Monday, October 29, 2007


I'd like to start an association called Scientists Against Green On a White Background. We'd have semiannual SAGOWB (pronounced Sag-o-wab) meetings at AAS each year. We'd apply for NASA and NSF funding to go around to various departments and teach people not to plot their data as green on a white background. We'd talk about how when you use green on a white background in the figures in your paper, the data become invisible when printed on a black-and-white printer.

It would be a heck of a movement. No more would the colloquium speaker have to say, "And as you can see from this figu--uh, oh. Well, it doesn't really show up, but if you could see it, my data clearly show that..."

To demonstrate the problem, look at the following figure and squint your eyes slightly to simulate a typical computer projector. As another test, click on it and print it out on a B&W printer. Hilarity will ensue!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Walkin' where?

Erin: "Have you talked to your parents lately?"

Me: "Yep, talked to my dad yesterday."

Erin: "Oh yeah, what's he up to?"

Me: "He's in Memphis."

Erin: "What's he doing there?"

Me: "Walking."

Now, I thought this was an absolutely HI-larious answer. My dad was
Walking in Memphis. Too funny, right?

But Erin didn't get it. So I tried to explain by singing the chorus, "You know, the famous song! It goes: I was walkin' in Memphis, mmmm mmm mmm my feet ten feet off street..."

Erin: "Oh yeah? Exactly what category of music is that?"

Me: "What category?! I don't know, Bruce Springstein!"

So it was off to Google for us. I found the lyrics and tried to sing them again to her, but the light still wasn't coming on. InTARnet, help us!

A quick search of YouTube turned up this video of the famous Marc Cohn song. Now, I don't know if this video/slideshow is a joke, or if it represents the hard work of an earnest fan. Frankly, I don't care, because it's too awesome for words either way. Enjoy:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

more please

here are a few more favorites from the botanical garden:

Owen beneath a giant ficus tree

big old leaf

where's owen?

at least once a week, we head to the honolulu zoo, often with
our neighbor and owen's partner in crime, noe:

no trip is complete without climbing
on the
baby elephant statue

or a stop at the keiki zoo to chase the goats

i love this photo!

Monday, October 22, 2007


Pumpkin patch 10/21/07:

Owen at the petting zoo

"That one REEally heavy"

"Owen making brown shoes" (note his shoes were blue before)

Botanical Gardens 9/23/07

Walking with sticks

Acting silly

"Hmmm. That's a big leaf"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

eating away at me

everything eventually morphs into the way the world is
-gene kahn, founder of cascadian farm

a couple weeks ago i found myself struggling to stay asleep. on multiple nights i awoke at 2:30, and fought to get back to sleep. the problem? i was worried about making the right food decisions for our family.

i've always tried to make conscious food choices, preparing plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and having a few meals a week that don't involve meat. after reading barbara kingsolver's latest book, animal vegetable miracle, i started thinking a lot more about what is in what we eat. then i dove right into michael pollan's book, an omnivore's dilemma. i also started doing some research on green living, especially in regards to common household products that are harmful to us and mother earth. can you see where i'm going with all this?

after the fourth night of wacky sleep, or non-sleep, john saw the need for an intervention:"you know, you've really gotta take a break from all this - you're making yourself crazy"

me:"i know, i'm all torn up about the fact that the meat industry is INSANE, produce is saturated with chemicals, and everything around us is probably giving us cancer... not to mention that EVERYTHING we eat is, or was, corn! i know it's all about finding a balance, and doing the best we can given circumstances... not to mention, we can't afford to shop only at granola-crusty-organic-free-range-earth-mother-nourishment store"

john: "what you need to realize is that it's all part of the game. think about it like The Wire. there's always some cop who wants to make a difference, or a politician who really believes in change. but in the end, there's only The Game, same as it ever was. you think you're saving the world by buying locally and eating organic. but to afford that kind of food, and fight the game, you need to be deep into the game, and therefore a part of the problem. who can afford local/organic? rich people. who causes the problem? rich people."

the wire
is arguably the best show on tv. if you haven't seen it, rent it now! i've known john long enough to know he has a tendency to oversimplify things (he admits, "that's how i roll"). but the analogy really did get me thinking. substitute food for drugs, corporations for kingpins, and it really just comes back to the money.

so, i put the books down, and went back to costco for some basic groceries and have been supplementing with produce from the farmer's market. i also got some good ole fashioned fiction from the library. let's just say, i have slept like a baby for over a week now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday at the air show

Sunday, we packed up the diaper bag, saddled up Sandyanna Lakshmi, and set out for the Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay to see the big airshow. Owen has been pretty stoked about the concept of "airplane really fast" ever since the Thunderbirds were in town last month, and this weekend's two-day air extravaganza promised to be even bigger.

We parked and rode the "shuttle" (a commandeered school bus) down to the flight line and arrived just before the Blue Angels were set to take off. We found our friends Adam, Marsha and Scarlett near the climbing wall and sat in the shade of a sparkling new Mazda SUV that was for some reason on display amid the recruiting tables and beer stands. Sign up for your guided tour of Iraq and check out the new line of Mazdas while you're here!

We stood around chatting, catching up on the latest parenting news until "Highway to the Danger Zone" began blaring from the speakers and the jets started warming up (because let's face it, what else would you play to accompany jets taking off?) One by one the planes lifted off, afterburners thundering, producing a sound that you felt more than you heard. Owen was pumped. Scarlett was crying. Man, let me tell you, there's nothing like watching four F-18 fighters execute a synchronized barrel roll to make you forget your antiwar sentiments. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Owen had a blast. He watched the jets fly by, seemingly inches above our heads, with a mix of awe and excitement that I haven't seen since the steam trains at Tilden Park. Half way through the show he started reenacting the planes' movements with his fingers, tracing out their aerobatics while making guttural rumbling noises in his throat (see video below).

At one point, one of the jets skimmed over the runway at about 100 feet. It was a cool move to be sure, but it turned out to be just a diversion. Right as the first jet faded off in the distance another flew in on a perpendicular path that took it right over the crowd. No one saw it coming before it pulled a flyby right out of Top Gun, buzzing our collective towers. Oh Mavrick, you iconoclastic trouble-maker, you!

Owen was startled like everyone else, but he quickly composed himself and tried to relocate the jet that had buzzed us. Poor Scarlett, on the other hand, was sobbing like a child forsaken by her loved ones. She literally started pounding the ground with her fists, looking at her parents as if to say, "Why in the name of god have you brought me to this horrible place?!" Owen looked back at her with a quizzical look on his face, seemingly saying, "Woman, gather your wits. How can you cry during such exciting times?!"

Don't worry. Scarlett was fine once the noise stopped. She and Owen had a great time playing on the fire truck display and riding in the pilot's seat of the Huey. After we walked through the cavernous interior of the C-5A Galaxy transport plane, we all dined on Papa John's personal pizzas (4 tickets, buy one get one free since they were closing soon). Sated and happy we visited a bit more, and then parted ways to our respective parking lots. All in all, a great afternoon at the Marine base!


Epilogue: On the shuttle ride back, the driver was trying to get around another bus that was unloading its passengers. Owen and I were in the second row, right behind the driver when she yelled, "C'mon, guys, let's go!" Owen stood up and screamed, "C'MON GUYS, GOOOOO!" Everyone on the bus started cracking up. He got this little self-satisfied grin on his face and proudly sat back down. Yes, this day belonged to Owen.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stuck in my head: The Thermals

On a chilly June evening in San Francisco, way back in ought 1 (or was is ought 2?), I stood in line at the Bottom of the Hill with a group of friends waiting to see one of my favorite bands, Rainer Maria. As was our custom, we showed up an hour and a half after the doors opened so we wouldn't have to endure the first opening act. Some anonymous band was finishing up their set and we grabbed some cheap beers and chatted. Then something amazing happened on stage. The second band marched up, announced tersely "We're the Thermals" and proceeded to explode in a brilliant, white-hot flash of awesomeness.

And that was my introduction to the pseudo-punk trio from Portland, Oregon, and I've been in rock-love ever since. I'm sure Rainer Maria was great, but I can't say I remember much from the headliners that fateful evening. I've seen The Thermals live three times and their energy is infectious enough to get even the emo-est of emo kids to throw off their patch-covered backpacks and nod their bespectacled heads to the beat (or just slightly off beat, as is their emo way of doing things). Don't believe me? Check out the video below.

If you liked that, you'll love their newest album. Here's a more recent video.

Update: Oh, oh, oh! I totally forgot to mention why I am on a The Thermals kick lately. The other night Erin and I were watching an episode of Weeds--downloaded in a perfectly legal fashion using modern TECHNOLOGY--and the end credits rolled along with a Thermals song. I just love it when two of my favorite things come together like that. I have a secret fantasy involving Les Savy Fav doing a cover of the Battlestar Galactica opening theme song.

Monday, October 8, 2007

daddy run

one of our favorite games lateley is "daddy run". here's how you play:
  1. owen says "daddy run"
  2. owen does the count off, counting from one to twenty
  3. owen and daddy run from one room to another
  4. once in the new location, sit down
  5. repeat steps 2-4 until daddy is dripping with sweat & gasping for breath
at one time step 2 only involved a count-off of 1, 2, 3. owen would count this as "five, four, five, four.. GO!" we had to alter the length of count-offs because owen learned to count to 20 thanks to ernie and sesame street's "123 count with me". nah, really we had to up it to 20 so we had a chance to catch our breath!

here's some footage, but you've gotta be patient, we had to get creative and hide the camera to catch the action :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


i was feeling somewhat self-conscious today that our family and
friends were starting to think i've been lax in cleaning since we moved.
this occurred to me as i was thinking that we never shared what
our native hawaiian friend told us before we settled here:

"everyone has roaches. it doesn't mean you're dirty or your neighbor
is dirty. they are everywhere and so you just do your best to keep
the kitchen clean and food put away. but they'll still find their
way into your house."

any doubts i had about the validity of her statement were clearly
dismissed when i came accross this as i read "the hawaiian alphabet"
to owen toinght:

they even glare at you from the picture, don't they!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Lunch with the Johnsons

Today I downloaded some time-lapse photography software and I feel like I just got a new toy for Christmas!

One of my first test runs was a time lapse sequence of our lunch today. Today's menu: Bagels and lox.