Looking for the rays of light in this cloud-covered town

My (non exhaustive) List of Pet Peeves — May 29, 2014

My (non exhaustive) List of Pet Peeves

I actually started this post about a year and a half ago. I thought it was an interesting topic, but apparently very few things annoy me. (Pause for uncontrollable laughter to that ridiculous idea). OK, so let’s get to it. Continue reading

Zeus and Tiny — April 14, 2014

Zeus and Tiny

I was tired returning home from work one sunny afternoon just over a month ago. I wanted to curl up in bed and take a nap. My husband joined me. That was when I realized how much I missed having our feline companion jump around the bed whenever we were feeling down and, simply by her mere presence, bring a lightness to the room.

“I miss Daphne.” I said.

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The How I Met Your Mother Finale Worked Harder Than the Final Season — April 3, 2014

The How I Met Your Mother Finale Worked Harder Than the Final Season

I finally managed to watch the finale of How I Met Your Mother. I liked it. But um, that comes with a few caveats.

** spoiler alert, only continue reading if you’ve watched the finale of HIMYM **

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The Best Moments from How I Met Your Mother, Part 2 — March 31, 2014

The Best Moments from How I Met Your Mother, Part 2

Since I don’t live in the United States, I’m not even sure when the finale is airing (has aired ?). I did know it was going to be in March, and, well, as today is the last day in March I figure it’s soon. But um, before we continue on our journey through the best moments of HIMYM, there are a few special moments I’d like to discuss.

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The Best Moments from How I Met Your Mother, Part 1 — March 19, 2014

The Best Moments from How I Met Your Mother, Part 1

I am a big fan of How I Met Your Mother. I watch old episodes when I need to get to my happy place. Yeah, there are running gags that were never particularly funny, Ted is annoying on almost every level, and lots of their jokes are overplayed. Overall though, the show is fun, the stories are compelling, and the characters are well-developed, multidimensional, and stop just short of becoming the caricatures that plagues so many other sitcoms in their later seasons.

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I Mailed a Spider — March 3, 2014

I Mailed a Spider

I recently started a more stressful than relaxing hobby of selling stuff on eBay. I also sell on the Swiss equivalent auction site,; I do not know why it is that eBay does not have much penetration here in Switzerland. Could be that Swiss eBay is only in German, despite there being three other official languages of this country (French, Italian, and Romansh) and one unofficial but very widely used language (English — so widely used in fact that the Swiss Army uniforms have writing in all five languages). It could be too, that since Swiss postage rates are so high, shipping outside of the country becomes cost-prohibitive to participating on global auction sites.

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Poll of the Day — February 26, 2014

Poll of the Day

Thinking about rainy day weather. And more specifically, walking in it.

As often happens, I left home this morning not even realizing that it was raining (remarkable in an apartment that is practically 1/3 windows). Clearly, I did not have an umbrella. I used to wear an awesome Puma puff jacket during the winter which had a hood. Even then, as the hood was removable, and I’m all about lightweight travel, I often did not have it on when I would be caught out in a drizzle or downpour. Recently, I found an awesome deal on eBay for a vintage Halston burgundy peacoat, and I’ve been wearing it pretty much every day since I got it. This, however, has made my lack of rain-readiness even more frequent.

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Geneva Before Sunrise — February 25, 2014

Geneva Before Sunrise

Why is it that I cannot capture the beauty of the Geneva skyline in photographs? Is it my technique, the quality of my camera (iPhone)? Or is it that sometimes the true beauty of nature cannot be caught on a flat medium like film? I don’t believe the latter as I’ve seen more than enough nature photography to make me a believer in the art-form and understand there is something I am missing.

Regardless, this morning I woke before the sun, and was mesmerized by the predawn skyline of Geneva over the Lake. There was a crescent moon with a star underneath that appeared so bright it must be a planet.

To capture the sunrise I tried to take a Panorama shot. Yeah, does this ever come out good for anyone? I would love to learn the proper technique for taking quality panoramas.

Panorama shot of Geneva at sunrise

Well, this is something new for me to learn about. And even if I couldn’t get the photo to reflect the real beauty of the sunrise, I still captured it in my memory.

Brighton Beach Avenue — February 9, 2014

Brighton Beach Avenue

Announcing the opening of our Etsy storefront, BrightonBeachAvenue, in loving memory of my dad.

From the late 60s to the early 90s, an art gallery and picture framing shop operated out of the corner storefront located at 242 Brighton Beach Avenue and Brighton 1st Place, in Brooklyn’s historic Brighton Beach. The store was one block from the famous boardwalk which separated the commercial and residential center from the beach which for so many years was the getaway destination for New York City dwellers in the sweltering heat of the summertime.

My father was a photographer, so it is with a bit of frustration that I am taking this trip down memory lane in the Internet era, which began after his death in 1995. That is because my father would have loved the Internet, and embraced the technology to compliment his art and design work. And then 20 years later when I am doing Google searches for “242 Brighton Beach Avenue” I would be able to find photographs from the time when the neighborhood was entirely Russian and Ukrainian, and David Galleries was among the rare American-owned, English-speaking shops.

Coney Island ∘ 1965 by David Martin
“Coney Island ∘ 1965” by David Martin

BrightonBeachAvenue is currently featuring the poster that my dad made back in the early 90s of the iconic Parachute Jump in neighboring Coney Island. He sold it out of his gallery (I have the framed print that he had on display in the store hanging in my apartment)


and it was a very popular item amongst the neighborhood residents. Now thanks to the Internet and Etsy, and a technology I know my father would’ve embraced himself, it can be seen by the world.

The framed print that was on display in the store
Sympathy is a Lost Value — February 7, 2014

Sympathy is a Lost Value

I was hit hard by the news of the tragic death Philip Seymour Hoffman earlier this week.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

I have always been a huge fan of a man I believe to be in his own class of actors, with the ability to lose his identity into diverse characters, to convey emotion and bring meaning to what would otherwise be flat dialog and stage direction. I am not lost on the weird idea of average people mourning for celebrities with whom we have no direct relationship other than the one created by film and media, but we are human, and our emotions are not always (rarely in fact) ruled by rational thought.

magnolia_1280Philip Seymour Hoffman truly blew me away in the magnificent film by Paul Thomas Anderson, Magnolia. His understated performance as the nurse caring for Earl Partridge (Jason Robards) on his deathbed was compelling to say the least. An unglamorous role, he brought a grounding to a story about complicated relationships that demonstrate the darkness in people but does not necessarily mean they are devoid of humanity. I love this movie.

I actually just started crying watching this scene.

I was also thrilled when Hoffman was recognized for his work in the film Capote. Aside from his superb performance as the brilliant American writer, it is also the story behind In Cold Blood, on my top ten list of best books. Again, this story examines evil and forces us to ask if reprehensible and unpardonable actions also make the people who perpetrate them devoid of any good.

Over the past week, I was stunned to read so much commentary on the Internet denouncing the collective mourning of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the theme being that he deserved what he got because he abused drugs. Life must be a wonderful place when you are in a position to sit in judgement of others, when right and wrong are so clearly delineated as black next to white. In my world, I see so many different colors, blends, hues, I’ve almost never been able to categorize the complexity of human behavior into simple categories of good or bad.

But this problem is far deeper than the natural human desire to judge. It stems from a misunderstanding of what Hoffman, and so many like him, suffered. Our society must start to recognize that addiction is a disease. Addition is met with shame and blame, as are so many other mental disorders, that are genuine chemical functions of our bodies. For those who suffer from addiction, depression, anxiety, among many other diseases, it is not simply because they are weak, or lazy, or ignorant, or reckless.

Russell Brand
Russell Brand

Those of us fortunate enough to not be afflicted by the disease of addiction, read Russel Brand’s brilliant piece in the Guardian about the mind of an addict. Brand, who I consider to be an incredibly articulate person, writes frequently for Britain’s The Guardian. He also penned a piece this week following Hoffman’s death in which he asks us:

Would Hoffman have died if this disease were not so enmeshed in stigma? If we weren’t invited to believe that people who suffer from addiction deserve to suffer? Would he have OD’d if drugs were regulated, controlled and professionally administered? Most importantly, if we insisted as a society that what is required for people who suffer from this condition is an environment of support, tolerance and understanding.

Sympathy, however, is a value that can be taught, and offering it to those who suffer is a practice people can learn. Worse than coping with a disease is dealing with the ignorant masses who then tell you that you deserve to suffer all its horror because you brought it on your self. I’ve yet to meet such a perfect human with perfect genetics who can afford to be without empathy for those who are dealing with an illness.

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