Thursday, February 28, 2008

Feb Club, take two

Here's a shout-out to the folks who organized the Feb Club Emeritus parties this year - well done! Very well done!

I went to the Greenwich party last night, and it was a great time. The organizers have bought a real Mory's cup, engraved with the locations of all of the parties. It's a bit like a concert t-shirt, but full of delicious, boozy goodness. I enjoyed sips (gulps?) of gold, red and purple, which has always been my favorite. I finished it a bit unceremoniously, though - no song or spinning it on my melon because no one realized it was done. C'est la vie. I've finished enough cups in my day not to feel gypped.

Again, I was very disappointed that more of my classmates were not there, but hey - next year, right?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Any Buffy fan who is looking for at least a momentary fix should absolutely pick up Fray, Joss Whedon's graphic novel collection of the comics that ran concurrently with Season 7. I loved it!

Melaka Fray is a slayer in the slums of New York centuries in the future. She's got a little bit of Buffy, a little bit of Faith, and a whole bunch of unique baggage and attitude... all packed into a tiny, ass-kicking frame (with Illyria's blue hair). She's great - and her supporting cast that includes sister Erin, unlikely sorta-watcher Urkonn, and little Loo does not disappoint.

I have now managed to consume everything canonical in the world of Joss Whedon, and truly believe he's a creative genius. If you are still part of the uninitiated, watch some Buffy, and you'll soon be crying for hits of Firefly and Angel right to the vein. Even if you haven't seen - or liked - a second of Buffy, Fray will lure you in. Enjoy!

Democratic party idiosyncrasies

I've never heard so much fussing about the Democratic party's use of so-called "superdelegates" before. Clearly the close primary contests between Obama and Clinton has raised the profile of this unique aspect of how this party chooses the Presidential candidates.

I'm actually torn on whether I think that the party's use of superdelegates is a good thing or a bad thing. I hear all of the grumbling that "the will of the people" should determine the candidates. Yet Geraldine Ferraro, Democratic party mucky-muck and onetime Vice Presidential candidate, wrote an interesting piece in yesterday's Times that put some context around why this system was created.

I tend to agree that there should be thought and action leaders within the political system. "The Will of the People" is often the will of only a very few people, even in primaries with "high" turnouts of, say, 25%. Those people are often the ones who are rabid supporters of a particular candidate. The superdelegate system allows the leaders in the Democratic party - who should have the best insight into how to prevail as a party in the general election - to have a prominent voice in the selection of the candidate the party puts forth. Is this an undemocratic process? Possibly. But I think that there are bigger issues with the Democrat's primary process.

The issue of larger concern to me is the discrepancies between how the states conduct their primary contests (including both primary elections and caucuses). In some states, Republicans and independents can vote along with the registered Democrats. The caucuses in states like Iowa or Colorado put a much larger time burden on the voter, as compared to the five minutes or so it took me to vote in the Connecticut primary, dramatically limiting who can and will choose to participate. Some states use a "winner take all" policy for delegates; others allocate in proportion to votes; and Nevada seems to give more weight to certain districts, allowing Clinton to win the state but Obama to take more delegates.

All of these archaic systems together obfuscate the entire process. There is no clear winner; there is no clear "will of the people". As a Democrat, I am thrilled to have two very impressive candidates in a close race, but I want to see the party united at the end of the day. I fear that whatever the outcome, supporters of the losing candidate will point fingers in the flaws in the system, distracting everyone from the wildly important general election. Thoughts, anyone?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Your identity is your most precious possession. Protect it.

You speak, I listen. You can now comment anonymously. If you feel like leaving your name (or handle), please do so - the secret agent in me loves to see who's out there.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

I picked up The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd the other day on my way home. I'd finished my other book at lunch time, and this was on the $2.00 rack outside of an odd reading room on 43rd Street. Even though I tend to disregard certain best sellers - in particular, those that strike me as "too girly" - as potentially trite or uninteresting, the price was right so I picked it up.

I was very pleasantly surprised, and thoroughly enjoyed this book! It's set in South Carolina in 1964, amid the racial unrest following Johnson's signing of the Civil Rights Act. Fourteen-year-old Lily Owens runs away from her emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive father, along with her black nanny Rosaleen. Her destination is a tiny town she knows only from the writing on the back of a picture of a Black Madonna, which she found among her late mother's belongings. Lily and Rosaleen end up in a shockingly pink house belonging to three African American beekeeping sisters, and the story that unfolds is one of women's strength and love.

This book isn't going to find itself listed the Great American Novels, but it is a very enjoyable read. It's a lovely story, and well written. I enjoyed the personal perspective of a volatile time in American history, as the backdrop for the experiences of a complex young girl with a sharp mind and a lot of emotional baggage. The Boatwright women (August, May and June, also referred to as the Calendar Sisters) are wonderful portraits of Southern black women, and the minor characters (in particular Zach, Clayton Forrest and the Daughters of Mary) were brought to life by Kidd's vivid details.

I'd definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a quick and interesting read. And if you take me up on it, let me know - I'd love to chat about it over a glass of wine sometime.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tiny ones can adapt

My office is now just over a 15-minute walk from Grand Central in the evening, and in the morning it takes almost 20. This pushes my total commute comfortably north of an an hour - closer to 1 1/2 - which is definitely on the outside of acceptable.

In order to make it work, though, we've given the Bug another schedule bump. I'm getting her up, getting her dressed, and feeding her a bottle, and her babysitter feeds her breakfast. This little tweak actually gets me on a train about 25 minutes earlier, without forcing us to wake up even earlier than we already do. It seems to be working well - neither the Bug's subsequent meals nor her naps/bedtime have been thrown off. Just goes to show that babies are remarkably adaptable. Give them what they need, if possible in a nicely repetitive schedule, and they do just fine.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Video chat update

After a couple of attempts, my parents and I collectively decided that AIM was not working for us. More than once - including the time my grandparents were going to participate on the video chat - we simply could not connect, even though everything appeared working (cameras, internet connections, video clients). We've settled on an alternative solution, and thus far I would highly recommend it. If you want to show off your little ones with out-of-state relatives, check out SightSpeed. It's really easy to use, seems to work great, and you have the added satisfaction of not supporting AOL. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two new baby girls

A big CONGRATULATIONS to good friends Danna and Erik, on the birth of their twin girls Maya and Amara! The little ones weigh less than 10 pounds combined, but all are healthy and happy. Even Danna, who pulled it all off without the use of an epidural. Love and hugs to the whole family!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feb Club for old people

Yale has a couple of fun traditions, stuffy reputation notwithstanding. One of these is Feb Club, which was started in the 70s as a way to make that coldest and most miserable of months a little more tolerable. Every night for the month of February, a party is held in a different location on campus. I actually made it to all of them one year, and while it was great fun, I certainly do not recommend it as a way to improve one's academic standing.

This year, some people from the class of '87 have started a Feb Club Emeritus, with parties in different cities every night. I went to the one in Soho last night, and I have to say that trudging through the snow on my way to an evening of drinks had a very fun, and somehow still quite familiar, feel to it. The party itself was a good time, although I didn't run into many old friends, primarily since there was a serious lack of people who graduated in the 1990s. I think that the organizers really spread the word well through their classes, and the Facebook page got a bunch of graduates from the past couple of years in the loop. Judging from the success of the parties to date, there will more of these "Feb Clubs for old people" in future years. We'll have to get the classes of '95 and '96 to represent in 2009!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sense and Sensibility

This is the second of Jane Austen's novels that I've read (not counting my aborted attempts to get through Emma), and I do like her writing. Sense and Sensibility is a nice story, and I enjoyed the book. That said, I am reminded of a good friend's statement years ago in one of our book club meetings, that he doesn't like "parlour lit." I wouldn't go so far as to say that, but I do feel like something is lacking. Specifically with Austen, and I felt this way with Pride and Prejudice as well, I kind of get the feeling that about 350 pages into writing the novel, she had had ENOUGH ALREADY and just decided to wrap it all up. I mean, no action whatsoever until the last 20 pages, and whoop-di-do, you've got marriages and new homes and grudges have been forgiven. It's a bit of a whirlwind.

Plus, be honest. Did anyone really believe that Elinor loved Edward?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Round of applause

It really amazes me that all of a sudden the Bug will learn something, and presto - have a new trick. A couple of weeks ago she learned how to clap. That was pretty cool, and pretty adorable because she kept one hand balled up and clapped the other hand around it. Yesterday, she straightened out the second hand, and now she makes real clapping sounds. Crawling has been the same way. She started doing an odd butterfly stroke around the floor some time in December. On January 9th, she did a real crawling motion for the first time. Now, she only crawls (unless she's pulling herself up to standing), and she moves shockingly fast. I can only imagine that walking (and, knowing her mommy, talking) are just around the corner.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A new gig

I'm happy to report that I will be starting a new job in a week. It's a 3-month consulting gig doing business development at It sounds like there are no downsides to this one. I get the chance essentially to test drive what I think is exactly the job that I want, and I am confident that they'll like what they see in me. They know that I want a permanent job, and everyone's expectation is that this will become permanent in the second month. In the mean time, they know that I'll be looking for something else until that happens, and they know that I'll need the flexibility to do so. And of course, this will be my second urban network, which has to amuse just about everyone. Pretty cool, right?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Bet the salami

I'm not a gambler. I've been to Vegas once, played a little craps (which I did like), but that was it. Been to AC once, and all I did was drink beer and do karaoke. However, I am very interested in placing a bet on the "Jersey Salami". This is an over-under bet on the sum of the jersey numbers of each player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. The word "salami" cracks me up.