Thunder Snow, who knew?

This past week we had a "Thunder Snow" here. Jess is not a fan of the term, "Thunder Snow". He prefers Thunder Snow Storm or Thunder Storm with Snow (which I have to agree with 100%, both of those sound way better), but "Thunder Snow" was what one of our weather professionals on the news told us.

The Thunder Snow was really cool. It was basically a snow storm with lightning. A few times I thought the lightning was power lines snapping, because, ya know, there is no lightning during a snow storm. Or so I thought. But actually there is, when the pressure is low, and that is very rare. The meteorologist had never seen one in her lifetime. So this storm was like the eclipse of the cloudy skies. (Man, that is some good weatherman material right there, wouldn't you say?)

One more thing that was interesting to watch were the cars coming home during rush hour. The storm caused some real back up (think 4 hours to get home!). There were lots of icy spots and some cars just couldn't get up the small incline by our apartment. My first observation of the night was that I will never buy a Crown Victoria (regardless of it's possible pluses). It is the car that I saw get stuck the most. My second observation was that I felt like I was watching a sociology experiment take place. The (a) lack of help during certain situations and (b) what activated people to help was very eye-opening. I also was able to reaffirm something that I knew before, but which was very apparent that others did not, that is: it does not help when individuals honk at someone who is stuck.


A Universal Conclusion, by Betty Smith

To live, to struggle, to be in love with life - in love with all life holds, joyful or sorrowful - is fulfillment. The fullness of life is open to all of us.


bp's science: leafy sea dragon (v.1)

The other day I bought Oliver some Sea Life flash cards from the $1 bin at Target. It has been one of the best $1 purchases I've made in a long time. I've learned all about sea creatures that I never knew anything about before. Case in point, the leafy sea dragon.

Look at this thing! I mean, wow and whoa and what? It looks like an advant-garde version of the sea horse. I mean, they are related. Here's a paraphrase of what the back of the card, created by The Clever Factory, Inc., tells us:
Leafy sea dragons live solely in Australia's southern waters. Living among rocky reefs, seaweed beds and sea grass meadows, they suck up prey using their long snouts and rely on their camouflage to avoid predators. In addition to the camouflage, they have several long, sharp, spines along the sides of their body, which they can use for defense. The male fertilizes the female's eggs in his pouch and carries them until they hatch.

And there you have it. It appears to me that this is a case where reality is stranger than fiction.


Eating out

This morning I heard something on the morning news:

On average, Americans eat out 3.3 times a week (up from 3.1 last year).

Whoa, that's a lot. Don't you think?


Mistaken identity

The other day, Oliver saw a picture of the United States Capitol Building and as he pointed to it he said in his cute little voice, "temple". Alright, okay. We'll work on identifying the major differences here, but I think he's getting the idea.


bp's science: is there a perfect temperature? (v.1)

My brother has a favorite temperature, it's 64 degrees F. He says it's the perfect temperature for being active outside. You're never too hot, you're never too cold.

My mom had a temperature at which she would let us, as little kids, wear shorts. If the temperature was 75 degrees F and above, we could wear shorts. If it was less than 75, no shorts and that was it.

Right now in our home it's 71 degrees F. Not too bad, a little chilly, but good. And when I vacuum, perfect.

I came upon something however, that suggests there is a perfect temperature. A temperature at which performance is best, and that's 77 degrees. See the research here based on a Human Factor and Ergonomic Laboratory at Cornell (you can even see the full study in PowerPoint if desired. Cool stuff). The research found that, in an office setting, "the workers were keyboarding 100 percent of the time with a 10 percent error rate, but at 68 degrees, their keying rate went down to 54 percent of the time with a 25 percent error rate. . ."

So 77 degrees F, eh? Interesting. I bet my brother would love to test out how his favorite temperature held up in "being active outside" tests. I'm curious myself.


What I learned from Friday night television

About a month ago I was watching 48 hours, again. I asked Jess that if he ever caught me watching such Friday night programming (as he finishes up some of the day’s work at home); would he please tell me to stop. I have a weird relationship with such programs. They draw me in but then they scare the heck out of me and I think about them all night and into the next day. You may or may not know that these shows are usually about ruthless crimes that shock and awe the viewing audience. There’s lots of repetition, quick flashes of crime scene photographs, and numerous statements like, “but what she didn’t know about her neighbor – dramatic pause – was that he had a secret past.” The stories don’t end happily and I usually feel a sense of emptiness when it’s over. But this Friday night was different.

As the program began, the host mentioned the locale of the crime. I was caught off guard. I knew the place. It was very close to where I grew up. The victims were people I didn’t know, but as the story continued, I began to recognize the family members of one of the innocent fatalities. There, on the screen, was my sister’s wedding photographer sharing with millions one of the hardest moments of her life. And then, there was my wedding photographer going into the details of what she felt during such a hard time. I was saddened before I could place them. I was distraught when I realized our connection.

Around the time of my wedding, when I came in contact with my photographer, I had suffered a loss and was feeling very sorry for myself. I knew nothing of the criminal offense that had occurred several years before to her family. I had no idea they had suffered such a terrible loss. As she took our wedding photos, I acted somewhat terse and gave abrupt answers. I wasn’t really friendly. I recall thinking to myself, “How do I explain to her what my family is going through? She would never understand.”

But the truth was that she would have understood. She had dealt with challenging things in her life too. I wish I could have acted differently at the time. Possibly have said something that would relate to my situation but would help her feel good too. There’s no way I could have known what she had been through and what hole was still in her life, but I could have been a bit more . . . nice. And I definitely could have made fewer assumptions.

As time goes on I realize more and more that everyone goes through difficult times. It was only after I had experienced an extremely challenging situation that I became aware of this fact of life. I guess I presumed the whole of the population lived superb lives that were just jim-dandy and I along with a few others knew what real heart ache was. Wrong. Everyone has challenges. And whether they are different or the same, we can use that commonality to help one another. I guess that’s the beauty that comes from sad situations. That is, because we’ve all dealt with some hard thing or another, we are better equipped to help each other. And isn’t that what life’s about? Helping one another?

I still don’t like 48 hours, and I’ll try not to watch it this year, but it sure reiterated a lesson as I watched that Friday night. I don’t ever think that will happen again. In fact, I’m pretty sure it won’t. So good riddance intense crime television, adieu assumptions, and hello again kindheartedness.


Rings true

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were . . . We live outside the touch of time.
- Clara Ortega

photo of stained glass window, Notre Dame, Paris


Cooking continues

My quest for cooking excellence continues. I am not anywhere near perfection, or pure deliciousness, but I am working on it and it's a good time. In fact, I worked shrimp into the mix just last month, and that was cool. A lot easier than I thought. In fact, I find that most cooking things are a lot easier than I thought. This past year, I mastered the turkey burger. These are delicious, healthy, and a good source of protein (which I am always on the lookout for).

This year's goal is to make gnocchi. Anyone out there made it before? Do you have any tips?


bp's science: why we put salt on the roads when it snows (v.1)

Salt-encrusted cars indicate winter, no doubt about it. Just watch The Office, which is filmed in Los Angeles, CA. When they want you to think it's a cold Scranton, PA winter, they cover the cars in the parking lot with white salty-looking stuff. So, why do they put salt on the roads during the winter?

Answer: Because salt decreases the melting point of ice. Or in other words, salt causes ice to freeze at lower temperatures than it would normally. Water usually freezes at 0 degrees Celsius, but when salt is added, the melting point of the ice mixture is -18 degrees Celsius. This means that it can continue to snow but it won't be icy on the roads.

So what happens when it's more that -18 degrees Celsius outside? Adding salt to the roads won't work. That's when we add gravel and dirt to the roads to help with traction, but you've just got to deal with the snow and ice. I've heard tales of those who live up north. They drive on snow and ice all winter. That's cold!


"Go to College!"

The other day as Oliver and I were running errands, we saw a big truck in the parking lot. And because trucks are a big deal these days, I took him up to touch the lights and the wheels. As we neared the truck, we saw the driver in the back unloading boxes.

"Looks like he likes the truck," the driver yelled to us.

"Yep, he sure does," I responded back.

"Tell him to 'go to college'," he said.

Sure thing, I thought.


Books Read in 2011

Below is a list of the books I read this year, with my ranking from 1 -4.
1 = poor,
2 = okay,
3 = I liked it,
4 = I'd buy it for my library

Before taking a look at my list, I must make a disclaimer. I've found that suggesting books for people is kind of a tricky business. Every person's likes or dislikes of a book are very different regardless of how great a friend they may be or how well you feel you know them. Plus, one never knows what line is drawn for acceptable content and whatnot. Not that I'm all into swear words, but you know what I mean.

And now for the list in alphabetical order:

A Room with a View = 3
  • Atonement = 2
  • Born on a Blue Day = 4
  • Born to Run = 4
  • Cannery Row = 2
  • Catching Fire = 3
  • Gershwin: His life and music = 4
  • Lizard Music = 3
  • Mockingjay = 3
  • The Color of Water = 4
  • The Color Purple = 3
  • The Glass Castle = 4
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society = 2
  • The Help = 3
  • The Hunger Games = 3
  • The Lost Symbol = 3
  • The Princess Bride = 4
  • The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio = 4
  • These is My Words = 4
  • Three Cups of Tea = 4
  • Now onto 2011! My first book is a mystery.


First post o' 2011

A late HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!

We rang out the old year with a huzzah and brought in the new year with a hurrah! Our holiday was wonderful. Some of the hight points include:

- visiting the newly dressed Provo house (looks superb!)and "breaking into" said house while scaring the tenants and ourselves (sorry guys)
- fixing Christmas dinner with a great group of people and bringing the spiral ham (you know you are gaining responsibility when you are in charge of bringing "the ham")
- opening presents in front of those viewing the festivities via Skype (we missed you guys, but thanks to technology)

- dancing while your family chants "boring" to buy some time in a wild game involving kipper snacks, izzy pop, chocolate cones, mystery gifts, and the proverbial stocking

- eating Sausalito chowder as Oliver has fun with cousins and I talk to family about important things like how Miley Cyrus has changed over the years
- enjoying well-produced films at the film fest whilst ingesting JFranks dawgs

and those are just tidbits of good times from our holiday. What a grand time. Now we're ready for 2011.