Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Watching Beach Volleyball with the Krongs

You're probably wondering, what would it be like to watch beach volleyball with the Krongs?

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


Too good to ignore: this link to the Immodium website will show you where the nearest public bathrooms are.

I had the idea of making a map of Harvard Square bathrooms once. That was so Web 0.0

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Overdue pictures

With John, Amy and Lucia in Vt.

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.

Sandy superheroes.

Austin and I were inspired.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Welcome to His Brain

Today Austin told me that he has a draw-er [one who draws] in his head.

-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

Book Review: Welcome To Your Brain

Welcome To Your Brain by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang seemed like the kind of book I would love. Unfortunately, I didn't.

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

Win dinner for two--anywhere in the world

Our friend Gina has the best promotion I've ever heard of. Adopt a rubber duck, they will race the ducks and the first 40 ducks win a prize. Grand prize is dinner for 2 anywhere in the world. Seriously. They have an arrangement with a travel agent. Previous winners have gone to New Zealand and India.

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:

www.massaudubon.org/allenspond. PLEASE pass the word to your friends, family, colleagues, etc. The more ducks in the race, the better we can manage these beautiful 1000 acres and the wildlife that use them.

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
Email: gpurtell@massaudubon.org
Phone: (508) 636-2437
Fax/alt: (508) 636-0272
Website: www.massaudubon.org

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.