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Showing posts from December, 2010

### The future is now! Meh.

As miraculous as this thing is, after I downloaded the free (FREE!) app to my phone, I saw that it actually costs $4.99 for the Spanish-to-English module. I was all, "$4.99 for a damn iPhone app?! No way!" Yes, 2 minutes prior it was a miracle. Then, suddenly I was outraged at the price.

### Toward a More Visual Isle

My friend Jon stopped through Pasadena yesterday and I introduced him to the Isle of Tune. (You might remember Jon from around this time last year.) After browsing through some example islands among the top-ranked list Jon noticed a tendency for authors to place function over form, thereby neglecting the visual aspect of the island. I had this same tendency in my first Isles: three distinct musical elements for three separate cars, all arranged in a line or circle.

So Jon and I set out to design a town visually first, and see what musical elements fell out of the construction. We then took some of those elements, replicated them and formed our Tune: Novambient Drive.

If you enjoy it, be sure to vote

Many thanks to the Isle of Tune's creator Jim, for fixing our island after a weird bug caused our elements to become scrambled when we first tried to save/share it.

### Estrellita

As a professional astronomer, I strongly approve of las maestras choice of song for the San Rafael Elementary Christmas program. Bravo DLP kindergarteners!

### The Reason for the Season: Economic Inefficiency?

I just read an excellent article on Slate that confirmed the intuitive sense I've long had about gift-giving. The article describes two of the primary reasons why giving gifts is economically ill-advised. The first is dead-weight loss, which is nicely summed up in the classic tale of the Gift of the Magi. The basic idea is that if a person really wants/needs an item, they will buy it.
Even if Della hadn't cut off her hair, economic theory would demand to know why, if Della really wanted the combs, she wouldn't already have bought them. Or why, if Jim really wanted to replace his worn leather watch strap, he wouldn't already have done so. Based on this concept the ideal gift-giving situation is one in which the gift giver is able to anticipate a gift that the recipient wasn't aware they wanted. In order to do this, you must know the person well---often better than they know themselves. This is difficult to do for anyone outside of your own household.

You might ar…

### Fall Comes Slowly to Pasadena

Mar and I were playing in the front yard last week and I was inspired to snap some pics and a quick movie. Sorry for the jitter, the form factor of an iPhone does not facilitate smooth panning.

Hey, what's that small creature in the bushes?

### First tooth out!

Last week Owen and I were playing football in the master bedroom. Owen was pretending to run back a kickoff and I reached out to tackle him while Mar blocked me. Owen ducked and my wrist hit him square in his mouth, right on his loose tooth. He stood up, blinked hard twice, and spit out his tooth, literally with a patooey sound. I sprinted and grabbed a wash cloth, but it was too late. He saw the blood and started crying. Fortunately the mouth heals quicker than any part of the body.

Owen eventually calmed down and we put his tooth under his pillow in a "special tooth holder" (an old coin purse of Erin's). The next morning the tooth fairy delivered: a crisp dollar bill (you know, due to inflation).

### Hurray for correct terminology

One of my (many) football pet peeves is the so-called "turnover ratio," which is defined as the difference between the number of times a team takes away possession of the ball to the times they turn the ball over. Catch that? It's calculated as the difference: R = Ntake - Ngive. The Jaguars have given away the ball 10 more times than they have taken it away this season, so their "turnover ratio" is -10. Gah!

Fortunately, in today's CBS broadcast of the Jags vs the Colts someone finally got it right. The announcer called it the turnover differential! Yay!

### Beavers Win! Beavers Win!

It was the longest minute-18 ever. Caltech had led most of the game only to have the UCSC Banana Slugs roar back to snatch the edge back (despite not having appendages). As nicely summarized on the Caltech sports page:
Cramer scored the last points for Caltech with 1:18 left which gave the home squad a 63-59 edge. Samuel Allen hit one of two at the foul line seven seconds later to bring UC Santa Cruz within three points. During that same sequence, Allen rebounded his second miss at the foul line and his lay-up brought the visitors deficit to one point."I'm about to have a heart attack," breathed Erin as we sunk into our seats. It looked like victory was slowly slipping away, aided by UCSC's full-court press, a few lucky bounces, and what seemed like hostile officiating. On the inbound:
A Caltech turnover gave the ball back to UC Santa Cruz with under a minute left. Ryan Matsuoka missed a jumper with 33 seconds left but the Banana Slugs grabbed an offensive rebound. All…

### The reason for the season

Togetherness (fostered by alcohol!)

via Andrew Sullivan, like most things.

### sweet as can be

by e

i dunno how i ended up in a house of such sweet boys. marcus and i are both home sick today; he's watching Cars for the millionth time, i'm working my way through a backlog of designblogs. a minute ago he climbed onto my lap and said:

"mommy, i want to snuggle you. i really love you"
me, wiping away a tear of joy "i really love you too"
mar, "i love you as high as i can hop" (can you guess which book is a favorite?)
me "me too marcus"

he then held monkey up to my face and said "here ya go mommy, give monkey kiss". naturally, i obliged, and he proceeded to snuggle me so fiercly, we accidentally butted heads and i ended up with a fat lip.

### AmyPhone

Mar called up Auntie Amy today on his Lightening McQueen phone.

### Saturday Morning Mathematics

Saturday morning Owen and I were having some fun with math (Marcus helped by turning an otherwise orderly counting process into more of a Monte Carlo process). We started by counting the change in his piggy bank: 1363 pennies in various denominations. While putting the change back in the bank, Owen paused and said, "Daddy, do you know what 37 plus 16 is? It's 53!" I figured he got pretty lucky since we normally do double-digit addition on paper, not in his head. Assuming it was just a fluke, I asked him what 55 plus 13 was. He paused, and I thought he was stumped. Then, after about 10 seconds he exclaimed, "Oh, I know! It's 68!" Well, I'll be!

So I grabbed the camera as we proceeded down the stairs:

I'm pretty amazed at his ability to compute in his head. I think he has a real talent for visualizing numbers and manipulating them spatially (if that's the right term). My mom often recounts the story of me, when I was 5, telling her how many quarters…

### The Andrew Lange Memorial Trampoline

In my Caltech offer letter, the late PMA Chair Andrew Lange wrote:

"Finally, the Chair of the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy will, with considerable delight, have delivered to your new address in Pasadena a trampoline identical to (or, if such cannot be located, as similar as possible to) the trampoline that your son Owen so much enjoyed in the Chair's backyard during your visit."
At long last, this morning:

### Urban Assault Meets Scottish Countryside

Danny MacAskill - "Way Back Home" - street trials riding short film

### Have Not A Spirit of Fear

I was sitting in the living room working on my laptop when Owen wandered in and laid his head on my lap. "Daddy, I keep having bad dreams and I can't go to sleep." I walked him back into his room, tucked him in and told him to look at his stuffed animals if he got scared again. After all, how can you feel scared when Piglet is grinning in your face? Owen agreed with that logic and soon fell asleep.

The whole incident brought to mind one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. I used to have a hard time falling asleep because I had an active imagination and I was extremely susceptible to imagery from TV. For instance, there was an episode of McGyver with a Sasquatch in it. Even though the Sasquatch turned out to be a bad guy dressed up, and even though he was eventually caught by the bemulletted hero, I still feared the 7-foot-tall monster would emerge from my closet the moment I closed my eyes.

To help me and my sisters with our bed-time fears, my father use…