Seasonal Non-Affective Disorder

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This is Minnesota right now. We’ve had nearly 50 inches of snow near the Twin Cities, and it’s in the negative digits. Everyone is whining about the long, brutally cold winter, and yet, I am the strange one. Cold doesn’t bother me. Snow is only an issue if I have to commute. I like layers. I like “bundling up.” I love soup. I adore cute boots. And I never tire of the winter routine. Perhaps this Kansas girl is still in love with her adopted state. Just a guess.

Smack Shack

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Dear Husband and I didn’t want to be inside tonight. It’s lovely out. And Smack Shack in the North Loop of downtown Minneapolis has fried green tomatoes for these two non-meat eaters. Patio seating was the only requirement, which they have plenty of.

This is day 223 of Photo 365.

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando

Last week I attended a conference that was held at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando. If you have to be in Florida, enclosed inside a conference room for eight hours a day, the Hard Rock Hotel is the place to be. Every crack of the building oozes cool. Classic rock plays throughout the hotel 24/7. “Turn down” service consists of fresh linens and your television turned to old MTV videos.

After my meetings each day, I took a spin around the hotel to stretch my legs and look at the rock memorabilia hanging in each corner. Some of my Hipstamatic iPhone favorites included:

Cyndi Lauper dress

Eddie Vetter jacket (Pearl Jam)

Elvis is in the house!

Fountain at front entrance of Hard Rock Hotel

Cool, right? I just hope there are no hidden cameras inside the elevators, because I practiced a lot of new dance moves riding back and forth from the lobby to my room.

Venice goes digital

In October I sent 515 images to ScanCafe. I have two three-ring binders of very organized negatives and slide film, mostly of travel from nearly a decade ago that I want to save forever. Honestly? Most of the pictures are complete garbage, and that’s being nice. I can’t believe I took 13 pictures of a cliff side. Come on! Crashing waves aren’t that interesting. But I saved them all, fearful of deleting some sort of memory or place in time that I will never see again.

Of the 515 scans that now sit on my hard drive, the people of Venice, Italy are a favorite when looking back at what I had captured so long ago. The pictures made me realize that I’m not as adventurous with my camera as I used to be because I have developed an adult conscience. I’m too concerned about being nice and not offending and being respectful and not acting like someone who just points their camera at anything.

I have altered my photography because of limitations. Yes, I used to center everything instead of putting a picture into thirds, but I caught a few elements of life of Venice by not knowing the rules. Maybe in 2011 I need to remember to throw the rules out once in awhile.

10022

I struggled a little with this last installment about New York City because I didn’t want to talk about it at first. It’s not sexy. It’s not romantic. It’s about business.

When you work in the 10022 ZIP code, you are in the heart of Midtown East, home of Madison Avenue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Rockefeller Center is just one ZIP code over. Central Park and the Theater District are close by. But after a long day of meetings, taking a cab or walking far seems cumbersome. Staying in your postage stamp size room is also not an option. Okay bright lights, big city – NOW what?

Of all the places in Manhattan, Midtown East is what I know best. I stay in 10022 every time I’m in town and have learned where to find my favorite morning bialy (PAX on E. 51st and 3rd Ave) and which street cart has the freshest knish. If you are doing business in Midtown East and don’t want to walk 15 blocks for dinner or a drink, here are my favs close to most 10022 hotels.

NY Luncheonette: This diner gets mixed reviews on Yelp, but I love it. It’s not gourmet, it’s not expensive. It’s clean, has fast service and the food is hearty and good. If you don’t want to eat in a dull hotel restaurant, this little diner comes with New York flare. At lunch it’s full of office workers, so you may have to belly up to the old fashioned counter, but that seems like a prize, not a punishment. Tip – try the veggie burger, even if you’re not a vegetarian. It’s the size of your face and made with avocado. Delish. (E. 50th and Lexington)

Bill’s Gay Nineties: This is probably the first speakeasy I’ve ever been in, but that’s not what makes Bill’s glorious. The converted brownstone mansion has transformed the first level parlor into a piano bar. Narrow and dark, you can sit at the bar or at one of the few tables, if you’re lucky enough to find a seat. And jammed into the corner is an upright piano with a crooner belting out Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. Grab a martini and feel free to sing along. (E. 54th and Madison Ave.)

Dawat: If you’re a foodie who wants to have a reasonably priced meal in Midtown, Dawat is your spot for flavorful Northern Indian fare. Internationally acclaimed chef Madhur Jaffrey owns the establishment and avoids the traditional Indian feel with a more upscale atmosphere. Try the Dal or Masala dishes for a guaranteed party in your mouth. (E. 58th and 2nd Ave.)

Fusia Asian Cuisine: You may think Fusia is a mistake when you walk in. It has an any-man’s-Chinese-buffet feel about it, but when the beautifully decorated plates arrive and you take that first bite, you know it’s going to be okay. Wonderful flavors of hot, piping food await. (E. 56th and Lexington)

Pretty much anything you find on 2nd Ave. between E. 58th and E. 48th are going to have good food and atmosphere. There are tiny French bistros and Latin cafes that spill out on the sidewalk in the summer. There are Irish pubs, English pubs and sports pubs. The crowd is typically a mix of locals, internationals and business travelers, which makes for a pleasantly eclectic atmosphere.