I stopped by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum yesterday for the first time. While not as large as the nearby Met or MoMA, its unique Frank Lloyd Wright designed architecture and internal spiral-staircase layout make it worth a visit if you’re in the Upper-West side neighborhood. Internally, the artworks is arranged in chronological order, winding up the spiral structure from oldest to newest, bottom to top. A tip for visitors is to take the elevator to the very top, and walk down to view the art.
The Guggenheim Museum
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
The exterior features a winding helix stack, part of the original Frank Lloyd Wright design in 1959, and a square atrium expansion which was added in 1992 by the museum’s foundation. A massive exterior renovation occurred from 2005 to 2008, removing the original paint, laser/echo mapping cracks in the concrete structure and repairing them after determining that the superstructure was structurally sound.
The interior’s main feature is the winding spiral, housing galleries affixed the walls, terminating in a twelve-paned skylight that allows natural light to fall on the pieces contained within. The curved walls the museum make hanging paintings flush with the walls impossible.
The museum does not allow internal photography, but I jotted down the names of some of my favorite pieces. Here’s a brief sampler of the art you can see in the Guggenheim museum. In spirit of presentation, I’ve arranged it chronologically as well:
In Spanish, “el yunque” means “the anvil,” named for the powerful lightening that sweeps the rainforest during storms. El Yunque gets up to 200 inches of rain annually, making mudslides and flash floods a potential hazard.
El Yunque National Rainforest is the only rainforest in the US Forest Service system. Located around part of the Luquillo Mountains range in Puerto Rico, it occupies only a small 28,000 acre part of the island. Some of the main features of the rainforest are Sierra Palms and parasitic plants known as epiphytes. here are 240 native tree species–23 of them found only in El Yunque–50 native orchids and 150 types of ferns.
There are no poisonous snakes, but watch out for stinging nettles plants.
La Coca Falls
Right by the roadside, this 85 foot falls provides an opportunity for lazy tourists to snap photos. The more energetic can climb the rocks to get right up to the fall’s face.
If you enjoy hiking, you have a large number of options:
|Trail Name||Length||Time (One Way)||Difficulty||Min / Max Elevation|
|El Yunque||2.4 miles||2 hours||Challenging||2,067 to 3,445 feet|
|Caimitillo||.2 miles||20 minutes||Moderate||2,067 to 2,427 feet|
|Baño de Oro||.3 miles||20 minutes||Moderate||2,132 to 2,362 feet|
|Enlace / Spur Mt. Britton||.3 miles||10 minutes||Easy||2,788 to 2,952 feet|
|Los Picachos||.2 miles||8 minutes||Easy||2,952 to 3,051 feet|
|Roca El Yunque||.1 miles||7 minutes||Easy||3,379 to 3,412 feet|
|Mt. Britton||.8 miles||40 minutes||Challenging||2,493 to 3,087 feet|
I’m not much of a person for resolutions, since far too often New Years’ promises go unheard, and unkept. Making a list of New Years’ resolutions falls firmly into a cognitive bias known as “optimism bias“, as too often people set unattainable goals. On the other side of the equation, there’s evidence that setting goals publicly can help their completion.
The following goals are my own, completely personal, and probably unsuited to most of you. We are each unique individuals with varying strengths and weaknesses; in 2011, I want to shore up some areas which I think I fall short in.
#1 – Complete a 5km Run in 25m
I have in mind the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, which I’ve participated in twice before, with times around the 32 to 35 minute mark. I’m young, and in good shape. I just went to the gym and ran 2 miles at 9 minutes each. This isn’t a great time; I would need to be running 8 minute miles before I could achieve this, and run an extra mile. Fortunately, I have until this summer to get ready!
#2 – Finish My Website Redesign
This blog theme is getting tired. it’s too thin in a world of wide-screen monitors. It could be much more heavily optimized. And, it’s not readable with its small text. My wife has been prodding me to redesign it, and there’s no excuse for letting it go any farther. I plan to employ some new technologies on the front-end, perhaps using A/B testing, CSS sprites, and other optimizations. On the backend, there’s room to use Varnish and other acceleration technologies. And upgrading to the latest version of Wordpress should let me host all my subdomains from a single installation, freeing me up from symlink-hell and too many open file handles.
(I also want to try improving my Twitter Weather and Nikon Lenses pages, but those fall more into the category of tinkering rather than full-scale work, so I’m not including them in 2011 resolutions. Resolutions are for getting things done you should already have done or be doing.
#3 – Travel / Photography
Take my camera out more. Take more photographs, read some photography books. Master the use of the digital SLR that I have, and the lenses that I have already bought. Learn to use my flash, properly meter exposure, and focus. I may need to invest in some small equipment (like a proper flash, long telephoto zoom), but what I have already (Nikon D90, 18-105mm/3.5-5.6 VR, 50mm/1.8, 60mm/2.8D, Tokina 11-16mm/2.8, and 8/16GB flash cards) is more than enough kit for an amateur like myself.
In my opinion, travel is one of the best uses of time and money. In 2011, I want to ski, visit a Caribbean island, Spain, and Japan. My motivations for the three are (a) it’s very cold in NYC right now and I want to escape, (b) Spain has tons of historical architecture, museums, and cultural value, and I can practice my Spanish, and (c) Japan, the high-tech capital of the world, will tickle my love of gadgetry and cutting-edge fashion. New places are new opportunities to learn about other cultures, to practice language skills, and to take photographs!
#4 – Play guitar
I have an Epiphone Les Paul and a nice Fender practice literally gathering dust. I used to find playing guitar very enjoyable, and in fact, a mood stabilizer of sorts, but recently (say for the last two years) I have not played a lick. In 2011, I should clear off the dust, restring and retune, and pick it back up again.
These four simple New Years’ resolutions are mine, and I hope that they are achieved in part, or in full, in 2011. What do you want to change in your life in the new year? Leave a comment below!