Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Archive for August 2012

The Aquarium

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So on my fourth visit to Baltimore I finally visit the somewhat renowned National Aquarium. It’s not like there’s a ton of competition for sights in Baltimore, but one always hears that the aquarium is one of the best while being somewhat overpriced ($30). I suppose that the latter, along with a sense of ‘I can always do that’, is why I didn’t go until my roommate Greg offered some ‘Tomorrow only” free tickets. And I’m glad he did.

Where sharks go to relax

Being free and spur-of-the-moment I hadn’t raised my expectations very high, which probably saved me from disappointment once again. It’s a pretty good aquarium, with a decent number of tanks, good layout and nice environments in the tanks. They have an impressive number of big fish (sharks, rays, carangidae), and the themed sections for different regions were nicely done. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the textual displays, but I did learn that red fish are often nocturnal since red is hard to pick out in dim light.

Attempts to turn fish into princes are on hold until a more satisfactory princess can be found

They had a couple of pseudo-outdoors terrestrial exhibits that incorporated birds and amphibians, including a nice one on Australia. A surprising finale was their Jellyfish Invasion exhibit: a simple affair, with perhaps a half-score minimalistic tanks full of cnidarians, that was nevertheless both informative and nicely ambient. This inspired Pete to consider an aquarium with jellies instead of fish and neon illumination, an idea that will most certainly be investigated further. It also inspired me to go diving in a dead zone, though this was most likely just the culmination of the whole place making me crave some scuba action. I’ll have to see what can be done about that in the near future…

That’s a real bird. For serious.

Written by Martin

2012/08/31 at 20:44

Posted in Places

Things I read that seem true

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  1. The superior man, in the world, does not set his mind either for anything, or against anything; what is right he will follow. (Analects of Confucius, Book 4, Chapter 10)
  2. In this way of thinking, events, regardless of when they happen from any particular perspective, just are. They all exist. They eternally occupy their particular point in spacetime. There is no flow. If you were having a great time at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1999, you still are, since that is just one immutable location in spacetime. (Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos, Chapter 5)
  3. “Ego,” sayest thou, and art proud of that word. But the greater thing—in which thou art unwilling to believe—is thy body with its big sagacity; it saith not “ego,” but doeth it. (Thus Spake Zarathustra, Chapter 4)

Written by Martin

2012/08/28 at 20:26

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Circus of the Sun

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Last night I finally got to see a Cirque du Soleil show, something that had been on my mind for something like a year. Dralion is supposed to be a harmonious meeting of Eastern and Western circus traditions, but for a first-timer this theme was insignificant compared to the overall style of performance. I only had a vague idea of what to expect: some extravagant blend of theatrics, visual effects and evocative music, with a theme most harmonious with my predilections. Fate, the elemental domains, eternity, all personified in a circus setting with some Asian flavor? Why yes, that would be something I might be interested in.

So I tried to keep an open mind, avoid raising my expectations and completely ignore the price of the ticket. This was probably a terrific idea, for I would (with some hesitation) call it the best show I’ve ever seen. Of course it’s pretty much impossible to compare this to various other contenders, but I can certainly say that I was drawn into the performance to such a degree that the so-called real world ceased to exist. The acrobatics were truly astounding, easily as convincing as the Olympics as a display of the limits of human performance. But even more so was I enraptured by the way the performers’ bodies seemed to be simple tools, moving and bending in whatever way their imagination dictated. Even the clowns that reared their absurd heads in between the acrobatic acts ended up growing on me (despite the annoying interruption of grandeur), for they served as a reminder of the tragicomedy of the play we call life.

Gravity has no dominion in the realm of Oceane

I won’t attempt to cover all the magnificent acts, but a single example might be in order: the image above is a ~15m wall footed by massive trampolines, receiving and re-launching the garishly clad minions of Water in their joyful dynamics. Up and down they’d go, with flips and spins taking them between the trampolines, little ledges on the wall and even to the top of the wall itself. It was amazing that they were able to arrest their horizontal motion after leaping off the top or from one trampoline to another, but the truly impressive part was the visual effect  that came when they started using the wall as footing. Watching them running, stopping and posing up the height of the wall one began to forget about the the floor and trampolines, and even though one’s seat served as a reminder that space itself hadn’t just shifted 90 degrees, you could almost convince yourself that at least the stage had undergone such a transmutation.

The Warrior (or, in the creators’ interpretation, the force behind the wheels of eternity)

All in all it was entirely “wow”, although it probably needs the right frame of mind to fully enjoy. And a craving for adventure, for ‘elsewhere’, for magic, lights and shadows certainly wouldn’t be out of place either.

Written by Martin

2012/08/25 at 20:56

Posted in Events

Sara

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Continuing the observation/presentation of my roommates, I’ve noticed a distinctly ghetto trend in Sara’s cooking.

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She claims that the rag was due to heat, rather than the expectation of spilling mac’n’cheese all over.

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What’s going on here?

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OIC, the jar can also be used… as a glass

Though, to be fair, she does make nice things as well.

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Written by Martin

2012/08/23 at 20:47

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Shots of Baltimore

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A bit too busy, a bit too social, a bit too focused. In any case no updates for a while, and a proper post will have to wait a bit longer. But in the meantime, I present some random shots of Baltimore taken over the past month. As I always say: “It’s a nice place to live, for a while”.

Some parts are nice

Some parts are nasty

And some are just neat

Written by Martin

2012/08/21 at 00:15

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Pleasantry

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I like paintball. Perhaps because I still harbor a childlike fascination with warfare in its many guises, and at least in my imagination paintball is the closest thing to modern ground warfare that I’m likely to experience. So even though it meant getting up early and putting up with a particularly lethargic referee, spending five hours with high-velocity paint projectiles buzzing around my ears was a pleasant start to yesterday.

Left: teriyaki chicken, apples, walnuts and basil
Right: spinach, asiago, capicola and basil

And after running around the woods for hours, a pizza party was assuredly a pleasant continuation to the day. Between the roommates, myself and my friend Davide, we generated (and masticated) six pizzas, along with negronis and other libations. Two experimental choices snuck their way into the lineup, and while leaving room for improvement were reasonably successful: the first was an Asian-inspired pizza (of sorts) that was limited to ingredients that were common in such cuisines. So the tomato sauce and cheese were out, replaced by teriyaki chicken (and sauce), baby bok choy, squash and peanuts. Though not quite comme il faut, I used yoghurt as some sort of neutral base for those flavors; beancurd would have been more appropriate. It ended up a tad salty, and certainly not something to revolutionize pizza-making, but quite tasty nonetheless.

Dessert? Now that’s what I call pizza!

The other experiment was a dessert pizza, with chunks of papaya and melon on a base of sweetened condensed milk. Different from the chocolate-and-marshmallows dessert pizza I’d previously tried, but not at all bad. None of the flavors were overpowering, though it was missing some sort of contrasting flavor. In my personal opinion it was also a little low on sauce, so I created the (kind of) improved version shown above.

I suppose consistency demands that I scour the P section of the dictionary for some apt descriptor of the flow cytometry I did in between these two pleasantries, but there’s no reason to be pedantic.

Written by Martin

2012/08/12 at 17:52

Posted in Food

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George

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Although I generally refer to George as my most responsible roommate, I have begun to notice a hint of pyromaniac tendencies in him. I offer the following evidence, gathered in the past week or two:

Burninating the cockroach

Burninating the drinks

Burninating the porterhouse

Written by Martin

2012/08/06 at 13:31

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