Tuesday, October 06, 2015

11 Oct 2015: Symphony in the Park

You are cordially invited to this outdoor free concert.

Symphony in the Park
Performed by the NUS Symphony Orchestra
Date: 11 October 2015, Sunday
Time: 6 p.m. (till approximately 7 p.m.)
Venue: Singapore Botanic Gardens Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage
Admission is free
No ticket is required

Please feel free to bring along a picnic mat, food and lovely family and friends to have a picnic while watching the concert.

Here’s a link to the map of the Singapore Botanic Gardens: https://www.sbg.org.sg/images/Maps/sbg%20map%20181214.jpg

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Masschusetts Institute of Technology, a guided tour of it

Stairways leading to the Ray and Maria Stata Centre.

When I was visiting Harvard on 24 Jun 2015, it seemed very natural to make time to visit MIT, i.e. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If I had to summarize my impression of MIT in one single sentence, it would be "MIT is about design, design and design."

Thankfully, I met a very nice guide who allowed me to gate-crash into the guided tour that she was conducting. I had taken the train to Kendall station without checking out where exactly I could join a guided tour of MIT. Thankfully, life showed its way to me and I came across a large group of people who seemed to be on a guided tour of MIT. So I asked if I could join them, and I felt thankful that my request was obliged. On the side, more information about MIT's campus tours can be found here: http://institute-events.mit.edu/visit/tours

While I found my senses over-stimulated by designs everywhere around me when I was at MIT, it was a treasured experience that I was willing to subject myself to.

The tall building is the Green Building.

During the tour, I had the honour to see the Green Building by I.M. Pei. and Araldo Cossutta. It is, as best as I had understood, the tallest building in Cambridge.

One of the stops during the tour was the Lewis Music Library. The tour stopped by the entrance of this library. I was reminded that libraries like this were made possible because of the benefactors who had donated generously.

Maclaurin Building.
The Maclaurin Building at MIT was impressive in its scale. I was attracted to the sculptures that were placed within 10 minutes walk from this building.

Jaume Plensa's "Alchemist" (2010).

Julius Adams Stratton Building

I had the plesure to visit the Julius Adams Stratton Building which is essentially the Student Centre of MIT. This is a place where the Lobdell Food Court is located. After the tour, I ordered a chicken shawarma for lunch at the Lobdell Food Court. It was a place suitable for exchanges of ideas and a lot of conversations and dialogues.

At the Food Court.

The Chapel in the background.

Kresge Auditorium.

During the tour, we had a glimpse of the Kresge Auditorium from a distance. We also saw a cylindrical-shaped chapel that stood nearby the Kresge Auditorium. Another stop that the tour had brought us to was the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center. Was that a reminder that health is precious for any kind of endeavours?

The Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center.

MIT fascinated me with its offerings of design everywhere I went. I had also fell in love with the beauty of the Charles River that was flowing next to the site of MIT. This is a place I would be pleased to learn for hours and hours in. Nature inspires, mankind aspires!

Charles River at a distance.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
77 Massachusetts Avenue
MA 02139
Nearest Subway stations: Kendall (MIT) - Red line

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Places: Goodbye 74 to 80 Commonwealth Drive Carnival

Image courtesy of My Community and Queenstown Heritage Committee
Here is to inform you of an upcoming event:

Goodbye 74 - 80 Commonwealth Drive

3 Oct 2015, Sat,

From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At Blk 74 Commonwealth Drive Car Park

Organized by My Community, Queenstown Citizens' Consultative Committee

Places: Goodbye 74 to 80 Commonwealth Drive Carnival

Places: Coffee.Culture.Conversations

From 17 Sep - 28 Oct 2015, there is an exhibition on anything coffee and inspired by coffee held at The Art Gallery @ Glocal Connect Village, Temasek Polytechnic. You could find out about my visit to the exhibition here: Places: Coffee.Culture.Conversations.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Read: The World Atlas of Coffee

Image source: Amazon.com

Title: The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing - Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed.
Author: James Hoffmann
Publisher: Firefly Books Ltd (2014)

In the hope to learn more about coffee, from beans to brewing, I borrowed this book from the library. This is a useful resource book for enthusiasts who love coffee.

The book is classified into three different sections. The first section which provides an introduction to coffee is informative and succinct enough to the point.

The second part of the book, discusses about coffee "From Bean to Cup". I have learnt quite a number of new things from this section.

Section Three of the book provides a good reference to Coffee Origins. Other than listing the taste profiles of coffee beans from various countries, this section listed the varieties in the selected regions in these countries.

Section One and Two are fairly accessible to read. Section Three makes a good reference to refer to when it comes to the topic of coffee origins.

Friday, September 04, 2015

24 June 2015: Official Harvard Tour

When I was visiting Massachusetts, I planned for a visit to Algiers Coffee House and Harvard on the same day.

Holyoke Center.

As I was very new to Harvard, I decided that it was necessary to sign myself up for the Official Harvard Tour. The earliest tour started at 10 a.m. As I was in Harvard area very early, I signed up for the tour way before 9.30 a.m. I later learnt that it was helpful to be early to sign up for the Official Harvard Tour. The tours were so popular that the 10 a.m. tour was fully booked before 9.45 a.m. However, as registration starts only one hour before a designated tour, it does help to plan ahead the visit to the Harvard Events and Information Center in Holyoke Center so as to secure a place on the Official Harvard Tour.

The Official Harvard Tour was led by one of the student volunteers. In addition to attending the Official Harvard Tour, I bought myself a copy of "A self-guided walking tour of Harvard Yard and surrounding areas".

Our guide led us to various locations on the Harvard Yard. Our guide introduced us to the Massachusetts Hall and the Harvard Hall. The former is the oldest building that is still standing at Harvard and the second-oldest academic building in the country. When the guide spoke about Harvard Hall, she shared with us the story of the fire that had happened in January 1764 which had destroyed the former Harvard Hall that was on the same location.

Harvard Hall.

As we progressed into the tour, we learnt about the Johnston Gate, the Science Center and the Memorial Hall. I learnt that the Memorial Hall is the building whereby first-year students of Harvard would dine in so as to foster a sense of community.

The Memorial Hall.

During our tour, we also passed by the Memorial Church. This was the place that is used for commencement. Our guide shared with us that the Memorial Church was intended to commemorate Harvard men who died in World Wars I and II.

Memorial Church

Widener Library.

Widener Library in Harvard had a moving story that touched my heart. The library was built using funds donated by Eleanor Elkins Widener in honour of her son, Harry Elkins Widener, Class of 1907, who was a rare-book collector who died on the Titanic in 1912. There were four stipulations set by the donor to honour Harry Elkins Widener. One of the four stipulations was that free soft-serve ice-cream will be served. To find out more about the moving story behind the Widener Library, please visit this site: http://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/houghton/exhibits/widener

John Harvard Statue.

Concluding the tour was a visit to John Harvard Statue. It was very popular with visitors. This is called the "Statue of Three Lies", cast in 1884 by Daniel Chester French. I learnt that because there were no known portraits of John Harvard, French had used someone else as a model. Next, Harvard College was not founded by John Harvard but was named after him. Thirdly, the College was founded in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and not in 1638.

My reflections following the tour was that Harvard makes thoughtful efforts to foster a sense of community among its students and the Harvard community. I felt thankful for the opportunity to learn a bit more about Harvard. I love the spaciousness of Harvard Yard, and it was a lovely experience being there on a day in summer.

If any one wants more after the Official Harvard Tour, I heard that there is a fun alternative to the Official Harvard Tour. It's the Hahvahd Tour.

Official Harvard Tour
Harvard University Information Center, Holyoke Center Arcade
1350 Massachusetts Avenue
Tel: +1 617 495 1573
Website: http://www.harvard.edu/on-campus/visit-harvard/tours

Nearest T-station: Harvard

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

24 June 2015: The search for Algiers Coffee House

Before visiting Boston, I had done a bit of research and listed down a few of the places in Boston where one can enjoy a good cup of coffee beverage. One of the cafes on the list that I had compiled was the Algiers Coffee House at 40 Brattle Street, which was relatively near Harvard.

It was in my plan on 24 June 2015 (Wed) to visit Harvard so that I could visit both Algiers Coffee House and Harvard.

Algiers Coffee House is not located near the train station so it took a while to find it. To get there, take the Red Line T to Harvard Square. To locate Algiers Coffee House, I had found it easier to walk towards Church Street after walking past Harvard Square. Yet, there are a few other alternatives to reach Algiers Coffee House.

Algiers Coffee House is a nice place to relax and watch the world go by. When I was there around 9 a.m., there was very few guests at the cafe. I learnt that Algiers Coffee House is well-known for its Middle Eastern style food. One of its unique interior decor features were its Moroccan octagonal tables.

Algiers Coffee House.

When I was there, I was on a specialty coffee drink spree. I ordered a cup of espresso. It was balanced and had a lingering aftertaste. The cafe had an old world vibe and I felt I was in a different world of its own. It is a charming place to visit and the cafe has two floors. The second floor terrace overlooks Brattle Street.

Special Mint Coffee. Algiers Coffee House.

After the espresso, I was wanting more coffee because I heard that its signature drink is the Special Mint Coffee. It was brewed coffee with mint and served with whipped cream. The coffee taste was very mild for the Special Mint Coffee.

Coffee Pots!

At the Algiers Coffee House, I saw coffee pots. I was told that the Arabic coffee from this cafe would be prepared the Arabic way in which the coffee grounds would be boiled with water in the coffee pots.

This is a cafe to visit especially if one is visiting Harvard.

Algiers Coffee House
40 Brattle St
Cambrige MA 02138
Tel: +1 617 492 1557
Website: http://www.harvardsquare.com/algiers-coffee-house
Nearest T-station: Harvard Square

Monday, August 31, 2015

24 June 2015: Breakfast from Mac Donalds

The McDonalds nearby Hosteling International Boston. 24 June 2015.

On 24 June 2015, my body clock has accustom itself to wake up early. It was about 4.30 a.m. in Boston when I woke up. By the time I washed myself up and was ready to set off for the day, it was still too early for breakfast. At Hosteling International Boston, continental breakfast will be served from 7 p.m.

Since I was too early for breakfast, I decided to take a stroll near the hostel. The air in the morning was fresh and energizing. Interestingly, even though it was not even 7 a.m. that day, the skies looked very bright as if it were already late in the morning. Welcome summer!

Nearby the hostel, there was a McDonalds fast-food restaurant. As the continental breakfast at the hostel did not serve eggs unless we buy our own eggs and cook it ourselves, I decided I could treat myself to eggs from McDonalds. I bought myself a McDonalds Big Breakfast take-away. After tax, one set of Big Breakfast costs USD$3.73.

I went to the hostel's dining area at about 7 a.m. for breakfast. In addition, I had a special treat for myself from McDonalds. Simple treats like this in life can make a person like myself happy enough to start the day on a brighter mood.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Places: Second weekend of Singapore Night Festival 2015 - Glimpses of Humanity

For my dear friends and readers who have missed or would like to relive the second weekend of the Singapore Night Festival, please read my picks and recommendations here:
Places: Second weekend of Singapore Night Festival 2015 - Glimpses of Humanity

Friday, August 28, 2015

23 June 2015: German food at Jacob Wirth

Within a very short walking distance from the hostel, Hostelling Internationl Boston, that I had stayed in when I was in Boston in June, there sits a restaurant known as the Jacob Wirth Co. German Restaurant. As its name suggests, it is well-known for the traditional German specialties and the American favourites that it serves.

On 23 June 2015 (Tue), after working out both my feets walking non-stop about the Musuem of Fine Arts and checking out the building of the Boson Symphony Hall, I decided to go easier on my legs and have dinner near the hostel.

New England Clam Chowder.

Jaeger Schnitzler.

As I was not a fan of alcoholic drinks, I gave them a total miss when I was at the restaurant. For dinner that evening, I ordered the Jaeger Schnitzler. I like the peas and the sauce that went very well with this dish. I had ordered a smaller portion of it. In addition, I ordered a cup of New England Clam Chowder which was said to be an award-winning dish. It tasted fresh, rich and delicious. The clam chowder went well with the Oyster Crackers that were served with it.

The service at Jacob Wirth was attentive. I have had an enjoyable dinner there.

Jacob Wirth Co. German Restaurant
31 - 37 Stuart Street
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: +1 617 338 8586

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

23 June 2015: A short walk near Symphony T-station

Boston Symphony Hall.

After a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts on 23 June 2015 (Tue), I realized that it was not feasible to visit the nearby Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on the same day. In fact, it looked like I would not be visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum during the June 2015 trip to Boston.

Going with the flow, I decided to head for the Symphony T-station. I had wanted to get a glimpse of Boston Symphony Hall, the performing home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. There was no concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra that evening so I spent time enjoying the beauty of the facade.

The Christian Science Church, Boston, at a distance.

Nevertheless, I had the pleasure to walk about the area to enjoy the neighbourhood of what was probably commonly known as Back Bay. I even managed to take a sneak peep at the building facade of the Christian Science Church from a distance. I later learnt that immediately tot he right of the church, there is the Mary Baker Eddy Library and Mapparium. Due to the interest of time, I had missed it.

On my way back to the Symphony T-station after a bit of walking about, I stumbled by a musical instrument store, Rayburn Music, that dealt with repair and maintenance. It seemed to specialize more in wind instruments and there were hardly any string instrument in sight. What an adventure.

Rayburn Music
238 Hungtington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
Boston Symphony Hall
301 Massachusetts Ave
Nearest T-station: Symphony

Rayburn Music Instrument Company
238 Hungtington Avenue
Nearest T-station: Symphony

Monday, August 24, 2015

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts.

On 23 June 2015, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston. Getting there was pretty easy as it was nearby a T-subway station.

The highly cultured citizens of 19th century Boston were keen collectors, who collected art and antiquities from around the word. Their bequests have resulted in the Museum of Fine Arts having one of the foremost holdings outside Paris of Impressionist painting. This museum also has an outstanding collection of Japanese and other Asian art. I felt thankful that I have had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Fine Arts when I was in Boston.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Was it jet-lag? I felt pretty sleepy by the morning. Nevertheless, I realized that there was no way I could see every single item in the Museum of Fine Arts. To make the best out of my time there, I chose to attend the guided tour that focuses on the Highlights of the Museum's Collection. This is a guided tour worthy to attend. It is one hour in duration and gives a good highlight of a few of the museum's noteworthy collections. This guided tour did not cover the Impressionists' artworks which were so popular that visitors would have any way checked them out. It did cover a few of the important works by the significant American artists.

After the guided tour, I decided it was necessary to treat myself to lunch first. I needed energy to stay awake and to comb as much area of the Museum of Fine Arts as possible. The rout guide was very helpful and pointed me to the Garden Cafeteria. It was an affordable, comfortable and family-friendly place for lunch. On the way day, I passed by a lovely garden that was within the premises of the Museum of Fine Arts. What a lovely treat to a landscaped garden before having my meal at Garden Cafeteria.

Lunch at Garden Cafeteria, Museum of Fine Arts.

For the rest of my visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, I rented a multimedia audio guide to lend myself a good introduction to some of the important exhibits in the museum's collection.

Sculpture by Degas.
Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer.
Museum of Fine Arts.

To manage the sleepy-spell, I went to the nearby New American Cafe after lunch to get myself a cup of espresso. It was not a good choice it seemed. While beans from Starbucks were used, the calibration of the grinder and the pulling of the espresso shot was far from ideal, leaving me to drink a cup of astringent coffee. Thankfully, the coffee redeemed itself because it did kept me awake for the rest of the afternoon. A lesson learnt, it takes a lot of skill and craft to be a good enough barista.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

When I was at the section of the Impressionism art in the Museum of Fine Arts, under the Europe collection, I felt I was brought home to a familiar place in which I get to see the artworks that I have read and heard about in real person. It was a privilege to see the originals and be up close with the artworks. I could see the fine details of the brush-works. This was the place where fine artworks had been collected.

Museum of Fine Arts.

The section on Ancient Egypt art captured my attention too. I learnt about the archaeological expeditions that were co-sponsored by Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts, that were led by the renowned Egyptologist, George Reisner. I have to say that the Museum of Fine Arts has a pretty fine Ancient Egypt art collection.

Hokusai. Museum of Fine Arts.

One of the special exhibitions in the Museum of Fine Arts was Hokusai, featuring the art of Hokusai. Hokusai is definitely a skillful draftsman. I had the pleasure to look at Hokusai's Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji which were essentially ukiyo-e prints compiled as a picture book. I learnt that Hokusai made extensive use of the imported European synthetic pigment known as Prussian blue. This pigment is a bright colour that is highly resistant to fading, and it was cheap enough in Japan to be used in woodblock printing as well as painting. I was most intrigued by Hokusai's toy prints. These were intended to be cut to pieces, folded, assembled and then enjoyed in three dimensions. Hokusai was ingenious! This was the exhibition to see. I was thankful I was there!

A section on Western musical instruments.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

I had spent the entire day there. There was so much to experience at the Museum of Fine Arts that one day was not enough. I felt very thankful that I could enjoy an entire day devoted to appreciating fine arts.

Museum of Fine Arts
465 Hungtington Ave
Tel: 617-267-9300
Nearest T-station: Museum of Fine Arts