Monday, December 14, 2009

I went Kindle...

And I couldn't be more pleased. Partly because I know that where I am headed a Kindle will be a far better traveling companion.

Well, my development economist persona is emerging for the next six weeks. This means pseudo-fiction writer persona is going away indefinitely (read: until I get back home). I'm headed to India and Bangladesh to research my graduate capstone project and potential clients for my new social enterprise.

If you'd like to follow my solo adventures you can check them out here: Confessions of a Lonely Planet(tm) Poster Child. Added bonus, my rants and raves of living in Cambodia a few years back. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

E-reader and Nook woes.

A few weeks ago I waxed poetic about my pre-order of the Barnes and Noble nook. I wrote passionately about its native PDF interfacing, its beauty and its WiFi connectivity. I fell in love with the thing via the internet and photos.

Now the thing is, I do love it. It does look awesome. The problem? I still don't have it in my grubby little hands yet. I was supposed to receive it sometime at the beginning of December (yes I know I am totally impatient) but I have yet to receive shipping confirmation. I am hoping for today, but who actually knows.

And while I have been waiting, I have begun my real research of what others who already have them or who have ventured to a Barnes and Noble to test drive a sucker they can't even own until well into the new year. The response? Unenthusiastic. Yes they admit they are beautiful and much more snazzy. But what they bring to the table in beauty, they omit in functionality. So now I am torn. Before I was lusting after a device I thought could change my life and my thesis research. Instead it looks like it is a pretty piece of hardware that is a bit dim behind the curtain.

Now the quandary of the moment...(Don't judge, this is honestly stressing me out). Should I stay nook or dare I say it, go Kindle.

Why? Well because even in India Kindle has their whispernet scattered about. This means during my 48 hour train rides I will be able to download new copies of the New York Times onto my device without WiFi. Nook will need a WiFi connection to offer me the same thing. Additionally...Nook doesn't have New York Times. For shame. And I really don't want to relegate myself to the Washington Post (especially after they have released much of their writing staff which they were known for.

Also my dear nook, you don't have the Economist. But you do have good looks and the Harvard Business Review (score 2 for nook), neither of which the Kindle has.

Whats a girl to do?

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I haven't ridden a subway in over three weeks. Crazy huh? I spent two years of my life hopping from subway to subway. Absorbing people, watching things, getting to know faces that I recognized on a daily basis. Running into random friends and then pondering all of the weirdness that had to occur to put us both on the same subway, same car at the same time.

So what has replaced my obsession with my beloved subway?

I went to Amsterdam. Fell in love with biking again. And since then, I haven't been able to step foot on one.

While in Amsterdam, I fell in love with the canals, the flat streets, the separate bike lanes. There was a community about biking. And everyone rode these beautiful, heavy, commuter bikes. No one wore helmets. And there are less than 10 bike deaths a year in Amsterdam, versus our nearly 20 per year in NYC. Now this may seem unsurprising since Amsterdam is a smaller town, but think about it...A couple million people commute via bicycle per day. Versus maybe a few thousand in NYC.

The pace was slow and easy. Everyone was on their way briskly, without a doubt...but not hurried. It was beautiful.

Upon my return, I committed to riding my bike here. To say the least, its not as pleasant. This city is not well built for a cyclist--AT ALL.

Anyhow, maybe I'll write a book about cycling as well. Who knows.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

the barnes and noble nook

I'm old school. I love the heft of books on my shelf. The smell of used books scattering shelves in hidden book stores across the world. When I saw the kindle the first time I thought to myself "cool, but not for me". I criticized people who had given up traditional books for e-readers, thinking that some part of the "magic of books" was lost in an e-reader. Though from afar I thought about the fact that with a kindle I could carry every book of Virginia Woolf with me everywhere I went. The possibilities were endless. Still I held out and colored myself a traditionalist.

At the same time, I'm an environmentalist. I work in sustainable development. Books take a lot of paper to print and often end up rotting in land fills just like all other waste eventually. Books that don't sell are stripped of their covers, thrown in the trash and the covers are sent back to the publishers so that the book sellers can be reimbursed for the cost. The impact of e-readers is far less, and books definitely expand my ecological footprint dramatically. I read about 3 books a week on average. Multiply that by a who year, and that is a lot of paper. A lot of dead trees. And a lot of these books I don't even care for in the long run. On top of that, I'm a grad student. I read hundreds of pages of PDF documents a week. I watch people in my classes print out their reading every day. Hundreds of pages for hundreds of grad students at hundreds of universities. I resigned myself to reading them on my computer, and in my class on environmental policy, everyone thought I was crazy to read on my computer as they stared at their stack of 300 pages for the WEEK on their desk. The kindle's use become more apparent to me. Their complaints was not being able to mark up a PDF and the screen making your eyes tired. With the e-ink display, the glare and eye strain is gone.

I still waited. Hedged. The price was too expensive. I'm a traditionalist. I've gotten used to highlighting on my computer. Etc.

And now just five weeks before I start my thesis in the country of India, I am starting to see use for an e-reader. But not a kindle. It just doesn't do it for me. I'm in love with the nook. The nook is beautiful, functional, and works on WIFI.

Over half a million books for free. Another million or so for purchase around 10 bucks. Not to mention for my thesis, I have more than 4000 pages of paper to sift through, which I certainly don't want to read on a computer. Half my time in India will be spent on trains. HOURS AND HOURS of trains. My computer battery just won't cut it on such train rides. And I certainly can't lug around a veritable tome of data on social entrepreneurship across India.

So I caved. I'm buying a nook. In fact I pre-ordered the sucker.

But don't think I've gone to the dark side...I haven't. I will never give up my habits of buying books or reading books on paper. But maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to get my thesis written while on the road in India. Something I had been dreading before.

And that is certainly worth my 250 bucks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

As of late...

I have started to notice that I am more often than not absolutely oblivious to the goings on of the subway these days. Why? My iPod. When I first moved to NYC, something about tuning out on the subway seemed almost irreverent and I avoided doing it at all costs. But after over a year of Subway riding, I decided to join the rest of New York and plug in. Tune out.

Well it turns out I miss being about to chronicle the goings on of the subway. A lot. So much so that I noticed something recently, something beautiful. As such, I have decided to pay more attention to subway nonsense again. What did I notice? A newly wed couple getting on the train at the City Hall. They looked blissfully happy. They were obviously so in love. And the bride couldn't stop fingering her husband's new wedding band. They sat on the M train at 3pm, happily ignorant of the train full of middle schoolers laughing all the way to Essex street where they exited the train and skipped up the stairs into the daylight.

I'm paying attention again. I swear.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Girl Effect...

As as budding economist, especially regarding development matters, I stumbled upon a great video the other day about what happens when we invest in women, specifically young women. Its a stunning example of just how easy "changing" the world might be. I hope you find it inspiring. Its called "The Girl Effect".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Regarding Pen Names

I changed my name on my blog. Why? Because my graduate school adviser suggested I do so. I had planned to publish any work I did under a pen name anyhow. But he googled me, seeking out something I had published and found my blog. He read it with much interest and then suggested that I keep my identity as economic development consultant separate from that of the girl who is writing a book about her life as a new yorker.

I decided to heed his advice.