Archive for the ‘Bloggery’ Category
Can you tell that we were in Manhattan for New Years? This is Noah’s interpretation of “the city” using blocks and matchbox cars. We especially loved the paralell parking.
What happens when you can record your activity every second of the day with the simple press of a button? You discover that you do a hell of a lot of eating! The bad news doesn’t stop there. After eating, I spend most of my time in the bathroom or sleeping. Pathetic? Maybe. But, at least now I know how pathetic I am, and more importantly how I can become less pathetic.
You couldn’t ask for a more simple interface. You create a button, tell it what you want the button to do, and voila! You just press the button to log your information. The time and place the button was pressed is automatically recorded. You can have it ask you for a relevant quantity or perhaps an associated note. You can create sublists, so hitting a button brings you to another page of buttons. For example, when I click “drinking” it takes me to a page of buttons which lists Water, Crystal Light, Soda, Wine, Beer.
Then, there’s the charts feature. You just press and hold one of your buttons and select chart. You get a choice of several charts for the button you’ve pressed. I can chart the times of day I drink, or maybe on which days I drink the most. I can even see a pie chart breakdown of how often I drink each beverage. Then, you can share your chart as I’ve done here.
Finally, you can save your data as a .csv to your SD card so you can later do all sorts of cool things with the data in excel, or even email a list of log entries. Try it! You might learn something about yourself. OK. I’m off to get a drink of water … click … drink/water … click … bathroom/pee.
We walked home today from our friends’ house in the snow. This was a very early snow, being October 29th. I can’t remember ever seeing so many branches in the streets. Every few minutes, you could hear entire trees crackling as their roots tore from the ground and their branches cracked against other branches, followed by the softer crash as the entire bole hit the forest floor. Those trees left standing had their branches weighed down at their sides, or along the ground where they used to fly tens of feet above the ground. Outside our apartment window, the row of bushes which, on other days would rise above our terrace, now were flattened to only a few feet from the ground. It reminded me of the following paragraph from Muir’s The Mountains of California.
… No other of our alpine conifers so finely veils its strength. Its delicate branches yield to the mountains’ gentlest breath; yet is it strong to meet the wildest onsets of the gale,—strong not in resistance, but compliance, bowing, snow-laden, to the ground, gracefully accepting burial month after month in the darkness beneath the heavy mantle of winter.
When the first soft snow begins to fall, the flakes lodge in the leaves, weighing down the branches against the trunk. Then the axis bends yet lower and lower, until the slender top touches the ground, thus forming a fine ornamental arch. The snow still falls lavishly, and the whole tree is at length buried, to sleep and rest in its beautiful grave as though dead. Entire groves of young trees, from ten to forty feet high, are thus buried every winter like slender grasses. But, like the violets and daisies which the heaviest snows crush not, they are safe. It is as though this were only Nature’s method of putting her darlings to sleep instead of leaving them exposed to the biting storms of winter.
Thus warmly wrapped they await the summer resurrection. The snow becomes soft in the sunshine, and freezes at night, making the mass hard and compact, like ice, so that during the months of April and May you can ride a horse over the prostrate groves without catching sight of a single leaf. At length the down-pouring sunshine sets them free. First the elastic tops of the arches begin to appear, then one branch after another, each springing loose with a gentle rustling sound, and at length the whole tree, with the assistance of the winds, gradually unbends and rises and settles back into its place in the warm air, as dry and feathery and fresh as young ferns just out of the coil.
A nice walk in the woods, and a favorite spot to take a picture.
Found this fly mooching off the kids’ sippy cup!
I am here: 40 44.601 N 73 50.889 W
Time flies when you’re having fun. With all our camping recently, summer flew by so quickly and first grade is here already. Noah, freshly shorn and in his bright yellow raincoat and Kineret kippah, got on the bus at 7:30am.
At ward pound ridge reservation tent site 21
I am here: 41 15.209 N 73 34.996 W
I am here: 40 54.604 N 73 53.552 W
This is my first attempt at a scraped-together gps tracking system. I capture my gps location using the "gps status" android app. I share it using "email me pro" which has a template set up to send an email with my location to wordpress via blog-by-email. The coolest part is that I compose everything off line and just need a glimpse of reception to send. Here goes nothing …
I am here: 40 53.507 N 73 54.544 W
We came back from our trip down south, and after we landed, we were the lasts one off the plane and … what more could any kid ask for?!
We had Noah’s birthday party at this local bowling alley in Yonkers. I’ll post more pictures from the party later, but I just had to share this sign I saw there on the “wall of fame.”
It would be interesting to come up with a way to control with whom you’re sitting instead of just where you are sitting on your upcoming flight. Maybe instead of choosing aisle or window, you could choose to sit next to a talker or maybe a sleeper, college grad or undergrad, art major or business major, vegetarian or carnivore. At least make a maximum butt width for an entire row. Why have rows which are 110% butt-full, and some which are 90% butt-full? The guy next to me is gigantic … Just his shoulders … and there are two teeny women and a frail senior sitting in the row behind us.
We had the whole thing planned out. We’d leave the kids with Marni’s parents, and then Marni would drop me off at work on her way to see the latest vampire movie with her friend. When I walked into work, everybody kept saying to me “What are you doing here?”. At first I kept saying, “I’m working tonight,” until it hit me that maybe I wasn’t working tonight. I checked the board, and sure enough, I wasn’t on the schedule. I called Marni and told her that I wasn’t working and luckily she hadn’t made it down to the end of the block. What a treat! I felt like I had just been given a wonderful gift. I spent a few hours at The Bronx Ale House (my local, if I have one), and now I’m waiting for Marni to pick me up so we can go out to eat in the city. Sweet!
In honor of Thanksgiving, Noah had a Pow-wow in school. In the weeks leading up to the event, they learned about native americans and picked for themselves, native american names. Of course Noah, being Noah chose this name for himself. Yes, that does say, “Brave Mattress.” We have no idea what it means, but he is very proud of it.
We went to buy some clothes for the kids today. Four of the 5 items we brought up to the register rang up for at least 50% more than we thought they were going to be. Had we not been paying attention, we would have been charged $74 instead of $50. Why did this happen? I went back to look at the sign for the baja sweatshirts we tried to buy. I took a look at the sign on the rack (and snapped a picture of it too). How much do you think the tops are? Can you read the tiny letters above and to the left of the “$10″ that say “khaki pants” referring to the pants below? Neither could we. The actual price of the bajas was $14.50. The pants had a similar setup and were actually $16.50 while we thought they were $10. As everyone should try to do in order to control the marketplace, we did not purchase any of the “mislabeled” items. When in Old Navy … Buyer beware.
It’s Gabriel’s birthday today, Marni opened this present for him, looked at it and said, “Just what I need another thing with balls that makes too much noise.” … Completely unintentional, and hilarious. Anyone with kids will understand the frustration of cleaning up toys which are free to roll around the house and under furniture, and the headache that comes with noisy toys. Any mother with a husband and two boys will understand Marni’s memorable pun.
Are you kidding me?! 900 calories is 1/2 the day’s energy. I hope that’s only included on the advertisement because they are required by law to warn people of the mistake they are about to make. If you are truly conscious of what you put in your mouth, and live a deliberate lifestyle, then you would not pay $3 at 10am to pack in 900 calories unless you were planning on hiking for 12 hours to the next McDonalds to eat dinner.
My friend Lee Burstiner from our hospital in Tampa came into town last night and stayed over on his way to Boston this evening. Noah, who had last seen him 2 years ago, and couldn’t have possibly remembered him, took an immediate liking to him. I took Lee to see our hospital in Manhattan which he hadn’t yet seen. The kids had a great time. Noah was cranky at the beginning as usual, but slowly warmed into it. He never does this, but take a look at that picture of him putting his head down on Lee’s shoulder. The other image is of Gabriel–comfortable of course from the start–pressing his nose against the glass of the inpatient ward.
Check out this shopping cart full of magazines that are being thrown out at the supermarket near me. Imagine this happens millions of times a day at supermarkets and news stands around the world every day. How do we justify this waste? How much of it is informative news?
To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.
Noah loves puzzles. He got that from me and from Marni. He never gives up either. His favorite game is Rush Hour which he is playing in this picture. It’s a great game. The Junior edition which is what we have is designed for kids 6 to 8 but he does just fine. He loves setting up the board as well as solving it. He works through the cards in order from easy to hard. We’ve seen him get up to 11 or 12 so far, but he gets further every day.
Had Noah’s 3rd birthday party today. It was awesome. He was so excited. It was a Thomas The Tank Engine theme party. All our friends were there … His too. Noah got all sorts of presents and had a great time. We served cupcakes and pizza, and we have so many leftovers.
Check out Jott.com. I just started using this to post to WordPress, it’s awesome. I can also post calendar items to Google Calendar and to do list items to remember the milk. listen
I learned to spell my name phonetically, from listening to my mother on the phone. She used to say, “B–as in Boy, E–as in Edward, Double-S–As in Sam, L-E-R.” So, after hearing myself saying that for the millionth time today, I decided to see where it comes from. It turns out, my mom (Mrs. Lea Bessler), may have been an undercover cop. If you notice, she is using the official NYPD phonetic alphabet–a dead giveaway. She loved donuts, used the word “vehicle” instead of car. She did have the most polished interrogation techniques out of all my friends’ moms–a technique involving bright lights (her makeup mirror), and a shower brush which was only brought out on special occasions and which she was always too afraid to use.
When did the whole “being quiet in the library” thing die? I sit in the Spuyten Duyvil branch of the New York Public Library, and for some reason, all the librarians (are they still called that?) are constantly speaking at top volume. The silence is broken every 5 minutes or so by a librarian near me answering somebody’s question about the local buses, or where they might find some video tape. Everyone stops what they are doing, and looks up. Maybe since the advent of earplug technology, they figure they don’t need to whisper anymore. Anyone have any ideas?
The wildness and adventure that are in fishing still recommended it to me. I like sometimes to take rank hold on life and spend my day more as the animals do. Perhaps I have owed to this employment and to hunting, when quite young, my closest acquaintance with Nature. They early introduce us to and detain us in scenery with which otherwise, at that age, we should have little acquaintance. Fishermen, hunters, woodchoppers, and others, spending their lives in the fields and woods, in a peculiar sense a part of Nature themselves, are often in a more favorable mood for observing her, in the intervals of their pursuits, than philosophers or poets even, who approach her with expectation.
- Henry David Thoreau in Walden
Just yesterday I was speaking with one of the fathers in the class I help with at the Museum. The topic for the day was snakes. There was some discussion of the fear–which some of the parents had–of snakes. “You want to touch the snake, Johnny? Nothing to be afraid of. We discussed how this clued the children into the idea that there was something to be afraid of. Without this, the children have no natural fear of these smaller creatures. Many of the children show no reluctance to touch and hold the cocroaches, millipedes, pill bugs, and snakes we have. The parents were most concerned about the snakes biting them or their children. They have no such concern when handling the chinchillas–one of which bites (and chews!) her holder without warning, often drawing blood.
I began the second class, by showing as many of the parents and children as I could, the tiny teeth on the articulated skeleton of a similarly-sized snake. They are obviously not meant to pierce the skin, rather to grasp prey when working the prey head-first into the snake’s mouth. Still, there remained this fear amongst many of the parents.
I began to wish–to myself at first, and then aloud to my coworkers–that the garter snakes would bite one or several of the parents, so they would see how harmless the bite is. This was met with some skepticism. I was bitten countless times by garter snakes, milk snakes, and water snakes when I was a child, and that is how I learned that they are not to be feared.
The greatest naturalists and most important conservationists al started out, as children or young adults, hunting, fishing, or otherwise getting their hands on animals in ways which today we would not condone. Darwin, collected animal specimens while on his voyage. Theodore Roosevelt was an avid hunter and collector of “specimens.” Take this famous passage from Aldo Leopold:
In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
Leopold, Aldo: A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, 1948, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987, pp. 129-132.
I am not codoning hunting. Rather, I believe that, once again, we have skipped over the middle road. We, as a society who cherishes the natural world, have swung too far to the other side in protecting her. We have placed her on a pedistal. Now, she is known only from a distance. Most men now only know her as they know history–from what they read in books and are taught in school. Very few experience nature. The children don’t know that garter snakes are harmless because they were never bitten by one, and have never opened a snakes mouth with a credit card to look.
Also, because children never exert their dominance over animals and nature, they don’t place them in the category of things which require care and compassion. If snakes are dangerous, they can obviously fend for themselves, and require no protection from us. Regardless, reality is that we are the dominant animals on this planet. When man is not allowed to internalize, experientially, that dominance, it is difficult for him to feel compassion for, and a sense of guardianship over other creatures.
“At evening, the distant lowing of some cow in the horizon beyond the woods sounded sweet and melodious …”
-Thoreau, Walden, Sounds
I am itching to go somewhere where it is quiet enough to hear such things. I have not heard silence in a long time. I tried “going” there in my mind. I can picture the scene, but cannot hear the sounds. Why can’t I imagine the sounds?
Before I was a scientist, I was an artist. The world, my world, was dominated by emotion. I spent my days drawing and painting. I saw the world, not for the objects within it, but for their colors and lines. I loved the way paint flowed from my brush, and the way a line, the simplest of forms next to the point, both divided and focused a page. I thought in the language of asthetics. “If it could be said with words, we would not need the painting,” I used to say.
That idea spoke to me. I finally understood abstraction, and it was very dear to me. My eyes opened to a new world, previously hidden to me–hidden to the masses. I bathed in my new understanding.
All that changed, I’m not sure when and why. I lost that “true sight” somewhere along the way. Thoreau has reminded me, though.
“Children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, by failure.”
- Thoreau, Walden, Where I Lived and What I Lived For
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
-Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
Well, had I known what awaited me in the next chapter of Walden, I wouldn’t have gone on and on about how poorly-versed I am in the classics. Now I feel like a complete illiterate!
“The heroic books, even if printed in the character of our mother tongue, will always be in a language dead to degenerate times; and we must laboriously seek the meaning of each word and line, conjecturing a larger sense than common use permits out of what wisdom and valor and generosity we have.”
Thoreau goes on to discuss the virtues of the classics. He equates reading the classics with actually making acquaintance with their authors.
“For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man? They are the only oracles which are not decayed … I aspire to be acquainted with wiser men than this our Concord soil has produced, whose names are hardly known here. Or shall I hear the name of Plato and never read his book? As if Plato were my townsman and I never saw him–my next neighbor and I never heard him speak …”
He has answered my questions, and more, he inspired me! Not just to wade through the classics rather than to skim them, but to bathe in them. Perhaps the skimming may be a means to an end. To be honest with myself, I must see that the goal is not to read, but to understand.
“The orator yields to the inspiration of a transient occasion, and speaks to the mob before him, to those who can hear him; but the writer, whose more equable life is his occasion, and who would be distracted by the event and the crowd which inspire the orator, speaks to the intellect and heart of mankind, to all in any age who can understand him.”
I have asked my questions and Thoreau has answered them. I feel as though I have spoken with the man.
“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book!”