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Monthly Archives: March 2014

These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

#41 – flower patch – London


#42 – bacon? rock! – at Red Rock Canyon.

bacon rock

#43 –  “it’s nice, isn’t it?” – at Baden-Baden

ladies in pharmacy

#44 – pool – Los Angeles

pool at night

#45 – no head for art

no head for art

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), formerly known as the Miami Art Museum from 1996 until 2013, reopened at a new location on December 3, 2013. It is overlooking Biscayne Bay and provides a sculpture garden. We were lucky to be in town and visited it before it is even a month old !


Adjacent to it and currently under construction is the city’s Science museum. When it is completed, the whole park will become an area for science and arts education as well as spaces for cultural and relaxation programs.


The three-story building, built by Herzog de Meuron sits upon an elevated platform and below a canopy, both of which extend far beyond the Museum’s walls, creating a shaded veranda and plazas.


The canopy is perforated to allow in light, and lush vegetation grows out of suspended planters amongst the columns, transforming the veranda into a multi-dimensional garden. The architect has created a slide show showing off its building on their web site, here.


The museum is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting international contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries.


The permanent collection galleries are located on the first and, principally, the second level, which  also house extensive temporary exhibition galleries.


The interior of the museum comprises a series of distinct galleries and other public areas connected by a series of interstitial spaces displaying the permanent collection, allowing for a fluid visitor experience.


It houses a collection of pieces from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry – a comprehensive private archive of art that marries image and word. Something I have not seen anywhere before.


This is my favorite which consists of hundreds of pieces of dyed cloth placed in circles on the floor.


It had a small, rather open and flexible “auditorium” where visitors can sit on the steps and watch a performance or video.


Nice museum – not overwhelmingly huge, quite comfortable, a neutral atmosphere.


These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

#31 – shelter – Basel, Switzerland

bus shelter

#32 – no gerhard richter – New York

no g richter-1

#33 – royal meditation – London


#34 – a hole with a view – Chillon, Switzerland

lake view-1

#35 – bar tabac closed – Lausanne

cafe tabac*


We went to visit CERN (Organisation européenne pour la Recherche nucléaire), the European Organization for Nuclear Research, at Meyrin, just outside Geneva. It is about 40 minutes drive from us.

Our visit was unplanned and the limited daily guided tour was fully booked weeks in advance.  So we just saw two exhibitions, one in the reception building (#33) and another in a dome-shaped exhibition hall across the street.


CERN was founded in 1954 and has currently 21 member states. It is the biggest particle physics laboratory in the world and sits astride the French-Swiss border. Its web site (click here) is very informative and educational. I love its logo as it does graphically depict CERN’s main equipment.


The acronym CERN came from Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire which remained even though the full name has been changed to Organisation européenne pour la Recherche nucléaire. Nobody liked “OERN”. There is a lot of information about CERN on wikipedia, click here.


While the origin of the universe is a very interesting and deep question, I think the biggest contribution of CERN to the world is what enables you to read this. The World Wide Web was invented at CERN in 1989 by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee.


CERN seeks answers to questions about the universe. What is it made of ? How did it come to be the way it is ? More specifically, it has been working on the search for antimatter and the Higgs boson.

This is the equation of the Standard model which attempts to explain EVERYTHING.

CERN’s experiments are designed to prove/disprove some of the predictions of the Standard model.

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 1.03.56 PM

CERN built the world’s most powerful particle accelerator – the 27 km Large Hadron Collider (LHC), buried 50-150 m below ground.


Accelerators boost beams of particles (e.g., protons) to high energies in vacuum guided by superconducting magnets at -271ºC within the 27 km ring before the beams are made to collide with each other at near light speed. The picture below is only a mock-up of the accelerator.


Four huge detectors – ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb were built to observe and record the results of these collisions. At 46 m long, 25 m high and 25 m wide, the 7000-tonne ATLAS detector (see photo below) is the largest volume particle detector ever constructed. It sits in a cavern 100 m below ground.


CERN has invested 6 billion swiss francs covering the accelerator, computing and manpower. More than 10,000 scientists and engineers are contributing to the project. Below are pictures of the exhibition hall.


On 8 October 2013 the Nobel prize in physics was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.”


As a former scientist (in biology), seeing all these big science projects, multinational teams and advanced infrastructures are very exciting.


To get a behind-the-scenes view, see the 2014 documentary about the discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN – “Particle Fever”  – the New York Times review of the movie is here.

cern-11We will definitely return and do the full guided tour properly.

This is no. 4 in a series of posts that is about funny business names that we saw. Since we are now living in continental Europe, from time to time we come across English names that makes us laugh. We caught some other funny names here that have an alternative meaning.

See the earlier posts Hilarity in names #1, #2  and #3, herehere and here.

Lucky Stiff Cuir, Chambery – leatherwear (cuir means leather in French)


The Mosquito, Ko Samui – it says “accommodation” above in neon blue –  so it is a hostel, is the name a warning ?


Les enfants terribles, Barcelona – (les enfants means the children)


Wormland, Munich – it is a clothing store not a pet or bait store.


Awfully chocolate, Hong Kong


Anti-Flirt, Paris


Bad Hotel zum Hirsch, Baden-Baden (Bad means spa in German)




This is no. 3 in a series of posts that is about funny business names that we saw. Since we are now living in continental Europe, from time to time we come across English names that makes us laugh. See Hilarity in names #1 and #2, here and here.

What makes most of us laugh ? Mention a bodily function.

Farto – Sao Paulo – a drugstore.


Fart is the name of a transportation network serving the Ticino region of Switzerland.


Another Fart.


2theloo – Amsterdam. This is a pay-to-use public bathroom that sells toiletries.


To balance the tone of this post, here are some names that show a bit of wit in naming a business.

Less is More, Vienna


More & More, somewhere in Germany


As it says, there are More and More.


*Oh_ mystore!  – Hong Kong


More to come.

During the Lunar New Year holidays, IT came to stay for a few days and suggested that we see the Prix de Lausanne. Much of what we wrote below came from the official press kit.

The Prix de Lausanne is an international competition for young ballet dancers of all nationalities aged 15 to 18 who are not yet professionals. Created in 1973 in our temporary hometown, this is the 42nd year of the ballet competition.


One of the signature features of the Prix de Lausanne is that the competition week is also a training week for candidates. They rehearse their variations under the guidance of Principals who help them work on the artistic interpretation of the roles, and they also take classes with renowned teachers. Because of the families and the staff, we had to buy tickets for the finale weeks way ahead of time because they would sell out quickly.


In order to participate in the competition week in Lausanne, candidates must prepare two solos: a classical variation and a contemporary variation. Only 20 dancers advance to the finale. If you are impatient, go to the bottom of the post to see a video of the winner’s performances.

Warming up


Throughout the competition the jury will evaluate a candidate’s potential as a ballet dancer by considering:

Physical suitability

Courage and individuality

An imaginative and sensitive response to the music

A clear grasp in communicating differing movement dynamics

Technical facility, control, and coordination


The full length video of the finale is on Youtube.

While advanced technical skills will be taken into account, jurors’ primary focus will be on the candidate’s potential to succeed as a professional ballet dancer.


The Prix de Lausanne team is a large, family-like group of people, all of whom offer their time and competence on a voluntary basis. 61 of the world’s most prestigious dance schools and companies, such as the Royal Ballet School of London, the School of American Ballet in New York, and the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, are associated with the competition.


Winning a Prix de Lausanne scholarship enables a prize winner to gain free access to the finest dance schools or to be accepted without an audition for an apprenticeship with the most renowned ballet companies. It thus opens the door to a year of top-level training and represents a fast track to the start of an international career.


The jury panel, whose members are among the most celebrated in the dance world. For 2014, the panel was  chaired by the former Principal of the New York City Ballet and co-chairman of the School of American Ballet, New York.


The winner was the 17-year old, Mr Niyama Haruo 二山治雄 of Japan from the Hakucho Ballet Academy. His winning performances:


The competitors, the supporting families, the participants who did not make it to the finale, the younger dancers in the audience are so visibly passionate and dedicated to this art form. One can see and feel it in the air. The competition was serious, personal, educational and authentic, and way  better and more satisfyingly entertaining than any contest on reality TV.

The competition organizer’s web site contains a lot more videos of the six days of competitions – click here to enjoy.

While I was in NY in January … I thought the last time I was in Chinatown, there was a line out the door of this tiny restaurant – Xi’an Famous Foods – Western Chinese Cuisine.


A branch of this restaurant in St. Mark’s Place has received great reviews from Zagat. It received the following scores:  FOOD – 24 – DECOR – 6 – SERVICE 13 – COST $12. I wondered if this is the highest ratio of FOOD:COST in Zagat NYC – while it represents great value for money. Being in the Chinatown branch (67 Bayard St) – I can only imagine that the DECOR score might even be lower than 6. When I visited this time, it was in the middle of the afternoon and all was calm.


Their story on their website which is very surprisingly well designed given the size of the company:

Xi’an Famous Foods began as a 200 square foot basement stall in the Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing, N.Y. The original location, established in late 2005, was the first restaurant to bring the little-known cuisine of Xi’an to the United States, with signature hand-ripped noodles, secret spice mixes, and Xi’an “burgers” with housemade flatbread.


Xi’an is located at the start of the silk road so its foods are a combination of Chinese and Middle Eastern flavors. The spices used included cumin, chili, Sichuan peppercorns and other secret ingredients.


I ordered the hand-ripped wide noodles with spicy lamb – $7.50. It tasted really very good – although I had not been to Xi’an – the flavor was exactly what I was expecting.


A notice was posted next to the menu explaining that a takeout will not taste as good because all the soup would have been absorbed by the congealing noodles as it cool down in as little as 15 minutes resulting in a much less spicy (dull) flavor.


They received a huge publicity boost from Anthony Boudrain who tried and praised the spicy minced lamb burger on his show.


I wish I had more time to try the other dishes – particularly the minced lamb burger. Overall highly recommended.


On the web site, the restaurant offers T-shirt and gift cards and the web site looked very professional. Given the distinct taste and modern corporate image, I suspect that this restaurant chain is well on its way to be a famous brand and eventually sprouting  franchises, not just in the China or US but possibly all over Asia (if it is not already happening).



The ads below has nothing to do with us.

On my recent business trip to NYC, the team had a very busy schedule. But we rewarded ourselves with food, we crashed without a reservation, Nobu 57 (which was so crowded and noisy like a Chinatown dim sum restaurant on a Sunday morning) and Spice Market (which was much nicer and we hung around till late).

I had a few hours on my own and managed to try two interesting eateries – Xi’an Famous Foods (see later post) and RedFarm.


YS picked RedFarm on the upper west side for lunch on the day I was leaving.

The decor was deliberately non-Asian while it serves Asian “fusion” cuisine. The restaurant has another location in West Village.


On their website, their story is:

… This new destination from dim sum master chef Joe Ng and Chinese food expert Ed Schoenfeld aims to be one of the most exciting and influential restaurants in the country. RedFarm brings a greenmarket sensibility to modern and inventive Chinese food and super-charged dim sum complemented by modern, rustic décor.


We did not try the signature dishes (which received rave reviews online) but were very satisfied with what we ordered, some came from their daily special menu. However, it took them a long time to prepare the main courses, we waited well over 30 minutes. Not really acceptable in Manhattan at lunch time.


Seabass and avocado tart to start. Whatever that was inside the tart was very tasty. These came quickly.


BBQ’d duck omelette and black mushroom rice. The duck was lean and attractively presented in a wooden bucket with ample green veggies.


My favorite was the grilled lemongrass pork chop and rice. Nicely charred especially the scallions, and the meat had a sweet taste. Very flavorful and big portions of meat, but there was not enough rice in my opinion. The big flavors and sloppy presentation are characteristic Chinatown style.


Overall, the fusion menu seemed very well designed and executed but it is a bit on the pricey side – knowing how much something very similar would have cost in a pure Asian restaurant. Beside it is not that much more comfortable than a Chinatown restaurant. The dining room was 100% packed and very noisy, and two women who sat next to us decided to outshout the other patrons and we suffered.


I almost forgot to mention the drinks menu which was very extensive, something that few Chinese restaurant could match.  I ordered the cucumber thyme cooler (non-alcoholic) and it was refreshing – must be a mega seller in the summer months.


Decent food.  Something about this restaurant, possibly the inventiveness of the dishes, reminded me of this celebrity-owned place in Covent Garden, London (see our earlier post here).


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