I haven’t had much time for blogging lately, thanks to the stomach bug that will not LEAVE MY HOUSE. In lieu of an update that would mainly consist of describing how miserable we have all been in various stages over the last week, here are some interesting articles I’ve read recently:
Raising a Son within the Princess Culture – Interesting take on something I hadn’t considered. “Girl power” is awesome, but how does it affect boys?
Family Inc. – I’m not sure I would enjoy running my family exactly “like a business” as this article describes, but I do like the idea of weekly family meetings once Emma and any theoretical siblings are old enough.
Stop Payment. Now Stop It Again. and When you stop a check, you really don’t. - Did you know that stopping payment a check — at least in Texas — is only good for 180 days? And there is no way to indefinitely stop payment on a check other than renew the stop payment request every 6 months (which of course requires you to pay a fee each time)? And that while the bank doesn’t have to cash a “stale” check, they also don’t have to NOT cash it? I discovered all this today when I went to stop payment on the check for our yearly Homeowner’s Association dues, which has either been lost in the mail or lost by the HOA. I’m completely dumbfounded to discover that there is no way to permanently stop payment on a lost check.
This snippet of an interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in which he talks about an encounter he had with Carl Sagan as a high school student, is less than 2 minutes long but incredibly inspiring.
And while we’re talking about astronomy, I saw this video on Alicia’s blog. It’s a great summary of what goes into creating one of the fantastic Hubble telescope images.
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Discovery Channel is currently airing a show on Friday nights called Flying Wild Alaska. It’s a really interesting show in its own right, but Jose and I are particularly interested because it follows a family that lives in Unalakleet — a tiny, tiny village on the west coast of Alaska that just happens to be the hometown of Jose’s good friend Meryl. (It was Meryl’s wedding that took us to Alaska — though not Unalakleet — in 2008.)
It’s crazy to think that I know someone who grew up on what’s basically the modern day equivalent of the frontier. You can’t get there by road — only by airplane or snowmobile. And the winters there have to be CRAZY cold.
A month ago, I started listening to NPR on my way to and from work. I used to do this, but when I got satellite radio in my car a few years ago I fell out of the habit, and spent my 20-30 minute drive listening to music instead. That was perfectly fine, but I forgot what I was missing.
So NPR is back on my radio, and I love it. I know that critics will argue that NPR is a hugely biased liberal news outlet, and perhaps that’s true, but it doesn’t change the fact that I enjoy the stories they showcase. I enjoy hearing both the news highlights AND more in-depth coverage of interesting issues, and almost as importantly, I enjoy NOT hearing ad nauseam about the latest antics of the celebrity du jour.
Earlier this week, All Things Considered had an interview with the man who directed An Inconvenient Truth. His latest documentary is called Waiting for Superman, which takes a look at the current state of public education in the United States. (Spoiler: it’s bad.) It centers on four students who are trying to get into charter schools via a lottery; if they don’t get in, they will have to go to their local school with high dropout rates, low test scores, etc. I embedded the trailer above, and the interview I heard on the radio is available online, if you are interested. The film is only in limited release right now, and limited release roughly translates to “Not In Houston.” Hopefully it will make it here at some point!
Yesterday, Jose sent me the link to the Mom Houston blog, which posted trailers for Waiting for Superman as well as three other upcoming documentaries about public education. (Side note: I hadn’t even mentioned the NPR story or the documentary to Jose. He independently saw it and sent it to me saying “I want to see this.” This kind of thing happens all the time. I love that we are so often on the same wavelength. Awwwww.)
This one, Race to Nowhere, intrigues me as well because while it also seems to be making the point that public education is failing children, it reaches that conclusion from a completely different approach — arguing that kids are under too much pressure, that they are not allowed to make mistakes, that they have their innate love of learning zapped out of them by a poorly run system. This one also isn’t available in Houston at the moment. SIGH.
One documentary argues that good kids aren’t given good opportunities, while the other argues that good kids are under too much pressure. Quite a contrast.
I was surfing OneEighteen’s Flickr stream last night, especially one fantastic set of photos taken from his “office window.” That might sound boring, expect his office happens to be the pilot’s seat of the huge freighters that travel along the Houston Ship Channel. He’s a harbor pilot who takes ships along the 6-hour trip that stretches from inside the I-610 bridge, down the channel, through Galveston Bay, and past the jetties in Galveston.
Many of his shots feature amazing skies — clouds, sun, lightning, fog, etc. In the descriptions for a couple of them that featured big, puffy white clouds, he referred to them as being “in season.” It made me smile, because it’s such a great way to describe it. The best thing about summertime in Houston is the sky. It changes rapidly, but it always goes from one interesting thing to another. The old “everything’s bigger in Texas” really rings true, and the fact that the landscape is so flat in this area means you get huge, 360-degree views of whatever happens to be going on.
The four photos above were all taken within a 30-minute span yesterday morning on my way to work. There was sun, and big puffy white thunderheads, and ominous gray skies — all in the same sky. If it’s going to be a zillion degrees outside, at least there’s something cool to see!
I spent some time catching up on my RSS feeds last night and was interested and mystified to read this post on the Wired Science blog: the San Francisco Pier 39 sea lions have disappeared! They were a big tourist attraction at the already touristy pier. Whenever anyone came to visit during the year I was at Stanford, we inevitably went to check out the sea lions and laugh as they lazily lounged on the pier, occasionally sounding an “arf arf arf” to their sea lion buddies. The last time I saw them was in 2005 when I was in San Francisco for a work-related conference. The piers weren’t teeming with sea lions at that particular time, as you can see, but there was still a crowd.
They first arrived in 1990 and have been a constant presence, in growing numbers, for 20 years. Last year, they set a new record for the number of sea lions there — and now, just as abruptly, they left! This fascinates me. Did they just get tired of the area? Did the number of fish go down? Did they decide they were tired of fog?? So strange!
The Pier 39 website is optimistic, saying they expect the sea lions to return later this year, but the quotes in the Wired article indicate that marine scientists really don’t know much about them, and can’t promise anything. Maybe they’ll return; maybe they won’t.
And a couple days ago, USA Today reported that the sea lions have been found — 500 miles north in a cove full of anchovies! Of course they don’t know for sure if the sea lions that suddenly showed up in Oregon in December are the same animals that suddenly left San Francisco in November, but it seems highly likely.
So I went to the clinic on Monday for my yearly checkup as well as flight physical for my Vomit Comet flight this fall, and discovered two interesting things. (Well, interesting to me, but probably not to you. Oh well.)
My resting heart rate is 52 beats per minute, which I think is pretty good. It’s no Lance Armstrong with his 32 bpm, but hey, we can’t all win the Tour de France. Considering that the average for a women is somewhere around 70-75 bpm, I was pretty excited to find that mine is only 52. If you’d asked me, I would have guessed in the 60s because that’s the lowest I’ve ever seen my heart rate monitor go. But of course I’m not wearing my monitor when I wake up in the morning and haven’t started moving.
So my resting heart rate is great, and my “active” heart rate is still crazy. When running at my 5K race pace (anywhere between 10 and 11 minutes per mile, depending on how in shape I am), my heart rate averages 180+ bpm. Theoretically I shouldn’t be able to maintain that, but I do.
I also had an EKG and got the usual feedback: something normal “with sinus arrhythmia.” I’ve seen that sinus arrhythmia thing before and never bothered to look it up, because no doctor has ever told me it was a problem. I finally remembered the term this time and Googled it. Turns out it is a fairly normal term that simply describes how my heart rate speeds up when I breathe and slows down when I breathe out. It’s actually a phenomenon I’d noticed before when taking my heart rate, so now I have the proper terminology to go along with my observation.
And in other health news, I finally made an appointment with the orthopedic doctor to get my knee checked out at last. Same doctor that helped me with my dislocated knee almost five years ago. (The dislocated one was my left knee; it’s my right knee that’s currently giving me the slight issues.) I’m going in on Monday afternoon, so we’ll see what he says. It was aching again last night despite not having run or biked in almost two weeks. Stupid knee.