Monday, October 08, 2018

Seattle 2018 Trip

Huge shout out to my cousin Diana for being a fantastic host on my recent trip to Seattle. Feel free to use my travel notes as a guide for your future visitors (including myself!).


Starbucks Roastery (Seattle location), Capitol Hill)
I took a leisure walk to this place on my first full day. I ordered a coffee ((Pantheon 2018, pour over) and did some people watching (so much to see!). On my last day I went to the shop again and got some freshly roasted beans (also Pantheon). They of course also have food options, tons of coffee (made with your favorite brewing method) and plenty of Starbucks Reserve goodies. I can't wait for the NYC roastery to open up soon.

Seattle Center International fountain
Best place to enjoy a bit of sun (on those sunny days in Seattle, lucky me!) and people watching. and also a great place to snap a pic of the Space Needle.

I looked into the music a bit more when I was organizing my trip notes and found some great resources below:


KEXP tour (Seattle Center)
Having listened to KEXP live in studio performances podcast, I was intrigued by the station tour and also the setup of the space. They have a rotating coffee place and also a record store in the lobby. The tour was clearly well-advertised because we had people from all over the world (including Scotland and South Africa). I haven't watched too much of their youtube channel but it is also very popular around the world. The actual studio had glowing, pulsating blue LEDs that are surprisingly calm (note for my future lighting project, ha). I was really impressed with the massive CD library. Each CD also had personalized notes from the DJs. The collection is already being digitized and everyone was relieved to hear that the CD notes will also be scanned and stored as part of the effort. The space had a lot of neat artwork, this one showing the skyline of Seattle was my favorite.

Mount Rainier National Park (2 hours drive from downtown)
Earlier this summer I went to the Grand Canyon and caught the national park fever. Given Seattle is so close to several national parks, I had to visit one! After searching, I found a tour group called Evergreen Escapes and went on a small group tour to Mt Rainier.

We got lucky with the weather and had possibly one of the best days ever for hiking. We were surrounded by beautiful colors of the fall and also amazing old growth trees/forests. I'm glad I took this tour closer to the beginning of my trip (since I traveled from East coast and still woke up at 3am on my first few days in Seattle). The tour specs included a round trip from downtown in a comfortable van. Our tour guide also provided water, snacks, and lunch so we didn't have to bring much. I would definitely do this same trip (perhaps a diff season) and other outings with this company again.

Underground Tour (Pioneer Sq)
I went on this highly recommended tour when I first went to Seattle but my cousin Diana hasn't experienced it yet (because tours are for tourists, not locals)! We joined a bunch of people during a weekend session and had fun walking around underground and looking for purple glass (skylights).  If you go on this tour, you will be causing sidewalk traffic jams like proper tourists. I enjoyed the storytelling part of the tour more so than the so-called 'relics' and 'artifacts' but decide for yourself! 

Theo Chocolate Factory Tour (Fremont)
On the last full day of my trip, I woke up to a gray and rainy day. I skipped my plans for the zoo/garden and ventured out to Fremont for a chocolate factory tour instead. The tour gave a description of the bean to bar process, a peak inside the factory through clear observation room, and of course chocolate samples. I picked up some bars at the store afterwards.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

2018 Summer Recap

I dug out my old canon digital camera this summer and took it with me on several trips. After several trips and months, I finally got around to organizing the photos and took the opportunity to recap some of my trips and memories. These listings are not quite as detailed as some of my previous travel logs/trip reviews but I figured it's best to be brief and give my readers just the highlights.

Grand Canyon, Arizona 

(by scenic drive from Phoenix and through Sedona and Flagstaff)
I had a great time travelling with a large group of relatives. Some highlights are the tea lounge in Flagstaff (be patient and get some of their fresh brewed ice teas) and sunset pink jeep tour of Grand Canyon . I enjoyed the music museum in Phoenix, too.

Governors Island, NYC 

(by ferry from Manhattan BMB, 8 minutes)
Go enjoy the sunset on extended Fridays and Saturdays. Rent a bike from bike rental place or get a Citibike pass for travelling around the island. Have some ice cream from blue marble ice cream (the main booth in food court takes credit card, the small cart is cash only). The oyster bar is a great place to party and enjoy the sunset skyline views. There is also a bbq near Brooklyn docks (cash only) that offers tasty chicken sausages and grilled chicken sandwiches. I had the DUB pies truck during a movie night but sadly they are not part of the regular food truck lineup.

Read more after the break...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Meditation Overview and App Guide

I've taken up meditation this year and have introduced it to several people who enjoyed the practice. Below is a list of meditation references for those interested in getting to know meditation through self-practice. To add more color and zen to this post, I've added some photos I've taken around NY and Jersey City.

battery park sculpture

Equinox meditation (free, great for beginners): I didn't download the app. Right on that website, they have short 10 minute sessions for different times of the day.

  • Rise (waking up, early morning) 
  • Recharge (refresh, good for late morning or maybe afternoon when you're aching for coffee but should actually take a walk and listen to this instead)
  • Unwind (great for coming back from work or maybe a workout)
  • Sleep (listen and relax before going to sleep). Once you go through all 4 sessions in some combination for a week, you'll build up good habits to incorporate this practice into your daily routine. this site offers a lot of reading and resources. If you haven't read any books by Thich Nhat Hanh, you should check them out at the library or your favorite bookstore. 

Mobile Apps (Google and AppleStore)
Meditation studio ($3.99 one time fee): they have intro as well as themed collections. so you can quickly pick up a theme like "dealing with stress" or "relax before sleep" or even body scan. You can also filter by type of meditation and length of the session. I like exploring different teachers and then looking up their other meditation sessions. Two teachers I have enjoyed are Chodo Campbell and Elisha Goldstein. This app links to the Mindfulness section of Apple Health.

Calm (free for limited meditation, subscription for more): good background music and some free guided meditation. If you subscribe, you get a nice library of guided meditation as well as a daily themed meditation. I also like their calendar for tracking your meditation time so it's encouraging to keep up with the daily routine. You can add outside meditation sessions to the app by using their "add a session" function. I've been tracking Yoga classes there. This app also links to the Mindfulness section of Apple Health. After trying this for free for a few months, I signed up for an annual subscription when they were running a promotion. If you are interested in signing up, I can send you a referral.

ship near Liberty State Park

Relax Melodies (free for limited sound library, paid for more and also meditations): Mostly music and some free meditation as well. I like the playlists you can build from sound blocks. Enjoy rain and city sounds and the ocean? You can make it into your own sound playlist. Timer for exiting the app is also helpful when you want to drift off to sleep but don't want the app running all night. Unfortunately it doesn't link to your health app for the meditation sessions so you have to track it separately.

In Person Resources
Besides some meditation before and after yoga class, I have not been to a meditation class in person. There are a lot of different resources in NY and Jersey City so feel free to try them and see if they are helpful for you.

Lower Manhattan seen on top of ferry

Where to try meditation (besides your home)

  • Neighborhood Park. I love Van Vorst Park for this, especially when it's raining lightly (bring an umbrella) or when it's early morning, right before the crowds get to the playgrounds.
  • Beach (or even the waterfront just to hear sound of water)
  • Friend's apartment or house. Offer to take a break together if you're doing a game night or cooking food.
  • Before, during, and after music practice. Good for clearing your mind, practicing breathing, and reflecting on your intentions for your group (or even playing solo in a practice room).
  • Quiet corner of an art museum or botanical garden

Van Vorst Park Fountain

Try it out and enjoy!

Ship and State of Liberty