Sunday, January 30, 2011

Too much fun . . .

 . . . to notice how cold it is.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Three Sentence Book Review: Deliver Us From Evil, David Baldacci

I wanted to try a popular modern novel, so I looked to this local (D.C.) author to see how the new stuff stacks up against all the so-called classics I've been reading.  This is definitely not a classic and never will be.  In fact, it's a bad rip-off of a truly classic short story by Richard Connell, The Most Dangerous Game, though it's about 10 times longer to accommodate all the sensationalism.

(Any suggestions for new literature - say the last 10 years - that is super good?  I'm going to continue on my quest to read the classics, but I'm open to more contemporary works that have literary merit.  Suzy is pushing me to read the "Shopaholic" series, but I'm not sure it's my cup of tea.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vote Darius!

We've gushed about our friend Darius many times, but we're just so proud of him.  We first met Darius at church about 5 or 6 years ago, and we're so glad to have him as our friend (Tenny says he's his brother).  And we're so proud of him for working hard to develop his talents.  Darius recently auditioned for DC CAP's college scholarship award, and the next phase of the competition involves online voting - here.  Good luck, Darius!  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

May I Have a Word?

If you're not very familiar with the PBS Kids show "Word Girl," then we suggest watching this before watching this:

Couch potato or genius?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Velma Gratch & The Way Cool Butterfly

Remember Danny, our friend that makes us ask ourselves why we weren't given any talents, but who's too nice to hate for it?  Well, he's at it again.  He and his co-conspirator Michelle have written a new musical, "Velma Gratch," based on the children's book by the same name, and he tells me it's "for kids ages 3-8, though people bring babies and toddlers to the show as well."   Suzy and I gasp simultaneously:  "We can go to the theater again?"  So, count us in.  It will be showing every weekend at the Vital Theatre (76th & Broadway, NYC) from now through February 27.  All the info is here.  We're sooo excited!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Capitol Snow

It snowed in the Nation's Capitol earlier this week, and I went out around midnight to try to capture how beautiful the city is when it snows.  After the storm started to break, the sky turned a lovely purple hue, and the remaining low clouds were lit orange by the city lights.  I was particularly excited that I got to trek all over the Capitol grounds with my tripod.  The Capitol Police usually become apoplectic if you set up a tripod anywhere near the Capitol grounds without a permit (and they don't give permits to amateurs like me), but evidently the snow and bitter cold drained them of all zeal because they just watched me wander around for over 30 minutes and never moved an inch.  In fact, depending on your screen size, if you click on the image to see the enlarged version you can actually see two Capitol Police officers looking right at me (consider this the patriotic version of "Where's Waldo?").

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Our Cute Boys

Tait's Crawling
(But only backwards.  For a month now.  He's just happy that he can get to where he wants to go, even if he has to point his bum at it first.) 

Tenny's Sweet as Honey
(Yesterday morning, he woke up before the rest of us, snuck downstairs, and came back with a surprise for daddy:  breakfast in bed, consisting of two cold slices of bread with a dab of honey on each.  So cute.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Three Sentence Book Review: Slaughter House Five, Kurt Vonnegut

This anti-war-meets-science-fiction classic makes for a wild ride back and forth between the Dresden  Firebombing and the alien planet of Tralfamadore.  Weaving between brilliant and juvenile, funny and solemn, sweet and disgusting, bold and mundane, Vonnegut's artistic style is about all that snatches this story from the common reductio ad absurdum of the trivial reality that war is bad.  Having said that, it contains the most interesting anti-war imagery I've read when it describes the main character, Billy Pilgrim, watching a World War II movie backwards:

American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England.  Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen.  They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.
The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames.  The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes.  The containers were stored neatly in racks.  The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes.  They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes.  But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair.  Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.
 When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals.  Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work.  The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas.  It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.
The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids again. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sitting at the Dock of . . .

I get a lot of questions about these Wee Planet images, especially about how I do it and when I do it.  As to how, it's actually a bit complicated.  There's a decent tutorial here, though it's a bit outdated, involves more computer programming than I'm used to, and you'll probably have to make the Google your best friend to figure it out.   Basically, you stand in one spot, take a picture of everything you can see (including the sky above and the ground below), and then stitch all of those pictures together to make an equirectangular panorama (pretty much a flat, rectangular panoramic image).  That image will be a distorted mess, but you can then do some computing magic (I use a program called Hugin) to turn that panorama into a stereographic projection, which gives you a 360x180 degree view from the place you were standing.  In the above image, I was standing at the end of the dock.  I stitched together about 25 shots to get this image.  As to when I do these, I usually cram it in between midnight and 7am -- hobby time.  It's kind of fun trying to get these right, and, when they're done right (which I'm still trying to achieve), I think they're really interesting images.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

7 Months

Tait - so cute that he's still cute when reflecting in the silly mirrors at IKEA.  We're totally in love with this kid!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 Merry Christmas from Tenny and Tait

We had a wonderful, relaxing holiday season with Grandma Stewart.  One of the reasons Christmas was so great this year is that Tennyson was super cute for a month leading up to the big day, and then was bursting with excitement the entire Christmas day.  It made Christmas so much fun for the rest of us.

Tenny's Letter and Cookies for Santa

And, since the boys were so good this year, Santa kept his part of the bargain.  (And thanks to the grandparents, family, and friends who hooked up our boys!)

We ate an enormous amount of good food, and Tennyson won the wishbone breaking ceremony (so now he gets to fly to the moon on "the biggest dipper in the whole world").


And then we visited lots of fun sites, including:

(1) Holiday sites in DC, like the Capitol Christmas Tree

(where we tried to reenact the giant tree, but couldn't quite place baby Tait as the angel on top);

(2) Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key penned the Star Spangled Banner (and since he was a lawyer, we're guessing he billed the U.S. by the hour for his work);

and (3) Philadelphia, where we toured Congress Hall to see where the U.S. Congress met in the late 1700s, as well as Independence Hall to see where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were drafted.

Senate Room in Congress Hall

Independence Hall

Tennyson took advantage of the big snowstorm in Philly to make his first one-foot-tall snowman this winter.  (And yes, that smile is photo-shopped onto Frosty, because Tennyson was very upset when he saw the picture and realized he had forgot to make a mouth.)

As for resolutions:  In 2010, we resolved to dance more.  We actually did quite well -- Tennyson took ballet lessons, and we generally tried to dance whenever the music prompted.  Our favorite dance of the year, though, was next to the parked car on an off-ramp near Parowan, Utah, where we danced to Jeremy's serenade while the sun set and the kids slept in the back seat.  In 2011, we resolve to: (1) improve our living conditions (i.e., finally decide the question we've been debating for years of whether we should buy a home, rent a new apartment, or improve our current apartment - suggestions welcome); and (2) learn how to make good portrait photographs.

Happy 2011 to all our friends and family!