Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Find It: Laundry

It's been a while since I posted a Find It [1], but after taking this photo, I just couldn't resist. Lillian is hiding in this pile of clothes. Can you find her?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Movie Review: Twilight (with RiffTrax)

Twilight was one of those movies that I couldn't bring myself to watch in its original state. I needed to be shielded from its direct effects. So I borrowed the RiffTrax [1] treatment from an undergraduate in my lab. It was kind of hard to get it synced up with the movie—and this was only confounded by the fact that we recorded the movie off television and it had commercial breaks, so we frequently had to re-sync. I recommend you use VLC Media Player [2] because it has the ability to speed up or slow down playback, thus making it easier to keep the commentary on track.

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (3D)

I can still remember the thrill I felt when The Phantom Menace first came out. By that time I had started collecting Star Wars action figures, so not only did this film represent a return to a beloved film franchise that had been on hiatus for nearly 16 years and an opportunity to see how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, but also a pool of new characters and creatures to inspire new action figures. Some of my friends saw it before I did and they raved about certain parts of the movie (the pod race, the fight with Darth Maul, etc.) Now that it was being re-released (and since I missed seeing Avatar in 3D [1]), I decided to make it my first feature film to see in 3D.[2] That being said, this review will be more of a review of the 3D conversion than it is of the actual film.

Movie Review: Avatar

Even though its 3D effects were a major part of its appeal, I didn't get around to seeing Avatar [1] in the movie theater, so I missed out on the 3D experience. I didn't watch Avatar until it was out on DVD. Leann and I went over to her sister's house and we watched it with them. I fell dozed off a couple times. So I can't really say I saw it all the way through until Leann recorded it off DirecTV and we watched it together. The film is basically the tale of a man who is seduced by 'noble savages' [2] to the point that he turns on his former friends. This has been done several times before, including Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai, and particularly Disney's Pocahontas.[3] There are only two things that really make this film different: the aforementioned 3D aspect and the fact that it's done in a science fiction setting. Avatar takes place on a fictional moon, called Pandora, which orbits around the fictional gas giant planet, Polyphemos (which looks like they just took images of Jupiter and colored them blue—right down to the giant red—er, blue—spot). Besides being set on a moon several light years away, Avatar touches on other science fiction themes, including mind uploading (like in the novels Neuromancer and Permutation City), a sentient planet (like in the Polish novel Solaris), etc.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

That Doesn't Go There!

In my ongoing effort to teach Lilli to recognize herself in the mirror [1], I've been helping her to notice when something is on my face that doesn't belong there. The idea behind this is that if she can recognize when something is out of place on my face, then she'll start to recognize when something is out of place on her reflection's face. And hopefully not long after that she'll realize that that means there's something on her face.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fine Motor Skills

Lately Lillian has been working on her fine motor skills. Specifically on using her fingers to pick things up or manipulate things rather than using her entire fist. Sometimes she gets a really intense look on her face when she's trying to focus on what she's doing.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Sometimes Lillian gets bored with her toys so we occasionally introduce something new to keep her interest. A little while ago we gave her an empty Sprite bottle. To show her that it was a fun toy, we blew on the end when we introduced it to her. She really liked the idea and pretty soon she started trying to blow on it herself.

Found Treasures VI: Delivery

Last summer I posted several items that I re-discovered on old floppy disks.[1] I had more things to share, but I was interrupted by Lillian's premature arrival and subsequent stay in the NICU.[2] This story is a friendly jab at one of my English teachers from high school, Mr. Yates. By this time I had toilet-papered his house.[3] He retaliated by having an "anonymous" pot of flowers delivered to the classroom for me. It was accompanied by an ill-composed, sappy note which Mr. Yates proceeded to read aloud to the class, hoping it would embarrass me. (It didn't really.) I wrote this story to let him know I saw through his ruse.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

πku II

Last year [1], in honor of Pi Day, I wrote several πkus. One of them consisted of reciting the numbers of π and parsing the syllables per line according to π. But I only went out five lines, per the tradition of composing πku. This year I wanted to see how far I could go before I reached a line where the names of the numbers wouldn't fit with the number of allowed syllables. Most of the numbers have one syllable names. The exceptions are seven and zero. I could've fudged things and made seven a one-syllable word (sev'n) and replaced zero with oh (since that's how most of us say it), but then the poem would technically go on forever. Sev'n was never really an option, but I had a hard time making up my mind about oh. So I went with both.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Am Saturn

In Greek mythology there is an account of the Titan Cronus (Κρόνος, "the cutter"), who overthrew his parents, Gaia, (Γαῖα, "earth") and Uranus (Οὐρανός, "sky"), and imprisoned them. He then ruled during the Golden Age of the world with his wife (and sister) Rhea (Ῥέα, "ground"). He sired six children, Hestia (Ἑστία, "hearth"), Hades (ᾍδης, "the unseen"), Demeter (Δημήτηρ, "earth mother"), Poseidon (Ποσειδῶν, "earth lord"), Hera (Ἥρα, "season"), and Zeus (Ζεύς, "sky god").[1] Angered by their son's betrayal, Gaia and Uranus prophesied that Cronus, too, would be overthrown by his own sons. So, to prevent this, as each of his children was born, he devoured them.[2] The Romans later adopted this myth, though their name for Cronus was Saturn and their name for Zeus was Jupiter. This myth has since spawned two rather gruesome paintings [3] of the Titan engaged in 'autonepiophagy'.[4] Why do I mention all this? Simply to establish that there is a historical precedent for fathers eating their babies.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Product Review: oroblanco

One of our neighbors, who participates in a program called Bountiful Baskets. It is a co-op for providing bread and produce at cheap prices.[1] Sometimes the share with us things from their basket. One of the fruits they've shared with us was called an oroblanco. The name is Spanish for "white gold". It's a cross between a pomelo (Citrus maxima Merr.) and a grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi Macfad. [2]). It's smaller than both, but it retains the thick rind and green skin of the pomelo.

Product Review: Athenos Feta Cheese

My first memory of feta cheese is hearing about a lasagna made with feta on the comedy The Singles Ward.[1] However, I suspect that I'd had contact with it long before then. The name of the cheese has a circuitous history. It was originally made in Crete and was called πρόσφατος (prósphatos) which means "recent" or "fresh". The cheese was introduced to Italy, where it was called fetta, the Italian word for "sliced". This was then transliterated back into Greek, where we get the name φέτα (pheta), which eventually became the English feta.[2] Many similar varieties of cheese are produced throughout the eastern Mediterranean and around the Black Sea.[3]

Product Review: cacahuates japoneses

The name cacahuates japoneses means, in Spanish, "Japanese peanuts". So, when I had these in México as an LDS missionary [1], I thought that these were either a variety of peanut that was developed in Japan or that it was a peanut species that was native to Japan. Not so. They are, in fact, just regular old peanuts (Arachis hypogaea L.) coated with a soy-flavored shell. They were invented in México by a Japanese man, named Yoshigei Nakatani, in 1945.[2] The name refers to the ethnicity of their inventor, but the snack itself is Mexican.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Playing Catch

Two weeks ago I tried playing catch with Lillian. I sat her down, propped up against the couch (so she couldn't fall backwards) and put my feet on either side of her (so she couldn't tip over sideways). I rolled her the ball and she tried to roll it back (usually unsuccesfully). But she seemed to get the idea. I tried to take a video but by that point she was bored with the game and started playing with my shoelaces. Other times I tried to take a video but Lilli was too distracted by the camera to keep playing. Last week my mother-in-law came up to visit and I was able to enlist her help in getting some videos.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hand Spiders

I can remember doing hand spiders with babies at church before I even got out of Primary.[1][2] They're amazing things. They work across language and culture barriers. They're safe and fun for children of all ages. They're versatile: children can be tickled by them, try to find them when they hide, smash them if they get within reach, grab them and try to eat them, watch them run around, etc. At first I don't think they realize that it's just my hand, but they still seem to know that I'm somehow responsible for everything the hand spider does. Last week I introduced Lillian to hand spiders.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Walking (With Help)

Babies are actually born with the ability to walk their legs. But they quickly "lose" this ability as they gain weight because their legs aren't strong enough. So when you hold them up all they can do is stand in place, or do squats. However, I say "lose" in quotes because if you hold a baby in water, the buoyancy from the water offsets their weight and they can still walk. As they get older they eventually gain enough muscle to restore their ability to walk outside of the water. Lilli reached that point a while ago (about the same time she could stand up against something without support [1]). I've been slow about capturing it on video, since I'm usually not around when Leann helps her walk. But now I have one.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Making Faces

This Sunday we were listening to Elder Quentin L. Cook's CES Fireside (which can be heard in the background of the video [1]) and eating our dinner. We gave Lillian some mashed potatoes which she took quite a liking too. A while after she was done, she scrunched up her face and started breathing quickly through her nostrils. I did it back to her, which startled her, at first. But then she got excited and started doing it repeatedly. It was hilarious.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Night Wind

One night, a little over a week ago, we had some strong wind that was blowing most of the night. It rattled the windows in the bedroom and woke Lilli up several times. One of the times I got up to calm her down I considered the noise made by the wind and how that can be terrifying for a little child. I wrote down my thoughts in freeform poetry [1] in order to capture their pure, raw essence. The first stanza is about the wind itself while the second is about the child's reaction to it (i.e., the reactions I had as a child or that I can imagine a child having).

Friday, March 2, 2012

Little Puppy

I've mentioned previously that sometimes Lillian puts things (like socks) in her mouth and then lets go with her hands. When she does this, we think she looks like a little puppy.[1] Well, now she's started doing that and going up on all fours [2], which only bolsters the comparison. All we need, now, to make the illusion complete is to teach her to bark.