Friday, July 15, 2016


Sometimes when I am in church listening to friends tell about their road trips to Utah, inside I have this conversation with myself.  I tell myself that I am glad I am not driving all that way with my family, that I would go insane driving that long and that it can't be much fun. Then, the other part of me argues that it is a whole lot cheaper than flying that far and that we would rather have that money for other things.  That and flying is no easy feat either with 5 kids.  Someone is always sick, flights are delayed or cancelled, and then we have to rent a car.  In the end it is a draw.  

I think as the kids get bigger and as long as I am able to take two weeks for vacation, painful as it is, driving out west for vacation is going to be part of our summer tradition.  It makes sense, plus it isn't as bad as I fear always.  It is a long drive, and there are fights in the car.  Kids get bored and since everyone has to be buckled (locked in place) people get restless.  Including me. 

Over all it was a nice break.  We went to Fountain Green to visit the Cooks, then went to Provo to visit with Leila's family and go to Neil's wedding.  I never went to Bridal Veil falls as a student, somehow there was always something that I had to do and getting off campus or out of the basement where the lab was seemed almost impossible.  

Southern Utah could be a set for movies on Mars.  The rocks are beautiful, but man I wouldn't want to have to walk across that wasteland.

Fountain Green is so different from Provo and the Valley just an hour away.  The town is tiny and Ag is the dominant industry.  Kids walk their sheep in the evenings to get ready for Lamb Days.  And the Cooks are there so it is our home away from home. 

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Thinking of an animal

The thinking of an animal guessing game just got harder as Becca includes imaginary animals and Pokemon. 

Friday, July 08, 2016

Cyborg swimming robots

Between the police shootings, continued desparate circumstances for refugees across the world, hundreds killed in terrorist bombings and attacks in Iraq,Turkey, and Miami, and then the appalling sniper attacks on cops protecting the black lives matter protesters, there isn't a lot of good news.
Somehow, this BBC story of a tiny swimming robot run by heart cells seems a welcome distraction.

One more photo of Grandma Shirley

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Grandma Shirley

This is how I remember my grandma from my childhood. 

  1. Going to Mexico city together
  2. Staying at Grandma's during the summer as a kid.
  3. Tuna fish sandwiches and icecream
  4. Staying at Sandra's with Bob
  5. Talking about science and ideas with her at the table
  6. Books in her office - sci fi and the Nancy Drew Hardy Boys
  7. Her riding to our house as little kids on her motorcycle with Grandpa
  8. Building nesting boxes with Grandma in Indiana 
  9. Wood turning 
  10. Her showing us as kids that she could take her dentures out
  11. Getting sick at her house
  12. The chickens with the inside out feathers
  13. Black walnuts
  14. Talking to her about my Dad after he died.
  15. Her working on woodworking in the workshop
  16. Using potatoes to attract nematodes in her garden
  17. Going with her on the lawnmower and then watching her bludgeon to death a gopher with a shovel. 
  18. Her in her coat and hat getting irritated people thought she was a little old man
  19. Eating out with Bob and Grandma
  20. Bob in the workshop
  21. Bob and grandma talking to Leila when I first brought her home
  22. Mom and Grandma's excursions 
  23. At my Dad's funeral
  24. The big 90th birthday bash.  
  25. All of the help she gave us when we first came to Boise. 
  26. When Colleen was born while she was visiting in Indiana
  27. Stories about her childhood
  28. Gardening 
  29. MR2
  30. waking up while driving to Nampa as a child in the car and watching the red headlights in front of us working their way up and down the hills along the highway.  Seeing the city stretched out ahead of us like a glowing amoeba along the hill.  
  31. The old house with the porch 
  32. Playing tag with cousins in the yard after Grandpas funeral
  33. Sandra's trailer and her dog with mismatched eyes. 
  34. That time I got sick while staying at her house and she helped me clean up. 
  35. That card game with the board she made for all of us.
  36. Playing scrabble and losing by 80 or 90 points

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Apps may be the savior of public transportation

I can't think of many things that is as intimidating as taking the bus or subway in a strange town. Especially a large city. Buses may seem infrequent and routes bizarre and out of your planned path. I think many people avoid public transportation because it is inconvenient and requires a foreknowledge of routes and timetables. 

Looking at my commute to work I mentioned to a colleague that I was considering biking to work instead of driving or taking the bus on days with bad weather. I have a few pounds around the middle I need to work off after almost a year of back and forth to STL, hotel rooms, and restaurant food. I also feel nostalgic about riding to campus as a grad student. Monsanto in chesterfield is so big that it looks and feels like a college campus. My coworker is French and he scoffed that as a white American I would take the bus or bike instead of driving. 

That was a challenge, so when I flew to STL as part of a trip to MD on Thursday I decided I would not rent a car or take a taxi or an uber (My colleagues all use this as a noun, which shows how ubiquitous Uber has become, I bet it or something like it will eliminate the traditional taxi) - all costing about 25-35 dollars for the day. I decided I would take the bus. The bus said it would take over an hour to get to campus, but driving was estimated at 30 minutes.  Google estimates by bike were only 1.5 hours. I was by far the minority on the bus and the Metrolink train.  Almost all riders were black, some Hispanic.  

There is a metro train that runs to the airport. It is on the back side of the parking garage and obviously little used. The train comes every few minutes. The app told me I would have to wait until 8, but then a train came and Google somehow knew it and updated the times.  This is a transformative tech if we take advantage of it. I followed the revised instructions and got to Chesterfield in just under an hour.  Other riders also were using google maps to check to see if buses or trains were delayed or ahead of schedule.  I think like Uber has updated Taxi service by making it possible to easily check on your phone and get a ride, apps around public transportation could really help break down barriers about using public transportation.  

So the kids and I will be using public transport to go downtown St. Louis.  Nothing is more aggravating than getting stuck in traffic with a minivan full of whiny kids and then trying to find parking at the zoo. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

One week left in Huxley

It feels very unreal that a week from today we are moving. I will miss Huxley terribly I am afraid. No place has felt so much like home. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Des Moines Museum

The Des Moines Art Center is an eclectic mix of masterpieces and modern art. It has a Monet and Andy Warhol's and a performance art video of someone underwater playing in slow motion in a pitch black room. I am embarrassed to say that I have only been three times in seven years.  Since we are moving to St Louis I want to hit some of my favorite, but neglected places. 

This last few months has been so overwhelming that I have not updated the blog. That and I really didn't want to move and writing about it meant somehow that I needed to be positive about it. 
Kate loved the modern art, while it bored Aleah to eye rolling and impatience. Kate drew careful drawings of her favorites.  
Kate really had a good eye for the subtlety in some of the more abstract art. This painting had a section below the concentric circles where the paint had been layered in the exact shape Kate sketched and then painted over? in the same base colors.  It isn't clear in the photo, but the textured area is like a distorted reflection of the rising concentric circles.  Why?  I don't know.  What does it mean?  I have no idea, but somehow it enhances the painting. 
I think more abstract and modern art is enhanced by display in museum conditions. Space and lighting help make them feel like art. 
I thought this one though was really interesting. By this time Aleah was ready to move on to the art that "looks like something."   
There was a miniature of this sculpture in the museum and so we visited the full size sculpture in the park, where there was an Asian cultural festival. This was Aleah's element. Food, people, dancing.