Sunday, March 30, 2008

UNC in the final four

I hope you're all watching the tournament, UNC looks great! They are such a fun team to watch, Hansbrough is awesome and they're going all the way this year.

The 20 km of Brussels

Am I the only one who didn't realize that a 20 km race is also known as a half marathon? Michael and I signed up to run the 20 km of Brussels, thinking that it would be fun. Mars is one of the sponsors, so we get to be on the Mars team and wear special Mars outfits, how could I resist that? It's really only dawned on me this weekend that I'm going to have to follow a rigorous training schedule to be able to do this race - I have my 8-week training plan all ready to go.

Cue the Rocky music... because you know what you need when you have to learn something really fast and you don't have a lot of time? You need a montage!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Blog that made me add a "Blogs We're Reading" sidebar

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time

Check out the particularly funny entries in the "full list of things that white people like", including graduate school, public radio, david sedaris, dinner parties, and juno.

Who is in Charge at CBS?

I've been watching what should be one of the greatest seasons of Survivor ever - another All-Stars survivor, this time pitting former survivor greats against "superfans" who have been devoted to the show since day one. Sounds great, right? And it should be, with an all-star lineup including James, Ozzy, Amanda, Ami, Yau-Man, Cirie and Johnny Fairplay.

"Fans" Kathy (on the left) and Chet (on the right) both voluntarily left Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites.

Here's the problem: of all the "superfans" that could have been picked to be on this show, the casting directors ended up with two real winners: Chet and Kathy. Chet asked to be voted out two weeks ago because he was "physically unable to continue", and last week Kathy asked Jeff Probst to bring a boat to camp before they could even make it to tribal council so that she could exit the game. This week's episode was pre-empted by the Sweet 16 games.

It's clear that Survivor strategy is evolving. Long gone are the days when tribe members who are clearly physically/mentally/emotionally unable to continue would be voted off for that reason alone. On the contrary, contestants who have "given up" are seen as easy to manipulate, and are kept around regardless of their own personal wishes because their vote still counts.

On the other hand, CBS wants to keep ratings up and knows that no one likes to see all the weakest players staying around until the end, so they are contstantly upping the ante -- trying to make the challenges more physical and the living conditions more difficult.

I don't have a problem with any of this, but for crying out loud get some decent contestants who aren't going to quit! So many people would kill to be on survivor fans vs. favorites and it just doesn't seem fair that 2 of the people who got the chance chose to walk away from the show. Way to go, CBS!

I still can't wait for survivor: Antarctica...

Earth Hour 2008

Earth hour was created to "take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced" (the threat is global warming). Personally I think it's more precise to call it the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced... but that's really just a matter of semantics.

We're all supposed to turn off our lights for one hour at 8pm on March 29th -- that's this Saturday. Will it actually help stop global warming? Will it actually help raise awareness about the current environmental issues that we're facing? I don't know, but I don't think it will hurt, and it's a good excuse to play board games by candlelight for a night instead of watching tv.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

We have not had snow all Winter. Once Spring started we have had almost daily snow showers and last night it was cold enough to accumulate. I had to build a snowman, we will call him Jacob!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


If you could have composed any single piece of music that already exists, which would you chose?

: Lenin/McCartney "A day in the life"

Jane: The "Happy Birthday" song

Friday, March 21, 2008

Arising from the dead...

As a way of celebrating Easter, I've made a resolution to ressurect this blog from the dead. It turns out that I'm not very good at maintaining consistent communication (everyone who knows me has been well aware of this forever). I'm going to apologize this one time, right here, for allowing so many long lapses in the blog. Hopefully this apology will cover all past and present lapses, as well as the lapses that are bound to continue well into the future.

Image: One of many Americans apologizing to the world for the re-election of George W. Bush, on

What I'm Reading

The last book that I finished reading was David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, and I actually finished it months ago, but never got around to this post. The first thing that I have to say about this book is that it is amazing, really. The writing is incredible, the plot lines are unpredictable and the way that the book is organized is totally unique.

With that out of the way, every review of this book gives roughly the same synopsis of what it's all about and it goes something like this: The story begins in the 19th century, somewhere in the South Pacific. We are reading the journal of Adam Ewing, a notary on board a trading ship. His descriptions of the native islands that he visits are wordy and formal and difficult to read. It's hard to uncover the story with all the formal stuffy language of a 19th century Englishman who is trying to explain the "barbaric" and "uncivilized" land that he has found himself in. But just when you're about to give up on Adam Ewing and his outdated musings the story ends mid-sentance and another story begins.

This time, we are reading letters from a young composer in 1930s Belgium to his friend back in London (mostly asking for more money and complaining about the fact that his family has cut him off financially for good). These letters end as abruptly as Adam Ewing's diary did and the story continues with a John Grisham-esque crime and conspiracy novel set in the late 1970s in California. In all, this book contains 6 separate stories that reach accross the globe and throughout time, incorporating drama, romance, sci-fi, crime and action themes. The stories are nested one inside the other, so when you get to the sixth story you get to read it all the way through, followed by the second half of the fifth story and so on all the way down until the end of Adam Ewing's adventure.

The stories are connected, but the strength of the connections varies in importance and impact from story to story, and every time you think you see a theme emerging that ties the stories together it vanishes when you turn the page. This could lead to frustration in any other novel, but in Cloud Atlas you never really feel like you're grasping for something that isn't there. Each story has its own answers and its own conclusions and in the end you realize that each commentary can either be interpreted on its own or as part of the whole, and it works equally well either way. I'm putting this book in my list of favorites, right alongside of Life of Pi, The Time Traveller's Wife, and The Namesake.

Last Book: Martin Amis' tale of love in a Soviet gulag, House of Meetings.

Up Next: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.