Sunday, October 28, 2012

Recommended Hurricane Sandy Preparation

For those who are unsure of how to prepare for the storm, below are the essential items we've stocked up on:
  • Butternut squash ravioli,  spinach and ricotta ravioli (made fresh from Eataly)
  • Montepulciano wine 
  • Haagan Daz Dulce de Leche ice cream 
  • Nightmare on Elm Street (the original version from 1984)

This should obviously suffice for the next several days.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sleeping is So Last Night

Really great to see Counting Crows again and, as always, they were in great form. Less August and Everything After than I was hoping for (no 'Round Here. Sigh…), but two great opening acts, one of which is a Counting Crows (i.e. Adam Duritz) creation: The Tender Mercies, with two Crows members - guitarist (and apparently fantastic singer) Dan Vickrey (sporting an awesome Abe Lincoln t-shirt at the show) and drummer Jim Bogios. Was nice to hear some classics and glad to have a new band to add to the playlist.

Hi Adam.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Return to Normalcy

"America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality."

— Warren G. Harding, 1920

Candidate and soon-to-be President Harding not only invented the word "normalcy" in his campaign speech of 1920, but also touched on a sentiment that rings true today…. both for America as the election draws near and also, well… for me. (Except the national versus international part - that's just about America).

Healing, restoration, adjustment, serenity…  all concepts that will hopefully play a role in my near future. I plan to take fewer classes during longer semesters (when it takes more time and energy to secure fewer credits) to pursue other endeavors… like sleeping. And also spending more time with family and friends, reading, writing and maybe even being bored for an hour. I'm dying to be bored for an hour. I'll research which museum has the best new exhibit but secretly know that I'm just going to sit on my couch doing nothing instead.

Have just been reflecting on the past year - it's been a whirlwind (and a good one), but thinking back I'm not nearly as proud or appreciative of the classes I've taken or anything related to work as I am of the time spent during coffee breaks with a friend between meetings, conversation over a beer after class and summer barbecues at the house. At the very least, the past year has taught me to value time. I've learned what's important to me by being constantly forced to choose between competing priorities.  It turns out dinners with Kaila trump just about everything else,  Krugman's weekly column is more important than most emails, taking the long way to the subway doesn't mean I can skip the gym (that one's not relevant to my point. It's just a fact.) and election forecasts are more crucial than GPA. So with winter and spring class registration coming up, I'm planning my return to normalcy. And I can't wait.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Don't Know How to Say It.

Do you ever feel like you have so much to say but have no idea how to say it? Or rather, you just can't say it because whatever you say - regardless of which words you choose or the context in which you utter (in my case, mumble) them - cannot possibly capture your meaning? Most of the time this obviously isn't the case - we're not passionate about everything that comes out of our mouths. And we might even say something to one person and the same thing to another and to the first it means nothing but to the second it means everything. But how do we signal those rare moments? Those times when your brain is yelling, "Hey you! This matters. Pay attention!" Because it's never at the "right" time and it's never planned. It's just that one nice thing that someone says over a beer or maybe even the thing that someone doesn't say but you know he wanted to. In the movies when someone has a close encounter with death, his life always flashes before his eyes, right? It's usually pretty lame. Which events "flash" and why those? Seems kind of superficial or disingenuous. But sometimes I wish the meaning I were trying to convey could "flash" before our eyes. It's not enough to just say it and getting it right is never easy, but don't you just wish you could pull all of the magic out of your brain and just hand it to someone, as if to say, "Here's everything I want you to know. Sorry, but words weren't good enough."

Saturday, October 13, 2012


For any fellow politics junkies, you'll def want to check out the NYTimes 538 Blog. Nate Silver (highly regarded statistician) posts a daily electoral college forecast and updates on tipping point states. He runs a model generated from hundreds of state and national polls a whopping 25,000 times every night before reporting the predictions in the a.m. In the 2008 election, Nate accurately predicted the outcome of 49 out of 50 states a full 30 days before the election.

23 days and counting… 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Content Over Form

Question from the audience: So what do you think of someone who says, "With whom did you go to the meeting?" 
Response from the communications instructor: "I think he's asked the question correctly. I also think he's an asshole." 

I've been avoiding writing. Mostly because I haven't been reading. How can I write about anything at all when I haven't scoured the newspapers every day and haven't pored over Clinton's Time essay? I generally try to refrain from opining on anything without being fully informed. But, as sometimes fortuitously happens, a few distinct, yet strikingly comparable, events have occurred over the past several weeks that have made me question that seemingly sensible and obvious concept I've posited [isn't it odd that we can derive meaning from a series of random events purely because they've happened in tandem?]

After Obama's flat-footed and dull performance at the presidential debate, a helpful grammar and writing refresher and a subpar attempt to explain what I do to a few college students,  I'm wondering…does what we say matter, or only how we say it?

Obama got it right - he said everything he should have about the economy and discussed real, tangible proposals for the future. Romney made a few less-than-honest comments and didn't even take a crack at how he would achieve all of the wonderful pie-in-the-sky improvements that will descend on America like angels as soon as he takes office. Yet we're disappointed by the president's performance and we're hailing Romney, the victor of the debate.

I'm completely overgeneralizing here, but the way I see it, the person who knows what he's talking about is also the person who works hard, has strong values and morals and is thoughtful and reliable. The person who can walk into a room and talk about anything in a confident, charismatic way, but who doesn't actually say anything meaningful is a mystery to me. I don't know what he really thinks, nor do I understand how he's so confident without any substance behind his demeanor, and I'm wary because he can win people over and build relationships without necessary ingredients like credibility, honesty and trust.

But are we even really listening? Time and again I find myself thinking about something someone said and then realizing it's contradictory or half-baked. And I'm guilty, too, when I can't find a way around talking about something I'm really not familiar with. But I'd much rather admit that I just don't know the answer than try to BS whomever I'm speaking with.  I've yet to see anyone lose any political capital, personal relationships, etc. because they've said what others wanted to hear (for lack of an idea or new perspective or belief) or have made vague generalizations about the topic at hand (this usually involves paraphrasing what has already been said). Do we let is slide because we're too busy to really listen to others? Or because it's exhausting to dissect and analyze what is said, versus what someone kind of meant, versus how we think someone will act despite what he says?  Do we not trust our own intelligence enough and assume we don't fully understand? Do we just not care enough about the truth and the implications of people's words?

The fact is, what people say matters. Maybe I feel strongly about it because I love language or maybe it's because if "form" is paramount then I'm kind of screwed (blushing and tripping over my words won't score me any points, right?). It's respectful to listen to others. And if we do start paying attention, then we can hold others accountable for what they say, which means we'll have more insight into people's characters, can develop more effective relationships and maybe even can begin to understand more about what we, ourselves, think and feel. Or maybe I'm just crazy. But I think I'll continue listening anyway.