I love the way that man’s mind worked!!! I totally agree!