Aesthetics of Everywhere

The urban scene, its people and processes. Based in southern California.

TAKOTOR 2016: Inaugural Takotor by the Numbers

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Our inaugural “Takotor” ride in February found a group of us cycling thirty miles around Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, sampling local taco joints. Thanks to visiting friends Hyunoo and Tif for inspiring us to show you a bit of California living.

Hungry riders: 8
And we’re already thinking of the second mouthwatering Takotor, so keep your ears to the ground for the next round.

Taco (and burrito) purveyors: 5

  • Stacky’s Seaside in Summerland (now closed, I hear) for breakfast burritos
  • Taqueria Rincon Alteno, a gas station taqueria in Carpinteria with loaded up veggie tacos
  • Tacos Don Roge, close to Carpinteria beach
  • Taqueria La Colmena in Santa Barbara, a near-unanimous fave by the group
  • Taqueria El Bajio in Santa Barbara

Ratings collected through TakoScore: 34
At our second stop, Sheldon came up with a quick and easy taco rating system so we could collect our comparisons of all the taquerias visited throughout the day. And thus TakoScore was born! It evolved throughout the day to include previously-overlooked metrics. In the end, we landed on measuring the following aspects of each taco purveyor: taste, mouthfeel, ingredients, ambiance, salsas, and the open-to-interpretation sexiness.

Venue Taste Mouthfeel Ingredients Ambiance Salsas Sexiness
STACKYS 4.2 4.3 3.3 4.3 3.0 3.8
RINCON ALTENO 3.3 2.7 3.6 2.7 3.0 2.7
DON ROGE 2.1 2.7 2.4 5.0 3.3 2.7
LA COLMENA 4.9 4.9 4.6 4.6 4.9 4.7
EL BAJIO 3.5 4.6 3.6 3.4 3.3 3.0

takotor 2016: "The horizon is an endless taco."

Brewery stops: 2
Stopped for pints at Island Brewing and BrewLAB in Carpinteria.

Cafe breaks: 1
Just the one stop at one of our favorite Carp joints, Lucky Llama!

Churros: 0
To the dismay of our ridership, once we finally located the mystical churro shop, they had run out of churros for the day. Next TakoTor must return.

Written by Crystal Bae

April 29th, 2016 at 10:01 am

Reflections on 2015

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Here’s my year 2015, recapped in approximate order. I’ve been doing very little blogging despite much happening in my life, but the new year is a nice time to reflect on how things have been developing.

Walking to Knapp's Castle

Read onto the recap!

Written by Crystal Bae

January 6th, 2016 at 7:55 am

Thanksgiving Bike Tour: Palmdale to Santa Barbara, California

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Thankful for the families that we’re born into and the families that we find. Thanksgiving is a favorite time for me, a festive holiday centered around food and family. The past couple years have been tough in that I haven’t been able to spend Thanksgiving with my family, missing out on the mornings catching up with cousins and the hours spent cooking up a feast of Korean and American comforts. But we’ve been fortunate on the west coast, too, welcomed by friends to their dinner tables and making a little community of our own out here. This year we were invited by friends to join in on their new tradition of taking a Thanksgiving bike tour, and I can’t imagine a better way to have spent the long weekend.

Read on about the tour

Written by Crystal Bae

November 30th, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Errandonnee 2015

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I know our “winter” here is very different from winter in DC, but hey, the Errandonnee Challenge is open to all! Judging by everyone else’s photos and entries so far, the errandonnee is a great way to herald the coming of spring. Here’s my write-up from this year’s challenge. This isn’t so much a “challenge” as a pleasant way to work more utilitarian riding into your week while connecting with bike-minded people all over the country (and the world?). Ride your bike to complete at least 12 errands in 12 days. Simple, right?

Onto my entry for 2015.

Thursday, March 5, 2015 | Category: Store
Took an extended lunch break to ride 5.9 miles to the bike shop. Had to get my derailleur tuned up after an unsuccessful (but not horrendous) attempt to fix it myself. Bikes seem to take a beating when transported often in a trailer alongside many other bikes.

Three Pickles in Goleta, CA Cyclists on Goleta Beach

Continue onto the rest…

Written by Crystal Bae

March 17th, 2015 at 10:16 pm

The Speed of Change

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When you’ve lived in a place for awhile and move away, the gradual changes become more obvious with each separate visit. But I think all longtime residents of Washington DC would agree that development in the city is accelerating. Neighborhoods like Shaw, Navy Yard, Bloomingdale, and 14th Street (does this stretch of 14th from about Q to U Streets have its own name yet?) have seen significant upheaval in the last year or so since I’ve moved away. And the sheer amount of construction that’s happening even now is staggering.

H Street Streetcar Testing

The Old/New Wonder Bread Factory

This past weekend we caught the Crafty Bastards art market (following the trends from Adams Morgan to Union Market), saw the new streetcars on their test runs along the H Street tracks, and happened upon some Art All Night activities in Shaw. Performers scaling the column of a building, a few pieces played for the crowd in the street by the Batala drummers, and masses of people crowding the reimagined Wonder Bread Factory.

And also: lots of new hometown brews.

Right Proper Brews

Written by Crystal Bae

September 25th, 2014 at 7:04 am

Chicago’s neighborhoods and skyscrapers

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We took a little break from work and spent a few days in Chicago this past Labor Day weekend. My second time in the city was a new look at the skyscraper-filled Midwestern city on Lake Michigan.

My first visit, in 2007 for Pitchfork Music Fest, was a short roadtrip from DC. I stayed in a downtown Chicago hostel in a room with ten (!) people, listened to Sonic Youth, GZA, and others play great sets in the park, took a very informative walking tour of the city, and tried deep dish pizza for the first time at Pizzeria Uno.

Chicago skyline at brunch

This visit, 7 years later, I tried an AirBnB rental for the first time and loved it, attended the incredible blowout wedding of two good friends, explored the “finally up-and-coming” Logan Square neighborhood, took an equally informative river boat tour of Chicago architecture, and had deep dish at Lou Malnati’s.

And the first time I was in Chicago I had no idea that in the 19th century, the city (buildings and all!) had been raised and that the original flow of the river had been reversed, both for water sanitation reasons. Knowing this gave me renewed respect for Chicago’s history and its incredible feats of engineering, not to mention its architectural heritage.

Chicago river boat tour of architecture

We were sad to leave Chicago and city life behind, but glad to leave the humidity. Southern California living makes you soft.

Written by Crystal Bae

September 3rd, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Sequoia National Forest

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Peaceful camping in Sequoia National Forest last weekend, tucked away under the majestic trees while Fourth of July crowds gathered along the banks of the Kern River.

On the Trail of 100 Giants

Trees as far as the eye can see

Written by Crystal Bae

July 12th, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Posted in camping,travel

Six Years, Blogging Here

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I haven’t been writing on this blog as much since starting grad school, which I could have expected since I’m doing plenty of writing otherwise. But I’ve completed a year in my program here and managed to do it without too much lost sleep, so that’s one thing to celebrate! I’m grateful for all the support I have, both here and back home in DC, and have no regrets about the decision to come here. My department is filled with inspiring people who challenge me to consider new perspectives and help me flesh out new ideas. This summer I’ll be conducting research with one of them and also starting data collection for my thesis, making several Los Angeles trips, and hopefully doing plenty of cycling and rock climbing.

Department's 40th Anniversary

Celebrated the 40th anniversary of our department with geo-cake.

And happy six years to my blog. I started this “new blog” in 2008 (and I’m sure the one before was plenty embarrassing, since it was probably started in my high school or undergrad years). Here’s to six more?

Written by Crystal Bae

June 20th, 2014 at 9:26 am

CicLAvia Takes to the Streets

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CicLAvia’s “Iconic Wilshire Boulevard” event this Sunday brought the masses out to Wilshire Boulevard on foot, bikes, skateboards, and even some creative ‘freak bikes’ to see their city streets in a new way: without its usual stream of cars. The six miles of Wilshire blocked off to cars and opened to people became the stage for spontaneous activity, crowds drifting between music and food vendors and art, families lounging on the lawns and people-watching.

CicLAvia 2014 Wilshire Boulevard

I’m fully supportive of these open streets events, modeled off of Bogotá, Colombia’s successful and recurring Ciclovía event (it happens weekly – can you believe it?). I loved being able to volunteer during Santa Barbara’s own version of it, SB Open Streets, which took place for the first time in November 2013, and it was inspiring to witness another such event close to home. CicLAvia, a larger event that has now been running for four years, has two more events planned for this year: “Heart of LA” on October 5th and “South LA” on December 7th.

Written by Crystal Bae

April 6th, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Views of the Getty Center

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A long overdue new blog post. We finally made it out to the Getty Center to tour the grounds and explore their exhibits.

The Getty Center sits nestled in the mountains and they don’t allow you to drive all the way up to it. You exit off the 405 and enter a monstrously large parking garage – the sensors detecting open spots list numbers in the hundreds for a parking section – then hop onto a tram from this utopian station.

Tram ride from parking garage to Getty Center

The layout of the museum complex is designed to cast you outside as you browse the exhibits. Plenty of picturesque spots to sit, too.

Seating area between wings of the Getty

Getty cafe and lawn

We took a short architecture tour of the Getty and our guide pointed out a great variety of details that architect Richard Meier worked into the buildings and the complex.

Tour group admiring fossils

Fountain at the Getty Center

The Pollock exhibit was packed. But overall it didn’t feel crowded during our visit. The other wings of the museum were mostly quiet, especially for a place that has a parking capacity of over 1,000 cars.

Popular Pollock

Views of downtown LA

And the views towards downtown Los Angeles are very welcome. If the sky had been more clear, you could have made out another set of LA skyscrapers in the historic downtown core. Here you can see the skyscrapers of Century City and Westwood areas well.

Written by Crystal Bae

March 25th, 2014 at 2:20 pm