Networking: it’s all about those nodes and links and randomness

We’ve all, more or less, heard of or experienced the so-called six degrees of separation. The theory, which is attributed to Harvard professor Stanley Milgram’s experiment, demonstrates that we live in a small world where, more often than not, we are only six steps away from connecting with anyone. Move interconnectivity to the web, you’ll find that “any document is on average only nineteen clicks away from any other,” writes Albert-László Barabási in his book, Linked.

But our idea of the Web, with search engines like Google connecting us to webpages, which then direct us to other hyperlinks — this interconnected world, how does it all begin?

The book, explores the problem with a famous mathematical problem, the Königsberg Bridge problem. In Königsberg, Russia, there are seven bridges connecting the city to the island of Kneiphof. The puzzle asks:

 Can one walk across the seven bridges and never cross the same one twice?

Well, I would have to see the location of the bridges.

Fair enough.

Konigsberg Bridge Puzzle (image credit: simonkneebone)

And then, and then… I would try walking through all my solutions?  Continue reading

Grilled cheese and ham sandwich Frenchified: Croque Monsieur

Life is unfair in a lot of ways. For one, all cultures are not obsessed equally, especially the French. From accent to fashion to even their women (see Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat), even a simple grilled ham and cheese sandwich seems that much tastier and worthy of the hefty $16 when it’s called Croque Monsieur (pronounced crock ma-seur). 

Literally translated to “fried mister,” the rustic yet elegant snack is a staple for the French and sold in most cafe, bistro, brasserie and even as frozen food in France. The iconically French dish is nothing more than “a hot sandwich, made of 2 slices of buttered bread with crusts removed, filled with thin slices of Gruyère cheese and a slice of lean ham,” according to Larousse Gastronomique.

From Burette, la croque madame (image credit: fancy.com)

From Burette, la croque madame (image credit: fancy.com)\

A ham and cheese is a “Mr” (croque monsieur) and a ham and cheese topped with an egg is a “Madame” (croque madame). While the treat can be replicated at home, nothing beats a a visit to the 50-seat, French-inspired Buvette in West Village.

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The “Grom” persuasion of ice cream

The seemingly contradictory logic of eating spicy food in hot weather is actually not as weird as it may read. In fact, some of the fiery dishes come from places that are hot, like Southeast Asia and India. The reason is simple, spicy foods make you sweat, and sweating cools you down (read more about the science behind sweating).

In light of such knowledge, I believe it makes sense to reverse the logic and eat ice cream in winter. And the best lick comes from Grom, the artisanal gelato from Italy.

(image credit: Grom)

My favorite is the house classic, crema di Grom, which consists of pastry cream, Columbian chocolate chips and meliga (aka corn) cookies. The treat is incomplete without a healthy dollop of homemade whipped cream. Grom’s version, unlike store bought whipped cream that is sweet and lacking in cream flavor, tastes richer, denser.

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The Ultimate Sub-Zero Dress Code (and more)

Why the tendency to land myself in places that are cold? Let’s see…

  • when I studied abroad in Beijing, winter was about -10°C (14°F)
  • when I worked in Seoul, Christmas was -14°C (6.8°F)
  • when I visited Harbin for the Ice and Snow Festival, it was a walloping -35 °C (-31°F). Standing in front of St Sophia Cathedral (see photo below), both myself and the bing tang hu lu [1] held in my hand were quite frozen, albeit one slightly more than the other.
In front of St. Sophia Cathedral (Haerbin, China 2011). Even the sugar-coated plums turned form soft and juicy to completely frozen.

In front of St. Sophia Cathedral (Haerbin, China 2011). Even the sugar-coated plums turned form soft and juicy to completely frozen.

Having been to very very cold places and lived (obviously) to tell the tale, here are some tried and true advice to staying warm.  Continue reading

A healthier lifestyle, starting, with plant eating (dirt included)

With new year, comes new year resolutions. Chinese New Year, which falls on a Thursday (February 19) this year, is no exception. Prepare to kick of the year with a more healthful, greener eating from Spot Dessert Bar.

The potted plant, aka “Harvest” from Spot Dessert Bar (image credit: Serious Eats)

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