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Showing posts from 2008


Running in Nonna & Papi's back yard, Houston, TX, December 2008.


Playing in the Johnny Jump-up at Nonna & Papi's house, Houston, TX, December 2008

Learning to Fall Asleep

"Sleeping like a baby." Whoever came up with that aphorism clearly never had a baby. When you have a kid, you come to realize that babies are terrible sleepers. They have no sleeping skillz. Specifically, they're horrible at falling asleep. They need rocking, singing, humming, perfect quiet, a loud fan--all types of aids just to relax and fall asleep. And then they're up 2 hours later. I'm very perplexed about this behavior. When our ancestors were hunting and gathering while living in the forest, how did enough of us survive to reach civilization with babies screaming their heads off every 2 hours? A primitive mother doing laps around the ol' tree for an hour with a screaming infant doesn't work so well for passing on genes, at least it seems to me. Holy sabre-tooth lion attacks! Were babies better sleepers 100,000 years ago? Did they have the ability to fall asleep peacefully back then and lose the skill as humans got more sophisticated and softer? Is a

In the news...hopefully

UH Astronomer Uses Ultra-Sensitive Camera to Measure the Size of a Planet Orbiting a Distant Sta r (See also: oklo ) A team of astronomers led by John Johnson of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy has used a new technique to measure the precise size of a planet around a distant star. They used a camera so sensitive that it could detect the passage of a moth in front of a lit window from a distance of 1,000 miles. The camera, mounted on the UH 2.2-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, measures the small decrease in brightness that occurs when a planet passes in front of its star along the line-of-sight from Earth. These "planet transits" allow researchers to measure the diameters of worlds outside our solar system. "While we know of more than 330 planets orbiting other stars in our Milky Way galaxy, we can measure the physical sizes of only the few that line up just right to transit," explains Johnson. The team studied a planet called WASP-10b, which

Owen's reason for the season

One of my favorite things is when Erin and the boys pick me up from work. When I walk out Erin usually parks such that Owen's window faces the front door of the IfA, and as I come out he usually shouts, "Daddy!" and smiles really big and I say, "Baaaahhhh, OWEN!." It's a great way to end the work day. Yesterday was different, however. Owen's window wasn't down and he wasn't smiling. When I got in the car I said, "Baaahhh, OWEN!" He informed me, "No Daddy, I'm grumpy!" The reason for his sour mood was that the play structure he wanted to play on was undergoing renovations. So one can understand his less than sunny disposition. On our way home Owen sat in the back and stewed. But when we rounded the corner on Liloa Rise, we all spotted something truly glorious: A new Christmas display that featured, dun duh dun , a choo-choo christmas light display! Erin said, "Owen, do you see what I see?!" To which Owen rep

Science! In Action!

I've been invited to give a Wunch talk at the Princeton Department of Astrophysical Sciences in mid-December. Wunch stands for Wednesday Lunch, and as far as I can tell Wunch talks are the same as colloquia in other departments, which are formal, hour-long presentations about your research. It's a good way of advertising your work, meeting important people in your field, and getting really stressed out! Compounding matters is the fact that I applied for their tenure-track faculty position, which potentially makes this particular talk of mine my Job Talk (granted, every talk is a job talk, but...) In an effort to relieve a little stress and break the monotony of preparing my Power Point slides, I decided to break out Gawker and make a time-lapse video of myself working. I snapped a frame every 10 seconds and recorded at 16 frames per second. I look remarkably like a Bobble Head Doll. Amazingly, I avoided picking my nose while filming. Well, I avoided having my nose-picking c

The Only Way To Observe

I don't know about other astronomers, but when I'm up at 14,000 feet observing for 10-12 hours straight, the only thing that I want more than oxygen is cigarette smoke! And who wears a tie to the observatory?

Quick Post

Marcus continues his impossible rate of growth, here pictured with his outfit from Auntie's Liz and Lindsay, which they purchased during their recent trip to France. Pretty swank, eh? Marcus is all, merci ! Also, here's a video of Owen giving his little brother some "juicy kisses." At our dinner table, no shoes, no shirt? No problem.


at long last i captured the latest moves. you'll note that marcus (AKA mar-mar, masher, or mj) has become quite a chatterbox lately and produces copious amounts of drool. we probably change outifits 4 times a day as a result!


brace yourself for some cuteness....

A Historical Day: Pictures of Planets

As you may have seen in the news , two explanet research teams have taken the first pictures of planets orbiting other stars. The astronomy community is buzzin' right now--this is absolutely huge ! Up until now, we've only sensed the presence of planets by detecting their gravitational influence on their parent stars, or seeing the planet eclipse its star as viewed from Earth. The difficulty with taking pictures of planets is that the little guys are so much fainter than their host stars. It's analogous to seeing someone hold a candle next to a light house in viewed from California! Now we actually have portraits of two exoplanetary systems: Fomalhaut b, and HR8799 b, c and d . My former Berkeley classmate, Mike Fitzgerald, is 3rd author on the Fomalhaut b paper. Nice work Mike! In the picture above , you can see the Fomalhaut planet orbiting just inside of a massive "debris disk" that is a lot like our solar system's Kuiper belt (where Plut

when i grow up....

today owen informed me that emily elizabeth, co-star of clifford stories, wants to be a doctor when she grows up. i asked, "what would you like to be when you grow up?". owen said, "president". i have to say that this is quite a step up from his last declaration that he plans to drive the big green garbage truck! in other news, marcus has is growing like a champ. he's rolling over pretty consistently (from tummy to back) and has really strong neck control when he's held upright. he's starting to giggle and loves to see and talk to his big brother, especially in the morning. owen often finds marcus chillin' in his swing when i'm getting my coffee ready in the morning. he's taken to doing voice-overs in what he imagines marcus' voice to be. this seems to be the 6:35 AM script in our household: "good morning marcus!" "hi owen!" (in teeny-tiny high pitch) "guess who's awake, it's owen!" "ya

That's a handsome boy if I say so myself

Owen's first school photo.


Erin just finished dinner and my dad called to say that VA went to Obama. While we were on the phone, CNN called it for Obama. The long night is over. We can see the sun rising, even though it's 6 in the evening. Owen chants "Obama, Obama, Obama!" MSNBC live online is showing Chigago's south side going nuts. I'm crying. BLTs and tomato soup for dinner. Unbelievable. We have a black president. I honestly didn't think it would ever happen. Fireworks in Honolulu! I can't believe it. President Obama!

Surf's up!

COWABUNGA!!!! woah. i just had my first ever surf lesson in waikiki and am still reeling from it! the waves weren't that big (although to this novice, a 3 ft. wave felt gigantic!), but the 12 ft board i surfed on made it possible to catch anything. here's some photos from the big event!

Owen at school on Halloween Eve

From left: Kai'poi (yellow mask on the floor), Weston (Maverick), Kalena, Kaila, Ms. Fake, Nicolas, Olivia, Kanani, Owen, and Juaquin.

Marcus and Owen

Here's a video of Owen watching one of his favorite DVDs, Corduroy , and Erin trying to convince Marcus that he's tired (sorry about the low light levels). Marcus disagreed, and instead only smiled and babbled in response. A few minutes later: Mommy's always right!

Trick or Treat!

Last year we spent Halloween at Kahala Mall because of the rain. This year the weather cooperated and we made use of inside information regarding the trick-o-treating hot-spot that is the Faculty Housing complex, right near the IfA. Erin brought the boys over after work, and we met up with Marsha, Adam (my new office mate) and Scarlett. After dinner at the nearby noodle house, we set off on our adventure. "Giddy-up horsey, yeeee haw!" Whoa, horsey! Owen went about his trick-or-treating like it was a job. He had his spiel down pat. A "trick or treat!" when we arrived at a new house, followed by a "Thank you!" and a "Happy Halloween!" when he got his candy. He was ON! Just like last year, it was the Owen and Scarlett show :) Mommy carved a jack-o-lantern to Owen's specifications: Square eyes, a square nose and two square teeth (one tooth broke off).


We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change. We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the [time] to come. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that were not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people. Yes we can. It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation. Yes we can. It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom through the darkest of


since marcus' birth, i've often been asked, "does he look like owen?" my answer is often, "yes, at times.... but i look at him and just see marcus" . looking at these photos... it's hard to imagine that anyone would think these two cuties aren't brothers! owen loves the mobile as much as marcus does! notice the suave new haircut (mommy and daddy are getting good with the clippers!) he's so cute, eh?

Walkin' and Talkin'

Tonight, Owen and I went for a walk just before dinner. Here's a rough transcript of our conversation. Owen: "Daddy, what's this way?" Me: "It's a new way. This will be an adventure walk." Owen: "Yeah, I haven't been this way in a long time." Me: "Yep." Owen: "Daddy, this is the way to the choo-choo Christmas lights!" Me: "Yes, this is the way [to the house that had a Christmas train display on the side of their house-- 10 months ago! ]" Owen: "Daddy, I like this new way." Me: "It's fun to try new paths and new directions, huh?" Owen: "Daddy, I want to go home now." Me: "But we just started! How about we turn up here?" Owen: "Okay!" ... Owen: "Daddy, it will only be a short time when there will be choo-choo Christmas lights!" Me: "Yep, probably only a month away. After Thanksgiving." Owen: "Yeah! Tomorrow there will be choo-choo Chr

Clever boy

Owen cashed in his daily DVD privileges before lunch time, so Erin warned him saying, "Okay, you've already watched DVD. I don't want you to ask me about it after your nap. When you wake up, No. Asking. About. DVD. You can play with your toys instead. Okay?" Owen agreed. After his nap this afternoon, I was taking a picture of Marcus and Owen said, "Daddy, I have an idea! You can take a movie of Owen watching Piglet's Big Movie!" I could only laugh and commend him on his obedience of the letter of the law, if nothing else.


From Ph.D. Comics : Postdocs are just below Un-tenured Profs.

Fathering as investment

I just read an absolutely amazing post my one of my favorite bloggers Ta-Nahisi Coates (pronounced tah-nuh-hah-see ). It's about Barack Obama's white grand parents, their unheralded heroism, and parenthood. Even if you don't support Obama, this is a truly inspiring piece that goes way beyond politics (read the full post here ). Here's an exerpt: "Barack Obama's grandmother is gravely ill. My temptation yesterday was to say nothing. And then, this morning, I came across this picture at Andrew's [blog]. I've reflected a lot--personally--on Obama's campaign and the values of parenting. I often think about how his Dad left him, and never knew that his son would be within days of the presidency of the greatest power in history. Think about this--what else could a father want? My own Dad often says that too many black men see child-rearing as "responsibility" and not "personal investment." They forget about the joy that children bring

Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!!

Owen loves the Youtube. And Owen loves the dancing banana singing the famous, if not ancient (circa 2002!) internet meme " Peanut Butter Jelly Time. " In case you haven't heard of this wonderful little song/video, here's your background reading: Owen now sings this song every time he eats a PB&J sammich, which is to say every single day. And now, I proudly present Owen's version of "Peanut Butter Jelly Time." You can sing along at home with these lyrics .

back in the game

all this pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum stuff left me in what *i* would consider a cooking slump. fortunately, last saturday i had a reason to get back in the game. some friends hosted an oktoberfest potluck and i took the opportunity to try my hand at making apple strudel. not to toot my own horn, but omg, it was yummy! some other amazing things in our feast were some traditional german brats, homemade sourkraut, german potato salad, pretzels, spetzel, and two micro-brews. woah. there were even a few folks in leiderhozen. so much fun! anyhow, here's a few photos of strudel making that sparked my recent dive back into cooking. some other recent kitchen endeavors have been homemade chicken pot pie (complete with pie crust from scratch), beet and goat cheese ravioli (recipe below), bbq chicken pizza on whole-wheat crust, arugula & watermelon salad, and an indian veggie curry with cilantro mint chutney. my mouth is wattering a little thinking about that chutney :)

still giggling

while pretending to be a doctor yesterday, owen was listening to my heartbeat. i asked, "how does it sound?" to which he replied, "buhBUMP buhBUMP, you know, like a speedbump". also for the record, i got my first "whatever" from him. wow, it seems early.


Our downstairs neighbor is the trainer for the Anuenue Hawaiian-Language Immersion School's football team, and she invited us to the team's homecoming game. Before the game, they performed the Haka, which is a traditional Maori dance. Even though the Maori are the indiginous people of New Zealand, the Haka is quite common among Hawaiian football teams. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing it in person for the first time. Owen recently started doing his own version of the Haka in the car on the way to soccer practice. We'll try to catch it on video, but he has actually been quite camera-shy lately, if you can believe it. Stay tuned!

october is here

pumpkin patch adventures hanging with the boys

Slip N Slide!

Our friend Mark brought his two kids over for some fun in the sun with the slip n slide. The kids discovered that removing their swim-wear dramatically lowered their coefficient of friction. Water plus momentum minus friction equals wheeeee! I thought this was a pretty amazing shot (click for a larger view). Nice work with the camera, Erin!

go, mommy go!

today is the first full day of round-the-clock-solo-parenting of a preschooler and a newborn (john's in berkeley for a research group meeting until monday.... but i'm sure he's really eating yummy indian food & lots of cheeseboard pizza). we went to mommy exercise this morning, for the first time since marcus' birth. i just walked and did just a few of the arm exercises. it felt great to be up and out in the fresh air so early, and i know i'll get stronger as i get back into the groove. afterwards, we walked over to the zoo with a group from our class and owen was able to check out all his keiki zoo favorites (primarily the guinea pigs), and assemble a giant floor puzzle, and hang with some friends while i nursed marcus in the shade. the honolulu zoo is really one of my favorite places on earth :) so far we're all still alive, and in a stroke of luck, both boys are napping peacefully (call it a miracle or attribute it to my superpowers). the dishes are

Slide Show

"Mommy made strawberry short cake! Can Ah get a wit-ness?!" Marcus, chillin' at the park with his friend, Aurelia Owen inspects the Waikiki FD equipment. They passed Owen's scrutiny with only minor marks. The koi pond at Punahou School (down the street from us where Baradk Obama attended and learned about hope and change) Owen, lost in deep thought. (Yes, he wore the same shirt two days in a row. You got a problem with that? 'Cause he doesn't.) Our neighbor, Antie Elizabeth, gave Owen this robe with fire trucks on it, which Owen describes as, "Awesome" and "Real cool."