Archive | June, 2012

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Winter Home, Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin West Beijing Tiles

Beijing tiles greet visitors at Taliesin West

Few professionals were more prolific than Frank Lloyd Wright. Over the course of a 70-year career, Wright designed 1,140 works, ranging from personal residences to office buildings to bridges. That works out to more than 16 every year; roughly a new design ever three weeks. 532 of those came to fruition in completed projects, 409 of which are still standing today.

Of that amazing total, we’ve visited just three: the Guggenheim museum in our beloved Manhattan, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, and most recently Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.

And while the coiled design of the Guggenheim stands in a class by itself, we found many similarities between the other two properties. From our previous visit to Fallingwater, we could have easily identified Taliesin as a Wright design even if no one had told us.

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Mainstream Microbrews

Sleepy Dog Brewery, Tempe, AZ

Sleepy Dog Brewery, Tempe, AZ

Over a year ago I repented and confessed my beer bigotry. When we left Manhattan I expected to find most of the country awash in “light and refreshingly boring” American pilsners. I’ve since reformed but am still continuously amazed at the quality and variety of beer we find virtually everywhere we go.

When we rode into Tucson, Arizona, I wasn’t really surprised to find nine different local breweries. We’ve come to expect that. But one in a huge shopping mall? That was indeed a first.

After catching a rare movie at the Foothills Mall, we wandered into Thunder Canyon Brewery. In ages past, such a place would likely have served a line-up of similarly tasteless beers with various amounts of added coloring. The “brewery” a simple marketing gimmick designed to lure adults away from the food court.

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6 Life Changing Things You Can do for the Price of an Average U.S. Wedding

Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

I’m a big fan of marriage. It has been very good to me. And despite the bad rap it usually gets in our popular culture, marriage really is a terrific arrangement – especially, but not surprisingly, for men. Married men earn 20% more than their single counterparts, report higher levels of happiness, and live longer. If men could get those results in a pill it would outsell Viagara ten to one.

What isn’t so beneficial is the ridiculously elaborate ceremony our culture demands to commemorate the occasion. Reuters recently reported that the average U.S. wedding now costs a staggering $27,021. A wedding in high-price Manhattan averages $65,824.

You’d think young couples would have far better uses for $27,000 than a single day’s celebration. In case they need help breaking with tradition, here are six life-changing suggestions for how to use that cash.

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Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park, Tucson, AZ

Even if you’ve never heard of saguaro (sa-WAH-ro) before, chances are you’ll immediately think of the American Southwest the moment you see one. The cacti’s stately silhouette is used to brand everything from Old El Paso food products to westerns filmed throughout the southwest. Only the saguaro doesn’t naturally grow within 250 miles of El Paso, TX or in most southwestern states, for that matter. The tree-like cactus makes its home exclusively in the Sonora desert, which covers parts of Arizona, California, and Mexico.

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Some like it Hot

While it’s not necessarily the best economic development, it is fantastic news for those of us who think the domestic palate needs radical de-sissification. For too long we’ve lived in a desert of blandness where food is prepared to coddle the most sensitive tongues. So I have to admit I was delighted to see hot sauce production rank as the 8th fastest growing U.S. industry in a recent IBIS World Special Report.

During our travels we’ve noticed the changes too. From the growing number of hot sauce bars, like Peppers of Key West, to spicy menu options that actually have some spice, our nation’s taste for heat is definitely on an upward trend.

That trend is easily explained by the glorious proliferation of ethnic cuisine making its way through the U.S. along with an expanding population of immigrants from spice loving regions. But what explains our taste for spicy food more generally?

Surprisingly, that question still confounds scientists. Spice isn’t a flavor like sweet or sour. It is pure pain, indistinguishable by the body from the kind caused by a physical burn.

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