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).