Monday, February 26, 2007

I give you: the USAC

I bring you to a conversation I had with Kai while we were en route to the Oscar Party we attended last night. I'm driving, and Kai is in his car seat. (Keith is absent - he is at work on his second-last shift EVER at the very fancy kitchen store.) As we drive by the Baseline Reservoir:

Kai: Look, ice.

Me: Yes... it's very frozen, isn't it?

I notice a flock of water fowl near an opening in the water.

Me: Hey - do you see the ducks, Kai? Actually, those are Canada Geese. Do you see the Canada Geese, Kai?

Kai: I was born in Canada.

Me: That's right, buddy. You certainly were.

Kai: Do I live in Canada?

Me: No, Kai... we live in the United States of America.

Kai: I'm going to say... the United States of America {beat} Canada.

Me: [laughing] That's a great idea, Kai...


From the mouths of babes.

(I take little credit for his devotion to his native country, but I can at least relish in it.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The White Park

I wrote a while ago about the Rock Park. It is one of two easily accessible parks within walking distance of our home. The other, much closer park is The White Park, named for the fact that unlike most playground equipment circa 1995 and later, the main colour theme for this playground is creamy white and grey. Proximity to our home makes it a favourite place to visit, despite the rather bland appearance.

Yesterday I took Kai and two neighbour kids (a brother and sister, aged 6 and almost 4) to the White Park. It was by no means warm, but the sun made it cheery, and it was nice to go to a park for a change...

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I made the match to the other pillow last Sunday, but life happened and photographing it was postponed and then it had to be washed after someone had a throw-up on it, and then I had to wait for light to photograph it again, and... well. Life happened. But I did make it, and that's what matters. Out with the old, in with the new.

More of my favourite fabric! I keep finding uses for the few remaining scraps that I have... sadly, I don't think this will continue on much longer. I'll just have to find a new favourite fabric.

Friday, February 23, 2007

red, my favourite colour of tape

it is that time of year again when i need to submit an application to homeland security in order to work in the usa. first i have to submit an application, then provide a letter explaining why my income is not needed to support our family (our visa's are contingent on becky's income and hers alone). i also include a small budget with our expenses and her income showing what our surplus is as proof. also in the supporting documents for my application is a copy of my I-94, which is a departure record, a copy of my current work authorization card and finally two passport size photographs. once the office receives all of these documents i will then be sent more paperwork which will require me to go to an office in denver so that i can provide a fingerprint of my index finger. then sometime in may, preferably before my current card expires i receive a new card allowing me to work for another year.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

ah, the cbc is awesome

i don't know why i haven't done it before, but catching up on canadian tv is great. becky has been watching the rick mercer report online for sometime and i recently started watching it with her each tuesday night. it is such a great show, i especially look forward to watching his rants. we were able to meet him in 2001 when we were on a trip to the maritimes. linda (that's her with rick) was taping an episode in halifax of his made in canada show and we were able to be on the set during filming. he was a very gracious host while we were there and he encouraged us to extend our trip to newfoundland (his home province).

everyone needs to watch this show. especially you scott.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Enjoying the fruits

Another sunny Saturday. On the docket: spend WAY too much money at Costco, pick up Keith, get a haircut (!), and make another of these:

I whipped up this up last night. It has been about 5 years in the making and, along with its soon-to-be-sewn buddy, will replace the horrid throw pillows that came with our couch.

And look: my favourite fabric! I still have a teeny tiny bit left.

Also, remember the peaches? Together with a little cottage cheese and a sprinkling of cinnamon, I have the perfect snack.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

valentine's day sucks

but i love my wife.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Small things

Corralling the animals.

All set for the drive-in.

One of the teeny-tiny flowers on the vine that sprouted out of our spider plant.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Rediscovering the Backyard

Relocating a floor mat to the back door and enjoying the sunshine pouring through the glass doors.

Inspecting the contents of the sandbox.

Checking on the recently uncovered fleet of outdoor trucks.

All in all, relishing in the first warm Saturday in months.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

8 weeks later

We've had a pretty consistent (very un-Boulderlike) winter here for the last 8 weeks. Remember how excited we were when it first snowed? And then it snowed again. And again. And then it snowed a little each week for the next 4 weeks, and it became a little boring and repetitive, and I think I stopped talking about it, but basically our lawn hasn't been visible since that first snow day.

That's alright. I can handle that. No worries. I don't need to go anywhere on the lawn. BUT, what has been a little more frustrating is that our street, and the street that we use to get to our street have not been plowed once.

That's right. Not even ONCE in the entire time we've lived here. Last year that wasn't a big deal - Boulder's snow removal strategy is essentially threefold:

1) plow major roads and those with bus routes
2) plow bike paths
3) wait for sunshine and warm weather to melt everything else

#3 is normally sufficient, but this year... not so much. At least not according to the 6" ruts on the access road to our street. No, "ruts" isn't the right word - ruts implies that as long as you stay in them, it stays pretty smooth. No - we're talking more like offroading in a field full of groundhogs. VERY busy groundhogs.

That's been the story of our street for the past 8 weeks. Until today.

Today, wonder of wonders, this happened:

What are these wondrous yellow beasts that can remove snow and ice from our streets? Could they be? Is it true? Snow removal? Right here on our little street?

My goodness... and we didn't even have to call in the army!

But here's the thing: IT WAS FINALLY MELTING. Good timing, Boulder. Stellar job.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Too much excitement for a Monday morning.

Adrenaline is a fantastic drug.

Okay. Something I learned this morning: when there are fluttering, scratching and chirping noises coming from your fireplace, and the little chain pull that keeps the flue closed is swaying back and forth, and your dog is hiding under the dining room table, don't assume it's a bird trapped in your chimney. This, in hindsight, is especially valid if your husband feels it is necessary to hold the flue closed and comments that "it must be really big, because it is heavy."

In my life, I've never known birds that fly around in the wild to be heavy. Except for maybe hawks or eagles or partridges. And I'm pretty sure they're smart enough not to fall into a chimney.

Do partridges fly?

Scene - our home, main floor. 7:45 AM. Becky, returning from the gym, enters the hallway from the garage, says good morning to Keith in the kitchen, and Kai in the dining room eating his breakfast. Kai rushes over, says good morning, tells Becky that he's eating Cheerios that aren't yucky (aside: the "cheaper" and/or "organic" versions of Oat O's don't cut it with 3-year-olds. They're too smart for that), and isn't that GREAT?

Keith: there's something in the chimney.
Becky: what?
Keith: it's been making noises all morning.
Chimney: scratch, flutter, scratch, flutter.
Becky: did you call Dave (the landlord)?
Keith: It's 7:30.
Becky: what do we do?
Keith: I don't know.
Chimney: flutter flutter.
Becky: the flue pull is swaying.
Keith: yep.

Becky proceeds to go upstairs to get ready for work. Keith attempts to hold the flue shut. Keith calls Dave. Kai gets the calculator from the kitchen drawer. Jake paces. Keith ties his steel-toed boots to a thin rope and ties it to the flue pull.

Becky: (returning downstairs for breakfast, consults the internet) it says that you should darken the room, open up a door or a window, open the flue, and stand back.
Becky: here's another... it says you should be careful in case it isn't a bird. It could be baby raccoons.
Becky: do you think it's a bird?
Keith: it sure sounds like a bird.
Kai: I have the calculator. Kids with calculators can figure out where in the fireplace the bird is.
Chimney: flutter. chirp. scratch. flutter flutter. chirp.
Becky: that's definitely a bird.
Keith: (holding flue shut) I think we can be pretty sure it's a bird.
Becky: yeah... bird. definitely a bird.

time passes.

Becky: I'm leaving for work in 15 minutes. If you want my help, we'll have to do something now.
Becky: How about we use a blanket, open up the sliding door, and just guide it out?
Keith: I don't know.
Becky: what about a garbage bag?
Keith: we don't have one big enough.
Chimney: flutter
Keith: how about a sheet?
Becky: sure.

3 minutes later, Kai is upstairs in the spare room playing his new CD-ROM game, Jake is in the master bedroom, and all the upstairs doors are closed. An old blue queen bedsheet is draped over the mantel and held with a wooden candle holder and a poker from the fireplace set. The sliding door is open.

Becky: so one of us will open the flue, and then we can hold the sheet like this so that the bird can go into the light. How's that sound?
Keith: maybe we should try to catch it in the sheet?
Chimney: scratch.
Becky: one of us needs to go under there and open the flue.
Keith: I can do that.
Becky: okay.
Keith: ready?
Becky: yeah... but I don't know what we're doing.

Keith crouches down, opens the flue, then stands up and steps on the left side of the sheet. Becky holds the right side of the sheet up to let light from the sliding door into the fireplace.

Chimney: flutter. flutter. flutter. scratch.
Becky: go into the light.
Becky: please be a bird.
Chimney: scratch scratch scratch.

Twenty REALLY LONG seconds pass.

A squirrel drops down to the grate from the flue and scampers outside in one amazingly quick motion.

Becky: a squirrel! it was a squirrel! it was a squirrel!
Keith: The door!

Becky comes to and closes the door.

Keith: next time we're not doing that by ourselves.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Of Butterflies and Play-Doh(TM)

Yesterday we (finally) visited the local Butterfly Pavilion, only a short 15-minute drive from our home. It was a nice treat to be in a place that was warm and humid, if only for a little while. Friday was one of those days when on your first inhalation after stepping outdoors, every nostril hair freezes instantly or you realize after a few minutes of driving that your body has been fully tensed against the cold because the car still isn't churning out heat from the vents.

After visiting the Pavilion de Papillon and then cashing in a toy store gift card for some train pieces, 4 tubs of Play-Doh(TM) and an "educational" preschool CD-ROM set, we returned home. And then we got to work:
Kai has a very serious concentration face.

While Kai toiled away with his new and surprisingly pliable Play-Doh(TM), I snapped a few pictures of our sweet pup. I love the fact that the three pictures I kept show his three very different expressions.
Finally, my favourite photo of the day:

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The true north strong and free... and warmer.

Get ready, kids! Tomorrow's the day.

No, I'm not talking about Groundhog Day, although that's an amusingly appropriate day for the event to which I am referring: the 2007 IPCC is going to be unveiled, and the language within is said to be the strongest ever. (And I quote from The Associated Press: "The most authoritative report on climate change is using the strongest wording ever on the source of global warming, saying it is 'very likely' caused by humans and already is leading to killer heat waves and stronger hurricanes, delegates who have seen the report said today.")

Aside: Kai's class had a vote yesterday on whether or not they want more winter, and 8 out of 13 said "more winter", including our kid. And it's not like we haven't had 8 weeks of it so far. I miss my lawn.

Back to the IPCC report: I'm not exactly surprised about either the wording or the recognition. Nevertheless, I'm sure many other Earth scientists will have a ear perked to learn the major bullet points that will be revealed, as well. For myself, and other atmospheric scientists, I'm curious to see what graphic will be overused for the next 5 years to demonstrate "weakest understanding" and/or "largest uncertainty." (They mean essentially the same thing.)

Incidentally, the big unknowns last time were the indirect effect of aerosols and the impact of "mineral dust" on global mean radiative forcing. Big big error bars on those ones. The best part is that we didn't even know which way the mineral dust error bars should go.

I digress.

Hey. I have an idea. I'll SHOW you.

Check this out:

Oh, also fun is the level of understanding for MOST of the chart: VERY LOW. That's great.

So hopefully tomorrow's report will show that we've made some progress.

Oh! Oh! I almost forgot (speaking about climate change and all): I read this article by Richard Gywn a couple days ago on the Toronto Star online and was immediately livid. Well, maybe livid is too strong a word. I was saddened. Why you ask?

Well. Let me explain. And I'll use bullet points to keep from going off on a big rant about how the Toronto Star should try to hire people who actually THINK about what they write before they go and send off little crappy excuses for copy to their editors. Oh. Right. Bullets.

  • "Quite clearly, global warming is taking place. It's less clear just what forms it will take. Experts tacitly admit this by employing the ambiguous phrase "climate change" rather than the popular one of global warming." I know I covered this the last time I spoke on Global Warming/Climate Change, so I won't go into nitty gritty details, but let's just say "perhaps you could try get your facts straight, Mr. Gwyn, before you write down your random thoughts." It is rather clear that there is a lot more to climate change than just warming.
  • "But the why – about Canadians' response to global warming – still needs to be asked. After all, Canadians account for less than 2 per cent of the globe's greenhouse gases. What we do, thus, contributes little to the problem and, at best, we can only marginally improve matters." OH. Excuse me... right. I forgot that Canada is a first-world country that is completely immune to the problems of the rest of the world. Forget Afghanistan. C'mon home, troops. Forget foreign aid. Forget the G8. We no longer care about other countries... especially those that aren't as vast and uncrowded and technologically advanced as our lovely country. Alright - I'll drop the sarcasm. Here's the thing - sure we only produce 2%, but if we look *per capita*, we're up there with the worst of them. And correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't it be great if Canada took the lead on this one? I highly doubt that Nigeria is on the cutting edge of fossil-fuel-free technology that will change the world. And maybe this is wishful thinking, but we may actually be able to influence the UNITED STATES, which just happens to be the worst greenhouse gas emitter. Just a thought.
  • "Another reason to wonder about our sudden environmental awareness is that, although little attention has been paid to this, global warming will actually benefit Canadians, on balance. A warmer climate will lengthen our growing season and so expand our agricultural output. It will melt our Arctic ice, creating opportunities for speedier sea travel to Europe and Asia, and make it possible to increase exploitation of our northern resources. It will also reduce our death rate, which always increases during our winters." Oh my word. I don't even know where to START here. Has this guy been living in a ditch? Okay. I'll break this one down. Melted Arctic Ice. I for one, might actually MISS the polar bears. Remember them? Yeah... they need sea ice for hunting. I admit, I'm not a biologist, but I can't see a *lack* of arctic sea ice being a good thing for them. Speedier travel. What, for oil tankers? Increased exploration of our northern resources. Right... not to mention increased insect infestation, malaria, dengue fever... sounds great. Reduced death rate. Okay, I'll give you the fact that there were less vehicular deaths in Ontario this past December because the roads were less snowy than usual, but... again, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe that people die during heat waves, too. Seriously, sir, warmer doesn't necessarily mean less deaths.

  • "As a rich country, we are far better situated to cope with climate change's negative effects than is a poor one, like Bangladesh." Oh for Pete's sake. For THIS reason we shouldn't worry about climate change? Mr. Gwyn, did you even read this over before you submitted it?
  • "Combating global warming is the ultimate collective cause. It's about doing good, not just to ourselves but to our grandchildren. It's about doing good not to and for just our own country, but to the globe itself." Blink blink. Okay, Rich, you make ONE good point, but the tone with which you make it is... icky. And I recognize that *perhaps* the tone of the entire article was to make people think about the REASONS they are suddenly so interested in the global good when it comes to climate change, but there were too many damaging notions presented earlier to make this jump into the opposite realistic. Climate Change isn't just a feel-good cause to throw our energies into. The way Gwyn writes, we need to have a cause and since no others are to be found right now, we'll make global warming our cause. I'm sorry. It's just not that flippant.
Okay, so I might not have been able to mask my ire, but where else but here should I let my true feelings out?

So I wasn't actually going to present this at all, but while I flipping through the virtual pages of the Star today I found a link to this and all became right with the world. Well, for now. Enjoy.