Class, wd-50 and Reich

It’s been over two weeks since my last post. That’s probably the longest time without an update in close to a year. It’s mostly a matter of guilt – I’ve had things I would have liked to write up, but every time I think about doing it, I think about the papers I should be writing or the books I should be reading for class, and can’t justify blogging. Of course, sometimes I don’t end up getting work done on the homework either, so I might as well have blogged. I think I have this irrational belief in a writing energy well where if I write something for my blog, I’m taking energy that I should be using for writing papers for class. Or something like that.

But I’ve got a conference call with my group-mates in 30 minutes, and I’ve finished what I wanted to get done for that, and it’s not quite enough time to get started on my paper for my other class, so I’m going to write something so I can at least catch people up on what I’ve been up to so that when I do get a chance to write something meaningful, I can do so without doing a journal post first.

Class has been eating up a lot of time. Corporate Finance has been going pretty well; one of the nice benefits of being a former physicist is that math and spreadsheets are pretty elementary for me. Plus that class involves working in a group, so I’ve got other people to be accountable to, so I’m more on the ball (as an aside, I realized, both in class and at work, that I am willing to work my butt off for the sake of others, but if I’m supposed to do something that only benefits myself, I’ll slack off – something to delve into at some point). The Technology in the Business Environment class has had interesting class discussions, but I’m struggling a bit with getting my papers into a professor-approved format. While blogging has been great for developing my writing skills in a lot of ways, it appears it has also led me to be a little bit too florid and prolix for executive summaries.

That class also has a ton of reading. We average between 200 and 300 pages a week, which is nothing for English majors, but it’s a lot when combined with a full-time job and other homework. Plus I’ve found some of the reading to be a bit dry. I did like Henry Chesbrough’s Open Innovation, though; it asserts that the days of Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, and IBM are over, in the sense that corporations can no longer do all innovation from basic research to product development. Corporations must learn to live in a world where research is happening everywhere and figure out how they can thrive in such a world. Some interesting ideas, although I thought that his recommendations for action were a bit weak.

Outside of class, work continues. Not much exciting happening there.

A week ago Friday, Seppo and Ei-Nyung were in town, and we went to wd-50 for dinner. We went for the 9 course tasting menu, and it was interesting. The chef is definitely a conceptual kind of guy, in that he came up with some really interesting dishes that were well-executed, but not very tasty. It reminded me a bit of the discussion about art and craft we had a few weeks ago. For instance, one dish was constructed like a sunny-side-up egg, with a white disc and a “yolk” on top. Except that the white was some sort of cold jelly-like substance, and the “yolk” was a carrot consomme. It was wacky, but it did not exactly set my taste buds on fire.

Other dishes were more satisfying, though. The “homage to a sandwich” was excellent – it was thinly sliced beef tongue, with romaine lettuce and dried onion diced so finely they looked like micro-dots. There was a smear of some sort of tomato sauce that was vaguely ketchup-like, and deep-fried mayonnaise cubes. All the elements of a sandwich, deconstructed. And yet when you put them all back together on your fork, it was tasty.

We also really liked the miso soup with make your own noodles. The noodles came in liquid form in a squeeze bottle, and as you squirted it into your soup, it solidified, forming noodles. Great fun!

I think we all agreed that the desserts were excellent. One was a “menthol mousse”, which sounds like it might be overpowering, but it worked. There was the mousse, some honeydew sorbet, and a couple other elements all of which worked together for a fabulous taste experience. The other I remember was a chocolate gouache, where there was a beautifully arranged twist of gouache, with cocoa powder at the ends, sorbet on one side, two dabs of mint jelly, and two dabs of some sort of avocado dip (yes, avocado – it worked). It was well plated and fabulously delicious. Hopefully, Seppo will post pictures at some point and I’ll link them here because it was a work of art.

What else, what else. Steve Reich is having his 70th birthday this month. I’ve got tickets to all three concerts at Carnegie Hall this week, including a Saturday night concert of Music for 18 Musicians where I sprung for the best seats, because watching that piece performed totally blew my mind six years ago. I also get to see Drumming for the first time all the way through on Sunday night. Although I went to see So Percussion on Friday night, and they did the first movement of Drumming and it was awesome – watching another percussion quartet perform that first movement live was my introduction to Reich’s music close to ten years ago, and I knew the music much better now from the CD, but seeing it live this time helped me understand how the piece fit together better. I didn’t make it to the Reich mini-marathon at the Whitney this afternoon although I did try – I was at CultureFest and went looking for the 4,5 subway that I could take up to the Whitney, but every single downtown subway station for that line was closed. After walking a mile looking for an open station, I decided it was a sign and gave up to come home and do my class reading instead.

So that’s my life. Work, class, occasional New York events. I do have thoughts, but a lot of my brain is devoted to figuring things out for class and work, leaving me with less idle brain cycles for the random speculation that leads to blogging. Ah well. Now it’s about time for my conference call with my groupmates, so it’s back to homework.

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