Eating Avenue U – Pho Vietnam

imageI haven’t been eating my way up and down Avenue U as quickly as I originally intended, but fear not: Eric is on board, and we have a plan. Last Friday, we kicked off our Memorial Day weekend with a ride on the F train and an exploratory, menu-reading stroll that led us to one of two Vietnamese restaurants on the avenue.

I have a soft spot for hole-in-the-wall type places, and since I’m not a restaurant reviewer, I have the luxury of keeping these food posts positive. In that spirit, here are things I liked about Pho Vietnam: Continue reading


Race report – the Brooklyn Half (May 21, 2016)

pptc post BK half

The track cat made it to the beach. (Photo credit: Andy Wong)

Runners who take racing seriously know the importance of race-specific training. Most training programs include the same basic components – short, speedy intervals; longer tempo runs at a fast but sustainable pace; hillwork; long, slow distance to build aerobic capacity – but the emphasis given to those components and the way they fit together will be different if you are training for the mile versus a 5K versus a marathon. Your training should mirror your goal race.

By that light, the race I’ve been training for these past few months would combine running and birding – by, say, subtracting the number of species seen over a 10-mile distance from your finishing time. I’m pretty sure I could kick ass in a race like that.

Unfortunately, the race I was actually running was the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  Continue reading

200 Bird Thursday – week 19 (almost there)

yellow billed cuckoo

Brooklyn cuckoo (photo credit: Peter Paul III)

Back in January, when I embarked on this “200 bird challenge,” seeing 200 species of birds in the state of New York over the course of a year seemed like a pretty ambitious goal. When I told more experienced Brooklyn birders about it, they were less than impressed. And as my count quickly grew, I came to understand why. Well, then, how about limiting the challenge to the five boroughs of New York City?

More experienced Brooklyn birders bit their tongues.

So here it is, not quite halfway through May, and my 2016 NYC count stands at 197. With spring migration still in progress and a “big day” on the calendar for Saturday (I’m checking the weather forecast nervously), I anticipate hitting the big 2-0-0 this weekend.

After that . . . well, that can wait until we’re actually there. In the meantime, a few words about my favorite sighting – actually, sightings – of the week.

I’ve been birding in Prospect Park pretty seriously since 2014, and I’ve never seen a cuckoo there. Continue reading

It’s starting . . .

yelling trumpOkay, okay – it isn’t just starting; it’s been going on for a while. A hijab-wearing woman kicked and called “trash” in Bay Ridge. A homeless Latino man beaten up in Boston. Black students ejected from a rally in Valdosta, Georgia. But before last Friday, I hadn’t personally witnessed it.* (Because, when you’re a self-absorbed blogger, nothing is real unless it happens to you, right?)

The other thing that’s different, of course, is that Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican candidate for president of the United States. Continue reading

200 Bird Thursday – week 18 (what’s the point?)

IMG_4131200 bird Thursday is a day late this week, on account of spending far too many hours (a) birding and (b) pondering the point of all those hours. It started in Central Park last Friday. I’d gone there hoping the Swainson’s warbler seen the day before would still be around (it wasn’t). Swainson’s-less, I sought consolation in the Ramble, where a knot of birders converged around a tree that held several yellow-rumps, a blue-winged warbler and a singing white-eyed vireo, while an ovenbird hopped around on the ground below. Cameras clicked and whirred. A man laden with photographic equipment noticed another man with just binoculars. “Excuse me – you don’t take picture? You just look? What’s the point of that? I’m curious what do you get out of it.” Continue reading

Passover follies


This was where I lost it

With our usual knack for careful planning, Eric and I decided the Tuesday before the holiday that it would be nice to host a Passover Seder. Friday night was out, since we had theater tickets for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Henry V at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (more evidence of our knack for careful planning, and also of the fact that the Shakespeare fan in our household is the non-Jewish member of our household, and, well, I forgot). But Saturday was wide open, and even though many of our friends had already made other plans by then, we were able to lasso one guest.

So it was off to the races.

Almost immediately, we ran into brisket problems. Continue reading