Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Re: Cycle

My 2010 bicycle commuting season came to an end today. Normally, it ends around Columbus Day, but a spate of uncooperative weather in early October prevented me from getting that one last ride in, so I decided to take advantage of today's unseasonably warm conditions and shift my schedule a bit so I could make it back home before sunset. As it turned out, today was a good day to stay off of the main highways since President Obama's visit this afternoon caused some major traffic tie-ups.

I managed to make 55 round trips this season, which eliminated roughly 750 car miles. This was about 150 miles more than last year, though still quite a bit shy of the 1000 mile goal that I set prior to last season. I also did a lot more riding for fitness and leisure and turned in just over 1600 total miles, my highest tally since 1997. According to Google Maps' bicycle directions, that's roughly the equivalent of biking from my house in Rhode Island to Omaha, via a route that parallels Interstate 90/80.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Social Skills

As I mentioned, we went to see The Social Network last weekend. It was one of the rare films that got a good review from both of us. One of the most interesting parts of the movie was how it depicted the social stratification across the student body at Harvard. As a product of public education, it never really occurred to me that as impressive as it is to get into a school like Harvard, just being smart and/or connected enough to get in doesn't mean that much to fellow students who come from the richest and most powerful families in the world. The other thing that I really liked was how it got me to root for Mark Zuckerberg's character while not making him very likable. The AV Club's Scott Tobias said it much better than I ever could in last week's Q&A:
As for his deficiencies as a human being, Zuckerberg, as played by Jesse Eisenberg, comes across as the classic outsider, a stranger to privilege whose desperate need to fit in runs against a social ineptitude he can’t overcome. Doesn’t that make him more identifiable than a pack of Harvard bluebloods?
Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Indochina

I've known of the culinary agglomeration known as Indian-style Chinese food for several years now. I first learned of it through Indian expats, all of whom seemed to yearn for it more than the traditional cuisine of their homeland. A few years later, I learned that Indo-Chinese food had reached American shores. More recently, I've heard about some of these dishes creeping their way onto Indian restaurant menus in the provinces. We popped into Taste of India last night for a quick bite before going to catch The Social Network, and much to our delight, found that they had added a small section of Indo-Chinese dishes to the end of their menu. I tried the Chili Chicken, which, as far as I understand, is the signature Indo-Chinese dish. I was a bit surprised to see that the chicken pieces were deep-fried. That's obviously part of what makes it Chinese, but I so rarely eat those kinds of dishes when I'm eating Chinese food that I've broken the Chinese food = deep fried association that tends to hold sway, especially in Americanized Chinese food. That's not the say that the Chili Chicken wasn't delicious. As one should probably expect when ordering a dish with the word "chili" in its name, it was quite spicy, though not overwhelmingly so. Michelle had another Indo-Chinese dish, the Chicken Hakka Noodles. Also a tasty dish, and the inclusion of noodles in an Indian-spiced dish gave it an even more exotic flavor. Our only complaint was that it was a bit too heavy on the noodles and too light on the chicken and vegetables. Take a close look at the menu the next time you visit your favorite Indian restaurant and see if they have any Indo-Chinese dishes, they're definitely worth a taste.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Smooth in Shanghai

You obviously can't tell, but when this picture was taken almost three years ago on Nanjing Road in Shanghai, the smooth sounds of Kenny G were being piped out into the noise and bustle of Shanghai's most vibrant commercial streetscape.


Even in the midst of so much western cultural and commercial influence, I found the music of Kenny G blasting out into the street rather odd (and slightly nauseating, of course). Fortunately, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! explained this phenomenon yesterday in the Not My Job segment of the show. As host Peter Sagal explained:
In China, especially in Shanghai, stores, buses and other public facilities play his beloved song "Going Home" when they want people to go home.
Wikipedia's Kenny G page corroborates this information and has some additional details about Kenny G's campaign to conquer the sonic landscape of modern China.