Monday, December 08, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Why did the editors send me a copy? Because I contributed a couple of the reviews that are in the book. Yay.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
"I just saw a T-R-U-C-K."
I don't have anything to say about this except that it's happening and I'm impressed. Unfortunately, he's a bit of a stickler about getting things right, so he's reluctant to write anything down without checking the spelling with us first. We just ask him how he thinks something is spelled and he's usually correct.
He did ask me today what an "izland" is.
On a totally unrelated note, for some reason Google thinks I'm in Japan. Thank goodness I use it enough that I don't have to read Kanji.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
What stood out for me was that his brother is Ari Emanuel, the real-life inspiration for Ari Gold, the Hollywood agent played by Jeremy Piven on HBO's Entourage.
I'm waiting eagerly for Funny or Die or some other enterprising website to put together the West Wing / Entourage mash up with Ari Gold as Chief of Staff. You know, walking and talking (on cell phones) and swearing at aides, telling Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to "Hug it out, bitches" and making homophobic comments to Barney Frank.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Since being naturalized in 2002, this may have been the first election that I voted for someone, and not just against someone else.
I voted for Obama because he is someone who seeks the truth, believes in the power of education (formal or not) and chooses to see the best in people.
The fact that he's black is historic and exciting.
I think race was acknowledged but not the most important factor in this election; that is how I want this country to be, and that is the world I want my children to grow up in.
I'm looking forward to having parents of young children in the White House. I wonder what sorts of choices the Obamas will make about schools, for example. This helps reinforce my solipsistic bubble of parental anxiety.
Joe Biden will not run for president anymore. Looking to the future, I wonder if he would take a cabinet post in a second Obama administration and cede the Vice Presidency to a younger politician. Hillary Clinton is also probably too old to run for president again. This year is a generational shift away from the Baby Boom. The Clintons, Robert Rubin, Robert Reich, Madeleine Albright--they've all become "party elders."
(Speaking of Biden, when he said that there was a three letter word that needed attention in this economy, "JOBS, J-O-B-S," I'm disappointed not to have heard any commentators say, "Without Joe, it would just be B.S." I'm not sure what that means, but I think it's funny. Where's my spot on Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!?)
Although I'm disappointed that various discriminatory propositions were passed in various states (with California pending as of this writing), it's clear from the demographics of the vote that this is just temporary. Gay marriage will be legal in twenty years.
I hope that this election was empowering enough for young people and other new or lapsed voters that turnout continues to be high in the future.
It's sad that polling places were swamped because of a 65% turnout rate. What would have happened if 90% showed up?
I'm a little amazed that 55 million people voted for McCain. The Electoral Map looks blue, but there are still a lot of people to win over.
Obama's speech last night was perfect. He struck a great tone for the country, telling his supporters that this was just the beginning and a lot of hard work will follow, and telling McCain's supporters that he would continue to try to win them over. The sight of Jesse Jackson's tears really broke me up. The encapsulation of the last century through the story of one voter's life was terrific. Obama's face was so serious, but I got the sense that he was trying not to well up with tears at points (or crack up when he mentioned his daughters' new puppy).
I was interviewed by a Boston Globe reporter and gave a bland quote that the reporter reworked with judicious use of selective quotation.
McCain's speech last night was also excellent. If that had been the tone of his campaign, I think Obama would have still won, but McCain would have gotten a lot more votes.
At my polling place there were people with signs trying to make last minute pitches about candidates or ballot questions. "Dog lovers or pot smokers?" I asked them. Turns out they were taxpayers. The three questions here were all lopsided, 2:1 affairs: No on eliminating the state income tax ($70 million of advertising spent on opposing this), Yes on decriminalizing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, and Yes on ending dog racing.
Obama won three states where I feel some pride: Massachusetts where I voted, New Hampshire where the family spent a couple of afternoons canvasssing for Obama and Shaheen (who won the Senate seat), and Pennsylvania where I encouraged my sister- and brother-in-law to write letters to their local newspapers.
Last year Austin said he wanted to be president when he grew up. I hugged him and told him he could. If he had said it two or three years ago, I still would have hugged him but I probably wouldn't have said anything.
This will be the first presidential election that my children will remember. I hope they remember that we paid attention to the news, that we were proud to say who we supported, that we volunteered our time and energy (and money) to help who we supported, that we didn't "hate" or disparage opposing candidates just because they were not our choice, and that voting is a civic duty and an act to be proud of.
I think Mari will remember that we hit the Obama office in Salem, NH two days after Halloween and there was a lot of candy on the food table.
Okay, President-elect Obama, you've got an electoral vote mandate. Yes we can feel the fierce urgency of now. I have two words for you: metric system.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
When Julie got home, I showed it to her. Isn't he sweet? And then Julie said, he gave me a note, too. She showed me hers:
I HAIT LOVE
Believe me, it's usually the other way around, but still, I laughed.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Since he's starting to read, she gave us a list of chapter book series with pictures that he might like. I thought I'd share it here, in part because we are bound to lose the piece of paper she gave us. So, the list, with some comments:
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey. We have some of these already. A friend of mine called them masterpieces of potty-humor. Follows two rambunctious boys through space-time and superheroics.
Something Queer... by Elizabeth Levy. Less than 50 pages each. Mystery series with lots of pictures. These look to be out of print but available used from Amazon.
Pinky and Rex by James Howe. Adventures of two good friends, a boy who loves the color pink and a girl named Rex.
Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant. We love Rylant's Poppleton series (illustrated by family favorite Mark Teague), and also like Henry and Mudge. This is a series about 3 nine year old cousins who live together with an aunt and have various projects.
Meg Mackintosh by Lucinda Landon. Meg writes down clues in her notebook and readers follow along to solve the mystery. B/W drawings of Meg's notebook.
Dorrie by Patricia Coombs. A young witch may not do things right, but can still manage to help adult witches solve their problems. This one you probably want to go to the library for; Amazon's got some used copies but they look to be priced as collector's items.
As we read these books, I'll write up reviews.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Yes, we bought tickets to visit Amy and John and Lucia in Santiago in December. It'll be our first Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere. I look forward to flushing the toilet and watching it spin down counterclockwise.
If anyone has any suggestions of places we should see, books we should read, food we should eat, etc. while or before we're there, please let me know.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
"I said that if Osama bin Laden was located in Pakistan, I would send troops in to kill him whether or not we had permission from the Pakistani leaders. Anyone who stops to ask permission before trying to kill or capture bin Laden is not suited to be president."
Bam! Take the high ground! Refocus the war on terror! Make McCain look like a wuss and goad him into saying something outrageous!
Oh well, next time.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
James Coobler, a retiree living in central Florida, says he's undecided.
"Obama, I can't read. I think he tells you what you want to hear," Coobler said. "John McCain seems to be much more of a quiet person but is straightforward as far as what he says."
So, let's break this down, Mr Coobler. Obama "tells you what you want to hear," in other words, Obama is saying things you agree with. Whereas "McCain... is straightforward," presumably because he is so blunt about saying how we need to hunker down and win in Iraq; in other words, McCain is telling things you don't agree with.
Here's a hint: vote for the guy who says things you agree with.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
It was at a gym (the Little Gym in West Roxbury).
The kids had pizza, lemonade...
Afterward, we took a walk around Jamaica Pond with Alex, Tom, Amelia and Lydia.
Then we came home and Julie found a beautiful tomato in our garden. She insisted I photograph it...
...as she threw it...
...again and again...
..until I got a shot of just tomato and sky.
It was a nice day.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
If you're dorky enough to care about both subjects, it's amusing.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
When I checked a few months ago, there was only a shot from the traffic light down the hill, but now there's a picture of our house. Looks like it was taken on a Tuesday evening this summer (some people had not come back from work to pick up their trash cans on our street).
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
One of our favorite family tourist sites in Toronto is Ontario Place. Among the attractions is the Atom Blaster, where various pneumatic guns and cannons fire foam balls all over the place, not unlike the basement of that children's department store in Beijing.
This is a giant habitrail for children. Austin and Mari went through this thing a dozen times each. Mari even climbed up that bit on the left, went across the tube bridge and down the slide by herself. (We had sort of lost track of her for a while until she came out that slide.)
We had a nice dinner at the Mill Street Brew Pub and Julie said she had the best coffee ever at Balzac's Coffee:
Monday, September 15, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
"Have you ever met a foreign head of state?"
"I have not, and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you."
It's good of ABCNews to provide an article on the fact that she's wrong, going back as far as Walter Mondale.
I don't know about Gerald Ford, but I suspect that this means the last VP who didn't have this sort of foreign experience was Spiro Agnew, governor of a small state for two years when he was elected. Of course, Agnew was forced to resign the vice presidency while under investigation of criminal charges.
Great company, Sarah!
Barack Obama proposed laws that would teach our kids how to avoid sexual predators. John McCain calls this sex education for kindergarten because McCain thinks you're stupid.
Sarah Palin asked for hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks last year; it's a matter of public record. John McCain says she never asked for earmarks as governor because John McCain thinks you're stupid.
Obama and Biden don't think you're stupid. That's why they're talking about specific economic plans, that's why they have a plan to get out of Iraq, etc. etc.
He is lying to America and he needs to be called on it in a way that reveals how his lies betray a contempt for ordinary Americans.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
It's descriptive, not prescriptive, and is sort of a survey of psych experiments that deal with perceived happiness, remembered happiness and predicted happiness. What you want to do with this information is up to you.
The book is well written and very colloquial, especially considering the number of footnotes there are. Here are some of my favorite "bits" from the book:
We tend to rationalize misfortune. This only works, though, if our misfortune is bad enough (p. 181). For example, if I stub my toe, I'll be annoyed. If I get in a car accident, I'll be grateful for having survived. Gilbert cites data on people with cancer who can always find people who are in worse situations than themselves and thus tend to rate themselves happier than people who are not sick at all.Lots of interesting experiments here, and worth reading.
No one likes to think of themselves as normal. The most extreme stats he cites are that 90% of motorists consider themselves better-than-average drivers and 94% of college professors consider themselves to be better-than-average teachers (p. 229). At those rates, how bad a teacher do you have to be to think you're worse than average?
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Not a lot of good news for people who like due diligence, hate eminent domain and generally prefer competence.
Friday, September 05, 2008
The content was terrible, and the performance was worse. He acknowledged the housing crisis by highlighting a couple in Michigan who lost their... "real estate investments." Really? Their investments? That's a shame.
Wait, let me back up a bit. That biographical film was horrible. All those shots of WWII made me think McCain was older than he is. The hammy joke where the punchline is "Mama's boy" was the worst, and fell so flat. The inserted shots of black folks--what's up with that? Are there no photos of John McCain shaking the hands of a black person? Just three random insertions of clips of black people, seemingly culled from stock footage. The music was a weird pastiche of the Theme from Dallas, the editing was choppy (especially the audio and video disconnect). The narration was terrible.
Then we got Fred Thompson's intoned introduction which sounded like he was reading it live for the first time.
The speech was poorly written. Aside from the fact that I disagree with the policies, the rhythms of the speech were choppy. When he got to the litany of differences with Democrats, he cited his own position, and then the Democrats, leading the ExCel Center to grow with "Boos!" Then he ripped into his own party, without really acknowledging his own part in the culture of "Warshington." Take a little responsibility, John.
And then the way McCain gave the speech made me cringe, the way I do whenever I see a public speaker blow the delivery. Doesn't matter if it's in a classroom, a wedding toast or a Powerpoint presentation, it drives me crazy. He swallowed the ends of sentences, and misspoke a number of times, correcting himself after. He let the crowd control him, rather than control the crowd. As the wave of applause built as he said, "Governor Sarah..." he should have shouted her last name "PALIN!" into the crescendo, but instead backed off, let the applause die down and then spoke her full name when he could hear himself again. It was like he was an old person talking on a speaker phone. "I'm ready to fight for... Are you still there? Can you hear me?... Okay, let me start again..."
The backgrounds were ugly and reflected blue and green light on his face. He walked and waved his arms stiffly, like he had just been reanimated last week. And that terrible smile of his kept reminding me of someone and it wasn't until later that I realized who it was.
I thought Palin did a great job for what her speech was and McCain was terrible.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Meanwhile, I found this great set of photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shyeyes/sets/72157606977050966/
that may be of interest to anyone who cares about Austin and Mari.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Well, this is the kind of thing you would hear:
"I saw regular volleyball on Sunday afternoon. It was pretty awesome."
"Don't hit it so close to Walsh! She's a wall!"
"Walsh has no fat on her body; she has abs like Austin's."
"Hey, Walsh and May have been together since 2000, like us! Happy Anniversary!"
Monday, August 18, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Our friends Elizabeth and Toby live "off the grid"--no wires lead onto their property.
It's hard work, but there's plenty to say for the way they live.
Mari and cousin Lucia in VT.
Austin and I visited the Revere Beach sand sculpture competition. Yes, that's a hole through that galactic sculpture.
Austin and I were inspired.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
-What does that mean?
-He draws pictures in my head.
-Like if I say, Shark, he draws one in your head?
-Do your eyes have to be closed?
Silence as I drove.
-He also talks, but no one can hear him.
-No one can hear him? Not even you?
-No. Well, sometimes when he talks I can hear him.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
The book is sort of a popular textbook on neuroscience and there are some interesting historic and scientific anecdotes in the book but overall the tone is really odd. On the one hand, there's a really poppy voice like a sidebar on marijuana studies ending with the point that more studies are necessary. "Volunteers?" they ask. On the other hand, there's serious science about neurotransmitters, etc. The transition between these two voices tended to make me zone out before I got back on track.
It's also a bit odd in that the chapters are really short. I mean like 5 pages is maybe the longest one, and that includes page long sidebars. Because of this, none of the ideas feels fully fleshed out and there isn't an argument that is carried through the book.
Okay, but those fascinating anecdotes! Here're my favorites:
p. 4: Although the left and right brain are usually divided as the logical/linguistic left side versus the artistic right side, that's not really a good distinction. The left side requires logic so badly that it will make up theories to fit the facts. The right side is more grounded in spatial perception, touch and visual-motor activities; it's the right side that prefers "Just the facts."
p. 18: Remember The Matrix? How the machines used human brains as a source of power? The brain uses only 12 watts of power, less than the light in your fridge.
p. 56: There really are people who sneeze when they see a bright light. (Also: certain men will sneeze during orgasm). This is because of crossed wires in the brainstem, a really mixed up region of the brain that seems to have been jury rigged into various functions over the course of evolution. The authors note, "the brainstem is about as good an argument against intelligent disign as one could ever hope to find in nature."
p. 52: How to better hear your cell phone in a loud room: Turns out your brain is good at distinguishing noises from left and right. So, instead of holding your phone to your right ear and sticking your finger in your left ear, what you should do is use your left hand to cover the mouthpiece of the phone. That way the phone will not pick up and retransmit the local room noise into the earpiece and your brain can sort out a clearer phone signal on the left from the room noise on the right.
Monday, August 04, 2008
All proceeds benefit the Allens Pond Sanctuary run by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. So you support a great environmental cause even as you get to dream about dinner.
The race is THIS Saturday, so enter soon!
Here's the information on how to enter the race:
Hello friends and family,
I'm appealing to you to help us (me!) out here at the Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary… and take a chance at a great prize in the process!
Those of you who know me well know that I make my livelihood directing activities at this green & sandy spot on earth. It’s grown a bit since I started and now it’s about more than my meager efforts. One of the ways we fund our ecological management and education outreach is through the Allens Pond Duck Derby: a race of rubber ducks that provides the “owner” of the winning duck with a trip of a lifetime: ANYWHERE in the WORLD including airfare, two nights’ stay, and dinner – for TWO!
Last year our fun little event gave 1000 people a lot of excitement and one couple a trip to NEW ZEALAND. We had 3700 ducks in the race. With this year’s race coming up on SATURDAY we only have just over 2000 ducks so far, entered by only 600 people! One of them is going to win the Grand Prize and another 39 will win other great prizes. With odds this great don’t you want to get in on it?!
I’m asking you to help me out by spreading the word about this in the hopes that we can EXCEED last year’s volume of ducks and raise an equally vital sum of money ($30,000 last year) for the Sanctuary. Because higher costs of living affects us too, our budget depends on a successful race!
It's REALLY EASY to adopt: just go on line to our site, then follow the links:
You can pay either via credit card ON-LINE or (if you're local) you can download the printable form and DROP it OFF at designated spots in Dartmouth by 1pm Friday, and anytime at the Sanctuary up til 12:30pm on Saturday, Aug 9. It's too late to mail it at this point.
Not only is this our big fund raiser, it’s also a fun event for the whole community. As usual we have many great exhibits, games, and crafts, plus great BBQ food again ($5) in the Sanctuary's field across from the Bayside Restaurant from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. We’re also hosting a SILENT AUCTION of local art, produce, plus some great treats from outdoor outfitters, as well as a live PLANT AUCTION. Come enjoy it if you can. The Duck Derby race itself will take place around 1pm on August 9th, 2008.
Thanks so much for your love & friendship. And for your support of the Duck Derby!
Gina Purtell, Director
Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary
Massachusetts Audubon Society
1280 Horseneck Road
Westport, MA 02790
Phone: (508) 636-2437
Fax/alt: (508) 636-0272
Adopt a duck and join the race!
The 5th Annual Allens Pond Duck Derby takes place Sat. Aug 9 from 12-3 pm. Join the fun on race day or support Allens Pond from afar. Go to www.massaudubon.org/allenspond to download an adoption form.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Julie wasn't home; I was tired, I said, Okay.
Austin found his goodie bag and was deciding between peanut and regular M&Ms. Mari was going nuts looking for her goodie bag, and when we found it, there were only a few toys in it and no candy.
"I want candy!" she said.
"Sorry, you must have eaten all of yours," I said. We all knew that at some point this weekend she had sneaked candy behind the couch for a secret pig out.
So she had to watch as Austin ate M&Ms. He gave me one and Mari begged him and finally he gave her one.
When he was done, he threw the wrapper away and said, "Thanks, Mari."
"Why are you thanking Mari for?" I asked him.
"She gave me that package of M&Ms from her goodie bag," he said.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
From watching him read, and hearing him guess at words he doesn't know, I've come to appreciate how much reading is from recognizing whole words (or patterns) versus sounding out letters. There's a limited number of English words that are easy to sound out anyway. For instance, we read a book about a kid named Marvin who's family was moving. Austin would guess at any word with "M" and "V" in it, not always correctly. But it revealed how his mind is figuring things out.
I found a great book from the library recently by Adam Rex called Pssst!. It's about a girl who visits a zoo and the animals who request favors of her. Each interaction is very cute, with memorable dialogue (the kids can quote big chunks) and even the fairly uneventful pages of the girl walking to the next exhibit are filled with lots of background jokes, puns, and beautiful art. Recommended (also, available for a penny Used on Amazon).
Anyway, the connection to these two facts is that the other day Austin told me he wanted to read "Pissed."
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
And then came my friend Liz, ethnomusicologist and all around cool person, with this link to songs about Barack Obama.
I think my favorite is the Miguel Orozco just because the chorus is catchy:
Como Se Dice…Como Se llama?I don't even know what it means, but it sounds good and it rhymes.
Monday, May 19, 2008
I'm saddened to report that I am more sympathetic to the second. I think that's all I'll say about it.