Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Return to the peak and beach

Went to the beach for the first time in a long time and boogie boarded. Thankfully, the water is not yet cold!

I've fully recovered from my second trek up Jade Mountain. I was definitely less fit this time around, which probably explains my small bout with altitude sickness. But, we had great weather, and the peak was so much more pleasant with windproof gear!

It's beautiful up there, but I think that will be my last time to the peak - been there, done that (and my knees will thank me).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

History: doomed to repeat itself?

I've been listening to the Leonard Lopate Show on podcast; a recent episode on the Panic of 1873 was absolutely fascinating. Professor Scott Reynolds Nelson of the College of William & Mary was the guest describing parallels between the current financial crisis with the Panic of 1873. It's completely compelling and alarming. Basically, the start of the crash happened in Europe due to rampant real estate speculation that occurred while their underlying economies were fundamentally unsound - "wheat exporters from Russia and Central Europe faced a new international competitor who drastically undersold them" - American farmers. The effects soon spread throughout the world and eventually caused American railroad companies to collapse. Financiers Marcus Goldman (founder of Goldman Sachs) and J.P. Morgan emerged as the winners of this period. Other parallels and lessons: poor economic conditions caused voters to turn against the Republican Party, and anti-semitism increased in Central and Eastern Europe, and anti-Jewish pogroms followed. (There's an article in Reuters today on ugly election incidents due to U.S. racism.) The New York Times has an article on Nelson's argument, along with some clips from their archive. I highly recommend listening to the podcast, at the very least, and then reading the articles for more color

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Back from Paris and London

I just got back from my holiday to London and Paris. A big thank you to Eve, Tom, Nicky, Caroline, Camil, and Candice for their hospitality - 'twas a lovely trip! Some thoughts:
  • We walked a lot - we averaged about 20,000 steps a day. Note that the health professionals recommend 10,000 steps a day, so we really went above and beyond.
  • Great weather in London, too chilly for my acclimated sub-tropical self in Paris. Gloves and a hat would've made my visit so much more pleasant.
  • Favorite London museum: National Portrait Gallery (thanks Tom, for taking us there!)
  • Pret a Manger is to London like 7-11 is to Taiwan. Unlike 7-11 in Taiwan, it is not open 24/7, you cannot buy everything from socks to piping hot fish balls on a stick, and you cannot pay your utility bills and send DHL packages. But they are all over the place. And they offer tasty food.

Wall of cheese at Neal's Yard Dairy. Borough Market was great, but incredibly crowded on Saturdays. No offense to the Brits, but I didn't take to the meat pies. I did like the cheddar's at Neal's Yard Dairy (there was a really fabulous floral one, the Isle of Mull?).

I prefer the macarons at Pierre Hermé (pictured above) to Ladureé's. If you are a filling person, go to Ladureé, but the appeal of the macaron is the texture of the cookie. We had an amazing passionfruit and chocolate macaron at Pierre Hermé.

Amazing yogurt and peach gelato at Pozetto. Neil had nocciola (hazelnut) and fior di latte (literally, milk's flower - pure fresh milk) - also very good:

Fresh figs!

We spent much more than budgeted at Denise Acabo's chocolaterie. She is a hoot - very engaging and an excellent salewoman.

More impressions later.