Random notes

Last night Jess stayed up very, very late to finish a good book.  We are talking the milkman is making deliveries- type late.  And he did most of it standing, leaning against the counter with his elbows.  That man can really get into a book.  I told him from now on, only picture books will be checked out from the library for him.

Every time I am looking my very best, I run into someone I know at Target (I say sarcastically).  But really the difference between my best and my not so good is quite minimal, so it's not all that bad.

Oliver has decided that our next child will be named Colt.  I cannot be sure where he got that name idea, but it has stuck with him.

And finally, did you know that Christmas was officially declared a holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870?  I learned that from my sister's Christmas card this year.


Holly jolly-ness

I hope your holiday season is going merrily. Ollie likes to plug in the lights the moment he wakes up. Jess and I start up the Christmas tunes daily and nightly. And we are all enjoying the sweets of the season. I had a chance to make stockings for my little fam, thanks to my great sister. We sewed away at these things for a couple of hours yesterday. And this morning, Oliver stood under the mistletoe and said, "It's time for a kiss!" Gladly.


12:12pm on 12/12/12

Playing downstairs listening to Christmas music. What were you doing?


Time is flying by

These last couple of weeks have been full to the brim with stuff, and so I find myself at December 10th thinking it should be November 30th.

Before I get into anything else, I must write that Oliver is in the mode where he asks lots of questions.  For instance:

What does "tilt" mean?
What does "flee away" mean?
What about "lean"?
Or "lonely"?

Sometimes my explanations aren't too good.  Like the time I tried to explain "understand."  I told Oliver it's when you comprehend something.  His response, "What does 'comprehend' mean?"  Which I followed up by explaining that it's when you understand something.  I caught my circular explanation and tried again. "It's when you get something or when something makes sense to you...Does that make sense?"  Nice.

Not only does Oliver like the meaning of words, he's also sounding them out and reading a bit.  He's getting the hang of it.  The best was when I went upstairs to find him spelling things out during his quiet time.  Here's his spelling of "QUIET."

Jess and I are getting the hang of living in our new place.  We've officially bought a new tree trimmer, a hand saw, a snow shovel, and a toilet handle.  I used to wonder why people shopped at Home Depot.  Now I know.  It is because they took care of their home, instead of a maintenance man doing it.

If we were in DC this year, I can imagine what my life would be like.  It would be good and we would be doing good things surrounded by good people.  This year, we are in Utah.  And we are still doing good things surrounded by good people.  And I am grateful for each day.  And I am grateful for this season.  And I am trying to enjoy each minute of it one Osmond Christmas tune at a time :)


Book Review: Devil at My Heels

This is the autobiography of the man who is the focus of the popular book, Unbroken. Excellent read, amazing story, impressive man.

The story of a young Olympian who served in the military during WWII and survived a plane crash, days and days in a life boat at sea, and POW camp. Not to mention the PTSD and trying to get his life back afterward.

His message: it's all about attitude.  This is the kind of book I really enjoy and just can't get enough of.  I would highly recommend it.


bp's science says farewell

The posts on this blog that get the most hits are my science posts.  Just recently, I had an overwhelming response to one of my science posts which had been linked via reddit and other blogs.  It was kind of neat to see those links at first, but then people started questioning my facts, and I felt kind of crappy, but I could see why people did it.  In one remark, one of my entries was compared to a 'Wikipedia' page of science, and I get it.  While I have been trying to provide facts that I think are certainly true and the way the science works, I am not doing research myself in my garage lab.  I have a biology degree, but not a mathematics, physics, chemistry or any of the myriad other science degrees.  And as such, I do not understand everything out there.  But, truth is, I wasn't trying to be the science authority (are you kidding me?).  And it's the nature of the beast for a mistake or two to come along.  I mainly did the posts to keep me asking questions and trying to find the answer to them.  I thought it would be interesting to some readers along the way, and I hope it was.

And so, I have decided to quit bp's science.  It had a good long run for almost three years, but it is time to stop.  I've reverted all of the entries to draft so I don't have to read anymore poor comments about them.  Still, I will remember the good comments and, I must admit, some of those posts were gems and right on the money.  Plus, I really did learn a lot!

As Ron Rosenbaum states in a recent Smithsonian Magazine article, "...the wisdom of the ages is in some ways more distant and difficult to find than ever, buried like a lost treasure beneath a fathomless ocean of online ignorance and trivia that makes what is worthy and timelss more inaccessible than ever." And with that, I would encourage you to go to your library and seek out some good old books, papers, or journals.  There isn't any 'Wikipedia' there (that is, unless you go to the library and use the computers...but I digress).  Ciao!


bp's science: the art of shopping (v.1)

This holiday season, try this tip out: don't hold a basket at stores.  Research shows shoppers holding a basket (instead of pushing one) were seven more times likely to buy items that they weren't planning on buying or didn't need.  Why? They aren't really sure what the science is behind it but scientist theorize that the flexing of your arm activates the desire to acquire.  Or that the arm gets uncomfortable while shopping so it signals to your brain, "Gather whatever you can, man, and get out of here!"  A Snickers bar at the front cashier will provide the energy you need and will take less time than fetching an apple from the produce section.

I wonder what the difference is between customers who held a basket and those who held or pushed nothing.  What about carrying a bag on your shoulder (like in IKEA)?  What do you think?

photo from here


Book review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

In Steve Jobs' biography, the reader learns how Apple came about and why it is so successful.  Much of its success is due to being lead by a guy who didn't take any nonsense, was brutally honest, and was extremely eccentric...to a fault but also to the result of some of the technological world's greatest successes.  I read most of Walt Disney's biography last year and I found many similarities between these two, shall we say, geniuses.  They both had a feel for what the public wanted before the public knew they wanted it.  They truly believed in their product with undying determination and they usually could talk anyone into doing something for their (or their company's) sake.  True, these individuals could be hard to work with and you had to figure out how to be on their good side, but once you were, it was an adventure to be on board.  I am amazed at people like this, with such determination that they can go about business with such confidence.  Jobs was truly driven by his work and he did it because he loved it, not because he wanted the lifestyle (although, he did have a private jet and was designing his own yacht).  This is a fantastic read and a great look into a man who, like my brother recently mentioned and I agree, will be remembered with the greats like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, for changing the world with invention.


bp's science: warm milk and eggs (v.1)

Are you one of those people who makes a cake without bringing the milk and/or eggs to room temperature? I sure am. Even though I'm great at remembering to soften the butter, I never remember the milk and eggs. And for a while, I was proud of it. "Who cares?" I thought as I laughed inside, "I can make just as good a cake without the hassle."

Turns out, there's a reason all of my cakes are dense. According to REAL SIMPLE magazine, January 2011 issue:

"At room temperature, eggs, butter, and liquids such as milk bond and form an emulsion that traps air. During baking, the air expands, leavening the batter or dough and producing a light and airy baked good. Cold ingredients, on the other hand, don't incorporate evenly to bond."

So when making those baked goods this holiday season, take the butter, milk and/or eggs out of the fridge 30 minutes - to an hour before baking and enjoy that airy cake (or muffin or bread).


Trickle Treat!

That is the Halloween phrase, according to Super Three Man, aka Oliver.


bp's science: difference between frogs and toads (v.1)

We've been explaining lots of cool things to Oliver lately because he has lots of questions.  One of them being, what is the difference between frogs and toads?  I didn't know, so I thought I'd check it out.  The answer was surprising.  Toads are actually frogs, however there are differences, seeing as they are in two different families* (Ranidae and Bufonidae, respectively).

Main differences include: frog skin is wet, toad skin is not; eye shape is different; frogs hop, toads walk.  See here for more differences.

*And just a note taking you back to 7th grade biology, there are seven major categories according to Linnaeus's taxonomy: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.


About dinner

"Respect your dinner; idolize it, enjoy it properly. You will be by many hours in the week, many weeks in the year, and many years in your life happier if you do."

- William Makepeace Thackeray, "Memorials of Gormandising" (Quoted in October REAL SIMPLE)

I used to very much dislike making dinner.  Then I realized I would be doing it all of my life so I might as well enjoy it.  After that, I gathered recipes, asked good cooks questions, and made a shopping list.  Voila!  Making and eating dinner is now enjoyable (most nights).  I can't help but agree with this quote.

Tilapia with sour cream sauce, rice,  and celery ... It may not always be pretty but it did taste good


Book Review - Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

An amazing book of perseverance beyond imagination.  The men on this voyage/wreckage kept their cool and worked together to get back to solid ground...that is, ground that did not consist of ice.  The book describes men who endured freezing cold, lack of sleep, a seal attack, a scant diet, and episodes that surely tried their patience.  This was another book that showed me the strength of the human spirit, the power of brotherhood (friendship), and the skill of a superior leader. 


bp's science: man breaks sound barrier...while skydiving (v.1)

If you didn't already hear about this, you must.  An Austrain skydiver broke the sound barrier (~750mph), and then went beyond that to travel 833.9 mph (Mach 1.24).  He did this by floating 24 miles up into the sky via a mega-helium balloon and taking the jump from there, in a special pressurized suit.  Unbelievable.

Watch video of the whole thing.  It reminded me of Iron Man.

photos found here and here


Ten, eleven, twelve

We're big into numbers over here, so I couldn't let the chance go by to mention that today's date is 10/11/12. Nifty!

Lately, Jess has had the time to come home a little earlier than we were used to back in DC and we are lovin' it. Dad can do things that Mom doesn't have the muscle for, you see.


bp's science: kids are naturally scientists (v.1)

In a recent study it was found that everyday play consists of experiences that help kids learn, just the way a scientist would collect data. The leader of the study explains,

"Everyday playing is a kind of experimentation--it's a way of experimenting with the world, getting data the way that scientists do and then using that data to draw new conclusions...What we need to do is put [kids] in a safe, rich environment where these natural capacities for exploration, for testing, for science, can get free rein."

I think I've seen this "everyday play" also called "free play" or even "boring play" (which is an unfortunate name because the play is really so valuable).  What's more, I read recently in an airline magazine of all places, that adults benefit from this kind of "play" too.  Just think of the things you discover from solving a computer problem by using trial and error, or by fixing a toilet lever, or even trying out a new skill or climbing a mountain.

"Boring play"...please...

See full article here.


Sensor failure

We've recently moved into our new place. It is exciting and surreal at the same time. Oliver loves the backyard, and that's the best thing ever. I am unpacking boxes and trying to fill the pantry. This weekend, Jess will mow the lawn. We are still in transition mode, but we are learning the ropes.

In fact, the house is breaking us in on it's own. The other day, Oliver and I were playing downstairs, and from a speaker in the house, we heard what sounded like the alarm system for the Starship Enterprise,

"System failure:
"sensor failure one,
"sensor failure two,
"sensor failure three,
"sensor failure four..."

It sounded once, and we were taken aback. It was loud and indeed alarming. I knew it was coming from the old security system, the one we tried to fix so it would do what we wanted it to. Apparently, we did something wrong and the lady over the speaker was telling us so every 90 seconds.

"System failure: sensor failure..."

I grabbed a screw driver and looked into the system more. The voice was driving me so crazy I was ready to cut the wires! I even went so far as to figure out what fuse serviced the thing, but to no avail. It can run on a backup battery. Finally, after about 20 minutes and 13 or so loud announcements, I found the button to reset the thing. The button was black and hidden. I tell you, it should be neon orange.

With that behind us, I think we can get a hang of this maintenance game. Wish us luck with raking leaves and clearing out the roof gutters come late fall.


It's in the DNA

This morning Oliver woke up, came into our room, and said, "Mom, I need a food that starts with 'D'." I couldn't figure out what food he was requesting so I asked, "What food would that be?" To which he responded, "I need a doughnut." Oliver is indeed my son.


Summer whirlwind

Here we are enjoying an early summer day in Maryland.  And now we find ourselves finishing off the season in Utah.  It's been a whirlwind of a summer, but a good one nonetheless. 

Moving requires lots of changes, and we are becoming well-versed in the things that come with getting settled.  We are getting there one step at a time (while I try to act like I know what I am doing), and it is an adventure.  Cheers to a great summer and cheers to the upcoming fall and everything that comes with it.


bp's science: rest = good memory (v.1)

Research shows that resting helps memory.  In a study done in Scotland, elderly women and men were told two stories.  After one, they were given a chance to rest and close their eyes for 10 minutes.  After the other, they were asked to do a different task.  When asked about the stories they were told, the women and men remembered details about the story they heard previous to the rest a lot better than the story they were told before they were asked to complete another task.

Sleep helps memory too.  The better rest you get, the better your mental and muscle memory work.

So remember to rest during the day and the night and it will do your memory good.


Good intentions gone bad

Have you seen this?  The BBC reports that an older woman in Spain took it upon herself to "restore" a 19th century fresco.  This is how it turned out.

I'm not sure how difficult it is to remove new but not old paint from an aged fresco, but it doesn't seem easy.  Art historians mentioned that if they cannot repair the painting, which is worth a lot sentimentally but not financially, they may just cover it with a photo of the original.



Oliver went to a train activity at a local library the other week. He really took to the drawing part of the event. It was fun to watch.


bp's science: drink water (v.1)

Did you know that the Institute of Medicine recommends that men drink about 13 cups of water a day?  And that women should drink 9 cups?

Do you get there?  I don't.  I've got to get my water bottle out again.


The Secret Life of Bees: A Book Review

I was happy to pick up this recommended book, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and find it to be quite delightful.  It's a story of a 14 year old girl who leaves her home to find a better place.  While there, she is able to learn and grow while letting go of the guilt she's felt over many years.

That's it in a nutshell.  It is a quick read and one that you'll enjoy.


bp's science: elevation elevates age (v.1)

Did you know that time goes by faster the higher off ground you are? According to The Week (a periodical that reports on everything from the lasted in celebrity news to current events), over a lifetime, a person ages about 90 billionths of a second for every foot above ground they live.

Here Ollie stands near our 15th floor balcony...that's lots of billionths!


How old are you?

Oliver loves to know individuals' ages.  He's pretty much got all of the cousins' ages memorized.  And when we visit other people, one of the first questions he asks is, "How old are you?"  At first I thought I may need to train Ollie not to ask that question but another one instead, fearing people wouldn't be comfortable with such an inquiry.  But I was wrong.  Much to my happy surprise, people don't mind it a bit.

I never want to mind the age I am or shy away from the question, "How old are you?"  There is wisdom that comes with years of experience and I've learned a lot from individuals older than me.  But I can almost guarantee that even though I won't mind how old I am, I'm sure not going to feel it.

I think up until 16 you feel your age.  Maybe up to 19, but beyond that it's different.  At 20 you feel 18, and at 21 you can't believe you've made it that far.  It's at 25 that you feel 22, and at 28 its 25.  Then at 30, well you still feel 25.  I can only speak from experience up to 30, but from what I can tell from talking to those older than me, the trend continues.  40 is 35, 50 is still 35.  My mother never felt 35 actually, 60 was her 28.  And the other day an 80-year-old family friend mentioned to me she never felt 80 or 70 or 60 and she isn't sure when she got there!

Why is it that we never feel our age?  Time goes by but we never seem to catch up with it.


The next best thing after fireworks

Celebrating the 24th this year was extra special...we actually celebrated it!  In DC we'd usually remember the date and have some ice cream or something.  But this year we were with family, smelling the bbq, riding the go-karts, mastering the slip-n-slide, and throwing water balloons.  And thanks to my sister-in-law, the newest addition to the fun: making huge bubbles.

Look at that!  It was very neat.  And the kids loved shooting their water guns at the bubbles to pop them (notice little Oliver over there holding a water gun as Jess creates a "snake" bubble).  This is going to have to become a tradition.


And we're back...

...to blogging that is.

You see, we've moved from our home of nearly 6 years.  It has been kind of hard and I feel like I am on vacation and we'll be back in our apartment in about a week; but we are here to stay.  And that's neat.  Onward and upward!

 Oliver jumps on a hotel bed during one of our nightly stops as we drove across country


We are on the move

Catch us back here around mid-July. See you then!


bp's science: nerves work fast (v.1)

According to The Dorling Kindersley Visual Encyclopedia, "The body's nerves carry electric currents to and from the brain at speeds of up to 249 mph (400km/h)."

The body is amazing.


Toaster oven bread

The other day I made banana bread and baked it in the toaster oven. It turned out deliciously. Have you ever baked anything in a toaster oven? I never have because I thought it wasn't possible. But it is!


Crossing to Safety, a Review

This is a story about a friendship between two couples over a number of years.  It's a book that celebrates the general normalcy we go through in life.  The author, Wallace Stegner, draws out the simple joy of the experience and the power we find in relationships.  It was a bit hard for me to read at the end because it was sad, but in the sadness there was that touch of irony and poignancy that came through.

Quotes I liked include:
In talking about himself, the author notes, "[Writers are] exalted by having made use of [grief and resentment], by having spilled [their] guts in public.  We are strange creatures, and writers are stranger creatures than most."  
Would you say this is true of bloggers to a certain extent?  Replace "grief and resentment" with "personal experiences" and I'd say most certainly.

And another quote about the miracle of pregnancy:
"I see [the two expecting friends] there, and think how in those two women four hearts are beating, and it awes me."
I am always amazed at the miracle of babies, and this seemed to sum it up nicely.


bp's science: polarized sunglasses (v.1)

Jess and I own polarized sunglasses, and although we feel totally cool wearing them (haha) and appreciate the decrease in glare they provide, we don't really know how they work.  Cue a bp's science post.

Haven't you noticed that a person wearing sunglasses looks at least 3 times cooler than normal?  
Okay, maybe not me, but Oliver and Big Bird are looking hip!

First, we must understand glare.  Light is polarized when it bounces off of something, let's say a lake, and instead of scattering in different directions, it reflects in a horizontal direction causing glare.  This happens on bodies of water, flat roads, and long car hoods to name a few things.  That's why polarized glasses are good for water sports, jogging, and driving.

Now polarized sunglasses are like little window blinds.  Molecules that naturally align parallel to one another (creating very thin horizontal lines for example) are applied to the lens.  These molecules absorb the light that is parallel to it, in our example horizontal light.  This creates a vertical polarization axis (or a vertical filter) which only allows vertical light to pass through while blocking horizontal light, a.k.a. glare. 

To sum up:
Polarized glasses = vertical filter = blocked horizontal light = NO glare
The polarized sunglasses we own have served us well and with summer coming around, I find that I will use them more than ever.  However, even though polarized glasses reduce the glare, there are some downsides.  For example, I can't read the clock in our car because polarized lenses can cause problems viewing LCD screens.  Good old quality sunglasses won't do that.

If you aren't sure whether your sunglasses are polarized or not, first observe the light wearing the sunglasses; then tilt your head 45 to 90 degrees.  If the light changes, you've got polarized lenses.


Memorial Day beach visit

For Memorial Day this year, I was determined to get to the beach.  We went with friends a couple of years ago and had such a great time, I wanted to make sure we went back.  Unfortunately, youth conference for our stake coincided with this trip, so while Jess found himself on a bus with 100+ youth, Oliver and I hung out with my brother and his wife and baby at the beach.  We had a wonderful time!  It was great to hang out with family.  Needless to say, we missed having Jess around, but I guess that just means we'll have to do this again soon!

Enjoying the sun and the sand, and missing Dad

Oliver on the same beach, in the same swimming suit no less, in 2010 and 2012.  Man, how that kid grows!



Recently, Oliver turned the big 3.  For days before, we reviewed the date of his birthday and how old he'd be.  He was so excited.  He enjoyed his presents and loved the cake.  We had a small, last-day-of-preschool party with cupcakes and a train ride.  It was a great time.

I can't believe this kid is 3.  Lately, he's really been into imagining and we've had lots of adventures right in our apartment.  He still loves letters and numbers (in fact, the letters on the wall in the pic above were enjoyed just as much as the gifts he opened) and he can pick up the words and the tune of a song like no other.

Just this morning, we went to get his 3 year-old wellness check-up. To prepare him for a potentially terrifying time, I told Oliver that the doctor wouldn't be giving him shots but would just be letting him know that he was healthy.  So, when the doctor checked his ears, Oliver responded, "I'm healthy!"  When he checked his eyes, "I'm healthy."  The heart, his lungs, his reflexes, the same.  And, later this afternoon, when he went to take off the band-aid from the finger they poked to check his iron levels, he declared, "My finger is healthy!"  Hoorah for that!  And hoorah to 3!


On my mind

This post is pretty serious in that I get a little philosophical. Read on if you like. Don't read if your are in the mood for a joke or something like that. I previously posted this and then took it down, and now I am re-posting it because I think it's worth remembering what I was thinking about at the time.

No science this week. Sorry about that, I've been thinking about other things.

Actually, I've been thinking a lot about how, when you love a person, or people, you worry about them. That means, that if you care about a lot of people, you find yourself worrying a lot. And as you get older, the people you love get older, and there seems to be more to worry about.

I come from a line of worriers. It's true. I find that in times of trouble, I worry. Nothing strange there. But even in good times, I find things to worry about. And because I'm in the business of really enjoying people and I'm lucky enough to know some great individuals, it is easy to worry about them, especially when times are rough.

My mom always told me that worrying won't get me anywhere. It was sage advice, because it is true. Life is scattered with lots of good things and then there are hard things too. And we continue to live and we come away from life being something, and hopefully that something is better, or that something is helpful, or that something feels like something that has made it through difficulties with some sort of grace or courage or increase in kindness. So, if worry doesn't get you anywhere, what does? That's what I'm working to figure out. Is it optimism? Service? Faith? A willingness to understand? Perseverance?

Those things are hard to do. And I still worry. But I try. And I worry. And life goes on. And sometimes it is very surreal. But most of the time I am learning and I can smile.


bp's science: the Blue Angels

This past weekend, we got a chance to see the Blue Angels perform in an air show.  It was awesome!

Turns out we were too late to take the shuttle into the base where the show was, so we parked on the side of a private road, aka, the cheap seats.  The view was still great.  Oliver liked playing with his letters and numbers for most of the show, and was good at plugging his ears; but when he saw the Blue Angels fly over us he yelled out, "How many?"  I think that was his way of saying, "That was so cool!"

As for the science of this post, and according to the Blue Angels website, the fastest these F/A-18 Hornet planes go is Mach 2, or twice the speed of sound.  However, the fastest they go for an air show is 700 mph which is just under Mach 1.  To the viewer, this is pretty darn fast.  The closest the jets get to each other at any one time during the show is 18 inches.  Whoa!  The show requires hundreds of hours of training, and you can imagine why.


Why I like blogs

I like to joke with Jess that the only thing I really do on the Internet is pay bills, check email, and read blogs. YouTube sometimes, Facebook rarely (through his account), Hulu, google maps, the occasional recipe, amazon.com. Okay, okay, I use the Internet a lot. But I think I'd have to say that although the age of blogs seems to be disappearing (I hear twitter and Facebook are rising in popularity as blogs are decreasing), I like them the best.

A blog is a medium that enables a person to share insightful stories that we wouldn't know about otherwise. Sure, we could maybe hear about an inspiring story on a talk show, but then we get the account in brief snippets of only the most astonishing facts when the lessons learned and the resiliency of the people are left in the dust. That's why I like blogs, they go deeper because the person who experienced the thing is writing the words. Plus, I get to read normal stories that aren't talk show material but are just as important to life in general. And, unlike the news, blogs are mostly positive. But that doesn't mean that people don't share hard things. On the contrary, instead, people share their hard thing and then they divulge what they've learned from it. And I've always been someone who learns from others, so this takes my learning to a whole new cyber-level.

I also like that the views are fresh, the humor is good, and that the people blogging are real people doing good things. Not all blogs are like this, but the ones I read are. Still, don't get me wrong, I recognize the bad things about blogs, but overall I feel like in them exists a place where people are trying to be better and do better and I am definitely a fan of that.

Now I am not quite sure if my blog does any of those things. And sometimes I wonder if people who read this and don't know me (that would be exactly 2 readers, ha) think I am a little...curious. Of course, our blog selves (and our Facebook and twitter selves, etc.) are certainly no replacement for a face-to-face interaction. Still, it is my hope that you come away from this space saying, "Well, that was interesting/funny/worth my 54 seconds."

What do you think about blogs? Why do you like them? What makes you read them? Pseudo heat sensitive photos? That's what I thought.


bp's science: storms (v.1)

It's been raining around here, which makes me want to share an interesting fact: in any given day there may be 44,000 storms over the earth (according to The Dorling Kindersley Visual Encyclopedia). Are you in one of those storms today? Or is it sunny where you are? Whatever the case, have a good May day!


Batman, this is Oliver. Oliver, Batman.

Recently we ran a 5K to support a good cause.  And as luck would have it, Batman was at the race too.  He's known around here as visiting kids in hospitals and cheering them up.  He's also known for riding around in his Batmobile convertible.

After we finished the race, we stepped up to meet the superhero.  As Batman put his hands out to hold Oliver, I was nervous Oliver would turn away, but instead, Oliver went right to him.  This guy was the real deal with the costume and everything.  He was very nice but still stayed in character as a pretty serious Bruce Wayne.

He finished by giving Ollie a comic book that was signed, "You rock always!"  Thanks Batman. 


bp's science: remember neutrinos? (v.1)

Back in October 2011, I talked about the latest finding about neutrinos (google describes a neutrino as: A neutral subatomic particle with a mass close to zero and half-integral spin, rarely reacting with normal matter).  The latest finding back then was that they were found to travel faster than light. This was crazy because it goes against Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Turns out the finding was bunk.  Unfortunately, someone forgot to fully plug in a wire.  When scientists were doing the experiment again, they tightened this wire, and sure enough, it made up for the difference in speed.

As a good scientist knows, it's always good to retest your findings, and, um, make sure your equipment is functioning correctly.


Teaching Kids

"Kids don't remember what you try to teach them.  They remember what you are."
 - Jim Henson

I know this is true for me and my memories as a kid, and I'm sure it holds true for the kids I teach on a weekly basis.


Getting ready for bed

The other night I was getting Oliver ready for bed.  He was having lots of fun running around after his bathtub, and I had to explain to him, "Oliver, it's night time.  It's time to get ready for bed.  It's time to settle down."

To which he responded, "But Mom, I want to settle up!"

Well said.


bp's science: thinking about food (v.1)

"Assume you are alone on a desert island for one year and you can have water and one other food. Pick the food that you think would be best for your health."
alfalfa sprouts
hot dogs
milk chocolate

This question was used to gather information in a study completed by professor Paul Rozin and his colleagues on food and psychology.  He wanted to know what Americans thought about food.

Now what do you think?


Most people chose bananas (42%), then it was spinach (27%), next corn (12%), alfalfa sprouts (7%), peaches (5%), hot dogs (4%), and milk chocolate (3%).

I choose milk chocolate.  And for full disclosure, I was reading fast and interpreted it as chocolate milk.

What's the right answer?  What food would best support survival?

That answer is hot dogs, then milk chocolate.  These two options offer up protein and fat, which would allow for a better amino acid balance and overall better health if living on nothing else on a desert island.

It appears that, due to the way we perceive food, we think that all fats are bad (or that all salty things are bad, etc.).  We think this because we know that a lot of fat is bad then we turn that into meaning that all things with fat are bad.  Anything in high doses is bad, wouldn't you say?  Classical music, even though it is good, in huge doses it can get old.  Good smelling lotion, while quite enjoyable, overdoing it can really be too much.  Sunshine turns into sunburn.  Rain into floods.  A gallon of milk in one sitting, no sir.  The point is, you need all of the nutrients to eat healthily, including carbohydrates, salt, and fat.  The key is balance.  And according to Rozin's research, we don't think about our food like that.

This post comes from my reading of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.  The book takes a look at what our food culture is today, how it changes constantly, and how it has changed so drastically from what we knew pre-1950s.  Pollan argues that what people have eaten in the past was formed around what their parents ate.  Now, however, we get most of our information about food from nutritionism (the science behind what we eat), and it can be confusing.  My personal favorite example: Don't eat eggs because of the cholesterol!  And then a few years later, Eat eggs because they are full of protein and antioxidants!  Yes, that is confusing.  So much so that we end up eating the cereal that's been enriched with vitamins and minerals and thinking that's it's just as good for us (because it says so right on the box) than a bowl of oatmeal topped with blue berries.  The book is interesting, enlightening, and it has some great ideas about how to eat better; some of which are very easy (eat more plants) while others more difficult (eat only meat that you know where it came from).  This book made me think.  This book made me want to eat better.  This book made me want a garden (that and the fact that it's spring).


Anything can go with anything

In my spare time I like to peruse the fashion scene.  I like to think that I dress fashionably, but unfortunately, I am too cheap and lazy to be at the height of fashion.  However, I do like to think in fashion terms and it's a fun past time to put together outfits with the stuff I've got in my closet.  With that said, it appears that these days just about anything can go with anything else.  Two patterns together, sure.  Three patterns together, yes!  Navy blue and black, go ahead.  Stripes on the top and on the bottom, why not!

I feel as if the fashion rules are, well, no longer fashion rules.  But isn't that the point?  Fashion is always changing and right now we are at the peak of the mantra, "wear whatever you want" and it will look good.  And I guess that is the fun of it.  Put together anything and if you're confident enough to pull it off, you can.  I suppose I can subscribe to such style, and even though I am drawn to black, navy blue, and gray, the fashion cloud is making me want to attempt a royal blue or a salmon.  Plus, the models in the latest j.crew style guide have bed head, and while I was in shock when I first saw it, I realized it was something I could easily latch onto, seeing as my hair looks similar on many days of the week.

photo from j.crew