Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It was something people did when they did not know what else to do, they went to New York for a few days. "Tomorrow morning," she added.

"What are you going to do in New York?"

"What do people usually do in New York."

He looked at her for a long time. She was aware that her hair was unkempt, her face puffy. She did not meet his eyes.

"They see a few plays," he said finally. "Maybe you can see a few plays."

"Maybe I can," she said, and walked away.

-Joan Didion, Play it as it Lays

Friday, April 25, 2008

writing worth reading - feminism edition

How long will women shoulder the blame for the pay gap? by Dahlia Lithwick (Slate)

"42 members of the U.S. Senate blocked a bill that would allow victims of gender discrimination to learn of and prove discrimination in those rare cases in which their employers don't cheerfully discuss it with them at the office Christmas party. And the reasons for blocking it include the fact that women are not smart enough to file timely lawsuits, not smart enough to avoid being manipulated by vile plaintiffs' lawyers, not smart enough to know when they are being stiffed, and—per John McCain—not well-trained enough in the first place to merit equal pay."

life, the sitcom

I went to my parents' house for dinner last night. I'm not normally eager to drive an hour for any reason - especially when it involves dealing with immediate family. But last night, my little brother brought his first serious girlfriend to dinner.

My parents don't know they're dating. I learned from Facebook.

He was back for the tune-up - doctor and dentist appointments - and she was visiting a friend at CCSU. She was staying at our house overnight so my mom could drive them both back to Brandeis today.

It was clear that, by the time I arrived, my mom already put the girlfriend through her interrogation gauntlet. Mom knew where the girl was from and how her parents made livings. She seemed to have no idea that the two college freshmen picking at their Kosher-for-Passover dinners were a couple.

When my dad and I went out for gas and coffee after dinner (and I failed, spectacularly, at parallel parking in West Hartford as he sat cringing in the passenger seat; flashback to adolescence, anyone?) he asked if I I really came to dinner because my brother asked me to.

Yes, I said, because he wanted to give me a late birthday gift (a Brandeis t-shirt). Dad suspects something.

The girlfriend told me after Dad went to bed that the secrecy was certainly not her decision, which I guessed. But when my parents weren't there, my brother looked calm - and happy - which is a change from how things were before. She doesn't even nag him TOO often about his Count Olaf goatee.

maybe luddites had it right after all

There's a picture book aimed at helping kids understand why their mommies get plastic surgery.

This isn't a technology thing in the industrial revolution sense. It's more a "and we wonder why young girls have no sense of normalcy" thing. This makes me sad.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

i know i shouldn't care


Barnard totally owned Columbia College this year in the graduation speakers department. Well done, ladies.

(I can't believe I'm a year out of college. It feels both like yesterday and another lifetime.)


I like the article I wrote for today, and it's buried on our awful Web site. So... I'm putting it here.

North Stonington — In the 17th century, colonial settlers built waist-high rock piles through forests and swamps to mark local borders, including the east-west line that divides North Stonington from the three towns to the north.

The piles are still there, but borders with Preston, Griswold, and Voluntown have shifted, differing slightly in each town's maps.

Selectmen here hired a surveyor who tracked down the original pilings and recommends that the four towns return to those old markings to form standard, satellite-confirmed town boundaries.

“Everybody had a random way of drawing their own town tax maps. The town line is where it has always been but nobody has been willing to spend the money to locate it and meld that into their mapping system,” surveyor Donald Aubrey said.

The line Aubrey proposed at a selectmen's meeting Tuesday night would move the border between Preston and North Stonington farther south, ceding a small amount of land to Preston. Voluntown would gain some undeveloped state land. The boundaries would clarify the border between Voluntown and Griswold too, said First Selectman Nicholas H. Mullane II.

Preston First Selectman Robert Congdon was at the meeting and agreed the boundary made sense. Griswold officials had a conflicting meeting and could not attend. Voluntown officials were not present, but Mullane said they were not concerned by the changes, as most of that town's border runs through state land.

The town lines have not been standardized for years, but it's important to address the situation now because some areas in the overlapping maps either are or have the potential to be developed, said Mullane.

“There are subdivisions occurring on the boundary. Therefore, it behooves us to make sure there is a good town survey available,” he said.

There is one home mostly in Preston whose property is partially in North Stonington on some maps. The old boundary puts the whole property squarely in Preston.

Aubrey found the centuries-old piles by trekking through woods and, at some points, swamps that submerged him to the waist.

“There is enough evidence to actually put a straight line down there, which is the intention,” Aubrey said.

Once the towns agree, Aubrey recommends sticking metal rods through the rock piles so they are easy to identify. There are piles made in other centuries as well as Native American burial piles making the terrain confusing to an untrained eye. One of the boundary piles was partially dismantled in colonial days, because it was confused with a burial mound — Native Americans covered cremation sites with stone piles containing the deceased's possessions, Aubrey said.

Griswold First Selectman Philip E. Anthony Jr. was still unfamiliar with the boundary proposal Wednesday afternoon, but said he was open to the idea of working with his fellow selectmen.

As for approving the line, Anthony said, “I guess it depends on whether we're going to gain or lose real estate.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the answer to all problems

You know a board of selectmen meeting has continued on too long when, while debating the need to define what "parks and recreation" means regarding a land tract being devoted exclusively to parks and rec, one of the selectmen suggests getting a definition for the phrase by googling it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

silly business editor - coffee is for caffeine fixes

Business editor/desk neighbor: Do you drink coffee?

me: Don't all journalists drink coffee?

another reporter: I just drink diet coke

Biz ed: Well, I have decaf coffee packets here in my drawer to use in the coffee machine if you ever want them.

We both look at him with puzzled, furrowed brows.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

new home, update

I live here (zoom in a couple times):

View Larger Map

From The Day:

New London — The Statewide Narcotics Task Force, working in conjunction with the New London Police Department's Vice and Narcotics Unit Thursday, conducted a prostitution sting in the areas of Hempstead, Coit and Washington streets.

Undercover officers posing as prostitutes were placed in strategic areas and were immediately propositioned by subjects requesting sex, police said.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

the internet is funny roundup

Courtesy of various friends:

Teacake Set to Cost Taxman £3.5 million
"UK tax officials acknowledged that chocolate teacakes had been wrongly classed as biscuits in 1994..."

Black Guy Asks Nation for Change

Monday, April 07, 2008


My new job starts tomorrow. I've been camping out at my parents' house - no internet access installation in my still-not-totally-fixed apartment until next week - but as of tonight, I'm living in New London. This is overwhelming. I predict this bloggy experiment may become net detritus or start to sound suspiciously like a livejournal. I'll try to avoid both, though I may copy my stories here for easy reference. I beg you: please feel free to not read them.


The New Yorker, evilly, is not posting the whole thing online, but they printed Jane Kramer's long-awaited (by me, at least) story on Nadia Abu El-Haj's tenure process this week. See an abstract here.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

living in manhattan keeps people trim, and other tales

There was a funny little article nestled in the nether regions of today's Metro section titled "Sveltest Borough Award Goes To..." It's the sort of thing that's fun to write, because study statistics are tough to contextualize, so the article is built on writing cheekily and hoping sources say amusing things.

The piece, by Sam Roberts, is copied (and annotated!) below:

Here’s welcome news for Manhattanites fed up with congestion and overdevelopment does giving something an irrelevant connection to a newsy topic make it relevant? : Living in Manhattan may be good for your health. At least compared with the rest of the city.

A new health department analysis ah! our flimsy factual basis! says that New Yorkers are getting fatter and that obesity and diabetes are growing faster in the city than in the rest of the country. But generally, Manhattanites have fared better than residents of other boroughs but don't they always, dahling, since the people left are the only ones who are rich enough afford living there? (don't even think about it - lucky grandfather apartments do not count, mon ami).

About one in four New Yorkers is overweight, but they all live above Central Park North, so whatever. And from 2002 to 2004, according to the analysis, New Yorkers collectively gained 10 million pounds.

Wondering how much more crowded that makes the city? aside from all the fatty midwestern tourists? Or, why you’re rubbing up against the next person on the subway or bus? I repeat...

Think of it this way: 10 million more pounds is the equivalent of adding 20 full-size replicas of the Statue of Liberty. Can someone clarify how this comparison is meaningful, awe factor aside? How do you mentally divide up all that copper into relevant bits of flab?

People gain weight for two reasons: They eat more. They exercise less. !!!!!!!!!!

MONEY QUOTE: “With electric toothbrushes,” said Thomas R. Frieden, the city’s health commissioner, “we’ve engineered the last physical activity out of our life.”

Over all, more than 300,000 New Yorkers get to work on foot - 2nd fact in eight paragraphs. But Manhattanites tend to walk more than people who live and work in the rest of the city. They’re more likely to walk to the bus or subway. Walk up and down stairs to stations. Even walk all the way to work. They’re less obese than New Yorkers in other boroughs, regardless of race or income.

(The city is home to a disproportionate number of poor people, more of whom tend to be overweight. But also to more foreign-born (admit it, you mean "Asian"), who tend not to be, although the longer they live here, the more likely they are to become obese.)

BRILLIANT, HILARIOUS CLAUSE ALERT: While people in certain trendy Manhattan neighborhoods may seem disproportionately anorexic, there’s no evidence that Manhattanites eat less than other New Yorkers. And it’s the eating — and drinking — that the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is particularly concerned about. (Clumsy transition!) Drinking soda, especially.

Americans drink more bottled water than beer k, but we've been focusing on Manhattan, no?. But they consume more soda than bottled water and beer combined. And nearly 70 percent of that soda contains sugar in one form or another, said the next next Albert Einstein. Also, please note the fact that Diet Coke is necessary to maintain optimal health.

“Your brain doesn’t register when you drink,” said Gretchen Van Wye, a health department epidemiologist and an author of the department’s analyses of obesity and soda consumption So the health department talked about America's soda consumption in a study about NYC! That was, ahem... sweet... of them. “You’re better off eating 400 calories of jelly beans (butter popcorn jelly bellies!) than drinking 400 calories of soda.”

Overcrowding aside, the consequences of obesity aren’t merely personal. Unhealthy people drain the rest of society in medical costs and lost productivity (except that they die sooner, which helps even things out).

The Bloomberg administration has responded aggressively — too aggressively, some critics complain, and the writer proceeds to provide background to those who - gasp - do NOT regularly read the gray lady. But its (ambiguous?) impact suggests one reason that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg might feel less fulfilled as a full-time philanthropist than as a public official. Come again?

His contributions to worldwide research and education campaigns against cigarettes pale in comparison with the effect he has had on public health as mayor. He has banned smoking in public places, outlawed artificial trans fats in restaurants and required them to reveal calorie counts, and licensed fruit and vegetable carts in poorer neighborhoods. All this should be after the first sentence in the previous paragraph.

The city bans soda in the day care centers it regulates, because there were problems with toddlers pulling dollar coins out of their pockets and, when they failed to choke on them, they used them to buy Mountain Dew during nap time instead. But it’s still served in schools and from vending machines. Is the administration mulling a sales tax on snacks that are now exempt because they’re considered food? Dr. Frieden said, “I don’t see the political will being there.”

Dr. Frieden said that personally, he is no ascetic. He likes sandwiches from the Subway chain — he happens to like roast beef more than tuna salad — but, because the ingredients are now posted, he also knows that the tuna salad has more calories. And, truth be told, he felt vindicated by that knowledge. Until the prions started turning his brain all swiss cheese like. He and his family had ice cream and chocolate for dessert the other night, but ate fruits and vegetables, too. Riveting.

His prescription is a formula that’s usually not associated with New York (If you live in New York, like the rich, thin people who renovate the properties featured in the Real Estate section and put marriage announcements in Sunday Styles, then you get it.). “Everything,” Dr. Frieden said, “in moderation.”

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I miss my girls so much. They are ten, ten, and three until their birthdays, which are in November, December and January. One should be getting a sister in a few months. Another is doing a "herstory" project on Jane Goodall, according to her mom. The third is growing so fast that everything I know of her will start seeming obsolete by next month.

Adulthood is overrated.

(Someone remind me not to actually have children of my own. I'd love them into pieces, and that could end up morbid.)

The new job begins Tuesday.