Fans of the show Fringe will recognize this building as the Fringe Division headquarters in alternate universe (the one with the hotter redheaded, cargo-pants wearing version of Olivia). I’ve admired the building during every location shot and finally decided to look it up to see if it is a real building or if it’s computer generated (all too easy to do these days). I was happy to discover that it’s a real building, though it is not in NYC as in the show (at least not in this universe). It’s actually the Vancouver Public Library. Amazingly, the people of Vancouver were given a few choices for the library project and chose this beautiful and radical design over more conventional ones. Obviously modeled after the Roman Colosseum ruin, it manages to be modern and classical at the same time. The interior views are just as spectacular, since the library itself is a 9-story rectangular building that is surrounded by the elliptical outer wall that connects to the building on the east side with glass to enclose a spacious concourse.

Echoes of Albania

April 16, 2012

My old defunct blogspot blog is still online, and every once in a while it gets a hit. Oddly enough, these hits are usually the result of a google search for the village of Zemblak, Albania where my father grew up. So I decided to end my little hiatus from this blog (been busy finishing up the game and making websites and such for it) by posting a bunch more pics and some info about the village.

  

  

These photos were taken during our trip in 2008. The roads in the village are packed dirt but are in good condition. Walls enclose many of the houses and yards. At my uncle’s house there is a large grapevine upon entering the gate that provides a cool and shady spot in addition to delicious grapes. A vegetable garden also resides inside the walls. The village is on the slope of the mountains and a short hike allows a great view of the whole village. These days many of the houses seem to be empty. Younger people are leaving the agricultural life and are being drawn to the cities, whether to nearby Korce or the bigger northern cities of Durres or Tirana.

South of Silicon

April 2, 2012

I’ve noticed a pull on me towards Paris for the last year or so, but lately I’ve also started being pulled west. I’ve never been to California and it’s vying to be my next destination. I have zero interest in Los Angeles so northern California would be my target. In the map to the left I’ve highlighted two prominent valleys in the area. In purple is Silicon Valley, and in Yellow is Salinas Valley of John Steinbeck fame. Salinas Valley has nearly ideal farming conditions for a number of crops including  lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, and broccoli, leading to the valley’s nickname “America’s Salad Bowl.” Floral crops and wine grapes also thrive in the 90 mile corridor, however.

Most of my travel inclinations are fueled by literature (though The Brothers Karamazov didn’t really give me the urge to travel to Russia – Dostoyevsky isn’t nearly as descriptive of places as Steinbeck) so the book I read after this one could help shape any future travel plans. I’m sticking with classics for a while, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (a book about the cathedral and not the bell ringer as the title implies) is on my Kindle and ready to go to nudge me back towards Europe. And a recent podcast about the Bronte sisters has put Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in the queue as well. But I doubt that either of those will be influential sinceI have little inclination to go to England because of the weather.