Sorry for the week of radio silence, trusty readers, but I have a good excuse: I've been feeling puny! It started with a sore throat on Monday. I comforted myself with a piece of peanut butter pie from Magnolia Bakery.
It was an extra bummer not to feel well on Monday because it was the warmest day we've had since I've been here and would have been perfect for an evening jog. The other downer was that I had a pretty full week ahead: lots to do at work and an active evening social calendar. On Tuesday, I worked from home and met Neil and Nate at Chelsea Piers (an easy walk for me along the East River Park). We attended something called the Duke Idea, a program that sends the president of the university to visit alumni in various cities. He gives a few remarks about what's happening on campus and then sits down for an Oprah-style interview with a special guest.
Tuesday night's guest was Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics, bestselling author and frequent guest on NPR. He is best known for his book Predictably Irrational, and his work seems to me to fall into the same category of Freakonomics or Tipping Point -- taking ordinary aspects of life and applying tools of analysis to find out what's really going on. I tried to take notes, but they're just messy jottings about things like reward substitution, loss aversion and the reality of the placebo effect. There are actually some very practical applications of his work related to questions such as how you incent patients to take their medicine.
Anyway, Chelsea Piers is a cool venue, and there was plenty of tasty food (especially the Cuban pork, black beans and rice and fried plantain patties). I got to see a number of people I know, including several from my China trip with an alumni group in 2009. It was one of those nights I realized again how lucky I was to get to attend such an awesome university. As we left, I was torn between walking home or taking a cab. It was so chilly, rainy and windy that Nate's umbrella kept turning inside out in the gusts. Exasperated, he finally threw it in the trash.
"Did you like President Brodhead's comments about all the tulips and dogwoods in bloom on campus?" Neil asked as we stood on Seventh Avenue and watched dozens of cabs pass by either full or off duty. "It was like a knife in the back. Welcome to April in New York! You're not regretting your move yet, are you?"
I just laughed. Irrational as it might sound, standing on Seventh Avenue in the rain, feeling sick, cold and tired, I was still so glad to have chosen this adventure. President Brodhead began his conversation with Dan Ariely by asking what "rational and irrational" elements there were in his decision to teach at Duke, and I couldn't help thinking I should make a similar list about my decision to move here.
Finally, a taxi stopped, and I kissed the boys goodnight. That ride was the best $6 I've spent so far, as it was pouring when I got home.