Monday, November 30, 2009

The Far North

This morning I gave my presentation in International Studies class about the Arctic. Pretty interesting place, actually, and the region is becoming increasingly important both economically and politically. A few highlights:
  • Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States all regard parts of the Arctic seas as "national waters."
  • The Arctic Council oversees non-military issues faced by Arctic states and indigenous groups.
  • Some climate models predict that trans-Arctic voyages may be possible within a decade, which would cut shipping times from East Asia to Northern Europe by 40%.
  • The long-elusive Northwest Passage actually exists.
  • In 2009 the US Geological Survey estimated that the Arctic contains 30% of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and about 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil (mostly offshore).
  • Two years ago, Russia dispatched a nuclear-powered icebreaker and two submarines to plant its flag on the North Pole's sea floor:
. . .

P.S. I recently found out that it is possible to have a car accident without turning the engine on.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Partida Populara Svizra

Apparently, even having four national languages can't solve all issues.
Imagine this Swiss campaign poster in the New Haven Green:

"For more security"

Or these:
"Free pass for all? No"

"Stop! Yes to banning minarets"

Swiss Ban Building of Minarets on Mosques
(Nick Cumming-Bruce and Steven Erlanger)
In a vote that displayed a widespread anxiety about Islam and undermined the country’s reputation for religious tolerance, the Swiss on Sunday overwhelmingly imposed a national ban on the construction of minarets, the prayer towers of mosques

The referendum, which passed with a clear majority of 57.5 percent of the voters and in 22 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, was a victory for the right. The vote against was 42.5 percent. Because the ban gained a majority of votes and passed in a majority of the cantons, it will be added to the Constitution.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Phở sho

After fajitas and enchiladas at Escalante's, Alex and Manolis flew back to New Haven yesterday afternoon. Since their departure, I've been trying to figure out where this entire week went. Dear Time, why do you cheat me?

Things I'd ideally have finished in the next 24 hours:
  • study guide for my Cognitive Science final next Wednesday
  • magazine article comparing foreign healthcare programs
  • two poems for Korean class
  • outline and sources for my Neuroscience essay
  • Chinese essay corrections
  • phone calls
  • go swimming
  • book a hotel for Christmas break
  • get my keys from Phillip
  • hang out with the family
  • catch up with friends
  • finish uploading picture son Facebook
  • watch a few more episodes of Iris
  • finish reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
  • clean my shoes
  • buy a black sweater
  • play with Niki
  • make/eat chocolate mousse
  • eat samgyetang
  • tofu froyo at Voss
...which leaves me just enough time for a final night of epicness.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Everybody loves Squanto

Happy Thanksgiving!
...except that I am currently in a food coma from our Thanksgiving lunch. I would describe the deliciousness that happened, but my stomach is still quite traumatized.

Photos from our annual family Thanksgiving croquet championship:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Manolis, Alex and I started the day downtown at Discovery Green. The current art exhibition therea series of large globes emphasizing sustainabilityis both attractive and thought-provoking. In addition, preparations were going up for the outdoor ice skating rink to be opened later today. I also hadn't realized that Hess Tower was going up so quickly:

After lunch at The Grove (seared tuna-Niçoise salad to die for), we drove through the Theater District and headed to Rice Village, the oak-shaded neighborhood around Rice University. We walked around for a bit, then stopped at Ruggles Cafe Bakery for dessert. Despite a valiant effort, we were unable to finish our gargantuan slices of red velvet cake and soup bowls of cappuccino.

Then we headed to CityCentre to watch Disney's A Christmas Carol. The 3-D kind of gave me a headache, but having milkshakes and sweet potato fries delivered to our seats was awesome. The concept of Studio Movie Grillmovies with comfortable chairs, good food, and a fully-stocked barseemed effective, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of this idea around the country in the next few years.

For dinner, we walked through CityCentre to Straits, a new Singaporean restaurant/lounge next to Anthropologie. The appetizers we ordered were a bit disappointing, but the salmon and Indian street noodles were tasty. Extra points also for the very attentive and friendly waitstaff.

Afterward, we headed home to watch My Sister's Keeper with Scott, Cat, Tammy, Virginia, and David. Tears ensued. Rock Band followed.


Meet Niki, our four-month-old whippet puppy!
(named after the Greek winged goddess of victory).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tiw's Day

After a dim sum brunch in Chinatown, the Greeks and I spent the afternoon at the Galleria. Ah...

Dear Manolis,
entropy is not what you should have been thinking about.

We then relaxed at home for a bit before heading to Taste of Texas, my favorite steakhouse in the world, for dinner. I was reminded again why I will never become vegetarian.

We then started a Risk rematch (this time in teams), which was fortunately interrupted by Emily and Lauren's visit = chestnuts, mango sorbet, yams, and peppermint sticks.

Then arrived Scott, David, and Karim = more Risk (I don't ever want to see that game again) + CHEETOS + sleep deprivation.

Reporting from the 713

  • Flew from New York to Houston on Sunday.
  • It's awesome to be back home.
  • Alex and Manolis have joined me in H-Town for this year's Thanksgiving break merrymaking.
After dropping our bags off upstairs, we had blueberry salad, pasta, and boiled lobster for dinner. Dear Mother, how I have missed your cooking.

I also finally met Niki, my family's new puppy (pictures soon to come)!

Then we we went on a Randall's run to get some Blue Bell and stuffed our faces while watching Valkyrie. I found out that Nazis + ice cream is a strange combination.

Slept in!
After having some fruit at home, Alex, Manolis (hereafter "the Greeks") and I headed to Highland Village for sushi. Afterwards, we went to the bookstore and browsed the Houston/Texas section for souvenirs. We also found a hilarious Christmas gift for a mutual friend...

For dinner, we had my mother's delicious Korean food. Grilled galbi outside and also had shrimp pancakes, spicy bok choy salad, and japchae.

After a period of food coma, the Greeks and I decided to do some exploring in Montrose. We checked out some cool vintage clothing shops, then went to Brasil for coffee. There was this old dude rocking out on the xylophone with four mallets (accompanied by less noteworthy drums and bass guitar). Sounded pretty awesome. Later, on the walk back to the car, we ran into some extremely stoned hipsters playing guitar on the street. Oh, Montrose.

We wrapped up the night with an epic game of Risk. The Greeks and I might or might not be friends anymore.

Manolis pondering the fate of the Western hemisphere

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Harvard-Yale Weekend

The Game: the annual football game between Harvard University and Yale University; the oldest continuing rivalry in college football history.

The 126th Game
Epic tailgate/game/night/weekend

Flying home with Manolis and Alex today!

Friday, November 20, 2009


why I love fall/Yale

more leaves/laughs:
(Christoph Niemann)

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Countdown: 1 week until Harvard-Yale, 8 days until home! (but who's counting?) Until then, test-taking and paper-writing galore...
. . .

Here's Kim Yu-na skating to Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Magical (despite a small hiccup).

Listening to Scheherazade also makes me miss friends who performed this piece with me.

teknonymy: the practice of referring to parents by the names of their children, used sometimes in the Korean language as well in parts of the Arab world and West Africa.

Rain, rain

Some good news for Houston and the future of electric cars:

Houston to be ground zero for Reliant, Nissan deal
Reliant Energy and Nissan Motor Co. have agreed to work together and make Houston the launch city for the two companies’ efforts to promote the use of electric vehicles.

The two companies will also advocate for policies that make it easy for consumers to make the switch from gasoline to electric-powered vehicles, and will work together to establish the infrastructure of charging stations needed to support a critical mass of electric vehicles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Irgendwann fällt jede Mauer

"Every wall falls sometime."

Der Spiegel has a special section on the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago:
20 Years After the Wall
Es war der Anfang vom Ende der DDR: Am 9. November vor 20 Jahren hielt Günter Schabowski seine legendäre Pressekonferenz. Und plötzlich war die Mauer weg.
(It was the beginning of the end of the GDR: on November 9 20 years ago, Günter Schabowski held his legendary press conference. And suddenly the wall was gone.)

Video-Spezial zum Mauerfall: Der Untergang der DDR
Particularly moving are the last few videos- "9. November: Die Mauer fällt" and "Der Arbeiter- und Bauernstaat zerfällt".

Certainly, even 20 years later, there still remain many challenges for unified Germany:
In East Germany, a Decline as Stark as a Wall
“Thanks to positive economic development, the east is on the best track to converge with the west,” said Wolfgang Tiefensee, the minister responsible for the development of the former East German states. “The gap is closing.”

It is closing partly because the export leaders taking the hardest hits in the economic downturn are in the west, a leveling down rather than up.

Unemployment in the former East Germany remains double what it is in the west, and in some regions the number of women between the ages of 20 and 30 has dropped by more than 30 percent. In all, roughly 1.7 million people have left the former East Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall, around 12 percent of the population, a continuing process even in the few years before the economic crisis began to bite.

And the population decline is about to get much worse, as a result of a demographic time bomb known by the innocuous-sounding name “the kink,” which followed the end of Communism. The birth rate collapsed in the former East Germany in those early, uncertain years so completely that the drop is comparable only to times of war, according to Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development. “For a number of years East Germans just stopped having children,” Dr. Klingholz said.

Emptiness is the reigning feeling when walking through the city [of Hoyerswerda], which has lost more than 40 percent of its residents since the fall of the wall, with the population dropping below 40,000 people from more than 70,000.

“The people of the east have turned into nomads,” the elder Ms. Zirzow said.

Ostalgie: nostalgia for life in former East Germany (portmanteau of German ost: east + Nostalgie: nostalgia)