Month: October 2013

Interactive Flash Map of Citibike NYC Locations

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Shooting for Big Button Upholstery Begins!

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Courtesy Big Button Upholstery

Ever wondered about the story that lies behind an old piece of furniture? Who sat in that chair? What documents were drafted on top of that 100-year-old desk?

And perhaps the more important question to ask: why restore old pieces when we can so easily buy new, modern, and in fact cheaper furniture from, say, IKEA or Target? Is it for sentimentality? Or sustainability? Something else?

For one married couple living in Ithaca, the art of preserving such history is not only a livelihood, but a passion. And that’s what this documentary aims to deliver to you, the audience. Stay tuned for more updates on the filming, production and release of this short feature, and perhaps even some insight about these stationary things we use every day, but rarely give a second thought.

Young wine connoisseur flies solo on new venture

By John Vogan and Kristen Tomkowid

Scott Bronstein tasted his first wine at the age of 13 during his uncle’s wedding in Sonoma, Calif. At that moment, with his senses piqued among the gorgeous vineyards, his passion for the wine industry began.

Bronstein, now 25, officially opened Barnstormer Winery in Rock Stream, NY with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 4. The operation has been a year in the making and first opened its doors in September.


The Finger Lakes region is home to over 200 wineries, and that is a challenge Barnstormer faces. However, Bronstein hopes his organic and homegrown approach to winemaking will attract people, especially younger consumers, to his winery.

Kyle Knapton, tasting room manager at Barnstormer, specifically highlights one of Barnstormer’s specialty wines: Ecstasy, a semi-sparkling sweet red blend that pairs well with desserts.

“I’ve described it to younger people as Twizzler-flavored Pop Rocks,” said Knapton. “It’s a candy wine. I definitely recommend it for parties or making a really nice sparkling Sangria out of.”

A historical inspiration fused with a more youthful atmosphere is one way he says will set them apart from competitors.

The 1800’s barn used to be home to the Arcadian Estate Winery. Since it closed and had a rundown appearance, Bronstein decided to give the place a much-needed facelift.

Bronstein’s mother came up with the new name for the winery. Barnstormers were entertainment pilots from the early 20th century. Some were daredevilish stunt pilots, while others would sell plane rides on their flights across the county.

Since their opening, around 200-250 people come in on Saturdays to partake in tastings and buy wine.

This past weekend marked the busiest time for wineries in the Finger Lakes region with products from the previous harvest season ready for tasting, said Knapton.

“We want to be fun and laid back, but we also want to make good wine,” said Knapton. “We don’t want to be bad wine that’s just a fun place to come. We want to do all those things, which is ambitious, but so far so good.”

Barnstormer offers twelve wines in their tasting room; a sampling of five wines costs $3.

Catching the Cayuga wind: the story behind the sail

By John Vogan & Sara Webb

In his blue floral-printed Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses, Eberhard Alsen happily greets two Cornell sailing students from his sailboat, a white 1986 Tanzer 25. 

For Alsen, sailing is a family tradition. His father once owned two yacht clubs in Berlin, which he only learned aboutThe tranquility of Cayuga Lake is a long ways from his war-marked childhood, not only in distance and time, but also perspective. Nice.

Alsen was born in Nuremberg but moved several times during World War II. He studied American literature and immigrated to the U.S. in 1962 at the age of 26.

Alsen’s boat, FANTASY, was named because he liked the idea of ‘imagination’ — the German translation — and how a mind could wander out on the water. It can sail at up to of 6.3 knots (about 7 miles per hour), but in late September Alsen claims he sailed at 6.7 knots. The challenge of figuring out how to maximize speed is one reason he enjoys sailing so much, Alsen said.

“I still don’t know how we got it to go that fast [that time]” Alsen said.

But passion like Alsen’s is fading. The popularity in the sport has seen a steady decline over the years. Since he joined the cruising fleet in 1986, the number of boats racing regularly has dropped from 50 to eight.

The still struggling economy that took a turn for the worse in 2008 could be one explanation, he said. But he hopes the trend is only temporary and perhaps part of a cycle.

One of the particular aspects of sailing, Alsen believes, is its unique qualities of being relaxing and exciting at the same time.

“All pressure just dissipates as soon as I’m out on the water,” Alsen said. “You concentrate on the wind and the waves… You have no time to think about anything else.”