Yesterday we had the pleasure of visiting with our niece, Katrina, her husband Zimran, and their friend Joel.Â Katrina, who recently finished her residency in Boston, is an emergency room physician who moved out here to work for a hospital near Los Altos, where she and Zimran live. Joel, who is South African but lived for years in Chicago,Â just finished his first year at Harvard Law and is heading off to Israel for a summer internship. And Zimran, who works for Creative Good, knows a lot about a lot, by which I mean that I can pretty much ask Zim a question about most anything and then sit back and listen with fascination to his response. (To get a sense of what Zimran knows and has done, check out his blog winterspeak.com.)
For example, there’s a large fish tank in their dining room. I pointed at it and asked Zim aboutÂ the fish — they were small and, I thought, blue — that were swimming about in the large enclosure, with coral and seaweed and an eerie, ethereal light that seemed to be encouraging theÂ seaweed and stuff growing on the bottom and sides of the tank. Zim told me about the fish,Â green chromis I think, that like to school and can handle significant changes in the tank environment, though Zim talks fast and was quickly on to the topic of tank filtration, opening up the cabinet below the tank toÂ expose the whirring mechanisms that control temperature and salinity and chemicalÂ composition and nitrogen cycles and stuff like that, I think, though my head wasÂ spinning with details and I wasn’t taking notes.
I’m sure Zim could have talked on this and any number of other topics for as long as we were willing to listen, since he likes to get deeper and deeper into the details,Â philosophy, psychology and unintended consequences of whatever he’s thinking about, but then Katrina told us thatÂ Zim has a quota for such discussions.Â While I’m not sure how she measures Zim’s eclectic discursions, it seemsÂ that the threat of something like a warning bell urges him to move on to the next interesting idea.
Joel, who met Katrina and Zim when they were all undergraduates at Harvard and who was part of a rather large “family” of students with similar interests that brought them together when they were juniors and seniors, is likeÂ Zim in his ability to hold forth at length on subjects as diverse as the political history andÂ future developments of Africa — he worked for the opposition party in South Africa before returning to Harvard — and legal issues. After my wife told him about a case pending before theÂ State Supreme Court tomorrow,Â Joel was able to summarize its main points and highlight its importance with details, it seemed to me, that my wife hadn’t even told him about. Quite amazing.
So we had a great evening, made even better because Zim likes to cook, and he’s a good cook. After Zim’s grilled chicken and garlic bread and Joel’s salad, we had Bonny Doon Vinyard’s NV Bouteille Call dessert wine, which tastes like raspberries and blueberries and I don’t know what else. Into this sweet drink we dunked brownie edges. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Well, they’re a different kind of biscotti made by Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties, famous for round brownies. You’ve got to see this stuff to believe it, and taste it too. The biscotti dipped into the wine was really, really good. Zim told us all about it, Katrina warned us not to leave out the apostrophe when searching for the website orÂ we might be surprised by whatÂ we’d find — would I ever do that? — and Joel added color commentary. A great evening of adventure!