April 05, 2008
New York by Proxy

Hi, all. This is an open request for any reader(s) I may have in the NYC area.

Have you seen or might you see Simon Lovell's weekly Saturday evening magic performance, Strange and Unusual Hobbies? As a student of magic, I've enjoyed his lecture notes, but I've never had the chance to see him in person. He seems like quite the entertainer.

I'd love to hear a review from any of my friends or passers-by to this site. It may be another year or two before business takes me back to NYC, but I can live vicariously through y'all in the meantime.

Thanks!

Posted by at 05:01 AM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (1)
 April 06, 2008
Nolan at Thirty-Six months

We're coming up on Nolan's third birthday, and it occurs to me that a little gratuitous facetime with Nolan might be in order.

As I may have mentioned recently, we moved our office from one end of town to the other. Circumstances conspired to bring me back to our old neighborhood a couple of days ago, and I went into my favorite sushi joint for some lunch.

Look! A camera!The woman behind the counter remembered me. I'd been a semi-regular since they opened, and I would frequently bring in Nolan, who, because of quirks in our schedules, would often be visiting me during lunch time while Paulette attended to issues at work. According to the lady who always takes my order (a large California roll, fwiw), the "kitchen staff" simply loves Nolan, and they would often throw in some extra (small) California roll for him, as well. (I suspect that the kitchen staff in question is actually the owner of the joint, but I've never confirmed.)

Sure enough, on this recent trip, even though Nolan wasn't with me, they remembered him and after my meal, they sent me away with a takeaway order for him, as well, no charge.

This kind of affection for either of my kids truly warms the cockles of my heart. [I just looked up "cockle", which turns out to be either a kind of clam or a weedy plant. I didn't know my heart had clams or weeds, but there's always some truth to proverbs, no?]

Nolan is at that age right now where he freely shows me signs of affection, as well, and I enjoy them every chance I get. When I come home, he runs to the door, announcing "Daddy's here!" and gives me a welcome hug. Often, in the middle of the night, he calls out for one reason or another, and after I attend to the issue at hand (blankets need to be fixed, or he wants water, whatever), he snuggles himself back to sleep with an "I love you" for me on the way. I simply melt. (Then again, if you're an insomniac like me, and are further having your sleep interrupted by kids calling out in the middle of the night, you might be emotionally susceptible, too.)

His speech is improving by leaps and bound, and he has had to be moved up to the next size in clothes and sneakers, which combines to make a formidable impression of a kid on the grow. He has a delightfully serious manner of speaking, with an innocent smile and open good humor.

His so-called "terrible twos" haven't been all that much of a problem, and he appears to have already left them behind. He's a bit more reserved than his older brother, and definitely more of a climber. Paulette thinks he's likely to be more athletic than Alex (who is pretty athletic as it is), and I agree. That's one thing I'm particularly enjoying about our kids; they both generally have a pleasant disposition, but they nonetheless have different personalities.

His eyes have remained blue thus far (even though that isn't obvious in the photo I'm attaching to this entry), and he's as blond as I ever was at that age. He's looking forward to becoming a "big brother," and he's made a friend or two in the neighborhood independently of Alex, which is also good to see.

I have no experience with middle siblings, insofar as I've never been one nor had any, but it's important to me to make sure that Nolan continues to get attention and encouragement as an individual as well as part of the clan. As it is, it's exciting to see him come into his own.

Posted by at 03:00 AM in the following Department(s): The Boys | Comments (1)
 April 18, 2008
The Most Dangerous City in America

My wife and I often enjoy picking up college courses recorded by The Teaching Company. We recently picked up a new geology course that has the latest research on the state of the field these days.

Wow, what a fascinating topic. It's amazing how much there is to learn, and how we know what we know, and how the development of the field has affected our understanding of biology, cosmology, and so on.

We picked up the course on DVD (some courses are also available in audio-only formats), figuring that the visual nature of the lectures might be of interest to our budding young scientist, Alexander. By way of planning for an upcoming family outing to Mt. St. Helen's, we skipped ahead to a lecture regarding the eruption of this volcano in 1980.

The volcano and its activity since its most recent eruption are fascinating, but the lecturer also went into the tectonic activity that makes this region ripe for a catastrophic earthquake. I've known for years now that when Mt. Rainier blows, we'll likely have a couple of months warning, but the eruption could produce lava flows (floes?) as far north as Seattle. In fact, we live in an area that was partially hit by Rainier two eruptions ago.

[For those who don't know: Mt. St. Helen's is south of Rainier, putting it closer to Portland, OR, but still rather nearby.]

What I didn't know was that our local region was wiped out by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake just over three hundred years ago. Because of the way the Juan de Fuca fault works here, we are already entering the "danger zone" for the next catastrophic quake. That said, it's more likely that the next big one will hit in 100 to 200 years (these big'uns tend to hit four-hundred to five-hundred years apart), but we're still entering dangerous geological times.

The instructor of the course gave a compelling argument that Seattle and Portland are likely to be destroyed within the next couple of hundred years.

This isn't necessarily as scary as it sounds. History contains several examples of cities destroyed by a catastrophic event, only to be rebuilt. Such examples include San Francisco after it's big earthquake (and subsequent fire) of 1906 and the devastation of Tokyo and Yokohama following the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake.

Then again, the above mentioned earthquakes measured a mere 8.0 on the Richter scale, and they *did* kill hundreds of thousands of people. I don't know if I'd necessarily prefer to be hanging around when a 9.0 hits. While Seattle and the surrounding areas will certainly be rebuilt following a major volcanic eruption or earthquake, I might be inclined to miss the main event that leads up to a new and improved city.

For all that, though, when it comes to being the most dangerous city in America, Seattle certainly stakes a strong claim, geologically speaking.

Los Angeles, eat your heart out.

Posted by at 02:30 AM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (1)

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