## Posts

Showing posts from 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!

### 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 = N take - N give . 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.

### 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 qu

### 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

### Owen and Erin Playing Catch

Owen practices his diving catches just after the 2:00 mark .

### Allan Sandage

Sadly, my academic great-grand-uncle Allan Sandage passed away last week. I never had an opportunity to meet him, which is a shame because he worked just up the road at the Carnegie Institute right here in Pasadena. I would have liked to talk with him about evolved stars as his 2003 paper on subgiants was part of the inspiration of my thesis project. From his obituary in the NY Times: [His advisor Edwin] Hubble had planned an observing campaign using a new 200-inch telescope on Palomar Mountain in California to explore the haunting questions raised by that mysterious expansion. If the universe was born in a Big Bang, for example, could it one day die in a Big Crunch? But Hubble died of a heart attack in 1953, just as the telescope was going into operation. So Dr. Sandage, a fresh Ph.D. at 27, inherited the job of limning the fate of the universe. “It would be as if you were appointed to be copy editor to Dante,” Dr. Sandage said. “If you were the assistant to Dante, a

### heehee!

yesterday while doing homework, owen exclaims, "aye chihuahua" marcus replies, "i chi my wah-wah (water)!"

### Tha Swagger Wagon

From the wonderfully subversive (reverse-subversive?) Toyota ad series: Where my kids at?! For our part, we prefer the Mazda 5.

### The Brooklyn Space Program

I'm so doing this with Owen! One day... Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo .

### Crazy eyes

From an older article in Cosmos magazine: A new study has shown that a bizarre deep-fish can rotate its eyes to look up through the totally transparent roof of its head in search of prey. Though the barreleye fish, Macropinna microstoma , was discovered almost 70 years ago, most specimens were damaged when brought to the surface in nets. The research from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), in California, is the first to show that the animal has a transparent fluid-filled sac in place of the roof its skull, and that it can rotate its tubular eyes to either look up or forwards through its head to focus on prey. I was reminded of this article when talking with my collaborator Andrew while we were observing on Keck tonight. Andrew keeps an amazing little " memory book " in his wallet that he created to keep track of the crazy and sometimes useful facts that he has come across over the years. For example, there are 105 billion humans that have ever l

### Portugal's drug decriminalization story

Did you know that Portugal decriminalized drugs 10 years ago? Not just marijuana, but all drugs. Nowadays, Portugal has lower usage rates and lower incidence of drug-related crime than any other EU nation or the US. This week at Politico of all places there's an excellent excellent op-ed by Glenn Greenwald about Portugal's radical new policies toward drug usage. Here are a few snippets: By any metric, Portugal’s drug-decriminalization scheme has been a resounding success. Drug usage in many categories has decreased in absolute terms, including for key demographic groups, like 15-to-19-year-olds. Where usage rates have increased, the increases have been modest — far less than in most other European Union nations, which continue to use a criminalization approach. Portugal, whose drug problems were among the worst in Europe, now has the lowest usage rate for marijuana and one of the lowest for cocaine. Drug-related pathologies, including HIV transmission, hepatitis tr

### Amazing Time Lapse Video

Church and 30th St. San Francisco MUNI Construction from Ken Murphy on Vimeo . h/t Fitz

### Some Photos

Now that my phone is once again talking to iPhoto, I was able to upload about 3 weeks worth of photos. Here's a quick sampling: Owen doing some board work in my office: "Hoy es viernes." Picking Owen up from school. When Erin was out of town running a marathon in Iowa, I stayed with the boys for the extended weekend. Here's our Sunday morning trip to Will Rogers State Beach. Bath time! I recently gave a colloquium at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), just north of Pasadena. Here I am having some fun with the IR camera demonstration in the space flight museum.