Philadelphia

How to Spot a Job Using Twitter (WetFeet Magazine)

It’s easy to see Twitter as merely a source of amusement—especially if your feed is bogged down with inane, minute-by-minute updates from friends and celebrities. After all, who cares what Nick Nolte had for breakfast or that your cousin lost her keys again?      

But Twitter can be so much more than a workday distraction. It can be a powerful career tool. More and more recruiters are turning to social media powerhouses such as LinkedIn and Twitter to find candidates and communicate open positions. Plus, with a little savvy, Twitter can be great for building your network, gaining industry know-how, and uncovering unofficial job leads.     

Before you start tweeting your beak off, though, be sure you’re up to date on Twitter etiquette.

1. Be a Pro
Your Twitter profile will be one of the first things a recruiter finds when he Googles you, so from the moment you create an account you should make sure to put your professional face forward.

First foray into advertorial writing: Universum Top100 in the New York Times

Last week I wrote a little bit about reinvention following my move from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to rural Vermont, where I've been freelancing full time while looking for work. That's required quite a bit of reinvention — I'm back into the print newspaper business with an article in Seven Days about winterizing the Shelburne Museum, I started blogging about my outdoor (mis)adventures for the Eastern Mountain Sports blog and on November 17, this issue of the Universum Top 100 came out in the New York Times. My interviews with executives and other businessmen and women start on page 10.

Decorator unleashes the potential of her own home (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

At an age when most of her peers were riding bikes and playing dress-up, Laura Riedel was decorating. As a third grader, she kept a notebook full of design ideas, and she remembers the moment she walked into a friend's house whose living room was decorated "just right."

In her own house, she didn't have it as easy. When her mother told her she could choose the carpet for her bedroom, Laura requested a specific yellow hue, "but when I came home from school, the carpet was gold, and I really had a fit."

"I painted the walls apple green anyway, but it really mattered to me that the carpet wasn't the right color, and that my mother wouldn't replace it," she says. "I guess that should have been a clue that this was going to be a longtime hobby."

At 52, Laura's canvases are bigger. She designs with her husband, Ralph, 54, and their three adult children in mind, but her quest for good design is a constant.

Sometimes, it's an easy fix - she'll even rearrange the furniture in a hotel room or a rented condo if it doesn't feel right. Other times, it's more of a challenge.

When they first looked at a house for sale on a quiet lane in Radnor in early 2006, it was "really awful," Laura says. Built in the 1950s, it looked very institutional, with flat lines, a hip roof, and plain windows. An angled wrought-iron railing fractured the natural lines of the house, magnified by the flat garage roof and unadorned windows.

Born to love barns (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

It likely happened when you left the front door wide open or your jacket in a heap on the floor. But most kids - even adults - have heard this refrain:

Where do you think you live? A barn?

Well, some people do.

Whether the appeal is the slanting, dusty sunshine that peeps through the cracks, the lingering smell of hay, or that old, nostalgic charm, a growing number of people are choosing to transform old barns from bovine dwelling to rustic entertaining space.

Yet the process is not for the laid back. Renovating barns requires an often endless web of decisions involving deconstruction, reconstruction, and preservation. Three local homeowners tell us the tales that led to their barn euphoria.

Peggy and Bruce Earle
Devon

Peggy Earle spent much of her childhood in an old Chester County bank barn - a two-story barn on a hillside with ground-level access to both floors - where she cared for her horses and spent time with her father. But in Devon, where she and her husband, Bruce, have lived for 25 years, available bank barns are few and far between. So after Googling "moving a barn," and discovering Mike Hart - a local guy and history buff who would happily move a structure to the location of your choosing - Earle was hooked.

"We've lived in Devon our whole lives and wanted to stay there, so we needed to bring a barn to us."

Their customized art space (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

You have to navigate a winding dirt road and a steep set of moss-covered stairs if you want to enter the house perched on the top of a hill in rural Bucks County. And if you're not equipped with four-wheel-drive, a fast-flowing creek will mean you'll be parking your car at the neighbors' and taking a hike through the woods.

That commute draws no complaints from Paula Chamlee and Michael A. Smith, large-format professional photographers based in Tinicum Township. After exhibiting, teaching, and making photographs all over the world (Chamlee, 66, also paints and works in mixed-media and video), they always return to the treehouselike stucco dwelling situated at the top of the steep ravine, which houses studio, gallery, and living space in one.

Their shared vocation influences design here, from the gently curved entryway to the tree perfectly framed in the spare bedroom's window. Smith, 69, who bought 18 acres and began work on the house in 1977, envisioned "a cross between a loft and a cabin in the woods.

"I wanted it to be open and have the expansiveness of a loft, but also wanted it to have the intimacy and coziness of a cabin."

It was a 14-year construction process; the first four years, Smith lived in his truck.

"My kitchen drain was a garden hose with duct tape, and I had a two-burner hot plate and a toaster oven. Yet somehow I had a sit-down dinner for 14," he said.

A Proliferation of the Absurd

By Lindsay J. Warner

“Above all, theater must not be realistic,” the narrator intones during the prologue of the BalletX/Wilma Theatre collaboration Proliferation of the Imagination.

Consider yourself duly warned.

What unfolds is a joyful, absurd, funny and utterly ludicrous take on Guillaume Apollinaire’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias (The Breasts of Tirésius), whose plot, as described in the prologue, is as “simple as a periscope.”

Be warned in that respect, too. A dramatic non sequitur in execution, Proliferation of the Imagination follows no set rules of cause and effect. It revels in the execution, but, true to Surrealist edicts, exists to further the goals of the movement, rather than to present a holistic production (remember that Apollinaire first coined the term “Surrealism” in the preface of Les Mamelles de Tirésias). 

Delicious Design (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Dining out can be a little bit like going to the prom.

Sure, your date and your dress are important - but it's the experience that reigns.

Enter the age of the restaurant designer.

Bolstering the fish and chips at Stephen Starr's Dandelion, the spinach gnocchi at Marc Vetri's Vetri, or the house lamb merguez at Michael Solomonov's Zahav is the power of atmosphere - and it can be the difference between feeling like you took a typical trip to the corner bistro or nabbed a plane ticket to a comfortably worn British pub.

So who are the aesthetic czars behind the scenes of these Philadelphia hot spots? And even more tantalizing: When you are a person who curates backdrops that thousands flock to, what do you come home to at night?

Michael Gruber, designer for Marc Vetrirestaurants Vetri, Osteria, Amis, and Birreria 600, scheduled to open in late 2011

The Havertown house Michael Gruber shares with his wife, Roberta, is elegant and comfortable in a midcentury style - and not at all what you'd expect from the mastermind behind the industrial-chic Vetri restaurants.

Artist Orna Willis a captive of color in her Northern Liberties loft (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

When Orna Willis looks at the skeins of embroidery floss hanging from the wall in her home studio, it's not just a visual treat.

"Color has such a strong effect on me," Willis said, "that it gets mixed up in my senses until I don't know if I'm seeing it or hearing it or tasting it."

For Willis, an artist who creates intricate designs for her online fiber, fabric, and metal gallery and store, the pegboard is like grapes to a winemaker. "All I need to do is turn around and look at it, and it gets my creative juices flowing," she says.

So when Willis and her husband, Reid, both 53, moved with their 9-year-old daughter, Nina, from a McMansion in Ann Arbor, Mich., to a loft in Northern Liberties six years ago, color became her muse for the 2,950-square-foot blank canvas.

Today, the house is awash in artwork, much of it by Willis' 30-year-old daughter, Shiri Wolf, mixed with a few highlights by other artists including Andy Warhol and Piero Fornasetti. The main living room evokes warmth as well as space, with vignettes throughout: groupings of Scandinavian glassware, or large, prolifically growing terrariums. Willis' favorite design elements are those created of objects that she and her husband have accumulated in their travels to South Africa, Italy, Spain, Cambodia, and Israel, where Willis grew up. But nothing dictates the character of the rooms so much as the color.

Issues of Shame and Guilt in 'Race'

By Lindsay J. Warner

From John Grisham’s A Time to Kill to Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities, racially charged courtroom dramas have captivated American audiences with tense in-court debates. Like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird though, the climax of David Mamet’s Race takes place outside the courtroom, as two lawyers — one black and one white — and their young African- American assistant debate a case in their offices, becoming prosecutors and jury both in their discourse.

Race, driven by the frequently tense relationship between Jack (Jordan Lage) and Henry (Ray Anthony Thomas), speaks in clipped, lawyerly tones that waylay the viewer into believing it is a play about right and wrong, guilty or not guilty. As their young assistant Susan (Nicole Harris) begins to enter the conversation, however, it’s clear that Mamet has little interest in the verdict of the court case, and cares only to expose the inherent feeling of guilt and shame that emerge when talking about race.

For city folk itching to get away: Urban Escapes (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

The scene was chaotic: Twenty urban dwellers in rafts on Class III and IV rapids with water fights so intense that several boats nearly capsized. And all punctuated with shrieks of laughter.

This sight on the Lehigh River was a familiar one to Beth Schaffer, Philadelphia director of Urban Escapes, a two-year-old, New York-based adventure-touring group that strives to get city dwellers "out of the bubble." Since January, Schaffer has been part of a team bringing fun to Philly folk, from rock climbing to kayaking to whitewater rafting to "trails and ales" trips - although nearly all Urban Escapes' getaways end with a vineyard tour or a cold brew.

"One thing I've learned is that Philly people like their beer," Urban Escapes founder Maia Josebachvili said of her first year here. "The activities paired with brewery tours are always the first to sell out."

Coincidentally, the concept for the company came when Josebachvili was sitting around a campfire in the middle of nowhere, drinking beer.

In 2004, she was a broke college student trying to finance her skydiving habit when she got the idea of bartering with instructors: free jumps if she brought in a group of paying customers. It worked, and she spent many weekends at Dartmouth College organizing skydiving and whitewater rafting trips for friends.