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Support For Charlie Hebdo: “I’d Rather Die Standing Than Live On My Knees”

January 28, 2015 by  

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I'd rather die standing than live on my knees Photo courtesy of SplitShire.

“I’d Rather Die Standing Than Live On My Knees”

This is a quote was stated by editor Stéphane Charbonnier of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, who was killed on January 7, 2015, along with 11 colleagues by Islamic extremists thought to be acting on behalf of Yemen’s al-Qaida branch who opened gunfire on the publication’s office. These extremists did not agree with the content put out by the magazine and wanted to seek “vengeance for the prophet,” as Charlie Hebdo was known for making fun of everyone from presidents to the Pope to the Prophet Muhammad. Charbonnier was no stranger to death threats, firebombings in 2011 and even being included on the Al Qaeda propaganda magazine Inspire’s list of people “Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam.” While I can’t speculate on the content of the magazine as I wasn’t a regular reader, I can’t help but feel inspired by Charbonnier’s mentality, his refusal to be scared into silence or to stop living his life the way he believed it should be led. I also think it’s amazing how the murderer’s attempts to silence the…

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The Snakes & Waters of Colombia’s Amazon

January 27, 2015 by  

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Ever since the late 90’s, the Amazon jungle has inspired the image of a massive anaconda wrapping its slithering girth around my body from head to toe. In my vivid imagination, it drags me under water before biting my head off with a mouth opening the size of a microwave oven. So when the time came to leave the sweltering streets of Leticia, Colombia and explore the Amazon River on a boat much smaller than my imagined anacondas, I was a bit nervous, to say the least. As soon as our group of six was crammed onto the narrow benches of our vessel and our driver revved the sputtering engine, I began firing off questions about the dangers that lurked beneath the water’s surface, and above our heads, hiding in the thick branches. Both must be teeming with aggressive creatures, just waiting for the rare sampling of white meat to please their palettes. My questions were all answered with patient amusement by our translator, Jose. Yes, there are anacondas. Yes, there are tarantulas. Yes, there are many other poisonous animals and insects that you’ve never heard of. But they probably won’t bother you. Probably? Oh, good. Lucky for Jose, my concerns quickly gave…

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Exploring Dracula’s Castle aka Bran Castle in Transylvania

January 27, 2015 by  

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Romania is a fantastic destination for anyone interested in seeing Dracula’s Castle, aka Bran Castle in Transylvania and having an adventure in vampirial culture. Inspired of course by Irish Writer Bram Stoker who rose to fame after his novels on Dracula. Bran Castle, situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov, is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, on DN73. Commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle” (although it is one among several locations linked to the Dracula legend, including Poenari Castle and Hunyad Castle), it is marketed for resale in 2014 as the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad III, voivode of Wallachia, the putative inspiration for Dracula. As discovered by the Dutch author Hans Corneel de Roos, the location Bram Stoker actually had in mind for Castle Dracula while writing his novel was an empty mountain top, Mount Izvorul Călimanului, (6,670 ft) high, located in the Transylvanian Călimani Alps near the…

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Curaçao Exudes All Color and Culture

January 27, 2015 by  

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If you’re wondering how I came up with the title of this post, the answer is quite simply: Taylor Swift. Sure, on a surace level she has nothing to do with Curacao but I really identify with her “Out of the Woods” lyric: The rest of the world was black and white but we were in screaming color. Looking back on my trip to Curacao now, I can’t think of a better way to describe this small Dutch Caribbean island packed with personality. Curacao is in screaming color, especially in the capital city of Willemstad. Not only is the historical city a UNESCO World Heritage site, but there are also modern influences that tie it all together. The first thing that struck me was just how colorful the buildings and homes are in Curacao. Unlike some other destinations I’ve visited, the paint looked fresh and the structures, well maintained. Yet, the buildings are much older than they appear. Take the Penha Building (pictured below) that dates back to 1708. Travel Guide to Willemstad Curacao One of my favorite things to do in Willemstad is shop at the floating market. Every morning, one…

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How Robots Becoming More Integrated In Our Lives

January 27, 2015 by  

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In 2007, David Levy an artificial intelligence researcher at the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, speculated that we would be marrying robots by 2050, and that Massachusetts would be the first state to allow it.
While you may smirk in disbelief at this prediction, society’s infatuation with the digital lifestyle suggests that a man-machine relationship is not all that far-fetched. Here’s growing evidence that robot love, or hate, is gathering momentum:
  • Concert conductor – On May 13, 2008, Honda’s stair-stepping Asimo robot lead the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, performing “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha” with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
  • Domestic robots – Woody Allen’s 1973 movie Sleeper gave a hilarious but prescient look at the future of domestic robotics. The domestic robot invasion began with the vacuum cleaner, launched by the iRobot Roomba with much success in 2002.

Samsung POWERbot VR9000At the January 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Samsung introduced its latest generation of vacuum-cleaning robots. The Samsung POWERbot VR9000 robot vacuum (£815), pictured above, offers “CycloneForce” suction power.
  • Employment trend – The New York Times reports that the American work force has been growing polarized for decades. Highly skilled jobs,


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The Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco

January 26, 2015 by  

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01_FFS_nduja.jpg
02_FFS_fileja.jpg Fileja Calabresi from Bella Italia.
03_FFS_blue_hill_yogurt.jpg Savory yogurts from Blue Hill.
04_FFS_Gradys_Cold_Brew.jpg Grady’s cold brew.
Last week, I hit up the Winter Fancy Food Show, which is always a staggering undertaking, with more than 80,000 international food and beverage products displayed in both the north and south halls of Moscone. I only had one afternoon, so I surfed the aisles and cut through the crowds like a fast shark, looking for obvious prey. A few products I enjoyed sinking my teeth into were:
  • The new/about-to-be-released sriracha potato chips (using sriracha “rooster sauce” from Huy Fong Foods), and they’re also releasing a sriracha seasoning (deviled eggs and popcorn will never be the same). And you know about their sriracha popcorn they made with Pop! Popcorn, right?
  • This was kind of mind-blowing: there’s a new buffalo mozzarella made in the U.S., but using milk from water buffalo in Campania. I. KNOW. Angelo + Franco will also be selling the milk soon in small frozen 500-ml blocks (or more)—your mozzarella-making at home, or ice cream, or whatever, is


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The Ultimate Guide To Olive Oil Tasting & Pairing

January 25, 2015 by  

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Photo courtesy of mythja via Shutterstock. Coconut oil may be trendier, canola oil may be cheaper and sesame oil may be more exotic, but there’s nothing quite like rich, versatile, aromatic olive oil. It’s a healthful cooking base alternative to bad fats like palm oil and margarine, as well as a highlight in itself when paired with a rustic country bread or an antipasti platter. But not all olive oils are created equal, and it takes a bit of know-how to pick and prepare the perfect one. Photo courtesy of B. and E. Dudzinscy via Shutterstock. Photo courtesy of B. and E. Dudzinscy via Shutterstock.

Olive Oil: Where Does It Come From? How Is It Made?

Olive oil is a native Mediterranean foodstuff, historically associated with the hot climates of countries like Greece, Spain and Italy. The rich, golden oil has been used by Mediterranean peoples since as early as 2000 BC, and has long been a popular alternative to butter, which was difficult to store as it would melt in the heat. To this day, olive oil is closely associated with the Mediterranean and some of the finest oils…

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Times Square for Haru’s Glass Cocktails

January 24, 2015 by  

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Anyone else struggling with this weather just a teensy tiny bit?  Winter in NYC just seems to drag post holidays, and I can personally attest to needing a bit of a pep talk in order to leave the apartment, cause that cold that seeps into your bones is just no fun. When I heard about Haru’s new staycation in a glass cocktails, my interest was piqued.  I gave myself a bit of cheerleading “come on Jess, just a few more layers, 19 degrees is really not all that awful, think of the Canadians!  they do this every day!”, bundled up, and headed to their Times Square location to test them out. Cue the sunshine! Haru’s limited-time cocktails, channeling warm weather and beaches all around, surely do a wonderful job of warming you up from the inside out. The Cucumber Gimlet is Haru’s twist on the traditional cocktail, and really speaks to New Year’s purity and lightness with a combination of muddled fresh cucumber, lime and cilantro shaken with homemade simple syrup and the 34-times-distilled Purity vodka. unnamed I’m a gal who enjoys her drinks on the sweeter side, so the Passion Fruit & Lychee Saketini, made with Don Q Pasión…

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