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The other things in life

Friday, June 30, 2006


Heat, Drink, And Be Merry

LeanCuisine, anyone? Bars are microwaving their way to a full booze license, and their skillfully prepared frozen food isn't cheap. But it's legal.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Fine China Breakdown: Blame It On 'Casual Carol'

"Casual Carols," along with "Formerly Formal Frances" (used to be a traditionalist but now marches to her own drummer and keeps the formal dinnerware in the closet) and "Neo-Conservative Conrad/Connies" (they spend money on casual but luxurious dinnerware), are among the market forces that are reshaping the industry.

Dinner-Party Roulete: Who's In The Next Chair?

Because like everything else in life, these events have rules. You almost never go because you really want to; you go because you really have to. Weddings, all family extravaganzas, are emotionally fraught by definition. Charity dinners, however worthy, are about stroking egos.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Hoe, Hoe, Hoe

Hard work is sweeter than the coffee you drink on break. But you may not know that yet.


July (From Humidity Diary)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tech & Science

Gauss's Day Of Reckoning

A famous story about the boy wonder of mathematics has taken a life of its own.


We Didn't Need The Past — Or So I Thought

Once I gave up the fear of losing my daughters, I better understood the family who had let them go.

Thus Ate Zarathustra

Diets of the great philosophers.

The (Ongoing) Vitality Of Mythical Numbers

Does ID theft really cost $48 billion a year?

The Proust Pill

Back in 1998, I decided to write a novel about a memory pill — a drug that would work like Proust's madeleine. While I was busy writing, the science caught up with fiction.


Carnival, Las Tablas

Monday, June 26, 2006


Golden Eggs

Drowning in credit-card debt and student loans, young women are selling their eggs for big payoffs. But can they really make the right medical and moral decisions when they're tempted with $15,000?

A Slow-Road Movement?

Call it the Slow Road movement, but not the No Road movement, because another thing that a 50-year-old crumbling Interstate System brings is opportunity, a chance for a giant retrofit.


I Remember Rosemary Fishman

Nineteen eighty one. If you were an 11-year-old boy, and you lived in the San Fernando Valley, and you owned a dirt bike, there was nowhere you could not go.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Sweet Smell Of Snobbery

Like wine, luxury chocolate now has connoisseurs who tout its "mouthfeel" and "terroir." Bring back "melts in your mouth, not in your hand"!

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Of Geese

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Summer Vacation

Decrying harpy pundits and lying lawmakers is tiring work. If the president can improve his approval ratings by taking a break, maybe I can too.


The Incumbent

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


A McDonald's Ally In Paris

Dennis Hennequin is very much the engineer of the restaurant chain's success in France, and one of his most compelling lessons about doing business here came from a bulldozer incident.

Get Ahead, Learn Mandarin

China's economic rise means the world has a new second language — and it isn't English.

Self-Checkout? Just You Wait

Pressure? You don't know pressure until you're in the self-checkout line at the grocery store and your cauliflower doesn't scan and freezes the computer and there's a line of shoppers shifting from foot to foot, heaving deep sighs and giving you the evil eye because, obviously, you are keeping them from attending to a matter of life and death, such as catching the "Sopranos" episode they forgot to TiVo.



Monday, June 19, 2006


My History Of Slate

The magazine I dreamed of starting was a newsmagazine. On paper, on the Web, painted on the walls of caves — I didn't care. My theory was that Time and Newsweek had bascially abandoned their mission.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Souls Searching

Harvard Medical students share stories that brought them joy and pain on their way to becoming doctors.

Strapless Begone!

It's a mystery even larger than attraction. Why do brides covet strapless gowns with an intensity that defies reason, given that this is one of the more difficult silhouettes to wear well?

And You're So Funny? Write My Script

It is a thought that has surely raced through the mind of almost every performer who has ever been heckled, booed, mocked or made to feel unappreciated by an audience: "Let's see you do better." Now a Brooklyn entertainer named Ze Frank is doing something about it.

Iceland's Ring Road: The Ultimate Road Trip

Iceland's Highway 1 — the roughly 830-mile Ring Road — is the only route that circles the island, and it feels like someone put the American West in a blender: California's poetic central coast, the Nevada desert's barren expanses, Alaska's glaciers and Yellowstone's geysers. They're all crammed onto this island, and if you don't like one natural phenomenon you're just a few hours from the next.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Behind The Scenes At Disney World

Let's just get this out of the way: They're chipper even when nobody's looking.

In China, Dreams Of Bright Ideas

Instead of millions of Chinese youths assembling somebody else's inventions, the party leadership has concluded, the time is right for China to come up with its own ideas and sell them to everyone else.

The Long Ride

With telephone poles whizzing by, the Beatles blaring on the stereo, and my kids strapped in the back seat, I learned to be a father on the road.

Friday, June 16, 2006


A Grand Old Flag And Very Modern Art

Today, Flag Day, seems a f ine time to look at Old Glory — to just plain look, for a minute without thinking at all about its history or what is represents — and admire its strangeness.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


A Meal For My Father From Brazil, WIth Love

Food iwas a language we shared. It declared our bond, telegraphed our moods and was the usual currency on awkward bribes.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006



Caution be damned. The three women playing the Weird Sisters in the Shakespeare in the Park production of "Macbeth," previews of which begin tomorrow night, are not afraid to utter the scariest word in the history of theater. They do not fear the two modest sylables, the seven measly letters that have inspired heebie-jeebies among actors and directors for 400 years. Listen and learn, you cowering simps. These women will just come right out and say it: "Macbeth."


Loss Loved Me

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tech & Science

Wo Belongs In The Zoo?

It may be that some animals just can't be kept humanely in captivity. Zoos may have to reinvent themselves — once again.


The Mystique Of Monarchy

Thailand's King Bhumibol offers powerful proof that royalty is still relevant.


Accident Brief

Monday, June 12, 2006


A Cup Of Tea Transformed

As ice cream, it's as refreshing as a summer breeze.

The Hold-'Em Holdup

With the spread of internet gambling, running up debts in the dorm room has become a college pastime. Trying to cover his losses, one sophomore at Lehigh University went so far as to rob a bank.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Extreme Commutes Grow Longer In Air Industry

For pilots and flight attendants, they are finding it harder to get to work nowadays, because planes are so full.

Buck Up, Little Camper

Debating whether to send a 6-year-old away for the summer.

Springfield Theory

Mathematical references abound on The Simpsons.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Tech & Science

Can Business Be Cool?

Why a growing number of firms are taking global warming seriously.


In Praise Of Boxer Briefs

An underpants manifesto.

Try, Try Again

See that pile of money on the floor? There's a hundred million there. All you have to do is pick it up. That's right, bend over, pick it up, and it's yours. Are you going to do it? Of course you are. No way you wouldn't. And that's why there'll always be sequels.

Is This Really Feminism?

The real problem, it seems to me, is the notion that we can't all be right if we are making different choices.

Friday, June 9, 2006


When Life Makes You Cry Uncle

I am Bus Uncle, potentially, and so are you. Each of us has a tiny, raging Bus Uncle buried deep within, just waiting to burst free. One tap on the shoulder is all it takes.

Gangs Of New York

Their twins due home from intensive care any minute, an anxious couple considers the high cost — physical, marital, and financial — of multiples.


10 Flagrant Grammar Mistakes That Make You Look Stupid

If you want to craft an error-free message that reflects your professionalism, be on the lookout for these common grammatical slip-ups.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006


Tales From The Crypt

Wherever literati types gathered to namedrop and galnce over each other's shoulders, unopened sets of The Complete New Yorker seemed to loom in the background, like the slab from 2001.


We Used To Live Here

Clay never went to the same neighborhood twice. "Neighbors talk," he said. For Clay, it was about not getting caught. But Sara didn't care about that. She was afraid of being shamed in the middle of some stranger's living room. And she knew that's what would happen if someone got wise to them.

maggie and milly and molly and may


I Realized I Was Happy And It Scared Me

Tuesday, June 6, 2006


Life Goes On In A Town Called — What?

Yes, this is really Podunk. In other places, the word might be a generic put-down, a concept, a mythical map dot somewhere between Hick Town and Nowheresville. Here in Vermont, though, it's a real somewhere.


My Parents' Bedroom

Monday, June 5, 2006


Born With The Desire To Know The Unknown

There is something odd about so many secrets being bandied about in the one place that would seem antithetical to secrets — the mass media — but let us set aside that quibble and ask what explains this avalanche of conspiracies and secrets.

Sunday, June 4, 2006


That Certain Smile

As a child, the one enduring wonder of my world, the wonder that preceded and outlasted the Great Pyramid at Giza, Mount Everest or the Grand Canyon, was my grandmother's teeth. They came out.

Single Minded

They're having babies alone, vacationing alone, buying homes alone. And they couldn't be happier, especially in Boston, where record numbers of single people are finding that parties of one are worth toasting.

Hollywood Elementary

Each year hundreds of child actors — with their parents — flock to Los Angeles in the hope of becoming stars. Whose dreams are being pursued?

Saturday, June 3, 2006


Better Than Flying

Despite the attack on the twin towers, plenty of skyscrapers are rising. They are taller and more daring than ever, but still mostly monuments to magnificence.

It Helps To Know A Lot More Than Basic E-N-G-L-I-S-H

Spelling in English isn't hard enough? Even with all those children struggling to sort out to, too and two, not to mention principal and principle? Even with pneumonia, psychiatry, psalm, pseudonym, psoriasis...? And yet, for the participants at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, it came down to German, Italian and French.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Tech & Science

Don't Try This At Home

Garage chemistry used to be a rite of passage for geeky kids. But in their search for terrorist cells and meth labs, authorities are making a federal case out of DIY science.


More Than Zero

A trio of twenty-something San Francisans have invented SFZero, a game that bleeds far into reality.

Thursday, June 1, 2006


Welcome To Shangri-La. By Order Of The State Council Of The Chinese Government

In one of the most audacious rebranding exercises in history, a scruffy but spectacularly located Himalayan town has been renamed after the James Hilton's fictional utopia and designated a tourist paradise by order of the Chinese government.

Say What? A Guide To Menu-Speak

Menu-speak: It's a foreign language: literaly and figuratively.

For Soldiers' Appetites, Reinforcements

Familiar food has long comforted troops fighting wars in foreign countries. But the modern care package is different because of the complicated logistics of this war, advancements in technology and the diverse and sophisticated palates of today's troops.

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