4.29.2011

The Buzz of the day

So if you ever watch or read the news, you know that the Royal Wedding and the following activities are happening today. I believe the media has been doing a countdown for the event for over two weeks now. Every morning as I jog, the news shows announce the countdown, "9 more days 'til the Royal Wedding." I was getting quite bored with it all and Jess and I joked yesterday, "Can't wait for the wedding tomorrow!"

Well, the wedding ceremony happened this morning (London is 5 hours ahead of us), and when Jess got back from his workout, and I was slowly waking up, he sarcastically exclaimed, "You missed the wedding!" You see, he was up around 7ish and got to view some of it LIVE as he jogged. To my surprise, I was actually a little bummed. I put on my running shoes and headed downstairs to run.

But have no fear! It just so happened that the media was preparing for the couples' first public kiss while I jogged. In fact, they had a countdown for it too, "5 more minutes until the kiss. How long do you think will it be? My bet is on 1 to 2 seconds. Whose head will be more in the front? Will we be able to see Kate's diamond earrings?" I was getting bored again. But as soon as the couple came out in all of their splendor, the magical magic of the wedding swooped me up and there I was, on my second mile, really feeling like something great was happening (and loving that the morning news was uplifting). There is something fantastical about it all, really. And then, as is tradition, some WWII RAF Spitfire and Hurricane planes did a fly by over the palace. Wonderful.

Later on in the morning, I found myself changing my outfit a couple of times and getting frustrated with the morning's tasks. As I apologized to Jess for my attitude, he remarked, "I understand, it's just that you wanted to be at that wedding this morning, didn't you?" I laughed. He was right.

Canap├ęs anyone?

4.26.2011

bp's science: how sunscreen works (v.1)


When buying sunscreen, we all know to look for a specific SPF (Sun Protection Factor), and we understand that the higher it is the better protection we have. But do we know any more than that? As for me...not really. So let's learn together, eh?

The Sun Protection Factor is actually a multiplier value. Say for example your skin can handle 30 minutes of sun without getting sunburn. If you buy an SPF 15 product, then you can be out in the sun for 450 minutes (30 x 15) without getting sunburn. However, this value is determined assuming that people apply the sunscreen generously, but most people don't. In fact, most sunscreen users apply about 1/2 to 1/4 of the assumed amount. With that being the case, an SPF 15 product would truly only allow you stay out for 225 or 112 minutes, respectively.

There are three types of UV rays, UV-A, UV-B, UV-C. UV-A rays penetrate deep into your skin and cause premature aging and possible skin cancer. UV-B rays cause tanning and sunburn. UV-C rays are all absorbed by the earth's atmosphere (nothing to worry about there). The SPF factor specifies the protection against UV-B rays only. To ensure you're being protected from UV-A rays too, look for a sunscreen that specifies on the packaging that it has "broad spectrum" protection and you should be good to go.

The way sunscreen protects you is by reflecting and absorbing the sun's rays. Little inorganic particles (think zinc) in the sunscreen act like tiny bits of aluminum, and when a sun ray hits, the particles deflect it so the skin won't soak it in. Organic particles (think PABA) absorb the sun's rays so the skin doesn't have to. When the particles absorb the ray, the energy is released as heat. Keep in mind that sunscreen doesn't reflect or absorb 100% of all the of the sun's rays, so you're still getting some when you go outside. But that's a good thing, right? You've got to get your vitamin D somehow. But that's a discussion for another time.

With that said: Welcome spring! and sunscreen!

photo from a Labor Day badminton game, 2008

4.22.2011

Earth Day is always April 22


I didn't know this fact until Oliver and I were reading one of his latest library picks, Clifford's Spring Clean-Up. So Happy Earth Day. What are you doing today to celebrate the earth and make it a better place?

4.19.2011

bp's science: how much weight an ant can carry (v.1)

Quick tidbit for today: ants can carry 10 to 50 times their body weight. That's like us being able to carry a car.

4.18.2011

4 days

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit my sister's home. She just had a new (very cute, very sweet) baby and I went out to assist with anything that may need assisting. It was a wonderful stay and this baby's parents are already pros. Holding the little one reminded me of when Oliver was weeks old. It was a lot of fun.

On the plane ride there and back I read a lot. There was no cheesy, ridiculous, or mildly entertaining film available, which I was bummed about at first, but once I started reading the Pearl Buck Reader (thanks mom-in-law) I brought, who cares about the film, or even the beverage service. Wonderful stories. If you ever want to read a great book, try The Good Earth. I also read portions of her autobiography and found a wonderful quote:

There should be a deep attachment [between parents and children], heart should be tied to heart between parent and child, for unless the child learns how to love a parent profoundly, I believe that he will never learn how to love anyone else profoundly, and not knowing how to love means the loss of meaning of life and its fulfillment.

Putting the generalization (by using the word "never") aside, I found this quote so apropos for my visit.

4.13.2011

Blossoms of the Cherry Variety

One morning before Jess was off to work, we popped in on the Cherry Blossoms. It was a beautiful day.


Looking good


Singing in the canopy of Cherry Blossoms


Taking in the beauty (and glad that it's not cold and windy like it has been in past years)


One of life's joys

4.12.2011

bp's science: atomic size (v.1)

So how well do you think you know your basic general chemistry?

Put the following items in order from biggest to smallest:

molecule
atom
neuron
quark
electron
proton

Easy? Hard? Here's a clue, if a proton was the size of a basketball, an electron would be the size of a piece of rice. Another clue, a molecule is made of many atoms. And a neuron is a brain cell. Got the answer? Here it is:

neuron -> molecule -> atom -> proton -> electron -> quark

Until 2010, it was thought that a proton was 0.877 fentometres in diameter. However, recent studies show that a proton is significantly smaller, measuring in at 0.8418 fentometres. I was shocked to find that a difference in .0352 fentometres was a "significant" amount. Thinking about the size of atoms is kind of like thinking of the size of a universe. It takes your mind to this place beyond conscious thought.

4.07.2011

Excellent Viewing

I came across this program yesterday evening after putting Oliver asleep and then waiting for Jess to come home. It covers two stories of great people who have made a difference in this world. The first is a family of 21 kids, all adopted. The second, a group of people who were given the power to communicate through the use of technology. I was lucky enough to benefit from knowing one member of the first family. Take some time to watch if you have a free moment (say 45 minutes). It'll be worth it.

4.05.2011

bp's science: quinoa (v.1)

So, I've joined the quinoa (keen-wah) bandwagon. First, I saw the food mentioned on Top Chef. Then my sister started eating it. Then I found out another sister had already been eating it. And then I saw it in Costco and thought, "Why not?"

Quinoa is the small circular seed of a leafy green plant related to spinach. It's cooked like rice and/or cous cous and can serve as a substitute for those types foods. It is a great substitution because, for a "grain", it has tons of protein in it (which has always been a focus, seeing as one of the questions my mom would ask me growing up and over the phone when I was in college was, "Are you getting enough protein?"). Apparently, it has nine of the essential (meaning we have to get them from what we eat) amino acids. Just for kicks, let me mention all ten* of those amino acids (which I remember memorizing in college, but quickly forgot after I passed my physiology class):

Isoleucine
Leucine
Lysine
Methionine
Phenylalanine
Threonine
Tryptophan
Valine
Arginine
Histidine

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins (which make up our cells, create enzymes, repair tissues, the list goes on and on!). While our body can make some proteins, it must get others from our diet. That's why quinoa is such a great source of a complete protein. And in one serving, there is ~8 grams (or ~16% of your daily value). Plus, it has lots of vitamins and minerals, including iron.

The question is, is quinoa good? I think it all comes with the recipe you decide to make with it. I like quinoa and enjoy it in about everything I make with it. Jess on the other hand, needs a good flavorful dish in order to really enjoy it. To tell you the truth, it has taken some trial and error to find a good quinoa combination, but I think I'm almost there with getting the hang of it. I'll let you know when I've got a killer recipe.

photo found here.

*it should be noted that sources on the internet mention different numbers of essential amino acids. Some said there are 8, others 9, and some 10. I sifted through several sites (boy do I wish I still had my physiology book) and found that the number differs because of the amino acids arginine and histidine. It depends on the site, but different sources say that arginine and histidine are only essential for kids. When 9 is mentioned, the essential list includes histidine. When 10 is mentioned, the list includes both. The nutrition information I looked at included histidine but not arginine in it's counts. Does that mean the quinoa does not have arginine in it? There, I cannot be certain, and with that, we learn that this bp's science post is not totally complete. Apologies to the reader. I don't work in a lab.

4.01.2011

Mornings


When I was a teen, living in the basement bedroom, I did not like getting up in the morning. No sir. Surprise, surprise, right?

When I was in college, same deal.

After I got married, same deal. Jess and I were notorious for sleeping in until 10am on Saturdays.

But now, the morning is my most productive time of the day I tell you. By 9:00am I have already:

- gotten Oliver out of bed and played with "some toys"
- taken a jog
- kept my muscles up to par with some crunches and the like (one of which includes punching the air with soup cans in my hands - ha)
- made Oliver breakfast
- made Jess lunch
- taken a shower and gotten ready
- walked Jess to the metro to say goodbye for the day
- taken a look at the construction site with Oliver
- and walked home.

This early schedule has made us mega-early for things. "Mega-early?" you say, "is this Ashley's blog or am I reading someone else's?" you continue to think. I have changed you see, so much so that I've arrived at the library, Costco, and the mall before they have opened.

But for some reason, we only get to church on time about 50 percent of the time. And our branch starts at 1pm. There's always room for improvement I guess.