Monthly Archives: January 2006

First snowboarding trip for ’05/’06 season

Yesterday I went snowboarding for the first time this season, to Hunter Mountain in the Catskills, self-proclaimed “snow-making capital of the World.” It’s fortunate that they have good snow-making capabilities, because there’s been hardly any natural snowfall on the east coast of the United States so far this winter.

I had a great day yesterday, primarily because the weather was bizarrely warm and sunny; it was much more like spring skiing in California than winter skiing in New York!

Paul Auster

I got to meet one of my all-time favourite authors briefly tonight at Barnes & Noble in Union Square near where I work; Paul Auster read a chapter from his new novel, The Brooklyn Follies, and then signed about a million copies of the book, including mine.

They have some pretty good authors at that store; last summer, I listened to Umberto Eco read from his latest, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. I bought a hardback copy, but couldn’t be bothered to queue to get it signed, and I have to say I wasn’t that impressed after reading it.

The Kite Runner

I finished reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini today (I’m quite possibly the last person in New York to read this book, judging by how many people I saw reading it on the subway over the summer).

It was a very good book, although also very sad and moving. It also had one of the best endings I’ve read for a long time — not good in the “happily ever after” sense, but just well-written and satisfying. I dislike stories that just stop.

Anyway, here’s the filthy lucre link — click on this, buy it from Amazon, and I’ll make 5 cents or something.

Pandora’s Box

This is cool — Pandora is a new free web service that came out of something called the Music Genome Project.

Apparently, the people behind this project have analyzed hundreds of attributes for over ten thousand tracks, and come up with a unique “genome” for each track. The idea behind the Pandora service is that you type in the name of an artist or track, and then it searches the database and plays other tracks with similar attributes.

In addition, you can register whether you like or dislike the suggested tracks, add a track to your favourites list, or buy the track from an online music store.

I can see why they chose the name Pandora — it could potentially open up a time-consuming and costly world of new music if it worked too well! Thanks to Scyld for pointing me to this.

Socially Conscious Movies

The last two movies I saw at the cinema were Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana, which have four things in common: Firstly, they both benefit from solid, understated performances by George Clooney, secondly, they are both movies with strong social messages, and thirdly (as I just found out today from this Observer article), they were both made by the same production company, Participant Productions, a project of billionaire eBay founder Jeff Skoll.

In addition to producing the movies, they also run a website,, that encourages people to get involved in social change campaigns related to the themes in the movies. Which I think is very cool.

The fourth thing that the movies have in common is that they are both very good movies.