The Cartoon Guide to Genetics

by Larry Gonick. This book was recommended to me by my friend Ann, who claims it’s the best introductory genetics textbook out there. And I would agree, if the person reading the book doesn’t know anything about genetics already. Unfortunately, I had seen most of the material before, in an introductory biology class, so it was not news to me. But the book is very clear in most of its explanations, which made it ideal as a review of that knowledge for me. It cleared up some of the gene regulation mechanisms that I had forgotten about, and the cartoon approach certainly made what was going on more intuitive.

I recommend this book to anyone who thinks “I’d like to know something about genetics” or “I wish I remembered more of that genetics stuff.” It’s not really for the crowd that wants more than nerdy cocktail conversation topics, but it will certainly teach you something while entertaining you, which is more than you can say of most textbooks. The best thing about it is the way in which it follows the historical development of genetics (something I missed in the class I took), which turns the whole subject into a story of sorts to follow. So go to the library, pick up a copy, and kick back on a rainy summer afternoon, and expand your brain.

Nirvana

I went to this place again to sample different dishes this time. Rather than going for the noodle options, we went with some of the rice dishes. For an appetizer we had the dragon dumplings, which were somewhat disappointing veggie pot-stickers. I felt that the dumpling wrapper was a little too thick and chewy for the drab interior. The citrus short-ribs were sweet and tender, and came with a side of sticky rice — delicious! The mango chicken was very dry, which was strange, but the glaze helped make up for it.

The strong point of Nirvana is certainly in the sweeter dishes — meats glazed with fruit. If you want something spicier or less cloying, I would recommend going somewhere else, but if you have a sweet tooth but don’t want to pig out on ice cream for your meal, Nirvana is a good bet.