Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why I Use Twitter

I use Twitter... listen to Lehigh Valley buzz (and tweets). find people who like the same things than I do. Like parades, dogs, local shopping and restaurants, running, cities, music, art... find people who like different things than I do. Like airsoft, knitting and breeding alpacas. engage in an instant dialogue. Like, what is going on in ___ tonight? provide helpful suggestions to people looking for answers. Even if they aren't asking me directly. :) test my ability to keep it short and simple. 140 chars or less. get reader feedback. admit it, you know you don't comment on the blog! give an instant shout-out to local businesses and the people who visit them with me. learn about news as it happens. especially Rt 22 traffic jams and errant signals on Schoenersville Rd. Happy Bday, @Twitter!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lehigh Grad Student Announceme​nts and Events

In my spare time between authoring this blog, working full time and keeping up with Stella pup's running schedule, I am a part-time graduate student at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. I receive at least one email every day from the university, sharing Announceme​nts and Events on campus. Often, the email mentions that the events are open to the public, although I doubt that they are publicized widely. Yesterday's email included a few upcoming events that seemed worth sharing. If you aren't sure where the buildings are located, check out this campus map. All events are free and open to the public.

The region's colleges and universities offer a variety of free and ticketed events, from performances to lectures to festivals, year-round. I'll make an effort to share some of the other schools' events in future posts.

  • HUMANITIES CENTER - EXCESS LECTURE SERIES LOIS PARKINSON ZAMORA - Professor of English, History, and Art, University of Houston Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 4:10pm - *Maginnes Hall, Room 102* EXHUBERANCE BY DESIGN: NEW WORLD BAROQUE AND THE POLITICS OF POSTCOLONIALITY. "Excess is not excessive, you see, if it's been conceived on principle." ~Edmund Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac In the 17th and 18th centuries, the New World Baroque was conceived and implemented in the service of European conquest and conversion. Over the past few decades, however, it has become a principle of counterconquest, a sign of the cultural convergences and energies of Indo-Afro-Ibero-America. Professor Zamora will trace this evolution and show how the New World Baroque now encodes postcolonial purposes in much of Latin America. Lois Parkinson Zamora is the author of The Inordinate Eye: New World Baroque and Latin American Fiction (University of Chicago Press, 2006), a comparative study of New World Baroque art, architecture and literature. Her previous books include Writing the Apocalypse (Cambridge UP, 1989) and The Usable Past (Cambridge UP 1997), both of which examine the nature of historical imagination and its representations in contemporary U.S. and Latin American fiction. Her most recent publication is an edited anthology of essays on the New World Baroque, co-edited with Monika Kaup, titled Baroque New Worlds: Representation, Transculturation, Counterconquest (Duke UP, 2010). Co-sponsored with Latin American Studies, English and Art, Architecture, and Design - Email or call 610-758-4649 for more information.

  • The Richard O. and Cindy F. Connell Lecture Series Prof. George M. Marsden will present his lecture "How Otherworldly Fundamentalism Became a Political Power," on Wednesday, March 30th, at 8:00 PM, in Sinclair Auditorium. Much of the new religious right that arose beginning in the late 1970s was built on a Protestant fundamentalist base. Yet American fundamentalism through most of the 20th century had generally avoided organized political involvement. They had instead emphasized personal salvation and the return of Jesus to set up his kingdom on earth. This lecture will describe the factors involved in this remarkable transformation that remains important for understanding aspects of the current American political scene. Prof. Marsden received his Ph.D. from Yale University, taught history at Calvin College, was Professor of the History of Christianity in America at the Divinity School of Duke University, and was the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Lecture is free and open to the public. For more information call 610-758-3353 or email.

  • FAZLUR R. KHAN DISTINGUISHED LECTURE Sponsored by the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the Department of Art & Architecture, honors Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan's legacy of excellence in structural engineering and architecture. The third 2011 lecture is as follows: Chris D. Poland, Chairman & CEO, Degenkolb Engineers, San Francisco, CA - "Building Disaster Resilient Communities" Friday, April 8, 2011 - 4:10 pm Location: Sinclair Lab Auditorium, Lehigh University, 7 Asa Drive, Bethlehem, PA Building Disaster Resilient Communities: Healthy cities continuously grow by driving economic development while protecting their cultural heritage. Success, in part, depends on a healthy built environment that is rooted in contemporary urban planning, sustainability and disaster resilience. Our job, as design professionals, is to provide a built environment that supports all of those goals. Our designs need to be efficient, economical, adaptive, sustainable, and disaster resilient, regardless of which disaster strikes. We are doing well on all fronts except for the last. We need to develop, and have added to the code, provisions that will provide the buildings and lifelines needed to support disaster resilience. Resilient communities have a credible disaster response plan that assures a place and ability to govern after a disaster has struck. While making the shift to updated codes requires new policies and community support, that change is not possible without solid, unified support from the science, architecture and engineering communities that support design. We need to take the time to understand this issue, join the conversation about how to achieve resiliency, build it into our research programs, convince our owners to incorporate it in their projects, and be a part of the common voice from our profession on how to change the codes. If you would like additional information about the Khan Distinguished Lecture Series please visit the web site or email Leslie J. Ladick or call 610-758-6123. This lecture is free and open to the public.

  • STEPS Dedication: Join the party as Lehigh celebrates the dedication of STEPS, its new facility for Science, Technology, Environment, Policy, and Society. An open house and self-guided tours begin at 5:00 p.m., immediately following the Academic Symposium. A short ceremony will be held at 5:45 p.m. to recognize the individuals and organizations who brought the project to life. Refreshments will be served! RSVP online. Contact University Events at 610-758-3898 or email for more information.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lehigh Valley definitions: Tricky Tray or "Chinese" Auction

When I moved to the Lehigh Valley, I noticed signs posted along the road, in church parking lots and in front of schools for "Tricky Tray." I had never heard this term before, so I asked someone. They didn't know what it was. I asked another person and she said it was some kind of fundraiser. Another person asked me whether that was like a Chinese auction. You're asking me if it's like a Chinese auction? When I don't know what the terms Tricky Tray or Chinese auction mean? And what makes it Chinese, exactly?

Here's the definition so you look smart at the PTO meeting or water cooler when someone drops these terms:

Tricky Tray

Synonyms: penny sale, penny auction, penny social, gift auction, chinese auction, silent auction, brown bag auction, basket social dark horse, basket games

A fund raising event for a church, school or other organization where guests buy tickets, then place them in a container next to the item they would like to win. Items can be a single item or a group of items based on a theme. Once everyone has had the opportunity to place his or her tickets in the container, the drawing for the prizes begins. If your number matches the winning number drawn, you win that prize. Source:

Chinese auction

A combination of a raffle and an auction that is typically featured at charity, church festival and numerous other events. Can also be known as penny social, tricky tray or pick-a-prize according to local custom, or to avoid any reference to nationality. The difference between a raffle and a Chinese auction is that in a raffle with multiple prizes, there is one "hat" from which names are drawn, but in a Chinese auction each prize has its own "hat." This allows ticket buyers to choose which prize to focus on. It is unclear whether this type of auction actually originates in China; it is much more likely that the term derives from "chance auction," which is also another name for this type of auction. The term "Chinese" may have been used in this case to convey that this type of auction was mysterious, intriguing, or secretive. Source: Wikipedia

Friday, March 25, 2011

Try new things, meet new people this week in the Lehigh Valley

Recently I mentioned that attending beer and wine tastings was a great way to meet people. If you needed more encouragement, there are three events happening in the next week that would give you an excuse to get out of the house.

Brownie Tasting
If you're into delicious baked goods, music and friendly people who also like baked goods and music, check out the second annual Brownie Tasting Sunday, Mar. 27, 2-4 p.m, at Terra Cafe (formerly Wildflower Cafe) at 326 S. New St. in South Bethlehem. Dina Hall and Beth Sherby will entertain the crowd, and Gail from Backdoor Bakeshop will provide snacks for your consideration. Make a day of it by getting a taco at General Zapata (15 E. 4th Street, Bethlehem), or a sandwich at Goosey Gander (102 W 4th St, Bethlehem, known to locals as "The Goose") before you go, and work off the extra calories by walking over to Loose Threads Boutique (9 West Fourth St., Bethlehem) and Home & Planet (25 E. Third St., Bethlehem) before you head home.

Allentown Restaurant Week
Or, if you want to try a new restaurant (or enjoy a great "old" one again - Bay Leaf is the only one on the list that's been in Allentown more than 5 years), visit downtown Allentown next week for its inaugural Restaurant Week starting March 28. You don't even have to find a parking space or pay to park. From my girl Kelly Huth at

Fixed-price lunches are $10 to $15, and dinners cost $20 to $30. Participating restaurants include Sangria, Cosmopolitan Restaurant, Made In Brazil, The Bay Leaf, Allentown Brew Works and Bada Bingg. Bada Bingg will offer breakfast for $5.

Free parking is available at...The Bay Leaf, Sangria and Cosmopolitan (valet parking). Bada Bingg, Allentown Brew Works and Made In Brazil will validate tickets from the parking deck.
Spring Home Show
Also this weekend, check out the Spring Home Show at Lehigh University. It's always a lively, casual event where you can dream about projects and find experts who can make them a reality in your home. Make sure you check out the promo video on the LVBA web site and watch for the host requesting whipped cream in the hot tub! The event will take place inside Stabler Arena, which is dangerously close to the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Indie Hardware Stores in the Lehigh Valley

It's springtime, which means it's time to spend your weekend mornings in line at Lowe's or Home Depot... fighting for the last bag of mulch and searching for someone who can answer your question.

Or, check out your local hardware store. They may not have a circular in your Sunday paper. They may not be located just off a highway exit. But many are still surviving and thriving in our communities, because sometimes, service and convenience beat size and Low Low Prices.

We're lucky to have two of these gems within a stone's throw of home - Aykroyd Hardware (743 N. New St., North Bethlehem) and Cantelmi's Hardware (521 E. 4th St., South Bethlehem). Cantelmi was in the news recently because they're renting space in their building (above the hardware store and below the Yoga Loft of Bethlehem) to Bethlehem's economic development department, which will turn lease space to start-ups (perhaps in a co-working/Hive fashion).

Cantelmi's is also dear to my heart, because when a group of volunteers needed supplies to paint the inside of a women's shelter, the store provided the supplies we needed at cost, without hesitation. The store will always have my business for their generosity, as well as their kind assistance (including recommending the paint brand - durable for kids - and shade - "would this be a calming bedroom color?").

What's your favorite hardware store?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Best of the Valley

Just like American Idol, Lehigh Valley Magazine's "Best of the Valley" contest is not about actual quality, but rather, which contestants can mobilize their fans to vote for them. Unless you're Apollo Grill, in which case, you don't have to campaign.

If you're new to the area, the page of each year's winners provides a good checklist of things to do and places to visit. At least you know you won't be alone!

In DC, being picked for Washingtonian Magazine could put an indie restaurant out of business - the onslaught of suburbanite foodies was too much for many small kitchens to handle. A great place like Two Amys pizza (which I've mentioned before) loses its luster once the wait for a table on a Wednesday night stretches beyond two hours, or the quality of the food suffers in an effort to expedite dishes from the kitchen. Lehigh Valley Magazine's contest doesn't seem have the same effect.

Check out the full list of last year's winners here. The deadline to vote for the 2011 Lehigh Valley Magazine contest is April 1.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Indie Film and Comedy in Bethlehem

Because I love ArtsQuest, and Jon is endlessly amusing, AND I'll bet you don't know much about the plans for comedy and independent film coming to SteelStacks in Bethlehem... I share this video for your viewing enjoyment. If you want to get content like this delivered to your inbox, just visit the ArtsQuest web page to sign up for Q Mail.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More sports for adults in/near the Lehigh Valley

One of the best way to connect with people when you move to a new area is through shared, physical, and sometimes somewhat unusual (in the Lehigh Valley), interests.

One of my colleagues was doing some research on polo last week. I bet him that there wasn't a polo club in the Lehigh Valley and was right (phew). He discovered a polo club not too far south of the Lehigh Valley in Tinicum Park, PA (Bucks County). Beginning in May, the Tinicum Park Polo Club features a weekly match on Saturday afternoons. Tickets are $5/car. For information about becoming a player on Tinicum Polo Club, contact Club Manager Hesham El-Gharby at (908) 996-3321.

I recently received an email that might interest Lehigh Valley street hockey and roller hockey athletes and fans. Do you know about the Allentown Ball Hockey League? They have an informative web site, and the group is organized by volunteers who make sure hockey lovers can play together year-round. For more information, contact Brian Newton at 610-351-5299 or visit the league's web site for details.

If polo and street hockey aren't your thing, here's a good list of Lehigh Valley sports organizations that help you experience Airsoft, Christian fellowship leagues, Grand Prix, cycling at the Velodrome, karate, and more, right here in the Lehigh Valley.

Monday, March 14, 2011

LV Natives vs. LV Transplants

Recently, the author of the blog entitled Citizens vs. Commissioner Kern wrote about the "split" between transplants and natives in the Lehigh Valley. Being the self-proclaimed transplant writer in the region, I couldn't let it go unaddressed.

I am disturbed by the gross generalizations made in the post and subsequent comments, claiming all transplants are from New Jersey and New York (and, that means something bad). My friends, including transplants from other US states (Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Massachusetts, rural parts of Pennsylvania), and even other countries (Greece, Puerto Rico, Pakistan, Russia and Jordan to name a few), would disagree. And I'm sure most of my Valley native friends would, too.

How could a group whose only commonality is their mutual interest in living in the Lehigh Valley have exactly the same traits? I wonder if instead the problem is that the blog has given a sounding board to a vocal minority of natives who find anyone who wasn't born and bred where they were, to be "rude, outspoken cretins"?

I have re-blogged it here and welcome your thoughtful insights and constructive comments.
Transplants Vs. Natives- A Lehigh Valley Dilemma
Posted on March 10, 2011 by
In the previous blog entry there were a handful of comments which seemed to amplify the split between Lehigh Valley natives and transplants. For the readers outside of Whitehall and the Valley, transplants are folks who moved to the area from New York and New Jersey. For over twenty years there has been a steady stream of families from NY and NJ moving into the Valley. The cost of living and quality of life is more attractive here and definitely worth a longer commute to work. The migration of these people has brought about a number of changes to the Valley. Most have been genuinely beneficial and welcome. Some have not.

Although people from NY and NJ have woven themselves into the fabric of the Lehigh Valley and Whitehall and made their mark, tensions exist and not all of the natives are welcoming. On the flip side of the coin, not all of the transplants feel welcome or are likely to try and integrate themselves into the communities they live in. Occasionally, these tensions reach the boiling point and spill over.

Transplants have brought about some major changes to the area. Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton can now be considered the western edge of the NYC empire. They’ve surged out here in droves, eager to find a better life. For the most part they have found it. The real estate market here, in spite of it’s (sic) current woes, has expanded dramatically. New housing developments sprouted up by the bushel and homes were quickly gobbled up by transplants. House prices and property taxes in the Valley are far more attractive than they are in New Jersey or NYC. Transplants have established a large influence. The appearance of high end stores and new malls
can be attributed directly to the presence of former New Yorkers and New Jersey
residents. They want a slice of their former life to be available closer to
their new homes. The LV mall would never have been expanded if the Valley was
not NY/NJ west. Wegmans, the Promenade Shoppes, Macys, and a host of other
stores would not be here either. The demand for them would be nonexistent.
Native Valley residents are more likely to shop at WalMart or Boscovs then (sic) Macys or Brooks Brothers.

A vociferous group of natives would be happy if all of the transplants just got up and went back to New York and New Jersey. They have not welcomed the changes. New houses they cannot afford. Stores they can’t afford to shop in. In their eyes the transplants are rude, outspoken cretins who have taken over the Valley and have no respect for the folks who’ve lived here all of their lives. It’s a deep insult to natives that the transplant crowd seems to want nothing to do with the Valley’s rich history. I saw a serious collision of culture during the 2009 World Series. It was apparent that the Lehigh Valley was as much a bastion of NY Yankee fans as it was a bastion of Philly fans.

Yesterday, there was a discussion between posters on a previous entry that seemed to exemplify the divide between natives and transplants. We have to get along and go on as best we can. No matter if you were born in Long Island or Forks. This place is home for all of us. In the words of Rodney King: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Best of Lehigh Valley Blogs contest

I am blushing!!

The Morning Call's blog contest is in full swing, and thanks to nominations from anonymous fans (wow - thank you!), LV Transplant has been nominated in multiple categories.

The contest is a great opportunity to highlight some of the Lehigh Valley's very talented (and often very humorous) local bloggers. It's been my pleasure to share content with many of them, meet them in person at Tweetups and other community events, and support their initiatives, fundraisers, and awareness campaigns. If the goal is to improve the quality of life here in Lehigh Valley, I'm for it. Whether they write for fun (like I do), because it's their job to do so, or to support their small business, I am an avid reader, re-tweeter, and follower.

So thanks for your vote of confidence in nominating me. Now's the time to vote! If you need suggestions, please support me and my friends! Thanks very much for your ongoing support. And in case you were curious, there's no cash prize here - just a framed certificate and the right to brag that your blog is loved. << Vote here >>

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Keeping up with the latest Lehigh Valley news

How do I keep up with Lehigh Valley happenings? Method #28, since I don't have a lot of time, I use an RSS feed (by way of Google Reader) to aggregate all the online content I like to keep up with. Instead of keeping them as "favorites" in Internet Explorer, I add them to the feed and they automatically deliver content into the feed anytime a blog gets updated. Now you know my secret. That's how I learned about these little tidbits. If you aren't following these blogs, I would recommend that you start today.

Review: Mama Nina Foccaceria from The El Vee
Mama Nina’s Foccaceria is a small setting tucked in a cozy space on Main Street in Bethlehem that, for outsiders looking in, always seems jammed with foodies. Even outside in the summer the diners spill out onto the patio and chow down al fresco. Why does the restaurant always seemed to be packed? Click here for more.

Moravian Book Shop welcomes Retro Deli from Lehigh Valley Food by Kelly Huth @ The Express-Times
Retro Deli replaces Dave's Deli & Gelato. Click here for more.(I stopped in for a sandwich made with Boar's Head meat earlier this week and got a yummy wheatberry salad with it.)

Lamenting Hess’s from Allentown Afterthoughts by Jeff Pooley
The Hess’s lament™ isn’t just Allentown. Aaron Renn, writing in his Urbanophile blog. Click here for more.
(Jim Russell views Generation X as the heartland of Rust Belt Chic. I'm not sure I love the title, but it's true - most people my age are interested in improving cities, not longing for days gone by and/or complaining about how cities are now. BTW Sadly, Jeff's blog is still up but will no longer be updated.)

Sangria is changing things around for Allentown with it’s new celebrity chef Abe Lopez by LV Scene
Foodies take note. Chef Abe Lopez, who earned a first place finish on Food Network’s “Chopped,” has taken the helm of the kitchen at Sangria, the chic streamlined eatery owned by Easton restaurateur George Meieles, who added Sangria to his collection of boutique restaurants last August. Click here for more.
(I have never seen this TV show but celebrity chefs are rarer than people who order a fish whole, so WELCOME ABE to the A.B.E. region!!)

March Happy Hour from Lehigh Valley Running Scene by Jill
The next Runner’s Happy Hour will be taking place on Wednesday, March 30th beginning at 6:00 pm. We will be returning to Brew Works on the Green for $1 drink specials (Flagship Beers, House Wines and Well Drinks) between 6:00-7:00 pm but hope you’ll hang out longer than that. Click here for more.

This is Why I Live Here (Easton), Interviews by Kelly Prentice, Photos by Larry Fink on Laini's Little Guide
They flee from New York City and elsewhere, because they found a warehouse building at a price they couldn’t pass up. Or because Easton reminds them of a place they once knew, long ago and far away. Maybe it’s because their friend Karl Stirner convinced them to come. Or because of its historic charm and the opportunity to create art in seeming anonymity. We talked with four Easton artists about why they moved here. This is what they told us. Click here for more.
(Laini picked me and a few other bloggers you might recognize to be featured in the next Bethlehem guide, so stay tuned!)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

How to Meet People in the Lehigh Valley (Way #455)

Q: How do you meet new people in the Lehigh Valley?

A. Numerous organizations host beer dinners, wine tastings and wine pairing nights. Each event I've attended has seated guests around communal tables, and staged the evening so there's plenty of time for conversation with your table-mates. Going it alone isn't a problem - nearly everyone who goes to an event like this is going to be friendly. If they weren't, they'd just stay home and read a book about it.

OR - and this is Lehigh Valley Friendmaking 2.0, people so bear with me - use an event like a beer dinner as a way to get to know someone better. Maybe your neighbor, co-worker or person who you see at the gym might like to join you. Identify an event that you want to attend, then ask around. It's a lot easier than figuring out a random night for coffee or happy hour. "Yeah - we should definitely get together sometime." Then you never do, admit it.

One upcoming event is the Melting Pot's annual St. Patrick's Day Beer Dinner, March 17 at 6 p.m. Stoudt's Brewing Company and The Melting Pot have organized an evening of fondue, paired with fantastic craft beer. You don't even need to place an order or split a check! How easy is that?

Ocean (235 Ferry St. Easton) hosts a very popular wine dinner, so popular it isn't even advertised. I would recommend them to anyone who is looking to learn something, taste good food and booze, and maybe even make a friend.

P.S. Drink responsibly. :)