We had lunch at a restaurant called Mayrose. Pretty good food: not top-of-the-line, but given their very reasonable prices, I'm not complaining. They served a good solid breakfast with a variety of choices on the menu; I'm sure we'll be going back.

Galaxy Diner

After theater we went to the Galaxy Diner for some dessert. Pretty good, although it's hard to screw up smoothies!

Grey Gardens

We saw Grey Gardens, the Tony-award winner about the relatives of Jackie O who lived in squalor in a huge mansion in the Hamptons. Although it had some outrageously funny lines, it made me tremendously uncomfortable: the two main characters were neurotic beyond belief (were it not for the fact that they were based on real people). The music was beautiful but not memorable, and the performances were fantastic. We definitely have to watch the documentary Grey Gardens, on which this musical is based!

Saigon 48

We ate dinner at a small semi-Vietnamese restaurant in the theater district, Saigon 48. Pretty reasonably priced, but its menu was more pan-Asian (we had pad thai and Singapore curry noodles). The food was (like most restaurants) overly salty and heavily weighted with meat.

Opera in the subway

We were riding the W train, and a young woman with a powerful voice came into our car and started singing an aria (too bad my opera knowledge is that strong). It was an impressive display of talent! It reminded me of an article about Joshua Bell in the Washington Post.

The Places in Between

I just read Rory Stewart's first book, The Places in Between. What a nut, although an admirable one. He actually walked across Afghanistan from west to east---during the winter, and soon after the fall of the Taliban. Mr. Stewart clearly has no real sense of fear, which was also evident in his second book, The Prince of the Marshes. The writing is not spectacular, but it does make for a compelling read.

Afghan food

While on a trip to Boston, I ate dinner at Helmand, a pretty good Afghan restaurant. The aushak was great, as was the mantwo. Definitely worth a visit, if you like Afghan food!

MIT food

While in Boston I had lunch at Mary Chung (warning: not much of a web site) with dessert at Toscanini's. I realized that I can't be objective about some of the restaurants I used to eat at all of the time: all that I can say
about Mary Chung's is that eating there brought back fond memories, even though they are in a different location than when I was an undergraduate at MIT.

The Paradox of Choice

I read through The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwarz. It talks about how we humans do poorly with too many choices, as we appear to be driven by regret or the anticipation of regret. For example, too many choices can lead to paralysis, possibly due to the fact that the sum of the opportunity costs goes up with the number of choices. Overall, this book covers a lot of the same material that is covered in Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. The latter was more entertaining; the former more analytical. Of course, as both authors discuss, memories are hardly reliable, so I could be wrong in this comparison!

Central Park in the summer

Central Park is such a joyous place in the summer. Lots of people having fun, enjoying the sun; what else could one ask for?

More of The Bloodless Revolution

I took out The Bloodless Revolution by Tristam Stuart again from the library, and got over halfway through it before I had to return it again. It is a fascinating book; I never realized how much religious belief (in particular, about what Adam and Eve ate in the Garden of Eden) played such a large role in the history of vegetarianism. In addition, the encounter with Hinduism fed into the vegetarian arguments that occurred in the 17th century. All in all, a fantastic read about a period of history that I know very little about: it even sheds light on Isaac Newton and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

The Astronaut Farmer

On a flight from CA to NY I watched Billy Bob Thornton in a movie called The Astronaut Farmer. I was torn: the movie was both enjoyable and utterly sentimental (in a bad way). In addition, it was totally implausible, and was a little too overtly political. Nonetheless, not a bad movie to watch on a plane. It had a pretty big-name cast---including Virginia Madsen, Bruce Willis, JK Simmons (JJ Jameson in the Spiderman movies)---as well as some lesser lights who were entertaining---Tim Blake Nelson, Bruce Dern, and Jon Gries.

The script would have been better if the story had been set in some a 1950's setting: in a modern-day setting, it was just too implausible.

Al Jazeera

There was an interesting interview on Fresh Air with Josh Rushing. Mr. Rushing was the Marine representative interviewed in the movie Control Room, which was about Al Jazeera's coverage of Iraq. After he left the Marines, he became a correspondent for Al Jazeera. Pretty cool!


I watched Breach on an airplane trip. It was pretty good: good cast, decent plot (even though it was highly predictable, especially since it was based on a real-life events). Certainly a good airplane movie: I'm not sure I would have paid money to see it in a theater, though.

Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond was an entertaining film: and boy, Leonardo DiCaprio was really good. He deserved the Oscar nomination that he got last year, although I actually liked the character he played in The Departed better.

Casino Royale

We watched the new Bond film that came out last year, Casino Royale. It was well-written and well-acted, mostly; the writing became pretty slow and meandering near the end, and as a result was somewhat predictable. After all, why have a long peaceful interlude in a Bond film? Very enjoyable to watch, though: Daniel Craig was excellent.

Vacation in Vermont

We're taking a hopefully well-deserved vacation in Western Massachusetts and Vermont for a few days. I'm using the Google "My Maps" feature to jot down notes about the trip as we go; of course, every hotel/B&B these days provides free WiFi, so this makes it easy! Follow our route here. We saw one outstanding museum on the first day: the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA.