Sunday, August 27, 2006

Childhood Nostalgia - Fantasy LARPing

I came across this article looking through the travel section of the New York Times interviewing the LARP (Live action role playing) groups I used to play. Back in high school, I used to spend a entire weekend every month or so at a boy scout camp dressed in medieval costume, playing with foam sword and spell packets (home made bean bags made from t-shirts and rice and duck tape). Good times.

Extracted from an e-mail to R-:

don't really miss it though. it was a lot of work. i still have the costumes and swords and spell packets somewere at home. and i actually used to go to the boyscout / girlscout camps they described, like i remember participating in sieges of the wooden castle they describe, i still remember the spells i cast at the ogre "I create a magical seal that will pin" I incanted, while throwing a handmade beanbag full of rice, that locked the "ogres" leg to the castle battlement, while my fellows in the "brotherhood of the rose" (who were recognizable by the rose pin we all wore on our leather tabards), "killed" the ogre with their foam swords and rhey, with his prize possession, his foam halberd, which he labored long and hard to build.

of course in the heat of these large battles actually, i was mostly a peon, and could do very little, but that didn't matter, as it never really did. and we feasted in celebration the next day, on roast chicken and bread, which was great because most of the sleepless weekend, (i ate soggie hoagies from blimpies,) while the sorceresses sang spell songs.

i guess this sounds pretty disturbing and weird. weird enough that they made a movie about it, but unlike this article, that was a different variant than ours was.

yeah, most of the time, i was a peon, in the background, while cool stuff happened around me, like the background characters in war movies, but still got to help perform a ritual to restore the mage's guild shield wall, which was taken down during an attack, and also spent a night running through the woods off trail, escorting a sacred artifact.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A day in the life at the CEA

So it has been a few weeks since taking my new job at the White House Council of Economic Advisers and basically drowning in work. For the first time in my life, finding myself too busy even to eat lunch on some days. It looks like I'm the main economist for energy and transportation which means I'm involved with pretty much everything the White House is doing on those topics, which is a whole lot.

It has been heartening so far that on the whole smart policies get advocated and smart decisions are typically made. It's easy to point fingers from the outside, but I still hang on to the idealism that Aaron Sorkin's tv show exemplifies. People are trying hard, just circumstances (typically politics) gets in the way.

I miss the freedom of academia. The ability to set your own schedule and your own agenda. To wake up on your own pace, and take time off when you want. To spend your time at the frontiers of knowledge, and the rarified air of the ivory tower. But at the same time, this job satisfies always the consultant urge in me. To work on new topics every day, to be making quick decisions and to have those decisions matter. To have a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose. I expect to enjoy every minute here at the CEA, but I also look forward to returning home.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

UPDATE FINALLY! Goodbye Stanford

It’s funny that as I think back to my last days at Stanford, my first thoughts were of the great food I had. My drive here to Baltimore was delayed because of car problems, but in the end that was fortuitous because that gave me the chance to visit old favorites that I have been forgoing because of my penchant for cooking these past few years.

The rural classy John Bentley (with Mom and Andy who claims it is his favorite meal ever), the Peruvian Peruanas Estampas with Esther in Redwood City with the spicy garbanzo bean salsa and the red fizzy drink, the best local Mexican La Pachanga with Nageeb and Eric and their respective significant others, great breakfast pancakes with John Paul and Esther at Stacks of Menlo Park, the hip Zibbibbo sister restaurant in a renovated warehouse in the city with Wei-En, the Sunnyvale Indian buffet I first tried with Amita, Rik’s ice cream, CafĂ© Brioche, hip new Indian place with Sunil and Gopi, the Chinese food truck with Nancy and Lawrence, the Treehouse with Dave and Charlotte, the crappy Japanese place with William and Eric, the so-so Italian in Mountainview with Albert, the nice meal at 3 Seasons/Tamarind (I forget) with Chris Rohrs, Carlos' birthday dinner at 750 talking about mortgages and marriage with a bunch of economists, cami, etc, scott's birthday in the city with tina, the final bbq with Peter and Larry and others…

In the end, it’s not so much the food (which was great) but the great friends that I say goodbye to. As we spread out across the country, I hope we keep in touch. It’s only been a couple of months, and I miss you all.

At least it culminated nicely with a big dinner my mom set up at a fantastic Chinese banquet at Hong Kong Flower Lounge (good enough for R- to approve), where such events are often awkward to setup, and awkward to host, this was effortless. Thanks to my Mom, Andy, Esther, Eric, Julie, John Paul, Debbie, Amita, Albert and of course Romina.

(I have a huge backlog of blog entries. But all my time was sucked up by graduation and moving, and now by CEA job. Hopefully I’ll start updating this again soon.)