Saturday, October 26, 2013

Morning Fog

Fog is one of my favorite weather patterns. Getting lost in it doesn't bother me at all (driving in it doesn't bother me terribly, either [1]). I like how it dampens sound, making everything seem serene and peaceful (I like the same thing about snowfall). A week after Lincoln was born [2], when we all woke up it was foggy outside. I took Lilli for little walk around our apartment complex and took some pictures. Since I don't really have any comments to give about the pictures, I'm also sharing a poem that I wrote in college about fog.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Little Singer

Lilli has enjoyed music for a long time, now. When we still lived in Provo she became obsessed with "Call Me Maybe" (in particular the version by the US Olympic swimming team [1]). Another example: she hates riding in the car, but she'll tolerate it if we let her listen to a Disney soundtrack (her current favorite is The Little Mermaid). However, it wasn't until recently that she's started memorizing lyrics and singing them herself. It started with The Alphabet Song [2] and has been slowly expanding ever since. Here are some of the other children's songs she's learned:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

See, I Told You So

One of the small conflicts Leann and I had early in our marriage was due to the fact that she incessantly locks the front door. Several times she locked me out when I'd only stepped out for a moment, such as to take out the trash. I found this behavior to be excessive—especially on the night that she manage to lock us both out. We were both in our pajamas. I was forced to go to a neighbor's house and ask to use their phone to call a locksmith.[1] Leann learned this behavior (obsessively locking the front door) from her mother. Even though they live far out in the country she locks the door because she's afraid of weirdos 'out there'. All of that gave me the idea for this story.

NOTE: I've annotated this story, but I recommend you read it all the way through before reading the notes.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hallowe'en Bulwer-Lyttons I

I've previously described the concept behind the Bulwer-Lytton contest [1], but I'll briefly refresh you on the main points. The gist of it is to write the worst possible opening line for a novel. There is a formal contest held every year by the English Department of San José State University [2], but my friends of the former BYU 38th Ward Book Club and I like to hold an informal one every year for Hallowe'en (as part of what we call The Kingdom of Horror). What follows are the worst first lines I could come up with in the inaugural year of the Hallwe'en Bulwer-Lytton (2011). I am only posting my own creations here; however, if you just can't get enough of bad opening lines, you can also read those of my friends.[3] (Warning: Some are not for the faint in heart.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mayan Hieroglyphs VI

It's been a few years, now, since I last drew Mayan hieroglyphs [1], but now that we have a fourth member of our family [2] it's time to draw another. A quick glance at the archives will show that my posting frequency has been in decline. So even though Lincoln was born three weeks ago, it's taken me a while to actually post about it. I finished the drawing for this post several days ago, but I'm just now posting the description.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Henry Villas Zoo

When my sisters Melissa and Ashley were visiting a few weeks ago (when Lincoln was born [1]), we tried to go visit the Olbrich Botanical Gardens and Bolz Conservatory.[2] The website said the grounds were open until 8 PM, so we went around 4:30 PM. When we got there, it looked like it was closed. Unbeknownst to us they had closed early because of a severe storm advisory. But not all of the gates were closed, so we found a way in. We'd only been wandering around the gardens for a few minutes when it began to rain. So we slowly began to make our way back to the car. Then it began to pour. We were all soaked, including Lilli (but she didn't mind because I caught a toad and let her hold it [3]). I thought I could drive around Lake Monona and reach the hospital, but I got lost. We didn't get there until dinner time, so we stopped and bought some pizza from Pizza Hut. Needless to say, the visit to the botanical gardens was a bust: we didn't have time to see very many of the plants or take any pictures. So the next day we went to Madison's Henry Villas Zoo.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Graphical Web Page Representation

Today I stumbled onto this website: It runs an applet (so you must have Java installed) that analyzes the html code of any website you submit (must start with http://) and creates a representative graphical output. The result is pretty neat. Below I'll show you some of the maps I've created using this website.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Unexpected Delivery II

On the last day of my trip to Norwich, England [1], I was blithely sitting in the library of the John Innes Centre doing some DNA sequence analysis when my boss, the director of the Engineering Nitrogen Symbiosis for Africa project [2], and a postdoc who has a lot of managerial responsibilites on the ENSA project all came running up to me to tell me that Leann had gone into labor. (Leann was quick to point out that I appear to have a habit of being incommunicado when she goes into labor—when she went into labor with Lilli she tried to send my then-boss, Dr. Joel Griffitts, to find me because I wasn't answering my phone.) This was something of a surprise since she wasn't due for another four weeks (but it wasn't a complete surprise since Lilli was eight weeks early [3]). When I got on the plane to fly out of Norwich, Leann still hadn't delivered, but by the time I'd landed in Detroit our son, Lincoln had already been born. (My plane was somewhere over the English Channel when it happened.[4]) So, I wasn't there. But my sister Ashley was, and my sister Melissa, who was also visiting, watched Lilli. What follows is Leann's version of the events (transcribed partially by her mother and partially by me).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Airline Movie Reviews

This post consists of reviews of the movies I watched during my trans-Atlantic flights on my recent trip to Norwich, England.[1] And, since I have your attention, I'll throw in a few others, including books I read on the flight/during layovers, and a few other things I've read or watched recently. First up is Prometheus, a sort of prequel to the Alien series of movies. Next up is a new film rendition of The Great Gatsby. Then I review Argo, a film based on the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. After that is Oblivion, a post-apocalyptic film where humans have abandoned the Earth and are harvesting its oceans so they can survive off-planet. The fifth movie I watched on my flights was Rango, but I've already reviewed that.[2] Since I've been back I've also watched Iron Man 3. During the flight I finished three books. The first was The Wind Whales of Ishmael, which imagines that the narrator of Moby Dick accidentally travels millions of years into the future. Then I read one of Shakespeare's lesser-known plays, King John. Finally, I read Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is about a mysterious artifact that is discovered on Pluto. After that I discuss an English cookie (they call it a biscuit), Coronet Bourbon Creams, and a new brand of rolled tortilla chips, Quitos.

Product Review: Gatorade: Limón Pepino

While riding a bus from Minneapolis back to Madison after the 22nd North American Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation Conference [1], we stopped at a remote gas station somewhere between the two cities. I was feeling rather thirsty, so I was browsing the drink selection when I spotted this drink. I was intrigued because I'd had agua de pepino ("cucumber water") when I was serving as an LDS missionary in México [2], and had enjoyed it. So I gave this one a chance.