Archive for March, 2010

City of Black and White, Mat Kearney

This whole city’s black and white
Tell me what is your color

Call Your Name, Daughtry

My Drug

Because your love is my drug.

All brave men love; for he only is brave who has affections to fight for, whether in the daily battle of life, or in physical contests.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

To all those science thesis writers who will be liberated tomorrow: you love your thesis. Fight on.

Empire State of Mind

Spring break trip to New York City, March 2010!

Monday, March 15:

We left early in the morning from South Station on a 7:30AM  Bolt Bus that got us Penn Station in New York City just before noon. For the trip, we stayed in Theater District of Midtown on the corner of 56th and 8th Avenue, at this cute European style hotel called The Da Vinci. Luckily, we were fairly close to all kinds of stuff – the subway (Columbus Circle stop), a McDonalds, Pinkberry, The David Letterman Show, and Times Square :).

Monday was the only mildly rainy day of the trip (every other day was sunny with a high of at least 50 – it was amazing), so we decided to hit the The Museum of Natural History, so we could stay indoors. The museum is huge – we only saw maybe a little less than half of the exhibits in the whole 3.5 hours we were there, but we made sure to get to some of the good stuff:

Under the Sea

The Ocean Room

A Big Mosquito

Did someone say HEB?

Dinosaurs!

We had sushi for dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Raku, a block away from the museum. The food looked so pretty:

A little too much Wasabi

Tuesday, March 16th

Today was our miscellaneous day, when we did a lot of walking and wandering around. In the morning, we walked down  through Times Square, and then along 42nd St.. First stop: New York Public Library, which is situated right next to Bryant Park:

Bryant Park

NYPL

The inside of the library is amazing. It’s definitely more artsy looking than the Boston Public Library. I always wonder how people get anything done in there with so many tourists walking by – it’s so busy with people looking in and out.

A few blocks away was Grand Central Station, which we visited briefly.

Then we headed back up toward Rockefeller Center and 5th Avenue! On the way we saw:

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Trump Tower

On the 3rd and 4th floors of Trump Tower there are mini-rooftops that are little outdoor “park” areas for people to hang out on. We went out on one of them, but you can’t really get much of a view of 5th Avenue.

After wandering around all morning, we got lunch at Serendipity 3. OMG I LOVE this place! The wait for lunch was 45 minutes, so to kill time we got sweets at Dylan’s Candy Bar, the best candy store ever. You basically grab a bag or container, get whatever you want, and pay per pound. I got a bag of chocolate covered raisins and pretzels; Stephen picked an empty Dylan’s Candy Bar jar that you can fill and pay$15 for everything inside. We spent about 20 minutes figuring how to jam just about everything we could into that thing haha.

After Dylan’s, we went back to Serendipity 3 to get our seats. The restaurant is really random; space is cramped to begin with, and on top of that there’s usually always a line, depending on the time of day. In the place where you wait to get seated, they sell a bunch of rando trinkets:

Serendipity 3 is also in the Guinness Book of World Records for serving up the Most Expensive Ice Cream Sundae at the cost of $1,000. The menus are humongous, in that they’re actually the size of a piece of posterboard folded in half and laminated, with a lot of funny cartoon drawings and creative names for menu items. Stephen got the “Bi-Sensual Burger.” 😛 As a plus, I apparently sat in a booth that Marilyn Monroe used to frequent. Sweeeet. 😛

After lunch we continued to walk around, this time back to 5th Avenue for shopping. We went inside Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, H&M, Universal Colors of Benetton where I bought a dress, Aldo, etc.

After our take-out pizza dinner, we went to Pinkberry, which was about two blocks away from where we were staying. I didn’t realize that you pay one price for ALL the toppings you want…damn, Berryline should totally do this too. After froyo we took the Subway up to Lincoln Center, where they have a really beautiful water fountain right in front of the auditoriums there, including The Metropolitan Opera House. The view is really nice, especially at nightime. We sat up on the edge of the water fountain, and even tossed pennies in! Such a good way to end the day :).

Wednesday, March 17th

St. Patrick’s Day! I didn’t realize that until much later in the day, and also failed to wear any green :(.

First stop of the day: Chinatown!

First thing to do in Chinatown: haggle for cheap things!

Stephen got a black and gold NY baseball cap, as well as red Kanye sunglasses. I bought a fake Longchamp bag for $16 – score. We picked up some other treats from a fruit stand and one of the 30-some bakeries on Canal Street, and had dumpling soup for lunch!

After lunch, we walked through Greenwich Village, which is right where NYU’s campus is located. We found a HUGE Adidas store that we obviously couldn’t pass up (:P) where Stephen got a German home soccer jersey.

We were planning on going to a showing of Phantom of the Opera in the evening, so we headed back to Times Square to wait in the TKTS line. The line was pretty long by the time we showed up around 2:45 (the postings of the ticket sales go up at 2:30, and they open the line at 3:00), but it actually only took about an hour or so of a wait. The best thing about waiting in Times Square is that there are all the ads and logos posted up everywhere to keep your attention, either for stores, restaurants, financial companies, or shows that are running. Catherine Zeta-Jones is currently in “A Little Night Music” with Angela Lansbury, and Kristin Chenoweth is in a musical with Sean Hayes (Jack, from Will and Grace). This was another promo I saw – Anna, this one’s for you:

So we waited in line, got our tickets for Phantom at 8PM in the Majestic Theater, and then headed down to Union Square for a visit to The Strand bookstore. When we got of the Subway station, we got lucky and walked straight into the Farmer’s Market that they must hold on the weekdays. Vendors were selling fresh apples, garden flowers, pastries, and even wine:

Union Square Market wine booth

We did some random shopping there, and then left to go to the Strand to poke around in their huge collections of books.

The plan for dinner before the show was picnic-style! We bought sandwiches and got dessert from Magnolia Bakery, which sells amaaaazing cupcakes, and took all that down to the Promenade in Brooklyn. We got there in time to see the sun set, and we had a view of Downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge – it was perfect.

We were a little late rushing back to Times Square for Phantom, but we made it to our seats just as the Overture was done. We sat in the back  on the first floor, but you could see everything really well. (I made Stephen switch seats with me because this tall dude with a big head was directly in front of me… lol). I was pretty much hooked on Phantom music for a good two weeks after that :).

Thursday, March 18th

Last half-day in the city! Before our bus at 2:30PM, so made a visit down to the Garment District, where we went inside the NYC Macy’s! There must have been at least 6 or 7 floors – the makeup area alone took up most of the first floor.

To top it all off, after we got back to Boston in the evening, we had restaurant week reservations at Top of the Hub. Soooo good 🙂

Full photo album of the trip to come!

Snap On.

Courtesy of Photojojo

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.

Benjamin Disraeli

Summer

I think this is going to be one of my pre-med school summer goals:

(ah, can’t get all four videos up, but learning the whole thing would be AMAZING)

Absolutely Still

Absolutely Still, Better than Ezra

A million years from now would be too soon

Missing Girls of Asia

The theme of The Economist from two weeks ago was “Gendercide,” and the magazine included a few features on the troubling situation on Asia’s “missing girls.” Though knowledge of China’s one-child policy is widespread, the pure statistics of the country’s gender imbalance are shocking.  For example, while an average of 103-106 boys per every 100 girls is considered “natural” (infant boys are more likely to die than infant girls), China’s sex ratio is currently as high as 123 boys to every 100 girls. As a straight up ratio, this may not seem like a large difference, but upscaled to China’s enormous population, these numbers are clearly problematic.

In addition to providing these statistics, the article also makes the argument that while the public is predisposed to blames China’s one-child policy for creating these vast differences, the numbers can’t be aptly explained by this law, and gender imbalance of the same scale is seen in many other Asian countries, not just China. The article claims that the growing availability of technologies that enable sex-selection, including ultrasounds and other fetal-imaging technologies, have created a situation where people in countries with high incomes, and strong desires for smaller families are applying increasing pressure on gendercide. So although the common belief is that “missing girls” are the result of “backward thinking” countries, the opposite is actually true. Income and wealth have been implicated in fostering attitudes of gender preferences, and the ability to make those preferences a reality.

The social implications of this situation are dire. Not only are men facing a much smaller population of prospective wives (which has subsequently led to men seeking wives from foreign countries), but the impact on crime, violence, suicide, and the economy are surprising, and potentially detrimental.

The full read is recommended, but below are some compelling quotes:

…Not all traditional societies show a marked preference for sons over daughters. But in those that do—especially those in which the family line passes through the son and in which he is supposed to look after his parents in old age—a son is worth more than a daughter. A girl is deemed to have joined her husband’s family on marriage, and is lost to her parents. As a Hindu saying puts it, “Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbours’ garden…”

…Mothers in some developing countries say they want sons, not daughters, by margins of ten to one. In China midwives charge more for delivering a son than a daughter…

…But in that decade, ultrasound scanning and other methods of detecting the sex of a child before birth began to make their appearance. These technologies changed everything. Doctors in India started advertising ultrasound scans with the slogan “Pay 5,000 rupees ($110) today and save 50,000 rupees tomorrow” (the saving was on the cost of a daughter’s dowry). Parents who wanted a son, but balked at killing baby daughters, chose abortion in their millions…

…An ultrasound scan costs about $12, which is within the scope of many—perhaps most—Chinese and Indian families. In one hospital in Punjab, in northern India, the only girls born after a round of ultrasound scans had been mistakenly identified as boys, or else had a male twin…

…The spread of fetal-imaging technology has not only skewed the sex ratio but also explains what would otherwise be something of a puzzle: sexual disparities tend to rise with income and education, which you would not expect if “backward thinking” was all that mattered…

…So modernisation and rising incomes make it easier and more desirable to select the sex of your children. And on top of that smaller families combine with greater wealth to reinforce the imperative to produce a son. When families are large, at least one male child will doubtless come along to maintain the family line. But if you have only one or two children, the birth of a daughter may be at a son’s expense. So, with rising incomes and falling fertility, more and more people live in the smaller, richer families that are under the most pressure to produce a son…

…For an example, take Guangdong, China’s most populous province. Its overall sex ratio is 120, which is very high. But if you take first births alone, the ratio is “only” 108. That is outside the bounds of normality but not by much. If you take just second children, however, which are permitted in the province, the ratio leaps to 146 boys for every 100 girls. And for the relatively few births where parents are permitted a third child, the sex ratio is 167. Even this startling ratio is not the outer limit. In Anhui province, among third children, there are 227 boys for every 100 girls, while in Beijing municipality (which also permits exceptions in rural areas), the sex ratio reaches a hard-to-credit 275. There are almost three baby boys for each baby girl…

…And, according to the World Health Organisation, female suicide rates in China are among the highest in the world (as are South Korea’s). Suicide is the commonest form of death among Chinese rural women aged 15-34; young mothers kill themselves by drinking agricultural fertilisers, which are easy to come by. The journalist Xinran Xue thinks they cannot live with the knowledge that they have aborted or killed their baby daughters…

…They calculate that about half the increase in China’s savings in the past 25 years can be attributed to the rise in the sex ratio. If true, this would suggest that economic-policy changes to boost consumption will be less effective than the government hopes…

…Ms Das Gupta points out that, though the two giants are much poorer than South Korea, their governments are doing more than it ever did to persuade people to treat girls equally (through anti-discrimination laws and media campaigns). The unintended consequences of sex selection have been vast. They may get worse. But, at long last, she reckons, “there seems to be an incipient turnaround in the phenomenon of ‘missing girls’ in Asia.

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