Birds of a Feather

Exploradelphia August 21, 2012

Filed under: Philly — kcfeather @ 7:43 pm

Our favorite economics professor C often talks about exploration versus exploitation (particularly when it comes to restaurants).  His theory, which makes sense, is that when you expect to be some somewhere often, and for awhile, you should focus on exploring your options in hopes of finding the things and places you like even better than what you’re familiar with. The cost of taking a risk on something new isn’t so enormous if you have lots of time to try other things later.

The flipside is that, if your time is limited, he would argue it’s time to exploit your knowledge of the options, rather than venturing out into the unknown. It’s true that before leaving Boston, there were lots of things we still wanted to explore (two years wasn’t quite enough to do everything there is to do in Beantown) – but there was also plenty that we exploited (for instance: the scrumptiousness of the lobster sandwiches at Alive ‘n Kicking, the semi dark milk drinking chocolate at Burdick, and pretty much the entire menu at Strip-T’s).

So upon arriving here in Philly, it was officially exploration time.  For the first few weeks especially, we ended up eating out a lot due to the postage stamp of a kitchen and the lack of AC in our temporary housing.  During that time, we confirmed rumors that there are lots of good eats here in the City of Brotherly Love, and discovered lots of good restaurants (and fun neighborhoods). The tricky thing is that once you find something good, it’s hard not to exploit.

Our favorite discovery thus far (which has caused us to veer off-course from the season of exploration and begin exploiting already) is the salty-sweet Nam Salad at a little BYOB hole in the wall in West Philly, Vientiane Café.  Vientiane is just down the street from where we lived the first few weeks we were in town, and it quickly became one of our favorites – possibly a soon-to-be weekly tradition.

Hopefully more accounts of exploration expeditions to follow in the coming months.

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that I failed to mention one thing.  While we are indeed fond of Vientiane (and that won’t change), it’s also true that we had an experience in which their patrons exploited the fact that my mom’s purse was on the floor next to her chair, and they absconded with her wallet.  A few things we learned: 1) watch your purse at all times; 2) if your credit card is stolen after 9 pm, chances are the thieves will go to Walmart; and 3) don’t count on the Philadelphia Police Department to really care.

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The Steeplechase and other great things about the Olympics August 6, 2012

Filed under: The everyday — kcfeather @ 10:27 pm

My love of the Olympics was born when I was just 3 years old and Mary Lou Retton won the gymnastics all-around (little did I know that she really only won because the Soviets were boycotting the LA Games).  I would run out to our jungle gym and pretend to be her while swinging around on the bars.  Four years later (Seoul) I was glued to the tube while Janet Evans swim her way to 3 gold medals.

Fast forward: four years ago in July, we got married.  At the end of that month, C realized what he had gotten himself into…he was married to an Olympics fanatic!  We made a deal for the Beijing Olympics (and for Vancouver 2 years later) that we would find a TV that we could borrow and then give back.  This worked great both times.  If I remember correctly, we borrowed a TV from our friend T  for the Vancouver Games – it turned out it was one of many TVs that he used to watch multiple sporting events at once (we really appreciated the sacrifice!)

This time around, we bit the bullet and just bought a TV.  Since I’m still getting us settled and getting started on the job search, I get to watch not only the events in which Americans win medals primetime broadcast, but also the more random sports that are shown during the day on NBC.

Some of my favorite things about the London Olympics so far:

– By chance getting to see a family friend row in the double during his second of four races. His pair didn’t medal, but they are the 8th best pair in the world  which is not all that shabby!

– Pistorius, of course

– Gabby Douglas – how can you not love her smile?  What a cutie.

– Learning a little bit more about track and field events from C (someone who actually did track and field in high school).  I really loved watching the steeplechase today, and wish they had showed more of the heptathalon.  But hurdles and the 400 and the 1500 and the long jump are really fun too.  And all the other events.  I particularly like Lolo Jones and Allyson Felix, so am rooting for them in the days to come.

– Did I mention the steeplechase?  Watching that really made me want to sign up for a trail run (though not in this ridiculous heat and humidity!)

– Usain Bolt.  Am surprised that I find his showmanship so winning, but I do!

– Hard not to love the US Swim Team, especially after seeing how much fun they manage to have despite what I imagine is grueling training.  Plus, what a great sport.

– Some of the other water sports are great, too. Those water polo players are no joke…there was a lot of suit-grabbing in the US v. Italy women’s game yesterday.  And synchronized swimming sounds silly, but have you seen it?  That cannot be easy.

– Misty May’s shout outs to the troops and the Dodgers after every match

– The tennis – watching Murray win on his home turf, and watching Serena dominate in the gold medal match

Ok.  I’ll stop myself.

A few things I don’t love so much: the time delays, the fact that they really only show Americans, and that they don’t show some of the more random sports. And, why so much diving???

I look forward to returning to regularly scheduled bedtimes, but am really enjoying this while it lasts.

UPDATE: This is a great article.